Social media for Everyman? Not so sure…


I made the following response to Ewen McIntosh blog entry on

Social media for Everyman? Not so sure…

Yeah – I guess academia doesn’t like the fact that we can “learn” outside of their “formal” academic setting. It might give “everyman” a voice in their exclusive club, if this keeps up, we will just be able to learn without paying for it, oh yeah we still need that piece of sheepskin–such a pity…sarcarsm…or is that satire?

You said a lot when you said

“Everyman is getting a chance to have a think about these issues in a pretty intelligent forum, and pushing the thinking of ‘established’ education social media folk into something we’ve not really tackled properly with the larger public. Far from elitist Oxford-style debate, I’ve never seen these issues being discussed by as many from outside the elitist club of edubloggers (where you clearly speak at your peril).

How else would a second career – teacher from a small town in the middle of Maine, certified as a teacher through an alternative teaching certificate process, actually be able to comment on something this intellectually stimulating?

WOW! I can’t believe that I was actually able to say that. “humor”

Many of us may not have the academic credentials of some writers, PD presenters or the so-called educational elites, but we do provide a level of common sense of what actually works, in the trenches that sometimes is simply overlooked or ignored.

So while some out there may look down their noses at my feeble attempts to join into their conversations, I am actually having fun putting my opinions out there. I am not always right and know that when I am being dumb, that I will be called on it – and rightly so.

Getting submissions/posts shot down or validated is part of the process in this social learning environment that has been created for us and perhaps that is what the academic elite’s are having difficulty with. When they post out here readers people don’t put them on a pedestal and kowtow to their every thought. Perhaps they are too often challenged in this semi-anonymous environment where they do not have the perogative of flunking, poorly grading or telling someone to leave, to those that dare to question their lectures.

I do not ever claim to know as much as someone who has worked hard to earn their credentials, (I am not an expert at anything and gladly admit it, but I do enjoy learning, even as a member of the 50’s generation) but at the same time…once in a while I get lucky and pull a decent thought out of my @$$. The old sailor coming out in me. “humor”

Perhaps I misread/misunderstood some or all of this debate and went way off on a tangent, I probably focused too much on one paragraph of your post, but as you can see it really struck a cord to me. If I did and get shot down, because I totally bombed what was trying to be communicated to me, I won’t take it too personally and will use it as a social learning opportunity to read posts more closely next time. Good night and good luck. — Harold

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Education Predictions for 2008


I was wandering around on Google Reader and this blog site
came up as recommended and I started reading the overview page of “The Big Question” which asked for Predictions for Learning in 2008.
I hadn’t really thought about what my predictions for education in 2008 would be, but as a “newbie” to the Web2.0 scene here goes.
I purposely didn’t read any of the other predictions, and on some things I am rather vague.
1. That there will be partial study results “showing” that technology doesn’t positively affect classroom performance and this will be picked up by those who choose to minimize student progress that isn’t measured by test scores. You noticed that I said partial study results, if the complete study was put into correct context, it would have given a completely different result, but the “spin” doctors get out the information to support their point of view.
2. That the gap between “techno twinky” teachers and “mainstream” teachers gets a little bit wider. “The old refrain, I have taught this way for “x” number of years and “all” of my students meet standard, so I won’t re-invent their whole curriculum just to put some “toys” in place. See studies from prediction number 1.
3. That Education becomes a forgotten issue during the campaign as the economy and the Middle East become more critical issues.
3.a. That the next President forgets their campaign promises around education, because their plan was too expensive and in the midst of a recession/depression the country couldn’t afford it. Shouldn’t  it be the other way around, how could you not afford to educate the future or present work force.
4. That blogs, wikis and websites like Classroom2.0, that allow teachers to talk to each other, get new ideas, actually collaborate, break down more walls and make it seem as though we are not alone in our own little fiefdom anymore. (I know – this is a bit vague, but so hugely important to me.) In other words more teachers will talk to each other and pass around all those great ideas, we have from time to time. Or perhaps we can just vent to each other and retain what little sanity we have left.
5. That the Bush administration will attempt to sneak in/push through a bill keeping most of the provisions of NCLB as law through 2012. Hope this one doesn’t come true.
6. That there will become a larger push to make schools less of public institution and more pay as you go. Here comes the two class society, if it isn’t here already.
7. That there will be tremendous pressure to de-emphasize special education programs, as they are too costly, those students are the blame for many failing schools and the programs are not making a difference anyway. As a special educator I don’t agree, but I see this line of thinking more and more, even if not very many come right out and say it, it’s not very politically correct.
8. My pie in the sky predictions.
a. That the Federal Government decides that 1:1 learning is indispensable to achieving parity with other countries in the world and “mandates” that all students have a laptop computer.
b. Makes students and parents responsible for their actions – not schools or teachers.
c. Get rid of NCLB and allow local control of schools – No national curriculum.
d. Pay teachers a professional wage versus the minimum wage many now receive.
e. Allow teachers to teach, not just regurgitate information and how to fill-in dots.
9. Studies show that students when taught with a variety of methods, using a project based curriculum are better prepared to participate in “business” or (life after schooling) than their “successful” high scoring bubble-based counterparts.

