Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thanks for the Shout-Out

A very NICE mini-conference
Filed under: Musings — Steve @ Jan 30, 06 | 7:37 am
I know, I know, the title of the post is corny, but how can you avoid it when the group hosting the mini-conference is named "NICE", Northern Illinois Computing Educators? The conference itself was a resounding success. There were only three time slots, perfect for a half day mini-conference. I did a quick 45 minute overview of Educational podcasting. You can read Dick’s write up of it here and check out the resource page here. I really should post the entire presentation there. I wish I had recorded it. I was planning to record it on my camera, but seems as though I forgot to charge it up the night before and the battery was dead. Anyway, it went smooth, and based on the comments people shared with me afterwards, quite a few people left the session thinking to themselves, "You know, I really think I could do that." I’m pretty satsified with that. I also attended a session about using Moodle for virtual staff development, hosted by Charlene Chausis. Charlene is the staff development trainer at Stevenson High School and showed off a Moodle course that she created discussing teaching technology to Digital Natives. To be honest, I want to attend that course! I must admit that I was surprised to see that John Blake and Wesley Fryer were already attending and participating in the course! I wonder if Charlene’s teachers know that she’s really got some heavy hitters playing in the sandbox with them? Anyway, the class itself was very informational to me. It had been a long time since I played around with Moodle, and I definitely learned about some features that I either forgotten or never knew about to begin with. It looks perfect for this project I’m going to be getting started on soon (very hush hush, but I’ll share when I can). Charlene also did a great job of sharing projects that other schools have been working on. Great stuff and well worth the time. The quality of Open Source products never cease to amaze me.

Proud to me mentioned in the same sentence with Wes Fryer. Thanks for the kind words Steve. Moodle has been a real life saver for me. It forces me to plan my lessons much more completely than a conventional lesson. I am struggling with finding new ways to teach using Moodle. Coming up with creative engaging activities that force my students out of their comfort zone is a challenge. They feel very safe with filling in the blanks in a worksheet. Moodle lets teachers prepare these activities. I finally tried a lesson module this week. It worked great. However, it took hours to prepare. I have downloaded eXe, which is a content editor I am trying to learn use with Moodle. The trick in using Moodle is to have the students create their own learning activities. HotPotatoes is my favorite tool.

I need to look at Charlene's course again to steal some ideas...check you later...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Social Bookmarking

I know when I post articles about social bookmarking tools, someone is going to read it and post a comment. Bookmarking companies really understand how to use search engines so, I am going to be very truthful and precise. I have be very happy using Del.icio.us for almost an entire school year. My students had issues with trying to use bookmarking software in class. I never have been able to pin-point their reluctance in using bookmarking tools. I read a post on Tim Lauer's blog:
The great thing about Scuttle is that you can download the source and run the application on your own server. Today my friend, Dick McPartland, came by and installed the necessary software and we now have Scuttle running locally at, Lewis Elementary. This means that we can provide our students with a social bookmarking tool, running locally in our building. Several teachers have asked for a tool similar to del.icio.us. I wanted to set up so that students did not have to create a login on a remote system.
The idea of hosting our own bookmarking software makes good sense so my students will not have to create a login to use the bookmarks. When I created a Del.icio.us bookmark account for my class to use, they never could remember the password. I tried changing the password to a very simple password like the initials of our school. That did not work. Wrote it on the board at the front of the class, but they could not remember the URL. Tried installing the javascript bookmark button on their browser, I just need a better way. I do not mean this ugly, but it seems that my students are not 'digital natives', unless they are searching for wrestling, pit bulldog images, or online game sites. If it is something they want to find, they are wizzards. If it is instructional, they basically act like they are oxygen deprived. Could it be a lack of motivation? Basically, it is a very frustrating to me. How many times do I have to reteach how to use social bookmarking?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Social Software

