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Monday, December 24, 2007

Listen to NPR's tribute to the anniversary of the blog

National Public Radio's tribute to the 10 year anniversary of the blog.

NPR did a great job of giving tribute to the blog with a complete mashup of many voices (including mine) about the blog. It is amazing to be included in this tribute to the blog with many blogging greats. Amazing!

Take a listen to the show. I think it is a great, creative piece that really highlights the aspects of blogging using audio.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Blogs are not the death of writing but the evolution

a simulpost with TechLearning

Just when society needs education to step in and help us learn to well-use this technology, education chooses to treat electronic media like some stiff sock found behind the bench in the boys locker room.

This week as I pondered the tragic deaths of several people in our hometown, I had new insight into the meaning of the season. What did I do? I wrote a poem and blogged it. I want to share it and what this means for the evolution of communications.

This is what I posted today over on my blog:

Christmas Wrap Up

Based upon true happenings in my hometown this season.

Snuggled amid neat, shiny houses set in a line
the funeral home rests quietly across the street from mine.

Tonight nestled in its silent passages
a young man reclines neath icy lashes.

Ageless in repose,
his friend slumbers at the church juxtaposed
to the trappings and tree
and merry gaiety.

In the crestfallen morn
they’ll be transformed.

Wrapped in silken blankets, put into a wooden box and sealed
to be hidden under an old fir tree in the field,
shiny new granite tags labeling their present plight
sleep in heavenly peace through the silent night.

Around the world in holiday splendor,
homes exude hope for a time to remember.

Sleepy tousled noggins eagerly wriggle out
of their supine blanketed nests with a shout!

While anxious kinfolk dream of perfection
hoping for squeals and happy satisfaction.

Yet, if we’d rub the avarice from our eyes
I think most clearly we would surmise
the best presents aren’t wrapped up, sealed tight,
and hidden from sight

but are the sleepy happy humans who play
amidst the trappings of the day.

(C) 2007 Victoria A. Davis, All Rights Reserved

I share this because this one blog post literally has taken me all week to write.

There are those who believe that blogs are the death of all that is good and noble about writing... and represent some sort of weakening of the mind.

As I have struggled with these senseless tragedies this week, I crafted this poem full of all of the meaning that I learned in my literature classes. Sleep represents death. The use and reuse of figurative Christmas language in the part talking about the burial of the two teenagers. It has probably been rewritten 30 times!

I don't say this to point out any poetic prowess of mine but to say this...

blogs are a medium.

Just as paper can hold poetry or pornography, penmanship or im-speak, blogs can do the same.

But the usefulness of blogs comes in its rapid delivery, searchability, and connectability.

Rapid Delivery
How did we keep up with the Myanmar blogger and how did "Don't Taze me Bro?" become "The newest cultural touchstone of our pop-cultural lexicon."

RSS has turbo charged our communications with the speed and force of, well, a tazer!

We can see what people think. Not just the proud and important, but the humble little school teacher sitting at her desk working away. Using tags and pinging technorati are things that good bloggers do to become part of the conversation. I teach it to my students as young as ninth grade because it gives them voice.

We can connect and comment on other people's work. We can remix and share. We can communicate with others in a way that literally cannot be done on paper.

The death of paper?
This isn't the death of paper. Paper still has its needs and with things like the Amazon Kindle coming out, the word electronic paper is beginning to enter our vocabulary, perhaps because it is less scary than the word "blog." Oh, and you can get a blog on your electronic paper, but I doubt in 10 years if we'll even call it a blog any more.

The medium is evolving but it doesn't mean that the excellence of communications should degrade.

Why do we have so much IM speak, slang, fractured grammar usage and misspelled words inundating us?

Perhaps it is because education has ignored the evolution.

Just when society needs education to step in and help us learn to well-use this technology, education chooses to treat electronic media like some stiff sock found behind the bench in the boys locker room.

Society is organizing itself and determining the best ways to use these tools and will do so with or without education. I for one think that some of the greatest people I know are educators and that we're perfect for the job of helping society effectively use this new medium.

However, as we move forward to a society that can send and receive education any place any time from anyone, the best teachers will become SuperTeachers and the worst schools, districts, and teachers may find themselves completely without a job.

Electronic publishing eliminates geographic advantage and pushes our content out to a world that includes those with an internet connection. My sister is an online professor for Savannah College of Art and Design and her students include people of all ages from ALL continents... often in a 15-20 person class. She lives in tiny little Camilla, Georgia and is an incredible teacher.

So, I'm not going to jump up and down and yell and scream for educators to listen. For, by not listening, they seal their own fate. The rest of the world will go on without them, blogging, wiki-ing, podcasting, ustreaming, twittering, web 3-d'ing, and networking.

I and many other teachers like me, would love the chance to give students a GREAT education. And by the way, if the class I teach is easily duplicated to rote, routine steps, why couldn't it be taught from a teacher in India for far less?

Of course face to face is always best, but as virtual classrooms and other technologies improve in their ability to facilitate two way communications, don't think tenure is going to save a failing district from internet-savvy parents taking their kids elsewhere in the next five years.

The point is this.

Electronic publishing of all kinds is simply an evolution in publishing like cuneiform, papyrus, the Gutenberg press, and every other ancestor. We will continue to communicate content and improve the way we do it.

It is time to stop treating blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. like Greek and realize that we will become as antiquated if we don't learn that these tools aren't such a big deal, they're just a new way to do an old thing.

This past week, we set up a private school-wide Ning for parents, grandparents, teachers, and students and many of our teachers have started blogging. It is demystifying it for them and they're realizing that blogging is no harder than writing an e-mail. They realize it is just another medium that is imperative to overlay on top of an already excellent academic program and that to ignore these tools means dire consequences for not only our students but our school.

Make it easy for others to follow your lead.
Make it understandable why they need to.
Make it important on your to do list.

