Follow by Email

Sunday, November 27, 2011

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.scottmerrick scottmerrick Oct 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 avatar by clicking "Register" a t and then downloading the Hippo viewer for your computer. Install that and fire it up using the avatar name and password you set up (and the settings information here) and go explore our 3D space in Reaction Grid (on the login screen, find "Places" and click that, then scroll down to MNPSVirtualLearning. Explore as much as you will and/or set up an appointment with me at the School or over Skype (my username is cleverly disguised: "scottmerrick") and we'll go in together. Tapping into my years of exploring the metaverse, I'll jumpstart you.

Some pictures might help:

Long view of landing area

Presentation space

Long View of Presentation Space

Finally, the other effort I'm making, a 3 month trial, is to create a web-based Virtual World for MNPS Virtual School at -- this requires no software downloads (other than a one-time browser plug-in) and can be visited right now without any hesitation. Just visit the link and go explore. Check back often to see what's been added. This platform runs on Android right now and will be on iPhones in the near future! Here's a pic of that:
and here's a video so you can see a bit about how easy Jibe is to visit:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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 published


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 dispatch from the War of 1812: "We have met the enemy and they are [h]ours."
If experience, research, and common sense teach nothing else, they confirm the truism that people learn at different rates, and in different ways with different subjects. But we have put the cart before the horse: our schools and the people involved with them-students, parents, teachers, administrators, and staff-are captives of clock and calendar. The boundaries of student growth are defined by schedules for bells, buses, and vacations instead of standards for students and learning."
National Education Commission on Time and Learning
1255 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20202-7591
(202) 653-5019
Read the whole report at

Comments, anyone?

Friday, November 18, 2011

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, motorcycle moment.

Maybe it's no coincidence: While cleaning out my home office recently I came across a thin three-ring binder of poems written during a semester of Vanderbilt University writing classes with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet-in-residence Philip Levine (he received the news of that award the evening before a class session). There are a few unpublished poems in binder, ones not in my little book of poetry that has languished at, a victim of my congenital lack of fiscal motivation, for years. If you want to take a look at that it's at You can get a .pdf download for like a buck and a quarter.

 That semester with Levine is a story unto itself, one which I may write someday, but not here.

One of those poems was written the week of April 9th, 1995, on the anniversary of our loss of our father, Edwin Augustus Merrick III, who had died in 1985. At the risk of being accused of double-dipping my grief, I submit it here to mark the passing of William Claude Merrick (November 22, 1952-January 20, 2011). I will note Levine's hand-written comment: "Don't abandon this -- much of the writing is potent & there is true candor here." I hope you agree.

May Bill, my much missed little brother, rest in peace. And I mean it. As with all my poems, I feel it's best read aloud, if under your breath. Please accept...
On April 9th 
The first year, on this day, my mood was maudlin.
Those who knew me knew the reason why:
Between me and the world thee hung a coffin
suspended in the air. Although I'd try
to focus past it to the tasks at hand,
nothing I could do or say sufficed.
Later on, my anger at the man
and sorrow (over having lost him, twice)
as if bound by blood oath, would contrive
most painful ways to show the day was coming.
These past few years, the ache, alive,
less violent, has assumed a soft, incessant drumming.
Today I had not marked the day at all
until my hand picked up a telephone, to call.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

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!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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:


Saturday, October 15, 2011

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...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

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:
Cover Art


DavidsonDean, LLC
Category: Education
Updated: Oct 04, 2011

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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):

Sunday, September 18, 2011

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." She dropped me a notecard in her instant message, and it is this that prompted this blog post. Perhaps it will help some of the 0 people (binary again) "get it."

Note that when Nymf says she read my "profile," that is simply one way to learn more about the people you meet in a virtual world. All it takes is a properly located right-click. Sometimes I wish real-life were so simple...

