Monday, May 31, 2010

BlogRadio - Convert RSS to Audio

BlogRadio is an interesting concept. It simply involves converting RSS feeds to audio files. You have a variety of voices read the RSS feed, which makes it usable for quite a few different uses in education. Although it came with pre-populated list of RSS feeds, you can delete them and add your own, as shown below:
and do...

It takes about 8 hours to process the blog entries. Once the conversion of RSS feed items is complete, you can run the Adobe Air application "Desktop Manager" to listen to the audio.

The audio is understandable and I love how some of the entries sound in it. Give it a try!

via MakeUseOf

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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

BlogNotes - Web 2.0: Pedagogical Evidence and Brain Research

Very much appreciated the research references here in support of online learning...considering this in terms of online courses.
  • tags: no_tag

    • Web 2.0: Pedagogical Evidence and Brain Research
    • May 28th, 2010
    • By Jeffery Ayer,
    • the reinforcing research is thorough enough to justify using wikis,blogs, podcasts, Flickr, Moodle, and online writing technologies that I feel can significantly improve students’ writing, and perhaps more importantly, prepare them for digital citizenship.
    • “Because many new technologies are interactive, it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback, and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge” (Bransford, 2000, p. 208).
    • always allow sufficient time in class and extended deadlines for certain types of online work that allow students enough flexibility to participate successfully, even if they don’t have access to the web after school is out.
    • A number of the sources in my research focus on how technology can help to drive motivation and keep students focused on real-world tasks using new real-world technologies, all the while giving them the opportunity to “perform and learn in far more complex ways than ever before” (Bransford, 2000, p. 215).
    • Web 2.0 collaboration and activity can easily meet the four psychological needs he cites in his article, “’Choice Theory’ and Student Success,” including “the need to belong, the need for power, the need for freedom, and the need for fun” (Glasser, 1997, p.17).
    • Willis makes a clear brain-based assertion that dopamine in students’ brains is not as readily blocked when teaching strategies include “exploration and investigation activities, cooperative learning, allowing students to establish some of their own learning goals, student choice of subtopics to investigate, social collaboration, and physical activity connected to academic study” (Willis, 2007, p. 35).
    • Bransford argues that the use of these technologies in the classroom can actually redefine the roles of students and teachers alike, stating that “[o]ften both teachers and students are novices, and the creation of knowledge is a genuinely cooperative endeavor.  Epistemological authority – teachers possessing knowledge and students receiving knowledge – is redefined, which in turn redefines social authority and personal responsibility” (Bransford, 2000, p. 227).
    • Glasser could not be more thrilled, stating that students have a “personal world” where only a select few are allowed to enter.  If teachers move from bossing to leading, and these technologies can allow for exactly that, then “[w]e follow [teachers] because we believe they have our best interests at heart.  In school, if [a student] senses that particular teachers are now caring, listening, encouraging, and laughing, he will begin to consider putting them into his quality world,” and the environment of that classroom can be truly special (Glasser, 1997, p. 18).
    • when students are in a positive emotional state”
    • students tested under these conditions show better working memory, improved verbal fluency, increased episodic memory for events, enhanced creative problem solving, focus, and higher order executive function and decision-making abilities” (Willis, 2007, p. 35).

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

BlogNotes - Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media In the Classroom

    • Educators interested in using social media to enrich learning will enjoy these ideas for using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype in the classroom from Online Universities. The post includes real examples of educators using social media in their classrooms. Here are some ideas for K-12 classrooms.

    • Make literature real. Have students create a Facebook page for a character from literature you are studying like this class did.

    • Follow famous people. Many famous people are on Twitter.

    • Twitter treasure hunt. Use GPS treasure hunting to send students in search of educational clues as one teacher did. (Skip to number 22 in the slide show.)

    • Learn probability. This elementary teacher uses Twitter to teach the concept of probability.

    • Study geography. Use a combination of Twitter and Google Earth to help teach geography-based lessons. This teacher used his network of Twitter followers to create an interactive lesson for his young students.

    • Connect with other classrooms. Collaborate with another classroom

    • Field trips. Use Skype to bring the field trip into the classroom

    • Conference with parents. Stay connected with parents through social media

    • Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container usually a tupperware container containing a logbook. Many innovative educators are using it as an effective learning tool. To learn more, visit

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

Other related blog entries:

MyNotes - District sued for ‘illegal’ search of student’s cell phone

    • District sued for ‘illegal’ search of student’s cell phone

      Lawsuit returns Pennsylvania district at the center of a recent 'sexting' flap to the spotlight

    • Tunkhannock Area High School Principal Gregory Ellsworth illegally searched the 17-year-old’s phone in January 2009, even though she intended the racy photos to be “seen only herself and, perhaps, her long-time boyfriend,” according to the federal lawsuit.

    • “I was absolutely horrified and humiliated to learn that school officials, men in [the] DA’s office, and police had seen naked pictures of me,” said the plaintiff, now 19 and identified in court documents only by the initials N.N. She graduated in 2009.
      “Those pictures were extremely private and not meant for anyone else’s eyes. What they did is the equivalent of spying on me through my bedroom window,” she said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which is representing her.

    • The court ruled in March that prosecutors could not criminally charge a teenage girl who appeared in a photo similar to the one involved in the latest lawsuit.
      The Tunkhannock lawsuit is the second case in which a student or former student has sued his or her school for what the ACLU calls an illegal search and seizure of a cell phone. Last fall, the group filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of a middle school student in Mississippi, and that case is still pending.

    • Both cases could help decide whether school officials have the right to examine a student’s cell phone or other personal technology device without probable cause.

