Moving Along

I’ve migrated my blog from here to a new site called Educational Experimentalist. It seems better suited to how I view my teaching role and it gives me more control over what I can do with the site. I hope you’ll come visit me over there 🙂


A new school year begins…

Students – be curious, be engaged, wonder why & how… get to know your teachers and ask lots of questions… seek to find relevance beyond what is presented in the classroom… create your own learning network beyond the classroom walls… and you will succeed, not just in school, but in life. Now go forth, and learn!

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 52 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 277 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 52 views. The most popular post that day was student comments.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, collegeteacher.org, mycrazyreader.info, gabcast.com, and eclass.uoa.gr.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for middle school robotics, robotics for middle school, robotics middle school, quotable quotes learning, and robotics in middle school.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


student comments October 2010


middle school robotics June 2008
1 comment


About Debby April 2006


What Makes a Great Teacher July 2010


CodeCruncher Links 06/24/2010 June 2010

In October, a Pepperdine colleague of mine asked this question via Facebook Questions. There were several responses, including one that said her “general opinion about students and teachers being friends on Facebook is pretty similar to my opinion about students and teachers sleeping together: not if you’re currently in his/her class or if you plan to be at any time in the future.”

I have quite a different view, which so far has gotten the most positive votes on this thread. Here is what I shared:

I teach computer information systems at a community college, so my perspective might be a little different from my K12 colleagues. I also teach the majority of my load online, although I do usually have one or two on campus classes each semester.

I maintain a pretty active FB profile (as Derek will attest to!). It is an eclectic mix between personal and professional. Very often I will share links or discuss educational topics and get quite a robust response from friends, colleagues, educators, students (past and present) so it makes for a very rich discussion environment. One educational thread ended up with over a hundred responses a few months ago. It was awesome!

Because I teach online, I try to make myself accessible whenever possible. Having a profile makes me a “real” person to many of my students, as opposed to a static name on a page somewhere. It builds trust and opens communication channels. I very often have students ask me questions via FB chat (and google chat and all the other chats). I teach about social media as a dynamic, active personal learning network space, taking them well beyond what someone had for lunch or who is dating whom, and I do it by modeling what it *can be* instead of what lots of people *perceive* it to be. We talk about what happens when your mom or your teacher or your boss (or future employer) stumbles across your myspace/facebook page with drunken party pictures all over the place. We talk about how to use it to expand your network (safely) to increase your opportunities for learning. We don’t just talk about it though… we do it throughout the semester as they build their network on Twitter.

I do know many K12 teachers that will either have a “professional” FB page that students can add or make it their rule to only add “alumni” students. My rule of thumb on FB is that I never search out students to add them (too stalkerish) but if they send me a friend request, I will usually add them. I am pretty sure that I don’t put anything on my page that I would be embarrassed by.

Overall the response has been positive to my online presence and students like the accessibility. I haven’t run into any problems because I set the boundaries right up front and students know what to expect. We can hide our heads in the sand and pretend social media doesn’t exist (block it all!)… Or we can use it as a learning opportunity to teach our students what it means to be good digital citizens engaged in actively building a personal learning network that will benefit them well beyond the classroom walls. Of course, unless we figure out how to do that ourselves, it will be hard to help our students figure it out as well 🙂

I am a creature of habit. I usually wake up every morning well before my mad scientist so I reach for the iPhone plugged in by the bed. After a quick check of email I always turn to Facebook to see what’s going on in the world. Facebook? Yes, Facebook. I don’t flip on the TV, mostly because it’s in the other room and we hardly watch it anyhow. I save NPR for later in the the morning. But while I’m laying there in bed denying the reality that I need to actually get up and do something, I scan what is going on in the world around me, digging in a little deeper where I am most interested, and keeping up-to-date with the people who matter to me the most.

On Facebook and on Twitter I’ve deliberately chosen to follow an eclectic group of people and organizations so that I have a broad outlook on what is going on in the world. I have created a personal newsfeed that mixes my interests in a dynamic and interactive interface that is easily accessible from my computer or my cell phone. The platform allows me to be an active participant in the media stream if I choose to do so, instead of just a passive consumer of information. I can comment, I can “like”, I can contribute, I can get feedback on what I write. I get to control what I see. I block all of the silly game updates and quizzes because I don’t care about those. It’s my choice. The nature of the newsfeed changes throughout the day. In the morning, I come across items from organizations or groups and from my night-owl friends. Later in the day, I begin to see more posts from “normal” people I know, from innovative educators in the field, from students, and from breaking news sites. It’s a constantly changing view of what is going on with people I know and things I am interested in.

I talk about this all the time to my students and to my own children. I try to get them to see and understand the power of social media through active participation not just passive observation. Sometimes I wonder if it sinks in. Sometimes I know it does. Yesterday, my 14 year old daughter ran into a roadblock on an opinion paper she was writing, and we had a discussion about how she might search for information to back up her ideas. Later on, she came bouncing into the garage where I was working, totally excited about her discovery. She said something to the effect of “Mom, you know how you say if you have a question, you can ask your network? I posted a question for my essay on Facebook & got responses!” Now she wants me to post the question out to MY network because she knows it’s much larger and she’s excited about what she will learn. She’s making the shift from a spoon-fed student to an actively engaged learner. That’s awesome!

Social media is what you make of it. It can be a world filled with middle-school drama and shallow commentary or it can be a place where you discover, learn, interact, engage, create, contribute, and expand your view of the world around you. YOU get to choose. Which will it be?

So, in case you are wondering what I see in MY media stream, here’s a sampling from this morning’s “paper”. The order got a little jumbled when I saved the pictures, but you’ll get the idea 🙂

(Hover over the image for a description)

Continue Reading »

real world applications

Had a chance to chat with an online student this afternoon. He is a naval aviator and was deployed to Japan a few weeks ago. It’s put him behind on some things and he wanted to see if he could catch up. One of the first things he said was:
MW: I have been introduced to many new technologies in your class and I must say they are extremely useful. I wish I had taken this class sooner. I will try using google video chat with my family back home. I didn’t notice there was a chat box in email until you just texted me right now.
We chatted about topics he could use for some of the assignments and I suggested that he write about things he is familiar with, like aviation technology, because that would be quite interesting.
MW: Many of us in the military sometimes forget that what is daily routine work for us may be very interesting for folks back home.
me: yep… I have to keep that perspective also when I teach “newbies”. What is routine and normal for me is like magic to some of them.
MW: You are absolutely right. The first time I attend your class I thought the things you do were magical!
me: it’s only magical when the internet goes “POOF” and you aren’t expecting it 🙂
We talked about being deployed and I had another idea for him:
MW: Navy usually keep us flyboys in for a long time. In a sense we feel home sick after the first few months.
me: so here’s another topic idea… how technology (or what technology) facilitates communication home when you are deployed at sea or far away.
MW: That’s a very interesting topic. Most of us are still using “freedom card” for calls and after taking this class I feel there must be better ways to keep in touch with folks back home.
me: freedom cards?
MW: It’s like a calling card we use to call home. We get certain allowance every month.
MW: I feel with the new internet communication like we mentioned in class with youtube, twitter, and google chat are all good alternatives.
me: is there internet access when you are on the ship?
MW: We have internet access but it is not reliable. It is censored and when the CO doesn’t like it will be shut down in the name of mission status.

It was a good chat. Nice to hear that what I am teaching is being put to practical use in the real world 🙂


The best leaders aren’t the guys who walk around telling people what to do. The best leaders are the guys who cast a vision & invite others into their story.