Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The XO Laptop, A Kids Perspective

A nine year old in the UK reviews the $100 XO laptop, which has been distributed to children in developing countries around the world.

Technology Integration Made Easy

Are you anxious to integrate technology into your curriculum this year, but are intimidated by the time and tech savvy necessary to plan technology activities or participate in technology projects? Today, Education World offers 20 easy and painless ways to integrate technology into your daily routine. http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech146.shtml

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Facebook Tracks You On & Offline!

If you've ever used Facebook and checked the option to "Remember Me"...read this article.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cell Phones As Teaching Tools

From the title alone some may say "no way, they're a distraction that don't belong in the classroom." When one takes out the negatives we automatically associate with cell phones in the classroom you can see how they hold validity and great possibilities teachers could explore.
Cell Phones As Teaching Tools:
Calculators
Digital Cameras
Internet Access
Dictionaries

Monday, December 10, 2007

Laptop Initiative Research for Improved Student Achievement

As South Dakota implements the One-to-One Laptop Initiative and as schools contemplate beginning it in their schools, the request for research on the improvement of student achievement continually come forward as one of the major concerns.

McREL News Room Education hot topics what high-quality education research says about the effects of this initiative has on student achievement.
. 1. The effects of one-to-one computing initiatives on student achievement. According to a May 2006 report from Education Week, "almost one-quarter of school districts nationwide and nine states have invested millions of dollars in "one-to-one" laptop programs" — that is, laptop computers for every student.

These initiatives are expensive and require much effort. Are they worth it?
While few rigorous research studies have been conducted on the influence of laptop initiatives on student achievement, the handful of current studies conducted to date suggest that one-to-one computing has the potential to improve student achievement and engagement — especially teachers receive in-depth training on how to incorporate laptops into their classrooms.

Some examples of one-to-one initiatives and reported influence of these programs on student outcomes are described below.

Maine's Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) MLTI provides each student and teacher in grades 7–12 with a laptop and wireless network access.
A 2004 study of the program found "credible evidence that MLTI as a total program may be effective in raising test scores" (Muir, Knezek, & Christensen, 2004, p. 1). Silvernail and Lane (2004) surveyed Maine ninth-grade students who had used laptops in seventh and eighth grade but no longer had school-provided laptops in ninth grade. Their survey indicated that many ninth graders felt that "the quantity and quality of their school work had declined once they no longer had laptops" (p. 26).

Enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies (eMINTS)Initiated in Missouri and expanded nationwide in early 2004, this large-scale endeavor provides a computer for every two students and high-speed Internet access, along with extensive professional development and ongoing support in integrating multimedia technology into teaching practice.
An analysis of 2004 student achievement data compared students in eMINTS classrooms with those in non-eMINTS classrooms. It found that "a significantly higher percentage of students enrolled in eMINTS classrooms scored in the "proficient" category." In addition, it reported that "analyses of MAP scores for Black students, special education students and students receiving Title I services suggest that eMINTS enrollment helped reduce the achievement gaps between these groups and other students."

School District 60 (Peace River North, British Columbia)In Peace River North, sixth- and seventh-grade students have been provided access to laptops in order to improve academic achievement, particularly in written expression. The initiative, dubbed the Wireless Writing Project, involves one-to-one wireless technology access for students.
A 2002–2003 study involving a pre-post writing assessment found that the percentage of students who produced writing samples that met or exceeded writing performance standards for their grade rose from 70 percent in fall 2002 to 92 percent the following spring (Jeroski, 2003).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Audio/Music Software and Song Creation

Audio/Music Software and Song Creation

Click on the link directly above to read this entry on TIE's ConnectEd blog.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Internet Scavenger Hunt

December is an extremely difficult time to keep students focused in the classroom as the holidays approach. Many elementary teachers like to incorporate the ways different countries celebrate the holidays. Below is one way an elementary teacher from Georgia not only incorporates the holidays but also the internet into teaching about Christmas around the world.

http://www.henry.k12.ga.us/pges/xmas_around.htm

Technology Self Assessment Tool

At a time when technology is moving at warp speed and students often know more about the latest technology than teachers how can we keep up? The Massachusetts Department of Education has developed a check list for individuals and districts to assess their technology skills. After a review not only does it offer a self assessment but I believe it could be used as a teaching tool for students in regards to ethics, computers and the internet.
"The TSAT has been designed for:
Teachers: to determine their own levels of technology proficiency and to identify personal technology professional development needs.
Schools/Districts: to assess their professional development needs and to plan professional development activities that will help all teachers become proficient in technology.
The State: to gather and report data on technology competencies and technology professional development. "
http://www.doe.mass.edu/edtech/standards/sa_tool.html

Friday, November 30, 2007

Low Cost Computers for Schools

I have previously written about the potential of Linux in education
Dell Pushing Linux? May25, 2007. Technology & Learning this month has a cover story about the growing role of Linux in schools. Some points of the article apply directly to technology efforts in South Dakota:

Techlearning: Linux Makes the Grade - November 15, 2007
Today,more than 100,000 Indiana school kids (in all, 300,000 high schoolers are slated to receive one) have their own $298 computer and monitor with numerous free software applications, and, in turn, schools across the state have secure, reliable, sophisticated server systems thanks to Linux-based open source technology. In other words, instead of using computers set to run either Microsoft or Apple operating systems, Indiana school children were given desktops running a Linux-based OS (in this case, distribution packages offered by Red Hat, Novell, and Ubuntu) and with preinstalled free open source software (commonly referred to as FOSS), much of it mimicking popular but expensive programming such as the comprehensive office suites offered by major companies. Did Indiana children mind? "Who cares?" one student quipped to Michael Huffman, special assistant for technology, as he surveyed the one-to-one program's success across the state. "Is Linux the answer? Obviously we think so," says Huffman, who estimates software costs total only $5 per machine annually. "It's the only model we've come up with that is affordable, repeatable, and sustainable. If you look at a lot of other states that have had laptop initiatives, I think there is a real breakdown. And there are a lot of them that aren't continuing. There are schools that have gone out and bought a lot of laptops, but there is no plan for four years down the road [emphasis mine]. That's why we went with open source," Huffman says. Indeed, Indiana and other large school systems like San Diego and Atlanta have joined the until-now quiet, albeit multibillion-dollar, revolution in computing.
The article describes how Linux has evolved from a closet machine to a desktop OS:
In the past, Linux was largely relegated to the back office as an operating system, out of sight of most teachers and students. But recent friendlier developments, including a graphical user interface, have made it increasingly viable for schools.

Now it's come out of the closet as districts seek even more innovative ROI solutions.

According to a Compass Intelligence report, spending on IT personnel is anticipated to drop 5 percent a year, to $2.4 billion by 2010. And federal funding of the last protected block grant for technology, Enhancing Education Through Technology, has been steadily chipped away at since 2005.

Today, old computers that would have been tossed out are being "repurposed" and set up either as desktops with a Linux OS (which tends to boot up faster with mature hardware than rival Microsoft) or transformed into "thin clients" (meaning, they are run off software housed on a school system server).

Network servers are being "virtualized" with technology—rapidly being deployed in the education industry—that allows singleapplication servers to simultaneously run UNIX, Microsoft, and Apple.

