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EdTech Action Network

Today I ran across this wonderful site, EdTech Action Network, that is working to remind our leaders of the importance of educational technology. They have posted the following letter on the front page of their site. You can help out by signing the petition for giving our kids a 21st century education. Please take a minute (that is truly all it takes) to sign this petition. I am assuming that if you are reading a technology in education blog such as this one that you have discovered the importance of technology in education. I love the motto on the EdTech Action Network’s site “Children + Technology = America’s Future” I couldn’t agree more! “Dear Next President, We believe that it is critical that our next President make ensuring our nation’s K-12 students receive a 21st Century Education a top priority. Recent data shows that the stakes for our students acquiring 21st Century technology skills and knowledge have never been higher in terms of their own and our nation’s economic prosperity. For instance: The Department of Labor reports that out of 55 industries, education is last in its use of technology. In the majority of schools, teachers and students cannot maximize the potential of technology. By 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will be living in Asia. Since the 1960s, the demand for skills has changed significantly – the demand for routine manual task skills have decreased, while the demand for non-routine interactive task skills have increased significantly. Our children not only deserve but require an American education that harnesses the power of technology to individualize learning, one that ensures that they are prepared to compete academically for top grades and globally for the best paying jobs. In our estimation, a 21st Century Education should include the following elements: Every student learning in an environment that reflects the technology replete world in which we live, including ready access to sophisticated computing devices, instructionally sound digital content that facilitates self-paced learning, and broadband-level bandwidth necessary to support cutting-edge digital applications and services. Every teacher possessing the technology tools and skills necessary to use technology in the classroom and to integrate technology and digital resources seamlessly into classroom learning. Every parent utilizing technology to monitor student academic progress, communicate with educators regarding academic matters, and access online and digital resources to assist their children’s studies. We call on the next President, in partnership with Congress, to take these bold steps to ensure a 21st Century Education, including: Supporting access for all students to technology and the Internet. Increasing federal funding for education technology through the Department of Education’s budget. Preserving the E-Rate and providing robust bandwith in all classrooms to allow students and educators to use the cutting-edge digital applications and services. Incorporating technology literacy and facility into state teacher standards, teacher training, and professional development. Encouraging student technology literacy by the eighth grade.” Click here to sign the petition nowOh by the way, they have a great url: onegiantleapforkids.org– how fun is that?!

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Ed.VoiceThread

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Geography, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Video Tutorials, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 05-08-2008

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What it is: I have posted about Voice Thread in the past, but Voice Thread has added a new education community that has some pretty incredible features. Ed.VoiceThread is a secure collaborative network designed specifically for the k-12 school environment. Teachers and students can collaborate around almost any type of media including voice, text, webcam, and drawing commentary in a secure environment. Access is restricted to k-12 educators, students, and administrators to ensure safe classroom collaboration. Ed.VoiceThread is an accountable environment, which means that all users are responsible for their content and behavior. Some added features that you will find on Ed.VoiceThread are, students have individual accounts that are easily viewable to educators, students can create, edit, and manage their own portfolio, students cannot add contacts or send invitations to any users outside of the Ed.Voice Thread community, and they cannot view any content that is not created by an Ed.Voice Thread member. Teachers can quickly view and access all students’ Voice Threads. Voice Threads can be made private or public depending on the assignment and requirements. Ed.VoiceThread comes in two packages one free and the other, called Pro, for $60/year. Free users can only create 3 VoiceThreads, have 75 MB of storage, no uploading of MP3 comments, 30 min of webcam commenting, advertising will be present, single file size limit of 25 MB, and no downloads of the media. In the Pro version, students can create an unlimited number of Voice Threads, get 10GB of storage, can upload MP3 comments, have unlimited webcam commenting, 30 archival movie exports, no advertising, single file size limit of 100MB and allows downloads of media.

How to integrate Ed.VoiceThread into the classroom: Ed.VoiceThread is the ideal place for students and teachers to collaborate and interact with digital media. The added functionality for schools with Ed.VoiceThread is very useful. Students can use Ed.VoiceThread to create digital stories, documentaries, practice and document language skills, explore geography and culture, solve math problems, and much more. As a teacher, I like VoiceThread as a place to teach. Because everything is web-based, you can upload a days lessons to Ed.VoiceThread for students to refer to and collaborate with while doing homework. I well remember the days when I would sit in math class learning the days equations. Everything made perfect sense to me while I was sitting in the classroom watching problems being worked. But at home, with no guide homework seemed impossible. Ed.VoiceThread makes you your students personal tutor. The self paced learning is amazing! I love giving students tools that allow them to be in charge of their own learning. Is there any better lesson in life than knowing how to learn?

Tips: Try out the free Ed.VoiceThread account and see how it could work for your classroom. If you are like me, it becomes addicting and 3 VoiceThreads won’t be enough!

Leave a comment and share how you are using Ed.VoiceThread in your classroom.

Comments (2)

I have some questions about using Ed.VoiceThread that I’m hoping someone can answer before I begin using this in the fall:

1) With comment moderation, teachers can moderate comments made by students about the teacher’s voice threads, but can they also moderate/hide comments made between students voice threads?

2) Can students email links to their voice threads to me even if they didn’t register an email address at VoiceThreads? I know that with Ed. VoiceThread they don’t need email addresses to participate.

3) Can you keep the sharing/commenting of voice threads closed to just a class, or does it have to be open to all Ed.VoiceThread users?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

I am planning on using VoiceThread a bunch this coming year (just as soon as I confirm that it isn’t blocked by our filter) and this is how I’m planning on doing it. I’ve already done a trial run with a few lessons in this format and I think it will work.

I am posting lessons in VoiceThread format. They consist of some short videos imported and converted from YouTube, the handouts/worksheets that they have to complete that are imported from Word files (made by me) or from websites that are imported as pdf files.

The students will find all necessary instruction on the first pages of the VoiceThread.

Then they will find one handout that tells them what information they need to leave in a comment. They may also encounter a worksheet with related questions or math problems that have to be turned in. Paper versions of those sheets will also be available. But, all of the handouts and reference materials will be available in the voice thread and they will be read out loud by me. For most units, students will be asked to create their own VoiceThread that explains the concept.

I teach a special education class where many students are reading significantly below grade level and a major problem is literacy. They can’t read directions or explanations on handouts or websites. VoiceThread not only offers them a new way to communicate their ideas, but it allows them to communicate in a way that doesn’t necessarily involve reading or writing.

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