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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Reflections on Raw Materials for the Mind

In order of their appearance in the book... here are some of my reflections on Raw Materials for the Mind: A Teacher's Guide to Digital Literacy...

  • I am also reading Malcom Gladwell's Blink right now and sympathize with Warlick's suggestion that "research means nothing to preparing our children for their future, compared to what a skilled, experienced, innovative, and inventive teacher can accomplish" (p. 7).

  • Warlick recounts how "enormous volunteer time" (p. 11) has been necessary to get school networks off the ground. I've always resented that this was necessary... but in light of the discussions about positive social change and contributing to the common good at the Walden University residency this summer, I now feel that perhaps this is not an entirely bad thing. It is powerful that communities (and so many individuals... many of them teachers and Ed Tech coordinators) have found this worth their time.

  • I'm sure I will need to work on my articulation of this... but, I don't think I agree with Warlick's suggestions that "if the student's work can easily be done with pencil and paper, then it should be done with pencil and paper" and that "if the information is available in an encyclopedia or other reference book then use a book" (p. 19). I think he is missing something here in terms of preparing students for the future, opening additional doors for the assignment at hand... and how these methods are almost certainly outdated even if they seem "easy" and "available." However, I agree with his overall point that we should not use computers to do what we could have done on paper. I just don't think it follows that we should do these things on paper... we just shouldn't do them anymore. As he argues later, students should not be writing papers about something in a way that allows them to complete the assignment by visiting an encyclopedia... even if it is online.

  • There is no question in my mind that the main barrier to teachers implementing new technologies in their practice is indeed time (p. 21). At both the OCDE and N-MUSD we have seen classes canceled due to low enrollment. However, I find it interesting that at the residency I was shown a very recent delphi study (2004, sorry can't link to it right now, or even properly cite it) in which when ed tech administrators came to consensus and suggested that the greatest need in ed tech right now is research to connect what we are doing with new technologies to higher test scores. Rubish. I agree with Warlick in thinking that many of our current tests are inadequate measurements of our students' mastery of 21st century skills... and that we shouldn't even be shooting for higher test scores as a goal. This is a tad bit radical, I know. Thing is... I don't know a single teacher that doesn't feel this way... or administrator for that matter... so who is making these rules? I don't think representative government is working in this respect... either the representatives are not advocating the position of their constituents... or else they are, but they are not expert enough (where educators are) to make the right decisions. Representation requires a fine balance between advocacy for the people, and expert/informed decision making. Hmm... this is another topic altogether.

  • I whole heartedly support Warlick's call (p. 24) for an 8 hour teacher workday (rather than 6 billable hours and a twelve hour day!)... and for a full hour lunch... but, WTF! He wants to expect teachers to meet during this lunch. This should not be expected any more than it is for a salesman... or me at the county. And I can't imagine what school would be like if we could come to work prepared... and with a full night's sleep! (p. 25)

  • "Our reliance on testing is an idustrial age solution to an information age problem" (p. 27). Right on, brother.

  • "We can virtually take students to each continent, to the planets, among the atoms of a water molecule, into interaction with other people..." (p. 28) Sounds a lot like Papert's (1993) Knowledge Machine. :)

  • This is powerful:

    "The last few decades for much of the developed workld has had the appearance of an unraveling of social fabric. Yet, it is with the very circumstances that initiated the turmoil of our society that our best hope resides. Computer technology, and the opportunities it offers, can become the thread with which we stitch our fabric back together."


    Of course, I think we also need to keep in mind that one aspect of our society will necessarily become a capacity to unstitch and restitch itself continuously. I recall the fates at their loom... but see three more working as quickly to undo what is done.

    Also, I wonder how we can get this book... or these ideas... into the hands of our congressmen and women. Now that might be a worthy social change project. :)

  • I am of course happy about what Warlick says about the power of IM and Games (and the skill involved) on page 35.

The bulk of the book is then how to use the tools... but there are a few more gems...

  • Oh, I think Warlick's conservative stance on the blogosphere being potentially inappropriate for students (p. 53) is short sighted. They must learn to confront and deal with the wide variety of information quality and make choices with consequences they will like... we need to teach them to deal with this, not shelter them from it. Now, this may happen in stages, with some sheltering as scaffolding, but I prefer to see that be explicit because so many people are still living in a black and white world where they think protection works... but it doesn't.

  • Yahoo groups (p. 58) is cool. Check out the Walden Ed Tech group we started at the residency this summer. :)

  • "Using collaboration to create content" is an important sentiment (p. 89).

  • As is the idea of classrooms with "more porous walls" (p. 91).

  • There is a great perspective on the greyness of truth in information on p. 154, and a few powerful examples of when less than reliable information might be ok to use in the classroom.

  • Warlick says "never send students to do internet research (or library research) on a topic unless the students already have a foundation of knowledge about the subject" (p. 159). Though I see where he is coming from here, I think this is foolish. First of all, never say never... when students were completing a Senior Project at Estancia this happened (with positive results) all the time. Also, never (sic) underestimate the intelligence of your students... I have been more often amazed at what kids are able to sort out on their own than vice versa.

  • Oh, and why on earth does David Warlick use Internet Explorer on OS X!!!???

The section on contributive expression gets interesting again, and is well worth reading, particularly the bits on blogging...

  • I say "hallelujah!" to the suggestion that "we have a new record today of human experience that is floating in the cybersphere and available for use" (p. 247). I suspect that a student would probably be able not only to find websites related to just about any topic of interest, but probably a blog related to the topic as well! Seriously... search any topic and add the word blog to your search and see what you find! Talk about connecting with experts... or eye witnesses.

  • "Do not tolerate information inequities in your community." (p. 261) 'Nuff said.

  • He concludes that the reader ought to (1) form a community, (2) set goals, (3) continue to learn, and (4) share (p. 289). These principles could be the foundation for the 21st Century Skills Institute at the N-MUSD this summer.

  • However, I disagree with his conclusion that teachers ought to get a copy of the district technology plan and read it (p. 289). In my experience these documents are worthless. It is far more important for teachers to meet the district Ed Tech and IT staff and learn from them what is really going on.

  • I love the idea of seeing myself as a learning consultant (p. 291). :D

Natrually, even this lengthy list of reflections does not do the book justice. I highly recommend it, but with the suggestion that you feel free to skim large chunks of it and to slow down only when necessary... but read the beginning and end closely. ;)

Thanks for reading this.

-Mark

Reflections on Rocketboom

Reflections on Rocketboom

Rocketboom is an inspiring example of vodcasting (or video-on-demand casting... or video blogging). As they describe themselves, the show is "a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City" which covers and creates "a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture"... with an emphasis on the quirky.

They do a great job of using the video medium to communicate things visually and in ways they could not in a text or audio blog. I look to this vodcast as a model going into the process of producing the OCDE podcasts, which will actually be created using video and offered using iTunes bookmarks in the style of the cutting edge Apple Distinguished Educators podcasts. Robert Craven of the OCDE Ed Tech department has also been involved in the ADE podcasts and is helping to spearhead the efforts at the OCDE too.

Having caught up on several back issues of Rocketboom during flights lately (where podcasting is perfect for driving commutes, vodcasting is great for flying commutes... try it out, ML, if you haven't already), I've had a chance to reflect on the show... in the light of preparing to do one at the OCDE.

  • Especially since the show is an example of cutting edge internet distribution, I wonder why Amanda has paper in her hands... other than for dramatic effect. Do network newscasters still use paper? I seem to remember that they all have video monitors in their desks now, but I don't watch much news on TV anymore. Will we use paper for the OCDE vodcasts? I hope not. ;)

  • Amanda is a great anchor... quirky, yes... but dynamic and fun to watch. Much of the visual element of this show is simply her performance... and it's worth it. If we go video, we will need to be as interesting. And if we include visual bookmarks in the audio version in iTunes 4.9, then I hope we can avoid the stationary talking head effect of the Bernie Dodge podcast. Stacy Deeble-Reynolds and I had something of a crack at this when we recorded the Showcase Grant Overview videoconference back in January. (Bummer, this seems to have been taken down from the archive now that the info is no longer needed). Now that I think about it... Stacy and I used laptops instead of paper for this video... and they were beneath the shot of the camera.

  • Still, the best shows are not all Amanda. She has some contributing reporters (some better than others, to be sure), and often includes other clips contributed by her viewers. I hope we can do the same, similar to the way we're now including community highlights in the Promising Practices newsletter. Perhaps we can also include clips from Michael Guerena's video conferences and webcasts.

  • The camera work and editing is pretty sophisticated. We'll need to tap the Media department at OCDE to compete. (The OCDE actually has a full fledged television studio setup). It seems Robert and Michael have already taken this step in my absence. :)

  • That being said, I've been reading a lot of Clark Aldrich lately, and am conscious of his phrase, "don't use calculus when algebra will do." I know we'll have to keep it simple, especially since this can't take more than an afternoon a week for a couple of us to throw together. Rocketboom seems to have struck a good balance, as much of their production is rather low tech, too.

  • Rocketboom is well archived and offered in many formats... I hope we will be able to do the same. (They even offer PSP format!)

This has been a valuable process for me, and perhaps these reflections will be a helpful starting point for others who are interested in producing something similar.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

New OCDE Ed Tech Homepage!


One of the (side) projects I have committed myself to at the Orange County Department of Education has been making sure that the Ed Tech Department (at least) has a reasonably up to date and accurate web page. Until this weekend, I had nothing to show for it, but thanks to Scott Harris, Robert Craven, and many others, the site has gone live despite my extended absence!

I approached this project with the philosophy that simplicity was the key. I didn't want a major graphic redesign... just a clean and consistent interface... so it is based on the graphic header and colors already used on the old site.

The lion's share of the credit (did I really just say lion's share?) goes to Scott Harris, our paid intern, who is also a student of computer science and film studies at UCI (and something of a professional gamer, too). I brought the idea to him and asked him to work on it when he had time between other work requests from our department. He let me know that he didn't know a shred of HTML, but apparently I was right to have faith in his ability to pick it up. A day later he came back and told me, "I think I have something you're gonna like." And he did.

After some tweaking, I asked if it were possible to do a news page and a form to updated it. Again, Scott let me know he'd never written a line of php, but sure enough, a day later he had something I was gonna like.

This too went through some revisions and then I really thought I'd go for it and asked if we could offer the news updates as an RSS feed. Naturally, he knew nothing about it, but a day later he reported that Really Simple Syndication really is simple. I hope you'll all subscribe to the feed (at least those of you in Orange County, though I think much of the news will be relevant and interesting to others)... see the little blue icon on the left of the page below the OCDE logo.

By now, I'm sure he's sorted out enclosures, too, for our upcoming podcasts, which are designed to be relevant and interesting to a nationwide (or global?) audience.

No news has been added yet, and might not be until I return to work on the 8th, though I have invited the others in the department to post. I expect we will have daily updates concerning upcoming classes and other opportunities as well as related educational technology news. And, we have a weekly podcast program planned. :D

It was thanks to Robert Craven (and those in the Ed Tech and IT departments he coordinated with) that this project was seen through in my absence.

Ok, here's that URL:

http://edtech.ocde.us

Note: The old address of www.ocde.us/technology/ will redirect you here. Pretty much any other bookmark on the old site will probably now be broken. If you are missing something and can't find it's replacement in the menu, let me know.

Thanks for reading... and I hope you'll enjoy the OCDE Ed Tech Feed.

-Mark

Publish or Perish: A Blogging Ethic?

In traditional academia there is an understanding, sometimes unspoken, that faculty will publish or perish. They need to conduct original research which is deemed worthy for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, or as a book. This is of course time consuming and can overshadow their work as educators. This is not my point here, though.

As you could probably tell from my posts in Bloomington, I was coming face to face with the same sort feeling regarding this blog. There seems to be a similar sort of publish or perish ethic to blogs. This is certainly not a formal thing, but many bloggers will suggest posting at least once a week to build and keep an audience, and many aim for daily contributions. That is certainly the ideal I strive for, though I find my posts often come in bursts when I have the time.

I don't seem to have lost any of the readers (that I can track through bloglines or feedburner) during the last few weeks, but I've enjoyed watching those small numbers creep upwards and hope I can continue to be relevant.

So, coming up...

  • Reflections on Raw Materials for the Mind: A Teacher's Guide To Digital Literacy
  • Reflections on Rocketboom

Because I am no longer posting discussion topics for coursework, I am finding that my email may be the writings best suited for repurposing here... so you may see some of that soon.

Also, I hope to get my feet wet with the academic sort of publishing. It will be some time yet before my original research is ready for peer-reviewed journals, but other publications can go on the c.v. I include with my dissertation as well... so I am considering answering this call...

----- Original Message -----
From: Sage Advice [sage@edutopia.org]
Sent: 07/22/2005 02:37 PM
To: MWAGNER@OCDE.US
Subject: From Edutopia: Sage Advice

Dear Colleague,

Edutopia, The George Lucas Educational Foundation's new magazine, invites reader voices and comments for our next issue. They'll be featured in an ongoing department called Sage Advice, in which our audience suggests solutions to problems we bring up. (Think of a reverse Dear Abby.)

You can see a few of the many notes we received in response to our last topic, "How do you get the most out of substitute teachers?" at http://www.edutopia.org/sageadvice.

The question for the next issue is:

What technology is most effective in the classroom? Give an example.

Send your 25- to 100-word replies, or even suggestions for future questions, to sage@edutopia.org.

(The fine print: The deadline is August 8, 2005. Be sure to include your name, title and affiliation, and location. Responses may be edited for length and style.)

We're looking forward to your response.

Best,

Edutopia staff


I will certainly post my write up here if I do it.

Oh, and thanks for reading.

-Mark

My old blog and OLD homepage

After a conversation with my brother James (pictured) this morning, I realized it is hard for readers to find my old blog and my OLD homepage... I left pointers only in the first post of this new blog. Therefore I have added links to the right hand column of the blog, just below the automaticly generated archives. For those using the feed, here are those links again.

My old blog
My OLD homepage

-Mark

In Irvine for the Weekend

As you may have noted from my absence here at Educational Technology and Life I ended up becoming absorbed in the residency at Bloomington.

Then, this past week, Eva and I were on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. The included picture is of one of those sunsets that just goes on and on.

Some of the faculty at the residency gave me their left over campus access cards at the end of the residency, in return for having helped with the technical set up for the colloquiums. (I helped the facilitator with laptop setup etc... and we iSighted my advisor, Dr. Jock Schorger, the education faculty chair, in from Colorado after he left the residency early!) So, I was able to get a new camera (a little HP Photosmart M22) for half off at the campus technology store at IU. It has a great sunset mode, doesn't it? (The panoramic feature is also particularly cool and easy to use! However, the on/off lense cover door is a pain to keep closed in your pocket!)

Tomorrow we leave again to celebrate our 5th anniversary at a secret location (it was Eva's turn to plan this year).

Yesterday, I caught up on a week's worth of email, news feeds, Rocketboom, etc. It was good to feel connected again (it was certainly good to be free of it for a week, too), but yesterday I felt I was merely listening to the web.

Today I hope to actively contribute to the symphony of chaos. So, with any luck there are more posts to follow this.

It looks like I won't do much formal work on my KAM again until Thursday, when I really dig into writing about Prensky, Gee, Aldrich and the other (more academic) theorists and consider their work in light of a working theory of constructivist human development already developed for the breadth portion of this KAM demonstration.

-Mark

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Why Educational Technology?

This story appeared side by side with this story on my customized Google News page just now.

Boy have we got places to go. We need to stay on track, especially since it seems others will now, too.

This is why I'm in educational technology... because I hope our children will explore, not war.

Well, that's enough procrastination for this hour. Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Jonassen on MMORPGs in Education (well, on MUDs anyway)

I'm writing this afternoon, which should come as no surprise, and I'm still working on KAM II: Human Development, in which I focus on synthesizing a working theory of constructivist human development for application to the use of video games (particularly MMORPGs) in education. I started with the work of Piaget, then followed the theories of his student Seymour Papert, and finally picked up David H. Jonassen, a very blatantly constructivist - yet still very pragmatic - educational technologist.

In his 2002 Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective, Jonassen offered this compelling vision of MUDs in the classroom, a vision that applies as well or better to modern MMORGPs:

"Imagine, for instance, a MUD in which a student is placed on the main street in a small community in colonial America, with the option of entering stores, blacksmith shops, pubs, jails, homes, and other buildings of the period. Inside each building would be descriptions of the people and artifacts it contained. Students would make decisions and express their choices, to which the MUD's characters and objects (and other students) would react. Imagine, too, that teachers and their classes could work together to develop new buildings. This option (which is often provided in MUDs) could be great incentive for research, collaboration, problem-solving, and other high-level activities." (p. 104)


This sure sounds a whole lot like the Revolution project at the MIT Comparative Media Studies' Education Arcade. In terms of user creation of the environment it also reminds me of Second Life, which now has a teen grid for 13-17 year olds, it turns out. Now if only they will extend their campus program for teachers and students to the teen grid. I'm working on it. ;)

At any rate, I thought it might be worth sharing here. ;)

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Friday, July 15, 2005

Appreciative Inquiry, Organizational Change Stories, and Time Management

This morning, in the school of eduction colloquium, I participated in an Appreciative Inquiry process with several other educational technology students. The process focuses on the presumption that the questions we ask when facilitatig organizational change will, of course, affect the process and outcomes... and that the asking of positive questions has a powerful correlation with more positive results. In other words, we get the best results by asking what we are doing well and how we can build on that, rather than asking what we are doing wrong.

Now I am sitting in the IU Auditorium listening to Dr. Stan Amaladas, a 2004 graduate of Walden U., present his award winning dissertation on the effect of stories on organizational change. Specifically, he is concerned with how the stories people tell about their experiences in turn color their experiences. His focus was on stories that either facilitated or resisted organizational change, a topic particularly important to educational technologists. In short, it is better to tell positive stories about an organization if you want it to improve. His theory boils down to "we author our own reality" and the obvious corollary is that we ought to author a reallity that we will like.

These things are very much in keeping with my own organizational change and leadership philosophies (and experiences), not to mention my personal philosophies... especially with respect to finding and drawing out the best in people.

However, as I sat here reflecting on these ideas, I realized that I need to apply these ideas to the things that have been frustrating me lately... speifically my lack of time... see how negative that is?

Last year I found peace in Bloomington... and I had hoped to this year as well. I thnk there are some very concrete reasons why I haven't - many of them related to this blackberry - but the point of this post is that I resolve to now focus on what I AM getting done each day... and to NOT feel busy anymore. I want to live up to my boss' comment that I am a master of time management... and I want to be known for remaining calm and happy despite the demands of work, phd studies, ... and relationships.

I include this last bit becuase at another session earlier today, in which 6 of this year's phd graduates spoke about their experiences, the last person I heard speak ended her talk with the advice to "make sure you have loved ones left when you finish."

Thanks for reading.

-Mark
--------------------------
Mark Wagner
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Walden University Experience

I did promise one reader my reflections on the Walden experience, and I think this is something that others would find interesting, or even benefit from.

Based on conversations I've had with faculty... aside from requirements such as a masters degree and experience in the field, the primary gate-keeping device, at least in the school of education, is the applicants' writing skills. So there is something of a self-selection mechanism at work here, and the University has an excellent orientation program in place to help prepare students for success. There is a readiness orientation to introduce students to the online course format, followed by two six week orientation courses prior to beginning any formal coursework. In addition each student is assigned a faculty mentor in their first year, but they are also free to change mentors if they discover another professor who is a better fit for their research.

The coursework keeps to a relatively breakneck pace, but I appreciated the structure while I had it. Like any school, the quality of the course experience depends a lot on the instructor. I was impressed and happy with all of my instructors but two... and the philosophical differences I had with these two were certainly of the kind you expect in higher education, and neither issue interfered with my final success in the class. As for taking classes online, I really apreciated, as I've shared here before I think, the asynchronous communication, which gave me the flexibility to work when it was convenient (or possible) for me, and which allowed time to reflect and compose answers to as many threaded discussions as I wanted to participate in.

