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Monthly Archive for July, 2008

I just got back from my second week at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative in Ojai, California. As I finally get a chance for quiet time and reflection, I can’t help but pause in amazement at all we did these past few weeks. I’ve been so in the moment, that trying to post any of my reflections would have been futile. Also, given the fact that we were teaching or eating or socializing from 7:00 a.m. in the morning until at least 9:00 p.m. in the evening, and then finding time to socialize and bond, there was very little time for pause.

Teach the Teachers Collaborative offers educators the chance to facilitate sustained learning in a relaxing and beautiful environment. We arrive on Sunday at the gorgeous Thacher campus in Ojai, California and spend a week learning, networking, and working together.

Breakfast is served from 6:30 to 8:00 and includes eggs, quiches, every fruit and cereal you can think of, yogurt and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner come at regular times as well, with a buffet and salad bar that rivals the finest restaurants. There’s always desert, or you can just get a soft serve ice cream cone. Snacks are served at 10, 2, and after our last class ends at 9:00 p.m. Somehow, being away from the city and having delicious food just relaxes the soul and makes the learning environment so natural. Top that off with a swimming pool, table tennis, a weight room, track, tennis courts, foozball, pool, and a gym and you hardly have time to breathe! Small wonder that I’m happily exhausted.

I’ll reflect about my first week and save the second week for another post.

The first week at Teach the Teachers, two groups, the PE Educators and the online content developers, got together for a week of learning. We had our separate courses, but the underlying bond was technology. The PE educators learned about new fitness programs, but they also learned to use Fitness grams and tools like Google Spreadsheets, docs, and groups to collaborate on projects. The online content developers worked on their Moodle courses, but also attended specialty classes that helped make their online content more interactive and engaging. That was my team.

I taught about Web 2.0 tools like rss, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc - but also how they could be embedded in the Moodle content. It was the finest experience I have ever had. Not only did I get to teach my passion, but I got 30 other people passionate about it too! My course is in a password protected Moodle right now, but I plan to post it to a public Moodle shell somewhere soon.

I am so honored to have worked with such an awesome team! John Lenhardt, a long time EdTech leader and advocate in LAUSD, worked with participants in embedding video. He used Voicethread, TeacherTube, and other tools. John Rivera, an amazing educator and CUELA President, worked with Google Earth and other Google tools to help teachers learn to make learning authentic and interactive. Bob Sachs, an outstanding photographer and educator was our other team member. He taught participants to see things differently, through the lens of a camera. Dan Pink would be proud to see how Bob made artists out of all who were fortunate to have taken his course. His gallary walk of participant masterpieces on the culminating day looked like professional work. He used his large, professional printer to make striking prints that participants could take home and frame.

John Lenhardt discovered CellBlock, a site that allows you to set up a space where others can contribute photos and videos via email, that produces a slideshow to document the event. We always end our Teach the Teacher week long events with a slideshow/video of the week’s events. In the past, one person, which happened to be John for a few of the years, stayed up late the night before the showing putting together the video. This year, the slideshow was made by all of us. Below you will find the embedded show. Not only will you be able to see some of the beautiful photography taken by participants, but you will see many activities from the PE educators. (You also get a glimpse of the mouth watering food we got to eat.) What a wonderful way to document our experience!

Also, I did get to go on one photo walk with Bob, and this is what he helped me to see:


Thanks, Dr. Kip Leland, for making the Online Learning Content Development Collaborative a reality. Thanks to all the educators in LAUSD who made it possible to attend the Teach the Teachers Collaborative. Even our own Dr. Themy Sparangis kicked off the event with an inspiring Keynote about the future of education and the role of technology. Add to that the keynote by 1972 Olympian Medalist,  Craig Lincoln for the PE educators, and the week was perfect!

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This week, all 150 participants are invited to contribute media about our week at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative in Ojai. Teachers in grades 4-8, from all over LAUSD, have come to learn how to integrate technology into their science curriculum, mostly using podcasting. In the past, one person was designated as the one to stay up all night the night before our last day to create a movie of all the photos and sound bytes from the week. Now, we are using the internet to have everyone contribute content, which will go into a slide show that can be played on the final day.
We decided to use a new (to us) program called Cellblock to send pictures to our group picture slideshow. The online application is very easy to set up. You create an email address within Cellblock to which contributors can send their photos and short movies (under 10mb). They can email from their cell phone or thier computer. The images show up almost immediately in the slideshow. There are varying levels of privacy and security. What a great tool for our use this week!


We’ll be using Gabcast to leave our reflections about the learning that’s taking place this week. Gabcast is an easy to configure tool that you can set up for any kind of collection of audio recordings. Gabcast has a toll free number that contributors call. You set up a channel number and password that is used in the phone call., and the recording is added to the “podcast”. What’s nice is that individual recordings can be downloaded as .mp3’s to add background music or remix.

User contributed content is easier than ever, now that we have tools that allow us to easily contribute photos through email and recording voice through calling a simple phone call. Using the cell phone to contribute this content is a great way to model how this powerful technology could be used in the classroom.

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This evening, our group of science educators will be attending the keynote presentation by Dan Schmit, which will kick off our week of engaged learning. Here’s the Coveritlive live blog with attached uStream Video. Please join us at 7:00 p.m. PST on Sunday, July 20, 2008

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The Embed Tag

I’m currently developing a course for content developers on using Web 2.0 tools in Moodle. It’s important to not get too engrossed in the tools, but rather concentrate on the learning. But the tools make learning interactive and add such a rich environment to the online learning environment. Here are some of the tools I find embed very nicely into Moodle (as well as wikis, blogs, web pages, etc.)

Embeddable Applications

Add to this the ability to embed rss feeds from blogs, news feeds, social bookmarks, videos, audio, and images and the learning environment becomes interactive and dynamic. Moodle also allows you to bring in any web page, so wikis, published Google Docs, and other online content can be brought in to the learning environment.

The wealth of learning resources makes designing the online learning environment rich and engaging.

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