Showing posts with label wicked decent learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wicked decent learning. Show all posts

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Use GoSoapBox to Survey Your Students In a Variety of Ways

Yesterday, I attended Jeff Bailey's excellent presentation on teaching in a flipped classroom environment. One of the tools that Jeff used during his presentation was GoSoapBox. GoSoapBox allows you to have your audience respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones.

Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions.

One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback.

Want to gather questions from your students to use to inform your instruction? GoSoapBox has you covered. You can use the Social Q&A tool to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

Scroll through the SlideShare below to see visuals of all of the features of GoSoapBox.

Applications for Education
GoSoapBox allows you to create an event prior to your presentation or lesson. You can select all of the questions and question formats ahead of time. When your presentation or lesson starts, give your students the link to the event and they can access respond to the questions when you prompt them to respond. The Confusion Meter is the simplest tool in the GoSoapBox collection, but might be the most useful for some teachers.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flipped Classrooms Can't Be Passive Environments

This afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing Jeff Bailey present at the ACTEM conference in Augusta, Maine. Jeff shared his advice for developing a flipped classroom environment. You can find his workshop page here.

Jeff did share tools for creating flipped video lessons, but for me the value of the presentation was in Jeff's explanation of how he taught in a flipped classroom environment. Right from the start Jeff grabbed my attention by making the statement that flipped classrooms cannot be passive environments. He went on to explain that in his classroom (an high school engineering class) the flipped model has worked best when students have clear goals to reach for the day. To set those goals he has students complete a Google Form in which students state what they are working on, things they need help with, and their goals. See all of Jeff's talking points in his Prezi embedded below.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Customer Service and the Services We Choose

Image Credit: RW PhotoBug
This is a guest post from Harold Shaw, Jr. Harold and I got started in the ed tech blog-o-sphere about the same and met virtually during a call-in show on Wicked Decent Learning. A few months later we met in person when he lent me an OLPC laptop to try out with students. 

I want to thank Rich for giving me the opportunity to guest post on his blog. I got the idea for this post as a result of his recent struggles with his cable company and Internet Service Provider.

Customer Service - what is it? Pretty simple in theory, taking care of the people who use your products and finding solutions to problems they are having with those products as quickly as possible. Customer service is changing due to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc.  In the past most customer service issues were handled between the two parties at a relatively low organizational level. However, with the advent of social media, companies can “listen in” to know what people are really saying about their company at much higher levels - if they choose to and act upon those issues differently than they have in the past.

I recently wrote a post about MarsEdit, how it was not working for me and added the link to that post on Twitter. Within a couple of hours, I had a reply from Daniel at Red-Shirt Software asking me to contact him. We went back and forth for about a week and he figured out what the problem was, fixed the main issue I was having with MarsEdit, which made me a very happy customer. Due to his efforts I will continue using MarsEdit as my blog editor on the Mac. Also according to Daniel, they have some good things planned to improve MarsEdit and I look forward to seeing the updates that are in the pipeline.

While this is only an example of great customer service, it is not an isolated instance of companies paying attention to what is being said about their products on social media sites like Twitter.  I believe that almost all companies are actively listening to what is being said about their products on social media websites and attempt to resolve customer service issues that are discussed there as quickly as possible - they really don’t want something about their product going viral.

In today's world of Twitter, Blogging, Facebook and other forms of social media, when we review or discuss a product or service, our words can be spread to 100's, 1,000's or even more people almost instantaneously. These words can have a powerful effect on a product or business positively or negatively, therefore, we also have the responsibility to ensure that what we are saying is accurate, to the best of our ability.  

When I write and publish a post about a customer service issue or something that doesn’t work to my satisfaction and am angry or frustrated, are those the same words I would choose later?  In most cases they are not.  Usually I am simply venting and haven’t given the vendor an opportunity to actually have time to resolve the issue. Is venting this in public fair to that business or product if they haven’t had a reasonable opportunity to resolve the issue. I don’t really think so. I also know that I am not the most patient person when comes to technology  I just want it to work and work when I want it to (does that sound familiar to anyone else out there?).

I use the following rule of thumb when I am going to say something negative about a product or a businesses customer service - wait 24-48 hours (depending on how frustrated or angry I am) after writing the entry before publishing. That way I have time to take out something or edit it differently before others get to read it.  Who know perhaps, just perhaps you might get great customer service while you are waiting and have a completely different story to tell than the one you originally would have wrote about.  Then again if there is no resolution in sight and you have all you facts correct, you should be honest about what is going on, but like my grandmother used to say “a little honey goes a long way, where a lot of vinegar just doesn’t do whole lot of good sometimes.”

This relatively new power to communicate with with anyone within an organization via social media has empowered the “little guy” to be heard by people other than just that person on the other end of the phone or who reads your letter and throws it in a file “someplace”.  To my way of thinking this is a good thing.

What do you think? Has social media changed customer service in today's technology-based world? Does a company's use of social media influence your decision to use their products?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Comics in the Classroom - A Panel Discussion

Last week Jeff and Dan at Wicked Decent Learning released a new episode of their Wicked Decent Learning podcast. I finally got a chance to listen to it this morning and as usual the podcast was wicked decent. (For those readers who are not familiar with the New England usage of "wicked," wicked is generally used as an adjective to replace "very.") The latest episode, titled Comics in the Classroom, features a panel about the use of comics in the classroom. Dan served as the moderator for this discussion which was held at the Comic Geek Speak Supershow. The panel was comprised of three K-12 classroom teachers and a college professor. The discussion covered everything from the development of comics through clear examples of comics being used in the classroom. If you have any interest to using comics in your classroom, I recommend taking an hour to listen to the podcast. You can find it on the Wicked Decent Learning blog or on iTunes.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
More than 100 Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans
Pictures and Cartoons from PRI's The World
Lessons About Presidential Campaign Commercials

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Simple Plug for a Great Ed Tech Podcast

It occurred to me recently that the last time I plugged Wicked Decent Learning, there were about 10,000 fewer subscribers to this blog than there are now. Therefore, I just want to pass along to those of you who might not be familiar with Wicked Decent Learning my strong endorsement of it.

Wicked Decent Learning is hosted by two Maine educators, Jeff and Dan, and recorded roughly every seven to ten days. Each episode includes a discussion of a current topic in education philosophy, new technology resources, books reviews, and plenty of witty banter. They occasionally have guests like Liz B. Davis, Mark Spahr, and myself. The episodes are roughly an hour long depending upon how sidetracked Dan gets. :)

If you're looking for something new to add to your ed tech podcast playlist, check out Wicked Decent Learning.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wicked Decent Anti-Use Policies

On Saturday afternoon I joined Jeff and Dan of Wicked Decent Learning to discuss acceptable use policies or acceptable use agreements. While we didn't solve the world's problems during the podcast recording, we did have a great conversation about acceptable use policies and decision making practices regarding the use of technology in schools. You can listen to the episode here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008 Edublog Awards Ceremony This Weekend

The Edublog award ceremony is taking place this Saturday at 6pm EST, 3pm PST. There are couple of ways to watch the observe the ceremony including in Second Life, live audio stream, and chat room. Second Life isn't really my thing, so I'll be listening on the live audio stream and perhaps joining in the chat room.

Free Technology for Teachers
has been nominated for best resource sharing blog. My friends at Wicked Decent Learning are in the running for best use of audio. And Maine's wiki guru, Jim Burke, is in the running for best wiki. If you haven't voted yet, you still have time. Even if you don't vote, just looking at the lists of nominees will expose you to many great resources that you might not otherwise discover.

Click the image below to vote.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Official! I'm Nominated for an Eddy!

It's official, I have been nominated for an "Eddy" 2008 Edublog Award in the category of Best Resource Sharing Blog. I would love to win, but there are so many other great blogs on the list that I am happy just to be included in the list. I started this blog just over one year ago, I never thought it would get a following of more than 1200 subscribers.

If you would like to vote for Free Technology for Teachers please visit the voting page here.

My friends at Wicked Decent Learning have been nominated for the best Educational Use of Audio 2008. You can vote for them here.

Another great Mainer, Jim Burke, has been nominated in the category of Best Educational Wiki 2008 for the wiki he started, Learning in Maine. You can vote for Jim here.

If you would like to see the other categories and the list of all nominees click here.

What are you waiting for? Go vote. Seriously, just looking at the list of nominees will make you smarter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Nominations for the 2008 Edublog Awards

It's time to make nominations for the 2008 Edublog Awards. I am flattered and humbled that Larry Ferlazzo nominated Free Technology for Teachers in the Best Resource Sharing Blog category. To make your own nominations please visit the Edublog Awards nomination page.

Here are my nominations so far:

Best Educational Use of Audio: Wicked Decent Learning

Best Educational Use of a Social Networking Service: Angela Maiers

Best Educational Use of Video/ Visual: Digital Ethnography

Best Resource Sharing Blog: Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day

Friday, October 10, 2008

Free Podcasting Solutions

Last month I released a short podcast about podcasting. In that episode I shared a US History lesson plan in which students create podcasts about their local community. In that podcast I only briefly mentioned a couple of podcasting tools. Today, I am going to share some more information about five free podcasting tools. offers a number of free services useful for educators. (Read my previous thoughts about in education here or here). offers a free voice recording service that you can use to create a podcast. With every "drop" you establish on you are supplied with a unique phone number. Simply dial that number and begin recording at the beep. Your voice recording is then hosted and can be played back at your unique url. While you cannot edit the recording or add any kind of music, it is a very simple way to record your voice. You can download the recording to use in another editing service. The vocals for my last three podcasts have been recorded using and edited in Garage Band. is the podcast service that the guys at Wicked Decent Learning use to share their awesome podcast with the world. provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software in August and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Apples) is a very good, free podcasting tool.

Pod Bean
is the free podcast hosting service that I am using to host all of my Free Technology For Teachers podcasts. Pod Bean is a hosting service, not a recording service so you will have to use a recording program and then upload to PodBean to share your episodes. What I like about Pod Bean is the speed of uploading and the ease of integration with blogging platforms.

Gabcast offers two free options for recording and sharing your vocal podcasts. You can record by calling in to a phone number in a similar manner to the system. The other way to record is by using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. Gabcast does not offer free hosting, but it does offer free and easy integration with blogging platforms. You can buy hosting space from Gabcast or host your podcast on a free blogging platform like Blogger. Kevin Jarrett has written a good review, including a sample recording, of Gabcast which you should find useful.

Gcast is the service that Vicki Davis, author of Cool Cat Teacher, uses to share her voice recordings. Gcast, like and Gabcast, records your voice over the phone. Your recordings can then be shared through the Gcast player which you embed in a blog or website. Just as with Gabcast and if you want to add music or audio effects to your podcast, you will have to use a program like Garage Band or Audacity to do that.

A couple of months after this post was published Gcast and Gabcast introduced paid plans and are no longer free.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Case You Missed It... The Week's Most Popular Content

This week was a big week for Free Technology For Teachers. Twice this week the blog received a record number of visits including nearly 1200 visits on Thursday. Free Technology for Teachers has almost 500 subscribers. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed with a RSS Reader or by email. If you haven't subscribed yet, please consider doing so as it will deliver the newest content directly to your email inbox or favorite RSS reader. Use the links in the top, right corner of the blog to subscribe. (For those that are leery of sharing an email address, I will never use your email address for anything other than blog content updates).

