Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Searching brought to life, App #8: Google Search Videos

Google Search Videos: Google Search Stories (make videos from your searches; examples were run in 2010 Super Bowl): (to create video) or (to watch video)

Synopsis: Google Search Videos generates videos based on a search. To begin, go to the video creator link listed above. You will find five searching blanks.

To begin, however, you should pick a specific topic that you want to research. In this case, it is the search that tells the story. Once a theme is picked, you can begin entering in correct searching terms and selecting the appropriate filter from the drop-down menu on the right (Web search, images, maps, news, etc.). Google gives you seven searching blanks. The movie ends on the seventh searching term. In the bottom, the video is previewed. Once all seven searching terms and their filters are selected, click on the add music tab. Here, you can select audio to play with the movie. Lastly, your story is created! When your story is created, you can add a title to your story, edit it, add a description, and upload it to youtube. Once the video is shared with youtube, you can download the video and edit it with a movie editing software.

Integration:  This is a great way to check students' understanding of Web searching and, specifically, Google searching. Their searching becomes a video that must lead to an outcome and must tell a story. In this way, students are forced to correctly search and show their work.There are countless searching videos on the Website listed above.

This is a good activity to complete at the beginning of a unit. Students will need to research background on a unit. As they research sites, they will put their searching keywords into the Google Search Videos creator. Their final set of searching terms should show the conclusion/answer they have researched. The video should show their research process and how they narrowed down their terms. As other students watch the videos, they too can see the searching process. Again, this video creator is a great way for refining the searching process and developing it into a movie that others can witness.

This video of a young man shows his search to "grow knowledge" and build a business.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Collaborating made easy, App #7: VoiceThread


(You have the ability to get a district/school/single educator educational subscription through The school and district subscriptions create logins for all students and faculty in a secure environment. The single educator/class subscription is less expensive, but creates fewer students accounts--max 50. The educational services do have a cost; however, you can set up a free account without having to utilize the ed.voicethread side of voicethread.)

Synopsis: How it works--When you create your account, you can go ahead and get started! Click on the Create tab (you can do this through the or link. You will see that you click on Upload. Within the Upload link, you can choose from your computer/flash drive, media sources, a URL, or your Webcam. You must upload images, docs, Webpages, and videos to this tab. You can even select photos from your Facebook account. With those items, you can compose a video with your voice. To do so, just select the files you want to upload and drag them into the correct order. Wait for them to upload. Then, click on the next link, the Comment link. It will ask you to select a picture for your identity (think of it as your profile picture) so you can choose to do it or ignore it. Then, you will notice that it already has your images/videos in a slide show. Click on the comment button beneath the slideshow. This will give you an option to either record audio (via a microphone or video) or record written text.When you click on the video recorder, telephone, record, or type buttons, you will have the chance to add your commentary about the video. However, if you want to mark up the screen, you need to click on type. A pen will appear and you can begin marking up the screen. You can repeat this for each image/video in the slideshow. If you choose to give a video commentary on a video slide, you will see your commentary off to the side, as if you are giving a narration of the scene. Below is the commentary scene.

When you are done adding your commentary, simply click save. You can also press the play button to see the entire "thread." Then, click on the Share link. In sharing, you have the option to share to an organization/group (if you have the educational subscription), getting the link and emailing it yourself, sending it to your contacts within VoiceThread, or choosing one of the options at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can get the embed code to insert it into a Webpage. You also have the option to export the video and to publish it (edit privacy and permissions settings.) In the top left, be sure to title your project and give it appropriate tags so others can search for it.

You may also click on the browse tab from the main page. This allows you to browse other videos created by keyword.

Integration: VoiceThread integrates easily into other platforms (like Websites), making it a great resource in education. It also comes ready with ideas on how to use VoiceThread in the classrom (link on main page). With the browse feature, teachers can browse for other videos created by teachers for lessons. And, with the create feature, teachers can create lessons and upload them to their Website so students can review their lesson when they get home and need the extra practice. How often do you feel you have grasped a concept, but when you get home, you realize you are unsure. With VoiceThread, teachers can create mini lessons and share them with their students so they can get the extra help they need. Students can also create video assignments and share them with their classmates. With VoiceThread, anyone who receives the link, has the ability to comment (through a microphone, video camera, or text) on each slide. Therefore, what was once a single author video now has contributions from any student in the class. And, commentary can be monitored. Students needing extra help on a lesson can comment on the VoiceThread and receive help from the teacher. Likewise, other students in the class can use VoiceThread for peer-review on threads that have been created. The ability to comment on threads that have been sent to you makes VoiceThread stand apart from other similar applications. Users can create a video from a variety of sources, mark it up, comment on it, and then, share it to others for their review. This is collaboration at its finest.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bookmarking with an old pro, App #6--Diigo


(If you create an account and then, apply for your education upgrade at, you can get Diigo's premium features for free.)

