Thursday, December 25, 2008

Security holes with orphaned accounts

A survey of 850 security/IT managers found that orphaned user accounts are more prevalent that expected: 42 percent do not know how many exist within their organization.

IT Exposes Ubiquity of Orphaned Accounts as a Critical IT Security Vulnerability
Other key findings from the survey include:

* Approximately 27 percent of respondents said that more than 20 orphaned accounts currently exist within their organization.
* More than 30 percent of respondents said it takes longer than three days to terminate an account after an employee or contractor leaves the company, while 12 percent said it takes longer than one month.
* More than 38 percent of respondents said that they had no way of determining whether a current or former employee used an orphaned account to access information, while 15 percent said that this has occurred at least once.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Screentoaster is a free application (currently in beta) for recording your screen. This is a great and easy tool when you need to show a process. For example, if you need to make a minor change to the computers, rather than typing out the direction step-by-step for your students and teachers, SHOW them. I've added my first attempt with ScreenToaster, which was just looking at the website. It was only after I completed the recording did I discover there was no audio with it. This is a feature that ScreenToaster is working on adding.

My video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now what do you want me to unblock?

As a network administrator, you may find yourself putting out fires. Then a teacher approaches you and wants you to unblock something else. Does it have educational value? Why does the teacher want this? Watch this 5 minute video on the networked student and perhaps you might understand that teacher a little better, even if he/she couldn't verbalize their own reasons.

The Networked Student or find it at Kathy Schrock's Blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Network Administrator

The Network Administrator is a website dedicated to computer professionals. Behold their tagline: "Blessed are the geeks, for they shall internet the earth." Bloggers contribute posts on a variety of topics for example, "Windows Vistas Upgrade: What to Watch out For," "Linux Adaptation Problem," and finally "Top 10 Holiday Geek Gifts." Number one on the list? A Wi-Fi Detector T-shirt: "The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates. Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cell Phones are Evil?

Over and over again I see the issue of cell phone use in schools as one of banning them, rather than finding a way to teach their ethical and educational use during school hours. I know all of the challenges (or many of them) that cell phones bring to the classroom. It just seems to me that there has to be a better way of managing this tool than preventing students from using it. What would I do if I had to hide my cell phone all day, or sneak outside to send a text message? Granted, I might have a more fully developed pre-frontal cortex than most teens, but still. And as a teacher, if 90% of my kids have digital cameras they could be using for class projects at no cost to me or the school, why wouldn't I want to take advantage of that? Here's an article from Education World that addresses this issue in more depth. Bold type is my addition.

Crafting A Workable Cell Phone Policy
With so many families depending on cell phones, banning them from schools became pointless. Now the debate is how to regulate phone use in schools, as more students own camera phones and ones that can send text messages and connect to the Internet.

Just a few years ago, it looked like regulating cellular phone use in schools was getting a lot easier. Cell phones had become ubiquitous and innocuous, and making it a school offense or even a crime to possess them on school grounds didn't make much sense anymore.

But just as states and school districts were relaxing their policies, along came a new generation of cell phone -- with cameras, Internet access, and text messaging -- that it seems every teen must have. Now administrators are wrestling with how to permit the legitimate use of phones, while preventing possible privacy violations and cheating.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Role of the Network Administrator

While Educause focuses more on the university level, I thought this article from H. David Lambert best explained the recent and comprehensive shift in the role of a network admin. What this confirms for me is both the need to support network administrators in their work around the issues Lambert shares, and the need for additional technology integrationists to focus on the use of technology in classroom instruction. The impact of technology on schools has made this far too diverse a topic for one person to be able to manage it all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lego Engineers

In the past year the Lego company has piloted a program to help kids ages 7-11 get a start in becoming engineers. They are providing a hands-on experience that allows kids to be active participants in their own learning. It requires students to think creatively, work as a team and problem solve throughout the process, all skills that are important to us in the 21st century.
Student create robots out of legos that are connected to a computer so that they move. The ultimate test is for the students robot to act as a goalie and keep a small soccer ball coming at them from entering the goal.
This technology was featured at the NECC '08 conference this summer in San Antonio and will be released to the public in January of 2009. For more information read the following articles: Lego Product Targets Youngsters Interested in Computer Engineering and Lego Education.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Update

It appears that there is a "Good news/Bad news" scenario with the new beta of Internet Explorer. The good news is that compared to newest features of Firefox...

