Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nursing Assistant Practice and Review  Hospital English  Prepared for English as a Second Language student. Work on vocabulary, hear the vocabulary, lessons, matching and fill in the blank.  English Spanish vocabulary, dialogue  Hangman game, anatomy words  English vocabulary for hospitals and health  Spanish/English medical terms and phrases

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Interactive Social Assessment: Poll Everywhere
Here's a Web 2.0 tool to immediately create interest during PowerPoint presentations:
  • Ask your audience a question
  • They answer using SMS text messages or the web
  • Results update live in your web browser or PowerPoint
This is the URL for the classroom side of the picture:
Yes, it does require people to have cell phones and text messaging or browsing capabilities, but imagine the uses this would have in an audience.  There is no charge for up to 30 people using it at a time. Costs for larger groups are quite reasonable. You can sign up for free and there is instant set-up. No equipment (other than the cell phones) is needed.

Increase classroom participation and attentiveness
Encourage risk-taking with anonymous student responses
Elicit diverse opinions when there isn't a correct answer
Expose social misconceptions
Gauge student comprehension of material immediately
Grab students with thought-provoking opening questions
Allow students to provide instructor feedback
Automate taking attendance
Assess last night's reading with a quick quiz
Strengthen retention

Poll Everywhere can accept student responses via SMS text messaging on mobile phones, smartphones with data plans, or regular computers and wireless laptops via the web. Smartphones such as BlackBerries, iPhones, and Windows Mobile devices are quickly gaining popularity, and students can bypass SMS text messaging fees by responding through their smartphone web browser.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Create Screencasts:

ScreenToaster is a free online screencast service allowing to capture screen activity. ScreenToaster is compatible with Windows Vista, Mac OS and Linux. It's incredibly easy to use and understand. It's still in beta format, but you can request an invitation to join. A demo explaining the site is embedded below.

To watch videos : Just click on a video to launch the player.

To record videos : Click on "Start recording" or "New recording", start recording using the shortcuts.

When finished, add audio and subtitles, describe and tag your video so other users can easily find your screencasts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

G Cast: Audio Podcast   Here is another example of an audio only podcast that uses any telephone to set up. (see previous post on The sites are similar in function. This is the Gcast blurb:

"What's a podcast? Your own audio broadcast, where you can easily record voice messages, mix in your favorite music, and share it all for the world to hear.

Create your podcast for FREE!
Take a quick tour
FREE hosting
FREE podsafe music
Mix playlists online
Embed your podcast
Record by phone
Email alerts

Gcast is run by the same people that run Our goal with GarageBand is to redefine how music is discovered and promoted. Our goal with Gcast is to make personal broadcasting simple. In pursuing these goals we hope to democratize both music and media"

Here is how to use it:
First you need to set up an account. To set up an account (;/, begin by clicking on the Sign up now link You will be taken to a form that asks your email address, your zip code, and a password. Fill out the form and click I Agree, create my account . You can edit your podcast's name and description and upload a picture if you choose. Click Next. The next step will ask you to enter the ten-digit phone number that you would like to register with as well as a four-digit PIN number.
You should receive a confirmation email. Before you start podcasting, open this email and click on the confirmation link. Now, your class is ready to start podcasting using any phone. Once finished recording, press 3, and the recording will immediately be published.
Thanks to CC Long from the Classroom 2.0 Discussion for the info.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Classroom 2.0 Discussion Groups

I highly recommend Classroom 2.0 as a tool for educators ( ). In addition to various blogs and wikis, discussion groups and other informative, collaborative social networking, the site also has some interesting tools you can embed into your own elements. Check it out!

DigiSkills Group

"Developing Digital Skills @ School" is devoted to teachers and students working on innovative digital teaching methods like blogging, webquests, wikis, podcasting et cetera. Additionally, the project is open to educators all over the world.

Quintura: Visual Cloud Search Engine Quintura takes searching to a new level...up in the clouds. It employs the new cloud technology to provide a more visual search, and also lets you see not just the usual search results, but also any images or videos that are in the selected websites. The images are useful if you need some quick visuals for PowerPoint presentations etc.

It also has an Amazon tab which shows you books available on the subject. It includes a widget building script so you can easily add it to your blogs or wikis (there's a sample in the right hand column).

For second language learners, the clouds help them find the exact information they need if they have difficulty determining effective key words, and the visualization helps them to check that what they have found is what they were indeed searching.

"Visualization becomes the center of user experience replacing antiquated listings and Boolean strings.

Visual Find Engine
While viewing the Quintura Cloud, you can visually navigate and easily refine in order to find relevant information faster and more efficiently!"

Scribd: Document Sharing Site

One of the most daunting tasks for people using the Web is the number of formats that are used, and the difficulty of using them cross platforms. This takes the idea of a PDF file and brings it to the Web 2.0 audience, allowing it to be used effectively on websites. From the Cogdogroo site:(   "Scribd is one of the best web tools for English Language Learners to use for language development. They can write a few sentences, a story, or an essay; easily upload it to Scribd, and, then, within seconds, have its text-to-speech capability read it back to them. Plus, it’s hosted there for free." (Larry Ferlazzo:

Scribd is a San Francisco startup company changing the way people share documents online. You can think of Scribd as a big online library where everyone can publish original content, including you!
Since Scribd launched in March 2007, it has become one of the top 300 websites on the Internet, receiving over 20 million monthly visitors. It has also accumulated over 17 billion words in its library, making it five times the size of Wikipedia.

The Ideas Behind Scribd
Scribd began with a simple observation – there are billions of documents sitting siloed on people's hard drives. By making it easy for people to publish their documents to the internet, Scribd has unlocked this treasure trove of information. Every day, nearly a million people come to, most of them seeking some piece of information stored in this library. Some percentage of these people sign up for Scribd to be a part of the Scribd community and upload their own documents, perpetuating the cycle which powers Scribd's growth.
One of early problems Scribd encountered was that there was no good format for displaying its documents, as formats like PDF, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint were designed before the Internet existed.
iPaper and Scribd Platform:
In response, Scribd created iPaper, the first document format built for the web. Like YouTube's player did for video formats, iPaper standardizes all document formats into one viewer that can be seamlessly integrated into webpages. Recognizing the value of this technology, Scribd released the Scribd Platform, which allows any website to use iPaper to display their documents.
Through, iPaper, and the Scribd Platform, Scribd is changing the way people view, publish, and monetize documents. Through our vast library of content and our unique document display technology, we hope to unlock the information in the world's documents and make it readily accessible to everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Audio Dropboxes

CLEAR: Michigan State University Documentation Information Login and program (free)

A dropbox for paper assignments is a box where students place their homework,papers, or other assignments. Teachers can then retrieve the papers at their convenience.
An audio dropbox is an audio collection tool that can be put on any web page.Students record themselves using the tool, and their recordings are placed in the instructorʼs dropbox automatically.
Audio Dropboxes can be used to add speaking to language courses. You can have students describe pictures on a web page, read a text passage, or respond  to open-ended questions.

Center for Language Education and Research: CLEAR Michigan State University

"Welcome to CLEAR's online store. CLEAR was established in 1996 as a Language Resource Center (LRC) through a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As an LRC, CLEAR strives to promote and support the teaching and learning of foreign languages in the United States through its various projects and outreach activities.
The majority of our products are available free of charge. This includes web applications for language learning and teaching, CD-ROMs, and a variety of downloadable PDF publications. Some products, such as language learning software, workbooks, and videos, are available for a modest cost."

Yugma: Online Collaboration Tool Free, unless you want more robust usage features. " Yugma is the easy, secure and reliable collaboration tool for Windows, Mac and Linux. With Yugma, you really can collaborate better. Yugma enables any group to spontaneously collaborate on projects in real-time. Collaborate anytime with off-site team members, give virtual presentations, host webinars, streamline workflow, provide remote tech support, and much more."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Learn Spanish, Italian, German or French easily online. Learn vocabulary, situational language , grammar, tutorials and more. Requires a short, free signup.
"Learn languages in a playful and intuitive way. Unlike traditional learning methods, our concept is about fun, individual interest and the joy of learning. Join the Babbel community. Babbel's at its best when you're having fun and working together with others. Apply and improve your language knowledge in active conversations with other Babbel users. Learn at your own pace
With Babbel you learn what you want, when you want. No matter what your level is, the system adapts to your learning speed so you can learn on your own, or it gives you guidance to follow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

dabbleBOARD: Collaborative Whiteboard

Here's another collaborative whiteboard that was suggested by a reader. If you need visuals, dabbleBOARD is a great tool for letting you collaboratively draw your ideas. This is their blurb:

Dabbleboard is a powerful online whiteboard that's actually easy and fun to use. With a revolutionary new interface, Dabbleboard gets out of your way and just lets you draw.
Draw with flexible tools. Reuse previously-made drawings. Share and collaborate in real-time. All as naturally as using a marker or a pencil.

Reader Zohair gave this review: " Looks like you're covering a bunch of collaborative whiteboard apps today. I suggest giving Dabbleboard a try as well. As a whiteboard, it's got an innovative UI that makes drawing much easier and faster than anything else.
Admittedly it's just a whiteboard app and doesn't include other conferencing features, which we believe can be handled by several other applications anyway."

Thanks for sharing, and I will work on my skills of drawing with a mouse. We do so many planning sessions here at the college, and having a tool that can be quickly accessed to draw out ideas seems to have a lot of value. I think it could save time as well by sending to others at different sites and getting their immediate input, without the cost of everyone driving to the same campus. It's all about sustainability. Saving green while going green seems to be an absolutely brilliant plan.

addendum: I just realized that the program automatically detects basic shapes, and turns my squiggly rectangles and circles into something that looks quite professional. Very cool tool.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cool Tools: Collaborative Web 2.0 Apps

I've been going to meetings and finding new Web 2.0 apps that allow for collaboration, meetings and even sketching and drawing, using only your browser. See posts below for ideas, and the right hand column for some easy access to the sites. Very Cool Tools. Would have been nice if they were used in place of actually GOING to the meetings....

Campfire: Instant Messaging for Groups

Campfire is a web-based group chat tool that lets you set up password-protected chat rooms in just seconds. Invite a client, colleague, or vendor to chat, collaborate, and make decisions. Link to a room on your intranet for internal communications.

Campfire is especially great for groups with remote workers. There's no better way to keep everyone together when everyone's apart. It's as simple as visiting a web page.

Your Campfire chats are password protected and safe from prying eyes. You decide who you invite. You set up the rooms. You specify who can see which rooms

There are so many ways to use Campfire. Chatting, file sharing, image previewing, decision making, etc. Up to 60 people can chat at once. You can even browse previous chats by person,
room, or date.

The free plan allows up to 4 simultaneous users, 10MB storage and transcripts. Upgrades are available to allow more users and storage space.

Thinkature: Real Time Web Collaboration

Simple collaborative space that can be shared in real time. Free

With Thinkature, you can create a collaborative workspace and invite coworkers, friends, and colleagues to join you in just seconds. Once inside your workspace, you can communicate by chatting, drawing, creating cards, and adding content from around the Internet. It's all synchronous, too - no need to hit reload or get an editing lock.

Twiddla: Free Interactive Space

Mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo - it's all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly.

Don't like to sign up for stuff? No worries! You don't need an account to use Twiddla - and neither does anybody else. The people you invite to meetings will never see so much as a login screen.

VYEW: Free Collaboration and Live Web Conferencing

  • Why Vyew?
    Instant use from any computer No installation

  • New and improved collaboration
  • Together in real time or independently at any time

Free collaboration similar to Go To Meetings

Interaction with all forms of content: Office docs, .pdf, Flash, MP3, video, graphics, screen captures, etc.
Saving, tracking and logging all meeting activity

WiZiQ Virtual Classroom

Anyone can Teach & Learn Live, Online
WiZiQ Tour

Join Now for Free

WiZiQ is a place where you can teach and learn using an easy-to-use Virtual Classroom. You are welcome to give private and public live online sessions. As a learner you can attend public sessions on various topics from academics to anything under the sun.

SKRBL: Online Interactive Whiteboard

Here's a great Web 2.0 tool:

Simple and easy online multi user whiteboard, start skrbl, give out your URL & start working together. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. There are no new tools to learn, nothing to download, nothing to install. Brainstorm on our simple whiteboard to start thinking together, everyone sees the same screen, everybody gets on the same page.

There's a widget for it in the right hand column so you can try it out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Hotlist: Computer Skills

This is the newest Hotlist to help students learn Basic Computer Skills, Keyboarding, Mouse Use and Internet Skills.

Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. Constitution Day: September 17

If you are looking for information about the U.S. Constitution in English or Spanish, lesson plans, games, puzzles and interactive information to help study the Constitution, go to: for a list of sites to view.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Where to Now?

Education has traditionally been an almost passive pursuit. The usually didactic instructional methodologies have most often been geared to an "I teach, you learn" philosophy. While technology in education can certainly support that direction, it is increasingly moving towards being more dynamic, interactive and more social. The change factor lies in the children who are driving the new direction.
My grandson is a newly-minted second grader, but his comfort level, and that of most of his peers, leans towards technology as a core component, not an enhancement. He enjoys a board game of Life or Scrabble, but is connected to electronics in a way we as adults can barely understand. I watched him as he played on my computer. Without a blink, he deftly searched for the subjects that interest him. For example, he has an interest in US presidents, fueled by the upcoming election. When he wanted to know more about a particular president, he instinctively knew which search words to use. When a search did not produce the information he wanted, he scanned the disappointing results and found new and more effective search words to try. I showed him some basic Boolean search tools, which he immediately incorporated. Later, when searching for a particular Pokemon character, I saw him apply those same tools as if he had always known them.
The power of the Internet propels children into a learning style that is unique and foreign to those of us who have been learners for much longer, but we need to develop that same core competency. Teens develop their social networks using tools such as MySpace or texting. Interactivity is a given, as is multi-tasking. We need to develop strategies that enhance the core components that the kids do instantly and without conscious thought or decision. Lifelong learning just got kicked up a notch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

ABE/GED: Workplace Math Skills

Workplace Math Skills:
Marty Lundberg: North Iowa Area Community College

"The purpose of this project is to develop Adult Basic Education math materials for the workplace. The materials are intended to help identify training needs and document mastery of the minimum math skills needed for entry level workers seeking employment. The Iowa Business/Industry Leaders identified the project competencies as high or very high priority on the Iowa Business and Industry Survey (IABIS ). Local construction and manufacturing employers have identified the project competencies as essential workplace skills.

The materials are limited to the specific competencies identified by Area II employers. For example, local employers seek entry level workers able to add and subtract with shop fractions, so this project will focus on assessing and teaching addition and subtraction of shop fractions. It will not include multiplication or division of fractions or calculations with fractions other than shop fractions because local employers did not report a need for those skills."

While identifying specific needs for their locale, the materials are helpful for others seeking these specific skills. Well done.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ESL: Civics

"Learn EL Civics with great pictures and easy words. Just click on a picture to start a lesson or activity. The following EL Civics units are now available: Statue of Liberty, Washington, D.C., American Bald Eagle, and Gateway Arch. English Language Civics provides an easy way to learn about American history, geography, and culture. New lessons, worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, and videos are added to almost every week."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Qwizdom Wireless Tablet Cool tool. I do a lot of presentations and hate having to turn my back on the audience to run the slide show. This tool will make that problem disappear, allowing teachers to draw, annotate, and control computer applications without being tethered to a computer. It's a great add-on to an LCD projector and puts the presentation in the hands of the instructor.
View presenter notes and presentation indicators privately on LCD screen. Control volume, window shade, and virtual laser pointer.
Move from slide to slide and launch new presentations using navigation keys or pen. Pose questions and interact with learning objects or games. It also has interactive whiteboard capabilities, which will let you wirelessly create, annotate, and interact with screen objects.
Run computer applications with programmable pen keys and hard keys.
Utilize pen on tablet interface which offers all mouse functions.
Aligns with other whiteboard devices (not required).
Current cost is under $500 per unit.
All of this in a handheld device. Oh I do indeed love the new technologies and what they can do!

ProProfs: Create a Quiz found this site while browsing through my favorite blog sites...this came from the Random Thoughts blog ( It's a perfect Web 2.0 app that allows you to post quizzes on your website/blog or share through email, print, links etc. View quiz results & discussions, reports & analysis. Scored Quizzes are knowledge based quizzes like tests, trivia & assessments. Each question has a right/wrong answer. Personality quiz reveals something about the quiz taker. Unlike a scored quiz, here there is no right/wrong answer to a question. You can also create your own online flashcards for free. Customize with name and text & colors of your choice. Post your flashcards at any webpage (eg. your blog or classroom page).

According to the website, it has:

flickr integration for images
Widgets (embed) to share your quiz
Security options like password protection
Styles and formatting options

Looks interesting and worth exploring further.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Change and Evolution

It's that time of the year again. Yes, although the calendar says its only August 14 and Labor Day is still a few weeks away, there is a distinct 'Back to School' atmosphere surrounding us. Perhaps it's the smell of pencil shavings as parents dutifully sharpen the requisite amount of No. 2's, or the amplified voices of children as they realize that all too soon they will need to spend much of their day quietly working at their desks. But mostly it's the sense of renewal, because 'Back to School' implies a fresh start and a new year. The sins and omissions of the previous year are forgiven as the new year starts with lofty promises and sincere resolutions.

But in the world known as Ed Tech, renewal is a constant. What was impossible to do yesterday is made possible today by simply downloading a new app. Difficult and complicated old apps become amazingly simple. Not long ago, adding photos to this blog required a series of steps. Now there is an icon at the top of the post box that makes it 1-2-3 easy. I remember my excitement at the mere idea of being able to vlog, or add video to a blog, and suddenly there's an icon for that too. Even software companies have evolved. I looked in my supply closet the other day and saw a brand new CD storage case. For years I needed more and more storage cases to house the growing inventory of academic CDs. Now, all I need is a list of the websites where the online apps are located. Change and evolution.

What I don't see is the move from labs to classrooms keeping pace. Although I run an academic computer lab, I have always believed that the real place for computers and accompanying technology is the classroom. There are issues, of course. Instructors need training on how to operate the equipment. IT needs to deploy staff differently to deal with everything from network issues to ahhhhh, the computer power supply plug IS out of the socket. Once those issues are addressed, lesson plans need to be re-vamped to make effective use of the technologies, and, more importantly, a definition of 'effective use of technology' needs to be developed and then refined.

