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.

TOM HOFFMAN–An educational software developer, Hoffman has worked as a teacher and technology coordinator in Providence, R.I. He manages an open-source software project called SchoolTool.

From “Magic iMovie: Almost as Convenient as VHS!”

“Apple users have had some fun over the past day, poring over the company’s many new and upcoming offerings. I’ll just note one thing I discovered that should be useful for schools: a feature of the upcoming iMovie HD called ‘Magic iMovie.’

“While iMovie has made video editing easier than ever for schools, I have found that teachers sometimes pine for the good old days of VHS camcorders, particularly for simple documentary tasks, like using one camera to tape a lesson, science lab, or basketball game. Before, they could just pop the tape out of the camcorder and into a VCR. Now, they either have to connect the digital video camera to a monitor, which can be inconvenient, especially if they don’t always have access to the school’s camera–or they can go through the whole process of importing video, creating a simple iMovie and then burning a DVD, which is a lot, if all they want is a portable and conveniently viewable copy of the videotape.

“Now, iMovie automates the process of turning a basic, linear videotape into a digital movie:

” ‘For this feat of prestidigitation, you don’t have to say “abracadabra” or wave a magic wand. You just have to connect your video camera to your Mac and sit back. iMovie HD takes care of the rest, automatically creating a movie for you. Unassisted, iMovie HD automatically rewinds the tape in your camcorder and imports all your video. After placing each clip on the Timeline, it assembles your movie from start to finish. And iMovie gives you plenty of options for your magical movie title. At your direction, iMovie HD will automatically insert a custom title, assign transitions, include chapter markers and add a soundtrack for you, selecting music from your iTunes library…'”

WILL RICHARDSON–Creator of weblogg-ed.com, a leading resource for the use of blogs in education, Richardson is the supervisor of instructional technology at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, N.J.

From “Web of connections”

“I’m constantly amazed at the move toward ‘social’ software on the internet, not so much because it’s happening (people by nature, I think, like to connect), but in the creative ways it’s happening. The newest example is 43 Things (http://www.43things.com/home), a site that at first blush seems a bit silly, but once you dig a little deeper, has a really intriguing premise.

“It’s simple; you put in 43 things (or 5, or 23, or 12) that you want to accomplish, and if anyone else has put in any of those goals, you get linked up with them. For instance, I want to learn how to play guitar. Well, there are 11 other people at 43 Things that share that goal, and now, if we like, ‘lilevil’ and ‘shira’ and ‘bjorn’ and the rest could pursue that goal together by posting or blogging about our experience and commenting back and forth to one another about it.

“So what? Well, I’m thinking wouldn’t it be cool to hook students with similar goals or assignments up in a similar fashion? Like a site that could create communities of students who were all doing fetal pig dissections or reading the same novel? They could share experiences, techniques, interpretations … Now I know there would be a lot of safety and security issues to think through. But this is an interesting model of what we can do these days–connect learners, achievers, goal setters, whatever group you want from around the world to work toward a common end. …”

TIM WILSON–Wilson is the technology integration specialist for the Hopkins School District near Minneapolis.

From “A simple security breach”

“The Houston Chronicle is reporting on a recent security breach at Clements High involving a keystroke logger and an enterprising young student hoping to sell final exam answers. The incident is not very shocking. What surprises me is the inadequate attention paid to security issues like this one. Easy access to cheap devices like the one used in this incident and the lack of physical security in most teachers’ offices and computer labs make this kind of attack ridiculously easy to perpetrate. There’s no easy answer, either, but training school staff on security basics, locking doors, and better supervision in lab environments will go a long way [toward preventing other such breaches] …”