Educon 2.3 – Foster Change by Leading and Sharing

What has changed in your school or district in the last year? This is the question I mulled over on my ride home from Educon.

There were two sessions that I thought of as I drove. The Same as it Ever Was, but Does it Have to Be with Leo Brehm and Beth Knittle and The Ethical Obligation to Teach, Learn & Share Globally with Dean Shareski and Alec Couros.

Why these sessions?

Well, I’m concerned as to why I’ve been going to Educon for four years, yet I am still hearing all the same concerns from the attendees.

Beth and Leo


If our schools are not doing things correctly, what is it that we want?

We attempted to answer this question in Beth and Leo’s session. They put together a wiki and I’m hoping to see the folks that were there add to it. Here’s what we talked about together:

  • We want learners who can troubleshooting/problem solve
  • We want to focus on thinking skills rather than just skills
  • We want to look at what’s working and clone it rather than work on fixing what’s broken
  • We want self-motivated learners
  • We want the school community to be filled with adult learners (we are all learners)
  • We want to cultivate a lifelong love of learning

Beth recommended viewing  The Tribes We Lead TED Talk by Seth Godin as a resource for inspiration. What he says makes sense to me:

  • You can make change by leading
  • You should connect with people for ideas
  • What we do for a living now is finding something we want to change and assembling a group of people to change it
  • We should organize people who want to talk about something and have the same desires
  • One person can’t do this alone, but together we can get it done. We just need someone to lead us
  • We’re waiting for someone to show us where to go next

What is it that we need?

The group shared examples of what was happening in their schools. Some stories were encouraging and others were what seemed to be a recurring theme of schools in need of help. Here’s what we brainstormed:

  • Learners need to know it’s okay to fail
  • All learners should be empowered in a school
  • Schools should provide/allow for flexible learning environments
  • Learners should be encouraged to be passionate problem solvers
  • We need more time
  • Let’s not focus on the minute details, but work towards a common goal
  • Realize that it may be curriculum redesign that is needed

How are we going to get there?

This brings me back to Alec and Dean’s session as in both our small group and large group discussions, people shared stories.  Is this the solution to our bringing on change? Should we all just talk about what is working and then replicate it? I’m thinking so. What do you think?

I want to listen and soak it up

Beginning today, January 28, 2011, is the 4th annual Educon. This is my all-time favorite conference. It’s a huge reunion of like-minded educators, all gathered in the same place to learn something.

For two years now, I have led sessions with Liz Davis, but this year we made a decision to go to Educon, network, learn and participate in the conversations.

Would you like to participate, but can’t make it to Philly this weekend? Here’s how:

  1. Join the EduCon website and post a short bio and photo
  2. Browse the Detailed Schedule and read about the conversation offerings, sketch out which sessions you would like to view. (all posted times are EST)
  3. Follow the streamed Elluminate sessions by going to the EduCon conversation page and click on the Elluminate link.
  4. Follow the twitter hashtag #educon
  5. Post questions, offer links and resources, from the comfort of your own living room, all throughout the weekend in the forums.

By the way, for those of you not familiar with Educon:

EduCon 2.3 is both a conversation and a conference.
And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

I hope to see you there, whether in-person or virtually.

Google Apps adds the EDU Category to their Marketplace

I was happy to see that today, via the Official Google Enterprise Blog, Google announced a new category in their Marketplace.

Here’s just a few of what is already available in the new EDU category:

  • Haiku: an LMS that allows teachers to create media-rich class websites, give and auto-grade assessments, annotate assignments and interact online with students.
  • Brainpop: an app that offers animated, curriculum-based content that enhances student learning in numerous ways, from illustrating complex concepts to reviewing before a test.
  • DreamBox: a tool that helps students learn math through interactive lessons and gives teachers reporting dashboards to monitor individual student progress.

There are two Google webinars that are coming up soon that you may want to consider attending or plan to view the archive of. They are:

Manage your school in the cloud with the Google Apps Marketplace
Featuring classroom management tools Haiku and Learnboost
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST
Register here (

Help students learn more effectively with the Google Apps Marketplace
Featuring web-based learning tools Grockit, BrainPop, and DreamBox
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
4:00 p.m. PST / 7:00 p.m. EST
Register here (

With over 10 million users in Google Apps Education Edition, Google said this is only the beginning.


I’ve been working with a group of HS teachers that work in a one-computer classroom environment. After introducing them to Edmodo this past October, two of them (a language arts and a history teacher) decided to utilize it. (If you are not familiar with Edmodo, take a look at this video.)

We met again on January 13th and I was so pleased to hear how things have been going.

Both teachers mentioned the benefits of using Edmodo:

  • It’s user friendly
  • Instantaneous
  • There’s a polling option
  • Students can submit assignments
  • It allows for a paperless environment
  • It seems like it accepts most file types
  • The teachers can edit student comments and posts
  • Students have their own accounts
  • Teachers can send alerts to their classes
  • You can connect with other teachers

At this point in time, the history teacher uses Edmodo mostly for course management. Students must submit their assignments through Edmodo in order to receive credit. In the past, the teacher was getting e-mails with attachments from his students. Frequently he would hear excuses about assignments being sent, but not received. Now, since they are all on the same platform, the student can show him when it was sent.

