Friday, November 30, 2007

Proofreading on the web?

Now I will be the first to admit I am not the world's greatest writer. My spelling is not the best (thank god for spell check) but I do try and proofread all my posts before sending them to the web. This is more than I can say for some major and local news agencies. I have noticed over the past couple of years that there are more and more news stories out there that are a writing teacher's nightmare. No real huge errors like the one that cost a CBS anchor his job (if I remember correctly). No they are small errors like added letters, any for a for example, or forgotten or miss used words in sentences. However it is these small errors that can lead to interesting problems/issues in the wonderful world of Middle School.

In reading a couple of articles on my local news website ( I was shocked to see misspellings and bad grammar. But it just isn't the local news agencies I have seen these same types of errors on big news sites such as and This has been going on the past couple of years now and makes me wonder, Is it more important that the story get posted to the web first (at all possible cost) or that it is correctly written (and we potentially lose viewers)? I also wonder what if these blunders were present on the story copy that the TV hosts read on air. Would they simply read through them and make the corrections or would they read them as is mistakes and all? Would they be forgiven or would they be chastised? Thankfully we may never find out since their editors/proofreaders are better than the editors/proofreaders for the websites. I can only hope that the grammatical errors are corrected as they are pointed out throughout the day. But why are they even allowed to be posted in the first place? What kind of example are we setting for our kids if we allow easily corrected errors in news stories to make the web? I can't wait till I hear the words "but Mr. G. why should I proofread and make corrections if CNN doesn't?" a good question that I have no satisfactory answer for.

It is interesting when public school teachers are scrutinized so heavily for not be "professional" unless we have a degree and/or several years of experience in the subject matter we teach, yet private school teachers need only have a degree in some cases. Now don't get me wrong I am not picking on private school teachers, I sometimes think they have it worse than public school teachers (based on what I have heard from friends who teach in the private sector). Yet the person who is responsible for not leaving any children behind can make up words at a whim as well as other blunders of syntax and grammar. Are we as a society becoming more lax in what we let go in our published writing and public speaking? One may say "what is the harm with just a few errors?" It gives us someone to poke fun of and provides good material for a technology teacher like myself to show my students what happens when you don't double check your work. But I have to wonder when they will ask me the question "But Mr. G. why should I proofread and make corrections if CNN doesn't?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Giving Education a 2nd Life

In between work, caring for 2 new twins, and personal time I have been exploring a new world. After reading an article in Learning and Leading with Technology (or was it Edutopia, arrgh I have twin brain) about using the "game" Second Life in education, I decided to check it out. Initially after reading the article I was a bit skeptical about using this "game" at all however, I quickly am finding my attitude changing. I am going to assume that most of you reading this Blog know what Second Life is. For those that don't feel free to check out their website to find out more ( My intent here is to explore a bit about the site and discuss its possible uses in the educational field.

Second life is a virtual reality site where people can not only interact with each other but also change the environment. Within this virtual world you can buy and sell objects (that you create), land, services, etc. You can attend concerts, work, build a virtual home or office. They have their own economy where linden dollars are traded on an exchange. There are several other virtual worlds out there (, World of WarCraft, etc.) but to my knowledge Second Life is the only one that is not a true "game" it is more of another world. There really is no end game with second life you just are there to exist the closest game that approximates Second Life would be "The Sims" but I believe it to be more than that. The interesting thing for me is to see the number of corporations and organizations that are entering into Second Life. Recently I saw the TV Program CSI: New York advertise virtual crime solving game in Second Life. ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) has an island setup in Second Life as well. There are probably more but as I am just a newbie starting out and only just in my 2nd day of the true second life world (you start out in a tutorial and then a learning island). I have a ton more space to explore as I continue my foray in to Second Life, however I want to change gears now and talk about possibilities.

I want to discuss the possibilities of using Second Life as a tool to teach children and adults. I know that some of you may scoff at the thought of teaching in a virtual world. There are several questions that come to mind to support the notion of not being able to teach. Questions such as: How will we know students are paying attention, How will they do assignments, How can they be learning in a game?, What if they look up the answers to our questions?, I could go on and on with these questions and I could answer each one of them but I am sure there are plenty of counter answers as well. But what if we set our biases aside for a second and think about the possibilities?

Within Second Life there is a separate Teen world that adults over 18 are not allowed, except in an educational capacity. This is where one would potentially set up their educational shop (sort ta speak). We would be meeting kids in their "world" that they feel comfortable. There is the constant complaint I here from some teachers that they feel they have to compete with "video games" will here is a way to turn the game into an educational tool. There are very few limits in Second Life, such as gravity. Residents are able to do/create anything they want (as long as they are within the core values set up by the owner (Linden Research, INC.). Think of the possibilities in a science class or a materials class or a programming class? This is the perfect tool for students to meet one of the goals ISTE has for students which is for students to become creators of media and not just consumers of it. Within this world of few limits they can create tools or products that are only dreams now. They can test scientific principals and theories that are impossible here. In a social studies class they can work on visiting lands that were created and populated with individuals from the lands they are studying. The possibilities are endless in my opinion. The question I pose to you all out there is how do you see second life being used as an educational tool?