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

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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.