Friday, January 25, 2008

The "conversations" before Educon

So I arrived at SLA this morning and although the "official" conversations have yet to begin, one of the most powerful experiences for me so far is to be able to engage in conversations...actual conversations...longer than 14o character conversations with the folks who I have been reading and interacting with since next. I have finally gotten the opportunity to sit face to face, over dinner with folks whose minds I know very well, but whose faces I know only as tiny icons. What is most exciting to that tomorrow and Sunday, I will have the opportunity to talk in depth about some really deep issues AND have time to reflect on these ideas...perhaps change is possible... if it is, these are surely the folks that are going to make it happen

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Greatest Things I've ever learned....

...I've learned from my network.

I am constantly amazed and impressed with how collaborative the folks with whom I have connected with are. Earlier this month I watched as a 15 year old persevered in setting up his own "broadcast of the New Hampshire Primary Election. While the first 14 minutes are him getting the sound set up just right, I was so impressed not only with the quality of the broadcast but the self directed-ness, and the it was 9:00 at night and a student was, with his peers, creating a learning environment...outside of school....and this is why these tools pique my interest so much. I have had some ideas rolling around in my head since I saw that "broadcast", so I was determined to learn how to do this myself. Although he had a set of directions on his blog, I was having difficulty getting the sound to work myself, so I was even more impressed (and GRATEFUL) that he was willing to spend time helping me set it up myself. Students teaching teachers, outside beyond the walls of the school outside of the 8-3 day...

Needless to say, it was not quite as easy as his directions made it appear. He spent quite a bit of time helping me to craft the skill of ustreaming a skype call...I wanted to do more...I wanted to add the element of desktop +yugma + ustream....was it possible?

As I stated in my last post, I learn by doing--so when Chris Harbeck sent out a twitter wondering if there was a way to record a yugma screen sharing session...I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out these tools together. Sunday afternoon, outside of the school week, continued opportunities for learning...

Since one of my goals was to create and archive of my learning...I couldn't let this opportunity go without writing about it (besides, I promised Chris some good written instructions;-) so here is my remedial "digital immigrant" version of directions from my native Arthus.

Sorry folks these directions are for a mac :-)


There are several applications I downloaded for this demo
LineIn is an application for OS X to enable the soft playthru of audio from input devices. In simpler terms, you can use LineIn to play sound through a microphone or any other device plugged in to your Sound In port.

Soundflower is a MacOS X system extension that allows an application to pass audio to an other application. I used the 2 channel simple version apparently there is a more complex one that allows you to pass to multiple applications....not ready to go there yet ;-)
When you install soundflower it is important to remember
to drag SoundFlowerBed into your applications directory. That is what is used later.

Since 90% of the time my learning happens at home in my pajamas;-) I LOVE this application, all I have to do is open in and I can cast what ever I want, a picture, slideshow, can add special effects to video chats.

While you are at should get a yugma account. You can download a plugin which allows you to invite contacts via skype, but I didn't use that as you lose the ability to have a chat in yugma...

If you are planning on will need to create an account (and channel) there as well.

NOW, restart your computer as prompted and get ready to go....

Before you can start a call you need to set up some preferences....

  • Open system preferences and then sound preferences.
  • Under the output tab, select Soundflower (2 ch).
  • Under the input tab, select Internal microphone: built-in
  • Close system prefs
  • Launch LineIn (Applications >
  • Set the Input to: From to Built-in Microphone: internal microphone (or whatever your input device is)
  • Set the Output to: as Soundflower (2ch).
  • Click: Pass Thru & then hide LineIn.
  • open skype preferences
  • Click on audio
  • Set audio output to: soundflower(2ch)
  • Set audio input to: Built in microphone: Internal microphone (or whatever mic you are using)
THIS MUST BE DONE LAST and probably best to test while in a skype call

  • Launch Soundflowerbed (Applications > - it was on the Soundflower disk.
  • A flower icon will appear in your menu bar. Click it and a menu will appear.
  • Under Soundflower (2ch) switch from NONE (like in the image) to Built-in Output. (Or whatever your chosen speaker device is)
  • you may need to click it off and then back on again if you can't hear anything (this was the trickiest part of the set up I think)

YUGMA: if you have an account, you can start a session. This will give you a session # which you can use to invite others to share desktops

When you go to broadcast you need to be sure to set your audio to sound flower (2ch) as well

Well...take a listen as Chris Harbeck shares some of his thoughts about using these tools to push the limits on a partnership he has with a class in Alabama...think about how powerful it will be for kids half way across a continent to be able to work through problems the same space and time and have an archive of their work on which they can reflect. I have been spending a lot of time thinking through some ways this can be used to connect classes...

And my motives... I am planning on using this method to broadcast my session "The Connected Classroom" at PETE&C

I will be talking about web2.0 tools and how they can impact students...but would really like to SHOW the folks in my PA audience using Yugma what folks around the world are doing...Please let me know if you are interested in sharing through yugma with my audience some of the things you are doing in your classrooms:
Are you doing great things with...
  • wikis
  • blogs
  • skype
  • yugma
Have you done a neat project using Web2.0 tools?
  • voicethread
  • gabcast
Please consider joining my session Monday, February 11th 3:15-4:15 EST. I have started a GOOGLE DOC for planning...please share some of the great things you are doing so I can inspire my audience the way you all continue to inspire me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stuck in a rut...

So it has been a LONG time since I last posted...
Am not sure HOW I got in this rut, but I know that it is one that I REALLY need to get out of...

Today, after reaching the peak of my frustration level with the new network settings in my district I decided I was going to sit, relax, eat my lunch and do some blog reading...and this post by Vicki Davis Stood out for me...It was titled: Why I blog and Perils of Perfection and several of Vicki's comments really resonated with me...


I must admit that I've been suffering from a bit of perfection paralysis in the past week. I see so many things to write and as I've read several books on good technical writing over break, I see so much more that I need to be. I fall so short of things. V. Davis

What I think is the greatest challenge I have right now is not how much I fall short (and believe me I feel sometimes like I do fall quite short) but how much further behind others are. If I am going to be a model for others to learn from then I feel like I have to be on the cutting edge...I am constantly trying new things...but not taking the time to reflect....I have tried starting a journal for my exercise to improve my healthy habits..Folks say to me...3 kids, full-time job, I don't know how you do it (and sometimes I don't either) but what I do know is that taking the time to reflect WILL make me a better person both personally and professionally.
The other tough thing is that my life is so busy that I'm never "in the know" on "what is happening" in the blogosphere. I don't have the time to check twitter but probably once a day. I check my reader quickly several times a week and I talk on Wow2, however, as I have spent most of my life "out," I remain "out." V. Davis
There are days where I walk through the doors of my school and don't get to my office to put my bag down until almost lunch time. I am constantly running from place to place putting out fires, wondering if I am challenging my teachers enough or pushing them too far out of their comfort zones. I LEARN so much every day from my professional learning network and yet to sit and reflect on it all... is the most challenging thing for me right now. I understand the power of reflection...but I have felt lately a bit like I am screaming into the echo chamber and not I am not even hearing the reply of my own voice echoing back...

SO I am going to do as Vicki did...and examine the reasons that I DO blog...
  1. So that I can keep learning: Reflection is how I process information...and processing = learning
  2. To keep a running record of my learning: I can't tell you the number of times I have had a great learning experience and because I didn't reflect, it is difficult to replicate. I need to take time to really LEARN new things before I can apply them in my district. Hopefully reconnecting with my blog will help me to do this.
  3. Make connections: I can't tell you the number of folks with whom I have connected through blogs & commenting... and to build on that my final reason...
  4. To be an ACTIVE participant in the conversation.
To my faithful readers...I apologize for all of the the posts that didn't get written...The skype banterings while watching the PA State Senate Hearings, Arthus's ustream of the political primaries in New Hampshire, new tools I have learned. I hope I didn't lose you... it is my resolution to do a better job...just have to remember, I don't have to be perfect.

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