Tuesday, July 29, 2008

tt4t_048 Beyond Digital Natives – No Excuses

It’s Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 and welcome to episode 48 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This summer I have been reading and listening to several conversations regarding the digital natives versus digital immigrants way of thinking. This topic has seemed to re-emerge itself lately in the educational community. The theory was originally popularized by Marc Prensky several years ago and states that todays students are “wired” different and therefore have a competitive advantage over non-native digital learners known as digital immigrants in todays society.

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A link is provided in the show notes to a couple of the older articles written by Prensky back in 2001 that began this conversation. It has been interesting to go back and re-read these documents and give them another look from todays perspective.

Digital Natives Part 1

Digital Natives Part 2

Much has changed in the world since Prensky first penned these articles. Back in 2001 the world of Web 2.0 did not even exist. Prensky has moved on to become an advocate of gaming in education and a proponent for interactive learning. Some educational technologists are questioning the argument that the digital accent of digital natives may not be the advantage that it once was believed to be. I have provided link to the genyes blog that discusses this further in the show notes and is worth a read if you get the chance to get differing perspectives.


When I was first introduced to the Prensky articles I felt that it gave educators an easy out by accepting the conventional wisdom that students would always be ahead of teachers in the world of technology. I do not think that a blanket statement regarding age offers an advantage to one group over another or that the us versus them mentality is helpful. I know many students that I would consider to be not that interested in technology as well as many teachers.

To extend the analogy further I think that over the past several years one could make the argument that the digital native argument has become less compelling since the advances in technologies have created completely new countries to which everyone is an immigrant. Web 2.0 tools come and go at a furious pace. In fact experience is a major advantage for teachers in understanding and applying new technologies for educational benefit, something that students often lack. I fully believe in empowering the learner but I think we need to be careful in crafting learning opportunities for students with a purpose in mind.

I have provided another link to a more recent article from Marc Prensky where he addresses this phenomenal pace of change of Web 2.0 and some of the emerging technologies that are now being used in the classroom.


In the article about emerging technologies Prensky calls for a division of labor where students are the masters of the technologies and teachers are the guides, a familiar refrain from the constructivist teaching philosophy. The one thing that is missing from this evolution in thinking is that the tools have also evolved. As a teacher I feel I need to have a certain comfort level before I turn students loose on a project, I think most teachers feel the same way I do. The good news is that the tools have also evolved and continue to get easier to master and are eliminating barriers teachers often face.

How much technological acumen does it take to produce a podcast? If you can plug-in a microphone, press the record button and stop button you have mastered the podcasting concept. Not really that much different than old school recording to cassette tape. The larger questions have to do with what are you going to do with the podcast? Who is the audience? What is the purpose? Is it truly going to be a podcast with a RSS feed or will a simple MP3 file linked on a webpage suffice? The big difference between the old school cassette recording and that of a podcasts has to do with the scale at which it can be shared. This is true for any digital content over its analog brethren and makes possible for easy and inexpensive world-wide sharing and distribution, that is where the revolution is.

Learning should not be about the technology but rather what you do with the technology for teachers wanting to produce effective learning experiences. That is why pre-planning is so important and necessary. Here is where many miss the point when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom. We become so focused and enamored with the technology that we are often guilty of not placing enough emphasis on the content. It is really cool to use the latest greatest technologies to do something you have not done before but you must remember the purpose for the instructional objectives in the first place. It is easy to fall into the trap of using a new technology because it exists.

Technology can be a powerful change agent but we are affecting the entire ecosystem when technology is introduced haphazardly, often with unintended consequences. The pedagogical knowledge and skills of a teacher are more important than ever in designing effective learning environments. Experience and judgment become the larger factors in using the technologies and that is something that only comes through use and understanding over a period of time. So while the so-called digital natives may have the advantage of growing up in a digital world teachers have the opportunity to combine their expertise and experience to design effective learning environments using these technologies that are relevant to todays learners.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is a teleprompter application that may be helpful for those teachers wanting to produce a news style video project. Best of all it is free. A link is available in the show notes. This online application is called cueprompter. It is very simple to use and allows the user to copy and paste text into the teleprompter so that it can be read by on-air talent. By placing a computer monitor just below or above a camera lens you can have your students record video shows complete with a teleprompter just like the evening news. You have control over how fast you would like the words to scroll by.

The site lists technical requirements for this application that include Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. I did try this with FireFox 2.0 browser on Windows and it did work with the FireFox browser. I have not had time to try this out on a Mac yet so please let me know if it works on a Mac.

Free Online Teleprompter

Setting up a video recording studio is a great way to get students enthused about learning. I can also tell you from practical experience that it is a lot of work. Handing over a video project to students forces students to organize, manage, and make hundreds of decisions regarding content and presentation style. When given enough time producing news style productions can be a great way to get student buy-in for special projects.

That wraps it up for episode 48 of TechTalk4Teachers. Sorry about all the references to different articles this week but I think you will find the background information useful as we sort through the digital natives versus immigrants arguments and focus on the effective delivery of content to students. Show notes for this episode and archives are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

tt4t_047 Bridging the gap

It’s Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 and welcome to episode 47 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. The summer is slipping away and as we plan for the remaining weeks there is still much to be completed. I have been thinking a lot lately about Web 2.0 technologies and their impact on education. For many in the education field Web 2.0 has not even made it on the vocabulary radar, I think this is also true in the business world. Many of those that do know about Web 2.0 have a difficult time explaining what it is. Get outside of the technology bubble and I think you will find that many are uninformed of this phenomena.

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I work in both the teaching and technology field so I often have to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between teachers and educational technologists. The two areas do have a lot in common yet there are still gaps that appear from time to time. Both the teaching side and technology side require an insatiable appetite for learning new things but our views are filtered by our own perspectives, needs, and interests. An educational technologist looks at a technology and admires its capabilities, possibilities, and newness while a teacher often looks for practicality, reliability, and scalability.

Most Web 2.0 companies are supported by advertising dollars and/or venture capital. I have heard little this summer in my readings or at conference presentations about the impact of the increasing advertisement presence in schools. This seems to have slipped under the doors with little notice. Public education is always in a difficult spot as it serves all and there is never a consensus that will please everyone.

While many of the Web 2.0 services are “free” the purpose of these Web 2.0 services are to eventually make money. I do understand the need for these companies to make money but I do worry about the increasing influence and reach that advertisers are having in our schools. Should there be a standard for the amount or limit for advertising in schools?

The inappropriateness and randomness of some advertising banners are a concern when the Internet is used in the classroom. This seemingly simple observation is why some teachers and administrators are hesitant about using the Internet more in the classroom. I might also add that this is why even some advertisers do not advertise on websites because they do not want their products to be associated with certain kinds of user created content beyond their control. It seems that there are some things in common between these advertisers and educators, control.

As a teacher I can tell you that one of the most frustrating things is to get all excited about a new technology and do all the prep work to make it work only to find that one piece of the complex technology puzzle lets you down. The problem for a teacher is that we do not always know all of the interactive pieces that make everything work and in the world of technology there is much out of the teachers control. You try everything out at home and it all works fine but when you get to school something goes wrong. As all good teachers know having a Plan B is requirement for those just-in-case times.

With all the hype of Web 2.0 and cloud computing it is always good to take a step back and evaluate the practicality and reliability needed for the average teacher to feel comfortable with new Web 2.0 tools. These new tools will not be adopted in mass if these issues are not addressed. Teachers do need to feel comfortable with a technology to regularly use it in the classroom. When you flip the switch the lights need to come on.

As a teacher educator I see things from both the K-12 and higher education perspectives and both of these worlds share some commonalities but are also very different. For many in the K-12 world getting started with Web 2.0 may be nearly impossible at school because filtering software often blocks many Web 2.0 technologies. This is very frustrating for early adopters and change agents that want to explore different methods for improving learning. Ask students if they know of a way around certain filtered sites at school and many will tell you yes.

As many of us return from conferences learning the latest and greatest technologies I urge everyone to spend some time on the front-end discussing policies and implementation issues of these new technologies for educational use. This requires ongoing group discussions and a wisdom of the crowds approach because no one individual or entity has all of the answers.

The classroom landscape is about to radically change as students are increasingly bringing their own personal technology to school that completely bypasses the school network. Cell phones, PDA’s, and MP3 players were the first to have this impact but now with what I call Personal Area Networks where a student can have unfettered access to all things Internet. The Blackberry and iPhone are beginning to make their way into schools and these new types of technologies completely bypass school networks and filtering. I have talked a lot recently about the small form factor eee PC mini-laptop computer, add to this a wireless network card from the phone company and the Internet world is yours completely unfiltered.

Students will increasingly need to know how to navigate in this open world and make appropriate decisions to avoid the dark side of the Internet. This is true for K-12 students as well as college-aged students. Age-appropriate filtering of some type will still be needed. Judgment is an important skill as Internet activity can be and is being tracked.

Some companies want to know more about your browsing habits so that targeted advertisements can be sent your way. Technologies like Google AdSense is already doing this. Postings on MySpace and Facebook can have consequences for future employment if one is careless about the types of information that is shared with these and other social networking sites whether on purpose or inadvertently. This “free” technology does have a price and can have future consequences.

Google AdSense

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is the searchme.com search engine. A link is available in the show notes.

SearchMe – Visual Search Engine

If you are a visual learner like myself then you might want to give searchme.com a try. Searchme allows the user to enter search terms just like Google except instead of returning lists of text information about your search results searchme actually displays a miniature picture of the related webpage. You can use the right and left arrow keys or the slider bar of the search results to quickly and visually thumb through webpages related to your search.

This also works with images and video content. If you look at the top left-hand corner of the searchme.com website you can simply click on your choice of search, either web, videos, or images. If you do want to see a short text description of your search results this is available under the active webpage that is displayed.

This reminds me a lot of PicLens browser plug-in that was my Tech Pick of the Week for Episode 38. In my opinion the searchme.com website is not as polished as the PicLens plug-in for browsers but one advantage is that you do not have to install anything on your computer to use it as is the case with PicLens. Simply go to the searchme.com website and type in your search and the results will be displayed visually.

That wraps it up for episode 47 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

tt4t_046 Summer Crunch Time

It’s Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 and welcome to episode 46 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Now that I am back to work after attending the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio the reality of summer work that is planned to be completed this summer is beginning to set in. While it is great to get away to see new advances in technologies, the work back home remains to be completed. For many of us that work in the educational technology field across the country the summer time is not as relaxing as we would hope it would be. New equipment and software installations keep everyone busy as we try to compress all that work into a brief period of time before the students arrive back for fall classes.

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For those of us that have summer school the situation is even worse as we work around the class schedules so as to not interfere with classwork but at the same time still get needed updates completed. This is like working on an airplane while in flight. Working around waxed floors, class schedules, and day to day duties can represent significant challenges. We are now over half way through the summer and I am beginning to feel the heat as we are still awaiting delivery on lab computers and Smart Boards for installations that were originally planned to be completed over the summer. Each day of delay adds to the stress levels. If equipment is not delivered promptly then this work cannot be completed on time, a project managers worst nightmare. So it appears that there will once again be a mad dash to get planned work completed prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

New software updates are also being completed and faculty will need additional training in how to use the new software. Our course management solution at EIU has been upgraded to WebCT Version 8 and will be in full production use this fall. Each change is an improvement as the technologies evolve to better meet the needs of end users, at least that is always the goal.
So change is all around us as we prepare for the fall semester. Every year we improve and get a little bit better. There always seems to be room for improvement. That is what I like about the technology field, someone is always seeking a better and more efficient way of doing things. For some this change is welcome while others seem to be happy with the status quo. So I am chomping at the bit waiting for equipment to arrive before we run out of days to complete the installations before the fall semester begins.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is the eee PC 8G model of mini-laptop. While in San Antonio I took an eee PC Model 8G with me to NECC. The 8G model is the older Linux model that weighs only 2.2 pounds and has a retail price of $499.00 This model is still available from some retailers. I suspect if you shop around you may find better deals as the new models of the eee PC have now been released. I fell in love with this small laptop form factor while traveling to NECC as it was easy to carry and take with me at all the events I attended. This allowed me to connect to the wireless network available at the convention center and use Twitter to get my updates as mentioned in last weeks episode. It also allowed me to keep in touch with the office by checking my email and at least trying to keep up with work back home while attending the conference.

ASUS Press Release

Hands on with the ASUS 901 and 1000 (PCWorld article)

I did not have any issues taking the laptop through airport security and it was small enough to easily fit in my carry-on bag. At only 2.2 pounds I did not mind taking the eee PC with me to the NECC events. The only issue I ran into was that I did miss some of the Windows applications that I have grown accustomed to using. I was going to edit my podcast on the Linux eee PC and while I know that Audacity will run on Linux I was not sure what distro version to download and install on the eee PC. I could have fought and won this battle but I did not want to spend conference time installing software and fighting this installation. So instead I uploaded the MP3 file of my interviews that were on a SD card from my audio recorder to my Skydrive so I had an extra copy for editing once I got back home. I always make backup copies of important files just in case something happens to the original.

I have also tested out the HP 2133 mini-notebook that starts at a weight of 2.63 pounds and offers a larger keyboard size. As with all things technology related it is a trade-off between the eee PC and the HP 2133 for form and functionality. I prefer the lighter weight of the eee PC for traveling purposes but the 91% of full-size keyboard makes the HP 2133 a little more friendly for typing longer emails. For traveling purposes however I much preferred the smaller eee PC. If typing for longer periods on the eee PC you can always plug in a full-sized USB keyboard and have the best of both worlds.

New eee PC models are coming out this summer with the new eee PC model 901 now available in the United States in both XP and Linux versions. The new 1000 level models of the eee PC are due out later this summer and will be slightly larger than the existing 8G model with more capacity. I was able to get my hands on the new 901 model with XP at the ASUS booth while attending NECC and for me this is a great form factor for mobile use. I have never liked palm size devices as my hands are always a bit clumsy for this form size. So the eee PCs are kind of in the sweet spot for me, not too small as to be unusable and not so heavy that I would not want to take it with me. The eee PC will not replace my desktop but it will certainly make me more productive when away from the office.

ASUS the makers of the eee PC are developing this line of computers at a fast and furious pace. The big news with the new eee PC models 901 and 1000 are that they feature the Intel atom processors and are said to get a battery life of 4 to 8 hours. If true that is great news as I did have to tie myself to an electrical outlet with the 8G model every couple of hours at NECC. The new larger 9 inch eee PC models offer a screen resolution of 1024x600 which is much easier to use than the 7 inch eee PC 8G model with 800x480 pixel resolution. This increased screen resolution makes browsing web pages a pleasure because you no longer need to scroll to right to see all of the webpage as is currently the case with the 8G.

The new smaller form factor laptops offer many benefits to educators. They are less expensive than their full-sized counter parts. The light weight is a welcome benefit. Current models are hovering around the $500 to $600 price range and I hope manufacturers can keep costs down. Ideally these laptops should cost less than $500 (preferably much less) to make it more practical to offer one-to-one computing initiatives for schools. There is increasing competition in this space as HP, MSI, Intel, and now Dell have entered into this mini-laptop space.

The XO laptop project deserves a lot of credit for starting this revolution and increasing competition in this space with its one laptop per child initiative. The competition in this space will hopefully allow manufacturers to keep costs reasonable so that more schools can incorporate mini-laptops into their schools on-going technology plans. The goal of the XO laptop project is for a $100 laptop so we have a ways to go before hitting this price point. If your school is using any of the small form factor laptops in your classroom I would love to hear your experiences and share them with the TechTalk4Teachers audience.

That wraps it up for episode 46 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Be sure to checkout the show notes for links to resources you can use for this podcast or other archived episodes of the TechTalk4Teachers podcast. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, July 11, 2008

tt4t_045 Zune Zune Zune Using the Zune in Education

It’s Friday, July 11th, 2008 and welcome to episode 45 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Earlier this week I promised an interview from the National Educational Computing Conference with Eric Langhorst, last years Missouri Teacher of the Year. For the past year Eric has been working with Microsoft on an education project using Zune MP3 players with his students. Microsoft provided Eric’s class of 8th graders with 25 Zunes to use as a pilot project to explore the potential educational benefits of using this technology in the classroom.

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The Zune is an MP3 player similar to an iPod but has some additional features that the iPod does not that offers some intriguing new possibilities for educators. The Zune has the ability to beam content from one Zune to another Zune using existing wireless networks that allows teachers and students to easily share content with each other. The Zune device separates music, pictures, and audio/video podcasts into separate categories and has an easy to use interface that students can use to view and listen to content when away from a computer. This portability allows students to use the Zune anywhere and of all things use it to study American history. Eric saves his class PowerPoints as JPG files and loads them to the students Zunes as study guides for students to review for tests. Eric is also the producer of the Speaking of History podcast that he also shares on the student Zunes. In addition Eric creates audio study notes called studycasts for the students and the students can create their own educational content for their own study reviews or shared with others.

I did not provide a transcript for Eric’s interview portion so please listen to the audio version of this posting to hear the full interview with Eric Langhorst on how he is using the Zune in his 8th grade classroom. So without further adieu here is my interview with Eric Langhorst from the NECC conference last week.

(audio interview here)

I would like to thank Eric Langhorst for providing the interview and sharing his time with the TechTalk4Teachers audience. I have provided a link to one of Eric’s blog postings and his podcast about the Zune pilot project and other relevant links about this project in the show notes.

Zune Pilot at Liberty Missouri podcast link:

Eric Langhorst Speaking of History podcast link:

The other presentation that I serendipitously attended after Eric’s was a presentation by Sherrie West from Fort Sumner School District in New Mexico that also recently completed a Zune pilot project. About 100 students from this small New Mexico school district were all loaned Zunes filled with educational content preloaded to listen to and view during their long commutes on the school bus. I would like to thank Sherrie West and the two students she brought along with her to NECC that gave a wonderful presentation on how the students were using the Zunes at Fort Sumner for educational purposes. Most people do not realize the amount of effort it takes to successfully implement a project on this scale and Sherrie shared her experiences of scaling up the technology to use with 100 students. Sherrie also shared some policies that were implemented to help curb any inappropriate use of the Zunes that might occur before the students were allowed to use them. A link to an article about the New Mexico Zune project is available in the show notes.

New Mexico Zune Project:

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week (Bonus Pick)
My technology pick of the week earlier this week was a new Web 2.0 Polling tool that allows users to respond to multiple choice questions using a text message from your cell phone. Teachers can now offer American Idol style voting to their students. Using Poll Everywhere students have the ability to text in their votes to an education related question. All the teacher needs is a free Poll Everywhere account (for up to 30 responses per poll). All the students need is a cell phone with texting capability, something most teens already have. If you have been frustrated with cell phone use and misuse why not consider using the technology for educational benefit? You probably won’t get the same enthusiasm that America Idol gets but it is now possible and free for teachers to do so. If you did not give Poll Everywhere a try earlier this week then please visit the show notes for Episode 44 for my Technology Pick of the Week and use your cell phone to text in your vote to the example TechTalk4Teachers poll asking about Tablet PC use.

Now, for the second bonus Technology Pick of the Week for this week.My Technology Pick of the Week for Episode 45 is a website called summize.com. A link is provided in the show notes:


Last episode I discussed my thoughts on using Twitter at the NECC conference. Summize is one the tools I used in combination with Twitter last week that made my conference experience much more productive than it would have been without Twitter. In fact, I learned about Eric Langhorst’s Zune presentation by using summize.com. Eric had posted a Twitter posting that he was going to present on student use of the Zune and I saw his posting. Summize is a website that searches Twitter entries, users of Twitter were encouraged to use the keyword NECC in their Twitter postings while at NECC. I could then use the summize website to search on the keyword NECC and summize would return all the results of all Twitter postings with the word NECC in them with the most recent postings appearing first in the search list. This was extremely helpful because I was getting real-time information on location about NECC related happenings. Using Twitter also provided the human element to the search because I could see the Twitter user names of people making the postings and if I knew them I could rely on their reputation to decide if something was worth seeing or not. This human filtering is invaluable when you are attending a conference with so much to offer and so little time to see everything. Having human eyes intervene as part of the search process really can add credibility to the search results.

Sometimes you will see Twitter users use the pound sign # and then a keyword like #NECC that is used to identify keywords that are unique and easily searchable by summize. Tagging by keyword makes it easier to find related Twitter postings when you want to conglomerate tweets about a particular topic or event.

If you would like to follow me on twitter you can go to my twitter page at http://twitter.com/tomgrissom and follow me. You must have a Twitter account and login to follow someone on Twitter. Once logged into Twitter just click the follow button of the person you wish to add to your follow list. This will allow all updates from the person you follow to appear in your Twitter account. If you follow many people this can get a little crazy depending upon how active the people you follow are on Twitter. As with most Web 2.0 tools Twitter postings are public and easily searchable so always be on your best behavior and observe common netiquette rules.

That wraps it up for episode 45 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. I would like to thank again Eric Langhorst our interview guest this week for his time and remind the TechTalk4Teacher audience to checkout the show notes for links to resources you can use related to this podcast or other archived TechTalk4Teachers podcasts. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tt4t_044 Using Twitter at NECC 2008

It’s Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 and welcome to episode 44 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. I am back from the National Educational Computing Conference held last week in San Antonio, Texas and had a great time. I met many new people including a couple of TechTalk4Teachers listeners and have learned many new things to share with others. While at NECC I was also amazed at what a small world it is. I have been using Twitter for a while now and the recent trip to San Antonio has caused me to re-evaluate the way I am using this free service.

To listen click on the Play button >

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For those unfamiliar with Twitter it is simply a micro-blogging service where people post short messages limited to 140 characters telling others what they are doing. It is very simple in concept and if used with a purpose I believe Twitter has a lot of potential for professional development needs and keeping up-to-date with changes in the field.

Let me say that despite all the availability problems that Twitter has experienced recently I still find Twitter quite useful, especially for expanding my horizons with fellow educational technology users across the world. Twitter was particularly helpful when I was attending the NECC conference.

Here is a debriefing on my current thoughts about my Twitter experience while at NECC. First, I am re-evaluating my Twitter name as I was surprised at the number of educators that were using Twitter at NECC. I also found that having a Twitter name like eiuitc is a bit cryptic for the average user and not easily remembered. I originally picked this name to remain somewhat anonymous and to reflect my position at the Eastern Illinois University Instructional Technology Center. I found out last week that sharing a Twitter name like eiuitc with others was not easily identifiable by people unfamiliar with Eastern.

Another reason I chose the eiuitc name was to remain somewhat private about my identity as everything that is posted on Twitter is archived and searchable to the world. The other problem with Twitter is keeping my different roles separate such as work life from private life. After meeting fellow Twitter users last week in person I have decided to change my Twitter name to my real name and that way when I meet others and I share my Twitter name they will better know my identity and can more easily find me on Twitter. So from now on if you would like to follow me on Twitter you can follow me at twitter.com/tomgrissom

I have also purposefully kept the number of people I follow to a small number and after using the Twitter service for some time now I believe I am now ready to expand the number of people I follow. I know I do this at the risk of being overwhelmed by the number of Twitter messages that I receive but I do think I will find value if I carefully select the people I follow. The other potential danger is that I will select people that I follow with a similar mind set to my own and I need to be aware that I need diversity in the types of people I follow to get a more rounded perspective of the twitterverse.

Another problem of following many people on Twitter is the distinct possibility that I will not be able to keep up with all the tweets of people I follow so there needs to be a balance between quantity and quality of tweets that I receive in order for Twitter to be beneficial to me. A tweet is simply a Twitter message. I still find Twitter to be too haphazard to be used as a direct correspondence and I still mainly rely on my email accounts for business correspondence as Twitter can be too fast-paced to keep up with. If you follow more than a twenty people there is a good chance you will not be able to read everyones tweets.

So here I am again creating another Web 2.0 account to keep track of. If you listen to this podcast regularly and have a Twitter account please follow me to receive Twitter updates on what I am up to. If you do not have a Twitter account I encourage you to go to Twitter.com and sign-up for a free account and give it a try. The summer time is a perfect time to give some of these Web 2.0 tools a try. Twitter is something you must experience in order to determine if you will find any value in micro-blogging. I am also asking others at EIU to follow my Twitter account so that we can communicate professional development opportunities and share educational technologies that the ITC offers to faculty and students.

One of the problems I am having with Twitter is that I try to serve many different audiences, those not from EIU are probably not interested in the happenings at the Instructional Technology Center and those from EIU may not care about some of my other Twitter postings. So here goes another grand experiment to find the best Twitter has to offer and at the same time try keep it manageable.

For those of you that I have been following on Twitter using my eiuitc twitter account I have now followed you using my new twitter.com/tomgrissom account Please follow me back if you are interested in keeping up with TechTalk4Teachers podcasts and other projects I am working on as I will be using the tomgrissom twitter account from now on for Twitter updates. If you are new to Twitter please follow me as we cruise the twitterverse together to seek ever improving teaching and learning opportunities powered by technology.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is a new Web 2.0 Polling tool that allows users to respond to multiple choice questions using a text message via your cell phone. I have been looking for an application like this for some time now and ran across this website while attending NECC last week. The name of this Web 2.0 service is Poll Everywhere and a link is provided in the shownotes.

Poll Everywhere

This site offers a free account for up to 30 participants per poll and is updated in real time. It is very easy to setup and once you complete setting up a poll you can either copy and paste the poll web address into an email to send to others or you can download a PowerPoint Slide that you can display to the audience and the audience can use their cell phones to text in their vote. The results updated in real time on the PowerPoint slide as long as you have an Internet connection. How cool is that! I tried this with a friend from another city and it worked perfectly. I have an example in the show notes if you would like to give this poll a try. Be aware that standard text messaging rates apply. My example is using my free Poll Everywhere account so if more than 30 people try this poll the results will not display after 30 users. Poll Everywhere offers the ability to upgrade the service for a montly fee if you need polling capability for a larger audience. Give Poll Everywhere a try and let me know what you think.

Take the TechTalk4Teachers Tablet PC User Poll (example to see how this works)

Since I did not have a podcast episode last week I may post a special podcast this Friday as I was able to interview Eric Langhorst, last years Missouri Teacher of the Year while in San Antonio and I would like to share this interview with the TechTalk4Teachers listeners as he discussed an innovative project that he has been working on this past academic year.

That wraps it up for episode 44 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to techtalk@eiu.edu or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog.
Be sure to check back this Friday, July 11th for this special episode. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.