Monday, November 30, 2009

DiigoNotes - Learning Theory for 21st Century Students

This article was originally published in Innovate ( as: Sontag, M. 2009. A learning theory for 21st-century students. Innovate 5 (4). (accessed March 31, 2009). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

The following are my notes from the article cited above:

  1. According to a 2008 Pew report, 97% of American teens aged 12-17 play computer, console, or cell phone games, and three-fourths of these teens play them with others at least some of the time (Lenhart et al. 2008).
  2. 93% use the Internet, 61% go online daily, and 51% create content that others can view online (Lenhart et al. 2007).
  3. Eleven million students under the age of 18 use MySpace (Owyang 2008).
  4. The site myYearbook, a social networking site created specifically for 12- to 17-year-olds, boasts 7 million members (Loten 2008). In short, many, perhaps even most, of the current generation of learners are enmeshed in connective technologies.
  5. the environment and culture in which people grow up affect their thought processes and that cognitive processes are far more malleable than previously assumed. Evidence provided by magnetoencephalographic (MEG) imaging suggests that structural rewiring of the brain "can and does occur via experience" (O'Boyle and Gill 1998, 406). Interactive and interpersonal applications of digital technology shape the social and cognitive development of those who use them (Shumar and Renninger 2002). Oblinger (2004) claims that "constant exposure to the Internet and other digital media has shaped how [students] receive information and how they learn" ("Abstract," ¶1). Some of these changes include “the development of a new type of multimedia or information literacy" which "parallels other shifts in how we approach learning such as of moving from an environment of being told or authority-based learning to one based on discovery or experiential learning” (“4. How People Learn,” ¶7).
  6. Students “tend toward teamwork, experiential activities . . . and the use of technology. Their strengths include multitasking, goal orientation, . . . and a collaborative style” (“2. Changes in Students,” ¶1).
  7. New societal patterns produce new educational paradigms that too frequently completely discard the old.
  8. Students engage their social-connectedness schema in a set of behaviors that I describe as “link, lurk, and lunge”: Students link up with others who have the knowledge they need; they lurk, watching others who know how do to what they want to do; and they lunge, jumping in to try new things often without seeking guidance beforehand (Brown 2000).
  9. Students' social-connectedness schema underlies their ability to create and sustain physical, virtual, and hybrid social networks (Oblinger and Oblinger 2005).
  10. Today’s students “do not just think about different things, they actually think differently” (Prensky 2001, 42).
  11. And, as Reigeluth (1999) argues, “when a human-activity system (or societal system) changes in significant ways, its subsystems must change in equally significant ways” (16).
  12. Education theory must change to accommodate new developments in the way students learn and access information.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Evangelising Remote Areas

The following is a departure from the usual blog entries found've been warned. My adopted sister, and full cousin, Talsidia Vega and her family are missionaries in the Republic of Panama. Occasionally, she shares updates on her work as part of the "prayerline" and I was fascinated by some of her recent updates. When you consider that her work takes her into the mountains of Panama, it's pretty amazing story, whether you might be inclined to support her work or not.

She shared some of her efforts to evangelize and I thought I might include them here with photos. It's fascinating stuff (at least, I think so) to read. Consider the story of the people here in the context of 21st Century Learning...the Digital Divide is almost insurmountable.
Note: I haven't edited this TOO much. Remember, it was written by native Spanish speakers writing in English, a language they are more accustomed to speaking than writing.
For God's glory, we continue moving forward to reach all the small villages of Panama with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Pueblo mesa and monte lirio (no rainbow. Sorry) are two of those villages located in the province of bocas del toro inside the ngobe indian reservation. Four years ago, the only way to reach these villages were by boat going up rivers or by walking through the jungle. Only few people could reach them using a helicopter.

Three years ago, during one of our mission trips to bocas del toro, we came to know that a new route through the jungle was under construction. The people of the area informed us that a Roman Catholic priest with the approval of the government and the help of some organizations was able to find the resourses for this project connecting not only pueblo mesa, but another
fourteen villages.

The more we were informed about the people living in those villages, the more we felt excited to take the challenge to penetrate and reach them with the Word of God.

Therefore, we made a plan to visit some of the first villages in the route and see the condition of the people by ourselves. We were very surprise to see so many families with so many childrem. Also, many villages already had brand new schools facilities built by the goverment.

In the other hand, we were very sorry to see that the majority of the adult generation did not know how to read or write their own language or spanish. They only speak ngobere the language of the ngobe people.

As we introduce ourselves as missionaries of the bible, we discovered they do not have an idea of the story of the creation, the fall of man and God's plan of salvation for the whole world. The majority did not know the meaning of "the bible".

We took some bible with us and as we showed and explained them about the
bible, they became very interested to know more about it.

By the time we had to say "good bye" many were saying, "missionary, do not> forget to bring me "the black book". They could not say the bible.

As we depart from the area, our question was Lord how do you want us to serve them???

They are so many, Lord. As we wait for an answer. Our mind was focused on we need workers, where are they, Lord???? We insisted and the church, where is your church??? Finally, an answer came from the Lord of the harvest "do not wait for more workers, leave that to me, you go and take the bible to them. The workers will come after...."

After praying and sharing about this experience with friends a plan is under process.

One thousand bibles project:
to raise five thousands u.S. Dollars for purchasing and distributing one
thousand bibles between fifteen villages located along this route

For the adult generation who does not know how to read and write our program includes showing two films; one is about genesis and the other one is about Jesus. Both in ngobere language. A missionary family is Costa Rica is translating the film "The Hope" to ngobere. This is another good film from Genesis to Revelation that will be shown. Praise God.

This week, we made a trip to barranquilla, a village after pueblo mesa. We distributed sixty bibles and two hundreds books of life. Also, we were able to show Jesus film in ngobere.
We still need to go back to Barranquilla next month for follow up and to show Genesis film.

Arsenio, a young kuna missionary (kuna is the the name of another indian group of panama) who serve the Lord with us went on this trip and spent four days with them teaching them how to use the bible. He also did childrem ministry.

