Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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links for 2010-01-21

Category : General

Performance Peace

Category : General

As you might recall, I have been teaching a new class this year. A fresh prep, if you will.

Back in the Spring of 2009 the administration came to me and asked me if I would be willing to take on a class of students and teach them about media production, emerging technology and so on. You might recall I asked for your help in determining what I should teach them.

First and foremost, our goal has been to produce a morning news show, which they named Cougar KidKast.

As we finished up production of the eight episodes for which this class was responsible we found ourselves with a few extra class periods. The kids asked if we could make a movie.

I set them to start talking about it. Together, they determined that they wanted to make a video that would have a positive impact. As we talked further, my kids began to reveal to me the unpleasant underbelly of school culture. My kids feel pressured to conform to societal norms in a manner that seems to me different from when I was a student. Perhaps it is pure distance (having not say where they sit in 20 years) or my own ignorance, I was unaware that the social pressures are as tough as they are.

They wanted to flip the script.

I asked them to talk further about who would play what role and what shape this would take. During our time together, we have explored different types of video. We’ve talked about documentaries, interviews, B roll, and more. My kids decided out of all of them, they wanted to create a performance piece.

As they began the storyboarding process, I noticed that one student had misspelled the genre. Instead of performance piece, he had written:

Performance Peace

An accidental misspelling turned out to be the cornerstone of their idea. As they began to allow the title to dance in their minds, ideas turned into action. One student in particular took a keen interest in writing lyrics for the piece.  Shy-Kyra’s lyrics are posted below. I should note that they are unedited. I have made no changes to them and they remain in their original, pure form.

I am thoroughly impressed with my students. I am impressed not only with their effort, but their hearts. Please remember these students are 11 and 12 years old. I feel the work they have created is far beyond their ages.

They ask only that you consider sharing their work. Enjoy.

Here is the video. Click through to see it or click here to watch it in HD on YouTube. Lyrics follow the video.

Lyrics by Shy-Kyra:


popularity comes and destroys our mind …
sometimes we can’t find that trend, that friend, that life
in life we can always lose our confidence or self-esteem because of what people tend to say behind your back
then our come back is violence or the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”
when the words hurt as much as the sticks and stones;
deep down this world has lost its mind with the trend of the year or should we say week
the schools has lost its mind with the trend setters or popularity we have started a DEMOCRACY and we
fought this war for months
played this game for years


this is my life, my turn,
you’re not in my clothes
you don’t know my story
you haven’t taken the time to look me in my eyes
taken the time to see my pain
you’re not going to throw me around anymore
i’m going to stand on my two feet i’m going to hit a homerun


links for 2010-01-14

Category : Feeds

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Lightscribe troubles

Category : Software

I use a Lightscribe drive on my Windows PC and quite enjoy it for making CD’s and DVD’s with a custom label.

Recently, I’ve been getting an error that says “There are no Lightscribe devices found on this system”. The error seems to be without cause, but prevented my software program from detecting the drive.

The solution? I updated the Lightscribe System Software, which you can download here.

I updated, didn’t even have to reboot, and it works fine. Here’s hoping that if you are having the same trouble this fix will work for you.

Download Vimeo videos using a shell script

Category : General

On Christmas Eve, I went to NewSpring for a service that blew my mind. One of the components that I most enjoyed was the opener they used, which immediately followed praise and worship. If you are not a NewSpringer, I encourage you to watch it. Even if you don’t consider yourself Christian, or even religious, the production values alone make it worth watching.

The vocal talent is Jesse Fisher.

But that’s not the point of this post. This post is about how I got his video to show a few folks where Vimeo is blocked.

On the Vimeo page for the video above, Jesse points folks back to to download the video. However, it is not there. So I began to research how to download videos from Vimeo.

On a side note, I seriously heart Vimeo.I love how they welcome me home when I stop by.

vimeo home page

I think Vimeo has the most polished video sharing site without much of the drivel found at other sites. And yes, I know that it is possible to make a video available for download. Ethical discussions aside, here’s how I saved this video for offline viewing. Of course, I wouldn’t sell it or make a profit in any way, I simply wanted to view it offline.

Enter Vimeo Downloader script.

Through a quick search on the Google I found this script, which allows one to download Vimeo videos. I am not certain if this is the easiest way, but I tried Zamzar to no avail, and this worked. Here are the steps for making this work on Mac OS X Snow Leopard. I am not sure how well it works on Windows.

1. Download the script to the Desktop.

2. Open a terminal window and enter this command: chmod u+x ~/Desktop/

3. Run the following command: ~/Desktop/ VIDEOID

(Replace VIDEOID with the numeric code from a video URL. For example if the URL is you would replace VIDEOID with 6674062).

4. Look for the downloaded video to be named VIDEOID.flv on your Desktop.

UPDATE: The author of the original post mentions this in the comments that I thought worth mentioning here:

For an easier method, try the Free Youtube user script, which places a Download link under each video (supports YouTube, Vimeo,, and more):

To use it with Firefox, first install the Greasemonkey extension:

The trouble is that user script totally changes how flash videos function in your browser. So yes, it does work to allow one to download a video, but it makes the user experience quite different. I will leave the script installed, but disabled. I’ll enable it as needed.

Interestingly, when I downloaded the file from Vimeo using the shell script, it downloaded as an .flv whereas using this Greasemonkey script it downloads as .mp4.

Update 2 (updated on November 14, 2010): The script author contacted me with an update. Here is the new link to Vimeo Downloader Script. I have also changed the links in the post.