On the Importance of Face to Face

OK, I am spoiled. Henry Jenkins, Bill Clinton, Vice President Gore, Danah Boyd, George Lucas, Ron Brown (he is deceased), Seymour Papert — and lots of other luminaries. In person and in your face. Wendy Pye face to face and online. More about that later.

Face-to-face, people intrigue me. I know Chris Dede and was mentored by him. I worked with Seymour Papert and was taught by him, and I have had tussles with people who are very well known about technology in schools, broadening engagement and digital equity. In courses, there are people who have watched my work and who know my personality, even when I shrink back from too much of everything in technology. Gently they beckon. I meekly follow. I think I only have the courage to continue to learn based on the friendship and encouragement of my educational friends. Vint Cerf has remained a friend and email keeps us in touch.

I sat around tables that contained important CEOs and learned to negotiate, I learned to listen well, I learned to push MY ideas.

If I had only met these people online, the relationship would be different and unreal, but the Facebook, and online communications cement our friendships and continue the dialogue. I loved talking with Henry Jenkins about New Orleans and our first impressions as children when we went.

I told him a story about a little boy who drew a picture of New Orleans that was sort of out of my understanding. It was x-rated. It was flagrantly different. But as an adult when I returned, I saw what he drew — 00. These big eyes let you know that I only went to New Orleans to the convent with nuns. I never saw anything but food on my visit and learned history. Certainly not reality.

I did meet a professor online from UCLA, and I never met him in person. I regret not meeting him in person before a terrible illness took his memory. I know what he wrote to me, and there was lots of encouragement, but I can’t say I really know him. The people I have met and been accepted by are known in some ways by me. OK, the Facebooking connections and news stream give me more personal information.

What I love about conferences is lighting the fire, the campfire conversations that happen. Forget the conference. I like talking to and exchanging ideas with people.

I am going to Harvard to a conference that will establish a new foundation for Lady Gaga. I don’t know Lady Gaga. But on a listserv I hold my ground about the lack of perception about minorities in cyberbullying. I spoke loudly online about cultural differences and the fact that there may be reasons for fear and concerns about race baiting. Most of the people don’t say much about these topics on the listserv. Danah Boyd, a Microsoft researcher, and I met at a gathering and complained again that there is a lack of understanding of the whole population of people on the Internet. (Hello, lots of people are still not connected at all or digitally literate.)

Online leads to some wonderful connections. Online also leads to a lot of BRAIN sucking. People share your ideas and market them as their own, without a lot of regard. It can be brutal and superficial. It can be heartbreaking when you find it out. I worked with a person who never taught, and it took some face to face with real teachers to understand that he did not get it. He had no idea of the background of most teachers, and I am not talking minority teachers here. Some of the people who shout from the mountaintops are not really caring about teachers. They are showmen, and they get paid well. Sometimes they teach but mostly they take.

5 Responses

  1. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } etcjournal.com – Today, 5:19 […]

  2. Ah, but is Skype face-to-face?

    I understand the problems with connecting solely with print. It’s why “smileys” were invented. With the advent of the telephone, we saw the first problems with not having F2F. If you can see the face and hear the intonations and inflections, are you F2F or not? Do you have to smell the other person to achieve that?

    I believe that we’re approaching the point where physical F2F is no more necessary than physically hands-on science labs.

  3. I like Skype, Here is what I am talking about.1164

    Learning from Others , Transforming the Teaching and Learning World.

    I wrote about face to face contact. I wanted to share a little more widely what is possible when you actually meet and get to network with people in a good conference. My friend, Dr. Manorama Talaiver and I atended a conference in the fall. I learned from it. She created a project a Wireless Summit , to share what she learned and crafted outreach, courses and people to learn from for the participants.

    Our Guru is Dr. Chris Dede, who puts together the Wireless Conference. Here is the URL to his conference so you can at least get the resources.( He also shared his resources at the ISTE Conference )http://wirelessedtech.com/ The resources from the conference are here.

    The Wireless EdTech website includes the speaker presentations, recorded sessions and photos from the conference. Well you don’t need to glue yourself to the website, but you can research , and download the white paper on wireless at your leisure.

    Bringing the Ideas Home to Farmville … and Virginia

    It was a recipe for success that Dr. Manorama Talaiver used to create outreach in a rural University, called Longwood. She excels at bringing the ideas to the learning community in Virginia. It is in Farmville , Va. It is a wonderful place to learn.

    This was the 5th Annual STEM Summit, Entitled“ Formal and Informal STEM , Learning with Mobile Devices“ on Valentine’s Day. Frederick Bertley gave us a great keynote.

    The keynote, Frederic Bertley, from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, was brilliant — talking about informal science learning. In particular, he had some great slides about African American role models in science who should be better known (instead of just movie stars and singers). Matt Dunleavy, from Radford University, also had a good presentation on ‘Mobile augmented reality for teaching and learning’.