God provided rolando abrego an indian of the village who helped us as translator. Rolando came to be the policeman of the village. What better translator we could have. Rolando told us that this was the first time the people of barranquilla had the opportunity to receive the message of God in their own place.

Samuel abrego the chief of the village and his daugther, Anayansi, were very happy with our visit. God made a miracle for us.

Also, we had the opportunity to have a meeting with the principal of the school, teacher maribel navarro with nine other teachers under her leadership. After explaining to them how to take advantage of our program to help the students, they were motivated and committed to follow up the work with their classes.

Please, join us in prayers for this program and if the Lord leads you to plant a seed with us, you are very welcome.

Please, see our gallery of photos.

God bless you.

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Lack of Merit, Merits Attention

Experience shows that organizations have the most difficulty at learning when the problems are difficult and embarrassing or threatening precisely when they need learning most.

An organizational defense is a policy, practice, or action that prevents the participants (at any level of the organization) from experiencing embarrassment, or threat, and, at the same time prevents them from discovering the causes of the embarrassment or threat.
Source: Chris Argryis (sp?)

This quote comes from a book I loaned out years ago, and all I have of the book is the quote. I don't even remember the book title but this truth has become something of a touchstone for me in my readings on public school districts. Yet, it is not just about public schools, but ALL organizations.

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered the city’s public schools to start using student achievement data in the evaluations of teachers who are up for tenure this school year.

“It is an aggressive policy, but our obligation is to take care of our kids,” Bloomberg said last week in a speech in Washington.

“Nobody wants to promote and give lifetime employment to teachers who can’t teach,” Bloomberg told reporters after the speech. “Those days are gone.”
Source: Evaluating Teaching In Order To Fire Them? Larry Ferlazzo

What organizational defenses are in place to protect poor work in schools? Those merit our attention more than considering how to hold accountable the lack of merit among the oppressed in our classrooms.

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Colliding with Error - Removing Blog Comments You Dislike

When someone leaves a comment on your blog you don't like, "Should the blog author be allowed to remove it?"

The choices are simple:
  • Yes, of course the blog author can remove comments s/he doesn't like.
  • Yes, but only if they violate clearly posted guidelines (such as obscenity)
  • No since blogging and commenting are conversations and people can't make clear determinations about that conversations without full access.
Some might argue that if the anonymous commenter wanted to make a negative comment, s/he might have posted it on their own blog. That way, it wouldn't matter whether the blogger found their comment objectionable or not...she couldn't do anything about it.

Why should bloggers allow comments they disagree with?
  1. It allows them access to "erroneous" ideas they may try to correct.
  2. It presents them with the opportunity to explore their thinking on an issue that they otherwise might have missed entirely.
  3. It gives others who might not have said anything to speak up to refute an idea by the blogger or the commenter.
  4. It helps us all learn to appreciate that dissent isn't bad.
Finally, I suppose the best reason is one that is captured in this 1859 quote from John Stuart Mill's Essay on Liberty:

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of opinion is that it is robbing the human race...if the opinion is in the right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.
--John Stuart Mills, "Essay on Liberty" (1859)
Should a person blog who has no interest in experiencing a "collision with error" as described above?

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Penance for Keynote Influencers


David Jakes, an excellent speaker who I envy his ability to cut through to the heart of a discussion, shares the following:

And have you considered that individuals in the “echo chamber” might just be the people a larger audience needs to hear? That they might be the leaders, might be the people with the next great idea or ideas, the next leader, the next person to light the way…The process that ISTE has undertaken may not work. Then again, it just might.

While you'll have to read his entire blog entry for the context, I love and hate the idea of the echo chamber. The echo chamber has been around for a long time, and I've been a part of it for quite some time...I'm not sure I'm there because I sought it or because I was dragged into it or what. It is the online community that I've become familiar with ever since I started blogging a few years ago--gee, I should add the year to my resume so I can remember when--and it's amazing that the Chamber endures. To review....
Echo chambers...are places where like-minded people talk to one another, nobody ever changes anyone else's mind and true diversity of opinion is exchanged for an infinite plenitude of ideologically identical communities.
Source: The SALON
The echo chamber reminds me of C.S. Lewis' "The Inner Ring" (read it online in this discussion forum). One of the key ideas one's craving to fit in, to join an inner circle of people that is exclusionary of others, making it all the more desirable to join.
One of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left out side...Exclusion is no accident; it is the essence...As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.

The echo chamber is full of wannabees, full of each of us who wish they could impact the conversation. I have to struggle to NOT want to impact the conversation but rather, to find my own voice...simply, I want to be an outsider who isn't caught up in the jockeying for position. Yet, I'm a human being.

When I consider the ISTE keynote, I'm delighted that ISTE had the imagination to embrace the conversation, to focus us all on the discussion. I find Scott's reference to who's in the lead slightly distasteful (and funny enough to tickle my sense of humor), even as I send out an occasional tweet about how great it would be to hear Chris Lehmann present...would it be inappropriate to mention that I have an email from Scott asking for me to support Chris' bid? And, given that I'm interested in no less than influencing the conversation...I have (once).

I'm as guilty as any other in desiring to be part of the "inner ring," to influence the conversation in the echo chamber, to hear my voice come back to me.

Accept this as my act of contrition. . .
I confess to my twitter followers, and to you my fellow bloggers, that I have sinned through my own tweeting and blogging, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, and I ask all of you to link back to this blog entry so I may expiate my sins through blogged transparency.
Well, it didn't quite work (or did it?).

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Linktribution - Top 200 Education Blogs

With no intent to be disrespectful of the self-proclaimed "List of the Top 200 Education Blogs," I share the following email as a press release...over time, I've managed to make a few of these lists--although I've missed the Edublogs Awards list year after year and entertain no hope (or interest) in making the list, except as an opportunity to reach new readers--I've decided my attitude needs changing.

