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Monday, November 27, 2017

educatorstechnology.com, y'all

Ya'll,

I have a link for ya.


http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2017/09/32-educational-websites-organized-by.html

This is pretty stunning if you run a computer lab or you are a classroom teacher who wants to amp up your tech in the classroom. I stumbled upon it a week or so ago and, otherwise focused, simply pasted its url into a new blogpost so I'd have the draft to share it. Why is it worth visiting? First, just look at this quote from its "About" frame:
Coming to you from the wonderful Nova Scotian city, Halifax (Canada), Educational Technology and Mobile Learning is an educational blog dedicated to curating, reviewing and sharing EdTech tools and mobile apps. The purpose is to help teachers and educators effectively integrate digital technologies into their day-to-day teaching, learning and professional development. For any questions regarding the blog website or the published content , please contact EdTech admin, editor and blog owner, Med Kharbach at: info@educatorstechnology.com.
Med Kharbach is a doctoral researcher and a former teacher with 10 years of classroom teaching experience. Med's research interests include: discourse analysis, language learning, linguistics, Internet linguistics, critical linguistics, new (emerging) literacies, critical pedagogy, and educational technology.
How can you deny that you are tickled to learn about a regularly maintained, smartly written, and timely collection of collections. Just view the homepage via the screengrab below and Favorite, Subscribe, Bookmark, and RSS feed at will.

Finally, it's homebased at freakin' Halifax, Nova Scotia. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?

Stellar.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Dreamers Exhibit in Second Life

Wow. I had a fantastic hour early this morning while my lovely was sleeping and the canine brutes were resting in front of the fireplace. Lured by the login page's description, I tp'd over to the site, which promised a celebration of peace in the face of violence. 

The description of the project begins:
Because violence will not take away our ability to dream!
When we were just beginning to create this project, the events of Charlottesville happened. Our hearts stopped. We cannot do this - we thought - we must alert to the political situation we live in! The danger of tyranny. The danger of environmental disaster. The danger of xenophobia, sexism, homophobia. The danger of hate! But then we stopped.
From within us came this beach, this horizon. This sea, this lake, these white clouds grew. No! We will not give up on The Dreamers. We will not give up on beauty. They will not steal the beauty of the world. They will not steal tenderness. They will not steal the life we have left.
And so, our beach is our resistance!
I commend the artists and highly recommend that you visit http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Nordan%20om%20Jorden/64/223/21 
TheDreamers111217

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and Great Music

Hey, all,

Any and all sales of my CDBaby digital album from Alaska will, until further notice, go to help my brother Ed work through the impact the recent hurricane had on the life of his family.

Pick up some good tunes and help out, please!



Scott Merrick and the Last Frontier Band | Scott Merrick's Songs for Alaska

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Important Passings

Since this blog has always been an oblique mashup of professional and personal, sort of "my book," as much-loved sister-in-law Amy calls it, I feel a need to share with interested parties that my dear mother-in-law, Ann Jennalie Cook Calhoun, passed away on August 13 after illness followed by surgery one month prior. She will be missed.

Also, her husband, "GMan" to my children, their last living grandfather, passed away on the same date. As Ann's health deteriorated, his own followed suite and he was admitted along with her to Alive Hospice, where they struggled for only several days before passing, both in the same hospice room, passing only hours apart. Gerry went first, and I believe that Ann felt that passing, and joined him as soon as she could.

There is a wonderful picture of the two of them holding hands, both unconscious, near their final moments. I would like to share it as inspiration and solace to those of you who knew them.

For anyone wishing more detail, we have set up a Caringbridge.org website.

Vanderbilt News has published a beautiful tribute to Ann, which you can view here.

Hold on to the ones you love, and tell them, frequently, that you love them.

Peace out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Alike

This incredible short film was shared on Facebook by my dear brother-from-another-mother, James Paige Morrison, and I want to share it out with everyone who might benefit from watching it. That's you.

It's almost a cliche' that the systems which control our growth from infancy to the grave can stifle creativity, almost as if they were designed to do so. They have, in fact, rather evolved to do so. Perhaps with a little more awareness, we can help them further evolve to embrace creativity. LOTS of discussion in the educational arena surrounding this. It's the essential reason that STEM became STEAM. The addition of the A, adding Art to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is the best development in formal education since the addition of the pencil.

