Online Course on blogs and RSS in education: Update (Useability Test)

I’ve finished a sort of proof of concept post for my instructional serries on blogs, rss, and the read/write web in education. The content should be farther along, but I need to complete a usability test this week… for class. Please check out the revisions at the link below. Comment on that post or this one… or email me… to let me know what you think.!1pVGrVZfiI485ySbt5CLoe0A!181.entry



Custom List: The Read/Write Web in Ed

The Read/Write Web in Ed

Why blogs for teachers? And, more on Weblogg-Ed…

My response to a classmate generated some interesting thoughts… but I think this is only scratching the surface…

Do you have teachers’ feedback yet on whether blogs would serve their needs better than regular websites? Our college is always looking for technologies on distance learning.

Wow. I’m glad you got so much out of my site, Romy. Thanks for the encouragement, too.

As for your question… there are several advantages for teachers…

– The ease of updating content on their site, including instructional information, assignments, calendar information, etc.
– The ease of posting attached files (such as syllabi and work sheets etc.)
– The ease of posting pictures and other multimedia content on their site
– The ease of hosting an interactive site on which students and parents can leave comments and interact not only with the teacher, but with each other.
– The ease of applying (and changing!) visually appealing designs
– Automatic archiving
– In a phrase, a Content Management System
– And all of this with no programming skills, and no money, needed.

In my humble opinion (and others have said this), the day of the home page has come and gone. There is no reason a teacher with no programming knowledge would want a home page instead of a blog.

Hmm.. I think I just wrote something I should include in part 4 of my instructional posts on my site. :)

The Orange County Department of Education ran a "web institute" last summer, which focused on creating a class blog. One of the by products was this amazing projec, which is not a class blog, but a blog for a specific parent/child reading project:

I linked to it from my site, but see Will Richardson’s for lists of teacher blogs, and many stories about successful uses of blogs in the classroom.

Note: his "practices" link is better than his "educators’ weblogs" link, which takes you to his bloglines account, which might be a bit confusing if you aren’t familiar with the tool.

I hope this helps!


The iTalk as an assistive technology

Another brief response to a colleague I’d like to share…

Students, who are having hard time writing on the topic, will create an audio recording on Business Ethics by following the same process approach for writing an argumentative or synthesis paper.

This is a great idea, Renee… allowing students to compose in an auditory medium prior to tackling the written word. This might be further facilitated by the use of a digital recording device (such as an iPod and iTalk, see image to the right) to record students. Recordings are time stamped for easy location and assessment at a later time, and can be edited and reordered (just as with word processing) using a variety of free desktop sound editing programs (including Garage Band and iMovie if you happen to have a modern Mac, and something like WavePad on a PC). After the Assistive Technology Institute I coordinated this weekend, I am much more aware of the need for such techniques to help make the connection between stuedents’ abilities and their goals – and of the power we have to actually implement them using new technologies.

But I suppose this is expensive… still, it is happening, and I’m sure it will become less expensive and more wide spread.


If a picture is worth a thousand words…

Here is a response to a classmate that is worth sharing… and I’m off on my new resolution to include an image with each post on this blog, even if it is only a text image… from a vendor who might change their site. :)

Do they make this software for the macintosh system? I liked the format and had some ideas for my teachers and students.


Our classmates have gotten very excited about Camtasia, and rightly so. My colleagues at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District used Camtasia to create a library of in-house how-to videos (for district specific software and web applications), which were added to our custom Atomic Learning download page.

However, Newport-Mesa is a dual platform school district, so each video was also created on an OS X Mac… using Snapz Pro. Apparently they found it even more user friendly and flexibile than Camtasia.


Their home page sounds like Scott talking…


Video in the classroom, copyright, and vodcasting

A slightly different class prompt inspired some thoughts on educational uses for video…

Thinking back on your own experiences, what were the benefits and drawbacks of using videos as part of the instruction? What changes could have been made to maximize the experience? (chapter 12)

I have seen some very powerful uses of video to bring remote events or speakers into a classroom (or online class). There have been a handful of videos I’ve been shown which have had powerful and lasting impressions. I have a feeling the video made by blind students to showcase their abilities, which I shared in my last post, will be one of the ones that sticks with me.

Some of these powerful videos have been brief, but some were rather lengthy; if the production quality, engagement, and motivation for watching are sufficiently high, the need for short clips is reduced significantly.

I’d like to add a drawback to the mix that I haven’t encountered in our discussion yet… I have often encountered a video for a second (or third or worse) time after having already seen it in a previous course. This was not effective.

Another drawback was brought to mind by the showmanship side bar at the bottom of page 289 of the Smaldino text. Teachers really must learn the skills of cinematography (and the related and ever changing technical skills) in order to make the most of increasing popular practice of integrating video production in the classroom. However, as this will help to transform the teacher into a co-learner with the students, I think this can, as part of a balanced paradigm shift in the classroom, make for a powerful integration of video and a much more rich context-embedded, inquiry driven, and socially negotiated learning environment for the students.

On another note, in principals’ technology training sessions that I am now coordinating (AB 75 and Private School Principal’s Trainings), I recently saw Hall Davidson of KOCE give a presentation about copyright, with a particular focus on video of course, as he works for a television station. It is amazing how many rights classroom educators have to use copyrighted material, including video (even hollywood blockbusters… even disney movies), in their classes – as long as they are shown for educational purposes. So while the common practice of showing a film as a reward is strictly prohibited, the common misconception that teachers cannot show copyrighted films in class (particularly disney movies) is entirely unfounded in the law. Many of the techniques discussed in the thread go a long way to ensuring that video is being used for educational purposes… playing short clips, leaving time for discussion, preparing graphic organizers or focusing questions, and even assessing students after the material is viewed.

Now we weren’t asked to relate this to our ASSURE project, but I think vodcasting (video on demand ‘casting) could be shared with the participants, and those with the skills and motivation to do so could be invited to include video in their own blogs and final project lesson plans. (BTW, there are some devices that allow video to be as portable as an iPod makes music, and I suspect the iPod photo is only one step away from iPod Video. I’m not sure all the benefits of podcasting – such as listening while driving or exercising – would extend to vodcasting with a portable device, though. Still, my former boss at Newport-Mesa is currently working on a project that might bring brief instructional full motion video clips to student Tungsten E handhelds so that they could prepare for or review lessons anywhere anytime… a prospect with exciting implications for the district’s EL learners especially.)


PS – To check out Hall’s work, visit his website at the following URL:

It is not the prettiest of websites, but his materials are good.