Monday, December 31, 2007

New Software Update on Apple's iPhone

The iPhone is in the news again. Gear Live has announced an update to the iPhone firmware to version 1.1.3. Some of this upgrade seemed pretty hokey, like watching the icons vibrate when they are ready to be moved. Other parts of this are totally awesome like the addition of the Hybrid capabilities to Google Maps. It will also allow you to turn Safari bookmarks into buttons on your screen so you can immediately jump to that page on the Web. A true example of using the Web as your platform.

If you watch the video to the end, they are going to be giving away a free iPhone with the Gear Live logo emblazoned on the back of it.

Imagine if every student had an iPhone-like handheld computing device to use in the classroom. This wouldn't be considered cheating or providing unfair advantage, it would just be using the resources to enrich the learning environment to expand the experience beyond listening to a teacher lecture.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!! This promises to be a year full of surprises and exciting events.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Got My XO computer from OLPC

I GOT MY XO!!!!!

Well, actually, I got it about a week before Christmas, but with all the preparations I didn't get a chance to blog about it. Also, I showed incredible restraint by telling myself that I would not seriously play with it until I got my grades submitted. What self control!!!!

You can see that it's a little smaller than the average laptop computer. Actually it is a lot smaller than my MacBook. The XO screen (and usable space) measures 9" x 6". My MacBook is 13" x 9". That's OK. It's designed for children.
I was amazed by the sophistication of this computer.
  • It has a 7.5" screen (diagonal).
  • It sports a microphone and camera.
  • No moving parts but it has a 1 GB flash drive. (This memory can be augmented with an SD card slot in the lower right corner of the screen below the power switch - don't know the capacity.)
  • Ready with 802.11 b/g wireless.
  • Comes with 19 programs including a browser, word processor, recorder (audio, still and video), draw, musicmaker, TurtleArt (Logo), eToys (multimedia authoring tool - looks comprehensive), Pippy (programming language), calculator, news reader, and a variety of other programs that I don't understand yet. Here is a site that explains them all
  • Runs on Linux so I can download programs for free. I have already downloaded SimCity and a variety of games. Only problem is that I have problems reading some of them on the 7.5" screen.
  • When I go to the Community-mode, I can see the various wi-fi access points in my immediate area. I can't wait until I find someone else with an XO so we can peer-to-peer file share. I haven't figured out how to go peer-to-peer with my MacBook.
  • My MacBook's screen runs on 40 watts of power. The XO screen takes 2 watts.
  • IT'S AMAZING!!!!!
Problems or Things I Haven't Figured Out Yet:
  • The keyboard is too small for me to touch type. You can see this in the photo. I have to remember that this computer is designed for kids. They have smaller hands. The kids of Asian countries have MUCH smaller hands than I do.
  • Don't know how to access my flash drive when I insert it into one of the 3 USB ports. Nor do I know how to access the SD cards when I put them in the slot.
  • I still haven't figured out how to use Sugar (the Linux-based interface designed especially for kids to use on this computer.)
  • The documentation is all supposed to be online at but it isn't in-depth enough for me. You know that we Digital Immigrants (gotta love that Dave) sometimes need a little help to get over our lack of intuitive insight. =-)
I truly believe that the XO is the beginning of a new revolution in computing. It isn't that this computer is the greatest computer on the planet, but it is a fully-functional wireless multimedia laptop that has broken the $200 price barrier. Granted that this is not a machine for MMORPG online gaming. It does not sport the multimedia recording equipment needed for making YouTube videos, but it has shown that a laptop doesn't have to be a $2,000 investment.

I thank Dr. Negroponte for developing a dream and allowing us to begin on the journey to affordable, accessible computing in education so that computers aren't devices that we visit every Friday to learn about keyboarding. They can become integral learning machines that will provide the palettes and canvases needed to release creativity in children ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Dr. Z

Other XO First Impression Reviews
Kathy Schrock - XO Laptop from OLPC Arrives!
Scott McLeod - XOs for my XO

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Makes a Good PowerPoint?

I have spent years teaching students how to make good PowerPoint presentation. It seems to be working because their PPTs are getting better each year.

The interesting thing is that the most effective way to teach success with PowerPoint is not to show them examples of good ones. It is to show them how bad PowerPoints can be.

I just found a YouTube video of what appears to be a comedy routine done by Don McMillan. I don't use the word "appears" because it isn't funny. I use it because it looks and sounds like it is filmed in a comedy club. Don does a good job of showing REALLY BAD PPTs.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First OLPC computers deployed in Uruguay

It was exciting to see today that the first XO computers have been deployed at Escuela No. 24 in Villa Cardal, Uruguay. I was inspired to see Ivan Krstić's posting about his trip below the equator to deliver the first batch of the production models.

This delivery is actually an upgrade replacement for the beta units that were previously used down there. Just the beginning of the 100,000 that Uruguay has ordered. What I thought was interesting about Ivan's posting was an aside that he includes about some usage data that he got from the beta computers. Apparently, he had included some
data seems to measure usage. He found that, in 6 months, "kids created on average 1200 files or about 30-50MB on each machine, much of it writing and photographs from the built-in camera." I don't know if each computer was limited to an individual child. I would image that's the case since it is One Laptop Per Child. That's about 7 files a day. Sounds like they weren't neglected.

Of course, the next question is what kind of files were created. That is for another posting when the data is available.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Optimal Portfolio Organization

Standards Referenced. Artifact-Centered. Personal Bragbook.

In my last posting, Digital Portfolios: Why Do We Do them?, I discussed digital portfolios and how their primary function needs to be to act as personal testimonials about your strengths rather than a standards check sheet to satisfy "the powers that be."

These are all interesting ideas, but how will your administrator or governing body feel about this? We may want to redefine our portfolios, but what do we do about demonstrating that we have satisfied the standards that we have been asked to address?

Enter the Artifact Matrix:

This tool is designed to bring organization to potential chaos. Notice how the artifacts are listed in the second column followed by 11 columns to the right. Each of these columns correlates with a standard. Notice that it isn't like a standard-based notebook portfolio where the standards are "front and center." The matrix allows you to place the artifacts in the center of it all and then align them with the standards.

Based upon the strategy that I suggested for selecting your artifacts to demonstrate your strengths, you would probably see a collection of artifacts that address a specific area of interest. The rest of the artifacts would be ones that the educator used to fill-in the standards that weren't addressed by primary collection. Unfortunately, the example above doesn't fit this suggestion, but it wasn't created when I was advocating this new approach.

If you want to see more about this, you will want to visit our website at More specifically, you will want to read about this in the artifact matrix-specific pages on the DPME site.

So we have a strategy for selecting artifacts and organizing them in your portfolio, how should we present the artifact? It's more than just linking to the actual artifact, you need to provide a reflection about the artifact.

Stay tuned to this blog and we will discuss it in my next posting.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digital Portfolios: Why Do We Do Them?

Digital Portfolios are an interest of mine. A few years ago, Andy Krumm and I developed some templates to assist educators in creating digital portfolios that are aligned with their professional standards. These are called the Digital Portfolios Made Easy templates.
Since then, we have done workshops and lectures across the country about creating digital portfolios and how these templates can assist professionals in displaying their work.

