Friday, December 07, 2007

Video about Google

Kids in a flat classroom project collaborated to create this video about Google. Hang in there until you get to the skit about Google and Yahoo!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Twitter, Again

My favorite quote so far describing Twitter:
Kevin Honeycutt: “ Twitter is my Cracker Jacks: caramel corn, caramel corn...then a PEANUT..then when you least expect it..a secret toy surprise! You have to put some ingredients in too or you’re just snacking on everyone else’s cracker jacks.”

Intermittent reinforcement is the best for establishing a behavior. So you keep reading the boring stuff because you know eventually there will be another PEANUT!

A guy on the video on that same page uses the metaphor of bees "pollinating all over the place" to talk about Twitter. I feel a metaphor lesson coming on!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Serious Gaming

You know, games could really teach anything. I'm sure I learned first about capitalism and our economic system from Monopoly. Most games involve strategies, planning, sometimes teamwork, coordination, etc. IBM has created a game called Innov8, "an interactive, 3-D educational game designed to bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization." Now there's a worthy cause. In the field of adult education, and education in general, as elsewhere, we are constantly experiencing the tension between IT and educational goals. That tension is built in to the conflict between the need for information and access, and the need for security. Hmm, just like life!

There have been some interesting forays into simulations and gaming for adult education. I saw one from I think Ireland demonstrated several years ago at the TESOL software developers fair that allowed students to be a waiter interacting with customers. It had what was for that time sophisticated voice recognition and branched responses. The problem is the expense of developing these simulations. But maybe with Second Life and other MUVEs we are moving into an era of many more simulations and games.

Friday, November 09, 2007

So many blogs, so little time

According to statistics posted on the BlogWorld conference site, 12 million Americans maintain a blog - is that possible? I guess we all like to get our thoughts and opinions out there and hear from others. But 1.7 million list making money as one of the main reasons for keeping a blog. Hey, I think I'm missing something here!

Over 120,000 blogs are created every day. This is definitely information overload. But each one is a part of its own community - home schoolers, chihuahua raisers, artisan cheese makers, travel bloggers, fat bloggers, political bloggers, tech bloggers, scifi bloggers, our personal curiosities and our was of connecting with each other are endless. For adult educators, it's important that our learners understand this phenomenon, if they don't already. They can participate in it, become a part of and build national and international communities.

One more statistic, blog readers spend an average of 23 hours per week online. That sounds about right. Here's a chart of the number of unique visitors to the different blog hosts, comparing Q1 2004 to Q1 2005. Old numbers, but Blogger is still by far ahead of the crowd.

There are more blogs in Japanese than in English, but they are close, and far ahead of other languages, although it looks like all languages are participating. Chinese is third, with 8%.

Branka and I are doing a pre-conference session at CATESOL, and several other conferences, on blogging for language teaching and adult basic skills in general. The key is supporting learners to find their community of interest. There's something for everyone out there, and each person has their passions. The ability to connect with others who have the same passions is what got me excited about technology 15 years ago, and the root of it all is still the same.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Questions for Teachers

Cool Cat Teacher posted the Kansas State University students' video on her blog, and then posed the following 20 questions. I would delete #20 because I know you care. And they aren't all relevant to adult education, but still, food for thought. At the very least, a teacher should have some kind of web presence that you could link to, don't you think?

1. Do you spend any time talking about proper methods of e-mail?
2. Do you have a facebook or myspace profile? (I don't?)
3. I someone wrote about you, is your name hyperlinkable? (Do you have something they can link to?)
4. Do you know the names of all of your students?
5. If your students have computers in the classroom, do your students make ongoing eye contact?
6. Are you unafraid of what would happen if youtube, myspace, and facebook were allowed in your classroom?
7. Do your students collaboratively create documents?
8. Do you expect your students to complete their reading assignments?
9. Do you assign papers and grade them after reading EVERY WORD?
10. Have you ever given assignment and allowed students to create content on the public world wide web?
11. Do you allow students to post content WITHOUT premoderation?
12. If you allow students to post online, do you subscribe to 100% of their content in your RSS reader?
13. Do you comment on your student blogs?
14. Is more than 50% of your content relevant "to life?" (Ask your students)
15. Do all of your students open their textbook for your class on a weekly basis?
16. Do you give reading assignments that include web content?
17. Have your students been taught methodologies for assessing the validity of web documents?
18. Do you give students projects where they must manage themselves, multitask, and deliver a comprehensive output that is relevant to your topic?
19. Have you changed anything significant about ALL of the courses you are teaching THIS YEAR?
20. Do you care?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Adult Education Learning Community

Check out this blog, Adult Ed Matters, by an adult education administrator in Southern California, Martha Rankin. I just added her to my blog roll, and I encourage adult educators to see how she is using WordPress to create community, and focus on technology, among teachers in her program. It looks like the focus is on ESL, but it could be related to any program area.

I hope that her blog and her community thrive. I like that Snapshots feature of WordPress too. Does Blogger have that??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

There is no shelf!

This is about how we find information vs. how we used to find it. We've had a hard time learning that we don't need to think of information as a thing located on a shelf or in a file. Tagging and RSS feeds changed all that. Video created by Prof. Michael Wesch and his students at Kansas State Univ.

One More View from Second Life

Just had to post one more example from Claudia Linden. This dragon is a sculpture, not an avatar, created by a teenage girl on teen Second Life. It's really complex and beautiful. Click on the image and look at it full size.

Discovery Webinar on SecondLife

Just got finished listening to and watching a webinar on SecondLife by Claudia Linden, aka Claudia L'Amoreaux who works with the teen grid in SL. Of course she is totally committed to 3Di as she called it, 3D Internet, as the mode of the future. She thinks we will be meeting, living and working in virtual environments in the future as many are starting to do now. Her motto - Learn from the teens!