Let's keep the educational trend pendulum swinging in that direction (because you do know it swings, don't you?) and when it gets to its apogee, let's push it a little further! Watch:

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ISTE 2017 -3


So. Where was I?

Oh. ISTE2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

I have a confession to make:

In spite of pre-selecting a good number of sessions at ISTE17, using the online scheduler “Favorites” function, which nicely translated into the conference app for my iPhone, I actually attended not...session...one.

I suppose I am tired of "sit and git." I prefer a more learner-centered experience, with "student" choice and flexibility according to my interests.

It was more useful for me, and more rewarding, and more of a personalized learning experience, to doggedly peruse the Poster sessions that were available at nearly all times of day and to visit Playgrounds. When I first set foot in the long hall when sessions were going on (I had already more or less presented one, with Barbara and Andy, at the Sunday PLN Networking Fair), I was struck by the rapt groups of educators looking at the bulletin boards at each station, scanning their QR codes and iPhotoing displays with links, and listening to truly impassioned educators discuss the topic they had come to present.
2017-06-26 09.08.11.jpg        2017-06-26 09.11.56.jpg


Wes made me want to submit and share a poster session for ISTE18. I don’t know what it will be, but I plan to create one. He was clearly having so much fun! I met a MS OneNote warrior from Bowling Green whose brain I intend to tap for the upcoming year's work. I saw multiple presentations that gave me new insights into how Minecraft can enhance learning opportunities for students. I learned more about 3D modeling and printing. I learned a lot!

Monday early evening our group caught the Online Learning Network’s annual social and ate well there at Rita's on the River. Great food, great beverage, and a fun time for all. Michelle and Nathan do a bang-up job with that event, and with that PLN, and I got to see my dear pal Joanie Roehre. After, we hiked up to another TexMex restaurant, and I had one of those monster margaritas with a bottled beer upended in it. I was to regret that (only a little) in the morning.

Tuesday morning was an early one. Alarms went off and we got up and showered and dressed. A quick forced march the three long blocks to the convention center then the obligatory hike halfway around the giant more-or-less circle that comprises the building to the double meeting room where the PLN Leadership breakfast meeting was being held.

There was LOTS of food. Before helping myself to the gracious plenty of the food tables, though, I logged into Second Life at our table then made sure our Beth was there. Beth O’Connell, aka Beth Ghostraven in Second Life and mostly anywhere, is this year’s recipient of our Professional Learning Community’s “Pioneer of the Year Award.” Since she was not in San Antonio, we planned to bring her into the event in order to receive her award. Last year, Mary O’Brien, aka Selena Offcourse, received hers and we had her up on the projector screen and it was a show-stopping moment.

This year, as we got into our PLN awards (every PLN gives one award, sometimes two, annually), Simon Helton called the presenting representatives from all PLNs up to stand in a line. I would suggest that not be done next year, since in the time we made it all the way to the end--think V in the alphabet--Mary signaled me that my laptop was dying with a drained battery, Andy fire up his MS Surface and got logged into SL, and apparently fitting his video dongle into the input on the podium was something that could not be accomplished in time. Mary bravely turned the screen of the Surface to the audience (there were 200-300 folks in attendance) and the award was awarded. Beth had prepared some words but Andy only had time to share the first two lines, actually only the first line, since the second was thanking Andy and I and Andy is too humble to read that to the assembled. It was GE Good Enough, but next year let’s try setting up the video before breakfast! Congratulations to Beth, who is hard working in the ultimate extreme.

After breakfast I had some online image uploading, some emails, and some blogging to do, so I headed over to the Bloggers Lounge to work a bit and to watch the second keynote on the flatscreen feed there. My friend Helen Compton was working on a paper there and we hung out together with occasional chit chat catching up the way I do with colleagues I see in person only once a year but whose works I follow online all year. Helen, who is a Professor at Old Dominion University in Roanoke, Virginia, has published over 90 scholarly chapters, papers, articles, or books over the past four years and is on track for early tenure at ODU. She’s a writing machine, whose special area of focus is mobile learning. I watch her globe-trotting over the year as she is in high demand for speaking engagements all over the world.

