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Monday, January 26, 2009

We're Scheduled for NECC 2009!!!

Just checked my presenter's login page and our two workshops at NECC2009 are now scheduled!

These are both fee-required 3 hour workshops, one for "n00bs" and one for "experienced users only" and they're limited to 30 participants each, so hurry on out there and get registered for the conference then get your housing (filling up fast!) and sometime in mid-February, when the workshop program is announced, go back online and get registered for the workshop that fits your needs! I'll remind you here once the schedule is public!

Here's the skimmy:

TA405 Introduction to Education in Second Life: n00bs UNITE! [Workshop : Hands-on] (43604107) Scheduled: Tuesday, 6/30/2009, 8:30am–11:30am
Co-presenters Cathy Walker, John Miller, Lisa Linn, Peggy (Norton) Sheehy, Jane Wilde, and Jeff Agamenoni


WA507 Educators' Toolbox and Skill Set: Instruction and Presentation in Second Life [Workshop : Hands-on] (43605147) Scheduled: Wednesday, 7/1/2009, 8:30am–11:30am
Co-presenters Cathy Walker, John Miller, and Marianne Malmstrom


Friday, January 23, 2009

Do Students Like "Technology X"???

Daniel Livingstone produces "Learning Games," the prolific blog that is currently the "Blog-o-the-Month" at ISTE Island's "Blogger's Hut," the little property my Second Life avatar (Scottmerrick Oh) manages for ISTE. A recent post of his, entitled "Do Students Like Technology X? Do they need to?" illustrates the incisive nature of his thought and regular "shareout."

In it, he cites Judy Robertson at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, UK, who has recently made comments on Virtual World Watch discussing the results of a survey she took of her first and second year computer programming students about their attitudes concerning Second Life. The students' opinions go some distance toward helping understand the puzzling demographic of Second Life, one which puts the average age (and the most active age group) of SL users somewhere around 41 (according to the most recent study I could find). Students reported reluctantly appreciating the value of the platform, but generally disliked it as a whole. Remember, these are 17-19 year-olds. In my personal experience, irl, I have an uphill battle to convince anyone younger than 40 to even look at Second Life, though I don't have access to many first year college students. What has been your own experience?

Linden Lab could do well to value comments and surveys like this in high regard, in addition to watching age averages as they seem to trend upward slowly. SL creator, Philip Rosedale, by the way, was born in September, 1968, which by my math puts him smack-dab in the user-average "playing field." Is this a koinkidink? I wonder...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nashville Shakespeare Festival's "The Tragedy of Richard the Third" Entertains!

Okay, my last proud dad harangue here! I PROMISE! Basically, if you're reading this within a drive's-reach of Nashville, come see this play! My humble review:

The opening performance of Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of The Tragedy of Richard the Third last night had my family laughing out loud and helped me understand aspects of the play I never "got" before. According to USN dad (and NashShakes founder) Donald Caparella, Denise Hicks' Vaudeville-lensed production allows at least one character who is almost universally cut from the play's performance to stand out in hilarious ways; and the frequently show-bizzy performances contrast just right with the unsettling tragedies of murder, especially those of the two princes, to make the tragedy work right along with the comedy.

Historically, the play's twisted plot is a bit hard to follow, but there's a wonderful device used to help you keep score of the murders. It's amazingly simple and yet a stroke of genius on Denise's part: Headshots on a marquee poster are simply tossed into a wastebasket each time a character meets his or her demise. Vaudeville also serves to make the generally accepted melodramatic aspects of this particular Shakespeare piece more palatable, even necessary!

Never having taken in a show at the Troutt Theatre, I was thoroughly warmed by the cozy room, charmed to no end by Claire Syler's Gracie Allen-ish Lady Ann, enthralled by Navada Shane Morgan's Richard, and immensely proud of my boy Colin's stage presence and grasp of character. Brenda Sparks' campy (Sophie Tucker-inspired--see Comments) Queen Margaret takes over the stage upon entry, belting out a bluesy, ragtimey version of Shakespearean verse I simply could never have imagined possible. Some of the running gags had me just busting a gut. I won't spoil it, but look for the Duke of Hastings' involvement to come to a head surprisingly: Prepare to laugh to tears.

