The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hand Truck

Today I take on school reform over at the Techlearning blog. Here's my primary school improvement tool:

Find out more here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cha Cha

From Steve Dembo comes word of a new search engine called Cha Cha. What makes this interesting and different is that you can access human help to help you with your search. This is done through a chat interface. Read Steve's original post for a comprehensive description of the site.

So, I decided to try it.

To begin, I clicked on Search with a Guide. Within about two seconds, Robert replied, inquiring about my request on digital storytelling. I replied that I was in educational technology and just checking out the site to see how it might work for our kids.

While I was responding links on digital storytelling started populating my search, added by Robert.

Robert indicated that they won't search adult topics and specifically asked me to narrow my search.

I did ask him about his background and he complied, telling me about his background (in technology) and mentioning that his wife was also a guide.

Robert answered my questions about the service which I appreciated. He also continued to search for my request on examples of digital stories in K-12 education.

Interested schools can evidently request a toolbar to install in their browsers so that kids can use ChaCha to search on their own or with the assistance of a guide.

I did ask Robert if kids were already using this, and he said of course. By the way, Cha Cha is still in beta.

OK, with Cha Cha kids can have their own personal research assistant, available through the chat. I can just see the reactions. But it's like anything, kids will use it once they discover it. The question now becomes how soon will Cha Cha be blocked in schools because of the chat, and will Cha Cha go the way of many new technology tools-used by kids outside of schools but blocked in the schools they attend?

And what about librarians? You can just imagine how they will react. I'd like to be around the first time a kid is using a Cha Cha guide and not a librarian to help with a search. Fireworks.

Overall, I liked the service. Robert was professional and genuinely seemed anxious and willing to help. I think this could help kids when they are on their own and need some help-obviously the chat is a natural for them. They certainly are not learning how to search at school, so in the times when they need the help, perhaps Cha Cha can fill that need.

Please give it a try for yourself.

I'm now a member of the Club!

Unfortunately, not a very exclusive club....

My recent post at, MySchool 2.0 drew the Ire of Tom, as well as apparent Hoffman-wannabe Peter Rock. Neither appreciated my description of School 2.o, with Hoffman commenting:
"I can't read this ed-tech crap any more. It is insipid."
Rock offers this piece of enlightenment
"Just read the last paragraph. That is, if you're a masocheducator who enjoys a good stomach churn."

To be honest, I really didn't like the post that much either. But I like it now, as now it seems that it will have some lasting benefit.

You see, Hoffman has decided that's it. He says: "I can't do this any more. " Hoffman has now reduced his ed-tech reading to "principals, a couple graybeards, and people actively involved in open source. " So, if you've been the object of his caustic and sometimes malicious comments, worry no more.

Some will argue that when voices are silenced in the blogosphere, the conversation is weakened.

I'm not one of those people. Just call it addition by subtraction....

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Perfect Storm

My thanks to whoever produced this. GO BEARS!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Not Me, Not Now

Perhaps you're reading about School 2.0, thinking about connectivism, reworking your school district, or processing the daily infoglut in your aggregator.

Not me. Not this weekend.

Why? Because I live in Chicago, Illinois, USA, home of da BEARS!

In less than 48 hours, the Bears will dispatch Peyton Manning and the Colts to the wasteland known as Central Indiana until next August.

The Bears weren't supposed to beat the Seahawks (pay up Jeff Utecht!) and they weren't supposed to beat America's team, the lowly New Orleans Saints. We now know how wrong this thinking was, my friend....

daBears 48, Colts 2

The parade in Chicago is on Tuesday.

Now if we could only bulldoze Wrigley and ship the Cubs out of the way, for those of you not from Chicago, Sunday will be the only day of the year when Sox (last won a World Series in 2005) and Cub (last won a World Series in 1907, only 4 years after the Wright Brothers flew for 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk) fans agree on anything. Seriously.

For a little viewing pleasure, check out the Superfans.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cell Phone Survey Says....

One of our health teachers just the other day did a tech survey with his new kids (health is a semester course and we are just starting second semester) and asked them what they could use cell phones for in his class. Here are their responses:
-take notes
-record lectures
-use the calculator
-take photos
-access the Web
More survey information: 50 kids taking the survey, 45 had cell phones, 30 of those had photo capability.
It won't be long before some of our teachers will be having kids use their cell phones to podcast using Evoca, which enables users to call in a voice recording and post it to the Web. We also have a fairly big digital storytelling program that I envision taking steps towards creating DST movies specifically with cell phone imagery.
However, they'll probably have to do these things outside of school...we ban cell phones during the day.
A telling quote from the discussion board of the same teacher's class from a student who gets it:

"Everyone always says that we are the future, well why keep future technology from the people who will be in the future."