Saturday, December 29, 2007

tt4t_018 Nintendo Wii with an educational twist

It’s Saturday, December 29, 2007 and welcome to Episode 18 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Christmas has come and gone and at my house I am happy to report that Santa Claus found us and left our family a Nintendo Wii Game Console as a present. All I can say is what a cool interface! What separates the Nintendo Wii from other gaming systems is its highly interactive interface that features the Nintendo Wii remote and “nunchucks” both with motion sensing technologies. Nintendo has expanded the gaming market by developing a more natural game interface that young and old alike can easily use.

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Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is the Nintendo Wii. OK, so what does this have to do with education? More than what you might imagine. I believe the interactive interface of the Wii has many applications for education. Trying to keep students attention in the classroom in this day and age is quite a challenge. If students are not paying attention and attending to lessons in the classroom then no learning is taking place. As teachers we need to find methods that actively engage our students in the lesson. To that end we have a lot to learn from gaming vendors. One of the nice things about a few days off is that you have a little extra time to do some research in some areas that you might not normally investigate. While searching for educational uses of the Wii I ran across a site that I believe has the possibility of changing the computer to human interface with a Wii like controller that has educational applications. I have provided a link to Johhny Chung Lee’s website in the show notes that contains several YouTube video demonstrations using the Wii remote to produce a low cost multi-touch interactive whiteboard.

Johnny Chung Lee’s Video Demos of Wii Remote interface

Do me a favor and visit the show notes for episode 18 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers and click on the provided link to watch the video demos. I promise you it will be worth your effort. This interactive interface has tremendous possibilities for education and best of all the price point is becoming affordable for the average classroom. I was formerly a high school chemistry and physics teacher and I know that some of you out there are also interested in educational uses of this technology. Imagine being able to place yourself in a test tube where you can view the molecules of a chemical reaction. If anyone has conducted any experiments similar to Johnny Lee please let me know what you develop so we can share with others. While virtual reality has been around for a number of years it is finally becoming affordable for classroom use.

Show notes for Episode 18 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, December 21, 2007

tt4t_017 Happy Holidays

It’s Friday, December 21, 2007 and welcome to Episode 17 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Just a quick podcast to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays.

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Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a website that allows you to convert file types to different formats. Periodically I find the need to convert a document, image, audio, or video file format to something else. You know, you get that email attachment from someone or you download a file from the Internet but your computer will not open it. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you cannot open a file because you do not have the proper program or plug-in loaded on your computer give the zamzar website a try. There are dozens of file formats that Zamzar can convert and links are provided in the show notes to this website as well as a listing of conversion types. It is not an exhaustive list of conversion formats but this website has come in handy for me in certain situations in the past.

For example, you need to convert a Quicktime Movie file to a Flash Video file or you need a quick way to convert a Word document to Adobe PDF format or visa versa. Zamzar can do this type of conversion for you. Depending upon file size it may take some time to do the conversion, especially for video file formats. As with most Web 2.0 companies there are paid subscriptions that will give you online storage as well as increased speed for converting file formats. You simply browse and upload your file to the website, provide an email address and select the type of format you want your file converted to. You will receive an email from zamzar letting you know when your file has been processed with a link in the email so you can download the converted file. That’s it! I tried this out with a Microsoft Word document and in a matter of seconds I had a link to the converted PDF file, very simple.

Show notes for Episode 17 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, December 14, 2007

tt4t_016 End of the semester - A new beginning

It’s Friday, December 14, 2007 and welcome to Episode 16 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. One more final exam to go and then the semester is officially over. My first post for this blog at the beginning of this semester way back in August was called “a new beginning”. And now as we end the semester I would like to leave with the same philosophy as when we began. I always tell my classes that their learning is just beginning. The students have learned many new skills and have become aware of the potential technology has to offer teachers but they are only beginning to learn. It seems a common misconception for students is to think that they are finished learning once a course is over, yet to be honest, we are never finished learning. Next semester the cycle will begin again. There is always more to learn and I want my students to take what knowledge they have learned this semester and add to it, apply it, and refine it over the coming years for their future endeavors.

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Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a website that has a listing of up-and-coming Web 2.0 companies that bills itself as the “Complete Web 2.0 Directory”. To demonstrate that we are truly in the beginning of innovations regarding Web 2.0 technologies please visit the website called A link is provided in the show notes:

This site gives a listing and overview of the hundreds of Web 2.0 companies currently in development. When you visit the site click on the purple tab in the lower left hand corner to see additional pages. If you are looking for a specific company click in the search box at the top of the page (next to the magnifying glass) and begin typing. The page will update and refine the search with each letter that you type in a Web 2.0ish kind of way.

As of Friday December 14, 2007 this site had 1859 listings for Web 2.0 companies.

So if you think you know everything there is to know about Web 2.0 you haven’t been listening! With the rapid pace of development it is impossible to know everything about the fast-paced world of Web 2.0 The key thing for teachers is being able to recognize promising technologies that have practical applications in the classroom. Stay tuned to TechTalk4Teachers as we continue on this never ending search of finding more effective and efficient technologies for your classroom.

Show notes for Episode 16 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

tt4t_015 Stop reinventing the wheel, work "smarter"

It’s Saturday, December 8, 2007 and welcome to Episode 15 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Well we’ve made it to the last week of the semester and next week we have finals. Educators as a group are very giving and always willing to help a fellow teacher in need. Before I reinvent the wheel I always try to first find something similar to what I have in mind for a particular lesson. There has been so much good material created out there by practicing teachers and available on the Internet that a few minutes of searching will usually produce results.

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Last episode I gave my Technology Pick of the Week to the Smart Board podcast and as it turns out this pick came at just the right time for me to use a jeopardy-like template that I wanted to use in one of my classes. The Smart Notebook template is available at the Smart Board podcast website and a link to this template is provided in the show notes for this episode.

Smart Board Podcast Episode 102 – Jeopardy Smart Notebook Template
(go to the Files section)

This template was very helpful for a semester end review for my undergraduate technology course I teach. All I had to do was download the template and provide my own customized questions. About one hour later I had a complete unit review in the form of a Jeopardy-like game. This allowed me to concentrate on the content and not spend a couple of hours creating a template from scratch.