Internet Explorer 8 Catches Up Shows Improvements With Beta 2 - Webmonkey
So it’s no surprise to see that several of these features also pop up in IE8 Beta 2. There’s a smarter address bar, a better add-on manager, better ways to subscribe to dynamic feeds, and a new cross-site scripting filter. However, this is not just an example of cut-and-paste software development on Microsoft’s part. Whatever may appear to be a “me too” addition to the browser has been extended beyond the current model to incorporate some new innovations. It’s safe to say, at least as far as user-facing features are concerned, that Microsoft has not only caught up to the other browsers, but upped the ante.
The bad news, according to Infoworld, is that installing IE 8 can create uninstall problems:

Microsoft warns of IE8 lock-in with XP SP3 | InfoWorld | News | 2008-08-28 | By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Microsoft yesterday warned users of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that they won't be able to uninstall either the service pack or Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) under some circumstances. The warning was reminiscent of one Microsoft made in May, when Windows XP SP3 had just been made available for downloading. At the time, the company told users they wouldn't be able to downgrade from IE7 to the older IE6 browser without uninstalling the service pack.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7 Things You Should Know About...

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI's) 7 Things You Should Know About... series provides concise information on emerging learning technologies and related practices. Each brief focuses on a single technology or practice and describes:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • Where it is going
  • Why it matters to teaching and learning
7 Things You Should Know About...pieces provide quick, no-jargon overviews of emerging technologies and related practices that have demonstrated or may demonstrate positive learning impacts. Any time you need to explain a new learning technology or practice quickly and clearly, look for a 7 Things You Should Know About... brief from ELI.

Second Life and Flickr are 2 of the 7 listed for 2008. Each piece of technology includes a PDF addressing the bulleted points above. You can access this via this website

Monday, August 25, 2008

Walled Gardens?

I thought I'd have more time to develop a "back to school" blog post, and then I realized that many of our South Dakota schools are already in session. In much of my "catch up" reading over the past few months, which I apparently should have done outside more as my husband looked at my pale skin the other day and asked if I ever got any sun, I've noticed that the concept of creating a walled garden, or a sandbox, for students has been getting more and more attention.

I am certain that the issue of access v. security is one that will continue to develop as we begin to take advantage of more and more online tools for learning. And I'm looking forward to the conversation--how do we best provide our students with all of the digital tools for them to be creative, innovative, problem solvers, yet ensure as best we can that they are using these tools in a safe learning environment?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Google Update

Many of us use Google Docs at work and in the classroom. Now you can use a new and improved Google Docs that lets you view pdf's. To see the complete story check out the Google Docs Blog. You may even want to add the Blog to your RSS feeds so you know whenever new changes occur within Google Docs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Peter Reynolds names 6 Essentials

Peter Reynolds (The Dot) is one of my favorite authors and thinkers. He recently wrote an article entitled "Six Essentials to Foster Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom" which appeared in District Administration. If you missed it, you can read it online at :

He's celebrating the addition of ISTE's adding creativity and innovation to its standards, and then he offers his six essentials. I'll tempt you with part of number 5: "The very simple but humanly exquisite act of listening can change a life-even safe a life." He also offers a purchasing suggestion in #2 that will turn any PC or Mac into a Tablet PC...Well worth reading! maggie

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SMART Free Update on Interactive Response System

THE Journal reports on the update from SMART:

Smart To Update Classroom Response System in July : May 2008 : THE Journal
Senteo 2.0 adds features that allow it to integrate with Smart's Notebook collaborative learning software and that simplify the process of adding questions to lesson plans. Other new features include:

* Enhanced tracking functions;
* A "full-featured" gradebook;
* Support for meta tags associated with student names; and
* Various improvements to reporting and analysis features.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Microsoft to Continue XP for Schools

eSchoolNews reports that Microsoft has extended the deadline for schools/universities to get XP on new computer acquisitions:
Schools will have until 2009 to buy Windows XP
Microsoft will stop offering Windows XP in retail stores June 30, but at least two major computer manufacturers say school districts, colleges, and universities will be able to buy machines with the older operating system until January 2009, as Windows Vista—released last year—remains unpopular with many consumers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Report: Linux Server Deployment Expanding

NewsFactor Network | Linux Ecosystem Spending To Exceed $49 Billion
IDC researchers predict that spending on the Linux ecosystem will rise from $21 billion in 2007 to more than $49 billion in 2011, driven by rising enterprise deployments of Linux server operating systems.

Linux server deployments are expanding from infrastructure Relevant Products/Services-oriented applications to more commercially oriented database and enterprise resource-planning workloads "that historically have been the domain of Microsoft Relevant Products/Services Windows and Unix," noted IDC analysts in a white paper commissioned by the nonprofit Linux Foundation.

"The early adoption of Linux was dominated by infrastructure-oriented workloads, often taking over those workloads from an aging Unix server or Windows NT 4.0 server that was being replaced," according to the report's authors, Al Gillen, Elaina Stergiades and Brett Waldman. These days, however, Linux is increasingly being "viewed as a solution for wider and more critical business deployments."

