Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Digital Storytelling Tool - Blabberize

www.blabberize.com is a free resource that allows you to make any picture talk. I have worked with this resource for a couple of years now. It can be really hilarious. You upload a picture, use the online tools to outline out the mouth, and record a narration. The picture then talks to you. You can upload more then one picture and have the talk to each other.

While this can be entertaining I believe this can be an excellent instructional tool.  Here are some ideas for using it with students:

1. Students upload a picture of an animal or insect. They then narrate an oral report as that animal or insect that provides information they have learned about it.

2. Students upload a picture of Abraham Lincoln and provide narration about him, interview questions, or dictate a speech in response to something.

3.  Students can introduce a story character or respond to a situation as a character in a story.

This can be an excellent tool to showcase a digital story. As with other digital storytelling projects the focus is on writing a script, editing the script and narration. The project can then be published online for students to share and view.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Online Document Management

I have been starting to plan a strategy for online document management for my staff and students. We are implementing a new Wifi network in my district. I plan on creating a guest SSID just as i did in my previous district. I wrote about that in a previous post.

My plan is to allow faculty and students to be able to bring in their own mobile devices. In order for this to be successful I want them to have access to their documents while on and off the network. Setting up the guest SSId for internet only is the easy part. I need to find a solution for accessing documents over the web. This will ensure they will not have to be added to our domain to get to their files.

There are of course a number of options these days. Google Apps for Education, Zoho and other open source document management platforms are available. In the case of Google Apps it is a major change.  My biggest obstacle is that Google Apps uses email as its primary communication and collaboration tool. There are many concerns with providing email accounts to our students. While the details of this are another post it is a noteworthy concern.

Microsoft has recently introduced Office Web Apps. You can access the beta called Microsoft Office Live currently. It provides the ability to access word, powerpoint and excel documents online. You can even share and collaborate on them. I have heard that office 2010 will offer the ability to host this online cloud on your own servers. I am hoping that if hosted authentication can be handled with LDAP.  This might be a solution for us. It is of course a very expensive solution in comparison to Google Apps. The good news is we are already paying for it with our MS volume license.

Here is a quick blurb about MS Office Live.

Office Web Apps, the online companion to Word, Excel®, PowerPoint® and OneNote® applications, allow you to access documents from anywhere. You can even simultaneously share and work on documents with others online. View documents across PCs, mobile phones, and the Web without compromising document fidelity. Create new documents and do basic editing using the familiar Office interface. By offering more ways to access files from almost anywhere, Office Web Apps enable you to get things done according to your schedule.

I will continue to look into an open source solution that we can load onto our servers. If anyone has a recommendation I would love to hear it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Project Open for Grades Prek - 6

There is a new project available for grades Prek to 6 students.  It was created by Jennifer Wagner. Here is a blurb from her site:

Jennifer Wagner, creator of JenuineTech.com, has been successfully encouraging teachers since 1999 to use technology seamlessly in their PreK-6 classrooms. Using the tools of the Internet (Web 2.0), Jennifer will help you understand how technology will help you make the most of your time in a variety of ways. Winning numerous awards for her creative ways in encouraging teachers to collaborate, her teaching style is very user friendly, creative, and personable.


Join in the fun as we learn about
extending a story, endangered animals, and verbs!

The project has three ideas that teachers could take part in with their students. The topics involve extending a story, endangered animals and verbs. As with  most of Jenn's projects there is a focus on creativity and innovation as well as collaboration. These are key skills for the 21st century.  If you are interested in learning more about this project please follow the link below.