Archive for November, 2007

If you read this blog occassionally, you may have noticed that I have been “away.” That may partly be because my RSS feed was not working but I think that is fixed now (thanks to Tom and his amazingly helpful videos!) . The other reason is that I am blogging with my Core class right now at another blog: CoreCownexions. More on blogging and grading in my next post, but for now I just want to note a funny juxtaposition.

Last Sunday, the Parade Magazine that comes with my Richmond Times Dispatch featured Drew Cary on the front, all wired up. I think of Parade as the Sunday Mag of Middle America. And if it is, then I do believe we have reached a “tipping point.” Look at the article about meeting people on the internet, and it is not about creepy predators. Instead it is an optimistic look at the positive things that many of us know can come from these electronic communities. It even quotes on of my favorite resources, the

Pew Project for the Internet and American Life found that the Internet builds rather than decreases friendships by broadening users’ geographic networks, giving people more contacts to communicate with about health issues, hobbies or other interests.

The day after I read this, I went to a class at Godwin High School, where kids have had laptops in a one to one initiative since they were in middle school. I wanted to show them things about digital storytelling, but all the sites I wanted to show were blocked! Everytime I get involved at our schools I get mad. I get aggravated that many teachers don’t utilize the computers we fought so hard to keep available to our students and then I find out just how tightly their hands are tied. This is ridiculous! Our kids should be out front, creating multimedia projects among other cool kinds of projects where they can be creative and self motivated and really engaged… Let’s face it–those kids should have been teaching ME about digital storytelling. Instead, they had never heard of it.

My message to Henrico County Schools is: come on now! Even Parade Magazine is dropping the “fear factor” ! When will we untie the hands of our teachers and students to use these fabulous tools as more than a word processor??


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visual aids

One of the things I see really changing because of the internet is our ability to think visually. Today I tried out Vizuwords. I think this may be on of the first Web 3.0 applications that I have used. I am definitely a word person, but I also find that I use visuals a lot to understand complex ideas. Vizuwords is a dictionary that uses a moving visual interface to show not jsut the word, but other words closely related to it and the nature of those relationships. I could spend lots of time there… I am thinking of ways to use it with my students. This article from Edutopia first pointed me to it, and there are other sites mentioned there that I am looking forward to playing with.

It occurs to me that it matters a lot HOW we explain things. It is more than just moving thoughts from inside the head to outside; it is interpreting and making sense of things in a particular way. I noticed that many people are put off by the kinds of “drive-by” display of new technologies that we tech enthusiasts tend to want to produce. I think we really have to start to care about getting our message out to people who are afraid of learning new technology. Thanks again to Jeff who introduced me to one of my new favorite reources: the CommonCraft Show. These guys do explanations that are very visually savvy and also audience savvy–they couldn’t be less intimidating! I was going to link to one of the ones I’ll use with my faculty, like the one on wikis or the one on social bookmarking, but first you should check out this one that contains potentially life-saving information?

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