Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Google Tool - Reader

Discover - Learn - Share

I have blogged in the past about the importance of RSS or Real Simple Syndication. It is a way to read blogs or subscribe to web pages so you don't have to visit the site every day to see if there are updates. Google Reader is a simple free tool to keep track of your subscriptions and let you know if there are any feeds you have not viewed.

CommonCraft - Blogs in Plain English

Take a tour of Google Reader.

Getting Started

Google Reader Help

Google Reader Help Group

Official Google Reader Blog

Interesting blogs to check out and subscribe to:

Directory of Education Blogs - http://education.alltop.com/

Directory of Teacher Blogs - http://classblogmeister.com/

Kindergarten Blog - http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blog_id=569849

Monday, November 3, 2008

Web Tool - Twitter

There are some things that you look at on the web and think - "I just don't have time for this!" When I first looked at Twitter a year ago, that's exactly what I thought. I created an account and left it sit for months. But then came back to it and was amazed at the potential. As with most tools, it can be a huge time waster and for a lot of people, that's just what it is. But for me, it is an invaluable tool. A tool I use for collaboration, personal professional learning, and sometimes a release from the real office.

So what is Twitter? By definition, it is a social micro-blogging service. That means you have 140 characters to communicate important ideas with your network of friends and/or colleagues. I have heard it called a "slow motion chat room" also. Some have referred to it as a group instant messaging system. However you think of it, the main point is that it connects you to those people you feel are important. You determine who your network of friends are and what you want to share.

Since my field is educational technology, these are the people I choose to befriend on Twitter. Our conversations include websites, ideas, surveys, etc. on how we can better use technology in the classroom.

There are really two major components of Twitter and they both have to do with building your network of friends. They are your Followers and those you are Following. You can see who others are following and who is following them. So, for example, if you know Tony Vincent is a great resource and you find him in Twitter you may start "following" him. He will update with some great posts and give us all some really valuable resources. Then, you can see who Tony is following and you'll see there are some people he is connected with that are pretty intelligent too! You'll soon have a bunch of really smart people to follow and be up to date with all the latest and greatest news they know.

As you find more people to follow, those people will start following you. To see what YOU have to share. Soon you'll have just as many followers as you have of those following you. You'll soon have a network of colleagues you can bounce ideas off, share resources, frustrations, coffee habits or whatever.

Get an account - it's free and if you don't like it, maybe there will be something else you can try. Good luck and have fun! Add me to your network! http://twitter.com/jason_everett


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Creative Inspiration

Computer MonitorIt was many moons ago that I started in my education technology career. As a student at UNK I was hired by Graci Gillming (who is now our tech training team leader at ESU 10.) At that point in my life my job title was "Internet Specialist." This included being the webmaster, showing faculty, staff and students about how to surf the Internet, send email, and all other things Internet. I loved it! All the networking (machine type) and programming was right up my alley. I had never turned on a computer before college and I took to this like a duck to water. It was my thing! Well a few years rolled by. I was "upgraded" to a full time staffer at UNK. Things were good.

During this time, Graci left UNK to work at ESU 10. She and her boss Alan tried to get me to move but I was getting college classes for $1/credit, insurance, the whole nine yards. It would have been tough to leave. I suggested they offer the job to Todd. He and I were good friends and talked a lot about technology and it's impact in education. He was a great fit and is still at ESU 10 as one of our top Windows support people.

Well, I finally succumbed to the pressure and left UNK. Although, I didn't go directly to work at ESU 10. My first stop was Centura Public Schools as a Technology Coordinator. I also moonlighted installing networks for several schools in the area and teaching adult night classes for the community college until a position opened at ESU 10. It was great. I was hired as the webmaster and programmer for the media catalog. I was the typical computer geek programmer type. Left brained like you wouldn't believe. I was the epitome of linear thinking. Bing, bing, bing - everything had order and a place and I was comfortable with that.

Peter H. ReynoldsUntil one day, I sat in on a presentation - a keynote actually - by Peter H. Reynolds at the NETA conference in Omaha, Nebraska. He inspired me to move on from by left brain ways and start working in both hemispheres. He inspired me to "Make your mark and see where it takes you." I started using his material more and more in workshops and it changed how I see the world and work with educators. The world is no longer black and white as it had been before, but now was covered in color and brilliance. It was an awakening.

Now I don't leave my office without my pencil bag filled with scissors, colored pencils, paint, glue and other creative tools. Instead of using the command line text editors, my computer has 3d tools, animation programs, photo editing software and more creative software. I believe creativity should be infused in every task we undertake. Splash it with color! As such, I have been enthralled with Fablevision and the mission it has undertaken infusing creativity and education. My wife and I are now Fablevision Ambassadors and we love to show the great things they are doing to spark the creative fires in teachers and students.

Crayon Line

Stay tuned for more on next Sunday's creative app - Animation-ish. Tomorrow's blog is a Web 2.0 site I can't wait to share with you! Until then...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Blog Challenge

There are a couple of us at ESU 10 who have taken on a challenge to write a blog post every day for the month of November. Several people in the educational technology career field have posted challenges and tips to better blogging. (See links below) As I thought about blogging, what I wanted to share with you, and how I was going to go about it, I came up with a plan. And so here it is...

For the month of November:

  1. On Sundays, I will write about creativity applications.

  2. On Mondays, I will share and write about web 2.0 websites.

  3. On Tuesdays, I will write about Google tools that you can use in the classroom.

  4. On Wednesdays, I will write about how you might consider use a cell phone in education.

  5. On Thursdays, I will write about using an iPod or other handheld.

  6. On Fridays, I will share a blog for you to read.

  7. On Saturdays, I will review the week and for a bonus, share a "Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works" tip.

