Navigate 1 – Commercial vs. Open Source Virtual Classrooms

The following blog is an assignment for my EOTC Navigate class.

The nice thing about this unit so far is I began my career working in distance education.  I was working at the University of Mississippi.  My department was responsible for Project LEAP.  Project LEAP was a distance education program.  We broadcast  adult literacy programing to locations across the state and country.  At the time we won awards for the program.   The program was broadcast via satellite to the different locations.  The students would go to the locations in each county to watch the class with other students.  The teachers would teach the class for approximately 30 minutes.  Then the students could call in on a telephone and we would connect them to the teacher live on air.  The students would answer questions and work out problems with the teachers.

My second experience in distance education was a college class in a distance education room.  I was in charge of being the site facilitator.  There were students in 3-4 different locations and the teacher was over 300 miles away.  Each location had cameras and microphones.  Each room had 2 monitors and a document camera.  The teacher was able to ask questions and the student were able to answer the questions live.

Both experiences were both synchronous because even though the class was being taught at a distance.  The students  had to attend class at a certain time and location to participate.

My next experience was an online class that I was taking to get my administration endorsement.  This class was both synchronous and asynchronous.  We had online assignments and weekly online meetings.

In a school setting I would be hesitant to use open source software except in minor situations.  When using technology in the classroom, there is always a chance of failure.  If a school is using something on a regular basis, they need be able to call for help.  Open source software may not offer that option and might depend on the teacher to find out the answers.  Teacher need to have 95% up time with technology.

 If a teacher is using a open source solution on an occasional basis it could be used to get a specific job done.   I was using a website for instruction at  a new school.  Since it was a new school the network was frequently down.  When this happened I would have the students shut down there computers and return to the desk.  Then I had to find another activity for the students to do.  This was new subject for me and I had very few resources.  Thankfully I was able to get help from the vendor.  This was a stressful year for me.  I would be not want to try the same thing with open source software.

I have always been an early adopter of new technologies and most of my problems occur as a result of inexperience with a new product.  I willing to try new things but I do not want to rely on them to get my job done.  I will continue to try new things once they have been tested by others.


Participate 4 – Digital Safety and Security

Adobe Spark

The following post is an assignment for my Effective Online Teaching Class.  I created the poster in Adobe Spark.  You can download the PDF here- Be safe online.  I would probably print this out and put it on my wall near my computers.

As part of my class, I teach my students about safety in classroom and the workplace.  It is kind of shocking to the students when I skip from being safe on a ladder to being safe on a computer.  That don’t really think about it.  To reinforce this I use software that I can monitor their computers.  I usually wait until they get off task and surprise them with a message that people can see their activity.  After I surprise then I can show them, that I can follow what they are doing and share it with others.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Please email me if you have any suggestions Follow me on twitter and subscribe to my blog for more upcoming ideas for your media classroom. Subscribe to my youtube channel for iOS tips.

Participate 4 – Digital Rights and Responsibilities

The following post is part of my EOTC class.  This unit dealt with fair use and copyright.  This is something I must address with my class in the beginning.  I believe this is one of the hardest units to teach my students.  I must acknowledge to my students that there are plenty of examples of copyright infringement.  Just because these examples exist, it does not give us permission to do the same.  As future media creators we must obey the rules because we want people to do the same for our media creations.  One thing I do is show them this playlist I created that covers copyright, fair use and creative commons.

I have been able to find a few examples of videos that have been altered because of copyright.   The students see that the audio has been removed. In other examples,  such as JK wedding entrance video that went viral ads were placed on the video to pay the artist for use of the music.   In the worst case scenario the youtuber will get strikes against their account for posting videos without permission.  I explain the process of getting the strikes removed.

I try to get the students to understand that copyright is not a perfect system.  However as part of my class and future employment they will be expected to follow the rules.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Please email me if you have any suggestions Follow me on twitter and subscribe to my blog for more upcoming ideas for your media classroom. Subscribe to my youtube channel for iOS tips.

Making Big Changes

A few years ago,  I wrote a paper for my EdS degree in which I discussed the changes in going from teaching 44 students at  one school to teaching 100 more students the next year  at a different school.   At my old school,  I taught 5 periods a day and taught two classes which were 2 periods long.   I still can’t believe I left! Obliviously things were not perfect, but I had been able to grow my program into something special.  I was looking for something different and it wasn’t going to happen at that school.  So I packed my bags moved away from family and friends and started somewhere new.  Which meant teaching 6 periods a day and way more students.

I am making another big change this year after finishing a great spring semester.  I going to a new school, teaching a new subject and working with a new grade level.  Yes, this one is going to make me question this decision for years to come, but I am really excited this change.

I wish more teachers, administrators and other staff embraced changing school.  Over the last few years, I have met a few teachers who did not last in the classroom.  I explain to them that all schools are different.   There is a big difference between leaving the profession and moving to a new location.  Just because is difficult now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way.   Every school is different. Every year is different. That thing that bothers you this year may not be factor somewhere else. I find it best to just move on, find something different. As the quote above exclaims, keep looking until you find it.

I just noticed one of my former colleagues is teaching again.  Honestly, I understand why he left.   He was a great guy to work with, he was just in a bad situation.  I am glad to see that he is teaching again.  He just needed a different opportunity.

My Changes

I finished up at my old school last week, and started professional development on Monday at my new school.  Wow, everything is going to be different next year.    Last year, I had the second largest classroom in the school.  This was a good things, but is was a lot to manage.  Next year, I look forward to having a smaller room and far less students.   The school day is going to be shorter, this means more time to plan and prepare.   I will be teaching special education.  I still love film and will stay involved outside of school.  Everyone I met so far has been really inspiring and positive.

The school is starting a 1 to 1 program.  This is what got me so interested in changing schools.   I love technology but spend most of my time with audio video.  I think there is a lot more I can do with technology.  I want to try new things.

So far so good.  I hope to share more of this adventure online.  Be sure to follow me on twitter and subscribe to this blog.


Early Morning Inspiration 

I started this blog as part of an online class, I was involved with.  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I had just finished my EdS in Technology.  The class was a MOOC or massive online open class.  Technically, I dropped out/ stopped participating after a few months but  I learned so much. Occasionally, I will post a little something.  Recently, I have ramped it up, and am more focused on what doing which is technology and film.   

The Problem

So what should I do with all the other ideas that pop up in my head that are not as focused?  I am going to create a more personal blog for all of my other rambling that have nothing to do with technology or film.  What I am thinking about is how I spend the other 80% my time…. being a father.  

So why am I posting this here?

Well, it does have to do with technology.   I started the blog here because I am sure someone suggested it.  I really didn’t have a plan when I started, I just did it. So now I am going to take my time, plan this out.  I need a name, I need other social media accounts, I need a site, and a whole lot of other stuff. 

Have you ever started a blog? Where is the best place to do this?  Let me know in the comments below.

Seven Years Ago…..

Seven years ago,  I woke up on the last Saturday of winter break with a bad back ache.  It was early in the morning and I couldn’t remember what I had done to cause me this amount of pain.  A little later, I woke up my wife to look for a heating pad.  It wasn’t getting any better and she offered to take me to the emergency room. I wasn’t going to the emergency room only to remember that I had moved something heavy and was paying the consequences for it now.   We decided to wait until the minor med opened a few hours later.

We were waiting for the minor med to open. After a quick check up, I found out I had kidney stones.  A few days later, I had the first of 6 procedures to remove my kidney stone. This began what was my worst six weeks of work of my career.  I was basically absent from winter break to spring break.  I didn’t miss as many days as you would think.  Through a combination of snow days,  a holiday, half days and a field trip, I managed to only miss about half the days.

I had every excuse I needed to not go on the field trip.  First I had a stent from all of my procedures. This made me extremely uncomfortable unless I was laying flat or standing  straight up.  Second I was taking pain medication.  I was suppose to drive but for the first 2 reasons I was unable to drive.  Finally I was always recovering from the previous week procedures.

Even with all of these factors I had to go on the field trip. This was a trip to attend the Student Television National Conference.   One of my students was picked to be a presenter at the closing ceremony.  I also did not realize my kidney stone would last that long and hoped it would be over with before the conference.

I don’t know why my doctor agreed, but he gave me a week off to recover.  He put me on different prescription so I could drive.  He also gave me his phone number so that he could help me remove my stent if I had trouble.  That would have never of happened because I could only imagine the cleaning lady finding me passed out on the floor.

So we packed two cars and we drove to Orlando for the conference.  On the way, we took a side trip to visit Full Sail for a tour and took a picture with this cow.  I don’t remember much about the conference. Luckily there was another chaperone who helped me out with the students so I spent a lot of trip in my room.  I know we attended a professional training on how to edit and competed in a contest.



The trip home was miserable.  We left in plenty of time to get home before dark and stopped a huge McDonalds.  1937245_1275902216670_3911158_n

When we were about a 100 miles from home.  I had a flat, but I was in no condition to change it.  So my students put on the spare.  If this had been just me, I would have finished the trip on the spare.  Since I had students I had to make a stop to see about getting a new tire.   The tire center at the Walmart was closed.  Luckily one of the workers was still there.  The manager took pity on us and changed the tire. After purchasing a  new tire, 5 hour energy drinks, glow sticks and having impromptu dance party, we made it home after midnight.


Despite all the problems getting there and back, I consider the trip a success.  The next year I took a larger group to California which included many of the same students.  With the knowledge they gained at the conference my media program really took off the next year. The students from that trip provided the leadership for the program for the next 3 years.  Everyone on that trip has studied or continued in media in some way.  I don’t know that I would take a trip under these circumstances again, but I am glad we all had the experience.



It Started 13 years ago

In the fall of 2003, I went to check my box for a check on a Friday afternoon.  When I got there I found out that my purchase order had not be approved.  I was trying to buy a DSLR camera to take pictures of homecoming the next week. My class was going to sell candid pictures to raise money to take a trip in the spring.  At the time you could get digital photos developed for less then a quarter.

At the time my wife was in law school and our money was tight.  I didn’t know what to do but I had a best buy credit card.  I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel for a little over a thousand dollars.   I am not sure how many photos we took that week or sold but we raised enough to get us started.  A few months later, I took my first school field trip.

We attended the first ever Student Television Network Convention at Universal City in California.  I wasn’t very prepared, because I had only taken students to sporting events before then.  I knew we wanted to go see a film studio and visit the walk of stars.   We left Memphis after spending the whole day at school.  The students met me at the airport and soon we were on our way.  I debated on transportation.  I knew that we could catch a shuttle to our hotel and that we weren’t far from all of the attractions.  We got there LAX was over whelming.  When I added the number of students we had and the cost of the shuttle, I decided the rent a van.  At the time, no one had GPS so I a student with a map.  The van was big enough for all of us but I hadn’t considered luggage.  We managed to squeeze into the van and fight the late night traffic to the hotel.

We showed up at the very nice hotel where according to the students I announced  “We don’t need no valet” in my best southern accent.  As soon,  we got to the front door  we were swarmed with students wanting to interview us.  There were students everywhere.IMG_1590

The order of events is kind of a blur now, but here are the highlights. We went to Warner Brothers students where  Martin Sheen wished us “Happy New Year”, we saw the sets of the Gilmore Girls, West Wing and ER.  We sat in on a rehearsal of the the Drew Carey show and Drew Carey spoke to my students during a break.  We kept the students busy all day for the entire trip.  Group shot

The conference was amazing.  IMG_1435There was standing room only in some of the presentations.  My student competed in several contests and toured the campus of USC. IMG_1595 We skipped a social event one night and were able to get into a taping of the show 2 and Half Men.  The music video contest ran extremely late.   My students were editing late into the night in a different time zone.   They were delirious by the time the contest was over but they finished.  IMG_1474

The conference ended on good note with one of my students placing 3rd in a contest.


After the conference ended, we went to Hollywood Blvd to the walk of stars.  I made my students bring cameras and put together news stories about Hollywood.   IMG_1660We loaded the van on Sunday morning made a quick trip to beach before catching a plane home.


When my students made it back to school they were excited to tell there friends all about the trip.  The next year, I took twice as many students.   I have been back to California for the conference 5 times.  The trip was a recruiting tool for my class and really helped me to grow my program.  I took over 400 photos on that trip that I still have on my computer, not bad for 4 day trip.
IMG_9468.jpgI am still in touch with most of the students from my trip.  A few of them studied film or journalism in college.  My last trip to STN,  I went at the last minute to Orlando because my students had a video that was being shown there.  I took a break one afternoon to visit one of student from my first trip, who is working at the happiest place on earth.  IMG_9507

I am not going to say that taking students to the STN convention is better then Disney World, but as far as school trips go it is the best substitute.