Cheaper technology, coupled with FOSS adoption, has freed up money in many districts' tech budgets, allowing them to reinvest in IT training or broader professional development, or to bring even more computers or Internet-connected devices into the classroom.
I personally bought a $350 laptop (with Vista Home Basic and 0.5 Gb memory--it was nearly impossible to use it was so slow!), wiped out the hard drive, and installed Ubuntu Linux. We now have a low cost machine with browser, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation (all saving in MS Office format), graphics, and music software. The cost would have been even lower if I hadn't had to pay the "Microsoft tax" for the OEM Windows (Best Buy had the same laptop as a black Friday special for $229).

The interface and installation process have improved enormously in recent months. Has there been a learning curve for making it work? Certainly. But computer 2 was so much quicker to implement. I am now not "scared" to do more Linux machines as more hardware deals become available.

Are there features lost by moving to Linux? Certainly the tablet features of the Classroom Connections machines are more powerful. But at a cost factor of 2-5 Linux computers for every Windows tablet (or Macintosh), education cannot continue to ignore Linux for future implementations. It is incumbent on SD schools to start testing Linux machines with students to see firsthand the feasibility of using these tools in our schools.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Compose Your Own Music!!!

I was doing a school visit this week and met a teacher who showed me Finale NotePad. She was using the program to take a piece of music that was for a soloist and organizing it into a composition for a group. This is a free download!!! Of course, there are versions with more bells and whistles, but they also have a cost.

http://www.finalemusic.com/notepad/
http://www.macmusic.org/software/view.php/lang/en/id/2216/

from macmusic.com:
Basic Music NotationFinale NotePad is the free version of the famous music notation software Finale. NotePad allows you to make simple scores, with a number of basic features borrowed from its sibling Finale. It's also critical to compatibility, since users who don't own Finale can open any file made with a Finale-family program in NotePad.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Vista Tips

Be sure to visit Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows Vista Showcase to find more information about installation and service packs. Particularly interesting are the tips readers have sent in about using Vista:





Attack of the 50 Foot Tall Windows Vista Tips2007-04-03
Revenge of More Windows Vista Tips2007-03-10
Son of More Windows Vista Tips2007-03-07
Still More Windows Vista Tips2007-03-04
More Windows Vista Tips2007-02-28
Windows Vista Tips for IT Pros2007-02-26


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Electronic Paper

Amazon just released it's new e-reader called Kindle and one can only imagine they are thinking this will be the spark of a new revolution to end the paper book as we know it and replace them all with these lightweight powerful machines. Read more and watch the video here.
At $399, I don't think we'll be seeing them everywhere just yet, but it does create another avenue of thinking about digital text and wireless access.
PC World Review Boing Boing Review ZDNet Review

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Click on the link directly above to read this posting on the TIE Leadership blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

101 Gadgets that Changed the World

When we think of technology, our thoughts immediately center on computers and electronics. Have you ever thought of barbed wire as technology? It has made the list of 101 gadgets that changed the world. Of course, ipods, radios, and the like are listed. It's an interesting list, beginning with the abacus. Check it out:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/technology/article3129960.ece#

One Laptop Per Child

http://www.popgadget.net/2007/11/give_a_laptop_g.php

Now you can participate in the Give One/Get One. The article provides links to register for the program.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Low-cost Laptops Battling for Markets


It used to be easy to write off the hardware specs of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) device, called XO, as a novelty. They were designing what appeared to be a low power laptop for sale only to 3rd-world countries. But the trend can be ignored no more.

First of all, it is not low-powered--rather is a different paradigm of what is needed in a laptop. If you look at this device with a mentality of the large-storage-with-huge-applications implementation of todays computers, you will likely miss the concept. The XO takes a different approach: Laptop With a Mission Widens Its Audience - New York Times
There’s no CD/DVD drive at all, no hard drive and only a 7.5-inch screen. The Linux operating system doesn’t run Microsoft Office, Photoshop or any other standard Mac or Windows programs. The membrane-sealed, spillproof keyboard is too small for touch-typing by an adult. And then there’s the look of this thing. It’s made of shiny green and white plastic, like a Fisher-Price toy, complete with a handle. With its two earlike antennas raised, it could be Shrek’s little robot friend. And sure enough, the bloggers and the ignorant have already begun to spit on the XO laptop. “Dude, for $400, I can buy a real Windows laptop,” they say. Clearly, the XO’s mission has sailed over these people’s heads like a 747.
The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough — some of them not available on any other laptop, for $400 or $4,000...
As you read further, there are many well-thought out features available on this machine. Truly, it is not a low power machine.

Another reason one cannot ignore the low-cost laptop trend is that the competition is heating up. The Intel/Microsoft coalition now produces the Classmate PC that is going after the same market as OLPC: eSchool News online - Low-cost laptop deals heat up
Low-cost laptop deals heat up-- Intel, OLPC supply special computers to students in developing nations. Mere hours after news broke that Uruguay's government placed the first official order for the One Laptop Per Child initiative's XO, or "$100 laptop," chip giant Intel Corp. announces that Libya has ordered 150,000 of Intel's own version of the low-cost laptop, the Classmate PC.
Other low-cost laptop companies are now getting into the fray: Cheap Linux PCs may pressure One Laptop Per Child | InfoWorld
Cheap Linux PCs may pressure One Laptop Per Child--Non-profit OLPC's XO notebook has jumped from its original estimated price of $100 and now faces pricing competition from commercial laptops

As component prices drop, the aggressive pricing of commercial Linux notebooks could hamper efforts by One Laptop Per Child to supply inexpensive laptops to children in developing markets. Asustek recently shipped its Linux-based Eee PC, and Everex on Thursday said it would soon sell Linux-based PCs with an x86 processor for under $300. Those competitive prices may draw buyers to commercial laptops over One Laptop Per Chilld's (OLPC's) specialized XO laptops, which will carry a $200 price tag when it ships on Nov. 12, analysts said.
Why should educators in our area even be concerned? Looking at the sheer volume of tech R&D and sales that go into these laptops, it is virtually impossible for the technology/features of these laptops to not creep into the laptop market of the US. The problem is that if our attention is focused solely on the traditional Gateway/Dell/HP/Apple commercial laptop offerings, we may get broadsided. I suspect it is really in our best interest to keep a pulse on where these technologies go because it will most likely show up in our schools in the very near future.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Web 2.0 Tools and Dropout Rates

This year the Los Angeles Unified School District started a new initiative entitled MyFutureMyDecision: utilizing Web 2.0 Technology such as Myspace and You Tube, along with POWER 160 a local radio station and text messenging to aid in decreasing their dropout rate. The district hopes that this new endeavor will reach students through a medium they know and utilize daily. Myspace and You Tube will feature former dropouts sharing why they returned to school and the benefits they are now experiencing because they returned. Along with allowing those who may be at risk of dropping out to voice their concerns in hopes to keep them in the school system. The project also features counselors who target at-risk students in hopes of retaining them before dropping out. Once a student decides to remain in the system or returns to the system, Web 2.0 technology is being utilized to offer online courses for those who may have to work or do not feel equipped to return to a traditional school setting. Will these efforts retain students or bring back those who have already left? The answers may not yet be clear but the potential benefits are numerous.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Next Version of JPEG is Microsoft's format


JPEG is the standard for photo sharing, particularly on the internet. Now a new proposed version, JPEG RX, is based on a Microsoft standard.

Electronista | Microsoft format to become JPEG successor
Microsoft format to become JPEG successor
The multinational Joint Photographic Experts Group, responsible for the JPEG standard used in virtually all mainstream imaging, has announced that the next iteration of its standard will be based on Microsoft's HD Photo format. HD Photo is built into Windows Vista, and was originally dubbed Windows Media Photo, hoped to offer some degree of proprietary control for the company; in its new incarnation however it will be called JPEG XR, and remain neutral as with the current JPEG technology...


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Apple Leopard Technical Review

Even if you do not have Macs, often the technology they implement shows up in other areas. Here is a more technical review of Apple's Leopard that talks about OpenDirectory/ActiveDirectory, user backup systems, scripting, user interface, & security (including application sandboxing).

Not Just Another Leopard Review -- InformationWeek

Another in-depth review:

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: the Ars Technica review: Page 1


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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Virtually Speaking........

I spent an evening with a group of friends discussing virtual worlds. We specifically talked about an eighteen-year-old high school graduate who is hooked on Second Life. In Second Life, one can create an avatar, explore, meet people, and can buy property to build a house or start a business. Apparently, people who start businesses in this virtual world are making real money, not virtual money. I found this interesting so I did a search online for virtual worlds. I didn’t realize there were so many of them: Weblo, 3b, There, and IMVU just to name a few. It makes me wonder how this will affect the educational community. Will teachers see these as teaching tools or annoyances? Will shy students become more confident? I guess only “virtual” time will tell.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Forgetful? Email junkie? This might help!

There is a service online called jott where you can call their number from anywhere and leave a message for yourself, or for a group of your friends or coworkers, and it will translate your voice message into text and email you or your group. So if you've ever found yourself needing to remember vital information, but without a pen handy, just use your trusty cell phone to send yourself an email instead! There are also some very neat options for blogging from your cell (I did this the old fashioned way by typing it in) or using your cell to Twitter. The online service is free, but phone charges will vary by your agreement.


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Friday, October 19, 2007

Digital Students at Analog Schools

This video was created by university students about their university experiences, but in too many of our K-12 classrooms, for a variety of reasons, the same situation exists--students are experiencing learning that is not taking advantage of all the tools they have access to outside the classrooms, and we are doing them a disservice by not teaching to their individuals needs as learners. Here's what these students had to say.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Google now incorporating YouTube layer



Google LatLong: Now Playing: YouTube videos in Google Earth
Now Playing: YouTube videos in Google Earth
Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 6:25 AM
Posted by Amin Charaniya, Software Engineer, Google Earth

Now you can find YouTube videos connected to specific locations right in Google Earth. Our new browseable layer of geotagged videos works a lot like our Google Book Search layer, only it shows you the locations referenced in specific videos instead of books. Let's say you're jetting off to Paris. Before you go, you can watch the sunset filmed from the top floor of the Eiffel Tower, among other clips of popular spots in the City of Lights.You'll find this new layer in the 'Featured Content' folder in the left-side panel of Google Earth. Just click on the 'YouTube' button, and icons will begin to appear all over the globe. You can search for videos of your favorite places or browse videos of your dream vacation destination. More videos will appear as you zoom into a particular place. And you have the option of either playing them in Google Earth or viewing them on YouTube.


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Monday, October 8, 2007

Flash/Magnetic Hard Drive Hybrids

PCWorld tests the new hard drives that combine flash with magnetic hard disks. The advantages is quicker save times and lower power requirements. This may be a trend worth watching.

PC World - Tested: New Hybrid Hard Drives From Samsung and Seagate
Tested: New Hybrid Hard Drives From Samsung and Seagate
These drives promise the best of both the magnetic-hard-disk and flash-disk worlds. Do they live up to that promise?


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Friday, October 5, 2007

Should schools block social networks/communication tools or utlize them?

While most educators recognize that social networks/communication via technology are used by many students, I suspect most of us underestimate their utilization. A new study finds their use more widespread that we may realize:

eSchool News online - Online social networks hold promise for learning
October 1, 2007—Creating content and connecting with their peers online is nearly ubiquitous for students ages 9 to 17 who have internet access, a new survey reveals: Only one in 20 teens and "tweens" surveyed said they have not used social-networking technologies such as chatting, text-messaging, blogging, or visiting online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Webkinz. What's more, students report that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social-networking scene is education--suggesting that schools have a huge, but largely untapped, opportunity to harness these technologies in support of student learning. Released Aug. 14 by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and Grunwald Associates LLC, the survey shows that 96 percent of students with online access use social-networking technologies. Nearly 60 percent of these students report discussing education-related topics online, such as college or college planning, learning outside of school, and careers. And half of online students say they talk specifically about schoolwork. "There is no doubt that these online teen hangouts are having a huge influence on how kids today are creatively thinking and behaving," said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA's executive director. "The challenge for school boards and educators is that they have to keep pace with how students are using these tools in positive ways and consider how they might incorporate this technology into the school setting."
Educators tend to overlook the educational pluses for using these kinds of technology. Because they can be difficult to "control" it is easier to simply ban them, and many schools have:
Students also say they are spending nearly as much time using social-networking services and web sites as they spend watching television. Among teens who use social-networking sites, that amounts to about nine hours a week online, compared with 10 hours a week watching TV. Yet, most K-12 school systems have stringent rules against nearly all forms of online social networking during the school day, according to the survey--even though students and parents report few problem behaviors online. More than eight in 10 districts have rules against online chatting and instant messaging in school, the survey suggests, and more than six in 10 have rules against participating in blogs. Sixty percent also prohibit students from sending and receiving eMail while in school, and 52 percent ban the use of social-networking sites on campus. In light of the survey's findings, school leaders should consider reexamining their policies and explore ways they could use social networking for educational purposes, its authors say. "Schools that incorporate social-networking tools in education can help engage kids and move them toward the center of the learning process," said Peter Grunwald of Grunwald Associates.
Educators should engage in more dialog weighing the educational positives aspects of these tools against the negatives and find ways to reduce the negatives. Where should this dialog occur? At a state level? Possibly, but school districts need to formalize the how/where/who process for these types of discussions to develop.

Most schools have processes for reviewing only hardware, software, and textbooks to be purchased, but educators must move beyond those older models. Without formally addressing web-based services and communication as an educational tool (not just the technical review), implementation of these technologies will occur haphazardly because the path of least effort/resistance is to just block them. We cannot continue to distance ourselves from the "real" world of students by continually blocking technology that has such educational
potential.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Microsoft offering new Office Live Workspace

Microsoft is offering a new capability to match their competitors web offerings by providing Office Live Workspace.

Microsoft Joins Online Productivity Battle With Office Live Workspaces -- Microsoft Office
"Peopleare e-mailing documents all the time," said Eric Gilmore, a Microsoft senior product manager for Microsoft Office. "That's an inefficient way to do things when you want to work together."Business users are desperate for better online, real-timecollaboration, and Microsoft has been seen as a laggard behind the likes of Google, with its online Docs & Spreadsheets, and Zoho, which also offers an online productivity suite. Both are free, don't require a download, and let users edit and share documents online. So far, they have only some of the functionality of Office, particularly Excel and PowerPoint, and that's one of the main reasons they haven't
been a big threat to Office's stronghold.
Office Live Workspace mixes Web functionality with a small download. With it, people can save a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document to the Workspace Web site by clicking a toolbar button in their Office app itself. Authors can store, share, or allow others to comment on or even edit the documents, and have granular control over who they let in. The site lets non-Office users view and comment on documents as well as Office users. Much of that is reminiscent of what employees at larger
businesses can do with SharePoint, though Microsoft won't say for now whether Office Live Workspace is based on SharePoint. There's also a tie-in with Outlook's tasks and events features, though Microsoft isn't yet saying how that works.

