Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SMARTBoards: Where do I start?

Now that you are staring at a nice, clean, brand new SMARTBoard hanging on the wall in your classroom or rolling around on a stand what do you do with it. Here are a few things that you can do to get started amidst all the confusion and overwhelming thoughts of creating Notebook files.

First of all watch this video, it will help ease the pain a little bit.

Now that you have watched the video take a deep breath and start slow, the biggest thing that you can do to get started working with your SMARTBoard is to actually walk up to it and touch it. Now once you walk up to it and start using it now what do you do with it.

Well you are not alone in this, the Smart Tech website offers you a lot of resources in the way of videos, pdf and hands on practice documents to help get you started. You can view or read lots of information on the new version 10 software, activity toolkit, student response system and many other products available from Smart Tech.

There are many other Online Resources which you can access from the Gallery Tab in the software.
You have the SMART Exchange - you can search for content (Notebook files) that are aligned with state curriculum standards, by subject area, share your own resources and connect with other teachers looking for similar information. You can quickly preview and/or download the notebook files and have them up and running in your classroom in minutes.
There is also the Educator Resources - where you can search for lesson activities, resources, get ideas for classroom activities, look for curriculum based content, view current new articles and research, check out the community section to talk with others using SMART products around the world. And you can apply for grants to get additional products for your classroom.
Lastly you have the Teacher Resources - where you can talk with other teachers around the world who have been using SMART products for a while and those who are brand new and need assistance. Connect with teachers that are working on similar projects and curriculum that you are and work collaboratively to develop new notebook files.

Even though there are a number of online resources that you can use to get information, watch "How to" videos, and talk to other educators around the world there is a wealth of opportunities to get you going right in the software. If you go to the Gallery Tab and then to the Activity Toolkit there are many interactive pages that are Flash enabled which provide you instructions on how to use them and can have your students working collaboratively and interactively within minutes of choosing one of these resources.

A couple of things I can leave you with would be to take little bites, the more you use a SMARTBoard the more comfortable you will become. If you have questions or need help ask, no one will fault you for searching out an answer to a question. Lastly use the resources you have at your finger tips to get you started, whether you are a beginner or have been working with it for years.

video provided by: SMARTClassroom

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Charge Your Small Electronics Without The Cords

Charge your Cell phone, PDA, iPhone without the cord!?! What? Are you serious?

Well the technology is here and now you can buy it yourself. Watch the video and get the low down.

The POWERMAT offers two charging pads, a home unit or a mobile unit at a cost of just under $100 each. Have not seen a dual pack yet, but that does not mean it is not out there. The mobile, or travel, unit folds down to store in its own case.

Specs: In box items

Each station will charge up to 3 devices at a time.
A USB connector to charge a 4th device
A Universal Powercube w/ 8 interchangeable adapters
The big thing I can see is that it deals with is the mess of cables and having to find enough power outlets to charge all of the stuff we carry around with us daily. A great concept in the way that it charges my stuff.
Here is how it works: The system uses magnetic induction to deliver a charge to the devices on the mat with Receivers (that are sold separately).
And now there is always some bad with the good and it is that you have to buy those receivers separately for your devices. An additional cost of between $29-39 to have the receivers for your phone, pda, or game system.

All in all it looks like a great product with a lot of potential and will probably be under the Christmas tree this year for me and my family, and maybe between now and then they will come out with a package deal to get a receiver or two with the mat at a reduced cost. Either way it is under the tree at my house.

Image and video provided by POWERMAT

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let's Talk Money

I know that this is a sore subject for everyone right now. We do not know whether or not money is coming into the schools or going out of the schools. So what do we do to keep up with the Jones' so to speak?

Let's take a look at some available options out there that can assist us in easing the pain. Yes I am talking about Grants if you have not already figured it out. There are many grants out there that can help you as teachers to get what you think is necessary to aid in student achievement.

So what is available, now for a while now I have been sharing a few Grants through our WSFCS wiki page, but I think I will also give you some more information here as well as those grants.

Upcoming and Current offerings:

The NEA Foundation is offering $5000 per award to improve student achievement. Available for all grades and universities to show students involved in critical thinking and problem solving skills. Find out more here. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2009.

Send your Teachers, yes teacher, to attend a Free math and science education camp. The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy is taking nominations for teachers in grades 3-5 to attend a summer camp where they will learn ideas and experiments to take back to their classrooms. Find out more information here. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2009.

AverMedia is giving away, once a month, their AverVision CP300 gooseneck 3.2MP document camera. This contest coincides with their Teacher Forum where teachers share best practices for teaching with visual technologies. Find out more about the contests here. This is an ongoing application so no deadline.

Check out my upcoming posts on how to successfully search and write for grants.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Google Earth Real-time Animations

Remember what you said when you first saw Google Earth and Google Maps, you might have thought they were great to have as a utility. Especially due to the fact that they were updated more often then other options available at the time. Then Google Earth added a 3-D layer to the program that gave you additional features as well as the ability to create points of interest, etc. Then a little over a year ago Google Maps added its Street View option and many people thought that was a great feature while others immediately thought it was creepy.

There is more out there now and it is coming from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Students and faculty there have been able to design and adapt CCTV feeds into animated 3-D representations within the software. Now you will be able to see how heavy traffic is on the highway before you leave the office. Or you could see how many people walk through Central Park on any given day. You could even watch a football game or keep an eye on your child while they are playing in the park down the street.

Oh yes, the "creep factor" red light is going off with loud booming sirens on this one. But hey we live in a voyeuristic world where we have made TV history for highest ratings for shows like "Big Brother" and "Survivor." But I digress...

The official release will not be unveiled at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality(ISMAR) in Orlando, Fla. which is held Oct 19-22. Take a look at the video below to get a quick sample of what their new technology.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Did U Know: Einstruction Mobi displays CPS data

Einstruction offers a new feature if you are using both their Classroom Performance System (CPS) and Mobi Interactive Tablet.

Einstruction offers a 2 inch KWIK view screen on their Mobi that allows you to seamlessly integrate your CPS data. As students answer questions on the response clickers the data is transmitted and displayed on the Mobi KWIK screen.

You want to make sure that the KWIK Tab settings are correct inside the CPS software. In the CPS software click on Settings on the tool bar and then Delivery Options. Click on the KWIK Tab and make sure that all of the selection boxes are checked.

