Sunday, October 18, 2009

Postcard from Edtech 2009

Beyond The Limits
South Carolina EdTech 2009

This was my sixth EdTech conference. This year’s conference used a favorite theme of mine: science fiction. I had the opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces and make some new connections as well. These are a summary of the sessions that I attended:

Engaging Staff & Students- Using Web 2.0 Tools for Global Collaboration
In this session, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach tried to answer this question: Why Do We Need a Learning Community? I had a chance to speak to her briefly since I was the first person in the room and she seemed very approachable. One of the items that Sheryl wanted to emphasize was professional development. Too often professional development is viewed as something that is done to teachers and this must change. Teachers need to be responsible for their own professional learning. During the presentation she explained that we need Personal Learning Networks and Personal Learning Communities. Sometimes we think of these as the same thing, but her view was that learning networks are much larger and more impersonal; in other words, what can I get out of it? However, out of these networks, learning communities develop were the members have a vested interest in each other and have a relationship whether they have meet face-to-face or not. Her presentation along with additional information may be viewed on the 21st Century Learning wiki at Engaging Staff & Students- Using Web 2.0 Tools for Global Collaboration

An Augmented Reality Check

This was my own session to show the work that we had done this past year in our pilot of augmented reality (AR). This session was not well attended, but it may still be too ‘bleeding edge’ for the average conference attendee. Susan Herndon and Chris Craft were there to offer support and learn a little bit more about this emerging technology. The augmented reality we piloted used an iPAQ Travel Companion with integrated GPS to track student movement. When the students reached a designated point, they were automatically provided with appropriate documents, images, sounds, or videos. I demonstrated Harry Potter’s Lab Safety (using a drawn map of Hogwarts) that I used to place various hazards that contained quiz questions to be answered. I also demonstrated Frieda Foxworth’s World War II-Pacific Theater simulation that used Discovery Streaming videos to teach the content. The small group seemed very interested and asked a number of good questions. Information from my session may be found at:

Keynote Address by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach Schooling for the 21st Century: Unleashing Student Passion
This session focused on a term that I had never heard before: passion based learning. I have always thought that if you can get students interested, that this is more than half the battle in the learning process. Sheryl gave many great examples of using students’ interests and passions to jump start the learning process. She also used another term that I had never heard before: deficit based instruction. After hearing her description, I realized that she was exactly right about how our schools work. In our schools we tend to try to work toward our students’ weaknesses rather than their strengths. Yet adults are asked to work from their strengths. The starting lineup for a sports team is never the weakest players so they will improve for next year. Instead the intrinsic motivation for the sport spurs the players on to improve. I have known for years of the potential for change that problem/project based learning has for the classroom. After all these years it finally clicked as to why it is so important to give students choices in the way that they prove that they have learned the material. I also learned about the TPCK model. (Technological, Pedagogical, Content, Knowledge) Her presentation along with additional information may be viewed on the 21st Century Learning wiki at Schooling for the 21st Century: Unleashing Student Passion

Cool Free Tech Tools For Teacher Use
This was my own session to show some applications designed for classroom use. I had about 100 participants in this session so I could not really ask for more. Because I used Mediator to create several of the PC review tools, many thanks to Dave Hamilton of Matchware for giving a door prize for my session. Other than three commercial applications linked from the site, the other programs I created using Visual Basic. The session seemed to go well with many questions from the participants. Probably the most excitement from the audience came with the description of my newest application, Smart Power Toolkit. This application is designed to facilitate the exchange of data between PowerTeacher Gradebook and the SMART Response System. A description and download instructions for each program may be found at:

Cool Student Projects
This session by Robin Mitchell (I did not get the other presenter’s name) started out looking like a simple session on digital storytelling, but it ended up being very good. Early in the presentation they presented the Visual Bloom’s model using Web 2.0 tools to reinforcement the different levels. They gave a number of good creative examples of possible classroom projects including the following:
• Biome Movie Assignment: Internet (Streamline, photos), MovieMaker, and microphone. Students seem to remember more when they must write a script than simply copying and pasting into PowerPoint.
• Graphing Assignment: survey instrument ( and Excel. When student create their own graphs this seems to result in greater understanding than simply looking graphs in the book.
• Mathematician Trading Card Assignment. Research Biography Resource Center – Facts. Using Publisher, create a Trading Card using the Postcard template. Include a picture on the front and information on the back
• 21st Century Poster: in PowerPoint (HP poster printer 24” x 36”) or
• Clay Animation (use digital cameras or document camera time lapse feature) eg mitosis
• Children’s Books – PowerPoint or postcard template in Publisher for flipbook.
• Book Advertisement (with narration)- PowerPoint (collaboration for MS/HS and ES)
• Book Advertisement (music only; includes PowerPoint slides as jpegs)
• PowerPoint: Scrapbook, e-Portfolio, digital photo frames (to display work), comic strip/graphic novel (or
• Website with FrontPage – character page or informational site (eg disease)

Smartphones Are Taking Us Beyond the Limits! Are You Ready?!
Tom Smyth of USC Aiken gave this first session on Smartphones. During his presentation he looked at these three major areas:
1. “Speak Up” 2008 findings
2. Examples in Education
3. Tools for Instruction
He gave a number of good examples of how and why cell phones should be used in the classroom. He also provided a handout of websites resources. I have retyped them so they may be viewed here.

Keynote Address by David Merrill
In this presentation, David Merrill made the case for having physical inputs to the computer besides the mouse. The computer mouse is now over 40 years old and has changed relatively little compared to other technologies. He gave a historical view of input devices including LOGO and the Theremin. The ability to manipulate objects rather than simply visualize the data is an important part of learning as described by Distributed Cognition Theory. Siftables are compact computers with sensing, graphical display, and wireless communication. By manipulating the blocks, the user(s) may be able to complete math problems, complete simple sentences, sequence music, do photo editing, and with a visual display, even tell stories. Below is a video of his earlier TED presentation.

Many new devices use physical manipulation to enter data including accelerometers, Wii controllers, and GPS to Google Earth.
I had the opportunity to speak to David briefly after his presentation. One of the things he mentioned during his presentation was augmented reality. I was interested as to how a Siftable knew its location compared to other Siftables because I am interested in moving augmented reality indoors. He explained that they interacted via infrared transmitters/receivers. After a short discussion, we both felt that the best way to do indoor AR in the short run is the use of QR codes. More information about Siftables may be found at

Leveraging Smart Phones as an Education Tool
This presentation by Linda Uhrenholt of AT&T was my second Smart phone session of the day. She also gave ideas and a number of good resources listed below:
• Dial-in to get guided tour of parks or schools.
• Rocklin HS, Rocklin CA – AP Video Lectures (
• Liz Kolb, Author of “Connecting Student Cell Phones in Education”
• Greeneville Tennessee Cell Phones in the High School /Uploads/Forms/Cell_phones_as_Learning_Tools_at_GHS.pdf
• EveryTrail Smart Phone App (eg. Ziggy’s Walk to Coffee (it includes map of final route from Google Map) Maybe for digital stories.
• Image Smart Phones for More School Security -iRa Pro mobile surveillance application
• Create a virtual insect collection on a site like Flicker
• Visit Body Farm via YouTube
• Bug Parade for the iPhone
• Record an Insect Podcast Using the iPhone and VoiceThread (it calls you to record a message)
• Turning Technologies: web-enabled survey and quiz tool (fee based) (iPhone and Touch)
• iPhone Focus for Science
 Stopwatch
 Calculator
 Flash cards
• Authentic Learning -
• QR Codes
• Geocaching for anatomy: Bury bones and have students dig them up
• BlackBoard iPhone App

Mind Mapping: Building a Better Foundation for the Thinking Skills Process
This presentation by Dave Hamilton of Matchware looked at the features of MindView 3 (the replacement of OpenMind 2) He demonstrated the general features of the software that I was already familiar with in OpenMind. There were several new features in the Business Edition. This new version allows the creation of Gantt charts for project plans according to the rules of project management along with mind maps and timelines. The software also allows the branches to do calculations using an Excel type of operation allowing computations from multiple branches. There are several new export options including MS Project, Excel, and Outlook tasks. The software appears to just get better and better.

Calling on the Community: A Capital Idea
This presentation was done by Madell Dobrushin of the neighboring district of Richland One. Richland One has been using video conferencing in its high schools since about 2003. Now all middle schools have video conference equipment. Six elementary schools have video conference equipment. Seven schools will be added this school year. This is for classroom to classroom. They have two “portable” units, but this must be set up by someone that knows what they are doing.
First Decisions
Infrastructure (border controller and Gatekeepers) They use Tandberg Management
System, but Cisco has this as well
Speak to Principals (to get their goals)

How to Add Equipment
• E-rate
• Grants (NASA and Tandberg
• Work closely with vendors

How Do They Use It?
They offer a paid vendor video conference for each school yearly
They encourage taking free video conferences (NASA or Eli Lily)
They promote free video conference happenings
• KC3 (Kids Creating Community Content)
• Pittsburgh MegaConference
• Read Around The Planet

Finding Video Conferences and Collaborations
Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC free, but $50 gives you discounts a 50 class Eluminate (

Engaging Our Community
South Carolina State Museum
They offered the use of our equipment and technical expertise

Suggestions to make connections with other schools
Linked In

A Teacher's Guide to ToonDoo
Michael Carothers and Andrea Wright presented during the last session of the conference. Normally this is not a good time slot, but you certainly could not tell from the enthusiastic crowd that showed up. Here is a summary of their presentation:
Cartoons in the Classroom
Teachers – grab student attention, increase student emotional internet, communicate complex processes, “rephrase” or summarize information, no copyright issue!
Students – Synthesize information into visual form, organized information to fit a limited form (3 panel is largest), create a unique interpretation (constructivism), appreciate the difficulty of communicating ideas, student can comment of each others work

What is ToonDoo?
Online service, click and drag creation, personalize, share (free for private use)
Private domains are fee based with student logins and passwords. Prices vary depending on the number of students and time.
(eg 9 months, 1000 students, @ $0.13/month, would be a little over $1000)

The software gives a large number of items to import into your cartoon and appears to be very flexible. Cartoons may be printed, downloaded as .png, keep it private or make it public, or copy/paste embed code. this has a lesson plan that shows students how to create a simple sample cartoon and possible rubric.