Mourning the loss of Writey

Both Kevin and Leigh mourn the loss of Writely, too.

Kevin notes “poor Troy designed his blog banner by using the Writely interface as his design template.” Indeed! Who would have thought that merely a few months into using a tool like Writely the screen shot that I turned into a banner would be so significant.

Kevin also notes the Google/You Tube deal which overshadowed the whole change from Writely to Google docs. Part of what makes this so depressing for me, when you look at the Google business strategy (and how it reflects our culture at large) is that You Tube — full of interesting things, for sure, but also full of copyright violations and other nasty stuff — gets bought for a billion and a half dollars. Writely, a collaborative tool that has major implications for how we compose and revise texts, barely gets a sniff anywhere, let alone in the news media. What this tells me is that the ability to rip content off a Tivo and post it to YouTube is more important than creating new material in a collaborative fashion.

I generalize and perhaps overstate this a little bit (OK, quite a bit), but the simple fact for me remains that YouTube (for most users) is still a passive media, despite the very original content that some folks are posting there. Writely, on the other hand, invites collaboration from the get go, and it seems as though the implicit affordances and limitations of each tool are being ignored in the larger conversation about how and why we want to write new media for the web.

Oh well, the Google Docs still work, and eventually will probably work even better, so I can’t complain too much. Maybe it will have a presentation tool coming soon?

More importantly, there are other things to look forward to here, namely the K12 Online Conference next week.

Re: Popular Media Representations of Scientific Methods

Steve asks, “can you think of any examples of representations of “scientific method” in popular media?

I am not often on the look out for this, let alone watching TV, so I am sure that there are some examples that are embedded in shows other than CSI that have implications for you.

However, the one show that does come to mind is Zoom, and the daily experiment that they do. I don’t know if this is similar to something like Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy in terms of framing the scientific concept, but it might be a place to start in terms of current popular culture.

One other thing that you might think about are movies, although I don’t know if ones like Weird Science would count.

Re: Episode 11 on its way!

Hi Chris,

I just wanted to touch base with you about your Teach with Tech podcast. I have been listening for a few months and I appreciate how you discuss new technologies and contextualize them in K-12 and higher ed applications.

Just a quick comment on your Opera segment from last month. I have been an Opera user for a few years (yes, I paid for it a long time ago, before Opera 9, because I thought it was that good). Besides all the great tips that you gave (I didn’t even realize the one about the trashcan), you might also want to think about telling your faculty and students that there are some handy mouse features that you can use on a PC or Mac (if you have a 2 button mouse).

  • Want more info about a word or phrase on a page that you are viewing? Highlight it, then right click and select one of the many search features.
  • Want to email someone, but you aren’t using Opera as your email client? Right click on the email address, copy it, and paste it in your email client.
  • Want to navigate web pages faster? Use mouse gestures.
  • Got a URL that you have copied or a word that you want to copy from somewhere and search using Opera? Right click in the address box or search box and choose “paste and go” to effectively paste and hit enter at the same time.

There are more mouse tools that I am sure are out there that I don’t even know, but these — along with the tips you offered — make my browsing life much easier.

Finally, I did want to say that I am becoming a regular wiki user. You can see how we used wikis in a similar manner to the teacher you described who asks students to keep class notes by looking at the collaborative agendas from our series of summer workshops. Also, a colleague and I are developing a presentation that we will give in October using a wiki.

For a future episode, I hope that you might consider talking about how teachers are integrating tools of the read/write web into the research process. Gone are the days of 3×5 cards, and now we have webquests, RSS for news feeds, Google Notebook, Citation Machine, Writely, and other tools for keeping track of research online as you write. I would like to hear the ways in which teachers are doing this kind of new research with students.

Keep up the great work on the Teach with Tech podcast!

Troy

Re: Some of My Input

Bud,

I, too, have been listening to GEEK!ED!, and found the discussion with David Warlick engaging. Sometimes they seem right on target, sometimes they veer, but it is generally a good show. I appreciate their humor, but when they really start to laugh, it can hurt the eardrums!

Abject Learning is a blog by Brian Lamb that I just ran across that has some insightful commentary, most recently about the video game article in Harpers.

Thanks for coordinating this K12 Online Conference. I am looking forward to it.

Troy

Reflecting on the Summer’s Work

Finally, I am catching up on some blog reading/writing. This past summer was super busy for me at RCWP, as we did many, many workshops — averaging about one a day over the entire summer — all focused on new literacies and new technologies.
Julie had some kind words to say about one of the sessions:

Well, this was a blast. Not only was it a great review for the technologies I’d already encountered earlier in the summer, but it covered a lot of new ground as well. I particularly loved the Writely demonstration. The collaborative writing exercise was such a kick, a bunch of writers creating a guide to area restaurants in a matter of five minutes…and editing each other with impunity! lol You could tell Troy was an organizer…Bulletman I’m calling him now.

Quillstress

To me, this note really sums things up quite well. We looked at a number of new technologies and tried them out. Julie was one of our die hard participants, making it to nearly every session, and contributing a great deal of new knowledge along the way, especially about games. All told, the sessions were not as well attended as I would have hoped; yet, for the participants who came, I must say that each and every one of them was highly motivated and engaged, two qualities that we like to see for teachers who are learning about technology.

Also, now I am waiting to see what the ripple effects of this summer’s work might be. Of course, we have to write a report for NWP (that’s coming up soon), but I am more intertesed in the intangibles. Anne is helping to coordinate a digital portfolio initiative at her high school. Aram and I will be presenting at MCTE. Julie is thinking about integrating technology into the Teachers as Writers initiative. Tara is asking her students to buy jump drives so they can compose digital writing.
I think that the true value from these workshops comes only partially from the day itself. What I really value are the long-term implications that embedded and relevant technology learning can do for teachers. I look forward to following their work this year.

Blogged with Flock

Back to School Supplies, Including Jump Drives? Awesome!

Dear Mrs. Klotz,

I think that it is great that you are asking your students to have a jump drive as part of their school supplies. Given the work that we did this summer, I think that this is an incredibly practical idea and I look forward to seeing how this works out for you over the course of the school year. I am interested in knowing how parents and students respond to this request as well as the kinds of projects that you plan to do that will require them to save with the jump drives.
Good luck to you and your students as things get underway – keep us updated!

Troy

Technology and Change

Karen,

I think that you are right on the money here. Change, in any context is difficult. What I find most interesting about technology relates to the things that we choose to change and the things that we don’t necessarily have a choice over.

For instance, with Spurl and Furl, I have complete control over that decision – it is not about a requirement for work or a class, and I can choose whichever technology suits me better for the time being. However, it seems that most times teachers are faced with tech changes that are mandated. “Welcome to your new grading program, learn it by tomorrow…”

Because of this, I have to wonder if the ideas of “change” and “technology” in the same sentence automatically instigate a kind of fear for people, especially teachers whose job may depend on how well they can navigate a new student record system.

What do you think? How have you seen voluntary change and forced change differ in terms of technology adoption?

Troy