Shared by Deanna Stall:
30 Days to a Better Blog - http://www.teach42.com/
Blogging Tips for Beginners - http://tinyurl.com/o3qtk
31-Days to Building a Better Blog - http://tinyurl.com/5gyadg
10-Steps to Become an Edublogger - http://brandon-hall.com/janetclarey/?p=398
Ten Secrets to Better Blogging - http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ten-secrets-to-better-blogging/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Building a 21st Century PLN

Building a 21st Century PLN (Personal Learning Network)

As the clock ticks and pulls us further into the 21st century, it is imperative we give our students the skills they will need to succeed in their lifetime. I believe we all know and understand they will have jobs and a future of which we cannot even dream at this point in 2008. Technology and communication is changing faster than ever before and information is generating at mind boggling rates. It's hard to predict the next five years, let alone 15 or more years down the road.

This begs the question, how do we as educators keep up with the ever changing technology and information landscape. In the past when we needed to expand our skills, we went to college and received degrees in our content areas. We went to summer classes or took workshops throughout the year. We built networks of trusted friends and colleagues. We relied on books we received from curriculum publishers, periodicals and other print material. And, only recently, we began to depend on the Internet for other sources of knowledge.

We are finding out, however, this isn't enough.

So how does an educator in the 21st century survive the onslaught of information and new technology? By building "Personal Learning Networks," or PLNs. We already do this in the concrete world of people and books. Things we can touch and see. Now we need to expand that network so it covers new technologies to help us stay afloat. There are many ways to organize and categorize your PLNs but I challenge you to gather all the resources available to you in one location.

Knowledge may be obtained from people, places, events or resources. When we think of these four centers, we recognize they are the who, what, when or where in our knowledge mining process. Is it possible then, to build our PLN upon these centers?

People - This center's focus is on human contact, conversation, and the basic interactions we have with people on a regular basis. They are friends, colleagues, business partners, family, parents and others with whom we communicate.
Building your People network:
  • Mobile Phone - List of contacts, similar to your address book. The phone also allows for texting messages, sending and receiving pictures and other media, and even accessing Internet resources.
  • Instant Messaging - Create a buddy list of people who also use instant messaging tools such as MSN, AOL, iChat, Skype or other service.
  • Video Conferencing - The ability to have meetings with video cameras is becoming more and more accessible to the average educator. You may have access to a distance-learning system with a video camera in your district. There are also desktop based utilities to hold desktop-conferencing sessions right from your computer. These would also include video based MSN, AOL, iChat, and Skype to name a few.

Places - This center's focus is a location or geographic setting in which you can learn.
Building your Place network:
  • Distance-Learning Enrichment Sites - These are places you can visit with distance-learning equipment located in your district. Visit and tour zoos, museums, labs, parks and other locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • Colleges and Universities - These pillars of academic excellence provide a wealth of knowledge and resources on their websites, course-management systems and iTunes U.
  • Businesses - Businesses may provide resources for you in your community, regionally, or internationally.
  • Online Communities - There are so many "social" networks being built now, it is important to use those also popular with your students and colleagues. Twitter is a popular micro-blogging utility. You may also find Facebook, Ning, Diigo or a similar community useful.
  • MUVE - or Multi-User Virtual Environments are becoming more and more popular. You will see services such as Webkinz or Second Life being used by your students or colleagues.

Events - This center's focus is an event you could attend. One advantage of virtual events is you can review the content after the fact.
Building your Event network:
  • Webinars - A webinar can be a meeting, course or other event that is held with (usually) only a web browser and a phone connection. Many organizations are using webinar-type connections to bridge the gap of time and distance.
  • Podcasts - Many events provide podcasts or audio/video subscriptions to their content. The Nebraska Education Technology Association and the National Educational Computing Conference both record many of the featured presentations as podcasts you can review later.
  • Online Conferences - A new phenomenon is the advent of a completely online conference using course-management software and video content with presentation slides and handouts available to the participants. The K12 Online Conference is one such example of an educational technology conference held completely online!

Resources - This center's focus is something connected to the Internet to help gain knowledge. Below are only a few examples. You will find many other resources that fit your needs.
Building your Resource network:
  • Periodicals - Many information sources are providing material in the form of RSS feeds or blogs/podcasts. Subscribing to these services keeps you from having to connect to their site to see if they have updated their content.
  • Websites - We keep overwhelming lists of websites on our computers. With the advent of social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo, it is easier than ever to organize and share your bookmarks online.
  • Network Dashboards - Routers and switches have long been used to connect resources to the Internet. These devices will also provide you valuable insight in the use of your resources or just to find out if "the Internet is down."
  • Household Appliances & Everyday Items - More and more resources are being connected to the grid every day. It is quite helpful to know when your car needs an oil change or when you need to buy more milk. Your projection unit in your classroom may be need a new lamp soon. All of these devices can let you know a host of information via a simple text message or email.

So I challenge you, take a few minutes and gather these resources in one place so you have them available when you need them. You may even wish to invest in a device that allows you to hold most of these resources in the palm of your hand. New technologies like Google Android or the iPod/iPhone allow you to carry and access most resources anywhere, anytime. Other services provide tools like a dashboard that would provide you with needed resources at the click of a button.

It's not enough to only be content experts in our core subject areas and grade levels. We need to be connectors. Be able to connect with other educators in a multitude of subject areas, parents, community members and business leaders, and also regional, national, and global partners. These connections will allow our students to have a diverse perspective, and you will be a model of life-long networking skills.

For a list of links to resources referenced in this article, visit http://www.diigo.com/user/jeverett/NETA080610

Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Trends in Technology

2008 Trends in Technology

What our 21st Century Students will face.

Everywhere we turn, we are faced with new advances in information and technology and how we consume or contribute to these. Good Morning America is using Google Maps to animate where the latest hurricane is hitting. NTV is asking for stories and pictures from viewers to share on "The Community Correspondent." Oprah has 3 live conversations of remote hosts via Skype. CNN is posting back-channel chats live as the news rolls on. Presidential candidate Barack Obama sends us regionally appropriate and timely updates of campaign news to our mobile devices. We are surrounded with an ever growing mountain of information and technology is the only way to sort through it all!

I believe these topics will be a few of the most important technology topics teachers can get acquainted with to better prepare our students for what they will face when they graduate.

  • 3D Modeling
  • Motion & Animation
  • Programming & Scripting
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Mobile Devices
  • User Controlled Environments

3D Modeling
Programs such as Google Earth and Google Sketchup will give you a feel for what it is like to navigate in a 3D modeling environment. We are so used to working in a 2D paper society, it is hard for us as educators to envision this type of world. I really like Google Earth because we have all used and touched a globe before. We know how it moves and what should happen when we apply motion to it.

Motion & Animation
Writing, drawing, pictures... these are the medium in which we have communicated for thousands of years. We now have the tools to take these objects and bring them to life with motion. With applications such as Animation-ish from Fablevision, we can start introducing students to basic motion and animation at a very young age extending all the way through their education.

Programming & Scripting
I am going to go out on a limb and generalize when I say most people think of programming a computer as a geeky, computer scientist, brain surgery skill level activity that only the brightest students can handle. A new wave of programming languages are popping up aimed at all age groups and all curricular areas. Most are based on the premise of teaching logic but also have the ability to tell digital stories, build games, explore new concepts, and manipulate and build dynamic, interactive media. With programs like Scratch from MIT and Alice from Carnagie Mellon U, we all have the opportunity to have fun programming.

Communication & Collaboration
This area has exploded with the advent of the "Web 2.0" tools available to us as educators. Social Networks have taken our students lives by storm. MySpace and Facebook are a perfect example of how students are using online communications to its fullest. Tools like Skype are bringing remote presenters and experts into our classrooms on a daily basis. Google docs allows us to share documents online in real-time for group collaboration and idea sharing. Web sites such as iEarn are global project sharing sites getting students and educators together all over the globe. The Internet is just beginning to show how the whole world is available to us if we want it.

Mobile Devices
We cannot foresee what our technology landscape will look like in 20 years. With the growth of information and technology, it's anyone's guess. But be sure, mobile devices will become more prevalent and more connected to the "grid." We already see more and more student acquiring mobile phones and at younger and younger ages. What does this mean for education and how we communicate with our students? Mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, PSP's and other handheld gaming units are already showing us a glimpse of what is to come.

User Controlled Environments
Virtual worlds, games and other user controlled environments are coming on the scene with more and more veracity. It's hard for us to imagine these environments and how our students can spend so much time and money on them. Our minds are just transitioning from concrete music CDs and movie DVDs to virtual forms of the same information in mediums such as iTunes and Youtube. The idea of spending real money for virtual environments such as Second Life will take some time but it is already happening. Webkinz is even becoming more and more popular with younger children. And this experience of having control of your own online personality has an appeal to our students. They get to succeed or fail on their own, virtually!
These are just a few of the techno trends happening in our world. Our students are already participating and now we need to help them find relevance and rigor as they assess these tools for their own use.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I think blogs are about the most important communication tool of our time. There is much research to support this claim but what I really want to tell you is you should be blogging. You should be reading blogs for professional growth and personal pleasure. You should be commenting on others blogs. And lastly, you should have your own blog. We are ALL educators. You have experiences and opinions that matter.You have knowledge stored up in that gray matter - share it!

We are currently starting a new project at ESU 10 to support blogging on a whole new level. In the past we have provided a web presence for every teacher using Manila. We are refocusing our efforts and will be installing and implementing WordPress mu. A rough mission statement I created for the project:
Every educator should have access to easy to use, reliable and well supported technology infrastructures to support 21st century classroom communications. This project will yield a system of technology, support and training, established by ESU 10 staff and partners, to provide educators the opportunity to have a modern web presence.
Along these same lines, I ran across an article from Merlin Mann. The article is "What Makes for a Good Blog?" Check it out. I think you'll enjoy it. In the article, Merlin mentions a great blog directory if you are looking for a good place to start finding great content.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Model a learning environment...

"[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
Jim Henson (It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider)

Learning how to learn is the key to survival in the 21st century! The technology, tools, information, and everything we value now WILL change. Model a great learning environment and everything else will fall in to place.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Internet Filters

I just had to post this email I received to get your response. I would love to respond but as I learned from the keynote at NECC, the wisdom of the crowds is greater than the individual. What do you think so I can respond with wisdom and understanding?
Has anyone read the recent article in Network administrator. I
usually throw most magazines (junk mail) away but this front page
caught my eye. It describes how students are getting around filters.
Particularly 8e6.

Google 8e6 and you will be shocked.

Check this out.
To which a coworker responded...
If you want to read that article you will have to read it
from home though as it is classified as a "Web-based Proxies/Anonymizer"
site and will be blocked at schools.
I have left off names to protect the innocent! The the thoughts flow...

Monday, July 28, 2008

NECC 2008

NECC 2008 for me was about self-directed professional development and how teachers manage their learning of new technologies and classroom integration. ISTE's publication of the new NETS for Teachers provides a framework for teachers as they transition their classroom into a digital age learning environment.

NETS for Teachers Web Link: http://tinyurl.com/2ud5ky

There are many opportunities for teachers to stay abreast of new trends and classroom integration. Here is a list of several options teachers may have in staying connected. This is by no means a comprehensive list and should be used only as a starting point. Start with one and when you are comfortable, add another resource to your repertoire.

  • Local Technology Coach – Start with your local building technology support and find out what opportunities your local district and/or regional support center can provide.
  • Blogs – There are teachers out there just like you who are writing about those issues affecting you, your grade level and particular curriculum. Ex: http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/
  • Social Networks such as Ning – These can be a great place to lurk and/or post questions to topics of interest to you. Ex: http://www.classroom20.com/
  • Online Classes , Conferences and Workshops – A great way to learn at your own pace. Ex: http://k12onlineconference.org/
  • Webinars – Another way to enhance your knowledge with out spending too much time, money, or travel. Ex: http://www.iste.org/webinars/

Thursday, July 3, 2008

K12 iTunes U

AppleInsider Article:

K-12 school material reaches iTunes U

Previously reserved just for college and university material, iTunes U is now opening its doors to content suitable for students between kindergarten and grade 12 as well as their parents and teachers.

Like the post-secondary material, the iTunes material for K-12 includes audio and video podcasts as well as text that gives students additional course material and adults more information about school programs.

The initial launch lineup includents content from school departments in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

See for yourself! Go to iTunes U on the iTunes Store.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How do YOU spell relief?

Let me start by telling you a little story that happened to me recently.

About five or six years ago, we started using a web content management system from Frontier called Manila. Manila has allowed us to provide web page services to teachers who otherwise would probably not have a web presence. It has been a great addition and a tool that has helped countless teachers, students and parents. But it has not been without its problems. Although we know about every issue a Manila server could throw at us, there is the occasional curve ball. The service grew and grew to the point we needed multiple servers and it required quite a bit more maintenance. We have about 2000 accounts with I don't even know how many pages, files and other resources on these servers.

Well, about two weeks ago, two of my colleagues walked down the hall and into the workshop I was presenting in to inform me they were unable to access the Manila server. Although rare, it did happen that the server web service would die and we would need to restart it. So I informed our workshop participants we need to take a little break while I assessed the situation.

As we walked down to our server room, the first words out of Marc's mouth were, "Just a flashing question mark on the server screen." That's when I knew we were in trouble. But that was only the beginning of my troubles. The drive was not responding to anything we tried. Booted from a recovery disk. Didn't work. Put the drive in another server. Didn't work. Took the drive out of the sled and put it in a desktop machine. Didn't work. Starting to sweat now. Need to get back to my workshop. I asked my colleagues to hunt for the backups so we could start rebuilding the drive. At least we would be able to get thing back on track by the end of the day.

That's when things really started to fall apart. After much searching, no backup was found. I had realized I was working with no off-site backup solution for the last 3 months. And the firewire backup drive that we were using also had hardware problems. I had NO data! My stomach turned. I started sweating. I felt the world crashing down around me. My head was in a fog. What could I do? There were many people who relied on this server to host their websites with very important information. Phone calls were coming in. "I can't get to my website. What's wrong?" "I'm doing a presentation that uses my site. When will it be back up?"

I was off to the boss to keep him abreast of the news. Crushed, I had to admit my failure to keep a good backup and ask him for permission to send the failed drive off to a data recovery service. That meant BIG BUCKS to fix my mistakes. Oh - I didn't feel real well. I had to face up to the fact that there were a lot of people who relied on this and it need to be fixed. ASAP!

The boss was great. He told me to get the drive off to the data recovery people and do whatever we needed to get the sites back. So to the UPS store I went. And to California the drive went. A week later, the data came back on another drive. All sites restored to full capacity. With the exception of a few uploaded supporting files, everything was back. A HUGE relief. (Contact DriveSavers.com if you happen to run in to the same problems. They were great and offered an educational discount.)

What did I learn from this lesson? Since this post, we have a redundant off-site backup for all of our Manila sites. I have 2 daily local backups with an archive copy going off-site to another city over our high-speed wide area network. With all of the nasty weather such as tornados, thunderstorms and flooding around here lately, I didn't feel we could be too safe.

Everything is back to normal and I feel much more relief since we have our automated backup plan in place. However I still had something bothering me. A nagging pang that just wouldn't quit. And it hit me. What about my personal computer? Of all the stuff I have and everything that is now digital, what would it be like to have to recreate all of my data? What about all the documents, presentations, movies, music and everything else that is there? What would I do? CRY!

Last night a brown box arrived at our doorstep. Opening it revealed a new "Time Capsule" from Apple. After about 5 minutes of unboxing and setup, it was up and running. It took about 2 hours to do an initial backup of my 67.7 gigs of data (and that wasn't the system or application files.) Now, every time I open my laptop at home, it will have an incremental backup done in the background.

So how do you spell relief? I spell it B.A.C.K.U.P. What are you waiting for? Back up your digital life NOW. Don't wait until something happens. You'll regret it. Automate it with something like Apple's Time Machine/Time Capsule product. It will be worth every penny you invest.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot Topics in Ed Tech

Here are the hot topics as posted by the NECC website for 2008. http://center.uoregon.edu/ISTE/NECC2008/program/ The conference starts next week and I look forward to sharing many of the sessions with you all. We have also started a wiki that you can subscribe to and watch updates that happening. Take a look: http://netaatnecc.wikispaces.com/

Hot Topics

  • Podcasting, Wikis, Blogs, and other Web 2.0 tools
  • Leadership
  • Digital Images and Video
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Global Collaborations
  • 21st-Century School Design
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • 1-to-1 Computing
  • Digital Content
  • Funding
  • Open Source
  • Online Professional Development
  • Virtual Schools
  • Technology Literacy and Assessment
  • Instructional and Administrative Productivity Tools / Resources
  • Serious Games and Simulations
As of today, I believe my focus will be Digital Storytelling. That may change and I am sure I'll go to sessions unrelated but this is the direction I would like to head. Onward...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Text / Tag Clouds

Create your own text/tag clouds. Here are the popular places to create them:
* I like these...

Cool examples:
John Adams Inaugural Address: http://chir.ag/tech/download/tagline/tagline/demo.html
George W. Bush State of the Union Address: http://chir.ag/phernalia/preztags/
High Tech: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/110473.asp

The text cloud from my blog

The Learning Web - '08

We are starting day two of our Learning Web Institute here in Kearney, Nebraska. We have 6 facilitators: Graci Gillming, Melissa Engel, Deanna Stall, Bob Hays, Jackie Ediger and myself. There are 4 teams representing 4 schools: Silverlake, Gibbon, Bertrand and Ogallala.

What is the learning web?
A year-long professional institute promoting technology integration projects which meet school improvement goals and support proven instructional strategies.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Service Units, the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) & the Nebraska Department of Education.

So really we work with how technology can be used to support Marzano's Instructional Strategies. A book came out this year supporting just this concept. You can find it on Amazon. Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works by Howard Pitler, Elizabeth R. Hubbell, Matt Kuhn, and Kim Malenoski.

Yesterday we had fun showing our participants serveral technologies that can be used to support the instructional strategies. MS Word, Inspiration, Rubistar, InspireData, Digital Storytelling, Effective Google Searches and Gizmos. Today we'll show much more technology and have the teams work on their plan for they year. It will definitely be exciting!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Googlin at ESU 10

Google Workshop at ESU 10 today. We have been having fun with Groups, Gmail, and a bunch of other tools. We will be using Maps and Earth today.

Okay... That's it for now!

Monday, May 19, 2008

If these walls could talk...

As I was sitting in Kearney Public School's graduation yesterday, a recent sermon I heard played through my mind. It was of our pastor visiting his alma mater. His story detailed driving by places he had hung out and places he had studied. But as he visited these places, he noticed they weren't the same. Over the years, these places had changed or were torn down. What he was really looking for was the stories of friendships, study partners, and all the other memories that went along with his college days. It wasn't about the buildings, but the stories share with people.

So, back to the graduation. One of the students who spoke talked about all the stories these halls could tell. The superintendent spoke of a song lyric containing the words "I'll remember you, will you remember me?" As I sat there, I couldn't help but think of the number of school buildings that are abandoned or torn down each year. Of all the students who walked through the halls of these old dilapidated buildings that are getting torn down, sold or repurposed. So many memories. And such emotional attachment.

Emotional attachment to the building? Or to the stories, friendships, hardships, teachers, and such, that made up their education.

I think if this concept were introduced properly, it could have a healing effect on the community who is facing such emotional attachment to the school they attended. Why not open up a forum for student, teachers, administration, alumni, and community members to share their stories. The forum could take several shapes of which I think the easiest would be a written blog with the option to include audio or video podcasts. Each person wishing to share their story could have the opportunity to do so in written form, audio form, or with video. It could even be a project for students to interview alumni and those still in the community to keep these memories for posterity.

If started soon enough, the school/community may have a contest so that when the new building opened, one memory from each category could be shared at the ribbon cutting.

"If these walls could talk..."
Memories of Beaverton Public Schools

Monday, April 28, 2008

NETA Reflections

Although I didn't get to attend many sessions at NETA, I did pick up on quite a bit of buzz and networking. Sounds like all the sessions went well!

There were some new technology implementations to help support the conference this year. I felt they were very well received and will help people see a use in their environments.
Future Technology - When I first accepted a position on the NETA board I was excited about the possibility to contribute some of my time and talent. At our last board retreat I suggested we might investigate having a supporting website for the actual conference itself. Something that would be a place that those who were unable to attend could participate and those that were there and unable to attend certain sessions could get the information they needed. We have steadily been outgrowing our facilities and even with a change in venue, we will be capped in the number of attendees we are able to support on site. There are a couple of models that we could use to have a truly integrated online supplement for the conference next year. One that I am thinking of is http://k12onlineconference.org/ I would love to entertain your ideas and other sites you have used to participate in something like this. Some of my initial ideas are below.
  • NETA Dashboard
  • News and Announcements
  • Keynote and featured speaker podcasts (Already Here!)
  • User Groups: Tech Coordinators, Apple, PC
  • Twitter, Flickr, and other Web 2.0ish sites to showcase for K12 use
  • General Session Information: Video/Audio/Agenda/Handouts/Links/Resources
  • Live chats
  • Workshop Resources
My session: I'm Feeling Lucky - Searching with Google - Link to Presentation
One of my revered colleagues, Graci Gillming, was unable to present this session and so asked me to fill in. It was a fun session with LOTS of people. The room host indicated there were 200+ people in a room more suitable for about 100. It thought it was an important session as we dive deeper in to what it means to be information literate. One of the keynoters, Bernajean Porter, indicated that information will soon double every 72 hours! It's these skills we need to hone to find relevant and accurate information to support our causes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Web 2.0 Digital Dashboards

We all know there is no one silver bullet when it comes to suggesting a technology to support a learning endeavor. We mix and match and use the latest/best tools, the tools our colleagues or students have access to, and the ones they are familiar with and will use. It sometimes gets to be quite a chore keeping track of all of different sites we created to support the specified endeavor. Tweets, Google Discussion Groups, Calendars, Social bookmarks, blogs, Project management, etc., etc.