Here are the five most popular blog updates of the last week.
1. New Podcast - What is Creativity?
2. New Podcast - When Technology Fails
3. Can't Use YouTube? Try This...
4. Wall Street Woes Explained by CNN Student News
5. New Use for a Favorite Resource

I would be remiss not to mention some of the top-referrers to Free Technology for Teachers. This is just the beginning of a long list of people that have spread the word about Free Technology for Teachers.
Wicked Decent Learning
Learning in Maine
Skip Z
Meditations of a Kozmonaut
Conroe Independent School District
Larry Ferlazzo

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Classroom Management Discussion and Assignment Management Tools

The first days of each school year are filled with administrative tasks like collecting emergency forms, distributing schedules, and practicing fire drills. These first days are also when teachers discuss expectations for student behavior. In this week's episode of the Wicked Decent Learning podcast Jeff and Dan discuss their expectations for student behavior and general classroom management practices. Jeff and Dan are both high school teachers so their ideas come from that perspective. It would be very interesting to hear a comparison of elementary school teachers' behavior management styles compared to the behavior management styles of high school teachers.

Later in the podcast Jeff reviews some free web tools designed to help students and parents manage homework assignments. A few of those services are Notely, Grade Fix, and For Later. Listen to the podcast or visit the Wicked Decent Learning blog to find the rest of services Jeff reviewed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ed Tech Podcasts of the Week

As I do every week, I spent a few hours listening to podcasts about educational technology. I checked out two new-to-me podcasts, Ed Tech Crew and The Clever Sheep. And as I do every week I listened to Wicked Decent Learning and Tech Talk 4 Teachers.

Ed Tech Crew is produced by two technology educators in Australia. As you might expect the Ed Tech Crew discusses the technology resources they find and their ideas about technology education. In the most recent episode the Ed Tech Crew discusses a problem they ran into having too many students logging into gmail at the same time. The Ed Tech Crew, Tony and Darrel, also review the animated movie maker, Go Animate which they described as "Comic Life on steroids."

The Clever Sheep aka Teacher 2.0 is produced by Rod Lucier. The Clever Sheep podcasts are short, thought provoking podcasts about educational technology and education in general. The Clever Sheep caught my attention with the current podcast's title, "School is Not a Place." In this episode Rod talks about trying new things in the classroom and the challenges teachers face in trying new things in the classroom.

This week on Wicked Decent Learning Jeff and Dan discuss the start of a new school year and classroom organization. Jeff and Dan discuss the different philosophies that teachers have about classroom decorations and student seating arrangements.

Tom Grissom released episode 50 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers this week, congratulations Tom! This week Tom discusses responding to requests for technology trouble shooting. Tom offers some great tips and reminders for those who will be responding to technology "emergencies" at the beginning of the school year. My favorite tip is to make sure people are pressing the "On" button. Check out the rest of Tom's tips at Tech Talk 4 Teachers.

If you know of a great podcast that I should be listening to, even if it's your own, please leave a comment and I'll check it out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Podcasts For The Road - Old and New

I'm headed out on a road trip to Ohio this week. My brother-in-law is taking a new position teaching organic chemistry at Cedarville University. Since it's summer and I love road trips, I volunteered to help with the move. Before I go I'm loading up my iPod with new podcasts and albums for the road. Here are some of the podcasts I plan to listen to while on the road.

The first podcasts I'm loading up are two stand-bys for me, Wicked Decent Learning and TechTalk4Teachers. In the current episode of Wicked Decent Learning Jeff and Dan discuss "best practices" and educational uses for webcams. Tom Grissom, producer of TechTalk4Teachers, has a great topic in his current episode. Tom talks about the placement of advertising in some of the web 2.0 tools that teachers are using in the classroom. Tom asks a great question, "should there be a standard for the amount or limit for advertising in schools?" I've written about this topic in the past and my general feeling is that if advertising is intrusive and distracting to students then I will not use that particular web 2.0 service in the classroom.

I'm also listening to a new-to-me podcasts. I listened to one episode of the Ed Tech Musician podcast this morning and I'm hooked. I'm not a music teacher (although I was a band geek in high school), but I really enjoyed the podcast and I'm sure that music teachers will appreciate this series of podcasts too. In the episode I listened to this morning there was a great lecture about the history of Brass Bands in the United States.

Finally, I'm loading up my podcast with a couple of episodes of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty writing tips. This podcasts contain short, easy-to-understand, tips for writing. I find this podcasts useful for my personal learning which in turns helps me when I'm editing my students' papers during the school year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Podcasts; Twitter, Screencasts, Games and Will Smith(?)

There are four educational/ technology podcasts that I've listened to or plan to listen to this week. You'll notice that two of the podcasts Tech Talk 4 Teachers and Tech Teacher Live both discuss the use of Twitter as a professional development tool. If you don't know what Twitter is or you're wondering how you can use it for professional development check out the podcasts or read my previous posts on the topic here, here, here, or here.

Wesley Fryer has released a new podcast episode. This current episode, podcast 261, features student perspectives on the use of technology in education. The students also discuss the use of computers for strategic gaming. It's always refreshing to hear students' perspectives on the topics teachers spend so much time discussing.

So what does Will Smith have to do with education/ tech podcasts? Well the title of this week's episode of Wicked Decent Learning is A Will Smith- Free Independence Day. In this week's episode Jeff and Dan talk about fostering independent thinking in students and teachers.

As always, simply click the links to visit the podcasts mentioned above. Alternatively, for the Tech Teacher Live podcast, you can listen here via the widget embedded in the right hand column.

Friday, June 6, 2008

For Your Weekend Listening Enjoyment

Here are four podcasts worth listening to over the weekend. Wicked Decent Learning has a special guest, Mark Spahr, in studio in their most recent podcast. This week the guys discussed team teaching. As always the podcast is an entertaining and thought provoking hour-long podcast.

Ron Kroetz's most recent podcast on Tech Teacher Live is a short episode about some of NASA's most recent efforts to get schools and students excited about space exploration.

On Tech Talk 4 Teachers, Tom Grissom, discusses developments in the low-cost computing market specifically the ASUS Eee PC. Tom also reviews a cool new service called Text 2 Mind Map that allows users to create mind maps from text messages displayed on manipulated on a SMART board.

Finally, a podcast that I've followed for months, but never shared here is WebbAlert. Webb Alert is a daily podcast that discusses developments in the Internet industry. There is something new every day and each episode, in five to six minutes, covers a wide range of Internet and technology developments.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tech and Education Podcasts for the Week

Here are some of the podcasts I'm going to make time for this week. You'll notice that I've added a new podcast to my list of must listen to items.

Louis Gray is a Silicon Valley blogger and podcaster. This week on his podcast, Elite Tech News, Louis talks with Allen Stern of Center Networks and Mark Hopkins from Mashable. There are a few topics discussed on the podcast, but the one that interests me the most is, "Twitter signal or noise?" You can find Louis Gray's blog and podcast here.

This week on Tech Teacher Live, produced by Ron Kroetz, you will find Ron talking about a neat engineering project he has been working on with his middle school students. Ron's students are building model sailboats. As always you can find Ron's podcast in the widget embedded on the right side of this blog or visit Ron's blog and podcast to find out more about what he's up to.

Tom Grissom at Eastern Illinois University is asking and discussing a great question this week on his podcast Tech Talk 4 Teachers. Tom is discussing the question, "whose responsibility is it to create Web 2.0 accounts? Is it the teachers? Is it the parents? Is it the schools?" This is a very timely topic for me as my students just finished up a project in which many of them used PhotoShow or Zoho Show to create presentations. Some of my students learned the hard way this week just how important it is to follow the directions when you receive a confirmation email.

Finally, the guys at Wicked Decent Learning, have been a little swamped this week with teaching (their real jobs), power outages (ayuh, been to Jay, Maine), and general having a life stuff so they're a little behind in production. Not to worry though, they have a great topic planned for this week's show, "teacher-parent interaction." If you've been in the teaching profession for any amount of time, you probably have some parent horror stories. Jeff and Dan would love to hear those stories so shoot them a line over at Wicked Decent Learning and check back at the end of the week for their show.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Educational Podcasts to Listen to This Week

For a couple of months I've been plugging Tech Teacher Live and Wicked Decent Learning as great podcasts for teachers interested in technology integration. I continue to listen to both of those podcasts every week and recently I've added two new items to my list of must hear and see items each week.

Tech Talk 4 Teachers
is a podcast produced by Tom Grissom at Eastern Illinois University. Each week Tom discusses topics related to education with an emphasis on technology's role in education. In the most recent episode Tom discusses the issue of depth versus breadth when looking at web 2.0 tools. Tom is looking for listener feedback this week on the question of what web 2.0 tools teachers feel warrant further investigation. Check out Tech Talk 4 Teachers and share your thoughts with Tom.

My newest must watch item is actually a Youtube channel called Palm Breeze Cafe. Palm Breeze Cafe comes from the school district of Palm Beach County, Florida. Each episode Lee Keller and Kim Cavanaugh discuss technology as it relates to education. You can watch Palm Breeze Cafe on Youtube or on the Palm Breeze Cafe website. You may also want to visit Lee's blog, A Geeky Momma's Blog for more of Lee's thoughts about education and technology.

This week on Ron Kroetz's Tech Teacher Live podcast, Ron discusses a great $50,000 scholarship opportunity for middle school students. Check out Ron's website Tech Teacher Live for more information or listen through the widget installed on the right-hand side of Free Technology 4 Teachers.

Finally, tune in to Wicked Decent Learning to hear Dan and Jeff discuss student recognition, video editing tools, and the impact of increasing food prices on school districts.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Wicked Decent Learning Live

Tonight, a nice group of super awesome teachers and bloggers got together via Skype to talk about the good things going on in technology integration and technology education. Jeff and Dan at Wicked Decent Learning put the whole thing together and will be releasing the hour long conversation as a podcast in the near future. If you've never listened to Wicked Decent Learning there's no time like now to start listening.

When you listen to the podcast of tonight's conversation, I'm the less than eloquent one that says "Yankees suck" toward the end of the show. The rest of conversation was great. One of the highlights of the conversation for me was Jim Burke talking about his work with a middle school on creating iMovies about World War One. Mark and Harold talked about their work using technology in non-traditional school settings which offered some insight as to the commonality of technology's role in education. Jen discussed not only her work in education, but also her upcoming work with medical professionals using web 2.0 applications.

Overall, the Wicked Decent Learning Live experience was great. If you're interested in learning more about the podcasts or possibly joining a Skype conference in the future (Jeff and Dan have made no promises of a future conference) check out the podcasts and visit the website.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: What is Technology Integration?

Episode 12 of Wicked Decent Learning has a great discussion about what is and is not technology integration. I was glad to hear Jeff and Dan say what I've been saying to people in my school district, "throwing your lecture notes on to PowerPoint is not technology integration." (Yes, Jeff and Dan I am paraphrasing). I actually said to an educational consultant this week, "1995 called, they want their technology back." This consultant had suggested to me that students put together PowerPoint shows as a final project. While PowerPoint is a fine program and for many teachers it does represent using technology, it is an outdated technology in the eyes of today's students. No matter how cool or pretty or how many transitions you put into a PowerPoint, today's students are not impressed by it or engaged in learning through it.

As "the tech guy" at my school (unfortunately,not a real job title or paid position) I was asked to play with the one new SmartBoard the school purchased. Like any good employee I did what I was told and took it to my room to try it out. I have to say that while the SmartBoard is kind of fun to play with, using a SmartBoard in the classroom does not constitute integrating technology into the classroom.

So then what is technology integration? Technology Integration is using technology resources that engage students in active learning. Students watching PowerPoint presentations or watching something on a SmartBoard while taking notes and listening to a teacher is passive learning. Students making a PowerPoint presentation is active learning but, as I stated earlier, in the eyes of today's students PowerPoint is outdated and generally doesn't get them too excited about a project. A technology application that asks students to expand their 21st Century skills is a technology application that provides an engaging and active learning experience. Wikis, video mash-ups, podcasts, collaborative drawing and writing tools, are all examples of technology applications that students can use to create products as a part of an active learning experience.