Archives For Blogging

Uses of weblog technology in the educational world

WordPress upgrade

19 Feb 2007

It was long overdue. I’d been using the very old WP 1.5.x series forever and I finally took the morning on Saturday to upgrade my blog to the shiny new 2.1 series. Wow, lots of cool new stuff here.

I love the use of AJAX in the admin interface, particularly the drag and drop way to arrange WordPress “widgets” in the sidebar. I’ve been playing with different themes and haven’t settled on one I really like yet. The clock sure seems to move quickly while one is searching for and testing new blog themes!

A professor of mine, Dr. Scott McLeod, was apparently bitten by the blogging bug recently and has started a great new blog called Dangerously Irrelevant about educational technology leadership. This blog was long overdue because Scott is never short on opinions and he has an approachable, thought-provoking way of presenting them.

I was talking to Scott on the phone recently asking him about which professional organizations were doing good work on behalf of people like me—tech directors in medium-sized schools. It doesn’t sound like there’s much out there. ISTE is heavy on the instructional side and CoSN seems to cater to really big districts. I’d be curious to know what professional organizations that other ed tech leaders find useful.

I haven’t posted much this summer. I guess it’s a combination of a new job, a good bit of travel, and a general need to take a bit of a break. As I consider getting back to it I find myself conflicted about my “beat.” This blog isn’t too focused anyway, but I’ve largely stayed away from the IT side of educational technology and focused more on the curriculum side instead. My new job as a Director of Technology means that I’m doing a lot more IT work than I used to. As a result, most of my thoughts about technology lately have had more to do with servers, software, and tech support.

So what does it mean to have a “successful” blog? Is it the number of readers? The personal reflection that happens in the writing process? There’s no one answer, of course, but part of the measure for me is my perception that what I write here is useful to the people who read it. (Except for my mom. She’d probably read this if I blogged about early 20th century monetary policy.) I hope that I can write about IT and technology in the curriculum and avoid alienating readers.

I guess I’ll take the chance. So stick with me as I add the geeky filling to the curriculum crust. I hope it will turn out to be a delicious combination.

I had a great time on Thursday afternoon recording an episode of my podcast in front of a live audience.

My first guest was Sonny Portacio, geocacher and Director of Technology for the Escondido Union High School District. Sonny has been doing a ton of work with geocaching lately. He’s created a wiki site for collecting lesson ideas at and a weekly geocaching podcast at We talked about geocaching and how it can be used in schools.

I also talked to Jeff Utecht of The Thinking Stick blog and Utecht Tips. Jeff has been teaching in Shanghai, China for the last year and we talked about the state of blogging in China and how he’s using blogging with his students there.

All in all I had a great time recording the podcast. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to watch and participate.

Download: The Savvy Technologist Live! (17.1 MB, 37:17)

I had a great time presenting at NECC on Wednesday. I captured the audio (albeit in a low-quality version) and attached my Keynote slides as an enhanced podcast. I’m also linking to a pure audio MP3 version in case your computer can’t handle AAC-encoded media.

I posted the links for my talk previously, so please have a look there for details.

Download enhanced podcast with Keynote slides: Introducing the Read/Write Web (27.7 MB, 56:32)

Download audio-only MP3: Introducing the Read/Write Web (25.8 MB)

necc, necc06, necc2006, web2.0, wikipedia

Here in San Diego

4 Jul 2006

My family and I arrived in San Diego last night, and I’m busily putting the final touches on my presentations for this year’s NECC. If you’re interested in seeing a session that I’ll be doing, check out one of the following:

  • Introducing the Read/Write Web: Challenges, Opportunities, and Implications, July 5, 2:00–3:00, Room 6D
  • Learning To Go: The iPod in Education (workshop), July 6, 8:30–11:30, Room 15B
  • Savvy Technologist Podcast, July 6, 5:00–6:00, Room 31B
  • Making Podcasts in the Classroom, every day, Apple booth

I doubt I’ll be making it to many other sessions this year. Stop by and say hello.

necc, necc2006, apple, ipod

I’m trying to decide what blogging platform to use for a small- to medium-sized project. This won’t be students blogging, but staff members who I will be encouraging to blog about what’s going on in the school district. (I was quite inspired by the blogging panel at NSBA that featured a superintendent and a couple school board members blogging. We recorded a conversation afterwards that became Ed Tech Coast to Coast #8.)

I use and love WordPress, but it just doesn’t cut it when you’ve got more than a handful of users blogging. You have to maintain a separate instance of WordPress for each blog and it just doesn’t scale. Other contenders include: MovableType, Drupal, ELGG, and Blojsom (built into OS X server). As expected, each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Scalable, robust, LDAP support appears to be an add-on, not free
Scalable, robust, LDAP support, does way more than blogging which may be overly complicated for the task at hand, free
Not a lot of experience with this, definitely has LDAP support, tied in with a larger learning environment which isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, free
Needs an OS X server unless you’re running it on its own, ties into Open Directory, scalable, user-friendly, limited features in the OS X bundled version.

It seems at this point that MovableType and Drupal have the edge. It’s coming down to ease-of-use and LDAP authentication support. Unfortunately, those considerations point in different directions at this point. I’d gladly entertain reader suggestions. 🙂

movabletype, drupal, elgg, blojsom

I had the privilege of participating in a Web 2.0 panel discussion sponsored by the Digital Media Center at the U. of Minnesota recently. My fellow panelists were David Ernst from the College of Education, Shane Nackerud from the U. library, and Clancy Ratliff from the Department of Rhetoric.

Dave introduced the topic, Shane showed and demonstrated UThink, and Clancy covered social bookmarking. My role was to give the professors and others in attendance a glimpse at the kind of work that’s being done in the K–12 world by students who will be theirs very shortly. I showed the Hopkins Moodle site and some student podcasts.

If you’ve got about an hour to kill, you can watch the whole thing as an archived Breeze presentation. (I believe the Flash plug-in is the only requirement to watch it.)

web2.0, uthink, uofmn, umn, breeze