Posted tagged ‘instructional technology’

Ed Tech? Is that a job?

November 7, 2008

I am trying to figure out what this job really is.  I’ve asked around and found out that the job title, description, and tasks vary greatly from school to school. Here are the titles I’ve heard:

  • Instructional Technology Specialist
  • Ed Tech Specialist
  • TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment)
  • Technology Coach
  • Technology Liaison

The job descriptions have included:

  • Run computer lab
  • develop/maintain school website
  • assist teachers in using technology (ppt, web 2.0, student response systems, smartboards, etc.)
  • lead training on various pieces of technology
  • minor troubleshooting

The actual person is sometimes someone who works for the whole district and goes from school to school, sometimes a dedicated person at the school, sometimes a teacher who is relieved of a class, and sometimes just a full time teacher who helps out.

Our district is thinking about adding this position at the high school.  What is the ideal situation for this position?  What should they be responsible for?  Who should it be?

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Wireless Writing Tablet

April 8, 2008

I wrote about using a writing tablet in math class a while back.  Now I am taking it to the next level.  I got a grant for a bunch of Interwrite wireless writing tablets for the math department at my school.  The money doesn’t come in until June but I was able to get one early on loan.  According to UPS tracking it should be at the school sometime tomorrow.  I’m trying to set some time aside so I can implement it soon.

Update: I ended up getting Airliner tablets that go along with the Notebook software (that runs on SmartBoards!)  We now have a 8 of these Airliner tablets and they are great.  The writing is smooth, they are durable, the battery lasts all day, and the Notebook software comes with it.  If you get good at running the software then you are ready for a SmartBoard.  My district was convinced of that and when a few new boards were purchased I got one in my room!   I can write on the Smartboard and use the Airliner tablet at the same time – very cool feature.

I can’t say anything bad about the Interwrite tablet but Smartboards have taken over the education world and it makes sense to go with the Airliner if you are looking at gettting some wireless writing tablets.

If you need help with the Smartboard (when you get that too) then stop by my SmartboardTips site.

Google Calendar for my Classes

March 27, 2008

For a couple of years I’ve tried to make some kind of online calendar for my classes. At first I was trying to update a list of assignments just using HTML.  To do that I had to open the file, update it, then load it up to the server. It took too long and I couldn’t keep up with it.

Now I use Google Calendar. In Google Calendar I’ve created a separate calendar for each class. Everyday I go into the calendar and update what we did for that day. I can also put upcoming assignments and events.

Here is the magical part: I have embedded the calendars into my website. Now when a student goes to the Algebra part of my website they are looking at the algebra calendar. The geometry students go to their website and look at their calendar.

To do this in Google Calendar:

1. Click on the arrow next to the name of the calendar you want to embed and select calendar setting.

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2. Customize the settings as needed and grab the HTML code they give you.  Put that HTML code where ever you want your calendar to show up on your website.

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Now I just update the Google Calendar and my website is always up to date.

As I get caught up with everything I plan to have a link to all the worksheet and notes we go over in class. So any student can go to the website, look at what we did that day, download the notes, download the worksheet, and be totally caught up with class.  I’m living the dream!

Google Apps For My Classes

March 25, 2008

A couple months ago I decided to start taking my math classes to the computer lab once a week.  The first day I asked everyone to start a gmail account.  It was going just fine until halfway through first hour when Google blocked our server from creating any more accounts.  They though we were spammers.  One of the messages that Google gave students as they were blocked was to set up an account with Google Apps.  

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Luckily I already had set up my own website with my own domain so I was able to set up Google Apps before the end of the hour.  I also already had all my students in an Excel file so I had 120 accounts created by the middle of second hour. 

I struck gold.  Google Apps is the greatest way to communicate with classes, and set up collaborative activities. 

Here are some advantages of Google Apps:

1. Set up class email lists.  When I want to give an assignment to a class I simply send an email to 1stHour @ (email).com.  I have even sent emails halfway through class pointed students to a resource that someone had found. 

2. Google Docs.  I have students create Google documents and then share them with me.  I can go in and put comments in the document and grade them.  

3.  Students create their own start page.  I have let students put their own widgets on their start page.  They have the freedom to put various content on their start page as long as they keep a link for their email and documents.

4. Google Sites.  This is the Google version of wiki’s.  It is extremely easy to set up different sites and assign groups of students to work on them. 

5. Everything is free.  You get the Google ads here and there but no one minds.

6. Google is working on updating it.  I trust the thousands of geniuses Google has working on the security and functionality of Google apps.

7. It looks nice and works well.  I spent a long time looking for a wiki service to use for my classes.  The Google Sites interface and polished look beats them all.

8. I am the administrator.  When everyone forgets their password I can reset it.  When I get a new student I can create an account on the spot.

I am going to try to convince the district to switch everything over to Google Apps.  I realize doing something like that is ridiculous but I know I’m right and if anyone takes a look at it I might get lucky.  Arizona State, Northern Illinois, and a bunch of other schools and companies are using it!  Why can’t we?

Online Masters Degree

March 21, 2008

I am applying for a masters of education degree in Curriculum, Technology and Education Reform at the University of Illinois.  Aside from one meeting on campus the entire program is on-line.  I’ve taken classes on-line before and they have been great.  I’m looking forward to the program and I know that it will benefit me professionally and educationally. 

 I am a little worried that there is still a stigma attached to on-line degrees.  I don’t know for sure but I’m concerned that many people view on-line classes and on-line degrees as a “cop-out” or an easy way to a degree.  What is the perception right now?