Spartanburg County Instructional Technology Academy

This week we held the kick-off sessions for the Spartanburg County Instructional Technology Academy (SCITA) at USC-Upstate. The three-day workshop was the start of a graduate course that is funded by an E2T2 grant that Spartanburg school districts 1, 2, 5, and 7 had applied for and received. In addition to the graduate course, participants would receive and be trained in emerging technology for their classrooms.

The first day began with an overview of the program and an introduction to the course by Dr. Jimmy Pryor, who will be the instructor. Danielle Stengle from CSI Outfitters then spoke to the group about using technology for special needs students. Continue reading “Spartanburg County Instructional Technology Academy”

Discovery Education MediaShare

The citizens of South Carolina really have some wonderful online resources available to them. For ten years now the State Library has made available a wealth of research and reference materials through the DISCUS project. This is available in all schools, libraries, and colleges, and available at home if you obtain a free password from one of those sources. Then there’s KnowItAll.org and all of the other amazing resources from SCETV. One of the best of these is the Discovery Education video clips available from StreamlineSC. Like DISCUS, this is available free to all schools in the state through a special licensing arrangement with Discovery. At the SCETV conference this week I learned about a new feature that Discovery is promoting called MediaShare. This new service looks really cool, and looks like it will be another great resource for teachers.

As the name suggests, MediaShare allows users to share files of various types – PowerPoint slide shows, Smart and Promethean files, podcasts, and video clips. The idea is that these types of files often take up more space on servers than some districts allow, so Discovery has created this place to host the files. MediaShare is monitored for appropriateness of content, and districts can also set approval levels for files uploaded by their users.

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Continue reading “Discovery Education MediaShare”

SCETV Summer Workshops

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This week SCETV is holding its summer technology workshops. Normally I’m so busy building new schools and putting in computers that I can’t take part in the summer workshops. This summer, however, I decided I would try to make it. I figured that during summer there would be better participation than there might during the school year.

Last spring I did three sessions each day, which meant that I had no down time nor opportunity to visit any other sessions. This time I cut one of my presentations, so I would only be doing two workshops each day – Basic Google Earth and Creating Interactive Lessons with Google Earth. I had also been asked to conduct a geocaching activity one of the afternoons. Continue reading “SCETV Summer Workshops”

Google Squared

Google has released two cool new products this week. First, there is a major update to the user interface for Street View.  The transitions between scenes are much smoother, and it reminds me of Microsoft’s Photosynth technology.  One gets the feeling of looking around corners, and actually being immersed in the environment.  For a good example, take a look at Times Square in New York.

As cool as this is, I’m even more excited about the public release of Google Squared, a new search product that creates tables for search results.   I had mourned the demise of Google Notebook, and haven’t really played around with Search Wiki, which is supposed to replace it. This new product is an excellent tool for research and comparison. Continue reading “Google Squared”

Kids and Social Media

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This past week I was asked to advise on guidelines for teacher-student interactions in social media settings such as Facebook.  Essentially, we’re recommending caution.  The new guidelines will be posted in faculty handbooks, and read as follows:

Faculty/Staff members should maintain professionalism in their relationship with students at all times. Activities/behaviors in which faculty/staff members should not participate with students include, but are limited to the following:

1) Posting student pictures on web-based social network sites (Facebook, MySpace etc)

2) Exchange cell phone numbers with students

3) Participate in inappropriate text messaging with students

4) Participate in inappropriate e-mail correspondence with students

The key word here is “inappropriate.”  Unfortunately, no definition is given as to what might be considered inappropriate.  There are the obvious reasons – the unfortunate ones that make headlines.  However, is ANY contact via e-mail or text messaging between teachers and students appropriate?  Our paranoid society would cast suspicion on any of these activities. Continue reading “Kids and Social Media”

Skype Pals

For the past several weeks Diane McAlister’s first grade class at Reidville Elementary School has been writing to a class in Washington State, where each student had a pen pal.  The culminating activity was a Skype teleconference with the other class.  I had the privilege of visiting the class this past week while the conference … Continue reading Skype Pals

A Declaration of Independence

Starting today, I’m doing something I should have done 10 years ago.  I refuse to take sales calls of any type unless they fit one of these three criteria…

  • We have an active request for proposals  for that specific product.
  • I have directly contacted your company with an inquiry about a specific product (and that doesn’t mean you happened to get my contact info from some conference or other indirect means.)
  • We have already established a client-vendor relationship for specific goods and/or services.

So unless your sales call happens to fit the above, don’t expect much of a response from me.   I will still accept e-mails so that I have your contact information on hand, but I will not have an extended phone conversation with you, I will need attend a webinar, and I will not schedule a meeting with you. Continue reading “A Declaration of Independence”