Saturday, September 15, 2007

Animoto-- you have to try it!

Upload pictures, select music, and let animoto put together a very cool slideshow. A free account let's you create a 30 second presentation. Full length videos require a subscription. Here's a quote from their "about us" page:

Animoto Productions is a bunch of techies and film/tv producers who decided to lock themselves in a room together and nerd out.

Their first release is Animoto, a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos using their own patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting started with RSS

Here are some links to get you started with RSS:

Create your own FREE account on this well known RSS aggregator

RSS Compendium:
You'll find at least a few things of interest to add to your Bloglines feeds here

Will Richardson's RSS quick start guide:
The best guide I've seen for getting started with RSS.

Will Richardon's RSS Wiki:
Will has posted many RSS links on his handout wiki site.

RSS: The next killer app for education:
This article was published over 4 years ago, but it has a few nice examples on the relevance of RSS to education.

Using Bloglines:
An excellent tutorial from the betterdays blog by Preetam Rai of Singapore. Print this out and refer to it when you're getting started on Bloglines.

My Bloglines feeds:

Spam Scam Alert!

Don't be fooled by an invitation to join the Quechup social network! It's a scam! Here's a screen shot of the email I received. I have no idea who the person is who supposedly invited me, but even if I did, that doesn't mean it is legit. Identities and email addresses are easily spoofed by the phishers
...for more details

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More about Elluminate vRoom

Here's a link to an interesting article on how schools are using Elluminate vRoom for distance learning:

The article points out that distance learning has been around awhile, but typically schools invest in dedicated rooms with videoconferencing equipment, speakers, microphones, etc. or in portable videoconferencing equipment. In my opinion, a solution like Elluminate is better because with very little additional hardware (a webcam and/or microphone) students and teachers can participate in a variety of online field trips, webinars, meetings, and collaborative projects, whether it's in a computer lab, or at one workstation, with or without a webcam, with no additional software to purchase. Sessions can be recorded and replayed later for review, or for absent students.

We are using a new electronic gradebook in our county this fall. I'm hoping I can use my Elluminate vRoom to have several webinars with teachers at their convenience without either of us having to drive. And because I can share or remotely control applications, the sessions can still be interactive.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to roll out this "paradigm shift" in PD.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gamer Revolution

By accident I came across a very well done documentary on video games on CBC. Gamer Revolution. Here's the companion website:

This program will be repeated on September 13 at 8 PM. Set your VCR, Tivo, or DVR. You have GOT to see this program!

I am not a gamer, except for my minimal skills on our Nintendo Wii. I was dumbfounded by how huge this industry is! In Japan and Korea the best gamers are as well known as rock stars or athletes in this country. And although the average "career" of these elite gamers is only about 6 years, in Korea they are actively recruited by the banking industry to be stock traders. In the United States gamers are recruited by the Army!

Here's a quote from the website: "The U.S. military developed America's Army as a recruitment tool. It was released in July 2002. Since then it has been downloaded by 8 million players in 60 countries and updated 23 times. There have been 3 billion player rounds and nearly 200 million player hours have been logged. Approximately 150,000 new accounts are created each month. Only two years after the game launched, the U.S. met its recruitment goals."

This show is fascinating! It's a must see! I've already emailed CBC to see if this outstanding documentary is available on DVD. Here's a promo video:

Blogger has a new button!

I just noticed the upload video button today. Here's a Photo Story I created a couple of years ago after attending the NSBA conference in Denver.

This is a lot easier than uploading to YouTube or Google Video!

Guinea pigs needed

Have you seen Elluminate yet? WOW! Good stuff! Expensive, but good! They offer a free "vRoom" that allows up to 3 simultaneous users to have a free online conference or "webinar."

Since one of my goals this year is to get PD 2.0 up and running around these parts, I'm asking for volunteers (aka guinea pigs) to test out my very own Elluminate vRoom.

If you're interested, please leave a comment or email me at dornberg at misd dot com. We'll set up a time and I'll send you a link to my vRoom.


Drum Corps International

Lucky for me, before heading up to bed last night I hit the guide button on the DVR one last time and noticed that ESPN2 was broadcasting the Drum Corps International (DCI) championship recorded last month at the Rose Bowl. The 2 hour program featured highlights of the top 12 corps from around the country, including the Toledo Glassmen, just down the road from me.

I remember watching DCI on PBS back in the mid 70's when it was broadcast live for about 4 hours. I think it's one of the reasons I became a band director. The music, the rhythm, the visuals were all so amazing and exciting even back then. I think I even have a record album of some of my favorite corps some place.

I had not seen a DCI championship on TV in several years. I used to record it and show it to my own marching band students. As a matter of fact, my former school actually hosted an overnight stay for one of the corps featured on TV, the Colts, when they competed in Toledo several years ago.

If you have never seen DCI, you've got to check out their website, and also a new site that will be premiering this fall, . Even better, see if ESPN2 will be airing the championship again some time.