After you have all the settings correct you engage a question session normally then on the Mobi tablet select the Clicker Softkey (third from the Left) and you will now see the data in the KWIK screen.

Images provided by Einstruction

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did U Know: Document Cameras

So far we have discussed some differences between Document Cameras (doc cams) and overhead, that they can take pictures like a digital camera and that they can record video like a camcorder. So what else is there to do with a document camera you may ask?

Both the AverVision and Queue software offer a(n) annotation feature that allows you to draw over your projected information, be it print, image or object. So lets take a look at what each software has to offer.

The Queue software from Lumens offers access to its Annotation tools from the link in the toolbar on the right side of the window.

You have 11 options available to you: The Pointer tool, Laser Pointer Tool, Pencil Tool, Text Tool, Draw Line, Draw Ellipse, Draw Rectangle, Eraser Tool, Clear All, Color Choice blocks and Line/Text size adjustment. You want to make sure however that you go back and select the Pointer Tool before you close the Annotation Tools because it keeps the last selected option in memory. So if you have selected the Pencil Tool and you close the Tool box you will still be drawing with the pencil when you click on the screen.

The AverVision software from AverMedia offers direct access to the Annotation tools from the main toolbar. The entire bottom half of the toolbar are your annotation tools.

There are seven options on the toolbar and some that will offer an additional pop-out menu of other available options. Freehand Drawing, Insert Line, Insert Rectangle, Insert Ellipse, Insert Text, Select & Paste and Eraser. If you choose the option of freehand drawing you will have an additional menu of choices like, thickness, color and style.

Both software applications offer you many different ways to identify, create, write, spotlight and make your projected images stand out so that they are out of the ordinary and unique.

Images provided by: AverMedia & Lumens

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Facebook instead of 911?

Now I am all up for new and innovative ways to communicate but ####!!!

I read this article from techradar.com from this past weekend where two children were trapped in a storm drain in South Australia and rather than call "000", their version of 911 they updated their Facebook status to tell people what was going on.

The children, ages 10 and 12, were probably out being kids when they got in trouble. I am also probably sure that somewhere along the way their parents, relatives, school teachers, etc.. told them that if they were in trouble to call "000" to talk emergency services, not update their status on Facebook. IF this does not raise an eyebrow with you, parents and everyone else out there someone is living under a rock.

Now I believe in technology and work with it everyday to try to help people to better integrate it into their lives but this may have gone to far. It took more time to update Facebook than it would have for the children to call emergency services. We live in an ever changing society that offers our children technological advances that we as adults over the age of 30 never had growing up. But we still have to instill in our children, and I bet their parents did that afternoon, there are certain things you do when you are in an emergency situation... and it is not to update your Facebook status.

Some of you may be angry at the statements but as the MFS (Metropolitan Fire Service )spokesperson said "If they were able to access Facebook from their mobile phones, they could have called 000, so the point being they could have called us directly and we could have got there quicker than relying on someone being online and replying to them and eventually having to call us via 000 anyway."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Did U Know: Document Cameras

Last time, on Did U Know, we discussed how the document camera (doc cam) was able to take still pictures while in either the camera or computer mode.

Let's go one step further and talk about how we can record video with the doc cam, yes...I said record videos. You may not have known that your doc cam could even do this, well it can. Now there are some restrictions to doing this depending on the model doc cam you have so I will explain how each one works.

Lumens doc cam series

We have a number of different ones in the system: DC 152, 155 and 166 (Red Models)

All these models allow you to activate the video recording feature from the software computer mode. You simply select the Record button from the tool bar and then while in a small floating tool bar appears in the center of the viewing area that you click and a display box opens where you name the file and select the location to save it to. Once you do this you are now recording all actions through the doc cam. After you have recorded your video click the Cancel Record button in the toolbar.

Now in the DC 166 model doc cam you also have an availability to record directly to the doc cam with the remote control record button. There is one catch, you have to use an SD memory card (similar to what you would have in a digital camera) to record from the digital camera.

AverMedia doc cam series

We have a number of AverMedia doc cams as well that have the same feature to record video through the software, in this case AverVision 3, and here are the steps to follow. While in the software select the movie camera icon from the tool bar, when you do this you will have a dialogue box appear where you will name the file and select the location to save. In the viewing area of the window you will see a flashing REC and time stamp to let you know that the recording is happening. When you are done click the movie camera icon again and it will ask if you want to stop the recording and you will choose the option.

So take a look at your doc cam as more than just a projection device, look at it as another medium for media and content delivery to your students.

images provided by: AverMedia & Lumens

Monday, August 10, 2009

Did U Know: Document Cameras

Session One: Document Camera use in the Classroom

Taking a picture with your document camera

Not only is your document camera great for displaying items that are placed underneath the lens you can also take a photo image of what ever you are working with.

What we have in our district are Lumens and Avermedia Document Cameras. Here are the steps involved to capture images with each of the devices.

Avermedia Document Camera:

1. Through the Document Camera you can click the Capture button on either the base of the unit or on the remote control.

2. Through the computer software by clicking on the camera button on the toolbar.

Lumens Document Camera:
1. Through the Document Camera you can click the Capture button on either the base of the unit or the remote control.

2. Through the computer software by clicking on the camera button on the toolbar.

Once you have captured the image you can view it by selecting the Play button on either remotes or when in the software on the computer just open up the image using the system default viewer. In each model of document camera there is an internal hard drive that allows you to store and average of 80+ images, while using the software you can capture as many images that can be stored onto your computers hard drive.

Tune in for Session 2 on recording video.

images provided by: MyLumens.com, Avermedia.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What does it take?

I recently undertook setting up our first SmartBoard users group for our faculty in the district that use SMART Technology. The event was set up to be a day and a half where the participants would be able to learn, create and share with other faculty from around the district. The goal was not only to learn but was to begin establishing relationships with other faculty around the county that they could collaborate with.