The New York Times describes how, unlike their web-based competitors, users still need Office on their computers.

Storing Files on the Internet, Microsoft Style - New York Times
Microsoft is making announcements today that it plans to offer a free service, called Office Live Workspace, that will allow people to store, access and share documents online. A user will be able store up to 1,000 documents on a workspace on the Web.

But a Word or Excel document in the online workspace can be edited only if the user has bought Microsoft’s Word or Excel software. “The ideal case is where a person has Office,” said Rajesh Jha, a vice president for Microsoft Office Live products.

In an offering for larger companies, Microsoft will host the data center software for e-mail, workgroup collaboration and instant messaging and provide those as online services to corporate customers with 5,000 or more users of Microsoft Office desktop software, a product second only to Windows as a profit maker for the software giant.

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eSchoolNews: More changes at Gateway Computer

eSchoolNews explains how Idaho-based MPC is set to take over Gateway's professional business unit in a deal that closely follows Acer's acquisition of Gateway's consumer business:
eSchool News online - MPC acquires Gateway's school business
Just days after Taiwanese computer maker Acer Inc. announced plans to acquire Gateway Inc. for $710 million, Gateway's school customers learned they will have a new supplier for sales, service, and support: Gateway has agreed to sell its professional business unit to Nampa, Idaho-based MPC Corp. in a separate, $90 million deal.

Under the deal, MPC Computers--a wholly owned subsidiary of MPC Corp.--will take responsibility for operations and warranty support services at Gateway's professional business division, which sells computers and other services to education, commercial, and government customers.

"We believe that the customers of MPC and Gateway's professional business will benefit greatly from this combination," said John P. Yeros, chairman and CEO of MPC Corp.

"The new company will be totally focused on the markets of government, education, and small-and-medium business, and it will develop products and services to meet the specific needs of these customers. It will have the scale to enable it to compete better against larger rivals in the PC industry. In addition, our customers will gain access to a wider range of PC products and services and continue to enjoy high-quality, U.S.-based service and support."

The combined revenues of the two businesses in 2006 were $1.2 billion, MPC said, which will make MPC one of the top computer companies in the U.S. targeting the professional markets of business, education, and government when the deal closes in early October.

MPC said it will continue to offer Gateway Professional products in the short term but will move branding from the Gateway name to the MPC brand within a year.



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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Japan to Open G-Rated Virtual World

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/09/28/virtual.tokyo.ap/index.html

Japan's "meet-me" is a virtual world that is designed to be "orderly, pornography-free, and safe for children."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is User Education Pointless?

While this question sounds like it is from technology staff having a really bad day, it is actually the main question for an older article posted on C/Net. The issue is:
"Might it be so that we use the term and concept of user education as a way to cover up our failure?" he asked a crowd of security professionals. "Is it not somewhat telling them to do our job? To make them be a part of the IT organization and do the things that we are bound to do as a specialized organization?"
In Gorling's view, the answer to those questions is yes. In corporations in particular the security task belongs with IT departments, not users, he argued. Just as accounting departments deal with financial statements and expense reports, IT departments deal with computer security, he said. Users should worry about their jobs, not security..."I don't believe user education will solve problems with security because security will always be a secondary goal for users," Gorling said. "In order for security to work, it must be embedded in the process. It must be designed so that it does not conflict with the users' primary goal. It can't work if it interferes."
Security expert: User education is pointless | CNET News.com



I can certainly agree that technology security needs to depend less on the user and more on the security process/infrastructure. But it is important to note the final point above: "It must be designed so that it does not conflict with the users' primary goal. It can't work if it interferes."


Too often IT security measures are implemented in the name of "protecting" the user from himself/herself. Unfortunately, the user many times finds the solution a hindrance to their work, primarily because it is impossible for tech staff to know the impact of their security measures on all users' needs. Often IT staff don't even know how these measures are a hindrance as there is no natural feedback loop when implementing security. An increasing number of educators complain silently because they believe tech staff are unresponsive.

Education must do more to provide a process for dialog between educators and technology staff. There is growing dissatisfaction from educators statewide, particularly over filtering and locking down (or "managing" as many IT staff wish to call it). Many practices are interfering with the users' primary goal: educating students. Tech staff need to avoid turning a deaf ear to the hindrance issues in the name of security, and educators also need to better understand the security ramifications of opening systems for their education needs.

So, back to the original question: Is user education pointless? No, rather it is a poor question; it assumes a communication flow in one direction only: tech-->user. Rather, the question should be:
"Can we develop a dialog between technology staff and users that is responsive to both security needs and education needs?"
If we do not, tech staff and educators will continually find themselves at odds rather than working on solutions together. It is in everyone's best interest to develop a better, more responsive feedback loop to the IT security process.

And soon.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Senate bill aims to address web safety

I just read a great article from eSchool News Online and was thrilled to see a new view on social networking and communication in schools. I would like to share a few exerpts from the ISTE discussion of the new legislation. Hopefully, this will generate some good discussion:
On August 7, 2007 a new Senate bill requires schools receiving federal eRate funds to educate students about internet safety and block students' access to social-networking web sites or chat rooms unless supervised.

Under the bill, schools receiving telecommunications discounts would have to educate students about appropriate online behavior, such as how to interact properly with others on social-networking sites and in chat rooms, and how to recognize and respond to cyber bullying.

"We now see a bill that asks schools to take their proper role in teaching safe and responsible use of the internet, rather than trying to block emerging communication and social-networking systems with great potential for positively engaging students and improving learning," said Don Knezek, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.

"One of a school's primary functions is to ensure safety and build responsible citizens, and trying to block every threatening activity that goes on in society is not a formula for effective education."

The complete story may be found at: http://www.eschoolnews.com//news/showStoryts.cfm?ArticleID=7298
Marcia Torgrude

Monday, September 3, 2007

Google Earth Adds Astronomy Feature

With this new feature, users can now view heavenly objects, including stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth's moon within Google Earth (GE), based on the user's current location on earth within the software. GE also provides additional visual/text information within the Layers panel, including Constellations, Backyard Astronomy, Hubble Showcase, The Moon, The Planets, User's Guide to Galaxies, and Life of a Star.

Considering the cost (free), Google Earth is an amazingly robust educational tool--a tool that can be used with just about any content area, particularly social studies and science. Tech coordinators around South Dakota should make this tool an absolute must-install for all educational computers.

Viewing the Sky - Google Earth User Guide
UPDATE:
It has been reported that the latest version of Google Earth has a flight simulator easter egg that is accessible by pressing Ctrl-Alt-A.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

IT Advice

eWeek has published a brief but timely article that is applicable to our work in education:

10 More Stupid Things Smart IT People Still Do

Here is a sampling of easy trappings they recommend you avoid:
  • Cast a jaded eye on emerging technologies and modes of delivering technology.
  • Ignore investment in training and professional development.
  • Look at security purely from a technical standpoint.
  • Don't let vendors set the technology timetable, but also don't
    stay informed about forthcoming updates and their potential benefits.

  • Don't make time for reading news and analysis, especially for reading industry and peer-driven blogs.
  • Let your disaster recovery plan lie dormant.
You can view all ten items of advice at eWeek.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Hack or Not to Hack

Last spring I visited a laptop school in South Dakota. The kids were very open about their attempts to work around the system in order to access the information they want. The tech director agreed that it was a constant battle to keep ahead of the game. I wondered about the learning that was occuring through the attempts to work around the system. In Everything Bad is Good For You, author Steven Johnson proclaims that students are actually getting smarter because of their contact with computers, computer games, complex television shows and movies.

My laptop school experience came back to me this week when I heard about the iPhone hacker. Apparently a teenager did some fairly simple re-engineering and created a work around for the new iPhone. It allows it to function outside of the AT&T's wireless system. Perhaps all the practice he was getting at school paid off and now he will be recruited by engineering schools and cell phone companies. Now others are coming on the scene (as referenced in the linked article above) with more solutions for the iPhone.

So is it a good thing that our kids are learning to "think outside the proverbial box" or are we just spinning our wheels by trying to block them from what adults believe to be non-educational content? Can we expect students to learn the same way we do? Is our time better spent teaching them about responsiblity and proper usage of the internet or devising new ways to shut them down?

Friday, August 24, 2007

A computer in your Bic?

The evolution of technology is staggering, especially when you consider the short time frame. Twenty years ago, cell phones were not a standard. Today, almost everyone has one and is using it for communication, internet access, storing music, and watching videos, just to name a few. Can computers get any smaller? In fact, they can. The digital pen is a little-known tool that has been around for a while, but it simply has not been perfected enough to be popular in the mainstream.
In the article, "Is the Digital Pen Mightier?" it seems there is new hope for the digital pen. Don't throw away your Bic just yet, but be patient.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

IPv6--When's the right time to get ready?

The current system of IP addresses is slated to run out of addresses as early as 2010, so IPv6, the next generation of IP addressing, is gaining more attention. As noted in this PCWorld article, training for network administrators is growing in importance.

PC World - IPv6 Requires Learning Curve for Network Admins
The concerns were over the implementations and not the actual IPv6 protocol, she noted. "It's not intuitive to an administrator what's IPv6-capable and what's not, and what supports what, so we had to walk [the testers] through the process," she said. "That's not going to work and can slow a person down many days." She cited as an example one administrator who was setting up a file server with IPv6, a process that took about a month. The implications for businesses include the fact that IT managers need to do an inventory of what network nodes will remain on IPv4, and what will be implemented on IPv6 as a business grows, Johnson said. In addition, human resources departments need to be prepared for added training costs to prepare network engineers. "We got a lot of questions on how you set this up. We had to step back and say there's definitely a learning curve here," Johnson added. IPv6, the emerging IP networking standard, offers businesses worldwide the promise of a seemingly infinite number of IP addresses, and that will help make it possible to network the explosion of new servers, laptops, phones and printers.

When is the appropriate time for education tech coordinators to focus
on this standard and the implications? Because of the complexities of
mixing and converting to this standard, it may be prudent to acquire
awareness levels of reading and training now in preparation
for implementation down the road. Ideas/suggestions for where and how would be welcome here.





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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Multi Touch User Interface

If any of you are David Pogue fans like I am, you will recognize this as a blatant re-telling of his Circuits email article on the same topic. Still, it's way cool, and if you haven't thought much about digital whiteboards, this brings an entirely new emphasis to that medium. While these nifty new devices are not yet available to the average Joe, unless you happen to be the average Joe with a new iPhone, the fact that they are currently being marketed to businesses means it is only a matter of time before they trickle down to the educational markets. So, for quick look to the future of interactivity, grab your favorite candy bar and a beverage and take 5--watch this four minute video from Popular Mechanics (it might take a minute to download) and enjoy the show.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SD ranks near bottom in bandwidth speeds

South Dakota is 2nd to last in a state by state ranking of bandwidth speeds, and the US came in 16th for rankings with other nations in a report by SpeedMatters.org. David Warlick posted this blog about the reports:
2¢ Worth » State-by-State Bandwidth Ranking

eSchool News online quotes that large gaps exist among the average download speeds of various states as well as nations.

A pair of reports form speematters.org:

Broadband Mapping and Data Collection
Testimony of CWA President Larry Cohen before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

ViewDocument (PDF 40 kb) May 17, 2007 | Category: Data, Defining High Speed, Need
for National Policy


The Broadband Fact Book
This publication, from the Internet Innovation Alliance, presents a wide array of information
about broadband in the
U.S.--user demographics, data on speeds and availablity, and statistics ono the growth of the internet.
View Document (PDF 2.7 mb)
June 1, 2007 | Category: Data, Economic Growth

Interesting quotes from the factbook:

Less than 25% of rural Americans have
broadband connections
By the end of 2005, 24% of rural Americans had high-speed Internet connections at home compared with 39% of adult Americans living elsewhere. In 2003, 9% of rural Americans had
broadband at home, less than half the rate (22%) of urban and suburban Americans. For overall Internet use (by whatever connection from any location), the penetration rate for adult rural Americans lagged the rest of the country by 8% at the
end of 2005 (a 62% to 70% margin). This is about half the gap that existed at the end of 2003, Pew Internet & American Life Project reports.

Japanese can get 8.5 times the speed for
one-twelfth the cost
U.S.

consumer pay more for slower speeds. In the
U.S., DSL generally reaches speeds of up to 1.5 — 3.0 mbps at a price averaging $30-$50 per month (not including fees) while cable modems generally reach speeds of 3-5 mbps for $40-$50 per month. In Japan, the cost of an average connection with the speed of 26 mbps costs about $22.
The contrast is even more striking when expressed in terms of cost per 100 kbps. The top speed generally available in
Japan is 51 mbps at a cost of $0.06 per 100 kbps. The top speed generally available
in the
U.S. is 6 mbps available at a cost of $0.72 per 100 kbps. In other words, the Japanese have 8.5 times the speed at 1/12 of the cost.

Broadband telework – time savings equivalent
to 4 weeks of vacation a year
A survey conducted by Sage Research offers further evidence of the benefits of IP communications. 100 organizations that have deployed IP communications reported an average benefit of 4.3 hours per week (or 28 days a year) for each remote worker.

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NECC 2007 - Keynote

NECC 2007 - Keynote

Click the link directly above to view the entry in the TIE Lead blog...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

NECC 2007 - Google Earth

Staggeringly Good Things Integrating Media and Google Earth

Click on the link directly above to view this entry in the TIE Teach blog...

NECC 2007 - Virtual Worlds

How Virtual Worlds Help Real Students: The River City MUVE

Please click on the link directly above to read this entry in the TIE Teach blog...

