Friday, March 31, 2006 

Vlog testing

I've been trying to figure out how to create either easy enhanced podcasts on Windows or else simple v-logs. I know I haven't discovered anything new for many but this may be helpful to others.

Thanks to Miguel's love of open source and time spent with VLC, he showed how to rip audio from a video. I also realized from this demo you could easily transcode any video to the .mp4 format and thus make it part of your podcast subscription.

Here's the credits clipI stick on the end of my videos as a sample.

Another one of those, "I'm not sure how this will work but it's interesting".

I'm having some trouble getting the video to download as an itune subscription. First issue was my feedburner feed was invalid. Discovered that copying and pasting from Word, creates major issues. Fixed that, now it's still not downloading the video. Posted a message to Feedburner Forum and will await their response.

Thanks to the good folks at feedburner, they let me know the following was wrong with my video:
So, looks like your mime type is incorrect. The mime type for the video should be set as video/mpeg rather than text/plain. This is something that needs to be done from the server where the media file is hosted. You may need to contact your hosting company for help depending on how familiar you are with changing mime types. It isn't a time consuming process though once you know where to look. It's basically one click! Smile

As soon as you get the mime type changed you will need to go into your FeedBurner account and head over to the troubleshootize tab. You'll need to scroll down until you see the "resync" link. Click the resync link and you'll be good to go.
I wouldn't have a clue how to change the mime so I'll upload it to Hopefully it will work now.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Podcast 15....Blogging in High Schools

Drive home reflections of my first time introducing weblogs to high school students. Lots of questions and frustrations.


4.9 MB
11:31 minutes

Show notes:
learner blogs
Student blogging policy
Secret Life of Bees
Bike lock blog
Gary Stager
Miguel Gughlin post on Flickr

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Smart Stories Smart Locations using Google Earth...John Kuglin

I heard John Kuglin last year at FETC and allow Google Earth wasn't available then, he was demonstrating some other satellite technology and sparked my interest and love of geography. This year, John spent his session demonstrating Google Earth. While there wasn't much there I didn't already know, I was enjoying the "oohs and aaaws" of the several hundred attendees many of whom had never seen or heard of Google Earth.

John Kuglin

I liked the title of his session: Smart Stories Smart Locations. The word "stories" and "conversations" may well have been the most used words at the conference which is fine by me. John not only showcased the amazing power and features of Google Earth but laid out an invitation to use it to tell stories. It might not seem like a natural fit but it really does have that potential. John continually pointed out the ability to discover tools and features not listed in any manual and that much of the potential of Google Earth is yet to be discovered but will be discovered by those willing to hack.

Today I discovered a video podcast by the School of Geography in Southampton University. They have already produced 9 episodes which are great little tutorials on using Google Earth. You can subscribe to it through itunes.

Technorati Tag: FETC2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

Grade ones are podcasting

Kathy Cassidy is a grade one teacher in Moose Jaw. She continues to demonstrate how primary students can utilize all the tools of the Read/Write web to demonstrate their learning. Her latest venture is using the podcasting tool built into David Warlick's classblogmeister.

Monday, March 27, 2006 

Podcast 14... Dinner with Bloggers

I think I understand how competitive the news business is in trying to get out stories before the other guy. As far as I can tell I'm at least the 4th one to talk about this event. But I have something the others do not; Audio. Although the quality is not your Savvy Technologist standard but if you want to sit in with the likes of Wes Fryer, Will Richardson, Tim Wilson, Rob Mancabelli and others this might be for you.

23 MB 1:06

My only regret is that I didn't have more time with Steve Dembo and have him in on this conversation. Steve was sitting down from us and was busy having his own great conversation.


Let's ban the laptops...another lame response to disruptive technology

I'm working hard here at trying to introduce laptops in the classroom. This does not help.

In the article, Professor Entman says:
"My main concern was they were focusing on trying to transcribe every word that was I saying, rather than thinking and analyzing,“ Entman said Monday. "The computers interfere with making eye contact. You’ve got this picket fence between you and the students.“
Sounds like a management issue here. You can argue all day whether students should be more focused, whether they should be handwriting, the reality is the notebook is here and by trying to ban or restrict technology you are not addressing the more important question of how to take advantage of it. It's often about engagment. If the professor is not engaging, students will find things that are more engaging. If the concern is about thinking and analyzing, there are many ways to facilitate that online as well.

