Entries in blogging (6)


Wesleyan Podcast

Wesleyan PodcastWesleyan Academy has posted the first two episodes of its podcast! The school is on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These first episodes were written and spoken by fourth graders. They share segments about several topics they have learned about this school year.

To prepare for their podcast, the students listened to various podcasts from elementary students. They even sent video feedback to some podcasters. I'd love for you or your students to listen and leave a comment on the podcast's blog--it would mean so much to these budding podcasters.

By the way, I used the free Blogger.com service to publish the Wesleyan Podcast. Blogger works in combination with Feedburner.com to create a podcast feed that works really well in iTunes. Unfortunately, these services do not host the audio files themselves. For that, I used my regular web hosting service. Read more about how to Publish with Blogger and Feedburner.

Another item podcasters may be interested in is the Subscribe with iTunes link I placed on the page. I simply replaced the http at the beginning of the feed's address with itpc. When clicked, an itpc link automatically opens iTunes and subscribes to the podcast. Yup, just one click and iTunes starts downloading the latest episode and will download future episodes. The podcast doesn't even have to be submitted to the iTunes Store for this method to work. If a podcast has been submitted to the iTunes Store, you can link to its iTunes details page using these directions.

But, I don't want to stress the techie part of all of this. The important piece is that students knew they were producing something special when they started taking notes and writing scripts. The fourth graders weren't focused on the technology; they were concentrating on their audience and purpose. They made this podcast for other students, so if you get a chance, have a student you know listen and comment on the Wesleyan Podcast blog!

Student Recording with Tony Vincent


10 Years Later: Cheaper, Easier

I wrote an article titled 10 Years Later: Cheaper, Easier for February's StarTeaching Features for Teachers. Here it is:

In 1998 not many people could publish on the World Wide Web. Sure, big companies like Yahoo! and CNN had websites. But, the typical Internet citizen was limited to being a consumer of the Web. As a fifth grade teacher at the time, I was really excited about the possibilities of students distributing their work online. Before I had access to a classroom website I had students write book reviews and post them on Amazon.com. Students did indeed love publishing on the World Wide Web. They took their work more seriously because they weren't writing book reviews for only the teacher's eyes--they had a real-world purpose for writing.

Eventually my school district made it possible for me to have a classroom site. My students named it Planet 5th. Planet 5th was full of student writing, artwork, photos, and videos. In fact, my students and I started to think of our classroom as a Web publishing organization. We took great pride in building Planet 5th over the course of the school year.

One of my favorite year-long projects was The Daily Planet. It was our daily log of the day's events, written by a student who was the "roving reporter" for the day. The reporter's job was to write an article about that day's activities and learning. Each of my students were fortunate enough to have a Palm handheld computer with attachable keyboard so the reporter could type the article at school or at home. The next day I would get the reporter's article off the handheld and put it up on Planet 5th. I would also include photos the reporter took with a digital camera. Students loved being the roving reporter and their writing certainly improved over the course of the school year.

My fifth graders left with Planet 5th on a CD-ROM, giving them a evidence of their learning and preserving memories of their final year in elementary school. Their collection of work became a digital portfolio and each student made a page for Planet 5th to show their growth as a learner.

As much as students loved Planet 5th, they loved those Palm handhelds even more. We began using them in 2001. At that time, handhelds did not have Wi-Fi (and schools did not have wireless networks). We used the handhelds primarily for drill and practice activities, word processing, and organization. Without Internet access, the uses for the handhelds were somewhat limited.

Fast forward ten years to 2008. While I have left my own classroom to empower students and teachers with technology as an independent consultant, I am thrilled that my vision of technology in the classroom has become much easier to realize for typical teachers.

The Web has moved from being published only by companies to everyone having the ability to be online content producers. Anyone can post a video to YouTube, a podcast to iTunes, or a blog on Blogger. In fact, blogging has made the roving reporter activity a manageable one in many classrooms. Unlike years ago, blog services make publishing a snap. No knowledge of Dreamweaver, HTML, or FTP is required.

Today, almost all handheld and portable devices are Wi-Fi enabled. With access to the Internet, these devices can get to those online videos, podcasts, and blogs. And for about the same price paid for our Palm handhelds in 2001, schools can buy a complete laptop. The ASUS Eee PC and the XO are two in the growing list of ultra-small and ultra affordable laptops. Additionally, according to Apple, the iPod touch is becoming a "mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform." A bevy of applications are on their way for the iPod touch and there's no denying it has a powerful Web browser. And we mustn't forget handheld computers from the likes of Palm and HP are packing lots of useful features nowadays.

There's no denying the Internet is essential for teaching and learning. It's important that every student can access the information, tools, and social interactions the Web offers. I'm pleased that 2008 brings affordable, portable computers so the Internet can be in the hands of students. I want to see more schools invite these devices into their doors with the goal of each and every student having the educational benefits of a computer and the Web. An extraordinary classroom experience can be a reality for teachers and students!


A Slightly Different Take on "Roving Reporter"

Flash Drive, Camera, & BatteriesI often speak about the Rover Reporter activity from my fifth grade classroom. One student each day was assigned to be the reporter. That student took photos and wrote an article about the day on his or her handheld. I would publish the photos and article the very next day on The Daily Planet web page. Read more about this activity in an article I wrote and at Education World.

Samiekay Hartney, a fifth grade teacher from Granite Falls, Washington, recently wrote me:

I took your blogging and podcasting classes at the NCCE conference. I used your Daily Planet idea to get the kids excited to personalize our blog. Instead we came up with a class mascot who has a digital camera, flash drive and extra batteries in a backpack he travels in. He is currently visiting the kids’ homes having a blast. I feel this is strengthening the kids’ voice and style in their writing. The audience is loving it too. I went with this idea instead of yours to help the kids realize how easy it is to transfer files from home to school. I am also using our blog to excite the kids to respond to ordinary classroom questions in various subjects. I am trying to align the questions to our state assessment. Thank you for your ideas and teachings. It inspired me. I think the kids are very excited about our blog.
What a great idea! Assuming each child has a computer at home (Internet not necessary for this project), the flash drive can store the document for the teacher to access at school. The flash drive could also hold free word processing software if needed. Extra batteries are an important little detail that Samiekay did not overlook. Jump on over to the C7 Chatterbugs blog to read Mrs. Hartner's fifth graders' blog and to see lots of photos of Jo-Jo, the class mascot. Also note the comments for each post. Isn't web publishing grand??!



tonyvincent.infoJust as I emphasize with blogging and podcasting students and teachers, I myself always consider my audience and purpose when writing for this blog. My audience is busy educators and my purpose is to help teachers do their jobs. So I purposely don't overload this blog with frivolous details.

I spend a lot of time traveling, working with teachers, and experiencing the web. There are little tidbits I'd love to share, but this blog isn't the place. I've used several new web tools to publish another blog at tonyvincent.info:

Tumblr lets you set up a very simple blog. There are no frills like comments and advanced formatting. Blogs at Tumblr are called tumblelogs and you can start one for free. Tumblr has a really neat feature: you can have it automatically post items from any RSS feed. The folks at Tumblr even make it easy for you to point any domain name at your tumblelog. For $1.99 you can buy a name at registrars like GoDaddy.com. I've been waiting for a place to point tonyvincent.info and now I've found it. Like many blogs, there is an RSS feed and a scaled-down version for mobile devices.

Twitter has been described as "microblogging." It encourages its users to answer the question What are you doing? You can answer the question on twitter.com, with software, through an instant message, or by a text message. Each entry can be no longer than 140 characters, making everything short and sweet. You can make friends on Twitter and have their entries forwarded to you with the same options as you have to post. Here is my Twitter page where you can become my friend and follow my updates. Twitter provides an RSS feed for each of its users, allowing my Twitter updates to be automatically posted to Tumblr.

Digg is a social news site where the users vote (called digging) on the top stories. Most articles posted on Digg are technology related. When I "digg" a story, it is placed on my user page and in an RSS feed that is posted on my tumblelog.

del.icio.us may have a strange web address, but it's a fantastic social bookmarking site. You can store your bookmarks online to be accessed from any web browser. You can also share your bookmarks with others, which makes del.icio.us a great way to discover new things on the web. My del.icio.us bookmarks can be found here. An RSS feed allows my tumblelog to be updated each time I add a bookmark.

My tumblelog at tonyvincent.info brings together many pieces of my online life and is a much more personal blog than this one. It won't be as useful to you as this blog, but it will be updated much more often, thanks to RSS.


"Web 2.0" Discussion & More from NECC

I had the privilege of being part of panel with some great edtech thinkers: John Hendron, Thor Prichard, Will Richardson, and David Warlick. The focus of the panel discussion was "Web 2.0", which is a term to describe the next generation of services on the web. These services include blogs, podcasts, social bookmarks, online applications, and many more webby tools.

The panel discussion was part of the Special Interest Group for Technology Coordinators' (SIGTC) Member Breakfast. The notes for the discussion can be found on this wiki page. David Warlick, while sitting on the panel, live blogged the event. Or, if you have 58 minutes, you could listen to the MP3 recording of the panel discussion.

For more of what you are missing at this year's National Education Computing Conference , click here for up-to-the-minute blog posts and photos. It's all arranged in reverse chronological order and represents content from many different people and blogs--all aggregated in one place. How's that for "Web 2.0" for ya?




Blogger ScreenshotWhen you use a blogging service like Blogger, you may want to know some basic HTML codes so that your posts can contain text formatting, hyperlinks, and images. HTML codes contain a beginning tag and a closing tag that are enclosed in greater than and less than symbols.

Bold Text
To make text bold, you'll type:
I <b>really</b> love my handheld.
And this is what is displayed:
I really love me handheld.

Hyperlinked Text
To make hyperlinked text, you'll enter:
<a href="http://learninginhand.com">Tony's website</a> is helpful.
And this is what is displayed:
Tony's website is helpful.

Read Basic HTML Tags for lots more tags you could use in a blog post. If you are a Windows user, you can download the free Blogger for Word add-in. Format your entry in Word and send it to your Blogger account. Personally, I compose my blog post in Dreamweaver (the web editor I use for learninginhand.com). I then copy and paste the code generated by Dreamweaver into a new Blogger post. On the other hand, I could email that code to Blogger and my post will be made for me (this works well for blogging from a handheld). Many of these same tricks work for other blogging services as well.