One example was that some kids in one teen grid area, Global Kids, were giving a tour for some kids from Singapore who had never been in SL before, and someone said "We need a tour bus." So a kid went off, built a tour bus, and came back in about 5 minutes and everyone hopped on the bus. That's it in the screen capture above.

She mentioned that there are university courses that take place entirely in Second Life, and participants mentioned University of Maine and Harvard Law as places where this is happening. She believes that 3D worlds increase "emotional bandwidth," i.e. instead of emoticons :( or happy faces, now you can see the whole person virtually as you are talking to them, so it's possible to provide some body language. I guess, although of the avatars I've seen they aren't so expressive. Maybe it's a learned skill. People now have mixed reality, meaning you could be sitting in a presentation at a conference, with your laptop open and talking in Second Life with other people who are sitting in the presentation in both Real Life and Second Life. Could get kind of confusing, but sounds interesting.

She also took us on a tour of the new Linden Labs (creators of Second Life) offices, virtual offices of course! They have most of their meetings "in world" now, using the voice chat. So should OTAN be having staff meeting in Second Life? I'm thinking about it! I have to get a little more proficient myself, first.

But meanwhile, I recommend checking out the other Discovery Education Network Webinars.

Who Can Resist a Mythical Greek Beast?

I was just checking out a discussion of widgets for education on Classroom 2.0, and I found this widget that will add a random mythical Greek beast to my blog every day. I know, it doesn't have anything to do with technology, except that technology can do this. We are all connected to the collective unconscious, right? So you now you can get your random Greek beast fix along with the adult education technology news!

You can get this widget from Laura Gibbs at

Monday, October 08, 2007

Online Portfolios

On the NIFL Technology list today there was a post about online portfolios. This is something we have been talking about in California, but haven't really looked into or tried. Two sites were recommended, one commercial and one opensource. The commercial site is TaskStream. It has a nice interface, and the person using it (for a graduate program through the Univ of Phoenix) said that it's been easy to use so far. However, it costs $49/yr, less if you subscribe for more years.

She also found an opensource portfolio service, OSP, that looks very interesting. It would be great to have your resume, work samples, course work, articles, all collected in one place and available either publicly or to those you give access to. So which one will be around longest? That's the biggest issue to me. I wouldn't want to create a portfolio and have it disappear in a year. I guess there are no guarantees, but wondering of any of you have a strong opinion - opensource or commercial?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Web 2.0 for Administrators

My workshop for administrators was interesting. It reminded me that most people don't have time to surf around and look for cool new things. That's part of OTAN's role (my favorite part!), to review the possibilities and present a few that might be helpful for busy teachers and administrators. Links are all on my wiki.

So here's what they wanted to hear about:
1. Google Calendar, and how to share a calendar online
2. Wikis - what's a wiki and what to you use it for?
3. RSS Feeds - but I had to talk about blogging first, and the OTAN News, so they would have a concept of what feeds they might want to get.
4. Social bookmarking - I didn't have time to go into detail on this, but I think this might be one of the most useful things for them

Things we didn't get to:
1. Google Docs
2. Video sharing
3. Unitedstreaming
4. Moodle
5. Open source software

This could really be a 3 hr workshop instead of just a show and tell. Maybe I should propose this for COABE.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Desktop vs Online

Argument with a friend - I say pretty soon we won't need to purchase software, we will be able to create and save all documents online. She says no, because of security. Too easy to hack your online stuff. Would you put your journal online? OK, maybe not. But I would create and save a lot of what I do online. And I will be able to access and use my stuff with something a lot smaller than a laptop, like an iPhone. This is good, because my purse and my laptop case are both too heavy - with gadgets and with paper!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Does everyone know about Zoho but me? This is every app you might need, all free and online. So why do we need productivity software any more? OK there are some bells and whistles still missing, but you can create, save, upload and download docs, spreadsheets, slideshows, databases, project management software, etc.

How did I learn about it? A Canadian guy, principal of a school in Saskatchewan, posted a reply to a question I asked on Classroom 2.0.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More on Social Networking and Ning

I'm at the ACSA Conference, and working on my Web 2.0 for Administrators workshop that will happen on Friday. I just have to make another plug for Classroom 2.0 on Ning. A few days ago, while I was thinking about and planning this workshop, I posted a forum topic on Classroom 2.0 asking about Web 2.0 tools for educational administrators. I have a couple of replies so far, not a lot, but they are very useful. People have lots of knowledge and are willing to share. Gotta love it!

I also used the same site to check out a discussion of which free wiki host is the best for education, in order to respond to a question on an email list. While I was there, I noticed that a colleague had joined the community and left a message, so I went to her home page and sent her a friend invitation. So that's a lot of use out of a site for one day!

I also wrote an article about Ning for the CATESOL News, which will come out in November, I hope. One thing I realize about Classroom 2.0 is that its founder does a lot of work to keep it organized, keep discussions going, respond to communnity needs, and generally promote the community. In exploring other Ning sites I see there are a lot of junk sites, and sites that never got off the ground. The tools are there, but it takes a person, or people, with enthusiasm, commitment and hard work to make a community happen.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Alan Lew has a blog post about Twitter, where he has pulled together a bunch of references and discussions, and suggested various educational uses. Twitter is blocked at my work as we have youth correctional sites on our network, so I can't use it as much as I'd like to, Can't even grab a screen shot for this post. But I'm interested in how learners might use this service. It is writing, after all. Is Twitter part of the new literacy?

