Sunday, November 22, 2009


Flickr is a tool that has grown exponentially as a place to share photos with friends, family and the world. In addition to sharing photos, Flickr is a social network where people have conversations and post comments to photos. Its openness is reminiscent of Wikipedia before editorial review and embodies the spirit of democracy. But should students be set loose in this vast democratic world of Flickr? While the site has great promise for education, it can be a problem for teachers to allow students full access to the photos since the bad can be easily discovered along with the good. While students should be taught how to survive in a world increasingly connected socially via the web, schools need to proceed cautiously for their student’s safety. Most educators are leery of putting up photos with faces of students and may compromise by uploading images that don’t have children’s faces as a way of sharing images with parents.

There is also the legality of uploading images of students to consider. In our school district, each parent has to sign a media usage waiver and indicate what level of media access he or she approves. The list of students with various levels of approval is long making the uploading of images more complicated. That said, I know of many parents who enjoy seeing photos that the teacher has taken in the classroom. How much openness is okay? That is a question that is still being answered by school districts in regards to Flickr, YouTube and many other social networking sites.

I am not a teacher, but as a photographer and dedicated parent, I developed a unique photography unit 3 years ago as part of a 4th grade cultural partnership with the Guggenheim Museum. I introduce photography to the students and then they get a chance to explore photography as an art form. The unit is extremely popular with all the students, and especially with those who often despise art and those who have attention or disciplinary issues because taking photos is so much fun and engaging.

Since the students often take photos of other students, I can’t use Flickr to add a social element to this project. However, I found one idea that I could use for this project and I could also see it being used in a writing class as well. The group is called “Stories You Can Tell in School” ( The idea is to have a small set of photographs (4 – 6) tell a story. In the discussion, there are several wonderful stories that have been uploaded.

Here are two I liked a lot. The Birdfeeder shows a man on a motorcycle going into a plaza, the birds there the congregate around him and he starts feeding them. This story has an extensive description of each photo attached so that the story is both visual and verbal. My personal favorite is called Practical Hero, which is about a toy GI Joe going into the washing machine to retrieve a lost sock and then gets a hero’s kiss from the mother. Now words are needed – the photos are composed very well and clearly tell the story.

I might use this idea next year when I teach my photography unit. What is great about this use of Flickr is that students can stay out of the picture (avoiding the legal issues). To be honest, I’m not sure I would be able to upload to Flickr given that the students are only in 4th grade, but this is an idea that is an excellent way to use Flickr in education.

Standon, Amy. (2009)
My friend Flickr: A great photo opportunity. Retrieved November 22, 2009 from

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Intel has dedicated significant resources to supporting education in a variety of ways but for this review, the focus is on their Online Thinking Tools, which are one feature to free resources created specifically for K-12 education. This review describes briefly the three tools individually but the overall focus is on the three tools as a whole for use in the classroom. The 3 tools include Visual Ranking, Seeing Reason and Showing Evidence. Visual Ranking helps students evaluate and analyze information visually by applying criteria to assigning ranking to an ordered list. Seeing Reason asks students to create visual maps that look at the relationships of complex systems. Showing Evidence visually helps students develop arguments supported by evidence. Overall, these tools provide students multiple ways to develop meaning from information. In particular, each of the tools is highly visual, require using logic, and encourage collaboration. Finally, each of the tools has strong support from Intel to assist teachers.

Once the user clicks on any one of these tools, there are structures and features to each of the tools. Each of these tools has these common features:
1. Every tool has common tabs labeled as; Overview & Benefits, Try the Tool Project Examples Instructional Strategies and Workspace.
2. Every tool has a sidebar link with educational research to back up the use of the tool with references.
3. Every tool has a visual image of what the tool looks like when filled out from the Overview & Benefits page.
4. Every tool has animated demos, tutorials and help guides. Also, there are hot buttons at the bottom of every tab that assist teachers in contacting Intel’s Education department for more help.
5. Every tool provides examples of units that can be used immediately and are developed for a variety of grade levels.
6. Every tool includes strategies to help the teacher integrate the tool into their curriculum including the stages to use the tool and recommendations of how to assess student’s progress.

Positive Aspects:
Collaborative, engaging, backed up by educational research, free

Negative Aspects:

Sunday, November 15, 2009


BP20_2009113_Comments on CMYKRGBblog


Review Web 2.0 Tools: kuler

Kuler is a dynamic color-theme generator. It uses structured methods of color relationships and/or intuitive methods of visually choosing colors from an image or spectrum color wheel. The visual color information is easy for anyone to access, and very intuitive to use without knowing any code or specifications. The technical color information is useful cross-media data for print designers and web developers, and works well as a conversion tool between formats.

Main sections of the kuler website include Themes, Create: From a Color and Create: From an Image.

The community features let you browse the color themes posted by others for creative inspiration or share your own color themes with a team. Tags posted by the color theme creators make them keyword searchable. Comments and star ratings are enabled, and the number of downloads is tracked so that the themes can be ranked by popularity. There is even a Community Pulse area that visually shows the popularity of all colors by how many times they have been included in a theme.

There are many benefits of this free color-palette-generating service in that it is cross-platform (Mac or PC), cross-media (print or web), and it offers both visual and technical information for design and production. Kuler functions are also built into the InDesign CS4 and Illustrator CS4 applications of the Adobe Creative Suite software. A drawback of kuler is the need for a separate Adobe I.D. registration to use online, as well as a Flikr account to upload images because the Color Extraction feature can only access images uploaded to Flikr. Color Extraction has difficulty with CMYK-mode images, and this feature does not support color management, so associated color profiles of uploaded images will be ignored.

kuler could be used in a classroom lesson for design inspiration, print or web color gamut specification, or understanding relational color theory.

Help and more information about Kuler is available at

David Noller said...
Good day, Cathy!

As a Technology Curriculum Coordinator, I am charged with working with all of my teachers to help aid their instruction. This tool will be one that I will share especially with my publications instructors (who use InDesign 4) and with my art instructors, especially our Computer Art staff.

The concept is fascinating: sharing color palettes within a community of designers as a way to inspire and collaborate. Student designers have the opportunity to see what other designers around the world are using within their own work. This is such a great, simple idea. I just wish I knew what "relational color theory" is--I guess I'll leave that one to the designers. :)

NOVEMBER 11, 2009 6:43 PM
lesliegperry said...
As a designer, I am always trying to think of new color combinations that would work with my project. I loved having this resource of interesting combinations that I can use. I already have an Adobe ID and use InDesign often so I expect to integrate this tool immediately into my practice. I went in a posted on one of my favorites! Thanks for the review.

NOVEMBER 15, 2009 6:53 PM

BP19_2009113_Comments on Classrooms Are Not for Squares

BP11_11112009_Broadcasting with

What if you could broadcast your class to the world, or at least to that sick kid at home, and include the discussion and questions raised during your presentation? What if you could host a podcast with the opportunity for your live audience to make comments, ask questions, and participate in real time? Wouldn't that be awesome? The answer you are looking for is "Yes."

Ustream offers educators that opportunity--free of cost and with minimal hardware requirements. All you need is a computer with high-speed internet access and a webcam/microphone combination.

The first time I saw this tool demonstrated was in a room with over 300 fellow educators. Leslie Fisher, AKA My Tech Goddess, delivered a presentation on educational Web 2.0 tools at the 2008 MACUL Conference in Detroit, Michigan. By simply providing the link to her presentation, audience members who had internet access through either laptops or other mobile devices were able to join the text conversation that appeared to the right of her broadcast.

Fisher's image appeared on the large projection screen as she faced her webcam, and audience members posted responses to her poll questions, offered ideas, and asked questions about the material. The entire broadcast was recorded, allowing for the opportunity for those not in attendance to view not only her presentation, but the audience's participation as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The great benefit for educators who take advantage of this tool is that an entire lecture, demonstration, discussion, or other presentation can be recorded for those students who miss our classes for all the myriad reasons we hear about every day: home sick, gone for a sports event, attending a music festival, or staying home for the newest release of their favorite video game franchise. I had that last one today.

Ustream is collaborative, shareable, and free. What more could you ask for?


[Untitled Screenshot] Captured Nov. 11, 2009 from
Posted by David Noller at 6:23 PM

lesliegperry said...
This Web 2.0 tool has enormous potential. Putting on my PTA President hat, I would love to use this to allow working parents the opportunity to view and participate in meetings we have. Just recently, our new Superintendent visited our school. It was a great discussion and he presented his ideas for improving education for our students. Several parents told me they couldn't come because of work commitments. This could also be used for in-school presentations that parents might like to be a part of without actually being there. Great find!
November 15, 2009 6:31 PM

BP18_2009113_Comment on Blog_Pink's Blog
Wow! How excited I am to have come across this Web 2.0 tool. By the Chalkface Project, Yaca Paca is a free online assessment platform for both teachers and students. Their mission statement reads: "To make the best teaching ideas available to every teacher in the most practical way" ( I could not believe how comprehensive and thorough the site and its materials were as I clicked around on it. I am an English teacher, so I naturally looked over the information under English. There are printable and reproducible worksheets and teaching packets on punctuation, parts of speech, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and many other topics that most English teachers use. I went to the technology link and found lessons and worksheets on "Using the Internet as a Tool for Learning." There is a blog section with lots of interesting articles and blogs dealing with all kinds of subjects. I checked out a YouTube video entitled "Do you teach or do you educate?" Under the archives section, there appeared to be articles, materials, and the like going back to 2004. I am very impressed with my newly-discovered Web 2.0 tool.

I clicked on the "I'm a Student" button to see what would happen. It appears that the teacher must have an account and log-in password which she/he gives to the students. I will most definitely be bookmarking this site's URL and re-visiting it in the coming days. If it is as good as I think it is, I hope to be giving my own students a password so that they can begin exploring the site, also. I need to learn more about the student aspect of the site. I will have to let everyone know what I discover as I experiment more with
Posted by at 5:46 PM
Labels: web2.0 education yaca paca

lesliegperry said...
This looks like a great resource for teachers and students. The fact that it requires a teacher to set up student accounts adds a level of security missing from some of the other Web 2.0 tools that can be used for education.

If you are interested in exploring another Web 2.0 site that provides curriculum materials for English among other subjects, check out which I reviewed for this week's blogging assignment.


I discovered Curriki while I was reading Time Magazine (the paper version). There was an ad for the WISE Conference in Doha, Qatar that caught my attention because WISE means World Innovation Summit for Education. Hey, that was something I wanted to know more about. This is the first conference of WISE, which identifies its initiative as a “global event whose ambition is to create a new international multi-disciplinary platform to shape education models of the 21st century. (WISE, 2009)”

I checked out the individuals who won the awards in Pluralism, Sustainability and Innovation. There were various interesting educators from around the world –I encourage you to check them all out. This is how I discovered Curriki because Peter Levy from Curriki was awarded the prize in Innovation. What is Curriki?

Curriki, started in 2006, is a web-based platform dedicated to eliminating the educational divide throughout the world. Educators are able to find new curricular materials and upload their own lessons to add to the growing database. As stated in the flash video on the homepage, Curriki is the synthesis of “curricula or courses of study” with “wiki” a collaborative website where content is edited by members.” In Curriki, the community shares and collaborates openly on learning materials.

What makes this site remarkable is how well it is organized, the rating system to guide educators on their search for curricula, and the interactivity included in every lesson plan provided. In essence, it is an open platform for sharing your best teaching ideas globally that can be rated on quality of content and commented on by those who actually use a chosen lesson.

For this blog, I looked at two different lessons to get an understanding of the diversity and usefulness for education.

One of the “Recently Top-Rated” lessons was “One Hen: Microfinance for Kids.” This lesson is relatively simple because most of the curricula has already been done at the website and the PDF provided is also on the website. However, this is a wonderful site that many teachers may not know about. I found it by looking for something in Social Studies but it was also listed under the area of Mathematics. That tagging of appropriateness for grade-level and subject area in addition to the rating system (it received a “3” meaning “exemplary”) helped me find and explore this lesson. Comments from teachers who have used this site add validity that might otherwise stop a teacher from integrating this idea into their lesson plans. It is risky to try new ideas when they are untested – the rating system and comments help teachers have confidence integrating these new ideas.

Science education is something being reviewed this year in our school district so I was interested in looking at what was available in this core subject. There is an entire curriculum uploaded on “Earth Systems” designed for middle and high school level students. This full course received a “3” from Curriki in its review and received an award on August 25th, 2009 for content. The course was submitted by Kim Handle who works in Professional Career Development in Education at the New York Hall of Science in the borough of Queens in New York City. In addition to this collection, she also created one on “Social Media for the Classroom” which I plan to check out in-depth later on. This is an extensive lesson plan with 5 major units (Our Physical Earth, Weather and Water, Earth’s Atmosphere, Life on Earth: Past and Present, and Forecasting the Future) and detailed lessons within each of the major units. I took a look at one random lesson to review it in-depth. Unit 3, Lesson 6 is on the “Carbon Cycle.” There is an introduction to the lesson, time frame, learning objectives, guiding questions, materials needed for the two activities, detailed instructions for the two activities and a conclusion and wrap-up. In addition, it is noted that this content exceeds NY standards, which is important in this age of testing. In addition to the lesson plans, a variety of links to external websites and videos are provided. There is one link for the carbon cycle from The Encyclopedia of Earth and a video from NASA called “Exploring Ozone.” This comprehensive course could be followed in its entirety or specific lessons and activities used that suited a teacher’s need. And then a teacher can comment on its usefulness for other teachers or the content creator to edit. I was impressed by the level of detail prepared with this single unit because it asked students to get actively involved with discovering the subject and makes good use of web resources.

