Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Free Blog Platforms

If you would like to try blogging, is free. It's what I use for my blog. In future posts I'll explore some educational uses of blogs, but for now here's a way to play in the blog sandbox. If you want your students to blog, you should try it out first. Blogger offers ready-made templates that you can customize to your liking. No HTML knowledge is required. You can choose to limit who sees or comments on your blog, useful if you are just testing the waters.

Some bloggers prefer platforms on social networking sites (SCN), for example MSN Spaces or Yahoo! 360. These give you your own web page with a blogging feature built in. However, you also get some of the problems inherent to SCNs.

Some free blog platforms are designed for education. WordPress is one but it requires that you already have a hosting provider or website. Another option is Class Blogmeister, which requires you to log in with your school's code. If you know of other free blog platforms, please share them in the comments.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Digital Libraries

A digital library is a library where collections are stored in a digital format rather than print or microfiche formats and which are accessed by computer. They are libraries in cyberspace that can be used by anyone at anytime and anywhere. Some digital libraries are designed specifically for educators, providing teaching and learning materials. The educational virtual libraries are credible sources for educators because they have staff that reviews, selects and structures resources.

There are digital libraries that cover all teaching subjects, such as MERLOT. Others focus on a particular subject, such as the science specific NSDL. This blog provides links to some of these on its home page menu.

What about students? Your school district will have a digital library accessible to them. Virtual libraries for students or the general public not associated with an educational or public institution are just beginning to emerge. One fine example is The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) where youngsters can read books in their preferred language and save books to their personal bookshelf.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Copyright & Ed Tech

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog. I completed my UFL course on educational technology since my last post and I've started a new one -- about distance education. I've learned something new about copyright as it applies to education. Section 110(1) of the American copyright law has always provided educators with the right to display or play the materials of others in a formal classroom above and beyond fair use. The educator's world has changed since the act was introduced. Learning online through class wikis, blogs, and the like, is a big part of teaching today. To address how and what can be used for online transmission, section 110(2), or the TEACH Act, was created. I developed a PPT presentation about the TEACH act for my course and I'd like to share it with you:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Digital Natives and Education

My previous post mentions digital natives. If you're wondering who they are and, if you are a teacher, what it means to teach digital natives, think about this video created by the YouTube user khokanson:

To learn more about the topic, read Marc Prensky's excellent article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. (PDF document)

Web 2.0

Some of you may be wondering what I am learning in my online course at University of Florida. In a nutshell, the course is about understanding the learning needs of the generation nicknamed "digital natives" and exploring how to apply technology to teach them. The following slideshow sums it up pretty well. It was created by GladsteinS using Slideshare. Click on the show's embedded links to learn about applications new to you. is a place to share and find slideshows. Membership in Slideshare is free and users can embed their own or others' slide shows into web pages as I did in this blog.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Save the Internet

I was browsing through YouTube when I came across this activist video. I read about this issue in newspapers but didn't hear much more about it. The issue is about Internet providers wanting to set up a two-tier system: pay more for high-speed special treatment, or less and get lesser service. The video asks us to help support "Internet Neutrality." I hope the activists accomplish their mission. I want the Internet to remain accessible to everyone all over the globe. Some individuals in the U.S. may be able to afford extra fees but what about the student in a developing country whose only access to global information may be the Internet or the disadvantaged child here in the U.S.? What would that do to school and library budgets that offer free access to their students or constituents? If you feel the video message is misguided or off the mark, let me know.

Blogging Books

With this fifth post, I am completing all the technical blog tasks of my UFL online course. I'd like to recommend some books that teach basics about blogging and how to use a blog in an educationional setting (we used the first book in the list below for our UFL online course):

  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson (Corwin Press, 2006)
  • Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere by David Warlick (, 2005)
  • Blogging For Dummies by Brad Hill (For Dummies, 2006)
  • No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason (Peachpit Press; 1st edition, 2006)
All are available on but I haven't hyperlinked the book titles to the commercial site since they're not paying me for clicks. Better still, support your local bookstore or library and find the books there. Anyone have other suggestions for good books about basic blogging or educational blogging?

Thanks to the visitor who provided a link to an article about adding bullets to my book list (see comments to this post).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sharing Multimedia

One of my assignments in an educational technolog course was to embed multimedia I created (as opposed to pre-existing multimedia, which I have embedded in the previous post "Enjoy the Video"). This worksheet was designed using the free diagram drawing tools on (click worksheet to view larger image). I have created a website/blog evaluation worksheet for students based on Kathy Schrock's criteria. Gliffy keeps a copy of my graph on file. This means I can share the diagram with others; particularly useful when members of a team are working together to develop a concept. I can also provide a link to or upload the completed diagram (in my case, a worksheet) to a class web site. Gliffy gives you options to allow students (or anyone else) to write on the worksheet online. I'd love to share the worksheet with you but Blogger won't let me hyperlink to it. Try pasting in your web browser. Let me know if it works. I can't verify because I am a Gliffy member and the URL may work only for members.

I'm sure there are more sophisticated tools on other websites, but they may not be free. I would have liked a diagram that has a built-in calculator, so the total score on the worksheet would be automatically generated after students completed typing the scores for each evaluation row. Please let me know if you have suggestions for free worksheet templates, with computational features, available on the Internet.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Enjoy the Video

Today I spent several hours trying to include a video or interactive game in my post. I discovered that Blogger won't accept certain html code from other sites. The video above was easy to insert because it came from YouTube, a web site that has figured out how to avoid code glitches for the not-so-tech-savvy user. Does anyone have any hints about which code works and which doesn't?

I hope you enjoy the whimsical video above. It has nothing to do with the theme of my blog other than it's an example of multimedia embedded in a post from another source. I chose it because I needed something cheerful after hours of trying to search for video sources. Whenever you need a happy moment, come back here and replay the video.

There are thousands of videos to choose from at YouTube. So it's not an easy task to find what you need for teaching. Searching using the main categories is cumbersome. I had better luck using the search option. Words like "geology" and "microbes" yielded some interesting possibilities, like the clip about how and why penicillin was discovered. None of the videos are reviewed for accuracy and that may also be a problem for teachers. Has anyone used YouTube in class? Did the clips help student learning?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Visual Media

In order to add graphics to this blog, I have signed up for so many accounts that there is no way I will remember them. Does anyone have suggestions for managing graphic online sources to use in blogs?

My daughter took this great photo. View more Oh Lenna photos at flickr.
Flickr is an excellent source for photography. You have to sign up for an account, but it's free. Once you're in the site, look for photos that have a "blog it" option above the photo. Clicking on that will generate a code that you can embed into your post. The photo will appear magically, sized to fit your blog space.

In my Internet searches for how students learn through technology, I came across this student web site. A team of eleven Forest Park High School, VA iT program media students, calling themselves The Millennials, created videos and web pages that were featured in a 2005 U.S. Department of Education presentation to Congress on the importance of using technology in the classroom. Their videos describe the digital generation, how they learn, and why schools should adapt to the way they learn.


Hello, visitors. This blog started out in 2007 as an assignment for an online course about technology in education. In July 2008 it became the official blog of the web site, Now, it's my personal blog again.

Like many adults, I struggle to understand new technology. Teachers don't have the luxury of resolving this issue at their own leisure. They have to know about technology now and they have to be creative about how to use it in the classroom. Some teachers resist but they should listen to student voices: "I think that teachers should be required to go to a technology course and extra classes should be available to kids who need help working with computers, want to learn more about technology, or who just want to have fun."

For more student quotes on transforming education through technology, read Visions 2020.2: Student Views on Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies. The views of our students provide valuable insights for our teaching.