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

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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

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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

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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: