A blog is . . .

#usgened #connectedlearning A good summary of the ethical issues of student blogging: http://t.co/EHlyiG4ZiT — Robert H. Gowdy (@rhgowdy) June 20, 2015 The Twitter exchange above prompted this post which will revisit some things various people have said lots of times to lots of different people but I haven’t written any of my responses down lately. The post that kicked this particular version off was from Annette Vee. I find it a well-intentioned consideration of things she’s thinking through when using blogs with her students. And that’s the important piece. This is about how Professor Vee has chosen to use blogs with her students (Sounds like personal essays as part of a writing class?). That’s not the same as concerns with blogs (the tool that lets you put stuff on the Internet). The danger with the word “blog” is that it appears to mean something specific and it doesn’t. Alan makes that point here in 2005. A few years later I tried to do similar things in 2007 and 2008.1 2 I pretty much feel like the comic above applies to this topic pretty well. We’d just need to add a few statements around democracy and inequality. This won’t fix all the core things that are broken about school or our society. It might help some if properly applied but it’ll […]

Simple, Possibly Effective

In honor of Halloween and returning from the blogging dead, I offer up this post (and so I have an excuse to use the picture above). I don’t blog much. Never have been consistent. The new job is making it easier to be worse. Lots of ready excuses. I recently found myself only looking through my FFFFound RSS feed and neglecting a lot of other things. It was easy to do. The education stuff made me nauseous and I’d never get to do the pop culture stuff that I liked, so why bother. In an attempt to remind myself of the things I like about the internet and education (and to remind myself to blog and share content intelligently) I made this aggregation site with the FeedWordPress plugin. It links in all my Delicious additions with a certain tag, my blog posts, and anything I star in Google Reader. So I’m not doing extra work (a tag here or there) but I am providing a single place/feed for a certain audience- in this case ITRTs who work in HCPS1. This kind of aggregation has some real potential for schools and sharing resources that I’ve rarely seen harnessed. But, more than anything, this will help make me focus on what I am reading and how I am sharing content. I want […]


Intro to Theme Tweaking: Firebug has Magic Eyes

A couple of people at work were discussing how to make a good website for a school newspaper. I couldn’t help but point out the beauty that is The Collegian and mentioned it was based on WordPress with some theme tweaking. So one thing led to another and now a number of people are interested in learning how to do this type of thing. I’m the one-eyed guy1 who’s attempting to guide them. I’m no master of CSS, PHP or even WordPress but I have managed to do a few things over time- usually through trial and error. The movie below kind of talks about why CSS exists and then delves into using Firebug2 to explore website and learn how/what to change in the CSS to tweak themes. Firebug Introduction from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. 1 Too obscure a reference? 2 I find this plugin to be nearly magical and highly encourage you to use it for this and a variety of other purposes.


New Blackboard Executive Starts Blog, Opts Not to Use BB’s “Blogging” Option

—Another mock Chronicle article – it’s probably getting tiresome but it’s entertaining me right now. original article here by JEFFREY R. YOUNG footnotes, italics, scare quotes on blog and a few minor deletions by me . . . ____________________________________________________________________ The new head of Blackboard Inc.‘s course-management-software division, Ray Henderson, started a “blog” this week, and he’s already facing tough questions from critics. Blackboard’s top management wanted to know just what the hell this “blog” thing was and if there was a way to charge people extra for it. Eager to prove that he plans to bring change to Blackboard, Mr. Henderson declared that his “blog” is a sign of more transparent times. “Me joining the company means we’re going to communicate more often and more openly,” he wrote in his opening post on Tuesday. “We are even considering responding to phone calls from clients who pay less than $500,000 a year in fees.” “I’m excited about having a spot where I can muse out loud about my take on various things in eLearning, and have other folks weigh in with theirs,” he added. “In particular, I’ve got lots to say on the whole openness, standards, interoperability question. It’ll be particularly nice because if I talk about this stuff on company grounds I’ll be fired.” He allows comments on the blog, […]


Publishing Google Docs to WPMU

I was looking to have some people in my class publish lesson plans to their WPMU blogs via Google Docs. So I consulting the dean of WPMU, The Right Reverend Jim Groom, and he made it look so easy. Yet, I failed. Feeling stupid I started drinking looked at the differences in our set up. I began to worry it was because I wasn’t using dynamic subdomains. I reached such a depth of despondency that I actually read one of the error messages from Google itself. It said “Hey Dummy, you haven’t turned on XML-RPC publishing for that blog. Why don’t you go turn it on?” I did and everything now works. There’s a video on how to do that below in case it helps. pub2wpmu


WPMU Easter Egg

So I’ve installed WPMU on one of our externally hosted servers and with Jim’s patient assistance have been trying to get it in shape. One of the things I needed was the theme editor. So I was going through the steps to get it installed and things are looking good when . . . I hit the theme editor tab and the video below happened1. In all honesty, the first time it happened it scared the hell out of me. I frantically thought of all the vague warnings I’d received, reconsidered what I’ve done with file permissions, wished I’d backed things up 2. I’ve since been wrestling with the .htaccess file and other fairly dreadful nerd stuff. Unfortunately, this server is running both PHP 4 and 5 and has some custom .htaccess stuff set up to password directories down the line. This has led to all kinds of hassle for me (and as a result hassle for Jim 🙂 who has insisted I blog about the easter egg so he can reblog it3). 1 and happened every single time I hit the theme editor tab 2 and then realized I already had 3 Isn’t the Internet a weird place

WordCampEd 2008

I got the opportunity to go to WordCampEd at George Mason this Saturday. Special thanks to Dave Lester- our host and the organizer of the conference (blog and twitter) It was pretty interesting to me in a couple different ways. One, I got to meet (in some cases just sit in the room with) a lot of interesting people and add their various feeds into my aggregator. There’s something interesting about these type of conferences. There really small and intimate. They are full of people who really want to be there, and that are passionate about the topic. Two, I’m really convinced that HCPS needs to go to the WPMU model. We’ve got all sorts of schools doing their own thing with tons (relatively) of individual blogs. This means individual updates, individual theme uploads, individual plugin uploads and most importantly no community outside the school and little interconnection within the schools between blogs. I think that’s what most people don’t get. In my opinion, Jim Groom has done such interesting things at UMW because he has worked hard at connecting the individual blogs, at creating community. He makes comments, he brings key posts to the forefront for attention. He’s made a unified whole. That’s where the power is and it’s interesting power because it’s exponential. We saw evidence of that […]

WordCamp ED in DC!

WordCamp Ed is a WordCamp focused entirely on educational uses of WordPress — in schools and universities. The inaugural WordCamp Ed will be held at George Mason University on Saturday, November 22nd featuring a morning of pre-planned speakers, and a barcamp-style afternoon breaking into smaller discussions and sessions. SIGN UP NOW! I’ll be there and I’m hoping to see some of you.

A Blogging Bestiary

Soooo, I had to do another presentation on blogging and “Bob on Blogs” wasn’t really the style I wanted for the UR crowd. Time for something new. This is my basic thought process in case it might interest someone. Concept (learning objective): There are two key things I want viewers to come away with A blog is just an easy way to get content (multimedia and otherwise) on the Internet and you don’t have to do commenting, regular posts, etc. There are lots of interesting ways to use blogs in education The problem I ran into was that I had lots of blog examples but when I started trying to break things down to show the flexibility it got way too complex. I was initially trying to show things like: Group blog, with comments, using text and images Single user blog, without comments, using text Group blog, aggregating via RSS, with comments using text, video and images So, instead I divided the presentation into two parts. The first portion would be a more traditional presentation with slides to add some humor and associate some interesting visuals with the relatively dry topic of the conceptual use of blogs, their limitations etc. I really wanted to keep the audience engaged and thinking about things in terms that made sense to them. The […]

Creating a Safe Space: Hacking WP

60% of my teachers have been in our county for less than 3 years (and, most of these newcomers, have never worked with a 1 to 1 initiative). More than 40% of my teachers have put less than 3 years into this vocation. With this in mind, I have created a space, online, for teachers to discuss instruction, vocation, and solutions for our school. I hope it will be a community building experience that gives teachers as much time as they can to the process without having to commit to meetings. Following the lead of Alan Levine with Tom’s guidance, I started by sketching out my vision. I wanted a place that was password protected and required unique usernames for participation. This site would be a  safe place where teachers could speak their minds in a professional manner. At the same time, I wanted to foster open communication, so anonymous responses would not be an option. I didn’t want a traditional blog format. The U/I needed to be as intuitive as possible, and I wanted meta-data to be presented in a way that encourage conversation. I sketched up two different layouts and solicited some feedback from my faculty.    The overwhelming response was for the second layout. After sifting through themes that mirrored my sketch, I decided on Blue Earth. […]