Indexing Scholarly Materials

Indexing Scholarly Materials (Via Blog Juice for Educational Technology.)

“ArchiveGrid allows researchers to discover important content that might normally be hidden when searching on the open Web,” said Ricky Erway, manager of digital resources at RLG, the consortium that designed the database.

With contributions from organizations such as universities and museums I thought this might be useful to some researchers. Any effort to make these collections available online is a good thing. Most of my research interests are already online, however, so on a first run this didn’t turn up any particularly cool new items for me.

Vygotsky, Writing, and Blogging

This bit from Vygotsky supports the benefits many of us hope students will receive from blogging:

Writing should be meaningful for children.. an intrinsic need should be aroused in them, and that writing should be incorporated into a task that is necessary and relevant for life. Only then can we be certain that it will develop not as a matter of hand and finger habits but as a really new and complex form of speech.

A blog can offer both these things for students… blogs can be meaningful to students, especially if they are offered an element of choice (or inquiry) in their writing. Blogs also have a sort of inherent relevance because they are published online where others can discover and read them… but this too can be enhanced if the students are writing with an authentic purpose, even if this is to share their knowledge or thinking.


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

CAG: Interactive Demo

These are the opening question of my session… with participant answers. Good stuff!

What is a blog?

A web log… like a diary, it can be updated every day or every hour. Can be used to answer questions… it’s like a conversation because people can post comments.

What is the read/write web?

You used to be able to read online, but now you can respond and write things back.

What do these technologies mean for gifted students?

They can post “grades” about their teachers. :) You’re not limited to one class “room.” You’ve got kids talking to other kids a continent away!

Drexel CoAS E-Learning: password protected podcast and vodcast

Drexel CoAS E-Learning: password protected podcast and vodcast Yes, Jean-Claude is teaching chemistry through podcasting video! This post discusses his efforts to password protect his podcast. In his case, this is for reasons of respecting copyright, but given my conversations with other educators in read/write web workshops this might be of interest to them for other reasons – to allay fears for the most part. Unfortunately, it sounds like something most of the more fearful educators wouldn’t want to attempt, technically speaking.

Reinvention Chapter 2—”I Quit”

Reinvention Chapter 2—”I Quit” (Via Weblogg-ed News: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom.)

Among edubloggers, this was the big news of the day… well, yesterday at this point. Will Richardson has quit his day job to be a blogvangelist… or whatever the future brings him. I commented and meant it.

As my own desire to be disruptive mounts, and as the need for some housekeeping and additional features here at this blog come to a head, I will soon be announcing some changes of my own. The first (of at least two) is already underway… I am once again planning a move, this time to a wordpress blog I host at a URL I own. Tonight I purchased the hosting (and URL), installed wordpress, and imported ALL of the content from this blog. This entire process was unbelievably easy! And I can’t wait for the new features of wordpress, including categories and RSS feeds for comments. (Note that you can get free wordpress blogs at for you and your students.)

I started an Omni Outliner file for the issues that remain to be settled before announcing the new URL to anyone other than Mike Porcelli. Right now these include:

– [ ] theme
– [ ] images
– [ ] description and bio
– [ ] categories
– [ ] blogroll
– [ ] Import FURL content?

I will let you all know once I’ve closed escrow again.

Man, does it feel good to geek out a little bit. It was a nice break from all the serious “and Life” issues of late. :)

Housekeeping: Bloglines Blogroll Script Doesn’t Work?

Does anyone understand what is happening with the blogroll in the right hand column of this blog? It is generated by a smalls script provided by Bloglines, but a third of the links don’t go anywhere… they reflect the user right back to this blog. This is both useless and embarrassing. I thought it was high time to post something about it incase the community can help.

Also, while I’m on the topic of housekeeping… my 1 year anniversary on blogger is coming up, and I am considering moving to a new blog tool to mark the occasion. I want something with categories, trackbacks, and comments, of course… and which works with MarsEdit preferably. I am considering buying some hosting and a real domain name for ET&L. I welcome any input on this, and I hope you will all follow me if/when the day comes.

Thanks for reading.

iPSP versus iPod w/Video

I did try out iPSP a few days ago. It has a great interface for converting and copying any media to the PSP. It seems to directly tap into the user’s various iLife libraries. Unfortunately, I ran headlong into the main drawback to the PSP as a multimedia device… memory! The PSP has less memory than the iPod (with video) by orders of magnitude!

So, in contrast to the PSP (with 32 MB of memory out of the box), iPod has 60 GBs, and iTunes, however misnamed at this point, provides a decent interface for getting audio, images, and video onto the iPod. Unufortunately, iPod has very little to offer in the way of games, and the video iPod in particular has very poor peripheral support thus far… no iTalk even. In fact, because of the iTalk and iTrip, I am continuing to use a 30 GB iPod Photo as my primary iPod despite having access to a newer model.

And so the one device dream remains elusive.

Also, at this point, with the exception of gaming, iPod is the clear winner over the PSP for educational applications.

Jerome S. Bruner, the Culture of Education, and Educational Technology

Despite the still staggering “and Life” issues, tonight I’ve managed to keep up with my feeds, catch up on email (including comments from this blog), and now, finally, to blog. (And I completed a reference for a former student to boot!)

I started this post weeks ago, while digging through Bruner’s The Culture of Education. My next paper is still in very early stages, so I am returning to these quotes and my annotations to complete this post for ET&L.