NECC 2007 - Assessing Students' and Teachers' Technology Skills: NETS as Benchmarks

Mila Fuller of ISTE hosted a panel session
Assessing Students' and Teachers' Technology Skills: NETS as Benchmarks
Three organizations shared their resources for assessing technology skills:
Certiport | Home - Microsoft certification in basic computer skills
Nita Brooks, K12 Solutions
662-621-8948 nbrooks@certiport.com

TechLiteracy Assessment : measures and reports technology literacy for elementary and middle school students
Laia Jackson, Market Manager
800-580-4640 direct 503-517-4445 ajackson@learning.com

PBS TeacherLine | PBS
Tim Lum, Director of Marketing
tdlum@pbs.org

My notes from this session can be found at:
LS Notes: Assessing Students' and Teachers' Technology Skills: NETS as Benchmarks




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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Warlick's Nuggets

Reporting from NECC 2007:
At the beginning of David Warlick's workshop he acknowledged there would be points in the workshop when we might mentally "check out" because he might be covering information with which we are already familiar. At these times he invited us to explore some Web 2.0 nuggets listed on his wikispace. He invited us to become experts on one of these nuggets and report to the group later. What a great instructional strategy for a group of diverse learners.

Podcasting from NECC

To read a post about podcasting from NECC, please visit the Teach Blog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New National Student Technology Standards Released

See this post in the TIE Teach Blog
click the link above to read more about the new NETS standards.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Backup storage cartridges and Hi-Def video cameras

David Pogue of the New York Times explains and reviews a variety of technology products via articles and podcasts. He recently discussed the advantages and disadvantages of Data Storage Cartridges for backup storage, and also warns about marketing hype of the emerging market of HD cameras:



David Pogue

David Pogue, The Times's personal technology columnist, reports weekly on new technology.


NYT: David Pogue for 06/08/2007
This week: Hi-Def video cameras.



NYT: David Pogue for 05/31/2007
This week: Data storage cartridges.




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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vista, IE patches to note

eWeek repoorts:



Critical IE, Vista Flaws Patched

June 12, 2007


Internet Explorer is suffering from six vulnerabilities, five privately reported and one publicly disclosed, all of which are addressed in security bulletin MS07-033. Microsoft officials said June 12 that all but one of the IE flaws could allow system hijacking if a user were to visit a malicious Web page. One of the flaws allows spoofing and also requires a malicious Web page visit.

In all cases of possible remote code execution, users who have configured IE to have fewer user rights could be at less risk than those running IE with administrative rights. For one of the vulnerabilities—the spoofing problem—user interaction is required.




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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Keeping up with federal laws on storing school electronic communicaitons

In December federal law mandated that schools/organizations keep all digital communications and files produced by employees. An informal survey by a data management company finds many schools are not yet meeting the demands of the requirements. According to eSchool News online
CommVault says the results of its informal poll show a marked disconnect between school leaders' awareness of the issues surrounding FRCP compliance and their preparedness for a lawsuit. By not appropriately managing their electronically stored information according to federal rules, administrators are exposing their districts to potentially costly legal action, the company says.

"The new federal rules represent an urgent call to action for educators and school information technology officers to understand how information that is sent and received on school-owned equipment might be used in litigation," said Mike Ivanov, senior director and head of CommVault's Archive Center of Excellence.

"The cost of litigation can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially draining public school districts of valuable education funds. To reduce the impact of such threats, school technology leaders need to become students of these new rules themselves and take stock of their eMail policies and existing technologies to ensure compliance," Ivanov added.

To keep tabs on eMail, instant messages, and other digital communications produced by employees and students, school leaders should reevaluate their digital storage technologies and how they search through and retrieve information, he said.

"What makes it more challenging for schools is their budgets," Ivanov said. "Budgets are so slim in the first place that it's hard to carve out significant dollars." Still, he added, the money invested in a storage solution likely would be less than the money spent if a school district did not have a solution and had to address a legal issue.
The legislation puts the impetus on schools to not only store the data, but implement ways to retrieve it as well. In December eSchool News online reported:

An expert on issues concerning technology and the law, Lindsay has called prematurely deleting or copying over eMail documents a matter of "virtual shredding."

Lindsay says the rules will require schools and other organizations to think about how and where they store digital information in advance of potential legal skirmishes. Schools, for example, might want to conduct technology inventories to better understand what types of eMail storage and data backup systems they have in place; establish guidelines for the kinds of information that must be saved and for those that can be deleted; and decide where to store critical data, so the information is easily accessible in the event of a problem, he said.

The new regulations don't constitute any major changes to the law per se, Lindsay said, but by noting that electronic communications should be preserved with the same care and diligence as other business-related documents, the High Court ruling forces managers "to recognize this distinction up front," giving schools, businesses, and even individual users an opportunity to be proactive in efforts to secure relevant computer-based information.
Law changes like this can be disconcerting, particularly in trying to determine what is truly required of schools. For most, there are more questions than answers. If any of our readers have information or sources that better explain what is required, please email or post them here.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Palm's New Device: Folio

Palm hosted a video webcast to announce the Folio, a smartphone companion device. It is too early to tell if it will have any uses for education. Here is Palm’s webpage on its
capabilities (click on Experience Folio
àFunction):

Other info about the device:

http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/9437/notes-from-the-foleo-webcast/

http://www.palmblvd.com/articles/2007/5/2007-5-30-Palm-s-Mystery.html

http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/9436/palm-officially-introduces-the-foleo/

http://palmaddict.typepad.com/

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Dell Pushing Linux?

Dell recently announced the sale of low-cost Linux computers pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux:
Dell launches Linux PCs

On Thursday, Dell announced three low-cost Linux systems: a basic model, Inspiron E1505n, with few frills, for $539 (£271); a more powerful Dimension E520n, for $599 (£301); and a top-of-the-range XPS 410n for $849 (£427). The base system has no internet connection other than wireless, 512KB of memory, an 80GB drive and a 15.4-inch display.The other two systems both have 250GB drives, 1GB of memory and 10/100 Ethernet connections. The chief difference is that the cheaper system has a 17-inch display, and the larger has a 19-inch display.
Earlier Dell had announced that Michael Dell used several Linux boxes for his own personal use:
Michael's Computers
Clearly Dell is beyond just testing the waters and is actively promoting the use of Linux. While it is tempting to assume this move is Dell's way of taking a "jab" at Microsoft, analysts at Dell must see some indicators that there is significant and growing market demand for this kind of system.

For years, even the Linux proponents have acknowledged that the average computer user could not put up with Linux's idiosyncrasies. But the buzz recently over Ubuntu's easy-to-setup and easy-to-use interface questions that line of thinking. It is becoming incumbent on educational technology directors to renew their familiarity with the capabilities of this technology. Our previous perceptions about Linux may not apply anymore as the improvements to Linux quickly make those perceptions obsolete.

While most schools certainly are not ready to drop their current systems and jump completely to Linux, public education at a minimum should set up some test machines to see how these systems could work in a school-network environment. Their potential to eventually become the most cost-effective solution for schools cannot not be ignored, especially schools on budgets as tight as South Dakota's districts. Linux is really not a niche product anymore.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fascinating new tech on the horizon

Even if you primarily use a PC, following the new technologies released by Apple computer is important since many of their designs impact the entire technology community. The Macintosh community is notorious for rumor-mongering, and right now is no exception. The low-key laptop upgrades could happen as early as Tuesday,
Think Secret - Laptop updates slated to arrive sooner than expected
but there is much talk of a future ultraportable with no optical drive or hard drive (instead, a 30GB flash drive) coming some time in the near future.
AppleInsider | Next 'MacBook' update a yawner; Ultra-portable to get 13-inch display
Usually tight-lipped on future releases, Steven Jobs also revealed recently that Macintosh computers will soon sport LED backlight monitors (speculated to be a part of a new model of iMac and later laptops). Apple has also filed a patent that some speculate will be incorporated into an innovative dual touch surface iPod and/or iPhone:
Apple invents novel back-to-front iPod control | Reg Hardware
PC Pro: News: Apple patent filing details double-sided iPod
This fascinating technology, which allows the user to touch the back side of a screen to move objects on the viewing screen, is worth watching.

There has also been some speculation about the reason for the delay of Apple's latest operating system, Leopard, from June to October. Many, including myself, believe Apple's stated reason--that they focused the developers' efforts to the iPhone--is unlikely, leading to speculation as to the real reason for the delay. While there have been several theories bantered about, the most intriguing comes from an article describing a complete revamp of the user interface, essentially eliminating overlapping windows (note the small "w" in windows). While I do not necessarily buy into the author's implication that it will hugely impact Microsoft, this is a potential trend that could have some sway on the rest of the technology world:
Leopard's secret: the end of windows?
Apple is a company that specializes in great user interfaces, so why shouldn't Leopard itself gain some of the experience gleaned from Apple's consumer electronics successes of the last seven years?

The trend we're identifying here has been underway for a while. Think about it: how many of Apple's new applications actually use traditional, overlapping windows for anything other than a frame around a unique interface? Garageband doesn't. iTunes barely does except for video. All the Pro Apps like Final Cut, Motion, Aperture, and the like all trend toward paned, not overlapping window, interfaces. And new products like the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV don't use windows at all, relying instead on vastly simplified buttons and interfaces. Further, consumers are gaining experience with interfaces that rely on transparent panes instead of windows on new HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies. Between transparent overlays and Apple's Spaces feature to allow multiple virtual screens, Apple has eliminated many of the needs for overlapping windows cluttering up desktops. And just as Apple first recognized that computers no longer needed floppy disks any more, ridding consumers of overlapping windows may be the first step in a radical simplification of user experiences again.

Such a radical new "feature" in Leopard would more than justify Apple's efforts to rush developers into learning about the new APIs and preparing them to make some serious changes to their applications...One more thing: doing away with overlapping windows in most of the OS would give Apple a marketing bludgeon to use against Microsoft. In the marketplace of ideas, it would paint Microsoft's six-years-in-the-making Vista as a completely old school effort. It would take Microsoft's best-known and recognized brand -- Windows -- and make it appear as tired as DOS.
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Thursday, May 3, 2007

TechLearning Article: The One-to-One Tsunami

Here is an interesting article about 1-2-1 initiatives from Technology & Learning:

Techlearning : The One-to-One Tsunami - April 20, 2007
From computer access to software quality to Internet connectivity to high speed to wireless, the digital divide's newest defining characteristic is 24/7 access to a personal computing device. So if you are not at least beginning to consider one-to-one for your school or district, you're heading for the wrong side of the divide.
. . .
with the new layer of state and federal reporting demands instituted by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001, technology funds in districts across the country were being siphoned off for the data management systems just needed to keep up. For a time, one-to-one seemed put on hold in favor of administrative uses of technology for schools.

But laptop, table, and other one-to-one programs did not go away. In fact, the past few years have seen a major resurgence of the trend, with a wave of national reports and studies, the founding of the One-to-One Institute, mainstream media announcements of high-profile district-vendor partnerships, and a plethora of public, private, and statewide initiatives.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Rarity: Positive News About Student Use of MySpace

Here is an interesting study about teen use of MySpace that runs counter to many perceptions. "The media and many parents have demonized MySpace, but we found that an overwhelming majority of adolescents are using the site responsibly."
http://www.uwec.edu/newsreleases/06/dec/1204MySpaceresearch.htm
I believe this research emphasizes the need for educators to do more with educating students on the proper use of internet tools, including social networking.

eSchoolNews describes this study in their article
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/PFshowstory.cfm?ArticleID=6829

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Friday, April 27, 2007

HDTV - Are we ready?

I must admit, as a technology advocate I have not been following the HDTV market as much as I should. The costs seem outrageous, so I have been waiting till the prices start becoming "affordable" for my pocketbook. Unfortunately, last fall I was pushed into a decision as our home TV started giving out (actually two them at once). Because the broadcast industry is in the process of transitioning to digital content, we were in a difficult position: purchase a cheap analog TV that will only work directly with broadcast content for the next couple years or pay the bigger bucks for a HDTV ready for the digital broadcasting world. We decided to bite the bullet and purchase a LCD HDTV via a "Black Friday" special (that in itself is another story for another day).

I was not planning on using the digital side of the TV very much for a couple of years yet, but I soon discovered that several of the Rapid City stations offered an HD signal. The ABC, Fox, CBS, and PBS affiliates all simulcast their regular analog programming in over an HD signal, which improves the quality of the analog signal somewhat but with limits. ABC & Fox programming is increasingly moving their regular programming to HD, and when those programs come on, the difference in picture quality is startling! I can see why so many TV/movie stars are worried--nearly every face wrinkle, every "flaw" really can be noticed.

SDPB is taking a slightly different approach. They offer their regular analog channel in HD with the slight increase in quality, but they also offer a separate channel devoted completely to HD content. I must say some of the content is almost breathtaking in picture quality--in nature programming you can see the individual hairs of wild animals in the closeups.

Why bring this up in an education/technology blog? It is not to talk about the picture quality. Rather, I suspect that there are others in education who are in the same boat--waiting till the prices come down to seriously consider looking at the technology. Necessity jarred me into action and I have discovered there is much to learn. If you have not begun planning for the transition, I recommend you at least start getting up to speed on the technology now. For example, should all projectors purchased from now on have a digital interface? DVI-D or DVI-I?

I anticipate that schools will need to begin planning for two phases: 1) receiving the HD signals for viewing on older analog quality TVs and 2) begin to phase in new purchases of televisions to HDTVs. The article below can help schools plan that first phase. Pegararo makes a good case for using current DVD recorders (not HD-DVD or Blue-ray) that have digital tuners. This may be a cost effective transition plan worth investigating. It also spills over to planning other technologies, e.g. projectors.

If you have suggestions on other cost effective ways to enter the HDTV world, please post your comments. Have your schools begun replacing old TVs with HDTVs? If not, when is the right time? What are other considerations for schools to prepare for the change to digital?

Rob Pegoraro - The DVD Player, Fully Mature - washingtonpost.com

A DVD recorder with a digital tuner can solve two long-standing issues with digital TV.

First, these new models can let people with old analog sets that aren't hooked up to cable or satellite keep using their TVs after analog broadcasts cease in February 2009. And unlike the promised $50 digital-TV converter boxes that are supposed to go on sale in 2008, these devices are available now.

Second, one of these recorders lets you save a digital TV program in a form that you can watch on a DVD player or computer.

It won't be a high-definition recording. (Though some recorders simulate high-def through a process called "up-conversion.") But because the electronics industry has yet to offer a cheap, easy way to make a portable HD recording, that may have to be good enough.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Web of Connections: Will Richardson

After an exciting start to the Monday TIE conference with the keynote address, Will stated "we need to rethink our ideas of literacy to prepare our students to become not only readers and writers, but editors and collaborators as well." Just curious how many schools allow blogging?

I especially liked the statistics he was giving us with the did you know video.

I spent some time trying to download the you tube Will talked about. I had seen one video there and it happened to be that one. I found a great program called video piggy to allow me to download this video.

Here is the link to see it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65wE6yFYgP8

Using Video from the Web in the Classroom

Note: This post can also be found on the TIE Teach blog. It seems applicable to both teachers and technology coordinators.

A breakout presentation by R.L. ErionHis presentation can be found at http://learn.sdstate.edu/erionr/video/

Erion's presentation offered educators strategies for utilizing video in a way that works with district technologies policy. The "how-to" details are contained in the presentations files. Once you visit his website you can also find links to resources for educators. Many districts do not allow use of sites like YouTube for various reasons. It is possible to download videos that may be useful for educational purposes and still show them in your classroom without exposing your students to the entire world of online videos.

A new site that operates in the same manner as YouTube, but is dedicated to more educational fare is TeacherTube -- check it out.

TIE Technology Award Winner--Dave Ehlers

Congratulations to Dave on his award! He has been on the forefront of technology for some time, with the latest being his work with the Classroom Connections project. Kadoka School District has since been featured in i.e. magazine.

One of the founding committee members of SDSTE (and its past president), he has influenced technology integration across the state. He has proven leadership qualities with an insight for innovation and education.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Options for Designing Web Sites

  • Nvu (which stands for "new view") is a new and reliable web creation program. Nvu makes managing a web site a snap. Now anyone can create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML. Nvu makes web creation as easy as typing a letter with your word processor. Updating web pages is easy, simply login to your web site and navigate through your files, editing web pages on the fly, directly from your site. Update your web pages with this new easy-to-use program. Nvu is free and available for both Windows and OS X! Download a copy here: http://www.nvu.com/download.php
    http://www.nvu.com/websitehelp.php

  • Netscape composer--free and is an easy to use web program. http://www.urban.uiuc.edu/courses/varkki/composer/
    http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/courses/ci235/tutorial/composer/index.html
  • remote terminal--does your school have one? We have old server given to us at the first TTLNA as a secondary server and use it as our remote terminal. We have frontpage installed on ours and users can log in and work on their web site without the software on their own machine. They are fabulous to use! Works great from home, or if you are a MAC user and want to use Frontpage.
    Go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/Communications/Remote Desktop
    Log in with your regular school account.


  • Dream Weaver--another great option for schools and is PC or MAC!

  • Adobe Creative Suite is still another option and is PC or MAC!

However you do it, web sites are great communication tools.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Give up our software tools for Web 2.0?

While there are many features I love about the Web 2.0 model, I don't find the tools are quite capable to replace my productivity tools just yet. But the idea is intriguing: are the capabilities becoming advanced enough for users to consider switching over? If not now, when does it become compelling?

While it is easy to dismiss these tools as too limited to replace the desktop software model, one must also consider that users needs constantly. It is easy to look at the use of our productivity tools based on our past use of technology, but this view can become static and irrelevant quickly. New needs and capabilities arise that the older tools cannot necessarily address--at least not very quickly. It is contingent on technology leaders to continually keep a pulse on these changing user needs along with the continually expanding capabilities of the Web 2.0 tools. When considering both factors together, it gets harder to dismiss the tools.

One interesting article challenges that the time is getting close. While I am not a full believer in all the author suggest, I find he makes some interesting and convincing points about problems with our current model of computing and why that compels us to look closer at using the Web 2.0 model.

Zoli's Blog :: Desktop Software: A Failed Model

...So where are we? Performance issues, overload of patches, need to become one's IT support: these are all signs of a failed model: installing and updating software on the desktop... It's nice to see even the absolute Office 2.0 proponents to have come around and realize the importance of offline access. Seamless computing for a while will require online/offline access.

We're clearly not there yet. However, I feel we've passed a tipping point: while 2 years ago the ideal mix would have been desktop computing with additional online access, now I feel as a user I am better off fundamentally working online, with occasional offline access. I've half made the transition, and there are two features I'm waiting for to complete it:

* synchronization of my calendar and contacts data
* a better way to manage/search documents (I have a half-baked, soon-to-be-released post on the inefficiencies of the folder system).

My bet is on Google or Zoho to get there first. As soon as it happens, I'm going 100% on-demand.




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Monday, March 19, 2007

New Broadband Access

Here is an interesting idea to help bring broadband to rural areas. It leaves a lot of questions about the ability to take a one-way communication technology and turn it into a two-way technology, but it is an interesting idea to keep watching.



FCC mulls new broadband service - eSchool News online

eSchool News staff and wire service reports
March 19, 2007



A new method of delivering broadband internet access to millions of Americans has the potential to expand greatly the number of students with broadband service at home--and it could provide a cheaper way for schools in remote areas to get online...At the center of this dispute are unused and unlicensed TV airwaves, part of the spectrum known as "white spaces." These white spaces are located between channels 2 and 51 on televisions that are not hooked up to satellite or cable, though use of these services would not preclude anyone from accessing the internet over unused spectrum in their region.

"This is some prime spectrum real estate," said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press, a national nonpartisan public interest research group, which supports using the public airwaves for internet service.

In a nutshell, the technology companies want to beam internet access through the white space and into computers and mobile devices. And they argue rural Americans would benefit greatly, because the technology enables internet service to remote areas at a fraction of the cost of cable- and telephone-based subscription services.

"This is Wi-Fi on steroids," Scott said.







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Thursday, March 1, 2007

New proposed federal legislation - DOPA renewed

The blog Learning.Now details some new proposed legislation in the House that resurrects DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act) that was passed by the House last year but received no movement from the Senate.

At first glance this bill looks laudable, putting further restrictions to keep pornography from children. It then targets social networking sites to be blocked, which probably would not cause much heartburn for most educators. The problem is: how do you define a social network website? One of the characteristics that, according to the legislation, defines a site to be blocked is a website which "enables communication among users." THOMAS (Library of Congress)

This kind of definition goes well beyond social networking websites.

It appears that this legislation is so broad in nature that schools would be required to block most Web 2.0 types of tools that many schools use today for educational purposes: blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. It is yet another case of frustration for many educators who must fight to keep access to these types of tools that have great educational value and capability which cannot be emulated with more traditional tools.

I encourage everyone to watch closely how far this legislation goes--the version last year passed with only 15 nays.

UPDATE


Wired: AP Technology and Business News from the Outside World on Wired.com

A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access "harmful" material. In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech. "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., who presided over a four-week trial last fall.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Interesting article on technology trends

This is an interesting article to help identify things that should be on our "radar screens."

Six key ed-tech trends to watch


http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/PFshowstory.cfm?ArticleID=6842

The trends they discuss include:
Trend No. 1: The leveling power of the World Wide Web
Trend No. 2: Cloud computing
Trend No. 3: Service-oriented architecture
Trend No. 4: The gathering SCORM
Trend No. 5: Telepresence and anytime, anywhere education
Trend No. 6: 21st-century learning

While, at a minimum, vaguely familiar with all these ideas, this article helped me better understand all these trends and their potential importance to education.