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

MyNotes - 7 Skills Schools Should be Teaching Them

What would these 7 skills matched to leadership in Texas schools look like? Are our leadership/management styles aligned to these 7 skills? When you watch a video about WolframAlpha--like this one--it's pretty scary. I'd bet most of the questions are students are asking can be answered by this search engine...why aren't we teaching them better? I suggest because we aren't leading our schools to accomplish this.

Seven Skills as I understood them:
  1. Critical thinking and problem-solving: To accomplish this, we need more problem-based learning.
  2. Collaborative leadership: How do you work together to solve problems and innovate at a distance? How do you "win friends and influence people" over the network? There is definitely a need to know how to do this.
  3. Adaptability and learning: Not only do you have to be flexible and adapt (isn't that humanity's claim to fame, being adaptable in harsh environments?), you have to be able to learn quickly. This doesn't sound like anything we didn't need to do as we evolved...why are we not doing it in school?
  4. Take the initiative and be creative: Waiting for direction from others rather than taking the initiative and creating something can be a show-stopper. I know that I want people on my team who can take the initiative and create something new, something *I* never could have imagined.
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication: this seems obvious.
  6. Accessing and analyzing information
  7. Imagination - This actually reminded me of Seth Godin's purple cow

What I really enjoyed from this article was the steps at the end...I've paraphrased them a bit:

  1. Give students a complex, multi-step problem that is different from the ones they’ve seen in the past and, to solve it, they have to apply previously acquired knowledge.
  2. Students have to engage in parallel problem-solving--developing at least two ways to solve the problem--which requires some initiative and imagination. Then, share their solutions and rationale using effective communication skills (not just a Powerpoint, eh?)
  3. Teacher uses questions to push the student groups' thinking. 
  4. Hold the team, and each member, accountable for the solution and the thinking that went into it.
You know, not unlike PBL at all.

"Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists..." 
Source: BBC:

What's it like in YOUR neck of the woods?

    • Would You Hire Your Own Kids? 7 Skills Schools Should be Teaching Them

    • I look for someone who asks good questions,” Parker responded. “Our business is changing, and so the skills our engineers need change rapidly, as well. We can teach them the technical stuff. But for employees to solve problems or to learn new things, they have to know what questions to ask. And we can’t teach them how to ask good questions—how to think. The ability to ask the right questions is the single most important skill.”

    • I want people who can engage in good discussion—who can look me in the eye and have a give and take.”

    • All of our work is done in teams. You have to know how to work well with others. But you also have to know how to engage the customer—to find out what his needs are. If you can’t engage others, then you won’t learn what you need to know.”

    • Seven Survival Skills that all of our students will need to master in order to get a good job in the new “flat” world of work. I also came to see how these are the same skills young people need in order to understand and discuss some of the most pressing issues we face as a democracy in the 21st century.

    • 1. Critical Thinking and Problem-solving
      In order for companies to compete in the new global economy, they need every worker to be a “knowledge worker”—and to think about how to continuously improve their products, processes, or services.

    • “Yesterday’s answers won’t solve today’s problems.”

    • the challenge is this: how do you do things that haven’t been done before, where you have to re-think or think anew, or break set in a fundamental way—it’s not incremental improvement anymore. That just won’t cut it. The markets are changing too fast, the environments are changing too fast.”

    • 2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence

    • Teamwork, it seems, is no longer just about working with others in your building. And traditional top-down accountability structures are rapidly being replaced by horizontal networks.

    • “Technology has allowed for virtual teams,” she explained. “The way some engineering projects in our company are set up is that you are part of a virtual team. We have teams working on major infrastructure projects that are all over the U.S. On other projects, you’re working with people all around the world on solving a software problem. They don’t work in the same room, they don’t come to the same office, but every week they’re on a variety of conference calls; they’re doing web casts; they’re doing net meetings.”

    • “Kids just out of school have an amazing lack of preparedness in general leadership skills and collaborative skills,” he explained, “They lack the ability to influence versus direct and command.”

    • 3. Agility and Adaptability

    • think, be flexible, change, and be adaptive, and use a variety of tools to solve new problems. We change what we do all the time.

    • People have to learn to adapt.

    • adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills.”

    • 4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism

    • “Leadership is the capacity to take initiative and trust yourself to be creative,”

    • One of the problems of a large company is risk aversion. Our challenge is how to create an entrepreneurial culture in a larger organization.”

    • 5. Effective Oral and Written Communication

    • “We are routinely surprised at the difficulty some young people have in communicating: verbal skills, written skills, presentation skills. They have difficulty being clear and concise; it’s hard for them to create focus, energy, and passion around the points they want to make. They are unable to communicate their thoughts effectively. You’re talking to an exec, and the first thing you’ll get asked if you haven’t made it perfectly clear in the first 60 seconds of your presentation is, ‘What do you want me to take away from this meeting?’ They don’t know how to answer that question.”

    • 6. Accessing and Analyzing Information

    • “There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren’t prepared to process the information effectively it almost freezes them in their steps.”

    • 7. Curiosity and Imagination

    • “People who’ve learned to ask great questions and have learned to be inquisitive are the ones who move the fastest in our environment because they solve the biggest problems in ways that have most impact on innovation.”

    • “For businesses it’s no longer enough to create a product that’s reasonably priced and adequately functional. It must also be beautiful, unique, and meaningful.”