10. That students are allowed to fail at least once before graduating high school. In the “real world” you learn more from your failures than successes. How many “golden children” experience their first failure after leaving for college and never recover from it?

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Falling Off Roof & XO Reflection


Well today was an interesting day, I shoveled around 3 1/2 feet of snow off my garage roof, which took almost 4 hours to finish it all.
As I was stepping on the ladder to climb down, it slid and I went for a ride.
While the ladder was sliding down and as I flipped over upside down, I watched my right leg go between the rungs of the ladder, but luckily when the ladder hit the other snow bank, I fell straight down through and didn’t break anything), I laid there for a couple of minutes checking everything out and seeing how badly I was hurt.  I didn’t bust anything, but it felt as though I damn near separated my shoulder, scraped up my legs pretty good and my back muscles hurt, boy am I sore and stiff now! I can’t wait until tomorrow morning, it will be a lot worse, but I will live through it!

Well to get back to education related.

I have played with the XO Laptop a few times since I got it and I definitely won’t be getting rid of my Windows based laptop anytime soon.  If you plan to stay strictly with the programs that are pre-installed it works well.  But I found Sugar clunky and the Linux OS installed just didn’t seem user friendly.  I attempted to install Firefox and Thunderbird for Linux, but still have not figured out how to do so.  It might be a real simple thing if I went ahead and did some reading, but it certainly wasn’t intuitive and I gave up after about 2 hours of attempting to do this.  I will give the XO a few more attempts, but for my uses it seems as though it is not really something that I would use all that much.  A great concept and for its intended audience it will be fine, but to more advanced users (and someone with larger fingers), it seems very clunky to me, and not very useful, especially if you can’t modify it to meet your needs.

I have been using technology since the old Vic-20s and MagCards and have had several computers and used different operating systems, so it isn’t like I am a newbie to all this technology.  So as part of my “change” since October is that the new applications/software or hardware that I use needs to be user friendly.  If I can’t simply start using something without a huge learning curve then I probably won’t use it.  The XO seems to be falling into that category – unfortunately.

Well sometime in the next couple of weeks, I have to put together my Moodle lesson plan so that will be prepared for my February training that will allow me to access the Maine DOE Moodle Website and I can start using it in my classroom.  My first order of business will be teaching my students about blogging.
Technorati Tags    technology,teaching,blogging,Blog,Linux,education,falling,XO,XOLaptop,Sugar,Moodle,clunky,Shaw

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Hi Everyone – well the first day back at school started with an hour’s delay.
I had 14 inches of snow in the dooryard and it took me almost 2 hours to clean it up. What a way to start a year, but I live in Maine so I have to expect it.

