Well, not the end of my blogging, but the end of this blog.

I am leaving this one up… but I am moving over to a different blog – http://gcsdl.wordpress.com

I am moving out of my current position as a technology facilitator into a new position as the Coordinator of Distance Learning. We have a great program that has been started by Dr. Tasha Christmas and I look forward to continuing to build on what she has started.

The focus of the gcsdl blog will be on distance learning opportunities that are currently available for our educators within the district, as well as providing a means for discussion with those out-of-district.

See you over at gcsdl.

I accepted a new position this week. I will be the new Coordinator of Distance Learning for Greenville County. Therefore, I will be leaving this blog to create another focusing on Distance Learning… look for updates soon.

I only have had one formal class on Instructional Design, part of my Master’s in Educational Technology Leadership from The George Washington University, so I am in no way claiming superior thoughts or knowledge on this matter. But today, I am sitting a training on Learning Focused, and I am thinking about how I could apply this training to my role in the school system now, especially considering I am no longer in the classroom.

Instructional design is the first thing that popped into my head. Almost as a way of organizing current and future trainings so that we only deliver what is most important and help the participants get the big picture. Part of me wonders if this is something we already do as trainers, just informally… after all, it’s not like you always have the time to work through the entire instructional design model.

I am only thinking about this because some of the “canned” training materials we receive from the technology companies we work with often seem to be lacking… we continuously receive feedback that states, “I learned some great tips and tricks, but I still don’t really know what I am supposed to do next.” These comments, along with the knowledge that the materials are lacking are a bothersome issue for me. I don’t want participants to feel like their time was wasted. I don’t want participants to feel as though they are leaving without everything they need to be successful.

We have the ability to rework and change up the materials we receive – but the issue of time always comes into play. I reworked some training materials for our district last year, and although they did improve, I wasn’t pleased with the overall finished product. This was before my instructional design class and before this training today, so hopefully I will be able to take this knowledge gained and put it to good practice.

Man… long time, no blog.

Where have I been? First came the end of the semester for both work and grad school, then came the holiday season, and a little visit from my parents, now school and grad school are back up and running…

I need to make time to blog…

“Zoom in on my house!” students yell out enthusiastically as the teacher works with the 3D rendering of the earth.

Google Earth and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth are wonderful software applications for use in the classroom.

Both are available for download, but are also accessible from the web:

These applications give users the possibility to explore cities and landmarks, as well as general mapping. Both have 3D rendering capabilities; however, Microsoft Virtual Earth has the edge in terms of clarity and detail of the buildings. See below Manhattan-GE and Manhattan-VE.

Manhattan-GE

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Manhattan-VE

nyc-vea.jpg

Google Earth incorporates many layers with including options to see results for local dining and lodging as well as incorporating shared content from YouTube and National Geographic.

Both have options for traffic updates…

Google Earth, the newest version 4.2, also allows the user to view the stars via the Hubble Telescope.

Google Maps has incorporated a new “Street View” where the user can “travel” down the street.

It’s easy to spend HOURS on both… but more importantly it’s easy to use these tools in the classroom for mapping and for bringing the world to the students in your class. So, if you haven’t yet, check them both out and start using them today…

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So I did a little one-hour training/overview session about SMART Products from SMART Technologies for Anderson University yesterday.

All of these students are graduating in the fall and are finishing their student teaching. So far this year, they have been exposed to SMART Boards, Promethean Boards, and other various forms of emerging technologies that are making their way into classrooms across the world.

I couldn’t help by feel a little jealous when I left – where was all of this when I was in college? I mean, I graduated college from Clemson University in 2001. But then again, things have changed so much since then… we have gone from a Web 1.0 world to Web 2.0 world. This new world provides opportunities to everyone that were not available in the past.

I would love to have the opportunity to teach an emerging technologies course at the collegiate level. Granted I would not be teaching these students what they are, but rather how to integrate them into the classroom… I guess I just need to finish my Masters first and then hit that PhD.

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Well… maybe not really hugged, but definitely thanked.

This is my soapbox lately… I think it’s super important to thank the techs in the schools for all of their hard work.

Yeah, it may take them a long time to get out to the school to take a look at your issue, but often times, they can’t get out there because they are resolving other issues that may have been simple quick fixes – plugging it in, turning it on, etc.

Also, while the issues at your school are important, they may not be the priority call right now – for example, a printer that needs connected is not as high of a priority as a school whose network is completely down.

Anyway, that’s just a quick thought that I felt like sharing…

Next week… I want to compare Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth.

The thought has probably crossed the mind of almost every educator, “Maybe I should go get my administration degree.” Maybe it comes from frustration with current administration or out of pure admiration – either way, it’s a thought that I think most teachers have thought about a time or two.

I found this Virtual School website awhile back, over the summer actually while I was at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities Conference 2007.

Basically, in this Virtual School environment, you choose to be the administrator and you run the school. You are assessed on your ability to maintain positive morale and behavior, and your ability to improve the situation. You are faced with scenarios and you have to chose the option you think will work best – of course the morale and behavior of the students and staff are affected by your choices!

Maybe more simulations such as this will be developed soon to give us all a taste of other jobs – possibly building empathy for others and their situations…

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So there I was… sitting down to write a little post when I notice that WordPress has the option to “tag” now. YAY!

I’ve been adding tags via the Landmark-Project by David Warlick… but now, I can just add tags here. I think I will still add my tags for Technorati though…

Tags are a trip. I don’t claim to know 100% about anything, especially tags. I know that “tags” are little bits and such that you attach to your post, picture, website, etc. to let users know what your submission to the web is “supposed” to be about. I say “supposed” because sometimes people tag things inappropriately – either harmless as inappropriate or inappropriate as harmless. You have to love the web.

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HELP… My computer doesn’t work!!!

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of educators more than when technology stops working. After all, with rigorous standards and accountability to No Child Left Behind – teachers don’t have time to teach and be a technician too.

We are evolving past the chalkboards, dry-erase whiteboards, and overheads into the world of ubiquitous computing with 1:1 initiatives and interactive whiteboards. With all of this wonderful technology comes a need to know basic troubleshooting. The hardware and network technicians of world are out there and working frantically to fix all of the issues that pop up daily in the district, but I think there is nothing more empowering than being able to do a little of troubleshooting on your own to see if you can fix it yourself.

“Is it plugged in and/or turned on?” I’m not trying to be funny. Everyone has a story, either personal or one passed on from a friend, about someone spending hours on the phone with technical support trying to work through an issue only to have technical support finally ask, “Is it plugged in and/or turned on?” Yes, it’s embarrassing when something isn’t plugged in or turned on like it is supposed to be, but checking for these two things should probably be done first.

“Shut down and restart.” Seriously, if you call Dell, or HP, or anyone and ask what to do, shutting down the software, computer, or both and restarting is usually the first thing anyone will say. I know that shutting down and restarting can be time consuming but it generally resolves the issue. I also know that this is never part of the daily lesson plan, but it’s all part of being able to monitor and adjust and a whole lot better than waiting for someone to come out and fix it. :)

“Is the sound muted?” Thanks in part to streaming educational videos, sound has begun to play a much larger role in the classroom than it did with vinyl records, tapes, and filmstrips. If sound cannot be heard, check to make sure it is not muted. Double-click on the sound icon in the system tray next to the clock in the lower right-hand corner of the desktop to access the Volume Settings. Make sure that none of the settings are muted and that they are turned up. If you have external speakers and/or an amplifier, be sure that the speakers and/or amplifier are turned on and up.

Basically, I think these are the three easiest tips to keep instruction from being disrupted in the classroom. Of course, if these don’t solve the issue, you will need to call in the experts.

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