Thursday, October 21, 2010

Apple Announcements: And what they mean for educators.

Steve Jobs hosted a press conference yesterday for a few new Apple announcements. What were the announcements and what do they mean for education?

iLife 11 was up first with a demo of iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband. iWeb and iDVD are still a part of the suite but not demoed. I am little surprised iDVD is hanging on.


  • A richer and more robust full screen mode. Not only does iPhoto have this feature but it looks as if it will be in more and more products and a part of the 10.7 Lion framework. I believe this will allow for more focus. Concentrating on the application at hand and not all the other windows and email popups that seem to distract while working on a project. For students like me who may be somewhat attention deficit, this is a great idea!

  • Easier printing of books/cards. Just the idea of creating books and cards is exciting. Students will move beyond memorizing to actually creating something useful with their knowledge. Imaging being able to create books on the civil war or the 50 states. Creating a book on character traits or creating cards for thank you's and other special occasions.

  • Slideshows - faces and places - creative ways to create learning opportunities using the maps theme. Imagine timeline and geography based stories and historical events and the ability to create custom slideshows to demonstrate knowledge and share with parents and the community.

  • Integration with Social Networks - View comments and track what people are saying about photo images and slideshows right within iPhoto. Post your photos on Flickr and see what the world has to say without ever having to leave iPhoto.


  • Themes for Digital Storytelling - Movie trailers, sports and news themes and more. The possibilities here are endless! Movie trailers have storyboards to help students learn about action shots, close-ups, medium shots and a slew of other techniques to better tell their story.

  • Face recognition within iMovie - Quickly traverse your saved video to find shots with one, two, or more people.

  • Sharing with the world - easily share with social networks and mobile devices.


  • Learning to play the piano and guitar - new lessons that have video of the person playing, the keyboard/fretboard, and the notes to play. Full immersion into the learning environment.

  • New feature - "How did I play?" for immediate feedback. Track over time in a game-like environment that keeps track of your progress.

Macintosh OS X 10.7 - Lion

I found the features announced somewhat exciting. I like to see they are taking the successful features of the mobile technologies and interfacing them with the desktop/laptop environment.

  • Facetime - Working with mobile devices. Can you imagine being on a field trip and having the students pull out their iPod Touches and sharing their findings and asking questions of experts around the globe?

  • Mac App Store - ease of install for teachers! The easier to install software, the better! Period!

  • Launchpad - Organize your apps how you think and work. This is a great feature that I think many classrooms could take advantage of. Put all your reading apps on one screen. All your math apps on another. All the apps for 2nd graders here. For 5th grade there.

  • Mission Control - Find your hidden window/app/widgets. Where oh where did it go? One stop shopping to find all the stuff you have worked on all day!

  • Auto-save -  Need I say more? This along with Timemachine should help any teacher who has ever been frustrated by loosing important documents or time writing lessons.

  • Auto-resume - Open an app to the place and work you were doing right when you last used it. Seems only logical. When I leave my desk at the end of the day, it still has the same things I was working on when I arrive the next morning!

Macbook Air

The announcement of the Macbook Air ushered in a few new features but more than that, it killed some technologies.

  • Death of hard drives - We are moving away from hard drives. Flash or solid state memory is the future of storage. That in conjunction with storage in the cloud will round out a robust storage solution in the future.

  • Death of optical media - The OS comes on a write-protected tiny flash drive. Software will come in the way of downloads. Videos and pictures will be shared in the cloud. CDs and DVDs are dead. (That's why I was surprised to see iDVD was still a part of the iLife suite.)

  • Death of the mouse button - Multi gesture mice and pads seem to be the theme here. Limited function mice will no longer be needed.

  • Tiny - The compact size still offers a full keyboard and trackpad yet is lightweight and very portable.

  • Camera, keyboard, full OS X, expansion options - it's not an iPad with a keyboard. It still has all the functionality of a full laptop. Only better! With USB, Bluetooth, Wi-fi and more, the only thing I see missing is built-in cellular connectivity.

  • Battery Life - I LOVE the battery life of the iPad. Can use it for days without having to plug it in. We are now getting to that point with the laptop. You can't have enough battery life so when they tout this to run 7 hours of active use and 30 days of standby time, that is great to hear. It will be a boon to computing in schools if the device can last all day or several days of active use.

  • Price - I felt the last version of the Macbook Air was a little too pricey. Dropping below $1000 is a much needed price point for schools. I hope this drops even more in the future. Better, faster, more durable, cheaper!

Overall - nicely done Apple.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Top Five and Why: Tech Tools for Teachers

I recently posted a list of Top Tech Tools for Teachers that I believe are useful for all teachers. In going through this list and receiving feedback from others, it is clear that it can be overwhelming, especially for busy teachers just starting in the Education Technology arena. So my goal in this post is to offer my "Top Five and Why". It was a very tough choice picking only five. There are so many great tools for teachers available on the Internet and the list I compiled is minimal to say the least. So my choices here are based on a combination of experience working with teachers, research in the form of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the Horizon Report K-12 Edition, and collaboration with peers in the ed tech community.

Number One - Google Docs

By far, this is the number one tool I would suggest to teachers. Google Docs is a web-based suite of tools (word processing, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and drawing)  that has extremely powerful collaborative and sharing capabilities entrenched in its design. With an array of creative uses, Docs provides teachers these tools to be more efficient in managing their classroom, collaborating on school improvement meeting minutes or managing grades and lesson plans. As a classroom tool, there are countless 21st century projects a teacher can facilitate through many available projects and templates within Google Docs.

Another reason Google Docs is first in my list is when looking through lists of other great tools, Docs has many of these other features built-in. For example, not only can you use the regular productivity software but you can also upload and share your own files eliminating the need for a service like Dropbox. You can also use pages/spreadsheets/presentations as web pages for other projects, agendas and what not. There are just so many great things about putting these tools in the cloud (on the Internet) that I can't describe them all here.

Take a Docs TourWhat's NewDocs for Educators

Number Two - WordPress

One of my professional missions is to ensure that every teacher has a web presence. It is so important that this tool is available to communicate with their students, parents, and the community. It provides teachers a platform to share what they are doing in the classroom and share student work with a more relevant, authentic conduit. It also provides a means for two-way communication from parents and community members genuinely interested in the success of our future leaders. WordPress floats to the top of my list because of its ability to easily generate great looking, dynamic sites including web pages, blogs, and a host of other features designed for effective communications. It's a flexible tool for teachers just starting out or the most tech savvy educators.

Number Three - Diigo

The Internet is a vast land of seemingly endless information. As a facilitator of learning, teachers need a tool to collect useful web gems . The amount of websites teachers collect for any given curriculum is daunting enough. On top of that, sharing these gems so all students have access can be frustrating to say the least. The answer is social bookmarking. Diigo is a powerful bookmarking engine able to share links anytime, anywhere. Bookmarks are organized how we think, using tags. The social side allows us to share links and updates with other teachers in the same field. Diigo steps up the social bookmarking game by providing a tool to annotate websites; highlighting sections, making comments, and more. Lastly, another feature of Diigo allows for group and classroom interaction and discussion. This is one tool that would be hard to live without.

Diigo Educator AccountsSocial Bookmarks in Plain English

Number Four - Twitter

Social Networking is all the buzz right now. It's cool, if not necessary, to have a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you have one already for sharing pictures with family, getting a new recipe from a friend, meeting up at a reunion, or just sending messages. (Goodbye email?) But why does this have importance as an educator?  I see three main reasons teachers need a Twitter account: 1) Building a network of like-minded professionals in your field. Having others to lean on for ideas or support. 2) Self-directed professional development. There are so many resources shared on Twitter and this is a great social filter, letting your colleagues decide what is good and what is not. 3) Communication with students and parents. Teachers use this tool to share upcoming announcements, homework, tests, sports scores and more.  It is a great way to use the tools our students are already using and leverage the power of social media. As a friend on Twitter said to me, "Twitter is what you make of it - if you follow other educators and people with like interests, you learn from each other and can get some amazing resources and ideas. You are who you follow!"

Twitter for EducatorsTwitter for Teachers Wiki

Number Five - Skype

The world is flat. And the classroom should be too. Skype is an invaluable tool to break down the walls of the classroom and transport your students to any part of the world. This video conferencing software runs on Macs or PCs (and even mobiles) and is a great cross-platform communication software for anyone with an Internet connection. The possibilities of going global are endless - from virtual field trips to connecting with scientists, authors and more. You can share your screen with other classrooms or having a parent or community member join your class. Only your creativity will limit the use of this invaluable tool.

50 Uses of Skype the ClassroomUsing Skype at School for Dummies

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Building Capacity

In working with Tech Integration Specialists today were talking about how powerful self-discovery is in getting teachers to work with new technologies. I have worked through this process with several schools using the Learning Cycle (borrowed from the Microsoft Building 21st Century Schools curriculum) and have successfully introduced many new projects and technologies to educators throughout the state.

The process includes the following:

  • Introduction

  • Challenge

  • Initial Thoughts

  • Resources

  • Revised Thinking

  • Group Work

  • Closing

Here is an example of the outline I used with Broken Bow teachers: Building 21st Century Schools

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top Tech Tools for Teachers

This is a list I compiled for my wife and her new job as a learning coach. I also ran across this "Web 2.0 Resources for Teachers" that is quite useful.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


To be successful today and into the future we all KNOW everyone needs 21st century skills. But why? What concrete examples lead me to believe "my" job needs global awareness? Financial literacy? Why do I need communication and collaboration skills as a janitor? What is the purpose of learning creativity and innovation skills when all I do is answer the phone?

So my question to you is: Why should a <insert title here> have to acquire 21st century skills?

Titles may include: Custodian, Grounds Keeper, Secretary, Programmer, Videographer, Helpdesk Support, Program Coordinators, Directors, Therapists, Technicians, etc.

To me, it is not a matter of title but a way of thinking. We can move from convergent thinking to divergent thinking about the everyday way we do our job. With knowledge of 21st century skills we can think of different more effective ways to do our jobs in a manner suitable for this generation.

Image by
Used under direction of Creative Commons Licensing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obsolete Technologies

Here are a couple of articles a colleague (Mrs. Coover) shared with me yesterday. Will be fun to look back in 20 years and say, "I remember when..."

Animation-ish for TLW

I had the opportunity to showcase Animation-ish to our ESU Learning Web teams. This is a wonderful piece of software that can be used in any curricular area. Kids will have so much fun with it you won't be able to pull them away from the computer! Here is a link to the website I used as an outline:

Animation-Ish Splash Screen Logo

Friday, April 9, 2010

Google Docs Viewer

You can use Google Docs Viewer to display PDFs, PowerPoints, or TIFF files in an online viewer so your audience does not have to download the file and have a third party view to display your files. You only need to put your files in an accessible place on the Internet. Once you have the URL for your file, visit to generate the code you need.  Here is an example of a PDF I have created.

View Podcast Planning Table

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What is your favorite EdTech blog?

Some great blogs people suggested when I asked on Twitter and Facebook:

I also have some that I use in my Wordpress workshop. You can find them here:

Please share others!