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Myna Birds, KBears, and SMART Boards…

http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/weeklywebwonders_400.jpg?w=468
http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpg?w=468This site was just released last week, it’s awesome.  Myna is an online application where you can record and mix audio tracks…then save and share them.  Your students don’t need any extra software to create podcasts, mix up some background music, record vocabulary, whatever.  The cool thing is that kids can work on their projects at home and at school and can share their creations instantly via the web.

http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpg?w=468I know YouTube is blocked, but here’s a list of the 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers.  They’ve been broken down into several categories for you.  If you need help figuring out how to show these videos to your students, attend the 2Week Tech webinar entitled “Use YouTube.” It’s running tomorrow from 3:45 – 4:15 and it’s free!  Click the link for more info.

http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpg?w=468KBears is a fun, interactive site for elementary students with all types of info.  They also have a site for parents and teachers that has various types of learning activities.

http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpg?w=468If you have an interactive whiteboard then you simply must check the Teachers Love SMART Boards blog everyday.  The author post several resources per week.  They’re not specific to SMART boards, either…it doesn’t matter what type of board you have the sites will still work.  In fact, you don’t need a board at all to take advantage of the great stuff that’s here.

http://remc11.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/www_bullet.jpg?w=468Providing a wealth of resources for K-12 science educators, Science NetLinks is your guide to meaningful standards-based Internet experiences for students.

TechCamp 2009 is on the stove…

It’s been since September that I actually posted something besides a Weekly Web Wonder.  Somehow I just have a hard time getting the thoughts that work their way through my head out onto the screen.  C’est la vie…

TechCampIn any case, I want to make sure to start giving coverage to this year’s TechCamp.  Last year we had two great days of learning and exploration and I’m really looking forward to doing it again.  This year, TechCamp will be held on August 25 & 26.  It’s a week later, but so is Labor Day.  (It’s hard to believe that Michigan students won’t start school until September 8!)  The format will remain basically the same…participants will attend 6 hands-on sessions over the two days as well as listen to 2 keynote presentations.  Who?  Well, I said TechCamp is on the stove, not simmering on the front burner.  I haven’t gotten there yet…close though.

If you follow the link, you’ll find last year’s wiki information.  The presenters uploaded a ton of resources which many participants have come back to over the past months.  You’ll also see my lovely new TechCamp logo as well as be able to download the flyer.  (Did you notice that I’m not providing links for that stuff…I’m nastily forcing you to hop over to the wiki and check it out yourself.

Day of Preparation…

Whew!  What a day!  After another week off from work, I returned today for a get-everything-set-up-for-TechCamp marathon.  Now there are four wireless labs in the conference rooms at Berrien RESA and each piece is in place…well, I hope it’s in place.

I created a quick Introduction Video for participants to watch just before the first session.  It stinks.  ;-)  However, I shot it while on vay-cay in South Haven, so my brain wasn’t working smoothly yet.  It does the job.

A few quick thoughts…

  • I’m very impressed with the amount of time and effort being put into the TechCamp wiki by the presenters.  Awesome!
  • I just returned from picking up my son from football practice…and I happened to swing by Walgreens for some chocolate for the breakout sessions.  Sweet!
  • I’d like to develop a LoJack system for power strips…they’re at a real premium for a conference like this.

That it…time for TechCamp!

TechCamp Spotlight: To the Limit

Spotlight

Spotlight

July has come and gone…I’ve stayed away from technology for quite a while now, but it’s time to move things along.  TechCamp is two and a half weeks away and I’m pleased to say that we’re booked solid with participants…filled to the gills.  That is so sweet…

We have even started a waiting list, which makes me disappointed that we can’t accomodate everyone.  For the most part, it’s a matter of having enough computers.  You know, since it’s a hands-on event, it’s important that everyone has something to put their hands on.

Taking another look at the sessions, I’m more than satisfied with the number and variety that we’re able to offer.  From the important basics of using MS Office apps, to exciting multimedia strategies like digital storytelling and podcasting, to cutting edge web tools and cell phones…I think we’re covering a wide spectrum.  Participants should be able to get what they need and want!

NECC Session: It’s in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cellphones

NECC Program Description

I didn’t attend Liz Kolb‘s cell phone session, partly because it was a hands-on session (and packed) and my cell phone doesn’t do much and also because I invited her to present at our TechCamp event in August. I heard a gal in front of me yesterday practically giddy about Liz’s presentation, so I’m really looking forward to TechCamp!

So now I’m sitting in Hall Davidson’s session…I can listen and not have to participate with my worthless phone since we’re in an auditorium. Hall is always entertaining and I’m sure I’ll be able to snag a few bits of information from him.

If you have a cell phone, you have a…

  • Telephone
  • Text Messenger
  • Still Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Video Viewer
  • Podcaster
  • GPS
  • Music Player

There really shouldn’t be a discussion on “should we ban phones?” That really shouldn’t be a question…they are here! Parents are ultimately the ones who are determining if kids are going to have phones…they can monitor what their kids are up to in a number of ways. They love that! So cell phones aren’t going anywhere…

Cell phones sound a lot like the way things were when the web showed up…”this thing won’t take off!” There are 3.3 billion working cell phones on the planet…that’s half the world’s population! Who has them? Tons in the third world…who forbids them? The Taliban and your local high school.

What can you do with a cell phone?

  • Watch live IP security cameras from anywhere
  • Create and upload videos…so post a video to Youtube of yourself giving instructions to the sub…post updates of news and events
  • Send video messages out to the community…like a voice message alert system

What else? You can call Jott and convert a voice message to text. For example, call in and Jott to email, blogs, twitter, etc. Another option is to translate languages…if you can go from voice to text, and you can go from text to translation, then you can go from voice to translation.

Gcast is a free service that allows users to call in their podcasts…basically sharing voicemails online with anyone. Of course you can subscribe to the updates via an RSS reader or podcast aggregator. Another choice is to call the teacher’s Gcast account to leave an answer to a question…sweet.

If you want to get some information use PollEverywhere. Participants can text their responses in and we can watch the responses in real time. The graph is extremely interactive…kind of makes some of the response systems used in schools now obsolete…well, unnecessary. PollEverywhere lets you export responses into Excel…nice. You can also text in messages and they drop right into the screen…right now. Very sweet for collaboration…everyone can put in their two cents. This is probably one of the best applications I’ve seen so far this week.

Where can we go from here. Hall suggests that teachers can find relevant, important uses for cellphones and has challenged everyone to be ready to try out new applications and strategies for using these interactive peices of hardware.

NECC Session: Energize Your Classroom with Google Tools

NECC Program Description

I thought I might go to Will Richardson’s session, but I think it basically is covering how to use Ustream, so I thought I’d skip over to my other choice. Since it’s being facilitated by a couple folks from Google, they should have some inside information…or at least the latest and greatest and perhaps what’s coming along the pike.

So far, they’re just sharing some of the justification of using Google’s
applications…their “cloud” of data and tools. It’s kind of
dry…they’re addressing a different audience than they might at other
times. Teachers want to see the tools and what they do/how they work.
I think, also, that they jumped around to talk about Google Apps when
I’m not sure if everyone is aware of this program.

Cristin highlighted the use of Google Sites as a tool for centralizing collaborative work. She talked a bit about Arizona State University and how they moved to using Google Apps exclusively…the benefit being that Google can innovate at a rate much, much higher than ASU, or most institutions can. By using Google Apps, educators and students are on the cusp of productivity.

As a tool, Google Docs provides some advantages over a traditional desktop model. For one, the tool is always there…no one has to worry about software installation and licenses. Another advantage…the content doesn’t get lost…it saves automatically as students are working and Google has just a few back-ups!

Teacher’s using Google Docs can be shared as a viewer and therefore can assess student work online…sorting files, adding comments, and watching the document history. A great way to avoid wasted paper and move onine!

It’s unfortunate that thinks are moving along so slowly…probably everyone is this room already knows what Google Docs is and have used it in various ways. Examples and direct application would be more relevant. Cristin and Andrew need to take it to the next level!

The Forms tool in Spreadsheets are probably not as well known…however, I wish they would have done this in real time. How about sharing the document with some of the audience so we can participate? There needs to be more energy! What about a look into the future?

NECC Session…Moodle Magic: Tricks for Enhanced Course Design

This first BYOL session was turning away participants half an hour before it started…

NECC Program Description

MoodleMichelle Moore has always done a great job presenting about Moodle.  Today’s session, focusing on design and layout of courses, should really have some great tips and suggestions.  As she is starting, I see that the way Janine and I have designed our professional development courses follows her suggestions closely.  Here are some tips…some are Moodle tips and some fall into basic web design.

  • Don’t write too much in Moodle’s topic heading…just a few words.  The topic heading shows up in the navigation menus, so if there are several sentences it clogs up the navigation.
  • Use Headings instead of simply making the font bigger…it helps with accessibility.
  • Separate content by adding labels and indenting items.
  • Consistency is important!

Michelle highlighted a course module called Book.  Book is like creating a web page, but breaks the page up over several screens.  Navigation is built in, you can search the text, and there’s a print feature.  Pretty cool!  I’ll have to install that on our server.  She went through the process of creating a book…very easy.

Many teachers post PowerPoint presentations…Michelle suggested that the PowerPoint be converted to a Flash file.  That alleviates the problem of students needing PP or downloading the file, or something else that might be a problem.

Here’s another sweet module…Audio Recorder.  The Audio Recorder acts like an assignment.  Students record up to 4 minutes of audio right in Moodle and then the teacher can review that just as if it were another type of assignment.

Another potential module…SPDC Portfolio.

As people ask questions, Michelle has begun to wander away from the topic.  I know that’s very easy to do, I’ve done it myself during presentations.  However, now it’s kind of becoming a Moodle free-for-all.  That’s the way it goes!  The session was very well received.  Obviously, I took away a few nuggets as well.  That Book module looks really good…and recording audio right in Moodle?  Wow!

On the way to NECC…

It’s kind of obligatory to post something as you’re in route to your conference destination, so I’ll throw a few thoughts in. I’m offline now using a blogging tool called Performancing. It pops up a little frame at the bottom of my Firefox window and in theory I could drag and drop items from the web page above into my post. Since I’m not going to pay for what I can get free at McDonald’s, I’ll post this once I’m able.

I’m looking forward to Michelle Moore’s presentation which I believe is tomorrow morning. I can’t remember what it’s called…Making Moodle Exciting or something similar..basically highlighting ways to spice up Moodle courses with both visual and content-oriented tricks. She’s pretty entertaining and definately knows the ins and outs of Moodle.

I received an invitation to preview Inspiration‘s new online version…they’re having multiple preview sessions, I think I signed up for a session Tuesday morning. Whatever they’re calling their online version hopefully will be pretty good…good enough to make someone want to stop using some of the free tools like bubbl.us, Gliffy, MindMeister, or Mindomo. How much will they charge?

I’m trying to member what other sessions I put into my conference planner…featured sessions from Hall Davidson, David Warfield, and others. I want to see what’s going on with streaming video projects using Ustream and others. I think there will be a couple vendors in the area. Got an email from VoiceThread announcing they’re participation, so that’s cool. The big companies are fun to visit, but the smaller guys are better to talk with…more productive!

News Flash…something’s going on with the flight…it’s delayed. I’d better poke my head up and figure out what’s going on.

TechCamp Spotlight: Ben Rimes…will you Read, Please?

SpotlightIt’s not that I don’t think Ben Rimes isn’t going to read this post, but that Read, Please is the title of one of the two sessions he’ll be leading at TechCamp in August.  It’s great to have Ben at TechCamp…he’s a world-famous blogger as well as a local teacher and all-around super guy.  In addition, (if that wasn’t enough), Ben is on the MACUL Board and has been instrumental in setting up both the conference blog and the MACUL Space NING group.  He’s very busy!!

As I mentioned in the first sentence, Ben will be leading a session entitled Read, Please which will focus on literacy.  Here’s the description:

From software that reads text to learners to websites that have interactive stories and reading practice, get hands on time with simple tools to help emergent and struggling readers. Websites to improve fluency, vowel sounds, and make voice recordings will be explored. Early elementary teachers will benefit from this session.

Ben’s experience in the classroom and around the state will make this session worth seeing!

TechCamp Starting Lineup…check out the schedule

With two months to go, the schedule for the first annual TechCamp is in place.  It seems a lot closer than two months since I’ll be off most of July, but it’s good to have the peices ready to fall together.  Rather than trying to fit everything in a narrow column, it would be best to go visit the TechCamp Wiki to see the At-a-Glance sheet of session choices.

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