Synopsis: Though similar to Evernote, Diigo offers several different bookmarking and notetaking tools for users. Each application is a great resource, but they are a matter of preference. When you first join Diigo, you are asked to drag a "Diigolet pin" to your bookmarks bar (similar to how Pinterest works) on your browser. So, you may want to add this to all browsers you use (or all browsers on a network). If you want a more advanced option of Diigo, you can also install the feature rich Diigo toolbar. There are toolbars available for the different browsers. Essentially, Diigo allows students and teachers (and all users) to interact with a Webpage. With the simple Digolet toolbar, users have the option of highlighting text on a Webpage (in about five different color options), Bookmarking the page (and it is stored in their online account), adding a sticky note so they can jot down notes, share the page via Twitter, Facebook, email , or annotated link (send the current Webpage through email with all of the current mark-ups), or add it to the Diigo library (personal, groups, or network). However, the Diigo toolbar and educator's account allow you to do much, much more!

With the toolbar, users are connected with their Diigo account. There are Diigo apps for the iPad, Android, iPhone, and browsers. Users can use Diigo to automatically post their notes to a blog or to view all of the annotations made on a URL. And, what's even better is that Diigo continues to add features and make improvements every day!

Integration: In a manner similar to Evernote, teachers can now view students' notes they make while on the Web. With Diigo, however, students can send an annotated links with all of their notes and highlightings to their teacher or to other members of their group. Furthermore, the educator application allows teachers to quickly and easily set up accounts for all of their students and to systematically places students in different groups (by subject or hour). When students are in a group, they can share links, bookmarks, and notes. So, a teacher can share important links with members of a group (think of as an hour/period or subject) or students can share their annotations with members of their group or their teacher. Diigo opens up the world of sharing and collaboration. In the educator account, student privacy settings are set so only their teacher and classmates can interact them, thereby providing extra security. And, ads are at a minimum. Diigo has some great sharing capabilities that allow the teacher and students to interact on the minute details of research. With an online storage space, students do not have to worry about losing bookmarks; they can access them and their notes from anywhere. In an age where collaboration is an essential skill, Diigo tailors to that. If you are already a Diigo member, be sure to apply for the educator account so you can get premium resources at no cost.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taking a break from Apps with bullying

This week, I'm going to one of Columbia's truly great festivals: The True/False Film Festival. Each year, it grows and improves upon the last with more films, great presentations, and chances to learn the art of documentary. This year, the True Life Fund film is Bully the Movie. And, it will come to select theaters on March 30, 2012. I will post more after viewing the movie. However, it speaks to a topic that all educators should address and learn more about. What's even better is that it comes from the students themselves. It highlights the appropriate and life-changing effects that technology, when used effectively, can have. Just think of how this project changed the lives of the students involved, the lives of those viewing, the lives of those that get to share in the experience, and so forth. This furthers my belief that student-created documentaries have the power to change education within and outside of school. It speaks beyond the classroom walls. So, go and see Bully the Movie and witness the power of documentaries and a powerful message that is even more prominent now!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Digital Drop by, App #5: Clear Audio Dropboxes

Clear Audio Dropboxes:

(This feature is part of Michigan State University's tool kit.)

Synopsis: MSU created an audio/visual dropbox that can be embedded into any Webpage or blog. First, the creator must develop an account with Clear MSU (link listed above). And then, the developer can create as many dropboxes as is necessary. For instance, a teacher may create a dropbox for each class he/she teachers. Each dropbox produces an embed code (labeled as an HTML code) that may be copied and embedded in any blog or Webpage. Once it is embedded, users can access the Webpage where it is located, type in their name into the box. Be sure to have a microphone and/or video device hooked up and ready to go first. Then, it will ask if you allow Camera and Microphone access. Once "Allow" is clicked, the user can press the record button and begin recording. There are pause and stop buttons to help with the recording. When done, simply press stop and the recording will be added to the audio dropbox, which is viewable through the Website listed above.

