Hurricane Katrina: A Retrospective

My good friend, John Dobbs, is a minister in Pascagoula, a town right on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He has written a moving post entitled Two Years in which he reminisces on some of the things that have happened since hurricane Katrina brought detestation their way. We must not forget the ongoing needs that are still down there.

Free Educational Software

My friend Neil Hokanson had an interesting post on his blog about a suite of open source (which also means FREE) educational games for young children. The software is called Childsplay and is available from Neil explains that Childsplay has “several games in the software that test basic math and language arts skills along with other exercises that practice matching, listening, and memory skills. The activities help children learn fine motor skills as they navigate the computer keyboard and identify specific number and letter keys, mouse, and mouse pad movements.”

I encourage those of you with learners that are under 10 years old to take a look at Childsplay. Please share your review of the games in the Comments below.


The 11th Annual Beyond Access Inclusion Conference in Memphis, TN

The Restructuring for School Inclusive Environments (RISE) Project will be hosting the Beyond Access Inclusion Conference on November 27, 2007 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, TN. “The 11th Annual BEYOND ACCESS Inclusion Conference is designed to provide educators, administrators, parents, and related service providers current information on the best and most promising practices in inclusive education. This year’s conference theme, “Inclusion: Mission Possible,” reestablishes the commitment of educators and schools to become innovative in meeting the educational needs of diverse learners through inclusive practices such as response to intervention, differentiated instructional approaches, co-teaching methodology, and positive behavior support activities. Participants will learn from other practitioners and experts in the field of education better ways of including not only students with disabilities, but all students, through effective educational practices” (from conference site). The conference has grown into a regional conference with approximately 500 people attending last year from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, and California.

Presentation Proposals
Please consider submitting a presentation proposal related to students with special needs in general education classrooms. It is an especially good opportunity for graduate students to present in a very supportive atmosphere. Proposals are due by September 15, 2007.

Conference Registration
Registration information is available here.

We Didn’t Start the Fire: A Brief History of the U.S.A.

Scott Allsop has taken Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire and created an educational video that depicts all the historical events that Joel sings about. Tracey Osborn uses Allsop’s video and takes it even further. Osborn created this webpage that provides the song’s lyrics and hyper-links all of the historical events metioned to related online resources. Wow!!! I could see some kids just going crazy with this kind of activity. You know they’ll even do this at home and come back the next day still talking about all the history that they’ve absorbed.

You can watch the video here…

…or you can also view/download this video (and many other great videos for use in the classroom) from the awesomely cool

What impact do you think this kind of lesson would have?

Throwing Out the Welcome Mat

Welcome Mat

I’d like to welcome all the students in the instructional design and educational technology courses that are going to be making use of this blog this semester. I know we are likely to have students from Union University, Ithaca College, University of Georgia, Harding University, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Freed-Hardeman University, University of Mississippi, and University of Memphis. I encourage each of you to jump in and become active participants in our blog community as you have a lot that you can share with us. I also hope that you find this to be a useful resource that you will continue to use beyond your class.

All the best,

Demo of an AMAZING New Technology

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo…Indeed, Photosynth might utterly transform the way we manipulate and experience digital images.from TED Talks

The potential implications this kind of technology could have on education are mind blowing. Off the top of my head I can see connections to math, science, geography, art, architecture, photography, mass media and communications, and language arts just to name a few. Then there’s the unbelievable potential for semantic mapping/concept mapping. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts about this. Please leave your response using the Comments link below.

Provocative Quote

“We would never consider teaching children to read without also teaching them to write. In the same manner we must teach our children not just to read electronic media but also to create digital media themselves.”

–from Ann Bell’s new book Creating Digital Video in Your School


I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on Mrs. Bell’s claim. Please share your response by clicking on the Comments link below.


Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize — much less cultivate — the talents of many brilliant people. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. — from TED Talks

Do you agree or disagree with Sir Robinson’s assertions?