Monday, June 13, 2005



The Los Angeles Times plans to launch "wikitorials" sometime this week, according to the New York Times. Sounds interesting. The LA Times editor is Michael Kinsley, once of Slate.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Earthcaching: Geocaching with cachet

"An Earthcache is an educational virtual geocache or physical site that people can visit to view a unique geoscience feature on-the-ground. Visitors to Earthcache sites can experience science in action – its landscape, its formation, its geology or the fossils that have an ancient story to tell." Check it out!

Monday, December 06, 2004


Earth Science technology--very neat software

I first used Earth Browser as a screensaver on a Mac, it seems like, 4 or 5 years ago. It looked good but wasn't all that useful. Now it's up to version 2.5 and is quite useful or at least fun. There's the Earth rotating on its axis in space, lights on at night and less visible in daylight-quite a view. The globe can be stopped or rotated manually. You can call on databases with a click to show earthquakes, fires, storms, icebergs and more. With the correct rotation, you can set up the "Ring of Fire" - the volcanoes around the pacific rim. You can call up weather forecasts, earthquakes, and webcams. There is a trial version so you can check it out. It complements the Keyhole software also, it seems to me.

Saturday, September 25, 2004



Originally uploaded by bdodge.
San Diego


Classroom Blog

Classroom Blog Policies
By Ron

Summary: This policy is to guide sixth grade students in Room 110 in making blog entries to the class blog for our culminating project for the unit on Our Early Human Ancestors.

Context: Blogs will be entered in a weblog to be set up in our school district’s intranet. The URL for the blog will be furnished during the blog training session. Users will be the students in this class and the teacher. Entries will be made by the students primarily with responsive comments by the teacher; parents will be a reading audience. Parents may submit comments by email or otherwise to the teacher and if appropriate their comments may be posted to the weblog. Other school teachers and administrators may also view the postings.

Duration: This culminating project will take eight class periods on separate days to complete.

Goals: This blog will further our work on classroom discourse which has thus far been during class. The same rules and guidelines will be followed in the blog as in classroom discourse. Those guidelines are as follows:
[insert guidelines here]
Blogging will necessarily involve writing so practice and progress in student writing skills will also be a goal:
[Insert standard here]
Other content area standards that will be addressed in this project are:
[Insert standard(s) here]

Blog Participants: Entries will be made by the students primarily with responsive comments by the teacher; parents will be a reading audience. Parents may submit comments by email or otherwise to the teacher and if appropriate their comments may be posted to the weblog. Other school teachers and administrators may also view the postings; any communications posted to the blog would come only through the teacher.

Process: Before beginning the blog, there will be a presentation on how to blog and practice in doing so. Each student’s proficiency will be reviewed during practice by the teacher and remediated as and if necessary. Students will review the history of the weblog and its context. Students will be cautioned on difficulties and personal safety issues that have arisen during use of weblogging technology. Cautions will be tied to limitations on use and to real world concerns to explain and sensitize the students to the fact that there will be semi-public access, that speaking ill of others shows no concern for others’ feelings, that dishonesty or plagiarism will be dealt with according to school policy. Stalking in the context of the blog will be discussed so that students will no what they cannot do and will be able to recognize it when done by others. Students will discuss and be aware of the potential for damage to one’s own reputation by impolitic or imprudent disclosure. All will be related to the limitations a procedures being used in the classroom to avoid these difficulties and issues.

Resources: A class weblog will be set up prior to when needed by the teacher. Each student will entered in advance as a participant. Any district and school-wide acceptable use policies will be reviewed in class. Posters reminding the class of the purpose and procedures of the class weblog will be posted in the classroom. Sample student blogs will be reviewed in class and discussed in light of our policies and goals.

Acceptable Behavior: [see some district’s policy]

(to be continued)

Friday, September 24, 2004


Readings for 9/25/04 class meeting

Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes
Personal Webpublishing as a Reflective Conversational Too for Self-Organized Learning by Sebastian Fiedler
Blogging as a Dynamic, Transformative Medium in and American Liberal Arts Classroom by Barbara Ganley


• Some characterize the blog according to what it contains, links of interest or personal journal. Expanding on the personal journal definition, others emphasize the focus on news and politics, often critical.

• Still others see the emphasis on content misleading; rather the blog is seen as characterized by interaction with readings and with others and that format and process rather than content define blogging. The use of hypertext both concentrates and expands focus on a particular issue by the ease of reference to outside resources.

• Blogs in an educational context can replace a class webpage to provide administrative information; they can provide instructive links to internet materials relevant to the course and can provide a place and context for class discussion. Blogs can be used for class summaries of readings and class organizational efforts and directions, and can provide a place to post assigned writing.

• A major attraction of blogging as a tool in or out of school is that it is easy to use. There are two fields, the title and entry and one can do without a title. A blog can be hosted by a service or produced through a desktop application and transferred to a website.

• Students have found they write more and longer than in the past and are astonished and pleased by a wider audience that responds to their writing. On the negative side for some is the presence of constraints imposed institutionally or by the wider society.

The issue of constraints can impact students and, I suppose, teachers. It represents the risk of classroom blogging. I recall a learning standard, new at the time, encouraging classroom discourse. It was something to learn for the students. It wasn’t expected that the “natural savage,” in the Rouseauian if not Pickwickian sense, would naturally engage in discourse. It required effort, learning and the constraints of a learning discussion in the classroom. But there was a lot to be gained by it-a higher level of understanding, mutual respect or at civility in the classroom, skill in expressing one’s ideas and thoughts, not to mention persuasive skills. Treating the classroom blog as classroom discourse seems the thing to do. Maybe they should or could be tied together.

A constructivist might persuasively argue otherwise, but my experience was with elementary and younger middle school students. Maybe that’s a difference.

For a teacher or anyone with the interest who reads intensely or writes originally sufficient to sustain a conversation about the content of one’s interest, blogging may be the tool. Hopefully, students might commonly learn to use blogging outside of school as well as they discover their interests.


In fact, Sebastian Fiedler, takes a constructivist position, but aims his use of blogs at adult self-learners. He thinks it a misuse of weblogs and a limiting style of learning to be taught by a teacher who knows best. After a certain point in life, perhaps so. Fiedler speaks of a need for self-organization in learning as a construct for self-learning. He sees the usefulness of instructors, therapists and so forth as providing tools for the self-organization with the choice of learning and the learning itself up to the adult learner.

Blogging is one of the tools. It serves as a means of having external learning conversations with oneself and with other that puts what one is learning up for examination by oneself and others. Maybe the learning is modified or solidified or simply extended. Certainly the history of the learning is recorded.

At the start of the article, I thought his interest was solely for adult learners outside of educational institutions. By the time I finished the article, I realized Fiedler was not advocating giving the tool to adult learners and then hands off for the instructor/coach, but to oversee its use and facilitate the learning and use of the weblog tool in the context of an educational institution. Fiedler does wonder about the usefulness of the weblog inside the institution, but seems to opine that this is the training ground for the lifelong self-learner.


What comes out strongly from Ganley’s article is the freedom the students have and take to construct their own learning and the social nature of that learning through their weblogging.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Earth Science blog

While there are many websites with loads of information on earth science and especially volcanoes (my favorites), there are not many weblogs I found in this search. Specifically, I searched "earth science blog" in google. The tons of info I referred to above can be found by searching "earth science, plate tectonics, volcanoes" and so forth without the blog-weblog limitation. One blog was outstanding as a lesson with some science info linked, but also told the story of how this blogger learned to use RSS, News Aggregators, and weblogs to pursue her interest in using learning objects to teach technology.

Blogging for class

This blog was set up for use in EdTec 700 on Weblogging as a tool for teaching. It can be used by students in the course of their study.

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