The Online Addiction

BalanceThis morning I came across a post on Beth Still’s Nebraska Change Agent blog titled, Finding Balance. Beth writes about her commitment to finding balance between her online time and spending quality time with her family. This is a struggle many (all?) of us face. Here is my response to Beth’s post on how I am trying to ‘unplug and reconnect’.

Beth,

You describe a struggle many of us face. Not only is there work to be done (I’ve got my office in my lap!) but I often justify that I am fulfilling my lifelong learning goals by being connected.

It may seem silly, but I find the need to schedule time for relaxation and family/friends. I am trying to flip that and schedule time for online work/access. This will become more important as I have just begun a yearlong, rigorous online A&S certification program.

I have long since turned off my email sounds and taken the twitter pop-ups preference off. This has helped immensely. I check email at intervals, rather than constantly. During the school year this will change a bit due to the nature of my job, but when I am home, I am pledging to be more ‘present’.

I am also not constantly walking around with my phone in my pocket at home. I actually leave it upstairs for hours at a time! There are days where I just can’t turn on Twitter due to limited time. I know I am missing out on some great things, but I also know my PLN is always there; I don’t need to know or read everything.

As for my Reader, I am spending more time reading ‘offline’ when I have the time: on an airplane, waiting at the dentist, etc. Blogs, Readers, email, Facebook, they can all wait. Family and friends cannot.

Gotta run. I’m out the door to walk the dogs. It’s a beautiful day!

What are you doing to create a balance between your online life and your family?

Image attribution: http://u.nu/74uk

Effective Technology Leadership

2009leadershipday02Happy Leadership Day 2009! As I watched my twitterfeed today, I noticed the hashtag #leadershipday09. After a little investigating, I learned that Leadership Day was started by Scott McLeod in 2007. The idea behind this day is for bloggers to craft posts to assist their (or any) adminstrator with the idea of being a leader with regard to educational technology. As Dr. McLeod says,

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Most of them didn’t grow up with these technologies. Many are not using digital tools on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

There are a list of prompts on Dr. McLeod’s blog entry for this year’s Leadership Day. I have chosen this one:

Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?

This prompt is particularly meaningful to me due to the fact that I have recently begun an administration and supervision program through Johns Hopkins University in partnership with ISTE, so I have been thinking about the link between adminstration and leadership with educational technology.

To be an effective administrator and technology leader in the 21st Century, one must:

  • understand technology is a critical piece to teaching and learning
  • support and expect the use of technology in their schools
  • recognize and understand the difference between effective and ineffective uses of technology in the classroom
  • provide professional development opportunities for district staff (including themselves) to learn more about effective use of technology in schools
  • budget and plan for the replacement of technology equipment
  • surround him/herself with tech-savvy staff
  • hire technology staff to manage and maintain the district/school infrastructure
  • stipulate accountability for teachers to use technology both personally and with their students
  • communicate the district vision of the use of technology in the teaching and learning process
  • develop a community of learners to foster continued learning with technology

I think administrators can be effective technology leaders without blogging, podcasting, or even having a twitter account. What is important is for administrators to understand the potential and power of these tools and value their use for students and teachers.

Crossposted at JudithEpcke.wordpress.com

Teaching and Learning with iPods @NECC09

iPod touchMy district will be implementing some sets of iPod Touches during the 2009-2010 school year and I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about their use in schools. I attended 3 sessions at NECC 2009 that gave me some great ideas and information

Tony Vincent, handheld guru, presented a session called: Do So Much With an iPod Touch. Tony’s presentations are always wonderfully well organized and have something for everyone.

Here are some great apps and ideas he shared:

  • places to look for iPod apps besides the iTunes store: appshopper, mobclix
  • earbuds are available from Walmart for $0.97. Beats having kids share them. Ew!

*Note: Games labeled as “lite” are free versions of a paid application. Lite versions usually have fewer levels or settings/options to entice you into buying the full-featured version. Lite versions often are enough for a school setting.

  • Language Arts
    • Whiteboard Lite* — 2 devices share one ‘whiteboard’. Have students pose math problems to partner, create a list of synonyms together (can be saved for use later)
    • Quickword ($4.99) — word processor, can be used for peer editing: ‘red hot’ words (strong words) make them red, ‘cold words’ that need revision color them blue
    • Dictionary.com — once downloaded you don’t a wifi connection, a dictionary that is always with you
    • Lifestrips ($2.99) and Comic Touch ($2.99, also a Lite* version) — create comics, add speech bubbles and effects to photos, the ideas are limitless
  • Social Studies
    • convert YouTube videos into mp4 format (needed to play on iPod) by using kickyoutube.com
      • first access the video on YouTube
      • then add ‘kick’ to the url before ‘youtube’ in the URL (ie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ becomes http://www.kickyoutube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ)
      • choose the mp4 format and download
      • drag into iTunes on computer
      • add to iPod during next sync
    • Inflation ($0.99) — see the relative prices of most anything from 1800 to the present
    • Google Maps (installed on iPod Touches as ‘Maps app’ — take a photo of a place/building and use with other maps
    • Allli’s Jigsaw Puzzle ($0.99) — turn any picture into a jigsaw puzzle, let kids put together to review a concept
    • create a list of links for students using wirenode.com
      • creates a mobile website for students to access using Safari on iPod
      • eliminates need for bookmarking in Safari on each iPod
  • Science
    • Flipbook Lite* — create animations of processes or cycles
      • will need a stylus to draw with detail
      • can upload animation or see what others have created on flipbook.tv
    • Belkin Mic (or similar) — have students narrate during a field trip or while performing an experiment (will need to put audio into GarageBand on a Mac (or similar audio editing software on PC) if editing audio is desired)

The “Birds of a Feather” session Using iTouch and iPhones for Teaching and Learning, dealt with a huge gamut of topics with lots of folks popping up from the audience to add to the learning. It was a wonderful structure and a rich learning experience. It can be viewed here thanks to Scott Meech for posting the video and the folks at ISTE for recording it.

Here’s a tidbit from the session, Global Connections in the Primary Classroom:

  • Australian teacher Amanda Marrinan has her Years 2s (which is equivalent to first grade, I think), read books into an iPod and then sends the iPod home with the child so parents can hear their children’s reading fluency. She stated that many parents say they are too busy to sit down and listen to their children read. She also has them podcast what they are learning and posts it to their blog.

For more iPod apps, ideas and information please check these sites: