Thursday, March 27, 2008

Creating a Podcast

I just finished uploading a podcast that was a group project assignment for a graduate technology class at Lamar University. We began our project by first deciding on a topic and an audience. The topic for our podcast was using wikis in education, and our audience was obviously educators. We decided to write a script in an interview type format and assign roles for each of us. Then, I created a wiki for us to collaborate on about our script. Once our script was finalized, our next step was to record and edit the podcast. We used the free download Audacity and a microphone for this (see my March 2 Blog for a video on using Audacity.) Our podcast ended up being longer than we thought it would be (over 7 minutes) so we did a little editing using the Audacity tools. We also added free play music to the beginning of our project before saving it as an MP3 and posting it to the free host site podOmatic at Finally, I linked the final project to this blog.
I thought creating the podcast was really fun and quite interesting. I can see a lot of uses for podcasts for educators. Check out this Teacher Tube video on how to use podcasts in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Robin Williams' Thirteen Telltale Signs

In Thirteen Telltale Signs by Robin Williams, the author describes thirteen common mistakes people make in "do-it-yourself" desktop publishing. Please note that this article was published 12 years ago in Adobe Magazine. With the recent explosion of Web 2.0 tools, I'd like to know what other common mistakes are being made than the 13 listed in this blog. The author recommends the following:

  • Helvetica font is outdated-don't use it.
  • Use curly quotes for real quotes and straight quotes for inches and feet.
  • Don't hit the enter key twice between paragraphs-use the paragraph after and paragraph before features.
  • Space once between sentences.
  • Avoid typing on gray boxes. Use something else such as a headline font or heavy ruled lines to focus on a piece of type.
  • Avoid centered layouts-they're dull.
  • Avoid placing borders around your type.
  • A standard topographic indent is one em space, which is a space as wide as the point size of type.
  • Don't use hyphens in place of bullets.
  • Don't use outlined shadowed type
  • 10, 10.5, or 11 point type looks more professional.
  • Never use the underline feature.
  • Avoid using all caps.

Importance of Color

What better time to discuss color than spring? People have know for hundreds of years that color can create a mood, attract attention, and/or evoke an emotion. Color is one key to an effective web design and should be chosen carefully as it affects the mood of viewers. When a visitor makes a choice to visit a website, the designer has to keep their attention. Designers have about 8 to 10 seconds to appeal to the surfer. W.L. Wilder in The Importance of Color in Web Design suggests to use colors that support or add to the information being displayed and to remain consistent throughout the website with color choices.

Check out the monocromatic song performed by elementary students at a fine arts school.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Communicating Through Spreadsheet Layouts

Spreadsheets are commonly used in offices to organize large amounts of data; however, many educators seem to be intimated by using Excel in their teaching. The capability to generate charts and graphs in minutes makes it easy to quickly demonstrate relationships between numbers. Charts and graphs provide a visual representation of data that makes it easier for students to analyze. The following websites may assist those teachers new to teaching Excel.

Basic Terminology
Entering Data
Using Functions
Spreadsheet Safari
Integrating Excel in the Classroom
Excel Tutorial
Creating Charts

Multimedia in the Classroom

Text, animation, graphics, video, sound, and pictures are all different media. Any combination of these is considered multimedia. Multimedia includes projects in different formats such as music, video, documentaries, and storytelling. These projects have to be well planned out and designed from the very beginning. Once students choose their topics, the planning should begin. It's crucial that teachers instruct their students on how to plan and organize their multimedia projects. Storyboards are instrumental in this stage of the process.

Individual students can create multimedia projects; however, the the process lends itself better toward cooperative groups. Roles at the middle school level could include a managers, researchers, writers, and editors. I believe collaboration and teamwork are just as important to learning multimedia (if not more important) than the actual technology skills themselves.

As specified in the Texas technology TEKS, middle school students are required to design and create interdisciplinary multimedia presentations for defined audiences including audio, video, text, and graphics. The following websites have a wealth of information for teaching students about multimedia.

Teaching Students How to Create a Presentation

Power Point Tutorial
Power Point Rubric
Another Rubric for Power Point
Adobe Digital Kids Club
10 tips in Taking Great Pictures
Royalty Free Music
Gimp download

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Electronic Communities

There are few places in the world where people work strictly alone to accomplish tasks. Why should schools be any different? The brain is a highly social organism. Collaboration internalizes and solidifies new learning as well as allows students to be more authentically engaged in their work.

A "new world" of collaboration has certainly started with Web 2.0. Wikis and blogs are being utilized more and more in the classroom. Because they are web-based, everyone can easily contribute and edit. Teachers can make comments or monitor to see the level of student contributions. I recommend the following websites for teaching your students to participate with electronic communities as a learner, initiator, contributor, and teacher/mentor.

For teachers new to Wikis
Wiki tutorial for teachers
Free Wikispaces for teachers

Blog Basics
Teaching with blogs

Podcasting Guide
Podcasting in Education
Audacity for recording and editing sounds

Corina's site

Free email for schools