Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Your Class Might be Learner-Centric If . . . (a work in progress)

 I woke up this morning thinking about learner-centric learning environments. Hmmm, is that dedication or distraction if you dream about 21st century learning? 

Anyway, I had the opening phrase "Your class might be learner-centric if . . . " on my lips when I awoke. I am interested in making a conscious effort to make my courses learner-centric.

Many of my activities and my teaching philosophy tends to be learner-centric, but I want to finding a set of guidelines that I could use in refining my courses. 

So I began my search for such a list and composited the list below. This is a work in progress, so please provide me with feedback or your ideas about the list.

Please note that I have stated that your class MIGHT be learner-centric if it has these characteristics. A learner-centered learning environment is more than a few characteristics.  It is an overall learning experience that can be created when these characteristics are present.

Add your ideas to the comment section down below.

Your class might be learner-centric if: (apologies to Jeff Foxworthy . . . )

  • ·      Your students talk more then you do in class.
  • ·      Your students are working harder than you.
  • ·      Your students are explicitly learning the required thinking skills for mastering material in the discipline.
  • ·      Your students are reflecting, analyzing and critiquing what they are learning and how they are learning it.
  • ·      Your students have some choice about which assignments they complete.
  • ·      Your students help create the assessment criteria/rubrics.
  • ·      Your students are collaborating as learning communities.
  • ·      You share the learning commitment with your students.
  • ·      You and your students see learning individually and collectively as the goal of education.
  • ·      Your students demonstrate their knowledge in unique ways.
  • ·      Your students are actively engaged in individual and group learning activities.

What do you have to add?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Steve Jobs: Self-Proclaimed Hippie

Steve Jobs was one of the most fascinating people of the 20th century. He was a visionary, marketeer, designer, and self-proclaimed hippie (see the end of the video.)

I just wanted to share with any Jobs-Heads out there that last night I found a 1995 video, Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, on Netflix. 
It was terrific!!!!!

This 72-minute video takes place when Jobs wasn't employed by Apple.  He had been released from employment by John Scully and was running his new computer company, Next.

I found the video absolutely fascinating. Jobs talked about using a computer when he was 10 years old. He led us through his whole developmental process from creating a "blue box" to creating and marketing the Macintosh.  The greatest part of this video is that it provides insight into how Jobs thought and what he valued.

Robert X. Cringley led this 1995 interview. I have been a big fan of Cringley as well since the early 80s.

Hope you enjoy this video. Tell me what you think.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

ITEC 2012 - Making Learning Meaningful for Millennials

What does it take to make learning meaningful to your millennial students?  That is a question that should be on the lips of every teacher.  The first thing that we need to do is realize that our students today are different than 20 years ago.  They are the first generation to live in a digital world.  They may not be born knowing how to use technology, but they have grown up in a world where digital answers have always been available and they are Digitally Comfy (as Angela Maiers says).

I am sharing my ideas about how we can best address our Millennial students' needs.

Here are the resources that I used. If you have additional ideas, please add them to the comments below.

We will be using technology throughout the session so let's begin with some of the opening resources:

Twitter: For all of your twitterers, we will use the hashtag #ITEC12 When you tweet, include this hashtag in your message so that others can follow along with your ideas. If you want to see what was posted, click on the hashtag above and it will show you what has been said.

Collaborative Notes: We will also use collaborative note taking. This is a Google Doc that I created and then laid open to the world for anyone to edit.  This means that you just need to click on the link and it will take you to the Google Doc. You don't have to sign-in but you will be known as Anonymous???? when you are entering your ideas.  Go ahead and add the info that you find interesting.  Go out on the web during the session to find relevant information and add the link to the document.

The Slideshow

Who Are the Millenials?
Readings, Watchings, Listenings and Doings

Millennial Mindset

    I hope that this session has been useful for you. I am interested in knowing if and how this material has been useful to you. I hope that this is just the beginning of our connection.
    • Subscribe to this blog using the link in the right column.
    • Send me an email at
    • Follow me on Twitter:  @zeitz
    • Let's visit on Skype:  leighzeitz
     How else can I help you?


    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    What Happens when Reality Meets Virtual

    I just had to share this video with you.  Here we have a real frog trying to get lunch off of the screen of a smart phone.
    What do you think? Do you see any metaphors for life? Z

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    What Characteristics Make 4th Graders Better Keyboarders?

    Keyboard (Photo credit: Shane Pope)
    Recently, Amy Lockhart and I had an article published in the Journal for Computing Teachers. It was the result of our research with her 4th graders into what characteristics affected their success in keyboarding. We investigated gender, age, hand size, music experience and athletic experience. Beyond the characteristics, we explored using the Almena Method for Keyboarding. 

    The Almena Method is quite different than your typical instructional model for teaching keyboarding. Almena King developed a series of mnemonic jingles to assist in remembering the key locations. Once you learn these jingles, you can recite them to yourself to assist in remembering the location of the keys.

