How to publish an audio lecturecast with Podcast Generator (screencast demo)
Nov 22nd, 2010 by Wesley Fryer

At the beginning of this fall semester, I described the process I’m using to publish regular audio recordings of my “Computers in the Classroom” course at UNT in the post, “Creating a course audio lecturecast (podcast) with Podcast Generator.” Today’s lesson focus was on Screencasting, so after class I used Screenr to create and publish (for free) a 3 minute, 43 second Screencast demonstrating this process. I love Podcast Generator: It’s free, open source, and easy to use!

Every K-12 as well as university instructor/professor today should not only understand the power and value of screencasting (Khan Academy is an exemplar) but also know how to proficiently create a screencast themselves. Screencasting is a foundational skill of digital literacy in the 21st century, and a basic “powerful ingredient” for blended learning.

Check out our class resources on Screencasting for more videos, tutorials, and links on this topic. On our screencasting assignment page, I linked to two excellent student screencasting examples created last Spring by UCO students: Make a custom Google Map and Make a PowerPoint with 20 Photos Fast. Screencasting is not only something we need to know how to do as educators, it’s also something we need to both teach and require our students to do!

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Resources for Today’s workshop at LESCN
Apr 1st, 2010 by Wesley Fryer

Here is the link to our PiratePad backchannel for today’s breakout session at LESCN in Meredith, New Hampshire.

These are resources referenced in today’s session:

  1. Etherpad
  2. iEtherpad
  3. PiratePad
  4. Online Timer
  5. AudioBoo
  6. Wesley’s AudioBoo Channel
  7. Google Reader
  8. Google Reader Mobile
  9. VoiceThread
  10. VoiceThread for Education
  11. Great Book Stories
  12. Powerful Ingredients blog
  13. Technology 4 Teachers class
A Tribute To My Dad
Mar 10th, 2010 by Karen Montgomery

My father died of pancreatic cancer in May 2007 and today would have been his 66th birthday. He had had two previous battles with cancer and when he started feeling badly earlier that year, he thought he was just having some gastrointestinal problems. Because of his prior health history we assumed he would be diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and were dismayed to hear that it was indeed cancer of the pancreas – the grand daddy of cancers. He received his diagnosis on April 6 and passed away on the evening of May 24 – just a mere 7 weeks. I still miss him everyday!

Richard Stewart Humphrey was born in Utica, New York on March 10, 1944 to David and Katherine Humphrey. He was the third child of seven having an older brother, David, and older sister, Margaret and three younger brothers, Robert, Ronald and Donald and a younger sister, Katherine. He graduated from Whitesboro Central High School and attended Cornell University where he earned a Master’s in Metallurgical Engineering. He joined ROTC in college because he wanted to be an Army officer. He married my mother, Lucretia Verrilli, when he was a senior in college and served a tour in Vietnam before leaving the Army with the rank of captain. He loved to snow ski and he stayed very active until he got too sick. His favorite color was green. He was known for telling jokes and throughout the years, my mother, sisters and I often became the “straight man” for the unsuspecting victim. He was able to find humor and weave a joke into so many situations. It was truly a gift! He was an avid fly fisherman and took all four of his grandchildren, Maria, Caper, Eva and Greta, trout fishing at one time or another. Since his death, another grandson, Augie, has been born. Unfortunately, little Augie will not know the joy of fishing with Grandpa. He was a wonderful father and grandfather and it is hard to summarize someone’s life in a few paragraphs. I set up a wiki right after he died as a place to collect some of our important stories and memories.

My husband, daughter and I were with my Dad the weekend of his diagnosis. I asked him to wear an mp3 recorder around his neck and had thought I would have more time than just that weekend to record his voice. But, he began chemotherapy the following week and faded so quickly. I have about 23 hours of audio files that are so precious because it is his stories and his voice that I often miss.

