June 29, 2006

I want to be that dancing guy

Yesterday, I blogged about Where the hell is Matt?
Well, turns out the story is getting more interesting. People seem to have been greatly inspired and also enraged, by Matt's simple antics. Actually, antic.

First off, Matt finds himself apologizing to all the people in countries that, for some reason, did not get shown in the video (i.e. Matt didn't go there). From Matt's posting, he sounds so tired and irritated, he can't quite remember exactly where it was he went and where he didn't. Of course, some people living in places he didn't visit are feeling slighted and upset. Sheesh.

Secondly, he finds people are reading / projecting all kinds of feelings and stuff into what they see.

I found these bloglines particularly moving (my emphasis):

I am not the guy in the video... I mean yes, that’s me up there. There’s no internet imposter scandal. But people do not smile when I walk by. I don’t create happiness wherever I go.

In person, I can, from time to time, be rather cranky. I do, occasionally, have a bad attitude. There have been moments where I have not lived life to its fullest potential. ...People tell me how jealous they are. They want to be that dancing guy. I want to be that dancing guy. It’s a worthwhile aspiration. But I’ve got a long way to go. There are gaps in between those clips.

The human desire for fulfillment and joy: so powerful, it'll make people cranky and jealous. And darn it, it just will not go away. Don't you want to be that dancing guy, too? Dancing your way through life?

The music Matt used for the video has a lot to answer for, I reckon: even without any video (I'm listening to it on my stereo now as I write), it seems to force me to face the big life questions: Who are you? What do you really want? Actually, the Amazon reviews give you a pretty good idea of how this music grabs people.

June 28, 2006


Webgraphs. I have no idea what this signifies, I just think it's beautiful. Get your own at Websites as graphs
Check the other webgraphs on Flickr

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Teaching creativity?

Dave Warlick blogged recently about teaching (and exporting) creativity, to which I commented that I'm not sure it's possible to teach creativity. Maybe it is, but I hear and read a lot of people saying this kind of thing, including myself, and I wonder if just sounds good, or is it a realistic, practicable possibility?

Anyway, I was reminded of creativity when I read this post by a very clever young blogger (with the appealing blog title of plastic bag) in Britain, who used to work for the BBC and now does all kinds of clever things for Yahoo. He is writing about the RCA (Britain's Royal College of Art) Exhibition. I wish I could see it, it sounds like fun, and who knows? Maybe I could learn some creativity.

Where the *?!+ is Matt?

This caught my eye. I think it has educational potential, tho I don't have any brainwaves at the moment.
Via Dan Pinker (of A Whole New Mind) comes a link to Where the Hell is Matt? First read Matt's bio, then go here and click on the picture of a guy on top of a sand dune. (YouTube video).

Blogs - more a medium for exchange than reflection?

Political journalist and blogger, Josh Marshall, has some thoughtful things to say about blogging,, albeit in an "ephemeral", "under-pressure" kind of way:

I freely admit blogging is an ephemeral form of writing. It's written quickly, usually forgotten quickly. It doesn't lend itself to that sort of rigorous writing and rewriting which is often the way you discover your ideas in your own mind. It is a popular medium on many levels. But it also has an immediacy and when done well, under time pressure, produces an economic form of writing, a concision and getting right to the point.

I saw a quote a few days ago where someone said something like blogging is a boon for information but an enemy of thought. And there's an element of truth to that. In most hands, it's more a medium of exchange than reflection. The technology can leave us with too little time to mull and digest.

(The context is a blogosphere brou-ha-ha caused by a journalist named Lee Siegel lambasting bloggers as "fascists", an which Josh Marshall (and many others) find hilarious. As Josh puts it, Yes, getting some hate mail and getting called a wanker, truly the stuff of fascism. I'm going to have to completely rethink the March on Rome and the Night of the Long Knives.)

MySpace users: read the fine print

MySpace users might want to read the legal fine print. Yep, Rupert Murdoch owns all the content on MySpace.

June 27, 2006

Social networking meets wifi

Here's an interesting idea.
A Spanish firm is to sell subsidised routers as part of a plan to turn domestic wi-fi networks into public hotspots. Fon will sell wi-fi routers, which allow people to surf the net wirelessly, for $5 (£2.75). The company, which has financial backing from Google and Skype, aims to create public wi-fi networks street by street across the US and Europe....
The company is hoping to create a "social movement" as well as a business. ...

