Archive for April, 2008

My first grant writing experience

I am currently in the process of writing my first grant.  I am working with my husband who is the Director of Scoutreach for the Boy Scouts of America in our local region and we are trying to open a Technology Resource Center for at-risk youth in our area.  Many of the youth we work with have never had a computer in their home and have limited computer skills.  We would like to use this center to teach them skills that will allow them to be more competitive applicants when applying for jobs.  We would also like to use the center to help them improve their skills in other subjects, such as math, english, etc.  We plan to have games on the computers that emphasize skills in each of these subjects to allow them to have fun and enhance their skills in these areas.  We would also like to use the center to hold after-school camps and summer camps to give another place for students to get off the street and come and have fun while learning something new.  I am very excited about this project and hope that we are able to find funding.

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SlideShare

SlideShare is a great resource to find presentations on different subject areas. This site is so easy to use. The only thing you have to be careful with is if you download a presentation to make sure and give credit to the person who created it. I do like that you can embed the presentations inside of your Web site as well. It makes it so easy to share with others.

SlideShare allows you to create a free account.  You can share your presentations publicly or keep them private and share them with those you choose to.  The site also allows you to upload audio to synchronize with your presentation.

I’ve uploaded 2 of my presentations to SlideShare so far and I linked to them below:

Web Accessibility

Distance Learning: An Evaluation of Online Learning

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VoiceThread

I think VoiceThread is a great tool. I really enjoyed using this to create a slide show of pictures from a recent trip we took. I showed it to my husband and he was blown away. He wants to use it to create slide shows from our trips to send to family and friends. He got so excited about it.

Right now, they only offer free pro accounts for K-12 educators, but I sent an e-mail to the creator to see if they would ever consider opening this up for higher education educators in the future or offering site licenses for universities and he said that they would like to head that way, but because it is so small right now, they don’t have the resources to offer this right now. He said they really hope to expand in the future though. I still think this is a great tool for instructors to have their students use.  I think that would be especially helpful in the K-12 environment where students can have the opportunity to express what they have learned with pictures and audio.

Link to VoiceThread I created of our trip to Philadelphia: http://voicethread.com/share/118269/

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Ask the Techies Podcast

I have been listening to the Ask the Techies podcast for a few months now.  It is produced by D. Lee Beard from Ohio University along with Ohio University students.  They provides tips and reviews on all types of technological content.  I have learned some great tips through this podcast.  You can subscribe to the podcast or pick and choose videos to watch on their Web site.

Some of the episodes can be a little long, but they provide great descriptions of each episode so you can pick and choose what you think would be helpful.

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EyeJot

Eyejot is a video messaging tool that allows you to create a video message to send to someone else. Eyejot allows you to create a free account and create video messages for up to 1 minute for free to send to any e-mail address.

This is a very cool tool. Sometimes it is hard to put what you want to say in text form and having a video message option can make your messages more personal. This is a great option to send greetings to family and friends who you might not have been able to see in a while. I am always a little nervous being on camera (not my favorite thing), but I really like this tool.

This tool has a lot of potential for use in education. For classes that meet completely online, it is a nice way to create a community among the class by having them each record an introduction message which makes it feel more like you know the people in your class. This would also be great for students to practice to help alleviate their fears of being in front of the camera to record presentations for class.

Tools like EyeJot will become more of norm as more and more courses continue to go online. The downside to this tool is the limit of 1 minute messages on the free account. They do have paid accounts as well. EyeJot PRO bumps the recording time up to 5 minutes a message and the ability to upload pre-recorded video. It is $29.95 a year. They also have a PRO Plus account that is $99.95 a year which allows you to add your own branding/logos to the EyeJot messages and attach documents to your messages. You can compare the features of each account using a the comparison chart on their Web site.

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circaVie

CircaVie is a Web 2.0 tool that allows you to create an interactive time line. You can create a free account and set up your profile and then start creating your time line. It allows you to tell a story through pictures and videos and you add text descriptions to talk about what the pictures and videos mean to you. The first time line I created was on the albums released by Michael Jackson. I got pictures of each of the album covers and put them in order of release date.

If you already have an AIM account or an OpenID, you don’t have to create a new account, you can use that user name and password. I already had an AIM account to use which made it very simple. You can embed the time line in your Web page or just link to your time line. This is a great tool that can be used for making illustrations of any chronological content in education and best of all it is free. I spoke to some of my colleagues who said they had some issues with lag on the Web site and not always posting their content correctly, but I have not run into any of these issues so far. It is a very user-friendly site.

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Do our students know more than we do about technology?

A faculty member came to me last week who wanted to incorporate podcasting into his course and one of the questions he asked me was, should I assume that my students will already know how to use this technology (or something to that effect)? I told him that I try never to assume anything. Although we like to believe that our students are more technology savvy than the faculty, it is not always true. When speaking of traditional students, yes, they probably know how to use Facebook and download music, but do they even know what a podcast is? There are probably a lot who don’t. First of all, they don’t use the same terminology as we do, so that is something that needs to be addressed first. It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page at the beginning of the course, so that all of the students have the opportunity to be successful.

What if your student population is made up of “non-traditional” students, maybe students who are working full-time already in their field, or who just waited a little longer to go to college, choosing to have a family first…this population of students have a whole different list of concerns than your “traditional” students. Many of these students are already scared to come back to school because they feel out of place and in addition to that are intimidated by the new technology they feel they know nothing about.

Well, what did I tell this faculty member? I told him to get to know his student population, ask questions, create an environment where the students feel they can ask questions (that there are no stupid questions), and tell them up front what to expect in the class. I told him to include on his syllabus the technology requirements so they know up front what is expected to be successful. For example, he is going to require that they use iTunes to view his podcasts because he is creating enhanced podcasts with a Mac. I created an iTunes Cheat Sheet for him to put in his course and told him he should provide the link to download iTunes (which is free) in his syllabus the same as he would his required textbook.

I don’t think we can assume that our students know more about technology than we do. I think they know different things about technology, like how to use youTube and text message on their cell phone, but the types of technologies we use for education could be completely new to them.

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