Thursday, May 27, 2010

Texas School Board Curriculum Survival Kit

#edchat #Texas @russgoerend

I can't help but get emotionally upset by the most recent turn of events in Texas. I am grateful that my children will not be going to school there any time soon. A couple months ago I spliced together this video on the matter and posted it to YouTube but had not taken the time to share it here until now:

Now, it appears there has even been some attempt by members of the Texas School Board to block student access to the very same open source curriculum I refer to in this video. Given the outrageousness of the curriculum they just passed 9 to 5 I am sure they will be successful in this initiative as well.

So, here is my new simple 3 step
Texas School Board Curriculum Survival Kit:


2. Create your own wiki to make corrections and/or replacements to supplement the curriculum missing or misrepresented in the new textbooks (you could even have your students help you do this as a project). I am sure at least one of these tools will make it through the Board's filters:

  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering.
  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering.
  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering. Students under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
  • - Free wiki host that integrates well with other Google products.Students  under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering.Students under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
  • - Free wiki host. Has a drag and drop editor for easy page layout. Supports audio and video captions. Students under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
  • - your online notebook based on wiki
  • - Quick and easy to way to collaborate online with others. YourDraft creates an online document similar to Microsoft Word and gives you a URL of that document. Others you share the URL with can edit the document too without a password.
  • Savable online text document that saves a copy of every edit. Kind of like a one page wiki.Students under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
  • - Simple web publishing tool: copy and paste content then click publish
  • - Free wiki host with a social element that allows users to create their own profile pages. Kind of a blend between PBwiki and Ning!.
  • Couchit - Very simple wiki development tool.
(This could also be done with Zoho or Google Docs)

3. Use Quickmark to make QR Codes or Stickybits to make scanable bar codes that can be placed in the fraudulent textbooks which link to pages of your wiki that contain the information your students should be learning.

[Step 3 is derived from a project idea Russ Goerend (@russgoerend) and I came up with via a discussion on Twitter a few weeks ago.]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Roll Your Own LMS/CMS

I am presenting tomorrow morning at the TIES Key Instructional Contacts meeting. My topic is, "Rolling Your Own LMS/CMS." This was a last minute thing so tonight I am burning the midnight oil trying to put it together. No time to proofread or polish this presentation. But, thought I would share it with you anyway.


FLIP Online
Goodhue Teacher Online Technology Training
WETC-Digital Media
WETC-Web Design
Web 2.0 & Connectivist Learning

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grant Final Report


In lieu of a Weekly Tech Tip this week I am publishing the final report for an NEA Foundation Grant I received last year. I received this grant to fund a year-long exploration of mobile devices in education with 22 teachers from Goodhue Public Schools. The grant money provided each teacher with an iPod Touch. In exchange they agreed to participate in monthly PLC meetings and asynchronous involvement in our iTeach Mobile social network (recently moved to I highly encourage you, if you are a teacher, to apply for an NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grant. The experience has definitely been rewarding. And, if you are interested in exploring the potential mobile devices have in the classroom I invite you to join our social network.

click here to view this document in a new window

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pass it On

I am not usually one for passing on memes but I happen to like this one. Thank you

For those I am awarding below, here are a few rules to follow suggested guidelines if you would also like to pass this meme on:

1. Copy and Display the picture of the award given to you.

2. Link back to the blog that nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 different blogs..

4. Inform the people you have nominated so they can pas on the love.

So, here are my nominations:

  1. SpeEdChange by @irasocol is a blog that always challenges me. Ira's focus on this blog is on social justice issues as they pertain to education, technology, and the history of schools. Always insightful and always challenging. SpeEdChange is a "must subscribe" for anyone interested in equity and social justice, technology, school reform, and the history of education.
  2. Mind Dump by @mcleod is a place where Scott Mcleod dumps random things he comes across online. Dr. Mcleod is better known for his Dangerously Irrelevant blog which is geared toward school administrators and focuses on topics such as school reform, disruptive innovation, technology integration, and school change. However, I am nominating his Mind Dump blog because I believe it deserves more attention and because I have found it, in a very Duchamian way, to point to great content.
  3. Grin and Bear "IT" by @JenHegna is a blog worthy of greater attention. Jen is a technology coordinator in a very progressive school district not far from my house. On her blog she writes about technology and education, technology integration, and online learning. Her blog is a great read for other technology coordinators, teachers, and administrators.
  4. Steve Hargadon by @stevehargadon is a must follow not for Steve's insightful reflective posts or ideas he shares but for the weekly schedule of live events he post there. Steve works for Elluminate and hosts a free interview series, in conjunction with the two well known Ning networks he moderates: Classroom 2.0 and The Future of Education. Each week he presents an impressive lineup of guest presenters who anyone, free of charge, can listen to and ask question in online webinars. Steve and Elluminate give to us for free online on a daily basis what many of us would pay big bucks to see and hear at a conference. He also archives all of his sessions which can be found here on his Delicious account.
  5. Teaching as a dynamic activity by @jerridkruse is a blog I have only recently started to read but is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Jerrid is a teacher in Sioux City, IA (not far from where I grew up) who uses his blog to reflect on the nature of teaching and learning.
  6. Synthesizing Education by @aaron_eyler is another education blog I have only begun reading this past year. Aaron always asks provocative questions and is masterful at generating discussion on his blog. While I don't always agree with his views on topics I respect his opinion. I like people who are not afraid to poke the wasp nest and stir things up.
  7. Think Thank Thunk by Shawn Cor­nally is one of the best math teacher blogs I have every encountered. Shawn teaches Calculus, Physics, and Programming and while his blog is largely curricular in nature it really about good teaching and learning.
  8. Bud the Teacher by @budtheteacher is, in a my opinion a bird of a feather to the Techno Constructivist Blog. Bud is a strong advocate of minimum restrictions and his post last fall, Would You Please Block, has been very influential in helping to shape district filtering policies in many of the schools I work with.
  9. Constructing Meaning by @akamrt is a fantastic reflective blog about education, learning theory, technology, school reform, etc. I wish I had Greg's gift with words. I find my self reading his blog and thinking, "Why couldn't I say it like that."
  10. Makeuseof is my final nominee. Makeuseof is not exactly an education blog but I find it absolutely essential. Most of the tools that eventually find their way into my Digital Backpack come from reading this blog. They also have fantastic "how to" posts everyday on tech topics ranging from novice to intermediate.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Science Fact or Science Fiction

This morning I introduced my Web Design students at Goodhue HS to the idea of Web 3.0 and the Semantic web. I presented the idea as a nebulus concept that no one can currently agree on what it is, much less what it looks like. I showed them this documentary to both give them a sense of what it might be as well as demonstrate the degree to which really smart people can't currently agree on what it is exactly:

Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

I then asked them to contrast that with the predictions/vision of Ray Kurzweil regarding the singularity he believes will happen by 2045:

Of course, most of my students said that Mr. Kurzweil was off his rocker if he thinks technology will soon exist that will allow him to live forever or that within their lifetimes they will voluntarily merge their biological bodies with technology. However, as skeptical as I am about many of Kurzweil's predictions he has been extremely correct in his predictions of things that have now come to pass. It also makes me think about technologies we currently have that would have been unimaginable just 10 or 20 years ago including things like GPS, live streaming from mobile phones, free international video conferencing (ex. Skype), Wikipedia, YouTube, etc.

Or, were these things imagined? I think they were. In fact imagination has power that I think we underestimate. I contend that everything that exists as a product of human creation is the result of imagination. To imagine something is to will it into existence. Once birth has been given to concept it is just a matter of time before concept becomes reality.

video platform
video management
video solutions
video player

Ok, so where is the proof of this? Why old science fiction films of course. Lets take a look at a few examples:

1. 2001 A Space Odyssey & the iPad

2. Star Trek Communicator - No need to link to modern equivalent here. Actually this is a case where our contemporary equivalent is far superior to what was imagined back then.

3. Invisibility Cloak

I could go on and on of modern technologies that first made their appearance as figments of SciFi imagination. In fact, I believe one reason SciFi is such a strong predictor of future technological advancement is its power as a self fulfilling prophecy. When I was young I was a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan (still am) as were countless other young people. Those young people are now scientists, inventors, researchers, engineers, and teachers and I know most of us secretly have that ultimate goal in mind to actually develop that one cool device they saw at the movies as a kid and wished desperately they had. I am convinced that by the end of my lifetime we will have holodecks, hyper-speed space travel, ability to manipulate time, the ability to regenerate lost limbs, and be able to slice open Taun Tauns with a beam of highly concentrated light.

Of course, there is a dark side to this theory of imagination=reality. While we can imagine things that are good we also have an incredible ability to imagine things that are horrible:

So, "imagine=will exist" must also apply to these technologies too.

What other modern technologies can you think of that once were just science fiction? What scifi technologies would you like to one day see become a reality?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekly Tech Tips - The Elephant in the Room: Learning Theories & Technology Integration

Weekly Tech Tip:

The Elephant in the Room: Learning Theories & Technology Integration

Related links:
Link Stew
Blog Carnival:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Does knowing how to read and write make you literate?

I offer a course at Hamline University titled, "Digital Fluency," where we explore the question: Does knowing how to read and write make you literate? This Saturday I will be speaking to a group of graduate students taking a class on literacy. This is a short presentation I put together to share with them. IDK, it may change b4 then. After all, #information today is not static. Mostly, I will be just be asking a lot of questions.