Reflections on Instructional Technology and Media

Coopetition December 11, 2008

I was in a meeting today where the term “coopetition” was used and immediately started thinking about all the ways coopetition makes sense within a 21st century educational environment.

What is coopetition?

The term is a mash-up of cooperation and competition and it seems to really capture the spirit of working and learning in a global economy.  In the age of web 2.0 and open source apps, we are hearing consistently about the power of collaboration and cooperation. What we create together is stronger than what I may be able to create alone.  Yet at the same time the nature of capitalism is competition. How do we prepare our students for this dichotomous world?

Coopetition has taken hold in the gaming world – especially where you are gaming online with others around the world. In order for you to experience personal success, you have to cooperate with others to make sure your team succeeds.  Talking with a middle school principal about this today she says that middle schools have been operating under this premise for years, they just did not have this particular term for it.

In some ways, my work in the e-learning environment is a form of coopetition as well. As a state virtual school, we are dependent on the cooperation of the face to face schools in our state. We need them to be successful. In order to be competitive with other state virtual entities and other software and content providers, we have make sure that our team approach with face to face schools is a success.

This term just really sums it up well – as any good vocabulary will do. Thanks for expanding my personal dictionary.


Live Lurking July 1, 2008

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So we all know about online lurkers. You know, those people in a chat room, on twitter, on in the blogosphere who are happy to be reading and watching, but do not make themselves visible to those having the conversation. Sometimes it is really beneficial to be a lurker. I confess to have behaved this way when I am new to a scene and am trying to learn the ropes so that I don’t make any online faux pas. Eventually I come out of the wood work and make my presence known and hopefully sometimes I make a positive contribution to the conversation.

I have been to NECC many times and have seen some of the same presenters work their magic over and over again, always coming away learning something new. But over the past year I have gone from being an online lurker to an online writer and conversant. Many of these ed tech writers/presenters I have admired over the years are now colleagues and friends of mine online, but we have never met face to face. And now I am spotting them from across the room at NECC and have realized that it is possible to be a live lurker. I can listen to these people from the audience and because every session has been packed so far, if I don’t make an effort to go up to them and introduce myself, I can slip out of the room with them never knowing I was there.

And this thought creeps me out. So, today I have been making an effort to at least go up to these leaders and say hello and let them know that I have enjoyed reading them over the years. I hope that others would do the same for me. I know I would be thrilled to find out someone reads this blog.

I saw the greatest Tshirt on the RiverWalk last night. The front read, “More people are reading this shirt than my blog.” It then had a counter at the bottom that read 00002. The back of the shirt said 😦

I want that shirt.


NECC 2008 Day 1 June 30, 2008

Getting ready for the Monday morning session. Sitting in to watch Vicki Davis, AKA Cool Cat Teacher, talk to us about her use of wikis in the classroom. Had a great dinner last night on the River Walk here in San Antonio and then went to the opening reception where I collected an obscene number of ribbons to attach to my badge. Still sad I never found the ones that said “Rock Star” on them.

I am experimenting with Twitter as a communication tool with the group of educators from my school district who came with me. I set up a new account, had them all follow it and set it to send the messages to their mobile phones. This way I can send a tweet to the new account and it will automatically go out to everyone in our group. However, I have already learned this morning that not everyone is receiving the  tweets properly, so I may have to go back to sending good old fashioned text messages to each of them – might cost me an extra 30 seconds 🙂

It is still half an hour before Vicki’s session is supposed to begin and already the room is full. We are in the Open Source lab and most of the laptops they planned to make available to us are dead in the water because the rest of the power supplies did not arrive in time. Good news is that it looks like most participants brought their own laptops with them so it really is not a big issue. I left my laptop in the hotel room – really did not want to lug it around today  – but since I arrived at this session super early, I got one of the provided laptops that does have a power supply!

Getting started with the wikipreso!  They are trying to find someone who can UStream.

They have a backchannel chat room set up for this session using Chatzy. Love this idea – give the class a vehicle for side comments that is not disruptive to the session. Someone is monitoring the chat and will use the topics of discussion from the chat to answer questions in the latter part of the session. Wow – finding it hard to keep up with the chat and the presenter at the same time.

There is a wiki for the session (surprise)!  Wikispaces is co-presenting this.

Yay – CCT (Cool Cat Teacher AKA Vicki) is now showing her classroom wiki. Uploads docs for students to download. Lists projects and blog posting assignments. Cool – you can embed video directly in wikispaces – no need to upload to Teacher Tube first 🙂 CCT has her students create eFolios in Wikispaces – she creates the template for them to use. Students tag assignments with “turnin” when they are done. CCT then has those sent via RSS to her aggregator and automatically knows when there are assignments she needs to grade. Plans to aggregate to Ning as well.

Cool idea – CCT has her students set up a PLN (personal learning network) page for each project they do within NetVibes.  Thinking about how my district might use this for the NC Graduation Project!  CCT notes that her students  – who are in Rural Georgia have already had their world view changed in significant ways by collaborating with other students using wikis in the Flat Classroom project.

New term for me “techno-personal problems.”  CCT is referring to the ways students get into trouble online – i.e. changing the assignment date on the wiki. She and her administrators are proactive on how to address these issue – and guess what – they do not respond by taking away the technology – they use typically student management techniques such as detentions. Her advice is that every time you use a new technology in the classroom, expect trouble from a student within 1-3 days. Teachers need to be vigilant and watch the techno activity and deal with trouble swiftly.

CCT teaches her students that Blogs are for opinion and Wikis is for facts/assignments.

Very cool – wikispaces will grab RSS and embed directly into the wiki page. An example is grabbing tagged bookmarks from and placing them on the wiki page.

Fun session and well done!


Edible sites? April 18, 2008

In celebration of National Library Week, one of our high schools hosted a contest for teachers to create “edible books.” The idea was to create some edible representation of a book. My favorite was the cupcake Grovers for “There’s a Monster at the End of This Book” for two reasons: first the cupcakes were too cute (and something I might be able to replicate) and second, it is one of my favorite childhood books and is now a favorite of my two year old. The teachers did a great job!

So this got me thinking, how would you you represent your favorite web site or online tool in edible form? Any ideas?


Web Filters – A Poem April 10, 2008

We have a web filter
We are compliant with CIPA
We do not block applications
Needed by our teachers
To teach students
In the 21st century

Our filter blocks categories
Determined by a committee
Of teachers
And technology specialists
And media specialists
And district leaders

We block sites
To protect our children
Not to block instruction
When a teacher needs access
To a site that is blocked
We Unblock it

Requests to unblock sites
Are sent to an instructional leader
Not a technology hardware manager
Who is not grounded in
But is more concerned about
The network

We allow web 2.0 apps
Like blogs
And wikis
And podcasts
And video streaming
And social networks
And social bookmarks
And anything that will prepare
Our students to learn
In the 21st Century

We believe that a web filter should
Allow for creative learning
Not restrict it
We understand that students
Will sometimes encounter

Sites that are not appropriate
I would rather have students encounter
A small number of questionable sites
If that means they have access
To the tools they need to learn
Rather than having inadequate access to learning tools
In order to never encounter risky sites

I believe that students
Need to be taught
How to navigate the web
And all of its glory
And all of its dangers
If they are never exposed
How will they learn to be
Digital citizens

I am sad that there are students
In our state
In our country
Who cannot collaborate
With other students beyond their classroom
Because their school leaders
And district leaders
And teachers
And parents
Are scared

We have a web filter
We are compliant with CIPA
We do not block applications
Needed by our teachers
To teach students
In the 21st century


Telling a PhotoStory April 7, 2008

We are a dual-platform district. Most of our elementary schools have Macs while most of the secondary schools are PC sites.  I have heard the glories of iMovie for years now and how our schools are using it for digital storytelling. Some schools are buying Macs just so that they can have this functionality. I have been trying to tell the PC schools that there are good products out there for them…for free, but so far have seen little evidence of their adoption of these apps. I believe firmly in the idea that it is hard, if not impossible, to convert users to a product that you have not used yourself, so this weekend, I used PhotoStory 3 for windows to create a photo montage for my mother’s 60th birthday.

I found PhotoStory very easy to use – you download it (for free) and install it on your PC. Then you literally use the wizard to upload as many photos from your computer into Photostory. You can arrange them as needed, change the transition of the photos, add titles, narration, and music to your story. Finally, you can export it into a variety of formats based on how you plan to view the photostory.  Really user friendly. I hope lots of PC user are taking advantage of this free resource from Microsoft. Made my mother’s party a memorable experience 🙂


Evaluating social bookmarking sites April 4, 2008

Ross White from LearnNC asked me today on Twitter what value Diigo has over other social bookmarking sites like So I thought I would look closely at the two sites to see what I could determine. Both are considered to be social bookmarking sites. However, Diigo goes a step further. Diigo is really more like a mash-up of social bookmarking and social networking. It is as if Facebook and had a child and named it Diigo.

Like, Diigo allows you to post your bookmarks online, tag them and share them. However, Diigo allows to to create a network of friends and see what their recent activity is – much easier to see the new items bookmarked by your friends than in There is also a comment wall which allows for friends to engage in conversation or discussion about sites. Additionally, Diigo allows you to create lists in addition to tags. Tags allow for a dynamic set of resources to be viewed. Lists allow you to create a static set of resources when necessary. It is another option for organizing bookmarked sites. You can also designate sites as favorites.

Finally, Diigo allows you to create groups so that people who might have something in common can share bookmarks with the group that they think the other members of the group might find interesting. Diigo is quickly becoming a favorite resource from what I can tell by listening in the twitterverse. Good site to check out. And share with others. Find me and friend me 🙂