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Christmas Wrap Up

Christmas Wrap Up

Based upon true happenings in my hometown this season.

Snuggled amid neat, shiny houses set in a line
the funeral home rests quietly across the street from mine.

Tonight nestled in its silent passages
a young man reclines neath icy lashes.

Ageless in repose,
his friend slumbers at the church juxtaposed
to the trappings and tree
and merry gaiety.

In the crestfallen morn
they’ll be transformed.

Wrapped in silken blankets, put into a wooden box and sealed
to be hidden under an old fir tree in the field,
shiny new granite tags labeling their present plight
sleep in heavenly peace through the silent night.

Around the world in holiday splendor,
homes exude hope for a time to remember.

Sleepy tousled noggins eagerly wriggle out
of their supine blanketed nests with a shout!

While anxious kinfolk dream of perfection
hoping for squeals and happy satisfaction.

Yet, if we’d rub the avarice from our eyes
I think most clearly we would surmise
the best presents aren’t wrapped up, sealed tight,
and hidden from sight

but are the sleepy happy humans who play
amidst the trappings of the day.

(C) 2007 Victoria A. Davis, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Top 10 Books for Christmas

I'd like to share with you my favorite books (since we're approaching Amazon's "drop dead" date for ordering for Christmas.)

During Christmas, I'll also share how I made this widget and ideas for bloggers to utilize them on their blog. A long time critic of google adsense, programs like Amazon Associates can allow a blogger to ethically "monetize" their blog while retaining their own independence and credibility.

Respond to Hurricaine Maine's Quandry

Hurricaine Maine has written a very open discussion about something happening within her control. I think that we need to respond on our various blogs and link back to his article to show multiple perspectives on this topic.

This is a summary of what happened:

Student's viewed Al Gore's Movie, an Inconvenient Truth.

"Back to the movie: One student wrote in his my space about what he felt about the movie and global warming. Not kind, but his opinion. What bothers me is how he reacted when another student tried to clear up some of the misconceptions he had and also asked for an explanation of a statement that he made. She had links, direct statistics from reputable sources, etc. I know it is off of school time, but he reacted by removing her as a friend and deleting her posts. I equate that to the same as saying: "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah - I can't hear you".
"Maybe I am making too much of it but I am trying hard to get them to be critical of information, receptive of other viewpoints, and be respectful to another viewpoint. Both students are very intelligent, opinionated, but the responder works in class like a citizen."
The teacher goes on to describe how she is using this as a teachable moment. But what should she teach?

Here is my response:

"Yes, it is a teachable moment, but I think there are several things here to get.

1) Yes, a person has a right to determine what is published on their own blog. So the person who removed her as a friend and deleted her post had the RIGHT to do that. There is a difference, however, sometimes between having a RIGHT and doing the right thing.

2) If a person wants to be considered a CREDIBLE BLOGGER and credible person to converse with, they will allow dissenters on their blog and respond with reasoned, well thought out responses. Remembering, that one can be "friends" and still disagree. Also remembering that it is ok to revise a post (teach them the strike tag which must often be used by hand) or to respond to their own blog in the comments. (I premoderate to make sure my blog is rated G and to remove spam, but work to allow both sides.)

3) To be part of a conversation means that you join in. When one deletes a dissenters comments (especially one that is well thought out and articulate), they then invite a response on the other person's blog. One that may harm their own reputation and cause and voice. And if that happens, there is NO control.

I'd rather have discussion on my own blog any day than that of someone else, because when you're talking about a controversial topic, it is important to remain engaged in the conversation.

4) Enemy today, friend tomorrow.
Often the "friend" or "enemy" status is the result of the topic because rarely do two people disagree (or agree) on everything. We are not carbon copies of one another, nor will we ever be. Rejoice in the harmony or disharmony and understand that it is part of life.

And yes, you are right to continue on this, perhaps the response of some other edubloggers to your blog post will show other perspectives on this important topic.

Just remember, though, when it comes down to it, a blogger has the right to control their OWN blog. And if they choose to be onesided and not open for debate, then that is their choice.

We have to understand that when we read a blogger's web page, that unless they allow dissent, we're only getting one side. And if I only see one side on a bloggers website, I approach with caution. Who wants to waste their time somewhere that free dialog is not allowed?"
I think it is important to highlight that students have a choice in this matter but they need to understand the implications of that choice. They do have a choice of what appears on their blog.

They do not have a choice of what will appear on the blogs of others when they ignore them. (And no one likes to be ignored. He just forced his former "friend" to post on her own blog. Watch out!)

This is out online "flame wars" escalate and it is good to talk through what will happen so that when such decisions are made, students can understand the implications of either path.

What do you think? I'd love your opinions.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Motivational Friday: You Fill Up My Senses

The younger folks who read this blog will make fun of me for this. But I really needed this song this morning.

Sometimes the greatest things in life are completely free. I particularly like this song because he sings it beautifully in Spanish at the end and it is just beautiful. The beauty of wanting to communicate, no matter the language.

And I contemplate just the beauty of love. The greatness of my own husband. The beauty of seeing my three children and four nieces and nephews make sugar cookies last night. The beauty of enjoying a great laugh with my students in the midst of pushing ourselves past what we can do.

Sometimes my senses are full and it is a great thing.

Good morning world!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Notes from Dan Pink Session Tonight

Twenty nine of us at the session with Dan Pink tonight over at Discovery educators took notes! We're still working on them and you can view the google doc to take a look of the current information.

I've pasted the current document below. Great session!

Group Notes from Discovery Educators Webinar with Dan Pink

December 13, 2007

Notes as taken by 29 participants.

  • _Right brain = creative, artistic
  • Left brain = teach to the test, logical
  • Impact of Abundance - Asia - Automation
  • Utility and Significance and its importance.