Ok, I'll be blunt. I think these lists are a waste of time...except to folks who need a list as a starting point. Yet, placement on the list must mean something. At least, someone was kind enough to include the blog in what they perceive as the top 200. But what about the rich variety of new bloggers with less than 2000+ subscribers, whose voices are undiscovered? Or, who can keep up with the 10 blog posts per day by resource/tools enthusiasts that make one wonder, how the heck can anyone learn to use 100 tools they share in 10 days?

As a veteran blogger, I hope I'm not slipping into the cynical point of view that afflicts middle-aged folks (I turned 41 last month, and noted my marked lack of enthusiasm for blogging these past few months with a bit of unconcern, a reason for worry, were one given to worry). As a blogger, I also appreciate the ebb and flow of the "blogging tide," which is natural to me as a writer and worker. Sometimes, I'm enthusiastic as all get-out, and some days, I find myself wondering why the heck did I accept an assignment or begin writing. I find myself flitting back and forth between the two extremes as I reach for keyboard and/or pen, or agree to a speaking engagement.

It's fascinating to watch, and as a result, I decided to write about that feeling. Why do I feel that way about projects? I notice that it appears right before a project begins, whether it's a writing or speaking engagement. I have to "work my way through it" and get engaged by the content or work. Blogging helps me to accomplish that (for example, I'm working on a project now and this blog entry, like the previous one are helping me get to the point).

Ok, that said, here's the email announcing Top 200 Education Blogs. My apologies to the rest of the blogs that didn't make the list. While you may aspire to be put on a list, I encourage you to be grateful that you are not on a list. You have the freedom to explore a variety of topics and ideas, without fear of having to live up to what 2 sentence summary that appears after your blog on a list.

Hi Miguel,

I’m writing to inform you that Around the Corner has been featured on Guide to Online Schools’ Top 200 Education Blogs list found here: We’ve gone through and created a list of our favorite education blogs and your incredibly useful tech insights and commentary made your blog an easy choice for our list.

I’d love to get your feedback on our Top Education Blogs list and it would be fantastic if we could work out some cross-promotion. I’ve attached a badge that you’re welcome to use anywhere on your site to let your readers know you’ve been recognized on our list.

Cross-promotion. It's all about linktribution, isn't it?

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Illusions No More

Image Source:

The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Source: Government Code Chapter 552 - Public Information
  1. Ever been called into your supervisor's office for something you wrote?
  2. Ever wondered if you were going to get fired for something you wrote and published in a print magazine?
  3. Ever blogged something that is so true, people just took it to be about their situation even though it had nothing to do with them?

I have been. I wrote something that was interpreted as critical of my supervisor's leadership (or lack thereof). The funny thing, though, was that I'd written the article in question 1 month before it was published and appeared...1 month and 2 weeks before I was even hired for the position I was in. Yet, my boss thought I'd written the article about her in the current job. Obviously, it was delicious feeling to point out the time difference...I couldn't very well write about future events I knew nothing about. It is also a testament to how similar two school districts in Texas are.

In response to question #3, I found myself in this situation as I wrote about a district I'd worked in years ago. The boss who called me on the carpet thought the situation I wrote about was current at the time--again, a new position unrelated to the previous situation. While I was able to easily share the real story--providing names--the stigma of truth-telling hitting home never quite left. After all, in these two cases, truth transcends situations and represents more than one.

What about you? If you answered YES to any one of these questions, then you're in the wonderfully elite group of writers/bloggers who have to endure misunderstandings from those who would like to control what others say and do.

Fortunately, I live and write in America, land of the free, home of the brave. People have fought for my right to write and speak my mind, to own the consequences of that writing, and I am profoundly grateful.

These thoughts came to mind as I read Mr. Vilson's Guide to Jerking a Teacher-Blogger. He invoked my blog, even though he didn't know it, with this paragraph:

Right then, I realized that, around the corner, where ed-techies and Twitterholics never venture, infrequent visitors of the web and unintentional saboteurs congregate to discuss ways of discouraging people from using the Internet.

Although I wish I could say something profound in response to what Jose Vilson writes, I'm not so profound anymore. The truth is, I'm just "ho-hum" about it. You know, these things happen. We're dealing with human beings who are going to misinterpret everything because they look at it from THEIR point of view...and that's OK. In the end, I want every person to have the opportunity to make mistakes in public, to be transparent about what they are thinking, to share their "issues" with your writing and work.

It's better that they do that than whisper in the corners, hoarding their ill will like some treasure troves, doling it out in small measure like 30 pieces of silver. I'm tempted to reach for some profound bit of wisdom in one of the sacred texts I've chosen to surround myself with, but instead, I'll agree and disagree with these words from Clay Shirky:

Secrets have always driven me nuts. Social media has made it possible for everyone to questions the motivations behind why someone does something...and, it has heightened the need for increased transparency. Just because a school district or organization web site says, "This is the me" does not mean that inquiry and questionning end there.

New technologies empower each of us to be leaders, to do what is right and more easily help others understand what we are doing and why through the links we make. Consider Michael Fullan's list of 6 Secrets to Change:

  1. Love Your Employees (view videos for each)
  2. Connect Peers with Purpose
  3. Capacity Building Prevails
  4. Learning Is the Work
  5. Transparency Rules
  6. Systems Learn

When people fear for their jobs or their reputation, it is unlikely that they will take risks. Fear causes a focus on the short-term to neglect of the mid or longer term. Fear creates a focus on the individual rather than the group. Teamwork suffers.
So, go ahead, supervisors of the world (myself included since I supervise)...make people fear for their job or reputation. Will that get the organization what it needs?

Conversations whispered in hallways, behind closed doors do nothing except engender distrust, giving the illusion of leadership to those who are frightened for their jobs. But, illusions just won't work when everyone is connected to each fact, if I don't know what you're doing, there is sure to be someone near you who is willing to share...and will with audio, photos, and/or video.

