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Dave’s cool list

The winners were announced at the Edublogs Award ceremony last weekend.  That’s always fun.  But my very favorite part of the event is Dave Cormier’s annual Top Ten EdTech Stories List (the first one I’ve seen this year).

For the past three years (or so) Dave’s forced me to reflect on the big changes, as well as the pace of change.  And over these three years, everything has changed.

10. Connectivism:
Dave notes, "Connecting is the only way we can succeed in the world of edtech. This year’s theme for the top 10 list is connecting and the forces of bad that are trying to stop us from sharing."
Yes, Dave, those of us who CONNECTED, especially this year, recognize how dramatically our learning has expanded, how our professional networks have grown.  But as I travel and talk to other educators I recognize how many of us–teachers and learners–cannot yet connect from our schools.  I recognize how many do not yet see the potential.

9. Year of me realizing that I’m not a lawyer
A variety of legal issues popped up this year that include the ‘resolution’ to the Blackboard owning the internet problem.

Dave points to legal confusion relating to copyleft, copyright and copycenter.  The fair use confusion appears to be coming to a head with the release of new studies and reports.  Open source options like Moodle provide competition for Blackboard.  This year, for me, was the year that everyone began to discover a proliferation of Creative Commons and copyright friendly materials as options to help my students avoid those legal implications.  This was also the year those free Web-based apps and open source alternatives gained true mainstream popularity.

8. Ustream
If you haven’t yet tried this new production and sharing tool, it’s absolutely time to explore. Ustream is:

platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. Anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can use Ustream to broadcast to a global audience.

Using Ustream, Dave has:

been in people’s classrooms, in their meetings, and streamed myself out to a variety of places around the world. 4 months ago I’d never heard of it, now I’m slowly learning how to watch three videos at the same time on the same screen.

7. Ted Stevens Alert! Banning social networks!
Dave reminds us of the efforts of Senator Ted Stevens, who in January introduced Senate Bill 49, which may require schools and libraries getting Federal Internet subsidies  to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs and sites like Wikipedia, as well. The bill is know as Baby DOPA, or son of DOPA, or DOPA Jr. and you can track its progress at

Dave worries about the global impact:

new babydopa Bill 49 is tearing it’s way into the American educational system again… and, to preempt the US centrism critique from last year (you know who you are), as the US educational system goes, sadly many of us follow.

Perhaps we are ready for a new type of bill, one that focuses on educating students.  See this recent SLJ story on House funding bill H.R. 4134.  The House bill would appropriate $25 million with the nonprofit, i-SAFE specifically named as a recipient.

SLJ also points to a Senate bill that:

offers an open grant competition "to provide for age-appropriate Internet education." Activists and groups not named as recipients of guaranteed funds have banded together into a coalition pushing for the Senate version of the bill. They include the Consortium for School Networking, the Family Online Safety Institute,, and others.

We are likely to see some scrambling on the part of online safety organizations as they compete for grant funding.  Connect this story to item #1 on Dave’s list.

6. Cape Town Declaration. 
This one was completely new to me. The Cape Town Open Education Declaration proposes guidelines to unlock the promise of open educational resources. Dave suggests they guidelines are: intended to sow happy, connected working togetherness.  But he’s observed a ripple of dissent and agreement across the blogosphere. Share my way! Share my way now!  Let’s keep an eye of this one.

5. The evils of bad timing. Vista/Amazon – Woohoo!
Dave describes two corporate missteps–Windows’ Vista’s messy issues and Amazon’s plans to charge us $400 bucks for the privilege of buying their digitized books.  (Darn it, Dave. I have to confess. I may wait a bit, but I still want a Kindle.)

4. CHEAPO computers in 3rd world–Computer wars
Dave points to OLPC’s (One Laptop Per Child) windmill tilting, noting that it forced everyone else in the computer industry to drive down their own entry level offerings toward the $200 mark.  He calls this effort a nice corporate bidding game shielded under the guise of third world revitalization, but he recognizes the potential of this effort to connect huge numbers of the formerly unconnected.

3. Choice
Dave notes: I can’t be everywhere. Every educator is having to decide where they will stake ground. To twitter or not to twitter.
This is the story that resonates loudest with me.  Some folks in this 2.0 universe truly seem to be able to be everywhere.  I can no longer make every interesting Webcast.  I can’t Twitter everyday.  I read fewer blogs than I once did.  I give in.  I can’t keep keeping up.  I am learning to accept that keeping up enough may be enough.  I am also learning that when I log off at 9 PM, my world of tech awareness does not collapse.

2. Twitter
Dave says,Twitter has brought new meaning to "connected." I now know when people are getting out of bed, what they put in their coffee, and how good the cleaning staff is at their schools. 

This one would definitely be on the top of my own top ten list.  This microblogging strategy has changed how I operate.  Sure my Twitter network provides a lot of meaningless (but sometimes entertaining) tweets.  It also feeds me with new applications to introduce at school, issues to think and blog about, the webcasts and podcasts I need to see and hear.

1. Tom Wood.
Dave describes this school boy hacker and filter buster as an Internet warrior, his new personal hero. The Australian student cracked the $80 million dollar government-sponsored porn filter in 30 minutes.

I met and chatted with 16-year-old Tom on EdTechTalk.  This young man is now consulting with the Australian government on larger issues–developing educational strategies relating to online safety and cyberbullying and the need to establish a youth-involved forum. Tom represents millions of tech-savvy kids whose voices, and interests, and concerns, we will no longer be able to ignore as more and more laptops find their ways into our classrooms.

I wonder how long it will be before students here respond in similar ways.  I also wonder if Tom might have found another way to affect change, if he might have found allies among his friends, teachers, and librarians and begun a movement within (or outside of) the system.

So, what’s your own top edtech story of the year?

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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