Required Reading #1

If you are a producer of things- that is to say, you make stuff and do the deep creative work that is required for such an activity, reading this article should be high on your priority list.

The stipulation it makes is that people who are very productive and creative seem to have little on their schedule- and that this is by design. The freedom of time allows for the ability to channel huge amounts of work when they enter the mental zone for creativity. In other words, by keeping themselves free, they are better able to take advantage of the creative times they have. They have optimized their schedules to facilitate production during creative bursts.

I guess it’s time to start declining some of these meetings…

More new.

So in addition to my slow-to-launch newsletter service, I’m working on a few other things:

  • Some new video work. (a couple angles on this for now, but new none-the-less)
  • Listening to a growing number of podcasts
  • Getting started on working out a community-driven, offline compatible digital storytelling platform
  • Custom editing some movies for a teacher
  • Reading more novels again- I’m on a Warren Ellis kick
  • Looking into some custom electronics for some in car data handling
  • Getting back on twitter a bit (for example, I was on #edchat last night (gasp!))


This. Is. Big.

Here it is: My new project.

There is sometimes the assumption in the educational world (heck, in the world in general…) that free is good. That things should be free. There has become an expectation on the web that things should cost nothing. But that’s not true- because everything costs something. Google is lovely, but it isn’t free. Your data and the onslaught of ads pay for that service. Facebook is free, except that it sells every ounce of data it can take from you. Be it ads or data, we pay for everything we use. Sometimes it’s not clear how we’re paying- at that, I think, can be the most scary option.

I’m not going that route. I’m going to be transparent. I am charging an up-front fee, payed by the month. For this, I will provide a weekly(ish) newsletter full of the very best links and thoughts related to education. There will be no ads. There will be no solicitations. There will only be awesome.

Each newsletter will keep a theme- and I’ll pack as much into that as I can. But realize this: I’ve called this “Experimental Education” for a reason. Much of what I’m writing about isn’t triggered by education articles- I don’t think it’s the fertile ground for new ideas. So don’t be surprised to see things start off with an article about graffiti in the UK. Or the genetics of narcasistic personality disorder. Or something stranger.

I can only promise this: I will do my best to provide the most fertile ground of ideas I can.

Let’s do this thing.


Research #20

Things I’ve been reading about in the last week:

  • A new(?) method for note taking (directed at students)
  • Minimalism in tools
  • Follow focus on small rigs
  • EVFs seem to cost too damn much
  • Wondering about applying Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans theory to small-scale publishing
  • Reading Kevin Kelly’s recent post about his new book.
  • Creating an iTunes Newsstand publication (this is an awful and complicated process. No. Thank. You.)
  • Creating an Amazon publishing account (trivial & straightforward)



I’m thinking about a new project for myself.

There’s a lot of content that I create- I try to keep re-blogging here to a minimum, and leave it for specific cases that I believe warrant it: Required Viewing and Research posts. Even still, there’s a lot of good content that I create and find that doesn’t make it’s way onto this page- maybe it’s spread across the other platforms I use, maybe it goes into one of my notebooks, maybe it’s left in the back of my brain. I’ve been looking for a better outlet for that data.

I made the deliberate choice a few years ago (around the time I started tweeting) to not spend much of my time aggregating information publicly. I viewed my role primarily as a creator of entirely new content. What’s been a little tough is that I’m prone to personal aggregation, and it can be frustrating to not share some of my best finds.

To that end, I’m looking into some options for producing a subscription-based “premium” feed from me. It’d include the content here (as a matter of convenience for readers, primarily), though I’d be expanding somewhat from my normally short-form writing in some cases. In addition, I’d be cherry-picking the very best of my finds and including them- a sort of ongoing annotated bibliography of what I’ve found. While the blog posts would share some of their content with my blog, what you will be able to read here will serve as a jumping off point for the content of this new project. It’s the stuff I couldn’t/wouldn’t post here. It’s the reasoning behind (and the thinking about) the Research List, instead of just the list of the links. It’s a closer look inside and. It’s less filtered and more experimental, and if you’re itching for more new ideas and sources of inspiration, it’s where you’ll find them.

What I’m not sure about is where to host it, and what to charge for such access. This represents a significant investment of time and resources for me, and I can’t offer this publicly. I have limited time, and where I spend time impacts other aspects of my life. There isn’t much in the way of “free time” for me, and as much as I’d like to offer this all free to everyone, those hours cost me.

I’m looking at the possibility of an iTunes-based magazine model, but I’m never sure about the intricacies of that. I’d rather stay device agnostic for something like this, though I’d like some ability to format and include some small amount of media in these releases. HappyLetter is a neat possibility, but I’m unsure about the formatting options it offers. I’m looking at weekly releases right now, and I think it’s unlikely that I’d go any more often than that- but I want each issue to be full and not have any fluff- and that may mean that every two weeks becomes more reasonable.

I dunno. I worry there’s not enough of an audience to justify the time and money. This blog doesn’t exactly generate massive view numbers (to say the least…), and I can’t write a magazine once a week for three people. I suppose it’s possible I won’t due this at all- though I’d like to, as I genuinely think it’d be a useful resource for progressive educators.


Research #19

What I’ve been digging into this week:

  • An excellent rig for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
  • HotSpot apps for iPhone5 on Verizon
  • Medium Duty metal shelving with adjustable shelves
  • A good iPhone Case
  • Canon EOS-M alternative firmware
  • Compact camera rig configurations


Not teaching is not a new technique.

There’s been a TON of traffic about the article that just came out about a “radical new teaching method” that mostly involves not teaching. It’s made me kind of angry. There are a couple or reasons for this:

  1. This is not a “new technique.” It’s been used by crappy teachers the world over forever.
  2. The idea of “not teaching” being a better way of teaching as yet another “universal fix” for students is a terrible move.
  3. You can’t just stick kids in a room with tech and expect their natural interest and motivation to cause great learning.

The problem, as I see it, comes down to thirst. In an environment where students are parched for learning, the introduction of the equivalent of a glass of water to people in the desert will of course cause excitement. But that same glass of water in a room full of bottled water will not spark the same excitement. Conditions matter.

Even in conditions that have the requisite thirst to motivate the students, there are issues with coverage- students sufficiently interested will indeed learn, but that learning will be uneven. Plopping a computer in a room with kids itching to learn will allow them access to information they wouldn’t have otherwise, but it doesn’t guide them through any reasonable path. It doesn’t provide the guidance towards a knowledge base that promotes further learning. The danger, I feel, is the gaps in understanding that are inevitable without some guidance.

Is any learning better than none? Of course. Just as a glass of water to a dehydrated person is good, something is better than none. But in the schools I work in, most students aren’t dying for a drink of water.