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Who Killed the Electric Car?

who_killed_the_electric_car_poster.jpgAlong similar lines of “An Inconvenient Truth” is the documentary “Who killed the Electric Car?

Although, it is slow moving at times, it is well worth watching.

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What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

whomoved.jpgI needed a bit of inspiration the other day. This book did the trick. It is a quick read, but contains quite a few tidbits of inspiration around “change management”. The characters resemble many educators (and a few bloggers) that I have encountered over the years .

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

Available at a library near you.  Also, see Who Moved My Cheese? on wikipedia.

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Using a Pre-Survey For Professional Development

survey_results.jpgI’m constantly in a process of trying to make Professional Development workshops better. It can be a tough process to remove portions of your workshop that you might have thought were excellent, in order to make the overall professional development a more engaging experience for educators.

I was thinking about sending a digital pre-survey to workshop participants in order to get a better idea of their needs before going to the workshop and then shaping the PD in order to meet those needs.

Here are a few of the questions that I was thinking about:

1. I am looking for instruction on how to use the software.


2. I am looking for lessons and project ideas associated with the software.


3. I am looking for teaching strategies for integrating technology.


4. I am looking for classroom management strategies for integrating technology.


5. I learn best: (Please select one)

a) At my own pace b) working in a group c) in an instructor directed model

6. I would like to: (Please select one)

a) follow the instructor on my own computer b) listen to the instructor then work on my own c) work on my own and ask the instructor for assistance d) work within a small group on a project

7. I would like paper handouts: Yes/No

8. I would like digital resources emailed to me: Yes/No

9. I would like discussion and debriefing time with peers during the workshop: Yes/No

10. What I would most like to learn at the workshop is … (open ended)

Are any of you using a pre-survey before you deliver a workshop to educators?  Have you ever completed a pre-survey and wished there was another question on that survey (I would love to know the question you were thinking about)?

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Learning = Change

Learning = Change

Originally uploaded by qd.

And a new year begins again ….

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Edu 2.0 is Now Officially Launched

Just received the following email to a concept that looks interesting. Is it a CMS, LMS, Social Network, RSS Aggregator – I’m not sure yet? It is worth a look.


Hi Quentin,

We’re happy to announce that edu 2.0 is now officially launched!

If you haven’t visited the site for a while, I recommend going to and clicking on “take tour’. A short 3-minute video provides a high-level overview of the site and some self-paced mini-tours demonstrate the key features. There’s also a short personal video from me at the bottom of the page.

Graham Glass, founder
email: graham ( at)


Here’s the tour that is mentioned.

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Looking at the Research – K12 Blogging

ResearchI have started to aggregate some of the research that I have been reading on the TeachingHacks wiki, under a new topic titled Research . I am looking for K12 research papers, peer reviewed journals and studies, and have been staying away from magazine articles for now.

Here is what I have so far on the topic of Blogging in K12. If you have any suggestions that speak directly to K12, rather than Higher Education, I would love to here about it.

Reflection and the Middle School Blogger:Do Blogs Support Reflective Practices? Beverly B. Ray and Martha M. Hocutt


Research examined 12 randomly selected blogs from a population of 38 teacher-created, teaching-centered blogs to determine whether they were useful reflective devices for practicing middle school teachers. The amount and depth of reflective practice, as measured by a researcher-created rubric, was examined as well. Results indicated that all participants engaged in some level of reflective writing. However, the depth and level of reflection varied within and among the blogs. The results reported here are useful for framing future research on the efficacy of middle school teacher blogs.

Among the key findings for me:

•A majority (78%, n=56) of individual entries demonstrated some level of reflective writing.

•The results of this study give insight into the efficacy of blogs when used by middle school educators. These results demonstrate the potential usefulness of blogs in promoting reflective practice with practicing teachers. However, results do not demonstrate that blogs are being utilized effectively for reflective purposes.

