Saturday, August 4, 2007

Hello Friends and Colleagues, 2007-8!

This may be the final post in this blog, but I want to be sure that anyone viewing it realizes that the "meat of the matter" is available by clicking on the wiki (see sidebar) title and exploring the wiki. This blog is mostly my own ruminations as we moved through our week together; and while I hope you can take some time to read that, if your time is limited (which is why we did this week-long workshop in the first place!) the wiki's the place to be...Enjoy!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Song's Complete!

Our Googledocs collaboration, a song to the tune of "Norwegian Wood" is now complete. I'll be recording this over the next week and will put up an .mp3 here for your listening enjoyment (or otherwise :). Check out the lyrics! Check out the recorded version (apologies to Lennon and McCartney)!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 5--We Done It!

Wow, the last hour and a half of this week was enlightening for me, not to mention completely gratifying. See the wiki's "Report-Out" pages for a hint of it, but the informal sharing of reflection from the week was just the right thing. Yes, I have video: No, it's not ready to share yet.

The morning work with Gcast, Google Documents, and VoiceThread was fascinating and fun. I'm so glad that we didn't get into VoiceThread until the last day, because Joel and Sarah might not have gotten anything else done!

Right around 10 'til 2 we closed by (re)viewing"The Machine is Us," (YouTube link--won't work in school; view from home) the fabulous video by Mike Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist at the University of Kansas. My own closing comment: "I guess that says pretty much all we need to say."

It is my hope that the work begun here will "seed" interest amongst these fine folks's colleagues. It's really not that hard to look at some of these wonderful tools and see how they can facilitate collaboration and actually reduce the drag of the giant "T," Time, on our lives and our professional work.

Thank you, Vince Durnan, for encouraging me to make this happen.

Thank you , Steve Robins, Jeff Greenfield, and Susan Touchstone, USN division heads, for allowing me to solicit participation and for committing professional development funds for the week of work. I think we're onto something.

Thank you, David Warlick, Steve Hargadon, Peggy Sheehy, and Jeremy Koester for sharing your time with us. We know you're busy and we greatly appreciate your talking with us over Skype.

Thank you Wiz, Kathy Weiczerza, for the week-long assist. I always value your "read" on whatever technology I'm exploring and sharing. You help me identify the possible within the potential.

Finally, thank you to family members who released us from other commitments to be together for this week. I know that it's never the best time to let our needed loved ones go off to explore and to have fun: It really was hard work, too...

Move on in peace and collaboration.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 4--Heavy Sigh! Steve Hargadon and More...

We started out this a.m. talking about social networks, viewing a couple of thought-provoking videos and talking about MySpace and Facebook. Then we moved over to look at another kind of social network. No, let's use the new terminology: "Professional Network." Steve Hargadon's Classroom 2.0 at is an amazing piece of work, and a resource for anyone interested in exploring the use of the new internet tools in the service of teaching and learning. We talked about setting up new "nings" for all kinds of purposes, up to and including classes! We connected with Steve via Skype at around 10:00 (8 a.m. for Steve in Granite Bay, California) and we talked for an hour about the motivation for setting up this site, about his background (unique and thought-provoking) and about some other technologies (Joel: "What is your favorite Web 2.0 tool used in a classroom and how was it used?") and the ramifications of all of this for the future of education.

My HotRecorder program, a third party program for recording Skype calls, seems to have failed me, but I ran my Dell Axim recording off to the side. Unfortunately, I seem to have accidentally deleted that as well, relegating the experience to the realm of the ethereal. Good, I say, and I challenge the workshop folks to stop and review that amazing chat before time has a chance to erode its memory...

After lunch we chatted with my friend Jeremy Koester, an 8th grade math teacher in San Antonio, Texas and a champion for the use of games and gaming in education. He is the force behind the Google Group "Gaming and Learning in Second Life," and he had some stimulating things to say about the process of building online community around any concept.

Check back, and don't forget to check the growing wiki (see the sidebar to the right) for a more hyperlinked post here later: I'm hurrying to get this report up...

Cheers from Music City, USA!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 3--Second Life and Much More

Best laid plans, ya'll.

Began the day working toward a planned connection with "Gaming and Learning in Second Life" Google Groups manager Jeremy Koester in San Antonio. Jeremy had planned to meet us online and "inworld" at 9:00 am, but briefly after that I received a cellphone call that there were significant flooding issues in San Antonio and his Internet Service Provider, Time-Warner, was "not even answering the telephone." We dropped back into a demonstration at the LCD projector of certain facets of the MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment), the educational ones, or at least some of them, and then we talked a bit about Social Networks. I ventured a commentary about how "social networking" is tainted terminology--not my original thought but one voiced by blogger Vicki Davis (coolcatteacher blog) at a recent conference in Atlanta--and that we should be using the terms "student networking" and "professional networking" instead, even though it's all the same sort of thing.

Maura yesterday voiced a remarkable comment about how her two grown sons won't use the telephone to communicate with her--they text chat via cell phone regularly--and how that used to really frustrate her, until she realized that it wasn't them withdrawing from communication; it was how they chose to communicate, normal for them, their "language." Once she relaxed into that, creating templates for "I love you" and "Are you okay?" and the like, realizing that text chat isn't the only way her sons communicate, just one way, it became a very acceptable to way to hear from them, perhaps much more often than she might otherwise. I find that scenario applicable to many other 2.0 developments--it's not all they do, just one tool they use to keep in touch, be it MySpace, Facebook, or text chat.

Our "expert" today was to be Peggy Sheehy, a pioneer in the Second Life Teen Grid, and I finally got in touch with her at lunchtime. I recorded part of our chat with the FlipVideo, filming my laptop, and I'll put that up on the wiki, but in short she was in her final day of her own workshop with 20 teachers, "from brand new teachers to those of nearly retirement age" and since her school was undergoing asbestos removal her Interactive Videoconferencing unit was down. We decided to meet in Second Life, at the ISTE Island. What had been a GE (Good Enough) connection over Skype during lunchtime deteriorated into unintelligible broken audio and the pandemonium that resulted from having 30 or so avatars in Second Life became VERY frustrating for everyone, until we all drifted offline and back into our respective workshops.

All that said, it was still a great day, as my call to my participants to multi-task resulted in significant gains for everyone. See the wiki for new links, new videos, new wikis, new blogs, and new "report out" pages...


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Day 2--Lots of Work in Several Topics and Second Life

We started off discussing RSS, with a great assist from Joel (check back later for video!), who shared his enthusiasm for his new RSS aggregator of choice, Netvibes, then moved on to Google Alerts for email notifications keyed to topics. We went to FlipVideo pretty quickly, discussing the amazing little device and its uses in the classroom, from showing students their presentations or performances immediately after their work (via a television connected directly to the device) to uploading simply via the usb connected to the device (using the software installed on the device, not your computer) and editing quickly with the software's built-in editing software) and then doing further editing using the free Windows Movie Maker software. The movies in this previous post (click the pic above to view this movie clip) was done with that software between 7:45 and 8:40 or so this very morning, taken with a FlipVideo aimed at my laptop screen for much of the time and slapped together with explanatory slides in Movie Maker.

Our participants had a great deal of reflective time today, reflected (sorry for the pun) in the wiki. We are quickly populating the wiki with information that will be useful for teachers everywhere. While the teachers worked this morning I chatted with my San Antonian friend Jeremy Koester about Second Life (and First Life:) over Skype, ran a test call for my friend Elaine Shuck in South Dakota, played a portion of Ian Jukes's NECC 2007 presentation podcast and a portion of Maureen Yoder's presentation at the same conference, and answered questions from clearly fired-up, enthusiastic new Web 2.0 users. Check back here for more--I'm already wishing we had two weeks instead of just one! Maybe next year we do one week at the beginning of the summer and another at the end: That would be an interesting exercise.

After lunch we dove (dived?) headfirst into blogs and blogging. We looked at my own stable of blogs, and I shared that my own first blog was created during my trip to Japan in 2002. Since then, Blogger has evolved. As recently as just a few weeks ago, improvements enabling the addition of widgets to the navigation bar have made the experience of creating and maintaining a blog even more intuitive. A big difference between the first iteration of the Internet and Web 2.0 is that in order to create a webpage one used to have to have at least a working knowledge of html coding: Now, it's as easy as reading the computer screen and typing and clicking.

The introduction of Second Life to the assembled teachers went south pretty fast. A few amongst us were just plain confused by the whole notion of a MUVE. The driving question we will pursue, formulated by this first experience with avatars and virtual spaces, will be "What's the point?" We closed the day by viewing Josh Levy's "machinima" series of videos "Social Change in Second Life." Hopefully that may set the tone for our visit with my Second Life educator friend Jeremy Koester early tomorrow morning. Jeremy's the creator of the Second Life Google Group, "Gaming and Learning in Second Life," and he's working hard to develop the group toward benefitting teaching and learning. Let's see how, tomorrow. After Jeremy's visit, we'll be exploring professional (and avocational) discussion groups, along with an in-depth look at the "Discussion" feature of wikis. Then we'll choose from several alternative focii for the afternoon. I'm suggesting Skype, My Space, and a more thorough look at templates and widgets for blogs. We'll have the learner's needs driving that bus in the afternoon, now that they are becoming more defined.

View the wiki by clicking on its name in the navbar to the right. It's groooooooooowing!

I encourage you to comment on this blog if you find any of it useful, enlightening, or encouraging for your own work!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 1--Successful Entry into the 2.0osphere

Wow, tired but happy, I want to recap some of today's progress. For more information, check the Report-Out pages in the wiki (see sidebar!).

First and foremost, I want to thank my friend David Warlick for braving Skype video to come into the Middle School computer lab at USN to spend an hour presenting a stellar (if limited by time, and so truncated) version of his very well thought-out presentation on Web 2.0 and Literacy. See his post with all the details, including links to the PowerPoint and the "Twitteresque" chatroom record as well as many other Web 2.0 resource links. This man is the real deal, ya'll; and if you don't know that, just visit David's blog and his podcast, both linked from the URL just shared. Click the pic above to view a brief video.

That was at the end of our day. The day started with the PowerPoint I put together, outlining some basic concepts and history, some tools and some definitions, and ending with a good long foray into our wiki. Gratifyingly, exactly what I thought would happen began to happen: Teachers and administrators got excited, added links to the wiki, created their own Report-Out pages, started populating those, and began multi-tasking much like the digital natives it is increasingly their duty to educate. I'm going to delete my own Report-Out page, deferring to those of the hard-working attendees, and consider this blog my effort to keep up with the dizzying pace we are beginning to set. We haven't set our stride, yet, ya'll, but I'd wager we will by the end of the day tomorrow, when we'll begin with blogs (setting up our own, fiddling with settings, commenting on others') and continue explorations. During the day, I'll be sharing podcasts and some action in Second Life, the MUVE leading platform of the moment.