If you’re looking for creative ways to utilize collaborative technologies to bring funding for technology projects into your classroom these social networking websites focused on classroom project fundraising may be useful.

Podcast Recording Studio by D'Arcy Norman

I spoke with Karen Montgomery this morning briefly on the phone, and she shared several new websites she learned about after talking with Heather Chirtea of ToolFactory recently. I’ve been writing a bit lately about Flip cameras and other flash-based video cameras, and thinking about creating recommendations for “digital backpacks” for the StoryChasers project. It turns out ToolFactory has put together a Flip Video Mobile Lab solution for schools, as well as a Mobile Podcasting Lab featuring Olympus WS-331 digital audio recorders. The WS-331 retails for about $200, while the WS-110 recorders we use in our “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” project retail for around $75. I’m not finding the WS-110 on the Olympus website now, so I’m wondering if it has been replaced by the WS-210? The idea of having a mobile lab of digital audio recorders or flash-based video cameras is a great one for digital storytelling projects.

Of course with this idea or many others which involve new technology hardware purchases, questions of money always come up. I have known about the website Donors Choose for some time, which offers teachers a way to request funding from people online for classroom needs.

DonorsChoose.org: Teachers Ask. You Choose. Students Learn.

Heather told Karen about a similar website called Digital Wish, which according to its website about page is:

a Public Charity with a Mission: to modernize American classrooms and prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce…

…Digital Wish is dedicated to helping schools gain technology access across all subject areas. Thousands of teachers are already using Digital Wish to find and share digital lesson plans. The site features a growing library of grants and fundraising ideas to help schools marshal community support. Like a wedding registry, teachers can create a “wish list” of needed technology products for their classrooms. Educators describe how each resource will be utilized, write project plans, and tell the story of their classroom. Their classroom stories are then posted online, for review by any donor.

Digital Wish sounds like a great partner website for our StoryChasers project. Whether you are currently involved in a collaborative project like StoryChasers or not, the site could offer a great chance to obtain needed funding for additional technology equipment which your school or local PTA can’t or won’t fund because of limited budgets. The grants section of Digital Wish has links to LOTS of organizations providing educational grants. I’ve created a new page for Grants and Funding on the StoryChaser’s wiki and included these as well as some other links.

I hope Karen and I can convince Heather to be our guest on an upcoming Technology Shopping Cart podcast. At this point we’re tentatively planning our next show (which will be webcast live) for the morning of Friday, September 5th. Our next StoryChaser’s brainstorm (and probably our last one for awhile, since we should be ready to officially announce the project and invite participation following this meet-up) will be Wednesday, August 27th at 9 pm Eastern / 8 pm Central / 7 pm Mountain / 6 pm Pacific time on Ustream.tv and Skype.

It’s exciting to learn and share about websites like Digital Wish and Donors Choose. Websites like this offer ways for classroom teachers to disintermediate the educational technology funding process and on a shorter timeline, potentially put technology tools in the hands of students that can (depending on how they are used, of course) make a positive difference for learning.

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