Thursday, November 24, 2005

Fun with Flipbooks

Flipbook Printer - Mouser - Software -

This is just plum fun. I think I will download the video of Bush's "failed exit strategy" in China for my first flipbook.

technorati tags:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

University Music Collections

Here is an annotated sampling of music that awaits you when you walk through the doors of my University library.  Charles Smith’s work is obviously a labor of love.  I have always felt so rich whenever I walk out of a library with books, tapes, cd’s , and such.  Libraries are proof positive that we are all in it together.  In our Kentucky communities, libraries are created through local taxing districts and supported by state library services.  It is remarkable what this simple system has produced:  a library in every county, Internet access in every one of those libraries, and information access on a global and local scale that must rival what those in the Great Library of Alexandria must have felt. 

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Power of Words

The Power of WordsFlores is making a larger point about the real source of strength in business. "In the western mind, there are two notions of compassion," he explains. "One is, I'm going to be a good Samaritan and help this guy. But that is the compassion of the weak. The compassion of the strong is in waking people up to their blindness. For that, you need to be a warrior. I am tough and sweet. I show you your bullshit, but I'm also infinitely patient with you." Flores stands up very straight and addresses the group. "Know this," he announces. "We aren't aware of the amount of self-deception and self-limitation that we collect in our personalities. I'm fighting for freedom, for breadth of being. I want to open up people's moral imaginations -- which will give them a strategic advantage in business, in politics, and in their personal lives."


An amazing article that I am not quite sure how to take.  You take a look and come back.  Tell me what you think.  I just can’t be sure if this is ugly truth or truly ugly.

A New Blogging Tool from FactoryCity--Flock

FactoryCity :  “This design was fundamentally weak because it relied on an existing solution grafted onto an entirely different problem. Once I accepted the ambiguity of the situation—exacerbated by the numerous solutions available for blogging—I realized that what we needed was something that didn’t encourage the management of your blog, but rather the act of composing and creating.”

Designing a brand new tool to post to your weblog is an exercise in the imagination.  Just as I am trying to create a community of practice with my weblog, LitTeach that is only a dreamed image, so too are these folks working on a new folksomonic tool.  I surely do wish that I could do a beta test of this new Firefox extension posting tool.  I have requested this, but I am doing a 30 minute major presentation on campus and would love to demonstrate posting with this tool.  So… I cast another wish in a bottle to the Internet gods to grant. 

Monday, September 05, 2005

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Iraq in America

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Iraq in America

“The one constant of this President and his administration is that their most essential impulse is never to head for the frontlines themselves -- not in war, not in disaster, not for our safety or our planet's safety, not even on the campaign trail. They are invariably at the front of nowhere at all, and more than happy to be there. The old "chickenhawk" label has a deeper meaning than we ever realized.”

Tom Englehart nails Bush to the wall, but will anyone in the mainstream take him down?  Still waiting.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Innovate - Places to Go: Apolyton

Innovate - Places to Go: Apolyton

What sites like Apolyton suggest, however, is that instead of embedding a game into learning, it is possible to embed learning into a game.

What Downes is writing about here is pure, plain and simple cooptation.  Coopt the game paradigm to learn.  Internally motivate and adapt existing gaming frameworks.  That’s how you get around the “educational” and exogenous nature of most games created to teach.

Innovate - Epistemic Games

Innovate - Epistemic Games

epistemic frames


Friday, September 02, 2005

online writing / writing online presentation | CultureCat

online writing / writing online presentation | CultureCat

Wonderful draft on weblog pedagogy.  Nobody has all the pieces, but some folks are joining the many loose ones they are finding on the Internet to begin to make it work.  Great work, Clancy Ratliff.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Very Cool Things: Gakken Emile Berliner Gramophone Turntable [Model] Science Kits

Very Cool Things: Gakken Emile Berliner Gramophone Turntable [Model] Science Kits

What can one say to this? Oddball, but I do remember playing cardboard records as a kid from cereal boxes. Might be a cool way to get interesting sound effects for soundtracks of various kinds.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This is an experiment

This is an experimental post using Word for Blogger.  Howzabout a picture, too?

(image placeholder)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - HIV breakthrough raises hopes for a cure

New Scientist Breaking News - HIV breakthrough raises hopes for a cure

“Our findings suggest that eradication of established HIV infection may be achieved in a staged approach,” says Margolis. “This finding, though not definitive, suggests that new approaches will allow the cure of HIV in the future.”


Dare we raise our hopes for a cure?  Damn straight we do! It says something about the state of AIDS affairs, that we begin to pin so much hope on the results of three patients, but…hope is the feathered thing.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cellphone-based pollution sensor being developed at Berkeley - Engadget -

Cellphone-based pollution sensor being developed at Berkeley - Engadget -

A team at UC Berkeley is working on a platform to cram even more functionality into your cellphone, but this time instead of adding games, ringtones or other toys, the new functions will be planet-friendly tools like pollution and radiation detectors (hey, it is Berkeley, right?).


Cellphone University anyone?


Innovation Weblog - Trends, resources, viewpoints from Chuck Frey at InnovationTools

Innovation Weblog - Trends, resources, viewpoints from Chuck Frey at InnovationTools

The habit of innovation at an individual level (personal brilliance) is the differentiator... The American worker for example is more expensive than others so they must determine how to create that much more value."

I know I have a habit of short posts to links, but it doesn’t bother me because I tend to respond to same.  I know I need some longer posts and some essays online as well.  This will do for now because it is a good topic to discuss with students—reality and the world of creativity.   This notion of “personal brilliance” really is a touchstone, or perhaps it might be better described as the steel that sparks off my flint. (Don’t you have a hard head, too?) OK, I know these are, as my son is so fond of saying, “lame sauce”, but SBI (so be it).


Monday, August 01, 2005

Open Learning and Large Learning Objects (Courses)

Open Learning and Large Learning Objects (Courses)

…What's the point in getting certification if no HR guy or girl is looking at your CV anymore. It is more likely that you will have to show a record of clients, projects, artifacts etc. instead of Diplomas, Degrees, and so forth. Reputation is built differently in the part of a networked society that lives and operates outside of the big corporate business world.

A lesson to us all in how to make our “services” portable in both senses—easy to carry and easy to hook into. 

Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Scientist Premium- Entering a dark age of innovation - Technology

Entering a dark age of innovation - Technology

It may seem like we are living in a technological nirvana, but the rate of technological innovation has been falling for 100 years, a new study reveals… according to a new analysis we are fast approaching a new dark age.

So… which is it Moore’s Law or the Dark Ages.  Competing paradigms duke it out?  Odds on favorite?  I’m going with the new guy cuz I like the underdog.  The article says we average seven innovations per billion people per year.  Are we bumping up against patent office logic here where we get someone who just assumes that nothing more will be invented?  I think that both of these paradigms are probably grossly wrong in many ways and subtly right in others.  I especially love the assumption that innovation is a quantifiable and that it is a predictable quantifiable.  Chaotically speaking, both of those hypotheses are unacceptable.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Improv Visits the Office

Take a look at this and see if there isn't a valid analytical tool for the classroom. Tell me what you think and I will do the same.

Training + Development > Press > Performance of a Lifetime

Training + Development > Press > Performance of a Lifetime

Effective improvisation embraces several basic concepts:
• Pay attention and be present.
• Make your partner look good.
• Don’t censor yourself.
• Say, “Yes, and...” instead of “Yes, but....”
• Listen generously.
• Take risks and embrace failure.
• Say the obvious thing—in other words, the first thing that comes to mind. There are no wrong answers.


OK, readers few but fine, let us substitute “learning” for “improvisation” and then play out the rest of the quote.  Does this fit?  Partner=?  Please comment briefly, addressing briefly and then perhaps suggest an implication or two that would arise from this substitution.  Thanks.  I use some improv principles in my teaching, but I need to reinvent myself as a “learner-who-just-happens-to-be-the-teacher”.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Testing the new blogger photo tool. I have used Picasa and Hello in the past. Once set up they are effective, but this only involve one click on the wysiwig tool bar and poof! Pix! Here goeth.

Oops. No pix. Problem with me or them I know not. I will try again later.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Students Say High Schools Let Them Down - New York Times

Students Say High Schools Let Them Down - New York Times

Hmmmm….not hard enough for them, is it?  Easily resolved then.  I think students know something is wrong, but they are grabbing the wrong end of the stick.  Perhaps that is a bit cryptic, but there is plenty of “blame” to go around if you want to play that game.  I would rather point out that the system is broken and no amount of tinkering with it is going to make it better.  You can’t “prepare” people unless you’re a cannibal.  Schools are not humane and students know that.  I need to see the questions that were asked and the sample of students before I can say more.  I read the NYT regularly for the first time in my life last year as part of a freebie program at my university.  I really wasn’t that impressed except for some notable exceptions on the editorial page.  In fact I thought the reason Judith Miller was arrested was because of her horrific writing, not protecting “sources”. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

{lime tree}: What Does Poetry Mean?

{lime tree}: What Does Poetry Mean?

There are contexts, obviously, when it is perfectly sensible to ask what a poem means. For a student reading Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," it is quite reasonable to ask what Frost means by looking into the lovely, dark woods and then saying "But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep." It is also fairly easy to answer: he means that oblivion is tempting, but there are reponsibilities the living must honor. It is less easy to answer the question "What does the repetition of the phrase 'miles to go before I sleep' mean?" In fact, it may be a meaningless question. More on this later.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Is there anybody out there"

Sometimes I feel like a radio station test broadcasting to folks who don’t know I am here.  It is not a feeling of dismay, but rather one of being dismissed or ignored by all the adults in the room when all you want to do is tell them that the house is on fire.  I can but sigh.  OK, I am over it for now.

The Academy of American Poets - Poems for Weddings

The Academy of American Poets - Poems for Weddings

The epithalamium was employed as a literary form for the first time by Sappho, who wrote:

Raise up the roof-tree--
a wedding song!
High up, carpenters--
a wedding song!
The bridegroom is coming,
the equal of Ares,
much bigger than a big man.

It’s wedding season so go to and find some good wedding poems.  I can imagine using this in a class.  Assign different occasions to different groups and set them the task of designing a short anthology of poems with introductions to the poems.  Let’s see: weddings, funerals, births, baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations.  Can anyone think of others?  Break ups?  I guess I could just go to the card store and check out categories.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Teaching, Wither Thou? I Think Not!

MIT OpenCourseWare | Master Course List


In itself an extraordinary attempt at knowledge management, MIT’s attempt to create “open” classrooms for all is democracy in learning.  Check out this Intro to LitTheory.  This all begs the question:  what is the teacher for in this open source learning world?  It is a central question that has attracted us all to teaching.  I think that teaching is more like therapy than any of is quite willing to admit. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A project to temporarily wipe out ad space on the street-- what would be its effect? Remove all ads for a week and note the effect. I find it a bit daunting to imagine. - Self Publishing - Free - Self Publishing - Free


Time to get your students to publish in a book form.  8.50 for a 200 page book!  Damn, I am in.

Monday, June 13, 2005

An Index to Creationist Claims

An Index to Creationist Claims

A rather … compulsive, but welcome approach to the creationist ideas in the marketplace these days along with responses to them.  This would be an ideal approach as a wiki in the classroom where the claims are separate pages with a wiki and students have to approach them in writing, challenging them with their own writing and thinking.  I might even use this myself in a freshman comp context.   Plus, it’s nice to see the responses to the more ridiculous arguments, for example:

Claim CA006:

Evolution promotes eugenics.


DeWitt, David A. 2002. The dark side of evolution.


  1. Eugenics is based on genetic principles that are independent of evolution. It is just as compatible with creationism, and in fact at least one young-earth creationist (William J. Tinkle) advocated eugenics and selective human breeding (Numbers 1992, 222-223).

  2. Many eugenics arguments, such as the expected effect of selective sterilization and the results of interracial mating, are based on bad biology. Better biology education, including the teaching of evolution, can only counter the assumptions on which eugenics is based.


Wilkins, John. 2000. Evolutionists against eugenics; Post of the month: November 2000.


  1. Numbers, Ronald L. 1992. The Creationists. New York: Knopf.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

War: Realities and Myths - by Chris Hedges

War: Realities and Myths - by Chris Hedges

"Force," Simon Weil wrote, "is as pitiless to the man who possess it, or thinks he does, as it is to his victim. The second it crushes; the first it intoxicates."

O, my God!  Please read Chris Hedges on war.  Please.  I know this sounds like a hysterical fit, but I reading it right now and for the first time am feeling the horror of this permanent war.  I can feel it and it makes me sick. 

How to Save the World

How to Save the World

Last week I had the rare opportunity to see 'behind the scenes' at Disney World in Florida. They understand the importance of attention, but they have a very different approach to it. It is the job of management to pay attention to the individuals who work for them, and to remove obstacles that prevent them from paying attention to individual customers. Decisions on what to do and what to pay attention to are governed by a simple set of ordered priorities: safety first, courtesy second, the show third, and efficiency fourth. So if someone if behaving recklessly on a ride, safety first, stop the show. And if a child is unhappy, pull out all the stops to cheer them up, even if that cuts into profits. These rules are invariable, and no employee can ever be criticized for following them.


Privacy and peace of mind and heart, all relative in our world today, but when we have almost none in our ordinary lives we become—-less than humane.  Pollard comments in his usual, efficient, ordered way. 

a struggle to use


involving teachers and helping others.

SWIFT group

electronic lesson planning

need to make connection w

pre service English teachers

technology for fmd

doC. camera

readwrite gold

ia board.


1. nathan l and crew language resources on the web. devoloping language stuff . 21

2. att grammis games

3. advice notify sites of use

4.. evaluate with colleagues

5. Archivox

6. video downloadable funny

7 gustavo phonetjcs flash program nice videos

8. nlove maps of europe

Saturday, June 11, 2005

IDEABOOK.COM: How to create a small booklet

IDEABOOK.COM: How to create a small booklet

If you like little zines and poetry books, let this rip.  Publish folks, publish!



Their wandering is blogging, if this means to mark one’s presence in time.


Blogging as a way to raise one’s leg on the world, the unsanctified, true, sidereal world.

Spurious: Rats

Spurious: Rats

I want to be a rat, you say to yourself. But then you say: I despise all rats. In the library, you read books about apocalypse. The end is coming, you say to yourself. The end for all rats. But an image comes to you of a swarm of rats running across a blackened planet. Nothing will stop them, you think to yourself. Not even the apocalypse.


A grim and grimy grey vision of the universe that is probably closer to self-knowledge than most people dare to approach.  I think I will read more of this guy.


Here is a website I am currently working on for the E-train Weblog Project

This is a test of the avantblog system . If this is successful l will be very excited about the possibilities.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mezzy Anonymous Search Engine - Search Without Fear

Mezzy Anonymous Search Engine - Search Without Fear

Anonymous surfing anyone?  I am sure there are legitimate reasons for surfing anon, but my imagination fails me .  A search of my inagination annex shows this:  privacy (of course), more privacy, and, of course, Echelon. 

Magnatune TunePlug

Magnatune TunePlug

Ummm,  buy your flashblum. No, that sounds fugly.  How about this…flashalb, flalb, flashcd.  Needless to say, the world is full of combinations and variations on combinations, that’s the nature of evolution, but it is happening so quickly it’s like a bad 3–d headset,  makes you brainsick.  Magnatunes’s  reusable USB flash drive comes packed with ten albums.  You can buy them here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

This is my class to do list for June 3, 2005. Improv within structure. Un-ordered within the ordered.

Musta got hot! Either that of a harbinger of hell or proof that if there is a god he sure ain't nice.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dave Pollard on Dave Snowden

How to Save the World

Dave uses this story to illustrate why ABIDE works better than traditional approaches in complex situations::

Imagine organising a birthday party for a group of young children. Would you agree a set of learning objectives with their parents in advance of the party? Would you create a project plan for the party with clear milestones and empirical measures of achievement? Would you start the party with a motivational video or use PowerPoint slides? No, instead like most parents you would create barriers to prevent certain types of behaviours ("the bedrooms are off-limits"), you would use attractors (party games, toys, videos) to encourage the formation of beneficial, largely self-forming identities; you would disrupt negative patterns early to prevent the party becoming chaotic or necessitating the draconian imposition of authority. At the end of the party you would know whether it had been a success, but you could not define (in other than the most general terms) what that success would look like in advance.

In a very sensible post that refines for me one of the ideals I seek in the classroom (sigh…and am still seeking):  the evolving, extended improv or as they say in the improv biz, the HaroldIf I had my way schools of education would become places where we improvise content in the classrooms and there would be no specific learning objectives as such. Students would “perform” daily, honing their craft while making its content their own.  There is much more I wish to bring into my classroom from the world of improv, but the greatest tool is the sense of trust and direction one gets from the audience.  That’s what I want in the classroom.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Secrets of the A-List Bloggers: Lots of short entries

Secrets of the A-List Bloggers: Lots of short entries

On that particular day, the top five bloggers created an average of 30 entries, with each entry being under 150 words. This reminds me of something Phillip Greenspun, another A-list blogger, had said about why he liked blogs:

It allows me to experiments with the three paragraph form

Considering the size of the average entry from this, it seems very clear that an entry should be brief.

However, going beyond that is the number of entries that come in on a day. Looking at this, the average Top 5 A-list blogger wrote an average of almost 30 entries. Think about it for a second or two. 30 entries! It's a huge number for a single day.


Yes, it really is extraordinary how much some folks can churn out in their blogs, but then again look at Stephen King, Charles Dickens, or the like.  Prolix in extremis. I can but wish for more from myself, but now teaching is once again consuming me.  But teaching is good, n’est ce pas?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Parking lot: Living in open space

F3967_4657Parking lot: Living in open space

In reflecting on these experiences I realized what I was lacking was chaordic confidence, a term I appropriated from my friend Myriam Laberge. Chaordic confidence describes the ability to stay in chaos and trust that order will emerge. It's a subtle art, but it is essential to working with groups who are themselves confronting chaos. If you can stay in the belief that order will emerge from what Sam Kaner calls "The Groan Zone" then the group has something to hitch its horse to, so to speak. But if you are married to your tools, and things go off the rails, you feel like a fish out of water, and you flop around unable to deal with the uncertainty around you. I've seen it happen - we probably all have - and it's not pretty.

~Chris Corrigan

Chris Corrigan is one of my heroes.  I dream of applying Open Space Technology in my normal classroom. 


The Game Is Virtual. The Profit Is Real. - New York Times

The Game Is Virtual. The Profit Is Real. - New York Times

Log this under “the world has already changed and I didn’t even know it until I read about it in the NYT”.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Home : myGmaps

Home : myGmaps


For sheer damn! factor you have to see this.  I have begun preparing a graphical map of my Junior English students for June summer term.  This is just an alpha version of the software but all I can say is—-wow!  Privacy?  What that mean? 


Friday faves : Lifehacker

Friday faves : Lifehacker

I am back from picking up my daughter from school and I ran across a Lifehack’s Friday faves.  I am already using some of these and want to use more. 

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Education Podcast Network

The Education Podcast Network

The Education Podcast Network is an effort to bring together in one place, the wide range of podcast programming that may be helpful to busy teachers looking for content to teach with and about, and to explore issues of teaching and learning in the 21st century.


Nicely done.  Easy on the eyes and while not yet full of podcasts, they appear to be charging hard.  This is a portal of podcasts so you are led far afield, but I especially liked the link to the University of Chicago’s ‘Poem Present’.  I am listening to a podcast of a reading and lecture by Mary Jo Bang from Feb 24, 2004.  This link goes into my developing online course, PostLitTeach which in turn is part of my tech advocacy project at Western Kentucky University’s e-train project.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Yahoo! Groups : minciu_sodas_en Messages : Message 5334 of 5335

Yahoo! Groups : minciu_sodas_en Messages : Message 5334 of 5335

The domestic scene is not worth commenting on except for morbid
humour. A ten-minute discourse with the people in the street - urban
shopping centres, on bus or plane journeys, rural market places, in
the farmer fields, with tribal people in Pakistan's marginal areas -
will bring across one common perception: politics only affects the
five percent or so people who dabble in it directly in whatever
capacity. For the rest it is irrelevant since no one represents the
people or even tries to connect with them on issues that influence
their lives.

A former Pakistani military officer writing for  The News International, Islamabad, Pakistan, 22 May 2005, cracks a question that has been in my mind of late: how has Bush managed to pull the wool over so many eyes?  All tyrants need is for good men and women to say nothing.  It doesn’t matter why they say nothing, it only matters that they do. 


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Late Matisse cutout. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Grow simply older.



1. They are fun to play.
2. It is fun to watch others play.
3. You can blow stuff up, use the force, and win the Stanley Cup.
4. When playing with others you can talk trash.
5. Some games have entertaining plots.
6. You get to shape the plot.
7. Some games have interesting characters.
8. You can be that character.
9. They make you think.
10. They can help you about history, economics, politics, social relations, government, culture, physics, zoologoy, business, war, sports managment, art history, geography, city planning, diplomacy, archeology, forensic science, project managment, human resources, marketing, diversity, current events, literacy, poetry, mythology, and much more.

~Dennis Charsky

Glad to see games being taken seriously as they are, not as “educational”.  Which leads me to this.  Tell me.  How does an education standards committee view video games in the grand educational scheme?  And if they do include them in their state standards (by some miracle) what happens as the games evolve?  Where do they fit then?  Where does IM fit?  Where do blogs fit?  I suppose you can apply all these technologies to some Procrustean standards bed, but you would to do some deadly chopping to do so.  Standards.  Their name suggests forever, once, and always.  Truth with a capital “T”.   Akin to holy writ in that deviation from them constitutes corruption. 

Yet…I would be happy with a “many” standards approach to teaching.  I really do want to help my students become better writers.  I imply a standard when I say “better”, don’t I?  But where does this leave the students?  With me defining absolutely what that standard is and they reduced to aping it?  If there is anything I have learned in writing it is that the approaches to the better writing are many, but that if we define too clearly what that “better” is, then we create hacks.  That’s why there are so many bad writers out there including myself—we let other people put, as Max Stirner called ‘gears in the head’.  It is only with my personal use of weblogs that I have started to throw spanners in the works.  I have only now begun to cultivate a new garden of ‘standards’ from within.  How I am getting there?  Passionate, dogged obstinance against the man, that’s how.  Exactly the kind attitude that we hate in our students.  I have become the teenager in the back of the room, arms crossed, eyes wary.  I have seen what “standards” do and it ain’t pretty.  And I don’t think a clarion call to better standards is going to work.   Evar.



Cognitive Dissonance » Education as Commodity

Cognitive Dissonance » Education as Commodity

Education is a toaster that is being tuned to produce more and more toast of a uniform color, density, and texture. We take a variety of breads, feed them in, and require that we get exactly the same toast out. We take bagels and make toast. We take filet mignon and we make toast. We put every flavor, variety, and possibility into this toaster and we damn well expect to get toast — and nothing more — out.                                                            

Nathan Lowell

Amen to this, but make sure you read Jim Ellsworth’s cogent reply.  To their discussion I added my comments:

 It all comes down to not what’s worth teaching, but rather what’s worth learning. The whole metaphor of schools as delivery systems (makes them sound like either UPS or a saline driP) has failed. The two million words is classis post-hoc logic. I saw programs like this in middle schools where I taught eighth grade only it was called Accelerated Reader. Students would read books, take tests over the books (always multiple choice, T/F, matching) and then earn points. More points was always better. Kids who already loved to read (and there were never very many of these in my school) uniformly hated the things. It reduced a joyous act into a numbered one. The kids who didn’t love to read (for whatever reason and there are many) just said, “Screw this.” and opted out–failed. The vast middle of “strategic” students simply figured out how to game the system and did so. Those who succeeded were the extrinsically motivated “achievers” who learned that the purpose of reading is to pull out facts for a test. That’s really what most of what we do in school amounts to–showing students how to prepare themselves to be the perfect piece of toast.

And I believe that search for a set of standards is a chimera. I think that the process of helping students become ready for the future cannot come from the top down except in the most generic fashion. Look at the dinosaur we call schools and tell me with a straight face that they can move as quickly as the world around them. That’s why my kids were homeschooled. I never trusted any expert (admin, legislative, or otherwise) or any other expert to be on top when it came to defining what my kids should know. Which isn’t to say that I might not agree with 90% of what Ellsworth might come up with as a standard for geometry, for example. Nathan, your point, I think, is that it is a systemic problem: it is not possible under our current system to do what Jim Ellsworth suggest that we do. What we should be teaching students is how to come up with their own learning standards. School then becomes a very different game then. I am not even sure how to imagine such an institution except to say it would be centered on the student as a learner. This is the classic battle between the perennialists who believe there are ideal forms in the world and the constructivists who believe that what you see is what you get and that ideals change with circumstances. Nobody likes a fence straddler, but that’s what I am.



Friday, May 20, 2005

apcampbell :

apcampbell :

“Curriculum is for kids, discovery is for adults.” Jay Cross

T’aint necessarily so. This is opposite of what Alfred North Whitehead said that there are three modes: romance, precision, and generalization. Kids need discovery more than curriculum. Without the romance of exploration there will be no power to drive them through to precision and synthesis. Learning is emotional before it is rational. You have to have a feeling toward learning before you have a reason to learn.
For example, informal learning in a master/apprentice situation is knitted with the emotion of respect, (perhaps mixed with fear, but not too much). Informal learning of peers--the emotion of shared experience--is why games like World of Warcraft succeed. The shared learning goal is folded in with respect, desire to win, comradery. You buy into an idea emotionally before you learn into it.
Therefore, let us change Jay’s remark (which to give him credit might have been off the cuff) and paraphrase E.M. Forster by saying, “No matter your age, do what it takes to always connect.” That means formally (curriculum) and informally (discovery).

Here is a nice graphical representation of Whitehead's ideas.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quixtar Blog: Blogging 101 - You Don't Need a Blog

Quixtar Blog: Blogging 101 - You Don't Need a Blog

Cogent reasons not to blog.  Yet… I continue.

Flash / Learn to Dance with Napoleon Dynomite

Flash / Learn to Dance with Napoleon Dynomite

Gawwwd, this is flippin’ sweet! News | The lies that led to war News | The lies that led to war

“The question would be, What did George W. Bush decide about Iraq, and when did he decide it?”

Juan Cole’s article in Salon should blast open the door on the lies associated with the run-up to the Iraq debacle.  This is an impeachable offense.  Will the Republicans now change the rules in the Congress to make impeachment constitutionally impossible?  Is anything unimagineable in the vile climate of Washington these days?  No act is too disingenous or despicable for the Republican majority at this point as they rationalize the shipwreck course they are launching us all upon. When all of us will go down, a select few of us will have access to the lifeboats.  The rest of us?  Locked in steerage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scott Wilson's Workblog

Scott Wilson's Workblog

Novices learn best through formal learning, for it provides the structure, signposts, and scaffolding a newby lacks. Old hands learn best informally, because they already have foundation knowledge, familiarity, and a framework for understanding.  Jay Cross

I think that we learn best by having each of these threads in our hands knitting them both at the same time.  So much of learning is guided which is followed by get-the-hell-out-of-the-way followed by guiding again and so on and so forth and doobie doobie doo.  Now can someone explain to me why we put students through the infernal and seemingly eternal novitiate we call high school?  Yeah, I know you know. It doesn’t have anything to do with learning and has everything to do with command and control.  That’s why my three children have spent a grand total of less than a year in public learning institutions.  (My youngest is in a private arts academy for dance that requires a morning of academic work, a compromise for her and us in order to get what she can’t get here for love or money—dancing every day)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom :

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom :

The public scandal should be that we're not doing our jobs to model and teach students the appropriate, educational use of technologies they are already using outside of school. Sure, they may come across something we don't want them to see, but let's teach them how to deal with that. Let's talk to them about why what they see is inappropriate or demeaning or harmful or whatever. Denying access only teaches them that we're either at a loss for how to deal with the reality or too scared to do so.

Will Richardson

Oliver Wendell Holmes called it “the marketplace of ideas” and I still think that metaphor has legs. Here are his words in Abrams v. United States

"But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market ... . That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment."

Get me to freakin’ Tattoo Charlies so I can have him make this credo a part of my skin. This is as close as I get to libertarian. I have always felt that if schools are so hidebound and hamstrung that the sight of, no, wait, the mere threat of the unsightly is enough to make them refuse one of the protean tools of our age, weblogs, then they are well and truly fucked. Why? They have shown the intellectual bankruptcy in their position through their unwillingness to risk their capital in the marketplace of ideas. Make no mistake—weblogs are an idea : glorious, appalling, chaotic, and dangerously liberating. That's why what Will says above bears repeating,

Denying access [to blogs] only teaches them that we're either at a loss for how to deal with the reality or too scared to do so.”

I feel the sweet breath of a brave idea driving away what Milton named 'darkness visible'. And like Milton, we must not despair. We must, " Awake, arise, or be forever fallen!" (Paradise Lost. Book i. Line 330.)

Big Student is Clicking You!

Continuous, on-the-fly student assessment at their fingertips? I don't know about the value of these bad boys, but I do think that administrators might say, "Heck, let's substitute this for the the end of year assessment." Or some typical admin nonsense that would not measure what it intended. But what if you used it to measure "student engagement"in some very rough way for personal assessment purposes. Any communication instrument that allows backchannel talk is of interest to me. Think feedback loop and I believe you will see the value here. Of course, a good teacher can create his own channels of communication with existing high and low tech. The comments at the bottom of the post in Engadget are priceless. I especially liked this one, "Do we really need a high tech way to raise your hand?" I think that misses the general point of connection for the specific point of "Is this retarded or what?"

Staying What Course? - New York Times

Staying What Course? - New York Times

Why did the administration want to invade Iraq, when, as the memo noted, "the case was thin" and Saddam's "W.M.D. capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran"? Iraq was perceived as a soft target; a quick victory there, its domestic political advantages aside, could serve as a demonstration of American military might, one that would shock and awe the world.


Krugman writes about the “Downing Street Memo” and then takes it that final step that I cherish so much in my students’ writings, the “so what” factor.

But the Iraq war has, instead, demonstrated the limits of American power, and emboldened our potential enemies. Why should Kim Jong Il fear us, when we can't even secure the road from Baghdad to the airport?


Why indeed o ye fighting 301st keyboarding divisions of the right blogosphere.

 The point is that something has to give. We either need a much bigger army - which means a draft - or we need to find a way out of Iraq.

Sorry that Krugman felt the need for the false dichotomy at the end here.  There is rarely such a stark fork in the road if reasonable people are trying to reason with other reasonable people.  I can forgive this as a rhetorical flourish, but I also acknowledge that Bush and the neocons live in a faith-based reality that neither needs or wishes to be reasonable.   With them it’s my way or the highway, love it or leave it.  I guess Krugman’s implied point is that if we get backed up into this corner much further we won’t even have stark choices.

BTW:  get your fill of Krugman and Frank Rich now because it looks like the NYT is going paid subscription with its columnists and op-ed page.  I don’t have fifty bucks a year for that.  That’ll end up biting them in the ass.  Newspapers continue to dive in “pulp” circulation and this will only serve to drive down web circulation.  I guess they have moved Judith Miller to circulation management. 

Monday, May 16, 2005


David Baldwin Night Photography

Hossein Derakhshan of the Iranian (via Canada?) blog Hoder speaks with Chris Lydon in his new pod/broadcast (broadpodcast?) effort Open Source . He draws three useful metaphors for weblogs:

  • Windows (culture, information)--allows us a look into and a look out from those who come to the weblog,
  • Bridges (society, activism)--cross gender, political, and social lines with weblogs, and
  • Cafes (politics)--"a discursive arena that is home to citizen debate, deliberation, agreement and action." Public Sphere (Jurgen Habermas)
    Equal power for everyone to question, express, and introduce
So where do you stand in your blog? What are the consequences (or in critical terms the extensions) to teaching and learning from each of these metaphors? Are some metaphors better that others? Some better from a civic point of view and some better from an informational standpoint? Many more questions here than I have good or even feeble answers for.

Let Us Wash in the Waters of the Creek

Elaine hard at work being a scientist. My wife is a mainstay of the effort to measure water quality where we live. She runs the volunteer training and sampling database for the entire Upper Green River Water Basin. On Sunday, we traveled from the upper forks of the Bacon Creek to its mouth on the Nolin River. It is a solid feeling to traverse an entire watershed in one morning. I have a dream of one day walking from the rise of each of the three forks of the Bacon all the way to its mouth. I think I know someone who just might do it with me. Our farm fronts on Bacon Creek. Someday it will be clean again through the grand efforts of the fine gal in the picure above.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Category:Life hacks - 43FoldersWiki

Category:Life hacks - 43FoldersWiki

Handy as a pocket on a shirt.  This collection of “lifehacks” (geekspeak for tips and advice) is worth a visit or two or ten—and because this is a wiki it is constantly being added to and updated by the readers.  If you want to really explore the possibilities here, grab  TiddlyWiki and put in on a flash drive along with Firefox.  You have an instant journal.  Or if you are into David Allen’s Getting Things Done, then you can download this thematic GTDTiddlyWiki

TiddlyWiki is a classic collaborative tool.  Start a dialog with a friend.  Send them your TiddlyWiki (it is an html file). They comment and return.  Each iteration is actually a webpage of growing complexity so that the knowledge is being managed as it is created.  When the collaboration is done, the resulting page is posted.   Does anyone appreciate the pedagogical resonance here?  I think that one immediate application is in how it can work in tandem with  email, leveraging it into an uncommonly handy collaborative tool.  Include encryption and you have security as well. 

Saturday, May 14, 2005

PBS | I, Cringely . May 12, 2005 - Inflection Point

PBS | I, Cringely . May 12, 2005 - Inflection Point

Cringely has his finger in the wind again. And it looks like a free-for-all cage match MSSS/Google/Yahoo/Apple.

Neural Jungle--New learning metaphor?

Lookie here now, boys and girls. Notice where the learner is-- the linking node in a swarm of tools. Borg? Hive mind? New soviet man? For the life of me it looks like a brain with neurons and glial cells and ever rippling complexity. Are we creating an artificial Gaia?

We, the WKU Summer Online Gradu-wits

I met some very fine folks at our weeklong summer camp here at Western Kentucky University. We were all introduced to WKU's lms--Blackboard. I was amazed by the intelligence and true "geek spirit" at work among us all. Thanks to Sally, Allan, Sean, Julie, Beth, and all for making it useful and memorable. I have only been at WKU for a year, but it feels a lot longer--and I mean that in the best possible way.

Harold gets a flash "tapping" in from the Grand Poobah of Datum, Allan Heaps, as another class graduates from Western Kentucky University Summer Camp. More pix are available here at my flickr photostream.



I could see this as a fun way to do blog PD for teachers.  At least it is accessible.  Note that Yahoo and Google are Park Place and Boardwalk respectively and that the IM is now classified as the “utilities” of the old game.  Nice argumentative piece in the form of a graphic. 

rider.jpg (JPEG Image, 480x713 pixels)

rider.jpg (JPEG Image, 480x713 pixels)


Blogosphere got you down?  Pep up with a little bit of fun from Mojo Nixon, especially these live cuts (definitely not safe for work).  Check out the jpeg above-it’s his “rider” to every live concert gig he does.  No, really.  It’s not just a joke.  Mojo insists on Lights ON! at his concerts and no flute players for opening acts exceptin’ the mighty master of the pan flute, the late Country Dick Montana.

The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design

Daniel Saffer has written a fine, useful, and readable essay on metaphor and its applications. This is great place to start if you are rethinking your teaching in light of the web. Below is a shortened set of his guidelines for using metaphors. Read the article to "fatten" the skeleton below. (You see? Metaphor is ubiquitous.)

Guidelines for Metaphor Usage

As we’ve seen, metaphor is a powerful but potentially dangerous tool for
designers. So how can designers use it appropriately? Some guidelines are

• Metaphors are cultural.
• Metaphors are contextual.
• Fit the metaphor to the functionality, not the other way around.
• Use metaphor to uncover otherwise hidden aspects of the material.
• Discard process metaphors when necessary.
• Don’t let your metaphor ruin key features.
• Choose metaphors that are appropriately scalable.
• Let your metaphors degrade and die.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom : Horizontal Classrooms

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom : Horizontal Classrooms

Command and control is "dead man walking." It will not survive in a world that is no longer built on command and control relationships. And our students will not be prepared for their futures if we continue to hold on to it.

Will Richardson


Will has really helped me clarify in my onw mind at least what might seem an esoteric bit of theoretical fluff,  but I believe that theory is the source of practice. Thanks, Will.

 I am reminded more and more of Edwin Abbott's math fantasy/satire Flatland. Weblogs and folksonomic technologies are the incomprehensible world of 3-D while hierarchical, taxonomic technologies (learning management systems like Blackboard and WebCT spring to mind)are the 2-D flatlanders. I would turn Friedman's tepid metaphor of flattening on its head and demand that we view the world as becoming more multidimensional all the time. We are moving toward a metaphor we don't understand, not toward one that we do. That's the bite of it. Moses couldn't delineate the promised land, but he sensed it. As Abbott said in his seminal book, "Flatlanders tell the truth about flatland." In the parlance of his book, we (you, me, and tech attuned) are squares who have been touched by a sphere.