Monday, September 10, 2007

SL Video by Kids

I was just starting to get discouraged about the usefulness of Second Life in adult education, but Barry Bakin posted about this video made by kids doing a project on child soldiers made me think again. It's tough subject matter, reflects some real research, and tells a story. I would like to know what the process of making it was like. Can you see your learners doing a project like this?

Barry found this video on a blog by Kevin Jarrett, who has taken a semester leave to investigate Second Life for education, and is blogging about his experiences.

Doonesbury on Second Life

Did you catch Doonesbury on Sunday? Funny contrast of the generation that is into Second Life, and online life in general, and the generation that doesn't really get it. It also reflects how unapparent it is to the naked eye how much life takes place online. I think about this when I have spent a whole day sitting at my computer. I stand up at the end of the day and stagger out of the office, feeling the intensity of having communicated with many people, research topics, written documents, edited photos and maybe even videos, organized events, attended events, learned about new technologies, participated in national discussions, on and on. But to the observor it looks like I didn't do anything but sit there. How odd is our productive life these days??

Friday, August 31, 2007

Classroom 2.0, Social Networking, and Diigo

I'm really enjoying being a member of Classroom 2.0, a community set up by Steve Hargadon, an ed tech person, using Ning. This is a community of teachers interested in using technology, and they are from all over the world. When I first signed up, my first friend request came from a teacher in Germany. There are lots of interesting topics being discussed there. I drop in when I have a chance, and read a few posts.

For example, tonight I went to the homepage and looked at the new discussions. Steve started several to get people to talk about what kinds of sites they use and like for various things. I checked in to the social bookmarking discussion, and read a really interesting post by Dave Ehrhart. I thought everyone would be talking about Delicious, but no. Dave is using a site called Diigo with his students. Not only can they bookmark sites, but they can highlight pages that they read and write notes on them. Dave, their high school history teacher, can look at their highlighting and notes and add comments of his own to help direct their inquiry or sharpen their insights.

Dave posted a screencast that explains exactly how he uses this tool with his students. After I watched it I understood Diigo and started thinking about how it could be used with adult education students. So I clicked on Dave's icon and went to his home page, left a comment there, and sent a request to add him as a friend. I want to see what else he has discovered!

That's social networking. Steve Hargadon has also created another community on Ning to help teachers set up and use communities. Today I proposed a workshop for CATESOL on Social Networking for Professional Development. I swore I wasn't going to do more than one workshop next year, but this topic I couldn't resist. I have the privilege of having time to surf around and see what's new, and I see part of my job as sharing what I learn, so there you go. Leave me a comment if you like or use Diigo, of if you have other social bookmarking sites to share.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Will Google Be Replaced by a Different Kind of Search

I watched with interest Robert Scoble's video presentation about why Google and similar search engines will eventually be replaced by a "social networking" kind of search, like Mahalo, where real people locate and aggregate information, not algorithms. His idea is that there is so much gaming of Google by Search Engine Optimization (SEO), i.e. companies and bloggers trying to get links to their sites in order to make money from ads on their sites, that Google won't be able to stay ahead of the SEO people. But social networking is becoming so much more developed now that people will be able to use a network of people they trust to find the information they want. He uses Mahalo, Techmeme and Facebook as examples. It's interesting, the idea of a trusted network.

Twitter kind of works like that, too. I follow certain people on Twitter, not because I know them but because I've read their blog posts, or articles, or seen them on Twitter because other people that I'm following follow them. So if one of these people posts a link to something, I'm likely to follow it and see what they are talking about. That's how I saw Scoble's video, which isn't linked to anything, he says, except social networking ways of getting the word out, so you can't find them on Google.

It sounds possible to me. But his presentation has prompted a firestorm of controversy, with posts such as the one on Wired, trashing Scoble's ideas. Such are the ways of the blogosphere, I guess. I would prefer to have heated discussion without a lot of disrespect and namecalling, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wiki Scanner

There's been lots of press recently about this young German guy, Virgil Griffith, who created a program to figure out where anonymous wikipedia edits come from, Wiki Scanner. The results reveal many corporate and individual attempts to slant articles one way or another. For example, someone at Wal-Mart changed the line "Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20 percent less than at other retail stores" to "The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage."

Examples are listed from a Wired article linked off the Wiki Scanner page. There is also a link to a Stephen Colbert segment talking about Wiki Scanner, in which he calles Wikipedia "Second Life for corporations," i.e. corporations can create their fantasy of reality there.

Wouldn't this make a great lesson in critical thinking about wikipedia articles?!

WSJ Article about Google Docs for Homework

The Wall Street Journal is talking about parents helping kids with homework compositions even when they are in different states using Google Docs.

How did I hear about this? On Twitter!

Vokis from ESL Students

Kristi Reyes, who teaches VESL at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, is also a technology mentor, and does so many creative projects with her students. I discovered Vokis a few months ago and posted my Voki here. Kristi had her students create their own, and you can view them on her blog.

She has also posted student slideshows and other projects - definitely worth checking out for examples of how to integrate technology in the classroom.

Other great projects by Kristi:

  • Using Bubblr to create comic strips using Flickr photos. She links to an example that one of her students created to practice using a number of idioms.

  • Using Bookr to create a book for the end of her summer class, also using Flickr photos.

  • My favorite - she got tired of her students watching YouTube videos in the lab, so rather than banning YouTube, she created an assignment using Zentation where they had to write a description of the video, that plays as a set of slides coordinated with the video. This one cracked me up!

You can read Kristi's article in the MiraCosta ESL Newsletter. Scroll down to page 11.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The 15 Most Blogged Words

For some reason this struck me as very funny. Bloggers Blog reports about Oxford University Press monitoring 70,000 blogs to keep track of new words that should be added to their dictionaries. They also published this list of the 15 most frequently used words in blogs. You know that blogging is in a way a very personal and self-centered activity if three of the top six words are me, myself and my! What does it mean that the third word is stupid? I guess bloggers like to trash things, in the name of me, myself, and my personal opinion about everything in the universe. And - lovely? Must be a British thing.

