Friday, August 15, 2008

tt4t_050 Getting closer to starting another school year

It’s Friday, August 15th, 2008 and welcome to episode 50 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Episode 50 is a small milestone for any podcast and the time has really flown by this past year. When I began this show I committed myself to one podcast a week for a year and as I come closer to that goal it is time to take stock of where we have been. As with all shows of this nature the show has evolved over the past 50 episodes. If you are a long-time listener thank you and if you are a new listener you will find many interesting topics related to using technology for educational purposes. All previous episodes are currently archived on the TechTalk4Teachers blog at

To listen click on the Play button >

Download MP3

If you are new to TechTalk4Teachers welcome to a show that talks about educational technology and some of the issues and trends that are occurring in the education field. This show is for all educators from Kindergarten teachers to university professors so we have a little something for everyone. Every week I offer a Technology Pick of the Week that can be used by teachers or administrators for educational purposes. If you would like to offer a comment or suggestion or have something new you would like to have discussed on TechTalk4Teachers drop me an email at

The TechTalk4Teachers audience is quite diverse primarily consisting of listeners from all across the United States and many other countries from around the world. I would like to give a shout out to the listeners from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia as your countries are also well represented.

The next two to three weeks will find millions of teachers and students returning to school from the summer break. Like many of you I am getting ready for the onslaught as everyone hits the doors at the same time and many will have technology requests that they want to have fixed. If you are a teacher please be kind to the tech support people who have most likely worked through the summer to improve the technology infrastructure while many teachers and students were away on holiday. Much of this work occurs behind the scenes and goes unnoticed, that is unless it does not work. Last minute updates seem to always be a part of the back to school rush so please be patient as tech issues are addressed.

You can also help by diagnosing problems. Try to trouble-shoot any problems yourself to avoid unnecessary visits from busy tech staff. Often times a simple re-booting of the computer will fix many problems.

Before I continue a trouble-shooting section I must ask, where is your backup? It only takes a few minutes to backup your data and it is your responsibility to protect your data by regularly backing it up. So, now that you have an up-to-date backup we can continue…

Always check to carefully make sure all cables are plugged in and that all surge bars are turned on. Oh, and make sure you press the On button, don’t laugh, I can’t count the times that this has been the “problem” :)

If you do not have power to a device plug in a radio or a light to make sure that the outlet has power. If the outlet does not have power then you probably need to call the electricians.

If you are having network connection problems check the network cable to make sure it is plugged in to both the wall connection and the computer, many times custodial staff may have moved something to clean and a cable may be left unplugged. Check with a neighbor and see if they have a network connection. If they do not then the problem is probably more wide-spread than just your computer.

If you do not have sound check that the speakers are turned on and plugged into the correct sound card jack (this is usually the green one, microphones are generally plugged into the red jack of the sound card). Make sure your speakers have power and that the speakers have not been muted through software.

Make sure you are using the correct input channel if you are using a projector connected to a computer. These are usually called something like RGB, RGB1, or RGB2 depending upon your setup.

You may want to delay minor requests and non-mission critical tech requests until after the first full week of school is completed to help your tech support staff out, the first couple of weeks are more stressful as everyone gets back up to speed. I can tell you from past experience that the ITC will see between 800 and 1000 students a day using our facilities for the first couple of weeks of school so this is a busy time.

Keep in mind alternatives that may solve your problem temporarily. If you cannot print a document save the file to a thumb drive and ask your neighbor if you can use their printer. If you are having trouble with a userid or password issue make sure the CAPS Lock Key is off and that you carefully type in your password. You may want to login using a different computer just to make sure there is nothing wrong with your computer. If you can login to your account using a different computer then you have diagnosed the problem as a computer specific problem and not a userid/password problem.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
Now it is now time for my Technology Pick of the Week but first I would like to update listeners that one of my favorite long time applications for social bookmarking has recently received an update. The name of the service is called delicious and is a free service from Yahoo. I have provided a link in the show notes for my delicious account.

I first mentioned delicious back in episode 12 so you can revisit episode 12 if you like to learn more about social bookmarking and how I use it in the classroom.

I really do like the updates this site has received over the past couple of weeks. This service is very simplistic in design and I find it very helpful as a teacher. This site makes it easy to tag websites and share with others. Best of all your bookmarks are online and can be accessed from anywhere in the world that there is an Internet connection.

The biggest news for the update for me is that you can now use the word for the web address instead of the awkward for the domain name and from now on I am giving out my delicious account as This is a very simple change and a very welcome one, thank you delicious!

My technology pick of the week this week is an application that falls into the classroom management category and can be used by teachers and administrators for keeping classes and meetings on schedule. The name of the site is and a link is provided in the show notes. Please note there is a hyphen in the web address. The site offers both stop watch and countdown timer functionality.

If you have access to the Internet you can visit this website and display a full screen timer that will countdown the time for special activities or for keeping track of breaks. Simply click in the time you would like to use and then press Set. When you are ready to use the timer press Start.

I use this for keeping track of break-time and find it really helps keeping students on task. I set it for a five or ten minute countdown where I can display the time full-screen and it keeps students on track for returning from breaks and getting ready for the next activity. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

That wraps it up for episode 50 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

No comments: