11/26/2010: Text To Movie, Pre-Service Teachers Practicing in SL, Tagxedo, Bill Gates on Funding Public Education & HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope you all are taking the time to NOT work today and to be with your loved ones.  I do have some cool stuff to share this week though!

Text To Movie! They say that if you can type you can create a movie! …and I have to say they’re right!  If you haven’t played with Xtranormal, you definitely should.  This is a free online application that allows you to script an animated video or movie and add effects, motions, emotions, etc., IF you want to, and then play the video!  If you prefer to keep if very simple, all you have to do is type out the script for 1 or 2 characters to act out!  Talk about an incredible way to motivate some students to write!  Give it a try… it’s free.  Share your video creations with me!

Pre-Service Teachers in Second Life: “The effects of practice teaching sessions in second life on the change in pre-service teachers’ teaching efficacy.” Take 5 minutes to read and think about this research before dismissing Second Life and other online immersive environments as “games.”  “This research suggests that pre-service teachers can gain valuable teaching practice in Second Life, and furthermore that collaborative practice teaching is more effective way than individual approaches to practicing teaching.” I believe we’ll see more and more studies like this showing up in the next 2-3 years.  http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1808554

Tagxedo PATINS ImageTagxedo! By now, you’ve probably played with the free word cloud sites like Wordle… which are great! …but, check out Tagxedo!  Similar to wordle in that it will create word clouds for you from a website or a body of text that you either type or copy/paste, but there are so many other options!  And it’s FREE!  For example, above, I simply pointed Tagxedo at the PATINS WEBSITE and then chose the Hand shape and the colors!

Bill Gates Urges public school budgetary reform (Thanks Vicki!):  Definitely worth a read.  I do’nt personally agree with everything Bill Gates suggests, but a lot of it I do!  In these times of very serious budgetary concern, I think SOMETHING HAS to change:  www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/us/19gates.html?_r=1

11/19/2010: FREE ePub Converter! NY School TEACHING in Second Life, Purdue Annotated Second Life Bibliography, Ban it or Teach?

Teaching in Second Life: (Thanks Colleen!) This is a program developed in New York City Schools District 75 using Second Life as a virtual world for training students – This course is for teachers of high school aged students in alternate assessment whose goals focus on expanding students’ communication, social and life skills.   Students selected to participate in the Virtual World must have a basic level of ability navigating on a computer using a keyboard and mouse, as well as a basic level of verbal communication skills in order to benefit from the program.  A series of follow-up professional development sessions will be held online following the initial in-person training.   Teachers attending the workshop commit to participation in the Citywide World Curriculum for the entire school year, including weekly on-line learning sessions planned and executed by the teacher with support from online staff.  In addition to the online component, teachers are responsible for planning and implementing the year-long curriculum as well as integrating content-specific work into their lessons.

By The Way…this was presented at the National Conference for Technology Innovation Conference in Washington DC.  See More about this Immersive Environments and Virtual Reality presentation here:  www.nationaltechcenter.org/index.php/2010/11/15/live-from-ncti-2010-immersive-environments-virtual-reality/

SL Education Bibliography! Related to the above NY School Effort in Second Life, here’s an annotated bibiography on a Purdue webpage of education in Second life.  This is a really great resource!  If you’ve ever asked yourself or had someone ask you, “why Second Life for education,”  then, this is a tool you need to bookmark and spend some time exploring!

Throwing Shoes Ban them image

(Artwork: “Throwing Shoes,” by Zoe, on the iPad)

Do We Ban or Do we Teach?
Last evening I had a passionate discussion with two people I’d consider friends, both of whom were strongly against allowing the use of cell phones and other like technology in the classroom.  One of these friends is a teacher and the other works in the business world.  Both of them are concerned with the education system in the USA.   Of course, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  One friend, the teacher, worked in a poor, urban area and was concerned that technology couldn’t be funded and even if it was, would be used inappropriately and traded for drugs or worse.  My business friend was concerned that cell phones and other portable technologies in the classroom were distracting and should be banned.

Of course, my long-standing stance is that behavior is behavior, regardless of the medium.  That is, if a student throws his shoe at another student’s head, we don’t suddenly ban shoes in school.  Instead, we TEACH.   We don’t decide that shoes are dangerous and require our students to leave them at the school doors or leave them in their backpacks out of sight.  Instead, we might deal out the appropriate punishment to the shoe thrower and more importantly, we’d teach this student how to appropriately use shoes in the future.  …or books, or pencils, or rubber bands or whatever!  The technology is just another “shoe” that REQUIRES us to teach appropriate use and take advantage of the teachable moments that arise from inappropriate use.

Just some things to think about.  Comment on the post please, if you feel strongly in one way or the other.  Additionally, I’ve been talking to one school district in particular about their technology policy and potentially revising it to allow teachers to actually have more rights (and responsibilities) than students!   Imagine that!  Here’s an article  I came across this week that discusses this very topic as it relates particularly to social networking and schools and it includes some sample internet policy components as districts begin to rewrite their policies!

ICAM Logo imageFREE ePUB Converter from PATINS and ICAM!
The PATINS Indiana Center for Accessible Instructional Materials (ICAM) is pleased to announce that beginning November 17th Indiana school district’s ICAM registered Digital Rights Managers (DRM)will be able  to a download a free new software conversion tool,  – the DAISYtoEPUB Converter.

This new eBook conversion tool is the first and only tool that converts DAISY3 electronic files into EPUB, the preferred standard format for mainstream eBook Readers like the iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Android devices.

The DAISYtoEPUB software will benefit students with a print disability who want to read their accessible DAISY books on one of these new portable consumer devices.  Additional files based on the DAISY 3 standard include NIMAS (National Instruction Materials Accessibility Standard) and Bookshare files.

With DAISYtoEPUB, it’s easy to convert files in a three-step process:

1. Select the file and choose a location to save the converted file,

2. Click convert, and

3. Transfer the EPUB file to the portable device or computer

The DAISYtoEPUB software works on Mac  10.4 and Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.  For more product information go to:  www.donjohnston.com/products/daisytoepub/index.html

or contact your PATINS Regional Site Coordinator: www.patinsproject.com/contact.html

Have a Great Weekend Image

10/29/2010: CASE Conference, TapSpeak, New AIM Resources, Listening App, New Devices in Lending Libraries!!!

NEW FREE Equipment! …to borrow! The  PATINS Lending Libraries have some brand new equipment you might want to know about:

DynavoxXpress Image

Dynavox Xpress AAC Device

NextGenBraillerNext Generation Perkins Braille

Icon Mobile Manager ImageIcon Mobile Manager

Go Talk Express 32 ImageGo Talk Express 32 AAC Device

In addition to the above, there are MANY other new devices available to borrow from the PATINS Lending Libraries.  Search our Online Catalog here: www.patinsproject.com/lending.html

Daniel CASE 2010CASE 2010: Second Life for Professional Development is what I presented on this evening at the National CASE Conference in S.Carolina.  This was an evening session AFTER a 3 hour break in the day AND we are literally 100 steps from the beach, yet my room was full.  This is not what I expected and combined with talking to many of my attendees indicates to me that Directors of Special Education from across the country are:

1. Taking online professional development very seriously and are preparing themselves.
2. Have an intense interest in providing and attending online training that goes beyond a static, one-way, two-dimensional webinar.

Are YOU Ready to Learn  (and teach) Online??? Speaking of which, there are SEVERAL NIMAS & ROL FREE Trainings ALL DAY on Monday:  www.patinsproject.com/training.html

A More Couple Apps To Check Out

TapSpeak Choice: http://conleysolutions.com/wordpress/?page_id=282&ref=nf

Listening App: (Thanks Vicki!) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soundamp-r/id318126109?mt=8

NEW Resources from the National AIM Center (Accessible Instructional Materials):

Have a Great Weekend Image

10/15/2010: Jiffy Lube in Virtual Worlds, IASP Conference, Fractions App,

IASP Conference Podcast: I was fortunate enough to attend and be asked to record some podcast interviews and recording of the panel session a the Annual Fall Indiana Association of School Psychologists (IASP) Conference.  Watch for this podcast soon!  I’ll announce it here and link to it.  It’ll also be available from the IASP Website: www.iasponline.org

Fractions App: A nice free little fractions app!  http://motionmathgames.com

Immersive Learning in 3D Image

Jiffy Lube & Ernst & Young Are Learning Online In Virtual Worlds: If you’ve not ready anything else I’ve ever posted over the last 3 years about Second Life and Virtual Worlds/Immersive Environments, you should read this!  This is a very quick little article in the Training Industry Quarterly about how real life training is taking place in Second Life rather than real life or face to face settings, specifically for Ernst & Young, which is recognized as one of the word’s big 4 accounting firms!   If nothing else, this points to the VERY REAL fact, that 3D Immersive Environments are already a part of the work force.  These are skills that our students will need and our teachers must teach.  The business world is already onboard with giving and receiving training and professional development online in Second Life.


7/16/2010: Google and Autism, SL Qualitative Research and PATINS Island, New PATINS Emails, Use PATINS Island for Your Purposes, PATINS Island Map, Web Tools on a Prim Wiki

Google & Autism Spectrum (thanks Chris B): Did you know about Google for Education?   …and that Google has a project for students on the autism spectrum and the educators working with them?  Check this out: www.google.com/educators/spectrum.html

Collaborating and Presenting in Second Life Viewer 2!  As you may know, Viewer 2 for Second Life introduced some exciting new tools to the platform for the purpose of teaching, learning and collaborating in-world.  Most exciting of the Viewer 2 changes probably is the Shared Media, which basically means I can interact with web based content that I place on a prim in SL!  In more real terms, what that means is that while having a meeting or training in Second Life, we can also be looking at little screens that show a google doc or a wiki or a prezi or any other web content that you could imagine, with the exception of pop-ups!  This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in Second Life for professional development and collaboration.  HERE is a listing of web based tools that lend themselves well to this new Shared Media aspect of Second Life Viewer 2:  http://webtoolsonaprim.pbworks.com/ I plan to go through them as I get time!  Could this be described as the combining of Web 2.0 and 3.0?  Or maybe just the morphing and evolving of the interactive and engaging Web 2.0 into an even more immersive and 3 Dimensional experience?

If you haven’t created an avatar yet, visited the PATINS ISLAND, joined the PATINS SL Group and started learning to learn in this new and exciting format, remember Summer is a perfect time.  Spend 10 minutes today and 10 tomorrow.  Let me know if you’d like me to meet you on our island and help you get started.  Additionally, remember we have all these great tools for getting going in SL: www.patinsproject.com/SLEventsCalendar.html

Want to Use the PATINS Island? So, maybe you have attended a workshop or two on the PATINS Island and have some ideas of your own OR you are searching for ways to deal with restricted travel and professional development funds and would like to utilize the PATINS Island space and facilities for your own purposes.  See here for the guidelines and let us know how we can help you get started! It’s FREE and pretty simple!  Policy & Guidelines for Organizational Use

Here’s a Labeled aerial view/map of the island you can download and use to help find your way about too!  Click on it to see it larger and then right click on it and Save As to your desktop!

PATINS_Island Labeled Map

PATINS_Island Labeled Map

Using Second Life in Qualitative Research (Video): Check out this clip from a video from 8 students at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, who performed an ethnographic study in Second Life and featured the PATINS Project Island!


In case you missed it last week; PATINS Staff ALL have new email addresses (starting NOW we will only be working with these new email addresses):

  • Vicki Hershman (PATINS Director):  vhershman@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Glenda Thompson (Admin. Asst):  gthompson@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Daniel G. McNulty (NE PATINS): nepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Vicky Carlin (NE Asst):  vcarlin@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Jim Lambert (NW PATINS):  nwpatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Sheri Schoenbeck (NW Asst):  sschoenbeck@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Jeff Bond (CEN PATINS):  cepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Tina Jones (SE PATINS): sepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Sandy Stabenfeldt (SW PATINS):   swpatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Carrie Ownes (SW Asst):  cowens@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Walt Daigle (Refurbished Computers):  refurbcomputers@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Martha Hammond (ICAM Lib. Svcs Consultant):  mhammond.icam@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Lori Cane (ICAM Tech. Coord): lkane.icam@ciesc.k12.in.us

Have a Great Weekend Image

7/9/2010: NEW PATINS Staff Contact Details, Surfing & Autism!

New PATINS Staff Contact Info:

Most PATINS Staff will have new contact information including email, phone, fax, physical address starting now!  I’ll keep you updated here as these changes are finalized.  Here are our new email addresses for now:

  • Vicki Hershman (PATINS Director):  vhershman@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Glenda Thompson (Admin. Asst):  gthompson@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Daniel G. McNulty (NE PATINS): nepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Vicky Carlin (NE Asst):  vcarlin@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Jim Lambert (NW PATINS):  nwpatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Sheri Schoenbeck (NW Asst):  sschoenbeck@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Jeff Bond (CEN PATINS):  cepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Tina Jones (SE PATINS): sepatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Sandy Stabenfeldt (SW PATINS):   swpatins@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Carrie Ownes (SW Asst):  cowens@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Walt Daigle (Refurbished Computers):  refurbcomputers@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Martha Hammond (ICAM Lib. Svcs Consultant):  mhammond.icam@ciesc.k12.in.us
  • Lori Cane (ICAM Tech. Coord): lkane.icam@ciesc.k12.in.us

“There’s a Magic out There That Happens”

Autism & Surfing! Any surfer will confirm that there absolutely is a magic out there that happens!  Maybe I’ve found my dream job!   Ok, OK.. so there isn’t a lot of surfing in Indiana, but why not think outside the box now and then.  Things many of us might not ever consider doing in education or for our students with disabilities might just be the answer.  Check out this msnbc.com article that showed last evening on television: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=3789295&page=1

:Facebook Image

Find PATINS Project on Facebook

Remember: Summer is a perfect time to create yourself an avatar in Second Life and come explore the happenings on the PATINS Project Island! It’s looking very much like all travel in Indiana could be seriously restricted next school year indicating a real need to be doing more and more online.  The PATINS Island is a great tool for online meetings, trainings, conferences, presentations AND it’s open to other organizations for use.  See guidelines for outside organizational use of the island here: www.patinsproject.com/SecondLife/PolicyGuidelines2010.pdf

7/2/2010: Interactive Whiteboards a Waste, 6 Educational Apps, 100 Way to Study w/iPod Touch, Create Your Avatar!

Facebook Image

Facebook Image

Are you a Friend of PATINS Project on Facebook yet?

Interactive White Boards a Waste? …not if you asked me!  However, there are some heated debates about this very issue within the educational technology circles.  Here’s one.  Check it out, become aware and weigh in!  www.techlearning.com/blogs.aspx?id=31098 I’ve found the success of any technology in any classroom is directly related to the time and effort the educator in that room is willing to put forth in addition to the teaching style of that particular teacher.  I love have students up out of their seats coming to the Interactive White Board, but I’ve visited effective teachers’ classrooms who just don’t prefer to teacher that way and are quite effective using a slate.  What are your thoughts?

Educational Apps: Here’s a few I’ve come across recently.

  1. Trace: (Free) Draw your own platforms to navigate past obstacles.
  2. Typing Class: ($4.99) Practice to improve your on-screen keyboard typing speed and accuracy. 
  3. My Writing Nook: ($2.99 for iTouch) ($4.99 for iPad) Write anywhere with a font editor, password protection, dictionary, and more.  For the more serious on-the-go writer. 
  4. Letter Tracer: ($.99) Trace letters/numbers on screen with your finger, including voice-over!
  5. Pocket Whiteboard: ($.99) Save your drawings as images, stroke by stroke replay, more.
  6. Word Magic: ($.99)  Kids fill in missing letters based on picture that is given, word is then read out loud.  Nominated for best educational app. 

100 Ways to Learn/Study with iPod Touch: http://oedb.org/library/beginning-online-learning/100-ways-to-use-your-ipod-to-learn-and-study-better

Remember: Summer is a perfect time to create yourself an avatar in Second Life and come explore the happenings on the PATINS Project Island! It’s looking very much like all travel in Indiana could be seriously restricted next school year indicating a real need to be doing more and more online.  The PATINS Island is a great tool for online meetings, trainings, conferences, presentations AND it’s open to other organizations for use.  See guidelines for outside organizational use of the island here: www.patinsproject.com/SecondLife/PolicyGuidelines2010.pdf

Have a Safe & Fun 4th of July Weekend Everyone!

6/4/2010: A Litte Reading & Writing on i(Pad, Pod, Phone), SL Education Wiki, State Buy Opportunities, Free SL June Trainings!

Hopefully, most of you are either finished already or finishing today with the 2009-2010 school year!  And, hopefully at least a portion of your summer plans involve time to relax & recharge.  I plan to continue to blog on Fridays over the summer weeks, so keep an eye here on Fridays and maybe grab a tool, link, resource, idea to tuck away into your bag for the next school year, which will be upon us before we know it!

Stanza: I’ve had the FREE Stanza App on my iPhone for quite some time now, but really haven’t had the time to play with it much.  However, with the addition of an iPad to the NE PATINS Lending library, I’ve started looking deeper into the possibilities of digital reading and writing on these powerful devices and have spent some time exploring Stanza for iPad.  Here’s a few points that are worth sharing:

  • It’s FREE
  • Works on iPad, iTouch, iPhone (is now native on the iPad!)
  • 100,000 books available (most for purchase)
  • A free Desktop App for Mac & PC allows placing your own files & books into Stanza!
  • Font, Colors, Contrast, Justification, Spacing, Hypenation and Portrait/Landscape mode are all adjustable.
  • Can organize your collections by title, author or create custom collections.
  • Share your own docs for Stanza over local wifi
  • You can add/edit your own bookmarks
  • Will not open Kindle books yet, but there IS a free Kindle App for that!
  • Unfortunately, text-to-speech is not supported at this time, BUT look at this screenshot.  Once you open a file into Stanza, you have the option of exporting it again in many different formats, one being MP3!  The MP3’s I’ve exported using Stanza have worked very well and very quickly.
Stanza Export Image

Stanza Export Image

More on Stanza:

  • Take a look at these formats that Stanza should import:
Stanza Supported Formats Image

Stanza Supported Formats Image

Even More on Stanza:

  • Now, what you DON’T see in the above image is “NIMAS File Sets.”  :)  You cannot directly import a NIMAS File Set into Stanza, BUT you should already be converting your NIMAS files into other formats for student use anyway right?  😉  Additionally, the folks at Stanza state that it is a tool best used for large bodies of text that does NOT contain extensive graphics or images.  However, next week I will explore getting an actual NIMAS file set into Stanza for use on an iPad and post it here on the blog as a video tutorial.  www.lexcycle.com

Shape Writer Image

Shape Writer Image

Shape Writer: Shape Writer allows writing on the iPad, iTouch, iPhone by simply sliding your finger across the keys to the ones you want to use in the word.  It also adapts itself to your writing.  This could be very beneficial on an iPad for a student who might benefit from writing w/out having to pick up their finger and replace it on a new key, which involves increased visual tracking, spatial, and fine motor control.  There is a free version that works great and a paid version that offers additional functionality if desired. http://itunes.apple.com/app/shapewriter/id347210825?mt=8

Second Life Education Wiki: SimTeach is a Wiki dedicated to Educational Efforts in Second Life.  Check it out: www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Education_Wiki

