Today I had my first video conference. Sure, I have participated in numerous video conferences – but this one was hosted and scheduled in Byron. I did not have to travel anywhere and fight the traffic or weather. I walked across the hall and was immediately connected with 6-8 entities across the state. From Moorhead to Mankato, St. Paul to Wilmar – I was very engaged with this method of of communication!
So now the wheels (in my head) are turning. I think we can start using this technology by doing some virtual field trips. I also like the added benefit of being able to record and stream the technology for a later date. Skype is a great alternative, but without QOS, I am not sure how well a 6-10 participant video conference would work. How cool would it be for our HS Anatomy class to partake in a live knee replacement surgery? How about our Zoology class being able to connect with people in the Minnesota Zoo? What about our Government classes being able to connect with court judges or even State Representatives LIVE in St Paul. All of these things are possible and the technology is here to make it happen! Stay tuned…
Right now our district uses Microsoft Office 2003. This summer we will be gearing up for an Office 2007 upgrade. In the mean time, we have had many students that have Office 2007 at home. For students that email or want to open files on our computers, we need to install a compatibility pack. This will allow us to open, view, and save 2007 Word, Excel, or Power Point files. That compatibility pack is available free from Microsoft and you can download it by clicking here or copy and pasting this link (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en) into Internet Explorer! You MUST use Internet Explorer to download this file!
If you need more assistance you can watch me install it by clicking this screencast!
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has created a nice little data site for kids called the NCES Kid Zone. Check out the graphing tools on this site! Students are able to design, (2d and 3d graphs!), label, and print or save the graphs in multiple formats. They will even store the graph for 30 days and email you the link! (click the link and then click preview the graph) What a great global collaborative tool! This graph is only meant to demo the tool – so note the data is not accurate!
Are you looking to learn a little more about Web 2.0 technology. This month Atomic Learning is providing free training on Web 2.0 on their website. This training was developed by Cool Cat Teacher Blog creator Viki Davis.
Click Web 2.0 workshop and participate and learn:
- Web 2.0 terminology
- Blog basics (like what it is, how to read a blog, how to comment, how to find a license)
- Wiki basics (what is a wiki, parts of a wiki)
- Podcast basics (what is a podcast, how to listen to a podcast)
- Webcast Basics (how to listen to a webcast)
- Social Networking Basics (how to navigate them)
- Tags and Tag Clouds – Uses of tags
- How to set up an RSS Reader (using Netvibes) — this is important
- How to communicate with a group using Netvibes
Here is an interesting graph that talks about 21st century skills and student outcomes. If you would like to learn more, just click on the graph!
Last week I demo’d to our teachers how to download videos from TeacherTube. We use a great Firefox add on called Unplug. Then we can download the video to our desktops. Problem with that is the file format is an FLV file – which isnt importable by many applications like powerpoint or smart notebook. There is a website called Zamzar that will convert these files into an array of other formats. Check it out! I have also included the tipsheet with this blog. Zamzar can also convert music, documents, and graphics to a wide variety of formats. Teachertube to AVI (pdf)
Today I had a few minutes to do a little catch-up on our good old friend Google. I was lead to their blog and found a cool example of a mashup. The site is called earthquake.googlemashups.com and it basically mashes (or combines) data from a richter scale application with Google maps. Pretty cool!
Most people know that technology is my passion. I love to read about it, talk about it, and most of all implement it into my daily routine. As I look at the past 10 years of educational technology in Byron Public Schools, we have come a LONG way. When properly used and implemented – technology can be a wonderful thing and almost becomes invisible to all of our communications, actions, and integrations. But when technology goes wrong, it can go very wrong and be very bad, bad, bad. It is amazing what one corrupt IOS (Internetwork Operating System) in a core switch can do to an entire system.
The Bears Professional Growth Academy is now over and it was a huge success. We had 95 people attend and accumulated 836 hours of professional development time from our 18 different sessions.
The techs have developed a Wiki! It is pretty amazing how one can organize a “to do” list using this type of technology. If you are interested in seeing it – check it out here! http://jenhegna.pbwiki.com/
Today was the first day of workshops during our week long Bears Professional Growth Academy. We really had a great “round 1” of sessions. In our opening (virtual) keynote, “Preparing students for the new economy – A candid discussion about education in the 21st century”, Dr. Scott McLeod provided us with an impressive overview of where public education is heading (or as the research shows – not heading). My wheels are turning and the message was pretty clear – crystal that is. My next steps – get the word out, share, collaborate, discuss and most of all get the ball rolling! Stay tuned, you will be inundated with the message!
After the keynote, our staff learned how to use our new online computer/technology training system – Infosource. Through an E2T2 grant with the South East Service Coop, our access to this learning management system will help accomplish one common goal between all of our districts – Develop expanded 24/7 educational opportunities for teachers and staff. (How 21st century is that???)
My afternoon session, “Podcasting in the Classroom”, was also well received. Even though this technology is new to Byron teachers, I believe podcasting (whether subscribing to content or creating your own) will provide an extra resource to our classrooms and community.
I have to admit, I am very empowered by Byron staff. They are an extremely talented group! Some may feel a little apprehensive about the “tech stuff” – but for those leaders (yes you are all leaders in my eyes) to walk through my door is a giant step in the right direction!