From my Inbox.  So many of you touch children and students’ lives, this would be a great project to become involved in:

Dear colleagues,

Our International Outreach Program has been developing a community outreach program since 2006 to educate school children about cells, cancer, and healthy living.  In 2010 we hosted our first eHealth competition challenging students in high schools and universities to create multimedia focused on educating about cancer.  This year we are inviting you and your students to participate in the Global eHealth Challenge!

We are seeking university, high school, middle school, and elementary school students to develop innovative multimedia experiences that educate children about cancer and healthy living for cancer prevention. Students should submit a website, video, podcast, app for mobile device, game, or other multimedia project with a focus on the following topics, Cancer & Tobacco or Cancer & Ultraviolet Rays. Grand Prize is an Apple iPad® and an internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. More information can be found at

Information about our school-based community outreach program, Cure4Kids for Kids, can be found here:

Please share this email and the attached flyer with teachers and students who might be interested in participating in this competition. We look forward to seeing their submissions. If you have any questions about the competition, please contact the eHealth Challenge coordinator at


Aubrey Van Kirk Villalobos, MEd
Coordinator, Cancer Educational Outreach
International Outreach Program
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place, Mail Stop 721
Memphis, TN, USA, 38105-3678
Email: | Tel. 901-595-2415 |Fax 901-595-2099|

From my Inbox today:

The U of M Department of English and the Shelby-Memphis Council of Teachers of English invite the best student writers in the Memphis and Shelby County area in grades 7-12 to participate in WordSmith Writing Olympics 2012 on Feb. 12 in the U of M UC Ballroom at 8:30 a.m. All Memphis area schools are invited to send 2 students per grade.

The annual WordSmith Writing Olympics began more than 30 years ago as a creative way to stress the importance of strong communication skills and to recognize talented young writers in the Memphis area. Registration closes on Jan. 13. For more information, contact Cathy Dice at or 678-4535. Registration materials are available online; check the Facebook page also.

I am coming off of two full days of Google Apps training, so I’m a little tired.  But I am so excited that the University of Memphis Conference on Mobile Teaching and Learning is finally here!

I am really looking forward to speaking with folks from K-12 public and private schools, as well as higher education faculty members from other universities and institutions.  It’s going to be a great day of sharing, teaching, and learning.  Woohoo!  I am pumped.  I’m also really look forward to hearing from some of my other colleagues at other institutions and in other departments speak about how they are considering mobile teaching and learning.

To get these resources out, below is the slidedeck that I am using tomorrow.  Also, here is the link to the resources that I’ll be talking about.  The focus of this presentation is on bringing the device you have, so the tools I’m going to discuss are a little all over the board.  However, I’m also adding some info in about creating ePubs as ebooks, which is new for me.  I’ve been testing this out, and I believe I’m going to use this in one of my graduate courses that starts this week.

[slideshare id=9740221&doc=bring-your-own-device-111017231041-phpapp01]

What’s the harm? Is there really any harm in continuing to emphasize basic reading and math skills? We know the statistics for struggling readers, who are below grade level, need help.  We also know that reading skills are critical predictors of successes with social studies and science.  This type of curriculum was successful for my generation and my parents’ generation.  Are basic skills still the standard when the vocations of our future workforce do not exist yet?

Is there really any harm in ignoring technology and other digital tools in our school classrooms? These two articles, one by Dr. Scott McLeod who has an extensive following on his blog and through Twitter and the other by Virginia Heffernan who writes for the New York Times, offer some perspectives on the consequences for our schools and governments when choosing to use technology as test preparation tools and devaluing problem solving tools.

“So What if Schools Don’t Prepare Kids for the 21st Century?” by Dr. Scott McLeod on May 21, 2008.

“Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade” by Virginia Heffernan on August 7, 2011.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Which points resonate or “ring true” to you? Which points are off the mark?

Next week, I begin teaching a 7-week online course on integrating the Internet into teaching and learning.  This is one of four courses required for a graduate certificate for K-12 instructional computing applications.  Like most faculty members, I am constantly evolving my projects.  In this one, I am upgrading the electronic portfolio for this course, and I thought I would share this.

The theoretical framework for the portfolios is based in Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) framework for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK). I’ve done this in the past, but I haven’t felt a very strong connection from the students with the TPACK framework.  So, I’m trying to be more obvious and more intentional.  I am also relying heavily on Helen Barret’s work with electronic portfolios in order to organize the artifacts for the portfolio, as well as to engage the teachers and library media specialists in reflection of practice.  Lastly, I am borrowing from Alex Ambrose’s Googlios site in order to provide a tool that integrates easily with other tools, such as Google Apps.

In the past, I have allowed students to choose from a variety of tools, such as Weebly, PBWorks, Edublogs, Wikispaces, etc., in order to build their portfolios.  However, as we progressed through the semester, I inevitably found that some tools did not play well with others.  Moreover, some tools caused problems copy-and-pasting from desktop applications, such as Microsoft Word, into the web-based tool.  (Yes, I am aware that this is actually Microsoft’s problem of embedding the CSS into the copy-paste command.)

Image representing Weebly as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

For example, I {heart} Weebly for its simplicity and beautiful interface.  I’m serious.  One of the best interfaces ever.  But copy-pasting from Word into Weebly is aweful.  You just can’t get rid of the CSS that gets copied into Weebly. (I am aware that you can copy and paste into a text editor first, then copy-paste into Weebly, but I believe this is too much to expect from teachers and students.)

So, I decided that as I pushed graduate students to move to more web-based tools, such as Google Docs word processing documents and presentations, this would work well with the integration into Google Sites … and I hoping that this will prevent some frustration by the students (and me) in the future.

If you have experiences with using Google Sites, particularly things to watch out for, let me know.  I’m also really interested in embedding other media easily into Google Sites. So, if you’ve done that with some success (or frustration), I’d like to know that as well.


Image from http://tpack.orgThroughout this course and for our professional development in this course, we will be following Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) framework for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) for developing teachers and library media specialists as technology integrators.

We will be considering technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge. In addition, we will increase our knowledge in the areas where these knowledges overlap in educational contents. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon you to consider a variety of different tools throughout this course and how they correlate with each of these areas. I have attempted to create activities and experiences that will address the various knowledges in this model.

To begin this work, you will create a matrix that identifies the different projects in this course along with the different TPACK knowledges and tools available to you. Here’s an example based on Helen Barrett’s work. This will be an overarching framework for your electronic portfolio in this course. You will not have the links and “Xs” yet on your matrix. Instead, as you work on a project this semester, consider new tools each time that might be appropriate for you to try. You will want to have a diverse set of experiences throughout the course, where you have explored different tools.

Image from

Initial Requirements

The  initial electronic portfolio must have the following requirements:

  1. A home page with (a) an appropriate title for your portfolio site and (b) a letter to the reader that provides and explanation of the overall goals of the portfolio. Here is an example from Helen Barrett’s site.
  2. A biography page with (a) an appropropriate photo of yourself, (b) a description of your background and (c) a description of your experience integrating technology with one or two examples.
  3. A matrix page (porfolio at a glance) of your artifacts, tools, and experiences. This page should visually explain how you have addressed the TPACK competencies over the course of our projects. Note, however, this page is a placeholder for now. As you complete projects in this course, you will add links to the projects. You will not have the links and “Xs” yet.
  4. A TPACK page with (a) a short summary of TPACK with a reference in APA 5th or 6th and (b) a description and link of how TPACK relates to your matrix.
  5. A references/acknowledgments page, which will only include your TPACK reference right now. This is also a placeholder for the future.
  6. You may add other graphics and images; however, they are not required at this time.

This is the initial structure for your portfolio. As you progress through the semester, you may want to organize your portfolio differently, and that’s okay. While I usually do not provide examples of projects (because I do not want you to strictly replicate them), I have created a sample site with the pieces described in the “Initial Requirements” in order for you to a model. I expect that your portfolio site will evolve over the semester, and that’s okay. So, do not feel that you have to organize, title, or layout your portfolio site exactly like mine.

Final Requirements

Your final electronic portfolio must have the following requirements:

  1. Each of the requirements listed in “Initial Requirements.”
  2. Entries for each of your projects in this course. Each entry should have the following:
    1. a title
    2. a link to your artifact
    3. a brief description of the artifact including the context for which this artifact was created
    4. a brief description of how this artifact reflects or relates to TPACK
    5. a description of “What does this artifact demonstrate about what I have learned?” (If you used a specific tool, such as a blog, wiki, Weebly, Edublog, PBWorks, etc., then be sure to include that and a description about the tool, why you chose it, how it turned out, what you learned using it.)
    6. a description about “What direction do I want to take in the future?” relating this to what you’ve learned from creating this artifact? and “What more do I need to learn related to this artifact?”.
    7. I recommend placing these as subpages to your Matrix page.
  3. Graphics, images, or screen captures where appropriate.
  4. Reference citations (in APA 5th or 6th style) and acknowledgements where appropriate, such as in reflections and project descriptions.
  5. A reference list in APA 5th or 6th style. References should be impeccably formatted.

Using Google Sites for the Electronic Portfolio


Image representing Google Sites as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

We will be using Google Sites to create your electronic portfolio. Google Sites is very easy to learn. You will probably still have to use the help/support section in order to accomplish your tasks. An important part of our course is experimenting with different tools and determining their utility, as well as learning about resources that are available to us when we begin to use a new tool.


You will need a Google account to create your portfolio. If you use gMail or you already have an iGoogle Account or Google Docs account, then you’re set. If not, then you’ll need to create a Google account. You can create a new Google Account at this link.

To help you get going with creating your electronic portfolio in Google Sites , here are a few videos that will help:

  1. How to set up your Google Sites Portfolio (Googlios)
  2. How to Set up your Googlio – Part 2
  3. How to Set up your Googlio – Part 3

In video #1 above, Alex Ambrose walks you through creating your Google Site portfolio. Here are a few tips to help you get started with this process:

  1. Create/sign in to your Google account.
  2. Ignore the part about signing in through your school. You can just sign in with your Google Account.
  3. Choose the “Blank template” as the template to use. (There is a classroom template, but do not choose this one.)
  4. Choose an appropriate professional name for your site.
  5. When putting in the web addres (URL), be sure to choose an appropriate address.
  6. Choose a fun theme you like. You can change this later, too.
  7. Under the “More options” arrow, be sure to complete the “Site description” information.
  8. Under the “More options” arrow, choose “Everyone in the world” as the “Share with” setting. This is so Dr. Grant and your classmates can see all of your cool stuff.

In my email today, I received this notice from a friend of mine about a call for book chapters that his colleagues were editing.  This sounds like an interesting topic and an opportunity for publishing student research in teacher education.  Here’s an excerpt from the call:

Over the past decade, teacher candidates have used the World Wide Web as a critical tool in their teaching and learning experiences. National efforts have encouraged technology integration in teacher preparation and raised expectations for frequent and successful applications with K-12 learners.  As a consequence, higher education has been providing candidates with more online educational opportunities. While online learning has become pervasive in many fields in higher education, it has been somewhat slow to catch on in teacher education, resulting in fewer opportunities for technology-mediated learning experiences in K-12 classrooms. However, for a variety of reasons (e.g., technological advances, budgeting concerns, technological expectations of candidates), teacher education programs are increasingly implementing online components. While this trend is growing, little research has empirically explored the effectiveness of online education in teacher preparation.

Objective of the Book

It is important to understand the theoretical, pedagogical, technological, financial, and logistical issues, as well as management approaches, instructional delivery options, and policy considerations needed to create quality online teacher education programs. The purpose of this book is to present information about current online practices and research in teacher education programs, while also presenting opportunities, methods, and issues involved with implementing these online and technologically innovative opportunities in teacher preparation. A final objective of this book is to present empirical evidence of teacher candidate learning and assessment in the context of various online aspects of teacher licensure.

For more information, use this link for the page for the complete call for chapters.

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

This morning I was reading Tom Barrett’s blog over at  He recounts a story about Creative Commons licensing that went terribly awry.  Tom is a former classroom teacher and educational technology evangelist.  In fact, he and his colleagues originated a series of Google Docs presentations that are know world wide for ideas to use some technology in the classroom.  For example, I often reference the “40 Ways to Use QR Codes in a Classroom” when discussing mobile teaching and learning. While Tom and a colleague gets the work going, teachers from around the world add to the presentation with new slides. For example, when I first became aware of the “QR Code” presentation it was at 26 ways, now it’s up to 40.

All of the “Ways” presentations are licensed through Creative Commons with attribution, share-alike, and non-commercial as the restraints.  Creative Commons in its genius allows authors of original works to allow others to use their works when the restraints are adhered to.  Specifically, this means that all uses of the “Ways” presentation are available for use when the author is noted, when the use is shared with the same restraints, and when the presentation is used for non-commercial means.  While it appears that Creative Commons allows “free” content, this is a bit of a misnomer.  Instead, Creative Commons allows royalty-free use of works.  So, breaking the licensing negates the licensing altogether for the user.

Back to the problem at hand

In Tom’s blog, he relates how a company used one of the “Ways” presentations — one on iPads — in a sales presentation.  Also, from the photo Tom has on his blog (and as he describes), the authors of the individual slides were removed and the company logo was added.  All very poor judgements.

Copyright infringement and plagiarism are synonymous. This is completely evident here. This is a great lesson for students. Referencing and citations are important. As more and more original works move to digital production and as more and more works are being self published, it is incumbent upon us as professionals to respect the original works, respect the authors, and respect the licensing. Using Creative Commons licensing allows us as authors of original works to go ahead and allow others to use our works without them having to ask.  You still have to include the referencing (i.e., attribution) if that is a restraint on the license, though.

There could be a sticking point. There is another restraint that can be added to licenses that says no derivatives can be made of the original work. While the “Ways” presentations do not have this as a restraint and this may have been more stringent, I believe the intent of the license was certainly violated.  The intent of the “Ways” presentations is certainly sharing, but the intent is also to empower classroom teachers with tools and resources that improve teaching and learning royalty free. When anyone hijacks your ideas and promotes them as his own, then copyright infringement and plagiarism have occurred.

Posterous logoI love Posterous. It’s dead simple sharing. I used to say dead simple blogging, but it’s more about sharing than it is about blogging.

But Posterous is designed to only work with only one cellphone number, which just doesn’t work in a classroom that you’re trying to take advantage of students’ mobile devices like cellphones, smartphones, iPhones, etc. I wanted to offer a method to capture student responses or student artifacts through Posterous.

Particularly with younger students (i.e., elementary & middle schools), I’m beginning to be convinced that students are more likely to have a cellphone than have an email address. So, I started trying to figure out a way to overcome Posterous limit on a single mobile number. In fact, I want students to be able to contribute to a Posterous site without having to collect their email addresses.  So with some testing this is what I (and a number of my graduate students in IDT came up with).

The Process

With some testing, I was able to connect Google Voice up to Posterous.  The process for posting is this:

  1. Google Voice is forwarded to
  2. Gmail is forwarded to
  3. Posterous

This, however, is not the order in which it should be set up.  Instead, follow this order.

  1. Gmail is first. I created a Gmail account specifically for Posterous.
  2. In Posterous, use your gmail address as the primary address for log in.
  3. In Posterous, I set the Settings to “Anyone can Post”.
  4. Then in back Gmail, set up mail forwarding to your Posterous email address, for example (replace yourposteroussite with your Posterous site, for example  Gmail will send a confirmation code in an email to Posterous.
  5. In Posterous, check to see if the post was received. You only want the confirmation code right now.
  6. Enter the confirmation code into Gmail. This should set up the forwarding to Posterous.
  7. Now, you can set up Google Voice by picking your number and doing the phone call verification.
  8. In the Google Voice Settings, under “Voicemail & Text,” choose to forward text messages to my email (which should be your gmail address).
  9. That should do it.  You can try sending a text or an email.  The emails should be posted directly into Posterous.  Texts will have to be approved inside Posterous.  Note, gmail does not support MMS.

This set up should allow your students to post to your Posterous site in one of three ways:

  1. SMS with text only to your Google Voice number.
  2. MMS any media with email to
  3. Email any files (e.g., .docx, .png, .mp3, etc.) to

A couple of recommendations …

  1. I do not recommend leaving Posterous’ setting to “Anyone can post. I will moderate.” Posterous’ strongest filtering for spam and authentication is through “Only contributors can post.” where Posterous authenticates the email addresses.
  2. I recommend setting Posterous to “Anyone can post. I will moderate.” for a short period time, such as during class or overnight while students are doing a project or activity.
  3. Don’t freely share the Google Voice number. It could set you up for a spam attack.


Consider this video: “A Vision of Students Today.” While this is indicative of college students, what does this mean for learners in your context?

In addition, the Pew Research Center recently reported:

Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends, with cell calling a close second. Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, up from 45% in 2004. Those phones have become indispensable tools in teen communication patterns …. Fully two-thirds of teen texters say they are more likely to use their cell phones to text their friends than talk to them to them by cell phone (“The mobile phone has become the favored communication hub for the majority of American teens.” section; para. 1-3)

How do we adapt instruction based on this message?  Should we adapt instruction at all based on this message?

Guest Blogger PostOn March 9, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton announced via Twitter that Memphis was filing an application for Google Fiber for Communities.  This initial tweet was followed with a post on the mayor’s blog From the Mayor’s Desk. In his blog post, Wharton asks you to “Imagine a promising inner-city 7th-grader collaborating with classmates around the world while watching a live university lecture.” Wharton is asking his readers to imagine e-learning in our K-12 classrooms. This call to imagine e-learning in Memphis classrooms comes less than a week after the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of their National Educational Technology Plan 2010 titled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology“. This plan calls for readers to embrace the use of e-learning as the catalyst that will propel our schools through the 21st century. With this political focus being put on e-learning, let’s explore how this will look in the K-12 classroom. First we will define e-learning, next we will look at a few of its benefits, then we will note a few barriers to its implementation.

E-learning Defined

From the local to the national level, there is a focus on e-learning in K-12 education. E-learning is the promotion of learning through the delivery of instruction via a computer or the Web (Clark & Mayer, 2003; Mayer, 2003). But what does this really look like? How will this change K-12 education? Perhaps it is easier to start by noting what it doesn’t look like. Embracing e-learning does not equate to a rejection of the formal classroom setting. The computer is only one mode of delivery for instruction. It is not necessarily the best mode for a given situation. While in some circumstances it is, there are times when teachers, peers, or other media are more appropriate for delivery of instruction (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). It also should be noted that e-learning is not about the technology, it is about the learning. Kleiman (2000) addresses myths associated with using technology in the K-12 classroom. He states in his article, “the value of a computer, like that of any tool, depends upon what purposes it serves and how well it is used” (p. 3).

Benefits of E-learning

If the technology is just a tool and learning can take place without the technology, then why such a push for e-learning in the schools? The Office of Educational Technology (2010) posits, “Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, content, and resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways” (p. v). So this is the picture we should envision when imagining e-learning in our classrooms: opportunities that are “limitless, borderless, and instantaneous (p. vi).

Creating these opportunities can happen in several ways. Embracing e-learning can include the adoption of virtual schools or virtual courses, ubiquitous computing, and using e-learning in the classroom to support the curriculum. Although some virtual schools have had great success (Florida Virtual School, Virtual High School); incorporating e-learning does not mean that brick-and-mortar schools will go away. E-learning can offer many benefits to students who attend traditional schools. These benefits include taking a course online that the school cannot afford to offer, catching up on lost credits, and taking classes with students from across the city or world. E-learning can also be used in the classroom to enhance the curriculum. This may include a virtual field trip or the modeling of a science experiment.

Barriers to E-learning

It is obvious that e-learning has benefits. There is often funding available through organizations and grants to implement e-learning in schools. So why aren’t more schools incorporating e-learning? Kleiman (2004) suggests two reasons: teachers are unprepared and technology support staff are lacking. Toby Philpott has created a Mindomo concept map outlining the barriers he sees to implementing e-learning. These barriers include motivation, literacy, cultural differences, accessibility, economics, and freedom of information. So, before we can see our imagined 7th grader collaborating with classmates around the world, we have some work to do.

With the push for e-learning and a broadband infrastructure coming from the US Department of Education and the prospect of Google Fiber coming to Memphis, I would like to start a conversation on how we see e-learning changing K-12 education. What do you believe the impact will be? What are obstacles to its successful implementation?


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2003). E-learning and the science of instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kleiman, G. M. (2000). Myths and realities about technology in K-12 schools. In the Harvard Education Letter report, The digital classroom: How technology is changing the way we teach and learn. Retrieved March 18, 2010 from

Kleiman, G.M. (2004). Myths and realities about technology in k-12 schools: Five years later. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(2), 248-253.

Mayer, R. E. (2003). Elements of a science of e-learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 29(3), 297-313.

Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.  Available at

Guest Blogger: Carmen Weaver is the project manager for the TLINC grant at the University of Memphis. She also teaches technology integration to undergraduate education majors at the University. Carmen has a background in Computer Information Systems as well as Secondary Education. She is a doctoral student in Instructional Design and Technology.