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Pride and Motivation March 3, 2012

Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment, Online Tools.
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When I read articles expounding on how technology is increasing student motivation and pride in work, I always try to imagine what the same student reaction to excellence was like without technology. It doesn’t always pan out as expected. Last week, I found a booklet of poems by a wonderful student of mine created in 1985. I know she took great pride in it and took care to use what technology she had available at the time – xerox copies, hand-drawn illustrations, and a lot of work.

Students today can take as much pride in their work and possibly get their work into many more hands – or perhaps eyeballs. At the same time, would a beloved teacher still carry the electronic version with him 25 years later? Would the student have withered under the critiques of scores of anonymous readers and turned away from a literary career?

There are times when I have to remind people that not everything technological is good and that we need to remember the benefits to using it and peel past the hype.

My student’s reaction today, after a quarter of a century, was to send it to the shredder. She is now a newly-minted Ph.D. in English Literature and her work was not brilliant in retrospect – but, to me, it was a sign of brilliance, a promise of exceptional scholarship to come, and a memento  of a scholar’s earliest efforts.


Social Networking Safety July 25, 2011

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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My article on social networking safety was just published.


Technological Culture Faux Pas November 24, 2009

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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This morning I walked into my classroom and some other instructor had used a dry erase (not permanent thank goodness) marker on my board. My jaw dropped and I paused in shock at the outrage.


Okay, it wasn’t so much an outrage. It was a faux pas, like wearing the bathroom slippers in a Japanese apartment outside the actual bathroom. Only the culturally attuned would notice and suppress a polite giggle.

Once my sense of outrage died off, I realized that the use of technology was a cultural thing. Not everyone knows that this $2400 whiteboard with a projector attached was not a simple “dumb” whiteboard. I’m sure the abuser would have been horrified if he or she knew.

So I’ll just park this under the bathroom slipper category.

From Four to Three August 3, 2009

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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This just popped up on my blog list:

Arizona State University hopes to create a set of lower-priced, undergraduate colleges around the state aimed at commuters and offering the option of three-year degrees, The Arizona Republic reported. University officials detailed their plans — which they will present to the Arizona Board of Regents Thursday, along with proposals from other universities in the state — for from 5 to 15 campuses that would offer degrees in a small number of high-demand fields such as education, criminology, and communications. Tuition would be set at the amount of the maximum Pell Grant, Arizona State officials told the Republic, with startup costs for the first campus, envisioned for suburban Phoenix, estimated at $4.5 million to $6 million. Arizona is considering numerous options for cutting what students pay for higher education, including letting more students go to community colleges for three years and enrolling at costlier universities only for the fourth year.

EMU is relatively small next to large institutions like U Mich. Think we might feel compelled to fly in the face of our four-year traditions if ASU’s experiment is a success?

New Year’s Meme January 3, 2009

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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This is a fast moving meme and I was tagged by Morag in Saskatchewan.

Seven things you probably don’t know about me.

1.       I have a mad passion for the music of J. S. Bach played by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. This passion has been a part of my life for decades and I still cannot shake it.

2.       I have not yet finished reading James Joyce’s Ullyses. It sits on my shelf and calls to me. So I have taken it down and resolved to wrap that up.

3.       I have a Tibetan Terrier who is a great joy in our lives. Dalai, named for the Dalai Lama, has a name that reflects my deep interest in Buddhism.

4.       I never really felt comfortable enough to drink wine or beer until I was 50. I’m 51 now and those few glasses of beer I had were enough to last me.

5.       I once applied to the CIA and the Canadian Foreign Service. I got an interview with one of them but a certain large chinned PM froze hiring so I went to Japan instead.

6.       I was a Special Education teacher for 19 years in five different schools before I went on to Higher Education.

7.       I rarely use the telephone to talk to people but I text and am an inveterate e-mailer.

Not going to tag anyone – too much like a chain letter.

Chelsea’s Technology May 14, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

This morning, I visited the town of Chelsea, Michigan, to see how their one to one laptop initiative was going in one school in particular, South Meadow Intermediate. Scott Wooster and Joe Tinsley took me on a tour of the school while the kids showed me what they were working on.

Of great note was a shift in the culture of the school that had nothing to do with technology except peripherally. Scott, the district’s Technology Specialist, mentioned that the staff members at his schools are very tolerant of change. They expect it and when it happens they roll with it. This is perhaps one of the most significant changes he has noticed since he first started working with teachers. Joe, the Technology Integration Specialist, agreed with that assessment.

Even though the software changes, basic functions remain the same and the same goes with lesson planning. At the best of times, teachers need to get the content into a more engaging format. Now, with all the sixth grade students carrying laptops, they must also engage digitally.

Of the three major aspects of technology use Chelsea teachers experience, the most important are: 1) Moodle – it is used county-wide and primarily for collaborative projects and shared resources, 2) Digital video – students are doing all sorts of literacy projects using applications such as PhotoStory and MovieMaker, and 3) SmartBoards – teachers at South Meadow are using these tools in each of their classes and are most excited about using the Smart Notebook application for a more seamless integration with the laptops.