The most interesting part of doing workshops on creating portfolios is discussing the motivation for creating a portfolio. The primary reason for creating a portfolio is "because my employer wants me to create a portfolio." This is usually quickly followed with "they want to see if I fulfill all of the standards." This last comment is usually filled with confusion and frustration with the idea that the portfolio needs to address multiple standards and criteria. In the case of the Iowa Teaching Standards, the educators need to address 8 standards which organize 42 criteria. This is daunting.

Typically, portfolio workshops that teach alignment with standards will provide the learners with a list of 42 criteria and a list of artifact samples. The educators are then asked to make a list of personal artifacts that will align with each of the criteria. I must admit that I have done this in the past and it is COMPLETELY BACKWARDS!!!

The emphasis of portfolio MUST be the artifacts, NOT the standards. We have been promoting this for 4 years but it suddenly dawned on me that we were not promoting that in our workshops. It MUST be about the portfolio creator NOT the evaluators.

We have coined two terms that explain different format (and mindsets) for creating portfolios,
these terms are "Standards Indexed" and "Standards Referenced."

Standards Indexed: This is the typical format where a notebook (electronic or otherwise) is created with a tab for each standard. Printed copies of each artifact that addresses that standard are then inserted behind that tab and a person's success in addressing a specific standard is defined by how thick that part of the notebook happens to be.

Standards Referenced: This format places the artifact (and its creator) at the center of the arena. The professional defines her/his area of specialty and then selects the artifacts that best exemplify that area of expertise. Each artifact is then analyzed as to which standards/criteria are addressed. Additional artifacts are then added to the portfolio to fulfill addressing the other standards/criteria.

As you can see, the Standards Referenced format for the portfolio is more professional-centered than the Standards Indexed.

I taught a digital portfolio workshop for Cedar Falls Community Schools here in Iowa. I introduced the portfolio as a way to "brag about yourself." Realize what you do well and identify what you can use to show how well you do it. This approach gives a whole different perspective to creating portfolios.

I was amazed by the completely different attitude that the professionals in my class had about portfolios when completed the first class. I gave them a worksheet to begin thinking about their "Proud Points" and gave them the task to begin their search for personal artifacts. At the end of the class they were excited instead of intimidated about the prospect of creating a portfolio.

How should this portfolio be organized to fulfill the administration's expectations as well as emphasizing a professional's strengths? I will tell you in the next posting. ;-)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2020 Vision

2020 Vision is a 15-minute video developed by Karl Fisch as a staff development video to motivate Arapahoe high school teachers to engage in future visioning. It is set as that graduate speech at a high school graduation for students in 2020. He selected this year because these graduates would have begun kindergarten in 2007.

This video is a story of Google taking over the world. Even has them going into solar cells and developing electric G-Cars. The most important part is his envisioning that Google provides a 9th grade through Masters educational system. If the present schools aren't going to use the educational potential of technology, Google will. He even said that all of these schools are provided free because Google will make enough money on the Google Ads running on their school portals that it covers the cost.

I am not saying that everything that Karl Fisch says is true, but it is interesting. It does provide a reasonable view of what the next 13 years might involve (I especially liked how he referred to actions that President Obama will take =-). It can work as the springboard for discussion which is exactly why he developed it.

Watch it and think . . . and talk . . . and think . . . and do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everything is R/evolution

I have been fascinated by Dr. Mike Wesch's video reports on his exploration of mediated culture. He has created and posted 3 videos that have documented his travels into this topic.

Web 2.0 . . . The Machine is Us/ing Us

A Vision of Students Today

Information R/evolution
(Just posted in October)

While these are the primary videos that people discuss when they discuss Dr. Wesch's work, there are a few others that I have found on YouTube.

Introducing Our YouTube Ethnography Project - Just an intro to the students who are doing the ethnography project. Not too insightful.

WorldSim Preview for Spring 2007 - This is a VERY moving video about using simulations in the classroom to learn about worldwide interaction. It interlaces videos from the world news with video of what appears to be a culmination of a simulation in one of Dr. Wesch's classes. Being a professor who is always trying to find new ways to get students thinking in my classes, I really liked this video.

I greatly admire Dr. Wesch and the involved atmosphere that he is creating for his students and himself. Perhaps the best part is how this is being documented. You have to wonder about the process that he used to achieve these final products.

You can learn more about this and his mediated cultures work at Kansas State University at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yes, I bought one

Yes, I bought an XO OLPC computer.  Why did I do it?  Besides the fact that it is a piece of history, I was able to provide a child in a developing nation with a computer.  I am excited to see what this computer can actually do.  It has built-in wireless, camera, microphone, and a bunch of other great bells and whistles. 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OLPC Computer: Give One, Get One

Buy the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer for $400, and you get two. One of them will be shipped to your house and another will be shipped to a child in a developing nation.

What is the OLPC? I first wrote about this revolutionary computer in my third posting in this blog. It is a product of Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Lab. It is more than a cheap computer. The vision for the OLPC is described as a program "To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves."

Dr. David Thornburg spoke on this when he was asked to participate in a Newsweek panel at the National Press Club. He blogged about this experience on the Thornburg Center blog. It is there where he stats that "the OLPC not just a cheap laptop; it is the implementation of an educational philosophy born of years of research by Seymour Papert and his colleagues."

The novel user interface, Sugar, is a child-centered interface that deals with verbs instead of nouns. I must admit that I only had about 5 minutes to play with an OLPC at the ITEC conference in October. I found a YoutTube tour of the OLPC and Sugar. I am excited to experience this new beginning in educational technology.

I will be placing an order for 2 OLPCs on November 12. The 2 for $400 deal is available from November 12 - 26. Get yours today.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Collaboration in Second Life

I was just in Second Life trying to help a friend of mine, Ferdi Serim, in a presentation that he was giving at a conference. We were going to meet in the ISTE Innovation Center so that I could share my ideas on emerging technologies.

I waited and waited until someone IM-ed me and told me that they were waiting in our house across the way. I ran over there and bumped into a handful of folks who were waiting for Ferdi (Hodjazz). Turned out that he was having computer problems. Computer kept crashing so he wasn't able to join us.

We talked and talked about ET (Emerging Technology). It was fun to share. Two of the folks were from the US Post Office and they were looking into providing training through SL. Another couple of the individuals provide online teaching in the medical field. And there I was, a mere professor amongst all of these people in the "Real World."

I was interested in their experiences with collaborative learning in RL or SL. Unfortunately, I started asking questions and overwhelmed them until someone told me to slow down. Well . . . that's what happens when you are excited. It was good interchange.

The greatest part of this was that we decided that we wanted to get together again to continue the discussion. We decided to meet at the ISTE Social Gathering on Thursday night at 6:00 PST.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 4 in New Orleans

Another day for meeting with students. This is Xavier's GradStar recruiting fair. We met with students from Xavier, SUNO, and Dillard.

There were 80 schools represented. It started out slowly, but soon a steady stream of students came to our table (we even walked the floor to direct them to our table.)

We met a number of ambitious students who were planning for their futures. I think that we had over 50 students complete our information sheets so that we can contact them in the future about coming to UNI.

I had to leave early so that I could catch a 5:30 flight. Had to get back to Cedar Falls so that I could MC the C&I Family Fest events at UNI.

