Sunday, May 25, 2008

Can We Really Trust Teachers With Their Content?



The first question I get is this:

"Are you sure you want teachers to share their stuff without ANYONE approving it first?"

What? From a fellow teacher? Aren't we supposed to advocate for each other?

Since there's been teachers, there's also been content they've been creating and collecting. I know when I left the classroom, after 20 years, I had over 50 boxes of STUFF. Now, thankfully, we're moving away from the boxes of stuff and towards collecting those resources on digital devices. The storage solution has been solved
for now, but what hasn’t really been solved, until recently, is the sharing part.

In our district, if a teacher wanted to share their resources with another teacher he/she:
  1. needed to know another teacher wanted the resource
  2. needed a way to hand the resource to the teacher or
  3. teachers could set up a shared network folder in their schools, and other teachers could browse that folder, but they would still need to know that the asset was there
Likewise, if I was planning a lesson and needed a resource, but didn't know where to find one, I would not know who to ask, so the 3 steps above would not be helpful to me.

For a few years now, I’ve been largely immersed in a project that encourages and gives our teachers a platform to share digital content. One solution we rolled out this last year has been a collaborative project between our district and Discovery Education called, OnePlace. It allowed teachers to search by keyword or standard and find resources from content from DE Streaming, other service providers and our local (teacher shared) content. OnePlace was very popular because it allowed a single sign-on into our DE Streaming service (multiple usernames and passwords is never popular) and because teachers loved the idea of being able to access other teachers' shared content.
Big problem though: teachers who submitted content needed to wait for approval. They also could not upload the content themselves. They needed to seek out the one person at their school who was trained to do this. Ok, we dealt with it, but clearly not perfect. Because of this hurdle, the amount of local content is minimal.

As we evaluated what our priorities are on these types of services, we realize we want most of all for our teachers to be able to share without
burden, delay or BigBrother watching. We want our teachers to be treated like the professionals that they are! We listened to the feedback from our teachers, and so we are moving to the next generation of OnePlace which is Discovery's newest media sharing product called MediaShare. Personally, I'm so excited about MediaShare because I know it's exactly what our teachers have been clamoring for in an interface that will finally work for them. It will finally allow our teachers to have that YouTube-like experience with their digital content, share locally or nationally, create RSS feeds, and so much more! Best of all, ALL teachers will be able to control their own content with no approval process, just like on YouTube.

MediaShare hasn't yet been released, but I have shown it to a few test groups in my district. In my discussions with some teachers about what's coming with MediaShare, mostly the open sharing part, that's when the question pops out!

"Are you sure you want teachers to share their stuff without ANYONE approving it first?"

Here's where I don't get it!! Are these teachers who don't trust each other? The conversation continues and the bottom line always comes down to the feeling that inappropriate or inaccurate content may be posted and what then??? My response?

I am not the Content Police.

In my mind, this is no different than working students on blogs or wikis. Teachers, like students, must be educated on what it means to be good digital citizens.

Bill Ferriter blogged about this recently when he had a teacher email him to ask about the risk of inappropriate content being posted by students. He had just done some professional development with teachers on the use of wikis in the classroom and as you can see, the "Fear Factor" seems to run deep in all teachers. His comments and his post are directed towards using similar tools with students. If you substitute the word
teachers for students in most of what he says, his points are still well-taken.

As far as your concerns about wikis go, you're right that there is the risk that inappropriate content may be posted before you get to it. That is an unavoidable fact of any efforts to get kids to create and communicate using Web 2.0 tools---and it is a fact that I had to wrestle with long and hard before engaging my kids in work with wikis.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that taking the risk was worth it because the rewards were pretty meaningful and real.


"Are you sure you want teachers to share their stuff without ANYONE approving it first?"

