I don’t care about filtering . . .

It may seem like lately I’m just attacking everybody. I feel like that’s what I’m doing1 but I keep running into things, unintentionally, that provide perfect ways to talk about some of the things I’m thinking about lately. If you don’t want to read all my nonsense below, I not only understand, but encourage that notion. I would, however, beg you to keep bringing up the following question – “Does rule X address a real problem or simply attempt to mask a symptom caused by a more fundamental problem?” image source: Mr Tickle The following quote is from a post which seems to advocate the continued blocking/filtering of YouTube in schools2. 1. copyright infringement: it’s so easy to get videos that were posted to YouTube illegally. You can’t expect students to do their own work when you showed them a pirated video yesterday. However, I am afraid that the temptation will be too great for many teachers. 2. students waste time: YouTube is the ultimate playground for procrastinators. Students can waste class period after class period wandering through videos. 3. teachers waste time: like we’re any better- have you even been emailed that “must-see” video? Now imagine this stuff streaming into you classroom. 4. sucks up bandwidth: with everyone in the school browsing through video after video, network speeds at […]


15 Years

Q Fifteen years. THE PRESIDENT: Fifteen years. Okay, so you've been teaching for 15 years. I'll bet you'll admit that during those 15 years there have been a couple of teachers that you've met — you don't have to say their names — (laughter) — who you would not put your child in their classroom. (Laughter.) See? Right? You're not saying anything. (Laughter.) You're taking the Fifth. (Laughter.) My point is that if we've done everything we can to improve teacher pay and teacher performance and training and development, some people just aren't meant to be teachers, just like some people aren't meant to be carpenters, some people aren't meant to be nurses. At some point they've got to find a new career. And it can't be impossible to move out bad teachers, because that brings — that makes everybody depressed in a school, if there are some folks — and it makes it harder for the teachers who are inheriting these kids the next year for doing their job. So there's got to be some accountability measures built in to this process. But I'm optimistic that we can make real progress on this front. But it's going to take some time. All right? via The White House – Press Office – Remarks by the President at “Open for Questions” […]


When Librarians Go Bad . . .

I saw this poster in a library the other day and it made me queasy. I like books. I like libraries. I dislike zealots and this kind of garbage. This poster is the kind of reactionary propaganda that does no one any good. The opening quote is below. Libraries are icons of our cultural intellect, totems to the totality of knowledge. To claim, as some now do, that the Internet is making libraries obsolete is as silly as saying shoes have made feet unnecessary. Wow. Icons and totality. He almost makes Internet zealots seem reasonable. To claim that there can ever be a “totality of knowledge” is egotistical and to claim the library somehow embodies “totality” is absurd. Libraries, by their very nature, have to exclude huge amounts of information and make editorial decisions regarding content inclusion. There’s plenty of good and plenty of bad in that. To use the feet/shoes metaphor is equally misguided. Libraries and the internet aren’t comparable to feet and shoes. That would seem to indicate that a library is an organic component of a society, like feet are a part of the body and the Internet is an add-on whose main purpose is to protect, or possibly enhance, the library. Neither is the case. Libraries are places we’ve put information. The Internet is a place […]

All Mobs Are Self-Selected

All mobs are self selected 1 – 2Mobs bully/attack other people3 but they do so because people have gathered strength from finding other people thinking/feeling just like they do. I think the Internet and all the social media tools4 makes it really easy to surround yourself with the echo-chamber, or a self-selected mob, and then it becomes much easier to start doing dumb things while still feeling like your ideas/actions have been vetted and approved by an unbiased crowd. I’ll also say that the Internet and social media allow you to do the opposite. That is you can surround yourself with vastly different ideas and people from very different backgrounds that will challenge your thoughts and ideas and help keep you from doing or continuing to believe stupid/wrong things. I think far more people do the former. It’s human nature. I try to fight it in two ways. One, I try to get lots of ideas from outside what I do. I try to broaden where my information comes from and both the kind of information and the view points on information that I’m exposed to.. Two, I try to find people who make me just a little bit mad when I read them but mad in a way that makes me think. It’s easy to find people that make […]

