Monday, August 20, 2007


I've decided to try an new endeavor and have started a new education blog. It is called Transparent Learning and I hope you all enjoy it.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I'm presentining at NCAECT this year - one of my favorite conferences (and I'm not just saying that because they accepted me :) I like it becuase real teachers actually come and use it for proffessional development. Its interesting to see what is on the front line of schools.

I will be presenting on Podcasting - one of my favorite subjects. I've presented on this before, but I'm hoping to make it a bit more practical in terms of showing how a teacher could actually pull this off.

I wish I could be presenting more, but NCAECT is the week before our NCATE Accreditation at the College and I'm lucky I could do this.

Oh and if you are going please be sure to come to the Keynote Speaker. I know they aren't always the most exciting thing, but this year one of my Education Technology Idols is speaking, Wil Richardson. He really has a handle on what technology we should be using in our schools, but also tempers it with the reality of schools. I hope to blog his keynote.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Being a Teacher & some GIS info

There are times when I greatly miss teaching. I mean, I teach a good deal still - just in a less traditional way than I used to. There are some days I yearn for a class, a group of students of my own. To watch them grow and evolve as people and get to be apart of the ride. Being in a university setting and not a teacher of classes, I rarely if ever get any interaction with K-12 students. I work a good deal with their teachers, but its different to deal with "actual" students (and yes I do believe we are all students, but that is another discussion).

So this week I am working with a local Middle School and am presenting on GIS & GPS. I have discussed before how much teaching is like "performing" for me - and I mean that in the best way. There is something about that energy, that synergy of interaction between you and your students that is priceless. Yesterday, I made that connection and it just felt awesome. Things were going great - they were getting it and it was exciting. They were learning and making connections that far exceeded my expectations. It was powerful. I wish I could experience more days like that...

Anyways - here are some of the GIS & GPS websites I mentioned:

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Final thoughts on NECC from a first timer.

I feel so inspired and so humbled by my experience here at NECC. I have so many ideas and want to do so many things, my head is swimming. In fact after I left the conference today I completely shut down and took a nap :) I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to attend this year and can't wait to come again.

My favorite highlights include:
Seeing Will Richardson's presentation
Seeing Nicholas Negroponte
Meeting other Bloggers at the meet-up (although I have to confess I was so nervous I talked to much and felt completely awkward)
Reading the other blogs - not only about the sessions I attended, but those I wasn't able to. I have a new appreciation for technorati tags
Being introduced to Ecto by David Warlick's blog - without it there would be no way I could have done what I did these past three days
Being introduced to new educational blogs that I can't wait to read more of in the future

... and on the fun side...
Seeing a panda for the first time
Margaritas in Old Town
Seeing the sailboat "Stars & Stripes"
Touring Wine Country

Come to think of it - I'm not sure I'll be able to leave San Diego....

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Video Games as Constructionist Learning Environments

My background is tied to video game culture more than one would think. In one of my previous lives I worked at a video game testing company (teaching people to play video games is a bit weird - yet quite anecdotal). Now at The Friday Institute, one of the research strands is gaming in education, and Len Annetta's Hi-Fives project is using gaming in science, and more specifically is now having teachers create games using the half-life engine - so I'm really excited about this session.

Then I get even more surprised to find out that the presenter was at the Blogger Meetup last night. His blog is - small world huh :)

Ok wow - this is the 3rd reference to Logo in two days - I think I see a resurgence. I think I need to boot my Apple IIc back up :)

Some interesting book titles:
"Don't bother me Mom..I'm Learning"
"What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy"
"Why Video Games are Good For Your Soul"
"Learning by Doing"

Websites for pre-service teachers: I work with faculty a pre-service teachers a good deal, and yes we need to do more than throw them into the lions den of student teaching as Mark says, but we are making progress at doing more than that and this does seem like an interesting rile playing tool.

