Sunday, December 24, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 120b

Angel StatueNo real show this week, just me singing poorly while I wish you a Merry Christmas.

No, really - this cold of mine has my singing voice shot.

...Not that it was any good to begin with...

... I'll stop talking, now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 120

I'm giving up.

That's right, I'm giving up on Audacity. It's a solid program with some nice features, but it just can't top my copy of GarageBand. Purple tracks extending across the screen, how I missed you!

Hershey SignIn any case, I recently received an email from Lance Rougeux of the Discovery Educator Network. He was inquiring about how many DEN members would still be attending the PETE&C Pre-Conference in Hershey, PA.

I must admit, I thought about it for a while. As you may recall from my last netcast I wasn't too happy about the DEN's recent layoffs, and to be honest just thinking about it gets my blood pressure rising even more.

But as I said back then I'm angry at the corporate penny pinchers, not Lance, or Steve, or any of the others that barely missed getting the axe themselves. I consider those people to be my friends.

So should I pass up an opportunity to see them again, just because I'm mad at their bosses?

I was close to saying yes, but instead I asked Lance what was on the agenda for the pre-conference. He replied with what I should stress is a tentative schedule, just in case you attend and are surprised to see a different list:

  • Will Richardson1 hour opening session from Will Richardson

  • Hall Davidson's session Mega VCR presentation

  • Google Earth

  • Green Screen session using editable clips in unitedstreaming

  • Podcasting

  • Steve Dembo is either going to present on web 2.0 or more specifically about blogging

In that whole list there's only one mention of something they're actually selling, and it involves software that I don't own. (Or more specifically, software I own but cannot run on any computer I have, since they gave me the wrong version.)

Now there are only a few edu-bloggers out there that I would pay money to see. Will Richardson is one of them, and Steve Dembo is another. The only thing missing from this list is David Warlick, but I guess you can't have everything. (Sorry Hall, but if you have a blog I don't know where it is, so I can't call you an edu-blogger.)

And yet this pre-conference is free. I may not be an energetic promoter of the DEN any more, but this is too good an opportunity for me to miss.

LogoT20.jpgAnd besides, it'll give me something to share with that new group I'm starting up.

Oh yeah, about that group - it's coming along nicely, and already up to 14 members! It's no DEN, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Now if we can just pick a name for ourselves...

I know that some people might think I'm a hypocrite for starting this new community but not leaving the DEN. That would be true if the two were mutually exclusive, but the truth is that you can join as many educational groups as you want. I think of it as people who drink Pepsi still having an occasional Coke or RC cola if they feel like it. (Personally I prefer the "A-Treat" brand, but they don't sell that around here.)

I know there are many people who refuse to have anything to do with the DEN because of what happened. That IS one of the reasons I set up the new community, after all, But I know that there are also many people who are more than willing to be a part of both groups, provided they don't have to sell anything. That's the part of the Venn Diagram that I'm in, at least while I still have friends that are cashing checks from Discovery.

But I'm still not wearing the lab coat.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 119

CommunityThis longer than normal 'cast starts off as more or less a summary of my last blog post, but then I get into something entirely new - a new online education community!

Links Mentioned:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

DEN takes a huge step backward

Goodbye StopThe following is a response to a recent email I received concerning a decision the higher-ups at the Discovery Educator Network recently made. I tried joining in the forum discussion for this very topic, but for some reason (perhaps their server is overworked at the moment?) I could not.

So instead, I'm posting it here. Be warned, this isn't exactly a positive posting. Part of me is worried about what this could do to my permanent record, but then I think of how friends of mine are now unemployed and I continue.

Way to go, DEN! Let's take people trained as teachers and have them try to find jobs halfway through the school year because at the drop of a hat you've decided the personal touch that the Field Managers provided (I wouldn't even be in the DEN if it wasn't for Rachel, and many of the more technophobic teachers need something more than a web site.) was no longer what you wanted.

FarewellReally. That's a great way to show you care.

One forum posting mentioned that its now up to us to carry on, and I agree. It is our job to help out our colleagues when it comes to tech savvy stuff. My first action as a DEN member was to lead a workshop to get teachers blogging, so while I know I have more learning to do I'm far from being a novice.

And while we move to help our colleagues take little steps forward, DEN has taken a colossal step back.

I do feel the need to say that I don't mean to belittle the website in any way. Steve has done an awesome job putting this site together and I know its been a big help to many. Its just that the activities and interactions planned by the Field Mangers were in many cases the necessary bridge that got non-members interested in being members and members interested in being active members.

Since promoting the DEN was a full time job for them, they had the time to promote it well. You know what? My classroom lessons take precedent to being a salesman for the DEN. My Art Club, wife, family, and friends come before that too. The DEN was important to me, but it is far from being a career for me. Saying "Now its your job to step up to the plate" makes me think instead about taking my ball and going home. That isn't a response that you would get from a full time employee.

GoodbyeI understand that I might cool down after a while. Perhaps I might even see the wisdom in the direction the DEN is taking. (I've yet to see a worthwhile explanation, just some corporate lingo about shifts and moving forward.)

But I won't be wearing my lab coat any time soon, I'm removing links to the DEN from my blogroll, the next batch of pictures I need for a lesson will come from Flickr's Creative Commons section rather than unitedstreaming, and right now I'm watching the National Geographic Channel out of spite, if nothing else. I don't even feel bad anymore about my county considering a switch to Safari Montage.

I don't know if I can support an organization that can't even support the very people who helped to make it something worth mentioning in the first place.

At least I had one good year.

[tags]den, Discovery Educator Network, Discovery, mistake[/tags]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 118

Leo LaporteI was on the radio today. Leo Laporte does, among other things, a weekend radio show about technology. I had a question, so I called in with Skype and asked away.

I'm thrilled that I got to talk to the Tech Guy himself. Steve Dembo may have inspired me to start podcasting, but I wouldn't even know what a podcast was if it wasn't for Leo's radio show. I'm a fan boy, I admit it.

Mr. Laporte also netcasts all of his shows, which you can find in iTunes by doing a search for "Laporte." You can also go to to see his many, many netcasts.

You may not have noticed it, but lately I've made a bit of a switch. From the beginning I've used a Mac program called GarageBand to edit my podcasts, or netcasts, or whatever, and I've always been happy with it. I don't have the latest version, but what I have has worked very well.

And yet I've started using Audacity instead. Why? Two reasons, really.

Chris Craft doing an interviewFirst, I think my friend Chris Craft has been rubbing off on me a bit. He's seriously into open source software, and has been using a lot of it in his classroom. You can follow along with his adventures at,,, and I'm sure he'll eventually register

... um, I'm pretty sure that last address is a joke. I think.

The other reason has to do with the presentations I gave last month.

Audacity ScreenshotMore than once I recommended a free, open source program called Audacity to people who either didn't have Macs or didn't have Macs that were new enough to run GarageBand. That was all well and good, but those people still had a bit of a learning curve ahead of them. I had barely used the program myself, so anyone asking questions more advanced than "Where do I download it?" didn't really learn much from my responses.

So now I'm playing with Audacity for all my audio recordings. My last two Academic Aesthetic netcasts were recorded and edited in Audacity, and my new Art Club netcast is edited in Audacity as well. The students use an old Creative MP3 player to record their audio, so I can't give Audacity all the credit for that one.

I still use iTunes to convert the whole thing into an MP3 at the end, since I've already plugged my presets into it and I like the results, but the rest is done with a marvel of open source ingenuity.

[tags]Leo Laporte, Chris Craft, podcast, netcast, KFI, KFI640, Audacity, GarageBand[/tags]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 117

You'll notice that this edition of the Academic Aesthetic is not part two of the workshop I recorded a couple of weeks ago. The truth is that I have a few topics I would like to discuss, so I'm postponing the rest of the 3 hour workshop until whenever, or until people start asking for it. If I keep uploading recordings from the same workshop I think I'll start to get lazy(er), and nobody wants that, right?
Video ClutterI've noticed a lot of time shifting trends lately, and by time shifting I mean people getting media earlier and later than usual. I know more than one person who's decided to get rid of cable TV, since if they wait they can get boxed sets of just their favorite episodes for less than paying for the hundred or so channels they never watched in the first place.

(That won't be me, since my wife pays for the cable and she wants that next episode of Mythbusters as soon as it airs. To be honest, I can't say I blame her.)

I've also seen people who just can't wait. I could name a few individuals (You might know them already...) who downloaded bootleg copies of Star Wars Episode III before it came out in the theaters. They still went and saw it on the big screen, but it was worth it to them to see the low quality version first - like reading the last page of a good novel, I guess.

(I wouldn't know if it was worth it myself - I still haven't seen any copy Episode III, legal or otherwise. I liked Episodes IV, V, and VI much better than I and II, but I digress.)

A lot of technological innovations are allowing us to see things earlier or later, depending on the quality we desire. I think its rather neat, but unfortunately we don't see a lot of this in an educational environment.

I mean, sure, there are some teachers who podcast their lectures for posterity, or put their handouts online, but those educators are few and far between, and the know-how they need to get started can seem very daunting to them, even if it isn't to us.

PUWT06_01.JPGCase in point: A little more than a week ago I attended a very cool conference that was hosted by my employer. I had fun and got a lot out of it, but according to Technorati I seem to be the only person who even mentioned it in a blog. With several presenters, including myself and the Keynote Speaker talking about blogs, you would think at least one more person would have their own blog and mention it at least in passing.

OK this is getting depressing, so let's turn the floor over to you, shall we? I can tell from my stats that I have a decent amount of listeners, so here's what I'd like you to do. Go to my web site at and find the show notes for episode 117. (It should be near the top, unless you're time shifting a lot.) I'd like everyone to add one of two types of comments:

  1. If you have a blog, podcast, or netcast, give it a plug. If nothing else, it'll encourage me to read it.

  2. If you don't have a blog, I'd like to know why. No time? No web host? Worried about legislation? Think you have nothing to say? I'm curious as to what hurdles you feel you'd have to overcome in order to become a blogger.

And if you want it to be an audio comment instead of a text comment, you can click on the link right below the image on the main page that says "Leave an Audio Comment!" or prerecord it and email it to me at TheArtGuy (at)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 116

Part 1 of a presentation on blogging that I gave last week. It was a 3 hour workshop, so there's no way I'm uploading the whole thing.

If you listen carefully, you can hear my wife making a cameo. And a silly voice.

Oops I did it again!

Now if I can be forgiven for the rather lame title, I have two new blogs.

The first is hosted by Vox. I decided to check out this social blogging service and it's not bad, although there aren't enough teachers using it.  I've had it for a while now and  I think it just might replace Furl as the main place for me to post interesting links.
The second is on my own server, and is dedicated to my Art Club.  You can go there to hear what my students are up to.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Home Again

I'm sitting on my couch and enjoying the marvelous encrypted wi-fi filling my apartment.  I've yet to go through and spiffy up my previous posts, but I have some chores to do first and then I'll get right to it.  (And yes, this post counts as procrastination.)
In my opinion I'd say that the Powering Up With Technology conference was a huge success.  I think we had an even bigger turnout than last year, and while I haven't looked at my evaluation forms I had several people come up to me to say I'd done a good job.

We'll see how good a job I've really done when I actually read through the anonymous evaluation forms that were returned to me.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, home, evaluation[/tags]

PUWT Session 5

I decided to peek in on Rachel Amstutz's presentation on unitedstreaming and the DEN. There wasn't too much new information for me, but it was still good to get a refresher course and show my support. Rachel's done some good stuff for teachers throughout Maryland, DC, and even other countries, so it was nice o see what she had to say.

Like many DEN presentations, this was run in the form of a game show using some hardware from  I know little about the back end, but it really helped to keep everyone's attention since we all wanted to "win."

[tags]puwt06, puwt, unitedstreaming, DEN, Discovery, Rachel Amstutz, education[/tags]

Session 4

I'm blogging from the conference, so forgive any format problems. (You may notice that I skipped sessions 2 and 3. That's because I was a presenter for those.)

Digital Camera Basics for the Innovator Educator
Shiliey Upchurch

I walked in a little late because I was answering questions at my own session on blogging and podcasting, but it seems she was showing an example of how she used her own digital photographs in a classroom setting.

Hm, she was on a budget, so she bought most of her cameras from Ebay. A good idea for me? Maybe. I've been burned by Ebay before.

Now she's showing everything that comes with a camera and different photo albums. I'm a little disappointed that she's not talking about the different photography websites, but I'm glad she's showing all of the other things you can do besides throwing them online.

Ok, now we're getting into a slideshow made by a student using PowerPoint. Not bad, since I first thought it had been created using Photostory.

Now I want to go through all of my permission slips again. It seems she accidentally took a picture of a student that the parents didn't want photographed. Fortunately it only led to lots of paperwork, but that in itself is enough to be extra careful.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, photography, photos, digital, workshop[/tags]

PUWT Keynote

Blogging from the conference right now. I'll add the links later.

Keynote Speaker: Susan Brooks-Young
Web-Based Tools of the Trade: What Does Web 2.0 Offer Educators?

All her notes are online! Woohoo!

Most kids are using technology more than most teachers. Except for interactive whiteboards, but those mirror tech that we're used to.

She's equating tech use with driving. We teach students how to drive, but are we showing them how to use the web? How to IM safely? I'm glad she's talking about this.

We're going basic here: Web 2.0 is the collection of online resources that allow you to be interactive - she's including software and hardware.

She's starting right off with blogs, yay! (I hope she doesn't steal all of my thunder... I'm presenting on blogs in the third session.)

Schools in Hunterton New Jersey have abandoned their traditional web sites in favor of blogs.

Plug for Mr. Kuropatwa!

Plug for Will Richardson!

This is good - I can skip over this information and get more into the nitty gritty during my own presentation.

Flickr Account: sjbrooks-young ... but she doesn't have any public photos ...
She's covering Creative Commons now (at least as far as it relates to Flickr...). There goes a portion of my PowerPoint presentation.

We have YouTube blocked, but students in China, one of the most restrictive countries in the world, are using it in the classroom. Wow.

Here comes the podcasting info!

Wired Magazine recently rated edu-podcasts, interesting.

Plug for Odeo. I still like Podserve for my own hosting, though.

Social Bookmarking:

Plug for

Bloglines plug - there goes my secret weapon for my blog presentation! Looks like she's picking apart my presentations bit by bit. I can't complain too much, though - these are things I think people should know about and she's reaching a much wider audience.

I'm glad I left the option in my own presentations to stand there and answer questions. I may have to do just that.

Plugs for Skype and Wesley Fryer (of Moving at the Speed of Creativity fame).

AirSet - never heard of this site. It has a blog, a calendar, and a bunch of other tools. It's password protected so it can be a safe way for groups to interact online.

She has a pbwiki!

Nice, she just singled me out because I kept raising my hand every time she asked "How many of you do this...?" My ego knows no bounds. :-D

Plug for Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I've yet to use this program, but only because I haven't had a need to do so. I'm such a bandwagon jumper though, so now I'm trying to think of what I could do.

gliffy - not quite Inspiration, but it's free.

Create A Graph - takes data from spreadsheets and creates graphs.

zotero - research organization tool. I like the features in, I think there's some crossover here.

Plug for Second Life. I was bitten by the 2nd Life bug once, but I'm not so sure it's the best resource.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, web2.0, resources, links, keynote, conference, Susan Brooks-Young[/tags]

PUWT Session 1

I'm blogging from the conference right now - I'll add the links later. 

Tools, Resources, and Links
Cyril Pruszko

With only an hour he can't cover everything thoroughly, but he's giving us a taste and some free resources - good.

Sourceforge - Programs you can put on your flash drive.
Microsoft Powertoys  - Tulane Univ

OneNote from Microsoft  (Free for PCGPS teachers thanks to MICCA) (Gives credit to sources automatically.  Nice.)
SyncToy, GoodSync, or Allway Sync  (I still prefer iSync for the Mac)
Fsekrit - encrypted notes?  Interesting...

Picasa2 from Google - does a LOT of the most commonly used functions in Photoshop, including creating static photo galleries.  Of course I have a better gallery now, but if I didn't this would be nice to have.
CutePDF/PrimoPDF - make your own PDF files
IrfanView - Photo viewer

As can be seen above, most of these nifty apps are for Windows computers.  A few (Firefox, for example) are cross-platform, but not many.  I won't complain too much, since most computers in the county are running some version of Windows.  He's just presenting to the widest possible audience.

The presenter likes encrypting his notes to keep them secure in case his thumb drive or laptop is stolen.  It's a good idea - I should look into encryption apps for OS X

Now he's talking about office apps, including OpenOffice and all the new toys from Google.

Ahhh, security, my old friend:

Hosts file - - block unwanted files.


PDF Creation:


I'm just going to stick with OS X's built-in PDF creator.

He's going through this really fast.  He said he would, but it's making it hard for me to do much more than list the resources he's talking about.

Portable Apps:
Anything that'll fit on a thumb drive so you don't have to install it.

Aound Apps:
BlueSoleil & BitPIM: make your own ringtones

He mentioned Bud the Teacher, but then shot them down as being diaries.

At least he likes wikis, he mentioned Wikipedia, and plugged Wikispaces and

Podcasts and Vlogs:
A plug for iTunes, as well as

Pop Quiz
Quimeleon - lesson plans

[tags]puwt, puwt06, session, workshop,  Cyril Pruszko, tools, resources, links, education[/tags]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Presentation Brainstorming

I'll be running workshops on PowerPoint design and blogging (& podcasting netcasting) at this weekend's Powering Up With Technology Conference, and I am looking forward to it, but I just got notice asking for presenters at this year's MICCA Convention and I don't want to do the same thing as last year.