Integration: Just place the embed code for the audio/video dropbox on any Website or blog and users can access it. At my district, we have primarily used this app for students to submit audio recordings to teachers, especially in the foreign languages. For instance, in a Spanish class, a student can go to wherever the teacher has placed the embedded audio dropbox and record their audio presentation or oral assessment. Later, the teacher can access the dropbox via the Web and listen to all of the recordings. Each recording is listed by the name the user used to identify his/herself. The files can be accessed for as long as necessary. In a journalism class, students can set up dropboxes in order to conduct interviews. By using the dropbox, the students can access the recordings (by name) whenever they need the data. And, with the visual component, any presentation can be created through the dropbox. The MSU dropbox submissions must be created in real-time so they will not accept file uploads. This means that students (or whoever the submitter is) must create the file once they have identified themselves. Therefore, I find this works best for formal or informal assessments as opposed to serving as an online storage space.

You may test out the dropbox above that I created. Record your thoughts regarding this post or digital literacy. You will see how simple it is to make an audio recording!


(You will need to download the application onto your hard drive or share/network drive.)

Synopsis: This tool is great for accessing files stored on another computer without having to remotely access the computer or store the files online. First, you must download the application from the Website listed above. As you download it, you will need to select where you want to store it. I tell my teachers to store it onto one of our shared network drives if they want the resource to be accessible to everyone. If you only want it accessible to you, just store it on your hard drive (space permitting). If you don't want to store it on a network share, you can also choose to share your files by right-clicking on the file or folder, selecting Dropbox, and selecting Share this folder. However, I find it just as easy to install the dropbox on a network share. When you are done with the installation, you will want to move any files you want in the dropbox (or begin saving them in the location) to where you saved your dropbox. If you saved your dropbox in a folder on your hard drive, migrate your files to that folder. Just remember that you can only place 2GB there for free. Lastly, when you want to access your files from any other computer, just go to, log in to the account you created during installation. You will see your files there. This does not grant you remote access to your computer, but it does give remote access to your files placed in the dropbox folder.

Integration:  I only recently started using this application since I already use software like LogMeIn that lets me remotely access my computer from a Web browser anywhere. However, this is a great tool for someone who only wants to access a few files. Drop box allows you to store up to 2GB free and then, there is a charge. This is also great for students who want to have a back-up of their files. For instance, if they forget their assignment at home, the student can login to their dropbox account and access the file, granted they saved it in the dropbox folder. Teachers may also place files here for students to access. However, if they are doing so, they will need to share the folder or place the folder in a shared space. Students, then, will each need dropbox accounts. If students are working in groups, they may place files in their dropbox and grant access to their group members and teacher. Within the dropbox, you have the option of placing files in the Public folder. Any file placed in this folder will be given a URL that can be shared via email, a Website/blog, etc. Students wanting to create a Webpage may also use a dropbox to store files so they can access them remotely. Teachers may also set up dropboxes on network drives where students can save their assignments. When the teacher is ready to view the assignments, he/she needs only to login to their dropbox account. The files will be located there for easy access. Though this does not grant remote access to computers, it does provide a secure backup of files for students and teachers.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bringing the cloud to your desktop: App #4--Google Cloud Connect Toolbar

Google Cloud Connect Toolbar:

(You have the choice of downloading the MSI file to push out the installation to all computers on a network or downloading the individual instal file for single users. For personal use, just download the EXE file.)

Synopsis: Though the feature has been available for over a year or two now, Google's Cloud Connect toolbar still amazes me. When this file is download and installed (in a process of less than five minutes), a toolbar appears beneath the typical Office toolbar on MS Excel, MS Word, and MS PowerPoint. The first time you access MS Word, MS Excel, OR MS PowerPoint, click on the drop down menu next to Google Cloud Connect. You will notice that you can choose to Open from Google Docs. If you select this option, you can migrate any of your Google Documents into one of your Office programs without download the file. And, when you have made your changes on the Office program, you can sync them back to the cloud. From the drop down menu, however, you must first select Google Cloud Connect Settings. In the dialog box that opens, enter in your account information. Select the default sync setting (I leave mine on the Automatic). And, choose your default save location. If you use a proxy, you must also click on the Proxy settings box and enter in the appropriate information. Once you have done that the first time, you never have to do it again for your account!

With Cloud Connect, you can choose to open any existing file (from Google Docs or from your hard drive/share) or create a new file (via MS Word, MS Excel, or MS PowerPoint) as you typically would. When you are ready to save the document (as you normally would), you can press Save. If you have your settings set to sync automatically, you will notice that the sync bar lights up green and a URL appears. This is the URL to your document on the cloud. If you login to your Google Docs account, you will see the file there as well. In the far right of the toolbar, you can adjust your share settings as you would normally from Google Docs. And, that's it!

Integration: No more flash drives! As a technology coordinator, I see the horrors daily of students and teachers losing documents. With Google Cloud Connect, you can seamlessly back up all of your Office document to the Cloud. Therefore, documents are not tied to a single computer or device. In my district, our secretary writes the daily announcements on a PowerPoint slideshow. Since she has the Cloud Connect toolbar, when  she saves the file, it syncs to our Google Apps for Education space. She has her share settings set so the public can view it and a view can edit it. As an editor, I grabbed the embed code and placed it on our district homepage. Hence, she is making changes to our school Website from PowerPoint on her computer. Likewise, any student, if given the permissions, can make changes to the Website instantaneously. Instead of having to upload a new assignment or syllabus to their Website each year, teachers can make the changes on their MS Word document and it will automatically sync to their Website. So, the workload is cut in half. The Cloud Connect toolbar is great for backing up files, cutting out the workload, and giving authorship rights to students and teachers. Once you start using it, you will not want to go back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Notetaking at the Ritz: App #3--Evernote


(You can access your Web account from the Website above OR you can access it through a browser add-in.)

Synopsis: Evernote allows users to capture ANYTHING on the Web and then, jot down your notes on it. That "note" is saved in your Web account for you to access anytime from anywhere. Yes, this means you can capture images, sounds, text, and video AND comment on it.Then, you can go back and review and even search your notes from anywhere anytime. Users can create notebooks in order to categorize their notes. And, there is even an app for it on your iPad. Notebooks and notes can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, links, and email. Notes and notebooks can be printed, deleted, and edited after being saved.

Integration: Researching is brought into the 21st century with Evernote. Think back to the notecard Bibliographies that students created in the early 90s and prior. Now, that has been moved into a digital format. However, students can now create a digital notecard of the image, sound, video, or text they capture, record the address and citation, and jot down notes on the card. A student's entire set of research can be commented on and placed in their Web portfolio. What's even better is that it is FREE! If a teacher wants to review a student's "notecards," the student has a variety of options by which to share the notebook (Facebook, Twitter, link, or email). With the browser add-in, students can click on the Evernote button when they find a resource they like or need. The Evernote window pops up and allows them to comment on the resource and save it to their appropriate notebook and make the necessary editing/highlighting marks. The possibilities with Evernote are endless. It forces students and teachers to make digital literacy a priority and enforce citations and Website evaluations. By being able to view a student's notes and inner thoughts regarding the source, teachers can call upon students to make revisions in their assessments of sources.

Other products by Evernote:

  • Evernote Hello: Helps you remember people by creating a profile on your phone. Check out the video

  • Evernote Food: Allows you to snap pictures of food and add captions and share it. Check out the video: 

  • Evernote Clearly:Allows you to clear away all of the distraction in online reading so you can read easier. Check out the video:

  • Evernote Peek: Allows you to turn your Evernote notes into study materials. Check out the video: 

  • Skitch: Allows you to use annotation and markup in your notes. (For visual learners) Check out the video:

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    An oldie, but a goodie, App #2: Audacity

    Audacity: (Click here for downloading the Beta version--only version Windows 7 can use).

    Note: When downloading, you must download the Audacity file AND the LAME MP3 encoder (also available on the Website above) in order to export MP3 files. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    Synopsis: Audacity is a great example of open source software. It is free for the public and it only asks that the public use it for the common good. It has all of the capabilities of Apple's Garage Band, but without the Apple requirement. Its features include:
    • Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.
    • Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.
    • Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).
    • Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.
    • Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.
    • Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.
    • Very fast editing of large files.
    • Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.
    • Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.
    • Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.
    • Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.
    • Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.
    • Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.
    • Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.
    • Other built-in effects include:
      • Echo
      • Phaser
      • Wahwah
      • Reverse
    • Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.
    • Record at up to 96 kHz.
    • Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.
    • Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in realtime.
    • Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.
    • “Plot Spectrum” command for detailed frequency analysis.
    Audacity offers everything from the most technical skill to the beginner skill. When done editing Audacity files, users can choose from a variety of export options including MP3 format. The MP3 formats can be inserted into a Windows Movie Maker movie, iMovie, or another digital storytelling creator. Tracks can also be shared on RSS feeds. 

