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It was "Good" to be in Kentucky...they're not Robin anybody at this depot!
Friday, November 27, 2009
A Good day in Frankfort, Kentucky:
Last week was interesting. I drove down to Kentucky on Tuesday November 17th to help with the opening of the Kentucky Learning Depot. Rain. Rain. And more rain! What a terrible ride there and back. Left in the dark. Came back in the dark and saw many accident victims along the way. Louisville was like a parking lot both in the morning and then again at 6:30 at night. I was headed to Frankfort, Kentucky. Fortunately, the Kentucky people I met there from the Council on Postsecondary Education were fabulous. Both Allen Lind, Vice-President of Information and Technology, and Miko Pattie, Senior Advisor, Information & Technology, took great care of me. So did all the others I met. Seems so much is happening in Kentucky right now.

First I gave a talk to the Distance Learning Advisory Committee’s Steering Committee--it was an updated version of my perfect e-storm talk. My talk was followed by a lunch meeting with some of these same people. Next I watched other speakers introduce the launching of the Kentucky Learning Depot. Many people spoke. Impressive stuff from the Council on Postseconday Education, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, the Kentucky Office of Teaching and Learning, AT&T, the Education Professional Standards Board, and various others. Each had a unique and important message to share. AT&T apparently had provided a grant of over $130,000 to help with the depot creation and launching.

In the mix was Mac Wall, Executive Director of the Kentucky Educational Television (KET). I found out that KET people have created the EncycloMedia project. In this Website, there are 5,000 videos, 50,000 video segments, 20,000 digital still images, and 3,200 audio clips. These are for instructional uses in all areas. EncycloMedia is a free service of the Kentucky Department of Education. There are lesson plans, guides, quizzes, professional develeopment resources, and other items (including an online teacher network), that is all searchable by grade level, subject area, keywords, and academic standards. There are links to streaming content from Discovery Education.

I know people tend to question the use of such shared online content since there is no human being behind it when learners access it. Well, they have had 5 million viewers of this content in less than 4 years. KET also makes available instructional Web sites, high school learning classes, streaming video, and electronic field trips.

Their Website says to:
"Imagine you’re an elementary teacher planning a unit on desert biomes. Or a high school English teacher whose students are reading The Red Badge of Courage. Then imagine a single online source that lets you choose among hundreds of related instructional resources—full-length videos on desert environments or the Civil War, brief video clips, digital photographs, clip art—and then lets you easily incorporate those materials into your lessons."

Now it was time for the launch of the new Kentucky Learning Depot. According to their Website, "The Kentucky Learning Depot is a learning community of educators dedicated to providing a repository of quality digital learning content for classroom use. The lessons and resources you find here, submitted and reviewed by the community, represent the best educational practices today."

Exploring further, the "About" section says that, "The Kentucky Learning Depot is a digital library and a learning community that allows educators to share engaging, quality, and standards-based digital content to improve their courses. The depot provides a single point of entry where users can browse, search, upload, download, update, rate, and reuse learning content."

Just before 1:30 pm, there was the launch in front of 60-70 people and many pictures taken. After a talk from Elizabeth Johnson from the Florida Orange Grove Repository on their Legislatively-Mandated Textbooks Plus Initiative (for the development and operation of a central instructional content repository that allows faculty to search, locate, and use instructional resources, including open educational content), it was my turn to speak. My keynote was titled: "No Stopping this Train: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education." Fortunately, there was much good reaction to it.

After that, I met with folks from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. They have developed quite a unique program for some of their online community college courses and programs. They know that hundreds of thousands of people in Kentucky alone would love to get obtain additional college education. Now they can sign up any time they want, start classes whenever, and a facilitator will be immediately assigned to help them through the content. Facilitators determine how many students they have time to teach and are paid per student with a bonus for the student's high academic performance. There is no set start date (though they must complete the content within something like 3 weeks). Most 3 credit classes have been modularized into 1 credit or less experiences.

What a marvelous invention. In effect, such a program makes learning available to learners when they want and in smaller doses that they can handle. Think of the tens of millions of Americans and hundrends of millions of people around the world who could benefit from such an on-demand or just-in-time learning approach. Sounds like something the Obama administration could showcase an a new model for learning in the 21st century and a success story in the making.

Fascinating stuff! This is exactly the type of thing that the country needs! It is what Peter Smith from Kaplan University (formerly President of Cal State Monterey Bay) talks about in his upcoming book from Jossey-Bass: "Harnessing America’s Wasted Talent: New Dimensions for Higher Education." I recently read and endorsed the book. No links to it yet online so it may be a few more months until it comes out.

Anyway, it was great to be back in Kentucky for the first time in 7-8 years and it is less than 2 hours away. It was quite an eventful day. When I got home, I found out that a blog post that I did for the people was posted to the Web. It was titled: "WE-ALL-LEARN--The Web 2.0 Revolution in Education." It was posted to their Thought Leaders Blog. GETideas was created by Cisco Systems. They will interview me on my World Is Open book on Monday, December 7, 2009 on the Cisco TV Network.

Time to Meet the Famous Robin Good:
Two days later (November 19, 2009), an interview that Robin Good from Rome, Italy had done with me was posted (see videos). It is available in short bites. Robin is an extremely funny and multi-talented person. This
was title: "Future Of Learning: A Video Interview With Curtis Bonk." A lot of people have viewed it and sent me positive comments. Some of these videos are also posted to YouTube. At least 1 or 2 of them are, including "New Teachers Should Become Content Curators" and "No More PowerPoint, Do Carnival Pedagogy Instead." These two were apparently posted on November 17th. Carnival Pedagogy is a concept I heard from Dr. Inae Kang from Kyung Hee University in Korea when I was there in May. Inae is a former student of mine. She is quite brilliant and always on the cutting edge.

I appreciated my time with Robin. Not only is he one of the most known bloggers and media people in the world, he is a highly engaging, insightful, creative, and warm person. He cares about the future of education and learning; especially with emerging technologies. And he does so with an optimistic spirit and smile that leans us all toward hope for a better tomorrow. These are the types of people I want hang out with! To quench your thirst for such optimism, do check out his MasterNewMedia site from time-to-time. And perhaps follow his theme: "Be Smart, Be Independent, Be Good." I love it.

Life Beyond Good:
Then on November 23rd, an article I wrote for Magna Publications in Madison, Wisconsin on the "Benefits and Audiences of Online Learning in K-12 Environments" appeared in the E-newletter called Inside the School ( I will be doing a couple of K-12-related Webinars for them in 2-3 weeks including one on the use of blended learning during the swine flu. These will be on December 14th. They are not free but you can get a PDF of my slides at the link I just provided.

Earlier this month, Tech and Learning Mag featured my World is Open book with an article entitled "Big Picture." In this article, they include my 15 trends for the future which I list in the final chapter of the book; for digital, page flipping version of the article, see: page 1 and page 2. I need to spend more time at the Tech & Learning Website.

Another highly cool thing this week was when someone shared TED Talk India from Pranav Mistry. The title of his talk was: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology. It just came out this month. Everyone I share it with, loves it. I hope you enjoy it too!

Here is what the abstract at the TED site says, "At TEDIndia, Pranav Mistry demos several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data -- including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper "laptop." In an onstage Q&A, Mistry says he'll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all." So cool. So cool. So cool! Will this change education as we know it? Humm...

Some Stuff Not as Good:
Those still needing more news from the past week or 2, can read about TwitterPeek and WikiReader (not worth getting apparently) or perhaps FLO TV (Personal Television leaves a little to be desired). Both were in the USA Today during the past week or so. Seems none of the 3 (TwitterPeek, WikiReader, or FLO TV) received good reviews. You might not include any of these in your Christmas list this year. Perhaps wait a while for something better that converges everything.

Final Goodies:
If still hungry for more to explore, you might read an article from eSchool News this week which discussed Larry Sangor's role in creating WatchKnow; a YouTube-like site for children. As many of you know, Sangor originally helped create Wikipedia with Jimmy Wales.

In the Wired Chronicle of Higher Education, there was an announcement this week of a new tool for searching through Google Books from the Haithi Trust. Apparently, a consortium of colleges has created the HaithiTrust Digital Library. According to the article, "Colleges working with Google on the company's effort to scan millions of library books today unveiled their own search tool to comb the full text of some 500,000 volumes." Sounds like a tool that is sorely needed to help overwhelmed college students and instructors discover the truly golden nuggets in all the masses of online content out there today from Google and others. A couple of my students have tried it out this week and found it useful in finding just what they needed within the e-book content that they located.

Enjoy the news! There is always more where that came from. For instance, I just finished pieces for FamilyEd Magazine here in Indiana (on technologies that high school and beginning college students need to take into consideration before getting into college and issues they will deal with the first year on campus) and an article for eCampus News on the pedagogical aspects of my R2D2 model. More on those articles when they come out. Now I must write a piece for Educational Leadership Magazine on transforming schools. Always more to write.
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Announcing the Premiere of Global Learn: Global Conference on Learning and Technology (May 17-20, 2010)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Introducing Global Learn:
During the past year, with my colleagues, Tom Reynolds from National University in San Diego and Mimi Miyoung Lee from the University of Houston, I have helped create a new conference called Global Learn: Global Conference on Learning and Technology. The three of us collaborated to write the mission statement and also the first draft of the conference topics and subtopics (which others expanded upon). We were also involved in site selection, the creation of the executive board for the conference, and initial keynote and invited speaker nominations. Lots of work. But often fun work. Seeing something new come into fruition is highly motivating; especially something with global educational consequences.

Gary Marks, the Founder and Director of AACE, also was heavily involved in all of this (actually he led the way). The four of us made for a great team. Tom and Mimi have the insightful global and international educational perspectives that helped shape the GL conference in a highly positive direction. And Gary has created or expanded many conferences in the past (SITE, Ed Media, E-Learn, etc.) so he knows what is possible and what is not. It is always fun working with talented people.

Once the initial plans were in place, many others got involved as well. You can see the program and executive board at the Global Learn site. All are fabulous people. I am talking about people like Insung Jung in Tokyo, Okhwa Lee in Seoul, Zoraini Wati Abas in Kuala Lumpur, Joe Luca in Perth, Siew-Mee Barton in Melbourne, Theo Bastiaens in the Netherlands, Sanjaya Misra in New Dehli, Grace Lin in Hawaii, Marc Curcher in Dubai, Betty Collis in the Netherlands, Tom Reeves in Georgia, Wenxia Wu in Columbus, Ohio, and dozens more peoeple including Tracy Jacobs and Sarah from AACE headquarters. So many brilliant and kind people helping make this thing happen. I am really blessed to know them all.

You might wonder how we created such a major conference without meeting face-to-face in over a year (we did have a couple of FTF meetings in Las Vegas during E-Learn last November). Answer: An assortment of collaborative Web tools were employed. Technologies like PBWiki (now PBWorks), Google Docs, Adobe Connect Pro, Skype, Google Groups, and email helped us collaboratively create the conference. We also shared numerous Web resources each week.

More information on Global Learn is below. See what you think of it.

Global Learn will be in Asia and the Pacific Rim each year in April or May. As alluded to, this conference will be run by AACE (the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education). AACE also runs E-Learn, Ed Media, and SITE. The call for papers for Global Learn is below (proposals for this call are due tomorrow--November 23rd). Also noted below are the keynote and invited speakers. I think many of the invited speakers would be keynotes at other conferences. This is going to be a fabulous conference! There are speakers from the Millennium Project, the Pocket School Project, the Hole in the Wall Project in India, Commonwealth of Learning, and so on. How cool is that?

YOU must consider this conference. It could be the conference of the decade. Global learning--that is where all learning is at today. Everything is moving global. Everything. And so should you! And this conference is in a fantastic location. No, not just anyplace, but the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang. It is the the Pearl of the Orient (even Wikipesia says so). Read on.

From: Educational Technology & E-Learning [EDUCTECH@LISTSERV.UH.EDU] On Behalf Of AACE Announcements [announce@AACE.ORG]
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 3:08 PM
Subject: Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010: Keynotes Announced & Call Due: Nov. 23


A Fantastic Group of Keynote/Invited Speakers Is Announced!

Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010--
Global Conference on Learning and Technology

May 17-20, 2010 * Penang (island), Malaysia

(Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort)


** Submission Deadline: November 23, 2009 **

Organized by:
Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)

Co-sponsored by:
Education & Information Technology Digital Library

Hosted by:
Open University of Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Wawasan Open University

COLOR POSTER: Global Learn 2010 Asia Pacific (Available to Print & Distribute)


1. UPDATE: Keynote/Invited Speakers:
2. Introduction
3. Topics:
4. Program Activities & Submission Information, Deadline November 23:
5. Presentation Categories:
6. Penang (island), Malaysia:
7. Deadlines:


Keynote Speakers:
Teaching Learning Framework through the Power of Innovation
Anuwar Ali, Open University Malaysia, Malaysia

Sustainable Higher Education Learning Futures
James Taylor, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Increasing Individual and Collective Intelligence
Jerome Glenn, Executive Director, The Millennium Project, USA

Title to be announced
Asha Kanwar, Commonwealth of Learning, Canada

Invited Speakers: (partial list)
Global Educational Technology: A Luddite View
Jon Baggaley, Athabasca University, Canada

Authentic Mobile Learning: The Affordances of Mobile Technologies in Authentic Learning
Jan Herrington, Murdoch University, Australia

Mobile Innovation and Global Education Ecosystem
Paul Kim
, Stanford University, USA

Distance and Blended Learning in Asia: An Overview
Colin Latchem, Open Learning Consultant, Australia

Beyond Dichotomies: Rethinking the World Through New Technologies
Merry Merryfield, Ohio State University, USA

An Alternative Schooling: Self Organising Systems in Education
Sugata Mitra, Newcastle University, UK


Global Learn Asia Pacific is an annual, international conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). The conference will be guided by a respected, international Executive Committee, primarily from countries of the Asia Pacific region. ( )

This conference serves to further the advancement and innovation in learning and technology. As the educational world becomes increasingly global, new ways to explore, learn, and share knowledge are needed.
Global Learn is a means to connect and engage creative educators, researchers, consultants, training managers, policy makers, curriculum developers, entrepreneurs, and others in the topics and fields in which they are passionate about. Many individuals are transforming learning environments in local as well as more global ways. Global Learn offers them an opportunity to meet and discuss their ideas, findings, and next steps.

The following nine themes exemplify the vision and goals of Global Learn for advancement and innovation in:
1. Advanced Technologies for Learning and Teaching
2. Assessment and Research
3. Educational Reform, Policy, and Innovation
4. Evaluation and Quality Improvement Advances
5. Global Networks, Partnerships, and Exchanges
6. Innovative Approaches to Learning and Learning Environments
7. Open Education
8. Technologies for Socially Responsive Learning
9. Virtual and Distance Education

For specific topics within these themes, see:

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES & SUBMISSION INFORMATION, Deadline November 23::--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Keynote Speakers & Invited Panels/Speakers
* Papers, Best Practice Sessions & Roundtables
* Research/Technical Showcases & Products/Services Showcases
* Tutorials/Workshops
* Virtual Sessions

All presentation proposals are peer reviewed and selected by a Program Committee, based on merit and the perceived value for attendees.
Call for Presentations:
Submission guidelines:
Presentation and AV Guidelines, see:

The Program includes a wide range of interesting and useful activities designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information.

Experience the Pearl of the Orient; Culture, Dining, Shopping, Attractions, & Tours!