He also mentions Kurt Squire a good bit who was using Civ III to help teach History. I was fortunate enough to meet Sid Meier at Firaxsis in Maryland and see some children play this game - the potential for this tool is incredible.

"Playing games does not appeal to everyone, and no one game appeals to all gamers" It is important to understand that this is not a one size fits all proposition. It isn't going to fix all your problems, but it will add a lot to your instruction.


Creating games with students:

Video games have been with us since the creation of the personal computer, many have recognized their potential, but I think it is interesting to see how they have evolved and am curious as to what they will be next.

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iLearn, Therefore iPod

I have just recently purchased a classroom set of video iPods for checkout and have been looking for different ways to entice the faculty to use them in their sessions. Although I have covered podcasting - now that we have the video iPods - I'd like to take it a step further. This presentation has strong possibilities for good ideas.

The project focused on using iPod's in class and shared iPods in touring the Holocaust museum. Every student created a podcast for each exhibit and a class playlist was created for all the eigth graders.

iPod Flash Card software - Zelek Software (Mac & PC) for working on vocabulary words

The facilitators loaded the iPods with images, sound clips and some movies prior to giving them to the students. This gave them a background of information to draw from when reading the book - Diary of Anne Frank. This is such a great way to introduce a new technology project such as the iPod. It allows not only the students but the teacher to see the possibilities, but yet it is not as overwhelming as a blank slate. I always run into problems when creating examples for a class - they tend to create something EXACTLY the way the example is when they have the fredom to do much more. Since this was just background (existing info they could pull up anywhere) when they created their product it didn't fit into that mold.

The students assessed the qualities of a good podcast, by looking (or I guess technically listening) to ones themselves as well as used Kirk McElhearn's list as a guide.

8 rules of Effective Podcasting: Kirk McElhearn
1) Have something to say
2) Be prepared
3) Be short and simple
4) Be clear
5) Be yourself
6) Be unique
7) Provide detailed notes
8) Don't use music filler I understand why this is in here - students have a tendancy to overuse music in all of their presentations, but I still believe music has a place from a transition point.

Some outcomes of using/creating podcasts:
-students from other classes benefited - but they were jealous
-Museum tour guides were impressed with questions
-They understood the material so well - they didn't need the tour - they were engaged and embeded in the process How many times have we seen that it is the journey that is important - NOT the destination
-Powerful journal entries - students were more detailed and conscious of their entries
-They were very proud of what they were doing

Copyright - a lot of conversations about fair use - know citation info before project. This is such an ongoing issue in our schools - and its hard to know where to start - but yet it has to.....
Monitoring student work - small screen
Charging multiple iPods
Syncing iPods - synced all to one machine This is one of the huge downfalls (albiet I understand that this is part of the "I am not stealing music on my iPod" theme. When using iPods in an educational group context with check-in check-out it is almost a herendous to manage as a Palm :)
Peripherals - not available for video ipods I have

Their website

All in all it gave me some great ideas

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything with Will Richardson

I've been reading Will's site - for awhile and am pretty excited to meet him and I am impressed right away with his use of PowerPoint - he actually doesn't have a newspaper worth of text on the slide. This is gonna be good.....

Then a great way to illustrate how blogs connect is and then some great mashups (of which I am addicted to on YouTube myself) including the voice of the infamous mac switch commercial. I'm surprised how much mashups are being displayed and discussed and am interested in the educational value of them...

Cool Web links:
1 Billion on the web and 2 billion by 2015
1 Trillion Links
70,000 new blogs each day

Some great themes are ownership, audience and the transforming of technology. Ownership of our tools, of our products, of what we create is imperative to self efficacy. This idea has been pretty pervasive today. Negroponte noted that he hasn't had a laptop broken as frequently due to this ownership. Audience, having students understand that they have a global audience, not just a teacher - drives them to preform to this audience. It makes every assignment a science fair project! Making them all publishers and owners.

