Tuesday, July 21, 2009

15 Free Podcasts and Online Lectures for Teachers

This is a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen specializes in education technology uses and aids. She also writes about online education for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.  Thanks, Karen!



The web is an excellent place for teachers to learn about integrating technology in the classroom. There are many different podcasts and lectures that have been created specifically for people who want to explore this topic. Here are 15 free podcasts and online lectures that would be useful to almost any 21st century teacher.


The Education Podcast Network - The Education Podcast Network is a great place to find podcasts and online lectures on nearly every topic imaginable. This landmark website brings education podcasts from all over together in one place.


The Teacher's Podcast - Hosted by Dr. Kathy King and Mark Gura, this teacher podcast features education technology news, views, research, and resources that can be used in the classroom.


TILT - TILT (Teachers Improving Learning with Technology) is a popular video podcast for teachers who want to learn more about technology integration. The vidcast welcomes questions and submissions from other teachers and posts updates regularly.


Teachers Teaching Teachers This education technology podcast was created by teachers for teachers. Episodes include tips on teaching in the 21st century as well as information on tech tools and teaching aids.


NPR Education Podcasts - NPR's Education Podcasts provide up-to-date news for teachers. Episodes also touch on the different ways teachers are using technology in the classroom.


It's Elementary - Created for elementary school teachers, this EdTalk podcast covers everything from education technology and teaching aids to learning environments.


Teacher Institute Podcasts - The Exploratorium offers a wonderful collection of Teacher Institute Podcasts. These short, teacher-created podcasts are easy to listen to and full of valuable teaching tips.


ESL Teacher Talk - ESL Teacher Talk is an excellent podcast for ESL and EFL teachers. Episodes include interviews, teaching tips and ideas, games, activities, information on education technology and other useful resources.


The English Teacher John Show This popular podcast for English teachers and learners is hosted by English Teacher John. The podcast is fun to listen to and has listeners in nearly 70 countries.


Educating Educators Lecture - The WGBH hosts this lecture by Dr. Margaret McKenna, who discusses the education and training of teachers. Dr. McKenna also talks about the essential tools teachers need to do their job in the classroom.


K-12 Security Lecture - CERIAS (Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security) provides a series of online audio, video, and text lectures to increase teacher awareness about student privacy and security for K-12 school information systems. The lectures discuss how teachers can keep students and information safe from online threats and vulnerabilities.


Creativity Lecture - In this video lecture, Ken Robinson (TEDTalks) entertains and educates teachers about the importance of nurturing creativity in today's schools. The lecture is short--lasting only 20 minutes--but it does offer profound food for thought.


SMART Board Lecture - Hosted by YouTube, this short, award-winning lecture discusses teaching with a SMART Board. The lecture is given by a physics teacher but would be useful to any educator who wants to explore the use of SMART Board in the classroom.


Did You Know 2.0 - This silent video lecture is hosted by YouTube and has been watched by more than 3 million people. It offers an amazing collection of facts about education, technology, and careers--a must-see for teachers.


Educational Uses of Technology - This free online video lecture from MIT professor Steven Lerman explores the uses of technology in education. The lecture focuses on learning versus teaching and lasts approximately 15 minutes.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Love Shelfari

Shelfari is a social networking site for people who like to read books.  Users create a virtual bookshelf to keep track of books they are reading, have already read, and want to read.  You can connect with people with similar interests to share thoughts and book reviews, get book recommendations, and discover good books you didn't even know existed.  It is free and sign-up is quick and easy. 

Here's an example of how I use the site.  I was browsing the books of some of my Shelfari friends and kept seeing the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.  I read the reviews:  Presentation Zen:  Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter).  I'm counting on it helping me create more effective presentations for delivery of teacher professional development, and according to the reviews on Shelfari, it will do just that.  I ordered it from Amazon and it should arrive any day! 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leadership Day 2009

Scott McLeod has asked for bloggers to participate in "Leadership Day," a day to reflect on digital leadership with the purpose of helping school principals, central office administrators, and superintendants become more effective to lead the effort of preparing students for the 21st century.  Specifically, how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers.

In my role as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for a large school district, I work with teachers as they use technology in their classrooms.  I need your help; I cannot do this without you.  

Technology professional development is not required according to the teacher contract and it is not required for administrators.  However, there are Michigan GLCE's (Grade Level Content Expectations) that include student use of technology in every curricular area.  Michigan curriculum is required.  Using technology is no longer something that can be used "when there is enough time."  Our students depend on us to prepare them to think critically, work efficiently, solve problems and communicate in creative ways, collaborate with others, and be able to figure out the best ways to do all these things, taking risks to do so.  Technology changes quickly and our students must adapt to it.  We all do.  We are the professionals who need to ensure that it happens. 

What can administrators do to help lead the effort?  Although I am thinking of specific things for my school district, these ideas could be applied to any school district.

  • Take my online course "21st Century Skills for the 21st Century Educator."  The purpose is to provide you with opportunities to experience tools that are now available online that will enable you to easily connect and share with others, participate in authentic collaborative activities with other educators, explore new web-based educational tools, and reflect on how all this impacts your professional life.  Contact me for log on information.

  • Set your own personal technology goals.  Make the time to try out tech gadgets and web tools.  Ask for help; you know who to ask.  Be a learner.  Without this step, the rest simply cannot occur.

  • Set technology goals for your school; work with teacher leaders to set them and carry them out.  Communicate them with teachers, parents, and students. 

  • Attend the Spice it Up Technology Conference.  It's local, it's free, and you can learn a lot.  There is a strand just for administrators!

  • Know the difference between using technology that will and will not make a difference in student achievement. Doing a worksheet on a computer or copying info from the Internet on a PowerPoint slide will not make one bit of difference in student learning. 

  • Be aware that there are educational technology standards for administrators.  Study them, work with other administrators to make sense of them, and include them in your daily work.

  • Hire only those who are tech savvy and creative.  In today's economic climate you can be very picky.

  • Expect that the technology that we have is used constantly.  Do something about it if it is not. 

  • Showcase lessons that allow students to make choices, think outside of the box, and demonstrate their learning in creative ways.  Don't call attention to the technology used, call attention to the content and the process.  

With your support at the building (or the district) level, together we can make a huge difference.  Our students will be more engaged, our teachers will be more effective, our students will develop deeper understanding of concepts, and our parents will be pleased with our efforts!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Joys and Perils of Technology

I've been around many people of late who claim that life was better before everyone started using computers and other technologies.  The technology that most of them use on a regular basis include email, a word processor, the Internet to find basic information, a cell phone, and a TV with the works.  For the most part, they have not been exposed to other technologies (especially web 2.0) and don't realize that they have only scratched the surface of readily available technology that could be really useful to them.  They often believe that people who regularly use more technology than they do are rude, shallow, and materialistic. 

Sometimes this is true.  People talk on their cell phones while friends they are with wait for them to finish.  People don't talk during a TV show or movie unless it is during a commercial.  People send text messages when driving.  People say things using email that they would never say in person.  Is it technology's fault for these bad behaviors?

There are some technologies that I have grown to depend on.  My portable GPs, "Gabby," goes with me wherever I go.  She has prevented me from getting lost many times.  I love my iPod Touch; I can do so much on that little device:  check the weather, keep track of what I need to purchase at the grocery store, read the headline news, check my email, look at my favorite photos, listen to music, read my favorite blogs, and more.  I use many different computer programs to connect with others with similar interests.  I've come to know many people that I have not yet met face-to-face.  We share professional resources, good books to read, and troubleshoot problems together.   I enjoy writing on this blog; it helps me as I set goals and reflect on things that matter to me. 

My life is not all encompassed with technology.  I also have close friends and family that are important to me.  I certainly do not believe that life was better before all these technologies became cost-effective and available to the public on a widespread basis.  I can work more efficiently now than ever before because I know where to go to find information, and I know what tools to use to make the work quicker and easier.

So what do we say to the person who says that technology is negatively impacting our society?  Or to the person who says that the technology changes so fast that there is no way to keep up with it?  Even though I am such a believer in technology, I sometimes don't know what to say... I can give personal examples and stories about how I use technologies in my work and home life, but that doesn't often help much.  Still grappling with this...