Submissions Due: November 23, 2009
Authors Notified: December 22, 2009
Proceedings File Due: March 22, 2010
Early Registration: March 22, 2010
Advanced Registration: April 26, 2010
Conference: May 17-20, 2010


To be added to the mailing list for this conference, link to

Global Learn Community:
AACE Blog:

If you have a question about Global Learn, please send an e-mail to
AACE Conference Services,

AACE--Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education
P.O. Box 1545, Chesapeake, Virginia 23327 USA
Phone: 757-366-5606 * Fax: 703-997-8760
E-mail: *

Departing Thoughts:
Ok, time for you to consider presenting at or attending Global Learn. Don't let the premiere year of this conference pass you by. I do not want to hear you in the 2nd or 3rd year saying, I wish I had attended the first Global Learn conference back when it was smaller and much more fun. Oh and by the way, I am creating an "unconference" prior to Global Learn to be held for 2 days (May 15-16, 2010) on an island near Penang for people to reflect, share, listen, speak, and relax. Come join us.

If you have questions, send me an email (curt at or perhaps write to Gary Marks, Mimi Lee, Tom Reynolds, or anyone else on the program or executive committees that you know. We have worked hard to get to this point. And we all look forward to hearing from you!
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The World is Open on WGN TV and Chicago and Milwaukee Public Radio
Saturday, November 14, 2009
In the stories below, I am recapping events from this week (mainly being on TV in Chicago on Tuesday) as well as four weeks ago when I was on 4 radio shows in one day. They all link together somehow as part of my World is Open fall book tour. As I added pictures, this blog post got much longer than the 1-2 paragraphs that I had intended. To watch me on WGN TV in Chicago, scroll down to the bold section. Hope you enjoy.

Chicago WGN TV and Chicago Public Radio:
Tuesday was a highly unique day in my life. Got up at 3:55 am in order to drive to the Indianapolis airport and fly to Chicago where I would be on WGN TV Midday show later that day. I flew back the same day. Between interesting taxicab rides and sitting in the cafeteria for 3-4 hours waiting to go on the show and then sitting in the airport for 3 more hours waiting for my flight, it made for a particularly long day.

Fortunately, there was intermittant Internet access that kept my mind occupied when stuck in the cafeteria. After being at Chicago Public Radio a few weeks earlier on Navy Pier in downtown Chicago with a gorgeous view, this was quite different. See pictures from Chicago Public Radio below. LISTEN TO RADIO SHOW: If interested in that earlier show, you can listen to either the audio stream or the MP3 link. I recommend the MP3 link since the audio stream is currently down.

This is a picture or two of the area near Chicago Public Radio:

Walking back to my hotel (the "W" hotel is in the distance):

And this is a picture of Navy Pier from my hotel room:

WGN is on the near north side of Chicago in a highly secure facility that was reminiscent of my days working in factories in Milwaukee. I was soon reminded why I do not fit in a corporate setting and why academia is preferable. Each person walking in and out must swipe their card to get access to the building. They have set times, places, and meetings. I really do not like set schedules or mandates on my time. I need my freedom to learn, to teach, and to live.

The WGN guard laughed at me for showing up so early. But, given existing plane schedules, I really had no choice. For the entire morning I could watch the comings and goings of many people. But, as with Chicago Public Radio, they were extremely polite and helpful people. When I was finally called in for my appearance, a make-up person took care of my shiny nose. Then after a short bathroom break, I was escorted quickly to the set. The production people placed a microphone on my tie and we did a sound check. After a brief chat with Steve Sanders, the WGN anchor who was about to interview me, we were on the air (the picture below is of the set).

The questions came relatively fast and I responded to them as succinctly as I could. Much of it is stuff people who have heard me speak or who have read my "The World Is Open" book already know. But it went pretty well overall. Steve Sanders said he really liked the interview and the book. After signing the book Steve had, he soon left the room. Allison Payne, the other anchor, remained and I got my picture with her. The first picture was fuzzy but the second was pretty good (see below).

