Wikipedia Celebrates 750

With all the kicks it’s been getting lately, it’s easy to ignore the fact that Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence. Let’s work hard to help our students remember these important touchstones of U.S. history:

“At 750 years, the U.S. is by far the world’s oldest surviving democracy, and is certainly deserving of our recognition,” Wales said. “According to our database, that’s 212 years older than the Eiffel Tower, 347 years older than the earliest-known woolly-mammoth fossil, and a full 493 years older than the microwave oven.”

ICLT – Broken Bay Diocese

Today and tomorrow will be spent with my good friends in the Broken Bay Diocese. CSO - Broken BayOver the years , Paul Davis and Paul Meldrum have been good mates in supporting teachers in smart uses of Information and Communications Technologies. They have posted a Blog called Teachers Sharing with Teachers that capture the events of the ICLT Conference in Mingara, New South Wales.

Editure Thought Leaders Conference

Two days this week I worked with Editure – a new company made from several includingediture logo myinternet and CSM. Editure and its strategic partners and customers gathered for this first annual Thought Leadership Conference. I am fortunate to work with Editure as a consultant charged with developing a thriving community of users. We got lots of great feedback during sessions and explored how “Web 2.0” might stoke “Education 2.0.” Ilook forward to working together to develop a global group of leaders and users of editure software.

NECC Webcast

NECC WebcastA quick note about a Webcast I’ll participate in on Wednesday morning at NECC. Kidz Online has set up a panel with Will Richardson, Tim Wilson and myself to talk about “Web 2.0.” The realtime session is 9:30 AM Pacific time, but I’m pretty sure you can access it later.  I don’t fancy any of us will get much time to discuss things we could all chat about for hours, but I’ll be interested to see what new things Will and Tim have to share.  I hope I can advocate for quality use of blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. over simple use.  I suspect I’ll campaign for a ClassAct Portal approach to significant use of powerful technologies as I did in the Why ClassAct Portals? article.

Okay, how old are you?!

So the teen repellent sound used by shopkeepers in England has been turned to advantage. The best article I’ve found on it is from National Public Radio. Inventor Howard Stapleton, creator of the Mosquito teen repellent, says only a few people over age 30 can hear the Mosquito’s sound.

Click to hear it.

The best response I’ve heard comes from a teenager: when asked how schools might respond to an invasion of this ringtone that only students can hear: “Maybe they should hire more young teachers…” Hmmm. Truly, I think it’s a practical joke – I can’t hear a thing!

the knock on your door at midnight…

Web VigilantesThe New York Times reports on a new twist on Internet Searching in “Online Throngs Impose a Stern Morality in China.” It seems it started with a cuckholded husband: the liaison first starting at a World of Warcraft gathering. The man’s wife hooked up with a college student and began an affair. After first forgiving his wife, “the man discovered messages on his wife’s computer that confirmed to him that the liaison was continuing.” He posted a 5,000-word letter on one of the country’s most popular Internet bulletin boards and started a wave of vigilanteism that carried over from the Web to real life. The husband brought his case before the Web court whose vehement condemnations of the affair accounted for a “10 percent increase in daily traffic on Tianya, the bulletin board with the most users.” But the response flew from the Net to the neighborhood:

“We call on every company, every establishment, every office, school, hospital, shopping mall and public street to reject him,” it said. “Don’t accept him, don’t admit him, don’t identify with him until he makes a satisfying and convincing repentance.”

This event raises significant issues in a country whose history includes the retributions of the Cultural Revolution and also suppressed freedom of speech. Part of the reason I found this article important to highlight is that my take on The New WWW may suggest to some that I call for a hard right turn toward morality. My point in studying the social changes induced by technology is to simply say, “Look, it’s all going different. The old rules don’t necesarily apply. There is no more black and white and intelligent and caring people must live with their eyes and hearts open to the changes coming all around us.”

Cambodia says no thanks to 3G porn

According to an AP article posted in, “Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday banned the latest generation of mobile phone services in Cambodia to curb the dissemination of pornography.” Of course 3G provides essentially broadband speeds to mobile devices making them capable of displaying high-quality video and images in the privacy of your own pocket.

