David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

Were We Ready?

A few days ago my son posted this short statement on Facebook:

We weren’t ready for the Internet

He got some affirming comments and I just added,

Because of the Internet and other advances in telecommunications and broadcasting, we have become a world of nations divided by ideology instead of nations divided by borders. You can’t “storm the beaches” of the ideas that are contrary to yours.

Being a Digital Detective
Being Literate Means being a Digital Detective

This is actually something that I’ve thought about for quite a few years and the reason I spent the last 15 years trying to convince teachers to redefine literacy.

The fact is that we believe what we read on the Internet, because we were taught to believe what we read.  Our schooling was purposely limited to textbooks, compelling (and not so compelling) lectures and library resources selected by librarians with advanced education.  We try to limit our students’ learning to what is reliably accurate.  As a result, our notion of what it is to be literate is limited.  Can you “read and understand what someone, who you trust, has handed you to read.” ..and can you answer questions about it on a test?

In my efforts, I respelled the 3 Rs with 3 Es.  Instead of teaching children to read, we should be helping them learn to Expose what is true.  To expose what is true, you must learn to read it.  But being able to search for, find and synthesize the information, and select that which is most appropriate to your situation, has become just as critical as being able to read it.

I use to suggest to teachers that they should, at every occasion, ask their students, “How do you know that’s true?”  I added that students should be free to ask their teachers, “How do you know that’s true?”  I suspect that if political candidates were regularly asked, “How do you know that?” and we demanded answers, our leadership might be quite different.

The other Es were:

  1. Learning to Employ information, instead just teaching students to calculate numbers
  2. Learning to Express Ideas Compelling, instead of just teaching students to write a coherent paragraph
  3. There was a 4th E – exposing, employing and expressing information with respect for and devotion to what is true, Ethically using information to answer question, solve problems and accomplish goals.

Marimuse Interview

In 1993, while I was working at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and exploring the educational potentials of the, then emerging, Internet, I ran across an intriguing and inspiring summer project being conducted at Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.

With the local school district, they invited a diverse group of students who would be entering fourth, fifth or sixth grades (all at-risk of failure) into a MUD  or Multi-User Domain.  Essentially, a MUD is a text-based virtual environment.  Think SecondLife  where the environment is read about, instead of seen graphically.

This particular MUD was empty, flat asphalt.  These students, some of whom you couldn’t get to write their names in a classroom, were challenged to create a virtual city in the MUD, by learning a simple programming language and describing its buildings, parks and their own virtual homes, in all their richness, with words.

You can read what Howard Rheingold had to say about the project here.

At the end of the project, I invited a number of the organizers and volunteers to a virtual office I was maintaining at MIT’s MediaMOO, where my avatar was known as Peiohpah.  There I interviewed the team about their experience. I had acquired a virtual video camera, which recorded the exchanges.

Here is a portion of that interview played back on Pei’s TV.

[on Pei's TV]      ***********************************
[on Pei's TV]      **   C a m p   M a r i M U S E   **
[on Pei's TV]      **  An Interview with the staff  **
[on Pei's TV]      **      of the first virtual     **
[on Pei's TV]      **         Computer Camp         **
[on Pei's TV]      ***********************************
[on Pei's TV]
[on Pei's TV]      . . . the camera pans left to right over
                 Pei's Studio
[on Pei's TV]  A cozy corner with two comfortable sofas
               arranged for conversation in front of a large
               picture of a schoolhouse. Curiously, the
               walls of the schoolhouse appear to be
               transparent. There is a copy of Tuesday's
               *New York Times* on an end table.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila smiles at the camera
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "I'm here with a few friends today
               to talk about a project that they have been
               involved in this summer, Camp MariMUSE.  I
               call them friends although I have never met
               them face-to-face, and don't even know the
               sounds of their voices.  Yet I have
               profoundly enjoyed their companionship by
               interacting not only with their words, but
               with their imaginations, and -- most
               importantly to this interview -- with their
[on Pei's TV]  Pei turns to the rest of the group.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Hi, Pei"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon  looks toward Pei, pleased to be
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Why don't we start with my guests
               introducing them selves."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody waves to TV land
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K giggles
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, ""I am Lila on the MariMuse, a
               volunteer for the project.  I am a student
               at Phoenix college, a returning student"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "I am Billie Hughes aka Avalon
               on MariMUSE.  I worked with the team that
               first brought Muse to Phoenix College."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei senses that another member of the
               MariMUSE team is looking for them and
               disappears suddenly for parts unknown.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila waits for Pei to return
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I am Miss-K on the Muse, and
               Susan Oram in RL (Real life) -- the school
               librarian at Longview Elementary School. "
[on Pei's TV]  Pei has arrived.
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Hi Wlad!"
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "I am Rod Brashear, Woody on
               Marimuse.  I am a student at Arizona State
               Universtiy-West and also work for the
               Arizona Department of Education.  I
               volunteered to be involved with the Longview
[on Pei's TV]  Lila waves to Wlad, and thinks she has seen
               him before ;) "
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Hi, Wlad"
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Wlad, would you introduce
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Hi, and I am Jim Walters.  I
               work at Pheonix College and am intensely
               interested in this medium."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Is that everyone?"
[on Pei's TV]  Lila thinks that is all for the moment,
               Platoon will join us later"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Thanks"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon turns toward Pei,anticipating a
[on Pei's TV]  Pei reads from his clipboard, then faces
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Avalon, would you begin by
               explaining how Camp MariMUSE came to be?"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Wlad and I were in the library
               one day when the Dean walked in.  We were
               excited about what Muse was doing for our
               college students.  She suggested we do a
               summer camp for kids."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We jumped at the chance and
               the rest is history."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Avalon had heard a rumor that
               Joanne, the principal at Longview, might be
               supportive of a technology linked proposal.
               So we set out to meet with her."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "wlad and Av planted a seed and
               didn't realize how big the tree would be.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "...and still growing!"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "it's rather like falling into
               the rabbit's hole with Alice."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei grins with understanding
[on Pei's TV]  Lila laughs at the rabbit hole analogy
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "So it began as an environment for
               college student?"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "We did try to start with the
               basis that it could accommodate learners of
               all ages."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "But college students were the
               group we began with because that was the
               group we had access to."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We tried it first with our own
               students, but always dreamed of a huge one
               room school for learners of all ages."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The dream is starting to come
               true, isn't it?"
[on Pei's TV]  Lila nods agreement
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "We took some risks in bringing
               in some of our own students, then to try to
               offer a class entirely in this environment."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei turns to Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Miss-K,  Could you describe some
               of the landmarks of MariMUSE that your
               campers saw when they first entered the
[on Pei's TV]  Woody notices sweat on the brow of Miss-k.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila hands Miss-K a tissue
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K smiles sickly!
[on Pei's TV]  Pei reaches over and touches Miss-K's hand!
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Well, we went to Lady
               Starlight's castle first. "
[on Pei's TV]  Pei's eyes widen with excitement.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "We also visited some of the
               places the first group of campers had
               created.  Also, Some of the campers spent
               quite a lot of time in an amusement park."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "A couple of the volunteers had
               created a space station that was the initial
               home of all the Longview campers."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Tell me about the students who
               participated in Camp MariMUSE?"
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "Do you want a feel for what
               they were like in RL, when they entered the
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, “Yes!"

[on Pei's TV]  Avalon sits back listening to those who were
               with the children the most to talk.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Well, it was quite a mixed
               group of children.  Our school is very
               multi-ethnic and those groups were
               represented at the camp."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon looks at Miss-K remembering just how
               diverse the group really was.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila remembers being surprised at the young
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The kids were all going into
               the fourth, fifth or sixth grade.”

[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The children who attended were
               children who were definitely at-risk for
               failure in school either because of their
               back grounds or skills.  They were chosen by
               the teachers at Longview on the basis of who
               we thought might benefit the most. "
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "The first day of camp was an
               exciting day.  Students had heard exciting
               rumors and were very eager, with a bit of
               confusion and trepidation, to come to a
               college and work with the MUSE."
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "HI Pei, sorry I interrupted"
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Platoon, my man! gime five!"
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon ^5's Pei
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon sits back and listens
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "The first couple of days the
               children were very quite and shy.  After the
               comfort level was attained the kids were
               conversing in the muse and RL with real
               excitement and interest"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "They seemed very young, and shy
               and seemed to be wondering why they were
               here, but then they got started began having
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "How did the students first
               approach the text-based virtual environment?
               What was their early reaction?”

[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "On the first day, I heard
               whispers of, "This is dumb."  By the end of
               the first session, all the campers agreed it
               was about the coolest thing they had ever

[on Pei's TV]  Lila recalls the excitement of the children
               when they left for the bus, how anxious they
               were to come back the second day."
[on Pei's TV]  Lila recalls how quickly the children became
               conscious of correct spelling"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "I had worried that the ones who
               couldn't keyboard might become discouraged
               and quit, but they just hung in and their
               skills kept improving."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Even this morning some kids
               were asking about getting back on the system
               so they wouldn't lose their keyboarding
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Those of you who were volunteers,
               how did you assist the campers and what sort
               of impact did this experience have on you
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "My best the very best
               experience I had was when I started paging
               some of the campers and ask them if they
               need help...and they responded where are
               you...and i said that I am kinda far away
               from you...they couldn't imagine that "
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "I thought that was so cool to
               have to convince them that I am about 20
               miles away from them”

[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "She was having difficulty with
               him being in the same virtual room with
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "To build on Platoon's comments,
               one child initially refused to believe a
               volunteer was really in California."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei smiles
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight says, "And another looked for
               a volunteer in the disk drive."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad ecalls one student looking in the disk
               drive slot trying to see Angus."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei laughs and laughs and laughs
[on Pei's TV]  Lila laughs at the remembrance
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "What, exactly,
               did the MariMUSE campers do on a daily
[on Pei's TV]  Woody pulls out his muse curriculum daily
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "every day the students were
               asked to complete a journal entry.  They
               also wrote at least one article per week for
               the newsletter.  They were also responsible
               for doing some creating in the MUSE."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad recalls some of the homework and how
               serious the students were about getting
               together their descriptions and setting
               their character names.
[on Pei's TV]  Azure_Guest says, "What amazed me was that
               they were so unwilling to leave for break."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody adds that they felt three hours was
               too short of a day on the muse.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Do you remember how Ginji would
               go home, make her sister help her research
               so the cave could be exactly what she
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "At the end of the first week,
               the students were wanting to come in over
               the weekend..”
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight says, "They were all very
               proud of their work."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Ginji wears her Phoenix
               College t-shirt often."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Above all, we learned that
               this medium was exciting to students, it
               captivated them despite its text-base.  And,
               they could handle the coding.  They were
               reading and writing for 3 hours a day,
               thinking and problem solving, and loving
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "It taped the intrinsic
               motivation of all the persons connected to
               the program.  Students Teachers, and
[on Pei's TV]  Pei nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Have the kids come back to school
               yet?  If so, what are they saying about the
               MUSE now?"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Everyday I am asked, WHEN can
               I come back on line?"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "The children are eager to get
               back on-line and are stating that they have
               projects to work on, and they really want to
               check their mail."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I called all the MUSE kids
               into the library this morning and they were
               all talking at once.  They did not want to
               leave to go back to class."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We believe we are just seeing
               the tip of the iceberg.  We believe we are
               on the wave of the future.  This medium is a
               window to a new way of learning."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon looks at Miss-K remembering the child
               who said, “You don't think I am stupid, do
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The kids are so proud of the
               NY Times article.  They all want copies of
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "How did the parents react to Camp
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "We had an enormous turn out on
               the parent day.  We were amazed.  The
               parents are especially proud of their
               children.  I think it raises their self-
               esteem too."
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Many parents had to take off
               work, with no pay, to attend any function to
               which they were invited.  Such as
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Some even rode over on the
               school bus to be here."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "When the parents first met with
               us, PC volunteers and Wlad, There was a very
               small turn out.  After the camp was over
               there was almost 100 percent parent
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Running Wind's parents went to
               great lengths to attend graduation, they
               VERY proud of him and his accomplishments."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "And parents who had never heard
               their children talk about what they were
               doing at school were getting rave reviews
               and daily updates on the camp activities."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We invited the superintendent
               who was amazed at the children's creativity
               and the amount of writing they did.  We also
               invited state representatives who felt the
               excitement.  And we had parents who knew
               their kids were really excited about and
               successful with learning."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "On graduation day, it really
               felt like one big family celebration."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad laughs remembering how he helped
               Running wind entertain two of his
               younger relatives.
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Remember, this was only a 3
               week camp.  All of this happened in 3 short
[on Pei's TV]  Lila shakes her head, and says, "Hard to
               believe we did all that in 3 weeks."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei 's heart is full!
[on Pei's TV]  Woody throws time out the door.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Were there any real surprises?"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "It seemed like a magical
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "I was very impressed with the
               increase in global awareness."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I was blown away by the
               research that the students initiated!"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "One of the other teachers
               committed this week about how important it
               was for these kids to see the volunteers
               from the college working at their jobs,
               volunteering, and going to class.  It
               helped them see they could go to college
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "It was a time of being
               completely accepted."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon grins at Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon  says, "it was a time of beeing
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Actually, I still get misty
               eyed about it. "
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon hands an embroidered hankie to Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K giggles
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "What plans do you have for the
               future of MariMUSE?”

[on Pei's TV]  Avalon has been assigned to work on grant
               writing and assessment so we can continue
               and can learn as we proceed into the future.
               This is a major commitment from the college
               to a very important project.
[on Pei's TV]  Woody boogies about the future.
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "By the 15th of September, we
               should have 12 terminals installed at
               Longview for the students to use.  There
               will be a 9600 baud modem line to the
               college.  We know that the equipment will
               work with that speed.  We want something
               that will work right away, so that we can
               get the kids back on-line."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K squeals in delight
[on Pei's TV]  Pei applauds
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K will never get anything done once
               those terminals are in!
[on Pei's TV]  Pei rolls in the floor laughing
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon grins and grins and grins with
               excitement about the future.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K wrings her hands thinking of so much
               to do and so little time.
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We have very strong support
               from the Longview, Phoenix College and the
               district offices to continue and build on
[on Pei's TV]  Pei looks at his watch and turns back to the
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Viewers...I am speechless!"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K smiles
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Except to say that I am deeply
               moved by these people and what they have
               accomplished this summer.  It is impossible
               to know all the consequences of how they and
               the experiences they have provided have
               touched the lives of a handful of children
               this summer.  Or how the technologies and
               techniques they are pioneering will effect
               lives in the future.  But my bet is that it’s

[on Pei's TV]  From MediaMOO, this is Peiohpah saying "good

In re-reading this interview I was struck by four ideas.

  1. The campers were engage in self-directed learning, because they were doing something with what they were learning. 
  2. Their enthusiasm had nothing to do with slick graphics and booming sound effects. It was text. 
  3. The campers were working hard, though they might not have called it work. Students who are engaged in this type of learning experience often call it, “Hard play.” 
  4. There seems to be a direct relationship between learner-engagement and parent-engagement. 
  5. Young Learners need to see adults model meaningful learning.

Rumors of “Its” Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

That’s my opinion — and by It I mean BOOKS.

On Saturday, I’ll be attending EduBloggerCon in Philadelphia, where the sessions will be of an unconference style. This means that the expert will not he standing in front of the group. Instead, the expertise is expected to come from the group. The facilatator is tasked with generating the conversations that draw that expertise out while minimizing the venting that sometimes erupts.

One issue that frequently comes up is their almost exclusive exposure our learners, in their native info experiences, have to short and independently focused media messages and the highly abbreviated messages that they share with each other. The concern is that millennials are not prepared and are disinclined to tough out longer stories or thoroughly explore deep and complex issues. I have run across research that seems to support these concerns – and I share them.


When I think of my own experiences and my deep love of reading, the idea of the novel’s decline seems so incredibly unlikely that I fear it not even a little. I’m not an addictive personality, but I am addicted to stories. I love and crave long, deep, rich, wet, stories. I hate when they end. I particularly like series. At any time, I have two fictions going, one in audio and the other in print. It’s why I walk two to four miles a day, so I can pick up on my story.

I haven’t always been that way! Have you? I hated to read when I was young. Reading books was work and there was no joy in it. I was not, nor am I now, a strong reader. It’s still work for me. But a good and richly told story, or an intriguing new way of thinking about something (currently reading Visualizing Data by Ben Fry), is more than worth the work, because I grow in the process

Before my Junior year of college, I prefered the pampering delivery of content and stories by network television. But in college, friends and more open-minded teachers introduced me to books that were not on standardized recommended reading list. I discovered the great stories of Arthur C.Clark, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Herman Hesse, and many others and cannot think of a time since when I did not have at least one book with a bookmark in it.

  • Members 1,362,317

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Now, what got me going down this path this morning (when I should be working on slide deck for ISTE) was my wife’s desire to have a way to easily record the books she is reading along with short personal reviews. I showed her a couple of library services, spending more time on Library Thing, my favorite. Then I started digging a little deeper — further procrastinating my upcoming presentation — and found their Zeitgeist page. It features the fifty largest libraries maintained by readers, fifty most prolific reviewers, twenty-five most reviewed books, seventy-five top authors, and much more — all based on the data generated by users’ use of the service. You can see of their vital statistics to the right. When I look at this, at the people who are not only reading, but wanting to share their reading — well I feel fairly secure in the continuing validity of the bookcases in our home.

- Posted using BlogsyApp from my iPad

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Books Written

Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
(2007) • Lulu
• Amazon
Raw Materials for the Mind

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