Resource Management Tools

Keeping track of resources when doing projects can be time-consuming and challenging in a collaborative environment. A simple sortable spreadsheet can be used to track member’s progress, schedules, resources, assets, and contacts.  Each member can refer to the document to know the next steps, click on links to shared documents or document their own contribution.  Teachers can easily refer to the document to check progress or leave comments to the whole team.  Google Sheets or Zoho Creator are two great options – each with their own strengths and purpose. Younger students might find using a wiki easier for managing groups projects or even Edmodo because they can have conversations and include links at the same time. Another great option for organizing online resources is using an online bookmarking tool.

Social Bookmarking is a method for users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata or tags and then share ideas with others.  These tools work great for collaborative projects because each member of the project can locate online resources and easily share them with group members through tagging.  When you sort your bookmarks by tags you can also see other popular bookmarks made by others who used the same tag. These curated links can help you discover new resources such as websites, pdfs, videos and images. Member of group projects can invent a special tag for their project or send their bookmarks directly to team members or by setting up a group. The two main social bookmarking websites that are used in education today are:  Diigo and Delicious.

DiigoDiigo is social bookmarking plus has features like adding sticky notes and highlighting on the web. Special premium accounts are available for K-12 and higher education at Education Diigo with these features:

  • You can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation)
  • Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.
  • Privacy settings of student accounts are pre-set so that only teachers and classmates can communicate with them.
  • Ads presented to student account users are limited to education-related sponsors.

Pinterest is a popular tool to use for organizing online resources but students may not consider using it in an educational setting. Since you can create new boards, move pins from one board to another, and even subscribe to boards made by others, students might find it to be a fun and creative way to gather resources – especially visuals – for a collaborative project. Example of a Pinterest board:  New in Young Adult Fiction. Other related resource gathering tools worth checking out are:  Scoop-itLiveBinders, and Symbaloo


Picasa Web AlbumsPhotographs online – Flickr and Picasa Web Albums (which has been incorporated into Google+ Photos) are two photosharing web services. Both have tagging and sorting functions that encourage collaboration and community building. This is a  great place to share images for collaborative projects and determine whether you want to make the albums public or private. Don’t forget to review your school’s Acceptable Use Policy before you start allowing students to use online photo sharing.

Here are some ideas for using online images in the classroom:

  • Web albums can be embedded into other Web 2.0 tools like wikis and Google Docs and that streamlines the process of adding images to projects since the images are already online and don’t need to be re-uploaded (saves time and bandwidth).  Plus any group member can contribute to the album.
  • Another feature of online images is that they can be geo-tagged so that the location of the image can be tracked or be combined with a map.
  • Online image albums are a great way to document each step of a collaborative project.  Put one student in charge of taking photos along the way so the images be used when students are reflecting on their own learning during the evaluation process.
  • Images in web albums can be used for story starters, collaborative books, scrapbooks, photo journals, maps, screenshots, or capturing the notes on a whiteboard.

Other options for storing images online:  Upload directly into Google Drive for storage, embed them into project notes created with Evernote, or add them as attachments by email, on a Google Site or wiki.

Other Media:  Often students will want to use a variety of media during collaborative projects.  While it would be challenging for students to edit videos and audio files in the same program at the same time, many options are available for broadcasting or embedding media to intended audiences.  Media files can simply be stored online for sharing with group members using Google Drive or DropBox.

Here are few media resources worth reviewing:

  • YouTube is blocked in many schools but educators are now finding so many useful resources there that many schools are reconsidering their policies or considering YouTube for Schools. Here you can access or upload educational videos on YouTube in a controlled environment.  Note: YouTube EDU is a sub-section of YouTube that contains high-quality educational content. YouTube for Schools is a network setting that, when implemented, allows your school to access the educational content on YouTube EDU while limiting access to non-educational content on is a how-to site that shows you how to use YouTube in the classroom.
  • Podcasts are audio files that are uploaded online and shared through programs like iTunes or Juice.  An excellent Podcasting resource is from Wes Fryer at:
  • VoiceThread is a multimedia platform that encourages discussions about images, video and documents.

Learn iBooks Author – YouTube playlist

Ran across this great resource from Sean Jenkins who tweeted about this YouTube playlist on Twitter.  The playlist is from Emerson’s College Journalism Department and is a series of 26 short videos to teach you how to use iBooks Author.  I was very interested in the resource because the mobile initiative planning team at my school plans to create an iPad orientation book using iBooks Author.  Our teachers are most likely receiving iPads before summer and our plan is to install the book on their iPads and give them activities to do all summer on their own or as part of our two-day orientation in June.

Follow these simple steps to learn how to create your own iBook and send it to the iBookstore!  You can find searchable transcripts of these tutorials at

You Matter

I love talking to people who are passionate about what they do.  You know the type, you get them talking and they make YOU excited about THEIR topic.  Angela Maiers is one of those people.  I first met Angela through Twitter connections several years ago but when I finally met her face-to-face it was like seeing an old high school friend.  Angela is brimming with enthusiasm about literacy and the passion driven learning.  I saw Twitter posts about Angela’s TEXx Des Moines talk recently and knew I had to watch it.

You Matter.  These simple two words can make a difference in your classroom, in your school and in your community.  People everywhere want to FEEL like they matter and when you take the time to let people know they DO matter, it can make all of the difference.  Watch Angela’s talk and ask yourself, “Do the students, parents, teachers in my community know they matter to me?”  (Btw, ignore the freeze frame on the video and keep listening.)


Easy to make Book Trailers

Embedding book trailers on your library web page is a great way to pique interest in your collection.  There are various software programs you could use to make your book trailer:  iMovie, Photostory, MovieMaker, Google Presentations, Prezi, and VoiceThread to name a few.

You don’t need any fancy photo editing software to make creative images for your presentation either.  I use all the creative features of PowerPoint to make slides with collages of images and then save the PowerPoint presentation as *.jpg.  It’s very easy to do and most people are already comfortable with the PowerPoint interface.  Make sure you use copyfriendly images by using a Creative Commons search .

I also write out a script for my book trailer and then record the audio using Audacity.  You can easily edit the recording then export it as a *.wav or *.mp3 file.

For this book trailer of 13 Little Blue Envelopes I assembled the PowerPoint jpgs and Audacity *.wav file in Windows MovieMaker.  I added a few titles, transitions and video effects.  I exported the movie to my computer or you can export it directly to YouTube.

Book Trailers are easy to make for both teacher librarians and students.  Try making 1 or 2 a month and put together a YouTube playlist and have the book trailers loop on a projector during the school day.  More ideas at:

Achieving your dreams: Lessons from Randy Pausch

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch, who is dying from pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the university on Sept. 18, 2007. In his moving talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals (View entire speech on YouTube).

Here are some of my notes from watching the video (pdf of speech transcript).

All right, so what is today’s talk about then? It’s about my childhood dreams and how I have achieved them. I’ve been very fortunate that way. How I believe I’ve been able to enable the dreams of others, and to some degree, lessons learned. I’m a professor, there should be some lessons learned and how you can use the stuff you hear today to achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others. And as you get older, you may find that “enabling the dreams of others” thing is even more fun.

Lessons from reaching his childhood dreams:

  • When you are 8 or 9 years old and you look at the TV set, men are landing on the moon, anything’s possible. And that’s something we should not lose sight of, is that the inspiration and the permission to dream is huge.
  • Have something to bring to the table, right, because that will make you more welcome.
  • You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.
  • When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.
  • Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you.

How can I enable the childhood dreams of others.

  • Go back into class tomorrow and you look them in the eye and you say, “Guys, that was pretty good, but I know you can do better.” And that was exactly the right advice. Because what he said was, you obviously don’t know where the bar should be, and you’re only going to do them a disservice by putting it anywhere.
  • I think that that’s one of the best things you can give somebody – the chance to show them what it feels like to make other people get excited and happy.
  • When you’ve had something [a class] for ten years that you hold so precious, it’s the toughest thing in the world to hand it over. And the only advice I can give you is, find somebody better than you to hand it to.
  • That is the best gift an educator can give is to get somebody to become self reflective.
  • The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else.
  • Alice Programming Software – Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard.

Lessons learned:

  • The Last LectureGo get a Ph.D. Become a professor. And I said, why? And he said, because you’re such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education.
  • I mean I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it.
  • “Decide if you’re Tigger or Eeyore”
  • Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us.
  • Help others.
  • Loyalty is a two way street.
  • Never give up.
  • You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest.
  • Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
  • Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams. Don’t bail.
  • The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.
  • When you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
  • When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
  • Show gratitude.
  • Don’t complain. Just work harder.
  • Be good at something, it makes you valuable.
  • Work hard.
  • Find the best in everybody. One of the things that Jon Snoddy as I said told me, is that you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
  • And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
  • If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

Randy’s speech is quite powerful. I especially appreciate his sense of truth, perseverance and determination. At one point in the speech he describes the learning environment he has created with his students. Randy states:

“The keys to success were that Carnegie Mellon gave us the reins… We were given explicit license to break the mold. It was all project based. It was intense, it was fun, and we took field trips! So we did things very, very differently. The kind of projects students would do, we did a lot of what we’d call edutainment.”

How exciting. What an environment to work in! Randy was instrumental in the development of Alice. Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a teaching tool for introductory computing. Kids are learning to program but they just think they’re making movies and video games. It has already been downloaded well over a million times. There are eight textbooks that have been written about it and according to Pausch, ten percent of U.S. colleges are using it now. Pausch exclaims, “Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard.

That reminds me of the motto during OMET program at Pepperdine: “hard fun”. We spent our first week in the program at VirtCamp, kind of a grown-up version of tech camp – programming pirate legos and having “harrrrrrd fun”.

Gary Stager, one of my professors at Pepperdine university would assign us “learning adventures” instead of assignments. I never worked so hard at having fun and learning. But you know what, I loved it and it challenged me to try things I never would have experienced.

Randy’s speech makes me think of what lessons I have learned in life. I will have to reflect on that and share my reflections in another post. Meanwhile, I have a whole lot of dreaming to do.

In the words of Randy Pausch, “If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

Top Ten Tools

Top Ten ToolsThanks to a comment by Larry Ferlazzo I have been checking out the various lists of top ten favorite tools that are listed on Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day.

You can submit your top ten list of favorite tools (only 10???) and then Jane is compiling all the tools mentioned into one master list – the Top 100.

I especially enjoyed looking at the list by guest submitter Jay Cross. Hearing how and why different folks liked their chosen tools intrigued me enough to spend way too much time checking them all out.

Here are my favorite tools (in no particular order).

  1. Google Products:
    • Gmail. I love this web based email system and the fact that I can access it from any computer. Not only do you get tons of storage but I like the way it keeps the threaded conversations together. Gmail chat is also nifty.
    • Google Docs. Google docs are great for collaborating and sharing information with others. You must invite friends to participate in your documents but it’s so easy to edit ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!.
    • iGoogle and Google reader. Ok, ok, so I love of all the of the Google products – but I do use them and find them easy to use. iGoogle is a personalized page (which I make as my own homepage) that you can customize with all kinds of widgets like: weather, calendar, CNN news, Google Reader (RSS), Gmail notifier, jokes, etc…
    • Googlemaps, Google Earth, SketchUp …. I love ’em all!
  2. I can’t believe how much I depend on this social bookmarking tool to remember sites I have visited but also for sharing cool sites with my friends. Now I don’t need to be that annoying friend who always sends emails recommending websites (I can’t help myself) – if I find a site and know my friend’s name I can tag the site as: for:ccassinelli and then when that user goes to their account they can add my favorite to theirs. This is very helpful for group projects!
  3. Flickr. This web-based photo sharing site is awesome for uploading photos to share with friends. I like how you can create different albums and tag photos for easy sorting. I also love snooping through my friend’s albums too!
  4. My first RSS aggregator was Bloglines and I still use it today. I like how I can create folders for all of the ed tech blogs I read. Here are my folders: personal, ed tech bloggers, under consideration and last chance. When I stumble across a blog I might be interested in I add the feed in the under consideration folder. When I find that I enjoy the blog and read it often it moved up in rank to the ed tech bloggers folder while some of those are demoted to last chance before I decide to do away with the feed.
  5. Audacity. This easy to use FREE audio editing software is easy to use for podcasting and editing audio files. You will need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export your audio files at MP3 instead of WAV – but it’s easy to download and install.
  6. Wikispaces. I’ve already mentioned my love of wikis earlier in my blog but for collaboration and easy editing – wikis are the way to go. I also love the fact that wikispaces gives FREE wikis to teachers. Thanks for the support!
  7. Skype. I use skype more for IM and group chatting than Internet phone calling but it’s easy to use and really catching on.
  8. Flock and Firefox. Both of these browsers are excellent and have cool extensions. Most browsers have built in RSS but you can also access your Flickr pics right from the Flock toolbar – kewl!
  9. Moodle. I started using Moodle this last year with a few of my computer classes but will use this open-source course management system with all my classes this year. It’s easy to use, has built in blogging and modules (quizzes, journals, docs) that make it easy to keep all class documents in one area.
  10. YouTube. YouTube is great when you need a few laughs or want to share short family video with loved ones across the country. I also love the idea of TeacherTube. Educators need a safe and secure place where our students can particpate in the social aspect of video sharing and engaging students with video responses.

So, there’s my list. I didn’t include software tools like MS Office, Dreamweaver, Inspiration, InDesign and all of those productivity tools that I use everyday.

What is your top 10?

Podcasting Possibilities

I’ve been scavenging the blogosphere for great resources for podcasting. I’ve bookmarked a few good sites on my page . I saw that Vicki Davis at Cool Cat Teacher Blog had bookmarked Podcasting Toolbox and I found it to be a pretty comprehensive listing of: podcast creation guides, podcast hosting, podcast advertising, audio tours, video podcasting, mobile podcasting, text to podcasts, podcasts to text, podcast directories, live podcasting, podcast hosting (premium), podcast search, podcast forums, podcast creation software (offline), podcast creation software (online), and miscellaneous podcast tools. Besides the heavy advertising on the site, this looks like a great reference page to give to newbie podcasters out there.

I recently make a simple video for my faculty to introduce them to the basics of podcasting and placed it on YouTube . Enjoy and feel free to use the video anytime!

Give Education a Second Life

Tonight our OMET Pepperdine cadre hosted a “Give Education a Second Life” event at the NMC Campus on Teaching2 in Second Life. The event began with a keynote address by Melissa Anderson. Then a video that discusses the theme of choice was shown. Next, we listened to an interview between edtech blogger, Steve Hargadon and Gary Stager. The “Give Education a Second Life” website URL was shared as well as the contest requirements to win an iPod. The two evenings ended with lively discussion among participants.

Give Education a Second Life EventMy favorite quote of the evening was by Gary Stager: “I would suggest that without choice there is no ownership; without ownership there is no engagement; and without engagement there is no learning.” To me this quote speaks directly to what I have been trying to accomplish in my computer classes all year – engage students to increase learning. Another thing Stager mentioned was that we need to give kids more varied, deeper, richer, and more personally meaningful long-term sustained experiences. It is through these experiences that students construct knowledge – not through access to information or “interaction with the content”.

Both evenings challenged me to articulate my vision of choice and why I believe it is essential to create a learner-centered environment. Thanks to all who attended.