The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom by David Huffaker


This paper explores the role of weblogs or “blogs” in classroom settings. Blogs, which resemble personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where self–expression and creativity is encouraged and online communities are built, provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue. This paper explores the importance of literacy and storytelling in learning, and then juxtaposes these concepts with the features of blogs. The paper also reviews examples of blogs in practice.

Among the key findings for me:

•Weblogs provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue.

•The characteristics of weblogs such as the personal space it provides and the linkages with an online community create an excellent computer–mediated communication context for individual expressions and collaborative interactions in the form of storytelling and dialogue

Learning with Weblogs: An Empirical Investigation by Helen S Du and Christian Wagner

AbstractThe study investigates the impact of weblog use on individual learning in a university environment. Weblogs are a relatively new knowledge sharing technology, which enables people to record their thoughts in diary form and publish those diaries as web pages, without programming or HTML coding. The research sought to empirically determine whether the keeping of on-going (web based) learning logs throughout a semester would result in better overall student performance. This was hypothesized, because web based learning logs appear to promote constructivist learning, provide reinforcement, and increase accountability (non-anonymous idea sharing). Results from an information systems undergraduate course with 31 students indicate that weblog performance is a significant predictor for learning outcome, while traditional coursework is not. Weblogs appear to have highest predictive power for high and low performing students, but much less predictive value for medium performers. Results also suggest that there is a learning effect for weblog authoring.

Among the key findings for me:

•As a performance predictor, weblogs appear to be more appropriate than traditional course work. Capturing breadth and depth of topic coverage, and requiring students to place their work under public scrutiny appears to better prepare them for a comprehensive final exam and overall course performance.

•Weblogs enhance the traditional learning log, which facilitates cognitive constructivism, with collaborative elements, which facilitate social constructivism.

Ertmer, P. A, Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G. et. al. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), article 4.


This study investigates the impact of peer feedback used as an instructional strategy to increase the quality of students’ online postings. While peer feedback has been demonstrated to support students’ learning in traditional classrooms, little is known about its efficacy in online discussions. To address this gap, we examined students’ perceptions of the value of giving and receiving peer feedback, specifically related to the quality of discussion postings in an online course. In addition, we investigated the impact of that feedback by comparing the quality of students’ postings, based on Bloom’s taxonomy, from pre-course to post-course. Results suggest that the quality of students’ postings was maintained through the use of peer feedback despite students’ preferences for instructor feedback. Students noted that peer feedback can be valuable and, more importantly, described how giving peer feedback not only reinforced their learning but enabled them to achieve higher understanding.

Among the key findings for me:

•based on the results of this research, instructors might consider the following recommendations when designing and implementing online learning environments that incorporate peer feedback:

  1. Help students understand not only how the peer feedback process works, but why it is being used (e.g., to provide additional feedback, to better gauge postings).
  2. Model and provide examples of effective feedback prior to implementing the peer feedback process.
  3. Provide guidelines regarding how to provide effective peer feedback, such as “always begin with positive feedback and then offer information on areas for improvement.”
  4. Monitor the process and, in turn, provide feedback on the feedback, at least initially, to help the process run smoothly and to allow students to benefit from the strategy.
  5. Ensure that the feedback is anonymous so that students can provide ratings without feeling pressure from peers.
  6. Use multiple peer ratings for each response in order to provide an aggregated view of the value of the response.
  7. Ensure that the process is easy for students to implement so as not to overwhelm them.

Nelson, L., & Feinstein, S. (2007, January 1). Research on Writing Conventions: U R What U Write. Online Submission


The purpose of this quantitative study is to determine how secondary students use conventions in classroom composition assignments compared to the Internet writing outlets of e-mail, instant messaging, and blogs. Thirty-two ninth grade students were identified to participate in this study. Half of the participants were deeply involved in online communication and half rarely wrote online. The main instrument involved was the 6+1 Trait Writing method rubric, which has enjoyed long-standing use in schools. The study found that students appropriately switched gears when writing in different situations. Students adhered to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing. Students who wrote via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs showed worse usage of standard conventions than those students who did not write online except when it came to thoroughly poor users of conventions. However, online communicators demonstrated a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The findings of this study indicate that it is important to continue teaching conventions in our schools. Students need to view content, form, and conventions as inseparable. (Contains 8 figures.)

Among the key findings for me:

The focus of this reading is on using good grammar, spelling, and punctuation – by comparing online writing to offline writing. The answer to this seems – well – obvious. I mean, who marks the grammar of an IM conversation?

  • Students do adhere in some fashion to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing; however, the former endures inconsistent application, and the latter suffers a downright shoddy performance.
  • Students who write via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs show worse usage of standard conventions than those students who do not write online except when it comes to thoroughly poor users of conventions. Then, online communicators demonstrate a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Students, for the most part, do switch gears when writing in different situations.
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Did You Know 2.0

Scott and Karl have updated the Did You Know presentation. Here are their notes, with suggestions for using this presentation.

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Discussing K12 Open Content Textbooks

EyeGary Stager posed some great questions in the comments of the K12 Open Content Textbooks post.

Do you really think that digital textbooks, open-source or not, represent progress?
Why would we use these powerful tools capable of liberating knowledge and providing access to primary sources and expertise merely as a way of reducing the cost of textbooks? Textbooks are undoubtedly the most destructive technology in the history of learning. Why would we help maintain their dominance in an age when they are clearly unnecessary?

You can’t find good examples of open-source textbooks because it’s a bad idea, as is Curricki. If teachers had the time, courage and imagination to reject curricular scripts prepared by anonymous committees with indeterminate expertise, they would. What makes you think they will now make the leap to being curriculum writers.

I often take graduate students to a local book store to demonstrate that there are better books on every subject at a variety of developmental levels available in paperback and written by experts. Books and other written artifacts written by thoughtful interesting experts are much more desirable than textbooks, digital, open-source or paper-bound.

I have been creating my own version of a textbook over my teaching career, gathering lessons and materials that have been successful, working to improve lessons that have been unsuccessful, and work through projects in order to help my students to succeed. I have always been a curriculum writer.

I can’t say that I ever divorced myself from textbooks in my teaching career, but I was a big advocate of project based learning. In a way, I have always been creating and drawing upon grade and subject specific resources for my students, I just never bothered to organize, share, and open all of this up in one place, as much as I feel I now can. Sharing my own learning and collaborating with my peers helps me to increase the quality of education that I can facilitate for my students. Saving the money from textbooks wasn’t really on my radar, but collaborating to create something better than what we currently have in Ontario “would be” one of those goals. I don’t think educators have to work in silos and replicate programs, services, and lessons over and over again. It makes me sick to see all the duplication that is going on in education. We share minimally between school districts, we barely share between schools, and we do only a little better between teachers in the same school. Yet, in Ontario at least, we all get paid from the same purse.

I recognize that there are many obstacles that are going to act as roadblocks to a process like this. Educators that know how to edit a wiki, copyright of resources, online scholarship to draw from … the list goes on. I don’t have any answers to these roadblocks, but still I am willing to try. I have learned over my teaching career that best practices are not always easy and sometimes look impossible, but the end product is so worth the journey.

Other roadblocks, like the one Dave mentions in the comments of the post are quite true, not only locally but at the distict level, but need to change.

“Local school admins aren’t interested in/can’t justify spending tax money on producing materials that benefit the -world-. There has to be explicit, undeniable benefit to the local education group, and I’m not sure how to convince my local education folks that open textbooks are the answer.”

If my career path takes me into administration, which it may someday, I hope that I am not one of those administrators. Why has Education taken on so many elements of a competitive business? Is it really necessary to be that competitive that we can’t even share what we are publishing in our schools with other schools? Instead, it is better that we duplicate our efforts – again, and again, and again – and not build on the successes of our peers.

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