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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...

In Atlanta, Take One

Okay, ya'll, I'm here. It's early Saturday a.m. and I'm in my hotel room, having "slept in" until nearly 7:30. Very late for me, though you still have to remember my body thinks it was nearly 6:30. Still very late for me :).

Heading down to the edubloggercon at the Georgia World Convention Center in a few minutes, will catch some gnosh on the way. I'll twitter (see sidebar) that event as it do happen...

Happy Saturday!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Things are Heating Up for the Summer

I recently added a "Scott Merrick in Second Life" blog, just what I need, another blog to keep up with. But I feel it's important to parse off my interest in what's going on in Second Life from what's going on "irl" (in real life). Seriously, I think I need to find some new organizational software/program to help me prioritize everything I'm interested in--family, both my paying jobs, learning about teaching, teaching about learning, teaching, my NECC podcasting presentation, the new Computer Sciences department that is forming at my school, interactive videoconferencing, my summer workshop design and implementation (more on that later), distance learning, listening to music, playing music, reading, writing, and more: and that's just in my first life!

So visit the SL blog for what's going on there--there's a lot happening at NECC2007 in both first life and second. I'll keep track of each at its appropriate blog. Sheesh!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Impeach Cheney

Okay, that's enough. Impeaching our megalomaniacal president without first impeaching Dick Cheney would be foolhardy. I've added a button on the bottom sidebar to let you vote yes or no on the issue yourself. Please do so, whatever you believe. It can't hurt. It might help.

Listening to Al Gore's no-holds-barred The Assault on Reason (from has convinced me to get up off my virtual backside and take this small action. My blog will not become a political one, but I can no longer just do nothing. I firmly believe that 19 more months of our being "led" by a president about whom history will indubitably describe as having done more damage to our country than any of our enemies combined--well, that's unacceptable.

From Assault: "The damage to be undone is vast, but the cost of continuing to perpetuate that damage is, literally, incalculable."

Button's at the bottom of the right hand sidebar or just click here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tennessee Distance Learning Association Redo Redeaux

Had a fascinating meeting with some wonderful folks working to get the TNDLA up and running. This is something we reeeeeeeally need in Tennessee, and something a small cadre of dedicated ppl have been working for on and off for five years or so. See the wiki at and join up!


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