This is a story worth telling. With the snows last week trapping much of the DEN leadership in the east, schedules and events became bent out of shape. The Poway TechExpo was scheduled for March 15 near San Diego in California. I had committed to do the keynote to support Linda Foote and the great DEN teachers there, since Poway teachers have been doing such excellent technology work with their students. But there I was stranded in Pennsylvania. Brainstorming with Linda, we decided to try something bold–do the keynote on one PC via Webex and the speaker (me) via iChat on a Mac. The problem was that where I was staying had dish-dependent Internet service–not an acceptable risk. So Scott Kinney (man with rag at left) decided to use the local Panera bakery-cafe–despite their advisory note to limit Internet table use to 30 minutes. To do this, we had to buy a firewire webcam (a camcorder), cables, and headset all before the 8 AM (PST) start time. We became, in Linda’s words, the "can do team." Scott found the right retailers and the Panera, and we set up shot. We tested the iChat camera with Lucas, an educator in Belgium, who happened to be up (3:30 PM their time). But when we tried to connect with Poway, the iChat camera wouldn’t connect. After double-checking the connection with DEN member Carol Anne McGuire’s classroom (visually impaired students/Rock Our World), we realized the problem might be at the California end. So Ross Kallen (yellow circle at left), at the Poway end, connected with his brother Scott (red circle) in Chicago, who connected with me at Panera’s in Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that the camcorder kept turning off (Scott ran out to buy a tape to feed it), the keynote went off without a hitch, and seemed to work well on both ends. It shows that the technology can work and that there are administrators who will give it a chance–and great teachers to urge them to do it. And, I just have to mention that a cellphone once again played a prominent part. Small world category: Ross’s brother Scott designed the back end for KitZu, my original digital kit collaborative project with OCDE and is working with DEN master Lance on an upcoming student media project.
Sometimes, when you see people talking to the air and gesturing at nothing, there’s nothing insane going on–something crazy, but sane. We need to redefine madness. And, come to think of it, this morning I did a webinar from California on embedding videos into PowerPoints for Magnolia public schools in Arkansas. Why in the world do we travel? (Answer: that primate bonding thing. More on that later.) And thanks, Sue, for that great Temple Grandin book.