Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tictech - a little history

The following is cross posted from a list I moderate. Or HAVE moderated.

I'm putting it here because it's important to document significant moves. This one is certainly significant. In many ways.

I've been thinking quite a bit about the history of tictech as it comes to a close. I thought it might be useful, hopefully informative, and maybe a little nostalgic for some, to review its history. Here goes...

Tictech was founded by Currie Morrison, a teacher at Nathan Hale HS in Seattle, in the 1997-98 school year, (maybe in the 1996-07 year?). I have an archive of tictech emails going back to the summer of 1998, with a "welcome back" message Currie sent to the list.

Currie came up with the name tic-tech because of the "Technology Innovation Challenge Grant", which provided some funding for him or the list; I'm not sure which. The "tic" part of the name came from Technology Innovation Challenge... the tech part just was kind of natural to add on.

In November of 1999, Currie handed the list over to me. Just looking through the email exchanges I had with him then make this hard to write at the moment. He was so wise, and he was so good. He was such a good teacher.

Tictech was at that time run using Listserv software. All text based, of course. Not user friendly - and very labor intensive.

In January of 2002 I moved the entire list to a new server, provided by The Learning Space. The Challenge Grant server running tictech had been failing, and there was nobody to provide support for list issues. This move was a big one, not without issues. I remember on the day of the move, frantically calling Ann McGlone, who was in charge of the server for The Learning Space, telling her to turn it OFF, because everybody was getting every message, sent to everyone else. I think it got shut down after each member received my "Welcome" message about 150 times. Not a real great start. I wrote some specifics about "the move" here:

But it ended up being really a good move. The list was now running on Majordomo software, and the server was very stable. Still text only (ugh), but a little friendlier and more flexible - at least I thought so... Tictech ran on that platform and at that address for a year and a half.

In the summer of 2003 I moved tictech to YahooGroups. Basically, I was real tired of the copy/paste text editing to approve list messages. But here's the email describing more specific reasons for the move:
http://tinyurl.com/2surqq In the course of its stay on YahooGroups, I have made the message archive available to the public. We've been there for four and a half years. All messages posted to the list since that move are archived and searchable: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tictech

Earlier messages, posted to tictech from October, 2000 to June, 2003, are archived at http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/tictech/ I do have a personal archive of earlier tictech messages, saved from a Netscape "tictech" email folder, somehow culled from my "Pine" folders, I have no idea how - but I am happy they remain in a place where I can reminisce at times like this....

If anyone has corrections to make or details to add, please feel free... Thanks - Mark

Monday, January 28, 2008

Clarence, for the teacher

On the off chance you have come here and have not yet read Clarence Fisher's An Open Letter To Gary Stager (and comments) - go there, now.

Thanks Clarence!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seattle XO Users

It has been a while since I've been to a meeting like this. People drawn together by a cause, by their knowledge, and by a need for assistance.

I had asked earlier if there were other educators in Seattle using XO laptops in their classrooms. I was the only teacher at this meeting, for sure. I was very intimidated by the level of expertise surrounding me. People were talking about re-imaging, builds, jabber, and sugar - to name only a few of the words whizzing around that I only knew a little about.

But everyone was so helpful and friendly. Next to me was a dad with his son, trying to get a game downloaded and installed on their XO. A really nice and smart guy named Karl (from the UW, I think) was on my other side, providing tech support for even the silliest question I could offer. He told me how you "save", "open", and "explore" on the little guy.

Seattle XO UsersI took a picture here (with my XO) of folks across the table and put it on a flash drive. If you asked a question, it was as likely somebody across the room would respond as the person next to you. And there were three rooms full of us. I learned that Control-Q will force closed an application. I learned the SD slot (which I had just discovered earlier in the day) supports an unlimited amount of GB. I learned there is another Jabber server set up in Seattle, and I wrote down the location. And so much more.

There was a guy who actually works for OLPC as a kind of regional rep. who spoke with the whole group for a while. That was real cool. People volunteered to start up hardware support regionally. I even spoke with a couple of folks after the official business was over about setting up a Ning for OLPC users.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Public vs Private

It has to be public. Transparency wins. I should have known better.

In my rush to start up a social network on Ning for my educator colleagues, I made a decision to go with a private network. Part of this was to get rid of the ads. For an educational network that might include 13-18 year olds (secondary kids in a tech support role), Ning was willing to get rid of the ads. But I had to make the network private.

Only members could see it. Members had to be approved by me. These were for sure backward steps from where I had hoped to go, but I wanted the ads gone and the biggie was I thought I'd have a chance of getting the Ning through our school district filter.

I should have read the Ning FAQ on Public vs. Private.

Private networks do not have rss feeds.

End of discussion.

tictech.ning.com is public.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

OLPC in the classroom

Yesterday I upgraded to a newer build (653) on the OLPC so I can get Internet access on it from the classtoom. WPA encription was not on the original version. It works great from home- I'm actually posting this on it via Opera at home. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping my kids will be blogging from it as well.

I've had the laptop in class this past week, and I've found very little time to let the kids really spend enough time exploring its potential. I've had to show them how to do things I know they could figure out on their own if they had enough time - and how fun is that?

Making videos is of course way fun, and gets everybody too goofy to allow it to go on for very long... and there's so much more to explore. The kids need time.

How to share equitably, ands still give every child meaningful time. It reminds me of not so many years ago when I had one computer in my classroom, and was going through the same thing.

I think I'll come up with a schedule, like 30 minutes per week per child.... If anybody has ideas or experiences to share on getting this little marvel into the hands of as many kids as possible, please leave a note here - thanks.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Letting go and pushing on

The 17 days since I last wrote here have been intense, to say the least. Rather than tell several tedious stories, I'll recount some major events - no, actions I took, and that is important - in the last 4 of those days.

  • I resigned two stipend positions I've had at my school - one in building leadership, and one in technology leadership/responsibility.
  • I announced the closure of an email list I've owned/moderated for tech folks in my district for a decade.
  • I started a social network to replace that email list.

It was all about exercising control over things that I still have some say in. I am not walking away from doing things. I'm walking away from positions where I was looked to for action because I was in a position, and it was my "job".

I will provide that action and that help as an individual. Because I care, and because I can. Because I always have.

With the stipend positions, the obligations that came from being part of the institutions of school and district are now shed. It will cost us a sizeable chunk of change every month. The relief is fantastic. My wife and I will make do. She's with me every step of the way here.

These were not easy moves, but the termination of the list (that frequently got me in trouble with my organization) was awfully hard. I'd have done away with that 1.0 list long ago, but I could not figure out where to put that energy, that enthusiasm, and that fire - on a local level. I inherited the list from a local edtech visionary, and I most definitely felt an obligation to continue on with his pushing of the system - for the kids.

Tictech 2.0So I started a social network for edtech people in my school district. After just a few days, I'm already in the middle of a big decision over private vs. public - which could be huge, if I want the district to allow access to it through our filter. The private network is really pretty clean, with lots of external links to dubious stuff removed, etc. But in this age of transparency, it rankles me to have go this way. It is a Faustian 2.0 tech tale... stay tuned.

I have no idea where Tictech 2.0 will go, but I'm excited to test the waters. I'm a member of several small social networks, as well as Faceboook and MySpace, but I'm not very active on any of them right now. I've never started one up before on this level. We shall see...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A break to start the year

FireplaceOff to the WA coast for a few days to really get away from it all. No phone, TV, or Internet. Even the cell phone doesn't work. Just the fire, the ocean, and silence. Hoping to focus my passions for the New Year. Have a good one, everybody!