Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Digital Native Languages - not just for Digital Native

This fun little quiz reminds us that it is not your age or generation, but who you are and what you do that matters.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

How fun and hilarious (you can be)

I've heard it oft said of late that personality is the key to communication. Well, not exactly like that, but when a teacher claims that his students connect with his lessons more when his humor and humanity (aka. mistakes) come out in a recording. Let go of perfection and greet the welcome reality, even if you can try a "take 2!".
Here's a YC instructor that has said, "...it's funny how students will reference my lectures in their discussion board posts and assignments -- e.g., "As Dr. Karly said in the lecture about blah blah blah," lol! It's great to know they're listening (and not texting under the desk, which is the bane of my existence in any lecture class today). And it's always nice to get those emails saying how much they appreciate the pre-recorded lectures (and "how fun and hilarious you are")".

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social network with personal/professional limiting

When at the Innovations conference, I asked everyone I could about whether they would be open to "friending" their students. ONE person (besides Todd Conaway:) would've. Ok, I get it, we want to have separation and a private life. While I've taken the tack of creating multiple Fb personalities, the Latin American oriented social network site Sonico has conveniently separated people for you, into work, family, and friend "buckets'.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On Wisconsin Blogs

I get my alumni magazine "On Wisconsin" mailed to me(!), and it serves as excellent fodder for our bathroom library. This latest edition has an article called Brave New Blogs, about UW profs blogging and is, above all, a good read. Anthropologist John Hawks describes it in wonderfully simple terms, “It’s about getting people excited about what we know,” he says. Yes it is.

It gives me perspective, again, that I am in a unique and privileged position, and NO, not everyone is hip to blogging yet, and it is a highly useful part of the world's dialogue.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Illegal Invite?

The images in my Picasa slideshow may be violating copyright, pending the response from the British website Sciencephotolibrary.com to whether student use is allowed without a membership. While I wait for a cease & disist order, I sent this "share" e-vite to myself, where I can click to contribute photos. I'm quite a guy!

Our baseball team has a Shutterfly website which links to our pictures of little league glory, and are functional collaborative sites like Ning or Grou.ps, with modules for blogging turned to game reports, news items used for pitching advice, and storage of files like the team yearbook pdf.

UPDATE: The sciencephotolibrary replied to my inquiry:
Dear Thatcher,
Thank you for the email.

We have made our collection available through the Encyclopaedia Britannica Image Quest, which is an educational subscription.


This link is a pay subscription, so one would surmise that using the images violates copyright, though I believe since they are watermarked and available, an in-class use by teachers or students would be fair use (of course, only a court would say for sure). My posting them online is probably not. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Innovations Conference - What is a Great Teacher?

Todd and I are currently in San Diego attending and presenting at the Innovations in the Community College conference.
I look around and get a pretty wonky impression that there are more administrators than teachers here, but it should be fruitful, and I'm pleased to report that some warm fuzzys are germinating, inspired by the keynote speaker, Allan Golston, President of the  U.S. Programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He spoke of the pain in realizing some early efforts came up short, mainly that systemic and structural changes in K-12 education did not have the effects hoped for. What they learned was that real change happens at the classroom level, WITH THE TEACHER. Top teachers can improve even the lowest performing students. Wooo! This was personally affirming, because after going through 5 different schools (so far) with my 3 kids, this was dominant lesson for us as well. School philosophy be damned, it was the teacher that mattered. I can imagine that this was painful for Mr. Golston because a good teacher is something of an outlier, and far more tricky to find and develop that making changes in policy or method. A good teacher transcends all those things.

Mr. Golston told the story of his being a young accounting teacher, confronted by ill-prepared students. Instead of flunking them, as one mentor coldly suggested, he opened a special Saturday session to bring those students up to where they needed to be. It wasn't a special gift of oratory, cleverness or technology, but simple willingness to go beyond for those students. I got totally choked up. The quality that all great teachers have? They care deeply about their students.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Things that Don't Change

If you don't update your blog for 3 months, people will wonder whether you will ever be back. Currency is valuable on the internet, and I'm not talking cash. It's more of a credit line. If you keep your web log fresh, like the flowers on the table, you might keep people coming back for a bite. Let it wilt to crusted brown and there will be no one coming to your door.
Do you find this ironic? Postings on the web can last, well, until the electricity runs out. So wouldn't this permanence let you say the things you need to only once? No need to repeat yourself, it would live on in transcendence of time, there for the searching now and forever.
It doesn't necessarily work that way - the internet gets stale faster than french bread. I doubt anyone will read any post contained in my archives, and they will be as good as last month's newspapers, balled up and burned. It's a good thing this internet isn't static, but churning churning out more fresh bit-burger-bytes. Still, what lasts? What do you return to?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Springing into Edu255

Wow, this will be Edu255's sixth semester. 75 amazing teachers! Looking at the change over that time and the growth ahead is amazing, and we are in the very center of it. Very exciting stuff, and frightening, and fun, and difficult at times. Technology surrounds us. We can resist it, or go ahead and make the move, toward it, without leaving behind our values and what we believe. It is ours to shape with everyone else, so let's learn how.

When approaching the online world, open to the possibility that what you might imagine to be possible, is possible. Can you talk to people through it? Yes. Can you make this blog whatever color you want? Yes. Can we organize videos together for a lesson plan? Affirmative, with the proper curiosity and perseverence. That kind of customizability by you - and students, together in interactive spaces, is really neat, with huge potential. These new contexts can create new self-motivations for learning.

We've had incredible discussions. The discussion board is the heart of the course, and this semester's going experimental again using the discus discussion tool, which personalizes it Facebook-style. The visual image gives life to it.

I look forward to making more great connections this semester. See you on Saturday!