Monday, December 13, 2010

Create Your Own Comic Book

If you have ever dreamed of creating your own superhero comic, now's your chance. With Thursday's release of "Comic Life 2," Plasq is giving comic book geeks the tools to build their own comics with the ability to import photos and upload the finished product to Facebook. The new version includes "smart shape" and free-form drawing tools, as well as a slew of new templates that users can customize at will. According to the manufacturer's website, "With a comprehensive set of features, Comic Life 2 gives you numerous ways to explore your creativity - liven up holiday snaps, tell a story, even create how-to guides!" 

At $29.95, the program is a steal. For a special time, they're offering a $9.95 upgrade and a free trial if you're new to the program. NOTE: Requires Mac OS X 10.4+

Improve Classroom Technology Use

According to a recent article in eSchool News, during a recent Consortium for School Networking webinar on technology in schools education leaders were encouraged to hire technology-integration specialists who could help teachers use classroom technology to improve teaching and learning. The webinar, entitled “Bridging the Chasm Between Curriculum & Technology,” featured a panel of four superintendents and educational technology directors from across the country who shed light on what adding more technology in the classroom has done for their students. Panelists also encouraged educators to use various digital resources -- such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs -- and to include education-technology directors in curriculum planning. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

IUP Takes Students on Virtual Archaeology Dig

Indiana University of Pennsylvania has carved out a virtual dig for its archaeology students in Second Life. Archaeology Island is the creation of Beverly Chiarulli, associate professor and director of IUP Archaeological Services, and Scott Moore, associate professor of history. In the IUP Second Life world, students can explore accurate re-creations of a Mayan pyramid, a Native American village, ruins in Cyprus and a sunken ship. Students can see re-created versions of what structures that are now in ruins once looked like. Images of artifacts have been scanned and can be viewed in 3-D. They can even take a virtual dive around the shipwreck.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

iPad Projects in Higher Education

iPad pilots are permeating higher education. Two of the latest announcements involve institutions in Texas and Canada, both of which are running tests projects that put the Apple tablet devices into the hands of their students.

At CDI College, a career college with several locations in Canada, both nursing and business students have been equipped with iPads that hold electronic course textbooks and a suite of educational Web-based instructional portals. In a statement the college explained that it targeted those students for the initiative especially because the program will help them develop their skills for using technology in the workplace.
"The iPads have WiFi capabilities that allow learners to study, take e-notes, and review course materials not only in the classroom and on campus, but anywhere, any time," said Bohdan Bilan, vice president of academics. "As a result, students will become comfortable and familiar with technology as a tool for education and healthcare services."

Review of Portfolios in Higher Education

An article in Campus Technology reports that the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning ( conducted a survey of its 100 institutional members in five countries this year regarding their use of portfolios. A portfolio is (almost always, now) a digital repository that is used to develop reflective and integrative critical thinking skills. The organization found 61 distinct uses of portfolios among the 20 institutions that responded. When so many people become this inventive with a technology, we can assume the technology has been institutionalized. At the same time, the number of vendors providing portfolio products is now at 30-40 world wide, a large number for a technology and market that is not yet mature and may not be for years to come.

Many of the reported uses stressed the value of students learning to communicate in writing about their work. One chemistry major program required all undergraduate majors use portfolios to demonstrate their research skills by collecting evidence of their work in the portfolio and analyzing results in writing within the portfolio. A program in social geography uses its portfolio requirement to develop project-working skills in its students. Another program in fashion apparel design use portfolios in a more traditional way: collecting photos of various stages of the design.

Many of the institutions reported adding a course in portfolio course specifically tasked with integrating knowledge from the various courses in the program. Others introduced a capstone or culminating portfolio requirement, encouraging students to integrate and synthesize their work over the full program.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Project-based Learning in the Classroom

With employers looking for graduates who can communicate effectively, think critically, and solve problems in collaboration with other team members, more and more schools are looking to project-based learning as a way to better prepare students for these demands. Besides helping students develop the same 21st-century skills that employers covet, project-based learning also helps students retain the information they learn, proponents of the approach say--and it engages students' interest and motivates them to learn. 

With the generous support of The Alan Sitomer BookJam published by Recorded Books K-12, eSchool News has assembled a collection of stories from their archives that exemplify  how teachers are implementing project-based learning effectively in their classrooms.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time to Apply for Projects: Flat Classroom, Digiteen, NetGenEd

Cool Cat Teacher (Vicki Davis) posted the following on November 29: 

For those of you who follow these projects and may want to participate. Here are the upcoming deadlines for applications. If you apply - watch your email because part of the acceptance process is to see that you are responsive and involved - otherwise you're not ready for this yet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NCATE Panel Calls for Turning Teacher Education "Upside Down"

A national blue ribbon panel convened last year by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) last week called for teacher education to be "turned upside down" by revamping programs to make clinical practice the centerpiece of the curriculum. The panel also recommended that teacher education institutions and school districts partner and make teacher education more of a shared responsibility. Eight states—California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee—have already agreed to implement the panel’s recommendations and will work with national experts to pilot approaches to implementation and bring new models of clinical preparation to scale.