The ability of teachers to integrate tools with teaching is the primary motivating factor for the teachers in this school district.

On a side note, a Science teacher told me that she overcame her lack of technology savvy by advocating for herself in the beginning and asking for more time to learn the curriculum, then the tools. Eventually her skill set improved to the point that she is one of the most capable users of the tools.

Finally, one of the sixth grade students shared a great piece of freeware with his whole class and they all mastered it together. http://www.snapfiles.com/download/dlstickfigure.html will allow you to create gif animations that can be placed into a PowerPoint program and then used to tell stories (which can be narrated as well).

Not dead yet – podcasts April 15, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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Podcast   Our online friend, Tim Holt, had his interest piqued by an online article suggesting the demise of podcasts. http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/04/11/why-podcasting-failing

In the final paragraph, the author writes, “ Compared to radio programming, most podcasts sound amateurish and slow-paced, and the ability to find interesting programs is severely limited by the directories, rating systems, and search functions found on iTunes and other podcatchers and podcast-oriented sites. No wonder relatively few people have tried downloading podcasts, and fewer still listen to them on a regular basis.”

This is true to some extent. Without training in how to adjust sound levels, improving the pace of discussion, and helping the listener with verbal cues there is no doubt that these amateur podcasts are make for some hard listening.

I once listened to a language training podcast to buff up my French. Every time the speaker spoke a word that began with a “p” my eardrum popped. I gave up after podcast 3. I picked it up again at podcast 10 and the quality of the sound and even the delivery had improved vastly. It takes time to learn those lessons.

Read Anderson and Armbruster’s groundbreaking work on “considerate text” (1984) and you have the groundwork for a paper I am writing called “The Considerate Podcast” that explores issues related to quality, construction, and organization of decent podcasts.

One last point, I grew up watching American Bandstand. I saw it evolve over the years into Soul Train then MTV and it reached its apex (arguably) with some brilliant (and expensive) music videos. Heck, the latest Stones film is the latest example of what money and professionalism can get you in the world of commercial productions.

Nevertheless, at the same time, amateurs are creating some of the most humorous, provocative, interesting, touching, inspiring, and beautiful videos with a minimum of equipment and posting them on YouTube.

So I would recommend not comparing Steve Hargadon’s podcasts with Steven Colbert’s television show. They are different creatures and deserve different treatment and different respect.

Where we will be April 9, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment.
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I wonder if this is how my work will someday be viewed. Here is an image of a demonstration in 1931at the Western Secretarial School in which the instructor is demonstrating how a rotary dial telephone works.

My colleagues and I demonstrate to teachers the inner workings of web pages, blogs, podcasts, and other communication tools and their use in the class. Someday, archivists will dig up our talks and demonstrations and wonder how anyone could have not understood how these tools would be put to use in a classroom setting. I am sure our ignorance will be snickered at a little.

One could only hope.

A funny thing happened… March 20, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

Chicago   A funny thing happened while I was in Chicago. As some of you may have known, I was there to attend the Educause conference. There were some professors but mostly the conference was held for IT professionals in higher education.

I attended one session whose title was on the use of Web 2.0 applications in a college class. As I was sitting in the audience before hand, I mentioned to a college that I should really submit to present at this conference in the future since it was a topic that was close to my heart. Almost as soon as I said that, one of the conference organizers came to the podium to tell us that the speaker had not yet checked in and might not be able to present at all.

One brave soul took to the stage and began to talk about the use of del.icio.us in her classes and five minutes later, I was on the stage with my own PowerPoint in hand ready to talk about all the different ways tools like del.icio.us, Flickr, and blogs could be used through a Ning site. Of course, I walked everybody through our DC trip website.

The impromptu talk went over very well in the audience was most impressed with the work that you put in to the website. They have never seen del.icio.us tags being used in that manner, some of them had never heard of Voicethread before, and most did not know that you could put a photo stream directly from Flickr onto a website like this.

The audience appeared to learn something and I think they were delighted that it was an unscheduled talk. Because it was unscheduled we were all relaxed and at ease.

Immediately after the talk, I received invitations to speak in Wisconsin and Illinois at small colleges in those states. So I guess the moral is that you should always be prepared.

My First Election March 11, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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iste   Today I cast a vote for myself in an election for the ISTE Board of Directors – Teacher Education Representative. The election lasts until April 11. In reading my Guiding Vision statements, not available unless you belong to ISTE, I come off sounding a little edgy and pushy, but perhaps I am just a little sensitive.

If elected, I will be attending more planning meetings with ISTE and assist in the direction the organization is moving. It also means I will be spending more time at the annual conferences. This year’s is in San Antonio and next year it is in Washington, DC.

Sorry to be so brief, but I have had a lot on my plate. I pledge to inform this blog with insights from behind the scenes of an international educational technology organization.