Saturday, December 24, 2011

Starting your First Blog for Education

It's not the first time I've read Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts by Will Richardson and it probably won't be the last. I've seen the chapter titles before and the ideas are familiar, but with this reading new ideas have come to my mind. For example, I realized how much I enjoy learning and discovering new concepts.

I also was struck by the idea that the best way to get involved in blogging is reading other blogs. So I hope to be an example for this class and find and read blogs that interest me. Then I will add my comments and organize my life so that I access these blogs on a regular basis.

So far I've started four blogs for the past several years each with a different purpose. First was a personal one ( as an experiment to report what I do and think. It hasn't had a great past but I hope it's future will be better.

The next was my professional one that I use for this class, related classes and for any thoughts about technology. It's called Digital Inklings.

In the undergraduate technology class each student creates a blog to track the lessons, programs and what they have learned each week. So a third blog connects to this process at fourtwentyoners.

Finally I realized from my siblings emails and questions about our past and life as children that a better way of communications these stories would be through a blog. My audience is not into blogging so this failed miserably so far. I called it Binders and Draft Horses.

Hindsight tells me that I could have created one general blog and used tags. I guess that a part of trying something, making mistakes and life-long learning.

The most difficult step of almost any project is the first step, in this case coming up with a purpose for a blog and hence a name or title. That's your first challenge. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everyone Needs a Smartphone

A comment that hit home while reads comps this week is that many students, typically teenagers, have smart phones which also serve as cameras, camcorders, gaming machines, calculators, music players, pictures albums, Internet connections as well as texting and email devices. Face it, it is their entire life wrapped up in one device. The power of this is both amazing and frustrating. They have the world as they know it or create it at their finger tips at all times. It is both a beautiful world and a scary world.

When I was young, and that's a bit ago, it is said that one learned about sex behind the barn. now there is no barn and we marginally have something we call sex education in the schools. Where do students now learn about the proper use of smart phones or other electronic devices? It must be behind the virtual barn because we prohibit the use of phones in the classrooms instead of teaching the proper use of them. Turn on the phones and get connected with them.

Besides technology is leaping forward faster than ever with new options and features. I have seen QR code bars on some products but had no idea what they could do. Skip typing the URL of a website or YouTube video. Just snap a picture on it on your smart phone which has a QR decoder program and up comes the site encoded site. This code could be on the back of a calling card or on a 75-foot billboard on the side of a building or embedded in a art project or on the side of a box with a consumer product.

Bring on the smart phone. By the way, I haven't had a cell phone until 5 months ago and I just buy a couple minutes a month as I need them. I guess I need a smart phone. With Internet and camera and QR decoder!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When it doesn't rain, it's awesome

There's so much to learn and it comes from such interesting corners. For example, three hours of PowerPoint presentations seemed a bit overwhelming, but the feedback has indicated that the information was useful and interesting. And I agree but it was a little like eating all the meals for one day at breakfast time.

Along with others I learned a great deal about what makes a PowerPoint presentation effective: not too many words, not distracting images; but stimulating technology and good visual design.

May I also say that this class has been very productive and I thank the students for that.

Oh, by the way, I read all the blogs today, a day with more sunshine than rain, a day with some time in the yard, a day that felt like a good one. Thank you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When it rains it snows

The quote is more actually when it rains it pours, which may apply to this week technologically but the "snows" part comes from the fact that the Midwest USA has been hit hard with big cold snows this past week and two days ago the daffodils in Oregon were capped with snow.

Several days ago I was working in the computer lab-classroom when a group of individuals came in and did a presentation. I, the mouse, in the corner gave the impression of ignoring while actually absorbing all that I could take in. The talk was about interactive art and design which included some far-off stuff. A followup question asked if HTML5 was the way of the future and if current web design technology would fall by the wayside. HTML5? What the heck is that?

So I did my research (that's a big word for a small act) and discovered a whole new set of powerful tags and are available in HTML5 and still marginally useless because most browsers don't recognize them. Expect Chrome and so I dug Chrome out of the dock and try out some new codes. What I've learned is that there is an awful lot to learn and that this new tags certainly complement the interactive web design.

Also this week several professors have come as candidates for a technology position in COE and with them came ideas and skills that I have not tried. There is always so much to learn in technology. So with the gathered URLs from the presentations of these candidates and the art presentations, I will be busy for some time to come. For now, the interest is in HTML5.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forty four years later

Some of your blogs have reminded me of my feelings the first time I took a computer class in the spring of '67. I was, and probably still am very introvert, and I knew no one in this class of about 200. The room where we punched the holes in the cards was small with very little equipment and the waiting line was always long. Many of these classmates, almost exclusively boys, were really hyped about computers and I was there to satisfy a small curiosity. I received, a low grade for this one-credit undergraduate class while I was a graduate student in mathematics at the University of Wyoming. The computer was a Philco 2000 and sat in a room behind a small window where a student would accept my stack of punched cards and a day later hand me a printout that typically demonstrated that I had a lot to learn yet. I was deadly afraid that I'd never understand computers.

There is one really great plus to being old; you can look back and see how things can turn out very differently than what one expects. In forty-four years you too will look back at some of your fears and concerns and realize how small they then seem. I suspect in 44 years, at the age of 110, I will reflect on some major changes of the years. Meanwhile, I will dwell on the simple things of blogging in education, and "how do I program iPads?"

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Great Week for CSE694

Life is good! Well, there are exceptions like trying to add minutes to the cell phone that I finally acquired for the first time two months ago. Thanks to my wife's patience, they took our money and I'm still watching the phone for the additional minutes.

But like I said, "Life is good!" My wife came home a day early from a business trip and most of you wrapped up your final reflective blog. Those completed from where I sit, and it is a rather comfortable recliner with the laptop on my, well, lap, are: Alyssa, Heather, Jan, Melanie, Nicole, Patricia, Ronnie, Russ, Sheryl, Tori and William; 11 out of 18. One blog from finishing are three: George, Mary and Sabrina. That leaves a mere four with a little to do yet. Good luck, I'll get watching and reading until the last thought is blogged.

Add to the list of good things this week the reading of your blogs and enjoying the new insights. I've heard say that one of the benefits of working with graduate students is all the research they do for the instructors. Thanks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting closure in CSE694

If a three-credit course takes ten weeks, then we can assume that a one-credit course will take three and one-third weeks which will be tomorrow, Tuesday, late morning. Of course, grades aren't due until the end of the term, so there's leeway unless you want closure and the ability to move on to other courses or activities.

Looking at the blogs today it appears as if about one-third of you are finished (Jan, Nicole, Russ, Sheryl and William). Another few only need to write a final reflection (Alyssa, Heather, Mary, Patricia and Tori). The remaining are typically missing a blog on features, management, marketing and a final reflection.

Those are the numbers and numbers seldom tell the entire story. As this course evolves over time both through my research into blogging and your research and discoveries, the course becomes more sophisticated and refined. As a team working to refine the use of blogs in education, you have advanced the use of blogs greatly. I'm very excited about those of you who have attempted all the expectations, adventured far beyond the guidelines and finally have developed blogs for your educational purposes.

As questions or insights come to you, add them to your blog and we'll let this course become a life-long learning experience.

ED270 Read

Managing a class through a blog is not a piece of cake, but then when teaching is done well, it's not a piece of cake, regardless whether one is using technology or not.

Briefly reviewing the blog entries of ED270, I find some blogs well done, some lacking some postings that will be helpful summarizing this class, one completely missing and several with URL addresses that are missing (Andrew, DavidC, Heather and Naomi). Email me your URL address at

At this point you should have four blog entries: an introduction of yourself, a blog from the first week about Web2.0, one from the second week on images and the last about videos and movies. Hopefully in the next week we all, including me, will get caught up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The News Today

I suppose I need to blog about today's and recent news about Apple. Those of us interested in travel and other things that money can buy, regardless of what computer we favor, wish we had bought Apple stock a long time ago. It sounds like the stock is dropping with the announcement of Job's stepping back from day-today management of Apple for health reasons, and now or soon might be our opportunity to get some cheaper than normal stock in Apple.

Apple was also in the news by its absence at the annual show-off-your-new-electronic-toys show in Las Vegas earlier this month. Apparently the big new toy, the new iPad, wasn't ready for show and tell. But the intriguing a toy may be, the more serious the investigation into the toy becomes. Rumor has that there are cameras in the front and back of the new iPad, for taking pictures and videos and for Skyping, and it doesn't fit in the old folders and covers. Watching the advancements in the first round of iPad and the criticism on missing functions, I'm guessing that there will be many other new features as well.

Closer to the human side of life, my prayers continue to go out to the victims of the Tucson shooting and their families. Of course, my thoughts return to the struggles for civil rights in the 60's and even today. May our technology be a tool for greater civility and not a device to destroy humanity.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Promoting your Blog

Of course, if your blog is designed for a captive audience such as your class, promoting your blog is unnecessary, but if you want your blog to be a resource for other teachers or a discussion forum for peers around the worldwide, some techniques for promoting your blog are important.

Consider some of these which are summarized from

1. Increase the frequency of your posting.
2. Respond to more comments generating more interaction
3. Get rid of unnecessary and perhaps annoying blogs in your blogroll
4. Get rid of annoying or distracting gadgets
5. Learn something new like videos and podcasts
6. Try new things, like maybe a gadget that generates more interaction
7. Promote your blog like through social bookmarking
8. Interconnect more like through twitter, facebook and others
9. Enhance the appearance by trying another blog site other than
10. Upgrade your blogs functionality, try Wordpress

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

About half way

After revisiting my goal and objectives for this course, as well as the specific activities, using this time as a formative assessment, several points have come to my attention. Perhaps in my balance of allowing students to guide the direction of the class and dictating the direction myself, I have leaned too far to the former. The loose structure has frustrated some.

One of the observations of this class is that because the class is quite large (in the past I've had about 6 students) more students have adventured into advanced features more quickly then anticipated. Perhaps it's just a great class of students, and I think it is. The plan was that about now we would be adding movies, and images, and links to other sites. Then we would add resources and upgrade our gadgets and try the RSS feature. Some of you have done all of these and blogged about them. Hopefully others will be able to do this soon and benefit from their classmates' discoveries.

So there are three activities that I expect us to do before we end the class with a personal but professional reflection of the value of blogs in education.

One of the bigger questions that remains is how do I manage my blog, the blogs of my students or peers if I use my blog in that way, and the blogs of other persons, both professional and personal, so that I receive the information I want but not overwhelm myself. In other words, the management part of this process. Compare ideas on your blogs and experience with some of your ideas, culminating with a blog describing your management plan.

Next there is a question of how do I promote my blog so that I'm not just writing to myself and so that I can get feedback from others. Discuss this in your blogs, do research from journals and on the Internet, and finally design and write your marketing plan in a blog.

Lastly, write a summary, a reflection of what you have learned about blogging, particularly in education, and how you might use blogs, or why you might not. I encourage you to complete this process by the end of January. I will continue to encourage and add resources for these last blogs.

I expect that by the time you have resolved all these issues from your first introductory blog to your final reflection you should have posted some dozen or more blog entries and commented on many, many more.

Watch for me on Friday.

Groups for CSE694

Here's a repeat of the list of classmates in each group who should be reading and commenting on each others' blogs.
One group: Alyssa, Bryndle, George, Heather, Jan, Joel, Lisa, Mary and Maureen
Other Group: Melanie, Nicole, Patricia, Ronnie, Russell, Sabrina, Sheryl, Tori, and William

Monday, January 10, 2011

Status review

How would summarize the first week? Statistically all students except one setup their blogs. Hurray.

There are no statistics about how many articles were read, written about and commented on but generally it seems as if there's a positive attitude toward using blogs in education among peers and in teaching (older students). There were some wonderful specifics as to how others use blogs in teaching.

Over the weekend many have adding gadgets to their blog page and hoping others will be inspiring or question the value of the particular gadget.