So how about a workshop on two way teaching? The concept's been around for a while, but there are a lot of websites and other tools that can help make two way teaching a LOT easier.

K12 Online Conference Presentation on 2WT (The presentation that made me think this would be a good topic.)
Two Way Teaching Wiki (As of this posting it's very sparse, but could grow if it gets some help from others.)

(BTW: I did record my last workshop, but I haven't gotten around to the post-processing on it. I hope to have it up by Sunday.)

[tags]blogs, education, wiki, podcasts, wikis, netcasting, micca, micca07, two way teaching, edublogging, puwt06, puwt[/tags]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 115

PUWT SessionThis netcast is coming to you a day early. I usually record these things on Monday afternoons, but tomorrow afternoon I'll be presenting a workshop on blogging so I don't know if I'll have both the time and the energy to record this then.

I am hoping to get the audio from tomorrow's workshop up on my site as well, but chances are that if you're listening to this now you won't be getting any new information from that clip. It'll mostly be there for blogging newbies - both those who can attend the workshop and those who can't.

Powering Up With Technology LogoI have to say that I really like workshops - whether I'm presenting or simply attending, there are good times to be had. Forgetting the fact that presenters usually get to attend conferences for free, workshops are one of the best methods for professional development. Why? Because you know everyone in the room is honestly interested in the content being provided. The presenter is, obviously (Why else would so many of us give up our time this Saturday for the Powering Up With Technology Conference?), and if any of the attendees aren't interested you know what they often do?

They leave.

PUWT bird's eye viewWith so many workshops happening simultaneously, the downside is that you often can't see everything you want - but the upside is that if the workshop doesn't seem useful to you you can always go to your second or third choice. Don't feel bad about walking out - chances are that someone else will walk in and take your seat before long.

At least, that's my opinion when I'm up there in front of everyone.

I must say though that my handouts have changed drastically since I first started giving presentations. For my first workshop I had a packet of photocopied handouts that duplicated what I thought were the most important slides of my presentation, complete with space for teachers to take notes.

Waste paperI know for a fact that most of them ended up in the recycle bin, because like a good boy scout I over-prepared and had a lot left over. I couldn't even save them for my next conference, because even if I like how the workshop goes I try not to give the exact same presentation twice.

So my search began for a way to give handouts without a lot of waste. I quickly found a service called Wikispaces, which is a free, ad-supported wiki service. If you tell them you're a K12 teacher they'll even strip the ads off your wiki, just in case you're uncomfortable with stuff like that.

I had a lot of fun with Wikispaces, and even though I now own my own server and could install my own wiki software I'm still keeping my Edu-Blogging 101 wiki on their server. I ended up with people from all over the world contributing to it, thanks to plugs from people like Steve Dembo.

But wikis aren't the answer to everything. My Edu-Blogging 101 wiki does a great job at providing a lot of information, but it IS a lot of information to go through during an hour long presentation.

Steve DemboThen I went to the DEN National Leadership Conference, and I saw Mr. Dembo give a quick overview of podcasting. He had taken all of his links and plugged them into a page on his blog.

It was simple.

It was elegant.

It was something I should have thought of a long time ago.

Oh, well. At least now I know a good method for getting it done, so that's what I'm doing.

At tomorrow's workshop everyone will be getting a business card with my web address. They can take notes on the back if they want, but on the front will be the only URL they need to remember - the one that leads to everything I talked about.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Creative Commons Video


The good folk at Creative Commons have "revverized" their promotional videos. That means if you click on the ad that shows up at the end, you help them make some cash.

Not bad, huh?

[edit] The nifty flash player was too wide for the current formatting of my site, so I replaced it with a thumbnail image. Click away to see the whole video on Revver's site.[/edit]

Monday, November 06, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 114

It's convention time!

Or at least it will be, soon. On the 13th of next week I'll be giving an after school workshop on blogging. If you're in the Maryland or DC area and want to attend, check out the details here.

Powering Up With Technology LogoI'll also be going to the Powering Up With Technology Conference on the 18th, where I'll be giving one presentation on blogs and podcasts and another on good PowerPoint design. Last year's Powering Up conference was the first ed-tech event where I was the guy standing up in front of everyone, and I liked it so much that this year I sent in two proposals instead of one.

Silly me, they accepted both of them.

Well, if you're reading this it's most likely that you already know about blogs and podcasts, netcasts, or whatever we're calling them these days, but do you know how to make a great PowerPoint presentation? If you do, then .. um, well, I don't have much to offer you. Go listen to the podcasts from the K12 Online conference instead - there's some good stuff there.

If you WOULD like to know the difference between a good PowerPoint and a confusing one, keep listening.

Good PowerPoint TitleFirst of all, the term "PowerPoint" is a bit of a misnomer. We often use it to refer to any computer program that helps us give a presentation by throwing text and multimedia up on a large screen. It's sort of like how some New Jersey residents still call every brand of pork roll "Taylor Ham," and how some people refer to every cola as "Coke." Microsoft Office's PowerPoint is the most popular of these programs, but you could just as easily use OpenOffice, Apple's Keynote, or any one of a number of web based alternatives.

Ok, let's get down to business - the biggest mistake I see people make when creating a PowerPoint is that they confuse it with Microsoft Word. Word is for writing lengthy reports, and if you shrink the font size down to 9 point font then those of us with weak eyes can hold the paper closer or use a magnifying lens of some kind.

But PowerPoint is meant to be shown to a large room full of people. If you fill a single slide with so much text that it has to be reduced to even a 12 point font to make it all fit, the people in the back won't see anything except maybe a texture on the screen.

Good PowerPoint Rule 1It sounds cliché, but less really is more in this case. I used to tell my students that they needed to assume their slide was a billboard alongside a highway. How much information could they put on that billboard without causing an accident? They could always add another slide if they wanted to include more information, after all.

Later I heard of something called the 6x6x6 rule, which is not as evil as it sounds. Essentially, it means that your slide should have no more than six lines of text, no more than 6 words on each line, and the average viewer should be able to understand the main points within 6 seconds. That doesn't leave a lot of space for stuff, but really your slides should be reinforcing what you're doing up there, not the other way around.

Some of the best presentations I've ever seen consisted of less than 5 words per slide, and in many cases no words at all. Why were they the best? Because they didn't take the emphasis away from the presenter.

And there you go! You're now on your way to being a better presenter, whether it's to your class or your colleagues. There's more to it than that of course, but I have to save some for later, don't I?

Friday, November 03, 2006


Thanks to a little help from Steve Dembo, I think I've figured out a sloppy way to record a Skype conversation using the free version of WireTap Pro. I'm sure there's an easier way, but I'm done fooling with it for now.

So the real question is: Who should I interview with my newfound recording powers?

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thought of the Day

One should not confuse talking to students with communicating with them.

I just walked out of a 1st grade classroom where I didn't say a word for the first half hour, but the kids still followed directions and made some great looking projects. I'll post a picture or two later.

Educators using Flickr

Quentin D'Souza over at spent some time back in September creating a list of Flickr accounts owned by educators. It's in no way a complete list, but it's sorted by age group (The age of the students, not the teachers!) and if you want to be added to the llist all you have to do is ask.

By the way, even though my own Flickr account is listed, I never asked to be added. Mr. D'Souza found me the old fashioned way - by looking.

Speaking of which, I should really update that thing. I have a ton of student art pictures ready to go, too - I just need to sort them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Google Education: Too New for School?

Flickr PhotoIn spite of the fact that he seems to be under the weather, Bud has some interesting things to say about Google Education (and to a lesser extent, Discovery Educator Network).

He hit several different angles, but the one that struck me the most is as follows:
Seriously, though. There's always someone trying to make a dollar off of a teacher or a classroom. Sometimes that's an OK thing, because they've got a product that helps me do something that I want to do. Other times, that's no good, because they're poor salespeople -- they want to sell me something that I don't really need, or won't actually do something for the benefit of my students.

Flickr PhotoI've seen both situations, as I'm sure many of you have as well. The reason I stand by the DEN is not because unitedstreaming is a great service (although it is), but because they seem to be honestly interested in raising the technological savvy of teachers everywhere. I mean, hey, they've given multiple workshops on blogging and podcasting, two things you just can't do with unitedstreaming's content because of copyright restrictions.

But they still teach it.

Google Education ... well, to be honest, the only new thing I've seen so far is their newsletter, and that doesn't really excite me. Google is in a different position than the DEN is in - the DEN makes money from schools paying for unitedstreaming and Cosmeo subscriptions, and keeps ads from 3rd parties off of its sites. With few exceptions, Google charges nothing. It makes its revenue off of its Adsense program - something it has managed very well indeed.

(The ads on my own site are from Google, although they're doing much better than I am, I'm afraid. I hope to someday earn enough from those ads to renew my domain name registration just once - earning enough to pay for hosting is a pipe dream with my non-Laporte levels of traffic.)

Flickr PhotoGoogle could do a lot with the tools they have, and in fact they are providing a lot already. I've been to more than one workshop that tauted Google Earth for virtual field trips or (what was then called) Writely for anything from replacing Microsoft Office to working collaboratively with classrooms around the world. I myself have raved about SketchUp and Blogger, and I still recommend all of these services.

But still, their education site seems a little tacked on at the moment. It's as if someone in marketing said, "Hey, if we make a page that links to all the stuff Google is doing and put the word 'education' at the top of it, we'll have tons of teachers visit - which will lead to more revenue through our advertisements!"
And except for a newsletter and a workshop that most people will never be able to attend, that's all they seem to have done.

Still, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Google Education is young, and we all know Google has a history of rolling out products that will remain in public beta for incredibly long lengths of time. It's a work in progress and the criticism above was made with that fact in the back of my head.
Let's check back in a year. I'm curious to see how they turn out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 113

In honor of Halloween, Here's a not-so-serious list of the top 10 scary things in education:
Flickr PhotoTop 10 scary things about education.

10. Due to the emphasis on standardized tests, local universities will look at SAT scores more than class grades. As soon as your entire curriculum is revamped so that your students have a better chance of getting into their universities of choice, those colleges will switch back.

9. Students notice when you glance at the teacher's manual to see what the answer is.

8. Digital Rights Management will eventually be so invasive that the only way to copy handouts will be to send all papers to the nearest monastery, where monks will take breaks from copying their illuminated manuscripts to give you 30 copies of Wednesday's math homework.

Horseman7. Taking a cue from Microsoft, your school's local tech support will start referring to your computer's spyware and virus infections as "features." And really, isn't that a rather soothing shade of blue on that screen of yours?

6. Due to the leaps and bounds in technology that have been taken by the toy industry, most teachers will be replaced by the latest RoboSapien. Specialists, on the other hand, will be replaced by Tickle-Me Elmo dolls.

5. DNA tests on yesterday's mystery meat in the cafeteria came back .. inconclusive.

Cylon Pumpkin4. It wasn't the custodians that got rid of those ants in your room. A colony of large spiders moved into your desk and they had to eat something.

3. Your Technology Coordinator has taken her first day off in ten years, and the network just went down halfway through first period when you were planning to spend the whole day in the computer lab.

2. Today's students will be running tomorrow's nursing homes.

1. Just when you thought you'd downloaded all your favorite educational netcasts, you found out that one of the files is incom-

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Caught up

I've finally read all of the RSS feeds in my Bloglines account.


NOW what do I do?  ;)

MICCA Blogging Workshop

Who: Me! MICCA actually wants me to be a presenter again! (I guess I wasn't too bad the last time...)

What: A workshop that will cover the edu-blogging basics as well as point out some good places to start and some excellent examples done by other educators.

Where: Greenbelt Elementary School, Greenbelt MD (Thanks to the accommodating staff there for hosting the event!)

When: Monday November 13th, from 5-8 PM

Why: Because not enough teachers (and administrators) have been bitten by the blogging bug.

How: MICCA put out an open call for anyone willing to run some workshops, and I jumped at the chance. They'll be handling most of the (non-education related) hassles, including promotion and refreshments.


Workshop Registration

MICCA hands-on technology training sessions are held at central locations statewide. Most of the workshops are scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please check the specific workshop for date and time.
Directions are available directly on the Workshop link. They will also be sent with registration confirmation by email. Workshops are a non-refundable $10.00 and should accompany the workshop form. All checks are made out to "MICCA". Registration will be confirmed via email or telephone. Each workshop is limited to the first twenty applicants.



MICCA Member

__ Yes __No Memberships expires: ___________



Work Phone


Workshop Title

Baffled by Blogging?

Workshop Date

Monday, November 13

Computer Experience

__ Beginner __ Intermediate __ Advanced
Mail Registration and deposit fee/ (checks made payable to MICCA) to:
c/o Michael Maszczenski
103 Little Neck Road
Stevensville MD 21666

Thank you, Mr. Richardson!

... for the best SAT question ever.

Students should know that we're still learning, and they should know how to do it so they can use the same steps.  (Or avoid them, if we're not really learning.)

Blogged with Performancing

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 Updated!

Firefox 2 has just been released, and I bit the bullet to see if it was worth it.

I have to say, it was the most painless Firefox install I ever tried. It looked at my Firefox 1.5 preferences and plug-ins and moved everything over except for one plug-in that wasn't compatible, and with one click it found an updated version of that one.

If you haven't tried Firefox, or you've been waiting for the next release, you should try it out now.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 112

Here are the instructions for how to move video from the internet, to iTunes, to your (video) iPod, to anything with RCA jacks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Am Legion

Looks like there's a whole lot of people out there who share my name.

You see, people? THIS is why I don't have as a web site.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 111

Download .mp3

Adventures with oekaki (otherwise known as forums that let you draw things). .. I haven't had any yet, but I think I'm ready.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

This is only a test, and I'm sick.

Sorry to get your hopes up. I'm not really dead, just distracted.

New podcast on Monday.


Edit: It seems I was a little too ambiguous with this update. Sometimes when I don't post for a while I put up a "I'm not quite dead yet!" post just to let people know I haven't abandoned my site completely.  The apology was because I've had people tell me they look forward to my podcasts, and since this update gives you nothing new really I can see how it would be a bit of a letdown.

The back story is this:  After visiting Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm's Harvest Festival last weekend (an annual event I try to never miss), I came down with a cold which I apparently still have.  It's not enough to keep me home from work (I have too much of my father in me), but it is slowing me down and I need to save my sore throat for telling Kindergarten kids that oil paints aren't lipstick.

I'm hoping I'll be back to normal (or at least my usual grade of abnormal) by Monday, and if I'm not I'll still have SOME audio for you.  I might even find a guest podcaster, but we'll see.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, October 02, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 110

Download .mp3

Web based open source educational games are harder to find than I thought.

Leo, Chris. Chris, Leo.

One of my favorite podcasts it Tips From the Top Floor, which talks about digital photography, and one of my favorite podcasters is Leo Laporte.

So I was just thrilled to find out that the two of them met at the Podcast Expo.  I'd love to see an interview between the two of them with more substance, though.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Few Good Games

I want to make my art club site a little more fun, so I'm trying to find some games I can add (among other things).

My Dreamhost account gives me unlimited MySQL databases and lots of space, so games that need that are fair game.

I don't just want to put any old activities on my server, though.  This weekend I've been trying to find games that are fun, educational, open source, and KID SAFE.  I've actually found a couple of open source games written in PHP, but one of them was overly complicated and the other one was not in my opinion appropriate for students.  (Although it was still more tame than any of the GTA games, but that's besides the point.)

So I thought I'd ask you, my more-or-less loyal subscriber base.  Do you know where I might find some web-based games I could host on my server?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 109

Download .mp3

Goodbye to the forum, hellooooo, photo gallery! Time to show off more art lesson photos than Flickr will let me do for free.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 108

Download .mp3

Today (or yesterday, as many of you will hear this tomorrow,) I talk (or talked) about talking tech.

Is that confusing enough?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Podcast Tonight

I'm beat.  I have an idea for a podcast, but I've already dozed off twice since I got home.  I'll try again on Friday.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 106

Download .mp3

Internet Safety is like safety with tools that cut. You can trust students once they know how to be careful, but there are some tools you just don't hand out to 3rd graders.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

We'll miss you, Steve

"I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message."

Steve Irwin

Friday, September 08, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 105

Download .mp3

Today I talk about how I want to do more tech literacy in the Art Club, but in smaller chunks. (The chirping sound was the AC. I couldn't help it.)

The voice in the intro is courtesy of Chris Craft. I dare you to send me a better one.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 104

Today's episode brought to you by the good people over at Hometown Tales. They're not exactly in the "academic" category, but they still make for a great listen and they inspired me to talk a little more about audio comments.

I also mentioned Tips From The Top Floor and Craftzine - both are awesome if you're into creative expression.

Last but not least, my intro was recorded by Chris Craft.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 103

Download .mp3

Even responses to other blogs can be blog entries, so why aren't you blogging, yet?

(Today's podcast was inspired becuase so many people liked the PowerPoint that Karl Fisch made. I had absolutely nothing to do with it other than linking to it.)

Send me an audio comment!

Post in the forums!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 102

Today's podcast is brought to you by the power going out. Did I have a "Plan B?" More than some people.

Send me an audio comment!

Post in the forums!

Vote for me!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 101

Are we helping other teachers see just how easy technology can make things? We should be.

Send me an audio comment!

Post in the forums!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 100

That's right, it's my 100th podcast! Woohoo!

I'm tired and it's a school night, so I'll forgo any lengthy explanations. A special thank you to everyone who made this all possible, especially you, the listeners.

Missed out on leaving an audio comment? Well, send one in now!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 99

Not THAT kind of forum...Download .mp3


What? Oh, sorry - I was just posting something in Chris Craft's new Open Source Classroom Forum.

What's a forum? Well, I'm glad you asked!

Forums are another kind of online meeting place. They're like chat rooms, since multiple people have access to the same space, but they're also like blogs, since what's written will usually stay online for a long time. I guess that puts them in the middle of the venn diagram.

Hm, that seems to be a recurring theme here.

...THIS kind of forum!In any case, forums can be better and worse than blogs. Better, because it's easier to find like-minded individuals interested in what you have to say, but worse because it's not your personal space.

That drawback is more of an issue to some people than others. If you post things on a forum that are too far off topic, or do something else that a forum moderator doesn't care for, you could find your posts deleted or in some cases even get your account banned. There's a lot less censorship in the blogosphere, although I know there are exceptions to that rule.

So which is better? That's like asking if a ball peen hammer is better than the traditional claw hammer. While there is some crossover, both of them are meant to be used for different purposes. I've found that many people who post regularly on forums also have blogs, and they say different things on each.

My sister, for example, is a regular participant in a punk rock forum. She also has a LiveJournal blog that she uses to communicate with her friends. While some of them are also participants in the punk forum, others aren't, so she uses her blog to talk about the random happenings of her life and only posts a little about punk rock there.

Dropkick Murphys in concertThis is for the best, I think. While I enjoy punk covers of popular '80s songs as much as the next guy, I've never heard of even half of her favorite bands. The Dropkick Murphys rock, though. You can't beat loud punk rockers playing Amazing Grace while being accompanied by a bagpipe player.

And of course forums aren't just for people with nonconformist hairstyles. Leo Laporte runs one of the best forums for tech support I've ever seen, Chris Marquardt has a forum on digital photography, The Discovery Educator Network has a wonderful forum for people interested in integrating technology into education, and like I mentioned earlier, Chris Craft has a forum on open source software in the classroom.

There's one more forum out there, but I don't know if you'd be interested or not.

Why don’t you send me an audio comment for my 100th podcast? The big event hapens on Monday! Time's running out! I can't stop yelling! Aaaaaaaaaaagh!... Ok, I'm done channneling Howard Dean now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 98

100th podcast in progressDownload .mp3

Yesterday I started editing my 100th podcast. It's not done yet, but I'm happy with what I have so far and I think you'll be too when you hear it.

I have noticed something, though. Almost all of my previous podcasts were made by me simply talking into a mic, throwing in some background music, then uploading the mp3. Most of my editing was done while writing the script, with the exception of the occasional moment where I read the same line twice.

But my 100th episode is different. I have lots of clips to play, including the ones provided by listeners like you. (Thanks, by the way. I'm still accepting more if you want to send one in.) Now I have to drag audio back and forth, adjust music volumes, readjust music volumes, wonder why those last five clips I imported deleted themselves, and of course import a 45 minute recording because I want to use the first 60 seconds.

In short, this isn't easy. If I had to do all of this on a regular basis you wouldn't be getting 3 podcasts a week from me, especially now that school's started again.

I suppose there's a lesson to be learned here. Just because you can do a lot of nifty things with a program doesn't mean you need to. Yes, PowerPoint offers enough transitions for you to use a different one on each of your slides, but will that really help your presentation? Only if you're doing a presentation on the transitions.

When you're working on audio, video, PowerPoint, or even an MS Word document, it helps to find or create a template in the beginning and just use it over and over again. When you're giving information to your students you should not be spending half an hour finding just the right animated clip art for your PowerPoint on Indonesia when you only spent 5 minutes typing up your bullet points. And really, that dancing baby just isn't cool anymore.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 97

This time around I talk about personal professional development.

Today's the first day of school for students. Summer vacation is but a memory, as now it's time for all of us to buckle down and do some serious learning.

Yes, I said "all of us." You may be a teacher, but you're not exempt from learning until you're dead. (And perhaps not even then, but I digress.)

There are many ways for teachers to expand their skills as teachers. There are inservices (well, at least the good inservices...), graduate courses, and more literature available for self-paced study than you can shake a stick at.

Of course there's another way, too. Remember all of the times a teacher has asked a class to write a report on something? Did that teacher honestly need to know more about that subject, or did he or she want the class to explore the subject themselves?

I suggest that we, as teachers, should all write reports regularly in order to help improve ourselves. Now I'm not suggesting 50 page papers on Mediaeval France, unless of course you're that much into Mediaeval France. Rather, I propose that we write shorter essays on educational topics at least once a week. Trust me, it doesn't take as long as you think to write up a single page of thoughts.

If you have a brainstorm and come up with several ideas at once, make a list and save them for later. I thought of two topics this morning before I came up with this one on the drive to work, but those other ones are safely recorded for future droughts of inspiration.

These essays could be kept private, but I hope that they wouldn't be. One of the basic tenants of education is the sharing of knowledge, and you don't need a doctorate to share concepts with your peers.

The only question is what media would best be used to share these essays with the world? It would have to be something easy to use, and something that would allow readers to give you feedback would be a plus.

I think I've heard of something like this somewhere. If only I could remember what it was...

Why don’t you send me an audio comment for my 100th podcast? Only a few more podcasts untill the big event!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 96

Download .mp3

After four frenzied days of preparing for students next week, teachers in my county have been given today off so that we might be tan, rested, and ready come Monday morning.

Well, I don't get much sun so I'm not tan. And I tend to stay up too late so I'm not rested. But I'm ready! No, really!

Much of what I'll be doing will be the same as last year, with me reinforcing the other curriculums with my lessons. The big changes will be in my Art Club.

The music teacher in my base school will be helping out again this year, but instead of something random every week she suggested that we put on a combination art show and concert. I was simultaneously thrilled with the idea and embarrassed that I hadn't suggested it myself, but oh well.

So while she's teaching the drama and chorus portions of the art club to groups of 15 kids, I'll be teaching the visual arts portions and having the students work towards producing artworks they feel are worthy of showcasing in the spring. With us staying after school two nights a week, we'll have 60 students to work with. That'll give us quite a large show, and I look forward to the challenge.

Another added bonus is that we have some money left over from last year. It's only $300, but that's enough to buy several half-decent digital cameras if you shop around and don't need 15 megapixel digital SLR cameras complete with macro, wide angle, and telephoto lenses. If I'm lucky I'll be able to snag some cameras that can record video in addition to stills, but we'll cross that bridge when I go shopping.

Why don’t you send me an audio comment for my 100th podcast? Only a few more podcasts untill the big event!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 95

artclublabDownload .mp3

Today many of the art teachers in my county got together for a beginning of the year inservice. Along with the free art material sample packs and lesson workshops, we also had time to hobnob and network.

HPIM2038While having lunch with a high school photography teacher, I shared with him my desire to expand my lessons that involve digital photography. He let me know that when his students use digital cameras he tries to get them to do as little post editing as possible, so that he doesn't cross the line from photography teacher to computer graphics teacher. (His school has one of each, and he doesn't want to step on his coworker's toes at all.)

brushesicnThis made perfect sense to me, but as I'm less an art specialist than a jack-of-all-trades, I don't feel that I need to stick to the same limits. To be honest, my requirement of aligning the art curriculum with other subjects means that the more circles I have in the venn diagram, the more likely I'm doing my job.

This also got me thinking about technology. (but then, what doesn't?)

techicnSometimes I'm referred to as an art teacher who's into technology, or a technologist who's into art. Do they really have to be separate things? It's my opinion that anything that allows for creative expression is art, and therefore fair game for one of my lesson plans. It's true that there's some art that normally falls outside of the realm of the digital, but scanning it or taking a picture can quickly change that issue.

writeOn the other side of the spectrum, I can't remember the last program or website I've seen that didn't have an artistic touch to it. (The BIOS doesn't count.)

I'll wrap this up with a question from one of my colleagues. Today I was asked if I'd ever considered teaching technology all the time.

I answered without hesitation:

"I already do."

Why don't you send me an audio comment for my 100th podcast? Only a few more podcasts untill the big event!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 94

I'm not from Australia.

I have nothing against the land down under, but I can't even fake a decent Australian accent. I bring this up because a recent posting on a blog called "Using Wiki in Education" gave me a nice write-up, but got that minor detail incorrect.

I'm sure the author, one Stewart Mader, wrote the inaccuracy as an honest mistake. This is unfortunately more than I can say for some others out there.

It seems that people wiping their feet on the truth are coming out of the woodwork. Wired News had to pull more than one story by a freelance reporter who faked his sources, Reuters got its own black eye thanks to some doctored photos, and don't get me started about fake MySpace accounts.

You'd think that at least textbooks would remain pure, with all of the checking and rechecking before they go to print, but no. I've used both art and health books (Yes, I taught health. My training as a Boy Scout and the son of an RN worked out well.) where I had to say "The book says this, but in reality, this."

This all goes to show how much we need to verify our sources, and how much we, as teachers, need to teach our students that not everything they read is true just because someone managed to publish it.

Just think - if we could raise an entire generation of people that weren't gullible enough to fall for spam, junk email might actually cease to exist. A daydream, I know, but hope springs eternal.

Why don’t you send me an audio comment for my 100th podcast? Only a few more podcasts untill the big event!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 93

In my last podcast from PA, I talk about what I intend to do with my new thumb drive.

I also briefly mention three good sources for video -,, and

Why don’t you send me an audio comment?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Audio Apology

Podcast buttonThis isn't so much a podcast as it is an audio apology. I don't have any ideas for topics today. Sorry.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 91

Download .mp3

I'll be in Pennsylvania all next week to visit with friends and family and perhaps spend a day or two at Musikfest in beautiful Bethlehem, PA. This doesn't mean that I'll be taking a break from podcasting, although I probably won't be posting the MP3s in the middle of the day like I normally do.

This will be my last big fling before I head back to school, and I'm really looking forward to this coming year. I may not have a classroom to set up, but after two years in the same buildings (more or less) I'm familiar enough with the curriculum to start planning my lessons.

I'm actually under more restrictions than you might think. As an Interrelated Art Teacher I'm not allowed to just stroll into the classroom and teach whatever I want. insects.jpgI have to develop lessons that don't just match the state standards for art, but also the standards for other subjects.

So my 3rd grade origami lesson must also be a review of fractions and geometry. Or when we use Model Magic to make insects my 6th graders need to identify the body parts by their proper names.

But there's more to my motives than just teaching cross-curricular lessons to students. You see, with four buildings there's no way I can see each class as often as I would like.

I need to find someone who spends more time with the kids than me ... gee, who could that be? Oh yeah, the classroom teacher!

redcross13While I teach the students, it's also my job to teach their teacher at the same time. Lucky for me, this can be as easy as making sure my student helpers hand paper out to everyone including the teacher. Everyone seems to love art, and in my experience the better teachers are more than happy to join in.

They might not repeat that lesson the same year, but the following year when they're covering the same part of their curriculum they might just remember how that crayon and watercolor project helped reinforce their lesson on hurricanes.

It means I'll need to plan something different each year, but that's OK - I think it's fun.

Send me audio! Hear yourself on my upcoming 100th podcast spectacular! Just click here and your web browser will use your computer’s microphone to send me an audio comment.

I’ll accept just about anything, including simple greetings or congratulations, shout-outs, reviews of products or services, commentary on recent events, or even plugs for other podcasts.

This is, of course, provided everything is kid-safe.

Think of it as free advertising that will reach an exclusive listener base. And yes, by “exclusive” I mean “small.”