Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Posts of 2008

Thanks to Sylvia Martinez for the link to this widget!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Classroom 2.0's 2008 Wrap-up Show!

Friday, January 2nd, at 10:00am Pacific / 1:00pm Eastern (link to other time zones).

Peggy George, Kim Caise, and I host the live Classroom 2.0 year-end webcast meeting and show: "What We Learned in 2008."

We hope you will come and tell us all about the new ideas, techniques, tools, books, and conversations around educational technology that made 2008 special for you. (Send your 2008 top-ten lists to'll post all of them, and even ask some of you to present them on air!) We'll virtually celebrate the growth of Classroom 2.0 this past year, our great hosts, the winning of the 2008 Edublog Award for "best use of a social networking service in education," and more. We'll also get your ideas for what 2009 should bring!

More information and a link to the live show.

2008 Edublog Award for Best Educational Use of a Social Network

Classroom 2.0 has won the 2008 Edublog Award for "best educational use of a social network." I love the honor and feel it speaks highly for the great community that has gathered around Classroom 2.0.

And I want to point out that there are a great number of educational social networks, both for classroom and professional development, that are doing really good work. Check out the other nominees for the award here.  

If you're not a member of Classroom 2.0, I encourage you to join.  

More good links:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stressed Over NECC Rejections? Don't Be.

I'm watching the tweets today that are expressing regret over proposals not accepted by ISTE for the NECC 2009 Conference in Washington, DC.  To all who wanted to speak on a topic and didn't get accepted:  don't despair!

Last year we held the second formal EduBloggerCon the Saturday before NECC, with the full support of ISTE.  While there are other gatherings of educational bloggers and participative-Web enthusiasts, this is the biggest.  EduBloggerCon 2009 awaits you on Saturday, June 27th.  This is a free event, and is run in "unconference" style to give you the most opportunity to find conversations with others that you care about.

And NECC Unplugged returns!  I believe this event, to ISTE's great credit, is really unprecedented in the ed tech conference world.  This is a wiki-organized event, where anyone who wants to can present on any topic they want to--and the audience determines what they will attend.  The physical space will be in the conference center, and this year should not interfere with the Bloggers Cafe area (smile!).  There will be a plasma display and seating, and we'll be allowing speakers to schedule themselves in during all time slots of the conference.   The website for NECC Unplugged isn't up yet, but I'll post here when you're able to start signing yourself up for sessions.

So even if your proposals didn't get accepted for NECC, I hope you'll still consider attending!  Our goal here is participation, and to explore the topics that weren't recognized by the committees, but which can still be super-valuable.   And let's face it--by the time NECC rolls around in late June, there will be several new ideas and technologies we'll all want to hear about!

Educators + Web 2.0 = Classroom 2.0

This is the letter I just sent to all of my Web 2.0 company contacts.  Feel free to pass it along to anyone you think might be interested in sponsoring the Classroom 2.0 free workshops.

Classroom 2.0 ( is a social network I started for educators who are using--or are interested in using--Web 2.0 in education.  This past weekend our membership reached 15,000.  It's an amazing network.

As part of the Classroom 2.0 project I hold a series of free two-day workshops for teachers about the use of Web 2.0 (  I am hoping you will consider being a sponsor.  Sponsorship is not expensive, and the goal is to strengthen our current team of sponsors with additional organizations that have a passion and interest around the historic changes taking place in education because of the read/write Web.  I recently blogged for a Britannica forum on this topic, and links to that blog post and other pertinent ones are at the end of this note.  Web 2.0, I argue, is the future of education. 

This past year we held free workshops in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, Palm Springs, and Phoenix.  They have been super-well received, and are unique, dynamic, and fun events.  Each workshop is planned by local participants, using a wiki, and drawing on the expertise of teachers in their area.  This coming year we have plans for workshops in Hawaii, Sacramento, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Vermont, and San Diego.  

The cost of regular sponsorship is $250 per workshop.  You can sponsor just one workshop, or the whole series.  Sponsors are listed on the sponsor page of the workshop website and are given both recognition and thanks at the workshops, but there is no booth or commercial presence like you might find at a traditional conference.  That having been said, sponsors are encouraged to attend and participate in any of the workshops.  The cost is low because the workshop venues are provided by the local organizers, and there are no paid speakers.  Sponsor money is used to pay for my travel expenses and time.  A larger sponsorship offer might allow for an even broader expansion of this program, as we have requests for workshops at many more cities than is possible currently (you can see that list at the website).

I hope you'll consider being a part of this great endeavor.  If it's not your cup of tea, please consider passing this note along to someone you think might be more interested.  In either case, I hope you will join the Classroom 2.0 network.  You can learn more about me at my blog link below.


Steve Hargadon
Founder, Classroom 2.0


Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Conversations on the Web

I've become intrigued by the notion that the Web has become an incredible set of "conversations" by virtue of its highly participative nature now with Web 2.0.  

Allison Weiss last week in a phone call said that she wished there was somewhere to go to find out, at any given time, where the conversations that she cares about were taking place on the Web.  This echoed my own wish for a way to search all of the great Ning networks that have been created (see, for example, the list at Social Networks in Education) to find ones that I might be interested in.  Well, once the wheels start spinning in my mind, it's a scary thing!

Below is the widget for searching all Ning networks through Google.  To use others for Blogger, Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, and more (and one that searches all of them), please jump over to and then give me some feedback.

Social Networking Milestones

Classroom 2.0 hit 15,000 members this weekend, and Ning in Education hit 3,000.  Both sites, I hope, exemplify the great potential of social networking for professional development in education.

Be sure to check out the 2008 Edublog Awards site, and to vote for Classroom 2.0 or one of the other networks listed there for "Best Educational Use of Social Networking Service."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preparing for NECC and EduBloggerCon!

Acceptance letters are supposed to be going out for NECC presenters this month, so I thought that this would be a good time to make sure we started getting the word out about plans for the conference, which is being held in Washington, DC this summer (June 28 - July 1, 2009)

First and foremost is EduBloggerCon 2009, which will be held on Saturday, June 27, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (where NECC itself will be held). Again, through the generous sponsorship of ISTE, this will be a FREE all-day event for educational bloggers, members of Classroom 2.0, and anyone else who wants to come. We'll have lots of breakout rooms this year, and promise to make it another great event while keeping the spirit of an "un-conference!" Details will be forthcoming on or stay tuned here or in Classroom 2.0 for information as we have it. Mark your calendars, and make sure others that you know will want to attend are aware of the date, as many folks will start making flight arrangements for their trip soon.

Second is the Open Source Pavilion and Playground Area. In our fourth year now at NECC, with a full schedule of formal and informal sessions coming out soon, it should be really fun to be in Washington, DC this year. With capacity crowds last year for almost every session, and with more and more schools facing budget issues that Open Source addresses very nicely, we're planning for a really fun, busy, and educational time!

Finally, The Bloggers' Cafe. No immediate news right now on the Bloggers' Cafe except that it's on the schedule again, and so, I'm told, is "NECC LIVE," which we inaugurated last year. NECC LIVE is the un-conference within a conference, and we're lobbying for a separate space so the two events have room to breathe. Updated websites for both will be created and posted in the Spring.

Major kudos and thanks to ISTE for all of their support of both the Open Source and Web 2.0 communitites at NECC. Hope to see many of you there!

K12 Open Source Virtual Conference

OK, today I had one of those brainstorm ideas that made me sit up and wonder why I hadn't seen the possibilities before.

The talks at the K-12 Open Minds Conference were recorded this year, and a couple of weeks ago I posted the audio on the conference wiki. There were great sessions on Free and Open Source Software: Moodle, GIMP,, Python, and many more.

But it's just the audio recording, and depending on the placement of the mic and the voice level of the speakers, the quality varies quite a bit. So I got to thinking--most of the speakers had prepared slide presentations, and probably most of them could still give the same talk right now without much preparation. What if we used my Elluminate office and over the course of a couple of weeks recorded both the audio and the video, and then had a richer library for educators of the talks that were given?

Then I thought: why limit it to just those presentations that were given? What if we not only invited those who presented, but also invited anyone who couldn't make it to the conference and wanted to present? What if we held a virtual K-12 Open Source conference? I know, it's not rocket science, but it's still a dang good idea. We have the audience, we have the presenters--why wait?

By this time, my mind was reeling with the possibilities. An era of budget-cutting, which directly effects the ability for both presenters and audience to attend a physical event, means even more and more folks are going to be interested in Open Source... and need access to a good set of presentations from other educators. If the physical K12OpenMinds conference takes place in the Fall, maybe the virtual conference could take place each Spring.

Look for this in January or February on Oh, I love a good idea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanks, Ning.

I just got a call from my primary contact at Ning, letting me know one aspect of the support they've been so generous in giving to educators--the funding me as a consultant--has fallen victim to this economic downturn.

While I am of course, disappointed, it's been a great priviledge and pleasure to represent Ning to educators, and to represent educators to Ning. The build-your-own-social-network model has opened many doors to thinking about professional development and classroom work in the context of social media. I want to say it's been historic. I think it has been. I hope you'll consider leaving a comment here letting Ning know if you feel it's made a difference for you. I'd love to leave them with a parting gift celebrating what they've done.

I will miss the opportunity to get paid to work on something I truly love. Classroom 2.0, which is just about to reach 15,000 members, will stay unchanged as it's never been a part of the work I've done for Ning. It was, however, the impetus for calling Ning co-founder Gina Bianchini last year and suggesting that I could work for them. I felt that CR 2.0 would have a hard time growing and making a real difference for educators if I had to "monetize" it, so working for Ning would be a justification for my keeping it free. That turned out to be a great idea. Because I had paid work to do for Ning, I felt comfortable keeping CR 2.0 open to, and encouraging of, other educators starting their own networks. I believe that was a critical part of the broader adoption of social networking by those who were a part of it, and Ning deserves a lot of credit for that.

If you do a search at for networks tagged with "education," there appear to be over 9,000 results. A look at shows some of the depth and variety of educational networks that have been created. 15,000 members (almost) in CR 2.0. Over 3,000 members in Ning in Education. Most everyone I know in ed tech has created a network or two or more. Isn't that amazing when you think of how hard it was, even just a few years ago, to imagine social networking as a part of educational practice?

It's been a great ride. No doubt, there is still much fun ahead of us, but I'll miss my formal association with Ning.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2008 Edublog Award Voting for Best Educational Use of Social Networking Service

There can only be one good reason to ask you to vote for Classroom 2.0 at the 2008 Edublog Awards site:  were we to win again, we'd be introducing more folks to the value of Web 2.0 and social networking in education.  And that, I think, would be a good thing.

But it would also be a good thing to vote for one of the other nominees, so I have mixed feelings.  :)  Please do look over all of the nominees--of the ten, nine are Ning-based networks.  And they are all doing very good and important work using social networking.  Who would have guessed that would be the case two years ago?  Even last year at this time, when Classroom 2.0 won the award in this category and "only" had 4,000 members, seems a long time ago related to our perceptions of social networking for professional development or classroom use.  Today, with 15,000 members (amazing), I still feel that we're only just beginning to understand the power of this technology for good.

So no matter who you vote for, please do vote.  And tell a friend!

There are also a ton of other exemplary social networks being used in education that didn't get nominated, a number of which can be seen at (you can add your own networks there as well if you haven't already).  And if you are wanting to use Ning for educational purposes and haven't joined, I would encourage you to do so!

Finally, do check out the other categories in the 2008 Edublog Awards:  the main link is

Friday, December 05, 2008

Report: Happiness is contagious in social networks

I found this story at CNN fascinating:

While it appears to be largely about traditional, not electronic, social networks, there is so much that should cross over here. It also jives with my personal experiences where taking a positive approach can have a "leavening" effect on larger groups. Certainly, my experience running group tours was a great tutorial in that principle, as I noticed that my influence was very significant in how the group was "feeling." My experiences in church leadership roles and running a company have been very similar.

I extend this easily to the social networking sites, particularly the ones in Ning where there is a defined community. My experiences in Classroom 2.0 in particular have pointed out how very important it is for the creator or moderators of a network to model civility and thoughtfulness, and how that easily spreads to the group and becomes a part of the networks "personality."

I'm also making a mental note to spend more time with really fit people (see the article :).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Watching a Great Idea Unfold: Customized Microblogging Networks

Shout'Em logoSteve Dembo alerted me to shout'em, which professes to be the "Ning" of microblogging (like Twitter)--a "roll your own microblog" service.  I think this is a great idea that would combine the simplicity of the Twitter concept with the more targeted information flow of Plurk (did you ever think you'd hear Twitter described as simple?).