15 Most Frequently Blogged Words
- blogger
- blog
- stupid
- me
- myself
- my
- oh
- yeah
- ok
- post
- stuff
- lovely
- update
- nice
- shit

Friday, August 17, 2007

100 (+35) Top Online Tools for Learning

This Web site surveyed 101 "learning professionals" about their favorite tools, and compiled a list of all those mentioned at least twice. The top four are Firefox,, Skype and Google Search. Most of the list is familiar to me, but there are some I need to check out. Compare this list to your list. Are there any you would add or delete?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Just came across this video by Lee Lefever explaining social bookmarking in simple terms. It could be a great aid to explaining Delicious and other sites (he mentions Magnolia and furl) to teachers, students and even your relatives who haven't experienced this approach yet.

I'm interested because we are currently working on converting the OTAN My Resources area from the old files and folders model to the new tags and tag clouds model, and should have this up soon. We have about 1,000 people who have saved links in their Resources area, and I anticipate that all will not be thrilled with the change, as all never are. Maybe we can send out a link to this video to help explain what social bookmarking is. What do you think?

He has posted some other videos too, like RSS in Plain English and Social Networking in Plain English. Check him out on YouTube or at the Common Craft Show.

Monday, August 06, 2007

What Makes Teachers Technology Users?

I'm in Ann Arbor this week for the Project IDEAL conference on distance learning in adult education. One advantage of traveling is time on the plane to read the stuff that piles up on your desk because you want to read it but you don't have time. This morning I read an interesting research article from the Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, by Peggy Ertmer of Purdue and two grad students, that surveyed 25 teachers who had won awards for using technology effectively in their learner-centered classrooms.

The goal was to find out what these teachers perceived as the supports to their success, and whether they thought intrinsic or extrinsic factors were more important. Extrinsic factors were things like access to computers, software, administrative support and tech support. Intrinsic factors were things like attitude towards technology, confidence and previous success with technology.

The interesting thing about the results was that teachers rated intrinsic factors as more important to their success than anything else. Even if they had limited computer or Internet access, or a lack of support from their administration, if they felt confident and committed, they found a way to overcome the barriers. So if you believe that using technology will help your students, and you have a strong commitment to helping your students, you will find a way to use technology in your classroom even if it is not well-supported in your program.

To me this indicates support for the mentoring model. Mentoring builds confidence and successful experiences with technology through support from a peer mentor. Workshops, seminars and conferences are great for introducing new ideas, and 76% of the teachers surveyed identified these as their preferred approaches to professional development. But workshops and conferences don't necessarily create positive attitude and commitment. Mentoring has a role to play in cheerleading, building confidence, analyzing challenges and celebrating successes.

The highest rated success factors were inner drive, personal beliefs, commitment and confidence. How do we build and support those qualities? There were differences between genders (good tech support was more important to women, and to teachers who had been teaching longer, perhaps because they were less familiar with the technology.)

I can't find the article online right now, maybe the ISTE server is having a hiccup, but I will keep trying.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Surface Computing

If you haven't watched this video about MicroSoft's surface computing project, you need to watch it. It's pretty amazing. Not available yet, and will start as a kiosk kind of thing for companies, but it will be interesting to see where it goes.

And after you've absorbed that information, watch this parody.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reading about Second Life

Recently someone asked me in an email about my activities in Second Life. I wish I did have time to hang out in SL and get used to the interface and explore all the educational things that are hatching there. But it's a time sink. I'm interested and curious, but it's hard to find the time to play with it.

I just read several blog posts by Sylvia Martinez about her experiences in Second Life. She was invited to join an educators group in SL, and went into it open but somewhat skeptical. She said she has been through many new interfaces that people think are going to revolutionize the way we think, including BBS's and Tapped In, and although some good things happen, there are still big limitations.

Her first post is considering what SL is in relation to education. Her second one related her first SL visit and the things she learned to do. The third reflects on the whole SL experience and why it isn't that revolutionary and doesn't allow learners to do much that they couldn't do in First Life, and since the interface is kind of clumsy, and fairly hard to learn, as she said it better be a really good learning project to justify spending the amount of time learners would have to spend just to learn to navigate around.

The counter-argument is that yes, SL is clumsy and bandwidth-intensive right now, but this is the direction the Internet is headed and pretty soon we will be doing everything via avatars and virtual environments. Well, she's right, it's going to have to be a much better and more intuitive interface than it is right now. But then, remember DOS?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


OK, this is cool! On SlideFlickr you can create a slideshow of all your Flickr photos, or a group or set in about 5 seconds. All you need is the URL of the group or set, paste it in and click Generate. This gives you a slide show, and also the code to paste the slideshow into your blog or web page. I did a few photos from camping last summer - Mono Lake and a campsite near Lee Vining.

Priorities for Adult Education Teachers

I recently received a newsletter reporting on a statewide (CA) survey of teachers that asked what their priorities were for professional development related to curriculum and instruction. Here's the result:

1. Effective Lesson Planning
2. Creating a Web Site for Your Class
3. Including Technology in the Classroom

OTAN is actually responding to each of these. We have the Lesson Plan Builder for online support of good lesson planning.

We have been offering workshops and information for several years on free and easy ways to create a class Web site. We have showed SchoolNotes, NiceNet and Yahoo Groups. Now we are offering teachers the opportunity to try out Blackboard or Moodle, very robust course management systems. For our "build Your Own Site" workshop, we used to train people on Geocities Pagebuilder, but we had so many problems with school district firewalls that we abandoned that. Now we are creating a workshop on using Google Page Creator, but it's so easy that we will add more content to fill up the 3 hours! I believe this will be the year that teachers really get into having their own class Web page. The early adopters will finally be able to spread some of their enthusiasm.