Banning technology is always the easiest solution but it's usually not the best.

Here's a response from one student:
"If we continue without laptops, I’m out of here. I’m gone; I won’t be able to keep up,“ said student Cory Winsett, who said his hand-written notes are incomplete and less organized.
I believe that changes in education are going to arise more from student action that administrative decisions. Good for you Cory.

Friday, March 24, 2006 

Don't call it a laptop project....Gary Stager

Last year at FETC, I came to one session early to hear the tail end of a session by Gary Stager. I remember thinking he was quite different from the other presenters. I'm not sure what his presentation was about but he certainly had a unique delivery. Quite irreverant and refreshing. Add to that his New Jersey accent, and you've got someone worth listening to. I remember one line he used. Paraphrased somewhat,
"there's always one blowhard in the crowd that says, "it's not about the technology", then I say why are we at at technology conference instead of a Montessori conference".

Something like that. So this year I was happy to hear what he had to say about one to one computing. He's been doing it for 16 years. He's passionate about using it as an "imagination machine". Here's a few of my rather scraggly notes.

It’s not a project. This is not an experiment. The laptop computer is the primary learning instrument of the day. Failed ventures often focus on increased usage and continuing with the same old curriculum. Must offer emotion and excitement for buy-in.

We should be as concerned about future students as our current ones.

What’s the world like for students coming into our schools?

“Technology is anything that wasn’t there when you were born”

Most students touch a computer less than an hour each week.

Laptops matter because they are personal and portable.

3 types of Laptop Schools

  • Pioneers…want to make a difference

  • Marketers…want their picture in the paper

  • Their neighbours

The point is that kids should take them home. Give kids laptops so that the teachers have the chance to figure it out before they bring them anyway in the next 5 years.

-if the predominant use of the internet is to “look stuff up” kids will look up inappropriate stuff

-the laptop should be about sharing stuff

The real power of the internet

Democratizing of publishing

Unprecedented opportunities of collaboration.

Technology matters. It allows you do to things that are otherwise impossible.Stager had some other great points. He showed some videos of some great collaborative, innovative projects and talked about assessment. He hates testing. Actually I think he said he despises testing. When parents see the powerful learning taking place in these classrooms, it never crosses their minds to ask about test scores. The learning is palatable. He described a failed laptop program in Georgia where one educational leader stated proudly, "that although we've invested in these laptops, we will not change the curriculum." Laptops are distruptive and should change the way learning happens. One video showed a girl from Australia who had the opportunity to compose her own music and is now an award winning artist. Stager was careful to point out it's not necessarily about acheiving this type of success but to enable students to pursue their passions in ways they otherwise could not. It's Not a project or experiment, it's the primary instrument of the day. On a personal note, having a laptop has been critical in my development as a learner. Not being tethered to a desk allows me to write this blog post while listening to another session, which I'll blog about later.

Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Coffee with David Warlick

I had the privilege of spending some time today with David Warlick. (We didn't actually have coffee, we just sat on the floor and talked) David as most of you know is passionate about helping teachers understand the changing world and telling the new story of learning. As David stated to me, it's really old stories.

We had a great conversation ranging from blogging to our kids, to our work, politics and the differences between our countries. We've been part of many of these conversations online, it was nice to do it face to face. We were able to discuss things like old friends. Perhaps that's presumptuous of me but because of this thing called the blogosphere, it really did feel familiar. Later David presented to a large crowd. From there he jumped on a plane and headed back to North Carolina to finish up another conference.

Thanks again David for the talk.


Harnessing the New Shape of Information...David Warlick

These are my notes from David Warlick's session.
The fact that this session is very full tells me people are hungry for ideas about the Read/Write Web.

David’s presentation is all about the way these new tools are changing information. As a preliminary, David explained how his material is all online and in addition, has a wiki available for global editing and collaboration. A note taking feature is also attached to the wiki so anyone can include their notes. Will Richardson, who is sitting right in front of me is already placing notes on the wiki. A good number of people didn’t know what a wiki was.

David shows us 4 gray scale images and us if we can recognize them. Most couldn’t recognize more than 2. He asked everyone to share what they knew. “How many learned one by asking their neighbour?” Most said they did. A simple but great activity for demonstrating the power of collaboration. I might steal that one.

His son plays the Euphonium. He shows us the article in wikipedia and poses the question about whether or not it should be used. Classic responses around trust, credibility, authorship and censorship are elicited. Vandalism is fixed within 2 minutes. David talks about gate keeper issues and suggests using it with 5th graders and having them verify the validity of the article. Wikipedia now boasts 1,000,000 articles compared to 65,000 with Britannica. Nature magazine research concluded that the average wikipedia article has 4 errors compared to 3 with Britannica. Students can now be part of the global discussion. We need to teach students to prove the authority rather than assume it.

Mash-ups are web based applications built to import data from other sites. One of those visually demonstrates news stories that occur globally on a world map. David captured the daily map over the summer of 2005 and created a movie to show where news happened.

The long tail illustrates a growing market for everyone. David was able to publish his book 2 hours after it was written. He doesn’t plan to get rich but has been able to put his daughter through college.

Blogging began in the 18th century with pamphlets. The printing press allowed many people to publish. RSS allows you to keep track of blog entries and subscribe. He also shows how to subscribe to news feeds. We are training the information to find us.

Online bookmarking also incorporates RSS and tagging. Only 10 people have heard of

David talks about the Personal Learning Network and his process of discovering others he can learn from. The idea of finding others through links and comments and finding powerful professional development.

The after the London bombings someone created a weblog and invited others to post. David shows some of the 2,000 photos that were submitted.

There weren’t many ideas here new to me but I appreciate the way David puts it together. I could tell many were quite amazed at the new landscape of learning. David and I entered the blogging world at roughly the same time and along with a host of others are experiencing many of these things together from an educational perspective.


What Students Will Need to Know and be able to Do...Willard Daggett

Willard Dagget makes a number of excellent points. He says we need to spend more time helping parents and the public understanding why we need to change. The data he uses is a combination of his own research team and a number of references from Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat.

Globalization refers to the world wide competition that now exists in most of the working world. Since the information work now makes up 71% of all jobs, this is more critical than we thought. What this also means is the emphasis we've place on science and math must be increased. In the near future 90% of all engineers will be Asian. To me, this simply is a result of a society that was forced to change and recognize where the future lies. He provided some more statistics and concepts related to nano and bio technology. The concept of DNA computing replacing binary computer was something I'd never heard of. According to Daggett, this will replace everything....scary thought.

He then talked about his model school conference as a solution to this changing world. Ideas like looping, paring down curriculum and teaching technical reading. All these things are valid ideas. I'm not sure about the relationship between the first part of his talk and his solutions. I'm always a bit fearful of using the Asian explosion in technology as motivation. It almost comes across as a we/us mentality.

This is the third time I've heard him and was one of my first posts in my blogging life. His message is quite similar to the one from last year. His research team seems to keep him up to speed and it's helpful to be able to have some insights into what's ahead.

Note: I'm writing this beside Will Richardson who I think has some less than positive impressions of some of the speakers including Daggett.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Shopping is like your newsreader

Will posted about being an RSS fraud.

Yesterday, in three straight presentations about the wonders and potential of RSS to rock our eduworlds, I kept getting more and more embarrased at the fact that when I showed my Bloglines account, which has ballooned up to 197 feeds, it was obvious that while I might be subscribed, I'm not keeping up with my reading. In fact, if you totalled up the number of unread messages in my list, it's a very audience appealing 3739.

He goes on to say:

I made the people in attendance yesterday swear that they would take a time out if they ever got up to 20 feeds in their aggregators. Hopefully that will keep them from feeling like a total RSS failure if they should "get behind" in their reading.

I've been hovering around the 250 mark for quite a while. Currently I'm at 260. I clean house from time to time but always add a few, espescially when local bloggers get going.

So why is a newsreader like a shopping? Recently, a friend of mine took our sons to Minneapolis for a sports weekend. We also hit the Mall of America. My shopping style is to do a quick cruise of the entire mall and then focus in on the stores I'm particularly interested in. I knew we had a few hours before the game and used my time accordingly. I like the fact there are other stores there that I may or may not go into. I'm aware they are there and given time, I may go in there because you never know if there's something that interests you. I like malls. Lots of choice. I don't feel like a failure if I don't hit every store. Many stores I just peek in, get the drift and I'm out.