The language arts teacher said that students communicate with him more through Edmodo (virtually) than in class (face-to-face). He requires blog posts from a set of students each week. Since sometimes information from these posts are included on exams, students are required to read them and comment. The language arts teacher felt that time is lost during small group instruction to socializing, so some of these conversations have been moved over to the Edmodo forums.  This leaves the conversations in class more focused and in-depth and there is time to cover more literature and push their critical thinking skills. Specifically, the teacher mentioned that time spent in literature circles was often time lost to socializing. He couldn’t be with each group simultaneously, so it was difficult to moderate the conversations.  With Edmodo, this was no longer an issue.  Now he feels he has a greater presence in the classroom.

We spent some time discussing how the students were able to get all this computer time when each classroom is only equipped with a tablet computer and a wireless projector. It really came down to students using their home computers. Both teachers said that “there isn’t a working printer in the entire town”, so prior to using Edmodo, students would not hand in their homework as they couldn’t print it. Each teacher gives the students plenty of time to complete assignments so that they can make arrangements to use a computer in school or at home. Actually, out of the 120 plus students they have combined, there are two students who don’t have computers at home. Impressively, the majority do have smartphones and with the Apps that Edmodo has for the iPhone and Android, there’s just no excuse.

So, how is Edmodo benefiting the students?

The two teachers felt that:

  • Knowing their audience had grown, students writing was improving
  • Being able to embed videos was encouraging students to look for quality content on YouTube
  • It was a great way for students to communicate in a forum rather than just one-way e-mail with the teacher
  • As an intro to blogging
  • Student responsibility has gone up – everyone is submitting everything on time.
  • Student engagement is up
  • They are learning from each other
  • They are speaking up more in Edmodo than in the classroom
  • There are great teachable moments about what to type that people can see
  • They are practicing writing for purpose and audience. They can use text messaging in the Forums with each other, but if it’s being graded,  it must be grammatically correct.
  • Their grammar is better for a larger audience

Their recommendations for teachers new to Edmodo were:

  • Color code your classes so it’s easy to see which class a student is from
  • The students got comfortable fast. Be prepared to consider removing some threads and allowing the students to start again as they learn proper etiquette.
  • Just start it. It’s worth it.

Upload Videos to Google Docs

I saw yesterday on the Google Docs Blog that you can now upload and view videos in Google Docs. I saw an immediate use for this as so many schools don’t want to upload to Youtube, Teachertube, Vimeo or any of the other video storage and streaming sites. So I gave it a try to see how the video would look and what the privacy and sharing settings would be.

It’s as easy to upload a video file to Google Docs as any other type of file. Actually, if you haven’t been in your Docs account in a while, you’ll get a pop-up (shown here) notifying you of the new feature.

You can upload videos up to 1 GB in size. Please note that the video will not be viewable immediately. I uploaded a  43 mb video and it took less than 5 minutes for Google to convert it. (You will need Flash in order to view it.  (Sorry iPad users.)

Here are the supported file formats listed in the Google Help Forum:

  • WebM files (Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codec)
  • .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files – (h264 and mpeg4 video codecs and AAC audio codec)
  • .AVI (many cameras use this format – typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM)
  • .MPEGPS (MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio)
  • .WMV
  • .FLV (Adobe – FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio)

Either before or after you upload your video, you have the chance to select the Security Settings. You can make the link completely public, completely private, or choose to share it with selected people only. I chose “Anyone with the link” so that you could see how the video would look. (By the way, this is my application video from 12/06 for the Google Teacher Academy.)

I think this is going to be a great alternative for uploading and sharing videos. Give it a try and let me know how you are using it.

2010 in Review

If you blog at as I do, you received a helpful e-mail informing you of some of the stats for your blog from 2010. I found some of this intriguing as I begin planning some topics for 2011. I typically post on timely information and items that are of interest to me, so it surprises me which were the top visited posts and what searches bring people to ThumannResources.

Image Source

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were

  • Google Reader

Some visitors came searching, mostly for

  • itouch
  • children’s internet protection act 2009
  • njecc
  • lisa thumann
  • you get what you get and you don’t get upset

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Who Owns Your Data? September 2010


10 Steps to a Gmail Makeover March 2010


iTouch the Future…I Teach – Music May 2008


What My Droid Does – Part 3 February 2010


Web 2.0 Smackdown at TechForum October 2010

I have not yet decided if I will continue posting about the Droid and I haven’t blogged about the iPod Touch in about 2 years, but the other popular posts were information that I was interested in and therefor wanted to share. My prediction is that I will mainly post about:

  • 1:1 laptop initiatives
  • Steps towards systemic change in schools
  • Google Apps Education Edition and how it improves teaching and learning

Thanks for reading, subscribing and commenting in 2010. I hope to see your voice here in 2011.