Online enviroments in education

Yesterday, I was quite impressed with Carl Anderson’s presentation of “Online Virtual Environments in Education” at SEMTEC’s Techspo in Stewartville, MN. He used a program called Active World and built virtual 3d webquests. It was truly and AWESOME project and I think that kids are going to enjoy it immensely as it has much of the “video gaming” feel. We need to investigate this technology more as we look at the future – not only curriculum delivery but an alternative method of professional development. It is definitely a head turner. Thanks Carl!

I Got IT!

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…

Compatability with Office 2007

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 (  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!

Cool Graphing Tool!

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!

My Demo Graph

Free Web 2.0 training from Atomic Learning (November only)

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

Online Conversion Utility – Web2.0 at its best!

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’s Tech – UFTA!

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.

As one week ends, another begins…

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!