So the question I asked myself was... what does it take to do this? At first I really did not know how to start but I knew that I needed a plan which included a location, agenda and equipment. I was fortunate enough to be able to have a host location that was not only able to provide the space but the equipment as well. Developing the agenda was the next step which took on a life of its own. I know that I went through about 4 different revisions of the agenda before settling on a completely different 5th edition. That one even became the victim of a mid morning redo. I then had to figure out all the incidentals and accidentals that could happen and make arrangements for them as well as to have a back up plan for the back up plan. But the biggest thing was the people that were there to help me out. Not just my co-workers but the participants that went above and beyond to help out others when questions were asked. As I walked around I saw teachers talking and collaborating. There were small groups working together to create Notebook files. In other areas I saw less confident users being helped by their peers who have been using the products longer.

Well now that it is over I can ask myself the same question in a slightly different way. What did it take? I can answer that a lot easier now, the participants. Without them the SBUG would not have been as successful as it was. The post surveys have been very positive and informative for me to be able to use to develop the next SBUG meeting.

Thank you to all the members involved who helped to make this event happen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting Ready for College

Are you getting ready for college, or are you still deciding? Trying to figure out where to go and what it will be like can be a daunting task.

Would it be a better thing if you could get a sample of what life is like prior to actually showing up on move in day? I know some of you are saying "..but I went to orientation." What about those who were not able to go to orientation or have just now decided on which school to attend.

Do not worry you can now go to YouTube EDU to check out what campus life is like. The site contains a lot of free video clips from colleges and university's that have been pulled from their regular YouTube channel. You can easily search for your college by using the Directory or you can check out the Most Viewed or Most Subscribed tabs. They have more than just interviews with students there are also information about classes as well as recently added materials like commencement speeches and clips from Oprah Winfrey.
image provided by YouTube.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HiFi, SciFi, WiFi now MiFi

In looking around on the web lately and trying to find something that will allow me more free range use of the Internet on the go without being strapped in somewhere or limited to certain areas I came across a small yet unassuming product that could reshape WiFi use across the world.

The company... Novatel Wireless... the product MiFi 2200

What is it, well if you have not heard or have been under a rock for the past few months. This is the first "intelligent mobile hotspot" in the world. Yes mobile, that is what I said. This small yet unassuming item about the size of a credit card and as thick as a couple sticks of gum will allow you to connect to the Internet from anywhere. Anywhere you have a signal that is... have to put in that disclaimer, so if you are out in the middle of he ocean or at the top of a mountain you still may not have a signal.

Here are some of the specs:
It is enabled for CDMA, 802,11 b/g and GPS.
Runs on Windows (XP and Vista), Mac (10.3.9 +) and Linux
Can run up to 5 wireless devices at one time.
Rechargeable Lithium battery
Has a range of about 30 feet
Check out the data sheet for more information.

It looks as if this is starting to hit the Cell phone stores and has been featured in Gizmodo as a product for Verizon, PCMag, Slashgear as a product for Sprint and many other reviews which have been written about the functionality of this product.

The price point for the MiFi will differentiate between the carriers but with a base price for the product between $99-$149 based on comparisons with a little give and take thrown in for good measure.

Check it out see what you think,
me I am talking with my cell phone provider right now to figure out if it is worth adding it to my plan.

image provided by Novatel Wireless
video provided by CNBC/YouTube

Monday, June 15, 2009

Web Camera with Lights?

The next latest and greatest from the minds of manufacturers seems to be the Self Illuminating Web Camera. Yes I said self illuminating.

Gone are the days of worrying about back lighting or having to pay for a more expensive webcam that will auto adjust for light.

New out is a USB webcam that has six built in LED lights, which will allow use of the webcam in low-light situations. Not only that there is dimmer switch that allows you to adjust the light intensity and the push of a button.

Now for some specs. The camera is 2MP and will auto focus. There is no base, the camera is attached to a pliable arm that can bend in any direction. Of course it's connection is USB 2.0. The camera will capture video at 640x480 up to 1600x1200, now the key there is the fps the higher the resolution the lower the fps rate. It has a built in microphone as well so you do not have to purchase anything extra. The device runs for not only Windows XP/Vista users, it will also run on Mac OS 10.4+. Oh and the final tidbit of info, the price. The webcam has a price point of around 89.95

Now for some other possibilities, after reading a post on Twitter by Kathy Schrock I got to thinking and what she had to say was pretty ingenious. Now let me first premise this as my own personal thoughts and are not meant to disrupt the natural order of things for purchasing options for any company or ed facility. Kathy made a good point that this could be used as a low cost alternative for a document camera. Right now most document cameras run in the $400-$500 range with some higher and some lower.

With the light on the webcam, the ability to manipulate the arm in any direction, and the auto-focusing capability it could really lend itself to people who want that functionality of a document camera but cannot afford the outlay cost.

image from coolest-gadgets.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

Apple's latest iPhone 3G-s

Well the highly anticipated launch date, or rather sell date, is almost upon us and the buzz has not stopped over Apple's iPhone 3G s.

Well lets take a look at some of the features of the phone that I can appreciate. I am not going to bore you with all the details, you can read about the rest of them by going to the iPhone 3G s link.

The best upgrade that there were able to put into the new phone is that it is much faster than the last generation phone. Touted as being 2x faster with opening applications, rendering web pages, reading attachments and video for gaming.

Now I like the new camera feature with 3MP, auto-focus and the ability touch zoom in and out and tap to focus on items in the photo. The video capabilities, you could almost say astound over other phones on the market. You can shoot your video in both portrait and landscape(widescreen), you can edit on the fly and post it to iTunes or Youtube with a tap of the screen. Now being the techie that I am, I like the Voice control feature. Having the ability to just say who you want to call as well as to choose what song you want to listen to is great. Oh and don't forget there are language packs available so that you can speak in your native language, from Chinese to Norwegian to Spanish.

Now there are other updates to the iPhone over and above it predecessor that I am sure will make you happy. Me I sat around and watched a family member go gaga over the original and payed a great deal of money for it when it came out. He loves that phone and it does everything he wants it to. The new one I am looking at because of the new features that I like. Price point wise $199 or $299 depending if you want the 16 or 32GB storage. Me I am one to stick with the lesser of two evils but I might have to dip into the piggy bank and pull out enough for the 32GB iPhone. For all of you out there happy dialing, movie making and picture taking.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Web 2.0 collaboration from start to finish

In my effort to find more free web 2.0 tools out there to help make your life easier I came across a pretty good site that provides you with a lot of tools that you can use.

Creaza is a ..."an integrated, web-based toolbox for creative work, both at school and in your free time..." The site provides four utilities that help you to create podcasts and vodcasts, research and project based learning, audio files, movies and many more applications that you can easily integrate into your everyday instruction and apply to your curriculum.

The products are:

Mindomo will help you to organize your ideas and thoughts into clear and concise points so through this online mind mapping software.

Cartoonist is a piece of software that allows you to obviously create cartoons, comic strips or funny images. Oh the possibilities for all curriculum areas from Health Education to English.

Movie Editor is a quick and easy movie creator software. There are plenty of canned images, videos, sounds and songs built in or you can upload your own content and create using your imagination.

Audio Editor is a quick audio program that allows you to take existing music, sounds and voice to combine into your own content. Again there are some canned sounds within the software or you can upload your own stuff.

Think of all the possibilities for school curriculum from Elementary science where students are discussing, through a podcast in the audio editor, plant life and what they are seeing in their terrariums, to High school English where they are creating political cartoons or recreating through claymation a movie on the Battle of Bull run in a Social Studies class.

Now the site offers you both a free and a pay account. With the free account you have access to the products and a sharing area as well as the ability to download your completed projects. Now there is a downside to the site, yes and I have said it before, you have to create a username and password to access the site. Again I suggest using something that you will be able to easily keep up with.

If I can leave you with anything I will leave you with this quick phrase, "go forth and play."

images provided by www.creaza.com

Monday, June 1, 2009

Problems Converting Video?

Are you still having problems finding a program that will allow you to convert videos into multiple formats other than your original format?

Try Any Video Converter, a program that allows you to convert video into multiple formats. A freeware program that offers you the ease of use of a three step process to convert your video files into new formats.

Now you do have to download the program and install it onto your computer. It does not take much time at all. It is a fairly small download and a short install that puts Any Video Converter onto your computer.

It is very easy to get started, just open the program. Select from the Profile dropdown menu the output video format. ex: .flv, .wmv, .mpg, .avi and others. After you choose the output format then click on the Add Video button and browse to the location on the computer where the video is. After you select the video click the Convert button and the process begins. If the programs asks you to upgrade to the pro version just click No Thanks. The new file is placed in the Any Video Converter located in your My Documents folder.

And that is it, that quick and your are off to the next thing. You also have the ability to watch the video in the program to see if there are any issues after the conversion.

One last thing is that you can convert files from YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe and NicoVideo. They do not have a link yet that would allow you to download from TeacherTube but it should be coming soon. Just click on the You Tube button.

Give it a try and see if this program relieves a little bit of stress that you have built up over time with trying to find programs and free trials to convert your video files.

images provided by Any Video Converter

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Musical Resources

I have compiled a list of a few web-based resources that will allow you to integrate with your SmartBoard and Airliners, even Activboards as well as with your Mobi or Qomo Interactive Tablets to help you with music in Elementary grades.

Some of these sites will work seamlessly and can be used with any of the items listed above. Now some of these sites do require something extra and I will let you know which ones they are and what they need to function. Sometimes it is just as simple as having Quicktime on your computer or maybe you will need to open the link with a different browser than you normally would. Most however work great on their own with what you have on your computer. Remember that you will also need to have a set of speakers so that your students can hear.

Have fun with these and I will keep posting more periodically for different subject areas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's in a Presentation?

So in an effort to bring free web 2.0 tools to you that you may not have already known about, here is another one that I had overlooked previously.

How many of you have ever used the web-based utility SlideShare? Did you know that you can upload an mp3, combine it with the slideshare and create a SlideCast?

According to the website there are only a few steps to follow to get your slidecast up and ready to present.

• Upload your presentation file to SlideShare.
• Go to Edit slideshow>Create Slidecast tab. Enter your mp3 url there
• Synchronize slides & audio using the synchronization tool and click publish

Check it out for yourself and see if you like this tool and if it will work for you in your presentations to make them more interactive.

images and steps shared from: SlideShare

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's in a Game?

I just read a very interesting article on how violence and gore can get in the way of video games. The original article is titled... "All that Gore Gets in the Way of Gameplay."

In a study done by Andrew Przybylski and Richard Ryan. They looked at users responses to differentiating versions of the game Half-life 2. They had participants play the game in both a "high and low" violence version to see how it effected their game play.

The results showed that regardless of the amount of violence in a game it did not alter their perceptions of game play. The violence in the games added little or no additional favoritism to the games themselves. In some cases it was viewed negatively because it detracted from the cinematic perspective of the game to the players. Some players are interested in the gameplay and fluidity of action than the violence in video games. Now I have to say that I like the blood and guts just as much as the next guy but have to admit that sometimes it does get in the way of how I view and play a game.

The next aspect that the researchers looked at was they "Why?" Why, if it is not necessary to have the violence in games do developers put it in there? The response to the question can be different based on the person you talk to. For me I see it as marketing to what society wants to have. Others may see it differently. The researchers compare it to the movie industry and how they remake original movies with more special effects and action than the original versions to grab in audiences.

Will it change your purchasing choices if a game has more violence than another? Not sure, read the whole article and you may have to rethink your stance. Do I want violence or cinematics or can I have both. That will be a question for the game designers.

Thank you Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for your "tweet" regarding this article.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Webspiration comes back from the clouds

Just in... Webspiration comes back from the clouds. Gone but not forgotten myWebspiration has now come back in Beta format and is now live and ready for users to sign up and begin working again.

myWebspiration was created by Inspiration Software, Inc. who are also the makers of Inspiration, Kidspiration and Inspiredata.

This web-based platform allows you to collaborate, organize information, share ideas visually, invite in users and create written documents. The interface is similar to the system-based software so if you have worked with or are accustomed to one of the products there is virtually no real learning curve. Now if you have never used the products you can get up and going really quickly. Now you do again have to create a username and password to access the site, I know folks again with another account to keep up with. Again my suggestion is to make it similar to what you are already using. But the really nice things about this is that it is on the web so you can go anywhere and as long as you have access to the internet you can retrieve information from myWebspiration.

Not only is this a great Web 2.0 tool for use in the educational setting for all curriculum for collaborative projects, concept mapping, organizing and structuring written communication. It can also be used for brainstorming ideas and concepts applied to the business model.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google sends Gmail to the Labs

So, have you ever taken a look at the Google Labs? There are lots of little things in there that you can add to make your Google experience a little better. Now do you have a Gmail account? I know some of your are saying "not another email account." Let me tell you I think I am up to seven myself and counting so I completely understand. But while you are looking through the Google Labs and if you have a Gmail account check out the Gmail Labs section from the link on the right side of the page under Other Experiments at Google.

There are a number of unique and interesting little feature add-ons that you can add to your Gmail account. I am not going to list everything out here in the blog but I will highlight a few things that I thought were interesting and then let you go and check out the rest of them. Now there is a disclaimer at the top of the page that lets you know ahead of time that these items are all in the experimental stages of development and could be removed at anytime. So don't freak out if one day you go into your Gmail and it does not look the same anymore due to a feature being removed from the Labs section. Gmail has a built in "escape hatch" they say to get things back to normal. It is a hyperlink to the standard Gmail web page.

So here are some of the things that I found interesting.

  • Google Offline: This feature allows you to put Gmail in your browser window and access it offline.
  • YouTube, Picasa and Flickr in your email: Preview within your mail items from the three sites listed.
  • Message Translation: Will automatically translate emails into English that you receive in other languages.
  • Right-side labels and Chats: It moves the boxes to the right hand side of the screen.
  • Navbar drag and drop: Allows you to move items on the navbar to other areas using the drag and drop method.
  • Create a Google Doc: Allows you to create a Google Doc from your email using the shortcut keys "g" and "w." You must have enabled the shortcut feature prior to being able to do this.
Again these are just a sample of the ones that I have used. Take it with a grain of salt and go take a look for yourself. Maybe you have an idea of a feature add-on that you could suggest to Google for the Gmail Labs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A computer in a keyboard?

Yes I said a computer in a keyboard.

How about just having a keyboard that does the same thing as a full desktop or laptop computer. Now I know what some of your are thinking. Hey we have cell phones that have all the functionality of a computer without the peripheral ports other than an SD card reader. Well this one seems to be something neat to me. A new cool tool that might be something fun to have.

The ASUS Eee Keyboard. It is a full qwerty keyboard minus the number pad. Now in the place of the number pad there is an 800x600 pixel resolution touchscreen display which also acts as a touch pad. What are some of the other features; a 1.6GHz processor, a possible 32GB SSD, 802.11n, bluetooth, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, audio in/out and vga port. Not bad for a product who's projected price point comes in between $400-600 dollars.

So in the short I think it looks like a promising product that I would like to see in the retail market so that I can test it out. It may be something really good for use in the home. I would bet with some additional peripherals you can get this hooked up to your HD/LCD TV and use it sitting on the couch watching he ball game. Maybe there could be some sort of wireless monitor that could be out there you could use with this keyboard. Oh wait another on the horizon product from ASUS is the wireless monitor, but that is another post all together.

Check it out next month and make your own decision.

image provided by: ASUS

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looking for a Child friendly Operating System?

I know that there are a lot of available offerings for parents to have a safe friendly environment for their small children to use the computer. I have looked a number of them but have settled on one that I like.

Qimo (pronounced "kim - oh") is a customized, and customizable, operating system built off the Ubuntu Linux platform for children ages 3 up to about 12. The interface has been optimized and designed for a child with lots of interactive features and what I call "big kid buttons." Take a look at the screen shots here.

The system really looks good with the added features that will help children grow in a safe computing environment. Michael and Michelle Hall are the founders of QuinnCo Inc. which is a non-profit organization that helps put computers in the homes of children with special needs. What they do is to take older computers and remove all data files and load them with educational games that teach computer literacy. It is fun, it is interactive and that is what our kids need to get them interested the appropriate use of computers.

The system requirements are very low "...needs a minimum of 256MB of memory to run from the CD, or 192MB to install. At least 6 GB of hard drive space is recommended, and a 400MHz or faster CPU." So if you are planning to donate they can take computers ranging from a Pentium III class to current machines. You can read about other opportunities to donate at the link above.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mobi - Not the Artist the InterWrite Tablet

So we have been talking a lot about collaboration and how to get students involved in the classroom. So what is it about kids today? Are they bored, unchallenged, tired? Where is the motivation for them from the instructor.

Let's get them involved and with the new InterWrite Workspace 8.01 software and the InterWrite Mobi Tablet that just might do the trick.

The InterWrite Mobi tablet is the first multi-user, multi-tablet collaborative solution for classrooms instruction. What is it you ask. Well the Mobi is the next generation of interactive tablet in which the user can manipulate desktop or laptop applications without being locked into one location in the room. You have the ability to roam free and be a part of the learning environment. The one nice addition to the Mobi over its predecessors is the addition of a 2.5" lcd color screen which allows you to link up with another product from eInstruction, the Classroom Performance Systems (CPS for short). Check out Brian Piekarski's previous article in our blog. All response information is sent to the display as it happens so that you can see where the students are without having to go back to the desktop or laptop. The board has also been redesigned to be more ergonomic for the user as well as lighter in weight and sturdier for in class use. Previous evolutions of InterWrite tablets had a rechargeable pen that had one contact point for charging the newly designed pen has a 360 degree contact point for charging and fits inside of its own holster built into the back of the boards hand-hold.

Now to talk about one really new cool feature of the InterWrite Workspace software that come with the Mobi Tablet or can be downloaded from the eInstruction website. It is the ability to use the collaborative workspace. While inside the workspace software the instructor can have up to 9 tablets interacting with the display at one time. it is very simple to use you click on the multi-user icon and drag and drop the tablets into the areas of the screen you want them to use. You are the instructor and have control of the page and all users. Each tablet has access to their own space only and cannot write in an another users defined space. Now those of you who have a previous incarnate of the the InterWrite tablet can still use the multi-user feature of Workspace v 8.01 software so do not worry at all.

Check out the eInstruction website for more information about the Mobi tablet, CPS and Workspace software.

video images and image provided by eInstruction

Friday, April 24, 2009

Never leave home without it?

Have you ever left the house to go out and once you got there and realized you forgot your camera? How about going to run, bike, hike or another outdoor activity and forgot your music player?

Well now you do not have to worry about leaving your camera or music player again because now the only thing you have to remember is your sunglasses. Yes I said sunglasses. Xonix has developed a pair of sunglasses that not only protects your eyes from the harmful UV rays but also is a camera and music player.

Here are some of the Specs:

  1. A 1.3 megapixel camera that allows you to take pictures and record video directly into the integrated hardrive.

  2. Store your music here as well and listen to it through the built in earpieces.

  3. UV coated lenses for eye protection and adjustable nose pieces.

  4. Easy to use controls along the side of the glasses.

  5. And for you techies like me there is a remote control that gives you full control of everything at the touch of the finger. The remote works up to 16 ft away from the glasses.

I have heard of other types of glasses out there that have some of the same features but I do not think that I have seen one that offers this many in one device. Sure there is a multitude of video glasses that allow you to watch movies and the such, check out the Coolbuzz article from 2007. You can get more information as well from an article in gizmag which goes a little more in depth than I do with background features. They do great job with the nitty gritty stuff. Although this is a really cool tool and I am stoked that it can do so much I am not sure when it is going to be hitting retail stores here in the states. Looks like a great gift for the techno-gadget guru in every family.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


What is micro-blogging, well before we delve into that one let's look at what blogging is as a whole.

A blog or weblog is a site in which a user posts their own commentary regarding things they are doing, events in their lives, or just their personal views on different subject material. To learn more about blogs you can watch the following video to get a better understanding.

Now that you have learned a little bit about what a blog is let's talk about micro-blogging. In a nut shell micro-blogging allows users to send short text descriptions about what they are doing, what is going on or things happening around them etc. Users key in a sentence or so description that then posts immediately. Why go with micro-blogging? Some may think it is easier than keeping up with a blog website. Others may think that this could be their in route to the whole blog universe. Me, I am on the fence as to its use. I regularly post blog entries but tend to not use the micro-blogging options available to me.
Micro-blogging seems to taking off like a rocket in recent months. Or at least it has come to the forefront with all of the media attention that it has been getting lately. So, where do you go to micro-blog? Well some may not even realize that they are doing it while others are reading this and saying that I am crazy because they have been doing it for a long time.
If you have a Facebook, MySpace or Bebo account you already have an avenue for micro-blogging by telling people what you are doing or how you are feeling right then. Probably the most notable micro-blogging site is Twitter which advertises that you can let people now what you are doing in 140 characters or less. Twitter has thousands of users on the web and even some very famous user like Oprah Winfrey, Clark Howard, as well as news and sports shows. There are other micro-blogging sites out there in the world wide web that you can use as well. Here is a list of some of the available sites as offered up by many different search results I have looked at.

There are many others out on the web but these are a good starting place for you to get your feet wet. So go out there and jump in the water and start micro-blogging.
video provided by Commoncraft

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Bionic Eye

Well not actually a Bionic Eye but as close to it as possible.

All of my life my mother has suffered with Dry Macular Degeneration. An eye disease that normally begins to effect most people in their early to late 50's happened to her right after she had me in her late 20's. The disease effects the part of the eye called the macula which is what helps you to see things clearly. When it begins to deteriorate the best way to describe what happens is that you start seeing spots in front of your eyes. Actually as the cells die dark spots form in your field of vision which gradually over time begin to come together until you go completely blind.

Now there are two major forms of the disease one is Wet and the other Dry. Current Ophthalmology trends have been able to slow the progression of the disease in those with the Wet version through different medical procedures. Those with the Dry condition do not have much to look forward to in a treatment that could slow the progression.

Now that we have heard the bad let's have some good.

Towards the end of March the FDA advisory panel approved an implant that could give many thousands of people with end stage Macular Degeneration, including my mother, the hope of getting some vision back. What is it that will help these people to get some sight back? An implantable telescope for the eye. What the implant would do is to give recipients back "...about three and a half lines on an eye chart." This could considerably improve the quality of life for many individuals that suffer from this disease. For myself and my mother this could be an opportunity for her to be independent again. Something that causes undo stress on family members that have always been able to do things for themselves who now have to rely on others for assistance with normal everyday activities.

VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies were the developers of the implant that is about the size of a pencil eraser. It works like a telescope to help the recipient to focus on objects. The telescope is implanted into one eye only so that the other is used for its peripheral vision. With the hopeful FDA full approval the telescope could be out on the market by the end of this year.

Image provided by: VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies

Generating Electricity through Motion

Imagine this: you are on a dark road late at night and your car breaks down. You reach for your cell phone and the battery is dead and you don't have your charger. Or you are on that long drive, flight, biking or some activity and your iPod battery runs out. In most cases you are either sleeping in your car the rest of the night or you are doing your activity in silence, or maybe a-la "American Idol"

Now imagine this: you are in those same situations but because you are wearing a new jacket, shirt, pants with a new nano type of fabric your movements generate electricity that can recharge the cell phone or iPod battery.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have been working on a new type of technology that will convert the mechanical movements of the body into electrical energy. This new technology has been touted as having a potential impact on many arenas including.. "personal electronics."

What does his mean to all of us? That someday there will be a technology that allows us, through movement, to generate enough electricity to recharge our personal electronic devices. I don't know about you but I pay way to much for batteries that last no time at all. I am all for this technology. Think about it, right now for a number of years we have had watches that will self-wind themselves with the movement of the wearer. There are companies out there that have been working on thin light weight material to project images onto. This seems to be the next logical progression and oh the possibilities abound.

original article: PHYSORG

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bookmarking Revisited

You may have heard of Delicious or StumbleUpon and maybe even Diigo. Each has their own strengths and ease of use as Social Bookmarking sites. Well I found another one that you may or may not have heard about.

It is called trailfire and what it does is to not only allow you to create bookmarks to resources, utilities and your own personal interests but also strings them together to make a trail. "Find what you want on the web in an entirely new way. Follow trails of web pages and discover new ideas, hot topics, reviews... "

Each resource becomes its own trail. You could have students create trails as part of their senior projects so that the resources they use are more manageable. The good thing is that they have the ability to share those resources with you and everyone else. All they have to do is share the created short web link made by trailfire.

The trailfire site is easy to understand and takes only a couple of minutes to set up from logging in to creating your first trail. Downside, folks you have to create another user name and password, I know but if you follow a standard login name and password then it will be easy to remember. One you have registered you download the plug ins for your Internet browser window. In its current version it looks as if it only supports IE browsers. Now all you have to do is three little steps to create your first trail.
Step 1. Click n the trailfire logo in your browser
Step 2. Give your trail a heading title (basically a tag)
Step 3. Save the trail

This can eliminate a lot of lost productivity for your students when they are searching for resources. As well if combined with other utilities, like netTrekker, they could also eliminate extraneous non-educational sites and only look at valid educational material.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let's talk about Science

Students need to learn it, teachers have to teach it. Why not make it fun for everyone?

