Saturday, December 22, 2007

Minneapolis and St. Paul on Google Street View

Earlier this fall I blogged about Google Street view. Recently I learned they added Minneapolis and St. Paul to the list of cities with this function. Since I first learned of this feature in Google Maps this fall every time revisit the site it seems they have added more cities. I wonder how long before they have captured the whole world.

Below are some screen shots of Google Maps Street View in Minnesota:

View from the former 35W bridge.

Wiesman Art Museum


State Capital in St. Paul

Friday, December 21, 2007

Collaborative Storytelling

About a month ago our 5th graders started a collaborative project with a school 100 miles away. They have been taking turns writing a story using 21classes. This is not simply a story though. We have framed this project for the students as a game. Each student is paired with a student from their class. While one student is writing the other is out taking a picture. The student whose turn it is to write has to read all the blog posts in the story and find a way to incorporate the last picture added into the story. When they are finished they post the photo their partner took for the next group to write about. Their photography goal is to find a picture that the next group will struggle with finding a way to incorporate into the story. I predicted that this would force the students to be more creative and ultimately come up with more interesting stories. This project also promotes reading because to do the assignment they have to read the whole story that has been written so far. This project has, from what I observed, increased the engagement level of all students involved at both schools. Seeing that this has been successful in its trial run our next goal is to do this project, perhaps next year, with more than one school and hopefully on a global scale. Such a project could potentially involve as many as ten different schools granted that half are from Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia, and the other half are from the Americas.

To read these students blogs you can go to Grade 5 Collaborative.


Yesterday I wrapped up a three day project with our three first grade classes using Voicethread. Our teachers wanted to do something with the students that could act as a culminating presentation of a project they worked in teams to create. They did a lesson about communities and then worked together to create paper and cardboard models of communities. These teachers wanted this activity to be something multimedia that could be shared with parents. I first learned of Voicethread in October and have been eager to find a teacher at Goodhue who would let me try it out with their students. The three presentations below are the results of our first trial:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

RSS Feeds for Teachers

I just finished stage one in a grand experiment. I set up Bloglines accounts for every teacher in our district. Prior to handing them over I preloaded them with feeds in four categories: News, Education News, Technology Integration, and Content Area Feeds. I have been using Bloglines since this summer and have found it to be an absolute essential part of my day. Using Bloglines, or any other RSS aggregator, I have found my capacity to process large quantities of information has greatly increased. I have also found it to be an essential component in establishing an online learning community between other bloggers both in the education realm and out. I believe this tool will save teachers time, keep them informed on latest trends, and give many of them the same opportunity to connect with other educators to share ideas and form collaborations. I also see this tool becoming essential down the line. As more and more of our teachers take to blogs, wikis, and other web 2.0 media for student projects and assignments a tool like this will allow teachers to easily monitor, manage, and assess student work.

I am wondering if there are any other school districts out there that have tried a simmilar initiative with their teaching staff. Listed below are some of the feeds I included on these pages. Of course, I am always looking for suggestions that could be added to this list.

RSS Feeds by Topic and Content Area:

Star Tribune
Pioneer Press
KTTC(local news)
The Republican Eagle (local news)
Postbulletin (local sports)
Pawprints (School Newspaper)

Education News:
Education Week News and Information
Teacher Magazine News and Information
This Week in Education

Education Technology:
2cents (David Warlick's blog)
Dangerously Irrelevant (Scott McLeod's blog)
Techno Constructivist (my blog)
Moving at the Speed of Creativity (Wesley Fryer's blog)
One Trick Pony (Bernie Dodge's blog)
Weblogg-Ed (Will Richardson's blog)
Cool Cat Teacher (Vicki A. Davis' blog)
THE FISCHBOWL (Karl Fisch's blog)
Remote Access (Clarence Fisher's blog)
Education with Technology (Harry G. Tuttle's blog)
The Infinite Thinking Machine
Crucial Thought (Christopher Craft's blog)
Alan November Weblog
Kathy Schrock's blog
Marc Prensky's blog
Resource Shelf
Blogging Pedagogy: Computer Writing and Research Lab University of Texas at Austin

H I T - Hokanson’s Instructional Technology

SMARTboard feeds:
SMARTboard chat
SMARTboard Lessons Podcast
Teachers Love SMARTboards

Technology (not necessarily education):

Science Feeds:
Wiley Interscience
National Center for Science Education
Steven Spangler

Music Feeds:
The International Journal of Music Education
Music Education News
Research Studies in Music Education recent issues
Music and Education blog
Music Education Magic (free sheet music)
Music, Technology and Education:

Admin Feeds:
Principal's Policy Blog

The Open Classroom: Using technology, transparency, and discussion to transform education (Tom McHale's blog)
Ask the English Teacher (Crawford Kilian's blog)
WatsonCommon (Christopher Watson's blog)
The Open Classroom (Jo McLeay's blog)
Gardner Writes (Gardner Campbell's blog)

Social Studies:

World History Blog
IB Geography
Google Earth Blog
My Wonderful World Blog Professional Development
Random Observations for Students of Economics(Greg Mankiw's Blog)

The Art History Newsletter

Art Teacher's Guide to the Internet
Art 304
Art Ed + Web 2.0 + Technology Blog
Eye Level (Smithsonian)
Off Center (Walker Art Museum)
Art Teacher Forum
Art News Blog
The Photoshop Roadmap Blog

Mathematics Weblog
Mister Teacher
Math Playground - Teaching in a Tech Savy World
Mathematics Education Blog

Peaceful Playgrounds
Get Your Blog in Shape
Fizzikal: PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland
The Assistive Technology Blog
European Physical Education Review current issue

Spec. Ed.
Special Education Law Blog

marlyn's blog

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Technorati Profile

Gary Prest: What It Takes (closing session keynote) - notes

It is more important to put the student needs fist and empower the student than just manage the situation.

MPLS - lets idenity the students we don't know, put a sticker by the names of students they knew, those students who had no stickers the teachers focused on and made an effort to meet and get to know

There is no way a single teacher by themselves can get a child to achieve their full potential. We need collaboration. People working together achieve a lot more.

Teaching is a public activity. Students learn early how to draw lessons from a teacher's character.

There is very little literature on what motivates teachers.

Teaching is intensly personal.

It is our responsibility to act as tallent scouts with our students and identify their strengths.

Susan Patrick: Community of Interest Discussion: Virtual Schools and 21st-Century Skills - notes

Susan Patrick, North American Council for Online Learning
North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) Website

The big trend is we see schools moving more toward a blended model of online and traditional learning.

The % of classrooms where professors are in front of students giving a lecture is 3% at MIT.

What is driving this is the need to access information databases.

We are creating a bigger disparity than ever (digital equity). We need to find more ways to get technology to the students and involve them in blended instruction.

50% of high school courses offered online are AP.

Algebra I is the most requested course. (credit recovery)

Credit recovery is in huge demand for those students who are struggling (I have noticed this recently in how many course management system companies have contacted me wanting to sell our district their services).

The latest SLOAN report states that 1 in 5 students take an online course.

If students are going to do this in college they need exposure to it in high school.

"I'm so sick of it. I know I am smart enough to graduate. But I have to go through these metal detectors....Online instruction was the only thing that kept me in school."

The Gates Foundation Silent Epidemic Study - first study that really looks at dropouts
88% of our dropouts had passing grades
Most felt frustrated, disenfranchised, unchallenged.
Recommendations: need more personalized instruction, need more rigor and relevance

We are not focusing enough on the gifted kids!

We are having the wrong discussion by aiming at the middle. Other countries are focusing on their gifted.

Because of the flexibility of online instruction we are seeing teachers who have left the profession for one reason or another coming back. Online is also giving teachers the flexibility to work part-time in the evenings to supplement their full-time teaching jobs (I am a perfect example of this).

