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

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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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