Tuesday, May 30, 2006

After ten years… It still might work!

I should be doing other work. However, I have an overwhelming urge to tell this story. I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Web 2.0 the past several months and the stories I read are fascinating. They also remind me of a project a former colleague and I once pulled off some ten years ago.

Allow me to set the stage for you. The year was 1995 and I was teaching Technology Life Careers (TLC) at Peoria Elementary. My student population was the entire 7th and 8th grade and I saw all the students 4 days of a six-day rotation. (Please don’t ask me to explain how that works.) My lab consisted of 33 Macintosh computers. Most of these machines were the little Classic II (Still one of my all time favorite computers) I had two LC 580’s and one LC 575. The lab was networked with phone net connectors to a Digicard network.

During a Professional Development day, all the TLC teachers were required to attend a workshop at the Cholla Training Center. (This also happens to be where I work today.) Ladd Bausch introduced all of us to a Bulletin Board application called First Class. (http://www.firstclass.com/) This system allowed eight (yes 8) people to connect to the Bulletin Board system using a dial-up phone modem. Once connected users could participate in various dissuasion boards, collaborate on projects, transfer files and even email each other. Talk about cool!

During this workshop, I became very excited about the ability to communicate with people on another campus using a computer. (Now, stop laughing, this was really cool in 1995.) A few days later, another TLC teacher and I were having a phone conversation about the workshop we had attended. Mary was just as excited about this new technology as I was so we agreed to take a day off from our classrooms and write a new project; a project that would require our students to work together to solve a problem.

You will need to forgive my memory, as I don’t recall the details of each scenario. I will however explain our process.

We began by creating four specific scenarios to be solved in a team approach. Each team consisted of eight students, four at my campus and four at Mary’s. We also created an artificial communication problem. For example, one team worked in the United States and the other worked in New Zealand. Because of the time shift, they would not be able to communicate via the phone. We did allow them to use the mail, however the scenarios did have a deadline to meet and international mail packages took 5 days to deliver. (In district mail was over night, but we would hold the package ourselves to make the project more realistic.) As you can see, we had created a communication nightmare for the students to navigate. Enter First Class.

Using the email feature of the First Class Bulletin Board System, the students were able to send Microsoft Works 3.0 documents to each other. (Technical Issue – we only had one computer with a modem and at that time and the students didn’t have personal accounts.) At the beginning of each class, one of the students would log onto the system, (using a classroom account) download and print each teams email. The teams would then work on the project during the class. Towards the end of the hour, one student from each team would quickly type up a status report to send back to the other team again using First Class. The entire project took 3 weeks to complete and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable units I ever taught. Our students not only worked together to solve a problem, they worked with students they did not know and in most cases, these students never met in high school. In many ways that project in 1995 resembled Terry Freedman’s recent project “Coming of Age: An introduction to the new worldwide web” (See my blog entry http://shawnwheeler.blogspot.com/2006/05/coming-of-age-introduction-to-new.html)

Consider for a moment the communication tools we have at our disposal today. Our students have access to web pages, blogs, text messaging, video conferencing, VOIP, SKYPE, email etc… With these tools, there is no reason we cannot have our students participating in similar assignments. Only this time…. Let’s have them work with students who really live in a different part of the world.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Dad I need an iPod for school

Seven months ago, I would have thought the statement “Dad, I need an iPod for school would have been absurd. Today I would say it is almost believable. Another few years, an iPod may be as standard as pencil and paper. I know… you are thinking to yourself how in the world could a device that plays music be used in my child’s education. Stick with me.

Late October of 2005, I purchased my first iPod. I wanted to learn about podcasting and thought to understand the concept fully; I needed to have an iPod. I further justified the expense of the iPod by not having to purchase a new stereo for my truck. When my iPod arrived, I quickly downloaded all my music to my shiny new video iPod. Next, I subscribed to several podcast. Over the next several weeks, I discovered I was listening to more podcast than music. What a strange phenomenon. During one of the podcast I learned about Audible.com, (http://www.audible.com) I thought to myself I would love to read The World is Flat again but don’t have the time to read it, I did however, have several hours each week driving in my truck so listening to the book made perfect sense.

Yesterday, I had several errands to run and several podcast to listen too. In fact on was a four part series by David Warlick. As the final podcast concluded, I was pulling into my driveway. I thought to myself that I had just turned an hour of what could have been non-productive time into an opportunity to learn.

Given the exploding popularity of podcasting in general and the fact that many early adopting educators are using podcasting in there classrooms, your student may never load music on their iPod. Okay, that is a little far fetched, but using an iPod to listen to a class assignment is on its way to being the norm. Hey, don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself. Jump on iTunes and look at the Education genre or the Education Podcast Network. (http://www.epnweb.org)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wicked Cool Podcast Display

Every now and then, you stumble across a software application that is just SLICK. Yesterday I came across another one by way of an email sent to me. My friend Ladd sent a link to Web Jukebox 4.1 by CoffeeCup software. While CoffeeCup software is not new to me it has been a number of years since I last visited their site. When the page loaded, I learn their developers have been busy designing a plethora of interesting applications. Check it out. (http://www.coffeecup.com)

Jukebox is a music player for your web site. However, it does something Windows Media Player only dreams to do. Jukebox allows you to setup a play list within the player. In addition, Jukebox contains over 20 skins for your web site. I happen to choose the white iPod for the Adventures in Podcasting site. (

While this program is not free, it is certainly worth the $34.00 investment. If you are more interested in try before you buy, you may download a 21-day trial version.

My experience with the softare…
After downloading the trial version, I spent about twenty minutes creating the code to put on my site. (I had viewed the on-line tutorial before downloading.) This process actually involves selecting the MP3 files you wish to play on your site. Once the files are loaded into your play list, you have the option to change the order, add additional files or delete a file inadvertently loaded. (I made this mistake. ) Once I was happy with the order of the files, it is time to choose the skin. Jukebox offers 20 but I quickly grabbed the iPod skin. Clicking the preview button allowed me to view my creation. Cool, it looked cool so I returned to the software and clicked the save icon. At this point I could have simply uploaded files to my server using the built in up loader. Then paste in the player code into my web page. However… In my case, the MP3 files I wanted to play in this tool had previously been published to the web and uploading another set of Adventures in Podcasting episodes seemed silly.

Jukebox creates three files and folder when it saves the project. The folder contains images and the MP3 files. The other three files are an SWF file, an HTML file and an XML file. Remembering what Ladd taught me about building web pages from code years before, I opened XML file and changed the path to the MP3 files. Next, I made a few changes to the HTML file to include the text now on the page and the “NEW” image. With all the changes made, I uploaded the files minus the MP3 files to my website then placed the HTML code on the Adventures in Podcasting page. Wahoo, it looked cool and my links worked.

In the end, I found this software to be very slick. While I did tinker with the XML and HTML code, that was for my personal needs. Out of the box, this software works quite well and it is very easy to use. Don’t take my word for it, give it a try.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Maintaining your perspective through the perspective of the other person…

The other day I was trading emails with two friends Peggy George and Terry Freedman. (http://www.terry-freedman.org.uk/index.php) Shockingly (heavy sarcasm) we were writing about technology and education. This particular day we were focused on encouraging others to embrace change and look at the value in new technologies. During the course of our email, I vented a current frustration I was feeling in my organization. Terry kindly pointed out a simple but genius point. When you desire to persuade a person to see value in what you are doing, you must look at the world from their perspective and show them how your idea, product etc will help them solve a problem they are experiencing.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One person at a time…

I have often said in my podcast, Adventures in Podcasting (http://staffweb.peoriaud.k12.az.us/shawn_wheeler/podcast) that we make change happen one person at a time. Tonight, while trying to catch up on my email, I came across from Amy Chayefsky (http://www.musd20.org/Amy/1_Digital_Divide.htm). Amy’s email stated she went to Radio Shack on the way home form the conference and purchased an Olympus Digital Recorder. A few hours later, her first podcast was online.

I love this quote. “You were soooo right, the technology is rather low and intuitive. It’s where we can take it that makes it an awesome tool.”

Way to go Amy!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Coming of Age: An introduction to the new worldwide web

Coming of Age: An introduction to the new worldwide web

A collaborative venture between 14 people from the USA, Canada and the UK and

Recently I have been involved in an amazing and wonderful experience. Fourteen
people from various corners of the globe have come together to create a Web 2.0
book for educators. The process of how this book was created was one of the most
fascinating events I have been involved in. However, that is the topic for
another entry. Today... let's stay focused. <Smile>

Thanks to Terry Freedman and the merry band of contributors, this 92 page PDF
file is available for you to read, enjoy and share with your friends an
colleges. Take a look at the heading in this book below.

These are the main headings in the book (which is over 90
pages long):

  • Preliminary Information

  • The Contributors: Quick Reference Guide

  • Introduction

  • Glossary Of Terms Used

  • Book Review: Redefining Literacy For The 2St Century

  • Effective E-Learning Through Collaboration

  • What Are Rss Feeds And Why Haven’T I Heard About
    It?(Rss Feeds From An Educator’S Perspective)

  • Blogging: Shift Of Control

  • Photo-Sharing And Clip-Art

  • Factoring Web Logs To Their Fundamentals

  • Virtual Support Via The Blogosphere

  • The International Edublog Awards

  • Blogs You Must Read!

  • Elgg And Blogging In Primary Education

  • Using Blogs In School

  • Thinking About Creativity, Thinking About Blogs!

  • Book Review: Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’S Guide To
    The Blogosphere

  • Book Review: New Tools For Learning

  • Diary Of A Potential Podcasting Junkie

  • Finding Good Podcasts

  • Podcasting Resources

  • Podcasting

  • Finding And Subscribing To A Podcast Via Itunes

  • Obtaining Information About A Podcast In Itunes

  • Giving Students A Second Listen

  • Podcasting: A Review Of Recording Devices

  • Other Useful Websites

  • Create An Rss Feed For Your Podcast

  • List Your Podcast And Find Others’

  • Podcasting And Wikis

  • Recording A Podcast On A Computer

  • Uses Of Podcasting In Schools

  • Video Blogging: Terry Freedman Interviews Paul Knight

  • Video Blogging In Schools

  • Wikis: An Introduction

  • Wikipedia Vs Britannica

  • Setting Up A Wiki

  • Wikiville: An Interview With John Bidder

  • Social Bookmarking

  • Forums, Instant Messaging And Other Ways To

Guide to the contributors.

There is a fuller biography of the contributors at the
beginning of their articles.

Miles Berry

Miles is a deputy headteacher in an English primary school, a Moodle and
Elgg enthusiast and the winner of a best practice award. He also gives keynote
presentations to conferences. See


John Bidder

John is the Head of Curriculum ICT strategy in Bolton, England, and gives
keynote presentations about best practice. See


Mechelle De Craene

Mechelle is a special education teacher in Florida and undertakes research
in the development of educational technology skills in children, and gives
presentations on her findings at internatoinal conferences. See


John Evans

John Evans is principal of St. Fran├žois Xavier Community School in St. Fran├žois
Xavier, Manitoba, Canada, and gives conference presentations on the subject of
teacher wellness. See


Peter Ford

Peter Ford is a teacher and educational consultant based in Nottingham in the
UK, spcialising in the use of internet technologies to enhance teaching and
learning. See


Terry Freedman (Ed)

Terry is an educationalist who provides practical and strategic consultancy
services to educational institutions, and provides a range of subscription-based
services. See


Josie Fraser

Based in England, Josie is an educational technologist and works as a freelance
consultant and speaker, mainly around emerging technologies and staff
development. See


Steve Lee

Steve Lee is a Senior Software Developer, who is uses various techniques for
customising ‘off-the-shelf’ software to meet individual accessibility needs. He
is also interested in how Open Collaborative Communities can help and involve
disabled people. See


Ewan McIntosh

Ewan is the Development Officer for the Modern Languages Virtual Environment, a
pilot programme for the Scottish Schools Digital Network. He also speaks
internationally about using Web 2.0 tools in education and educational
management. See


Alan November

Alan November is an international leader in education technology, and runs the
annual Building Learning Communities Summer Conference in Boston, USA. See


Chris Smith

Based in Thailand, Chris runs a consultancy designed to offer support to
International Schools across S.E. Asia, especially in the area of “ICT Across
the Curriculum, and maintains an internationally-acclaimed website. See


Dai Thomas

Dai is Director of ICT at Warden Park Specialist School in West Sussex and a
research Fellow of Mirandanet. See


David Warlick

David is an internationnaly-renowned writer, blogger and Podcaster who provides
consulting and public speaking services to education associations and agencies
around the world. See


Shawn Wheeler

Shawn is the Director of IMT – Services & Training for the Peoria Unified School
District in Glendale, Arizona, and the founder of Adventures in Podcasting. See


Ready to download Coming of Age: An introduction to the new
worldwide web? Click this image.