This is a remarkable website that brings Web 2.0 to the classroom in a comprehensive way. Think about how we can share globally with educators around the world. In winning the award for Curriki, WISE stated that “Curriki is boldly challenging the traditional publishing paradigm and changing the way educators teach and the way students learn around the world. (WISE, 2009)” Curriki currently has almost 90,000 registered members from over 180 countries. Curriki hopes to become self-sufficient by 2014 and have over one million educators in its network. For those teachers out there, I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you discover.

Curriki. (2009). Retrieved November 15, 2009 from:

World Innovation Summit for Education (2009). Retrieved November 15, 2009 from:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BP16_2009113_Virtual Worlds in Education

Like others who have already posted, I am not a fan of virtual worlds. I first explored Second Life as a part of MLR and then again in MLT. While I have learned how to get around albeit poorly, I have never enjoyed life in a virtual world and I doubt I ever will. This should not be a surprise. I am in my mid-40s and so while I’m a relatively advanced “techno-mom” according to my daughter and friends, comfort in the virtual world is just not part of my generation’s DNA.

The other night, my daughter was playing Cafe World, which is the #1 rated game on Facebook as of October 26, 2009 (Eldon, 2009). She also loves playing Farmville and Restaurant City (rated #2 and #5 respectively). I asked her if she thought playing these games was educational. She laughed. Pause. Then she said, “you know they kind of are” then went on to tell me that she has to be responsible in Café World (and others) because the food needs to be cooked, you have to plan the menu and take care of the customers. Despite my worries about her being a slave to a virtual café, I had to admit she was learning how to run a business that was fun and collaborative since her best friend also has a Café (and restaurant and farm). This is a world that I will never live in.

Her introduction to the virtual world came a few years ago when she received a Webkinz as gift and quickly fell in love with the virtual world of the toy more than the cute little stuffed animal. While I admire her enjoyment in the virtual world, I am concerned at her obsession with taking care of virtual customers. We still live in the real world with people. What I see in my children is a growing attachment to the virtual world, but how real is that world? What are the long-term implications?

This morning, I went to a memorial service for one of my best friend’s father. He was a very popular doctor in our town for years. The room was filled with friends and family who were touched by him. In that very physical room, the love felt by my girlfriend toward her father was deep and real. Can you ever get that in a virtual world?

I applaud Megan and Shelly for their commitment to finding a way to blend the virtual environment and the literary world to help facilitate understanding for their students. This is one of the most positive and interesting applications of the virtual world I have encountered so far. The worlds of Homer’s Odyssey or other classic literary works are impossible to visit in reality making it a perfect solution for visiting in a virtual reality. I can imagine that there are applications using the virtual world that would make sense in history and science as long as there are teachers with the intelligence and creativity such as Megan and Shelly are ready with the knowledge to find the right balance of educational classroom learning with the virtual environment.

As my daughter shows, immersion in the virtual world begins very early. Despite the enjoyment though and self-proclaimed learning, I think the virtual world remains primarily a place for leisure for most school-age children. It is the challenge of educators to find how to integrate this into the learning environment. The only detriment to that process will be if we ignore the virtual world because that attraction by the generation who feel at home in this environment can be used for positive educational effects when applied with intelligence and restraint.

Eldon, Eric. (2009, October 26). Our top 20 growing games list: The first results after Facebook’s big redesign. Message posted to Inside Social Games:

Comments posted to others regarding this topic:

@Brian and Cathy
I have been fortunate to travel throughout the United States, Europe and Israel over my lifetime. Second Life, the only virtual world I know, is no substitute for the real thing because part of what makes it special are the people and the personal feelings standing in the space no matter what the venue. Cathy, you are right at describing the lack of perspective and placement in the world associated with sites such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have visited and walked through the Vietnam Memorial many times – it is an emotional experience that can’t be replicated in a virtual environment no matter how well it is reproduced. Brian, I love your ideal scenario of combining Google maps with a virtual being. If that existed, maybe the virtual world could add the color and texture of the real world. Until then, I will remain skeptical.

@Toni and Toni
I agree that the security of the virtual world, especially Second Life, would be of concern if used in the classroom for K-12 unless there were specific places to visit. I also agree that it would be more difficult to control the discussion and attention unless students were committed to the experience, which would likely happen in the older grades. I think it remains to be seen how these challenges will be worked out. Given that YouTube is blocked by most school districts, I am doubtful that virtual worlds, especially those like Second Life, would be accessible within a school district any time in the near future. And without that access, it is unlikely that it can be used as part of the curriculum.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


“In the 20th Century, literacy meant the ability to read, write, and present cogent arguments on paper. In the 21st century, literacy is going to extend well beyond that and into what could be termed, a language of screens” (Barish, 2002). Considering the quote above, what exactly does it mean to be literate in today’s society? 

