Visitors to eSchool News Online now are privy to a very special society. The Ed-Tech Insider is the name of an educator blog community dedicated to putting the promise of technology into practice. The site features nine ed-tech professionals so passionate about enhancing learning through technology that they’ve agreed to share their expertise in an ongoing dialog with eSN Online readers.

Here’s a taste of some of the best Ed-Tech Insider posts in recent weeks. All of these posts are still active, so if you want to comment on any of them, simply visit the site to do so.

From “Thinking Like a Blogger”
“…People who blog with any semblance of consistency will tell you that the practice does much to improve their writing and communication skills. … As a journalism and exposition teacher for 20 years, it’s a tool I wish I could have offered to my students all along. But the reason I think everyone should be a blogger for at least some meaningful period of time is not so much about the writing as it is about the thinking. When you really deconstruct it, true blogging is a genre that requires a great deal of critical thinking skills before the writing even occurs. I would argue that thinking like a blogger is more important that writing like one. … I’m a big proponent for using blogs in the classroom for a variety of purposes, from class portal to online filing cabinet. But I’m most passionate about getting kids to blog, the verb. It’s a process that teaches them how to think critically about the information they consume…”

From “Music Publishing on the Web”
“… When most people think of music publishing and the internet, they think of MP3 files being shared or purchased over the net. In this case I’m talking about publishing music using music notation software such as Sibelius. … At Lewis Elementary School in Portland, our music teacher, Tony Jamesbarry, uses this software as he prepares songs for classroom use and arrangements for his band students. Recently Tony has been working with the internet publishing options of Sibelius. One option utilizes a browser plug-in that allows for anyone to view, play, transpose, and print the music he publishes. We plan to create a catalog of songs that will be used at all grade levels, allowing our classroom teachers to extend the music work that takes place in Mr. Jamesbarry’s classroom and bring it to our regular classrooms, and also allow access for students and families from home…”

From “My browser of choice — Firefox”
” … Three reasons given for the current interest in Firefox are security, tabs, and similarity [between] Mac and Windows versions. These are three good reasons to make the switch … All our new installations include Firefox as our primary browser, even though we still install Internet Explorer and Safari. There are several other reasons to switch to Firefox. It seems to be faster in most situations. You can place several bookmarks in a folder in the toolbar and open them all up into seperate tabs at one time–a nice way to start out the day opening those sites you check daily. Firefox also has support for RSS feeds, allowing you to monitor blogs and news sources (including the eSchool News RSS feed) through your ‘favorites’ or bookmarks…”

From “Simple Cell Phone Edu-Skills”
“… There’s no doubt that one of the next revolutions in classroom technology will occur right in your pocket–the cell phone that you and many (if not most) of your students pack around with them. A few weeks ago, eSchool News wrote a great introductory article on how cell phones are beginning to be used. But I think the real change will occur as more and more of the ‘typical services’ that we rely on in the current web-based format are ported over to be cellphone-accessible. One of the best examples I know of is the Google SMS service (www.google.com/sms). … The upshot with Google SMS is that it allows you to send a text message to Google to answer some pretty interesting queries. For instance, if you need to find a phone number, simply type a name and the city and state of a person whose number you want to know and send a text message to the number 46645 (GOOGL on most phones), and you’ll get the number texted back to you (as long as it’s publicly available). Google claims you’ll get your result back in a minute or so–and I’ve found it really works…”