Posted by: Floyd Braid | June 11, 2009

Vocab 2.0

I love this new free tool from the folks at Visual Thesaurus! It called VocabGrabber. Just copy & paste any text into the VocabGrabber box, and then click on the “Grab Vocabulary!” button. VocabGrabber will create a list of vocabulary from your text, which you can then sort, filter, and save. Cool. This is a greaty tool for kids to use after they have written a paper and before they turn it in. It will show them have many times a certain word is used much like a tag cloud but you get more with this tool. It will sort into categories and show definitions of words.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | January 21, 2009

New President & New Technology

obamatagcloudNow I’m not going to get into the differences between Bush and Obama. There are enough folks writing about that. However, what I was excited to see was how the Web 2.0 world embraced this event. I was kept updated through Twitter after I elected to follow Obama. I got updates on where to go if I was attending the inaugural event. It sent me the url for the text of the speech and updated me on what Ball the Obama’s where attending.  I was also happy to see that he  is following me 😉  on Twitter. The tag clouds where quick to follow the publishing of the speech. Take a look at the portrait of past 5 presidents speeches as a tag cloud this is realllly cool!  Delve Networks posted video of the speech which is searchable using their search tool search for words that he spoke and it shows you where on the video time line. Today I traveled from Atlanta to San Francisco to present at the TRLD conference. I was delighted to see all the different newspaper covers in the airport. Later I was made aware of this resource just click on the cover to see the cover page. In the age of Google Earth how could we not have a satellite image of the event this also has many other photos from the event. I’m a CNN hound so lastly I will share the CNN and Microsoft’s partnership using Photosynth to document the moment.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | January 3, 2009

The Decider 2.0 Part 1

Recently I was listening to Dave Weinberger  speaking at the Le Web Paris 08 Conference about how leaderships is shifting in the Web 2.0 world. One of  2 ideas that stood out for me was a comment he made “leadership is the property of the network”  that this top down “I’m the lewebparisDecider” mentality is quickly eroding with the greater footprint of community based systems fueled by the end of the traditional information age. I must say that I don’t see much of this seeping into how educational systems are operated specifically in the K-12 arena. My sense is that the focus is much more on how the technology can be used to enhance the leadership control and support “the decider” mentality. To borrow on Simon Willis(Cisco) theme of “reputational democracy” what if each class had a social networking site/system which of course included parents and a rating system which fed into a school network and then into the district network. Information could be shared and discussed, teachers would have a direct link to parents, parents could be connected to other parents dealing with similar educational issues and ultimately filtered to the leadership who would then have what I think would be a much richer picture of the issues system-wide. 

The second thing that got me thinking was … see future post on the end of the Information Age and the rise of the Miivatars…

Posted by: Floyd Braid | December 1, 2008

It’s Whiskey Cherry Time

Whiskey Cherries Draining

Whiskey Cherries Draining

We (my mom and I) are in the middle of our 6th season making the family candy, Whiskey Cherries. This is an old family tradition that started before I was born. My mom and aunt found a candy book, bought some chocolate and started making candy. A few years ago I remember calling my mom and asking for the recipe… She laughed and said it’s more than just a recipe. Several months later we were set to make our first batch in time for the holidays. Many things in life might be backed up with a set of ingredients and steps but this one takes good planning and preparation but more importantly it takes an ability to adjust to the many curve balls the candy making process will throw your way. It was really clear after the first day of making candy with my mom that this was going to be more about us and less about candy. We live many states apart and this has been a great opportunity to know each other as adults. I have learned much over the years about candy making but I have learned also where my ability to just do something comes from. My mom has a very carefree attitude about life and when confronted with struggle or a new interest she just works her way through it. While many friends and family will be getting Whiskey Cherries for gifts this year I can be content with my gift which I got many years ago. The gift of taking on something new without the worry of failure or judgement and the wisdom that anything is possible if you are willing to take the risk. This year my mom and I will be making Whiskey Cherries, Anna Mae Butter-creams, Wayne & Inez Pecan Scramble, Kristen’s Carmel and Chocolate Peppermint Snow in my Georgia kitchen.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | March 14, 2008

Miivatar is the Key to Web 3.0 and School 3.0?

miimage11.jpgmiimage5.jpgmiimage4.jpgMy Miivatarmiimage3.jpgmiimage21.jpg

OK, so allow me to run with something that was in my head a little over a year ago. It came back to life after reading David Warlicks comments about a keynote Sheryl Nussbaum was giving at NCAECT. He posted that she was “rockin” on about Web 3.0. That it was here and that someday our avatars would go to school for us… It got me thinking about a post I did to this blog last Feb.  “Ain’t Nothing But a Wii Thang Baby”   In it I talk a lot about the Wii my kids got for Christmas that year but also how they were interacting with their Mii’s. Read the post for the back story.  Imagine if you will that each one of your students has their own school Mii/avatar. I will call them Miivatars. Look mom I made up a new word.  This is a virtual representation of the student which of course they get to customize to their liking. They also get to use that Miivatar as a personal assistant. They could tell it to find stuff for them. Need resources for a Jupiter report you have to do. No problem, send your Miivatar out to get it. It comes back with what you need to look at. Much like a web spider that crawls looking for material. I would think these crawlers could be very advanced. The Miivatar could come back and say, “Madeline, I found you lots of stuff for your report that you need to review. These sites are basic information sites, these have some cool pictures, take a look at this animation and by the way Allise, in Chicago is also working on a similar project you might want me to contact her and see if you want to collaborate on this. One more thing, your teacher wanted me to remind you that you better hurry the report is do in 3 days”.

More to come…

Posted by: Floyd Braid | March 10, 2008

“I Need GMAN”

I Need GMANI Need GMANI Need GMANI Need GMANI Need GMANAs some of you know I have 3 children under 13. This provides me with much stress (please tell me it gets easier…or my denial threshold increases). These kids constantly remind me through there actions that things are different. I often here the blah, blah, blah, “the kids are different…digital immigrants/natives…the world is flat(if it’s flat I want to move to the other side). So, allow me to share a little story from the Nintendo World . This is a bit of a brag post, but I have to put the story into context. (Written on iPhone real time) I’m sitting on the stands watching my children competing in the Georgia State USA Swim Meet. For those of you not familiar with swim meets, let’s just say there is a lot of sitting around. My son Sam who is 7 is completely engage in his Nintendo DS game along with 5; count them, boys of varying ages all sitting next to each other talking up a storm playing some multiplayer game. All DS machines are connected wirelessly playing the same game. What stands out for me is not the gaming (old news) but that my 7 year old is working with 4 other unknown kids that he just met and the relationship was mediated by the game/technology. They aren’t just playing they are talking and teaching each other as they work toward their goal. Not sure what it is but they are doing it.  This has caused me to reflect several conversations I have had over the last week or so about kids and how they learn and more importantly how we teach them. As I’m writing another kid comes up to the group of 5 and says “who is GMAN? I need GMAN.” that is my 12 year old’s cb handle … Not really it’s his game name.  Well GMAN is no where to be seen. After a bit of investigation I learn that my son is actually sitting in a completely different part of the stands playing with another group of unknowns. The unknown gamer finds my son only to ask him how he did something in the game and after about 30 seconds of collaboration unknown gamer disappears and everyone goes back to their task.  I’m not even going to try and wrap this in some neat package.
Posted by: Floyd Braid | March 3, 2008

No Map Monopoly!

WorldWide Telescope by MicrosoftWorldWide Telescope by MicrosoftAs I ‘m sure most of you are familiar with Google Earth rival MicroSoft has its’ own version of the worlds yellow pages at Live Search Maps. Google opened up the heavans with a bit of prayer and a GE add-on “Sky.”  Micosoft has just entered the quest for the new celestial marketplaces by introducing the World Wide Telescope.  

WorldWide Telescope by Microsoft

Posted by: Floyd Braid | February 7, 2008

No Magic Bus Needed: Visible Body

I had seen this tool several months ago and it got lost with so many other things that come atThe Vsible Bodyme. I recently started a new workout program and lets just say the muscles..ouch. So I remembered this tool and it has really helped for me to see what is going on inside my body. This is a great tool for all teachers and students who are investigating the physical aspects of the human body. It is also a free download. It has a kind of Google Earth feel to it and it seems that images are being downloaded  as you request them.  The site describes this tool  as

 Argosy’s Visible Body is the most comprehensive human anatomy visualization tool available today. This entirely Web-delivered application offers an unparalleled understanding of human anatomy. The Visible Body includes 3D models of over 1,700 anatomical structures, including all major organs and systems of the human body.”

Posted by: Floyd Braid | July 6, 2007

Access & My Son’s New International Breeding Business


I have the honor of working with a variety of schools around the country and I can say that when we push the envelope on these types of things access is everything. There are all kinds of issues around what and how we best provide access but ultimately none of that matters to the kid walking home to just cable TV. It seems that there are many layers here that can be addressed but the answer is simple. Create access or don’t. The poor will again suffer form an unequal playing field if we don’t. In the recent court decission that stated that race can no longer be used in desegregation plans. I’m wondering if we can’t work in access a new factor to consider for desegregation plans… Kids are open to almost anything, regardless of skill. They always have been. Walls take a long time to build. The toys & tools are just much cooler today. However, when the doors are closed on PS America many kids loose their access, which means in some cases the learning stops. Even in schools that have laptops for all the students many don’t get to take them home even though they are the ones with the least amount of access… True story- my son walks into my office a week ago and says that he is now breeding and selling (insert Pokémon name here) for a kid in the Netherlands, Japan and Australia. To my surprise he turned around and left. I caught up to him in his room where he showed me that the new opera browser for his Nintendo DS enables him to work with kids all over the world to trade and sell Pokémon. (freak Out Moment) “Are you emailing”, “Do they have your phone number”, “how did they find you”‘??? He is 9. He explained that the software enables you to find other kids that are into similar things and that it’s just easier to get things done this way. Today he and his friends are now scheming how to improve their breeding business into something much more profitable…sigh. This just points to the idea that we don’t know what the tools will be, I’m done chasing that tale. We just know that we need to get out of the way more often and watch from the side.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | June 25, 2007

Google Maps & Picasa Student Project

WOW! After 7 months of working with 22 teachers from 3 school district in and around Ann Arbor, MI one of the groups has posted their student collaboration online. The students used Google Picasa online photo tool and Google Maps to publish their photos and comments on their map. Originally, I thought they were going to merge the 3 district student teams onto one map but due to time constraints the collaborative piece got dropped…they each did their own presentation of the work. One group authored photos and comments using Power Point and the other used Google Maps. As, an extension and countinuation of the project one teachers (Sean McBrady) said, “I’d like to see this project grow to include more higher level thinking skills. Perhaps an investigative photo-journalism project focusing on some sort of local problem or issue and involving some evaluative aspect and/or recommendations to the community.”

Sean is right on target with the evolution of the project. Now that that the tools are better understood , lets move beyond and do things that truly make a difference. Although this didn’t meet the goals of bring students from different districts together to collaborate on a project it did connect them and they did view and critique the work of others. More importantly it allowed teachers to try new things and prepare themselves for the next step. Interestingly enough, the kids at all three schools wanted more than anything to work directly with the students from other schools. Once again we get in the way…one step ata time 😉

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