Zombies, Flamethrowers and Catfish

Image credit – CogDogBlog It’s really a strange world. The shot above was taken in Second Life by CogDog following my presentation with Jim Groom the other night. It was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve ever had with a presentation. The video’s down there somewhere. There were zombies, flame throwers and a lot of madness1. Jim was in rare form and really justifying his Reverend moniker. It was a pleasure to listen to him roll. CogDog has a very solid synopsis on his blog. The gist of the presentation is that forcing people into boxes tends to mess up education rather than improve it- that things like BlackBoard create a lot of false impressions. They make it look like lots of your teachers are using tech but the way that they’re using it tend to be very low level and actually hurts your real tech integrators. The future is open. The future is mobile, agile and friendly. BB (and others) are slow, ugly and unfriendly. It seems simple to me. Forced tech integration doesn’t work. It just gets you really poor teaching with tech sprinkled on top. Focus on forcing good teaching, get rid of people who don’t do it. You can do things to require that and your time and energy will be spent in a much […]


Edtech Survivalist

In my ever greater efforts to make a fool of myself in the name of educational technology I agreed to do an “interview” for Jim “Edupunk1” Groom’s Edtech Survivalist blog. We filmed this on the fly2 in a creek by my house. Some of the kids wandering around aren’t even ours. The swamp comment towards the end was my favorite as it was totally ad-libbed based on one of the neighbor kid’s comments. I highly recommend this as a way to meet your neighbors (there are strange men in camouflage with mullets filming your children) but probably not such a good way to make a great first impression. Yes, I am considering growing a mullet after seeing just how good it looks. 1 He made it to WIRED magazine 2 Obviously without a script

There are No Shortcuts

A little bit of a rant or maybe it’s a sermon. Either way . . . Using “fun” fonts to make boring content exciting. – For a long time I’ve wondered why comic sans was so prevalent in educational material. My final idea is that people make content, then at the end they look at it and think “Man, this is pretty dull. I know how to improve it! I’ll use a fun font!” Bam. Instant solution. This type of use may explain my deep seated hatred for comic sans (See Jim. It’s not font elitism. It’s deep seated emotional scarring.). Adding technology to make a boring lesson exciting. – Technology will not save you. Adding technology to a bad lesson is kind of like those people who drink gallons of diet drinks while eating doughnuts and watching TV. Then they wonder why they haven’t lost weight. You might get a quick burst of interest from students out of novelty, like you’ll get a minor weight loss from shifting to diet drinks, but to get anything sustainable, anything long term, you’re going to have to do some hard work. Labeling – I’ve been looking a lot at the digital native label lately. I see this as one of the more harmful shortcuts. It’s an easy way to dismiss thinking about […]


I Doubt I’m a Doubter . . .

Mike got all up in my grill for criticizing the CMS in education. I am apparently both a dreamer (but I’m not the only one) and a “doubter.” He even accused me of listening to Beach Boys music (I do have a theme song in mind for CMS’s – unless some knows a song dedicated to mediocrity?). I will ignore the fact that I was mainly talking about Blackboard and never mentioned HCPS’s Schoolspace. Although that military mindset is very much like some aspects of HCPS. Mike, be careful with that kind of talk you’re headed toward a job in the nugget factory and I don’t think that’s what you want. To put it simply, the use of the CMS in education is very often an admission of defeat. It is replacing agile and targeted with clumsy (often forced or coerced) mass adoption. It’s a cookie cutter response to what are very individual needs. You want a blog, she wants a discussion board. I (the lord of technology) will give you something that does that (sort of, in the next version- I swear!) and 43 other things you don’t want– only it does none of them very well. Now you should be happy. Right? I’d much rather work with individuals on tools they can control and tweak to really do […]

I Want Video Proof of My Poor Judgement

College professors responding to RateMyProfessor via video on an MTV site Professors Strike Back Out Such. A. Bad. Idea. I’ve rarely seen college professors come off worse. Nothing says class like snarky replies to anonymous comments on web sites. Better yet, I want to do it in conjunction with MTV (who can’t even get streaming video right on the site). And let’s make it nice and permanent. If the accusations are false, then you can’t really control it. If they are true, then fix things. Really, I keep looking back to see if this is a joke. It doesn’t appear to be. Check out this guy. “Don’t expect to be entertained in my classroom. Education is a challenge not an entertainment.”

Proof Blackboard Hates You

So Blackboard’s big time now (80% of the LMS market) and has bought out its rivals or sued them. Let’s ignore the fact that their product really is focused on administration rather than learning. They made $4.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. So they’re not a one man shop barely getting by. This is their idea of a search page for online documentation. Really. You’re not confused. Their search function is a really, really, really bad index. Really. This was the final straw for me. I have declared a blood feud with Blackboard. One of us is going down.