    Dr. Frederick Bentley – Informal Science Learning
    Matt Dunleavy – Augmented Reality – AR
    John Hendron – iOS Apps for STEM
    Shodor Foundation – Patricia Jacobs & Jennifer Houchins
    Stephanie Playton – Using cell phones
    Dr. Kevin Kochersberger – Va Tech
    Dr. Brends Brand & Dr. Mary Kasarda

    There are barriers to use for teachers in technology. One thing is that we
    often are given 2.0 resources as if they are the answer to the uses of technology. People are playing around on the web with light weight applications when they could be technofluent with technology in new and meaningful ways.

    Mano offered us, Smartphone Robotics, MathFlyer, Mobile Augmented Reality for Teaching and Learning, Logo Draw with Ipad and more than that..

    I enjoyed meeting a new person, Stephanie Playton, who shared how she used cell phones with little learners, and how we could get the resources. Her presentation was awesome as well.

    So though we can learn online, and interact with others online, sometimes the personal touch and links to taking courses, state resources, and facilitated learning. Skype is fine. It can help facilitate the work of these people .

  4. Face to Face vs Virtual .. well Really!!

    So a day or so ago, as a result of being involved in a face to face seminar by FOSI earlier in the year, where I met danah boyd,( and that is the way she writes her name), I am sitting in a symposium at Harvard for the educational symposium connected to the launch of ” The Born This Way Foundation” on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Harvard University,
    The face to face involvement with danah was a key to my being involved in this launch.

    Symposium for the Launch of the Born This Way Foundation

    The combination of researchers, specialists in the field, the educators of excellence and many people of diversity with an interest in the goals fo the foundation and being linked with them in a goal for creating a new way of thinking for youth in America was heady stuff. The kids were excited later on about seeing Lady Gaga, I was excited about meeting educators,, researchers , project initiative directors and gasp, the Dean of the School of Education ( Harvard). Pretty heady stuff for a graduate of Virginia State University, a MSO Minority Serving Organization. There had been a dinner and cocktail party the night before and we met and had informal conversations with many of the participants. I met people who had books used to craft my teaching skills.

    Later in the day with a few celebrities including Katheleen Sibelius, Oprah Winfrey, DeepaK Chophra and a thousand screaming youth, who were allowed to be a part of the launch Lady Gaga came on stage. That was the center of the day for the kids.

    The event featuring Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, directors of the foundation, it was streamed live to the BTWF website .
    Distinguished guests will include Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, psychologist Susan M. Swearer and actor/host and LGBT parent and spouse David Burtka. Policy makers, non-profit organizations, foundation leaders, students and youth at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Askwith Forum will be in the audience. Here is a funny part. They made us leave our bags, our phones our cameras at the building where we convened. The youth had so many kinds of smart phones and cameras it made the adults who had been restricted from use of their devices feel a little silly for listening to the advice that we would not be able to get into the event.

    The Born This Way Foundation partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the California Endowment, and Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to support programs and initiatives that empower youth and use digital media as a way of creating change. BTWF will focus on digital mobilization to address issues of self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy. So we will use digital transmission and virtual participation as a focused part of the outreach.

    One innovative outreach that is face to face will be the Born this Way Bus and the outreach that Lady Gaga proposes to be a part of her tours. She thinks that a hamburger and a handshake and information , counseling will be a way to help make the world kinder and better.

    “This is a time of potential transformation in how young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life because of digital media,” Connie Yowell, director of education for the MacArthur Foundation, said .
    “Together we hope to establish a standard of Bravery and Kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment,” Gaga said in a statement.. She is not sure that education , the way we do it now is the answer, but she and her mother are working to make change and have involved education as one of the pillars of outreach.

    Virtual participation would have been rich as well. Walking the snowy Harvard Yard was heady for someone who never went to an Ivy League school. Lady Gaga was exciting but for me, meetiing the people in technology, education and interesting projects was very exciting.and over the top.

    Bonnie Bracey Sutton

  5. So here is a challenge for us as educations, do you do South by Southwest which has an EDU track ( and higher hotel costs), or the SITE.org conference Theme: Teaching in Exponential Times!
    Celebrating over 20 Years of Leadership in Technology and Teacher Education! or the CoSn Conference which will have the Horizon report.
    Two were face to face one a virtual mix.

    Keynote at SITE.org, Dr. James Bower
    Topic:Primates Play Together, Primates Learn Through Playing Together, Why Haven’t Teachers And Their Students Been Playing Together?

