Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Presenter's Tools

Last week I posted about the cool timer's that are available online.  There are also some other greate tools, for working in front of a group or class.

I have used ZoomIt for about a year now and it is a truly useful tool.  On a Windows computer you can zoom in on a specific region, draw lines, rectangles, circles and even type text.  Keyboard shortcuts allow you to change your pen color with: orange, red, blue green and yellow options.  You can also color the screen to black or white for a sketch pad.  There is a built in countdown timer that allows you to manage activities and whatever your are doing is gone with a quick click of the esc key on you keyboard.

Another feature I have found particularly useful is the fact that ZoomIt will run from a flash drive or with the latest release directly from the web.  Meaning I don't have to download it or install it on a strange machine I may be using.

Now, you are probably asking: What about the MAC?  Well,  I used to tell people, "Sorry, you can use the control key and scroll up to zoom in, but no drawing or other cool features"  Turns out that like so many other times in my life I was wrong.  Omnidazzle on the Mac will give you a lot of useful features to present or instruct from a computer.  It allows you to highlight areas, zoom in or create focus on you mouse.  Additionally it has some features that make finding your cursor on a large screen easier.


ZoomIt: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897434.aspx

OmniDazzle: http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnidazzle/

Good Reads

I have been wanting to blog about this for a bit, but haven't had the time until today. I have used it a bunch and found it to be very useful. It has a social-networking aspect, which some may not like, but it does allow you to view what others have done and there is a section specifically for Librarians. Like many other new Web 2.0 tools it allows you to create a widget that is exportable.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Response to Ryan Bretag: Should we or shouldn't we....

I got a tweet from @briancsmith that mentioned a new blog post by Ryan Bretag. I hadn't read his stuff before, but found it interesting that he was posting about the same topics I have but from a different perspective. It looked to me like he was discouraging "friending" students on Facebook. I got the feeling that it was let them have their space. Let them have their "hangout"

Sorry, but I disagree. I don't want to be the creepy adult lurking in the kids tree house. Just like I wouldn't join in my kids slumber party. However, I would darn well supervise the slumber party, and let the kids know I was going to checking in on them from time to time. The same is true of online spaces. Students should not be allowed to develop the false impression that adults don't frequent the internet. Employers are checking on potential employees, students should know that adults are online.
My comment on his blog is below:

I replied to this post in my own blog about two months ago: http://jorgie-learning.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-if.html But wanted to make a comment here. The argument, and concern I have is if we abandon these spaces to the kids and basically let them have their "hangout" we are then throwing them to the sharks. If we as adults are fearful of being to available to students or to out there, then the only adults in that environment are the dangerous ones, or the ones who are willing to snub their noses at convention, if instead we as adults and educators firmly stake our claim in that world, and then model good behavior by good clean appropriate conduct we are doing not just students, but the whole online environment a huge favor.

IMHO it is vital though that we set explicit (in the being clear sense not the other sense) guidelines with students for example:
I will add you as a friend if you request, I don't request students as friends.

Whatever we are comfortable with is what we should set up ahead of time. Also, involve the powers that be. Explain to administrators why and what you are doing. No principal wants to find out after there is an accusation of misconduct that you are online friends with a student.

I also wonder what Edna Mode means when she states I keep the number to a minimum? If we selectively choose which students we accept as friends we run the risk of alienating some students and giving the impression that we favor some. For instance, if a teacher only accepted young men, it might give the impression of impropriety.
I actually think it is a really good idea to set up guidelines about what we think is appropriate with our online interactions with students and will make some suggestions the topic of a future post.

Friday, March 27, 2009

YouTube is Growing up

YouTube is growing up and heading off to college. Well sort of. Youtube launched a new section of their service: http://www.youtube.com/edu is a collection of resources provided by colleges and universities. This update in what and how content is delivered may give YouTube a greater legitimacy. YouTube has long been seen as a source of silly videos, but it is quickly becoming more mainstream and providing more content that is not only ok but really very good and powerful. Educators can use these resources with some increased confidence as YouTube continues to grow up.

Are people really reading this??