The second keynote was even more well-received than the first. Jenny Magiera, of the National Teachers Academy, proved eloquent, well- but simply-spoken, and charismatic. My attention was in and out of the presentation, but I was listening closely when she talked about how when you meet someone in day to day life, you might not learn she’s a lawyer until well on in the conversation, but a teacher will share profession early on. Why? Because it’s what she/he is. It is core to a teacher’s existence to be a teacher. Coming to ISTE every year, it strikes Magiera that everyone she meets feels at home, liked, embraced, since literally everyone in the vast room knows their challenges and shares their passion for teaching and learning. This year, with 21,000 people in the “room,” that effect was never so powerful for me. I relate, and apparently the audience did too!

Helen had to get down to a Poster Session and I met Andy to do a little Expo Floor “exploration.” I spent much less time out there this year--I don’t know why. Yes, I do. It’s because I’m not in need of much. And the commercial feeding frenzy that the Expo Floor represents is less appealing to me in this day and age of budget cuts to Education. At least I think that’s it.

I went back down to the Poster Session floor. Every year when I tell local colleagues I attended ISTE, it seems I get the question from someone, “What was the buzz word? What’s the hot trend?” Well, this year I can list a handful.

  • STEAM--To the four STEM strands of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math the Arts addition has been mostly adopted. IMHO that’s a good thing. The Arts, and the art within each of these fields of focus, can help tie each one of them to the rest, as well as stand alone. Long ago, we called that a Liberal Arts education, and yes, it’s a pendulum, and yes, the pendulum swings.
  • Virtual and Augmented Realities--These have come along nicely, and as the application of Moore’s Law finds its connection with them, and as price points go down and size decreases as memory and functionality increase proportionally, they will continue to. Our Virtual Environments Network is broadening its scope to embrace these topics/technologies and you could certainly tell that at our Virtual Environments and Games & Simulations Playground. Treat yourself--visit the one-hour-plus Periscope I did for our Playground, which lasted three hours. It was a hoot doing that for people who could not attend and if that is a category of educator that fits you, this was for you. I did so under the auspices of the SLMooc17, a month-long sharefest of learning and teaching ideas from virtual worlds.
  • 3D printing--more than a few of the Poster sessions celebrated the Makerspace movement. If students get involved in creating things, especially in creating tools and objects which can make a contribution toward solving real-world problems, this will continue to gain traction.
  • Coding--It the words of Reshma Saujan, ISTE17 final keynote speaker, “Coding is the new Craft.” As those who made and maintained horseshoes were relegated to a small population of specialists in the past, those who drive trucks, repair auto bodies, and deliver, well, anything, will need new skills. Many of new jobs will require coding skills--in banks, corporations, factories, you name it.

Tuesday, of course, was the Playground for us. I was disappointed at first by two of the three scheduled table presenters, including Classcraft and a group of VR and AR presenters who had been scheduled to be there at 1:30 to set up and scrambled to have some content there for folks. A lovely young teacher named Heather came to the rescue to play and talk about Minecraft at one table, while I set up Second Life at the other until Devin Young and crew showed up (apparently waylaid by reps from Microsoft, as I understood it) for that table. One can’t be mad at that crew for long though. Said Gavin, “We work for the students first and then for the business.” That’s a good working business model, and it’s working for them. Look into Classcraft.

After the Playground it was a quick hike to the other side of the convention center and the Edumachinima Festival. As you likely know, we have been putting this on with Kae and Chris from the Games & Simulations Network for several years. This year, in an effort to create a larger audience than in the past, by creating perceived shortage of space, we printed tickets and handed them out. It was a fun hour, but we need to rethink a number of things about it for next year--turnout was light to say the least. Still, it was fun!

Boom, then it was time for EdTechKaraoke.

I had never attended, but aside from the $15.00 beers, it was totally fun. I’d recommend it to anyone attending ISTE18 in Chicago. By the time we had grabbed a gnosh at Pat O’Brian’s and hiked over there, the three finalists were performing and we heard their mostly really good performances. A good time was had by all. Some pics:
2017-06-27 22.55.17.jpg      2017-06-27 22.48.23.jpg

To bed and done with all presenting. Wednesday was another day of a little Expo floor, a run through the Posters (I met a Microsoft OneNote wizard high school teacher from just up the road in Bowling Green and learned a lot from him in a short time), and a quick lunch down at Stella Public House a mile or so from my friend Bill’s studio. That proved fortuitous, since I was able to have my Uber driver drop me at his place then walk to Stella. Bill had gifted me an autographed copy of a book celebrating his The Wall installation/performance in San Antonio and I had left it there when leaving. I now have it and I’m glad I do! Here’s a link to a story about Bll’s work.

