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EdTech Update





Bloglines: Exacerbating My ADD

As if I needed one more online distraction, I’ve gotten hooked on Bloglines, an RSS Feed Reader. (In English - a single webpage that shows when your favorite blogs have been updated.) It’s called an aggregator, but I believe that’s just a typo for “aggravator.”

Right now I’ve got 15 feeds of blogs of professional interest that generate (in aggregate) quite a number of new entries every day:

2 Cents Worth (David Warlick)
Alice in InfoLand’s blog (Alice Yucht)
Bloglines | News
The Committed Sardine Blog (Ian Jukes)
Cool Tools Word of the Day
The Ghost of Charlie Hoban
The Google Weblog
Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch
MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors
Quotations Weblog
Quotes of the Day
The Shifted Librarian
Spyware Daily
Wired News

Bloglines is a simple tool to use. Paste the URL into the little blank provided and click “subscribe” after it finds the site. Delete the blogs you no longer wish to have listed. I’m afraid my list seems to be growing rather than shrinking, however.

I suppose I am the last person on the planet to know about this, but I recommend it highly to others afflicted with ADD and need something to keep them from getting their real work accomplished. Or to those who want to know more about the kinds information and ways of getting to it that kids are into.

So what blogs am I not reading that I should be?
Take a look at:

  1. Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed (there is a good RSS guide on his site also).
  2. Michael Lorenzen’s The Information Literacy Land of Confusion library instruction, librarianship, information literacy, and search engines.
  3. Librarian Way Connections for Librarians web-based Technology and Research Resources
  4. Tim Lauer’s Education Technology Principal at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, Portland OR
  5. Phil Bradley’s Blog focus on search engines and searching.

I also subscribe to political blogs and some of feeds from Seattle PI, NYTimes, . Easy to scan for most important / interesting and avoids all the different interfaces on the sites.

My whole list is at

Comment by Robert Eiffert — September 2, 2005 @ 7:27 pm

Yes - bloglines is great. I use it every day to follow my favorite blogs & keep up on other areas of interest. It will soon take over my life and I will never be seen again….. To see my full list of blogs - just go to my pseudo-blog at:
(I created the blog using bloglines - just as a way to teach myself the process. I don’t have any plans to update it - but it is there if I ever want to…)

But here is the issue that is making me CRAZY. I am SO upset that our content filter blocks it & our tech committe will not unblock it. When I first discovered Bloglines - I immediately fell in love with the power it gave me to follow my favorite blogs. I also fell in love with the ability to save articles for future reference. I wanted to teach the students - especially the seniors before going to college - how to set up folders for all their research projects. That way they can easily drop good articles into the folders as they ran across them. I also like for saving ANY article I find on the web. So far, our content filter allows Savethis. That could change tomorrow. However, I really wanted to encourage the students to set up rss feeds if they have not already done so. So Bloglines is really necessary. I know that there are downloadable rss feed readers. Alas - our tech committee not only turned down my request to unblock Bloglines, but, because of budget cuts and dying computers, they have put a freeze on downloading ANY software. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!!

Comment by Jacquie Henry — September 3, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

Consider these:
Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Search, at
Michael Stephen’s Tame the Web: Technology & Libraries, at
Christopher Harris’ Infomancy, at
Fernette and Brock Eide’sNeurolearning blog, at
Uglcoyote’si Endless Faculty Meeting, at

and — for a truly honest take on the realities of education:

Comment by Alice Yucht — September 9, 2005 @ 8:06 pm |



The Tech-Nazi

I was visiting a small school district near Mankato not long ago and had a chance to visit with its curriculum director. In passing, she referred to their technology director as the “Tech-Nazi” - a title she admitted was borrowed from Seinfeld’s character the Soup-Nazi.

This is not the first time I’ve heard folks holding my position in other districts described in less than endearing terms. One librarian refers to her tech director as “Bob God.” I heard a teacher refer to her district’s technology department as the “Education Prevention Department.” And of course there are those other names that shouldn’t appear in a family blog.

Tech directors have two strikes against them coming out of the box. First, technology itself has not always been warmly embraced by educators (not to state the obvious or anything). Its complex and often unreliable nature makes it a source of irritation more than delight. Second, techies have an appreciation of the vulnerability of the equipment they are charged with maintaining that normal people simply don’t. We SEE those viruses, hackers, software conflicts, power-surges, and SUDs (stupid user dysfunctions) that are always surrounding the fort, waiting for the smallest breach, and then sneaking in and wreaking havoc.

I, for one, would be heart-broken if I thought my nickname was Tech-Nazi or Doug God. Good working relations with people are as important to me as the good working order of computers. And I think it is possible to have both if:

1. You listen to and heed both educators’ and technicians’ views before making a technology policy decision.
2. You establish a formal collaborative decision-making body that meets on a regular basis and includes as many stakeholders as possible.
3. You take the time to communicate in understandable terms why a technology decision has been made. (And have a damn good reason for making it.)
4. You support the goals of teachers and students, not separate technology “goals.”
5. You leave the office and visit teachers and librarians to find out how they are really doing with technology. (I call this being a complaint magnet.)
6. You tend to err on the side of convenience and accessibility rather than on the side of security.
7. You always give other people the benefit of the doubt, recognize accidents happen, and truly believe equipment is better worn out than rusted out.

I’d love to hear other ideas about improving one’s popularity as well as one’s effectiveness. (And other nasty names for tech directors you’d care to share.)


Reading the Future: Science Fiction

I’ve liked reading about the future ever since I could read. As I remember, My Weekly Reader would often run small articles like “Your Own Personal Helicopter by 1980″ or “People of the Future will be Eating Bee-burgers.” I couldn’t wait!

While I am still waiting for both my personal helicopter and bee-burgers, I still like reading about the future - especially when the future comes packaged as science fiction.

I’m sort of fussy about my sci-fi. While I was once held in thrall of bug-eyed aliens and death rays, I’m more interested in the writers who forecast the social ramifications of technology in the near term. Interesting things happening because of information technologies seem much more likely than flying saucers zapping my garage.

Here’s a short list of my all time favorites in the “social” sci-fi category:

Neuromancer by William Gibson was my first look at a cyberworld that felt as real as the physical world. (I need to re-read this.)

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card demonstrates learning through gaming. (One of my all-time favorite books on lots of levels.)

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson explores the possibilities of real e-book on a child’s life.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale and Oryx and Crake. Atwood is the worthy successor to George Orwell in describing dystopias - made by either religious fervor or science gone awry. (She’s why I say a silent thanks every time I drive by the adult bookstore on my way to work.)

Futureland by Walter Mosely (of Easy Rawlings mystery fame) is a series of linked short stories exploring corporate power taken to the extreme.

I have to say I’ve been devouring Dan Simmons’ Hyperion/Endymion and Illium/Olympus series, but mostly for the fine writing, action, and imagination. I suppose the social commentary is there, but it’s not at the forefront. Oh, if you start Simmons’ books, be prepared to make a long-term commitment. There are four books in the first series and two in the second, each averaging about 600 pages or so. I don’t regret having spent the time on them in the least.

I would be most grateful for any recommendations for high-quality science fiction that lets me peer into the future - at least a little ways.