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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