Right now, shout'em is more promise than delivery, but there is enough there for you to get a real idea of the potential.  Basically, you can start a shout'em network around any topic, allowing each of us to then join any particular networks we are interested in.  For example, I started a network (of course) for Classroom 2.0:  You could join this network and track the conversations, but instead of having to watch every post people make about all kinds of topics by following them on Twitter, theoretically posts to this network would just be about Web 2.0 in the classroom.

Now, there's a lot of functionality still missing from the service (RSS feeds are supposed to be available in the next day or so, for example), so it's hard to say for sure that this will be all that it promises to.  The privacy functions which seem to be coming aren't entirely clear to me, but maybe they will be when everything is functional.  I can also think of lots of features they aren't showing yet--for example, I'd love a way to text messages to one or more specific network.

I do think the analogy with Ning holds, and so the promise is great--but so much of Twitter seems to depend on third-party apps that help users to interact with it in ways that work for them, and I wonder how hard it will be for shout'em to incorporate all the usability needs as it's growing the service.  And I wonder about responding to the interest and growth, which I predict could be massive, and even Twitter suffers outages and sporadic service because of what must be huge logistical and technical loads.  I really hope that shout'em can do this because I see all kinds of great potential--from classroom to family to ad hoc networks that become incredilby useful because of their being so targeted. 

You need an invitation code to join shout'em right now, but it didn't take much fishing around to find one for me.  I'll also keep tracking their progress here if you want to wait until it's not so experimental to try it out. 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Great Website Building Tool:

I've been meaning to post something on the free Web-based website-building tool Weebly because I find that I use it for something at least a couple of times a week. I personally have about 10 websites that I've created there that are in various stages of deployment. I find it particularly amazing that I can purchase a domain name (I use GoDaddy but you can get them through Weebly as well) and then have a site up with that domain name in about 10 minutes.

Of course, then the tweaking of the site begins, but it's the lack of a real barrier to entry that allows me to feel experimental. As Clay Shirky says (paraphrasing): when failure is (almost) free, you try a lot more things! And this is how I like to work--get it up fast, get feedback, and make it better.

When a project won't necessarily benefit from user collaboration, instead of using Wikispaces or Ning, I now use Weebly. I created a private Weebly site for my daughter's soccer team, which I coach, and it was super-easy to posts practice and game information, maps, and other material and not to have to worry about communicating with everyone. I have also used it for my new project, I used Weebly for the landing page, which then handily links to the associated wiki and Ning sites. This allowed me to get the project started in a matter of hours, and when the site needs more sophistication, I can graduate to something appropriately more complex.

(I also love using customized prefixes to keep everything related. "" is the Weebly site. "" is the Ning site. And "" is the wiki.)

More and more, as the tools become easier and cheaper, it seems to me that the value proposition of a project is no longer primarily the ability to create a revenue stream model in advance that will overcome the financial hurdles to creation (that's a mouthful); but rather the ability to quickly and easily gather an audience--and if the goal is commercial, working with that audience to find authentic services that they want you to provide.

Here's an "infommercial"-like video on Weebly that gives a pretty good sense of what it can do.

Why "Free" Can Make Commercial Sense

Really good article by James Boyle on why free digital availability might make sense for parts of the publishing industry:

First, most people hate reading a book on a screen, but like finding out if it is worth buying. I am sure I have lost some sales, but my guess is that I have gained more new readers who otherwise would be unaware of my work, and who treat the digital version as a “sampler,” to which they then introduce others. This is a leap of faith but not an unreasonable one. Second, even professional authors make money in multiple ways other than by royalties - ranging from options on film production to commissions for magazine articles to consulting, teaching and speaker fees. Most are aided by wider exposure. As Doctorow says, “my biggest fear as an author isn’t illicit copying, it is obscurity.” Third, digital distribution is almost free. The “cost” is the gamble over lost sales, not remaindered books with their covers torn off. Some publishers are willing to take the risk to build current and future demand.

From Financial Times:

Brilliant Creative Commons Introductory Video