How do you deal with teachers who feel that way about each other? And, do you have a progressive sharing resource like this that allows sharing without moderation? What are your solutions? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blogging For Memories

Back In The Day...
When my kids were born, we shot video and took pictures and if you were like me, you still have a lot of the rolls of film still laying around, undeveloped. I still have VCR tapes labeled "Jordan First Food" or "Josh Walking." Unfortunately, I have nothing to play them on and although I can find a VCR, hook it to a converter and create a digital copy, let's just say.... it hasn't happened yet.

To Share, You Had to Touch!
In addition, if I wanted to share my favorite moments with my kids' grandparents, they needed to be sitting next to me on my couch as we flipped through the scrapbook (which, by the way, stopped accumulating items when my oldest was 5 and my youngest was 2). They are now 18 and 15 and although I still accumulate the "stuff" I just don't glue it anywhere.

But Now...
Today's moms and dads have so many easy and free tools out there for them to share their children's world. There's Blogger, Flickr, BabyGrapevine, Albelli, Respectance, and StoryofmyLife, to name just a few.

My cousin, Nicole, created this blog for her son, Tanner, when he was born. She posts periodically and usually includes photos or some videos she "threw together" using iMovie. As a blogger, she's not concerned with traffic or comments or her Technorati ranking. Her readership is her family and friends and Tanner's little buddies.

Later on, it will be Tanner and his wife, kids and friends who will benefit from seeing his history played out, as a permanent record, on Blogger. What a nice gift his parents are building for him today!

I'm interested in how other young families are using Web 2.0 tools in their family circles. Do you have a story to share?

Even though you don't know Tanner, this video will make you smile! Check it out. Here's Tanner's progression towards taking his first steps.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Winners, Bloopers, All About Nothing!


I Love Bloopers!
Enjoy some fun Seinfeld bloopers below. But first...

The Winner Is...


Congratulations to Riptide Furse (Fred Delventhal ) for correctly answering (almost) all of the questions from my last blogpost on Seinfeld trivia!

Content and answers to my last blogpost came from SI.com story and Wikipedia.

  1. Teri Hatcher was in this 1993's episode called, The Implant, and they were "real and spectacular."
  2. Markiska Hargitay auditioned for the "Show Within The Show" as Elaine in this '93 episode, although Sandi Robbins played the role.
  3. Megan Mullally played George's girlfriend, Betsy, when he "double-dipped a chip."
  4. Jennifer Coolidge is the masseuse of the title who frustrates Jerry by refusing to give him a massage. George also falls for her because, "She just dislikes me so much ... It's irresistible."
  5. Courtney Cox posed as Jerry's wife so they could receive a dry-cleaning discount, only to discover that they weren't ready for the demands of a fake marriage. Still, they'd alwayshave pancakes.
  6. George made a trip with Jerry to appear on The Tonight Show and he ran into Corbin Bernsen there. George tells him his idea for the perfect L.A. Law episode, and Corbin Bernsen berates him on the air.
  7. A recovering substance abuser who refuses to apologize to George as part of his Alcoholics Anonymous ninth step. James Spader had refused to loan George a sweater because he said George would have stretched out the neck hole.
  8. The eccentric boss of Elaine. John O'Hurley often forced Elaine to do things by threatening to fire her if she didn't, such as going out with a deaf co-worker, seeing (and liking) The English Patient, and stop carrying Tic-Tacs because of the sound they made.
  9. Larry David played the voice of George's boss, the rambling, hard-nosed owner of the New York Yankees.
  10. Jerry Stiller was George's father. Inventor of the holiday, Fesitivus (For The Rest of Us).
Humor is a Funny Thing

It was fun to create the quiz and although there only a few comments here on the blog, I did receive a few thoughtful tweets from some interested folks with some comments about how Seinfeld touched their lives over the years. One in particular that became a running joke at a school years ago, and now brought back recently at a teacher's retirement party.

For Fun! Some Bloopers From Seinfeld!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trivia About Nothing! But You Can Still Win!


Could it Be 10 Years Already?

Ten years ago this week, 76 million viewers tuned in to watch Seinfeld say goodbye. (Most of them immediately started complaining about the finale.) But the show didn’t really go anywhere—as a matter of fact, I don't even bother to Tivo Seinfeld, because if I want to watch an episode, I know it will always be on.

Hardly a day goes by when you don't hear someone in my household quoting from an episode.

Who Would've Known?

So many famous actors cycled through those doors on the seinfeld set. You'd have to pay very close attention to catch them all. Even a die-hard Seinfeld fan might have a little trouble answering these trivia questions. How many actors can you identify? (Answers in the next blogpost).

Are you up for a challenge? Post your answers in your comments.

Win a prize!!!

Along with the answers, the winner will be profiled in my next blogpost. Any information you provide will also be profiled, so in addition to your answers, here's your chance to promote yourself with your blog, Twitter, FaceSpace, MyPlace, etc. :) Because GeekyMomma's blog gets SO MUCH traffic, this is a GREAT prize! SUBMIT YOUR ANSWERS IN YOUR COMMENTS BELOW. Have fun and thanks for visiting! ~Lee

  1. She was in this 1993's episode called, The Implant, and they were "real and spectacular."
  2. She auditioned for the "Show Within The Show" as Elaine in this '93 episode.
  3. She played George's girlfriend, Betsy, when he "double-dipped a chip."
  4. She is the masseuse of the title who frustrates Jerry by refusing to give him a massage. George also falls for her because, "She just dislikes me so much ... It's irresistible."
  5. She posed as Jerry's wife so they could receive a dry-cleaning discount, only to discover that they weren't ready for the demands of a fake marriage. Still, they'd alwayshave pancakes.
  6. George made a trip with Jerry to appear on The Tonight Show and he ran into this actor there. George tells him his idea for the perfect L.A. Law episode, and this actor berates him on the air.
  7. A recovering substance abuser who refuses to apologize to George as part of his Alcoholics Anonymous ninth step. This actor had refused to loan George a sweater because he said George would have stretched out the neck hole.
  8. The eccentric boss of Elaine. He often forced Elaine to do things by threatening to fire her if she didn't, such as going out with a deaf co-worker, seeing (and liking) The English Patient, and stop carrying Tic-Tacs because of the sound they made.
  9. The voice of George's boss, the rambling, hard-nosed owner of the New York Yankees.
  10. George's father. Inventor of the holiday, Fesitivus (For The Rest of Us).
There can be more than one winner. All winners will be profiled in next blogpost. Contest will end at noon on May 18, 2008.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bring YouTube Through The Firewall!


Stuck Behind The Firewall?

So often when giving a workshop or even teaching students, I find myself behind a firewall that does not include sights such as YouTube. I understand the reasoning behind this, and there's no argument there, but it does make it difficult to share the multitude of valuable resources that are posted on sites like YouTube. So one of the solutions I use is to convert the videos to a format that allows me to simply bring the videos with me. I've always used Zamzar for this and it's been pretty friendly until recently, when I've been getting errors, such as "file type not supported." With Zamzar, the files can also take hours to convert, and I can be impatient when I'm trying to put together a presentation (especially at the last minute).

Well, recently I stumbled on Movavi. There's a few things I really like about Movavi.
1. You can embed Movavi into your iGoogle page or add buttons to your browser.
2. You can combine videos into a single video.
3. It works fast.
4. It works with all of these sites:
youtube.com, blip.tv, break.com, dailymotion.com, video.google.com, ifilm.com, metacafe.com, myspace.com, myvideo.de, sevenload.com and more!




A brief tutorial

You can use Movavi to convert files directly from your harddrive, or you can get them from sites like YouTube or TeacherTube. Go to a site like YouTube, and search for a video. I found one by my favorite producers called CommonCraft. This one is Blogging in Plain English.



Once you find the video you like, grab the URL and copy it.



Here is where you will go to the Movavi site and paste that URL into the first field:







Next, select an output format. Here you can choose Quicktime, Windows Media, Cellphone, iPod, etc. Have fun with this!



















