Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 100 Education Blogs - We made it!

We made the list of the top 100 education blogs from the On-line education database!

Ok, so they had a scratch and I made it in as a a result, but I'll take it! :-)

I want to thank all of the little people who make this blog possible. (Most of my family is currently under 5' 6".) :-)

Peace and Joy in the Holiday Season to you all!

Jim :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Technology Spurs testing culture? - DRAT!

This interesting Washington Post article
is brief walk through history from ancient greece to NCLB.

It appears that teachers are focused on inputs and politicians on outputs. That can't be good. I've always suspected some such problem myself.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A time to chill out? - Thornburg Blog Post

On District Administration's "The Pulse" blog David Thornburg posts an awesome rant and call to action.

See it here.

My favorite line is, "broadband access can be a distraction to the teacher whose lifeless uttering might otherwise compete with real-time research being done by students in his class." Ouch!! :-)

You go David.

Jim :-)

ps- I must say that I have admired David T.'s work since I was a 1992 Master Teacher at the WNET Teacher Training Institute in NYC. He keynoted there and was amazing. He has been inspiring teachers to "think big" for a LONG time.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Poverty of Abundance - McKenzie

For an excellent article on info-glut and kids see this one from Jamie McKenzie.

I think you will find some excellent thoughts here. When you are done, then search out the rest of his site for other fantastic ideas. This is staff development one-stop shopping. For the best experience though you have to have the man himself present the ideas at a pre-conference session. Good stuff.

(BTW- I am in no way affiliated with Jamie. I just like his persistence and his gutsy and honest ideas.)

Jim :-)

"Happy Thanksgiving"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Why teachers don't use ICT.

Terry Friedman of "The Educational Technology Site: ICT in Education" conducted an on-line poll asking, "Why don't teachers use ICT?" You can see the results at this article.

Although I am sure these results are "unscientific" I applaud Terry for asking a good question. Good questions are amongst the most valuable things in the world. Even if the results are not perfect they will lead to meaningful conversations ...which should translate to better educational experiences for kids.

Jim :-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

T& L speakers challenge educators?

Hi All,

Educational technology trade show's theme: Today's students need high-level skills to succeed.

Yah think?

Thanks for the breaking news out of the 1989 SCANS report.

As far as the "world flattening" commentary about China, see my earlier post about that one. (scroll down to 1/9/06 to see it.)

Also, I find it interesting that more than half of this article (the last two pages) were dedicated to highlighting corporate entities from the exhibit hall. Shouldn't that have warranted a different article title so I could miss that section? May I sugest, "Educational Technology Corporations Seeking your eRate Dollars!" (You realize I am being kind here.)

Jim :-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Second Life??

I posted this on another blog of mine but thought you might have an interest in this also...yeah, yeah, I'm skeptical...but it is worth investigating!

HI All,

As if manging my first life wasn't bad enough, here come a web space known as "Second Life".

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by over a million people from around the globe.

You create a virtual person, known as an avatar and literally make your way through this world. There is an economy based on something known as a "linden dollar" which I believe can actually be converted to real money for people who would rather buy these virtuaa assets rather than earn them!

Why would I post this info on the RW Blog? Well, I recall a number of years ago joining a community run by Compuserve known as "World's Away" and finding it absolutely fascinating. The problem was that on-line time was expensive and 56.6K modems were too slow to effectively utilize the real-time aspects of the world. Now, given our new lap tops and high speed connectivity, it is actually time to see whether or not this idea has merit, free of the technological restrictions of the past.

This CNN article from 11/14 even suggests that, "A growing number of educators are getting caught up in the wave. More than 60 schools and educational organizations have set up shop in the virtual world and are exploring ways it can be used to promote learning."

Let's say we wanted an island for our organization well here are the specs..."We offer a discount to verified real world educators and academic institutions (e.g., universities/schools) or 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that will be using the regions to support their organization's official work. For these organizations, small islands are priced at US$980 for 65,536 square meters (about 16 acres), and monthly land fees for maintenance are US$150."

I know this is a far out concept but it may be time to consider the merits of virtual spaces. My 9 year old daughter is currently fascinated with a virtual space called "Club Penguin" in which she exists as a panguin, owns an igloo and, from what i just heard, an LCD TV! I kid you not! Ask any kid under the age of 11, with broadband, about it. Given the popularity of these spaces with the under-10 set they will certainly be ready to utilize an Avatar as an undergrad.

Jim :-)

Hi Tech toys and educational gains?

I'm back!

Thanks for your patience with me. I took a couple of months to deal with some family things and to explore a couple of other fun side projects. The most bizarre of which is my use of under the pseudomym "jimmyandthekeyz" *see to express my disappointment with Pluto's demotion! :-) Seriously, I am not really THAT upset! :-)

Anyhoo.. in an article written by Lucy Ward of The Guardian, it appears that an English government study has suggested that electronics for infants and pre-schoolers may not be as educational as once thought. Apparently they are no more effective than traditional ways of introducing literacy and number skills. The bottom line is that they found that "such toys were neither harmful nor "particularly beneficial". This really flies int he face of the advertising which preys on the guilty "my kids might not get into Harvard if I don't buy this" feelings of sub-urban uber-parents.

I will probably place this under my "DUH!" file, but given that it is closing in on Xmas time I thought it might be nice to share this info.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Edison's Prediction Revisited-revisited

HI All,

This article in Converge was written to address ed tech critics who point out budgetary concerns and lack of research to support tech's role in raising test scores.

Let me start out by saying I like anyone who sticks their neck out there. We need more of this because it encourages conversation, and conversation results in learning and sometimes change.

First point... "Corporate leaders don't fuss and worry about technology spending the way education critics do". In my experience they do support the purchase of tools that will make their employees more effieicent, but on the other hand, if the expense does not make a measureable difference in achieving their goals they will drop it like a hot rock. The fact is that the blackberry, lap top and videoconferencing make, or saves them, money. Our bottom line is learning. Can we always say the same? Often yes...then keep funding it. If not, let it go and apply the money to reducing class sizes.

