The role of technology in education

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Here is my perspective on:
The role of Technology in Education.


SoundCloud Podcasts:

These series of Podcasts are designed around the Google Echo System using SoundCloud. I hope you find them useful.

Chirbit Podcasts

These series of Podcasts are designed around the Google Echo System using Chirbit. I hope you find them useful.

Chirbit Podcasts:

Tweaking the Embeded video code to specify the start time

Here is video that shows how to start a YouTube video at a specific time:

An easier approach might be to use the Share link just below the video as shown below, then setting the start time as needed:


Now you can start embedding a video at a specific time within the video.

Next to Share link, is the Embed link which allows you to embed your video within your blog. If you now tweak the embedded code with the instruction above to start the video at a specific time within the video.

Linkedin Ning Facebook


Social networking sites have evolved overtime. Some rapidly and very successfully, while others faded away in this brutal competitive environment, such as MySpace from $580 million in 2005 down to $35 million in 2011. It is hard to predict which product will be successful, given the rapidly changing environment. What is given is that the more niche market a products serves, the more likely it is to survive; at least for the short term. The long tail distribution rules the market and helps new comers to the scene. Below are three products that serve a specific niche. Interestingly enough, niche products are expanding beyond their original scope; each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Linkedin, $972 million (2012), Alexa ranking (14)

Linkedin today is the de facto standard for professional connections, a social contact network consisting of users’ direct connections as well as second and third degree connections. Members can upload photos, resumes, set up profiles, portfolios and experiences, which can lead to future business opportunities through recommendations, keyword searches or contacts. Employers may share news, list job openings and seek potential candidates. Individuals can follow companies and receive notifications on upcoming jobs. One feature that users may dislike is living a public life. For example, even though I do post information about myself on Linkedin, having a public record of one’s life has its drawbacks. I don’t look forward to the marketing and sales force to leverage that familiarity to their advantage. Such as, “I understand you like cycling,… I used to own a tricycle myself…” which can be vexing at times. However, Linkedin does indeed stand up to its slogan “Relationships Matter.”

Ning, $30.0 million (2011 est.), Alexa ranking (414)

Ning uses custom templates to serve individuals or communities that wish to form a group around a common cause. Individuals joining the organization can form their own profiles if they wish. Ning can interface with other products such as: Facebook, Twitter, and Google for account interface as well content interface with products such as YouTube, Vimeo, MySpace, and SoundCloud. Examples include:

It is worth noting that ISTE discontinued the use of Ning due to its unjustifiable cost and expenses. As it stands today, in this ever-changing market, Ning does not stand up to tis slogan: “The World’s Largest Platform for Creating Social Websites.”

Facebook, Revenue $5.1 billion (2012), Alexa ranking (2)

What is there new to say about Facebook, the most popular social networking tool today? Perhaps, Mark Zukerburger’s interest in Graph Search is most noteworthy. Whereby, the user searches for content through Facebook users’ interests and experiences rather than the search term itself. On a personal note, my sister-in-law hated computers with a passion for decades. Even though her brother and her husband are both avid computer scientists. Facebook was the disruptive force she was waiting for. Today, she has more followers than one can fathom. Through Facebook she learned everything she needed to know about computers, smart devices, photo uploading, international communication, data tracking, music on the Internet, business presence on the net, and the list goes on. The avid computer scientists now ask her questions about Facebook. Remarkably this social networking tool that was born at Harvard through some questionable connection has found its way as a business force and data shows it is only second to Google on user searches. The lesson learned here is the appropriate application can bring anyone around to endorse technology, even in the classroom. Many companies and non-profit organizations now have a presence on Facebook to communicate with their constituents. Parents, teachers, and students can all benefit from this environment. It is bridging the gap between personal and professional presence. Most schools in my district now have a Facebook link. To help resolve some of these challenges, Facebook has setup secret groups, member groups, as well as public groups based on user’s needs.

In my district we strictly ask staff to keep a separate personal and professional presence to avoid potential pitfalls. Now even some students keep double Facebooks. One is for parents and family members, another using an alias for their friends. Even those who keep a single site communicate with their friends using code-language such as keywords from movies and lyrics that is meaningful to their own social network. Facebook delivers on its slogan “Read. Watch. Listen”, even though what you read, watch and listen may not be decodable by all.

VodCasts and Podcasts


Podcasts and vodcast are just-in-time and natural progression of radio and television as we knew it. With creative approaches such as iTunesU, Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) in education as well as commercial cable TV alternatives such as Vimio, the stage is set for a profound and rollercoaster pace of change in this arena. This disruptive change will impact many aspects of broadcasting as well as educational institutions.

In October 2007, the musical group Radiohead, a British rock band, decided to by-pass middle management of the music industry by releasing their album In Rainbows through their own website. The music was presented as a digital download where customers could make any payment that they considered appropriate (pay what you want), or nothing at all. The site advised, “It’s up to you.”

Since then, individuals have become empowered to produce their own products on a shoestring, bearing in mind that the quality of the product is trumped by the instant availability of the content.  Granted, we are still at the infancy stage of this evolution. Time will tell how well this new opportunities will manifest itself, though the evidence seems to favor the creators rather than producers for now.  

In a classroom setting the process is the same, just at a much slower pace. Podcast and vodcast resources are now available to everyone, 24×7. Everyone connected that is. Freely available tools help teachers create their own bank of resources, provide supplemental review material, help students prepare for tests, fill a gaps in prior learning, or assist students missing school due to illness or an unanticipated event.

As a professional development tool, educators can share best practices, open the door to their classroom for classroom observations, and assist parents with clarification and understanding of the concepts taught. In other words, create a two-way communication opportunity to connect beyond the four walls of the classroom.

There are many great resources and they can take different forms. For example, ESL Students with limited English proficiencies can leverage podcasting to learn English. I find RadioLab podcasts from NPR as a great resource to help students appreciate nuances of the English language as well as the science of everyday life around them. This gem of a site can serve as a great resource to help form essential questions as well as frame the conversation in a classroom setting. Topics may include: Snowflakes 101, a little backstory on how snowflakes form, or topics that may interest young adolescents such as  Sleep Deprivation.

As Solomon and Schrum put it in the text, students and educators today can readily take advantage of available tools such as Tumbler, or simply use smartphones to quickly create podcasts and post it to any number of social networking sites such as FaceBook, Google+, or WordPress from anywhere around the world.

As a professional development resource, I like Alan November’s thought provoking podcast interviews with education experts such as Students as Contributors: A Podcast with Silvia Tolisano. One is introduced to many field experts and their perspectives on education exploring various topics and perspectives, including this one where Tolisano believes it is important to put students in the driver’s seat.

I enjoy Vodcasts and Podcasts from University of Houston, Clear-Lake, where the professors banter about a topic, unrehearsed, or so it seems. The laid back approach is easy on the ear and the listener enjoys the conversation while learning something new.  I would like to use their model to continue to develop our own virtual courses in our district. I would rather have two teachers or professors discuss issues back and forth, rather than watch a boring talking head. For example, here is  one of my podcasts from Irving ISD posted by Dr. Smith and Dr. Crawford of University of Houston, and then reposted by Miguel’s Blog, where he talks about everything under the sun about educational technology with 1.8 million followers. Miguel is a prolific writer well known in Texas and around the world. Similar to this, podcasts may also take a different shape to inform and reach the community such as a news bulletin.

Here is a good variety of nominated podcasts from EduBlogAwards that you may enjoy:

  1. 60 Second Civics
  2. A.T.Tipscast
  3. Cool teacher podcast
  4. Douchy’s Biology Podcasts
  5. Edtechroundup
  6. Ed Tech Crew
  7. EdTechLive
  8. ELTchat
  9. ESL Podcast Blog
  10. Hack College
  11. Lab Out Loud
  12. LearnEnglish
  13. Middle School Matters
  14. Music Teachers 911
  16. Pulse-Project Math/Maths Weekly Podcasts
  17. Seedlings Bit by Bit
  18. SoundTree
  19. Stanford University
  20. Teacher 2.0 podcast
  21. TechChicks
  22. The Virtual Staffroom
  23. T is for Training
  24. With Students in Mind




Mightybell is yet another social networking tool among the sea of web 2.0 resources that is expanding at a faster pace than the universe itself. Just to make sure, just visit this collection of web 2.0  Resources for unlimited possibilities. So before one digs-in to a new web 2.0 site, it is best to search for a review of the product to save time. Mightybell, similar to many other social networking sites has its positives and negatives. Take a look at CNET’s review of Mightybell. Granted, the review was done in August of 2012, and in tech-years (one month = one year), this article is about six years old!!!! and products continuously evolve.

What intrigues me about Mightybell is the ability to quickly form a personal learning community, or as SEDL calls it, Professional Learning Communities (PLC). In this case, Steve Hargadon formed a book-study with minimal effort, whereby users can collaborate and contribute asynchronously. I look forward to Steve’s book study of Seymour Papert, one the most influential giants of constructivist learning, father of LOGO programming language, Lego Robotics, and a prominent contributor to one-to-one laptop program in state of Maine as well as Negroponte’s XO laptop and OLPC project. His writings are fresh today as they were decades ago, a true visionary student of Jean Piaget.

Beyond book studies, something I have always wanted to do was form a scene-by-scene film review of some of my favorite movies. Looking at specific scene, dissecting the actor’s body language, analyzing the tune, the tone, and synthesizing the director’s perspective, all within the fraction of each specific scene. Now I have a tool just for that. Mighybell can certainly serve this need, yet a different application of the same product.

As a software developer I have learned that often end-users find more creative ways of using a product than the developer would have ever imagined. Which may lead into new possibilities or limitations that a product inherits. Hence, the next creative person comes along and resolved the limitation by creating a new product, a new web 2.0 tool. Some are successfully and others not, only time will tell. Meanwhile, the end-user has to consider the time and effort investment in each product and consider portability of the content from one medium to the next as web 2.0 tools fade in and out of our consciousness.