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Archive for May, 2007

Google Certified Baby!!

Google Teacher Academy was an extraordinary experience that marks a turning point for me -one that has been coming for a long time. I have been a technology evangelist almost since my entry into the world of ed-tech, but somehow, the Google experience has knocked me off my feet to another level altogether. I think it was a combination of the expectations I had, the people, the energy, the massive amount of front-loaded information, the food (LOL). 

The experience started the night before (Wed) when I met Jennifer Wagner aka Technospud, at my husband’s office in Costa Mesa. She left her car and we drove north to Marina Del Rey, where Jen had secured a hotel room for two nights. Jen kindly offered to share the room, which was very generous of her, and it sure made the experience easier and more fun.

The whole day was a whirlwind of learning and activity, beginning with an official escort to the day’s homebase, where we set our stuff down and were served fruit, coffee, bagels and sweet rolls. One thing I will say for sure about Google is that they go to great lengths to keep their employees comfortable, well fed, and happy.

I learned so much from so many that I can’t begin to write it all now, but I will write about all of it here and elsewhere in the weeks and months to come. Another brilliant thing the Google academy does, is require its participants to do PD using the information learned, and to have a personal PD plan for the future.

Maybe the most relevant thing about this is experience was the realization that there is so much more that I need to be doing to change the world. -Yes, I said change the world. Isn’t that what all educators want? 

Whatever made me think that learning, and realizing the truth of the tech-ed situation in my school and district, and working hard to affect some positive change, would make one whit of difference? I don’t know, but I still believe, and so I will go down fighting the good fight, and if I’m good enough, and smart enough, and lucky enough, I will make a difference for some of the children I teach. 

I fully expect that I will not only utilize the wonderful tools I learned about, but more importantly, that I will help foster new growth and relationships within the GCT community as well. The GCTs are a remarkable group of educators to say the least! AND, I was able to meet two SL friends for real! Macsmom Alcott -Jennifer Wagner, and Apophone Singh –Hall Davidson from the C.A.V.E. and Discovery Education.

If my continuing ed-tech journey is populated by such awesome people, and learning experiences, I will be a very happy camper indeed!

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The Skin I’m In….

 me_005.jpg   w-ocean-cropped.jpg

….is new. I know, the “old” one was fine -at least according to KJ, but for some reason, I never thought it really fit. Vic and I went shopping yesterday, initially just to see what was new and “must have,” then I decided that I needed a new Skin L$ 5000+ or not. I am told, that I no longer look 19 years old -a good thing considering my RL age. But now my Av doesn’t look a day over (or under) 30. Works for me! The real question here, is why do I care how Clare’s “skin” looks, or how tall she is, or how large her breasts? Well, this has been discussed before, and I’m sure it will be again. This is one of the most intriguing aspects about the nature of SL, why do we present ourselves as we do?

By my second week in-world, I noticed something funny -something missing -Avs of color -for lack of a better term. In fact, I had not seen a single one! I remember thinking what a great sociology experiment could be created as a result. I have subsequently seen a few -but not more that that. Evidently, Abdi  felt the same way and so created a very interesting persona for himself. abdi.jpg

For the most part, the educators I have gotten to know and work with, have crafted their Avs to more-or-less resemble themselves -albeit an idealized version. I’m sure that Clare weighs 50lbs. or so less than I do! Some people have taken little or no interest in how their Av looks, but spend countless hours duplicating or creating their homes and the furnishings for them, as well as educational databases, and other advanced uses for SL. Kathy Dryburgh is one such individual. Kathy has re-created the geodesic dome in which she lives in RL, Remarkable! I am in awe of her drive to learn all things SL, and the speed at which she’s done it. Hodjazz Edman is another, with one notable exception -he’s BLUE! My favorite color! I’ve never asked him his reasons, but really should, as I believe it plays into my theory of why people create Avs with one particular look or another.

Any thoughts on this? I can think of multiple ways in which this might be utilized to teach literature -in fact the book, The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, from which the title comes, is one such book a student recently recommended to me. Also, maybe some of you will recall an experiment done with a class where students with a particular eye color were given preferential treatment for a week- without any explanation other than that their eye color was different -a very powerful lesson I used with Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor. I am sure there are many other possible literature connections as well. What do you think?

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Pas de Trois? Double pas de Deux? Quel Deux?

     deux.jpg                pas-de-deux-un.jpg   

        state-of-affairs.jpg       w-ocean-cropped.jpg             meeting-in-the-sky.jpg 

           Before the show              nmc-buzz1_011.jpg           

 me-and-vic-hammock.jpg               me-and-vic.jpg

          

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The Church of Second Life….

 Vic and Will @ Hodjazz’ House          wills-too.jpgwills.jpg

…or cult as some people would have you believe, is one of several pejorative comments that I am sick and tired of hearing!  “SL is nothing but cartoon characters social networking”! And, if last night is any indication, then the “Church of Second Life” and the “cartoon character” comments will be on peoples tongues for a long time! Victoria has already blogged about this, so I won’t rehash what she’s said, but I will give you my take on the situation.  I went in-world yesterday with the intention of getting some research done to help friend and colleague KJ Hax, but oh what a night it turned out to be. The ISTE ET workspace that Hodjazz and Kathy have put together looked more like ISTE HQ on EduIsland on a Sunday night! It started out innocently enough, I met Hodjazz for a tour and some feedback on the ET blog space, at the same time I was Skyping with Victoria about personal things we both wanted to share. Then, Blogsar came in and as for the rest of the evening…. well let’s just say that there was a certain amount of dissention among the troops! I started to share with Vic some of the convo between Hodjazz and Blogsar; I suppose if anything *bad* comes as a result of the convo, it puts the responsibility squarely in my lap 😦 Victoria has had previous disagreements with Blogsar regarding SL, but when she joined us last night, the rest of us sort of stood there not saying much. Since I did a lengthy response on Vic’s blog (between the time I started this and now), I am going to copy that here. I don’t think I can put it any more succinctly than I already did there.

