Monday, December 31, 2007
That being said, today is my 36th wedding anniversary. (I think I got it right first time, this time! Last year I was confused!) It is a good day. Tomorrow I return to Albuquerque. We'll have to see what 2008 brings around.
One thing that I intend to see happen this coming year is more regular posting to this blog. I didn't realize how much I missed that until I made myself blog regularly again.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
kwout demo are not. But all I would have to do it click on the link to the post below the kwout and I would have access to the hot links in the kwout, too.
Now, the question: Will I really use this or is it a fun toy to play with and blog about? It remains to be seen. But it seems like it would make my blogging easier. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the kwout button is waiting there for me in my bookmarks toolbar.
Kwout takes a screen shot of a web page, allows you to crop it the way you want, and then allows you to post it to Flickr of anyplace else you want. So, I decided to check out the demo. This is what I got when I used it on my own blog:
This seems like a great tool for bloggers. I can't wait to check it out.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
While it is not the end of the world and I am not even really disappointed in myself for not posting, I am aware of how easy it is to fall back into that not posting thing. I don't want to do that. I have truly enjoyed writing every day this month (except yesterday, of course!), and I hope to continue the habit. I know from the past almost 3 years of blogging that it isn't easy to sustain, but I have also seen this past month how much pleasure it has given me to write regularly again.
And, with this post, I have matched the number of posts I made last year. Next year is going to be better!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The problem that we face is that almost every education system in the world was created by a colonial power, not to encourage innovation and problem-solving, but to keep the population in order while their country was pillaged.Now, I don't want to get involved in a discussion of the political elements of this claim, but I do want to discuss the state of education today.
It seems obvious that our schools do not "encourage innovation and problem-solving". This situation does not seem to be improving. And it is not just K-12 education.
If there is a chance of changing that situation, it comes from the free access to information. And that is where the OLPC project comes in. Students can have access to information much more easily when they have access to the Internet. Children are naturally curious and, given the chance, will follow that curiosity and will learn.
All too often we kill that curiosity in school. We force kids into move lock-step through material that may or may not be interesting to them. I do not understand why this has to be. Why do all students in a class have to do the same thing in the same way at the same time?
There are examples of teachers doing things differently, or starting to anyway. I think of Clarence Fisher's work,like his students' Outsiders wiki . I think of Eric Langhorst's The Guerrilla Season project. And then, of course, there is Barbara Ganley's blogging and her work with her students. She sets the bar, as far as I can see.
Computers don't and won't automatically change education. It will take teachers who are able to open up the world to their students through using them to make a real difference.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The post is wonderful, both as a glimpse into the photographer's mind and as an example of what could be done with VoiceThread. Give it a look. You won't be disappointed.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The Wiki he refers to is the OLPCWiki. It has sections for educators and developers to contribute ideas and actual projects that they could become involved in.
As to what you and I should do, computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra has a suggestion that I find helps to clarify matters for me: "Only do what only you can do."
Most of us in the laptop project wouldn't be very effective at direct food aid. We find, however, that we are very effective at what we are doing, and nobody else comes close. Please ask yourself what you know that the children need to know, and come to the Wiki to tell us about it.
But the question remains: What can I do that only I can do? And that, in turn, begs another question: Am I willing to do it?
Oscar Becerra, the head of educational technology in Peru, is hoping that the laptop program will help stop the exodus of young people from rural areas in Peru to the slums of Lima. He said:
If we make education pertinent, something the student enjoys, then it won't matter if the classroom's walls are straw or the students are sitting on fruit boxes.He also noted that school enrollment has increased since the laptop program was announced. Now, some may see that as an attempt on the part of the families to get a free laptop. And if it is, so what? If it gets the kids in school, if it opens up the world to them even a little bit, it has been worth the money.
Of course, not everyone is convinced. The article quotes a university professor as saying he fears
a general disruption of the educational system that will manifest itself in the students overwhelming the teachers.While I understand his concern, I think it is that fear of losing control that is keeping education around the world from advancing as it could. But that is another post for another day.
The article goes on to quote a mother who says she sometimes pokes around on the laptop, too. Who knows where it might take her?
If you have been considering participating in One Laptop Give One, Get One program, please do. It is running through December 31st. We bought 4, 2 to "keep" and 2 to go somewhere to help a child. Of course, we aren't really keeping the ones we are getting, much to my husband's dismay! So there will be two kids in our lives who will get a real surprise when they arrive! But the true joy is knowing that other kids in other places will be able to experience the joy of discovery that these children in Peru have.
Thanks to LXer for the tip.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I think you may also want to examine how publishers and their supporters are changing (or trying to change) the concept of 'morality'.and goes on to describe some "shifts" in terms of "the doctrine of first sale", "fair use", and "sharing", among others. He concludes by saying:
Children do not have some fundamentally different morality. Rather, they see - while adults, for some reason, are blind - that the game is shifting, that some very self-centered and greedy people are trying to change the rules. The children - who have no stake in this sudden 'ownership society' - are not fooled. We shouldn't be either.It's a very thought-provoking post. If you are one of 2 people who read this blog and don't read Half an Hour, please correct that situation and read this post.
...In K-12 education, I often hear that Linux just isn't ready...but everyone--except the leadership--knows the truth. The truth is that it's not ready to be supported by the staff you have on hand. So, rather than require people to learn a new operating system and make the switch, you're stuck with an expensive, proprietary system.Human beings, most of us anyway, don't like change. It is hard to give up the known for the unknown. We only do it when we are forced to.
My son-in-law, for instance, is very happy running PCLinux on his laptop. But he would never had done it had his computer not crashed. And when he gets a new hard drive, I don't know what OS he will put on it. He says he would be happy to keep PCLinux, but the pull to the familiar will be very strong, I am sure.
My daughter is resisting getting comfortable with Knoppix, which is OK since we wouldn't be installing it on her machine anyway. But I hope that being forced to use it (or Ubuntu on my other machine) until they decide what to do with her machine will give her enough of a taste for it that she would consider Linux as an option.
My daughter's problem, actually, isn't an aversion to Linux as much as a commitment to certain Microsoft products (like Money) and Windows/Mac-centric sites like ITunes. I am sure she will end up back on Windows for those reasons.
But enough about me and mine. What about you? Are you ready for Linux? I guarantee there is a variety of Linux out there that would be just perfect for you!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
It seems like it has potential. But I wouldn't want to suggest it to students without more input from others.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
So why put system requirements if they aren't requirements? Why not say, "This will work on almost any machine. You may have improved functionality on some, but the basics will work for anyone." If the assumption is that everyone uses Windows, why put the requirements there at all?
My husband told me the other day that he isn't interested in helping people with Windows problems anymore. If you have a Linux problem, he'll be there to help in a heartbeat. I thought that was a bit extreme, but I am starting to understand.
As more and more people use Linux of one variety or another, we shouldn't be made to feel like second-class citizens. We have to stand up for ourselves. So from now on, if you tell me I need Windows to use your product, I won't even give it a try. Usually it will work, I know, but that isn't the issue. It is a stand I am willing to take.
Guess I am becoming a crotchety old woman!
Friday, December 21, 2007
What more is there to say? I find myself having little patience with people who do not want to know. It doesn't matter what it is they don't want to know: computers, the Internet, another language, a different way of doing something/anything. It is a mindset I cannot understand.
Worse than not knowingIs not wanting to know.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
An hour ago I got a call from my daughter telling me that her desktop had crashed. Fortunately, a Knoppix disk proves that the machine has at least some life in it. Hopefully she will be able to get the data off of it, and then she can decide what she wants to do.
But what are the odds of that happening? They seem astronomical, but maybe I am wrong.
I need to read his blog more closely all the time. If you don't read Throughlines, you should. There is a lot of great stuff there.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
HipBone games were developed by Charles Cameron and are based on Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game. The boards look similar to the one Graham used that was developed by Chris and used with his classes.
These games, whichever version you use, are wonderful tools to use in the classroom. I have used them to practice vocabulary and grammar, to stimulate discussion, and to work through a difficult reading. Whenever and however I have used them, students have always loved them.
The games fit well with how we all seem to live and work today. It is all about connections. We follow bread crumbs online and off. Give the games a try and see what you think!
Monday, December 17, 2007
I think so many of the professional opportunities that teachers are afforded are races, mere dips of a toe into the waters of potential. There's lots to do and not enough time to do it.I feel that way about much of the professional development I have done lately. Maybe all of it. We don't get a chance to really explore the possibilities of a thing before we move on to the next one. We seldom get the opportunity to try something out in our classes and then report back to the group. Reflection is what is missing from most professional development.
Bud goes on to say
I want sustainability. I want reflection. I think others want it, too. we don't learn by racing. We learn by doing and reflecting and questioning.One good thing that has come from my determination to blog every day until the end of the year has been the fact that I have read more blogs and I have reflected more on what I have read. I think that I am learning from this process; I know that I am. And I am determined to continue after the first of the year.
I don't think it will be easy to continue this pace. I know that at times it will feel impossible. But I think I owe myself the time that it will take. I deserve it, actually!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
We have come to depend so much on free online services, and I seldom think about the possibility of one of them shutting down. I guess I am beginning to understand why people have their own sites to house all their online stuff.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I don't always get around to listening to podcasts, but this is one I am very glad I did. He talked about not just doing the same old thing that we have always been doing. It isn't enough to use technology to tell students to read pages 6-20 and answer questions 1-10. I've talked about this before, and it is something that I really struggle with in my own practice.
The other thing I took away from the podcast was Wesley's picks as the most powerful tech tools or resources. After asking the participants to come up with their own lists, he talked about del.icio.us, flickr, voicethread, and skype. While I use all four extensively, I haven't used them as much with students as I would like. I have used flickr extensively, but that is about it. I need to think about how I can use the others more.
Anyway, it was a great podcast. You have probably listened to it already, but if not, check it out!
Friday, December 14, 2007
If there was some rhyme or reason to this, it would be a lot easier to take. As it is, it is very frustrating! But I guess as long as I have my Ubuntu machine around, I'll be able to "fix" my printing problems.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The available titles are:
Youth, Identity, and Digital Media
and all are available for free online!
I look forward to reading some of these over the break. What I saw with a quick glance today looked really interesting.
Now for the "but". It found my printer, but it couldn't download the firmware for it from the Internet. This was the same problem I had when I tried to run Linux Mint. I am sure there is an easy solution, but I don't have time this morning before work to figure it out.
I have to think that the problem is something in Gnome. But I don't understand why this has to happen. If PCLinixOS with KDE can find my printer and set it up and let me print (most of the time!), why can't PCLinux OS with Gnome? Is this the real reason people like KDE better? Does it just work better than Gnome?
I will admit that after only a few days I am getting used to KDE. I got rid of the blue desktop, which is my real objection to it. (I know. That doesn't seem like a real reason to like or not like something, but if I wanted blue, I could log on to my Windows partition!) But I want to give PCLinux with Gnome a try, so I will play around with the printer problem tonight.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
This is my frustration with Linux, of whatever variety I am running: Sometimes it just stops working for absolutely no reason that I can determine. I am going to bed now. Maybe the computer is as tired as I am right now. At least I hope that's it!
And I can see why they love it. The only problem I am having is making the switch to KDE. I know some people like it better than Gnome, but I am still trying to find my way around it. I got Boinc and Seti up and running yesterday; that was the last piece I needed to get in place.
This morning, though, my flash drive, which was mounted yesterday and removed safely last night, wouldn't mount until I rebooted. None of my flash drives would mount. Is this something i should expect to have happen? Is it going to go south the way it did with Ubuntu and I'll end up not being able to mount them even after rebooting? I would be grateful for any ideas you PCLinux folks might have.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
As for PCLinux, so far I am happy. Except I had a Skype conference call this morning that didn't go well; I couldn't hear them at all. Was it PCLinux? Probably not. But it is curious that it happened now. I was very happy to see that Flash works perfectly, though. I didn't have to log in to Windows to check the latest updates to the course materials.
We'll see what I think in a week or two or a month or two. I still have Ubuntu Gutsy on my other machine, so I don't feel totally disloyal!
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Ever since I upgraded to Gutsy Gibbon, I have had trouble getting it to read my flash drives, and Flash wouldn't work right. It was a major pain because of the course development I am doing that is produced in Flash. I had to log into my Windows partition to edit it. (That is all I ever use Windows for anymore!).
So today I backed up everything on my Linux partition and tried live CDs of Linux Mint and PCLinux 2007. I really wanted Mint to work, but it wouldn't find my wireless card. PCLinux found it right out of the box. So I got everything running the way I wanted with the Live CD and then installed it. It was so easy. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it as soon as the installation was finished.
I am sorry to leave Ubuntu, but I need for things to work. For me on this machine, PCLinux is it. I am still running Ubuntu on my other laptop. Everything works much better there. So for now, I am content to leave it that way. But if I have trouble in the future, you can be sure I will try PCLinux on it, too.
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” — John Cotton DanaNothing terrible new there, of course, but it reminded me of how important my blogging and reading of blogs is to me as an educator. It is how I learn. Would I learn if I didn't blog? Probably. I hope so, at least. But what I learned would be different. It would be textbook based. It would be theory more than practice. And that wouldn't be bad. But it would definitely be different.
And another quote:
“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.” — Source UnknownThis goes back to something I wrote about a few days ago, something that Doug brought to my attention, something that Gerald Bracey wrote about: whether or not schools should be in the business of preparing young people for jobs. Maybe this is the approach I should have taken in my post: It is OK for schools to prepare students for jobs, but they should first prepare them for life.
There are other great thougts in the post. Which ones speak to you?
Friday, December 07, 2007
Facebook is viewed as "real identity", whereas MySpace is "fanntasized identity"!As I said, I am not overly familiar with either network, but these characterizations don't seem too far off.
What I found interesting was my reaction to the idea of a fantasized identity. Granted, I am quite old (57 at last count!) and stodgy, but I can't imagine going on MySpace and creating a fantasized identity. I don't know how I would even go about it. And if I wanted a fantasized identity, why not do it on one of the many online games that are out there, where you are expected to take on an identity within the game?
I think about my desire for transparency in my blogging and in my life in general. I guess am not a good candidate for MySpace. But then, I am not sure I am a good candidate for Facebook, either.
There is a slideshow of the faberNovell paper in MacManus' post. Check it out.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Every year about this time I plug it, and this year is no exception. Check out the call for participation. It gives you a basic idea of the sessions that are being offered this year.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
If you don't have Knoppix Live CD, get one! It can save you. And it gives you a chance to try Linux, too. You just might find that you like it.
But to the reminder -- to myself as much as to anyone else -- please back up your stuff! You never know when things will come crashing down around you!
I know I start out with good intentions and then get busy and forget. I know that's what happened with my son-in-law. Don't let it happen to you!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
There is no way to avoid doing it, and I understand the value of it as a way to satisfy funders if nothing else. But I feel like I am shortchanging my students because I am taking time from instruction to test and then test again, and then I have to document all that testing. Then I have to fill out a ton of other forms on top of that and on top of all the other forms we have to fill out throughout the term. Or at least that's how it feels.
Since this is my first time doing all this, I am sure my reaction is a little extreme. In time I should be more used to it and take it in stride. But for now, I am really feeling frustrated and harried.
There must be a better way to do some of this, but I haven't been here long enough to have an idea what it would be. Believe me when I tell you I intend to find out!
Monday, December 03, 2007
In the meantime, I'm glad that I embarked on the blogging adventure 2.5 years ago. I'm much further along than if I'd limited my conversations to traditional venues and people who I hope will embrace a different way of learning.This ties, again, to what I have been thinking. Reflecting is good. Connecting is good. But blogging is better. What I have learned, the people I have "met" and interacted with since January, 2005, truly amaze me. There is no other way that I could possible have learned as much as I have through blogging and reading blogs.
I have taken three grad classes since I started blogging. None of them made me think as much as blogging has. None exposed me to the variety of thought and opinion as blogging has. Blogging nourishes me as a professional in a way that nothing else seems to. It inspires and challenges me on a daily basis.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
...I am dismayed that our institutions of higher learning place such little value on creativity-centered courses except for majors in the arts. If a student has 36 courses to take over the four years of college, how many of them are creative-intensive? And yet, what could be more important than building their ability to think and act creatively?I don't think it is just colleges that are ignoring creativity. I see children doing senseless, mindless worksheets that don't mean anything to them. I see my own students not encouraged to be creative or really interact with what they are learning more often than I would like to admit.
I know that I as a human being am only happy when I am creative. I used to sew and bake. Now I blog and develop courses. And I am happy.
Barbara goes on to say:
In slowing down by moving more deeply into reflection, connection and creativity , my students have gotten in touch with parts of themselves that they haven't seen in years while coming out of themselves to examine the world around them...Reflection is, in itself, a creative process, I think. So is connection, really. The "product" may not be tangible, but it is very real.
She says more that I need to think about and comment on. But that is for tomorrow, I hope. My thanks to Barbara for helping me think about this.