Google Book Project Almost There!

Today, we have an E-School News report that a settlement has been agreed upon, and now needs court approval.

Here’s some background…

Back in February of 2007, The New Yorker magazine ran a feature about Google’s intent to scan every book on the planet (the one’s in English to start with), and make a searchable database out of the verbal brew. The publishing industry had gotten up in arms about the perceived threat to its very existence and set out to block Google.

According to the E-School News report, the project is moving along.

The Google project would offer snippets of books to folks like us, researching from home or office, and full text to library patrons on site, free at the library. We at home or office, could, for a fee, read or buy the full text of in-print books, read out-of-print books, and  presumably, given state-of-the-art print-on-demand technology, buy out-of-print books that interest us. Imagine being able to search the entire printed universe…an infinitely beefed up version of Mortimer Adler’s Syntopicon that accompanied the Britannica Great Books of the Western World series.

If this sort of thing excites you, be sure to visit Project Gutenberg where you can download thousands of free books.

And while were at it, I used to lust after the entire Yale University Press publication of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Only $50+ per volume for many, many volumes. Even as a devoted teacher of American History, I could never figure out how to get that past my wife, Linda, the chancellor of the exchequer. (She may be the reason I’m not currently living in a cardboard box on skid road.)

Now Yale’s The Papers of Benjamin Franklin are free here. Go figure. But I’m definitely not complaining! (Thank you, Yale University Press!)

The E-School News requires registration to read the full article, but don’t worry, it’s free. You can get their stuff in your Inbox on a daily basis.

This is virtual culture shock even for a digital immigrant. 😉

To Be Me Or Not To Be Me? Is That A Question?

This post started out as a comment on some musings by The Science Goddess about male vs. female tendencies to use pseudonyms on blogs.

Here’s my coming out speech from the Blogger platform…

Choosing between a pseudonym and a real nym involves some complex thinking, but I’m not sure it’s anything but an emotional decision.

Writing as Repairman, although I still exercised enough restraint to remain “professional,” allowed me the belief that if I came on a little strong, there would be no consequences outside of civil, or at worst, flaming disagreement on the net. Then I spotted a local stalker who stumbled on my blog and put two and two together with local events and news. I realized that, even for a restrained anonymous blogger, anonymity is largely an illusion, and the only person being fooled is the blogger.

The next thoughts are reflective, and you think, “Is what I have to say worth saying if I attach my name and reputation to it?” That’s where the rubber meets the road, because the answer is, if you’re going to blog under your own name, you need to follow the same rules of civility that apply in face-to-face interactions with both people you know and people you don’t know.

So I’m thinking that the pen name versus real name question can be answered by deciding the purpose of your blog. If you’re into satire and criticism, or humor at the expense of your doughball local educators, there’s no doubt that you need a pseudonym. If your purpose is to discuss education issues and comment on life in general, and you’re not afraid of people pointing at you and laughing at your thoughts, your real name bespeaks belief in your own words and vouches for your integrity.

I get the urge now and then to rip someone a new one (I was born and raised a Brooklyn boy, after all), but for that I would need to be someone else, immune to the hurt and injury I may do to the victim. But that’s not my blogging purpose, even though I sometimes feel the pull to stray into that minefield. (But all bets are off if someone engages me on my own turf, and abuses truth and logic.)

Lest some of my blogging friends feel I am disapproving of anonymity, let me say that I dearly love to read the satires and the reports of unnamed education clowns. That’s entertainment for me and catharsis for the writer. Go for it. But protect yourself.

If you find yourself leaning mostly toward “non-fiction,” however, a real name makes you think twice about what you say, and that makes what you have to say better.

I do know of bloggers who have multiple blogs that serve their various personas. Maybe that’s the ticket. But real name or not, remember that nothing is ever truly anonymous on the web, and it never goes away. (The Science Goddess is the first blogger who made me aware of that fact.) l

Now, let me ask one more question here…does the predominance of female use of pseudonyms (according to The Science Goddess) mean that women are more snarky – in general – than men? 😀 (Oooh, I can already feel the flames!)

From MW Webster’s Collegiate…

Main Entry:snarky
Etymology:dialect snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate

2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner *snarky lyrics*
-snark£i£ly \-k*-l*\ adverb

PS: You’ll enjoy this post by Miss A on Blogging Professional Development…

"Can We Keep ‘er Dad?"

I began this blog as an experiment, knowing nothing of the edusphere or the amazing opportunities for collaboration that can occur on your own time. Although I used a pseudonym, a local person who knows a little about me could have (an some apparently did) follow the bread crumbs to my secret identity.

Why secret? Well, if I somehow managed to create a mess, I thought I could just vanish the blog and forget about it. But of course, the internet never forgets. So I kept it simple, sane, suitable for general audiences, and responsibly critical.

Since I’m retired (and elected), nobody can fire me, and I don’t have to put up with any bozos who might try to restrict my first amendment rights. So I asked myself, shall we keep the blog? The answer is yes. The connections, collaborations, and insights shared have been great, so Repairman becomes yours truly, Hugh O’Donnell.

For those of your with Blogger platforms, my “comments” nom de plume will automatically change. For you WordPress folks, I’ll sign in all over again.

Funny, I do feel the freedom!

Educational Technology That Works…

…is the title of a promising wiki (like I know so much about wikis, novice that I am) that is devoted to classroom instruction integrated with Web 2.0 (about which I’m still learning).

I’m excited for several reasons.

Marzano’s work — featured on the wiki — recognizes the convergence of education research and he emphasizes the practical application of the research.

This wiki may be a good model for the experimental Edubloggers wiki.

And most interesting of all, this wiki is an electronic version of six publications (plastic comb flip-books) that were put out by our district curriculum and instruction department back in 2000 to remind teachers of the main things to remember about the instructional strategies we were then beginning to promote: differentiated instruction; individualized instruction; cooperative learning; brain-based research applied to learning and instruction; multiple intelligence theory application; and assessment literacy (Stiggins, et al).

Those little books were fantastic — they are collector’s items now (for the geeks among us, anyway), but they were expensive and time consuming to produce. The wiki takes the place of all that and even spreads the joy of contributing around to whomever is willing and qualified.

All this discovery is total fun!

Don’t Worry, We’ll Make It!

The best of plans can run into rough water, but the deep pool coming up next is calm and has good fishing.

The wiki kick off has been revised and will not require so much attention that principal’s will be shaking their collective heads saying, “So that’s where my star teacher lingered instead of getting ready for the first days of school!”

We anticipate many different conversations on different education topics. Not everyone of us burns with the same enthusiasm for each of them, so appearances at all gatherings are not expected.

If you’re an edublogger with an interest in instructional improvement and you’re curious about what grading has do with it, speak up here and maybe join the conversation.

From this point RepairKit may reference the Edubloggers wiki occasionally, but my blogs on “grading for learning” will be independent. I’ll be looking for you on both sides! 😉

New Wiki In Town! 2

Here’s an update on our wiki…

First, participants discussed wiki goals, use, and format. Then Eric edited and finalized the Front Page that outlines where we are at this point.

We’ll begin our exploration of standards-based grading with a warm up wherein we analyze a couple of grading situations that made major metro papers. In SBG Warm Up Draft 1, we’ll look at the articles separately, comment on each of them, then compare the situations and draw some conclusions about what’s being described in the articles. (Articles are on this page.)

Standards-Based Grading, or SBG from here on, is also known as “grading linked to standards,” and “grading for learning.” (Thanks to Exhausted Intern for the new term and three-letter acronym!)

The end goal is to produce a document or series of wiki pages that can 1) serve as a primer for educators new to SBG, 2) facilitate a quick review for educators who have been exposed to the concepts, 3) be a training tool for professional development sessions.

This topic is red hot and ready to roll.

New Wiki In Town!

Eric Turner of Second Hand Thoughts has been hard at work constructing a wiki for edubloggers to share and polish thoughts about the education topics near and dear to their hearts.

While poking around in Eric’s new construction zone, I came upon the above image. It’s from Eric and it pretty well sums up the aim of the new wiki.

Any more conversation/ideas about how it’s going to work? Let’s hear from you!

Eric’s my choice for ad hoc wiki foreman at least till it’s up and running. How does that sound?

Great Book/New Way to Publish

Just a quick note on a laid-back Sunday…

Yesterday, in the mail, I received David Warlick’s book Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to Blogs, Wikis, & Other Tools that are Shaping a New Information Landscape (2nd Edition).

Being a newbie in this arena, I skipped around the book, vacuuming up tidbits that seemed immediately relevant to my blogging needs, and some that confirmed that I am somewhat on track. I’m happy to say, there’s still a lot more to read and absorb.

This isn’t a book review, so much as an expression of excitement. Both to get the information from a well-regarded authority, and to get it in a form that is so “cutting edge”…a book.

But, mine is a copy of the book that didn’t physically exist two weeks ago. Before that time, I imagine, it was just code stored in a server at Lulu, a partial roll of page paper, and a couple of linear feet of cover stock. This is a “print-on-demand” book. My first ever.

Ordering from was like ordering from Amazon, but with different titles. This is a self-publishing facilitator, as well as a web retailer. The book was $20.95, just a few cents more than the 1st edition currently being sold on Amazon. (Warlick says edition 2.0 will be available there soon, but why wait? It will be the same price, and Lulu doesn’t charge as much for shipping.)

The book arrived just three business days after they emailed me that it was in transit. From the time I ordered to the reception of the email was not more that three or four days.

The book arrived in a standard cardboard book jacket that featured extra cardboard top and bottom, and it was carefully wrapped in a piece of foam sheeting that insured perfect condition upon arrival.

I was impressed, and you will be too if this is your first experience with Lulu.

Authors need to check Lulu out as well. What a deal! When I’m ready, they’ll be my first choice of publishers.

(Image credit to David Warlick on 2 Cents Worth.)