Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adobe's Project Rome

On Sunday Adobe released Project Rome. I was able to get a sneak peak and let me tell you, this is a pretty cool program. Think of it as an interactive portfolio and project manager. Students (or teachers) can use the amazing features of Rome to create highly engaging presentations. And with the integration of Google Apps, Moodle, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and more, this program has the potential to really change the way we think about projects and presentations.

They put together a really great video about it.

The other thing that is great is that while the product is aimed as several markets (home, business, etc) from there is a heavy focus on using this product in education.They even created a video for that.

What I like are the possibilities. No more boring Power Points or even Prezis. (Yep, I said boring Prezis.) The ability for students to add interactivity and animation simply to their projects and presentations is awesome. The example I saw was was a project on the solar system. Instead of one slide with one planet on it with all the information, Project Rome allows the student to create a journey across the solar system. They can animate the rotation of the planets around the sun. Do fly overs of each of the planets. And so much more.

The program runs on the Adobe Air platform so it will run on a PC, Mac or Linux with ease and it is a light install, about 20 mb.  It can be accessed from the web as well. Students can save their work in the cloud and can work collaboratively on projects. Finished works can be viewed on the web or embedded on webpages as flash files.

Right now it is free but that will change in the future. No word on pricing, however. (Let's hope it will be reasonable for schools and districts.)

I encourage you to head over to the Project Rome website to learn more and check out all the features. If you do come back here and tell us what you think.

New Posted Resources 10/27/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life-Long Learning

Today I got to thinking....

We encourage our kids to be life-long learners. And when they ask why we tell them all kinds of things like it is important to stay relevant in our careers and it is important for humanity to have people who enjoy learning, etc. (You probably have something much more creative and fun than mine.)

But that lead me to educators and life-long learners...

We want to have teachers that are life-long learners. The why is obvious, at least to me, why I want educators in general to be life-long learners. But why is that the case for you? Why are you a life-long learner?

I would like to collect the reasons you are a life-long learner. Not the reasons you think educators should be but why YOU are. Why do you continue learning? What benefits does it give you? If you aren't, or don't feel you are life-long learner, I would like to know that to and why. Fill out my form below and head back here in an few days and I will post the results. (If you want, you can leave your comments in the...well...comments below.)

Image From Flickr CC Search

Why You Need A PLN-An Excerpt From The Simple K12 UnConference

Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of kicking off the Simple K12 UnConference. The "UnCon" aims to provide high-quality professional development to educators that is available anytime. Conferences are usually limited in time and can be expensive. The UnCon provides both live and recorded sessions from now until May 2010. But if you join you have access to the materials for a year. A pretty sweet deal for quality professional development.

Over at their blog they posted an excerpt from my talk on Personal Learning Networks and why you need one. This is a 10 minute clip of an hour long talk on PLN's. I hope there is good information from this clip and I hope you will check out the UnCon for the full version. There are tons of other great sessions on a wide variety of topics including podcasting, digital storytelling, Twitter and more.

Sneak Peek: Personal Learning Networks from SimpleK12 on Vimeo.

Thanks to Kimberly for all your hard work on the UnCon and to both Kimberly and Lisa for what you guys are doing!

New Posted Resources 10/26/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Level Playing Field...



When I hear educators talk about access and equity my mind immediately thinks of Internet access. Surprisingly there are still places in this country where schools are not connected to a high speed broadband connection (and are relying on dial-up still) or where they have no access at all. ( I even wrote about that this year.)

I was thinking about access and equity just the other day. I am no longer in a school (I work at the district level.) However, I am in schools a lot so I get to see lots of different situations. I also have had the chance to visit lots of schools around the country this year and hear stories of schools so I have some comparisons.

I think our district does a great job making sure there is equal access. Now, not every school is the same. And I challenge everyone to show me a district as large as mine (90 schools, 52,000 students) where every classroom has the same access, or even the schools have the same technologies. Many of our schools are Title I, meaning they have high populations of free or reduced lunch students so they get federal dollars. Many of these schools (including the one from where I came) use this extra money for technology. So there are schools where there are more state of the art and up to date technologies in the building and the building down the road might, might have a computer lab. But, for the most part things are on the right track here.

Recently I was in a school preparing to talk to some English Department chairs about technology integration and use of technology by their teachers. We were in a computer lab that seemed like it was used, a lot, which I like to see. However, many of the machines has signs on them that said "Out of Order" or "Broken" with a sad face. We were a small group, about 14 of us, but in a lab of 20 machines maybe 10 were working.

One of the English teachers and I got to talking and she mentioned that she faced the same situation in her building. There were plenty of computer labs and mobile carts. However, much of the time very few of the machines were actually working, or if they were, the machines are so old, many of the web-based programs they want to use, they cannot.

Both these schools have more than one technology person on staff. One school has 2, the other 3. But then I started to wonder. Many times we invest so much in "things." 1:1 programs are great. I am all for putting technology directly in the hands of students. But would investing in mobile carts and a staff member be a better option. (Now, please, understand, I am not in anyway saying I dislike 1:1. I love it.) That is a situational decision.

My point is people. Are schools and districts taking a hard look at people instead of "things?" People are expensive, yes, but, their RTI (Return On Investment) is great than the technology, right?

This English teacher also said something interesting to me. She mentioned she has lots of new teachers working with her, fresh out of college. They came from programs where the use of technology was second nature to them. They had access to everything they wanted in their program. But now that they are out in the "real world" there isn't enough clickers to go around or slates, or document cameras. So they are struggling.

At first, what a wonderful problem to have. Teachers who have integrated technology so much that it is second nature to them. But is it a bad problem to have as well. Access and equity, as I have mentioned are issues. Is their dependence and reliance on technology so much it is an actual hindrance to their teaching?

I have been struggling with these two issues (access to people and over reliance on technology) for a couple days now. What do you think? Do districts and schools place too much importance on "things" rather than people? What about over reliance on technology? Is that even possible? Or maybe the issues are both too big for one post...

Leave me some comments below.

Image From Flickr CC Images

New Posted Resources 10/22/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Twisted Sister Can Teach Us About Education Reform

So maybe we need to be like the kid in this video and stand up to those that think they know what "Education Reform" is.

Less talk.

More action.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Twitter: The Livebinders Edition

I get asked a lot about Twitter. From how educators are using it to more basics like what does RT mean or what are those funny little things called hashtags?

Over the past few days I have been going through my over 1000 sites I have saved in Diigo to find the best stuff on Twitter. I have compiled it all into a Livebinder. (If you don't know what a Livebinder is, check this out.)

In this binder you will find information on:
Getting Started
The Art Of The ReTweet
Twitter In Education
More Resources

There is something for everyone, for those just getting started to those who are experienced users.

An Educators Guide To Twitter
(The URL in case you need it:

Did miss something? What would add? Leave me some comments below. 

New Posted Resources 10/14/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The eInstruction Classroom Makeover Contest

Back again this year is the very popular eInstruction Classroom Makeover Contest where you can win over $75,000 worth of technology for your class and school. Entering is simple. Create a video with your students on how you are using technology to enhance learning.

Some more information on entering from their website:

Please be sure to follow the contest rules when planning, creating and submitting your video entry. Your video must:
  • Be in the format of a music video that is either a song parody of an original song that demonstrates or envisions the use of technology in the classroom such as:
    • Your vision of a classroom that is creatively and effectively using technology to enhance learning
    • How your class uses technology every day to make the learning experience great
    • How your class used technology to make a class project better
    • How a class project could have been better with technology
    • How you plan to use technology in a class project
  • Feature the teacher submitting and at least 1 student. All students that are in the video must be in the grade or age category for which the video is being submitted.
  • Include 'eInstruction' at least once in the lyrics of the song and show the eInstruction® logo.
  • Show one or more of these products in use OR an image of the products below:
  • End by directing viewers to the contest website ( to vote for the best video.
  • Not exceed 2:30 minutes in length. Due to differences in rendering times for different video formats, entries that are one or two seconds longer than 2:30 may still be accepted.

You can see the videos of the past winners on the contest website.

If you post a video head back here and leave a link to it in the comments so we can check it out and vote!

So head over to and complete your entry. You have until Nov. 2 so get those videos in today!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Images We Can All Use

Yesterday on Twitter my good friend, Mary Beth, posted a video for her kids on how to find Creative Commons photos on Flickr. It is a great and simple tutorial that really anyone can use with teachers or kids.

Short and simple.

In addition to this video you could also check out the Creative Commons Search to find photos, music and video. Also check out Compfight, which is a tool that searches the CC photos in Flickr.

This post on Understanding Creative Commons can be helpful also.

Thanks Mary Beth for the great video!

New Posted Resources 10/06/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ancient Rome Was How Big?

Today I came across a very cool site from the BBC. It is called Dimensions and it takes important events in history and current events and shows how big they are over a give area on a Google Map.

For example here is an image showing how big an area the flood in Pakistan is on the East Coast of the U.S.

Kinda puts things in perspective...

Or here is an image of what the footprint of the moon would look like centered over North America.

There are lots of other types of layers. Everything from environmental disasters like the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill to just how big an area the Three Gorges Damn is in China to the size of ancient cities. There are also layers for depths and distances.

I didn't find too many limitations with locations. I used both zip codes and the names of towns.You might have trouble with specific locations like the name of a school so stick with zip/postal codes or the name of your town.

What a cool way to show students just how big an area an event or place in history is or was. So head over to the BBC Dimensions and check it out!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is There Room For More Than One Opinion Here?

Over the past few days all the talk in the edubloggersphere and on Twitter has been about the Education Nation project from NBC, the Waiting For Superman movie and on education reform in general. The topic on #Edchat this week centered around moving education reform conversations forward and many, many blog posts and conversations have centered around the topic.

It seems to me that these conversations come in waves. Yeah, many of us on Twitter and through our blogs try to talk about what isn't working or how to make things better and offer up several examples of what is working. But it seems there is this cycle of lots and lots of talk and then what seems like quiet whispering. The conversations and talk is there just not as loud...

I had a conversation this week with a good friend. We were talking about all that was happening this week and then she asked an interesting question. What if there were people (educators) that thought that some of things Rhee, Gates and Duncan were saying were actually right or might be good for Education.

We specificially talked about Rhee. She fired several hundred teachers in Washington D.C. There was a big flap about it several weeks ago. What if firing is the right thing do? What if those really were bad teachers who needed to who leave the classroom. Why would that be so bad? Perhaps the methods used were unorthodox but what if when it comes to the education of those kids, it was the right thing to do?

Or what if there are good models of charter schools out there? Why would that be bad for kids? There are plenty of examples of charters that are bad, yes. But just like we talk about examples of good schools, maybe there are examples of charters that are really making a difference in the lives of kids?

To be honest I don't know the whole history of the education reform movement. I want to know more. (If you have suggestions for books besides Ravtich, I will be glad to take them in the comments.) But I do know that in this day an age, it is tough to have an opposite opinion from the mainstream.

I think maybe there are some of us to have a tendency to leap before we look. Questioning is a good thing and we should (and have the right to) question those that are trying to tell us all of educations ills. But sometimes we hear about something (like Education Nation) and before it begins we criticize and dismiss it as bad reform. Now, what if we watched, read and listened, then took time to digest. It might not change our opinions but we might actually get this reform training moving because we will have all the information, all the facts and can have open an honest dialogue about it.

Now let me be clear. I do not think most of what NBC or Gates or anyone one of the corporate "educators" is saying is right. I do believe, however, is all sides and conversation need and deserve to be heard. And I just wonder if the "echo chamber" only has room for one type of view?

I have seen it before. People who do not agree with one particular view or opinion are sometimes publicly berated because their views are different. I just wonder if there are room for differences, even opposing views on what we all think might be best with education? I hope there are...

What do you think? Can you go on Twitter or your Blog and feel comfortable going against the mainstream? What if you agreed with Gates or Rhee or the Waiting For Superman Movie. Do you feel comfortable letting your opinion be known?

Image From Flickr CC Images