Wednesday, December 21, 2005 

How does Santa do it?

Here's an insight into how Santa covers the earth and delivers all those gifts in such a short period of time.

You'll need Google Earth. If you don't already have it you need it. Even Alec has it now...I think.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 

WikiSpace and Blogger Integration

This might be interesting.

I haven't used wikis alot but mostly because it requires collaboration and some training. I did a workshop on wikis a while back and showed folks wikispaces. It seemed to offer the standard tools and was fairly intuitive. Now they've added blogger and typepad integration. So I'm following the instructions to export this entry.

  1. First, make sure you have integrated your blog on Wikispaces as described above.
  2. When creating a blog entry, put the following text at the bottom of your post: [ [wiki:spacename:pagename] ] e.g. [ [wiki:adam:politics] ]
  3. Post the blog entry
  4. Within half an hour you'll see one or two things happen
    1. The blog post will be appended to the wiki page you specified
    2. If you're on blogger, the text you entered will be converted into a nice looking Wikispaces reference with the Wikispaces logo and the text "This entry is linked to a Wikispaces page" and some other detail
Okay so instead of a comment, go to the wiki and play around.

Monday, December 19, 2005 

Are Wikis Worth the Time?

The latest issue of Leading and Learning with Technology features an article by yours truly.

In it, I go toe to toe with a teacher librarian on the merits of using wikipedia as a research tool. You can take a wild guess on which side I take. There's also a poll you can take after you read both sides.

Just so you know, I'm married to a teacher librarian so it's nothing personal.


Posse Talk with Stephen Downes part 3

Although the eggs are probably cold by now, the conversation still is warm. Join us for our discussion.

The highlight for me was our talk about potholes and education. Sounds weird but it works.

As usual, Rob has done a great job with shownotes.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 

Where will it lead?

After our posse talk last evening, a number of very random thoughts are running through my head. Allow me to ramble...

Alec wonders about all the "stuff" that's out there such as blogs, podcasts, et al and is concerned that the good stuff we talk about and create may not last as technology changes.

I don't have a great response but in the spirit of rambling and randomness, I check my feedburner stats today and was taken back a bit with this graph.

So sometime from September to now, my readership has tripled. As I listened to the EdTech Talk Podcast about the edublog awards, they were talking about the best individual awards and mentioned that those bloggers (Will, Stephen, Barbara and Ulises) have been doing this for a while and have found not only an audience but a voice that is distinct. I'm finding this to be very true for me, not that I'm anywhere close to their league but this space has allowed me to experiment and play and thankfully, folks have been kind enough to comment or better yet, link to me from their space.

So where does it lead? I hope Alec's fear (you'll have to listen to the podcast when it comes out to get his exact thoughts) that all may be lost is unsubstantiated, but I don't know. Yet, even if all of this stuff is lost, there has been great learning and fun in creating. It reminds me of my lego days. Most of the fun was building stuff. Even if someone kicked it over that was fine because I'd just build it again and even better.

PS. Although initially I had mentioned to vote for us, I think the Dave and Jeff really deserve this one. The work way harder than us and offer some outstanding discussions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 

Chalk one more up for Wikipedia

This article would indicate that wikipedia is on par with Britannica and others. Although I've thought this, I've never known for sure. I like the concept of wikipedia and would certainly use it as ONE resource. Perhaps as an equal resource.
...the resource is almost as accurate as the online encyclopedia Britannica, at least when it comes to science.
The article goes on to say that of 42 randomly selected topics, there were no distinguishable differences in either encyclopedia.

Terry Freedman may not agree, but I'm sticking to my guns. Perfect knowledge is tough to find. Weinberger suggests at times all we need is "good enough". Wikipedia is better than good enough and if you don't think so, change it yourself!

UPDATE: Here's a interview with the Nature study and also Jimbo Wales.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 

RSS Toilet Paper

I love RSS. But I'm not sure this is for me.

Then again as my late grandfather once said, "Everyone's got to go sometime."

via Jack McLeod


Posse Talk with Stephen Downes Part 2

Here's the second part of the our talk with Stephen Downes. Rob's done a great job with the show notes. I especially liked the wikipedia link to the "more cowbell" reference.

Collectively I believe we drank 56 cups of coffee but there's no documentation on that.

Monday, December 12, 2005 

Wayne Gretzky on educational reform

The one to one computing issues has been around a while but until recently has not captured my full attention. Now it has.

I am realizing more and more that we must do as the great one says, "I skate to where the puck is going, everyone else skates to where it is." Thanks to Governor King for resurrecting that gem. But it's true. Although many see the value in a one to one initiative, few are convinced or determined enough to see this to fruition. However, you can add another state to the list. This means the idea is not as radical as it used to be. I'm more hopeful the students in my new division may be part of a new revolution.

After reading Mark Prensky's Adapt and Adopt article, I sent it out to all our technology people and our superintendents and prefaced it with it as "my technology vision" I received some interesting comments. I'll include them here without names just because I didn't ask permission but want the ideas to be part of the dialogue.