We planned a memorial celebration of my Dad’s life in October of 2007. I scanned photographs and using some of his favorite music, produced a digital movie using Photostory 3. Recently, I showed the video to a friend who encouraged me to share the video publicly. The process of gathering and organizing the pictures and music and creating the video took me well over 60 hours. I cried a lot, but feel it was an task worth doing. It was my tribute. My daughter wanted to talk about her grandfather at the memorial, but was afraid she would be too upset. So we wrote an introduction she recorded for the video. The entire video is 20 minutes long and also includes my daughter reading the following email my father sent shortly after he found out he was ill:

In 1981, when the doctor told us that he must discontinue my chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma because of complications, we were offered the risky option of radiation therapy, with a small chance of success, a certain chance of extreme suffering, and an 85 percent chance of developing leukemia. I wanted to see my daughters graduate from college and get stated in life, so we took the treatments and hoped for a few more years of acceptable health and were rewarded with twelve truly great years. I was starting to believe I was the luckiest man alive!

In 1993, when my second bout with melanoma started, the oncologists refused to take a chance with me, (because of my previous problems with chemo), so we were offered surgery, with the (almost) certainty that the melanoma would return somewhere, sometime. I wanted to see my daughters get settled and give us beautiful, talented grandchildren, so we traded my movie-star looks for fourteen more wonderful years and all of the great blessings, including Maria, Caper, Eva, Greta, and Kandace’s expected. As bonuses, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing all of the other additions to the family, and the luxury of traveling to enjoy more great quality time with many of them and more often than I could have dreamed. I was convinced I was the luckiest man alive!

Friday last, we learned that I have been diagnosed with advanced cancer of the pancreas (aden carcinoma), and I will start chemotherapy on Tuesday. The symptoms came on fast and furious, normal for this cancer, with no real prior warning. This is the biggest gun of cancers, with the toughest odds yet, and not a battle I look forward to, but I’ve been so impossibly lucky so far that I have fewer fears and regrets than some might expect. You can find my prognosis on many websites, but I suggest not looking. We did find one website that states it is the #1 cause of Agent Orange deaths among Viet Nam vets, reinforcing my feeling about all of my maladies.

For those family members who were contemplating the June Reunion, we can only offer some premature thoughts. The chemo should last about seven weeks (May 22), and only God can tell you how a big party in June will sound by then. I suggest keeping the dates in mind, and if we have to cancel, using the time to celebrate something else worthwhile. We put the house on the market yesterday, and though the odds of closing, let alone selling it by then, are low, we’d hate to have to host you in a campground somewhere. Send me more ideas if you have them, please. Maybe a Farewell Tour if the health improves and holds out.

Of course, our longstanding invitation to visit any other time is still open, and amplified. Anyone we missed before has an invitation now. We can’t guarantee a perfect time, but the beauty and solitude of our home can be attested to by those who have been here.

Please pass these thoughts along to anyone we missed, and pray or keep your fingers crossed or make any effort for us that you may feel could be helpful, including offering secret cures and remedies. I’m already consuming mass quantities of Tibetan Goji Berry juice, green tea, Indian dye, black walnuts, wild blueberries, and even some medicines from my doctors.

I have tried to make this truthful, hopeful but realistic, and not too morbid, and hope it comes across that way.

Love and Peace,

Dick and Lu

We were so lucky to have him in our lives, albeit for far too short a time. I will continue to love and miss him always. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Heartland eLearning Conference Workshop
Mar 8th, 2010 by Wesley Fryer

This morning I’m sharing a 3 hour pre-conference workshop at the Heartland eLearning Conference at UCO in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning. This workshop is customized for eLearning specialists and online instructors. To preserve past versions of this workshop, Karen Montgomery and I are archiving those versions as separate, saved pages on our PI4BL wiki. As an example, you can access the 3 hour workshop curriculum from METC in St Louis on February 8, 2010.

Our workshop agenda and all our resource links for today are available on our PI4BL wiki. This is the Google Presentation we’ll start with today: An Invitation to Move Your Learning!

You Are Not A Beginner Unless You Have Begun
Feb 15th, 2010 by Karen Montgomery

Mount Hood, originally uploaded by klmontgomery.

