Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Respecting Tradition Yet Alive to Innovation

I started my new job last week as the Director of Academic Technology for Belmont Hill School. Belmont Hill is an independent boys school for students in grades 7 -12. Needless to say, I haven't had much time for blogging. I have been getting to know the faculty and the school. It is always challenging to start a new job. I am thankful to the faculty and staff at Belmont Hill for being so helpful and welcoming.

One of the things that drew me to Belmont Hill is their mission statement:
"Respecting tradition yet alive to innovation, our structured and rigorous program provides students with clear expectations and consistent encouragement, a framework for growth that honors creativity, teamwork and competition..."
I love the juxtaposition of tradition and innovation. I truly believe that these two ideas can exist in harmony. As I told the faculty, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I just want to add some bubbles. Excellent teaching can thrive without technology. But being "alive to innovation" requires a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, take risks and perhaps fail. Successful innovations usually don't start out successfully. I'm looking forward to learning more about the traditions of Belmont Hill and helping us all to embrace the innovations that new technologies can offer.

Photo Credit: "BelmontMA." May 1999. []. 9-5-08.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our favorite Quotes

As the new school year begins (at least here in the Northeast U.S.), many of us are putting together faculty presentations. I am presenting on Thursday at Belmont Hill as their new Director of Academic Technology. I am both excited and terrified about the event. In an effort to spice up my presentation, I've been looking for some good quotes. I went to my network and they did not let me down.

Here are a few of my favorites and the quotes that people have shared so far. I created a wiki to collect more quotes. If you have one to add to the list please share it here:

"Technology is anything invented after you were born, everything else is just stuff"
-Alan Kay

"It's not what the software does it's what the user does" -hugh

"History will say, “They had WHAT tools? And they did WHAT with them?” - John Davitt
Shared by h011y via Twitter

“The technology itself is not transformative. It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative.” - Tanya Byron
Shared by @h011y via Twitter

"We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us." Marshall McLuhan (1964)
Shared by @craigr via Twitter

"Any smoothly functioning technology will have the appearance of magic." Arthur C. Clarke (1984)
Shared by @craigr via Twitter

"Fish don't know they live in water." Zen Saying
Shared by @craigr via Twitter

"Our system of education is locked in a time capsule. You want to say to the people in charge. . ."
Shared by @craigr via Twitter

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?" - Roy from 'The IT Crowd'
Shared by @jarruzza via Twitter

@cshirky 's "communications tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring"
Shared by @ehelfant via Twitter

“Indeed, the role I give the computer is that of a carrier of cultural 'germs' or 'seeds' whose intellectual products will not need technological support once they take root in an actively growing mind.” Seymour Papert
Shared by @georgygrrl via Twitter

"The illiterate of the 21st century won't be those who can't read & write but those who can't learn unlearn & relearn" - Alvin Toffler
Shared by @jepcke and @rrodrigo via Twitter

"The B.E.S.T. conversations I have had with the people who know THE MOST about TECH has never been about TECH." ~Jen Wagner
Shared by @jepcke via Twitter

"Blogging is vandalism" - Alan Kay :-)
Shared by @garystager via Twitter

"We already knew that kids learned computer technology more easily than adults, It is as if children were waiting all these centuries for someone to invent their native language." - Jaron Lanier
Shared by @edtechworkshop via Twitter

"Why shouldn't we give our teachers a license to obtain software, all software, any software, for nothing? Does anyone demand a licensing fee, each time a child is taught the alphabet? - William Gibson
Shared by @Bmuench via Plurk

"You must be the change you want to see in the world" -Gandhi
Shared by @LoriB via Plurk

image source: From define23's photostream on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BlogHer - The Community for Women Who Blog

I just read about the BlogHer annual conference in the New York Times this weekend. I've signed up on the site and discovered that there is going to be a one day conference in Boston in October.

Thus far, my experience in the blogosphere has been very education based. I am excited about the opportunity to explore blogging with women who blog on a variety of different topics. I have also, dare I say it, felt at times some gender inequity in the world of educational blogging. There are probably more women who blog in this realm, but it seems like the men get the press and the keynotes. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, maybe I'm right...

I'm planning on attending the conference in October and look forward to expanding my network and learning more about blogging. Care to join me?

Image Source: Wendy Piersall's photostream on Flickr: BlogHer08 Conference Photos

Monday, August 11, 2008

Adjusting Your Facebook Privacy Settings

If you are a Facebook user, you may not realize that you can adjust your privacy settings to allow your friends and/or friends of friends more or less access to your information and activity. I created a screencast to walk you through the default privacy settings and some of your options for adjusting these settings.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone (parents, students, your own children) who might find it useful. I also created a handout on the topic. (Please also feel free to copy and share this document.)

Image Credit: From Jennifer Daniel's photostream, Parents vs. Facebook Privacy

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If at first you don't fail, try, try again.

  • How can we create a growth mindset in our students and our teachers so that we are not afraid of failure, but rather embrace it and seek it out?
  • How do we create places of learning that support and encourage us to fall down in order to rise up?

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Focus on the learner's progress and strategies, not outcomes.
  • Create teams of learners that support and encourage each other.
  • Leaders/teachers share their own failures (not just their successes).
  • Place people on both sides of the wall, some to catch you if you fall, others to help you over and take you to the next wall.
  • Encourage learners to ask questions, lots of questions.
  • Try, try again.
  • Laugh a lot!
What do you think?

(Yes, that is me)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reflections on my Learning Journey

In July, I had the amazing opportunity to meet face to face with many of my Online colleagues while attending the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. I had met some people at the Educon 2.0 conference in January. It was great to see them again. And, there were many people who I met face to face for the first time. For me, networking and socializing were among the highlights of the conference. I had so many inspiring conversations about teaching and learning and about technology.

I attended the BLC conference for the first time in 2006. At that time, I knew one other person at the conference. I moved from session to session mostly on my own and didn't attend any of the social events. In just two years so much has changed for me. This year at BLC I felt I belonged. I knew many of the presenters, presented a session (with Lisa Thumann), and even helped organize an unconference. Looking back, I am amazed by my Web 2.0 journey. I have learned and done so much I have to pinch myself - it is hard to believe the progress I have made. It feels wonderful.

Since July of 2006, I started this blog, presented at several technology conferences, published two articles, and even my own book. I feel that BLC06 was the catalyst for all of these accomplishments, primarily because it lead to this blog. Writing here has given me the confidence to reach for my dreams.

If you haven't started blogging yet I really think you should. You have to start somewhere, so why not start right now! Go to or and write your first post, then leave a comment with the Web address so we can all see it.

If you are already blogging, let us know if you agree. Should everyone blog? When did you start? Has blogging changed your teaching and/or your learning? Please share your thoughts. I look forward to learning from all of you.