Classroom 2.0 Grows and Grows

I was reminded of how fast the Classroom 2.0 social networking site has grown since I climbed aboard the Ning train a few months ago (there were just a few hundred folks then in the network created by Steve H.) when the site was featured on the main Ning Blog Page as an example of an active community.

It said that the Classroom 2.0 site now has more than 2,500 members! Wow! That’s is a lot of exploration and discussion and sharing of resources going on among educators, and there is a wealth of knowledge and experience there. So go ahead, check it out and join the network (if nothing else, you can see what social networking is all about)


Gina Bianchini (one of the Ning developers) had this to say:

I’ve got to believe the classroom is a more fun and productive place when you have teachers who are creatively and passionately bringing social software into the mix. The teachers in Classroom 2.0 are leading by example.

Peace (in networks),

Social Bookmarking — A Video View

The folks over at CommonCraft have done it again — a great little video on the power of social bookmarking (such as delicious) and how the collective force of information gathering can be used to widen the web of resources at your fingertips (on the keyboard):

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Peace (with links),

Social Networking and Student Activity

Look at this graph:

I love that the highest category is related to writing, although I wish it were even larger. But this chart — from a report entitled Creating and Connecting, etc and shared by my friend, Gail, and generated by the National School Board — shows the growing impact of social networking on young people.

Gail cites the report with this quote:

In light of the study findings, school districts may want to consider reexamining their policies and practices and explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes.

Peace (with connections),

Need ideas? Hit the Generator

This is another interesting site that gives you some ideas when your brain is fried and dried and it sure comes up some strange ones. It’s called the Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator (like a spy movie or something). Just click and spin the wheel.

levitating animal

In three turns of the wheel, I got:

  • Do-it-yourself levitating animal
  • Exclusive foam garden
  • Nutritious holograph club
  • Comedic Inflatable Event

There’s got to be something I can do with these.

Peace (in abundance),

PS — I was taking my cat for a virtual walk when the strangest thing happened. She doesn’t like to stroll too far in the holographic room but every once in a while, a robotic mouse jumps out of the low corner of the walls and she is off like a shot. The mouse always gets away by scaling the walls and disappearing into the upper corner of the holographic room. On this day, my thoughts were clouded by the upcoming meeting of the Inflatable Foam Garden club and our concern that every time it rains, our gardens wash away. I had suggested tying bowling balls to the flowers but the others just pooh-poohed that idea. Still, no one had come up with a better suggestion and I could just see our gardens graced by colorful balls, anchored nicely during storms. It was while I was in these deep pockets of thoughts that my cat brought back some kind of paper bag, and it in were wires and nodes and other items. I was curious — as my cat was — and so I followed the set of instructions and began connecting the pieces together. When it was done, it resembled something like closed box, with a large wire coming out of the top and big blue button on the side. I clicked the button and something jumped from the box to my cat. My cat looked at me, and I just shrugged. This kind of thing happens all the time to us. Then, to my surprise, my cat started to lift up off the ground. She was flying! No, not quite flying. More like levitating. I grabbed the paper bag and tried to find some kind of label. On the bottom, worn out, were the words: Do-it-yourself Animal Levitation Kit. I waved to my cat and she kind of waved back. Waving isn’t easy for cats. Suddenly, a robotic mouse scurried out of the wall and my cat was zooming after it. No more escape through the top of the room for this prey but when my cat swiped at the mouse, there was a loud “pop” and the mouse disappeared in a cloud of smoke, and the room was gone. We were standing — well, I was standing and my cat was floating — back in our house and my cat had the funniest expression on its face. Like something had gotten her tongue this time. I reached down to see what happened and found a rip in our Comedic Inflatable Event. I folded it up, put it back in the bag and silently told myself that I needed to bring the room back for repairs before the next meeting of the Nutritious Holographic Club. The room would not be too tasty as it was.

Public Wants Tech in Schools

An article in e-School News Online reports on a survey of several thousand people which concluded:

The majority of respondents said technology is an important factor in connecting schools to their communities, as well as in leveling the playing field among more and less affluent schools by providing equal access to educational content.”

In addition:

According to the survey, 59 percent of Americans agree that “information technology is a vital tool that can help educate our students by providing access to video and other dynamic content” and that more should be done to incorporate technology into the learning process.

Americans also recognize that understanding science and technology is important to success in the 21st-century workforce, the poll suggests: 69 percent of Americans believe that science and math courses should be made mandatory for grades 7 through 12.

The flip side is that respondents were not in any agreement on how this kind of technology education should be delivered, nor did people see teaching technology at odds with the push for more standardized testing.

Some links from the article:

Video of panel discussion

Cisco Education

Consortium for School Networking

International Society for Technology in Education

Peace (with tech),

SuperLooper — rock the net

I don’t use a mac so I have been very jealous of those who have access to GarageBand for making loops and other fun projects. I stumbled across this software called SuperDuperMusicLooper, which is for kids, and decided to check it out. It’s very fun (my kids will love it) and is simple to use. The program uses a “paint” the sound (and “eraser” for removing sounds) and it comes with a large selection of loops. You can change the key, tempo and even record your own voice or sounds.

The songs are then saved as .wav files, so I am converting them to MP3 via Audacity.


You can even try a demo at the Sony site, but it won’t let you save and it has limited options. (and now that I am going back to the Sony site, I realize that I maybe should have bought the next level up, something called Jam Trax. Oh well, maybe another day)

Here is what I created in 10 minutes yesterday after installing the software:

Listen to Wit Da Flow

This does bring up an entirely new question, though, of whether I am creating music here or something else, and what benefits does this kind of software have for young people interesting in music, and I am not so sure what this mixing and mashing means for young musicians. It is so easy to use, and so quick, and requires very little effort, that you wonder how you can convince someone to woodshed for hours in their room on a single note, or phrase, or song, when the argument is that the computer can do it better (it can’t, I don’t think, but that is one argument). In defense of SuperLooper, it does make visible the construction of a song in its many myriad parts, and that can be valuable to a young songwriter.

Peace (peacepeacepeacepeace in loops),

The Video Explosion

I have periodically come across the Pew Internet and American Life series of research articles that take a deeper look at the impact of technology on our lives, particularly the lives of young people. They do a fantastic job of pulling together information.

A recent study by Pew looked at the impact of online video and how it is changing the nature of the web (again). Some interesting stats:

  • About 20 percent of all adults watch some kind of video on their computer (via the net) once a day. Just think about that — that is a whole lot of eyeballs scanning the web and belies the reason why Google snapped up YouTube.
  • About 75 percent of young users (ages 18-29) watch online videos each day (an amazing number)
  • 10 percent of people re-post or share links to videos via their Weblogs and other sites (such as MySpace, Facebook, etc)
  • 20 percent either post a comment on the videos or leave a rating (which seems to indicate the desire to be participatory members in the experience)
  • Comedy and humorous videos are the most popular genre of videos that people are watching and sharing with others (so true, so true)
  • Young males are more likely to watch animation or cartoon videos than any other demographic.
  • Almost no one pays any money for video services — “free” is the operative word here (although commercials and advertising videos are also being viewed, primarily by young people.)

I wish the report had dug into the ways and means and motivation of people who are doing the posting of videos, but maybe that is for the future.

Peace (with information),

VoiceThread Experiment

James shows us how to use VoiceThread on Edublogs (I should have asked how to do this weeks ago) and other flash-based programs, so I am giving it a try. (here is the tutorial, by the way)

And you can try something too – add your voice to my thread (you will need to register for voicethread to do so, however). This was an experiment that I posted via Classroom 2.0.

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Did it work?

Peace (with flash),

The Ning Thing

I have been trying to understand social networking a bit more these past few weeks, as I think this is the direction I want to take our Making Connections project that creates an online shared writing space for middle school students in our Western Massachusetts area (this past year, we had about 200 students writing and responding).

My dilemma has been, what platform? I know others are using Elgg and it seems interesting but a bit complicated for teachers in my group who are not tech savvy and need to be able to troubleshoot and help students basically on their own. There are aspects of Elgg that I really like, including the automatic tag-links created via profile writing. Elgg

And then, there is Ning. A few months ago, I became part of the Classroom 2.0 community over at Ning and it has been quite a wonderful experience. Created by Steve H., Classroom 2.0 has grown leaps and bounds since I came on board. And this network has shown the power of the collective voice, as teachers are sharing resources, strategies and questions, and probing deeper into the Web 2.0 tools, and questioning such things as assessment in the connected world.

I also wanted to try my hand at administering a Ning network, so I created an informal one for technology liaisons within the National Writing Project. It was easy to set up my own Ning network — incredibly easy, and we now have 23 members (I am hoping for many more but don’t want to push too hard). I like the ease of administration and the use of widgets that allow such easy access to load and share videos, audio, and anything else you can think of.


And again, this is just another tool for creating a sense of community, so I enjoy “seeing” some old friends and some new friends in the Ning space. And that is a big part of the social networking experience, I think.

Peace (with networks),

Social Networking Videos

I came across two wonderful videos about social networking this past week that I have shared elsewhere but want to keep on sharing, since I do believe that this wave of technology is still on the way up and is gaining more footholds every day.

Here is one in general about social networking from Common Craft folks:

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And here is one made by Chris Sloan, a Writing Project friend and fellow musician from Utah, about using Elgg networks in the classroom:

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I’ll write more this week about my own forays into social networking (as a participant and as a creator).

Peace (with you, and you, and you …),