One of the presentations that our students and alumni presented for the Midsouth Technology Conference last week was on the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms. This session was for teachers and administrators who currently have or will soon have interactive whiteboard technology in their classrooms. The reports I heard were that the session was very well attended and was a good interaction.  Two current teachers at our University of Memphis Campus School (Logan Prevette and Shelly Burr) and a former educational technology trainer (Dr. Corey Johnson) discussed new whiteboard features, recommended strategies, lesson ideas, and potential barriers to implementing interactive whiteboard technology.

While you might have missed their presentation, here are their Prezi presentations:

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These are my Jumptags for March 17th through April 13th:

These are my Jumptags for February 9th through March 17th:

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.

Guest Blogger PostI am now in my third year as a Middle School teacher. Definitely still a novice with much to learn from my veteran teacher peers. However, some of the best lessons I have learned in my short career as a teacher have not come from other veteran teachers, but rather from my students. Perhaps two of the most important lessons I have learned are the immensity of student differences and the importance of flexibility.


Probably the first thing I picked up from my students is their many differences. Differences in how they speak, act, and of course how they learn. The differences in how students learn are the primary argument of why teachers should differentiate their instruction. The basic definition of differentiated instruction (DI) is when teachers specify their instruction for a particular student or a small group of students depending on their individual learning needs. Despite this fairly universal definition of DI, there are many arguments of how it is best applied and used. In his blog post, “23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction” Mark Pennington discusses some of the different opinions on DI. One of the “myths” of DI that Mr. Pennington mentions is that DI needs to be done through small groups. As Mr. Pennington mentions small groups are important to DI, but it is not the only instructional strategy of DI. I have seen this in my own classroom. Some students really do benefit from small group work, but others do not get as much out of it. I have also witnessed that these differences do not only depend on the individual student, they can differ from day to day. Particularly true with Middle School students, people are always changing and on any given day they may not be as receptive to small group learning situations. The answer that I have found to this phenomenon is to change my instruction up. I believe that some days and for some lessons small group instruction or projects are the way to go, but other days/ lessons should be taught with a more traditional approach or direct teaching method. I have learned from my students that one universal teaching method does not exist and that many different teaching methods should be used.


One of the characteristics that I have come to understand as key to my success as a teacher is flexibility. I am a teacher that loves to have a plan. In fact, I have my entire years worth of lessons decided, tests scheduled, and assignments created before students arrive on the first day of school. Unfortunately, despite my best-laid plans, things change. Unplanned field trips arise, snow days occur (occasionally), and sometimes students need to spend more time on a particularly difficult area. I have to be flexible with my plans to meet the needs of my students. My students have helped me learn that I need to realize that each student has different responsibilities and different things going on in their lives. On several occasions I have had to be flexible with assignment due dates and assigned tests to meet the schedules, family issues, and illnesses of my students. Perhaps Arthus Erea put it best in his blog, “5 Qualities of Good Teachers” (link to when he says, “Learning is not static and you cannot be either”.

Guest blogger: Jeremy Larson is a 7th and 8th grade American History teacher at Grace- St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Memphis, TN. He received his Bachelors degree in Elementary Education (K-8) at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. While at SCSU, Jeremy also received specialties in Instructional Technology and Social Studies Education. Jeremy is currently working towards his Masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Memphis. He is interested in K-12 technology integration and helping school districts bring technology into the classroom.

These are my Jumptags for January 31st through February 9th:

These are my Jumptags for January 24th through January 27th:

Image Courtesy of Technology Review at, now you can. Cloud computing has been a popular resource in the scientific research community because of its tremendous computing power. The amazing realm of cloud computing is now being used widely in the education sector. The reasons for its popularity are the ease of management, availability of consolidated resources and infinite computing power.  Before we go any further about the aspects of cloud computing that make it an invaluable resource for education, let us find out what is cloud computing.  As Christopher Dawson points out, it is “lots of computers somewhere (we don’t actually care where) doing lots of processing to deliver services to our desktops via the Internet”.  It provides computer applications to users without the need for them to purchase, install, or support software on their local computers and/or servers.

There are three key features of cloud computing. They provide Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This implies that not only is the software hosted on a remote computer, but data are stored remotely too. These features indicate large financial benefits to educational institutions apart from the high scalability due to its infinite storage capacity and the ability for users to collaborate and access data and applications anytime, anywhere.

Cloud computing, which is touted as the next big thing in education, already has found many takers in the K-12 education sector as well as in higher education. Thomas Bittman from the  Gartner Group voices the opinion of many technology coordinators for K-12 education when he writes “cloud computing will definitely have an impact on enterprise IT – but the impact on our educational system will be astounding”. Professors at UC Berkley used cloud computing, instead of the Berkley-owned infrastructure, as part of an undergraduate course. They found that the students found it easy and faster to work with. Another promoter of cloud computing, William Hurley at InfoWorld, in an open letter to President Obama, has asked “for a government-funded computing cloud for use by all colleges and universities”. According to him, not only will such a move provide wider access to this technology, but it also will “dramatically improve our collaboration and innovation as a nation.”

As with every technology, this one comes with its bag of issues too. Security and reliability pose a big threat as it lies with the cloud provider. As security guru Bruce Schneier accurately articulates, “Be careful who you trust, be careful what you trust them with, and be careful how much you trust them. Outsourcing is the future of computing. Eventually we’ll get this right, but you don’t want to be a casualty along the way.”

Almost all the computing giants offer cloud computing options for educators. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform, Google’s App Engine, IBM’s Cloud Academy and a host of open source computing tools like Sun Microsystems and Nimbus are few of the many options available. So are you ready to take your teaching to the next level?

Guest Blogger: Prashanthi Selvanarayanan is a former web developer at Arizona State University. After completing her Professional Masters in Computational Biosciences, she was involved in developing online assessment and homework delivery systems for higher education. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Memphis. She plans to be an e-learning and training developer in the corporate sector.

These are my Jumptags for October 21st

These are my Jumptags for September 8th

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  • Project2Manage – Free Project Management – Project2Manage is an Online project management system that allows you to stay up-to-date, on task and connected with your team. We’ve taken the hard work of staying organized and simplified it for you.
  • 15 Essential Web Tools for Students – It's time to head back to school and there are a number of web-based and social tools to help you get through the school year. Here are 15 essential ones.
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  • Kineo – Tip 27: Tear down the visual wallpaper – It is time to tear down the e-learning wallpaper and take heed of some top tips on using graphics for instructional use.
  • 30 Amazing Alphabet Recreations | Tutorial9 – The Alphabet dates back to the Egyptian era and forms the basis of our language, through the years people have experimented and created a wealth of interesting and unique alphabets. This is a collection of some of the best examples.
  • 3 Successful Small Businesses on Social Media – To help you see how social media can work no matter how big or small your business, I’ve found some great case studies of small businesses that get it and are seeing results!