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.