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]