Monday, December 10, 2007

Google Maps - Uses for Teachers

Something new I picked up in the TAG Hastings workshop for Google tools in the classroom...

Google Maps has the ability to edit "My Maps" to store for classroom use among other other things. Check out: Google Maps Mania

Wow! This just rocks! 50 More Things to do with Google Maps Mashups

Tell me... are you using anything like this in your classroom?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Digital Camera Reviews

There have been quite a few people who have asked me my opinion on the purchase of a new digital camera in the last few months. I am definitely not an expert in cameras! I am sure there are lots of others out there with some photography experience.

To that end, I do read a Photoshop Elements List and recently there was a discussion on what digital SLR to buy. In reading the discussion, they suggested going to as a wonderful site that reviews cameras, has great customer reviews, digital galleries, etc. The nicest feature of the site is the side by side comparison of the cameras. Very nice.

I have been very happy with our Canon Digital Rebel XT. It is aging and there is a new model, the XTi but still a VERY nice entry level SLR. The other competitors at this price point are the Nikon D40X which I have heard nothing but good about and the other new one I am interested in is the Olympus E-510. I still have a D series Olympus at home from about 6 years ago that I just love. Takes GREAT pictures!

Tell me what you think!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What we do...

Have you ever wondered why we do what we do in NIS at ESU 10?

Technology is so important in the lives of students and, at least in my mind, it is our job to give educators the tools to teach effectively in the 21st century. As I was going through this information below, it became apparent that it really defines what we do for the educators we serve. I challenge you to go through the 1) video, 2) "Scathing" review, and 3) the rebuttal to see how you feel it affects what we do.

1) Video:
2) Review:
3) Rebuttal:

Please share your comments:

Monday, October 22, 2007

What kind of website do I need?

There are so many types of websites that we can use as educators, it's hard to decided what we really need. I'll try and outline a few of the options and how you might use them.
  • Personal, Classroom or District Website
  • Student Information Systems
  • Course Management Software
  • Intranet
  • Third Party Services
Personal, Classroom or District Websites
These sites are what I would call the typical web site. It is geared toward putting information up about your particular class, event, or organization. Most of the pages are considered static, that is, they don't require much updating once they are up on the site. However, these sites usually contain new, calendars, lesson plans or a host of other pages that could change on a regular basis. When people think of generating these types of pages, they generally think of using Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Frontpage, Apple iWeb, or some other similar GUI software to build this type of site. At ESU 10, we also provide a content management system called Manila for teachers to build their sites. There are also commercial sites such as SchoolCenter that provide an end to end solution for this type of communication.

Student Information Systems
SISs are usually installed by the district to track student enrollment information, academic progress, attendance, and allow parents to log in remotely to see how their students are doing in real time. (Or as real time as the teacher updates the information.) Reports are done at the district level usually for board and/or state reporting. Much data can be gleaned from a well run SIS but for the most part, reports are written by someone other than the classroom teacher. Teachers are usually required to enter grade and attendance information and a few enter homework or lesson plan information in this type of system. Examples of commonly used SISs are Powerschool, SASI, eSchool, and Chancery.

Course Management Software
This is a relatively new concept for the general k-12 classroom teacher. It's a way to host classroom material virtually. Teachers can put material online, provide online discussions, have quizzes and tests, and many other options depending on the software chosen. In the past, this has been the domain of distance education classrooms but more and more teachers are using it as the benefits are exceeding just the distance classes. It's a way to organize the class online so that when student are sick or in activities, they can still participate virtually. Homework can be submitted online in this format and, as long as the students have access to a computer with an Internet connection, they are able to participate in the class in the comfort of their home or at the library. Examples of CMSs are Angel, Blackboard and Moodle.

Intranet Websites
Intranets are built around the idea that there are services the school needs to run that can be done online. For example, email might be an Intranet application that the district provides for communication. There are a million applications so I'll just toss out a few that I can think of. Some schools use online substitute finders, mass calling systems, and climate control systems all available at the touch of a mouse. District calendars are popular intranet applications as well as library automation systems. Even professional development opportunities are options teachers have in an intranet environment. And finally, almost all of your HR or Human Resources materials can or are provided in a district intranet. The main difference is that most "intranets" are only for the staff and are for the management and workflow of the district. As far as examples, it really depends on what the districts wants to provide as a service to the schools and/or teachers. Some are home grown and others are commercial packages.