One of the problems we have is figuring out how to give students the absolute best education with the funds we have.

When we talk about the future we are talking about 2 years from now.

Our teacher training programs are not teaching teachers how to teach online. They need to because they are missing the boat.

We will soon enter a teacher shortage like we have never seen before. We will not be able to deal with this problem without online learning.

Last year Georgia only graduated on new physics teacher. This is not uncommon nationwide.

They are coming out with national online teaching standards.

Jennifer Oxenford & Kathy Kraemer: Community of Interest Discussion: International Applications of Internet2 - notes


Before using Internet2 you should do a test.

In April there will be a back to back presentation day for MN students.
Megaconference JR on February 21st

Organizations who are offering things for muse:
International Wolf Center
Science Museum
Minnesota Zoo
Cleveland Museum of Art
(there are many others, these are just the ones they rattled off)

Various Authors have also done things with muse (book readings, discusssions, etc.).

Artists have also done some work with muse.

You can also host events and offer them to schools in other states too.

You usually have to make arrangements to participate in events.

Often content is recorded and made available as a streaming video.

Collaborations Around the Planet looks very promising not only for finding other classrooms to videoconference with but also a possible launching point for collaborative blogs, wikis, podcasts, videocasts, etc.

I would like to find a school in South or Central America that has Spanish speaking students who are just learning English partnering with our High School Spanish class. Each teacher could have their students interact. The instructional activity that comes to mind now is having each group give directions to the other class in the language being learned. Assessment can be done by comparing how well the other group followed the instructions. A game of 20 questions would work well for this too.

PGAP - Polycom's grant assistance program

Other possibilities at

TIES 2007 - Kristin Straumann: Using Scratch in the Science Classroom - notes

Kristin Straumann
Science Instructor
ACGC Public Schools

How I use ScratchScience Explanation Stories
- Naming Compounds
- Balancing Chemical Equations
- Element Stories
- Earthquakes
- Collisions

This session is basically an introduction to Scratch. A lot of time was spent demonstrating how to do simple things in Scratch. I am not blogging about it because I already have used Scratch and all this information can be fund on Kristin's presenter handout page.

One thing she showed us that I did not know was that you can download Scratch programs that are published and see how they were programmed or even edit them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

TIES 2007 - Brock Dubbels: Teaching Literacy and Composition Using Video Games, Six Traits and Collins Writing - notes

Brock Dubbels website
Brock's Slideshare
Video Games as Learning Tools Ning
Video Games as Learning Tools Wiki

Started with yoga exercises. -followed complex instructions

game theory comes out of a combination of literary theory and math

use machinima to tell stories

Worksheet culture - teacher gives students a worksheet, students know they will have 15 minutes to do whatever they want because there are 4 students in the room who will do it and let them copy while the teacher surfs the web, possibly for their nest job.

Established reading Friday - one day a week devoted to reading whatever they want.
-assessment -10 pts if you bring a book, 5 pts if you read one of mine, points for other things as well
-walked around the room and discussed the books with students giving students a rating on a fluency scale (not for a grade, students know this is about identifying performance, scale could be different for different books for different students, a ph.d. could get a low score depending on what they are reading).

Comprehension can be achieved even by those with low fluency depending on their prior experience. Inversely, a high fluency student can have poor comprehension.

Many of the same literary elements are present in games that are present in literature and film.

Structural organization and format - micro level: decoding text, translating, etc macro level: genre, themes, ideas, communication

Games have storyboards

comprehension comes from making sense of the world, talking about it with others...reading is not just decoding

Games are built upon the idea of assessment because each move is evaluated.

A game offers a complexity that a novel cant.

You know playing a game that it is built so that you can win it.

You are a virus and your job is to go into the body and replicate. To do so you have to learn about the human body.

Global Conflicts Pallestine
You are a journalist in the mideast.

"You don't understand. It's just like the Odyssey. Sonic has to find his way home just like Odysseus."