We are probably most focused on technology integration in the classroom. Last year we focused on Web 2.0 sites, blogging, podcasting, video editing, using Excel in teaching, audio card readers and electronic whiteboards. We are working on updating the Web home of our videos about technology integration, so that's coming soon.

I'm also working on an interesting project funded by the federal Dept. of Ed. AdultEd Online. Part of that project is to create an online self-assessment for teachers to determine their skills in technology integration, and users can build their own professional development plan based on their results. This tool is in beta right now, and will go live on August 31.

So, are we doing enough? No such animal, I guess. But it's exciting for me to see that adult education teachers are focusing more and more on technology. The possibilities are proliferating so fast, I see it as our task to sort through them and provide manageable chunks of useful information for teachers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Did you know...

This is an interesting video I got from David Warlick's blog, 2 cents worth. It has a lot of data about how the world is changing, and how fast. For example, if MySpace was a country, it would be the 8th largest country in the world. Could your students relate to this message?

David Warlick and ClustrMaps

Reading David Warlick's blog about Bernie Dodge's presentation in Vermont. He was talking about his formula for learning power, attention x depth x efficiency, which he also talked about last year at CUE. David Warlick's blog is interesting, but his ClustrMap is depressing. He has a million red dots all over the world, and I have about 3!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tech Support for an Old Technology

This video puts tech support in perspective. Someday we'll be laughing about the days when we needed a lot of tech support for computers (I hope!)

Draggable Driving Directions

Have you ever gotten driving directions on MapQuest or another mapping site, and then you didn't want to go the way it told you to go? Google Maps has added some very useful features to address just this problem. Now you can drag your route, add stops, change the order of the stops by dragging them up or down. Here's a video that shows how it works.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Some Quotes

I'm trying to catch up on email today, and finding some quotes, about technology and about literacy, that I want to keep. Here are 3.

Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.
--Albert Einstein

I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
--Stephen Jay Gould, 1980

Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe.
--Kurt Vonnegut, in Hocus Pocus, 1990

Thursday, June 28, 2007


My workshop at the CASAS Summer Institute covered a bunch of things - the OTAN website, the technology integration self-assessment for teachers (only in beta right now - email me if you want to be a beta tester), blogs and podcasts, and 3 pieces of equipment (audio card reader, portable keyboard, and electronic whiteboard). The highpoint (to me) was having participants call in to my channel on Gabcast and record a message that I could then play as a podcast when they got back from break. This is such an easy way for students to post audio - great for speaking activities, and pretty much everyone has a cell phone now. You can go here to listen to the examples we made yesterday.

AND, I did my presentation from a wiki for the first time - no more PowerPoint!! Not as pretty, but if I have more time I can work on that.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Centralized Voicemail

Someone sent me this link to Grand Central, an online service that gives you one lifetime phone number that all your phones can ring to. In other words, my home land line, my work phone, my work cell and my personal cell would all send their voice mails to this number. And, I could have all calls go to the number I choose. So when I'm traveling, all calls could go to my cell. When I'm at work, all calls could go to my work phone. It sounds like a great idea for those of us with too many phone numbers. But it's in beta right now, so I'm wondering if it will grow and how long it will last.

Has anyone else heard of or used this service?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My New Voki

Get a Voki now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Urban Reading Teacher

Barry's blog led me to another adult education blog by Delondra Williams, called Adventures of an Urban Reading Teacher. Delondra teaches ABE in Los Angeles, and has blogged almost every school night since she started her blog in May, reflecting on her lessons, her students, her CASAS scores, and more. Great example of teacher self-reflection, and she feels like blogging connects her to the larger teaching community, as her fellow teachers leave comments on her posts.

ESL Technology Blog

Just got a message from Barry Bakin that he is reviving his Tech4ESL blog. Barry teaches ESL Level 5 in the LA area. I'm happy to see more adult education teachers blogging about their classroom experiences and use of technology. His latest post is about Bubblr and class projects adding text bubbles to photos. He has some funny examples - check them out.

Monday, May 28, 2007

File Conversion

Zamzar supposedly will convert many different file types, including video. I haven't tried it yet, but I read about it on someone's twitter. They converted two word docs to pdfs on the site and it worked perfectly. How convenient is that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

If Class Were Like a Chat

This video is meant to show how inefficient online chat is. It's pretty funny.

Pay Attention

This slide show is a harangue about technology infusion. The tone is kind of self-righteous and therefore annoying, but there are some good points such as about using cell phones in instruction. My favorite line: "It's not attention deficit, I'm just not listening!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Music Podcast

Click here to get your own player.

Steve Gwynne, a VESL teacher in San Diego, did a workshop for a few fellow teachers on using Audacity to make sound files. They each answered the question "What kind of music do you like?" and played a short music clip. He made their files into a podcast for his students, and added a quiz.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Heard about this site today from the Webheads. It's an online brainstorming site, where you can create diagrams, link them together any way you want, and share the process with other users. I don't have any other users to try it out with on this Sunday afternoon, and anyway I'm supposed to be going to the grocery store right now or there will be no dinner. But email me if you want to try it.

If Class Were Like a Chat

I found this video on the Webheads Convergence. It shows how teaching would be if the classroom were run like a chat room. It's pretty funny.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Webheads Convergence

The Webheads in Action Online Convergence is almost over, happening May 18-20! There were keynotes, blogs, chats, etc. They are using a lot of different tools for communication, including Twitter, Learning Times, Tapped In and Knowplace. So even just going to their site and signing up for the various tools they are using is an education in itself. I hate to say it, but there were some that I already had accounts for but had totally forgotten. Just too many things to cram into the old brain.

