Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thiagi's Newsletter for a New Year

Thiagi's Newsletters are full of fascinating and applicable ways to help students learn.  Here are ten tips, but you need to go look at the article to get the good stuff.  No, I don't have any reason to drive traffic there, just a desire to share really good, practical, and tested training advice.  Here is the link.

Ten Exciting Ways To Waste Your Training Dollars

1. Analysis and Planning
2. The Finish Line
3. Content is NOT king
4. Information Please!
5. Multimedia Spectacular
6. Passive Learning
7. Activity Abuse
8. Testing, Testing
9. Follow the Script
10. Beyond Smile Sheets

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Learning Credos are Teaching Manifestos

Dan Gilmour has some advice for journalism students on being a literate person ten years into the 21st century.  More importantly, I think this 'advice' is a  learning credo which means that it is also a teaching manifesto.  I highly recommend reading the whole article.  It is full of insight that can only come from having been a reflective participant for decades.  This article is a year old and I am sorry I missed it when it came out.  As usual the comments are thought provoking and humbling.  The Berkman Center continues to provide a useful and interesting forum for new ideas prompted by our evolving digital ecologies.  Their podcasts are a steady staple for my commute time:  Audio and Video.
        • Principles of Media Consumption: the principles come mostly from common sense. Call them skepticism, judgment, understanding, and reporting.
        1. Be skeptical of absolutely everything.
        2. Although skepticism is essential, don’t be equally skeptical of everything.
        3. Go outside your personal comfort zone.
        4. Ask more questions.
        5. Understand and learn media techniques.
APA Citation via Zotero: 

Gillmor, D. (2008, December 12). Principles for a New Media Literacy – Center for Citizen Media. Center for Citizen Media. Blog, . Retrieved December 30, 2009, from

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amish Web Sites and New Scientist Curmudgeons

This is not exactly an awe inspiring article, but the gist of it is that technology needs to be on tap, not on top.  There is a value to curmudgeonry as long as it does not conflate its position with the Perennial One--capital T Truth.  The argument made here is the same one that the Amish have wrestled with for centuries: how much technology is enough?  They tend to draw the line where it diminishes family connection.  Kevin Kelly's article on "Amish Hackers" puts this distinction another way.  They distinguish between owning and using technology.  Consider their rules when you, your company, your school, or your business is thinking about the next new new thing.

The Amish are steadily adopting technology -- at their pace. They are slow geeks. As one Amish man told Howard Rheingold, "We don't want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down," But their manner of slow adoption is instructive.
  • 1) They are selective. They know how to say "no" and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
  • 2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
  • 3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
  • 4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction. 
Kelly, K. (2009, February 11). The Technium: Amish Hackers. The Technium. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from

Below is a quick summary of the New Scientist piece that inspired this post using Diigo's annotation features.  All material is quoted with some connective language added to aid the reader. 

    • "THE age of melancholy" is how psychologist Daniel Goleman describes our era.

    • Our lifestyles are increasingly driven by technology.

    • Technology can be hugely useful in the fast lane of modern living, but we need to stop it from taking over.

      • the computer has become the centre of attention; it is the medium through which we work and play.

      • adults and children increasingly believe that in order to belong and feel good about themselves, they must own the latest model or gadget.

      • psychologist Tim Kasser of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, has shown that people who place a high value on material goals are unhappier than those who are less materialistic.

      • As one unhappy human-resource manager in a high-tech company put it: "They gave me a mobile phone so they can own me 24 hours a day, and a portable computer, so my office is now with me all the time - I cannot break out of this pressure."

    • Psychologists generally believe that the lack of a clear separation between work and home significantly damages our relationships with loved ones.

    • Modern society is in danger of swapping standard of living for quality of life.

    • My prescription is self-determination theory, developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester in New York state.

    • three vital elements

      • First is autonomy

    • It is easy to see how technology undermines autonomy, but also how to regain it. This may be as simple as switching off mobile phones during meals and family time, setting aside specific times to answer emails, and being available only when we choose to be.

      • Second is a sense of competence

    • being truly competent must be a continuation of our autonomy: knowing which activities are important to us and carrying them out in the most effectual way possible, making use of technology where applicable.

      • The third factor is relatedness.

    • Psychologists have found that the pivotal difference between happy and unhappy people is the presence or absence of rich and satisfying social relationships. Spending meaningful time with friends, family and partners is necessary for happiness.

    • A added fourth factor is critical thinking.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Innovative

  • tags: no_tag

    • Five Ways Innovative Educators Can Use Texting As a Professional Tool
    • Texting as an Efficient and Effective Communication Tool
    • disruptive announcement system
    • enables educators to communicate short, efficient messages to one another without robbing students of instructional time.
    • Enhancing The Home-School Connection
    • The Journal has an excellent article on how schools are using notification tools for more than emergency alerts. In fact some schools are using it in a way that can revolutionize parent involvement moving beyond basics using services such as TeleParent ( 04/01/08)
    • According to the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory study, “Students with involved parents are more likely to attend school regularly, earn higher grades, and have better social skills.”
    • Free Audience Response System
    • With Poll Everywhere everyone's voice can be heard by texting 99503 and texting in your vote just like they do on American Idol. No equipment needed or software to download within seconds educators have audience responses.
    • SMS Tweeting from Your Phone to Gain a Collective Intelligence on Topics of Importance
    • Twitter is a great tool for schools to use to share interesting and relevant information with the student body, staff, parents and family.
    • Once you're set up, you can start tweeting your way into the microblogging community. Here are some ways you may want to use Twitter. 1) If school staff are attending a conference or professional development activity they tweet reflections, favorite quotes, or reactions to what they're learning. You can read how a group of school leaders did this at Leading By Example - Transforming Education for the 21st Century ( 2) School staff can tweet interesting announcements, updates, and activities at any time into the school account. This can be fed right into a school website providing the school community, parents, and more with an ongoing stream of updates about school happenings. See how one school does this at 3) Use your class, library, or lab twitter account to share news and information with your students and teachers. For a great example of how this is done, follow Tracy Karas of Marta Valle High School in New York City at
    • Google SMS as an Educational Tool That Can Be Used Directly From Your Phone
    • Editors note: Unfortunately, even as a Technology Innovation Manager, I have been cut off from using this innovative digital tool since October after a decision was made for NYC DOE employees that ALL TEXT MESSAGING capabilities for DOE account holders will be disabled. It was a NYCDOE policy decision to disable the text messaging feature from all DOE issued devices. The rational for the disabling this service is all devices provided are for DOE business related communication and this communication must be documented. It is also the DOE position that communication thru text messaging is primarily for “personal use." Upon further investigation I learned the service could be restored if a professional case was made for using texting. I made my case more than two months ago and still have no service.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teacher in a Strange Land: Online Grading: Treat--or Trick?

Points to consider:


Artistic Insubordination: Ethics at Work (not Work Ethic)

    • The mirror in a middle school girls’ restroom is rusted to the point that one can not see her reflection.  The Principal recognizes that not being able to primp properly before class is making girls tardy to class and affecting their learning.  She asks the janitorial staff to replace the mirror.  The district has a policy that mirrors are not replaced unless they are broken.  The Principal calls the district to confirm, and promptly breaks the mirror with a hammer in order to solve this problem.
    • Creative or Artistic Insubordination emerged as a concept in the 1970s, according to Eric Pitts, a graduate student in Counseling at Western Carolina University, to do the most amount of good, while minimizing the repercussions from superiors.
    • Already presented at international conferences, with a head nod from the Executive Director of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), their goal is to legitimize Artistic Insubordination as an alternative to teachers (and others) who want to “do good” rather than just “do no harm” through their work.  Kappan Journal will publish an article on their research as well
    • Many, nearly all bureaucratic structures are perceived by the citizenry as rigid, inflexible and unaccommodating.
    • it is recognized by those in public servant leadership positions as an effective means of accomplishing things quickly that would otherwise take months or years.
    • No Child Left Behind and the attitude of some state legislatures and governors has made creative insubordination a regular part of staying afloat in teaching.

My question here is this:  are there more examples of this out there and how could teachers use this to change draconian filtering policies, for example?  Just asking.  Guerilla teaching for our students?  This isn't just about sticking it to the man, it is also about rising above groupthink and 'insane' institutional imperatives.  There have to be reasoned approaches to why we do what we do in school. If they are not reasoned, then they are fair game for ridicule, for challenge, and for artistic insubordination.

