Friday, December 30, 2011

Episode 127 – All Hands on Tech – Students Involved with Technology Conference

It’s Friday December 30th, 2011 and welcome to episode 127 of TechTalk4Teachers, I'm Tom Grissom. We have an abbreviated show for you this month as we are currently on semester break here at EIU but I do have some time-sensitive information to share with you. But first, as we transition from one semester to another many technology support personnel are working hard over the holidays to update and improve the technology infrastructure that we use daily.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(6 minutes 47 seconds)

As you come back from break be sure to thank those that provide technology services, as it often goes unnoticed, and when done well is invisible to the average user of technology. This invisibility is the goal of every technology support person but it also means a lot of people go unrecognized for their efforts. Be sure to let someone you know in a support role that you appreciate all the efforts required so that we all can reap the benefits of a reliable and robust network.

The semester break is also a time for many of us to recharge our batteries and prepare for a new semester full of hope and promise of starting anew. Many are also planning for conferences and we have a student technology conference to tell you about this month.

For Illinois students - we have the SIT conference scheduled in February and we need your help to get the word out. The SIT Conference is a one-day technology conference for students and led by students in grades 3 through 12. SIT stands for Students Involved with Technology and this is the second year that Eastern Illinois University will be hosting this event for students located in central and southern Illinois. The theme for the 2012 conference is All Hands On Tech. The conference is scheduled for Saturday, February 18th but the deadline to register for the event is January 18, 2012. There are a total of six hosting sites across Illinois this year and you can register for the closest event to you by visiting the website. The registration deadline is quickly approaching in Mid-January so please help us get the word out to Illinois teachers and students. I will have a link in the show notes to this website as well as promotional flyers for you to share with your school.

Here is the press release for this event:

Students Involved with Technology Conference comes to EIU

Has your child or student ever shown you how to use technology or tell you what is the “brand new thing” to be paying attention to in the tech world? Well, they have the opportunity to show other students and adults too. The Students Involved with Technology Conference is just the place for your student to establish themselves as a young leader in science. The conference is comprised of students from grades 3-12 presenting and sharing their knowledge of technology with their peers.

Each year the SIT Conference strives to expand its accessibility to regions across Illinois. The conference is an annual conference occurring at several sites simultaneously throughout Illinois, and for the second year in a row it is being held at Eastern Illinois University. The conference is set to take place Saturday, February 18, 2012 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Buzzard Hall at EIU.

This is a one-day technology conference for students and led by students in grades three through twelve. SIT strives to replicate an industry-level conference for its attendees, complete with a keynote speaker, snacks, lunch, hands-on activities, competitions, chances to win prizes and the choice of many different technology sessions to attend.

Student presenters develop a 20-minute session on a technology topic of their choice, create a handout for their session, and facilitate a question & answer session following their presentation. Sessions at the conference may include photo editing, digital art, robotics, programming, animation and much more.

The registration fee is $25 per student or adult sponsor, which includes a full day of sessions, a T-shirt, giveaways, snack and lunch. Students who present at the conference must have an adult sponsor for their presentation. All SIT participants must pre-register for the event by the deadline. No registrations will be available at the door.

The SIT Conference is sponsored through the Bloomington-Normal Education Alliance Technology Committee, with partners representing Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Heartland Community College, Unit 5, District 87, Olympia Schools, Regional Office of Education, Bloomington Public Library and State Farm.

With over 100 attendees participating in last year’s event, the conference is looking to have another successful year. Students and sponsors must register to present or to attend the conference at The deadline to register for the event is January 18, 2012. For questions about the SIT Conference, contact JoEllen Hickenbottom at 217-581-5114 or

SIT Conference Promotional Flyers

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is from the website of the Newseum located in Washington, D.C. Since we are at the end of the year for 2011 this time allows for a reflection upon the events that have occurred over the past twelve months. How things are reported can vary greatly from one location to another and this weeks tech pick gives you the ability to see the front page of newspapers across the country. There is also an archive section that you can explore to see how major events of the past year were portrayed on the front pages of newspapers across the world.

Newseum Front Page Today’s Stories

Newseum Front Page Archives

You can use the Sort Pages by Region link and drop-down menu to sort the newspapers by region and select the newspaper location. There is also an International section that will be of interest to social studies teachers that would make for some great primary source material for items in the news and for a discussion of current events with your classes. Links are provided in the show notes so be sure to checkout the Newseum’s catalog of newspaper front pages from around the world.

That wraps it up for episode 127 of TechTalk4Teachers. Please help spread the word about the upcoming Illinois Students Involved with Technology Conference to be held on Saturday, February 18th at EIU, registration deadline is January 18th so please share with your students and parents as soon as you get back from holiday break. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Episode 126 - Social media, digital footprints, and PLNs

It’s Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 and welcome to episode 126 of TechTalk4Teachers, I'm Tom Grissom. This month we will be talking about social media and how educators are using it to great advantage for sharing information and resources and also in developing personal and professional learning networks, commonly referred to as PLNs.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(36 minutes 33 seconds)

First up we have an interview with Dave Meister, a local principal from Paris Cooperative High School located about 30 minutes from EIU. Mr. Meister recently participated in a job fair for new teachers held at EIU and he shares how he uses Twitter and other social media to connect with other educators. We discuss the importance of having a professional digital footprint and what considerations go into the hiring process of new teachers. We also discuss the importance of collaborating with other educators and continually updating your knowledge and skills as an educator. Social media tools when used with a purpose and spirit of collaboration offer tremendous potential for educators. Because social media tools are relatively new we are just in the beginning stages of exploring the beneficial ways of using them. As always, when using any Web 2.0 technology, be sure to follow your organizations policies regarding social media and maintain a positive and professional digital footprint.

After my conversation with Principal Meister we have Dr. Cindy Rich from the Teaching with Primary Sources program here at EIU and she shares how the Library of Congress is using social media to share their mission with educators from all around the world. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr are all being used to share information and resources from the Library of Congress, but first we have our phone interview with Dave Meister.

Dave Meister Interview

Resources mentioned:
Cybraryman1 Resources for Educators

Cindy Rich Interview

Resources mentioned:

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the week this week is the K12onlince conference. The K12 Online Conference occurs annually and has been a featured Tech Pick of the Week on previous episodes of TechTalk4Teachers podcast.

K12 Online Conference

K12 Online Conference Schedule 2011

This is a timely pick because today, November 30th , is the third day for this online conference and it continues through December 9th, 2011. The theme for this years conference is Purposeful Play. Presentations are pre-recorded videos that educators across the world share at this conference and many presenters have blogs and Twitter addresses. The sessions of the K12 Online Conference are also archived so you can watch the video sessions when it is convenient for you if you cannot view it at the time in the conference schedule. The asynchronous nature for this conference is a blessing for many a busy educator that cannot attend face-to-face conferences due to either budget constraints or scheduling issues. Face-to-face conferences are still very important but many educators find more value in face-to-face conferences when they have established a previous online relationship with other educators. A simple service like Twitter when used with a purpose of building a professional learning network amplifies your professional relationships that occur overtime both online and face-to-face.
Adding other teachers to your own Professional Learning Network allows you to have access to many of the best and brightest educators from around the world. If you choose the people you follow strategically you will learn many new things as you will see all tweets from the people you follow in your Twitter stream. Social media is a big topic and everyone has their own definition of what it is. Social media is continuing to evolve and when used purposefully with a little common sense and netiquette many will find benefits that make it worthwhile.

That wraps it up for episode 126 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank Dave Meister and Dr. Rich for sharing how they are using social media, if you are on Twitter you can follow Mr. Meister @phsprincipal The Library of Congress has a Twitter account and can be followed @librarycongress If you would like to follow me on Twitter my twitter name is @tomgrissom

Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Episode 125 - Veterans Day 11th hour 11th day 11th month

It’s Monday, October 31, 2011 and welcome to episode 125 of TechTalk4Teachers, I'm Tom Grissom. Well you can probably tell by the intro that today marks Halloween in the United States. Many cities have already hosted trick or treat nights around the country where children (and adults) dress up in their costumes and visit neighborhood houses for the annual ritual of trick or treat night and/or attend Halloween parties. Tonight is the official night for Halloween so if you see a few characters dressed up in some unusual costumes don’t be too afraid.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(24 minutes 15 seconds)

In a couple of weeks we will observing Veterans Day here in the United States so we have invited Dr. Cindy Rich back with us today to discuss and share some of the patriotic music resources that are available from the Library of Congress. Dr. Rich is the Director of the Teaching with Primary Sources program here at EIU and her office has created a couple of web pages with resources to share with us this month related to Veterans Day as well as information about some of the patriotic music that is available at the Library of Congress website.

Veterans Day Interview Show Notes:

Theme Intro: Observing Veteran’s Day and Teaching with Music
On 11/11/11 we will observe Veterans Day. Many schools are choosing to have students attend classes on this day to use this opportunity to celebrate our Veterans, connect with communities and focus on topics and themes that may otherwise not be in curriculum. Regardless of whether we are looking at nationally discussed topics like progressions in medicine resulting from war, geographic influences on military strategies with maps, individuals that played important roles in our history, songs by the military and civilians or deeply personal stories of veterans, their correspondence home, drawings and photographs and diaries.

Veterans Day
To provide teachers with another tool to use in their classroom as we observe Veteran’s Day, TPSEIU created two pages on our site within our Special Projects area. The first is titled Veterans Day and provides links to many resources within the Library of Congress, the most poignant being the Veteran’s History Project

In addition, our Patriotic Songs has become really popular because we highlight official songs of branches of the US Armed Forces. The songs are shared through sheet music, audio, and information from the Library of Congress and links to the official website of that military branch.

Teaching with Music - Types of Primary Sources
Music created at a specific place or point in history is a powerful primary source. Students know that they are drawn to particular songs, artists or types of music. We can use this information to encourage them to analyze the lyrics and music from other times and places to gain a better understanding of life at that time.

Music is available at the Library of Congress site in the form of audio, sheet music and lyric sheets.
1. Sheet music is typically found in in jpeg and PDF format for printing.
2. Lyric or Song Sheets are also found in jpeg and PDF format and were often distributed to gatherings for sing-alongs.
3. Audio may be found in RealMedia or MP3 format. This audio can be downloaded and saved.

Performing Arts Encyclopedia
A search from the homepage will let you look for topics and type of resource. A wonderful area is the Performing Arts Encyclopedia Look at the Special Presentations for prepared sets with background information and highlighted items.

One of my favorites is Patriotic Melodies that tells the stories behind some of our countries most recognized songs.

Yankee Doodle - is available in sheet music from 1845 and 1862, song sheets and sound recordings as early as 1897.

God Bless America - You can find Irvin Berlin’s handwritten lyrics, however you will only find 30 second MP3 and RealMedia audio due to copyright restrictions.

Be sure to look at the BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION for the primary source - you will find restrictions and more!

Copyright and Primary Sources from the Library’s Teachers Page offers questions and answers about copyright and fair use.

Taking the Mystery out of Copyright is an interactive page for teachers and students

One key point to remember is to always cite your sources. It is important that we model this for students and show that we are respectfully giving credit where credit is due.

Technology Pick of the Week

I have two Technology Picks for this week, the first marks another milestone in human history. The United Nations has estimated that the 7 billionth human will be born today, October 31, 2011. With the world population continuing to grow it is evident that our collective actions have an increasing impact on planet earth. I have provided a link in the show notes to a United Nations website called where you and your students can learn more about population growth and how it impacts all of us.

United Nations - 7 billion actions website

This website provides plenty of topics for you to use with your students to discuss population growth and what we can do as individuals to reduce the detrimental effects that population growth upon planet Earth.

My second tech pick this week is a mashup of Google Maps and the local newspapers. A link is provided in the show notes.

Newspaper Map with Google Maps

This site presents a Google map of the world with place markers for many of the worlds newspapers. This is a great site to use for current events as you are able to select a newspaper in another part of the world and get the perspective of that locality. The markers are color coded by language. Many times I am interested in a story I briefly hear about in the news but would like to learn more about. For example the recent earthquake in Turkey was briefly mention by American news rooms but provided little detail. I went to the Google Newspaper map and clicked on a marker in Turkey that brought up the local newspaper but it was not printed in English. This was no problem as this site also uses Google translate to translate the pages to English. It is true that the translation is not perfect but it gives you enough information that you can learn more about whatever article you are interested in. Give it a try the next time you are looking for something specific about another country in the world.

That wraps it up for episode 125 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank Dr. Rich for being a guest on todays show and sharing patriotic music available from the Library of Congress and for providing an over view of Veterans Day. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Episode 124 – 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year

It’s Friday September 30th, 2011 and welcome to episode 124 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This episode we have an excerpt from a recent presentation given by the 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year to a group of EIU preservice teachers from earlier this month. The Teacher of the Year event was organized by the EIU chapter of the Association for Childhood Education International.  We also have another Teaching with Primary Sources segment where we will be talking with Dr. Cindy Rich the Director of the Teaching with Primary Sources program here at EIU about natural disaster resources available from the Library of Congress. September has also had a large number of technology related announcements so I will also share my Technology Pick of the Week.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(46 minutes 24 seconds)

First up we have Annice Brave, the winner of the 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year Award. She recently talked about a variety of topics related to education at an evening event here on campus. Her talk covered current educational news items including the movie Waiting for Superman, the Save our Schools march held this summer in Washington DC, how poverty is impacting our local schools and she ends her presentation by sharing her recent experiences with the other Teacher of the Year award winners from across the United States at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.  Without further delay here is an excerpt from the 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year presentation given by Annice Brave to teacher education students here at Eastern Illinois University.

Matt Damon speaks before SOS March

Teaching with Primary Sources

Natural Disasters
September 30, 2011
When teachers are looking for resources relative to this topic, the Library of Congress may not be the first place that comes to mind to look.  Remember, primary sources are created for every event and come in many formats. 

Natural disasters seem to be headlining the news more frequently.  The story may have played out on the other side of the globe or within our own state or community.  Even if we are not directly impacted by the event, it is amazing how many different disciplines and topics these discussions fit into.  Regardless, we want to show our students ways that they can connect with these events and hopefully encourage them to learn more. 

Let’s take a look at the diverse scenarios relative to nature taken to the extreme are reflected in the Library of Congress digitized collections.  We can take a look at items from the basic level of recognizing what they are, to how they fit into curriculum and sample activities that develop critical thinking skills.
Basic level of understanding: what are natural disasters and what types of primary sources exist that are relative? - earthquake, tornado, flood (hurricane, tsunami), drought (dust bowl), heat wave, blizzard, volcano & more.
  1. Basic search from homepage for images, maps, docs, etc. – when I enter flood in the search box there are 6468 items displayed.  I am shown a long list of relative terms such as flood control, floodplain, floods Mississippi, floods 1920-1930…  The same would happen for tornado, blizzard, etc.
  2. Today in History– archive search for flood gave 12 hits ranging from the 1775 creation of the Army Corp of Engineers to modern day.  We heard about flooding farms and rerouting the Mississippi in So IL this year and I was fascinated by information on the Hoover Dam.
Ideas for different content areas
  1. Science – the most obvious fit.  Beyond the homepage, primary sources in American Memory collection Weather and events are referenced in the papers of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as well as those from the Chicago Daily News, Prairie Settlement and more. Do you know about Everyday Mysteries?  from the Kids and Families link.  Science based questions with answers and an opportunity to ask questions.
  2. Geography –  Map Collections offer resources for studying changes in landscapes over time, Places in the News .
  3. Social Studies/History – Use maps to research impact on communities, culture over time.
  4. Languages arts- setting and context, dust bowl 6  in American Memory – America from the Great Depression to World War II (Photographs from the FSA/OWI 1935-1945) , American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940   and Voices from the Dust Bowl
Taking it into the Classroom and Critical Thinking

Nature’s Fury
– 7 a lesson for grades 6-12 looking at personal stories about natural disasters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries through newly invented motion pictures, panoramic photos, personal accounts and poignant song lyrics.

Topics in Chronicling America – 8
The Great San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 – various articles that students can review and compare perceptions from different newspapers
Next month in honor of Veterans Day we will look at music available at and discuss copyright, fair use and guidelines.

Technology Pick of the Week
My Technology Pick of the week this week is from the recent Amazon event held Wednesday in new York City. Amazon announced three new Kindle devices to add to their staple of ebook readers but the big news of the event was the affordable prices that will most likely bring the use of ebooks to the masses. The lowest cost device is the all new Kindle coming in at a price of $79. The middle model comes in two flavors and is called the Kindle Touch that has wifi with a price of $99 and the Kindle Touch 3G that has Whispersync that allows the purchase and downloading of content over the 3G network. The big news of the day however is the new Kinndle Fire that is a color tablet similar to the iPad but at less than half the cost with a starting price of $199. The Kindle Fire not only is an ebook reader but is also a tablet device that can playback HD movies and also download apps from the Amazon Store. These prices are the most affordable we have seen to date and most likely will give ebooks a boost with the general public.
Amazon Kindle

From the Amazon website:
“We are excited to announce four new products: the all-new Kindle for only $79, two new touch Kindles – Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G – for $99 and $149, and a new class of Kindle – Kindle Fire – a beautiful full color Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, apps, games, web browsing and more, for only $199.”

That wraps it up for episode 124 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank the 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year award winner, Annice Brave, for sharing her presentation. I also want to thank Dr. Rich for her Teaching with Primary Sources segment on natural disasters this month. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. Keep on Learning.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Episode 123 – September 11 Resources From The Library of Congress

It’s Wednesday August 31, 2011 and welcome to episode 123 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. It is the end of August and thousands of educators are going back to school all across the nation. This month we have some September 11th resources to share with you as this year marks the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Dr. Cindy Rich is back again to share resources from the Library of Congress that teachers may be interested in using in the classroom. But first I want to take a moment to recognize the many individuals that have worked very hard over the summer to prepare for the first week of school.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(27 minutes 03 seconds)

Before teachers and professors return to school there is an invisible army of support staff that have been working away all summer to make the first week of back to school a successful one for students. From building service workers that have been doing maintenance, cleaning, and waxing of floors to the technical support staff that have been busy adding wireless Internet connections, installing new equipment, repairing old equipment, and updating software this time of year is always hectic. So if you see someone in the hallways that has made your life a little easier this week be sure to give them a thank you for all their efforts.

I want to personally give a salute to all the support staff that work tirelessly that are often unrecognized for all their efforts. We here at EIU are off to a smooth start to the school year and that is in no small part attributable to all the work that occurs over the summertime by numerous individuals that have things ready to go for the first week back to school.  So thank you to all the dedicated staff that make a difference for a successful start to the school year.

At our university we have installed hundreds of new computers, updated thousands, and improved the network to handle increasing traffic. All of this is unnoticed unless something goes wrong. When you click your mouse on a link it just works. It just works because of all the preparation and hard work that goes into providing the services required to support a modern school.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America and many teachers will be looking for resources to share with students in a couple of weeks. Here is my interview with Dr. Cindy Rich who gives an overview of primary sources available at the Library of Congress website.

Eastern Illinois University Teaching With Primary Sources September 11 Webpage  

--> archives

 --> search box (upper right corner)



(these are the classroom activities in the areas of history, critical thinking and arts and humanities)

Teaching about September 11 Using Primary Sources from the Library of Congress

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week are a couple of interactive timelines about the 9/11 tragedy. The History Channel offers a timeline along with a host of multimedia content including video, photos, audio, and interactive maos. A link is a available in the show notes:

I have also linked to a 911 Memorial website with timeline of the events of that day.

These websites are interactive and allow you to scroll through a timeline to see a breakdown of the events of that tragic day.

There will also be many memorial services on 9/11 across America so be sure to checkout the opportunities to attend in your local area to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy. Here at EIU there are several events scheduled during the week of 9/11 including a candle light vigil  & memorial service on Sunday evening the 11th on the quad as well as many guest speakers scheduled to speak at various events throughout the week.

That wraps it up for episode 123 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank Dr. Rich for being a guest on todays show. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. 

Keep on learning…

Friday, July 29, 2011

Episode 122 - Looking for the Oregon Trail

It’s Friday, July 29th 2011 and welcome to episode 122 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This month we have a couple of special segments to share with you, first I have a debriefing with Brian Poulter, we had Brian on the show a couple of episodes ago back on Episode 120 when he was about to leave on a motorcycle trip to follow the Oregon Trail. Brian is now back from his trip and has some interesting stories to share with us.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(33 minutes 43 seconds)

Following the Oregon Trail segment I will have an interview with Dr. Cindy Rich from the Teaching with Primary Sources grant here at EIU who I have invited back again to share more about digital resources available from the Library of Congress. In talking with Dr. Rich after last months show we thought we would try to make a new recurring segment called Teaching with Primary Sources to incorporate into the TechTalk4Teachers podcast to share the many things made available to teachers from the TPS grant.

So once again we have a lot to cover so let’s get started.

Looking for the Oregon Trail

In the End

Tragedy Strikes

Picture of Graves with Mt Hood in Background

Teaching with Primary Sources

EIU Teaching with Primary Sources Website

Library of Congress

Library of Congress Site Update Sheet

Kitten on the Keys Music

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is a TED video by Matt Cutts. Matt gives an excellent talk about trying something new for 30 days. When Brian Poulter and I talked about Oregon Trail trip we threw out a challenge to you for trying something new over the summertime and sharing that experience. Brian also mentioned that he would be doing another photo a day experience this fall. I believe as educators we must constantly sharpen our saws and hone our skills to make us better educators. Becoming stagnant and stuck in a rut is a death knell for an educator.

TED Talks Homepage

Having a time of purposeful practice is absolutely necessary in order to improve any skill. The only way to achieve that is with commitment and focus. You can read and dream all you want but the effects of actually doing something is the only way to improve, there is a price to pay for getting better at something. Since education is all about constant improvement, by learning new things we need to consciously make decisions about what area of life we would like to improve.

I have provided a link in the show notes to the TED talk by Matt Cutts about such taking a 30 day challenge.

Learning takes time and repetition and it turns out that focusing on something for 30 days provides just enough time to create new habits (or break bad ones).

If you are not familiar with the TED talks you should really check them out. There are nearly 1000 videos of some of the worlds best and brightest thinkers at the TED website where videos of short 20 minute or less presentations are available about what the speakers are passionate about.

Here is what the TED website says, “TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design”

So, if you have a little extra time this summer and have not yet experienced TED Talks, or even if you have, I encourage you to visit the TED website and do a search on whatever topic of interest and sit back, watch, and be inspired.

That wraps it up for episode 122 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank Brian Poulter and Cindy Rich for being guests on todays show. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. Keep on learning…

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Episode 121 – Teaching with Primary Sources Podcast

It’s Thursday, June 30th 2011 and welcome to episode 121 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. We have another great interview lined up for you and this month we will be talking about using primary sources with your students and where you can find millions of resources to use with your classes. This episode mentions a few links throughout the interview so be sure to check out the show notes to learn more about all the resources that are shared.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(32 minutes 13 seconds)

For those of you wondering about the adventures of Brian Poulter and his motorcycle trip following the Oregon Trail be sure to checkout his blog at Seems Brian has run into a bit of a snag and the best laid plans have hit a glitch. I hope to talk with Brian again soon so until then you can follow his blog to find out the latest.

End of the Trail

We have a lot of resources to share with you today so let’s get right to it.

TechTalk4Teachers Links for Episode 121
Teaching with Primary Sources

Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Illinois University

Library of Congress

American Memory

Presidential Inauguration

After the Day of Infamy Man on the Street Interviews

Ansel Adams’ Photographs of Japanese American Internment

Veteran’s History Project

Childhood Lost: Child Labor during the Industrial Revolution

Follow the Evidence: The Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators (Lincoln CSI)

Central Illinois Teaching with Primary Sources Newsletter

Teacher’s Page

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gas station price analysis

Civil War Maps

Patriotic Melodies

Stars and Stripes Forever

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is a very affordable MP3 player that is working very well for my renewed interest in My Media Mall and the free audio books that can be checked out from this site. Back on episode 119 of TechTalk4Teachers we explored the topic of ebooks and also talked about a service called My Media Mall and the Overdrive software that is available at many local libraries across the nation. Using this free service from my local library I can checkout up to 5 audio books for a period of up to two weeks. After that time the digital rights management scrambles the files so the titles become unusable.

I recently needed another MP3 Player and came across the Sansa Fuze 4GB model that is currently available at for approximately 60 dollars. This MP3 player also has expandable storage that I use with microSD cards to add capacity when I need it. Being able to add storage on-demand is a very nice feature and it helps me manage audio and video content by keeping different categories of audio or video on different microSD cards. The Sansa Fuze also has a nice display that is easy to use and you can easily navigate through your content using the scroll wheel. The Sansa Fuze can also play videos but I find the 1.9 inch screen too small for video viewing so I will stick with my netbook or other computer connected to my HDTV for video viewing. A link is in the show notes to the model I purchased. I also purchased an arm band so I can strap it on my arm when exercising or moving about. It is advertised to have a 24 hour battery life but I have not come close to running out of battery before I recharge it so I will just have to take their word on that.

Sansa Fuze 4GB Model – works with My Media Mall with Windows 7

Technical Details
• Listen, watch, and play all day with 24 hours of battery life and room for up to 1,000 songs
• Watch your favorite video clips or share your photos on the 1.9-inch color screen
• Digital FM radio with 40 preset stations
• Voice recording with built-in microphone
• Expand your existing 4 GB memory with the microSD/microSDHC slot

Since I already had the Overdrive software program loaded on my PC all I had to do was go to My Media Mall and checkout the audio books that I wanted then downloaded them to my computer. Once they were downloaded on my computer I simple connected the USB cable that came with the Sansa MP3 player then opened Overdrive and right-clicked on the title of the audio book that I wanted to transfer to the device and clicked on transfer. I have already listened to several titles and would recommend Blink and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell to either put on your summer reading list or listening list, whatever medium you prefer. I often prefer the audio content as I can be doing other things while listening.

Here is bonus tech pick for you. I am also an outdoors type of person and have a small farm where I am often out on a tractor doing various chores. I often use a special headset that has earmuffs to help with the engine noise but the headset also has a MP3 Jack that I can plug in a MP3 Player like the Sansa Fuze and listen to audio books or podcasts like this one while I am out plowing the fields or mowing the lawn. A link is in the show notes to the headset I use.

WorkTunes Headset with MP3 Jack

That wraps it up for episode 121 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. I would like to thank Dr. Cindy Rich for taking the time to talk with us about Teaching with Primary Sources and encourage everyone to go to the websites she mentioned and check them out further. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning…

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Episode 120 - The Oregon Trail, a motorcycle, a camera, a blog, and a summer teacher challenge

It's Tuesday, May 31st 2011 and welcome to Episode 120 of TechTalk4Teachers, I'm Tom Grissom. Summertime is now upon us and thousands of teachers will soon be on summer break but the learning never stops. On todays show I have an interview with Brian Poulter from the EIU Journalism department and we will have a discussion about sharing our passions and how teachers can challenge themselves to take on a summer project that will take their learning to the next level.

Right Click Here to Download MP3
(33 minutes 25 seconds)

Brian will be going on a summer adventure in June where he will be taking his motorcycle across the country following the route of the Oregon Trail and shooting photos and videos along the way. The ultimate goal of his trip will be to create a video production on the Oregon Trail using affordable technologies that fit into a backpack on his motorcycle. This episode has a lot of tips for those interested in sharing their experiences by using blogs, photos, and videos made possible by modern technologies along with a challenge for you to select a summer project of your own to take your learning to the next level.

Looking for the Oregon Trail

Here is our interview from earlier.


TOM: With me today we have Brian Poulter who is a photojournalism professor here at Eastern Illinois University. I invited Brian in today to talk about some of things that he’s been doing over the summertime. With summertime fast approaching, many teachers are going to be going out and going on vacation and Brian’s done some really interesting work with sharing, photography in particular and incorporating that with blogs and he’s done some cross the country trips with a motorcycle and he’s blogged his experiences. Last summer, he went to Alaska, and, he blogged that particular trip day-by-day, taking photographs as he went along, and this year, I believe he’s going to be going on the Oregon Trail.

Two Wheels North

So, let me just turn it over to Brian and let him introduce himself and we’re just going to talk a little bit about sharing some of this information and how teachers can use it and blog their experiences and increase their skills. I think Brian and I both agree that the best way to do this is just to get out there and do it and practice. You know, you can read, and talk about it, and think about it all you want but you’re really not going to understand and gain the skills until you really do it. So, Brian…

BRIAN: Hello, I’m Brian Poulter, and nice to talk to you all today. I think he’s brought up a couple of really nice points here. This summer you’re going to be doing something, and one of the best ways, because I teach Photojournalism and New Media and I have to try to keep up on all the new technology, and like yourself, it’s impossible to do--I’m sure you’ll find that is a truism. So what I often do is I find something I’m going to do and force myself to do a project about it. And by doing so… and then telling everybody I’m going to do it, I have no excuses not to do it—

TOM: (laugh) Right.

BRIAN: --because they’re, looking for it. And the beauty of that is you get to figure out what the thesis is of what you’re going to do. You’re not locked into anything, and yet you’re forcing yourself to work with the new technologies. And what that does is allows you to make a lot of mistakes but you don’t have to show it to anybody, but you’ve made the mistakes and, better yet, when you try these new technologies, whether is Blogger or Flickr or an actual piece of hardware, what you’ve done is you’ve made mistakes so if you work with your students later on, they’re going to make similar mistakes, and you’ve figured out how to solve them. And you’re a better teacher, and everybody thinks you’re brilliant because you’ve figured out how to make their mistakes, and it makes your content better. I don’t’ care if you’re a talented pianist or a talented, racecar driver, the first time you work with a new piano or new racecar, you just don’t quite know how it’s set up and how it’s working. And so you’ve got to get comfortable with it. And with that comfort comes confidence and that’s going to work in your teaching.

TOM: Right, and that’s true of most things in life. It’s that “practice, practice, practice.” And, you know, oftentimes, in education we’re so focused on, “Well, we’ve got to get to Chapter 3 by such-and-such time and just going down and covering material. We really need to pause, one of the things that I see in teaching pre-service teachers is giving the students those opportunities in authentic environments. So the project that you’re doing, like you did last year with, with the Alaska trip, is a perfect , you know, a perfect project for that because you’re incorporating multiple technologies and they’re getting to see an end product, an end result there. And that involves several different skills, whether the technology—Really, to me, the technology, is the easiest part to master. It’s all those other pieces and putting it together and coming up, for example, in your Alaska trip, telling those stories and things day-by-day coming through to make that whole, to make it, a good experience out there.

BRIAN: Well the other great thing, too, is on the trip, I had a lot of photographs, raw photographs, that hadn’t been touched, and even though I processed them and I’d send them to, in this case, newspapers for republication and I had the rights and I had the edits and I gave myself about an hour and a half a day to do it because I was also riding a motorcycle—in the rain, most of the time, it seemed.

TOM: Yeah, let’s back up a minute and just set up that and preface for what you did last year in Alaska. So, it was what? Thirty days?

BRIAN: Yeah, I left here in Charleston, Illinois, which is what, two hours south of Chicago or a little bit west of Indianapolis? And I rode from here to the Artic Circle and the Yukon and then you have to come back, actually south and then west to get into Alaska and then I came back through. And so what I did is I blogged everyday with photos and text and sent it to the Decatur, Illinois Herald & Review and they republished it.And the nice thing about that is that once I get back, I still have these raw photographs and I can give them to students and I can say, “I’m going to give you 35 minutes to turn this into a publishable photograph,” and say, “Here’s what I got, yours doesn’t have to look exactly like mine does, because that’s part of the art, is how you work with it, the decisions you make, but it’s a real-life scenario. It’s not like it’s out of a workbook where they think, “Oh, we’re just doing this for busy work.” This is a photograph that someone’s published before. Are they up to the challenge and the task of doing this? I teach journalism and photojournalism , so I’m about storytelling. So, if I can give them some photographs, give them a little more time, they’re new at it. It’s a great opportunity for them to see if they are up to the task. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Photoshop or if they’re using some other photo manipulation program, again, or one of the other free ones that’s available like GIMP. It’s all about the end result, the skill I’m teaching, and it’s more real to life. And, I found that students get more excited about stuff that seems real to them rather than like, pulled out of a workbook.

TOM: Right, right. And, I’ll provide a link in the show notes to this Alaska trip. It’s really worth going out there and taking a look. You were using Wordpress, Flickr…?

BRIAN: Well, in this case, I was just sending this stuff directly to the Decatur Herald Review, but for previous stuff I’ve done and stuff I do in my own personal work, I work with Wordpress a lot which, if you’re not familiar with it, you can go to and you can it really help sets up a bunch of, I don’t want to call them templates because that isn’t a strong enough word for what’s they are. But, it really builds a nice, beautiful website that you can manipulate, put plug-ins in, or you can also get that software for free and load it onto your own server so you have more control. That’s nice. Another great tool to work with that is Flickr, Just take the “e” out of flicker.

TOM: Yep. F-L-I-C-K-R.

BRIAN: It’s the Facebook of photography. It’s a social network.

TOM: Been around for a long time.

BRIAN: It’s free. If you want to pay 24, 25 dollars a year to have a professional account, I do only because you get to load up more and bigger stuff, but once you have it set up, it’s a depository for your photographs. You can then say to Facebook, “Take this photograph. Put it on my Facebook page.” And, you can also say, “Take this photograph, and put it on my Blogger site or my Wordpress site.” So, it’s like a cloud that holds all your photographs, but you can from there parse it out. And, it’s archived. If your computer crashes, you now know where your photographs still are; they didn’t disappear off your hard drive.

TOM: Right, now talk about some of the challenges there because you are going across country and are you uploading those photos as you go?

BRIAN: Right, and no…when I say that I blog daily, it was nice in a way because the Decatur Herald & Review didn’t want to pay anybody to sit and receive my work on the weekends, so I had the weekends off. Even though I was writing and shooting stuff, I didn’t get to put up stuff, and it often coincided to when I didn’t have internet availability it would be one of those weekends. But… thank goodness for wireless, free wireless at gas stations and libraries and hotels and wherever I could find it, and there were times where I literally turned my computer on, said send the photographs, put the laptop in a bush, and walked two blocks away and ate and came back, not thinking that anyone was going to find my laptop in that bush because that was where the best internet connection was. You know, when you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s fewer people to find your stuff and steal it.

TOM: Yeah, and then I noticed on the blog you were having people comment and things as it went along. Was that all done on the fly as you were going, or did they publish that after the fact?

BRIAN: No, they published it daily. A lot of times what I did was I actually emailed the text
to my wife because we were having some FTP issues and she could check periodically. I can’t do that on a motorcycle. And, the fun thing I learned about when you blog for a newspaper is that it doesn’t go through an editing process. They just publish it, so there are a couple sentences I now go back and read, and I go, “What the heck does that say.” So, when you’re reading be tolerate.

TOM: Keep that in mind that you were eight hours on a motorcycle, and…

BRIAN: Yeah, and by the way, I didn’t mention that it rained nineteen of the first twenty days I was on the motorcycle. Every single day I got wet, but that’s a great thing to tell students. You say, “You have no excuses for not getting your homework done. I had homework to do, and I had to do it in the rain from a motorcycle. It’s doable.”
TOM: Welcome to the real world.

BRIAN: Going back to the thing, I think you were trying to establish this, it’s summer. If you’re passionate to go visit it some place, something…

BRIAN: I think will be stunned that if you just do a minor about of research, and let’s say…well, I’m going on the Oregon Trail, so I’m contacting this woman who is an editor of a tribal newspaper on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. I don’t know her, and I send her an email and say, “Hey, here’s what I’m doing. Would you be willing to participate?” And, she’s like yeah, and she’s an award winning journalist. Anytime you approach somebody with a little bit of passion and a little bit of understanding and have done just a minor amount of research so people understand that you’re just not trying to get some freebie from them you’ll be stunned at how much time they’re be willing to spend with you. And, that introduces some unique photographs or writing or whatever it is you’re passionate about in teaching, and it gets you excited.

TOM: Right, yes.

BRIAN: You know, I’ve taught the main Photo class two or three times a semester for nineteen years. I really, really enjoy that class. In fact, it’s my favorite class, but I change it every semester. I don’t teach it exactly the same way. I have the same results I have to achieve. If I don’t get excited about it, I can’t get them excited.

TOM: Well, let’s just pause and stop. How much has changed in the last nineteen years? I mean, every year there’s something, you know, that you’re adapting and integrating into it. But, it’s just staggering just to pause just a moment to think how much the world’s changed.

BRIAN: I used to teach taking film out of a canister and rolling it on the reel.

TOM: and a darkroom.

BRIAN: And, then printing it in the darkroom. Then, we went to…we still use film, but then we scanned it. Then, we go to digital. Well, digital wasn’t going to be good as film ever.

TOM: Exactly, it will never…

BRIAN: Now, we’ve given up film, and I have a M.F.A. in Photography. And, I love my experience with printing photographs in the darkroom and putting my hands in chemicals that will probably kill me like via cancer one day, but I don’t miss it. And, it’s cheaper. And, the best thing is, like your students, if you’re not making mistakes with technology, you’re probably not learning. And, that’s what this summer project is about, if you take on our challenge, I guess that’s what we’re saying here, is about…is making mistakes and learning. I tell my students all the time, who are really good at something, “You’re not working very hard. You’re not doing good work.” “Well, I’m getting an A.” Yes, but you’re not teaching yourself anything.

TOM: I have several teachers in my personal learning network, and the photo 365 is one of those things. And, it’s exactly that. Just doing one photo a day for 365 days, and I really do think that teachers would benefit from that blogging experience out there. Especially if you’re wanting to incorporate a specific subject out there, and you know, as teachers, like I said when we go on vacation we always mix those things that interest us. And, just imagine a social studies teacher going to Washington, D.C. for example and being able to share that experience and things. And, just having that catalogue of photographs, if nothing else, to be able to share with their class. And then, since I’m an audio podcaster, if you would want to take a recorder, digital recorder, tape recorder, and being able to do that. And I know you’re also involved with video. …and you might mention that because you said that you’re changing it up from what you did last year with the Oregon Trail.

BRIAN: Right, this year I am, I’m still taking my digital camera which by the way can shoot video, but I’m taking a specific Panasonic video camera, and I’m working on a documentary film that will incorporate some still but will primarily be video-based because I need to learn something new. And, in journalism, we no longer teach people, really, to work for TV stations, newspapers. We teach them to work for media companies because, if you’re working for NBC, I don’t know if you know this but, they have a website, and they put video on it, and they put text on it, and they do everything on it. And, a requirement of our core curriculum in our journalism program is they have to take a New Media course. It’s one of many things. And, they have to learn to edit video. They have to learn to edit audio. They’ve already been doing stills. And, combine these. They have to blog, and not just in the New Media class, in the writing classes, they have to blog. In our ethics classes, they blog. In our Sports Writing class, they have to make their own photographs and blog even though it’s primarily a writing course. So, there’s a cross-connection of stuff going on here, and teachers can really benefit and help themselves be a more effective and more excited about what they do day to day if they just participated. And, that sort of thing.

Brian: …something I did with my students for 30 days and you’ll have a link off here I’m sure to…all shot with point shoot cameras, not the expensive stuff, I challenge myself to make a photograph and publish it every single day for thirty days, and then, I challenge my students to do it. They go that’s too hard and I go I can do it I have a job, things I got to do.

Itty bitty photo

Tom: I think that’s often excuse……for…students. I remember whenever I was starting out with podcasting things, I literally was using a little netbook and a ten dollar microphone. And yeah, those didn’t sound as great, but I was learning the process and things. And then, over time, I’ve upgraded the equipment, and now, I’m using a mixer. And we have two microphones going in whereas before it was just you know one microphone that we shared back and forth, but again, the important thing is to get started on that and as you said find something that you’re passionate about and the rest will follow out there.

Brian: On one of the first trips I did, I followed the Mississippi with a teacher, a local teacher, I know who is an alum of Eastern here named Jim Standerfer, a very talented writer, because I didn’t want to do the writing and the photography. This last time I realized how hard it was. I purposely used a Canon Powershot G10 camera; the same point and shoot camera we teach our students with, the same one you..can’t buy now because the G11 is the new version, but it’s a point and shoot camera. And, my point then doing some work which got in a gallery show and got published in newspapers was that I’m trying to teach technique and understanding not how to use a specific piece of technology. One of the main reasons I did it that way is that I said, “Look here is the same camera that I hand you in class. What’s your excuse.” I also make sure though, when I talk about this, I show them all the bad photographs that I make that don’t quite work or have a technical problem. We were discussing before we went on air, I guess you call it, the best thing you can do to be able to teach something effectively is to play with it and screw it up. You’ll never be able to teach something as well or do anything as well as after you’ve had to teach it, break it down and not approach it from how you learned it but figure out how somebody else learns it and approaches it that way. And, I think it all snowballs from there.

Tom: Right…Students have to internalize that learning and the only way that you internalize it is through those experiences out there and that you have to provide those opportunities for the students to learn and to fail. I use a term…I tell my student whenever I start on some project-based learning activity is I want you to fail fast. I want you to go through and take all the steps of this project and go through very, very small at first. So say a podcast, you know, it would be probably crazy to give my students to say I would like for you all to do a thirty minute podcast, so let’s do a one minute or even a thirty second one. You would be surprised how much time you could spend on just a thirty second project. You know because you’ve done it out there, but students think. “Oh, no problem. Let’s do a public service announcement. Thirty seconds, here’s what you want to do.” That literally can take hours to get that thirty seconds.

Brian: One of the other things related to that, I think, is that, what we’re talking about here too, when you set up these situations where you allow people to fail, you don’t have to ride your motorcycle through the Arctic to make content; you don’t have to go on the Oregon Trail. I’m just interested in those things, so I decided to document. However, going back to what I was talking about before, I had set up this photograph every single day. Publish it online; people were checking it. I did this in Charleston, Illinois. We’re a county that’s what, 30,000 at most and it’s shrinking in population.

Tom: Rural Illinois, corn and bean fields everywhere.

Brian: So, I had to find something. And a lot of it did not come on the campus which takes about half the population of the county away. I had little towns like, if you’ve ever looked at a map, Reardon, Illinois. Something I don’t know if you can even find on a map. Well, I would just go drive because I had this hour and a half window available that day, and I knew people would give me a really hard time if I didn’t put something up. And so, what you find yourself doing is falling back on “Ok, I teach this class. What makes a good photograph? What compositional things can I do turn this situation into a good photograph? What’s at the heart of a good photograph? It’s emotion, it’s faces.” Sort of, you’re like, oh yeah, there’s a reason why this stuff that I teach works. It actually does great. …and it sounds like work but actually it was probably the best part of my day. It was like my hour and my half where I got to be creative and do something for myself....

Tom: But, you set that goal to begin with and that’s kind of that drive…same thing here with this podcast. I used to publish weekly and then I made it once a month and kind of turned this into more of an interview type format. But, you do feel yourself, I don’t know if pressures the right word, but you have that goal in the back of your mind. Like, oh, it’s coming up on the end of the month, we need to get the whatever it is done, whatever goal you have accomplished.

Brian: The best thing about teaching photo students having been a photo journalist is you can’t make photographs over the phone. You can’t sit in an office and call someone up and say, “Can you send me a photograph that I can use and put my name on.” You overcome what I call the Velcro of the Couch Effect which is the hardest part of any project is getting your butt off the couch, being stuck there and there is this inertia of a body at rest. You’d be amazed once you go out there and just…the beautiful thing of the assignment of making a photograph a day is you know you have to do something. There are no excuses for well that’s not going to be good enough so I’m not going to push the button. And you’d be surprised that, when you force yourself to do something, you can do better stuff than you thought you could do.

Tom: Right, and that’s that growing process and learning process out there. And, once again, it comes back to practice, the more you do, you know, I think, subconsciously, it works on your mind over time. As long as you have the goal, and you mentioned this, of constantly improving because it is possible to get in a rut and, well, I know how to do this, I’m going to do the same thing, as you said, thirty times this way. But, as long as you push it to that next level, and grow. And that’s where that patience comes in, so if you have that patience in there, you’re constantly striving for that.

Brian: I do some workshops for high schools, and we put a bunch here. And there’s a little town called Mount Carmel in the Southern part of the state, Wabash County. And, they bring me in, and I teach their students photography and a little bit of web design and this sort of stuff. I look at what they do now, and they’re running…they’re building commercial websites for the businesses in their community. And, one faculty said, “I know how to do web servers or you know do subservers”. So, they do that. And, one person, “Well, I sort of know web design, and I teach business communication.” And, what I love about their approach down there is, these faculty have found a way to keep themselves excited rather than just like, “Well, design a website for yourself,” and really, how do you critique that. But, now you have a customer to keep happy, and you don’t get to pick pink for your webpage just because you like pink. You better hope that there’s a reason for it to be pink, and one of the largest producers of oil drilling bits in the country is in Mount Carmel, Illinois. They do the website for them. They don’t want pink; I don’t think. They want red and oil black, and so it’s real life experience. And those kids get to point to that, put that on their resume, their college application and say, “I’ve done commercial websites.” That’s better than I built a website for myself, and the faculty get the pride and satisfaction of knowing they’re really teaching real stuff.

Tom: Ok, we probably need to wrap-up here a little bit, but let’s talk a little bit about some of the technologies and things that you and I both use out there for…obviously the Tech Talk for Teachers blog, if you visited that site, we’re using Blogger. And then, for their photo site of that, they’ve got another Google property that’s called Picassa, so some people may have heard that name. So, since those two belong to both companies, those are kind of a natural pair out there, Blogger and Picassa for some of your photographs. A long time ago, like I said, Flickr’s been out there. It was one of the first web 2.0 companies. They were and still are, aren’t they, a Yahoo! property…

Brian: Uh…yeah…Yahoo!...yeah. And so, if you have a Yahoo! email account, you already have a Flikr account.

Tom: Whether you know it or not…it’s part of your Yahoo! account.

Brian: Yes, you just log in there. And so, I made up a Yahoo! email account just for that purpose.

Tom: And, for teachers out there, you know, keeping the personal separate from some of the class projects out there, you know. You might set up a separate account for something like that whether it be a Blogger or a Flickr or Picassa whatever…whatever it might be. Same thing, you know the Yahoo! account, same thing with Gmail, if you have Gmail, you have Blogger and Picassa out there available to you.

Brian: And, click on Google, and click on tabs: the extra stuff that they normally don’t show you. I mean there’s…

Tom: More items…I can’t remember what it is. I click on it all the time.

Brian: You have a website. You want to know if people are using it.

Tom: Google sites?

Brian: Google analytic will tell you an amazing amount of stuff that you probably don’t want to know about your traffic or lack of it sometimes (laughs).

Tom: (laughs) Yeah. And then, when we were talking earlier, you mentioned something about Vimeo. Can you talk a little about Vimeo and Youtube?

Brian: Right. Vimeo and Youtube, I’m sure you all know what Youtube is. …Vimeo, I like to call it the adult version of Youtube. …It doesn’t take commercial content. It’s much higher quality. …and if you want to inspire yourself and challenge yourself and your students, you can go there and just find a bunch of stuff. Now, it’s overwhelming because there’s so many stuff there, and before I go on, they have some really nice forums that are really helpful for a specific camera, what you are trying to do. …everyday they have staff favorites which just for your own entertainment purposes and to inspire yourself are worth looking at. You can have a paid account, but it’s also free. Just, when you pay, you can upload more, and you can get more options. I’m using the free one right now. When I come back from my trip on Oregon, I’m going to offer my stuff to both PBS and probably put an edited version up on Vimeo just because the quality is so high. I mean it’s high definition streaming if you want it streamed at a higher quality. It’s much higher quality than what Youtube offers. It’s worth checking out, if for no other reason, because, as a teacher, I steal ideas all the time. I see somebody do something really awesome. Hey, that’s pretty cool. I’m going to teach my students to do that, and I’m going to steal that idea. And, it’s everything from big massive epic productions where people have hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment to stuff that was shot with Flickr cameras or, I’m sorry, flash-based camera. It’s a better resource, I think, for getting better content. Looking at stuff that you can steal ideas from and try to emulate to make yourself better.

Tom: Ok, to wrap-up here, let’s just kind of go through a project, and you’ve inspired me. I probably need to start doing some more photography and things. That’s something I’ve always been interested in, and I was one of those, when I was teaching high school we had the dark room, so it’s been a few years. I’ve gone through that evolution. But, I, number one is establish a goal. Don’t let the summer go by, you know. If you’re going to be out there on vacation and you’re interested and passionate in something out there, just make it a goal out there to provide some type of way that you can share your passion and knowledge out there on the subject with others. And then, from there, you know, pick whatever media…medium you would like to do whether it be still photographs or a combination of photographs and blogging and things. I’ll put in the links in the show to some of Brian’s prior work because I think that blog for teachers out there, that’s a familiar format, you know. We’re very familiar with blogs at this point, but it’s having that goal out there on that specific thing. Any other words of wisdom here as we…

Brian: I just think what you want to do, primarily, is say imagine someone sitting there, and they say tell me a story. So, what is it you’re interested about? What do you know something about? Where are you going? And, tell them a story about it, and you’re all teachers so figure out what’s the teachable moment out of it and chase that. And then, figure out how…but before you go figure out how you might share it that will sort of dictate what your approach will be. And, the beautiful thing here is that you don’t tie yourself to thirty seconds or thirty minutes or something. This is not broadcast. This is internet casting. It’s how long does this need to be but edited down, so there’s not extra in there. You know, you don’t a twenty page paper when a ten page paper will do, and go out there and make some mistakes, and if it totally blows up in your face, nobody will know about it. Unless you’re stupid enough to tell people you’re going on the Oregon Trail.

Tom: Which can be a motivating factor as you said, along there to push you.

Brian: You’re teachers. You know what a little research can do. You know knowing something before you get there, what it’s about, and that allows you to focus in, literally, on what the story’s about. But, I just spent two days figuring out how to get two pieces of software to work together, so I know I’m going to have to do this. But, you know what, that’s kind of fun once you figure out how to do it, and the thing that teachers have available that nobody had available fifteen to twenty years ago are forums. Go there. Ask questions. Just say, I’m a newb or a novice. And, as soon as you admit that you don’t know anything, everybody’s willing to help you. It’s a beautiful thing. So, figure out what you want to do, try it, ask for some help. If you fail, so what no one will know the difference.

Tom: Yep, get better next time. Reach that next level. Ok, I’d like to thank Brian Poulter for coming in today. It’s been a great conversation, and also, as you all head into summer, I’d love to hear from you. Some of the audience members out there, if you have an idea, if you have little question, shoot an email to our email address, and I’d love to see some of the projects or things. Whenever you come back to school this fall, be sure to drop me a note. Let us know if this has been beneficial for you, and we will continue to broadcast. I’ll have another episode in June. So, we will continue over the summer, but for those of you that are going on break, you can stay subscribed. And, I’d like to wish everybody a very productive summer.

Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology Pick of the Week this week is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer tablet. I recently was in the market for purchasing a new netbook for my own personal use but I was also was considering a tablet like the iPad. I came really close to buying the iPad version 1 product when they were reduced in price to $399 when the iPad 2 came out but I really did not want to be stuck with a tablet that was over a year old when I bought one. I am glad I waited as the Eee Pad Transformer became available at the end of April and I purchased the Eee Pad along with the optional keyboard dock that “transforms” the tablet into a netbook like device.

Eee Pad Transformer

The Eee Pad runs the Android Honeycomb operating system and I get the best of both worlds. I get a touch screen device with about 9 hours of battery life and a keyboard dock that provides an additional 7 hours of battery life along with a physical keyboard to use when I want to get some real work done. Thats 16 hours of battery life when used in combination with the keyboard dock, talk about all day computing! It provides instant on and the keyboard is well designed with special shortcut keys that make using the Eee Pad with the docked keyboard a joy to use. There is a small switch that slides back and forth to lock and unlock the keyboard dock to the tablet.

I can use a touchscreen keyboard for small amounts of text input but I find myself wanting to use a physical keyboard for anything longer than a paragraph of typing. The docking station is very easy to use and I can move from a tablet to a netbook style device at will. I bought the Eee Pad 16GB version that retails for $399, a one-hundred dollars savings over the iPad. Two other features sealed the deal for me in making this purchase. First, and it includes a microSD card that provides flexible storage that I can use to load content onto a microSD card. This essentially allows for unlimited storage as I can load up a microSD card with content and when it gets full I can buy another microSD card for additional content if I so choose. Because the Eee Pad allows additional storage it also has a file manager that allows you to easily copy and paste files from your computer to the Eee Pad using the special USB cable that is provided. Secondly, the Eee Pad has a mini HDMI out connector that allows you to connect to a HDTV using an affordable mini HDMI to HDMI cable. This allows you to watch on the big screen any content that is displayed on the Eee Pad.

As I mentioned I also bought the optional keyboard dock that costs an additional $150. This is optional and not needed at all unless you want the added battery life or are like me and prefer to use a physical keyboard for anything other than casual typing. Since I wanted a netbook like device I elected to purchase the keyboard dock. I have had the Eee Pad for about a month now and it has handled everything I expected it to do. It supports Adobe Flash so you will enjoy a full Internet experience. Being a Google operating system it works well with gmail and Youtube and you have full access to the Android Marketplace if you would like additional apps. For those that are considering 1 to 1 tablet programs in schools the Eee Pad may be worth considering as a hybrid solution that offers the best of the touchscreen tablet world along with the practicality of the netbook world.

That wraps it up for episode 120 of TechTalk4Teachers. I want to thank Brian Poulterr for being our guest on todays show and wish him the best on his upcoming Oregon Trail trip. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. Keep on learning…