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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

A beautiful morning here in the Merrick household. Lots of presents, lots of love, lots of funny Christmas memories.

Fave gift? Don't know whether it was the humidor with a selection of 'gars, the new Samsung phone, or the Leatherman set, wow...

However, I have to say that my new ability to read the time on my wrist in binary has to be right up there!

I'm uploading a pic from my new cellphone as we speak :)


Monday, December 24, 2007

My RSS Feeds on Education are Achieving Consensus!

Interesting, or at least it is to me...

I use Netvibes to aggregate my RSS feeds. It's a cool tool that I would love to share with you, so here it goes on my list of "to be created" instructional videos. More on that later.

Meanwhile, I have been struck this week with how posts from so many of the education-related bloggers I follow (or "arse"=RSS, according to one particular German-British friend of mine) via my Netvibes interface are reflecting rather dramatically on how they are personally striving to re-examine the relevance of their own teaching practices, toward incorporating social networking, Web 2.0, and as-yet-unimagined new technology tools rekindle the relevance of education.

Vicki Davis, "coolcatteacher" blogger, starts with a poem, and cross-posts at the TechLearning bloggers' outlet. She argues that blogging is not the "death of writing," as many old garde have argued, but its evolution, and continues, warning about changes to come, that " we move forward to a society that can send and receive education any place any time from anyone, the best teachers will become SuperTeachers and the worst schools, districts, and teachers may find themselves completely without a job."

Sandy Wagner, "Ed Tech Administrator" blogger and head of a 5000 student school district in western NY, describes a student panel whose work resulted in his realization that "our students had anywhere from 60 to 600 contacts on their 'friends' lists. They are spending upwards of two hours a day communicating using these tools. More importantly, students said they would like to be able to contact teachers using these tools."

Jeff Whipple, prolific commentator at his "Whip Blog, musings about technology and education," points out challenges by writing, "Certainly the ability to build a global learning / work network will be a valuable tool in the next few years. My concern lies in the methods students used to generate traffic. Global citizenship will require not just connectedness, but value to that connectedness. Students soon found that more traffic can be generated by questionable content that content of redeeming social value. What do they learn from this? Where do we start the discussions of digital citizenship when the biggest library is but a click away from the world’s largest arcade, the world’s largest “TV/movie/music” store and the world’s largest porn shop?" I discovered Whipple's post, which you can read here (and should, since it talks about one educator's use of social networking to measure their grade by traffic on their websites) via David Warlick's commentary on it at David's 2Cents Worth blog.

It's all interconnected, ya'll. It's all common sense. It's not just some "kool-aid" radical trend. It's the way things are going. As Vicki opines, we are the teachers, we are in the best positions to help our students cope with what Ian Jukes calls "information overload." Let's all go out of the locker room, onto the playing field, and make a difference--one infused with kindness and love of learning...

Happy Holidays to you all, and to all a good day...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Teaching College Math Technology Blog: A Clever Video about Fair Use

Maria Anderson, math teacher extraordinaire, posted this today. I'm viewing it as I type. This is fantastic! Enjoy!!!

Teaching College Math Technology Blog: A Clever Video about Fair Use

Don't Let Go

Recorded in the hours wee, December 23, 2007. Music, guitar, lyrics, pretty much everything by Scott Merrick. Click the lyrics for a readable-sized one...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

YouTube After Dinner

Okay. I don't know if anyone else's family is going through this, or if we are as unique as we'd like to believe we are. But again (perhaps for the third time in a month or two), after dinner, my senior-in-HS daughter invited us to the family computer to share a video, which turned into two sharings, punctuated by my middle school son's insistance to watch the "remix" of one fo them, which turned out to be hiLARious. Here are the links:

Charlie Bit My Finger--Again!
Little Kid Trying to Say "Blood"

and the "Blood" remix

Times have changed: We didn't even turn ON the tv tonite...

YouTube reports views in the millions for one of these and near that for the others. Clearly, times have changed...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone

From Merrick Central in Nashville, Tennessee, I want to wish everyone on the face of the planet a Merry Christmas and a Happy (you fill in the blank). There's a lot of talk about "Killing Christmas" in the media this year, the phenomenon of "politically correctnessing" the holiday by tailoring one's greetings to embrace any possible faith or belief. Coming from a background of very uncommitted Methodism--we only made it to the occasional Christmas Eve service and always to "Sunrise Services" on Easter Mornings, I suspect because those latter were held outside in Centennial Park--I have mixed feelings about this. I do tend to agree with my friend Walter Jowers' words in a recent "Helter Shelter" column for the Nashville Scene:

You people who want retail clerks to holy up Christmas for you, listen to me. They’re clerks. They don’t make the rules. They’re just doing what the corporate weasels upstream tell them to do. It’s just like the greeters at PoFolks restaurants hollering, “Howdy! Welcome to PoFolks!” They’re just trying to move some merchandise while pissing off the minimum number of customers. Nobody’s going to kill Christmas.

--Jowers, Walter Sprucing Up the Holidays. (2007, December 6). Nashville Scene

All that said, by the time the winter holidays come rolling around every year, the Nashville Merricks are ready to party. We attend Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, joining a rich community of diverse folks in an annual Christmas Pageant that is as down-to-earth and full of cheer and reverence as any event I can imagine. This year, the pageant organizers asked Miranda to sing "O Holy Night" and she did so with characteristic beauty and style, bringing joyful tears to many of us, myself included. I videoed her sound check with a Flip Video cam, not the best audio but enough to enjoy a tear or two for yourself if you're of a mind. Note the random guitar tuning at the start. Here it is, ripped from the video file and unedited, accompanied by Geoffrey Butcher, a glowing human being in his own right.

Miranda's college audition CD, three songs recorded in songwriter and friend Kent Agee's home studio in about an hour and a half a couple weeks ago, went out to the two higher education institutions of her choice last week. She sang, from memory, an Italian piece, a German piece, and "Butterflies and Moths," a piece by British contemporary composer Andrew Carter. I won't share these recordings here because of copyright restrictions, but suffice it to say that they are masterfully performed. Dear friend and Miranda's childhood mentor Margie Proctor accompanied her (on very short notice!) and I will cherish the record of Miranda's youthful and evermore beautiful voice always. When she's onstage singing with Josh Groban, I will remember when...

The rest of us are doing fine, and to keep this from sounding like one of those annual "What's up with the Merricks?" epistles, I'm stopping now. It's the last week of school and there's work to do. Friday at noon, I'm off for two weeks hanging with my family. I hope you're as lucky in your own way. Cheers, Peace, and Love,


P.S.: Moose Nuggets for Christmas and The Elf Who's King of Country :)-- smile and hold close those you love...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Just One More Book!

Podcast shareshare time! My University School of Nashville colleague Karen Knox, also known as Comma Momma (and coincidentally the English teacher of my 6th grader son) just published an article in Borderlines, The quarterly newsletter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, reviewing a wonderful website/podcast called Just One More Book!

Whether you're a teacher of young'uns, a momma or a poppa or any other flavor of caregiver, or even if you're just a grown-up lover of illustrated books, this project, as Karen says, "is impressive in its scope. It covers the world of children's read-aloud books with an array of authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, and others involved in children's literature."* I just listened to episode number 281 of "Just One More Book" and I highly recommend it to you. The hosts are knowledgeable, clever, and literate, and it's a shortie (~8 minutes).

Podcasts are a way to learn on the go, ya'll. If you have a long commute (or even just a short one), you owe it to yourself to treat yourself to this free, rich learning tool. Someone at a teacher's conference once made the remark that there are so many of them that "if you want to learn about cigar-smoking nuns in Wisconsin," all you have to do is seek out that podcast. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is true that there are at least tens of thousands of podcasts available for free download, and most of them are free.

I have a linkset at that offers ways to learn about podcasts and extensive resources for learning how to do one yourself. Go learn!

*Knox, Karen. ""Just One More Book"." Borderlines, The quarterly newsletter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 64(2007): 1-2.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All Day CS3 Workshop

I'm sitting in what is by all early indications a marvelous Adobe CS3 workshop. All day...Mike and Liz from Compumaster will guide two tracks through 5 sessions roughly broken out into print design and web design courses. I'll focus on Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Photoshop and Illustrator. There's a team of 5 of us here from USN, well neigh the whole tech team (we left David at school to handle the flashfires that breakout every day). We're bifurcating to catch everything and I need now to shutup and start listening and working! Cheerio!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Agony and Ecstasy

So, the agony is in all the shortfalls one has regarding actual instruction and affect. The ecstasy is the good stuff (though the agony has its place in that queue). I'm doing a day long workshop tomorrow on aspects of Adobe CS3, an opportunity located by my Technology Director and supported by my school administration, and I'm reeeeeallly excited to be going. We just purchased Adobe CS3 and I want to know how to lead my teachers to places where they'll use it.

Today (the Ecstasy) I facilitated a fabulous interactive videoconference offered by the Vanderbilt Virtual School, a program about classical music featuring a chamber orchestra called Alias. Wonderful. Marvelous. Underappreciated and underutilized by the tens of thousands of classrooms across the nation that might have benefited from the chance to ask questions of professional classical musicians: The agony.

This week, my kids are all creating holiday cards for homeless folks and retirement village residents who may otherwise not receive anything loving or celebratory from friends or relatives, since--guess what--there are a lot of our fellow humans in the world who have neither. This will be facilitated by technology (.jpg files created in Powerpoint and the freeware Drawing for Children program) and by the local radio station Mix 92.9. I only hope they will utilize our kids' work even though some of it may not fit their "Christmas" mold. Our kids, in our eclectic, diverse, odd, inclusive, wonderful, one-of-a-kind independent school, will be creating "Holiday" cards. Sure, many will be Christmas cards, but we will provide Kwanzaa, Diwali, Hanukkah, and other cards as well. By the end of the week we'll have over 300 of them that I'll print and deliver to the station. Wish us luck. In the long run, of course, it's all about the process, now, isn't it?

Today I also witnessed and archived some fabulous presentations from the freshman class at the School for Math and Science at Vanderbilt, using, and I hope that those experiences will inform my presentations in San Antonio come summer, at NECC2008. Wish me luck.

Peace to you and yours as we barrel into the holiday season. Remember balance, and strive, ever, for that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The "Big Conversation"

I thunk anyone interested in what I thunk might be interested in this, the first draft for an Enrichment Team newsletter I drafted tonight. I rewrote it for submission (interesting term) to my administration, then more or less completely rewrote it before I sent it off. But this forum is larger and I have faith it can absorb the first draft. Interestingly enough, or not, the print newsletter-posted article may lead people here. Ah what a tangled internet we weave! Here goes...

The "Big Discussion"
by Scott Merrick, Lower School Technology Coordinator

Those parents who may not be aware of the USN Lower School Technology for Learning webpage might add this resource to your set of tools to keep in touch with what’s going on with your child’s education: I have a serious interest in keeping up with the "Big Conversation" about what is needed to prepare our children for the world they will inherit from us. My developing knowledge about this conversation informs what is brought to the curriculum in our computer lab. It’s kind of a loop, actually, assuming one can stand back and look at it that way. Much of the larger conversation I keep track of and participate in through my main personal/professional blog at Here’s a picture of the "Clustrmap" that notes the global locations of people who have read that blog since just since April 2007:

In an era when lots of energy in the public schools seems to be going into, as Jeff Uctech notes, preparing our children to be experts in filling in circles with number two pencils, I believe we teachers need to be skating on the outskirts of perception and collaboration. Uchtech elaborates, "Standardized tests don’t allow a teacher to walk on the side of chaos in fear that what they might teach, what may be a different way of learning, will not be acceptable when filling in circles."

Our children’s lives when they are adults will be far different from ours, of that there is no doubt. Assuming that we are, as we like to think we are doing, educating the future leaders of our society, the future architects of our culture, I believe we owe it to them (and to those they will lead and for whom they will design) to expose them to the amazing colaborative tools that are being developed at such a rapid pace that no one can really keep up with all of them. They really need to "learn how to learn," because we do not know the facts they’ll need. We can’t.

That’s why what Chris Dede (along with others) calls "distributed knowledge" may be the key concept our students will need to grasp and embrace if they are to lead in a future we cannot even imagine. Long ago, to paraphrase David Warlick, our great-grandparents needed to memorize everything in order to access it, or to have it on the shelf in their library. If it was not in a book they had read and had purchased, information really wasn’t of much use. An expert on any topic might be three days’ communication time away from them. Today, because of email and Web 2.0 (anyone else using an expert’s response may be only seconds away. You no longer need to "know" all the facts: You do need to know how to 1) find the facts, 2) discriminate between valuable, authoritative, and valid facts and those that are insubstantial or unreliable, and 3) be able to assimilate valid information into a useful format for whatever task you need it for.

Seems simple. It’s not. Many educators are just starting to sort it out. In the course of that, many of us are teaching on a day-to-day basis and trying to make sure that we’re doing the best we can. Be patient with us. Support us. And trust that we care and that we will proceed with both caution and informed instincts.

U.S. Students Below Average in Science and Math

From THE Journal*, a favorite source for current trends, a report that I'll add to my resource bank for an upcoming presentation in San Antonio about university outreach to K12 schools. Go read the article, and what's up with Canadian science education that places it in the top 5? Mind you, results are based on one of my favorite whipping-boys, standardized testing. But still...

And in math...

See the line at 500? That's the international median line. Clearly, something's wrong with the long-running argument that the poor performance of our students in science and math is "urban myth."
We clearly need some work here. My sense is that there are a passle of well-meaning educators out there working as hard as they can with out-dated tools and restrictions to teach kids content and skills, but if they were to be set free to innovate and energize the imaginations of their students, engage them, draw them into the larger context, "performance" would follow. What we need is teachers who are knowledgeable in both the current collaborative learning technologies and in ways to make sure that new ones don't fly under their professional radars. Wheels turning again...
*Nagel, Dave. "U.S. Students Below Average in Science and Math." THE Journal December 200712 December 2007 1,2. 12 December 2007 .

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Google Apps for Your Domain

My son, a 6th grade student at a progressive independent school at which I happen to teach, cratered tonight about the fact that he hasn't been allowed access (by his team members) to what should be a group-collaborated Powerpoint for a Social Studies project, and he's worried about his grade for participation--the assignment is due Friday. Early on, I suggested the three 11 year-olds use Google Presentation for the task, but the teacher said no.

There are so many things wrong with the above sentence, I won't even begin to rant: I've already ranted once today. But consider this, Google Apps for Your Domain in Education, capably and appropriately blogged by good ol' Chris at the infinitethinkingmachine. I want to say, "WTF," but the "W" is not "What" but, more to the point, "Why?"

This post is also a bit of an experiment. Check my Clustrmap in the right-hand column. There seems to be a lot of verified interest in this blog. Are my colleagues reading it? If you're a colleague of mine, please comment here. Hmmmmmm... If you're a teacher who cares about the future of our children and whether or not they'll be ready for it, please comment here. If you're a parent who is wondering about my sanity, please comment here.

I'll take a "Yo." More, if you have the time...

What Teachers Need (According to David)

Sitting in an outpatient surgery clinic waiting room awaiting my love to come out of her anaesthetic swooze after some fairly minor surgery, I'm online with the practice's lobby-only wi-fi connection. How civilized!

Catching up on my Netvibes I popped into David Warlick's 2cents worth blog to note his reflections about recent conversations at the myriad conferences that make up his professional life. His bulleted shortlist of the things he repeatedly tells teachers and administrators that teachers need in order for our educational institutions to pull their virtual heads out of their virtual back rooms (hey, pretty nicely paraphrased!) deserves a reprint here, so here it goes--

"I tell them that teachers need:

  • Time to plan, collaborate, research, assess and adapt, build, and innovate (I tell them 3 to 4 hours a day — everyday).

  • Classrooms that are equipped for learning in an abundant information environment, rather than an information-scarce environment (This means wifi, a laptop in every teacher and learner’s hand, one or more projectors in each classroom, and access to the emerging technologies that channel contemporary literacy).

  • Permission to safely innovate and facility to engage in professional conversations about the changes needed for relevant education."

So, taking these items one at a time, how do we provide teachers with these necessaries? Well, I know for a fact that the most innovative teachers I know either get up early or stay up late in order to plan, collaborate, etc., and what--is that just a requirement of the profession? Remember we're talking about a profession universally undercompensated and often disrespected ("those who can't, teach") and currently manacled by massive government oversight and bureaucratic control. I simply don't think anything short of revolution will accomplish the meeting of mindsets from the myriad groups of human beings who have legitimate claim to a stake in the outcomes. Fly up the Freak Flag!

Secondly, where are the funds and the programmatic consensus to allot those funds going to come from? It may well be that a Democratic White House is a hope for steps toward this Warlickian Requirement (I am not a Democrat, by the way, nor a Republican), but who might doubt that most of the first years of any such administration will be spent working to undo the damage 8 years of Republican war-mongering has already (not to mention the further damage that might occur over the next 411 days, 10 hours--see the Bush Timer website to see how many are left when you are reading this)?

Lastly--and knowing David I'm certain this isn't really a completed list: he'll come up with more in future musings--who's going to grant those permissions in the current atmosphere of "accountability" measured by standardized test scores aligned to an agrarian educational system tied (even in some of the best private schools) to "sage on the stage" teaching methods?

I sigh. There's my rant. I don't often do that (I'm well aware that I'm criticizing without offering solutions) but David's reflections needled me into it. It's his fault: Go read the post that started all this. Cheerio...

Image Citation:TWM, “Clocks Go Back.” Twm™’s Photostream. 29 Oct 2006. 4 Dec 2007 via David Warlick's 2CentsWorth blog,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Goodbeershow Number 137!

I'm laughing out loud. I was just chatting with a friend online and popped into the Goodbeershow website to check out the most recent episode so I could share the link with him; and there I was, staring out at myself from what Jeffrey T. calls "one of those one handed MySpace shots" at the tasting room of Yazoo Brewery, where...well, you can read all about it and listen yourself: Episode number 137 of the award-winning Goodbeershow podcast!

WARNING, NOT CHILD OR WORKPLACE SAFE! (due to some more or less grown-up humor).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Links for AIU Advisory Board Meeting

I'm meeting some online colleagues today (the Masters program advisory board at American Intercontinental University) via a semi-annual conference call, and I'd like to share some links to illustrate some of the discussion on the 3Di. As of now the links are scattered all over my blogs and networks, so here they are for quick reference:

SLedupotential--NECC collaboratively-contrived (by 9 educators in 9 different states)workshop proposal wiki:

SLeducation ning--recently launched socio-professional network at for stockpiling educationally relevant Second Life videos:

"Virtual or Virtually U: Educational Institutions in Second Life" Paper in the International Journal of Social Sciences, by Nancy Jennings and Chris Collins:

Kevin Jarret's Voicethread for K12onlineconference 2007:

and finally, (or not:), a presentation by Meredith Wesolowski (Meredith Snookums, SL) -- Introduction to Second Life for K12 Educators":

Twitter and What's Going On?

Logged into my iGoogle this morning, after sitting down with the espresso I set up last night. Yesterday I'd added two Twitter widgets to my iGoogle, one to read and one to post, hoping to twit a little more productively by reducing the number of clicks it takes to perform those two tasks. Top of the read window? David Warlick, and I'll quote here: dwarlick: Just read Will's post ( I'm not sure we are even capable of answering his rhetorical questions! .

So I did "just read," and I suggest you do too.

That took me to another browser start page tab, my Netvibes, to its own "Education" tab (my netvibes tabs are, in order, left-to-right, "General, Education, Second Life, Music, News, and Technology"), where I clicked on David's most recent rss-fed entry, "Sometimes Size Doesn't Matter,", where he posts a few interesting rhetorical questions of his own.

Just thought I'd start out your day or evening with some impossible though thought-provoking questions. My apologies in advance. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's all 1s and 0s

Heheheee. I don't even recall what freeware program I used to create this picture, quite a while ago, but I discovered it yesterday when snooping around on my backup hard drive. I thought I'd share. Click to see it full-sized :)

Maybe I should be using this as a profile pic...

Into four weeks of teaching before Winter break. I'm hoping to make it my best four weeks ever.

More later,

Friday, November 23, 2007

NYSACTE Video from Brian C. Smith

Here's a video from Darren Draper, a colleague of Brian C. Smith, who posted it at the NYSACTE site. The piece compiles a whole lot of current thought about education into an enjoyable, thought provoking set of comments and questions. It's resident on Brian's NYSACTE (New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) conference ning. See what I mean:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Free Choices Thanksgiving Break Week!

The bar graph above illustrates (in order of their appearance in the lab) self-reported free choices exercised by my students in the Lower School Technology for Learning Lab this morning. It's the one day of classes this week, and as such I'm offering the full class session for free choice, as long as each time a student makes a selection it's noted on the board.

The graph was created in Google Documents, which we'll be using soon in the upper grades!

Everyone have a safe and fun and thankful break!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Video from Common Sense Media and the Macarthur Foundation

Just got this from friend Kevin Jarret in one of my listserv group emails. This video, archived from an intense panel discussion hosted by Common Sense Media and others, is long, but if you have an hour and 15 minutes or so to listen (the video is mainly panel discussion and audience, but you'll want to pull back to your computer and watch the examples of student work--WOW), I highly suggest you do so.

Included in the panel is USN alumna Stacey Goodstein, who spoke to our parents and faculty in an appearance on campus just last month. I'm hoping to include some audio from that talk in an upcoming Snacks4theBrain!

Here's the video:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Second Life Cross-post

Check out my Second Life blog for news of an important event Wednesday night "inworld." Educators who aren't aware of the surging interest in SL as a pedagogical tool might be well served to open up a portion of their peripheral vision to the increasingly well-documented successes of the platform.

A quick googling of "'Second Life' 'Education'" might be a good starting place. Here, I've done it for you, saving you one more click :)

I was at the Conference on Information Technology Monday, cruising around gathering information for my Vanderbilt podcast, and though some of the hundreds of sessions available drew pretty good crowds, I have to say the only standing room only sessions I peeked into were those on Second Life (and one very interesting one on a 3D software platform for crime scene forensics education. I helped out a little in a session by John Miller, from Tacoma State College in Washington, about his NESIM (Nursing Education Simulation) Second Life site, and it was both fun and stimulating, not to mention enthusiastically embraced by the (yes, standing-room-only) attendees. That'll be the focus of my next podcast, due out in two weeks, with audio from the session and possibly even some video.

If all this picques your interest and you have a couple hours Saturday morning, there is a workshop inside Second Life for beginning educators hosted by Elven Institute, an association of real-world librarians. More info at the Elven Institute website.

Cheerio, ya'll.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Vision of Students Today, from Michael Wesch

Michael Wesch is, as David Warlick notes today, "at it again." Wesch (a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University) created the worldwide noted YouTube video "Web 2.0--The Machine is Us/ing Us," a digital ditty that earned him, among other noteriety, a 2007 WIRED magazine "Rave Award."

I thank David for the quick heads up on this one, via my RSS feed of his 2 Cents Worth blog. I took the time to post it here in part because it actually brought me to tears. I'd be interested to see your responses commented here.

Here's the link to Wesch's page containing the video, entitled "A Vision of Students Today," in turn embedded from YouTube.
(Not available at USN--blocked for bandwidth issues)


Vicki Davis's "Cool Cat Teacher" blog has me playing with this now: As if I needed something else to explore, LOL

To post here, use your cell phone to text message to phone number 25622 any message beginning with "@helloscott" and followed by your message. The "@helloscott" will be stripped out of the display and the message will end up on my wiffiti screen, which is embedded below. Like Vicki's doing, I'm just exploring this: It's amazing how every day there seems to be some new clever communication platform emerging. If it's true that being a life-long learner increases longevity, we all should live forever! Wiffiti me!

Friday, November 02, 2007

"Educational Change -- an Oxymoron?"

This post is actually posting to a post about a post. A meta-post?

Tom March put up what he calls a "little rant" at Tuesday about a New York Times op-ed piece by David Brooks. I want you to read the NYTimes piece, of course, but I want you to do so by way of March's very brief review of it.

Then go enjoy Brooks' remarkable little prose all about "the Sacred Order of the External Mind," It's good for a few chuckles, as well as its fair share of thought provoking moments, especially in combination with March's take on it. My own read is that Brooks is being not "a bit tongue in cheek," as Brooks describes it, but rather incredibly sarcastic. What do you think?

Have a minute?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Innovate---Journal of Online Education Redesign!

I'm pretty proud of my very first peer-reviewed professional journal paper, released in the October/November volume 2, 2005, issue number 1 of innovate-Journal of Online Education; and this exraordinary resource for educators K-20 (and learners of any level) has gone on since then to release issue after issue of valuable research driven papers and webinars. It's just this month released a GREAT site redesign. Hence this post. See my paper, "Videoconferencing K-12: The state of the Art," at the new site. Check out the one hour webinar (a condition of publication, and a free archived continuing resource for both authors and audience) I subsequently delivered. If you're not impressed yet, check out the "About this Journal" page.

Bookmark this site! And sign up for the listserv for once-a-month receipt of new publication announcements; I've just been approved to submit an article for a future special issue on education in Second Life--more news on that later...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Got the Winter Crud but...

Lying flat on my back with a chest cold today but it does give me a chance to catch up, inbetween nappies. I've been most active in my Second Life blogging lately. So much happening there, not a great deal happening here. Excepting, well, hmmmm...

Awaiting word on the proposal applications for NECC2008 in San Antonio. I put in three: two for the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt and one for Second Life. The first two are similar, one a session with IVC and one a poster session with IVC capability. I've done several of the former but none of the latter and I'm hoping that if one is accepted over the other that the poster goes through. I didn't even make it to the poster floor last year in Atlanta but I recall from the year before that it can be a busy place; plus it'll be a challenge for me to put together something in a new (two hour!) format. I'm so proud of the work that's going on at the school that I'd love to get the chance to share it out face to face with fellow educators: It's a big task to implement a program that brings 100 public school high school students, 25 from each grade level (the ultimate goal), to a university research campus one day a week. The fact that such a small staff makes it happen is nothing short of remarkable. The use of Moodle as a LMS (Learning Management System) is going well, and everyone's learning, even the young and stellar faculty!
It's also delivering some great audio for my podcast, Snacks4theBrain!. If you haven't caught the last one, featuring portions of an interactive videoconference between School freshmen and the director of the National Ice Core Laboratory, do so post haste...

I've blogged about the SL 3-hour workshop presentation proposal but if you missed that you can find its meat, carved up and served to the reviewers' table by 9 chefs from 9 different states in the country, at the SLedupotential wiki.

Finally, my lovely wife has just completed a huge fundraising event for and at my school, and you can see something about that at, the event's website. Due to the work of many volunteers it was immensely successful (and I should say that it is a testament to her capable and untiring work all year long that it even happened!), raising let's-just-say a bundle of discretionary funding for my school, including funding for teacher professional development and for its exemplary need-based scholarship program. artclectic (no caps) is also what my school director likes to say a "friendraiser," this year achieving great mention and excellent review in the local press and nothing but superlative comments from everyone I talked to. For me, it was a chance to see artists who are both world-class artists and wonderful human beings, some of whom I consider friends from the long association over the years Lee Ann's been making artclectic tick. To watch the little ones move through the stunning gallery on Education Day, especially, was both heartwarming and encouraging. I've been working on a video from that day, and when it's done I'll share it here!

Sigh, going back to sleep now...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vacation! :)

A Grrrrrrreat trip to Mammoth Cave National Park with me boy. More later (or not--maybe just bask in the memories of the moment)...

From our Green River canoe trip:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ISTE Podcasting Webinar Plug!

Hey, ya'll,

I want to share a little video I put up at TeacherTube a few minutes ago. My school's technology department is adding a little article each week on how our teachers are adopting technology, and I took the opportunity yesterday to drop in on Matthew Haber, USN's podcasting teacher and this year's Nashville Scene "Best High School Teacher" (USN's Joel Bezaire came in number 3:) just after he had attended an online webinar from ISTE. I've been to several of these, folks, and they are genuinely worth the hour of one's time and the 50 dollar fee an ISTE member pays. Visit the ISTE website to learn more. Meanwhile, here's the one minute vid:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

K12 Online Conference Starts Today!

Just shunting ya'll over to David Warlick's post about his opening keynote--will be listening a bit later...The chat interface David has tweaked (he calls it "Twitteresque," a reference to Twitter, a fascinating tool in and of itself) is amazing. Go read. Go listen...

Sunday, September 30, 2007


If you're not aware of what's going on with Second Life, the huge online MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment), you may be surprised to know that educational opportunities abound. I maintain a fairly oft-accessed blog about education in Second Life and usually keep my posts about that area of interest at the "Oh Second Life" blog. However, I want to encourage anyone interested to visit a wiki I set up over this past weekend, one I'm calling "sledupotential."

Since ISTE's annual NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) issued a call for proposals this past month, I've been wondering what sort of offering I might make for the 2008 conference in San Antonio. I've been going to these things since 2000, and I began presenting at the 2002 conference in San Antonio, helping design and deliver a half-day session on Interactive Videoconferencing put on for the then "Office" of Science Outreach at Vanderbilt University. Since then (with the exception of one year, NECC in Seattle, when I spent my time attending rather than presenting workshops) I have presented on various topics in New Orleans, San Diego, and Atlanta, missing only Chicago in 2001 and Philadelphia in 2005. See a history of past NECCs here.

These conferences have provided some of the most pivotal experiences in my adult learning life, as well as helping me establish collegial bonds and friendships of long duration; and I look forward to the conference every year. This year may be a landmark, though.
I'm going collaborative. Seriously collaborative.

See the wiki, which explains the process better than I can here. "sledupential" promises to be the most learning-loaded and thought-provoking session I've ever had the privilege of helping facilitate. I'm smiling now, smiling wide: Maybe it has something to do with the nine other colleagues from all over the country (haven't gone international yet but chances are we will be so by the end of the day) who have signed on as co-presenters. Maybe it has to do with the way this idea developed from a more-or-less casual chat at an ISTE "social" in Second Life.
Maybe I'm just crazy!

Time, as it always does, will tell. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Online Conference October 15-19 and October 22-26

Mark your calendars and peel off some multi-tasking time during the work-weeks October 15-19 and October 22-26 for the K12 Online Conference 2007. It looks like it'll be ripe with learning and sharing opportunities for anyone who can stop by. I'm also very interested in the tools that will be used for the mega-shareshare. If you see me there, say hi!

Learn more...

The official conference website has Wes Fryer asking bloggers to post three things they hope to gain by attending this year (remember, this is all online--all virtual--all digital).

Here are mine:

1) Making/renewing friendships with educators who are interested in making education better

2) Seeing how all this works, when facilitated by some of the best practitioners in the field, and discovering new tools or at least valid new use for tools I already know about

3) Adding one more thing to my already overwhelming to-do list!

Okay, the last one might be a little sarcastic, but since number 2 is really two things, I feel covered :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

(4)Hundred Dollar Laptops to be Sold in US for Two Weeks Only

eSchoolNews reported today that the much-media'ed "Hundred Dollar Laptop," the product of Nicholas Negroponte's long crusade to level the global computing playing field, will be sold in the US for a two week period in November, ONLY.

Negroponte, as we know, is famed for thinking out of the box, some would say, "off the planet." I much admire this strategy, which offers the US public to purchase the $188 retail machine, running a souped-down Linux operating system, sporting built-in wireless, and chargeable with a hand-crank, for 400 dollars. The additional revenue from each sale will be applied to the purchase of one of the little laptops for a child in a third world country.

All the details are at the eSchoolNews article and I highly recommend the read. Now who's gonna pop me 400 bucks so I can buy one of these things!? If nothing else, it can keep my Kaypro 2x machine company as a collector's item. And, hey, that little 64K, 5 1/4 inch dual floppy driven machine cost me two grand! Moore was right!
There's a great pic of the device here!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Musings--Just Learning" shareshare

I just discovered Sharon Peters' blog, "Musings--Just Learning," a refreshing set of posts from a long time English teacher-turned-consultant for LEARN, an arm of the ministry of education in Quebec, Canada. Having happily added it to my Netvibes rss aggregator, I just wanted to pop out and share it with you. Thanks to twitter pal Durff!

Now to investigate the new Google Presenter. There's always something!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and before I forget it, an NSTA listserv email pointed me to its marvelous "Behind the Books" podcast series. Any educator can benefit from listing, especially if connected to the sciences!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Practical Theory--A View from the Classroom

"We need school and district administrators to create a culture of innovation where teachers and students can bring new ideas, new tools and new ways of thinking to the subjects we have at hand and be rewarded for their innovation. When that happens -- when teacher learning through non-traditional means is valued -- then we can a) expect to really see change and b) hold teachers accountable when they don't. Until that day, we will see the early adopters and the risk-takers bring new ideas to bear on the classroom, but I don't think we'll see wide-spread adoption of any tools at any rate faster than general society."

--Chris Lehman, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

Chris is an award-winning educational technologist who has taken his views on the potential of new teaching and learning tools to turn around the decline of our schools into his work at SLA. I will be spending this week catching up on his blog archives. Want to join me? Visit Practical Theory -- A View from the Classroom. Last one to understand it all is a rotten egg...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Doonesbury on Second Life

Okay, this may properly belong on my educators' Second Life Blog, but it's on so many of those that I feel I need to pipe it out to a more general audience. My shareshare is motivated by a comment made by one of my Vanderbilt colleagues Monday morning. As he passed my makeshift workstation in the conference room, noting my laptop display, he huffed, "Oh, you're playing games."

What I was doing, actually, was looking around Max Chatnoir's fantastic "Gene Pool" island on Second Life, a build completely dedicated to helping global citizens understand the finer points of genetics research. It's a much-heralded site and I was taking a look at it toward sharing it with the kids in the new School for Science and Math.

This is a technological savvy man I highly respect, and he just doesn't "get it" that MUVEs can inspire, motivate, and educate. "I have to admit I'm not at all impressed by Second Life," he told me. I sighed. I wanted to say, "Brother, you're not alone there," but I didn't.

Thanks to KJ, Claird, and others, and especially to the fantastic Garry Trudeau, who really does "get it."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The School for Science and Math Profiled at the Learning Sciences Institute

Happy Saturday.

In the "the sun never sets on fun education news" department, I direct your attention to the most recent news posting at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach's website, which in turn sends you on over to the Learning Sciences Institute 's website's article on our new School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. According to the news announcement at, "the Learning Sciences Institute (LSI) is a Vanderbilt University-wide center dedicated to stimulating and supporting interdisciplinary research and development in the learning sciences."

"The School" is an innovative project to bring 100 Metro Nashville Public School students to Vanderbilt University campus research laboratories for one day a week the entire school year. For this year's incoming freshmen it's a four year commitment that will culminate in a special notation on their high school diploma and provide them with skills and experience to pursue careers in scientific research and practice. For some audio detail and a fun video from the freshman class's week two experience, get on over to Snacks4theBrain! episode 60!

So, yes, I do that, then I log off and cook breakfast for my boy and me!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Writing to Communicate--David Warlick's Notes

Friend David has done it again, succinctly given us the short course on communication. Check out his notes about communicating in the 21st century here, at his 2cents Worth blog.

Want some justification for why we should be emphasizing communication (not just 'writing") in our classrooms? Read this article at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website. It's about the critical lack of same in the sadly lacking emergent American workforce.

Finally, I'd submit that blogging is one Web 2.0 technology that can enhance our students' communication skills in inumerable ways. See for much more on the topic.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Good Music from David Spencer

A brief commercial for my son's guitar teacher, David Spencer.

Wow. If "Lady Lover" isn't a single I don't know what is. "She Walks the Streets Alone" might be the B side, or then again maybe that's the single.

David, a brilliant and amazingly centered young fellow, originally (I do believe) from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He's been giving my beautiful son Colin guitar lessons every week for about a year, to the point at which Colin's already writing songs and has performed one of them in concert in front of his 5th grade peers (Colin's either stage-bound or just picking up valuable life skills with performance--he's the only pre-teen in the amazingly successful "Shakespeare in the Park" series this summer) and considers noodling on my guitar (a sleek black Scotty Moore-signed Gibson SG-Standard which he may not know is now really his) as natural a free-time choice as watching Spongebob or surfing Club Penguin.

Anyway, git on over to David's website then pop onto iTunes and buy "Love Like a Symphony," David's long-awaited solo offering, independently produced and one of the most hauntingly lovely compilations of original music I have ever heard. The production values are top-rate, the complex arrangements are flawlessly accomplished, and the kind and loving spirit of this good man soar through each song and will lift your own spirit. You'll thank me for this.

I even offer a new genre label for this stuff: "Intellapop." Comment here on what you think about that title. Sure, it's mainstream-geared, but sure, "Love Like a Symphony" is intelligent and thoughtfully done at every turn.

*Scott puts on Bronx accent*: "Just do it."

I probably could've left off with the first paragraph. If you missed it, here it is again:


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Web 2.0 Update

Just a quickie this morning to point you to a new blogpost at my Classroom 2.0 site. Why copy and paste here when I can simply link you to it!?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freyer Calls for Textbook Purchase Moratorium

Want to think outside of the proverbial "Box" today? Go visit Wesley Freyer's "Infinite Thinking Machine" and join in the conversation he's started about mounting a moratorium on the purchase of dead-tree-based textbooks. Note that he's not advocating the end of their publication, but calling for a movement to break the textbook industry's stranglehold on educational budgets. I'm wondering how much better my 1000 for my two kids texbooks this year might have been spent on a new laptop for each of them...

Vickie Davis bellied up her counter-opinion in her blog, CoolCatTeacher. What to YOU think?

Comment here (or anywhere--just comment!).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

MSNBC's The 10 Best Actors on TV!

I have to shareshare: This recent MSNBC article by Larry Carroll, describing "The Ten Best Actors on TV," includes my boy James and places him number 3 (though I'd put him higher, of course). The text is right on target, from my very biased POV. Can't WAIT to see the upcoming 24 season, which premiers November 6 on FoxTV.

Congrats, brother. It's about time!!!

Grab a visit to Jimmy's official website from the navbar to the right!

Friday, August 17, 2007

FlipVideo Hits Classrooms!

I have to cross-post this, knowing that not everyone reads my USN Lower School blog but wanting to shareshare with as many folks as possible. Here's a post I just slapped up on that blog for parents at my school:

Watch for more video from our Lower School, after Technology Director Kathy Wieczerza put one FlipVideo camera device in the hands of each grade level, K-4 during our final day of start-of-the-year teacher inservice on Tuesday. These handy little devices record internet-ready video at the touch of a button, store 30 minutes of video instantly uploadable to one's computer via the flip-out USB plug, and host the imaging software on the device, so there's no software to load on your computer, PC or Mac. Best of all, they can be bought for about 90 dollars at Costco and other local outlets, a much better price than the 139 dollars they retail for at the company's website.

If you're a teacher, the fine folks at FlipVideo offer a 10 dollar rebate per unit on purchases of 3 or more at a time. Wow.

USN Outdoor Education teacher Cynthia Lee took a Flip on a summer Kindergarten trip to Wyoming and recorded some funny footage at Yellowstone Park. It's hosted on TeacherTube, a sort of a YouTube for educators and students...

Here it is:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Starting the School Year 2007-8!

Wow, so it begins. All over the country, teachers are making ready their classrooms for an influx of new teachers--or they've already met them on that ground. My wish for all of us is that this year be the most inspiring for our children, the most pivotal in their path toward achieving the motivation to seek learning for the rest of their lives.

In my own school, it has been a great treat for me to be around the most dedicated group of educators I can imagine. I'm going to pop in a little video from the first inservice day breakfast, in which our fearless leader Vince Durnan cajoles us out into the 100 degree heat for a mass portrait on our front steps. One reason I'm doing this is to have a readily accessible video to share with my teachers when I hand out the grade-level FlipVideos we're buying, one for each grade level K-5. The other is for the world to see our professonal community at a rare moment of rest. We'll all be at work soon enough! Here's the video:

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Workshop's Done, but We're Not

Wow, what a gratifying week, working with 12 (10 at the end, due to injuries and illness--you didn't think Web 2.0 was so dangerous, did you?) talented, dedicated colleagues to puzzle and explore, query and tease out meaning, discuss, absorb, and generally mine the gold from at least a portion of what the new online collaborative tools have to offer educators and students.

If there's one terminology that could supplant the now hackneyed "Web 2.0," maybe it's that, Online Collaborative Tools. There you go: "OCT for Us." You heard it here first.


But meanwhile get thee on over to the wiki (see the blog if you'd like--it's really cool to watch the clustrmap to see the dot or two that gets added on the world map every day) to see (especially) the Individual Report-Outs, the Links and Files, and the News, to which I added just today.

Perhaps your fellow teachers could benefit from a week (or a day, or two, or three) of this kind of learner-driven, self-paced, exploration of the new OCT. If so, I have two alternatives to offer you: 1) visit the wiki and spend some time exploring the tools that we share with you there, most of all Kathy Schrock's list of applications and our own shared resources in the Links and Files page, or B) (sic) email me to begin to talk about schedule. I'm thinking I might take this one on the road, this year on weekends, next summer for a week at a time. Why? It works...

Life is good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Web 2.0 for Us" Update

Just made it past "hump day" in the University School of Nashville "Web 2.0 for Us" workshop running Monday through Friday and I have to say I am sooooooo proud of these folks. They have embraced these valuable teaching tools more warmly than I could have predicted or hoped for. The blog is cool, but the wiki is cooler, maybe a statement that might summarize the whole ding-danged effort. See 'em both. Me? I'm goin' to bed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A GREAT Day in the "Web 2.0 for Us" Workshop

I have to admit I was freakin' out last night--what if the model doesn't work, what if my theory that smart and creative teachers given time to explore tools will become energized and enthusiastic is all balderdash and tommyrot, what if our internet connection goes down, what if, what if, what if...?

Well, predictably, I suppose, the day came, the moments of excitement came and went, and it all worked out the way it should have. See the results of the first day from the USN Web 2.0 for Us workshop here. Especially check out the Report-Out pages on the wiki. Very good stuff.

Kudos to my friend David Warlick who came in via Skype video (we lost our own video due to some un-troubleshootable problem with my webcam and my laptop, but we forged ahead) to deliver most of a marvelous talk of his about Web 2.0 and Literacy. See the page he created for it here. Wow, I say, just Wow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Snacks4theBrain! Podcast Features NECC2007!

Hey! Just finished posting episode number 58 of Snacks4theBrain! and thought it might be good to let everyone know here. The 20 min. podcast features snippets from Peggy Sheehy, Kathy Schrock, and Chris Dede--all three of whom presented stellar talks at the National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta, Georgia (Chris's excerpt is from his keynote the subsequent "online learning institute" tagged onto the tail end of NECC). Go visit the S4theB! blog to listen and learn more.

Oh, for those monitoring for news of the new podcast "uber-device" to which I alluded in my Windows Podcasting talk at NECC, the current news is that its release is set for October of this year. As soon as I have leave to let out more I promise I'll do so right here (though you'll probably hear of it elsewhere as well--it's too big an innovation to escape large press).

If you haven't already, check out and keep an eye on the developments that will blossom over at the Web 2.0 in Education's week-long workshop at the University School of Nashville next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NECC Podcasting Session

Apple has my NECC workshop session en totale for your listening pleasure, now online at iTunes! It's also available at the "Conference Connections" website but my own PC has a problem with the plugin to display it, so I suggest if you want to hear it, get on over to iTunes! More later!

Monday, July 02, 2007

My Brother's Website

Heavy sigh.

I have two brothers by birth and I love them both dearly. We've been through some times together, we have. That said, I've been blessed with another brother in my life: my dearest, closest, most distant brother, James Morrison. He's a poet, an actor, a musician, a daddy, a seeker, a producer, a director, and he's as close to my heart as anyone in the world. Heck, he taught me to juggle, ya'll.
Aside from Jimmy's most recent gig on Fox's 24, he's done a great deal of work over a good many years. Funny how people meet and bond; but spending time with Jimmy as apprentices in the Alaska Repertory Theatre's fledgling apprentice troupe, improvising imaginary journeys for schoolchildren in Anchorage, Alaska, may have directed my life in more profound ways than I can say. He's recently revised his website "Links" page to send people here, to my "life's work." Funny.
Go to his own website to get a taste of the most remarkable artist I've ever known, the kindest, gentlest, most centered human you'll ever hope to meet. He's my son's godfather, and I'm his son's. Does that make us "godbrothers?"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Second Life NECC 2007 Birds of a Feather Video!!!

It's at the Scott in Second Life blog. Have at it! Oh heck, let's repost it here!

Thank you Zsuzsa Thomsen! You ROCK! I SAW you with that videocam. You did a great job of grabbing pieces of the hour and a half fun-fest that Jeremy and I did before he lost every electronic connection he had when his power went out from the San Antonio thunderstorm. It's always something!!!

Chris O'Neal at the "online learning institute"


Chris O'Neal, University of Virginia, working with the Virginia Dept. of Education to provide professional outreach to teachers. He also teaches classes at UV and is pursuing his doctorate in Research and Evaluation. He also is presenting the Panel introduction to the second set of roundtables here at the ECB/SERB "online learning institute."

Some notes:

"If my 11 year old is so tech savvy, what about her little 4 year old cousin who's doing things Chloe didn't do until she was 8? The question I want to ask is "are we ready for these kids?"

Chris showed the video I shared with my teachers just three weeks ago, Mike Wesch's "The Machine is Us." .

I like him already.

Teachers need to ask these questions about 2.0 tools:
  • applicability to classroom--content, needs, standards

  • dependability

  • ease of use

  • student safety and information literacy

  • teacher tech savviness and student media literacy

  • copyright and fair use concerns

  • tapping into the myspace mind

"The digital divide that we do have control over" is who gets computer time in school. What happens now is that the kids who have all the tech at home get the most computer time at school."

"You can have this whole PowerPoint if you want it. Just copy it, delete my name and add yours...I don't care."

Wikis offer collective editing--a whole roomful of teachers editing a document

On Wikipedia, "the benefit of collective intelligence is also collective ignorance. Absolutely tell your students to use Wikipedia, but let's put it in the context of curriculum and tell the ppl who contribute to Wikipedia "Listen, the person who's coming after you is my 11 year-old so you better make sure your information is correct because she's going to research and correct it if it's not."

Losing track at the moment because I'm getting so into this talk. It will all be online at within the week.

online learning institute!

Intensely frustrated by the repeated reaquaintance with the error message balloon "This connection has limited or no connectivity and the Windows message [insert image], I'm typing this post in notepad to insert later, when I can achieve a connection at someplace that has a clue about wireless connectivity. Shoot, I'd give an arm and a leg for a CAT5 jack. Days Inn Atlanta staff are friendly and helpul and very very nice, but their "we're working on it" reply is getting stale now that the technology conference is over and their explanation that too many people are trying to use the hotel wireless at once is no longer available.


The SREB (Southeastern Educational Review Board) "Online Learning Institute" in the Omni Hotel is going great guns. NECC 2007 officially concluded with the stunning 2:45 keynote address by Dr. Tim Tyson, principle at Mabry Middle School here in Atlanta, a school where administrators and technologists (and, more importantly, teachers) "get it." All the keynotes are, or will soon be, available at the NECC2007 website. Any of my readers or colleagues who may wonder just why it is that I'm so passionate about the immense societal changes that technology is working upon the way children learn and the way(s) we should be teaching them, please go listen to Andrew Zoli's opening keynote; the archived panel discussion ("Why Creativity and Innovation Matter") that he moderated on Tuesday; or Dr. Tyson's closing Keynote.

Or, if you want to cut to the chase, get to the ECB website and hear the opening keynote by educational technologist and futurist Dr. Chris Dede, Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As tired as I was by 4:30, Dr. Dede made me sit up and take notice in the Hotel Omni's Ballroom E, linen tableclothed tables surrounded by sort of the upper eschelon of NECC attendees (you could tell that by the coats and ties, and the generally subdued response and Dr. Dede lobbed one explosive concept after another off the podium) when he said that he has "the dubious distinction of holding an endowed chair at Harvard in a field in which I have had only one course in my life. The course was in 1967. It was in a programming language that no longer exists. I used punch cards. And I hated the course it drove me out of the field for the next eight years. We have to do better for this generation."

Another zinger, somewhat paraphrased: "A generation from now there will only be two skills our students will need to to have mastered in order to have a successful professional life. They are: 1) expert decision making (what does your skilled auto mechanic do when all the diagnostics say that your car is working but it isn't), and 2) complex communication skills--the ability to make meaning out of complexity."

Following the keynote, groups broke out into 10 Round Table discussion groups that will follow each Panel Presentation for a total of three Round Table sessions, at which participants can repeat their choice or choose another (I chose Tools and Resources (see below). Here's the list:

  • Designing Online content
  • Online Facilitation
  • StrategiesAccessibility: 508 and 504 in Online
  • ProgramsOngoing Professional Development,
  • Mentoring and Coaching for Online Instructors
  • Overview of Course Management Systems for Online Learning Online
  • Assessment and Assessing OnlinePartnerships and Stakeholders
  • Tools and Resources for Online Learning
  • Web 2.0 Tools
  • Establishing your Online Program: Marketing Retention and Incentives

Each table had a facilitator and a notetaker and I'm suspecting notes will be online after the session ends at 4:00 pm tonite. (Note: Still not available--will revise here when the notes and audio are online)

Okay, I was somewhat dreading putting in yet another day of sharing and learning about education, but here I am; and as I stumbled out of the reception following the opening session of the "online learning institute" I felt kind of like I always feel when I let my wife drag me to church on Sunday. Not having really wanted to go, I felt better.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Announcement for Attendees of My NECC Windows Podcasting Tools Session!

(part of the audience!)

I had so much fun sharesharing yesterday for the ~240 dedicated teachers, administrators, and technologists who packed my Windows Podcasting: Tools, Tips, and StraTegies for Success (ISTE dropped my internal cap on the last word in its title but I thought it was cute, don't you?) and want to thank you all for being there. Please feel free to add my feed to your RSS aggregator of choice for that podcasting device announcement I teased you with!
The winners of the two giveaway FlipVideo devices (THANKS, Simon at!!!) were Bruce Dale, Technical Support Specialist at Rabun County Schools in Tiger, Georgia and Brenda Thompson, teacher at Madison County School District in Flora, Mississippi. Congrats!
Seven other lucky winners took home items from FTC Publishing and some random other things from my office, including a Works Suite package and a 2003 Britannica Encyclopedia on CD (the boobie prize, to be sure but most likely a bonafide antique worth keeping). I want to sincerely apologize for the pandemonium that accompanied the prize drawing process (if you can call it that) but folks, I had NO IDEA that my session would be such a sellout, and had a process prepared for drawing prizes from a pool of certainly no more than 100...
Here's the announcement I want to make today: I have 100 (remember, the cutting-edge independent music distributor website offering free music to podcasters?) to give away, courtesy of the generous John Buckman at Magnatune. You have to trust that I'll work out a good way to pick the first 100 emails I received in the mad rush to win yesterday, and winners will receive an email with an attachment to save that will have a gift card number to use on the website for up to 10 dollars worth of music. Most full albums at Magnatune average a price of 8 dollars, and John's hope is you'll "get" the unique service ethic there and come on back when you want new music that hasn't been filtered by the (all caps) MUSIC INDUSTRY musicmill.
Again, thanks so much and check back for more pictures here!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Okay, I'm Done!

