Sunday, March 16, 2008

What was I thinking?

I know it's weird. I can't really explain the reason, but after posting my first blog post in 2 years I decided to switch blog hosts. I know it would have made more sense to switch and THEN post, but that's not what happened. I'm still recovering from a nasty flu, so I'll blame that for my flawed actions.

Thanks to those who posted comments and added me to their RSS. I hope you will join me at my new blog home:

Sorry for any inconvenience. I promise to get my act together! :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I think I finally 'get it' (revisited)

I have often felt that blogging is something I 'should' be doing. Everyone in the edtech community has a link to their blog. That is not why I am back.

Below is a post originally published March 4, 2006 on a former blog of mine. I felt it was a good post to recommit myself to blogging. When I reread this post today, I was intrigued by my thoughts on blogging and wondering why I had stayed away so long. I was also amazed at how much has changed for me and in tech in general since this was originally posted 2 years ago. I have greatly expanded my learning network through Twitter, Nings, and other Web 2.0 tools. I have a new job that I love. The tools of 'then' pale in comparison to what we are using today. I was also struck by a previous post of mine on open source software; boy have I come around on that one! There are also some drafts of post I never published. These might give me a boost as I begin (again) this journey.

So why am I back?
In rereading my posts of years past, I realized that my writing doesn't stink and that maybe I really do have something to contribute. I receive so much from my learning network, maybe this is a way I can give back. I have re-entered the blogosphere.

Originally posted on Jetech Ramblings Blog, March 4, 2006:

"If you read my first posting, those many months ago, I wonder what all the fuss is about reading other people's blogs. Are others really that voyeuristic? Do people really want to know that much about the mundane lives of their fellow man/woman? This notion of mine came from a naive view of the nature of blogs and blogging. After some reading, attending some workshops, and reading some blogs, I finally see the importance and addiction of blog reading. Blogging, I have come to understand, is more than merely a public journal or diary of one's life. While that certainly
can be the case as my attempts at blogging have shown, to limit it to that one purpose is really selling it short. Blogging is a way to connect your ideas/knowledge/area of expertise with the world. While some ideas may not be of interest or may directly conflict with my own, the ideas are there for those who do find them of interest. Currently, I subscribe to 11 blogs (many more than that now!) that I read daily. Most fall into the educational technology genre since that not only is a personal interest, it is also my job. On a daily basis I am connected to the thoughts of some of the preeminent thinkers (and luckily bloggers) on the subject. I also read the blogs of some "average Joes" like myself who share my interest in ed. tech. Some of these people are accessible other ways as conference speakers, book authors, or through web sites that bear their names. However, without blogs, I would never know about the PowerPoint projects of a 7th grade class in Massachusetts. While this many not hold mass appeal, it gave me a great idea for a project of my own. Blogs are a way of creating personalized learning communities; no matter what your interest. The world really is flat. While I have become a blog junkie, I am still wondering if there is anything I have to say that is of interest to others. What do I want to contribute to this blogging community that is giving me so much?"

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Blog" Days of Summer

As I read through the feeds on my Bloglines account this morning, I came away a bit disappointed. This had nothing to do with the quality of the articles I read, the one from School Me! was thought-provoking, but I began to wonder -- Where is everybody?

I subscribe to 50 blogs, mostly education and technology-based, and quite frankly it is a good thing that they don't all have new content at once, but I discovered more than 1/2 of my blogs have not been updated for a month or more. While publishing a blog does not commit a person to daily discourse, I am left to consider why this has happened.

Perhaps it is summer vacation, and not everyone has the resources to appoint a guest blogger to fill in during their absence. Maybe some blogger-educators are too busy getting things ready for the start of the school year; although that sounds like perfect blog material to me. I know that some bloggers describe needing a break from blogging ~ read writer's block? Are others more of a "school year blogger", meaning their need to blog is fueled by what is happening during the school year? Or has this beastly heat made it simply too hot to blog?

For me, summer is the perfect time to catch up on my reading, blogging, update my website, etc. There's nothing like curling up in the air conditioning with a warm laptop on your bare legs.

Clearly bloggers don't need to answer to me why they haven't been writing. I just wanted you all to know that you are missed and I'll be here when you get back.

photo credit:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bad Press for Prof = $126

USA Today article from 8/04/06

Professor wins suit against blog site

A professor in China won $126 from a blog hosting site that refused to remove critical remarks posted by a former student about him. While the amount of the settlement is inconsequential, the implication is not.

The blog host site stated it had no right to remove the comments from the blog, but has decided to delete comments deemed offensive in the future.

The article also mentions that China has an Internet "police force", but it does not elaborate on what they do or how much power they hold.

This all leaves me wondering what the implications will be here in the US. Does a blog hosting site have the right to delete or censor the remarks of its bloggers? Would this kind of accountability change the way teenagers and 20-somethings post to myspace?

Would this ruling have gone the same way in this country? My suspicion is we won't have to wait long to get the answer.


cartoon credit:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wanted: blog proofreaders

This summer, not a day has gone by that I haven't found a typo or mistake in a blog or on a web page? Most of the blogs I read are written by educators and highly educated people, which seems to make this phenomenon more egregious. Is it that in their rush to publish they neglect to proofread what is being posted? Do blogging sites need to offer a better "spell check" ?

Now, I'm not talking about complex independent clause rules or misuses of a semi-colon, I'm talking about typing "at" for "it" or "its" for "it's", or leaving out entire words. These are mistakes that would drop a student's English 101 grade!

As a teacher who has taught the writing process to hundreds of students, I understand the need to get one's ideas down. But rereading what one has written is ALSO part of the writing process and takes but a minute. This would eliminate many of the typos out there. I realize that proofreading one's own work is hard and we will often read what we "think we said" rather that what is right in front of us, but come on people.

Just out of curiosity, I have looked back at some blog posts to see if authors have gone back and changed mistakes in their posts; I know I do this if I find a mistake. Sadly, none were corrected.

I would like to put out a call to all bloggers and webmasters to proofread before hitting the publish button. And use the "spell check" feature! Mistakes in spelling and forgotten words may alter your meaning or negatively effect the way your post is received.

FYI: Before pressing "publish," I have corrected more than 10 errors in this post.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

21st Century Librarians

Here are some key ideas from the EdTech Talk podcast with Joyce Valenza as synthesized by jschinker in his Taste of Tech blog:
  • Audio books can actually motivate students to do more reading.
  • There’s no “best” search tool.
  • Students need media resources 24/7.
  • Students need challenging projects that ask them to analyze, compare, synthesize, and draw conclusions.
  • TurnItIn and citation generators can be used to teach students how to write original work instead of simply policing plagiarism.
  • Schools have to be consistent about fair use and copyright law. Looking the other way with a wink and a smile doesn’t cut it.
  • Subscription databases are an information goldmine.
  • Blogs are the ultimate primary source. If you want to know what’s really happening in Iraq, read a soldier’s blog.
  • Google works best when asking very focused questions. “Which 20th century president did the most to promote civil rights?” is a hard question to answer with Google.
  • Researchers have to use multiple sources and compare and validate information.
I enjoy Joyce's blog even though I am not a librarian. I am very interested in her ideas and realize they are applicable to all teachers. Some of the ideas from the podcast are already a part of what I believe and practice, others are new to me (eg. subscription databases) and give me new areas to explore.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Second Look at Open Source

I admit, I have been a bit of a snob about open source software. I never really saw that it would be relevant to me or my district. If figured it was for places that were looking to outfit a large number of students with computers and had little money left for software. And I thought open source software was for places that were building computers, as opposed to buying them from Dell or Apple or whoever. I didn't even think they would work on Macs or Dells. I also assumed (and we know what happens when you do THAT!) open source software (oss) was very limited. Boy was I wrong.

I began to think about all the free web tools and software I have downloaded for my personal use. Why do I download this free software? Because it works. And why should I pay for something when I can get something just as good (or better) for free? (AOL mail vs hotmail, gmail, yahoomail, etc, or Moodle - lots of buzz about this) There are also times when a free download is the only way to get something (Writely is sooo cool) -- count me in! I am a dedicated Mac gal through and through, but I dabble with PCs when I must, so obviously a "frankenstein" computer is not needed for oss.

And today I read a blog post that stated there are over 1500 oss titles with more being added everyday. Incredible. As I watched a TILT (Teachers Improving Learning with Technology) video of ThinkFree Office Online (their version of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) I became a convert. Documents created with ThinkFree are even compatible with Word! I can't wait to find more oss that I can use and download for use with my 1st-5th graders.

Watch this spot for links to my favorite open source/free sites.

  • Like Stickies for Mac , but better. The ultimate organizing, to-do tool.
  • Allows you to resize images and apply some effects, like shapes or even text. Drag and drop interface. I love it! So much easier than PhotoShop or Graphics Converter.

  • What's not to like about this browser?: tabbed browsing, auto-updates, lots of add-ons and themes. A great alternative to IE for Mac users and imo, far superior to Safari,

  • a word processing, presentation program, and spreadsheet/graph program, compatible withMicrosoftt Office Suite
Project Cam
  • • an application to facilitate videoconferencing, allows 2 "participant" screens, audio, and a text message area, you supply the web cams, from Cable in the Classroom
Thanks for Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklastch for these 3:

LEGO Digital Designer 1.6
  • a free virtual building system available for both the Windows and Mac OSX platform
Google SketchUp
  • a powerful 3-D modeling program avaiable for Windows 2000 and better and Mac OS10.3.9 and better; can be used in conjunction with Google Earth or on its own
  • an easy-to-use drawing program available for Windows and Mac OSX