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Monday, December 26, 2005

Vacation Blog Break

I don't like to let this blog go more than a week without an update, but I find myself with three good reasons for a blog break...

1.) I'm on vacation from the Orange County Department of Education - and from Walden University since I am setting my own schedule there - and so will not be generating much in the way of content that belongs here.

2.) I still have a very serious "and Life" issue that requires my full attention... and I can finally give it the time it deserves now that I am on vacation.

3.) I will have plenty of time to myself to catch up on my blogging next week, when Eva will be out of town on a road trip with her girl friends.

In the meantime I may find cause for interrupting the blog break... and I will continue to read all my feeds, so I may very continue posting to my FURL archive and feed.

These topics are in the queue for when I return...

- John Dewey's Democracy and Education
- John Dewey's Experience and Education
- John Dewey's "My Pedagogic Creed"
- Reflections on World of Warcraft (Fueled by discussion with my brother James who grew up playing paper and dice role playing games with me.)
- And more... time for that break though. ;)

Happy holidays to all, and if I don't get back to it... happy new year! (Man, I just realized my blogiversary went uncelebrated back on December 7th... maybe I'll have to celebrate my blogger-versary instead... in February.)

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Monday, December 19, 2005

What are the advantages and disadvantages of serious games?

I received this question via email a few days ago. It prompted an interesting response from me... a brief summary of my thoughts on the subject actually... so I thought I'd share it here, too.
In short, I think the impact of serious games, or rather the potential impact, is to provide a powerful medium for education and for affecting positive social change. The advantages are many. For starters, games are engaging and motivating, and appeal to students (particularly young students) in a medium they are comfortable with (see Marc Prensky's work, particularly his writings on Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants for more on this). Also, and this is what I am most interested in, games can provide a context for learning, opportunities for inquiry, and a framework for collaboration... all elements that are important in an educational environment, particularly in the constructivist philosophy (here, I hope, is where my research - and my blog, might come in handy). Finally, games - particularly those with many simulation elements - can be used to teach content that is typically very difficult to teach in the classroom, including non-linear content such as cyclical or systems content (see Clark Aldrich's work for more on these content types), and what some call 21st century skills of digital age literacies, inventive thinking (particularly risk taking), effective communication, and high productivity (see http://www.ncrel.org/engauge/skills/skills.htm for an explanation of what I mean by these skills).

As for the disadvantages, there are several obvious ones... in terms of current commercial games, we have a ways to go to deal with the violence and gender equity issues. Too, most current games can be very sedentary activities. From an educational technology standpoint, most games will place considerable demands on schools' student-to-computer ratios, hardware specs, and infrastructure (connectivity and bandwidth). Development of the games, and an economic model, may be the biggest hurdles involved.
I hope this might help others who are newly interested in the subject. I'm also hoping some of you who know quite a bit more will share your thoughts on this summary. For instance... what'd I leave out?

-Mark

Sunday, December 18, 2005

NECC Update: Context, Inquiry, and Collaboration: Video Games as Constructivist Learning Environments [Concurrent]

I now know when I'll be presenting at NECC in July.
Accepted Proposals
The following proposals have been accepted to the NECC 2006 program. Click on title to review or edit. Click as indicated for other processes.

Context, Inquiry, and Collaboration: Video Games as Constructivist Learning Environments [Concurrent] (13997210)
• Scheduled: Friday, 7/7/2006  10:00am– 11:00am
• Participation Agreement Form has been confirmed.
With my exposure to event planning at the OCDE this year, I have a new perspective on this: I am amazed at how organized and streamlined (and ahead of time) their process is!

-Mark

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

... and Life: Tonight I am happy to work at the OCDE.

I am sitting at my desk catching up on a very long to do list (including preparing comments from last night's class for post as a podcast). My good friend Dave Conlay is teaching Excel for Educators in the PC Lab. Robert Craven, a fellow Coordinator of Educational Technology here at the OCDE (and also a good friend) is teaching Podcasting in the Mac Lab. And as our teammate Stacy Deeble-Reynolds (again, a good friend) headed out with her carpool, she pointed out this sunset. I often complain about how boring the weather is in Orange County, but occassionally this is nice. :)

Now, I am off to do some holiday shopping for the office. We have a "silly slipper" exchange tomorrow afternoon.

-Mark

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Educators Play Food Force!

After an hour of theory, including the work of Prensky, Gee, Aldrich, and others, teachers are finally getting to go hands on with Food Force! They will be asked to reflect on their experience as players, on how well the game reflects the theories we discussed, and on how well the gameplay reflects the content and learning objectives of the game. (I know Clark Aldrich suggested I not have them critique the game, since they are not in the position of developing games, but this should make for interesting discussion.. and should aid them in critically assessing the educational value of a game.)

I hope to record and post some of their reflections this evening, too.

Introduction to Games in Education

Today I am delivering my Introduction to Games in Education Class (note: links to a zipped powerpoint presentation) at the Orange County Department of Education Educational Technology Center from 4pm to 7pm in the PC Lab.

Finally. :)

Perhaps this will put some momentum back in my research.

-Mark

UPDATE: Here is a link to the Games in Education category in my FURL archive.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

... and Life: San Francisco

For the second morning in a row, I am enjoying free Wi-Fi in the Starbucks at the corner of Bush and Grant (just outside Chinatown) in San Francisco. I'm not paying for the t-mobile hotspot because there's a kimpton network in a nearby hotel that requires only agreement to their terms of service to get online. I like that approach. (It's kind of fun to feel like Dave Winer as I write this.)

As I catch up on my feeds (and a little bit of work) over coffee... I really appreciate the luxury to do so... I live such a life of privaledge that for $1.40 I can sit here in the warm starbucks enjoying coffee, a sense of contributing to the world as I work, and free access to nearly the sum of all human knowledge at my fingertips... while meanwhile the corner outside in the cold has never been without a beggar and a cardboard sign. I can't help but noting, by the way, that today's relatively young Gulf War '91 verteran in his fatigues is getting far more attention and donations than yesterdays bearded old man on his knees with his cup outstretched as if in prayer. May programs like the $100 laptop, and the efforts of educational technologists everywhere, allow more of the world's students to live with access to what I'm appreciating. Is that just a culturally centric thing to wish for?

These are today's "and Life" thoughts. Now it's time to go join my brother for a hike.

I should mention, too, though, that I have finished Democracy and Education and should finish Experience and Education on this weekend's trip, so there are more Dewey and educational technology posts ahead.

-Mark

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fwd: NECC Proposal Status Notification

It only now occured to me that I can forward interesting email, or excerpts from messages, to this blog. I thought I might start with this... Good news! I'll be speaking at NECC in San Diego this July.

Begin forwarded message:
The NECC 2006 Program Committee has completed its review of this year's proposal submissions, and we are pleased to announce that you have been accepted to present at NECC. Please find the status of your submission(s) below:

Context, Inquiry, and Collaboration: Video Games as Constructivist Learning Environments (Concurrent)
Accepted

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The OCDE Ed Tech News Feed Now Has Comments!

Woo hoo! Our intern, UCI Computer Science (and Film Studies) student Scott Harris, has added a comment feature to the web site and news feed he created for us several months ago.

I am amazed and proud to announce that our administrator, Sandra Lapham, was happy to move forward allowing annonymous comments on the site. Apparently Scott got them up and running last night. I'm excited that our site can now facilitate two way communication between our department and our visitors (and between visitors), and so serve as a better model of the read/write web in education.

So, I am trusting our visitors from Orange County and elsewhere will be generous with constructive feedback and tactful with any criticisms. Though I know a "teachable moment" may be in my future, I am hopeful about this.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moblog Demo for Teachers

"Good stuff" says Dan. :)
--------------------------
Mark Wagner
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

More Teachers Learn about Blogs at the OCDE

After a day of AB 75 administrator training in Anaheim, I am back at the OCDE teaching an Intro to Blogs class for teachers.

A twelve hour day is a bit long, but did I mention I have the best job?

Moblog Demo for AUHSD

This was written on my handheld.
--------------------------
Mark Wagner
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Presenting the Read/Write Web for Administrators in AUHSD

Today 30 administrators are learing about blogs, wikis, FURL, and RSS! Isn't it exciting!?

I've got the best job!

Monday, December 05, 2005

John Dewey on The Psychology of Occupations, The Development of Attention, and The Aim of History in Education

This is the last of my posts based on my transcriptions from The School and Society. After this I will move on to my reflections on Democracy and Education, which will not include such large block quotes for the very pragmatic reason that I had no need of transcribing large chunks of the book... because I own a copy I can annotate. I really hope we sort out a good electronic (searchable and cut and paste-able) way to read and annotate books... soon.

At any rate, I took fewer transcriptions from the final chapters of the book. Still these are themes that I have recognized in Democracy and Education also, and of course I find them relevant to Educational Technology in general, and Games in Education specifically.

The Psychology of Occupations
"By occupation I mean a mode of activity on the part of the child which reproduces, or runs parallel to, some form of work carried on in social life." (p. 132)
The important thing here is that students' work aught to be driven by a social context.
"The work is reduced to a mere routine or custom, and its educational value is lost... wherever... the mastery of certain tools, or the production of certain objects, is made the primary end, and the child is not given, wherever possible, intellectual responsibility for selecting the materials and instruments that are most fit, and given an opportunity to think out his own model and plan of work, led to perceive his own errors, and find out how to correct them - that is, of course, within the range of his capacities." (p. 133-134)
Educational technologists struggle to express this to other educators (and administrators) today. I am thrilled to have this quote now. This happens to also be the antithesis of many of the content standards. The California English Language Arts standards can accommodate something very like this, but many of the others are much more prescriptive... and I can't speak for other states' standards.
"Thinking... arises from the need of meeting some difficulty, in reflecting upon the best way of over coming it, and thus leads to planning, to projecting mentally the results to be reached, and deciding upon the steps necessary and their serial order. This concrete logic of action long precedes the logic of pure speculation or abstract investigation, and through the mental habits that it forms is the best of preparations for the latter." (p. 135)
Here we again see a hint of what would become Piaget's stages, but the important thing is the articulation of why we might use problem-based learning.

The Development of Attention
"True reflective attention... always involves judging, reasoning, deliberation; it means that the child has a question of his own and is actively engaged in seeking and selecting relevant material with which to answer it, considering the bearings and relations of this material - the kind of solution it calls for." (p. 148)
This then extends the previous quote to provide a statement of why we might advocate inquiry-based learning.

The Aim of History in Education
"To study history is not to amass information, but to use information in constructing a vivid picture of how and why men did thus and so; achieved their successes and came to their failures." (p. 151)
Not only is this something I've heard countless times in reference to the history classes of our time, but this ties together many of the points above, including the need for a social context, and the need for students to learn the tools (and content for that matter) while using it.

Finally, it is also worth pointing out that Dewey was clearly interested in students studying occupations, and leaning through adopting the identity of an occupation, not unlike the theories espoused by Jim Gee. :)

-Mark

Contact Information Added to Side Bar

On Saturday, after a successful skype call to my dad (me on my powerbook in California, and he on his Windows desktop in Quebec), I added this information to a new box in the sidebar of the blog. I hope some of you will take advantage of it. :)

Contact Information

John Dewey on Froebel's Educational Principles

This will be a brief entry on this chapter of The School and Society. The first two of [Dewey's renditions of] Froebel's educational principles bear repeating on this blog:
"1. The primary business of school is to train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living; to foster in them the consciousness of mutual interdependence; and to help them practically in making the adjustments that will carry this spirit into overt deeds.

2. The primary root of all educative activity is in the instinctive, impulsive attitudes and activities of the child, and not in the presentation and application of external material, whether through the ideas of others or through the senses; and that, accordingly, numberless spontaneous activities of children, plays, games, mimic efforts, even the apparently meaningless motions of infants - exhibitions previously ignored as trivial, futile, or even condemned as positively evil - are capable of educational use; nay, are the foundation-stones of educational method." (p. 117)
Could a school ask for a better mission statement than that first principle? I suppose I am slowly becoming something of a social activist... what with 2 and a half years of learning with the purpose of "transforming society" at Walden Univeristy and more recently with reading Michka Assays's amazing Bono on Bono.

Regarding the second principle, I think it captures the constructivists concern with the internal thought process of the learner, and also touches on the importance of play. One could easily imagine this excerpt being in relation to video games in education. The following, though, is more explicitly about the importance of play...
"Play is not to be identified with anything which the child externally does. It rather designates his mental attitude in its entirety and in its unity. It is the free play, the interplay, of all the child's powers, thoughts, and physical movements, in embodying, in a satisfying form, his own images and interests. Negatively, it is freedom from economic pressure - the necessities of getting a living and supporting others - and from the fixed responsibilities attaching to the special calling of the adult. Positively, it means that the supreme end of the child is fulness of growth - fulness of realization of his budding powers, a realization which continually carries him on from one plane to another." (P. 118-119)
This reflects the difficulty I've seen many theorists have in defining play - and in defining games. This is also what Henry Jenkins III is getting at when he says in our webcast, "when I do my job at MIT, I am engaged."
"The teacher must be absolutely free to get suggestions from any and every source, asking herself but these two questions: Will the proposed mode of play appeal to the child as his own? Is it something of which he has the instinctive roots in himself, and which will mature the capacities that are struggling for manifestation in him? And again: Will the proposed activity give that sort of expression to these impulses that will carry the child on to a higher plane of consciousness and action, instead of merely exciting him and then leaving him just where he was before, plus a certain amount of nervous exhaustion and appetite for more excitation in the future?" (p. 120)
Here I wasnt to point out the importance of teacher freedom in the games in education movement... and in educational technology in general! Also, these questions are important when it comes to selecting specific games or technologies for use with specific students.
"The materials, then, must be as "real," as direct and straightforward, as opportunity permits." (p. 124)
We live in a society where this is quite a bit less possible than in Dewey's day, yet simulations and game technologies can now provide a powerful alternative to lectures and traditional school experiences.

