Archive for January, 2009

Interesting story on how gaming helped a young man gain acceptance:

Playing With Others: Gaining acceptance

explorersThe labels, digital immigrant and digital native, have been floating around the blogosphere and education circles for a few years now. The digital natives are sometimes referred to as the millennial generation, current K-12 and college students, that have been immersed in a technological world. At a current, and young mind you, 43 years old I have been thinking where I fit into this picture, and I know where I am.

I was born in 1965, and just before my 4th birthday Sesame Street went on the air. For the most part I always remember having a television in my home. I remember my first digital football game, playing pong at a local eatery, my sister’s Atari 2600 video game system, our laser disc player, and the Apple IIe computers that entered our high school building pre-1984. From high school on out through the rest of the 80s, 90s, and now in the 21st century I have not known a time when I didn’t have access to a computer.

For those in my generation, late boom, early or pre-millennial, whatever you want to call it, we have feet placed on both sides of the digital immigrant and digital native worlds. I would say we are more native than immigrant, and we really don’t have an excuse when it comes to embedding technology into the curriculum. I am going to go so far as to say that if you were born after 1960, a digital native you are (As Yoda might put it!).

Starting in the 1980s we, the digital explorers I will name us, began attending and graduating from educational institutions that were digital, but pre-internet. We took each innovation into our lives and embedded it, we changed with the times, but we understood what a dial phone was, knew people who had actually grown up on farms, and had some compassion for those that couldn’t understand how to set the clock on the VCR. We helped our elders along the digital road and did it for our folks because they didn’t know how.

As the digital explorer generation, we hoped that our education system that we knew would be transformed, but after 25 years removed from my own high school graduation not much has transformed in the classroom. The internet connections are there now, much of the hardware and software is there, but too much instruction is the same as it was in 1984. Why?

As part of this newly named digital explorer generation I have a call to action. If we look around right now we may want to realize and notice, if we haven’t already, that we have reached the age of decision making. We are in a position to be great influences in generating a cultural shift that has failed to move as fast as we have always hoped it would. As educators we especially cannot rely on an excuse that we are digital immigrants, we are not. We are the digital explorers and the first digital natives.

My challenge to my generation of digital explorers is to set the example. Continue to embed technology in your classrooms, start embedding technology in your classrooms if you have been avoiding it (we really have no excuse as we know the language and the customs already), and we must help digital immigrants embed technology in their classrooms. I do, because I am a digital explorer and one of the first digital natives, and we are the generation that knows how to change. As for the younger digital natives they expect something different, and we must help forge the trail because we have been the digital explorers and know the way.


Education chief: Schools crucial to recovery” AP

“WASHINGTON – Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economy won’t improve without the billions of dollars for schools in President Barack Obama’s recovery plan.
“If we want to stimulate the economy, we need a better-educated workforce,” Duncan said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.
“That’s the only way, long-term, we’re going to get out of this economic crisis,” he said…”

UP turns rail yard training into virtual reality” North Platte Bulletin

“How does a 147-year-old railroad company reach out to its modern-era new employees? One answer has turned out to be video simulation that mimics the virtual world of today’s video games.”

The following is an interesting article at Absolute Gadget:  “Wii Fit helps paralysed girl to walk again.”

On a somewhat related note, BYU (Go Pokes, beat BYU!!!) has released a study on gaming (causation/correlation, I think correlation):  “Y. student researches effects of video games.”

TechCrunch has an interesting article on the possibilities for the iPhone (and I would include the iPod Touch) in education:  “The iPhone Could Be The Ultimate Study Machine.”

A teacher shared these videos with me today, and they serve as a fun way to practice times tables:

1 Times Table

2 Times Table

3 Times Table

4 Times Table

5 Times Table

6 Times Table

7 Times Table

8 Times Table

9 Times Table

10 Times Table

12 Times Table

This was a wonderful experience spending time with some of the great leaders that inhabit  the fifth grade classrooms around western Nebraska!  The following is a podcast the students created:

Fifth Grade Leadership Day Podcast

I am proud to say my own son, Ronan, was a member of this great group!


wordpress_logoOnce again we find changes to the Dashboard of WordPress with the new WordPress 2.7. The following tutorials are to help new users get started and old users get acclimated to the new Dashboard look.

