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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Web 2.0 Smackdown with Vicki Davis at Edubloggercon!

Just *(5 min. ago) finished helping out a fantastic fun session with Vicki Davis ( that allowed volunteers to share out one favorite Web 2.0 tool in no more than 3 minutes. What fun!

Best part is that we archived it. I have to remind myself to get a cam with a tripod mount! I held my Logitech 9000Pro webcam and moved it about for the whole hour as the ustream went out to as many as 59 concurrent offsite viewers over the hour.

The stream we hijacked for this was from EdTechTalk, but the running archive that sorceress Vicki whipped up during that hour is so impressive you simply must view the video at its edubloggercon location, so that you can dip into some of the "speed-dating style" shareshare. What FUN!

NECC 2008 Preconference Pics!

The ustream video on this page was shared out real-time during the session and had, at peak participation, 18 remote viewers. One was Clif Mims, who was sitting right next to me in person, so maybe don't count that one :)If it doesn't load for you visit this link for it!

The conference is starting off very promisingly! Edubloggercon began with my meeting many of my twitter and blogging colleagues whom I'd only previously known online. My co-presenters for Monday's session were mostly there, and I made some contacts I particularly cherish, including Alice Mercer, Dean Grooms, Fred Delventhal, and Terra Sieberman ("Louise Borgnine")--I got real-life hugs from folks I'd only texted them to before. This is a fabulous experience.

A couple highnotes, Scott Swanson approaching me telling me "Dude! You're quoted on the poster!"

Terra seeking me out to deliver a membership ribbon that says, simply "Rock Star." This is because I'll be onstage with the live band during the reception tomorrow night, "being" the guitarist in the band onstage in Second Life. Life(s) is good.

I have audio, I have video, and stay tuned, because I'm not afraid to use it!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Evening at NECC2008

In town, when I finally got it together to start contacting folks, I found Peggy Sheehy and Keisha Ray, two colleagues and friends I thought should know one another. I met Keisha shopping with her friends Kelly and Molly and Keish and I broke off to go to Dick's Last Resort for a tasty beverage and a chat. The bartender there told me that he wanted to start teaching guitar in Second Life. I think that's a great idea!

Peggy joined us, and what's more, she brought Bernajean Porter, she of the digital storytelling fame and celebrity. Note, if you will, her inclusion in the Wikipedia entry on the topic...

I'm a bad podcaster, I guess. But though I did think about asking permission to record the conversations, I did not. You simply have to take my word when I say that putting those folks together was the best thing I've done in a while. Keisha, Metro Nashville Public Schools' Assistant Superintendent for Grants and Programs, wasn't aware of Peggy's pioneering work in Second Life, or really about Bernajean's firebrand approach to the power of digital storytelling and her embrace of that virtual world platform as one more way to help students gain skills to share with the world the stories they have to tell. She is now, by gosh, and I am moreso by virtue of being a witness to the animated discussion at the table.

Bernajean's about to unleash a project encouraging teachers to share stories of how they've made a difference in their students' lives. You'll be hearing a lot more about this, so keep an ear out. It was such a joy to meet her that I'm feeling blessed tonight.

And blessed also to finally meet in real life my good friend Cathy Walker, Arkansas technology teacher and a long time collaborator in Second Life. Cathy (padlurowncanoe Dibou in SL) is orchestrating the inworld audio stream we'll use to deliver audio from our SLedupotential workshop here Monday to attendees in Second Life. She's also a stunningly smart woman and a kind person and it was amazing to meet her. I'm looking forward to working with her more this week and in the future. the chemistry between Cathy and Keisha extended my own appreciation of the night, and it was further enhanced by the joining of others, including John Miller, Marianne Malstrom, and several other fun folks. We all headed over to Mad Dogs Pub for dinner and more chat. A great start to an exciting week of conversation and learning! The real work starts tomorrow, as I spend from 8 to 5 in edubloggercon! This work, tonight, falls in the category of networking and learning. Well done, I say.

The Conference Center Lab's (mostly) Set Up!

and I popped into the as-yet-not-completed registration area and took a couple pics. Then (thanks LA:) I went over to the ISTE membership pavilion and THERE I WAS!

See that avatar flying over my head, right over the ISTE BOOKS sign? That's MEEEE (or rather, that's Scottmerrick Oh, my Second Life "me." I hope to ship that sucker home at the end of the conference :)

Arrived Safely at NECC, Now in the Conference Center, Room 006D

, where I will be installing Second Life on the 31 computers in the room. Looks like I need to wait on my contact for the installation since I don't have the perms to do it without a password. Good security, bad scottvenience :)

I met Barbara Conover on the flight (she'd been at it since 3 in the morning from Philadelphia), who's Project Manager for the Center for Visualization at St. Joseph's University. She's managing a huge CSTA pre-conference in the building tomorrow, geared around the Alice Project. Very much a lagniappe meeting, since I'm planning to use Alice, a 3d modeling software, with my older elementary kids next week. SEE!? I've already learned something!!! This is gonna be AWESOME!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What I'm Reading: "Hold Everything Dear" by John Berger

An interesting little tome I picked up off the Nashville Public Library "New Arrivals" shelf, its addition to my information diet has been refreshing--in a disturbing but satisfying way. It's Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance by John Berger.

Berger is a globally prominent activist who is concerned with media, blind power, proletariat struggle, and the rift between the humanity of the haves and the have-nots. This collection of very brief essays, all written over the course of the past six years, attempts to make sense of topics like despair and the terrorism it spawns. Digesting this book, savoring its prose, I've read views I've rarely seen espoused in our culture, views which nonetheless strike chords of truth. I'm sure Berger would be among the first to encourage the reader to exercise skepticism, but his prose is seductive, his analogies convincing.

A sampling of essay titles might say more:

  • "War Against Terrorism or Terrorist War?"
  • "Let Us Think About Fear"
  • "The Chorus in Our Heads or Pier Paolo Pasolini"
  • "Flesh and Speeches"
  • and
  • "Ten Dispatches About Place"

These essays are not for the smug. They firmly encourage one to reflect outside the box that our omni-pervasive media wash us into in such unremitting ways. The thoughts therein may drive one to activism, in fact. I jokingly told my wife that if I disappear it's because the powers-that-be discovered I had checked out this book from the library. Here's a quick quote from "The Chorus in Our Heads..." that might offer a taste of Berger's perspectives. He lovingly describes the long-suppressed film, La Rabbia (Italian for "The Rage"), crafted by Pasolini from television footage and narrated by two voices that serve in roles like those of the classic Greek Chorus :

"The film lasts only an hour, an hour that was fashioned, measured, edited forty years ago. And it is in such contrast to the news commentaries we watch and the information fed to us now, that when the hour is over, you tell yourself that it is not only animal and plant species which are being destroyed or made extinct today, but also set after set of our human priorities. The latter are systematically sprayed not with pesticides, but with ethicides -- agents that kill ethics and therefore any notion of history and justice."

Berger, John. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance. 1. United States: Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2007.

Yup, it's true, in some ways I'll be glad to have finished and returned this book to its shelf. But its messages, and in particular its balanced and concerned treatment of the underlying causes of terrorism--both state-enacted and personally-fomented--will stay with me, both steeling me against hatred in its many guises and reminding me of the humanity of those who commit the most heinous atrocities against others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Virtual NECCers!

Hey, ya'll,

Knee-deep, I am, working on a myriad of tasks toward being ready for NECC2008 in San Antonio. If you're gonna be there, look me up. I'll be hanging out at Edubloggercon all day Saturday, then you can expect to see me around the fine folks who are the core corps of the ISTE Second Life initiatives.

For my dear readers and colleagues who cannot travel to the fair state of Texas for NECC, I just created a ning group at for you all. I think this might just catch on, so get in on it early and participate enthusiastically! I'm not sure how much I'll be around, so it's up to you to move the conversation around and make the group what you want and need it to be.

Tell 'em I sent ya!

Cheers from Nashville!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Great Nuevo Mexican Meal!

We want to thank Carmen Porras, owner of El Arrayan, the amazing little gem on a hillside in Puerto Vallarta, for her hospitality last evening when we partook of one of the most wonderful meals in recent memory at her restaurant. There's a website, but if you really want a good meal, and you're anywhere within a hundred mile radius of this place, you really have to visit!

We'll be back in the states late tomorrow, Saturday the 14th and we'll carry with us some extraordinary memories. There's a growing flickr stream which I'll tag and describe over the next week or so!

I hope you're having as wonderful a summer as mine is starting off to be!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A "Broader, Bolder Approach" to Public Education

Pedro Noguera from the Huffington Post reports on a new and diversely supported initiative to challenge No Child Left Behind and supplant its broadly criticized demands with a "Broader, Bolder Approach" to public education. Thanks to Will Richardson's tweets :) for this one.

Noguera begins,

A new task force of national policy experts with diverse religious and political affiliations, in public policy fields including education, social welfare, health, housing, and civil rights today launched a campaign calling for a "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" to break a decades-long cycle of reform efforts that promised much and have achieved far too little.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

There Goes Everybody

This is my last post about Here Comes Everybody. At least until I read it again. In a couple days I'm off to Puerta Vallarta with the family for a good long relaxing beach time. I'll take with me Cities of the Plain, Cormac McCarthy's closer for his Border Trilogy, the set that started with All the Pretty Horses. I'll also have Madeleine Levine's The Price of Privilege. And I'll be taking my mandolin and my sketchpad. Life(s) is good.

So I finished Everybody today, sitting in the dentist office whilst my son was getting his teeth cleaned and a clean bill of "no cavities," savoring the Acknowledgments after consuming the Epilogue. I urgently recommend this tome to anyone interested in teaching and learning and/or the ways our lives are being changed by technology. I'm gonna paraphrase an analogy, and I'll probably blow it, but Shirky put up a nice explanation of our journey through Web 2.0 as more of a kayak ride than any kind of more controllable trip. We can have control only of whether we can remain upright as we negotiate it--not the direction, not the speed, not the obstacles we encounter--only whether we can maintain balance. I like that. Read the book.

That is all. I'll send links to a flickr album from vacation. That's kinda funny, you know: My very first blogging experience was a blog I created to document a trip to Japan in 2002. It was my "entrance drug" and it still exists. I like to think that every once in a while someone stumbles upon it, enjoys my writing, and swears they'll visit that excellent nation.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Singular Vision for a Disparate Article for You

I have to share this (no, it's not my ISTE member profile feature finally online!), an article projecting the higher education classroom of 2035. It's rather densely written, stylistically speaking, but it has some things to say that you need to hear, if, that is, you care about the future of education, teaching and learning. Here's a little sample:

Similarly, the idea of campus-based learning communities will continue to cede ground to distributed immersive models in which a larger percentage of students' time-on-task is spent engaged in participatory knowledge creation across networks of dispersed learners and learning communities (Foreman 2007; New Media Consortium 2008). The most engaging content will be online and will build on trends in virtual worlds (Exhibit 1), gaming (Exhibit 2), and personal feedback (Exhibit 3) (van Dam, Becker, and Simpson 2005). Today’s Web feed protocols (Exhibit 4) are forerunners of a comprehensive data network that will provide learners with a continuous and personalized stream of information and perspectives.

Read A Singular Vision for a Disparate Future: Technology Adoption Patterns in Higher Learning Through 2035. If you haven't registered, you should. Doesn't cost a nickel...


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