Next..."To suggest, as some education critics do, that we eliminate things that foster both communication and creativity in the classroom is ridiculous. But that is exactly what they are promulgating when suggesting technology should be limited in the classroom." That is too simplistic and creates a false dichotomy. I'm not sure if I've ever "promulgated" anything but there may be other issues to consider when one looks at tech use being limited by a school. It's important but isn't the only thing in increasingly shrinking school budgets. I, dare say, it isn't the always the evil critics trying to limit the creativity and communication of the classroom environment.

Next..."If there is no benefit in using pen and paper in the world that we work in, why should we demand our students stay in the pen and paper world?" I agree with you on this. Digital tools are the way I am reacting to this article. My own kids are immersed in them. The question I have is, when you consider the cost of computers for a writing class relative to traditional pen/paper journaling etc. Is it worth it? You can't dismiss the costs of training, hardware, software, infrastructure etc. associated with their use. Is my son becoming a MUCH better writer because of these tools? If so, we need them. If not....

You got me on the sports thing. I see their value but those expenditures are ridiculous. I would apply a similar argument there. Is it really worth that much? The only thing I can say though is that tax payers are funding this. If they want "friday night lights" because it is part of their culture, I guess they will continue to support it. I'm with you on that one.

It is also my experience that tech is enthusiastically embraced by students. They love it.

I am offended. I will not accept your attack on "old school" teachers. Are you kidding me? Most of these veteran educators realize that they have no access to a lab on a regular basis because it is being hogged by a handful of over-zealous teachers. They also know that they produce results without tech and wonder why it is being forced on them. They also aren't being offered respectful (i.e old school???) staff development that addresses learning and not the software. Lastly, the often unreliable computers are a crap shoot when it comes to actually producing work. I know that you are writing this article from some fantasy school setting but enter a random public school some day and check out their learning lab. That's old school.

The closing is emotional but weak on facts. It states..."Perhaps that is ultimately the main complaint naysayers have against using technology in our schools...they don't want to change, even for the benefit of students." Talk about an ad hominem attack. This is blatantly untrue and doesn't serve your argument well. Of course critics care about kids. They may care about the waste associated with some applications of ed tech. You don't have to have computers to have a constructivist curriculum. Granted, there are amazing ways to use computers in support of that style of teaching but to suggest that it can only take place if evil luddites will embrace ed tech is wrong.

Have at me. You know you want to. Let's keep the conversation going.

Jim :-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pulse and Postman's "Crap Detector"

There is a new blog designed for debate (not unlike this one...AHEMM) called The Pulse. It is being produced by the District Administration Web site. It offers a dream team of commentators including, Gary Stager, David Thornburg,UCONN's own Dr. Dyrli and others.

Check it out...and get involved.

I particularly like this Gary Stager post which referred back to a Postman speech given at the 1969 NCTE conference, Bulls#@t and the Art of Crap-Detection.

Don't you just love the 60's? We need a little of that moxie right about now.

Jim :-)

The divide still exists....really?

I'm telling you, I am tempted to start a web site called so I can link to all of the painfully obvious conclusions reached by journalists and researchers.

The article from 9/5/06.

This one points out that there remains a digital divide. I agree.

Some of the conclusions are a classic "causation vs. correlation" deal. Is it really that not having access to the internet,"narrows their ability to even think about the kind of work they can be doing,?" ...or could it be that the conditions that lead to a lack of internet accessibility...aka poverty that contribute to that more?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for closing the digital divide. I have even been personally been involved in helping to do so. My issue is that some feel as though once we do that things will be dramatically better. I'm not so sure. The achievement gap is more pernicious then that folks. The root causes will remain unless we get serious as a society about solving the root causes and really start caring about these kids.

jim :-)

Kids and Tech: How much is too much?

This is the question asked in this article at Tech News World.

Now, I've never heard of tech news world, but it is an interesting question that relates to the purpose of this site.

Are we producing a generation of kids who are over-wired and have no patience? Or is this a glaring generalization that feeds on the base fears of achievement driven suburbanite parents?

Let me know what you think!?

Jim :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

School Web Pages and Ads

HI All,

Long time, no blog. This issue caught my eye. It is a new version of the old, "a soda company wants to buy us a wicked cool billboard, should we accept it?", problem.

School web sites mostly underperform. This is understandable. There generally is not enough time or resources to dedicate to it so a teacher and/or a group of kids usually get the task. These generous souls (myslef included when I was in the classroom) offer much of their free time to this task and should be applauded. The problem is that there is often no systematic way to update the information in the various categories and so you get images from the October pep-rally staring at you in April. Web savvy parents who expect to see breaking news being covered on the site are sadly disappointed. Initial enthusiasm for the work wanes as the year goes on and an important resource is under utilized by all.

(A personal note... Ms. Betsy Nagurney does a great job at Scofield Magnet MS with little to no help.

So, a company says we'll step in and run the site and make it look fresh by sending all sorts of info feeds to it and all you have to do is watch the advertising on the site to compensate them. One could understand why a school might take the bait.

The issues are: 1) Should we be subjecting our kids and parents to the advertising? 2) Shouldn't a school district have the internal resources necessary to support this kind of work from within, in this day and age? 3) Do you think that an outsourced job on a school web site will carry the same meaning as an in house production? Should we not be thinking about the lost authentic learning opportunity that it represents for the kids who Would be involved?

What do you think?

Jim :-)

Monday, August 07, 2006

NELMS article

My, My,

This is the connected generation. They are the “digital natives”. What defines them is the instant and continual access they have to one another across multiple media! The other day I asked my son to check up on a friend who I just found out was ill. He responded that he checked her AOL profile, discovered the nature of her illness, IM’d his friend for her cell number and already spoke to her and after sending her an electronic “get well soon” card from She was apparently doing better. My son is 14 and THIS is what we are dealing with.