Well after lunch, I had a very pleasant surprise, I received the XO that I won in a drawing from the website: Thank you Jack!!!!! I really hope that your site is successful.

My very first impression was that it was really small compared to my laptop. But I really like it, it is actually quite cool and everyone at school thought it was pretty neat too. It won’t replace my laptop, but I can see uses for it when I am at conferences and to use it as an Internet machine. I am sure that I will find other uses for it as well, but typing on that keyboard is interesting and cuts my typing speed about in half, maybe more. Also getting used to the Linux basedoperating system that has it own quirks and has been something that I wanted to do, but just never got around to.

So over all it was really a pretty good first day after vacation and start to a new year.

Technorati Tags teaching,school,Linux,shaw,XO,Snowstorm

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2008 Goals

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS ( 10/25/10Well the new year is upon me/us. I have several things that I am going to accomplish this year, but I am going to limit myself on this list.

1. Loose weight (isn’t this the number one goal for a lot of us). But I for some reason each Sept – Dec, I go into what my wife kindly calls “slothdom”. I didn’t do it as bad as in past years but it was bad enough. So here are the beginning of the year stats:

January 1, 2008 stats—Target Stats by April 1, 2007
Weight: 181————-160
BMI: 28%, ————– 23%
Blood Pressure: 139/95 -110/78
(the highest of my life)
Pulse rate: 55. ———- 48

I have made a pact with Bill (another teacher) that whichever one of use looses our agreed upon weight first will get a $100.00 gift certificate to EMS. So I begin my lifestyle change today. I have specific things that I will do, but they are too long to put into this blog. Now if my wife would stop baking (homemade Cheesecake isn’t something to be refused). I guess it starts again tomorrow :).

2. Learn at least one new software/application per month. To start this month I plan on learning more about Moodle and learning how to Twitter, I have had a hard time with getting interested in Twitter (I have tried a couple of times), but “everyone” seems to be using it?????? Not sure why, it is not visually appealing and seems very clunky to me? I guess I will learn why so many are using it by doing it. What comes after Twitter I don’t know yet, maybe someone out there can give me a few ideas.

3. Continue to integrate Zoho suites into my life. I start using it a little in October and have continued increasing the usage a little more each month, I really like the interfaces and just “discovered” Zoho Notebook and it will change how I do many things. The problems that I have is that it doesn’t format the Special Education forms that DOE in Maine requires correctly(and again the privacy in the cloud issue, I won’t prep stuff with student identifying information in here). Also, today and yesterday showed another weakness, I wanted to go in and draft up this blog entry and Writer is not available and still is not this evening meaning I have not been able to access Writer for more than 24 hours which is simply unacceptable to someone who has to have a word processor available “on demand”. Therefore, I wrote this in Google docs, which I really don’t care for, it doesn’t maintain the formatting to my requirements.

4. While I really am attempting to wean myself from Microsoft Office (I just never really liked 2003)…that said I will probably buy 2007 for students and teachers sometime this year. It is still the industry standard and if I wish to remain current, I need to be able to utilize it.

5. Professionally – prepare myself for the future and teach to prepare my students for their future. I will use less: lecture, drill and kill, useless writing; to using Moodle to intro my students to online classrooms and to more authentic exercises that will be actually useful to the students. This is more work on my part, but I really believe that it is important for me integrate more technology into their lives.

6. One last goal is to prepare an electronic portfolio, that captures my teachingstyle and abilities.
7. Look at Linux a little more closely, I won an XO Laptop from (haven’t received it yet), so I will get to play around with Linux a little bit and find out how it compares to Vista.

While some of these are not very measureable (not smart goals), I will know when I meet them. I also have not put any relationship goals in this list, because they are between those people and myself only. 🙂

I hope you keep your New Year’s goals (I refuse to call them resolutions) as well as I am planning to.


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