Cool terms to use in the future:
"Rip, Mix, & Learn"
"Teacher as DJ"

43 things - creating a community of learners (for those of us that don't have the following Will has)

Social Networking - harnessing the power of MySpace (and I've just blogged about MySpace to much lately) But he brings up some excellent points about who and how are we teaching our students to use and navigate the web responsibly. Will is also not afraid to stick his neck out and shock the group about what we have become numb and deem acceptable.

I wish I could write more but I find myself being too captivated....I'll have to process more on this one - Thanks Will :)

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Being Digital with Negroponte

I was first introduced to Nicholas Negroponte by my father when I was in college. His book "Being Digital" was one of the first books my Dad gave me as a "peer" who was interested in computer technology (in my "I want to be an engineer days"). It was a very inspiring book that inspired me about the possibilities. I had just designed my first web page and was excited about where we were going.

Hearing Negroponte speak today was just as inspiring. How awesome is it that someone has a vision and then does it - and it just happens to be a technology one. His idea of the $100 laptop is quite a one. He also is not afraid of sticking his neck out about. Not many people (in his position - bloggers have no issue) about speaking out against Adobe or Microsoft or Intel, even when he knows those vendors are in the room.

Yet, his laptops are geared for a global audience. I think there were a good deal of teachers in the room that wanted to know - "What about us?" I have two ideas on that subject 1) We actually have the money in the US to make some changes and a 1-to-1 is possible, we just have to convince the right people we should do it. 2) Once this $100 laptop has been created and has been "proven" as a useful tool. Other laptops will follow in line after that mountain has been climbed and it looks like Negroponte is the man to do it.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Read/Write Web - Tim Wilson

The Read Write Wed - or Web 2.0 is gaining a lot of momentum. It is such a robust subject - I'm excited to see how the topic can be covered in 1 hour :) There are a few topics I am interested in the most and will discuss here:

Wikis - "The chaos that you would think would happen - levels off to pretty high quality" Wikipedia scares so many people, but it can be almost an "aggregator" of information in and off itself. It brings all the information together and is a great jumping off point. Tim makes an excellent case for Wikipedia not being the be end and end all. I'd like to add that any information on the internet should be verified by another source. ANYONE can put up a webpage and claim facts - wikipedia has the advantage that "the World" gets to edit it.

Wiki School projects: Find unfinished pages and assign your students to write the article. Have them contribute to the knowledge of the world. I can't believe I haven't thought of this one before!

"Every student blogger is a publisher for a worldwide audience" - Audience makes the difference...

Safety - keep student work on your network & servers. You need to be able to "pull the plug"
Monitor what your students are doing
Teach about appropriate online behavior
Young people WILL encounter weirdos, online or not - Educate them about safety, not shielding them from it. I gave a talk about blogs, etc. the other day and MySpace (as it enviably does cam up). We need to harness the power of myspace and use it for *good*. Why not take that energy, that passion and funnel it into blogs in an environment that is safe and productive (and seriously - have you looked at some MySpace pages lately - they make my head hurt, has no one talked about good web design lately :)

Professional Development:
Not "just in case" - "just in time" Teach teachers that are interested about a topic. That is harder than it sounds. I would add to that a more contructivist viewpoint where not only do we teach those that are interested about a topic (and possibly that is where web classes come in, but I digress) but also help them create what we will talk about, being flexible enough to have a course meet their needs. I was just recently apart of a workshop where we found out what topics the teachers in a school would be covering in the upcoming weeks and had training on specific technologies to help with those topics. The teachers were able to use what they learned in less than a week!

Administrator have to step up to the plate - leading by example. A principal can make or brake a school in many ways - but leading by example is one of the most important ones. I actually come at it from a different prospective as well - since I mostly deal with educators of pre-service teachers, I am working with them to be examples of technology use so that when are next crop of teachers come out they have the tools they need.

