Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Future Web

I just finished reading Tom Friedman's new book, The World is Flat, where he points to the launch of Netscape as one of the top ten flatteners of our time. Here, Will Richardson quotes from an excellent article from Wired the follows the development of the web from 1995--Netscape's IPO--to the present. We are living in an amazing time when anyone can be a broadcaster, a publisher, a musician, an artist:

Will's Post: The Future Web
Wired Article: We Are the Web

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Teachers' Voices

Teachers' Voices

I want to get everyone up here for today's workshop...

Teachers' Voices

Just a few more participants:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Greetings from Glenns, Virginia!

I am having the distinct honor of working with a great group of teachers from the Four Rivers Technology in Education Consortium this week. Many of them will be starting their new jobs as Instructional Technology Resource Teachers. We have been talking about their expectations for their new jobs and wanted to share their ideas with the VCOL community. Here's the first one:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sustainable Tech

From eSchool News Online, a VERY interesting article about Debbie Tschirgi, a tech director in Washington state, who has developed something called Sustainable Tech, basically a one-computer classroom with peripherals. While I've used a few excerpts from the article, if you want to read it now, here's the link.

" Each of the five classrooms will be equipped with one computer bought by the district; a SMART Board interactive whiteboard and peripherals from SMART Technologies; a Hitachi CP-RS55 digital projector; a Califone Sound System; an AverVision 300 digital document camera; an Avocent Longview Wireless Extender for the projector; an eInstruction wireless response system; an annual subscription to eBoard, an online educational learning environment; and other peripherals and software solutions that are requested to ensure a successful implementation of the project."

What's missing from this picture? Computers for the students, of course. But, according to Tschirgi, the four computers per student model that they had been developing, just didn't work:

"'But now we know that it was not the best thing: It was not replicable. Districts without the funding couldn't replicate the model, because of the high [degree] of classroom access to technology. It was not replicable, and it was not sustainable.'"

The article goes on to suggest that many school divisions are shying away from the ubiquitous computing phenomenon (laptop projects and such) because of the administrative nightmares:

"Ten years later, many educators have come to believe that technology plans with such high student-to-computer ratios are expensive to deploy and fraught with difficulty from an administrative point of view. Further difficulties arise when the software becomes obsolete, or the machines begin to wear out, or both."

So, for all those people who think that schools should be run more like businesses, here's the first clue that the business model doesn't work...there is no business on the planet who would think that a ratio of four workers per computer is "high" and that doesn't have some kind of replacement plan for old technology. If we want computers to be more than just fancy presentation systems for teachers, then we have to move towards ubiquitous computing. The computer can't be a real tool if I can't access it when I need it.

But I think the underlying message of the article is clear: NCLB and state standards have pushed teachers toward more teacher-centered instruction for which this sustainable classroom system is perfect. The includion of the eInstruction wireless response system means that teachers can be constantly assessing students, usually in a multiple choice format similar to the high-stakes test they will be taking. And while some of the technology like the SmartBoard might mean that students get more involved, this is definitely a teacher-centered model. In fact, it is the teachers who will be using the web to collaborate, sharing their experiences and learning together.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Study: Drivers on cells more likely to crash

From CNN: Cell phones are a good example of technology run amuck. They are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends but often used inappropriately. Here's some research proof that the use can actually become dangerous: - Study: Drivers on cells more likely to crash - Jul 12, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blogs You Should Be Reading

The number of blogs continue to grow, but as educators there are a few you shouldn't miss. You can explore the blogroll on the left side of this page; I add new ones as I discover them. Here are three with which you should be familiar:

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Andy was at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1995 when St. Clare Walker Middle School, where I was working at the time, received a grant to get Internet connectivity. Now, he works for the Digital Divide Network, a project of the Education Development Center. His website is an amazing mix of ed tech musings, descriptions of projects he is doing, and pictures from his travels around the world.

PPS Instructional Technology Weblog
: Great blog for getting education news and views from the Portland, Oregon, public schools.

The School Technology Leadership Blog: Volunteers review a variety of online resources to bring you the most relevant, up-to-date information of interest to instructional technology leaders.

Monday, July 11, 2005

State: Teachers finding their voice on blogs

From the St. Petersburg Times, an article about Florida teachers embracing blogs as a way of expressing their lives and work. We talk a lot about getting at student voices but I think it's just as important to hear what the teachers have to say. Too often, students and teachers are lumped in to an amorphous blob known as "the classroom." Blogs provide a way for them both to speak out from behind the walls: State: Teachers finding their voice on blogs

Friday, July 08, 2005

Why We Will Never Have Real School Reform

An article from the Washington Post concerning the conflict between what we know about student learning and the increasingly early start times at DC-area high schools. This paragraph describes all the political reasons why changing the school day is so hard:

"Serious discussions about changing school hours become ensnared in conflict and competing interests. Coaches typically don't want practice times and game schedules to be disrupted. After-school employers don't want to lose workers. Parents fear complications to their daily drop-off and pickup schedules. And any attempt to simplify the schedule -- say, by having every school open and close at the same time -- becomes a question of spiraling expense."

This is why it's so tough to change school...any reform is fine as long as it fits into the already accepted 8 to 3 day. I can't help thinking how online learning could help us break out of the school-day box!

You can read the rest of the article here: Teen Sleep Needs Spur Talk Of Later Start to School Day

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Breaking News

I don't have access to a 24-hour cable-news network like MSNBC or CNN. So, when there is breaking news like the terrorist attack in London, I turn to the web for my information. Google News provides national and international news. But, in addition to being able to get the headlines, I can be part of the grass roots conversation as well as London bloggers do what comes naturally and start logging on to record their experiences, reaching out to the online community for support. (London Blast) Yet, as I looked at the pictures posted to Flickr and at the BBC site, I couldn't help feel a little like a rubber necker on the highway. I realized though that this is the stuff of historians, the primary sources that tell the stories of the event, each moment experienced in different ways by each individual, and blogs and slideshows help record those stories. Bloggers weave their tales on the web, writing their own histories. Elsewhere, people write the story collaboratively...right now it is unfolding at Wikipedia.

What happened in London is just horrible and we can only grieve with those whose lives will never be the same. And thank you for sharing your stories with us...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Spirit the Waves Couldn't Break

Here's one of those stories that reminds us all how lucky we are. There's a little bit about technology but there's more about a young man who didn't let life get him down: A Spirit the Waves Couldn't Break - AP Technology News - More Computer Classes Urged For Kids

"Even in a nation where most every school has Internet access and computer use often starts by nursery school, teachers of technology see a warning message flashing.

For students in elementary and secondary schools, states have few developed standards or required courses in computer science _ a field that goes beyond basic literacy to encompass hardware and software design, real-world applications and computers' effect on society.

Such lean coursework means that many students don't have the chance to study the science of computers until college, where a declining number are majoring in the subject. Somehow, teachers contend, states must embrace the idea of training sophisticated computer users at a younger age."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Link TV Makes Connections

Cable station that specializes in broadcasting international television shows. It offers streaming video on the web, including Mosaic, a compilation of news stories from both free and state-controlled news programs in the Middle East. Offers a different perspective than we usually get in the US: Link TV - Your connection to the world

Ways to Change the World

From Edutopia, ideas for ways to change education ranging from 5 minute suggestions to 5 year suggestions. The latter category includes changing from the agrarian calendar. I think that's longer than a five-year project... Tags:

Sunday, July 03, 2005 - New test would measure students' Web wisdom - Jul 1, 2005

How much do students really know about using technology? This article describes a new test that would determine just that.