Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

Happy Holidays from Scottmerrick Oh and his Human, Scott Merrick

Happy Holidays!

You Are Invited to Virtual Worlds

Feeling adventurous? Discover worlds of creativity, collaboration, and wonder by joining thousands of educators all across the globe who are exploring the values 3 dimensional "virtual worlds" can bring to learning and teaching. If you're feeling a little under the educational weather, this will help rejuvenate you, I can all but promise.- scottmerrickOct 8, 2011 8:15 am

I am working on a 3D Virtual World meeting and collaboration space for our school. Projected rollout of this powerful tool for use by our teachers and students is not until the 2012-13 school year, but you can learn more right now about 3D Virtual Worlds at a wiki I help maintain for the International Society for Technology in Education's Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments: . Spend a little time there then check out my Oh! Virtual Learning! blog.

When you feel like you want to actually explore virtual worlds for yourself, you can easily get yourself an avata…

Prisoners of Time

I submit this for your morning/afternoon/evening read: Have we learned nothing? In 1994, The National Education Commission on Learning and Time publishedPRISONERS OF TIME To quote from its introduction: "Learning in America is a prisoner of time. For the past 150 years, American public schools have held time constant and let learning vary. The rule, only rarely voiced, is simple: learn what you can in the time we make available. It should surprise no one that some bright, hard-working students do reasonably well. Everyone else-from the typical student to the dropout- runs into trouble.Time is learning's warden. Our time-bound mentality has fooled us all into believing that schools can educate all of the people all of the time in a school year of 180 six-hour days. The consequence of our self-deception has been to ask the impossible of our students. We expect them to learn as much as their counterparts abroad in only half the time. As Oliver Hazard Perry said in a famous dispat…

On April 9th, a Poem

I was squeezing honey into my coffee from its honeybear this morning, counting "one-and-a-two-and-a-three-and-a" as the thin stream poured, a habit anytime I pour anything, established from five-plus years bartending for a living, decades ago. This caused me to reflect how any process, repeated enough (how many times did I tip up a pour-spout bottle and count in my head like that?), internalizes into subconscious habit. Mindfulness should be as lucky in my own internal habit mechanisms. Perhaps with a little more practice.

My brother died early this year, leaving my older brother and me as the remaining Merrick patriarchs, the last of our nuclear family, as it were. Ed texted me a week or so ago wondering if we should do something to honor Bill on his upcoming birthday. On Tuesday he would have been 59 years old. Alcohol, combined with some other habits of mind and body that he had allowed, perhaps encouraged, to gain control of his life, took him away in a last, violent, m…

MNPSVS in Jibe

Just a quick intro into Jibe/ReactionGrid at MNPSVS:

This is a project I'm funding and supporting mostly with work done at home. I envision it to be a a fun gathering space/meeting space for our faculty and students as well as an enrichment option for our Computer Science learners. Feel free to visit--there's more there almost daily. If you have any suggestions for additions to the content, feel free to comment 'em here!
Direct link is

New ISTE SIG Page!

So very cool. Very nicely done, so I do share!

Support Deliciously Happy!

Public school? Private school? Charter school? Why not support Arts learning in all three? Why not go further and have all three sets of elementary age students collaborate with one another? Is there any angle that this project fails to approach learning in an empowering, enlightened, collaborative way?

You tell me. Once you've been wowed by the video below, visit and make a donation that makes your own heart sing. Whether it's a dollar or a thousand dollars, you will feel better about yourself and your commitment to help nurture creativity in our leaders of the future. Go on, you know you want to...

Virtual Worlds Education !!!

Hey, all, Just to announce a new effort at, an amalgamedia site (wow, I think I just coined that term!) that, while more labor-intensive than my site, is certainly promising. While I use the site frequently to view social media network posts selected according to parameters I set--beginning with who I follow and allow to follow me--the requires daily sorting through auto-selected sources according to search terms, also accessing my online networks to help locate and provide that sourcing.

Kewl. Hope you enjoy:

I found this video today on my daily newspaper, which to be perfectly honest is automatically edited and posted regularly at -- very easy to set up and pretty darned valuable if you have built your online learning networks well. It was pulled into the "paper" after having been shared by Kevin Arndt, a new twitterer I follow as "arndtk," and I popped on over to youtube to watch it. I think it's a new genre, isn't it? "DryEraseDocumentaries?"

Heartening and disheartening at the same time, it has generated considerable discussion, so after watching it here, drop into youtube and contribute if you care to...

Astro Cantus -- Play the Universe!

My dear friend Rocky Alvey has been working on this concept only since January, and I'm happy to say that his app's first release is now available for your mobile device! Watch this video to see what it's all about, then go get your app, then go play the universe!

Check out this application on the App Store:
AstroCantus DavidsonDean, LLC Category: Education Updated: Oct 04, 2011

iTunes for Mac and WindowsPlease note that you have not been added to any email lists.
Copyright © 2011 Apple Inc. All rights reserved

Good Digital Ink! MNPS Virtual School!