Through the end of the chapter Dewey discusses the importance of unity (in the curriculum), the concept of constructive or "built up" work, and quite a bit about the kindergarden, which, as my wife is a kindergarden teacher, I am plenty interested in despite having only taught in high schools myself.

-Mark

Sunday, December 04, 2005

John Dewey on The Psychology of Elementary Education.

This is the last chapter of The School and Society that I took such copious notes for. I transcribed 11 quotes, so I won't bother with cutting that down to 10. Here they are with annotations:
"At present the tendency is to conceive individual mind as a function of social life - as not capable of operating or developing by itself, but as requiring continual stimulus from social agencies, and finding its nutrition in social supplies." (p. 99)
This sounds like the genesis, or at least the essence, of the social constructivist movement. The following quote contributes to this feeling as well. I also appreciated the reference to the then much newer and more exciting theory of evolution.
"The idea of evolution has made familiar the notion that mind ... is developed in an environment which is social as well as physical, and that social needs and aims have been most potent in shaping it." (p. 99)
The next bit seems to address the distinction between the stimuli-focused behaviorists, and the constructivists that would follow Dewey.
"Nature must indeed furnish its physical stimuli of light, sound, heat, etc., but the significance attached to these, the interpretation made of them, depends upon the ways in which the society in which the child lives acts and reacts in reference to them." (p. 99)
Here Dewey is talking about our still familiar subject areas.
"That these classified sets of facts were simply selections from the social life of the past was overlooked; equally so that they had been generated out of social situations and represented the answers found for social needs." (p. 100)
Given what I've already read in Democracy and Education I know Dewey is interested in putting the subjects back into a social context. This is what we might call problem-based learning, particularly if the answer to the problem is actually important to somebody other than the student.
"The third point of contrast lies in the modern conception of the mind as essentially a process - a process of growth, not a fixed thing." (p. 102)
I suppose this is an element of constructivist philosophy, too... schema building perhaps. It sits well with me, as a philosophy of life, but I am living a century after Dewey. I wonder how... revolutionary that was at the time, or whether that sort of philosophy has always been common place. For someone who minored in philosophy, I suppose I should know that. ;)
"Now we believe in the mind as a growing affair, and hence as essentially changing, presenting distinctive phases of capacity and interest at different periods." (p. 102)
Ah! Now this begins to sound like a prelude to Piaget's stages. I've already written elsewhere that the stage theory doesn't resonate with me, and others have certainly critiqued it much more completely. Still, in terms of connecting this to my earlier research on Piaget and Papert... and thus computers and games... this is significant.
"To refuse to try, to stick blindly to tradition, because the search for the truth involves experimentation in the region of the unknown, is to refuse the only step which can introduce rational conviction into education." (p. 104)
Hallelujia, brother! If one accepts the importance of risk taking, then the leap to this educational philosophy should be a natural one.
"Since the aim is not "covering the ground," but knowledge of social processes used to secure social results, no attempt is made to go over the entire history, in chronological order, of America. Rather a series of types is taken up... the method involves presentation of a large amount of detail... so the child can reproduce the material as life, not as mere historic information." (p. 108)
I've heard a lot of high school redesign folks talk like this lately. Dr. Dagget suggested throwing out 2/3 of the curriculum in order to do 1/3 well. If memory serves, Richard DuFour recommended something similar. (This guy has got to have a more up to date page... if anyone knows where it is, please let me know.)
"(1) The need that the child shall have in his own personal and vital experience a varied background of contact and acquaintance with realities, social and physical. (2) The need that the more ordinary, direct, and personal experience of the child shall furnish problems, motives, and interests that necessitate recourse to books for their solution, satisfaction, and pursuit. Otherwise, the child approaches the book without intellectual hunger, without alertness, without a questioning attitude, and the result is the one so deplorably common: such abject dependence upon books as weakens and cripples vigor of thought and inquiry, combined with reading for mere random stimulation of fancy, emotional indulgence, and flight from the wold of reality into a make believe land." (p. 112)
This is such powerful stuff, and I agree up until the last point... where, as I do with Plato, I strongly disagree with Dewey. Though I have a deeper appreciation of this point after my readings in Democracy and Education, I still feel there is a very important place for fantasy in a healthy life. My friend Benton Melbourne once said he believed that our imagniary lives (in games particularly) are at least as important as our real lives... while I know that is certainly debatable, I think there is some wisdom in it, but I will leave the exploration of that for another time.
"The problem here is then (1) to furnish the child with a sufficiently large amount of personal activity in occupations, expression, conversation, construction, and experimentation, so that his individuality, moral and intellectual, shall not be swamped by a disproportionate amount of the experiences of others to which books introduce him; and (2) so to conduct this more direct experience as to make the child feel the need of resort to and command of the traditional social tools - furnish him with motives and make his recourse to them intelligent, an addition to his powers, instead of a servile dependency." (p. 112-113)
Wow. Read that last bit again... "furnish him with motives..." this is the answer to why we are going to all the trouble to provide our students with authentic motives, and using educational technologies, including games, to do it.
"The common complaints that children's progress in these traditional school studies is sacrificed to the newer subjects that have come into the curriculum... (1) the more direct modes of activity, constructive and occupation work, scientific observation, experimentation, etc., present plenty of opportunities and occasions for the necessary use of reading, writing (and spelling), and number work. These things may be introduced, then, not as isolated studies, but as organic outgrowths of the child's experience. The problem is, in a systematic and progressive way, to take advantage of these occasions. (2) The additional vitality and meaning which these studies thus secure make possible a very considerable reducation of the time ordinarily devoted to them. (3) The final use of the symbols, whether in reading, calculation, or composition, is more intelligent, less mechanical; more active, less passively receptive; more an increase of power, less a mere mode of enjoyment." (p. 113-114)
This is a powerful argument for constructivist education. Educational technology... and video games... can help. Especially with the systematic and progressive bit. Now I just need to explicitly argue for this connection in my paper. :)

