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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Moose Nuggets Kicks off the MentalNomad Podcast Holiday Show

Hey, ya'll,

I'm knee deep in family (literally) but I wanted to let you know that my "old non-standard" holiday tune, "Moose Nuggets for Christmas" has been featured on this month's MentalNomad Show podcast. Head on over and give it some love. There are a number of other great indie tunes in that 'cast, and Jason Tippitt, the show's host, throws down a challenge to donate to charity and in return offers some fun prizes up for grabs!

Great Jason! Thanks for the spinnnnnnnzzzzzzz.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Society 3.0, Savor It with your Egg Nog!

Checking out my Diigo weekly shareouts this morning I stumbled on this, and no, it's not the newest thing on the block, issuing from John Moravec from the University of Minnesota and EducationFutures, back in September, but (wow!) it was such a superior and interesting standalone presentation for me that I thunk I'd better share it out further. I can't imagine being there for the real thing, and I hope my path crosses that of Dr. Moravec soon.

BTW thanks to everyone who voted for "Oh! Virtual Learning!," my Second Life blog, which posted in 3rd place in a field of 6 for the "Best Educational Use of a Virtual World" Edublog2008 Award last night. I thank you from the bottom of my holiday heart! And congrats to Discovery Education Network in Second Life and Jokaydia, the two stellar blogs that won out in first and second places, respectively!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Plurk, Today'sMeet, and Twitter!

Clif Mims in Mahmphis plurked a sweet little application a while ago. True to the micro-blog creed, it's a short one: Useful Microblog-like platform for classrooms and presentations . I'll be using this lean little backchat tool, called "Today'sMeet," perhaps with my 4th graders tomorrow, the last full day of classes b4 winter holidays :)

Sign up for Plurk here! You'll love it! It's Twitter with discussion threads!

Here's a screen grab from my plurk interface. Click for a larger version!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NECC2009, Here We Come!

I'll be heading to Washington DC the last week in June of next year to do some challenging work!

I received emails from the NECC2009 programs committee yesterday announcing that two of my proposals have been accepted, both for 3 hour hands-on workshops relating to Second Life. Presentation proposers--Don't panic if you haven't heard about your own proposals yet: These came early since they required a change in venue from PC to Mac labs due to NECC logistics.

Here are the titles and session descriptions:

Introduction to Education in Second Life: n00bs UNITE!
Session Description Highly experienced ISTE Second Lifers will help interested but "skills-challenged" educators explore this rich virtual platform for its value in teaching and learning.

Educators' Toolbox and Skill Set: Instruction and Presentation in Second Life
Session Description Become a skillful user of the most exciting immersive environment available. Acquire skills and tools that will serve you well in any education setting.
I'm very excited! Especially since, following the implementation design that served us so well last year at NECC2008 in San Antonio, I have enlisted seven co-presenters for the beginners' session and three for the advanced one. There's likely to be some jostling around between now and the end of June 2009, as travel plans and funding and such come into play, but between the two sessions there is an impressive group of presentation talent lined up. Of course my MUVErs partners, John Miller and Cathy Walker, will help with both. I'll announce the others just as soon as I get clear throw-in from all of them (don't want to announce prematurely).

Yippeeee! And thanks to my directors at both University School of Nashville and the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach for ongoing support as I reach out to other educators through conference presentations and collaboration!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

PLEASE vote!

Hey, all,

My other blog, the one about Virtual Environments in the service of education, has just garnered a nomination for Best Use of Virtual Worlds in the Edubloggers Awards 2008 race. I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd click on over to the site and vote for "Oh! Virtual Learning" so I might take home the "Eddie" in that category this year. Voting goes through December but I'm all for pulling out ahead early and staying there. Not that I'm competitive, heheheee. Here's the link:


Monday, December 01, 2008

Fantastic "Case Study" Features "Teen Perspectives on Second Life"

I'm going to cross-post this to "Oh! Virtual Learning" just because it's so cool. Seldom do I find extremely detailed treatments of education in Virtual Environments, and this one is nothing short of extraordinary.

Steve Collis is "a French/English teacher, and 'Head of Innovation' at Northern Beaches Christian School and its innovation arm, the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning" in Sydney, Australia. He recently visited my good friend and colleague Peggy Sheehy at her school in Ramapo, New York, to examine how she has become the nation's premier "virtual pioneer" in using VE to facilitate teaching and learning for her young students. He reported out a week ago at his blog, "HappySteve" (a great name for a blog!, subtitled "Teachers, Technology, Learning"), and I want to urgently suggest (is that subtle enough) that you go visit the particular blogpost (permalink) to view his video documentation. Bookmark it, share it, shout it to the world(s).

Steve, who doesn't know it yet but soon will be roped into my own Professional Learning Network, says of his travels,

"If there is one thing that has stood out to me from her observations on the educational value of a 3D virtual world, it's the notion of a "Psychosocial Moratorium" - a term coined by Erik Erikson. The idea is that the social space of a 3D virtual online world is particularly 'safe', and therefore particularly beneficial for nurturing the confidence of adolescents trying to figure out who they are, what they are good at, what they stand for and what they are are known for. As someone who has spent countless hours in the safety of online environments, I know exactly what she means. As of November 2008 I am seeking to set up Teen Second Life for my school, and can't wait to see how the students respond. Peggy has many anecdotes of students who have 'found themselves' through what is essentially a scaffold to constructing social identity (my wording there)."
When I first met Peggy, at NECC2007 in Atlanta, Georgia (if memory serves me correctly), I was struck by the same sort of impression. This is a passionately visionary educator, a librarian by training, who has struck out virtually (sorry) on her own and gathered legions of followers to create a productive, successful model of how teaching and learning can differ--now, in the early 21st century--from the stale, tried-but-no-longer-true, instructor-centered pedagogies of our great-great grandparents' schools.

Go visit "Happy Steve" and see what I mean. Literally!

To warm you up, here's an embed of the first in the series of no less than 7 short videos:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Edublogger Awards 2008!

Hey, all. I read last night in a Google News alert that my Second Life blog, "Oh! Virtual Learning," has been nominated for an "Eddie," an annual award for excellence in sharing out over the educational blogosphere. Kevin Jarrett, friend and colleague from Northhampton, New Jersey, tossed the nomination into the fray, and I hope that readers of this blog will take a few minutes to click on through to The 2008 Edublog Awards! and vote for my work, once the nominees are announced. You can bet that I'll be re-posting about it with a link to the voting site. Meanwhile, here are the categories and my own nominations for excellence within them.

1. Best individual blog --M
oving at the Speed of Creativity, Wes Fryer
2. Best group blog
-- Second Life Education Blog, various
3. Best new blog
-- From Mr. A to Mr. Z, Jeff Agamenoni
4. Best resource sharing blog
-- Jake Luddington's Digital Lifestyle
5. Most influential blog post -- Obama, Propelled by the Net, Wins Democratic Nomination
6. Best teacher blog
-- Welcome to NCS-Tech, Kevin Jarrett
. Best librarian / library blog
-- Hey Jude, Judy O'Connell
8. Best educational tech support blog
-- 21st Century Learning, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
9. Best elearning / corporate education blog
-- no nominee 1
0. Best educational use of audio
-- Connect-Learning, David Warlick
11. Best educational use of video / visual
--TED Blog
12. Best educational wiki
-- SimTeach, Second Life Education Wiki, various
13. Best educational use of a social networking service

14. Best educational use of a virtual world -- SLpotential, various
15. Best class blog -- no nominee
16. Lifetime achievement -- Web-logged, Will Richardson

Here's a link to the 2008 Nominations page!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vanderbilt Web Spiders Presentation

This morning I shared Second Life with a group of folks at Vanderbilt University called the "Web Spiders." They're interested in Web development. I got a warm reception for my contribution to their knowledge base and even received applause for my little machinima about the CSO's entry into the 3Dinternet, our new presence on Lighthouse Learning Island.

I'm adding a couple URLs that came up in discussion, ones that are not in the presentation files below:

Congressional Hearing on Virtual Worlds

A great graphic representation of commercial presences in SL (a year and a half-old, btw)


Here's an interesting side-by-side shareout from Google Documents,

then Slideshare:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Natchez Trace Drive 110908

Just took a few minutes to upload pics from my camera to Picasaweb from the wonderful Sunday afternoon drive Steve treated us to, just Geoff, my son Colin, me and Steve driving down the beautiful road and talking foolishness. It was a great slow-down after a long and eventful weekend. Thanks, Steve, me boy. A couple nice desktop wallpapers in there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fair Use Best Practices Document Release

"...what teachers really need. Not a rule book, but a code of best practices to guide them [educators] and their students to making their own wise decisions." (Peter Jaszi, American University Law Professor)

View the video then access, save, and read the document at the American University School for Social Media. Then apply what you've learned for the betterment of you and your students!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Virtual Worlds "Second Coming" Article

Web Watch writer Tim Ferguson has penned an analysis of the current and future states of virtual enterprise in an insightful article at In it, he forwards the notion that the initial failure of enterprise to capitalize on the technological advantages VE can offer was due to a hasty misread of the tools' capabilities and potentials, the very same sentiment I heard at SLEDcc08 from our pal Sarah Robbins. At that Tampa, Florida conference, she said that "corporations should stop whining that there's no potential just because they didn't do it right." That's the quote to the best of my memory, and that's pretty much what Ferguson has to say today. His is a fascinating summary and well worth a read. From the article:

Organisations are discovering myriad ways to benefit from virtual worlds.

The first and perhaps most obvious is collaboration. This includes holding real-time meetings in the worlds with each member participating via an avatar. It can be a big cost saver, as it removes the need to fly workers around the globe.

Virtual worlds can also help teams spread across several locations work together and co-ordinate projects.

The virtual world Qwaq, for example, allows users to create rooms that can store documents relating to a project, and where team members can meet up to share those documents and discuss the project using their avatars, IM and even VoIP.

I took a quick look at Qwaq, and it looks like a solution for companies to isolate their involvement in the 3Dinternet to collaborational meetings (which is certainly a nice market niche, but not necessarily one that will enable broadly innovative uses of virtual environments). It's also pricey, imho, when with a little flexibility an existing platform like Second Life can be used for similar purposes. I'll investigate more fully and report out. Perhaps a Qwaq-er could comment here in response and elucidate further?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Brave New World Wide Web for Teachers!

This is soooooo worth a look. David Truss, a new favorite blogger at David Truss::Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts, mounted a video at from a powerpoint pressie he had recently done. Up there ^ it is :)

I'll reference this one for a good long time, and I hope you find it valuable. I discovered it, btw, in a posting at my Diigo, which I really don't access as often as I should. It's all about the balance and the time, isn't it? But as Truss exemplifies, if you don't

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sidewalk Ask a Nobel Laureate!

Through conversations with my Director at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach last week, I became aware of the August publication of a very interesting little video about a colleague of hers, Nobel Prize winning Dr. Leon Lederman, a physicist who contributed his time to a novel program. From the ScienCentral, Inc., a company formed to "increase the number and quality of science stories broadcast to the public," comes this announcement:

ScienCentral is taking science to the people in its first installment of “Street Corner Science,” a radical-yet-simple concept in which a film crew and a renowned scientist are plunked down on a busy city street corner, and an impromptu Q&A session with the public ensues. This video is the first of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman; be sure to check out Part 2 here!
Here's the video Part 1!

Creating a "Science of the Web"

As you may know by now, Al Gore did not "invent the internet."

And as disappointing as that may be, you may find some comfort in the fact that Tim Berners-Lee took care of that for Al. Now that the internet is so integrated into our lives, Berners-Lee is thinking, "Well, it may just be time to figure out just what it is." [author's note: this is a fictional quote and may or may not accurately represent Dr. Berners-Lee's motiviations].

He's actually been at this for quite a while, and it may only be news to me because my father-in-law passed along a recent copy of Science Magazine. That said, the article that triggered Gerry's sharing the magazine is absolutely fascinating and makes sense in so many ways that I want to pass it along.

The article, entitled COMPUTER SCIENCE: Enhanced: Creating a Science of the Web argues that:

If we want to model the Web; if we want to understand the architectural principles that have provided for its growth; and if we want to be sure that it supports the basic social values of trustworthiness, privacy, and respect for social boundaries, then we must chart out a research agenda that targets the Web as a primary focus of attention.

I think it's really really time we put some effort into establishing an understanding of the behemoth that is so important to so many of us. What do you think?

Read More!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ACDC Video Finished

Okay, lots of personal posts lately, thought in the great scheme of things, it's all "education." Isn't it?

Colin and I worked all month on a vid for a contest and here it is. Me? I'm nursing a bad back and hoping for healing. Send good vibes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guitar Recital :)

Have to share this. I shared it out on my high school reunion ning this morning and I'm just so proud of the boy I want to embed it here for those of you who might like to witness budding talent. Colin has performed this original song in public several times with his sister Miranda, the co-author, and I think it holds up quite well as a solo. I can't wait for the band version :)

Find more videos like this on Hillwood40th

Monday, October 27, 2008

Engaging Podcasting Workshop

Just finished a very nice session with some Vanderbilt community folks all about podcasting and to make the .ppt accessible as pie I'm going to embed its version right here. Audio from that class will be up at the next episode of Snacks4theBrain! by next week!

For a larger version and to download the .ppt, click on the embedded version to visit!

Thanks to all the attendees, and comment here if you have anything to ask or add!

Windows Podcasting1008
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: podcasting windows)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Real Life Experiences in Virtual Worlds" Video Archive!

I mentioned that I was tapped (at the last minute, hence my extempore performance!) to sit up front and say a few words at the Internet2 New Orleans panel on Thursday and I am pleased that there's a very nicely mounted video archive now available. I'm 'way down about 52:20 into the thing, but you can learn from my distinguished co-panelists (and watch me madly live-blogging and trying to follow along in Second Life all at the same time), if you have a few moments. It was an honor to be asked to formally participate and I'll likely grab audio from the archive for my next podcast! I only wish the first panel, on Tuesday, had been so archived!

Watch the whole "Real Life Experiences in Virtual Worlds" presentation video archive at the Internet2 Fall Meeting website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

artclectic2007 from Start to Finish

I put this up at TeacherTube and if it performs okay I'll leave it there at least during the week before artclectic2008! There's another, very much longer, video available at the USN website, but delivery mileage will vary greatly with the speed of your internet connection.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Americana Folk Festival, See You There!

et in the bucolic hills of Middle Tennessee, AFF is all about interaction...anyone who loves acoustic music will be certain to come away happy." (Performing Songwriter Magazine)
Over 30 bands on 3 stages and tickets priced at under a buck a band? The premier of a new Yazoo Brewery organic beer? Weeeheeee! I'll be there and so will my boy! I've watched the press releases for this the past few years thinking, hmmmmmm, I really should get out there. Well, now that my boy is such an accomplished player (at 12, sheesh) and we just took that fabulous tour of the Gibson factory (see yesterday's post), we'll pack up my A-5 and my Guild RNT-50 and his Epiphone Dove and drive the 30 minutes out to Montgomery Bell State Park (my childhood swimming hole of choice, btw) and do the day. I swear it!

See you there!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gibson Guitar Tour!

Flying back from the Internet2 meeting in New Orleans (see earlier posts) I drove straight to the Gibson Guitar Factory out off Elm Hill Pike in Nashville. Friend Brenda Stein, a fabulously talented woodworker artist, had organized a special tour of the facility, led by her friend Herb Jenkins, Director of Purchasing at Gibson. There were 10 or 12 of us gathered around a table in a small conference room, which we reached only after signing waivers at the guard desk and passing through a very intimidating and obviously secure metal turnstile arrangement. Colin was wearing the required safety glasses, but I got a pass on that due to my four-eyes status.

After introducing ourselves to one another, we spent probably half hour, forty-five minutes getting the overview of the Gibson guitar-building straight from Herb, who was joined by his colleague Ron Moe. The addition of Ron was just great since the upcoming long tour through the huge facility was often loud, and Ron's presence allowed us to break into two groups as we marched.

The company uses all genuine mahogany for its guitar bodies, and some maple and rosewood for some tops and fretboards. They pretty much manufacture everything but the tuning keys right there in the huge building, and over the hour that followed, we would see it all. Examples of every step of the process are in that room, and it was fascinating to see, for example, the routing work that goes on to make the originally very heavy solid body Les Paul a bit lighter, essentially a series of holes an inch or so in diameter routed out on the backside of the front body, with an 8 or so inch one inch wide curvy line also cut out of the wood. When front and back body sections are joined, those are just weight reducing air pockets inside the "solid body."

We were also fascinated by the traditional method of wrapping a yards and yards long linen rope-like piece of fabric around the front and back pieces to let them bond together in the gluing process. Here's a pic of the station where that happens.

Colin was in utter thrall, perhaps most drawn to the Flying V, the guitar he's settled on for his birthday wish (augmented by all his allowance for months now, saved to help with the purchase). Toward the end of the small picture slideshow below you'll see the 50th anniversary model that he discovered at the very last workstation, where talented final fine-tuners made them ready for packaging. We also saw some of the new Gibson Robot SG Special LTD. models, the ones with the Swiss electronics that actually automatically tune the guitar. Even watching the wrapping of electronic coils with hair-fine copper wire to create humbucker pickups was fascinating.

I didn't get many pictures, because I was afraid that if I took my cam out early I'd be so in photojournalist mode I'd miss something. And I'm glad about that: Herb took us out to the massive storage shed where the raw mahogany, straight from Central America, is stored, and then walked us all the way through the complex process, some machine-facilitated but very much of it carefully done by hand, of making thousands of guitars a day. And I heard the first positive economic news I've heard in ages: Gibson will be hiring 200 new employees soon to keep up with the high demand for their products! It seems that when the nation has the blues, they want Gibson guitars to play and sing about it.

I told Herb at one point that I own quite a few of his company's guitars, only they're in Second Life. Gibson has a robust presence in SL and gives away its guitars, a novel and effective way to battle with forgers.

I want to thank Brenda, and Herb and Ron, and especially Gibson Guitars, for the experience today. It was one I'll always remember, and so, I'm sure, will me lad! Here are all the pics!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Blog! Internet2 in New Orleans!

I can't seem to get the title of this right at coveritlive, but the gist is there. I'll correct it all from home later this week. Meanwhile, check out the liveblog from its record below, and keep in mind that I was juggling a Second Life client, chat in SL and in Skype, and trying to liveblog and figure out what I would say (Randy asked me to sit up at the panel table and join in, minutes before we went live). I had planned to ustream the thing, which in retrospect I probably should've done, since inworld folks said the I2 stream wasn't working for them, but there ya go, I didn't. Hopefully the stream will be made available for archive later, then you can see each person's informative contributions and how interested the attendees were, which was considerably.

Thanks to the I2 folks for the invite to participate. I'd never have dreamed of attending this mostly highly technical conference and I'd never have met so many wonderfully engaged and engaging technology leaders without that. Thanks to the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach, its own set of thought leaders, for funding; and thanks to University School of Nashville for allowing me ProfDev leave to attend. I didn't consult the school calendar before asking them, but I'd likely not have asked if I'd done so and realized that I have today and tomorrow and the weekend off for Fall Break!

Now it's off to home with a tour of the Gibson Guitar Factory with me boy Colin on the way home from the airport. I hope they let me take pictures and blog the tour :)

That Silly Alec Couros

has posted a teaser video for his upcoming presentation at next week's K12 Online Conference (the url at seems to be having some issues today, so you can go read pal Kevin Jarret's take on't at his blog), and the little video is hilarious. I have to share it here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Internet2 in New Orleans

It went great. I was particularly impressed with every single one of my co-presenters. You have to look and see the esteemed company I was with. I'm flattered, challenged, and humbled.

I went first, doing my best to honor the 5 minute (what happened to the 6-7 minutes we'd planned for?) but hearing that Oscar play off music in the final of my 6 minutes in the form of Ben Fineman sneaking up behind me at the podium. My slideshow is here for you (see below) and as you see I'd prepped mostly images to talk over; and though I sounded to myself somewhat deranged racing through what I'd prepped to say (I'm normally yr average drawling Southerner) the audience response was good and my panel colleagues were smiling and nodding their heads as I raged on about Second Life and its value for teaching and learning, MUVErs' nearly-ready-for-prime-time work with learning objects in Second Life, and my own upcoming work with 4th graders in Quest Atlantis.

Merrilea Mayo, Director of Future Learning Initiatives, packed her brief presentation with dramatic stats and graphs, beginning with the graph speaking to the difference between the impact potential of traditional learning institutions and practices to the impact potential of games and gaming. This is one that I hope she will share for broad distribution and I take the liberty of reproducing it from her presentation here:

Rob Rothfarb, from the Center for Learning and Teaching at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, took the podium next, and his talk centered around the work done by that group on Second Life's SciIsland, detailing in particular his group's work with the recent total eclipse of the sun, when around 150 avatars stayed for the full 5 hour experience, replicated verrrrry slowly, as in real life, in virtual space.

Margaret Corbitt, on staff at Cornell University, is another pioneer on several fronts, including the SciCentr Online Museum of Virtual Worlds. For her presentation she quickly downloaded her group's private Active-Worlds based browser on my laptop, and I'm glad to say I still have it! She mentioned the high security standards of the project during her talk and mentioned that if I wanted to continue using it I must send in a letter of request on my school's letterhead. I'm on that like a cheap suit. She showed some GREAT video of at-risk 6th graders gleefully immersed in here virtual environment, and supported Merrilea's research citations of children who were D students improving into the B range by means of their engagement in virtual environments.

Finally, friend Kathy Schrock led us, through the laptop talents of self-described "autodidactic techno artsy craftsy eclecticist" George Brett working the local Second Life interface, through an inworld powerpoint presentation detailing the history of her Nauset Public Schools teacher ProfDev work at Lighthouse Learning Island.

At the end of it all there were only a few moments for Q and A, and there were some good ones, centering around the differences in using VEs as stages for learning objects or using them as sociala networking platforms. Also there was a very nice little conversation about balance, coming from Tom (I didn't get your last name or your card) from the University of Michigan, who wonders, as many of us do, just how we can keep our lives in balance and still benefit from and participate in these brave new worlds. My response was that it's a work in progress, but we need to learn how to model the importance of balance for our students, "because there's not going to be any less information coming down the pike at them in the future."

Here's the slideshow from the few pics I've taken. I'm going to upload to Picasaweb as I go so be sure to check back.

All the presentations will be available at the Internet2 site soon. I'll post the link here when I get it. My own presentation is at Slideshare, or it should be. I left it rendering. Let me check...Ah, yesssss there it is:

New Orleans Bound!

Stay tuned for liveblogs, pics, and everything else I can manage from New Orleans over the next couple days.

From the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach's website:

Scott Merrick, Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach's Teacher-in-residence, has accepted an invitation from conference organizers to speak at this year's Internet2 membership meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference website explains that the "Fall Member Meeting will feature track sessions and demonstrations that highlight innovative uses of advanced networking for research and teaching, as well as the development and evolution of high-performance network infrastructures in support of local to global cyberinfrastructure." Merrick will share the spotlight October 14 on a panel about Virtual Worlds with Margaret Corbit, Cornell University; Ben Fineman, Internet2, Moderator; Merrilea Mayo, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Chris Melissinos, Sun Microsystems; Rob Rothfarb, Exploratorium; and Kathy Schrock, Nauset Public Schools. He will also attend sessions from the event-packed program and network with leaders in information management from all corners of the nation.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Foreigner Concert Rocks the Wildhorse!

Got a slideshow, contains some video too, just snippets! I was reluctant to go but did because me boy won tickets (THANK YOU 105.9 THE ROCK!) on the radio. Kip Winger opened with a stellar high octane solo acoustic performance that was blastin' despite just being him and his guitar. We were parked one set of tables from the stage at the front of the table and two wonderfully friendly British Columbians, playing in NashVegas while their families are up on a guided hunting trip in Kaintuck, sat just behind us at the table and sweetened the experience with great conversation.

Once lukewarm about Foreigner, I'm now a dyed-in-the-wool Foreigner fan. Mick Jones just BLAZES on lead guitar, Jeff Pilson does that hair slinging and playing-the-bass-like-a-fiddle thing like a madman, and Kelly Hanson out front gives great stage: Every other band member is energetic, accomplished and wildly entertaining. Wynona Judd came out at the end of the show to join in a couple songs, turning "Hot Blooded" into a wailing rocker far surpassing any earlier version.

We bought the new CD, a two-disk set called "The Very Best of Foreigner," and it is, and includes a medley with "Juke Box Hero/Whole Lotta Love" that I could swear channels Led Zeppelin into the room! It also includes a live performance of a historically overlooked album cut by Jones called "Starrider" that had me aching for simpler (more spacey) times in the past, and if that one channels anyone, it's probably David Bowey.

Someone bought us a big Wildhorse beerglass (who did that???) which our waitress, Shelley, delivered wordlessly, and on the way into the room we had purchased the CD, 5 dollars of the purchase going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Colin scarfed 3 guitar pics and the admiration of complete strangers who approached me as we exited with heartfelt words like "Your son is AWESOME." An accomplished guitarist already, I have to admit that he is one to watch! Look out, Foreigner!

Here's the pics! There may be more added, assuming new BC pal Margie sends along a link! Before you load it, open another tab and fire up the Foreigner website for an auto-playing soundtrack. I do believe you'll have to click on the embedded vid here to visit picasaweb slideshow for the video snippets to play. I just had to whip out the cam when Jones started wailin' on his Les Paul and I'm hoping that this post is so "newsy," the video is so grainy and the sound so "snapshotty" from my little digital still cam that nobody comes after me with a takedown notice. I'll be glad to do that upon request!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

5th Grader Dalton Sherman Tells It

At this year's Dallas Independent School District Convocation, a 5th grader spoke to the 20,000 assembled and said some things we need to be reminded of. Thank you SchoolTube for the amazing video.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Gearing Up for Internet2, New Orleans!

Hey, all,

The program is complete for the upcoming meeting of the Internet2 Special Interest Group in New Orleans, Louisiana in two weeks. I'll be there, participating in a panel called Virtual Worlds: The Future is Now. I'd like to thank the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach for sending me, University School of Nashville for supporting me with professional leave, and my family for allowing me to take 3 days away from home the week before artclectic2008!

It's a very full set of days, as a reading of the program will certainly verify. If you have anything you'd like me to consider sharing out to this prestigious conference, please comment here or contact me directly at Here's the text from the program describing my panel:

Virtual Worlds: The Future is Now
October 14, 2008, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
UTC/GMT -5 hours (CDT)
Location: Nottoway

Margaret Corbit, Cornell University
Ben Fineman, Internet2, Moderator
Chris Melissinos, Sun Microsystems
Scott Merrick, Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach
Rob Rothfarb, Exploratorium
Kathy Schrock, Nauset Public Schools

This first of two virtual worlds panel discussions sponsored by the Teaching & Learning SIG and the K20 Initiative will bring together a diverse set of speakers across several sectors including Higher Education, K12, Informal Education, and Industry to discuss the current landscape of virtual reality environments for research and education. An examination of several worlds including Second Life, Active Worlds, and Lively will reveal the unique challenges and opportunities for using these and other emerging virtual worlds within the constraints of real world goals and outcomes. The panelists will also have an opportunity to present their vision for where these virtual worlds can take us, especially combined with the power of advanced networks and technologies and the development communities in support of advanced networking.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

STEM Report Calls for Refocus in Education

Please take a minute to read a new report in T.H.E. Journal that cites some alarming statistics and calls for change. Pleased, I am, to be working on the formation of a new "Vanderbilt Institute for STEM Education," hosted out of my "other work" at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach. More information on that Institute will be available here as it unveils itself. From Dave Nagel at T.H.E. Journal:

A new report issued this week by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is calling for sweeping changes to bolster STEM education in the United States. Citing an impending shortfall in scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in this country, the report highlights the need to expose children to STEM early and to integrate these subjects throughout the curriculum, beginning as early as kindergarten.

The report, STEM Education: Achievement and Innovation, noted that while the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. job market require science and math skills, only 8 percent of the total number of degrees awarded in 2001 were in engineering, mathematics, or the physical sciences and that there's been a drop of 50 percent in undergraduate enrollments in computer sciences in the last five years. By 2010, should current trends continue, 90 percent of the world's scientists will be in Asia.

Nagel, Dave. "STEM Report Calls for Refocus in Education." T.H.E. Journal. Sept. 2008. 1105 Media, Inc. 1 Oct. 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Great Webcast Today at Technology Shopping Cart Podcast!

Host Wesley Fryer did a great job of moderating and his tweet out to Twitter alerted me to come into the discussion, which was lively and informative. His blog post minutes after the show was over allowed me to embed the video of it right here for you (and do visit his site to get backchat and links notes!). This is why I love the mashup of Web2.0 tools I've integrated into my personal learning network. I could have missed this, and I've been none the wiser...Enjoy!

Live Broadcasting by Ustream

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Entry Point for Educators!

Here's an email I sent out to my colleagues at University School of Nashville Just a minute ago. Think it'll work? If you wish, feel free to copy it to send to your own school's teachers (substitute your own example, of course), and delete the reference to helping with the resource room. Oh, heck, edit it any way you want!

If you're not in the "oh, god, how silly" camp in conversations about 3Dinternet virtual environments, and you want to investigate Second Life beginning at a safe and informative entry point, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), an 85,000 member organization with well over 3,000 of them using SL, has created a new way to enter the environment, accessible at the webpage at . I helped a bit with the design of the resources room and I'm very proud of the work ISTE's doing.

Just visit the site, follow the directions, and feel free to Search "Scottmerrick Oh" and offer him (me ;) friendship.

I dropped into ISTE island for a bit just last night and made a new friend, a teacher from New York, who has used two relatively new computer programming tools (Scratch and Storytelling Alice) with her students for years, and I'll be picking her brain as I move toward helping introduce those tools for our K12 students at USN. Whatever your professional interests, SL is a way to extend your learning about them in collaboration with teachers on a global scale.

Here's a screengrab:
Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”--Kurt Vonnegut, from "Cold Turkey"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pics from the woods

See how the brave Merrick men sought out adventure on the wooded ridgetop that backs up against our Nashville neighborhood. We saw spiders, a turtle, a deer, and an amazing "slavewall" that runs over a length of the ridge. Tired from swatting gnats and no-see-ums, we vowed to wait 'til after a couple frosts to make the journey again. Have a great week!

and (a couple days later), after we returned home we showered, but not quickly or thoroughly enough to avoid contracting serious poison ivy. Here's that:

Publish Post

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quest Atlantis is Rich and Promising

I had my first Professional Development session with Bronwyn Stuckey last night, and I'm happy to have begun my work in Quest Atlantis. The impact on my family time is sort of substantial, as balancing work(s) and my personal life is increasingly challenging. Thank goodness my wife is supportive and my son understands that my work is not 8 to 3 only. There's lots going on in our family and I need to be mindful of it always.

That said, I'm extreeeeemely impressed with QA. There is a thick thread of social commitment in my own classroom, underlying all the technology skills and understanding aquisition that it is my charge to inculcate. As I progress through my own initiation into this very nicely composed 3Di world, I can clearly see that the creators of it share my own dedication to kindness, creativity, and sharing, and do so in ways that will support students' initiation into thoughtful, intentional exploration of those themes and more.

I don't believe that anyone but the most entrenched neo-luddite could find any fault at all in this program.

Last night, just prior to the scheduled time I logged into Quest Atlantis via the shortcut the downloaded program's installation had deposited on my desktop. I also fired up Skype, having already added Bronwyn to my Skype contacts. I skyped her, but she informed me that I'd missed a direction and needed to place a call to a different specific number, which I did. It placed me in a free conference call. As we continued along the call, more people joined, as many as 14 others, I believe; and I muted my mic for the most part, relying on the QA text chat interface for asking questions and making comments.

Several of the other attendees hadde, clearly evidenced by the contrast between my stock "n00bie" white shirt and shorts and their own colorful get-ups. One must progress through the introductory quest in the program in order to have one's "avatar machine" unlocked. When it is unlocked, it remains so for only 24 hours, during which time one can experiment with one's look, from skin color, hair style, to shoes and such.

Remember I'd missed the first session. Accordingly, I laid back and listened to the discussion, led by Bron and carried on by several other attendees via voice. Peggy showed up, late (I think she'd missed the same instruction I missed (great minds think alike) and was working on both a Mac and a PC, complicating her experience. The program is cross-platform, obviously, but the Active Worlds based interface is different from the Second Life one we both are so highly familiar with. I kept holding the alt key and the up arrow to try to look closer at things, for example. I'm sure the more I work with it the more comfortable I'll get.

Anyway, I was soon very comfortable with Bron's clear direction and her kind demeanor. The two hours passed quickly, then became three as Peggy and I stayed behind to chat with her. Peggy at one point told her, "All right, I'm bringing 1400 students into here tomorrow, are you ready?" Bron laughed and said "Of course," or words to that effect.

This morning I was up early. I'm going to have to use the early a.m. time to pursue my path here, although the program seems to work fine from my laptop at school. Today I'll test one of the lab machines to make sure it can function well in the lab, and I have to admit I'm a bit concerned about the network resources that will be used if I get all 18 students in a class onworld at the same time. I'll have to 'speriment with that too, with David, our network administrator, so that I don't put undue strain on our network (parks that question for the next training session next week).

I progressed through my first few assignments, seeking out avatar/bots with information and in the process getting more and more facile with the interface, as well as its convention of indicating the North, South, East, and West coordinates in the window's toolbar. I've met the libarian, located the coffeehouse, and at this point I'm meeting mermen underwater and learning about Quest Atlantis' designers' "Learning Engagement Theory," having just speed-read an article published in the June-July 2005 issue of "Education Technology," a professional journal. The article is entitled "Eat your Vegetables and Do Your Homework: A Design-Based Investigation of Enjoyment and Meaning in Learning," by Sasha Barab, Anne Arici, and Craig Jackson from Indiana University. Very interesting stuff, and though it's "preaching to the choir" for me, I'd like to share that article with you. If I can get permission to do so, I'll so do :)

Meanwhile, it's off into a day of teaching and learning with my students. That's the primary business! I do, increasingly, believe that their journey into Quest Atlantis will be a richly rewarding one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Virtual Teaching and Learning Starts with Quest Atlantis

I'm going to begin journaling my personal experiences with Quest Atlantis here in order that I might pull out perhaps publishable bits for print later on. So stay tuned here (and I may cross-post at Oh! Virtual Learning) for that. This is an exciting time for me and I hope to share it prodigiously.

It's been interesting this past year, learning about and experiencing the powerful way that immersion into a 3 dimensional internet experience (3Di) can lead to engaged learning. Most notably, I think of Peggy Sheehy's powerful presentation at the Second Life Educational Community Conference in Tampa, a gathering about which I've already blogged, and I'd also send you to Fleep Tuque's marvelous roundup at her blog, Fleep's Deep Thoughts. Funny, I use Second Life names and "rl" (real life) names interchangeably. Fleep is Chris Collins "irl" (in real life) and Peggy is Maggie Marat. I noticed in Tampa that folks tended to lean toward addressing one another using avatar names. There's a Masters thesis in there somewhere, ya'll--the whole issue of identity extension into digital realms. Thankfully, I don't have to write it here.

Peggy is THE pioneer in leading young students into immersive learning experiences via 3Di in the Second Life Teen Grid. This is a realm I have never visited, since I've as of yet failed to hook myself into a project, a required criteria for approval for adult entry into the TG. I hope to progress into the TG, and after listening to some of the success stories at the SLEDCC, I have every faith that I will. Meanwhile, I'm beginning my foray into VE with Quest Atlantis. The journey looks promising.

Quest Atlantis is a 3Di environment that has been working with students and teachers on a global scale since 2004. The extensive website that supports the teaching and learning states "Over the last four years, more than 10,000 children on five continents have participated in the project." I was introduced to it years ago and never got around to really digging in, that is until my relatively new friend Jeff Agamenoni, a teacher of special needs middle schoolers in Great Falls, Montana, needled me to investigate it.

Jeff's another story altogether. I met Jeff in Second Life, when he sought me out to add his new blog, "From Mr. A to Mr. Z" to the ISTE Island Blogger's Hut, a facility I maintain for the International Society for Technology in Education in Second Life. His avatar, Henny Zimer (that's "zymer," with a long "y," for those audial learners in the readership). We became friends. We Skype occasionally, twitter back and forth, and generally co-explore new technologies, especially social ones, together. We share a fascination with the new ways technologies are flattening the globe, and I respect his opinions, fresh as they are with the eyes of a newcomer to the field.

First Steps

I visited the QA website. I clicked on the "Educators" tab. I checked out the Professional Development (PD) schedule, and was appalled to see that qualifying for QA participation requires teachers to spend a month learning about the platform. PD sessions run weekly, about 2 hours a week, in the evening. I immediately set about trying to perform the equivalent of "testing out" of the training, sending an email to the website managers stating my prior experience with the 3Di, my various statuses as blogger (SL blog, contributor to the "official" Second Life Education blog), and my newly hatched LLC, MUVErs, dedicated to helping education and the 3Di "play well" together.

I received a prompt and polite response that I had to do the PD.

A little huffy, I thought to myself, well, I don't have time for that. My Google calendar, by the way, is pretty much a nightmare. My lovely wife, Lee Ann, and I have weekly meetings to make sure we're on the same page about our commitments, personal, familial, and professional; and it doesn't help that process much that I have two paying jobs--one as Lower School Technology Coordinator at University School of Nashville and one as "Teacher-in-residence" at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach--and a start-up company that's currently knee-deep into high stakes negotiations with a large Mid-west America university system to help provide 3Di simulations for online learning. "NO WAY," was my thought.

Then one day last week I was inspired by an online conversation with Jeff to go look at the schedule again. I spent a bit more time at the QA website and complained to him that I'd missed the first in the September training sessions. He encouraged me to register for the rest, saying that he'd missed the first of his sessions but since it was basically introduction to VE, he was sure I could do the same. Here comes the nail in the coffin (perhaps an analogy with undue negative connotations, but such a graphic one I can't help but resort to it). I twittered a question:

Who wants to partner with me in Quest Atlantis training? 2 hours each Wed. Oops, there goes my audience, LOL
I did not expect any reply.

I went about my work irl. In a few minutes, I checked my tweets. The usual suspects had posted random, often helpful and informative thoughts, including this one.

@scottmerrick I do I do I do!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SLEDCC in Tampa

I've been neglecting my "main" blog lately due to the start of school and my amazing journey with MUVErs and the SLEDCC (Second Life Education Community Conference) in Tampa, Florida. If you're interested in that you can catch up by visiting my Second Life blog, "Oh! Virtual Learning" and the Second Life Education blog, to which I'm a contributor. The latter will be merging into the official Linden Lab blogosphere soon, and we'll see where that goes, but the carnival ride has certainly started.

I'm working on a grant proposal with my dear colleague Jennifer Ufnar at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach, one that will allow for a full 3 or 4 weeks of Web2.0forUS! sessions next summer, so stay tuned for that. The very successful one week session this past summer left all of us feeling like we needed more time, hence the call for a longer session and the quest for support to facilitate it.

I'm also working on an article with Jennifer Ragan-Fore about the ups and downs of streaming video over the internet. That issues from my experiences in Tampa and should show up in an ISTE newsletter soon. The fantastic new teacher orientation option that Linden Lab is offering via its Education Programs page is terrifically exciting. If you've been sitting back and wondering what all the hubbub about Second Life for education is, this is your chance to dive in, free of charge, to the world of the 3Dinternet. ISTE and Linden Lab are working to make it easy for educators to begin using what is essentially a powerful new way to experience the internet. Think of is as a fun new browser interface. Try it. You'll like it. If you don't get off ISTE Island for weeks you could not be better served than to spend some internet time making new friends from every part of the planet.

If you're an average joe, not a teacher, you are still welcome to enter via the new education pilot point. It's safe, fun, and learning is always a good thing...

Off to work! Have a marvelous day!!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Beloit College Mindset List

This came across my inbox today in the Second Life Education Blog, and as a parent with a child just embarking on her first year of college, it strikes me as the type of undertaking educators at ever stage of the game could stand to make tradition. Here's the quote-out from the listserv:

"Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. The List is shared with faculty and with thousands who request it each year as the school year begins, as a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation.

The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are "wired" and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

It is a multicultural, politically correct and "green" generation that has hardly noticed the threats to their privacy and has never feared the Russians and the Warsaw Pact. Students entering college for the first time this fall were generally born in 1990. For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
6. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
7. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
8. Their parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce "tax revenue increases."
9. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
10. Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.
11. All have had a relative--or known about a friend's relative--who died comfortably at home with Hospice..."

The list goes on, through 60 clever and sometimes surprising items. Visit the Beloit College Mindset List website for the complete list, and think about considering your own students in order to create your own list. Great food for thought...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pics from empyrean coffeehouse

Whilst waiting for my boy to finish his skateboarding this fine sunday afternoon, I noticed a grasshopper suctioned to the exterior window, moved up close, and snapped a pic. I twittered it with the caption, "Lieutenant Grasven! Convey to the rest of the party that I have finally located the mothership!" There is just something about the AT&T building, affectionately dubbed by locals the "Batman Building," that makes this work. Thought I'd share it with you! Happy long weekend, if you're in the States. If you're not, I hope that your country celebrates hard work in its own way :)

You'll have to click the pic to see the whole work of art (lol).

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Debt Clock

Sorry, I'm not very "political." But I do have two children who will suffer the repercussions, along with their children, if we continue to squander their futures on bad decisions. Look at this:


Nation's Finances

National Debt Clock

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kevin, oh, Kevin, is at it again!

He's one of my several idols.

Yes, I confess: I idolize educators who can manage to contribute in an ongoing way to the understanding of our profession as a positive force in the world.

Kevin Jarrett's blog post today is thought-provoking and reflective, just what I need as I work to rebound from a nasty cold. Not only that, he took the time to send me an email (interrupting my grant-writing work, but happily) to say "Smile! Your on my blog," referring to the great little pic of me with some of my new friends, posed in the midst of the Second Life Lounge at NECC2008. I'm crouching behind, from left to right, Megan Deana, Jeremy Koester, Peggy Sheehy, and Claudia L'Amoreaeux (Coreina Grace, Jeremy Braver, Maggie Marat, and Claudia Linden if you're looking for them in Second Life).

Friends among friends

Amidst all life's changes, friends endure. Kev, I'm also looking forward to the summer of 2009. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to my grant-writing!

Cheers from (finally!) rainy Tennessee!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I called my brother-in-law, Jim, last night to whine about how I'm laid low with a nasty cold, and he told me how his day had gone.

"This'll make you feel better about yours," he said.

He was running in his neighborhood and had just about finished his two-mile or so run, when he inhaled and something flew up his nose. It was a yellowjacket.


The thing started stinging him "on the fleshy part of the inside of the nostril" and he stopped, uttering a few ill-considered curse words, and started digging inside his nostril with his finger. It came out in pieces, and luckily, he got the stinger out. But, he said, "about half hour later I blew my nose and out came the thing's head."


Now, he informed me, he was looking at himself in a mirror, his lip swollen horribly and the side of his face looking like someone had hit him with a baseball bat.


I feel better (yellowjacket image from, republished here under the conditions allowed by the Wikimedia Commons).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Google's Lively "Surprisingly Lifeless"

In an an online article from the print version of The Economist, the editors lampoon Google's efforts to create a novel, browser-based 3-dimensional virtual world. It's a good, quick read with a quote by friend Kathy Schrock, and it makes some very good points, especially about there basically being "nothing to do in Lively unless you're talking to someone." The article's lead-line says it all: "Lively, Google’s virtual world, has been a flop..."

Is there hope for Lively? I'm not sure, and my crystal ball is not responding today, but if you want to learn more about it go visit the Lively website and download the application to play with. My own little Lively build is here. But you have to call a friend to ask them to join you there, unless you are happy just dangling your feet off the dock...



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Daniel Pink in Nashville

Hey ya'll.

I set up a CoverItLive blog post this a.m. in the hopes that I would be able to use it during Daniel Pink's talk to teachers at the Ensworth School inservice kick-off this a.m. I had the best of intentions.

After arriving at the Ensworth High School campus to learn I was mistaken about the location (the inservice keynote for both schools was held at the K-8 school, duh) I trucked on in toward downtown and got into the talk just about 8 minutes into the presentation. There, before me, in the Ensworth School "Frist Hall," were a few hundred teachers in rows of chairs with Pink dwarfed by a good sized projector screen bearing his powerpoint. There was--I promise I'm not making this up--a single seat left at the far right of the backmost row. I sat.

As far as I could see, there was not a laptop open in the room. That discouraged me from pulling mine out, as well as the educated guess that if there were a wireless internet connection connecting to it would be more hassle than breeze. So I did manage to fire up my trusty Dell Axim and hit the "record" button. I don't know yet if I'll use any of the audio but it'll serve to help me recall just a few key points I want to share out.

For anyone not paying attention yet, Pink's book A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future, is certainly in the runnin--along with Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations--for the techbuzzbook of the year. If I heard either of those titles cited in a conversation or presentation at this summer's NECC2008 once, I heard them cited dozens of times.

I haven't seen Shirky yet, though I will (I did share his TED Talk with my Web20forUS! workshop participants earlier this summer). But I had to encroach on my (and my family's) last day of summer before our own inservice tomorrow and go see this man. My bottom-line recommendation? You do the same if you have a chance.

Pink, an economist by training and a writer by inclination and talent, brings a unique self-admitted left-brain perspective to his prediction that right-brainers will forge the economies of the future. The key foundation of his theory is that education designed for "Routines, Right Answers, and Standardization" is insufficient to prepare today's learners for a future economy whose defining contexts will be "Novelty, Nuance, and Customization." In great detail, he explained from his economic perspective how "Routine" will no longer be of value to future citizens of America, and that "that kind of work is disappearing from America. It races to the cheapest cost provider."

Pink projected beyond the phenomenon of mid-level routine white collar outsourcing (citing a NYTimes article from this very morning) to its racing through India, its current repository/provider, down to other cultures--Malaysia, Vietnam, the Phillipines. He painted a picture of the future informed by Google's recent declaration that their ideal employee may be a "non-routine savant." Here's the reference Pink drew from; here's what Google's looking for now (an important qualifier, that word, "now"), workers with:

... analytical reasoning. Google is a data-driven, analytic company. When an issue arises or a decision needs to be made, we start with data. That means we can talk about what we know, instead of what we think we know.

... communication skills. Marshalling and understanding the available evidence isn't useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions.

... a willingness to experiment.
Non-routine problems call for non-routine solutions and there is no formula for success. A well-designed experiment calls for a range of treatments, explicit control groups, and careful post-treatment analysis. Sometimes an experiment kills off a pet theory, so you need a willingness to accept the evidence even if you don't like it.

[who are] team players. Virtually every project at Google is run by a small team. People need to work well together and perform up to the team's expectations.

... passion and leadership.
This could be professional or in other life experiences: learning languages or saving forests, for example. The main thing, to paraphrase Mr. Drucker, is to be motivated by a sense of importance about what you do.

Rosenburg, Jonathan (2008, July 15). Our Googley advice to students: Major in learning. The Official Google Blog, Retrieved 2008, August 12, from

Lest you feel the talk was just a matter of pointing out problems without offering suggestions for solving them, I must add the bullet points Pink worked from toward the end of his talk:

  • Experiment with new metrics (seek out ways to measure what is important, not just what is easy to measure)
  • Tear down walls (between academic disciplines)
  • Multi- (...task, ...disciplinary, ...cultural, ...everything)
  • Infuse Arts Education throughout all curricula
  • Get real about STEM (not routine, real--multi- and artistic)
  • Promote and defend autonomy (for innovation without catering to the past)
There's much more, of course, to Daniel Pink's talk, and I won't attempt to summarize it all here. Suffice it to say that A Whole New Mind is on my reading list. I hope you add it to yours.

Cheers from Nashville, with thanks to the administration at Ensworth School for having the foresight to assign this text to their teachers. What remains to be done by the teachers will bear watching: Pink spent some time exhorting them to experiment, citing the independent school's unique position out of the constraints of public education bureaucratic policies as key to their potential for change. I'm not sure that particular school is one that will be leading it, for a number of reasons. I'm not even sure my own independent school, a school with a very different history and philosophy of multiculturality and inclusion, is ready to embrace change on the scale Pink encourages.

Whomever leads it, change must come. Comments?


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