A picture of the Science Circle HQ (click to enlarge):

Here's Nymf's notecard, repurposed here with her permission:
Good day Scottmerrick,
Couldn't help reading your profile :)
I would like to inform you about “Nymf’s Science Circle”.
The Circle is an alliance of RL Scientists from various fields who gather twice a month. At each meeting a member of the science circle, will give a presentation on a subject of the presenter's choice. We normally seek offers from members of the circle some weeks in advance.  Each presentation is followed by a Q&A and discussion session.  The discussions are  lively and informative, as our different perspectives inform the discussion. They are, however, also conducted with mutual respect and courtesy. 
It is our aim to connect different disciplines, tickle creativity & inventiveness. Share knowledge globally and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas from our different disciplines. This is why we encourage members from all scientific disciplines to join us.
 We aim to create the atmosphere of those fun,  free-wheeling seminars of our early careers.
Until now we have had a wide variety of topics and participation;
1. “The Anthropocene Epoch” by Vic Machalak
2. “The Chinese Room and Strong AI” by Boythorn Ironclad
3. “Religions and Rome” by Perfututor Janus 
4. “Technology and Evolution” by Darkeagle Darkstone
5. “Stem cells” by Alfa Roux
6. "Perception and limits of reality" by Deepthinker Oh
7. "Genome Expression and Internet Communications: An Interdisciplinary Comparison" by Vic Machalak
8. "Search Engines" (about the new Wolfram Alfa conceptual knowledge engine) by Vic Machalak
9. "Extending the human life span" by Deepthinker Oh
10. "Particle Physics" by Vic Machalak
11."Virtual World using OpenSim" by Darkeagle Darkstone
12."Aspergers, Autism & the Rainman" by Deepthinker Oh and Arisia Vita
13."The Monty Hall problem" by Deepthinker Oh
14. "Interdisciplinary Science in Second Life" by Vic Michalak
15. "Computer and Network Security" by Darkeagle Darkstone 
We run a website as well, for uploading the seminars in PDF, interviews with our  members, events, documentaries, weblinks, the Magazine "Gray Matters" and much more, have a look at
 If you are a RL Scientist… consider joining the Circle!
We are hosted at Nature Publishing Group 
 If you aren't a scientist but would like to be kept informed about Circle-meetings... join Nymfs Forum. Go to Search, button Groups, Type; Nymfs Forum and join.
For information and memberships IM Nymf Hathaway or email
P.S. Whilst crafting this post, my avatar Scottmerrick Oh received yet another announcement from yet another group of science educators, announcing a community gathering happening in 15 minutes (from this writing). It's rich inworld, ya'll...

As summer drifts into autumn in the northern hemisphere, temperatures drop, and our thoughts turn to cryogenics.  Join us today at 10AM SLT to listen with us to the live BBC radio show, The Naked Scientists.  Bring your mittens and earmuffs.  SciLands (104,136,28)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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 industry, and the more jobs that are mandated by the structures created to monitor it, even if the structures themselves are clearly offensive and ineffective, even harmful, the less likely we are ever going to see rational changes implemented. Yes, friends, it's that old love hate relationship, and its name is Capitalism. "It's the economy, dummy." Entrenched ways of doing things are self sustaining practices, and survival is keyed to self-preservation. In order to effect progressive change, we must negatively impact jobs.

Here are a couple questions I'd like to ask, in no particular order.

1) How many jobs are fueled by the commercial agencies that sell ACT and SAT prep? ACT and SAT delivery and evaluation? Other like entities for other standardized testing? See this list of Standardized Tests in the United States for a whiff of an answer. You don't even really need the number do you (though it would be interesting to ascertain)? Lots.

2) How many jobs are filled by those in and around the textbook industry (largely vestigial in the 21st century, though the industry does everything it can to deny that fact, for self-preservation, duh) whose INCREDIBLE prices are necessitated to support it? Well, hmmmmm, according to this blog (linger there a while), ~182,200,000 textbooks are sold every year and "between 1986 and 2004 textbook prices rose 186% in the US." How about college bookstores, around half of which are "private, for profit companies." Anybody look at textbook publisher CEO salaries lately?

3) Old models sustain employment by thousands, and changing them in any meaningful way stands to threaten jobs in major quantities. How that that ever be made right?

That's all I'm going to toss out this morning, but consider it tossed.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

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, parents, staff, and other community members find themselves able to access and nurture whatever online communities they belong to, within the workplace they share.

Let's accelerate that process. Right now, take a minute to call, email, or write the Metropolitan Nashville School Board to advocate for access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media within the walls of the school buildings for the MNPS community. Charge them with the responsibility they have as a Board to facilitate this important change at the State level. Be nice: These people navigate rough waters these days, all in the name of doing the right thing by our students. They need to know that we want this; and if enough voices are heard, change will be implemented.

Board Office 
Phone: (615)259-8487

Snailmail:   2601 Bransford Ave. Nashville, TN 37204

Want some further motivation to do so? Read this: After you read, ask yourself this question: "Why cannot our own teachers and administrators in Nashville, Tennessee use the tools at hand to innovate in the right directions the way that Chris Lehmann and his supercharged faculty at Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy have?"

Chris Lehmann flanked by two of his social media savvy students

A couple more links with more information for the effort:



Straight from the DOE: Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites

Just sayin'...

Monday, August 22, 2011

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."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

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!

Friday, July 29, 2011

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 it up in. We've been interviewing for adjunct teachers to teach our core courses and looking at other options for our kids, and we truly look forward to making this happen. I promise to be a better blogger soon, but I wanted to share our new banner/logo here, just to note that it's really happening!

We'll be setting up shop in the historic Cohn Adult Learning Center, taking over a tasty wing of the top floor where we'll administrate, consult, collaborate, and facilitate our way into the future. I've been working on the website all week, and though it's not "there" yet it's certainly "getting there." 

For a good rundown from a local perspective, see Nashville City Paper's July 26, 2011 article "Metro Nashville Public Schools prepped to open virtual school" which does a good job of summarizing!

Don't be a stranger!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

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

external image uBs-_SIIST4Sxz-duov-HvaBdIrOytATh9AcP0ugUAIgcTqfKJYbtHr_Vskd77W8h3nGDXMSlOGbsVTdu849Gkxkxh_6kl5SvPL8-qXgnpgXgZZ77xc

This year I have to say unequivocally that we suffered from poor placement and, I have to add, poor promotion. The space itself was fabulous, but both its location and our visibility in the signage and in the media were poor at best. Tom illustrate this point, I had to present on a two hour panel workshop in 126a Tuesday from 2:00 to 4:00, and when I realized I needed something from the Playground I sent an otherwise capable colleague for it, with directions to find Andy for help locating it. 20 minutes later he returned empty handed. Clarifying the directions by adding "right next to Registration, take the nearest escalator up," I sent him back with his brother to help him. 10 minutes later the both returned empty handed.That's how ridiculously hard we were to find.

Still, we served as the conference home to a strong core cadre, and we shared 31 absolutely top-notch presentations (with only one no-show, a victim to food poisoning) relating to our theme of learning and teaching in virtual worlds, all over a hectic but generally clockwork-smooth two days. An important aspect to remember this year is that over half of those presentations originated remotely! We heard from Second Life, Unity Jibe, ReactionGrid, NirvanaGrid, Quest Atlantis, World of Warcraft, WiloStar3D, LEGO Universe, Mine Craft, and more.

We can totally rectify the placement issue in San Diego for ISTE11 by prioritizing traffic to the top of our needs, and I even would submit that we can do without the second presentation display if it is a choice between one or the other. Bron suggests that we insist on co-placement with Games and Simulations and I think this make great good sense on a number of levels.

It will be more than interesting to see the data that we were able to gather via the electronic scanners this year. Meanwhile, again, THANK YOU ALL!

Second Life Virtual Environments Playground in the Sky

Is it possible that even though attendance in the audience in Philadelphia was light compared to past years we had immense success globally through the Second Life (and browser-based ustream iteration) Playground mirror? Absolutely! Our own Jane Wilde/Esme Qunhua, organizer extraordinaire, made things go so well there that we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Want evidence if you were not there? Jane had her Marlboro College grad students create a flickr stream. It’s here: __ . Put on some dynamic music and watch that slideshow, ya’ll. Thanks to everyone who contributed, too, including Esme’s students (who redesigned my lame first attempt at setting things up into a comfie and welcoming virtual space. Wow. Just wow.

The video that streamed into Second Life and out into the ether of the internet was recorded and archived, and we are looking for volunteers to break it down into sessions from the large (as large as 5 hours) video recordings. Please see Spiff/Andy if you would like to do that, or if you have students you would like to assign to that task. I’ll make sure that you get the footage to work with.

SIGVE Birds of a Feather Session

external image soVd1K-7PME5nZfK_evtDZb6aEf0CgIfS0QzunTMIK3-6xgU5T4T8LF3YBbyPQmVz_XayEdv9UyAkdXHk9AOeCyt3RRZGzAjktYjpitY3X3XCrm5R_E
Monday early evening I arrived back up to the Playground right at the BOF start after having presented “Ten Tips to Building a Virtual School” with Dr.s Kecia Ray and Kathy Haydn and at that time there were only around a half a dozen stalwarts. I thought, “Well, this will be short and sweet.” As people trickled in, tired from an intense day of networking and learning, I realized that the session had generated a great turnout, with tears more than once and hugs all around. We still adjourned before the full allotted hour but it surely was sweet. Andy shared the news that Bob Vojtek is our upcoming Poobah-in-training and presented me with a service award from ISTE and we shared deeply in community and tribe. From that meeting we determined to achieve better Playground placement in San Diego, to publish the Virtual Education Journal bi-monthly, to have more socials (perhaps in conjunction with the regular Newbie Socials, and to retain our status as Topic Level SIG in order to avoid getting caught up in the protocols Division Level SIGs must deal with.

At that event, Andrew took the reins as Lowly High Grand Poobah and I joined Lisa Linn as Poobah Emeritus. Grand Poobah Bob Vojtek was installed in that position and we are off and running toward San Diego for ISTE2012. In the meantime we have Speaker Sessions to offer and share. Please 
__follow the wiki__ and come join us for those. They are important, interesting, and valuable.

The Black Jacket

external image 8vpUXCWxbSqdMlYQfyUSH8zT70GoMzHyzijDKiJDDNEkpzkIKK0JAZUNbIgvMLKKNXNuykjMo1-rMUMrXyw1-ix3lZM3Ky_wN8SZ-IPaf8e16fLlCHE

Yes, I was awarded the coveted “Making IT Happen” jacket at the Sunday night opening reception. It’s the male version of the Pink Jacket and I am glad it’s black, although I did tell them I would have been happy with a pink one. This is awarded to a handful of people annually in our organization of 20,000 or so, so it’s a great honor. I’ll tell you now, if I could cut it up and mail pieces of it to all of you who, through your own work and innovation, contributed to the visibility that landed me the actual award, I’d readily do so. Since I can’t, and since it’s actually a really nice satin jacket, I’ll just keep it and wear it for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

SIG Open House

external image BvsY-CiZTE6tSugel9NdWwIqSbm6SrnLHS9hcBKFIdjRlLnpgemGjU7xURU3b6_TRwM3V9c3lq-F1p2hAGeGoPCSGYmdP2cuuGVpcnC44G-3irEEKw0

Sunday after a hefty and really rewarding SIG Leadership Day, we descended upon the poster session area for our SIG Open House. Andy, Bob and I held down the fort along with several others (Kimberly was everywhere with us all week. Look out, Kim, you may be targeted for more of a leadership role ongoingly :).) Now there’s a punctuation challenge! We generated some extra buzz by setting out __JamParty4Education__application forms. By the way, if you didn’t get your copy for your school, holler to me and I’ll show you how.

SIGVE Machinima Festival 2011

external image ym8yH_FHx9n_OLcSw2b6bhY0N0cSLPHmW1fDnLDelbAzoKiI6kDnwqx58z5UFacb5jYCfLE1do631DNjjwjecc9sxfFYL-4rIreJSV8X0B6SYloRFsA

This was fantastic! To take a load off at the end of a day and to sit with 50 or 60 colleagues of like mind and interests and be treated to our own Marianne Malmstrom, aka Knowclue Kidd, thoughtfully and flawlessly leading us through more than a dozen examples of movies made in Second Life or in other virtual worlds--movies made by K12 students, college students, teachers, professors, or program designers, well, that was a fine trip. Another goodly sized group enjoyed ustreamed video in Second Life for the entire hour and a half. One thing that struck me is that, yes, the usual suspects were there--co-founders of SIGVE, newcomers, all the folks who contribute year-round--but in addition to those good people, there was a plethora of new faces. Is this a key to growing the tribe for the future? I think so. Next year we will be adding a popcorn machine, by hook or by crook. We will make sure we can get proper lumens to the projector first thing by turning off the room lights (without the need to have a half dozen conference tech folks attempt to do so before achieving the goal). We will promote even better, since having all witnessed how fun and engaging it is, we know for sure what we’re sharing. Thanks to Marianne/KC for her tireless work to make this happen, and thanks to Terra/Louise for making it work with the conference planners. Spiff, we’re counting on you and the rest of our Tribe to make it shine even brighter next year! Until then, or until I stumble into you inworld or online or “in real life,” keep the faith, whichever it may be. Life(s) is good.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

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!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My ISTE11 Conference Planner

All times are local.

and here's a conference planning map, including some secondary locations that I'd like to visit if I can pry myself away from the conference center:

View ISTE 2011 Philadelphia in a larger map

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

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 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 (Virtual Environments) Gathering: Virtual Learning with Real People Add to Planner Add to Planner
[Concurrent Session: Birds-of-a-Feather] 
Monday, 6/27/2011, 5:30pm–6:45pm
PACC Grand Ballroom Lobby
Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
Scott Merrick, Metro Nashville Public Schools 
Members and others will gather to celebrate our year, share a vision for SIG Virtual Environments, and pass the leadership torch.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

Virtual Environments Playground Add to Planner Add to Planner
[Learning Station Session: Playground] 
Monday, 6/27/2011, 8:00am–4:00pm
PACC Grand Ballroom Lobby
Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 9:00am–4:00pm
PACC Grand Ballroom Lobby
Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
Scott Merrick, Metro Nashville Public Schools with Andrew Wheelock
This area will highlight various virtual environment projects, platforms, and ideas for educators looking to push the boundaries of educational technology exploration. Hosted by ISTE's SIGVE.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

Virtually There? Ten Tips To Building a Virtual Learning Program Add to Planner Add to Planner
[Concurrent Session: Panel] 
Monday, 6/27/2011, 2:30pm–3:30pm
Virtual Schooling/E-learning : Virtual Learning Technologies
Kecia Ray, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools with Cathy Cavanaugh, Kathy Hayden, Scott Merrick and Barbra Thoeming
Learn 10 critical lessons to help build effective and efficient virtual learning programs for student instruction and teacher professional development.  (Contains Commercial Content)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

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 performances at the Bluebird!

    Sunday, June 05, 2011

    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 Environments Add to Planner Add 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 Susannah Renzi
    Think history is dull? This presentation will highlight a powerful new way of bringing history to life.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE (Contains Commercial Content)

    SAP141B Design Spaces for Learning: Exploring Physical and Virtual Learning Areas Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Workshop: Hands-on] Seats still available.
    Saturday, 6/25/2011, 12:30pm–3:30pm
    PACC 118A
    School Improvement : Digital-Age School Design
    Chris Johnson, University of Arizona with David Jakes and Christian Long
    The design of school spaces affect how students learn. Discover how you can employ "design thinking" to create and redesign schools and classrooms that support digital age learning.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    Dive into Virtual Worlds: Learning about Ecosystems through Immersion Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Concurrent Session: Model Lesson] 
    Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 2:00pm–3:00pm
    PACC 119A
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Shari Metcalf, Harvard University with Chris Dede
    Learn real science, virtually! With EcoMUVE’s immersive, inquiry-based curriculum, discover plants and animals, dive underwater, shrink to microscopic size, travel through time and collect and analyze data.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    SUF222W Digiteacher Workshop: Digital Citizenship within a Project-Based Learning Environment Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Workshop: Hands-on] Seats still available.
    Sunday, 6/26/2011, 8:30am–3:30pm
    PACC 121C
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Digital Citizenship
    Vicki Davis, Flat Classroom Projects with Julie Lindsay
    Discover the project-based method of teaching digital citizenship in this workshop from Digiteen Project co-founders Vicki “Cool Cat Teacher” Davis and Julie Lindsay.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE, SIGDE, SIGLIT

    Games, Simulations, and Virtual Environments for Learning and Teaching Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Concurrent Session: Panel] 
    Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 1:15pm–2:15pm
    PACC 103A
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Games & Simulations
    Greg Jones, University of North Texas with Lisa Dawley and Chris Dede
    Discover games, simulations, virtual environments, and visual experiences in education and see projects that benefit learning and teaching.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE, SIGGS

    Immersive Worlds, Immersive Learning: How 3D Virtual Worlds Change Everything Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Concurrent Session: Lecture] 
    Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 10:15am–11:15am
    PACC 111B
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Diane Lewis, Seminole County Public Schools with Janine McGrath
    Learn how you can provide truly immersive learning experiences in 3D worlds from Second Life and Quest Atlantis to WOW and many worlds in between.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    Learning Between Worlds: Integrating Virtual and Real World Classrooms Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Learning Station Session: Poster] 
    Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 4:00pm–6:00pm
    PACC Broad St Atrium , Table: 35
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Technology Integration
    Rory Nackerud, Center4EduPunx 
    Experience the integration techniques of a social media instructor morphed into a student teacher of middle and high school language arts and science.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE  (Contains Commercial Content)

    Machinima Fest 2011 Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Other Program Events: Meeting/Gathering] 
    Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 5:30pm–7:00pm
    PACC 126A
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Kae Novak, Front Range Community College with Marianne Mahlstrom, Rory Nackerud and Andrew Wheelock
    Machinima Fest 2011 will showcase videos created using 3D virtual worlds or games, and it's potential for learning and communicating. Discover the possibilities of using machinima in your classroom.  Everyone invited! Sponsored by SIGVE. For more information, including how to submit a video of your own, please visit  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    Project-Based Learning for Interactive Education in Virtual Worlds Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Learning Station Session: Poster] 
    Monday, 6/27/2011, 8:00am–10:00am
    PACC Broad St Atrium , Table: 25
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Susan Toth-Cohen, Thomas Jefferson University 
    This poster details the specific steps and outcomes of project-based learning for graduate students who collaboratively developed virtual world exhibits on health and wellness.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    Real World-InWorld Design Challenge: Inspire Students to Solve Space Challenges Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Learning Station Session: Poster] 
    Monday, 6/27/2011, 8:00am–10:00am
    PACC Broad St Atrium , Table: 24
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Sharon Bowers, National Institute of Aerospace with Mark Clemente
    Through both face-to-face (real world) and virtual world (InWorld) collaborations, students solve NASA-inspired design challenges. New challenges available each school year.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    TSIGOL SIGOL/SIGVE Forum: Teaching in the Cloud! Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Other Program Events: Forum/Summit/Symposium] Seats still available.
    Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 2:00pm–4:00pm
    PACC 105B
    Virtual Schooling/E-learning : Virtual Learning Technologies
    Kecia Ray, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools with Kevin Honeycutt, Scott Merrick and John Ross
    Virtual, online, and immersive learning environments are becoming much more accessible and acceptable. Visit this forum to find out just how accessible learning can be for students and teachers!  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    SIGVE (Virtual Environments) Gathering: Virtual Learning with Real People Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Concurrent Session: Birds-of-a-Feather] 
    Monday, 6/27/2011, 5:30pm–6:45pm
    PACC Grand Ballroom Lobby
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Scott Merrick, Metro Nashville Public Schools 
    Members and others will gather to celebrate our year, share a vision for SIG Virtual Environments, and pass the leadership torch.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE

    The 3 Cs: Connecting, Communicating, and Collaborating for Student Scientific Research Add to Planner Add to Planner
    [Learning Station Session: Global Collaboration Project] 
    Sunday, 6/26/2011, 7:00pm–8:30pm
    PACC Broad St Atrium , Table: 13
    Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Virtual Environments
    Randall Thomas, GLOBE Program/UCAR with Donna Charlivoix and Martos Hoffman
    The Student Climate Research Campaign uses open source virtual platforms to engage an international community of students, teachers, and scientists in scientific inquiry and research.  Recommended by ISTE's SIGVE  (Exhibitor-Sponsored)

    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...