So long Pownce

The troubling economic conditions hit a little closer to home today when I received an e-mail from Pownce announcing their decision to close as of December 15th. I earlier wrote that I thought Pownce would be a great tool for teachers to use to reach out to both parents and students because of some neat features such as document attachments. Fortunately, the team at Pownce have found positions on the enginering team at Six Apart so they won't have to worry about this Christmas season.

Unfortunatley, this may be the first of other Web 2.0 applications that would be beneficial in the classroom or have become teacher favorites. Hopefully, when we get out of this economic mess the surviving Web 2.0 companies will be able to offer exciting applications for teachers and students. Until then we will just have to weather the storm by supporting each other as much as possible.

Good bye Pownce, we hardly knew you.

Award Winning

Last week I was notified by the South Carolina Association For Educational Technology (SCAET) that my experimental class, Web Media Productions, won a Technology Innovative Program Award in the Middle School Category. I will have the honor of accepting this award for H.E. McCracken Middle School at the awards luncheon at SC EdTech on November 7th.

Although I applied for the award, I am still surprised when I got the notification we won because the impact was on the total student body was small. However, the lesson was not just for students. One course goal was to prove two things to teachers . First, web applications can be used in any subject. Students created projects using a variety of applications in Math, Reading, English, and Social Studies. These projects were shared with students' respective teachers. The second goal was for teachers to see these projects could be achieved in a timely manner without the use of a computer lab. Students worked on computers in other teachers' rooms. I wanted to prove technology-based projects could be done with some planning, recoginzing resources, and teamwork.

At first I thought my ideas did not take. Adminstration opted to create a much bigger web media class. However, a few teachers approached me about using web applications such as blogging and podcasting. Computer lab time will again be at a premium this year but hopefully teachers will be creative in using "out-of-the-box" ideas in doing technology-based projects. Maybe this award is deserved after all. Yeah Me!

Moving On

This semester I will be teaching a course to 6th graders on Web 2.0 Media Communications. The students will learn how to use blogs, podcasts, webcasts, and online videos in their classes. For the blog part of the class, I have selected Learnerblogs for the students, Edublogs product. To keep things together I am moving Teacher Bytes over to Edublogs as well.

Here is the new link to Teacher Bytes:
Please update your news feeders and bookmarks.
Here is the first posting on Edublogs:

See you on the other side.


Let's invite the Huns

Since I got back from the South Carolina EdTech Conference, things have been hectic around here but I wanted to share some things I got from the conference. It seemed for me and some others I spoke with, this conference could be a transition conference. What I mean is that we have been hearing Web 2.0 hype for awhile. While Web 2.0 is important for the future of education I feel there is something bigger building up and coming down the pike soon. My guess is distance learning will be the coming thing because it will bring together all of the Web 2.0 tools and can link students to teachers who can help them.

The other thing I took away is it may be time to bring students into the conversation on how best to educate them. For the second year in a row, we heard experts talk about how today's students are different because they are "Digital Natives" and have a different way of doing things. Districts across the country are spending millions or maybe billions of dollars, hiring and firing consultants, hiring and firing school administrators, to make Federal Government mandates. Yet, I have never heard of any true discussions about education which involves students. There was one brave young man who entered the Fireside Chat during the K12 Online Conference who provided thoughtful contributions to the conversation that night. Perhaps we need to hear more from young people like him. Perhaps it can give some fresh perspective on what needs to be done.

All in all, it was a good conference and I am looking forward to next year.

SC EdTech 2007

I arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the South Carolina EdTech conference. Over the next three days I will be giving updates at this blog or at or

Things I am looking forward to:
Innovative use of Web 2.0 in the classroom
Dr. Jim Rex's keynote address
New web portal applications
Distance Learning

Things that concern me:
More podcasting
Non discript Web 2.0 sessions

It should be an interesting 3 days. Stay tuned.

What a tangled web we weave

Yesterday, our school had two non-related training sessions conducted by our district office staff. One was training us on the new professional development system, The other was taking care of benefit questions and showing everyone how our benefit tracking has now moved to a website. It later struck me how more and more services are moving to the Internet and the Web.

Wiki for the Left Brained

While I am known in my district as "that podcast guy" the Web 2.0 tools I like the most are wikis. The ability to create a web page quickly that allows others to edit is like a dream come true for teachers who want to do collaborative projects but not sure how to spread out the credit for participation in completing the project. There is always one or two groups where one person does most of the work while the rest sit back and take credit. Good wikis allow people to see a history of a page's development with who has done particular edits to a page.

PBWiki has become popular because of its ease of use and its word processor-like wysiwyg interface. Now there is a new wiki for the more random, left-brain, creative types: PikiWiki. PikiWiki is like doing a scrapbook, you start with a blank sheet then paste text, pictures, video, audio anywhere on the page. Each item on the page is like a note. If you don't like the look of your page you can slide the notes around to suit you. There are also tools to help you with the alignment of your items. The concept is good and should prove popular to teachers who embrace wikis as classroom tools. Click here for a sample page I put together using PikiWiki.

Keep in mind, PikiWiki is in a public alpha which means this wiki site is just getting started and still has bugs to work out. One problem is the site does not show the page history which shows page comparisons detailing the evolution of a page. Since you cannot see the page comparisons, you cannot restore an earlier version of the page if someone attempts to sabotage the page (we all know students who might try this). Once the kinks are worked out of the system, the people of the PikiWiki told me they will, PikiWiki should become a great tool for teachers and students.

Intel to package tools for collaboration

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Think of it as Wikipedia for the workplace. Intel Corp., the world's largest computer chip maker, now wants to provide businesses with software to create blogging, wiki and news feed services to connect employees on collaborative projects.

Here is an article I viewed the other day about how Intel is going to offer a suite of Web 2.0 tools geared toward small and large businesses. The idea is for employees to connect and work on projects collaboratively. This is further proof that more and more applications are moving towards the web and businesses are using the interactive web to increase productivity. Students in our schools should be shown how Web 2.0 tools are used in a working environment to produce real results and not these tools shut off because something offensive might be posted. By shutting out bloging, wiki, podcast, and photo sites such as Flickr or Photobucket we are actually building a wall around ourselves and choose not to see what our students are actually doing, without supervision. We need to work with students to show them how to use Web 2.0 tools responsibly as well as productively.