Showing posts from December, 2008

Selecting the Right Blogging Service

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Running a blog service for educators isn't unlike balancing a load of boxes, as the image above illustrates. It's tough work and I'm grateful to those companies that have chosen to offer free services to educators. Irrespective of their commitment to service, educators are looking for services that meet certain criteria. Some criterion can be set aside, but others--such as ad-free blogs for users--are non-negotiable in some environments.

A few months ago, I made the decision to abandon Thingamablog and switch to something else. When I started with Thinga, I was just playing around. 7,000 entries later, I was done playing and looking for something easier than FTPing files to a server.

But what should that something easier be? I was strongly leaning towards but then, as a result of constant upgrades and changes there--which undoubtedly improved their service even as it made it possi…

Rub Some Worksheets on My Back

2 subscribers. It's been a long time since I've been there. And, yet, I was instantly engaged by Neil's writing, probably because he started sharing about Nancie Atwell. I enjoyed the "voice" his writing had:
Students want to read what they want to read. Each of them are different, and each of their tastes are different. There is no way that I could ever choose a novel that twenty-nine 11, 12, and 13 year-olds are all going to engage in and enjoy. Especially when I ask them to talk about it at regular intervals and interrupt the flow of a good story.

Could you imagine on the weekend if the theatre put up the houselights every twenty minutes for you to answers some comprehension questions, to see if you’re making enough connections, to see if you are inferring in a meaningful way. No, you couldn’t. Have you ever laid out on the beach with a good worksheet?This type of teaching is swiftly dying in America. Sometimes, I think, using technology to facilitate writing an…

Blogspot Tip - Make It Easy for Readers to Share Your Blog Entry

You, too, can place ADD THIS buttons below each of your Blogspot blog entries. Get yourself a free account at ADD THIS and then...get ADD THIS to add the code to your blog.

Note that their instructions for copying-n-pasting the code did not work but clicking on their ADD TO BLOG button did work.

via Blogger Tips and Tricks

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Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

MY Backup Process

On re-reading my previous post, I realized that I have a lot to share about how I do my backups. It doesn't hurt to review that process and share it with you...whether you make regular backups or not.

Here are a few givens:
I work across multiple computers, so my data has to be accessible cross-platform in easy to read/open formats.95% of the work (including home and work) is archivable. I honestly don't need access to everything 100% of the time.A large audio/video/photo collection needs to be backed up in at least 2 places - online via a web service and on external hard drives (2 at least).Software Tools
7zip on all platforms. Better compression than zip, free open source software.OpenOffice (ODF) format for all Office documentsGPG4Win, MacGPG, KGPG on GNU/Linux to encrypt individual files (7zip multiple files first, then encrypt the result 7zip file).TrueCrypt for less confidential data and to serve as an encrypted "container" for data. I make these in sizes of 4gigs…


While there are several tools on the Linux side, KGPG is the easiest to get working (I've worked on Gnome and KDE graphical user interfaces to Linux). As mentioned earlier, an excellent tool to use for encryption includes KGPG. Installing KGPG is straightforward, especially on Debian Linux distributions such as Edubuntu, SimplyMepis, and others. You can use the built-in, graphical Synaptic to get the program or at the command line, use Apt-Get (e.g. "apt-get install kgpg").

KGPG is a nice front-end to GPG, which is already installed on your Linux system. An easy start tutorial is available online. Unbelievably, KGPG is easier to get going than the MacGPG Tools mentioned earlier!
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On the Macintosh, there are several privacy tools you can use. While the Personal version of the Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP for short, (which is free but lacks disk encryption after the 30-day trial expires) is the easiest to use, there is another free, open source alternative. This alternative is a combination of FOSS tools.

While installation of these tools is straightforward, you will have to spend about an hour puzzling over the documentation to see how they all work together. Unlike Windows Privacy Tools (WinPT), there is no one unifying installer. As such, you are left trying to make all the pieces work together.

You will need to install 5 different tools on your computer. I recommend creating a new folder on your desktop, then copying the files to that folder.

As you might guess, figuring out how all these tools work together can be difficult. In reality, the process is much easier than one would think. The most difficult part of the process is actually setting up your public and…

GPG for Windows

Lose a laptop, and your troubles could just be beginning! Why? Confidential data. Re-discovering Windows XP solution, I stumbled across GPG4Windows, which is an excellent, easy way to encrypt individual files, emails, and confidential information. Gpg4win is a installer package for Windows (2000/XP/2003/Vista) with computer programs and handbooks for EMail and file encryption. Both relevant cryptography standards are supported, OpenPGP and S/MIME (the latter is in progress and currently works with GnuPG2 and Claws Mail). Gpg4win and the software included with Gpg4win are Free Software. Now, some time ago, I also wrote about TrueCrypt...Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. What I didn't share is that TrueCrypt can be used to encrypt your entire laptop, as shared below: I have been running TrueCrypt ( on my la…

Backing Up Everything

Cheryl Oakes points out the following...
This is a two part blog post, I am beginning the post at and on Thursday Bob Sprankle will finish it ….

It is not a matter of if your laptop or desktop or phone or camera will crash, but really a matter of…..

If your answer is something like almost never or it is a fleeting thought, or when it happens you will scream, then you are among the majority of us.

If however, you work for the CIA or a financial institution or a government agency, then you never think of it because someone else has already made those plans and your computer is locked down and your use is very rigid and everything you do is backed up.
Read more
Carla Arena wrote in response:
My husband has been pushing me, the family to go digital. Funny thing is that he's not that into technology, and I'm around it every single day! I'm getting everything from data in CDs to flash drives. All the music CDs have been ripped, saved to an external HD,…

Seven Things About Me Meme

Please, before you read any further, I encourage you to unsubscribe to Angela Maiers, Drezac's blogs for perpetuating this 7 things about me meme.

(just joking)

So, here we make this quick and easy, I flipped through my Flickr photos to find stuff about my long lost past. Since I've done this kind of meme before, I tried to share a little bit about what each photo represents. I hope it worked!

1. Writing on the Edge - I was named after my grandfather, Miguel (shown above), who happened to be a politician (actually, mayor of the town) in Santiago, Panama. Apparently, his brother was a political writer who liked to rabble-rouse. My mother says that my writing talent comes from her side of the family, although it skipped her (she's a whiz in math, though). It turns out that writing on the edge--that is, writing that can get you fired or thought of as unpopular--is hereditary. Who knew?

2. I love to Fish. Since I grew up in the Republic of Panama, I spent my weekends at th…

Press Release - Courage in My Community

Just received this...
Cambium Learning® Technologies and The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum©, Inc. have teamed up to deliver an exciting pilot collaboration for the 2008-2009 academic year. The MWCC and Kurzweil Educational Systems, a division of Cambium Learning Technologies® are teaming up to encourage teachers across the country to engage middle school students in writing about courage.

The goal of this collaboration is to 1) encourage the integration of technology in student writing, 2) increase students’ writing capabilities, and 3) foster teacher interest in The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum, a nationally recognized Boston-based year-long language arts program dedicated to strengthening the character development and literacy skills of students.Visit their web site.

From their press release:

The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum and Cambium Learning® Technologies Team Up to Encourage Teachers Ac…

Convert 35mm Slides to Digital


Last week, or maybe the week before that, one of the teacher specialists in Social Studies called me up and asked, "Do you have any equipment to convert slides to digital format?"
"What do you mean, slides?" I asked back.
"The old slides that go in a slide projector," he replied. Of course, we didn't have anything that would get the job done. But the question came back to me when I read this blog entry over at Unclutterer: For $20, Costco will transfer two hours of VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, Hi-8, Digital 8, 8mm videotape, MiniDV, or Betamax tape to DVD. Once you have the DVD in hand, you just save the files to your computer’s hard drive (assuming your computer can read DVDs).

Costco also has a service that transfers 200 feet of 8mm, Super 8, 16mm movie reels to DVD for $20 and another…

Video Journalists Toolkit - What Some Recommend

Source: TelegraphTV News

Mindy McAdams (Teaching Online Journalism) wrote:
The crucial difference between these two laptops, though, is not the hardware — it’s the software. The Mac OS X operating system and the iLife suite — iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, and GarageBand — will make it easy for you to start producing multimedia stories. Windows Vista will not.Mindy faces some criticism for this perspective, but as an avid user of UbuntuLinux, Windows and Mac operating systems, I have to agree that for journalism purposes, a Macbook Pro running iLife is going to be much better. It all boils down to what you think journalism is REALLY about--are we all to be video journalists in the end? This video about journalism...puts it in context:

Source: YouTube Video -

If it's only about words, creating and collaborating online via content management systems (e.g. Joomla, WordPress, Modx) and other services (e.g. GoogleDocs) then any machine would…

Tingling Currents of Thought

Source: SpideySense is Tingling -

At first, I thought we were in for a big expose of all the charlatans that haunt the edublogosphere and end up as speakers in places where the people just lack the sophistication, the energy to read online. Dr. Scott McLeod (Dangerously Irrelevant) starts out with Willard Daggett, Ruby Payne--both of whom I had to deal with in different school districts I worked with, having to study their work only to find out now that they are (gasp) EXPOSED as fakes--and then moves on to a short list that, not surprisingly, includes some of my all time favorite speakers, including David Warlick, Doug Johnson, Ewan McIntosh, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Wesley Fryer.

