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Accelerating Time Online

According to the polling group Harris Interactive, adult internet users are now spending an average of 13 hours online per week.

From 7 hours average use in 1999 to between 8-9 hours from 2003-2006 and 11 hours in 2007, this latest increase to 13 hours is somewhat analogous to the increase in home broadband penetration in the US. An April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home, a 15% increase from a year earlier.

The age groups that spend the most time online are those aged 30-39 (18 hours) and those aged 25-29 (17 hours) and 40-49 (17 hours).

What sort of future does this portend for your students when they’re adults? 

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Social Innovation Conversations on Education

As a huge fan of podcasting -- and a long-time podcaster myself -- I gravitate toward content that makes me think. No question that the iTunes store has tens of thousands of podcasts, but I've consistently found the Conversations Network to be the single best resource for discovering thought leader podcasts and new ideas by the truckload.

While some of the IT Conversations are so deeply technical that they're beyond my understanding, this was the first podcast "channel" I discovered and would listen to these as I traveled back and forth to work, and almost every day I'd walk in to our building with at least one new idea!

The Social Innovation Conversations "channel" is one that includes an education focus and you can setup a free account on the site, subscribe via iTunes (link) or through this RSS feed if you have a different type of audio player. Below you'll see their "widget" that is actually sized for a blog sidebar, but so you can see more of each audio title name -- and click to sample the recordings -- I made it larger and would encourage you to give them a listen.


The Internet Archive

While at a meeting in the Golden Gate Club building in the Presidio in San Francisco, I was gazing directly at the headquarters of the Internet Archive, housed in Building 4. My mind kept wandering to the incredible resource that was created and delivered within that structure and knew I had to go there right after my session was over.

So you have an appreciation of why I was so compelled to go there and the resource the internet archive represents, a little background is in order and they describe their mission on their ’about’ page:

Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world. Many early movies were recycled to recover the silver in the film.

The Library of Alexandria - an ancient center of learning containing a copy of every book in the world - was eventually burned to the ground. Even now, at the turn of the 21st century, no comprehensive archives of television or radio programs exist. But without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what Danny Hillis has referred to as our “digital dark age”.

“The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other “born-digital” materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1996 and the volume of digitized content is quietly being amassed by the volunteers and staff dedicated to what many of us believe is one of the most worthwhile endeavors for future generations. 

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For 2010: Apple iPad, 300,000 iPhone Apps & More

If you’ve been paying attention to technology rumors, an Apple tablet (i.e., “iPad”) is at the top of many people’s list for most likely rumor to become reality next year. But when I read a recently published iPad prediction along with the number “300,000″ as a baseline prediction for the number of iPhone applications by the end of 2010, I was intrigued.

Continuing my reading found me focusing on an acceleration in something called “socialityc” applications which is a new category that fuses traditional analytic business applications along with social and collaboration software and how big this category as becoming since so many of us have shifted our attention away from virtually all traditional media sources toward new and social media ones. 

The key? These predictions had come from the well respected, global technology analyst firm IDC which is the real reason I sat up and took notice.

Why should you care? You might not if you were unaffected by the recent economic downturn and your community is giving you money without a referendum. You might not care if you aren’t experiencing any disruption, new opportunities or benefits from the internet or web. But if you have an interest in what is most likely to occur with technology in 2010, read on. 

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Reading Instruction Rewires Student Brains

One of the most exciting aspects of our internet age is the almost instant dissemination of key research, findings and breakthroughs. Though scientists always caution the public to be careful about leaping to conclusions when some intriguing analysis or research study is published, but it's tough to hold back when it comes to the field of neuroscience, a field with accelerating breakthroughs due, in part, to magnetic imaging machines now allowing researchers to see what's occurring in the brain as it functions.

Ever wonder whether hard evidence would ever appear (beyond testing, of course) that your intense instruction could physically change the brains of your students and increase performance?

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging have discovered the first evidence that a focused teaching on reading skills in young children causes the brain to physically rewire itself by creating completely new white matter that accelerates cognitive function and protects that communication within the brain.

Timothy Keller and Marcel Just, scientists at CMU, scanned children's brains with magnetic resonance imagers (MRI) machines so as to understand whether 100 hours of intensive remedial reading instruction affected the white matter of 8 to 10 year old poor readers...

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Acrobat in Education

As I pay attention to the strategic and tactical moves of the major players in computing -- Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, to name a few -- there is no question that the struggles to be the dominant provider in a cloud computing world is far from settled.

