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 -

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.

Powered by ScribeFire.

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:

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

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:

  • Netscape composer--free and is an easy to use web program.
  • 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.