Chris Dede - Community of Interest Discussion: Role-Playing Games and Simulations in K-12 Classrooms - notes

What if we did this without the media?

-the control in the River City experiment used a traditional lab instruction
-these paper based control curriculum, they believe, are better than average instruction
-Kids liked the technology/media complimented approach better

Are we doing kids a disservice by banning cell phones?

-At Harvard they have invested a lot of $ in making each seat tech ready with power outlets, Internet access, etc.
-Instructors are saying, "put the cell phone away, turn off the laptop"
-We are not going to integrate these things fully in the short term
-We can find activities for students to use cell phones sometimes.

How are you assessing that learning is taking place? (with the augmented reality project)

-have pre and post measures that measure the high stakes tests
-have diagnostic information from the handhelds to show what functions the kids are using
-include things like attendance records
-look for things beyond the test that show evidence of real learning

Jigsaw pedagogy - collaborative learning where each student must find and contribute a piece to the problem for the success of the entire group.

What professional development?

-smallest part is how to use the technology (kid can learn in 5 min, adult in 15 min.)
-Rivercity - 8 hours of professional development
-biggest part of 8 hours is how to have a collaborative discussion
-Rivercity already takes care of classroom management and engagement and allows teachers to dive right in to a collaborative discussion. (I suspect this is true of nearly all virtual world based instruction)

It looks like you have applied a progressive movement of education to technology. How does this stem from prior educational movements like progressive education movement?

-it stems from progressive education, Montessori, and Dewey
-technology making three things possible
1. society is valuing higher order skills that cannot be taught through traditional instruciton
2. technology helps standardize the learning process

How does something like this scale?

-There are a couple things that will happen over time that will help
-we have a bad sense of first generation curriculum and assessments
-hope the next group of stakeholders takes a look at second generation curriculum and assessments
-argues with colleagues that say school is too hard to change and that we need to focus on informal learning

How do you see a students day evolving to blend the old and new?

-I would be horrified by a school that uses only immersive technologies for instruction
-I would like to see these immersive technologies three times in a course. First in the beginning and students would be lost and see the relevance of the learning. Second, midway as a diagnostic tool. Finally in the end as a summative experience.
-This is a nice blend of the old and the new.
-We must be much more nible in learning how to use web 2.0

What can we expect the web 3.0 to look like?

-unresolved contradiction between 1.0 and 2.0
-Web 1.0 gives you a way to listen to an expert at any time
-Web 2.0 is bottom up giving users the ability to tell us what they want
-Web 3.0 recognizes that both sides have merit
-building a social tagging project with students looks like other social tagging systems - goes beyond by giving a concept map that shows how other people's tags are related- ranks users from top to bottom showing users whose tags are most like yours to those whose tags are least like yours

How might this stuff migrate down to the primary grades?

-would rather see students in the elementary schools learning the classic literacies
-we know that kids need real world sensory stimuli when kids are young - we don't want students to learn how to look up and down by having their avatar look up and down

How does ESL apply to your work with Rivercity?

My hypothesis with River city was students who were dyslexic and ESL would not do as well.
-All studies prove this wrong
-All students with these disabilities do as well because students collaborate as a team.

What about chronic behavior problems?

-We see increases in attendance.
-Teachers report that behavior issues go way down.
-Problem is kids who are engaged but not learning, kids are fooling around but not learning.

TIES 2007 Chris Dede: Immersive, Collaborative Simulations and Neomillennial Learning Styles: Implications for Education - notes

Today's information is to vast and coming at us too fast for anyone to keep up with alone.

Rapid advances in information Technologies

Worries about whether our children are being prepared for the new information environment.

Division of Labor - which jobs are done by machines, which jobs are done by people

2 skills people are better at than machines
1. Expert Decision Making
2. Complex communication

Why teach something you can look up on Google in 15 seconds or less?

Learning Styles

It is the media you use today that shapes your learning styles.
Some kids today do not act or learn like "digital natives" because of how they use digital media.