Yesterday Newschannel5's Scott Arnold came by our digs at the MNPS Virtual School, up in Suite 300 of the Cohn ALC on Nashville's Park Avenue, and he and his extremely artistic cameraman spent 45 minutes or so in a breakneck interview of our Coordinator/ActingPrincipal Barbra Thoeming. They asked excellent questions, took stellar video, and then left for a drive up to Two Rivers to interview two twin sister Full-Time students in our program. Everyone concerned did their part, but as we know that's no guarantee a good news story will air. Well, a good news story did air, and I thank Scott and his own team for so aptly portraying at least a portion of what me and my team does. If you don't blink, you'll see me heading up to my office to get back to work after facilitating a Skype interview with Alton Knight, a pioneer online teacher, on my iPad for the camera! Enjoy (if video takes too long to load try this link):

Why I Still Second Life, Well, One Reason!

I don't talk about it much here; I mainly confine virtual world discussions to my Second Life blog, "Oh! Virtual Learning!" But lately I have been becoming interested in reviving my membership in learning communities there. I know, people think I'm nuts, and there are 10 (binary) kinds of people when it comes to understanding the value of 3D virtual "sense of place at a distance," those who are inworld(s) and those who aren't. I logged into SL this early Sunday morning to visit my new little shoppe (you have to pronounce the final "e") at Guthries Folk Club, which I blogged about recently here.

I was greeted by an instant message from one of my literally hundreds of "friends" in Second Life. Although many of those friends ("friends" in the social media sense) have become real-life actual friends over the years I've spent as an educator in SL, this one is really just a virtual acquaintance--think Facebook "friends.…

Standardized Testing Versus Jobs, an Oblique Perspective

Though all of Alfie Kohn's writings to date are well worth examining, and though he has contributed more logical and thoughtful arguments against homework, standardized testing, and the generally wrong-headed habits our schools have stacked one upon the other for generations--to the point that it seems overwhelmingly improbable they will ever be upended--his post yesterday in HuffPost Education, "Whoever Said There's No Such Thing As a Stupid Question Never Looked Carefully at a Standardized Test," is maybe the most concise and inarguable "elevator speech" on the topic to date, at least in the battle against the bane of progressive educational change, Standardized Testing.

As I read it, some concepts formed in my mind, chief among them the role that employment plays in all of this. Since I haven't really noticed much discussion of this element, I thought it right and good to toss it out there. It goes something like this:

Education is a thriving industr…

Advocate for Public School Social Media Access

Disclaimer: These opinions in no way reflect those of my employer nor of anyone else. They are personal, informed by my 17 years of experience as an educator and by my fervent desire to see potential come into line with reality. Feel free to copy any of this and adapt the message to your own location. 

Our school system here in Nashville is no more stringent about restricting in-school access to social media than are the vast majority of public school systems throughout the country. I understand the reasons that social media were blocked in public schools when they were first developing. I also realize that the decision is largely a matter of policy in concert with that of the State of Tennessee.

Now, comma, it is time to bring policy into the 21st century. MNPS has already begun the process, with its own social media feeds, maintaining a Facebook presence and a Twitter feed; but if history is any indication it will be a good long while before students, teachers, administrators, paren…

The Yearlings

The yearlings are insolent,
Prancing through our well-kempt lawns
Like ballerinas, their stark white tails
Giving us the thumbs-up
"See you later"
On the way

...written one morning last week while walking the dog. I have to thank MacGuyver for so faithfully carrying out his daily task of getting me off my devices, into my running shoes, and outside into the neighborhood where I can see and muse about the "real world."

Virtual's Cool!

The above logo from says it all. We're cool. We're a school. Whatever else happens in the State of Tennessee, now a wild west wide open experimental ground for profit-seeking distance learning vendors who can corral a local school district into turning over the reins of its development to their commercial entity, Metro Nashville Public Schools has created the first virtual high school in Tennessee's history. Here's our small but dedicated team's picture with the Mayor to prove it!

            Kelly Brown, Barbra Thoeming, Mayor Karl Dean, Scott Merrick, Michael Terry, and Sherry Hill at the Mayor's 1st Day Celebration 2011-12
Rally on! More updates as we announce changes and improvements. For now, visit for everything we know!

NewsChannel5 in Nashville Covers Virtual School

We'll be at the Mayor's First Day Celebration today, Sunday, August 7 to share the developments at MNPS Virtual School. This piece from Nashville NewsChannel5 helps explain our excitement! Yay, Gabby and Barbra. And yay to the rest of the team who's been working so hard for nearly a year to make this happen!

I'm a Slacker (Not Really)

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since July 6. This is some kinda record. I just want ya'll to know that I'm not clinging by my fingernails to the edge of the earth since ISTE11. I've just been working like a madman to get our Virtual School off the ground here in Nashville, and it sometimes seems like every day is more packed and (thankfully) more productive than the last. 

Here's where we stand:

We were granted the first official Virtual School number from the State of Tennessee. Our MNPS Virtual School (named by the school board over our own recommendations, but that's how things work in big school systems and it's growing on me) is as of today accepting enrollment requests. We'll have seats for 100 Full-Timers and up to 1000 Part-Timers this year as we begin hiring adjunct teachers to facilitate the Florida Virtual School "Easy Start" content and we search for a district Learning Management System (by committee, of course) to serve …

Thanks to one and all for ISTE11 in Philadelphia and in Second Life!

Mirrored from the ISTE SIGVE wiki:

Open Letter from Scott Merrick/ Scottmerrick Oh: Thank you from the depths of my old heart!

On the plane to Nashville, thumb-typing away on my iPad, I finally have time to begin to express my deep gratitude to everyone who participated in the virtual worlds-related sharing at ISTE11, whether you did so as an organizer, a facilitator, a presenter, or a much-appreciated attendee--or all of the above.

This gratitude knows no boundaries and is extended to all of you whether onsite, inworld, or--as was often the case--both. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This is my first official communication as Grand Poobah Emeritus, after the stirring installation of my dear brother-from-another-mother, Andy Wheelock (aka Spiff Whitfield) as Lowly High Grand Poobah at Monday's SIGVE Birds of a Feather annual SIG meetup. I want to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate several accomplishments:

The SIGVE Virtual Environments Playground

This year I have to say u…

Transcript from Saturday's SIG Leadership Meeting

Yesterday I attended a (I have to say).surprisingly wonderful day long workshop with 50 or 60 of my collegues who lead special interest groups within ISTE, and I have to apologize for approaching it with anything less than unbridled optimism. I can report that I learned so much that even though the next few days will be fabulous, I could walk home from Philly to Nashville happy and improved exponentially.

I was glad to have contributed to the event's success by suggesting that we utilize a text chat backchannel via This post is to share that chat, which is chocked full of interesting resources,comments, and tips especially useful to anyone interested in building online communities. It's at Enjoy!

Be sure to revisit the pics from flickr in the previous post!

Flickr Stream from Scott's #ISTE11 in Philadelphia

All day Saturday I'm in the SIG Leadership Day learning from my fellow volunteer leaders how to, well, how to lead volunteers. It's a fascinating day with a dynamic group of human beings. We have a backchannel that's collecting all kinds of great "off-task distraction" which I'll share after the day.

All those conference calls helping design the day are really paying off!!!

I'll be adding to this Flickr stream all week, so this is the place!

I'll try to caption as I go but I'm sure I'll miss some and have to do that post conference.

Results for "Merrick" search at ISTE 2011!

I posted our ISTE2011 SIG Picks for readers a couple posts back, but now having actually obtained my flight and hotel (ah, district red-tape!) I can feel confident sharing the events that I will actually be presenting and/or facilitating. I hope to see all the folks I only get to see once a year at ISTE, so don't be shy coming by one or another or all of the following! See you there!
From, searching "merrick":

SIGOL/SIGVE Forum: Teaching in the Cloud!Add to Planner
[Other Program Events: Forum/Summit/Symposium] Seats still available.
Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 2:00pm–4:00pm
Virtual Schooling/E-learning : Virtual Learning Technologies
Kecia Ray, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools with Kevin Honeycutt, Scott Merrick and John Ross
John Ross and Kevin Honeycut highlight cloud based teaching and learning for students and adults accompanied by table talks led by online and virtual experts!  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE SIGVE (…

The Jeffersons, Volume 1

As their friend and 'cross-the-street neighbor I feel completely entitled to lend a promotional hand to sharing this amazing, creative, intensely musical release. Visit to hear and purchase Lisa Brokop and Paul Jefferson's wonderful new project, "The Jeffersons, Volume 1." Presumably that hints that there will be a Volume 2 some day! My favorite is "Almost Like We Meant To," closely followed by "Alcatraz." What's yours!? Okay, I do like "One Headlight." And "Take My Heart." Okay, I love it ALL. For more of the wonderful music these two have created, performed, and recorded over the years during their solo and band careers, you can visit Lisa's official website at, Paul's at MySpace, or Paul's band, Hilljack's MySpace.We couldn't ask for better neighbors. One of these days the Merricks will actually go out at night and catch one of The Jefferson's local pe…

Populating Your Personal Planner for ISTE2011 in Philadelphia? ISTE SIGVE Pics Will Help!

ISTE 2011 is sneaking up on us and will be here before you know it. If you're attending ISTE in Philadelphia, this quoted search will help make sure you attend the REALLY important sessions, workshops, and events. Those, of course, are those chosen by the Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments as relevant in the SIG Picks' process. SIGVE members weighed in on the content of over 800 such items, limited to only 20 Picks. Two of those didn't "make," apparently, or were cancelled for other reasons, but the remaining ones are in this list. Go to it! I for one am clicking "Add to Planner" for every single one!

Quoted from the official ISTE website's search feature:

A Deeper Understanding of the Holocaust through Virtual EnvironmentsAdd to Planner
[Learning Station Session: Poster] 
Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 11:00am–1:00pm
PACC Broad St Atrium , Table: 7
Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Social Studies
Andrew Wheelock, Erie 1 Boces/ WNYRIC with Susa…