Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Episode 20: Teaching in a Virtual World

Episode 20: Teaching in a Virtual World

Episode 20 of "Teach with Tech" features an interview with Sarah Robbins, an instructor from Ball State University. Also known as Intelligirl, she was recently featured in an Associated Press article in the Indiana Daily Student headlined "Teacher Uses Online Second Life for Classes: Students take classes, interact via cyberspace." Now students interacting via cyberspace is no big news...here at IU, we've been doing that since the early nineties, and I'm sure the same is true at Ball State. But what Sarah is doing is a bit different from just having a course website, using listservs or discussion forums, or using learning management systems like Oncourse or Blackboard. She is using something called a multi-user virtual environment, specifically a program called Second Life, which allows students to meet online in a 3D world with visual representations of themselves called avatars, which interact in a constantly evolving, user-created universe of objects and places. Her teaching and research have been featured in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times and USA Today. In the episode, she shares her experience teaching in this unique environment and provides suggestions for other instructors, both secondary and college level, who are considering trying out Second Life.

Related Links:
The episode is now online and can be found at iTunes and the Instructional Consulting website.

As always, comments welcomed!


Monday, March 12, 2007

More Tech Fun!

Hello again!

Well, Episode 20 is in process, as they say. Watch this space. Today's posting is a miscellany of things I couldn't wait to share with you.

Web-based access to Popular Instant Messenger Programs

Ever needed access to a chat program but the machine you're working on doesn't have it, or you're on a school machine that doesn't allow access to chat? Well, Meebo is the way around this little pickle that you've gotten yourself into. The website provides access to AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber, Google, ICQ (wow, I'd forgotten about that one!) accounts. This may be one URL you don't share with your students, though--it would allow them access to chat, too. They also have a program, MeeboMe!, which allows you to add chat to your site. I'm considering it. But would it ever be used? Might be an option for a K-12 project, though...

Keeping Up to Date with Tech

I was chatting with one of my Education W505: Using the Internet in the K-12 Classroom online students the other day--and I do mean chatting, online chat is a big part of the course--and she asked me about the best way to keep up with the latest technology, once she was out of the course. Well, of course, the first thing I mentioned was reading this blog and listening to this podcast. But I also suggested she read the Wired News website, check out David Pogue's column/podcast, and listen to the This Week in Tech "netcast". Then, if she was a Mac person, which she wasn't, add on MacObserver's weekly roundup podcast. She's a teacher, like most of you, I suspect, so she doesn't have time for much more than that. What do you think of my selections? What should be added/subtracted?

Sony's New Box

If you're like me and lived through the 80s, you probably have a ton of VHS tapes that are unlabeled and unknown. Who knows what treasures these babies hold? I recently found an old tape that had "elect-me" ads from Ronald Wilson Reagan. And these tapes are degrading every day. But who has the time to capture them and make DVDs? Well, Sony's new box seems to take all the hassle out of your hands. And fairly inexpensively, too. Intriguing.

Club Penguin: MySpace for Third Graders?
Have you heard about this? Perhaps your kids have been hanging over their teenage siblings' shoulders, watching them play around in the Web 2.o world of social networking, internet gaming, etc (as if the teens would stand for this!). Club Penguin seems to be a way for younger kids to step carefully into the pool. The site makes claims of being kid-friendly and kid-safe, but still teach your kids about Internet safety before using it. It has no advertising, which is nice, though, because of that, it's not free.

Well, that's it for now. It is too nice outside to stay in front of this computer!


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Episode 19 (Special Education and Universal Design for Learning) is Online!

Well, just in time for the end of the month or the beginning of the month, depending on how you look at it, here's the new episode!

Special Education and Universal Design for Learning. I've always had tremendous respect for those who work in special education. My mother was a speech therapist in the schools and I remember back in the 70s visiting the special education classrooms with her. Even as young as I was, it was obvious to me how challenging the work must be at times, and how dedicated the teachers were. So I'm glad to have the opportunity to focus on this topic with Episode 19's interview with Daniel McNulty (and I plan to return to it). I had heard a bit about Universal Design for Learning from my colleague Seak-Zoon Roh--here's an article (in PDF) from him about UDL and designing accessible websites--but this discussion really clarified things for me--and hopefully will do so for listeners who are new to the model.
The basic idea, if I've got it right, is to make instructional designs that work for all learners, and thus the kids with special needs are covered. If you want to continue to explore the concept, please visit the PATINS Project site. Discussions about the topic can be found at the
Closing the Gap Forum. The AT TechNET @ VCU: Assistive Technology Blog has quite a few interesting resources in this area for you to check out.

Technical Notes. The new version of Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack Pro certainly made the job easier this time. It now automatically records both sides of the conversation. I guess I should have been closer to the Snowball microphone when I spoke, because my audio was a little quieter than Daniel's side, but a tweak of the balance knob in Garageband fixed that. If you downloaded the episode early on Wednesday, you may want to download it again, since I didn't realize the imbalance at first. Or you can just adjust the balance on your computer, CD player, iPod, etc. I'm going to try out their new Fission program, to master an audio cd. Hopefully, it will serve as a cheaper alternative to Bias Peak LE, and have more features than the free Audacity.

Free Music for IU students! Even though it's not Mac or iPod-compatible, I do feel like I should mention that IU students, including my online students, can download free music from Ruckus! It is far from perfect, and I suspect an hour with it will send most people running back to iTunes, but if you have the time, what the hey... (Okay, I can't resist some quick complaints: not Mac/iPod compatible, loads of ads, not all albums are complete, requires its own player, etc.)

Enjoy Episode 19! Thanks again to Richard Owens for the fine music he provided!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Episode 19 Preview!

Episode 19 Guest Announced!

Could it be that time again? I have arranged for another interesting interview for the next episode of "Teach with Tech." This time, the discussion will focus on how students with special needs are using today's technology.

Daniel McNulty will be joining me for Episode 19. Daniel has led the Universal Design for Learning Pilot Site effort as a special education teacher at Frontier Elementary for the past three years and now works with PATINS (Promoting Achievement through Technology and INstruction for all Students) as the NE Indiana Regional Site Coordinator. He maintains a current teaching license in K-12 Moderate-Severe Disabilities Special Education. Daniel received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University in special education and will soon finish his Masters Degree work at Purdue University, also in special education with an emphasis on leadership development, instructional technology and applied behavior analysis. This past April, Daniel was the recipient of the Distinguished Education Alumni Young Educator Award from Purdue University. With the PATINS-Project, Daniel houses and maintains a lending library of nearly 800 pieces of software and equipment available to teachers and therapists. He also hosts training workshops and seminars, provides technical support and supports the Universal Design for Learning Pilot schools in the NE region of Indiana. I'm really looking forward to our discussion!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

News Update!

The Ides of February

Tomorrow is February 15th, which is the deadline for presentation proposals for the Association of Educational Communication and Technology's conference in Anaheim this October. I've presented at this conference for years, and am looking forward to it. Have turned in two proposals. One is on "Learning through Podcasting: Student-Created Podcasts." The other, with my colleague Mark Millard, is "Web 2.0 for Educators: We (and Our Students) are the Web." Hopefully, both will be accepted! Hopefully, you can attend AECT (right next door to Disneyland--Bring the Fam!) and hear what we have to say.

February 15th is also the opening day for presentations to the International Student Media Festival, also in Anaheim in October. As I've mentioned previously, I will be helping out again with the festival. I will be teaching a new class for the ISMF, about podcasting. We will also have a new category, for student-created podcasts. So if your students have or will be creating their own podcasts (or other media type), consider submitting it!

The next episode of "Teach with Tech" is in the planning stages, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the recording session. It will be about technology and special education, something that I haven't dealt with yet in the series. I look forward to finding out more about the state of the art in the area.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Episode 18: Connect with Your Students Using Tech!

Episode 18 is Now Online!

The official title is now, "Connect with Your Students Using Technology!" The word Connect is in there partly because Macromedia Breeze is now called Adobe Connect. And we do discuss the use of Connect in the episode, though the larger part of the discussion relates to how Roberto Garcia has integrated technology into his teaching over the years. I think "Teach with Tech" listeners will gain from his commonsense approach and attitude. He talks about the lifecycle of technology innovations. He provides guidance for both face-to-face instructors and distance educators.

I'm looking forward to his presentation this Friday, which will focus much more intensely on Breeze/Connect. If you're an IU School of Ed faculty member or associate instructor, please register for this free presentation.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Podcasting Presentation Download, Secure Email Service, KidCasting!

ICE Podcasting Presentation
As promised, here is my Powerpoint file for the "Integrating Podcasting into Your Teaching" presentation from the Indiana Computer Educators' conference. Feel free to download and view it. Again, if you'd like a similar presentation (or something completely different) at your school, just contact me at cessex(at symbol)indiana.edu.

Secure Email for Your Students
I've talked with my online students, K-12 teachers from all over the US, in my Education W505 course, about Internet communication options, and one problem that they consistently comment upon is the difficulty of designing email-based projects, primarily based on the security concerns. Obviously, establishing student email accounts could result in all sorts of problems. But they could also result in some wonderful learning opportunities. How about connecting your students with another class, say in the Middle East? How about sharing email with astronauts, or experts in other areas? Or doing peer review of assignments via email?

Well, at ICE, I talked with some representatives of Gaggle, a service which promises secure email, blogs, chat rooms and student lockers. They have a pornography scanner, which according to their brochure, can distinguish between a photograph of Paris Hilton in a bikini and two eight-year-old boys on the beach. So, the immediate question in your mind is, how much? Well, they offer a free, advertising-supported service for poor schools, and a $3-4 per student service for others.

A caveat--other than talking with the friendly people at the booth, I don't have any experience with this service. But I would think that it would be worth checking out for many teachers.

KidCast--Podcasting in the Classroom
The people at FTC Publishing provided me with a free copy of this book to give away at my ICE presentation, and the reaction was very enthusiastic. I've read through the book, and it is very informative.

The new episode is still being edited, but should be online Tuesday!