Third Party Services
With the advent of Web 2.0 (Wikipedia Reference), there are so many new applications available to teachers in the form of web based services. From photo galleries, to calendaring services, to social networking sites. Some of the services we have focused on here with our teachers in the ESU 10 area are blogging, online documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. We have also worked with online photo galleries and scrapbooking. Maps and many others can also be used. Google has some great tools for educators that would be a good starting point. Here is another site that collects different web 2.0 applications.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Recent Manila Workday

We recently hosted a Manila workday for teachers in the area. It was an evening session that allowed teachers time to work and ask questions about their Manila sites. It was well received and I think a good use of time.

During the workshop, we had several people ask questions and I just wanted to highlight a couple of topics that we have not previously documented on used in our workshops.

Button rollovers
The button rollovers is a neat feature that allows you to use regular graphical buttons in your normal navigation. You can also have rollovers too. It's a fun way to spice up your site. The Button Creator site is just the first one I ran across on a Google search. It seems to work really nice!

Frontier adress for Button Rollovers:

Button Creator

Google Analytics
This is a tool that, after adding a little javascript code to your Manila template, would allow you to track users to your site. It may be a little overboard but it does have some nice tracking tools. I installed it on my wife's site to see what it can do an it seems really nice!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tim Tyson - NECC Keynote

I would like to highlight a few points made by Dr. Tyson in his closing keynote at NECC in Atlanta.
  • The effective educator in this age of hyper-connectivity is the educator that collapses the distance between children and meaningful contribution.
  • Our children today crave project-driven learning experience that allow them to immediately see the relationship between what they learn in school and what they live in their day-to-day lives.
  • Meaningfulness is the product of connectedness, of sharing, of contribution.
  • Students have the untapped capacity to make the world a better place today.
These bullet points could provide direction for some profound changes in how we look at education and the impact technology may have on our students.

Monday, August 20, 2007

iTunes U

Apple has given us a wonderful tool by sharing many different Universities course offerings and making them easily accessible via iTunes. If you like podcasts and that form of communications, you need to look at iTunesU. Check it out at:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Apps for Schools

There are so many different applications that Google now provides. And now you can tie a few of those to your own domain. We used them at the end of an online class here at ESU 10. It was pretty successful. I'll highlight a few of them today.

Domain Control Panel allows you to set up your domain to use the tools below. You can setup your own accounts, passwords, etc. You also manage the settings for each of the services to best fit the needs of your district.

Start Page is a service that allows you to set up a dashboard that is specific to each individual that has an account on your domain. The cool part about this is it is completely customizable by the administrator of the domain. You can lock in certain sections and have parts that are editable by the account holder.

Gmail is a revolutionary new web based mail application. It is built on the foundation of "conversations" or what you might know as threads. It also uses the Google search piece so it is much easier to find messages you may have archived. I really like the Labels feature which is sort of like sorting your messages in folders but better. Check out an overview.

Google Talk is an instant messenger that can be either a domain only service or one that is shared to the outside world.

Docs and Spreadsheets is a wonderful tool that allows for team collaboration. Students or teachers can share documents together and add their knowledge to the project. The documents can be share collaboratively so that others can edit the file or they can be shared as view only so it can be shared with anyone. In our experience here at ESU 10, it has become an indispensable tool for meetings and other collaborative events.

Calendar is a pretty straight forward calendar application that has powerful sharing features. I like the option to discuss events within the calendar. I also like to embed the month view calendar into other web pages. Very nice.

