Free StuffTwo quick great websites I came across today that deserve more than a tweet. 

Jewel Beat: Check it out…some great sounds, songs, and effects. All royalty free and all they ask is you link back to their website. Great resource for student videos, podcasts, and use in projects.

EmbedPlus: Take YouTube videos to the next level. Just copy and paste the URL of any YouTube video and walk through the steps. You can set times in the video to skip to, you can slow the video down, and rewind. Some pretty cool extra features….and all for free. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Well….maybe not yet, but in the coming year if you are a private or international school you better be monitoring and using these new social tools to engage new students and families.

A Bloomberg report came out earlier this week titled: One Bad Twitter ‘Tweet’ Can Cost 30 Customers, Survey Shows.

A negative review or comment on the Twitter, Facebook or Youtube Web sites can lose companies as many as 30 customers, according to a survey by Convergys Corp.

Word of Mouth (WOM) is enigmatic - fairly straightforward and simple to understand yet elusive and difficult to engage, spread and sustain. Flickr ID: Intersection Consulting
Word of Mouth (WOM) is enigmatic - fairly straightforward and simple to understand yet elusive and difficult to engage, spread and sustain. Flickr ID: Intersection Consulting

Now…that’s the business world and if you work in a public school this might not affect you, unless you’re in a district that allows student choice…then it might be an issue.

But if you are a private school competing with other private schools this is an article that should have you thinking!

A customer review on one of the sites reaches an average audience of 45 people, two-thirds of whom would avoid or completely stop doing business with a company they heard bad things about, Convergys said, citing its own survey.

So let’s take an international school in, I don’t know, say Bangkok, Thailand. You start where most do at Google and do a quick search for Bangkok International Schools. Which returns you 10 results. You then click on the link that Google gives you that says “Local business results for International schools near Bangkok, Thailand” and you’re given a different list with addresses on Google Maps (Here’s the first issue…I know there are at least 50 international schools in Bangkok and only 10 show up on this list. Strike 1 for some schools).

There are no ratings, no comments, not much to go on here except links to the schools websites (missed opportunity not having comments or a rating on your Google Search results). Of course every school website looks great and can give you a broad overview of what the school is about. But as a parent, or a new student….you want more. You want to know what that schools like. So you head to YouTube, where a quick search for Bangkok International Schools, gives you a list of  5 star rated videos to watch.

One video I watch has the following comment:

Oh how I hate this school! == They’re just persauding people its not REAL!!!!

and it was left a month ago, I click on the user to find out that this is the only comment this user has made. In fact it looks like this person made the YouTube account just to leave the comment. Now…I start to worry about this school (strike 2!).

Social media is changing the way organizations communicate with their audiences. Flickr ID: Intersection Consulting
Social media is changing the way organizations communicate with their audiences. Flickr ID: Intersection Consulting

I click on another 5 star rated video that has been viewed over 1,000 times. The video is a pretty cool production by students at the school. You can watch it for yourself here. Not only that, but the comments are pretty good as well. You can tell that many were written by what I can assume to be students at the school. Now I’m liking this, students being creative and I have just narrowed down my search for a school.

Of course I’d then head to Facebook and do the same search and see what I find there, continuing to narrow down my search for international schools in Bangkok until I find what I feel is a good fit for me as a student, or for my son or daughter if I’m a parent.

Here’s what private schools and international schools who are in a competitive environment need to understand. Parents and students will come to your school website for an overview, but they are going to be influenced by what they find in social spaces as well. When I can talk directly to students at a school via Facebook, or watch a production on YouTube and read comments, that is going to play into my decision…and any administrator or school that doesn’t think it will….will find themselves, in short time, loosing students.

Take control of your online profile or someone else will!

Last week the Ed Tech team here at my school held a 3 hour social networking workshop for parents. The workshop was requested by parents after we made a brief presentation to the school board back in November.

Before we began we took a quick poll of the 20 parents (all mothers):

  • Non had a Facebook account but a couple of them had heard about it.
  • Non had been on YouTube but they all had heard about it.
  • What did they want to know: How to see what their kids were doing on the computer without them knowing about it.

In the 3 hours we covered the following:

  • 20 minutes on introductions and Inside ISB our new educational portal
  • 20 minutes on PantherNet (Moodle) our walled garden for learning
  • 20 minute presentation on why students are so connected (this year’s seniors were born the same year the Internet was invented…they will never know a time without the Internet)
  • 20 minutes on using YouTube as a life lone learning tool (parents searched for ‘how to’ videos on things they were interested in).
  • 20 minutes on Internet Safety
  • 20 minutes on web based library resources
  • 20 minutes on Facebook
  • 20 minutes on Google Search Skills
  • 20 minutes on breaks, Q&A

It was an enlightening three hours for both sides I think. I didn’t realize how little our parents knew. At one point we stopped to explain tabbed browsing and the back button.

I’ve talked about this before, that for the first time in the history of education we not only have to spend time on the students in our charge, but on re-educating our community as well on what it means to learn in today’s world.

Parents were amazed with what they could find on YouTube. One mom improved her golf swing, while another looked up recipes for dinner.

What I took away from the three hours and what has me the most worried is, that it seems that up until now these parents had taken an “Ignorance is Bliss” approach to technology, and rather than learning the tools what they really wanted was to find a way to spy on their kids.

Of course this is a similar approach many schools take….if we just ignore the changes happening then maybe they will go away. The problem is the Internet and all of its content is not going anywhere anytime soon. Worse yet, by taking this approach both in the home and in our schools, the gap between what the students know and what the adults know continues to widen.

The 20 parents that showed up obviously want to learn, think it is important and are hungry to learn more. How many parents at your school would come to a three hour workshop on social networking? 20 is a start…but we have a long way to go in re-educating our communities.

The best advice I ever give to parents is one of conversation. On more than one occasion parents have asked me where should they start. My answer is always the same. Start with your own children. Grab a pen and piece of paper and really care about these spaces. Have them walk you through their Facebook account. Try and learn and understand what they do there. If they won’t let you see their account, then you have an issue. Facebook is not a private space. If they are willing to share that information with their friends, they should be willing to share it with you. Have a conversation about what you see. See a picture that upsets you? Talk about it in an adult fashion. Ask the questions:

  • What do you think this pictures says about you?
  • Do you know all (number of friends) of your ‘friends?
  • Can you trust everyone on your ‘friends’ list not to download that picture?
  • What does that update say about you as a person?
  • Is that who you want to be known as?

These are just a couple questions that parents can use when starting those conversations with their children…again be open and listen to their responses. Even better advice….have your child help you set up your own Facebook account. This has been the most powerful moment for many parents I have talked to.

Limiting access to the computer is also not a bad thing (See Will Richardson). We need to remember that students see the computer as a ‘social gateway‘. The same rules could easily apply that have always applied about visiting or chatting with friends. The conversations remain the same, just the context changes.

Mom: “You can go play with your friends, but be home in an hour.”

which is what my mom use to say….today:

Mom: “You can go on Facebook, but you need to be back here in an hour.”

It’s the same message.

Dad: “Yes, you can go to the store with your friends, just know that dinner will be served at 7 and you are expected to be here.”

which is what my dad use to say….today:

Dad: “Yes, you can go on the Internet, just know that dinner will be served at 7 and you are expected to be here…and disconnected.”

The conversations haven’t changed…or at least haven’t changed that much, we just need to update our vocabulary and understand these social spaces are the new ‘hang outs’ for students.

What is even more important I think are the after conversations….the conversations that allow both you and your child to debrief about their day. My mom use to always ask me how my friends were doing….in fact she still does. 🙂

(After time on the computer)

Mom: “How are your friends doing?”

Son: “OK”

Mom: “What is John up to?”

Son: “Not much, his mom is away again so he and his dad are going out for dinner.”

Mom:  “Oh, how about Susie?”

Son: “She updated her status from downtown somewhere….not sure where but I’m sure she’s with Chad.”

Mom: “With Chad? Are they a…..”

Son: “Yeah, happened yesterday at school….”

Kids want to talk about their friends….we just need to ask. This is the time of their life to be soical and this generation has more ways to be connected socially than any generation before it. But they still want to know we care, we just need to update our conversations…but the conversations are the same.

What I love about kids is that kids are kids. The language might have changed, the conversations might be different, but in the end they just want someone to care about them. They want to know you care enough to ask the questions, to get to know their wired world, and to be facinated by it, not scared by it.

Strike up a conversation with a kid today, learn about their world….they are the most facinating of human beings. 🙂

(Full Disclosure: I do not have kids of my own)

It’s the day before Spring Break and so it’s relaxed here in the computer lab today. The student’s spent the first half of the period reading and commenting on student blogs from around the world. The second half I’ve allowed them ‘free time’ to explore and do a little research.

– A student found this video which is now slowly working it’s way around the room. (Could this be used in Science?)

– 3 girls are discussing the layout of their blog

– 1 boy is playing a flash game

– 2 boys are talking, and trying to figure out how to beat a different flash game

– 3 girls and a boy huddled around one computer watching a YouTube video.

– 1 student writing on his blog

– 3 students watching a “How To” soccer video on YouTube

– 1 student reading a discussion board on cheats for a video game.

