Working with 7-8 Teachers at Salem

I’m back at Salem, this time with the middle school teachers. I’m asking them the same questions I asked the k-2 folks on Tuesday (participant responses are in italics):

  1. What is a blog? A conversation… a journal… anyone can write one… its a bit informal compared to other forms of writing… a form of communication with a group of people.
  2. What is the read/write web? creating the internet yourself… you’re updating it… you can modify what other write… wikipedia’s an example… we have few ideas/examples here… but their website is one – but they have control.
  3. What might these technologies mean for your students? Students can see different points of view at one location… if they are writing – they have to be able to express their thoughts… it’s more about internalizing and applying what they’ve learned – they’re actually producing something.

This is a great start, and we’re off to the races with a new group…

Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs (CUE Tips Submission)

This is another new session I submitted as a 20 minute CUE Tips session at the upcoming CUE Conference in March. While these three tools could easily fill an hour on their own, I figured a discussion of which to use when might make a great quick preso for beginners and experts alike. We’ll see if the session readers agree, but in the meantime, I’d love your thoughts and feedback (and questions) on this.


Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs: Which one is right for your lesson?


Why use a wiki when you have a blog? When should you use Google Docs instead of a wiki? This session will clear up your confusion and free your creativity.


This session will begin with a clear definition and example of each two-way web technology: blogs, wikis, and Google Docs. Participants will then learn the strengths and weakness of each, complete with demonstrations to illustrate each point. Finally, the presenter will run through a variety of classroom scenarios, recommend an appropriate solution (or two) for each, and justify the choices made. Participants will leave with links to many more educational examples. (The whole abstract appears here, but here’s the pdf anyway: BlogsWikisGoogleDocs.pdf)

Has anyone already done something like this. I imagine someone more “chart” inclined than me must’ve already thrown something together. Any leads?

UPDATE: Doug Johnson asked his readers to clarify when they use Wikis and when they use Google Docs… it got quite a response and it seems there is a need for a session like this.

Twitter Me This (CUE Tips Submission)

Last year, CUE experimented with a new shorter presentation format (in addition to the usual 1 hour sessions). This year, these shorter sessions were an option in the formal submission process:

CUE Tips

These quick, 20-minute presentations focus on emerging and existing innovations to enhance learning, productivity, or understanding. They should be noncommercial, brief, and focus on one or two tips, techniques, or resources. They will be recorded for the CUE podcast feed.

Several of the submissions ideas I am most excited about this year I wound up submitting as CUE tips sessions. The one I’m most excited about, and the one that that seems most appropriate to be a ultra-short session is this… think others would be excited?


Twitter Me This: Join a Global Learning Community & Feel Good About It


It’s a blog, it’s an IM… no it’s Twitter – more efficient than email or RSS! Learn to connect with others, discover resources, and share what you’re doing using “social microblogging.”


TwitterMeThis.pdf (1 Page)

As you can see, there is a lot of room to add specifics to the detailed outline of the workshop (if it gets accepted – or if I get to do it elsewhere). Others have definitely written more than I have about using Twitter in education – not to mention those who have been enterprising enough to try it with their students. If any of you have recommendations about what I could (or should) include in the workshop… or any great examples, please let me know. Too, if there’s anything I’ve got wrong in the abstract (or if you have a different perspective) let me know. I look forward to any feedback you might leave. :)

Blog Workshop at Salem School in Orange

I’m here with k-2 teachers, who are learning to use blogs as part of the ramp-up to a 1:1 laptop program next year. I’m asking these three familiar questions (as usual, participant responses are in italics):

1. What is a blog? a journal, a log on the web, it’s interactive, communication tool…

2. What is the read/write web? a blog? the ability to comment back on what you just read…

3. What might these technologies mean for you and your students? communication… a way to develop writing skills, a way to keep in touch when outside the classroom, a place to exchange ideas…

So, they’ve got some great ideas off the bat, and we’re off to the races.

Be An Edublogger (CUE Submission)

Eva and I have a baby due February 5th, so even though I’m hoping to be able to attend the CUE conference in Palm Springs four weeks later, I’ve been avoiding any commitments at the conference (or at least those without a solid plan B). Then, to my surprise, Eva put in a few submissions to present at CUE… four weeks after she gives birth! Well, I figure if she’s hoping to be there, I might as well put in a few submissions myself.

So, with my proposal safely away on Saturday morning – and Saturday being the (official) deadline to submit, I set about trying to dream up some new session topics in the afternoon.

