Saturday, December 19, 2009

Facebook's Data About Us: Mind-boggling and Scary

Facebook becomes more diverse as Latinos, blacks join at rapid pace - San Jose Mercury News
Ultimately, the statistical analysis could be a way for Facebook to dig deeper into the vast web of friendships, civic attachments and other relationships of its members. Although there is controversy about the value and limitations of sociological data gleaned from online networks, some experts believe that such studies could provide rich sociological insights, filling in the broad gaps left by existing sources of demographic data like the U.S. Census.

The controversy for me isn't value and limitations (which I take to mean the limitations on the conclusions that can be drawn).  For me it's that the value is so high that the limitations may be irrelevant for some time, and that makes me extremely nervous.  Facebook knows an incredible amount about most of us, way more than we'd likely ever voluntarily give a government agency.  So why do we trust that this is OK?  Is it because we actually believe Facebook is a trustworthy organization, or is it because it is just to hard to think about and so we won't really do so until something happens that disturbs us? 
"I think it will be transformative," said Duncan Watts, a Yahoo research scientist...
Yeah! (Sounding like "doh!")  I do think that the research and insight could be incredible.  But how much are they doing it already?  Am I just paranoid?  The financial interests here have to be so huge that it's hard to imagine they are not already well down the road of figuring out ways to use this data that we may or may not be comfortable with. 
... The hoard of demographic data owned by Facebook — age, gender, education and now race and ethnicity of perhaps a third of the U.S. population, along with a list of their closest friends — is a huge potential bounty for advertisers.
Do we have a good check and a balance on an organization that is so pervasively informed about our private lives? 

I'm a hypocrite here.  I've given Google just as much data, but because I use Google much more than Facebook, I've been willing to ignore the larger privacy and security issues around Google services because the immediate benefit to me is so high.  Am I someday really going to regret that?

Losing Sight of the Long Term in Business and Education

The unnatural environment - Chartered Quality Institute:
In this global environment dictated by mechanistic thinkers with results-driven financial control over the economy, countless managers struggled valiantly to improve performance by implementing the specific practices that outsiders had seen in Toyota plants. Such practices included one-piece flow, standardised work, 5S routines, real-time problem recognition and root-cause analysis. Unfortunately, at the same time, they faced the financial executives’ manage-by-results wrecking ball – the demand that all changes in operations must meet stringent financial targets in the very short term, if not immediately. The mechanistic thinking underlying this manage-by-results policy condemned countless Western businesses to poor economic performance over the past few decades.
Toyota avoided this fate until the last decade because it did not regard results as outcomes that a business achieves by requiring managers to drive people to meet financial targets. It saw that results emerge from a process in which people carefully nurture a web of relationships. These relationships, strikingly enough, emulate the behaviour in natural living systems.
This article describes the overarching, but not widely understood, misstep of our business economy over the past few decades: a focus on short-term financial results that has been self-defeating. In the name of profits over and over we kill the goose that lays the golden eggs:  people and processes.

I have to wonder how much of this is due to our technological ability to increasingly feed ourselves immediate data but our cognitive inability to limit its influence--to step back from that data and see the big picture.

The connection with education and standards is sadly self-evident.

Social Networks Are Changing Us

Facebook Profiles Capture True Personality, According to New Psychology Research | The University of Texas at Austin
Online social networks such as Facebook are being used to express and communicate real personality, instead of an idealized virtual identity, according to new research from psychologist Sam Gosling at The University of Texas at Austin.

"I was surprised by the findings because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves," says Gosling of the more than 700 million people worldwide who have online profiles. "In fact, our findings suggest that online social networking profiles convey rather accurate images of the profile owners, either because people aren't trying to look good or because they are trying and failing to pull it off.
I think this research has missed something significant.  It's measuring the correlation between individuals' profiles and their current personalities.  What that doesn't take into account is the degree to which participating in these networks, and representing ourselves in them, changes how we act.

That is to say, I think many of us have become more extroverted and open because of our participation in social networks.  Representing ourselves in such public ways has encouraged us to become more like the representation we make of ourselves. 

Check out this research that showed that individuals who were given a height advantage in a virtual world, like Second Life, felt or acted more confident--not just in the virtual world, but also in their real-world interactions:

How Second Life Affects Real Life - TIME
...Yee recruited 50 volunteers, randomly assigned them to short or tall avatars, then instructed them to divide a virtual pool of $100 with another participant — one player would suggest how to split the pot, and the other could accept or reject the offer, with each person getting nothing if offers were rejected. People with tall avatars (three or four inches taller than the stranger avatar) negotiated more aggressively than the short ones, while short avatars were twice as likely as the tall ones to accept an unfair split — $25 versus $75.

Again, the behavior held up in real life. When Yee had the subjects shed their avatars and negotiate face-to-face, sitting down, people who had inhabited tall avatars bargained more aggressively, suggesting unfair splits more often. And participants who had had short avatars accepted less-than-even money more often than the tall ones. How tall the people were themselves became less important, if only temporarily, than the height of their online alter egos.
Note to self:  stop finding fault with those who enhance their avatars to make themselves more attractive.  :)

When Will E-books Become Unprotected?

From the Desk of David Pogue - Should e-Books Be Copy Protected? -
All right. So: should e-books be copy protected?

As an author myself, I, too, am terrified by the thought of piracy. I can't stand seeing my books, which are the primary source of my income, posted on all these piracy Web sites, available for anyone to download free.

When I wrote about my concerns a year ago, my readers took me to task. "For all you know," went their counterargument, "the illegal copies are just advertising for you; people will download them, try them out, then go by the physical book. Either that, or they're being downloaded by people who would not have bought your book anyway. Why don't you try a controlled experiment and see?"

Well, it sounded like it could be a very costly experiment. But I agreed. My publisher, O'Reilly, decided to try an experiment, offering one of my Windows books for sale as an unprotected PDF file.

After a year, we could compare the results with the previous year's sales.

The results? It was true. The thing was pirated to the skies. It's all over the Web now, ridiculously easy to download without paying.

The crazy thing was, sales of the book did not fall. In fact, sales rose slightly during that year.

That's not a perfect, all-variables-equal experiment, of course; any number of factors could explain the results. But for sure, it wasn't the disaster I'd feared.
David Pogue is unique.  I don't think it's the currently successful authors who will drive the move to unprotected book content.  I think it will be the new or "long tail" (limited-audience) authors--those who will be willing to give their work away to gain attention or recognition, to develop a reputation, to build our trust, or to get paid to consult or speak. 

As Tim O'Reilly is quoted as saying:  "Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy."  If Wikipedia is any example to us, as the platforms for unprotected e-books become more commonly available for easy reading, we should see more and more free book content.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One Solution to the Proprietary Ebook Dilemma

From the Desk of David Pogue - Should e-Books Be Copy Protected? -
At the moment, the e-book companies are trying to make the copy-protection thing work, to make it as convenient as possible. They're making your e-books "playable" on Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod Touch, and multiple e-book readers in your household, for example.

But none of that addresses my reader's initial complaint: what if, someday, you want to jump ship from Amazon's reader family to Barnes & Noble's? This is precisely the nightmare scenario that faced iPod owners who wanted to switch to a Zune. (O.K., there's no such person, but you get the point.)
I can tell you how I solved this. I bought an Intel-Playmate tablet or "convertible" netbook from 2gopc earlier this year.  While I really have trouble with the small keyboard size, this small machine has a lot going for it. 

First, it has a plastic handle that is SURPRISINGLY helpful.  Second, it's netbook-priced (I paid a show special price, which was $399 with 80GB hard drive and 1GB RAM).  Third, it came loaded with Windows XP and the netbook remix of Ubuntu installed easily on it for dual booting (although I'm still having a drive issue with the network card--someone help!).  Fourth, it has the six-cell battery so it gets 4 - 5 hours of battery life pretty easily.

And here's the kicker.  I can not only load the Windows version of Kindle on it, I can also load all of the free e-book reader software that's out there as well, flip the screen around, and I have a small, very comfortable e-book reader--for not much more than I'd pay for the specialty devices but that doesn't lock me into a proprietary format if I don't want (there's lots of great reading material available in unrestricted formats).  And I'm also running full Windows/Ubuntu, so it serves as a backup computer for me when I'm traveling (it runs a presentation to a remote projector just fine) and is quite handy for reading PDF files, browsing the Web, even watching Hulu in a very comfortable position on the couch.  :)

Additional note:  One bonus to the Kindle software for Windows is that you can download preview chapters from books you're interested in.  Very helpful!

Larry Cuban on "so much reform, so little change"

Everything You Need to Know About Education Reform (By Rona Wilensky) « Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
According to The New York Times, a new federal study shows that nearly a third of the states lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years to stay ahead of sanctions under NCLB. And this, in a nutshell, tells you everything you need to know about conventional school reform.
Larry's regular blogging, which I think started just this past August, adds substantively to the discussion of "school reform and classroom practice."

Expecting Youth to Be Better than Adults

From the  seventh annual Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey
..significant numbers of teens do not consider the reactions of specific groups of influencers in their lives when posting content on social networks. Specifically, 40 percent do not consider the potential reactions of college admissions officers, 38 percent do not consider the reactions of present or future employers, and 30 percent do not consider their parents reactions.

...The data have heightened meaning in light of the findings of another Ethics & Workplace Survey, also conducted recently by Deloitte. The survey showed that more than a third of adult respondents also rarely, if ever, consider what their bosses, colleagues or clients would think when they post comments, photos or videos online.
The juxtaposition of these figures, which seem so darn close to each other, intrigues me.  Is this a training issue? Is it a temporary cultural phenomenon as we--of all ages--are participating in new media? Or is there a deeper, cognitive/personality difference that would explain those who don't anticipate the consequences of their online actions, and whose presence is being magnified by our new online lives?

Crowdsourcing Appreciation in Ed Tech - Give Yours

I know that the screen capture to the left from the 2009 Edublog Awards show last night looks like a bad case of white-board graffiti, but it's actually a touching reminder of how much we impact each other.

After the award for "Lifetime Achivement" was given (I'll skip the controversy on the title of the award, but just note that its recipient, Karl Fisch, was appropriately gracious and humble), we asked those attending live in Elluminate to give a "shout out" to someone who had made a difference for them this past year.  One of the downsides of an awards ceremony, and especially one in which there is an imperfect public nomination and voting process, is that it doesn't really do justice to the larger sense of community and support that exists in our ed tech / social media / Classroom 2.0 / blogger world.  We wanted the awards show to have a way to recognize the broader contributions that are made every day.

If you ignore the reference to Tiger Woods (there's always one joker!), it's really fun to look at the names of people in this image and to realize that this list would be enormous if we thanked everyone who's made a difference for us.  I'm pasting in chat log from this point in the show that also provided for additional recognition, and if you'd like to recognize someone yourself, please give a shout-out in the comments here.

This was an inspiring moment for me.  I hope you can get a sense of that.  The Elluminate recording is now available, as well as an audio version and the chat log.

Chat Appreciations:  Ruth Elliott: Alec Couros / Brent: Tony Vincent / Joyce Svitak: Adora Svitak / Chris Moore: People we appreciate: Dan Maas and everyone else who ever said yes to us! / commlearn: howard Rheingold / Chris Moore: Our super intendent / commlearn: Alec Couros / joycevalenza: steve! / Chris Moore: LPS Board of Education / joycevalenza: buffy / judiehaynes: Larry / Chris Moore: Karl / Chris Moore: William Chamberlain / dawn: Sue, Durff, Kathy Cassidy, Alec, Joyce / kyteacher: Russel Tarr / emapey: fceblog / matt montagne: Doug Symington, Jeff Lebow / angela maiers: WOW- there are just soooo many who influence my learning an life everyday / commlearn: Michael Stephens / matt montagne: Lorna Costantini for her work with Parent Engagement / joycevalenza: cathy, carolyn, buffy, sue! / Matt montagne: Peggy George / commlearn: / Elana Leoni: Alice Mercer, Larry Ferlazzo, Steve Andersen, Will Richardson, Russel many! / joycevalenza: peggy! / tom whitby: CYBRARY MAN / emapey: Lisa Lane / commlearn: vicki davis / jume18: all of you guys....! / emapey: Patricia Hensley / Elana Leoni: Vicki Davis is a great one! / Karl Fisch: People I appreciate: too many folks to list, but everyone that puts themselves out there and contributed to all of our learning./ MB: EVERYBODY / Chris Moore: Russ Goerend / emapey: David Truss / emapey: Sabrina DE Vita / emapey: Luz Pearson / commlearn: Sylvia Martinez / emapey: Gabriela Grosseck / emapey: Britt Watwood

Life Just Got Complicated - Google Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome Extensions

OK, my life has just been thrown out of balance.  So long as the Google Chrome browser didn't have a simple ability to pick up RSS feeds (c'mon, that was pretty lame) and didn't have access to my many life-saving Firefox extensions, it was pretty easy to just use the resource-hungry Chrome as a secondary browser--one I could open when I didn't want to mess with my saved tabs in Firefox.

Tonight I discovered the Chrome extensions, which require that you are running the beta version of Chrome.  And being the Google junkie that I am, the tight extension integration with Wave, Reader, Blogger, Calendar, and Tasks are rocking my world.  Add in diigo, Picnik, Twitter, Facebook, and about a dozen other REALLY good looking extensions, and I'm in trouble.  In a weird kind of way (and I know this stage will pass and be replaced by actual productivity) I'm almost upset that Google's finally done such a good job here on the extension platform.  This will seriously complicated my browser life.  Honestly, now I'll have to keep track of which browser does a better job with which extensions, and I'm pretty sure that particular confusion is not productive.  The simpler times when I could ignore Chrome and stick with my beloved Firefox seem to be fading before my very eyes.

Maybe there's a really big flaw here that I haven't discovered that will yet buy me some more time...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Multitasking (or not) at M.I.T.

More fascinating video from the FRONTLINE Digital Nation project. When listening to "Lauren" I couldn't help but think about the Stanford work showing that those who think they are the best multitaskers are actually worse than most.

There is SO much good content up at the Digital Nation site.

Social Networking in Education - A Whitepaper

Educational Networking: The Important Role Web 2.0 Will Play in Education
Hopefully, you'll find something of interest in this whitepaper.  :)

The Stunning Growth of Social Networking

Facebook Now Consumes 5 Percent of Our Collective Internet Time
According to comScore, 5.5 percent of all time spent online in the U.S. during the month of November was spent on the social networking site.
The stunning growth of social networking is apparent in this statistic above, and as Facebook rolled out new privacy settings recently the number of Facebook members that kept getting thrown around in news reports was 350 million.

I have no idea how accurate that number is, although with 102 million visitors to Facebook in November being recorded by comScore, it's probably in the right ballpark.  350 million users would make Facebook, were it a country, the third largest country in the world. 

What Facebook (and other social networks) do well is that they allow the user easy access to an environment that aggregates in one place a variety of Web 2.0 tools--tools that specifically facilitate people connecting and conversing with each other.  The learning curve is low, the site is simple to use, and the payoff to the user is very, very big.  There are great lessons for us in how we design environments for connecting and sharing information, especially and importantly in education--and it's what's driving the development of LearnCentral, the work project I'm a part of at Elluminate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Positive View of Technology and Literacy

BBC News - Children who use technology are 'better writers'
Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust.
The report is intriguing.  (And not just because it reports that students using social media were "more confident" of their skills but doesn't correlate that with any actual assessment of those skills.)

My own children are doing much more writing than I ever did as a child/youth/student.  And while only a small portion of that is formal writing for school, they are learning a lot about communicating through writing that I actually believe is really valuable.  In the same way that they can take hundreds to thousands of "free" digital photographs for every one carefully calculated "costly" photo I took at their age--and so are actually learning much more about lighting, exposure, and depth of field because of immediate and voluminous feedback--they are also learning communication skills by constantly "writing" to their friends.

Of course, we now have all kinds of collateral issues associated with these different forms of electronic writing around permanence, visibility, and actual authorship; on balance, though, my sense is we'll see this resurgence in writing as a strong positive characteristic of our time.

Balancing a worrisome thought about multitasking and work capability

The Decade Google Made You Stupid - Doug Rushkoff in The Daily Beast
So what does it mean if we multitaskers are actually fooling ourselves into believing we're competent when we're not? "If multitasking is hurting their ability to do these fundamental tasks," Nass explained matter-of-factly, "life becomes difficult. Some of studies show they are worse at analytic reasoning. We are mostly shocked. They think they are great at it." We're not just stupid and vulnerable online—we simultaneously think we're invincible. And that attitude, new brain research shows, has massive carryover into real life.
I think this is worrisome for me not just because many of us may be getting sucked into this trap of believing that our multi-tasking is making us smarter when it's actually making us less capable, but because of the ramifications for a whole generation of youth whose exaggerated sense of their own capabilities might lead to very rough landings when they enter the work world. 

At the same time, I think there is a balancing idea from Dan Willingham that for some reason did not come out in my interview with him.  In Dan's book Why Don't Students Like School, chapter 1 starts with the declaration that "[p]eople are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking" (p. 3).  Our mind, he says, is designed to try and find patterns and habits to avoid having to think through every action we take, and therefore, even though thinking and problem-solving can be very pleasurable, it takes work to do so.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks this simple idea that "thinking is hard work" has surfaced over and over for me as I've thought about different educational topics and while spending time with my own children.  It's shifting my paradigms and it's also providing a good explanation for why I've long been convinced that there are many good paths that lead to effective education--since the act of an individual discovering for him or herself the value of going through that hard work can be precipitated in a wide variety of circumstances. 

The balance for me to Rushkoff's gloomy report on multitasking is that many of the same technological media which seem to facilitate attention distraction also have a rich potential to encourage "thinking," and by virtue of their active and participative capabilities (for example, allowing me to express my thoughts publicly about something I just read), often draw us into the pleasures of problem-solving or analytical thinking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 2009 Edublogs Awards Ceremony Is Thursday (and Be Sure to Vote Quickly!)

We've just announced the time and date for the 2009 Edublog Awards Ceremony, which will be this Thursday December 17th US Time 4:00pm PST / 7:00pm EST, which is Friday December 18th 12:00am GMT / 5:30am Mumbai / 11:00am Australia EST.  Here's a world time link so you can be sure you have the exact time in your part of the world:

Remember, voting closes before this -- at 11:59pm US Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday December 16th.  That's 8:59pm US PST.  (Other international times here.)  Don't delay!  Vote now!

The Awards Ceremony will be held in Elluminate this year (my favorite real-time web meeting platform, and--of course--my employer).  Sue Waters from Edublogs and I will be co-hosting the show.  The link to enter the show is

If you are new to Elluminate — please make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate before the event by visiting Elluminate Support.  We'll open up the Elluminate room 30 minutes before we start, and we encourage you to come in a few minutes early to set your microphone up and make sure you're connected.  Those who would prefer, or have any difficulty connecting, can use the telephone bridge by dialing 913-312-1029 (US toll-free at 877-880-7307) and then using the PIN 495124.  

If you are a potential award winner we just want to make sure you know that should you win we'll give you a minute or two to say a few words.  We expect the show will last around 90 minutes, but we make no guarantees!  Following the show we'll open the mics and webcams and have a "virtual" post-show / year-end party.  We hope you'll join us for what you can.

I want to express my personal appreciation to all who are involved in education and contribute through blogging, social networking, social media, and other educational technologies.  The Edublog Awards are admittedly an imperfect methodology for recognizing all of those contributions, but hopefully they are a way of celebrating some of the contributions that appreciates all that we accomplish together.  If you feel someone was overlooked or under-recognized, we'll have a chance for you to shout out "well done" to them during the show!  And from me, Thank You!

I also wanted to explain why I have not encouraged voting for my Classroom 2.0 social network in the social networking category.  Since it has won the Edublog Award for the past two years and is several times the size of the next largest network nominated, I don't think it needs additional recognition.  As well, my being co-host this year has inclined me to want the spotlight on some of the other wonderful networks that have grown in this space.  If we had removed Classroom 2.0 from the nominations it would have created confusion, but I've withdrawn it from consideration for an award.  A special thanks to all of you who use Classroom 2.0 to learn and explore the potential of social networking in education!

See you online!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Social Media Burnout and the New Pressures on Educators

When I'm speaking to or holding workshops for educators I use this image to indicate how I think a lot of them feel about huge societal changes that are taking place around information in our world--and how I think many of them feel when trying to 1) learn the new social media technologies and then 2) add them to their already existing (and time-demanding) practices.  Some may be facing the wave, some may have their backs turned and are just being told it's coming, and some very few are bravely surfing--or trying to surf the intellectual equivalent of Maui's Jaws.

So it hasn't been a huge surprise to watch our good friend Donelle O'Brien go through "social media burnout."  Donelle has been a brave surfer, and to most of us she appeared as a "natural," taking to blogging, social networking, and Twitter like she was born to them.  She was everywhere all at once, all hours of the day. But this summer it all proved to be too much:  too much time, too much pressure, and too little sleep.  As she details in a series of blog posts this past week, she very suddenly went (fell?) "off the grid" and is just now coming back.  Of course, Donelle puts a good face on it and even goes so far as to give suggestions for staying balanced, but this cannot have been an easy experience for someone as devoted and thoughtful as she is.

Starting in 1917 two young girls claimed that they had taken a series of photos of themselves with actual fairies, and were publicly supported by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among others.  The Cottingley Fairies were revealed decades later to have been a hoax, but to those of us who have grown up in a world steeped in photography and film, where we've seen all kinds of attempts--legitimate and otherwise--to manipulate the medium, the photos are obvious hoaxes.  The lighting doesn't seem right, there are resolution and focus issues, and we are just not taken in.  What we have in the world of photography that gives us the perspective to determine truth or value we just don't yet have in the world of social media--and that is time and experience.  Some amazing activities are going on with social media and education.  And some other activities are promoted and pursued that may end up seeming way out of balance.

Rachel Dretzin described this week filming at Stanford where some experiments have been done on multi-tasking that seem to show it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Even more fascinating was the finding that those who thought they were good multi-taskers may actually end up being worse than most.  Will Twitter end up being like the Edwardian "postcard craze?"  Really, only time will tell.

I'd like to think that we'll figure out a balance.  That youth and adults who find themselves caught in time and emotional traps will learn some lessons, share them with others, and we'll figure out how to integrate the incredible powers of social media into our lives in ways that are balanced.  But then I reflect on television and its role in our lives, and truth be told, I don't think the high average number of hours of television that most people watch would indicate that we ended up with a very healthy balance.

[Tidal wave image - Clarke M. Smith,, by permission.]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Droid Is More Like a PC Than a Cell Phone

I'm not going to document the many incredible uses of the new Motorola Droid phone which I (and many others) recently upgraded to.  Or the benefits of the cross-carrier Android platform.  Or the several dozen actually practical apps I've downloaded for free already.

I'm just going to say that until I found some nice power-saving apps a couple of days ago (hurrah!), I was actually not upset by the 3 - 4 hour battery life I was getting with the phone.  I wondered why that was, and then I realized I mentally put the Droid in the same category as my laptop computers--making the battery life within range of what could be expected for a device of this power.

For me, the Droid is more like having a small laptop than it is having a larger (admittedly clunky) cell phone.  Wow.  I guess this is what iPhone users have been experiencing for a while... :)

And yesterday I got a full day of use without recharging.

Friday, December 11, 2009

We Were Told to Be Practical Not Passionate

We've had a lot of interesting interviews lately at I hope we should.  Last night Elizabeth Kanna was our guest, talking about her book Virtual Schooling.  Because Dan Willingham had just been on last week I avoided the topic of learning styles, but we did talk (as we almost always do in these interviews) about changes in expectations--especially that the students and their parents have for schools.  And there is this tightrope we always walk balancing the different views related to how students learn best and what kind of environments are most conducive to deep learning.

Part of why I like doing the interviews is being able to hear from really smart people on these issues.  And often they are in the audience.  :)  Last night Deborah Boatwright wrote something in the chat that really caught my attention.  "Interesting my generation was told to be practical not passionate."  For some reason, that really rang true for me and helped to describe what I think is a very marked change in our sense of the role of education.  It's the difference between my own educational experience which was also how we raised our oldest daughter (now 21), and how we think about the education of our 16 and 11-year-old daughters.

We Want to Talk to Each Other!

I've been thinking more about the interview with Rachel Dreztin about FRONTLINE's Digital Nation project, and a comment I made during the interview about the video stories that anyone can upload to the site.  I told Rachel I thought it amazing that we can contribute in this way to the project, but that I wanted to communicate directly with those who'd posted the videos (or slideshows or audio).  (I tried to post a video this week but it hasn't made it up there yet--not sure why.)  The real sense of engagement will come when we can talk to each other there.  I sense that there hasn't been as much contribution on the site as the Rachel and the staff would have liked, and I think it's largely due to their maintaining the "gatekeeper" role.  "We provide you with content and you provide us with content"is still a hierarchical relationship and doesn't release the latent energy that is available when we can talk to each other. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Contribute a Video to FRONTLINE's Digital Nation Project

Last night I participated in another interview with Rachel Drezin, the Producer/Director of FRONTLINE's Digital Nation project.  What great work she and the Digital Nation team are doing.  I promised I'd upload a video in their "Your Stories" area of the site, so here it is.

The "Learning" category there could use more contributions!  Please consider recording and uploading your video there.

Voting Has Started at the 2009 Edublog Awards

Thanks to Sue Waters and the great folks at Edublogs, the nominations have been tallied for the 2009 Edublog Awards and it's time to vote for your favorites!  There are actual, genuine, prizes (as well as tasty badges and the respect of peers) so your votes count! The winner of each category will get a years free Edublogs Campus subscription for themselves or their institution and an Elluminate 10-seat vOffice for a year!
Voting is now open and ends Wednesday 16 December!
Winners announced at the Edublog Awards Ceremony (more on that to come soon)!
To get started, select a category from below to see the nominations and vote, or visit the Edublog Awards site.

The Edublog Award Categories….

  1. Best individual blog
  2. Best individual tweeter
  3. Best group blog
  4. Best new blog
  5. Best class blog
  6. Best student blog
  7. Best resource sharing blog
  8. Most influential blog post
  9. Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion
  10. Best teacher blog
  11. Best librarian / library blog
  12. Best educational tech support blog
  13. Best elearning / corporate education blog
  14. Best educational use of audio
  15. Best educational use of video / visual
  16. Best educational wiki
  17. Best educational use of a social networking service
  18. Best educational use of a virtual world
  19. Lifetime achievement
Good luck to all!

Go. Give. Get. An Explanation

I loved the book The Go Giver, and I not only have blogged about it but I've also had one of the authors on my interview series.  Because of that book, in my own mind I've created a formula for life that has been largely facilitated by the changes in communication and Web 2.0:  Go, Give, Get.  "Go" for just getting started.  Take that idea and actually do something.  Don't wait for perfection, just start now with what you've got.  "Give" for finding a way to actually help others.  Do something that makes a difference and do it in such a way that you don't have to worry about getting compensated for it.  Just do something that's authentic and makes a difference.  "Get" for the inevitable result that the going and the giving produce--a tangible outcome that is emotional, spiritual, or financial.  But the outcome is inevitable.  Go and Give are acts of faith with a guaranteed reward in this philosophy.

So when I found the following quote in another great "airplane read" book, Greater Than Yourself, I felt enlightened significantly as to the mechanics of how this reward formula works.  I instantly recognized the truth here--lots of underlining and stars in the margins on this page (22)!  It's funny, also, that the "Steve" in this quote is the actual name of the character in the book (I wonder if that's influenced me in any way here?).
"If you earn a reputation, Steve, for being one who elevates others, for being someone who gives freely to those around him at work, for turning out superstars, what's going to happen?  You'll have changed the lives of others, but how will it change yours?"
But before I could reply, Charles forged ahead.
"I'll tell you how.  Everyone will want to work with you.  And, because of that, you'll be able to accomplish anything you set out to do."
Boy, did that make sense to me.  When you're authentic, you build trust.  And in a world of social media communication, where trust is often a greater commodity than power, helping others becomes a huge key to success.

Props to Weebly for Education

I'm just wanting to show my continued support for the new Weebly for Education program. I think this is an awesome (and free) resource for educators and for their students.

Full disclosure: Weebly has provided financial support for some of the free Web 2.0 workshops I have done for educators. (They deserve props for that as well!)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Elizabeth Kanna on "Virtual Schooling"

Date: Thursday, December 10th, 2009
5:00pm Pacific / 8:00pm Eastern / 1:00am GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event.

Join Steve Hargadon for a live and interactive hour with Elizabeth Kanna, author of Virtual Schooling: A Guide to Optimizing Your Child's Education.

Elizabeth Kanna is a transformation expert who consults clients ranging in size from start-ups to market icons. Kanna’s visionary transformative work includes repositioning and rebranding, and renaming for prominence, effective strategies for the social Web, reinvention of business models, new media business development, innovative public relations and national promotions for customer acquisition, and world-class partnerships to increase the top line and market share for clients.

Kanna aptly pulls together disparate business segments, establishes frameworks for foundational shifts in business practices, builds publishing franchises in print and digital, and identifies emerging markets and technologies to monetize from education to new media. She has re-engineered brand positioning, and created national promotions with Dun & Bradstreet’s, The Grammy Foundation, Yahoo!, jetBlue Airways, Hilton and Sharp USA.
Kanna has been featured on TV networks Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNBC, CW, and in magazines and newspapers, including Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, U.S. News and Review and Women’s Day. As an emeritus advisor at an annual elite business retreat since 2003, Kanna has consulted with more than 500 business owners in taking their company to the next level. She has also consulted for billon-dollar companies, world-renowned scientists Sally Ride and Bob Ballard, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week best-selling authors, philanthropists working in 50 countries, and well-known entrepreneurs and celebrities.

A market leader and pioneer, Kanna co-founded a leading authoritative education portal that Forbes magazine named as one of the top 45 sites on the Internet in 2000. Kanna has consulted with leading education companies on the development of new online learning platforms from Web 1.0 to virtual schooling and mobile education platforms. Kanna is also the co-author of two market-defining books that stand as authoritative analyses of the effectiveness of educational methodologies: Homeschooling for Success, and the first book ever written on Virtual education: Virtual Schooling: How to Optimize Your Child’s Education.

Her website is

Angela Maiers on "Classroom Habitudes"

Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
5:00pm Pacific / 8:00pm Eastern / 1:00am GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event.

Join Steve Hargadon for a live and interactive hour with Angela Maiers, author of Classroom Habitudes: How to Teach 21st Century Learning Habits and Attitudes.

As an author of several books, articles, and curriculum support materials, Angela Maiers continually strives to connect research and scientific theory to real world practices. For the past six years, she has created, developed, and organized multiple literacy institutes reaching thousands of educators across the United States. Her work is featured in the National Research Council Yearbook, multiple professional journals, and most recently in Urban Schools Most Promising Practices, published by the International Reading Association. You can keep up with her at