Friday, May 31, 2013

Escaping Education's Death Valley

There are a couple of really amazing phrases in this. One is the line that "We sit kids down and ask them to do low level clerical work and then wonder why they get fidgety?"

The other was the metaphor about Death Valley and the first rain there in hundreds of years brought blossoms. Death Valley is not dead, only dormant. It only awaited the right climate to bloom.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where is the geek going to go?

A few weeks ago I was prepping to teach about one of my all-time favorite programs: Excel! Well not Excel specifically, but spreadsheets.  I cut my teeth in the computing world on a Program called Twin which was literally a 'twin' of Lotus 1-2-3, which of course was borrowed largely from VisiCalc which was the first Spreadsheet software ever.

Well I was looking for a video clip from the exceptional series "Triumph of the Nerds" Bob Cringely shares some time with the inventors of the spreadsheets.  I bumped into the clip I was wanting to use and one of the folks made some comments about it that I felt I needed to respond to:

It made me think a bit.  When I was a kid I coded for fun.  I would sit in my basement and I will admit, I spent hours playing games others had built.  But I also tinkered.  I programmed in basic and even created my own Menu Systems for games I had on 5.25" (truly) floppy disks.  It makes me wonder a bit about where the tinkerers are tinkering now?  There isn't a standard free language that is packaged with computers now.  iPads don't come with the "how to crack this" book.  Old computers did.  You had to program them.  Computers of today are becoming a bit like the TV.  They are a consumer product you buy and use until you need a new one.  Luckily there are options for upgrades and recycling, but still it isn't a tinkerers world anymore.  But as I mentioned in my comments above. It's the geeks and tinkerers that help change the world.  Steve Wozniak was a supreme tinkerer.  What if he had been told NO! you must play by these rules and can only do these things with your electronics.  

This is why I am seriously thinking about building a Linux computer with my sons.  Just so we can tinker!  What do you think where are people tinkering today?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning Activities for the Summer

As we start into summer it's important to take advantage of both the wonderful learning activities and events:
You can find some amazing links to Summer Reading resources at:
You can also find your local utah library here:

You can find a list of the wonderful museums to visit at:

State Parks are listed at: Utah State parks has partner with  to share an official StateParks App that let's you join in GeoChallenges.

And even more can be found at Utah.Com ( is not a government website but does house excellent information about Utah recreational activities)

So Fun stuff to do across the state.  If you have a favorite site or app you will be using to keep up the learning over the summer share it in the comments.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

As we head into the summer it's worth considering what to watch.  We often have our summer reading list ready but this summer consider adding a viewing list.  Pick out some of the excellent videos and resources available to learn by watching.

1. The Teaching Channel - A site focused on professionally created videos mostly showing teachers demonstrating strategies and techniques.

2. - Annenberg produced videos and courses that focus on deeper theory and strategies for learning.

3. UEN-TV - Live Television broadcasts of a variety of Instructional and Education programming including some items from Annenberg’s

4. UtahiTV- Broadcast schedules and other resources for locating education and instructional television statewide

5. eMedia - Many of the resouces licensed through the Utah Instructional Media Consortium and listed at UtahiTV are also downloadable through eMedia

6. PBS Video - All your favorite PBS programming most of it streamed full length without commercials.

7. TED - TED has become a premier source of the best ideas in the world.  Visit the site for great videos to inspire and challenge you.  Visit the TedEd site to see lesson plans and ideas for using videos to inspire and challenge students.

8. YouTube.EDU - Whether for professional or personal development, the iPad is fantastic at storing, reading and even annotating PDF’s, ePub, and other files.

9. iTunes - Use iTunes to find podcasts and iTunes U content.

* Bonus

Consider Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix. Each of these services offer excellent documentaries and informational content.

See a printable version here: 9 Ideas for Teacher Viewing

Friday, May 24, 2013

What is the Higgs Boson and why does it matter?

The best explanation I have seen so far of what the Higgs Boson is and why it matters that we find it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wiki Classroom

A while back I did a Faculty Lounge Episode about Wikispaces and how it could be used in the classroom. But now Wikispaces has branched out.  They have developed some unique and specific features for Classroom use and one of the options in your settings on your Wiki is to make it a classroom.
Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 10.16.50 AM

This enables several new features:
  • Projects
  • News Feed
  • Events
  • Assessments
These features functionally turn a wiki for collaboration into a Learning Management System for course delivery.  Allowing any teacher to deliver content, make assignments, create calendar events and provide feedback with assessment.  Just another great tool in the teacher toolkit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wireless Geocaching

Garmin Chirp

Geocaching is a worldwide hide and seek treasure hunt game.  It allows people to hide a cache, which is nothing more than a box full of clever trinkets, and share the Latitude and Longitude of the cache on a website.  There are several websites out there that do this including and  One of the must enjoyable types of caches are multi-caches that allow you to go from one point to another along a preset route.  Each cache then has the coordinates for another cache, but it can be challenging to get the coordinates entered into your device correctly.  If you have a high end Garmin GPS unit you can now do more.  The Garmin Chirp is a small wireless device that will communicate with other GPS devices.  Currently it only works with Garmin GPS units,  and one app on the Apple App Store: GeoBeacon  There are admittedly very limited and specific applications for this, but the reason I wanted to share this is because of the potential it might have.  Imagine that within the next year or two you could place these beacons around sites you wanted students to go to and to learn things.  You could create a field trip that they could get your specific tips and tricks for. There are several different ways two device can communicate like this and it could be that in the very near future the same technology that allows Android users to checkout at the grocery store with their Google Wallet by waving their phone at the cash register might allow mobile devices to act as a cache register.

Learn more by watching the following videos:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Infinity is bigger than you think

Wow, this is amazing.  Slower than last Week's Vi Hart but pretty amazing in it's own right.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Web Address:

Social bookmarking has been around for quite a while, and it can be a wonderful resources, but it isn't always very pretty. That's why Visual Bookmarking has become the latest and greatest. Sites like Pinterest allow users to use the images of their favorite things to keep track of and share those things with their friends. The latest site that I have found allows you to go a couple of steps beyond regular visual bookmarking and social bookmarking.

PearlTrees allows you to create Trees around a topic with various Pearls as the leaves.  The Pearls can be web pages, images, or notes.  These can then be connected further. This gives us the Visual bookmarking but what takes it beyond the other visual bookmarking tools is the ability to group and organize the Pearls.  Essentially you get a tree which organizes your thoughts. It's a Mind Map.  Socially, you can share, tweet, and embed these PearlTrees but where PearlTrees went beyond in Visual bookmarking it also goes beyond in Social Bookmarking. You can view the PearlTrees of others and then add items back to yours by "picking" a pearl.

Social Bookmarking Tools in Mitchell Jorgensen (mbjorgensen)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Trim Video

If you are like me there are times when YouTube just won't work.  Not because it's blocked but because I only need a few moments of a video and the navigation tools in YouTube are limited.  Here are some strategies I have learned that are helpful.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 11.34.09 AM

First of all when a user clicks Share under a YouTube video they can now designate a start time.  This allows you to jump over some parts you may not want.  To show.  You can always keep the link handy by copying it and posting it to your my.uen page.

If you have your own Channel with videos that you own. You can also edit and modify them by going to the YouTube Editor
Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 12.43.14 PM

This editor lets you mash together two or more of your videos and add audio for a quick and simple mashup.  You can also add pop ups and links to videos.

The final tool I was recently introduced to is Mozilla's Popcorn Maker.  This Tool allows you to choose videos from a variety of sources like YouTube, Vimeo and others and then add soundtracks and popups.  This is the same group that brought us FireFox so it works best in FireFox.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Doodling in Math

This video is the reason I decided to start doing the Friday Flix series.  This is the whole playlist and is over an hour long so sit back and learn!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Homework Help and Summer Support

Web Addresses:

With summer approaching it's either time to ramp up the homework factory so that students get all caught up and prepared for next year or it's time to start planning summer excursions and activities to keep kids learning.  Summer can be a really good time to allow kids to recharge and explore interests they have developed during the school year.  I never saw summer vacation as a break from learning but more as a chance to learn at my own pace and to explore my own interests.  The two sites listed above can help students get the support they may need to do just that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Make a QR code

QR codes or Quick Response codes are 2-D bar codes. These codes go beyond what regular bar codes can do. Regular bar codes use the varying black and white bars to communicate numbers and usually just that. But the 2-D QR codes allow more robust uses including:
  • Text
  • Hyoerlinks
  • Contact Information
  • YouTube videos
  • Direct access to certain apps ie: 4Square
These codes can be read by a variety of tools on a smart phone. Apps like Redlaser, and i-Nigma and even the Google Goggles feature of the Google search app will red these codes and the redirect them as needed. So what are teachers doing with these? Well UEN resident expert on QR codes Mindy Hintze has collected a variety of resources and examples all available at
How are you using QR Codes? Leve your ideas in the comments!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How do we learn this stuff?

Predictions about the future are amazingly varied in their accuracy.  Sometimes people are spot on! Other times somethings initiates a change that few if anyone predicted and suddenly the whole world seems to change over night.  Read any novel written before cell phones or smart phones to see this in action.  One thing that has been predicted is an exponential growth of information technology.  That pace has held true for close to 50 years.  Ray Kurzweil suggests that this will lead to exponential changes in the human condition and the way we will be able to manipulate the digital world and eventually the real world.  Well we might not think about it but in order to create better video games we have to understand how things work in reality.  I find it intriguing that in order to make a better virtual world we have to learn more about the real world.  See the video below for an example of how stunning this can look

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Web Address: LogoWith the proliferation and growth of OER there are more and more resources available for teachers to forge into their own weapon of mass education.  Hippocampus has been an access point for these kinds of openly available resources for years.  UEN has been directing learners and educators to HippoCampus for a long time and has partnered with HippoCampus to offer specific resources in a variety of ways.

HippoCampus will allow users to create their own profile.  They can then browse through, search and locate materials to add them to playlists.  For educators these playlists can be shared with students as either preliminary or review material. This would help you effectively flip your classroom.  Students could preview materials and information before class and then be ready for problem solving, discussion and critical thinking in class.

Students can create their own playlists and explore their own interests.  Essentially taking control of their own learning.  For a list of additional OER Resources check out this list:

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!

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