There are several tutorials that are appearing on the web, and I hope to narrow those down that are most helpful without reinventing the wheel. The WordPress site does have links to articles that provide text and images that may be helpful to new and old users (I have also listed links to some of these below) and the following link is to an article on recent changes: December 2008 Dashboard Changes. Enjoy!

My new WordPress Tutorials

WordPress Dashboard Introduction

WordPress Create a New Post

WordPress Edit Post

WordPress Create a Link

WordPress Add an Image

WordPress Embed a Video

Most of the older WordPress version “Screencasts” now take users to various articles on using the new Dashboard; however, some go to older articles and videos/screencasts  (links below):

WordPress Created Tutorials

Getting Started/Troubleshooting

What should I do first? [screencast]

How do I change my password? [screencast]

I lost my password – what now? [screencast]


General Settings [screencast]

Discussion Settings [screencast]

Reading Settings [screencast]


Where’s my dashboard (and what’s it for)? [screencast]

HTML & QuickTags vs. Visual Editor [screencast]

How can I edit the title and permalink of my post? [screencast]

How do I add links to other sites using the HTML or Visual editor? [screencast]

Having a static page at the front of the blog [screencast]

How do I manage (organize, edit, delete) my posts after they’ve been written or published? [screencast]

How do I manage (organize, edit, delete) pages after they’ve been published or saved? [screencast]

How do I save and manage draft posts? How does auto-save work? [screencast]

How do I change the time or date for my post? How do I set my post to publish in the future? [screencast]

How do I manage (approve, unapprove, mark as spam, delete) comments made to my blog? [screencast]

Adding Media

What filetypes can I upload?

How do I add video files to my posts? [screencast]

How do I post a Youtube video? [screencast]

How do I upload pictures? [screencast]

How do I add an audio file to my post? [screencast]

How do I add documents or other media to my blog posts? [screencast]

How do I post or embed a PowerPoint in WordPress? (Video Tutorial by Neil Hokanson)

How do I create a picture gallery in my blog post? [screencast]


What is a widget? [screencast]

How do I add summaries/excerpts to my posts so that the full post doesn’t display on my blog’s front page? [screencast]

What’s a tag? How do I add tags to my posts? How do I manage tags? [screencast]

What’s a category? How do I add and manage categories? [screencast]

How do I manage (edit, delete, add, arrange) my tags? [screencast]

How do I manage (arrange, add, delete) categories? [screencast]

Which keyboard shortcuts can I use in the WordPress editor? [screencast]


Blog Stats [screencast]

How do I add more authors / users to my blog? [screencast]

How do I change the author of a post? [screencast]

How do I stop another author editing a post at the same time as me? [screencast]

How do I use the Press This! bookmarklet [screencast]

Using Windows Live Writer [screencast]

Bringing content into WordPress from Microsoft Word [screencast]

How do I write WordPress blog posts with the ScribeFire Firefox add-on? [screencast]

gaming_in_edThe new year is upon us and I have decided it is time for my first post of the year!  We have many initiatives going on in our school district at this time.  The main technology initiative is to create new building level technology plans that are student centered (as they should always be!!!) by the end of February.  We began the process with administrators in October and now various staffs throughout the district are in the process.  We have three Continuing Education Days (Dec., Jan., and Feb.) where schools have been given time to attend tech workshops and to develop the various plans.  It is an exciting process and not without hard work and some serious thinking as to what we want to do and prepare for over the next four years.

On the side, I have been researching and developing a gaming in education initiative that has explored various digital games that have educational value.  There is a lot of research out there, and I have been finding time to sort through as much of it that I can.  With limited budgets, I have especially been looking at free and open source games that can meet our student’s needs.  The following link will take you to some of the gaming information I gathered for a recent presentation:  NPPSD Gaming Research.  The project is not over by any means!

I have the opportunity to attend a student leadership activity and will be working with 5th grade student leaders from all over western Nebraska.  I am excited about this opportunity, and we will be creating a short podcast/PSA from the event.  I have also had the privilege of working with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade high ability learners on a monthly basis this year.  Our December activity was a service project for the local Salvation Army.  We will be starting a gaming unit when we meet in a couple of weeks and also in February.

There are plenty of other things I could mention here, but there are so many things to do and so little time!  It has been a wonderful school year, and I wish we had more time in each day to accomplish all that we hope to achieve.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; so, patience will have to rule!  🙂