Showing posts from November, 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: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).
93% use the Internet, 61% go online daily, and 51% create content that others can view online (Lenhart et al. 2007).
Eleven million students under the age of 18 use MySpace (Owyang 2008).
The site myYearbook, a social networking site created specifically for 12- to 17-year-olds, boasts 7 million members (Loten 2008). In shor…

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 forw…

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 …

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?
It allows them access to "erroneous" ideas they may try to correct.It presents them with the opportunity to explore their thinking on an issue that they otherwise might have missed entirely.It gives others who might not have said anythi…

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 …

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 …

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 InformationEver been called into your supervisor's office for something you wrote? Ever wondered if you were going to get fired for something you wrote and published in a print magazine?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 …

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 in…

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…

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 co…

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!


Use WinFF to Convert MP3 files (or strip the audio out of video files) to OGG formatQuintessential Player - allows for easy conversion of audio …

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?


TrueCrypt - allows me to keep my data secure no matter whether it's on the hard drive or USB flash drive.Tweetdeck - easily manage tweets, etc. using this.MPEG Streamclip - easily convert video on a Mac, something that was missing when Visual Hub disappeared.The UnArchiver - allows me to easily handle zillions of compressed files, no matter what the format.TextWrangler - great, easy to use text word processor.Skitch - just incredibly awesome tool to annotate images, etc. I use it every day for everything.Jing Pro - Best $15 I've spent on an application for video screen captures. Wow, like Skitch, I use it every day.Windows PSPad - great text/php file editor. One of my first installs on any Windows computer I touch.Filezilla FTP - FTP program that I use on both Windows and Mac, but it's es…

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…

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 tha…

Converting Videos on Various Operating Systems

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 imp…

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.”

DiigoNotes - Meddler in the Middle

Unlearning How to Teach

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 mor…