I hope that we are able to get some of these students to UNI so that they can add to our bustling community.

Day 3 in New Orleans

Time in New Orleans is passing quickly. Funny how time flies when . . .

Today we had an opportunity to visit Xavier University. Cliff Highnam has had a connection with their communication program for a few years and had an opportunity to speak with about 15 of their communication student group about the communication program at UNI. This was a group of young women who seemed quite interesting in the field and there were a number of good questions about the field and the UNI program. I was also impressed by the self initiative that the club members exhibited. They had a raffle that they were running to raise money for their club's activities. It's good to see such motivation.

While talking with our host, Nancy Martino, I asked about someone who I might be able to contact in the Xavier education program. She suggested that I speak with the chair of the Education division, Renee Akbar. I made a 1:30 appointment and we had an opportunity to talk about our programs. She said that while they don't have a graduate program or special classes in technology, they are trying to emphasize using technology to support learning in their methodology classes. Good to hear.

I shared our educational programs with her and provided her with a selection of our informational materials. I also told her that I had a big bag of these for the Xavier Grad Fair tomorrow and that I would like to leave a number of these materials before I left. I suggested that it would be a benefit to all if we would make some connections between their school and UNI. Hopefully this would involve our students connecting with one another as part of the curriculum. Great opportunity for them to experience the online opportunities that they can have in their own classrooms in the future. I was specifically thinking about connecting them with my students in Classroom Computer Applications next semester but I am more than happy to share the wealth. :-)

While we were meeting with Xavier students today, Celeste was meeting with high school students at a local college preparatory high school. She said that it went quite well.

After the work was done, Celeste and I went on a 2-hour tour of New Orleans. I have been here before but taking a formal tour of the city is the best way to get an overview of our surroundings. It began by going down to the riverfront and sharing the history of New Orleans.

The bus fell silent as we drove into the 7th ward and the tour guide told us that the acres of weeds and rubble that surrounded us used to be a bustling community of homes. We asked about the rebuilding that was supposed to be happening there and the guide replied with "we don't know." We drove through the many neighborhoods of New Orleans. We could see the waterlines on houses that were 15 feet high. This is the reminder that this could easily happen again.

The greatest shock was seeing the levees that were installed. From a distance they didn't look too thick nor very high. National Geographic doubts how substantial they are as wel. I just hope that the controlling powers don't skimp on the necessary improvements so that these people can work to rebuild and know that everything possible is being done to protect them from such a tragedy again.

The most interesting part of the tour was bumping into a couple (and their son) who live in La Canada, CA. La Canada is where I was raised and finding someone from there visiting New Orleans is a surprise. To top it off, she spoke of a Dick Schmidt in La Canada and it may turn out that this guy was the patrol leader for my Cobra patrol when I was in scouts.

We took our own tour of New Orleans at night as Cliff, Celeste, Doug and our new arrival, Helen took to the streets. We began by having a wonderful dinner in an Indian Restaurant (ever notice how everything in New Orleans leads to eating?) We then toured the city and found a great blues place.

Tomorrow we go to GradStar at Xavier University. Cliff and I scouted out the location today and it is a large ballroom. They say that 80 schools will be represented and there will be 300-500 students. We look forward to having another successful opportunity to meet and greet students.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day 2 - Recruiting in New Orleans

Today is the day we do what we came to do.

This is the day that we go to SUNO (Southern University of New Orleans) to talk with potential grad students. Most of these students are juniors or seniors who are looking for a graduate school to attend to develop their knowledge base and refine their skills. I must admit that I didn’t know what to expect. It was at SUNO so I was envisioning a large gymnasium or a large ballroom like we have in the UNI Student Union. I didn’t think of the devastation that SUNO has experienced. I didn’t realize that SUNO is now operating out of double-wide mobile classrooms. I guess I just didn’t think.

We were directed to building 42. This double-wide mobile classroom held about 15 tables, each with representatives from a different institution. The students began arriving about 9. They were excited about the opportunities that might lie ahead. Some of the students knew exactly what they wanted. There were a number of students who wanted to pursue their degrees in biology. I met a couple of students who had spent their summer studying fish populations and found a great decrease from another study 2 years before. It was inspiring to see the motivation that they exuded.

I spoke with a bunch of students who told me that they were majoring in history or biology or ?? As we talked, it turned out that they really wanted to teach K-12 or train in a corporate setting. MMM good!!! That’s where I came in. I am down here representing the College of Education. Before leaving UNI, I met with every department and asked them to provide/create info sheets about their programs. This meant that I had the materials prepared and ready to give the students as they talked. As I talked with the students, I naturally asked them about their interest in technology. Most of them used technology but few of them GEEKED technology. I mentioned our Instructional Technology/Performance and Training Technologies programs and I would say that there were about 10 who sounded interested.

One of the things that I found out about their program is that their teaching credential is offered as a 5th year of education. Much like the teaching program that I completed in California, the students complete a BA in 4 years and then take another year of schooling to earn their teaching credential. The unfortunate part is that SUNO doesn’t have their teaching credential program back yet.

One of the most important things that we did was have students fill out the grad school info sheets. This is where they listed contact, background and interest information. As a group, we collected over 50 of these sheets. Not bad for 3 hours of work. These sheets will be organized by the Grad College and then distributed accordingly.

We were treated to a wonderful lunch of catfish, gumbo, rice puddin’ and the like. It was a good opportunity to talk with faculty and students. As I sat there, I realized what a prime opportunity this could be to have my students connect with their students over the next few years. These students and faculty could have quit after being hit with Katrina, but they didn’t. They have set their goals and they are there to make them realities. Whether it has to do with getting an education or providing a rich environment for others to learn, these individuals are making it happen.

There are other things that I can share about what we saw going and coming to SUNO, but that is for another posting. This is a city that is rebirthing and it is exciting to see people with their eyes on the future.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Day 1 in New Orleans

Well, we made it. In search of graduate students, I am spending a couple of days at some graduate school recruitment fairs. We will be visiting SUNO (State University of New Orleans) tomorrow and will then participate in another fair with Xavier University on Friday. We are looking for an exciting time.

Until then, we decided to explore the wonders of New Orleans. We started a Mulate's. I had fried alligator and some yummy gumbo. The cajun music band was fun and there were lots of dancers. I would have tried, but they all looked so competent that I didn't think that I could fake it.

We followed this wonderful dinner with walking over to Cafe du Monde for some binets and coffee. What an evening.

The best part was sharing it with Doug, Celeste and Cliff.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Flickr Feed 4 Xtra Credit SL ISTE Fotos

What at title THAT is. Well I just thought that I would post the Flickr badge that I created that will show the Second Life pictures that my students have posted to Flickr. As you may remember, ISTE had a contest where visitors of the ISTE island in second life could find all 25 flags on the ISTE Island and take photos of their avatars standing next to them.

Look to the right. This is a slideshow that I created using Widgetbox ( I created the widget to produce a slideshow of photos on Flickr that were tagged with eit159. Once I created it, I exported it to Blogger and just added it as an additional widget to my blog. Amazing!!

I also used the "Flickr Badge Maker" at Flickr to create the "badge" that I have below that shows 10 Flickr photos. These are also asked for using the EIT159 tags found in the WHOLE Flickr tag system.

More Flickr photos tagged with eit159

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Twitter Covers the World

I am receiving Tweets (that's a Twitter message) from friends as they travel the world. They are all traveling from America to other parts of the world. The map above shows the homes of Twitter users. Looks like Europe is inundated and the US isn't too far behind. I found this map in an interesting article recommended by Lois Lindell, Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities.

It's interesting to think about how we can communicate at the touch of a button. I received a tweet from Howard Reingold asking if anyone knew of "Any ideas on using Twitter in classroom besides backchannel." He said that students could twitter insights, comments and questions during class discussions. That's an interesting idea.

What other kinds of educational applications are there? Is this just a solution looking for a problem, or is it a new utility that will allow us to do things that will expand our learning experiences?

What do you think? Does Twitter have any educational value?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


OK, you know that I spent Sunday through Tuesday in Des Moines at the state technology fair for the Iowa Technology and Education Connection organization. It was an opportunity for over 500 educators to compare notes and learn new things.

We, the Instructional Technology division in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Northern Iowa, tried something new this year. We had a booth where we promoted our Instructional Technology Masters Program. This is a 2-year distance education cohort that is delivered through the ICN (a state-owned video conferencing system.)

We handed out stickers (see above). Steve Wozniak (Apple Computer inventor) and David Pogue sported our stickers as you can see on the Rob Blog.
It was exciting to see scores of attendees wearing our stickers. This allowed us the opportunity to talk with lots of people hopefully they will join us in our program that begins in Summer 2008.

The greatest part was seeing all of our graduates who were running the conference and who had leadership technology roles in the state.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Technology Coordinating for NewBees

This is a session designed for betining tech coordinators - hence the name. =-)

Each plan is part of the CSIP.

Technology Planning:
CIPA - Children's Internet Protection Act (Governs Images).

Tech Plans: Every school applying for State telecommunications discounts, must have a tech plan approved and on file with STate of Iowa.
Must cover at least 3 years and include goals, strategies and budgt informaiton for 3 years.

Usually includes AUP

Most efficient way to do an AUP is to use an "Opt out" policy instead of an "Opt in." This means that the students only have to sign a sheet if they DON'T want their kids to use the Internet.

Usually files as part of the District's CSIP in a 4 question format.

Question asked what to do if the Register photographs kids and then posts the kid's names on the web. If it includes the child's name, it circumvents all of the work that the school is doing to guard the kids' privacy.

What if an employee posts a photo from school on a private web site.

Legal Issues
-- Implement an acceptable use policy for all students
-- Implement an AUP for all employees. Employees can be the greatest offenders.
-- Maintain accurate reords: Software licenses, invoices, purchase orders, & inventory.

Key Relationships
Success as a tech coordinator depends on relationships with:
--District Staff - Admin, School Board, Secretaris, and Custodians.
--Community - Phone company and Co-Ops
--Area Education Agency (AEA)

Managing Chaos
Create a district policy on how to request tech requests:
---Phone calls
---Use "Techies" to handle the easy stuff
---Manage emails
---Communicate with staff

Data Management
--Increased role in Data managemnet and SIS
Student Testing Data
--MAP Testing
State Reports
--Project EASIER
--Certified Enrollment

David Pogue @ ITEC

I am sitting in the Keynote of David Pogue at ITEC. Should be great. (Notice that he is wearing the UNI I.T. sticker?)

I will try to blog this by publishing the posting periodically throughout the presentation.

He started the presentation by saying "Ich Bin Iowaner". Funny.

Just started talking about Skype. 250 million have downloaded Skype. Just noted that Skype would be a good addition to cel

Palm Centro is the new treo. Has the capabilities of a Treo and only costs $99.

Just did some magic. Made the Centro disappear. Showed some magic and mentioned that he wrote Magic for Dummies (check pg 121).

Talking about the T-mobile Hot Spot @ Home. Says that can use it at home and walk away from home to a point where the coverage is handed off to a T-mobile carrier when you leave your home wireless range.


Just introduced a phone system that will ring multiple phones at the same time. It is called Grand Central gives you a special phone number. You can record multiple messages for specific people - different one for boss or wife or ??

Low price of Free. It is at They have been purchased by Google so who knows . . .

Google Cellular
Text message Google 46645 and enter the business - pharmacy and zip code. Will send you back the number.
Driving Directions "miami Fl to 60609"
Currency conversions "25 usd in euros"
Quotes "amzn"

800-goog411 Can call it too the same way

Voice to Text
You can bypass the long phone messages by using special * Verizon

Simulscribe - Transcribes phone messages and sends them to you on your phone or through email. They also attach the recording to your email. Great idea.

Callwave - won't do the whole message, just the important part. Showed a video of saving a message on a phone. Then shared it

Popularity Dialer - Identify the exact time of day you want your phone to ring. Ples you get a choice of the voice you want to hear.

Skype phone - can use Skype VOIP for 100% free.
Wifi Camera - Nicon Coolpix S50C Direct to email or Flickr

Just took a photo using the camera and sent it to Flickr and email wirelessly. Went to Flickr and the photo was there.

Slingbox - $250 box to put it on your tv at home. Allows you to tune into your TV from your computer. Can watch your DVD, TV and DVD from the road. This sounds cool for the perpetual couch potato. Only problem is that it controls the TV at home so it will get in the way of your wife viewing CSI at home.
Also has a client for the Treo.

Says that Steve Jobs says that DVDs are dead.

BTW, Steve Wozniak is walking around ITEC with a UNI sticker on his black shirt.

He just finished tell us about how NetFlicks is going to start charging us by the hour. Will be able to Movie surf.

Completed with improvising some songs using a piano keyboard connected to his computer.

Pogue was having problems getting the keyboard to play. Said there wasn't an on switch. Finally, someone went up and showed him how to turn it on.

Just sang a song about Bill Gates called "I write the Code that Runs the World Today."

Sang one for Steve Jobs called "Don't Cry for Me Cupertino" from Evita. It is GREAT!!!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Web 2.0 Gadgets and Gizmos

I am in the middle of a presentation and I am showing how to post.

Steve Wozniak at ITEC

I have just listened to Steve Wozniak talk about his life of fiddling and creating with technology all of his life. It was really quite interesting to hear that he was a geek from an early age.

Someone just asked him for an outrageous dream. He responded that he would like to create a globe that would display Google Earth. We could just point to places that on the earth and then interact with it that way.

Another guy just asked how it felt to make such a huge difference in the world. I don't think that he really understood the point of the question because he just recounted the things that he did. Said that he invented a computer because he wanted to play games and do his HP work at home.

This is over and we need to get ready to present our panel discussion on Confronting the Challenges of Web 2.0. It will be in this room of 400 people. Wonder how many will show up.

Gliffy Diagram on the UNI IT Program

This is a basic map of the UNI Instructional Technology Masters Program. I created it using Gliffy which is online collaborative mapping software.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Using Google Docs for Collaboration

Just checking to see if the Google Spreadsheet works as well as they say it

Here is a gradebook that I published.

Check it out. See what you can change.


Can you dance like this?

I know that this is supposed to be a reflective blog that considers the meaning of life and how we will educate students in the future, but I couldn't pass up this video.

