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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thanks Jeff Utecht and Shaun McElroy

Today friend Jeff Utecht twittered an announcement of a new blogpost at his U Tech Tips blog, actually posted by Shaun McElroy. Here's a bit of Shaun's post:

Dr. Randy Pausch, of the computer science world died this week of pancreatic cancer. He knew we was going to die and he was asked to give on last lecture. This was captured on YouTube. And later Randy expanded his ideas in a book, called The Last Lecture.

and here's a link to the U Tech Tips post with the 1 hour plus video. I'm watching it as I type this. Whatever you are doing, you should go watch and listen. Really...

Adding this later: Aaron E. Walsh, from, sent out a brief notice to that international "Immersive Education" group which in part said,

Randy spearheaded the development of Alice, an educational 3D/VR programming environment that will soon become a key tool in the growing Immersive Education toolkit, which many of us recall from the Boston Digital Media Summit this past January (Luke Nagel gave a hands-on demonstration of Alice in the labs at the Summit). Although many in the 3D/VR community will remember Randy because of Alice, his last lecture and the message he carried following his diagnosis will surely be remembered by many more and far longer. Aaron
Aaron E. Walsh :

from an email dated 072608

Friday, July 25, 2008

Me for President?

Okay, I'm guilty:

Watch this at the news channel's website with accompanying stories.

Snacks4theBrain! an iTunes Featured Science Podcast!!

Well it only took 72 episodes of Snacks4theBrain! to land it on the front page at iTunes U in the "Featured" category when one searches the term "Science." Yayyyyyyy! though! That will hopefully drive more traffic to the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach to gain more attention for their untiring work to further science and math teaching and learning in our world.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wow, Chatting with Steve Hargadon Today Was Stellar!

In my workshop today, the one-week thingie I have created and promoted to give teachers time to explore and learn about the Read/Write Web, we chatted with Classroom 2.0 creator Steve Hargadon via Skype for over 20 minutes. Early in the day I noticed Steve on Skype and asked him if he could pop in to help us understand his huuuuuuuuge ning, which any moment now will achieve its 10,000th member.

I just checked. Having converted the nearly 1 Gb .mov file my Kodak cam recorded to a smaller (42 or so Mb) .mov file for the internet, it's housed at Classroom 2.0. View it now!

Check out our wiki for lots of fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Having a blast with Web2.0forUS! workshop

I just want to say how freakin' fun it is to spend time with 6 heretofore complete strangers, dedicated public school teachers all, who are now colleagues-in-teaching and to have the wonderful Caroline Blackwell, our school's Director of Multicultural Affairs, join us today. We spent some serious time expanding our awareness of Web 2.0 tools and had further time to explore on our own as I multi-tasked up front and shared video from David Warlick and Clay Shirky. Life(s) is good.

All of it is chronicled at the workshop's wiki, so keep up, pilgrim, if you're interested. If you want to know more about how to bring this experience (or at least one like it :) to your school or district, see the Web2.0forUS! wiki.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gerry Calhoun Clarifies "Big Oil Tax Giveaways"

My father-in-law, Gerry Calhoun, soon to become a prolific voice in the energy debate through a blog I'm setting up for him, sometimes serves in a role for me that Will Richardson categorizes as "pushback." I don't always find myself convinced by his sometimes ultra-conservative opinions (he's a Reagan devotee and not at all in the Energy Crisis camp), but I cannot but be impressed by his long career in the oil business, from his days as an early wildcatter to his current status as a retired prospector who cannot seem to get out of the business because his innovative methods of searching for oil keep drumming up business for him.

He published, on July 9, in the Nashville, Tennessean, a brief explanation that is worth a read. I don't faithfully read the (freely delivered--"complimentary-subscribed" to bolster the lagging print newspaper's circulation stats) news stats; but people keep coming up to me and saying things like "Wow, your father-in-law is really knowledgeable." So I want to reprint it now.

Unfortunately I can't, since in an effort to sequester information for sale to protect its profits, the Tennessean has relegated it to it's fee-based "archives."

Citizen-journalist that I am, I can publish excerpts, however; and I'm going to paste in a long bit from the archive copy I purchased right here, with elipses marking parts I edit out, with the caveat that I believe our own best hope lies not in domestic drilling or even exploration, but in rapid adoption of alternative energy sources, per Al Gore's moving challenge at The article is copyrighted, per its citation below, but I share out this excerpt as a news item and in the service of education, as well as a link to the search results page where you may purchase the full article:

