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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:



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