Isn't it time we put illusions of leadership aside, stopped chastising the people who write about those truths we so easily set aside, and embraced transparency?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Accessing NTFS 1 Terabyte Formatted Drive on Mac

A new 1 terabyte drive came in, and I despaired of having to format part of it as Mac, the other for Windows and another for Linux (obviously, I'm stuck between operating systems). A simple solution is to pick one file system--FAT, NTFS, Linux, Mac--and just use that. FAT would have been the natural choice, but there are limits to the FAT file system that limit total size. As a result, I began to seriously consider using NTFS. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge at the time, Mac could not read and write to an NTFS formatted drive...I was wrong.

One of the real pains in working with USB flash drives--including external hard drives--is having to work within the constraints of FAT formatted drives. FAT32 formatted drives are the most compatible with a variety of operating systems, including Macintosh, Windows, and GNU/Linux. This makes them ideal because it means you can access the information no matter what OS you happen to be using.

NTFS support, however, allows you to have individual files that are larger than what might normally be stored on a FAT partition. Until this evening, I had no idea you could read NTFS on Macintosh systems!

That changed when I downloaded and installed NTFS-3G (free open source) and MacFuse (which I had anyways since I use VMWare Fusion on my Macs). I can now READ and WRITE to an NTFS formatted drive using my Mac SnowLeopard formatted computer...and, I can do the same from UbuntuLinux.

Lots of benefits to formatting an external drive with NTFS, mainly, I don't have to worry about the file size limit (around 4gigs) for FAT files.

If you have a FAT formatted external drive, you can convert it to NTFS using this command:

To convert a volume to NTFS from the command prompt

  1. Open Command Prompt. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then clickCommand Prompt.

  2. In the command prompt window, type: convert drive_letter: /fs:ntfs

It works pretty quickly to accomplish the conversion. Once done, I installed NTFS-3G on my Mac, mounted the external USB drive and I now have read/write access! Woohoo!

So, when I reformat that 1 terabyte drive, I'll be doing NTFS to ensure maximum compatibility.

Update: Although this works to some degree, I'm not sure I'd use it for day to day operations. NTFS-3G is still installed on my Macs but only for occasional NTFS drive access rather than every day.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

AntiVirus for Free Education Use


Some time ago, I highlighted a point made by one TCEA member that noticed the TCEA Conference computers all had AVG AntiVirus loaded on them. Fortunately, there was no license violation since AVG wasn't loaded on the computers beyond the trial period.

But this discussion did highlight the need for schools to have access to an anti-virus solution that, while free for their use, IS NOT just available for personal use. This means, students and teachers can use it on their personal computers but NOT on work computers.

When you consider how many virtualized instances of Windows there are, how many older machines running Windows that are vulnerable, and how much school districts pay for anti-virus solutions like Symantec AntiVirus, the question becomes, is there a solution that is available for free?

Panda Cloud AntiVirus may fill the niche. In their discussion forums, the following statement is made:

Panda Cloud Antivirus is not only free for home users. It's also free for education. In order to install it into multiple PCs, simply create an account and install into all PCs using the same account.
Source: Pedro Bustamante, Panda Senior Research Advisor

Imagine if schools have access to an award winning antivirus...for free. PC Magazine gave Cloud Antivirus it's stamp of approval (check out the comparison chart):

Cloud Antivirus eliminates known malware immediately on detection. Files that aren't known malware but seem to be malicious get sent to the cloud for analysis. Until the results come back, they're not allowed to launch. . .Panda Cloud Antivirus is impressively effective at keeping malware from infesting a clean system. It's less effective at fixing an infested system—it finds almost all the threats but doesn't always clean them up thoroughly. Still, it's a very good, very lightweight tool even when measured against the for-pay security antivirus available. And it's the best free antivirus software available. If you're going to use it, I'd just recommend making extra certain that you're not already infected before you install it. Wipe your machine: start with a clean install of your OS, and Panda should do an excellent job of keeping viruses out. And Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition 1.0 is our Editors' Choice for free antivirus.

Worth checking out? This will work well on Windows computers connected to the Web and probably mean dumping Malware Bytes since that tool is less effective according to my reading of the PCMag article.

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WatchKnow YouTube Search - Blocked!

Could the District unblock We can't view the videos on the site!
Should WatchKnow be blocked in your school district? Well, only if you block YouTube and GoogleVideo. More about that later in a sample letter (featuring some tweets from the edublogosphere)...for now, here's the press release:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Nov. 12, 2009) - Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, has launched a new website designed to gather and organize educational videos for students ages 3 to 18.

The site, <> , launched in October and currently features more than 11,000 videos across 2,000 categories on subjects such as math, science and history. The nonprofit site features new software, specially developed for the site by Dr. Sanger, which allows wiki-style collaboration among users.
"Think of it as YouTube meets Wikipedia, filtering out everything but quality educational videos," says Dr. Sanger. " links together content from traditional sites, and also allows users of the site to improve the organization of the video categories, which makes finding the video you need much easier."
The site, which features videos from National Geographic, YouTube and Google Videos among others, took more than 18 months to develop and has been endorsed by educators from schools including Harvard, Stanford, Brigham Young and more. is designed to complement and enhance the traditional learning experience for students as they study concepts that are traditionally hard to learn.
"Many of our country's educators are unaware of the enormous amount of good video content available for free online," said Chareen Snelson, an advisory committee member and professor at Boise State specializing in online educational videos. "Having a central repository of organized, quality videos is a blessing for busy teachers and students." is funded by the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi (CFNM), which has set the goal of offering more than 50,000 videos on the site by the end of 2010. The site offers tips for video searching, separate pages for students, parents and teachers, and a guide for contributors.
"Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in the development of our children, and can be a big piece of that puzzle," says Tom Pittman, president of the CFNM. "We believe that with the help of educators, we can create something very important and useful to the future of education."

As wonderful as WatchKnow appears to be, know that WatchKnow's content comes straight from other video providers. What would be your response if someone in your district asked you to unblock so they could access the videos?

