About seven years ago, I heard my first educational technology conference speaker. His name was Rushton Hurley and the title of his talk was, “How to Make a Movie in Less than a Minute.” It was a great talk and he used Windows Movie Maker to demonstrate how easy it was to make a movie using pictures, audio, and a great free tool.
His point was not to train on how to use Windows Movie Maker. Instead, it was to demonstrate how we should use tools that are freely available to us to create products that can engage our students; and more importantly, to show how easy it is to offer our students the tools to create and then take ownership of their learning. I had never been to a conference before and I didn’t know Kathy Schrock from Katie Couric but in spite of my inexperience I stumbled upon something that I have repeated countless times in trainings and talks that I have done. Towards the end of his talk Rushton said, “If you want more technology in your classroom, show that you use what you already have.”
Bright, Shiny Things
In choosing what we do, what we listen to, and what we take away from ISTE it is so easy to get caught up in the next new bright shiny object that with a small phenomenal fee will transform your classroom overnight, teach your students for you, make you coffee and bring you the morning paper. Believe me when I say I have been hooked by those things before. But for the most part, when I got back to my classroom, I still had to work with the tools that were provided to me and my students.
The great thing about the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Teacher Series at ISTE is that they introduce to you how to use the tools that you probably already have! Beginning on Sunday you can hear about OneNote (now FREE on ALL platforms) as the Ultimate Collaboration Tool. Office 365 in the Classroom will discuss the benefits that you get from your districts implementation of a cloud-powered Office. Don’t miss 30 free tools in 60 minutes and go on a whirlwind ride through free tools from Microsoft like Photosynth, Photo Gallery, Chronozoom, Microsoft Math, AutoCollage, Songsmith and many more.A personal favorite of mine is entitled, “Are you in the Mix?” which showcases a free plug-in for PowerPoint called Office Mix. If you are looking for a free, easy e-learning content development tool that provides you with analytics, Office Mix is for you. See a complete list of offerings created for teachers by teachers.
When you use tools that you already have, not only are you demonstrating to your district or administration that you’re capable, you’re showing yourself and your students that success comes from taking the resources that you have been given and making your own bright, shiny objects. See you there and if you’re not able to come, follow me on Twitter for conference updates! @davidzepol