I wish I could dance like this bird. (click on the photo)


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Challenges of Web 2.0 in the Schools

The Web 2.0 movement is HUGE. It is bring interactive communication to the masses (including our students) in such a way that it has the potential to democratize information. Look at this - I am writing my opinion through a medium that may be read by dozens 8-) The best part is that some of these dozens of followers may even respond with ideas that will develop a conversation.

Social networking which is a large part of the Web 2.0 movement brings about a more immediate and innovative way for people to communicate. This is especially useful for friends but it also expands your friendship circle by allowing you to meet and greet others online. This is an exciting opportunity but it also brings with it challenges that must be addressed by educators.

The free flow of information that is available online makes for a valuable tool in education. Imagine what can be accomplished educationally with almost unlimited access. Imagine too, what challenges accompany such a plethora of possibilities in communicating.

I have begun a wiki called Web 2.0 Challenges. This site is designed to provide a venue for posting resources that address how school officials and other educators can and should address the "baggage" that this new medium brings with it into the classroom. Please come and join the discussion through commenting on this blog as well as contributing to the wiki.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jena 6

I was reading the blog, Enter my world through my thoughts. Regine reviews the Jena 6 issue and does a great job in detailing the events that have occurred. If you are unfamiliar with the Jena 6 , I would suggest that you should go to her blog and read what she has to say.

This IS wrong! Those boys who hung the nooses DID commit a hate crime and should be punished with expulsion.

Thank you for sharing your ideas on this. It IS something that we need to deal with. 50 years ago, the first negro students entered Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. It took 3 attempts for 8 negro students to successfully enter the high school. This move took bravery on the part of the students (and their parents) as well as 1,000 Army Paratroopers that had been dispatched by President Eisenhower. I found an interesting reprinting of The Tiger (Central High School's newspaper) coverage of the Arkansas event in 1957.

Racial boundaries are difficult things to cross. I would hope to think that great strides have been made in the integration of Americans. There are significant difference in regards to race since 1957, but instances like the Jena 6 show that we have not progressed as far as I had hoped.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everyone's a-Twitter about Twitter

Twitter? How do I get Tweets from my Twitter?
This is Web 2.0 confusing.

Twitter is a new Web 2.0 way to keep in touch with your friends' whereabouts. It is IM-ing on Steroids. The main purpose of Twitter is to MicroBlog with information about what you are doing at that time and where you are going. You are limited to 100 characters so you can't ramble too much.

I have a class of students who are all supposed to be signed up for Twitter and we are all supposed to be following each other. I have seen the links from about 3 of my students. I am being followed by 32 people so I think that most of them have linked to me but haven't been keeping me in touch with their happenings. =-)

All that it takes to get on the Twitter-wagon, is to go to the Twitter website and sign up. You just create a Twitter persona and then find people to follow.

The main problem with Twitter is that you have to go to the Twitter website to add or read Tweets, right? WRONG.

There are a number of programs that augment your twitter so you can send and receive from your desktop, Facebook, IM, or your phone.

Twitterrific - Desktop for the Mac. Go to to download it. DON'T go to - it is a porn site.

Twitter-Roo - Desktop for the PC. Go to

You can find a bunch of 3rd party programs that you can add to your computer at Check out the Popular Downloads.

I must admit that I haven't figured out how to integrate Twitter into an educational setting, but it is kind of fun to see the microblogging going on. I have linked to David Warlick who is a Web 2.0 guru that I love to read. He has been Tweeting a couple times a day so I am getting to know him. I have also linked to Obama and Edwards who are the only two candidates who are twittering. Haven't seen anything from them, but hope that it happens soon.

What have you found out about Twitter? R U using any interesting 3rd party software? Sounds like fun.

Lois Lindell
wrote about the proliferation of Twitter/Microblogging utilities. She even found a wiki that is created by Twitter fans (Twitter Fan Wiki.) The best is the way that some Maryland researchers investigated why people use Twitter, Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities. It's an interesting read. We have an unquenchable need to share information and chat.

Who would'a guessed? Guess that's why we have blogs. 8-0

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Technology Integration: What is it?

Technology integration has so many different levels of success. It is tiring to hearing of educators who think that they are "effectively integrating technology" into their classroom because they are using PowerPoint to accompany their lectures.

Technology integration is not about using technology. Technology integration is about providing the materials and opportunities through technology that are necessary for student-based learning. The trick for making this a reality is to provide a common vocabulary to identify the levels of integration and application.

I was just reviewing Random EIT Thoughts from Lois. Lois Lindell uses this forum to share the gems of EIT (Emerging Instructional Technologies) that she finds on the web. The one that caught my eye was here discovery of how the Florida Center for Instructional Technology used an integration matrix to show various levels of using 1:1 computing in the classroom. The greatest part about this matrix is that they are using videos to compare using 1:1 computing with the shared access that most schools use in their computer labs.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Difference between Blogs and Discussions

Well, I just finished reading all the blogs of all of my students in Emerging Instructional Technologies. It took a few of hours because I hadn't sat down to read them before and we had been writing them for 2 weeks. I had some catching up to do. From this point on, it shouldn't be too bad because I will be able to keep up with you by just reviewing them every couple of days. I will just go to my Google Reader and then look at the one's that sow as new.

I enjoyed reading what all of you said about your lives and what you have found/realized/discovered in this class. Some of you seem to really enjoy the opportunity to share and reflect while others seem to still be in the mode of "completing your duty."

I am new at blogging so I have come to some realizations. These are just preliminary so I know that you will see others appear on this blog as time progresses:

1) Blogs are different than the typical "Discussion Assignment" that you students have done in the past. Typically, in our classes, we have required students to respond to a topic and then write a reply to "at least two other students." These replies have needed to be more than just simple affirmation "I agree with you, Moe."

Blogs need to be more than that. WebCT discussions are usually limited to the members of the class and they rarely introduce links to the rest of the world. What is said there is of great importance, but can be limited. Blogs, on the other hand, are typically open to the world. This means that others can read them and we can link to the rest of the world to enrich and support our thoughts. This is what we call the Blogosphere.

2) Blogs are more interesting if they are "responding to" or "including" information elsewhere in the blogosphere (especially your classmate blogs) and web. Having an active link (remember that you need to use the Link button to make it active) allows the reader to review the material in question and then learn what you have to say about it. It also encourages me, the reader, to be able to have ideas (because I can get to the original material) and respond. This is good because it builds the conversation.

3) You MUST read blogs to know how to write blogs. I have been learning about this as I have been reading more blogs and modeling my blogging around what other, more successful bloggers, have done.

Here is a list of blogs that you should ALL have in your Google Reader:
  • Dr. Z Reflects (this blog)
  • Every student's blog in our class (listed in the right column in this blog)
  • 2 Cents Worth - David Warlick who is continually reflecting upon Web 2.0 tools in the classroom
  • Stager-to-Go - Provides a questioning look at Web 2.o tools in the classroom
  • At least two blogs on your selected theme for the semester. These will help you become better informed of the latest developments as well as allow you a venue for contributing to the discussion.
Well, these are a few of my ideas on blogs vs discussion groups. Please remember that this is not the end of the discourse.

USE THE COMMENTS section to add your opinions about this topic.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Is the Medium the Message?

I must say that I am having a wonderful time reading and responding to the blogs that my students in our Emerging Instructional Technology course are writing. Different students are evolving in their expressions at different levels and it is exciting to see how things are growing. Some students are introducing themselves to the world in their early postings. Some students are sharing emerging technologies (complete with direct links to the sites under discussion.) Some students are reflecting on how we are exploring the exploding world of Emerging Technologies.

One such blog where the student is exploring her world of learning is Put Up Your Dukes.
Sarah is explaining how she is finding direct comparisons between the technology environments found in k-12 with the corporate world. She says that the comments/experiences/problems she is hearing from the Tech Coordinator of Maine about the 1:1 computer initiative is quite similar to her experience in the business world.

Perhaps the most exciting part of her postings is her reactions to learning about things through different forms of media. She has listened to the podcast about 1:1 computing in Maine. She watched and listened to a PowerPoint presentation from Boston College about their research into the differences that providing 5th graders with laptop computers for 24/7 use can make on their learning. She says that listening to the discussion engaged her better than reading a textbook or article. She isn't talking about the content but rather about the medium through which it is delivered.

In 1964, Marshal McLuan said that "The medium is the message."
He was stating that the content was almost irrelevant and that it is the medium through which the content is delivered that "changes our consciousness." This student who is engaged with content because she "can multitask, reflect, make connections, talk to people, hear or see things I wouldn't have come up with on my own."

There is a great deal to be considered here. It sounds like a cliche, but in the multimedia world, we need to engage our students by sharing content with them through media that are important to them and that correlate with their learning conduits.

Complete Fool's Guide to Second Life

I was just reviewing the Second Life Tutorial website that I found while reading Steve A's blog and I found the Complete Fool's Guide to Second Life. This is a 72-page pdf file that takes you on a great tour of what you will experience in Second Life. Wish it had been a video with an accompanying pdf file for later reference. I browsed through it and found that I had learned a great deal of this information by-hook-and-by-crook. It would have been much nicer if I had used this tutorial.

I would strongly recommend this wonderful introductory tutorial. You should also look at the Second Life Tutorial site to see what else you can do in Second Life.

Speed Up Your Audio Learning

I was just reading Steve Pavlina's Blog on Personal Development for Smart People. I just happened to bump into it when I was looking for fancy things I can do with phone texting. While I was there I read his posting, Overclock Your Audio Learning. He was talking about how you can absorb and understand audio material at rates faster than the regular speaking rate. He said that he was able to understand and remember material that was played at 4x the regular rate. This means that he could listen to a 6 hour recording of a book in only an hour and a half. What a great savings of time.

I have experienced this with my iPod. I have listened to audio books at a faster rate. The iPod allows you to increase the rate by 25%. That means that you can listen to 1 hour 15 minute podcast in 1 hour. Not as fast as what Steve Pavilina advocates, but it's faster. Pavilina says that it he can get the turbo speeds using Windows Media Player, but I couldn't find it on my Mac version. Must just be the Windows version. If you're interested, the instructions are included in his posting that I linked up above.

This is a way to compress your learning. I wonder how it would work if you were driving while listening to this. Pavilina says that he learns even better using this method. I believe that the increased speed REQUIRES you to pay more attention. Wonder how it would work with a podcast.

I would be interested in your take on this. Those of you who are listening to podcasts for school or your own interest might try this method. Please comment on how it works for you.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wiki Webinar from Open Campus

Today I participated (along with 5 other UNI faculty) in a Wiki and Web 2.0 Webinar that was provided by Open Campus and sponsored by the SocialText wiki company. Here are the PowerPoint slides from the Webinar in .pdf format.

It was a semi-interactive webinar where we had to enroll into webinar previously and then we received a URL for connecting. Upon linking to the site at showtime, the screen provided some buttons for downloading the slides for the day. I downloaded the .pdf file and we proceeded through them as the speakers spoke. (I only wish that they had beeped or something when they progressed from page to page so that we could stay in synch.)

The three speakers were:
Gerald C. Kane, Asst Prof at Boston College
Howard Rheingold, Prof at Stanford and UC Berkeley
Jeff Brainard, Director of Marketing at Socialtext (the sponsor)

(These are some really interesting websites and I can't wait to have the time to review their class syllabi to see how they are using the Web 2.0 tools for learning.)

All three presenter provided useful information. I think that the most exciting one was Gerald Kane. He brought about a number of interesting concepts about using a wiki to provide the tools that can make student activities more interactive and student centered.

My favorite part about his presentation was his statement that he used his wiki to create a “mashup” of Web 2.0 tools. I like this word, mashup. I have heard it used to describe combining audio files and video files, but never with Web 2.0 tools. This made me think about Mashup curriculum. This is a curriculum that is the product of combining a variety of Web 2.0 tools and environments to create a global interactive world of learning.

Dr. Reingold showed the syllabus for Participatory Media Literacy.
It is filled with Web 2.0 tools that he is using to engage his students. HOW EXCITING!!!!

I need to find a way to integrate this into my Emerging Instructional Technologies course that I am teaching this semester. Look out students!!!!! Here it comes!!!!!

Online Audio Track of the Webinar
I have just received a link to the audio broadcast of the Webinar.
This audio broadcast extends to the whole 1 hour and 9 minutes. If you want to see the slides with the audio track, you need to download the slides and then progress through them as the presenters give their presentations.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Using YouTube to Teach

Well, I just created my first tutorial video for YouTube. Actually, I created it for my Emerging Instructional Technologies course at the University of Northern Iowa, but I am storing it on YouTube. I tried to upload it to TeacherTube, but it took forever to upload it and I finally quit it and went for YouTube.

The tutorial instructs my students how to add blogs to their Google Reader utility. It is quite informal. I did the personal introductory part in my livingroom and then did the screencast (video capture of what was happening on the screen) just using my computer and computer microphone.

This video, Adding Blogs to Your Google Reader is accessible on YouTube for you to watch and then try out.

STUDENTS: I would suggest that you:
1) Watch the video to see how to do it.
2) Try adding this blog, Dr. Z Reflects, to your Google Reader.
3) Go to our wiki page where students are posting their blog addresses
4) Add your classmates' blogs to your Reader and keep up on what they are saying throughout the semester. You might even want to react to their comments to build a REAL learning community.

This may be the beginning of something big.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Zoho Rocks!

Google has its studio of tools, but Zoho is close on Google's tail. I learned about Zoho from Kathy Schrock's presentation at NECC 2007, but she only mentioned the Zoho database. Since then Zoho has added a number of applications. These applications include:
Zoho Writer - Online Word Processor
Zoho Sheet - Online Spreadsheet
Zoho Show - Online Presentation tool
Zoho Notebook - Create, Aggregate and Collaborate with multiple types of content online.
Zoho Planner - Online todo list
Zoho CRM - Customer Relationship Management. This looks like a help desk for small businesses. The first 3 lines are free and then it is $12/month for each line after that.
Zoho Creator - Online database (I embedded my first database file below)
Zoho Wiki - Online Wiki
Zoho Chat - You guessed it - a way to type at each other online.
Zoho Mail - Collaboration groupware. Sounded interesting but it is a beta and I believe that it is all written in the Indian language (Hindi? Tamil?) I look forward to this being developed.
Zoho Meeting - Hold an online meeting. Looked like you can share slideshows, communicate through VOIP, even take control of another person's computer for troubleshooting.
Zoho Polls - Create surveys and polls.

These are all free. I haven't had a chance to look at all of them, but it looks promising.

I am embedding a form for completing my database for Web 2.0 Applications below. I copied the HTML code from the Zoho Creator database page and pasted it into the HTML for this page. I have even set it so that I will receive an email notification whenever someone adds a record.

Check it out. This looks good!!!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Web 2.0 Applications

I am fascinated by the available Web 2.0 Applications. My proposal for doing a presentation on Web 2.0 Applications at the Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) conference in October was accepted so I am now looking for cool Web 2.o Applications, Gadgets and Gizmos.

What do you know about these? What are your favorites? If you have one, add it to the form on my other posting.

Here is a list from Kathy Schrock:

Go2Web20 is an innovative and comprehensive index of Web 2.0 applications:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So What's with HyperStudio 5.0?

So what's in HyperStudio 5.0?


Roger took us on an extensive, albeit sometimes jumbled, tour of his new
release on Tuesday Morning. I had seen a demo of it at the MacKiev booth a NECC the day before and it was wonderful.

For those of you who remember HyperStudio, you will be reacquainted with a long lost friend. HS is designed using the screen-by-screen format (didn't catch if they are still using the Card/Stack metaphor in 5.0.) Anyway, thumbnails of sequential cards can be streamed down the left side of the screen. Floating toolbars are more sophisticated because of the extensive palettes that appear instead of dropdown menus.

A wonderful addition that I saw involved editing drawing and painting efforts. You might remember in the earlier versions of HS, If you wanted to move something that you painted on a background, you had to marquee the object and then you moved the object AND any included background. What a

HS 5 considers ANY creation as an individual object. This means that you can grab it, move it, rotate it, expand or contract it. It's a whole new world for editing.

The new HyperStudio is strong when considering the video and Web 2.0
opportunities. You can import videos into your project with relative ease.
Your video can include movie files as well as live feeds where you program
is encompassing direct, live video feeds from cameras connected directly to
the computer. This is just like HS 3.0 The NEW addition allows you to link
live webcams into the program. This wasn't completed when I saw it, but
they said that there would be a set of "approved" webcams that would be
allowed to link. Interesting.

On the output side, Roger was amazing us with the Podcasting capability.
This option wasn't ready for demonstration, but it appeared that you could
export your project to a video that could be podcasted. It would include
the RSS code but you would have to find a site where you would post it. I
don't think that this is officially a podcast because those are usually
limited to an audio file, it's more like a vodcast.

Overall, all that I can say is "ROGER'S BACK and I AM excited!!!!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

HyperStudio is Announced!

Why was I getting up at 5:45 AM for 7:00 breakfast at the Omni Hotel sponsored by the KievMac software company? It was because Roger Wagner would be there to unveil HyperStudio 5.0.

You might remember HyperStudio. It was a multimedia authoring tool that Roger Wagner (then a 4th grade teacher in San Diego) developed back in 1986. He wanted a user-friendly system that 9-year-olds could use to create programs that were filled with images, text, sounds and animation.

Roger began the HyperStudio company and matured HyperStudio on the Apple IIgs and then onto the Macintosh and Windows platforms. It was a wonderful programming language that was used in k-12 schools throughout the world. We used it for our Educational Media classes to provide a relatively easy way for students to create multimedia programs.

In 1999, Roger had the good fortune of selling his HyperStudio company to The Learning Company for millions of dollars. This was fortunate for Roger but highly unfortunate for the rest of the world. The Learning Company tried to update HyperStudio to version 4.0 and the program imploded around its faulty code. This was so disastrous that schools, teachers and kids dropped this fallen albatross for the likes of mPOWER and PowerPoint.

Even amidst the shards of HyperStudio, Sunburst Software purchased HyperStudio from The Learning Company - Talk about a Fire Sale . . . They decided to rewrite the program from the ground up. Apparently, they enlisted the services of MacKiev. This is a software programming company in
. . . Russia of course.

Last November, Sunburst flew me over to Chicago for a day to consult on some upgrades that they were considering for their keyboarding software. I found myself in the car with a man who informed me that they were working on HyperStudio but they are just trying to settle some ownership rights issues.

Well, apparently, rights were settled last Friday when Roger Wagner signed on the dotted line to purchase the program and then market it through MacKiev. I don't know what the agreement is, but I DO know that they are promising to release HyperStudio 5.0 by September.

I have spent this entry explaining the background of HyperStudio but didn't say much about the program. Don't want to make this posting too long, so I will continue with this next time.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

NECC 2007 - Expanding Your Classroom with the Interactive Web

It's NECC time!

I assume that if you are reading this, you are probably in my NECC workshop entitled "Expanding Your Classroom with the Interactive Web."

Instead of creating CDs or killing a lot of trees to provide you with notes of resource addresses for this workshop, I am providing these links to site here on my blog. It's quicker, it's easier, AND you can access them with the click of your mouse.

We will discuss the basis of the Interactive Web (AKA "Web 2.0" but I can't use that term here - it is copyrighted ;-)) We will then explore the educational possibilities of using blogs, wikis, podcatching, podcasting and social networking software in the classroom. By the end of this workshop, if all goes well, each of the attendees will have their own blog, wiki, podcast and accounts.

Here are the resources that we will be using. I am posting this here to share it with you readers, but also so that my students will be able to link to them from this posting instead of having to create a whole different website. (pretty cool, eh?)

Connectivism Website - George Siemens

Classroom Blogs
University Class Assignments
Blog-bib - Annotated bibliography on blogging
Weekly Teacher Blog - 3rd
Student Blog - 5th Grade
Prepare for Field Trip - 4th grade. Sets stage for trip. - Evan McIntosh. Comments/reflects on using tech in ed. - Will Richardson
Dr. Z Reflects - Dr. Z's humble attempt at blogging.

Overall Blogging Examples

Captain's Blog - Journal of Captain Mark Bromwich in Afghanistan.
BG Blogging - Creative Writing blogging from Middlebury University
Blogging NECC 2007 - Page full of blogs about NECC 2007
Bloglines - On-line RSS Feed Reader. Get an account.
Technorati - This is the Google for Blogs.

Create Your Own Blog

Blogger - Quick and easy blogging spot.
WordPress - Takes a little longer, but includes tagging and couple of other treats. It's worth the extra time.

Wikipedia - The encyclopedia created and edited by "the masses".
Dr. Z's ITEC Conference 2006 Wiki - Check this out for more . . .

Friday, June 22, 2007

Reality in Second Life at NECC

I am sitting here in the Cedar Rapids airport at 5:40 AM waiting for my aerial coach to whisk me off into NECC-land in Atlanta, GA. This is my annual trek to the NECC(a) MECCA of educational computing.

A new dimension has been added this year with the ISTE Second Life experience. I am not enrolled in any SL activities yet, but learning about SL and the instructional opportunities of the Virtual Worlds will be one of my quests over the next 6 days.

The beginning of the SL integration into the NECC RL experience is the inclusion of SL nametags. An industrious member, Know Clue, has accepted the job of taking member-submitted photos of SL members and turning these into Nametags.

You will see my photo/nametag in this entry. Looks just like me, eh?

Remember the mantra of Second Life, "On the Internet, Nobody knows you're a dog."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Distance Education through Second Life

As I contemplate the opportunities provided by Second Life, I see a number of potential pathways.

Consider SL as an opportunity to provide another dimension to distance education. It can provide another dimension that will enrich the learning experience. Last night I taught one of my distance education courses at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). It is a face-to-face video course over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The ICN is an Iowan resource composed of a state-owned fiberoptic network that connects over 800 broadcast sites throughout the state. These broadcast/reception sites vary in sophistication, but all of them include monitors for reception and cameras for broadcasting. Most of them include teacher computers along with DVD players, VHS players and overhead cameras. It is said that no one in Iowa lives more than 20 from an ICN classroom.

My class last night involved me sitting alone in an ICN classroom at UNI and talking with students at 7 sites across the state. Most of my classes include students in the UNI classroom as well as the satellite classrooms but not this time. I control who and what is seen from my control tower. Some sites have multiple students while other students sit alone in their classrooms. The interaction between the students and between the students and me is somewhat limited. I don't see students communicating much between themselves outside of the classroom unless they are involved in completing a classroom assignment.

Imagine if this course was taught in SL. At it's basic level, it would be a chat room with avatars. Interaction would depend upon students' typing skills as well as their interest in the topic. One of the problems with using a written interface is the extended lag time between questions and answers. This gives us a chance to consider our ideas before we share them but it can also cause frustration. SL will ultimately provide an audio interface (it is in beta format now) which will bring a more satisfying interaction between participants. I have used Skype to interact with others while in SL and it worked well. Unfortunately, there is a limit of 4 participants (I think) in a Skype conference call so it would require limiting the class size.

SL can play audio and video broadcasts that are streaming through the Internet. This means that I could share videos from Edutopia by the George Lucas Education Foundation. I could just post them one of the videos screens in SL in my "classroom" whatever that may look like.

Playing streaming audio feeds also means that we could use the Webcasting technology that the EdTechTalk podcast guys have developed. This means that multiple folks could connect with me through Skype and then broadcast this through the web which could then feed through SL. The best part is that we would see the avatars standing/sitting together. I have found this geographical proximity to be an interesting phenomena which I will discuss in another posting but I think that it improves the interaction experience.

Musical concerts are happening in SL every week so the process of mass communication is already a reality. This interaction is something that will provide great opportunities.

What about panel discussions or group interaction or ??? These are the topics for another post.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Second Life Again

Last night I spent an interesting time in SL (Second Life). I have been honored by a friend of mine to share a virtual house in the virtual life of SL. This friend, Ferdi Serim, has spent his life developing new ideas for making education more relevant and more exciting. Presently, he is living in New Mexico working with students on a nearby Indian reservation.

Anywho, Ferdi invited me to join him in a house on EduIsland in SL. He rented the land and the landlord suggested that he had a house already built so said that he could have it. I must admit that I have been questioning the sense in having a home in a virtual land. Interestingly enough, it gives me a feeling of belonging. It is a place where I can go and talk with people. In fact, I have been meeting people who have been walking by the house and invited them in for a discussion.

Perhaps the best part of the house is the way that Ferdi and his friends have decorated the house. He has installed a huge speaker system and has figured out how to stream music that he has performed and recorded into the surroundings so that you can enjoy it.

Last night, Ferdi suggested that we go to an SL location called Svarga. It is an incredible fantasy land. Ferdi and I found out castle that a music room. We had a jam session on some percussion instruments. What a groove. Another participant in the jam, Rasmussen, videod the session and you can find it here.

The world of Second Life is just now beginning to grow and the possibilities seem endless.

Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Teachertube is here!!!!!

I have been looking for this for a long time. It is appears to be a youtube for educators. You will note the note that notes " Keep it SAFE! Flag all Inappropriate Videos"

According to the "About Us" at the bottom of the page, Teachertube opened March 6, 2007 so it isn't even a month old. It was put together by a teacher.

This is where teachers can upload their instructional videos or videos of them instructing. What a WONDERFUL resource for professional development!!!!

Here is a video that shows how technology can help educators dance through the day.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Getting Into Second Life

We are finally "into Second Life."

I am an associate professor in Instructional Technology at the University of Northern Iowa. I must admit that I have "fiddled" with Second Life for about 6 months. This means that I have ventured onto Second Life and then retreated. Not because I couldn't "do" SL. It was because I saw the incredible attraction of the site and realized that this spot could consume a GREAT DEAL of my time.

Recently, our whole division decided to approach Second Life and explore it as a venue for delivering/exploring/experiencing instruction and learning. On Thursday, all six of us went on-line together and explored various spots. An interesting aspect of this process was that 5 of us were sitting together in a classroom at the university while I sat at home and explored it from a distance spot. I could have gone into school as well, but thought it would be fun to be the "distant explorer." We also integrated Skype so that I was part of the oral discussion that ensued.

We had our Techie guy kind of leading us but each of us had done some previous exploration or had friends who had suggested places to explore.

Presently, we are exploring what it would take to create a learning center in SL. We want to see what it would cost to get "enough" land. We need to find out how to create each of these buildings. We are discussing sharing spots with other institutions.

I have met a number of people/avatars on SL. It is another accessible market for friends/colleagues/potential students that will change our lives. Communication is the main motivator for progress. Consider the evolution of communication. Bell developed the telephone in 1875. This provided individual voice communication. Marconi and a number of other inventors across the globe developed radio broadcasting in the 1880s. This provided a broadcasting of information over large distances. The basics for television also began in the 1880s but the video communicator didn't become common in households until 1950s.

The Internet was made accessible to the public in the early 1980s. It became commercial in 1985. The Internet had a crude interface that Dante himself couldn't have conceived. But it was actively used because it provided a person - to - person seemingly immediate connection that could connect throughout the world. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the basics for the World Wide Web (Wikipedia says that he used a NEXTcube as its first server.) The WWW provided a graphic interface for the Internet as well as a relatively simple way for folks to publish and share their ideas for all of the world to enjoy.

This progression went from 1-to-1 voice (phone), 1-to-many voice (radio - corporate controlled), 1-to-many video (Television - corporate controlled), 1-to-1 text (email), 1-to-many text (listservs), 1-to-many graphic (websites - personally controlled), 1-to-many video (YouTube et al - personally controlled). Now we have the wonderful virtual world (like Second Life) where we can have 1-to-1 connections but I can walk through places that are of interest to me and meet other people who have similar interests. This will expand my personal network and help me build communities that are not geographically limited.

As I wrote this short and simplified history of communication, I realized that there are many aspects that I have left untouched. The evolution of audience can also be followed here. Directed audience as with a phone call. The expanded audience that is only limited by access to a receiver (radio or TV) or channel (cable TV).

The important aspect that I am trying to portray here is that we are social animals. Communication is what will always push a technology into acceptance. Since we can't teleport to other places in the world and universe (ala Star Trek), working within a virtual world can provide close second where we can experience and create desired realities.