    • First, students are given a complex, multi-step problem that is different from the ones they’ve seen in the past and, to solve it, they have to apply previously acquired knowledge from both geometry and algebra. Mere memorization won’t get them very far in this lesson; critical thinking and problem-solving skills are required. Second, they have to find two ways to solve the problem, which requires some initiative and imagination. Just getting the correct answer isn’t good enough; they have to explain their proofs—using effective communication skills. Third, the teacher does not spoon feed students the answers; he uses questions to push students’ thinking—as well as their tolerance for ambiguity. Finally, because the teacher has said that he’ll randomly call on a student to show how the group solved the problem, each student in every group is held accountable. The group can’t rely on the work of one or two students to get by, and the teacher isn’t going to just call on the first student to raise a hand or shout out an answer. Teamwork is required for success.

    • And when most of the tests are multiple choice and require mainly memorization of facts—it’s definitely for the worse. It is the rare teacher—like the one whom I described above—who is willing to risk teaching students to think versus merely drilling what must be covered for the test.

    • Where in the 20th century, rigor meant mastering more—and more complex—academic content, 21st century rigor is about creating new knowledge and applying what you know to new problems and situations.

    • Tony Wagner is Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and can be reached through his website: This article is adapted from his book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach The New Survival Skills Our Children Need—and What We Can Do About It (New York: Basic Books, 2008)

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dis-Spelling Never Never Land - A Fool's Action

So come with me, 
where dreams are born,
and time is never planned.
Just think of happy things,
and your heart will fly on wings,
Forever, in Never Never Land.
~Peter Pan

This morning, this Buzz bugged me like a gnat on a hot summer day (and, in Texas, that's not too far off!):

Dr. McLeod has a wonderful reputation for generating controversy by moving people's cheese. This buzz from Scott, though, highlights another one of those "feel-good," easy to share messages about leadership.  The article is entitled Leading from Wherever You Are in an Organization: Your Professional Responsibility. It is brief hurrah article about John Maxwell's book, The 360 degree Leader. Check out this Powerpoint slide show to see what Maxwell was highlighting in more detail.

While no one can fault a positive attitude, thinking happy thoughts and all that, there's some serious risk in trying to lead from the middle, especially when you consider the diagram below.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Emanating from a central hub, your influence should transcend multiple levels within your organization. Conceptually, 360° Leaders “lead up, lead across, and lead down” to maximize their sphere of influence.

Let's get down to brass tacks. Before we do, let's reflect on what "Let's get down to brass tacks" actually means. Usually, it means the following:
The expression usually means clearing out confusing details and finding out the real facts about something.
What's confusing about this article? For me, this article fails to take into account these points...and the concern is that it you're sending people off to get "slammed" as they try to put these ideas in place with no real specific advice. It's like, "Go tear down the dam" blocking the great ideas with no thought as to where the "flood" waters will go. Is that the kind of way you want to begin reconstruction in YOUR environment?

For me, the book review....
  • Fails to Conduct an Environmental Scan: If you conduct an environmental scan--getting relevant information about your situation--you will probably find that there is an entrenched culture ready to resist your change efforts. It doesn't matter that YOU think it's all wonderful and great, but that people with real feelings do not want to change. Leadership without taking stock of the needs and fears of those around you is plumb loco.
  • Fails to Avoid Garnering Needless Resentment and Retaliation: In the diagram above, it is stated that your professional responsibility IS to break the chain of command and talk to your supervisor's peers, peer's subordinates, and supervisor peer's subordinates. Although education certainly gives lip service to distributed management/leadership approaches, the dysfunctional hierarchy is very much still in use.

    Is the following true of your organization or school hierarchy?

    Most hierarchies express arrogance and abuse of power, repressing expressions of new creative impulses. The limitation of the leader or leadership group becomes the limitation of an entire organization or society. Dysfunctional hierarchies create immense frustration in others, accompanied by threats of rebellion or at least passive resistance and subtle sabotage.Source: The New Leadership

    In hierarchies, is leadership shared? Can we have leaders in the middle and leaders in positions? Sure we can! But will insecure leaders in positions allow the leaders in the middle? NO.

    A great example of this is, if I go off and shout out a message to campus principals without ensuring that message has organizational support, nothing will happen. In fact, those folks at every angle of 360 degrees will strongly resent and retaliate. R&R increases when I go up the chain of command. Whether we agree that this is the "right" way, in many school cultures, R&R are a consequence of violating the chain of command and the culture of "no information" for those lower on the hierarchy.
  • Fails to Consider Command and Control Type Approaches in Schools: I haven't read a single leadership book that encourages a lack of openness and transparency in leadership, but I bet readers would be unsurprised to find out that being close-mouthed IS an expectation for those higher-ups in position. The approach was described in this way to me by someone holding a doctorate in education leadership and consulting for local schools (read my disclaimer below before jumping to conclusions): School leaders are looking for "Soldier Ask Not" type obedience; they make a decision at Central Office and they want it carried out without argument or discussion. "Just do it." That's how districts that work get it done. This results in a top-down hierarchy where important decisions ARE made at the top by the POSITIONS, rather than the stakeholders.
The essence of the article Dr. McLeod has so graciously pointed out as worthy of being shared with those whinny tech coordinators who feel overwhelmed and irrelevant--my characterization, not his--is simple: If you want to effect change, step up and speak to everyone about that change. This type of approach resonates with me...SHARE MORE! The problem is, what happens when no one shares back and there are penalties for sharing?