Here is one possible response from the perspective of a district that currently blocks YouTube:

WatchKnow's "content" is hosted by other providers, such as YouTube and GoogleVideo (to name two video providers that are blocked in our District). While YouTube use in K-12 can be appropriate--as many school districts in Texas have proven--the District's current policy is to restrict access. Since YouTube videos are a part of the content displayed on WatchKnow, the District would have to unblock YouTube video access.


Furthermore, consider the content of some videos (You're Not Alone - might be inappropriate from a Health/PE perspective when filtered by the parent. As a parent, *I* want my daughter to know where to turn...but is this a video I want her accessing at school without supervision? Regardless of your response, it is a question that parents need to answer in the context of a dialogue with their teen and school system.

While you and I may agree that access to videos on children learning about sexual assault may be appropriate, my experiences with the digital video distribution system--where a whole series of videos dealing that mentioned "sex" were blocked because parent committees had not approved viewing--signal caution.

Until the District is willing to convene parent committees and engage in deeper dialogue about the video content available through YouTube, C&I agree to use YouTube video, and teachers/instructional specialists/Principals receive the proper training to implement CIPA-compliant usage, I seriously doubt WatchKnow as a search window into YouTube and GoogleVideo will be allowed in our District.


You can always search TeacherTube and SchoolTube videos directly on their web site without an intermediary...they are not blocked. Google Video and YouTube video, because of their content, will probably remain blocked.


Using, you can obtain downloadable copies of YouTube videos for viewing. Be aware that downloading videos for use in the classroom--rather than watching them via the YouTube web site--is a breach of copyright, as well as a violation of the YouTube user license agreement. In a recent survey of educators, some of the following perspectives were shared:
  • "It seems odd to teach kids not to plagiarize and grab stuff off the web when the teacher does it," Derek Baird

  • "As far as copyright goes, I always ask the creator for a copy (and always get one!) when I see something I want to use locally," Kathy Schrock

Please take these perspectives into account when considering use of YouTube videos you have downloaded for offline use in the classroom.


A more enlightened perspective is for the District to change its policy on YouTube videos. As long as we have an "ON/OFF" content filter, it is my understanding that blocking will continue. However, I'm sure the District's Chief Technology Officer can speak to steps being taken to allow for tiered filtering that block student access to certain content but allow it for teachers.

Would this be YOUR District's response to the question of YouTube in K-12 classrooms? How would you approach this issue?

And, finally, thanks to all who tweeted their opinion about YouTube downloading, including the following folks:

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

AudioTools - Encoding to OGG Format

One of the comments on a previous entry--Converting Videos on Various Operating Systems--asked the following question:
Anyone knows a good program to easily encode/transcode to Ogg Theora?
Here's a brief overview of the Ogg format:

Ogg Vorbis is an open source, high quality audio compression technology that free for anyone to use and build encoders/players for. This is different from MP3 which is controlled by patent companies like Fraunhofer IIS that charge a fee for every copy of an MP3 encoder. Ogg provides better compression without loss of quality due to the improved encoding process.

There are a variety of programs for getting the job done...I keep encode from my audio CDs to OGG format. To get the job done, here is a list of my current favorites, but if you have another, please don't hesitate to share!



  • Max Max can generate audio in over 20 compressed and uncompressed formats including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Apple Lossless, Monkey's Audio, WavPack, Speex, AIFF, and WAVE. (note that you may need a program like GUI-TAR to uncompress it)
  • OGG Drop X


If I've left out your favorite OGG encoder, please share it!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top 7 Software Apps I'm Thankful For

Update 05/28/2014 - TrueCrypt is now defunct


What are the top 7 apps you're most thankful for on Windows? Macintosh?


  1. TrueCrypt - allows me to keep my data secure no matter whether it's on the hard drive or USB flash drive.
  2. Tweetdeck - easily manage tweets, etc. using this.
  3. MPEG Streamclip - easily convert video on a Mac, something that was missing when Visual Hub disappeared.
  4. The UnArchiver - allows me to easily handle zillions of compressed files, no matter what the format.
  5. TextWrangler - great, easy to use text word processor.
  6. Skitch - just incredibly awesome tool to annotate images, etc. I use it every day for everything.
  7. Jing Pro - Best $15 I've spent on an application for video screen captures. Wow, like Skitch, I use it every day.
  1. PSPad - great text/php file editor. One of my first installs on any Windows computer I touch.
  2. Filezilla FTP - FTP program that I use on both Windows and Mac, but it's essential for my work on Windows computers.
  3. CCleaner - great for cleaning out the registry, uninstalling programs, just a great all-around tool.
  4. FormatFactory - audio/video conversion tool that's easy to use and works most of the time.
  5. VLC MediaPlayer - wonderful audio/video player that just works. I love that it plays Quicktime without me having to install Quicktime Player on my computer.
  6. SpywareBlaster - innoculate your computer against spyware...what else need be said?
  7. 7zip - easy to use compression program that makes extracting/compressing files a breeze via right-mouse click.
So, what software are you thankful for?


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Gorge No More


PjHiggins (Chalkdust 101) asserts the following:
There shouldn’t be any educational technology conferences anymore.
And, regrettably, I find myself agreeing with him. We've moved from sharing new technologies that are available to how to convince the mainstream educators that they should use them. It is a disappointing venture to convince Benjamin Disraeli once said, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

How many people have you convinced that technology is the way only to find out their opinion really hasn't changed? In fact, isn't a traditional conference to match faces to Twitter handles?
A community of followers or readers is a powerful learning tool. It’s the reason why some of us in the blogosphere continue to blog. We have a community of people that we feel obligated to blog for. Whether true or not, there is a sense of obligation to people who have bookmarked your site or have your RSS feed. Audience as Community allows you to engage that audience into becoming what Dean calls an “Audience of Co-Learners“, or an “Audience of Teachers“. I believe before you can have either of those audiences you need to have an audience as community. Only after you have turned your audience into a community can you make something of them, empower them to help you, to teach you, to learn with you.
Source: Audience as Community

Jeff Utecht shares the above point, summarizing some of the ongoing conversations regarding community of co-learners. Essentially, isn't this what a variety of social media tools--Twitter and Facebook--allow us to do, to more closely engage with each other in ways that go beyond the reflective writings shared in a blog? But what if some don't want to engage more closely? What if the blog is THE publishing engine for their internal thoughts, the reflective dialogue of a mind trying to learn, to find empowerment?