My students loved it. This provided an engaging lesson where everyone was paying attention and anxiously awaiting their turn. My goal is to have my students to use a similar format in their future classrooms if they are lucky enough to have a SMART Board. If you do not have access to a Smart Board this could easily be adapted to PowerPoint. Modeling best practices is extremely important if we want our future teachers to become proficient with using technology in the classroom. The old saying of we teach the way we were taught has a certain amount of truth to it.

Here’s another tip. Did you know that the SMART Board has a built in recorder available in the Smart tools notebook software that records everything that happens on the Smart Board? The Smart Board Recorder will record your voice with the use of a microphone and will capture a video feed of what is happening on the Smart board in real-time. This will create an avi video file that you can play back on demand in class or upload to the Internet. Since it is in the avi format you can also edit this file with something like Windows Movie Maker as I have done. To give you a brief video demonstration of how I adapted the generic Jeopardy-like template please visit the show notes and click on the Smart board jeopardy demo link.

Click here for a Smart board jeopardy video demo (20MB Windows Media Video)

Yes I know this is an audio podcast but I have wanted to expand some of the content offerings for this show and sometimes video is necessary to get your point across more effectively. Next semester I may add additional video resources but I have mixed feelings about doing this. When I listen to podcast I prefer audio because I can do other things like driving or exercising while I am listening to an audio podcast. Video requires much more concentration and your multitasking activities are limited, driving and watching a video podcast is to be discouraged not to mention illegal! What do you think? Do you prefer that this podcast stay in audio format or would you like to see more video? Let me know what you think so please send your suggestions to This show is all about sharing so the more we can share together the better we all can be but I need your help so please email me.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a small computer app called ZoomIt and is available as a free download for Microsoft Windows users.

It seems counter intuitive that as you increase the resolution of your computer monitor that the icons on the Desktop of your computer become smaller and smaller. The reason for this is that you are packing more pixels closer together as you increase screen resolution. To get around this I increase the font size in my Word documents and change the text size in my browser to the largest font setting so that students in the back of the room can easily see what is projected on the screen in the front of the room. The problem is that you cannot increase the size of graphics or change the size of menus and other graphic elements. For us older folks that can be a problem. It is also a problem if students in the back of the room cannot see the projected image in detail. Enter ZoomIt and your troubles of not being able to see the small print from the back of the room are gone forever.

ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for presentations that include application demonstrations and other demos where it would be nice to see a zoomed in section of the screen in detail. Pressing Ctrl + 1 activates ZoomIt once installed and you can use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and zoom out. Move the mouse around on the screen to go to different portions of the screen in zoom mode.


That wraps it up for this episode. Show notes for Episode 15 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 This episode has featured some additional resources including video so be sure to visit the show notes for Episode 15. If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at I would love to hear from you. That wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, November 30, 2007

tt4t_014 Finding time to learn

It’s Friday, November 30, 2007 and welcome to Episode 14 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Finding the time to learn more about technology is always a challenge for the busy educator. Here are a few of my tips that I use to “find time” to improve my technology skills as well as to constantly improve myself in other areas of my life.

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1) First, making time to learn new things is a necessity. You do not have a choice. It has been said that human knowledge is doubling every 18 to 24 months. That means if you stop learning right now the half-life of your existing knowledge is roughly two years. While this may not be true in all content areas it is certainly true in the world of technology. It can be easy to give up and not try because this seems so overwhelming. If you are in the business of education giving up is not an option. An educators job is to prepare students for the future so continuous learning is a must. Remember my motto? Keep on learning…

2) Secondly, multitasking is your friend. Our children are wonderful multitaskers that the older generation often does not understand. Children text, (often having multiple conversations simultaneously), listen to music, and do homework. This leaves adults skeptics as to how much our children are really learning. Yet todays children multitask with little effort and are learning. How do I take advantage of multi-tasking? About my only so called free time is when I commute or exercise so I use this time by listening to podcasts about specific topics I am interested in. This has greatly influenced my professional development habits and has made me more productive at work and at home.

3) My third tip for better managing your time is to use a centralized scheduling program. I currently use the Microsoft Outlook Calendar program. By having a centralized calendar you can coordinate all of your activities in one place. This prevents time conflicts and keeps you on task. Since I have web access to Outlook I can look up and add to my calendar anywhere there is Internet access.

4) Time and place shifting. As much as we would like to you cannot be everywhere, consider making digital content available for repetitious duties that you currently perform. For example create a digital lesson that your students can use at a learning center. Produce minipodcasts of material for students that need material repeated over and over. This will free up your time to work with another student or group.

5) Access to information anytime and anywhere. By far one of the biggest productivity tools for me is having critical files available online that I can access anywhere there is an Internet connection. Getting away from the desktop computer paradigm as the central storage location of data and moving to the network paradigm will greatly increase your productivity. Google docs and spreadsheets offers this capability as well as other online storage solutions. Other Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis also make it easy for you to have information available to you and to others 24x7, 365 days a year.

How do you improve your productivity? Send me an email to with your suggestions on how you use technology to improve your productivity.

With all of that being said I also find it necessary to periodically unplug myself from the rapid pace of todays modern society. I call this going off the grid and for me personally this is necessary in order for me to keep up my enthusiasm and not become bruned out. Get away every now and then and go enjoy nature and the wonders of the world. There is much more to life than work so enjoy yourself.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week


A quick Tour of Rubistar

My Technology Pick of the week this week is called Rubistar and is an online rubric creator that is free to educators that want to create their own rubrics. This website has rubric templates for many different subject areas and is also searchable. Be sure to check out the Quick Tour of Rubistar link provided in the show notes for this episode to help get you started using this tool quickly. You may select standard templates for your rubrics or you may completely customize rubrics to meet your individual needs.

Having clearly defined rubrics especially for project based learning helps both the teacher and the students by clearly defining assessment criteria before a project is started. You can also create a rubric with the assistance of your students so that they can help you in defining the parameters of a project. This gives the students a sense of responsibility and prepares them for the actual project. Thousands of rubrics have been created at this site and rubrics may also be shared with others. There is also an interactive rubric but that requires registration and a login to the site. Be sure to check this site out the next time you are creating a rubric for your assignments.

That wraps it up for this episode. Show notes for Episode 14 and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at So until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

tt4t_013 A Smart Board Resource for Teachers

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It’s Saturday, November 24, 2007 and welcome to Episode 13 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the holiday break. I took a couple of days off this week so this will be an abbreviated podcast but I wanted to share with you my Technology Pick of the Week.

This coming week I will be giving another Smart Board presentation to the Ed Scholars group at EIU. We are having good success with the Smart Boards we have installed at the beginning of this semester and so far I have provided training sessions to over 400 professors and students in their use. One of the questions I get asked a lot is to provide resources about how other teachers are using Smart Boards in the classroom. Since I work with preservice teachers and other teachers from the Kindergarten level to the university level it is always a challenge to find age appropriate resources but I think I have found a resource that you will find valuable no matter what your subject area or grade level.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

The Smart Board Podcast

My Technology Pick of the week this week is a blog/podcast combination called the Smart Board Podcast. A link is provided in the show notes.

The tag line to this website is:
“Digital ink doesn't stain... it leaves a mark in the mind. Go leave your mark!”

This podcast has recently made it to episode 100 so congratulations goes out to its creators. If you look on the right side of the website you can find previous episodes organized by categories and if you scroll down near the middle of the page on the right side you will find the previous episode archives. Listening to these podcasts are a great way to hear what others are doing with Smart Boards in their classrooms. This is well worth a listen and if you find this resource valuable you can subscribe to the podcast using iTunes, Zune Marketplace, or your favorite podcast aggregator and listen to them at your convenience.

Show notes for this episode and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for Episode 13 of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

tt4t_012 Social Bookmarking, It’s Mmm, Mmm Delicious!

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It’s Saturday, November 17, 2007 and welcome to Episode 12 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Before I begin this week I would to answer a couple of questions I received about last weeks podcast on PowerPoint Producer. I forgot to mention that you do need to use the Internet Explorer browser to view the content created by Producer. Roughly 80 percent of Internet users use Internet Explorer as their main browser but there is a significant percentage that use other browsers. I have not tried using Mozilla Firefox with the Internet Explorer plug-in to view Producer content but I suspect that combination would work. If someone out there has the IE plug-in installed in Firefox I would be interested in knowing if PowerPoint Producer files do work with Firefox. Just wanted to clear that up if anyone was having trouble viewing some of the links I provided in last weeks show notes.

This week I am beginning to think about Thanksgiving dinner and thus the inspiration for the title of this podcast of Social Bookmarking, It’s Mmm, Mmm Delicious! We are expecting between 20 and 30 family members at our house for Thanksgiving dinner so I will be cooking three turkeys in preparation of the feast. OK, so what is the tie in with delicious theme? is an Internet website owned by Yahoo that is used for social bookmarking purposes. I have used this site regularly over the past couple of years and I find it very valuable as a teacher.

Think of just as you would your favorites list in Internet Explorer or your bookmark lists in other browsers. There is one major difference. bookmarks are saved on the Internet and thus are available to you anywhere in the world where you have an Internet connection. They can travel with you. You just go to your account on the website and voila there are your bookmarks. Cool! This is so helpful to me as a teacher because I do a lot of workshops and therefore I am not always setting in front of my computer. In the old days (three or four years ago) if I needed to look up something I bookmarked on my computer when outside my office I was out of luck, but not with Now if I need to check a link when away from my desk I just go to my bookmarks on the Internet and there is my bookmark list.

The second major advantage to is that I can share my bookmarks with anyone that knows my account address. My account address is provided in the show notes for this episode.

Tom Grissom’s bookmarks:

By sharing my bookmarks others can take advantage of material that I have collected over the years and it is all freely available on the Internet.

The third advantage is that when I add a link in I can see if any other users have previously linked to the content that I am interested in. For example if others have linked to the same material I can click on the section in my bookmark listings that says saved by 21 other people (this is usually highlighted in pink) When clicked this brings up a list of other users that have also bookmarked the same content. If I would like I can click on their username to see their bookmarks. Sometimes you will get lucky and find someone that has similar interests to you and you can learn a lot from their bookmarks. This can save you hours and hours of searching on the Internet because other users has already vetted material for you. The key is finding an expert that has similar interests as you. As with anything on the Internet be careful when exploring because some other users may not share the same tastes as you.

The fourth big advantage of social bookmarking is something called tags or tagging. When you bookmark something in you are given the opportunity to write some notes about the link you wish to bookmark and you can also assign a tag to the entry which is like a keyword to categorize your links by. For example when I find something of interest for my edu2022 class I tag it with the keyword edu2022, when my student visit my links I tell them to select the edu2022 tag on the right side of the screen and they will only see the content that I have tagged as relevant for this class. I am sure you will find many uses for Please send me an email to with a story about how you use and I will pass it along to our listeners.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week website

My Technology Pick of the week this week is the website. User accounts are free if you would like to give it a try. As I have mentioned before the only downside is yet another userid and password to remember. The social part of bookmarking is finding other users that share similar interests and you can add them to your network if you like. You can also be notified when others update their links. You can even have a fan club. Right now under my account I have two fellow users that are listed as my fans. Cool, Thank You! I am not sure who they are but it does give you a good feeling knowing that you have helped out others enough that they would add themselves to your network as a fan.

Show notes for this episode and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for Episode 12 of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, November 9, 2007

tt4t_011 PowerPoint Producer a useful tool for teachers and students

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It’s Friday, November 9, 2007 and welcome to Episode 11 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This week I would like to introduce you to a program that has been around for a number of years but I am surprised by how few teachers know about it. PowerPoint Producer 2003 is a free program available from Microsoft.

PowerPoint Producer has been around since Office XP in 2002 and PowerPoint Producer works with Microsoft Office 2003. Producer basically allows users to create virtual PowerPoint presentation that can be uploaded and delivered via your website. When you begin a Producer project you are given a wizard that allows you to select the type of format you would like to produce. If you have a video camera that will connect to your computer you can create a PowerPoint presentation with a talking head video of you in the upper left corner of the screen and the PowerPoint slide showing in the main portion of the screen. If you simply want to annotate the PowerPoint slides all you need is a microphone.

I have used this program in the past to create self-standing presentations to be used in learning centers. An individual student or small group of students can go to the learning station and watch and listen to the presentation created with PowerPoint Producer. If you wish you can upload the producer project folder and all associated files to the Internet so that anyone can view the presentation using a browser. You do not have to upload the files created to the Internet because this program creates a self-contained folder that can be burned to a CD or copied to a local computer for local access.

The other way that I have used PowerPoint Producer is for student presentations. Students use Producer to develop a virtual PowerPoint presentation that I and other students can view at a time of our choosing. This gives students the chance to practice PowerPoint presentations but not take up class time. Sometimes you do not want to give up class time for students to present, if you have 20 students and each one gives a 10 minute presentation that is 200 minutes of class time, over three hours! Students do need time to present in front of groups but I have found that students are just as motivated in giving virtual presentations. The other benefit is that they can upload the presentations to the Internet and share with anyone. This is a good motivator for students and I have found that the quality of work goes up if the students know ahead of time that the work will be posted to the Internet.

Links are provided in the show notes for the PowerPoint Producer 2003 download site and additional information about this program.

Download PowerPoint Producer 2003

PowerPoint Producer Tutorials and Examples (from McMurry University)

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

Voice Thread

My Technology Pick of the week this week is a new Web 2.0 tool called Voice Thread. A link to the Voice Thread website is provided in the show notes. Voice Thread is a service that allows users to narrate pictures and share with others. It is a lot like a blog but instead of commenting about a blog post in writing you create a voice recording associated with a picture. The real power comes when multiple people make vocal comments on a particular picture and thus a single picture can have multiple perspectives. This is an excellent story telling tool. Be sure to check out Voice Thread because I think it can have many uses in the classroom no matter what subject area or grade level you teach. They have some excellent demos at the website for you to get acquainted with this new tool.

Show notes for this episode and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for Episode 11 of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

tt4t_010 The Long Tail

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(or right click to download to your computer or portable MP3 player)

It’s Saturday, November 3, 2007 and welcome to Episode 10 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This episode marks a small milestone for this show as this is the 10th episode of TechTalk4Teachers. Hurray, we made it to double digits! According to Rob Walch of podcast411 one out of five podcast do not make it past the 10th episode. I made myself a promise to give this show a semester and re-evaluate at the end of the semester. If you find value from these shows please let me know. As with most podcasters we are truly interested in what our listeners think and love to hear from others.

In a previous episode I discussed podfading and how podfading has entered the vocabulary of podcasters. It is easy to get excited about educational technologies when they are in the novelty stage. It is much tougher to cut through the hype and utilize the technologies in a sound pedagogical manner to the benefit of teachers and students. Another thing that I have noticed about many of the successful longer lasting podcasts is that they evolved over time to fill a niche. This is a consequence of taking advantage of what has become known as the “long tail” that podcasting and other Web 2.0 technologies can target to be successful. The long tail is a statistical term that refers to the end areas of a power curve distribution where a small number of the population is represented. In professional markets broadcasters target the middle of the curve where most of the population is represented. The corporate media typically does not concern itself with the small numbers of the long tail and thus provides an opportunity for podcasters to serve this audience.

Successful podcasts, at least the ones that are well known, must also actively market their product so that podcasting directories pick up their coverage. This is something I have yet to do. Finding time to do a weekly podcast is challenging enough, throwing in time to market a podcast is beyond the resources most podcasters have. There is also a certain distaste that many feel regarding marketing efforts and many educators are uncomfortable with shameless self-promotion. That being said I do need to investigate further the requirements to be listed in iTunes and other directories. From what I currently understand all that is required for registering with iTunes is an iTunes account that requires a credit card. Why do you need to give out credit card information if all you want to do is register your podcast? This requirement can be a showstopper for many that do not want to give out credit card information over the Internet. If anyone has recently registered their podcast with iTunes please let me know the process you used and if you were satisfied with the results. You can email me at

I have also been reading several articles and listening to other podcasts about the misnomer of the word podcast. Listener statistics indicate that approximately 70 to 80 percent of all podcasts are listened to using a computer and not the branded MP3 players as the name implies. Are you listening to this podcast using your computer or your MP3 player? Adam Curry, the podfather himself, has reconsidered the definition of podcasting and has stated that while RSS feeds and subscriptions were in the original technical description of podcasting this has not turned out to be the reality for the majority of consumers of podcasts. While the iPod has captured the lions share of the publicity there is increasing competition which is a good thing. The evolution continues and while educators are sorting out effective uses of the technology the past has some important lessons to learn from. The podcast directories need to be much better and easier to contribute to. The MP3 players also need to be less expensive. More high-quality podcast choices are needed in niche markets such as education. This will all come with time as the technologies mature.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is a successful podcast series that now has over 100 shows to their credit. The show was formerly known as Podcasts for Teachers but has recently changed the showname to The Teachers Podcast. The shows host Dr. Kathy King and Mark Gura are from Fordham University in New York and were early adopters of podcasting. Their format is similar to a NPR radio show covering educational technology developments and often have guest interviews with educators in the know about educational technologies. I encourage you to give them a listen as they are entertaining and informative. A link is provided in the show notes for both the old show and new show locations.

That about wraps it up for this episode of TechTalk4Teachers, until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, October 26, 2007

tt4t_009 Podcasting with 3rd Graders

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(or right click to download to your computer or portable MP3 player)

It’s Friday, October 26, 2007 and welcome to Episode 9 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. The podcast this week is a short overview of a recent collaborative project that I am right in the middle of that involves several parties. I am working with an Assistant Professor of education, two 3rd grade teachers, and several preservice teachers, and a local 3rd grade class on a special project named Project WOW. Project WOW has been in existence for several years at Eastern Illinois University and is a collaborative partnership between our college of education and a local elementary school. Previous years have focused on the creation of webpages but this year the group is venturing into a podcasting project. The 3rd graders are assigned an Illinois Hero and they are to do research on the selected individual and then create a podcast featuring that hero. We had our first recording last week and the Instructional Technology Center Lab was buzzing with excited children making their first podcast recordings!

Things went very well although having nearly 50 children working in two labs was a challenge logistically. As you can imagine recording multiple groups in the same room did present some interesting sound engineering challenges. Overall I was pleased with the quality of the recordings and the use of the directional microphones did help eliminate much of the background noise. The preservice teachers did great working with the groups of 3rd graders. We used the Audacity sound recording software loaded on four year old Gateway computers with the Windows XP operating system. The recording went very well and the 3rd graders did a wonderful job. We have a couple of more sessions planned in the near future so as I said we are still in the middle of this project. In a future show I would like to arrange an interview with the coordinator for this project if she is willing to appear on this show as a guest to share her wisdom and experiences with this technology rich project.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

The Copyright Site

My Technology Pick of the week this week is a website that provides an overview of copyright issues that teachers face regarding the production of media projects in the classroom. The website is called the Copyright Site and a link is provided in the show notes. One of the things that I have noticed is that students, especially elementary students, do not give copyright issues a second thought. This is quite natural in that young students have no experience with such an abstract concept. As teachers we need to do our best to model projects that respect the intellectual property rights of others and thus introduce this to our students at an early age. Modeling best practices at an early age reinforces the concept that you cannot just use any source of media without giving the owner proper credit and observing copyrights. Because computers have made media creation so easy obeying copyright laws is increasingly becoming a problem area for educators to address with their students. This topic definitely deserves a dedicated show of its own and in the coming weeks I will be gathering resources related to copyright and other Intellectual Property Right resources that teachers need to be aware of when producing multimedia classroom projects.

Show notes for this episode and previous episodes are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4 If you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for a Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at That wraps it up for Episode 9 of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, October 19, 2007

tt4t_008 Join the K12 Online Conference - Episode 8

Click here to listen
(or right click to download to your computer or portable MP3 player)

It’s Friday, October 19, 2007 and welcome to Episode 8 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This week I would like to bring your attention to an online conference that is currently in progress. The name of the conference is the K12 Online Conference and as the name implies it is 100% online with over forty sessions posted for viewing. This is the second year for this conference and it offers educators a different approach to receiving and participating in professional development activities. The conference features both synchronous and asynchronous activities and is accesed via a computer with an Internet connection. The synchronous activities, as the name implies, requires you to participate at a given time but one of the nice features of this conference is that many of the activities are asynchronous - meaning that you can participate at a time that is convenient for you. This conference highlights Web 2.0 tools and is basically an interactive blog that allows participants to download audio and video files on demand. The Keynotes are prerecorded and this year featured keynoters are David Warlick a noted technologist, former school teacher and blogging evangelist, Clarence Fisher of Snow Lake, Manitoba, Canada is a teacher with 13 years experience and Alan Levine from Scottsdale, Arizona and Vice President and CTO of the New Media Consortium. The three keynotes are available at the conference website and can be listened to or watched at your computer or if you choose downloaded and played back on a portable media device. The three keynotes are definitely worth a listen and links are provided in my show notes to the keynotes. Most of the presentations available at this online conference are by real-world practicing teachers and offer great practical examples of integrating technology into the curriculum.

This conference is ongoing through the month of October and continues throughout next week. A schedule of events is provided in the show notes. If you are interested in participating live. Click here for the K12 Online Conference Schedule

The online conference format can work in a variety of ways. For some presentations you simple go to the session listing on the web and listen or watch prerecorded content. You then have the option to post a comment on the blog for the selected session. Some of the sessions feature asynchronous chat, some offer synchronous chat - that is immediate and more interactive, Other formats include Skype-like synchronous audio and sometimes video participation via webcams. It is up to you if you want to leave a comment about a particular session, if you choose you may simply listen or watch the sessions without commenting.

The benefits to this type of online conference format include reduced cost, did I mention that the K12 online conference is FREE! No travel expenses are required, no registration fees, no lost work time due to travel, and you can participate at a time that is convenient for you. What a deal! Some conference content can also be downloaded and accessed on demand, information about the sessions from last years conference are also archived on the website.

Another benefit to the conference is that there is not a limit to the number of people participating in a session since it is virtual. Have you ever gone to a conference only to find that it was hosted in a small room and the session gets so filled quickly that you have to select an alternative session to the one you wanted? The great thing about cyberspace is that there are no limits on physical space. You get access to the movers and shakers of the field. If you so choose you may continue correspondence with presenters and participants after the conference is over since many also have blogs, wikis, and/or podcasts.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week


My Technology Pick of the week this week is a website/service called Gcast. Gcast allows you to easily create podcasts by recording your voice using a phone. This make it incredible easy to record a podcast. All that is needed is a free account and Gcast handles all the behind the scenes technology. Gcast also allows you to upload prerecorded MP3 files and provides a mixer for you to mix podsafe music into your podcast. A link is available in the show notes so be sure to try this one out as it is very easy to use. There tagline is

“So easy your grandma could do it -- it's fun and FREE!“

Links to the K12 Online Conference, Gcast and other resources featured in this podcast are available in the show notes for Episode 8 available at that’s techtalk the number 4 IF you have a comment or suggestion for a future show or a suggestion for Technology Pick of the Week then please email me at Well that wraps it up for Episode 8 so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

tt4t_007 From Podcasts to Podfading: Revoultion and Evolution - Episode 7

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It’s Saturday, October 13, 2007 and welcome to Episode 7 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the rapid pace of new technologies that can help teachers in the classroom. Most teachers I know want to keep current on new trends and technologies but time is always a factor in learning new things, especially for busy educators. I have been having several conversations with faculty at both the K-12 and higher education levels about what tools they should be using. I get asked a lot about what technology tool they should be learning more about. Of course that depends upon the individual situation and what educational goals the teacher hopes to accomplish. My advice, select a tool of interest and begin to learn about that tool, do not wait for the perfect technology to come along because that will be long wait. Let your instructional objectives determine the tool of choice. Too often it is the other way around and that gives educational technology a bad reputation and rightly so. Educators often get caught up in the hype of a new gadget that suddenly becomes the answer to everyones prayers. The new gadget gets praise from the high priests of the technology kingdom and futurists prognosticate that the gadget changes everything and that a new revolution is born. Some educators believe if they hold out long enough the latest technology fad will go away and I am sad to say that in many cases they are correct. Will the podcasting craze subcumb to this fate?

Podcasting didn’t even become a word until 2004 and it took less than a year for another word to be added to the lexicon of tech terminology, that word is podfading. Podfading is a word used to describe a podcaster that is very enthusiastic about podcasting in the beginning but over time the enthusiasm fades as the novelty wears off. The podcasters’ podcasts become fewer and farther between episodes and possibly even dies. Only two years ago podcasting became the word of the year in 2005 as chosen by the New Oxford American Dictionary. As is the case with many technologies the enthusiasm wanes as time goes by.

Podfading Takes Its Toll (Wired Magazine)

Those of us that have the blessing or curse of measuring our educational experience in decades are aware of this phenomena. As each new “tech toy” enters the fray many jump on the bandwagon. How do we go from toy to tool? I submit that we are enduring an evolution rather than revolution and should realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The problem is when you are rallying the troops for change to address the needs of 21st Century learners participating in a revolution is much more desirable and exciting than participating in an evolution. Yet progress takes time. A revolution has a sense of urgency to it. Educators should feel a sense of urgency as change is all around us and change we must to remain relevant for todays students. We must also give considerable thought to the implementation of new technologies in the classroom and not just have some knee-jerk reaction to whatever technology is in vogue at the moment.

When a new technology comes along ask yourself:
Does this new technology have an educational purpose?
Is it a toy or a tool?
Does this new technology offer something better than what I am currently doing?
Does this new technology make me more efficient and effective as a teacher?
Does this new technology help students learn more efficiently and effectively?
What is the price/reward ratio of using this technology?
Can this new technology be implemented on a wide-scale economically feasible for schools?

As I have said many times before technology allows teachers to do different things, not just to do things differently. For the most part when a new innovation comes along we adapt it to do something we are already doing. It takes time to find new effective ways to use the technology. What is the difference between accessing a sound file from a webpage verses listening to it on a MP3 player. Is not the end educational result the same? Before the web came along audio content was delivered to the masses via CD’s and before that cassette tapes. The technology has been evolving for years, the revolution lies in the way content can now be distributed and the fact that everyone can be an author if they so choose. Digitizing content allows for mass distribution with little or no cost and offers the possibility of democratizing content. In addition this distribution is immediate and on demand, dare I say just-in-time?
Do I think podcasts are going to go away? Absolutely not, but I would also suggest that podcasting is an evolution and it will take some time to find more effective ways to utilize podcasts in the classroom.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

Sesame Street Podcasts
My Technology Pick of the week this week is for the younger crowd and is a new podcast from Sesame Street. For an entertaining read go to the link in my show notes about how Sesame Street is providing free podcasts to viewers. Currently the podcasts are in video form where they are re-purposing old content to new media. Here is the kicker, this website was announced September 17th of this year and by September 28th Sesame Street announced in a press release stating they were now #1 in the iTunes ranking of video podcasts! That is simply amazing, ten days from zero podcasts on iTunes to being ranked #1. That is the power of new distribution methods.

It is amusing to be reading about RSS feeds and explanations about what a podcast is from this website. My only suggestion is to have Big Bird and Cookie Monster explain RSS feeds to me. We can now say that podcasting has gone from Sesame Street to Main Street.

Links to the Sesame Street podcasting website, the news release, and other resources discussed in Episode 7 are provided in the show notes available at that’s techtalk the number 4

That wraps it up for this week until next time this is Tom Grissom , keep on learning.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

tt4t_006 School 2.0 – Teacher Tools for the net generation - Episode 6

Click here to listen

It’s Saturday October 6, 2007 and welcome to Episode 6 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers. It is the end of another very busy week and yesterday’s Regional Office of Education Fall Classic Professional Development Conference was a huge success. Thanks goes out to all the ROE 11 folks that organized the conference and congratulations on another well attended conference! I want to thank everyone that attended my sessions on School 2.0 yesterday and offer a bit of a follow-up. As promised a link is provided in the show notes to my PowerPoint as it was presented. (School 2.0 PowerPoint)The technologies discussed yesterday now enable the continuation of the conversation and can offer more detail to the topics discussed for those interested. One of the negatives of a face-to-face conference format is that you typically only have 50 minutes to present your material and you are then finished. Limiting a School 2.0 conversation to 50 minutes is really an impossible task so I tried to give an overall view of the technologies and where I think we are headed with the adoption of these technologies in schools. I also tried to break yesterdays’ presentation into about a 50/50 mix of lecture and question time for discussion. The Student Response Systems used during the presentation gave the group immediate feedback about the audience response to the questions about blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other Web 2.0 technologies.

If you are interested in participating and leaving a comment in this blog you may click on the Comments feature located at the bottom of this post and leave a comment. As I mentioned yesterday the comments feature on this blog is moderated by me and therefore when you leave a comment it must be approved by me before it is posted for the world to see. That is the educator in me wanting to ensure that no inappropriate comments with profanity or something else inappropriate gets posted. Blogger also requires you to type in random letters when you post your comments to ensure that blogs do not get spammed by bot-like programs that generate automated messages. This is all for the protection of the blog owner to protect the integrity of the blog. This is not meant to deter you from commenting so please contribute so that we can all learn together. As I mentioned yesterday this is an excellent informal way to continue professional development activities. If you have a resource you would like to share or a question or comment you may also email me at

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
It’s time for Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week this week I would like to highlight a couple of educational podcasts at the K-12 level that demonstrate the possibilities of the power of an audio delivered format.

The first site I would like to share is Radio Willow Web and is produced by Elementary students. Here is a description from their website“ Radio WillowWeb is a podcast for kids and by kids from the students at Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. Each new show is called a Willowcast. Each Willowcast can be heard on WillowWeb as an mp3 digital audio file.”

The second example I would like to share is a blog/podcast combination from 8th grade American History teacher Eric Langhorst of Missouri and offers an example of how teachers can incorporate this technology into the classroom experience.

Links are provided in the Show Notes for Episode 6 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers and can be found at Be sure to check them out for ideas on how you can use this type of technology in your classroom.

That wraps it up for another episode for this week so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, September 28, 2007

tt4t_005 What is Web 2.0? - Episode 5

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It’s Friday September 28, 2007 and welcome to Episode 5 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom.

This week I would like to pull back a bit from our previous discussions about Google Docs and discuss a term that I am getting more and more questions about. That term is Web 2.0. What is Web 2.0 and what does it mean for educators? Well most likely you have been using Web 2.0 technologies for quite a while now without even realizing it. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and Vice President of O'Reilly Media is given credit for coining the phrase Web 2.0 at an O'Reilly and MediaLive International conference in 2004. The term was then used to describe the second generation of Web applications that were beginning to appear after the dot com bust of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s

Web 2.0 represents a shift from the personal use of web technologies to more collaborative uses of web technologies. I have provided a link in the show notes to the O’Reilly Media website that gives a good overview about how the term was conceived. Since that time the term has entered our popular culture and has been modified in all areas of life to describe the next generation of technological advancement. You see terms like Business 2.0 and School 2.0 in the media to describe how new Web 2.0 tools are changing the way we do business and also changing the way we educate our children.

In simplest terms my definition of Web 2.0 is based on two words Read/Write, that’s WRITE. The read/write web has enabled millions of users to participate and publish information very easily with the click of the mouse. No more having to learn HTML coding or learning how to upload files using FTP programs. The ease of use aspect of Web 2.0 is very important and a new set of technologies are being developed to make the web browser act more and more like a desktop computer operating system. Two developments are enabling this shift. First is the increasing availability of high-speed broadband access to the Internet and secondly is the use of new toolsets based on AJAX that allow programmers to develop applications that can be delivered to a web browser but act like a desktop operating system. For those that want to know AJAX stands for Asynchronous Java Script and XML and a link is provided in the show notes if you would like to learn more. Do not let the vocabulary and acronyms scare you away. Web 2.0 technologies are very easy to use and offer powerful new methods of communicating and collaborating and we are just in the beginning stages of Web 2.0 possibilities.

Do you use Web 2.0? Well if you are listening to this podcast, you are using Web 2.0 If you read or write a blog, or have your own wiki you are using Web 2.0. The past two episodes of Techtalk4teachers have discussed Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Web 2.0 Do you use social bookmarking sites like or Digg, Web 2.0 Do you use Ficker or some other photo sharing site? Web 2.0 Do you use Skype or some other Voice over IP technology to make phone calls or video conference calls? Web 2.0 Do you use Wikipedia? Web 2.0 Do you use You Tube or Teacher Tube? Web 2.0 Do you use My Space, Facebook, or Friendster? Web 2.0 There are hundreds more but most likely you are already using Web 2.0 tools without realizing it. The key to all of these applications is that they provide you a way to easily share and collaborate with others. You can read the contents of others or if you choose you may write your own content and become the author. Web 2.0 is truly Read and Write. Never before have so many had the capability to participate and have a voice in a worldwide community.

If all of this is new to you do not feel left behind because most of the applications just mentioned did not exist five years ago. We have come to a confluence in technology that is marrying high-speed Internet access with browser-based applications that is changing the rules that we have been living with since the invention of the first PC’s in the mid 1970’s. We are moving from the desktop to the webtop and this journey has just begun. Webtop applications are currently in a primitive state but over time they will evolve into more sophisticated applications indistinguishable from desktop operating systems. In a way we have come full circle and are going back to the future with more of a mainframe computer type approach. I do believe Web 2.0 tools will improve overtime but schools must have 99.9% reliable high-bandwidth networks if teachers and students are to truly integrate these technologies into the classroom.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
It’s time for Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week and this weeks pick is the CIA World Factbook. If you are looking for an updated source of information about any country in the world including government information, demographics, and maps then be sure to visit the CIA World FactBook website. Yes, it is from the Central Intelligence Agency. A link is provided in the show notes.

CIA World FactBook

Many of the maps are in Adobe PDF format and therefore you can use the magnifying glass in Adobe Acrobat Reader to zoom in on an area of the map you would like to highlight for a particular lesson. The site is updated regularly and contains a wealth of information and all of this is free for the browsing.

As a reminder to listeners I will be giving two presentations at the ROE Tech Conference on Friday Oct 5th called School 2.0 Teacher tools for the next generation at Charleston High School. Please stop by my session if you are there to learn more about individual Web 2.0 applications and their use in classrooms. I would love to hear from you and get your opinion on how to improve this show so why not drop me an email at and let me know what you are thinking.

I would also like to thank Vish for posting the first official comment in this Blog for Episode 4. Thank You Vish! Vishone pointed out that Google does have single-sign on for users of google applications like Google docs and blogger That really helps cut down on the number of userID’s and passwords required. There still remains the problem of having a different Flickr account, a different eBay account, a different Skype account, a different account, a different Digg account and the list goes on and on. I have also received a couple of emails to addressed to and I appreciate your comments, let me know what you are interested in and we will do our best to produce a show around that content.

That wraps it up for another episode so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

tt4t_004 Google Presently – an online PowerPoint Alternative

Tech Talk 4 Teachers - Episode 4
Google Presently – an online PowerPoint Alternative

Click here to listen

It’s Friday September 21, 2007 and welcome to Episode 4 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Well last weeks podcast about Google Docs and Spreadsheets was very timely because this week Google has added the availability of Google Presently to Google Apps. Google Presently is an online presentation tool similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. This past spring I was using zenter, an independent company that was developing a PowerPoint like online tool and I really liked the interface but fortunately or unfortunately it was bought out by Google in June and Google took it off the market. Another PowerPoint like application by Tonic Systems was also purchased by Google in April of this year so Google has been adding intellectual property in this area for some time now. As an educator it is sometimes frustrating to see these companies come and go so I am always cautious about using any Web 2.0 tool because you never know how long they may be around before a bigger company buys them out. The other very frustrating thing with all of these programs is the problem of creating a new userid and password for every application you want to try out. I sat down the other day and started to count how many different userids and passwords I had with various sites and I stopped at 40 between work and home accounts before I became too depressed about this problem. Someday a company will invent a userid and password synchronization tool that will address this issue and when that happens I want to invest in that company. One of the dangers of using Web 2.O tools is that this market is still developing and many of the tools especially the ones that are free appear and disappear rapidly. Many of the tools are supported by advertising, a few are offered as subscription services but this business model is also changing and now that Google is getting closer to completing their online application suite Google and other Web 2.0 companies are considering charging a fee similar to the selling of traditional software. The Advertising supported model is something that I am concerned about as an educator. We are constantly being targeted by advertisers to purchase their products. Do we really want this advertising in our schools? Is free software worth this intangible cost? As my dad used to say there is no such thing as a free lunch and I do worry about the slippery slope of advertisements in schools but that is a topic for another day.
There is so much happening and I have so much to share in the coming weeks so stay tuned for the exciting wild west days of Web 2.0. Speaking of Web 2.0 I will be giving two presentations at the ROE Tech Conference on Oct 5th called School 2.0 Teacher tools for the next generation at Charleston High School. I have presented at this conference for several years and it is always a good conference for local educators to attend. If you are there and have listened to this podcast be sure to stop by and chat. I would love to hear from you and get your opinion on how to improve this show.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
This weeks Technology Pick of the week is Google Presently and links are provided in the show notes for you to check out this new online PowerPoint alternative. There is also a link to a video available on YouTube that does a nice job explaining how Google Apps work.

Google Docs in Plain English YouTube Video

To use any of the Google Apps you will need to register for an account with Google but this is currently free and worthy of a look by educators. Presently is a very basic slideshow program but the attractiveness for me is the ability to share your documents with others and collaborate online. Like Google docs and spreadsheets you can share a Presently document with others to edit and contribute to. When the document is saved you have the ability to go back to previous revisions so you can see a complete history of all changes and see the evolution of the document. This is a great way for educators to collaborate and something I will be investigating further and I will let you know how it is going in future shows.
Well that wraps it up for this week until next time this is Tom Grissom , keep on learning.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

tt4t_003 Tech Talk 4 Teachers - Episode 3

Click here for Episode 3
Clash of the Titans
Show Notes

There has been a battle brewing between Web 2.0 companies and the "traditional" software companies. Many companies are building new applications in a new model known as "Software as a Service" or SaaS

Instead of buying software and installing it on your PC you access the software online. Many of the new SaaS applications are currently free and the most notable to date is Google Docs and Spreadsheets. This is a rapidly evolving world and traditional software makers are experiencing new competition. As a result traditional software makers are re-evaluating their market conditions.

This week Microsoft announced reduced pricing for the Ultimate Office 2007 suite of tools for students. For more information please visit:

This weeks Technology Pick of the week is Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
To learn more about Googles entry into this world visit the link below.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

Until next time, keep on learning.

Friday, September 7, 2007

tt4t_002 Tech Talk 4 Teachers - Episode 2

Click here for Episode 2 podcast
It’s Friday September 7, 2007 and welcome to Episode 2 of tech talk for teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This episode I will introduce you to Smart boards and the many benefits for teachers and students. We have recently installed smart boards in several of our classrooms and are excited to offer our teachers and students access to this technology. We have installed the SMART brand of smart boards that have become very popular in area K-12 classrooms. Smart Technologies have offered Smart boards since the early 1990’s and are one of the industry leaders with this technology. A couple of recent developments have made Smart boards more attractive to educators. Last fall Smart Technologies offered for the first time a wide screen 16x9 format board that has become the standard of todays High Definition presentation systems. The software was also upgraded to version 9.5 and has evolved into an easy to use product that teachers find intuitive and can utilize effectively with very little training.

A smart board is much like a conventional white board but has the advantage of being digital and interactive. The smart board is connected to a computer using a USB cable making the board a touch sensitive device. An overhead projector is required to project the computer image to the smart board. Instead of using the mouse on your computer you use your finger to control the computer connected to the smart board. For example to open a browser simply double tap the browser icon projected on the smart board with your finger (instead of double clicking the mouse). In essence your finger becomes the mouse allowing the teacher to do board work at the smart board. The smart notebook software that comes with the smart board turns the board into an interactive digital white board capable of saving electronic copies of all board work. In addition there is an extensive gallery of educational content in every major subject area from math, english, science, sports, and many others. Using the Smart notebook software with the gallery of content allows a teacher to create very compelling lessons limited only by the creativity of the teacher.

My technology pick of the week website this week is the website where you will find information and tutorials about the products Smart Technologies offers. I encourage you to checkout the two minute tutorials for a quick overview of the Smart Notebook software, I think you will be impressed with its capabilities. The links are available in our show notes for Episode 2 located at that’s techtalk the number 4

That wraps it up for Episode 2 until next time this has been Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Tom's Technology Pick of the Week - SMART Board Links
Smart Technologies website:
Two Minute Tutorials on the Smart Notebook Software:

Friday, August 31, 2007

tt4t_001 Tech Talk 4 Teachers - Episode 1 Show Notes

Click here to listen to Episode 1
This is the inaugural podcast of Tech Talk 4 Teachers and is my first attempt at "going public" with a podcast. I have helped hundreds of students and teachers create their own podcasts over the past two to three years but I have never taken the next step to share my own podcast publicly. I am a very private person by nature and while the technology is easy to master I do feel a little anxious about sharing a production with the world. I am sure many of you feel the same way about your productions. Perhaps it is a generational thing but the world of Web 2.0 is all about a participative culture and older generations are a bit leery of sharing on a world wide scale. Our students often do not give this a second thought and routinely post to My Space and Facebook without thinking about potential future consequences.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
One feature I am starting as a tradition of this show is Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week. This week I spotlight is an online dictionary of terms related to the cryptic abbreviations and lingo we often see in our students work. Check the out the site and see if you find it helpful in deciphering the text messaging format that many of our students love to use.

This podcast/netcast series needs you participation in order to flourish. Setting in front of a microphone and talking is not my idea of having fun and is not my motivation for starting this series. I am truly interested in how teachers are using technology in the classroom and sharing these experiences to help teachers become better teachers. If you listen to this podcast please send me an email with your comments and suggestions to and let me know what you think. Until next time, keep on learning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another school year, a new beginning

Hello and welcome to my first blog entry for Tech Talk 4 Teachers.

This summer I had the opportunity to teach a graduate level emerging technologies course for area teachers for a second time and had another great experience. At the end of the course several of the area teachers asked how they could keep up with the rapid changes occurring in the ed tech world once they were back in the classroom. Of course many of the Web 2.0 technologies covered in the class offered an answer. Reading blogs and wikis and listening to podcasts are great ways to keep up with the rapidly changing world of educational technology. The problem is that there is so much out there, much of it is very good, but much of it is not. Separating the wheat from the chaff can be a full-time job.

As is often the case the cobblers children have no shoes. This blog is my attempt to put into practice a dedicated area to discuss educational technology issues and the impact upon educators and students. Educational technologists are often so busy helping others that we forget to take time to nurture our own interests. This blog will share some of my experiences of what works and what does not in a variety of settings. I currently work in the College of Education & Professional Studies at Eastern Illinois University and have experience in both the K-12 and higher education worlds. I am fortunate to be surrounded by experts in pedagogy and have many years of experience with implementing technology effectively in classrooms. I am always in search of more effective methods and technologies to improve the educational process.

As we begin new school year I will explore some of the issues educators are facing in our area of rural Illinois regarding educational technologies. I think you will find many of the issues we face in this geographic area to be similar to those faced by other educators across the nation. If you do not have a blogger account and wish to contact me please send me an email with your questions, comments, or suggestions to

As we begin another school year I wish everyone a successful school year and remember, the world is changing, so must we. Keep on learning.