It was great to meet Steve and Allison Payne whom I had seen on TV many times before. Looks like this particular show may have made it to some cable stations not just Chicago (WGN 8). If I had been on 20 minutes later, it would have been on WGN America (national). I am just happy to have had this opportunity. So I took another interesting taxi ride back to the airport (my driver had liked to go fast as he could). And with that, my 4-5 minutes on TV was now over. WATCH TV CLIP: You can watch the show: either the video only or read the story and the video.

What wonderful experience! I say this despite the papers sticking out of my suitcoat at the end. Smile.

Milwaukee Area Radio:
Three days later (November 13, 2009--yesterday), an interview I had done for Wisconsin Public Radio (WUWM-FM 89.7 FM) appeared. The particular show I was on was called "Lake Effect” and the interviewer was Mitch Teich. He too asked about my “The World Is Open” book. LISTEN TO RADIO SHOW: The show I was on had various participants but you can just listen to my segment if you want. Compared to the Chicago Public Radio interview, the audio seems fast for both Mitch and me (especially at the beginning). Not sure what happened.

This interview was important to me since Milwaukee is my hometown. I wonder if anyone I grew up with or worked with back in the day was listening to it. Anyone from high school? How about St. Matthias grade school? Some pictures I took in the studio are below.

Here is a picture of Mitch in the studio:

I had fun in this one:

It was so satisfying to be in Milwaukee. All those years or driving downtown through rush hour traffic watching my father head off to work at AT&T and Wisconsin Bell. Now, here I was downtown once again but not to work. Instead, I was there for a book interview. And, in contrast to the early elementary teachers who questioned my ability to read and write, it was a book that I wrote.

The same day of that interview in Milwaukee, I also was on a radio station in Racine, Wisconsin (WRJN-AM 1400 AM). I was on the “Afternoon Show” with Pete Ferrand. Again we discussed my book. This was a full hour show with call in. It too was quite fun! See pics below.

About three hours after the Racine radio show, I was on a program from Mequon (a Northeast suburb of Milwaukee) called Dresser after Dark. Dresser after Dark is part of the IRA/USA Radio Network. It is hosted by Michael Dresser.

Doing this particular one was interesting since this was not a live show nor was I required to be in the studio. I could call in remotely, though I would have been happy to drive over to Mequon since it had been a long time since I was last there. It is an upscale part of Milwaukee. So, instead of driving there, I called from my mom's house. I told my brother, Richard, to be quiet. Amazingly, he was. I even offered him a $20 and then $40 to behave and he turned it down and pouted and went to his room.

But my mom was not so quiet. Within a few minutes of the interview with Michael Dresser, my mom turned on the TV full blast (she wears a hearing aid or I should say multiple ones) since she is basically deaf without them. Then, as I wandered downstairs, she started doing dishes and banged her pots and pans. I lost my concentration. Of course, the house chimes also went off; they go off every 15 minutes. Loud ding! Ding! Ding! And not just three times. Oh my.

It was the worst interview of the day (from my perspective--still not too bad). But to be on 4 radio shows in one day (Chicago Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio, Racine, and now Mequon), albiet 2 of them were taped and 2 live, it made for one very interesting day. Dirving in the rain and through miles of highway construction was not fun, however. Chicago went the best. It was so cool to be there. They prepped with me the night before. Milwaukee was cool too--I had a chance to take more pictures in their studio. And I also got a chance to walk in both downtown Chicago and Milwaukee the same day. As noted below, the next day, I was walking in downtown Madison as well as the UW-Madion campus.

Off to Madison for Two Webinars:
The following day I did a couple of Webinars for Magna Publications in Madison, Wisconsin. These talks were targeted for higher education people interested in online and blended learning. I talked about both my "World is Open" book ideas (the book had just come out in July) an my R2D2 and TEC-VARIETY mdels (my Empowering Online Learning/RD2 book had come out the prevous July. Here are those 2 talks:

1. The Flat World Swung Open: Now WE-ALL-LEARN with Web Technology
2. Creatively Engaging Online Students: Models and Activities

DOWNLOAD TALK PDFs: You can download PDF copies of the PowerPoints from those talks at my archived talks site. When you click, look for the October 16, 2009 talks.