Walden is a hybrid model of online and face to face formats. In my program, I am required to complete 32 residency units, which I am completing with this residency. This allows an opportunity for face to face interaction with the faculty and other students. I find the one on one faculty advising hours to be the most valuable part of the residency. (The student to faculty ratio is a happy 15:1 at the summer residency... and they are aiming for 9:1 overall!) There are also a variety of face to face meeting formats; colloquia where the whole school (such as the school of education) meets, intensive seminars (which are very like a traditional recurring face to face classes), and a variety of presentations and hands-on workshops. Individual schedules are very fluid, as there are many opportunities for choice in how to spend your time. The serendipitous informal meetings are also a very important part of the residency experience... particularly over beers. ;)

This is a very writing intensive program any way you cut it - which is a good thing by the time a student gets to the dissertation. The Knowledge Area Modules (KAMs) are essentially five research papers each: the learning agreement (~10 pages), the breadth (~30 pages), the depth (~25 pages), the annotated bibliography (of at least 15 scholarly articles), and the application (~10 pages, plus, well, an application). A student who is focusing on one KAM at a time can finish one in three months if they are really flying. Educational Technology students must complete three of these, but if all goes well, they can be focused on the same topic as the dissertation and so be used as a foundation for the final work.

The dissertation, of course, is not much different than elsewhere, as a dissertation is finally going to come down to the point where the student is working independently researching, conducting a study, and writing a paper (of about 200 pages). However, the oral defense is often conducted remotely by conference call or over the web.

As with the courses, the quality of experience associated with KAMs and the dissertation depends significantly on the faculty advisor (mentor), the KAM assessors, and the dissertation committee. Again, the student has a great deal of flexibility in deciding what faculty to work with.

The most rewarding and surprising benefit of attending this school is the exposure to people and perspectives from all over the world. This is true in the online courses and in the face to face residencies. California certainly has a diversity of it's own, but it is nothing like being exposed to people from other places and other cultures all together. This I never had in my traditional undergraduate or masters courses. The stories these people carry with them are amazing... where they have come from... and what they are dealing with as they work through this program... I can't even begin to capture in this post the sorrow, hope, triumph, and power of these lives.

There is much more I can say about the experience, and hope to one day, but this will have to suffice for now.

I'm not sure this is the kind of feedback you were looking for, Rog. Do you have any more specific questions? (I welcome any other comments as well, of course.)

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Reflection on the Purpose of "Educational Technology and Life"

As I sit here, finally, with some time between events to sit and think, I realize that much of what I have been processing is not directly related to Educational Technology, and so may be irrelevant to this audience. While I think it is probably a positive thing to show a little humanity with the occasional "and life" post, I don't want this blog to deteriorate into a journal.

Also, I realized the research I am paying to do is more important to me right now. ;)

So, I am giving up my attempts to "catch up" (at least until there is something burning and relevant to post), and I am off to either work in my dorm room, or carry some books down to the lounge so I can at least be around people while I work. Books, for crying out loud! Far too little of human knowledge is digitized and freely available, even in this field (or at least the academic instances of it). Just as I shared my coursework here, my dissertation is going straight online when I am done, as will my KAMs in the meantime.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Games in Education, A Scholarly Presentation

Well, I promised on Monday I would post my presentation to the school of education colloquium. I hope that other readers of this blog might find it interesting as well. This is my first podcast in a while. (You should use my feedburner feed in the right hand panel if you want to receive the podcast via subscription).

The Audio

The Slides

I tried using my .Mac account to post these remotely this time, but it seems to mean they are compressed as .zip files. I hope this isn't a problem for anyone... may break any automated podcasting, though.

Also, I know this is lazy podcasting because I didn't properly tag this... or take the time to rename it for that matter... and I need to learn from Robert Craven how to do the visual bookmarks (with the slides for instance!)... but at least it is posted, and I can always make it nicer in the future.

Thanks for reading. And, as always, I welcome any comments.

-Mark

Meyers-Brigg's for the Learning Environment

I just spoke with Dr. Salter, who has developed a companion instrument to the Meyers-Brigg's personality classification instrument which will allow a similar classification of a learning environment. He is working on an online version of the test and is considering releasing the book (born of 15 years of research) as an eBook, perhaps under the creative commons license.

He is also one of the few faculty using an iBook (or powerbook) as his primary machine. :)

Oh, there is also a stuffed Opus (the penguin from Bloom County and Outland comics) wearing tennis shoes and a tie in his office!

-Mark

PS. How's this for moblogging? I hope to "catch up a bit", but being able to note this now as I wait outside Dr. Lynch's door has been exactly what I had hoped for when I wrote last night's post.

--------------------------
Mark Wagner
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Cognition Requires Time

I have been able to get VPN access to IU over their wireless network, and I made an investment in a proper backpack so I can tote my pBook without having a crink in my neck each night... so, I can now blog on the web more easily throughout the day, BUT... my overwhelming thought today is that the kinds of cognitive benefits I hope to get out of blogging will require time no matter what.

A few minutes ago I began outlining my reflections on the past few days... a good process that will hopefully lead to composition. Now, I AM actually
moblogging from the blackberry as I wait for my next faculty advising session. I imagine I will have a lot to say about the conversations here again.

-Mark

--------------------------
Mark Wagner
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Blogging while Busy... Progress, not Perfection

The residency is going amazingly well...and once again I wish I had the time to write more about it. After Starbucks on Sunday night I stayed up polishing and cutting my talk until about 2:30am. Then last night, I was doing Walden stuff until about 9, when I decided to get my work responsibilities out of the way so I could settle in... I wasn't done until 2:30am again! And I've been getting up around 7. Now, here it is 1am... I didn't get back to the KAM again... mostly because the educational technology students were networking... and beginning a blog for students of the specialization, by the way! So once again, I wish I had time to write, and once again I'm afraid I will be dead tired in the morning.

I aim to find a way to blog while busy. How do others deal with this time management issue? This must be central to the habit of blogging.

I am going to try an experiment tomorrow. I will be moblogging (mobile blogging) throughout the day in an effort to incorporate the writing of my blog into my day... in a way similar to how I read my news feeds as they trickle in during the day.

Blogger allows users to set up an email account to which they can send messages which will be posted to the blog. So, I will send short email messages from my blackberry throughout the day and see how that feels. Alternatively, I may generate a flat text file of reflections, and then edit and post it in the evening.

I also still need to post the slides and audio file for my presentation on Monday. Oh, well, one thing at a time... progress not perfection, as Elizabeth at the OCDE reminded me a few weeks ago.

-Mark

Sunday, July 10, 2005

In Residency: Bloomington, Indiana

I'll be in the wonderful little town of Bloomington, IN until the 23rd... at Indiana University... completing my last 12 units of residency at Walden University, though I still have over a year of research and writing ahead of me.

Most of my travel these past two years has been extraordinarily smooth. I show up at the airport, walk through security, walk onto a plane, works some and sleep some, walk off a plane to a rental car desk, and drive to where I am going. I have planned well, I suppose, but I have also been very lucky.

I suppose I can't complain very much today either; I'm here despite the hurricane. But, I did fly through Dallas and my connecting flight was delayed. Then the rental car company in Indianapolis didn't have a car for me... I guess the expedia order didn't go through. No matter, I walked down the way and rented a car from National for the same low price.

The bottom line, though, is that I got here too late to register for internet access on campus with IT at Indiana University! I feel like I imagine Robert Craven did last week when he discovered he couldn't get DSL or Cable at his new house! I eventually located a Starbucks and dropped $9.99 on a T-Mobile hotspot day pass. This was a must because I still had to pull down images for my presentation tomorrow.

Starbucks is closing here in seven minutes, but I wanted to post an update. I hope to blog a little more during my time at the residency... I should certainly have plenty of food for thought - as if I don't already have more than enough on a daily basis! I will have time to write though... despite my dedication to doing the residency and doing a daily dose of KAM writing each day... but that's it - there are no other life distractions here.

Anyway, tomorrow I will post my presentation at the very least - perhaps even the audio. It will be 15 minutes... a ten minute "presentation" (I aim to infuse some discussion) and five minutes for "question and answer" (again, I'll shoot for discussion).

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

PS. A reader (or passer-by?) emailed me today to ask what I think of the program at Walden. It continues to be an overwhelmingly positive experience and I will write more about it this week. Gotta go, Starbucks closing...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Introduction to Open Source Software (for Macintosh)

Here is the outline for this afternoon's class, including the links.

Introduction to Open Source Software - Macintosh OS X

HOUR ONE



Welcome, Intros, and Opening Activity
mark.blogspot.com

History and Concepts
www.opensource.org
www.gnu.org
Google the history of open source!

Introduction to Firefox
www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

Introduction to FIRE & GIMP
fire.sourceforge.net
www.gimp.org


HOUR TWO


www.openoffice.org

Introduction to Open Office: Writer
Introduction to Open Office: Impress
Introduction to Open Office: Calc
Introduction to Open Office: Draw, Math, Basic, & Base



HOUR THREE



How to locate more Open Source Software
sourceforge.net
www.apple.com/macosx/features/x11/
fink.sourceforge.net
finkcommander.sourceforge.net

Other Cool Freeware (Not Open Source)
desktopmanager.berlios.de
www.codingmonkeys.de/subethaedit/

Introduction to Fedora Core Linux
fedora.redhat.com

Closing Activity, Evals (Including CD)
www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=401801185508

LESSON IDEAS



Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective
by David H. Jonassen
www.prenhall.com/jonassen/


I hope that everyone enjoys the class this afternoon... and that Educational Technology and Life subscribers enjoy the links as a self paced introduction to Open Source Software.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Introduction to Open Source Software (for Windows)

Here is the outline for this morning's class, including the links.

Introduction to Open Source Software - Windows XP

HOUR ONE



Welcome, Intros, and Opening Activity
mark.blogspot.com

History and Concepts
www.opensource.org
www.gnu.org
Google the history of open source!

Introduction to Firefox
www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

Introduction to GAIM & GIMP
gaim.sourceforge.net
www.gimp.org


HOUR TWO


www.openoffice.org

Introduction to Open Office: Writer
Introduction to Open Office: Impress
Introduction to Open Office: Calc
Introduction to Open Office: Draw, Math, Basic, & Base



HOUR THREE



How to locate more Open Source Software
sourceforge.net

Other Cool Freeware (Not Open Source)
www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

Introduction to Fedora Core Linux
fedora.redhat.com

Closing Activity, Evals (Including CD)
www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=990971185512


LESSON IDEAS



Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective
by David H. Jonassen
www.prenhall.com/jonassen/


I hope that everyone enjoys the class this morning... and that Educational Technology and Life subscribers enjoy the links as a self paced introduction to Open Source Software.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Monday, July 04, 2005

Papert on Video Games in 1993!

I thought I would share some of what I have been working on these past two weeks. Most of what I am writing is currently focused on constructivist theories of cognitive human development, and so is a wee bit less exciting than most of what I have been reading and writing about for the past year. However, I did get to include this bit on Seymour Papert and Video Games from his 1993 book, The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. It certainly makes Prensky, Gee, Aldrich and the other game-based learning enthusiasts of 2005 seem something less than revolutionary....

By 1993, video games were also common, and within the first few pages of his book, Papert was making the argument that these games encouraged in students “an industriousness and eagerness that school can seldom generate” (p. 3-4), despite the fact that “most are hard, with complex information – as well as techniques – to be mastered” (p. 4). He argued that “video games teach children what computers are beginning to teach adults – that some forms of learning are fast-paced, immensely compelling, and rewarding” (p. 5). In contrast, Papert suggested that “school strikes many young people as slow, boring, and frankly out of touch” (p. 5).

Papert (1993) went on to imagine the idea of a “Knowledge Machine” (p. 8) which would extend the range of experiences with immediacy to a child, by placing “the power to know what others know into [a child’s] hands” (p. 9) and allowing the child to “grow up with the opportunity to explore the jungles and cities and the deep oceans and ancient myths and outer space” (p. 9). More importantly, this Knowledge Machine would offer children “a transition between preschool learning and true literacy in a way that is more personal, more negotiational, more gradual, and so less precarious than the abrupt transition we now ask children to make as they move from learning through direct experience to using the printed word as the source of important information” (p. 12).

Following the articulation of this revolutionary vision, Papert acquiesced that he shares much with constructivist philosophy, including the “criticism of school as casting the child in the role of passive recipient o knowledge” (p. 14). He suggested, though, that most constructivist experiments had failed because “they simply did not go far enough in making the student the subject of the process rather than the object” (p. 14). However, he also suggested that they were limited by the fact that they “lacked the tools that would allow them to create new methods in a reliable and systematic fashion” (p. 14). Of course, he offers the use of computers “for the construction of microworlds” (p. 17) as just such a tool. He also saw computers as enabling a future in which “millions of children all over the world [will be] engaged in work that makes a real contribution to the … study of a socially urgent problem” (p. 25).


Thanks for reading.

-Mark