David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

It Just a CTRL-C Now

When I started teaching myself to program computers, I had to have a book.  Radio Shack had a great book that came with their TRS-80 micro-computers (they were called micro-computers back then).  It was simple, well sequenced and funny.  Apple IIes came with a book, but not so good.  Learning PHP and MySQL also required books –– really thick ones.

It’s different today.  Anything I’m trying to get a computer or a web site to do, someone else has already tried and succeeded, and with the help of others who have already tried and succeeded.  Today, you simply tap into the conversations that they had, and you learn as well.  The result has been an expansion of knowledge about coding and an explosion of ideas for how to use that coding.

Anyway, I’ve been working for a number of months on one possible feature for Citation Machine that I suspect could greatly improve its functionality.  I’ve seen it before on other sites, but could not figure it out in such a way that it would work on all major browsers and both platforms (haven’t tested Linux yet).

It may sound trivial, but if all you had to do is submit a citation form and then simply press CTRL-C to copy the citation, and then CTRL-V to paste it into your document – well I think that’s huge.  Until now, you had to click into the box for the citation, and then double click or triple click to select/highlight the entire citation, and then CTRL-C and CTRL-V to move it into your document.

Now, thanks to the conversations of dozens of programmers who are better than me, you just submit the form and CTRL-C for the bibliographic citation.  To get the footnote you can double or triple click there, or click the [Select] button beneath it to have it selected/highlighted so that you can CTRL-C.  Same with the parenthetical citation.

Please comment if this causes any problems for you.

Elevate, Empower & Energize

OK! This was Wyoming. So there were dinosaur skeletons everywhere.  Tyrannosaurus on the right and Warlickosaurus on the left.

During my presentation, Finding ‘It’ on the Net, at the WyTECC conference the other day, someone asked in the backchannel,

“How do we get educators to understand that students (should) have the freedom of using the Net during class?”

It’s what I love about being able to visit the chat transcript and comment on the attendee’s observations and questions. It extends the conversation and broadens the learning – including my own.

I seems that one way to convince reluctant teachers might be to ask that they imagine their classrooms with really smart students, and imagine the energy that they would generate – and then help them to understand how the Internet is becoming an extension of our/their own brains. Ask them to think of the things that they do today, that they aren’t smart enough to do without the Net. I’d have no trouble doing that.

If students can lookup and evaluate information on the Net and on the fly during classroom work and classroom discussions, extending their own brains, then it may elevate the class, not to mention empower the learners.

The Most Amazing Construction Projects

Constructing a building takes into consideration a great deal as this infographic shares. To begin with, the materials, climate, and foundation must sustain the structure, there must be enough men and women to complete the project with enough knowledge to put into the construction, finances are a major consideration, and of course time.

These construction projects take these into consideration, and a great deal more. Do research into various construction projects your students find interesting and find out how these ideas were factored in. For instance, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, what could have been done then, and what can be done now to prevent a building from leaning.

What other things must be considered during construction? What simple machines are used during construction? How is the climate and the soil under the building a factor when choosing a location? How do people finance the building of these massive projects?

Blog: http://visual.ly/most-amazing-construction-projects

Infographic: www.rockanddirt.com

Tardigrades.. from space?

Tardigrades.. from space?If there exists a species on this planet that did not originate here, and that species is one we have already discovered, it is likely the Tardigrade. Though they are just barely microscopic, they seem to share many characteristics with humans. This particular scientist discovered that these guys seem to be spread evenly across the Earth. Most importantly, however, it is the only known Earth-dwelling creature to be able to survive in the extreme conditions of space.

Have we been co-existing with an alien life-form we didn’t even realize was there? Maybe it’ll only take a little bit more prying to find out.

2,000 Years of Continental Climate Changes

This infographic, found on Cool Infographics, shows how the climate has changed over the past 2,000 years in seven regions of the world (nearly all five continents, but not quite). Each color change represents the 30 year mean, and the increase and decrease of the temperature over time can be viewed. How do you think the mean was found before modern technology?

First of all, the infographic shows that North America and Antarctica share a similar temperate trend, and the five remaining regions share an opposite trend. On top of this, the arctic regions are experiencing a warm up and the other regions are showing a cool down. What could cause each of these phenomenon?

Share this with your classroom while studying global warming and other long term weather changes. This is a good example of what global warming can lead to. However, it can also be noticed that the major changes in temperature in North America and Antarctica began around 1200, long before the modern chemicals that are blamed for these changes. What are other explanations?

Blog: http://goo.gl/MFlTU


Preceden (click to view video)

I have been working on the history of my home town, and the book I am using is organized by subject and time, making it a little difficult to keep track of events as they occurred. I just came across this great website that easily allows you to create a timeline. It can be useful for both you and your students.

This will allow you to create both events and time periods, categorizing items by color, and by creating new layers. This is a great way to organize history for your students, and it can be accessed at home as well.


Eye-Opening Statistics on Littering

Littering is a big problem in our country. A single cup may not make a difference, but if everyone threw away a single cup, it would add up very quickly. At the same time, seeing someone recycle may make someone else recycle. So you recycling your one can make make someone else do the same.
We are overflowing our cities, states, countries, and planet with trash that could easily be recycled, or reused. Neighborhoods are having to be built beside landfills because there is not enough space for people and trash. It is just as easy to recycle as it is to throw things away. Keep a recycling bin outside of your back door, or in the same place as your trash can. Usually recycled materials can be taken to the same places as trash. Many landfill have a place to add recycling, and for those who live in cities and get your trash picked up, recycling can also be picked up. In addition to this, recycling bins are often beside trash bins in public places. So there really is no reason for you to not recycle. Check out these statistics, and contact your local recycling center for statistics on your areas trash problem.
Blog: http://visual.ly/eye-opening-statistics-littering

Too Many Universities? Too Many Graduates? Too Much Debt?

This one’s been knocking around in my head for a few days, and it’s one of those “thinking out loud” posts where I’m not sure about the track I’m on. It’s OK.  I think that it was Bertrand Russell who said something like..

What’s wrong with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves, while wiser men are so full of doubts.”

It started with a conversation I had with one of my younger brothers. He is writing a family book about the life of our father (I’m doing the one about our mother). He reminded of a particularly difficult time when my Dad and I were not on the best of terms. It was a strained period, partly because he spent much of his world-view-forming years with the flag-waving culture of World War II while I spent pretty much those very same years with a flag-burning culture – Vietnam.

After spending two years in college, I’d felt that I needed a different kind of education, a real-life schooling that a university was not going to provide. I had been attending a community college, and most of my friends where working real jobs at the same time that they attended class, which in that part of the country meant working in a mill or a factory.

To make a very long and complicated story short and sweet, I put a hold on college to work for a while, getting a job at a Gastonia factory that made chain saws. My father was crushed. He was certain that I was stepping into quicksand, and that once I left school, I’d never be able to return. His dream was that all his sons would earn their eagle badges and college degrees – and I was turning my back on that dream and choosing failure.

Working in that factory was an education. Among other things, it convinced me that without an education, I would never be able to choose my work. I would never be able to mix passion with vocation. But that’s not the point of this writing.

Mostly, because I had taken drafting in high school, I pretty quickly moved up; from machine operator, to materials handler, to set-up man and finally, quality control. It is a track I could easily have continued, moving up, and having opportunities to creatively contribute to the success of the company, and perhaps even, one day, make my father proud.

But I was smart and better than that.  I had always been destined for college, not a factory.  I returned to college (in no small part because I love my father) and graduated a few years later with a history degree and a teaching certificate. What I’m trying to say is that for decades, we have convinced ourselves that success meant getting a college degree, because nothing less than that degree could bring success. Has this notion of college-or-nothing led to a brain drain, of sorts, from other important and critical quarters of the economy. I am grossly generalizing here, but this thread of thought has reminded me of a story that Bill Clinton told in his book, about how the smartest person he knew in his home town, was the man who pumped gas at the local service station.  Today, the smartest man we know is majoring in philosophy at the University of…

It was Audry Watters’ Wednesday blog post, Don’t Go Back to School… Or Do that provoked me to go ahead and write this down. She describes her son’s decision not to pursue a college degree, and I think of my own son’s decision to leave campus and rethink what he wants to do. I have faith that they will both find their ways, and make us proud. But I suspect that contributing to our problems are the myths about formal education that have guided our parenting and that persist in being part of the framework of our culture.

At least all of the sons of my father earned their degrees and we all got our eagle badges. What’s left, is that we all become Presbyterians. :-)


Is it Important Enough to Collaborate?

As a matter of disclosure, Ethan Warlick, whose comment I am responding to here, is my nephew. He will be graduating from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington next month and moving on to the real world of work and learning by joining a social media startup. I’m not sure if this is why I’ve elevated my response to full blog-status, or because of the story he tells, that..

..one of my roommates recently received a failing grade on a paper for “plagiarism.” Whether it was or wasn’t, he says he “missed a quotation mark,” I think that it will be interesting to learn new ways to deal with plagiarism from the summit! Especially from a collegiate perspective, as I hear about issues on campus constantly.

I scanned through a number of definitions of plagiarism from a number of sources and the most inclusive one came from Wiktionary, “The act of plagiarizing: the copying of another person’s ideas, text or other creative work, and presenting it as one’s own, especially without permission.”(Plagiarism, 2013)

There seem to be three parts here, or three questions. Did he copy the work of another person? Did he present the work as his own? ..and Did he get permission to use the work? Considering these three questions, I would have to read the offending paper to determine if he committed plagiarism.  But in my own work, attributing the expressed ideas of another person is more than just punctuation.

When I write (or draw, paint, compose, etc.) something, I am presenting it as my work — a representation of my ideas. When the expressed ideas of another adds value to my work, and I include the expression of those ideas, then it is my responsibility to credit the creator of that expression; and that is not simply a matter of punctuation.

Quotation marks simply, “..set off and represent exact language (either spoken or written) that has come from somebody else.” (“Purdue online writing“) They indicate ownership, but they do not attribute the owner. To avoid plagiarism, I must identify the creator and do so in a way that the reader will not fail to recognize the information’s source and the roll that it plays within my work. That credit best falls within the text along with some form of assistance to the reader who wants to validate its accuracy, reliability and validity.  If Ethan’s roommate credited the work with a phrase such as, “John Battelle recently said in a lecture..” or “Berkman Center fellow, David Weinberger wrote in …” Well, the writer isn’t presenting the work as his own, and is not plagiarizing.

So, if the roommate was simply careless in his punctuation, then was the failing grade fair? From a student’s point of view — that is to say, academically — then perhaps it was not fair. However, from a learner’s point of view, especially if the learner is preparing himself for endeavors that will rely on written communication, then I might consider it a fair, if not authentic, response.

When we finish school and begin to work (and continue to learn), we can still fail by leaving out a quotation mark. A potential client, customer, or employer can, and often does decide to choose another provider because it appears that I have used the words of another as my own. In my opinion, the concept of intellectual property should be an integral part of our basic notions of literacy — receiving, perhaps, even more attention than it already does.

But that said, I’ll let you in on a little secret; something that my teachers never shared. In the world, after formal schooling, we almost never do anything, that’s important, alone. It was one of my surprises when I left the solitude of classroom teaching to work more directly with other educators (district office). Those other professional educators were constantly asking me and each other to read their writing before they sent it; and I adopted the habit myself, when what I needed to say was important. Almost every day Brenda and I ask each other to read our emails before we hit the send button, and we usually catch each other’s careless mistakes. When the conveyance of an idea is important, then it takes more than one head to effectively construct its expression.

This leads me to wonder, are your school writings important enough that instructors encourage you to read each other’s work? ..or are they just grammar?


Plagiarism. In (2013). Wiktionary. Wikimedia. Retrieved from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/plagiarism

Purdue online writing lab: How to use quotation marks. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/577/01/

Clipart, curtesy of http://internet.phillipmartin.info


Today, School is a Little Less Interesting

Added Later: There are great teachers out there today, who could be greater.  There is only a thin line between a good teacher and a great teacher.

There is a growing percentage of America’s teachers, who have never taught in classrooms without the intimidation of high-stakes testing.  My daughter student-taught under a supervising teacher whose short career had been dominated by the pressures of preparing her students for the North Carolina End-of-Course Test.  It’s why she, like thousands of other graduates from NC’s schools of education, choose not to enter one of our classrooms, because it’s not the teacher she wanted to become. (Silberman A1)

Every year, there are fewer teachers who have known the experience of confidently entering their classrooms with creativity, passion and the freedom to replace their textbooks with learning experiences that are unique, personal, powerful and authentic.  The rest have only known themselves as teacher-technicians, checking off standards and managing instruction by crunching data.  

Mark Ahlness' CB Logo
I was reminded of it this morning, while scanning through Class Blogmeister (see note 1) correspondence, and learning that Mark Ahlness has retired.  Mark was among the first teacher-users of CB, posting his first blog entry in July of 2005.  He continued, over the following years, to empower his learners by making them authors, sharing his creative techniques with other educations and being one of the chief leaders and supporters of the CB community.

I told him that I feel a pretty deep sense of sadness at his retirement, and explained that I too am retiring – though, I am stretching it out over the next several years.  But I do this believing that I am leaving education in the hands of courageously passionate and creative teachers.

The classrooms of Seattle, Washington are now making due with one less such teacher – and formal education will be a little less interesting without Mark.

We must kill high-stakes testing before we do not have anyone left, who remembers how to be a teacher-philosopher.

Great luck to Mark Ahlness on all his future endeavors. 

Note 1: Class Blogmeister is a blogging platform that I built and launched in late 2004.  I created it because there were no blogging services at the time that were designed for the classroom.  It continues to live, but I do not promote it, recommending other services instead, when I am asked.

Note 2: My semiretirement has begun, though I will continue to work for a good number of years to come.  I’ll simply be pursuing other interests in between a declining number of speaking engagements.

Silberman, Todd. “Not Enough Teachers.” Raleigh News & Observer 1 May 2002, A1. Print

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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