Some Kindly Midwestern Advice on Scaling in K-12

Follow us on Twitter @Educelerate, like us on  or join our Meetups in Chicago, Twin Cities, LA and Colorado. Stories of frustrated founders quitting their old-line company jobs out of an inspiration to “hack EDU” from their garage figures frequently among the current class of EdTech start-ups.  But, in fact, you can go back decades to hear stories of hackers and programmers productizing their EDU domain expertise, building […]

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iDig Video #35: iOgrapher – Total Mobile Filmmaking for $600!

Apple Tech Update Conf: – an amazing new device for your video classroom – iOgrapher. For $600 you can have the most amazing rig: an iPad fitted with a shotgun mike, light source, tripod, and an app for digital video editing and uploading! Also James on the film “Gravity.”

Show Hosts: Jonathan Furst, Jim Crawford   

Here’s our Show Notes

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Help! Johnny Circled Me in Google Plus

Like many other schools, we have a firm social network policy that prohibits teachers from accepting Facebook friend requests from students. I get it. The notion of teachers and students being Facebook friends makes most people uncomfortable. If one of my students sends me a request, I reject it until he graduates. The notion of teachers and students being Facebook friends makes most people uncomfortable.

Naturally, when teachers get a similar notification in Google Plus, they also may feel that same uncomfortable impulse. However, there is no “reject” button when G+ notifies us that a student has added us to his circles. So what does it mean? It depends on how you use Google Plus.


I have a Google+ account but I never post anything

Poor Google+, most people don’t use it very much. If you’re not in the habit of posting articles, photos, or status updates to Google+, welcome to the very large I-don’t-use-Google-Plus club. If you’re a member, you have NOTHING to worry about. Your student who circled you sees nothing because you post nothing. End of story. Ignore the notification.

I post photos and other things to my Google+ circles

One of the features of Google+ is circles. You can have your “teacher” circle, your “spin class” circle, and your “wine book group” circle. Google+ allows you to focus your posts to match your diverse groups of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. As long as you don’t post publicly or put Johnny in one of your circles, he will not see the posts you submit. Likewise, you will not see his posts in your Google+ feed. Again, you can safely ignore the notification that he circled you.

I post to Google+ publicly

If you’re like me, you post things to Google+ publicly for the world to see. I do the same thing on Twitter and Facebook. No, I’m not an over-sharer (I don’t think). I have a personal policy not to post anything on social networking sites that I don’t want the world to see. Part of this policy is that I don’t trust Facebook. The other part is that I don’t trust my Facebook friends. Private posts on Facebook can easily become public thanks to a bonehead “friend” from high school. I post publicly on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus mostly because I’m always happy to expand my PLC, and public posts help me connect with more teachers, which means I learn more.
Back to the original issue. If you post publicly on Google+, then yes, anyone who puts you in a “circle” can see your public posts. But so can EVERYONE else. The only difference is that your posts will show up in their feed. I still don’t see this situation as anything different than having a public presence on the web (a good idea) and inviting the world to see it.

The Sticky Situation of Circling Students

This situation gets a little weird when you, as a teacher, start including students in your circles. I can imagine many great reasons to circle groups of students. Teachers can share documents, links, and other resources with classes using circles. However, the G+ Circle relationship between students and teachers starts to look very much like the Facebook Friend relationship. Like I said, this relationship is strange to many. I don’t go there.

Not logical, emotional

Most people have a narrow view of what Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ does. According to many, Twitter is for talking about your annoying breakfast (I had tasty fresh eggs thanks to my hens), Facebook is for seeing what happened to your high school friends (the dorks are winning), and Google Plus is for … umm.
The truth is, all of these social networks are communication tools. To me, they’re tools that fix the broken system of email, and the sooner we embrace them, the better. Google Plus’s killer app is HANGOUTS!

Until the world accepts these tools for what they are, teachers should use them carefully (and I believe publicly). But when Johnny “circles” you, you can safely ignore that notification.

The World Theatre Video Project- Join the Global Theatre Ensemble!

World Theatre Video Logo

Join the World Theatre Video Project- Let’s Create a Global Theatre Ensemble. The World Theatre Video Project was developed for Theatre students and teachers from all over the world connect and share their love of Theatre.  Through the use of video, we can create a World Theatre Ensemble using of Google’s Tools- YouTube, Google Sites, Google Forms, and Google Drive.


If you would like to find out more information please go to



Please share this with any Theatre, English/Language Arts or any other interested educators.




iDigVideo #30: WeVideo- The Future of Collaborative Video Creation!

WeVideo is a unique cloud-based collaborative video creation service that enables people all over the world to create and share great look videos. The sky is the limit for what you can do with WeVideo in your classroom! WeVideo’s CEO and co-founder Jostein Svendsen joins the podcast to discuss WeVideo and and share some of the amazing ways educators are using WeVideo with their  students! WeVideo is easy enough for first-time editors, and sophisticated enough to help anyone create a professional-looking video!

Show Hosts: Jonathan Furst, Jim Crawford 

Special Guests: Jostein Svendsen, Diana Madrigal

Here’s our Show Notes

Give us some feedback! Email to send us a note. Or leave a comment below. 


iDig Video #27: Writing, Film & “Good Will Hunting”

Phenom writing teacher Jenni Bonaldo joins us to share how she uses films  like “Good Will Hunting” to teach creative writing. She has developed some great ideas for teaching dialogue writing to her students and uses films in the process! We  also discuss how to create an environment so that students can go out on a limb to discover and communicate their vision for a project. Coming attractions: “Game of Thrones” is coming to the iDig Video studio!!!!

Show Hosts: Jonathan Furst, Jim Crawford 

Special Guest: Jenni Bonaldo

Here’s our Show Notes

Give us some feedback! Email to send us a note. Or leave a comment below. 

5 Reasons Teachers Should Own a Domain Name

This Site is Mine

You found this blogpost, so you are probably (a) an educator and (b) relatively tech-savvy, so why don’t you own your own domain name yet? The world of domain name ownership has changed, so step up your teaching game and buy your own domain name.

1. Getting one is simple and cheap.

Purchasing a domain used to be difficult, but many new domain services make the process painless and inexpensive. The first place many people try is the sleazy Gender politics aside, the process of purchasing through godaddy takes about as long as an AP Chemistry test. There are several much simpler and more palatable services that sell domain names including My favorite is, which sells domain names for $15 per year and offers amazing phone tech support. They’re not paying me, but if they did happen to want to sponsor the Google Educast, I’m sure Dan would take your call! Hover is great because of its simplicity. I can setup a domain, and in a few minutes, I’m live. They don’t try to sell you a ton of other products through the process.

2. Owning one is super useful.

If you do nothing else, you should get your own domain name so you can create your own custom URL shortener. Teachers who use technology are constantly asking students and others to go to different links on the web to articles, resources, and (of course) shared Google Documents. I use many tools to get people to various links including Twitter, my LMS (Haiku), and my blog, but often the fastest for me and for students is when I just write a URL on the whiteboard or display it on the projector.

Most domain name hosts will allow you to create forwards that make for simple and memorable URLs. For example, I own (my distant relative refused to sell me When I wanted my students to go to Diana Hacker’s Writer’s Reference site, I just created a forward and sent my students to rather than for everyone.

3. isn’t enough.

I’ve delivered years of trainings using for my agendas and resources, and I don’t think it’s very useful (by itself). The worst part of is that it produces a completely random string of characters that are actually difficult to type in a URL window and nearly impossible to memorize. Users also have to contend with the difference between O and 0 and l and I. Yes there are ways around this, but why must we deal with them. I’ve heard a horror story about a teacher accidently sending a student to a foreign porn site because she entered in a wrong character in the URL. Yikes.

4. But you can still use’s cool tracking features.

Forward your custom URL forward through a URL to maintain those tracking features. Easy.

5. Plenty of great domains available.

In five minutes I found the following short, simple, memorable, and descriptive URLs available for $15 / year.


You don’t have to use a .com address, but those might be slightly more memorable. I think it’s best to join two or three simple words without hyphens. It’s so much easier to read out your URL and end it with “one word,” and everyone will know what you mean.

What’s the best reason to own your own domain name? It feels awesome. It’s like marking your own little patch of grass on the internet where you tell the world, “That’s mine.”

Kaplan + TechStars EdTech Accelerator (Online Info Session Tonight April 2nd!)

KaplanEdTechAcceleratorA lot more education accelerators have been announced recently with the most notable being the partnership between Kaplan and TechStars, the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, and Pearson Catalyst  — not to overlook new efforts in Boston (LearnLaunch, which we covered extensively last month),  Brazil, Israel and London.

Of note, the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator is accepting applications through an April 14th deadline here and also hosting a livestream information session on their website tonight April 23rd at 7:00pm EST.

Their actual accelerator program will accept ten EdTech start-ups and runs from June to September 2013.  The program will be based in New York (joining Socratic Labs and the adjacent digital media accelerators Startl and DreamIt).

Now, if only there was a group working on creating EdTech accelerator efforts in Chicago and Los Angeles.

iDig Video #006 Video Apps and Social Media Policies!!

Don Goble from St. Louis re-joins us for the second part of our podcast on Video in the Classroom.  Don is a real pioneer in changing antiquated social media policies that are holding students  and teachers back in many school districts. Also an overview of some of the best Video Apps you can use in k-12 classrooms. What video apps are you using? What kind of innovative stuff are you doing with them? Hear how to share your ideas with us!

Show Host: Jonathan Furst, Jim Crawford

Special Guest: Don Goble

Here’s our Show Notes

Give us some feedback! Email to send us a note. Or leave a comment below. 

Mobile Reach #5 – Xoom in Schools

Mobile Reach Logo


Show Host: Scott Meech

Co-Hosts: Judi Epcke on Twitter @JEpcke, Tammy Lind @TamL17, Chad Kafka @chadkafka

Special guest: Kimberly Bannigan

Subscribe to The EdReach Podcasts on iTunes

Subscribe to the EdReach Podcast Feed.

The complete show notes are now on the EdReach Wiki.

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If you’d like to leave some feedback you can call us on our very own EdReach Comment line: That’s: (443) 93REACH.