– 2 students playing with Google Earth

It’s interesting to take a step back and just observer what our students would choose to do if they were just given time. If you reread the above again while thinking of learning, are these students engaged? I would argue most of them are, they are learning on their own. It might not be what we consider worthy of time in school, but at the end of the day they are learning. Reading how to beat a game, having a conversation about a video, or watching and learning how to do the perfect header in soccer. One student is watching a music video and actually sitting in his chair trying to learn the dance steps. There is learning happening, it’s just not learning that we value, that fits nicely into a standard…but it’s there.


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On my posting the other day about our school setting up a YouTube account Jeff Dungan left the following comment:

…any tips you can give me to take to my administration/board since they are not receptive to the idea of allowing this to be unblocked/used at our school? Anything that you can offer in terms of support for our argument why we should be able to access it aside from the obvious would be fantastic.

Getting through the Adminwall is a lot harder then through a firewall, but not impossible. How do you get Admin to buy in, to recognize the opportunity these tools hold for learning. I’m not sure, but here’s the approach that has worked for me time and time again.

1. Work your #*& off
2. Praise loudly and reprimand quietly
3. Fill their e-mail box with examples educational or funny of things you find on YouTube

I knew I had them when our V.P. invited me into his office one day as I was walking by to show me a video he found tear jerking funny. His buddy had sent him the link and he was crying laughing at the video. At that moment I knew I had them hooked.

There really is no secret here. Everyday I tell teachers who I’m helping that my job is to work myself out of a job and that’s exactly how I feel. I can not wait for the day that education does not need a technology specialist in the building because technology just is. Until then I have a job, but I strive to help teachers learn new skills, fix their own computers and think outside the box (said that 10 times today) when it comes to teaching.

I’ve had some teachers say to me that I work to hard and their is no way they would ever stay up to 1am making sure a podcast was posted, or up until 2am upgrading the Moodle site. That I think is the difference. The administration knows how hard I work for them and our students, and the passion I have for technology and the amazing things it can do comes through in every conversation I have. Some people call it tooting their own horn, I call it letting people know how much I believe these tools can will are changing education. Yes I’m insane, I love this stuff and I work way to hard to do it, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every time a teacher does something with technology I send e-mails like they won a gold metal. Admin gets e-mails, teaching partners get e-mails, and other teachers who I think might benefit from the e-mail. I alway include my thoughts, my kudos, and how this truly impacts learning in the e-mail. The more you can play it up the more others want to be in the e-mail, want their name mentioned and see how hard you are willing to work to help them ‘get it’.

From the start of this year every time someone put a video on YouTube that was educational and got pasted around the blogosphere I made sure it made it into the admin’s e-mail box talking about the impact of this social-network. First semester I uploaded the student made digital stories to my personal account (without admin permission) and waited for there to be something to share. The first was the history of IBM video where someone who works at IBM commented on the student’s video. Then the history of Firefox video which has been viewed over 3,000 times. Again I sold it to the admin, I shared with them the K12 group set up on YouTube and encouraged them to browse some of the great videos there.

So this semester when the timing was right I walked into their office and said “I’m going to set up a YouTube account for our school.” To which they replied “OK”.

I will say that I do have some amazing administrators. Andy Torris my current principal and I have had many conversations around these tools and how they can be used in school. We’ve worked together now for 5 years so we’ve built that trust that if I say something will work, I get more OKs then ‘whys’ and ‘what about…’. It’s a trust issue. Once you have their trust then you can have the tools. I’m lucky, I know, from my principal clear up to my Superintendent. They (I think) trust me and know that at the root of who I am, I am an educator and have the best intentions of our students in mind. I’m not perfect by any means, and have ran into my fair share of Adminwalls, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing. Seriously, there are times I send e-mails wondering if I’m going to be sent a pink slip. We’ve got to keep pushing, keep expanding educators horizons and not settle for where we are…the world is changing too fast for that.

[tags]youtube, 21st Century Learning, adminwall[/tags]

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Looking for a little help. We’re trying to embed YouTube videos on teentek.com. Anyone know how to do this?  Thought is was as easy as copy and pasting the code, but that doesn’t seem to be working. The best part is the students just keep saying:

“It works that way on xanga.com, you just Ctrl C, Ctrl V the code and it works.”

I’ve looked all over the web it looks like it should just work. The administrator downloaded a video module and installed it, but there aren’t any setting that he can find that explains how to use it.

Any help appreciated!


[tags]youtube, teentek[/tags]

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When we talk about content on the web never dieing, here is a perfect example. One of my student’s videos on Firefox that was made back in September has become pretty popular of late. In the last two weeks we’ve seen the views go from 200 to 1,095. So far the commenters have be positive about the video giving her a 4 start rating. There’s a good lesson here about what you put on the web stays on the web, even though you might move on.


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