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Newcomers’ Caution December 20, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Colleagues.
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edmt faculty

Here is a photo taken during the first meeting of the year in my Department. It’s a beautiful photograph and shows us all in our new Teacher Education Department t-shirts. It dawned on me that all five of the new faculty were cautiously standing along the back wall. That’s 100 percent of us. A few of the tall ones were scattered among us but, without exception, we were on the periphery of the group – physically and metaphorically. Just an observation. It makes sense though. We don’t want to barrel into the front of the camera. To do so would be evidence of pride, arrogance, or both. So, as our careers evolve in Higher Education, we will likely move closer to the front of the photo.


Fun with Twitter December 7, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Information, Online Tools.
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obama twitter   For the last two months I have been playing with Twitter. For those of you who do not know what Twitter is, it is a kind of instant messaging program that limits you to 140 characters. The idea behind it is that you send out brief messages to your friends throughout the day just letting them know what you are up to are any interesting ideas that pop along into your head. There are also ways to the size of long URLs so they fit within the 140 character limitation.

I met several new colleagues at a conference in Macomb near Detroit just last month and I have added several of them to my Twitter list. These are the people that I follow are also two dozen or so people who follow me so that when I type a message these 24 people can see what I’m up to. It is also possible to have these messages sent to your cell phone as text messages. I don’t bother with that.

My colleagues don’t seem to be writing very much these days so I thought I would look around for some famous names and see if they are using Twitter . Of course there is a Twitter for GW Bush and for Bill Clinton but these are intended to be used for comic relief, a Joke Tweet of the Day of sorts. Instead I am choosing to follow several of the candidates in the upcoming presidential election.

If the degree to which candidates are in sync with what geeks are doing is any indication of how many votes they will get, the Democrats have won the next election hands down. This is an unscientific survey, to say the very least. I now follow Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, and Dennis Kucinich for brief Tweets from their campaign staff. I tried to follow Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani but neither of them had accounts set up.

Interestingly, Barack Obama’s campaign immediately replied and began to follow my tweets. This means that in all possibility somebody in his campaign is following all of the Twitter chatter to determine if there is any buzz about Obama. Presently Obama has 5,736 followers, Clinton has 145 (but hasn’t updated in months), Kucinich has only 37, and Huckabee has only 22 followers on Twitter. I will revisit this in a couple of months and see if Twitter numbers change.

Tweet me at mcveym.

Swimming into Change December 7, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in leadership.
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“The President has 100 days; you have 90.”

swimming   This is the premise for an interesting book on transitions titled The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins. I came across it while sitting in the natatorium (love that word) watching my daughter do length after length of the backstroke, crawl, butterfly, and breast stroke,

While there, I struck up a conversation with one of the other swimming dads. It turns out he is a pediatrician working in Ohio. It is a long commute and a long story but the short version is that he is in transition and is working on becoming a leader in his organization. This book was his personal homework.

Transitions certainly are an essential part of everyone’s lives as they change careers or move along in life and they should not be approached too lightly. When you are making a transition into a leadership role, you also must realize you are creating a change for those around you. Your new co-workers are figuring you out as much as you are figuring out them. The difference is that they know the invisible networks and the institutional culture, the edges of the pool, so to speak. You, as the new member of the team will inevitably spend time bumping into walls.

It is funny how we all find ways to test out the culture and reach out to find the walls and sharp edges. I use humor. I heave learned some jokes that work in Tucson fail miserably here. We learn, sometimes the hard way, where the walls are. I used to use that analogy for my students when I was teaching high school. You toss them into the big pool that is society and encourage them to figure things out. Oh, and the lights are off, did I mention that?

They flail about in the dark, in a crowded pool and don’t even know where the edge of the pool is.


It is only natural that they will reach out and push the limits of their space.


How else will they find the walls, the edges of the pool, the other swimmers, and the deep end? I tell jokes. Others quietly observe.


Still others dive into the fray, impose their will, and summarize the damage when it’s all over. I’m figuring out my own colleagues, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their patterns of interaction just as they are figuring out mine.


I think my 90 days has just ended and, interestingly, that was just about enough time to figure out the basics.

Skin on Metal December 7, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Colleagues, Hardware.

glasses   “How many pairs of eyes do you have?”

When I first began work as a Director of Technology, I would amuse myself by gathering up my network manager’s reading glasses from behind computers, under desks, next to phones, wherever you could lose them in the normal course of a day. When I reached thirty pair of them I just piled them on his work bench.

When you only have one pair of glasses, you tend to take care of them. When you have thirty pair, you become careless. Such is the case with IT security these days.  According to the Great Lakes IT Report, almost 40 percent of IT professionals have lost a handheld computer, zip disk, or memory stick. Half of the respondents copy secure data onto memory sticks and almost half appear not to have a basic understanding of basic security policies.

If each memory stick cost a couple of hundred dollars, I suspect we would be more circumspect about the information we transferred onto it and where we kept the little thing during the day. But if they are as easy to come across as a cheap pair of reading glasses, then there is little motivation to monitor them.

It’s interesting to me that part of the solution to IT security is so bound up with basic human traits and habits. In the IT world, where the “rubber hits the road” is where the “skin touches the metal.”

Elfish Greetings Pt. 2 December 6, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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Once again, you can create an Elf Greeting online. Better clear some space in those mailboxes of yours. This whole process borders between kitch and fun. By the time I have seen three or four of these I can’t stand to look at them. This time around, OfficeMax is allowing you to upload four images for four dancing elves. Have fun.


Barriers to Success December 6, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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IES   The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the report “Educational Technology in Teacher Education Programs for Initial Licensure” http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008040

This report detailed findings from “Educational Technology in Teacher Education Programs for Initial Licensure,” a survey that was designed to provide policy makers, researchers, educators, and administrators with timely baseline information on a range of topics involving educational technology and teacher education programs for initial licensure at 4-year postsecondary institutions.

 I wonder about the self reporting nature of the Colleges of Education. At my previous school, the state had no mandate to teach technology to pre-service teachers. My former institution would not be able to justify the statement that their graduates were prepared to integrate technology. What was interesting to me was that many institutions reported a variety of barriers impeding efforts to prepare teacher candidates to use educational technology within both program coursework and field experiences.

These impediments included competing priorities in the classroom (74 percent), available technology infrastructure in the schools (73 percent), and lack of training or skill (64 percent), time (62 percent), and willingness (53 percent) on the part of supervising teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms.  In my own experiences, there are a lot of supervisory teachers in the field who felt no need at all to discuss technology in the classroom as anything more than an ad on to the existing curriculum. The idea of technology integration had not yet gripped with ease teachers and these were the teachers with whom our students were often linked. 

To subscribe to the IES News Flash, visit http://ies.ed.gov/newsflash/index.asp.

Animoto Barnyard December 2, 2007

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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As my colleauge in England pointed out yesterday, Animoto movies seem to be all over the blogsphere this month. This service will allow you to upload several images then choose to upload your own music or use some of the artist tracks they have.

My wife and I, in a fit of hilarity deep on Friday night, used Audacity to lay down several tracks of our own version of Ukranian Bell Carol for a friend of ours back in Tucson. We used animal sounds in as dignified as manner as one might expect.

Not satisfied with the audio only, I turned to Google images and Animoto to create a 30 second video in only moments. My daughter, despite thinking her parents utter maniacs for doing it in the first place, also did not like the rapid cuts and the images jiggling on the screen.

I am hovering on the edge of paying for the full version of Animoto and the chance to make longer movies with a little more editorial control than the service allows in the free version.