I’m in this degree program because I was exposed to the issue identified in this quote several years ago as I became knowledgeable about the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the elementary school my children attend. IB’s mission is to “promote intercultural understanding and respect, not as an alternative to a sense of cultural and national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century. (, 2009)” This is one critical aspect of literacy in the 21st century. Tom Friedman (2009) explains eloquently how our world has flattened so that individuals compete and collaborate directly with others across the globe. In this world, global understanding is critical to success. In addition to this mission, IB is at the forefront of developing the skills necessary for future jobs, many of which have probably not been invented yet. Beginning in kindergarten, the IB Learner Profile is deeply embedded into every lesson. An IB student is an: inquirer, thinker, communicator, risk-taker, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and reflective. These traits help create students who will become “active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand other people, with their differences, can also be right.” There is no doubt that this mission and these character traits are at the heart of what I feel constitute literacy in the 21st century. This definition does not include the latest technology available – instead it describes the type of person who would be ready for whatever the future brings.

While these social/emotional traits are the core of what I want from my children as 21st century learners, there are other important, more specific components that are critical for students today to learn. With the explosion of the web, the ability to locate, synthesize and evaluate the massive amount of information is an important skill to develop (Murray, 2003). 

Literacy in the 21st century is much more than reading and writing and it is much more than “a language of screens” as noted by Barish (2002). Literacy involves the student’s ability to combine global awareness with skills in: critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, leadership and responsibility, productivity and accountability (E-Luminate, 2009). Not surprisingly, the founder of E-Luminate (who also President of The Partnership for 21st Century Skills) is a supporter of the IB program. This list doesn’t look a lot like reading and writing although that is embedded in most everything on this list in some form. 

While there are many specific skills I know my children should learn to become literate in the 21st century, my own feeling is that the mix of skills described by IB and E-Luminate provide the overarching framework that I believe is necessary for them to survive and thrive.

E-Luminate. (2009). Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Friedman, Tom. (2007, November 7). The world is flat 3.0 – Video. Lecture presented for MIT Open Courseware. MIT. Boston, Massachusetts.

International Baccalaureate Organisation. (2009). Mission and strategy. 
Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

Murray, Janet. (2009, March/April). Contemporary literacy: Essential skills for the 21st century. The Online Educator. Retrieved November 8, 2009 from

BP14_2009112_Interview on IB


BP12_2009112_Social Bookmarking in Education

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:


Social Bookmarking

There is so much out there on the web. Sometimes I find great sites and bookmark them only to have them lost in a sea of bookmarks on my computer. I have several computers so that means my other computers don’t have those bookmarks. Ugh! Enter “social bookmarking.” There are several sites but the one I use and love is, which I started using several months ago.

The first most important feature of social bookmarking is the ability to tag websites. This allows me to find similar sites easily. I have a variety of interests including ballet, cycling, classical music, shopping sites that I love and a variety on technology and teaching. Remembering where each site is located can easily become overwhelming.

For students, social bookmarking is an opportunity to mark and share great sites in connection with research projects. For instance, my youngest son is beginning to work on his Exhibition, which is capstone project of his graduation from an IB elementary school. He is working with another student so the two of them can research sites and mark them. Each of them can research sites and then share them with each other, their teacher and other classmates. Conversely, the teacher can share important sites that might help all the students in the class such as tutorials on some of the technology they will use to create their presentations or sites for creating their references (Tangient, 2009)

The Delicious blog (2008) reports that librarians embraced social bookmarking sites for education. Libraries like the Nashville Public Library have created tags on a variety of subjects that patrons can click on to find sites that are relevant and valid (Rethiefson, 2007). Librarians can create tags to help local students with research projects and even tag for specific classes (useful by academic librarians).

Other bookmarking sites include Zotero (, a research tool from George Mason University that is also a Firefox extension (eSchool News, 2006). This site allows you to collect, manage, cite and share information easily within a web browser. It takes social bookmarking to the next level and would be most useful for researchers. I plan on trying it out for my research project!

I’m an organizer at heart – always have been – and it has frustrated me to find sites that matter to me and then lose them amongst the mass of my collected gems.

