Sunday, November 26, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 117

You'll notice that this edition of the Academic Aesthetic is not part two of the workshop I recorded a couple of weeks ago. The truth is that I have a few topics I would like to discuss, so I'm postponing the rest of the 3 hour workshop until whenever, or until people start asking for it. If I keep uploading recordings from the same workshop I think I'll start to get lazy(er), and nobody wants that, right?
Video ClutterI've noticed a lot of time shifting trends lately, and by time shifting I mean people getting media earlier and later than usual. I know more than one person who's decided to get rid of cable TV, since if they wait they can get boxed sets of just their favorite episodes for less than paying for the hundred or so channels they never watched in the first place.

(That won't be me, since my wife pays for the cable and she wants that next episode of Mythbusters as soon as it airs. To be honest, I can't say I blame her.)

I've also seen people who just can't wait. I could name a few individuals (You might know them already...) who downloaded bootleg copies of Star Wars Episode III before it came out in the theaters. They still went and saw it on the big screen, but it was worth it to them to see the low quality version first - like reading the last page of a good novel, I guess.

(I wouldn't know if it was worth it myself - I still haven't seen any copy Episode III, legal or otherwise. I liked Episodes IV, V, and VI much better than I and II, but I digress.)

A lot of technological innovations are allowing us to see things earlier or later, depending on the quality we desire. I think its rather neat, but unfortunately we don't see a lot of this in an educational environment.

I mean, sure, there are some teachers who podcast their lectures for posterity, or put their handouts online, but those educators are few and far between, and the know-how they need to get started can seem very daunting to them, even if it isn't to us.

PUWT06_01.JPGCase in point: A little more than a week ago I attended a very cool conference that was hosted by my employer. I had fun and got a lot out of it, but according to Technorati I seem to be the only person who even mentioned it in a blog. With several presenters, including myself and the Keynote Speaker talking about blogs, you would think at least one more person would have their own blog and mention it at least in passing.

OK this is getting depressing, so let's turn the floor over to you, shall we? I can tell from my stats that I have a decent amount of listeners, so here's what I'd like you to do. Go to my web site at and find the show notes for episode 117. (It should be near the top, unless you're time shifting a lot.) I'd like everyone to add one of two types of comments:

  1. If you have a blog, podcast, or netcast, give it a plug. If nothing else, it'll encourage me to read it.

  2. If you don't have a blog, I'd like to know why. No time? No web host? Worried about legislation? Think you have nothing to say? I'm curious as to what hurdles you feel you'd have to overcome in order to become a blogger.

And if you want it to be an audio comment instead of a text comment, you can click on the link right below the image on the main page that says "Leave an Audio Comment!" or prerecord it and email it to me at TheArtGuy (at)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 116

Part 1 of a presentation on blogging that I gave last week. It was a 3 hour workshop, so there's no way I'm uploading the whole thing.

If you listen carefully, you can hear my wife making a cameo. And a silly voice.

Oops I did it again!

Now if I can be forgiven for the rather lame title, I have two new blogs.

The first is hosted by Vox. I decided to check out this social blogging service and it's not bad, although there aren't enough teachers using it.  I've had it for a while now and  I think it just might replace Furl as the main place for me to post interesting links.
The second is on my own server, and is dedicated to my Art Club.  You can go there to hear what my students are up to.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Home Again

I'm sitting on my couch and enjoying the marvelous encrypted wi-fi filling my apartment.  I've yet to go through and spiffy up my previous posts, but I have some chores to do first and then I'll get right to it.  (And yes, this post counts as procrastination.)
In my opinion I'd say that the Powering Up With Technology conference was a huge success.  I think we had an even bigger turnout than last year, and while I haven't looked at my evaluation forms I had several people come up to me to say I'd done a good job.

We'll see how good a job I've really done when I actually read through the anonymous evaluation forms that were returned to me.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, home, evaluation[/tags]

PUWT Session 5

I decided to peek in on Rachel Amstutz's presentation on unitedstreaming and the DEN. There wasn't too much new information for me, but it was still good to get a refresher course and show my support. Rachel's done some good stuff for teachers throughout Maryland, DC, and even other countries, so it was nice o see what she had to say.

Like many DEN presentations, this was run in the form of a game show using some hardware from  I know little about the back end, but it really helped to keep everyone's attention since we all wanted to "win."

[tags]puwt06, puwt, unitedstreaming, DEN, Discovery, Rachel Amstutz, education[/tags]

Session 4

I'm blogging from the conference, so forgive any format problems. (You may notice that I skipped sessions 2 and 3. That's because I was a presenter for those.)

Digital Camera Basics for the Innovator Educator
Shiliey Upchurch

I walked in a little late because I was answering questions at my own session on blogging and podcasting, but it seems she was showing an example of how she used her own digital photographs in a classroom setting.

Hm, she was on a budget, so she bought most of her cameras from Ebay. A good idea for me? Maybe. I've been burned by Ebay before.

Now she's showing everything that comes with a camera and different photo albums. I'm a little disappointed that she's not talking about the different photography websites, but I'm glad she's showing all of the other things you can do besides throwing them online.

Ok, now we're getting into a slideshow made by a student using PowerPoint. Not bad, since I first thought it had been created using Photostory.

Now I want to go through all of my permission slips again. It seems she accidentally took a picture of a student that the parents didn't want photographed. Fortunately it only led to lots of paperwork, but that in itself is enough to be extra careful.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, photography, photos, digital, workshop[/tags]

PUWT Keynote

Blogging from the conference right now. I'll add the links later.

Keynote Speaker: Susan Brooks-Young
Web-Based Tools of the Trade: What Does Web 2.0 Offer Educators?

All her notes are online! Woohoo!

Most kids are using technology more than most teachers. Except for interactive whiteboards, but those mirror tech that we're used to.

She's equating tech use with driving. We teach students how to drive, but are we showing them how to use the web? How to IM safely? I'm glad she's talking about this.

We're going basic here: Web 2.0 is the collection of online resources that allow you to be interactive - she's including software and hardware.

She's starting right off with blogs, yay! (I hope she doesn't steal all of my thunder... I'm presenting on blogs in the third session.)

Schools in Hunterton New Jersey have abandoned their traditional web sites in favor of blogs.

Plug for Mr. Kuropatwa!

Plug for Will Richardson!

This is good - I can skip over this information and get more into the nitty gritty during my own presentation.

Flickr Account: sjbrooks-young ... but she doesn't have any public photos ...
She's covering Creative Commons now (at least as far as it relates to Flickr...). There goes a portion of my PowerPoint presentation.

We have YouTube blocked, but students in China, one of the most restrictive countries in the world, are using it in the classroom. Wow.

Here comes the podcasting info!

Wired Magazine recently rated edu-podcasts, interesting.

Plug for Odeo. I still like Podserve for my own hosting, though.

Social Bookmarking:

Plug for

Bloglines plug - there goes my secret weapon for my blog presentation! Looks like she's picking apart my presentations bit by bit. I can't complain too much, though - these are things I think people should know about and she's reaching a much wider audience.

I'm glad I left the option in my own presentations to stand there and answer questions. I may have to do just that.

Plugs for Skype and Wesley Fryer (of Moving at the Speed of Creativity fame).

AirSet - never heard of this site. It has a blog, a calendar, and a bunch of other tools. It's password protected so it can be a safe way for groups to interact online.

She has a pbwiki!

Nice, she just singled me out because I kept raising my hand every time she asked "How many of you do this...?" My ego knows no bounds. :-D

Plug for Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I've yet to use this program, but only because I haven't had a need to do so. I'm such a bandwagon jumper though, so now I'm trying to think of what I could do.

gliffy - not quite Inspiration, but it's free.

Create A Graph - takes data from spreadsheets and creates graphs.

zotero - research organization tool. I like the features in, I think there's some crossover here.

Plug for Second Life. I was bitten by the 2nd Life bug once, but I'm not so sure it's the best resource.

[tags]puwt06, puwt, web2.0, resources, links, keynote, conference, Susan Brooks-Young[/tags]

PUWT Session 1

I'm blogging from the conference right now - I'll add the links later. 

Tools, Resources, and Links
Cyril Pruszko

With only an hour he can't cover everything thoroughly, but he's giving us a taste and some free resources - good.

Sourceforge - Programs you can put on your flash drive.
Microsoft Powertoys  - Tulane Univ

OneNote from Microsoft  (Free for PCGPS teachers thanks to MICCA) (Gives credit to sources automatically.  Nice.)
SyncToy, GoodSync, or Allway Sync  (I still prefer iSync for the Mac)
Fsekrit - encrypted notes?  Interesting...

Picasa2 from Google - does a LOT of the most commonly used functions in Photoshop, including creating static photo galleries.  Of course I have a better gallery now, but if I didn't this would be nice to have.
CutePDF/PrimoPDF - make your own PDF files
IrfanView - Photo viewer

As can be seen above, most of these nifty apps are for Windows computers.  A few (Firefox, for example) are cross-platform, but not many.  I won't complain too much, since most computers in the county are running some version of Windows.  He's just presenting to the widest possible audience.

The presenter likes encrypting his notes to keep them secure in case his thumb drive or laptop is stolen.  It's a good idea - I should look into encryption apps for OS X

Now he's talking about office apps, including OpenOffice and all the new toys from Google.

Ahhh, security, my old friend:

Hosts file - - block unwanted files.


PDF Creation:


I'm just going to stick with OS X's built-in PDF creator.

He's going through this really fast.  He said he would, but it's making it hard for me to do much more than list the resources he's talking about.

Portable Apps:
Anything that'll fit on a thumb drive so you don't have to install it.

Aound Apps:
BlueSoleil & BitPIM: make your own ringtones

He mentioned Bud the Teacher, but then shot them down as being diaries.

At least he likes wikis, he mentioned Wikipedia, and plugged Wikispaces and

Podcasts and Vlogs:
A plug for iTunes, as well as

Pop Quiz
Quimeleon - lesson plans

[tags]puwt, puwt06, session, workshop,  Cyril Pruszko, tools, resources, links, education[/tags]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Presentation Brainstorming

I'll be running workshops on PowerPoint design and blogging (& podcasting netcasting) at this weekend's Powering Up With Technology Conference, and I am looking forward to it, but I just got notice asking for presenters at this year's MICCA Convention and I don't want to do the same thing as last year.

So how about a workshop on two way teaching? The concept's been around for a while, but there are a lot of websites and other tools that can help make two way teaching a LOT easier.

K12 Online Conference Presentation on 2WT (The presentation that made me think this would be a good topic.)
Two Way Teaching Wiki (As of this posting it's very sparse, but could grow if it gets some help from others.)

(BTW: I did record my last workshop, but I haven't gotten around to the post-processing on it. I hope to have it up by Sunday.)

[tags]blogs, education, wiki, podcasts, wikis, netcasting, micca, micca07, two way teaching, edublogging, puwt06, puwt[/tags]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 115

PUWT SessionThis netcast is coming to you a day early. I usually record these things on Monday afternoons, but tomorrow afternoon I'll be presenting a workshop on blogging so I don't know if I'll have both the time and the energy to record this then.

I am hoping to get the audio from tomorrow's workshop up on my site as well, but chances are that if you're listening to this now you won't be getting any new information from that clip. It'll mostly be there for blogging newbies - both those who can attend the workshop and those who can't.

Powering Up With Technology LogoI have to say that I really like workshops - whether I'm presenting or simply attending, there are good times to be had. Forgetting the fact that presenters usually get to attend conferences for free, workshops are one of the best methods for professional development. Why? Because you know everyone in the room is honestly interested in the content being provided. The presenter is, obviously (Why else would so many of us give up our time this Saturday for the Powering Up With Technology Conference?), and if any of the attendees aren't interested you know what they often do?

They leave.

PUWT bird's eye viewWith so many workshops happening simultaneously, the downside is that you often can't see everything you want - but the upside is that if the workshop doesn't seem useful to you you can always go to your second or third choice. Don't feel bad about walking out - chances are that someone else will walk in and take your seat before long.

At least, that's my opinion when I'm up there in front of everyone.

I must say though that my handouts have changed drastically since I first started giving presentations. For my first workshop I had a packet of photocopied handouts that duplicated what I thought were the most important slides of my presentation, complete with space for teachers to take notes.

Waste paperI know for a fact that most of them ended up in the recycle bin, because like a good boy scout I over-prepared and had a lot left over. I couldn't even save them for my next conference, because even if I like how the workshop goes I try not to give the exact same presentation twice.

So my search began for a way to give handouts without a lot of waste. I quickly found a service called Wikispaces, which is a free, ad-supported wiki service. If you tell them you're a K12 teacher they'll even strip the ads off your wiki, just in case you're uncomfortable with stuff like that.

I had a lot of fun with Wikispaces, and even though I now own my own server and could install my own wiki software I'm still keeping my Edu-Blogging 101 wiki on their server. I ended up with people from all over the world contributing to it, thanks to plugs from people like Steve Dembo.

But wikis aren't the answer to everything. My Edu-Blogging 101 wiki does a great job at providing a lot of information, but it IS a lot of information to go through during an hour long presentation.

Steve DemboThen I went to the DEN National Leadership Conference, and I saw Mr. Dembo give a quick overview of podcasting. He had taken all of his links and plugged them into a page on his blog.

It was simple.

It was elegant.

It was something I should have thought of a long time ago.

Oh, well. At least now I know a good method for getting it done, so that's what I'm doing.

At tomorrow's workshop everyone will be getting a business card with my web address. They can take notes on the back if they want, but on the front will be the only URL they need to remember - the one that leads to everything I talked about.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Creative Commons Video


The good folk at Creative Commons have "revverized" their promotional videos. That means if you click on the ad that shows up at the end, you help them make some cash.

Not bad, huh?

[edit] The nifty flash player was too wide for the current formatting of my site, so I replaced it with a thumbnail image. Click away to see the whole video on Revver's site.[/edit]

Monday, November 06, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 114

It's convention time!

Or at least it will be, soon. On the 13th of next week I'll be giving an after school workshop on blogging. If you're in the Maryland or DC area and want to attend, check out the details here.

Powering Up With Technology LogoI'll also be going to the Powering Up With Technology Conference on the 18th, where I'll be giving one presentation on blogs and podcasts and another on good PowerPoint design. Last year's Powering Up conference was the first ed-tech event where I was the guy standing up in front of everyone, and I liked it so much that this year I sent in two proposals instead of one.

Silly me, they accepted both of them.

Well, if you're reading this it's most likely that you already know about blogs and podcasts, netcasts, or whatever we're calling them these days, but do you know how to make a great PowerPoint presentation? If you do, then .. um, well, I don't have much to offer you. Go listen to the podcasts from the K12 Online conference instead - there's some good stuff there.

If you WOULD like to know the difference between a good PowerPoint and a confusing one, keep listening.

Good PowerPoint TitleFirst of all, the term "PowerPoint" is a bit of a misnomer. We often use it to refer to any computer program that helps us give a presentation by throwing text and multimedia up on a large screen. It's sort of like how some New Jersey residents still call every brand of pork roll "Taylor Ham," and how some people refer to every cola as "Coke." Microsoft Office's PowerPoint is the most popular of these programs, but you could just as easily use OpenOffice, Apple's Keynote, or any one of a number of web based alternatives.

Ok, let's get down to business - the biggest mistake I see people make when creating a PowerPoint is that they confuse it with Microsoft Word. Word is for writing lengthy reports, and if you shrink the font size down to 9 point font then those of us with weak eyes can hold the paper closer or use a magnifying lens of some kind.

But PowerPoint is meant to be shown to a large room full of people. If you fill a single slide with so much text that it has to be reduced to even a 12 point font to make it all fit, the people in the back won't see anything except maybe a texture on the screen.

Good PowerPoint Rule 1It sounds cliché, but less really is more in this case. I used to tell my students that they needed to assume their slide was a billboard alongside a highway. How much information could they put on that billboard without causing an accident? They could always add another slide if they wanted to include more information, after all.

Later I heard of something called the 6x6x6 rule, which is not as evil as it sounds. Essentially, it means that your slide should have no more than six lines of text, no more than 6 words on each line, and the average viewer should be able to understand the main points within 6 seconds. That doesn't leave a lot of space for stuff, but really your slides should be reinforcing what you're doing up there, not the other way around.

Some of the best presentations I've ever seen consisted of less than 5 words per slide, and in many cases no words at all. Why were they the best? Because they didn't take the emphasis away from the presenter.

And there you go! You're now on your way to being a better presenter, whether it's to your class or your colleagues. There's more to it than that of course, but I have to save some for later, don't I?

Friday, November 03, 2006


Thanks to a little help from Steve Dembo, I think I've figured out a sloppy way to record a Skype conversation using the free version of WireTap Pro. I'm sure there's an easier way, but I'm done fooling with it for now.

So the real question is: Who should I interview with my newfound recording powers?

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thought of the Day

One should not confuse talking to students with communicating with them.

I just walked out of a 1st grade classroom where I didn't say a word for the first half hour, but the kids still followed directions and made some great looking projects. I'll post a picture or two later.

Educators using Flickr

Quentin D'Souza over at spent some time back in September creating a list of Flickr accounts owned by educators. It's in no way a complete list, but it's sorted by age group (The age of the students, not the teachers!) and if you want to be added to the llist all you have to do is ask.

By the way, even though my own Flickr account is listed, I never asked to be added. Mr. D'Souza found me the old fashioned way - by looking.

Speaking of which, I should really update that thing. I have a ton of student art pictures ready to go, too - I just need to sort them.