Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekly Tech Tip - Technology Enhanced Active Learning Strategy - KWL

Weekly Tech Tip:

Online interactive whiteboards are online tools that let multiple people collaborate in real time on the same blank page. These tools can be useful for facilitating different collaborative learning activities. In this video I demonstrate how they can be used to facilitate an active learning strategy known as KWL. These whiteboards can be found in the Digital Backpack under "Diagrams/Concept Mapping."

Link Stew:

Blog Carnival:

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Additions to the Digital Backpack

I realize I posted a similar post last week and I usually only send these out about once a month but I realized there were some key services I forgot to add. So, here are this week's new additions to the Digital Backpack:

- Blogging for elementary and middle school. Gives teachers a lot of control.
- map where the people you are following are tweeting from
Bing Twitter Search
share images and video on Twitter
Post pictures and map them on Twitter
- watch free online technology training videos
International Children's Digital Library
- Search for Panoramic images from around the globe.
- music search engine
Stitch photos together to make a panoramic photo, create photo slideshows, or make a map photo tour.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Materials for my presentation to Hamline CSED 7761 on 10-24-09

I have been asked to speak to a class at Hamline University later today on a variety of topics. This presentation is basically about what I do as a technology integration specialist at Goodhue Public Schools. The instructors for this course have asked me to speak about my job, what it entails, grants and other funding sources, district and personal technology initiatives, virtual worlds, and mobile devices. Pretty loaded topic. I fear I won't be able to do any of those things justice in around an hour. I have decided to try something new with this one. To introduce mobile devices I am using PollEverywhere.com to gather information from the class prior to my talk. Then, to address virtual worlds I have done so by putting my presentation slides into a virtual world. People watching my presentation can join me "in world" if they choose or they can view it from the projection.

This is either going to be a huge success or it is going to flop.

I will be using the virtual world Metaplace as a presentation platform today. If you would like to join me "in world" you can create a free Metaplace account and login to the world I have embedded on this blog post below. Of course, if you are joining us remotely you won't be able to hear my presentation but you can certainly ask questions and I will do my best to answer them for you. My presentation is at 2:00 pm Central Time and I will be active "in world" around 2:15. The final part of this presentation requires you to have a webcam and this page printed out. If you are joining us remotely, or if you are viewing this presentation at a later date you will need to have it printed out for the full effect.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Garys Social Media Count

 Alec Couroscourosa RT @ChristianLong: Has everyone (or anyone) seen this? http://bit.ly/10UpB6 Fascinating 'running clock' re: social media. from TweetDeck

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Items Added to the Digital Backpack

It has been quite a while since I have been able to update the Digital Backpack. Today I spent a couple hours adding some new services. So, here they are:

  • -make your own custom interactive maps out of any image
  • - Build 3D building for Google Earth
  • - Free online audio mixer similar to Audacity or Garage Band.
  • - make your own video avatars with your webcam
  • - online flowchart creation tool
  • - online flowchart creation tool
    - Visual information organizational mindmapping tool
  • - SlickPlan is a web-based sitemap/flowchart generator
  • - online optical scanner, converts text from pdf and jpg files into movable type
  • - View sheet music online, record yourself over accompaniment track, or use it for online karaoke
  • - create music videos with your own clips and pictures online
  • Twapper Keeper lets you archive #tag discussions from Twitter
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online meeting space that includes an interactive whiteboard, document sharing, and a shared web browser
  • -Not only does SafeShare.TV remove distracting and offensive elements around YouTube videos, but it also allows you to crop videos before sharing them.
  • - huge directory of educational videos in all educational categories
  • Couchit - Very simple wiki development tool.
  • - Apple iTunes AppStore Search Engine
  • - iPhone and iPod App Search Engine
  • - online collaboration space where you can run team projects with document collaboration and task management
  • - over 2000 free audiobooks online
  • - make animated gif files out of YouTube videos
  • - Non-linear slideshow presentation web app similar to Prezi
  • - Online music creation program. This one is hard to explain, you just have to try it for yourself.
  • - publish email as a webpage

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Education Stimulus Package

In a recent New York Times op-ed Paul Krugman calls for a new stimulus package aimed at our nation's schools. "If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be 'education.'" The problem is, if the federal government just gives this money to the states they will use it to fill cracks just like the last round. I have another idea that I thought I would air out here to see if it holds water.

Many many schools, dare I say most schools, would like to have 1:1 laptop programs if money were not a critical factor. The biggest problem with 1:1 initiatives so far has been the total cost of ownership for school districts. Of which most schools report maintenance as the biggest problem. Some 1:1 schools have even been seriously considering abandoning these initiatives because of the financial stress they put on the school budget. Connect With Stillwater Public Schools recently ran this post that poses the question of whether or not a 1:1 program can be accomplished with student-owned computers:

Student-owned technology: Is there a place for it in our schools?