I feel I've struck but one chord here tonight. Still I wanted to get something on Dewey up this weekend so I'd be rolling again. I have finished this book and am a good way through Democracy in Education, which I'll follow by Experience and Education before moving on to Bandura and the others.

I welcome comments... especially from the Dewey experts out there.

-Mark

Saturday, December 03, 2005

... and Life: The Read/Write Web and Playing Music with Friends

I started a blog for the "band" I am in with some friends who are equally passionate U2 fans. Check out the comment we got from Spain! We have a fan. :) This is what the read/write web is all about!

Your students can have these moments too.

-Mark

Karen Ibbitson on The Use of Complex Digital Games and Simulations in the Classroom to Enhance Engagement and Learning.

Karen Ibbitson contacted me by email back in October when she stumbled upon this blog. Karen served as the media tech at Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos (which is a well decorated school!) for 5 years before getting her multiple subject teaching credential. She is now working on her masters in education at Concordia University.) We've corresponded a bit since she contacted me, and she's recently completed a paper as part of her masters degree on "The Use of Complex Digital Games and Simulations in the Classroom to Enhance Engagement and Learning." She draws on many of the resources I've cited here, and her reference list (and discussion) include several new gems I need to spend some time with. She's also been gracious enough to allow me to post the paper here (with her university's permission) for others to share.

Ibbitson.doc

I appreciated how well she brought all of these ideas together into such a succinct paper. Enjoy.

Now I just hope she starts blogging...

-Mark

Blogging Advice Between Two Educational Technologists

Ted Lai, one of my innovative counterparts in the Los Angeles County Office of Education recently sent me an email that included this bit:
I have a question for you...  I noticed that your blog is being read and out there...  How does that happen?  I have two blogs/podcasts up  and I don't know how to advertise them or get them listed for Google searches and such.  Any advice?

Ted Lai
http://socalhockey.libsyn.com
http://technologyted.blogspot.com
Naturally this was flattering and I was happy to help. I also thought my response would be worth sharing here, for whatever it is worth. So, my reply included this bit:
Ted,

I have pretty limited advice regarding the blogs and readership, but I can share what I've picked up... I'd be happy to chat about it anytime, but here are a few bits I can share over email.

Most importantly, post good content regularly. At the very least it will be searchable and people looking for something similar will find it. If what they find is good they will link to it. I've learned others won't contribute unless there is something engaging and thought provoking already there. I can't believe how many people post simple questions as their first blog posts and wonder why no one responds. You need to give them something to dig their teeth into. (And even so, if people aren't responding it doesn't mean they aren't reading. I occasionally ask a question of my readers, but rarely get an answer. Rather it is the things I say, or am processing publicly, that seem to inspire responses.)

This leads to the next most important thing, and this I picked up from advice on other sites. Be generous with your links to similar content... and don't be afraid to let the other authors know you have linked to them (even via an email) so that they can check out your site. There is something of a "you link to me, I'll link to you" ethic out there. I don't actually do the email alert thing often, but people in ed tech circles seem to have a way to know when they are being linked to. (I even have a standing MSN search via RSS for my name and educational technology and have picked up a lot of connections that way.)

Also, simple stuff like using keywords if you can... and including them in your post titles and the body of your messages. It says educational technology and games in education so many times in my blog people can't miss it! When I started writing about Dewey and put his name in the title of my posts with my topics I started attracting a whole new group of people.

Finally, don't worry about gathering a big readership. The beauty of all this is that the one person who cares (or three people, or thirty, whatever) can find you. My readership is certainly not large, but it has sure helped me to connect with people working in this field. I've met with, spoken on the phone with, or emailed with nearly every influential author I am studying - and a handful of practicing educators. I only have about 40 subscribers that I can track, between bloglines and Feedburner. True there could be a lot more, but that seems to be enough for this magic to happen.

Incidentally, I don't know if you're following my FURL archive (I'm pretty active there), but I FURLed your hockey blog straight away... after your first email and before this one. :)

At any rate, I'd love to chat with you more about this... and I'm enjoying your posts.

-Mark
In his reply to me, Ted also included this bit (in addition to indicating his willingness to let me repurpose this conversation here):
One of the things that Leo Laporte said in his keynote at the Portable Media Expo was to "Podcast your passion."  Don't worry about readership/listenership...  It's good to be reminded of that.  I do enjoy what I do, and I need to keep that in mind much more.  I have no delusions of being really popular, but it is nice to be heard by some regulars (other than friends and family).
I hope our exchange might be useful to others. As Ted replied, "it's all for education."

-Mark

Excel for Educators at Thurston Middle School, LBUSD

As long as I'm sharing photos this afternoon... on Tuesday I was in the Laguna Beach USD to deliver an Excel for Educators class at Thurston Middle School. Look at the view (right) from the parking lot where I left my little Ford Focus (not my car, but the exact model, wheels and everything). Can you imagine going to school there? Or teaching there? I feel like I am on vacation when I visit. :)

In two hours, we did the M&Ms lesson (as an introduction to data entry, formating, formulas, and graphing), covered David H. Jonassen's theories on using spreadsheets as Mindtools, and had time for each participant to brainstorm a classroom application for excel. My favorite? A history teachers plan to create a simulation using the four elements of imperialism as a variables. The English teachers also enjoyed Jonassen's poetry lesson plan, originally created for databases. (See Computers as Mindtools for Schools: Engaging Crtitical Thinking, pp. 44-45).

-Mark

... and Life: Roses Follow Up

I know I haven't been consistent about my posts lately. I've been dealing with a healthy dose of "and Life" issues here. Though I respect, follow, and get a lot out of blogs that deal with personal issues like what I'm dealing with, the full story doesn't belong on Educational Technology and Life... not by a long shot.

Still, I can share this follow-up shot of the Roses in my back yard as a symbol of the importance of what I am going through right now.

The initial shot I posted here showed some flowers in full bloom, and a handful of fresh buds on a longer stem. This shot depicts the original flowers as they rot and fall away, while the buds have now blossomed into something spectacular. After changing jobs so much the last few years I began to come to a deeper appreciation of the limited time I have working with the exciting people I get to work with. This is now crossing over into my personal life. I have always maintained long term friendships, but some will blossom and fade while others will grow to replace them.

Now, I'm not at all sure what it means that the gardener has since paid us a visit and cut both of these stems back to prune the bush! I suppose it will still grow more beautiful flowers in their place, which would not be possible without the pruning. I suppose this former literature teacher can find some symbolism in that, too... and it is almost too bad I can't share the whole story here. Still, I offer this image and these thoughts up as my apology for being away.

Meanwhile, there is much more to come this weekend... on the read/write web, on Dewey, and on Serious Games.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark