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Showing posts from 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays One and All

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful respite from the daily grind as we near Christmas and celebrate all that the winter holiday season has to offer. We here in Nashville have been enjoying the increase in family time this week and are looking forward to my brother and his wife passing through this very evening on their way to Priscilla's family in Oak Ridge.

I want to invite everyone in the states to turn on their televisions tonight to watch "Christmas at Belmont," an annual event this year guest-hosted by Tricia Yearwood and broadcast nationally on NPT, our National Public Television. Check your local listings, and see more about the show at the NPT Media Update site and at the page dedicated to the event at Belmont University's website.

Miranda, our beautiful and talented daughter, performs with her Belmont Chorale, an audition only "select mixed ensemble of 52 voices that performs diverse literature from all genres."

Lee Ann and I were 'way in …

Nashville Sign Project in ReactionGrid

Please visit and comment! Here's a little video that explains a little 'speriment I put together to share a small printmaking exhibit from a high school art class led by Lesley Patterson-Marx. Extending the audience is the goal, as well as encouraging comment on a global scale. We'll see how it flies at Scottsperiment Island in Reactiongrid!

Find more videos like this on Virtual Environment Education Videos!

Advance Announcement: Social Media and Web2.0 for Educators!

This will go out officially around Jan. 1, but I wanted to make the announcement here immediately, especially since it has a cap of 16 on the signup!
My school, University School of Nashville, offers summer camps and workshops for both students and adults all summer long under the auspices of a robust program under the direction of the capable Mr. John Kleiner. Just this morning I received copy to proof for the summer brochure, and I want to share it with you. More information about application process will be available soon. Meanwhile, if you want to go on a wait list for first shot at application, feel free to email me at with your contact information (include Summer Social Media and Web2.0 for Educators! in your subject header) and I'll see that that happens. It may be the cheapest (and most fun) date of your summer!
Social Media and Web2.0 for Educators!
Instructor: Scott Merrick Week - July 19 - 23, 2010 8:30 - 12 Adults 18 and up Come spend a week of half-day…

ReactionGrid Opens Up New Vistas for Teaching and Learning

If you follow my blog Oh!VirtualLearning! you may already know that I have been appointed facilitator of the new ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments. Certainly you know of my interest in this amazing, complex, fascinating (and enabling on so many levels) development in online communcation. As SIGVE "Poobah," I enjoy the company of a great many educators more capable than myself in our effort to help make some sense out of all the myriad virtual worlds out in the metaverse, to assess their value (or lack of it) for learning and teaching, and to collaborate on innovative efforts that leverage their functionalities toward the betterment of education.
At last year's National Educational Computing Conference, or NECC, in Washington, D.C., it was announced that future conferences held by ISTE would do away with the NECC name, that the next annual conference would be named "ISTE 2010," establishing th…

4th Graders and Book Buddies, Thankfulmaking

I don't cross-post from my USNLSTech blog very much, but this little Animoto video turned out so cute I have to share it here too! The faces of these children, their body language, and their intensity of focus say a lot about the place in which we all learn, University School of Nashville.

Ms. Hunt's 4th graders came into the computer lab last Friday to hang out with their Kindergarten Book Buddies (they go to the Kinderclass each week to read to their buddy) from Ms. Reynolds' class. I grabbed the camera, and the rest is animoto...

CDBaby Top Seller List

It's been around for years, and it just keeps selling, especially as folks download the .mp3 version so easily, both at iTunes and now at CDBaby for a buck cheaper. Browsing by "Top Seller" it takes a few clicks to find my 2004 record, but it's there, and to my glee it's displayed on the same page as is the recording released in 2007 by my dear old friend Scott Miller, who records his intelligent, melodic music as Scott H. Miller. Scott and I played together 'way back when in Anchorage and in Juneau, where he still resides, calling ourselves alternately "Scotttt" and "Scott and Scott." Funny. I recently came into a few old recordings of our live performances and hey, we were pretty good, especially on the Aztec Two-Step classic, "Highway Song." I'll share it here sometime.
Anyway, the CDBaby page looks like

and its 4 and a half stars rating gets reviews like
Instant soul-gratification for those with a hankering for Alaska. auth…

Co-dependence Tech Help?

I have to point you to this. Scott McCleod hard at work creating controversy and heated dialog. His post at his "Dangerously Irrelevant" blog, entitled "Are our training efforts helping educators or enabling codependence?" is worth a read and a response. Tell 'im that other Scott sent ya. Here's a teaser:As someone who does a lot of training and professional development for school administrators, I wonder how much I’m facilitating codependence. In many job sectors, employees are expected to keep up with relevant technologies or risk job loss. When do we require that of K-12 and postsecondary educators? At what point do we say to them “No, we’re not training you how to use this. It’s easy enough for you to learn on your own. And if you don’t, we’ll find someone else who can.”Read more...

Art at a Distance, Learning from a Master

A great deal of fol-de-rol is made over the way technology has made it possible for students formerly isolated in their school buildings can now reach out to others--topic experts, teachers, museums, distant classrooms full of kids more like them than unlike them--but seldom does the mainstream media join in on that discussion.

Enter public radio, in the guise of Susan Knowles from Nashville's own WPLN. Early one morning just prior to our artclectic, Susan came into our school with a recording team and witnessed New York and Memphis artist Pinkney Herbert interacting with our high school artists, both faculty and student, at a distance.

The resulting story has been featured at the WPLN website for days now, and it occupies its own archival space at the website. Visit for an uplifting and encouraging audio moment.

Our school has participated off and on for years in Interactive Videoconferencing, and you can see some of the ways we've done so at http://ivca…

artclectic in Second Life--Please drop in!

Hey, all,

Been knee-deep, virtually and really, living and learning with artclectic this past week. I've also lost my cell phone, but I have to admit it's been kinda quiet and nice without it. Am I reverting? Likely not, just pausing.

I created a little machinima this week to share what I've been building in Second Life with folks who may not be able to come into the virtual environment to experience it first hand. If you can come inworld, the SLurl is . If you can't, for whatever reason, maybe this will suffice:

Find more videos like this on Virtual Environment Education Videos!

More later, and lots of it!

"SLARTCLECTIC" You've Got to See It to Believe It!

Hey all,
I've been busy this past two weeks with artclectic, the fabulous annual fundraiser at my school, which happens to be masterminded and made to happen under the capable direction of my lovely wife, Lee Ann Merrick.
Aside from all its own fabulosity, I've been granted permission and prims from Angrybeth Shortbread, art/science genious of great renown in Second Life, to experiment building the show inworld. Please feel free to visit, though I'm only almost finished. I'll make a big announcement to the Second Life education and arts communities when it's ready for visit, and it's currently scheduled to come down November 1!

Visit in Second Life at !!!

Find more videos like this on Virtual Environment Education Videos!

Gearing up for artclectic 2009!

I should mention that I’m knee-deep in artclectic work as the season barrels down upon us ineluctably. From helping to maintain the artclectic website to working on mailings to snapping pictures and working the twitter and facebook feeds I’m there, sports fans.

If you’re in Nashville, or anywhere within driving distance, or anywhere within flying distance, I’m tellin’ ya, get here for the show. The USN Sperling Gymnasium becomes something in no way resembling a school gym, there are family events running virtually the entire time, and the art this year promises to be more varied and more exciting than ever before in the 13 years this unique event has taken place.

Last night, my son Colin and his friend and classmate Hope joined USN drum teacher extraordinaire Ed Haggard at Whole Foods in Green Hills to provide fun (and skilled) percussion to underscore the first public sneak peek at a few of the pieces that will be available for viewing and/or purchase from October 22-25. The s…

Draxtor Despres Shares a Beautiful Mashup

This is a really moving mashup of Virtual Environments (the platform for the interview), social media, and real life filmmaking. Don't miss its 5:41 minutes of brilliance. Heck, watch it here, but then go over to the original site to comment. You'll want to favorite his work, "conversations about Art, Technology, and Social Justice."

I love the tagline on his profile: "Unless otherwise obvious, all music written and performed by Bernhard Drax (thanks Uncle Bernie)."

Belated Announcement re a Huge Opportunity for USN

I recently received a query from the Director of Products and Services Development at the National Association of Independent Schools, Susan Booth, for information on innovative projects at my school, University School of Nashville. It was accompanied by flattering encouragement from our school's Diversity Director (yes, we have one, do you?) Caroline Blackwell, a dear friend and colleague, so I responded to that query in the following manner:

Tandberg International Education Market Manager Jan Zanetis has awarded a $14,000 Tandberg Edge95 System loaner unit to University School of Nashville Lower School Technology Coordinator Scott Merrick in exchange for Professional Development program offerings to Tandberg education market customers over the coming academic school year. Details of the programs are being fleshed out over the month of October. When ready, Interactive Videoconferencing sessions-on-request will likely center around the use of Virtual Environments, including Second …

University of Texas System Poised to Enter 15 Campuses into Second Life--Where is YOUR School?

UT System campuses join virtual worldUniversity of Texas System sets $250,000 aside for Second Life project.By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
Monday, September 28, 2009Leslie Jarmon, a faculty development specialist at the University of Texas, sensed that David Prior would bring a certain skepticism to her ambitious proposal to create a series of virtual campuses in cyberspace.Prior, the UT System's executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, was trained as a geologist. And geologists are all about rocks, oil and other stuff that actually exists.But he was soon quite taken with Jarmon's pitch to bring the system's nine academic and six health campuses into a three-dimensional, online world of learning, research and collaboration called Second Life. The system agreed to put $250,000 into the project from an account it established to underwrite innovative education initiatives."I think we'll want to watch this one carefully," Prior told the syst…

How I (Seamus) Spent My Summer Vacation

My dear godson Seamus Morrison, son of my brother-from-another-mother James, spent his summer in a very unique way. I'm pleased to share that he's taken up his piano lessons again, that he attends his wonderful independent school half-day or more as he's taking up the rest of his therapy, and that he is a hero of mine. We can all learn from the powerpoint he created to share...

