Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking for a Career? Join Us for the UNI Connect-A-Tech Webinar Series: Instructional Designers

This marks the beginning of a series of UNI Connect-A-Tech Webinars where we will be talking with Instructional Technology alumni who are working as professionals in their fields of choice.

You will have the opportunity to interact with them through a video conferencing system.  Read the information below to see how you can be involved through a video conference, on your phone, or come to our classroom at UNI (Schindler Education Center 405).

If you have questions:  Contact Nikki Lyons or use the comments below.

UNI Connect-A-Tech Webinar Series:
Instructional Designers
Wondering what it takes to be an Instructional Designer?  Here is your opportunity to meet with successful instructional designers and ask them the questions you want to know about the profession.
You can connect with UNI Instructional Technology alumni who work in fields that you plan to pursue after graduation. Through talking with the professionals, you can develop an understanding of the skills and perspectives necessary for pursuing your career. This webinar will feature:
  • Nelson Rokke, Instructional Designer with WebFilings, LLC, http://www.nelsonrokke.com/
  • Isandra Martinez-MarreroLead Instructional Designer, Division of Continuing Education, University of Iowa

When:  Thursday, April 17  from noon - 1:00 (Central Daylight Time)

Where:  You will be able to experience this online, on the phone or in a 
UNI classroom (SEC 403)

      Or, go to https://uni.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 647 853 488
  • Dial-in Phone:   Dial: +1 (415) 762-9988 or +1 (646) 568-7788
    Meeting ID: 647 853 488
     Participant ID: Shown after joining the meeting
International numbers available:  
  • UNI Classroom:  Schindler Education Center 403

Follow Us on Twitter:  #UNIConTech

Saturday, April 12, 2014

8 Biggest Challenges that Teachers Face Today

The folks over at Emerging Ed Tech recently did a survey of their readers to find out what they wanted to know about education and Instructional technology. They had 160 replies which is a good response.  

This table is a list of their results.  Some of the issues are standard issues, but it looks like they are feeling the challenges of integrating 21st Century Learning strategies in their classrooms.  Admittedly, this is not a cross-section of all teachers, because there is a specific group of teachers who read their website.  These teachers are forward looking.  They are the ones who are trying to improve their leaching/learning environments. They are the ones who go to conferences and are continually reading and watching and connecting. 

I look at the list and and all of them are concerns of mine.   How does this fit what challenges you in your teaching?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

ITEC Student Technology Fair Makes it in the News!

The success of the ITEC Student Tech Fair was shared in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier in an article entitled Fair Brings Students Together to Share Their Technology Projects.    
Click on the link above to view 4 wonderful photos of students at the fair and read interviews with students, teachers and those who made the fair possible.

TWITTER at the Fair:  View the multiple tweets for all three of the fairs by following the #itecfair hashtag

Sunday, April 06, 2014

ITEC Student Technology Fair Showed Exceptional Students Sharing Exceptional Projects!!!!

On Friday, we hosted the ITEC Student Technology Fair at the University of Northern Iowa. ITEC is the Iowa Technology and Education Connection organization for teachers who are interested in educational technology. Every year we sponsor 3 student technology fairs across the state: Ames, Sioux City and Cedar Falls.  These student technology fairs provide a venue for students from 3rd - 12th grade to share what they have been doing with technology.  It's not about the technology but it's about what students can achieve and explore with these tools.

This year's Cedar Falls fair was incredible. The quality of work was beyond anything that I have ever seen at our fairs. The students ranged from 8 to 18 years old. They displayed imagination and innovation that exceeded past years' fairs. Blue and Red ribbons are awarded, but Purple Ribbons are presented to exceptional projects that "stand out" from the rest. The Purple Ribbon award winners are invited to present their projects at our October ITEC conference in Des Moines. Purple Ribbons were awarded to 5 of the 46 projects displayed. This is a higher ratio than ever before.

The projects included:

  • A team of 13 year olds from the Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Middle School (in Waterloo) who had learned the Python programming language on their own and created an anti-abduction program. The intent was to create a program for a safety button that would send GPS coordinates to a parent if a child gets in trouble and presses the button. They were already working with law enforcement to develop this project.
  • Students from Metro Alternative High School in Cedar Rapids who were using CNC programming to run a mill to create molds for making candy bars advertising the school. They had just begun another project where they were created molded soap that said "Wash Away Stereotypes." 
  • Students from Grinnell High School who had "hard coded" a website entitled Permissions Impossible which worked as an online dictionary describing app permissions. 
  • A 16-year "George Lucas" from Maquoketa High School who uses the Adobe Creative Suite to create an amazing video, Technology in School. 
  • A 17-year old from Oelwein High School who had created 3D images to redesign a oil refinery for a company in Arizona. 
Beyond that, we had students who were creating solar systems, writing music, developing mathematical games, exploring MineCraft, connecting with President Obama, running robots, designing homes, animating book reports, and informing others about cancer.


It was an extraordinary fair with extraordinary projects by extraordinary people. 

I hope that you can attend our fair next year. It will be in early April. 

Do your students get an opportunity to participate in a Student Technology Fair such as this?


Sunday, March 02, 2014

R U Following Education Twitter Chats?

Twitter is an exciting means of communication but it is an ongoing flow of information through a twitter river.  You don't always catch all of the posts because you may not be online when  relevant posts flow by.  Wouldn't it be exciting if you could get together with a number of like-minded educators to discuss what is on your mind?

A Twitter Chat (or Tweet Chat) is actually a Twitter conversation that revolves around one unique hashtag.  Like-minded tweeters (professionals, fans, friends) tweet at a predetermined time using a specified hashtag. This can be an overwhelming event with #hashtagged postings hyperspeeding by. 
This event can be controlled if you use a Twitter Chat tool like TweetChat.   TweetChat is a tool that captures the relevant tweets and places them on the screen for you to read and reply. 

Even with these wonderful tools, I have lost track of the "Twitter Train of Thought." A friend of mine told me that the strategy for getting the most out of a Twitter Chat:

"To successfully experience a Twitterchat, you should identify a handful of participants that make sense to you and follow them during the session. Find some new people to follow on Twitter for the future. After the session, you can get more information from the event by returning to the transcript and mining more nuggets of information."

I just spent an hour with Iowa Educators at #iaedchat tonight.  They had 5 questions that were used to direct the discussion throughout the evening.  There were a great number of dedicated educators who were sharing their ideas and opinions on good teaching.  GREAT OPPORTUNITY.


Here are a number of Education Tweetchats listed by day and time (Eastern Standard Time.)  There are MANY more Tweetchats available in the resources at the end of this posting: 

9 pm ET            #iaedchat        Iowa Education Chat   (Bettendorf & Fairfield)

7 pm ET            #engchat         English Chat
7 pm ET            #sschat           Social Studies Chat
8 pm ET            #edtechchat    Educational Tech Chat
8 pm ET            #flipclass         Flipped Classroom Chat
9 pm ET            #kinderchat     Kindergarten Chat
9 pm ET            #tlap                Teach Like a Pirate Chat

12 pm ET          #edchat           Education Chat
7   pm ET          #edchat           Education Chat
9  pm ET           #spedchat       Special Education Chat

2nd & 4th week #digcit             Digital Citizenship Chat
@ 7 pm ET

Noon ET            #edtechex      Ed Tech Examples
8 pm ET             #tichat            Technology Integrators

7 pm ET             #gtchat           Gifted and Talented Chat
7 pm ET             #satchatOC    Saturday Ed Chat in Oceana (Around Australia)

7:30 am ET        #satchat                  Education and Leadership
2 pm ET             #globalclassroom    Global Classroom (2nd Sat of month) 


Bearden, S.  (9/23/13) 13 Create Twitter Chats Every Educator Should Check Out  
ChatSalad     Realtime Homepage for Twitter Chats
Cybrary Man    Education Chats on Twitter 
Smarty, A (May 8, 2012) 5 Steps to Hosting Successful Twitter Chats: Your Ultimate Guide. 
Weekly Twitter Chats   - This is a schedule of chats on a weekly basis.  HUGE list of topics.