As a blogger, I find that I'm thrilled to be sharing with 2000+ people on a daily basis. But is such a thrill unseemly? Couldn't this be the same reaction we have to someone who craves the spotlight?

I'm not sure if I want to make something my audience...I'm grateful that people are reading, that they deign to comment and share what they've learned back with me (when they do). But I often feel that things are moving so quickly that neither the blogger or the commenter can keep up. We are caught up in swiftly moving streams of thought that take us in a variety of directions.

Ed Tech Conferences, as unnecessary as they are, remind me to slow down and interact with others one at a time...I recently found myself writing in a paper notebook, eschewing the technology...somehow, slowing down by writing in a notebook helped me process the information.

As Dean Shareski pointed out today in a tweet to Will Richardson...
Stop gorging yourself on information.....slow learning is good too. ;)
Has our edublogging culture suddenly made gorging desirable? Just because we can connect in infinite ways to each other, should we?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Living in the Midst of Apathy

If a previous blog entry--Living in Constant Fear--caught your attention, you know that it sought to explore why technology-based initiatives didn't seem to generate that "sense of urgency" needed. It may be OK to talk about how the world will end--for the United States at least--if our children don't graduate prepared to connect, collaborate, create online and at a distance using Read/Write Web tools and social media, but the fact is, the education establishment could care less.

At least, that's what I get from reading Doug Johnson's response blog entry, Important but not Urgent:
But don't count on "urgency" as a mover in educational change. I suspect were a kid's hair on fire, for most educators it would take at least a couple studies, a few Education Week op-eds, and maybe a Ning discussion or two before they are firmly convinced that while something needs to be done, there is no consensus on just what it ought to be...
Is it possible that we--as edtech advocates--are finding it tough to admit defeat? Consider this finding:
Fine (1991) asserts that educators generate belief systems because they need to explain their efforts in ways that give them a sense of accomplishment. These belief systems may help educators feel more successful, but may also prevent them from imagining what could be. Read Source

Are we generating stories of failure or irrelevant success because we need to explain our efforts in heroic terms? If we accepted the following beliefs, would things be different?

  • School systems are guided by multiple and sometimes competing sets of goals.
  • Power in school systems is distributed throughout the organization.
  • Decision making in school systems is a bargaining process in order to arrive at solutions that satisfy a number of constituencies.
  • The public is influential in major and sometimes unpredictable ways.
  • A variety of situationally appropriate ways to teach is allowed and desired so that teachers may be optimally effective. (p. 7-8)
Perhaps instead of constancy of fear to do the right thing, we should be looking at a different descriptor for the situation? How open are we to "situationally appropriate ways to teach" and their inclusion of technology? The word "apathy" comes to is defined as "Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference."

This web site outlines some ways to help apathetic learners...maybe we can apply some of this to school district educators who lack a sense of urgency to change themselves so that students and their Nation can prosper? Probably not, but let's do it anyways for fun....
  1. Take an interest in the student. This really boils down to the now old adage that bloggers know well about education change--build a relationship (BAR). That's right, if you want to get anywhere with human beings, you have to build a relationship with them even if you don't want to...reminds me of sales approach. This reinforces my perception--correct me if I'm wrong--that administrators are more about public relations and management than anything else...and since social media has changed the public relations field, it's certainly critical that we transform how we BAR with others. Yet, there is no escape that whatever form that relationship takes, it must be built.
  2. Find out what is causing apathetic behavior. It's clear that we know what is causing apathetic behavior in school districts...too many rules (anomie), too much one-way communication from people too far from where the real work happens, to much disconnect between what is expected, the methods on how to achieve the expectations and the creativity to explore the gap. An administrator must stand up and ensure that educators have the authority to create in the face of rules, to defy them even if it means censure, jamming a spoke in the wheel if necessary.
  3. Don't be judgmental towards the apathetic student. This is certainly a perspective I've had trouble implementing, but reading the blogosphere, I'm not alone. It's so easy to look at those responsible for assuring AYP is achieved and criticizing and advocating for what they SHOULD be doing. In truth, aren't they doing what they are told? Who has spare change in their pocket to find another job if they fail to do what they are told? So, one has to convey a sense of understanding and appreciation for the struggle and work to extend the sense of conscious awareness that we can't get there from here if we keep doing what we're doing. Even then, upper admin may be so disconnected or driven by other priorities that the best rank-n-file can do is make the journey a little less difficult.
  4. Realize that it's up to the apathetic learner to change their attitude. In the end, a changed attitude is the best that can be accomplished. A changed attitude can lead to more substantive changes...but if you lack one, you won't be able to grasp the opportunities in front of you because you hadn't been open to them.
If you're living in the midst of apathy, the only way to transform your organization is to change your own attitude, accept new beliefs, and encourage others to do so. Only then can more lasting change be achieved. In truth, it does seem it's easier to switch organizations than try to transform one.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Converting Videos on Various Operating Systems

WinFF - Free Video Converter
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!
Last week, someone asked, "What I'm really looking for is Format Factory for Mac but I don't think it exists. Can someone recommend a good free media converter for Mac?"

Since Visual Hub is no longer available, I offered up MPEG StreamClip:

MPEG Streamclip is a powerful free video converter, player, editor for Mac and Windows. It can play many movie files, not only MPEGs; it can convert MPEG files between muxed/demuxed formats for authoring; it can encode movies to many formats, including iPod; it can cut, trim and join movies. MPEG Streamclip can also download videos from YouTube and Google by entering the page URL
You can use MPEG Streamclip to open and play most movie formats including MPEG files or transport streams; edit them with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Trim; set In/Out points and convert them into muxed or demuxed files, or export them to QuickTime, AVI, DV and MPEG-4 files with more than professional quality, so you can easily import them in a DVD authoring tool, and use them with many other applications or devices.

Supported input formats: MPEG, VOB, PS, M2P, MOD, VRO, DAT, MOV, DV, AVI, MP4, TS, M2T, MMV, REC, VID, AVR, M2V, M1V, MPV, AIFF, M1A, MP2, MPA, AC3, ...
Of course, I was thinking that another solution exists on UbuntuLinux-read this post on converting videos on Ubuntulinux using this solution--known as FFMPEG. This free, open source converter works well but is command line only.
That means that Windows users may have a bit of trouble. At least, they did until this new solution came out: WinFF.

WinFF is a GUI for the command line video converter, FFMPEG. It will convert most any video file that FFmpeg will convert. WinFF does multiple files in multiple formats at one time. You can for example convert mpeg's, flv's, and mov's, all into avi's all at once. WinFF is available for Windows 95, 98 , ME, NT, XP, VISTA, and Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat based GNU/Linux distributions....

Nice to be aware of the various solutions available for converting video, especially since they are changing constantly! So, a quick review of video conversion tools:
  1. Mac: MPEG Streamclip, ffmpegX ($15 shareware)
  2. Windows: MPEG StreamClip, Format Factory or WinFF
  3. UbuntuLinux/Debian: WinFF with specific instructions for installation here
Update 11/25/2009: Thanks to Wes Fryer's contribution of ffmpegX GUI interface for Mac. Unfortunately, it is shareware...and it didn't work for me. So, give it a shot if MPEG Streamclip doesn't work for you.

Update 1/26/2010: I am now the proud owner of FFmpegX for great registered.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Monday, November 23, 2009

Living in Constant Fear

Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk Blog) shows his leadership in switching his district to GoogleApps for students and staff...actually, just working to bring about the change is prime leadership material.
We are currently undertaking two major projects in our district that will impact lots of staff members. We are installing 157 mounted LCD projectors and 120 interactive white boards between now and winter break throughout the district. And we are switching our e-mail service from Microsoft Exchange to GoogleMail and providing GoogleApps for Education to faculty.

In his post, Doug asks a fundamental question that all leaders face: Any secrets for maintaining one's sanity when "undertaking an order of new things," as Niccolo put it? Maintaining a positive attitude in the face of criticism and change is all-important.  One of the challenges in switching to GoogleApps is the fear of what MIGHT happen.
“The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.”
John Maxwell

Some of those fears include:
  • loss of control over district data
  • FERPA issues with student work
  • lack of security
  • relying on a 3rd party vendor, even if it is Google, to take care of your district's needs
  • trying to hold a 3rd party vendor accountable for a "free" service
  • challenges from others in the district that you're not making the right decision
As I reflect on this more, I realize that *I* am not the one with the wrong attitude, it's those who live in constant fear they will make these mistakes, who are frozen on the doorstep of change, afraid to open the door to opportunity.

Attitude takes a beating whenever you try to bring about change because people just don't want to do're "borrowing unnecessary trouble" is THEIR attitude and they'll go through all sorts of trouble to stop you from taking steps.

Any change agent has to be aware that the changes they bring about will seldom be sweeping in an organization paralyzed by fear...but they should do it anyway. I have hope that small changes that are brought about will transform the District over time...perhaps more so than the "going out in a blaze of glory" changes that I advocated for in my youth.

So, in light of Doug's leadership, what changes does he inspire me to advocate for?
  • Switch to cloud computing provided by GoogleApps for Education
  • Put a netbook in the hands of every teacher along with required online learning
  • Ceiling-mount projectors
  • Drop-kick scope and sequence out the door and rewrite from scratch AFTER every staff member gets training on 21st Century Learning skills, strategies, and expectations. Pedagogy should be focused on "a pedagogy for “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do” (Read more)
  • Require every teacher in high school to be online learning certified for their state (e.g. TxVSN certified) so that we can capitalize on the benefits of being a Trans-Classroom Teacher. This includes central office level type curriculum people who make decisions, often in isolation of the practical realities of school. As teachers adapt their courses for the online environment, they are forced to reexamine the course design, reconsider curriculum strategies, and make many decisions about what to take out and what to keep, what to add and what to substitute. (read more)
 The problem has never been knowing what changes to bring about, but how to accomplish those changes in ways that everyone is connected. I like "Our Iceberg is Melting" approach...but I find that in very few situations, Step 1--creating a sense of urgency among the right people--doesn't happen. It isn't because the right people aren't getting the message, but they have other priorities and don't recognize the urgency of change.

While Doug is writing about the challenges he faces, I'd like to see him write about how he created the sense of urgency to bring about the changes he's referring to. . .it will make for a great campfire story, not unlike one of my favorites:

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

DiigoNotes - Meddler in the Middle

    • Creativity or Conformity? Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education

      A conference organised by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy

      Cardiff January 8-10 2007

    • Unlearning How to Teach

      Erica McWilliam

    • arguing the need for a more interventionist role for academic teachers and a greater emphasis on an experimental culture of learning, rather than a culture in which curriculum and pedagogy is fully ‘locked in’ in advance of engagement. The challenge for academic teachers is to promote and support a culture of teaching and learning that parallels a post-millennial social world in which supply and demand is neither linear nor stable, and in which labour is shaped by complex patterns of anticipations, opportunities, time and space.

    • To develop the sorts of learning dispositions that are appropriate in such contexts, academic educators will need to spend less time explaining through instruction and more time in experimental and error-welcoming modes of engagement. If higher education is to play a key role in capacity building for graduates’  professional workforce futures, then a pedagogy of induction into disciplinary knowledge needs radical reworking into a pedagogy in which teachers and students work as co-creators and co-assemblers (and dissemblers) of trans-disciplinary knowledge applications for digital work futures.     