This morning I attended part of a presentation on Personal Learning with Web 2.0 that used and audio stream, and Yugma to show the slides. I also tried to attend a session in Second Life, but I think I was too late. I'm not doing too well at converting GMT to PDT! It seems there is so much happening in Second Life and education these days, I would like to get on top of it, but there's a steeper learning curve than for a lot of other things, and I haven't managed to make the time yet. I was happy that I found the Webheads hut where they hang out, even though most people were gone already.

Did anyone else catch part of the convergence? Leave a comment and let me know what you participated in and how it was.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Some Reflections on TIMAC

We just finished up the third year of the OTAN Technology Integration Mentor Academy. It was a great two days, with presentation by cohort 3 on Thursday, and cohort 2, the second year people who are finished now, on Friday. It worked out really well having 7 minute presentations, much easier to sit through 15 in a row, and the information was more succinct too.

So much has come out of this experience. It really feels like we are beginning to have some effect on the field. There are more and more tech presentations at conferences like CCAE, and many of them are by TIMAC participants or mentors. They are also networking with each other more, and even beginning to do workshops at each others' sites.

Leila Rosemberg said one of the outcomes of TIMAC for her was being showered with admiration and appreciation. It made me laugh, but it's so important, too. The teachers who have come to TIMAC have experienced a lot of benefits that come from being seen as a leader. They didn't start out thinking of themselves that way, but through technology mentoring they have affected their programs and their administrators notice.

Another observation someone made is that "there is an alarming acceleration in the number of things I know nothing about." I loved that line too, and I can relate!

Overall, there were some wonderful applications of technology, such as podcasting and creating of student orientation videos and powerpoints. It seemed that there were quite a lot of powerpoint projects, which was a little frustrating. But I always need to be reminded of where our teachers are, overall. They are not tech-friendly, for the most part, and sometimes very resistant. So powerpoint is a good place to start for them.

The other thing is the number of creating teaching strategies you can implement with powerpoint. Using sound and video, one teacher got the script of her video to scroll in ppt in time with the video - pretty good!

And I felt that the participants are being good advocates for both their students and their mentees. Branka should be very proud of her work in putting this together, and I am too!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More on Maps

Larry Ferlazzo pointed out that there are a number of mapping sites, including Google Maps, (Click on My Maps)which has some nice examples of projects, like a historical guide to Route 66. Here is a student project by one of his ESOL high school students.

Other map sites he recommends to his students are Microsoft Virtual Earth, Continento, Wayfaring, QuickMaps, Click2Map,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I got an email from a person in Dublin who has created a mapping site, like TinyMap, where you can create your own map, save it online, link to it, and also easily embed it in your blog or anywhere else online. The site is called Useamap. I made a map of where OTAN is. Unfortunately, the satellite photo is old, so there is only a vacant lot where our offices now stand, but hopefully that won't be the case for your school or community! Our building is quite new.

This could be a nice activity for anything that involves mapping, distances, math, community information, etc. You can also add notes, directions, comments and photos (although I couldn't get the photos to work.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Blogs and Podcasts at CCAE

Branka Marceta gave a wonderful workshop at the California Council on Adult Education conference on blogs and podcasts in adult ed. She asked people to call GabCast on their cell phones before the workshop started, and then played the resulting podcasts at the end. You can click on an example on the blog she set up for the workshop.

She also added a video of the evening activity, which included feeding giraffes at the Fresno zoo!

Friday, May 04, 2007

TIMAC Videoconference

Last week the third annual TIMAC videoconference was held, including about 15 people at 6 sites. None of the schools have access to videoconferencing equipment yet, but several are considering purchases. I'm really hoping that by next year there will be at least two schools that can do a collaborative project with students using videoconferencing.

Again this year we visited Ano Nuevo State Park where they have a webcam on the beach to observe the elephant seals. It's fun for the participants, and one thought about how it might fit into adult education is community awareness. For example, the teacher from Fresno, Susan Guzzetta, said that a lot of their students have never been outside of the central valley, so here would be their chance to see the beach, and some of the state parks - the next best thing to being there.

CCAE Conference in Fresno

The first day of the California Council on Adult Education was today. I was at the TIMAC (Technology Integration Mentor Academy) panel, and all panelists did a great job. We really are creating a community of practice, as Branka said, or at least a corps of ed tech professionals in adult education. Stories from Tulare, San Gabriel and Fresno confirmed that technology integration is a collaborative effort. Having a supportive administrator is crucial, and so is having a good relationship with the tech support guys. I want to make a video about the Pixley project. Tom Elwood told a great story about this tiny farming town south of Tulare, very poor, very low education levels in general, where a grant from AT&T, secured by a community organization, is providing wireless for the whole town, and laptops to the parents of any sixth grader in Pixley, if the complete a computer class. What a great story! The parents are gratuating and receiving their laptops in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life of a Digital Native

I saw this cartoon on Vicki Davis's CoolCatTeacher blog. It reminded me how different life is for our children (and in some cases, grandchildren) than it was for us. It used to be if you did something embarrassing you thought you would die if some of your friends saw it. Now the whole world can see!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How My Reading Habits Have Changed

Larry Ferlazzo passed on the meme asking about what magazines I read, and how my reading habits have changed over the last year.

First of all, my reading habits have changed a lot! I was actually thinking about that today and wondering if I should be sad about it. I used to read books, especially literary novels. I think the last one I read was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, which I loved. Now I have a couple of books started, including Snow by Orhan Pamuk, but I don't read extended texts the way I used to. I go through periods when I only read magazines, which I never used to do before. And the magazines I read have changed.