The prime minister’s wife launch the call for consideration stating in a petition the the obscene images present “gravely negative consequences for social morality” and could increase the “sexual exploitation of women and children and other vices that would cast our society as a very dark one.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed with his wife stating that while Cambodia is still unable to cope with pornography on the Internet, “how can we go for video phones?”

“Maybe we can wait for another 10 years or so until we have done enough to strengthen the morality of our society,” he said.

My point is not one of prudishness, but suggesting, like Cambodia’s PM, that we stop and think about what we really want. Really want.

Girlfriend 6.0 vs. Wife 1.0

While we’re looking at the overlap of technology and relationships, I bumped into this on a blog the other day. It seems there are lots of variations on the theme and unclear authorship, but the wit and analogies are cutting. How about this one as an example:

Wife 1.0 is a great program, but very high-maintenance. Consider buying additional software to improve the performance of Wife 1.0. I recommend Flowers 3.1 and Diamonds 2K. Do not, under any circumstances, install Secretary with Short Skirt 3.3. This is not a supported application for Wife 1.0 and is likely to cause irreversible damage to the operating system.

Internet undermining marriage

According to the article Internet undermining marriage in, “new university research shows as many as 50 per cent of people dabbling in online romances are already in relationships and many are having multiple affairs.” A poignant remark:

Spouses generally strayed online when intimacy and communication broke down in their off-line relationships.

Notice the human need for intimacy and communication, but then opting for an easy virtual replacement. Also interesting is the reference to “off-line relationships” as if they are on par with cyber flings. As technology brings “opportunity,” humanity, perhaps, needs extra exercise in “character.” I think it was Shakespeare’s Macbeth who said, “I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares more is none.” A tricky time to be alive.

Blogging in Schools & a Call for Focus

Flat Earth Roo

Some great press today about Blogging in Schools. I caught wind of it from ASCD’s Smart Brief who drew attention to an article in our very own Melbourne Age: The World Wide Classroom (April 17, 2006, The Age). The article features educator Jo McLeay points to a couple emerging directories of blog-using educators. One is a PB wiki set up by McLeay (Australian Edubloggers) and the other is a Google Maps Mashup of Education Bloggers worldwide. This comes amid great interest when I presented on ClassAct Portals recently at the ASCD annual conference and the Delaware Instructional Technology Conference.
Let’s link this excitement and buzz with some interesting points David Warlick is making recently about “The Flat Classroom.” My interest is in how teaching and learning can and will change in a Flat World, but David is looking at the learners and identifies some great traits of some digital learners:

  • Curious
  • Self Directed Learners
  • Intrinsic need to communicate
  • Intrinsic need to influence
  • Future Oriented
  • Heritage Grounded

To this mix, I’d like to contribute my perspective from having worked for ten years with educators interested in developing constructivist learning experiences through WebQuests. Reviewing the contents of the WebQuest Page’s matrix and coming up with 200 true BestWebQuests proved what most of us thought all along: lots of WebQuests “aren’t.” Well the same can be said for class Blogs. I have spent a lot of time looking and most of what I find are less than compelling uses of Weblogs. It’s like the folks who used class Web pages for posting homework and class rules. Now we get it more easily thanks to WordPress. That’s not really fair, what we tend to get are really excellent and insightful reflections from some really terrific educators. The trick is that this is the kind of use we’d love the students to engage in. So what I’ve seen is two extremes and I’d like to make a Call for Action for a different approach. First, as mentioned, many terrific educators use a blog to process, highlight and frame the learning a class of students get into. A second approach sees a class of students each with their own blogs. These latter strike me mostly as bowdlerized versions of myspaces pages (just as fluffy, but not as spicy).

Neither of these approaches impress me as sustainable or terribly interesting from a student-centered learning perspective. Now a certainly have an axe to grind here, because I think the better approach is to have groups of students create ClassAct Portals: Weblogs that:

  • Focus on one compelling topic
  • Is of passionate interest to the teacher (and thus the students 😉
  • Ticks along in the background of the class drawing attention when something in the real world provokes it
  • Is a natural use for things like blogs, podcasts, photo galleries, data collection and wikis.

The kernal for this idea comes from sites like the Child Slave Labor News.

C’mon all you great blogging educators, prove me wrong and show your site to the world.

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