Friday, August 22, 2008

tt4t_051 Ready or not here we go!

It’s Friday, August 22nd, 2008 and welcome to episode 51 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Today is the last weekday before school officially starts here at Eastern Illinois University. The past couple of weeks have been a mad dash to the finish line and I can report that we are ready for the new school year. At the ITC we have updated all the computers to the latest service packs and have installed the new Version 10 of the Smart Board software in 24 classrooms in the College of Education & Professional Studies.

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We do have one setback in that 34 new ITC computers have not yet arrived on campus and therefore will be installed at some point during the semester when they finally arrive. We also have 18 new computers that were installed over the summer in BUZ 2445 and the Special Education Tech Lab computers have also been updated. In addition the wireless mobile laptop carts are also ready for classroom checkout and we have 16 new Flip Video Cameras for use in our EDU2022 course and for faculty checkout.

Many who listen to this podcast provide technical support to their respective schools and I know many of you have been working at a furious pace to ensure that technologies are ready for teachers and students for the upcoming school year. I would like to salute this invisible army for all that you do behind the scenes. When things work we hear very little yet when things do not work as planned we hear all about it. Here is to hoping you have an uneventful and quiet start to the school year.

Now that much of the prep work is completed I am looking forward to actually using all of this technology that we have been working so hard to get ready. I have several to do items for the new Version of WebCT that EIU is now using and will undoubtedly get many questions from faculty about differences from the previous version. We are also still in the process of staffing the ITC with student workers and still have a few evening hours that we need to have covered. Thankfully we have several returning student workers that are ready to hit the ground running.

It is always exciting coming back to the start of another school year and meeting fresh faces and new students. Getting off on the right foot is very important for both teachers and students. First impressions matter and that first day of class can set the tone for the rest of the semester. Be extra prepared for that first day and have backup plans like all good teachers do if you are using technology just in case something does not work as planned. We become more and more dependent upon technology with each passing year. Remember that the pedagogy comes first and technology plays a support role. Be prepared to adapt if necessary.

I am really excited that we now have a critical mass of Smart Boards installed in the College of Education & Professional Studies classrooms and that they are nearly ubiquitous. Implementing technology beyond pilot projects and scaling it up to full production takes planning and commitment to see projects through to completion. The Smart Boards in the hands of a technologically adept teacher can really take learning to a whole new level. I will be offering several Smart Board training sessions in the coming weeks for faculty and students of EIU so be on the lookout for these sessions if you are interested. Check the ITC website for more information in the coming weeks. For those of you not from EIU, if you would like to try some collaborative projects at a distance please contact me to see what we could arrange.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is another cell phone service similar to a previous Technology Pick of the Week from Episode 36 of TechTalk4Teachers. This week I received an email from one of the Web 2.0 services that I use periodically that stated they would now be charging for some services that were previously free. Jott still offers a free account but certain functions will now be available for a monthly fee. Jott is a service that translates voice messages to text. I am trying out another service that is currently free that is similar to Jott called reqall and a link is available in the show notes. As with many Web 2.0 services this service has a weird spelling, reqall. So far reqall has translated my voice messages to text just fine and delivered them to my email inbox in a timely fashion.

Teachers are very busy people and if you are like me you have tons of things to remember throughout the day. Unfortunately, remembering things doesn’t get any easier as we get older. I use this service when things pop into my head that I need to remember and make note of. I can just call reqall leave a voice message and a transcribed email message will be waiting in my inbox when I get back to the office. Nice!

To use the reqall service sign-up for a free account, provide the service your name, email, and phone number and you are ready to go in seconds. In the settings it has the ability to send you a summary email everyday that I find helpful to keep me on track of that pesky to do list. Reqall does not seem as feature rich as Jott and does not offer Twitter feeds but for a simple reminder service that translates voice-to-text and sends the translation to you in an email if is working for me so far.

That wraps it up for episode 51 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.

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