Pontfications on the field of Educational Technology and Instructional Design.

Bare with me as I ponder the meaning of education in the 21st century from the perspecitive of an instructional designer.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Of Zork and Dorks...

Ok. I admit it. When I was a Jr. Higher I loved to play Zork 1 on the computer. It was an interactive fiction "game" that had no graphics whatsoever. In fact, it was purely text. The game happened in my imagination as I interacted with the computer software and plowed through the adventure. I always assumed that I liked it because I was a bit of a geeky dork who enjoyed such things.

Fast forward 20+ years and Zork 1 is back in my life. I was first reminded of it when I read it on TJ Kopcha's blog, my professor from SDSU, as "interactive fiction". The thought was that there might be some real value in this for education today.

Turns out he was right. I decided to install it in my lab and invite classes down during their reading period to "read" the interactive fiction. Kids absolutely love it. They don't even seem to realize that they are reading intently for meaning, writing clearly, and making decisions about what they are reading. Since then, I've brought it into my own exploratory computers class for a reward activity and kids just can't seem to get enough of it.

So turns out that Zork has universal appeal and that maybe I'm not such a dork after all. Well, maybe.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Very Classy--544 and 572 that is.

What can be said? I really enjoyed working in 544 and 572. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to work out "Digital Story Telling 101" as a unit. I has actually opened my eyes up to the possibility of publishing more and more of my lessons as websites. I think I will migrate the site to WordPress, however, since I really like their features and abilities. They are quite a lot more flexible and design oriented. I already created the site name of http://digitalstorytelling101.wordpress.com. I want to follow this up with http://podcasting101.wordpress.com. This will be used initially for a gate class I'm developing.

So my point is, that these courses really lent themselves well to designing instruction and actually putting the rubber to the road. The projects from both courses really lent themselves well to my whole instructional unit.
I liked that:
  • The courses were integrated together.
  • Their were weekly tips and tidbits for use in the class.
  • The readings were free in 544!
  • A real attempt was made to work collaboratively in groups.
  • The assignments were extremely practical and can be put to use in my classroom and district immediately.

I would recommend:
  • Get the group-work figured out. I loved the idea, but it was a bit hard to manage. Perhaps find a new medium other than Adobe Connect. Perhaps have everyone get Skype and try conference calls. 9 people can video conf. at a time and they also have free addons for file and screen sharing. (ie. Spontanea and pandea)
  • Emphasize to everyone that all projects can (and probably should) be created with an end toward the instructional package. It really enhanced the scope of my unit because I was creating it all semester.
  • Streamline the websites a bit. You might even put them on the same Moodle so it is not necessary to constantly switch back and forth.
  • Work out the schedule a bit more in advance. I was sometimes confused about if we were having class or not.
  • 544-Rename all the readings so that they match up with the assignments given in the Moodle. Perhaps just, Week 1 reading, Week 2 reading, etc... The problem was that their were 3 ch. 4's and the names of the PDF's did not match up with the names in the Moodle assignments.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Digital Story Telling

A little about this. I created this video for a unit I want to teach in a district inservice. Hopefully, teachers will learn how to create digital stories and turn around and have their students do it as well.

I simply used personal pictures and pictures from Flickr.com. I found music on www.freeplaymusic.com. Microsoft's Photo story 3 served quite well in making the digital story.
I created this example of digital story telling for a unit I am creating. It is a bit of a rose colored view of childhood events in my life. It was fun to make.

Rose Colored Tales from a Minnesota Childhood

Thursday, March 13, 2008

All CUEd Up!

I went to the CUE conference this last weekend. Way too much information for me to process. I am trying not to dump 90% of it out of the back of my brain. We'll see. Anyways, here are a couple of great finds!

FlickrStorm--> an amazing way to search for Flickr Images

HotPotatoes-->teacher software for generating all sorts of useful web pages

Scribus-->free desktop pulishing software

Inkscape-->free open source vector drawing software

Anyways, that is just the tip of the iceburg. I'm still processing alot of information.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Reflections from a Lunatic Friend

I remember a song a while back that had the title listed above. As you listen to the song you find out that the "Lunatic" is actually the singers other emerging personality trying to cope with life. I can relate.

As Edtech 544 and 572 are underway I am having a great time learning all about new resources and better ways to teach. I love the atmosphere of cooperation and working together. The breakout rooms have been cool, although I must say we are all still learning how to use them effectively. The assignments have all been relevant to my current career and I already have plans to implement the unit I am developing for 544. I was excited to be able to develop a PowerPoint in 572 that uses my unit topic from 544. Hopefully I was able to squeeze in all the proper concepts while still meeting the terms of the assignment.

Here is where the lunatic part comes to play. While all of this is going on in COMET; my home and cars seem to be falling apart one piece at a time, my "bonus responsibilities" at work are taking up an extraordinary amount of time, and my wife and children really need more time with daddy(me). I can actually feel my brain starting to split down the middle into it's respective halves. Perhaps this will all be easier when I have two separate personalities to deal with the multifaceted demands going on in my life. Then, I think, we'll cope just fine.


The Animoto Promotional Video. It says it all much cooler than I can.

This was a remix of my kids. I love this one.

This was one of my remixes from Animoto. It is my daugter and her best friend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm In Love!.............with collaboration tools.

Yes, I love my wife and all that, but my most recent loves are:

1.) Google Docs and
2.) Yugma.com

Google Docs just added this new feature to spreadsheets whereby I can share a survey with a group of people, and as they answer the questions it POPULATES MY SPREADSHEET WITH THEIR ANSWERS!

I am screaming for joy about this because I am a teacher and I could easily have students take tests this way, have teachers do surveys this way, and all sorts of other cool applications.

Now, Yugma.com is also really cool because it allows a group session with digital whiteboards, chat, screen sharing, and file sharing. Very cool! Eh! Love it.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Open Source Audio Resources

One of my goals this year is to put together a good unit on podcasting. I've run into quite a few great resources that have helped me get my act together. They can be visited below:

Audacity (free sound editor):http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Open source music: http://freeplaymusic.com/

Open souce music: http://ccmixter.org/

Great Multimedia Resource

I found this great resource on the web from a high school technology teacher named Dave Jakes. He really has done his homework and puts his material out there for everyone to use. I've got a great deal of use out of his units on digital story telling by using photo story. Go take a look.

his website: http://www.jakesonline.org/storytelling.htm
and his blog called The Strength of Weak Ties : http://strengthofweakties.org

We're off to the Races!

So classes are on again at a full gallop. I love it, but I've had way too many things falling off my house, cars, and family members to have time to deal with. Why, I ask, can't my roof leak before classes start? And why does the "idle control valve" have to stumble in my van while I am supposed to be working, reading, making a blog, creating iGoogle pages, and making an analysis report? Hmmmmm????

Oh, I guess I should stop complaining. I've fixed the roof in record time, replaced the "idle control valve" with the help of a Haynes auto manual, and my wife and children no longer have eyes and lungs dissengaging from their bodies.