The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Square Peg, Round Hole

Over at the blog today I've posted a Web 2.0 post entitled Square Peg, Round Hole about the inability of Web 2.0 to gain traction in K-12 education.

I'm asking this question, and I've asked for 25 comments.

What has been the impact of Web 2.0 tools on your school, your teaching or on your kids, at this point in time?

I've gotten only 1 response, so there's my answer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Maps Street View

From Google Maps Mania-Google has released Google Maps Street View for a selected cities and its amazing. Basically, load up the map, drag an icon to the desired location, and the window associated with the placemark shows a 360 degree panoramic photo of location which you can rotate. Also available are arrows on the streets so you can literally travel virtually down the road. Wow.

Check out one of my favorite cities, Las Vegas.

Those people at Google absolutely rock.

tags: google, googlemaps, streetview, davidjakes

Over 1/2 Billion!

Jeff Utecht's recent post about Flickr reminded me to check the number of photos currently at Flickr. Well, the site has quietly gone past 1/2 billion (that's BILLION) photographs, with 522,596,512 photos hosted as of May 30, 2007 at 10:18 PM Central US time.

That's amazing.

tags: flickr davidjakes

Friday, May 25, 2007

Flickr Storm Print Tutorial

I've created a Flickr Storm print tutorial to go along with the screencasts I've put at TeacherTube. Feel free to use it anyway you want except for commercial purposes-it's licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial.

tags: flickrstorm teachertube davidjakes djakes

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Want This and I Want It Now

From Google Earth News comes word of the Internet Umbrella. Yes, that's right an Internet umbrella. Here are the details:

The umbrella:
  • is wireless
  • is capable of taking pictures with a wrist snap
  • has a built in screen, a digital compass, GPS, and a motion detector
  • is capable of uploading images to Flickr, receiving photostreams from the same, as well as video from YouTube.
But here is the really cool thing. It interacts with Google Earth, so a user can walk through a city and see his/her location in Google Earth in the umbrella screen! This of course is fueled by the onboard GPS.

From the Web site, about future development: "As a future direction of its development, putting a context data on the Internet (e.g. geo-tags on photos), it will be able to provide social local-navigations, social local-ads, and real-time in-place communications. The product aims to provide an augmentation of everyday life synchronizing information on the Internet and the real place."

Synchronizing information and real place. Very cool. And if you want a fascinating read from Seth Godin, on Web 4.0, and his perspectives on the intersection of information and place, don't miss this article.

tags: davidjakes djakes internetumbrella pileus sethgodin

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Flickr Storm-Alzheimer's Photoset

I receive the RSS feed from for digitalstorytelling and yesterday I saw the first instance of a photoset from Flickr Storm being saved into and distributed by RSS. The photoset is on Alzheimer's Disease and was from the account of mmcoleman (I'm not sure if this person created the set or just found it somewhere else). Anyway, the images are outstanding and are reflective of a really thoughtful and creative selection process. They're a mix of a variety of Creative Commons licenses, but there are also images that are stamped All Rights Reserved, so I wouldn't use some of the images for a digital story that was to be distributed over the Web. But if you are familiar with digital storytelling, you can see the potential...

Imagine if everyone did a single, 30 image photoset on a particular topic, hosted on a wiki....together we could develop a clearinghouse of images for kids.

View the images here. What story would you tell?

tags: flickr digitalstorytelling davidjakes flickrstorm mmcoleman

Flickr Storm Tutorials

UPDATE: View this from my blog if you want to see the movies embedded in the post.

I've been using Flickr Storm with a group of kids at our North Campus (see previous post) and its been beneficial. So I've created three instructional videos at TeacherTube on how to use Flickr Storm. All are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license, so feel free to use them in that context.

An Introduction to Flickr Storm: how to use the interface:

Using FlickrStrom-Part 2: additional searches and downloading the image tray:

Using Flickr Storm-Part 3: downloading images for visual image projects and products

tags: flickr flickrstorm digitalstorytelling djakes davidjakes

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Now They've Gone and Done It

The Chicago Tribune reports today that one school district in Illinois is now permitting the use of iPods during the school day. Glenbrook High School District 225 (Glenbrook North and South High Schools) has instituted a policy that basically allows iPod use everywhere except for classrooms.

Good for them.

Conversely, the article mentions West Chicago High School in West Chicago, Illinois, who is instituting a policy banning all electronic devices because of fears that students are "tuning into the music and turning out the instruction." This comment is from their superintendent, Lee Rieck.

How about making instruction more engaging?

Better yet, maybe they could find a way to use those electronic devices in instruction.

For example, could kids sit in a study hall and learn Chinese if they had an iPod? Sure they could, with ChinesePod, which offers 515 Chinese lessons for the iPod.

But back to Glenbrook....

Now the most crucial point, and I wonder if they have thought about this. It will be interesting to see if the leadership at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South (you're on the clock, Lisa and Ryan) develop alternative suggestions to music for their students? Will their web site offer suggestions for downloading educational content? Who will be the first teacher that produces podcast content so that kids can listen to a lesson or test review on their iPod? Will the schools computers now have iTunes on them? And will they allow kids to create content for their colleagues iPod's? Will kids create digital stories for their classmates video iPod's?

Maybe kids will just listen to music. But then again, maybe they won't. Imagine offering new learning opportunities through the iPod, new content creation opportunities. All of this is now a possibility at these two schools. It will be interesting to see how the iPod not only changes the dynamics of passing period, but of classroom instruction and learning.

I know people who work at those schools. They're smart people. I hope they realize the new learning possibilities that they have just opened up for their kids. I hope they take advantage of them.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Greensburg, Kansas

From the Google Earth Blog and Frank Taylor comes the new satellite imagery of Greensburg, Kansas after that horrific tornado destroyed the town. The post has the image as well as the kml file for viewing in Google Earth-the town is just gone.

Flickr Storm

I'm currently involved in a round of digital storytelling with a group of seniors (Creative Writing Class) at our North Campus. Their stories focus on writing an open letter to anyone, from any perspective. For instance, one student is writing an open letter to the citizens of Earth, and the student is writing as Planet Earth.

Were using Photostory 3 as the storytelling platform and we're also using imagery from Flickr. Specifically, we're trying something different with Flickr this time-we're using a search tool called Flickr Storm. And the results have been surprisingly good. I would recommend giving it a look if you can access Flickr at school.

Here's how it works:
  1. The advanced search provides direct access to all the various Creative Commons license pools.
  2. Entering a search term returns two sets of images, with 40 images available in the top window and 80 available in the bottom window. From the look of these images, they are from the "most interesting" search filter available when you search in Flickr-I've always found these images to be the highest quality relative to the photography. So, kids have access to 120 images in a single search.
  3. The bottom of the second search term provides alternative tags for searches, useful for kids not used to searching tags.
  4. Clicking on any one image, enlarges it, and presents three options: open in Flickr, Add to Tray, and download.
By selecting Add to Tray, a small thumbnail is added to a vertical tray the highlights yellow. Here is where it gets interesting. Kids can add and add to the tray, and perform new searches and continue to add to the tray.

Then they can download the tray.

When they do this Flickr Storm provides a page of their images along with a URL (lengthy, but a URL nonetheless) for that page of images. This means that if the URL is recorded (see my search on sunsets), kids can reclaim their page of images at anytime, from any computer. Not only are large images provided, but the Flickr users screen name, the Creative Commons pool, and a URL to the image on Flickr.

Having the ability to save a search, with imagery and all the data has been huge for us. Also, using Flickr Storm has been much more efficient.

So, what a teacher could do is perform a Flickr Storm search, locate appropriate images, and give the URL to kids, if the teacher was worried about inappropriateness of imagery at Flickr. You could even put the long nasty URL into Tiny URL.

Now here is where it gets interesting.

I took the HTML of the Flickr Storm search image page and put it into a Web editor. I then stripped out the link to the Flickr page and I even removed the hyperlink to the Flickr user name.

Basically, I took out the ability to go to Flickr from the search image page.

The first image by Coreburn has the hyperlinks embedded.

The second image has had the links removed by some simple HTML editing. I could have done the Attribution as well, but you get the point.

I then experimented with saving the images from the search page and putting them into Photostory 3. They are fairly large, and they worked without bitmapping.

The benefit with using this tool in this way is that it gives teachers and students a safe way to use Flickr, on a couple of levels.

Thanks to for providing a very nice tool.

tags: flickrstorm flickr digitalstorytelling dst davidjakes

Planet Warlick

From time to time, I get an email, or see a post, from David Warlick like I did today. With all his travels, and his handy camera phone at his fingertips, David "enjoys" recording Jakes-themed locations around the U.S. Here is his latest:

As always, thanks David!

And how appropriate...

tags: warlick davidwarlick 2centsworth

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Un-Empowerment Mashup

Will's post of today, focusing on the attributes of a self-learner is a good one. In fact, very good. Unfortunately, it's caught me in a very cynical mood, most likely because it's May, and the Bulls are down 0-2 to the hated Detroit Pistons (sorry Michigan readers, but I know you'll understand-you can remember the angst of Micheal torching Ehlo time and time again, but I digress).

Will's attributes about self-learners are numbered, my comments have DSJ in front of them.

1. Self-learners
who are able to navigate the 10 or 15 or however many job changes people are predicting for them by the time they are 30

DSJ: How real is this issue for educators? How pressing? Do those of us in K-12 education really believe that anyone could possibly have that many jobs? In education, in our brick and mortar schools, it takes four years (in Illinois) to get tenure and have a job for life. And most do. And when teachers change jobs, for the most part, they change schools. It's the same career, but just in a different place. Maybe if we were faced with multiple job changes, and having to prepare for it ourselves, then we might be better prepared to accept the truth of this.

My sister, who works in the business world, finds tenure the most ridiculous thing imaginable, it is an absolutely foreign concept for her.

2. Self-selectors who must find and evaluate and finally choose their own teachers and collaborators as they build their own networks of learners

DSJ: In today's high school, there is one teacher per classroom, one source of content per classroom. Nothing more, nothing less, and plenty of unwilling (and sometimes willing) vesicles to install content into. There are four walls, the 6X5 grid of chairs, and outdated textbooks and notebooks filled with content lists. Choosing teachers is not yet an option, creating a network of learners is not viewed as something that is acceptable, and learning is still confined to 9oo square feet per period.

3. Self-editors who can look at a piece of information and assess it on a variety of levels, not simply believe it because someone else does.

DSJ: Content is given to kids in socially approved containers, whether that is a teacher, textbook, or the vaunted library database. We approve content, and they use it, typically for some ridiculous project such as a jello-mold animal cell, and forget it. Oh, and don't forget, Wikipedia is unreliable...

4. Self-organizers
who can manage the slew of information coming at them by developing their own structures and strategies for making sense of it all.

DSJ: That's the teacher's job. That's the librarian's job.

5. Self-reflectors
who are not solely dependent on external evaluation to drive their decision making and their evolution as learners and people

DSJ: Rarely do we teach kids how to assess themselves. How many times do we provide kids with best practice examples of what is expected of them, and then ask them to determine why indeed they are best practice examples?

Scantron tests, worksheets and quizzes-and an occasional essay written for the teacher-that's what we want. And I'm just as guilty-that's what I asked for when I was teaching. But I often tell my colleagues that when I return to the classroom, the area of assessment is the first, and most significant, aspect of my craft that I will change.

Today, kids prove understanding to a teacher, and the evaluation goes no further. Is that how it works today-your knowledge judged by only one person? Just look at the power of the comment feature of this blog, and that this blog can be read by anyone-anyone, and everyone, is a potential critic, a potential evaluator. I often tell people that blogging is the hardest writing I have ever done because there are a great deal of very intelligent people critiquing my thoughts.

6. Self-publishers
who understand the power and importance of sharing and connecting information and knowledge and can do it effectively and ethically

DSJ: That's what blogging can do. That's what digital storytelling can do. Help kids to publish, to understand that what they have to say is important, and that it is their right and responsibility to contribute, and you know what, we'll show you how. Follow us, because we know how to make this happen for you, and set you up with the skills, and the ability to learn new skills when needed, so that you can fulfill a lifetime of contribution....

7. Self-protectors
who understand where the online dangers lie, can recognize them, and can act appropriately to stay away from harm.

DSJ: CIPA. NCIPA. DOPA. Filtering. Blocking. Put the cell phone in the locker. And put away the iPod! Just like content, we've got you "covered." We'll do it for you...

tags: willrichardson will richardson davidjakes

picture by DSJ

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Real Question

Through all the discourse and conversation about technology that happens in the blogosphere, the question to ask is quite simple. Basically, the use of technology, or lack thereof, comes down to a single question, captured perfectly over at Dangerously Irrelevant. Thanks, Scott.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pushback 101

Today I was walking through the halls of one of our schools when I was called into a classroom by one of my good friends who was about to start class with a group of seniors. He wanted to ask me if I had ever seen a video entitled something like Shift Happens, which he received via an email.

I just smiled.

So we watched it and preceded to launch into one of those serendipitous teachable moments with the kids that we educators just love. And it was an eye opener.

The topic drifted ultimately to technology as a teaching and learning tool, with me asking about their familiarity with Web 2.0 tools. Some had read blogs, a few had listened to some podcasts, and only a few new about wikis, one had seen

So I showed them my account to give an example of how networks can support learning. The first question was:

"Why would I ever want to share my bookmarks with anyone?"

That prompted a thorough exploration of the network feature of, links for you, etc. They stared blankly at me, not impressed.

Not surprised, I decided to really test the waters with a discussion of Wikipedia. And of course: "That's not reliable information" came the immediate response from several of the kids. It was automatic. Reflex. Stimulus-response. Pavlovian, whatever you want to call it, I then showed them the school's page on Wikipedia. Is this false? You're experts on this subject-you tell me. No comment.

Well, that morphed into a discussion about putting a student product on Wikipedia and letting the Wikipedia community mash it up so that it was better, and then having the student turn that it. And I was astounded. "We wouldn't want to do that because then the teacher wouldn't know about our perspectives."

We write for the teacher. We write for the refrigerator door.

What about writing for everyone? What about sharing and contributing? What about tapping into the potential of a network to learn from everyone and not just the single content source in the classroom. Nah, were good-what do I have to know-tell me.

I showed them my aggregator and the feeds I watched-I could have been speaking Latin.

Another teacher who has embraced technology has become discouraged because the kids complained about too much technology-why couldn't he just lecture?

Well, the answer to all of this is that the current way is too comfortable. It's too damn easy. They're just used to the way. It's what they've always known and done.

At 15, at 17 and at 18, already resistant to new things.

What have we done?