With their proprietary approach to the runtime outputs from their various tools (e.g., Flash) coupled with what they're delivering to mainstream computing with PDF, for example, it's been interesting to watch the continued evolution in tools and capabilities surrounding all of these companies, but Adobe stands out in education, especially in the area of PDF and how they've extended it to the cloud.

When I first saw a technology called "Carousel" at the Federal Office Systems Expo in Washington, D.C. in the 1990's -- which later shipped as something called the Portable Document Format or "PDF" -- I was thrilled to see a cross-platform, runtime file format that would make it extremely easy to deliver a digital document to others that would retain the formatting and fidelity intended by the creator of that document.

We know the positive results of the PDF format, right? But did you know that there have been major strides in the free Adobe Reader software that is perfect for education? 

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MVU Online Learning Symposium

Pew Internet is one of my favorite resources for understanding the accelerating change we're living in the midst of right now. It is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. They produce a bunch of excellent (and free, I might add) reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

While there just now, I came across this Networked Learners page and saw that Lee Raine, Pew Internet director, is one of two keynote speakers at an upcoming symposium I've never attended. It looks very interesting and, for the first time this year, is being offered with an online attendance option.

In his opening keynote, “Networked Learners,” Lee Rainie will discuss the latest findings of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project about how teenagers and young adults have embraced technology of all kinds — including broadband, cell phones, gaming devices and MP3 players. He will describe how technology has affected the way “digital natives” search for, gather and act on information. 

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Are You Good at Parental Communication?

Fascinating conversation over this holiday weekend with an individual who is an executive in a sizable company. It surrounded communications and collaboration in his organization during a time of accelerating change – and technologies such as wiki’s, VoIP, Twitter, social networks and more – and then it came around to this blog on Scholastic Administrator and how I’ve been driving hard the notion of the importance of enhanced collaboration in K-12 with a focus on better parental communication.

He blurted out, "What parental communication? Do you mean once a term conferences and an occasional email? What a joke. If I ran my business by letting my managers do whatever they wanted for months and then let me know if the employees under their management are succeeding or failing once per quarter, we’d be out of business! We must be able to make frequent and constant course corrections in order to stay headed down the path of success."

Not prepared for his passionate outburst, I made certain I understood what he wanted and expected. "We have in place all sorts of means to ensure that I, and my other leaders, are fully informed and constantly on top of changes and progress. From GANTT charts in project plans to Powerpoint updates to notifications by email/text message or phone calls, it's a constant stream of communication that ensures I'm able to measure and manage that progress. All I ask is that my son's school help me measure and manage my son's progress and not simply give me a login to a "portal" with grades posted that, in many cases, are too late to affect.

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Thanksgiving from a Native American's Perspective

Every year my son and I go on a "Dad & Son Adventure", picking some place we both think would be interesting, would have fun things to do, and be experiential. When he was younger we'd rent a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior, but as he's aged we've branched out to New York, Chicago, Arizona, California and, in a bit of a twist in 2005, Rapid City, South Dakota over spring break when he was eleven.

I know what you're probably thinking, "Why Rapid City, SD and why there in April?" along with, "...and what does this have to do with Accelerating Change and education?" Let me explain.

Turns out he was jealous of his older sister who was heading to Peru on a school trip with her Spanish class, and so I wanted to take him somewhere on an airplane and Rapid City was going to have temperatures in the 60's, would be inexpensive (we flew out using frequent flyer miles) and my hidden agenda is that it would be educational for him.

Unbeknownst to me I'd be the one to get the education and blogging about the experience upon our return would connect me to people whom I'd never expected to interact with at any point, and widen the circle of people who were touched by my learning.

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Technology Natives, Videogames & Learning

Gamers When I wrote the post, "Videogames and Positive Reinforcement" about videogaming and what "digital natives" demand for iterative learning today, I received several emails from people I know, and interesting conversations ensued, about which companies are delivering on the sorts of learning gaming I'd discussed. 

As a consequence, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for innovative companies delivering educational learning games that take a different approach from traditional learning games and focus on successive and iterative failures and positive reinforcement of success.

Quantum Learning Technologies is a company whose approach to educational gaming is on target and their approach is articulated in their mission statement, "To provide online educational programs that teach strategies which enable students to become better readers and critical, creative thinkers" and that their organization, "[...] meets the needs of today's learners - "Technology Natives" - through scientifically developed and proven cognitive-based learning approaches."

As I initially poked around their site, I was struck by the pedestrian nature of the layout of it and thought, "Oh...they're just another educational gaming company." But after watching several of the video tours and trying the games out for myself, I quickly saw that they offered something quite different than what's come before. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Accelerating Change are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.