Juggling between digital media devices is not necessarily good or bad but it is characteristic of 21st century work.

Thinking has become distributed.

Cognition is distributed across human minds.

Showed video illustrating how necessary it is to be connected and be fluent with new communication technologies (cell phone, text messaging, IM, videoconferencing, etc).

New literacies are evolving as technology evolves.

The challenge is not to solve the problem but to understand the problem.

Multi-user Virtual Environments and wearable devices are next generation tools.

Most people see Muve's through the lens of video games.

Content in most online games are garbage.

We want to build things that are game-like because we want to harness the engagement of games.


Fire is a wonderful technology because just by being near it you get a benefit from it.

Computers unfortunately you have to use to benefit from it.

The pedagogy is important.

Situated Learning - powerful in life but classrooms are removed from the real world
-can we have situated learning with muve's?

Ubiquitous Computing
-Augmented Reality
-Today no one really knows how many motors or microprocessors they own.
-Not necessarily good - Minority Report
-We now have the ability to create intelligent objects
-Handheld Augmented Reality - Alien Contact -Aliens landed outside of school and students work in teams to figure out why the aliens are there and what they should do about it. They have to work in teams to connect the information to get a clear picture.

Students are inside some sort of collaborative simulation and are using it to develop some sort of 21st century skill.

Soon cell phones will be capable of doing augmented reality.

Your students are struggling...lets give them something harder.

Neomillennial Learning Styles-Learning based on experience
-Students in the web 2.0 environment like to co-design their learning experience. They like to co-teach.
-They like to work together to construct knowledge

Unlearning is much harder than to learn

Changing adult behavior patterns is emotional - exactly the single biggest challenge in my role as technology curriculum integration specialist

media shape their messages
media shape their participants
infrastructures shape civilization

Solution to dark future is education

We need to avoid a world where an avatar world thrives while the real world rots away.

TIES 2007Opening Session Notes

Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Ph. D. - Keynote Speaker
session wiki

School administrators

...a lone amateur built the ark while a group of professionals built the Titanic.

Take Action On:
1. 21st Century Skills
2. Robust Support Systems - needs to be "just in time"
3. Innovative Teaching and Learning

What is T time?
T-Using technology as an essential part of learning science, engineering, mathematics...

Music educators in Minnesota have put more on YouTube than anyone else

1:1 program - Oakland Jr High
"If our curriculum continues to be about information, our kids don't need us. If it's about personal development, they need us desperately." -Milt Dougherty

Spoke with a teacher at Stillwater High School who said he was not a tech guy and that he only uses technology to teach Science but when he visited his class he noticed he had 3 computers running with motion detection field cameras.....

Even poor schools in MN are using technology to connect to the world.

Talked about New Country School. I personally wish there were more schools like this in MN. I like the idea of teachers in private practice who act as learning coaches and let the students mainly guide their own learning through a technology enriched environment.

See about our science teachers visiting Mahtomedi High School to watch Scot Hovan teach AP Physics. He is doing great things with the SMARTboard.

What are PenPalls?

Overall Trends in MN Schools:
1. Relentless Intense PAssion
2. Support System
a. Technical
b. Teaching and LEarning
3. More Schoolwide Integration

Moving from:
-a distributed model to a participatory model (purchase licens to "free" open source)
-Application-based to Web-based, mLearning
-Isolated & Offline to Colalborative & Online
-Copywrited Content to Shared Content
-Submitting Reports to Blogs and Web Publishing

Strategies for Moving forward:-identify decision makers
-locate those who have had success convincing decision makers
-are there potential champions? (is there a school board member who has a lot of influence?)
-Who is connected to the potential champion?
-Start small
It is important to note that this speaker has a political background. It makes sense that he speaks about change as a political action.

Where are we? Formulate a vision or goal. Meet stakeholders where they are and use "bag of tricks" toward achieving the vision.

Stresses the importance of giving praise to those who you are trying to influence.

Seek first to understand - triangulate your data, look at history

It is important to have stories and data.

Pick a name.

Communication tools:

One-pager - "Your Best Friend"
1. name
2. Compelling Vision
3. Brief Overview or History
4. Rational
5. Funding Request - recurring - non-recurring
6. Research Base - Put on the back of the "One-Pager"

Elevator Pitch - "2nd Best Friend"
1. Once clear message
2. Be passionate and concise

Letters to the editor can be powerful

Educational Technology Act - In New Mexico - MN Doesn't have one
-Recurring $
-Equipment and Connectivity
-Professional Development
-Educational and Administrative

When big things get done in the Gov. office it is usually one person

We scored badly on our capacity to use technology.

Technology Deficiencies Act In New Mexico
-Vision of Equity
-ISTE Nets
-Based Upon Clear Standards
-5-year Phase-in

Students have incredible power in grabbing attention when preseniting to adult decision makers and stakeholders.

"It doesn't matter who gets credit as long as you acheive your objective."

Had success in convincing Bill Richardson that technology is important by giving him tools that he found usefull.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I just found this video about Machinima, a budding video art form. This video describes very well what Machinima is and is very entertaining as well. Beware, this video does contain some violence and may not be appropriate for young children.

TIES 2007 Conference

I have been feverishly getting ready for next week's TIES conference. Cara Hagen and I are presenting a workshop Sunday, December 9th and a session on Tuesday, December 11th on Virtual Worlds titled, "Online Virtual Environments in Education." In this session we will explore virtual worlds such as Second Life and Active Worlds and their potential for professional development and integration in the classroom. I have prepared a wiki for this session at I invite anyone interested in virtual worlds and education to edit this wiki.

Information on these and other sessions offered at TIES 2007 can be found at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lego Factory

It has been a while since my last post. For those who follow my blog I am sorry. Life has been hecktic. I am in the process of finalizing my Masters capstone, dealing with the whole holiday thing, in the middle of finalizing a purchase agreement on our home, and trying to hold down two jobs. In the middle of this madness I stumbled across something real cool while Christmas shopping. I know this is not something new but it is new to me. I know Lego is in the process of creating a virtual world but they already have a piece of software that might be of great use to educators. If not it is still a neat toy to play with. I am talking about Lego Digital Designer. Lego Digital Designer is a free program that can be downloaded and installed on either a PC or a Mac. It is a 3D modeling program where users can build whatever they want with whatever Lego bricks they need. These models, when finished, can be uploaded to the Lego Factory website and purchased as actual Lego sets. Even more, other consumers can purchase sets of your creations. Visit the Lego Factory website and check it out:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Medieval Helpdesk

I came across this video clip today that made me laugh so hard I nearly fell out of my seat. I felt the need to share it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Idea That Could Save School Districts Tens or Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

I have an idea that I believe could save school districts tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and and would be a better alternative to our buildings' phone systems. Most people know about Skype which allows users to make free phone calls to anyone in the United States or Candada. The problem with Skype, and the reason it would not be wise to replace our phone systems with it is there is no way for a person with a cell phone or land line to call you. The service I came across this weekend could be a solution to this. PrivatePhone is a free web 2.0 service that gives you a personal phone number that people can call to leave you messages. Those messages are sent to you either as an audio file attachment in your email or sent to your cell phone. The service is free and would allow people to contact you.

If each teacher were required to use their school issued email address to sign up for both a Skype account and a PrivatePhone number each building in the district would only need one landline for emergencies. This could save tons.