If the government wants to do another federal stimulus that would greatly benefit education perhaps it would be more wise to do it as a federal tax credit for families with students in k-12 or post-secondary to purchase laptops. Schools could publish their minimum requirements and suggested models and families could either use the money to buy laptops for students that meet or exceed that requirement. A small amount of federal aid could then be awarded to schools that are not yet wireless to install necessary infrastructure to make the student-owned laptops useful. The only thing a school would have to do to become a 1:1 laptop school is adjust their policy.

Since this would be done through a tax credit, states would not be able to divert the money to other budget issues. And, since the computers would be student owned, schools would not be responsible for maintenance and repair. Schools could then apply technology dollars to teacher professional development, curriculum development, or other necessary uses instead of maintaining student use computers and outfitting labs. Additionally, this would be an economic stimulus because the money spent would go back into the economy to help boost the tech sector.

Weekly Tech Tip - Scratch & Moodle

Since last week was a wash in meetings and subbing for people out sick I missed my weekly tech tip. So, I am going to attempt to do two of these this week.

Weekly Tech Tip #1: Scratch

One of our district AYP initiatives is to integrate math into all content areas. One way to do this is by having the students use a program called Scratch instead of PowerPoint for creating presentations. Scratch is a free program by MIT that is a visual programming environment where students can create movies, animations, presentation, simulations, and interactive games by clicking and dragging puzzle piece-like commands into place. In the process, they are both creating a presentation for your class and working with algebra, complex linear algorithms, numeric reasoning, and logic skills. Scratch is appropriate for grades 3 and up though I have heard of some schools using it with students as young as 7 years old. We have it installed on all of the elementary lab computers and students in the HS can install it on their own student accounts.

Click Here to watch a screencast demo of scratch.

Click Here
to visit the Scratch website where you can explore Scratch resources and download the free software.

Weekly Tech Tip #2: What is Moodle

I have had a few requests from teachers to explain what Moodle is and why we should care as educators. This screencast attempts to answer those questions. I also have created a self guided Moodle course on how to use Moodle. If you are interested in taking this course or even just getting onto Moodle and playing around let me know and I will ask Aaron at WETC to create an account for you.

Click Here to watch my brief overview/tour of Moodle.

Moodle is boring! - Great Blog Post By Mike Walker at Edina Public Schools about Moodle teaching strategies.

Link Stew:

  • Edina Go Wireless CoP - Great resource put together by teaching and technology staff at Edina schools exploring 1:1 laptop use.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Literacy 2.0

I had an idea yesterday that sprung into my head yesterday that has gotten me a little excited and I thought I would share it here today. A couple of weeks ago I came across the LibriVox website. LibriVox is a website/group attempting to make audio recordings of every book in the public domain. Anyone can volunteer to be a reader. All you have to do is record yourself reading a chapter of a book then upload it to their site. Books get collected into a podcast stream and then archived.

My first thought was that this could be a fantastic project for students. Students could be assigned to read chapters of books in the public domain and upload their recordings to LibriVox. This project would both promote literacy and community service since the students would ultimately be contributing to the greater good by contributing to this free directory.

This website got me thinking about projects like Project Gutenberg which are attempting to digitize every book in the public domain and sites like the Internet Archive who are trying to make all public domain content available free for anyone, not to mention Google's initiative to digitize everything else including books and periodicals or the success of Wikipedia. I live, work, and breath internet technology as a major part of my career but this continually amazes me. Just ten years ago I was in college and had to spend countless hours in the university library so I could have access to all the information that now fits in the palm of my hand.

The media center in the school where I work has a little under 2,000 books that students can read. On my iPod I have access to over 30,000 books just with Project Gutenberg alone. Why wouldn't every school want to have one of these? Why wouldn't every parent want each of their children to have one?

For the iPod touch there are two free apps particularly worthy of special note here: Stanza and Audiobooks. Stanza is a free book reader. From Stanza you can access an online catalog where you can download and read books from numerous sources both free and paid. Audiobooks gives you a direct link to the books in LibriVox's collection.

Now, when I was in high school my AP English teacher would assign us each week to go to the local college library and do research. This was great for students who lived within walking distance of a college library. However, thousands of students across our nation don't live anywhere near a library of that size or quality including students at the schools where I currently work. My thought is, a foundation could be established to provide isolated rural schools with labs of iPod Touches or labs of netbooks for use as a library resource that could be checked out like a book. In exchange for the lab, schools would commit to having students contribute to LibriVox via the project I described at the beginning of this post. This would promote literacy, grow the public archive of free public domain audiobooks, help bridge the digital divide, and bring tens of thousands of ebooks to libraries with otherwise limited resources.

Friday, October 2, 2009

iTeach Mobile App Directory

I am building a directory of iPod and iPhone apps useful to educators and students. I blogged about this a couple weeks ago (click here to read that post). I put together this video today shows you how to access the app directory on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You can also access the site from your computer by following the links below:

iTeach Mobile - Ning Site:

iTeach App Directory:

Digital Backpack:

I am always looking for new apps to add to this directory so if you have any suggestions please let me know by adding a comment .