Google Slowly taking over my life

Google Slowly taking over my life

    This morning I woke up at 4:30am to call my bank back in America to do a wire transfer for our Winter Trip to Tanzania (Hiking Kilimanjaro, a Safari, and Zanzabar…yeah….we’re stoked!). I decided to use Google Talk via my Gmail account as I have become increasingly frustrated with the quality of Skype calls and I notice the other day my Google Voice account is now accessible here in Thailand. When I called my bank I let them know I was calling from Thailand, the bank assistant on the other end couldn’t get over how clear the call was. “Are you really in Bangkok, cause this is clearer than most calls I get locally.” There was no delay, no feedback….it was a crystal clear fantastic call. Then at 7:30am this morning I had a Google Video Chat with some students in a Plymouth State University class (the same class I use to teach online and is now taught by one of the students I had in the program Kim Tufts). Again perfect audio and perfect video. As I reflect I find that Google is slowly taking over most of my online life. There are already over 1000 people following me on Google+…by far the fastest professional network I’ve grown (more on Google+ changing my network later).  Is this a good thing? I hear people say all the time “I don’t like trusting one company with all my information”. But don’t we do this often? Most of us only have one bank….we trust them with all our financial information. Most of us only have one doctor….we turst them with all our medical records. Most of us have a credit card….we trust them with our credit history. I choose Google because it works and I trust them. Am I a Google fan boy? Yes….I’ll admit it…I love their products and there overall approach to innovation. They excel at “Failing Forward” and they’re willing to fail in the name of progress and innovation…..and that excites me. Here’s a recap of my Google Life: 3 Active Google Apps Accounts: Personal, COETAIL, School Professional Network: Google+ Voice over IP: Google Voice Video Chat: Google Hangout/Gmail Chat Phone: Android HTC Incredible S Do I trust Google with all my information?  Just as much as I trust Apple iTunes with my music, books, and podcasts and Amazon with my online purchase history.  At the end...

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Shifting Our Schools Podcast Season 3

Last week David Carpenter and I kicked off season 3 of the Shifting Our Schools podcast. It’s taken us a while to get this season going and I’m not short on the excuses why, so I won’t even bother getting started. Needless to say we are started and we’re excited to be back for a third season. As usual I can’t keep well enough alone and decided to push the podcast just one step further this year. So now not only can you listen to use live and chat on the website, or download the podcast later via iTunes. This year we’re also going to try to open up the Skype lines to you listeners out there and allow you to Skype in with questions or comments during the show. We’ll see how this goes and hopefully will be able to make it fly this year. We’re live every other Wednesday at 8:00pm Bangkok Time (GMT+7). The best way to keep posted on the show is by following me on Twitter. Each show revolves around an essential question which we try to stay focused on (really we do). I’m excited for our next show and if you are at an IB school or an IB teacher you surely won’t want to miss: Can the IB curriculum be shifted? I have strong feeling frustrations about the IB program as a technology person in my role. We’re excited to have Justin Medved joining us from Canada and it will be a great opportunity to open up the Skype Lines and see what others have to say on the topic. I hope you decide to follow us this year as we have some fun from Bangkok, Thailand to Casablanca, Morroco. SOS Podcast Links: Subscribe to iTunes (Free) Diigo Show link Group Google Calendar of Show Times Blog RSS...

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My Podcast Set-up

I like it when other podcasters share their set up. A thanks to Leo Leporte, one of my favorite tech podcasters….or is that netcaster. I’ve learned a lot about podcasting just listening to the different shows he produces. I wrote this page for the Shifting Our Schools site to share with others the set up I use to stream, record, and converse all at the same time. I thought I’d share it here as well. You can find links to the different equipment I use at my Amazon Store as well. The Set Up: It all starts with the Mic! You’ve gotta have a good mic to feel like you really are producing something of quality. Besides, you want the quality. I use the Samson CO3U USB Mic. I love this thing. Mounted on a shockmount, the sound quality is fantastic and you get little to know vibration noise. Next you need a piece of software to record your podcast into. I’m digging GarageBand on the Mac, but love Audacity (Mac and PC) as well. Both programs are simple enough for you to get started, and both can expand and give you the control you want over your audio. We’ll need a way to get the audio from Skype if you are doing an interview into the audio stream. I try and do things as cheaply as possible. On a PC I use Virtual Audio Cables (free) which will take the sound and pipe it through your sound card so that Audacity can pick it up. On my Mac I’m finding this step to be so much easier. After reading all the reviews I broke down and bought WireTap Anywhere. This program is awesome and worth the $129 price in my opinion. You can watch the video on the site, but it is really just that easy. Tell WireTap that you want the audio from the Samson Mic and from Skype and you want it to be pushed out to GarageBand and the sound card. You can add sources on the fly, and best of all…it just works! The one thing to note is that you will want to start it before you start Firefox for streaming on the web. OK, so now we’ve got the mic, the software to record and the system in place to push all the audio you want through your sound card we’re on...

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Chatting with 4th graders

ISB just launched PantherNet. Our Moodle system that syncs (or is trying to) with PowerSchool. It’s still in Beta but early feedback from teachers: “Where has this been?” That’s a good sign! Yesterday I met with a fourth grade teacher eager to see if PantherNet could fit into her classroom. I haven’t used Moodle much in the elementary but there is only one way to find out if it could be beneficial in the learning process. The only way to do that is find a teacher who is game to give it a go, spend some time with it, and see what happens with the students. I met with the teacher for about 30 minutes yesterday talking about her classroom and finding out what she wanted from the program. It’s not about doing one more thing, it is about replacing something the teacher is already doing and then see if: A) It works for both the teacher and the student.B) See if there is added value in the learning process. After our 30 minute talk the teacher was very excited, asked if I could come back in an hour to give chatting a go with her students. So, we created a simple chat in Moodle to see if there would be any use of it in a 4th grade classroom….a clear and simple experiment. The topic: What are some of your favorite things? We chatted in class for about 30 minutes. It was interesting to watch the students interact in this way. Some would write something and then run over to their friend to see if they saw it. A couple observations: Keeping the chat on topic was difficult. Both the novelty of using chat and the ability to say thing you might not say in class came up. We talked about both issues when we debriefed at the end of the session. Taught students to use @ when responding to someone on a specific topic. They picked it up very quickly. Looking at the image above, students are still trying to use complete sentences and proper grammar when chatting. Is this the correct writing style for a chat? As the student were chatting the teacher and I watched and discussed what we were seeing. My favorite moment came when she turned to me and said, “This is like a new genre. We need to be teaching students how...

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New City, New School, New Computer

Well we made it to Bangkok without much of a fuss. Cats traveled well and we’re slowly settling into our new house in our new city. ISB is about 30 minutes outside of the city center making our view a little different from Shanghai. Shanghai Bangkok The view is not the only thing different. Last night’s low of 81F and today’s high of 90F just about did me in. The wife of course is loving it and we constantly fight over A/Cs being on or off. So today we compromised and bought a fan. Although we have situated our bed so the A/C is blowing directly on me and not on her. 🙂 The new house is bare as we await our shipment from Shanghai to arrive (a 20ft container) full of “beautiful carpets and furniture” (direct quote from wife). It was nice though to turn on my laptop and find out that ISB installed a wireless system in teacher housing over the summer. So every teacher has wireless in their house that runs off of the school’s network. Last night I found myself reading through blogs and e-mails and skipping over links that I knew were blocked…that is blocked in China. It was great when I clicked on an edublogs.org and a wordpress.com link and they both loaded. I have some retraining to do of my clicking fingers. 🙂 Lastly I went to school today and picked up my new school issued computer. Yep, a new Mac Book with 4GB of Ram. The last time I had a Mac was 9 years ago running 8.xx OS. I’ve been secretly wanting a Mac for the past couple of years so I’m looking forward to putting this thing through the test in the next couple of weeks. But first I need help from all you Mac users out there. What free software do I need? My first three are already on: FirefoxSkypeTwhirl (Firefox and Skype came preloaded from the school…we’ll work on Twhirl for next year 😉 ) So I’m busy tonight putting in all my Firefox extentions. The onces I can’t live without. But what I need from the community is the other great stuff that makes a Mac…well a Mac. What I’m looking for in particular at this moment: FTP client (free)Software that allows me to share my desktop via web cam But I’ll take anything that will...

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