Instructional Technology

Embedding technology into instruction in a public school system.

Trying a new technology….

April 30, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Trying a new technology. I’m testing out the Jott software to see if it works to post the blogs. Here is my first test. listen

Powered by Jott

Maximizing the impact

November 6, 2007 by · No Comments · Blogroll

A new paper was published yesterday about where our country needs to be in technology.

Go here and read it:

Who does what, when, and why?

November 6, 2007 by · 1 Comment · Blogroll

I’ve been working with the Library Information Specialists in my district quite a bit… and I hear the same thing from them. They just don’t have time.

What good is all the cool technological gizmos when they are having to spend so much of their time cataloging, checking-in, checking-out, repairing books, doing extra duties and teaching classes. Today I visited a training that is taking place with 60 of our most technically advanced LISs and heard this thought stated yet again. In our district we are planning on having the LIS be the pivotal person on the building level to implement new technologies (modeling for teachers, assisting teachers, and teaching technology standards to the students.) It seems like another case of passing the buck however because the technology standards were writted with no one specified to teach them or grade them or assess them.

Not to mention the hardware deployment we are currently tackling. We’ve passed out 60+ laptops and CPS chalkboards without a plan as to what will be done with them over the summer, or who has ultimate responsibility over the equipment – the school or the district. During a technology department meeting last week, the technicians stated that the equipment, once deployed was the responsibility of the school. But today the Director of Library Services stated that the equipment would be inventoried by the technology department.

It will be interesting to see how it all ends up…

It seems like we are in a reactive state as opposed to being PROactive.

eLearning to teach your teachers

October 11, 2007 by · No Comments · eLearning, useful software

Budget time, crunch time, wishing and hoping time. 

 This is the first time I’ve worked on a district level budget, and we’re doing it for a brand new department in our district. 

As part of a new program we need to:

  • Justify the need for our continuing existence.
  • Justify the need to expand our department (5 coaches, 148 schools, 5,000 teachers, 60% or more of them at a beginning or novice proficiency with using technology)
  • Research programs and then justify their need to help us in our mission of bringing all our teachers up to speed in the shortest amount of time possible.
  • Research new hardware and justify it also.
  • Try to carve out enough money to get our job done.

As such, I see many advantages to the eLearning trend, which gives users the ability to access classes and training online in their own time. 

I’m looking at a few software providers that have programs to author online courses and Learning Management Systems.  I’ve also looked at a few ready-made programs that we could purchase for subscription. 

I’m wondering which is really more cost effective: paying the salary of one or two people to design online course content for our teachers that is specific to the needs of our district and our standards?  Or, is it better in the long run to purchase a program that is already created and pay the fees per user?

Has your district also gone through this process?  What were your choices and their determining factors?

Put a teacher tube video in your power point and stuff it

October 5, 2007 by · No Comments · Direction Sheets, Video

To get a pdf version of my instruction sheet (complete with screen shots) to use as you need it, click on the directions below and the document will appear!

First find a video that fits your needs. Be sure to completely watch any video before using it with students.Now you will be able to put movies in your power points!

Once you have downloaded the file, you will need to go to and follow the steps to convert the file to one your computer recognizes.  I chose “wmv”

Once your file is converted it will be sent to your email.  You will need to go back to the ZamZar site and SAVE the converted file.  You will only have 24 hours to save the file from ZamZar.

Once the movie is downloaded, converted, and saved in a file you can successfully insert it into a power point presentation.  Choose the “Insert” tab and then click on “Insert Movie.”  Choose “from file” and browse until you find the converted movie file.  Double click on the title of your movie and it will be inserted into the power point presentation.  You can choose if you want to click the movie to play it, or have it start automaticall when that slide appears. 


If the movie only has audio and no sound, try a different format.  My first try took 4 different conversions until I found the right one.

May I please have a pb & wiki?

October 3, 2007 by · No Comments · useful programs, web 2.0, wiki

The creative team at PB Wiki is made up of my type of people.  They created a terrific program and have fun with it.  If you have no idea what a wiki is, then check out my earlier post on wiki spaces.  For those in the know, PB wiki is a great FREE wiki provider. 

They have recently taken all adds off of educator wikis and have a terrific community sharing resources and materials for anyone wishing to teach others about the wonders of the wiki “webolution.”  Earlier this week I signed up for a presenter’s pack which included: a free t-shirt, a PB wiki power point that is well done and editable, and loads of other hand-outs and resources that will help me train those in my district that are unfamiliar with web 2.0 tools like wikis.

Thank you my peanut-buttery wiki pals, you’ve made my life simpler!

Wiki Spaces

September 28, 2007 by · No Comments · useful programs

 Wiki Spaces is a free wiki hosting site.  We used it to plan our meetings, write lists of ideas for trainings, create our wish list for supplies, and I’m thinking of authoring a potluck luncheon with it too!  Potluck aside, this is a seriously simple way to get ideas going among a group of people that may not be able to get together in real space, but with a wiki they can get together in cyberspace.

Other uses for wiki spaces:

  • classroom site to share information and post homework
  • classroom site for discussion, each student can post their thoughts
  • school site to post faculty opinions
  • school site to share resources and communicate committee progress
  • department sites to plan and research
  • research repository that can be accessed from any location

Wiki’s are fun to play with and have a lot of practical purposes.

The Wiki Spaces site is very user friendly and has simple functions.  It’s not too fancy which is a bonus for teachers who just want the basics.

Not sure what a wiki is?  Go to this site

Happy Wiki-ing!

To get your free wiki at wikispaces go to:

SchoolKit, PdPoint, EdClass and all that Jazz

September 22, 2007 by · No Comments · integration lessons, useful programs

SchoolKiT is a web based technology integration program with a lot to offer.  SchoolKit has two sections which we are testing in our demonstration schools; student lessons with technology integration and teacher lessons on applicable uses of technology for their classroom.  ScoolKiT also has a program called tech-steps which our district chose not to use.

The lessons on EdClass are for students.  Teachers can chose a lesson to work on as a class, or create a student log-in for independent work.  The user  simply chooses a lesson, opens up a “book” which contains step-by-step directions for completing the project.  Everything the user needs is contained in the book, templates and action buttons which will automatically open the neccessary programs while keeping the instruction book open on the side.  Users are then able to read and follow the directions without awkward toggling between windows.

The teacher lessons in PdPoint are interesting and based on practical projects to be used with students.  The method is the same as for EdClass, users open a book that contains everything they need to complete the lesson, and every lesson is based on common programs that are used to create teacher materials (spreadsheets, power-point, paint programs).  There are three types of classes available, self-paced books, anytime workshops, and instructor-led classes.  There is a feature for creating a personal technology professional development plan with a tracking tool to help the user manage their personal goals in developing 21st Century Skills.  They even have an option to apply for academic credit through several universities for the instructor-led classes.

I worked with PdPoint extensively before our training schedules became more rigorous and limited my time to complete the books.  I like School Kit’s straight forward simple directions and clear use of technology to imrove students and teachers proficiency with 21st Century Skills.  There is a goodly amount of lessons to browse on different levels and subject areas.

 The one draw-back for our use was that we are not at the point where our teachers only need help embedding technology into their classroom.  I wish that were the case, but we are struggling with the basics of getting teachers to become friends with their computers and become more proficient in their personal use of technology.  This system is great if you are trying to break your school out of the “power-point rut” and offer them ready made lessons in an easily digestible format. 


September 19, 2007 by · No Comments · useful software

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways:

1. You create simple movies of my movements on the computer screen.

2. You let me add sound via a microphone so that my audience may have verbal instructions and the opportunity to appreciate the melodious sound of my voice.

3. You impart instant understanding and world peace.

 Well, two outta three ain’t bad.

Captivate is a software program that is simple to use.  In one hour we were able to install it and start recording files of our movements on the computer screen.  First we had a lot of fun, then we got down to the nitty-gritty of creating something practical for our teachers.  Our district has a help button on the computer desktop that one of our technicians created.  It gives end users the ability to notify the I.T. department of technical difficulties.  It’s a wonderful tool, chock full of useful links.

But how do we get our not-so-savvy computer users comfortable with the application and help them understand it’s use? 

Instructional sheets are a super idea, but teachers don’t read their mail.

Instructional emails are good, except we have a large population of teachers that don’t know how to check their mail, and others who don’t read their mail.

Going door-to-door and showing teachers would be fabulous, except we are but a simple band of five small technology coaches in a district of 140 schools.

However with Captivate, we can create a bank of common trainings and post them on a website, wiki, or blog and then teach teachers how to click and learn!

 I’ll have to share some here on the blog once we really get going.