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When I was a little boy growing up on the prairie...

My friend and colleague, Mary Ann Bell, sent me a request:

Hello Doug, I am working on a column about blogging, and am highlighting several popular educational blogs, one of which of course is yours, and another is Kathy Schrock's. This got me wondering how long you have maintained an online presence. I asked Kathy about her history and she responded that she had never thought to compile one but liked the idea. Shortly thereafter she sent me this link:

Now I am wondering about you! How long have you been sharing your wisdom online? It would be fun to include the information in my piece, which will  come out this spring in my column in Multimedia&Internet@School. If you have time, I would love to know and in any case, have a great holiday  season!--Mary Ann

While I've compiled a history of our district's technology efforts, I've never really tried to sit down and figure out my "personal history.' My memory is not all that good (and quite selective according to the LWW) so this is challenging. I am also humbled by Kathy's efforts (and memory!)

Here is a far less impressive "history," Mary Ann.

  • My first "on-line" experience was with the Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) Apple User Group bulletin board in about 1987-88 with an Apple Iic and a 300 baud modem. Hot stuff. I could get and share tips about computing with my other ARAMCO colleagues!
  • Friends from the local university gave me my first e-mail account: in 1991(?). It didn't start using it regularly until I joined LM_Net in 1992.  The LM_Net mailing list was really my first venue for sharing information and ideas on-line (and remains one to this day.)
  • I started teaching Introduction to the Internet classes for then Mankato State University in 1992(?) using dumb terminals. I wrote the first version of my teacher Internet rubrics as an outline for the class.
  • We secured 13 "vax" accounts for our Mankato school librarians and a debate coach (who turned it over to his kids) in 1992. These were well used until ISD77 put in its own mailserver in 1994 that provided all staff e-mail accounts.
  • I gave a talk "Why Minnesota's Children Need Access to the Internet" at a state tech meeting in 1994.
  • In March of 1995, my article Captured by the Web appeared in MultiMedia Schools magazine - one of the first writings about the WWW in an educational publication. I STILL think this was cool!
  • My "The Mankato Schools Internet Project" article appears in Internet Research, Winter 1995. It's a good summary of the process our district went through to become one of the first in the nation to have all buildings wired and connected to the Internet.
  • I think I "borrowed" space on the school's website that was up and running by 1994 or 1995 for my first web pages, then moved to my own domain/webhosting service in about 2000. I used (and still use) my site to give people easy access to my articles, columns and presentation handouts. It's a bit of shameless self-promotion for my speaking/consulting business too.
  • Taught an online class, Ethical Issues Surrounding Technology Use in Elementary Schools for Click! Computers and Learning in Classrooms K-6 (The University of Melbourne Australia) in 1998.
  • The Blue Skunk blog was started in August of 2005, after hearing David Weinberger's keynote speech at NECC in Philadephia about information = conversation. I continue to experiment with wikis, social bookmarking sites. media sharing sites, etc.
  • Begin writing a monthly column for the Education World website - a web-only publication - in 2005.
  • BlueSkunk Johnson is "born" in SecondLife in June 2006. (I will get my first chance to give a presentation in SecondLife in January 2008!)
  • Attended EdubloggerCon at NECC in 2007 which was cool.

As you can tell, I come from a very print-oriented mind-set and background, using tradional tools such as books and journals to communicate with others. I DO continue to use and try to understand the nearly constant changes in the online world. And increasingly, I feel like a turtle on the side of a very fast moving highway in absolute awe of educational visionaries, trend-setters, experimenters and models like Kathy.

There you are, Mary Ann. Hope it works for you!

All the very best,


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Reader Comments (2)

Doug, you were my hero when I worked at the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio, Tx. I must have duplicated several of your articles and passed them out to entire rooms of workshop participants, singing your praises, your wisdom, etc.

I even modelled one of my early web sites after your's!
You've heard this before, but I want you to know that I thought you were cool before you became a skunk!



November 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin

Thank you, Grasshopper. I am flattered.


November 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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