UTC12 Retrospective

This past week I participated in the Upstate Technology Conference, put on by the Greenville County School District.  UTC has been going on for many years now, but this is the first time I’ve participated.  This is time of year I’m either taking a vacation, or heading to the ISTE conference, or I’m swamped with computer upgrades.  This year I made a point of attending by submitting several proposals for presentations.

Actually, I submitted proposals for four topics – Google Earth, Aviary.com, Google Apps, and one on Making Music on Your iPad.  I figured they would select one or two.  They picked all four, and even had me doing the music session twice.  I was a bit surprised.  I would be presenting in five out of the eight available concurrent sessions – one on Tuesday and four on Wednesday.  I wasn’t going to have time to visit any of the other sessions.

The conference was held at Wade Hampton High School, just a hop and a skip from my house.  I arrived early Tuesday to check in and scout out my room.  I had the first session open, so I sat in on Cathy Jo Nelson’s presentation on using and manipulating images.  She had some great ideas, as usual. Continue reading “UTC12 Retrospective”

Facebook and Online Responsibility

The problems surrounding teachers using Facebook seem to be getting more and more complex. I’ve written before about how teacher’s private use of Facebook can impact their jobs, whether justly or unjustly. The issue that was brought up recently involves teachers’ use of Facebook on private mobile devices during school hours.

This is a tricky issue. We want teachers to be doing what they are paid to do – teach their classes and monitor their students. But how do you keep this in check?

We have Facebook blocked in our district because of some of the discipline issues is creates with students. It was suggested that we consider adding restrictions on Facebook usage on private mobile devices to our Acceptable Use Policy. I flatly disagreed with that. Our AUP regulates acceptable use of district-owned equipment and services, not private equipment. I don’t think should or legally could use a policy written for district equipment to be applied to private equipment. Continue reading “Facebook and Online Responsibility”

SCETV Workshops Spring 2010

The time-lapse video above gives some indication of the frenetic pace I’ve been hitting this week. Several months ago I agree to once again do my Google Earth workshops for the SCETV Technology Conference. Had I known how hectic these past two weeks were going to be even without the conference, I might have reconsidered. However, despite PASS testing, 135th day counts, and other pressing needs in Spartanburg Five, I headed on down for the Wednesday – Friday sessions.

As I had done last year, I’m presenting two different sessions. The first is a basic introduction to Google Earth. The teachers get some time just to become familiar with the program’s controls and navigation, and I give them some suggestions for using it in their classrooms. The second session is more in-depth. I cover ways that Google Earth can be used to create highly interactive lessons buy using embedded media. I tend to get lots of oohs and ahs with that session because there is some really cool stuff you can do.

Wednesday we had a luncheon and were joined by several representatives from Discovery Education. Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of Jaques Cousteau, was our keynote speaker. In the evening the Discovery Educators Network (DEN) STAR members had a dinner at the SCETV studios, and we were again joined by Phillipe Cousteau. He spoke about some of his current environmental education endeavors.

DEN Star Educators DinnerPhillipe Cousteau addresses the DEN groupDEN Star Educators at SCETV Continue reading “SCETV Workshops Spring 2010”

Teachers and Facebook

Yesterday there was an article in the Greenville News about development of a policy for teacher use of Facebook. The article stated that the board was holding off on approval of the policy because some members had raised “ethical, legal and technical questions.”    The new policy would put into place a procedure for dismissing teachers … Continue reading Teachers and Facebook

Exploring an Aviary

UPDATE: Sadly, Aviary has discontinued this wonderful series of products. The links below are no longer available.

Today I got word that Aviary.com has released a new online audio editing tool called Myna. This joins Aviary’s growing collection of online tools with bird names, including Phoenix, the image editing program, and Raven, a vector graphics program. Myna is a loop-based editor, and has many of the same functions as Garage Band or Acid Music.

I’ve only had a few minutes to play with the program, but so far I’m impressed. There is an extensive library of existing audio files. These are categorized not only by style by also by keyword. The samples are further broken down into files that would make good intros, files for loops, and ending files. You can also record samples directly into the program with your computer’s microphone, or upload your own files. Continue reading “Exploring an Aviary”

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”

Kids and Social Media


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”

EdTech Day 3 – Conflicting Interests

Yesterday I went to sessions on policies and procedures. Today I decided to go to sessions on classroom integration ideas for technology. The ones I had selected deal with Web 2.0 resources and open source software. It was an interesting contrast, especially comparing the competing interests of yesterday’s presenters with today’s.

I arrived at the first session a little late due to a slight delay in checking out of my hotel. Kim Collaza was schedule to do a presentation on Web 2.0 resources. However, Kim was sick, and since I was late I didn’t catch the name of the person taking her place. Most of what she was showing I knew, but I did enjoy finding out about the videos of Lee LeFever, who has created an excellent series of YouTube videos explaining Web 2.0 concepts in plain English, with some entertaining animations.

During the course of the session, the presenter discussed several ways to get around filtering systems and policies imposed by the district. It was at that point that I started to take issue with what she was saying. I understand teacher’s frustrations with seemingly arbitrary rules about Internet access. I’ve also learned that teachers don’t often see the big picture, nor understand why a district imposes certain restrictions. And, I know that districts can go overboard, blocking access to resources that they have no business blocking. Continue reading “EdTech Day 3 – Conflicting Interests”

Starting from “Scratch”

This is the first of two applications I’ve come across this week which I’ll be highlighting here. First is Scratch, a free downloadable programming application from MIT modeled on the old Logo programming language. Later I’ll be taking a look at DimDim, a free alternative to the popular GoToMeeting application. I first learned about Scratch … Continue reading Starting from “Scratch”

Four “B”‘s for Successful Blogging

Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of addressing the Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International on the topic of blogging for educators. I modified one of my previous presentations, bringing it up to date a bit. Usually I start out by asking the teachers what they think of when they hear the word … Continue reading Four “B”‘s for Successful Blogging

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