Thursday, December 15, 2011

6232: Selection and Integration of Instructional Technologies Extra Credit Post

I had great experiences at the 2011 ITEC conference in Des Moines, IA in October. One of the most enlightening sessions I went to, happened by accident. I actually got lost in the conference center and meandered through the main meeting room, stumbling upon a very energetic presenter- Steve Dembo. His presentation entitled, Extreme Makeover Education Edition, showcased different Web 2.0 tools currently available to teachers.

Though he considered this a beginner course, I still learned a lot about mixing technologies in this session. Steve talked about the ease at which you can integrate technology into a classroom and showcase what students do.  He said that teachers must be aware of how they are using the technology and how others view it. His “what is it?” questions made me more aware of this.
“What is it?” questions:
Is the technology web-based?
Is it interactive?
Can it play well with others? (Is it portable? Does it work with other sites?)
This idea of integrating technology tools sounded a little redundant until he showed the group several awesome examples.

Steve introduced me to, which is a type of photo blog. All you have to do to sign up is to email the website and they create an instant blog for you.  It’s so easy to use. Using your phone (if you have email on it), simply take a photo of your classroom and send it to It will instantly be uploaded as a blog post with whatever caption you included with it. This would be great for parents to view throughout the day to see instant progress from their kids.   

Another technology twist he threw at us was Wordle. Yes, I know everyone has used Wordle before, but has everyone mixed it with Picnik? Steve suggested using Wordle for class projects (let’s use Jane Austen and her works for this example), and then manipulating the Wordle within Picnik to create a visual story. By taking a screenshot of the Wordle you created and saving it as a jpg, you can easily upload it into Picnik. Once in Picnik, it is easy to manipulate and saves directly to your desktop as a jpg. Cool! These tools are free and available to anyone with internet access. Check out my creation:



The third intriguing tool Steve showed was This is a website allowing you to create postcasts or phonecasts using your phone. The podcasts can load directly to itunes so your students can hear their presentations or lessons. If you want a separate phone number, Steve suggested using Google Voice (which offers users a phone number for their own use) and using that with
Watch this tutorial here!

While some of these types of technology may take some time to set up, they show different ways to present or share information. If students prefer to give an oral presentation instead of writing a paper, they have options. If they work better with visuals, these tools would work as well. Use them as study tools or art projects. They can be done within minutes so they’re user-friendly!

Selection and Integration of Intructional Technologies Final Project

The final test of our instructional design abilities for our Selection and Integration of Technologies class was to create an instructional unit spanning 3-4 weeks. This was also to incorporate the 5 modular topics we’d learned over the course of the semester:

-Gradual Release of Responsibility
-Technology Integration Matrix
-21st Century Classroom
-Cyber citizenry (
-Universal Design for Learning

While this seemed like an easy assignment when I’d first started, I quickly remembered how detailed and tedious creating a training course can be (not that it wasn’t fun…). There are so many things to remember and include for successful instruction, that it’s easy to forget a section! In any account, click here to view my final project.
Photo from:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Extra Credit Post for 5153: Emerging Instructional Technologies

Though the presentations at ITEC 2011 were geared toward teachers, I was able to take ideas and new resources to work in the business/training setting. Specifically, I would have gone to all of Leslie Fisher’s sessions because of the useful applications she suggested.
What I learned from Leslie was that educators and professionals alike should promote themselves through websites. While her focus during this session was geared toward school or district websites, she did note the importance of being able to present yourself in a creative and truthful way.
As I work to create my portfolio for my degree, I will keep her suggestions in mind. Leslie noted there are steps to creating a successful website, be it for myself or an institution. Leslie qualified these as: identifying a goal/reason for website, gathering content, designing the website, and finally actually creating the site. She stressed the importance of these steps, because people often start making their website with no plan and it can tend to end up looking messy and confusing to maneuver.

She offered resources from,, and for templates and designs to use for a website. Actual site makers like offer 3 pages of a free website (she claims its better than Google sites) and you don't have to know html!

This information in conjunction with another session featuring tips for photography was very interesting to me. Going off of her work for the website, Digital Days: Video and Photography Workshops, she exposed 10 problems most faced while taking photos and ways to correct them.

1.       Not close enough
      2.       Not in focus
       3.       Camera shakes (nothing in focus)
       4.       Boring composition
       5.       Ignoring background
       6.       Missing the moment
       7.       Too much flash
       8.       Not enough flash
       9.       Could have been vertical
      10.   Digital zoom

Learning how to take better photos would be important in the classroom or training for various reasons. If your training focuses on visual learning or referencing materials, then clear concise photos would be needed to convey specific directions. Using photos in the classroom can vary from students who use photos to communicate to creating online coursework and websites to scholarly presentations.  
I think I tend to forget that a photo can communicate as much as a literary piece and it makes sense to spend time to learn to communicate well with photography.

Photos from: (Leslie Fisher) (web designs) (web designs)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Module #7: Part 2

Come visit my Great Gardens Tour in Second Life.

1. Da Vinci Gardens
Visit here to buy photos or paintings. See the lava erupting from the mountain and gardens all around.
2. Gardens of Absentia
Come play beach volleyball! Visitors can place a lantern in the water in remembrance of a loved one with cancer.

3. Karuna Underwater & Tropical Gardens
 Underwater world with free plants and sea monkeys- if you can catch them!
4. Walking Gardens, Quordlepleen
 Winter wonderland with snow, boating and the occasional moose or reindeer.

5. Sweetpea Gardens
 Come play the piano or on the swings. Listen to music.
6. Gardens of Sabu
 Multicolored horses and weeping willows cover this island of "samurai" gardens.
7. Bridges, Swings & Gardens
 A garden of bridges and huts lead you from garden to garden.
8. Forest Floor
 Earth crystals and detailed flowers cover this island.
9. Cave Rua Water Gardens
 These gardens offer extensive coral reef and starfish to see.

10. Catch a Falling Star Jazz Club & Gardens
 Walk among the falling stars and or swim in the luxurious pool and use the divingboards or floaties

Module #6: Part 1

I chose to make a tour of gardens within Second Life. Here is my list of places to visit.

1. DaVinci Garden
2. Gardens of Absentia
3. Karuna Underwater & Tropical Gardens
4. Walking Gardens, Quordlepleen
5. Sweetpea Gardens
6. Gardens of Sabu
7. Bridges, swings and gardens
8. Forest Floor
9. Cave Rua Water Gardens
10. Catch a Falling Star jazz club and gardens.

Module #5: Island Tours

For Module #5, I chose to take the Ancient Civilizations tour within Second Life. Here was my itinerary:
Apollonian Empire:
The creator made it an option to actually swim in the pools. This was fun until I realized I was stuck in there as there were no flying options at this site. I finally managed to get out and see what the island offered. I liked the architecture and how it differed each place I went.
The Hittite Empire:
This sunny island proved to offer many options for clothing and entertainment, but the island was deserted.  I found more to do at the next destination- Museum Island.
Museum Island:
Museum Island had a ancient Rome feel to it and was an interesting place to see ancient obelisks and statues.
Roma- The Roman Market:
The Roman market proved to be more interesting sights such as wishing wells and carriages and the Baths of Caracalla.
Blues in the Night:
The Delta project was less eventful. Aside from some mountains and a view, there was not much to do here.
The other stops along this tour either provided broken links, or they were unavailable for transport. Moving around these areas differed in the ways you could move. Most places did not let visitors fly, but did add other movements such as swimming.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Universal Design for Learning/Assistive Technologies

Our current module in Selection and Integration of Instructional Technology, we have been discussing the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in classrooms. UDL recognizes that every learner is unique and processes information differently. It provides a basis to create and put into practice lessons with flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that support learning for all students. 

For our assignment, I interviewed two SLP’s (Speech-Language Pathologists) that utilize UDL everyday. Rowene White is a speech–language pathologist in Bryan, TX. She works with children that have delays with their speech and language skills such as:  articulation disorders, voice disorders, fluency disorders, expressive and receptive language delays, physical and social communication skills (mostly hearing impaired and cognitive delays). She loves to see her students improve on their communication skills with families, friends and peers successfully at home and school. 

Katie Darby has previously worked as a speech-language pathologist for an AEA in the schools and currently works at Childserve in Ames with children with mild to severe speech and language deficits.  Many of her kids have autism to some degree, while others have speech and language delays (or just developmental delays).  She loves that she can make such an impact on a families life by changing the child's communication and being able to 'reach' that kid to let them be a part of their environment like they have never before.

Rowene's answers appear in yellow and Katie's appear in red.

1. How do you decide to use UDL or assistive technologies with a student?
I look at the overall abilities of the student - cognitive, physical, and behavioral.  I choose the complexity of the technology according to their mental abilities (for example, picture symbols on cards vs. an electronic device with up to 1000 symbols).  Some students may not have the manual dexterity to manipulate a keyboard.  Some may have visual impairments, and the picture symbols would need to be enlarged.  Students with hearing loss may not benefit from devices with synthetic voice outputs.  When choosing assistive technologies, I also consider the individual's negative behaviors.  High cost technology may not be appropriate for someone who could potentially damage or destroy the device. They may require assistance from another individual.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I use AT (assistive technologies) for many students.  I have several kids that are currently non-verbal and can only communicate with the use of AT devices. I have others that just need a little bit of support to succeed in the school setting.  For the last couple of years, I was a part of the Assitive Technology team for my AEA and it was very important to us that everyone in need be given the chance to have AT carefully considered for their schooling and potentially included on their IEP. 

2. What is the process used when designing curriculum to implement these devices?
First, I look at the needs of the individual.  In what environment will the assistive technology be used?  For what purpose will the technology be used?  Who is the audience when the device is used?  Specific picture symbols, words, and/or auditory messages are then developed with these needs in mind.

My role typically consists of trialing devices to see what is a good fit for the child and then training the child and support staff to effectively and efficiently use it in the classroom and at home.  I really don’t set up classroom curriculum.

3. How does a device help a student communicate or learn?
Information can be shared with the student through the means of the assistive device.  It also allows the student to interact with the listener using different forms of communication:  comments, requests, questions, answers to questions, and negations. 

It is one of the most rewarding things to see when a child is able to use an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device to communicate and interact with their environment.  For so long, many kids that benefit from AT have been isolated from the world around them.  Having access to certain AT devices allows them to ask and answer questions, request objects and simply interact with their peers....and although that maybe not be highly academic, it is life changing!

4. Do you have any favorite tools, devices, or apps to use?
 I frequently use picture symbols generated by a computer program called "Boardmaker".  These picture symbols have also been used in a booklet form called PODDS (Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display). I also use photo symbols taken with my own camera. An iPod is an economical assistive device.  Several apps, such as Proloquo2go, have been developed using picture symbols. Dynavox is a company with an array of assistive devices.  They vary in their complexities.

Proloquo2go device found at:

Over the years, I have had good success with different Dynavox systems as well as Springboard Lite.  My current favorite, however, is the iPad with either the Proloquo2go or Tap-to-Talk apps.  This seems to be the most functional and allows them access to other educationally rich items that the strictly communication devices do not offer.  I also really like the Read and Write Gold program for kids that are fully verbal but need some assistance with literacy activities.  It is an excellent program that helps kids become more independent, which should always be the goal when using AT.

 SpringBoard Lite communicator found at:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changing appearance and avatars: Module 4

In module 4 of our Second Life expedition, we covered different ways to change the appearance of our avatar and creating completely new avatars.  Second Life gives you the opportunity to change things such as height and weight and hair color in a snap. As you make these changes, you save them as outfits to be used or switched out as desired at any time.
I found this module to be easier than the last one that involved using my avatar to move and/or purchase objects. I don’t have to move my avatar around while doing this and I can be as creative as I want to be. Here is a photo of the before and after shots of my avatar and changes to her appearance.

My before avatar (looks kinda like me)

 My after punk-avatar

The next step in the process of change was to create a whole new avatar. Once created, you can switch from avatar to avatar as the situation or need may arise. Here is a photo of my new avatar.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Actions in Second Life: Module 3

Sometimes the simplest tasks take the most time! In module 3 of Second Life, I spent more than the average user time trying to pick up and move a beach ball. Motions are still pretty rough for me, though this was an interesting exercise to practice our skills. After seeing avatars play an instrument in the module 1 video, I thought this would be easy. This is just not true. Even walking is difficult at times! For someone who has not played many video games, this exercise was very difficult to complete. 

The module offered a lot of helpful information and once I remember it, then I think my experience in Second Life will be all the more enjoyable. Creating or acquiring assets still confuses me a little, but I'll learn. Second Life does offer many extra means of entertainment such as music concerts, plays and videos. This will be interesting to try out in the Second Life world.

Starting a video in Second Life is as easy as a wave of a hand.