Tickets online at Need a cheat-sheet, for your class or just for yourself? Teacher's Guidebook(.pdf)

Want to take your class? Book your class to attend a school matinee by contacting Claire Syler .

Kudos to everyone connected with this amazing, world-stage worthy production. Go see it. It's a cheap date and it's worth every minute.

Scott and family

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Opening Night! and USN Parent Workshop on Teens and the Internet

It's opening night! Can't WAIT to see the whole play, though I'll of course be focused on me boy-o as Young York.

In other news, I had a wonderful chat--along with USN Tech Director Kathy Weiczerza and Middle School Tech Coordinator Jake Wilson, after school yesterday--with 8 or 10 parents of USN 7th graders, on the topic of Teenagers and the Internet. In preparation for that, I created a free wiki at to use as both a presentation tool and as a repository for further dialog. Please feel free to visit that site and use the "Edit this page" link on any page to which you'd like to contribute (especially the "Questions" and the "Comments" pages!

Thanks to the parents who came by. This was truly an enjoyable experience for me, since I'm one of you. I'm all to familiar with how challenging it can be for a parent, even one as geeky as I, to keep up with socio-technological change and I deeply appreciate your concern and your contributions to my own learning...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy Birthday Colin!

After a wild holiday break, visited by fire, flood, power outage due to falling trees, and illness-- blessed by visiting loved ones and their two golden retrievers who joined our own minor league menagerie of one big black dog and one odd little cat--we had a lovely on-demand (by the birthday boy) dinner last night. We started with a salad with baby leaf lettuce, goats' cheese, and apples. The main course was a lovely "from scratch" fettucini alfredo with chicken marsala and peas with baby onions. Miranda had spent the afternoon baking a wonderful Red Velvet sheet cake, and we added in some vanilla ice cream for dessert. Just before dessert, Colin opened his few presents, culminating in a little box wrapped up with earplugs. Thanks to friend Jon Elliot and his sweet wife Loren, Colin opened the box and found two tickets to the January ACDC concert January 31st at the Sommet Center here in Nashville. Yay!

I'm writing this on the Sunday night before we head back to school and work tomorrow. It's been a memorable break...

Fire? The resident in the Wessex Towers 507 left to take a friend to the airport and, by report, something fell over onto his stovetop, turning it on and igniting adjacent newspapers. The fire and smoke grew heavy enough to activate the new sprinkler system, which ran full-blast, emptying the pool into the building (Wessex Towers is at the top of one of the highest points in Nashville, and last summer an expensive sprinkler system, tied to the pool, was installed). The new system worked, but apparently no one knew how to turn it off. By the time my mother-in-law, who lives in 207, called, pleading for us to come up with all our towels and sheets to help stem the inch of water seeping from the ceiling into her condominium, soaking antique rugs and hardwood floors, the damage was irreversible--Flood. So much for the Christmas Eve dinner at their place!

The next day, Lee Ann and Amy were cooking for the relocated dinner, and Jim and I were wrappng presents in the basement garage, blasting ACDC's "Black Ice" out of my computer in my adjacent office. Suddenly the lights surged, flashed, and failed. I looked out the garage door windows and saw beautiful fireworks floating down to the ground from the sky.

A neighbor's dead tree had achieved ultimate unbalance in the equation of rotting root system, weight, soil erosion, and angle and had fallen down to the ground, smack across the street, taking with it power lines, cable lines, telephone lines, and all the power to the neighborhood. The fireworks were from the transformer at the end of our driveway, exploding with its 14,000 volts of energy.

Long story short, we ended up relocating to TGI Fridays for dinner. That was our choice partly because that's where my lovely Lee Ann and I met, oh, so many years ago, me slinging drinks and she waiting tables without a notepad. It was a good, well, okay dinner and we got home to candlelight present wrapping until the lights finally reignighted, thanks to the efforts of the Nashville Electric Service workers, hard at it on Christmas Eve, thanks to gravity, weather, and nature.

Christmas morning was wonderful, as our picture album will verify. Now we're off to the new year and I'm hoping for a nice few (relatively) uneventful weeks!

Oh! Read a great article in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper about the play that Colin's in, Shakeapeare's Richard III! It runs February 15 through February 1 at Belmont University's Troutt Theatre!


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