After lunch I ubered back and met back up with Andy, Mary, and Barbara to cash in that Special Entry entitlement one last time. We sat for the music, this time a solo performance by another local talent who sang and played an open-tuned acoustic guitar. I did not catch the artist's name, so please comment if you know it! Good stuff.


Mila Fuller, ISTE Board President, introduced Reshma Saujani, who outlined her work with “Girls Who Code,” a non-profit dedicated to addressing the gender inequity rampant in Computer Science and in particular the Coding professions. I’ve already written about coding, above, but you should know that Saujani has turned out tens of thousands of afterschool program graduates, and that 93% of those grads have declared their intentions to pursue a major or minor in Computer Science in their post-secondary educational lives. I was particularly struck by her plea for everyone to pursue their passions, as she related her own failures to enter politics and her discovery of the CS gender inequities that fueled her pathway. Take a step, she said, take that first step, then you’ll find that the second one comes, then the next, “until you have taken so many steps along your own path that you can never go back.” For her, the first step was buying the girlswhocode.com domain for $1.99. What is yours?

I quit the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center at the end of the day Wednesday with the gratification that comes from being a well-recognized fish in a relatively small but challenging and forward-thinking pool. ISTE17 is my happy place, just like Tinwings is my lovely Lee Ann’s. I learn and share, that’s what I do, and Lee Ann cooks and shares, that’s what she does. I’ll stay in touch with my colleagues via various social media and tech platforms throughout the year and I’ll see you, one and all, in Chicago next year at #ISTE18. Be there. That is all.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

ISTE 2017--2

It has long been my opinion that anyone sent to a conference on a school's budget should be required to report out in some detail about how his or her time and energy was spent at that event. Though my school and district did not fund me this year, I want to thank ISTE for providing me complimentary registration and also for the gift of a complimentary membership as outgoing PLN leader. I had been chair of the Virtual Environments Network for 2016-17 and am stepping down to Co-Chair this year, giving the capable Andrew Wheelock the virtual reins. This swap is not unprecedented, he laughs.

I encapsulated Sunday already, but let me go back. Flying into the San Antonio International Airport Saturday evening, I looked around for someone who looked like a teacher in order to persuade them to share a ride to downtown hotels. Who but I see but Marrie Duhart, MNPS Learning Tech wizard, and her husband, and after introductions and a little pow-wow we grabbed an Uber into town. I had it from dear friend Barbara Seaton, who had arrived earlier, that the cab fare was 32.00, and a little google fingertipping had uncovered the average Uber fee to be more like 22.00. That worked just fine, as the Duharts were staying across the street from my hotel, the Fairmont Inns Alamo Plaza.

Checking in, I discovered a flashing light on my room phone and on picking up the message was introduced to a new thing--deferral of housekeeping services during my stay in return for Marriot member points. I went ahead and made that choice, telling myself I'd make sure to confer with my roomy, pal Andy, when he got in. I texted my friend, artist Bill Fitzgibbons, and he was downstairs to pick me up within 15 minutes.

Bill is rather famous here in San Antonio. We just started working on the 50th anniversary edition of Druid, a Humanities Magazine but had been friends and staff members on that publication back in 1969-70 at UT Knoxville. I hadn't actually seen Bill in person since around then. But now he shuttled me out to the Lonestar neighborhood to tour his fantastic art studio properties and to meet his son Sean, who is the culprit responsible for the whole anniversary issue idea (I'll be sharing more about this project here as it develops--target date May 2019). We had a beer together, caught up, and then he returned me to the hotel from which I set out into San Antonio for a brew and some sustenance at Yard House San Antonio. Andy joined me and Barbara once he hit town and peeled off on the way back to the hotel to meet up with friends elsewhere as I headed to sleep.

Up in the morning both of us worked out in the hotel fitness center, anticipating a big day, which we got. The included hotel breakfast was really quite good and we moved over to pick up registration materials and begin to explore the conference. I was surprised by what felt like a relative sparsity of people in the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Later I found that 17,000 more attendees came in later that day, Sunday, or that evening. It was the largest ISTE conference ever in terms of registered attendees.

The rest of that day has been summarized in the previous post, but I will add that the PLN Networking Fair was really fun and well attended this year. Here's a pic, featuring Barbara and Andy working their networking magic--we had lots of interest and hope to get some new participants in our copious activites throughout the year. It's such a blessing to have the tools to stay synchronous with our colleagues throughout the year without traveling...:
Barbara Seaton, left, and Andy Wheelock, right-center, sharing what we do at VEN, a LOT.

So the elitist thing kicked in when we packed up the materials from the PLN Fair and headed over to the "Ballroom" where the keynote was to be given. Easing around the thousands of educators moving into the huge room, we approached the ISTE staff members holding up little signs that said "Special Entry" (I think). Each one by turn directed us to the other until we were it seemed blocks closer to the stage than the vast numbers of teachers behind us. I admit I like that. If you want to get that for yourself in the future, hook up with leadership in any of the 20+ Professional Learning Networks and help with the PLN Fair. The whole reason for it is so hardworking volunteers aren't penalized for working at events that butt up against keynote addresses (there are three). We grabbed seats toward the back of the front special section, where we could clearly see the presenters without resorting to either of the two huge flatpanel displays on either side of them. 

The 3-piece local band, Tiarra Girls, were great. High school sisters with attitude and talent. The keynote was great, too. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jad Abumrad of NPR's Radio Lab was intense and sincere and augmented his keynote speech with his musical segues so that I felt as I were in a taping for the show. After, I heard criticisms that he didn't talk mainly about education, and that he went too long, but the real criticism I did not hear but was the elephant in the gigantic hall was this: He got so far into his talk that he convinced himself he was in his home talking to friends, and he said at one point, "Goddamnit,..." Though I wanted to stand for him at the end of his talk--which had brought me to tears during his deep decription of the "Gap" between question and answer, and that between an artist's creative vision and his successful execution of it (are you listening, my Colin?)--I did not. You deserved it, though, Jad, you deserved it. You just didn't filter your talk to the morality/beliefs of likely 80% of your audience. 

After keynote we returned to The Yard, a party consisting of Mary Howard, Andy, Barbara, and David Fleischer. We had a decent dinner, though, yes, Andy and I were underwhelmed by the Reuben sandwiches, and adjourned for home. That does Sunday, right? If you've read the previous post. 

Jump to Wednesday when my dear brother, Ed, picked me up and took me to his lakehouse 3 hours away in Mongomery, TX, then to now, Sunday, when I'm about to shower after 4 days of fishing here and take his ride to the airport bound home for Nashville. I'll fill in the blanks soon. ISTE17 was GREAT! And as a teaser, I'll mention that the 2nd Keynote had a marvelous description of the ISTE experience. I'll detail that next post, but it has to do with being in a room where everyone understands you--the challenges you face, the inequities you battle, and the passions you bring to your work. That's a wrap today. 

White bass catch at Chez Merrick in Montgomery. Yeah.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

ISTE 2017--1

Typed in the wee hours of Sunday night, June 26th:
A great start to ISTE 2017.  Andy and I hit the road early after a very good hotel breakfast, he off to TeachMeet, an unconference-like all-morning and most-afternoon event which he raved about, and I plopped myself into a comfy chair in the PLN lounge after checking out our presentation spaces, which include Playground C in the Park View Lobby and room 301A nearby. The former will host the Virtual Environments and Games & Simulations Networks' amazing 2017 Playground and the latter is the location of Tuesday night's Edumachinema Festival. I zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Okay. I just wanted to share my z story. After Sunday, when we carried off a really excellent meet and greet at the ISTE PLN Networking Fair then caught a fantastic keynote by NPR's "Radiolab" series host Jad Abumrad, we hiked down to San Antonio's Yard House Yard Housefor dinner with Barbara, David, and Mary. Then after dinner I headed back to the hotel, and Andy walked to Pat O'Brian's to meet some of his NY friends and colleagues.

I was bushed so I sat up in the bed with my laptop in my lap to start this blog post. Andy got back into the room and quickly hit the sack in the next bed. After typing the "I" up above, I must have konked out. Andy said he awoke in the middle of the night and thought I was still awake, with my hand on the keyboard and the tv still on.

Here's the thing. When the alarm went off at 5:30 for us to get ambulatory and go down to work out in the hotel fitness room, I discovered my blog post and it was FILLED with z's. I kid you not, the tab bar on the side of the edit post was a tiny sliver. I had been typing z's all frickin' night long! I wonder how many I typed before blogger simply said "enough" and locked up the browser. It was an appropriate letter, though, don'tcha think?