Now along comes a dream tool for the ”tween” who is desperately wanting to connect with friends and control their own PR,. ( I know there are other social networking site but this appears to be the clear winner with middle schoolers at the moment.) If the need to stay connected with your peers is a burning fire, think of as lighter fluid!

What is it?, according to, is “an interactive, user-submitted network of blogs, profiles, groups, photos, MP3s, videos and an internal e-mail system.” It is fourth most popular web site in English on the web. As such, it is worth a lot of money to advertisers and has the likes of Rupert Murdoch sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into it. (580 million to be exact)

How does it work?

You sign up. Middle school kids usually lie about their age in order to get this right. The minimum age is 14 or older. Let’s just say it isn’t policed very well.

You create a profile page. Here you can say things about yourself, describe who you would like to meet, your interests and favorite movies and music. You can also provide personal info about yourself, your school , and your lifestyle. This is where it can, obviously, be dangerous for a non-savvy early adolescent. If a user doesn’t go to “account settings” and adjust their “privacy settings”, limiting their profile to “my friends only”, the whole world will have access to this profile. Other ”account settings” will allow you to change your password, set IM privacy settings, group settings and block certain users.

You then send the web address, or URL, of your MySpace page to your friends and relatives and they can apply to be your “friend”. The user then can approve these people and this “friend” then is granted additional abilities to interact with you. Control of this list of friends is essential to staying safe(r) while using the site. If you find that your child has hundreds of friends, I would dare say, they are probably too accepting.

What do kids do with this?

Basically kids use this to continue their in school rants, to flirt, to create a persona that they want the world to see, to stay connected, and sometimes to bully one another.

They also can use it as a form of social stratification by keeping some kids in or out of their “friend list”. You can select eight friends to appear on your “top 8” friends list within you r profile. These typically represent you best friends. I am SURE that more than one middle schooler has been found crying outside of a guidance counselor’s office over their removal from a friends “top 8” list.

Also, I have noticed that kids are using it as a way to distribute photos and movie clips. This is more worrisome due to the fact that it reveals way too much about the person and some of the photos can be inappropriate.

It is typically pretty innocuous. This is basic adolescent chatter, but as you would expect, kids will test the limits of this medium also.

How do you stay safe on this? actually posts a fairly reasonable set of safety tips on their web site. Click the words “safety tips” on the very bottom of the page and discuss these with you child. This is probably not the most visited section of the web site.

Here is what they say to parents, from their web site:

•Talk to your kids about why they use MySpace, how they communicate with others and how they represent themselves on MySpace.

• Kids shouldn't lie about how old they are. MySpace members must be 14 years of age or older. We take extra precautions to protect our younger members and we are not able to do so if they do not identify themselves as such. MySpace will delete users whom we find to be younger than 14, or those misrepresenting their age.

• MySpace is a public space. Members shouldn't post anything they wouldn't want the world to know (e.g., phone number, address, IM screen name, or specific whereabouts). Tell your children they should avoid posting anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find them, such as their local hangouts.
• Remind them not to post anything that could embarrass them later or expose them to danger. Although MySpace is public, teens sometimes think that adults can't see what they post. Tell them that they shouldn't post photos or info they wouldn't want adults to see.
• People aren't always who they say they are. Ask your children to be careful about adding strangers to their friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but members should be cautious when communicating with people they don't know. They should talk to you if they want to meet an online friend in person, and if you think it's safe, any meeting should take place in public and with friends or a trusted adult present.

• Harassment, hate speech and inappropriate content should be reported. If your kids encounter inappropriate behavior, let them know that they can let you know, or they should report it to MySpace or the authorities.

In my opinion they are off the mark on their 5th bullet. In order to stay safe, DON’T add strangers as friends and DON’T meet people you do not know. Ever. Period. This has resulted in many terrible situations that we are all too aware of. I put my foot down on this aspect of social networking.

**If you decide that you don’t want to deal with this and want to delete your child’s profile they offer instructions for doing so at this address…** suggest that parents be reasonable and open and that they communicate often with their kids about this, They also recommend a central area for internet use in your house. (My own son doesn’t currently have, or need, web access in his room. Although, he could rig access to it from his PSP or cell phone. Drat!) Lastly, they suggest that you get your kids to share their MySpace page and profile.

As was reported recently on eSchoolNews, it is increasingly a part of the curriculum for incoming college freshman also, where the web site of choice is

What are some other opinions on this?

One one side. Gary Stager, the prolific ed tech writer and knock-out presenter, thinks we all just need to “grow up”(see He states, “Schools endanger the very students they seek to protect when they bubble-wrap kids and the curriculum.”

On the other hand, eSchool News on-line points out the increased need for discretion on-line, particularly while on sites like The article states, “Besides the obvious danger of posting personally identifying information, they say, the potential exists for embarrassing information to come back to bite students later in life when they apply for college or a job.”

The bottom Line

As the father of a 14 year old, this isn’t as easy for me. This isn’t some abstraction that I can easily be philosophical about. This is a reality for my son and his friends that I am already dealing with. As a parent, I have to wade through the “ick factor” on this to really understand this tool.

I also have to balance my need to provide a climate of trust with the necessity to play out my role as parent. My son knows that I read his page from time to time. I know that if I push too hard it would be easy for him (he’s a clever little bugger) to create an “underground profile” that he could keep changing that would keep me out of the loop. We currently live in a state of d├ętente.

Have I confronted him with content that was posted on his page by his “friends”? Yes. The result has been some interesting conversations. I was able to pose questions like, “How did you feel about that posting?, “Why do you think he/she is portraying themselves in that way?, What do you think your mother and I expect from you?, How do you have your privacy settings set-up? Can you show me your friend list and tell me who each of these people are?”

Without my ability to have this conversation my son I would be more worried. But, frankly, I remain concerned. Does this mean that at some point in the future I won’t take away this ability to use this site if it is abused or it becomes too big a distraction. No Way! I still retain my ability to be the bad-guy. In my opinion, I have to, if I care about my son.