That's why I have 260 feeds. I don't get to them all but I like the choice.

Will sounds like a big box store guy. Fewer choices but lots of depth. Fortunately, there's room for both. I just don't see how you can get by with 2o stores/feeds.


Early Impressions of FETC 2006

I just wanted to make a few comments on my first impressions of FETC. I had a quick walk through the exhibits. Obviously the sheer volume of vendors provides quite an experience. Yet so many of them focused on the administration of education. I suppose that's where much of the big dollars is to be made. Certainly coming from a school division of 7,000 students can't compare to some of the school districts in the US of hundreds of thousands. These vendors are interested in making big deals with big districts. There's nothing wrong with this but the majority of these do not have a direct focus on information literacy or the great tools of the read/write web. Is that because many of these tools are free?

Rudolph Crew spoke about some very important ideas including civic literacy and personal literacy. Civic literacy, as he describes, refers to the way students respond to the world. In many cases our students do not have the social understandings and appreciation to cope in the world. His explanation went deeper than this but basically he argued that while schools may be improving in some test scores and achievement, many students are graduating without the necessary interpersonal skills and awareness of civic issues to be the successful citizens we'd like to have. Although he didn't explicitly state it, the relationship between this and information literacy is quite evident. Even though we know students are smart and have many skills and knowledge, they often struggle with people skills. Just as students bring many technological skills and understandings, they often don't understand the implications or have the analytical skills to manage information.

I like what he had to say. Without having a indepth understanding of American education, I still wonder how he justifies the continued emphasis on testing and the less than adequate testing measures. But I'll take away his ideas about not going along for the ride and being proactive in our quest to make the best use of technology and preparing students for the 21st century.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

March Madness in Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw is hosting Hoopla, the provincial High School basketball tournament. There are over 50 teams representing boys and girls in 6 different school size groupings.

I've been involved in setting up streaming video from 2 of the 5 locations. You can watch your choice of 2 games live Thursday evening beginning at 6PM CST and again Friday at 4PM and all day Saturday.

The streams can be found here.


Casey asked up set up, I don't have the total technical understanding but here's what I know:
Our technicians set up a Windows Media Streaming Server. We then are using Windows Media Encoder to encode the stream and also create an archived recording locally for future download. Camera is connected via Firewire to the laptop and the laptop runs Windows Media Encoder. We had a bit a an issue running a network cable to the gym but figured it out and now it's there permanently for future streaming. The software I believe is all free.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

Why don't you/they blog?

Will Richardson points to comments made by some promienent educational technologists and their description of blogging.

What got me going was when Hall Davidson said “Blogs are online journals when done right” and then added that it’s “not a format that going to pull anything else out of you” compared to more traditional tools. David Thornburg had an equally lukewarm assessment, and while Peter Reynolds I think got it more than the rest, he didn’t get the chance to articulate it very well. (He also said that he considered MySpace a blogging site.)

Ok, I know. Let it go. The thing that gets me is that none of these three are bloggers of any consistency, at least that I can find. Hall does blog at the Discovery Educator Network, but not very often. And I guess I just wish they wouldn’t opine about the usefulness of technologies that they don’t fully understand. Blogs are much more than online journals when done right. They offer much more than the traditional tools in terms of giving voice, building community, enhancing learning not just from a writing standpoint.

So the question I have is why don't they blog? I'm not suggesting that this is the only form of communication but right now this is the best tool for engaging in global conversation. I'm guessing they'd say time is an issue. That simply tells you where it fits on their priority. I'm guessing they understand blogging but without really experiencing it, it's difficult to appreciate the real professional development that occurs. The conversations that I'm involved with and the resources that have been shared with me cannot be overstated.

If it's valuable, you need to be involved and you need to be blogging. On the question of time, I'm responding to Will's post when I've got a meeting in 22 minutes, 10 unanswered emails and some other paper work. I'll get to those things but this is important too. Maybe more. If a post like this attracts the likes of David Thronburg, and Hall Davidson to write more, great. I've heard David Thronburg speak and he's got lots to say. I've heard others talk about Hall Davidson but I don't know him because he really doesn't blog. I'd love get into conversations with them.