     Here is a brief overview of the study we completed:
    This study evaluated the effectiveness of using the Almena Method keyboarding program to teach keyboarding to 4th grade students. Student characteristics were evaluated to measure their effect upon keyboarding success. Seventeen Midwestern fourth grade students of a mixed sex, ethnic, and racial orientation were involved. Students participated in daily 30-minute keyboarding lessons for four weeks. Students tended to increase their keyboarding speed by 33%. Age affected success inversely. Younger students improved more than older students. Music Experience had a positive effect. Larger-handed students improved the most. Gender and athletic background didn’t have any effect upon keyboarding improvement. Specific student characteristics can make a significant difference in student success.

    Here is a link to the complete article:

    What do you think?  Does it fit your experience in student keyboarding?


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    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Tools for Educators to Collect Their Own Resources
    Textbooks are resources that have been collected by publishers to fulfill curricular needs. Printed textbooks are provided in a "one size fits all" format. The two largest states, California and Texas, usually identify what they want in their textbooks and then the rest of the country uses these texts. Some of the publishers are providing the opportunity of states, school districts and educators to customize their textbooks. Publishers provide a collection of information and then the educational organizations create their texts from the material offered. The problem is that they are still printed texts and they are stuck with them until they print the next edition.

    Readings, Watchings, Listenings and Doings
    As a professor of at the University of Northern Iowa, I don't use textbooks. I have a great deal of resources that my students must master, but they are collected in a textbook. I make my resources available through the Web. Millennials or Generation Y students are not readers of books. They read a great deal but it is from screens for the most part. This group of learners (ages 11 - 28) work best with multimedia. This means that they want to read, but they also want to learn information and build knowledge through video, audio and activity. They want to learn through interactive learning opportunities even as they encounter new information.  

    Readings: This is where we refer the students to online articles and readings in books (printed and digital). Just because we don't use textbooks, it doesn't mean that we don't use books. There is a plethora of information contained in the tombs of knowledge.
    Watchings: Our students are visual learners. Pew Internet estimates that Millennials spend as much as 8 hours on the screen per day (watching TV, viewing YouTube, interacting with Facebook, etc.) This is the medium that is best for their learning. I find many videos on YouTube, Edutopia, and other subject-specific sites. Sometimes I create my own videos to address specific needs.
    Listenings: Our students are multi-taskers. Many of them are audio learners. I have found a wealth of resources in podcasts. The beauty of using podcasts is that they can listen to them on their iPods/phones while they are walking or working out. Learning while jogging may seem blasphemous, but we are learning all the time. Why not include coursework in the informal learning that we do.
    Doings: Learning by doing is the key to meaningful learning. This is where you ask your students to complete surveys, research information, collaborate in problem solving, or ????  Your actual assignments will probably be described on a different online page, but these are usually the activities that lead to the final assignments.

    Here are some examples of my RWLDs:
    iBook Author
    While using a blog is a simple way to organize resources for class, Apple has released the iBooks Author.  This is a much more sophisticated but simple way to create your multimedia RWLDs or Digital textbook.  The best thing is that as we create these books for our courses we can share them with other educators.

    Apple has not only created a tool that enables us to create our own digital textbooks, they have also developed/uncovered a market in digital books. They are using their iTunes store to distribute their interactive books for $15 each.

    How does this fit our quest into using digital books in your class?  What do you see as how you can make your resources more interactive and instructional for your students?
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    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    iGoogle Disappears November 1, 2013

    On June 8, Google announced that it would discontinue iGoogle on November 1, 2013.

    The official explanation for this change in marketing strategy is "with modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for iGoogle has eroded over time."

    What this really means is that Google has decided that they cannot successfully market ads to a personalized environment like iGoogle.

    What will be in its place? Google probably envisions Google+ working as a handy substitute. It doesn't have the features of iGoogle, but this means that Google will be updating Google+ to try to accommodate the present needs for an RSS resource center.

    Many users who use iGoogle as their start page, may replace their control dashboard with NetVibes or ProtoPage or My Yahoo. Lifehacker provides a good comparison of NetVibes and ProtoPage in a recent posting. They are both great alternatives for iGoogle.

    If you are interested in making Google+ your homepage, I believe this would be in the form of a Business Page.  There are already tutorials about making Google+ Business Pages like this one from Social Media Examiner. It could be pretty cool to have your Google Hangout on your opening page. You could talk with your friends at the beginning of your day and never get any work done.  =-)

    NOTE: Discontinuing iGoogle is part of a "spring cleaning" that Google appears to be doing to streamline their offerings.
    • Google Video stopped accepting submissions in 2009 and will be moving its content to YouTube soon. if you have videos on Google Video you have until August 20 to migrate, delete or download your content.
    • Google Mini, a customizable search engine, will discontinue at the end of July.
    • Google Talk Chatback has been discontinued. 

    What will you do? Do you use iGoogle to organize your PLN or with your students' PLNs? How will this affect how you organize your life?


    Related articles
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    Are These REALLY Things That Will be Obsolete by 2020?

    Flickr: Corey Leopold
    I just found a posting by Shelly Blake-Plock where he shared some predictions from 2009.  Some of them are plausible but some of them seem trite. Do you really think that we will ever outgrow paper?

    In short, here is a list of the soon-to-be-gone stuff. You can review the list and then read a more in-depth discussion of them at his blog.  Provide your opinion in the comments section.
    Will these be gone in 2020?

    1. Desks, 
    2. Language Labs, 
    3. Computers, 
    4. Homework, 
    5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions, 
    6. Differentiated Instruction as a Sign of Distinguished Teachers, 
    7. Fear of Wikipedia, 
    8. Paperbacks, 
    9. Attendance Offices, 
    10. Lockers, 
    11. I.T. Departments, 
    12. Centralized Institutions, 
    13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade, 
    14. Education Schools that Fail to Integrate Technology, 
    15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development, 
    16. Current Curricular Norms, 
    17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night, 
    18. Typical Cafeteria Food, 
    19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Web Design, 
    20. High School Algebra 1, and 
    21. Paper - Really?.
    Do you agree with these? Are they reasonable or what others predictions do you have for 8 years from now?


    UPDATE:  Here is an interesting article talking about the Internet of Things and many changes coming in the near future:  Are You Ready for These World Changing Technologies in 2018?
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    Sunday, July 08, 2012

    Professional Development Meme 2012 #pdmeme2012

    Montgomery College
    It's summer and it's time for rejuvenation and renewal. My summer class is complete. I have given my presentations at ISTE '12. School doesn't begin until August 20. This gives me some time for some professional development.  I am constantly learning every day, but this is my opportunity to identify some specific short term goals for PD.

    I was just reading Clif Mim's blog, Clif's Notes, where he was talking about setting some personal PD goals for the summer. He has set this up as a blog meme (or template) that he could share it with other bloggers.  He has challenged his colleagues to identify their personal professional development goals and share them with the world.

    How can I pass up a challenge like this?  The more important question is how can YOU pass up a challenge like this as well?

    Here's the deal.  I will begin by telling you how you can post this on your blog (copied from Clif's blog) and then share my short-term goals for the next couple of months.

    NOTE: You do NOT have to wait to be tagged to participate in this meme.
    1. Pick 1-3 professional development goals and commit to achieving them this summer.
    2. For the purposes of this activity the end of summer will be Labor Day (09/03/2012).
    3. Post the above directions and these guidelines along with your 1-3 goals on your blog or preferred social media platform (Facebook, Google+, Posterous, etc.).
    4. Link back/trackback to
    5. Use the following tag/ keyword/ category on your post: pdmeme2012.
    6. Twitter about your progress using the #pdmeme2012 hashtag.
    7. Tag 5 or more educators to participate in the meme.
    8. Achieve your goals and “develop professionally.”
    9. Commit to sharing your results on your blog during early or mid-September.
    My Goals
    • Submit an article concerning TPACK to a refereed journal.
    • Create a preliminary proposal for my learning and millennials book. 
    • Explore Google+ and create a social presence through Google+
    • Explore Google Hangout and have at least one session with "friends."  (This may be too formalized, but it is a beginning.)
    Other Bloggers I Tag . . .
    I encourage the rest of you readers (both of you) to take up this challenge as well.

    Do it!  It will induce you to learn something new and challenge me to address my short-term goals as well.

    If you decide to join us, leave a note in the comments along with a link to your posting.

    Have fun,


    Related articles:
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    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Dr. Z's Creative Cookbook for Collaborative Communication - Part Deux

    Once again we are at ISTE '12.

    What a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends, learn new things, and walk in the sun.

    Here is a link to my Slideshow for my Cookbook presentation.  Unfortunately it is just a .pdf for now, but I will post the real posting later.

    • Twitter search for #Drzreflects (As time progresses, these tweets may disappear.)
    • Collaborative Google notes that were created by one of the attendees.  These were open for everyone to contribute during the presentation but have been locked to keep the content valid.
    Share Your Screen
    • Join.Me - Share your screen with up to 250 people simultaneously.
    • Google Hangout - Watch a short introductory video about using Hangout with fellow students.
    Audio Annotation
    • AudioBoo - Create an audio response to your students' work.  Just send them the URL to the audio file. Includes a mobile app. These files are not private. 
    • Chirbit -  Another tool for creating an audio response to your students' work.  Just send them the URL to the audio file. Includes a mobile app. These files CAN be made private.
    Screen Casting
    • Jing - Free brother-version of Camtasia by TechSmith. I have used this as my default screencaster for years.  Limit of 5 minutes. You download the program to your computer.
    • Screencast-o-Matic - Just discovered this option this summer. This system will allow you to record up to 15 minutes. You can save your files in .mp4, .avi, and .wmv formats.  It is all online.
    Video Annotating and Editing
    • VideoANT - Provide written notations for a video as it progresses. The viewer progresses through a collection of notes as the video plays.
    • WeVideo - Full video editing capability online. 
    I hope that these resources are useful for you.  If you have any additional resources that you would like to share, add them to the comments section.


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