Find more videos like this on seamusupdates (Note: Seamusupdates is a private ning, so that unless you are a family member or an extended family member, clicking on that link will likely be to no avail.)

Videoconferencing To Bring the World to Students

T.H.E. Journal today published a tasty little article on old friend and colleague Janine Lim's pioneering and persevering work to promote and facilitate the adoption of Interactive Videoconferencing in education. I'm so proud of her I must share here.

My own school has recently been granted the loan of a marvelous Tandberg Edge95 codec by Tandberg Education Market Director (and another dear friend) Jan Zanetis. We are currently working on configuring it to get through our newly revamped firewall (an issue mentioned by Janine in her interview); and with any luck, we'll be embarking on some more distance learning adventures of our own. You might stay tuned for that, but in the meanwhile do treat yourself to that article!

Videoconferencing To Bring the World to Students, by Denise Harrison.

Good Ink!

A little ink at Learning and Leading with Technology, ISTE's print and online magazine: I responded a while back to an email from L&L calling for responses to the prompt, "Should You 'Friend' Your Students on Social Networking Sites? I came in on the majority side, as you'll see if you click to read the page I've screengrabbed below, but with a caveat: When former students are adults, as in college age or older, and if they still have an interest in their old elementary teacher and what crazy cutting edge technology he's into these days, I happily do "friend" them.

I do not do so with my own elementary students (I teach K-4 computer) nor with my son's Middle School friends or High School kids. Once they're grown, more or less (and I've lived long enough to know the best of my friends are still growing up) they're on, in my book.

See and find the Reader's R…

Kathy Shrock's Guide for Educators

I've been doing some snooping around for resources lately, and I revisited tonight a link at the Discovery Education site to friend Kathy Schrock's resource page. If you knew about it or think you did and haven't visited it for a while, or if you don't know about it, visit now. Her Upcoming Presentations page indicates her current focus is in the area of "Information Overload," something all of us could stand to pay attention to. Her Slide Shows for Teaching page contains dozens of her presentations for your own review and inspiration.
Kathy is truly a maven in her field, having led many of us into it to begin with. Enjoy what she has to share and enjoy it often.
On to the second full week of school!

Huey is Home!

So after 3 hours on Saturday morning at Smartcenter Nashville working with the wonderful Dusty, "Baby Huey" is home and here are some pics to prove it. I'm tickled with the exchange of our clunker for cash and thanks to the federal government for it. A friend came over today and saw it in the driveway and said, "When Barack Obama said 'Cash for Clunkers' that's exactly what he meant."


More later, and I promise not to obsess. In fact, I plan to add any new pics or musings about Huey to this post, so if you have any interest, this is the place. Here's my first addition:
I actually couldn't remember much about the first Baby Huey, and the name first impulse came to me when I thought of "Huey, Dewey, and Louie," Donald Duck's inexplicably spawned triplets. That idea morphed into Baby Huey. This morning I googled that and found the coolest comic book blog, which has a detailed history of my car's namesake. Here's a pic from…

A Belated Thank You--Looking Back and Looking Forward

As I prepare a sort of "How I Spent My Professional Development Summer" 2 minute talk for a faculty meeting tomorrow, I notice that I posted this pic earlier, but I didn't post the little video with it. If you are interested in what I do, you need to see both of them together.

Pictured above are the folks in Washington, D.C. who attended a very lightly advertised event at NECC09, a reception for Second Life Volunteers. Every one of these people (and more) participated in some degree, scheduled or not, in making the Second Life Playground at NECC09 a robust and welcoming experience for anyone who happened by. Over the three days from Monday, June 31 through Wednesday, July 2, that place was hoppin', as the video below will demonstrates. There are people in that picture from Australia, New Zealand, and half the states in the Union. My co-facilitator, Lisa Linn, and I brought these folks together by means of social media including Twitter, Facebook, Wikispaces, Google Ap…

Beautiful Boy

To my most beautiful godson, Seamus. I think of you every day, many times a day, wishing you full and speedy recovery. I know this has already been a journey of deepest love for you and your parents. Please hug each one of them for me.

Why Teens Don't Twitter!

Checking into email this morning, I noted a comment at megablogge Lucy Gray's new ning, "Making IT Personal" and popped over there, checking out some recent posts that took me to a discussion thread started by Gordon Shupe, called "When I say Personal Learning Network you say _____." So I of course had to comment "Second Life and Twitter." Then I saw a link in his original thread post that stated "Interesting article here worthy of discussion: ." This is good, ya'll, as blogger Ben Parr takes on staticstics from a recent Nielsen report that show that only 16 percent of Twitter users are under 25.
...Twitter is far less about the social graph than it is about the overall conversation surrounding an item. Retweets are about sharing items and @replies are about allowing the public to be part of a conversation you’re having with someone. If you just follow your friends on Twitt…

ISTE Speaker Series Event- VSTE-:How We Grew Our Presence in SL

There is a state arm of the International Society for Technology in Education thriving in Virginia. Check out the Second Life event tonight to learn how they nurtured one of the most active educators' groups inworld. It's a neat story. Here's some info from the ISTE Speaker Series event just published:Once upon a time, four Virginia Beach computer resource specialists, Lisa Alconcel (SL: Jazmemo Zimminy), Marie Booz (SL: Mandie Mimulus), Al Doss, (SL: Alfredo Bedrosian) and Kim Harrison (SL: Thunder Insippo), approached the Virginia Society for Technology in Education’s (VSTE) Chairperson of the Board, Janene Gorham (SL: Janene Jewell) and Executive Director Daniel Arkin (SL: Flying Story), for access to the VSTE building in Second Life. They ended up with an entire island! On the island, VSTE has created a virtual simulation of the Jamestown Settlement and Powhatan Village of 1607 for educators to use as a resource in preparing rich and engaging lessons for their student…

Advice about Twitter et al

There are a lot of folks who see social media--facebook, twitter, blogging, plurk, friendfeed, and more--as an opportunity to promote their businesses. I have this advice for them:
Social media is about information. If the information is valuable and interesting it will go viral. If it's transparently commercial and self-serving, it will not. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. I mentioned that in a conversation with my lovely wife and she said, "Write that down. Now."
I did.

ISTE Eduverse Talks Episode #8 Live at!

Hey, all, our recent appearance as MUVErs on the celebrated ISTE Eduverse Talks live talk show series is now live an accessible at the ISTE Eduverse Talks website.

I hope you'll take an hour or so to give it a watch. It's also pretty nice as an audio file, so if you have a long commute that may be the way to do it. Host Kevin Jarrett did a fantastic job of delivering probing questions about MUVErs' development of intricate but finely tuned virtual simulations for teaching and learning, and partners Cathy Walker and John Miller were stellar in their own thoughtful responses. Watching the program has convinced me I didn't do a half-bad job of responding, though it's obvious I strayed from my script a bit :)

Go watch!

Back to Work! Where Did the Summer Go?

I can't really complain. I've had a great summer. 10 days in D.C. at NECC09 helped fill it up, for sure, and three on Lake Conroe north of Houston, Texas fishing with my dear brother Ed. My son's in South Africa on a month long trek with his grandparents and his cousin, and I'm here at USN working to set up my students and faculty for the best year ever.

There's a lot happening here with technology. First and foremost we're implementing the Lower School's entry into the world of Whipplehill, the platform the other two divisions implemented last year for Student Information System and parent and student communication. It's very powerful (and was very expensive, though the cumulative savings over the next few years in "snailmailings" will recoup much of that initial investment. But the main deal, of course, is that many teachers are no different than most other adults--they resist change, either intentionally or subconsciously, and they also unde…

Eduverse Talks Archive!

ISTE Eduverse Talks episode number 7 is now available for replay at the ISTE Eduverse website. Click the image below to visit, watch, listen, or watch and listen. I've been invited along with my MUVERS LLC partners Cathy Walker and John Miller to participate in another eipisode Tuesday, July 28, so join us there live (5 pm SLT, 7 pm CDT) or check back at the Eduverse website for its own archive a week or so after the show!
I'll be completely off-grid for a couple days as I head to the hills with my honey, so comments here, if any, may take longer than usual to show up. Vacation time, ya'll!

Three Heads

...are better than one.

My dear 10-year old godson Seamus is recuperating from a recent operation to remove a brain tumor, and the whole story is much more than I want to share out here. I do want to share a picture his dad sent, from the hospital lawn, and I know that my brother-from-another-mother James will be okay with my sharing it.

He sent this picture out to his legions of supportive friends. If this doesn't brighten your day or night, check your pulse. And whatever your religious leanings are, if you want to offer a prayer or a meditation for healing and recovery, now's the time.
Seamus, Jimmy, and Riad, I love you.

Why Jeff went to NECC09

An amazing animoto that will hopefully be shared far and wide, from my good friend Jeff Agamenoni, Great Falls, Montana teacher and family guy supreme. I'm proud to be a part of Jeff's extended family!

Wordle 4th of July

Twitter Follower Mosiac! Fun!