There are a couple of tools that help keep these all together in one, easy to use location - digital dashboards for our online learning environment.

Personal Disclaimer - I have only used iGoogle on a regular basis so am not familiar with all the ins and outs of each service. If you have real life experience with any of these, please comment.

Netvibes Real World Example - Advocates for Digital Citizenship, Safety, and Success

? of the day: Would any of these fit into your classroom learning environment?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Photos and Video to Flickr with MMS

I recently found out via @TeachaKidd on twitter that Flickr is now allowing the posting of video. As I read her blog post, and viewed the video, I realized how simple it is to upload media from your phone to Flickr. To use the video feature, you do need a "Pro" account and that will run you $25/year. But, you can also upload pictures from your phone via MMS, or Multimedia Messaging System (basically sending pictures or video via text messaging.)

Well, as I investigated this some more, I realized that Flickr gives you a unique email address to send the pictures you would like to post to the site. So, you can either email a picture or use the email address and send the picture via MMS on your phone. I tried it. Very slick!

Wouldn't students be excited if you asked them to use their phone to take and upload pictures to your Flickr account?

Picture was taken this evening and uploaded to Flickr: Our backyard - SNOW IN APRIL! ughhhh!

Google Workshop

Today we are working with Central Nebraska educators. We created Google Groups, and worked with Google Reader. We also worked with creating our own blogs on Blogger. Afternoon consisted of working with Picasa and Sketchup.

I would also like to share a little diversion we like to do in the afternoon. We have each participant share one technology they like to use in the classroom. Here are the results:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mac OS X Preview - Cool FREE features

Macworld Article: Preview’s hidden powers

In the past, you had to purchase Adobe Acrobat Pro to do some of the features OS X Preview does now for free! A couple of the features you may find useful:
  • Annotate - Leave comments, markup using ovals and rectangles, and create links within the document or to Internet sites.
  • Delete or Rearrange pages - You can now remove or change the order of your PDF pages within Preview.
  • Merge PDFs - Take two or more PDFs and merge them into one document.

The article also lists other neat features of Preview that have to do with images. Check it out!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mad Libs

Growing up I used to love to do Mad Libs. Those creations where you come up with different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and such and create funny stories. There are several online versions of these and I wanted to share. Not only are they just plain fun, they also teach parts of speech, creativity, collaboration and sharing.


Try one out!
Embeded Mad Lib Online Widget

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fitness Companion - Apple

We might be on track to getting some technology in the schools to encourage fitness! We have a 50/50 mix of mac and pc schools in our districts and so having Apple forge this trail, we might see some action on the schools that use Apple.

Apple developing full-fledged digital lifestyle fitness companion

Brief overview:
  • This is from a patent filing by Apple
  • Includes four components:
    • iTunes-like application
    • Hardware-based heart rate and physiological sensors
    • Rewards tracker
    • Facilitate synchronous group activities
  • Interview process that looks at fitness level and goals, health history, and non-health questions.
  • Provides a profile with fitness regime based on interview
  • Would work with iPods and other hardware sensors

Monday, March 17, 2008

PBS - Resources for Health and Fitness

As I was researching different topics, I ran across this great resource for teachers incorporating health and fitness concepts into their curriculum. There are a ton of resources including videos, books, links, lesson plans and much, much more!

Check it out:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Algebra for Success?

Omaha World Herald article:
Nebraska teachers agree with U.S. math report
The national panel urged increased focus on algebra as a benchmark skill students should master and move beyond in high school. If students can do that, the panel said, it will boost their success in college and careers.

I have a problem with using algebra as a benchmark for success. So those who cannot or are not very good at algebra/math (ie:Left Brainers) are not going to be successful? I believe there must be a problem with society's perception of intelligence and/or success. We must stop the perception that "left-brain thinkers" are the only commodity for the future.

We must nurture all types of people and each of their individual intelligences. We need to, as educators, focus on educating the whole student (as in individual); not the part that we think will make them successful or as an assembly line learning model. It will be hard. And it will be expensive. (hmmm... could be a good use of billions of dollars we are dumping in to Iraq. Sorry, I'll save that rant for another day...)

Recent information I have consumed:
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future By Daniel H. Pink - Book
Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom By Thomas Armstrong - Book
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight - TED Talks


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

EduBlogs New Feature

I just received a message from edublogs that they have a new feature aimed at teachers that want to give their students blogs. It's the ability to create student blogs from the dashboard of your own blog right in edublogs.org. You can create up to 15 new accounts at at time (you can always add more later) and also make yourself an administrator of each of the blogs you create! This looks like it will be a great tool for teachers. Check it out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tax Time

TurboTax Online

While I am not excited about taxes, I am excited about a discovery I had this weekend. I did my taxes last year using TurboTax and was impressed enough to try it again this year. I received a CD in the mail to install the new 2007 version and upon opening the application, it fired up a web application to do everything online. It was very easy and intuitive. The interface was easy to manage and it was second to no other web 2.0 apps I have encountered. Kudos to the online version of TurboTax. Visit TurboTax Online

Quicken Online

Well, as I was working with this, I was also working closely with my desktop version of Quicken 2005 for the Mac. Since I have updated to 10.5 on my Mac, I have been looking for an alternative to this version. I contemplated version 2007 but just didn't go for it. A while back I was a part of the beta for an online version of Quicken but it just wasn't ANYTHING for me other than an online banking tool. Which I already had with Wells Fargo. Well, this weekend I stumbled across the online version again and, being so impressed with TurboTax Online, decided to give it a try.

