The Value of "Talking Heads" or What Monster Has CogDogRoo Created?

Thanks to CogDog for information on digital storytelling and for valuable links to resources.

Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber via flickr

Sharing a 1 minute web 2.0 technology

Michelle Martin, has asked that we share some idea for the use of a web 2.0 technology that can be achieved in one minute. I would like to share the idea of using Jott for various reasons, you can leave a message to yourself, you can forward that message to a blog such as this one, you can create lists, you can do many things. listen

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PS: the message above was submitted via my cell phone. To get more info and a Jott account, go to

Television as a Learning Environment (Writing from the heart: beside the waterfall)

This morning, I write from the heart. This is a post that is actually doing an end run around my writing on the definition of contemporary learning environments, which is a work in progress and still requires more thinking and research.

This writing is connected in that it represents thoughts about one of those environments and one which is often criticized and dismissed as a waste of time: television. I am the first to admit that television is a medium which has been abused by both producer and consumer. It is at its worst, a commercial fire hose of garbage and tasteless “entertainment”. But I refuse to join the ranks of those who claim that they never watch television, and say that with an air of pride to establish intellectual superiority. Quite the contrary, I watch television. I watch my share of garbage, which often serves as background chatter to something else I’m doing. Partly this has been a developed skill, since my wife loves the “noise” of television, 24 - 7. It relaxes her, much like radio has served for some of us in the past. But, for some time, I’ve claimed that television is at its best (along with public radio) on Sunday. It seems to me that on Sunday the medium has (in some cases) been transformed to a platform for conversation and thoughtful programming. Perhaps, it has actually reverted to its roots in programs like the broadcasts by Edward R. Morrow. (Perhaps it is related to the once held notion that Sunday is a day of rest and time for conversation.) My writing is prompted by the untimely death of Tim Russert.

I cannot say that I regularly watched Tim on Meet the Press, or in any other way regularly took advantage of his thoughtful questioning in order to better understand and inform about important issues. That is one of my shortcomings. But, when I did watch, I saw participation in a respectful conversation which often challenged those who were being interviewed to clearly state their position. This was not done in the manner of many television programs which claim to seek information and opinions, but are really shouting matches to promote the view of the interviewer, it was done in the spirit of learning.

So, I reflect on my use of television (when I use it properly) to watch well done documentaries, such as the recent series on John Adams, or programs which open my view of the world and other cultures, such as National Geographic, Discovery and one which simply presents an hour of watching the sun rise from various places around the world and of course (while reflecting on Tim), Meet the Press. All of these have informed me and many have challenged my thinking

Times are changing. The term “Television” must now, more than ever be relegated to a means of delivery. The content being delivered is in the form of video. Developments over the past decade have reduced the cost of video production and transmission via the internet to enable anyone with a video recording device and an internet connection to be able to create and deliver content; hence the rise of “citizen journalism” and I would hope (with respect to the profession), a sincere conversation on what it means to truly be a “journalist”. Like its predecessor, this new form of delivery (through channels such as Youtube) is full of useless trash, extremist rantings, pornography and things which I cannot fathom. But, it also affords (and has provided) the same opportunities to present ideas, inform, educate, as well as invite replies and engage conversation.

As stated earlier, I intend to write more in the near future about my thoughts on contemporary learning environments. While I continue to form my thoughts on that, I can only hope that the competition created by the opportunities afforded us through present and evolving technologies will make each medium stand stronger on its own and that each will be used well, to entertain, inform and afford opportunities for conversation and true learning.

Viva la (quality) television!

PS: Thanks, Tim. Blessings on you and yours.

"Now, if I can only find the time ...."

I received a Tweet (Twitter message) this morning from a participant in our Teaching With Technology Institute. For the record, I actually received the Tweet first as a text message on my cell phone!

This note of thanks regarding our introduction to various technologies which might be used to enhance teaching and learning included another message which is one I hear (and say myself) all too often: "Now, if I can only find the time ...."
I have a few thoughts about this.

1. Just pick one little thing which you feel has promise for your practice and take 30 minutes to begin exploration. Follow that up a couple times each week and you will be surprised how much you will learn and begin to make this part of your practice.

2. All of our buckets are full.

It’s not about adding more technology or work to our already busy lives; we need to see what we can take out of the “bucket” (do differently) and replace it with something to make our work more efficient and provide content, communication, and other learning experiences which we could have not have done before.

3. (This one actually comes from Michele Martin) "Start a blog." That is, start documenting your thoughts and personal learning in a blog. Also, quoting Jeff Nugent, "don’t call it a blog, call it a personal learning space." And, while you are doing that, begin taking advantage of developing a network of thinkers who share your interests.

4. Remember your educational goals and look for technologies to accomplish them. Before you get too bogged down, I suggest you read IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever by Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann and consider this a guide.

Oh, one last thought as my colleague Britt Watwood would suggest, use the power of RSS to bring information to you. Now there is a powerful example of how to eliminate one time-consuming task and use the power of technology to quickly find what you want. And yes, I can hear you (and myself) saying, "Now, if I can only find the time" to read what I find!