I usually focus on what teachers can do with their students and present the benefits to the teacher as an additional bonus. One idea that really appealed to me was helping teachers to not only use blogs with their students, but to purposefully become a contributing member of the edublogosphere. I suspect most attendees won’t be interested in this – and those who are interested may be perfectly capable of teaching themselves, but there might just be a small cross-section of teachers who are ready for the next step and hungry to be empowered. Think this will attract any attendance?


Be An Edublogger: Tools and Tips for Joining A Global Learning Community


Read, write, reflect, and respond! Hundreds of educators around the world connect and learn using their blogs – and anyone can join them. Discover tools and tips to help you contribute.


BeAnEdublogger.pdf (1 Page)

I’d love any input you all can offer. I recognize there’s an element of hubris in even presuming I can lead a session like this, so I hope it’s seen simply as an attempt to humbly pass on something that has worked for me – and I hope I can include ideas that have worked for others as well. So, is there anything I’ve misrepresented? What have I missed? And what works for you?

Link: Wikis in the classroom

Wikis in the classroom (Via elearnspace.) I often hear teachers talk about wanting to delete their blog or wiki (or whatever) so that the next year’s students can’t benefit from the previous year. I usually try to temper my “what!? Why would you do that!?” reaction a bit and try to convince them to leave the existing resources online… and to give assignments where the work of others would benefit not undermine the assignment. In any case, here George Siemens linked to Clarence Fisher saying that the most valuable thing about wikis is that “they allow students to see what their peers have done over the past years as part of the mandated curriculum. Students make connections with students from the past and also build on their knowledge, seeing each other as legitimate sources of information and learning.” I like that approach.

Link: School 180 | 180 Days to Change How We Think About School

School 180 | 180 Days to Change How We Think About School (Via Chris Walsh of Infinite Thinking Machine, NECC Live, CUE Live, and Epoch Learning.) Chris Walsh, our innovative leader over at the ITM has started a fantastic new project. He’ll be on a daily blogging regimen for the next six months… he’s got 180 days to change how we think about school. He’s started with a few poems, and there’s plenty of video content, so stay tuned…

Away… Training, Commenting, and Contributing (Plus the Blogging Process)

I’ve been busy training face-to-face this summer, which has resulted in something of a slow down in posting to this blog. As I noted on twitter* the other night, “the more I contribute face-to-face, the less I contribute online.” I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

I have, however, been inspired by recent face-to-face experiences and I have more to write than I’ll ever get around to. Still, I hope to have some posts up in coming weeks (especially when things slow down for me in September) about such things as: my experience filming another video with the Orange County Department of Education (complete with teleprompters – and is that a 21st century skill? Or has it’s time come and gone?), my experience leading an intro to Tablet PC workshop after a year with a pilot project, and my experiences leading Blogging workshops… in Blackboard.

Now, strangely, when I find myself with an evening free to blog (Eva’s at a cooking class and I have no workshop tomorrow – though I’ll be back to working on Walden, CUE, and catching up at my desk), instead of jumping in and writing posts, my RSS feeds are pulling me away. I’ll never get through the 1200+ posts in my aggregator (even skimming them) at this rate. I keep commenting on blogs and contributing to wikis. But it feels good. I’ve always felt a little inadequate compared to some edubloggers who seem to comment and contribute all over creation. I think there’s a lot to say for contributing to other’s work and leaving comments (other than trackbacks from your own blog). And of course, wikis don’t work without contributors.

Obviously, the pull of the blog has brought me back for this on-the-fly reflective post. I suppose it’s yet another example of the quintessential blogging process. Will would say that true blogging begins with reading something, includes a period of processing the input, and only then moves on to writing about it and sharing it online. I’ve been expanding on this blogging process in my workshops lately with this model…

The Blogging Process

  1. Read (Or Do)
  2. Reflect
  3. Write
  4. Respond (Giving and Receiving Comments)

Does this capture the process? I’d be interested to hear reactions to this. Am I missing part of the blogging experience? Or have I included too much? Or, more likely, has this articulated better elsewhere?

