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.