Monday, July 4, 2005

ArcExplorer – A GIS Solution for K-12

While at NECC I stopped by the ESRI booth as one of my goals for the past several years has been to put their GIS (Geographic Information System) product ArcView to use. We have sent several classroom teachers and even one of our tech staff to training but have never gotten to the point of adding our own district data.

What I found was a new (at least to me) product – ArcExplorer – which is available for free! It doesn’t do everything that ArcView will, but it looks to be the perfect solution (and price) for schools. You can download the program and datafiles to use with it from their site.

You can enter data points by putting in longitude and latitude (ArcView will let you enter the street address) so you can plot the home address of your students or sample points for water quality tests.

This is another reason (or excuse) to purchase an inexpensive handheld GPS navigator such as the Garmin eTrex. The first reason many schools purchase handheld GPS navigators is geocachingTim Wilson posted about a geocaching workshop he attending at TNT this spring.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bernie Dodge – QuestGarden – WOW!

Being a WebQuest and Bernie Dodge fan, I couldn’t pass up his session today (Tuesday) at 11:00 am. Not only was the session better than expected, Bernie blew the doors off the creation of WebQuests with the introduction of his new tool, QuestGarden. QuestGarden is where WebQuests can be grown and nurished.

Bernie’s new tool will be available September 1st and will be free for the first year. After that the cost will be $20 for a two year subscription to help him with the cost of the servers, etc.

The tool seems to combine the advantages of a blog (ease of use, template driven), a wiki (collaborative development) and development tools (templates, themes and design patterns) built in. A number of different authors can work on the same WebQuest, and it is hosted on his server so that FTP software is not needed. He is also planning on having a graphics library so teachers can easily add graphics to their WebQuests.

Afterwards I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Bernie and Jennifer Kraft (Minot, ND) at the Reading Market (site of the old Reading Railroad). We discussed the possible implications of his new tool to create resources for our required North Dakota Studies course in grades 4 and 8. The possbile use of Flickr to house pictures based on themes (North Dakota) made sense to us.

BTW, North Dakota is the only state to have a Broderbund created version of Carmen Sandiego for their state – “Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?” – and we are always looking for electronic resources for use in our ND studies courses.

Here are my notes from his presentation.
Overcoming Obstacles to Quicker WebQuest Creation
Bernie Dodge, PhD
San Diego State University

In past introduced templates and design patterns to make creation easier. Still takes too long.

What’s the problem?
What are some partial solutions?
What’s the Grand Perfect Solution?

Blogging provides early warning radar for us. Allows us to find out what is on the mind of students and student teachers.

Brought up a blog entry on Webquest Frustrations.

Scared to publish to the Internet in case there were errors.

I’d like to take one but … takes too much time.

Survey of WebQuest Authors (WebQuest list)

N=70 and rising

Most have 10 or more years of teaching experience, not the youngest teachers.

Most time (over 4 hours) was spent of finding good web sites to link to. Overall close to 24 hours needed to create a WebQuest.

What was hard/tedious
Finding good web sites
Mechanics of making the pages
Creating navigation buttons (didn’t use the templates)
Some teachers (college level) do them in html
Making it pretty
Process steps
Aligning the evalutuation with task, standards
Uploading from home
Not losing pieces
higher-order thinking (some just don’t do it, becomes a worksheet instead of a WebQuest)

Templates in various forms
Compatibility with Dreamweaver
Library of Images
Flexibility in appearance
WYSIWYG text input
Access to appropriate links
Ability to customize existing WebQuests
Easy image inclusion
Guidance on content for each section
Easy uploading
Access to standards
Cool navigation

WebQuest Creation
Technical Knowledge
Web Editing
Tedagogical Knowledge
Higher Level Thinking
Cooperative Learning

Change the environment
Use web-based FTP (now people use Fetch or secureFTP (both platforms))
make it broswer based using PHP on the server
Upload for them
Don’t put them online at all
Change the learner
repeated practice on FTP programs
Web Editing
Change the environment
Use browser-based editor
if you don’t know about nView you should ( – what composer has become)
Use Word or Powerpoint (has potential)

Change the learner
Provided links to appropriate resources
Farm it out to the experts (librarians)

eThemes (900 of them so far)

Provide templates preselected to be purty
change the learner
ignore it &* pay a price

Pedagogical Knowledge
Change the environment
Provide templates preselected to engage higher level thinking
Design Patterns on his web site (only 5 of 70 had used a template)
Can cut in half the time needed to create a WebQuest

Authoring Tools
Instant WebQuest
sounds like “Instant Successful Marriage” :-)
TeacherWeb (
A little bit of scaffolding

Beyond Authoring Tools: Authoring Environments

Now uses PHP and mySQL since Hypercard disappeared.