We live in a world we know ain't "right", but knowing that doesn't mean we know what is true. It is the mystery Faulkner spoke of when he said we should never mistake the facts for the truth.

U of M Digital Media Center: Home Page.

One of my colleagues,  (they all know I blog) sent me this link from the U of Minnesota’s Digital Media Center.  It’s a blog rubric.  Is this proof edublogging has gone mainstream?  I think yes, but if that’s not enough proof for you,  the Daily Show’s had it’s take on the blogosphere this week. 

Can’t find the link for that, but I reaaaaallllly hate the expression blogosphere.  My son thinks my whole blogging enterprise is damned lame.  He will walk by me and in complete deadpan say, “Shouldn’t you be in (pause, then holds out both arms like the old Superman series) the blogosphere?” 









U of M Digital Media Center: Home Page.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Three Amigos

Check it out. Flickr is a very cool photo site with the ability to annotate pictures.
Here is a photo of our peerless tech leaders

New evangelism: mini loans |

New evangelism: mini loans |

These days, Christian and other religious organizations, both here and around the world, are lending more than just a hand. Microloans - of as little as $100 - have become as much a part of their ministries as preaching the gospel.


Two items sparked by this article:

Why can’t more relief  secular, religious, and governmental be in this form?

What can I do in the classroom with my skills and talents that even remotely approaches this level of effectiveness?  I honestly don’t believe that my implicit comparison of third world relief and college teaching is apples and oranges.  How do you leverage this kind of effectiveness?  Could it be as simple as finding out what people need and helping them get it?  Leverage like this and I begin to belive along with Archimedes that we can change the world.



Yahoo! Groups : minciu_sodas_en Messages : Message 5297 of 5299

Yahoo! Groups : minciu_sodas_en Messages : Message 5297 of 5299

The question here is "How do we
change?", and that's a matter of action

Does a phrase, seemingly unrelated and unconnected, ever spark off the page at you and you pull back both awestruck and aghast wondering, “How do I deal with this?”  It  breaks off a piece of an arctic shelf inside yourself—- but with you on it.  Adrift you are and heading toward warmer climes?  Or maybe the waterfall a la Perils of Pauline.  Still you wonder, WTF. 

That’s what this question does to me.  Maybe you are this way, too.   Poems come to me this way.  Dilemmas come to me this way.  They are harbingers of change.    Only begs the question.  When will the full retinue be here?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom :

And I know not every student was born to be a blogger. But, I would argue that every student, every person was born to be a contributor, whether that's via blog or wiki or podcast or whatever. We need to create a culture of contribution in our schools where our students' work is non only celebrated but put to use in meaningful ways. Don't just e-value-ate what they do but provide ways for what they do to have long lasting value.

Weblogg-ed - The Read/Write Web in the Classroom :

The usual thought-provoking riffs coming from Will Richardson.  This inspired me to respond in a comment to him:

  If there is one insight to come out of cognitive linguistics over the past twenty-five years, it is Lakoff and Johnson's theory that the core of thought is metaphoric. We don't just use metaphor as a critical and analytic term and tool. We are metaphoric in our brains. "Classroom" implies an enclosure, a bottle of sorts, a boundary that encloses. What happens when technology breaks the bottle? You have a blogwikiflickrfurlicious open space full of connections. Edblogging 3.0 is the birth of new metaphors for new experience. I oversimplify, but I think we edbloggers hold both metaphors (classroom and connected-open space) in our hearts simultaneously. We live in both worlds, yet we know one of them is a dead man walking. 

I think that what we are seeing is a folksonomic revolution.  Maybe I mistake a small tide for a larger one, but when you begin to feel like a bobber in a spring rise on a mighty river, perhaps a tippin point is at hand.  This bobber-eyed view of the “catastrophe” seems so small;  I dream of  kites to lift me up to see.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Trojanmice Complexity Club - Newsletter No.15


An example of folksonomic behavior:

I came across a fascinating example of self organizing in the Plexus Newsletter – it’s called “slugging”.

“It is a form of commuting — solo drivers picking up strangers so they can all cruise to work legally in high-occupancy-vehicle lanes — is called "slugging." Passengers are "slugs," a label alluding not to their energy or wit but to counterfeit tokens and coins. A ride, too, is a slug. Drivers are drivers, or less commonly, "body snatchers," "scrapers" and "land sharks." With little notice outside Washington, these Northern Virginia commuters to the nation's capital and big office sites of nearby Arlington, Rosslyn and Crystal City have blended hitchhiking and carpooling into a quick, efficient way to outmanoeuvre a traffic-choked freeway.
Slugging started by spontaneous eruption and runs by perpetual motion. When the area's three-person, high-occupancy vehicle lanes opened 30 years ago, some guy and then another and another picked up commuters at bus stops to get the passengers needed to use the lanes. No government agency sanctions slugging, runs it, regulates it, promotes it or thought it up. The Census Bureau, which tracks most forms of commuting, knows nothing about slugging.
In slugging, there is no supervisor, dispatcher or schedule, no ticket or fare.”

Trojanmice Complexity Club - Newsletter No.15

Trojanmice Complexity Club - Newsletter No.15

Trojanmice Complexity Club - Newsletter No.15

"The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would
like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do."

*** Robert M. Pirsig (b. 1928) Author ***

Touchstone Tools and Resources: Part One

Touchstone Tools and Resources

This is a magnificent article, full of sound and fury, signifying a helluva lot. The problem is posed:

There is a subtle but pervasive pain in organizations. You can recognize it in such complaints as "How am I supposed to get my work done with all these meetings?" and "We always have time to do things over again, but never time to do them right." It is the pain of expecting things to be one way and repeatedly banging into a different reality. It is the pain of trying to do good work in an environment full of motion and effort but few results.

Ah, the voice of experience with a firm grasp on reality. I have felt the same way in both high school and college teaching. Tell us more gentlemen.

We are having to solve a new class of problems-wicked problems-using thinking, tools, and methods that are useful only for simpler problems. That is like trying to use woodworking tools to fix your car. The pain is exacerbated by the fact that people have not distinguished this new problem variety. It is as though we believe the best tool for a tune-up really is a hammer. The pain and frustration are so pervasive they seem inevitable.

Yes, to the surgeon all problems can and must be fixed with a scalpel. I love this expression—wicked problems—they do seem to be intractibly bad. So what metaphor would you use to describe the conventional wisdom on problem solving

Traditional thinking, cognitive studies, and existing design methods all predicted that the best way to work on a problem like this was to follow an orderly and linear process, working from the problem to the solution. Everybody knows that. You begin by understanding the problem, which can include gathering and analyzing data. Once you have specified the problem and analyzed the data, you are ready to formulate-and then implement-a solution…. In the software industry, this is known as the waterfall model because it suggests a waterfall as the design flows down the steps.

Duhs-ville, man. I don’t work that way so tell me how we really solve problems.

In the MCC study, however, the designers did not follow the waterfall model. They would start by trying to understand the problem, but would immediately jump to formulating potential solutions. Then they would go back to refining their understanding of the problem. Rather than being orderly and linear, the line plotting the course of their thinking looked more like a seismograph for a major earthquake….We call this pattern both chaotic…and opportunity-driven, because in each moment the designers are seeking the best opportunity to progress toward a solution.

So why call them wicked?

Of course, linear processes are quite appropriate for solving many problems, such as computing the square root of 1239 or choosing the shortest route to the new mall. But within organizations-such as corporations, institutions, and government-where lots of people work on complex issues, people are encountering a new class of much more difficult problems. We call these wicked problems because of the dynamic and evolving nature of the problem and the solution during the problem-solving process.

What does this mean for me and the online learning business? When we consider what it is we want our students to know and do at the end of our tenure together, aren’t we posing a seismically wicked problem? And if this study is true then we need an equally wicked folksonomic solution. Could this be as simple as saying let’s leave the lower level taxonomies for the web and save the higher stuff for class? I don’t think it works that simply. Let’s look at the elements of a wicked problem as they see it.

First, “the problem is an evolving set of interlocking issues and constraints. Indeed, there is no definitive statement of the problem. You don't understand the problem until you have developed a solution.” Christ, is that ever assbackwards, but as Richard Saul Wurman so pithily put it, “Ready, fire, aim instead of ready, aim, fire.” One must, therefore, be satisfied with ever-tightening approximations toward a ‘bullseye’ that grows smaller all the while. This runs counter to any institutional wisdom I have ever heard, especially within schools. In fact, the further up the educational foodchain, the more hidebound and inflexible the system becomes. This non-linear solution set puts you very counter to conventional wisdom.

Second, since there are many folks with a stake in a wicked problem it is important that those folks have a say in the answer, even if it is the wrong one. Wicked problems are social first, logical second. We realize this instinctively when we talk about how we have to “buy into” the solution, but that has usually had the equivocal baggage of the sales metaphor chucked in with it. And most people don’t buy it. And we end up with half an answer most of the time.

Third, constraints change all the time. Legislatures go broke, university presidents who spearhead initiatives move on which is simply to say that wicked problems are slippery. We shouldn’t be terribly surprised when we get grease all over ourselves handling these “little pigs.”

Fourth, final solutions do not exist.

Where does this definition leave us?

A wicked problem is an evolving set of interlocking issues and constraints. A linear approach to solving a wicked problem simply will not work.”

Now that presents a seriously wicked problem for all of us, even if we give it only a passing glance. I plan on responding further to this because it corresponds so closely to the wicked problem I will be facing all week--what do I want my students to be able to do after they have finished my online literature class?

Many thanks to Chris Corrigan who pointed this out via his weblog, Parking Lot. This is for me a groundbreaking analysis on the nature of problems and problemsolving. Thanks to E. Jeffrey Conklin and William Weil for finally bringing all this to the surface for me. The binary of taxonomy and folksonomy has finally fallen into place with a satisfying click of recognition. Part 2 tomorrow.

A Literary Evening with John Prine and Ted Kooser (Library of Congress)

I love this conflux:  Prine/Ted Kooser/Library of Congress.  It has never been easier to love language and literature and music and culture. 


A Literary Evening with John Prine and Ted Kooser (Library of Congress)

Poet Laureate Ted Kooser said, "I've been following John Prine's music since his first album came out and have always been struck by his marvelous writing: its originality, its playful inventiveness, its poignancy, its ability to capture our times. For example, he did a better job of holding up the mirror of art to the '60s and '70s than any of our official literary poets. And none of our poets wrote anything better about Viet Nam than Prine's 'Sam Stone.'


The Most Useful Web Sites for Reporters

The Most Useful Web Sites for Reporters

The most useful Web sites for reporters, yes, that about says it all.  Now,  where are the reporters.  They seem to have deserted us.  Check out Frank Rich’s Sunday column.  

Tiny Mix Tapes

What a cool site!  Now I have some focus for my many p2p searches.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Sacrilege! (Songs with sacriligious, though not necessarily profane, song titles or lyrics)

01. The The - "Armageddon Days (Are Here Again)" (Mind Bomb)
02. Richard Thompson - "Outside of the Inside" (Old Kit Bag)
03. Sting - "Saint Augustine in Hell" (Ten Summoner's Tales)
04. XTC - "Dear God" (Skylarking)
05. The Eels - "God's Silence" (Blinking Lights and Other Revelations disc 2)
05. R.E.M - "Losing My Religion" (Out of Time)
06. Johnny Cash - "Personal Jesus" (American IV: The Man Comes Around)
07. Simon and Garfunkel - "A Church is Burning" (Live from New York City, 1967)
08. Rufus Wainwright - "Gay Messiah" (Want Two)
09. Iron & Wine - "Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Song)" (Woman King)

bonus track for those of you who find this list too sane
10. Cake - "Satan is my Motor" (Prolonging the Magic)

compiled by: Be A Debaser

01. Tom Waits - "Chocolate Jesus" (Mule Variations)
02. Modest Mouse - "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" (Lonesome Crowded West)
03. Beck - "Satan Gave Me a Taco" (Stereopathetic Soul Manure)
04. Grand Buffet - "Nake Kukla's History of Lemonade" (Cigarette Beach)
05. Grand Buffet - "Cool as Hell" (Pittsburgh Hearts)
06. Depeche Mode - "Personal Jesus" (Violator)
07. Lagwagon - "Kids Don't Like to Share" (Hoss)
08. Nine Inch Nails - "Heresy" (The Downward Spiral)
09. The Breeders - "Hellbound" (Pod)
10. The Misfits - "Speak of the Devil" (American Psycho)

Compiled by: peter gibbons

1. XTC - "Dear God" (Skylarking)
2. David Byrne - "Something Ain't Right" (Uh-Oh)
3. Patti Smith - "Gloria" (Horses)
4. Nirvana - "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" (MTV Unplugged)
5. Steely Dan - "Godwhacker" (Everything Must Go)
6. Elvis Costello - "God's Comic" (Spike)
7. John Lennon - "God" (Plastic Ono Band)
8. Randy Newman - "God's Song" (Sail Away)
9. Madonna - "Act of Contrition" (Like a Prayer)
10. Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon - "Plastic Jesus" (Prairie Home Invasion)
11. Austin Lounge Lizards - "Jesus Loves Me, But He Can't Stand You" (Lizard Vision

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Backpack: Home page

Backpack: Home page

OK here's a public backpack site for my project to put my intro to lit class online. This 37Signals and they are creating some simple, interesting, and useable sites with Ruby on Rails. I want to learn that programming language.

Teaching to the Six

 So why do I like teaching undergraduates? Because I am not dismayed by the prospect of a world in which at least one-sixth (and as many as one-half) of my auditors-students-interlocutors take seriously the possibility that they will use the critical tools I try to wield and to offer for further use.  I’m actually rather cheered by the idea. I think of it this way: On my bad days I teach to tbe six young adults who just might pursue literary and cultural studies for much of the rest of their lives, but on what scale of values does that constitute failure? Another twelve, maybe another twenty, might be motivated, by me and by my colleagues, to continue serious, critically reflective reading in their adult lives, and how could I possibly hope for a better "rate of response" from anything I might publish in a "public" forum? College teaching is, as many teachers have pointed out in the past decade, a substantial form of "public intellectual" work. And isn't pedagogy, in the end, one of the principal reasons that literary journalists have such complex and conflicted relations with literature professors —because we work the same beat save that they have readerships and we have students?

 Berube, Michael. Pedagogy, Winter2002, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p3, 13p

Michael Berube justifies the literary game.  Teachers should focus on students much as writers should pay attention to their audiences.  Is this so obvious to belabor?  No, because I honestly don’t see many teachers doing that.  What would happen if we really thought of students as our audiences not only now but after they have left our classrooms?  The classroom then becomes 4–D and time outside the semester becomes an element.  How to do this?  Continuing to serve your audience through weblogs, listservs, email zines, contests, surveys, consulting, etc.  The classroom is not a linear thing, an object plopped down in a plaza for all to view then walk away from.  A classroom is an inconceivable conflux of  thread and space that spins out from one short moment in time.  Practically speaking, it can actually be this now much more than ever before because we don’t have to abandon that web each semester.  I want my teaching to be this way because I think that it is a continuing part of the “public intellectual” work that I embrace out of choice.  It is a duty, too.  I owe my students that much because they are also my colleagues and friends .

Yesterday was the last day of finals, graduation was slated for the evening and I was returning some books to the university library.   One of my former high school students walked through the doors to do the same thing I was doing, but it was also his graduation day.  James and I talked about his years in college, his plans, and his dreams.  It was a closure moment for both of us when he told me what he remembered most from my classes—media analysis, especially movies, and most notably by the Wallace and Gromit movies.  If I had had an enlarged view of teaching like I am proposing, I could have shared more of his story and would have had a fuller life in doing so.  As James wished me a fond goodbye, I said I would start some cool rumors about him. 

I don’t express myself well here, but that’s ok.  Blogging can be so much thinking out loud and still be just fine.


Teach42 - RSS powered by FeedBurner

Teach42 - RSS powered by FeedBurner

A recent discussion on Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed and a synchronicitous listen to a  Steve Dembo podcast of Teach42 .

Dembo says in effect that blogging is not an intuitive and that's why you need to do the blogging 101 thing over and over. Part of the reason I don't blog personally as much is because I am doing a lot of this bloggo a bloggo interaction. So... let's keep doing the 101 thing, but let's also figure out how to make blogs "useable" to the novice. Any ideas?

Essential Questions in Teaching and Learning

Essential Questions in Teaching and Learning

Schools become invisible when they engage students with real-life problems.

I am not sure who said that originally, but I wholeheartedly agree.  This has always been a goal of mine.  I don’t want to objectify school in somebody’s head, I want somebody to extend themselves into the world.  I am engaged in the process of gettng my intro to lit class on the web.  How do I make that place invisible? 


Friday, May 06, 2005 : Cool Programs : Cool Programs

Lots of fun programs to junk up my computer and have my son yell at me, “Dad, there’s no more room on the desktop!”


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Speeches by Bill Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Speeches by Bill Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

America’s high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It’s the wrong tool for the times.

Well,  duh.


\What's a character blog.  Read here and find out.  Would be fun to use a university mascot as a character blog with guest bloggers to round out the PR.  Good way to sell a university a weblog—PR especially if you are having a big anniversary.



Grant Robinson : Montage-a-google launcher

Grant Robinson : Montage-a-google launcher


Take what is and make it new.  This montage maker via google is the ultimate fun for the random learner/thinker. 

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Why Won't They Just Use Technology?

There is an order of at least one magnitude between teachers who are oriented toward getting things done in the classroom with web and electronic technologies and those who aren't. This is a tipping point issue. As the digital generation takes over the classroom, change will come. I believe that the problem is in our own orientation: we are carpenters and every problem can be solved best with a hammer and nail. Here is the problem in a nutshell. We must put ourselves in the shoes of the non-enamored and skeptical. If we do this, then the proper order of business at the beginning of any professional development training becomes (1.) what do you teachers want students to be able to do in your content, and (2.) what are the best tools for doing it? Real 3 by 5 cards might just be a more effective tool than a weblog.

We need to know what our tech tools do best and then back off if there are other alternative tools available. Wouldn't we be better off developing methods which help teachers decide on the best mix of all available tools and that includes which ones fits our teaching personas best. That's a lot more nuance than most of us blogvangelists have been able to muster. Until the ed schools get off their butts to do this, I think we better get started with it.

Will at Weblogg-ed broaches this topic. I think he is dead on when he says that we must continue to get the message out. I thing the best way to do that is by making these tools part of the larger mix of tools. We must co-op the old tools just as the Catholic Church co-opted pagan holidays by squatting down next to, say... the lesson plan and taking it over incrementally. And we need to make damned sure that the mix makes their teaching lives better in demonstrably easier ways. Technology must pay for them in their own way first. If they come to see it our way so much the better, but until that tipping point is reached we are pissing in the wind by just putting the food down where the goats can get to it.

Madame Bovary v. Half-Life 2

JoHo speaks about Steve Johnson's new book, Everything Bad is Good for You,

"Although Half Life 2 is, as Steve points out, far more complex than the previous generation's Pac-Man, for all its amazing physics and integrated puzzles and pretty good pixelated acting, HL2 gives us a toy world. The world of Emma Bovary, on the other hand, doesn't resolve to rules and puzzles. It's messy, ambiguous, and truly complex. Of course Steve knows this, but he underplays it when pointing out the hidden complexity of video games."

Could literature get more respect from students by a head on comparison with video game narrative? I should think that any lit teacher worth his water should be able to do that. That would be the real marketplace of ideas in action. I think I can win that debate.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

IDFuel, the Industrial Design Weblog

IDFuel, the Industrial Design Weblog

It's probably safe to say that every designer goes into the business with the intention of shaking things up. We want to "Change the world" or "Make a difference". And that's awesome. There are tons of problems that need worldchanging solutions. It just happens that not all the solutions are barn burners like a sexy new car or supersonic jet.

Take for example the brainchild of Deborah Adler and Klaus Rosburg. They are responsible for Target's brand new (and desperately needed) update to the lowly prescription pillbottle. Believe it or not, with the exception of the frustrating, and largely ineffective childproof caps, the orange plastic pill bottle has been unchanged since world war 2!

OK.  Now let’s do what they did for the lesson plan , the gradebook, the bulletin board and  the classroom.  What would a redesigned lesson plan look like in a weblog?  I would hope it would emphasize the organization of the old with the improvisational and interactive nature of the new.  That’s the hard part, now somebody go out and do it. 




Friday, April 29, 2005

Blogging 101

Blogging 101

The major cause of fatalities among online learning operations, internal and commercial, is not technical failure or pedagogical failure, it is process failure flowing from a failure in vision. Short-sightedness, tunnel vision, and technology focus can leave you very exposed.

Parkin's Lot: Defining an E-Learning Strategy

Parkin's Lot: Defining an E-Learning Strategy

The major cause of fatalities among online learning operations, internal and commercial, is not technical failure or pedagogical failure, it is process failure flowing from a failure in vision. Short-sightedness, tunnel vision, and technology focus can leave you very exposed.


Amen to this.  The proper order of business at the beginning of any project:  1. what do you want to do?  2.Where are the tools for doing it?


Justice Sunday.  The jackboots are gathering and I can hear their thunder from afar.  What will you do?


Twenty years ago, I wrote about “National Socialism as Temptation,” about what it was that induced so many Germans to embrace the terrifying specter. There were many reasons, but at the top ranks Hitler himself, a brilliant populist manipulator who insisted and probably believed that Providence had chosen him as Germany’s savior, that he was the instrument of Providence, a leader who was charged with executing a divine mission. God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler’s success in fusing racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas.

German moderates and German elites underestimated Hitler, assuming that most people would not succumb to his Manichean unreason; they didn’t think that his hatred and mendacity could be taken seriously. They were proven wrong. People were enthralled by the Nazis’ cunning transposition of politics into carefully staged pageantry, into flag-waving martial mass. At solemn moments, the National Socialists would shift from the pseudo-religious invocation of Providence to traditional Christian forms: In his first radio address to the German people, twenty-four hours after coming to power, Hitler declared, “The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.”

As Digby says,  “Makes the hair stand up, doesn’t it?”