Next, enter your email address and don't worry about file size maxing out your mailbox. You won't get the file in your mailbox. You will get a link to the file so you can download it. Tip: if you are planning to access the file from within your school district firewall, I recommend that you use your school district email address. When your email comes through with your link, you will then be able to get to it from school. Sounds obvious, but lots of people don't think of this.















Last step, click CONVERT! If you are requesting more than one video to be converted, you can combine them. For example, you may already know this, but YouTube has a 10 minute limit on files, so many of their longer videos are broken up into segments. If you are interested in 3 contiguous segments, you probably want them to be combined. In that case, simply check the box to merge all videos into one large movie.





Last, you will get this email telling you how to download your file:










Is this something you would use? If you know of another free service that does something similar, please share!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Need Help With Your Mac, But Too Busy Twittering?


A Daily Mac Tip in a Twitter Sized Format


If you follow me on Twitter, you know I'm frequently engaged in conversations regarding Macs and education. So, if you also use Twitter, and you use a Mac, (and if not, why not?) here's one user you need to follow! @mactips140 sends out tweets with Mac Tips in 140 characters or less. There is a also a site, MacTips 140, where you can find all of these tips compiled. Each tip is presented as a 140 character "twoosh" and delivered directly to you via your Twitter account. Below are just two of the helpful tips, hints, tricks, and links sent out as tweets to make the use of your Macintosh more enjoyable:











So Who is This TweetMaster?

This is another project by Adam Christianson of the MacCast, which is one of my favorite podcasts. I listen to Adam every week in my car on my way to work. He keeps his show fairly non-geeky and has a nice, warm way of speaking that leaves you way smarter than when you first plugged in your earplugs that day!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Name? No Comment!


If you comment you should reveal yourself!

Jim Brady, Executive Editor of the Washingtonpost.com blog , has come out as saying that he would like to see a technology that could identify people who violate blog etiquette or site standards and if need be, kick them off. He goes on to say that he's not interested in personal information, just personally identifiable information in order to hold people accountable for what they post.

"I think part of the problem is that people aren't held accountable on the Web," Brady said. "People say things online they would never say when disagreeing with someone at the dinner table. I think heated debate is fine, but when there are (flame wars), many people won't take part for fear they will be attacked and bashed over the head with the (Internet-equivalent) of a steel pipe."

I have mixed feelings about this. And I'm really interested in how others feel about this too.

Are You Kidding?

As in real life, there are times when it is easier or appropriate to keep things to yourself or say them in private. Sometimes you want to make a comment that could possibly yield some type of political or personal repercussions. Are we not entitled to participate in those conversations too? So, here I argue the need to keep commenters anonymous.


Be Accountable, Stand Up For What You Believe!

Unfortuntely, when commenters don't police themselves and keep the conversation civil, I can also see where requiring accountability for your statements might force authors to clean up their words. As bloggers, we've all seen comments get out of control, pejoratively. So, yes... commenters need to be held accountable and have some type of identifiable footprint.

But...

On the other hand, I believe that all comments, even the ones that are laced with insults, originate from someone's passionate feelings about something. I also believe that the use of profanity can be seen as simply having a lack of vocabulary. Not all readers are effective writers and many know it and are embarrassed for it. If we require that all commenters have some type of identity, are automatically excluding a population of poor writers? Additionally, blogs are like private property. Bloggers can do what they want and commenters can choose to read or leave. Is that in itself, such a bad thing?

As you can see, the jury is still out for me. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

What's To Believe?

IN 1951 WE STARTED TO BELIEVE
Originally a 5-minute CBS radio program hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow, "This I Believe" evolved into a more lengthy cultural essay broadcast where individuals from all walks of life stressed their individual beliefs and motivation in life and they would read them on the air. The show was recently revived in 2005 by Jay Allison on National Public Radio. Click here to listen to his original 1951 introduction to "This I Believe."

