Archive for June, 2012

Thoughts on Social Media back in 2003: My Friendster Experience

I had a case of nostalgia last night after watching Slumdog Millionaire, and I decided to revisit my original blog that I started in 2003. It is striking to read not only my rudimentary writing skills, but also my naive view of life and technology. Below was an interesting take on social media back in 2003.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Friendster: This is my topic of the day. I was invited to join this new concept by a friend of mine, hence the name friendster. At first I thought it was just some chat room similar to AOL instant messenger, so I really didn’t want to bother with it. However, with some idle time at work these days, I took the time and registered an account with this website. Instantly I was connected to my good friend and her friends. Wow, what a novel idea, a way to connect with friends and their friends. But during that same epiphany, I also realized this is kind of hoke, and that this application was just another concoction to display in a non-personal method, how cool and popular an individual can be? Is it really a public forum to show how many friends you have under your “friend’s box”? How superficial can this be? I will be the first to admit, that I was enamored and caught up with the idea of trying to claim as many friends. It almost sounds kind of surreal, as if your friends are possessions that belong in this so called “friend’s box”. I mean, this application really is not that new, we all have AOL and email accounts. Just email your friends if you want to talk to them, why use their “send a message” feature. Once again, I’ll be the first to admit that I was a victim of all this too. Does anyone really ask to hook them up with their friend’s friend using this application? That is what the real world is for, go out and meet up with your friends. Your friend will know if you are right for one of their other friends. You don’t need this hoke application to do that. Well, maybe I am just jealous because I only have 16 friends in my box, where some people have 50-500 friends. Maybe people are correct, they are cooler because they have more friends in their “friend’s box”. For me, it is not the number of friends, but rather the quality of that friendship.

But hey, I am just a critic, and probably will still check out the site once in awhile. Okay maybe a few times a week. One thing is for certain; I will view this site in a different light. I will no longer be caught up in this race of asking people to be my friend. If they are truly my friend, I certainly will not need friendster to tell me that.


The “Entrepreneurial” Educator

After listening to Dr. Yong Zhao this past Tuesday, it reinvigorated a concept I hold dearly in this 21st century environment: taking ownership of your own professional career. To quote Dr. Zhao from his recent ISTE 2012 keynote, “you don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you go out there to create a job for yourself.” Spending the last four days at ISTE, I was further convinced that our innovative teachers are expanding their own horizons (theme of the conference) and creating 2.0 versions of their professional career. It is nothing really revolutionary, but it has been amplified with the rise of ICT (Information Communication Technologies). Some teachers are considered “Rockstars” and have become professional icons to many; in fact, I bet some are making more money on the speaking circuit than they probably make as a teacher back at their school district. I certainly know a few teachers who left the traditional classroom and branched into independent consulting. Many teachers have written books, produced educational videos, created hashtags used by many, designed software, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, developed global Nings and continue to deliver professional development around the world. I mean this is stuff that definitely was not in their job description originally as a teacher, but has become an entrepreneurial endeavor based from their classroom teaching. It is important to note that many are not driven by the money (being an entrepreneur doesn’t always equate to monetary gain) from these endeavors, although I am sure a little side money doesn’t hurt. I am impressed and support how these teachers have branded themselves and evolved their career to something bigger than they have probably imagined going into a teaching career.

As Dr. Yong Zhoa highlighted in his keynote, it is the rise of the creative class and people with unique specialized skills. The talented teachers I have met are as creative as anyone, and have unique skills of authentic teaching with the “entrepreneurial” spirit of sharing their skills in branded ways (whether driven by $ or not). He further describes in his keynote the need to move towards entrepreneurial-based education and that schooling needs to be product-oriented. From the many great PLN that I finally met face-to-face, I see educators who are truly modeling what Dr. Zhao has been preaching in his keynote and new book: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. The next layer is to bring this mindset and culture into our classrooms and students.

Job Posting: High School Technology Teacher 2012-2013

Please DM at @socratech if you are interested in this position in Downtown San Diego.

High School Technology Teacher 2012-2013 School Year

King-Chavez Community High School is seeking a high level technology teacher to come work with us in downtown San Diego. Our mission statement is “We are a local school with a global vision that empowers people through education and love.” Moving into our fourth year of operation, we are a charter high school seeking dedicated and passionate educators who are committed to providing our students with an innovative and outstanding education. We seek a technology teacher who can deliver a dynamic curriculum in an effective, innovative way. Teacher must have a current, valid California Single Subject teaching credential in Computer Science. Computer programming skills necessary include: Java, C++, scripting, SQL, multimedia skills including Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut Pro. Teachers at King-Chavez must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, classroom management skills, and the firm belief in the potential of all students to succeed and go to college.
Please send applications to

5 Sites That Help Fund Your Classroom Innovations

It is unfortunately common to hear the following words from administration, “budgets are getting cut.” Again, again, every year, the same words are uttered with such regularity that we wonder how schools even operate in today’s economic climate. Yea, it might be a bit of an hyperbole, however, there are a lot of evident challenges our classrooms teachers face when trying to innovate in the classrooms. For example, engaging students in 21st century learning continues to frustrate teachers who are trying to procure digital access devices in their classrooms. And as we all know, technology is not like buying pencils and construction paper. In today’s financial environment, it is imperative that teachers find alternative ways to fund their innovations without going to their administration begging for money. Fortunately, with the proliferation of web 2.0, there are a growing number of sites that provide funding opportunities for teachers. Below are 5 sites that teachers have used to fund projects for their classroom:

Kickstarter: The fastest growing site funding innovative projects (not just in education) is Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s mission is to provide a funding platform for any creative projects. This site has been used by artists, film directors, entrepreneurs, and educators to help raise money for projects like making documentaries, turning a bus into a mobile greenhouse, and tshirts. Here is a great example of a Kickstarter education project: The Food Lab at Walker Jones

DonorsChoose: The most well known site funding school and classroom projects is DonorsChoose. I was fortunate to have been funded by DonorsChoose 10 times when I use to teach my engineering class. Here is my DonorsChoose page as examples of projects that were funded: Mr. Chan’s DonorsChoose Page. Whenever I facilitate professional development on DonorsChoose, I always recommend the following 5 tips in writing your first grant proposal. 1. Keep it under $300. 2. Ask for hands-on type projects 3. Share it with all your friends and family. 4. Research what match donors are funding 5. Brand your project differently than the ones similar to yours.

Support Your Teacher: Every school year, the famous classroom supply list is given to parents in hopes to get enough materials to last the school year. While some are successful at the beginning, most don’t get all their supply needs fulfilled. Support Your Teacher is a site striving to not to have teachers spend any money out of their own pocket, and let the greater community fulfill those lists.

Adopt a Classroom: Similar to Support Your Teachers, Adopt a Classroom provides teachers the opportunity to fund classroom projects by having donors adopt their classroom. It is a simple five step process that includes the following: 1. Selecting a classroom 2. 100% Donations given to the classroom (No Fees) 3. Resources ordered 4. Impact report on teacher’s part 5. Interaction between donors and teachers such as student work. Through financial support from foundations and businesses, Adopt a Classroom doesn’t have to charge any admin fees like Kickstarter and DonorsChoose.

Teacher’s Wish List: Another website that started orginally for schools in Ashland, MA, but now has been made available for all teachers in the US to use as a connection between donor and teacher wish lists. Teacher’s Wish List is a no frills, simple and free database system for teacher’s to create wish lists and sharing with the greater community.

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