So, there is the frustrating dichotomy. The tension is between the need to provide a trusting environment in which my son can learn and grow and the need to provide a buffer zone of safety around him at all times.

What do you think? Respond below!!!

Additional resources:
Wikipedia Entry for

Monday, July 24, 2006

OK...on three...DUHHHH!

Hi All,

The title of this post was completely unfair (and mean spirited), but I mean, really, is this study necessary?

Teacher development key to tech success

Could it be possible that anyone from the world of ed tech would doubt this?


This quote from the eSchool News article..." Although teachers report they are using technology more frequently for both instructional and administrative tasks, they also worry that obstacles such as a lack of access, time, and money are keeping them from integrating technology effectively into the curriculum, the study found. "... is SOOO what Larry Cuban was talking about in Teachers and Machines.

(A book that was produced prior to easy access to the internet and WWW, copyrght 1986.)

Thanks for the study CDW-G but I am truly astounded that this still needs confirmation.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are US classrooms "left behind"?

That is what this eSchool News article is suggesting. This is unacceptable and annoying.

The link

Jim :-)

ps- long time no post! :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

5 lessons on using ed tech

Hi All,

I thought that there were some interesting thoughts in this article from the THE Journal and then as I continued reading on I became extraordinarily distracted by the imbedded and surrounding advertising! I mean...c'mon guys! If you print a copy of this article I am sure you'll be able to get some great ideas with being thrown into a media induced seizure!

Jim ;-)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

EETT phone home?

The SEDTA released the following info.

SETDA Dismayed by House's Action to Abandon Technology in Schools

House Vote Devastates Efforts to Maximize Student Achievement and Improve America's Competitiveness by Eliminating Enhancing Education Through Technology (NCLB Title II, Part D)

ARLINGTON, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 06/07/2006 -- The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) today urged the House Appropriations Committee to fill the gaping hole left by the House Labor, HHS, & Education Subcommittee's decision to eliminate the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program in FY 2007.

"We understand tough decisions must be made in the Appropriations process, but eliminating EETT shows a gross misunderstanding of how critical this funding is for schools. EETT's activities have led to demonstrated, measurable improvements in student achievement in Math, Science, and Reading. Moreover, schools have used EETT funding to purchase data systems that are critical to fulfill NCLB's accountability requirements and to close the achievement gap," said SETDA's Executive Director, Mary Ann Wolf, PhD. "As the nation gears up to be more competitive, it makes no sense to cut a program that provides teachers and students with the technology resources that are improving teaching and learning and allowing our nation to compete effectively in the 21st century workforce."

SETDA calls upon the Full Appropriations Committee to level fund the EETT program at $275 million in 2007 (at minimum), which represents a 61% cut from 2004 funding level of $696 million. The House Appropriations Committee must reject the notion that the job of technologically outfitting our schools is done, particularly since many schools still lack that appropriate technology systems to: 1) report and address the progress of every child, 2) close the achievement gap, 3) improve teacher quality, and 4) provide rigorous instruction to all students.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Maybe the world is actually round?

Hi All,

Gary Stager has expressed his wonderful disregard for the ubiquitous "flat world" concept in this response. We all know the premise of Friedman's "The World is Flat" by now, particularly if you have had a recent computer issue solved by an eloquent person from Bangalore. It is interesting to see someone actually step back from it for a second and question it.

It is always interesting how the human mind, that desperately wants to make sense of the world around it, will grab on to ideas that "feel right". This sort of relates to the earlier "freaky" post. I am not sure who is more correct, Gary or Tom, but I like the fact that Gary is making me think.

All the best.

Jim :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Should we all "get over"

Hi All,

In an article for titled, "Guess Why They Call It MySpace? It's time for adults to grow up" Gary Stager makes the case that all of us need to basically "chill-out".

He states, "Dependency and fear retard the learning process. It is difficult, if not impossible, for students to develop moral values and solve ethical dilemmas when school never allows them to make a decision or mistake."

He also takes a stab at the ed tech community when he states, "The educational technology community has a similar level of paranoia manifest in discussions over whether students should have their own floppy, be allowed to save on the hard drive, surf the Web, send an e-mail or use a USB key. It is impossible to discern the lines between genuine safety concerns and tyranny."

I've had the pleasure of learning from Gary in person. His creative and important work has demonstrated his concern for kids. I think that he makes some very good points. They are at least worth mulling over, after you take a deep breath.

If you don't agree with me I'll simply take you out of my "top 8". So there.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Is tech injuring children?

In an article on C/, by Stephanie Olson, she explores this question.

My gut tells me that most kids probably won't suffer RSI injuries due to gaming or computer use. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't be more concerned about ergonomics in classroom/lab computer use or in game design. I know for a fact that my computer lab was not ergonomically designed and that the line of sight to the monitor and the posture of the kids while working was not ideal. (To say the least!)

I have come across articles concerning black-berry related injuries and since 1998 we have have been apparently concerned about "Nintendo Thumb". (I kid you not.)

Stephanie points to some real data that suggests that prolonged use of bad computer habits could ultimately result in RSI injuries. This is definitely something for ed tech enthusiasts to be aware of and concerned about.

Jim :-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Let's get freaky with Ed Tech

HI All,

Ok, that was a bizarre title but I just finished the book Freakonomics. You are going to want to want this book. I haven't been this intrigued since I read Tipping Points! Do I agree with everything I read in the book? No. But it is the the approach that dictates that you question conventional wisdom that I love!

We may all assume things about educational technology that are wrong, simply because it has been said a lot and it is a comfortable conclusion. We need to figure out what these things are and start thinking differently.

We also need to start thinking about unconventional connections to the topic of ed tech and student achievement. For example, we always relate free and reduced lunch to test scores or the way in which tech is used with kids in schools. What if started asking stranger questions? What if asked about the relationship of appropriate ed tech use in a school to things like the amount of team planning that exists or the way it is used? Or the connection to the existence of an achievement gap or the number of suspensions? Or the connection to the quality of the bulletin boards or the amount of on task behavior in class?

You see what I'm getting at? If you don't, you will after reading Freakonomics. I say we all start getting freaky and find the unconventional wisdom that will improve our use of ed tech with kids.

Jim :-)

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Hi All,

I just discovered an award winning podcast for ed tech enthusiasts called,

As I wrote to Mark Gura of Fordham University.....

"I really enjoyed PFT #37. I am going to be sure to direct people to your podcast from my .

As a past NYC teacher (Dist 11- I student taught in Dist 10), Yonkers native, and a Manhattan College graduate I take pride in the fact that our neighborood is getting people think about ed tech in meanngful ways."

Keep innovating in the Bronx! You got a problem with that?

Jim :-)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Getting There by Alan Warhaftig

Read Alan's Ed Week piece. If you haven't registered at Ed Week it now. :-)

Here he questions the vaildity of Marc Prensky's "21st Century Tools". He also gives it to, "vendors who shamelessly hype potential not evident in actual products—urging schools, meanwhile, to buy what’s available today, so American students won’t fall behind."

Isn't it disturbing that we are still asking the same questions about the integration of educational technology that we were asking in the late 80's? Isn't it disappointing that a typical classroom (I'm talking about a REAL public school classroom where a vendor wouldn't survive 5 minutes, not the rare space mocked up for glossy ads.) has not been impacted by all of the technological advances of the last 20 years, physically or pedagogically?

Man...Alan, you really "hit a nerd" with this one.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Is e-mail old school?

According to my 13 year old son..."exactamundo!"

eSchool News does a great job of exploring this trend.

Kids IM every day but apparently only e-mail to transfer files or communicate with adults. That cracks me up! I have to say that this exactly mirrors my experience.


Jim :-)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A couple of Blogs to consider

Hi All

Both of these recommended blogs are created by Mike Muir. Mike is a professor of educational technology at the University of Maine at Farmington. He works with several learning with laptop initiatives and with schools on how to motivate underachievers. He is a great guy and an awesome presenter to boot. You'll like these.

The first one is ... Everyone Learns: Pedagogy, Technology and Motivation. Here you will find lengthy and meaningful postings.

The next the collective wisdom of 1-to-1 learning with technology initiatives across the country and around the world.

I know that I have posted articles that provide differing views on "laptops for schools", but THAT'S THE POINT of this blog, to get all of the ideas out there for your perusal.

Great Job Mike!

Jim :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sign a petition in support of the EETT

Here is the petition.

It couldn't hurt.

This request came from an email sent out by Keith Krueger,CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and Don Knezek , CEO, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

JIm :-)

Friday, April 14, 2006

"tune in , turn off" chat transcript

Hi All,

Here is a link to a live chat transcript that was sponsored by Ed Week that, according to moderator Kevin Bushweller, was, "about how educators are dealing with the constant influx of new technologies, such as iPods, that students are bringing to school. Should schools embrace the presence of those technologies and harness their powers for learning? Or are there good arguments for schools to restrict the presence and use of such gadgetry?"

I think you'll enjoy this exchange. I was impressed with Alan W's ability to keep refocusing the conversation on what matters most.

What do you think?

btw...the link above may require a registration on ed week, but if you are interested in this topic you really should register, if only to get access to the annual "Technology Counts" editions.

Jim :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is "ed tech stalled by fear?"

In the eSchool News conversation, Thornburg: Ed tech stalled by 'fear', David Thornburg states, "The main thing that's holding technology back is ... a fear--a well-placed fear, I might add--that if technology becomes ubiquitous, it will totally transform the practice of education. There are a lot of people who don't want the practice of education transformed, because they're very comfortable with it."

What do you think about this? Is David right?

Are we all essentially buggy-whip makers.... while the world is already buying automobiles?

Are we doing enough things "differently" with technology?

BTW-- If you ever get the chance to hear David in person, do so. He is fascinating to listen to. My first encounter with him was in '93 at a WNET summer workshop in NYC. It was a real mind-opener to hear him in person.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Are we technically foolish?

In a brief article by Fredrick M. Hess, a resident scholar and the director of education policy studies at AEI, asks whether technology has made our schools more efficient...or not.

This article should really "hit a nerd" with my readers! C'mon...I know you're out there!

Fred uses words like boondoggle and asks, "Why do inviolable laws about the productive benefits of technology seem to stop at the schoolhouse door?"


Have at it!

Jim :-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gaming and learning?

Hi All,

I liked this article because it clearly stated something that I have always believed. Gaming is fun but educationally useless. Don't get me wrong, i go way back to the days of Pong. My current obsession is MX vs ATV for the PSP. I just never bought into the hype that somehow it was helping me...or anyone improve in some way. It was, and is, entertaining.

Chris Dede, a guy who I really respect because he has been around ed tech for a long time, has developed a learning game with many of the functions of a cool role playing game. While this is not a new concept, (I recall playing learning simulations with my 7thgraders using the laserdisc Science Sleuths) I am sure that Chris and his team have created an engaging product.

Learn more about his work at Harvard.

Jim :-)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"There's somethin' happenin' here....

...what it is, ain't exactly clear" Or, maybe it is somewhat clear.

It appears that some members of congress are not willing to accept the total demise of the EETT funding. CT's own Sen. Lieberman put it best when he said that the administration decision to eliminate EETT was, "at best, premature--and at worst, simply wrong." You go Joe!

See the whole description of this situation at eSchool News.

Let's not "throw the towel in" on this yet! Contact your local representatives to let them know what you think of the total elimination ot the EETT.

"......what's that sound, everybody look what's goin' down."

Jim :-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Get up....Stand up... for the EETT

Geoffrey Fletcher, of the THE Journal, has really done a nice job of expressing what many of us are feeling about the recent deep EETT cuts.

See his comments here!

It is time for us to make some noise on this one people!

Jim :-)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Meet the new boss......

Well, the Bush administration took my Do/Don't list posting (1/2) seriously and decided to appoint a new head of Educational technology. Thanks Guys, I think. reports that Timothy J. Magner was appointed as director of the Office of Educational Technology (OET).

is a recent eSchool News interview. ESchool news reports, "Much as it has in medicine, Magner said, technology is getting to a point now in schools where its presence is so ubiquitous that educators can begin thinking seriously about how to integrate it into every facet of the school day, whether it's to provide a much-needed boost in the classroom, improve the quality and efficiency of front-office functions, or track and monitor individual student progress in order to differentiate instruction." Haven't we been saying this since the Apple ACOT study? how do the MASSIVE budget cuts help in this plan?

I'm sorry, I digress.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

2006 EduBlog Awards we didn't win. With the level of activity on this site I can't blame them!

Anyhoo.... I added the four winners selected by eSchool News to the link menu on the right. They are very good and you should visit them all to see how you can use them. The people who produce these do a TON of work to keep them fresh and relevant.

Congratulations to the 2006 winners!

btw... my list (located above the winners in the right menu) would represent MY selected winners.

All the best!

Jim :-)

Monday, February 27, 2006

ed tech as a thinking tool...nice

HI All,

Long time no post.

Intel has a set of tools that I thought you might want to be aware of. They are designed to help develop higher order thinking skills in kids! Go figure! All kidding aside, they are definitely on the right track when they focus on these types of "thinking" products. You have to give credit where credit is due.

Here is the link--> Here

All the best!

Jim :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Getting in Deep

The Deep Web.

Do you know what it is?

If not, check out the following article. It is a really interesting piece by Jamie McKenzie.

Deep Web

Happy Valentines Day. <3
Jim :-)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

more myspace hype

This article points out the dangers of being too revealing in the myspace web world and offers some "food for thought" for all to consider.

My 8th grade son tells me that many kids are starting to go "undercover" due to the fact that their parents are becoming more savvy about the site.... and are checking in on their postings. I am sure that many kids may be showing their parents one web space presence and actually conducting another with their friends.

I KNOW their are strong feeling on this. I, for one, am completely in the middle on this one as the ACTUAL parent of one of the earliest adopter tweens on the block.
The article

Rant on! I can take it.

Jim :-)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

An old interview..

Geoffrey Fletcher, editor at large of the THE Journal, has posted an old interview and want us ( ed techhies) to tell him when we think the interview took place.

See it here.

It sends home the fact that we have been saying the same things over and over again as it relates to the intelligent deployment of ed tech and the necessary commitment to staff development. My guess is that this interview is from 1995 (or so). What do you think? is my e-mail response to Geoff.

My favorite old issue of Electronic Learning is the "Technology in the USA 1992-93 edition" where it was pointed out that Apple 2 computers represented 53% of users followed by Radio Shack/Tandy 17%, Commodore 15% , And IBM compatibles 13%! Also, 54% of districts reported Laserdisc use.
(I loved those things!)

Also, how about this headline, Tech and Learning Oct. 1993 (I kid you not) "The Internet- A first look". You gotta love that!>>>

All the best!

Jim Forde :)

Friday, February 03, 2006

eelearning <-- (that isn't a typo)

--from an e-mail from Jim Morrison the Editor-in-Chief of Innovate ----

Innovate is issuing a call for papers for a special issue devoted to the emerging field of “ee-learning.”

We have become familiar with “e-learning” or (E)lectronic Learning, which uses communication technologies to connect students and instructors separated by distance and/or by time, and to provide students with access to learning resources and interaction. And there is a long history of (E)xperiential Education, where learning takes place in the “real world” of work and service and governing and the other institutions we create to organize our encounters and interests.

Historically, electronic and experiential learning have been unique and separate domains of study and practice. The joining of the two e’s in “ee-learning” provides an opportunity to define and organize an emerging pedagogy that brings together these two domains.

ee-Learning offers the possibility of ending (or at least dramatically reducing) the distance between the academic disciplines and the practices they are designed to inform and illuminate. ee-Learning allows the settings of the world–businesses, service agencies, government offices, or community centers–to be the primary scene of instruction, making it possible for students to learn by applying theory to practice in these settings. Communication technologies allow students engaged in such settings to act as a learning community by engaging with each other as well as their teachers and colleagues, and to reflect on their experiences. Instructors help students relate their experiences to the bodies of knowledge of the curriculum, and to extend their learning by use of the rich resources found on the Internet as well as books and the older media of instruction. The combination of real-world experience and communication technologies can provide learning opportunities not available in the traditional classroom setting.

We solicit manuscripts that illustrate the possibilities and challenges of ee-learning pedagogy. Key questions for consideration may include the following:

1. How does ee-learning impact our traditional views of learning as separate from practice in the real world? As needing a specialized and set-apart environment called “school” or “college”?
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of minimizing the traditional role of the classroom and face-to-face contact with fellow students and faculty?
3. What is the potential impact of ee-learning on the roles of teachers, students, and learning support services?
4. What is the potential impact of ee-learning on the structure of colleges, universities, and public schools?

If you would like to submit a manuscript for this special issue on ee-learning, please refer to the submission guidelines described in the “Submit an Article” link from the main page of Innovate ( and send it to the special issue editor, Steve Eskow ( and to the editor-in-chief, James Morrison ( Deadline for submissions is April 30, 2006.

A discussion forum for this special issue has been opened within the Innovate-Live Portal at In order to participate in the Innovate-Live interactive webcasts and community, you must be a member of the Innovate-Live Portal. Please register at


James L. Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

Testing Technological Literacy

ETS is at it again!

They have now developed a test to measure technology literacy. I am really not into the idea of having even MORE testing our classrooms, but I have to admit that the focus of this test is interesting.

Here is a quote from the article.

"Students will receive an individual score on a point scale of 400 to 700, and schools will get reports showing how students fare in seven core skills: defining, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, creating and communicating information.

The new "core" version that will be sold to high schools can be taken in a school computer lab over about 75 minutes and consists of 14 short tasks, lasting three to five minutes each, and one longer task of about 15 minutes. Students may be asked, for example, to determine what variables should go where in assembling a graph, and then use a simple program to create it. They could also be asked to research a topic on the Web and evaluate the authoritativeness of what they find."

I am surprised at the nature of the tasks. The idea of asking kids to do something meaningful with informaton and and having them determine the reliability and validity of the source is a good idea. I was expecting something much worse.

Here is a good web site with critical evaluation of internet resources links.

What do you think about the idea of a tech literacy test?

Jim :-)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

using google maps

Here is a great posting from a cool blog.

Way to go Mr. Belshaw.

Jim Forde :-)

Edutopia - Adopt and Adapt article

At edutopia Marc Prensky does an interesting job of describing the way in which schools typically adopt new technologies. He describes a four step process:

1. Dabbling.
2. Doing old things in old ways.
3. Doing old things in new ways.
4. Doing new things in new ways.

He also makes a strong argument for 1 to 1 computing.

He also speaks of the typical "school resistance to change" issue. I will defer to Larry Cuban on this one. In his classic book, Teachers and Machines, he describes attempts to adopt classroom technologies from educational radio on up. I like his stance that teachers will adopt technologies if it meets certain criteria that make sense. They typically demand ease of use, accessibility, durability etc. The resistance to change may actually be a pragmatic move on the part of professional educators who know what it takes to teach kids in REAL schools. This view better matches the experience I have had with my teaching peers when it comes to innovation adoption.

What do you think? Testing 123 this thing on?

Jim :-)

PS- if you are into ed tech on any level you must get the Postman book.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Are Wikis Wacky?

Ok...dumb title.

This eSchool News article expresses concern about the need to have our kids up on their "information literacy" skills, particularly in light of the rise of Wikis.

For those of you who don't know, Wikis are like blogs, except that anyone can come to the site and change anything. Sound crazy? Well, it really isn't that bad, in that Wiki enthusiasts tend to them and can reverse an attack or erroneous posting in a jiffy.

The problem is when a section of an on-line encyclopedia, like the ever poprular Wikipedia, is not as readily tended to and the bad info sits on-line for a while. (read above)

What do you think?

Jim :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Computer Classes Spur Student Absenteeism...duh.

In an article that was in the Caton Rep, originally from the LA Times, by Stuart Silverstein...

See it here!

...a "spurt" of absenteeism is being blamed on the fact that some classes are now publishing audio and video content from the lecture. This is an "unintended negative circumstance" of the deployment of this new educational technology.

The funny part is that they are actually surprised by this! If a professor can be easily replaced by an iPod, they probably should be. I don't see a cry for any pedagogical changes in the college classroom that would encourage a student to be present anywhere in the article. All I see is "sour grapes". For example, one lecturer suggests that the best grades are going to the students that attend and sit up front. I'd like to see the data on that. I also don't approve of the insinuation that the kids that are not attending class are hung-over or slackers. I think that they would attend if there was a compelling reason to. They might be doing the right thing by managing their time appropriately for courses that demand it.

Stop blaming the students for not attending class because they are using a system that you are spending oodles of money to deploy.


Jim :-)

PS- Notice that this post is not a debate as to which format is better, it is simply a reaction to their disbelief that the students are not attending classes. That's fodder for a whole other post.

Friday, January 20, 2006

English IT questions

HI All,

Just in case you think that we are unique in our need to question the appropriate use of ed tech in real schools, here is a brief commentary from an English on-line newspaper.

The commentary

Is it wrong to ask questions like this about ed tech? Am I creating a hostile environment for ed tech innovators by pointing out this resource?

Lemme know.

Jim :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blogs, Free Speech, and Schools

Blogs continue to freak people out. It appears that private schools are being more aggressive about controlling blog contact from school and the use of school e-mail addresses with blogs. The inappropriate images and content that many feature are really testing the border-lines of free speech and on-line safety.

Is it really OK to allow a student to post content about their binge drinking on a blog? Is it really OK to allow a student to pose provocatively on a blog and ask for comments from the cyber-world? Am I infringing on his/her rights by even thinking about removing that content? Whaddya' think?

I already placed my nerdy hat in the ring in my earlier on post on "myspace and our kids."

Check this out---> The article

Jim :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Hi All,

This is a powerful site to spend some time on this weekend.

MLK speech page

Jim :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great food for thought

The link

If you haven't seen the Dec '05 Ed Leadership, it is focused on school technology and offer a diverse set of viewpoints on the topic.

Good stuff.

Jim :-)

NCLB and Ed Tech

Hi Again,

I probably should have been aware of this, but I wasn't. Did you know that there are likely to be NCLB testing programs for school technology? This should be a hoot!

On the edTech Insider Tom Hoffmann writes, "How would we test this stuff? You'd either end up with paper tests that are a sham, or expensive online versions. Either way, the emphasis won't fall on the complex, higher level skills we're actually interested in, but will inevitably end up being reductive and rote. You can argue that the tests will be great, but they won't be. And then we'd get a whole crop of expensive software to drill you for the new exams, probably created by the same people who are selling you the tests. "

BruceFulton (a poster on the demi-blog) reminds us that we were asleep at the wheel but telling us, "It’s too late to close that barn door, Tom, NCLB already has a technology literacy requirement (in title IId), and ED already expects that schools will be testing it at some point in the near future. 2006 had been targeted, but science testing starts this year, so perhaps it has been put off. Not surprisingly, ISTE and Microsoft announced in 2004 that they were teaming up to develop the test states will use to assess technology (see their press release at HERE, although to be honest, I haven’t heard much about it lately."

I haven't always been aligned with Tom's thinking, but on this topic he is right on the money.

I'll send an SOS to the world!

Sing along with that last line like the Police would have in the song "Message in a Bottle")

Jim :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

From Black-out Day to Impact Month

It is time for another Technology Black-out Day, but this year it has been changed to Technology Impact in Education Month.

This initiative focuses kids, and stakeholders, on the impact that ed tech is currently having on their lives. It offers interesting lesson plans on the site.

The only aspect of the initiative that concerns me is the culminating event of contacting their representatives in congress. Not that I think that this is a bad lesson in political activism, or that most kids will find fault with the way ed tech is being deployed on their schools, but it is a bit forced on the kids. Stop groaning. All I'm saying is, if some kid decides to not write to their congressnman, I hope they aren't penalized in some way.

By all means, use the resources here. Have the kids think about the implications of technology, positive and negative, on their lives. are going to dig this site about technology in the year 1900. I actually used the lessons on this site with a group of 6th graders on a day that our school lost power! (It was in my sub-plan folder.)

Jim :-)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Globalization 3.0 and ed tech

In the THE Journal, Geoffrey Fletcher, editor at large of THE Journal posed a couple of questions of the ed tech community relating to the book
The World is Flat
. Here are my thoughts on two of them.

Q1 -- How do we deal with 'Globilization 3.0'?

Globalization 3.0 is a concept that suggests that, due to the current state of fiber optic connectivity and the wide availability of powerful hardware and software tools, individuals are now able to collaborate and compete globally.

We simply have to "deal with it." It's here. We can no longer deny the fact that a huge talent pool of highly educated and sorted young people can do the back office (and also highly specialized) work of most Fortune 500 companies for pennies on the dollar. We need to focus on what we do best, which is, innovating. (We also need to insist that our legislators demand that our innovations stop being blatantly stolen by some of these same countries.)

So maybe a better question is, "How do we produce a generation of innovators?" Let's start by insisting on an exciting, rigorous, and "mile deep" science and math curricula. Let's have it be appropriately funded and let's assess it appropriately and regularly. The cool part is that we already know how to do this. No need for a presidential panel or pre-conference session. Let's just do what the NCTM and NSTA have been telling us to do. That wasn't hard, was it? (Don't get me wrong, I know that change is always violent.)

Also, if "the world is flat" we are going to have to make sure that the best and brightest in our country get special attention in order to ensure that our human resources are maximally utilized. Also, let's identify, challenge and support those students that show an unusual gift for innovation. This is what India has done by creating their brutally selective IIT academies. This isn't a "warm and fuzzy" suggestion, but it ensures that gifted students (however that is appropriately defined...hopefully not by zip code) are given a chance to reach their full potential. After all, it is the best and brightest Indian students that are taking our jobs. I wonder how an average child from India compares to an average American child? Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that?
Does anyone remember the 1989 SCANS report? It's good reading.

Q2- What role does technology play as a part of the solution?

Once you have defined a quality educational experience that creates deep and innovative thinking, simply apply technology to it. For example, if collecting, drawing meaning from data is important, use technolgies related to this topic. Data loggers, lego robotics, data bases, spreadsheets and web browsers could be suited to the task. Let's not apply them, though, unless they encourage deep thinking. Producing another generation of "Powerpointlessness" (Jamie McKenszie's term) will not help! Not every deep and thoughful science or mathematical experience may require an educational technology but there are many times when it can help to enhance the lesson by engaging and empowering the student.

Although, this wasn't asked, I think another factor that gives the 2nd and 3rd world students an advantage is their desire. They want to better their lives and they know that the key to doing it is education. They get it. This is exactly the same ethic that waves of immigrants in our own country have embodied. Consider this. When a young worker gets a job at a call center (a job that would be relatively undesireable to many top U.S. sytudents) it could result in health care benefits for their entire family! That's a life changing incentive. I look at my own son (granted, a decent student) with his PSP, iPod, and the many other adornments of an upper middle class American teen life and I wonder, "Will be able to muster the "ganas" it will take to make it in a 'Globalization 3.0' world?"

What do you think?

Splog Attacks?

Hi All,

This was a new one on me so I thought I would share it with you.

Splog Attacks

UCONN's Dr. Gil Dyrli does a great job of explainaing the issue. A blog attracts comments (well...not mine, but you get the point.) These comments can include links to products that are related to it, or not. Some fake sites are poser blogs. Which are really advertisers in blog clothing.

If this bugs you...<Fight Splog Now!

Peace out.

Jim :-)

Friday, January 06, 2006

More lap top program reactions

From eSchool News...

State laptop plan prompts mixed reaction
Some South Dakota educators say they're not interested in the governor's laptop computer proposal

The Link

It's obvious that getting lap tops into the hands of high schoolers, particularly those who would normally have access to them, is probably a good thing.

But, as usual, the devil is in the details. Some schools employees are complaining about the percentage of the costs that the district are going go to have to kick in for this program and would like the money added to the state aid formula.

There also appears to be no money set aside for training, software and maintenance??


Jim :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Myspace and our kids

Hi All,

This post is intended to be a barometer reading. Is anyone out there dealing with the use of as an issue in your school or household?

For those of you who don't know what I am talking about go here.

While my 8th grade son doesn't currently have a myspace page, most of his friends do. It's just a matter of time. I have been having an open conversation with him about how I feel about internet safety and what I consider "risky" on-line behavior. I also am letting him know that there is nothing wrong with blogging but that there are some things he needs to keep in mind. Although the look on his face says, "Whateverrr", I am sure that we understand each other on this.

This medium has great potential for good and I am sure that most kids are using it appropriately. I am just a bit concerned about how much information some of them are willing to post about themselves and their friends. I am also concerned about the images that kids are using to portray themselves on-line. It all feels a tad unsafe.

Here is a good blog on the topic. The post is part of a series on the topic.

I know...I know...I should get over it. Right? No? Let me know what you have experienced.

Jim :-)