What is Frappr?
Frappr is an online tool that lets you map out the city where you live, work, vacation, or anything else! You can then share your unique URL with friends and find out where the rest of them live and work in relation to everyone else. It's great for keeping in touch with friends, families, and groups! You can also share photos, private message them, or leave comments on their MyFrappr homepage.
Could be heading down a road I do not want to travel, but...here goes! This social software seems to have features that could be interesting to try in my classroom. After reading about how a teacher in a nearby school district got into trouble. Seems a someone, posted on his MySpaces blog, what was described as a lewd photo (probably 'photoshopped'). A parent printed out the photo and took it to the adminstration of the school. Lesson learned, teachers may not necessarily want to have a page that can is not password protected. How does Frappr protect teachers from the possiblity of vandalism? I am not sure. I have read the statement below on their site:

How public are these Frapprs?
If you don't enable the "Add to Frappr's Public Directory" checkbox, the Frappr doesn't show up in "Browse Other Groups" and it isn't searchable. No one can view the map unless they know the url or Frappr name, or they happen to browse across one in someone's MyFrappr homepage.
Our Frappr class group is not included in Frappr's Public Directory so unless the students know the url or Frappr name.

So, first step: Teach students the ethical use of these shared photo social software. A question is where do teachers find resources to use with this "lesson"? This is a problem with being on the 'bleeding-edge' of technology. Maybe I should just keep images on a harddrive or burn them on a CD.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Interesting Concept

Originally uploaded by teach42.
Think about this one- This is me, getting my picture taken, as I take a picture of a person taking a picture in a conference on podcasting in schools. As Steve says, "there's something poetic about that."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

PodcasterCon2006 Chapel Hill, NC

What do you get when you mix 300 folks interested in podcasting?...

A great time!

When my head stops spinning from the facts and tech talk, I will try to sort out an idea or two on the possible instructional values of podcasting that I was thinking about while participating in today's event. L-R: John Blake, Dave Warlick, Steve Dembo, Jean Claude Bradely.

Mr. Blake attended a podcaster conference Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, in Chapel Hill, NC. He participated in discussions on how schools use podcasting and listened to lectures on advanced podcasting topics. Attendees for this conference included a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. There were men and women from all over the nation participating in the sessions. Presenters in the sessions talked about how they used equipment to create their podcasts. photo of lecture hall The audience participated in lecture by adding comments to the session based on their personal experiences and personal preferences. Participants in the advanced podcasting session were real experts in their fields. I noticed in the presences of internationally famous podcasters and professional musicians, network engineers from universities, recording and news entertainment media and corporations. One important consideration was that this conference tried real hard to (IMHO) to discourage commercial sponsorship. Those in attendance were more interested in sharing how podcasting works. photo of equipment used to create podcasts I did not personally attend all the sessions, however topics discussed in those sessions included a variety of issues that included video blogging, copyright issues, and educational podcasting. After lunch, I did participate in Mr. David Warlick's session on podcasting in education.

Podcasting as a Teaching/Learning Strategy

image of session

Session Description

New information and communication technologies are providing students with unprecedented access to the world they are learning about. Classroom walls are becoming invisible through the Internet and the information it causes to flow. What are the potentials of using podcasting to give voice to that world and to give voice to our students? What are the barriers, and what are the key entryways into leveraging global voices in our neighborhood schools? Join us in discussing the potentials and avenues of podcasting in the classroom <--click this link to read more....

It was nice to finally meet Steven Dembo. I have been reading his blog at Teach42.com for some time and listening to his now famous car-podcasts recorded on his way to work as a technology director at in a private school. He has since moved on the a different challenge and I wish him the best. He is a visionary educator. I took some notes on my laptop during the session, however, due to some network issues the wireless network was mostly non-functional. I closed my laptop after becoming frustrated with not being able to blog the session in real-time and probably was able to focus more on what was being said. Steven Dembo was able to login to the wireless network using his laptop and documented some interesting and detailed information on his blog.