I'm preparing to do some more reflection on ISTE17 soon, but I wanted to get this down! If you want a taste of the conference, check out the hour + Periscope of our Network's Playground on Tuesday.

For me, I'm fishing at my brother's lakehouse in Montgomery, Texas for a few days before heading back home. I was up this morning and out on his boat dock and I've already clocked 4 catfish, one big enough to put on a stringer to be joined by his pals later in the day and filleted and fried later in the week.

I'll be doing my post-ISTE17 reflections here during the stiflingly hot hours of the mid-days coming up. For now...

Exhibit 1, the first fish this mornin':

And the early morning pano:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Virtual Plates in the Virtual Air!

Andy and I sat down last week with an inquisitive Second Life Mooc 2017 group to share with them what we do at the International Society for Technology in Education's Virtual Environments Network. It's a lot!

I'm thinking this video will be a nifty resource for our work at ISTE17 this year. Don't satisfy yourself with watching this, though there is a nice tour of our Headquarters in Second Life toward the end). Come by our table in San Antonio or drop into Second Life on Tuesday, June 27, from 12pm to 3:30pm to meet our inworld and in-life colleagues!

Our hour was just shared by the wonderful Nan Zingrone, SL Mooc 2017 administrator, at the Mooc's YouTube presence (Teaching and Learning Online). Enjoy...

Monday, June 19, 2017

End of Spring Update and Second Life Mooc 2017

Dear folks,

I hope your dwindling days of Spring are wonderful ones. I had the best Fathers Day yesterday, beginning at dawn with a fishing foray up to Marrowbone Lake, home to a long telephone conversation with my extraordinarily talented son in Philadelphia, champagne with my beautiful bride, then a long nap followed by dinner with with my multi-talented, gentle, lovely daughter and her husband down south at the edge of Brentwood. We capped the day off with three episodes of Vikings, snuggling on the sofa, and a restful night's sleep. Now it's 364 days until my next Fathers Day and I plan to do everything I can to make them every bit as wonderful.

I have high hopes for a new position at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools after a call-back interview for an exciting new district level specialist position this past Friday. That's all I can say now but stay tuned. If the ~130 encouraging responses to a Facebook post asking for spiritual support are any indication, that future is bright. Think good thoughts on that front, please.

I'll be working full-time this week to plan my upcoming week, starting Saturday, in Texas, starting at ISTE2017, where it should be no surprise to anyone who stays up with developments that I'll be co-presenting the dynamic ISTE "Virtual Environments and Games & Simulations Networks Playground and helping put on the annual "EduMachinima Fest," all on Tuesday, June 27. I will try to blog daily from San Antonio as part of my reflective practice and in order to share learning. Stay tuned here at scottmerrickdotnet.

Meanwhile, learning is going on. Surprised? My dear buddy Andrew Wheelock--engineer of Virtual Pioneers in Second Life, my musical-chairs-teammate at ISTE Virtual Environments Network, and host of "Coffee with a Geek"--and I took time to share what VEN does at the third annual "Second Life Mooc" a week ago Saturday. This amazing month of learning, organized and coordinated by Dr. Doris Molero, Dr. Nancy Zingrone, and Dr. Nellie Deutsch, is still going on, and I want to plug it in order that you may pick and choose your own live learning opportunities. Word has it that its name will change next year in order to reflect its broadening focus on other virtual environments learning potentials, beyond Second Life. Meanwhile, check out the SL Mooc course syllabus, the Mooc itself (free registration), and the Mooc schedule. Dive in!

If you can't make the "real world" ISTE Conference in San Antonio, please keep an eye out here for announcements of inworld (Second Life, primarily) events to help connect you with the learning. I will be live-streaming at least one hour of the Playground in San Antonio, likely on Periscope.Watch for pop-up events at the ISTE VEN Headquarters in SL, and of course I'll share here as well.

Be of good cheer as we enter SUMMER this Tuesday! We've earned it!

Friday, June 09, 2017

ISTE VEN and G&S Teaser

Good day.

As we approach the International Society for Technology in Education's annual conference dates, this year to be convened in San Antonio, Texas, I'm helping a very active team plan what I believe will be the most complex and intriguing Playground in ISTE history, this year's Virtual Environments and Games & Simulations Playground. In the course of doing so, I'm poking around the internetz (sic) to help me gear up.

I found this archive of a livestream from the 2014 conference and went down that particular rabbit hole to watch the whole 24 minutes. There's some great stuff there and I want to share it, random as it may be. That's how we roll.

Enjoy...

Keep one eye on the web for the live stream (note the two words, since the platform has not yet been decided upon--thought FbLive and Periscope are current top runners) of this year's Playground. You won't want to miss it.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Nashville Views at End of Spring

As we move on into June toward the first day of summer, I have been enjoying my days, fishing at  Marrowbone Lake several times, helping my honey of 30+ years at her beautiful store, Tinwings, keeping the lawn (sort of) manicured and the rain garden healthy, doing housework, and planning for ISTE 2017 in San Antonio. I have re-established my relationship with Active Worlds, forged ahead into VSTE's "Summer of Survival" in Minecraft, and begun a regular meditation practice with a new online platform called "Headspace." I've been out on my Xootr kick scooter several times already (pictured near the center of the pano below), and now that 51st Avenue North has been re-imaged into a calm route with gorgeous new blacktop, parking all up the west side and bike/walking up and down the east, I see myself doing that more regularly as well.
beautiful Nashville from the center of the John Sigenthauler walking bridge

I am hot on the trail of a couple positions for the upcoming work year and I've signed on with a major international consulting company to take on clients for training management work. I'm working, as I have done so for a good while, with my dear brother Ed and to help him bring in clients for his own industrial workplace and employee safety consulting firm, The Augustus Group. And I'm doing writing for 372WN, the fantastic community publication I've mentioned in previous posts. For a time of the year when it should be down-time, I'm up. 

I picked up a nifty Aduro long lens for my iPhone via Woot last week, and I'm going to enjoy taking pics with it henceforth. Its 8x magnification is clean and easy to mount with its clip, and here's a teaser, taken from in front of Tinwings, about 6 blocks away from the new art on the grain silo:
the new public art on our Silo Bend iconic silo
Last night, Lee Ann and I drove out west toward Montgomery Bell State Park to the home of a friend and colleague of hers and enjoyed nosh and beverage and a fantastic house show featuring the original music of Dorado, only two of the band members performing acoustically for the small gathering in its beautifully wooded setting. Forrest Miller and James (a one name, multi-talented guitarist and singer, is James) entertained with guitar play and vocal harmonies that were nothing short of beautiful. I'll be in their crowd this summer at least once when the full band plays for fans.

Have a great week. Don't be a stranger! Here's some art built from stray railroad parts picked up on recent dog walks:
"interdependent"


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Birthday 2017

As I ease into my bday tomorrow, it's the last half-day of the school year for students. It's a teacher in-service day the next day, then we are done.

I have been "released. Eligible for re-hire." That means I have my parsed out paycheck for my 10 month school year for 12 months, coming to me until the end of July, and I have insurance for me and my family until July 31. My school, the struggling Warner Enhanced Option Elementary School, has eliminated the computer teacher position: That's me. I am applying my head off, and I feel I'll fall into something great, where hopefully I can make more of a difference in children's lives than I was able to do at Warner. I'm sad for the kids. They need technology, and they won't get it without a geeky teacher, a technology advocate.

As I have often explained to the querulous--there is the city, the river, the stadium, the projects, and our school. Okay, I suppose it's not "our" school anymore after tomorrow, but it has been for a year. And this has been a year of eye-opening for me. I need to get some distance on it, and I need to rest in order to get the smile in my eyes. Stay tuned.

I will be at The Old Gas Station in The Nations tomorrow after work for their "painter watching" party, to watch Guido van Helton as he applies coats of paint on the Silo Bend silo. If you're around, drop in for a local craft beer and a hug. I'll be there from 4:30 or so until I'm tired of drinking free-on-your-birthday beer!.

Here's the even more iconic grain silo as it appeared this morning on my way to work:



Monday, May 15, 2017

ISTE 2017 is ON!

I am so excited that:


Just got registered today. It's been touch and go with the loss of district support for the travel, but I have a roomy for the first time in over a decade to save housing money and I'll do the Curly Shuffle like I usually do when the conference is in Texas: I'll fly into San Antonio and my brother will pick me up at the conference's end on Wednesday, then we'll drive back to his lakehouse in Montgomery, Texas, on Lake Conroe, for a weekend of fishing. I'll fly out of Houston home. Yay! Thanks to the ISTE Conference Committee for working with me on all this!



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Back at it in Nashville

Hello, world,

Back to work at m school after a fabulous 2000 mile road trip from Nashville to Brooklyn last week. I used the Waze app almost exclusively to get from city to city and then all the way home, with stops outside of Roanoke on the way up, then New Hope, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia; Frederick, Maryland; and Knoxville, Tennessee on the way home.

Brooklyn was so much fun, and it was just the right thing for my soul to spend some time with my boy, Colin. At 21, he's growing up--learning to manage a day and to plan for his future as he meets people and makes new friends. Last year, he was pining to be somewhere else, and he came to the conclusion that he wanted to life the "best of the best and the worst of the worst." I don't think he found the latter, if you discount how freakily expensive it is up around the Big Apple, but he certainly is finding his center, which in my opinion is the best of the best.

Those of you who are hooked up with me via Facebook, I have a photo album that almost conveys how much fun this time with my son was. He is writing staggeringly evocative lyrics, currently wrapped in acoustic guitar sort of alternative folk clothing. I can't wait to hear more, though that's always been the case. You can find him on SoundCloud with a little searching, and that's a fun trip, since he tends to store works-in-progress there.

Here's the lad taking a load off on the wall in central Times Square:


Just wanted to pop in to say that this was a trip I needed. It reminded me, after surviving--often less gracefully than I would like to--a difficult year of career change, that I am more than my day to day work. Sure, I work hard hoping that I am making a difference in the lives of at least some of my very needy, very impoverished students; but I am also a traveler, a poet, a musician, and a kind human. I intend to hold onto the feeling that I matter, even on the most difficult days. You do the same. Good day.

Friday, March 03, 2017

372WN!!!

Just dropping into me bloggie to note my highly excited pride at being included in the stable of writers for the new publication, 372WN. It's edited by the multi-talented Miriam Drennan, and each and every one of its writers is a resident of West Nashville.

372WN's homepage

It can be read online in its "issuu" incarnation, but I'm partial to the heavy-stock, hefty, beautifully printed magazine itself, free in racks at stores and businesses all over West Nashville. So far, I've had four articles published in the first two issues, I have one slated for issue 3, and I'm working on two more for the June-July issue. FUN! Pick one up, or click one up.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Virtual Reality in Support of One's Mental Health

At La Digue du Braek in Second Life
In my volunteer life, I work with some of the brightest minds in learning and teaching. Serving this year as Chair of the International Society for Technology in Education's Virtual Environments Network (VEN) affords me at least weekly opportunities to actually meet with them. Scheduled meetups are on Tuesday evenings.

After a long day at a very demanding, often-times emotionally draining teaching job at a struggling inner-city school, meeting with these friends (and it seems there are new ones joining in every week), though they may be in New York, Colorado, or Australia--actually being with them, my Second Life avatar embodying my self--helps me relax and know my worth in the world.

Once a month, on the month's first Tuesday, friend Barbara Seaton leads a session called VEN Writers Group. We visit a "sim" that is evocative in some way, artistic, moody, and always creatively designed and implemented, soak our(avatar)selves in the ambiance, and each of us pens some creative writing piece around that experience. The following month we meet at our Second Life Headquarters and share our work by turns.

Last month, we met at VEN HQ, chatted together for a moment, then visited an amazing place modelled after a mixed beach-and-industrial location on the coast of France. I confess that I did not write my piece that night, but later, closer to the sharing meeting, I penned a poem after a particularly hard day at my teaching work. I can't share it here because it is a bit too dark and personal, but it will soon be among the writings shared at our group's website at http://venetwork.weebly.com. The picture above was taken there, and you may visit it in Second Life via this link.

For comparison after you visit in Second Life, see this video drive-through of the "real world" location.

On another Tuesday of every month, we meet for a VEN Focus Session, formerly a "Speaker Session" but more and more participative in the way of a field trip, often to other virtual worlds besides Second Life. Do you want to take a moment to view an archival video of this experience? It might just spur you to get your own avatar at http://secondlife.com and come and join us! Do!

Visit the VEN livestream archives to view one of 11 recorded live events.

Living Proof, 1983

Hey all, Yes we're sneaking up on the school year and teachers report in my district just two weeks from today. Hard to believe, but w...