Microsoft Security Updates May 13

Click below for more detail on the patches:
Microsoft to patch four bugs on Tuesday
Microsoft today said it plan to post four security updates next week, three of them "critical," to patch Windows, Word, Publisher and all of the company's anti-malware applications.

Among the critical fixes will be one that quashes bugs in Microsoft's Jet Database Engine that go back as far as 2005. The other critical patches will close holes in Microsoft's word processor and desktop publishing programs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Implications for installing Windows XP SP3

Found this headline on
Important information about Windows XP SP3 for Internet Explorer users
Important information about Windows XP SP3 for Internet Explorer users

You will be unable to remove IE8 Beta or IE7 after installing Windows XP SP3 because Microsoft wants to make sure that you do not encounter a problem commonly known as "DLL Hell".

IE8 Beta 1 users

You will NOT be offered Windows XP SP3 unless and until you remove IE8 Beta 1. This is because if you install windows XP SP3 without removing IE8 Beta 1, then you will no longer be able to remove IE8 Beta 1 and the Remove option will be greyed out in Add/Remove Programs.

Internet Explorer 7 Users

You will be offered Windows XP SP3 as a high priority update BUT if you install it you will not be able to remove IE7 without removing Windows XP SP3 first. It is recommended that you remove IE7, then install Windows XP SP3 then re-install IE7.

Internet Explorer 6 Users

You will be offered Windows XP SP3 as a high priority update. Windows XP SP3 ships with an updated version of IE6. No need to do anything else.

Friday, May 2, 2008

US Drops From 4th to 15th (and charges more)

The United States is falling further and further behind in bandwidth speed and availability, yet is charging more Internet connectivity:

Trifecta of lost opportunities: US #15 in broadband ranking
...the truth is that the US only has a broadband policy if you consider "doing nothing" to be a policy. When you're convinced that any form of government regulation, policy-setting, or program only mucks up the market, this makes sense; if you look at other countries and find that nations without a plan "will fare worse than if they had smart broadband policies," the continued refusal to do anything meaningful looks willfully ignorant.

A major new report on broadband policy from the nonpartisan Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) suggests that government action alone won't produce a broadband panacea, but that leadership from the top and a carefully-targeted set of policies can do plenty of good. After doing detailed case studies of nine countries, the report concluded that "those that make broadband a priority, coordinate across agencies, put real resources behind the strategy, and promote both supply and demand" do better than those which do nothing.

Critics of the current US approach to spurring broadband deployment and adoption point out that the country has been falling on most broadband metrics throughout the decade. One of the most reliable, that issued by the OECD, shows the US falling from 4th place in 2001 to 15th place in 2007. While this ranking in particular has come under criticism from staunchly pro-market groups, the ITIF's analysis shows that these numbers are the most accurate we have. According to an ITIF analysis of various OECD surveys, the US is in 15th place worldwide and it lags numerous other countries in price, speed, and availability--a trifecta of lost opportunities.

With an average broadband speed of 4.9Mbps, the US is being Chariots of Fire-d by South Korea (49.5Mbps), Japan (63.6Mbps), Finland (21.7Mbps), Sweden (16.8Mbps), and France (17.6Mbps), among others. Not only that, but the price paid per megabyte in the US ($2.83) is substantially higher than those countries, all of which come in at less than $0.50 per megabyte.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Safe, Free Email & Blogs

Safely connect, collaborate and learn using protected email and blog solutions for schools and districts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cool Podcasting Tool

Apparently there is an inexpensive handy little tool called a digital voice recorder that you can hook up right to your iPod and create a podcast on the fly. Here's a link. Okay, so maybe you all have had one for ages, but the ease and portability of this neat gadget really struck me for recording ideas or documenting student learning or a hundred other great ideas.

What ideas do you have for including podcasts in your classrooms and schools?

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Today's wealth is generated by new ideas. Teaching and learning 21st century skills are important to our country's future economy. Critical thinking, I.T., health and wellness, collaboration, innovation, personal financial responsibilitiy and the skills and content areas will be growing in importance in the next five years. Critical thinking appeared as the top deficiency when hiring high school students. Written communication and leadership were also among the top five.

21st century learning is pushing students intellectually. Core subjects will always be critical and focuses should be on life and career skills, learning and innovation skills and information, media and technology skills. Conversations among all of these areas should be collectively focused on the big picture. Learning and innovation skills are the hardest to get to and the hardest to assess but they are exactly what our country needs to compete in the global economy. Educators need to see the connection between what they are doing in the classroom and what students will be doing when they become economically independent.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills encourages schools, districts and states to advocate fo the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources. See

Monday, April 7, 2008

Teaching and Learning Through Podcasting

Pete Markham from Apple, Inc demonstrated the use of iTunes, iTunes U, GarageBand, and iWeb. It was fun to be in this session as we learned how easy it was to create a podcast with voice, music, and pictures. After this session I truly believe I can create and publish a podcast!

