The first part of technology that I am using is my laptop. It is my personal laptop, and I have a cable lock for it just to keep it from wondering away when I am not looking. It is nothing special, a Toshiba Satellite, 12.5 inch screen, 3 years old. I use OpenOffice on it exclusively (mainly because I purchased it when I was in grad school and broke.) I have had great luck with OpenOffice, and I make my daily powerpoints for Alg 3-4 with it. Very easy to use, and I have constructed some simple graphics on it to make my points. I am running into the barriers of the software though, and I will be installing the 2007 version of Office I bought under the “ultimate steal” campaign they have. [$60 for the full Ultimate version of Office!!!].
Okay, laptop connected to the projector on the second video cable. I also purchased an Elmo, HV-110xg off of eBay over the Summer. total cost including shipping was $120. Totally worth it. This shares a video cable, so I have to swap devices. Takes about 3 seconds.
So the laptop is running the presentation that I have carefully built to teach the lesson. I turn the presentation to a pdf, and upload the pdf to Edline (our district’s online software). If someone has a question not addressed in the presentation, I can switch devices to the Smart Panel using the projector’s remote and do the problems and address the questions on the whiteboard. More importantly, I can have the learners come to the board and work the problems on the white board. I use a remote control for the presentation, so I am teaching from the back and sides of the room, not the front. I am not tied down anywhere.
I also have an iPod, 80 gig, that is record my lectures on. Very powerful to upload the presentation, and the MP3 to Edline. I have had several learners tell me they listened to the MP3, and looked at the presentation, and were able to figure out the assignment.
The iPod works terrifically. The iTalk I use retails for $50, but on eBay I snagged one for $12.00 including shipping. Plug it into the iPod, hit record voice memo on “low” quality, drop it in my shirt pocket, and I get stereo recording of what I am saying. It will pick up a learner if I am close to them, but otherwise not.
Sync the iPod to my laptop during break, import it into Audacity with the LAME MP3 encoder installed and export the .wav file as an .mp3 file. Reduces file size significantly, and makes for faster uploads and downloads. More importantly, it can now be listened to on any device in existence today, even cell phones. Total time is around 3 minutes, total software cost = ZERO dollars.
I can also play video from the iPod and show it over the projector. Using the Apple Component AV Cable I can connect my iPod to the projector (remember that 5 wire cable I ran?) (Retail cost = $50) Now I can show the YouTube videos that my district has blocked on my iPod. Some very great videos on YouTube, if you are selective. I can also play music over the speakers I installed. That is nice for beginning of class, breaks, etc.
I have also been using Geogebra to model mathematics over the projector. More importantly, I have been asking the learners to bring in photos on their cell phones and use those pictures to model the mathematics. Now the cell phones actually have some valid use in class! When I purchased a SD card for my cell phone, it came with one of these adaptors, so I didn’t have to purchase anything else to read the little cards that they have in their cell phones.
Whew. That is a lot, but it is not hard once I got started and did it. It took three weeks to get a system down though. I spent all summer trying to do this, and then that, and then this again to make sure it would work. The effort is worth it though.
I recorded a class, synced the recording to my laptop, converted it to an MP3, uploaded to Edline, and let the class listen to it, all in the span of 3 minutes.
They ask me if I am recording and remind me now. That is successful. They tell me they listened to it over the weekend. That is successful.