Friday, September 28, 2007

Google Reader

I am addicted to my RSS feed, and in the past I have sung the praises of Net News Wire, but in this age of the Read/Write Web and for the sake of trying new things, I looked into Google Reader.

I was worried at first that I would need to start my subscriptions from scratch, and with 80+ RSS feeds I peruse - this was not an exciting idea. However, I discovered an Import/Export feature. I was able to Export form NetNews Wire a .opml file. I was then able to upload that into Google Reader. Now, I did have to reorganize my subscriptions and tag them, but that wasn't too painful.

The advantages of Google Reader include:
-Being able to get my feeds from any computer
-Changing the way I look at my feeds
-Sharing items with others
You can view my favorites here.
You can subscribe to my best of the best feed here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Second Life in Education

I have always been a proponent of video games in education. Heck, I learned how to program thanks to Logo back in 4th grade. (Yes I learned to program in Elementary School, I had no choice but to be a geek - and I'm very proud of it now). There are some very cool initiatives in the College right now that utilize the "power" of video games and how they can graphically represent concepts to us.

But Second Life? I'm not sure. Second Life to me is a social community that just happens to be in a 3D Virtual environment. But, I'm curious and want to investigate further.

DELTA at NC State has purchased an island to investigate this idea. What can we do in this kind of environment? Can we teach? Can we simulate scenarios? Can we discuss? Who do we want to join us? Who do we want to keep out?

I'm looking forward to what we find. Oh and my SL name is Trillian Kowalski

Have you ever tried so hard.....and failed

I have a goal - to participate more in the blogosphere, to be a creator of knowledge, to grow as an individual. And yet sometimes I miss the mark and feel like I'm in high school raising my hand too many times to talk in class.

I'm a big fan of David Warlick and every once in awhile I get the nerve to comment on his blog. He had a really interesting post that just got me so excited. I blogged more about myself than the actual question. I feel humiliated, and in public, on my favorite blog.

It looks like I need to put more time and thought in the things I write - not that I'll stop mind you. If embarrassment stopped me I'd never do anything :)

Thanks for letting me rant a bit. I feel better. Even if I am overreacting a bit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do I need a website?

I'm contemplating buying a domain name and website. I figure if I'm gonna do this - I may as well do it right. But is it worth it? and whom should I contract with? So far I have these companies in mind:

Domain Zoo

Any recommendations? And is it worth it? I might do a personal site at the same time to make it more cost effective. Or should I go with a local company?

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Laptop Per Child Project

I was fortunate enough to travel to the NECC conference in San Diego last year. The Keynote Speaker was Nicholas Negopronte, whom I had admired from his work at MIT and his book Being Digital. He has headed up the One Laptop Per Child Project - AKA The $100 laptop. His idea is to put a laptop in every child's hand, and is starting with 3rd World Countries. While I was at NECC I got to play with a prototype of the machine. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles - but it has definite potential. If we are starting to think of the Internet as the new OS, why would you need a powerful machine?

It was announced this week that the One Laptop project is starting a new program. Buy a laptop from them for $400 and they will donate one to a needy child oversees (an you get a $200 tax right off). There have been thousands of people wanting to play with this new laptop and I think this was a smart marketing and fundraising tool - but doesn't it take away from part of the purpose of the machine?

I plan on writing a bit more on this subject later - including some pros on cons that I've seen as well as others.

Friday, September 21, 2007

1:1 Podcast

I have created a brief 1:1 podcast for my 21st Century Skills Class. It is a bit over 1min in length and I am testing Bloggers ability to syndicate podcasts. You should also be able to click on the title and navigate to the webpage.

Google - Presentations

Google is starting to become the new OS for most of us in this Web 2.0 world. Not only is Google one of the best search engines in the world (and I don't just say that because it is from my home state of Washington - or because the guy I grew up next door to works there or anything), but they also offer some very powerful tools. Some of my favorites are:
G-mail (I mean who doesn't love free e-mail that has unlimited space)
Google Calendar (it takes uploads from iCal on a Mac - how cool is that?)
Google Earth (which now includes maps of the sky)
Google Reader (which acts as an RSS aggregator - basically a reader of all of your feeds - I still am attached to NetNewsWire, but this is tempting)

and Google Docs, which has just added Presentations. Although SlideShare is awesome in its ability to post PP presentation. The power of Google Presentations is being able to work collaboratively on a document. It takes a page out of a wikis book and takes it a step further, so instead of a webpage at the end - you get a presentation!

I hope to do my presentations for NCETC this year in it and demo how it works! Come to think of it, maybe I should have a Google Session? Or is that Patrick Crispin's territory?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Learning 2.0 - Shanghai

I've been following the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai (since all my favorite people are there) and because China seems to be on the map these days for education conferences (There was a literacy conf this summer that a good deal of people from State traveled to). It also focused on 2 big trends - Web 2.0 and 1:1 laptop initiatives. There was also some really cool ways that they kept up with each other and the world (mostly using Twitter) that I plan on writing more about.

Gary Stager happened to be one of the keynotes and I really enjoyed listening and reading about his opinions on 1:1 initiatives. Wes Fryer had some really interesting thoughts about Gary's session and podcast of 10 Things to Do with a Laptop. After the 1:1 Conference last week (that I blogged to death and I promise to be a bit better on).

I have been trying to not only synthesize my thoughts, but also think of the practical applications of such programs. It is all well and good for me in my "ivory tower" to make proclamations of how great something is. And yet, my friend Sharon calls me her "connector" (in Tipping Point terms) and isn't that what blogging does? Connect others together to create excitement or to let others at least know the possibilities? I guess I'm feeling a bit out of the trenches in a university - and missing teaching high school.

Web 2.0 - DELTA Presentation

I am at a Web 2.0 presentation by Scott Watkins & Charlie Morris for Delta. Moblogged...

Educause article by Bryan Alexander
Horizon report - describe new technologies and their effect on education
O'Reilly Web 2.0 - 2005
127 mill citations of Web 2.0 in 2007

What does Web 2.0 mean? Convenient label - Read/Write Label
The Machine is Us/ing Us - Youtube Video

Principals & Practices:
User participation - not just consumption of information

4 Key ingredients
1) The Web as a platform (we no longer need an OS)
Timeline from MIT SIMILE & Exhibit
2) Harnessing Collective Intelligence
3) Syndication of Content - RSS, Trackback
Google Reader
Common Craft - Social Design for the Web
4) Tagging "folksonomy" vs. taxonomy - the crowd vs. the info specialist - Tag cloud
Get your own tag cloud

Web 2.0 Examples
Flickr, youtube, elgg,
2007 Web 2.0 Awards
Dr. Greenlaw

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Girl Scouts in STEM


Jennifer Carter - Director of Special Programs

All day workshop in STEM for Girls - (approx. 200)
Glaxo, IBM, etc. involved
Examples: Why Does Choclate make us happy?
Design Jam - Project Mangement and Design
Extracting DNA

This year on Nov 17th

Camp Mary Atkinson

Looking to connect their girls with other STEM initiatives

Girls in STEM - Keynote

Keynote - Dr. Jamila Simpson - moblogged
We have come quite some way, but we have a long way to go
Born to a Social Worker and a community college counselor
Her mother had dreams of being and engineer and told that was a man's field
They encouraged her so she would not have regrets
Building with legos and said - You can be an architect or an engineer
In 2nd grade I decided I wanted to be a meterologist
Overheard a conversation about tornados
Checked out every book on tornado they could find
Wanted to be a "tornadologist"
Her parents always encouraged her
But School Curriculum was an issue
From a rural area without the opportunities - her passion was never covered in school
Not many organizations available to change that
Coursework - being put on the wrong path - Tracking
When she looked at NC State's requirements she would not have enough Math
Her parents pushed the school to take 2 math classes at the same time
Her school did not think she could do it
What happens when you don't have advocates?
First African American female to graduate with a BS in Meterology in 2000
Saw teaching as a way to help kids - to advocate for them. That science is accessible to them.

Girls in STEM

I am at the Friday Inst again today in a meeting about Girls in STEM. I will be moblogging this session.

It is not a GPA or performance issue
50% of BAs were women - they are in college but not STEM
Who is taking SAT? More boys than girls

Why so few women in STEM?
Girls have higher GPAs in Math and Science
But low interest in science, stereotypes, the "leaky pipeline"
Once in a STEM major they are just as likely to stay
Girls are not in STEM major even with high Math SAT did not find courses of interest in STEM
They are interesting in helping people and do not see that in STEM
Girls prefer intrinsic rewards and boys prefer extrinsic rewards

Girls make lower assessments of themselves
Lack of female role models
May need to be invited to begin a "non-traditional" career
Leaky Pipeline - women drop out of STEM along the way.

How do we fix this?
Give hands-on specific info
Show how STEM can help people - big picture
Challenge stereotypes
Have Role models
Website for non-traditional Posters

National Girls Collaborative Project
Getting programs together - more effective if working together
Started at the Puget Sound Center - funded by NSF

Program directory -

MRU Collaborative Project

NGCP Model
Kick-off conference
program directory
Champions Board
Share best practices
Listing of needs and resources

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1:1 Recap

Wow - I'm not sure if moblogging is the best idea for me. I think I write like I talk - too much! However, I would like to note a few observations:
*Everyone emphasized the importance of professional development. Yea! I am so glad that this is was so highlighted. It is such an important aspect of any new project and should not e forgotten
*That 1:1 is a paradigm shift from teacher centered learning (sage on the stage) to student centered learning (guide on the side) (This paradigm shift needs to be apart of PD as well)
*That there are different ways to implement 1:1. It is not a one size fits all solution
*The more you can simplify things by using one vendor, the better you are
*The Books to Read are:
Good to Great
Daniel Pink A Whole New Mind - the future of our students is in creativity
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
Malcom Gladwell - The Tipping Point
*That having an enigmatic speaker such as Angus King as your spokesperson is what everyone needs!

Friday, September 14, 2007

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Curriculum & Media across content areas and grades

Group discussion:
Goals for 1:1?
Increase learning thru engagement
Digital equity

1:1 has been successful in Elem Schools - attendance rates have increased and ISS has decreased.

Learn & Earn - How do we take existing PD and what more can the laptop do? How do you integrate and not add.

What kind of PD do our teachers need? and how do we start?
Tech Facilitator needs to be a nurturer
Teachers helping teachers

You need to have a firestarter that can act as a mentor. Get your firestarters together to create a core team and start building.

If the teachers are not ready its not ubiquitious - it is just laptops in a classroom.

Will tech PD supplant all other forms of PD?

You have to have some command over your tool to be an innovator - we have to teach the tool first and then teach the ways to use it.

How does this change assessment? What are our short-term and long-term measurements? Attendance? EOGs? Teen birth rates? low teacher turn-over?

I think I am blogged out......

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Greene County Schools

Steve Mazingo - Greene County Schools

Over 5 year program
Stud Achiev. 67% to 78%
Stud Grad rate 26% to 84%
2nd to 18th in teen pregnancy

OK WOW!!!!

We make decisions about school based on when we went to school - but our schools and cultures are different now

Technology as an Accelerant - Book Good to Great

3 Instructional priorities 1) Literacy 2) College counseling 3) Technology

Context - everything you should be in your context. You know your district and what they need, rural or urban, etc. You can take the best practices and see what you need.

Stay focused with Staff Development - and ongoing.

Partner with Lenoir Comm College to offer an AA degree

20th Century Skills - Blooms Taxonomy (Drill and Kill)
looking further
Preparing our students for jobs that don't even exist now - How do we do that?

21st Century Skills
Learning to learn - being adaptable
Technology is no longer an add-on. Not something to be used after your done with work.

PD is essential and they key to every success (they conduct twice a week & do individual sessions) - What would she need? as a veteran teacher?

Smartsheet - directions step-by-step to take back with them. The content is focused on in PD

You must evaluate what you do and have high expectations.

What should 21st Century Graduate look like? Every student has their picture taken in cap and gown and is placed on their computer to see their goal.

Service Learning project through Learn Serve

iChat Reading Conferences
ESL through IM as needed
Instant Advising - chat about issues
Autobiographies as Podcasts
Group projects
Online Courses
Problem Based Learning

Cornell Notes

Getting teachers to be able to say, "I don't know how to do this." and allowing a student to answer.

Staff Development is about modeling. Deliver the PD in the format they will need to deliver it.

Its the Content not the Box.

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Don Berger

Don Berger - Cary Academy
Cary Academy began 11 years ago. English & Foreign language received 1:1 in the classroom first.

Last year went to 1:1 for all subjects. 715 student tablets. Grades 6-12. Essential to outfit students, faculty AND key staff and leadership. Pilot program with toshiba laptop for teachers and switched to tablets for 1:1 based on faculty committee.

Tablets over Laptops
-Screen down mode
-Electronic notes

Tablet does add $150 to plan

Implementation Plan
-Acceptable use

*Classroom management becomes an issue. Students are tempted to use them in ways that you do not want them to. Limit access - block social networking sites. Bandwidth gets eaten up by Youtube.

Daniel Pink A Whole New Mind - the future of our students is in creativity

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards - former Virginia Superintendent - Henric Co. now
Largest single district laptop initiative

Success had to do with teachers and their ATTITUDE.

National Education Technology Plan

Technology can blend the art and science of teaching.
The cost of giving each student a bottle of water a day is what it costs to do 1:1

Malcom Gladwell
- The Tipping Point - if enough of those lights come on - it will become a standard.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

65,000..............6 million
Science finalists

Are you born smart or do you get smart? You get smart!
Requires superintendent commitment, political commitment, grade level/department chair committment

Sept 2007 - 400 laptops
Total development Sept 2009 - 6000 laptops
The educational search engine

Online formative assessments for prescriptive intervention with ontime relative data.

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Pamela Bluffington

Pamela Bluffington - MISTM Education Development Center

Importance of imbedded ongoing PD. No drive by PD.

Engage teachers in teaching and learning that impacted student and learning. Strengthen pedagogical practice in Mathematics. Continue to buil dlearning community

2-year PD intervention
Online & face-to-face
Site visits for staff mentoring

Immersion model in face-to-face. Doing activities as the learner and deconstruct in terms of construction.

Online Learning Environment - tied to graduate crdit

Core beliefs:
Tech integration begins with content goals
-local learning standards
-NCTM principals

Non-judgemental feedback. Formative assessment provided by technology. Goes beyond online worksheet with yes/no response.

Changes how students talk to each other and engage. Provides a level of exposure that students are not comfortable with - probing thinking, no rote answers.

Edthoughts - what we know about teaching and learning mathematics

Used as many online tools as possible. Cross-platform, flexible and open. Not online worksheets. National Library of Online Manipulatives

Multiple representations of content

Enhanced visualization

GeoGebra combining geometry and algebra.

Get immediate feedback along the way.

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Betty Manchester


Betty Manchester Director of MLTI

The worst you can do is see this as an add-on. What are you trying to do? What are your goals? and how does the technology support that work. There has to be a commitment to change. WHat needs to change at the school, district and state level.

Technology folks need to understand that the technology MUST work. They need to be educated in their role of supporting the school.

A learner centered classroom - proff dev is about the students.

Universal Design - enable students to access info in any way

Proff learning communities - engage admin and teachers. There is no magic answer. Everything is contextual.

Culture of risk-taking. We are in new territory. We are still on a journey.

Lateral capacity building by networks. It is critical to stay connected face-to-face. Created one through First Class and Maine The biggest fear was the teachers would not get the PD. Website supported through NEA

Virtual networks - getting info back and forth. What is working and what is not. Video conf - new level of communication.

Leadership team. Paid a stipend for a teacher leader in each school. Tech coordinator ans chool librarian. They know what is going on and how to build capacity in school for PD.

Student teams - need a student voice on the project. Developed videos, etc. help teachers and students and are part of the problem solving team.