Metcalfe’s Law displayed from WikiPedia

A place in which great WebQuests will be grown
Place that is scaffolded
Sharing knowledge and guidance is part of the game

Get a work space

All the steps are in a menu bar down the right hand side.
One is a link to design patterns
Showed an example on UFOs with the goal to evaluation credability of sources

Can have more than one author, so there can be collaboration

Step-by-step prompted guidance on creating a

WYSIWYG text fomratting
Ability to upload pictures and supplementeary files
Scaffolding extras built in
Based on Design Patterns
Ability to download someone else’s WebQeust into your space and tweak it
Can be soted on site or exported to any other site
Style sheets control the fonts

Now beta tested by over 300 participants
Available for all on September 1 (1st day of school in Russia)
Free for a full year – until September 1, 2006
$20 for a 2 year subscription after that

Tuesday afternoon/evening at NECC

The afternoon started out great, visiting during lunch with Bernie Dodge about his new WebQuest creation tool, QuestGarden.

After that it was off to the vendors, where there was a ton of new products, updates to exisiting products, and just good information. Too much to absorb at one time. I will have a special post just on the product info I picked up at NECC.

Then off to a session on Moodle, an open source product for producing online course content. It is a direct competitor to Blackboard and WebCT (both of which I have used) but it is free! The room was packed to overflowing, and they tried to keep late attendees out but they were willing to stand in the back of the room or sit on the floor.

I have used Moodle, and plan to use it more in the future. The local university that I teach for online requires WebCT, but ….

From there it was off to the business meeting for the ISTE SIGTC meeting (Special Interest Group for Technology Coordinators).

Then I went to a special evening event sponsored by Clarity Inovations, who are involved with the eSchool News Ed-Tech Insiders blog and the NECC aggregated blog. Thor Prichard was the host, but Steve Burt and others from Clarity were also there. Several of the Ed-Tech Inisers were there like Tim WilsonTom HoffmanWill RichardsonTim Lauer, and myself. It was a great time meeting these people face to face.

Then it was to a special Podcasting event hosted by Apple Computer at 9:00 pm. We got there early enough so we got a seat, but the room was packed and they had to organized an improptu 2nd session so that everyone that came could get to see the presentation. Imagine that many techno “nerds” in Philadelphia showing up at 9:00 pm to see a presentation on Podcasting…

During the presentation (which was Podcast) they did a quick demo of the latest version of iTunes (Mac or Windows) that can find and automatically download Podcasts of your choosing.

Tim Wilson did a short Podcast afterwards that he is going to post on his blog at Savy Technologist with some really top notch portable equipment.

Then it was a quick visit with a group of “techies” from Grand Forks, ND and then off to the hotel room to update my blogs.

Mathematics and Digital Images

During the past several weeks I have been teaching a graduate level course for elementary and middle school teachers in mathematics and technolgy at our local univeristy, Minot State U.

As we have covered digital photography I have tried to make it relevant to mathematics. We did this by taking pictures of geometric shapes, etc. (Actually it was surprising that the students did some of their homework in local evening establishments, and that they found good geometric shapes in those establishments.

One of the first sessions that I attended here at NECC was “Digital Imagery in the Mathematics Curriculum” by Brian Sharp from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

This session opened up many more uses for digital photography and video. They imported pictures into Geometer’s Sketchpad and used the measurement tools to analyze the pictures.

They took a picture of a house from the end, and then measured the slope of the roof using the line and measurement tools.

They took a picture of a long hallway and found the “vanishing point” by drawing numerous lines along the floor, ceiling, etc.

They used images of famous artwork and found the vanishing point and also “golden rectangles” in the artwork.

They had students write about the math found in these examples.

Using digital video, you can capture more than one frame from the same video (falling object) and use the tools in Geometer’s Sketchpad to make the measurements.

They are doing more sessions on digital imagery in social studies and science later today that I hope to drop in on.

There is a new book coming out in July available through ISTE titled “Teaching with Digital Images: Acquire, Analyze, Create, Communicate” by Glen Bull and Lynn Bull.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Catching Up

I wish I was as dedicated about posting to this blog as I would like. It isn’t that I don’t have the time, it is just that there is so much else to do...

As I get ready to blog from NECC in Philadelphia, I remembered a post that I meant to do after the National School Board’s Technology, Leadership and Learning conference in Denver last October.

At that conference, which was outstanding, the thing that I was most excited to bring back to my district was an Internet reading site – http ://

This is a free site for schools and parents, and it introduces reading in a fun and interesting manner. There are printed materials that can be downloaded in PDF format or ordered online.

It is one of those sites that you need to see to believe, and then wonder how in the world it can be supported when it is available for free.

My granddaughter, who just turned three, can navigate around the ABCs part of the program. She also likes to go through some of the “extras” such as the Snowman (Ten Little Snowmen Learning to Read) and the Turkey.

Other parts of the site are “Learn to Read,” “It’s Fun to Read” and “I’m Reading.” These are applicable through the second or third grade.

This is taken from the information page on the site.
The Polis-Schutz family is dedicated to education. The Polis-Schutz family is pursuing their educational goals by proudly presenting as a free on-line service to help children learn to read.
Dr. Stephen Schutz turned to the Internet and conceived a program that would be available on-line across the world for free to all children who are learning to read.
The Starfall Method promises to improve reading acquisition by using the Internet to help make it fun for the children and easy for the educators.

Monday at NECC

This posting covers a FirstClass User Group meeting and the Annual ISTE SIGTC Forum with David Warlick as the featured speaker and a panel discusion of the use of handhelds in the classroom.

FirstClass User Group – Monday – 8:00 – 4:00 pm
 had attended a full day FirstClass user group meeting about a month ago in Denver, CO. I stopped by the user group meeting this morning to check in, ask a few questions, and listen to the presentation on RAD (Rapid Application Development).

In our district we adopted FirstClass about ten years ago as our Intranet or “in-house” communication system. It has been so well accepted that I could eliminate Internet Browsers from our teacher’s desktops before I could eliminate FirstClass.

We have over 1,200 staff members with accounts, and we expect everyone to check their mail at least twice per day. It is easy to set up groups by grade level, subject area, school building, etc. I can post a message to an individual, a few staff members, a “list” of teachers from a certain group, or a “conference” or discussion area.

I hope to implement RAD next year which will allow our teachers to register for workshops or send in tech support requests by sending in a FirstClass mail request and it will go directly into a database.

If your district is looking for a communication package to allow staff members to communicate with each other, keep personal and group calendars, register for staff development workshops, etc. take a look at FirstClass.

I stopped by the ISTE SIGTC Annual Membership Forum at 12:00 pm. I attended this last year in New Orleans and found it to be very informative. I was also able to make some good contacts with “techies” from around the country.

This year David Warlick (Visionary, Speaker, and Author) was the featured speaker. Below are some of the thoughts and comments I was able to capture during his presentation.

Telling a New Story… The Role of Technology Leadership in Changing the Educational Landscape
Played a video set in the year 2015 called EPIC2014 about the state of the news industry ten years from now.

Part of being a reader in the 21st Century is being able to prove the authenticity of a source.

We were always taught to believe what we read – now we have to question the information that is found via the Internet

Current “authentic” sources can’t always be trusted. Examples are “Rathergate” and paying a news reporter to favorably promote the “No Child Left Behind” law.

Book – The World is Flat by Tomas Freedman
The parts for the author’s Dell laptop came from all over the world. Our world is going global. He says the countries tied into this network will never go to war with each other.

UPS has about 2% of the worlds GNP in the back of a truck.

Google is now handling about 1 billion searches per day.

Last year of the 2.8 million science degrees about 1.2 million were earned by Asian students in Asian universities.

The Long Tail
If you graphed the number of products sold, the “long tail” is the products who don’t sell enough to be sold in a store, but now can be sold over the Internet.
Some music is being sold that wouldn’t ever be produced by a music lable.

Students need to be shown how to produce content, not just read content.


Will Richardson, top educational blogger – weblogg-ed – David Warlick reads his blog every day.

RSS feeds – designed for computer consumption – can use Bloglines to read the RSS feed.

David Warlick uses NewsFire to read RSS feeds. BTW – David is using a Mac running OS X for his presentation.

New York Times is publishing some of their content through RSS feeds. David simply dragged a “chicklet” from the New York Times to his NewsFire reader.

Teach42 Podcast – first educator to Podcast site for Teach42 – he has a catagory for RSS – David dragged the “chicklet” to his NewsFire reader to follow new RSS sites that are added to the list.

David Warlick’s Wiki is at and all the links from his presentation can be found there.

Even if there is no reason, nod your heads, gives me energy.

Landmarks RSS News Feeds Generator

Content (information) is become a conversation rather than a product.

Definition of being a reader must change. Defination of being a consumer must change.

“Classroom Blogging – A teacher’s Guide to the Blogssphere” was available 3 hours after he was done with it. If you purchase it, they print it and send it to you. If he finds an error he uploads the corrected version and he has the 2nd Edition just that quick.

Student loses points if they can’t prove something they used is true. Student should be able to ask the teacher to prove something is true.

The Flynn Effect
Our IQ rose 17 points between 1947 and 2001
It is genetic – why are we becoming smarter? It’s technology, games, gadgets

Pickmans or Pitmans (game) – kids can train them to do different things

In 2002 – Nintndo invested $140,000,000 in R&D, our government invested half as much.

Picture of David’s Son – iPod, XBox, headhphone talking to others that he collaborates with in Internet game, chatting on keyboard with others in the game, plus IM with other friends around time. We see technology, he sees it as information and communication.

Handheld Panel
Holding Hands: How to Use, Maintain and Mangae HHC in Schools

Elliot Solloway, Professor, U of Michigan
1:1 Works (handhelds or laptops)
Each child needs their own pencil
Not enough money to buy laptops for every child, much less support them
Buy handhelds and keyboards for them

Kathy Norris, Professor, U of North Texas
brings the teacher teacher perspective
If it doesn’t work for the teachers, students won’t see it
Start with your existing curriculum
Writing is an obvious place to start
In the old days thought teachers would program in BASIC to write own curriculum
success where principal is supportive and teachers are highly collaborative with each other.
ePaper & ePencil
Why couldn’t we sustain LOGO? Not a direct link to the curriculum
Handhelds can link directly to the curriculum

Dave Rafferty – Midwest Computing Solutions
Recently 3 years with Palm
Now on technical side
Streaming video, streaming audio is here now

Robin Ellis – Quakertown Community School District, Quakertown, PA
Pilot project at elementary level
Every child has a handheld
Size of the screen is an adult issue, not a child issue
Zire 75

Chris Chamuris – Pennridge School District, Perkasie, PA
Group of teachers came to him
Purchased small set for MS Science
Now 4 labs of 20 on a cart – shared model
Used as mini-laptops
Transfer using “documents to go”
Moved to elementary level – beginning the journey
Software for heart monitoring in physical education

Carol Teiteleman – Bucks County School District, Doylestown, PA
Working across the state of Pennsylvania
As the principal goes, so goes the school
Put them into the principals hands
Teachers asking for programs to do “such and such”
Roving sets that go from school to school
Seeing the need for 1:1 – then they will use them differently
That which will change the life of a child can be held in a hand ???
Quote by “Elliot Solloway”
Threshhold to using handhelds much lower

Moderator – Camilla Gagliolo, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, VA
Brought handhelds in where they could be used
Primary grades in classroom all day long
Writers workshop – daily – brainstorming and drafts
Use Inspiration for Palm or Mac
Use FreeWrite?
Started with the teachers and gave them the assessment tools, got them excited
Video of students – using Palms with keyboards
Student: Can use it in the room, don’t have to save and quit because someone else is coming in.

During the Q&A session I have my iPod capturing the discussion and will post the summary next week.

Go Observe – principals – Elliot
Principal may not carry laptop but may carry Palm – Dave

Keynote – 5:45 pm – David Weinberger

7:00 Opening Reception

Thursday, May 26, 2005

High School Graduation to be Webcast

There are many examples of live video streaming and webcasts being done by large companies. A good example would be Steve Jobs keynotes at MacWorld which are watched live around the world.

There are also examples of live video streaming being done by individuals and K-12 schools that are usually watched by one or two people at a time. In our district we have a server specifically set up to provide video streams – check out a VR movie done by a member of our tech department from the inside of an earthen lodge similar to one that Sacagawea would have been raised in.

The task becomes more difficult when you want to produce a live video stream that will be watched by hundreds of people at one time. The drain on the server and bandwidth becomes an issue as each viewer has their own connection and dedicated bandwidth.

Our school district, with the help of the technology department from our local university, tackled this project the spring after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. We have three schools on our local air force base and many parents of graduating seniors were deployed overseas. The first year we maxed out a 10 MB connection and had people watching from Iraq, aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as relatives from around the United States.

This Sunday, May 29, at 2:00 CST we will be broadcasting the 2005 Minot High School Graduation from the Minot State University Dome. A link on on our district web site will go live around 1:30 pm.

The video feed that is used for the webcast is also broadcast on the local Public Access Channel.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

A birthday Celebration!

Looking for a reason to have a birthday party? How about one with educational ties?

This Friday, February 11, is the 200th Birthday of Sacagawea’s babyJean Baptiste Charbonneau. The baby, also known as Pomp, was born at Fort Mandan in North Dakota. This is where Lewis and Clarkwintered during the Corps of Discovery’s journey to the Pacific Ocean.
f you are following the journey of the Corps of Discovery, you have stalled in North Dakota. Lewis and Clark spent more time in North Dakota (since they wintered here) than in any other state during their journey. During the past several years we have been putting together resources dealing with the Corps of Discovery journey, specifically the time spent in North Dakota.

We brought Bernie Dodge to Minot, ND to do a week long workshop onWebQuests. We concentrated on making webquests dealing with the Corps of Discovery’s Journey. What an experience, having Bernie here for a full week working directly with a group of 20 technology leaders!

During a technology conference several years ago the banquet speaker was Amy Mosset. Amy is a Mandan-Hidatsa member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and a nationally recognized scholar, consultant, and cultural presenter on the life of Sakakawea. She talked about “networking” 200 years ago – to a bunch of “techies” who thought you needed wires to network. Amy explained that the Mandan area was the central hub for information among the Native American tribes. Tribes from the Great Lakes, the Great Plains and the Rockies traveled to this area to trade. Artifacts that Lewis and Clark traded while at Fort Mandan beat them to the Pacific Ocean!
f you or your students are wondering about the weather conditions in North Dakota during the winter, they can check one of three weather stations that we have in our school district at Ramstad Middle School,Memorial Middle School, and Central Campus High School.

You can view a VR movie of Fort Mandan or a replica of a earthen lodge that Sacagawea would have lived in at Knife River Indian Village. The VR movie of the earthen lodge was done by a member of our technology staff.

A few other resources dealing with Pomp’s birthday:

Fort Mandan’s Birthday Celebration and a birthday party at Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, Midland, Michigan.

Chris Webb, another member of our technology staff, created VR movies of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, ND.

I have “furled” my Lewis & Clark resources (select a filter for “Lewis & Clark.”) and I will be adding to them periodically. If you have any good resources to be included please drop me a note.

Car 54 Where Are You?

Google has just announce a new map resource – Google Maps. It can be found on their “technology playground” page where they have project prototypes that are not quite ready for “prime time.”

At first glance it seems to be easier to use than MapQuestMapBlastand Yahoo! Maps.
It seems to be much easier to navigate, allowing you to drag the map with your mouse or navigate by clicking on the arrows or zoom control.

They do have the maps tied into business locations, but since they are providing this for free, they have to make money somewhere :-)
f you only think that Google is a search engine, click on their “more>>” link to get to their Google Services page. There you will find other resources such as Blogger.comPicassa Photo Organizer(Windows only), and Keyhole (provides 3D images of our planet).

BTW – in case you are not familiar with “Car 54 Where Are You?” it was a TV show back in the 60’s