I Have Moved My Blog!

10 02 2008

movingI’ve moved folks!

I have purchased my own domain name and moved my blog.

I still am in the process of fine tuning things before I delete this one. It wasn’t a perfect move, and I need to move all my links over manually.

My new URL is: www.tinamsteele.com

So, please, no longer post your comments here!


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Microsoft & Open Source, an Oxymoron?

4 02 2008

I am writing this post out of great concern. For the past year, we have been planning the implementation of a new email system. Our network administrator is an advocate of software based on open source and I support that philosophy, especially in the school environment. He worked for Williams for four years, solely supporting Microsoft Email Exchange Servers and intimately knows its flaws.

Our plan has been to change from Novell Groupwise to Zimbra (read more here). Many of our co-workers don’t understand why we aren’t going to Microsoft Outlook. It’s been a tough sell. Then, this past September of 2007, we heard that Zimbra was being bought by Yahoo (see article). This actually was seen as a good move by some in our school. It seemed to add legitimacy to our plan.

Now, the news is that Microsoft may possibly buy Yahoo. WOW! My heart failed when I heard the news. It sounds like a shot-gun wedding. All I could think of is what’s going to happen to our Zimbra. We are implementing it this very month. Is it going to be eaten up by Microsoft and go away? After all of our hard work? Yikes?

Saturday, I received this email from the Zimbra folks:

Dear Tina,

I am writing to communicate and discuss the unsolicited proposal that Y! got
from MSFT. This is a proposal that our board is considering and this may or
may not be completed. This is a very early unsolicited preliminary proposal
and even if the board did decide to go in that direction there is a long
road ahead.

At Zimbra, nothing has changed. We will remain utterly and thoroughly
committed to making our customers successful. We will continue to innovate
at a great pace. We will continue to disrupt the market with products that
are years ahead of our competition. We will continue to embrace open
standards. That’s our DNA. And we remain committed to doing that.

Many businesses, partners, Higher-Eds and ISPs have committed to Zimbra by
becoming paying customers. And there is an even larger set that is part of
our open source community. We just made an irrevocable contribution of
Zimbra 5.0 to the open source. No one can take that away. We will remain
true and faithful to our contractual obligations and will do everything
possible to make sure that our biggest assets – you – remain confident that
we are here to stay and execute. Thankfully, I can confidently say that the
Zimbra movement is bigger than any one company.

We are going to raise the bar exceptionally high next week with the
announcement of Zimbra 5.0 and the release of Zimbra Desktop which
consolidates many different mailboxes into one user interface. It’s the
first client-only play by Zimbra where we allow you to use our client to
talk to gmail, yahoo! mail or any IMAP/POP source. We are pretty excited
about this because it will be ages ahead of its other desktop companions
while also being open source.

Thank you so much for allowing us to serve you… we are not planning to
stop serving you. I will pro-actively communicate as and when I hear
something official and tangible.


Satish Dharmaraj
Zimbra Co-Founder

I hope this is a prediction, but when Microsoft throws money at projects and decides they are taking over, it is hard to fight “Big Brother.” I certainly hope so Mr. Dhamaraj.

The Paperless Classroom

11 01 2008


Could we really ever have a paperless classroom?

And if so, what would it look like?

Something happened this week that made me realize that our school is just not there yet. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing our school. In the progression towards Web 2.0, we are still in the early stages. It was evidenced by the event that rocked our world this week.

For some crazy reason many of our IP addresses for our printers were lost when the automatic updates for Microsoft were performed. We were flooded by phone calls, work orders and stops in the halls. There was a sheer sense of panic.

Teachers were afraid they couldn’t have class because they didn’t have hard copy handouts. Others told me that I had to have it fixed immediately because they couldn’t grade papers without printing the work out. I was also told we needed more people in my department and that we didn’t provide good enough service. A rumor even circulated that we had caused the problem when we were installing a new VISTA lab!

To me, it seemed that people were a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of letting go. As a teacher in a computer classroom, I always had a backup plan for when there was a hardware failure. It surprised me that the teachers couldn’t imagine living in a paperless environment.