Accountability and vertical relationships. Used 21st Cent Assessment practices. "Assessment for Learning" & "The Black Box" Student engaged in the own assessment of their learning.

MSTM project

Deeper levels of learning and inquiry. Inch thick - mile wide curriculum problem. Less is more and deeper is better.

DEPrivatization of classroom. Have teachers step outside classroom and share what they are doing. You have to be looking at student work.

Vygotsky - zone of proximal development. You want the development to be where students are.

If the building prinicpal was not on board - not a techie but sees it as important. Breakage in building is directly related to building principal. And need to expect that every educator is using technology. The principal needs to enforce this. Build teacher goals and action plans. If you let teachers off the hook it looks unimportant.

PD have to be ongoing!

Every school opted back in and the legislature voted it back in.

1:1 Learning Collaborative - Angus King speech


Angus King is always an enigmatic speaker and is discussing the Maine Learning Technology Initiative MLTI.

Currently teaching at Bodgen College.

Its not about technology - its about the teacher and the tools we give them

40,000 students have laptops all day everyday
9,000 educators (middle and high school)

Steve Jobs biggest customer (yay Mac!)
Also payed $600 for iPhone :)

Every single 7th & 8th grader
20 out of 150 high schools
Starting with educators and moving to students

The laptop is the "portkey" - from Harry Potter fame. It takes students

Started with 3 insights and a lunch.
1)What is the future of jobs and economy in 20 or 30 years? What is it going to involve? For sure education and technology.
2) National Governors Meeting - everyone was chacing more jobs, higher pay, etc. all in the same way. How is Maine going to get ahead?
You don't get ahead of the competition by keeping up.
3) Everything was incremental. All innovations were small improvements - nothing a breakthru.

50-70 million surplus in 1999

The lunch - Seymor Pappert from MIT
"It is only when it is 1:1 that the power occurs." 1996

People hated the idea.
"Who will own the laptops?" The kids - the reporters referred to it as "The laptop giveaway." The political response was unbelievable.
The e-mail were 10:1 against - these were people with computers!

They pushed through with the public and legislature - took 1 1/2 years. Pilot was a private textile company that matched funds with a rural school in Guilford. You can not appreciate the power until you see it - see the ENGAGEMENT. When they are engaged you can teach them anything.

This is an economic development project - it is being able to compete. The World is Flat is the most important book written in recent history. We are sitting on the tracks with a freight train coming while we watch American Idol and play slots.

It is all about Innovation - innovation is the process of technology and education coming together

Digital equity - a statewide program. If it comes bit by bit, the places can afford it get it first.

Education is changing fundamentally. When you live through a revolution you don't know it. We are generating a mountain of info and cannot master. Thomas Jefferson was the last person in America to know everything.

Education has to be about how to find the information and how to use it. Not the mastering of information. It is about process and the computer is the key.

Not a technology project - an education project. They get hung up on the device. What can the device do?

What have we learned in Maine?
1) It is all about teachers. If you hand out computers without professional development it is not worth it. PD does not start and stop - it is ONGOING. It is about integration in the classroom. 1:1 projects that have failed without PD. It has to be everyone in the school, principals, superintendents, and tech coordinators. Everyone needs the vision.
2) New pedagogy. Old model - the sage on the stage. New model - guide on the side
3) Use a single vendor. Do a RFP. Have a variety in Pilot schools to see what works. $289/student/year 4 year lease. Includes software, hardware, network, batteries, tech support. You want one throat to choke. Your vendor better be a partner.
4)7th grade was a good place to start
Total school budget 2 billion
Project cost 4/10 of 1 percent of statewide school budget
We spend way more of that on snow blowing

Darwin - The fittest were the organisms most adaptable to change. That is who has survived. If it was the biggest and the strongest the dinosaurs would still be alive.
Gretsky - How do you score so many goals? "It's easy I skate to where the puck is going to be. Everyone else skates to where it is." also "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Significant improvement in writing and math. Part of the problem is we are not testing the right stuff. Giving 1980s test for 21st century skills. Accountability is important, but it cannot run the engine.

