Thursday, July 31, 2008

People to Watch

One blog to watch is ¡VĂ¡monos! by Lisa Stevens, a Spanish teacher in the U.K. She has a lot of Spanish on it. Since I no very little Spanish....well you have to judge it for yourself.
Another rising star is Nebraska Change Agent by Beth Stills. Beth is growing her PLE and wants to be an agent of change.
Yet another is PargoNet by Tracy Weeks. She is transforming from an online lurker into an online conversant.
I urge you to check out these rising stars, read their words, and leave comments.
Don't forget the Margaret Mead quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world." Be that change.

Photo courtesy of Bruno Peck taken on May 5, 2008 available at and covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Be in the 'in-group' on Twitter! Twitter is not about always answering the question, "What are you doing?" Sometimes that is great. But Twitter is really about the conversation.

To respond to others use the @ symbol. For example you might say

@pharris I agree with the idea of progressive education in that article you referenced.

In your profile make sure you list a blog or place where people can learn more about you. When I get a list of people to approve, I look at each person, their Twitter page, with whom they are conversing, and their blog page. If they have no updates and are following 12,000 people, they are probably selling something. If they have 500 updates but aren't using the @ symbol to converse with anyone, they're probably misusing Twitter.

Be sure to include enough information in your reply to let the recipient know to what you are referring. On word replies like "no" give no information to the context of the conversation. Most of us are conversing with several people while doing several other things at the same time. It may even be several hours until we check our replies, depending on the demands of real life.

Follow people outside of your country of origin. Widen your horizons. Follow people within your line of work from around the globe. Twitter is a global platform. Exploit it as such.

If someone ask for a resource and you know of one, reply. If someone asks a question, and you can answer, then take a moment to do so. Twitter is a participatory network, not passive entertainment. Twitter, or any social networking tool, is NOT your RSS feed. Unless the post is part of the conversation, do not announce it on Twitter.

If you can add more Twitter tips or refute any of mine, please leave a comment below.

Photo courtesy of emilychang. The original is available at and covered under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Network Challenge #2

Why not a Twitterchallenge, you ask? This challenge is extended to the entire social network and to those who are online (which one must be to read about the challenge) but not in any particular social network.

I challenge you to navigate to two blogs to which you have never been, read their thoughts, reflect on their posts, & then leave an intelligent comment which you should use the word 'networkchallenge' in one word within your comment.  Once you have met the challenge, tell the network about it! Either respond on the web at
use your cell phone to answer:
Did you do the network challenge? Leave a link to the two blogs you on which you commented.
Text SAYTO 7075 and your message to 41411
Photo courtesy of luc legay available at and covered under an Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thought provoking videos ...

Private or Public?

Solidity of Process or Solidity of Content?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Invoking Creativity

In my undergraduate studies, like many others I am sure, I learned about Abraham Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. This was related to education by my professors. They all assured me that students had to go up the four levels before they could be creative.
Abraham Maslow, as I understand, studied 'healthy' people and not 'unhealthy' people. In his 1954 book, he says, "...the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."
However groundbreaking that research was at that time, it does not take into account many creative people. Consider for example of Stephen Hawking, who suffers from a degenerative disease, is confined to a wheelchair, and uses a voice synthesizer. By Maslow's criteria, he would not qualify. He is only one example.
The wonders of assistive technology are enabling growing numbers of people with challenges to enter academia, the arts, gainful employment, & the culture at large.
Take me for example. While far from any genius level and much closer to the moron level, I would not be considered by Maslow as healthy. How many of us would?
So right now, there are vast numbers of people who are still at the first level of Maslow's Hierarchy. Their hope of progressing up to self-actualization, where creativity is possible, is about zero. Are we therefore dismissing these people because of the situations into which they are born?
Perhaps a more relevant question to me, working in k12, is how to foster creativity in all learners at my school. I also wonder, did Maslow only study Caucasian's? I'm sure someone reading this will know...

Reference: Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SL Relay for Life 2008

This past weekend I went into Second Life to the Relay for Life. This is an event that benefits the American Cancer Society. In RL, I help with the concession stand at the Franklin Unit's Relay for Life in Scotland, PA. This event in RL takes place yearly on the track of Scotland School for Veterans' Children. Three previous employees of the school and one present employee helped with this year's concession stand. I mostly stood around and smiled.

In SL, the Luminaria Ceremony, where lit luminaries line the track and those dedicated names are read aloud while walkers maintain silence for an hour, was especially beautiful. I bought a lot of luminaries, dedicating them to people I know.
One participant just let me know the total raised was not $195,000US Dollars. The total raised was $200,011USD. That was in a virtual world!
So if you're doubting the power of Web2.0 tools, their ability to augment global collaboration, and the intensity of participants' commitment, consider again.