Here is the article:

Citation:     Hannel, I. (2009). Insufficient Questioning. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 65-69.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wii Therapy for Special Needs Students

    • The Wii can be used in special needs classrooms to:

      - help students with their hand/eye coordination
      - encourage students with physical disabilities to move, providing much-needed circulation to their limbs
      - enable students to take part in virtual sports such as baseball, bowling, volleyball, golf and tennis
      - aid students in gaining balance and coordination through virtual dance programs
      - increase/develop the ability to concentrate for a long period of time
      - motivate students to achieve goals
      - help with problem-solving, reasoning, and communication skills

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) ICT policy handbook -

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) ICT policy handbook -

ICTAC MEMO iPhone Apps for Education

ICTAC MEMO iPhone Apps for Education

Measuring social capital: an ... - Google Books


Monday, December 07, 2009

The Golden Triangle of Tech Applies to eLearning Solutions too!

The Golden Triangle of Tech Applies to eLearning Solutions too!: "The question I get the most these days is, "Brent, what's the next big thing you see out there in eLearning". The simple answer is, "not much". But that doesn't mean there isn't exciting innovation happening. The big innovation over the last year has not been a new technologie or app, but the convergence of some, or many existing technologies. Alone they are simply isolated fun little apps, but combined with several other apps or technologies they begin to take shape into the powerful life-changing tools they were meant to be. And that magic convergence has recently been given a name: The Golden Triangle.
I stumbled onto a blog post from A VC blog. The author could not remember who said it but I thought it was pretty cool too: 'The three current big megatrends in the web/tech sector are mobile, social, and real-time.' That's the golden triangle. Mobile, Social, and Real-time. Apparently, new startups that have a golden triangle are deemed highly likely to have a successful company/product to offer. Certainly there's more too it than that but I digress. How does The Golden Triangle apply to eLearning? One word - PERFECTLY!

MOBILE, the first of the 3 sides is obvious. Everything is going mobile. I love my iPhone more than any other technology I have ever owned. One thing I discovered early in my iPhone experience was apps that were MORE than just iPhone apps became the most used and applicable to my work and life flow. More than just an iPhone app means that it also has a desktop and/or cloud counterpart. Think banking. My accounts reside in the bank's servers (their cloud). I access my bank information from both my desktop AND my iPhone (and the physical location, but not that often). I can watch video, do email, text messaging, record video, take pictures, and on and on with one simple device that fits in my pocket. THAT, in my humble opinion is the coolest thing EVER!

The second side of the triangle, and only slightly less cool, is SOCIAL. Many "learning gurus" have stated that all learning is social and many others have argued against that statement. I think the biggest issue is the use of ALL. Anytime you say "all" you're sure to set off somebody, somewhere, who can come up with an exception or two. The reality is that our nature is to be social. Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and all social networks in general, give us the ability to find other people we want/need to connect to for any number of reasons. In these spaces we build groups, or networks, of friends/followers who share their knowledge with us. Before the internet our networks were important but it was a complicated, and long process to gather and maintain a professional network. With today's web-based social networks it's almost too easy to create connections across many channels. In the long run the knowledge resides less in your own brain and more in the collective brain of the network. Let's argue that point later, but for now it certainly seems to be moving in that direction. So, SOCIAL connectivity is important to the future of our personal learning environments.

And lastly we have the REAL-TIME completing the third side of the triangle. Twitter is the best example of real time. And yes, twitter can also be considered SOCIAL, but the piece that makes twitter and micro-blogging different is that the conversations you see are the conversations happening RIGHT NOW. Conversations that happened yesterday, or even 2 hours ago or less, will run off the bottom of the interface and not be seen unless you search, or sort by hashtag. Even then, the real use and benefit is in the real-time nature of the tools. Its the idea used by many that its like jumping into and out of a giant cocktail party and actually listening to all the conversations that are going on simultaneously. While that can be overwhelming, it can also be quite exhilerating.

So, can our learning content be created for mobile devices with a social element connecting us with subject matter experts that we can access in real time?
I think so. There's also no reason why all 3 sides of the triangle can't be tracked AND measured. The current problem seems to be the legacy systems trying to make new media work with old media systems. There is also a legacy of design that the golden triangle does not yet fit into. At least it does not fit well.

I feel like many people are already learning in a personal environment that reflects the golden triangle with the existing tools. And that's what seems to be frustrating to many. There is no control of it just yet, and so many need that sense of control. It will come in time. It won't be exactly like this. But it will be close. Perhaps it will end up being a Golden Square, or hexagon. For now, I like the simplicity of the triangle and hope we can figure out how to make it happen.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

America's Top College Professor -

    • Like Prof. West, Prof. Burger believes that empathy is the key to good teaching.
    • Prof. Burger says that he wants "to think about what it's like to be sitting in that audience, in a sea of people, when the professor is so far away he's a dot and I'm looking at overhead transparencies. What is that experience like?"
    • Prof. Burger says that the role of a teacher is to change lives.
    • As much as he finds math fascinating, he realizes that most people will not use calculus after college. The utilitarian promise "is an empty one," he notes. "You don't need to know how to build a bridge to go over one." He says that the hardest thing professors can ask themselves is "the 10-year question." "What will my students retain from my class 10 years out?" And so his lecture is devoted to showing the audience how to "think mathematically."
    • "I don't give grades; I just report the news"
    • he is only convinced a student understands a concept when he can "explain it to an 8-year-old."

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Favorite Liar | Zen Moments

  • tags: no_tag

    • What made Dr. K memorable was a gimmick he employed that began with his introduction at the beginning of his first class:

      “Now I know some of you have already heard of me, but for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar, let me explain how I teach. Between today until the class right before finals, it is my intention to work into each of my lectures … one lie. Your job, as students, among other things, is to try and catch me in the Lie of the Day.”

    • Early in the quarter, the Lie of the Day was usually obvious – immediately triggering a forest of raised hands to challenge the falsehood. Dr. K would smile, draw a line through that section of the board, and utter his trademark phrase “Very good! In fact, the opposite is true. Moving on … ”

      As the quarter progressed, the Lie of the Day became more subtle, and many ended up slipping past a majority of the students unnoticed until a particularly alert person stopped the lecture to flag the disinformation.

    • On the days when nobody caught the lie, we all sat in silence, looking at each other as Dr. K, looking quite pleased with himself, said with a sly grin: “Ah ha! Each of you has one falsehood in your lecture notes. Discuss amongst yourselves what it might be, and I will tell you next Monday. That is all.”
      • And while my knowledge of the Economics of Capital Markets has faded in time, the lessons that stayed with me were his real legacy:

        • “Experts” can be wrong, and say things that sound right – so build a habit of evaluating new information and check it against things you already accept as fact.
        • If you see something wrong, take the initiative to flag it as misinformation.
        • A sense of playfulness is the best defense against taking yourself too seriously.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My Favorite Liar | Zen Moments

    • What made Dr. K memorable was a gimmick he employed that began with his introduction at the beginning of his first class:

      “Now I know some of you have already heard of me, but for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar, let me explain how I teach. Between today until the class right before finals, it is my intention to work into each of my lectures … one lie. Your job, as students, among other things, is to try and catch me in the Lie of the Day.”

    • Early in the quarter, the Lie of the Day was usually obvious – immediately triggering a forest of raised hands to challenge the falsehood. Dr. K would smile, draw a line through that section of the board, and utter his trademark phrase “Very good! In fact, the opposite is true. Moving on … ”

      As the quarter progressed, the Lie of the Day became more subtle, and many ended up slipping past a majority of the students unnoticed until a particularly alert person stopped the lecture to flag the disinformation.

    • On the days when nobody caught the lie, we all sat in silence, looking at each other as Dr. K, looking quite pleased with himself, said with a sly grin: “Ah ha! Each of you has one falsehood in your lecture notes. Discuss amongst yourselves what it might be, and I will tell you next Monday. That is all.”
      • And while my knowledge of the Economics of Capital Markets has faded in time, the lessons that stayed with me were his real legacy:

        • “Experts” can be wrong, and say things that sound right – so build a habit of evaluating new information and check it against things you already accept as fact.
        • If you see something wrong, take the initiative to flag it as misinformation.
        • A sense of playfulness is the best defense against taking yourself too seriously.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Friend Connect: Add social features to your site


Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Image for display / worksheets: Google Apps for Eportfolios (via /

Check out this website I found at

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kentucky Writing Project Teacher in Censorship Struggle

Censorship, alive and well and thriving in Kentucky? Yes, and Risha Mullins, a teacher in Montgomery County, Kentucky can well attest to it. Sally Martin, Director of the Eastern Kentucky University Writing Project, has taken up her cause along with prominent writers like Laurie Halse Anderson whose work, Twisted, (along with Chris Crutcher's Deadline) have been removed from the classrooms. Read what Martin says:

Many of you know Risha Mullins, who was a 2008 participant in the Holocaust Education Network (HEN) Institute in NYC with Sondra Perl. She presented at the KWPN Fall conference describing the work she's done in her classroom this past year, using the holocaust to raise issues of social justice in her classroom to expand her students' thinking. Ironically, at the same time she is being heralded by the HEN for her work, she is having young adult literature books--initially one of the holocaust readings she used, then Chris Crutcher's Deadline, Laurie Halse Anderson's Twisted--removed from her classroom. Even though these books were there as books of choice, only, and the school's Review Committee approved them, the superintendent overruled their decision, on all but the holocaust novel, and held the books back. Additional actions by school officials have Risha very concerned for her job.

Risha sponsors an after-school bookclub that has numbered over 100 members who raise their own money to buy books and have travelled with Risha to the University of West Virginia for a workshop with Nikki Giovanni and to Washington, DC to tour the Holocaust Museum with a survivor and board members of the HEN. Just this weekend, Risha learned that she achieved National Board Certification. She has written her own young adult novel set in modern times in a holocaust context that is being read by Penguin, as well. She is an excellent and inspiring teacher.

At the ALAN breakfast this morning at NCTE, Laurie Halse Anderson recognized Risha in front of the 600 in attendance as the key example of the seriousness of censorship. Risha is recieving much support in this challenge from HEN and other parties outside of Kentucky, but I would like to have her home, KWPN, support her across the state, as well. According to Risha, a reporter from the Lexington Herald Leader has written a story on the heated conflict in Montgomery County which is going to be published very soon. If you will, please notify your TC's and request that they act on Risha's behalf. I suggest that we send letters to the paper in response to the story--when it is published--either by mail or on the website. Another approach would be simply to email Risha with your support.

Thank you,

Here is the link to the school board's page with email addresses that you can use to show support for Mullins.
Here is the link to the superintendent in question:  Daniel Freeman,
The county newspaper is the Mt. Sterling Advocate whose editor is Jamie Vinson-Sturgill,859-498-2222,  Here is their letter to editor submission page. 

Below you can see Mullins on the left with author Laurie Halse Anderson. Spread the word.  Use the information above and make a difference today.

Study Hacks » Blog Archive » The Steve Martin Method: A Master Comedian's Advice for Becoming Famous

  • The Steve Martin Method

    • “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

      • Forget all the frustration, the tricks, and the worry. Just focus on becoming good. Really damn good. Outstanding. Unlike anyone who has come before you.

    • Martin’s Two Pieces of Advice for Applying the Method

      • Martin Tip #1: Intellectualize.

        • This restless urge to understand then innovate led him to be outstanding.

        • Understand what the best exemplars in your field do well. Figure out why. Then ask how you can mix, match, and reconstruct these elements into something new and even better.

      • Martin Tip #2: Don’t wander.

        • staying diligent in his interest in the one field he was trying to master; being able to ignore the urge to start working on other projects at the same time.

        • if you don’t saturate your life in a single quest, you’ll dilute your focus to a point where becoming outstanding becomes out of reach.

    • If you’re looking to become a leader in your field, honestly evaluate your talent level. Don’t compare yourself to others who have had success. That’s a path toward frustration. Instead, ask yourself, candidly, whether you’re so good you can’t be ignored. If not, then get back to work.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

History Timeline of Green Self-Reliance - Timeline of Whole Earth Catalog, Victory Gardens Organic Food, Thoreau, Rodale - Popular Mechanics

Droll and informative.

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Breakthrough Nano Tech Will Boost Solar Power Efficiency : TreeHugger

"Inexpensive Nanostructure Film Keeps Photons from Bouncing Off
That's the beauty of science. You discover something new, and then you keep finding new applications for it. Chemical engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have invented a new way to deposit "nanostructure films" on a variety of surfaces. The obvious use is for eyeglasses; this could make them better and less expensive. But the holy grail here is making more efficient solar panels to reduce the cost of solar power."

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Done: Reduce Task Friction to Get to Task Completion

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” - Dale Carnegie

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

“Done” is a beautiful word.

It means you’ve achieved something, no matter how miniscule, a victory in a world filled with defeats. It is a tiny leap of joy in your heart, not only a step towards something wonderful but actually something wonderful itself.

Done means you’ve won, in a battle against procrastination and distraction and endless boring meetings and the constant requests of others, in the battle against a world conspiring to stop Done from ever happening.

Let’s make that battle easier. Let’s minimize the friction, all the forces against you, and make Done something easy.

Reduce the friction. Grease the slope towards done. Then give yourself a small nudge, and you’re off.

The Friction
What are the things that stop you from getting to done, from even starting on work sometimes? Let’s list a few of bigger culprits:

  • Being overwhelmed by having too much to do.
  • Too many distractions, such as reading on the web.
  • Procrastinating – dreading a task.
  • Not wanting to do a task because it’s boring or hard.
  • Being intimidated by a large project.
  • Tools are distracting or tough to use.
  • Fiddling with tools instead of doing.
  • Other people, making requests, calling, IMing, emailing.
  • Meetings.

Getting to Done
Given the above list of friction, how can we reduce the friction to get to done? I can’t give a solution to every single problem that every single reader faces, except in a general way:

Focus on every single friction, and find a way to reduce or eliminate it.

The more you can do this, the less friction you’ll have. And the easier it’ll be to get done.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Eliminate meetings. As much as possible. They’re toxic. Focus on actual work.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off email notifications, Twitter, the Internet in general. Turn off phones except certain hours. Only check email at predesignated times. Clear clutter. Don’t dawdle on this, though.
  • Pick simple tools. Not complicated ones, not ones that have distractions. Best tool for writing? A text editor such as TextEdit or Notepad.
  • Make a task really small. Small is not overwhelming or intimidating. It’s easy. You can get to done faster.
  • Focus on one thing at a time. Having too many things is overwhelming. What can you do right now that matters?
  • Make a project smaller. Reduce the scope. Have it doable in a few days or a week. Work on the other parts when the first part is done.
  • Set office hours. Ask people not to interrupt you except at certain times of the day.
  • Push back smaller tasks. The other things you need to do that interrupt you. Put them in a text file, and do them an hour before you finish working, so they don’t get in the way.
  • Don’t work on boring stuff. Find stuff that excites you. If you can’t, consider changing jobs.

The Art of the Small
As you might have noticed above, small is better when it comes to getting to completion. It’s easier, which is less friction. It’s less intimidating.

But more than that, small tasks and projects are victories. You can quickly get to completion and feel great about it. And that compels you to keep going.

Recently, for example, I launched my new minimalism blog, It took three days. One day to buy the domain, set up Wordpress, and find a theme to start from. Another day to tweak the theme to what I wanted and write a few posts. A third day to write more posts and announce it on Twitter and here on Zen Habits.

Three days, and I was at Done. And getting it public was a big motivator, making it exciting and making me want to work quickly and get to completion.

It doesn’t work this way with large projects. Writing a book, for example, often takes at least six months or even more than a year. Which makes it incredibly difficult, so many writers fail. Lots of large projects work this way — they’re hard to finish, hard to motivate yourself, hard to stay excited about.

A couple other examples: I’m writing a new book, called Focus, by writing it in small chunks (I call them beta versions) and making it public. Each version is a small project, but they can all be done quickly. Also, I released the theme of by tweaking the theme I was using and making it ready for release, in just one day (see below for more info). Quickly got to done, and released it to the public. It was satisfying.

Keeping tasks and projects small means they have less friction, and it’s easier to stay motivated. Keep things simple. Narrow your focus. Do less, have less features, offer less services. Small is better, because you’ll get to completion.

Bloggers: I’ve released a Wordpress theme based on my new minimalism blog, … check it out here: mnmlist theme. It’s free, uncopyrighted, and minimalist, for those who just want to blog without distractions, without anything taking away from their content.

Read more about simple productivity, focus and getting great things done in my book, The Power of Less.


Done means you won!

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Nik's Quick Shout

Some very nice tools for k-doc

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fake Rocks, Salami Commanders, and Just Enough to Start | 43 Folders

Sometimes I think Merlin Mann is a self-serving swine. Well, actually most of the time I do. Just listen to his voice. But I like this. A lot.

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

No Media Kings » How To Enjoy Research

Here’s five approaches to research that worked for me.

1. Choose a research subject that you’re fascinated in — not just something you think would make a good story subject. I’ve been interested in Detroit ever since a brief visit in ‘94, but despite it only being 4 hours away I’d never visited again. Writing a book set there was a great way to spend some focused time learning about the place. Even if I decided not to write the book it would have been time well spent.

2. Talk to people. Let everyone know what you’re researching. Talk to experts & enthusiasts alike. On the phone or in person — email interviews are just work for people. Be social, have some fun, meet some characters and see how far a conversation with a stranger can go.

3. Go places. There’s a million details that even a gorgeous photo won’t expose you to. Get a list of places of interest you’d like to visit and maybe go with one of the strangers from #2. Research as adventure! Shannon and I went to Detroit twice for a few days — she got tons of photo refs, and I got lots of story and character ideas.

4. Niche websites and blogs are good starting places. Especially when they can connect you with people and new places to go. For me it was a good starting point for cultural touchstones like scrappers, 8 Mile, political corruption.

5. Read some books in a style you enjoy. Long form non-fiction generally makes me glaze over (which allows me to daydream about the subject at hand, so admittedly still useful) so I went with some more entertainingly written books. While a bit sensational, Devil’s Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit by Zev Chafets was a compelling read and gave me some ideas about the racial dynamics that are still relevant today, 20 years after it was written.

Final thoughts: in excess, research can be a procrastination method with diminishing returns. But for someone like me, who is more on the make-it-up-as-you-go school, it’s helped bring a richness in ideas and specificity in detail to my recent work — and has been enjoyable to boot.

This is good advice for any researcher with special emphasis on number one.

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Monday, July 27, 2009

Head for iPod Educational Hills--A Beginning Collection of Places, People, and Ptools (sorry)

What I have done here is find a rich blog post, filled it out a little bit with some easier linkages, added a few links, and generally acted as an editor to summarize so that it is a little easier to follow. Sometimes bullet points are best.  What Ms. Weir has done in her original blog post is to model just how you might think out loud as you prepare for classes and prepare to use something new like iPod Touch in the classroom.  She is not afraid to do a little "woolgathering" because you will note in the comments section that this thinking out loud generated lots of good further suggestions.  (There is some discussion these days about the value of comments on weblogs, but I think this post is a good arguments for keeping them  In fact, I have added about half the post from the comment section and learned quite a bit about places to find new apps for the Touch.
So this blog post does three things:
Shows how one teacher noodles out loud about possibilities for her classes,
Shows lots of info about a particular topic--iPod Touch in the classroom,

Shows how to create a blog post from someone else's post.

Planning for the 09-10 School Year | Ms. Weir's Musings
  • have started reading a blog by Rob de Lorenzo (an Ontario educator) called “Mobile Learning” which discusses using cell phones and iPods in the classroom
  • look for apps that fit your particular units, novels, books, projects, and activities.  There are so many now.
  • the Driver’s Ed app (we do a couple short articles about driving and getting your license so this might be an engaging way to have them involved in the class work as well as prepare them for the possible issues they might encounter while driving),
  • I think the iTouches could very much have a place here in terms of allowing the students to find podcasts on these in iTunes, having them listen then synthesize what they have learned through the podcasts with what we have been discussing in class and finally have them apply it to a current event in the real world (which they could also find through using Safari on the iTouch).
  • There are so many educational applications for the iTouch. If they are 2nd Gen - with the 3.0 iPhone software ($9.95) they practically have an iPhone- so recording for the podcasts will be easy. I applaud you using these in the classroom. You might follow @iear on Twitter (or go to the website) his whole platform is using iTouch & iPhones in the classroom. I’m trying out the teacher app Educate for him. It’s a lesson planner, gradebook, attendance, moodle, and so much more! Good luck this year!!
  • The AP Mobile App is wonderful, free source of current events that you can tailor to your area or find world news.
  • The Digital Lifestyle website  and they review a lot of Apps and filter through the APP store and provide the best for several categories.
  • iTunesU is a fantastic source for content right now. I will be doing a workshop on this at the ABEL Summer Institute in August , as well you can visit
  • I’d use an app like ShoZu or Wordpress to type in a blog post on a class blog.
  • Check out
  • I am also interested in bringing iPod Touches into my classroom and have been collecting resources at under the iPod link.
  • The Writer in Me - Writing, Teaching, Living.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

4 Apps for Distributed Teams

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Twitter is not for teens, Morgan Stanley told by 15-year-old expert | Business |

    • Twitter is not for teens, Morgan Stanley told by 15-year-old expert

      • What makes a 15-year-old and his peers expert over the distributed net? Representative or maybe just not grown up enough to put a sentence together or to have a long term interest in anything. - post by tellio

    • He said teenagers were using more and more media, but they were unwilling to pay for it.
    • "Teenagers do not use Twitter," he wrote. "Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realise that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting Twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). They realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their tweets are pointless."
      • Assumptions here: 1. If it isn't free, forget about it. 2. If its not free on the cellphone or part of the package, forget it. 3. If it is not centered absolutely on one's own self, forget it. 4. If it doesn't get people to look at you or your "brand", forget it. - post by tellio

    • No teenager Robson knew reads a newspaper regularly since most "cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV". The only newspapers that are read are the cheaper tabloids and freesheets
      • Students don't read dead trees unless they are free/cheap dead trees. Students don't read anything more than they have to. They let others summarize their text for them. Students trust their sources or simply don't question the summarizing "gatekeepers" - post by tellio

    • prefer listening to advert-free music on websites such as to traditional radio.
      • Do not distract me from my free music unless of course it is some viral meme that it is amusing and interesting. - post by tellio

    • most had never bought a CD
      • With the advent of P2P and browsers that can function as servers, how can "theft" be stopped. What RIAA calls theft, users simply call 'behavior'. Get over it. - post by tellio

    • Money and time are instead devoted to cinema, concerts and video game consoles.
      • Kids spend money in larger f2f networking constructs as well as large gaming contexts. - post by tellio

    • Game consoles like Wii, which are now able to connect to the internet and offer free voice chat between users, have emerged as a more popular choice for chatting with friends than the phone.
      • Talk happens simultaneously with gaming. What this might mean is that multiple channels are being considered as the norm. - post by tellio
    • However, young people are the most advertised to, sometimes the most gullible and are being fed brand loyalty from the most early ages. This type of study by one of the institutions responsible for the banking crisis is not in the interests of anyone but the moneyed elite. How long will it take us to ask the question 'How much damage should a company do before we challenge its right to exist'?

      Or do we just welcome the summarised, 30 second attention span, individualistic, false conscious society that these businesses want?

      • In the comments to the article you always get what you were thinking yourself. This one sums up my fear: why is Morgan Stanley so interested in the networked world of teenagers? You can rely on them to be totally opaque to the answer to that question so we must guess. They want to sell them something. - post by tellio
    • "They realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their tweets are pointless"

      I'm not sure he understands how Twitter works...

      Maybe teens feel unnoticed on Twitter because they don't have anything interesting to say.

      • Twittering does require a little of the Biblical notion of throwing bread on the waters--a concept that eludes most narcissistic social networkers (aka 15 year old sons of MorganStanley bosses) - post by tellio
    • It's a boy view.

      My twelve year old daughter and many of her contemporaries are playing fantasy role playing games on PCs.

      It's a privileged boy view - my friends = all teenagers

      • Critique of commentor--he is a boy and therefore privileged by Morgan Stanley. Not sure this follows. - post by tellio

    • Maybe when they realise that kids this age have little cash and prefer free stuff the penny may drop. Viva la revolution.
      • This is a nice observation that leads to where companies should go. Drop the damned price and you will revolutionize the biz because there is pent up demand in the low price, but not free end. Charge pennies and you will make millions. - post by tellio

On balance the article points to possibilities among teenagers some of which generalizes in my experience and some not.  I think that teenagers are nowhere near as monolithic a group as is asserted by the author Robson yet...I think we do ourselves a disservice to not consider going out to this boundary and scouting around.  And I will.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
test of ubiquity

The Raw Story » Video: Insurance lobby’s secret plan to attack ‘Sicko’ and Michael Moore

When will Michael Moore get the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Posted via web from tellio's posterous

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dangerously Irrelevant: Calling all bloggers! - Leadership Day 2009

  • tags: 2009, dangerously, Leadership

      • What do effective K-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
      • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
      • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
      • Perhaps using the new National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
      • What strengths and deficiencies are present in the new NETS-A?
      • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
      • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching)?
      • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders?
      • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School

OK, Eggers is a fascinating writer, but I didn't know about this bottom-up pedagogy. Now you know, too.

Posted via web from tellio's posterous