+ = FREE District Phone System

Friday, October 19, 2007

WebQuest in a Virtual World

I thought I would share with everyone a teaser for my capstone project I am doing for my MAED at Hamline. When it is complete it will comprise four WebQuests that exist within the virtual world of Active Worlds. In this video you see the environment students would visit for the first assignment on the first task of the first of these four WebQuests. I am trying to integrate as many different web 2.0 and peripheral devices as possible. So far in this task I have integrated virtual worlds, wikis, YouTube, and cell phone podcasting in a way that should feel seemless to students but giving them ways to influence this virtual environment while learning at the same time about art history, geometry, and drawing. I hope to have this all finished within a month but at the rate things are going it might be a bit longer.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why We Need to Teach Technology in School

I created this short video as part of an assignment at Hamline University this summer. I uploaded it to my newly created YouTube account and within two days I had 156 hits. I was certainly impressed since I had only shown it once, and that was to my classmates in the continuing ed program. I am now near 900 hits and two people have actually taken the time to give it a rating. I guess this is illustrative of the power of web 2.0.

Waterless Lithography

Last year my students at Fridley ALC and I made this video. It is a step by step tutorial on how to make lithographic prints without a press and without harsh chemicals through a process called waterless lithography. While I do have it posted on my YouTube account I have not posted a link to it anywhere else. In the event an art teacher is reading this blog I felt I ought to post it here. It is also a good example of how teachers in any subject area can engage kids with digital video to improve learning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Virtual Sistine Chappel - Second Life

I stumbled upon this fantastic environment this week while exploring in Second Life. It is a near perfect replica of the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately I think it only exists in the adult grid but still impressive none the less. Even though a k-12 teacher couldn't take their students here "in world," they could still project this on a screen and take students on a virtual field trip this way. In some ways this is better than the real thing. At the Vatican you can't fly to the ceiling to take a closer look.


Friday, September 28, 2007

I read about this service on Dangerously Irrevalent today and it got me thinking of it's application in the classroom. My immediate thoughts are that this would be a great speech therapy tool. It might also be a great tool for students with reading and writing issues. Students could speak and see how their words should appear. I have to experiment with it a bit to see what other potential benefits it might have. If anyone has any other ideas please post a comment.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

Participate in the free K12 Online Conference

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Interactive Webcam in the Classroom?

I have spent some time the last two days playing around with webcam games. These are games that, if you have a webcam, you can play by moving. You control objects on the screen with your image. Amazing! My first thought is that this interface could be used to overcome 1st grader problems reaching the smartboard. Second, I thought this might offer some way of many students interacting with the projection at the same time. Third, and most obviously, this technology has immediate and definite uses in Physical Education. I wonder if there is an easy way to create these kinds of games and programs. It would be nice to be able to make interactive learning games and simulations that make use of interactive webcam technology. - site with links to interactive webcam games

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Google Maps Street View

WOW! This is amazing. I wonder how long it will take to capture every street in the US. Actually, I am more interested in them capturing streets in more distant locals. There are some obvious educational applications of this tool. Now, if these panoramic images could be done as webcams and broadcast video in real time and we merged this technology with Second Life it would be amazing. Stationary panoramic webcams could also contain microphones and speakers. Those in the virtual version of a location could hear what was going on and talk to actual people there. Plus, virtual buildings could be constructed within a context of real space. I do believe we are not far from something like this being a reality. Complex? Yes. But approaching technology transparency.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Now, how am I going to get elementary school teachers to use this with their kids? Sounds like a good way for students to create interactive content that might be good for use on the SMARTboard as well. I think I might show this video at one of our faculty meetings.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Design and Conquer: A Day of Gaming and Social Simulations: TIES Workshop

Today I attended a fantastic workshop at TIES in St. Paul. This workshop focused on digital game based learning, simulations, and virtual worlds. The following are my notes and ideas along with links to resources that were given at the event:

TIES created a workshop wiki that was full of information and links about the event. They left it open to attendees to import links, other information, and notes.

Keynote - Glenn Wiebe

The slideshow for this presentation is available here. Mostly same views as Marc Prensky, namely that kids today have changed. They are digital kids. We need to use games to engage them. He stressed the need to engage kids emotionally and contends that good games do this. The other necessary thing for learning that games provide is lots of feedback. The brain also wants to search for patterns. Gaming is all about searching for patterns. He recommends educators read Henry Jenkins if they are interested in educational gaming.

Glen Wiebe's gaming links
Glen Wiebe's website

Games for educational use:
World of Warcraft - Skills needed to play the game are similar to those in business. Some businesses are asking applicants if they play this game.
Making History: The Calm and the Storm - History Game
Discover Babylon - History Game
DimensionM - first person shooter algebra game
Real Lives - Game about life choices. Could be appropriate for Social Studies, World History, or Health classes and appropriate for many grade levels elem-hs.
Peace Maker - Game where players choose to play as either leader of Palestine or Israel and are faced with decisions that have implications for peace or civil unrest. We played this game in one of the afternoon breakout sessions. Would be appropriate for a HS history or politics class. Also could be used on a Smartboard very effectively. Free demo version allows enough play to engage kids for at least one or two class periods, more depending on how much the teacher engages kids in dialogue.

Virtual Worlds:
Quest Atlantis - Project supported by the National Science Foundation that creates immersive multiuser 3d environments that kids and teachers can visit. Described as something of a field trip experience meets role playing. Sounds interesting, I can't wait to check this one out.
Knowledge Matters - Company that creates educational simulations and games. I checked this site out and they have some good stuff for business and history.

Sample Lessons - TJ Fletcher, Eagan High School

Lesson 1: ChemWars

Lesson 2: Reaction Simulator

Get a MUVE On! Guide to Second Life for K-12 Educators - Kathy Schrock

Kathy Schrock's Home Page

This presentation was absolutely awesome. Kathy spoke with us via video conferencing but she was also presenting to us from her avatar in second life. Mostly, much as she is known for, this was an overview of what sites are available in Second Life for educators (only instead of urls these were slurls). I must admit that I did not write any of the url or slurls down in this presentation because I trust they are somewhere on Kathy's site.

Test Drive Sessions

I derived two absolutely awesome ideas from these sessions. First, games like PeaceMaker can be played on the SMARTboard in front of the class with relative ease. However unlike what is out there and presented as SMARTboard interactive activities this game is near the same quality as many commercial games and is much more engaging. I will need to look for games like this for other curricular areas that can be played with simple single mouse clicks for teachers to use with their SMARTboards.

Second, Grant Spickelmier from the Minnesota Zoo presented a project they are currently working on that won't be released until sometime in December. WolfQuest is a video game they are developing that simulates what is like being a wolf. It is a first-person shooter game (although there are no actual shots fired) where players have to hunt elk, find a mate, establish a territory, make a den, and raise cubs. He showed us a demo version today and it looks absolutely incredible. They are looking at trying to make this game appropriate for kids ten years old and older. I can see teachers in December doing projects with kids about wolves, then when the game is available taking students to the media center to play it. They also have a community page where students, teachers, parents, and gamers can share information about the game and wolves. This might also be a good learning task for students and perhaps an outlet for collaboration.

Second Life Links (SLURLS):


Discovery Educator Network




Teacher Networking Center

Ancient Rome


International Space Museum

Lost Gardens of Apollo


Virtual Starry Night

Take a Class or Join an Event

Join a Group

Second Life Web Resources:

Second Life Homepage

Second Life Education
Second Life Education Wiki
Video Tutorials
List of Educational Institutions in Second Life
Second Life Educators Listserv (SLED)
Second Life Educators Forum

Zoo/Aquarium Web Interactives:

Zoo Matchmaker

Conservation Central


Final Thoughts:

Clearly some of the gaming activities presented were best done as projection in front of the class with student input influencing the gaming decisions. Specifically the ChemWars and PeaceMaker games would fit this category. However, there are tons of great games that would be more appropriate outside the regular classroom setting. Two ideas occur to me. First, maybe we could establish a time of the day (before school, lunch, or after school) when kids can go to a specific lab and play educational games. This could be a testing ground. From there they could make recommendations to their teachers about what games they think would be cool in class. The other thought is maybe creating a recommended home use games and educational software page on our district website where parents can visit and download engaging enrichment activities for their children to do at home.