RSS Ideas For Educators

RSS Ideas For Educators:

Quentin D’Souza has put together a presenation called RSS Ideas For Educators. He’s giving the presentation twice; at the Leading Learning 2006 Conference in February and again at the 2006 ECOO Conference (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) in May.

He used a wiki to draft the document and has now copied the whole thing into a pdf file that you can download (RSS Ideas for Educators 1.0). It’s an incredible compilation of concrette applications of RSS technology in education. I was flattered that he included some of my work in the links he mentions.

If anyone has been asking you about RSS in education this will make a great companion volume to Will‘s guide. Drop Quentin a line and let him know what you think.

(Via A Difference.)

A Difference is a blog I can definitely recommend to educators and educational technologists, and this post relates directly to many of the “Read/Write Web for Educators” workshops we have put on at the OCDE and through our Custom Training Program. I also just subscribed to Teaching Hacks, where the original post and RSS guide appears.

NESTA Futurelab – About us – MORI poll press release

NESTA Futurelab – About us – MORI poll press release:

Poll investigating teachers’ attitudes to mainstream computer games has revealed that 59% would consider using them in the classroom for educational purposes. The willingness of respondents to use computer games was reflected in the fact that almost one third have already used them in their classroom.

(Via Google News – Games Education.)

This is interesting data coming out of NESTA Futurelab. This may be explained at least in part by how many new teachers might be considered digital natives. At the very least it might represent the fact that the games generation is now filling teaching positions. I’d be interested in similar data for US teachers, or Orange County teachers at any rate… I suppose I could make that happen.

Thoughts on the Mars Edit Solution

Now that I see it, I am actually not sure how I feel about combining annotated referrals with my original content on Educational Technology and Life. It feels as if some things aught to just go away into a FURL archive. I’ve always been happy that this was a reliable source of actual original content, even if the posting was a bit sporadic. Perhaps I will use this feed only for elements I have a substantial response to.

However, if I am to follow the model set by Scripting News, which I really enjoy reading – both for the brief posts and the substantial ones, perhaps I should include my brief reactions to more referrals here after all. Perhaps I’ll try it for a week. :)

Most importantly, what say you, readers? Anyone have an opinion to share?

Also, anyone have any suggestions for categories or tags in blogger? Or suggestions for importing MSN Spaces or FURL items into blogger? (Or alternatively, any suggestions for importing my blogger items into another tool altogether that could handle all of this?)

Thanks for reading. :)

How video games have become far more than play – USA Today

How video games have become far more than play – USA Today

USA Today
How video games have become far more than play
USA Today’-42 minutes ago
Heather Chaplin and Aaron Rubys Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution, looks at how the video game industry grew to be so massive.

(Via Google News – Science Fiction.)

I sat next to Heather Chaplin during the opening keynote of the Serious Games Summit in DC. This is an article about her book.

Reading Planet for Kids

Reading Planet for Kids

(Via Furl – The ewagner Archive.)

This is a site Eva FURLed… so it showed up in my feed reader, NetNewsWire. I clicked “Post to Weblog” and via Mars edit I was able to compose this annotation. This is one step shorter than opening the site in my browser to FURL it!

Very cool! This definitely solves my frequency of posting to the blog problem. The only FURL functionality I lose so far is categories. Maybe these custom tags can help… no that seems to be html. I’ll keep playing…

EdTech @ OCDE | Front Page

EdTech @ OCDE | Front Page: “Please join Apple for a FREE technology seminar…”

If you’re in Orange County, and a Mac user, consider attending this at the OCDE on Tuesday.
Note: This is also serving as a test of the Mars Edit bookmarklet for saving and annotating a site directly to blogger. Grr. Now what about categories?

Mars Edit is a solution?

So, based on my last post… and the fact that Eva is still working away on her Houghton Mifflin Technology Wiki right now, I thought it was time to check out Mars Edit again. I use and am very happy with NetNewsWire as my RSS Reader.

Mars Edit allows me to compose blog posts and then post them directly to this blog. It also comes with a bookmarklet that allows me to send a site straight into the editor for annotation. I’ll test that next. Naturally, it also works with NetNewsWire, so that I can annotate and post anything in my feeds!

This is what I’ve been looking for! Amazing I didn’t realize it earlier.

Now, how do I get trackbacks with blogger? ;)

Lev S. Vygotsky, The Read/Write Web, and Video Games in Education

As part of the research for my current KAM on principles of societal development (tentatively titled “Social Constructivist Theory and Digital Game-Based Learning “) I’ve spent the week reading Vygotsky. In keeping with my new highly prioritized and highly structured weekly schedule (a result of well thought out new years resolutions), I have really kept my head down in the books – thus the lack of posts before tonight. (Those serious “and Life” issues I keep alluding to have higher priority now, too!)

There is much I wish I could take the time to blog about Vygotsky, but I will limit this for now. However, today’s reading turned up the following quote from The Essential Vygotsky, which I thought was particularly relevant here.

“The simplest example of the transition from direct to mediated functions may be the transition from involuntary remembering and remembering that is guided by the sign. Primitive man, having first made some kind of external sign in order to remember some event passed in this way into a new form of memory. He introduced external, artificial means with which he began to manage the process of his own remembering. Study shows that the whole path of historical development of man’s behavior consists of a continuous perfecting of such means and of the development of new devices and forms of mastering his own mental operations.” (p. 472)

It is not difficult to extrapolate these remarks made in reference to the written and printed word to include computers and the Internet. Most importantly, I think the read/write web, and blogs in particular, may represent the current pinnacle of this trend in societal development. Blogs can serve as as your back up brain, and services like FURL are designed to do just that. Nevermind that if I post/store/share my thoughts on this blog, I can benefit from the feedback and comments of other readers!

Too, Vygotsky places a good deal of emphasis on the cognitive development of an individual being largely due to an internalization of social constructs. In terms of my personal experience, I can feel blogging (and FURLing etc) changing the way I think in my own mind. I reflect more readily (and in small doses), with a focus on making a judgement or synthesizing a new thought. Too, I miss being able to share my thoughts in order to receive comments and feedback.

Incidentally, I have long been disappointed that my FULR archive and feed has been separate from this blog’s feed… and just today it finally occurred to me that FURL does not support comments (except for a members only email comment system, it turns out). I tend to annotate the sites I FURL, and have been FURLing in a way that is much more like blogging lately. I’m considering abandoning FURL and bring that content here… both for the comments and for cohesion of my online presence. However I really appreciate the one click FURL button on my browser. Does anyone have an idea how I might combine this functionality with blogger? Or is it time for me to move to real blogging software with categories and a client interface? If so, does anyone have any suggestions, particularly systems that might be able to import my blogger and FURL material (and maybe even my old MSN material)?

Naturally, I also see video games (and simulations), particularly serious games or educational games, as a part of this progression toward mastering (or, rather, improving upon) our own mental operations. In addition, games and simulations can certainly be used to closely observe students in the way Vygotsky advocates, and then to offer students challenges placed squarely in their zone of proximal development in order that instruction might lead the way to greater cognitive development. (I was particularly struck by Vygotsky’s notion that instructing to a student’s strengths can have the opposite effect – it can encourage a student to remain at the current or previous developmental state! It follows that we should address their weaknesses, while remaining in their ZPD for that weakness, in order to help them grow and progress.)

Before I wrap up here, I do also want to mention that Vygotsky’s take on the relationship between life and education is very like Dewey’s and also makes me increasingly happier about the title of this blog. I also appreciate his philosophies on the role of the teacher, and the teacher as a creative force in society. :)

Finally, in addition to being sure to spend more hours on my research each week, I realized I needed to work more efficiently as well if I am to complete my dissertation this calendar year. (I hope to walk in January 2007, though administrative timelines may postpone this until July 2007). So, sadly, I have committed myself to avoiding the temptation to read anything cover to cover and to read anything not directly related to my current project. Surprisingly, this feels more like reading RSS feeds and doing research online!

In any case, here are the books I plowed through this week:

Dixon-Krauss, L. (1996). Vygotsky in the classroom: media literacy instruction and assessment. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers.

Rieber, R. W. & Robinson, D. K. (Eds.). (2004). The essential Vygotsky. New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers.

Tryphon, A. & Voneche, J. (Eds). (1996). Piaget – Vygotsky. UK: Psychology Press.

Mooney, C. G. (2000). An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, & Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1997). Educational psychology. Boca Raton, Florida: St. Lucie Press.

Vygotsky, L. (1986) Thought and language. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Moblogging with gMail

Google’s gMail service now has a mobile version optimized for handhelds. This is great news for me because I can now access my gmail on my blackberry nearly as well as I can access my OCDE mail (which, btw, is now, mercifully, Exchange based instead of Lotus Notes based).

Sitting here in the backyard in my bathing suit reading in the sun inspired me to finally try moblogging with gMail. Sorry to all those
in snow country… personally, I already miss what little winter we had in Orange County.

Yikes! Length is limited!