So, I am trying to imagine the paperless classroom. Students would look online for their grades. Yes! We do have an online portal. Every student would have a computer – we almost have that. We are a career tech school and in some locations, we don’t have one-on-one, but in most places, we do. Textbooks would be online. For example, students in Culinary Arts could have recipes on iPods. Hmmm, what about students in Auto Collision Repair or Cosmetology?

Maybe one day we will get there…

Photo by José Carlos Pires Pereira

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The “Network” has Lifted Me Up!

14 12 2007


I feel like I’ve made it in the big league, sort of. An article about me was published in this month’s issue of ISTE‘s journal Learning & Leading with Technology! This all happened because of “the network.”

Two years ago I attended to NECC 2005 in Philadelphia. I wanted to make sure that I went to a workshop of Doug Johnson’s because I had referenced several of his works in my papers when I was working on my master’s degree.

So, this year I attended NECC 2007 in Atlanta. (You can see the wiki I created of my conference experience.) There I attended the “The Advanced Blogging and SideBar Envy” workshop by David Warlick with introduction by Chris Lehmann.

That blogging workshop created a burst of learning in me that has not stopped since I left the conference. Right after the conference I joined twitter and have been continuing the conversations by blogging and twittering with THE most outstanding educators! (follow me on twitter as “mstina“)

When I started adding to my rss feed, I decided to look for Doug Johnson’s blog – I knew he had to have one. And I found it. It’s called the Blue Skunk Blog. He had written a post about video games called “The Power of Positivity.” I left a comment on his blog. He was kind enough to personally email me and I responded with so much excitement and enthusiasm about NECC07 that he forwarded my email to the president of ISTE! The next thing I knew, I got a call from the marketing department asking permission to use my comments in their publications. One thing led to another and then I got a call asking if they could interview me. Thank you Doug Johnson!

I feel like I have so far to go, but thanks to all of you in the network who have taught me so much! In 5 short months my knowledge has grown so much! More excitingly, I am sharing what I have learned with educators in my school. We have started our Digital Native Lunch and Learn Series (click on the link to see the wiki we have started).

I have been afraid to post the wiki because we are still building it. However, I know that everyone began somewhere. So, I am posting this now and asking for any contributions from any of you to enhance our wiki – resources, etc.

You all are awesome and I can’t wait to meet many of you at the Blogger’s Cafe FTF at NECC08 in San Antonio! (Last year, I was scared to go into the Blogger’s Cafe, can you believe it?)

A Big Thank You to All My Network Friends!

Students 2.0 Join the Conversation

7 12 2007

I’m excited to hear what these students have to say!

A Little Wiki Help From My Twitter Friends

18 11 2007


Tonight I was preparing to work on my wiki for the Digital Native Lunch and Learn Series that I will be facilitating at my school with 14 teachers. I have a long way to go for building my wiki. I had just visited Jennifer Wagner’s wiki on her new online project “Does this Commute” and noticed now nice it looked. So, I decided to ask my friends in the twitterverse their opinion about what wiki application they preferred and why. In a matter of a few minutes, I received the following suggestions and advice from my friends. The network is amazing!

Durff Durff wrote: wikispaces is just easier to use than others.

Jen Wagner JLWagner wrote: Tina — I am not an expert — but I use both Wikispaces and PB Wiki. Necessary to showcase both to provide options for teachers. IMHO.

Tina — if you know your html (or css) you can totally tweak PBwiki with the kind of look you wish. Just like with WordPress.

Tina — I like the toolbar of PBWiki a bit more — not sure why though. But I hate the side nav.box. I wish I could make it go away.

Tina — Please make sure you get the FREE “NO ADS” on both PBWiki and Wikispaces. You can’t get them on the regular page.

And Tina — you can also use WETPAINT too. Not that you aren’t overwhelmed enough already!

and TINA — if you have your OWN site…check to see if you have FANTASTICO loaded. If so, it will install wikis for you automatically!

ijohnpederson John Pederson wrote: I love MediaWiki, but it requires setup and has a steep initial learning curve. (It’s what Wikipedia runs on.)

Wikispaces is a very close second though…very easy to get into.

Yes. 🙂 Go for Wikispaces.

K. Christopherson K. Christopherson wrote: pbwiki. The interface is easy, the plugins work wonders and my staff likes the idea of pb!

I’ve used both wikispaces and pb. I found the pb site easier to navigate and didn’t have as many problems getting back to home.

zoho also has a wiki. Although not as popular it is another alternative – goes with the whole zoho suite.

they just might be the people who would use a wiki – great place for them to store information!

Ryan Bretag Ryan Bretag wrote: If it is an educational blog, you can tweak the themes to adjust the “box” feel.

sorry 🙂 blogs on brain… I meant wiki. If it is, you can do major tweaks for free. If not an ed wiki, upgrade needed

you can switch to edu. by going to your wiki > manage space > subscriptions and at the bottom you can make the request.

Chris Betcher Chris Betcher wrote: I like the simplicity of PBwiki with a single password, but I prefer the granular control of wikispaces. wish it had better tables.

S. Peters Sharon Peters wrote: mediawiki needs to be installed on your own server and then twiddled with to make usable – wikipedia uses MW as software

media wiki is open source software = free! You could certainly host on your internal server.

installed it myself a couple of months ago to play with – pretty easy – just have a few tweaks for file uploads (jpgs)

you may want to look at this – http://www.wikimatrix.org/ – comparison chart of wikis

wetpaint site – http://tinyurl.com/2b5dv7

wetpaint site created by friend’s ed grad students last summer about web 2.0 tools

Image by Chad Anderson

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Meetings, and Seminars, and Conferences, Oh My!

6 11 2007

itcareerclusterLast Tues. I was at Moore Norman Technology Center for a Career Cluster Meeting. Career Tech Schools all across the Nation are moving towards the career cluster model, and so is Oklahoma. Our system is working to unify all schools across the state. I am attending this meetings to work with our curriculum directors to help with the development of our student record systems in managing the data changeover. This is a BIG deal for our schools and others across the state. It is going to be a challenging alignment all of our school’s curriculum.

guysLast Thur. I was at the OkACTE NRS (New and Related Services) Leadership Conference 2007. This year I am president-elect for NRS. We had a safari Theme for the conference and had several really great speakers, including one of the VP’s from Sonic (which, I had no idea, started in Shawnee, Oklahoma!). (side note, I lived in Shawnee for one year of my life…)

The highlight of the day was when we had “Safari Joe” come in with live animals. He brought in an alligator, python and leopard turtle. We took pictures of all the attendees who were interested in holding the alligator and python.


Next year I will be President of NRS and will be responsible for overseeing and putting the conference together. After Safari Joe, how can I top this? I will need all the help for speakers and themes I can get. Twitter friends????

wes_sm.jpgToday I was at the ODLA (Oklahoma Distance Learning Association) Conference in Tulsa, OK, at the OSU-Tulsa campus. The theme this year is Web 2.0. Our opening speaker was Wes Fryer. Of course, I was glad to finally meet Wes face to face, as we have exchanged conversations via Twitter and his blog “Moving at the Speed of Creativity.”

The meetings, seminars and conferences are so good for information exchange and learning. Yet, I find the best part is the networking. I love the quick chats in the hall, finding out what other people are doing at other schools. I love trading business cards and email addresses, phone numbers, and planning visits to their sites. To me, getting to know other people and what sharing and learning with them is the most fun part about these events. I love talking to the vendors and finding out what all the cool new technology stuff is and what it does.

Wedesday we are heading out for a leadership retreat with all of our directors. We are going to be going to Robber’s Cave. We are going to be focusing on our vision and planning for our school. This is an important time for us. It will be a time to set the direction for our school for the next year, the next five years, and possibly the next 15 years. I appreciate that our school has leadership at the top that sees the importance of devoting time to this process.

So, as I continue to grow and learn while attending these meetings, seminars, and conferences, I am also expanding my network – which is very exciting. I hope I will continue to meet more and more of my friends in the twitterverse and blogosphere F2F!

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