Monday, December 12, 2011

Digital Tattoos

As you read the title “Digital Tattoos,” what do you image? Are you thinking of a tattoo that is easily removable from your body because it embodies the mythical and ethereal traits of all things digital? Something you can change on a whim?  OR . . . do you think of something you have put on the internet (or has been put on about you) that you can never remove, no matter how hard you work, there will always be a telltale scar? Where did your mind go?

Now, imagine you are a teenager who is still developing a sense of permanency and thinks tattoos are super cool – the more the better – especially the one on the side of your neck.
I have so many things I think about the whole idea of a digital tattoo, that I’m not sure where to start. Making comparison and contrast to an ink, body tattoo brings some tangibility to it – and may also open up some unusual perspectives.

It’s art, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Tattoo artists do some amazing work – it’s crazy.

What better way to celebrate art than to put it on your body.

What one person thinks is a disaster, another may see as a success. Perhaps you want to be remembered as the girl with too much teenage angst.  People have made millions by it.

There are some things we put out there that we WANT to stick to us.
The Hollywood myth is that tattoos usually result from a drunken whim. I suppose that happens, but most people I know with body tattoos have thought long and hard about it.
“Tattooing” yourself on the internet is so easy that most people don’t even think about the possibility. Posting a picture or making a blog post takes very little forethought. In fact, there is basically no ceremony at all.

Something you chose to do to yourself.

Few people are tattooed without their permission.
A by-product of a hasty or thoughtless action – either by you or someone else.

Most people realize the weightiness of a body tattoo and put much consideration into their message.  You don’t see a lot of tattoos of people puking on themselves at a party.

Although it seems hilarious at the time, you don’t see a lot of people think about how NOT funny a puking picture looks to a potential employer.
A body tattoo may seem like a good idea at the time, but people change. Neck tattoo guy may want to be a judge or spiritual leader later in life – will our society change that much?

Most people are willing to forgive/overlook adolescent or just plain stupid mistakes. We are all human, after all. But the reality is, the impression is already made.

I don’t want to beat a good comparison to death, but I may have.  I’ve run across the phrase “Digital Tattoo” several times, and it has made an impression on me. But, I am an adult.  Do you think the idea of a Digital Tattoo would make an impression on someone who is not yet an adult?

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

100+ iPad Apps Perfect For High School | Edudemic

As the presence of iPads in the classrooms increase, educators are looking for apps that enhance education. It is time consuming to hunt for apps, preview apps, and then decide if they are worth the effort to install to the iPad. has posted a list titled, 100+ iPad Apps Perfect For High School | Edudemic, on their website. These apps were recommended by educators in the Palm Beach School System who have giving their stamp of approval.

There is also links to apps for middle school and elementary school as well. I love getting teacher tested great ideas! Thanks, Shawn Beard for sharing the link!
Paying it forward!

Linda Jones

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Learning with Passion vs. Custodial Education

Linda shared this article about online education with me.  She knew it was timely as I am in my last week with the group of Eighth Floor participants going through the OnlineLearning Series this is a class that helps educators learn how to teach in an online environment.  I want to pull out a few points to share as I feel this is timely for everyone, every educator, not just my class.  I encourage you to read the article in its entirety:  Clayton Christensen: Why online education is ready for disruption, now.

The first point that really, really, really caught my eye was this: “Human beings with the best education tend to do best in the marketplace.”  My first thought – besides human beings, what living being even gets an education, and furthermore, takes it to a marketplace?  I will give you that I am a bit of a wiseacre, but come on.   Second thought – I totally agree.  When an education counts, those with the best have the best chance.  Third thought – those who learn online are more likely to get the best. They participate far more deeply in their own learning than those who learn in a face-to-face class. Online learners have to participate in every part of the class and their learning – they have to contribute to the discussion forum, they have to participate in group work, they have to make comments on a peer-review, etc.  In a F2F class, it is far too easy for most students to sit in a chair and passively observe the goings on in a class, whether that be lecture, group work, class discussion, etc. 

Next point: “The internet has changed how we interact with time.”  Ummmm . . . yep.  We have treated learning like work, 9-5, for so long.  Thus, the word custodial sits with us. Nothing about the term custodial education sounds interesting.  Nothing about being told I have to learn between the hours of 7:45 am and 3:30 pm sounds like it will encourage me to be a passionate life-long learner.  With access to the internet, I can be learning all the time and anytime, basically whenever I feel a passion for it. 

I also agree with another point made in the article: “We will still need teachers, but the skills necessary for success will be very different.”   Like many workers who have been replaced with “automation” in past centuries, teachers have been concerned that this technology will make them redundant.  Absolutely not. (I also absolutely would also not call a teacher a ‘worker.”But here’s what can/will/should change, we no long need to be consumed with lecturing or delivering content over and over and over.  Students can engage in a variety of ways with content at the speed and level they feel comfortable. They need the teacher to help them understand it and apply it. We will need to build deeper relationships with students. We will need to know even more about our subject matter and how “human beings” learn. 

I know most “human beings” don’t care to deal with change, especially if it is uncomfortable.  I am one of those, too, sometimes.  But, to me, this all seems exciting. I would like to think that I am contributing to a passion for learning and not a custodial education. Am I just crazy?

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Today while doing some background research for an upcoming conference, I stumbled across a fantastic website called iPodsibilities. The site's creator is Megan Wilson a Special Educator, and an Adaptive Technology Specialist, who has been recognized by Apple as a Distinguished Educator. Megan is an advocate for Mobile Learning particuliarly for special needs students.

iPodsibilities focuses on using ipods and ipads in the classroom. Megan's site includes app reviews, resources, adaptive technology, as well as lesson ideas. If you are serious about integrating iPads or iPods into the learning environment check out iPodsibilities.

As Megan states in her Blog, "Imagine the Possiblities!"
Until next time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Innovative Educator: Five Reasons I'm Not Flipping Over The Flipped Cla...

Up for some lively discussion? Check out the discussion regarding "The Flipped Classroom". If you are not familiar with the term "flipped" classroom this blog will help you get up to speed. After reading the discussion, what are your thoughts????
The Innovative Educator: Five Reasons I'm Not Flipping Over The Flipped Cla...: If you've read my thoughts about the Flipped Classroom in USA Today this week, you probably are either in agreement with my caution over...

Friday, September 30, 2011

7 Good Screen Capture Tools for Teachers

Have you ever been frustrated while training students or staff on some new technology tool? Need a new screen capture tool for your technology toolkit?
Richard Byrne author of "Free Technology for Teachers" discusses 7 Good Screen Capture Tools for Teachers in his latest blog .

Friday, September 23, 2011

We Video - Collaborative Online Video Editor

We Video - Collaborative Online Video Editor

In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes We Video collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. Check it out!

Linda Jones
Eighth Floor

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Tube for Teachers

Good news for teachers! You Tube has launched a You Tube for Teachers. A slight variation from teacher tube
and School Tube, You Tube for Teachers will give teachers tips that show how to organize videos as well as offer discussions on how to help struggling students through the use of videos.

Why use You Tube in your Classroom?
1. Increase student engagement
2. Free access to thousands of high quality educational videos
3. Use videos to lengthen in-class instructional time
4. Expand your impact by reaching a larger audience.
Check out the article titled Five Reasons Why You Tube Rocks the Classroom if you need more reasons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

Came across this article in the Harvard Education Letter The title caught my attention, as an educator who oftened struggled to design thought provoking questions for my students. The article,Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein & Luz Santana offers a different if not new perspective on learning, by having students design their questions using a Question Formulation Technique (QFT.) This technique helps students learn how to produce their own questions.
Teachers use QFT to introduce students to a unit, assess knowledge and to conclude a unit. The article includes all the steps you would need to understand and implement the process.
Love sharing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Snappy Words

No I am not talking about a list of words to use for quick comebacks, although Snappy Words might help improve your word choice.
We all like free web tools that our students can use Free Technology for  provides teachers with free websites and resources that they can use in their classrooms.
Snappy Words is a free online visual dictionary and thesaurus. Enter any word or phrase into the Snappy Words search box and it will create a web of related words, phrases, and definitions. Hover your cursor over any word or phrase in the web to read its definition.
Check it out!
Linda Jones
The Eighth Floor

