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:,8599,1816958,00.html

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 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 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 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 by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to 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.

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