Category Archives: nextgenteachers

Free Online Resources Wiki

Mobile Phone showing multimedia optionsMy MICCA presentation this year is all about free sources for multimedia, something I know a bit about since I use visual aides so much in the classroom to help with my lessons.  Hey, as a visual art teacher I pretty much have to, right?

Well, as I was writing down all of the sites I go to on a regular basis I had an idea.  What if I listed my favorite resources on a wiki?  Then my handouts would be online (thus saving a tree or two), and others would be able to add their own favorites to the list as well!  (I’ve had good luck with this strategy in the past as well.)

To make a long story short(er), that’s exactly what I did.  Why not browse around and add some things that I forgot?


Denied!I know, I know, that title is a horrible pun. Still, it does do a good job of summarizing this posting.

It should be no surprise to those of you who’ve been following this blog that I’ve been dabbling in ed-tech groups. I still attend the occasional DEN event,and I’m an off and on contributer to the NextGenTeachers blog. Of course there’s also Teachers 2.0, but I talk about that so much that I’ll limit my plugging of that group to things that directly relate to the subject of this rant.

Steve Dembo recently raved about, which lets you create your own social networks. In a nutshell, it’s like installing Elgg without the pain and suffering. Sounds great, right?

It would be, if it worked right.

I had been expirimenting with Elgg to see if it might be nicer than Drupal for Teachers 2.0, so almost immediately I created a test group on ning – not to replace the main site, mind you, but just to try it out to see if it was worth it.

My first impression was that it was really slick. The interface was intuitive and I had a lot of options to help me customize my group. Ok, so it wouldn’t show a preview image when I posted a video, but that was a minor detail, right?

DeniedOh, I also can’t answer any of the profile questions I created for my group. No matter what I type, when I submit them I go to an error page. That’s not so much a problem, but what about groups where you have to fill out the questions to join?

Nope, those don’t work either. I’d love to join Steve’s EduGamerz group. Love to, but Ning won’t let me, since I can’t submit answers to the questions.

I couldn’t even post to my blog on Ning, since the only thing it loaded in the text box (when it loaded anything at all) was the front page for my Teachers 2.0 Ning group. Yeah, that was odd.

The final straw was this morning. It turns out that a member of the DEN group on Ning sent me a friend request and a message. Not only can I not view either (so I can’t approve the request and I can’t reply to the message) , trying to do so will force my browser into a downward spiral that forces me to force-quit it and restart. Switching browsers gets me a little further along, but not far enough to actually do anything useful before I once again have to force-quit.

So I wouldn’t say Ning is ready for prime-time. Not when it gives me this many glitches regardless of the browser I use.

I think I’ll stick with Drupal.

[UPDATE] – Many of the bugs have been fixed.  There go all my complaints!


Just got this in the mail – it’s happy dance time.

Congratulations!  Your proposal has been accepted for the MICCA 2007 “MICCA Goes Platinum” conference.  The program committee reviewed many applications, looking for presentations that would allow all participants an opportunity to learn more about educational computing.  Your presentation met all of our criteria and we look forward to your session

I’ll post more as the conference draws near.

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 126 (fixed)

I might have a snow day tomorrow, but I don’t want one. Why? Because I enjoy what I do too much to stay home!

What do YOU do to make your classes fun?

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 125

I’m still playing with my digital video camera, but I’m including the audio for those of you who like to listen in the car.

This time around I lament that I have too many books (yeah, you heard me), and why. It’s because the nature of the media has changed, but there are a lot of things that have changed along with it.

I cost my school $2000 dollars

Tools of the Trade … well, actually a bit more than that. Today I brought my new toy into work, and just had to show it off to the media specialist. She liked what she saw, and liked the price tag (only $220!) even more.

Just then, our Principal walked in with a smile on her face. She was in a good mood.

Long story short, the Media Specialist and myself convinced our Principal to buy a digital video camera and a digital still camera for each grade level. (I also agreed to help the Principal out with her own personal digital camera provided she brings it in. Should I be worried about what I’ve gotten myself into? … nah!)

This is all really good news. (Even the helping the Principal bit – I’m looking forward to the opportunity.) One of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered with tech is finding room for it in the budget, and we have it. Now, we’ll have to move onto the next big problem.

Convincing the staff that the cameras should not only be used, but that it’s easy to use them.

I’ve a few ideas concerning what I could do, but I’d like to hear your ideas. If you had only 15 minutes to show other teachers a cool digital camcorder activity, what would you do?

Room to Read

Kids in a LibraryI’ve recently fallen in love with the podcasts that National Geographic is rolling out on a regular basis.

In one of them they’ve posted an interview with John Wood, an ex-Microsoft employee who got the idea of collecting books for impoverished schools in Nepal and Vietnam (and more countries?) after a vacation to the Himalayas.

He founded an organization called Room to Read and has started over 3,000 libraries already, saying he wants to set up more libraries than Starbucks has coffee shops.

But enough from me. Why not listen to this National Geographic episode yourself?

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 122

Today’s ‘cast is all about groups and a legitimate concern or two voiced by Bud the Teacher. (I’m cross-posting it on the Next Gen Teachers group partially to check out how well it handles podcasts.) (UPDATE: Looks like it works just fine.)
Shownote links:

His English was better than my Polish

I just spent over 2 hours chatting with a 16 year old student in Poland who found me on Skype and wanted to practice his English skills.  We talked about popular culture, politics, school, and anything else he could think up.  He had only been learning English for two years, but he was good enough to get by in most English speaking countries, I think.

The cool part is that this was a kid who decided on his own that he wanted some practice, so he found a teacher on Skype on his own time who might be able to help him.
When I was 16, if you had suggested to me that I should contact someone in a country a quarter of the way around the world in order to improve my skill at anything, I would have said you were nuts.  Now, I’m sure it’s much more common.

This is the future of education – students deciding they want knowledge, then going out and finding it for themselves.  I think of all the skills we pass on to the next generation, teaching them where to find what they want is one of the most important.

Hear ye! Hear ye!

(Taken from Dangerously Irrelevant)

All education bloggers are hereby invited and encouraged to…

  1. complete the short and completely unscientific, but hopefully interesting, education blogosphere survey;
  2. forward the URL of said survey to all other known education bloggers to ensure decent representation of the education blogosphere; and
  3. publicize said survey URL on their own blogs to foster greater participation in this most noble endeavor.

Survey results received by Sunday, January 14, shall be posted in the town square on Wednesday, January 17.

Those solicited who choose not to participate shalt be labeled both publicly and widely as dastardly scoundrels, notty-pated hedgepigs, or beslubbering, doghearted, maggot-ridden canker-blossoms!