From another review of Maxwell's book:
Maxwell believes that those who are deficit in leadership skills tend to hoard their information. They protect their work from peers, supervisors and subordinates in order to make sure they receive their due credit for the work they have done.
He also believes that true leaders share everything. They share their best ideas, their hardest work, their most invested projects with everyone from every level in order to provide for the good of all. He feels this type of leader will ultimately reap the benefits of their unselfish and dedicated efforts and, like cream, rise to the top.
Often an entrenched culture that has deficit leadership skills is too hard to change without massive pain all around for everyone involved. The easiest answer is to practice Quinn's active exit, but you end up jumping from position to position. Another, more likely approach, is to practice leadership in the middle that encourages team members to become star followers. Are you a star follower?
Star followers think for themselves, are very active, and have very positive energy. They do not accept the leader's decision without their own independent evaluation of its soundness. If they agree with the leader they give full support. If they disagree, they challenge the leader, offering constructive alternatives that will help the leader and organization get where they want to go. Some people view these people as really "leaders in disguise" but this is basically because those people have a hard time accepting that followers can display such indpendence and positive behavior. Star followers are often referred to as "my right-hand person" or my "go-to person."
The top level positions in command-n-control cultures that keep all information to themselves do not appreciate star followers because they represent a serious threat. Leadership from the middle is, sadly,  a clever illusion that is frequently dis-spelled by poor leadership at the top.

That said, with most of Maxwell's book on my shelves, there are few authors who transport one to Never Never Land as quickly and easily. Ah, I'd rather the hard-bitten leadership advice one finds in reading Peter Drucker. If we could get these questions--between leaders and others around them--answered, I expect Maxwell's advice would fall right into place:
  • "What activities do you need to report to me?" 
  • "What about my activity and my plans do you need to know from me?" 
  • The CEO needs to say, "This is what I am focusing on." Then the CEO needs to ask of his associates, "What are you focusing on?" Ask your associates, "You put this on top of your priority list--why?"
Perhaps, it's best to end with a John Maxwell quote....
“Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”
To enact change, find your happy thought and to heck with the consequences.

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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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Inexorable Reputation Creation

Everytime I listen to a keynote speaker, there is an air of inevitability conveyed. You know, it usually is along the lines of Sylvia Martinez' words at GenYes Blog, "This is a floodgate well and truly open, whether or not you declare it closed." Not unlike those speakers, I also find myself sending a message similar to the ones's worth reflecting on the implications of expressing such an air of inevitability:
"No, parents don't have a choice. Technology is coming and you better quit trying to close the door on it."
"No, teachers don't have a choice. Technology is coming and you better work in like yeast into the bread of everyday instruction."
"No, administrators don't have a choice. Technology is coming and you better use it for data collection, reporting, disaggregation and analysis to improve student achievement."
"No, students, you don't have a choice. As your parent, I bought you this mobile phone or this interactive white board, and I expect you to use it." And, so they do.

I don't like conveys a lack of choice. So does the word "inexorable." If something is inevitable, it's coming no matter what. Inexorable implies relentless progress. What we need is a profound shift in our thinking. It's no longer about not having a choice, but having boundless possibilities. Yet, what you do with what is possible for you reflects upon you, as does public perception of your decision. Consider the following information from Reputation Management and Social Media Report:
More than half (57%) of adult internet users say they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006. Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.

Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share. “Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Madden.
Source: Reputation Management and Social Media by Mary Madden and Aaron Smith, 05/26/2010

How do you perceive the Internet? Will you share information about yourself or limit yourself?

In reviewing this report, I wonder about my teenage daughter. Is her reluctance to publish her work online, as well as her deletion of her Facebook account, stemming from:

a) Her traditional instruction that jealously refuses to publish work online for fear someone will steal the ideas and their expression?
b) Her desire to safeguard her personal and life details
c) A desire to keep her technology use social, as opposed to academic.

It is choice C that bothers me the most. Is it possible that our children are learning that technology use is social, as opposed to academic? My child is a creator but only creates on paper. As I point out to her, is that going to cut it when you have so many--including children--already creating and posting their work online?

When I read Dave Fleet's points in a blog entry entitled, How To Ruin (Or Build) Your Personal Brand, I found myself slowly doing a quick check of my own online reputation. How would I score?

I've re-ordered Dave's points into ones I found to resonate the most with me:
  1. Follow your passion; be yourself - My passion is anything at the intersection of leadership, technology in education, and writing. I've tried to be myself in these blog entries, although I often wonder, have I been TOO much myself? 
  2. Be willing to fail - This is critically important. Some people won't write or try something for fear of failure, embarrassment. I can honestly say, failure is a key aspect of learning, writing and blogging.
  3. Define Your goal - This is something that I've been criticized on. If I were to focus on ONE topic, that would make Around the Corner a "killer blog." What folks don't realize is that my focus when I started the blog was to share what I was learning, and I have to learn a lot of different things that are relevant to the work I'm about and my interests. Funny, huh? If I have an over-arching goal, it's learn and share.
  4. Under-promise; over-deliver - This is one that isn't hard. I never made a promise to my readers about what I would deliver. I don't have to deliver anything some days, nor do I feel obligated to do so.
  5. Kill people with generosity - Gee, I hope that has happened. I hope people have found what is shared useful for THEIR work.
  6. Find a mentor - If I had to claim mentors, I'd probably pick on BlueSkunk Blog (Doug Johnson) since he is one of the oldest folks I know about (smile). I sure appreciate being able to give him free rein to pick on me while he's teaching me something by being himself. Of course, there are so many mentors online that are available to learn from.
  7. Network like crazy - Well, you be the judge of my network.
  8. Be a sponge/say yes - I've had real trouble with this. I'm having to say NO more often to outside projects so I can focus on a few. I'm a workaholic, but I guess I'm getting more selective in my collaborations. That's dangerous, I suspect, now that the world is all about collaboration. As such, I need to grow seriously in this area.
  9. Build your brand before you need it - This is very true. I have a brand, I'm just not sure what brand it is. I hope that the brand says, "This is reliable, offered in openness and transparency with no hidden agenda." You'll have to tell me.

