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Survey Happy: Take Another For My Undergrads :)

I know I've been survey happy lately, but I just love the power of Google Forms. I demonstrated this for my undergrad students at National Louis University last night, and I think they began to see the potential of this powerful tool. I asked them to take this anonymous survey and I also sent the link out on Twitter. Any educator is welcome to respond, and hopefully, you'll impart some wisdom on my newbie preservice teachers! The results are available here.

I also conducted another survey this week for a blog post that will appear on a web site supporting an education summit. This web site has not has not launched yet, so I have not made those results public yet. I'll post as soon as I know more!

Technology in Education Program, National Louis University - Walter Westrum

Link: Technology in Education Program, National Louis University.

I don't know what it is about death, but as a friend said recently, it comes in waves. Several colleagues and former students have lost parents, a good friend of my husband's lost his wife to cancer, and a professor from NLU died unexpectedly, all in the last few weeks. I found out about Walter Westrum yesterday and am in shock. He was the advisor to my Technology in Education cluster at National Louis University several years ago, and we kept in sporadic touch and usually ran into each other at the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators. The above link is to some pictures he took there last spring, and I had not seen them before until I googled his name tonight.

I remember Walt as an enthusiastic supporter of everyone in my cluster, even though we were not the easiest bunch to deal with. He was honest, sincere, and hard working. He believed that we would all succeed; I distinctly remembering him saying that we would all go on to make our marks in our profession. I also remember doubting him at the time! I know he had faith in me, even though at the beginning of this current leg of my career, I did not share that same faith in myself.

I also remember laughing hysterically in his class in a particularly cathartic moment. We were all presenting budgets and rationales as a mock exercise for researching equipment, and one of my cluster colleagues, Lori, had a grand total of millions of dollars for her proposed mock budget. We had all had reasonable totals in our projects, and we came to hers and she read this enormous number aloud. It was so funny at the time, and we simply could not stopping laughing. I love those kind of moments where you just can't help yourself. They are few and far between sometimes.

Another thing that stood out to me regarding Walt, was his love of his family. He was particularly proud of his children, and you could tell that he was a good father. I remember a video he showed for our networking class that involved his son whom I vaguely recall did networking stuff in the Navy. Walt was just an all around good guy it seems.

The lesson learned here is that life is fleeting. Let Walt's death also serve as an impetus for us to acknowledge the teachers in our lives. It is important to let the teachers in our pasts that we appreciated their efforts. I've done this for a few people in my life including an English teacher from high school and a tennis coach I had at Beloit, but I never took the opportunity to do so with Walt. I just assumed he'd be around, I suppose. From his death, I am learning to not take people for granted.

NLU Class Visits the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus

Link: Welcome.

Fellow ADE in Crime Bruce Ahlborn and I are currently teaching the first podcasting workshop at National Louis University. We're working with about fifteen graduate students and we decided to take an impromptu field trip up Michigan Avenue on Saturday. Last week, by pure luck, I had noticed that the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus was going to be making a stop at the North Michigan Avenue Apple Store. This bus is a fully equipped mobile recording studio and three staff members conduct classes for kids aboard this amazing vehicle. Essentially, when a class is held, 8 kids from various walks of life take part. No musical background is necessary, but by the end of the 8 hour day, the group has produced an original music piece and accompanying music video and burned it to CD and DVD. There are various video podcasts posted in the iTunes music store related to the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Videos produced by students are also in Apple's Student Gallery.

Also, the bus is involved with battles of the band all over the country and regularly follows a well known musical group on tour. This year it is the Black Eyed Peas who played at the Aragon ballroom in Chicago Saturday night. Apparently, the group's leader, Will I Am, regularly uses the bus to record songs when he is not performing and classes aren't being held in the bus.

Three young sound engineers/musicians live on the bus, take care of day to day operations, and teach the classes. This is a 10 month gig for them and I was suprised that they actually lived on the bus because every inch of space seems devoted to music and video production. I should have taken a picture of where they sleep because I honestly have no idea how the guys fit into these cubby like holes in the wall. Anyway, the two guys that spoke with us were fabulous and so generous with their time. They clearly love what they do and are having the times of their lives.

If only there were more such buses around... this is the only such educational bus in the world. It's sort of like the concept of libraries on wheels. If people can't come to the library, you bring the books to them. I could see mobile computing facilities doing outreach work in innercity neighbhorhoods easily. Digital tools could really empower people to make important changes. This sort of thinking outside the box is really needed because the arts and technology budgets in schools are seen as "extras" and of course, we all know that they are essential to a quality education.

All in all, I had a fabulous time with my students and Bruce on Saturday. I'm looking forward to wrapping up our workshop next weekend!

Apple Store Field Trip

I met my NLU students at Apple's Michigan Avenue store tonight for class. I designed a scavenger hunt for my students and Scott Murphy did a presentation on the iLife suite of software in the theatre.

When I arrived at the store, several students were already there. And, they had figured out how to do video chats already! I had told them on Tuesday that creating a video chat would be one of the requirements of the scavenger hunt. So I was impressed that they had already done this by the time I arrived on the scene. Their enthusiasm got me pumped for the field trip in general!

At the beginning of the theatre presentation, Scott asked our group what their impressions were of Apple. And, the usual comments were discussed... Apple products are more expensive.... not pervasive in the business community... etc. By the end of the presentation, I think the group fully understood about what makes Apple stuff so unique. Scott was a trooper and spend way more time than I expected leading us through iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, and Garageband. My students asked really thoughtful questions, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I think Garageband perhaps drew the most oohs and ahhs from our group.This trip was intended to show my students the power of multimedia, and I think that they got the general idea of how Apple can bring sound, video, and digital photography together seamlessly.

I'd like to know what everyone else thought of the trip. Please post your comments here. Have a great weekend! Here are some pics of our trip: