A bit about me...

I am a Professor of Professional Studies at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I am responsible for the design and development of the technology instruction taken by juniors and seniors in the College of Education. I have been teaching for over 40 years. In 1972 I became Dean of the College of Professional and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts/Boston and served in that capacity until 1979 when I was named Vice President of the Council for the Advancement of Experiential Learning. I came to "South" in 1988 to develop a program in multimedia.
Last Edited on April 22, 2009

Learning and Demonstrating Abilities in Public

I believe in public demonstrations of competence and abilities. All of the projects that my students, except two exams (word processing and spreadsheets) are public projects. They are either presented in front of an audience or they are available on the internet for public review.

In addition my teaching is public. Everything I cover in class is also available on my class blog, Dr. Strange's EDM 310 Class Blog. All of my instructional materials, whether handouts or videos, are available on the class blog.

I think that this method of demonstrating abilities is best for several reasons:
1. I can be held accountable for my evaluations if others care to evaluate my student's work.
2. Students often do better when they know their peers (or parents, or friends, or potential employers are watching.
3. Students can learn from other students.
4. Faculty can learn from students that are not in their classes.


Well, I am now convinced. I am a Twitter fan. First, I must admit that I was VERY skeptical about Twitter and never would have embarked on this learning journey without the push given by Mr. William Chamberlain (@wmchamberlain) and Ms. Angela Rand @USABaldwin. If you read my class blog or all of this Professional Blog you will read much more about them both. Thanks!

Why is Twitter useful to me?
1. It furthers several of my teaching objectives. I want to Collaborate, or as I tell my students I want them to change ClassROOMS to ClassSPACE, that is to make the world our classrooms. Twitter is especially effective in locating other teachers who are doing just that. We make connections and learn how to collaborate from them. I want students to be reflective students and reflective practitioners. Twitter led me to Mr. C who video tapes his fifth graders reflecting on their learning! What a wonderful example this is of reflecting on learning.
2. Twitter is full of tweets recommending articles, podcasts and especially web sites that are useful to me and to my students. I would never have encountered most of them without Twittering.
3. Twitter forces us to write in small chunks. My students rarely write, and when they do they never outline. If I make them write like Twitter does they will be closer to an outline than they ever have been before.
4. Twitter allows us to make use of other media: pictures, sounds (via links) and even movies (via links). I want my students to participate n the creation of listening/watching media since they are not of the reading/writing culture but only listen or watch. I want them to be contributors to that listening/watching culture, not just consumers. Twitter overs an avenue to facilitate that.
5. And you can use Twitter to get a laugh, sometimes at my own expense. And I believe having fun enhances learning!

Is Twitter useful for my students? I think so, for many of the same reasons I have cited above. But they must post their answers to this question as the last formal post to their personal blogs for my class. Then we will know what they think.

All of this happened because I constantly say: "I don't know. Let's find out." Twitter has become a 4 week class effort at finding out. It is exciting to be learning along with my students. And since only 2 out of 67 had known about Twitter before April1, they think I am "way out there" as far as technology goes!

If you would like a mini case study of a recent Twitter event of great importance to me, read my post on my class blog entitled Some Personal Reflections on Collaboration and Twitter

Still not convinced? You must read Mr. William Chamberlain's post #Comments4Kids Wednesdays on his blog At The Teachers Desk. It traces the origin and use of Twitter to generate readers for and commentators upon kids blogs throughout the world. My recommendation: join Twitter, search for #Wednesdays4Kids, and comment on kids blogs. You will learn a lot and so will the kids!

Encouraging the Reflective Practitioner

I was the founding Dean of the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts at Boston in the early 70's. I hired a lot of practitioners for this entirely competency based college. I wanted them to continue to be practitioners, not academicians. But the academy wants to judge faculty only as academics. Donald Schön, a renowned architect who had been recruited to teach at MIT, dealt directly with the problems practitioners face in an academic community in his wonderful book The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. (Basic Books, 1983). He also wrote Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions (1987).

What started as an interest in how to provide practitioners tools to defend their practical skills from academics turned into a conviction that all of us must be reflective practitioners of our professions. As a teacher, I must constantly reflect on my practice. That is what I am attempting to do through this blog. I require a Professional Blog from all of my students. I hope that they will use it as a public diary of their practice as professionals, sharing their reflections as they journey through the profession of teaching.

From the 3Rs to the 6Cs

Back to the Basics: Reading, Righting and Rithmetic (forget about spelling)! How many times have you heard this? Well I say "Hogwash!" No more 3Rs. Now we must have 6Cs!

What are the 6Cs?
1. Clouds In 1979 several Canadians predicted, in Guttenberg II that by 2000 we would have "all information in all places at all times. We didn't quite make it, but we are very close. In 1979 information was generally thought to be text. Now we understand information to be pictures, graphics, motion pictures, motion graphics and sounds. A lot more than text! In 1995 I predicted that we would have all information on silver discs. Was I wrong! It's going to be (already a lot of it is) in the CLOUDS. And now we really are close to all information being everywhere all the time, accessible by computer, tablet or iPhone in all its forms! It's in the Clouds!
2. ClassSPACE We teachers talk about ClassROOMS. But it is time to change that focus. Instead of ClassRooms, we must move toward ClassSpace. Every classroom can be connected to other classrooms wherever they may exist in the world. It is important to make those connections, to break apart the rooms and to create new spaces in which we interconnect classes, teachers, cultures, political conditions - all of it in ClassSPACE. The technology exists and some teachers arre already hard at work at this process. For one example, take a look at the interactions between Mr. Jarrod Lamshed, 5th grade teacher in Adelaide, Australia and Mr. McClung, 5th grade teacher in Noel, Missouri. Click for Part 1 and Part 2 of the class "visits" using technology.
3. Collaboration First, an admission. I did not assign a single collaborative effort in EDM310 this semester. That will change next semester. I have all sorts of ideas. In addition to the collaborative work with Mr. Chamberlain's @mrchamberlain team of teachers, I have already discussed a collaborative effort with Dr. John McCullough @cubprof, Professor of Educational Technology at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania. After ruminating on what I wanted to say here, I am also going to seek to have our students collaborate on one or more joint projects. The future of work demands that students be prepared to collaborate. Schools have resisted collaboration by students, preferring to judge each individual by evaluating his or her own work. The independent ear is fast disappearing. Tomorrow we will all HAVE to collaborate, and not just with those sitting next to us. Google, Apple and others are providing us with tools (many of which are free) that make collaboration easy and also provide ways t easily determine the contributes to the joint products made by each individual student.
4.Change If you want to really understand change, try teaching a course addressing the technological tools available and useful to teachers. They CONSTANTLY change. And our world is changing just as fast, primarily because globalization affects everything. How do we teach students to change? My initial reaction is that we must model the behavior we would instill. In other words, we must change ourselves.
5. Creativity If there is one response to change that is absolutely necessary, I would think it is creativity. How can we teach students to e creative? I do not have an answer, but I do think that we should encourage experimentation, avoid penalties for not knowing as long as there is a determined effort to find out. We must also do things. Create is a major part of creativity. So I return once again to a project based curriculum. And we must be inspired by things outside our current realm of thinking and living. That's why it is so important to see our classrooms as classes without walls. Note: Since I wrote this @jlamshed has pointed out a great speech by Sir Ken Robinson which I urge you to watch!
6.Curiosity It seems to me that we must figure out better ways of maintaining the curiosity demonstrated by young kids as they grow older. I think schools do much to stifle that curiosity by seeking "right answers" rather than "interesting questions." So I have added the stimulation of CURIOSITY to my list of things to do as a teacher.

I Am A User of Google Tools

I am a committed user of Google's Tools. There are seven major "tools" available that I use:
  • Documents (Word Processor)
  • Presentation Creator
  • Form Builder
  • Spreadsheet (which is also a Data Base as are all spreadsheets)
  • Reader of RSS Feeds
  • Google Earth
  • Picasa Image Manager
Why are these tools so valuable?
  • They are Free!
  • They allow for a collaborative effort which also produces a record of who did what when
  • Documents and presentations are available to online audiences if desired
  • Chat (in some cases also with video) is available to "distant" participants
  • Can't lose document (stored in the cloud, i.e. Google's server)
  • Accessible anywhere there is an internet connection without need for an application other than a browser
I have found Google's tool set to be enormously useful and beneficial in my teaching over the course of the last several years.

I Don't Know....Let's Find Out!

I love to learn and I want my students to love to learn. One way I try to accomplish that objective is to model the excitement that comes from learning. And that is perfectly OK to say "I don't know." because we can then say "Let's find out!"
This semester I decided that I, and my students, should engage in a new learning adventure about Twitter. For more information on this "Let's Find Out" effort see the entry on Twitter in this blog.

Reader/Writers or Listener/Watchers?

In 1995 I published an article in which I argued that a new world was emerging in which a "listening/watching" culture was replacing a "reading/writing" one. I went on to predict that books would be replaced by silver discs by 2010 ("A Cultural Revolution: From Books to Silver Discs," Metropolitan Universities, Volume 6, Number 1, pp. 39-51.). How wrong I was. Silver discs were merely an interim step in the revolution. It is now apparent that books are rapidly being replaced by "The Cloud." The number of readers, and time spent reading was decreasing rapidly in 1955. Both of these statements are even more true today. At the time I wrote the article many were wringing their hands over such a calamity. I felt that it was not reading/writing that was the concern, but whether the new generation of listeners/watchers could be moved from being consumers of the new media to producers/authors/directors of audio and video products. I am trying to involve students in creating and producing podcasts, audio books and readings, blogs, short videos, and tweets on Twitter so that they are "authors" and not just consumers in a listening/watching" world.


I use podcasts as a teaching tool. Podcasts are easily done. They are inexpensive to do. They are fun. And they are one way to turn our "listening/watching" students into creators/authors of the media they prefer to the books and written materials of the "reading/writing" culture of which I am a part. I discuss the contrast between "listening/watching" and reading/writing" cultures elsewhere in this blog.
Back to podcasts. The students in EDM 310 this semester have created 42 podcasts on a variety of subjects dealing with educational technologies and other educational issues. I call the podcast series It's Time for Technology Talk: Conversations with Future Teachers. You can subscribe to the podcasts through iTunes or on the special blog devoted to the EDM 310 Podcasts.

No "Burp Back" Education!

I am a vigorous opponent of "burp back" education. Yet it is endemic in our school systems, including our universities. Find some information that you think students should "know"; force it down them through lectures, readings, or even videos; give them a true/false or multiple choice quiz covering the facts you have determined that they "should" know; and ignore the fact that we have excellent evidence that people forget information (and skills) they do not use in just about the same amount of time that it takes them to learn those facts or skills!
Today we have almost reached the place where we have "all information in all places at all times." (Gutenberg II, 1978).
Our task as teachers, it seems to me , is not to teach and test for information but rather to teach students how to ask questions, describe things or events, compare and contrast what they describe, and make arguments for and against a variety of propositions. We need to demonstrate that what is not important is the "facts"you have in your head but rather the ability one has for asking questions and the eagerness with which one seeks to find the "answers" to questions. In learning these intellectual skills students will, of course, have to use facts (which are now easily accessible from a multitude of sources). In my teaching I have thrown out the easily graded tests and quizzes, the regurgitation of facts. Instead, I concentrate on projects and activities that teach students to THINK!

Blogs as Teaching Tools

I believe blogs are a very important teaching tool. They have many uses including: providing a space for links to students' work; links to important blogs; web sites; audio and video materials; or documents (including those in .pdf format); a summary of class assignments; support materials for students; presentations done in Google Presentation or other presentation software.
Student blogs provide space for students to write reports that are public, post pictures, videos or presentations that are useful in the class, and create links to materials that they are worth sharing.
Blogs have other positive attributes:
  • They are free!
  • They provide for comments from others and those comments can be monitored before they appear if that is desired. Comments can also be removed by either the sender or the recipient.
  • They can be private, public, or limited to a specific audience.
  • They can be accessed anywhere in he world where there is internet access.
Many examples exist of blogs used in all grade levels in all of types of educational institutions. My favorite at this moment is the class website of Mr.C (William Chamberlain), a fifth grade teacher in Noel, Missouri. Mr. C's website is an excellent example of how technology can be used creatively and effectively in elementary education! I urge you to visit it.
Links to the blogs of my students can be found on the right side of my class blog: EDM310 Class Blog Spring 09. Student Podcasts can be found at EDM 310 Podcasts.