Gustafson, Britta. (2008, March 12). Who says librarians (and teachers) don’t like tags. Message posted to Delicious Blog:

Rethiefsen, Melissa. (2007, September 15). Social bookmarking and tagging boost participation. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Riddell, Roger. (2006, December 26). Social bookmarking makes its mark on education. Retrieved from

Tangient LLC. (2009). Link to classroom 2.0 social network discussions. Message posted to CR2.0:


Edmodo is a private, micro-blogging site developed specifically for teachers and students. This platform is intended to be a safe environment to share notes, assignments, links, events and alerts. At the welcome page, you need to sign up as either a teacher or student. Teachers begin the process by signing up as “teacher” and create a group. A unique code is generated which the teacher distributes to the students. Students must have this unique code in order to sign-up. No email is necessary for students to register. Students are able to customize their pages by adding a photo and setting alerts including mobile phone alerts. Teachers can manage multiple groups (or classes) from their main page and upload assignments that are for one or more groups. Uploading files such as assignment information or class syllabus is easy.

There is support provided by Edmodo staff in the “edmodo” or “support” group, which is automatically added to the teacher’s homepage. In addition, a Wiki site provides documentation and tutorials on a variety of topics. However, the site would benefit from some video tutorials particularly before signing up so the teacher knows more about it and then other videos designed to help teachers and students understand how to use the tool. On the Edmodo blog, it was noted that this tool is best used for middle and high school students although there are teachers using it in the fourth and fifth grade. Recently, Edmodo was mentioned as an important tool in the Horizon Report K-12 Edition (other tools mentioned include Skype and Twitter) and eSchool News identified Edmodo as one of the six technologies that will affect education.

I created a "classroom" with my son to test this out. It is an easy interface to use and I liked being able to embed videos that play directly in Edmodo. I have colleagues who are teachers and have started using this tool with success.

The most important feature of Edmodo is that is provides a safe, collaborate environment for students. One of the concerns in many school districts as they evaluate the use of different new technology tools is the safety factor for their students. It is the school’s responsibility to provide a safe place for all their students, which is why school servers often block YouTube and Facebook. Edmodo is different because it offers the interactive, collaborative platform of Facebook in a private and safe platform.


My youngest son is in 5th grade. Given that his Mom is into technology and education, I encourage him to explore and use sites that help with his learning. And one of the main areas of interest for me are sites that extend learning outside of the school environment that are fun and engaging.

Simon found a site he enjoys but that is annoying is They are mindless games with no educational value and I want to find something else that will engage him without my prompting. I know he will play games that are educational because he has several Apps on his iTouch that he enjoys including MathDrills to practice math facts, WordWarp to develop word skills and Finger Physics, which is fun but is about solving puzzles involving all the fingers. Lately, I’ve found more Apps that are interesting than websites, which offer the same fun-factor with real learning. And few sites offer any collaboration.

While researching the website Lumifi (see blogpost BP8_20091102_Web2.0_Lumifi), I discovered a site on Web 2.0 websites for the classroom and one of these sites was run by the National Center for Education Statistics. This site is a wonderful mix of student polls, word of the day, quizzes on various subjects, data snapshots, probability games, graphing tool and more. Together, Simon and I checked out the stuff and he enjoyed participating in the poll (“Do you think homework is helpful?) and seeing the results and taking several quizzes on geography and mathematics. The quizzes are fun and offer levels for 4th, 8th or 10th grade. Even my 10th grader was interested in participating! While I’m not sure this will hold his attention quite as long as a video game, he asked me to send him the link to his email so he could do it himself. That is good. Check this one out!

Here is the site I found on Lumifi that led me to this great site!


Lumifi is a website designed to help find good research on a topic, organize it and collaborate on it with friends, colleagues or the world. The website says that universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, John Hopkins and MIT use Lumifi to organize their research and collaborate. The website is well designed with a clean interface and sense of professionalism. Amazingly, it is free to anyone although organizations can have Lumifi create custom interfaces using the software for a fee. Lumifi is a combination of sophisticated database engines that use a "contextual analysis system" which analyzes content to help refine searches for information.

It is easy to register and begin working although I feel that a tutorial would have been very helpful. While it was very easy to search, I was unclear how to save that search to a Notebook I created and I didn't know how to collaborate with others. I searched Google to see what others had said about Lumifi and it seems that many reviewers were disappointed by the interface's functionality. Disruptive Library Technology Jester (DLTJ, 2008) also noted that there was no help provided as to how to use the site effectively. So while it is easy to search for relevant websites on a topic, it isn't so easy to do anything with those searches. I search Web 2.0 and found several interesting articles, but could not save that page to a notebook and couldn't figure out how to collaborate with others on my findings.

