Tag: tools (page 2 of 6)

Two New Tools Poised for Big Impact in BISD

Much of my existence at work at the moment is preoccupied with the implementation of two new tools. The first is a subscription-based school website service, Schoolwires. The second is a new student email service from Microsoft, Live@Edu. Both tools hold a great deal of promise for facilitating and enhancing communication within the district and beyond. The task for my own department at the moment is to provide support and training for the implementation of each and to provide guidance for the most effective use of both tools. I’ll be sharing more about the latter topic in the weeks ahead, undoubtedly.

For those unfamiliar with these tools, a brief synopsis is in order. I’ll begin with Schoolwires, as it has been my primary focus for the past month or so. At its most basic level, Schoolwires is providing our district with an online website-construction platform. Our users can login from any Internet-connected computer and edit their designated sites. The interface is relatively simple to learn, with many of the familiar, Windows-esque icons found in typical Office applications. Teachers can easily add text, links, images, videos, etc. Feedback has been almost universally positive, particularly from a convenience standpoint. In addition to basic content, what has me most excited about the service is that teachers can easily incorporate several Web 2.0 tools in their sites. Schoolwires has a tool for creating blog pages, for instance. This tool is very simple and streamlined, and includes capabilities to moderate discussions or to allow only specific categories of users to view posts (teachers, parents, students, etc.). Additionally, teachers can very quickly and easily add podcasts to a dedicated page, complete with buttons to subscribe via RSS or iTunes. RSS icons appear on other pages, as well, such as assignments pages and class calendars. Using these types of tools has been much more labor-intensive or required using sites outside of the classroom pages previously used in the district, so the potential is there for much greater implementation and impact.

Microsoft’s Live@Edu is a relatively new, free (yes, free…from Microsoft!) service from the company. Although I referred to it as a student email service, that really sells the product short. In addition to email, Live@Edu provides students with online versions of Office applications, which can be used collaboratively, similar to Google Docs or Zoho. Also, students each have 26 gigs of online storage, eliminating the need for thumb drives or burning work to CDs. Files may be private, public, or shared. These features hold great promise for making learning collaborative and anytime, anywhere experiences. It should be mentioned that Live@Edu works with our existing Microsoft Exchange service, meaning that updating accounts will be faster and easier than with previous tools we’ve tried. We will be continuing to refine our district standards for the use of the tools, and I will share these refinements as they come about. At the moment, we will be focusing on equipping teachers and students to utilize the Live@Edu tools in the most effective ways possible. Suggestions are, as always, very welcome!

Cool Tools Duel: Dean Shareski & Alec Couros

Here is the live blog listing the sites/tools shared at the TCEA Region 7 Conference last Friday.

  • 3:42 PM: rrodgers Shareski: CoolIris
  • 3:43 PM: rrodgers Couros: presenti.io
  • 3:44 PM: rrodgers includes conferencing (audio and chat) features
  • 3:45 PM: rrodgers Couros: Skitch
  • 3:46 PM: rrodgers Shareski: Picnik
  • 3:49 PM: rrodgers Shareski: Jing Project
  • 3:51 PM: rrodgers Couros: ScreenCastle
  • 3:53 PM: rrodgers Couros: EverNote
  • 3:56 PM: rrodgers Shareski: Doodle (meeting scheduler)
  • 4:00 PM: rrodgers Shareski: Google mobile
  • 4:00 PM: rrodgers Couros: Qik
  • 4:06 PM: rrodgers Couros: Tinychat
  • 4:07 PM: rrodgers Rodgers (guest dueler): Glogster, Voki
  • 4:07 PM: rrodgers Shareski: geoGreeting (Uses Google maps mashup to create text from building images)
  • 4:09 PM: rrodgers Couros: Greasemonkey addon for Firefox (shared Twitter Google search, Flickr attribution scripts)
  • 4:12 PM: rrodgers Couros: type “pwn” before YouTube link to be able to download vids
  • 4:14 PM: rrodgers Shareski: Tubechop (cut out parts of vids)
  • 4:17 PM: rrodgers Shareski: blip.fm (my kryptonite)
  • 4:19 PM: rrodgers Couros: Hulu
  • 4:20 PM: rrodgers Couros: Polleverywhere

2008-2009 Technology Integration Progress Report

report cardThe 2008-2009 school year saw some exciting developments in the use of technology in Birdville schools, and there are increasing signs that many teachers and administrators here no longer view technology as an exciting addition, but as a critical necessity. Among other trends, the district witnessed explosive growth in the number of students enrolled in online courses. A new digital media system will make storing and retrieval of digital content faster and accessible from any Internet-connected computer. Video is gaining momentum rapidly, as more campuses add webcams and small, portable video cameras to the arsenals of teachers and students.

Web 2.0 tools also continue their steady infiltration of the day-to-day activities of students, teachers, and administrators. Our department launched a very successful program to educate administrators on a wide variety of educational technologies this year. Called Lunch and Learn, the program offered short (1 hour) introductions to technology over a gourmet lunch (usually pizza). The response was very positive, and plans are under way to continue the program next year.

The 12 Second Tech Challenge was started on a whim as an effort to encourage reluctant teachers to try new tools in short bursts. I offered the challenges (and possible prizes, such as web cams, graphics tablets, wireless presenter mice, etc.) to my own campuses, and I received excellent participation and feedback asking for more. I am hopeful that the project will be a district-wide offering next year.

Numerous Web 2.0 tools have gained a significant foothold in the teaching practices of our district campuses. Blogging and wikis continue to have a significant impact. Two campuses, for instance, established student news sites using Edublogs. Students published researched stories, conducted interviews, reported on school events, and incorporated videos of campus events. Twitter is beginning to be utilized in exciting ways. As examples, a middle school teacher (Twitter name foxworth) utilized the tool to communicate news and course information to students and parents. Several campuses, such as Birdville High School and Holiday Heights Elementary, are using Twitter to broadcast campus events and announcements to parents and the community. Ustream was used by the technology department, campuses, and several teachers to stream class and district events, training, and more. The availability of YouTube in the district let teachers and students access powerful educational videos and, even more exciting, to create and share their own work with a global audience. Communication tools, such as Skype, Dimdim, and Mebeam allowed classes to collaborate with other students in distant locations and teachers to attend training (see below) from the comfort of their classrooms.

Student creativity was encouraged through the use of online tools such as Glogster, Animoto, and VoiceThread. Online office applications began to be utilized, with tools such as Google Forms showing particular promise for conducting surveys, gathering data, assessing student progress, etc. The online quiz tool MyStudiyo gained a following among teachers who incorporated the interactive products into class websites and blogs.

The list could certainly go on, but this gives a good, general view of some of the exciting ways teachers and administrators have taken to the use of Web-based instructional tools in the district. Were I to create a “grade” for our progress, I’d give us a solid B+. Our faculties are showing tremendous creativity and enthusiasm, but the utilization of technology needs to see continued growth in the coming year. Far too many of our classrooms are still the domain of well-intended but out-dated practices, resources, and curriculums. The encouraging thing to witness is the fire that is spreading from small sparks of innovation, and the potential exists for a blaze of 21st Century teaching and learning to engulf the classrooms of our district.

Final BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge (#13) for the Year!

Lucky 13! The final installment of this semester’s 12 Second Tech Challenges focuses on a very useful tool, the Google Forms tool.


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #13 on 12seconds.tv

You will need to create a Google account, if you don’t already have one (and you really should). The video below shows you how it works. You could create a student or parent survey, an online test/quiz, or whatever. Be sure to share the link to the survey in your comment. (I will give you 2 credits for this if you actually administer it!)

Thank you guys for trying so many new tools! I will announce the winners of the big prizes next Wednesday!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #11!

We’re getting down to crunch time. The big prizes will be announced next week, but for now, intrinsic motivation will have to do! For today’s challenge, you’ll need to create your own blog, using the site Posterous.com. Now, before you click back to the Cartoon Network site just yet, hear me out for a second.


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #11 on 12seconds.tv

Posterous is a site I recently shared that allows users to post using just an email message, even one that includes pictures or videos. You can even read and reply to comments via email. Accounts are free, of course, and you can blog about anything you like to talk about: family, sports, work, children, movies, food, etc. I want you to see how addictive they can be, and the best way to ensure that is to write about what you know and care about. Just be sure to share your blog’s address here once it’s set up!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #9!

This one is a little different. The next few challenges will revolve around creativity tools. For starters, the challenge is to try out the site Storyblender and create a narrated/animated scene or video. This site is a blast to use, and the creative possibilities are many! It is so fun, you might just want to be creative with your spring break photos and videos! So, give it a try, and, as always, post a link to your creation here when you are finished. Have a safe and happy spring break!

Test of Scribblelive at TCEA

I just sat in on a session at TCEA and thought I’d use the opportunity to try out this new live blogging site. The blog is embedded below. I need to do some more playing with the site to form a complete opinion, but my first impression is that is is easier to use than the grand-daddy of live blogging sites, Coveritlive. I can’t speak for the feature set, though, but I’ll try to give more information as I work with it.

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