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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.
Trace:(Free) Draw your own platforms to navigate past obstacles.
Typing Class:($4.99)Practice to improve your on-screen keyboard typing speed and accuracy.
My Writing Nook:($2.99 for iTouch) ($4.99 for iPad) Write anywhere with a font editor, password protection, dictionary, and more. For the more serious on-the-go writer.
Letter Tracer:($.99)Trace letters/numbers on screen with your finger, including voice-over!
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
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:
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
More on Stanza:
Take a look at these formats that Stanza should import:
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: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
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
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?
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
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.
Read: Out Loud: I actually got a few more questions this week about ROL, how to download it for free and training on it. Don’t forget about these resources!
Once downloaded, you have an unlimited license to put ROL on all of your district computers as well as send it home on CD with all your students for their home computer usage. It’s a pretty user-friendly program and you shouldn’t have much trouble figuring it out, but there are also tons of free training material available online here:
In addition to those training materials, PATINS can provide training on ROL to you and your staff in either face to face or online formats. Of course, all training or materials we provide are always free of charge to Indiana Public K-12 Schools.
Students Cheating With Tech:A couple of weeks back I was engaged in a discussion around the use of cell phones, iPods and other ‘techy’ stuff that many of our students are bringing to class and many school districts are trying to ban. This is a very interesting discussion and I won’t go into the pros/cons of each position, but this discussion did remind me of a snippet I made of one of Dan Schmit’s podcast on this very topic. Dan has given me permission to post this and I think it’s worth a listen. Cheating With Tech mp3 Dan Schmit(Click Here)
Cell Phones in Class? Closely related to Dan’s mp3 clip above, is this article on cell phones and their potential power in the classroom. This can be a fairly heated debate among many professionals that I know and respect. For me, it boils down to understanding behavior, effective classroom management and engaging learners. …back to the old, “we don’t ban pencils if someone throws one” and “we don’t ban paper because kids have been cheating with that for years!” The fact is that I don’t know of a single school district’s cell phone and iPod banning policy that is working the way they would like. Students are continually bringing and using these devices regardless of policy. This to me indicates that we are quite possibly missing the boat here when it comes to utilizing tools that many students already have, will most certainly be required to utilize as working adults, and are strongly engaged with now. www.eschoolnews.com/2010/04/22/panel-cell-phones-have-much-potential-in-classrooms
Can you read the above image? Many of your students probably can! They are also communicating with one another using these QR-Codes and unless you can read them, you have no idea what they are saying!!! Scary? Perhaps. Exciting and bursting with possibilities? ABSOLUTELY!
So, here’s your mission: You need to locate a free : QR-Reader to decode the message I’ve placed into the above image. You can do it on your computer or by using a free app and your phone’s camera.
The first person to tell me what the message is will receive a Classy Black PATINS Zippered Bag full of Assistive Tech Trial Software!
If you can not only decipher the message, but also create your own QR Coded Message and send one back to me, in addition to receiving the bag, I’ll dedicate the next blog posting entirely to the topic of YOUR choice!
Tour The Island Video: Take a video tour of the entire PATINS Project Second Life Island even if you haven’t yet created an avatar. This is a recording of the tour I gave during the 48 hour Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education Conference that more than 5000 avatars attended on March 12-13: www.patinsproject.com/Videos/VWBPE2010IslandTour
Symmetry Tools: I had some questions this week about free online tools for allowing students to practice the concept of “symmetry” in various ways. Here’s a few I recommended in order to look at offering some choice in response method while providing students with symmetry practice:
Vozme: One more web-based free Text To Speech Converter to add to your bag of tools! http://vozme.com
Animal Crossing? If you haven’t played with this one yet, you might want to check it out. “You choose the pace and you craft the adventures!” A child’s version of an environment where they seasons change, time passes, and they create their own activities and surroundings. ….sound a little familiar? This is for the Wii, Nintendo DS…not free, but really cool and the point here is that online, immersive, interactive 3D worlds are mainstream at even very young ages now. By the way, I’m presenting Web 2.0 Tools today in my Second Life office! Slurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/PATINS%20Project%20Island/168/192/27 Love to see you there! www.animal-crossing.com/cityfolk
Webspiration: Online, collaborative, and FREE version of Inspiration. Similar to Bubbl that I’ve blogged about in the past. Compare them! www.mywebspiration.com
“In reality, simulation is key to math education” “…Stanford mathematician: In reality, simulation is key to math education.” “A massively multiplayer online game requiring players to employ mathematical concepts could revolutionize the teaching of mathematics at the middle school level, according to Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin.” - An interesting article to say the least. Education IS changing. www.physorg.com/news186058705.html
FREE Read:Out Loud: Hopefully by now, you are well aware of the opportunity you have to install and use Read:Out Loud on ALL school district computers AND send home with students for installation on their home computers, IF you are in Indiana. However, I’ve gotten several questions lately about this opportunity and apparently there is some misinformation floating around that I thought I’d address. Here, you can view, download and print the official Indiana-PATINS Read:Out Loud License: www.icam.k12.in.us/DJ/Materials/Technical_Documentation/ReadOutLoud-Patins%20License%20Summary.pdf
Yesterday’s Presentation on PATINS Second Life Island: …was great! David Davis did a wonderful job and provide interesting ideas, challenging thoughts and a powerful set of resources and handouts. We had 40 people attend with their avatars and several of those avatars were presenting the session via LCD projector for others to watch. We plan to have several more trainings like this before the year is over. In fact, there will be 2 small trainings next week and the following week. See here: www.patinsproject.com/ne.html. The David Davis presentation yesterday was recorded (not perfectly), but I think it was pretty good for my first attempt. As soon as that video has been rendered and resized I’ll post it here. Keep an eye out.
Autism Society of America IEP Discussion Meeting: “This Saturday in Second Life! With the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) season upon us, it is timely to discuss the IEP process. So parents, professionals and people on the spectrum, come discuss your likes and dislikes of the IEP process. Share your experience and insight into what has worked for you and what has not, so can all benefit.
Also, if you want to follow the PATINS Staff Tweets about the Collaboration Day, just search your twitter for the tag: #PATINSudlcollaboration
Accessible Twitter: “…Web accessibility for the Twitter website application.” “Accessible Twitter is an alternative to the Twitter.com website. It is designed to be easier to use and is optimized for disabled users.” Check it out here: http://accessibletwitter.com
Nimble Assessment: More to come on this… for now, check it out and let me know what you think! http://nimbletools.com
Trimming Budget w/Cloud Computer (in SL): You may remember me blogging a few weeks back about a session (free) that was going to take place on ISTE’s (International Society for Technology in Education) island in Second Life about reducing budget by using cloud computer. Well, they recorded that SL session and it is posted for all to view when convenient in video format: http://business.treet.tv/shows/istetalks/episodes/cloud-computing
Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education -3rd Annual International Conference-March 12,13, 2010
Once again, several of the PATINS Staff will be attending this free, online, virtual, international educational conference. I will also be presenting a session this year on the Friday.
“The Virtual World Best Practices 2010 focus is “Imagination Around the World”. From the North, East, West and South corners of the physical world what is evident is the collaborate nature of virtual world participants to share knowledge and experience. This 48 hour conference will indeed provide opportunities for sharing and further understanding virtual world technology.”
Why Punishment Based Systems Don’t Work:I know this isn’t directly related to assistive or accessible technologies, but I do believe it’s related to UDL, but pay special attention in this article to the point #1 that Dr. Nunley makes: “1. In order for non-aversive techniques to work, the environment inside the classroom must be more desirable than the environment outside the classroom.” As an educator, have you ever asked yourself whether your student find your classroom more desirable than the world outside your classroom? You probably have and the answer for many classrooms is probably that most students would prefer to NOT be in the classroom if they had the choice. …but, have you ever asked yourself, as an educator, why this is? …or more importantly, what could you specifically do to move your classroom space toward being the more desirable location. For me, several things immediately come to mind that would make my classroom more desirable to students. A few of which include:
making sure every part of my instruction, their responses and my assessment was accessible to all of my students (making it a fair environment)
NOT requiring my students to “power down” all of the gear they use outside of the school when they come in (making it a relevant and engaging environment)
Allowing my students to have an authentic audience for the hard work they put forth with blogs, podcasts, digital story telling, etc. (making it a motivating environment)
A Good Classroom Blog Example: A request came in last week from an educator wanting training on setting up a classroom blog and this educator pointed me toward this one as an example of what she hoped to do. I think this is one nice example from 5th grade teacher, Jay Monson in Minnesota! What a great resource for parents and students to subscribe to. Easy to set up and administer, relevant to the outside world (utilizing RSS) and creating an authentic connection between the worlds outside and inside the classroom walls. Check out Jay’s blog here: http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=59644&blog_id=&listclass=32377
RFB&D and ICAM February News for DRMs: Chance to win a FREE Mp3 player! The DRM who downloads the most books from February 22 through March 15, 2010 will receive a FREE Mp3 player and will be featured on the support site at www.rfbd.org/indiana in April. Download audiobooks today for your chance to win!
Register now to order RFB&D downloadable books. To register email your ID (ICAM####), name, address, phone number and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org! Need Technical Support? Visit the AudioPlus support site at www.rfbd.org/indiana.
Click here for News about your school’s Stimulus Dollars:In addtional to clicking the link to find out details on your schools stimulus funds, you might find it interesting that only 12-17% of them have been spent and time is running out! Several State Buys have been added to the PATINS website and more could be coming in the next couple weeks. Don’t forget to check this tab on our site before making purchases. Additionally, the PATINS staff is more than happy to help you spend your money! Actually, we just want to make sure that schools don’t forget about accessibility, that every student is different and that we have a nice collection of experience with MANY assistive and accessible technologies and are very willing to make suggestions, offer resources, training, etc. PATINS State Buy page here: www.patinsproject.com/buys.html
Don’t Forget these TWO FREE EVENTS coming up SOON!
PATINS TECH EXPO: April 20th, 9am – 4pm, Crowne Plaza Indianapolis (change in location). This is a free opportunity to come see the newest in Assistive Technology, ask questions of the vendors, attend presentations and build your personal learning network! More info here:PATINS Tech Expo Flyer 2010 Required Registration Here: www.surveymonkey.com/s/PATINStechexpo2010