If you have yet to put on snow skis, are you a beginning skier? When a beginning skier decides to take lessons to learn to ski, their skiing ability needs to be determined in order to place them in a class at the appropriate level. Skiing ability is based on a scale of ability levels from Level 1 to Level 9. In general, you might assume, Levels 1-3 are for beginners, Levels 4-6 are for intermediate skiers and Levels 7-9 are for advanced skiers. There is no Level 0. In order to be a beginner, you have to put on skis. You need to learn how to fasten your ski boots, step into your bindings and get your balance before you really begin. Beginner lessons focus on how to gain control, go at an easy pace and most importantly how to stop. Even after mastering these simple skills you are still very much a beginner, but well on your way! Whether you are four years old or 28 years old, if you just sit in the lodge drinking hot chocolate and watching the bustle on the mountain you are not a beginner, but an observer.

Over the past few years, it has often occurred to me when I am working with educators that when it comes to the use of technology by teachers and administrators we have to start redefining beginner. The Internet is loaded with websites dedicated to computer literacy for both students and adults. In computer classes everywhere, schools focus on computer literacy skills for students that include both fundamental hardware and software knowledge.

Computers are commonplace in our society and have been for a very long time. Can teachers be expected to use online applications and resources with their students if they are not even “computer literate” and comfortable with basic computer skills and using web-based applications? Are you a beginner if you cannot attached a document to an e-mail, save a file and find it later, tab browse or work in multiple browser windows, copy and paste or sign up for an account online? Is it a beginner or an intermediate user that can download photos to a computer from their camera? Should a beginner know how to save to a flash drive or the desktop? What about administrators who only read their e-mail from the hard copy printed by their secretary? I would argue that knowing how to carry out these activities are analogous to strapping on the skis before you start your first lesson. Never mind integrating the technology into the curriculum if the beginners have not learned how to accomplish basic tasks.

Instruction on how to use blogs, wikis, photo sharing, VoiceThread and social bookmarking with students inherently starts at an intermediate level. But is signing in to your Yahoo! account an intermediate skill? Teachers who do not use online applications personally will certainly struggle with using them for the first time in an in-service or workshop setting. Frustration is imminent in these situations when some participants lag behind. It frustrates the lagging participant and other participants and often the instructor. It is frequently not the function or use of the online resource that creates this frustration but the lack of familiarity with using the computer.

Just like in snow skiing, several levels of beginners are going to exist. There is a range of proficiencies and abilities at every level, but if you are at Level 0, you are not yet a beginner. As part of our Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning (PI4BL) framework, Wes Fryer and I have divided our levels of use into four levels: awareness, personal use, adoption and invention. At Level 1, awareness, “PI4BL educators may comment on a blog or forum post created in the Powerful Ingredients Learning Community” We feel a beginner be able to comment on a blog post written by someone else. Setting up their own blog comes at the personal use level and using a blog with students at Level 3.

So how do you define beginner? Is a beginner someone who observes and watches others engaged in an activity? Is a beginner someone who knows about goings-on, but doesn’t actually participate? Is a beginner someone who is aware that technology exists but is not engaged in exploring and using technology? Are you really a beginner if you haven’t yet begun? Would love you to contribute your thoughts.

Announcing The Digital Magic Tricks Workshop
Feb 12th, 2010 by Wesley Fryer

Digital Magic Tricks is a two day(+) learning experience based on the Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning Framework by Wesley Fryer and Karen Montgomery. To schedule a workshop or obtain more information, please contact Karen.


To become digital learning leaders, educators need opportunities to be STUDENTS in digitally blended classrooms. Our two(+) part “Digital Magic Tricks” workshop series provides that opportunity.

To meet ISTE NETS, learners in your school must:

  • Communicate with media
  • Collaborate with others
  • Share their work
  • Design active lessons


Big digital concepts participants will experience:

  1. Working in the cloud
  2. Safely publishing online
  3. Organizing with tags
  4. Talking with pictures
  5. Power of voice
  6. Interactive, moderated discussions
  7. Building a personal learning network

Participants will experience “quick victories for blended learning” using:

  1. Social bookmarks
  2. Copyright friendly images
  3. Digital storytelling
  4. Collaborative document writing
  5. Online polls
  6. Screencasting
  7. Phonecasting
  8. Geo-mapping text and media
  9. Synchronous conferencing

Educators should attend who:

  • Are learning leaders
  • Are willing to take instructional risks
  • Like digital magic!
  • Are willing to be a “digital bridge”


Select six learning leaders from your school district (ideally two elementary, two middle, and two high school teachers or librarians) to attend a TWO DAY, face-to-face workshop focusing on QUICK VICTORIES for blended learning.* Participants will engage in a variety of hands-on, digital learning activities and see actual examples of classroom lessons using these digital magic tricks.

