Saturday, May 17, 2008

And we're off!
The conference has started with a rousing welcome from Tina Jacobowitz, chair of our Department.

Dana's keynote opens with a discussion of the logo for our conference--a sunflower in close-up--and how technology itself is and should always be viewed as developing and growing. She then talks us through a brief history of personal computing in her own life--from an early Mac to playing Oregon Trail at school. She tells us about her first teaching job: working with urban middle school students in a balanced literacy program using 20 laptops. The laptops and internet connection were the result of another teacher's forward-thinking project; and this teacher was no longer at the school.... She reminds us how mobile phones looked in 1998--huge!--and how a small squirrel managed to get her classes offline for one week by chewing through one cable. Dana found herself suddenly having to learn how to fix the labs in her classroom, as well as deal with an onslaught of other teachers suddenly wanting to use her set of 20 laptops when the school's library was shut down for a long period. In this school, students were able to take these latops home with them overnight--where they engaged their parents in learning how to use a dial-up modem, how to word-process etc.

Dana then spoke about the changes she's witnessed over the past 10 years--including how theories have needed to change in order to better account for changing social and learning practices. she reminds us that the itnernet is not at all hierarchical, but is thoroughly networked and interconnected. Her next set of slides contrast wonderfully with her earlier ones as she shows pics of tiny mp3 players and an iPhone.

She draws on Friedman's claims regarding ta flat world to discuss the increasing extent to which we are connected and interconnected, and the ways in which new technolgies have and are shaping our world.

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