In any case, I feel this post has now made some sort of contribution, however small, so it passes the “should I post this?” test. For what it’s worth, when I talk about “Better Blogging” now, I stress making a contribution. I also stress making connections. Hopefully my commenting elsewhere is doing the later – and I can always hope others will comment here. Thus the inviting questions. ;)

*Incidentally, my twittering hasn’t slowed down much since I picked it up in June – arguably some of my blogging time has now gone to that, and I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. I have a smaller audience there, but it’s certainly high impact. Follow along if you’re interested… and starting tweeting yourself if you’re not already. :)

PS: I’ve added my twitter badge to the side column of this site so that casual web visitors can see what I’m up to (if they’re interested). It’s slow loading tonight, but twitter did announce that it was napping…

Another Attempt To Explain Twitter

At Walden University, once a Ph.D. student is working on their KAMs or their dissertation they are placed into an online “course” in eCollege with their mentor and with other students who share the same mentor. There is a minimal requirement for participating in online discussion, and with my proposal and IRB documents already taken care of, I finally jumped in to participate on Wednesday night. Our advisor, Dr. Joe Nolan had posted this prompt:

For those of you who attended NECC, tell us about one new product, strategy, or game that you found that really excited you. For those of you who did not attend, what is the next big thing that has you going (for me its I-movie).

In response, I decided to try again to explain my experience with twitter. Here is my post, slightly edited since I first posted it in “class”:

Since Ryan didn’t already bring this up, I thought I’d mention that the one web-based “tool” that most impacted my NECC experience – and has most impacted my daily routine since then – was Twitter:

Twitter can be described in a number of ways, each of which only gets at a part of the experience (I apologize in advance for all the ed tech jargon). Twitter is…

  • … at it’s most basic, an opportunity for you to answer the question “What are you doing?” and share the answer with the world, or at least anyone who cares to follow you.
  • … like communal Instant Messaging. When you “tweet” (or post a message of 140 characters or less) anyone who is “following” you can see it – and respond to it if they like – and others will see their responses. It’s open and inclusive instead of closed and exclusive. Some people think of it as an evolution of the Instant Messaging “status message” – for example I set my status message to “Walden University” when working on my dissertation and then anyone who has me on their buddy list knows what I’m up to. The most important difference between twitter and traditional IM, though, is that no response is expected.
  • … like email, except again it is open and inclusive – and no response is expected. Each “tweet” is only 140 characters or less, so it is a rather efficient way to communicate and connect with each other without long messages (like this one).
  • … like a mini-blog, or rather, like a blog with mini posts. Also, there are no comments on individual posts (though they each have a “permalink” as they do on a blog), but others can respond by posting their own “tweets” back @ you. :)
  • … like reading RSS feeds in an aggregator (such as, NetNewsWire for the Mac, or FeedReader for Windows), except again the posts are shorter, and you are probably following fewer people than feeds. For me, if someone posts a link to twitter, I am more likely to follow it than if they post the link deep in a blog post somewhere. In that way, it’s a better filter of information than my aggregator.

But none of these things really captures the essence of twitter – the fact that it allows you to connect with a community from your computer (or phone) 24 hours a day. I’ve been following bloggers from all over the world for years, but now I have a better sense of the time zone differences between us and of the rhythm of their daily lives. I’ve even noticed my colleagues in Australia looking forward to Spring even as I look forward to Fall. From an educational perspective, this is my learning community… and it could be for students as well – and it could certainly help them develop a greater sense of global awareness in the process.

And this is to say nothing about what an amazing experience it was to be connected to the edublogger community while we were all in the same physical space at NECC!

A good deal has been written about the educational potential of something like Twitter (and there are competing services… Jaiku and Pownce for instance). I linked to some of the most illuminating posts soon after NECC here:

I just searched my aggregator for blog posts about twitter and it came up with 134 matches. Some go back as far as March 16th (though most posts that old will have been removed from my aggregator by now). All but 19 of them, though, were written since NECC was well underway on Jun 25. I can’t possibly link to all the good ones, but I can encourage you to explore… and to try it.

In fact, I just started using a Google Custom Search engine to search all of the blogs and other sites I am subscribed to. You might search for twitter there and see what is being written about it in the edublogosphere (and the blogosphere at large): Search Wagner’s Feeds

At any rate, this is long enough, but if any of you try it, please let me know your ID, or just follow me (and I’ll receive a notification). I’m at

If you’re using twitter (or trying it out) let me know what you think in the comments… or on twitter. ;)

Incidentally, though I haven’t been blogging so much lately, you can find what I’ve been up to on twitter:

UPDATE: Here’s a particularly recent post about Twitter in the classroom, or as the author calls it, Promoting Twitteracy in the Classroom : Apace of Change (Via Dean Shareski.)