Google Wave for the K-12 classroom

Google Wave allows for real-time collaboration.
Google Wave allows for real-time collaboration.

Here I am at a session about Google Wave (presenters: Tim Stack, Utah Education Network, Jared Covili, and Mitchell Jorgensen). I have always been intrigued by this technology, but have not yet found a practical use for it.  This session really helped with understanding how Wave works.  To try Wave, visit

The whole concept of Google Wave is live, real-time collaboration.  A user starts a wave.  It can be a simple post, or a more developed idea.  Users that you invite to be a part of the wave can edit your post and can see the editing being done live, right in front of you.  This session had more than 100 people, so you could see many edits happening all at the same time.  In a classroom situation, it would certainly be more manageable.  A cool feature about Wave is the ability to “playback” the edits; starting with the original post, then every edit after that point.  This makes it easy to follow the progression of the edits.  You can also make Waves public, so that anyone may contribute.

In a school setting, I can see the interface being very overwhelming for some students.  The teacher would need to present Wave in a very concise method, as to not confuse the students too much.  I like the ability to see live edits in front of you.  Add in Google chat or Skype, and you are looking at real, live online collaboration.  The session, in general, did not go into anything education-related, but was still very useful.  I would have loved to see a Part 2, getting into practical applications for the classroom.  To get started, I am going search for some public waves and get used to the interface, how it works, and come up with some great ideas for the classroom.…Read More

Words that inspire

The panelists provided unique views on global learning.
The panelists provided unique views on global learning.

Live ISTE Blog – One of my favorite quotes comes from Uncle Ben of Spider-Man fame… “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I’m pretty sure that Stan Lee wasn’t thinking about ISTE keynotes when he penned that well-used phrase. However, that’s the quote that comes to my mind when I consider the impact that a well-thought out, well-delivered keynote can provide.

After years of attending conferences, I’ve seen terrible keynotes, great ones, and everything in between. I’ve seen solo keynote presentations, panel discussions, and a plethora of combinations and permutations there of. After all these years at conferences, I’m still amazed and thrilled when I see a keynote speaker or panel that “sings” with its message. What do I mean by that (because I’m definitely not talking about karaoke)? I mean that I appreciate all the keynotes where the message is clear, powerful, and well-delivered, and it resonates with the audience.

Overall, I really like keynotes. It’s the theory of “Educational Amway” to the highest degree. That’s why I became a tech trainer. Instead of teaching 20-30 kids, I could teach 20-30 teachers at a time who each teach 20-30 students. That theory is magnified with keynotes. When you’re doing a huge keynote presentation, the potential base of students that you can affect is even greater… You might be speaking to 200-300 or 2,000-3,000 or more educators, and that’s why I like keynotes. That said, it’s imperative that organizations really consider who they bring in for keynotes because it’s not just the message, it’s the way that information is delivered. Just like how we encourage our teachers to engage all learners, it’s important that all keynote presenters do the same with the audience.…Read More

ISTE explores global solutions to education reform

Students should connect across the globe, not just across the classroom.
Students should connect across the globe, not just across the classroom, panelists said.

ISTE 2010 opened its third day with a panel discussion featuring global perspectives on how education can best benefit from excellence and innovation.

Karen Cator, director of the U.S. Office of Education Technology in the U.S. Department of Education (ED), former World Bank Vice President Jean-Francois Rischard, student Shaun Koh from Singapore, and Terry Godwaldt, director of programming for the Centre for Global Education in Edmonton, Canada, shared their opinions on how U.S. education, and global education, can improve.

“I see innovation excellence in schools as a confluence of … a new skills agenda, a new learning-teaching-education technology agenda, and a global citizenship agenda,” Rischard said.…Read More

Study: Student access to classroom tech limited

Students said their top priority is having their own computing devices.
Students said their top priority is having their own computing devices.

Just 8 percent of high school teachers said that technology is fully integrated into the classroom; and the technology that is available is primarily used by teachers, and not students, according to the results of a national survey of more than 1,000 high school students, faculty, and IT staff members. As a result, 43 percent of students said they are not–or they are unsure if they are–prepared to use technology in higher education or the workforce. CDW-G conducted the 2010 21st Century Classroom Report to understand how students and faculty are using technology.

“A decade into this century, the door to 21st century skills remains locked for many students,” said Bob Kirby, vice president of K-12 education for CDW-G. “Today’s students need an interactive learning environment in which the technologies that they use outside of school are integrated into the curriculum. With that in mind, districts need to focus on providing a hands-on technology experience that translates to students’ futures, whether in higher education or the workforce.”

While high school IT professionals provide support for technology such as wireless internet access, student computing devices, interactive whiteboards, and even virtual learning, less than half of faculty members are designing lesson plans that enable students to use technology in class, and just 26 percent of students report they are encouraged to use technology throughout the school day.…Read More

The Hall Show: Interactive classrooms

Projectors can add great value to classroom instruction.
Projectors can add great value to classroom instruction.

Live ISTE Blog – Raise your hand if you know Hall Davidson? Those of you who raised your hand are in the majority (and you’ve probably freaked out everyone sitting near you because they have no clue why you’ve just raised your hand). Hall is well known in educational technology circles. From his work at KOCE to his involvement with the California Student Media Festival to his role as the director of the Discovery Educator Network, Hall is a familiar figure at ed-tech conferences for his entertaining, energetic, and enthusiastic keynotes and spotlight sessions.

People who came to the 8:30 corporate spotlight session expecting to see the “Hall Show” were not disappointed. The session, Interactive Whiteboard Technology: Exploring the Next Generation, witnessed Hall in top form talking about the Epson BrightLink interactive projector (a high-quality ultra-short throw projector with the interactivity built in). Hall showcased the product and discussed the philosophy behind an interactive projector that is not in a closed ecosystem. To say that the audience loved it would be an understatement. The fact that Hall was joined by Karen Green, program specialist of technology and media services in Fullerton School District, and me, was like frosting on a cake… It was good to have, but probably not the main focus.

The Four Seasons Ballroom was packed, and Hall used the BrightLink with Prezi, PowerPoint, Google SketchUp, and a slew of other interactive web sites. I think the best part was when Hall had “volunteers” come up and do a few tricks with the projector… Is it still volunteering when Hall points to you and tells you to come on up?…Read More

Teaching with Moodle: Tips for enhanced course design

Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.
Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.

Live ISTE Blog – My first ISTE session was Teaching Moodle:Tips for Enhanced Course Design. My goal in attending the session was to get some ideas on how to create better quizzes, better use of blocks, and just creating a strong online experience for Moodle users. Michelle was very informative and knowledgeable about the Moodle Platform, and was well versed in good course design.

Her main concept is creating courses that have a clear, consistent design, and are organized in a way in which your information is easy to find and understand. In thinking about my own course design, I still have many things to learn. The importance of presenting information that is clear to the user is critical. The individual topic descriptions need to be shorter, and I need to start using labels a bit more. I never made the connection that the topic descriptions go into the “jump to” navigation. By thinking of this, my students can easily access a topic that they need to in a much easier manner. When I need to go into more detail, I need to start using the label.

The most important concept that I took away was breaking down the information. Avoid embedding links–use the resource tool to add a link. Avoid putting video directly on the front page, as it delays loading the page, and puts too much on the course start page. And finally, avoid having too much text in one area. Break it apart into smaller sections by using labels, or compose several web pages to break the information apart. One plug-in that was mentioned, that I would like to explore, is the book plug-in. Again, it’s another great way to break large amounts of information apart.…Read More

Participating in the ISTE 2010 Tweet-Up at Marlowe’s

ISTE attendees gathered at the start of the conference (Photo by David Wees).
ISTE attendees gathered at the start of the conference (Photo by David Wees).

Live ISTE Blog – Last night I arrived in Denver, and met my roommate in the airport for ISTE 2010 for the first time.  We’d actually met and arranged to share a room together through Twitter, through the #ISTE10 channel.  It was a pretty weird experience sharing a room with what was basically a complete stranger, but it worked out well.  We get along and have similar interests in what we want to get out of the conference.  We decided that we wanted to go to the Tweet-up (a meeting between fellow Twitter users) scheduled at Marlowe’s bar and meet some fellow Twitter users (known as Tweeps).

Meeting people online is an interesting experience.  You don’t really get to know the people, largely because you miss all of that vital body language that is so important to communication.  What you get to know instead is the public persona they present online.  For some people, this persona is enough to get a good feel for what kind of person they are, for others their online persona is so bland and one-dimensional, you can tell that it doesn’t fully represent them.  It really is worth the effort to meet up in person with the people you find online, and a Tweet up is a perfect opportunity to do this.

People you meet through an online medium, whether it is Twitter or some other social networking site, are probably people you have filtered through some sort of search.  Maybe they all have a common interest, or in my case, maybe they all follow the #edchat and #iste10 channel on Twitter.  The type of person that follows this channel has a lot of commonalities with other people on this channel:  they are educators, they use technology in their education, and they are probably education reformers.…Read More

Making the most of ISTE sessions

Investing time in your presentation will have a big pay-off.
Investing time in your presentation will have a big pay-off.

Live ISTE Blog – Denver…where the air is clean and the atmosphere has us panting after walking a short flight of steps. It’s a great place to host ISTE 2010. My time at the conference began on Sunday morning where I had a wonderful opportunity to co-lead a 3-hour workshop entitled “Beyond Digital Storytelling.”

Presenting with Michelle Bourgeois and Bud Hunt of St. Vrain School District, we led a group of 24 participants through some exercises to help them focus on the story aspect of digital storytelling. From story spines to Five Card Flickr, we wanted our attendees to be creative and tell their stories. I could go blow-by-blow and tell you all the activities and how much fun the participants had, but I want to dig deeper and tell a story about what makes ISTE special for me.

I’ve presented at ISTE since 2005, and it never gets old. In general, I believe that most people are eager to learn, and ISTE attendees even more so, because they are ed-tech leaders in their respective district–they are early adopters and advocates of technology integration. So when you lead or co-lead a session, you get a lot of the cream of the crop, and the potential synergy in the room makes a workshop more than the sum of its parts because it goes beyond just the information. It’s for this reason that I believe speakers have a huge responsibility to be their best. They need to be organized during planning and presentation, and they need to exude enthusiasm. That’s why I think all presenters need to take their role seriously…and that’s different from merely being serious. Some of the best presenters are informative and engaging and fun.…Read More

ISTE focuses on excellence, global education

Today's students will be tomorrow's problem solvers.
Today's students will be tomorrow's problem solvers.

The 31st annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, formerly NECC) conference kicked off in Denver with inspiring and thought-provoking comments from ISTE President Helen Padgett and Jean-Francois Rischard, former vice president of the World Bank and author of High Noon, which discusses alternatives for solving the world’s largest problems.

ISTE 2010 will explore excellence in education, and Denver is a fitting place for that exploration, because teachers are explorers, pioneers, and visionaries, Padgett said.

New teaching methods, and focusing on students’ educational needs, is making a difference in classrooms across the country, and Padgett cited best practices throughout the nation by those who seek to improve schools. And innovation happens not just locally, but globally, as global partnerships and lessons shape U.S. education.…Read More

NECC 2009: Video highlights

In partnership with JDL Horizons, eSchool News produced video interviews with ed-tech luminaries.
In partnership with JDL Horizons, eSchool News produced video interviews with ed-tech luminaries.

The rise in mobile technologies, how to lobby Congress successfully for more ed-tech support, and how Baby Boomers can help meet the need for 21st-century teachers: These were some of the topics illuminated by leaders in education technology during sit-down interviews with our eSN-TV video news crew at the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C., recently.

In partnership with JDL Horizons, eSchool News produced several wide-ranging video interviews with ed-tech luminaries at this year’s NECC. You can view these interviews at by clicking on the subject heading “NECC 2009.” Here are some of the highlights…

– Don Knezek, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which organizes NECC, talked about some of the ed-tech trends he has noticed at this year’s conference–including the use of smart phones and other mobile devices to get technology into the hands of more students quickly and inexpensively. Knezek also discussed some of the areas ISTE will be focusing more attention on in the future, such as ensuring that teachers get the ed-tech training they need to succeed.…Read More

NECC 2009 looks to education’s future

30th annual National Educational Computing Conference reports record attendance of more than 18,000 educators and exhibitors
30th annual National Educational Computing Conference reports record attendance of more than 18,000 educators and exhibitors

The economic recession doesn’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C.: At a time when tight school budgets have left little room for travel expenses, conference organizers report that a record 18,000-plus educators and exhibitors converged on the nation’s capital June 28 through July 1 to share strategies and success stories for integrating technology effectively into instruction.

Hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the 30th annual NECC drew attendees from 71 countries–and paid registration was up by nearly 1,000 attendees over last year’s figures, organizers said. ISTE deputy CEO and conference chair Leslie Conery called it an “odds-defying” event in difficult economic times, and she praised educators for their energy and commitment.

ISTE marked the 30th anniversary of its conference with the theme “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Envisioning the Future.” In kicking off the event on June 28, ISTE President Helen Padgett revealed that NECC will be known simply as “ISTE” beginning next year, when the conference will be held in Denver.…Read More

NECC 2009: Computers and Infrastructure

neccimagesnecclogomerCDI Computers, which describes itself as North America’s largest distributor of refurbished computers, says it has seen demand skyrocket during the economic recession as schools and universities look for high-quality computers at reasonable prices. More than 250,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada buy computers from CDI, said the company, which purchases used computers from many Fortune 500 companies and refurbishes them before selling them to schools at discounted prices.

Dell unveiled a Mobile Computing Station for its Latitude 2100 netbooks, designed to make implementation of a one-to-one computing program easier for schools. The Mobile Computing Station stores, charges, and networks up to 24 Latitude 2100 netbooks with just one Ethernet cord and one power cord, Dell says. It also lets administrators deliver system updates remotely while the netbooks are charging and locked in the Station during class breaks or overnight. Dell also announced a partnership with Stoneware, through which it will provide Stoneware’s webNetwork “private” cloud-computing solution to Dell education customers who request it.

HP touted its small and ultra-portable Mini Notebook PCs as a practical solution to schools’ one-to-one computing needs. HP announced that the North Kansas City, Mo., School District is deploying 6,000 HP Mini 2140 Notebook PCs to its students, and the company demonstrated its latest addition to the Mini Notebook family, the HP Mini 5101, which offers a fully integrated 2-megapixel webcam and an ergonomic design that the company says places the mouse in a more natural position for children. HP also has teamed up with Knowledge Network Solutions to expand its professional development offerings for educators, and the company recently announced $6.7 million in grants to school districts through its HP Innovations in Education program.…Read More