The afternoon of day 2, at least two district administrators (principal, superintendent, IT Director/CIO, Curriculum director, school board member) will attend to engage in a conversation about blended learning and digital access at school. This will highlight the importance of engaging, collaborating, learning, and sharing in digital environments for students and teachers. It will empower district leaders to develop local “social media guidelines” in conjunction with parents, teachers, students, and the community following the face-to-face workshop.

In the two months which follow the workshop, participants will use at least one “powerful ingredient” with students. They will share these experiences on the Powerful Ingredients Learning Community.

A follow-up videoconference with participants will be scheduled approximately two months following completion of the face-to-face workshop, at the same location. In addition to original participants, at least two administrators from participating districts are required to attend. In the interactive videoconference, participants will share their experiences and learning take-aways using powerful ingredients for blended learning with students. An agenda for presenters will be coordinated in advance.


To schedule a workshop or obtain more information, please contact Karen.

* The term “quick victories” in the context of educational technology workshops was coined by Marco Torres. (As far as we know!)

Content licensed Creative Commons License by Wesley Fryer and Karen Montgomery. CC licensed photos on this post by Marco Torres. (onetwo and three) CC licensed phone image from

This information is also available on our PI4BL wiki.

METC 2010 PreCon Workshop
Feb 8th, 2010 by Karen Montgomery

The curriculum for our 3 hour METC PreCon Workshop, “Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning,” has been updated for today’s workshop!

METC 2008
Creative Commons License photo credit: randymalta

PI Videoconference for CILC Tandberg Connections: 5 January 2010
Jan 5th, 2010 by Wesley Fryer

I shared an hour-long videoconference today for the Tandberg Connections program and the CILC, discussing the “Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning” framework. In addition to our H.323 videoconference, which was bridged to endsites in Arkansas, Virginia and Texas, I shared the presentation over Ustream and recorded it.

I used a slightly modified version of the same slide deck I shared in October 2009 in Maine at ACTEM, which is available on SlideShare.

Resources I mentioned during today’s videoconference which are NOT linked or referenced in the Slideshare presentation are:

  1. Today’s Wall Street Journal video, “Apple’s Tablet, as Imagined by Book Publishers
  2. My Spring 2009 Technology for Teachers (T4T) curriculum, based on “Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning”
  3. The Skype in Schools wiki
  4. Lee LeFever’s video, “Google Docs in Plain English
  5. One of my favorite online timers (I also really like this one, but didn’t use it today)
  6. My social bookmarks on Diigo

One thing I did NOT do, but wish I had done during our session today, was share part of Rachel Boyd‘s presentation for K12Online09 last year, “A Peek for a Week – Inside a Kiwi Junior Classroom.” Rachel does such a great job using a wiki as a classroom learning portal— I wish I’d remembered to share her explanation of that!

If you have any feedback from this session, whether you were able to attend live or view the archived video, I’d love to hear it.

We don’t have a firm deadline at this point, but I’d love to have the “Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning” book ready to print by the end of this Spring. My first T4T class meeting is in eight days on January 13th, so that deadline is spurring lots of work right now on this writing project! I’m considering sharing my class lectures like this over Ustream. I used CamTwist today to share my computer desktop over Ustream. Using both my Tandberg videoconferencing unit as well as Ustream for the same presentation was a bit distracting, but I wanted to test this setup and see how it worked.

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Resources for ACTEM 09 Powerful Ingredients Workshop
Oct 15th, 2009 by Wesley Fryer

The following are resources and links for the ACTEM 2009 Conference on “Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning” on October 15, 2009, in Augusta, Maine. This is the description of this project which I have added to our blog’s “about” page:

We need to redefine what it means to be digitally literate in the 21st century. Knowledge and proficiency with software productivity applications like Microsoft Office cannot suffice to define computer literacy. “Powerful Ingredients” is a framework for thinking about and using blended learning tools and methodologies. Levels of use are defined as awareness, personal use, adoption, and invention. Educators are encouraged to progress, at their own pace, through each ingredient at each level of use.

“Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning” is a forthcoming book from Wesley Fryer and Karen Montgomery. A draft of that book is available on our Google Sites wiki, with individual chapters written using Google Docs. This blog serves as a complementary information resource about the themes, tools, and strategies discussed in the book. Your input is welcome! This work is licensed under an Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States license.

Initial presentation slides are available on SlideShare.

The Chatzy backchannel is available on, using the highly secure password shared during the workshop. 🙂

Please submit your questions during the session to the Google Moderator Series created for Powerful Ingredients.

Draft chapters with links are available on

Vote online for our first web poll:

During our workshop, please add links to the Chatzy backchannel. It will be archived and linked so anyone can refer to it if desired. Don’t forget to add questions in Google Moderator too! (You’ll need to log in first with a Google account.)

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Discouraging lecture hall technology abuse – Encouraging interactive discussions
Aug 16th, 2009 by Wesley Fryer

I applaud Dr. José A. Bowen‘s efforts to end lecture hall technology abuse at Southern Methodist University. His encouragement to faculty to “teach naked” (sans computer technology) was highlighted in Jeffrey Young’s July 20, 2009, article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom.” I am not positive, but given the URL link for the article as well as questions I’ve received via Twitter about this article, I think the original title may have included the words “Teach Naked Effort Strips…” as the lead tagline. Certainly such a headline is bound to get attention, but in this case the message could be misunderstood at several levels. Dr. Bowen is NOT, as I first thought in reading some mentions of this article, encouraging faculty to stop using technology for learning and instruction. To the contrary, he is encouraging faculty to reserve non-interactive lecture deliveries of content for video podcasts: publishing those to the web to be viewed by students in advance of classroom lessons. He has taken computers OUT of classrooms in his college to force faculty to STOP using PowerPoint, since most were ABUSING it. I’m guessing Garr Reynolds, author of the outstanding book and blog “Presentation Zen,” might also be pleased by this effort. Like Bowen, Reynolds (through his book) is not encouraging an end to the use of presentation software but rather a change in the way it is used. Where Reynolds encourages presenters to use PowerPoint / Keynote software programs to share minimal textual elements and lots of impactful graphics, Bowen encourages faculty to video podcast their lectures. This is precisely the encouragement I’ve been sharing for several years in my presentations, blog posts and podcasts. I discussed this at my SITE 2007 workshop on “blended learning,” sharing the following two-by-two framework for thinking about web 2.0 tools for learning:

A Framework for Thinking Instructionally About Web 2.0 Tools

One of the big takeaways from this matrix should be the following: When you want to share content in a synchronous, non-interactive format, DON’T DO IT! That’s technology abuse when PowerPoint or other presentation software is used, and pedagogical malpractice whether or not technology is used. When learners are together face-to-face, the interactive potential of that context should be utilized to the fullest. That’s why the above matrix SHOULD encourage educators, when content is presented in a non-interactive format, to use video podcasting and other forms of online video/audio publishing. Give a listen to Dr. Bowen’s 4 minute video interview with Jeffrey Young to hear more of his philosophy along these lines.

Dr. Bowen’s message for higher education professors is very similar to that of Woodland Park, Colorado teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. See their website “Educational Vodcasting” as well as the Google Video “Educational Podcasting in Woodland Park, Colorado” for more on their philosophy and modeling of lecture-casting at the high school level.

Of the ten (or so) videos I shared this past Thursday in Aurora, Ohio, for my presentation there for school administrators, the above video of Bergmann and Sams was likely the one most enthusiastically received. Should we be video podcasting / vodcasting non-interactive lectures TODAY in our high schools and colleges? ABSOLUTELY. Why are we not seeing more teachers, instructors and professors do this? There are several reasons, but the biggest one is that secondary teachers as well as university professors do NOT want to change their ways. In many cases, these educators have made their living at the podium, standing and delivering content. To ask an educator used to lecturing every day to give it up for vodcasting, and instead to both craft and lead highly-interactive, engaging face-to-face discussions with students is tantamount to challenging their professional identity and raison d’être.

Cross posted on “Moving at the Speed of Creativity.”

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