July 9, 2008

Government needs to encourage, not punish, domestic oil industry
By GERRY CALHOUN Tennessee Voices Frequent references in print to "tax giveaways" for Big Oil demand factual clarification. With "tax breaks," the oil industry divides into two distinct groups. Group one, the independent companies, drill 90 percent of onshore domestic wells...Group two includes companies mistakenly called "Big Oil" — ExxonMobil, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, etc. The tax breaks so condemned in the media apply almost entirely to group one, not group two. The geological and geophysical exemption allows independents to deduct the costs of wages, seismic surveys and other techniques essential to the search for petroleum. Such practices are common to all other industries as research-and-development expenses...These costs are tax-deductible within two years of expenditure, as is the case in all other businesses. These deductions are not available for international oil companies...Two conclusions emerge from this analysis: 1) Incentives for independents to find urgently needed energy here at home do not benefit the major oil companies; and 2) the incentives offered to independent companies are shared by virtually every other domestic industry, most of which do not incur the level of risk faced every day by oil explorers. At this crucial time, why penalize the very businesses that give us a measure of energy security? ...The next Congress and president would be wise to encourage, not punish, the domestic oil industry and to realize that our international companies deserve the resources needed to sustain our future needs. As for Big Oil tax giveaways? Think, urban legend.

Copyright (c) The Tennessean. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

Friday, July 18, 2008

KZOwebcasting NECC 2008!!!

Thanks again to Twitter, and to kpruitt in particular, for leading me this morning to the website. Like many others at NECC2008 in San Antonio, Texas, I missed a lot of sessions I really wanted to make. This site makes it possible for me to be there, albeit asynchronously. I'll be pointing my folks at my week-long Web2.0 for Us! workshop next week to this site, and may even use some of our precious time together to view these together using the kzowebcasting interface. Yay!

What if I form a "club" to visit these videocasts on a weekly or monthly basis with a group of my colleagues at my school over a cup of coffee or a local brew so that they can benefit from experiencing them the way that I now get to?

See my earlier post about how I actually spent my time at NECC!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Fawn at Dusk

I'm sitting by the same window out of which my children and I watched a yearling feeding just last evening, and thinking that a gentle surcease of intensity is just what's needed at the moment. So as a little gift, here's my brief slideshow of the moment last night:

My boy and I are driving home this morning, back to a week of summertime at home, after having breakfast with his sister, who's working at a nearby family community kidsitting for the rest of the week. It's beautiful up here, and it makes me wonder if someday my love and I might have some woodsy place to call haven. It would have to have a pond stocked with lake trout and catfish, though, now wouldn't it...

I wish you all the love and restful reflection you can manage to eek out of the pressures of work and other necessity.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

NECC 2008 Resources and Commentary

Cross-posting from Oh! Second Life, my Second Life blog:

Wow, it's been like a week since I posted anything here. Some kinda record.
I'm firing my laptop at my home office stepmachine station and working out to lose some of the belly I've accumulated over the past months spending most of my waking hours at a laptop. I'll still get to be at my laptop, but at least I'll be burning some calories. My old vinyl record turntable is on the shelf above my laptop, so I'm firing up some vintage Shawn Phillips to help motivate my pace :)

Pardon me whilst I do a 5 minute yoga stretch b4 climbing aboard...


So. I spent a wonderful week at NECC 2008, and the best part of the whole experience was meeting and renewing face-to-face friendships and acquaintances with so many folks I have been working with ageographically (I just made that up) for a year or more. I touted the virtues of my real-world employers to everyone I met, I passed out nearly 100 moocards (see earlier post) and I presided over a sold-out workshop with my 8 co-presenters and several other bonus guest stars and did the same for a packed-house "Birds of a Feather" session, helped the edubloggercon pre-conference "unconference" session called "Web 2.0 Smackdown" by ustreaming for stellar blogger Vicki Davis, attended Kathy Schrock's "Get a MUVE On" lecture and Peggy Sheehy's session on the Second Life Teen Grid, met and instantly felt a kinship with Linden Lab Education Director Claudia Linden, learned about how to begin working in the TG, worked a band member avatar in SL for the talented guitarist of "One Horse Shy," then worked a speaker's avatar in the closing session for a full house of around 7,000 out front. I also had numerous gets-together with folks irl at dinners and meetups, expanding my personal learning network(s) exponentially.

12 minute into my step workout I'm now perspiring nicely! Shawn is singing his magic. The album, btw, is "Do You Wonder." Nice.

From NECC2008, some links:

SLedupotential (for maybe the last time--be sure to bookmark it! I think this site, developed before, during, and ongoingly after our 3 hour workshop, will continue to be a valuable one-stop-shop for shareable information for some time to come. Need to show your colleagues a video about this cutting edge education platform? SLedupotential? Find a new one? Or a new research report or article? Share it a SLedupotential. You see what I mean, I hope...

NECC 2008 bloggers--not sure why I'm not in there, but I'm posting the link anyway :( with the caveat that if it missed mine, it must have missed others, so it's incomplete :)

NECC 2008 podcasts--Some really good ones here. Not seeing them in iTunes, but they're p0sted at the Apple Learning Interchange website. Apple could do themselves a favor by putting them up on iTunes, based on recent twitter exchanges pleading for help downloading to laptops and mobile devices.

