Blogging As Therapy

It appears that “Many bloggers see their online journals as form of therapy“.

Mary Madden of Pew Internet reports:

Blogging combines two recommended techniques for people to work through problems: writing in a journal and using a computer to type out thoughts. Some bloggers say the extra dimension of posting thoughts on the Web enables them to broach difficult subjects with loved ones, as well as reap support from a virtual community of people they don’t know.

Read more here.

Sidenote: I write this as I wait in my car for a colleague who’s shopping at Staples. It’s great having free wi-fi from the store reach the parking lot. :-)

FSOSS 2006

Looks worthwhile for those dabbling in the open source software world.

FSOSS Call For Proposals

October 26-27th, 2006 – 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
York University Campus, Toronto

Open Source is changing the way we think about computers, culture, education, and even politics. We invite you to join the discussion about open source and its derivities, as we gather the architects of this change at Seneca College for the 5th annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium. The Symposium is a two-day event aimed at bringing together educators, developers and other interested parties to discuss common free software and open source issues, learn new technologies and to promote the use of free and open source software.

We are now accepting proposals for our Open Source Symposium. In particular, we are interested in presentations/workshops on:

– issues of interest to open source developers
– the state of open source projects
– licensing/copyright issues
– opportunities for participation in open source development
– developing curricula that uses open source software
– costs and support required to use open source software
– open source versus commercial software (Linux vs Windows, OpenOffice vs MS Office, etc)
– the broader social, legal and political implications of the open source movement
– other related open source initiatives, including such things as open learning objects, open texts, etc.

Since the attendees may also be engaged in wider ranging research projects, and so we also encourage proposals on other open source topics.

Presentations/workshops will be selected by the symposium committee, and you will be notified as soon as a decision has been made. If your proposal is accepted, you do not have to register for the symposium or pay the registration fee. Please note that we cannot defray the costs of travel/accommodation/etc for presenters.

If you have a topic that might be of interest, please visit our website at to submit your proposal (or to see a current list of presentations, workshops, and speakers).

If you have any questions/comments about presentations or this form, please email Robert Boyczuk.

Teenage “Repellant” Technology Leveraged By Teens

I remember reading a while back about Mosquito, a “youth deterrent system” which is described as a speaker system that emits high-frequency tones that are only heard by teens.

t works by broadcasting unpleasing sounds at a frequency that can be heard by younger people only. It has an effective range of about 20 meters.

Now, supposedly, some teens have recorded the frequency and produced it as a ringtone.

Well now techno-savvy pupils have recorded the ultra-high sound – audible only to under-20s- onto their cell phones, and are now receiving calls and text messages in class – without teachers having the faintest idea of what is going on.

This sounds pretty far-fetched but is based on a real condition called Presbycusis, loss of hearing that occurs in individuals as they grow older. Interesting stuff!

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Curriculum Is Dead

I really want to expand on these thoughts from David Warlick but just don’t have the time.

Education, defined by it limits, required a curriculum that was packaged into products that could be easily used in the classroom. We used textbooks with scope and sequence, pacing guides, and a teacher’s guide with the answers.

Education, defined by it’s lack of limits, requires no such packaging. It’s based on experiences, tied to real-world, real-time information that spans the entire spectrum of media — crafted an facilitated by skilled teachers, who become more like tour guides than assembly-line workers.

I’d love to talk about how this fits in well with my thoughts on openness in education … for now this will have to rest in my archives.

Climate Change & Propaganda

Coinciding with the Gore-led climate change movie, An Inconvenient Truth, to be released, corporate propagandists are releasing 2, 60-second television commercials focused on “the alleged global warming crisis”.

From Lessig’s blog:

So the Gore movie will at least give lots of good and appropriate work to bloggers, as lots try to spin the story told by Gore. My favorite so far are two ads released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (Both are here.) The first is totally empty and hilarious, with the slogan (and who could make this up): CO2: They call it pollution. We call it life.

The second has more substance, charging the biased media with not reporting the fact that there were scientific studies showing that the ice caps were in fact thickening, not thinning. That claim has incited a strong rebuke from the scientist quoted in the ad:

“These television ads are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate,” Davis said. “They are selectively using only parts of my previous research to support their claims. They are not telling the entire story to the public.”

CEI: They call it truth. Scientists call it lies.

Digital MP3 Players In The Classroom: Thoughts From A HighSchool Student

Way back in November, I wrote a post regarding my observations on the use of MP3 players in the classroom. Yesterday, I received a comment from a highschool student on this post, and it’s definitely worth replicating here. It reads:

I am a high school student, and right now, the school I am attending is in the process of trying to ban mp3 players at my school. I am highly opposed to this action for several reasons, mainly those reasons listed above, but others as well. I don’t want to seem overly critical of my school because I’m greatful for the education it provides, but my school does seem to have a problem with adapting to the changes of society and it’s youth. Case in point being iPods and other mp3 players in classrooms. The panel in charge of making district policy doesn’t seem to be able to embrace new technology and use it to their advantage. Alec seems to understand that there is a use for music in the class. From personal experience, I know that listening to music can distract me from other distractions. Also, it is much easier for me to concentrate on my work when I can’t hear everyone around me. I can zone in and concentrate. The people at my school opposed to allowing mp3 players in the class constitute the minority at my school. I can’t give exact figures, but i can say that over half the teachers at my school are willing to let students have there music in class. But the others are the ones who yell the loudest and push the hardest. Right now, I am writing a proposal to the school board, asking them to change their views on policy regarding mp3 players and allow teachers to decide whether or not music will be allowed in their classrooms. In my opinion, the decision of whether or not music should be allowed in the class should be left to the teacher. Blanket policies like the one the school board panel is trying to enact only takes away a teachers ability to govern their classroom.

So here’s a student who’s willing to write a post regarding what he believes in, and continues to push for change in his school … change that will benefit his own education. His telling words, “my school does seem to have a problem with adapting to the changes of society and it’s youth” hits the issue dead-on.

Good luck Peter! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the blogosphere, and I know there are many of us that wish you the best of success in your fight. We just wish you didn’t have to.

I’m A Mac …

I finally got around to viewing the “I’m a Mac” series of ads from Apple. Great stuff! I’d love to see these done in light of Free/Open Source Software.

Thanks to Heather and Rick … man I’m a slow blogger.

And while I’m on the topic of Macs, if you haven’t already downloaded it, check out the latest version of GimpShop, a Photoshop-esque application for the Mac based on the popular The GIMP application.

WebQuest Links

I’ve been asked to do a short WebQuest workshop. It’s been a while since I have done much with WebQuests, but I thought I’d use this blog as a starting point for my participants.

Relevant Links:
WebQuest Page: Where the WebQuest idea originated through the work of Bernie Dodge and Tom March.

QuestGarden: A WebQuest creation tool that makes it easier for individuals to build and host WebQuests.

iTeacherEd WebQuest Modules: A resource built by our iTeacherEd team on how to build and host WebQuests using HTML tools. Note modules 6-10 focus on WebQuests.

WebQuest Taskonomy: Useful ideas when thinking about how to shape your WebQuest.

Reading & Training Materials: Various information on the theory of WebQuests.

Searchable WebQuest DataBase: Search for various WebQuests.

SESD WebQuests: WebQuests from the Saskatchewan East School Division (likely now longer called this).

Energy Choices and Consequences: A WebQuest created back in the day by former classmate Peter Arthur which I often use as an exemplar.

WebQuests from U of R Education Students: Oldies but goodies.