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Educational Technology and Life has moved:
Visit edtechlife.com for new content.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

FINAL POST: Educational Technology and Life has Moved

Well, my new Wordpress based version of Educational Technology and Life is ready. As with any move, there are plenty of details I want to work on, and I'm sure I'll be unpacking for a while, but the big stuff is done.

I imported all 273 posts on the Blogger version of this blog, the last 30 posts at the original MSN Spaces version of this blog, a handful of posts from my other blogs, and this was the real triumph - 588 categorized posts from my FURL account! I owe Dave Brussin more than a few beers for his generous and heroic efforts converting FURL XML into proper RSS (with accommodations for Wordpress) so it could be imported. If Dave is willing to be so generous, I'd love to be able to write up what he did and post it, because you can indeed import FURL into Wordpress. :)

Wordpress tells me there are currently 906 posts and 120 comments, contained within 21 categories. (The number of comments seems really low, but only the blogger posts came in with comments... and one of the main reasons I moved was so visitors could now comment on my referrals, which they could not do at FURL.)

I still want to fix a lot of old images, categorize all my uncategorized posts (from Blogger and MSN), work out a moblogging solution, add a custom favicon, and get some additional URLs pointed there. But meanwhile, I have a lot of posts I've been keeping queued up in Mars Edit and I want to start posting them this weekend.

So, head on over to edtechlife.com for the latest version of Educational Technology and Life, and use http://edtechlife.com/?feed=rss2 to subscribe via RSS.

You will find all the existing content and any future updates on all the topics you've grown to expect from ET&L.

As always, thanks for reading, and a special thank you for following me to my new home. ;)

UPDATE: If you've been kind enough to link to me, I'd also be thrilled if you update your links with the new address. Thanks to all who have!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reinvention Chapter 2—"I Quit"

Reinvention Chapter 2—"I Quit" (Via Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom.)

Among edubloggers, this was the big news of the day... well, yesterday at this point. Will Richardson has quit his day job to be a blogvangelist... or whatever the future brings him. I commented and meant it.

As my own desire to be disruptive mounts, and as the need for some housekeeping and additional features here at this blog come to a head, I will soon be announcing some changes of my own. The first (of at least two) is already underway... I am once again planning a move, this time to a wordpress blog I host at a URL I own. Tonight I purchased the hosting (and URL), installed wordpress, and imported ALL of the content from this blog. This entire process was unbelievably easy! And I can't wait for the new features of wordpress, including categories and RSS feeds for comments. (Note that you can get free wordpress blogs at learnerblogs.org for you and your students.)

I started an Omni Outliner file for the issues that remain to be settled before announcing the new URL to anyone other than Mike Porcelli. Right now these include:

- [ ] theme
- [ ] images
- [ ] description and bio
- [ ] categories
- [ ] blogroll
- [ ] Import FURL content?

I will let you all know once I've closed escrow again.

Man, does it feel good to geek out a little bit. It was a nice break from all the serious "and Life" issues of late. :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Housekeeping: Bloglines Blogroll Script Doesn't Work?

Does anyone understand what is happening with the blogroll in the right hand column of this blog? It is generated by a smalls script provided by Bloglines, but a third of the links don't go anywhere... they reflect the user right back to this blog. This is both useless and embarrassing. I thought it was high time to post something about it incase the community can help.

Also, while I'm on the topic of housekeeping... my 1 year anniversary on blogger is coming up, and I am considering moving to a new blog tool to mark the occasion. I want something with categories, trackbacks, and comments, of course... and which works with MarsEdit preferably. I am considering buying some hosting and a real domain name for ET&L. I welcome any input on this, and I hope you will all follow me if/when the day comes.

Thanks for reading.

iPSP versus iPod w/Video

I did try out iPSP a few days ago. It has a great interface for converting and copying any media to the PSP. It seems to directly tap into the user's various iLife libraries. Unfortunately, I ran headlong into the main drawback to the PSP as a multimedia device... memory! The PSP has less memory than the iPod (with video) by orders of magnitude!

So, in contrast to the PSP (with 32 MB of memory out of the box), iPod has 60 GBs, and iTunes, however misnamed at this point, provides a decent interface for getting audio, images, and video onto the iPod. Unufortunately, iPod has very little to offer in the way of games, and the video iPod in particular has very poor peripheral support thus far... no iTalk even. In fact, because of the iTalk and iTrip, I am continuing to use a 30 GB iPod Photo as my primary iPod despite having access to a newer model.

