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.