Monthly Archives: September 2011

Your search results are different than others: Important to know


Did you know that Facebook and Google were filtering the results you get?  It’s true.  This means that results you get may be completely different from results that your friends, your neighbors, your adversaries, people of different ages, different demographics, different locales and countries get.  This is a scary thought to me.

Essentially what is happening: If I am a right-wing or left-wing person who only searches for right-wing or left-wing ideas, this is what I will find.  This is what will be presented to me.  This is what is reinforced in me as: Truth.  I take that idea back that ‘this is scary to me’ and want to replace it with: THIS IS TERRIFYING TO ME!!


Watch this video to understand more:


I am not going to repost this post from The Filter Bubble, but they explain main ideas for how to combat search result filtering:

  1. Burn your cookies.
  2. Erase your web history.
  3. Tell Facebook to keep your data private.
  4. Hide your birthday.
  5. Turn off targeted ads, and tell the stalking sneakers to buzz off.
  6. Go incognito.
  7. Or better yet, go anonymous.
  8. Depersonalize your browser.
  9. Tell Google and Facebook to make it easier to see and control your filters.
  10. Tell Congress you care.

I would add:

  • Compare friend results – like you saw in the video
  • Network through places like Twitter around the world and ask to compare results from people outside of your sphere of thinking – Try to think what you search for and like and choose the opposite #tag instead – for example, if you are a Republican and always search #Republican, try #Democrat instead, and vice versa.  If you search #Vanilla, try #Chocolate.  Connect with new people from the other side of your views, your searches, and your beliefs.
  • Start searching things you don’t normally search – Try to trick these algorithms. (I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s worth a try)
Taylor made is good, but not always.  I hope you take action to see what you might be missing.

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I can’t live without Podcasting. Here’s why:


I can’t live without Podcasting or Vodcasting (Video Podcasting) and this article explains why.  First have a look at this video to understand the implications this can have for the education system .  The idea is a reverse-homework approach, which allows for a differentiated classroom with hands on teacher instruction.


Of all places to start, I was initiated into the world of podcasting by listening to my banks podcasts found here:  They were actually interesting and informative.  They made me want to explore more.

I realized that podcasts were not just books read aloud, but could also be lessons in digital form. I found lesson upon lesson at Apple iTunes and at BBC Radio.  Beyond teaching and learning, I found “the ultimate podcast collection” at

Moving away from the consumption idea I thought about the other end of it: Production.  Podcasting meant that students were able to create, which meant facilitation of higher-level learning in Bloom Digital Taxonomy.  It meant the digital natives in our classrooms had another facet to express themselves.  But how do they do it?


Let’s look first at how to Podcast and then how to Vodcast, Mr. Bennett style.

Podcasting –

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you have sound accessories (tambourines, noise makers, etc.) and you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound card
    • Working headphones and mic
    • Some hard disk space (approx 2-3 gigs should be lots in the beginning)
    • Pop filters are nice, but not necessary.  They take away the loud crackly ‘p’ sounds when you talk
    • Software to record and edit: Audacity is good for a PC / Garageband is excellent for a Mac
    • MP3 Encoder: LAME or iTunes
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Audacity, follow this link to Jason Wan Orden’s site.
    • To learn more about how to Podcast using Garageband, follow this link to Indiana University’s site.
  • Publish and post your Podcast at Ourmedia: mp3 file storage | WordPress: blog service and host | Feedburner: to create a podcast-ready RSS feed

Vodcasting – This is with the idea teachers will create a video podcast for their students to watch as homework

