This week in iTeach@Leeward

January 25, 2013
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Where good Ideas Come From

People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web.

Steven Berlin Johnson is the best-selling author of six books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. His forthcoming book examines “Where Good Ideas Come From.” Full bio »

January 25, 2013
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Five Essential Google Drive Skills For Teachers

According to Richard Bryne here are the essential Google Drive skills that teachers need in addition to creating documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

1. Open and Edit Word Files in Google Drive.
If you’re just beginning to transition to Google Apps from Microsoft Word, the chances are good you will have old files that you want to bring into and work on in Google Drive. Click here for the detailed directions on how to do this.

2. Create PDFs in Google Drive. 
Sometimes you don’t want a document to be easy to alter. Or you plan on printing it and want it as a PDF. Click here to learn how to create a PDF in Google Drive in three easy steps.

3. Use Google Documents Offline.
For those times when you don’t have an Internet connection and you want to work on a document, having offline access enabled is the only way to go. Click here for directions on how to enable offline access to your Google Documents.

4. Give Yourself More Room to Work in Google Documents.
If you’re using a laptop that has a screen of 13″ or less there will probably be times when you want more white-space to work in. This little trick will give you about another inch of viewable document.

5. Create and Organize Folders.
Do you want to have more organization in your Google Drive account? Then you need to know how to create folders and move files into them. The steps for creating folders and dragging files into them are outlined below. (Click the images to view them full size).

January 25, 2013
Comments Off on A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age


Work on this Bill of Rights & Principles began in Palo Alto, California, on December 14, 2012. We convened a group of people passionate about learning, about serving today’s students, and about using every tool we could imagine to respond better to the needs of students in a global, interactive, digitally connected world.  

The Internet has made it possible for anyone on the planet to be a student, a teacher, and a creative collaborator at virtually no cost.  Novel technologies that can catalyze learning are bubbling up in less time than it takes to read this sentence.  Some have emerged from universities, some from the private sector, some from individuals and digital communities.  In the past year, Massive Online Open Courseware, or MOOCs, have become the darling of the moment–lauded by the media, embraced by millions–so new, so promising in possibility, and yet so ripe for exploitation.  

We believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially awe-inspiring opportunity to make new forms of learning available to all students worldwide, whether young or old, learning for credit, self-improvement, employment, or just pleasure.  We believe that online courses can create “meaningful” as well as “massive” learning opportunities.  

We are aware of how much we don’t know: that we have yet to explore the full pedagogical potential of learning online, of how it can change the ways we teach, the ways we learn, and the ways we connect.  

And we worry that this moment is fragile, that history frequently and painfully repeats itself. Think of television in the 1950s or even correspondence courses in the 1920s. As we begin to experiment with how novel technologies might change learning and teaching, powerful forces threaten to neuter or constrain technology, propping up outdated educational practices rather than unfolding transformative ones.

All too often, during such wrenching transitions, the voice of the learner gets muffled.

For that reason, we feel compelled to articulate the opportunities for students in this brave electronic world, to assert their needs and–we dare say–rights.  

We also recognize some broader hopes and aspirations for the best online learning. We include those principles as an integral addendum to the Bill of Rights below.

Our broad goal is to inspire an open, learner-centered dialogue around the rights, responsibilities, and possibilities for education in the globally-connected world of the present and beyond.

Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age

This document can’t be complete without continuous and dynamic contributions and revisions from students.  We invite students everywhere to read this beginning, to talk about it, and to add to it. Remix, rehash, and hack this Bill of Rights, adding your own thoughts and perspective.   On Twitter, please use the hashtag #learnersrights when you share your responses and adaptations.      

For more on the background of this Bill or Rights and Pricinciples for Learning in the Digital Age, please see Cathy’s Davidson’s blog

January 18, 2013
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Academe reacts to Aaron Swartz’s suicide

Reacting to Aaron Swartz’s suicide [Jaschik] — from by Scott Jaschik

The suicide Friday of Aaron Swartz, who was a leading and controversial figure in the hacking and open access movements, reverberated through academe over the weekend.

Many academic advocates for making journal articles and scholarly research findings freely available online considered him a hero. Praise for him came even from many who disagreed with the extent of his use of hacking to make his point. And the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Sunday that it would review its role in Swartz’s legal struggles.

Swartz was only 26 at the time of his death, and he was a major player in technology well before the JSTOR incident at MIT. Here is the article about his career and death in The New York Times. Here is Swartz’s biography on his website.

Here are links to some of the online commentary about Swartz’s legacy and his death:

Swartz’s ideas about information and technology (prior to the JSTOR legal battle) were twice the subject of pieces by Inside Higher Ed columnist Scott McLemee. Those pieces may be found here and here.

After Swartz was indicted, Inside Higher Ed blogger Barbara Fister wrote “A Modest Proposal Inspired by Aaron Swartz.”

Besides Audrey Watter’s moving posting re: Aaron, also see the thoughts/articles that the  

Why Aaron Swartz‘s Ideas Matter

I don’t want to write a long post about Aaron Swartz, because that’s been done already by a bunch of people who actually knew him, but his career and mine intersected one or twice and I always recognized him as a brilliant and generous contributor to our field. His suicide is a tragedy and a loss and touches close to home to many of us. Here’s the coverage, for the record:

January 18, 2013
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National Day of Service

Join the National Day of Service

On Saturday, January 19, President Obama and the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden will take part in an event that’s become a tradition — a National Day of Service on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.

No matter where you are in America, you have an opportunity to join this effort and serve your community. The Presidential Inaugural Committee has helped to organize events all over the country.

Visit their site to find a service opportunity near you.

This National Day of Service is about strengthening the communities that we call home, and that’s a goal that we can all share.

So on Saturday, take part in a food drive or help paint a school. Clean up a park or help make care packages for veterans.

There are many ways that all of us can make a difference in our communities and our neighborhoods. Find one here:

The President is looking forward to seeing you out there!

P.S. — The commitment to public service doesn’t end this weekend. Find opportunities to help in your community year round, at

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