DO YOUR STUDENTS BELIEVE?
As a teacher, you can imagine how powerful it can be to introduce a concept like this to your students in an effort to enrich their writing skills and to get them thinking about their fundamental beliefs and perhaps where they got those beliefs and values. Getting students to explore their beliefs is a huge task in itself, and we already know how hard it is to encourage students to think creatively about their writing. Unfortunately, some of the unintended consequences of our state's standardized writing tests is that students have learned to write to the formula but have lost the ability to write creatively and from the heart. "This I Believe" essays not only encourage that, they demand it.

ANOTHER AWESOME RESOURCE FOR YOUR P.L.N.
For teachers interested in using "This I Believe" in the classroom, they have a great website whose tagline is, A Public Dialogue About Belief - One Essay At a Time. I like that! You'll find some awesome lesson plans and sharing resources available there. I particularly like the link where you can click to learn how others are using This I Believe in the curriculum. You can search the database by state, level, discipline, etc. I do wish they included contact information for the teachers though. I would like to have the ability to contact the teacher to follow up with questions about his or her implementation of the lesson if I needed clarification on something.

TAG! YOU'RE IT!
This all came to be today because Linda has tagged me to continue on with our expressions of belief. She was tagged by Diane, who was tagged by Lisa, who was tagged by others but I believe it all started with Barry Bachenheimer. So, although I tend not to pay much attention to these tag games or memes, I thought I'd play along on this one and take a break from blogging about blogging. :)

This I Believe; by Lee K.
  • I believe it is ok not to grade everything and it is ok to create a safe environment for students to explore and try and even change their answers and learn! Although assessment has run amok in our system and we do more assessing than we do teaching, I believe teachers *sometimes* do things that make matters worse. I believe teachers can avoid becoming the "Obsessive Assessor." Try to look at practice and homework as just that, practice... try to keep the big picture in mind. Does everything really need to get a grade? Remember when you got your driver's license? When you went for your test, if you passed, you passed, right? What if the evaluator said, "Well, you passed today, but... 2 weeks ago, you hit a cone during practice and 3 weeks ago you didn't show up for practice! So, you'll have to take the test again."
  • I believe it is the communication to students and their parents that makes life less stressful. I believe that ALL emails and phone calls deserve a response. Hostility from parents and coworkers can be reduces enormously if communication is not only established early on but is ongoing.
  • I believe technology is not a content area. There are separate standards for technology and I know it's a step farther than we've been in years and we are thrilled to take any recognition possible. BUT, ultimately, just as there are no standards for using textbooks and writing instruments, there need not be standards for technology. There should be seamless integration in the classroom. I do believe we will get there. Soon.
  • I believe that teachers must keep in mind that when they put aside real learning in lieu of standardized testing prep (1 week, ok!, but 3 months in advance?), they lose credibility with their students and their parents. This stuff makes us all look bad! I believe all learning is prep for standardized testing. (Said to her students by a teacher in a classroom in January, "We will not be doing anything else besides FCAT practice until FCAT is over." ~ testing in March)
  • I believe that the fish rots from the head down. In order to understand what our students need, we need to start with our students. Not with the talking heads at the top and their political agendas.
  • I believe that students must be taught to use, not abuse. If you want someone to lose weight, you don't put a lock on the refrigerator door. However, that is akin to what we do with our Internet policies. 'nuff said there.
  • I believe that teachers should remember that their classrooms come with doors. Although teachers may be forced to listen to a variety of pedagogical speeches from principals and others, ultimately they can close the door and still smile at their students and make their day!
The idea of a meme is that you tag other bloggers to respond on their blogs and link back here.

Officially tagged here:
I will do this, the rule-follower that I am. But, there are a few others I'd like to hear from as well. Some of these people are non-bloggers (Sue!) and some have blogs, but maybe I didn't tag them here. So, if you are reading this, I hope you will comment with your beliefs.

This I Believe, Inc., National Public Radio and Atlantic Public Media