Second Life Link Image

Second Life Link Image

PATINS SL Island Calendar of Events: Don’t forget about the 4 FREE trainings coming up THIS MONTH (June) on the PATINS Second Life Island  Visit the “Second Life” Link from the PATINS Website as displayed above for the SL Calendar of events, getting started information, video tutorials, etc!  Contact us with questions. www.patinsproject.com/SLEventsCalendar.html

Discounted Hardware & Software (& Stimulus Dollars Information): Remember to check the STATE BUY Link on the PATINS website before making any hardware/software purchases.  Of course, PATINS doesn’t sell anything, but we do work with various vendors to get special, limited time, pricing for Indiana educators.  Current opportunities include Don Johnston, Atomic Learning, Eye Can See, G-Tech, Kurzweil, LAB Computers, ReThink Autism, Renaisance, Perfect Solutions, and TextHelp! There is also information here on your stimulus dollars!  http://patinsproject.com/buys.html

5/17/2010: Special Monday Posting! ~4 Free Summer Second Life Sessions in June!~

Click Image Below to View Larger

June PATINS SL Flyer

Getting Started in Second Life (pdf files):

5/14/2010: Search For Accessible Books, SL Economy Stats! Tech Expo Photos, Accessibility Personal Stories, iPad Accessibility, iPad Apps, SL Viewer 2,

Hopefully, you made it to the PATINS Tech Expo last Tuesday.  Either way, keep your eyes, ears and QR Code Readers ready for information on next year’s events!
Here’s a few photos from the Tech Expo:

Tech Expo Video StillPATINS Tech Expo Last Tuesday; A few photoshttp://video214.co/play/zLNXG0LE00LojLNfCoHmrQ/s/dark

Accessibility Changes Lives: I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this Accessibility resource for Mac computers before, but check out this newer section on personal stories: http://atmac.org/accessibility-changes-lives/

iPad & Accessibility: More from the same resource listed above all about the iPad!  http://atmac.org/ipad-assistive-technology-disability-round-up

Second Life Economy: You’ve probably heard me speak or read my postings on the amount of money exchanged in Second Life before, but here’s some more up to date stats for Quarter 1 of 2010:

  • User-to-User Transactions totaled US$160 million, a 30% increase year-to-year and an all-time high
  • Total Sales on Xstreet reached US$2.3 million, an 82% increase year-to-year and a 24% increase over the previous quarter
  • Total L$ exchanged on the LindeX totaled US$31 million, a 9% increase year-to-year
  • Residents active in the Economy reached 517,349 in March, a 2010 high
  • Monthly Unique Users with Repeat Logins peaked in March at 826,214, a 13% increase year-to-year and an all-time high

…a pretty clear indication to me that this sort of technology, Second Life in particular, is not going away.  Large financial exchanges are happening here and if this much business is taking place, I think we almost have to assume that as educators we must have an awareness at the very least and also be preparing our students to work and train in online virtual immersive environments.  Are we?

Drop Box for iPad: iPad support added for the iPad!  Thanks Jim! FREE! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8

A couple other Apps worth checking out (Thanks again Jim):

Second Life Viewer 2.1: on the way!  http://blogs.secondlife.com/community/technology/blog/2010/05/05/on-the-road-to-viewer-21 Hopefully, you’re already using Viewer 2 when you come to most training events on the PATINS Island.  Many people are not used to viewer 2 yet and there are certainly some legitimate complaints about it, but the shared media it offers is powerful!  And we are utilizing Shared Media features of Viewer 2 on the PATINS Island.  Each seat in our Main Auditorium, for example, now has a personal web browser for attendees!  You must be using SL Viewer 2 to utilize them though.

NIMAC Search Image

NIMAC Search Image

Search For Accessible Books: In addition to NIMAS files, which are ideal for your students not able to access printed books, there are many  other resources available to you and many of them are FREE.  Don’t forget that anyone, DRM or Not, is free to use the Library Search feature on the ICAM website:  www.icam.k12.in.us/library.php. Even Non-DRM’s can search the actual NIMAC Library that houses the NIMAS Source Files Federally to see if a particular textbook exists before requesting that your DRM download it.