Both of these went very well (So well, that Bill Haight, Magna President and Founder, gave me tickets for the Wisconsin Badger Homecoming game for the following day. I am an alum so I gladly took them. To be honest, he told me about the tickets before the show.). It was quite exciting to be in Madison during homecoming weekend.

A couple of pictures with Chris Hill and Kate Stover from Magna are below. As you can see, after five different shows in 2 days, I was getting the hang of it. I love having a mic in front of me. Ham? Yes. Sure. Why not?

Chris was a great host for the show we did. He read the data from the polling questions we received as well as the questions from the audience at the end. He also did the introductions an closings for each Webinar.

As with all my stops, Magna people were great. I also love Madison since I went to graduate school there.

I do like the camera! I will be back at Magna in Madison on December 14th for a couple of K-12 Webinars. One will be on blended learning and H1N1. I did not think I would have to be a swine flu expert. But apparently so.

How can you not love Madison? Here are some pictures from Lake Mendota and the UW union area as well as homecoming with Michael Thomas (a former student) and Bill Haight (the owner of Magna Publications). We had a great time that day, despite the Wisconsin loss.

Indiana does not have a terrace with a view like this. Nor does IU allow beer.

When I was a young kid, my father took me ice fishing on this lake and it was cold!

The Rathskeller in the UW union (a fine place for a beer):

Katrina Liu, Mike Thomas' student, shows off her Badger pride at an alumni homecoming event.

Homecoming parade! A tad cold but not bad.

My sister, Cathy (from Oshkosh), and brother, Tom (from Syracuse, NY), were home at mom's after the football game so I drove back to Milwaukee. It was great to see every one. Only my sister, Ann, was missing. (Note: Richard and Cathy are in the front row, while Tom and I are in the back.)

Ok, that recaps this past week on TV and radio plus a few earlier radio shows as well. Many of these gigs were obtained by my publicist, Meryl Moss and her crew. Meryl did a great job getting the book some PR. Her work for me is done now. I will miss her.

I recommend TV and radio to anyone still reading this long blog post. Radio is a blast. And you typically have more time than with TV. So much is possible when you have extra time. The interviewer can lead you into so many exciting and thought provoking directions. Fun! Perhaps when the e-book extension comes out (i.e., "The World Is More Open) more such things will arise. I hope so.
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Talking with the World's Youngest Teacher and the Founder of the University of the People
Sunday, November 08, 2009
This was an interesting week with interesting people. Below are some details.

Meeting the World's Youngest Teacher:
On Tuesday night, I drove to Indianapolis to hear a talk from the world's youngest teacher at our IUPUI sister campus. It is slightly over 1 hour away, though with rish traffic a tad longer. As I noted in my recent blog post interviews, the name of the person I was about to see was Adora Svitak. Adora is 12 years old and has been teaching half her life (she learns and teaches online and also teaches teachers how to use technology). She has 3 books already written and read and endorsed my World is Open book.

Adora Svitak is a sign of nontraditional teaching and learning in the 21st century. She is a leader in the nontraditional learning movement which I attempt to document in my World is Open book. As I noted before, Adora reads 2-3 books a day and types 100+ words per minute. She had written hundreds of short stories. Wow. You might check out her homepage or Wikipedia page.

When I got to IUPUI, I discovered that Adora teaches with a very cool Promethean Active Board. People from Promethean typically come to help her out and bring all the equipment. This included the clickers or response system for audience participants. While she was in Indianapolis for the national Middle School conference, this night she was teaching teachers about writing. She gave them a series of writing-related tips. Things like break all the rules, use collaborative writing, build on student interests, make learning relevant, design inquiry-based activities, use Web 2.0 technology to excite students into learning (blogs, wikis, etc.), make learning a social and sharing event, and so on, were among her ideas. While most of these ideas have been common aspects of the process writing people for a few decades, hearing a 12 year old who is an accomplished writer and teacher spout them off is worth paying attention too.

Adora was interactive with her audience. She involved them in discussion, fielded many questions, and used the clickers to get their ideas and opinions. It was great to see her using active learning while simultaneously sharing her expertise.

Needless to say, Adora loves writing. She has been writing articles, short stories, and books since her mother got her a computer when she was 6 years old. In effect, it was technology that sparked her love of writing--here is a prime example where technology has definitely changed the life of someone. It perhaps does not hurt that her father works for Microsoft. While Adora is well above grade level in English, social studies, and writing, she is at grade level in her math and science. She still has a lot to learn and she realizes it.

When I spoke with her at dinner, there were times I felt like I was talking to a graduate student of mine, instead of a preteen. We discussed many topics--travel, technology, main interests, writing books, speaking, active learning, TV interviews, etc. It was clear to me by the end of the night that Adora has had a lot of experiences around the world. Her mother, Joyce Svitak, travels with her to all events. Each stop is a learning experience filled with visits to historical monuments, libraries, museums, schools and universities, parks, convention centers, and other points of interest. The sky is the limit for this young lady.

A Call from the Founder of the University of the People:
The week got more interesting on Thursday morning. It was then that I got a call from from Shai Reshef who founded the University of the People. While also chairman of Cramster, Shai said he is currently devoting his life to the UoPeople. He is on a mission to provide access to higher education to the people of the world.

The UoPeople is a free or nearly free unviersity (there are some minor assessment costs per course depending on the country you are in that range from $10-$100. There is also a university entry fee of $15 to $50, again depending on the country you are located in). Shai noted that the UoPeople is intended for the millions (or billions)of people around the globe who do not have access to traditional higher education. Like Lucifer Chu who used his own money to create OOPS which is translating MIT content to traditional and simplified Chinese, Shai is contributing his own money to get this innovative university started (a cool $1 million of his own money). Of course, like the Wikimedia Foundation, his university also takes donations. He noted that the business plan indicates that they will break even when they get to 15,000 students. This might not be too far off into the future.

When I asked about current enrollments, he said that they have 180 students this fall. He also noted that people are signing up from nearly 50 countries already--for example, Jordan, Saudi, Brazil, Vietman, China, USA, Ethiopia, Russia, Syria, Columbia, Nigeria, Germany, UK, Israel, etc. The initial two courses are orientation ones in computer science and English which students must pass in order to continue their studies. At this point, they are not inventing any courses or technology. They are using free content found online and the Moodle course management system. There is no video content found in the UoPeople courses at this point; it is all text. Shai told me that the university is about access first and low cost. They do not want to deter people who are interested in learning. Hence, no video content for now as many would not be able to access them.

For the 180 students, there are more than 800 professors volunteering to teach. This is not your Aunt Betsy type of PTA volunteers. These professors come with master's or doctoral degrees. Simple math indicates that this is more than 4 professors for each student. That is certainly the best instructor-student ratio I have ever heard of. What's more, it is an indication of the many people who want to teach college level courses or expand beyond their current offerings. But these "professors" are not directly instructing students. Instead, they are available for students when and where needed. I think that is the model of 21st century teaching and learning. When a learning need arises, a teacher should appear. And those teachers can come from any setting or location on the planet.

When I asked him about similar ventures, Shai noted that they are different from Peer 2 Peer University, in that P2PU does not offer programs and degrees. Instead P2PU just provides guides people through free online content. How do these compare? Perhaps think of it this way...perhaps OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources are Level 1 or Phase 1 of the Open Education movement--free stuff which you can explore online. P2PU is a transitionary phase but let's call it Phase 2--free stuff you can explore online with help from mentors, tutors, coaches, and facilitators. The University of the People is then Phase 3--free courses and degrees using free and open content. What is Phase or Level 4 or 5? Where is this headed?

Shai also surprised me by saying that they hope to be accredited at some point. He did not mention how or by what agency. For now, the University of the People is located in Pasedena, California. You might stop by and visit if you are in the LA area.

So much happening today in the open education movement! How can you not be interested or excited? We will all benefit from it in a few years in ways we cannot even dream about today. Happy dreams tonight.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 6:25 PM   1 comments
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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