  • The media often reports the bad thing that happens quickly rather than the quiet good thing that happens slowly.
  • The role of school is not to deliver employees to employers however this dominates conversation


  • Material prosperity
  • Good news that happens quietly doesn't get the airtime of bad news that happens quickly -- that is a profound statement
  • Utility and significance......utility is ubiquitous

Offshoring and outsourcing

  • Not a huge number of white color jobs lost to offshoring (only 400,000 jobs lost to this)
    This outsourcing has been under hyped.

  • India has 1 billion people -- a tiny fraction of india's population
  • White Collar processes are being automated like blue collar jobs have in the past..(i.e. uncontested divorces)
  • 1 million us tax reports done in India last year

Design - Putting significance and meaning to what is learned

rest are in the book

High Tech??

High Concept and High Touch matter more

A world of ubiquitous facts

Putting facts into context and deliver with emotional impact

Novelty and Nuance

  • in education, going the other direction
  • Alexandria--need to prepare kids for
  • Novelty, nuance and customisation....business world
  • Education = standardisation
  • an education world going toward right answers
  • We need to move towards solving problems, designing solutions, facilitating change (from Vicki)

We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past!


1. New metrics:

What gets measured gets done. We are not as good at measuring other abilities.

Attributes of an educational system going in the right direction

Robert Sternberg

Rainbow Project alternative SAT

Better predictor of success in college than the SAT

Quote about SAT

Generalists score better than specialists. Need for new met

JSPE testing program

2. Multi-mania for measuring things.

  • "Multi-mania"
  • be able to ask good questions...as well as have good answers
  • Example: medical students in art gallery

  • We need to prepare kids for the multi-ness in the world. We're not multi enough in schools. Rich Manisco? sp? Fairfax Co. Schools
  • Teaching medical students empathy. Not a vending machine for correct answers but rather a person who can ask the right questions. Extraordinary observation skills. Algorithmic left brain, yes, but holisticly like a painter or sculptor.

3. Arts Integration

Arts Integration is important

teaching design--need more art, not less

Ornamental or essential??

4. Life integration--integrate students into the rest of the world

How can we make school MATCH the real world- currently subjects don't match - create new majors, courses

Kevin Jarrett - SL in the classroom (We will need to talk to him if we want to do something with SL in the classroom.)

It should be at all levels. Kids are already artists.

The Big Picture Schools

  • Integrate kids into the rest of the world - big picture schools - Providence
  • What are you interested in? Build curriculum around it

  • This is so important. Good teachers find out what their students are interested in.

5. Autonomy

  • Autonomy -- Kids need autonomy -- teachers need autonomy
  • However, trend moving in opposite direction
  • Teachers' work is heroic--not trying to make $$, trying to make a difference for children.

  • Jannita_Demian@discovery.com -- To join a discussion group about the book
  • Alan levine brilliant '50 ways to tell a story'

"Preparing our students for their future, not our past "


- His e-mail

Quotes from the conclusion of the Session

  • He wants his kids to be the best they can and to crave learning. Parents are also responsible for building the love of learning and curiosity
  • Admins are frustrated as much as teachers. Difficult jobs
  • Citizens need to make an urgent economic case- make the arguments.
  • Need to have CEO's to talk about that they need to be able to hire people who are creative. want to hire people who have broader capacities
  • bubble test weenies - LOL
  • We need to continue to POUND on it - we don't know which POUND will be the one that makes the difference
    Email Jannita_Demian@discovery.com to join a discussion group re Pink's book and concepts
  • But the process of giving them a problem they couldn't do alone and not giving them an answer was a good one -- we need to give students "problems" and encourage them to solve it. - Vicki Davis
  • Schools had a role when information was scarce.....what is the purpose now where information is abundant??
  • The traditional role of the school is being called into question- where information is abundant and the half-life of knowledge is amazingly short
  • "Knowledge is no longer scarce"
  • How can a teacher produce that -- I always say -- if you're always weighing the chicken, when do you feed the chicken? The chicken is skinny b/c the chicken is always on the scale. - Vicki Davis

Upcoming Pink Project

New book coming out in April: Manga as from Japan

160 page graphic novel: The Last Career Guide you will ever need

Another book:

The science and economics of intrinsic motivation


he's a blogger

Action Items

1 - A Delicious tag about collaborative projects encouraging design - Set up 12/13/2007 wholenewmind_projects - -see http://del.icio.us/tag/wholenewmind_projects

2 - a flickr photo pool on design

Chat Room Text is available through Lisa Parisi ... I archived the chat but it is too large to include here (so says Google Docs). If you would like a copy, DM me at twitter - lparisi.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What happens when students take the reins

With a week and a half left in the semester and Flat Classroom under their belts, I allowed (with Administrative permission) my computer science to propose and carry out projects that will either promote internet safety or create a website that will improve the communication and connection in the school.

The student projects are outlined on the Wildcat Web 2.0 project.

