Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Connections versus relationships

Yesterday in class we discussed social network analysis and how it emphasizes the connections existing in a network (community). One of the critiques of the method that was raised was that connections may not mean the same as relationships. I have seen this in the community of youth that I have been observing. Sometimes we see that it appears the youth have relationships with each other --but they are only connections without the deep underlying affects related to friendship. In one example, a young man who had many, we thought strong, connections to others within the group stopped participating. Even those whom we thought had good relationships with him were unable to encourage him to participate anymore. Apparently he was connected to members in the group, but did not have real, meaningful relationships within the community.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Contributing to the function of the LC

In my literature review on learning communities that I am doing for Dr. Reeves' course, I discuss several ways of conceptualizing what a learning community is, including a functional concept--or rather, that every member of the community is working towards the same function or end goal. One example might be a learning community organized at work or a classroom community, clearly organized for a particular purpose.

Going back to this youth religious community that I've been observing, there's one boy who emotionally connects to our community--he has friends in the group, he has participated before, he is always welcomed when he comes, he enjoys the activities we do, etc. However, he has stopped participating in the community. This was surprising--why would he stop when he has such a strong emotional connection to the members of the community, so we thought? In talking with his family members, we learned that he did not feel he was doing his part, playing his role, in the community, and so he didn't want to participate and just be a freeloader. So even though we would welcome him anytime, he no longer felt like part of the community because he was not actively participating in supporting the goal or function of the community.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This is not the blog you're looking for!

If you are at AECT and happened to read about our BlogTracks presentation, you might have noticed I have this blog listed.

This is no longer the right blog for that presentation! My BlogTracks blog is

In the words of the great blogger, Obi-wan Kenobi:

This is not the blog you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along! :-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The importance of a model for newcomers

As I was reading on page 156 of Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice book about negotiating pardigmatic trajectories, and how these can be reified milestones or actual people, it dawned on me that Wenger was talking, in layman's terms, about how people need a model for how to perform, achieve, and become. This is something I believe strongly, and I have written up some research about the importance of modeling in helping preservice teachers as they join the teaching community.

Anyway, in my own community of church youth, I have seen the importance of models. For starters, they will only ask members of the faith that they feel model good conduct to work with the youth, because they want the youth to see good models of grown adults. Also, the youth themselves are models for each other, particularly the older ones. Our scout troop is small, and contains boys of all ages, whereas most troops are only comprised of 12 to 14-year-olds. At scout camp, our troop was remarkably better behaved than all the others and must more productive. Why? Because we have a great 16-year-old Senior Patrol Leader that sets the tone and gives the model, and the other boys fall in line with him, whereas other troops have boys all of the same age, without clear models of older youth for them to follow.

I have also thought that in schools, children would learn more appropriate behavior, and we would see a decline in cliques, bullying, mob behavior, and better learning if the grades were more integrated so that older children worked alongside younger ones. The older kids would provide the model, and it would break up the cliques that occur when you have a bunch of kids of the same age associating together.

I don't know if that would really work, but it just seems logical to me that it could.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Graves' three parts of learning community

I haven't been posting here as much as I should for our class. OK, I haven't posted here at all yet! I'm going to have to come up with some method for reminding myself to do this because it's kind of out of my regular flow of homework, so I need to somehow remind myself to regularly stop and post on this blog and not get lost in simply analyzing the literature.

OK, first to define my learning community that I will observe. In my free time (who has that? :-) I am a scout leader and young men leader for the youth in my local unit of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). As YM leader, I try to teach the boys religious principles on Sunday, and then we meet on Wednesday nights for youth activities/scout activities. Then we have a monthly campout that I sometimes attend (there are other youth leaders as well). Our youth group is unique because it is composed of two of our church units: A regular English-speaking unit and a Spanish-speaking unit. These two units meet separately on Sundays but combine for youth activities on Wednesday nights. Ironically, I work with the Hispanic youth while Peter and others work with the English-speaking youth (and actually, "English-speaking" is a misnomer because they all speak English. However, the Hispanic parents often do not, which is why we have a separate unit for them to attend on Sundays).

So this learning community has the goals of 1) learning our religion; 2) learning good social, physical, and mental skills to prepare the youth for adult lives. This learning community meets twice a week (Sundays and Wednesdays, with occasional campouts on the weekend). They also see each other occasionally at school, but they attend a lot of different schools.

As leaders we want these youth to feel a sense of community together, that they will support each other, help each other, and that they will have similar goals. Sometimes, I feel this is working very well, and I'm pleased to see how well racial differences haven't kept the youth from getting along well and being friends. However, I also see where a few youth have not felt like strong members of the community, and of course I want to help them integrate into the community more. It is not surprising to me that those youth who are not as integrated in the learning community are not learning or progressing in the Boy Scout or young men program as much.

As I read the literature this semester, I will try to apply it to this learning community because 1) this is a group I really care about and want to succeed, and 2) it's a different type of learning community than I bet many others in the class will be observing, so maybe it will yield different insights!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This blog is being transformed!

As I posted last time, my "official" blog where I do most of my thinking about educational research has been moved to

I LOVE Edublogs. What a great community of educational bloggers!

Speaking of community, I am now in a "Community as a Metaphor for Learning" course with Dr. Julie Moore and Christa .... For this class, we are each maintaining a blog connecting our readings and discussions with our observations and experiences with learning communities. Because I don't want to create a new blog for this purpose (who needs another password and username to remember? :-), I will use this blog for that class.

So from henceforth, this blog is where I will talk about learning communities! But check out my other blog if you are interested. It's good. Really.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Movin' on

Well, since the day I entered the blogosphere and set up shop at Blogger as my first home, I knew this day would come. I'm packing my thoughts, and having them moved over to my home at Why? For several reasons. One, I love Wordpress and how it seems to stay a little more innovative and contemporary. Second, I like the edublogs community, just a bunch of educators bloggin' together! Third, I have more features available to me using WordPress. Fourth, the templates are just better! I'm sorry, but I've never been a fan of blogger templates, but I'm not much of a web designer, so I admit I couldn't do much better.

Thank you Blogger for giving me my first bloggin' home, the first online space where I could easily share my thoughts with others.

To you, my readers (all 2 of you! :-), follow me over to I've already been blogging there and have some things up to read as I get ready for a BlogTracks presentation this upcoming AECT convention.

See ya there.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Prepared to play

Somebody would think of designing something like this, a widget that looks like a detailed spreadsheet or important document so you can bring it up at a touch of a button to cover up that you have been goofing off at work.

Sheesh! What ever happened to honest pay for honest work?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

When (future) teachers cheat

It's not at all unusual anymore to see advertisements for companies who will write your English 101 paper for you for a fee. But I was surprised to come across a website today for a company that will actually write your dissertation for you. And for only $10 a page!

I had several thoughts about this:

• Thought 1: Can this really be possible? Do they collect the data themselves? Do the analysis? Or just the writing? I can't see them being able to write a credible dissertation without having collected the data and analyzed it themselves, but who knows?

• Thought 2: $10/page is just not enough! Who would slave away at writing an entire dissertation for what would probably be $2,000 max?

• Thought 3: If someone does think $10/page is a fair price for a dissertation, than what are all the ABDs belly-aching about? It can't be that tough, if you can charge someone else that little to do it, right?

• Thought 4: The fact that this service even exists is soooooo wrong! Their clientele would be doc students, future phDs! Future faculty! Guardians of the research in their field of study! Worse still, future teachers of future students! What will they say when their own students turn in papers bought online? Will they fail them for plagiarism? Or congratulate them on finding a good price?

Things like this really make me wonder if the Apocalypse is upon us! :-)

Computer affordances

I filed this Fox Trot comic away under "affordances of a design". It gave me a good chuckle. It reminded me of a story I heard of someone thinking the CD-drive loader was a coffee cup holder! It just goes to remind us as designers that if your design affords a certain action, you can bet somebody will use it for that action!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What would save me time

I just thought of a little design adjustment that could really save me time every day. I use Gmail, and I love how you can view the first few words of your email without having to click on the email. So if my friend answers my email with a "OK." or a "Got it, thanks," then I don't have to open the email because I'll be able to read the message in the standard inbox view in Gmail.

What would be cool is if Google could take that one step further and would let you hover your mouse over an email message and in a popup, read the first paragraph of the email (longer than that would be unwieldy, I know). I could probably read most of my email that way by simply hovering over each message ... without actually having to open them up. That would be schweeeet!

At least I think so. Anybody else?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Christmas all over again! (Macworld Expo)

Forget, the CES, every mac fan is more excited about Steve Jobs' keynote and revelation of what the new, killer Apple products are.

Fun comic from Foxtrot today about the excitement surrounding a Jobnote!

I'll be keeping a keen ear peeled tomorrow to catch all the news!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The end of Slashdot?

More on the quick rise and fall of technologies. I love Slashdot for its ability to inform me of technology news faster than traditional news outlets. I then learned about Digg two days ago. Now some have proclaimed Digg to be Slashdot's demise! My response was, "already?"

Steve Mallett, in an article getting "digged" quite a lot lately, gives some reasons why Digg is superior to Slashdot:

"Hidden submissions. While everyone agrees that a filter to the front page is a good idea it does leave the question of whether the stories are legitimately refused. I'm sure most are legit, but...

User moderated stories. Slashdot has a 'flavor'. The editor's. That's cool. It is their site after all, but people obviously prefer their own flavor. If you don't like digg's flavor who's to blame?

The biggest boon of the open backend is that you don't have to wait to see that big story to approved by moderation if you don't want to.

Comments. Flat threads appear to retard flamewars. You can also complete ignore some users. This was a feature if Kuro5hin originally I think. "

He makes some good points, particularly the value of users determining what gets on the front page rather than the owners of the website. I hope this means fewer stories on Star Trek/Star Wars and more on important issues instead (whoops, did I say that? :-). We'll have to see!

DVDs are dead - anyone want to buy mine?

Man! Everytime I start to get a good media collection going, the media of choice changes. I still have some of my favorite movies on VHS, and am grateful you can still find a VCR in some stores. DVD is a superior format, of course, so I've been happily buying new DVDs --- alot lately, as we don't have cable right now---and now feel pretty satisfied with our movie collection. Even more, my wife and I gave ourselves a new ClearPlay DVD player this Christmas so we could watch DVDs without the language, nudity, and blood (Clearplay is awesome, by the way, and they have a sell going on right now. Maybe I'll post on that sometime).

So what happens right after I buy all these movies and a new DVD player? Online pundits start declaring that the DVD format is dead. I knew it was, of course, with the rage of TIVO, and Intel's announcement of Viive at the CES show in Las Vegas this week. But to hear comments like this:

"The technology industry is in agreement: the DVD is dead. Consumer electronics companies have begun to show off what they believe will be the next generation of home video technologies."

Walmart: Will you take back my new copies of Hello Dolly and It's a Wonderful Life? What about the other DVDs I've bought recently? You see, I'd like to wait and save my money for the next big format ...

What's the use? Trying to stay up on technology will become increasingly impossible. So I guess we should just enjoy the technology we have now instead of worrying about whether it'll be obsolete tomorrow!