Monthly Archives: September 2011

Your search results are different than others: Important to know


Did you know that Facebook and Google were filtering the results you get?  It’s true.  This means that results you get may be completely different from results that your friends, your neighbors, your adversaries, people of different ages, different demographics, different locales and countries get.  This is a scary thought to me.

Essentially what is happening: If I am a right-wing or left-wing person who only searches for right-wing or left-wing ideas, this is what I will find.  This is what will be presented to me.  This is what is reinforced in me as: Truth.  I take that idea back that ‘this is scary to me’ and want to replace it with: THIS IS TERRIFYING TO ME!!


Watch this video to understand more:


I am not going to repost this post from The Filter Bubble, but they explain main ideas for how to combat search result filtering:

  1. Burn your cookies.
  2. Erase your web history.
  3. Tell Facebook to keep your data private.
  4. Hide your birthday.
  5. Turn off targeted ads, and tell the stalking sneakers to buzz off.
  6. Go incognito.
  7. Or better yet, go anonymous.
  8. Depersonalize your browser.
  9. Tell Google and Facebook to make it easier to see and control your filters.
  10. Tell Congress you care.

I would add:

  • Compare friend results – like you saw in the video
  • Network through places like Twitter around the world and ask to compare results from people outside of your sphere of thinking – Try to think what you search for and like and choose the opposite #tag instead – for example, if you are a Republican and always search #Republican, try #Democrat instead, and vice versa.  If you search #Vanilla, try #Chocolate.  Connect with new people from the other side of your views, your searches, and your beliefs.
  • Start searching things you don’t normally search – Try to trick these algorithms. (I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s worth a try)
Taylor made is good, but not always.  I hope you take action to see what you might be missing.

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I can’t live without Podcasting. Here’s why:


I can’t live without Podcasting or Vodcasting (Video Podcasting) and this article explains why.  First have a look at this video to understand the implications this can have for the education system .  The idea is a reverse-homework approach, which allows for a differentiated classroom with hands on teacher instruction.


Of all places to start, I was initiated into the world of podcasting by listening to my banks podcasts found here:  They were actually interesting and informative.  They made me want to explore more.

I realized that podcasts were not just books read aloud, but could also be lessons in digital form. I found lesson upon lesson at Apple iTunes and at BBC Radio.  Beyond teaching and learning, I found “the ultimate podcast collection” at

Moving away from the consumption idea I thought about the other end of it: Production.  Podcasting meant that students were able to create, which meant facilitation of higher-level learning in Bloom Digital Taxonomy.  It meant the digital natives in our classrooms had another facet to express themselves.  But how do they do it?


Let’s look first at how to Podcast and then how to Vodcast, Mr. Bennett style.

Podcasting –

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you have sound accessories (tambourines, noise makers, etc.) and you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound card
    • Working headphones and mic
    • Some hard disk space (approx 2-3 gigs should be lots in the beginning)
    • Pop filters are nice, but not necessary.  They take away the loud crackly ‘p’ sounds when you talk
    • Software to record and edit: Audacity is good for a PC / Garageband is excellent for a Mac
    • MP3 Encoder: LAME or iTunes
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Audacity, follow this link to Jason Wan Orden’s site.
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Garageband, follow this link to Indiana University’s site.
  • Publish and post your Podcast at Ourmedia: mp3 file storage | WordPress: blog service and host | Feedburner: to create a podcast-ready RSS feed

Vodcasting – This is with the idea teachers will create a video podcast for their students to watch as homework

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
    • Think about the background that people will be seeing.  Less is more.  Sit in front of a blank wall.
    • Make sure the lighting on your face is not harsh or one-sided.
    • Keep videos to 10 minutes or less (for student attention and to make sure it will upload to Youtube).
    • Keep yourself Animated and interesting.
    • Have only one idea per video.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound and video card
    • Working video camera – if it is built-in to the computer it might be best
    • Working mic – again, built-in could be the way to go
    • Camtasia or Camstudio to video and capture screens
    • Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi or something else to display notes
    • Digital writing toolWacom tablets are great and well-priced
    • Software like iMovie (Mac) or Freemake (PC)  to edit the video
    • A Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes subscription to upload your videos
  • Students need:
    • A computer to view Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes OR
    • Cell phones to watch MP4s OR
    • PSPs – This method requires a video format converter like Media Coder OR
    • Flash Drives
  • You might also attach using a blog or site:
    • Pre-written and uploaded notes
    • Guided practice with questions students will answer
    • Extra reading if they would like
    • Diagrams to follow

Be diligent, but only bite off as much as you and your students can chew.  For example:

  • If you start creating podcasts, try one a night or two a week.
  • Work only on one subject at a time per year.  Don’t overdo it.

This will eventually mean that you have flipped your classroom.  For more information about this, check out University of North Colorado’s website and visit  Join the discussion at Vodcasting Ning found here.

Good luck.


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Downloading Youtube Videos: How to


Everyone wants to know, “How can I download videos from Youtube?”  Well, it’s never been easier.


The fact that I get asked at least once a week about how to download Youtube videos should be proof enough that people are asking this question.

However, the fact that there are 2,220,000 hits in Google when you search, “Download Youtube videos” added to the fact that there are tonne of programs and ways to do this compounds my evidence that we can and should be able to do it pretty easily.


In my short video below, I explain how to download videos from Youtube through Firefox.


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Gone are keyboards: Surface Computing


Schools are eager to become 1:1 with laptop programs, but they are wrong with this kind of thinking.  Gone will be the days of mice and keyboards.  The 5:1 and 4:1 classrooms are those of the future for tech-heavy, well-endowed and ‘lucky’ schools. What do these programs consist of? Let’s look:

  1. Projector / with Mimio, Smartboard, or Promethian – no keyboards
  2. Wacom Tablets and All-in-one Multitouch Computers – no keyboards
  3. Surface Computers, like Windows / Samsung Surface Computers – no keyboards
  4. Tablets, like iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Eee Pad, Motorolla Xoom (My choice) – no keyboards
  5. Smart phones using Swype technology– no keyboards

And maybe a notebook here and there with a keyboard for my grandma.  But let’s be done with the rows and rows of computer desktop classrooms.


I am hoping that provocative questions like these are proof enough:


What does this mean for schools and educators?  This means:

  • Different ideas for the budget.
  • Continued training for teachers about how to use these devices.
  • Technology Integration Specialists, instead of classroom technology teachers
  • Allowing students to bring their devices to school
  • Supporting student devices, both physically, through networking and academically, with authentic connections to lessons
  • Everyone needs New ways of thinking.

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