And so the one device dream remains elusive.

Also, at this point, with the exception of gaming, iPod is the clear winner over the PSP for educational applications.

Jerome S. Bruner, the Culture of Education, and Educational Technology

Despite the still staggering "and Life" issues, tonight I've managed to keep up with my feeds, catch up on email (including comments from this blog), and now, finally, to blog. (And I completed a reference for a former student to boot!)

I started this post weeks ago, while digging through Bruner's The Culture of Education. My next paper is still in very early stages, so I am returning to these quotes and my annotations to complete this post for ET&L.
Meaning making involves situating encounters with the world in their appropriate cultural contexts in order to know "what they are about." Although meanings are "in the mind," they have their origins and their significance in the culture in which they are created. It is this cultural situatedness of meanings that assures their negotiability and, ultimately, their communicability. (p. 3)
Finally, I am getting to the social negotiation element in the subtitle to this blog! This quote speaks to the importance of allowing students to learn new content (and processes!) in a cultural context, rather than as abstract elements divorced from context, and culture. This is also important to relate to your students, not necessarily as friends (though I remain open to that idea), but at least as human beings. When I got to the point where I could do that, it changed my teaching... that was the door to success. And establishing that relationship is still the first thing I try to do in any professional development.
Education is not an island, but part of the continent of culture.
Similarly I often open with an activity based on a current event, or something I am currently passionate about (in an effort to provoke some passion in the participants). I think this is equally important (and effective) with k12 students. And, naturally, I think that blogs, wikis, and RSS can help students feel that their education is a part of a greater culture... and may even be contributing to that culture.
Native endowment may be as much affected by the accessibility of symbolic systems as by the distribution of genes. (p. 11)
Consider how much more important this becomes in the age of the digital divide! Already there is such a clear gap between those who can read and write academic language, and those who are functionally illiterate... a similar gap has formed between those who can use educational technologies such as an office suite, the internet, and email... and now another gap is forming between those who can use blogs, wikis, and RSS and those who cannot. I suspect a similar divide may be created when some students have access to games and simulations as part of their education (allowing them to learn cyclical and systems content in addition to linear content), while others are stuck using books - and office suites. Needless to say, I think this conclusion of Bruner's speaks to the need to be sure public education provides students with exposure to these tools and the support they need to master them. Personally, I think the need for a 1:1 student to computer ratio should be self evident at this point.
Works and works-in-progess create shared and negotiable ways of thinking in a group... [and] externalization produces a record of our efforts, one that is "outside us" rather than vaguely "in memory." (p. 23)
It is amazing how well this quote captures so much of what is exciting about the read/write web in education! Will Richardson in particular writes often about the benefits of writing as thinking, and I have linked before to suggestions that blogs can be our back up brain.

I thought that I should point out that when Bruner starts talking about "the tenet of identity and self esteem" (p. 35), he starts sounding like Jim Gee, but I suppose the opposite is true. Gee's work reflects Bruner's influence.
I think we have become so preoccupied with the more formal criteria of "performance" and with the bureaucratic demands of education as an institution that we have neglected this personal side of education. (p. 39)
Bruner knew that "...and Life" was more important than standards 10 years ago! This is much of what frustrates me about my job at the county. Though I have some freedom to be disrupted, I am inspired to do more.
Even under the least favorable conditions - psychologically, fiscally, educationally - we still succeed in giving some children a sense of their own possibilities. We do it by getting them (and sometimes their parents) to collaborate in an enabling community. (p. 76)
This is what it is all about! This is what our Expected School Wide Learning Results should be... students will develop a sense of their own possibilities! And note the nod to the parents. Here again blogs can help kids recognize their potential to contribute, and can help parents recognize their student's contributions. So, too, can games help... particularly games that can recast the student as the hero, or at least an effective agent of change within the game world.
Perhaps successful cultures... should be considered as "countercultures" that serve to raise the consciousness and meta-cognition of their participants as well as enhancing their self esteem. (p. 77-78)
Wow. Here is today's Hallelujah, brother. Did I mention I long to be more disruptive?
It is through this process of becoming aware of practice that the good school and the healhy classroom can provide even the child of poverty, even the outsider immigrant child, some working vision of how a society can operate. (p. 79)
This is why reflection through blogging can be a powerful tool for supporting professional learning communities (and small learning communities). In fact, as I sat in a SAIT meeting today and contemplated what in the world an Ed Tech guy was doing in a meeting about program improvement schools when no one in the room had any intention of tapping his knowledge base, it occurred to me how much focusing on the read/write web and other disruptive technologies (rather than focusing on remedial efforts) could change the culture of a school to support more meaningful student learning and achievement, possibly even raising test scores as a side effect.
"We probably have little better sense of where the culture is heading than did the French in 1789." (p. 83)
Scary isn't it? But very likely true.
We need a surer sense of what to teach to whom and how to go about teaching it in such a way that it will make those taught more effective, less alienated, and better human beings... then we can mount the kind of community effort that can truly address the future of our educational process - an effort in which all of the resources of intellect and compassion that we can muster, whatever the price, are placed at the disposal of the schools... all the standards in the world will not, like a helping hand, achieve the goal of making our multicultural, our threatened society come alive again, not alive just as a competitor in the world's markets, but as a nation worth living in and living for. (p. 118)
Perhaps when Bruner wrote this we needed that surer sense... now I think we have it (to the degree possible in our changing culture), and the question now is how to effect the changes he dreams of as well. This is what Educational Technology and Life is all about for me. At the best of times, this is what my job is about, too. I believe the read/write web will play a roll in mounting this community effort, because what Dewey calls our medieval educational system cannot serve us much longer, and the change is coming.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

