Monthly Archives: March 2011

Steve Wheeler has some ‘Synching feelings’

One final word: We need to remember that professionals built the Titanic, but an amateur built the Ark. It’s not always about expertise – sometimes it’s about passion.

Go visit & read the whole post… but I wanted to share the quote above, and the post script to my comment below.

ps. I love your ‘One final word’!

Many uneducated farmers have taken machinery built by ‘experts’ and made them better. Many ‘amateur’ stargazers have made astronomical discoveries within clear view of the experts. Many educators are turning their practice inside-out and sharing what they do with the world, while the experts model great schools around getting good standardized test results… hmmmm.

Simple Wikipedia

I think Wikipedia is a GREAT resource! 

To me it should be the ‘first place to go’ for students… The start of research, before digging deeper and finding other sites.


The language can be a bit tough for ELL or younger students! 
So, check this out:

Simple English Wikipedia: Wikipedias are places where people work together to write encyclopedias in different languages. We use Simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English.

AND for younger students:

Wiki for Kids delivered search results from the “Simple Edition” of Wikipedia and is powered by Google SafeSearch for added safety. 

Can you spare some Bandwidth?

This is a plea to friends living places where internet bandwidth is not an issue. 

I would like a copy of this interview: to share with my Grade 9’s who are starting their Flat Classroom Project

And my digital colleague Lyn Hilt recently shared this link with me,  and I’m a huge Alan November fan. Related to that, Brian Crosby shared his TEDx video that I also can’t watch right now: 

So, with the internet all but shut down both at my school and at home… I’d love for someone to throw these in a public DropBox or share these with me in some other way that doesn’t require me streaming the video. I’m a huge TED & TEDx fan so don’t hesitate to throw a few of those (that you like & recommend) into the mix as well!  🙂  

DropBox won’t let me share a ‘public folder’ link, just a ‘public file’ itself (dumb, I miss!). I just checked to see what the public file link does, using a link to my Brave New World Wide Web video and it streams it rather than lets me download it… Uhhg! (I can’t even get past the opening Quicktime ‘Q’ without losing the connection and getting a ‘?’…  much less watch the video that way). So, if we use dropbox it will have to be through sharing a public DropBox file via invitation. If this doesn’t make sense, ignore me. If it does, invite me, I’m datruss on gmail, or ask me to invite you (that’s better for me, I get all the videos in one folder that way). 

I’m sure there are other file sharing options out there, but I just tried looking and my delicious bookmarks won’t even load right now… must be the extensive graphics on that page (he says in a tone dripping with sarcasm). 

Anyway, to anyone that can help me out: Thank you, thank you and THANK YOU! 

Oh, and I’ll owe you a cup of coffee, or a beer, when we next/first meet. 


T.I.C. – This is China – Blocking still works

Congratulations to the Great Filter Wall… it is alive and well, and doing it’s job. 

I’ve only heard rumours about why things are so slow here now, but I’m guessing they are right… It’s hard to create a digital ‘movement of the masses’ when connecting digitally, (and especially to the spaces where this happens), is painfully difficult. 

VPN’s (that bypass the ‘Great Filter Wall’) have been hit hard, even mine that has been stellar so far required me to get a new address from support to link up. Instead of linking through Hong Kong, my connection must now go through Los Angeles to connect. The slow internet, plus the longer connection route means it takes longer to connect, longer to load pages and impossible to do things like watch a video.

Teachers here with Yahoo or Hotmail will say to me, “What did your email say? I can get into my inbox to see you’ve sent an email, but I can’t open the message.”

I created a “Funhouse” for our club days, for a group of primary kids, and they have seen it, but not visited it yet. I did get to read the scrolling book that I pre-loaded the first day, but since then the internet has been useless and sending them to image-rich websites would be a useless activity. (I loaded the Funhouse link above to get the address to link it here and the page has yet to load as I type this.) 

So, blocking works. But at what cost. I’m scared to introduce Weebly to my staff because although it’s a great blogging platform that works here, I can only seem to get the editor to work after school when no one else is on the system. I know someone at Intel who says he can’t even upload work related photos on his home line. How many other businesses that rely on the internet are pulling their hair out? How do you do business in a connected world when the connection is severed? 

I don’t turn on Tweetdeck at work anymore because I don’t want updates to steal bandwidth from my teachers. I’m a disconnected principal that enjoys being a connected principal

The reality is that I’d like to think that information is free and accessible to all, but 1/5 of the population of the world have a filter on information, news… and learning!

The Karma Seed and Random Acts of Kindness

About 7 or 8 years ago I had an idea to do something like this. We were promoting Random Acts of Kindness and what we thought we would do is give individualized, numbered coins to every student and then have them pass it on with a random, kind act. The coin would have a website address and a number on it and each person that got it would tell what random act they received on the website, then pass the coin on. 

I sat down with my tech-ed teacher to plan the making and stamping of the coins, and sat with my computer teacher and tried to hammer out the technology details, and with my principal to figure out the budget. In the end, we couldn’t make it work the way it could work today without spending way too much time and money. We had a great Random Acts of Kindness program at the school that year anyway, thanks mostly to my teaching partner who coordinated it… We developed a RAKK – Random Act of Kindness Krew who were volunteer leaders that handed out RAKK coupons to people they saw doing nice things, and we had weekly draws for prizes. But my idea never saw the light of day.

Karma Seed is a very clever version of what I’d hoped for, but was totally unable to accomplish. See the story of the Karma Seed here

Seems that for now you need to be in the US to order them. With a name like Karma Seed, there should be an altruistic destination for the money… This is what the FAQ’s say on the topic:

As of now, the money from seed purchases will go towards covering the cost of the seeds, servers, our team of coding engineers and ninjas.
 We are currently exploring the option of starting a charitable foundation in which we will donate 25% of annual profits from seed sales! Check back for more details!

My first instinct was that 25% isn’t enough… but imagine if every company gave 25% of their profits to do good in this world!

I’m looking forward to some of the positive stories that comes from this! 

T.I.C – “This is China” – Midnight Chinese New Year Fireworks

I was in Beijing for New Year’s Eve, December 31st, and midnight came and went without a single firework going off. I looked out my window of the 20th floor and saw one building that had a “Happy New Year” Sign down it’s side… that was it! Last year we were home in Dalian from our holidays on the Saturday after the Chinese New Year, the first set of fireworks went off at 4am, the constant noise of fireworks started at 6am, and I think at about 2:30 in the afternoon I looked at Ann and said, “I think we just went 3 minutes without hearing a firework go off”. Seconds later they started again, and I don’t think we had another 3 minute break until 1am! But, we were not treated to the visual bonanza Heather got at midnight in Beijing on Chinese New Year this year. Thanks to Heather Davis for sharing the video!