Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Wii rules!

Never having been a video gamer because of a lack of dexterity with traditional game controllers (and little interest in the titles available), I am surprised how much I am enjoying our new Nintendo Wii! I am good at bowling, air hockey, and Skee ball since I have successfully played these in real life. I am not good at tennis, ping pong, or golf since I am unsuccessful at these sports in real life. I have a little trouble with Guitar Hero since, having taken guitar lessons years ago, I keep moving my hand up the fret. Dance Dance Revolution is really fun, and seems to be very good exercise, so I will keep at that. (Not much to compare it to in real life, however.)

The bottom line is that the Nintendo Wii, with its handheld wireless controller (the Wii Remote) which can detect movement in three directions as you flail about the living room, seems pretty close to simulating real life action. I am amazed that I could be quickly successful at the things I could do in real life and performed so poorly at the sports I was not good at in real life. I guess the real test will come, for me, when I can practice with and learn some tactics with the Wii that will transfer over to the real world of games of golf, darts, pool, ping pong, "ping cup", or shuffleboard.

(Of course, the Dance Dance Revolution practice will come in handy for a dance-off with 6th graders at school!)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

The more things change...

...the more they remain the same! (Alphonse Karr)

Growing up in northern New Jersey, it was a traditional part of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (from 1966 on) to see the burning Yule log on the WPIX television station, Channel 11, and listen to the Christmas music. I always figured they aired the burning log all day long, without commercials, for both the enjoyment of the viewers and to give everyone at the station the day off to celebrate with their own families! I had not thought about it in years, though.

Here is the 1970 version of the Yule log movie which aired on WPIX.

My friend, Midge Frazel, sent me a note today letting me know that, on Comcast OnDemand, in the list of HD programs, there is a Yule log with holiday music playing. I must admit, the quality of the burning log in HD is much better than the WPIX 1970 version, but, thanks to the Internet, I was able to enjoy the original one, too!

The more things change...

Addendum: Since Tony Vincent sent the link to the virtual Yule Log for your handheld device, I decided to create a "virtual virtual Yule Log" by filming a Second Life fireplace...enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NECC 2008 presentation accepted!

See you all in San Antonio for NECC! Mark your calendars to attend my spotlight session (if you wish), on July 1, 2008, from 11am - 12pm.

Title: "Get a MUVE On: The Power of Synchronous Online Environments"
Place: TBA in mid-May

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kathy's Konsumer Korner: Holiday Edition

Schrock Holiday photo
Well, it's that time of year here in the US, and people are starting to ask me for suggestions for holiday tech gadgets. Here is the list of my newest gadgets that others may be interested in.

1. iPod Touch: This iPod may only come in 8GB and 16GB models, but that is enough for most of us. I have 600 songs and audiobooks, lots of photos, and five TV shows on my touch right now, and I have used only 6.5GB of space. With the easy access to the Web via Safari, the ability to sync with Microsoft Outlook, the widescreen for viewing photos and movies, and just one of the nicest devices you will ever hold, the iPod touch is a great gift.
$299 and $399

2. The Asus Eee PC just came out a few weeks ago and is already available in a couple of different models. I have the 4GB flash and Webcam version and used it extensively at a tech conference this week. It performed flawlessly and many of the vendors at the show tried their Web-based solutions on the Eee PC and were happy with the results. I tried the VGA-out to a projector, and it worked great! Find out all about it on the Asus site.
$399 from Amazon (with a long wait) or the same price at NewEgg when you can catch them in stock.

3. The XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. I have not received mine yet, but all the reviews of those who have tried them seem to indicate it is a great little machine! In addition, for $400 you get one machine, and one gets donated from you to a student in a third-world nation. Also, T-mobile sweetened the pot with a year of their hotspot service included with the device. These are only available to the public through December 31, and you can read all about it on the OLPC site.

4. I often get asked about digital cameras as presents for children, high school and college students, and adults. If a large LCD screen on the back and a small size is what you are looking for, just be sure to get the most analog zoom possible. The numbers that indicate zoom on a digital camera (i.e. 3x/5x) mean that the camera lens really zooms in 3 times and also uses a software process to digitally zoom in 5 more times. You want the one with the largest first number.

I cannot hold the smaller cameras still enough to get a good photo, so I like digital cameras that are a bit larger and have both an eyepiece, a really good lens, and a really large analog zoom. I have the Kodak Z812IS which has 12x analog zoom, image stabilization for those of us who have trouble holding the camera still, and is an 8.2 megapixel camera. It is available from Amazon for $242.23.

5. And if you want to step up to a digital SLR, I have the Nikon D40 and love it! I had the Nikon D50 before I had the D40, and the D50 did more than I needed to do. The D40 is simple to use and, with a good photographer behind it, can take excellent photos! You can pick it up from Amazon with one lens here for $479.99 and with two lenses and two DVD's here for $569.93.

Happy gadget shopping!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

DEN Webinar with Hall Davidson

Tonight I attended a Discovery Educator Network webinar presented by Hall Davidson. He was great, as always, and taught us some new video skills, talked about brain-based research, and had us participate in a gCast podcast even while the presentation was going on!

Hall showed us a short video that had videos within the video in frames on a mantel. I decided to both try a test of that type of thing, as well as getting the embedded YouTube code to post the video here on this blog. I used Adobe Premiere Elements 4 (which has multiple video lines and an upload to YoutTube built right in) as well as a - Royalty Free Music For Schools music loop.

Monday, November 12, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

I am sure you have all heard about the "One Laptop Per Child" project, the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte from MIT's Media Lab. The project's goal is to provide a rugged, useful laptop to students in areas of the world who would not historically have access. (You can find out more about it here:

For those of us in the US and Canada, from today (November 12th) through (updated 11/22) 12/31/07, we have the unique opportunity to participate in the "Give 1. Get 1." program-- we can buy 2 of the laptops (called the XO) for $400, with one becoming a donation to a child in a developing county and one for ourselves! ( (Update 11/22: Schools can now purchase them in lots over 100 units.)

I have already participated in the program the first thing this morning and the Schrock's XO will travel in the bicycle pack of my husband as he treks across the United States next spring!

PS In addition to getting a rugged little device here in the US, T-Mobile is including one year of Internet access at its wireless access locations with the device. Kudos to them!


Friday, October 26, 2007

New Life for Second Life in K-12

Rather than re-post the information I posted already on another blog, here is the link to my thoughts on the current and future use of Second Life as a professional development venue for K-12 educators.

Kathy Schrock

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Monday, October 15, 2007

iPod touch online applications for education

Below is a short list of online applications I have tried with the iPod touch that may be useful to support teaching and learning. Many of the sites only work with the Safari browser on the iPod touch or iPhone, so may not be viewable in your browser.

...over 20,000 books to read plus the ability to upload your own to allow students access to your syllabus, information, etc.

...a simple online to-do list that also includes a mini-blog that can be aggregated

Listingly easy-to-use application that would allow a student to create a list for each subject, project, or personal reason

Ask A Word
... a free spellchecker, thesaurus, dictionary, and encyclopedia

Today in History
...shows important events formatted for the iPod touch screen

World Book This Day in History
...another chronicle of events happening on this day

iPhone Web Docs
...create folders on a virtual desktop, save your notes, and even embed URL's; a very useful tool accessible from a desktop, too, for printing or editing

Glide Mobile
...a mobile component of a Flash-based desktop application, it allows you to uploads items to the mobile site

Widgetop Mobile
...a "widget-like" interface for common sites and reference tools

Moon Phase for iPhone
...see the current phase of the moon or change the date to view in the future

Starry Night Mobile
...see the view the day and night skies for anywhere in the world, on any date

...this is an online notes creator and manager that is available via the iPod touch and the desktop

Netvibes Mobile of the best RSS aggregators for the desktop is available for the touch!

...conversion calculator formatted for the iPod touch

Belfry SciCalc
...access this scientfic and programming calculator from the iPod touch

Nametag for iPhone
...type in your name and use the touch as a nametag!

Quote of the Day
...a possible use of this is a writing reflection journal

Brainy Quote through thousands of quotes by person, topics, or keywords; includes today's birthdays

***UPDATE 10/17/07***
Google Docs has come to the handheld in read-only format right now, but hopefully will be editable in the future.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Facebook and Second Life

Two of my favorite apps, Facebook and Second Life, have come together with Andy Powell's creation of a Facebook application called "Second Friends." It allows you to see which one of your Facebook friends (who use Second Friends, also), are using Second Life!


First search in the application listings in Facebook to add the Second Friends application to your Facebook profile.

Then, in Second Life, you must visit the Second Friends kiosk on Eduserv Island in Second Life and touch it to obtain a secret key. The SLURL for the kiosk is:

Andy is planning on the incorporation of some other cool features in the future!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tiny Devices and 1-to-1

I am writing this from my new Fujitsu U810 tablet computer with the 5.6" screen, I am investigating the use of the iPod touch with a class of high school students, I am on the list to be notified when I can purchase the XO laptop with their "Give One, Get One" program starting soon, and I am waiting patiently for the 7" Asus EeePC (at, it seems, about $200 or $250) to come out so we can start realistically thinking about one device per student.

See a trend here? I have been saying for years that much of what one needs to do with technology can be done on a "smaller" device. (And, as many of you can attest, bothering anyone who would listen to me and put up with my excitement at what my newest gadget could do!)

Now that so many applications are available as Web 2.0 applications, which are Web-based and require little processing power on the user's device, I think the time has come to start promoting a "1-to-1 Device" initiative for schools.

At the same time, we need to purchase pods of "blinged-out" computers, the production stations students will need for their heavy duty processing applications (video, CAD, audio editing). We also should include scanners, Flash card readers, Firewire ports, midi keyboards, and any other input devices students might need for their creative purposes.

Even of more importance to me is the fact students need to have wirelessly connected devices with them 24x7. We are becoming a society of information consumers, and students should have access to information sources, both on the open Web and in subscription databases, wherever and whenever they need it. They should be able to communicate and collaborate with others via social networks and Web 2.0 content-creation tools.

I think these small, low-cost, well-made, feature-rich, crop of mobile devices can meet this need. Anybody with me?

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

iPod touch for students

We are considering a one-to-one iPod touch pilot project for a single classroom of students at the high school. I did some more experimenting last evening and came up with a few worthwhile discoveries.

I wanted to see if Discovery Eduation Streaming would work on the iPod touch if I chose the Quicktime and "embed in browser" option. A few of the items seemed to work while streaming, but, since the iPod touch does not have Flash capabilities and the iPod touch browser did not support some formats natively, most items did not. I found a great free video converter on the Web that worked just perfectly for taking either the downloaded WMV or MOV files and turning them quickly and easily into MP4, the movie format of the iPod. I was able to put the videos into iTunes and play them on the device.

I next took a slide presentation, saved it out as JPEGs, and put it in the photo section of the iPod. With the large screen, you can easily read the slides, and could share information with a small group. With the cable output to video coming soon, students could use the iPod touch as a presentation tool.

I have not yet found a "regular" online word processing option that works. Zoho has an option for the iPhone, but I cannot seem to get it to work on the iPod touch. However, Gmail, Google search,, and many other of the online Web 2.0 applications seem to work just fine on the device A student could do word processing directly within an email message, blog entry, or wiki page to have it accessible once he or she is out of the classroom. As long as there is a text entry box available, students can use it. (This seems like a workaround, but I am sure students would have no problem with it!)

I then started thinking about iPod do we allow the students to sync at home and also offer content to them at school? Luckily, some great Apple Distinguished Educators have written a guide outlining these processes already! The bottom line is, to allow syncing of an iPod to multiple computers, the account at school has to be set to "manually manage content" and items can simply be dragged over to the attached iPod. I know there are hardware options available, too, for multi-syncing and charging, but these iPods will be going home and can be charged there.

Well, this is the latest installment of using the iPod touch to support teaching and learning. If only it did Flash....


PS I heard, through the Twitter grapevine, that people were saying I had an "in" and was able to get the iPod touch before anyone else. Rest assured, I have no "in" with anyone, and I just ordered online it the second it came out! I was lucky enough to get it very early and get the model that did not have the initially reported video color problem.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

iPod touch day 2

Now that I have had time to explore and have settled down a bit, I have some additional thoughts on the iPod touch.

I brought it to school yesterday and put it in the hands of teachers without any instruction. They could easily figure out how to use it, but did have questions on how to get items onto it and such. (Some of these were non-iPod owning educators.) I kept hearing expressions of excitement like "cool", "wow", and "I am asking for this for the holidays!" as I kept working at my desk.

One teacher asked me if he could use the iPod touch as a handheld computer. There are some limitations, such as the lack of included applications such as email, a word processor, and an IM client. However, I am using some Web-based clients and Web 2.0 tools to do some of these things successfully, and will report back about that later. The one disappointment with the touch is, although you can sync your calendar entries from Outlook through iTunes to the device, you cannot add calendar entries on the device itself. This is too bad, because it would be just about perfect if you could. (You can sync and add contacts on the device, though.) I guess a user could just use a Web-based calendar and overcome the obstacle that way.

I demo'ed it in an eighth grade class for a few moments. They thought it was neat, but did not think 16GB would be enough storage for all of their songs. And, since they cannot bring in personally-owned devices to hook to the school's wireless (at this point), they realized the wireless component of a touch of their own would be useless to them. My thoughts are, if we are going to look into purchasing wireless devices for students, such as the touch or the new crop of low-cost Linux-based handtops, and we are supplying them, the students will be able to attach to the wireless network and life will be good!

In my opinion, the most appealing feature of the device is the way it handles Web pages. Some online protocols do not work yet (most notably Flash), but the ability to see an overview shot of the page and then easily zoom-in to the portion you need to read is impressive. I use lots of devices with small screens, and this technology truly solves the problem of small screens and the use of the Web. Here is a sample of what it looks like. (It is really hard to get a photo because of the glossy screen, so excuse the photographic quality!)

More about apps in a later post...

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The iPod touch is great!

I am having trouble keeping up with all the new technologies, but I am managing! My new 16GB iPod touch arrived today, and it is sweet!

I did not jump on the iPhone wagon since our AT&T reception is less than stellar here on Cape Cod and I love my Verizon Treo 700wx, but I had the chance to try some iPhones and was hooked on the touch screen concept!

The iPod touch has a beauteous big screen and a very easy interface to use. The best part is that it does the Web wirelessly and wonderfully! I am not a huge music user, so my device has about 3GB of music and books (555 items), 4 full-length movies, all my contacts and calendar, all of my Internet Explorer bookmarks, and about 20 photos, and I still have 10GB left. Gotta love it!

I would like to go on about its other features, but I have to go play! Find out more about the iPod touch for yourself here:

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Neat wiki!

One of the problems I am finding in our school district is finding both a wiki site that can be kept private and does not require a student email account to sign-up. Well, I have come across a rather simple one, called Jottit.

It is very simple to use, although it is a tad unconventional to create the classroom wiki. First you type in some sample text to create the site, next you choose settings to create your unique URL, and then you simply put in a password to claim your site. It is at this point that you are able to choose the option to require the password to both edit and view the site. This allows teachers to have a classroom wiki that is only accessible to students who have the password and students do not need an email address to sign-up.

Just in case you were running into the same frustrations we were...

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Saturday, September 15, 2007


Edutopia just named this blog one of the
"10 Edublogs They Love." Thank you to them for the honor, thanks to all of you who read, subscribe, and comment, and congratulations to the others on the list!

As you probably know, I maintain a number of blogs-- one dealing with our professional development efforts in Second Life, one that houses the podcasts I have done for my school district in the past (and have to get going again this year!), and this one.

Each blog has a separate purpose intended to demonstrate to educators the differing ways blogs can be used. The Second Life blog is more of a journal as we break the stereotypes of MUVEs and use them synchronous online virtual environments to support teaching and learning. The podcasts blog is a place to share the technology accomplishments of staff and students in the school district. And the Kaffeeklatsch is a way for me to quickly post items of interest to me, and, hopefully, to you.

Thanks again for reading and listening!


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Monday, September 03, 2007

Two new "gadgets"

Update: Today (9/3/07) I sold the Kodak Easyshare Z712IS and purchased the new Z812IS. Same price and this model includes an 8.2 megapixel camera and the ability to record video in HD (720p). w00t! It should be here soon!

Original post: 7/30/07

I just wanted to let you know about two new (to me) gadgets that are reasonably-priced and useful!

The first is the Kodak EasyShare Z712IS digital camera. It is a 7.1 megapixel camera with a 12x optical zoom (36mm-432mm) with a great Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens. I had an earlier generation of this camera with a 10x zoom, and was always impressed by the quality of the photos. In addition, the image stabilization allows me to take great photos even when zoomed all the way in. Too often, with smaller point-and-shoot cameras, I wound up with blurry shots no matter how careful I was.

This model is easy to hold and takes crystal-clear photos, as you can see in this quick shot I took before boading the Spirit of San Francisco for a harbor cruise. It is currently selling as low as $229.88 (US). It does not come with a rechargeable battery, but the Kodak CRV3 it does come with is seeming to last forever! In addition, the front is threaded for the addition of a wide angle or telephoto add-on.

Click here to see full-size. On the waterfront

I have also just purchased the 7" Axion AXN9701 digital photo frame. The price was reasonable with a $10 rebate through 7/31/07. I read some reviews of digital photo frames, but I really just wanted to try one out and not spend a lot of money. I was pleasantly surprised!

The resolution is only 480x234, but, given the low cost, does a good job. Here is a link to a review.

If you are in the market for a higher-end 7" photo frame, here is a recent review of five of them with the summary comparison chart found here.

Kathy Schrock

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Geek Alert

As many of you know, I use an iMac and MacbookPro with Bootcamp (on the Windows side) for most of my work. I just purchased the new, thin, metal Mac keyboard, and for those of you that are considering it and are Bootcamp users, you need to know that the OPTION key on start-up no longer displays the two drives for choosing between the operating systems. (I am assuming this will be fixed soon, but it is not yet.) One solution I finally found is to use the remote and hold down the menu key during start-up to get the screen you need. Just in case you were wondering...


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Second Life: Teen Grid Ideas

(This is a link to one of my Lighthouse Learning Island blog entries.)

For those of you who already use Second Life, or want some ideas on how to "sell" it in your district, please take a look at this post (and any comments that are posted by others) and add some ideas of you own!

Kathy Schrock

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Adobe Summer Camp 2007

I am here in San Francisco for the Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute 2007 (affectionately called "Summer Camp".) We spent the day yesterday listening, learning, and contributing as a large group, and today and tomorrow will be attending hands-on training sessions for software to help us support our teachers and students.

The Adobe Education team consists of a passionate group of people, and the collaboration and collegiality among the amazing Adobe Education Leaders attending is wonderful! I am learning so much from others who live in the United States and all over the world.

There is little down time, but I did get a chance to swing by Mel's Drive-in for a picture last night! (Of course, as the creator of the American Graffiti Home Page I really had no choice!)

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wikis in plain English

Thanks to Scott Merrick for the tip to this awesome video entitled "Wikis in Plain English".

Enjoy this easy-to-understand and humorous description of a wiki!


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Saturday, July 14, 2007

New cool technologies...

Okay, so I played with the iPhone today for the first time. Nice machine and very easy to use, but I decided last week not to jump ship from Verizon. I need a smartphone to do many things and enjoy the ability to customize. I have had a Motorola Q for the past year, and tolerated it, but I sold it on eBay and went back to a true Windows Mobile smartphone, the Treo 700wx. I am a happy camper again!

I also picked up the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 this week. It is a sweet little Bluetooth mouse that has function keys on the bottom to control a PowerPoint presentation as well as including a laser pointer and volume controls. It comes with a Bluetooth USB dongle, but worked fine with the Bluetooth built into the MacbookPro on both the Windows XP and Mas OSX sides of the machine. Great new toy and one of the most innovative packaging systems I have ever seen!

I am so glad to have time to "play" in the summer months!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lighthouse Learning Island update

The island is up and getting ready to go in Second Life! It is now open to the public, although there is not a lot to see after 48 hours!

Rather than clog up this blog with Lighthouse Learning Island information and notes about the process, I have created another blog just for that purpose!


Feedburner feed for your aggregator (i.e. Netvibes, Bloglines, etc.):

The SLURL of the island in Second Life is:

Here is quick picture of the island thus far:

Lighthouse Learning Island

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thoughts on NECC07

NECC07 in Atlanta is over, and I have the luxury of staying over one more night before flying back to Cape Cod in the morning. I think this option might become a tradition since it gives me a chance to reflect on everything that I saw and learned before getting back to my "regular" routine.

The conference was a great success, in my opinion. Thank you to ISTE and the GA and NECC Conference Committees for a job well-done! The amount of energy from the participants and the presenters kept me excited the entire time! It was great to spend time with colleagues from all over the globe and to listen carefully (although not always quietly, which is no surprise to anyone!) to what others had to say.

I would like to thank all of the wonderful educators who took the time to stop me and make me feel so special. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and the new friends that I made. I look forward to seeing everyone in San Antonio in 2008!

Tired and full of new ideas,

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Lighthouse Learning Island

Well, we did it! Four school districts in Massachusetts (Nauset Public Schools, Barnstable Public Schools, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District, and Plymouth Public Schools) have purchased an island in Second Life!

We are calling the island "Lighthouse Learning Island" and it is intended to prvide two things. The first is an engaging venue for traditional professional development and collaboration including staff meetings, presentations on topics of interest to the educators in our district, and training materials. Noticess about workshops and events that are open to the public will sent to the members of the Second Life group "K-12 Educators", so you might want to join that group within SL if you are interested.

Secondly, the environment is intended to ramp up the Second Life skills of the teachers in the four districts in order to move ahead, in year two, with content-specific Teen Grid islands. The plan is to staff the Teen Grid islands with teachers who will use those venues to enhance student content-area instruction.

The island has been approved and should show up in a week or so. I requested a certain area for its location, but I will not know the location until it shows up!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007


Each session at NECC07 has been assigned a tag. My tag is n07s800 and, hopefully, after the conference you will be able to read about the session and perhaps see photos!

Google Blog Search
Blog RSS Feed for your aggregator
Flickr Tag
Flickr RSS Feed for your aggregator

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Best Practices Conference Archive is live!

My presentation was "streamed" from the Best Practices Conference last week. I specifically chose not to utilize the voice function, since, for most of us, that would not be available on other occasions. Here is a direct link to my presentation:

A conference committee member conducted a "play-by-play" voiceover of my presentation in the video, and, although it was a bit rocky in some places since she did not have the script ahead of time (mine went smoothly in SL!), I think it came out fine. It is interesting to see how slowly the slides came into focus on the video, since, in Second Life, on my computer, they were appearing in focus right away.

This was a learning experience for all of us, and we all learned a lot, so I feel it was truly worth all of the effort. Thanks again to the hard-working conference team who put it all together!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Kathy Dryburgh's Guide to SL for Educators

Sites presented at the
Second Life Best Practices
in Education Conference
on May 25, 2007.

Flickr slide show of slides in the presentation.

Flickr "photos" during the presentation.

Second Life Cable Network archive of presentation.

Sites to Support Teaching and Learning


Genome Island

Solar Eclipse Planetarium

Second Life Library

Second Life Medical Library

International Spaceflight Museum

Global Kids

Literature Alive

Commonspace for Progressive Organizations

Sites to Suport Professional Development


Terra Incognita

Elven Institute

NMC Campus

Angel Learning Isle

CATER (member of C.A.V.E.)

Carl F. Spackler Hall (member of C.A.V.E.)

Discovery Educator Network

ISTE Emerging Technologies Task Force (member of C.A.V.E.)

Math Playground

Podcast Central


Meg Writer

Lighthouse Learning Island

Please add any other SLURLs you find interesting and how they can support teaching, learning, or professional development!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Update on conference presentation location

I will not be presenting my session on Eduisland II. Current info is below.

Second Life Best Practices in Education Conference
May 25, 2007

Title: Kathy Dryburgh's Guide to Second Life for K-12 Educators
Time: 7am SLT
Location: Hyperstring Conference Center

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Presenting in Second Life

I have been accepted to present at the Second Life Best Practices in Education Conference to be held in-world on May 25th.

My presentation is entitled "Kathy Dryburgh's Guide to Second Life for K-12 Educators" and will be presented at 7am SLT at Hyperstring's Conference Center. Directly after the presentation, the links to the sites covered will be available on this blog.

The presentation schedule for the entire event may be found here. Please register for the conference if you are planning to attend and hope to see you there!


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Second Life Update

Well, Kathy Dryburgh has been busy in Second Life. Kathy's Kaffeeklatsch, the professional development area, is complete and plans are underway for some upcoming sessions.

I have also purchased some plots of land on the island, Montbard, and have put up a vacation home. Decorating and figuring out how to build things has been fun! I am trying to get a geodesic dome put up, since I live in one in real life, but have not quite made that work yet.

Thanks to all the K-12 educators who have joined SL and have said hello. I have created a group just for you! Directions are below for joining the group. There is a cool t-shirt available at the Kaffeeklatsch if you are interested. I am using the group to send out messages of interest to the K-12 crowd about professional development opportunities being held in SL dealing with areas of interest to us.

To join the K-12 Educators group:

Click on the SEARCH button at the bottom of the screen and choose the GROUPS tab. Type “K-12 Educators” in the search box and look down the list until you see that specific title. Click on the group to open the description and choose join by choosing the JOIN button which is found directly under the picture of the school crossing sign. You can then right-click on your avatar, choose groups, choose K-12 Educators, and choose ACTIVATE. That will put the group name over your head.

Try it, and, if you cannot do it, send me your avatar name and I will send you an invite!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dollhouse c. 2007

Way back in 1977, I purchased an unfinished dollhouse and painstakingly put cedar shingles on the outside, wired the rooms for electricity, used old wallpaper books to create the wallpaper in the rooms, and crocheted my own rugs for the floors. Well, fast forward to 2007, and I am doing the same thing again!

I now have rented my own house, Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch, but not because I did not enjoy sharing a space with Hodjazz and Leigh. I simply wanted my own place to have more prims (the construction faces that make up the objects in Second Life) so I could both gather and create my own furniture and decorations. I will also be putting in links to lots of educational URLs in the house, but, for now, I am simply having fun creating and decorating. Guess it is the craft-lover in me!

There are plenty of apartments and offices available for rent on Eduisland II, and Fleet Goldenberg, the "landlord", is very responsive and helpful with any technical problems that occur. The cost to rent office space or an apartment is very reasonable, and you would have 250 prims all your own!

See you in SL! (Okay, I really do feel this 3-D MUVE has huge educational implications, but I can still have fun, can't I?)

Kathy Schrock aka Kathy Dryburgh

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Second Life Articles and Info

Well, I sent out Second Life as my site of the school week this week, and am happy to see so many educators signing up! I am helping them out a bit, but the tutorials in SL are easy-to-follow, so they don't need too much of my help.

I came across a short YouTube video that gives a brief explanation of Second Life and the role of businesses in the environment.

In addition, here are a variety of articles about SL that discuss various aspects of the metaverse environment.

A Second Life for Middle School Science
Second Life: A Venue for Professional Development?
Second Life: It's Not a Game

Kathy Schrock

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Second Life update...

Well, Kathy Dryburgh now has her own space in Second Life! Thanks to Ferdi Serim for renting me some space.

I finished decorating today and also learned a tiny bit of the scripting language. I now know how to distribute special T-shirts to people (I made them for the Schrockguide, MassCUE, and my district) and also how to lead users to a URL on the Internet from within Second Life. Here are some pictures of my space, but they do not really do the rooms justice!

I am still learning my way around, but am more and more convinced that Second Life is a viable option for the delivery of online professional development. In addition, I ran into some of my favorite ed-tech gurus today, and it is nice to keep up with them!

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tagged...Simply Successful Secrets

I was tagged yesterday by Lucy Gray as part of a project to list a few habits which have helped me become successful in the educational technology arena.

1. I watch a soap opera (Days of Our Lives) on my Tivo each day. I think it is very important to take a break from everything and do something for yourself every day in order to allow the intense periods of hard work to happen.

2. I read everything-- I love RSS because I can quickly skim hundreds of blog posts each day and quickly save the ones that I want to come back to later.

3. I have worked on my Web page, Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators, for two hours each day since June 1, 1995, and am proud of the fact I continue to add to it and maintain it all on my own. The positive feedback from teachers and others who use the page really supports my efforts!

4. I always answer every email. I get lots of requests for assistance, and, although sometimes I just give the requester the tool or technique for finding what they need, I do my best to help. Again, I think this makes me approachable, and has contributed to my success in the ed tech world. (I also often know of trends before they become mainstream from the questions I get asked, and I get a head-start on learning about something new!)

5. I re-invent myself every year. Although information literacy is near and dear to my heart, I truly take on a new topic each year to study about in-depth, and then share the information wherever I am able. I have run the gamut of topics including handhelds, critical evaluation, effective searching, primary source material, technology phobias, Web 2.0, online tools, yadda, yadda. I feel that this keeps me fresh and wide-eyed with wonder, as well as allowing me to share a new passion with my audiences!

6. I learn at LEAST one new thing every day. (And usually lots more than one!) I love to learn, I love to take risks, and I love sharing my discoveries!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Kathy takes a kaffee break in SL

Kathy Dryburgh visits the Kaffeeklatsch and sits down to enjoy a cup o' joe!

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New Web 2.0 tools

I have so many new Web 2.0 tools to add to my NECC '07 presentation, the presentation is now about 2 hours long! I am going to have to replace some of the "oldies" with their newer cousins.

Some I have been playing with this morning.

yourminis: an online aggregrator which is both pretty and functional, with a host of widgets to add to your page, a tabbed interface to add additional pages, and the ability to add your own RSS feeds a online brainstorming, basic concept-mapping tool; not collaborative in real time yet, but an easy interface to use with students or at a meeting

peepel: another online application offer, but this one allows you to keep the applications (WP, SS, calculator) all open at the same time in your browser window

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kathy Dryburgh photo...

In case you run into me in Second Life, here is what Kathy Dryburgh looks like.

Kathy Dryburgh

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Kathy Dryburgh's trip to Second Life

Well, I have had my avatar (Kathy Dryburgh) in Second Life since last December, but just took the time today to both edit it (so it looked a little more like me) and spend some time figuring out how the interface works. My home is the ISTE Second Life building, and I met some ed tech folks who helped me out with some of the things I did not know how to do (like point!) There is a lot to learn, but at least I feel comfortable with the interface now and will make time to attend ISTE sessions and talks in the environment.

I felt like I was on a real trip, so I took some photos while I was visiting. You can view the small photo album here if you wish.

If you have not tried Second Life give it a try. Once you do, and once the real-time audio functionality is available for all later this spring, you will imagine all types of educational uses of it! Even without the interactive audio, it is a fun and interesting concept to explore. Look me up when you are using it!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Googlepedia rocks!

Michael Miller has recently written a wonderful, easy-to-read, reference book entitled Googlepedia, which includes information about many of the Google tools -- everything from Google Search to Google Earth to Froogle and everything in-between! This 700+ page book is full of explanations and tips and tricks for using each one of the Google tools.

I consider myself a pretty experienced searcher and I always start on the advanced search page of Google, and suggest others do, too, but Miller provides lots of tips that are applicable to both the simple and advanced search boxes.

For example, in just four pages in the book I learned:

  • Capitalization in the search terms does not matter to the Google engine.

  • The order you put the words in the search box DOES matter. Google gives the first word more weight than the second, etc., so always lead with the most important word in your search (if you are not using a phrase)

  • If you are creating the search yourself, and using Boolean search terms, remember to capitalize OR and NOT and AND so they are not ignored as stop words.

  • Google does not allow stemming with a wildcard character, but automatically returns results that include variations of the search terms like plurals and other forms of the word (i.e. educator, educators)

  • If you want to limit your hits a bit, you can search just the text that appears on the Web page (and eliminate the search term when appears in the URL or title tag of a page) by typing the word "intext:" in front of your keywords (without the quotation marks.

If you want to become a more proficient searcher, as well as learn how to navigate Blogger, Google Maps, Google Desktop, Google Blog Search, Picasa, and many more of the Google tools, buy this book!

MLA Citation (created by submitting the ISBN number to, a great site to show your students!)

Miller, Michael. Googlepedia. Indianapolis: Que, 2006.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Facebook as an "official" communications tool

I am putting together a school district brochure and I wanted to use a picture from last year in which two recent graduates from our high school appear. Since the picture was taken by my son, I went into Facebook and requested permission for use from the photographer and the two subjects using the messaging function within Facebook.

Besides having the answers back from all involved in less than an hour, the message page, when printed out, includes both my initial request and their answer, and is date and time-stamped.

Social networking at its best!


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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scribd, part 2

There is also a way to embed the created document into a blog page or Web page, and thanks to one of the co-founders for reminding me of how to do that. (The resulting Flash document had to be made a little smaller for this blog's format.) The FAQ's of Scribd may be found here to find out more.

One other thought...for those that have to create a PDF file, the "download as PDF file" is a very useful component, too!

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Friday, March 09, 2007


Okay...this is tool is cool! Sign up for a free account, and upload a PDF, DOC, PPT, XLS, TXT, etc. to their library, where it is turned into an Adobe Flash Paper document. It will be a public document, however.

Here is one that I uploaded:

What I find really fascinating is that the text of the document can be read-aloud to the person viewing the presentation! (Click on the little gray control panel on the right!)

In addition, the user can download the document as PDF, plain text, and the read-aloud audio can be downloaded as an MP3 file! What easier way to get a document onto an audio player-- simply upload it to Scribd, download the MP3, and load it onto an iPod or other audio device!

I find this too cool for words. The ease-of-use is extraordinary!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Interesting niche gadget: HP's Presto

I kept hearing a radio ad for Presto from HP, so I decided to look it up and find out more about it.

It is an interesting niche gadget and service. It is intended for those who want to receive email (with our without photos) but do not want to deal with a computer. The system has two components-- the HP Presto printer (kinda like a receive-only color fax machine) that plugs into the regular phone line and the Presto service which is $9.99 per month. Each owner gets a email address and the ability to limit who their messages are allowed to come from. Any approved user can send an email with embedded photos and can even format the email to look stylish. The Presto printer uses a single ink cartridge and regular paper. There is even a tone that can be played whenever new email has arrived. The user schedules when the device dials out and retrieves the email.

It remains to be seen how popular it becomes!


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Windows Desktop Search (WDS)

Okay, you know that I run an Intel iMac with Bootcamp and Windows XP Pro, and use the Windows side most of the time. One of the neat features I like on the Mac side of the machine is Spotlight's ability to easily search all the documents on the machine. (And I know that Microsoft Vista has this built-in, too, but I am not ready to move to Vista just yet.)

Well, the Windows Desktop Search has been released, and it works on the Windows side of my machine just like Spotlight does on the Mac side. It has been available for a few months now, but I just discovered it!

There are some hardware and software requirements that must be in place to use it, but, if your machine meets them, give it a try!

It takes a bit of time and processing power to index all the files on your machine, so don't be alarmed if things are a bit slower than usual after the intial install as the software indexes (in my case, My Docs and my Outlook e-mail folders.) When you do a search, one of the options is to have the list of hits show up in the left-hand column and the preview of each hit in the right-hand column of the results window.

Even though I am the terminally left-brained learner and file everything away carefully in its own "safe" place, there are still times when I can't find the specific e-mail or document version I am seeking. Windows Desktop Search definitely fits the bill for my purposes and I suggest you give it a try! (BTW, I am running Office 2007 Pro Plus and it seems to work with it like a charm!)

WDS Homepage:


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Interviewed by local ISP

Our local ISP has a crackerjack staff of technicians, web designers, Web programmers, and they do it all! One of their staff, Kristen, asked to interview me this week and we decided to create a podcast of the interview. She had never recorded an interview so we recorded it, and I cleaned up the audio using Audacity to show her how it was done.

Kristen provided me with some very good questions, and had spent a lot of time looking at my sites to find things of interest to ask. It was a lot of fun, and you can look at the Web page here, give it a listen with a click on the 6.73 megabyte MP3 file, or cut-and-paste this Feedburner tag to add it to your aggregator:

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Some interesting Google features

I came across this article and learned some new, cool things you can do with Google. Based on this article, I am ordering a copy of the author's' book!

Here are a couple of them....

Unit Converter
Google can be used as your unit converter. Simply type the information in the search box on Google's page (or in your Google toolbar) in this format-- x unit1 in unit2, for example, 2 tablespoons in teaspoons. You are actually brought directly into the calculator for the answer.

Package Tracker
As one who does a lot of purchasing of techno-toys over the Internet, I am constantly going to the different package tracking sites to see when my new gadget will arrive. You can simply type the tracking number in the search box of Google and it will provide you with a link to the proper company's tracking page for your package.

Music Artist Information
If you type the name of a music artist in the search box (I chose Bobby Sherman), and click on their name in the hit, you are provided with a list of all of their albums, which leads you to a discography of each, as well as the other albums the songs appeared on, and links to lyrics for the song if they are available online.

Google rules!

Kathy Schrock

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Tiny Computer

This past week I purchased a Sony Vaio UX180P, a tiny little computer. It is not the most current model of the device, which is the UX280P, but it was on clearance at my local Staples store for half-price and I could not resist!

It is not an UMPC, since it does not run Windows Tablet Edition, but is categorized as a Micro PC. It does have a passive touchscreen and runs the full version of Windows XP Pro. It does not have the RAM nor the hard drive size to install the upcoming new Windows OS, Vista, but that's okay with me!

I had played with it at the store for a few hours and was very impressed with the really bright and clear screen. The 4.5" widescreen display and the high resolution means that the type size is really tiny, but surprisingly readable. (You can zoom in from a button if you need to!)

At 1.2 pounds with the battery installed and a size of 5.91"w x 3.74"h x 1.27-1.5"d, this device will be carried in my Vera Bradley Bowler bag each day to work. It has an easy-to-use thumb-mouse, two cameras (back and front), a slide-down keyboard, BT, Wireless, USB, and also comes with a little dongle with an Ethernet connection, a VGA out, and AV out, as well as a docking station with all of these connections plus two more USB ports and a Firewire connection. My only gripe with it is the 2.5 hour battery life, but I think (hope) I can live with that!

I have decided to bring this as my computer for presenting at FETC this week. My carry-on bag is very light even with the UX180P, my DS Lite, and my Motorola Q.

Long live tiny, shiny gadgets!


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Monday, January 15, 2007

Old Computer Advertisements

I happened across this blog, called Moderm Mechanix, which has thousands of scanned-in advertisements from technology magazines of the past. I especially liked browsing through the computers section!

Some other "old" technology sites include:
-- The Obsolete Technology Web Site
-- Computer History Museum
-- The Obsolete Computer Museum (one of my computers!)


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Monday, January 01, 2007


Lucy Gray has come up with a another great way to demonstrate the power of blogs and edubloggers and the sharing of information. Please visit her blog at this blink to find out more about it. It involves a Google Earth mash-up and two simple questions.

Don't really worry about tagging five others, just create your kmz file and send it along to her as per the instructions. Lucy will post the results at this blink.

Thanks for letting us participate, Lucy! (My kmz file has been sent to Lucy and is also attached here.)

Kathy Schrock


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