Lastly, Page Creator is the web page application for the domain. This is a nice application and fairly simple to use. The downside that I see at this point is that there is not an application for each account within in your domain. The web pages are shared with all the accounts and so anyone can make changes. I look forward to seeing some better collaborative controls in terms of what can edit what.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Maximum Impact - Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell - Author of "Blink"

1| "Coup d'oeil" - At a glance. Quality of Judgment
2| Separate knowledge from understanding. Summons of experiences and knowledge. Wisdom without understanding. Instinctive mode.
3| Judgment is fragile - needs to be protected. Put leaders in positions where there judgment is possible.
4| Judgment is frugal.

Don't let your eye corrupt your vision.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Maximum Impact - Boone

Herman Boone - Coach of the Titans

What an inspiration. Herman had a couple of very powerful points I want to share.

Embrace Diversity
Don't let diversity get in the way of the success of our students.

Trust is the emotional glue that binds us together.

Goals happen with teamwork. Teamwork starts with talking to one another.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Maximum Impact - Bradshaw

Energy! Wow... this is how I would sum up Terry.

Terry Bradshaw - Four time Super Bowl Champion

Terry was a very high energy speaker. He was so fast and full of information I mostly sat and tried to listen. I did pick up a couple of key points.

Stop and pay attention.
Listen to the still voice inside of you.

And, what I think is most important:
Be willing to try new things!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Maximum Impact - Strickland

Next are my notes on Bill Stickland, considered one of our greatest "Social Innovators."

Bill Strickland - Social Innovator

Bill is head of the Manchester Craftsman's Guild and the Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh. His core set of values centers around the fact that if you build something world class, you will act world class, if you build prisons, you'll act like a prisoner. Give kids a chance by building them world class facilities.

Building world class facilities needs to incorporate art, music (jazz), nature (orchids) and brilliant architecture. These feed the soul.

The arts are a bridge to walk across to a new life.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maximum Impact - Sanders

Here are my notes from Tim Sanders, a senior level executive at Yahoo!

Tim Sanders - Author of "Love is the Killer App"

Tim's whole basis for leadership grows from building emotional relationships with others. Develop a positive mood state.
Positive people people have more DHEA and this results in better performance.

Leaders need to "Lead the mood state" by:
1) Give your people a cause. Give them purpose.
2) Give your people a life.
a) Environment - Give them a good place to work. Natural light, comfortable furniture, pictures/paintings, etc.
b) Life balance - for example, no work on Sundays.
c) Make a friend, be a friend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Maximum Impact - Maxwell

Today I'll cover my notes from John Maxwell's presentation.

John C. Maxwell - Author of "Talent is Never Enough"

John's new credo is "Talent Plus."

You have talent which is God given. Then you have choices to enhance and bring out the most in your talent. 6 of those choices are as follows:

1) Belief lifts your talent - believe in yourself. Behave on the outside what you believe on the inside. Believe in yourself, your team, and your organization.

2) Character protects your talent

3) Initiative activates your talent. "Alls well the begins well." Start... NOW!

4) Passion provides energy. John had a great story about getting 300 people to his small rural church. On the day of his goal, he had 299. Had to go out and find another person and ended up bring two more back because he told them they would be hero's.

5) Preparation positions your talent. Be prepared for when opportunity knocks. You never know when that will happen.

6) Teachability expands your talent. Learn, learn, learn. Learn from your failures - don't dwell on them. Have a teachable spirit.

Other notes: What are you doing to invest in yourself? In others? - Put your money where your values are. His example was don't pay kids to do chores, pay them to read!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Maximum Impact - Intro, Sanborn

I attended a seminar last Friday with several colleagues at New Life Assembly in Kearney. It was a simulcast event by MaximumImpact. This year was host to several great inspirational/leadership speakers including Mark Sanborn, John Maxwell, Tim Sanders, Bill Strickland, Terry Bradshaw, Hermon Boone, Jackie Freiberg, Malcom Gladwell and Bernie Marcus. I would like to write about each speaker and highlight my notes from them. I'll start today with Mark Sanborn.

Mark Sanborn - Author of "You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader"
Notable Quotes: "Positively M.A.D. - Making A Difference"
Ask great things from 1) yourself 2) others.
Do things you're good at - do them with those you enjoy being with.
Focus on what you can do - not what you can't.
Only you control 1) How hard you work, 2) How much you learn, 3) How close you get to your customer/colleagues, 4) How creative you do business.
Take responsibility over action - Own the Results!
Lead not out of obligation but because of the opportunity - leading cause of burnout.
Have no regrets - regrets come in the form of saying "I wish I would have" NOT "I wish I wouldn't have."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Information Literacy

I mentioned I would talk about several issues Alan November brought up at his Keynote at NETA. One of the pressing topics in our age of information is "Information Literacy." What is the grammar of the Internet. What do we need to teach our kids about finding information and its validity. You can find any version of the truth you want on the Internet. How do you sift through all the rubble?

Alan November has a very compelling story about a student, Zack, wanting to write a story about the Holocaust never really happening. He brings up several great ideas of ways to teach students to validate information. I found this page very useful in researching this topic:
Here you will find a quiz on how information literate you are, web sites to check out and use as a teaching tool, and tips on validating a site.

Here are a few sites with good information on how to validate a web site:
I hope you have a chance to take an in-depth look at teaching our students the grammar of the Internet. It will be a valuable resource they will forever use.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekly update

NETA 2007
The 2007 NETA conference is over and, in my eyes, was a huge success. I had the opportunity to do two presentations, one on about podcasting and one helping Deanna with Web 2.0 tools for teachers. We had a full house for both presentations and had several schools express interest in getting more information for follow-up on both topics. I am excited to provide some help to those interested in doing projects in their classroom.

I am interested on following up on several topics Alan November mentioned in his keynote. Teaching the grammar of the Internet- Better searching techniques, how search engines work. Think globally when teaching - Western influence on publications, using classrooms across the globe for authentic learning. Develop authentic learning opportunities to improve student motivation - Real world assignments to solve real world problems!

Project Management
Working with a new project management software called BaseCamp. It's a free (one project) organizational tool for teams. It looks like it will be a great asset for us here at ESU 10. We are going to start with projects for the studio. Take a look at Basecamp:

Web 2.0 PLC
Investigating the idea of a PLC for Web 2.0 in Education that will have information, ideas, lessons, videos and more about how Web 2.0 can improve student learning.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Preparing for NETA

This is an exciting week for me at work. I'll be in Omaha Wednesday through Friday for the annual NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) conference. Not only will I be presenting, I also get the privilege of helping with the conference as a new NETA board member. I can't wait to participate in this capacity. I have attended NETA since my days at UNK clear back in 1994 and have lead presentations and workshops for about the last 10 years. This is a wonderful conference that has grown and grown and continues to lead Nebraska educators interested in using technology in the classroom.

This year I will be presenting two sessions. The first will be on podcasting. We will be going through the process of introducing the topic, to being a consumer of podcasts to, finally, producing our own podcasts. For more information on the presentation, visit

The second session, I am actually helping Deanna Stall, another technology trainer at ESU 10. We will be using and show collaborative Web 2.0 tools. I am really excited about this topic. We are doing more and more with Web 2.0 in the classroom and it has been a great experience. There will be more on Web 2.0 tools here in this blog throughout the year. Stay tuned!

I hope to see you at NETA! Have a great week.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Welcome - I am going to start by introducing myself. I am a technology trainer and systems engineer at Educational Service Unit 10 in Kearney, Nebraska. I have grown up in Nebraska and lived in Kearney since 1991 when I started college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It has been a great place to be.

So what does a technology trainer and a systems engineer do at ESU 10? When I was first hired at ESU 10, my job was more technical, doing more with programming and networking. I had the opportunity to set up several servers and install networks. We work with school LAN Managers and assist them in running their day to day network opperations. As a part of that, I took over a summer academy for school LAN Managers that teaches the fundementals of the job. It has been a wonderful experience and through that, I have migrated to do more and more workshops not only for LAN Managers but for classroom teachers and administrators as well. I do less and less with the technical side and more with integration of technology. That's where the technology trainer title comes from.

Plan to see more on classroom tech ideas, tips and tricks, meanderings, and more. Take care!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Productivity Links

Kujo - Project Management - Professional Development