Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog #8 Reflection on Blogging

“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.”

- Frank Zappa

This is our last blogging assignment for this course.

I like blogging.

After this course is over, I’m going to continue blogging.

Blogs (short for Weblogs) are essentially websites used as journals. Not unlike throwing a message in a bottle in the middle of the ocean, blogging can be a cathartic exercise in narcissism for an audience that may not exist. But it has the potential to be so much more.

Our eight-blogging assignments have re-sparked my interest in writing. I’ve written in personal journals, created newsletters, and even blogged before but none of them have been like this blog. The platform this blog has given me is comfortable. I’m an educator – this self-learning journey in informal research and reflection suits me, especially if it may be useful to others.

The incredible part of blogging is reading and commenting on the blogs of others. Then it’s more like a community. And I have learned a lot from our blogging community. Which brings up the discussion on social media technologies.

We’ve concentrated on our blogs how emergent social media technologies can be used in education. Through that discussion I developed an interest in using personal learning networks for students to supplement their education, and professional learning networks for professional communities to improve communication and staff development.

Education in the 21st century is already radically different from when I was in school. The fix is obviously in that education will become even more radically different by the time my daughters leave school. Education and professional staff development will become more individualized and available beyond the normal school/work day. Hence the need for personal learning networks.

Researching from a student’s perspective is a good example. The availability of legitimate research resources online is beyond what was available even just a few years ago. Information overload is an apt description. Organizing that information is the current direction of social media technologies. Social bookmarking, feeds from Really Simple Syndications (RSS), and newer emergent technologies prevents information overload by organizing the sites and updates on just the information you want to one place - a personal learning network.

The aha moment came to me as I created a personal learning network to keep track of other blogs. It was like the difference between drinking from a water fountain and from a full blasting fire hydrant.

It’s been great. Like I said, I’m going to continue blogging. I hope you will too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog #7 Second Life

“You’ve got to be honest; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

- George Burns

Second Life, I’m just not feeling it. It’s disconcerting to not know whom I am talking to. And there’s this understanding that it isn’t wise to give out personal information. At least, not true information. I found more honesty in bars overseas as a sailor. Then I had enough acuity to warn my buddies that the bar was dark, they were drunk, I was sober, and she’s ugly.

Justin Appel (2006), assistant editor of eSchool News, reported that Second Life has been encouraging educators to explore their platform for its potential use in education.

Second Life is an online virtual world launched in 2003 by Linden Lab. Residents interact with each other through avatars and have the ability to create virtual objects – essentially build their own world.

Second Life is a great source of information. I enjoyed my visit to Health Info Island. Walking the Path of Support, I was inspired by the human capacity to love and be compassionate. There is a support group represented on that path for anyone in need. My visit to the Health Exhibit Hall, Consumer Health Library, and the SL Medical Library was informative.

However, I don’t see the potential in using Second Life for teaching other than as a resource center. I tried to make contact with an education group called SLED Buddies to discuss the possibilities, but couldn’t make the connection. I could use their help because everything that comes to mind can be done better with different applications on different platforms. And not being able to connect with them reinforces my perception that the controls in Second Life are counterintuitive.

There are schools and universities on Second Life. One group, Oakwood Academy, has 151 members. They are a private k-12 academy. Their goal is to provide the education and experience their students will need growing up. Perhaps, if I could have connected with them, I would have been convinced to a different viewpoint.

What’s your view? Leave a comment – I would like to know what you think?.


Appel, J. (2006 November 10). Second Life develops education following.

eSchool News. Retrieved from

Oakwood Academy. Second Retrieved (2009 August28) from

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reality of Multiple Intelligences

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."

- Albert Einstein

“I hear music again”, she said.

It was 1993. I knew she was feeling better. My wife had that look of silently humming to herself again. It was a slow recovery from the accident.

I’ve read articles about MI and Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner, but hadn’t formed an opinion yet. That was going to change.

My wife, Cyndi, was jogging on one of those beautiful days in San Diego. We normally jogged together (B.K., Before Kids), but I had to go to work. She accepted the self-challenge of a steep hill. And it ended with a dreadful thud and the crack of a fractured skull.

To this day, she doesn’t remember how she arrived to the hospital. Apparently she over exerted herself and fainted at the top of the hill. The x-rays showed a skull fracture that was almost in the shape of a question mark above her left ear. It also created some damage to the eardrum. Her full recovery was slow.

Cyndi has a dominant Musical Intelligence. She sings in choir, plays musical instruments with only public school training, and can hear when someone is off key. She has always been involved in music.

Back in high school she was in Marching Band. She sang in quartets. And always had some kind of music playing in her head.

It was a blessing when she heard the music come back. I didn’t understand at first. I don’t have music always playing in the back of my head. It’s more like a series of imagery running around back there. I thought it was the same for everyone.

The accident temporarily damaged a very important part of who she is. Logical/Mathematical is also a strong point (A in calculus), but it is the music that defines how she sees herself.

I look at schools now and see how the current teach to the standardized test environment is robbing our kids of a full and high quality education. Cyndi’s community involvement and contribution is usually centered on music. She transposes music, run sound systems and sings in a choir to mention a few. It began with the trumpet in the fourth grade. The current conventional wisdom, however, is hostile to anything that does not directly raise test scores. It’s tantamount to striking a blow to the head of every kid who does not fit the mold of learning that would raise test scores.

“I hear music again”, she said. That was so important to us I can cry.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blog #6 Communities of Practice

“There is, indeed, no wild beast more to be dreaded than a communicative man having nothing to communicate.”

- Jonathan Swift

Etienne Wenger (1998, ¶ 8) stated that a community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

· What it is about

· How it functions

· What capability it has produced.

There is a beautiful online social network meant to create a community of worshippers from a local church flying in cyber heaven unused. I know. I created it. What I did not do was sufficiently explained what it was about, how it was to function, and what could be produced from it. As a result there was little buy in and no staffer willing to run it.

As an educator I am running into the same sort of conversation with educators unwilling to use emergent technologies with students. They simply do not get it. I am learning that they are simply not fluent in the use of these technologies to apply it to teaching.

There are great resources available that will teach them. There are learning communities that are willing to support them.

Classroom 2.0 is a good example. It is an online social network created by educators interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education.

Edublogs is an environment that allows teachers to create and share blogs about education.

There are many more. Creating professional learning communities is not a new idea. The technologies to expand and explore upon that idea is what is new. And unfortunately, it is that newness that is prohibiting excellent teachers from joining in on the conversation about their use in the classroom.

I purpose that we pick up on the conversation to include the teachers that need that support. We should talk about it in the simplest of terms. And in the conversation explain what it is about, how it is to function, and what could be produced from it.


Wenger, E. (1998 June). Communities of practice learning as a social system.

Systems Thinker. Retrieved from

Blog #5 Social Media

"He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on.”

- Benjamin Franklin

In an earlier blog I talked about media literacy and mentioned social media literacy. Since that time, summer vacation ended and I rejoined my teaching community (a 4,000 student high school). And sure enough, I got involved in a discussion about media literacy and social media literacy – or lack thereof. I thought the conversation was educational and worthy enough to continue.

Media literacy and social media literacy are not the same. Media literacy is about due diligence in researching the creditability and agenda of presentations that are trying to convince you of a point of view or to some kind of action. Social media literacy begins with media literacy and then moves on to social interaction wisdom.

Media is the vehicle to get your message out. Social media is more about networking out to engage others in conversation with an idea. Social media is the vehicle to build communities. Social communities. Learning communities. Professional communities. And to be effective in these communities requires some social media wisdom.

For PEW/Internet, Alexandra Macgill (2007) reports that 93% of youth (ages 12-17) are online.

According to Amanda Lenhart (2009) there is also a growing majority of teenagers using online social networks. These teenagers have created online profiles and use them to send messages to their friends. Many of them do so daily.

While many of our states are not formally teaching in our schools to be media literate, even fewer are teaching students to be social media wise.

The conventional wisdom taught to us by our parents, ‘do not talk to strangers’, is difficult to apply here. There needs to be another approach. Fortunately, there are teachers willing to engage with students using social media technologies and teach their safe use. Better yet, they are willing to use the same technologies to share their methods with other teachers. Now that’s a conversation!

Sue Waters, for example, on The Edublogger asked her readers to share their guidelines for appropriate online student behavior. Fran Lo replied and shared the Online Discussion Agreement she uses in her class blog for online discussions. It is a blend of personal accountability, scholar integrity, good citizenship, and commonsense protection of privacy.

Media literacy and social media wisdom are important steps to teaching students to create their own personal learning networks and engaging them online in a learning community. The potential this brings to expanding education is worth continuing the conversation. Help me further this conversation on The Neos Network Project blog.

The Neos Network Project is based on one of my thesis ideas. I’m noticing that there are still not enough educators comfortable with emergent technologies in a collaborative culture to use them with students. It seems that they do not feel fluent enough in their use to apply the technologies in teaching. The purpose of the project is to encourage helpful and creative conversations in using emergent technologies to build learning communities that will guide these teachers into applying their use with students. Thank you in advance for your support.


Lenhart, A. (2009 April 10). Teens and social media: An overview.

Retrieved from

Macgill, A. (2007 October 24). Parent and Teenager Internet Use.

Retrieved from

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blog #4 21st Century Skills & Lifelong Learning

Education is not received. It is achieved.

- Anonymous

There is a movement to transform formal education into schooling that will teach students to be lifelong learners with 21st century skills. The movement is made up of innovative educators, organizations, and large corporations.

One organization is the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). Their advocacy is focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. This summer Illinois, Louisiana, and Nevada joined other states in membership with P21. This brings their membership to 13 states. Could this be the beginning of a new American revolution? Each state agreed to integrate into their standards and assessment 21st century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, global awareness and financial literacy.

Also bringing formal education into the 21st century is the advent of Web 2.0 technologies. These new technologies have transformed the Web into an open platform for creative social applications. Web 2.0 technologies has allowed us to re-examine education under different circumstances. New learning approaches are developing to take advantage of the break-through in technology.

Connectivism is one such new approach. It is a view developed from the integration of principles from chaos and other theories. My simple understanding of chaos theory is that everything is somehow related to everything else. It is the study of how one truly unpredictable random event is a part of a larger overall obvious pattern.

George Siemens, author of Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age describes learning as a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements not entirely under the control of the individual.

According to Siemens, “The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.”

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) is a manifestation of Connectivism. Essentially a PLN is a personalized collection of resources used to become an expert on a subject. In a world with Web 2.0 technologies, this collection can be a network of blogs, online news, social bookmarks, online learning communities and social networks, on a website with RSS feeders.

RSS feeders are real simple syndications that provide brief updates of favorite websites. Think of them as small personal Associated Press newsfeed.

Vicki Davis, teacher and blogger, in an article for edutopia described PLN as virtual lockers where students can drive their education with custom-made web pages equipped with RSS feeds. She believes that the ability to create a PLN is a fundamental information-management skill that will help her students succeed in the future.

The use of 21st century skills to become lifelong learners is not only useful for schools and businesses, but also ultimately most beneficial to us as individuals. Welcome to the movement to use 21st century skills as a lifelong learner.


Davis, V. (2009 January 07). Personal learning networks are virtual lockers for

school kids: Students drive their education with custom-made web pages equipped with RSS feeds. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Devaney, L. (2009 June 22). 21st-century skills movement grows: Three more states

join national effort to build 21st-century skills into the core curriculum; self-assessment tool coming soon. eSchoolnews. Retrieved from

Gleick, J., (1987). Chaos: The Making of a New Science. New York, NY, Penguin Books.

Siemens, G. (2004 December 12). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.

eLearnspace: Everything elearning. Retrieved from

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thesis Advisor

Here's one for my fellow grad students.

It's a beautiful day in the forest and a rabbit is sitting outside his burrow, typing away on his laptop.

Along comes a fox.

Fox: "What are you working on?"

Rabbit: "My thesis paper to graduate from University."

Fox: What is it about?"

Rabbit: "Oh, I'm writing about how rabbits eat foxes."

Fox: "That's ridiculous! Any fool knows that rabbits don't eat foxes!"

Rabbit: "Come with me and I'll show you!"

They both disappear into the rabbit's burrow. After a few minutes, gnawing on a fox bone, the rabbit returns to his laptop and resumes typing.

Soon a wolf comes along and stops to watch the hard working rabbit typing.

Wolf: "What's that you are writing?"

Rabbit: "I'm doing a thesis on how rabbits eats wolves."

Wolf: "You don't expect to get such garbage published, do you?"

Rabbit: "No problem. Do you want to see why?"

The rabbit and the wolf go into the burrow, and again the rabbit returns by himself. This time he is patting his stomach. He goes back to his typing.

Finally a bear comes along.

Bear: "What are you doing?"

Rabbit: "I'm doing a thesis on how rabbits eats bears."

Bear: "Well that's absurd!"

Rabbit: "Come into my home and I'll show you."

Inside the rabbit's burrow, the bear sees in one corner a pile of fox bones. In another corner is a pile of wolf bones. On the other side of the room a huge lion is belching and picking his teeth.

The moral of the story:

It doesn't matter what you choose for a thesis topic. It doesn't matter what you use for your data. It doesn't even matter if your topic makes sense. What matters is who you have for a thesis advisor.

- Anonymous

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blog #3 Media Literacy

On a bag of potato chips: You can be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.

- Anonymous

Kids are learning media literacy without much guidance. According to the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), media literacy is defined as knowing how to access, understand, analyze, evaluate, and create media messages on television, the Internet, and other outlets. Many of our states have not included the teaching of this literacy in their federally mandated content standards.

A report from The PEW Research Center indicates that most young adults use the Internet and television as their main source of national and international news. A quick informal survey of the news on television reveals a lot of commentating, shouting interviews, and special effects. Online news is not any better, plus there are blogs that make no pretense of being part of a news organization – it is not their purpose for existing.

For our students to be informed citizens they must know to apply at the very least the basic who, what, where, when, why, and how questions to the media messages that they are receiving. Students should approach media messages with the understanding that they are receiving a presentation with the agenda of convincing them to some kind of action.

I am currently working on a Health Care Reform Debate WebQuest. At this point it is still a work in progress. Health care reform is a national conversation that should be of great interest to everyone. The issue is complicated with far reaching implications that will affect all of our lives. The proponents of the many sides on this issue are trying to influence others into adopting the course of action that fits into their viewpoint.

How do we steer students through this maze of conflicting views? The first step is to teach them to be media literate. The second step is to not avoid the national discussion as too controversial to approach. And the third step is to allow students the freedom to determine the facts and formulate their own views.

It all reminds me of a story I heard recently. A priest, a doctor, and an engineer enjoy golfing. One day, although they were having a great game, a group of three men in front of them were taking forever and held up their game. When they got back to the clubhouse they decided to complain to the owner. “Oh, you mean the three blind firemen,” the owner interrupted. “They saved this clubhouse from burning down and can take as long as they want when they play.”

The priest smiled and said, “How remarkable, I’ll keep them in my prayers.” The doctor agreed and replied, “I’ve got a friend who’s an optometrist, and I’ll see what he can do for them.” The engineer looked at them and asked, “Well, why can’t they golf at night?”


Stansbury, M. (2007 August 01). Groups push for media-literacy education in

schools. eSchoolNews. Retrieved from

The PEW research center for the people and the press. (2008 December 23).

Internet overtakes newspapers as news outlet. Retrieved from

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blog #2 Learning 2.0

A child comes home from his first day at school. His mother asks, “Well, what did you learn today’?” The kid replies, “Not enough. They want me to come back tomorrow.”

- Anonymous

Learning 2.0!

Learning 2.0.

Learning 2.0?

Learning 2.0….

Ok, I don’t know what is Learning 2.0. But neither does anyone else it seems. I’m going to venture out and state that Learning 2.0 is different from Learning 1.0.

I suppose a place to start is to compare this 2.0 with other two oh’s. O’Reilly Media holds an annual Web 2.0 Summit to discuss the benefits and potential of this model. Its exact definition is a bit elusive and evolves as new technologies develop. Essentially, if Web 1.0 is about web pages that are static and simply presents information, then Web 2.0 was originally more about web pages being dynamic, interactive, and allows the creation of information.

From Web 2.0 came the concept of eLearning 2.0. Educators who ventured early onto the Web had the same limitations as other pioneers. Their websites could only present information. Then, with the devastation of the busts and invention of Web 2.0 technologies, new online business models were created. They were more social constructivist in nature than the busts. Educators were presented with a choice. They could bring the classroom environment online or create something different.

If recreating the classroom lecture online can be called eLearning 1.0, then eLearning 2.0 is about students discovering knowledge online with challenges and projects to solve problems.

What does that make Learning 2.0?

Conventional wisdom dictates that education is about raising state test scores. There is absolutely no better way to raise test scores than by direct instruction. More specifically, teaching to the test direct instruction. That is an axiom – not a value statement.

The National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) defines Direct Instruction as a model for teaching that emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks.

So, if education is about raising state test scores, then learning is about how well students perform on their state test. It’s about state standards, state tests, direct instruction, learning objectives, textbook alignments and district pacing guides. Instruction is about identifying a standard that is included in the test, writing a learning objective to that standard, creating an assessment for that objective, and then directly teaching students to pass that assessment.

This process is called Standards-based education. EdSource, whose mission is to clarify complex education issues, describes standards-based education as the organizing principle and driving force behind most federal, state, and local education policy in the United States today.

If standards-based education and test scores can be called Learning 1.0, then Learning 2.0 is about students collaboratively working to discover knowledge through challenges and projects to solve problems.


EdSource. Standards-based education. Retrieved August 8, 2009, from

National Institute for Direct Instruction. What is direct instruction (di)?

Retrieved August 8, 2009, from

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blog #1 Web 2.0

A wise schoolteacher sends this note to all parents on the first day of school: "If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I'll promise not to believe everything they say happens at home!”


Very soon the wise schoolteacher, thanks to Web 2.0 technologies, may be posting this note on the class’ online interactive platform - or perhaps not. There may be more pressing issues to consider.

The concept of what is Web 2.0 has been closely associated with O’Reilly Media. It eludes a definition, but is often described along the lines of technologies that are not limited to a single device or platform, provides a free service, allow users to create and share, and harnesses collective intelligence.

Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, has studied the social cultural aspect of Web 2.0 technologies. In a YouTube video, Wesch (2007) states that Web 2.0 is linking people. People are communicating, sharing, and collaborating in new ways online not envisioned just a decade ago. With these technologies, however, as unintended consequences, we may have to rethink a few things – like privacy.

Web 2.0 not only allows us to broadcast ourselves to the world, but also invites the world in return to comment, link, share, and form global communities. For example, whereas we were once limited to writing to our local communities with newsletters, we can now email, Blog, Tweet, and post on our online profile for a global interactive audience.

Even email, which was once vaunted as the modern version of letter writing, is now considered the new snail mail with limited features. It may soon be replaced with Google Wave. Google Wave has been described (Devaney, 2009) as a new online collaborative tool that combines email, instant messaging, and file sharing like wikis and photo sharing in a dynamic environment.

The ability to take a snapshot photo of the most interesting moments and upload it to the web to share with the world is now only a cell phone away. Individuals can now pontificate on any subject and gain a worldwide following. Groups can synchronously collaborate on projects despite being in different time zones. And long-time friends who have lost contact can find each other with a name search in the right online social network.

These are exciting developments with interesting possibilities in many fields, including education. The downside is that we may not take the time to reflect before instantly uploading, posting, and publishing online to the world. Worse yet, an abuser may not respect a moment of privacy. A mistake here can be far worse than baby photos shown at a wedding reception. Mature use and acceptance of these technologies still need to develop as their use grows.

Until then, schoolteachers may have to consider a different note: “If you promise not to post everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to post everything they say happens at home!”


Devaney, L. (2009, June 08). Google Wave has great potential for education.

eSchoolNews. Retrieved from

mwesch. (2007, March 08). The machine is us/ing us (final version). [video file].

Video posted