Customization of every computer would create many, many more systems that simply stopped working and were no longer functional. Who would maintain these systems? IT resources (human resources) are extremely limited as it is, the costs for this model would be much higher than it currently is. The initial cost of a computer is very small when compared to the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) over time. Here is a link to a case study of TCO at the Texas School District, It is true that TCO will continue to decrease, but at this time one-to-one computing is still a VERY expensive model. MIT is currently developing a sub $100 notebook ($100 Laptop Initiative)

By definition, the kids would have notebook computers as opposed to desktops. Notebook computers as a shorter life span are VERY limited in capacity and are not readily upgradeable or expandable (i.e. if new, innovative technology comes out you may end up in a situation where none of the notebooks can take advantage of it. TCO of a Wi-Fi enabled notebook alone is pegged at 3 to 4 percent per year higher than non-enabled notebooks which equates to $197 -– $325 annually (Gartner Group).

These are challenging issues. Can someone address these? I can't. But I still think there's a way. There is no doubt that cost is a huge stumbling block. But are we still able to provide students with the same education with a lab setup or even pods? What is reasonable access?

  • Once a week?
  • Once a day?
  • Anytime?
Here's another response to the Pensky article.

I agree that we need to do new things in new ways in education and technology is one force of change which should be used to its advantage. I've learned not to get too uptight about not knowing everything about working technology because the kids help me. What I try to do is get them to think about what they are doing. We have gotten kind of lazy about thinking and problem-solving independently. We are creating a non-thinking generation and a lot of that has to do with the power consumerism has in/over our lives. We are all considered items that can be bought and sold and the marketplace would have us believe our minds should be consumed by thinking about how we are going to "get" things or decorate our bodies. Unfortunately this takes up a lot of our time. And a lot of people like to be told what and how to think whether it is through media, religion or politics. We are seldom open to true debate or thought anymore. We are all supposed to be the same. This is something I think we need to address in education and if technology can do this that is great.

Some kids will be more engaged learning through technology; others are engaged by art or music or words or other people. Don't you think? I know all children need to have access to technology and know how to use it to their benefit. I don't think it is acceptable that some people of my generation don't even try to enter the computer age, but I suppose as with everything, one has to have patience. My generation does seem to be becoming more computer literate.

There are a couple ideas here. One being the need to emphasis literacy in varying levels. If indeed students are developing literacy in an online environment, as educators, we are compelled to be involved in their understanding. The ideas mentioned here have little to do with technology but a great deal about learning in general.

One to one computing is simply about recognizing this is where so much of learning occurs. Like it or not, this is the world we live in. Tim Wilson mentioned in his podcast that he talked to a group of 6th graders and mentioned that 10 years ago when those students were still in diapers, the internet was brand new. Consider the changes in technology in the past 10 years. Now consider the changes that will occur in the next 10 years. Is your head spinning?

To paraphrase Governor King, "Michael Jordan didn't become the greatest basketball player by going to the basketball lab for 45 minutes a week".

Monday, December 05, 2005 

It's just nice to be nominated

The Posse has been nominated for an edublog award in the best audio/visual category. I noticed this idea milling around the blogosphere but didn't pay much attention. The site states that 60 nominations were submitted which hardly qualifies as global pulse but again, it's just nice to be nominated. If you are so inclined, you can head over and cast your vote.

Rick, since you're used to receiving awards, you can start writing the acceptance speech.

Sunday, December 04, 2005 

Creative things to do with a Camera phone

I've often wondered why someone would bother with a cameraphone since the quality is so lousy. I don't have a camera phone but do have a camera on my Palm which again, doesn't shoot a great picture.

Here's a list of neat ways to use your camera phone.


My Theory of Relativity

My recently adopted criteria of "Relevant, Engaging and Ownership" as a criteria for learning is definitely in its infancy. I've been saying that teachers need to address the ever popular question of "why do we have to learn this?" as part of how we do business.

But in examining my theory of relativity, two things have recently challenged my thinking. First of all, in a prior Posse Podcast, Rick Schwier discussed a university course on folk tales which has never had any relevance to his life. However, he remarked much he enjoyed the experience both because of the content and obviously the engaging nature of the course. So he makes the case for those things that are not entirely relevant.

I can agree that some things we learn may not completely link to our lives but offer a rich experience that will in some way enhance our lives. Appreciation of other cultures may not seem relavent but certainly enriches our lives. So this example helps to guard against a learning environment that dismisses anything outside our current understanding. Right now our curriculum is in no danger of being overly concerned with relevance but I'll keep this concept in mind.

The other challenge was a discussion that occured in our car today. As our daughter attempted to negotiate quitting her viola lessons, we assured her that she would not be happy with us if we let her quit. While she may not appreciate the relevance of music lessons now, I am living proof of someone who wished my parents had been more diligent in keeping me in piano lessons.

Piano LessonsAs you can see in the photo, our front window was in clear view. Although in this shot, the drapes are closed, usually they were open and I could plainly see my buddies outside playing street hockey or football. That was relevant at the time. My negotiation skills were quite good and I was able to convince my parents to allow me to quit my piano lessons. While they did make me pursue music (trombone lessons) in later years, I regret not having continued with the piano.

So there are times when students may not see the relevance but we need to. So if you believe Calculus is going to be important for kids, make sure that at least you know why it's relevant. Stephen Downes says he's still waiting for it to be relevant. Not sure it will ever be.

So my theory is now slightly modified...but I think better.

Saturday, December 03, 2005 

Overview of blogging tools

Danny Maas has put together a nice video which provides an introduction to several blogging platforms. It's about 16 minutes long. He plans to create 3 more. Thanks for the great work.