Hodjazz and KJ have both brought further insight into this conversation, and that is good. I would feel bad to think that Will went away thinking that he couldn’t have an opinion or an open conversation with any of us, or that he has been judged or misjudged for same. We need Will, and Gary (Steger), and everyone else who is willing and able to explore SL‘s educational implications -whatever their opinions happen to be. Victoria also makes a very valid argument for the responsibility that is owed by someone many look up to and admire for their knowledge and insights into educational technology.
 

I tried to make an analogy last night, but it was lost in the furious typing that was going on between Will and Vic. The people in that room last night range in age from 36 to fifty-something; I bring this up because the analogy is a musical one and based on the time frame they represent. I would venture a guess that all of us did or do listen to good old rock-n-roll music at some point. Now, think back to when your favorite groups were doing their thing, and you couldn’t believe how AWESOME and INSIGHTFUL and RIGHT-ON it was. Think, Pink Floyd, The Who, Emerson Lake and Palmer… (Ok I’m dating myself here) I could go on and on, but the point is, in recent years the musical offerings from these people and the others of their ilk who are still writing and performing, have become stale. There seems to be nothing new coming from the *genius* that they exhibited in earlier times. A recent quote from Bob Dylan sums it up, “I don’t know anybody who’s made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really…”  hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? I am not inferring that Will is a “washed out” rock star, only that sometimes when you have been doing something for a long time, and are considered an expert in your field, it is easy to rely on what is comfortable and well known. It is that way for all of us to one degree or another. What we must remember here is that the best learning cannot take place unless the learners are pushed to the level of discomfort. I think we are all in the “Zone of Proximal Development” (Vygotsky) in SL. And it is never easy to shed the beliefs and behaviors that have served us so well in the past. We are not all at the same level of practice or understanding of educational technology, and we ALL must be willing to continue to learn and grow to whatever comes next. Take it from an “Old dog” we can learn new tricks -and enjoy doing it!

I pray that we all may continue to learn and grow and help each other as educators do; and that if we disagree with each other’s opinions that we are able to do so with grace and kindness.

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Bruised and Battered in a Virtual World

Victoria, KJ, and I have all talked about the way that SL can intrude and weave its way into our RL’s (see Vic’s archived post of April 5th), but I think this story needs to be added as “fodder” for our continued musings. In my opinion, these are examples of how we have fallen into SL like junkies into a vat of (insert name of illegal substance here)! 

 I was Skyping with Vic today, while she was in-world and I was out, and suddenly a loud “OUCH! I bumped my head……in Second Life!” This conversation followed on the heels of some humorous emails I had yesterday that I would like to share (with permission of course)!

 I e-mailed Meg Writer (Meg Ormiston in RL) yesterday to inquire about professional development for my district, and during the course of our communications, and because I began, “Hi Meg, Clare Lane here (SL)” she passed on this story and was compelled to begin with: “I have to post this somewhere!”

I was on SL late the other night and I finally stopped rearranging furniture and shut the computer down, I grabbed the leash of the puppy in training and did not see the son’s 25 pound backpack on the floor. So I go  through the air and land on the edge of the coffee table, puppy licks me. No one in the house wakes up, how I do not know! I knew there would be a bruise, but I have never seen one so deep, dark and so multicolored. I had to stand up all day yesterday, the back of my leg kills me every time I move! Even when I fall off the weather balloon in SL I am ok, see another reason SL is better than RL, no bruises!

Add to the story that I could not wear my RL jeans yesterday because the bruise was so swollen, down a little today, but still warm to the touch. I could drive a car today, walking still a challenge! But darn it, in SL I look great!

When I was “born” I was privey to a conversation in which one AV was talking about a SL relationship that had ended, and pouring her heart out in pain; I was astonished! It took me awhile to understand that there can be “drama” and personal pain and sorrow in SL relationships, that feel no less real for their occurance in a virtual world.

So now, must I also accept the fact that SL can cause bruises in RL???? No, I don’t think so, but how many of you have inadvertantly bumped into someone in world and said “Excuse me”? Come on, be honest!! We’ve all done it! Now, take a look at this study video courtesy of Andy Carvin, on the ways that our RL  conventions follow us into SL.  http://tinyurl.com/385edh

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Google Teacher Academy!! Me??

   NMC Sign                NMC Buzz Presentation     

OMG!!! I realize I haven’t written in a few days, busy with grades for school and getting ready for the NMC Buzz session KJ gave last night (I assisted along with Victoria) but I am so excited I can’t stand it, I’ve been accepted to the GTA!! Notifications were sent out yesterday, and I didn’t hear, and didn’t hear… so I checked my bulk folder today and there it was. Good heavens!

 KJ has told me the GTA in New York that he went to in February was the best professional development he’s ever attended. I will also be able to meet fellow SLer Macsmom Alcott (RL Jennifer Wagner of Technospud fame) face to face. I have no idea if SL will be discussed at all, but I’m betting that it may well be. Also, Kj and I both think that my application video which included SL pics, may have been why I was admitted. All this and NECC too??!!!

Maybe my luck will hold up and I’ll win the lottery!                   

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