I'm a small blip on the edublogoshpere but because of my conversations with David Warlick and his willingness to be part of the global conversation, he's agreed to sit down with me next week at FETC. I got to spend 2 hours with Stephen Downes in November. That's powerful and not that I'll be able to meet everyone who I subscribe to but this likely would not have occured if I weren't involved in the global conversation.

I'm talking to our directors and superintendents about blogging. I think I've got them interested and excited. There are many in our local school division who want to be part of big conversations. We want our leaders to blog. Please Mr. Thronburg when can I subscribe to your blog?

Monday, March 13, 2006 

Blogs are like Sharks

If you make presentations, you need to be subscribing to Presentation Zen. As part of a recent post on using clear visuals, this example of an effective visual was used.

Meaning? Blogs must keep moving or they die. Constantly in motion. As someone who has gotten a lot of blogs going for people, I'll use this image/analogy as part of my routine. When I say to people, I can get you up and running with a blog in a few minutes, it seems almost too easy and it is. The hard part is maintaining it. Finding something to "feed" on.

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Life in 2015

As we try to help our students and teachers understand the importance of information literacy, it's often a difficult task to visual the future.

Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson have created a history of media video from 2015. It begins in the late 1980's as the internet as a public media begins. It proposes some interesting possiblities about the future including the demise of the New York Times to become a print only form for the elite and elderly. David Warlick used the 2014 version for a recent presentation. Viewing this will hopefully raise a number of questions, concerns and meaningful dialouge about the changing nature of information.

Monday, March 06, 2006 

Martha Blogs

When your seven year old wants her own website, what do you do?

Marthas Blog

Check out

Friday, March 03, 2006 

Grade one blog mentors

Kathy Cassidy and her blogging grade ones are working closely with another grade one class to get them started blogging. Be sure to head over to Kathy's class and Keith's class and leave a comment to encourage these young writers.

First graders helping other first graders drink the blog koolaid..."that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!"


Take a look at Bubble Share

Bubble Share has been making the rounds throughout the blogosphere. While it's tough to beat flickr, it rivals SlideStory. The ability to add narration and doing it so easily makes it a worth a look.

Made this one in about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Blackboard may be worth a second look

Not that I've extensive experiences with CMS but my reading and limited experience has turned me off of Blackboard for a number of reasons. In particular its lack of use of web 2.0 tools including RSS.

Our province has purchased its rights for any teachers. Many have taken advantage of it both for online classes and for traditional class webpages. I haven't encouraged its use like some would like but now things may change.
"...We have worked year after year with our clients to create powerful networked learning environments for instructors and learners at individual sites. Now, with the Blackboard Beyond Initiative, we are taking a critical next step by fostering a network of networked learning environments. The potential is tremendous, but it will take a lot of collaborative hard work to make the vision a reality."
They aren't there yet but this looks promising.


Creative Commons for teachers

After my presentation on storytelling, I touched on Creative Commons as a resource for teachers. Wes Fryer does a great job simplying its benefits for students and teachers.

Copyright and intellectual property issues are complex and often ambiguously defined. Unfortunately, it does not appear that copyright law in the United States is going to change substantially in the early 21st century. Before despairing and resolving to give up on student multimedia projects for fear of legal reprisals (or at least the ability to share projects over the Internet via the school website, a blog, or a podcast) teachers as well as students need to learn about Creative Commons. Creative Commons ( “is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works.” Everyone involved in education should be familiar with Creative Commons both as content consumers and content producers, wanting to legally access and use digital content. Whether someone is creating a digital story with PhotoStory3, an enhanced podcast with Garageband3, a PowerPoint presentation, or a narrated online slideshow with BubbleShare, Creative Commons licenses and website search tools can provide clear guidance about acceptable and legal uses of digital content to create and share “derivative works” using these materials. These digital resources can include images, music audio files, movies, or any other type of media.

Read the rest here.


Podcast 13

This episode deals with my reflections on time spent in a Tablet PC classroom.


Show notes:
Anne Davis
The Write Weblog
Grade 5/6 Classroom (at post time only one student had posted)
Kathy Cassidy's weblog

Hills near Avonlea
This is the view outside the classroom.

After listening to the podcast, I realized I overdid one particular phrase. In light of my annoying mistake, I've created a contest that I explain at the very beginning of the podcast.