Update 01/01/2009: Ewan asks if he's on the list of fakes. Obviously, he missed the bold section above which lists him as one of my all time favorite speakers. So again because my original text was not clear, here is--for wh…

The Write Technology


Some time ago, I setup a wiki as a companion site to a blog entry or workshop to capture ideas about...
Howdy! My name is Miguel Guhlin and I'm a writer, educator, and technologist. I need your help and hope that our resulting collaboration will be useful to others. I'm trying to justify the expense of technology to impact writing. I'm looking less for anecdotes than I am "hard research," whatever that is. However, stories are powerful, so I'm asking that if you have either to share, to add them below in the appropriate section. Using the information here, I intend to justify technology advocacy in my district and other places.
Add Your Research/Stories BelowResearch on how Technology Impacts Writing

Stories From the Classroom on How Tech Impacts Writing

So, I'll share what I have so far with the understanding that this wiki is now history:

Research on how Technology Impacts Writing
Scardamalia and Bereiter we…

3 Blind Mice Podcast

Tim Holt, Scott Floyd and I were having a bit of fun when we came up with an idea for a monthly podcast. Unfortunately, I fear we failed to consider our busy schedules and division of labor when making ambitious plans for a Texas-centric ed-tech podcast. So, the following plans were never realized.

Since I'm cleaning out my Wikispaces area, I thought I'd move the content over here for the wikispace we put together to host the podcast planning sessions and then nuke the site.
3 Blind Mice Education Technology Podcast A Weekly podcast on Texas education technology and curriculum issues.

Hosts:Tim Holt - Intended Consequences BlogScott Floyd - A Piece of My MindMiguel Guhlin - Around the Corner-MGuhlin.netPurpose: Join the 3 Blind Mice as they explore exciting, new Texas-specific developments in Educational Technology, confronting tough Texas topics and issues for the benefit of students, teachers, and leaders.
Podcast Structure:10-15 Minutes - Review of things in the news/research …

Managing and Distributing Content for Maximum Teaching Access and Effectiveness

The following is an article I co-wrote with Dr. Pat Burr. It originally appeared as a page we authored together via a wiki. I've made a minor update to it, since Dropload is now
Sure, you might have a new high-speed laptop, or a new whizbang classroom computer shared with others, or even access to storage space on your institution’s network, but do you have all of the space support that you need to manage your content? And can you always count on storing and accessing all of your valuable classroom teaching material on demand? Maybe not.

First, that new laptop with seemingly endless storage capacity must either travel with you in order for you to access content on demand, and any special-purpose software needed for accessing the files must also go with you. Whether this involves travel across the hall, across the country or across the ocean, carrying a laptop is not always the easiest content management option.

Second, let’s examine the virtues of that new whizbang shared cl…

Wikispaces Improves - Allows Student Users

To get to User Management, Manage Your Wiki and then click on User Creator

For the past three years, we have offered a service to educators where we create accounts in bulk for your students. It has been a pleasure to meet many of you as we helped you get started with your classroom wikis. You'll find that the process to create your student accounts has become even easier - within a few minutes, you can set up your classroom accounts on your own.

If your wiki is on our K-12 plan, go to "Manage Wiki" and then "User Creator" to create the accounts. As always, your students don't need e-mail addresses to enjoy Wikispaces.

For more information, take a look at our blog post: a thrill, has made it easy to add student accounts--without email addresses--to your wiki. As far as I can tell, this is a FREE service. Kudos to Wikispaces folks for their wonderful work!! From…

The Quest for Project-based Learning and Preservice Teachers

Originally written in 1998.
When a large group of preservice teachers from a private university walked in that summer morning, I have to admit, I was scared. As they trooped in, there was a look of seriousness and zeal on their young faces. Against this resolve, I knew that I couldn't rely on the camaraderie of veteran teachers sharing their experiences. So, as we began the introductions, one part of me handled the exchange of life experiences and names, while another part gnawed at the question,

"What kind of project can I help them develop that will allow them to construct a webquest as an example of project-based learning?"

Research (Cifuentes, 1996) with preservice teachers has found that:
Courses in educational technology should stress expansion of preservice teachers' methods beyond lecture and including:
(1) diversification of modeled teaching methods;
(2) student-centered, projects-based learning;
(3) meetings with master school teachers who described and demonstrat…