Led what turned out to be a FABULOUS Birds of a Feather session with Jeremy Koester from San Antonio yesterafternoon. Followup from that experience will mostly be at the Second Life blog, but I can assure you a fun time was had by all (well, "most" anyway!).

I fnally feel like my "Windows Podcasting: Tips, Tricks, and sTragegies for Success" session today is fleshed out enough with talking points and resources for me to talk non-stop for 50 minutes without making a complete fool of myself. Going to take a walk through the conference center after uploading those resources to the ISTE site.

Most of what I'm sharing is now on my new page, so if you're busy elsewise feel free to learn from there!

Had planned to give away two flipvideo recorders but since they haven't arrived from the company yet that plan may be thwarted. I do have some books and other fun stuff from a commercial company that contacted me to offer them, as well as a Griffin iMic and perhaps a few other things, so come buy if you are feeling lucky!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kathy Schrock's Presentation

Okay, ya'll, I'm here in a HUGE Murphy Ballroom in the Georgia World Conference Center with friend Kathy Schrock, and sheesh, she's got a full house. She's doing a workshop on Web 2.0 and you can see her presentation slides at her presentation webpage.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Approaching Grantgivers: How to Write It, How to Sell It!

In the workshop led by charismatic Sheryl Abshire, sweat drippin' off me just like perspiration, since I took the wrong turn in my walk here, walked around the longest block in Atlanta, and ended up running part of the way in the already hot Georgia morning. Sheesh.

Sitting in a room with ten white linen-draped tables each populated by four or five teachers or administrators so interested in learning how to get some of the millions and millions of available grant dollars that they got up early on Sunday a.m. to come to this three hour seminar/workshop (heck I already told you I ran here) and I'm going to bullet some points as Sheryl talks:

  • collaborate when you write grants--there's power in collaborative thinking

  • think strategically and intentionally

  • bring people into the process who have expertise in the field

  • her district just got the million dollar Teaching History grant from the USDE

  • review the literature and identify funders--this is hard but it's the easiest thing you'll do

  • weave in a reference to successful research and or grant in the same field

  • be a grant reader -- you can volunteer to read grants for local, state, or corporate grant-givers (the insight you will gain will make you an immeasurably better writer as well as help you find funders most likely to fund your project)

  • often your grant doesn't have to be the best--if there are 20 to be awarded you're fine being the 20th best

  • analyze the RFP (Request for Proposal) carefully

  • follow format for submissions precisely -- if the RFP says 500 words, a proposal with 501 will be tossed out summarily, as will a .9 inch margin when a 1 inch margine is required

  • get clarification if you need it (and if you don't--you're calling to chat people up makes you familiar to the grant-givers: Find someone who will talk to you!)
  • Bubbles (Sheryl passed out bubbles and had the attendees blow them to illustrate how the grant-writers see the "roomful of grant applications" and emphasize that yours needs to be differentiated by precision and mission
  • Clearly state who is applying (144 3rd and 4th graders at an independent K12 school and their collaborating students, 200 5th graders in Kobe, Japan)
  • Cite prior successes, reframe earlier or ongoing projects
  • Give the grant to a non-educator to ensure that it's jargon-free
  • FUNDERS FUND GRANTS THAT ARE NEEDY BUT NOT DESPERATE--They will fund grants that they think have a chance for success and if you are hopeless and helpless the response is "I can't help them..."
  • Your Needs Statement is precise and to the point, directly relates to the priorities of the district/school as well as those of the funders, is stated in terms of the student/staff to be helped (not the grant-writers'), makes no assumptions, and makes a compelling argument (the art of it)
  • Objectives are clear statements of the outcomes expected--great description of the importance of connecting budget to objectives--readers color-code each objective and match budget items to each one and there had better be a balance and no objectives unmatched by a proportionate amount of budget items
  • The budget is very specific
  • If you include people in your grant be VERY careful--increases in health care, salary increases, etc. can well lose you staff mid-stream due to lack of research up front--check with your payroll person, etc.
  • If your grand does not get funded do not give up, ask for readers' comments or ask for someone to call
  • Look for rubrik and give it to your pre-reader to score it--you may have to ask for it
  • You will never get a grant if you don't keep writing it

Notes for me:

issues--develop higher order thinking skills, improve access to technology for solving curriculum-based problems, Adult education--does it exist? are its methods the latest?, staff development,

(This post is currently in process--stay tuned)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day1, Saturday, the Edubloggercon "Unconference"

Made it down for the start of the edubloggercon "unconference," a jewel of an experience that was so inspirational it may as well have been the entire motivation for my driving down here. The morning session saw me chatting with Vicki Davis, a premier blogger who's CoolCatTeacher blog is a great resource for everyone. The room was full of active conversations as bloggers paired up to "interview" one another in order to flesh out the profiles on the edubloggercon site.

The session broke out into smaller ones and I gravitated to the Second Life session where I got to meet in person many of the amazing new friends I'm meeting in my avatar as "Scottmerrick Oh" inworld. We made some great progress, I think, toward gelling as a group to further investigate how SL can be used in the service of learning. See "Scott Merrick in Second Life" blog for more on that! Will be blogging there a bit later this evening, after finding some food.

That session was called to order by organizer Steve Hargadon and we merged two planned sessions into one called Schools of the Future, led by one of my personal heroes, David Warlick. Wow. I took video the whole time and though I'm sure David will podcast it, I'm working on making that video available. I'm a diehard supporter of audo podcasting, for a number of reasons, but this is one you might want to watch, just to see the engagement and the passion in the eyes of the 40 or 50 teachers in that room. There's hope....

Over lunch break I didn't eat but sat with those who did, catching up with email and formatting some of the video I took with my flipvideo device from This device is one our tech coordinators at my school are experimenting with this summer, and I'm tellin' you, it's stellar.

After lunch break I caught Rushton Hurley's "Videos and Engaging Learning: session, learning and sharing alot. Rushton's working to save education one instruction video at a time at his unique and cleanly conceived Join in. Help. Submit your own less-than-five-minute videos to the completely free teacher resource.

Tomorrow it's the grant writing session early a.m. then seat-dropping pamphlets and the like for the Keynote featuring Andrew Zoli, young educational futurist. Then the reception at the Georgia State Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the country, and helping welcome people to the Second Life section of that reception. All's good!

Monday it's a bunch of sessions; the Second Life "playground," showing it to the masses; a photoshoot for ISTE publicity, the SL Birds of a Feather session. That's as far ahead as I can think at the moment, though I'm thinking all the time about my session presentation on Windows podcasting tools come Tuesday...


Gus by Scott Gardner Merrick  I wear these navy slacks I found behind O'Shaugnessy's, in the dumpster there. And they'r...