Wes Fryer, sharing his passion for StoryChasers, points out the following:
Never underestimate the power of WORDS and the importance of helping others become AUTHORS...We all have stories to tell, and stories to which we have unique access that deserve the opportunity to be shared with others. Whether writing text, recording audio, or creating video, we can ALL now have access to a powerful set of documentary and publishing tools which our ancestors could scarcely imagine.
Want to manage your reputation? Do something worthwhile and share it online with as many as may want to subscribe to your work! Perhaps, the word isn't's inexorable.

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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

Passionate Learner - Pages 1-45

Image Source:,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-

"We wouldn't exist, as a human race, unless we had evolved as the most effective lifelong learners in the history of the planet." One of my favorite quotes so far!

I've been snatching a few pages here and there from Robert L. Fried's book, "The Passionate Learner." Here are a few quotes from that jumped out at me...for fun, I titled each of the quotes...sort of like what you might see in Bible quotes. I won't provide chapter and verse, though (or even page #). You'll find all these quotes in pages 1-45, though.

The loneliness of the solitary educator and the isolated parent, the school cut off from a vital connection to its neighborhood, the home and classroom that feel like totally other worlds to the child--these things must change if we are to raise a generation of passionate learners.

"High school was like a penance imposed for some unknown sin. Everything I ever learned that was important to me was learned outside of school. So I never though to associate schools with learning." --A former high school student

The Passionate Learner is all around us, within us. It is the child who questions, who daydreams, who invests problems and tries to solve them. It's the child who winces at injustice and wants to know how to make life fair. It's the child who acts and then steps back to wonder why things turned out that way, who reads and then links the universe of the book, seamlessly, with that of her own imagination. Let us find ways to celebrate the eternal promise of the passionate learners that we are.

Children spend the first years of life solving problems all the time. They are born learning; if there is nothing to learn, they are bored and their attention is distracted. We don't have to train children to learn, or even account for their learning; we have to avoid interfering with it. - Frank Smith

We wouldn't exist, as a human race, unless we had evolved as the most effective lifelong learners in the history of the planet. As human beings, we are makers and users of tools. We just have to make sure that the tool we have invented, called "school," has a handle that can fit every child's grasp.
(Miguel's Note: When reading this, it made me wonder how Creationists would interpret this paragraph).

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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

Podcast: Free Computer Reimaging Alternative


Find out more about the open source imaging solution, F.O.G. TECSIG and SOSSIG members, Mark Cockrell and Shawn Kibel, recently interviewed the developers of F.O.G. for an episode of their podcast, The Tightwad Tech. There is a lot of good information on this product as well as their latest version, which was released on 5/25/10. If interested, you can find the podcast here: or search "The Tightwad Tech" on iTunes.

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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

Got GoogleApps?

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One of the common obstacles--although not a significant one--that some school districts have shared in moving to cloud computing, especially GoogleApps for Education for email, calendars, and a rich variety of other tools useful for students, teachers, and administrators is that of switching systems. After all, if you've built your house of cards in MS Exchange, it's hard to imagine making the transition. Anything Google can do to make the transition easier is important. One day, you can hope for 1-click transition from MS Exchange to GoogleApps for Education.

Recently, Google came a lot closer to achieving that with this announcement:

Businesses and schools are moving to Google Apps in droves, and they're able to switch more seamlessly with the help of tools to move old email, contacts and calendar data from legacy solutions to Google’s cloud. We have administrator-managed migration utilities for Microsoft® Exchange and Lotus Notes®, and today we're making it a lot easier for many end-users to move their old data themselves if their administrators aren’t planning server-side data migrations.

Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook® is a new end-user tool that moves email, calendar and contact data from Outlook® profiles, PST files and Exchange accounts to Google Apps. . .Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook® works with Microsoft Outlook® 2003 and 2007, on-premise and hosted Exchange, as well as legacy PST files saved on users’ machines, and it's available at no additional cost to Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers.

When will YOUR district make the switch to "free" solution and re-invest precious dollars back into teaching and learning rather than maintaining a server farm, district technical staff that support it?

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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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Web 2.0 Candy Store

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Like gluttonous kids in a candy store, exploring with toothy excitement the depths of the shiny candies in the jar at eye level, educators are rallying around a simple message - "ALL THE CANDY YOU CAN PULL OUT OF THE JAR--FREE!" Yet, the sad truth is that the candy jar of Web 2.0 tools has a narrow mouth a full hand can't fit through, and someone has to pay the bill for the candy devoured...even if it is the "parents" (or network admins) who must "foot the bill" for clean-up and cavity eradication.

The biggest draw in the Candy Jar? Cloud Computing a la "absolute good," which in the minds of those starving for real food, is quite simply not good--or bad--at all. No thought is given to the lack of security in cloud computing solutions, solutions colleges and universities (like Yale) have cast aside as junk. Consider their perspective:

“People were mainly interested in technical questions like the mechanics of moving, wondering ‘Could we do it?’ ” he said. “But nobody asked the question of ‘Should we do it?’ ”
Fischer said concerns about the switch to Gmail fell into three main categories: problems with “cloud computing” (the transfer of information between virtual servers on the Internet), technological risks and downsides, and ideological issues.
Google stores every piece of data in three centers randomly chosen from the many it operates worldwide in order to guard the company’s ability to recover lost information — but that also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, Fischer said. He added that Google was not willing to provide ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent.

 Colleague--and candy afficionado--Dan Rezac points out the following:
The Cloud is an absolute good, that the very idea of an open Internet that is available to everyone, does not discriminate, is not exclusionary, and allows information to grow and be exchanged without walls or economic status will further support a society of collaboration, sharing, and participation. Let children sign up for any school they desire, and let technology be their savior here, not their virus or...Trojan Horse.
Drilling for oil is also an absolute good--for the businessmen involved, the workers who make a living from it, the tourist industry that gains some money, but when something goes wrong--and it inevitably does because we all fall short of...perfection--letting people follow their desires IS cause for concern.

It's clear that Candy Jar advocates, er, I mean, Cloud Computing advocates have missed the point. It's not that the open internet isn't a worthwhile end in itself. It's not that Moodle--or any course management system--fails to live up to their desires for an open learning environment. Everyone knows GoogleApps for Education, Moodle offer different solutions to perceived and real problems schools have.

The fundamental goals of schools today, by their very nature, express a different concept of how children and teachers should be approaching learning and teaching. It's not to say that one is evil or as sinister as a Sith Lord cloaked in shadows, or as good as a Jedi Master wrapped in self-righteous, controlled emotion and sensitivity to the plight of the hungry and the oppressed.

What we have is a simple lack of understanding. The question isn't, "if there was no Moodle, we would have easy access to Cloud Computing and CourseClouds and all that vaporous nonsense, right?" Rather, the question is, "If there were no Moodle, what would be your favorite brand of chalk and chalkboard?"

To really get insight into what school teachers in some districts--like Texas and Oklahoma--face, you have to listen to insidious dark whispers of technology directors who protect us all, but especially those gluttonous children from eating too much candy, running rampant like ravenous rats in the corn.

Cloud computing? CourseCloud? Moodle? Yes, say these words but then, in the still of the night, remember the Man behind the counter, his smile too chilling to forget, his rapacious expression of greed too frightening to recall. An absolute good? In whose hands would you want your future, the Corporations eager to capture your data, or the tech director you work with every day, who labors constantly on your behalf?
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Image Sources:
Allanon and Flick -

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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 Disclosurep

Sidestepping the Rules in Beijing

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A colleague at work called me up today, asking for guidance on how to best access the Internet in China. Not having been to China (hint to anyone who'd like to foot the bill), I scrambled while I had him on the phone to provide him with some solutions.

Fortunately, I recalled Wes Fryer's travails in China and googled that. Some of the solutions that came up--which will surely get this blog banned by school districts, so enjoy it while you can--included the following:

Virtual Private Network
Important for protecting logins and passwords you enter in while using public WiFi hotspots (not a bad thing to do anywhere you happen to be with "sniffers" out there ready to grab your info):

Accessing Content

Another interesting approach is using decimal number versions of IP Addresses and you can use one of the sites below to encode a URL (web address) to a decimal number (here's how to decode them).

Step 1 - Convert a domain name ( for example) to IP Address - DO IT HERE

Step 2 - Take the IP Address provided in Step 1 and Convert it to Decimal - DO IT 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

Feeding Multiple Twitter Accounts into Facebook

My head of school wants to know if it's possible to have Twitter feeds from two different accounts send updates to a Facebook page and if so how this can be accomplished. If this isn't possible, is there a quick and easy way for him to switch the feeds from different accounts off and on?
Each Twitter account has what is called an RSS feed. This feed can be re-routed easily and multiple feeds posted to Facebook. Here's how you can do it:

Let's say you have 3 Twitter feeds, maybe one for your superintendent/principal, technology director, and/or Communications Director. To accomplish that, you will follow these steps:

1) Create the multiple twitter accounts. For purposes of this example, let's say they are:

2) Create a or account. These services will allow you to re-direct your content from multiple Twitter accounts to your Facebook account. You will need to know the RSS feed address for your Twitter account, which happens to be as follows:

In the example above, mguhlin is my Twitter username. For the example Twitter accounts, it might look like this:
Each of these addresses would, theoretically, generate an RSS feed that can funneled through the or account.

For example, in the case of, it would look something like this:

What's neat about this approach is that you can easily blend in multiple RSS feeds--say, maybe pull in twitter accounts for all teachers at your school and run them through ONE instructionally-focused Twitter or Facebook account for your school--to form ONE RSS feed for content. Using these simple techniques, you could also deliver content in a variety of ways to blogs, wikis, etc.


Here's are two possible approaches; the first one is mine, the second is Scott Floyd's. What approach would you take?

Approach #1

1) Every Twitter account has an RSS feed. Here is an example of two, where "mguhlin" and "woscholar" are twitter usernames:
You can get more detailed results by customizing your query.

2) You can "feed" the RSS feeds for each Twitter account through a third party provider RSS remixer--such as, which is free. Here's the RSS feed created from the two above using
3) Take the RSS Feed provided by and feed into Ping.FM as a CUSTOM URL

4) When you setup Ping.FM, set it up to to post to Facebook.

Anytime you tweet something from the Twitter accounts you are responsible for, the information will be shared by Ping.FM to Facebook. The benefit is that your user only has to tweet once and you can aggregate multiple twitter accounts into one feed that is shared via Facebook.

Hoping that is helpful and not too confusing,
Miguel Guhlin

Approach #2

Scott Floyd's approach:
I bet you can do that in Tweetdeck. You can assign each Twitter account a Facebook account to update concurrently. Tweetdeck also allows you to post to more than one Twitter account at a time. I do not use Facebook (oh the horror!), so I have not tested it. In theory, it should work just fine since each Twitter account would not care which Facebook account you are publishing to. 
What would you do?

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Your Smudged Digital Footprint

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Nancy Willard shared this piece of information earlier today:


Seventy percent of hiring managers say they’ve decided not to hire an applicant because of information they have found online, according to a survey commissioned by Microsoft of 1,200 human relations managers and consumers. While most of those surveyed stated they research candidates online and think they are justified in doing so, only seven percent of consumers believed that recruiters check out potential candidates online when making hiring decisions. Over one-half of managers surveyed agreed that data on lifestyle, inappropriate written text and inappropriate photos were types of information that could result in rejecting a candidate. An overview of the findings from the survey can be accessed at

Ever wondered if having a digital footprint at all would negatively impact your job chances? I have. Often, it's the question of whether you're online at's the proclivity one displays in having a digital footprint that is negative, rather than what you put online. Of course, that's not a survey finding, just a personal suspicion of mind not validated by data out there (I haven't looked too hard). But what do you think?

Would having a "good" digital footprint help you get a job? Fortunately, that question is answered by this study:

Positive online reputations matter. Among U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 85% say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent.
At a recent training on how to hire the right people, the presenter was quick to point out that online presence should NOT be used for hiring people. It just presented too many issues and problems. As we move online, it seems only natural that people post content online that will positively enhance their "digital footprint."

What are your thoughts? Should employers use your digital footprint to judge whether you should even be interviewed?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Conceding Everything - Revel in Irrelevance


Cracking open "The Passionate Learner," (by Robert L. Fried) I was struck by the following quote and its relevance to a conversation going on over at Dangerously Irrelevant:
The true challenge for any teacher is to make caring the threshold for student work in any subject where thoughtfulness, imagination, analysis, reflection are important aspects of the knowledge and skills. When teachers focus solely on performance or compliance, we get the typical range of responses...But if we first ask, "Does the student care about what she is doing?" we open the door to a more engaging dialogue, leading to a more satisfying and productive teaching/learning relationship.
It would be easy to read Dr. Green's guest blog entry at Dangerously Irrelevant entitled "Should We Get Rid of Technology Directors?" and walk away with the following conclusions:
  1. School culture and technology have changed to the point that implementing and maintaining technology is like managing utilities.
  2. Technology usability has increased so that anyone can model use of technology--think of Dr. Tim Tyson at as he converted his campus teachers into bloggers--in the classroom provided the technology tap is "turned on."
  3. Designating people as educational technology directors is no longer worthwhile because we want to move ownership of technology use closer to the desired user--teachers, administrators, and students.
Yet, I keep coming back to the experiences I have had as a director of Instructional Technology Services. Often, I am the only person in the room who can explain the techno-babble of Technology Departments. It has taken years and countless hours of research on my own to serve as translator for the work committed Technology Department staff do every day. Yet, more importantly, it is my work in sharing exactly how technology can support instruction that is most important.

When I opened up a network/information systems magazine--too late, I threw it away yesterday--I was shocked by the attitude displayed in it. There was an attitude that the user is the enemy, the point of vulnerability in the network, and that the user's actions must be restricted whenever possible. When support is limited, a network tech's job isn't to teach people how to do it right, but to fix the problem. Soon, network support becomes an enemy to the primary mission of schools--to teach and learn.

As an educator, my experiences have taught me a different lesson that involves creating "conditions that promote authorship," as Bolman and Deal put it in one of their books (Leading with Soul, I think), authorship that does not thrive in top-down, aggressively managed school networks many educators--and students--find themselves circumventing with tethered mobile devices. The role of an ed-tech director isn't too challenge network policy but to find ways to help teachers and students learn what they must so that they are not points of vulnerability, alien bodies that must be attacked by the white blood cells of school district technology departments.

The truth of the matter is that an educational technologist could always exist or do an awesome job as a teacher or leader. When asked, "Should we move educational technology under curriculum or under Finance?" the answer should always be, "Why aren't you moving Curriculum & Instruction under Educational Technology?"

Yet, that seldom happens. It seldom happens because edtech is about letting the genie out of the bottle, of embracing your enemies--those you serve--and giving yourself completely over to their service and learning. Our approaches to Curriculum and Instruction, Technology always seem to involve the sacrifice of creativity, discovery learning, authentic learning experiences in favor of artificial (as Clay Burell puts it, "schooliness") activities designed to improve performance on high stakes assessments.
Simply, a school district without an edtech director committed to these authentic learning experiences, using the digital media tools of the day, has little stomach for passionate learning focused on reclaiming the "joy of discovery."

As an instructional technology director, I often pray that technology would become so essential to what we do as teachers and administrators that if it broke down, we wouldn't be able to do our job. The reality is often quite different...what we do as educators is irrelevant to the experiences our children have when they are passionately engaged in discovery learning.

For fun, what if we re-wrote Fried's words (my apologies):
The true challenge for any edtech director is to make passionate engagement that empowers student the threshold for student, teacher and administrator work in schools. This is engagement that taps into the thoughtfulness, imagination, analysis, reflection critical to learning in technology-rich environments. 
When directors focus solely on network performance or compliance, they get a typical range of responses...use of technology for data analysis, disaggregation and management, locked down technology that is to be held above passionate learning conditions....
But if we first ask, "Do we, as directors of educational technology, care about how technology can serve as a tool of liberation and empowerment?" we open the door to more scaffolded technology use that facilitates engaging dialogue, leading to a more satisfying and productive teaching/learning and leading relationship.
I should point out that I am a director of instructional technology. I could easily see my job disappear but then, I know what would happen. A critical voice would have been silenced...while some may have chosen, like Dr. Green in his story, to revel in irrelevance, the loss of voice comes at great cost to the people one serves. We must not forget that we are human beings, and though there is much that is of inestimable value, we also remember the words of Frederick Douglass....