    • unlearning’ will be as important to social success in the 21st millennium as learning has been in the 20th millennium, then the habit of ‘lifelong learning’ will need radical re-thinking in terms of the nature and purposes of pedagogical work. Put simply, we will need to see a further shift from sage-on-the-stage and guide-on-the-side to meddler-in-the-middle (McWilliam, 2005).

    • The challenge for academic teachers is to promote and support a culture of teaching and learning that parallels a post-millennial social world in which supply and demand is neither linear nor stable, in which labour is shaped by complex patterns of anticipations, opportunities, time and space, and in which new combinations of ‘creative’ skills and abilities are increasingly in demand. It also takes up the challenge posed by Pat Kane (2005), that of getting universities and other learning organisations to become more serious about play. 

    • University graduates, as potential future ‘creatives’ (Cunningham, 2005, 2006; Florida, 2002; Florida & Goodnight, 2005: Pink 2005), will be performing work that is much less focused on routine information-seeking, executing transactions and routine problem-solving and much more focused on forging relationships, tackling novel challenges and synthesising ‘big picture’ scenarios. The challenge of the “Conceptual Age”, as Daniel Pink (2005) describes it, is not just the ability to work in high technology environments, but to utilise “high concept/high touch” abilities to make and re-make our personal and professional environments in ways that serve both functional and aesthetic needs simultaneously.

    • the de-routinisation of present and future creative work has profound implications for what university teachers do and how they do it. Yet there is little evidence that the nature and purposes of teaching and learning have changed in any substantive way in recent times. Mainstream pedagogical practice within the academy very much parallels a work culture focused on accessing information and using it to solve relatively predictable problems or complete routinised transactions of one kind or another. Lectures allow students to ‘access’ the wisdom of ‘the best’; tutorials allow students support as they seek to ‘master’ the knowledge of the ‘master’; assessment tasks focus on how well the young apprentice has been able to perform ‘knowing’ the discipline.

    • “an English speaking thirteen year old in Zaire with internet connection can find out the current temperature in Brussels, or closing price of IBM stock or name of Winston Churchill’s second finance minister as quickly as the head librarian in Cambridge university” (pp.100-101).

    • young people increasingly experience formal learning and work in parallel

    • engage with the challenges of the less predictable, less routinised work made possible in the “Conceptual Age”, higher educational policy has certainly been saturated with calls for more innovation and/or creativity within the sector.

    • The collapse of calls to innovation is evident in the framing of what is sanctioned as evidence of literacy, numeracy, citizenship and employability skills. The evidence is overwhelmingly drawn from standardised test results (see Corson, 2002). In broad terms, the funders of education, both government and non-government, have come to fix almost exclusively on performance data that can be standardised in order to allow for intra-national and international comparisons. In a performative culture that makes it possible, in theory, to quantify the value of higher education on a national and even global scale, winners can be highly visible and valued, however that calculation is arrived at.

    • The capacity to learn and reproduce appropriate social behaviours, he argues, is no longer the key to success. Instead of opening up possibilities, such learning may actually be unhelpful because it assumes a fixed or predictable social world. Bauman elaborates:

        Just as long-term commitments threaten to mortgage the future, habits too tightly embraced burden the present; learning may in the long run disempower as it empowers in the short…. ‘Your skills and know-how are as good as their last application’. (p.22)     

    • To develop the sorts of learning dispositions that are appropriate in such contexts, academic educators will need to spend less time explaining through instruction and more time in experimental and error-welcoming modes of engagement.

    • This is supported by findings from neuro-science about the way in which the brain is ‘changed’ (see Zull, 2004) through hands on, minds on experimentation and how it is not changed by instruction-led pedagogy.

    • a pedagogy of induction into disciplinary knowledge needs radical reworking into a pedagogy in which teachers and students work as co-creators and co-assemblers (and dissemblers) of trans-disciplinary knowledge applications for digital work futures.     

    • Put simply, we will need to see a further shift from sage-on-the-stage and guide-on-the-side to meddler-in-the-middle (McWilliam, 2005).

    • “What holds people back from taking risks”, he asserts, “is often as not …their knowledge, not their ignorance” (p.4). Useful ignorance, then, becomes a space of pedagogical possibility rather than a base that needs to be covered. ‘Not knowing’ needs to be put to work without shame or bluster. This sort of thinking is echoed in Guy Claxon’s (2004) call for a pedagogy for “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do” (p.?) .

    • value creation

    • shifts thinking from consumers to co-creators of value, and from value chain to network.

    • As co-creators, both would add value to the capacity building work being done through the invitation to ‘meddle’ and to make errors. The teacher is in there experimenting and learning from the instructive complications of her errors alongside her students, rather than moving from desk to desk or chat room to chat room, watching over her flock.

    • if we consider the student’s learning network as a type of value network, then, we must also accept that such a network allows quick disconnection from nodes where value is not added, and quick connections with new nodes that promise added value - networks allow individuals to ‘go round’ or elude a point of exchange where supply chains do not. In blunt terms, this means that the teacher who does not add value to a learning network can - and will - be by-passed.

    • The rhizomatic capacity of networks to flow around a point in a chain means that teachers may be located in a linear supply chain of pedagogical services but excluded from their students’ learning networks. That would be an effect of being perceived by students to be doing things that do not add value. And digital technologies can and are being used both to identify value-blocks and options for getting around them. Once again, this is not a just matter of how much take-up of technology is evident in the pedagogical work (Sassen, 2004), but whether or not pedagogical processes bring student and teacher together in their shared ignorance and mutual desire to make something new of their world.  

    • If the rethinking of pedagogy as co-creation of value re-positions teacher and student (or one student with other students) as project partners, as co-directors and co-editors of their social world, who then is the rightful assessor of the value of that cultural assemblage? What does it mean to make judgements to credential individuals on the basis of the quality of the co-creation? What new dilemmas does this set up around ‘objectivity’ and assessment?

    • “[t]he opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression’ (Sutton-Smith, cited in Pink, 2005: 179)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure