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If you’re a true Wikipedian or merely a fan of the world’s largest encyclopedia, you’ll want to have a listen to this week’s episode of FLOSS Weekly with Chris DiBona and Leo Laporte. They interview Jimmy Wales, and he provides some interesting insights into the workings of Wikipedia. Good stuff for a commute.

Working on the 1-to-1 computing project in my school district has really opened my eyes to the power of storytelling as a learning activity. I’m delighted to present the first in my podcast series on digital storytelling. My guest is Joe Lambert, founder and director of the Center for Digital Storytelling. Joe does a great job of setting the stage for the rest of the series by laying out some of the “big picture” ideas.

Perhaps you’ll listen and think of a few questions that you’d like to ask. If so, feel free to email text or audio questions to I’ll work as many as I can into future episodes.

Download: STP-JoeLambert (15.6 MB, 33:45)

The No Child Left Behind Act has forced school districts across the U.S. to take a hard look at data about their students’ achievement. Lots of data. But some districts have gone beyond the requirements of NCLB and have embraced data and used the information to identify best practices and improve student achievement.

Dr. Scott McLeod is a professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota and a proponent of data-driven decision making. As director of the University’s Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), Scott works with educators around the country, helping them understand how being data-driven doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. We sat down for a chat earlier this week about some of the ways district’s are using data, how to overcome barriers to utilizing data, and some examples of using data that go beyond student achievement. And we even take a question from a “caller.”

Scott has agreed to monitor the comments on this post to dialog with any listeners who would like to follow up on something they hear. So don’t hesitate to post another question or ask for clarification on something from our conversation.

Download: STP-ScottMcLeod-1 (15.9 MB, 34:43)

Dr. Larry Anderson is founder and director of the National Center for Technology Planning, an organization dedicated to providing resources for schools and school districts who want to develop dynamic and effective technology plans. From their Web site:

The National Center for Technology Planning (NCTP) is a clearinghouse for the exchange of many types of information related to technology planning. This information may be: school technology plans available for downloading online; technology planning aids (checklists, brochures, sample planning forms, PR announcement forms); and/or electronic monographs on timely, selected topics. The NCTP was created for those who: need help, seek fresh ideas, or seek solutions to problems encountered with planning.

I met Larry last July in San Jose at the Apple Distinguished Educator Summer Institute and have been looking forward to recording this conversation ever since. Larry outlines some of the benefits that schools and districts can derive from the technology planning process, describes a technology planning approach that will be much more meaningful than the typical state-mandated ones, and shares lots of examples from his years of experience. This is a pretty long conversation, but there’s so much valuable material in what Larry has to say that I couldn’t bear to cut it down any more. Please feel free to post comments or additional questions in the comments section. I’m sure Larry would be happy to respond.

A quick production note: Larry and I spoke via Skype and the sound quality is quite good. He was using a headset mic and it made it much easier to set a consistent sound level, presumably because he was staying a constant distance from the microphone. I did all of the editing with Audacity which I am convinced offers the best combination of simplicity, power, and cost.

Download: STP-LarryAnderson (25.7 MB, 56:12)

I was driving home from work today listening to an IT Conversations podcast of Jimmy Wales’s brief talk at O’Reilly’s Emerging Tech Conference. Wales, who is the founder of Wikipedia and now head of the Wikimedia Foundation, was describing the growth of Wikipedia and highlighting the many versions that exist in languages from around the world. At that moment it occurred to me that the non-English versions of Wikipedia could be a fantastic tool for the foreign language teachers in my school district. Wouldn’t it be cool for Spanish students to contribute to the Spanish version of Wikipedia? That sounds like an authentic learning experience to me. Why didn’t I think of this before?

STP Episode #3

29 Jun 2005

Carlyn and I attended an Apple-sponsored podcasting event last night with my friend Craig Nansen from North Dakota. Perfectly timed with the release of iTunes 4.9, Barnaby Wasson from Arizone State U. presented for about 30 minutes about the educational uses for podcasting and provided a good primer for those in the audience who were still learning the basics. We also got a tour of the new iTunes from an engineer who works on the iTunes development team. We were all quite surprised at the tournout as Apple had to conduct two back to back sessions to accommodate the crowd who showed up at 9:00 p.m. for the session.

After the session ended I got together with Carlyn, Craig, and a bunch of teachers from Grand Forks, ND for a chat about what we’d just seen. (I didn’t just pick them out of a crowd. I met most of these folks a couple weeks ago at the TNT Conference in Grand Forks.) If nothing else, this podcast illustrates another way that podcasts could be used in schools. Teachers could create an initial podcast and students could be encouraged to podcast their reactions to it. Have a listen.

Download: STP-2005-06-28.mp3 (4.8 MB, 10:34)

STP #2

28 Jun 2005

Episode #2 of the Savvy Technologist Podcast is ready for your listening pleasure. This is a soundseeing tour of sorts of the neighborhood where Carlyn and I are staying in Philadelphia.

Download: STP-2005-06-27.mp3 (8.5 MB, 18:37)