Sunday, July 31, 2011

Photographs from the SOS March in Washington, DC 2011

by Shelly Blake-Plock

Was in DC yesterday for the SOS March.

Nice mixture of people (and opinions) on the Ellipse. Still getting my head around everything I heard and saw and I promise a post soon. In the meantime, here are some photographs I snapped; thanks to everybody for the kind conversation throughout the day.

Wisconsin teachers at #SOSmarch. #edchat on Twitpic

Teachers from Frederick, MD at #SOSmarch. on Twitpic

Arizona teachers at #SOSmarch... on Twitpic

Just say no to Rheeform. #SOSmarch #edchat on Twitpic

NEA reps and the Washington Monument at #SOSmarch. on Twitpic

Our children deserve... #SOSmarch #edchat on Twitpic

Marching. #SOSmarch #edchat on Twitpic

Duncan SoNuts #SOSmarch #edchat #BestSignEver on Twitpic

CNN interviewing teachers in front of the White House. #SOSma... on Twitpic

Students in front of White House. #SOSmarch #edchat on Twitpic

Friday, July 29, 2011

On Best Practices

by Shelly Blake-Plock

A lot of talk recently about 'best practices'. Best practices for using the iPad in the classroom. Best practices for social media in schools. Best practices for dealing with kids more interested in Angry Birds than in schoolwork.

Trouble is: There are no 'best practices'.

In fact there is no 'best' anything when it comes to teaching. There is no 'best' in teaching any more than there is a 'best' way to win a football game.

Now, there will be those pundits who claim that one team's Super Bowl victory means less than another's. Pundits make a career of saying what is 'best' for someone else. But we all know that teams win games based on preparation; on the ability to adapt strategy -- often in the middle of a play; on the way their unique culture expresses itself as teamwork. Teams don't win because pundits say what's best.

And student's don't learn because of what the educational equivalent of pundits say is best.

Students learn based on the relationship that exists between themselves and their teacher; they learn because of the preparation, strategies, adaptations, and teamwork involved. And there is no standard way of producing success. That preparation, those strategies, those adaptations, and that teamwork will be different in each class -- or at least should.

Because no two kids are the same. No two teachers are the same. No two schools are the same. We're all working with what we've got. And what we've got -- to slice through all the murk on all sides of the Ed Reform debate -- are relationships.

Great coaches and great athletes know that it is relationships, not 'best practices' that win championships. Love of the game inspires kids. Love of passion and hard work and determination and grit and love of love itself.

No kid wants to grow up to be a pundit.

And no kid is inspired by 'best practices'.

In the end, 'best practices' are just another form of punditry. They inspire nothing but further standardization.

And standardization is the opposite of passion. It's the opposite of joy, motivation, love of being part of the struggle -- the pathos -- of sport and learning alike. Standardization tells you that making a mistake is a bad thing. Standardization suggests there is a clear cut measure. A process that works. No gray.

'Best practices' tell you that there is a 'Way'; and if you just follow that way, you'll find success.

This has never worked. There is no Way in teaching. There are only teachers looking for a way on one hand and those making their own way on the other.

If you really want to inspire learning, you don't need 'best practices', you just need practice best.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Personalized, passionate learning

By Mike Kaechele

There is a Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C. this week. I can't go but here is my contribution to the discussion.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Am Not A Great Teacher

by Shelly Blake-Plock

I am not a great teacher. Many of my former students would probably agree. I'm at times flaky. And I can certainly be absent minded. I tend to ask students to do too much work all at once, probably because that's the way I do things.

I'm a terrible test-prepper. When I do give lectures, I tend to go on tangents. Sometimes I mix up names, dates, events; this happens at family BBQs, too.

I keep my gradebook relatively up-to-date, but tend to prefer talking directly to students about what we've been learning/doing rather than just mark up assignments. This works for some students, it doesn't for others. And thus, I often find myself in the position of doing what I'm "supposed to do" as a teacher when I feel and I know from experience that there is a better way to do things.

When I started teaching, I was absolutely terrible at classroom management. A decade in, I realize that my classroom management issues stopped being issues around year 3 when I stopped trying to control everything going on in my classroom. I don't think any of us really realize what classroom management is all about until years into teaching when we've realized that we haven't thought about classroom management in a while.

I try to talk candidly with parents. And I will argue my point. But I'll also listen to yours. As a father of three elementary school kids, I value conversations with their teachers where they are open and honest with me even if I disagree with what they are saying.

Sometimes I've gotten into trouble because I've been too open or outspoken about things. I know there are many folks on the faculty who don't like me. I've let certain grudges go on too long.

But at the same time, I feel like there are people who get an idea in their head about what you represent, and from there on out, there is no changing their opinion.

Happens in my head, too.

I am not a great teacher. I'm not always prepared. Though I do think I am a pretty good improviser. And I think that is an essential, but over-looked skill. I like the idea that any kid can bring up any point about any subject and within seconds we can be talking about something that could potentially change a life in a way my prepared lesson never could.

I tend to hate most professional development. And yet, I like to design new kinds of PD.

A lot of people confuse me with someone who thinks technology is the answer to all of our problems. Those people are probably people who don't like to read long blog posts.

Fair enough.

I always hated working in groups as a student. But now, I work with groups all the time. In some ways, I couldn't function professionally without my network. That network -- that group ever changing and evolving in thought and substance -- is the circulatory system at the heart of what I think about when I think about education.

I'm not a great teacher. I can't teach you how to be a great teacher. You are probably a better teacher than me. I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm a pretty good learner. I like learning. I'm also a pretty good share-er. I like sharing. When I am learning and sharing, I don't feel like my back is to the wall. I feel comfortable. I feel like my motivations are honest. I feel like I can be myself. And I feel a bit more useful to other folks.

I am far more interested in being a conduit for ideas. A conduit for conversation. A conduit for debate. For real learning. Connecting. Rethinking. Reframing debates. Debates and discussions. The stuff of humanity.

I don't remember off the top of my head what year Napoleon became emperor. I'd have to look it up. I guess that makes me a pretty lousy history teacher.

But I'm willing to not know.

I take a lot of solace in the example of Socrates. Not because I think I'm like Socrates, but because I think deep down Socrates is a lot like all of us. Socrates was a guy who both boastfully and intimately explained that in the end, he really didn't know anything.

And that was enough to change everything.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Google Plus Could Teach Us About Education Reform

by John T. Spencer

I am not a Google Fanboy.  I promise this.  I am not crazy about any transnational corporation poised to redefine the way we organize information.  However, in using Google Plus, I'm thinking that we could learn a few things in terms of rethinking and redesigning public education:

User Interface: Form
It finally feels like Google has a "look," with the new Google search pages and Gmail user interface.  It's  clean and minimal in an online world filled with slick, shiny icons.  Unlike Facebook (which has become a cluttered Wal-Mart-style mess), Google Plus makes use of a balance between negative and positive space.  The result is both a calm and active ethos, creating a "place" where I want to hang around.

I'd like to see schools pay better attention to this.  In my dream school, we have space, open space, negative space.  We have murals.  We have art.  We have bold colors, but also places where things are calm.  We have windows.  Instead of looking slick and professional, school would look like a place where students want to be.

User Interface: Function
 I like the use of muted icons, as if any color chosen is intentional alongside the bold green, blue and red that gently guide me toward what I'm looking for. The end result is a user interface that is intuitive as much as it is logical.  Google Plus is easy to navigate from within the system and easy to access from outside (adding the plus one button, seeing the red update box next to my name, the share box, etc.)  The result is a system that has a ton of integrated features while still feeling simple.

Schools could learn from this by designing curriculum that allows for fluid integration while still creating a sense of natural boundaries between subjects.  Both in physical and in intellectual space, schools wouldn't have to be free of walls, but rather open to half walls, open doors and open windows.  Schools wouldn't have to be entirely project-based or independent work, but they could be open to a balanced, nuanced approach of integration and specialization.

Language reshapes the way we define reality.  The unspoken metaphors create a semantic environment that both create and reflect our values and norms.  Google chose human metaphors.  Instead of using "video chat," they have "hang outs." Instead of saying "customized search," they use sparks.  Even the emotive, harmonious symbol of a circle (and the common use of spheres and circles to describe relationships) has a much more human sound to it than "lists."

Schools could learn from Google as they push reform.  It has to be real, though.  We can't use "common" and then create "standardized."  Nor can we speak of "learning" and simply mean "achievement."  However, if we begin to move toward more human, organic metaphors, our values, norms and structures will eventually change.


