Archive for May, 2005

iPod in Education

Monday, May 30th, 2005

This is probably the last response to a classmate that I will pass on. I am done with my doctoral coursework!

(A moment of silence, please… unless you feel like cheering for me… or better yet, have a BBQ and a beer for me today!)

Now it’s on to the solitary reading, researching, and writing for me.

Ok, that’s enough “and life”… back to your educational technology.

Here’s your iPod in Education post. The bit in italics was a post by a classmate. Then comes my response…

The Apple Computer iPod music player has many uses for the classroom. More than a music player, the iPod is an exciting new audio tool that can help enhance student learning in any subject area, particularly for language and literacy development. Historical speeches, influential symphonies, conversational Spanish. The iPod and the Griffin iTalk Voice Recorder can be used to record any kind of audio files, from classroom lectures to poetry readings. The possibilities are endless — students can share personal notes, track small group discussions, or conduct interviews.

The iPod can even be used for teacher professional development. Apple has professional development content for teachers to download.



This is a powerful (and powerfully cool) new application of technology in education. I’m lucky enough to have been in a position to see some of this develop (at the OCDE we began offering classes on “iPod in Education” in the fall and one of our coordinators – a guy I had hoped to work with for a long time – got hired away by Apple to be their manager of iPod in education)… but with the growth of the read/write web (and podcasting) innovation is happening at a blindingly fast rate in this field. There is something new about iPods in education in my aggregator every day!

My wife drank the kool aid in the fall and now uses iPod to pre and post assess her kindergarden students, and as an integral part of her Movie Magic after school class for 1st and 2nd graders, who made iMovies in the style of “Reading Rainbow” in which they used the Ken Burns effect to display the pictures from the book… and they read the story for the soundtrack (recorded using iPods and iTalks).

Check this out… Jason Ediger (the new Apple employee I mentioned above) FURLed this today… the education podcasters network at

See also this post by Will Richardson (something of an authroity on the read/write web in education) in which he discusses some of the latest development in podcasting… (it was part II in a series, so you should be able to find more info on his blog.)

Oh, and if you want to subscribe to Ediger’s archive…

I suppose I should have mentioned RSS as a killer new educational technology! That is how I get most of my news and current research these days. Too bad we don’t have time for that conversation here, too.


Paper on its way…

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

Those of you who have seen my iChat status showing red and the single word “writing” should know that I didn’t walk away and leave my computer unattended. I am actually writing. I have a management of technology for education paper on MMORPGs due on Sunday, and right now I am on track for writing something that is double length and a little too much like a trial run at my literature review for my dissertation! I have a lot of slogging, and a lot of tough decisions ahead of me, but I’ll post whatever I am left with Sunday night here at Educational Technology and Life, too.

Incidentally, can you tell I am practicing actually blogging now that I will not be completing weekly assignments for class anymore?

Since this is the last assignment of the last of my coursework in my dissertation program, this is conceivably the last formal university class I’ll ever take! (Or at least the last one in which I’ll care about my grade rather than simply what I learn!)

Arg… back to it.


See you in Second Life Tonight

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

See you in Second Life Tonight

I’m glad I just started playing this!

More on Games and Education

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

The following is my contribution to an optional “emerging technologies” discussion in the last week of Management of Technology for Educaiton, followed by two responses and my replies.

An emerging technology (in education) that excites me and gives me hope for the future in addressing the needs of students is the application of video games as engaging teaching and learning tools. I am particularly interested in the potential of multiplayer online role playing games as constructivist learning environments, and my final paper will focus on the management issues involved, so I will post it here when I am done.

I’m sure I’ve shared these books on the subject here before:

Aldrich, C. (2004). Simulations and the future of learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw Hill.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

And here is a brand new one I just received:

Aldrich, C. (2005). Learn by doing: a comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.


Another book of interest may be:

Iverson, K. M. (2005). E-learning games: Interactive learning strategies for digital delivery. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

It is less a book of theory and more a collection of classroom strategies but I found her “games” to be an interesting look at applying the theory to the realities of the online classroom.

Wow. Thanks, Wyll. I am ordering it today. It’s almost certainly too late for this paper, but will help with my KAMs and dissertation!

When ordering this, I also discovered and ordered “Engaging Learning : Designing e-Learning Simulation Games” by Clark N. Quin.



It may be a trend that I am seeing lately (maybe more so because you have expressed an interest and shared with the class this term) but have you noticed that recent instructional technology conferences have at least one session on games/simulation/virtual reality etc?

Do you plan to attend any of these conferences to support further research and study?

Yes. And absolutely – as many as work will allow. :)

Last week, the LA Times even ran a story called Geek Fun Isn’t Frivolous.

This doesn’t really count, but I am offering a course in Games and Learning at the OCDE in August, and I am applying to present the topic at next year’s CUE (Computer Using Educators) Conference and next year’s NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) Conference. CUE has shown such interest in the topic that they are now courting Clarck Aldrich, James Paul Gee, and Mark Prensky as possible keynote speakers.

I just got finished attending an entire conference dedicated to this topic, the Education Arcade Games in Education Conference. It was great to meet many of the authors and practitioners in the field. I wish I were able to attend the Games, Learning, and Society Conference next month; alas, it may not come to pass. Actually… as I write this… and review the site I just linked to… I realize I better be there. Time to spend my last vacation day (and a sick day?) of the year, spend some more financial aid, and get myself out there.

Boy am I glad you and Wyll responded to my post this week. :)


Too little sun as bad as too much? – Other Cancer News –

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Too little sun as bad as too much? – Other Cancer News –

I’ve been predicting this for years! Woody Alan was more right than he knew with Sleeper. ;)

Happy feedback… and more on student feedback

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

I couldn’t beleive when I read this response to one of my posts in class, and I am doubly thrilled that it lead to more writing…

As an Instructional Technology Specialist with just one year of experience, I find your discussion so very helpful. Thanks so much for this valuable resource. I am particularly interested in your use of focus groups. Do you have additional thoughts in this area?

Wow. Thanks for the positive feedback, Ada. It is great to think that this work is doing someone (other than me) some good rather than simply fulfilling an assignment requirement.

As for focus groups… I don’t know that these things would all be considered focus groups, but while I am an opponent of bureaucracy – and even of decision making by committee – I am very much a proponent of respecting and tapping into the experience and creative energies of those around you, which in addition to strengthening your own data gathering and analysis capacities also has the added benefit of helping the others involved to find a stake in – and ownership of – your decisions.

For instance, as a site technology coordinator, I would take any important decisions to our tech committee, which was a multi-disciplinary committee of representatives from each department in the school. In some cases this was the department head, and in some cases a more technically inclined person was appointed by the department head. This was fine, because any major decisions also went before the department heads and administration at their bi-monthly meetings. This is not to say that these committees made decisions for me (and certainly not in the way that committees often make the least active, most conservative decisions because no one wants to take responsibility for a change or risk), but rather that I was able to get input from the perspective of an expert in each department before making my decision, to engage them in dialog about difficult or controversial decisions, and thus be better prepared to present a final decision that they were more ready to accept. (Now many decisions also had to be taken to the budget and appropriations committees, who did sometimes have a little more decision making power, but once I was able to justify a decision in terms of the previous committees desires, these last two were almost always a slam dunk.)

At the district level I saw the disaster that came from failing to do this, and how my few efforts to solicit input from teachers as part of my decision making process could make such a big difference to them – and to my decisions… it sometimes became perfectly clear what decision to make in a situation I had been stewing over myself.

At the county level, where I now have much more freedom to do things the way I think is best than I did while managing a grant at the district level, I am once again beginning to reap the benefit of better serving our customers (the schools) by including representatives in our planning processes. Though I have done my share of (what I think was) swift and decisive “paradigm busting”, I have at the same time created a committee (more of a focus group really) for nearly every project I manage. In fact, I think this has made it possible to make the changes that I have because it is absolutely clear to my superiors and colleagues that the changes are necessary.. thanks to input from those “in the field” who will be using our services. Of course, only five months into the job, many of these changes are still underway – or only in their beginning stages – and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

So, this is not particularly research based, as posts in this class go, but since you asked, I hope this articulation of my experiences might be of some value.


Even more on surveys

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Antoher post I wrote for the survey thread in class…

As you know reponse rates for surveys are low. The nursing program likes to have our graduates assess the program after working a few months to identify gaps or weaknesses in our program. This year we got the most responses (although the rate is still low at 30%) from using an online survey tool. To measure valid outcomes what type of response rate would you expect?

Most of the online surveys I am doing have very high response rates, and this is because there is one factor that is very different from what you would ordinarily expect from an online survey… the respondents are all in the same room. For instance, I am using online surveys as evaluations of a class or class session. Most of the trainings I run have participants sitting in front of computers… it is much more efficient to have them enter data and comments directly into an online survey than to have them fill out paper forms. We save paper, the quantitative results are instantly tabulated and reported, and the qualitative results do not need to be deciphered and keyed in by our clerical staff. (More often than not, these things just don’t happen at all with the paper evals… we would just glance at them, maybe make photocopies – for crying out loud – for our supervisors, and then put them in the cabinet for “audit” purposes.)

That being said, I also use them to survey groups like the district technology leaders and our techlink listserv and get fairly high response numbers, but these folks have a long term relationship with us and a vested interest in providing feedback.

I did do one open survey, a needs assessment for our next round of classes, which I asked the district technology leaders to push out to their own site based people and their staff… and got only about a hundred responses… a remarkably small percentage of the tens of thousands of teachers in Orang County. :)

Given my experiences in 8427 and 8437, I think the validity relies more on the representativeness of the cross-section of your population who respond than it does on pure numbers. Unfortunately, when it comes to representative samples, the educators who will reply to an online survey are not at all representative of all educators. This was seen in the bias of the data I received from the needs assessment… there was almost no demand for beginning technology classes -though it is clear that many teachers in the county still require these skills, and a greater demand for the “latest and greatest” than common sense would tell us most teachers have access to.

I hope this was a helpful response. A more direct response to your question, though, is a matter of statistics and measuring the margin or error (or confidence interval) associated with a certain population proportion. I’ll admit I pulled out the statistics book again, but think the discussion is probably best left for a statistics class. :(


Donald Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels of Evaluation

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

A classmate brought this up and I thought it might be interesting to post here…


This was a model I hadn’t encountered yet either, so thank you for sharing your experience with it.

Others interested in Donald Kirkpatrick’s 4 level model,

I poked around online a bit with a google search and found his model listed in San Diego State University’s Encyclopedia of Educational Technology, complete with a useful graphical representation of the model.


Follow Up on Student Feedback

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

A classmate replied to the story I posted yesterday. Here is my response…

Mark, thank you so much for sharing your story. It was thought provoking. Do you have any thoughts on why you got that particular response? Do you think that there was a paternalistic or maternalistic effect? Mother or Father knows best so don’t have to ask the children. Mary Ann

Thanks for the response and questions, Mary Ann. I have three thoughts about why my suggestion met with these reactions… and one of these answers the (possibly more interesting) question of why I let it go:

1.) It was actually shocking because people don’t often solicit students (or children in general) for their opinion. The county office may be closer to the rest of the world in this respect than it might be to a school.

2.) Many of the people on the committee are not educators… they are employees from the IT, HR, legal, and accounting departments, and so have a mindset more like the rest of the world than an educator might.

3.) And this is the one that explains why I let it go… It would be a lot of extra work to survey employees children, and none of the volunteer committee members at the table (including me) wanted to actually do the work.

Though I don’t think this story was a great example of this, I am proud to report that an intern in our department called me a “paradigm buster” on Friday. :) I hope to actually follow through on the teacher training programs he was talking about in a more determined and effective manner than I did on the “Children at Work Day” committee. :)


Performance Standards vrs. Content Standards

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

An exchange between classmates, and my response…


You wrote: In the Social Studies courses I teach, there is a lot of material to cover. It is difficult to pace the class to cover everything the California standards say we should cover and yet go into enough depth so the students really grasp the concepts.

Georgia is currently undergoing a massive restructuring to eliminate the problem you currently have. Our curriculum was described as having a lot of breath but no depth. You may find this link regarding our Performance Standards interesting information:



This is exciting news – thank you for sharing about the Georgia performance standards. I read all of the FAQs at the site you sent us to, and can say that California suffers from the same sort of problems with our content standards, especially that “it would take twenty-three years—not twelve—to cover the topics included at anywhere near the level of depth necessary for real learning to take place.” In fact, at the recent Orange County High School Summit, keynot speaker Dr. Daggett reported that one of the attributes of the top 30 schools in the nation which differentiated them from the next 300 (still very good) schools was that the top 30 took the time to prioritize their content standards and cut them down by 1/3 (which would bring Georgia’s 23 years down to a more manageable 15). Naturally I am excited that the performance standards are based on more authentic outcomes, too, but I wonder how this will play out in their standardized testing and the high school graduation test.

I presume you are working in Georgia. Have you had a chance to work with these new standards yet? Regardless, do you have any initial opinions of them or their implementation? Are they receiving any resistance from educators in the state?