I enjoy reading and watching Dan Meyer’s blog. He is a truly innovative teacher and I am constantly sending his material to our math department. Yesterday, he posted a recent presentation to teachers about Powerpoint and how to use it successfully. Throughout the presentation he also mentions a number of lessons from his class – a great demonstration on how visual cues can capture the attention of all. Click here for the Quicktime version.
Just a quick post about 2 new tools that came up this week:
Google Sites – Google’s answer to wikispaces. I haven’t used it yet but it seems to have many of the same features of wikispaces and I imagine in plays nicely with the other Google Apps.
Jottit - An easy way to publish on the web. Wiki-like but a much more simplified interface. Seems to be good for text but you do have to add markups to add photos and formatting.
I’ll give these a try – I’m always game for new tools.
I haven’t had much time to write these days. I’ve been knee-deep in preparing for the return of faculty (and students). Lots of technical work – hanging projectors, reimaging computers, turning over databases. Not really the most stimulating work but I have had a lot of time to think. I’ve been focusing on our upcoming retreat for Upper School faculty. The form of the day has changed slightly but the approach is the same — get faculty talking about what makes good teaching and how can web 2.0 tools help promote it. The day will be mostly conversational using three different modes – live f2f conversation, online chat, and blog/reflection. We will use these conversations to kick-off a “good teaching” blog which we hope faculty will contribute to throughout the year. We will also use a wiki to archive our chats, notes, and other resources from our retreat.
I am looking forward to the day (Monday). I think it’s a good way to start the year. The book we read (Ken Bain’s, What the Best College Teachers Do) was interesting and affirming. I think it will really help drive the tone and content of the conversation. I do wonder whether there will be enough of us with knowledge about these communication/web 2.0 tools to talk about them and get others interested in using them to promote “good teaching”.
Introducing technology to teachers in this way is unique. We have tried to do skill workshops with departments and small groups of faculty, but only the interested attend. If we require everyone to attend, there are many that just don’t get it – too abstract. In this model, we are trying to get to faculty through the idea of best practice. Will they go for it? Not sure, time will tell. But my guess is that we may intrigue some members that were not interested by the skills based workshops.
I am interested in everyone’s posts about their professional development experiences at the beginning of the school year – Jeff U., Karl F., Stephanie S., just to name a few. We all are working on something a little different but our message seems to be the same – “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning”. I hope this is a good start to the year for everyone and I hope little by little we get our message out.
In talking with a colleague from Fessenden School, I learned about Phanfare – an online, photo-storage site that is free (yes, free) for schools. Not only do they host photos, but also video – and the storage is UNLIMITED. WOW. It also provides RSS feeds that you can pull into your existing website. Here are some more specs from the website:
Online Album Features
- Unlimited storage
- No advertising on albums
- No requirement for viewers of your online albums to join Phanfare
- Gorgeous web slideshows with photos and videos. See a sample
- Customizable album styles and colors
- Downloadable screensaver turns any computer into a digital picture frame
- Full size images stored and available for download
- Personal URL at phanfare
- Support for custom domain names
- Integrated purchase of prints, albums, mugs and more.
- Web slideshows with your own music from iTunes
- Slideshows can be downloaded and played offline
- Image and video hosting for Ebay, blogs, forums and other websites
- Optional password protection
- RSS Feeds of Albums: Friends can add your album to their MyYahoo and MyMSN Page
- Upload pictures from camera cell phones
- Support for MPEG, AVI and QuickTime (MOV) movies.
- Video clips up to 2GB in size and 10 minutes in length.
- Videos converted to Flash format for greater viewing compatibility
I’m checking it out further, but it seems like it could be quite useful for us as a storage solution. Has anyone used this?