  • Plan your topic and what you are going to say.
    • Make sure you know where you are going to record.
    • Think about background and ambient noise.
    • Think about the background that people will be seeing.  Less is more.  Sit in front of a blank wall.
    • Make sure the lighting on your face is not harsh or one-sided.
    • Keep videos to 10 minutes or less (for student attention and to make sure it will upload to Youtube).
    • Keep yourself Animated and interesting.
    • Have only one idea per video.
  • The Equipment you will need:
    • A computer
    • A sound and video card
    • Working video camera – if it is built-in to the computer it might be best
    • Working mic – again, built-in could be the way to go
    • Camtasia or Camstudio to video and capture screens
    • Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi or something else to display notes
    • Digital writing toolWacom tablets are great and well-priced
    • Software like iMovie (Mac) or Freemake (PC)  to edit the video
    • A Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes subscription to upload your videos
  • Students need:
    • A computer to view Youtube, TeacherTube or iTunes OR
    • Cell phones to watch MP4s OR
    • PSPs – This method requires a video format converter like Media Coder OR
    • Flash Drives
  • You might also attach using a blog or site:
    • Pre-written and uploaded notes
    • Guided practice with questions students will answer
    • Extra reading if they would like
    • Diagrams to follow

Be diligent, but only bite off as much as you and your students can chew.  For example:

  • If you start creating podcasts, try one a night or two a week.
  • Work only on one subject at a time per year.  Don’t overdo it.

This will eventually mean that you have flipped your classroom.  For more information about this, check out University of North Colorado’s website and visit  Join the discussion at Vodcasting Ning found here.

Good luck.


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Downloading Youtube Videos: How to


Everyone wants to know, “How can I download videos from Youtube?”  Well, it’s never been easier.


The fact that I get asked at least once a week about how to download Youtube videos should be proof enough that people are asking this question.

However, the fact that there are 2,220,000 hits in Google when you search, “Download Youtube videos” added to the fact that there are tonne of programs and ways to do this compounds my evidence that we can and should be able to do it pretty easily.


In my short video below, I explain how to download videos from Youtube through Firefox.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Education, Technology


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Gone are keyboards: Surface Computing


Schools are eager to become 1:1 with laptop programs, but they are wrong with this kind of thinking.  Gone will be the days of mice and keyboards.  The 5:1 and 4:1 classrooms are those of the future for tech-heavy, well-endowed and ‘lucky’ schools. What do these programs consist of? Let’s look:

  1. Projector / with Mimio, Smartboard, or Promethian – no keyboards
  2. Wacom Tablets and All-in-one Multitouch Computers – no keyboards
  3. Surface Computers, like Windows / Samsung Surface Computers – no keyboards
  4. Tablets, like iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Eee Pad, Motorolla Xoom (My choice) – no keyboards
  5. Smart phones using Swype technology– no keyboards

And maybe a notebook here and there with a keyboard for my grandma.  But let’s be done with the rows and rows of computer desktop classrooms.


I am hoping that provocative questions like these are proof enough:


What does this mean for schools and educators?  This means:

  • Different ideas for the budget.
  • Continued training for teachers about how to use these devices.
  • Technology Integration Specialists, instead of classroom technology teachers
  • Allowing students to bring their devices to school
  • Supporting student devices, both physically, through networking and academically, with authentic connections to lessons
  • Everyone needs New ways of thinking.

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Technology Integration: A six-pronged approach


Your school needs technology integration specialists, if it doesn’t already have them.  Gone are the days that tech teaching is left to tech teachers in discreet technology classes.  Everyone, especially teachers, needs to understand how tech is an integral tool to the education process.  They need to understand that technology should be emphasizing, rather than working perpendicular to classroom objectives and projects.  This blog post looks at how technology can and should be implemented by a Technology Integration Specialist.

First, we need to look at whether technology should be used and why, as well as how it should be thought of.


Should technology be used?

Harold Wenglinsky’s study, “Does it Compute: The Relationship between Educational Technology and Student Achievement in Mathematics,” concluded that for 4th and 8th graders technology has “positive benefits” on achievement as measured in NAEP’s mathematics test. But it is critical to note Wenglinsky’s caveat to this conclusion. He argues that not all uses of technology were beneficial. Wenglinksky found using computers to teach low order thinking skills, “…[W]as negatively related to academic achievement….” Put another way, this type of computer use was worse than doing nothing. (

The answer seems to be yes and no.  The Atlantic says these are the Important Skills for the 21st Century Learner and lists them from most important to least important:

  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Questioning
  • Accessing, Analyzing, and Synthesizing Information
  • Communication
  • Innovation, Creativity, Curiosity, Imagination
  • Ethical Decision-Making
  • Agility, Adaptability, Flexibility
  • Global Citizenship, Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction
  • Collaboration
  • Initiative, Self-Direction, Entreneurialism, Resourcefulness
  • Productivity and Accountability
  • Leardership
  • Other
  • Multi-Disciplinary Decision-Makings

Referring back to this list, we, as educators, need to consider how to properly implement technology to cater to the highest skills authentically.

Larry Cuban has been quick to note that his surveys suggest that fewer than 20% of teachers use technology several times a week, and up to half of all teachers didn’t use technology at all. (Cuban, et al., Winter 2001; Cuban, August 1999) Even if teachers used the technology, Cuban concluded, few employed these tools in ways that would improve teaching and learning. “[M]ore often than not,” he noted, “their use sustained rather than altered existing patterns of teaching practice” (Cuban, et al., Winter 2001). (


What does this mean?

I am coming from an IB perspective.  With this guise, the skills critical to ICT are: Investigating, Creating, Communicating, Collaborating, Organizing, and Becoming responsible digital citizens.  For each of the six Programmes of Inquiry (POI) units, they might have this focus.  With that focus, the best tools (See:Edorigami list of Web 2.0 tools, Edorigami ICT Tools & Online Collaborative Tools) can be used to enable the work of students.

In deciding the best tools, the Technology Integration Specialist, along with the classroom teachers needs to discern whether technology should actually be used.  The question: WHY? and TO WHAT END? should be posed alongside any decision to implement the use of technology

Along with deciding the best tools to use with the skills for each POI, the approaches the Technology Integration Specialist takes are as follows:

  • School meeting integration
    • Technology should be showcased at each meeting.  There is so much new hardware, software, online and off that is developed every day, if there isn’t a glimpse of it every week or so, everyone is getting left behind.
    • Tech integration specialist should be doing their homework, finding solutions, collating and deciding which are the best available to showing other educators.
  • In-class push-ins
    • TIS can be Leading – Class is lead by the TIS
    • Supportive – Class is co-hosted by the TIS
    • Reflective – Class is observed and reflected upon by the TIS
    • One-on-one* – Classroom teachers may want prior teaching about technologies in order to present these ideas as their own to their classes
  • Individual meetings with educators
    • The primary focus for teachers follows these guidelines from John D’Arcy of CDNIS
      • “there is no rush”
      • pragmatic and compassionate (have expectations of teachers, they have to be on the journey)
      • curriculum and pedagogy
      • teachers and students first
    • If a school has a PYP/MYP/DP coordinator, TIS should be sitting down with their perspective coordinators and with the classroom teachers.  This should occur before each unit and ideally weekly or bi-weekly to reflect upon best approaches.
  • Organization of technology groups
    • The IBO states this about the the ICT committee: “Different stakeholders in the school community could be members of an ICT committee.  However, it is essential that the pedagogical leaders of the school are members of this committee as they are responsible for the effective management of resources (people, time, equipment and money).”
    • The TIS might also structure mixed high-level/low-level groups with team leaders to help disseminate learning and obtain feedback from staff
  • Online presence
    • To reiterate, backup, and showcase all things tech a TIS should have a major presence online.  This would be through, but is not limited to:
      • Blogs – like this one
      • Websites
      • Prezis
      • Scribd
      • LinkedIn
      • Dropbox
      • Facebook
      • Google+, Docs & Calendars
      • Forums
      • the IBO OCC
      • Voicethread
      • Youtube
      • Netvibes
      • Twitter
  • Professional Development
    • The TIS should search out technology professional development opportunities that are applicable to all stakeholders.  They might post these on a common calendars, email them, or even talk to educators directly.
    • They ensure that development is taking place at the school.  It could be through traditional approaches or online.  Check these out.
    • They do PD themselves and then come back to present the ideas and reflections during meetings

*This idea was presented to me by a classroom teacher as a way I could support them.

As a technology integrator, I made this presentation to a school to describe what a TIS was versus a traditional technology teacher.

Further reading about technology in education can be read through links found here and here


Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Education, Technology


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