Baby Ava!

My wife Lea gave birth this morning to a 7 pound 4 ounce baby girl named Ava Graner Kennedy. I am a very proud father. Pics can be seen at:



Parent Advice: “Papert on Piaget”

A lot of discussion has been taking place lately around whole-sale public K12 education school reform. The catalyst has been the new report out from the NCEE featured on Time magazines cover.

I noticed a comment by Gary Stager to a blog post of David Warlick’s in regard to this report. Stager encourages us to go back to put the report in context to what Seymour Papert has been writing and saying for a long time. This lead me to a short essay written by “Papert on Piaget.”

From the essay:

Piaget recognized that Julia’s answers, while not correct by any adult criterion, are not “incorrect” either. They are entirely sensible and coherent within the framework of the child’s way of knowing. Classifying them as “true or false” misses the point and shows a lack of respect for the child. What Piaget was after was a theory that could find in the wind dialogue coherence, ingenuity and the practice of a kind of explanatory principle (in this case, by referring to body actions, in other cases much harder to state) that stands young children in very good stead when they don’t yet know enough or have enough skill to handle the kind of explanation grown-ups prefer.

Piaget was not an educator and never enunciated rules about how to intervene in such situations. But his work strongly suggests that the automatic reaction of putting the child right may well be abusive. Practicing the art of making theories may be more valuable for children than achieving meteorological orthodoxy. And if their theories are always greeted by “nice try, but this is how it really is…” they might give up after a while on making theories. As Piaget put it: “Children have real understanding only of that which they invent themselves, and each time that we try to teach them something too quickly, we keep them from reinventing it themselves.”

As the father of a 6 and 4 year old and as an educator, I find myself constantly trying to “educate” my children about “the ways of the world”. I was the parent that immediately corrected my children and tried to tell them in “kid speak” what was “really going on” in the world. If we don’t allow our children at a young age to create and test hypothesis on their own, no wonder they don’t do it in middle and high school!!!

BTW – (I thought it was important to explain how I got to this understanding by explaining the path I took above because I think it helps to demonstrate the interconnectedness and access to informal learning communities that blogs and the blogosphere provides.)


I have been experimenting with more and more Linux distributions lately and I have to say they are getting very good….Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Linux Mint), Ulteo, and my personal favorite PCLinuxOS. The beauty of these linux distros IMHO is the ability to customize my OS experience easily and freely (as in “free” beer and as in “freedom of speech”). Open source and free software make this possible. I can use it, modify it, and share it!

The reason I said PCLinuxOS is my personal favorite is for one specific reason. PCLinuxOS has the ability with one command for me to create an exact replica of my installed OS on a liveCD/DVD.

Why is this so important? For me having the ability to 1) create a backup of my computer environment that can be put on a CD/DVD that can be run live and/or installed is the most important but also 2) I can customize and share the OS with different groups. Saving others the time (and struggle) to configure the OS as they would like (add flash, openoffice, etc) and to tweak the GUI to make it more friendly and even to add content/subscriptions that the user might like is very important.

The “mklivecd” command that only works on PCLinuxOS (and Mandrivia Linux) is a the gem that makes this all possible.  I recently spoke to the creater of this command and he stated that he has no plans to port it to other distros.  I understand why and I appreciate him creating it in the first place but I would love to see it work wih Ubuntu!?!?!?

One more Wii thing…head mounted Wiimote!

As I was going to bed last night I couldn’t get the Wiimote video out of my head (see last post). I was also thinking about Phillip Torrone from MAKE Magazine and the work he has done with Second Life regarding virtual glasses (ie monitors in wearable glasses versus a typical monitor)  and other hacks.

The thought that I couldn’t get out of my mind was…

What if we found an elegant way to strap the Wiimote onto ones head….keeping the other end of the Wiimote in your hand. One would then navigate the Second Life environment by simply turning your head while viewing the world in some sort of glasses/monitor. Head movements would guide looking up down left right, turning etc. The other controller could handle flying, interacting with objects, etc. And instead of the keyboard we could possibly integrate Skype for communicating with others as well as the interface via voice commands.  I would love to see the Makers out there (in addition to the good folks at Linden Lab) to take a shot at this.

BTW – Can you please throw in Hero Protaganist’s Librarian while you are at it!!?!?!?

Wiimote, Skype, and Second Life

I just saw a great video on Youtube of a Nintendo Wiimote being used on a MacBook Pro running Halo 2 in Bootcamp on Windows XP SP2.

What if…..we could take this functionality, throw a little integrated Skype in, and apply it to Second Life. I love Second Life but I find it a bit cumbersome to quickly and easily move around (and fly) in the 3d environment. Not impossible, not even hard, but cumbersome. I also want to “talk” to people….not always chat, but talk.

So if I could talk to fellow Second Lifers via integrated Skype (or equivalent) in world and I can move around physically in world with the Wiimote I think Second Life (or any other popular virtual world for that matter) becomes significantly more accessible and more intriguing to non-early adopters. I think this is important becuase we can then really start to see if the Second Life vitrual world interface has the possibility to unseat the keyboard, mouse, monitor, 2d interface paradigm we currently are stuck with.

Data Portability, PLE’s, Drupal, and Amazon S3

I just finished listening to Steve Hargadon’s latest K12Opensource Podcast and I have to say it really got me thinking. Steve BTW has a great podcast for those who are interested in educational technology.

Last week (end of November 2006) Steve interviewed Stephen Downes and this week it was Bill Fitzgerald from FunnyMonkey.

The main take away for me from the interview with Stephen was the concept of moving from VLE’s or Virtual Learning Environments (like Moodle, Blackboard….boo, Sakai, etc) to PLEs or Personal Learning Environments.

Also mentione dbriefly,but I think improtantly, was Drupal and its use as a potential PLE and the requirement for all data to be portable.  I couldn’t agree more.

As I play with it more I can’t help but wonder where Amazon’s S3 service, or at least the concept, plays into the idea of PLEs and ubiquitous computing.  I will continue to play.