1:1 Learning Collaborative

The Friday Inst is hosting a 1:1 Learning Collaborative. Angus King, the former governor of Maine is the keynote speaker. The new director of FI, Glenn Kleiman, who came from Boston, had worked with Maine in their original ubiquitious computing initiative. Jim Goodnight from SAS, Valerie Lee from Golden Leaf and Rep Joe Tolson are giving the opening remarks.

I will be moblogging this morning and will do my best :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Distance Education and 21st Century Skills

I was posed this question for discussion in my 21st Century Skills Class

How could the availability of distance education courses actually be a disadvantage to those with disabilities? In a way, is it possible that we might be working against our goal of preparing some students for the 21st century?

My response was:
The majority of people I know in the "business world" telecommute. My father does, three of my neighbors do, and my husband used to. (approx. 50% of IBM workers telecommute). Distance Ed classes help prepare our students for not only a new kind of social interaction that telecommuting brings, but also the self-motivation and time management strategies it requires. I think the issue is in those that are bridging into this new world of online interaction, I think those already in that world (say the avatars in Second Life) feel very comfortable interacting over the internet. It brings people from areas where they might not of ever met each other if it were not for the internet. Internet dating certainly wouldn't be the booming business that it is. But I'm getting a bit off topic, for Distance Education to truly be effective in bridiging this gap, the courses need to be designed effectively and with this in mind. Traditional classes can not just be placed online and be walked away from. Classes need to be designed specifically with distance ed in mind.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Evaluating Websites

I believe web design has changed significantly since Jakob Nielsen devised his guidelines. The impact of graphics is severely underrated in his opinion and design has moved from a frames based environment to tables, css, and php. As a webmaster myself that is currently undergoing a redesign, it has been interesting to see what "general consumers" of websites value as well as what they take for granted.

Usability: ADA compliance is a big issue in my book. The ability for those with disabilities to be able to get access to the same information as others is imperative, especially in a school based setting. Also, ADA guidelines just ensure good practices, by including alt tags, using headers to designate information, etc.

Navigation: It is key that users can get to the information they need. A hierarchical structure needs to be established that is consistent throughout the site. There should also be an easy way to go backwards, without having to use the back button, etc.

Design: The design needs to not get in the way of the message, but help convey it. Animated gifs, garish clashing colors, frames, all get in the way of getting to the information, they are distracting or cumbersome.

Authority: Using the google model, who links to this site and what sites do they link to. Does the site provide references or links to claims that it makes? Is it ranked in any websites such as digg, technorati, or the buzz? Are author or group credentials provided? When was the last time it was updated?

Of all of the criteria, I believe that having students understand that anyone can put information on a website, and that the fact it exists on the Internet does not mean it is correct or factual. They need to backup claims made on pages and corroborate them with either other methods of evidence, or other authorities on webpages. (On a side note: I would also like to point out that just because something is in a book does not make it authoritative either).

One issue I'd like to get more discussion on. As a general rule you should not have to scroll down a webpage to get information. Do you think that is true anymore?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Asking Permission

From Cool Cat Teacher Blog

We should be discussing privacy concerns in amateur videos. We should learn about and be educated on what is it proper to share and what is not.

I run into this issue all the time as webmaster for my school. Teachers and administrators are constantly wanting to put more pictures up of our students on the site. As much as I love adding graphic elements, I constantly have to remind them of the laws that govern pictures and video. Any pictures or video taken in a private setting (including a classroom), need permission to be published in a public form - like the internet. I am trying to "train" my faculty into getting permission while they are taking pictures. The university helped us create a form for this purpose (which can be viewed at it has worked wonderfully (when it is being used!)

Google and PageRank

Search engines are interesting creatures. How does a database decide what is the ultimate authority on the subject? Google for instance uses PageRank - an equation that takes alot of factors into account. In essence it looks to see what is the page that is most LINKED to on the internet and that basically establishes its importance. It also takes into account how many links link out of the page. A page that exists as just text for instance with no links, would have very low rank, even if a good deal of people linked to it.

In other words, Google finds the most popular pages, not necessarily the pages that have the best or most accurate information.