    This far ranging talk will discuss the implications of the Internet, and especially social gaming on the Internet for classrooms, teaching, and teacher professional development in the (Near) future. The talk will consider the influence of old technology (the printing press) and an historical human scaling problem (too many students, not enough teachers) on the current structure of the educational system and then consider how the Internet is fundamentally changing both.
    Biographical Information:

    Dr. James M. Bower Ph.D. is the founder, Chairman, CEO and Chief Visionary Officer for Numedeon Inc. which in 1999 launched Whyville.net as the first virtual world tween learning environment. Whyville.net currently has more than 7 million registered users who spend on average over 35 minutes on the site per login. Whyville is being used increasingly by teachers and in schools as a web-based supplement for STEM as well as Careers education. Whyville has worked with a wide range of partners to influence and engage tweens including for example: Dell, Scion (Toyota), The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, The Getty Museum, Chicago’s Field Museum, The American Association of Laboratory Animal Science, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bank Inter, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the AMD Foundation. Whyville remains focused on ‘blending’ virtual and real lives. While a Professor of Computational Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Bower also founded and co-directly the Caltech Pre-College Science Initiative (CAPSI), which provided professional training and support in hands-on inquiry based science education to teachers throughout the State of California. Dr. Bower is currently a professor of computational neurobiology at the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (bower-lab.org) and has served on education and technology advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Bower has also been the lead singer with the blues/rock band Ramon and the K-halls for many years. Dr, Bower was interesting , but I also met the creator of Kid Pix, and went through history with him and bumped into Jim Morrision. We had dinner ( how do you do that virtually?)

    Alan Kay was the person we saw virtually from the SXSW Floor,
    A lot of very creative people I know were at that conference, but the rooms during the conference were 500 dollars a night , so I got on the plane after one day , and headed home. Should have hooked up with a student on spring break and stayed in a dorm I guess.

    CoSN had the research everyone wanted. The Horizon Report, the director actually lives in Austin, but was being broadcast from Washington DC to the two conferences with a q and a session following the broadcast. Education and technology leaders, policymakers and key stakeholders in educational institutions need forward thinking information addressing opportunities for teaching, learning and creative expression. The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition is a publication of the New Media Consortium. This annual report provides a rich set of topics, examples and resources for use in considering new technologies that hold strong promise for K-12 institutions in the US and globally.

    Accompanying the Report is The CoSN Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition Toolkit, designed to facilitate local stakeholder conversations about the Report.. You have to go to the website to get this.

    “The Toolkit is comprised of a Presentation (PPT) template, Facilitator’s Guide and Discussion Activities, along with an overview video and short video clips highlighting emerging technologies identified in the Report. Videos are produced by JDL Horizons, LLC. This Toolkit is available for free, but registration is required. ”
    So we heard him, but we still did not get the report.
    Here is the link.

    At the end of the Horizon PDF it says that the Internet is no longer something that is piped into homes and via a cable linked to the wall: it is a pevasive ever present entity accessible from any place there is a cell signal.

    What I liked best at the SITE.conference was our digital citizenship initiative and the outreach to the computational sciences on our tours., So exciting to see the integration of the supercomputing ideas within a lab dedicated to educators , teachers and professors.

    Manor New Tech High School (NTHS) -http://mnths.manorisd.net/

    This high school is a technology-rich learning environment using a constructivist approach to learning. It has become a model NTHS site and educators from newly established NTHSs come to Manor for orientation and training. Participants will meet with the district superintendent and the director, faculty and students at the school.
    You can see where people put robotics into practice at this site.

    Education Visualization Lab and Visualization Center,

    The University of Texas at Austin – The Learning Technology Center Educational Visualization Lab is focused on the use of visualization technologies to understand patterns and relationships in massive education data sets. The visit will include a tour of the Learning Technology Center and also a visit to the TACC Visualization Center that includes, Stallion, the highest resolution tiled display in the world; Longhorn, the largest hardware accelerated, remote, interactive visualization cluster. Was used by NOAA in predicting path for Katrina.

    East Austin Academy College Prep -http://www.eaprep.org/

    This middle school is designed to help low-income minority inner city students prepare for college and success in the future. All students participate in an innovate program known as Globaloria. Globaloria is a social network for learning, in which they learn to create educational web-games for social change. East Austin College Prep Academy is the first charter school to integrate the Globaloria network and curriculum as a school-wide teaching and learning opportunity, and offers required daily curriculum to all students starting at 6th grade. We have heard from Globaloria on the way to change and transform learners in this journal.

    What is TACC?

    The expert staff and world-class computing systems of the Texas Advanced Computing Center support cutting-edge research in nearly every field of science, powering the discoveries of tomorrow. View the Voices of Texas Video featuring TACC’s director, Jay Boisseau, to learn more. On the web site. http://www.tacc.utexas.edu

    Texas Advanced Computing Center – Texas Advanced Computing Center is a leading resource provider in the NSF TeraGrid and operates two of the most powerful high performance computing systems in the world, which are used by thousands of scientists and engineers each year to perform research in nearly every branch of knowledge. TACC’s largest supercomputer, Ranger, can perform 579.4 trillion operations per second (or teraflops), and is nearly 30,000 faster than today’s desktop computers. TACC’s newest system, Lonestar 4, which went online in Feb. 2011, clocks in at more than 302 teraflops and offers nearly 200 million computing hours per year to researchers around the world. Ranger wears longhorns.

    Ok, we had a serious BBQ and hangout and got to network with people from all over the US and the world. That was an interesting conference. SXSW was huge .

    CoSn was training.

    We had a little training too, Microsoft let us alpha test their TEI
    initiative in the Cloud, in two strands.

    So I still do not have the answer to virtual or real.


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