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Photo is taken of me in SL attending closing ceremony at SL Relay for Life.

Microblogging is not RSS

Microblogging tools are distinct from RSS Reader tools. They are all great tools. They are distinct from backchanneling tools. Recently, Will expressed his views about the misuse of Twitter.

Misuse of Twitter is like sandpaper, it just rubs the wrong way-ouch! We have several excellent tools in our web2.0 toolbox. Each one has a distinct use. I once heard a famous chef say to use the correct tool for the job. He of course was referring to cooking utensils.
I continue to be rather irritated at the misuse of Twitter. Each tool is not meant to be used for other purposes. Please stop misusing the tools in your toolbox!

Photo courtesy of ario_j, available at,
covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poll July 5 Update

I should check Plurk more often-there are 9 additional responses there to my question:
Is the overall intent of the edublogosphere to disseminate or hang on tightly to intellectual content? Do you care?

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Deep Web

The deep web and the surface web are best compared as a picture of swimming skills. When learning to swim, we hang out in the baby pool. Then we move to the big people pool, but we stay in the shallow end. When we have proven our swimming schools, we are allowed to swim in the deep end. I like to ask middle schoolers if they are old enough to swim in the deep end. They all assure me that they are! So they are old enough to use the deep web, leaving the shallow end for introductory answers.
The deep web is simply databases. The surface web consists of the search engines with which we are all familiar. These include Yahoo, Google, and AskJeeves. They compare with the difference between horizontal and vertical learning. Horizontal learning is popular in many k20 classrooms today. Vertical learning focuses on narrowly on one topic. Such content is mirrored in a pedagogical shift about which many people are talking recently.  I refer to connectionism, constructivism, and cognitivism. These are better known has the ideas of George Siemens, Seymour Papert,  and Albert Bandura.
To access the deep web resources, simply go to databases. Where? There are databases accessible through your local library, just navigate to their web site. In most cases you will need to have your library card with you and enter your library number in order to view the databases. You will find EBSCO, ERIC, Facts on File, an encyclopedia, and Searchasaurus. At our school I have listed in addition to the local library resources (we have residents from 3 states) Infomine, Academic Info, Digital Librarian, Intute, and the Library of Congress.
I encourage you to dive into the deep end today. I feel sure you are old enough to swim in the deep end now!
Photo courtesy of brandle barker, uploaded on September 21, 2007, covered under a Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license, and available at

Catch A Wave...

This morning, I enjoyed a presentation by Darren Kuropatwa and Clarence Fisher at BLC08 entitled Everything New is Old Again or Living and Teaching in Accelerating Times which was an excellent session by two very talented young men. There was even an activity for taking a picture, emailing to a given address, and having it posted online in a flickr group. I don't own a fancy camera phone, so I located a photo, downloaded it, and emailed it as an attachment. I'm sure there are easier ways, I just need more coffee. My picture is the one of Bob Sprankle in his chair. Run your cursor over the pic to see what I wrote in the email subject line - this is the flickr group.
When that group ended, they said the keynote was next, so I started asking on twitter. I finally sent a great BLC08 streamer a twitter and she replied:
Lisa Thumann lthumann @durff I'm laughing we haven't left the last session yet - you've been to more sessions here than me :)

While it certainly isn't true that I have attended more sessions than Lisa, I have been surfing streams this week. Surfing streams of learning is one way to learning2.0, although not the only way . This week I have attended sessions at three conferences in three states. Where else but on the surf of learning could one attend BLC08, DEN LC Institute, & NJELITE. In Wildwood, the keynote given by David Pogue was streamed by Kevin Jarrett. At the DEN, I heard Steve Dembo's keynote, & at BLC I was in many sessions with the most information at this ning.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lurking the web2.0 way

Some people in the ustreams flowing out of the f2f conferences this week have asked how do I find these streams. Really it is no great secret. I just ask, rather insistently and loudly. I am using Summize,, twitscoop, and twhirl. Anyone can use these tools to find live streams. This week there have been too many conferences and all streaming. I am not getting any work done.

But think I'm a lurker? You need to hang around justinreeve a bit. He is literally everywhere at once-enough to make me dizzy. I'm gonna need a vacation from this vacation!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Heading towards Pedagogy

Today I had the pleasure of learning with my online network in several streams - Laptop Institute, Dave Cormier's class of adult learners in Canada, and EduBloggerCon East. One participant in the chatroom at EBC East said, "I'm glad to see more of these conversations about connections between the tools/strategies and pedagogy -- definitely the direction we need to be heading with our conversations..." (SSandifer, 2008) The morning presentation to which we were listening was by Richard Kassissieh and after lunch we heard about ways to disseminate tools through Professional Development.
It is so important that we spread the message of how collaborations can more easily occur through the connections formed via these online tools. We must disseminate the message beyond the echo chamber.
To whom will you reach out today?

Photo is from the ustream entitled edubloggercon unconference at
July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fueling the War

I urge all of you to read how China is fueling the war in Darfur. This is an excellent reason to boycott all media coverage of the summer games. I urge all of you to not tune in on your TVs, radios, or computers. I urge you to buy no newspapers or magazines that speak of the games (obviously it would have to be on the front cover where you could see it before you purchase). Let your voice be heard in the pocketbooks of America.

Photo courtesy of James Calder taken on April 30, 2006 and available at It is covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How is That Assessed?

Revisiting the SIGTE Forum at NECC via a video posted on the NECC2008 Ning by Peggy George, I had the pleasure of hearing Tom Chapin's original song again.

Listen and repost to your blog. Spread it around, who knows, maybe those representatives, paid with public funds, will catch on?

Draw a Circle That Draws Them In

Last night and this morning, I issued a TwitterChallenge, largely ignored by those outside the USA thus far. I wonder if we really want to draw an ever enlarging circle that will encompass those outside the echo chamber. Or are we so comfortable in our own patterns of behavior and in our own circle of like-minded friends that we are content to shut people out of our own echo chamber? While giving mere lip-service to a popular idea, we neatly brush it under the table where no-one will notice. Is that who we really are?

Durff Durff Twitter Challenge 4 Saturday:Go to a blog 2which u have never been & read/reflect & leave an intelligent comment-tag=twitterchallenge
Durff Durff this page will aggregate the challengers http://durffscollectionofst...

I received one reply to the above challenge with no action. Only one person did the challenge, and sadly that was me. Can you fill the RSS on this wiki page with your tagged actions?

Just in case, coolcatteacher has a wonderful diagram about tagging in How to Comment like a King (or Queen).
Or just type at the end of your comment her diagram below, replacing the address with and the title with twitterchallenge.

Photo courtesy of "0 W8ing", uploaded on November 12, 2005, available at and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Places I Will Go!

Today I followed a twitter from digitalmaverick to the MirandaNet unconference at the University of London in the U.K. He and some friends were broadcasting in Mogulus,for which I do not see archives, unlike ustream. This limits the usefulness of the technology.
I wasn't there long enough to do more than hear about cellphone restrictions in schools and order food (one track mind). But think about how the technology is allowing closer & faster communications between the connections that exist between colleagues. These lead to collaborations between connections that are far flung. Just like I could join many NECC sessions in another U.S. location, I can join other conferences on the other side of the pond or the other side of the globe.
If I can accomplish such feats, literally anyone can. Students can be included in all sorts of educational ventures.
This is the point of global projects like the Horizon Project. Are you connecting your students with global partners?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sharing is the threat

Mark Pesce, an expert in social media, in his presentation to the Personal Democracy Forum 2008 said, Sharing is the threat. This of course raises the question of threat to whom? Pesce was relating a story of a conversation. But isn't it the industrial mindset to whom sharing is a threat? Isn't it interesting who we see react to sharing knowledge in this way? By knowledge I don't just mean words, but all intellectual and artistic concepts including, as in Pesce's story, photographs.
Sharing is the threat. That must mean that those who do the sharing are therefore threatening as well. Most of those who participate in online sharing platforms share freely. Therefore they must all be threatening.
The question then is to whom are all these people threatening? The status quo, the present economy, the institution of education are all threatened by sharing. We dare not share our reputation, our goods, or our knowledge, especially not for free.
But as Pesce reminds us, the sharing of the hyperconnected world cannot be constrained not by all the kings horses or all the kings men.

References: Pesce, M. (2008). Hyperpolitics: What Happens When We Are All Connected. Personal Democracy Forum 2008. New York City. His blog, the human network is at

Saturday, July 5, 2008


On Fri & Sat I asked Plurkers, Powncers, & Tweeters a question:

    Poll: Is the overall intent of the edublogosphere to disseminate or to hang on tightly to intellectual content? Do you care?

I received these responses:

  • the former, and I yes I do care.
  • The intent often appears to be 'preaching to the choir'. Lots sharing between the "haves", but little recruitment of "have nots"
  • Absolutely to disseminate and share. If not, how can we model life long learning habits to our students. We are smarter together!!
  • Not sure about the edublogosphere; my intent is to use social tools to reach students, it's always about the kids
  • I think the intent varies by person. For me, it's sharing what I'm doing & also to learn from others.
  • It's also a place where I can touch base with people with similar interests. I don't have as many at my school or district.
  • i hope it is to disseminate because I think it is very important that we connect and collaborate
  • I hope it's to disseminate! I want to learn AND share
  • I believe it is in its earliest stages of "true" dissemination. Knowledge is meant to be shared among the masses.
  • content is no longer important. As Michael Wesch says, not knowledgeable but knowledge-able. Do I care? I care that we are moving forward.
  • i definitely care and appreciate the intellectual content that everyone shares via blog, microblogs, podcasts, streaming videos, etc.
  • i couldn't grow and help others grow and develop professionally without the resources that have been shared via blogs and microblogs
  • that the overall intent of a large group of different-minded people with some common interests is always a challenging concept to nail down.
  • However, those in the edublogosphere strike me as people that share easily. Few have "created" the new knowledge they present.
  • Teachers have always been willing to share their ideas and the blogosphere has finally given us a chance to do it to a global audience.
  • I care. It actually does both - being a place where information is made available and then adopted or rejected.
  • I care and fellow plurkers have stated their views so well, I appreciate the edblosphere for disseminating information
  • the edublogsphere is for sharing and disseminating. Unfortunately not all teachers are comfortable with this yet - we're working on it
  • Teachers by nature are a sharing group. I'm grateful to all who so willingly share through blogs, podcasts, etc.
  • some classroom teachers not so into sharing, tech loving teachers by nature are lifelong learners and big on sharing
  • I care, and I think the intent should be to disseminate more than it should be to hang onto content.
  • and I think that if a teacher isn't into sharing, they are not into authentic learning and maybe they are on the wrong career path.
  • Sharing is important - I think that is my goal. I hope to receive info but also hope to give some away.
  • we should share and help without giving a thought for how it benefits ourselves, that is until you are struggling to put food on the table
  • those who wish to hang on to intellectual content shouldn't complain about those who are lagging behind.

As one plurker noticed, this poll was poised three times. These were the answers (I think I got everyone!). I had hoped to elicit discussion from those who frequently keynote and/or lead sessions at major conferences. They remain silent.
Photo courtesy of Possession Expression uploaded to flickr on March 6, 2006 under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license and available at

Friday, July 4, 2008

Who Do You Want to be?

According to research there are three types of teachers: expert, experienced, and novice. They each focus on different aspects of classroom culture.

Expert teachers are more effective scanners of classroom behaviour, make greater reference to the language of instruction and learning of students, whereas experienced teachers concentrate more on what the teacher is saying and doing to the class and novices concentrate more on student behaviour. (Hattie, 2003).

Seems like this is exactly what everyone has been saying which is corroborated by reseach. To be an expert teacher I must focus on the learning and not on what is taught. Or put another way, I am no longer the sage on the stage but the guide on the side. Whichever way one says it, I need to think about more about the growth of learners in my classrooms and less about my delivery. What is your opinion?

Photo courtesy of monkeyjunkie entitled Turquoise Tunnel Silhouette, taken on April 11, 2006, available at and
shared under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Reference: Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Interpretations, 36(2), 27-38, Retrieved November 23, 2007 from

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Social Capital

Listening to Ian Williamson, Associate Professor of Human Resource Development at the Melbourne Business School on their Leadercast series, I was compelled to write this. Social capital is the possibility of exchange that exists between connections within social networks. Anyone else see how this relates to education?
We are shifting from industrial age economy to a knowledge age economy. He says developing third world countries like China and India have growing populations. However many of their growing populations are unemployable in the new knowledge economies because they lack the prerequisite skills needed to enter the new knowledge economy successfully.
Anyone who has seen Two Million Minutes in its entirety will know that our nation's schools are contrasted in that movie with those in China and India. The theme of that movie is that Chinese schools and Indian schools are educating for the new knowledge economy and doing a better job of it.
How could this two situations occur simultaneously? I think the obvious answer lies in who attends schools in all three nations. Even in our own nation homeless, destitute, and migrant children often do not attend school regularly.
The shortages of prepared employees projected by 2010 predict major economic difficulties. There is also high turnover and mobility in all three countries. How should we all prepare ourselves? Professor Williamson's ideas on social capital are applicable to education.
I encourage you to view both the movie and listen to the podcast and synthesize your own ideas.

Photo courtesy of yewenyi taken October 16, 2006 in Busan, Busan available at shared with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 license.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Catch the NECC fever....

This is the Animoto David Warlick showed on Monday during a spotlight presentation at NECC2008.

Animoto coutesy of David Warlick at NECC2008 available at
Photos in the Animoto by: Verne Becker, AC Thompson, Scott McLeod, LJMoo, Scott S. Floyd, Ddraig-Goch, applem123, Dean Shareski, Fan of Biber, Joyce Valenza, Nedra, Lucy Gray, Mark Pennington, Derrall Garrison, Ewan McIntosh, David Warlick