Monday, May 5, 2008

tt4t_036 Podcasting With Third Graders – Project WOW

It’s Monday, May 5th 2008 and welcome to episode 36 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Last week we held an open house for members of Project WOW that showcased the projects that our local third graders have been working on. It was a beautiful day and despite the wonderful weather we had a great turnout as many parents chose to stop by to see the work of their children. Project WOW is headed up by Judy Barford, a professor in the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Middle Level Education department here at EIU, Project WOW partners with two local third grade classes.

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This is the tenth year for Project WOW and this project has achieved much success over the years. Project WOW began with a project based learning approach that matched EIU preservice teachers in teaching methods courses with local classrooms. This approach has produced countless authentic learning experiences for both the preservice teachers and the third grade students.

This year Project WOW selected an Abraham Lincoln unit that produced many great projects. Children were grouped into teams that created concept maps, lessons, and podcasts about the life of Abraham Lincoln. The children also listened to several guest speakers about the life and times of Abraham Lincoln and some of the many jobs Abe had worked at over his lifetime. The preservice teachers helped create webpages for each team of third grade students that tied together all the projects including a podcast produced by each team about Abraham Lincoln.

Many teachers are doing great work across the nation and you often need to look no further than your own backyard to see excellence in action. Too often this work goes unrecognized. We as teachers need to see more great examples and share more with others in order to improve our own teaching. If you know of some good examples of how you or other teachers that you know are using technology to effectively improve the teaching and learning process please drop me a note so we can share with others. I would also love to hear from listeners in other parts of the country, or world for that matter, about successful methods used for integrating technology into the classroom experience. Please send an email to with your examples.
Be sure to also checkout the Spring 2008 semester of the Abraham Lincoln version of Project WOW, a link is provided in the show notes.

Project WOW Spring 2008 Abraham Lincoln Edition:

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My technology pick of the week this week is another Web 2.0 service that I hate to admit that I am finding more and more of a need for as I get older. Jott is a service that allows members to use their cell phone to call a toll free number and leave a message. While you can do that with regular voice mail services Jott takes the possibilities to the next level. Once you record your voice message Jott transcribes the voice mail into text and then can send the message to your cell phone as a text message and/or to your email box depending upon how you setup the service. This can serve as a useful reminder for things that you might otherwise forget. The service has been around for a while and the website says that it is still in beta but it has received a lot of press from major news sources. Here is a quote from the Jott website explaining what the service offers:

“Headquartered in Seattle, WA, Jott Networks operates a voice to text service that makes staying organized and in touch easy. Jott allows consumers to easily and safely send emails and text messages, set reminders, organize lists, and post to web services with their voice. Since its introduction in late 2006, Jott has made world class voice transcription accessible to anyone with a cell phone. Life is busy. Talk to Jott. Get Simple Back™.”

A link to the Jott service is provided in the show notes.

Coverts your voice into email text messages, reminders, lists, and appointments.

The educational implications for a service like Jott are many. Most teachers and many students now carry cell phones with them. As many teachers know students have their cell phones with them often even when they are not supposed to. Now the really cool part is that not only can you Jott yourself a note using this service but you can also enter contact lists for others that you want to Jott. For example I entered my wife into my contact list and called Jott, here is how the Jott entry went.

Jott: Who do you want to call?
Me: Gail
Jott: Gail Grissom, is this correct?
Me: Yes
Jott: Beep.
Me: Hi , Gail this is Tom. This message is from a new Web 2.0 service called Jott, it will send you a text message and an email message, talk to you tonight. . Hangup.

In a few minutes my wife had the transcribed text message on her cell phone and an email message from me in her Inbox. Now the really cool thing is that I can also send a text message to my daughter who is the texting guru in the family. I hate to type text messages on my cell phone using the small number pad. With Jott all I have to do is call the Jott service, select my daughter as the recipient, and record my message. I let Jott do all the transcribing and delivery for me. I am not going to let the secret out of the bag just yet as my daughter will be amazed at my new found texting skills.

You can even create a group in your contact list although I have not done this yet. Imagine creating a group list of students in your class and having the ability to send a bulk email to all members in the group with a transcribed message from the teacher! I can hear students groaning across the nation now.

For now signing up for a Jott account is free. Standard text messaging rates do apply so be sure you know the impact this service may have on your phone bill.

As with all technologies there are policy implications for Web 2.0 services like Jott. First, students and/or parents may not want to be bothered with messages from the school. Some phone numbers are unlisted and there are also privacy concerns. Parents may not want messages from the school being sent to their email accounts. Schools should consider setting up age-appropriate policies to address concerns before implementing new services in a school setting. Just because a technology makes something possible does not mean that a school should do something new just because it is possible. Like most technologies these services can also be abused if used inappropriately. Having policies and expectations on the front-end can address some potential adverse consequences before they become a problem.

There are three other features of Jott that bear mentioning. First, you have the ability to record reminders that can be delivered to you at a future date and time. Secondly, you can use the Jott service in conjunction with Twitter to send transcribed messages to your Twitter account using your cell phone. I have not used the Twitter feature as I am concerned about the accuracy of the transcription as sometimes Jott does not provide perfect translation. You need to make sure to enunciate your words carefully and talk slowly so Jott can make an accurate transcription of your voice messages and remember that Jott messages are limited to 30 seconds. Thirdly, Jott when used in conjunction with your calendaring program can add calendar entries. So far I am liking the Jott service but this is still in the novelty stage for me. In the past week or so Jott has increased my productivity as I have been able to send myself messages while in the car or away from my computer to remind myself of tasks that I need to do. Do you use Jott? If so I would love to hear your stories about how you are using this service.

That wraps it up for episode 36 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode along with archived versions are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make comments or suggestions please leave a posting on the TechTalk4Teachers blog or send an email to Until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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