Which TwitterChats do you like to follow?  Share your suggestions in the comments section.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cult of Pedagogy ROCKS Diigo Tutorial for Education

Wow!!!  I just found a trilogy of YouTube videos done by the Cult of Pedagogy that do an awesome job of giving educators an introduction to Diigo.    This is an endeavor by Jennifer Gonzalez who proclaims "Teacher Nerds, UNITE!!!"

Do you use Diigo?  I have for many years for personal use, but I don't think that I ever really appreciated what I could do with my students. Yes, I have taught about various tagging strategies et al, but I didn't really "get it." Having watched Jennifer's videos on Diigo, I am further along the journey now.  

I know that Diigo has their own tutorials, but they seem to be more interested in selling the product by overwhelming you with all of the bells and whistles rather than providing us with useable instructions.

Tutorial Trilogy
This 7-minute video provides an introduction to using Diigo to research.  She takes you through the sign-on process. She does a good job of showing us how to bookmark a site. It's quick and easy.  She even shows how you can include a highlight and sticky note in your newly discovered website. I like that her demonstrations are well planned and not too entailed. I like how she shows you how to add links to a list and how to organize them once they are there. The only piece that could have been improved would have been to spend a little time showing newbees how to add the Diigo apps (Diigolet, etc) to your browser. 

Part 2 of this trilogy is an important video. It shows how to use Diigo Groups to engage in online collaboration.  This is quite valuable in your classes. She shows how students can join Diigo Groups that are relevant to what they are studying (i.e., Hamlet). As students research, they can Diigo-mark a site and then share it with their group. (i.e, student finds an analysis if Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy, Diigo-marks it and then adds it to the Hamlet group so that the other students have access.) She even explains how this can be the basis of an on-going, online discussion between the students on specific topics concerning Hamlet.


 The final episode of this trilogy is unique because it explains how teachers can use the special classroom organization tools that are available through a free Educator Diigo upgrade. She tells you how to upgrade your account to an educator status and then how to use those tools.  She demonstrates how educators can use the Teacher Console create student accounts and organize them in groups. This system has a strong privacy system that will protect student's identities. I haven't seen this demonstrated before and found this quite informative.


How are you using Diigo?  Are you using it to support your students doing collaborative research?  If you don't think that you are doing it "justice",  review these videos and  forge ahead.

Please share how you use Diigo or how you envision it making a difference in your learning environment.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Moving Away from "Teaching" Toward Empowering Students

Vicki Davis is a Cool Cat Teacher.  Actually she is THE Cool Cat Teacher.  You may have heard of her blog, CoolCatTeacher.com  It is the most visited education blog followed on the planet. 

Fortunately I had the opportunity to meet Vicki a few years ago and become good friends over the year. I am in absolute awe of her as a teacher, blogger, educator, motivator and organizer (do you know that she has over 100 people come to her house for Thanksgiving and she LOVES it!!!)

One of Vicki's latest projects is her Every Classroom Matters Podcast through the BAM!RadioNetwork. Vicki uses this podcast to interview a variety of educators from around the world about their areas of passion. These 10-minute interviews range from 21st Century Learning to Financial Literacy to Empowering Students.  Fascinating stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Mrs. Davis.  She asked me some interesting questions about my teaching philosophies and practices. She wanted to know about how I interact with students and what happens in my classes. In listening to the interview, it turns out that she didn't have to ask me too many questions at all because I just kept talking . . .

Anyway, here is the link to the interview.  I would suggest that you click on the iTunes link to listen to it.

Listen to the podcast by clicking below: 

It is #6 in the iTunes list. They named it "Steps away from Teaching . . . "

Moving Away from "Teaching" 
Toward Empowering Students
Audio Interview with Dr. Z