In education, there is always going to be a society of 'haves' and 'have nots'. Yes, that covers the schools that have new equipment and those that don't, but it also applies to staff who 'have' the skills necessary to incorporate technology and those who don't, or even more alarming, won't. Technology is like an oyster creating a pearl. An irritant of something that you want to do but don't know how eventually becomes a pearl after layers and layers of developing skill sets. Knowing how to blog makes creating a wiki easier. Knowing how to blog and wiki makes creating a platform for hosting podcasts simple. Even being able to transform 'blog' and 'wiki' into verbs requires a change in thought process. I blog because I can, and I know that blogging has become simple and intuitive. If only I can irritate the teaching staff enough to make them want to develop a few pearls for their students. Change and evolution. Can you catch a whiff of it in the air?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Citizenship News

"Welcome to Citizenship News, where citizenship education providers can find information, resources, and the latest news concerning citizenship education, the U.S. citizenship test, and the naturalization process."

This is an excellent site for information and resources on obtaining U.S. citizenship or naturalization.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Got Tech?

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" Arthur C Clark

Actually, most of the Web 2.0 apps DO feel like magic to me. I've been involved in technology since before the WWW existed, and started out creating BBS, a.k.a. the infamous Bulletin Board System, uploaded through FTP transfer and requiring all kinds of magic codes to operate. Knowing what it took to upload to the Internet in the early days makes the new systems even more impressive. I look at a lot of sites, but my new favorites (and some 'oldies' but goodies) include:
Blogs and Wikis: How could I ignore my absolute favorite tools? I've been blogging since 2003, and love the transformation in how much easier it is to upload everything from photos to widgets. I also like browsing through other Ed Tech Blogs to get a sense of what else is out there. There's a list of my favorite 'others' in the right column of this Blog.
Gabcasts and Podcasts: Still make me smile every time I think about creating an audio podcast with nothing more than a regular phone and some site-generated code. Podcasts are also quite easy to create now that webcams are more plentiful. And thank you, Apple, for making the process effortless and almost instantaneous.
TinyURL: I hate long and complicated URL addresses, mostly because I never type them in correctly the first time. This cuts them down to size.
Hotlists: Wonderful tool to compartmentalize the various Websites by skill or level. We have several on this site, and I'm sure we'll make more. Anything that works to narrow done the huge and daunting amount of sites is worthwhile to both instructors and students.
Microblog and social networking sites such as Jaiku and Twitter...just because I'm busy and it's an easy way to stay connected with friends and family.
Cool Web Sites: A lot of sites that can be adapted to educational settings. SnagFilms has free full-length documentaries, and Voice Thread lets you do classroom projects using photos and audio. Webquests can be used as online lessons, and TeacherTube has an abundance of good (and safe) videos that can be incorporated into lesson plans. Webware has wonderful 2.0 apps to view, and Widgetbox will supply an endless list of widgets to apply to your applications. Sometimes a tool like SlideShare comes along, and lets you share those longer PowerPoints that never quite fit in an email and put them directly in Blogs and Wikis. BabelFish allows you to translate your posts into another language. It isn't perfect, but it certainly helps.

I have URLs for all of the above listed sites in the right hand column. You could check the list and and click or just click on any of the underlined words in this post. Did I mention that I really like things that are easy to use?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Math Open Reference

Most of us know that math is better understood when it is visually assisted with manipulatives. Here is a site that explores high school geometry in a very visual format.

"Mission: A free interactive math textbook on the web. Initially covering high-school geometry. Over the past few years, enormous strides have been made in providing computers in educational settings to aid the learning process. This, combined with high speed access to the Internet have opened up many new opportunities in education. This open reference project has the goal of providing high-quality content for these computers free of charge to the end user, and provide numerous benefits over paper textbooks. Find out more.. Using interactive tools and compelling animations, it provides an engaging way to learn and explore the subject. Teachers will have new ways to teach, and the students a new way to learn that is fun and engaging. "

Commentary: Sotir: Technology Melting Pot

"The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." WF Gibson

Nowhere is the above quote more true than in education. There really is no standard for how accepting educators are that technology is indeed a part of everyone's future, and how and when they access that technology. In every school there are the pioneers; those who have never met a new technology that they don't at least try, if not embrace. But educational technology is a pyramid, with a select few at the top and the majority filling out the rest.

I'm often surprised when I work with high school and college students by how little educational Websites are actually used. The main reason is that they don't really know that these sites exist. While some social networking sites such as My Space or Facebook might be ubiquitous, tools to make study easier or more effective, say StudyRails or StudyCurve, are not as well known. I'm also surprised by their inability to search with any engine other than Google (or even know that other search engines exist), and that they don't know even the most fundamental tips to make searching more effective.

With instructors, I find even less understanding and acceptance of technology. Educators from grade school to university level are overwhelmed with achievement gaps, standards-based educational reform and standardized tests. The mantra has been 'No Child Left Behind' but the reality is that we need a policy of 'No Teacher Left Behind'. If we want our children prepared for the future, we need to make sure that their instructors are sufficiently well-versed in tools that students will need to achieve success. In addition, administrators often disregard technology skill development training for classroom use. We need a top-down solution.

There is a societal difference in learning now that didn't exist 30 or even 20 years ago. In the past, teachers could teach with texts and lectures, and that was sufficient for students to learn and succeed. But just as previous generations were taught the Dewey Decimal System and how to use a card catalog, todays' students need to learn the skills necessary for finding information effectively. The general principles of learning still apply, but the methodology has changed dramatically. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips, but if you have not learned how to access it, it is merely a lot of wasted code.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Technology: Slide Share

"SlideShare ( is the world's largest community for sharing presentations.- Individuals & organizations upload presentations to share their ideas, connect with others, and generate leads for their businesses.- Anyone can find presentations on topics that interest them. They can tag, download, or embed presentations into their own blogs & websites.SlideShare is the best way to get your slides out there on the web, so your ideas can be found and shared by a wide audience. Do you want to get the word out about your product or service? Do you want your slides to reach people who could not make it to your talk? Are you a teacher looking to share your lesson plans? It only takes a moment - start uploading now, and let your slides do the talking!

Some of the things you can do on SlideShare- Embed slideshows into your own blog or website. - Share slideshows publicly or privately. There are several ways to share privately. - Synch audio to your slides. - Market your own event on slideshare. - Join groups to connect with SlideShare members who share your interests - Download the original PowerPoint / Pdf file"

New Technology: Voice Thread

Did you ever want to share a photo, and get comments back from viewers? Voice Thread ( allows you to post a photo or a diagram and allow for responses from the viewers. There is an extensive series of demos and tutorials, so pop onto the site and check it out. It really is quite awesome.

"A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways - using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) - and share them with anyone they wish. They can even be exported to an Archival Movie for offline use on a DVD or video-enabled MP3 player. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world."

  • By Voice (mic or phone), Text, Audio file, or Webcam. Simple voice recording within your web browser allows you to collect the voices of an entire group on a single page. All you need is a mic and Flash Player 7+. Capturing voices couldn't be easier.
  • Video Doodling allows you to control the playback of a video as you comment using a mic or webcam, giving you the power to voice comment over specific segments of video. Move to a spot, doodle, then move to another, all while commenting.
  • The Doodler is a new way of annotating. It captures your drawing as an animation synced to your voice or text commentary. Instead of seeing the final product of your thoughts, viewers can see the actual process. Doodling delivers a sense of live presence.
  • Put your VoiceThread on any site you want, or better yet, put it on many. Embedding is easy and allows you to add group collaboration to any website. Whether it's feedback, critique, or group story-telling, collect it how and where you want.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Add Full Documentaries to Blogs and Wikis and... SnagFilms has complete documentaries that you can quickly and easily add to things like Blogs, or use for class lessons. And yes, I am an educator, so yes, they need to be free. OK, there are a few short (seconds) of commercials interspersed, but did I mention the docs are FREE?
I can see this working either in or out of the lab, with ESL students listening to the films and individually answering questions to aid in speaking and listening skills, or with an LCD projector, in a group.
It's very easy to use. As an educator, also good words to hear. Click on the doc you want to add (in this case I chose Morgan Spurlocks' "Supersize Me"), click on 'Snag', choose your platform from the list (in my case I picked the Blogger icon), put in your Blog ID and password, and then tell it where you wanted to add it (in this case, right below this post). To view, click on the doc and voila! The little doc widget magically appears as a post on your Blog. Doesn't get a lot easier than that. There are categories of films from history to sports to the environment, and surely it would be easy enough to find one and create a lesson plan.

Many thanks to Nancy McKeand and her Random Thoughts Blog post If you want to watch a good documentary…
( for pointing me in this direction, and good luck to Nancy on her move from LA.

Snag Film Example

Try this to check out the quality and note that the commercials really are unobtrusive and short.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Curriki homepage has a new design. Included are:

It's a good site and worth a second look.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Email

This is an email I recently received. Receiving comments on my Blog is a great treat for me. I enjoyed Wordelizer (see link below) very much. Wordelizer is indeed a wonderful way to spend excess minutes. Merci!
As for how we can be 'saved' from time saving devices...alas, there seems to be little hope. For example, I spent the weekend adding more apps to my iPhone. At the touch of an icon I can now find the 'cheapest' gasoline in town ('cheap' being relevant), play Mahjohng, and listen to a radio station that plays the kind of music I like to hear. I now have a handy shopping list I can check off when I run out of mustard or bread, and can find the calorie count at the restaurants I frequent (unless I prefer to ignore them and order with abandon). Yes, I can now waste time much more efficiently than before. I don't even need to enter a URL. I'll add these too. One never knows when they will come in handy.
Received 7/21/2008:

I was on ATT's knowledge explorer and found your blog and filament ESL Technology Websites

nice work

I too have a love/hate relationship with technology and gadgets. What is worse is my wife does too. How can we be saved from time saving devices? Oh well..I thought I would suggest just three of my pages to "waste your time" ;-))

one is a virtual thermin that you "play" with your mouse

the second is the Wordelizer which is a sort of interactive dictionary page that I constantly try to up date each school year (suggestions welcome.)

finally robot anxiety a cooky short story.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: A World in a Frenzy

When will we all realize that the 'time-saving' gadgets that are invented daily are actually insidious in the way they use up all the spare time we have? I've often commented on the fact that I frankly love technology. I've mentioned that there are relatively few widgets I can pass up. I've alluded to the fact that there are a few things, like iPhones and MacAir and iPods and...well, perhaps even more than a few gadgets that I just can't do without. At home, my doors and windows talk to me and announce things like 'Patio Door Open', and my refrigerator reminds me if I fail to shut it completely or when the filter is due for a change.
I Twitter, I Jaiku, I Jott, and therefore I am always accessible. I love making my own ring tones from my favorite music (and believe me, you DON'T want to be assigned the 'Bad to the Bone' tone...). My iPhone has a minimum of 175 songs I can't be more than 2 foot away from at any given time. Why, what if I am waiting for a train? 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' might soothe my tension. And speaking of tension, 'Breathe In, Breathe Out' might help some. Too many errands? 'Chasing Pavements' makes sense. Hungry? There's always a 'Cheeseburger in Paradise'. Tax day looming? Try 'Day Too Soon'. And if I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, well, 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet'.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Hotlist: ESL Vocabulary Plus More!

A new Hotlist for ESL students is currently being created by AELC staff specialists Robin Bosworth and Kristy Laurx. While still being populated, the list will be a resource of Websites for ESL students at all levels. It is entitled ESL Vocabulary Plus More! and is accessible from either the Student Hotlist listing at the top right hand column of this page, or directly from All Websites have been vetted by Kristy and Robin to be academically sound and applicable for students at the levels listed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Web 2.0 App: JOTT

Finding new 2.0 apps is pretty common, but finding ones I like ( and that fit my 'keep it simple' philosophy) is not as common. This one fills all my criteria. Jott ( is a utility tool that you might find worthwhile. You can use your cell phone to send emails, create lists, and even add to your Blogs. It will convert your voice to text.

If you want to send an email from your cell phone, just call the Jott number and tell it who you want to contact. You need to have recipient names and email addresses or cell numbers (for text messages) already programmed from your computer, but once in, you can use them at any time, anywhere you can use your cell phone.

After initial programming, it's easy to use your phone to send a message. I have an iPhone which does everything but cook my dinner (next upgrade?) but I still find this tool useful. I've tried it several times and it sends the info quite clearly. It also adds a link so the person can hear your voice message, in case the text translation is not clear. It will do the same for leaving posts on a Blog. Say you are no where near a computer and need post a message on your Blog. Call Jott on your cell to the pre-programmed address of your Blog of choice and it will post directly to that Blog, and give the option of listening to your voice as well. Hint: if you post to more than one Blog, make sure you give them unique names.

It's also good for reminders (eg: 'dentist appt. at 4 on 6/27/08') and lists (I use it for a shopping list). Do you want to keep track of the latest news or sports scores? Add RSS feed info into your Jott account and it will send that info to your cell phone. It's quick and easy, and fun to do. Try it out!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interesting Blogs on Linguistics and Grammar

Grammar Blog approaches language oddities and mishaps with a lighthearted, irreverent tone. Gez Daring, Daniel Gray, and Tom Knowles started this blog as a continuation of the linguistic gibes they shared during their time at the Univ. of Newcastle upon Tyne, in England. Many posts include photographs of errors spotted in everything from literature to signage, to which the bloggers respond with often snarky corrections. Readers contribute their own photos of spelling errors and mistakes in grammar. While this is primary British English, there are useful and clever references to American English as well. You should enjoy and understand this despite the "other English."
Motivated Grammar abandons the traditional idea of grammar as a strict set of rules. Gabriel Doyle, graduate student in linguistics at UC, San Diego, rails against linguistic prescription, or the notion that arbitrary but established grammar standards should be closely followed. Each of Mr. Doyle's posts reads like a self-contained grammar lesson, posting a question, discussing the issue, and arriving at a conclusion. You'll enjoy this one!
Professors in linguistics, Mark Liberman of the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Geoffrey Pullum of the Univ. of Edinburgh started this blog in 2003. They and other contributors often touch on popular culture and current events in their discussion of language. With multiple posts each day, this blog covers a broad swath of linguistic issues. Translation and the comparison of language are popular topics on this blog, with one series of recent posts debating why English texts are much longer than their Chinese counterparts. Do some scrolling on this one, and you will be sure to find one of great interest which will give you something to really think about and come back for more. All three of these blogs were listed in the BLOG WATCH Section by Lydia Serota in the Wall Street Journal, Monday, June 9, 2008 in Section R16.

Posted by Robin Bosworth

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: The Problem with Widgets...

The problem I have with Web 2.0 apps like widgets is that I can't stop using them. (see next post) has over 1200 education widgets alone. There just isn't enough room for them all on this Blog (or the other dozen or so Blogs that I manage...). If you are asking 'what's a widget?' let me explain. Widgets are cute little html coded mini-websites that you can add to things like Blogs and Wikis, Facebook, My Space...and even your iPhone. They do things like check your English prowess, help you learn English (or Spanish or German or...), keep up on news, sports scores and politics, count calories, get green (or stay green), or learn to be a better parent. You can add a graphing or scientific calculator to your math or science Blog, or check out the solar system in 3D. You can while away the hours with games or access musings on intersections of literature and life. Are you interested in history, or perhaps want to immerse yourself in Jane Austen's world? There are widgets for that. The real problem with widgets is that there are too many that I just can't wait to add to my sites. I could always create more Blogs so that I would have plenty of places to widget my time away, but that only compounds the problem. Be warned...they are quite addictive. And word to the wise: check out the widget for a little while before you add them to your student Blogs. Some content may not be appropriate, and you have no control over the content that appears. Widget on!

Seeking Widgets? Try

This is a site for all widget-y things. There are categories to peruse, and widgets are easily transferred to your Blog, Wiki or other site. Very simple to use, and transfer. There were 1293 education widgets to check, as of the date I created this post. Also, these widgets can be used on the iPhone and iPod Touch, with the exception of anything that requires flash (FYI to my Apple pals: lack of ability to use flash on my iPhone is really getting me down). Otherwise, set default at 290 pixels and you can add any of the widgets to your phone/iPod.

English Level Test Widget

Here's a quick little Web 2.0 widget from for ESL: ( which gives you a quick test of English ability level. It is only 21 questions so the end result is less than perfect, but it's a good check of someone's understanding of English. I added it to the bottom of the right hand column of this Blog so you can try it out. You can paste the widget directly from the Widgetbox site to your Blog or Wiki.

I also added a Free English Widget and Learn English Widget. The problem is that there are many widgets, and limited Blog space. Try these out and see what widgets can do to enhance your classroom Blog sites. Cool Web 2.0 apps for everyone...

Are you feeling like a hamster in a wheel while trying to keep up with all the new Web 2.0 apps? Does your brain need an RSS feed? Here's a site that can help sort it all out for you. Along with reviews of new 2.0 apps, there are tools such as 'newbie guides' (and being a 'newbie' is not nearly as disconcerting as being a 'dummy') to help you understand things like Facebook Twitter Flickr Google RSS Flock .

Here's what they say about themselves:

"There's a shift underway in how people use computers and the Internet. Every day more utility is being delivered over the Web. Full applications can now be run in a browser, accessible from any computer. Software? It's no longer required. Software is becoming Webware.
There are different types of Webware.
Productivity applications. Microsoft may own the desktop, but not the Web. Online, Google has solid productivity apps. And there are dozens of upstarts in this market too.
Data-driven applications. Many new online services rely on real-time data that simply could not be encapsulated into software. Examples include Google Maps, Zillow and Farecast.
Community services. Webware enables people to network, share their lives, and work together. Examples are MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, and SmartSheet. is the site where computer users can learn about new and useful Web applications."

So rather than wear yourself out, let take the lead in explaining 2.0 apps that you can use. The newbie guides are well-written and explain the concepts of several hot apps in terms that you can understand.

Blog Tool/Social Network: Profy is a new platform for blogging and managing RSS feeds. Following is a review from about this new site, which is currently in beta format:

(Profy sets up) "a vast network of interconnected social sites that your users can navigate to and fro while retaining the feeling of being on the same service.
Besides having a fairly standard WYSIWYG blogging interface, and integrated RSS feed reader, the real draw to the app is its interconnected social network. You can add other Profy users and blog owners as friends and contacts. The service goes as far as integrating instant messaging and presence management to let you know when someone's online. Once you've added people as friends, you can then keep track of their new blog posts, along with what they're reading if they've opted to share what RSS feeds they're subscribed to. The RSS reader itself isn't too shoddy either. While not as feature rich as the big guys, I actually prefer its layout to Google Reader's (at least on our RSS feed) because it displays who the author is on the title of each post.

Everything seems designed with a simple user in mind. There's no access to your blog's CSS, instead everything is simplified down to a fairly sizable collection of templates that can be custom-tailored (very much like Ning) with the user picking where they want each site element to go. The same goes for the domain, which lives under the moniker and can't be linked up to one you already own. All these things make it very simple to get started and make changes on the go, but power users will likely want a little more." (review from

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nuevo: En Español de GED Hotlist, New: Spanish GED Hotlist

Para los estudiantes españoles de GED, hay un hotlist nuevo, o lista de los Web site españoles de GED, en la columna derecha de este blog. Chasque simplemente encendido el título En Español de GED Hotlist para llevarle al sitio del hotlist. Una vez que allí, usted pueda chascar una vez en cualquier título (acoplamiento) y le llevarán a ese Web site. Para una lista similar para las constituciones de Illinois y de Estados Unidos, vaya por favor a

For Spanish GED students, there is a new hotlist, or list of Spanish GED websites, in the right hand column of this blog. Simply click on the title En Español de GED Hotlist to take you to the hotlist site. Once there, you can click once on any title (link) and you will be taken to that website. For a similar list for the Illinois and United States Constitutions, please go to

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Sentence Diagramming Hotlist

I'm not sure I am behind the current trend towards clothing styles of the 60's and 70's, but about that time the use of sentence diagramming faded from the educational scene. Along with phonics, it's back and being used in every level from Elementary through Higher Ed.

The Sentence Diagramming Sites Hotlist was developed to resurrect that highly effective methodology. As with all of the hotlists, this too will be updated when additional sites are found. I've put the list in 'Student Hotlists' in the right hand column of this Blog, so that you can access it easily. If you have any additional sites, post a comment and I will add them, after review, to the hotlist.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Commentary:Sotir: Search Engines and Directories

We all know that the Web has a seemingly infinite amount of information. One of the most important skills for the 21st Century will be the ability to find the information you seek. Search engines and directories are much more refined than they were in the old 'Archie' days (one of the first search engines on the Internet). There are meta-search engines, subject specific search engines, aggregators, blog, wiki and podcast search engines, and on and on. Some have a human interface, such as Cha Cha, and others offer targeted information like Google Scholar. All have a purpose, and all can help you to find what you need. For search engine information and sites, try our hotlist: or the engines cited in the right column of this Blog. The information is probably out there, the key is knowing how to find it. There are some unique and powerful tools available. It's worth a few minutes of your time to find out what they are.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Want Sandy. Your Personal Assistant

Perhaps this is a little out of the realm of usual recommended Websites, but a recent workshop participant suggested a site that offers a Personal Assistant. The site is
The home page touts:
Hi! I’m Sandy, your new assistant. I'll remember the details so you can focus on what's important.
-Kick off your morning knowing what's on for the day.
-Keep your day moving forward with reminders right when you need them.
-Books to read, people to call, your cousin's birthday — I'll remember it all.
-Stay organized with everyone in your life — effortlessly.
I work with your friends (and their productivity tools) too.
-I'll help you stay organized with everyone in your life — effortlessly. Simply Cc: your friends, family, and coworkers on email you send to me (or Cc: me on email you send to them).
-Set shared reminders (the movie premiere Friday night)
-Add stuff to each other's calendars (the dentist appointment)
-Share a to-do list (get those to-dos done together)
-No more fussing with different organizing systems and calendar applications — just bring me into the conversation and I'll take care of the rest.
-All without leaving your email inbox.
It is a free service, and it can be useful for those who are overwhelmed by the details of life (which includes probably everyone). Reminders, appointments, to-do lists, contacts, bookmarks, lists and notes are all included in this service, and it is nice to have them all in one place. There is also a 'Sandy Cheat Sheet' to help you remember the key words you need to have Sandy remember the rest. It will access your mobile phone, email or SMS text message as you prefer. If you've always said 'I need a personal assistant!' then Sandy might just be the ticket.
Also added to the 'Tech Tools Recommended' list on this Blog

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tech Tools: I-Lighter

2/26/08 update: Please check out i-Lighter 2.1, our new release. 2.1 includes upgrades, enhancements, is now totally web based and includes a few features that are particularly beneficial to the Adult Education community:1. Folders and Notebooks: i-Lighter 2.1 allows you to organize your i-lights and iNotes (annotations) into Folders. Notebooks allows users to save i-Lights from various folders into one location.2. iNotes which are annotation notes that you can add to any i-lighted content.3. Export to Word: Export allows you to export your collected data into word documents. With 2.1 you can also print or email your i-Lighted data as well as post to a blog.

They read my mind. Or at least highlighted the important sections. Anyone who knows me and knows how often I hit the Internet would understand why I am making this my tech tool of the decade. Maybe longer. When you spend a lot of time on the ole www highway, you tend to get overwhelmed not just by by the number of Web hits (like 8,943,632...and counting...) but by the fact that you only need portions of the hit pages found. Enter I-Lighter...a free cool tool developed for Internet Explorer and Firefox, that lets you mark content on any Web page and automatically store it, with notes (be still my heart) for access from any location.
I used to print out the salient pages and then use the trusty yellow markers to indicate information I needed, but this allows me to highlight and store said information on the Web, and then access it wherever I go. Why, I was even able to view them off my cell phone browser. Trust me, this is a truly cool tool.

(originating source: Technology and Learning, Vol 27 Number 8)
Also added to the 'Tech Tools Recommended' list on this Blog

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Commentary: Sotir: Plugged In and Turned On

After writing the commentary yesterday, I let the thoughts roll around in my head, and realized that it is probably time for an educational revolution. Evolution is common in education. We are reactive rather than proactive, based on the conditions that surround us. After spending 14 years on a school board, I realize full well that funding is usually tight, and spending needs to be confined to the absolutely necessary. But it's time to think proactively, and think differently about the purpose of technology in education today.

We no longer have the option of adding technology to the curriculum. Instead, we have the consequences of NOT adding technology to the curriculum. Our children do not know a world without technology, and increasingly, adults are finding it difficult to remember what things were like before we needed to plug in. I believe strongly that cell phones helped propel technology from a want to a need. While people could opt out of computers, it's much more difficult to opt out of cell phones. Every age, every generation has turned to cell phones over land line phones. At worst, they have the land line phones and a cell phone, at best, they have moved completely to the cell for communication. Phones remain the preferred communication tool. And comfort with the cell phone has translated into comfort with other forms of technology as well.

It isn't enough to bring technology into the schools. Training, while essential, is only the first step in bringing technology into the classroom. The buck stops with the instructor. And if the instructor has not bought into the need for technology, it simply will not be used in the classroom. Period. Technology is often an add on to the curriculum. Do everything you were doing before, but now add PowerPoint. Not good enough. You need to think of technology from the ground up. Re-design curriculum with the tech tools in mind. In all subjects, by all instructors. I read a post on the Infinite Thinking Machine Blog: ( entitled Inspired and Engaged by Authentic Learning in 2007, (Friday, December 28, 2007, posted by Lucie deLaBruere). I talk a lot about authentic learning, and rarely do a workshop without mentioning it. Ms. deLaBruere highlights the work of an inspirational teacher by the name of Nilah Cotes who finds ways to continually increase the level of technology in her class despite being close to retirement. The post itself is inspirational, in that it affirms not simply the existence of technology in her classroom but her emphasis on using that technology effectively. Frustrations with technology ensue (as when a shared folder containing all their interviews disappeared), but the students and teacher work through them together. Is there a better educational experience than working through issues as a team?

So I am calling on educators to experiment with the new technologies and applications. Find innovative ways to use the newest tools out there, and then share your success (and failures) with your colleagues. Yes, there will be frustration, but that is a part of lifelong learning, both for your students and for you. It's time to plug in and turn on.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Subject Area: Hotlists for Students

With the coming winter break from classes, students have asked me for lists of good academic Websites they can use when the college is closed. In the right hand column of this Blog is a listing titled "Hotlists for Students". For the first hotlist, instructors Robin Bosworth and Kristy Laurx have developed a list of good sites for all levels of ESL students. For GED students, there are math and reading Hotlists, and instructors Patti Huelsman and Char Rokop offer additional assistance in studying for the Constitution test on the AELC Constitution Blog : (

Hotlists are easy to use:
Click once on the title you wish to use (such as 'General ESL Skills'). This will open the Hotlist. There are several categories listed: Reading, Grammar and Speaking and Listening.
Under each category are several Websites your teachers have chosen for you.
Click on the underlined words of the title you want to try, and it will take you directly to that Website.
Once on the site, you can follow the instructions for using anything on the page. The same information holds true for using the math and reading Hotlists.
Gabcast useage instructions are found on the Constitution Blog.

Commentary: Sotir: Preparing Students for the Future

It's now 2008, and we are on the downside of the decade following the millennium, safe from the Y2K but still dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. In reviewing where schools now fit into our tech society, I realize that we still fall short. Recently I read an article about students who chose to give up technology for a specified period of time, and the difficulties they encountered in the process. Frustrations included trying to get assignments completed for instructors who only accepted papers online, or trying to figure out how to use a typewriter versus a computer keyboard. As I've noted in the past, the societal changes due to technology have been evolutional, not revolutional. Can you remember, for example. seeing an outside phone booth lately? Pay phones still exist, but are becoming less and less commonplace now that almost everyone has access to a cell phone. All generations are touched by technology.

Of course, schools have evolved. But has staff evolved as well? To some extent, yes, but is it enough? From the iPhone to Wi-fi to the Wii, technology is part of daily life for students. Yes, there are pockets of educators creating innovative 2.0 interactive Websites and Podcasts, but it is hardly a universal phenomena. The average instructor is satisfied with accessing 20th century technology. Many have changed (usually reluctantly) to LCD projectors and PowerPoint presentations but I am sure that in most every school there are still those using the overheads with abandon. Professional development workshops are given, often showcasing the newest and most innovative technologies, but how much of that is truly brought back into the classroom?

The excuses I hear from educators range from 'there's not enough time' to 'there's not enough money'. Probably true enough, but the reality is, there's not enough interest. I have what I call AELC 10 minute wonders; technology applications that require only about 10 minutes to develop, and a computer with Internet access to implement. Many of those are highlighted on this Blog, with Blogs and Wikis as the first tool shown. Others are apps like Gabcast (yes, that does require a phone too, but it can be a landline phone), Tiny URLs and Filamentality Hotlists. These are powerful applications, easy to use, and readily available without additional equipment or cost.

Do adult students also crave these tools? Of course. Our college is closed to students for about 7 weeks between fall and spring semesters. In response to student requests for continued access to instruction during the hiatus, my staff created Gabcasts and Hotlists. During the week prior to the start of the break when classes had ended but the college was still open, I had over 20 students stop in to make sure they knew how to access the lessons, and one student who purchased a laptop computer specifically to allow him access to those tools. Over 100 students have accessed these sites to date, and I anticipate that now that the holidays are winding down, that number will increase. My staff saw a need, utilized easily accessed applications and provided a solution.

The advantage of technology is that it is accessible and readily available to most of us. It is sometimes overwhelming, but often that sense is created by those who are providing instruction rather than by the application itself. From my first attempts with administration of technology, I realized that how easily you access the tool is more important than the tool itself. If it is easy to use, it will be used. If it requires an instruction book to utilize the process, the actual usage will be low.

Look at your own cell phone. Sure, most people can make calls and answer calls on them, and probably even access voicemail and a few other general features. How many additional features does it have that you never utilize, simply because you don't know how to use them? The iPhone is a success largely because it is intuitive. If you want the weather, touch the weather icon. If you want to get directions, touch the maps icon. People are now accessing things like stocks and email from their phones because Apple made it easy to do. Many of those same tools are available on other cell phones too, but accessing them requires several steps, not the least of which is actually knowing that they are there and can be accessed. On the iPhone, there is an icon, and when you touch it, it opens the application. Sure, it may take a bit longer to figure out how to use the tools effectively, but at least you know they exist. And knowledge is power.

We need to approach education the same way. If you want instructors to use a tool, then make that tool easy to use. Do whatever it takes. Quick Notes? Labels? Short instructional training sessions? Whatever it takes. I often think about the professional development workshops where instructors are given everything they can possibly learn about using a new application or tool. Most say wow, that is truly amazing. And then they go back to the same way they had been working all along. Technology training should be in short bursts, with immediate opportunity to apply the training. Utilize the business axiom of JIT, or just in time, for providing training. Make sure all tools and technologies are in place, tested and ready to use. Give instructors concrete examples of how to use those tools with their students. Provide after training to answer the inevitable questions that occur. Allow peers to showcase their use of the tools to other instructors. Training is a necessity. Make it worthwhile.