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!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Welcome, Indiana Computer Educators!

This past Friday, I attended the Indiana Computer Educators' conference in downtown Indy. It was my first time at the conference and I was impressed. Things seemed very well organized. I hadn't been to the Convention Center since the Star Wars Celebrations II and III, and so it was strange walking down the halls and not seeing Jedi Knights and StormTroopers anywhere. I still kept expecting to turn a corner and bump into Darth Vader, but it never happened.

There was a nice, large exhibitor's area, with representatives from many companies and lots of goodies to pick up. I won't need a new pen for the rest of the year, for sure. My presentation on podcasting was during the first session of the day, and in one of the Wabash Rooms, which is the biggest, I believe. Had a good turnout, maybe 80% of the seats were full. A lively, interested audience of K-12 teachers. Most had listened to podcasts, maybe a third had created them, but only a couple had used them in their teaching. I provided guidance in all three of these areas. It was a shame we only had 45 minutes, because I would have been happy to keep going on and giving more examples of cool uses of podcasting in the K-12 arena.

As promised, the Powerpoint from the session will be posted here on the blog. But not tonight! I'm still in Indy and using a friend's computer now. But on Monday, when I get back to the office, I'll post it.

If you're in Indiana, and you think your school might want a similar presentation, let me know and maybe we can work something out.

During the presentation, I mentioned the International Student Media Festival. I encourage you to have your students submit work! This year will be the first for the new podcasting category. Check it out at http://www.ismf.net. There isn't any podcast-specific info there yet, though. Doesn't mean you can't start a project though.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Episode 18: On Its Way!

Episode 18: Connect with Students Using Breeze (and More!)

Can you believe it? It's time to start looking forward to another episode of "Teach with Tech." Episode 18 will feature an interview with Roberto Garcia, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of International Business and Co-Director, Supply Chain & Global Management Academy, at Indiana University's prestigious and forward-thinking Kelley School of Business. They have one of the most popular and well-regarded online MBA programs in the nation.

He's presented on the following topics, among many others, at national conferences:
  • “Using technology to enhance large section teaching: A web page and video clip approach.”
  • “Integrating the web in an international business course.”
  • "Incorporating the Web and distance learning to teach International Business."
  • "Building great course web pages and using the web in a college curriculum."

He's been teaching with technology for quite awhile now, and I'm very much looking forward to hearing his insights. If you're lucky enough to be an IU professor or Associate Instructor, you are very much invited to hear him discuss his use of Macromedia Breeze (now Adobe Connect) in person at our workshop in the School of Education on Friday, February 2nd. Here's the registration link. Still a few seats left!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Episode 17 Notes! and Office 2008 and ICE Conference

Episode 17 is online!

During the episode, as promised, Mark Millard and myself discussed the recent MacWorld conference, focusing on iPhone and AppleTV, which were announced at the keynote.
How could these new technologies be used by classroom teachers and higher ed faculty?

(As a side note, these Steve Jobs keynotes are often emotional experiences for those watching. Check out "Why Apple Makes Me Cry" at:

We also discussed various software packages that I picked up in the two exhibition halls:
  • Toon Boom, Mac/Windows/Linux animation and storyboard software
  • Toast 8 Titanium, Mac disc-burning software
  • Slick Transitions & Effects, Mac special effect plugins for iMovie
  • Civilization IV, a Mac/Windows history/politics simulation game
  • Sims 2, a Mac/Windows people simulation game
  • SubEthaEdit, a Mac text editor with synchronous collaboration features
  • Profcast, a Mac program that allows you to convert your Powerpoint and Keynote presentations into screencasts/videocasts.
Sadly, we ran out of time to talk about a couple of products. First was Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. Big news about it seems to be that it is compatible with the new version recently released for Windows, which has a new document format. Like the iLife programs, the new version of Word focuses on the use of templates to create documents. There is a new interface item called the "Elements Gallery" which has templates available for various parts of the page, like headers and footers. It also has a new kind of view, called "Publishing Layout" which helps with desktop publishing projects (sounds kind of like Apple's Pages). Here are some links with news about Office 2008:

Indiana Computer Educators Conference

I'll be presenting on the topic of Integrating Podcasts into the K-12 Curriculum at the Indiana Computer Educators conference in Indy. I'd love to see some "Teach with Tech" listeners there. Find out more at: http://www.iceindiana.org/conference.aspx

Keep on listening!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Episode 17: MacWorld Report, and Internet-based Activities

Well, I'm back from the whirlwind adventure that is MacWorld Expo, the annual conference for Mac users! I'll be talking about it in the next episode of the podcast, episode 17, which I hope to record in the very very very near future. Again, our guest will be Mark Millard, from Indiana University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Centers. A lot to cover in the half-hour or so, including an educator's-eye view of the new iPhone and AppleTV. How could they be used in your teaching? I have some ideas. We'll also be discussing interesting new software I discovered at the conference.

Too often, students use the web only for the passive gathering of information. Research on the web is fine, but let's not forget the other capabilities of the Net--to facilitate communication and cooperation. The site below lists a wide range of "collaborative projects, virtual field trips, educational games, and other interactive activities," such as virtually following a sled dog team across Arctic Russia, watching peregrine falcons grow up in New York City, adopting a local pond and sharing info with other schools, etc.

Keep listening,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Greetings from MacWorld!

Hello from sunny San Francisco, California! Checked in at the MacWorld registration desk this morning and got the cool red MacWorld totebag, ready to fill up with goodies from the exhibition hall. Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning is the keynote, in which Steve Jobs will be announcing Apple's new products, hardware and software, for the year. Rumors are: an iPhone (though not with that name), more info on Leopard, new versions of iLife and iWork (including spreadsheets)...but there undoubtedly will more "insanely great" stuff announced that we don't even have any clue about. I'll be giving a wrap-up and commentary in the next "Teach with Tech" podcast episode. Which should be online next week!