My NECC2008 flickrstream

All flickrsets tagged necc 2008

I gotta get off the step machine. I'm done! For now...


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Last day of NECC--Rockin' and Reelin' from the Week!

Wow, this has been a fantastic week, and I thank my administrators at both University School of Nashville and the Vanderbilt Center for Science and Math for making it possible for me to go. I also want to thank ISTE and its administrators for giving me stage above and beyond what I expected here, and the fantastic Claudia L'Amoreaux (Claudia Linden) from Linden Lab for being there for all of us every step of the way. Toss in a deep bow to Steve Hargadon and the organizers of the pre-conference Edubloggercon "unconference" for giving me a rich day of networking with and learning from some of the best minds in the forefront of educational advocacy.

One of the limitations of what a dear Second Life friend calls "meatspace" is that one can only be in one place at any given time. We are often able to rise above that limitation with the Internet (when the wireless connection works--no jab at the tech folks here: I'm sure they're doing everything they can to make things work) by twittering, blogging, ustreaming, ninging, and such; but it remains an absolute limitation of physicality. That said, I want to say I missed hanging out with my IVC friends this year. My amiable and extraordinarily capable colleagues in that arena, friends for nearly a decade of collaboration, will always be my friends, or at least I hope they'll allow me that privilege. I've simply been limited this year by the Meatspace Law: "1 body, 1 place."

I'll be working over the next week to summarize as succinctly as possible my amazing adventures here at NECC 2008. Until then, I'd like you to chew on the following:

I believe that virtual environments hold so much promise for education in so many ways that I've thrown in with that group here at NECC, also a dynamic, dedicated, pioneering band of educators. I believe that so much that I'm proposing a new ISTE Special Interest Group, and I'll propose that it be called SIGVE, for "Virtual Environments." I talked with ISTE Membership Director Jennifer Ragan-Fore last night at a small gathering of ISTE Docents, and she seems to think it can happen, in part based on the full house Birds of a Feather session we staged Monday here in San Antonio. Anybody else think so?

I'm prepared to pursue what steps it may take to get it started. This, as friend Cathy Walker said last night when I discussed it with her, is a first and most important step toward legitimizing this fertile field in the minds of reluctant administrators, especially the ones who hold the purse strings for teacher professional development programs. Let's begin to work together to bring ISTE member focus to the potentials of the 3D internet. What say? Kitty, send me that paperwork?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The "Money Shot"

I think April-Hope, Scott Swanson's assistant for the conference, took this with Lisa Linn's cam, but I consider it the "Money Shot," the one to remember, from our SLedupotential session in San Antonio at NECC 2008.

Just popping in before dinner to share it out. All the presenters, all my peeps, with Claudia Linden down front left. Do we look relieved!?

SLedupotential Rocked!

pictured, Meghan, Jeremy, me, Peggy, and Claudia, WooooT! I think I scarfed this from Kevin Jarret's flickr set!

Wow! A truly fun day yesterday as we gathered 9 educators from 9 states along with the 30 participants who registered from all over the country and beyond (Canada, Russia, and Australia) to dive into Second Life for immersive hands-on work. I declare it successful!

Later in the day, five others of us spent an hour with a packed room of educators to focus on Second Life as a Professional Learning Network in a "Birds of a Feather" session. That went every bit as well if not better!

So here I am, a K-4 teacher with a few other interests and skill sets mostly centered around teaching and learning, having spent extraordinary quality time with hundreds of colleagues whose main goal is to improve their own teaching and learning, and who are not afraid to travel to Texas to do so :). Not only that, they are not afraid to explore the outermost boundaries of educational potential. I'm embarrassingly proud of my co-presenters and I'm just as proud of everyone who came to share in the common experiences that have so enriched my own practice.

This year, I promise to come out of the virtual closet about Second Life. I came to this resolution mid-way in the Birds session, when I had the mic between others' shareouts and said something to the effect of, "I have to point out that, were I not in Second Life, I would know none of these people." I had to pause to compose myself before continuing. I was nearly in tears. I don't know if others noticed but I have a hard time imagining that it wasn't pretty apparent. These relationships, instigated and nurtured by shared enthusiasm for immersive education, are that important to me. Claudia Linden's participation here at NECC so encourages me that I do--I promise to proceed into the Teen Grid this coming year with the goal of bringing my own school's students into this immensely engaging world. This year, I promise to come out of the virtual closet about Second Life. Will you?

Pics from our NECC2008 SLedupotential work and play are at a set in flickr, and you can certainly get all the visuals you'd like by going to and searching "necc08."

I'm up to shower and get to the Second Life "Playground," friend Lisa Linn and friend Scott Swanson's day long contribution to spreading the word that it's okay to explore and Second Life is a promising place to do so!

AmericanaFest2019 through mine eyes

Mine eyes have seen the glory... I had an absolute BLAST going out to hear live performances of music all week, thanks to AmericanaFest201...