I could probably take the time to draw all kinds of comparisons to what these 16-21 year old students are doing and Daniel Pink's Whole New Mind (and maybe I will in a future post), but instead I want to reflect on how complex the music and marching drills have become since the 1970's due in great part to the availability of computer software. I only had a marching band of about 30 or so students, so I never invested in the drill writing software, but I played around with a demo version enough to realize how powerful it was. It is possible to animate formations not only for the entire band, but also for individual marchers. You could change the perspective of the animation to see what the drill looked like from lower or higher bleachers. What a great teaching/visualization tool!

My point in saying all of this is that the band directors and corps directors who decided to use this software made a financial and personal investment that was no doubt daunting at first. There were a lot of computer crashes and lost files and hours and hours of time spent in front of the computer screen. But the end result is an art form that has opened up new possibilities that weren't "humanly" possible before the software came along. There are band directors who still do their charting the old fashioned way and do great things with their students. But the most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, wow-inducing marching drills are created in the "2.0" mode of drill design.

The same can be said for a lot of the new technology tools available to today's classroom teachers. Lots of hours spent figuring the things out, maybe some lost files or computer crashes, maybe even a financial commitment to new hardware or peripherals. There are plenty of excellent teachers who have decided not to pursue any of these new tools for those very reasons. But the ones who have decided to push the envelope with their students will reap the rewards just as the drum corps have. There are so many more possibilities that weren't humanly possible just a few years ago.

The conversation continues

Jeff Utecht has continued the discussion he and David Warlick started a few days ago. I was pleased to see that he also appreciates the same quote from Stephen Downes that I cited here the other day. He went on to include this terrific observation that I also would like to cite here for me to remember:
It’s not about Web 2.0 it’s about learning! It’s about changing the way we all learn and then as good teachers do take those skills and teach others. If our teachers are still learning in traditional ways they will continue to teach in traditional ways. However if you’ve ever been with a teacher that has learned these new literacy skills, who has embraced them and seen their power like all of us, then they teach them to their students.

Haven't you heard or even said "Teachers teach the way they were taught." ??? So unless we somehow move forward and try something new, we'll be stuck in the 20th century. Not that there's anything wrong with that, unless you consider that we will continue to reach fewer and fewer students.

It's not about blogging, it's about writing or conversing. It's not about creating podcasts or digital videos, it's about telling a story. It's not about RSS, it's about listening to voices around the world. It's a new way to engage students that didn't exist just a few years ago.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I love this quote...

...from Stephen Downes:

"When I speak to teachers these days, I don't tell them how to improve the way they teach their students. I talk to them about how they can improve the way they teach themselves."

Stephen's quote is what I've been trying to convey myself at various times on this blog, that before teachers can use new Web 2.0 technologies with their students, they have to be comfortable with them and understand their potential for themselves.

You can read Stephen's entire post here. It's Stephen's response to a post by Gary Stager responding to David Warlick responding to Jeff Utecht. Confused yet?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Teachable moment

Have your students read and debate this story:

It involves a man who was arrested for not showing his receipt when exiting a Circuit City store. Be sure to find the links to the 500 or so comments that were posted before he finally turned commenting off.

In our heightened sense of security since 9/11, have we given up our civil rights too easily? Do stores have the right to presume we are "guily until proven innocent"? It's very easy to see both sides on this issue. Is there a right or wrong answer to this debate?

This sounds familiar...

Here's something I read on the Slashdot blog:
"I work in a retirement/assisted living home. Many of the residents had never used the Internet but really find it fascinating once they are given a little training. However, I've stopped introducing it to them because of the drain it puts on me. There are a million and one things that a computer novice can screw up, and I don't have time to solve all of them. These folks don't need any sophistication. and they need only the most basic options. Adjustable text size would be nice, but otherwise — no email, no word processing or editing, no printing — just Internet browsing. This may not seem like a big market, but it's getting bigger every day! Is there an absolutely fool-proof device that can provide this without requiring virus scanners and constant attention?"

Substitute "school" for "retirement/assisted living home" and "teachers" for "residents" and I think I can understand what so many tech directors struggle with in providing access, filtering, virus protection, etc.

Read the responses to the post here:

I'm getting very, very angry!

Please read Andy Carvin's recent blog post in which he responds to a article by Mathew Honan. Also read Wes Fryer's response. I'll wait...

Now, are you as mad as I am??? Then please send an electronic letter to the editor of Wired here:

In my own letter, I pointed out the irony that Mr. Honan is being a cyberbully as he makes fun of the cyberbullying website (and the other 5 social networking sites for that matter). He will no doubt defend himself by saying he was "just kidding" as so many other cyberbullies have.

Sigh... Has cyberbullying become so pervasive, and "normal" that now even mainstream media has joined in the "fun"???? Is it any wonder that schools and teachers don't want to waste their time to have to deal with this crap and are just not allowing students to access the Internet?

Now more than ever, we need to take the time to educate our students on how serious this problem is. We can't ignore it, or block it and hope it will go away.

Read just one tragic story on . Here's a very brief excerpt:

"I believe bullying through technology has the effect of accelerating and amplifying the hurt to levels that will probably result in a rise in teen suicide rates."

Now go write that letter to the editor. Maybe Wired will do a story on cyberbullying if enough of us respond.