Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Career Focus Magazine - Another New Product from CIMC

I wanted to introduce you to a new product from CIMC. Career Focus is a new career exploration and preparation guide. This 32-page, full-color magazine combines essential guidance with web activities and "skill builder" opportunities to help prepare users for college and the workplace.

Topics include career clusters and pathways; plans of study; personal selling points; online tools; college planning checklists; interview strategies; and keys to career success. Career Focus also provides workplace re-entry strategies for those who have been absent from the workplace for a number of reasons. It is a concise guide to planned success for high school students and adults.

Contact the Customer Service Division at 800.654.4502 to place your order today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TweepsMap: Map Your Twitter Followers

I found an interesting site called TweepsMap that allows you to visualize your Twitter followers by country, state, or city. I have always been a big fan of Google Analytics for this blog, but TweepsMap helps with my curiosity of just where my followers are coming from. I also think TweepsMaps can assist you in determining your marketing effectiveness with Twitter.

According to the site:
Will you send tweets without my consent?
No, we only send tweets if you keep the automatic Tweet checkbox on the home page selected, or explicitly click the Tweet button on the map

Why do I need to authorize TweepsMap every time I visit the site?
We don't store the access token, once you leave our website and your session expires we delete the authorization token you provided us from Twitter

Will you store my twitter authentication credentials once I leave your site?
No, we only keep your authentication token as long as you stay on our website.

Not all my followers are showing on the map?
Some twitter accounts don't have their location set, or is not set to a city, state or country hence we are unable to determine the location of these accounts. Our tests have shown that less than 10% of followers don't resolve to accurate locations.
Try TweepsMap and let us know what you think.

25 Worst Passwords of 2011

Is "password" your password? If so change it immediately! I realize the temptation to use a simple password that you can remember and to use it on all of your accounts, but it isn't very smart. If they can hack one account then the next account will be hacked (let's say your bank account).

SplashData created the following list of 25 worst passwords based on millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. Here is the top 25:

1. password
2. 123456
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123
21. 654321
22. superman
23. qazwsx
24. michael
25. football
According to Splashdata CEO Morgan Slain:
"...if consumers or businesses are using any of the passwords in the list, their passwords should be changed immediately."
"Hackers," Slain said, "can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords. Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft," Slain said. "What you don't want is a password that is easily guessable. If you have a password that is short or common or a word in the dictionary, it's like leaving your door open for identity thieves."
Even though thieves have more sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal today than ever before, they still tend to prefer easy targets, Slain said.
SplashData offers some basic advice to make your passwords more secure:
  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters.
  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites.
  • Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.
Please read the article in its entirety at: When "Most Popular" Isn't A Good Thing: Worst Passwords of the Year – And How to Fix Them

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

50 Free Apps We’re Most Thankful For

Image from
Earlier this week, Lifehacker asked readers to share the free apps they are most thankful for and they received thousands of votes covering the desktop, mobile phone, and devices in between.

I am happy to see that a few of my own favorites are on the list including Dropbox and Skype, but I have also found several apps that I'm not using that I need to check out.

Here are Lifehacker's top 50 free apps we're all most thankful for (and a few of their own).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do You Matter?

You matter today...Change a heart...Change a mind...Change a mood today. This is your assignment....YOU matter!
Angela Maiers gave a great presentation during TEDxDesMoines that I wanted to share with you (link):

I also wanted to share Angela's blog and a portion of her latest blog post:

The 12 Most Important Ways to Let People Know They Matter
  1. Begin and End your sentences with “YOU”
  2. Acknowledge Everyone
  3. Listen With Interest
  4. Click HERE to read the rest of Angela's list.
Please take a few minutes to read the rest of her post. See what a little encouragement does for this kid?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jane Hart's 2011 Update: Top 100 Tools for Learning

Jane Hart, in the Learning in the Social Workplace blog, just released her final tally for this year's survey.
Here are a few quick observations from the author:
This year, as for the last couple of years, the #1 tool is Twitter. But here are a few observations on this year’s list.
  • The list is dominated once again by free, online social tools - and proprietary content development tools continue to decline.
  • The top three tools – Twitter, YouTube and Google Docs – retain their positions from 2010.
  • Other tools have moved up the list since 2010. This include Vimeo (up 41 places) and Yammer (up 37 places).
  • There are 23 new tools on the list this year, the highest placed of which is Google+, followed by TED and
  • Other tools have moved down the list, and some have moved off the list completely. Notably this includes Firefox (which was actually the #1 tool in the first survey of tools in 2007) and Second Life.
If you are interested in a more detailed analysis, take a look at:
The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011 (The final list and presentation in full)
Best in Breed Tools 2011
Winners and Losers 2011
Top Tools 2007-2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Technology Skills Should an Educator Possess?

I read a post by Laura Turner on the Digital Learning Environments site that I wanted to share with you.

"20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have" made me pause and wonder about the technology strengths and weaknesses that I possess. I think I know quite a bit about many of the skills listed below, but do I know enough to help others? I think that is where laziness has set in. I probably know more than many of my peers and staying at that level of knowledge is nothing short of lazy because it serves no one except myself. I need to gain a more in-depth knowledge of these skills and share.

Realistically, you would probably not use all of these technologies, but you should be knowledgeable about each of them and how it could be/might be used in a classroom. At the least, I hope you will increase your knowledge in a few of these areas and then share what you know with others!

Here are the "20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have:"
  1. Google Tools Knowledge
  2. Google Earth Knowledge
  3. Wiki Knowledge
  4. Blogging Knowledge
  5. Spreadsheets Skills
  6. Database Skills
  7. Social Bookmarking Knowledge
  8. Social Networking Knowledge
  9. Web Resources in content area
  10. Web Searching skills
  11. Web2.0 Tools
  12. Interactive White Board skills (SmartBoard and Promethean)
  13. Website design and management skills
  14. Presentation Tools
  15. IM knowledge
  16. Video and Podcasting
  17. RSS feeds
  18. Mobile and Handheld Computing
  19. Virtual Worlds
  20. Collaboration & Communication Tools
The article also includes detailed information about the first 5 technology skills. The rest are discussed in the articles below:
20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have, Part 3
20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have, Part 4

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader

One of my favorite bloggers, Sue Waters on The Edublogger, has created "The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader." The post is based upon the new Google reader interface and is broken down into the following seven categories:
  1. Intro to RSS and Google Reader
  2. Setting up Google Reader and adding subscriptions
  3. Managing Subscriptions using Folders
  4. Reading posts inside Google Reader
  5. Reading posts from Google Reader on an iPhone or an iPad
  6. Creating a blogroll using Google Reader
  7. Creating a public page using Google Reader
I highly recommend that you use a reader, if you are not currently doing so, as it can greatly simplify your life by reducing your emails and by managing your learning. If you are using a reader, Sue's post can show you a lot of tips and tricks that you may not know.
In case you aren't familiar with RSS feeds and readers:
  • The information from a blog, website or wiki is known as an RSS feed
  • Feeds on a blog (or website) are generally marked with the orange icon above or else there is a piece of text like "Subscribe here"
  • Generated in XML format
  • Also manages and monitors all the feeds to which you have subscribed
Please read: "The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader" by Sue Waters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thomas Jefferson: A Pioneer of Personal Learning Networks?

Some people have recently questioned my "need" to be constantly connected to social media like I am. They argue that social media may be ok during their time at work, but why would they want to be “connected” at any other time of the day? What happens at "work" stays at "work"...right?

So what is my answer? Why am I always connected?

Thomas Jefferson

I know exactly what you are thinking…what does an influential Founding Father, the third President of the United States of America, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy have to do with social media? How could a man that lived from 1743-1826 have anything to do with a web-based application?

Actually, for me, Jefferson’s design of the University of Virginia and his thirst of knowledge (Jefferson once stated, "I cannot live without books” and by 1815, his library included 6,487 books) are what influence my desire to develop a shared connection with others.

Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village (The University of Virginia)
Quite simply… I like to learn and social media allows knowledge to come to me in several forms, from a variety of experts, at all hours of the day.

As I visited the University of Virginia and Monticello twenty years ago I left truly amazed at the variety of knowledge that Jefferson possessed. I’m not talking about “Jeopardy” knowledge (knowing a little about a lot), but an in-depth knowledge across many disciplines.

I know this may be a stretch for most of you, but Jefferson’s original architectural design of the University of Virginia is the 1817 structure of today’s personal learning (PLN) or personal sharing network.

The University of Virginia Magazine by Robert Llewellyn
His u-shaped design with the Rotunda located in the center provides his century’s version of the PLN. In the design of his “academical village,” a democratic community of scholars and students are to coexist in a single village which would unite the living and learning spaces in one area. This “academical village” has, to this day, been a thriving neighborhood, a close community of faculty members, families, and students for generations.

For Thomas Jefferson, learning was an integral part of life. The "academical village" is based on the assumption that the life of the mind is a pursuit for all participants in the University, that learning is a lifelong and shared process, and that interaction between scholars and students enlivens the pursuit of knowledge.

As an adult that is far removed from a university setting, a personal learning/sharing network becomes my "academical village." It is a place where I can learn, a place where I can share, and a place where interaction can drive my pursuit of knowledge.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A No More Important Time for Librarians and Libraries

I wanted to share a TEDxPhiladelphiaED video with you by Joyce Valenza. The speaker takes you through the last 20+ years and chronicles the evolution of libraries through the eyes of Sally Madonna, Sally Spears, and Sally Gaga.

Libraries are something that many of us take for granted, but there has truly been a shift in their focus as a result of technology. Libraries are now participatory and "it's a place to create, to invent, to share, and to explore." "They are more transformational than transactional." Technology has allowed students to conduct original and meaningful research...research that can make a difference. The ability to make a difference is exciting to me and a great "selling" point to students. Technology has allowed students to be timely, to be relevant, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

I have followed Joyce's blog, the NeverEndingSearch, for the last couple of years and I would highly recommend it to anyone as she provides lots of great resources and insight into a variety of educational topics. Again, I hope you watch the following video and I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of a shifted library.

About the speaker:
Joyce Kasman Valenza loves her work as the librarian at Springfield Township High School (PA)! For ten years, she was the techlife@school columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Joyce is the author of Power Tools, Power Research Tools and Power Tools Recharged for ALA Editions. (PowerTools Remixed is currently in progress.) Joyce is a Milken Educator, an American Memory Fellow, and a member of the Library of Congress Teacher with Primary Sources cohort. Her Virtual Library won the IASL School Library Web Page of the Year Award for 2001. She has won her state's PSLA Outstanding Program (2005) and Outstanding Contributor (2009) Awards. Joyce is active in ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ISTE and contributes to VOYA, Technology and Learning, LMC and School Library Journal. Joyce speaks internationally about issues relating to libraries and thoughtful use of educational technology. She considers herself a mother and founder of the school library Geek Tribe, SchoolLibraryWebsites, New Tools Workshop, TLNing, TL Virtual Café, TL Ning, Pathfinder Swap, School Library Websites, and TLGuide.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Instructional Design: Start With the Assessment!

I wanted to share a blog post with you written by Doug Peterson from Questionmark:
eLearning Design: Start with the Assessment!

I would venture to guess that many elearning designers/developers start designing their new elearning course “at the beginning” – they start writing content and gathering illustrations, then maybe work in some delivery considerations, go through the review and sign-off procedures … and only at the very end do they remember, “Oh, yeah, I should probably have some sort of quiz or test.”

Dr. Jane Bozarth is an accomplished elearning designer and developer, and her latest article in Learning Solutions Magazine is called Nuts and Bolts: The 10-Minute Instructional Design Degree. In her article she recognizes that a lot of elearning designers and developers come from other disciplines and may not have much formal training when it comes to elearning, so she provides eight recommendations for designing and developing the best elearning possible.

Her #1 recommendation? Design assessments first. Jane writes:

Too often we create assessments and tests as an afterthought, in a scramble after the training program is essentially otherwise complete. The result? Usually, it’s a pile of badly written multiple-choice questions. When approaching a project, ask: “What is it you want people to do back on the job?” Then, “What does successful performance look like?” “How will you measure that?” Design that assessment first. Then design the instruction that leads to that goal.

For example, I used to support the call center agent training for a large telecommunications company. It was important that the agents come out of the training with an understanding of the software applications they would be using at their station – not just the correct values for certain fields, but an understanding of the application itself, including how to log in, how to navigate, which fields were mandatory and which were not, etc. Therefore we knew we had to include software simulation questions in our assessments (something that can be done amazingly well with Flash in Questionmark Perception), which in turn meant that we knew we had to include simulations in our training.

Does this mean that your elearning will be “teaching to the test?” Some people might see it that way, but I would suggest that since the test reflects the desired behaviors back on the job, teaching to that test is not a bad thing. And by working backwards from the specific desired behaviors and the assessment of those behaviors, your training will be very focused on just what is needed.
I hope you will read all of Dr. Bozarth's article, "Nuts and Bolts: The 10-Minute Instructional Design Degree." The CareerTech Testing Center offers 100+ skills standards and assessments and we have long advocated that skills standards should be the foundation of instructional design and assessments. Whether it's K-12, Higher Ed., or CareerTech education, we are preparing students for the workforce. Successful job performance for our students is our ultimate goal and I think that Dr. Bozarth is correct when she states that we should, "Design that assessment first."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transform CTE From an Educational Backwater Into an Engine of Our Economic Recovery

A recent National Review article by Andrew P. Kelly, “Beyond Home Ec: Vocational Programs Are A Good Investment”, presents a strong case for career and technology education (CTE).

The author cites several issues concerning CTE such as the “skills gap” issue, a mismatch of skills in college graduates and high school students moving into postsecondary programs, and the education policies that perpetuate this problem. The author also mentions how students at the secondary and postsecondary level desire for learning to be tied to the world of work.

The article also goes on to cite the underfunding of CTE despite the obvious need and evidence in support of it, the lifelong economic benefits of graduating with a CTE-focused degree or certificate from secondary and postsecondary institutions, and the efficiency of the public dollar when it is applied to CTE programs.

Here is a short excerpt from the article:
For post-secondary students, evidence is mounting that the payoff for occupational-certificate programs of at least one year can be quite large--often outweighing the benefits of an associate or bachelor's degree. Nationally, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce estimates that 43 percent of workers with occupational certificates and licenses out-earned associate-degree holders, and 27 percent had higher earnings than bachelor's-degree recipients.

Evidence from Florida reveals a similar pattern: Graduates with a post-secondary certificate from a Florida community college earned $2,500 more per year than bachelor's-degree recipients from the state's four-year colleges. Certificates in health care, nursing, and information technology tend to post the strongest returns, and almost 45 percent of the certificates awarded in 2007-08 were in health care and related fields.
I hope you will take the time to read the article in its entirety as "with some initiative and imagination, policymakers and leaders in the private sector can transform CTE from an educational backwater into an engine of our economic recovery."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute

June Weis at SREB shared the following article with me and I wanted to know your thoughts???
Matt Richtel, New York Times, Grading the Digital School - A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, October 22, 2011 (Third in series)

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

Click HERE to read the article in its entirety.
What are your thoughts on the use of technology in elementary education?
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