Meaning making involves situating encounters with the world in their appropriate cultural contexts in order to know “what they are about.” Although meanings are “in the mind,” they have their origins and their significance in the culture in which they are created. It is this cultural situatedness of meanings that assures their negotiability and, ultimately, their communicability. (p. 3)

Finally, I am getting to the social negotiation element in the subtitle to this blog! This quote speaks to the importance of allowing students to learn new content (and processes!) in a cultural context, rather than as abstract elements divorced from context, and culture. This is also important to relate to your students, not necessarily as friends (though I remain open to that idea), but at least as human beings. When I got to the point where I could do that, it changed my teaching… that was the door to success. And establishing that relationship is still the first thing I try to do in any professional development.

Education is not an island, but part of the continent of culture.

Similarly I often open with an activity based on a current event, or something I am currently passionate about (in an effort to provoke some passion in the participants). I think this is equally important (and effective) with k12 students. And, naturally, I think that blogs, wikis, and RSS can help students feel that their education is a part of a greater culture… and may even be contributing to that culture.

Native endowment may be as much affected by the accessibility of symbolic systems as by the distribution of genes. (p. 11)

Consider how much more important this becomes in the age of the digital divide! Already there is such a clear gap between those who can read and write academic language, and those who are functionally illiterate… a similar gap has formed between those who can use educational technologies such as an office suite, the internet, and email… and now another gap is forming between those who can use blogs, wikis, and RSS and those who cannot. I suspect a similar divide may be created when some students have access to games and simulations as part of their education (allowing them to learn cyclical and systems content in addition to linear content), while others are stuck using books – and office suites. Needless to say, I think this conclusion of Bruner’s speaks to the need to be sure public education provides students with exposure to these tools and the support they need to master them. Personally, I think the need for a 1:1 student to computer ratio should be self evident at this point.

Works and works-in-progess create shared and negotiable ways of thinking in a group… [and] externalization produces a record of our efforts, one that is “outside us” rather than vaguely “in memory.” (p. 23)

It is amazing how well this quote captures so much of what is exciting about the read/write web in education! Will Richardson in particular writes often about the benefits of writing as thinking, and I have linked before to suggestions that blogs can be our back up brain.

I thought that I should point out that when Bruner starts talking about “the tenet of identity and self esteem” (p. 35), he starts sounding like Jim Gee, but I suppose the opposite is true. Gee’s work reflects Bruner’s influence.

I think we have become so preoccupied with the more formal criteria of “performance” and with the bureaucratic demands of education as an institution that we have neglected this personal side of education. (p. 39)

Bruner knew that “…and Life” was more important than standards 10 years ago! This is much of what frustrates me about my job at the county. Though I have some freedom to be disrupted, I am inspired to do more.

Even under the least favorable conditions – psychologically, fiscally, educationally – we still succeed in giving some children a sense of their own possibilities. We do it by getting them (and sometimes their parents) to collaborate in an enabling community. (p. 76)

This is what it is all about! This is what our Expected School Wide Learning Results should be… students will develop a sense of their own possibilities! And note the nod to the parents. Here again blogs can help kids recognize their potential to contribute, and can help parents recognize their student’s contributions. So, too, can games help… particularly games that can recast the student as the hero, or at least an effective agent of change within the game world.

Perhaps successful cultures… should be considered as “countercultures” that serve to raise the consciousness and meta-cognition of their participants as well as enhancing their self esteem. (p. 77-78)

Wow. Here is today’s Hallelujah, brother. Did I mention I long to be more disruptive?

It is through this process of becoming aware of practice that the good school and the healhy classroom can provide even the child of poverty, even the outsider immigrant child, some working vision of how a society can operate. (p. 79)

This is why reflection through blogging can be a powerful tool for supporting professional learning communities (and small learning communities). In fact, as I sat in a SAIT meeting today and contemplated what in the world an Ed Tech guy was doing in a meeting about program improvement schools when no one in the room had any intention of tapping his knowledge base, it occurred to me how much focusing on the read/write web and other disruptive technologies (rather than focusing on remedial efforts) could change the culture of a school to support more meaningful student learning and achievement, possibly even raising test scores as a side effect.

“We probably have little better sense of where the culture is heading than did the French in 1789.” (p. 83)

Scary isn’t it? But very likely true.

We need a surer sense of what to teach to whom and how to go about teaching it in such a way that it will make those taught more effective, less alienated, and better human beings… then we can mount the kind of community effort that can truly address the future of our educational process – an effort in which all of the resources of intellect and compassion that we can muster, whatever the price, are placed at the disposal of the schools… all the standards in the world will not, like a helping hand, achieve the goal of making our multicultural, our threatened society come alive again, not alive just as a competitor in the world’s markets, but as a nation worth living in and living for. (p. 118)

Perhaps when Bruner wrote this we needed that surer sense… now I think we have it (to the degree possible in our changing culture), and the question now is how to effect the changes he dreams of as well. This is what Educational Technology and Life is all about for me. At the best of times, this is what my job is about, too. I believe the read/write web will play a roll in mounting this community effort, because what Dewey calls our medieval educational system cannot serve us much longer, and the change is coming.

Getting to Commitment: Books: Steven Carter,Julia Sokol Getting to Commitment: Books: Steven Carter,Julia Sokol

This is the good stuff. He’s Scared, She’s Scared was a harsh wake up call, with some suggestions about how to stop hurting people. Getting to Committment, then, finally gets around to how to build something more positive and healthy. I’ve only just begun it, but so far, it comes with my recommendation… and it goes into the syllabus for the ninth grade class that should be. :)