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. 
Frederick Douglass 

Are schools today adopting technology for use in the classroom or is technology dangerously irrelevant to the work of education? If so, technology directors must be like Mr. Douglass, mindful of the truth that power concedes nothing. Yes, those at this blog may be willing to concede everything, but as for me and my colleagues....

Watching you other people making friends 
Everywhere ~ as a dog makes friends! I mark 
The manner of these canine courtesies 
And think: My friends are of a cleaner breed; 
Here comes ~ thank God! ~ another enemy! 
Note: Ah, Cyrano de Bergerac. I hope you had as much fun reading this blog entry as I did writing it!

Or, "if an educator tells you he loves children, but denies them technology, he is a liar!" (adapted from Abraham Lincoln's quote on labor)

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Sunday, May 23, 2010 - My New Best Friend (Updated 5/23/2010)

The Way It Works Now

The Way I Wish It Worked

Although I hate to say goodbye to FriendFeed, what was driving me nuts was not able to post to Plurk directly. In fact, I want to just say something ONCE and have it go to all my favorite networks without duplication. You social media network to rule them all. Unfortunately, no one tool does it all in terms of publishing content. I have to rely on 1) and then 2) either or (read more about RSS to publishing) will allow you to post your RSS feed for your blog, and then post it to Twitter. For me, this falls short since I want it to go to and then to everything else indicated in the image above. will post RSS feed content--such as from your blog--straight to and once that happens, my content will go to all the networks indicated in the image above. I was hoping this would be THE solution, but apparently, not so...I keep getting an error (Update 05/23/2010 - Twitterfeed acknowledged the problem via a tweet to me earlier and shared they are working to resolve it!):
Note: I've blacked out my App key

My desire is to set this up and then forget about it. . .you know, once it is setup, just forget about it. I like the fact I can use PingDroid on my Android Phone (pictured in the image above, although you should see what PingDroid looks like on a G1 to the right) to push out updates that go everywhere.  I can use a web browser to access or PingDroid when mobile. Of course, I'm still stuck having to read updates from others via Plurk, Twitter, Buzz, Facebook in their own apps, but sharing ideas/information has never been easier!

I'd looked at Ping.FM as a way to accomplish this a few months ago and had decided to stick with In the intervening time, though, Ping.FM has added all my favorite networks, including:

  1. - Mostly using this because it allows for more in-depth conversations, not that I've had any recently since I visit it so infrequently. Yet, some people hang out here and I have read stuff here I haven't necessarily seen elsewhere.
  2. - This is mostly my "professional" network where I can interact with other educators and reach a broad audience.
  3. Facebook - This is my "public-personal" network, where everything I post is personal but limited to a small group of people I've met face to face, who aren't co-workers (check Twitter for that), and that I can honestly remember meeting (a small group). I haven't decided if these criteria will work, but this is intended to be a narrow audience, as opposed to Twitter/Plurk that can include just everyone.
  4. Buzz - Still not exactly sure why this network is valuable, but you never know. I have gotten some significant info from Buzz, but the interaction is quite different from Twitter and Plurk. Real content sharing there that is accessible from anywhere, including work.
  5. GoogleReader - I want to share something via Reader and have it appear everywhere.
  6. Around the - The feature to post content from new blog entries or a custom URL is nice, and the fact it goes to all my social media outlets simultaneously and instantaneously is just plumb awesome!
    UPDATE 05/23/2010: This is wrong. I wish would pull content via RSS but it does not. Sigh. Still have to use to post RSS related content for me.
  7.> - Bookmark something and it ends being broadcast. For the record, I use for everything, but whatever I bookmark with Diigo automatically is posted to, and hence, to my social networks.

A few months ago, Tim Holt pointed out that keeping track of all your social networks can be very difficult. Ping.FM makes it easy to post something ONCE and then have it appear everywhere. Of course, you have to be careful of what you post!

From a social media perspective, this can certainly make it easier for a business/school district to get information out without having to juggle the networks and post to more than one at a time.

Here is what my dashboard looks like:

and you can track your updates from multiple locations via

Some of the clients I'm using include:

  • Nambu on Macintosh, although there is a dashboard set of apps, too
  • Gnome Do on ubuntulinux (thanks to Joel Zehring for that tip!)
  • PingDroid on my Android phone

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just Educate Reform Campaign

from the web site...
To prepare our kids for the 21st century, I insist that:
  • Politicians stop dragging our children’s schools into the “culture wars”
  • Decisions about what students learn are based on sound scholarship and the work of real experts in every subject
  • Classroom teachers and professors in our state’s world-class colleges and universities – not politicians promoting personal agendas – guide the adoption of curriculum standards and textbooks
Our kids deserve better. Our future depends on it.

From the email one receives on signing the petition:
What can you do?
1. Write to the board and express your concerns. (Read some background information here on problems with the social studies revisions.) E-mail the SBOE by clicking here.
2. Call your local legislator, and tell her or him that you are dissatisfied with the board's actions. Remind your representative that the Texas Legislature has the authority to reform this board and the process by which they adopt curriculum. You can find out who represents you by going to this website.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It’s important that this issue remain front and center in the media. Click here for information on how to write an effective letter to the editor.
4. Get five of your friends to sign the Just Educate petition and join this movement. Forward this
5. Spread the message across Facebook. Invite your friends to join the Just Educate Facebook group.

 Just Educate

Read the background:

For those who may have forgotten...
Rule 247.2 Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators:
Standard 2.4. The educator shall not interfere with a colleague's exercise of political, professional, or citizenship rights and responsibilities.

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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