Some of our readers may also be writers.  If you have a web presence it can be useful to know how many people are visiting your site.  We have some examples of web tracking on our Blog here, but haven't really talked about the purpose or use of these trackers.  There are several kinds of trackers.

Hit Counters

Hit counters allow you to have numerical data about how many people have hit your site.  These are the simplest kinds of trackers.  We have a couple of examples on this page but specifically for this post I created one with the site: www.easycounter.com

Free Hit Counters

HTML Counter


A more complex type shows you approximately where people are coming from.  These maps usually also have a visual representation of how many people are visiting the site.  www.clustrmaps.com and www.feedjit.com both have these maps available as code you can install on your own webpage.


Finally, you can achieve higher level analysis of your web traffic with an analytics tool.  Feedjit has options that show you where a visitor arrived on the site from, and where they exited too.  Google Analytics one of the tools available with a Google account will also allow you to track how long people remained on the site before leaving.  So, go find out if people are really reading your stuff.

YouTube is growing up

YouTube is growing up and heading off to college.  Well sort of.  Youtube launched a new section of their service: http://www.youtube.com/edu is a collection of resources provided by colleges and universities.  This update in what and how content is delivered may give YouTube a greater legitimacy.  YouTube has long been seen as a source of silly videos, but it is quickly becoming more mainstream and providing more content that is not only ok but really very good and powerful.  Educators can use these resources with some increased confidence as YouTube continues to grow up.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Multimedia Online Timers

I loved using timers in class and had a couple of them that could be used on the old overhead projectors, but when I made the switch to an LCD projector I was always frustrated I didn't have a good timer to display on the screen.  Well thanks to the web and my network of connected friends, I have a few.

One of them is Fiery Ideas online flash timer: http://www.fieryideas.com/flash/timer.swf


Another tool that allows you have a count down timer is the ZoomIt tool from Microsoft.  This tool is a presenter's dream.  More in a future post.

Finally, another favorite is http://www.online-stopwatch.com/online-countdown/ This one has all sorts of great features and various different types of timers and stopwatches.

Happy clocking!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We teach and we teach and we teach but still....

You know, I really try. I really do I try and teach people but....

A Statement of Principle

I have recently been called upon to think in much more depth about what should and shouldn't be done by teacher online. I teach an Internet Safety Course (ironically, I do this as an online course) and I have been thinking about what makes a good online presence and whether teachers should have one. I think they should

Now, what happens when a students wants to 'friend' me? Or a parent? Or my Principal/Supervisor? What now?

I used to think that to protect teachers and to provide guidance that school districts had to have a policy regarding online contact between students and teachers. I have changed my mind. A policy is specifically proscriptive, prohibitive, and by definition enforceable which means that to be of any value it must be fully enforced. I think this is a bad idea. A district that adopts a proscriptive policy on what isn't allowed will soon find themselves in battles when they try to enforce it or if they don't enforce it they will find that the policy has all the teeth of a duck. All quack and no bite.

What School Districts and Universities need is a Statement of Principles. A document that defines the principles which would precipitate online contact. A document that defines what good online interaction between students, and teachers, and teachers and parents could include. It should also give a set of guidelines for what could potentially be risks or problems with online contact. A document that doesn't inhibit the great potential for positive online interactions but also provide clear guidelines for preventing inappropriate interactions (which are all too real) With the pace and growth of handheld devices this should also cover contact via txt, phone, and IM. In all ways it should be a document that enhances professionalism and effective teaching and interaction without inhibiting teachers.

Different than a policy which requires that you enforce specific rules and impose specific sanctions a Statement of Principles creates a guide for educators and administrators so that on a case by case basis each interaction can be judged without the compulsion of censuring a teacher nor censoring a teacher which could put districts right into a battle over Freedom of Speech.

What should this document look like and say? Well I am working on drafting one. Look for it in a future post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A response to an Ed Tech

Recently I watched Bill Gates TED Talk.

