Showing posts from February, 2011

Technology in Irving ISD - A Podcast

Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Carolyn Crawford (both pictured above) interviewed Sam Farsaii (Irving ISD) about Technology in Irving ISD. The interview is particularly poignant given the budget troubles Texas districts, especially Irving ISD, are suffering.

Listen to Sam Farsaii Technology in the Irving Independent School District (2/10/2011) Co-hosts Richard A. Smith and Caroline M. Crawford speak with Sam Farsaii, Director of Instructional Technology at Irving Independent School District, located in Irving, Texas regarding the success of Irving ISD teachers in applying technology to instruction in innovative and effective ways. Sam Farsaii, (a master's degree graduate of UHCL's Instructional Technology Program) provides a lucid and compelling description of what makes Irving ISD's technology program, an award winning program, and what makes the district a state leader in education. This podcast was recorded on-site at the 2011 annual conference of the Texas Computer Education …

Organizing a State-wide Wiki and #Moodle @wikispaces

Earlier this month, a colleague approached me and asked, "Miguel, I just got a grant. Since we're geographically scattered, how can I bring us all together to share our 'glows and grows'?" Resulting conversation revealed that my colleague saw this grant project as an opportunity to add wikis and Moodle forums to her repertoire. So, working with her, I mapped out the use of a wiki to organize her site, as well as discussed the use of Moodle to host forums.

Although we'd started out using a wiki paid for out of one organization, funding cuts threatened our long-term (3 years) control of the wiki. As a result, I migrated content to a Wikispaces.comwiki due to theirannouncement to keep Wikispaces ad-free, no-cost for educators.  This was important since this isn't, specifically, focused on any one organization...and took about 24 hours to approve the request for the free Plus Wikispace. (Thanks @wikispaces!).

For the Moodle portion--when conside…

The Best Free Wiki - Now MORE Available for Higher Ed and K-12 @wikispaces #edchat

Last week, as the tough budget news was settling in among my colleagues, one of them asked me, "Miguel, what wiki solution could we use that would allow us to keep control over our content?" Without hesitation, I suggested "Hands-down," I told her, "not only do you get a $50 value at no-cost, ad-free, it's the easiest, and you'll be up and running in no time. They've given away over 980,000 wikis to educators already!" If you’re using your wiki exclusively for K-12 education, find out how to upgrade your wiki and get lots of other great information at you’re using your wiki exclusively for Higher Education, find out how to upgrade your wiki and get lots of other great information at
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with a variety of wiki solutions, from hosted ones to standalones. I still remember my shock when Adam…


Exciting announcement...will it live up to the hype?The Internet Archive, in conjunction with 150 libraries, has rolled out a new 80,000 e-book lending collection today on This means that library patrons with an OpenLibrary account can check out any of these e-books.
The hope is that this effort will help libraries make the move to digital book lending. "As readers go digital, so are our libraries," says Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. (via ReadWriteWeb)So, the question for me is, what do you do next? Well, after creating an account, I decided to do a search on Scott Sigler's name. He's a Sci-Fi writer who not only posts some his work online for free, but also makes serial podcasts you can sign up to listen to. I was introduced to his work after encountering that work, and always look for his stuff online.
Here are the results of my search:
Notice those two books on the list? Well worth the investment! When I fir…

Updated Audio Book List

Thanks to an email today, I recalled I had a list of free audio books available somewhere in the blog. You can find it online here.
I hope you find it useful!

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MyNotes - Layoffs begin at Texas Education Agency

Although I've written about the Texas Education Agency many a time, I am shocked at the job losses they are suffering. The majority of TEA staffers I've worked with have ALWAYS been underpaid, highly committed to doing an  excellent job of providing service to school districts and the kids served. 
I mourn the loss of jobs, livelihood, and suffer with you as you lose what you have because politicians failed to plan ahead. On a positive, you no longer need suffer in enforced silence. I hope you vote and send a strong message back to state legislators.

Layoffs begin at Texas Education Agency | Postcards
Layoffs begin at Texas Education Agency By Andrew Kaspar | Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 01:33 PM mood as "very somber" Texas Education Agency where the bulk of 1,054 TEA employees work. By Wednesday, that number will be fewer as the first agency layoffs were issued today. Debbie Ratcliffe, the agency's spokeswoman, declined to give specifics on the…

@SugarSync Reflections

Now that I've been using SugarSync for a few days, I have some reflections to share. Nothing earth-shattering but....
The File Manager just gets in the way. On UbuntuLinux, it doesn't work. On Windows and Mac, I don't want to run a program to access my files, I just want to get to them. Yes, a la Dropbox.Magic Briefcase doesn't work all that great. There's all these arcane things you have to do to get access to SugarSync folder controls to unlink them or whatever.Advice? Simplify your user interface, SugarSync. You've got a nice thing going but all the file manager garbage just gets in the way of my productivity...and that's bad.
What do I like? Lots of space available, especially when friends sign up.Your monthly packages are competitiveI love the passworded folders access via the Web. Nice touch.Android works just fine, although I wish I could delete files from there.Nice bird icon.
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Advertising Bug Strikes - Exploring a Blog Platform @wfryer

Although I just launched advertising on Around the Corner--which has made zero dollars, BTW--I still feel Wes Fryer's pain (Why I Upgraded My Edublogs Account) when he shares the following about the Edublogs platform:
Maybe this is something that EduBlogs has been doing for awhile on their free accounts, I'm not sure. I was prepared to put up with banner ads on a free account, but I absolutely couldn't stand to have words hyperlinked on my students' posts by the advertising scheme EduBlogs is running. Teaching my students to intentionally and judiciously hyperlink is one of the important skills I hope to help them develop this term. Having auto-inserted advertising links on their words struck me tonight as an affront. I know some of the readers of my blog are EduBlog fans, and I'm very appreciative of all the advocacy work EduBlogs does for the cause of educational blogging. I'm glad they're finding a way to monetize their business model. I really object to …

Dealing with Poor Performance

A colleague--no one I work with, so no speculation on that point--in another school district shared the following scenario with me:A workshop facilitator just isn't measuring up, even though he's come a long way and has been coached/mentored to improve. I'm considering "firing" him but I'm just not sure how to approach it. What would you do?Before I offer advice, I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on these two approaches below, and maybe share what you think? Are these approaches totally wrong?
Most folks are conscientious and committed to doing a quality job in an area they feel strong about. I'd review the evaluations with your facilitator and ask him for his take on them. Share frankly that continued poor performance may suggest that 1) In spite of his commitment to the job, he may not be connecting well with participants and/or 2) He needs to reflect on how he's facilitating sessions and see what he needs to improve on. Share your …