Google Plus offers sparks (a customized way of searching and sharing), circles (a chance to direct your communication to your personalized groups) and easily embedded media within status updates.  Plus offers hangouts, where small groups can interact on video.  And the best part? It's not cluttered full of third party apps trying to spam me into a mafia or a pretend agribusiness or a make-believe coffee shop. In the process, it's both interest-based (sparks) and relationship-based (circles) in a way that feels very human.  

School could function as a flexible community while still allowing students to engage with the outside world (plus one approach).  Students could engage in community with concentric circles while personalizing their learning according to their own interests (sparks). Students could meet based upon shared social status (age-based, ability levels) while also letting them share in interest-based formats (multi-age classes based upon interests). We could recover recess (hangouts) and we wouldn't have to depend upon third-party apps invading our curriculum and forcing us to interrupt real learning with incessant testing updates.  We could learn from Google in some of the smaller features, too.  Maybe wait a little longer in student response time and in discipline.

Google Plus allows users to interact in a way that resembles both Facebook and Twitter.  Thus, it's easy to embed media, but it's not cluttered with media updates.  I can choose to follow you, but you can choose to limit your updates to specific circles.  In addition, while social media often defines relevance for the users, Google Plus lets the users define relevance for themselves. Instead of being differentiated, it's truly personalized.  Instead of offering choice, it offers freedom.  I can sort by medium, by interest or by social communities.
Schools need to shift from differentiation to customization/personalization.  They need to allow students to define relevance and meaning, to sift through multiple media choices, to organize information according to the meaning they create rather than the teacher-driven transmission of conceptual systems.  Schools could also learn to create fewer options and provide more freedom, relying on the power of freedom and simplicity to generate creativity and authenticity.

Bottom Line
Google learned from the failures of Wave and Buzz as well as the structural problems with Twitter and Facebook.  The response was a certain humility that education reformers could learn from. They worked toward creating a social network that feels more social than networked.  In designing an online community, they seemed to ask, "How can we humanize this?" rather than "How can we get people to follow this format?"

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink.  He recently finished two books, Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and Drawn Into Danger, a fictional memoir of a superhero and he's working on Sustainable Start, a book for new teachers. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Issues: Education and the Network

by Shelly Blake-Plock

Been having a lot of facetime recently with folks out there in the education world and have noticed a few misconceptions that keep popping up regarding the conversation we've been having about social tech integration and networked classrooms. So I thought I'd write this brief post concerning some of the issues folks have had.

1. Networked education will not improve test scores. This is a 100% true statement. Networked education will not improve test scores. Personally, I have no interest in improving test scores because I hold them to be by-and-large a poor reflection of the actual learning, growth, and understanding of our students; that's just me. Other teachers feel differently. And that's fine. I like debate. But as for networked education, improving test scores is not the objective... therefore, do not expect results. You are going to have to redefine what "assessment" means if it's real networked learning you are trying to gauge.

2. Technology will not fix education. This is a 100% true statement. All along, we've been stressing the fact that technology -- and the digital age broadly speaking -- is the context, not the goal. Having computers in your room will not make your kids understand Shakespeare better. But denying the connection in your room will limit your students' capacity to use the connections and resources of the web to better learn, grow, and understand in a personalized and context-savvy way. Eventually, there will be two types of students: connected and not-connected. Connected students will have the power of broad personal and professional learning communities at their fingertips. Not-connected students won't. You are the teacher: decide what kind of student you think is going to have the skills and understanding to make it in a connected world.

3. Smart kids don't need networked learning, because they'll pick it all up along the way. This notion demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what networked education is. It's not about the "end result"; it's about the process. Networked learning isn't a goal; it's a way of being. It's not analogous to getting the "A" or the "5" on the AP exam; it's about learning to be a thinker, citizen, and engaged person within a connected global network. And that's a life-long ongoing process that doesn't end just because you got into your top choice college. It's not another accolade to pick up at the podium.

4. Wealthy schools will always be the best schools. I get to visit many schools and have walked the halls of some of the most august. And I have seen in some of these schools only what I would consider at best a complete lack of recognition of the reality of what is happening in the broader culture, and at worst a complete mis-reading of what the digital paradigm means for the future of our society. There are many, many so-called "top tier" schools that you could not pay me to send my own children to. In the connected age, the quality of a school will ultimately have less to do with the size of the endowment than with the capacity of the program to produce engaged and creative thinkers who can handle a variety of complexities and types of connection. The future doesn't care about your reputation.

5. Inner-city schools have bigger issues than whether or not their students are using Twitter. While schools of all types face a multitude of challenges, this statement betrays a deep lack of understanding of what social networks represent. I can't help but hear such a statement and not glean the anxiety that social networks might prove to represent the greatest challenge to present and status quo hierarchical systems of authority in education, business, government, and beyond. I could imagine no greater issue facing any school district than whether or not their students are connected and engaged in an empowering and culture-redefining network.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thinking Outside-the-Box With QR Codes

by Noah Geisel

I was introduced to QR Codes by Kevin Gaugler's presentation at the 2009 ACTFL convention, when he showed off the Robert Downey Jr. cover of Esquire magazine that employed QR Codes. Simply put, I was wowed. Since then, I've seen a dramatic rise in the use of QR Codes in magazines, on busses and in classrooms but often find the application of the tool to be uninspiring. Marketers (and we educators are in the business of marketing knowledge and skills) employing QR Codes are limited only by their creativity in the uses of this tool and I, for one, would like to see people thinking more outside-the-box.

For example, I recently attended an exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and saw that in addition to descriptions of the art and artists on the placards of each piece in the show, there were QR Codes. Excited for a socially appropriate opportunity to break out my smart phone at the museum, I scanned the code and voila: the same information that was on the placard now appeared on my phone's screen, only many times smaller. Value added: zero.

Last week, I went to what was billed as a QR Code art show. More than 20 QR Codes had been enlarged and hung on the walls. When scanned, the codes linked to a cell phone screen-sized picture of each artist's work. Somewhat snazzy, but again there was no value added. Personally, I'd rather see the full-sized works.

An example of an inspired, outside-the-box approach to using QR Codes is in the photography show of Denver math teacher and travel photographer Paul Knickerbocker. Each picture in his show is named after the town and country where it was taken. Additionally, each picture's placard features a QR Code that, when scanned, links to a Google Map that Mr. Knickerbocker created on which the pictures have been geo tagged and annotated with brief descriptions of the shots. This is a use that adds value! It allows people to learn more about each picture and have multiple ways to connect with them. It opens the door to art patrons conversing with the artist without his having to be at the gallery every day. The QR Codes are used in order to bring something new to the table, not just recycle the same content to a mobile device.

As we seek out ways to engage our 21st Century learners, QR Codes are an attractive option. The challenge is not to find opportunities to integrate them but to do so in ways that, like Mr. Knickerbocker's travel photography show, enhance content and users' experiences. Failure to think outside-the-box can lead to presenting the same information on a smaller screen and that is a tough sell for the learners in our target market.


**Cybraryman's resource page is a great starting place for educators to explore ways to utilize QR Codes in the classroom**

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Connected vs Not-Connected Classrooms

by Shelly Blake-Plock

So, I penned an Op-Ed on 'Connected vs Not-Connected Classrooms' and it ran today in The Baltimore Sun... click after the snippet to read the whole thing. And please do share, comment, and help me understand how you think about these things.
A gap will emerge between those schools that can offer the capacity for network building — represented by their own network of connected teachers and administrators — and those that will not make the connection. This is not an issue of public versus private school or wealthy versus impoverished school. Plenty of wealthy schools are deciding not to make the connection, while many teachers in cash-strapped schools are pursuing a real grass-roots effort to make it happen. This is about connected schools versus not-connected schools.
Read the whole piece.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Why Superman Would Suck As a Teacher

by John T. Spencer

Some people are waiting for Superman and that's fine.  (I have my own thoughts on why Clark Kent wouldn't choose to become a teacher) But for what it's worth, I hope Superman doesn't become a teacher. Here's why:

  • Superman has x-ray vision, but he is unwilling to be even remotely transparent himself. I'm not suggesting that teachers bare all, but a complete lack of vulnerability prevents students from trusting a classroom leader. 
  • Superman is strong, but rarely gentle.  The Flaming Lips ask the question, "Is it getting heavy to use a crane to crush a fly?" Perhaps kids need more strong men, but it seems even more powerful when a strong man can gently say, "I care about your pain.  I care about your story." 
  • Superman is always composed, always honorable, always doing the right thing.  But in the process, he doesn't get a chance to be humble and apologize.  Perhaps he's perfect and maybe kids need perfection.
  • Superman is too nice.  My favorite teachers (Jesus, Socrates, my AP Government teacher) often broke social norms and used language that provoked thought rather than maintaining the status quo.  
  • Superman might be great preventing destruction, but he is rarely seen creating anything.  Preservation can't be the bottom line. 
  • Superman saves the day, but in the process he doesn't allow the citizens to help.  He doesn't come alongside them and say, "let's serve together."  There's a touch of imperialism in flying down and fixing a mess without empowering people to get to the root of the issue.  
For eight years, I've taught in a low-income school and I've noticed that kids don't want to be saved.  They don't want to be someone's project.  They don't want to exist in order to validate someone else's savior complex.  They want to learn.  They want to think deeply.  Superman can't do that. Clark Kent, perhaps, but not Superman.  However, I've met a ton of teachers who use quality strategies with students who society has written off as "underprivileged" and the results are way more impressive than a flying man in tights.

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink.  He recently finished two books, Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and Drawn Into Danger, a fictional memoir of a superhero. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer

Question of the Day: Connection -- Is it a professional responsibility?

Today's question of the day: Should teachers be expected to provide their own 3G device and connection as a professional requirement even if their school does not support them to do so?

(i.e. Do you see it as a professional responsibility that teachers provide and pay for their own way to connect from anywhere if their school will not?)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 08, 2011

Interview with Rep. Jared Polis

by Noah Geisel

Thanks in part to the democratization of communication that Twitter sometimes enables, I had a chance this week to interview Colorado Congressman Jared Polis. Readers of TeachPaperless may already know about Rep. Polis and certainly have reason to be interested in what he has to say about education issues: Prior to being elected to Congress in 2008, the millionaire dot com entrepreneur served on the Colorado State Board of Education, founded two charter schools and served as superintendent of the New America School, a network of four charter schools in Colorado and New Mexico that helps new immigrant students learn English. I asked Rep. Polis about 21st Century Skills, closing the achievement gap, the role of community involvement and education leadership.

What career and life skills do you believe are essential to success after high school?

Rep. Polis: Preparing students to compete and win in the global economy is essential for America’s future. That means building on the basics that our parents understood as a part of school curriculum—literacy, math, and civics—and fostering technological literacy, creativity, critical analysis, problem solving and teamwork. These skills will serve every child well in school, work and life.

What do our schools need to do to prepare students for life in 2020? 2050?

Rep. Polis: We cannot abide schools that fail to ready students to achieve in life and succeed in an increasingly competitive global market. The single best guarantee of our children’s success in school is an excellent teacher in every classroom. It’s also critical to have an effective principal in every school building. Peer learning, mentoring and continuous, high quality professional development have all been found to improve instruction.

We must also increase our investments in reading, writing, math, science, social studies and technology instruction, as well as ensure that students have a well-rounded education, including social studies, arts, and physical and health education. We also need to recognize that our constantly changing economy requires lifetime learning, from quality early childhood education, to improved K-12, through college and beyond.

How can we create more high quality learning environments to close the achievement gap?

Rep. Polis: Robustly funded public schools remain the best way to close the achievement gap. When a school is failing, there must be accountability for administrators and teachers as well as funding available to new leadership to reform a school using evidence-based turnaround models that improve student performance. America’s children must never be trapped in schools that fail to prepare them to compete and win in the global economy.

Reform must always be tied to resources that help districts, administrators and teachers promote excellent schools. Across the board, we must invest more in quality pre-schools, quality teacher professional development, including a focus on disadvantaged students, data-driven individualized instruction, including access to public school choice such as quality charter schools and online programs, dropout prevention and recovery, and access to higher education.

What role do business and community leaders need to play and how easy is it for those who want to contribute to get involved in these learning environments?

Rep. Polis: Business and community leaders can become involved in improving public education in a variety of ways. They can contribute funds to school and school district foundations; serve on those foundations; participate in school and school district accountability committees by offering assistance and advice on instruction and other supports to students; provide leadership in public school communities by convincing other business and community leaders to be involved in school activities; support schools by volunteering their time at events and activities; and offer service learning internships for students. If entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses they have a vested interest in ensuring that their public schools are producing a well-prepared workforce.

Regarding school leadership, what needs to be done at the district, university and state department of education levels to prepare and develop school leaders?

Rep. Polis: It simply makes sense to align higher education admissions and K-12 standards. If we’re not preparing our children to enter college then we’re not supporting the kind of workforce we’ll need for the future. We should also hold teacher preparation programs accountable by linking their teachers’ students’ test scores back to each higher education institution.

Higher education institutions should coordinate with K-12 to prioritize the development of effective school leaders, including principals. Higher education departments, state education departments, and school districts should facilitate concurrent enrollment programs for all students. K-12 and higher education officials should also be in regular communication regarding issues related to college remediation, graduation requirements, college access, standards and assessments.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Apple Versus Google

by John T. Spencer

An operating system used to be device-specific. However, as we move further toward a completely cloud-based, mobile experience, the definition of an operating system becomes somewhat elusive. Windows lost in its failure to capture the smart phone, tablet and netbook market. Now the war shifts toward a Google versus Apple dual.

Case in point: Apple recently created iCloud and enabled cloud-based iTunes while Google introduced Google Music (which I'm loving, by the way) and the Chrome netbook-laptop-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Meanwhile the smart phone market has shifted almost entirely toward Android versus the iPhone, with endless apps offering device synchronization.  (Note: this is not meant to be a product-by-product comparison, but simply a short description of the cloud-based trend)

While it might seem like a simple rivalry between two software giants, both companies offer a very different vision for our online multimedia experience. Apple sells content while Google sells advertising. Apple is betting on a model akin to a movie theater experience where consumers will pay more for quality and convenience. Google is betting on a model akin to cable television where consumers will prefer freedom and value.

Apple wants to customize the hardware and software to be as user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing as possible. It's why an iPhone on AT&T and Verizon look nearly identical and why that same operating system runs seamlessly with an iPod and an iPad. Apple needs people to buy multimedia products - whether this is a two dollar app, a dollar song, a three dollar ebook or an annual service that allows consumers to house what they buy on multiple devices.

Google wants to offer a customized service that runs quickly and allows for more user freedom. It's why Android looks different on various phones and why the Chrome OS is entirely different than the Android. Whether it's a piece of software, an operating system or even the laptop itself, Google needs access to consumer data so that advertisers have access to one's multimedia experience. This is why ultimately Google might want to buy Pandora as an end-route into getting Google music on all the iCandy.

The point is that regardless of the product (a textbook, an iPod touch, a Chrome laptop), there is a power structure and an economic incentive driving the sale and implementation.  As long as we treat these items  as a simple list of supplies, we deny the political, economic and social nature of each device.

If we, as educators, support a bring-your-own-device approach, to what extent are we allowing these two very distinct business models to shape how out students learn?

Are we okay allowing iEducation to monopolize our purchases and limit our flexibility in learning tools?

Are we okay allowing Google to stream endless advertising into our classrooms?

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink.  He recently finished two books, Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and Drawn Into Danger, a fictional memoir of a superhero. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer

Friday, July 01, 2011

First Thoughts on Google+

by Shelly Blake-Plock

So, in the category of "as if there weren't enough going on"... the arrival of the Google+ beta.

I have basically holed up in a small room for the last 48 hours attempting to figure out what this thing can do and what it can't do. First thoughts: it is not Facebook and it is not trying to be. Second: it is not Twitter and it is not trying to be. Third: it is not Wave, but it suggests that Google learned a ton from the relatively esoteric things people who gave it a chance were actually doing with Wave.

In short: this really is something different. What does it do? I don't know. What does it mean? Too early to say. Is it going to fail as hard as Wave? Dunno.

In the early estimate, what I can say is that the 'circles' feature around which + is based around offers new options in the ongoing conversation about public and private in social networks. The outcome of this chapter in the evolution of that conversation might be the most important thing to watch -- and the most important thing in terms of thinking what social tech integration means to the structure of classes, courses, schools, and classrooms.

More later, I'm headed back to my hole.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Baltimore, United States