For more information go to: It is definitely worth a look!

Opening Session of TIE 2008

Was anyone else surprised that a TECHNOLOGY conference would have so many "squiggles" in the audience? This was one of Pat McGill's "psychogeometrics" categories which proved to be a light opener for TIE 2008. Now I'm wondering...are school technology folks more people-oriented than your average techie types? I think so, or they wouldn't be in schools at all. It was fun to start the conference with some chuckles....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Social Networking for Graduates

A very interesting conversation on the listserv got me thinking about how schools could be using social networks to keep in touch with alumni, which is especially important when collecting data or implementing fundraising campaigns with graduates. The success of MySpace and Facebook is based on the fact that we are social creatures, we like to connect with other humans. But we especially like to connect with other humans who have shared an experience with us--like high school, or college, or that study trip to England, or whatever.

This blog had some interesting comments, and this news article had an interesting perspective, and this blog had both interesting stats and comments. Most noticeable when I did my internet search was this hosting social networks for alumni is apparently a growing business, as there were numerous results for companies who do this.

Now I need to go update my Facebook profile.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Alltop--the best of the best

This site basically gives you the Top 40 version of whatever blog topic interests you. So if you like gadgets (and I do), you can go to Alltop, click on Gadgets, and find today's coolest stuff from a variety of blogs. If I'm slow to respond on email for a while, you'll know why.

Oh yeah, if you can pry yourself away from flat wall cable and gorgeous laptop cases and whiteboard paint (how cool) and catching up on popular YouTube videos, you can look for news and politics and other more "educational" stuff. This blog tells you more.

Thank you to Lennie Symes for sharing this site!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Windows XP service pack coming soon

While Microsoft will not set a date, PC World cites a web source that predicts the next service pack for Windows XP is coming next month.

PC World - Windows XP SP3 Due Next Month, Report Says

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One to one Planning and Logistics

Not long ago, I attended a webinar event titled One-to-one Planning and Logistics: How-To Tips from the Experts, hosted by Technology & Learning magazine and sponsored by Intel. The featured speakers were from Auburn, AL, and Irving, TX, both of whom have been written about in much of the research on 1:1 initiatives (aside from Maine). I thought it was pretty good, so if you have about 45 minutes (not counting the Q&A at the end), check it out. I received this notice that it's archived at the link below.

The original event was broadcast on:
Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008
Time: 4:00 PM EST
Duration: 60-minutes

You can view the event archive at anytime at the link provided below. We hope you will share this URL with colleagues so that they can watch it as an on-demand event.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tweet, tweet

Okay, so I mentioned to a group (who will go unnamed to protect the innocent) during a presentation that I was finally getting into Twitter. This launched a genuinely fun conversation about twittering (too much caffeine?) and posting tweets (use your imagination). Since I'm attempting to build my Twitter network and expand my Twitterverse, I'm taking advantage of the blog to invite all of you to follow me--so I can follow you and we can be Twitterfriends. Or at the very least, help each other stay current and maybe even get to know one another a little better. You can find me at Hopefully you'll find me doing something productive, but no guarantees. A person can only drink so many cans of diet Coke in a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TIE offers teachers opportunity to learn online teaching skills, teach online AP courses and earn $$

The Learning Power program is seeking teachers who wish to teach Advanced Placement courses online while earning cash incentives. Experienced AP English, math and science teachers, with or without online teaching experience, are encouraged to investigate this opportunity.

We often ask ourselves, "What do we do when kids' don't get it?" But what do we do when kids already know? One answer is to offer kids Advanced Placement courses. That isn't always easy because many South Dakota schools are small, located in remote areas and do not have the staff to teach advanced courses.

In an effort to address the needs of students who already know, through funding from ExxonMobil, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has awarded nearly $2 million for a statewide pilot project called Learning Power which will offer high school students online Advanced Placement (AP) courses in math, science, and English.Students and teachers will be offered financial incentives to participate in the Learning Power program.

We are seeking names of teachers who are currently teaching or have successfully taught AP courses to become part of a select cohort and participate in this program. If you are interested in this program or know of any AP teachers who are, please contact MaryLou at or Dr. Parry at Get on board with this exciting new program!

SketchUp--Better than sliced bread?

Special thanks to guest blogger Liz Bennett for this entry! I had to go give this a try, and in less than 5 minutes I was making 3D models--very cool, and a little bit addictive--it was hard to get back to work when I wanted to start virtually remodeling my kitchen instead. :-)

Google SketchUp 6 <> is a 3D modeling software tool that's easy to learn, simple to use, and lets you place your models in Google Earth. Are you remodeling a kitchen, landscaping your back yard or adding a deck to your home? Google SketchUp makes it faster, easier and a lot more fun. From simple to complex, from conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp helps you see your vision before you build it.

Once you've built your models, you can place them in Google Earth and post them to the 3D Warehouse.

Liz Bennett
Tech Coordinator/Network Administrator

Monday, March 10, 2008

Contrast to the US Approach

eSchoolNews reports that Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) recently visited the Scandinavian countries--who have scored highly in international math and science testing--to contrast their approach with the United States. While they talk about a variety of issues, they do mention the student role and teacher role that includes internet filtering:

Top News - U.S. educators seek lessons from Scandinavia
Unlike in the United States, which has taken the opposite approach, Scandinavian countries have established national curriculum standards but have set fairly broad mandates, letting authority trickle down as close to the classroom as possible. Local school officials have the flexibility to provide education services according to their students’ unique needs and interests, as long as the basic policy framework is followed.

Therefore, teachers are extremely autonomous in their work. So are students. For example, internet-content filtering in the three countries is based largely on a philosophy of student responsibility. Internet filters rarely exist on school computers, other than for protection from viruses or spam. As a school librarian in Copenhagen said, “The students understand that the computers are here for learning.”

Julie Walker, executive director of the American Association of School Librarians, said these countries see students as having “the filter in their heads.”

Walker also noted that while “the U.S. holds teachers accountable for teaching, here they hold the students accountable for learning.”
Also noted was an emphasis to inquiry and project-based learning as opposed the testing/accountability style of the US:
In the Danish system, the notion of grading is a foreign concept, with competitive grading postponed until high school. Students are judged in relation to their own growth, rather than that of others, and they are continuously evaluated. Teachers also write individual learning plans for each student after these evaluations.

Project-based learning begins in the first grade, and teachers work with students to structure their learning through a process described by one educator as “dialogue and trust.” Assessment is achieved primarily through a dialogue with each student, as is communication with parents about their child’s progress.

Exams tend to be limited as exit criteria to grade nine, along with a project-based assignment that requires students to plan, research, present, and create around a broad theme.

Finland, which does not use standardized exams, reformed its educational system in the 1990s to remove the European school inspectorate system of accountability. According to Walker, “Students use progressive inquiry and are educated through questions and problem solving.”

The change occurred because teachers felt the system stifled them and hindered creativity in the classroom.

The article mentions the connectivity of these students' homes and vision of administrators:
About 98 percent of homes in all three countries have computers and broadband internet connections. The communities in all three countries also frequently have media centers where students and teachers can receive help from qualified professionals.

. . .
A reoccurring theme in all countries was the need for policy makers and education administrators to have a clear vision of how technology can improve teaching and learning.
While many aspects of what they describe can be seen in some SD schools, it appears to be very different at the systemic level compared to our schools. We tend to look at schools within a few miles to compare our own schools, but in today's connected world we should broaden our scope by taking closer note of schools halfway across the globe.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Blogs for Network Administrators

I was delighted to get to attend the joint meeting of the Southeast and Northeast technology coordinators on Wednesday. I thank them for tolerating my presentation, which was certainly less practical than the network security information and updates from the K-12 data center. One of the qualities of this group that I continually admire is their collegiality and willingness to help, which this website appears to be attempting on a national level what our SD technology coordinators have achieved--creating a community for sharing experiences/learnings from this unique profession.

Gmail users really have two addresses

Read this article from DIGITAL INSPIRATION to find out how to eliminate some SPAM from your gmail account.

Create Websites without Learning HTML

Google Sites - Create Wiki style Websites Without Learning HTML


This is a free online service. It has many of the tools that Adobe PhotoShop does, without the price, like removing backgrounds from photographs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Woot, there it is!

I must really like you all to be sharing this one. Woot is an interesting little stop on the Internet that features one techie gadget for sale each day. It is the only item available that day, and it is available for one day only. Twice now there have been really cool things I thought I had to have, except that I was too late! and they were already sold out for the day. But I still love my nifty little travel speakers that I got for $10. Today's Woot is even better--nifty little travel speakers with a rechargeable battery. Have fun!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Second Time Around for Tech

In keeping with the motto of 'reduce, reuse, recycle' this website offers to buy your old technology gadgets. Unfortunately, they don't appear to deal with desktop computers, but if you have laptops, cell phones, gameboxes, etc. that you no longer want, and you don't want to have to deal with auctioning them off on ebay, this might fit your needs.

Tips for a Clean SMARTBoard (or any other interactive whiteboard)

Tips for Keeping that SMARTBoard (or any other interactive whiteboard) Clean

1. Make sure your hands are clean!!! Not only does this keep your whiteboard clean, but it prevents the spread of germs.

2. Students should use clean hands as well. That nacho cheese from lunch will affect the smooth operation of the board. Some elementary teachers keep finger cots on hand for their students to use. You can also use a pointer with a soft end to operate the board.

3. If someone makes the mistake of using a regular whiteboard eraseable marker on the SMARTBoard, don't panic. Try using the whiteboard cleaner for dry erase markers. If it's permanent marker, try the age-old trick of tracing over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker, then erase.

4. Use a soft cloth for daily cleaning or dusting.

Variety is the Spice of LIfe and the Way of the Changing World

I am participating in a training session for SMARTBoard this week. Though I have experience with the SMARTBoard from using it in my own classroom, today will be a great refresher on the tools. There are 25 people from various backgrounds here today. One participant works for a Bureau of Investigation for a southern state. His organization just purchased four SMARTBoards, and he will be training the co-workers. As of yet, he is unsure of what the planned use for the boards will be, but he knows they will be used in presentations. Perhaps as they learn more and gain more experience, they will discover other uses.There is a teacher here who was "gifted" a SMARTBoard from her students. Yes, she teaches in a private school. Another participant works for the Department of Corrections where she teaches language arts. Two other participants work for a retail business that sells SMARTBoards. What's my point? Incorporating an interactive whiteboard into the classroom has more benefits than just interactive lessons. This is a tool that is used in the "other" world - the world outside of education. Students who have experience utilizing this technology and those who have mastered it are already a step, or two, ahead in the working world. Remember 21st Century Skills? This would be one of them.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kids Teaching Kids

I saw this story on Good Morning America today and it was so incredibly heart warming to see how a 12 year old with a disability is teaching homeless kids technology that I had to share the story and his website entitled SPLAT: Showing People Learning and Technology.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Tech Savvy Educator

If you have not looked at this website, take a few minutes to log on. It is packed full of of ideas for integrating technology into the classroom.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Grassroots Video, Future of Education

Secondary school students from five schools in five different countries researched and envisioned the future of education and society through the framework of the 2007 Horizon Report, capturing their work in a wiki. They then produced nearly twenty short videos about the topics in the report and shared them via YouTube.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - The Home of the Screencast - The Home of the Screencast

This site offers tutorials with step-by-step directions for many applications. It's a useful tool and a great resource.

Get Ready to Fly with Google Earth!

That's right, the newest version of Google Earth has a flight simulator. It's a hidden program but this video from YouTube tells you how to find it and how to use it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Double Amputee Walks Again due to Bluetooth

Two wounded Iraq veterans are using prosthetics that use BlueTooth technology to coordinate their movements. The new technology makes the walk more natural.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Web 2.0: Block It or Embrace It?

With all the discussion on what content should be blocked/filtered, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) sponsored a webcast that questions the practice of blocking all Web 2.0 resources:

eSchoolNews - CoSN to school leaders: 'Think before you ban'
Before school officials prohibit teachers and students from accessing certain web sites, they should think about the positive impact those sites might have on education: That was the message of "Think Before You Ban: How Classrooms Become Communities with Web 2.0 Technology," a recent webcast sponsored by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

The Jan. 16 program, moderated by ed-tech consultant Karen Greenwood Henke, focused on how schools can use Web 2.0 tools to foster collaboration and innovation in classrooms.

"We cannot ignore this phenomenon," said Susan Brooks-Young, a Web 2.0 consultant who works with schools on technology programs and integration. Educators should "look at the instructionally sound ways to bring [Web 2.0 tools] in, and help both teachers and kids make the best use of this technology."

Web 2.0 technologies "lend themselves very well to teaching 21st-century learning skills, and our job is to prepare kids for the workforce they'll be facing when they leave school," Brooks-Young added.

The use of Web 2.0 technologies is all about information, she said. These online communication tools extend learning beyond the regular school day and let users share ideas for group projects and other tasks; for example, students and teachers can have anytime, anywhere access to projects or assignments with Google's free Documents tool.
Obviously schools need to be responsible for blocking inappropriate content, but there are two things schools need to have in place for filtering to work. First, schools should establish a process for a balanced examination of the educational value of content with the potential risk of inappropriate exposure. The task of determining education value vs. risk of content should not be left to IT staff--it needs to be handled by both educators and IT staff. That dialog does not happen naturally: waiting for teachers to "complain" about a site not being available does not really work, nor does the process of educators submitting web filtering URL forms. The discussion needs to be more broad than individual sites--rather, questions like "What types of Web 2.0 sites do we want students from our school to access?" need to be addressed by both IT staff and educators in an ongoing dialog.

Because of the constant dynamic change of internet services and content, schools should provide a different level of access for educators to "try out" new sites as they become aware of them. It is difficult to evaluate educational value when the default mode is to have everything blocked. Schools need to find a way to allow educators some "R&D" access with the internet beyond the scope of what students have access.

Frustration can grow if these two processes are not in place. It is well worth the time to have an ongoing dialog about filtering--otherwise IT takes on more of a bunker mentality with educators, dodging their "lobs" of frustration. Worse yet, educators begin to view IT as a roadblock rather than an enabler. They begin to question whether IT staff's value to their educational world is worth it. No one really wins in this setting.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wii Interactive Whiteboard

Okay, I know I'm not in the least qualified to be a girl geek, unless you ask my friends, and I probably won't take the time to actually make one of these, but all I can say about this is "Way cool!" In four words--digital whiteboard under $100.

Watch for yourselves below, or visit this blog entry. And remember to check out Johnny's other projects, too.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Do Schools Do Enough with Inventiveness?

Do Schools Do Enough with Inventiveness?

Click the link directly above to see this entry TIE's Lead blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Next Windows OS Coming Sooner Than Expected?

The rumor mill is bubbling up with talk of the next version of Windows, currently called Windows 7. Speculation is that Microsoft is aiming for release the end of 2009, with is significantly quicker than the five years it took to produce Vista from Windows XP (keep in mind Vista was originally targeted to come out much sooner than it's actual release date). Considering the higher level of frustration with Vista from the tech community, it makes some sense that Microsoft would want to move more quickly to the next version of Windows. It may even make financial sense to try to get a version out soon for the IT people who are refusing to leave XP to Vista. But acceptance of new versions of Windows always comes down to new needed features vs. cost. Unfortunately, as more discussion occurs on an expected product, speculation on new features makes it difficult to determine true fact from fiction. We will have to keep our eyes and ears open as more "sightings" occur.

Seven Things We'd Like to See in Windows 7

First shots of Windows 7 leaked? And by 7, we mean Vista. - Engadget

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Microsoft Release Some Details on IE8

As we in South Dakota schools discovered with the release of Internet Explorer 7 (e.g. Infinite Campus incompatibilities), being prepared for future browser releases can make life smoother for everyone. PCWorld reports on a Microsoft posting that provided some details of plans for IE8:

PC World - Microsoft Stresses Backward Compatibility for IE8
Microsoft Corp. hopes to balance backward compatibility with Web standards in Internet Explorer (IE) 8 by enabling a new, optional "super standards" mode in the browser, a company official said Monday.

Some Web developers immediately criticized the decision, while others applauded the move.

Chris Wilson, a platform architect on Microsoft's IE team, spelled out the new mode in a long post to the group's blog on Monday, the first time that Microsoft has gotten specific about how it will make IE8 comply more with standards.

The new mode, which Wilson said would be turned on by inserting a single "meta" element, will be in addition to the existing "quirks mode" that debuted in IE6 and the "standards mode" unveiled with IE7.

"We believe this approach has the best blend of allowing Web developers to easily write code to interoperable Web standards while not causing compatibility problems with current content," said Wilson. "We also think this approach allows developers to opt in to standards behavior on their own schedule and as it makes sense to them, instead of forcing developers into a responsive mode when a new version of IE has different behavior on their current pages."

Several times in his post, Wilson stressed the importance of maintaining backward compatibility with existing sites and applications, even at the expense of standards...As usual with posts on the IE blog, Wilson's attracted scores of comments from users and developers. Some saw the new mode as a mistake. "I want to code to standards, not browser versions," said Blaise Kal. "The ideal Web is a Web where you don't have to think about differences between browsers, because there are none. Now Microsoft is moving away from that ideal by introducing another rendering trigger"...A sizable number of those leaving comments, however, agreed with Wilson. "I think the meta tag is a good solution. It lets your old code and pages continue working, while you can embrace the standards for new development," said George Jones.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Edublogs Campus

I've used Edublogs in the past for free blogs, but just got this email promo for a new option from them for schools. Sounds like it's a fee-based service, but you also get total control. Here's what they had to say about
It's a simple, powerful and safe way to bring blogs to your school. You can host the site at your own domain (i.e., create, manage and control all blogs on the site and get unlimited email (and even telephone) support from us.

We'll also set up, host and maintain the software all for you... so you don't need to worry about any technical details. And every Campus client has unlimited bandwidth and storage space too!

You can find out about these and more features at

Monday, January 21, 2008

Top 5 in Word and PPT 2007

This top 5 list was published in the November issue of Redmond magazine and I happen to agree with the features they've chosen. If you don't yet have Office 2007, here's something to look forward to, because you'll probably be getting it sooner or later.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

British Education Tech Agency Recommends No Vista, Office 2007

A strange headline caught my eye--the agency that governs educational technology in the UK (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency BECTA) recommends schools and colleges not upgrade to Windows Vista or Office 2007.

Windows Vista, Office 2007 Expelled From British Schools -- Windows Vista -- InformationWeek
Becta officials said a study the group commissioned found that upgrading school systems from Windows XP to Vista and Office 2007 would increase costs and create software compatibility problems while providing little benefit. "Our advice is to be sure there is a strong business case for upgrading to these products as the costs are significant and the benefits remain unclear," said Stephen Lucy, Becta's executive director of strategic technologies, in a statement...The agency said U.K. schools can consider using Vista or Office 2007 software only when they are buying new batches of PCs. Even then, however, they're advised to take a long looked at alternatives based on Linux and other open source products, such as the desktop package. "Schools and colleges should make pupils, teachers and parents aware of the range of free-to-use products (such as office productivity suites) that are available, and how to use them," Becta said.
We at TIE have made the change to Office 2007 (not Vista), and there is some justification with heavy-duty use of Excel and Access. It is more difficult to justify with casual/typical use of the product. Rumblings are that many tech coordinators in the area are reluctant to make the change. It does beg the question: are the benefits of Vista and Office 2007 worth the extra cost for South Dakota schools to eventually upgrade? While Microsoft has extended the deadlines for continued XP purchases and support, how much longer will they allow schools/businesses to stay with XP? Much of our state's infrastructure is based on Microsoft, so the bigger question is: what is the better alternative?

What do you think?

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Laptops Overtaking Desktops

The laptop is gaining and surpassing the desktop in sales. For years, the laptop was a niche market that has now grown to become the main form factor of computer for most people. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Laptops become computer of choice for individual Americans --
Analysts say U.S. laptop sales rose 21 percent in 2007, to 31.6 million, while desktop sales slumped nearly 4 percent, to 35 million. Those figures include purchases by businesses.

Overall, laptops are still underdogs, but they're expected to account for the majority of U.S. computer sales in 2008 and of worldwide sales in 2009.

By 2011, research firm IDC expects portable computers to constitute 66 percent of all corporate PCs sold, up from 40 percent in 2006, and 71 percent of all consumer PCs sold, up from 44 percent.
. . .
In the last four years, though, the price difference has narrowed. Already, some bare-bones laptops can be found for less than $500.

With their newfound popularity, laptops are doing for computing what cell phones did for talking: bringing the activities into public places. With that, new social norms and rules of etiquette are emerging.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

IT Leadership

This article does a great job of focusing on the need for IT experts to be more than just gatekeepers or managers of technologies--they need to be educational leaders as well.

Robotics in Shop Class

Today many students don't have an opportunity to even take a shop or family and consumer science courses due to current legislation so I am encouraged to see that one Pittsburgh school is going against the trend. Not only is South Park Middle School offering shop but they are incorporating new technology to hopefully spark student interest in engineering and other technical careers that will continue to grow in coming years. Along with the added technology the curriculum has also moved to a student problem solving method from the typical teacher led instruction. Perhaps in the future more schools will look at South Park Middle School and see that not only can they still have shop classes but by integrating shop and technology they are helping their students become 21st Century Learners.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

OLPC to be implemented in the US?

We have breached the subject of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in past postings (Low-cost Laptops Battling for Markets). OLPC was originally slated for developing countries only, but there evidently have been some discussion about implementing the low-cost laptops in the US:

Advanced Search - Birmingham mayor seeks low-cost laptops
The Birmingham News reported last month that more than 15,000 children in Birmingham city schools would receive an XO laptop under a tentative agreement new mayor Larry Langford has reached with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation, the organization behind the initiative. The computers would be given to every child in grades 1-8 and would cost about $3 million, or roughly $200 apiece.
If reached, the deal would mark a significant development in OLPC’s campaign to transform instruction through the use of technology, because it would open the door for other North American cities to participate. The effort previously had targeted students in developing nations such as Uruguay, Thailand, and Brazil. Until now, it was believed the only way U.S. residents could get their hands on XO machines was through OLPC’s “Give One, Get One” program.
The deal for Birmingham may fall through because of premature publicity, but it brings up an interesting idea. These laptops could be a great solution for meeting the technology needs of grades 1-8 at a relatively small cost. Should South Dakota be looking at this possibility? OLPC appears not interested in negotiating small quantities, so it would take a collaborative effort. South Dakota could make a case as a rural state that is 51st in the nation for school budgets and some of the poorest counties in the nation. Should we be having that discussion?

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Computer problems? It could be a dust bunny?

If your computer is acting strange, run your scans. If the scans show nothing, then get to cleaning your hardware. Dust bunnies can cause computer problems.