Three days into the project and they have blown me away. Here are some things they have planned.
  • Private school wide social network for parents, students, grandparents, and teachers - The students decided immersive learning is the best. Additionally, they wanted the elementary students to participate. After a meeting with me, I set up the site, they joined and I made them administrators (yes I did.) They customized the look, added RSS feeds, and have just done a tremendous job. They are in the process of setting up groups for every class.
  • Google Map with all of the area schools so that people can generate their directions. The two students on this project have worked diligently to make this map.
  • Flickr Group - This will be used to feed photographs into the school website and all other locations. This moderated group is administrated by a student and I.
  • Airset Calendars - We're beta testing airset calendars for classes, teams, and more. While we already have RSS feeds, students want to have their assignments texted to them before they leave school as well as their schedule. Interesting!
  • One team of students is using a Webkinz to prepare an internet safety seminar for elementary kids. They've adopted Mr. Moo the Safety Cow as the pet. (Maria Knee in New Hampshire is already doing this with her students.) They are preparing a 20 minute overview of online safety using the webkins to demonstrate the skills.
  • Internet Safety Seminar via Elluminate - Several progressive students have asked to host a parent safety session in elluminate during class Tuesday and we're going to make that happen. Parents will be given a tour of the Ning and questions will be addressed from the students. This is going to be a new experience and we'll see how it goes.
  • Wiki News Site - Students want to write the news, however I control the News Blog. So, we're beta testing a news wiki where students write the news and propose the articles for inclusion in the official school news blog. Then, I'll post the article on the blog. We're discussing now whether we lock the articles after posting or leave them open.
  • Complete Website Redo - Probably the thing that is taking the most time and is why I'm literally off the grid, is that the students want a complete redo of our website to integrate these things. This needs to happen anyway, so we're working on this as we speak. (Boy, I'm rusty!)
  • Internet Safety Videos - Several students wanted to create videos to promote internet safety to be shared in the Ning. This would give reasons for parents to go in and use the ning and help acclimate them to online spaces. So, Internet Man (IM) and his sidekick Web Wonder will take on the evil Dr. Spam V. Iris in the adventures of Internet Man! It is going to be funny and educational.
The amazing thing is that I could go on and on. The students have done an amazing amount of work in three days. After one period of brainstorming, I saw how the students were thinking and called in the principal and curriculum director to listen in on the student's planning sessions. We're beta testing a lot and the curriculum director and principal will give approval before services are offered to the entire school. We plan to roll these things out in phased approach to prevent culture shock.

My students are so excited! And I wanted a low key, relaxing way to end the semester after Flat Classroom. It is exciting, hyper, and very very energetic and engaging! I cannot keep up.

This is an extremely meaningful rich Information Technology experience where my students are launching a service. If you look at their plans, they have timelines and deliverables. Today they presented their first milestones to the class. I'm very proud of them. (And very tired!)

Consider giving your students an opportunity to contribute to your internet safety program and Internet education program as advocates and leaders. Expect a lot, hold them accountable, and have very very high standards. You'll see that they are more than capable and will match your energy level.

OK, I've got to go relax!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Motivational Monday: Non Partisan Basics of Democracy

Today for Motivational Monday, I want to share a video that I came across recently. I think that Richard Dreyfus' proposal on the non partisan basics of democracy are important to listen.

I am a Christian and yet, I promote and allow full debate on all subjects in my classroom. Free choice is a tenet of my faith. Everyone has a choice of what to believe. I can (and will) share my faith, but each person has a RIGHT to have their own faith. They have a right to choose. (Of course, truth is not determined by what we believe, I believe the truth is the truth, however, we do have a right to decide for ourselves.)

While, the discussion of the roots of democracy at the end could be debated, at the beginning he talks about how we must encourage civility, reason, logic, clarity, dissent, and debate. I couldn't agree more! (I'm sure if I think a bit longer, I could figure out something that he missed, however, the thoughts this provokes are so important and fit with the discussion we've had on digital citizenship.)

Also, if you missed Friday's post on Social Networking and what needs to happen to make it usable for education, please go read it. I spent a long time on it and feel strongly that it is something we need to communicate to facebook and other social networking sites to make it usable for us and education.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Survey About Youtube: Get a Free Survey Share Account (3 months)

Posted for my new friend Dr. Curtis Bonk. I am sharing the following e-mail verbatim with permission:

My research team and I are conducting research on the motivational and educational aspects of YouTube and have created a Facebook group for it. We need 1,000 respondents by January 1st. Please join this new Facebook group and participate in this research or pass this email on to your friends.

New Facebook Group: “Bonkian YouTubian Researchian”: http://indiana.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6703696942

Or, if you want to skip Facebook and still participate, just go to http://trainingshare.com/video/ and click on the video or the link.

Purpose of Research: What motivates people to watch, create, share, or comment on YouTube videos? Participate in this survey research on YouTube by Dr. Curt Bonk and his colleagues at Indiana University: click to http://trainingshare.com/video/. Take a survey on one of 60 of the most popular YouTube videos of all time. Some are educational, some in arts and entertainment, some political and environmental, some sports related, some comedy, and some are on emerging technologies. Take a random survey and get a chance to win an iPhone and an iPod. This research study just started and you can help by taking a few minutes to complete one of the surveys. Goal: 1,000 respondents by New Years! You can be one of them! You too can be a YouTubian research participant.

For those that love YouTube, here is a link to a list of all 60 popular videos used in this research project that you can watch or share:


The above link also explains this project in a bit more detail.

Holiday cheers and thanks!

I took the survey. I wonder why we couldn't do such research in classrooms. And I used his surveyshare product (which get you get a 3 month account of) for the Flat Classroom surveys.

Podcast about Social Networks and My New Book

I haven't talked a lot about the new book I'm working on, however, Bob Sprankle, Alice Barr, and Cheryl Oakes are really easy to talk to.

See the show notes and links.
The folks in Maine are just incredible!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

11 Suggestions for (Social) Network Heaven (from a teacher's view)

a simulpost with TechLearning

I've been enjoying facebook and learning about social networking since Thanksgiving. I think that there are some things that need to happen in facebook and other social networks before we can head over there en masse and use it as the nexus of our life's network.

(Author's Note: From this point on, I'll write (social) network to denote the network of the future because I believe it is about networks for everything not just social.)

Until they fix these things, we will continue to see news articles as people make a melting pot of their work and social lives that was never intended to be and is not what people really want.

1) Multiple connection types

Finding me
On social networks, you're either unfindable, hidden except for your face, or you're naked!

What I mean is this:

There are basically 3 flavors of access icecream on facebook:
1) No access (unfindable)
2) Limited Access (just your face)
3) Full Access (you're naked, well, not literally if you're smart.)

Additionally, I can remove my picture and name listing from the main facebook search, but then I cannot be found.

I'm either lost or WAY TOO FOUND!

Friend of a Friend, or is it?
Now for me, I'm facebooking professionally but I'm also finding family and friends so here is the inherent problem in this.

I have 100 or so readers of my blog as facebook friends, but I also have my cousins in there. I might really want you to read all of my information, but do I want you to know who my cousins are?

Or my husband?

Or next year, my children?

And I might want to talk to them about some private family stuff, but should that show up for you to read?

You get a window to my family, a window I might not want you to have.

Daughter of a Blogger not Friend of a Friend
For then, you can say,

"Hey, Vicki's first cousin, Vicki told me to add you."

And then they add without asking and "Bam!," there is a link there I might not want. My cousin assumes "any friend of yours is a friend of mine." However, you're not my close friend, you're a reader of my blog. And there is a difference! So, it is not really, friend meet friend. It is blog reader meet cousin. Or blog reader meet child of blog writer. And I have a problem with that!!!

So, for me, I might want something that looks like this:
  • Professional Network
  • Social Network
  • Community Network (my hometown)
  • Classroom Network
  • Family Network

And yours may look totally different. I don't know why there can't be a method to set several different connection types. Then, you can add friends to one group, or another, or all of them. I mean what if Leo Laporte or Robert Scoble actually wanted to use facebook to connect with their friends. They can't! (I mean, can't famous people really use this stuff to make their lives better?)

I'm not my student's friend

We're going to have to use a private group on facebook for me to communicate w/ my students. They don't want to add me as a "friend" and honestly, I really don't want to add them as a "friend" either. I'm not their friend, I'm their teacher. There is a professionalism I have when dealing with them and I'm not their friend nor do I want that implication. Plus, there would be something about my daughter's math teacher being on her myspace friends list.

(Don't get me wrong, I love them. I enjoy being with them, but I am still an authority figure in their lives and not involved in their social lives.)

However, I do want to communicate with them on facebook (particularly for summer assignments.) And I cannot.

Until social networks realize that we cannot divide our lives up into three or four levels of connection, they will be limited and continue to have criticism from educational groups. (Which is often well intended but misguided.)

One (social) network doesn't fix all. There are problems when we mix things, however facebook and myspace are simply too popular to say that "Oh, I'll use facebook for social and then ning for professional." What if someone is only available on facebook and doesn't do the "ning thing."

And what happens when Granny joins myspace and she wants to date!? We need networks!

Note: Now, the Open Social standard is supposed to help us move our profile and settings from place to place, but their remains the fact that if one person we want to connect with professionally is only on Facebook and not Linked in, that we'll have to connect on facebook even if we use that for family. So, I don't know that Open Social will solve this problem.

2) Adding appropriate apps

I enjoy networking on facebook and communicating, however, I don't want to be bitten by a vampire nor do I have time to play scrabulous. And to be asked to install these apps on an ongoing basis is a little bothersome. In the rush of everyone and their brother to build apps, sometimes, I just don't have the time to be bitten and super poked!

So, how do we delineate apps that are gaming apps and say... don't allow invitations to gaming apps to be delivered to me? Can't the apps have categories and I express my interest in categories of apps to handle some of that for me as sort of a prefilter?

Kill App Spam
Or, we have a way to filter e-mail spam that if someone has sent it to more than a certain number of people, don't deliver it to me. Can't we say, "If someone has sent the app to more than 5 people, I DON'T WANT IT!!!"

It's App spam. Keep the spam in the can! But newcomers can't help it when they don't know better! (I mean, how can you tell a newcomer has e-mail, they start sending hundreds of forwards that they probably never read! It is the same with newbies in facebook.)

3) Language filter / Ratings System

I just don't want to see certain words. I don't want to be asked to join a group with the F word in it. (And I don't mean the word "fun" there.) So, if a person or group chooses to list smut or (god forbid) change their group name on me so that it shows in my profile, I won't have to unsubscribe on it, my settings will do it for me. If someone tries to post a "bad word" on my wall, it will say, "Oops, this page is rated G" and not allow it.

Some of the problems that people have is that things get posted on their page and it could be a lie but its there. And they don't check their "walls" and notice to delete it. Guilt by association.

Or in the case of my students, they say that they don't want to make enemies of their friend when they delete it. It shouldn't be a complete moral discussion when someone posts something that is not acceptable to another. We have different levels of tolerance for those things. We should be able to rate our pages. (Now, wouldn't this help with filtration 2.0?)

And why couldn't we set these ratings by connection type? My professional life is rated G, college buddies PG-13, and maybe my discussions with my handsome husband might be rated X? (just kidding, but you get my point.)

4) Better Group Search

After getting on facebook, I had some friends ask if there was an edublogger group and I looked and couldn't find one, so I created one. We now have over a hundred members. Oh, but oops, there was one listed under philosophy with the same name!!!! -- it is because I typed "edublogger" and the name of the group was something like "edubloggers." When I started to create a group with the same name, I wish it would have told me.

OH, and there is global edubloggers too. The search app should have caught it!

Nothing New Under the Sun
There is a growing frustration among us Web 2.0 educators with duplication of efforts. Why can't we work together? Why did we do all this and realize that others were already doing it?

It is a frustration. So, if a platform facilitates groups, we need to be able to make sure we're not duplicating things. A more robust search and notification system needs to be in place before we create a group that is already there. We go from elated pride in creating something new to frustration that we wasted our time and that of our friends.

5) Multi Purpose Contact and Activity Management

Many students say, I don't know if I can use facebook at school b/c I'll be distracted by my social life. So, perhaps I could log in and say,

"OK, right now I'm working. And when I'm working, I only want to see this sort of activity. Activity for my job, my network of professionals, and my intimate family."
and then on the weekend
"OK, right now, I'm not working, I"m going to rock the house. I want to link up with my family and friends and forget that 9-5 work stuff!"

But, if its super urgent, perhaps certain types of people could "nudge" me.

It is the mix of work and social that causes many of the problems that we have. I want to plan family vacations and encourage family members, however, if my sister his having a hard time and I leave her a message that "I hope things go better with that jerk of a boss" and she's using her facebook for mostly work, then I've just made a mess for dear old sis!

I know that this will be hard, but goodness knows, it is what I and all of my students want to do! They want to talk with me about summer assignments but NOT about their Friday night plans.

It is about social networks.

6) Level of access
I get frustrated with this one. Someone wants me to add them and I have to decide if they get to see the limited profile or the full information. And suppose I get closer, I don't usually remember to "promote" them.

If (social) networks implemented connection types as proposed in item 1 above, then I'd like to say, "OK this person is a blog reader" and then automatically set the settings for what they see with me. This sounds like the same as #1 but its not.

Right now on facebook, you say two things 1) How you know a person and 2) What level of access do they have to your account, limited or full. For me, I'd like Question #1 to determine #2 and I want it to be the same for everyone so I can be consistent. I don't want mistakes. My family's safety depends on it.

7) Personalization

If you can't customize your background and a little bit about your own page, then it is frustrating. Graphics may be taxing on the server (and hard on the eyes sometimes), however it would be nice to customize Facebook an itsy bitsy bit without having the garish look of many myspace pages. (I think Ning does a pretty good job of this. If you look at our global collaborative Flat Classroom Ning, you'll see most students do customize their pages.)

My students came up with this one today when I talked to them about this post. That was their #1 complaint w/ facebook. And although they like myspace, it is easy to get "tacky" quickly they say.

And should I be able to customize the look of my page depending upon their connection type?

8) Ratings system
Now, this may sound a little bit over the edge for some folks, but if someone is a known "spammer," I don't want to have to figure it out. If a person has never had a bad "report" of spam is important to me. So, I guess a "satisfaction rating" or something of the sort would be nice like they have on ebay. A non-pest rating? ;-)

While the "rating" of people's habits might be over the edge, we should at least be able to do it with apps. Right now, the app writers have all of the power. If an app is unethical or has a problem (like Beacon), when I'm asked to install it, it should give me some "customer reviews" and star ratings like Amazon does. (Apps have fans, but not when you're looking at the add screen.) Then, the best apps rise up and the not so great can be cast off like an old shoe.

9) Name Notification System
When you create your "name" and location, I believe that if another person sets up a profile with the same name and location and other information, that you should be notified. This would help with impersonation and would get people to go ahead and get a myspace or facebook if only to "hold onto" and claim their identity.

10) Identity Verification System
I would like to have an icon that says "identity verified" that you could get. They would have high standards of verification, like ssn, drivers license, etc. (Kind of like getting a Verisign ID) and then verify that your page is who you say you are. (Akin to the voluntary system being implemented in Second Life.)

So, if I went to a page of someone, I could see that it had been verified that that person is who they say they are. Then, we could teach people that if they don't see such a sign, to know that it may or may not be that real person.

Online impersonations are a problem and there needs to be a way to combat it without limited freedom of speech, parody sites, etc. Some people just don't know to have that instant skepticism and harm has come in some situations.

11 - Light Versions (Split personality!)
Twitter is so popular because it is so Light! I mean, 140 characters, can work on cell phones (mostly ones here in the US, though.) However, as we look to link with people (and classrooms) in countries with little or no broadband access, we need to have easy ways for our (social) networking pages to connect to and from cell phones of all kinds.

Access in Africa
This first hit me during a recent discussion with Beth Kanter on Wow2. She is recently back from Cambodia where she was teaching 18-24 year old students about blogging. We need alternatives to make our content more concise, easy to read and the ability to pull residents of bandwidth-limited areas into our conversations.

Additionally, as I was listening to last week's Digital Planet podcast from the BBC, I heard about the open cell phone standard entitled Lemonade which will make email access more readily available on even non-smart phones. So, why can't we do the same thing with networking sites?

Are you a bandwidth snob?
I am convicted that many of us are guilty of bandwidth snobbery. We create high bandwidth content and wonder why we don't get more views. We must all become experts and compression because for many in places like Africa pay by the minute to be in the Internet. We need to be aware of this in our content creation.

This is more than just social networks but extends to blogs and podcasts and more. We need some sort of automated split personality for every page we create. The world is getting online slowly but dial up isn't just good enough any more to view what we create. We need to do a better job of including those in developing countries who have no other alternative. (Or in rural areas, like many of my students.)

Why (Social) Networks are Important

I'm not one to say that (social) networks will cure all of the ills of mankind. I'm not going to say that you can't function in society without them.

I am going to say that whether you like it or not, social networks are a part of today's culture and are affecting today's youth greatly. (Social) networks are going mainstream and I heard today of a college admissions office that hired a person to do nothing but check myspace pages of applicants. (Oh, and by the way, if that admissions office worker is using their own myspace page... I guess it just lost its social use.)

The effective, safe use of (social) networks could affect where they can go to school or get that scholarship as much as their gpa or SAT!

The ability to network online effectively could affect where students go in the corporate structure as much as their college education!

So, while it is not the end all, be all, (social) networks are important and cannot be ignored by schools.

To ignore teaching the safe, effective use of (social) networks is akin to not teaching kids how to cross the street or stop drop and roll if they caught on fire. They just need to know how and be safe at the same time.

Be real! Don't give fakes a foothold!
While the answer of some educational organizations is to avoid social networks, I think that if you have a REAL facebook page and a REAL myspace page then you've "claimed" your identity. So, if someone puts up a fake one and others search for you, they'll see at least two identities to choose from (if you can be found in the public directory) and they'll know something is up.

My recommendation is to set up a myspace and facebook and until we can have layers of connections. Then, just use it professionally. If you want to link with your students or family, perhaps a private group is best to do.

Meanwhile, don't just get mad, be an advocate for positive change. Use your voice to speak out as an educator for what you think should be done. None of us have all the answers! And good social networking companies see the blogosphere as the greatest free focus group ever invented! The one's with longevity will listen and respond!

Social Networks need to evolve into the powerful networks that become the nexus of our lives.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! There is a lot I still don't know about networks and perhaps some of these things are doable now. Please, speak up!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Join my class in elluminate between 8:15 - 10:00 EST TODAY

From 8:15 until 10:00 EST, I will have my two classes presenting in elluminate. They are elluminate newbies but Flat Classroom Pros.

Each student is allowed 1 JPG file and 1-3 minutes to reflect on the project, the good, the bad, the ups, the downs. You get the real story.

Please give us an audience and join us in elluminate by clicking on this link! I'm going in now!

(Oh and tomorrow morning at 5 am EST, Barbara in Vienna will be presenting in the same room.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Building the Perfect Mac for my Sister! HELP!

I don't know anything about buying a MAC!!!

Regardless of my claim, on Friday, I have to help my sister, who is an online professor for Savannah College of Art and Design and freelance graphic designer for some really big names help her buy a mac to replace her big powerful mac we bought 6 years a go.

Help! Quad core? RAM?

I don't know! I need help!


Thank you for commenting and yes, I do need to give you more information. She is a graphic designer and will be running the full Adobe suite including Flash, Photoshop, all the biggies.

Additionally, as a prof at SCAD, she has to always upgrade and keep the latest version of everything on her computer. She already has a Mac Laptop and this thing has to be a work horse.

We were pricing this thing the other day and ended up at $8,000 (with school discount around $6K) -- Now if she has to pay that, she just has to, however, she's starting out with her graphic design business and if she has to pay that much it really has to be a good reason.

So, consider that there is no budget but it sure would be nice not to get too high -- consider she gets a 15-20% discount off of list price and once we get over $8K we're probably getting out of reach for her.

Does that help?

You're invited to the Flat Classroom Student Summit

Here are the currently scheduled dates and times for the student presentations in elluminate. These times are in Eastern Standard time, however if you have an airset account, go to the public calendar to view new summit times (that may not be mentioned here) and have it convert to your time zone.

This week we have Austria and my classrooms presenting. Next week Julie in Qatar is presenting. We hope to see the other teachers present as well in our room.

To join the presentation, click on our elluminate room about 10 minutes prior to the event. (See the hardware and software requirements.)

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Flat Classroom Student Summit Schedule

Listen to John's Recorded Presentation
John Turner has already hosted a summit with some of his students and has set a pattern that we will follow. (You may watch the recording.) His Australian Classroom was getting out for summer break last week and so this was done just before they scooted out the door and to the beach!

My Roadmap for Summit Sessions

Here are the steps I've used to prepare my students for this session.
1) Model -

I let the student listen to John's summit. (This gives them an idea of what to expect.)

2) Sandbox -
I took them into elluminate and let them go into sandbox mode. This means we "play." Yes, play. Put in a picture, draw a mustache on it. Then, I log in as the administrator on the smartboard and let them see what I see. I point out that I can see who is drawing.

I teach them to private message and then point out that I can see everyone's private messages to one another. (This will save them embarrassment in college.)

I show them how to insert a graphic. All the other things. Raising hands, laughing, confusion, applause, thumbs down. We talk about how in a non f2f environment that these give the speaker valuable feedback that they cannot get. It is like "body language" when your body isn't present!

Then we test our mikes. It is quite tricky to use elluminate when everyone is in one room. You have to make sure all of the speakers are off and none of the mikes are turned up too high.

3) Creation of graphics-
EAch student gets one jpg and one whiteboard. I make them ahead of time, put each students name on them and then let them go into the screen. They prepare the whiteboard.

Then, I save it and can come in tomorrow and load it!!! It will be ready bright and early at 8:15 when some ofyou show up to hear them present!

They are beginners
Remember, they are quite new at presenting virtually (but then again, I am too!)

Give us an audience!
Please give all of these sessions and audience! We would appreciate it! If you're going to bring in a whole class, just let me know ahead of time so I can relay that to the class.

I'll be there as well and Julie was planning to sit in on the presentations also! So, you can ask questions but in this summit the students are the star.

The Teacher Reflection Session
The students have been madly posting their reflections on the ning. (Such a great thing the Ning has been!) Although I do have some students who've posted their reflections on our private class ning because they did not wish to offend anyone on the project.

The Teachers will be hosting our reflection session in elluminate next Thursday (see calendar above for details.)

We have room for 100 in elluminate and would love to have you as a guest.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Corey Verner of LetterPop and Colleen King with Math Playground on Wow2 tonight

Tonight is simply going to be a great show on Wow2. Jennifer and Sharon are hosting Corey Verner from Letterpop and Colleen King with Math Playground.

Remember it is at 9 pm EST. While I will be listening by podcast and reviewing the chat archive, I will be listening. I look forward to coming back in January!

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A VIP (Very important post) from Alec Corous on DigitalCitizenship

I don't have much time to give thoughts on this post from Alec Couros, however, it is brilliant and a must read for anyone trying to understand what needs to be done in schools to teach digital citizenship skills.

It is NOT, I repeat NOT a post to share with your students because of references to some videos we should not repeat, nevertheless we should know that they are there.

Several of the videos shown are key discussion points for my digital literacy material.

I'm mad!

It is heart breaking and yet it is important. We cannot sit idly by and let the base and offensive go viral while we sit back and say

"tisk tisk, blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, they don't belong in school."

When we should be creating good material, we're creating no material.

Students have always needed help making sense of the world and having multiple viewpoints (other than that of their peers) is vital. We've relegated the Internet as n0-teacher space, telling teachers to stay away from myspace and facebook. What is wrong with us?

We have a lot of work to do and many people want to deny that there is anything to do but sit back and drink our coffee in the teacher's lounge and pretend that school is just business as usual.

Well, its not.

We're in a Hinge of History
As the great author Thomas Cahill postulates, there are turning points, very hinges of history upon which the history of the whole of mankind swing.

And if educators continue to stop their ears and say "Nah Nah Nah Nah, I can't hear you," what is to become of us?

To ignore the societal changes is to not only to be deaf, dumb, and mute but truly is educational malpractice.

It is about safety, privacy, literacy, and my goodness, it is about keeping our society a good and civilized place to live. And some of these videos are not just deplorable, but just plain uncivilized behavior that not even a cave man would enjoy watching!

Does it mean youtube is bad? NO!!!!!!

Does it mean online videos are bad? NO!!!!!!

It means that we have work to do.

Where do we start? Each of us in our own classroom, civilizing. Discussing. Helping students make educated, informed, and varied decisions, in the presence of both peer feedback and adult-led feedback.

Add our voice of dissension to the cacophony of people that say "As long as it is popular and gets a lot of views, it is OK." It's not! It's not ok! Who the heck cares if its popular!

And if you choose to sit here and read my blog, comfortable in your warm cozy chair and do nothing to change your world and create digital citizens in your sphere of influence then I'm afraid this big blue sphere is going to become quite an unpleasant place.

For all it takes is for those of us who should care to abdicate our responsibility to the excuse of "I'm about to retire" or "I'm just a newcomer" or "this won't be popular" or the deathknell of many a good educator, "I just don't want to get fired."

There is a big difference in being respectable and being popular.

It is time to pull character education out of the shelf and inject it and ourselves into the world which we have become with our voices and all we have.

I'm angry and working with a few others to plan some work with one of my classes specifically addressing digital citizenship.

Thank you, Alec, I'm fired up and mad!

Mad at myself for not doing more.

Mad at people praising depravity.

And dog gone it, I'm mad at the educators who are so all fired stuck in their own habits that they refuse to open their eyes and see the approaching army.

We've got to protect our students from the world, but you know what in Web 2.0 -- they ARE THE WORLD! If we don't talk about it, they create a peer-created opinionated world with goodness knows what type of mores and opinions about civilized behavior.

OK....I've got to stop blogging now. I'm still mad.

After reading Alec's post, if you're mad, do something about it and start with this.

What will you do to ensure that your students are effective digital citizens?

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Robert Scoble has too many friends?

I was perusing a great article Beth Kanter posted on Facebook and saw that she had some notes about Robert Scoble. So, I wanted to follow this rockstar-for-geeks on Facebook and see what I could apply for education.

Here is the screen I got when I tried to add Robert to Facebook.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It seems unfortunate that Facebook cannot handle the uber-geek popularity of Robert Scoble.

I'm enjoying some things about facebook, but other things like its slowness and now realizing that I'm too late to the party and because I didn't get there first I can't follow someone like Robert.

Looking at Beth's article again and considering that Robert is using facebook to network and obviously make money, I think that the chart on digital citizenship that I've used in the past should be revised to include effective networking. (See below.)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Beth's article encourages learning to add friends of friends (which I do also by the way.) And we tell students never to do it!

The "Good Little Boys and Girls" will be the "Poor Little Boys and Girls?"

Something tells me that the "good little boys and girls" who don't use myspace and facebook may end up being the "poor little boys and girls" who are left out of the conversation when the deal is being done.

All the kids I can think of who don't use these services are luddites!

The Place Where Deals Are Done
When I was in business many deals were done on the golf course and yes, even in the men's room. (That was how they left me out.)

But that has changed. Deals are happening now in this spidery network of social networks which should really be renamed business networks in many cases (as least it is for me.) People are doing business with those they've never met Face to Face with only their acquired techno-personal skills linking them together.

It is time for schools to create their own private social networks (as I've done on Ning) to give our students a place to network safely! Imagine the esprit de corps! I think you'll unleash a giant if you let your students and parents network privately and you'll see greater understanding of what this is all about.

It is something I'm working towards at our school and hope to get approved soon.

Social networking shouldn't be called "social" at all... it is really life networking or hey, just networking.

It is not about the technology it is about professionalism
So, the Ohio Teacher's Association telling its teachers not to myspace or facebook couldn't have it more wrong. It is not the technology that is the problem it is the people who behave unprofessionally.

So, lets teach professionalism in social networking. Let's be the professionals who use it.

Eawwwww! A Rat!

Educators need to stop jumping up on top of their chair and pulling up their pants leg like a mouse ran through the meeting every time someone talks about social networks!

They can be your friend! We've been using a social network for our Flat Classroom project with incredible results! For goodness sakes, I'm using one for an elementary youth group at our church!

Don't be late to the party!

Oh, and I guess you'd better get on facebook and add me soon before I become too popular. ;-) lol

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Favorite New Tradition: Elf on a Shelf

I love the Elf on the Shelf that my sister gave me this year. It is a cute little book and this comes with an elf that you name as a family.

This little "elf" appears in the house around thanksgiving and "flies" to the North Pole to tell Santa what he's observed in that room that day. Then the next morning he "flies" somewhere else to observe.

So far, he's been in the den, each child's room, the car, the kitchen and the hall. On Christmas day he "disappears" until next year.

Each morning, my kids wake up eager to find the shelf elf! It has been hilarious.

As I'm sitting here blogging, my daughter just got up and said "Where's Mombu" today. That is the short name for our shelf elf.

The long name?

"Mombu Dogface in the Banana Patch" ... it is sort of a long story but let's say this... we have two girls and three guys in our family and when it came to voting... my daughter and I lost. (Although our name (Rhee Ree) wasn't much better... and is another long story.)

It is these "private jokes" and fun family traditions that knit us together and make our home life a great one. We have tough times but we go through them together.

I think this is a great thing to do in a classroom in December. This is a time of year when kids are a little tired and it helps to have something like this.

What are your new traditions for your holidays?

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