Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

May we pause and remember Christ's birth during the holiday season and the love God has for humankind...and may we live our lives in light of that love he has extended to us!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Collaboration is hard...

Collaboration is hard. We throw this word around all the time as important and we speak of the need for it and yet it is extremely hard to attain. Sometimes we confuse it with cooperation. Cooperation means working together to achieve the same goal or end. Cooperation tends to lead to compromise depending on the situation. You work out what you can live with in order to achieve your goal.

Collaboration is a bit more complex. It requires true dialogue. We could define dialogue as exchanges or conversations between 2 people. In the original Greek context, it was an intellectual debate and exchange that developed discussion and led to rational, intellectual conclusions. The conclusion was not set at the beginning of the dialogue but the conclusion was reached through a journey of logic and rational arguments.

As we apply dialogue to the verb collaborate, it is not compromising a position. It is a sharing of ideas to create a position together. The process is a key ingredient to the outcome.

Within collaboration, an element of sacrifice is present. It is not about giving up an idea. It is about giving up some control. It means extending trust and faith to the person you are working with. It means it is okay to not have all the answers and to walk in with ideas that need to be molded. This is difficult. And it is much of what Web 2.0 is about. Web 2.0 allows, facilitates, and promotes collaboration, and content is seen in process. The transparency can be messy and unpredictable. Additionally, the content is frequently added to the conversation. My observation is that it is rarely taken away. For example, many Google docs become messy with time because people don't want to delete others' ideas. It is meant well and signifies respect for others' ideas. However, deleting some content is necessary to get to the final conclusion. This is where trust plays into engaging collaboration and the value placed on others.

Collaboration takes effort. It is not easy but as we practice and strive for it, it can become more a part of how we operate and our everyday interactions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Google Wave

...Bill Gates likes to say that at Microsoft they know only one thing: In four years, every product they make will be obsolete. The only question is whether Microsoft makes it obsolete or one of its competitors will.
-The Lexus & the Olive Tree (T. Friedman, p. 213)

Google Wave is a new "thing" out there that has generated quite a bit of conversation. Like anything new, it takes time for people to adopt it and generate the critical mass to make it successful. That said, I have had little experience with Google Wave although someone was kind of enough to invite me for an account. I am looking forward to checking it out. I think it makes a lot of sense and has loads of potential. I ran across this short video that explains Google Wave in a pretty simple, straightforward way. It might be worth checking out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Automatic Captions

I recently saw this new feature discussed on the Google blog. It takes Youtube videos and automatically adds captions to them. The obvious application is the assistance to the hearing impaired. However, I think the potential of this type of technology is pretty cool, especially when applied to searching content without user effort to tag media.

Google also claims the captions can be downloaded into text. If you want to quote someone from a video, this makes it significantly easier. The use of captions can also be tied to certain cues in the video so you can skip to particular sections with ease.

Google translation tools can also translate video captions to other languages. Talk about crossing languages and making videos global...

A small blurb on the news but I see huge potential impacts and uses.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Screencasting is a great tool for a number of reasons. Whether you want to show a route on a Google map, have students explain their work, or demo a new web tool with instructions for other staff or students, screencasting can be really quick and easy. A newer tool that is great because you don't have to download anything is Screenr. I also like Jing.

Both of these tools allow easy posting to a website or Youtube. Both are free and easy to use. See my last post on Math tools for an example. I used Jing on that one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Extending Math with Technology Tools

Math continues to increase its presence on the web, particularly for educational purposes. The advantage of many of these tools allow students to access differentiated skill practice and improve at their own rate. It also allows students to make some of the more abstract manipulations and concepts more real.

One such site I recently ran across was GeoGebra. It has an entire wiki devoted to educational uses. The website claims it seeks to go beyond some of the geometry manipulations and directly link algebra to some geometry concepts. It seems to have an array of options and ways for students to manipulate objects. In just a couple minutes I was able to take a screencast of this example:

Reuters reports on an Oxford professor who has developed a subscription service of video games that engage students in real world problem solving and fun. He calls his site Manga High. I checked out some samples and the site definitely looked pretty good at challenging students in engaging ways.

One of our elementary schools uses Mathletics.

The point is this: tools available if you want to look for them. And the quality and benefit of these tools is increasing. Regardless of subscription services or free tools, accessing some of these resources can be a great asset to students.