Wednesday, June 29, 2005

House Would Restore $300 M for Ed Tech

As budget talks continue on Capitol Hill, advocates of educational technology are praising a spending plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 16, which would restore more than $300 million in funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program and provide additional spending for a handful of other initiatives President Bush had asked Congress to cut in 2006.

I managed to make it through 3/4 of the vendor hall yesterday and found some interesting new products that I think will be of interest to you. I’ll be describing them in the upcoming Summer Blockbuster VITALNews.

Now, I am listening to Joel Barker, author of Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow’s Technology Revolution. The ballroom here in the Pennsylvania Convention Center is packed. He just described his definition of technology and it sounds a lot like mine: technology is used to solve problems. But he also maintains that we currently have more solutions than problems and most of those solutions are technology related.

His essential theory is that technology falls into five regions or categories. He calls these regions TechnEcologies, each offering a positive vision of the future even though each is very different. He believes he has created a new paradigm for how technology is developed and evolves. Each region has four rules.

Super Tech: This is the best known region which has dominated the 20th century. The remote control is the Super Tech icon because it makes our lives easier. In addition, the Super Techers believes that we have a superabundance of everything including energy:
  • Tar Sands
  • Undersea methane hydrates
  • Satellite solar power
  • Fusion Power
In addition, these future looking people are looking for a way for us to move beyond Mother Nature with our inventions including staircases to the stars, super SUVS, and robots to do the work.

Limits Tech: He uses Rachel Carson as an example of the limits person. Limits to Growth was the first simulation. These people are the opposite of the Super Tech because they do not believe in superabundance or the promise of technology. We have wasted energy and now we need to start thinking about preserving.
  • Negawatts/conservation
  • Aerogel insulation
  • LED lights
The limits people are mostly concerned about population and resource savings. They look for ways to use technology to preserve. For instance, using satellites for communication is efficient because it doesn’t require pulling wires. The limits people want to use large array computer simulations that can help us make careful decisions.

Local Tech: Tangential to the Super and Limits because it believes there is enough in the world. Joel Schumacher is the auhor of the region. “Small and local is beautiful.” When this is applied to energy, then we choose that energy to which we have access:
  • Windmills
  • Wave Power
  • Solar Power
  • Geothermal
He points out that the Segways did not catch on because while they are a local tech, the creators tried to sell them to Super Tech people. He points to Denmark, Karala, India, and Mondragon Spain as places where local tech is being used.

Nature Tech: All human needs can be fulfilled using Nature’s systems. Our job is to find them rather than inventing new things. One rule of this system is that our work is to learn to live well with nature. He gives the example of agriculture: when we started farming, nature became the enemy. His energy examples include ethanol, hydrogen producing bacteria, and the diesel tree in the rainforest that produces sap that can run diesel engines. In addition, he gives examples of caffeine as an insecticide. This is the most likely to split into two categories.

Human Tech: This region lays underneath the other four. It is the ocean and the other four are islands in that ocean. It is what we humans are born with. In this region, mother’s milk and enthusiasm are the energies he describes.

There is a category called Universal Technologies. Each region uses these technologies in different ways.

What about creating a hybrid world that pulls from each region? He and his co-author tried to find hybrid ecosystems on the planet and they found that nature doesn’t do that. However, he believes that you could create a simulation to see how different regions would work together.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Greetings from NECC!

I am in Philadelphia attending the National Educational Computing Conference. Last night, we went to hear David Weinberger from Harvard. His keynote focused on the changing shape of knowledge, and I was pleased to hear him talk about and Wikipedia, two of my favorite online resources.

This morning, I had to go hear our own Chris O'Neal talk about technology issues for administrators. My next stop is the vendor hall...I'll fill you in next time I'm online.

If you've never come to NECC, plan to go next year: it's in San Diego. It's very exciting to be surrounded by this much technology and enthusiastic educators!

Monday, June 20, 2005

This is a great example of using blogs: The Secret Life of Bees :

eSchool News online: "Fans win with live-stats software
From eSchool News staff and wire service reports
June 14, 2005

South Dakota is using software from Daktonics Inc. to provide live sports updates every 30 seconds. During the state high school basketball championships in March, South Dakota's Public Broadcasting web site provided nearly live stats so those who couldn't get to the game could follow along.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Check out this website: Virginia's Community of Learning

Pod People:

From Edutopia, examples of students using iPods to create their own webcasts and make recordings.

Concerns about teaching and learning and how technology can facilitate them are not just limited to the United States: The Daily Star - Lebanon News - Education conference tackles teaching innovations: "ARAYA: Education is in need of a drastic shift from teaching to learning, according to experts at the First Annual Arab World Development Conference, which kicked off Monday at the Intercontinental Mountain Resort and Spa in Faraya. Gathering over 25 university representatives from nine Arab countries along with several education experts from universities and institutions of higher education in Lebanon, the conference was jointly organized by the Center for Distinction in Teaching and Learning (CDTL) at the American University of Technology (AUT) and the Professional and Organizational Development Network (of higher education) in the United States."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Students Use Handhelds for SAT Prep:

From Intel, a story of high schoolers using handhelds (and other technologies) in pursuit of the SAT: Intel Education: An Innovation Odyssey Story 115

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Debate:

An interesting take on computers in education with a focus on a Waldorf School in Canada: | Top Stories | Education | How computers make our kids stupid

This is just a wonderful story! A chartered triumph - The Washington Times: Metropolitan - June 08, 2005

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

New On The VCOL Website!

While the Community Blog has been around for awhile, we are pleased that it can now be found not just at Blogspot but also on the Community's homepage! Virginia's Community of Learning

Monday, June 06, 2005

Getting animated - The Boston Globe - - K-12 - News: From the Boston Globe, a story of students using high-tech animation software as part of their high school curriculum.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I think Jay Mathews from the Washington Post is a great education writer. Here he presents the math wars in a debate style between the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and their opponents who think they take a loose approach to teaching math that doesn't focus enough on skills: 10 Myths (Maybe) About Learning Math Free registration required.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

From the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the most recent edition of their weekly newsletter. This month the focus is on the evoluation debate. The newsletter also include a few selected links to current news. Edutopia News 6.1.05