Archive for July, 2009

Blogging on a bus 2

Posted in Educational, Mobile Learning on July 23, 2009 by Mister A

I recently purchased a wireless card from Verizon and let me tell you, it has totally increased my ability to learn on an anytime, anywhere basis.  I spent several hours on a bus to and from a workshop called Moodlebootcamp at a place called Pack Forest near Eatonville, WA.  It is the most productive traveling I have ever done.  On the way there, I wrote two blog posts, re-connected with numerous twitter and plurk friends, tweeked several Moodle Tasks I have been working on in a course I am creating, and I even played a little World of Warcraft.  On the way home I continued customizing Moodle tasks and started planning a workshop I hope to conduct in the fall.

Blue Acer

Blue Acer

I am writing this blog post an Acer Aspire One Netbook that costs less than $300.00usd.  I believe similar machines will soon cost under $200.00usd.  My wireless card is a little pricey, but I would gladly pay the amount I am paying to get productive things done at times when in the past, productivity was impossible.  I beginning to truly love my time writing in and posting to my blog anytime I want…even as I move across three states coming to and from a workshop.  Learning anytime, anywhere, anything will only become increasingly possible as we continue moving through this century.  The ability to learn in a mobile way will only become more efficient and inexpensive over the next few years for our students.

Are we ready to let our kids take advantage of these increasingly inexpensive technologies by allowing them to utilize mobile devices in and out of our classrooms for learning, sharing, and collaboration purposes?  According to many of the teachers I know, we are not.  Mobile devices and the communication they produce are nothing more than a distraction to the learning process is what many teachers I know profess.  Perhaps we should be teaching them HOW to utilize those devices as learning tools instead of forbidding students from having them anywhere near our classrooms.

Twittering from #Moodlebootcamp

Posted in classroom tools, Educational, PLN on July 21, 2009 by Mister A

Currently I am sitting on the porch of my cabin at Moodle Boot Camp near Eatonville, WA writing a blog post.  This truly is a beautiful area.  I was lucky to be able to come here for a learning opportunity regarding Moodle, the learning management system that we will begin to incorporate in the fall for Great Falls Public Schools.

This is where I wrote this blogpost

This is where I wrote this blogpost

I learned a few new things yesterday, but the one I would like to discuss is the  utilization of twitter at a fishbowl session we had as an end to our first day of #Moodlebootcamp.  I was using my cell phone (getting a few dirty looks) during the session to take notes using hashmarks and @replies as a method of organizing.  A hashmark in twitter is simply placing a pound sign “#”, before a set of text regarding the topic, which is what I have been doing with the phrase “#moodlebootcamp” each time I send a tweet with respect to my experience here.  What the hashmark allows me to do, is organize all the tweets that contain that phrase in one place on a page on the web.  My notes have been shared with anyone who wants to look at them or even add to them if they choose to tweet including the phrase #moodlebootcamp. Backchanneling is powerful learning tool and twitter allows me to have a backchannel whenever I want.  I knew the twitter names of a couple of the fishbowl participants so I was able to utilize those as well…I hope @orwinr and @jeffrobodine didn’t mind.  For myself, I managed to widen the conversation and pull in some information from my tremendous PLN (Personal Learning Network). I can now access my experience at moodlebootcamp using a hashmark on a word in a tweet.

Imagine taking notes in class, sharing them with everyone, and having people you respect and who respect you adding their comments to your notes.  I can do that with twitter.

Tracker Bots, a Bus, and My Wireless Card

Posted in Humor on July 19, 2009 by Mister A

Warning…If you understand anything I say in this blog post…You are a GEEK!!!

Okay…here’s what I did on my Bus trip from Great Falls, MT to Eatonville, WA.  I recently purchased a wireless card so I would have increased access to the interwebs.  I noticed that I was retweeted by someone named Missoula Tracker and someone else named Spokane Tracker whenever I mentioned either of their first names on Tweets I was posting to Twitter.  I wondered if they were real people so I retweeted their retweets and and asked if they were real and they ended up retweeting my retweets of their retweets.  At this point, I was fairly certain they are twitterbots.

The idea popped into my head that if there were two people named Missoula and Spokane Tracker…They most certainly must have a family tree so I decided to create a twitter account with the username Trackertracker and follow all the tracker bots I could find and then retweet there retweets until the resulting retweets exceeded the 140 character twitter limit.  Tracker Tracker tweeted that he was “the Father of All Tracker bots” with the words Missoula, Redsox and Spokane attached at the end hoping for more retweets.  I hope I have not angered any Missoulians, Redsox or Spokanians who follow their cities’ two trackers…but man, did that was the fastest of many road trips I have taken between Great Falls and Seattle.

I am hoping that creating a twitter account to follow tracker bots does, in no way, qualify as spamming under Twitter’s terms of service…Even though if something is to get spam…a non-human, robot, spamming machine would be my first choice to be that spam’s receiver.

Blogging on a Bus

Posted in Educational on July 19, 2009 by Mister A
Davey and me sharing lunch

Davey and me sharing lunch

I am on the bus traveling to Moodle Bootcamp in Eatonville Washington. Since my stupid new wireless card won’t allow me to play WoW…I thought it might be a great opportunity to write a blog post. I attended a Great Falls blogger luncheon and party yesterday and I met some pretty nice people. I have looked at a couple of the blogs but political blogging is not really my thing. I am not much of a debater and I am not as certain of myself as some of the others who attended the luncheon. One topic that came up regarding reasons we blog. I blog for a variety of reasons and I hope none of my motives are hidden, but I believe the main reason I blog is because it makes me a better learner. Blogging requires that I think through various aspects of a different issues in a thoughtful and reflective way. It also provides me with an audience (albeit much smaller than the bloggers I met yesterday) who really care about what I have to say and in many cases sometimes even give me serious feedback.

da bus

The Bus to Moodlebootcamp...teh qantas of buses

When I blog, I usually am not trying to convince people of anything…(or am I?). A couple of the people thought that was what blogging was all about…convincing people of something. I would like to think that sharing how I utilize and integrate technology in my classroom is as important as anything I do on my blog. My motives for blogging are always changing, I am sure at times I have blogged for poor reasons…but usually when I have blogged for attention, vanity, or convincing someone they are wrong…that is when I have learned the most about myself. My hope is that I can share how blogging has helped me learn with my students and about developing what one of the bloggers talked about yesterday…COMMUNITY. When he talked about community I believe he was talking about the same thing I talk about when i discuss my Personal Learning Network. This little machine on my lap allows me to communicate, collaborate, and have friendships/relationships with people who 10 even 5 years ago…It would not have been possible for me to do. I am a bit introverted but all these networking tools have helped me overcome some of those weaknesses…perhaps even someday, help me turn them into strengths.

Mt_Ranier_From_Tacoma_01

I wanna ride my bike up to the base of this

On a personal note, they let me stick my bike on the bus…hopefully I will be able to ride my bicycle up to the foot of Mt. Ranier.  I love riding my bike up mountains…its probably one of my favorite things to do…and dang it…they just changed the plans to come home early…I don’t know if I get to ride my bike up MT Rainier now…Guess I will find out when I get there…:)

NECC09 – My Experience

Posted in Educational, PLN on July 14, 2009 by Mister A

I recently went to Washington D. C. to attend the International Society for Techonology in Education’s big annual conference call NECC09. I was lucky because my friend Dean had an extra bed in D. C.’s Chinatown and my wife had lots of points on her credit card so I could get a free plane ticket.  My employer is even going to pay for meals and luggage fees (LUGGAGE FEES???Delta sucks).  I had never been to our nation’s capitol so the trip was a total blast.  I even made an animoto and embedded it below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “animoto – My experience at NECC09“, posted with vodpod

Three of my friends, Bron Stuckey, Dean Groom, and Fil Santiago were crazy enough to attend a baseball game with me in Baltimore, forty miles to the North.  I don’t think we would have made it were it not for Fil Santiago’s train catching ability.  It started out to be what seemed like was going to be a very sucky trip.  I had never been on a subway and now I understand what it means to be packed in like sardines.  Our train ride was during the rush hour and we were very uncertain about how we would make the return trip to D. C.  We made it to the game about three innings in and the Red Sox were whooping arse.  It was 10 – 1 in the seventh inning when the rain started.  We had to wait about an hour for the rain to stop…luckily…We did not leave as many very unlucky Baltimore fans did!

Dean, Jeff, Bron, and Fil at Camden Field

Dean, Jeff, Bron, and Fil at Camden Field

The Orioles commenced to put a shellacking on the Red Sox in the final three innings making the largest comeback in their franchises history.  We had to catch a cab back to Washington D. C. which only cost about 20 dollars for each of us.  I sat in the front with a Nigerian driver named Sandy.  I enjoyed our conversation as I think my three friends enjoyed theirs in the back seat.  A New Yorker and Two Australians conversing and laughing from the back seat is what I heard as I discussed what brought a Nigerian all the way to Baltimore with the cab driver.  I think the two Aussies really enjoyed what was their first Major League Baseball game.  We finished the evening joking and laughing over a few drinks and a snack back in Washington D. C.  My friends made what could have been a complete disaster into a very memorable event for me…So thanks to Fil, Bron, and Dean…oh yeah…and Sandy.

On a personal note, I published my first six word memoir at Smith’s Magazine.  That sounds pretty important unless you considered anyone and their dog can publish a six word memoir there.  You can see my six word memoir below…My son is relieving himself after a long hike up to a glacier…My six words…”No toilets glacier will naturally flush”.

No toilets glacier will naturally flush

No toilets glacier will naturally flush

PING.fm, Plurk, and My PLN

Posted in Educational, PLN on July 12, 2009 by Mister A

Picture 3I have been using an application called Ping.fm for about a year but just began to realize some great ways to utilize it a little more effectively to improve communication with my PLN.  Last summer I became very involved with a microblogging tool called Plurk.  I developed what I consider a fine network of teachers in that application but it seemed to be competing with my twitter network.  When school started last fall, I quit plurking as often and relied more on my twitter network to communicate with my PLN.  Plurk is like twitter but runs a little differently in that each conversation has its own box so you don’t have to sift through several conversations to understand what is being said.  I believe the Picture 4same thing can be done with tweetdeck but then I would be missing out on the tremendous information possessed by the teachers I have come to know on Plurk.

I found ping last fall but only recently realized that I could utilize my phone to send a message to a variety of different networking applications including among others: Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Posterous, WordPress, Tumblr, and Flickr.  I love to be able to document the things I am doing and share them with people.  I am still uncertain about how many of these applications are going to make me a better teacher (anyone have any suggestions…please comment), but I think twenty-first century learning skills are mostly about communication…and Ping.fm allows me to communicate with pictures, video, images, and words across whichever of my networks I choose.  I have begun using these tools to communicate with students, parents, and other teachers in my practice and I believe they will use similar tools to communicate with me…hopefully…fingers crossed.  They are already using web2.0 tools in their personal lives…Why not in school too?

Picture 5On a personal note, I believe I am reaching a milestone as a parent.  One of my two children is starting middle school in the Fall.  I am thankful for my experience in dealing with 12 – 15 year olds but sometimes trying to understand their thought process can be a bit difficult.  I recently began reading a book called “Yes, Your Teen is Crazy”.  The author, Dr. Mike Bradley, recommends viewing your teen as an infant when having conversations with him.  It may improve your patience.  I have tried that with some success…and also…giving him a kiss on his cheek whenever possible seems to work.

Edin gettin a kiss on the cheek by Dad

Edin gettin a kiss on the cheek by Dad

A letter to delta/nwa

Posted in Educational, Humor, Personal, Vacation on July 2, 2009 by Mister A

I sent the following note to the delta web site to get some answers to questions that no person I have talked with who works for delta seems to be able to answer…

Dear Sir or Madam,

I missed a connection from Minneapolis, MN to Great Falls, MT.  My flight #nw1823 was late from Washington DC.  I ran across the airport to make the connection.  I ran up to the gate at exactly 9:45pm which was that flight’s scheduled departure time and the plane was just pulling away from the door.

Isn’t there a way for the customer service representatives to let someone know that there is a guy coming to make a connection, possibly a quick phone call from one gate to the other. Also, I am not sure why you did not pay for my hotel room because the weather in Washington seemed fine.  Are there other reasons that you do pay for people’s hotel rooms?  If so, what are they?  And finally,why don’t you have staff meetings?  Your customer service representatives are having a hard time with the things you are making them do  they feel like their opinions have no impact on day to day operations, whatsoever, every one of them I asked anyway.

Sincerely,

Henny Zimer