I think what is important in reviewing this website is that not all Web 2.0 tools are going to be good. This one looks professional and seems to have been built solidly but the interface is confusing and hard to understand. There seems to be a lot of promise in having a website where I can search sites that are relevant to my search and then share them with others in a cohesive way but unless I am missing something, Lumifi does not deliver on that promise. That said, I did find a great source for Web 2.0 tools that I didn't find before. Too bad I couldn't figure out how to do more with it. I'll keep looking for this type of tool - it is needed. If anyone has found something that does this, please let me know.

Murray, Peter. (2009 September 4) Test driving Lumifi. Message posted to Disruptive Library Technology Jester:

Monday, November 2, 2009

BP7_2009111_Twitter in Education

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I love Twitter. I only discovered Twitter for myself in July while watching one of my favorite sporting events, the Tour de France. I fell in love with the short bursts of information, links to great articles and fun TwitPics (of which Lance posts many). As I started my Master's program, I added others related to Full Sail, education in general, classmates and professors to my "Following" tab. So now my tweets vary between a note from FSO on site maintenance to my friend Chuck who is an architect and tweets often on design, to Lance and a variety of other professional cyclists, Al Gore, Queen Rania - it is an eclectic group. It would be nice to have a way to organize them into groups...

Presto! Magic! Twitter announced a new Beta feature of Twitter Lists on October 2, 2009. With Lists, Twitter now has group functionality so you can organize users that are similar. For instance, I could put all of my classmates and professors from Full Sail in one group. It makes it easier to follow the conversation and understand what the thread might be when these posts are not interrupted by posts from Lancearmstrong, trainright, edutopia, mashable, newscientist, isdnews and others. It hasn't taken long for new applications to spring forth to help manage these lists.

What is cool about Twitter Lists is that this new functionality doesn't just help me. Of course, it's great that I can organize all of my tweets on the cycling world in one list, but the great part is that this list can be shared publicly or be kept private. I made all of my lists public so if other Twitter users would like to follow the list I've organized, they can do so. What is different about following someone else's list is that you are not following all of these tweets individually in your main stream - only in the list (Catone, 2009). And how do you find other lists that are interesting? One way is to visit the people you are following and see what lists they have because if you're following them, then there is a good chance they might have a list that is of interest to you.

Since the announcement of Twitter Lists, there has been a fury of new ways to find and manage Twitter Lists. Of note is Listorious, a third-party site which manages lists. Since users make lists, those that create the lists are referred to as "curators" and the lists are the live Twitter streams from those the curator has chosen to group together. Listorious organizes these lists, ranks them by type and popularity. For instance, I chose to follow "Thought Leaders" and "New Media" amongst others. You could choose to follow the top celebrities on Twitter, "Great Content" which has the most re-tweeted content or lists on healthcare, comedy, finance etc. (See photo at top of one moment of tweeting from New Media list.)

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How is this useful? And how does it apply to education? Twitter is already being used in education in a variety of ways whether gathering information or getting out ideas. Ideas and inspiration come from different source. Twitter is one of the best ways to get a quick glance at what is happening in a wide variety of areas. Most organizations post links to interesting articles - I've found articles I would never have seen if I didn't find it on Twitter. Students today need to know about what is happening in the world today and mash together that information with what they are learning. Twitter motivates students to find information and share because it is something they enjoy doing (Cooper, 2008). Twitter helps students connect to the real-world learning rather than studying in isolation. Twitter is a great tool for doing this - Twitter Lists improves upon this by helping us sort what we are finding and Listorious is a great tool for finding lists that matter.

And just to add to that, a new application emerged, Twitter Lists Widgets, which allows you to post a specific list to your website or blog (Van Grove, 2009). I tried to use the html code to embed this widget in my blog here - that didn't work as of yet but I'll keep trying. This blog is about making and mashing information together for education. Part of the challenge today for students is finding the information that is relevant and useful, organizing it and then being able to quickly view it without all of it becoming overwhelming. Twitter Lists and Listorious have just made that task a little easier.

Catone, J. (2009, November 2). How to: Use Twitter Lists. Retrieved from:

Cooper, C. (2008. August 22). 50 ideas on using Twitter for education. Retrieved from:

Van Grove, J. (2009, November 2). Twitter Lists Widget: Embed your lists on your blog. Retrieved from:

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A PLE is a "personal learning environment." One of the most popular, and free, PLE"s is iGoogle. There are a vast number of gadgets that help organize all of the web resources we use each day. Instead of going to Facebook or Twitter, these gadgets make it easy to read posts and respond. Other gadgets provide a variety of feeds to news organizations, photo sites, bookmarking sites, utilities and just plain fun items.

Check out my PLE in iGoogle.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I love information. I read the New York Times each day (the paper version via home delivery) and check Twitter for feeds ranging from Edutopia and New Scientist to Lance Armstrong (one of my heroes) and various friends. I love new information because what I'm good at is synthesizing information and using it to help educate. Not surprising, I'm loving RSS feeds. What I love most about them is that I have subscribed to organizations that I like to get information from and with the RSS, I can get the specific information I like delivered directly to me.

I'm not a teacher and in fact, I'm not employed full-time so I have chosen feeds that are important to me and where I am going. I have been a producer of an event called the International Achievement Summit for the past 18 years. In those years, I have met and worked with outstanding achievers from all fields who have inspired me.

The first feed I'm following is from Tom Friedman, my favorite NYT columnist. I heard him speak several times for the Academy over the past few years including his thrilling presentation on The World is Flat when it was first published (see photo of myself with him above at the Achievement Summit 2007). That book and his presentation inspired me to pursue a path centered around education for the 21st century along with a panel discussion on education with his friend and another person I admire greatly, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson (President of Rensselaer Polytechic Institute). I recently watched a podcast of The World is Flat 3.0 created for iTunesU at MIT (Free Open CourseWare) in April 2009. Friedman is my compass point - helping to set the path for where I need to go if I want to make a difference. What a wonderful thing to have his commentaries now delivered directly to me!

Another source of inspiration for me is the TED Conference. I have watched several videos and love the new ideas and mashing of information from disparate sources. That is what the world is about today. So I'm following this.

I fell in love with Edutopia in the first month of this master's degree when I did a literature review on I see George Lucas at every Academy of Achievement event, but I had no idea he had created this fabulous organization until I started this program. I follow Edutopia on Twitter and now I'm following their RSS.

There are several other related sources I have chosen to follow in Reader to help guide me in my studies and work. These three are all news feeds related to education. They include NPR Topics (both Technology and Education), BBC News in Education (for an "over the pond" point of view), MIT World, Educational Technology and NYT Education. All of these combined give me a daily feed of new information on education to be mashed and used for the creation of who knows what.

BP3_2009111_PPT_11 advantages of using a blog for teaching

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Using blogging in education is how to mash things together. What is education? It is a process of learning, enlightenment, and knowledge. The definition doesn't say that education only happens in a classroom. Educational blogs are a way of breaking the walls down between the classroom and anywhere else. In the 21st century, that means also collaborating with others. The classroom is still an important place for discussion, but sharing can and should be done outside of the class.

Digital Native students are used to this collaborative culture for social reasons, developing the practice for use in education is a natural extension of the classroom. Duffy and Bruns (2006) described the use of blogs, wikis and RSS feeds as a "Conversation of Possibilities." Each tool has the potential to help a student write their ideas, relate incoming information to it, and have interaction with other students about concepts and ideas.

Richardson (2006) described how the use of blogging, wikis and RSS feeds can promote critical thinking skills, creativity, analytical thinking and has the potential for learning with access to new, relevant information. It is a combination of solitary work of writing and collaboration through the social interaction of commenting.

Blogging allows students to blog at a time and place of their own making giving them freedom to set their own learning agenda. Discussions started in the classroom can be expanded over time after there is a time for reflection by students and teacher alike. Everyone participates in the discussion. In this manner, education is extended outside of the formal classroom and becomes a organic part of each student's daily life rather than a task to be completed.

In short, blogging creates a student-centric learning experience where self-discovery and peer-to-peer teaching take the place of one-way teacher-driven lecture environments. Students learn to express themselves and they can monitor a change in thinking over time. (See Slideshare on 11 advantages of using a blog for teaching).

Image from Creative Commons


KanMakem: I am creative and I make things. I make things that organize and interpret and present in a manner that is more understandable. Why KanMakEm? Because that is me. Where did that word come in? I love skiing and I ski at Telluride. For anyone who knows Telluride, you have already got the link. There is a famous run there - double diamond - called KantMakEm. So in honor of My Favorite Place, I KanMakEm.

KanMashEm: As I said, I organize and interpret. I'm the classic liberal arts student. I graduated from Colby in Art and Biology, went to Parsons School of Design and have mixed all sorts of ideas in creative ways. Why KanMashEm? Because I can mash together ideas that create something new. Where did that word come from? Well, it obviously relates to KanMakEm. But why Mash? Well, because one of my favorite people to listen to is Tom Friedman and he talks about "mashing" ideas together in The World is Flat 3.0.

So there you go. Welcome to KanMakEm KanMashEm!