What if there was a website that allowed your students to learn Science curricula in a fun and inviting way? The Jason Project offers curriculum resources for students in grades 5-8 to help them get interested in science investigations with real scientists and researchers from the National Geographic Society, NOAA and NASA.

Do not take my word for it check out the "Take a Tour" link from the home page of the site. It is approx. 5 minutes long and gives a general overview of what the site offers to you, your students, your administrators and parents. Yes I said parents, they have the ability to go in and see the progress their children while they are working on assigned projects.

How do you get started? Well because everything is free, again with the free thing, you have to register for an account and then verify it through email. During he registration process you put in your zip code and it will bring up all the schools in and around the zip and let's you click on your school. You have the option to set up your account as either a Teacher, Administrator, Student and Parent.

Once you have verified the account through email the magic begins. You can immediately go in and set up a class and create logins for your student, no email is needed for your students. Then you can begin searching for content within the site.

Here is what you have access to And it can be searched according to the NC SCOS:
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • History and Nature of Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Life Science
Once you have found what you are looking for all you have to do is assign it to your class and your students go in and start looking. Not only do you have the integration with the NC SCOS you also have Lesson Plans, Assessments, Videos in the Digital Library and Black line Masters. There is so much that you can see use and share with your students that will enhance your everyday in class instruction.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Presentation 2.0

When I recently attended the NCTIES conference at the beginning of March, I was in a session where the presenter used a new web tool that I had not seen before. This web tool gave new meaning to my interpretation of a presentation.

Prezi is the name of the website and it takes presentations to the next level. "With the help of Prezi you can create maps of texts, images, videos, PDFs, drawings and present in a nonlinear way." One great thing about this web tool is that you have the ability to make your product Private or Public.

I could not believe how quick and easy it was to get started and have a presentation up and running in as the site says about 5 minutes. I had all of my resources in place and ready to go. Within the presentation I was able to select a background from a few canned ones they have. Then you are on the canvas and ready to create your new presentation. Using this palette tool you can begin adding your material. Now the sky is the limit with what and how much information you want to use. The site automatically saves your progress every few moments but if you click the Blue File Circle you can Save or Save and Close. You also have the Blue Show circle which allows you to see immediately how the presentation will look. On the Blue Place circle you have all of your tools for the presentation. At the top is Media which you can use to upload Images and video.. there is a downside right now you can only upload Flash (flv) video but as this moves out of the beta phase there may be different options available. The Text options allows you three choices for fonts in html code, body, strong and head. With Frame you can section off your presentation into different areas. With Line you can create a high-lighted area, an arrow line or a free hand draw line. Path allows you to create the flow of your presentation. See the video to learn more.

Now the site offers a lot of other tools for you while you are creating your own presentation. The site offers the Learn Tab which has a number of videos and interactive tutorials for you. There is the the Showcase tab that has 27 pages of shared presentations that others have done on varying subject areas. The last tab is the Forum where you can get and give feedback on the site, issues that you are having or just ask about new features that might be available soon. Speaking of features what else can Prezi do for you? Here is another video to show you how you can emphasize areas of your presentation.

Images & video provided by Prezi.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"World's smallest music player?"

The new iPod shuffle hit the market and is said to be the "...world's smallest music player." It has also been redesigned slightly. You no longer have the wheel anymore, too small not enough room. You do still have the clip though?! Now there is something new called VoiceOver which tells you what voice is playing since you no longer have the display and is activated by an button on the ear buds. The shuffle now has 4GB, an increase of 2GB from the last evolution, of storage space that will hold up to 1000 songs.
Now the size, at 1.8" tall and .3" thin it is as small as some thumb drives on the market. I have to tell you this folks I have enough trouble keeping up with my thumb drives let alone keep up with the new iPod shuffle. Now when I look at this image and the only thing that come to my mind is the old Saturday Night Live Cell Phone skit where the phones got smaller and smaller until it was pretty much gone. Now will this keep me from purchasing the new iPod shuffle? The cost approx. $80 nope, I can live with the size and ease of use with the newer version. I just have to remember to take it out of my pocket before I do laundry.

image provided by: Engadget, Apple.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dare to be Great

Did you ever get to the end of a great book and was let down by the ending? It was either not what you expected or left you wanting more.

Why not write your own ending to that book. Put in what you want the characters to do and say. Make the book come to life in your minds eye and get it on paper, or rather online. Yes online for you to keep or for you to share using Plotbot.

Plotbot, what is it, well it is an online web resource that allows you the user or people to collaborate the writing of screenplays, or manuscripts. As teachers you could also use this site in conjunction with writing assignments and book reviews to give your students the opportunity to write, or re-write, their own ending to a novel, short story, movie etc..
This process allows for student collaboration with their peers as well as with the instructor for feedback. As well will prepare some students for careers in writing screenplays or manuscripts.

The site is very easy to maneuver through. When you come to the splash page you create your account, and its is Free. Once you have created your username and password you are then asked whether or not you want this project to be private or public. If you decide to make your project private no one will be able to view it unless you invite them in. Once you have done that you create the project name and enter in some parameter settings and off you go.
Now that everything is set up you can begin creating your content. You can choose to make a(n) outline, screens, screenplay as well as set up a project blog, guidelines, references or character document. Depending on your content you can set up the rating for this according to the MPAA standards.
If you make the project public, or for your invitees, you can set up an RSS feed to it and keep up with editing.
Plotbot also has its own repository so that you can upload documents straight to the site for download and sharing.

So whether you plan on a career as a screenwriter or not, whether you like it your way take a chance and see what Plotbot has to offer.

Image provided by plotbot.com
video provided by Commoncraft

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

That's what I want

I have debated now for a number of years as to the purchase of either an LCD or Plasma HDTV. I was not which was better for my purposes. So what did I do, like many others out there I did the research.

I went out online and read reviews from the major brands websites, went to all the major electronics stores in the area, and even a few lesser known places. I read blog posts and consumer reports. I thought I had it all down and was ready to buy...

but look what they came up with now. OLED Television Wallpaper. Yes, I said Wallpaper. No more excuses to not buy that big screen tv anymore, because that is all it is now a screen. Toshiba has developed this new OLED (Organic light-emitting diode) technology so now you can roll out your tv screen just like wallpaper. Oh yes and for the Green conscious the energy output is a fraction of what you have for a conventional LCD or Plasma. There are a number of other uses described in the article but I had to share that geek moment with everyone again and say, "That's what I want."

Image provided by Cleantechnica.com

What is a Good "Digital Citizen"

What does it take to be a good digital citizen and who determines if they are?

Well here it is folks, Microsoft is allowing access to free online curriculum that "..that encourages students to be good digital citizens."

The curriculum helps to teach students about intellectual property rights through different scenarios and demonstrations that they can go through to bolster their knowledge. The programs is labelled as Digital Citizenship and Creative Content. Initially this was targeted for students in grades 8-10 but according to the designers can be adapted for grades 6-12.

On the website you do have to create a free online account, I know another user name and password to remember, to have access to their online content. Once you put in the general info the system asks you to fill out a curriculum area and grade level selection grid. After you move on to the next screen at the bottom of the page are the four units. They would also like for you to fill out the survey of the content after reviewing it.

Each unit is a comprehensive package of information ranging from the general overview and activating strategies to scenarios and post activity review assessments. There are also testimonials from your educational peers that have taken part in this curriculum with their students and again is approved by ISTE and AASL.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Web redesign 101

Conversations abound regarding website development and design. What is good, what is appropriate, what is functional? Some say you can never have too much, others have a minimalist approach. Do you put the fancy animated logo that rotates and flashes or a plain static logo that gets the point across?

My personal philosophy... "less is more." I struggle sometimes when searching for information on the web because sites are too busy, or there is too much going on that it distracts from what you're looking for. I have also seen sites that are great and have specific content I am looking for but takes me five to ten minutes to locate it because it is buried under multiple layers.

I recently read the article "Build it Better" which outlines a number of educational institutions that have recently undergone a total redesign of their school web page sites. This short, to the point article provides additional viewpoints on what a good website has to offer the public.

4 main topics are covered in the article, "Pepper the site with links," "Many Moving Parts," "A Look of Continuity" and "Colors Matter." Each topic provides some insight and background testimonials from school districts that have recently undergone a redesign of their web site. The information in this article can provide insight to anyone who is thinking of creating or redesigning their personal or professional website.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Learning by doing... is it better?

I have always been a hands on learner. If I can do it as I am learning it is beneficial to my learning curve. There are many others out there in the world that learn the same way. Do you think that our students learn the same way? In today's "plugged in" world I think that it is true.

What about your Science students grades 4-6? What if there was a resource that allows them to get hands on learning... and lets you give them a Certificate when they complete each lesson.

Take a look at Siemens Science Day. This website gives students in grades 4-6 Science classes the ability to get some hands on learning. You have videos, hands-on activities and other information that will help them learn Life, Earth and Physical Science.

What do you do to get started? You do have to create an account, I know not another password to remember. Once you create an account just choose one of the subject area topics, have the students watch the video, then pass out the printable worksheets for the activity and let them start working. The subject topic gives you a difficulty level associated with it, a summary of the topic and is also aligned with national science curriculum.

Have fun and take a look at this with your students and give them the opportunity to learn Science in a fun and inviting way.

Oh yeah.. one last thing to look at while you are on the site. You could also win the Ultimate Cool School Science Day Sweepstakes. The contest runs through March 2, 2009. So enter often and soon so that you have a chance to with the prize. What do you get? Here is an explanation of what you get "The winning teacher will win a spellbinding assembly for his/her school that is not only fun and interactive, but also underscores the importance of science literacy and the need for science resources among schools. Discovery Networks will lead the assembly, which will consist of videos, mind benders and interactive demonstrations."

Have you ever had an AHA! moment?

I was sitting in a meeting the other day with a group of educators and we were discussing ways to integrate technology and the curriculum seamlessly that would make teachers more comfortable and less likely to run. When I say run I am talking about full bore sprinting away from using technology in the classroom.
Talk came round and round to the same point that teachers are overwhelmed with the everyday tasks that are put on them and sometimes can not get their head above water. I have numerous friends that say it is all they can do sometimes just to get kids to sit down in their seats let alone try to introduce them to curriculum that has a technological component to it. "When do I have time to learn," some say. "If you do not show me how I can use it in my subject area I will never use it after the training," are what others say.
So comes the AHA moment. I get it now where it had not really clicked before. I have been going into school after school showing these educators the technology, over and over again until I can recite verbatim the training in my sleep. I don't need props anymore because it is so repetitive that I seem to sleep through everything.

So now comes the retraining of the trainer. I now have to relearn what I have learned so that I can make it viable for everyone that I am working with. Personalize it as some would say so that it makes sense to the educators that are sitting there like their students. I am not sure how it is going to go, or what changes I will make. Stay tuned for my personal journey to make life easier for the 20th Century teacher in a 21st Century classroom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Are...

Some faculty members at a local school had never seen Photo Story 3, Movie Maker or heard of a vodcast before a couple of months ago. Now they have created a number of vodcasts representing their school. Here is their latest creation. Enjoy it and read some of the comments on how they created this. My hats off to them for coming so far so fast.

"Making the storyboard first was probably one of the most helpful tools because I knew exactly what kind of pictures I needed and where they needed to go in the sequence of the story. I love creating these stories and can't wait to learn more about editing videos. "...

"I wanted the video to have a clear message, but I wanted the words to come through powerfully yet subtly. In order to do that, I decided to have a black background with the words written in red. I felt the contrast between the bright colors and the dark background would give it intensity, but the lack of narration would give it a visual effect. I also wanted the phrases to be short, and the meanings (and pictures) present contrasting images between the old and the new."...

"...The classroom no longer has to be contained in four walls. The traditional walls of old school education are crumbling. When I thought of wall crumbling, I wanted a visual effect to enhance that image and phrase which is why I searched for a transitional effect that would make the slide look like it was falling or crumbling to reveal a world beyond. The word slides are made using the PowerPoint program, and I saved the slides in the presentation as separate J-PEG images."...