Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Jason Ohler Blog!

In an e-mail from Jason...

Hello Jim-

I wanted to let you know that my web journal subTechst is featuring, among other things, short excerpts from my new book, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning and Creativity.

You can sign up to receive postings via email at the journal site (, or simply visit the subTechst journal when the muse moves you to do so. The site also provides a link to a "how-to guide" for doing digital “green screen” storytelling in the classroom, which I hope you find helpful.

Kind regards-

Dr. Jason Ohler
President’s Professor, Educational Technology
University of Alaska

Monday, February 19, 2007

Steve Jobs- tech won't help until bad teachers are fired

For the record, I am a MAC fan, but I mean, Ouch! I can actually hear the Apple sales falling in the educational world after this article. (I wonder if Apple sales fall if they hit someone like Newton on the head and lead to universal gravitation theories? Ok...I am officially over-caffeinated today.)

The AP quotes Jobs as saying, "I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way." He also states, "This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

After warming up the educational world with his astutue comments..cough...cough.... he then elaborated on his vision for textbook-free schools in the future.

Perhaps the Wiki-like books would save education from the evil tenured teachers?

Come on y'all... let me hear from you on this one.

Jim :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Princeton Questions Ed tech in their Classrooms

An article on the Daily Princetonian Web site reveals concerns that Princeton has with the use of ed tech in class, in particular, the use of lap tops and Powerpoint.

Apparently there are experiencing distracting uses of lap tops in class (IMing/YouTubing etc.) and they are looking to regulate, and not ban, lap top use. Also, Powerpoint is being questioned as a meaningful method of instruction.

I commend the Princeton community for their ability to look into these issues in a reasonable way with the goal of improving the quality of the learning experience for their students.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Assessing 21st Century skills

This is a schizophrenic post, because I see both sides of this issue. One one hand,this article by Scott McCleod is a great resource for finding out about the current set of 21st century skill assessments. I like the authentic nature of some of the tasks that they require and agree that knowing how to use media is useful in the 21st century.

On the other hand, the described goal of 21st century learning as, "to prepare students who can be productive citizens in the new technology-suffused, globally-interconnected economy" always leaves me wanting. Let's not even get into the fact that so many kids are lacking the basic skills necessary to craft a boolean search. I always have a little part of me that wonders if creating little economically productive units should be the "end of education". Shouldn't the goal be a little more lofty? Shouldn't it read a little more like Neil Postman's "learning how to make a life, not make a living?"

What do you think?

Jim :-)

Friday, February 09, 2007

I am a "new Voice".

Hi All,

Scott McLeod has named me one of the "new voices" of the ed tech blogosphere. I appreciate the kind words about the blog and enjoy the fact that I am his "favorite contrarian"! :-) I am taking that as the intended compliment.

Here is a reponse I crafted for his blog, for the many people who may be encountering me for the first time.

It was really kind of you to highlight on your Dangerously Irrelevant Blog (which, by the way, is one of my Blogline feeds that I check daily).

For those who may be new to the site I would like to offer a little background. started as a magazine style site in March of 2001. I was encouraged to actualize the site after a brief conversation with Ian Jukes about my vision for the space. (I doubt he would remember it, but it was over a bite in Stamford, CT.) Many of the "Mavens", who offer varying points of view on the use of ed tech in schools, wrote articles at no cost for the site in order to help generate meaningful conversation. I am grateful that they were willing to do that. In March of 2005 I decided to stop pestering these people for free articles and switched to the blog format ( to allow the world to interact around controversial questions and ideas related to educational technology.

I hope that my contribution to the ed tech blogosphere will allow for open conversation where no "sacred cows" exist. We need to continue to face down the real issues associated with the use of ed tech in REAL schools in an honest manner. This allows the world of ed tech to move forward, not based on business plans and units sold, but on great ideas from front line teachers and those who know what great teaching looks and feels like.

I play the role of contrarian but you all should know that I am a licensed teacher who has a dozen years of science and technology teaching experience in public schools who has embraced the use of ed tech, where I found it to be appropriate. I started with my ed tech journey with Apple IIe Muppet Keyboards with K-4 kids, moved to level 3 laserdisc use with middle schoolers utilizing titles like "science sleuths" and "the great ocean rescue" and even Asst-coached an award winning Lego Robotics team.

I may be a contrarian but I am no luddite. I just think that, given the significance of ed tech, it is worthy of a rolling conversation. As Francis Bacon said, "A prudent question is one half of wisdom." If I ever post a dumb or obvious question, smack it down with a great response.

That's the whole point.

All the best!

Jm Forde :-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Blog Post...Are ed tech conferences obsolete?

Here is an interesting blog posting that asks whether or not ed tech conferences are worthwhile. This is a really taboo question, which is why I loved it. :-)

Click here to see what the author, Jerram Froese. Coordinator of Instructional Technology. Irving ISD. Irving, TX thinks about the topic.

What do you think? Is the "baby being thrown out with the bath water" or are we getting a glimpse of the "emperors clothes" for a change?

Jim :-)

NEW ISTE NETS (standards)

Hi All,

I read with great interest about the new ISTE NETS. You can read about them here!

Any reactions?

Let me know!

Jim :-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Learning With Technology: research brief

I often ask bloggers to defend their ed tech ideas as a way of generating conversation about the topic. The ultimate goal being to raise the level of that conversation and to educate everyone involved.

Mike Muir of the University of Maine has contributed greatly to this by producing a wonderful research brief with great food for thought and an amazing set of links to follow.

You can access it here. Let me know what you think? Do you agree or disagree with his summary? Any reactions to the resources selected? What was left out?

Jim :-)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Wireless Internet in college...yes/no?

This blog posting asks whether or not wireless internet is too much of a distraction in the college level classroom. There seems to be interesting give and take on this at the bottom of his page. Since I was an undergrad when playing "Galaxian" was cool, this is a new issue for me. Would I have zoned out and IM'd my buddies in the student center or cross referenced my professor's comments by visiting Wikipedia for additional inoformation? I'd like to think the latter.

What's your experience?

Jim :-)

Bill Gates talks education tech

This article from MacWorld (How Ironic?) discusses an outline of Bill's vision for ed tech. They quote him as saying, "We are now on the verge of something where technology will make a difference,". What year is this? Hasn't ed tech been making a difference? Is this thing on??

There is no doubt in my mind that the Gates Foundation is attempting to do great stuff in the worlds of education and public health. It is sort of cozy though that these comments came at, "an annual Microsoft-sponsored conference attended by government leaders throughout Europe." Can you say, "vista sales"?

I think that Microsoft is starting to hear the footsteps of web based software solutions like Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which cost..... oh yeah, THEY"RE FREE!

I encourage you to read the article and form your own opinions.

JIm :-)