Friday, June 22, 2001

A marathon web stroll (hey, when you are as gravitationally challenged as I am that is not an oxymoron) leads to unexpected, but not un-looked-for sites. Take for example this site. BotSpot . Information literacy is not specifically on any of my district or state educational goals or objectives. Students happen onto search engines, but they don't systematically approach their use. Students are continually amazed that even though a site may be down when accessed on Google that they can get it from Google's cache. I've never ventured to talk to them about 'bots. This could be another part of the web site--Research. We will certainly hear more about this when Spielberg's A.I. comes out A.I.. Chat with the chatbot. It's fun. Wouldn't it be useful to have a chatbot function on the bottom of every informational screen?
The net is truly revolutionary. Yeah, yeah,yeah. No, really. You're not hearing me. This article Instant Messaging Generation says so. "Among the most striking findings is the degree to which the Internet is beginning to challenge the telephone as a means of communicating among teens," according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey. This is a sea change. One of the most interesting anecdotes is that it is easier to type than to talk. I never would have expected to hear a high schooler say this. I will be asking this question in class at the beginning of the school year (type or talk?). Also interesting is the study's bias toward upper middle class and higher families. My students are still typically less than 50% wired (in the hardware type way, not the brain pan way). I will need to know even more about the tech savvy of my students next year. Where can I get computers and on-line fee money for my non-tech. affluent families? Anybody listening? Mail me at

An appropriate article on FT about Blended Learning . "Blended learning is the new buzzword," explains Jan Hagen, head of the solutions group at online learning company Widelearning. "That means using whatever method is most suitable." kShortcut term for "Whatever works." But I can see the need for a cd-rom for students who have no web access. Put it all on a cd and put it on your school servers and put it on the net. Redundancy. Plans A, B, and C . I love this quote, The virtual classroom can be very rickety."

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

This is a marvelous example of the way an on-line course might go alternatively. This is is so beautiful and readable. I have always loved comix (comics, too). Check it out. Coins of the Realm
My eyes are shot. I have been sketching approaches to on-line classes all day when I realized that what I want is a website that will supplement what I am doing in the classroom. I want projects, resources, and information that my students can use outside of class to make their learning richer. I want interaction. But I also want something a home-bound student or a home-schooled student could pick up and go with. All the web development sites and resources tell me that is the wrong way to go about building a web site. But a big, sprawling site feels right to me. I am thinking about an old bookstore I used to haunt in downtown Louisville, Zimmermans. His books were sometimes stacked neatly, sometimes in boxes, sometimes in great tall stacks with their spines turned so that you had to unstack them. That's how I feel about this prefab notion of building a learning environment. I would prefer to grow a learning tree. Some parts die, some parts grow. Sometimes a storm blows the whole freaking mama to the ground.

That brings me to change. Part of me is appalled by the philosophy of constant change. Why the hell should I, for example, concern myself with an article about e-books. It's a crappy technology that is nearly stillborn. Yet... I know some version of electronic portability will be born and grow. And so it means climbing the learning curve every day with no guarantee that the hard-won knowledge won't be lost like some Sysyphean stone that crushes the life out of you. That is real teaching... the opportunity to constantly regale your friends with the depth and breadth of your foolishness. Teachers must be early adopters, they must struggle with new ways of learning no matter how feeble because they might just grow from a palsied childhood to greatness. It takes real courage to say to yourself that nothing you do will ever be good enough. But I hate change... I think John Berryman once said in a sonnet that risks may be our safeties in disguise. I put my hope in that paradox. I put my heart in the safety of change.
Whoa. Word97 Web Pages Neat tutorial for those using word as their introductory web page creator. Lots of good ideas and theory, plus they also recommend learning HTML on the fly. I know these are old sites but I am thinking in terms of making my experience more universally applicable. Because I am a teacher I seek out those who learn with fear and trepidation.
Here's a site Teaching through the Web that was developed a few years ago but still remains fresh albeit general. Lots of good sample sites give rise to your imaginative insights into intelligent web design. An interesting observation on the site: web development is like lesson plan development except more challenging. I am previewing different web editors including the Evil One's Front Page and Word.. Ubiquity has its pluses. Keep you posted.