“The new approaches will involve significant policy and procedural changes in both the state higher education and P–12 education systems and entail revamping longstanding policies and practices that are no longer suited to today's needs. The changes called for will require state higher education officials, governors, and state P–12 commissioner leadership working together to remove policy barriers and create policy supports for the new vision of teacher education,” says the NCATE press release on the panel’s recommendations.

Read the recommendations of the NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning.

Using Web 2.0 in Your Classroom

I've written a number of posts on the use of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and Facebook in education. Despite many IT barriers, usage tends to be greater in the K-12 arena, but higher education has also seen a rise in use.

One particularly useful resource is the Web 2.0:  New Tools, New Schools and the companion book, Web 2.0 How-to for Educators, published by International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  The first is more of an overview and best-practices manual, whereas the second is a directed guide on how to use the tools in your classroom. Both are written by a professor of education and a technology in education specialist.

From the ISTE website:
NEWTOOWhat can Web 2.0 tools offer educators? Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and their use in the classroom and in professional development. Topics include blogging as a natural tool for writing instruction, wikis and their role in project collaboration, podcasting as a useful means of presenting information and ideas, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development. Also included are a discussion of Web 2.0 safety and security issues and a look toward the future of the Web 2.0 movement. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools is essential reading for teachers, administrators, technology coordinators, and teacher educators.

And regarding Web 2.0 How-to for Educators,
HOW2NSWeb 2.0 How-To for Educators explores the very best online collaborative tools available today (including blogs, wikis, and social networking) and Web 2.0 applications (Skype, Google Earth, Wordle, and more) that make a difference in education. Using a simple formula for each concept, the book describes what the tool is, when teachers should use it, why it is useful, who is using it, how you can use the tool, and where you can find additional resources. Practical examples from educators around the world offer an abundance of ideas, and the recommendations for further information and comprehensive lists of Web 2.0 tools and applications will be valuable resources as you integrate Web 2.0 technology in your classroom.

Table of Contents
Read excerpt

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Social Media as Teaching Tool

A Chicago-area English teacher is using social media to help interest his high-school students in literature and reading. Chuck Moore uses PBworks and edmodo, which both offer free social networks for students to collaborate and discuss assignments. Moore's students use the Internet to further their understanding of books and social networking to discuss books online. "It's like what they're used to doing when they socialize with each other," Moore said. The SouthtownStar (Chicago)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Integrating wikis into lessons to improve learning

High-school technology-integration specialist Andrew Marcinek offers suggestions in this blog post for reviving students' interest in learning. Marcinek set up a wiki for his English 101 class and outlined a new set of classroom expectations that included reminding students to have fun with assignments and encouraging them to collaborate, share and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Marcinek's blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Middle School Students Share What Learned in Blogs

Students at a Pittsburgh-area middle school are blogging about what they learn during lessons in science, art and other subjects as part of an effort to make 21st-century skills part of the classroom. "The power of classroom blogging is that students are not merely writing to their teachers, what they think the teacher wants to read, and only for a grade," one educational consultant said. "They are writing with the knowledge that at least their classmates will be reading what they are writing and responding to what they are writing." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Child-driven Education TED talk

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."
"Education-as-usual assumes that kids are empty vessels who need to be sat down in a room and filled with curricular content. Dr. Mitra's experiments prove that wrong." Linux Journal

Monday, November 15, 2010

Notes from my iPad

I am trying something new. To celebrate my finishing my dissertation and earning my Ph.D., my husband bought me an iPad. Today I am stuck in the doctor's office, so I'm using the time to explore the possibilities. Since I don't have a smartphone, I'm still learning to use the keyboard, but so far it is really user-friendly. It is so much better than my husband's Blackberry keyboard. I typed my notes for this post and then e-mailed them to me. Worked great!

I can see several uses in the classroom already. My nephew has trouble writing on paper and currently carries around a special device that let's him type out his answers. It is limited in that it only types one line at a time and he can't write long responses or see what he has written previously. But using the iPAd, he could do so much more. The portability is another plus. The iPad actually weighs less and easily fits into his book bag. It looks just like one of his books, which helps him fit in. I can see how his teacher might be able to upload his worksheets to Google Docs or Zoho so he could complete the actual worksheet and turn it in.

The notes app would allow students to type their notes in class rather than writing them on notebook paper. Many kids type faster on their phones than they write. They could access the Internet to find information to supplement class discussions. They could use different educational apps to help them learn a new concept or to practice/reinforce what they learn. I found one iPhone app developed by eduweb  called SpaceWalking that allows you to walk through the solar system.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What you should know to write a winning technology grant

A successful grant writer for four Alabama districts provides six tips for successfully securing technology grants. Lana Bellew suggests avoiding grants that might not be useful for the school or district, researching available grants and finding ones that match schools' needs, studying those who have won the grants in the past, creating a calendar to keep track of upcoming grants, taking a grant-writing class and understanding that it could take several months to write a grant proposal and receive a response. T.H.E. Journal

Are schools' firewalls too restrictive of Internet content?

Many teachers say they are frustrated by school firewalls that limit the Internet content available to students and educators. John Norton, co-founder of the Teacher Leaders Network, posted portions of a recent online discussion in which educators said firewalls have prevented them from accessing useful teaching resources and learning tools, such as Skype, Twitter and YouTube. However, one administrator also noted that the firewalls are there for a reason -- to protect students. Teacher Magazine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New technology plan released for the nation's schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan released the final version of the National Education Technology Plan. The plan, which emphasizes the role of the department as a facilitator, is focused on enhancing academic instruction through Internet-based learning, a decreased emphasis on "seat time" and a preference for more flexibility. The document also includes plans to fund the creation of open-source resources for schools and online professional learning communities for teachers, among other initiatives. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (11/9) , T.H.E. Journal

Mashpee High uses computer wizardry to teach technology

Students in Sal Nocella's gaming design class are learning about 3D animation and creating video games in high-tech classes that focus on STEM fields. "The best way to say it is that we're taking theory and applying it," one teacher said. For example, in a 3D animation class, students must first measure objects and use math to create 3D computer images. Though the ultimate goal is creating a fun distraction, inherent in the game are somewhat complicated equations and calculations. In this case, students used an X and Y axis to graph the robot's movements, while in other applications they might use equations to calculate the size of an object they want to turn into a 3D computer image. An added bonus to using the state-of-the-art software Nocella provides his students is that, come college or career, they'll already be entrenched in a field that's exploding in Massachusetts and elsewhere. "This is where the jobs are," he said. "This is how to compete with the global economy." Cape Cod Times (Mass.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Use wikis to enhance students' vocabulary

Wikis can be used to improve students' vocabulary, educator and technology specialist Patrick Ledesma writes in this blog post. He suggests having students research and write definitions on a class wiki in a way that will be "understandable to their friends" instead of simply rewriting definitions. Students can also include graphics and pictures to illustrate their understanding of the terms. He also says teachers can allow students to develop a wiki with common class vocabulary words that students can reference for review and practice for standardized tests. Teachers can also give students practice with synonyms by having them tag the pages. Finally, he suggests that teachers have students use graphic organizers to help them design their vocabulary pages. Teacher Magazine/Leading from the Classroom blog

'Stealth Assessment' Turns to Video Games to Measure Thinking Skills

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that researchers at Florida State University are using video games to test students without them knowing as a way to administer so-called "stealth assessments." Officials say the games are a low-pressure way for educators to observe students and gather information about how they learn and what higher-order thinking skills they have. "The idea of stealth assessment is really to make it merge into the fabric of the learning environment," one researcher said.

Example of Embedding Zoho Document in Blog

This is an example of a table I created using Zoho Writer and then embedded into a blog post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning better on 3D "patients"

Medical teaching software (such as iMedic,a program program creates a 3D X-ray that allows doctors to examine the body from every angle) exemplifies how the video gaming industry has penetrated academia. The Washington Post reported that several video game companies have switched from the entertainment industry to focus solely on what they call "serious games." Breakaway Games, just outside of Baltimore, has been developing training games for the last three years. Their clients include the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and the Medical College of Georgia. 
"The sentiment to use games in learning has always existed," said Ben Sawyer, president of Digitalmill and co-founder of the Serious Games Initiative and one of its offshoots, the Games for Health Project. Flight simulators, computerized war games and practice space stations have been used for decades to train pilots, soldiers and astronauts. "What's changing drastically now is the capability to inject much more robust and usable applications in the form of video games and computer simulations into these environments like never before." 
At the University of Maryland Medical Center, Gyusung Lee, assistant professor of surgery, oversees a research project with similar goals but different means. In the lab where iMedic is run, Lee employs motion-capture technology -- used to create "Madden Football" and "The Lord of the Rings"-- to study the movements of experienced surgeons. A platform that functions like a large Wii Fit board captures a surgeon's every move. A vest and motion sensors are attached to the surgeon's body and arms. Video game developers use this method to record the movements of football and basketball players in creating a library of motions from which gamers can choose. 

First Graders Using Facebook as a Learning Tool

A first-grade teacher in Iowa is using Facebook as a teaching tool and a way to update parents about what students are doing in school. The class has its own Facebook page and, after a lesson, a student posts a status update on what students have "learned and why it's important," a fellow teacher said. The class updates its status two to three times a day, and parents and other students often respond to the posts. The Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Does collaborative work offer students an opportunity for bullying?

Group work in the classroom teaches students to collaborate, but some say it may offer a prime opportunity for bullying, education blogger Sarah Garland writes in this post. In a recent interview, Williams College professor Susan Engel argued in favor of collaborative learning, which she says helps prepare students for projects in the workplace. Author Katharine Beals disagreed, arguing that group activities -- especially those that lack constant supervision -- offer a venue for bullies to target vulnerable students. The Hechinger Report/EarlyStories blog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New iPhone app is designed to teach fractions through motion

A new iPhone app called Motion Math is aimed at helping elementary-school students better understand fractions through a game that uses the phone's motion sensors. Motion Math is based on the notion of embodied cognition, which the developers say will help students develop a visceral understanding of fractions. The Wall Street Journal/Digits blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are you not maximizing your Interactive Whiteboard?

According to teacher Patrick Ledesma, many educators are not be using their interactive whiteboards to their full potential.  To make the most of the technology, he suggests writing important class notes on an interactive whiteboard and using its software to convert notes to a PDF that can be shared online and elsewhere. This system will allow teachers and students greater access to the material, and teachers can share the notes with peers. Finally, Ledesma suggests that teachers use their whiteboards to create videos of their lessons. Teacher Magazine/Leading from the Classroom blog

Blogging helps students transition to middle school

A New York school is helping sixth-graders transition to middle school and relieve anxiety by allowing them to blog and take photos of their experiences. The blogging is part of a new documentary class, which allows them to share their thoughts on the first day of school, tests and more. The class culminates with a video message from the students to the next group of sixth-graders. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (N.Y.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

7 social-media sites for teachers

Mashable is recommending seven free social-media tools for teachers, including EDU 2.0, which is similar to Blackboard and Moodle, and an organizational tool called SymbalooEDU that allows teachers to store their work and share it with others. Two recommended blogging sites are Edublogs, which allows students and teachers to create blogs, and Kidblog, which is a simple platform that is good for younger users. Mashable (10/16)

More Learning Resources from Mashable:

- The Case For Social Media in Schools
- HOW TO: Help Your Child Set Up a Blog
- 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- 10 Essential Tips for Building Your Small Biz Team

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goals for EDU271

Reflective teaching means looking at what we do in the classroom (either f2f or online), thinking about why we do it, and thinking about whether it works and why or why not. It is a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. By collecting information about what goes on in the classroom and by analyzing and evaluating this information, we can identify and explore our own practices and underlying beliefs. This may then lead to changes and improvements in our teaching.  

I began teaching an online course in Educational Technology last week. One of the assignments is to maintain a reflective blog. My students are required to post a minimum of four times/week. Their first post is to include their goals for this course. Since this is the first time I have taught this course, I feel that the reflective practice will also help me as a teacher. Therefore, I intend to follow the blogging assignment I have given my students.

My goals for this course:
  • To provide the information my students need to develop an understanding of how technology fits into their teaching practice. 
  • To help my students develop the skills necessary to apply this information and knowledge when it is needed. 
  • To allow my students the freedom to find things out for themselves. 
  • To guide my students to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world they live in.
How I want my students to interact
I want my students to collaborate as often as possible. I want them to be able to ask each other questions and make demands on each others' thinking. I want my them to not only challenge but also support each other in their educational journey. I also want them to have an open mind when it comes to their peers' opinions and feedback. I want my students to question--to ask why? and how? I want my students not to be afraid to take risks--to understand that failure is not "bad". I want my students to persevere and not give up in the face of adversity. I want them to examine themselves and their assumptions about teaching and learning. I want them to enjoy this course.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Purdue Develops New App Syncs Students in Facebook

A team at Purdue University has developed a new application that lets its students create online study groups and participate in them within Facebook. The program also lets users sync and share documents via Dropbox. Mixable was created by some of the same people who released HotSeat last year, an application that lets students text during their class and have their messages viewed by other participants in that class.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to Overcome Glitches When Teaching with Technology

Technical glitches such as frozen computers and unsaved or lost work are among the inevitable frustrations of integrating technology into the classroom, high-school technology-integration specialist Andrew Marcinek writes in this blog post. Some "technology fails" can be prevented with careful planning, but others must just be overcome by perseverance and a willingness to adapt, adjust and learn through trial and error, he writes.

Educators Learn About Benefits of Technology

Over 400 educators and administrators from schools across the country, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, attended a conference Saturday in New Jersey to help them learn hands-on skills for incorporating social media and other technology into classroom lessons and lesson planning. "I used to be the principal that banned everything, blocked everything, and the change for me was when I became educated on how different people were using technology effectively," one administrator said. The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) (10/3)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Students create, collaborate using Google Apps for Education

A Colorado teacher is using Google Apps for Education to allow her students to create online portfolios and complete projects online. The program also allows students and teachers to view students' work and provide feedback. "I just talked to a kindergarten teacher yesterday who's ready to get kids on Google Apps," the district education-technology specialist said. "The demand is huge, and it seems to be meeting a need in this 21st-century learning environment."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Overcoming Glitches When Teaching With Technology

Technical glitches such as frozen computers and unsaved or lost work are among the inevitable frustrations of integrating technology into the classroom, high-school technology-integration specialist Andrew Marcinek writes in this blog post. Some "technology fails" can be prevented with careful planning, but others must just be overcome by perseverance and a willingness to adapt, adjust and learn through trial and error, he writes. Marcinek's blog (9/24)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Communication Tools for Online Teachers

Online teachers say that students view e-mail as archaic, and although it is still a good way for teachers to communicate, many virtual students prefer instant messaging, videoconferencing and social networking. Experts say calling or texting students is often the best way to communicate with students. "The phone is all about delivering the message that I care about you [the student], and let's learn together, and let me facilitate learning your way," one teacher said. Virtual teachers also are making use of blogs and wikis, but experts say those methods have the potential to be ineffective when it comes to reaching out to students. Education Week (9/22)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Readin' and writin' and iPads

The principal of a Pennsylvania middle school is proposing a two-year pilot program that would have six teachers and about 120 students using iPad tablet computers in the classroom. "With the iPad, our students would be able to jump on at any point to do a quick search or even use apps pertinent to what they are learning," Principal David Muench said, adding that the devices could also cut classroom-material costs. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monday, August 23, 2010


DimensionM is an immersive video game world that engages students in the instruction and learning of mathematics. Important learning objectives are covered through a series of missions that bring math into a world that today's students understand. Students become so captivated in solving problems that they forget they're learning but they don't forget what they've learned. Research with  demonstrates how well these programs align with the way today's students learn and how naturally immersed students become in their learning. The result is increased student motivation, increased time on task, and the application of learning to real world situations.

Calculation Nation

Calculation Nation is a free, easy to use, mathematics game site, offering Serious Games for most K-12 students. Calculation Nation offers students the opportunity to practice their mathematics skills individually or in a head-to-head format playing against other students. For parents and teachers, Calculation Nation offers suggestions for using Calculation Nation.

Calculation Nation™ uses the power of the Web to let students challenge opponents from anywhere in the world. At the same time, students are able to challenge themselves by investigating significant mathematical content and practicing fundamental skills. The element of competition adds an extra layer of excitement.

The National Council of Teacher’s of Mathematics (NCTM) hired Interactive Knowledge (IK) to design a system for middle school students to play math-related online games against live opponents. The site features five online games and a customized game room where thousands of students can challenge one another to test their math skills. Before going live, Calculation Nation was tested by hundreds of math teacher’s during NCTM’s annual conference held in April 2009.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teacher Uses Web 2.0 Tools to Manage AP English Assignments

Andrew Marcinek, a high-school teacher is using Google, wikispaces, blogs and other tools to help track the progress of his Advanced Placement English students as they read a novel (1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose), answer questions and keep a journal over the summer. In his blog post, Marcinek writes that he had his students create blogs on the Wikispace, and he was able to post assignments onto the wiki using Google Calendar. Students respond to the assignments on their blogs. Marcinek's blog (7/26) 

  • Google Voice 
  • Google Calendar 
  • Blogger 
  • Wikispaces Process

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Interactive lecture: How to Engage Students and Deepen Comprehension

Harvey F. Silver and Matthew J. Perini, joint authors of best-selling books on education, have recently developed a new Strategic Teacher PLC Guide focused on the Interactive Lecture. Their latest professional-development tool teaches educators how to improve their students' abilities to think actively about the content of a lecture and lock the critical information in their memories. It explores how teachers can plan and evaluate lessons, as well as review and utilize the student work that results.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

iPad as Educational Tool

Envision Schools founder Bob Lenz, fresh from a conference on innovation and technology in education, considers in this blog post the role the iPad and other new technology will play in the future of student learning. Lenz sees the iPad -- in perhaps its next generation -- as a low-cost way to expand student access to books, research and other media and envisions a time when teachers may create apps instead of paper handouts or assignments posted on the Web.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Elluminate Wins Silver for Best Advance in Technology for Virtual Classroom, Training, or Conferencing

Elluminate, Inc., the leading provider of web, audio, video, and social networking solutions for 21st century education and training, won a coveted Brandon Hall silver award for technology excellence in the Best Advance in Technology for Virtual Classroom, Training, or Conferencing category.  Elluminate’s win was announced on Thursday, April 29.  For a complete list of winners, visit

The Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Technology Awards are presented by Brandon Hall Research, one of the leading research firms in training and development.  The Learning Technology Awards program showcases innovations in the products in the marketplace for creating and managing learning, talent, and performance.  The entries were evaluated by independent judges around the world.

Flagship product Elluminate Live!® was evaluated on the basis of features and functionality, ease of use, and unique differentiators.  A virtual environment optimized for learning, Elluminate Live! enables teachers and learners to interact and collaborate in real time to add synchronous content to asynchronous distance learning or combine blended online/onsite learning activities, all while reducing travel-related costs.

“These outstanding tools and systems propel the learning profession forward,” said Brandon Hall, Ph.D., chairman of the Awards program.  “These innovative products let customers make learning faster, better, and easier.”

“Receiving this prestigious award validates Elluminate’s strengths in the eLearning, online collaboration, and web conferencing arena,” said Elluminate President Maurice Heiblum.  “For almost a decade, Elluminate has focused on the needs of educators and learners.  Our unique approach facilitates instant communication, continuous collaboration, and learning that is accessible, personal, and meaningful.”

About Brandon Hall Research
Brandon Hall, Ph.D. is the CEO of Brandon Hall Research and author of the ground-breaking “Web-Based Training Cookbook.” Since 1992, Brandon Hall Research ( has been providing independent research reports and expert advice on using technology in learning. Brandon Hall Research conducts Awards programs each year to recognize the best in innovative learning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

VenueGEN offers 3D virtual meetings

For those of us looking at replicating the feel of a face-to-face meeting as much as possible, VenueGEN’s new app might be the key. Instead of focusing on shared content—as with current web-conferencing apps such as Elluminate and Adobe Connect—VenueGEN seeks to develop immersive, engaging shared experiences.  The controls are aimed at replicating the real-world experience of sitting in a meeting room along with the unique online experience of sharing onscreen presentations and having private back-channel conversations while watching a public presentation. According to Rafe Needham from CNET, “Webex features include screen-sharing, markup tools, text chatting, and the like. Virtual screens (movie screens, TVs, and laptops) in the virtual space are used for sharing computer imagery.”

The program is built on a gaming platform but is definitely not a game or a virtual world like Second Life. VenueGen is a world of 3D rooms including a coffee shop table with 5 seats or even a university lecture hall with 46 seats. inhabited by human-appearing avatars with photo-mapped faces of you and other meeting participants. There are no cameras involved. The 3D avatars automatically start moving their lips when participants talk and participants can set their mood (which controls body language and facial expressions).  Positional audio give clues as to where other participants are located and the system tracks where everyone is so your avatar is pointed and “looking” at another person when talking.

VenueGEN boasts a low learning curve for participants—just click on the link in the e-mail. Needham concurred that learning to use the app was simple and fun. However, he also indicated that one of the drawbacks of the program was that setup was tedious and that users have to upload three plain photos of their faces from different angles to get the avatar to resemble them accurately.

VenueGEN is currently only available for the PC—no Mac or mobile versions yet. VenueGEN  says they are in development. Not sure what kind of PC is required for a smooth virtual experience since I use a pretty up-to-date machine.

Right now VenueGEN is offering a 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are based on number of participants in each meeting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Play Games That Give to fight hunger!

Games That GiveTM are now available on The Hunger Site. Play fun, free, classic games and fight hunger at the same time. The more you play, the more funds you raise for the charity partners to help the hungry. There are currently more than 20 games available.

How does it work? Games that GiveTM provide some of the most popular "casual games" of all time. The games contain sponsor advertising, and 70% of that advertising is donated to fight hunger. 

Everybody wins! The Hunger Site's charity partners get funding to help the hungry, sponsors get good advertising, and you get to play fantastic classics like Solitaire, Gems, Snake, Memory, Sudoku, and more. 

Check it out: play to fight hunger today! Don't forget to also click everyday to help fight hunger.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

National Park Service Delivering 3D Underwater Imagery to Students

According to an article published in the latest T.H.E. Journal, camera and monitor company JVC is working with the Denver-based National Park Service Submerged Resources Center (SRC) to create underwater 3D recordings through a partnership with the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory (AIVL) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. SRC performs inventory and evaluation of submerged resources, such as shipwrecks, in the National Park System. 

They are currently working on three projects together that are expected to be released in 2011.
  1. "Alien Invaders," which looks at invasive underwater species found in Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Clark County, NV
  2. Underwater 3D HD footage of the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu
  3. A sample of the underwater wonders in national parks, which will also include specific footage for several visitor centers.
Students love 3D content because it engages them, said Brett Seymour, an AV production specialist with the Park Service. "3D also provides a 'wow' factor, which is great," he said but added that the SRC avoids 3D gimmicks in its videos. "We are using 3D to bring a new dimension to the underwater world of the National Park Service." 

Friday, April 23, 2010

College Students Use Wikipedia for Research

According to a March 16, 2010 posting to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus, more than half of college students frequently use Wikipedia for course-related research. Students were more likely to use Wikipedia at the start of the research process to obtain background information or a summary of the topic--although Wikipedia is used in combination with other information resources. Wikipedia meets the needs of today's college students because it offers a mixture of coverage, currency, convenience, and comprehensibility. Architecture, engineering and science majors were more likely to use Wikipedia, especially if they were frequent users of Google for course-related research. Those at four-year institutions were more likely to use Wikipedia than those enrolled in two-year colleges. Only 16% indicated they used Wikipedia for its wiki capabilities.

These results were originally published in a report published in First Monday, an online peer-reviewed journal. The study surveyed 2,318 students at six different U.S. colleges with 86 focus group responses.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New 3D Technology for Handhelds

Nintendo says it will begin selling a 3D version of the DSi portable within a year, tentatively called Nintendo 3DS. Sharp recently announced that its latest 3D displays (designed for smaller screens on mobile devices) work without 3D glasses. Mass production of the 3D LCDs was set to start earlier this month. Both Sharp and Hitachi (which released 3D-glasses free technology for cell phones last year) both supply LCD screens for Nintendo.

"3-D will really benefit education if it's relevant to the subject -- for example, a 3-D version of the human body for biology, or seeing how a plane flies for physics," noted Kurt Squire, a research scientist at the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab and a co-founder and current director of the Games + Learning + Society Initiative, a group of more than 50 faculty and students investigating game-based learning.. 3D technology paired with games-based learning allow for more interactive learning--a way to engage students using the technology they are familiar with. The key is to making the games curriculum-based that involve more than rote memorization or electronic versions of worksheets.
eSchool News (free registration)  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Access e-learning Tutorials Available Through MERLOT

Georgia Tech's Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) offers a free, online ten-module tutorial that provides information, instructional techniques, and practice labs on how to make the most common needs in distance education accessible for individuals with disabilities and to enhance the usability of online materials for all students. The tutorials were the the 2007 Faculty Development Award winner and are available through MERLOT.

MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed and selected higher education online learning materials catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT's vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy. 

To view a video of the award winning author, go to View Access eLearning - Faculty Development Award Winner 2007 video.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Teacher creates YouTube videos to reinforce math concepts

A first-year math teacher at a Pennsylvania middle school is reinforcing math concepts with his students by creating and posting math videos on YouTube. The irony is that access to the site is blocked on school computers, so students have to watch Tyler Binkley's problem-solving videos at home. "If I don't understand something I go on the Web site, and I stop it and try and do the problem. Then I see how he did it to get the answer," one student said. The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) (2/11) 


Friday, April 9, 2010

Virtual Dissection Offered as Alternative to Dissection in Connecticut Bill

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill to allow students to opt out of dissections during science classes. Some biology teachers say there is no acceptable alternative to the hands-on activity, but some schools allow students to meet the requirement by completing a virtual dissection on a computer or using a model. Policies that offer alternatives are on the books in 13 states.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

3D: The Next Big Wave

The global financial success of James Cameron’s “Avatar” – already the top revenue producing movie of all time – clearly demonstrates that 3D is no longer a fad but big business. How might 3D affect your livelihood, your career, your business? Mark your calendar for Feb. 24. WRAL (NC) Local Tech Wire is assembling a program of global 3D leaders to discuss how the technology is changing the Internet, social media, entertainment, software development, product development, and much more. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Students Learn New Ways to Use Technology to Learn

According to Janet Copenhaver, director of technology for Henry County Schools (VA), 70% of children already own a portable device such as an iPod. Therefore, it is important to teach them how to use these devices to help them with their education. Dictionary and encyclopedia applications already are available, and in some cases, entire textbooks can be loaded onto the tiny device.

John Inman teaches an elective digital input technology class at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School in which students learn new ways to use technology for education or completing school work. Inman said about half the students in his class already owned an iPod Touch when they enrolled, but none of the teachers did. When the middle school received 24 of them to use in the classroom, a representative from Apple taught the teachers to use them during a two-day workshop.

Learning to use new technology in school not only teaches students a new way to learn, but it also prepares them for successful futures, Inman said. “Getting to use an iPod touch in class makes the lessons a lot more fun,” said Logan Huffman one of Inman's students.

Podcasts enhance math learning at Georgia school

Teachers at Georgia's LaFayette High School are enhancing math lessons with technology and helping students take ownership of their learning by asking them to prepare and record podcast lessons to be posted to a Web site and shared with the class. "We used it for an entire unit review," one teacher said. "I gave them a topic -- probability -- and they had to develop a lesson on that particular concept. The next day, we listened to everyone's lesson and critiqued each one." 

The Walker County system's other high school, Ridgeland, has received a grant that will focus on its Honors Academy. With $64,580 from the Georgia Department of Education, the school will buy 120 iPods for advanced placement classes and training for teachers to teach students how to make podcasts.   Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.) (1/26)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Video Games Help Students Learn Math

According to T.H.E. Journal, Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Texas recently expanded the use of the DimensionM educational video games to seven middle schools and 15 charter schools after receiving the results of a summer pilot program to help 350 students who had failed the math portion  of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test 3 or more times. All eighth-graders must pass the TAKS in order to advance to the ninth grade. Ocoee Middle School, in Orange County, FL, was one of Tabula Digita's first clients. Educators and students at Ocoee, a Florida State Demonstration School, have worked closely with all of the DimensionM games and have learned, and taught others, quite a bit. See more of their story by clicking here. Download the Case Study >> CaseStudy_OcoeeMS.pdf

DimensionM™is an immersive video game world that engages students in the instruction and learning of mathematics. Pre-algebra and algebra objectives are covered through a series of missions that bring math into a world that today's students understand. The games are research-based and linked to specific objectives. Download demos to try out this new phenomena.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Using Second Life in Education

You can date in Second Life. You can try out new marketing schemes. You can attend a play at the Globe Theatre. Second Life, an online virtual world, began in 2003 as a place to meet others and socialize. But an increasing number of colleges and universities are embracing it as a tool to reach students raised on computers and video games. Users can create avatars and interact in realistic spaces and communities.

According to an article in the Dallas News, the University of Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, and the Dallas County Community College District all have a presence in Second Life. Students don't necessarily sign up for a course in Second Life, but their professors may incorporate Second Life as an added dimension to the learning environment. Virtual campuses may replicate actual campus buildings or they may offer opportunities/facilities not available on campus. The possibilities are endless. One student even conducted a research project on human behavior in Second Life. One professor was able to bring business processes to life by allowing his students to virtually track an order. One theater major worked on a group project to build a theater and re-create scenes from Shakespeare. Matthew Campbell presented the results of the pilot study at the ascilite Auckland 2009 conference for using Second Life for an ethics course.

The medical field has long been involved in the use of simulations and other interactive programs to allow their students to practice skills. However, instructors are now venturing into the world of Second Life to provide an interactive 3D, participatory experience. According to Discover magazine, students can learn their way around an OR before they enter the real thing in the virtual copy of an operating room or they can test their knowledge in the Virtual Respiratory War--all part of Imperial College London’s virtual hospital. Clinical students at San Jose University can use the Heart Murmur Sim to listen to real cardiac sounds to identify heart murmurs.  Nursing students at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have been able to participate in a postpartum-hemorrhage sim since last January.

The MUVErs Medical Simulation, launched in early 2009 by John Miller, a nursing instructor at Tacoma Community College, involves an avatar patient operating with a set script who is experiencing chest pain and other symptoms. The student must interact with the patient, ask the right questions, and “use” equipment such as IV pumps, defibrillators, and medication to treat the problem. The Nursing Education SIM (NESIM) has been recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nurseweek Magazine, and many other publications and blogs. Check out the these videos on Youtube for a virtual walkthrough.

The program requires students wear a headset with a display similar to those used by pilots, which shows data like the patient’s blood pressure, heart rhythm, and medical history. They can click on objects such as the medication dispenser or the controls of an IV pump, which triggers another  display allowing students to make selections to use the machines. The patient avatar reacts realistically--if a students gives too much medication, the patient will exhibit the appropriate response, such as low blood pressure and shock.

While no studies have emerged about the benefits of using Second Life to educate students, it offers a richer set of resources, often with lower costs than training in a physical space such as an operating room. In addition, creating 3D models/simulations provides users with the opportunity of "treating" diseases and symptoms not often encountered in real life. Instead of purchasing expensive equipment, colleges and universities can have students use virtual versions. Second Life also offers the opportunity of bringing in experts from around the world to speak to students.

Friday, January 8, 2010

3DVinci Offers Resources for Students Creating 3D Designs

3DVinci, a producer of three-dimensional design project materials that blend left-brain analytical skills with right-brain creativity, recently announced the updated version of ModelMetricks, a series of books for ages 8 - 15 that use free software to teach K-12 students to visualize, create, and analyze in 3D. Projects are based on Google SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D design application. ModelMetricks' products help students learn to do 3D design projects for a variety of academic disciplines. The ModelMetricks project-based approach enables new users to create their first designs in SketchUp within a few minutes. The 3DVinci site has a variety of resources for K-12 as well as higher education teachers.

TV makers ready to test depths of market for 3-D

The biggest TV makers (Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, Vizio) began revealing their 3D models Wednesday before the official opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics Co.'s consumer division, said in an interview that 10 to 14 percent of the roughly 35 million TVs sold in the U.S. this year will be 3-D-capable.

Technically speaking, 3D viewing in the home has been possible for the past few years, but there has been no good way to get 3D movies and shows to watch. However, that obstacle was removed recently with plans for a 3D version of the Blu-ray disc. Viewing 3-D discs will require new Blu-ray players that could cost a few hundred dollars, to the possible annoyance of people who invested in regular Blu-ray players in the past several years. However, PlayStation 3 owners are in luck: Sony says that a free software upgrade will enable them to play 3D movies.

ESPN and Direct-TV recently announced they plans for 3D channels. Toshiba and Samsung aren't waiting for 3D programming. Instead, they indicated that their TVs will be able to convert 2D to 3D on the fly. Toshiba plans roll out a new line of five TVs this year that will perform the 2D to 3D conversion in a separate box with a powerful processor similar to one used in the Sony PlayStation 3.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ESPN to launch 3D network in June

USA Today reports that ESPN is going 3D. The sports network will launch ESPN 3D on June 11 with a World Cup soccer match, creating what it says will be the first all three-dimensional television network to the home.

ESPN 3D expects to showcase at least 85 live sporting events during the first year. There'll be no reruns initially, so the network will be dark when there's no 3D event. Among other events planned for 3D broadcast: the Summer X Games (extreme sports), NBA games, college basketball and college football. ESPN, which is part of Disney, has been testing 3D for more than two years.

Of course, as with all cutting edge technology, there will be challenges. Consumers will have to upgrade their TVs and may have to pay premium prices. There are reports that DirecTV will also launch a 3D channel.  Read the entire article here.