Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's in a Name?

Having a catchy name to wrap an innovation around is a great way to create buzz. With announcements by Microsoft and Google heralding game-changing services, I couldn't help but consider the names chosen.

Microsoft is getting back into the search game with BING, while Google is considering how to consolidate the social nature of communication with WAVE. I suspect that you will be as surprised as I was in discovering the most common definitions for each of these words. To consolidate what I found, I ran the results through Wordle.

Definitions of BING on the Web:

Bing is a surname.

Bing is a Unix program which is essentially a ping with added network throughput measurements.

Bing or Gebrüder Bing was a German toy company founded in 1863 in Nuremberg, Germany by two brothers, Ignaz and Adolf Bing, originally producing metal kitchen utensils. They began toy production in 1880, their first teddy bears in 1907 . ...

A slag heap (also called bing, Boney piles, culm, waste coal, Terekons (Russian), gob piles, or slate dumps) is a pile built of accumulated tailings, which are by-products of mining. ...

Bing is a soft drink produced by the Silver Spring Mineral Water Company Limited, based in Folkestone, Kent, UK. It is dark orange in colour and has a cherryade quality to it. The flavor has been compared by some to original Tizer(before they removed the artificial flavourings). ...

Bing is a Chinese term used to describe dough-based Chinese flatbreads, pancakes, unleavened dough foods, or indeed any food item with a flat disk ...

The Twin Bing is a candy bar made by the Palmer Candy Company of Sioux City, Iowa. It consists of two round, chewy, cherry-flavored nougats coated with a mixture of chopped peanuts and chocolate.

Bing is a slang term for solitary confinement in prison. Also: a heap or pile, such as a slag heap

Bing is an annoying lizard in "The Angry Beavers", an animated television series.

Bing - In Feng Shui, One of ten heavenly stems... the sign of growth like fire in the house.

Bing is, with Shark, one of the original founders of RPG World. He runs the server's day-to-day operations and oversees the rest of the ...

Definitions of WAVE on the Web:

* one of a series of ridges that moves across the surface of a liquid (especially across a large body of water)
* a movement like that of a sudden occurrence or increase in a specified phenomenon; "a wave of settlers"; "troops advancing in waves"
* (physics) a movement up and down or back and forth
* something that rises rapidly; "a wave of emotion swept over him"; "there was a sudden wave of buying before the market closed"; "a wave of conservatism in the country led by the hard right"
* beckon: signal with the hands or nod; "She waved to her friends"; "He waved his hand hospitably"
* the act of signaling by a movement of the hand
* brandish: move or swing back and forth; "She waved her gun"
* a hairdo that creates undulations in the hair
* roll: move in a wavy pattern or with a rising and falling motion; "The curtains undulated"; "the waves rolled towards the beach"
* an undulating curve
* curl: twist or roll into coils or ringlets; "curl my hair, please"
* a persistent and widespread unusual weather condition (especially of unusual temperatures); "a heat wave"
* set waves in; "she asked the hairdresser to wave her hair"
* a member of the women's reserve of the United States Navy; originally organized during World War II but now no longer a separate branch

* The wave (British English: Mexican wave; also stadium wave), is achieved in a packed stadium when successive groups of spectators briefly stand ...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Twitter Experiment

How can Twitter, or other back-channel tools, foster the interactive exploration of course content?

Whether you want to engage more participants; to encourage tangential conversations; to give voice to the less vocal; or to archive discussions for future reference, the student responses to this 'experiment' are reason enough for consider adding a back-channel to your next lesson.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Google Calendars & Task Lists

Did you know that task lists have been added to the Google Calendar app? This advance has prompted me to move my calendar items and to-do lists into the cloud where they now sit alongside my Gmail account and my Google Documents.

In making transition, I chose to make use of a free synchronization tool: NuevaSync, which wirelessly updates both my online calendar, and the parallel version that resides on my iPhone.

I was pleased enough with the functionality of this evolving tool, that I took time to create a video overview that outlines how to import calendars and how to create task lists.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Open Exam

Does your course have a culminating exam to assess student knowledge and understanding? Would you like to make such a test a more authentic endeavor?

This 6 minute podcast invites teachers to consider offering 'Open Exams'...

Have I made an effective case?
Do you have experiences with open tests that you can share?

For more of my thinking about exams, visit "When Are Exams Over?".

Photo Credit: Night Owl City

Friday, May 22, 2009

Old Time Radio... in the Classroom

Do your students realize that television used to be called radio?! Beyond the historic value of such a brief lesson in media literacy, students can produce rich and lasting creative audio works using old time radio dramas as the catalyst.

This 5 minute podcast provides a few thoughts on how and why this might be worth pursuing on Arthur Conan Doyle's 150th birthday.

Related Links:
Old Time Radio Shows for Download
The Internet Archive
Audio at

Photo Credit: Brice DEKANY

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Class Wish

If you've ever struggled to provide resources to your students, perhaps even paying out of your own pocket for essential classroom materials, you may be a candidate to make use of This educational offshoot from Changing the Present, matches specific classroom requests, with donors, to ensure students and teachers have the teaching materials they need.

The following interview with Robert Tolmach explains the origins of the project, and outlines the process for participating either as a wish-maker or a wish-granter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Expanding the Boundaries of Google Earth

A number of intermediate students in Florence, Italy have the good fortune of being taught by a teacher who continues to learn new ways to engage the tools of Google SketchUp and Google Earth. I recently had the chance to interview Guzman Tierno, to learn more about how he's leading students to achieve expectations by designing objects that can experience gravity and can interact in 3D worlds.

Related Links:
Google Pro Instructor License, FREE for Education

Google Earth Lessons
SketchUp Vehicles Experience Gravity
Drive Your Car in Google Earth
Granacci SketchUp Creations 2009
Guzman Tierno's Class Blog
10 Ways to Harness the Power of Google SketchUp

Additionally, you may be interested in this short but powerful Project Spectrum video that highlights how Google SketchUp can be leveraged to meet the needs of autistic students.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chasing the Horizon

I've been thinking about how educators are consistently challenged to arrive at ever elusive end points. New tools, new expectations, new technologies... all of the newness that continually refreshes education, reinforces the fact that we will never have a final template on which to anchor education.

The best we can do, is realize that the place we now stand, is not good enough... we have to choose a direction and start heading for the horizon.

Upon arrival at a destination, leaders in education need to reassess their situation; to realign themselves; and to head towards new distant horizons.

In times of continual change, each of us is called to embark on a non-stop voyage. How will you decide which distant horizons are most worthy of exploration?

Photo Credits: Terje Enge, noinkstains

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do You Have a Tribe?

Shift happens when change agents connect with like-minded individuals to create a movement. Even if you have yet to read or listen to Seth Godin's book "Tribes", the presentation that Seth recently gave at TED, may well inspire you to connect with, inspire, and lead your own tribe...

Go ahead, be a heretic!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lighting the Fuse on Education's Big Bang

My nominee for Education's 'Big Bang', is an open partnership among hand-held computers; smart phones; data projection; and wireless networking.

Everyone in education seems to be in agreement that a significant change is necessary to ensure that learning remains relevant for future citizens. What no one seems to know, is:

What will be the catalyst that will launch schools into the future?

10 Reasons to light the fuse on networked mobile devices:

1] The tools for this change everything exist today... and at reasonable cost!

2] Wireless networking & data projection are cost effective, commonly understood connectors.

3] We can harness the ubiquitous hand-held devices that are already in kids' backpacks.

4] The rise of netbook computers is bringing the $100 laptop closer to reality.

5] Cloud computing is now a 'concrete' reality.

6] Student populations are eager for the adoption of the tools of their generation.

7] The number of teachers with an appetite for learning with modern tools continues to grow.

8] Whether using Skype, or, free two way broadcasting allows educators and students to leverage connections with classrooms around the world.

9] An expanding range of open source projects is providing a no-cost platform for creativity.

10] The blogosphere is awash with successful models for networked learning. In effect, we've written the textbook on how to embed the teaching of technology skills into performance based learning experiences.

The threat of viruses and the desire for network security seem to be the main concerns voiced by unyielding ICT departments, and though these concerns are valid, we are at a far greater risk of alienating entire learning communities by ignoring readily available tools, and restricting access to what many take for granted in their own homes, or at the local coffee shop.

The day that schools open their networks for sign-on by the devices used every day by students, parents and teachers, will be remembered as the birthday of Classroom 2.0. What will you do to help light the fuse?

What do you think? Can handheld devices help schools launch us into wondrously diverse learning experiences? Do you have another nominee for Education's 'Big Bang'?

Photo credit: pshutterbug/Prabhu