Larry mentioned the New Yorker. I used to read it, and my idea of a great vacation day is still sitting at the kitchen table or outside in the sun and reading the New Yorker from cover to cover, but I just don't have time to do it any more. I finally even quit subscribing. There are a lot of magazines I used to get that I don't get any more. The ones I still get are Newsweek, Cooking Light, and Wired. I love to see each one of them in my mailbox.

The magazines I read at work are Learning and Leading with Technology, and lately I've been finding good articles in Computers in Libraries (Librarians are getting into Second Life!)

There are tons of other publications that come across my desk and that I try to keep up with, including eSchool News. Also journals of professional organizations I belong to.

But the biggest change is that I listen to podcasts more than I read. I listen to TWiT and Buzz Out Loud to keep up with technology, and I just started listeing to EdTechTalk, a great podcast on ed tech topics. And then I listen to Fresh Air and This American Life, both of which I love, and a bunch of other ones about books and authors.

When I think about all there is to read, listen to, watch and learn, I want to quit work right now so I can absorb it all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


What a great conference! I didn't get to go to many presentations because of my own workshops and helping with the Electronic Village, but I thought the EV was really great this year - 3 labs, and busy all the time! Next year in Sacramento will be even better!

It really feels like we've turned a corner with technology. It's no longer a new, exotic topic that a few are enthusiastic about and the rest pay no attention to. There were 53 technology presentations, 26 related to adult education or presented by adult educators. Many workshops on using PowerPoint in the classroom, and on Audacity and other sound recording options for creating podcasts and various online listening activities. I would say sound was the big tech topic this year.

The evening presentation on the lost boys from Sudan was wonderful. What an incredible story those young men have - horrifying, but for those who survived, a true triumph of the spirit. It was inspiring.


I've been looking for ed tech podcasts to listen to while I'm traveling, at the gym, etc. Branka turned me on to this one, EdTechTalk. It's K12 teachers, not adult educators, but they are very enthusiastic explorers of technology, and host 5 or 6 shoes a week. You can log on and participate in their chat rooms during the shows, or subscribe and listen to the shows later. Lots of good information, references to other Web sites. It's interesting to hear what techie teachers are thinking about and experimenting with.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CATESOL Starts Tomorrow!

Getting ready for my Web 2.0 session with Donna Price on 4/13. I only have 25 minutes, so have to really condense. It feels like so much has changed even since February, the last time I did this workshop. I'm showing Web2.0Slides, a slide show of over 1400 Web 2.0 slides. Gives some perspective on how fast this sector is growing.

Here are my workshops:

Using Technology to Transcend Borders
Friday at 11
Towne Room

TELL Interest Group Colloquium
(TELL = Technology-Enhanced Language Learning)
Friday 2:30 to 4
Brittany Room

OTAN Online Resources for ESL Teachers
Saturday at 11:15
Terrace Salon 2

Create Your Lesson Plans Online!
Saturday 1:30 to 3
Salon 4

Monday, April 09, 2007

Using Google Calculator to Teach Math

Here is a message from Margaret Rogers. Margaret is an adult educator and GED specialist in California who is also on the board of COABE. She learned about Google Calculator at a workshop at the CA Technology and Distance Learning Symposium. Google calculator isn't a separate tool, but a collection of calculations you can make using the search box. Here's how Margaret used what she learned:

I just wanted you to know that I did win the contest at my athletic club for National Nutrition Month by guessing the number of popcorn kernels in a plastic container. There were 7735, and I guessed 7188 using the skills you taught me with the Google calculator going from cubic inches to cups in a second! I won the container of kernels and a cool sweatshirt.

I also used the Google calculator to calculate some of the items for my Mathematics of Oil presentation for COABE. I was sharing it with my participants, and not one of them (26) knew about the Google calculator. I will be incorporating it into all of the math workshops I do from now on.

Thanks for your help.


Another Cartoon Site - ToonDoo

There seem to be a lot of these cartoon sites now. This one was quick and easy to use, and you can upload your own photos too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Twitter: Take Two

Ok, I wrote a few days ago about Twitter that I don't get it - why would I want to get updates constantly about what my friends are doing? But...I got kind of addicted to twittering anyway. It's interesting to see what people are doing, people like Leo Laporte or Veronica Belmont, whose podcasts I've been listening to, and people like Jason Calacanis and Anil Dash who I know hardly anything about but I discovered them through looking at other people's friend lists, or at twitterholic which shows who has the most followers on Twitter.

These people post what they're doing, which is often flying somewhere or having sushi with someone, which is not important unless you're friends with them, but they also post links to their blogs, or blogs of others that they are thinking about, or links to conferences they are attending, and, following those links, I learn things.

Tonight, after a day of work on budgets and getting ready for CATESOL next week, and then a couple of hours of dancing, I came home and sat down to print my boarding pass, etc., and ended up checking my Twitter account, following a few links, reading about tags, about Ajax, about supporting the people of Uganda, and about the relationship between science and culture. I'm liking this! It feels like a time of intellectual ferment and development. These times seem to come and go in life. Maybe I've been missing that.

New Blog for ESOL Learners

Clarissa Ryan had a couple of students who were going back to Korea and asked her how they could keep improving their English. She started to share links with them for free online learning resources. She is just getting started, but I think this will take off. She has some good links to sites for creating cartoons, one that let's you use your own digital photos. Here is a comic strip she made with Comeeko.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

TeacherTube and MLoTS

Viral video is taking over the world, even the world of teaching! It seems like a few months ago we were talking about Barry Burkett's video of his ESL class posted on YouTube, and now suddenly there is such a proliferation of teacher-made videos! The adult education version, being developed by David Rosen and Friends, Media Library of Teaching Skills, is in its beginning stages, with two videos posted currently of an ABE vocabulary lesson. But there are plans to train teachers all over the country to videotape each other, and to enlist states to link their state adult ed standards to video examples.

Another example I found today is TeacherTube, a YouTube for teachers. It contains only teacher- and student-made videos illustrating the teaching and learning of many concepts in many different content areas. There is no reason that adult education videos couldn't be uploaded here. I had a technical problem that I have to figure out, my uploading video got timed out, but I'll try it again from home. It's amazing to see the energy and creativity that is going into this work!

Mainstream Media Picks Up on Ed Tech

A few weeks ago I posted about a story in the San Diego paper on ed tech in universities. This morning in the Sacramento paper there is a front page story on using technology in K12, featuring a high school teacher who uses Google Earth to have his students look at locations of Shakespeare plays such as Cyprus and Venice (Othello), and YouTube videos of Shakesperean actors.

It's encouraging that the mainstream media is picking up on ed tech stories. We need to work on getting adult education into the mix.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reflections on MySpace and Twitter

Boy, am I getting old! I spent an hour on the phone with my son Larry tonight, getting him to give me the MySpace addresses of his friends so I could see what young people are doing. It's all about sex, drugs and rock and roll, as we used to say, and I guess we used to say that for a reason, but it seems so long ago now...

I created a MySpace page just to see what it was like, but I don't have time to add my favorite music, music video, and get 1200 "friends" to link to me. It seems that collecting friends is like collecting pogs was when my son was 9.

And here's another one I don't get - Twitter. You can post a short sentence about what you're doing once a minute if you want to. I'm posting on my blog. I'm sitting in the recliner with my cat. I'm talking on the phone. Does anyone care?? I'm definitely missing something here, as this is quite a popular site at the moment. It's all about being connected. As the Dalai Lama says, we all want to be loved and we all want to be happy, and they go together. We are herd animals, and we like to feel connected to, even enveloped by, our group. Ah well, I guess I'm turning into an old curmudgeon.

Instant Video

My colleague Branka was at TESOL in Seattle, where she recorded a short video of the a presentation in the Electronic Village, and posted it on Google video. It makes me realize how we are more and more able to see what others are doing almost instantly from anywhere in the world.

What can adult learners do with Google video or YouTube? Already teachers are videoing each other and posting videos, for the MLoTS project (Media Library of Teaching Skills). The idea of this project is to train teachers to video each other, create short clips (10 min. max) of specific teaching techniques tied to standards or best practices, and make these available in a searchable database.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ask a Ninja Defines Podcasting

Branka sent me the link to this very funny episode of Ask a Ninja!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Google

This 2-page Google cheat sheet lists every Google service, large services owned by Google such as Picasa and Blogger, and how to search for a UPS tracking number, a vehicle VIN number or a patent number.

TalkShoe and TinyMap

I've been having fun preparing for my Web 2.0 presentation at the adult education Technology and Distance Learning Symposium on Feb. 20-22 in Sacramento, and finding all kinds of new social networking sites. One is TalkShoe, that lets you call in and create a podcast with as many other people as you like, save the audio file and make it available as a podcast.

Another fun one was TinyMap, a site that let's you create your own map, put routes and markers on it, and save it with its own URL. For example, here is a map of my daily walk in Florida Canyon from my old house.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wikipedia Has Links to Public Domain Graphics

Jeff Carter posted this on his blog. Wikipedia has a good collection of sites containing public domain art, clip art and photos that can be used on Web sites or elsewhere.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ways that College Teachers and Students Use Technology

Here are the numbers that were included in the article mentioned in the previous post.

Educator-related activities:
- 78 percent of professors use email to supplement or supplant office hours
- 55 percent provide hyperlinks within their online syllabuses to provide more resources
- 54 percent post their handouts and/or slide presentations
- 42 percent have Web sites or similar tools available for individual courses

Student-course related activities:
- 77 percent research their school assignments online
- 74 percent check their grades online
- 51 percent complete their class assignments online
- 49 percent look up assignments from instructors

Other student activities:
- 90 percent send or receive email
- 68 percent check the weather forecast online
- 66 percent send or receive online instant messages
- 60 percent check out someone's online profile

Reporter: Eleanor Yang Su, San Diego Union-Tribune
Sources: Campus computing Project Survey, Dec. 2006, Student Monitor spring 2006 lifestyle and media study

Technology used by college students

I was in San Diego last weekend, and the Sunday paper had a front page article about educational technology and college students. It talks about the ways that today's college students are comfortable multi-tasking during class and elsewhere, and how professors are using technology to provide information and to keep students engaged. Students are online on their laptops - taking notes, IMing their friends, checking their MySpace profile, and sending text messages on their cell phones - all during class. Teachers are providing clickers for students to wirelessly submit answers to questions during class, with the results displayed instantaneously.

All this reinforces the importance of including technology skills as part of basic literacy. Adult education students who transition to higher ed will be lost without some of these skills. Teachers and students alike assume that students are online, and can do research, get and submit their assignments, communicate with the teacher, and check their grades online.

The article included some numbers that also raise questions for adult educators. These somehow didn't make it onto the web version, but the reporter was kind enough to email them to me.

78 % of professors use email to communicate with students. What percent of adult education teachers do this? And what percent of adult ed students? We will have more of an answer to questions like this after the student computer surveys that are part of the technology plans are submitted, but the last results I saw were that 40 percent of teachers communicate with students at least once in a while using email (78 precent for college teachers), and 10 percent maintain a class web page (42 percent for college classes). Actually, these adult ed numbers are pretty high compared to what one might expect, but we also have a long way to go.