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Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Not Too Early to Think About Summer!

Cold and damp as it is in Nashville this mornin', I'm hoping that some portion of my 5 readers (just kidding--see the Clustrmap in the sidebar!) may be thinking about summer :)

I am offering four one-week workshops this summer, all of which are detailed in the "Web 2.0 for Us" wiki and three of which are still available for booking at your school. At the wiki, I describe the workshops pretty completely, so I won't repeat myself here. Isn't that refreshing?



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

David Jakes' Tech Learning Blogpost--Frustration!

For a really nice example of how blogs can spur discussion, I discovered a recent David Jakes post at the Technology and Learning blogsite. Returning there to look for it today for shareshare, I couldn't find it. I googled me man David (whom its been my pleasure to meet on a couple occasions at conferences) and found his new blog, "The Strength of Weak Ties," with the post I was looking for: "Under Construction."

In it, Jakes, a prolific proponent for Web 2.0, says, "The idea that teachers should build Web pages doesn’t work, and it’s a classic and representative example of why technology has not delivered on its potential in schools. Here are my top five reasons for this failure, and the failure of technology to alter the learning landscape…" He goes on to list and explain those five reasons, which include:

* Reason 1: Using technology to create and support learning opportunities in most
schools is not considered mission-critical.
* Reason 2: Most administrators have failed to understand technology and how it
applies to the learning process on the most fundamental level.
* Reason 3: Schools have not provided teachers with the proper tool(s),
infrastructure, or support to get the job done.
* Reason 4: Teachers are too comfortable.
* Reason 5: Teachers have not seen the benefit.

I highly recommend the read, especially for readers who are technology coordinators or curriculum experts. Most importantly, read the comments. It's an excellent example (is that redundant?) of how a blog can spur thinking and conversation amongst parties interested in the topic.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Speaking of Open Source, Speaking of Science:

Via my good tweet @cmduke, a very interesting revelation from our pals over at about how that little mom and pop storefront enterprise, Google, will be hosting "Terabytes Open Source Scientific Data" at their beta site. Read all about it!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Learning and Leading with Technology comment published

My reply to comments on the topic, "Is Chatspeak Destroying English?" was published in this month's Learning and Leading with Technology, a print magazine that goes out to the 85,000plus members of ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education. I don't often respond to the occasional calls for comment, but I felt pretty strongly about this one. (Possibly mis-)Quoting David Warlick, "Our students are communicating competently with the tools that are part of their daily lives. We take those tools away as they enter our schools. What's wrong with this? Everything."

From Learning & Leading with Technology February 2008

I wrote:
No More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll

The fact that modern digital communicants
utilize chatspeak is no more
destroying English than rock ‘n’ roll
destroyed music (though rap may
yet--LOL). Savvy humans nuance
their language style according to its
effectiveness, and I’d wager that formal
English will always have its place (Probs).
Scott Merrick
University School of Nashville and
Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach

Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cape Town Open Education Declaration--Revolutionary!

Checking my Twitter this morning, I was directed to a "2cents Worth" blogpost by David Warlick in which he promotes the recent "Cape Town Open Education Declaration," an outgrowth of "a small but lively meeting convened in Cape Town in September 2007. The aim of this meeting was to accelerate efforts to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices in education."

I took the time to read the Declaration, and I hope that you will too. If you are an educator who is reading my blog, I'd dare say you'll be heading on over to the "Sign the Declaration" page and joining the (as of my signature's addition) 687 educators and organizations who have signed. I truly believe that this document provides the best statement of purpose for the myriad interests that become a passion for me. I'm always saying "it's all about the shareshare" for me. The Declaration sums up the reasons I have for that philosophy, and does so in ways I have as yet been unable to articulate.

I'm running 9 ways to Sunday here at work this morning, but I do want to share some of the examples the website offers as open education initiatives already in place. Do any of these interest you? If so, check them out.

CC Learn
Centre for Open and Sustainable Learning
Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)
OER Commons
Free High School Science Texts
MIT Open Courseware
Open Courseware Consortium

Finally, I'd like to propose a revolutionary notion: Any institution not actively and intentionally contributing to Open Education is well liable to be left behind in the none too distant future. I sugggest that educational organizations officialize an "Open Learning Policy," with a director (or whateveryoumaycallit0 facilitating its development. Last one in the pool is a rotten egg...

[Later] Looks like the state of Florida wants to swim! Read Florida adopts open-content reading platform State officials add to their approved list of reading curriculum resources from eSchool News!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

OLPC XO Laptop

I was catching up on my RSS feeds via Netvibes (though I'm going to be installing NetDaemon to try that soon) and visiting five particular sites this morning to announce their position as options for the featured Blog of the month at ISTE Island in Second Life (if you understand none of the above just keep reading and ignore it all :)), and I was enjoying Lucie DeLaBruere's post at the Infinite Thinking Machine blog, about the One Laptop per Child OX Laptop and its implications for education--beyond the obvious globe-flattening ones. I had to post a comment, in which you can read that there are four of these in our school, currently being "taken around the block" by our USN tech team.

What each of us will do with the results of our explorations of this revolutionary little device remains to be seen. I for one plan to ponder some kind of Web 2.0 research project about the program and the laptop: The altruistic motivations behind its creation and distribution hold too ripe a set of discussion opportunities to allow it to go unused for that. I'd appreciate any other comments here about what you think about OLPC. Meanwhile, here's my response to Chris's post...

Hey Lucie,

My tech director bought one for each of our three division's tech coordinators, and I'm carrying mine around. I think a few things--one that it's an amazing conversation starter, bright green and so ultimately geeky--in that way it's a viral messaging device for word about OLPC and the revolutionary altruistic motivations behind its creation. I also think that it's going to drive innovation and "digital divide" leveling even in this country--we already see Asus and Apple and Intel who knows who all else bringing out lower cost, lean-operating-system and hardware mobile devices: Once bugs are out of these you'll see schools adopting them without the deal-breaker fiscal objections that come with current laptop programs. Finally (or not), you're right--anyone who gets that they're for children will understand that this program will be groundchanging. Just google "OLPC" and "Peru" and read the post there--'nuff said about that.

My 12 year old found more functionality and excitement in 30 minutes than I have in the two plus hours I've had so far to play with it. It's like a bright green easter egg for a child with an exploring mind and unspoiled preconceptions!

Cheers, and send your readers who may be in Second Life to the Bogger's Hut on ISTE Island--ITM is one of five nominees for the RSS feed feature for February there. Voting is over at, oh, noon on the last day of January!

Cheerio! And thanks for such consistently great shareshare!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This looks like a most interesting day of networking with other podcasters here in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm planning to to see what I make of it. Anybody else interested in attanding? Click the image to check the "unconference" out!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Great Read on Teaching, Learning, and Brain Development

Via the Global Citizenship in a Virtual World blog:

"EDUCATION: Education, like the culture it subsumes, is a conservative phenomenon. Science and technology move rapidly, but education doesn't. So if schools often resemble the schools of 50 years ago, that should not be surprising. Parents remember their school experiences, and since they survived them, they are typically leery about educators experimenting with their children. This explains in part why schools have not incorporated many of the recent developments in neuroscience and cognitive psychology."

Alvaro Fernandez interviews Robert Sylvester on brain development and its relationship to what we teachers are teaching and our learners are learning...

Read it all.

Check out The Adolescent Brain: Reaching for Autonomy, by Robert Sylvester

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Catching Up

Or not. I'm actually finally getting to my Netvibes after a very busy day at work and then at home. I've been treated in the last 15 minutes to (via Netvibes) David Warlick's opinion-challenging commentary on pedagogy and Alex Courosa's (via Twitter) provocative slides for his Web 2.0 pressie. I love, btw, David's occasional typos and grammatical boo-foos: They remind me 1) that he's in the moment when he posts and 2) that he's human--the man works 'way harder than anyone should have to...

The conversation is about the value of pedagogy, or what Clay Burell calls "schooliness" in the service of learning. What do you think? Be bold. Talk to us...

Here's Alex's slideshow:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wireless success with XO!!!

Hey all,

My fingertips are a a bit too pudgy for this little keyboard, I can tell you right now, but hitting the wireless at the Acorn restaurant bar was seamless. I read a nice OLPC reply to a picky Economist review today and when I get time later I'll link to it here!

Mo' L8r!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Image Chef Play

Playing around with Image Chef (thanks, KJ and Riptide Furse, two of my favorite twitter tweets!). Not sure yet what all it's good for but I just love learning all these new fun ways to express one's feelings. My first effort?: - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

and - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Online Photo Sharing in Plain English

This is no scoop--it's been blogged about several times already since its release yesterday, but I want to include it here partly as a reference for myself and partly as a reminder to add it to my reservoir of resources for a summer teacher workshop I'm offering for the upcoming summer. More about that later, but if you want to see where my mind (and my summer) is headed, visit the Scottweb2.0 wiki at

The folks at Commoncraft, already to be thanked for video releases on topics like social networking, wikis, blogs, and rss feeds, have done it again; they've made a tidy little animated video about a Web 2.0 tool and released it several places so that it can provide learning in a very viral way. I'm about to infect you :) From TeacherTube:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

XO Laptop Musings

Despite my spotty rep as a technology wiz (I know several certified wizzes, one who is actually named "Wiz," and I can't hold a candle to any of 'em), I'm feeling like a nOOb supreme each time I fire up the "buy two get one" XO laptop (pic courtesy that fell into my hands like a gift from the heavens today. I've turned it on three times now, a lot considering how busy my lab was today, with K-4 students blogging about their winter holidays!

I am cheered by my son's response to the machine--clearly it's attractive, and in the middle of his 6th grade homework hell (don't get me started) when I was showing it to him and said that I didn't know how to do a particular task on it, he said, "I'll find it..."

That's what we want, and what we strive for, ya'll. Empowered, curious, challenged-by-a-challenge young students who confident in the face of confusion (not buried-in-map-coloring-homework-and-redundant-math-drill frustrated ones). Something tells me there's to be more confusion in our world, sooner than later, and the better and more adaptable our children are at flexible learning, the better.

Why did I start this post? Oh, yeah, it was to shareshare a brief article about early OLPC deployment in Uruguay. You must read it! Now, let me jerk your head around a bit. Take a gander at this Business Week article on Intel's dumping of the project, posted only 6 hours ago... It's certainly not a simple concept, that Negroponte quest...

I'm sooooo glad to have one in hand, though, and thanks to my Tech Director, Kathy Wieczerza, or 'Wiz,' for supporting this team exploration of the XO laptop!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy New Year--It's Gonna Be a Good One!

Been spending little time online this week, much time painting a sorely needful room in our house, the extra one over the garage we call "the wii room" for what I hope are obvious reasons. Much time hanging out with my wife and daughter and missing my son, who's in Colorado learning how to snowboard with his cousin and his "other family;" a bit of time fleshing out and publishing an all-indie-music Snacks4theBrain!; and a tad bit just relaxing and reading and movie viewing.

Reading: WIRED Magazine, "David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music" and All the Pretty Horses, the first of Cormac McCarthy's "Border Trilogy."

Byrne and Yorke summarize nicely the changes which the bizness of music has seen and break down a musician's options for earning a living into a tidy set of five options. Certainly worth a read for anyone participating in the field in any way.

McCarthy's this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction, and there's a reason why. My wife and I went to see the movie "No Country for Old Men," (wheeeeeeeeew) and I just had to experience more of this author's perspectives on the American West. I feel our children are missing out on the rich narrative experience this topic has to offer, btw, much because of the media's general confusion over the historical nightmare that was our Eurocentric ancestors' genocidal treatment of Native Americans--sigh. I really enjoy a good Western, whether it's movie, fiction, or history. Another great writer in the field, just as a li'l bonus for ye, is Elmore Leonard, whose sort of "greatest hits" short story collection came out in 2004 and which I discovered after viewing the fab movie "3:10 to Yuma" last year.

Cinema: We took on "I am Legend" yesterday, and I'm glad we did so on the big screen. I really enjoyed Will Smith's tour de force, though I'm not sure all the Oscar talk is on target (and not sure why I'm not sure). On the small screen we watched "Waitress" last night and that's more up my alley, quirky love story that it is, with a nicely optimistic ending that isn't schmaltzily predictable (maybe that's part of my issue with Legend). And we watched "Rescue Dawn" earlier in the week, a movie that was absolutely great until the throwaway "war-movie-turned-sports-movie" ending. We've also started the DVD collection of "Dexter," the not-for-the-faint-of-heart Showtime series about a serial killer who only kills people who need killing (now there's an ethical-dilemma-filled theme for you). Michael C. Hall did such wonderful work in "Six Feet Under" and seeing him in a very different role in Dexter is a treat.

I also spent a little time to put up a brief video tour of the Blogger's Hut at ISTE Island in Second Life. You can see that at my SL blog.

Well there it is, my version of the annual family letter.

I guess all this leads me to say that I've realllllllllly enjoyed my week of down time over the Winter Holidays, at times actually thinking how nice it would be to be this uncommitted to work schedule all the time, as in "retirement." Since that's not an option, mainly for financial reasons, I'll be back at school Monday (at Vanderbilt, where I'm helping friend Cathy Walker with her workshop session at an Arkansas teacher conference, popping into Second Life for a brief tour of ISTE Island--then trying to firm up plans for three weeks of teacher-teaching Web 2.0 in the summer). Then on Tuesday I'll re-greet my 3rd graders bright and early with a fresh set of plans for the remainder of the winter and spring. Life(s) is good, ya'll.

Hold close to what you love, and may it love you back.


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