Monday, March 31, 2008

Well, that didn't work

After the last post, I thought I had the dang Email server working, but there was a glitch. So worked on it for a few hours.  No luck. Shoot Darn it. That lost my train of thought on all the other things I was excited about. 
Need to put together some training for the elementary school regarding using the web to their advantage. iGoogle, twitter and a few other tools. Nothing heavy. 
hope to have the email done this week. 
Once that is done, we can switch web servers. Our current web server worries me due to its age and size. 

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bits and pieces for Saturday

Hope to be finished with the new Email server today, so I am at work this morning. 
Some bits and pieces have fallen from my brain as unformed thoughts so might as well jot these down. 
I have become more energized at my work over the past few weeks. I think most of this is due to reading twitter and seeing what people are doing out there in Educational Technology. I hope I can transfer this better to the teachers at work.
The new Sansa, which I bought cheap works well. I had three tests with it, one talking to a teacher in a crowded room, in a meeting with the superintendet, with the device on a table between three of us, and while driving. The sound was good in all of them, I was pleased. 
Issues with the mail startup. I'll be back

Friday, March 28, 2008

new toy

Picked up an inexpensive Sansa m240. Want to do some podcasts with it. the microphone works remarably well. Will play with it this weekend and see what happens.
Switching Email servers this weekend too. A little stress involved with that

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The XO laptop

Yesterday I had a chance to look at the XO laptop developed for the One Laptop Per Child program. There is a working group based out of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Students are being tasked with developing programs and testing the laptops in real world situations. Working in a school we have real world situations, and being a small school, the red tape to work on this stuff is only one to three people thick.

The laptop is small, with a small keyboard. I had to type with two fingers, but there are usb ports, so you could hook up a larger keyboard if needed. But the computer is designed for kids, so the keyboard may be just right for them. The machine seems to be durable, and they have done many tests in development of the computer, dropping it, burying it in sand, heating it and so on. Here is a piece on NPR regarding it

Why are we getting involved in this? These computers are designed for third world countries, and we are not that here outside of Rochester NY. There are a few answers for that.
First of all looking at school budgets and the technology needs for early elementary schools. Young kids can be tough on equipment; it is just the nature of the age. These computers can be dropped, get wet, and handle most things. The computers are built to stand up to this unintended abuse. The cost of the laptops is within the reach of most budgets. The current cost is about $200 per copy, with the goal being $100 per computer. This almost makes the idea of 1-to-1 computing reasonable in cost and insurance coverage.
The computers are designed to work as a mesh network. This allows for collaboration between students in the class, sharing information, checking each other’s work, a great tool for that.
The computer does not have unnecessary software, you can think of them as being stripped down laptops. New applications are being written all of the time, but what does a young user need. There is a drawing program, writing and a few others.
The software is open source; the operating system is Linux, stability and the ability for new applications to be written all of the time.
The school gets a chance to help others in working with software developers. The students at RIT are working to make educational programs and design learning activities for the XO. These programs need a real world test, and we can provide this. A win-win situation for all.

The XO computer is not designed to take the place of high-end laptops. They are relatively slow, and the graphics are not flashy. They do what is needed for computing and collaborative work. The developers were looking at what can be done with minimal computing power, and with that in mind they did a great job.

We must keep in mind the role of technology in education. It is not to replace the teacher, but be a tool in the teaching and learning process. The first of the discussion with the RIT students yesterday focused on what the xo cannot do, and what they wished it could do. Eventually they changed focus on what it can do, and its strengths are. It was fun to see the changes in their thinking in a short time. I am looking forward to seeing the projects they develop and how well they work with our students here.

Future of Education

David Warlick posted these questions on his blog
Here are my answers:

What does the future hold for education?
In the very near future, I hope that the state and national governments realize that standardized multiple choice tests are not teaching anything other than puke back the facts. Wit this behind us we can resume teaching. We have great tools for the students to develop their own learning communities with in and outside of their schools. We must open the walls of the classrooms to allow for open learning and collaboration. We must teach students to work together and learn how to filter information. All people are hunters and gatherers of information, and we need to teach with this in mind.

What do schools and districts need to do to prepare for the future?
Develop teaching and learning teams to learn new methods. We have been talking about this for years, lets get to it. Schools need to train teachers to re-learn how to learn. Give some of the control to the students to help direct their learning. I am not saying forget about the curriculum, but there are many ways to reach an objective, and for many students the traditional methods are not working.

What will this future require of me?
Become a learner. Learn how to work with others. Develop your own leaning communities.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A new beginning

I have not had an active blog in awhile. I hope to keep this one going. Hope to have some podcasts going too. I am an educator, involved in instructional technology, but do not want to be limited to that. We will see how it goes.
This is perhaps my fourth attempt at blogging.