Public Wants Tech in Schools

An article in e-School News Online reports on a survey of several thousand people which concluded:

The majority of respondents said technology is an important factor in connecting schools to their communities, as well as in leveling the playing field among more and less affluent schools by providing equal access to educational content.”

In addition:

According to the survey, 59 percent of Americans agree that “information technology is a vital tool that can help educate our students by providing access to video and other dynamic content” and that more should be done to incorporate technology into the learning process.

Americans also recognize that understanding science and technology is important to success in the 21st-century workforce, the poll suggests: 69 percent of Americans believe that science and math courses should be made mandatory for grades 7 through 12.

The flip side is that respondents were not in any agreement on how this kind of technology education should be delivered, nor did people see teaching technology at odds with the push for more standardized testing.

Some links from the article:

Video of panel discussion
http://www.463.com/Clients/Cisco/

Cisco Education
http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/education/index.html

Consortium for School Networking
http://www.cosn.org

International Society for Technology in Education
http://www.iste.org

Peace (with tech),
Kevin

SuperLooper — rock the net

I don’t use a mac so I have been very jealous of those who have access to GarageBand for making loops and other fun projects. I stumbled across this software called SuperDuperMusicLooper, which is for kids, and decided to check it out. It’s very fun (my kids will love it) and is simple to use. The program uses a “paint” the sound (and “eraser” for removing sounds) and it comes with a large selection of loops. You can change the key, tempo and even record your own voice or sounds.

The songs are then saved as .wav files, so I am converting them to MP3 via Audacity.

 

You can even try a demo at the Sony site, but it won’t let you save and it has limited options. (and now that I am going back to the Sony site, I realize that I maybe should have bought the next level up, something called Jam Trax. Oh well, maybe another day)

Here is what I created in 10 minutes yesterday after installing the software:

Listen to Wit Da Flow

This does bring up an entirely new question, though, of whether I am creating music here or something else, and what benefits does this kind of software have for young people interesting in music, and I am not so sure what this mixing and mashing means for young musicians. It is so easy to use, and so quick, and requires very little effort, that you wonder how you can convince someone to woodshed for hours in their room on a single note, or phrase, or song, when the argument is that the computer can do it better (it can’t, I don’t think, but that is one argument). In defense of SuperLooper, it does make visible the construction of a song in its many myriad parts, and that can be valuable to a young songwriter.

Peace (peacepeacepeacepeace in loops),
Kevin

The Video Explosion

I have periodically come across the Pew Internet and American Life series of research articles that take a deeper look at the impact of technology on our lives, particularly the lives of young people. They do a fantastic job of pulling together information.

A recent study by Pew looked at the impact of online video and how it is changing the nature of the web (again). Some interesting stats:

  • About 20 percent of all adults watch some kind of video on their computer (via the net) once a day. Just think about that — that is a whole lot of eyeballs scanning the web and belies the reason why Google snapped up YouTube.
  • About 75 percent of young users (ages 18-29) watch online videos each day (an amazing number)
  • 10 percent of people re-post or share links to videos via their Weblogs and other sites (such as MySpace, Facebook, etc)
  • 20 percent either post a comment on the videos or leave a rating (which seems to indicate the desire to be participatory members in the experience)
  • Comedy and humorous videos are the most popular genre of videos that people are watching and sharing with others (so true, so true)
  • Young males are more likely to watch animation or cartoon videos than any other demographic.
  • Almost no one pays any money for video services — “free” is the operative word here (although commercials and advertising videos are also being viewed, primarily by young people.)

I wish the report had dug into the ways and means and motivation of people who are doing the posting of videos, but maybe that is for the future.

Peace (with information),
Kevin

VoiceThread Experiment

James shows us how to use VoiceThread on Edublogs (I should have asked how to do this weeks ago) and other flash-based programs, so I am giving it a try. (here is the tutorial, by the way)

And you can try something too – add your voice to my thread (you will need to register for voicethread to do so, however). This was an experiment that I posted via Classroom 2.0.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=2246" width="400" height="500" wmode="transparent" /]

Did it work?

Peace (with flash),
Kevin

The Ning Thing

I have been trying to understand social networking a bit more these past few weeks, as I think this is the direction I want to take our Making Connections project that creates an online shared writing space for middle school students in our Western Massachusetts area (this past year, we had about 200 students writing and responding).

My dilemma has been, what platform? I know others are using Elgg and it seems interesting but a bit complicated for teachers in my group who are not tech savvy and need to be able to troubleshoot and help students basically on their own. There are aspects of Elgg that I really like, including the automatic tag-links created via profile writing. Elgg

And then, there is Ning. A few months ago, I became part of the Classroom 2.0 community over at Ning and it has been quite a wonderful experience. Created by Steve H., Classroom 2.0 has grown leaps and bounds since I came on board. And this network has shown the power of the collective voice, as teachers are sharing resources, strategies and questions, and probing deeper into the Web 2.0 tools, and questioning such things as assessment in the connected world.

I also wanted to try my hand at administering a Ning network, so I created an informal one for technology liaisons within the National Writing Project. It was easy to set up my own Ning network — incredibly easy, and we now have 23 members (I am hoping for many more but don’t want to push too hard). I like the ease of administration and the use of widgets that allow such easy access to load and share videos, audio, and anything else you can think of.

 

And again, this is just another tool for creating a sense of community, so I enjoy “seeing” some old friends and some new friends in the Ning space. And that is a big part of the social networking experience, I think.

Peace (with networks),
Kevin

Social Networking Videos

I came across two wonderful videos about social networking this past week that I have shared elsewhere but want to keep on sharing, since I do believe that this wave of technology is still on the way up and is gaining more footholds every day.

Here is one in general about social networking from Common Craft folks:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/6a_KF7TYKVc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

And here is one made by Chris Sloan, a Writing Project friend and fellow musician from Utah, about using Elgg networks in the classroom:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5911907492375806153" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

I’ll write more this week about my own forays into social networking (as a participant and as a creator).

Peace (with you, and you, and you …),
Kevin

Delicious Networking

This is a pretty cool site called Delicious Network Explorer that allows you to visually “see” the connections in the delicious social bookmarking network. You can type in a username and then it draws connections between the people who are in your network.

Here is what my network looks like, with the 33 people who are connected to me via Delicious (unfortunately, there was no easy way to share the picture so I had to do it manually):

 

 The colors have meaning, too, including who has included you as a friend, and a fan, etc.

 

Peace (in the network),
Kevin

 

The Collaborative ABC Movie Project

For the past few months, I have been overseeing (with my friend, Bonnie) a collaborative project designed to bring teachers from around the country together to experiment with digital storytelling through video. The project is nearing (every so slowly) the first phase, in which about a dozen teachers have been working on short movies based around letters of the alphabet. Later, when all 26 movies are finished, we will use an online site called Jumpcut to collaborate on the editing together into one big movie.

The small movies have been amazing to watch. There have been heartfelt tributes to nurses and horses; childhood stories, both humorous and emotional; and evocative videos that create a sense of place. Many of the folks have never done anything like this before, so some of the use of tech has been a struggle and we are learning as we are going. I am urging them all to share their scripts and their reflections with the bigger community. This is the blog that Bonnie and I set up — called Using Tech to Tell Stories — where much of the work is being shared.
This is my intro movie, which is based on the picture book Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, and I used ToonDoo as a platform for making short comic frames:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5504345373755011847" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

If you want to view all the movies submitted so far, you can head to my Wiki site where I am slowly collecting them at one site. Go to the ABC Wiki.

Peace (with partners),
Kevin

Casting Your Voice to the World: Podcasting 101

I am presenting a workshop this weekend on Podcasting and Audiocasting to teachers in our newly-reinvigorated Massachusetts Writing Project network. The conference is called Because Writing Matters and features Sonia Nieto (who writes and speaks so eloquently about social justice in our educational system) as our guest speaker and a whole host of workshops.

Here is the slideshow that will go along with my workshop. What you can’t hear are small bits and pieces of student voices that runs on each slide, and I intend to use my friend The Reflective Teacher‘s idea of boiling your week down to a single sentence as our writing prompt that will lead to a podcast in the workshop (posted here, of course).

[slideshare id=43815&doc=casting-your-voice-out-to-the-world-2183&w=425]

Here is the direct link: Casting Your Voice Out to the World.

Peace (with podcasts),
Kevin

Classroom 2.0

I have been writing and participating in a social networking site called Classroom 2.0 that has teachers from around the world exploring the issues of the new wave of technology and its intersection with technology. It has been very interesting and many good conversations are emerging from the site (which has a few hundred members right now).

Head on over and check out Classroom 2.0 and join the conversation while learning just what a social networking site is all about.

Here is a blurb:

  Welcome to www.Classsroom20.com, the social networking site devoted to those interested in the practical application of Web 2.0 in the classroom and in their own professional development. Especially we hope that those who feel they are “beginners” will find this a comfortable place to start being a part of the community dialog and to learn more.

Peace (with community),
Kevin