CUE Conference Concurrent Sessions Now Available!

CUE Conference Concurrent Sessions Now Available! (Via CUE News.)

This is worth passing on here. If you live in California, I hope I'll see you in the OCDE Mac Lab at the CUE conference next month.

777 unread items in my aggregator...

Yes, it's been a particularly trying week at work and at home. I barely put four hours into writing my next paper... and since Wednesday I have barely read my feeds. I clicked through a few here and there, but tonight I sat down to 777 unread items. (Strangely, I also happened to glance at my dock a few days ago and notice 666 unread items!)

So, I'm getting caught up on some reading tonight, you should see some activity over at my FURL account, and I expect to be blogging more this week.

UPDATE: 2 hours and 14 FURLs later, I'm down to 227 unread items. It felt great to get caught up, but it feels even better to limit the time spent on this... and actually go to bed at a decent hour.

UPDATE 02/06/06: Thanks to Monday meetings I've finally got down to zero unread items! Woo hoo! Now I'm back in the flow... and I hope to be blogging tonight, personal life permitting. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Blogging Demo at OCCUE

The teachers here are watching me post this.

Podcast: Robert Craven, iPods, Podcasting, and Education

Robert Craven, iPods, Podcasting, and Education (Since I used Apple's tools to make this, it is an m4v format video.)

It turns out some podcasters / RSS readers only deal with the first enclosure as a podcast, so here is that file again for you folks. ;)

Robert Craven, iPods, Podcasting, and Education

I'm not capturing all of Robert's presentation on video, but I did bring my iSight so I could do a 'proof of concept' for my presentation the following hour.

I set my iSight on the table and captured some video of Robert speaking, referring to Thomas Freedman's the world is flat, and introducing iPod as a communication tool. Then, using the share menu in iMovie, I posted a quick and dirty video podcast to my iWeb site. But, since iWeb doesn't support comments, I am linking to the file here, so it can appear as an enclosure (and thus podcast) in this feed, and folks can comment.

Robert Craven, iPods, Podcasting, and Education (Since I used Apple's tools to make this, it is an m4v format video.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

OCDE Ed Tech Presents at OCCUE 01/28/06

OCDE Ed Tech Presents at OCCUE 01/28/06 (Via Educational Technology at OCDE.)

For those of you not in Orange County (who might not be interested in subscribing to the OCDE Ed Tech Feed), I thought I'd provide this pointer to our presentations on iPod + Podcasting, the Read/Write Web, and Video Games... all in education of course. I hope to post some audio (or even video) tomorrow after the day is done.

iPods, Cell Phones, Computers, email, and IM in a Sixth Grade Classroom

These stats come from an Orange County sixth grade teacher. Thanks to Mike Guerena and to the teacher's district technology leader for sharing the data. :)
Here is more than you wanted:

66% of my students have iPods (21 of 32)
1 iPod
2 iPod shuffle
9 iPod Mini
7 iPod nano
2 iPod video

Other things I surveyed:

38% have their own cell phone

100% have a computer in their house, 35% have one in their room

47% have their own email account

38% instant message almost every day, 60% i.m. at least once or twice a week
So, as Prensky has asked, how can we use the technology (and technology skills) that our students are bringing into our classrooms? As I've said before, I don't think restricting and policing are the answers.

I can't wait to see the comments on this. :)

On the power of IM, Priorities, ...and Sleep

No Bruner post tonight. I've spent time playing with new software (which I always enjoy and haven't been able to do nearly enough this past year). A former student (who's planning to become a teacher) also contacted my via IM, so we chatted a while. We'll be meeting for coffee next week... and, naturally, I'll be helping him with a recommendation.

For several years now I've appreciated the power of instant messages to help me communicate with my students (and former students). Now, at the OCDE, I find it helpful for my professional development students, too... other teachers and tech coordinators.

It is also the only reason I have stayed as close as I have to old friends from college, and even from high school. My closest friends for the past several years have been those I could chat with on a regular basis anytime I was online.

Naturally, my coworkers and I also get a lot of work done via IM, and sometimes... it's what keeps us sane in the office.

So this time I've spent tonight gets logged (in a spreadsheet... no joke... resolutions folks) as "nurture friendships" time. After spending the first week of the year as a hermit, setting goals, prioritizing them, and making plans to reach them... I've found this profoundly powerful in helping decide how to spend my time. Strangely, I feel I am no longer letting my phd research fill up huge spans of time to the detriment of my other priorities and relationships - and yet I feel I am probably accomplishing more when I do study.

Another thing this has helped me to do is to continue to move toward a more regular sleep pattern, which turns out to feel surprisingly healthy, even for a night owl. This week, though, I've been getting to bed a little later each night. So, tonight, I crack this off and turn in instead of doing the heavy lifting necessary to finish the Bruner post tonight.

I'm not even staying up late for iPSP. :)

So, as I save and post this, my IM status goes from "Walden University" to "...and Sleep."

More on Mars Edit.. and OmniOutliner

So, my use of Mars Edit is beginning to pay off in the way I compose for Educational Technology and Life. Last night, for an upcoming post on Bruner's The Culture of Education, I keyed in all of the quotes, applied blockquote tags with the pulldown HTML menu as I went, and then saved as a draft so I could come back when I had more time. (Not that I haven't saved drafts of posts and returned to them before, but somehow, having perspective titles sitting in my Drafts folder makes me feel I made progress despite not posting, and keeps me motivated to come back.)

I think Mars Edit also played a role in leading me to finally start using an outliner! (The fact that Mike Guerena recently ordered our team licenses for one helped too.) The experience is still very new to me (and I'm at the point where learning the tool detracts a bit from its usefulness), but I think this will really make a difference in the way I compose my coming KAMs and dissertation.

So I'm using OmniOutliner to compose my current KAM on principles of societal development. I am focusing on establishing the theoretical foundation for the use of video games and simulations as constructivist learning environments, based on the work of social constructivists such as Dewey, Vygosky, and Bruner. I hope to move forward to tie these ideas to the likes of Shaffer, Squire, and Steinkuehler. (I think I've more or less articulated this here before, but this does make it real and keep me on track.)

Now I'm actually wishing for outliner functionality in Mars Edit and am finally starting to understand what Dave Winer has meant when he's sung their praises as blogging tools.

More to come I'm sure...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Check out the EdTech @ OCDE Front Page

EdTech @ OCDE | Front Page

Check it out. We've got two way communication happening on the OCDE Ed Tech website. And you might notice in the left column we're now offering staff generated content... our FURL archives, and this blog. :)

The Blog as Dissertation Literature Review?

The Blog as Dissertation Literature Review?
Can a certain type of academic blogging be a more adequate form of literature review than the traditional chapter in a dissertation? In this post, I employ the rubric proposed by Boote et al. (2005) to determine whether blogging can be considered a form of literature review. I also make some suggestions for how blogging may be incorporated formally into the research and writing activities of some doctoral students, although it certainly might not be useful to others. I am not suggesting that this single post is my literature review; I am merely providing a map that outlines how my blogging during the past years constitutes a form of ongoing literature review. (Via i d e a n t.)
This is a topic I have a great deal of interest in, and of course I found it worth passing on here (as opposed to in my FURL archive). I noted that Constance Steinkuehler used her web space as a part of her formal dissertation. Though this wasn't exactly a blog, it got me thinking along the same lines as Ulises at ideant. I definitely need to spend more time with his detailed post, too.

I would love to hear any comments any of you may have on this topic.