Jennifer Maddrell's blog

Google Reader: Big Brother Reports Findings

During our little weekly discussions at EdTechWeekly , we've joked a fair amount about Google (Big Brother) gathering up all of our personal data to take over the world. Today, I ran across a new "feature" (?) of Google Reader that displayed my recent blog reading habits. While it provided me with several moments of shock and awe (I read HOW MANY blog posts in the last 30 days?), it also did a good job of illustrating how Big Brother can (and does) gather, track and log our online habits. Did I get a bit of a sick knot in my stomach after seeing the data they collected? Yep. Will it change how I use Google products? Nope.

Here is a snippet of some of the data they captured about me this past month:

I know I'm slowly selling my soul, Dave, but ...

All fears of selling my soul to the Google devil aside, Google Reader is good (ok ... pretty darn great). As a long time Bloglines gal, I haven't checked by blog roll there for months. Tonight, I found another reason to justify the switch. Google Reader has a little toolbar widget (under Settings / Goodies) that allows you to stumble on to the next post in the feedreader (think StumbleUpon) and what makes it great is that you go directly to the original blog. This is a great alternative when you want to catch up on the full content of your favorite blog or just to see the post in greater context. Cool.

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No More Nitpicker Logic ... hmmm...

This one will require further reflection, so I'll save it ... an excerpt from one of my professors during a recent discussion:

"This thread illustrates classic "nitpicker" logic. The solution is supported/attacked, primarily on the basis of personal bias (one's perceived learning style), which eventually leads us into an unwinable stalemate. This post begins to provide the conditions and outcomes we need to evaluate the choice of instructional strategy. To extract yourself from this kind of trap, you must use Reigeluth's prescriptive Conditions/Methods/Outcomes model as the basis for your logic and negotiation position.

In other words, your argument would refine the conditions: If I had 18-24 year old novices taking an e-learning class on the topic of dance styles (condition); refine the outcomes: my desired outcome is that they could 1) recognize a Tango (cognitive) and 2) appreciate the beauty of the Tango (affective); logically link to the ideal method: then perhaps the most ideal instructional method would be to show the video as an example of a Tango. Similarly, both the video and the animation would be worthless if the conditions stated an instructor-led course with no media display device in the classroom (obviously). "

Flux: Blog by Futurelab

FLUX is a new blog hosted by Futurelab, a UK based nonprofit focused on learning and technology. The blog is produced by a panel of writers who contribute to "articles, projects and resources". The Futurelab web site is packed with great learning and technology links and resourses. I recently received a free print copy of Vision, a learning based magazine, that is also available in pdf download. Good stuff.

Blogging from PDA

Just a quick post from the road. Had a great time at the bowl game (and in Savannah and St. Augustine). Testing out the blogging ability of my PDA. Works great!

How old are you?

I'm in my thirties ... at least until the clock strikes midnight.

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5 Things You Might Not Know (or Care) About Me

Thanks(?) to Dave (via Nancy White and so on) for the kick to create a blog post ... this time with a theme! Here the five (or so) things people might not know about me:

  1. I have a bunch of hometowns: I grew up in itty bitty Lodi, WI and spent every summer with my friends and cousins at my favorite place in the world ... Fish Lake. I now hop around among my adopted hometowns of Chicago, New York / Hoboken and Gouldsboro and get back to my original hometown of Lodi (to visit mom) as often as possible. [Update: Oooh! I forgot my very first hometown - I was the bi-product of a fun filled (apparently) vacation in New Orleans and my Grandma called me Dixie the entire time my then 40 year old mom was pregnant - too much information?]
  2. I had (but lost) many talents: In high school, I played the saxophone in the band, appeared in a handful of musicals, became the first girl on the boys golf team (we didn't have a girl's team), and was the captain of the volleyball team.
  3. I had (but gave up) a great career: After 16 years as an insurance underwriter, I gave up the bright lights and glamour to pursue my edtech geek passions.
  4. I want permanent "student" status: My goal has always been to have a current student ID card in my wallet. I have been largely successful in achieving this goal with student ID cards from University of Wisconsin-Madison (BBA in Finance '85 - '89), University of Illinois at Chicago (MBA '94 - '96), New York University (Instructional Design courses '05) and Indiana University (MS in Instructional Systems Technology '06+). Now, with this whole informal learning path I'm on, I see that the ID card isn't mandatory in order to achieve "student" status.
  5. Go Badgers! 'Nuf said.

Now, to Joanne, Doug, TravelinEdMan, Chris and Jane - tag, you are it! Please share with the world the 5 things people might not know about you!

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happy holidays ... from our home town to yours!

hoboken arial 5x7.jpg

Sick knot just got a little tighter

First this ... now this ... wow ...

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LinkedIn: The Facebook for Professionals

I just spent a few minutes checking in on the LinkedIn web site - sort of a facebook for the working world. I had signed up as a member several months back, but didn't really "get it". Then, I saw the company featured this month in both Business 2.0 and T + D magazines, so I took another look.

In a nut shell, you set up a user ID and add your professional profile. You then seek out and link to other registered colleagues and begin creating your professional network of co-workers, clients, etc. The idea is that your professional network can blossom based on the old fashioned "friend of a friend" good word of mouth concept. Through existing and prior professional relationships, you can reach new professional contacts.

Good in theory, right? No clue if it actually works, but the folks at Business 2.0 seem to think it has some merit and the site's registration has doubled from 4m this time last year to almost 8m now. I searched under "instructional design" and found oodles of contacts in the NYC area. Who knows? It may be work a closer look?

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Drupal Academy: Update

New resources have been added to the Drupal CMS Academy web site!


RSS on Steroids: xFRUITS

xFruits takes RSS to the next level. The site provides the ability to do the following hosted wizardry with RSS feeds:

  • Create a single RSS feed out of many
  • Change a syndicated feed into a web page
  • Create a mobile friendly page of your RSS feed
  • Post to RSS from e-mail
  • Convert recent RSS content into a PDF - see my site's RSS feeds

  • Create an e-mail alert from an RSS feed
  • Create an OPML file from several feeds

  • Create a mobile friendly page of your OPML

Off the top of my head, I can think of a bunch of great instructional uses. How about aggregating class RSS feeds into a .pdf printout? Or pushing your RSS content out to students cell phones and e-mails

Media Guide: Tools for Teaching and Learning

See attached - round up of basic media tools - oldies, but goodies!

RSS Aggregator:


Drupal Help: Live Web Session Scheduled

All the talking and planning is behind us and we are ready for Drupal CMS Academy lift off! Check out the new and improved Drupal CMS Academy web site!

The Drupal CMS Academy is a collaborative learning environment
created by and for you. Want to know more about the Academy? Browse the
new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) guide
to get answers to the most common questions about the Academy and what
it means to participate as an Intern. As an Academy Intern, you will
receive help achieving your Drupal related performance goals as you
help others in the community meet their Drupal web design objectives.
Whether you are new to Drupal or you are a seasoned Drupal veteran
(with the scrapes and bruises to prove it), your participation is
welcomed and appreciated! 

Ready to learn Drupal? Join the Academy!

The months of talking are over! Drupal lovers ... start your engines!

Welcome to the Drupal CMS Academy! Like our fellow Academics at The Webcast Academy, we provide a collaborative learning environment for those interested in learning how to use the Drupal content management system. The Drupal CMS Academy supports learners as they maximize their performance in the installation, administration and customization of a Drupal web installation.

Check out the Academy Intern Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to learn more about the Academy and what it means to be an Intern. If you are interested in becoming an Intern in the inaugural session at the Drupal CMS Academy, please register as an Academy Intern. See you at the Academy!


Join me at Baruch!

Beginning in January, Baruch College in Manhattan will begin a new instructional design and corporate training program within the Continuing and Professional Studies division. Joanne Tzanis is heading up the effort to get 15 courses up and running for the winter / spring 2007 semester - see also page 12 of the .pdf course catalog. I will be involved in the following courses:

  • Effective Facilitation: Teaching Not Telling (IDC0004)
  • Teaching in Blended and Virtual Classrooms (IDC005)
  • Teaching and Learning with Technology (IDC0015)

See you at Baruch!

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Learner Motivation and Disposition: Part of the code?

The old blog has been silent lately. It is because I am stuck - driven to distraction, so to speak. Looking back at recent blog posts, I see that I am clearly trying to crack a shared code within seemingly separate and distinct learning and instructional theories. After reading and hearing my ramblings about dynamic, personalized, coproduced, blah, blah, blah learning and instruction, a few people have raised the possibility that these learning and instructional approaches will only work for motivated self-starters - you know, the traditional "early adopters". If so, then the learner's disposition and level of motivation determine whether a less structured and more learner driven instructional model will "work"? Are these factors really part of the code?

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly ...


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More Fuel: Self-Directed and Customized Learning

I made a big omission earlier this week in my post about the blogs I regularly read. I forgot to mention Christian Long's blog Think:Lab. So often, I share common curiosity with the topics he covers in his blog. Today, his post "A school by any other name" sparked something in me. I have been thinking a lot about learning and instruction topics that dance around his central self-directed and customized learning themes. His post and the linked Teacher Magazine article "Don't Call It School" raises a lot of questions for me (the fuel to my own learning fire), but I can't add much in the way of commentary. I've been living in that frustrating realm for awhile now - the "there is something here, I just can't articulate it" realm. What is good is that realm usually leads to some degree of personal learning and awakening, so I'll just relax and live here awhile longer ...

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Any Gatekeepers at Cappuccino U?

Jane has done it again! She provided me with my morning dose of inspiration by linking us to a free e-book - Cappuccino U. As I have posted on recently (here and here), there is (to me anyway) a common thread connecting discussions about informal, networked, emergent, coproduced, dynamic (or whatever the word of the day) learning that focuses on an engaged, active and empowered learner in control of his or her own learning destiny. Cappuccino U is a quick read that reminds us of all the ways there are to take control of our learning from the comforts of our local coffee house.

Edublog 2006 - Nominations Open

As was announced last week, nominations for the 2006 Edublog Awards are open. Why is this exciting? Because it means an introduction to more really thoughtful people! I currently aggregate 237 edtech-ish feeds (some more ed than tech and vice versa). I found out about a few of these blogs during past Edublog Awards. Each day, that brings some 150 posts into Bloglines for me to browse. While I skim through 90% by just reading the title and a few lines after, there are a several blogs that I get excited to read. By the way, posting frequency is NOT an important criterion for me. I would rather read a few thoughtful and inspired posts a week (or month) than be force fed a daily dose of self-righteousness. For me, the inspiring bloggers not only separate the wheat from the chaff, they also passionately reflect on their interests - no matter who (if anyone) is reading. So, here are several of my ed + tech favorites that fit the bill:

Performance Improvement vs Learning

Performance improvement is generally the intended outcome of learning, right? So, why do we tend to address them separately? People are far more likely to ask me if I am learning a lot in school versus whether my performance as an instructional designer is improving - which should be the desired outcome, right? However, I haven't jumped on the "performance improvement" wagon myself and I'm trying to figure out why. Everything I have read so far regarding performance improvement makes sense, but I can't shake the perception that it applies in a transfer of knowledge / work setting context. Anyone care to share your opinion?

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The New Electronic Hanging Chad

I headed off to my local polling place bright and early today. With only a few choices on the ballot in this mid-term election, casting my vote was a quick process. Unfortunately, figuring out how to use the electronic polling machine was the hard part!

Envision walking into a booth and facing a giant paper poster written in what appears to be Spanish - I swear that there were more Spanish words than English words on the poster! Being the try first / read instructions never kind of person, I started hitting buttons on the small key pad under the "poster" to record my vote. When nothing seemed to happen when I punched the keypad, I pulled back the curtain and asked the assistant what I was doing wrong. He reached around the curtain and pushed directly on a name on the giant paper poster and a lighted check mark glowed from under the paper next to the name. As I was likely only one of the first 20 people to vote, he was still able to restrain an eye roll. However, every person ahead of me (including my husband) asked for assistance, so I am confident that he will be (or should be) giving out the same instructions to every voter in my voting district.

Internet Users: Searchers or Surfers

Does Internet based content find you or do you find it? There seems to be two types of Internet users: 1) searchers and 2) surfers. Searchers seek information. Surfers seek inspiration. While a searcher can sometimes be a surfer and vice versa, searchers say, "Need it? Google it", and surfers say, "I Stumbled on it" or "It appeared in my feed reader". I came to this realization when someone mentioned to me that
he just searches for stuff on the Internet when he NEEDS it. How 1996, I thought! However, I began to think about what I do with all of that content I collect as a die hard surfer. I came to the realization that lately I haven't actually tried most of my "finds". Instead, I usually dump them into my folder to try at a later date. In my quest to find the latest and greatest edtech "inspiration" (see EdTechWeekly), I have found I am at an Internet surfing tipping point - too much of a good thing, as they say! Content aggregation overload has caused a disturbing ailment- content paralysis! I'm at a strange place where the act of surfing for content has disrupted my enjoyment and use of the content I find. So, I'm going to take a cue from the searchers out there and "step away from the aggregator" for a few days. I can still turn to StumbleUpon if I need a "fix".

Drupal CMS Academy Community Session #8

Drupal CMS Academy - Live Web Cast #8

Join us on Monday November 6th at 9:00 p.m. ET (North America)

Click here for Global Times

Please join us at the Drupal CMS Academy for our weekly live web cast as we share our latest and greatest Drupal tips and tricks!

Drupal: Join us at the CMS Academy tonight!

Drupal CMS Academy Community Session #7

Join us later today - Tuesday October 31th at 9:00 p.m. ET (North America)
Click here for Global Times

Join us for more Drupal "tricks and treats" at the Drupal CMS Academy! We plan to gather around the new Drupal chat room and WebHuddle and tell spooky stories about system glitches and goblins! We hope you can join us!

Drupal: Bill Fitzgerald on 21st Century Learning

Be sure to catch the recording of today's 21st Century Learning podcast with Alex Ragone and Arvind Grover. Bill Fitzgerald (of and OpenAcademic fame) covered some interesting Drupal territory, including the following:

Update: Rhizomatic Dynamic Agile Coproducing blah ...

Add to my mixed bag of ideas this paper #92: Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge by Stephen Downes that is the subject of discussion this week on IT Forum and addressed in this recorded presentation. Interesting to consider both the common and divergent themes . . .

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Rhizomatic Dynamic Agile Coproducing blah, blah ...

Rhizomatic, schrmizomatic . . . all kidding aside, I had a fun time chatting with Dave C. yesterday during the Worldbridges Webcastathon - yes, on the Worldbridges network ... the home of! Dave has posted some interesting thoughts on his blog that dance around some loosely joined thoughts I've been hearing and reading about including:

  • Designing Coproduction Experiences: In one of my instructional design classes, we are using a book (Creating Do It Yourself Customers - The Coproduction Revolution) written by my professor which centers on the design of what he terms "co-production" experiences. A central focus of the book is that if we want customers (or in the context of our discussion last night - learners) to achieve excellence as they take on roles in a co-production experience (like the Drupal CMS Academy), we must carefully contemplate the learner's "vision (goals / feedback), access, incentive and expertise" within the design. The book provides in-depth analysis and guidance regarding these themes.
  • Engagement and Coproduction: The online book "The Journey to the Interface" addresses similar themes.
  • Dynamic Personalization: I found the link to the online book noted above from a link to link in Josie Fraser's post about "Personalisation" - or as we say on this side of the pond "Personalization" - addressing "the active participation of citizens in designing services".
  • Informal / Emergent / Incidental Learning: Last week, I was introduced to a blog by a graduate student at the University of Georgia. I was told by her colleagues that her research interests are in online informal (emergent and incidental) learning. I look forward to learning more about her research.
  • Agile Instructional Design: See my post from a few weeks back about Peter Rawsthorme's Agile Instructional Design ideas.
  • ...and my ongoing obsession with Drupal as my Personal Learning Environment.

So, what does all this mean? Are there relevant connections among these themes? Well, I haven't got that figured out. Has anyone else? However, these ideas taken in whole seem to point toward instructional design focused on a common goal: creating dynamic learning environments focused on active learner participation! Whether we call the recipients Rhizomatic Dynamic Agile Coproducing Emergent Learners or not, I for one am happy to consider myself one!

Drupal CMS Academy Community Brainstorming Session #5

Join us on Tuesday October 17th at 9:00 p.m. ET

Click here for Global Times

By popular demand, we are adding a midweek Drupal CMS Academy web cast session to the agenda! Please join us at the Drupal CMS Academy during the live web cast to continue our discussion about all things Drupal. We are moving forward toward our goal of kicking off the Drupal online collaborative learning environment and we would love to hear your ideas during this live planning session!

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