Monday, February 28, 2005 

The explosion is beginning

It's like wildfire. You start talking about blogs and pretty soon it's everywhere. CTV news did a piece on last week and CBC radio did a piece on it as well. I still wish people would stop calling them online diaries but that's another story.
I've had several teachers interested in using it as a class website and also to encourage writing and I have a suspision it will soon surpass traditional websites for classrooms.

The RSS deal is also gettting to become a big thing. I subscribe to 34 feeds thus far and obviously that will grow.

I haven't quite been able to put my finger on why this is such a vastly different way to experience the web but it is. I'm sure folks with more understanding have already thought this one through.

Monday, February 21, 2005 

Why blogs are cool

I did a session today at our Teachers' Convention called a few of my favourite things. It sounds a bit narcisstic which it may have been. I attended a similar session at FETC so I certainly borrowed the idea but included many of the tools that I've found very helpful over the past while. One of the tools I shared was Microsoft's Mappoint site. I think it's an excellent site for finding directions and general mapping. Google has released something called Google maps. It's a much more interactive site but seems weak as far as Canadian maps are concerned.

Using Bloglines which is my RSS news reader, I was looking at Rick Schwier's blog and he mentioned Google maps. In one of his comments Alec Couros pointed out a site called Map24. I check it out and he's right, it's very good and extremely interactive. I encourage you to have a look.

Being able to tap into the research, thoughts and ideas of others makes you understand the power of blogs and RSS.

Sunday, February 20, 2005 

Ubiquitous or Pervasive

Our school techs will banter with each other about these catch phrases. Anytime they introduce new technologies, these words will evidently come into the conversation. It's becoming an inside joke.

I watch the movie Cellular last night.

Fast paced, energetic and thought provoking as it related to technology. I enjoyed the special feature which dealt with many of the questions around the history of cell phones as well as the future. The piece ended with a prediction of one of the experts that we will have embedded chips under our skin and will simply have to think of someone and the chip will dial their number.

I don't know if that's where things are headed but it's becoming more and more clear that the cell phone is quickly become the most prevalent technology we have. This certainly will raise and has already raised some interesting questions for schools.

My take is we need to accept this technology is here to stay and we'd better figure out how we can use it like any other tool to learn. It was mentioned in the special feature that cell phone makers really had no idea what young people would use them for and have since responed to their desires on using them. Cameras, text messaging, web browsing have all been uses that were never intended originally.

I'd like to think that technology is value free but that's perhaps a bit naive. I do however feel that we as educators are in a very influential position in helping students learn to use the technology in the most effective ways.

I give Cellular a thumbs up.

ps. I don't own a cell phone.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 

The Online Community

The learning that takes place with people you've never met is quite a unique experience. Currently I'm enrolled in a graduate class from Athabasca University. The course is called Human Factors in Distance Education. It's project based which I prefer but it's unusual in that most of the students are not educators. We're developing a website on the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection. Learning from non-teachers is valuable.

Will Richardson wrote recently about his thoughts on blogging and the online community. Everyone can potentially be an authority. This can be dangerous but it also opens up great possibilities.

Another great example of the need for teachers to be experts of information literacy not technology.

Monday, February 14, 2005 

Rattling my chains

I heard Alfie Kohn speak this morning. He raised some interesting issues regarding grading and teaching in general. His basic premise is that extrinsic rewards are in direct conflict with intrinsic rewards and thus students will work towards a grade rather than towards learning and the love of it. If our collective long term goal for our students are to help them become critical thinkers, caring citizens and lll's (life long learners), is what were doing with kids now really going to achieve this?

He also talked specifically about the Saskatchewan situation. Commending our province on the one hand for being front runners in opposing the strong move towards standardized testing and "potato sorting" of students. He was also very critical of Saskatchewan's Evergreen Curriculum stating that it's objective heavy mandated approach limits teachers in discovering content because of the perceived need to cover content.

Very interesting stuff and things that I've been pondering for a while. His philosophy of education coincides well with two other speakers I've heard in the last 6 months. Willard Daggett and Ken O'Connor. Maybe we will see a change....

Friday, February 11, 2005 

Weird and yet engaging

We all know the internet is a weird place. Here are two very odd sites that I came across recently.

One is called Nobody Here. I can't really figure it out but it's quite captivating. I'd like to know what others think about this one.

The other one I believe has some mathematical usefulness. I think it's called Drawtoy but I'm not really sure. It allows you to build a kalediescope and apply all kings of effects.

Theses sites are courtesy of a previous post on Stumble upon.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 

Personal, portable computers for everyone

How long before everyone has some type of wireless portable computer.

MIT is currently working on developing a laptop for under $100. The intent is to provide 3rd world countries with technology.

A High School in Arizona is replacing textbooks with laptops. Every student gets a laptop and the cost isn't going to be significantly higher as the cost of textbooks for all classes will exceed the costs of the laptops.

Duke University is giving every freshman an iPod. The iPod comes preloaded with university information and can be used to record lectures and yes, download and listen to music.

My belief is that at some point and it may be sooner than we think, we need 1-1 computing for all students. One to one portable as well. Be it a PDA, laptop or some other technology, it's coming. I hope we don't get caught sleeping and miss out on providing students with the kind of education they need as they enter the 21st century.

Any thoughts?


Let's get this right!

The power of the internet is hard to understand sometimes.

Working with students at King George on Wednesday, they were determined to achieve perfection. As we were shooting segments for their news broadcast, they kept wanting to redo scenes over and over again. I finally had to tell them we only have so much time and they would have to settle for something less than perfection.

Why were they so concerned about the quality of their work? Are they simply perfectionists? Are they this way about all their work?

I think knowing they will have a larger audience makes all the difference. A website called fanfiction illustrates this point well.

Why worry about work that only one person will see, when you can share you work with thousands?

This is what the King George students were essentially telling me.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005 

Stumble....a cool way to find new stuff

I've been using FireFox for a few weeks now and I have to say I'm hooked. I'll be mentioning it at my session "a few of my favourite things" at the Moose Jaw Teachers' Convention at the end of the month.

FireFox is an excellent browser for many reasons. One of my favourite features is extensions. These are small add-in programs that can do many things from the obsure and useless to the very customizable and useful. One I just installed is called Stumble upon.

You choose your interests and then instead of a search engine, it will take you to sites that match your category. You decide whether you like it or not and that information is stored for you. So instead of mindlessly wandering, click stumble and you'd be amazed at what you find. Here are couple of examples of what I found today.

A photo essay on photos over almost 30 years. Very interesting.

Satellite images
....choose from several satellites and get live shots of your location. Tremendous teaching applications. Understanding day and night, etc....

Singing horses...a little flash movie where you can control a four part quartet.


Geocaching and my 73 year old father

My dad turns 73 this month. For Christmas, I bought him a GPS or Global Postioning device.,
I've now got him hooked on geocaching. Geocaching is like a big game of hide and seek but there's more to it. He has found over 10 caches in his winter home of Lakeland, Florida. He planted his first cache this week. He calls me a few times a week to keep me updated. On my recent trip to Florida, we got to do several caches together. We had a blast.
Technology doesn't know how old you are.


Project Edge

An interesting experiment is underway. Two high school students are essentially leading an eJournalism project covering the 2005 Teachers' Convention. Project Edge features 15 students from 5 schools ranging from grade 6-12. We have done similar projects here in Moose Jaw. Full Coverage was part of the 2003 Convention.

The difference with this project is that students are running the show. They are organizing, training and in charge. Myself and another teacher are the support teachers but are working really hard at removing ourselves from the process. I always have trouble keeping my hands off but I'm learning to let it go. As my colleague discovered this morning during a training session, these kids really don't need us here.

Hopefully we can just stay out of their way!

Sunday, February 06, 2005 

Visual Communicator

One of the great products I had a chance to look at at FETC was a product called Visual Communicator.

My involvement with video has me examining many tools and this one has some very special applications and possibilities. It isn't a video editor as such but a program that will create some very professional presentations. Using green screen technology, it can do amazing things. I am hoping our schools that are currently doing video broadcasts, can really benefit from this program.

Here's a really silly example of what it can do.
Watch video

I found a pretty good deal at Tiger Direct for less than $200.



I had the priviledge of attending FETC in Orlando Florida at the end of January. A conference of over 12,000, it featured some excellent sessions, workshops and exhibits. Seeing the latest and greatest in educational technology is not only cool but constantly challenges us as educators to examine how students can learn more and what technologies will provide the best learning experience.

Overall, education certainly has some huge questions to ask.

Willard Daggett, claims Rip Van Winkle would feel more comfortable in most schools today than he would anywhere else. That's pretty sad but probably true. We need to be very proactive and move out of our comfort zone.


Superbowl musings

What were the Eagles thinking in the last quarter? Who was in charge of the time managment? They didn't seem to realize that the clock was ticking away. Then the choice to onside kick was odd. Had they kicked it deep, they could have got the ball back in decent field position instead of the 3 yard line. Also not having anyone back to field the punt was strange as well. Somebody will have to answer those questions.

What's this got to do with education...nothing. But it's a blog and sometimes you just have to get things off your chest!



What do I know

I've been looking at blogs for a while and felt it was time to take the plunge. Let's see how it goes.