Monday, September 12, 2011

YES WE ARE OPEN - From Construction to Destruction to Instruction

We had a record breaking summer. We offered the most classes we ever have. We had the most teachers we’ve ever had. We had the most enrollments we’ve ever had.  And we had the most fun we’ve ever had.  I would say the only dark cloud was all the construction in this area. Although presently inconvenient, it is much needed progress. Perhaps the most common remark people made as the rushed into class feeling late was that they could see the build for the last 20 minutes – they just couldn’t get here.  The good news is it is getting better and better all the time. Participants who come for classes this fall will find it a little easier to get here, but should still expect some construction.  Your patience and humor were much appreciated this summer. Finding the secret way in from week to week really was a challenge.

In early August a storm tore the roof of our building. Being the top floor, we bore the brunt of the damage – losing 3 classrooms and all the equipment in them.  Even though our offices we not seriously damaged, they moved us off The Eighth Floor until repairs can be made.  We are now ALL sharing a large, open room on the Fourth Floor. It has been a month and we are still alive and speaking to each other!  So far.
We have been told we should be back in our offices and up and running by the middle of October. (Hmmm . . . . sounds like the “two weeks” answer. All renovation takes two weeks, right? )   In absolute faith, we scheduled classes to be held ON the Eighth Floor starting in November.  Still, we couldn’t wait until then to have classes.  TTC and TCC both we able to find us some space here and there.  So we are able to do some classes in October. 

Even though we were able to find some classroom space, we didn’t think we would be busy enough, and we didn’t want to lose the momentum from summer. So, we came up with our “October Scratch n’ Dent Sale.”  The idea is that for the month of October, we would do District Requests for free.

OMG!!  We had no idea how popular this would be. Between the classes we had scheduled and all the District Requests, we can’t put our finger on a blank spot anywhere on the calendar for the month of October.  No Vacancy. 

This is great news!  I see a number of bonuses: we don’t have to worry about these classes canceling, we get to spend some time in new and different learning environments, we can meet consortium members who might never get to take a class on The Eighth Floor, and we can engage in more specialized and informal instruction.  It has been so popular that we are trying to come up with a way to do something like this on a more regular basis.

Hopefully we will see you at your location or ours at some point this fall.

Just sharin’
Lee Anne

Friday, July 29, 2011

Three Things I am Thinking About

Three things I am thinking about as the summer semester comes to an end.
ONE:  Summers are a blast at The Eighth Floor. I wish we could get that level of enrollment in the fall and spring semesters.  *sigh*    Maybe we can . . . ?
During the fall and spring semesters I miss the large classes and teaching every day, but in all actuality, we need that slower time so we can do research and learn new skills ourselves.  But, as great as learning is, it’s still not as fun as teaching a class to a room full of fabulous teachers. Just sayin’.
TWO: My paycheck doesn’t make me feel like this class evaluation comment does.
“I really enjoyed all I learned in this class.  The information and your modeling answered many questions for me, helped me develop a more critical eye for evaluating online courses, afforded me the opportunity to read the best research, and experience first-hand the best practices both as a student and teacher.”
If someone said that to me every day, I’d likely teach for free.  I know a lot of teachers feel the same way.  In fact, I am spending the summer with a whole bunch of them. There is something about being around these people. They love what they do and are inspirational simply by nature, I think. Here’s why I say that: they are spending their summer learning and no one is “making” them; they take time to share what they know with the people around them; they are constantly looking for ways to improve student learning; they love their students.  
THREE: Technology has changed me as a teacher.  I’m not even sure where to begin on this – which is why it is something I am thinking about.

  • I know that number one and first and foremost, I would otherwise be teaching English. Love teaching writing, but it has been an amazing challenge to learn to teach something completely new.  
  • I have learned more about teaching in the last six years than I did in the twenty before them.
  • I look at students differently, and I see my role for them in the classroom differently - facilitator or manager more so than “teacher.”
  • I don’t prepare for class as precisely as I use to.  I have to go with the flow and be ready for most anything and any student.
  • I spend more time getting to know what my students are focused on so that I can make their class time relevant to them and less time on what I think they don’t know but need to.  
  • I am more connected to learning networks than ever.  My influences expand beyond the building I teach in.
  • I learn most everything from people on the internet.  (not college professors – Yikes!)
  • I don’t lecture so much as I have a conversation in class.  How we consume information has changed – who can even listen to a lecture anymore.
  • I never teach the same class twice – I can’t!  Students’ needs change and so does the technology.
  • I am connected with my students on multiple levels – social media allows for this.

These are SOME of the things that technology has change about me as a teacher. Technology has made me keep on my toes. Sometimes, paying attention at that intense of a level can wear me down.  Most times, I love it.  I am particularly curious how technology has (or has not) changed other teachers.
So, not that there is even a grand point to this post – but these are three things I am thinking about today. 
Just Thinkin'
Lee Anne

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thinking About Rethinking it all . . . but I really just want to be playing.

It’s that time of year . . . meaning the time of year I try to take a few weeks off before the chaos of we call summer on The Eighth Floor!  Unfortunately, it’s not looking like I will get to be entirely work free. I have a new class I am going to have to create during my time off, but hey, I don’t have to drive into work to do it, right. Someone suggested the other day that I just rely on the book this first time around . . . really? Show me a book on this stuff, please.
Whatever.  I have some things I want to talk about because I have to get them out of my head and into someone else’s so that I can concentrate on my task at hand and get this darn class finished so I can golf and enjoy my time away from work!  If I am nothing else, I am a sharerer.
So, here’s the stuff:  In my research, I have run across many interesting ideas about where online education and technology integration and digital literacy are going, but I don’t feel like I can afford the time to really investigate and think about it right now.  So, I thought I would take it to the tribe for conversation.  (Love that word – check out this Seth Godin video if you want to know how ideas move these days )
First topic – Online Education.  Recently, I commented that we are better at online education now because we know better.  We have learned things like self-paced and one-size-fits all computer based training blows.  (Let’s call a turkey a turkey, okay – I’m short on time.) We now subscribe to the idea that community in an asynchronous learning environment is a must.  So, now I am wondering what we will learn next about online learning.  Will we learn that putting content in a virtual environment and creating community around it isn’t really all that great?  Can we be using online space better? Will we ever get a handle on blended learning?  Will we ever quit calling it blended learning – maybe just . . . learning?
Second topic – Rethinking the definition of teacher, learning, classroom, education . . . you get the idea – just rethinking.  There is so much talk about rethinking our educational system.  Okay.  There are some seriously compelling arguments to be made. But, no one seems to have any answers that don’t, in the mean time, harm the “learner. “  Many argue that schools as we know them have reached their limits in terms of real student learning.  Are we producing “knowers” and nothing even close to actual “learners”?   Is that likely truth a result of our blind focus on standardization?
I’m trying to see into the future – crazy, I know. But I thought I’d see if there was any conversation.
Just thinkin’
Lee Anne
FYI – many of my questions come from Will Richardson’s blog, Weblogg-ed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is Social Media Just About the Bandwagon?

The other day I responded to a discussion on Linked-In on the topic of social media – the questions was, should employees be allowed access to social media during work hours. Here is my comment:It depends on what they are using it for. The same could be said for using a phone or a copy machine or the internet - what are they using it for? Most employees, at one time or another, use these tools for personal reasons. If there is a problem, it is usually centered on that employee, not the availability of the tool.”   (It kills me that I ended two sentences with prepositions!!)
I do a great deal of my learning via social media.  I would likely not be able to do my job effectively without it.  So, I am of the mind that social media is a good thing.  But, as you might imagine, there are many who do not agree.  That’s okay. Not every situation calls for social media or even any technology at all – if you have been in one of my classes, you have heard me say that technology is not always the best tool to use for the job, it’s just one.   I say this to show you I think I have a practical view of where technology and social media fit.
I have actually been thinking quite a lot about this whole social media topic recently.  I am researching a new class I am doing this summer on digital portfolios/social resumes – NOT your mother’s eProtfolio – and the class is all about leveraging social media.  Several thoughts are banging around in my head, such as:
  • What do we think of social media?
  • Do employers take digital resumes seriously? (I have seen a lot of evidence that they do, but . . . )
  • What the heck is social media?
  • Do schools need a social media policy? (Most businesses have them . . . )
  • Many feel that educators should be developing curriculum, not pop culture, and that is all social media is. 
  • Why do we think the only use for social media is pop culture?
  • Is social media in schools too much of a distraction?
  • Can we help students learn to use these tools professionally - cuz they are all over them personally.
  • Can we ignore something that is so ubiquitous?
So, that’s what’s going on in my head right now.  I am trying to visit many sides of the topic. Invite me over!
Just thinkin’
Lee Anne

Monday, March 07, 2011

Are We Any More or Less Comfortable With Technology?

Are we any more or less comfortable with technology?  I have been asking myself this question for the last couple of weeks.  I like to think as educators that we are, that we have seen enough and been exposed enough that we no longer fear the unknown, that it is not unknown.  I also like to think that as educators we understand that it takes time to learn something new. But, gosh, I am not sure. Or am I mistaking fear for frustration – or is it the same thing? Where is the “negative” about technology still coming from?
Recently I did a couple of workshop sessions on social networking tools.  They were short sessions, 45 minutes. So there was not an opportunity to get into the meat of the tools (plus they didn’t have computers), but we would certainly be able to talk about the possibilities and what other educators were doing.  The first session went great.  There was much discussion and sharing.  The questions were positive and insightful. We laughed. We cried. I was blown away. Really.  The second session, however, was not so great – at least I didn’t think so.  I don’t know. Maybe they were hungry since it was right before lunch or they were just over “technologied” or something.  But there was not much about this group that was fun or positive.  It was pretty clear that they were frustrated and kind of angry.  But why?  I had only just walked in the room – been with them maybe 5 minutes.  Surely I had not had a chance to make them angry, yet. 
It all started with the first comment after we watched a short video on the power of technology.  I can’t remember the exact words, but it was along the lines of, “Technology is not necessary and takes up a lot of time.”  I agreed that sometimes, that is the case.  I don’t always need a pen or a book or even a chair to learn.  Think of it as just one tool that is available to you and your students. Trying to get the conversation back to social networking, I mentioned Facebook as a jumping off point. Pretty much everyone in the room had an account or knew what it was.  Facebook is an example of the power of social networking. Imagine having just a part of that energy in a classroom or a school?  They looked intrigued. Yeah!  We were on the right track. 
One participant, however, was not okay with going past this point. He did not have Facebook and felt that this conversation could go no further until he fully understood.  No definition or quick look or description was “okay.”  At one point he commented that if he has one student that doesn’t fully understand, he goes over and over it.  That’s wonderful!  I applaud him, sincerely.  I do that, too, if I can.  But, this is a workshop on social networking on a Saturday morning, and it’s almost lunch time and we are quickly running out of time to talk about social networking tools for educators. I suggested that this class might be a great way to get familiar with terms and start to build a foundation and big picture for this topic. Other students chimed in that understanding all this can’t happen in a day. (Thanks to those wonderful people.)   I could see his frustration building, but without completely turning the class into a Facebook lesson for him, I just couldn’t seem to find a way to get him to relax and just let some things stick to him. I could not convince him that he didn’t need to be able to use this particular tool right now to benefit from the discussion.  There were more, similar sticking points. In fact, he had a whole pocket full of them, such as they just didn't have time for this in class and there was no practical application for them. Anyway, you get the idea.  This teacher was not happy.  And, I don’t think he’s alone, I also want to say.
I am still thinking about this whole event, obviously, and trying to make some sense of it. I am trying to figure out why this wonderful teacher (and I know that he truly is a great teacher) needed to essentially hijack this workshop to find release.  Maybe this was a cut and dry combination case of poisoned well syndrome and too much technology for one day.  The first comment was negative and everyone just went rogue from there.  That is the LAST time I do a workshop right before lunch!!  Toward the end of the workshop, one participant shared about an article he read that said schools won’t be able to afford technology soon and they will have to make a choice between teachers and technology.  Talk about a slippery slope!  How did we get from technology is time consuming to integrate to that machine is taking your job and there is nothing you can do about it. Kill the machine!  Okay, so they weren’t screaming “Kill the Machine” at the end, but you get the idea.
So I am back to my original question:  Are we any more or less comfortable with technology?  
Just Wonderin'
Lee Anne

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Quality Matters on The Eighth Floor

Have you heard of Quality Matters? That’s okay, many have not. If you teach online or think you might be teaching online or work with people who teach online or do absolutely anything to do with anything teaching online – you definitely will be hearing about it.

Quality Matters is a nationally recognized program that is designed to certify that online and blended courses meet researched design standards as defined by the QM Rubric.  

Mere Mortal English Translation: These people got a wicked big grant and did a lot of research and came up with some design standards that can be used to build and shape online courses – to make them work really good. They created a rubric that is periodically updated to make the whole process easier. . What I like is that this process is faculty/peer-centered – meaning the conversations and evaluations come from your peers. This is not an evaluation of the teacher or teaching methods. This is a set of standards we can apply to the design of online courses. The focus is on alignment of learning objectives with activities and assessment. Additionally, I don’t feel that the rubric crushes creativity, individuality, or spontaneity. Double additionally, schools can evaluate classes internally or invite external QM trained peer-reviewers for a stamp of approval from QM.  I’m a fan!

Until recently Quality Matters has focused primarily on Higher Ed. There is now a Grades 6-12 Rubric. . As more and more K-12 schools offer online alternatives and standards based classes, this is available none too soon.

Through the Eighth Floor, I work with many of the Higher Ed and K-12 institutions in the Tulsa area. As online teaching and learning grow out of the early years, I see these institutions now looking for ways to find consistency online and a set of standards that will hopefully improve learning and retention. This is a struggle similar to face-to-face classes, but the online environment presents as many unique challenges and it does unique opportunities. We have learned that we can’t teach exactly the same way online that we teach F2F. The same goes for best practices in course design. We had to come up with a new way to look at online classes that guarantees more successful.

So . . . in rides the Quality Matters gang on their gleaming white rubrics. Yeehaw! I jest, but the reality is they really are almost super heroes. I have been running across this QM Rubric for years – encountered it in several courses I have taken in my quest to know more about the online world and have included it at a certain level in the Online Learning Series. The more I know about it, the more it makes sense to me. By the end of this month, I hope to be a certified QM trainer. I say “I hope” because the courses for trainers are HARD and not for the casual learner, not even a little bit.

This begs the question, why am I even getting certified . . . and I hope you are also asking what this has to do with you? There is now a growing statewide Quality Matters consortium here in Oklahoma, started by Dr. Dana Lindon-Burgett from Rose State – you may remember Dana as one of the facilitators in the Online Learning Series here on The Eighth Floor for several years. If you want to know more about the Oklahoma Consortium, contact Dana,  . AND, she’s great at explaining all this stuff.

Here is our list of current (and growing) affiliates in alphabetical order: 

  1. Francis Tuttle Technology Center
  2. Northeastern State University
  3. Oral Roberts University
  4. Rose State College
  5. Southwestern Oklahoma State University
  6. Tulsa Community College
  7. Tulsa Technology Center
I am getting certified as a QM trainer so we can offer training here on The Eighth Floor for QM consortium members in this part of the state. Some of the Higher Ed institutions are looking at offering online faculty a six hour training course on using the QM rubric. I imagine, without being required, that many faculty will be interested. I’ve taken it and it was worth the time. This short course was not challenging in the way I describe the trainers’ courses. I found this course to be quite enlightening. It helped me understand the QM rubric and get some practice applying it.

If you are teaching online, especially if you have been doing it for several years, Quality Matters will likely pique your interest. It has helped me see online instruction and course design from a variety of different perspectives. Plus, it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.

Here is a current list of QM Rubric Training courses this spring semester. Classes are open to members of the statewide consortium. These are all day workshops – but it goes quickly. If there is interest, we are happy to add more classes at The Eighth Floor! Contact Dana Lindon-Burgett for enrollment information 

  • Jan 11 Rose State
  • Feb 11 Rose State
  • March 4 Rose State
  • March 25 Eighth Floor
  • April 8 Rose State
Just Sharin’ 
Lee Anne