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Why I Love to Hate My Kindle

More strangers talk to me about my Kindle than anything else I have ever owned. The first question is “How do you like it?” I hate to say I love it because I have always loved paper books and don’t want to see them die. There is something about reading a book on a warm summer day or a cold winter night that just has a spiritual feel to it. You forget time and move into another world. I hate to say I love my Kindle but I do. But before I tell they why I like it I have to explain that it far from perfect.

At this point in my life, the Kindle is a great technology that meets my current need. As some of you know I took a new job at November Learning and have traveled by plane more in the last year than during the first 63 years of my life. When I started, I found that it was a great time to increase my reading since I had a lot of time sitting in airports and on planes. The bad part is that I carried at least two books or more books on every trip. I carried at least one book in my briefcase and one or more in my suitcase. They added a lot of weight to my journey.

What I hate it:

  • It isn’t the same “feel” as reading a book.
  • I can’t see the page numbers. It gives a percentage of the book I have read, but that is misleading do to index, glossary, and acknowledges pages that aren’t included.
  • You can’t loan it to others. I often loan and share my books. But unless I loan you my Kindle, I can’t loan you a book to read.
  • Not all books can be read on a Kindle. (I just bought two “real” books at the bookstore today.)
  • It is expensive. With the small discount on books, I don’t think I will ever make up what I paid for my Kindle.

Why I love it:

  • It is light and easy to carry.
  • Because it is light, it is easy to hold up in bed. Your arms and hands don’t get tired.
  • It is easy on your eyes. The “electronic paper” doesn’t seem to tire my eyes as much as when I read a book.
  • As soon as I buy a book on line it is delivered to my Kindle. I don’t have to wait for it to be shipped. I don’t have to go to the store.
  • I can shop for books using my Kindle. This is nice on the road. When I finish a book I ca just buy a new one. I don’t have to carry an “extra book” or settle for the “best” in the airport bookstore.
  • It looks cool.
  • And I have had conversations with a lot of people who would have never talked to me if I was reading a book.

I’ll continue to tell people I love books. And I’ll continue my secrete love affair with my Kindle.


Trying out Yodio.com

I am trying this instead of Gcast which is going to charge starting April 1, 2009.


The Networked Student

I really enjoyed this student-created video. I thought I should share it with you. As I watched the video, I couldn’t help thinking that I would love my child to have this teacher. The video illustrates what the outcome might be if we taught students how to use the network as a place to learn. I think it shows some of the possibilities of the tools we all talk about using in class.

Let me know what you thought about this as you watched the video. Are there other videos you think I should watch?

Have your students create “The __________ Student”. You fill in the technology; blogging, podcasting, storytelling, movie making, or your idea.


Just One Click

Help Kiva and Save the Children with just one mouse click. Intel is giving Kiva or Save the Children five cents every time someone clicks a button on their “Small Things Challenge.” They will donate up to $75,000.00 dollars each quarter this year. (A good math exercise for your students to figure out how many clicks it will take.)

From the Kiva Newsletter:

This month Intel launched the Small Things Challenge, a partnership between Intel, Kiva and Save the Children.
You can participate by visiting the Small Things Challenge website today and clicking the “we’ll donate 5 cents for you” button on the Web site. Intel will donate 5 cents for every person who clicks on the button – up to $75,000 per quarter this year to be split equally between Kiva and Save the Children. That’s a lot of clicks so you can get started right away!
The Small Things Challenge is a multi-faceted program appealing directly to individuals worldwide to get involved by providing micro-loans through Kiva as well as donating to Save the Children. Click here to watch video of Intel Chairman Craig Barrett announcing the partnership, with the assistance of Adam Duritz of Counting Crows and Adam Levine of Maroon 5, at the 2009 International CES tradeshow in Las Vegas.

So click once at “Small Things Challenge.” and then spread the word through your blog, Twitter, school, Facebook, Ning or your face-to-face friends.

It is a small thing to do for two great organizatiosn. You can also go to Kiva or Save the Children and make a donation. We have created a Building Learning Communities Team on Kiva and would be happy to have you join our team. November Learning will match the first thousand dollars donated by team members to Kiva. Currently our team has loaned $850.00, so loan $25 and November Learning will loan $25.

Just to add a little humor to giving five cents. You may enjoy this Dilbert Cartoon.


So a little at a time can create a big number. Please share the Small Things Challenge with others.


Screencasting With Jing

Jing Gets Even Better

TechSmith just released a Professional version of Jing. The good news is the Jing software we have all grown to love is still free. Just in case you haven’t used Jing, Jing is a free screen-recording program from TechSmith. It will record anything you do on your computer along with your voice. Besides recording movies it will also capture and allow you to annotate images. Both are excellent ways to create videos or tell stories. It is available for free at the Jing website. This week they introduced Jing Pro*. You can continue using the free version. So what do you get if you upgrade to the $14.98/year pro version. Here are four things I really like. I’m sure there are more.

1. It records in MPEG-4 instead of just flash. This not only decreases file size but allows you to edit the file in iMovie or using other video editing programs.

2. You can export your video from your desktop to YouTube right from Jing Pro.

3. Jing now provides the embed code for you to use to insert video from their storage site,

4. You can create new buttons for controlling the output of what you create.

Those are four things I like and I have only had the program for a few days. I’m sure you will find other great features. If you haven’t used Jing give it a try. Also, if you are using Jing and like it, you should consider upgrading to Jing Pro.

* Disclaimer: TechSmith was nice enough to give me an account to try out the pro version. I’m writing this because I think it is a great program not because of saving a few dollars. Just wanted to be up front about it.

Double Your Money (Contribution)

Last year we had Jessica Jackley Flannery, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Kiva present at BLC08. She had a great story to tell about her role in the founding of Kiva and the good work that Kiva is doing around the world. The key element of her story is that she wanted to help people who weren’t as fortunate as she was when she was growing up. Kiva is an outstanding organization that enables you to loan money to the working poor. All of the money from a loan goes to the person. Kiva doesn’t keep any of your money! I joined Kiva last year and set a goal of making a loan every month until my repayments would allow me to contribute more.

Recently we formed a team on Kiva, Building Learning Communities. We want to promote Kiva to our conference attendees and people we meet. Alan November, who established the Building Learning Communities Conference, has graciously agreed to match the first $1,000 loaned by members of our team on Kiva. As of January 4th, we have had $650 made in loans.

Join our team. You can make a loan for just $25.00. When the loan is repaid you can withdraw your money or make a new loan. If you make a loan soon, Alan will match your donation and you will have doubled your contribution. More importantly, you will have helped someone trying to make a better life for themselves and their family.


My Lender Page on Kiva

Student Behavior

I found Chris Lehmann’s post “Expectations of Student Behavior” to be an excellent reminder to all of us about behavior. He raises the question: Do we expect more from our students than from ourselves? His list of questions are excellent:

“Ask yourself, in your school, does the teacher with the most draconian lateness policy often show up late to meetings? Does the teacher who makes a big deal about food in the classroom often leave trash all over the faculty room? Do the teachers who have the strictest policies often resist any administrative policies? And how many of us have made it through an hour-long PD session without passing a note or sending an email or daydreaming?”

We expect a lot from our students. When I visit schools and sit in classrooms with the students for a few hours I am tired. I don’t know how they make it through the day sometimes. The seats are hard and the temperature is usually too hot or too cold. You seldom get to discuss the topic or even ask a question. Yet we expect the students to do this for six hours with only short 5 to 10 breaks in between classes. His comment about the trash that is left behind is very true. Often at conferences I go around and pick up coffee cups and other trash left behind by the participants.

Teachers, when they are in professional development activities or college often times don’t live up to the expectations they set for their own students. We do need standards of behavior, but they need to be realistic and meet the physical and emotional needs of their students. One way is to include students in developing policies for the classroom. I know a lot of teachers do that. I’m sure you have a lot of ideas also.

Most importantly, let’s look at our own behavior before we criticize. I know I’ll try to watch my behavior in conferences and presentations.

Chris, thanks for bring up topic.


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/1384954600

A Snapshot in Time

I wanted to record a “Wordle View” of my blog while it is only a week old. My goal is to repeat this in a year or so and see how the words have changed. My guess is that book which is the word that stands out the most will move towards the background. On the other hand, I hope the word students will become larger.

I’ll just have to wait and see.