Now the big question - How do you assess students?
Curric standards for information literacy
Rubrics across units and classrooms
De-emphasize individual assessments
Embrace self-assessment (This has to be implemented well in order for it to make a difference - I have seen and had to be apart of reflections that have gone horribly wrong)

In the end will Web 2.0 be the future of the Internet? More and more the web, as Tim put it, is becoming an Operating System in itself. I for see a day when the norm is being online instead of the other way around.

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Podcasting & Podcatching Session

I have been looking forward to this session since I found out that Lisa & I were going to NECC. This is not only a subject close to my heart but I have been following most of these speakers since I became interested.

Larry Anderson the "technobutler" who brings people together: (all apple distinguished educators)
Ted Lai - LA, Calif - Co-author iLife '06
David Warlick (near and dear to our Raleigh hearts)
Lucy Gray - MS Science Teacher - Friday 5 podcast
Tim Wilson - The Savvy Technologist

They have put together a page for the session: and we will be co-authoring notes on a wiki page

Why do we use an iPod - or any other mp3 player - "timeshifting" being able to take it with us - sometimes called "narrowcasting" (I love how tech gurus always come up with new terms :)

One of my favorite things about these sessions is seeing how other people present the same material that I do - see what they say

"A podcast is a blog that is an audio file" - the term podcast "scares" so many people, it seems so foreign to people. Others fear it is just a "Mac thing" - I almost wish we could change the term to really indicate it as a just an audio file.

Also important are the parental controls in iTunes that allow teachers and parents alike to control what CAN and cannot be downloaded. Downloading is such a big issue in our schools, but if we can show control and that we are on top of it. Pre-viewing content is important - it is on the Internet after all.

Another cool term - "Soundseeing tours"

Some cool podcasts:
Radio WillowWeb - teacher Tony Vincent
Tech Savvy Girlz (I love this one)
Ask an astronomer - video podcast from NASA

Some recording equipment: and the wiki has some really great gear pages
iPod & iTalk
iRiver (mic built in)
MicroTrack 24/96

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21st -Century Skills & High School Reform

My first session of NECC is on the 21st Century Skills partnership. At the Friday Institute we are very involved with the partnership. We had the opportunity to meet a few of the key players a few weeks ago. I am also on a team that will be doing some workshops in the Eastern part of NC in conjunction with the partnership.

21st Cent Skills are highly focused on the partnership between business and education.

I like their critical need for skills:
1) Need our students to be effective 21st cent citizens
2) The world is flat (I feel like this is the #1 buzzword and a must for all presentations lately)
3) US is falling behind - we are 7th in math & problem solving (Japan is first)
4) The magnitude of our competition is changing - looking at skilled workers
5) The nature of work is changing - we are changing jobs and the jobs that we are in change. I once heard that it didn't matter what you received a degree in, what counted was that you had survived college and that is what made the difference (although that could be my Dad just trying to get me to graduate )

How many jobs will you have between 18 & 38? 10.2 - I certainly feel that. I have had four jobs in 7 years, and that is considered normal.

What is the framework? Why does the model change?
They've added the following to core subjects (from NCLB):
Life Skills (Personal Skills)
21st Century Content
Learning & Thinking Skills
ICT Literacy (information and communications ) NOT Tech competency - using it effectively, making it an actual TOOL!

What do schools needs to do?
-Professional Development - specifically for 21st Cent Skills
-Identifying mentors
-Use a full range of assessments
-Use senior year projects and student portfolios

The focus of 21st Cent Skills is very focused on thinking, problem solving and communicating. How we assess and evaluate that is going to be the biggest challenge.

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NECC 2006 - San Diego

I have a goal of blogging during the NECC Conference - along with a few other bloggers at the conference. I will be using several tags that will hopefully help. (necc, necc06, necc2006, and education)

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Educast at NC State

So I have finally put up a podcast on our NC State Wolfcast site! I am so excited! I am really proud of it - and in making a podcast myself - I truly understand the power of this tool.

So please check out Educast at:

Click on the XML "button" and copy that path into your podcast reader, such as iTunes!

Please let me know what you think of our first podcast!