Which while great in many ways left me very unsettled and very frustrated. Bill's statistics and data don't match well with my personal experience in so many cases. I do have to acknowledge that many times learners are under served but often I feel this is a result of a lack of other kinds of necessary support and the poor compensation system in place. We do get what we pay for. If the respect and compensation for being a teacher was equivalent to being a doctor or lawyer I think you could entice more people into the field and increase competition for jobs which would in turn improve all of education. But there is a lot more to it than that and that is really something for another post. What I really wanted to focus on is the term Teacher. Dean Shareski wrote a response to the same TED Talk and a review of it. That prompted him to Define "Teacher" I responded:

I lke the sentiment of this post and the comments others have made. I disagree with one thing though. You don't need and I don't want another name. I am a Teacher. A teacher is defined as one who teaches. I teach. I think you are more uncomfortable with the term because the perception of teach for so long has been to dispense knowledge, but to me it has always embodied all the things you describe and all the things I strive to do. Teaching is about relationships, it is about debate, critique, mentoring, guiding, disagree. Teaching is about sincere relationships that cultivate, motivate and accelerate the learning of both teacher and student. (Although there I actually do prefer the term learner) I don't want a new title. I am a teacher. I want more respect for that title.
I honestly believe it is about relationships. Bill's idea that everyone can have the best teachers is true but not from the perspective he believes. I can gain access for myself and my students to the very best information and lectures ever created. What can never happen with these situations by virtue of sheer logistics and volume are the personal relationships with those students. Richard Feynman as fine as his lectures may be can never ask "Michael, how's the shoulder doing, will you be able to play in tomorrows game?' It takes me in the class, with the students to do that. The relationships aren't the be all and end all. But they are the vital bridge between content and relevance.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Best of the Bull

I have usually avoided being very personal on this blog because I actually want it to keep a quite professional atmosphere. However, I was with colleagues when this occurred and it went out to the twitterverse so....

The folks in my office normally go out to break bread together. It is one of those great bonding experiences. Eating is a very social event. Well, this one was an extremely social event. It allowed for some incredible bonding. We went to a local restaurant Cowboy Grub on of the items on the menu is "The Best of the Bull"

My friend Jared decided that we needed to try it. Check out the results.

Really, this was a learning experience for me. Sometimes we have to open ourselves up to new experiences. Plus the prairie oysters (or Rocky Mountain Oysters as they are also called) weren't bad. Will I rush back for another batch. I doubt it, maybe for the spuds though! Did I learn something. Yeah, and I enjoyed good times with my friends. The power of which can never be underestimated. Oh BTW did I just give in to peer pressure???

Friday, March 13, 2009

Response to "Fresh out of College, But can't land Work"

Normally, I ride the bus to and from work so it is mostly podcasts or books that are my companions. But earlier this week I drove and it was my old friend NPR. I heard several good stories and it reminded me of why I donate to Public Radio. One of the reports angered me so much I had to write about it.

The report titled "Fresh out of College, But can't Land Work" really frustrated me. I feel for the young lady in the report. As she states it, "I played by the rules" She stayed in school. Got good grades, chose a good field, all the stuff that is supposed to mean you will be a success. There were two failures from my perspective.

One, extended adolescence. I have written about this before, but it still seems supremely relevant. This girl was 23 and from the tone of the report I got the impression that she was striking out on her first job hunt. WHAT???? When I was in college, I held down several different jobs. Now, maybe she did too but they were University or Work Study programs that end when you are no longer a student. But still WHAT??? Why would our system fail this young lady by not providing real world actual paying job experience as part of her education. Again, I got the impression that she had gotten all the way to 23 and through college without society or her parents actually expecting her to take responsibility for herself. The message seems to be:
  • Finish College
  • Enjoy life
  • Find yourself
  • explore the world
  • BEFORE you start to be an adult
Why do we devalue our youth by teaching them they must wait until they are done with college before they can start to work on their life and try to make a difference?

Wouldn't it be so much more effective if as students were progressing along their skill continuum they suddenly subtly started doing the actual work. What if they didn't even notice they graduated. What if the shift from "learning" and "doing" the job was so gentle that students became employed almost without awareness. I am so frustrated with the delineations and demarcations we have. Why can't a 13 year old do the work rather than prepare for the work? Why must they wait? Why are we extending adolescence into the midlate-20's. We force so many to wait to live their lives because they aren't old enough yet? Why? I am not advocating a return to the negative and almost slavelike conditions of the apprentice system, but rather the positive aspects of learning alongside the hands of a master while actually doing the work coupled with time to study and learn about other things students may not know exist. I am convinced that the vital role of work as part of the formative adolescent years is being abandoned. The best way to get authentic student achievement is to facilitate opportunities for them to do authentic work.

The very last quote from the report was what really got me:

This isn't at all what she imagined 23 would be like. She was supposed to be working toward the next big thing: dazzling her family and friends with her accomplishments, on her way to becoming a successful adult. (emphasis added)

WHAT??? On her way to... legally she has been an adult for 5 years and emotionally, cognitively and physically for something probably more like 8 to possibly 10 years. Granted at 13 she was not experienced enough nor does research support the idea that 13 years olds are completely matured cognitively or emotionally, but they are well on their way and could certainly start to really work and not wait until 23 to start becoming an adult.

Citation Nods:
Dr. Tim Tyson's UCET 2009 Keynote address (7 March 2009 held in Taylorsville, Utah)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Views on Twitter

Is twitter for everyone? Apparently not. @shareski posted a tweet telling his tweeple that somebody wasn't sure if they wanted to stay on Twitter. 
Why one of my students regrets signing up for twitter http://bit.ly/VJj5h Was it a mistake? Let her know.
Here's my response to her concerns.

You can visit her original post at: http://tjordan.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/twitterwhy-did-i-start/

Very sorry to hear about your bad twitter experience. Living an online life certainly exposes us to some nasty people. I blogged about my experience with an adult mocking my 10 year old son's YouTube book review. You can check it out for part of my take on this whole bashing phenomenon. I have also accidentally been on the other side. Early on in my twitter life I sent some tweets that were meant to be teasing but came across as biting and @craniac has blocked me. Despite several twitter attempts and a couple of email aapologies he won't unblock me. That's his right. It's ours too. Just like in F2F relationships sometimes online relationships go sour. When we put ourselves out there we have to be aware that some people aren't going to like us and may be very nasty about it. My response and my suggetion for others. Move Forward! If the crticism is accurate use it and try to improve if the person is just bashing block, ignore and walk away. We don't contnute to stay around people in our F2F world that treat us badly. Same principle online.
BTW I am mbjorgensen on twitterr

Gold Farming

I actually found this a while back, but migrated it from my personal blog. 

I found this fascinating quote today:

World of Warcraft and other Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) sure do look exciting (see screen grab of Battle Ready Cat Thingy with Large Sword and Big Fangs at right). And WoW is exciting. I should know, as I've wasted a fair amount of my life parked in front of a computer, fighting off the Horde, etc.Discovery News: Etherized, Aug 2008

You should read the whole article.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

A vision for the future: Gadgets

This video sure shows some unique perspectives and allows me to rant about two things I have been wanting to rant about.

Future Vision Montage
Future Vision Montage

Ok first,

What does knowledge mean? We are fast approaching a time when access to what others have already studied and learned will be immediately accessible to anyone. I had a Botany class where I memorized 200 plants. I had to be able to recognize woody parts, leaves, and flowers. I could be shown anyone of them and would be required to recognize them. Do I remeber them now? NO! Well ok a few, but not most of them. If I had been taught how to accurately look them up and use a botanical key, I would still have that skill.

What gadget will we use? I don't know but it is clear we will use them. And we will use them to connect to people. Today I was waiting for an interview with a school district and suddenly on my phone I get a text. Former student wants to add me on facebook. So I text back add. Suddenly we are connected. Within a moment I get a new message

This is where things are going. We touch through tech. Not in some creepy way, but in the normal ways we have for years. We connect with people and interact, debate, discuss, and collaborate. I don't know exactly where we are going, but it's going to be a fun ride!

Citation Nods:



Welcome to Jorgie Learning

I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

Visit some of my other blogs or the other blogs I find mildly entertaining for a more polished feel.