Archive for September, 2007

Build A Better Browser (CUE Tips Submission)

Monday, September 24th, 2007

This is the last CUE Tips session I submitted for the upcoming CUE conference. Unlike the others, it’s not really read/write web focused, but I’m hoping it might be just the thing for a quick 20 minute session. The idea is to help teachers setup and customize Firefox in a way that supports (and even invigorates) their work. Let me know what you think in the comments.


Build a Better Browser: An Overview of Firefox Themes & Extensions for Educators


Rediscover the web! Firefox is now faster, more secure, and fully customizable. Learn how themes and extensions can be used to turn your web browser into the ultimate learning machine.



TeamTreks: Free Online Learning Game

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Occasionally people email me to share their new product with me (usually flattering me while they’re at it), presumably with the intent that I might pass it on here on the blog. Every now and then I actually do just that. A few others this week didn’t make the cut, but in this case, it’s a free service that actually looks intriguing, appropriate, and relevant to my research. This game seems to have two aims, helping students develop “essential real-life skills (gathering information, analyzing situations, & making decisions)” and helping track their reading and math performance – all within an outdoor themed setting. If anyone checks it out, I’d love to hear about your experience:

Hi Mark,

I like your blog!

I was reading your Videogames in Education entry and thought maybe you’d like to look at a new website we just launched: It’s not a videogame per se…

TeamTreks is a free online learning game designed for kids in the 4th through 7th grade. In the game, you try to pass a TeamTrek Kayaks Certification test in this. You’re flown in and dropped near Glacier Bay, Alaska. Lead your team back to the TeamTreks cabin before someone calls a rescue.

A Team Leader Toolkit is also available to allow teachers and group leaders to customize the game content and track players’ essential real-life skills (gathering information, analyzing situations, & making decisions) and report on math and reading scores against state standards.

It focuses on skills for students in 4th through 7th grade in:

* Leadership, Teamwork & Decision-making. Teammates’ moods change depending on decisions relate to their preferences in activity, risk, and food. Decisions need to take into account the teammates’ preferences and attitudes.
* Map-reading & navigation. Teammates’ stamina and hunger increase the longer it takes to find a campsite. Efficient navigation decreases the risk of injury and mental breakdown.
* Information gathering & data analysis. Teammates’ health and happiness meters display their status and teammates react to all decision points and decision options.
* Reading Comprehension and Math skills.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested.

Keep up the great work.


Portage Interactive

Links for 2007-09-23

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

K-12 Open Minds Conference

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Conference – K-12 Open Minds Conference (Via Steve Hargadon.) Steve sent out an email last week asking some fans of open source software in education to get the word out about this conference. I’m including his comments below. Click the link above for more information.

The first K-12 Open Minds conference is going to be held October 9 – 11, 2007, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The kick-off reception is Tuesday, the 9th, with the regular conference sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, the 10th & 11th.For me, this is the must-attend event of the year relating to Free and Open Source Software in K-12 education. There are more tracks and topics that I already want to see than I will have time to attend. There are currently over 55 planned conference sessions, covering a the use of Linux and Open Source use in classroom, teaching, technical, and leadership aspects.

The individual registration fee is $100, or $89 each for groups of three or more. Register on the website or call Anthony Yanez, Registration Coordinator, at 800.940.6039, extension 1348.

Holding the conference in Indianapolis has two distinct advantages. The first is that nice hotel rooms are available for under $100/night at the conference location ( Sheraton) if you book before the 19th of September. Considering that the last conference I went to, the hotel cost for one night was more than this conference, and three days of hotel, all combined, makes this the bargain of the year.

The second benefit is that the conference is being organized by Mike Huffman and Laura Taylor, whose rich credentials in the area of actual implementation of Free and Open Source Software in K-12 education are really unparalleled in the United States. See my interview with them, and an audio recording of their session at NECC 2007, on my EdTechLive website.

Mike is also preparing blog tags for the sessions, and I’ll post on that as soon as we have that information.

Links for 2007-09-22

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
  • Generation YES » Educational Games
    Sylvia Martinez on how the pressure of making money impacts design in educational games.
    (tags: edugames)
  • To do list, simple, easy, fast, sharable: Ta-da List
    Someone twittered about this the other day and I had occasion to try it out with a client. It seems to need levels of authors/editors, but it’s super easy and simple to use for collaboration. It’s to do lists 2.0.
    (tags: web2 todo)
  • MyTechDesk
    Here’s another free tool – but only for California schools. I also had reason to bring this up with a client this week, so now I’m sharing it here. It’s a free web-based help desk system.
    (tags: helpdesk)
  • Thinkature – My workspaces
    One of my other clients asked me to incorporate this into an upcoming training. It’s mind mapping 2.0. Think Inspiration, but a multiuser webbased version. It’s lacking bells and whistles (like making an outline), but it’s well worth sharing.
    (tags: mindmaps)
  • Mint | Refreshing Money Management
    This last tool I picked up from Dave Winer’s blog a week or so ago. It’s a way to combine all of your accounts and track/manage your finances online. I’ve been a bit reluctant to put all my info in, but it looks legit and it’s getting rave reviews.
    (tags: finance)
  • Give Yourself Permission to Claim Your Life
    Good advice from Liz at Successful Blog. Sit and breathe in the air a bit… when you feel like a human, get up and do something to claim this life you’re living…
    (tags: andlife)

It Really Is Really Simple (CUE Submission)

Friday, September 21st, 2007

This is the last of he Read/Write web submissions I made to CUE this year… and it’s the only one that is a repeat of something I offered last year. As always, of course, the workshop is continually updated. But in general I feel last year there were only a few people ready for RSS – this year I expect there will be far more. And while I think there will be a profusion of blogging workshops, I don’t yet expect very many RSS workshops. So, here it is… I’d be interested to know what any of you think of it. Is there an Application of RSS I’m missing? Or do you have a different perspective on the topic at all? Let me know in the comments.


It Really Is Really Simple: An Introduction to RSS in Education


Use Real Simple Syndication (RSS) to subscribe to blogs, podcasts, and other “feeds”
so the content comes to you. RSS can help manage student blogs and your own
professional development.


It Really Is Really Simple.pdf

UPDATE: The link above has been fixed.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a link to the It Really Is Really Simple wiki I created for the workshop last year. It needs to be updated of course. :)

Links for 2007-09-21

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Working with 7-8 Teachers at Salem

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I’m back at Salem, this time with the middle school teachers. I’m asking them the same questions I asked the k-2 folks on Tuesday (participant responses are in italics):

  1. What is a blog? A conversation… a journal… anyone can write one… its a bit informal compared to other forms of writing… a form of communication with a group of people.
  2. What is the read/write web? creating the internet yourself… you’re updating it… you can modify what other write… wikipedia’s an example… we have few ideas/examples here… but their website is one – but they have control.
  3. What might these technologies mean for your students? Students can see different points of view at one location… if they are writing – they have to be able to express their thoughts… it’s more about internalizing and applying what they’ve learned – they’re actually producing something.

This is a great start, and we’re off to the races with a new group…

River City Project Looking for Pilot Schools

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

River City Project Looking for Pilot Schools (Via Jeff Whipple.) This post from Jeff Whipple is almost a week old… I’m not sure how old the open call for participation is, but since it’s directly related to the research I’ve been sharing here, I thought I’d better pass it on. River City was developed at Harvard under Dr. Chris Dede. It looks like it’s heading out into the world:

The River City Project, a not for profit organization, is actively looking for schools to pilot a new game they have created called River City.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the River city Project, has developed an interactive computer simulation game for middle grades science students to learn disease transmission and scientific method. River City has the look and feel of a videogame but contains content developed from National Science Education Standards, National Educational Technology Standards, and 21st Century Skills.

Access to the simulation, curricular materials, professional development, and just-in-time assistance are provided free of charge to schools. The current grant is exploring issues of scale, bringing River City to diverse schools across the United States and abroad, and the River city Project is always looking to collaborate with like-minded educators.

Date And Time: Immediately! If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the new game and piloting it, please contact the River City research team immediately for more information.

Location: Visit the River City Project website for more information.

Cost: No cost

How to Register: on website – As you explore their website, the River City Project research team invites you to send them an email with questions, comments or to find out how to get involved.

Here is a direct link to get involved.

Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs (CUE Tips Submission)

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

This is another new session I submitted as a 20 minute CUE Tips session at the upcoming CUE Conference in March. While these three tools could easily fill an hour on their own, I figured a discussion of which to use when might make a great quick preso for beginners and experts alike. We’ll see if the session readers agree, but in the meantime, I’d love your thoughts and feedback (and questions) on this.


Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs: Which one is right for your lesson?


Why use a wiki when you have a blog? When should you use Google Docs instead of a wiki? This session will clear up your confusion and free your creativity.


This session will begin with a clear definition and example of each two-way web technology: blogs, wikis, and Google Docs. Participants will then learn the strengths and weakness of each, complete with demonstrations to illustrate each point. Finally, the presenter will run through a variety of classroom scenarios, recommend an appropriate solution (or two) for each, and justify the choices made. Participants will leave with links to many more educational examples. (The whole abstract appears here, but here’s the pdf anyway: BlogsWikisGoogleDocs.pdf)

Has anyone already done something like this. I imagine someone more “chart” inclined than me must’ve already thrown something together. Any leads?

UPDATE: Doug Johnson asked his readers to clarify when they use Wikis and when they use Google Docs… it got quite a response and it seems there is a need for a session like this.