So we've setup the blogs, reviewed the literature, played with the technology and basically started to feel at home with blogs. Now we need to assess how we could and do use blogs. So blog about your thoughts on the usefulness of the features and how you would use them in teaching, in education or in your personal blog.

The next question is how do we use blogs effectively and in particular how do we manage all the blogs we wish to read. Have you tried the RSS feeds (Post(Atom) at the bottom of the blog page? Tell me how it's working!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Adding gadgets

Getting your feet wet with your "first blog", writing a more serious blog about "blogging in education" articles, and commenting of others' blogs, you should be ready to explore the dashboard or setting, add and edit gadgets, experiment with adding pictures and videos and just plain decorating and personalizing your blog with design and functionality.

What features will help your ease of use of the blog? What features make you feel like this is your home?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scaffolding in this Course

To get our heads around this concept of blogging we are setting up our blogs (basic technology within the range of almost everyone's skills), reading a couple journal articles about blogging as it is related to education (we can all read and should be able to find articles), blogging about our finding to reinforce our readings and expand everyone's view of blogging.

With 18 individuals in this course we have a captive audience for our blogs but a cumbersome task for each of us to go to and read each blog daily. So first let's split the class into two groups. In one group include Alyssa, Bryndle, George, Heather, Jan, Joel, Lisa, Mary and Maureen. All others will be in the other group. With this grouping I expect that you will only have to read the blogs in your group and comment on their entries, but you're welcome to read anything and comment anywhere. So the next step is to read each others' blogs and comment on them.

It's still a bit awkward getting back and forth among all the blogs. So, over the weekend, try to setup some RSS feeds (click on subscribe to (Post) at the bottom of the blog page and see what prompts your computer will give you). Also go to the settings or design portion of your blog and setup some gadgets to follow and link to other blogs. Give it a try, ask me questions and I'll add details later.

Now I'm headed to the office through 12 miles of pea-soup fog. May your pea-soup be sweet.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blogging as a ..

The word blogging evolved from journaling or keeping a log on the Internet or web, or web log, without the "we." Since the first online logs, or blogs, the use has continued to evolve and is commonly used by wannabe columnist or journalist to publish their ideas and comments. Some of the better blogs have extensive regular readerships and fans. Others fall by the wayside.
Blogs must have a purpose, a goal, a reason to exist (such as in this class because the instructor says so with the hope that we will "collaborate" in our information gathering and dissemination.

As we grow throughout this course, consider the reason for a blog if you were to develop one beyond this class, your audience and how you would develop that audience as a readership. What will make your blog unique and interesting? Might it be ideas that you tried in the classroom and you want to share the responses to those activities? Might it be poetic prose about the changing season in your hometown? Might it be suggestions for resources for your students' projects? Might it be that blogging isn't the tool for the job at this time?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Starting CSE694 in 2011

As the sun creeps over the horizon and filters through the tree, a new term of college is starting. During the lapse since the last term I have left the world in which I routinely live and traveled around China, a virtual WiFi dessert and very arid land for Internet. Access to the Internet via the iPad (WiFi only) seemed to be limited to a couple airports and one hotel. Another hotel had a computer connected to the Internet but the space bar, and the "g" and "h" keys didn't work. Try typing without those features.

Now back where I'm obligated to respond to my 150 emails and respond to my duties and privileges as a college instructor, it's time to guide us through this CSE694 "Blogging" course. Generally we will use my website (, more easily accessible through with links to WOU and then CSE694) will serve as our guide. We will be creating blogs and using them to discuss our experiences and discoveries. We will walk through a process of determining the usefulness of blogs in education and improving the usefulness of our blogs.

So let's simply start by setting up a blog. While the options are numerous, I recommend starting with for compatibility and advanced features. You will first create a gmail account by going to, clicking on mail and following the prompts. Then go to and setup a blog following the prompts. For your first blog entry give us a little introduction of who you are. Finally send me the address of your blog; it should be formatted something like

Do this as soon as you can because a three-week one-credit class goes by quickly. Aim to have it to me by Wednesday, January 5, 2011.