    Integration: Think of Audacity as the backbone for digital storytelling and the backbone for any assignment or application that involves auditory skills. Audacity can be used in any class and in any grade level. And, though, students in the younger grade levels may not be able. When I taught high school English, my students used Audacity when working with Windows Movie Maker and Premiere. Since Movie Maker only allows two tracks to play simultaneously, users cannot have narration going while a song is also running. Therefore, my students used Audacity to mix the audio tracks into one file for an easy import. They did this from simple voice narration over song to a mixing of various songs and interview clips. Students were able to trim out background noise and accentuate voices over background sounds. Through Audacity, I was able to teach my students how to tell a story and how to communicate with only sound: audio literacy. And even though elementary students may not be able to manipulate sounds on their own, they can all record sounds and choose sounds for the class to mix into one.

    Another application that produces a similar product is Aviary, free for Google Apps for Education users. However, it allows users to generate an embed code for the audio file when it is generated. This code can be embedded within school Websites. For instance, students can compose an audio file highlighting the upcoming school play. Then, they can embed that file into the district Website for all viewers to hear.

    Audio literacy is at its finest with Audacity.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    App 1--Starting simple with Zamzar

    Synopsis: This handy Website is an online conversion tool. Within several minutes, it can convert your Youtube video URL into an AVI file that plays in Windows Media Player or any other media playing software on your computer. Say goodbye to streaming videos! And, what is even better? It is free. However, if you want to convert unlimited files and store them via Zamzar, there is a small fee. For the general user, that feature is unnecessary, though.

    To use Zamzar free, simply go to Either click on the URL link to paste in the URL of a video or audio clip or document you would like to convert OR click on the Browse button and find a file to convert. It can convert any file type ranging from: E-book, video, audio, zip, image to doc/PDF. Next, choose the file type you want to convert it to. Lastly, enter in your email address. In several minutes, Zamzar will send an email to the email address you entered. In the email, you will find a link to a personalized space in Zamzar. Click on that link in order to download the converted file. You can do this for as many files as you want. However, if you would prefer to have them automatically converted on Zamzar (without going through email), you will have to pay.

    Integration into the classroom:  Think about all of those Youtube videos you want to show, but either your district has Youtube blocked, or you don't have enough bandwidth to stream the videos. Well, Zamzar eliminates those obstacles. Now, you can download any video (that is not copyright protected, so be sure to check the video's copyright status) and convert it to an AVI or similar file for download and playing via your computer. In addition, teachers can convert PDFs to Word documents. With the scanning feature on many copy machines now, old print-outs can be scanned and sent as a PDF via email to a user's account. With Zamzar, that file can be converted to an editable DOC file. Therefore, teachers and students do not need to fear losing a digital copy of a document anymore. Furthermore, those with Interactive Whiteboards can interact with the editable DOC files. Zamzar helps bridge the communication gap between computers and various types of software programs. It is like the translator of the computer world.

    Zamzar is the first of many great file converters available online. Stay tuned for more apps and more integration tips.

    30 apps in 30 days

    Over the next 30 days, I will showcase a "revolutionary" educational technology app and will present ways on how to integrate it effectively into the classroom. Stay tuned for the 30 apps in 30 days showcase!

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Social Media and School Leaders

    After the school board's decision (Missouri passed a law in the fall of 2010 that required all school boards to pass rulings on whether teachers can remain "friends" with students and former students under the age of 18) last night on Facebook and teachers, I found this article appropriate:

    Googleizing with Google Apps for EDU

    In 2010, I initiated Google Apps for Education at our district. Since then, I have been gradually deploying additional applications. Yesterday, I deployed: Digication, Grockit, and Aviary. Those these apps are not Google products, they do connect to Google accounts through the OpenID and single sign-on features I have enabled.

    Though I am not in denial with my staff's use of Google Apps, the staff is gradually using each application more. Unfortunately, with dated technology and limited lab space, the staff has a series of fairly legitimate excuses for why they have not utilized such features. And, in a rural district, the knowledge and relevancy base is already limited. However, I believe the latest three apps I deployed have the power to motivate more staff members to use Google's features.

    Aviary is comparable to Photoshop's FREE to Google Apps for Education users. It gives users the ability to make podcasts, create vectors, add filters, create filters, and create audio files (and embed them in various Websites). And, unlike other programs, Aviary connects to Google Docs so all files created are synced into a user's Google account. Within the audio field, users can choose from a sampling of tracks to provide background and interlude music for podcasts. Aviary is accessible and easy to use for ALL.

    Grockit is great for counselors. With the single sign-on feature, students can login to Grockit through their Google account. Within Grockit, students and teachers have access to an academy, SAT/ACT prep, and AP prep. The prep includes videos, study rooms where users can chat and interact with others in their topic area, and quizzes. Quiz scores are synced with their Google accounts so all data can be submitted to the corresponding teacher.

    Digication is a space for ePortfolios. Users have the ability to select from 3 templates (one is user-generated), of which one is for K-12 education. In the education template, there is a space for adding modules and resumes and other features desired on a portfolio. This site cuts out the leg work that often deters teachers from ePortfolios. Additionally, Digication can be used to create simple teacher Websites. And, once again, users can access this site for free from their Google account.

    These three applications have the ability to bring others to our Google Apps for Educators account when they may have just skipped past it in the past. However, the road ahead is still long. Unfortunately, technology is not viewed as a part of the classroom by all yet. Rather, it is viewed as a treat or something to do only in the confines of a lab. The notion that technology is an everyday thing and an everyday tool as common and routine as the desk is still a distant concept. It is this concept that needs to continue to be pushed forward by administrators in order to move classrooms ahead.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Making social media effective

    In light of the horrendous story of the Massachusetts' girls whose Facebook pictures were plastered all over a child pornography site, I watch as educators and others alike cringe at the mention of 'social media' or 'Facebook.' (Click this Fox News link for background on the story: However, is it the social media that is horrendous in these cases or is it the user? Do schools teach etiquette on the Web or is it expected that they know it? Are students allowed to access social media in the confines of classroom or are they only allowed to access it in the freedom of their home?

    With cases of inappropriate uses of social media covering the news, educators and administrators have been placing more and more restrictions on such sites. However, have the instances actually happened at school? Usually not. Will students continue to access the sites at home? Yes.

    So, what can educators, parents, and administrators do? They can teach students how to make it something good, something useful, something life-altering.  

    Social media is what you make it. It is not innately bad. So, let's use it to create engaging, inspiring lessons that change the future of education.

    Check out this article on eSchoolNews on ways students can make social media effective:

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Collaboration is key

    "Teach the ability, not the technology," Adam Bellow preached to a crowd of 2,000 educators at the annual METC in St. Charles, MO. Technology will come and go in fads. However, the ability will not. And, collaboration is the most important 21st century skill. Our students, educators, parents, and community members need to  be able to collaborate. And, what better way to collaborate than by using Google Apps for Education?

    You can check out more of Adam Bellow's presentation at
    Stay tuned for more information on how to collaborate--21st century style.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Wired Magazine's Gadget Lab

    This is a great series in Wired Magazine tha tis updated weekly. This week, they discuss the iPad 3 and useful updates to it before it's released.

    Google a day revisited

    Last year, I stumbled upon a great searching tool game from Google: A Google a Day. Though I sent it out to my staff at the time, it was during finals and I did not receive a lot of feedback. However, I think revisiting it would be a great idea for this spring! Essentially, A Google a Day is a searching puzzle. Each day, it gives players a new question and calls upon them to use their searching skills to find the correct answer. The following day, you will find the correct answer. Since you may be able to see published answers from A Google a Day in the regular Google search engine, you just want to use the A Google a Day searching tool at:

    You can read more about the tool on Wired Magazine's Website at:

    Happy Searching!

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Making my digital footprint

    As I write this first post on my blog, Literacy 2.0, I think of the digital footprint and legacy I am creating. Yet, this is not the first time I have left my footprint in the digital world. In fact, if you Google "Christy Fennewald," you will find 20 personal results and over 24,000 others. Since "Christy Fennewald" is not a common name, I can assume that many of those connections are direct references to things I've posted or things that have referenced my name. This is your digital footprint. And, this is something every student should be asked to do--Google your name.

    Unlike people in my parents' age bracket (50+), people under 40 have their lives on the Web. I cannot search my parents' teen years and find their daily thoughts and pictures. However, I can search my nieces and nephews' thoughts dating back to 2008. If I can search it, however, so can their future employers and schools. What they have posted is now available for everyone to see, forever. Therefore, it is now more important than ever to explain and teach digital etiquette--what is appropriate behavior and posting criteria on the Web? How powerful is your digital footprint? Does your footprint leave a legacy or a smudge on the Web? With the birth of Web 2.0, everyone has become an author and with that comes responsibility--the essence of digital literacy.

    So, today, I ask you--what is your digital footprint you are leaving behind?