So far I am impressed. There are still improvements it needs for me to fully move over to the all online version but this is a great start and I'm excited about the chance to move it completely online and not have any desktop software to worry about. We currently have the data files on a USB drive so my wife and I can share and this will give us much more flexibility on terms of knowing our "RealBalance™" and keeping each of us in the know.

Check it out and see what you think! There is a 30 day free trial for those wanting a preview. The forums are quite good too. Lots of community discussion.

Visit Quicken Online

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Google Earth Mashup - Batch Geocode

A colleague from Kearney Public schools shared this with me during a workshop. I thought it would be a really cool tool for administrators and others that want to map addresses to Google Earth. You just need to create a report in your SIS to get the records. Once you have the addresses, upload the list to BatchGeoCode and let it do it's magic. Heck, you could even export your personal address book and map it.


  • Create an Excel spreadsheet of student info with columns for Address, City, State, Zip, plus any other information you want to be available for each location - name, school, grade, etc. The 1st row must have headings.
  • One building at a time, (this gives you separate folders in Google Earth), highlight the Excel info and drop it into step 2 at the website below, then run through the other steps at the site: http://www.batchgeocode.com/
  • When the last step completes, click to Download to Google Earth file.
  • Open Google Earth, click File, Open, select your files. They will drop into the Temporary Places folder, so drag them to My Places to save them.
  • To make the location dot for each school a different color, right click the school folder in My Places and select properties.
  • To put your school boundaries on the map, click the Polygon icon on the top toolbar and start clicking along your boundary - the polygon will show up after you have 3 points plotted.

Thanks for sharing Gary!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wii Fit

I guess I am in the movement mode as I investigate more opportunities for physical movement with students. After years of being negative toward the game industry and it's affect on kids, we finally purchased a Wii for our household. It's an amazing piece of equipment - Caveat: IF it is used as it was intended. It's intended use was to have a gaming device that would promote activity and get families together to share time with each other. After much research and reading about the Wii, I am glad we purchased it. It does live up to it's standards and is a fun way to gather and spend time as a family. (Read an interview with the developers; the Wikipedia entry for the Wii Fit also has good information.)

The newest device Nintendo has been working on for the Wii is a balance board. This balance board in combination with the gaming software it comes with is called Wii Fit. I am really excited about it. So excited I pre-ordered it from the GameStop. (To arrive in stores U.S. May 19th.) The basic premise is that you have a device to track and chart your fitness based on your BMI. The balance board is a high tech scale that keeps track of your family's BMI records in these charts. So that is well and good as you probably already have a scale. Well, this gets the whole family involved and it is also a record for you to track over time.

Well, you may not be interested in this part of it but it also has several other "games" that come with the balance board. The games are broken into 4 categories: (the following information is from the Wii Fit website.)
  • Strength Training: Put your strength to the test with muscle-toning exercises like Single Leg Extension, Sideways Leg Lift, Arm and Leg Lift, Single-Arm Stand, Torso Twists, Rowing Squat, Single Leg Twist, Lunge, Push-Up and Side Plank, Jackknife, Plank and Tricep Extension. Challenges include Push-Up Challenge, Plank Challenge and Jackknife Challenge.
  • Aerobics: Get your heart pumping with fun, interactive Aerobic exercises like Hula Hoop®, Basic Step, Basic Run, Super Hula Hoop, Advanced Step, 2-P Run, Rhythm Boxing, Free Step and Free Run.
  • Yoga: Work on your balance and flexibility with Yoga poses and activities like Deep Breathing, Half-Moon, Dance, Cobra, Bridge, Spinal Twist, Shoulder Stand, Warrior, Tree, Sun Salutation, Standing Knee, Palm Tree, Chair, Triangle and Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Balance Games: Get into the action with fun, balanced-based games like Soccer Heading, Ski Slalom, Ski Jump, Table Tilt, Tightrope Walk, Balance Bubble, Penguin Slide, Snowboard Slalom and Lotus Focus.
I think this game could not only be beneficial for family use and fun but for school use too. The obvious use is Physical Education but I believe it could be used for a myriad of lesson enhancements. Take a look at the Wii Fit website and watch the video too. Tell me what you think!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Fablevision: SmartMoves

Do you have students who like to move? Everywhere? All the time?

Fablevision has come out with a new DVD called SmartMoves™.
This deceptively simple combination of movements and music can change the way we learn and remember. SmartMoves, a DVD, designed for students in grades 3-12, leads students through a series of increasingly complicated body movements that function as a kind of calisthenics for the brain. Forty Body Puzzles at varying levels of difficulty: Simple, Simple Too, Tricky, Challenging, and Formidable, are included in the SmartMoves DVD. A supplemental Teacher's Guide is also included.

I'm excited about this new product. I believe it will work wonders for those students who have trouble sitting at their desks all day long. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google Account FYI

Maybe some of you knew this but when I created my Google account many moons ago there was not the option of using your "real" email address. So I tried to create a name that would be worthy of my esu10 employment. However, it seems that now when anyone invites me to their docs and spreadsheets, etc., they like to use my esu10.org email address. Which, in the past, has always been a pain because you had to send them a message and say, "can you please send that to my gmail account instead?"

Well, fret no more my friends! You can associate other email addresses with your gmail/google account. How nice! And I suppose you are asking, "Well how might I do that Jason?" Well, I'll tell you!
  1. Log in to your current gmail/google account at www.google.com/accounts
  2. Next to Personal Information, click “Edit”
  3. Add your email address

Photo of actual page here:

That’s it! They will send you a verification email to that account and in about 2 minutes time, you can log in with either account and people can use either your gmail or other email to invite you to google stuff! How cool...

Good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Info Literacy Workshop

Here are the tools and links we worked on and talked about in our Information Literacy workshop today.

