Can Small Screens Help Learners?

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Williams from Modality Learning and discuss a product his company has been working on called Raybook.
Now the tag line for Modality is “Making Small Screens Smarter”. The concept is simple enough, work with publishers to adapt their content to a small screen much like iTunes has adapted music to an mp3 player. We know where we are now with the iPod and other players. I know of schools, Durham Academy included that has purchased iPods with the Belkin Tune Talk to record podcasts for publishing on the Internet. We hoped to perhaps create audio books by having a parent narrate a book we own or even work with Audible to load content onto the iPods. Both of these methods could work, but the issue was one was just an input device for recording while the other had the issue of getting just the right content onto the device.

Now comes Raybook with titles from Brain Quest, CliffNotes, and other publishers. Now we have content that we can download onto the device that is appropriate for young learners. Doesn’t every student need to learn the multiplication tables, spelling of life time words, geography facts, math facts, history facts to only mention a few. What would happen if the fact learning was done with an iPod while coming to school, at a friends house, or at a center in the classroom? Imagine that the teacher could have the student take a quiz using the same questions from the iPod content. This is possible and could be done if Modality Learning keeps working on their products. I hope to have the LS Digikids test their products to see if we should work with the company.

In the interest of full disclosure Mark Williams is a parent and husband of a colleague and students here at Durham Academy. In addition, the company is just down the street right here in Durham so this is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.

To find out how Raybook works, check out how it works. It reminds me of Look Up Above ” Is it a plane, is it a bird… No it is super learning….

Ok, so I am not a marketing genius but I think this is a company and product to watch as schools purchase these little devices or students purchase them and bring them to school. What if instead of banning them, we added content to it?

Learncasting and Podcasting

I came upon a new term and resources that demonstrate the reality of my earlier post on Wikinomics. On a side note, I seem to be getting a lot of underlined words as I type, meaning I am writing about subjects using words that are being coined and presently are not in dictionaries that are installed on my computer. Living in the red squigglies…

The University of Adelaide’s Center for Learning and Professional Development’s Allan Carrington has designed a learning module in going from Podcasting to Learncasting. This is a free learning cast that can help anyone learn how and why we should think about including these resources into our teaching. While the focus may seem to be higher education, it is no less applicable to k-12 schools. Allan shares his Del.ici.ous bookmarks for module 1. They are using Articulate to create the lessons. While it is Windows only software it is pretty cool how it creates Flash lessons with embedded audio, images, etc..

Podagogy is a site that is connected to Allan although it is the work of Randy Meredith at Spring Arbor University in Michigan.

I plan to spend more time investigating this site and the many resources linked from here.

When to use Wikis, Blogs or Fourms

From September 2006, I have moved this from my old blog on Moodle.

I have been listening to David Warlick\’s podcast on 1 to1 laptop programs where he is conducting a round table discussion on various Web 2.0 topics. He points out this information on when to use a Wiki, Blog or a Forum. I think his information is right on so I thought I would scribe it here. Of course you can just got to his podcast and download episode #67 and listen for yourself. It is about 7 minutes into the podcast.

Wikis: “Usually a small group of people working together to build a collaborative document that will help that small group of people”. Used to publish a collective of pages or material verses dated material which is how Blogs are constructed around a dated time line. Wikis are also easily formatted into a single page if needed. Wikis also have a history button so you can see what has been taking place since the wiki page was started and who is contributing to the continued creation of the content. If this is a class assignment, you can easily see how students are contributing. The creation of a “Digital Artifact” as one person says.

Blogs: They are a publishing event so it should represent the “best work” of the author. A more formal publishing event. Blogs are individual entries with comments. Useful for dated material with comments that will include time stamps with a more personal sharing aspect.

Forums/Discussions: These are used best for posing questions or getting feedback from students that will move a conversation forward. It is a conversational tone and not well formatted or sometimes well thought out.

Great descriptions on these technologies. Thanks David.

Podcast, Vodcast, and Screencast Nation (Live Blog)

Will Richardson is now offering his take on the new multimedia creation on the Web. He says it has increased 3200% in the last year. I know that we have added to this growth with the many podcasts we produced.

Poducateme is an awesome site with tutorials and ideas on how to podcast.

Teachertube is a good site for educational movies.

Marco Torres iCan digital storytelling contest.

YouTuberemixer – mix video, photos, and audio.

Creative Commons Music




A powerful way to record what is on your screen.

Windows Media Encoder

SMART recorder

Democracy Player – download videos to watch on your computer.

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Tech Happenings in 528 Techland.

We are fast approaching the end of my first year in the Middle School. I thought I would showcase some of the projects we have worked on and when possible, link you to our efforts.

Ms. Liszka’s class has down several projects that required the students to use various tools in their digital learning. Early in the year teams created iMovies in Spanish that they storyboarded and shot on campus. They spent time editing the movie in iMovie creating just the correct narration or soundtrack to accompany the story. For a different project, students used iPhoto to create slideshows for speeches. Recently students determined the best tool to use to make a multimedia presentation for a famous celebrity. This past month students composed menus in Spanish for restaurants. Each project has moved the students closer to meeting the digital skills necessary in the Middle School.

Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 have been podcasting. Podcasting involves writing a script on a topic that they have researched in class. Once the research is done and a script is approved, students begin to record it in Garageband using Logitech USB Headsets. Students have collaborated together in order to create their digital recordings. Of course they did need to learn to work together in the process which we know is a skill that they will need very much in the flattened world we are educating them for now. You are able to listen to these podcasts either on your computer or by clicking on the Subscribe button through iTunes. Check them out.

Blogging has started with 6th grade Language Arts using Class Blogmeister. This is a free tool provided by David Warlick of the Landmark Project. Check out Mrs. Williamson’s and Mrs. Williams’ Classroom blogs.

Of course the DAILE Moodle has been used by many students to blend their learning environment to include not only a classroom experience but also an interactive online component.  This tool has many components that comprise the best of what online learning can bring to a classroom. Even though our students pass through our doors for instruction each day, they are more plugged in then any generation has ever been. In addition, there are more tools then ever before which they must master as they progress through their educational experience.

This is only a sampling of some of what takes place in the labs on campus. I am proud of the projects we have done and the overall growth in the digital learning taking place in the Middle School.

Podcasting without a computer?

Gcast is a site that offers just such a service. You can use a phone to record your podcasts. The site is free and run by the folks who run What would happen if students could record their homework from the cell phone in their pocket?