Using Gizmo — warts and all

As part of the K12 Online Conference, I have been most active in the Flat Agents of Change Ning site. One of the tools introduced there is Gizmo, an alternative to Skype that is designed to allow for easy recording of phone conversations.

Gizmo is a free phone for your computer

I set up and had a wonderful conversation with two of my fellow Ningers, Cheryl and Sarah, yesterday morning, via Gizmo. We chatted for about 30 minutes or so and it all seemed to work fine.
But then I ran into trouble.
First, the .wav file that Gizmo recorded would not open up in my Windows Media Player. It said that my player would not support the file type. So I tried to move it into Audacity, hoping I could convert it into an MP3 there. No luck. Then, I tried to send it to Zamzar conversation site and it came back as an empty file. No luck.
Sarah had also recorded the session, so she loaded her file up into her PodcastPeople, but it sounded all squirrely in the playback mode. However, if you did the direct download from her show as an MP3, the audio file worked fine.
So I took that downloaded file and then tried to upload it into my PodcastPeople site.
Again, no luck. Like Sarah’s, it was all gobblygook.
I didn’t give up (the mantra of Web 2.0ers everywhere).
I took the MP3 download from Sarah’s site, and moved it in my Audacity, and the exported it as an MP3.
I tried to then upload that into my PodcastPeople and, 18 hours later, PodcastPeople is still trying to digest the file.
So, I went over to my handy Box.Net site (where I normally host podcasts) and uploaded it, and that worked fine. (Note: the file is big and the flash player seems to buffer forever, but it works quicker if you click on the direct link)

So here is the conversation.

It was too long of a process, however, and I need to figure out if Gizmo is worth it.

Peace (in the process),

PS — Another element of the K12 Conference was a flickr group, where people from around the world submitted a photo or two of dusk on the last day of the conference (Saturday), and I took this photo of the set-up of a pumpkin contest in our neighborhood — I also took some video that I will try to share later this week.

Here is the link to the When Night Falls flickr group.

Building Online Communities for Youth

Some colleagues from the National Writing Project (Chris Sloan and Paul Allison) are also part of the K12 Online Conference and their work was released today and deserves a good listen as they discuss the ways they have nurtured two Elgg-platform social networking sites for middle and high school students. It is an amazing project and deserves kudos and attention.

Along with the podcast and presentation, they are also opening up the lines of their Teachers Teaching Teachers weekly chat session at EdTechTalk to anyone interested in discussing the project.

All the information is at their K12 presentation site:

Peace (in partnership),

K12 Online Conference — We Get Released!

Our Collaborative ABC Movie Project gets released to the K12 Online Conference today and Bonnie and I are thrilled, nervous and wondering how our presentations will be received. We mixed up our formats a bit by:

  • First, Bonnie created a powerful overview movie of the reasons why we launched our ABC Movie project

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  • Second, I created a podcast of my own. Take a listen.
  • Third, we put together a Webpage presentation that features the various tools that we used in the project, plus some nice podcast reflections by
  • And finally, in that Webpage, there is a hands-on collaborative story project that uses the letters of the alphabet and VoiceThread (please join in!)

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The presentation also marks the true public showing of the various movies that we created in Jumpcut along various themes (thanks to Bonnie) and so here they are for your viewing:


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Role Models

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Place Inspirations

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School Days

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Oddballs and Ends

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Thanks for joining on this journey

Kevin and Bonnie

What I am learning: K12 Online Conference

I’ve been trying to set aside some time to explore the K12 Online Conference Workshops and keynotes, but it is difficult to carve out the hours needed. So I have tried to focus a bit on what I am interested in seeing what happens.

A few things that I have discovered as the conference is about halfway through its schedule of released workshops and presentations:

  • Thankfully, the entire conference will be there forever, so I can always go back (note to self — go back)
  • I have been participating most in the podcasting workshop called Flat Agents of Change that uses a Ning site at to gather people together to use some tools for audio. I set up an account with Podcastpeople and it worked quite well, and I may use it for an upcoming workshop on podcasting. They also suggest using a site called Gizmo, which is similar to Skype but allows easy conferencing and recording of the conferencing for later podcasting (So you could interview and record in Gizmo, and then podcast it via Podcastpeople). I’ve also introduced a few forums there, and need to resist taking over their site. So, please, come join this podcast site and give the tools a try.
  • I have followed the Release the Hounds workshop because I was interested in the concept of the “unproject” in which students propose and work on their own multimedia projects — primarily in math — and the teacher is a partner in the creation. But students have control over their learning.
  • I tried to use the Trailfire in the Trailfire workshop because I like the idea of setting a “path” through the Internet for my students, and I even had a project in mind regarding Greek Gods and Myths in preparation for a novel we are about to read. But I just cannot get my Trailfire to work and so another kick in the tires for technology that is frustrating.
  • I came upon a program called Jing for sharing screenshots and video tutorials, etc, during one of the presentations and I haven’t yet installed it but I am on my way. I want an easy way to share with others and I want it to be free. So, maybe Jing is the route — it seems interesting.

On Monday, the K12 folks will be showcasing the workshop that Bonnie and I have created about our Collaborative ABC Movie Project and we certainly hope to have a lot of folks explore our project with us and also — even more important — to contribute to the hands-on portion of our workshop, which involves the use of VoiceThread to create a collaborative ABC project across the world.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

Peace (in K12 Online virtual worlds),

K12 Online Conference workshops

The K12 Online Conference kicked into high gear yesterday with the start of some workshops presentations. Everything seems to be podcasts and videocasts and there were some explorations of new tools and collaborative efforts in the workshops released into the wild yesterday (everything is virtual with K12).

Go ahead – check it out at the K12 site. More workshops are on tap for today (and every day for the next two weeks — including the one Bonnie and I created that gets sent into the public view on Monday)

Peace (in virtual space),

K12 Online Conference … begins today

The 2007 edition of the K12 Online Conference begins today with a keynote podcast by David Warlick on the theme of “Inventing New Boundaries.” Here is a full schedule of events for the virtual conference.

As some readers may know, Bonnie Kaplan (of the Hudson Valley Writing Project) and I are also presenters later on in the month on the topic of our Collaborative ABC Movie project. It’s been interesting to try to develop a workshop in which people need to download presentations on their own time and where there is very little live interaction. Bonnie and I created a podcast, a movie and then a series of steps that lead to some interactive experimentation by folks. (Our presentation gets released on Monday, October 22)

Here is the description of the month-long event:

The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2007 conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 8, 2007. The following two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

Hope to have you there — there are plenty of great presentations on tap.

Peace (in possibilities),

K-12 Online Conference 2007

K12 Online Conference — a new adventure

My friend, Bonnie, and I are presenting at this year’s K12 Online Conference and we hope to show folks how we used the tools of Web 2.0 to create a learning environment for other educators as part of our Collaborative ABC Movie Project. We’re a bit mystified about how the conference will go but we are confident we can handle it, and already have some great ideas brewing for folks who “attend” our virtual workshop.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

At the K12 page, Wesley Friar asked us to list three reasons why we would attend the conference, so here goes:

  • It’s something new and different
  • I want to share our ABC project with others in hopes of getting more students involved in video collaboration
  • Working with Bonnie continues to be an enriching experience

Peace (in K12),