Links to resources from first presentation:

Links to Workshop Outline done in Google Notebook:

Dueling Tools
This is a sharing time for participants to share a tech tool with others. It is time well spent sharing resources others use in the classroom!

  • Grand Central by Google - One phone number for ALL your phones and voice mailboxes
  • Jott.com - Voice recognition: Call a message in to Jott and Jott will email or text your party.
  • Twitter.com - microblogging - find out what your network of friends are doing.
  • MLA Citation source - Cite several types of sources such as books, website, etc.
  • iGoogle - a dashboard to your online digital life!
  • Atomic Learning - Professional development resources for you to learn all types of software applications.
  • Net Trekker - Great subscription database for student research.
  • Apple Education - Resources on all types of integration ideas.
  • McGraw-Hill - Lessons that use technology.
  • Quia - the Quintessential Instructional Archive.
  • NoodleTools - Research tools for students and teachers.
  • TrackStar - Create collections of annotated websites for your students.
  • Jing Project - Capture your computer screen to share with others.

Others that we talked about during the day:

Monday, February 25, 2008

We need to work more like recipies!

I ran across this and I really like the analogy of our work being a recipe. We need lots of good ingredients but not only that, they need to mix together and cook just right for it to taste right in the end.

So I would argue that Google really does have a better product than the competition -- not because we have more or better ingredients, but because we have better recipes. And we are continuously improving those recipes precisely because we know the competition is only a click away. (Google Blog Article)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Apple Announcments

Recent Apple Announcements and their Impact on Educators.

60 Second Macworld Review

MacBook Air
On top of the list: the new MacBook Air. What does this new notebook computer mean for teachers? Well I think it will be a big hit for those wanting a small, light computer to take with them to do their daily productivity tasks. Teachers and administrators will easily be able to record grades, manage an online class, communicate with peers, write lesson plans, etc. with unmatched portability. I see the only caveat being it's lack of umph for lots of video or other media.

iPod Touch (iPhone) Software Update
The iPod Touch is a product I think will reshape how we think about putting computers in to the hands of students. This is really a minicomputer with the ability to surf the Internet, play podcasts and audio books, and play back other media that would supplement the curriculum. With the software update, users now have the ablility to do mail, maps, notes, weather and stocks. There is also a software development kit available so we'll start to see more third party apps come to the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

Time Capsule
This is a new device that works in conjunction with Leopard's Time Machine software. It's a hardware backup appliance that will back up your computer wirelessly (or wired). It also serves as an access point, remote storage, and will do network printing all at the 802.11n standard which is must faster and will cover a broader area. What does this mean for teachers? All I have to ask is: Do you have a current backup? Would you like your backups to work transparently? Would you be lost if your computer/hard drive died? The Time Capsule comes in 500G and 1T options.

iTunes Movie Rentals - Apple TV
The ability to rent movies online and have them downloaded to our computer or Apple TV box is a change to how we currently obtain our media. Although I don't see this immediately impacting educators, we are seeing a shift in how we obtain our media that is affecting us. More and more content is in digital form. We are using VHS, CD and even DVD less and less. More and more content is online, downloadable or streamed right to our machines. As the Apple TV matures, we will see more and more uses for obtaining our media with this device. We'll start to see more internet media content managers such as iTunes. Just as iTunes has changed how we buy music, it will change the video industry to using this model for delivery.

New Tool - PicLens

PicLens is a new tool I found that I think will really help educators. It is a tool that will save time and give visual learners a boost too. The software is a Firefox plugin that works with many image sites and creates a visual catalog of information.

PicLens instantly transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D experience for viewing images across the web. Our new interactive "3D Wall" lets you effortlessly drag, click, and zoom your way around a wall of pictures for an extraordinary viewing experience. The new search box lets you search the Web in full-screen using Google, Yahoo, SmugMug, Flickr, Photobucket, and DeviantArt. Just type a query and view all the results in the PicLens wall.

Doing a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr.? Search MLK in PicLens and you have yourself a great visual to introduce the topic and also a great tie in with Information Literacy skills.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tech Showdown

We have recently started using a fun, after lunch, workshop activity. It is a Tech Showdown and everyone participates. The basic idea is that everyone in the workshop has to give a "Show and Tell" of a technology innovation they like and use. It can be ANYTHING! Then, we pair off and each person has 3 minutes to present their technology innovation. It really does become a fun activity and it's so interesting to see what others are using on a day to day basis.

Here were the duals that happened at our Google Tools Part 1 workshop:

Jott.comVS.uStream.tv & RockYou.com
Need to send an email message to someone but you are not at a computer? You can "jott" or call in a message and jott will convert your voice to an email message. This also works for text messaging too!

uStream is an all encompassing video streaming site that allows you to set up a video streaming channel and share it with others. Would be great for schools who want to broadcast sporting events, etc., on the web. RockYou.com is a great place to display photo collections to embed in your website.

Angel PDF SharingVS.Angel Classroom Management
Share scholarship applications, etc. with your students in one central location that both the students and parents can get to. Angel opens up the possibility for communication about the applications also.

Angel is a great tool for "Learning Management". It's in a class with Moodle and Blackboard in terms of online classes and distance learning opportunities.

Ever had a student or faculty member that has a long term illness. There always seems to be rumors floating around. This is a great site to share what is happening and for others to sign a guestbook with their will wishes.

Clusty.com is a great meta-search engine that organizes information in several differnet ways that are easy to access. Worth a look if you are just used to using Google.

Digital EthnographyVS.Organizational Tools in Outlook
Thinking differently about technology and Internet use in the 21st Century. There are some great video's here that will stretch your thinking.

The use of categories really helps you organize your events and allows your to create custom views based on how you might work.