Users install software on their home PCs which then lets other people access their wi-fi network safely - if they can pick up the signals from outside their homes. In exchange for receiving a router, users must agree to share their wireless connections with other Fon users for 12 months, the company said.

June 26, 2006

Cool digital natives video

David Jakes over @ techlearning has a blog post about a cool new commercial for HP starring snowboarder Shaun White (whom I'd never heard of). No snowboarding action in the commercial unfortunately, but it's still pretty cool. Check it out.

June 25, 2006

Checkmate - learning from a Russian Chessmaster

Karl Fisch has an interesting post about the long tail and children learning through using Web2.0.  The key point is authentic audience.

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling is something that many people, including teachers, are interested in. But for some reason, it just hasn't grabbed me. But my interest was tweaked by this post by Miguel Guhlin.

Wanna be a Google jockey?

This sounds fun. Position of Google jockey.

June 22, 2006

Muddying the waters

Doug calls it "muddying the waters", a surprisingly negative-sounding expression for what I immediately recognized as a positive action - pointing out aspects of an argument or debate that make it less black-and-white and more murkily complex.

Doug provides a link to a Feinberg article that picks a lot of holes in Hirsch's arguments. There are definite flaws in Hirsch's thinking and suggestions, at least in "The Schools We Need" (the only book or writing of his I've read). For instance, answering his own question of "why do educators persist in advocating the very antifact, anti-rote-learning, antiverbal practices that have led to poor results - persist in urging them?" he states baldly, "Within the educational community, there is currently no thinkable alternative." Well, that sounds exactly the kind of ideology-over-common-sense sloganeering that he claims to be trying to avoid. There is surely more to the matter than this, even assuming his description of the problem is correct, which is arguable. I was more impressed with Barzun's view, namely that teaching and learning are not problems with solutions, but rather difficulties faced by any and all teachers (regardless of current practices or environment or personal philosophy) and to be overcome daily by patience, hard thinking, and trial-and-error creativity.

Hirsch's references to education in Japan also betray a lack of real knowledge, and smack of the "Japan is No.1" mentality that pervaded many books about Japanese industrial and educational practices written in the 70s and 80s (for a more realistic picture, see Japanese Higher Education as Myth. ) However, I appreciated Hirsch shining a strong light on many concepts I had latched onto without thinking critically about them, e.g. multiple intelligences, "hands-on learning", etc. His analysis of the Romantic influences in present-day teachers' thinking is pretty astute. Feinberg's article raises some good points, but is also full of holes and misrepresentations. But it's all grist to the mill. Teaching is a highly complex and emotional matter, and personally I feel I need all the intelligent thinking on it I can get.

The other day, I was discussing some of Hirsch's ideas, and those of Lisa Delpit, with a Canadian colleague. He recently completed his doctoral thesis on bilingual education. We soon hit on some common areas of interest, and this morning he gave me a couple of articles to read. One is What Teachers Need to Know About Language by Lily Wong Fillmore and Catherine Snow (pdf warning). (There is a digest of it here). A quick skim revealed a reference to a Lisa Delpit article Ebonics and Culturally Responsive Instruction (found, lo and behold, at Rethinking Schools Online archive, to which Doug pointed me in his reply to my comment). (The Fillmore/Snow article also includes a reference to Fillmore paper The class of 2002: Will everyone be there? presented at the Alaska State Department of Education, February 1999 - can't find it online, tho).

My Canadian colleague also recommended I read an article by James Gee that he had. I then read a comment by Doug on my blog, and who should Doug recommend I read? James Paul Gee.

June 20, 2006

Sacred cows shot down in flames

What is the sound of sacred cows shot down in flames? Whatever it is, that's what I've been hearing in my head the last week or so, as I've been reading E.D. Hirsch Jr's The Schools We Need (And Why We Don't Have Them).

Hirsch describes the long history of the debate between the progressives and the traditionalists or conservatives in the field of education. This itself was fascinating. The idea that it is a waste of time to focus on teaching facts or knowledge because both are so quickly out of date in today's world, did not originate with George Siemens and his Connectivism article (which is where I first came across the idea, and that tells you much about how sheltered I have been, out here in Japan, in the world of EFL, from the howling storms that plague this fascinating debate in the US and in the UK).

A key and potent argument in British journalist Melanie Phillips' book All Must Have Prizes is that the humanistic, "student-centred", "hands-on learning" style of teaching, while it sounds admirable, is simply not working. However, Phillips' style is too close to the polemic rant for my taste, and her lack of scholarly objectiveness casts a doubt in my mind over much of what she says, though she raises some good points that should definitely be questioned and considered by anyone interested in education, particularly practising teachers.

Hirsch makes a similar case, but is much more convincing: first, that standards of educational achievement amongst primary and junior school children (though he only makes that clear in one sentence in the book) in the US are low compared with those of other industrialized or post-industrial nations; secondly, that a lot of rhetoric (polite for "hot air") on both sides of the debate as to what should be done to improve education has become politicized and polarized with the result that the real issues are confused, and many people are sincerely making false claims; and thirdly, that this rhetoric blurs one issue in particular - namely, that the "new, progressive" ideas are not as new nor as progressive as many people think, that in fact these ideas have become the mainstream, have been adopted, and have been in place in many educational institutions throughout the nation for several decades, and that they therefore must take responsibility for the present low attainment levels:
When businesspeople, philanthropists, and parents turn to experts for guidance, they continue to hear the high-sounding, antiknowledge advice that has been offered for more than sixty years - the very prescriptions (now to be facilitated by "technology") that have produced the system's failures. These continually reformulated slogans have led to the total absence of a coherent, knowledge-based curriculum, but are nonetheless presented as novel theories based on the latest research and as remedies for the diseases they themselves have caused... The most fully studied reform of all, Head Start, has produced extremely disappointing long-term academic benefits, despite strong evidence from other countries that early-intervention programs (which, unlike Head Start, use knowledge-based curricula) lead to permanent academic improvement. (p 3, 1996).

Unlike, Phillips, Hirsch is himself a teacher. Unlike Phillips, Hirsch marshals facts, figures, graphs and numbers to support his arguments. Unlike Phillips, Hirsch avoids partisanship, and claims to espouse a pragmatic approach, and indeed he is careful to point out strengths and weaknesses in arguments made by both progressives and conservatives. Hirsch describes his own leanings thus:
My political sympathies are with those who... advocate greater funding equity. But... I would label myself as a political liberal and an educational conservative, or perhaps more accurately, an educational pragmatist. Political liberals really ought to oppose progressive educational ideas because they have led to practical failure and greater social inequity.
This last idea, that progressive educational practices have actually led to greater, not lesser, social and economic inequity, is a key theme in another book I read recently, Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit (and a big thank-you to Doug at Borderland for writing about it).

Hirsch begins with a quote from Antonio Gramsci, an intellectual imprisoned by Mussolini in 1932. Il Duce's educational minister, Giovanni Gentile, was by contrast, an ehthusiastic proponent of the new ideas coming out of Teachers College, Columbia University, US. Here's Gramsci:
The new concept of schooling is in its romantic phase, in which the replacement of "mechanical" by "natural" methods has become unhealthily exaggerated... Previously pupils at least acquired a certain baggage of concrete facts. Now there will no longer be any baggage to put in order. ... The most paradoxical aspect of it all is that this new type of school is advocated as being democratic, while in fact it is destined not merely to perpetuate social differences but crystallize them in Chinese complexities.
(Hirsch, p 6, 1996).

Lisa Delpit, a MacArthur fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, encountered many black students, parents and teachers who were opposed to the "process writing" approach. Here's a doctoral student complaining about a white professor of writing he was assigned to:
I didn't feel she was teaching us anything. She wanted us to correct each other's papers and we were there to learn from her. She didn't teach anything, absolutely nothing. Maybe they're trying to learn what black folks knew all the time. We understand how to improvise, how to express ourselves creatively. When I'm in a classroom, I'm not looking for that, I'm looking for structure, for more formal language. Now my buddy was in [a] black teacher's class. And that lady was very good. She went through and explained and defined each part of the structure. This [white] teacher didn't get along with that black teacher. She said that she didn't agree with her methods. But I don't think that white teacher had any methods.

And here's a teacher complaining about the same process-writing approach:
These people keep pushing this fluency thing. What do they think? Our children have no fluency? ... My students... might not be writing their school assignments but they sure are writing. Our kids are fluent. What they need are the skills that will get them into college. I've got a kid right now - brilliant. But he can't get a score on the SAT that will even get him considered by any halfway decent college. He needs skills, not fluency. This is just another of those racist ploys to keep our kids out. White kids learn how to write a decent sentence. Even if they don't teach them in school, their parents make sure they get what they need. But what about our kids? They don't get it at home and they spend all their time in school learning to be fluent. I'm sick of this liberal nonsense.
(Delpit, 1995, The New Press, New York, hardback edition, p 16)

Hirsch devotes a whole chapter (2 "Intellectual Capital: A Civil Right") to the issue of democracy, equity and which kind of educational approaches seem to work in their favour. He also takes a stab at explaining why what works is not incorporated in the majority of US educational establishments: one reason is the American ambivalence towards academic excellence; another is the practical difficulty of deciding on and imposing a national core curriculum, despite the fact that there is strong evidence from countries which have adopted such a system, this is what works best.

Jacques Barzun also writes (scathingly) about the American ambivalence towards academic excellence or intellectualism:
Everybody keeps calling for Excellence - excellence not just in schooling, throughout society. But as soon as somebody or something stands out as Excellent, the other shout goes up: "Elitism!" And whatever produced that things, whoever praises that result, is promptly put down. "Standing out" is undemocratic. This common response is a national choice, certified by a poll: we have a self-declared "Education president." Good. But what happened soon after he took office? His populatiry rating went up when it was discovered that he was less than articulate on his feet. One commentator said in a resigned tone, "It's not pretty but it works." It works only because of our real attitude toward "excellence" - we won't have it. (Barzun, 1992, University of Chicago Press, p 3)

All in all, I found Hirsch pretty convincing. He provides strong evidence that while learning to speak may be "natural", learning to read, write and count are not, and cannot be left to chance or to children learning it "naturally, at their own pace." There is strong evidence to suggest that societies that introduce a core, knowledge-based curriculum with clear, year-by-year goals (and therefore accountability), especially for the early years, are able to overcome economic or social inequalities that may exist between children, at least to a greater degree than happens in the US: young children, even those from disadvantaged homes, can be taught to read in the early grades, and that this success is vital to future success, as learning builds on learning, and those that fall through the gaps early on often never catch up.

Closely related to this is the value attached to knowledge and facts over skills. Hersch suggests that there is strong support in mainstream educational establishments, particularly teaching colleges, for the idea of teaching skills or tools. While Hersch is not at all against skills and acknowledges their vital importance, he notes that
Unfortunately, for serveral decades... American educational theory has held that the child needs to be given the all-purpose tools that are needed for him or her to continue learning and adapting. The particular content used to develop those tools need not be specified. The claim that all-purpose intellectual competencies are independent of the matter out of which they have been formed, if it corresponded to reality, would indeed be an attractive educational idea. For conveniently, in that case, it wouldn't matter greatly what particular things a child learned. The chief aims of education would simply be to ensure that children acquired "love of learning" and gained "critical-thinking" techniques for acquiring and using whatever they would need later. ... But when this tool metaphor has been taken apart and examined for its literal content, its highly exaggerated claims have been powerfully contradicted by research, and after six decades, it has shown itself to be ineffective.

Ouch! How often in the last few years have I warbled on about the importance of teaching skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, the ability to work in heterogenous, temporary groups, etc, etc? When did I ever really stop to examine whether these skills were actually teachable? Did I realize that people who urge for such skills to be taught also often urge the teaching of such skills to be at the expense of factual knowledge? And that by urging for similar educational goals, I am unwittingly placing myself in a certain idealogical camp? That my views can be construed as primarily idealogical? Hersch marshals some convincing evidence that suggests children require large doses of domain-specific knowledge in order to develop higher-order skills such as the ones advocated by so many progressive educators.
"It is better to teach a child to fish than to give a child a fish." Teaching a child how to learn is, using this analogy, better than teaching a child a lot of facts. Everyone agrees that education should provide students with an ability to learn new knowledge and even new professions. But the tool conception, which makes the fish inferior to the hook, line, and sinker, is based upon a gravely inadequate metaphor of the skill of learning. Inded, even learning how to fish requires a great dealof domain-specific knowledge - not just fishing equipment and a few techniques. As this book explains in some detail, the opposition between learning skills and factual knowledge is an almost totally misleading opposition that has had tragic economic and social consequences.

June 16, 2006

Creative photography

I heard Peter Ford mention Dave Severn in a talk he gave somewhere recently. Peter was excited about having Dave act as an online mentor to some drop-out/thrown out teenagers he was dealing with. They created photos, Peter uploaded them, and Dave took a look and posted comments. Peter was thrilled at the interest and enthusiasm shown by these "difficult" kids.

So I was interested to see an example of Dave Severn's work on this post of Peter's. And here's a link to Dave Severn's own website.

Blogging is not technology

Doug helps me sharpen my thinking on this topic:
Blogging is not a technology. It's a social practice. Using blogging software is trivial compared with the social and cultural understandings that are necessary to do it effectively.
I was listening to a talk by British blogger/teacher Peter Ford recently. He was saying something similar: that the technology has now become so simple we don't need to teach it; that it's not about the technology, it's about using tools that help me be a better teacher; the tools Peter introduces are tools that help teachers do what they 've been doing for years, namely have students read, write, think and communicate.

Alan November said something similar at the eLive! conference in Edinburgh a few weeks ago.

June 12, 2006

All the more reason to be careful online

This is hardly surprising, and all the more reason for maintaining some kind of anonymity online. This is even less of a surprise to anyone who's read Dan Brown's Digital Fortress (and if you haven't, what you waiting for?!)

"I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software. He is far from alone in noticing that fast-growing social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster are a snoop's dream.

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.


Meanwhile, the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone's contact network, a process sometimes called "connecting the dots". Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or "degrees" separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation.

June 08, 2006

Connectivism revisited

Looking back over an old blog-post on George Siemens' Connectivism article, I noticed something I hadn't mentioned the first time: Siemens does not mention the age or maturity of his learners, and I think that age and/or maturity makes a big difference.

June 01, 2006

Wiki meets Google Earth

Woah. Cool.

The power of repetition

AJ posts about the importance of repetition in language learning. Surprise, surprise: Bob Leamson has something to say about this, too! (Refer to my previous post for Leamson's definition of learning): First, it is the multiple connections between neurons that allow perception and thought, and not just the existence or the number of neurons. Second, it is experience and sensory interaction with the environment that promotes and stabilizes neural connections. There is good evidence that neurons bud, or send out new axons, continually. These new axons make connections with other neurons, but the connections, or synapses, are, initially, quite labile, meaning here that they easily regress if not used. New and weak synapses stabilize only if they have produced a useful path. Whether or not a synaptic sequence stabilizes is determined by the frequency with which that path is used....  One can imagine something like a rule that says, if a path is used repeatedly is must be important, so make it easy by increasing the probabibility that the signal will get through. Such a model is certainly consistent with common experience and the fact that both physical and mental activity get easier with practice. (p.13)...
The second philosophical conclusion we might come to after considerating student brains as having potential but limited synaptic structure, is the importance of repetition. The notion of repetition must be considered in conjunction with the fact that is it student neural networks that need conditioning. While it may be comforting and satisfying for a teacher to rehearse what she already knows, the only useful repetition from an educational point of view is that which goes on in the heads of students.

"the illusion of understanding and mastery"

Nice quote here from AJ: As I slowly progress with Spanish, Im beginning to understand the appeal of grammar-translation for so many students. In a nutshell, grammar study is comforting. It gives one the illusion of understanding and mastery.
Nice! I would tweak that a bit and say "the illusion of learning and progress." It provides this illusion to both teacher and student! (From far away, I hear a distant echo from Carlos Castandeda's magician-teacher, Don Juan: "That's the problem with words: they make you think you really know something.")

Full marks to AJ for actually trying to learn something alongside of his work as a teacher. I remember talking to a Japanese lady who taught Japanese at the YMCA in Kobe, many years ago; she had taken up Chinese in order to better understand the language problems her Chinese students of Japanese were having. A dedicated teacher.

A problem that I have been struggling with for a while is, how to wean students away from this false comfort? When I was 15, after learning German in school for a year, I had the opportunity of a homestay in Hamburg for a couple of weeks. I always did well on tests, and was also learning a lot on my own. Imagine my shame and embarrassment when, upon arriving in Germany and meeting my host family, I discovered I couldn't understand a word they said, nor could I express anything beyond basic greetings. "But hey, I had good scores on the tests. " Indeed! The irony of this hit me right between the eyes, and I had a headache for the entire 2 weeks of my stay. I was at last beginning to express myself a little and understand a bit of what was said to me when it was time to return home. I learned the lesson then that "classroom learning" is not the same as communicative competence.

In my "autonomy" class, we have materials lying around, and students are free to choose what they like. I still recall a student last year who picked a graded reader... and proceeded to translate it in writing. I guess his past experience had taught him that that is what you do to learn English. Translating in writing is "learning English", or perhaps, as Brian McVeigh suggests, it is helpful to realize that "English" is different from "Eigo", the subject that students study in school. My student was "doing Eigo". He got a sense of accomplishment. I doubt he learned very much, or certainly not as much as he could have learned in the same amount of time and for the same effort, but then, what do I know!

I've mentioned Bob Leamson before, and do so again now. His book really is a treasure trove. As I read AJ's post I was reminded of something Leamson wrote and have just spent a few minutes digging it out. Here it is:
In the field of contemporary education, responding to students' needs is a good thing. But less clearly articulated is who is best equipped to determine what those needs are. That students are the best arbiters of their academic needs is highly questionable. Most students have goals, but these are usually long-term and nebulous, and are better described as wishes for the future. Students' academic goals are pretty much limited to getting into the school and major of their choice, getting a degree, and maintaining a certain grade-point average. You are not likely to encounter a first-year student who expresses a need to learn a foreign language, some math, psychology, something about human institutions, or chemistry. In general, first-year students have little knowledge of what they need to learn in order to achieve their long-term goals. Their interests trend more toward credentialing than learning. Deciding what students need to learn in order to achieve their long-term goals is our job. This aspect of a teacher's philosophy (determining what needs to be learned) is a fairly obvious one. Less obvious and frequently less considered is the new students' need to become acclimated to college work and the new and (usually) more demanding expectations they face.
Leamson's definition of learning borrows from biology:
Learning is defined as stabilizing, through repeated use, certain appropriate and desirable synapses in the brain. This definition implies that learning is not exactly easy... Students do not understand learning in these terms. And because the results cannot be seen in a mirror, the value of permanent brain change is lost on many. Like anyone else, they will avoid strenuous effort if there appears to be no point to it. The danger... of a completely reactive philosophy of teaching is that it can produce a pedagogy that maximizes a student's comfort level - a situation that is not compatible with learning. ... Because so many [students] do not really know what's in their best interests, your efforts can put you at cross purposes with their desires. It is for that reason that a useful philosophy of teaching cannot be just reactive. A philosophy that develops in a reactive way and completely out of experience runs the risk of producing a pedagogy that merely accomodates students' felt needs. (pp3-5)

Leaving comments

At my main school, I can book time in a computer lab and supervise my students while they struggle with registering for Moodle, sign up for Flickr accounts, etc. I have also created Moodle classes for some other classes I teach at other schools. However, those classes are not held in computer labs, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t be necessary. Today, though, I managed to book some time in a huge lab (over 100 computers; my 35 students were lost in it!), and took them through the Moodle registration. As that did not take long, and as I had the room for 90 minutes, I also invited them to take a blog tour - and leave comments, then write about the experience in their Moodle Forum.

Of course I pointed them to the blogs I've had my students create. But I hadn't realized (or had forgotten) that Blogger's default setting is to allow comments only from people who are Blogger registered users. My students today were not, so they were frustrated in their attempts to leave comments. Fortunately they could leave comments on my WordPress blog (and some of them did).

Tomorrow, I will have my blogging students change the settings so that anyone can leave comments. At least for a week or so, to help boost traffic.