Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Cool Tools for the Classroom by Dr Carl Owens #msmeca11

These are my notes from Dr. Carl Owens‘ presentation, “Cool Tools for the Classroom” at the 2011 Mississippi Educational Computing Association annual conference in Jackson on February 8th.

Dr Carl W Owens
Professor / Director of Technology
College of Education, Tennessee Technological University
cowens [at] tntech [dot] edu

Currently have approx 2000 undergrads at TTU, production of instructional materials is a major focus
– we are fortunate to have a $2 million endowment at our college

On average one of our digital video cameras gets checks out ten times per day

We are using Bose Companion 5 Multimedia Powered Speaker System now in our ‘standard’ multimedia classrooms in our college

We are also experimenting with the BassJump Subwoofer – adds a much richer and fuller sound at your teacher presentation

I’m all about quality for podcasting tools
– if it’s noisy or distracting no one is going to pay attention
– we want to use tools that can help us create content that will be engaging

A measure for your podcast is: It should sound like NPR
– if it doesn’t, you’ve done something wrong


Mikes we like:
Mikey and Mikey 2 ($80) – attach mic to to your iPhone or iPod Touch

All from

By simply using a high quality external microphone, you can significantly enhance the quality of your podcast
– we’ve never had a Bluemic microphone fail for us in 4 years, and we use them intensely

Digital Microscopes
ProScope HR and ProScope Mobile
– they have a ton of lesson plans about how to integrate the ProScope into the curriculum
the HSI kit comes with microscope adapters, 200x lens, stand for time lapse video
– new tool they have:

Tools for TV capture
Eye TV Hybrid from Elegato Systems
– install it on your Mac at school or home, has connection for cable TV
– automatically searches for available channels you have (DirectTV, ComCast, etc – the guide for what you can capture shows up on your computer)
– cable in the classroom is a much-unused resource for teachers in the classroom (very liberal licensing terms for classroom uses)
– it saves the video to your hard drive AND compresses it

In the old days, the librarian was responsible for recording shows to VCR
– new companion project, H.264 Video converter with hardware accelerator lets you speed up the compression process

Is now an app for your iOS device, can connect via iTV app for $5 to access your home device

Sometimes we have lots of content on different sources, the Elegato Video Capture solution lets you digitize content from any composite video / analog playback device

Look at the Cable in the Classroom website
– cable providers in their charter are required to give free cable TV in all classrooms in your area
– that is a provision for cable classrooms
– in some places cable companies put up a fight to do this, in others they do it gladly

Great lesson plans, programming guides, and more on the CiC website

CIC Online Home :: Cable in the Classroom

Radio Shark still great: $49 from Griffin Technologies
– lets you record local radio
– many communities have local programming that might not be on the web
– has been discontinued, but you can still find them for sale online, I’ve seen them for $30

I love music production
– we use GarageBand for the creation of copyright free / royalty free music
– some support devices for music creation

Korg nanoKey
– Garageband has thousands of instruments, can trigger different instruments
– is a keyboard

JamPacks for Garageband really expand available tools
– base install of Garageband has about 4000 instruments

Pulse LiveScribe SmartPen
– you can write and record audio to accompany it
– pen has a built-in mic
– I can save up to 200 hours of audio on the pen
website has a good video demo

We’ve received grants from the state to meet special needs of students, we integrate those into our curriculum
– 1 is the Krown Sign Language Translator

For video production we’ve gone through many tools and stages, now we’re primarily using and recommending the Sanyo Exacti VPS FH1A DV camera
– HD 1080p, records to compact flash card
– use these a lot when creating iMovies
– flip cameras were all the rage for awhile, but having produced lots of instructional videos I know there are big control benefits for image stability, image zoom, etc is so much better
– we don’t use many flip cameras now
– we have several hundred of these Sanyos
– we have not had any significant support / technical problems with this device
– we have done comparisons with a $5000 high end Canon digital camera, and this $400 one…. to the naked eye for many student productions you can’t tell the difference (this is ideal for student teacher use)

Big deal: This camcorder does support an external microphone
– lav mics really work well
– we recommend our students always use an external mic (lav) when doing classroom recording
– Sony has them: $50 to $100 will get you a good mic for classroom use, Radio Shack too
– Telex is a brand we’ve used for more high-end video production

Pico data projector (Optoma Pico PK-101 DLP) – around $500, there is an newer one now with a brighter bulb
– can be used with your iPod touch to play video
– years ago data projectors were all huge and cost $25,000 each
– amazing we can have that capability now
– it does require complete room darkening

Mobile learning devices
– iPod Touch with FaceTime

I LOVE videoconferencing

Apple used to have a video called “Knowledge Navigator”
– I realized that dream years ago when Apple introduced iChat

Now doing a live demo of a Facetime video call


One of the most powerful uses of this technology is remote teaching
– a couple of years ago when I was in Shanghai I had a chance to teach my class for several hours with other professors, back to Tennessee
– this was featured in a local write-up at our university

Portable Battery power: Griffin USB Battery Pack (just $15 now)

Tablet Based Computers: GalaxyTab and iPad
– we wanted to look for an up and coming tool that would be good for education and be comparable to the iPad
– we found the Samsung Galaxy Tablet: $599 right now
– same look and feel, and interface as the iPad, but smaller 7″ screen
– now the AndroidMarket is available for downloading applications, similar to iTunes and the App Store
– not as many education apps available yet for Android relative to iPad, but I expect that to change over time

Music creation
– it’s easy to pirate someone else’s music – we address this in our courses,
– repeated 30 sec / 10% limit
– Garageband allows you much greater flexibility, Magic Garageband
MixCraft is the most Garageband-like software available now for Windows

Florida Digital Educators Program (Carl helps lead and teach this each summer)

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One response to “Cool Tools for the Classroom by Dr Carl Owens #msmeca11”

  1. Frank Gallagher Avatar

    Hey Wes. Long time fan here. Thanks for the inclusion of Cable in the Classroom. Here’s a slight clarification on schools’ expectations. Participating cable companies (which include most, but not all companies) have agreed to provide free service to schools, but not necessarily to wire all classrooms. It’s typically a cable line that goes into the media center, from which a school may distribute to classrooms. Anyone with questions or problems can contact us through the website for assistance.

    Frank Gallagher
    Executive Director
    Cable in the Classroom