Sunday, May 30, 2010

Live Video Feed of Oil Gushing in the Gulf of Mexico

. . .  and the oil just keeps flowing.

On April 20, 2010 a deep-water oil well blowout caused a catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Offshore oil drilling platform. Located about 40 miles southeast of Louisiana, the explosion kill 11 workers and injured 17 others.

In September, 2009, the Horizon Offshore platform drilled the deepest oil well in history with a vertical depth of 35,050 feet.  (5,000 feet to the bottom and then another 30,000 into the earth) Conversely, Mount Everest is 29,000 feet and passenger commercial jets fly between 32,000 to 40,000 feet in the sky.

While BP and NOAA have stated that about 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) were leaking per day, this video had enabled experts to estimate that the leak at over 1,000,000 gallons (23,810 barrels) are leaking per day. 

British Petroleum (BP) had tried a variety of solutions:
Top Kill - The most recent response was pumping heavy drilling mud into the oil spout 5,000 feet below the surface.  As of May 29, BP admitted that Top Kill has failed.

I have been looking for a list of each of the solutions already tried.  I remember that they tried burning the floating oil and use dispersants to break-up the oil.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find such a list.  Do you know of one?

What do you think should be done about this problem?  What will be the outcome of the disaster?

Photo: NASA

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 TED Talks about Education and Learning

The TED Talks is a conference that covers for Technology, Education and Design. This is the opportunity for some of the greatest minds on the planet to get together to share their visions, accomplishments, and ideas. It began as a single event in 1984 and turned into an annual event in 1990.

Since 1990, TED has accrued hundreds of videos of these <18 minute presentations. I must admit that I like to watch these more than anything I can find on TV (except maybe West Wing). These videos range from education to architecture to global warming to world hunger to ????  The list seems endless.  They continually challenge your ideas and give birth to new ones.
Over the past couple of years, TED conferences have been held around the world. These are called TEDx conferences. As of 2010, there have been at least 60 of these TEDx conferences held. India, New York, Rotterdam, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, Tokyo, Shanghai, Des Moines have all been venues for a TEDx event. (Here is an ever-increasing list of these events) I even heard a rumor that recently, when a group of creative people were stranded in the Heathrow Airport in London because of Icelandic volcanos, they even presented an impromptu TEDx. Don't know if there were any videos taken of that but it would have been interesting.  NOTE: Robin Galloway noted in the comments (see below) that the Heathrow TED was called TEDxVolcano and that the videos can be found on the TED Blog.

Notice that I mentioned Des Moines, Iowa as a site for a TEDx. On May 16, 2010, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first TEDx in Des Moines. As you can see from the list on their website, we had Superintendent Carver, Christian Renaud, Dr. Sue Savage Rumbaugh (see below), Fernando Aveiga, and Charlie Wittmack & Andy Stoll.  I will do a more complete report on this when they get their videos online.
Here are some videos about education and learning that I wanted to share with you. There are many more in this field that I liked and I will share them at a later date, but this is the beginning of a series.
Apes by Dr. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh
You will notice that I am beginning with a video on Apes. This doesn't have much to do with schools, but it has a great deal to do with learning. Consider what you are seeing and what it says about the learning process in both human and non-human primates.
Schools Kill Our Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Robinson is a strong proponent of rethinking school.  He doesn't propose that we should update it. He believes that is should be completely redone to nurture instead of destroy our children's creativity.
Bring on the Learning Revolution by Sir Ken Robinson
Continuing with his revolutionary perspective, Sir Robinson, advocates nurturing students' strengths.

What Adults Can Learn from Kids by Adora Svitak
A 12-year old lecturing adults to take children more seriously. Adora has been lecturing since she was 7 years old and lectures throughout the world about life from a child's perspective.

Life Lessons Through Tinkering by Gever Tulley
Learning doesn't have to be about books. A great deal of learning has to do with developing ideas and turning them into reality by tinkering.
True Success by John Wooden
The winningest basketball coach in history, John Wooden shares his definitions of success and learning.

I hope that you have enjoyed these videos.  What are your favorite TED talks?  What should I be watching?


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Does Adobe Connect Connect in Class?

Well, I held my first class using Adobe Connect this evening. It was a pretty good experience. We were able to gather 13 of use with cameras and a couple that only had an audio connection with the gang. The interactive quality was OK. We had about a 2 second delay between what we said and when everyone else heard it. Admittedly this may have been a stretch on the throughput from house to house throughout Iowa, but it was a bit aggravating at times.

We began the session by giving each student audio and video access and having them figure out how to connect their camera and mic and brain at the same time.  They had to remember to press the little Talk button in the lower left corner.

The question is will Adobe Connect replace the Iowa Communications Network which is the face-to-face video conferencing system that I have been teaching on for the past 16 years?

Adobe Connect has some advantages:
  • Students can connect from their homes.
  • All of the students can be available at once (assuming that you have the bandwidth).
  • The recordings are automatically digital and immediately available.
  • By definition, all of the students will have internet access so we won't have to worry about sites where the schools have locked up the internet access or the sites we want to use are blocked.
  • While the ICN has its flaws; when it worked - it worked well and there was a good connection between sites.
  • Access is not dependent upon the school's custodian to open the door.
  • The cost is almost free.
Adobe Connect has some disadvantages compared with the ICN:
  • Students who shared sites with other people often developed a collegial atmosphere.
  • All students are geographically alone.
  • The audio and video seemed sporatic.
  • Adobe Connect was a bit clumsy and not intuitive in many of the actions I had to take to make the connections and interactions.
 I have a long way to go to master using Adobe Connect in my classes.  I like how I can have set up an ongoing meeting where we can always at the spur of the moment.  I still don't think that Adobe Connect is easy enough for the typical teacher to feel comfortable.  It can be learned but there are a number of things that can be done to make it easier to use.

I hope that Adobe finds this posting and asks me for some suggestions about how to improve their interface.  I think that I would like to have such a tool available for my students to use to communicate with one another as well as with me.  I think that it can be an empowering tool, but it has a ways to go.

What do you think?  What are your experiences?


Skyping Guests into an ICN Room

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Friday, May 14, 2010

People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it - Simon Sinek

The sun is out and the skies are clear.  This means that I can walk to school and enjoy life. My favorite part of walking to school is listening to my iPod Touch as I travel. Lately I have been listening to the TED Talks presentations. I have arranged my Synching settings so that every time that I synch, it will place another set of 10 unheard TED Talk presentations on my iPod.

I will NEVER run out of TED Talks presentations this way!!!

Anywho, I had the pleasure of listening to Simon Sinek's Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action presentation. In this presentation, Simon explores his research into why some companies lead and some follow. He talks about his Golden Circle.

He uses the Golden Circle to describe how some organizations are able to lead while others are not. He states that the followers in a field move from the outside inward. They emphasize What they do and How they do it. Leaders in the field begin with Why they do it, How they do it and What they do.

You MUST watch this 18-minute video. I have watched it about 5 times now and am finding that I am applying it to everything that I do.  I am working on a grant with top-notch team of experts. We are progressing along nicely, but I keep wondering if we are conveying WHY we are doing it. Would it make a difference to its appeal to the funding organization if we began with explaining WHY we are doing our proposed program and then explaining HOW we are going to do it?  Would it appeal more to principals in the schools if we shared WHY we are doing this program and then explaining HOW we will be doing it?  I don't know.

What do you think?

I found that Simon Sinek has a book. Not surprisingly, it is entitled Start with Why. I am going to order this from Amazon.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action [Hardcover]


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wikis and Blogs and VoiceThread . . . Oh My!

Peg board setImage via Wikipedia

Wondering how you can make your presentations more interesting?  Trying to make your projects in class more interactive?  Here are some resources:



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Saturday, May 08, 2010

How Do I Move to an Inquiry-Based Form of Teaching/Learning?

Inquiry-based learning seems to be a buzz word in the curriculum overhaul movement of today. I think that most teachers can explain the overall idea of inquiry-based as a method which replaces memorization with a learning experience that engages students to learn by questioning. The question is how many educators can use their present knowledge-base to transfer their existing coursework into a bone fide inquiry-based learning experience?  I am not certain that I can do it.

My Instructional Technology university courses don't usually include much paper and pencil testing.  Most of them involve hands-on learning with projects that apply to the students' professional lives and pursuits. This hopefully makes their work more relevant and they are definitely problem-based, but I am not certain that I am posing the problems in a way that would be considered Inquiry-based.

I am tired of hearing and talking platitudes about changing our educational system from a memorization-based learning experience to a student-engaging learning environment which challenges students to answer problems and convert information and data into useful knowledge. Is there a system for this conversion? Is there a checklist to better identify an inquiry-based system? Is there a premise for the questioning system that needs to be used to optimize this system?

It is difficult for a university professor to acknowledge his ignorance in an area of study where he is supposed to be proficient, but I don't think that I understand the formalized world of inquiry-based/project-based/challenge-based learning.  I know that it is more than doing projects. There is a level of cognitive development that needs to be nurtured to optimize the learning experience for students AND teachers.

I may have a better understanding of Inquiry-based learning than I am admitting here, but I just wanted you to know that I am beginning a pursuit to better understand and implement inquiry-based learning in my courses.

What do you know about inquiry-based/project-based/challenge-based learning?  What resources can you suggest? Are you using this format? What are you doing?

Thanks for your thoughts and support.


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