Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Take Out from the Drive-thru

"More people now visit Apple's 326 stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Walt Disney Co.'s four biggest theme parks last year, according to data from Apple and the Themed Entertainment Association. Apple's annual retail sales per square foot have soared to $4,406—excluding online sales, according to investment bank Needham & Co. Add in online sales, which include iTunes, and the number jumps to $5,914. That's far higher than the sales per square foot and online sales of jeweler Tiffany & Co. ($3,070), luxury retailer Coach Inc. ($1,776), and electronics retailer Best Buy Co. ($880), according to estimates." -- Wall Street Journal

"We're still talking about bringing education into the 21st century - yet we're already eleven years into it. Our society, culture and industry are all forging ahead at exponential speed leaving the practice of education in their wake. We could quote overused cliches such as, "it's not about the technology" but frankly finding ways to place technology in our schools is an important first step. However it's just a first step. Technology has become a core component of almost every facet of our daily lives but modernizing education requires significantly more commitment than simply providing students with access to technology." -- Sam Gliksman


"Random" Flickr CC Photo by JPgt3

"The model that says learn while you’re at school, while you’re young, the skills that you will apply during your lifetime is no longer tenable. The skills that you can learn when you’re at school will not be applicable. They will be obsolete by the time you get into the workplace and need them, except for one skill. The one really competitive skill is the skill of being able to learn. It is the skill of being able not to give the right answer to questions about what you were taught in school, but to make the right response to situations that are outside the scope of what you were taught in school. We need to produce people who know how to act when they’re faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared." --- Seymour Paypert

"We are putting our lives in the cloud, as companies and consumers store everything from family photos to corporate business secrets on remote servers. Beefing up online security is of paramount importance." --NYT Editorial:

"Social networking behemoth Facebook reached 1 trillion pageviews in June." -- John Paul Titlow

"More people now visit Apple's 326 stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Walt Disney Co.'s four biggest theme parks last year, according to data from Apple and the Themed Entertainment Association. Apple's annual retail sales per square foot have soared to $4,406—excluding online sales, according to investment bank Needham & Co. Add in online sales, which include iTunes, and the number jumps to $5,914. That's far higher than the sales per square foot and online sales of jeweler Tiffany & Co. ($3,070), luxury retailer Coach Inc. ($1,776), and electronics retailer Best Buy Co. ($880), according to estimates." -- Wall Street Journal

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Update on Staff iPad P.D.

A month ago, I wrote "Ten Things for Three Labs", describing our scheme for providing drop-in labs for helping staff with a set of techie skills they were assigned to achieve before August 30. Included among these goals were basic proficiency with Moodle, Google Calendar, the iPad camera, and some staple iPad apps. This week we hosted our third lab and had about 30 staff members in attendance. I was pretty blown away by the turn out, and the level of proficiency with the iPad has really advanced. Best of all the atmosphere in the room was spirited-- lots of laughter.

Our trainers continue to turn out in high numbers. Perhaps most impressive of all, one teacher completed her ten challenges and decided she was ready to volunteer as a "trainer." Very cool.

One side of our room during a busy "lab
We've scheduled one more lab on August 14 before school starts in earnest. Mercy 2.0 moves on apace!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mercy 2.0 Boot Camp

Our new teachers (and counselor) attended "Mercy 2.0 Boot Camp" this week. Several of our veteran staff members also attended. The "drill sergeant" for these sessions was Alison Kline-Kator, our brilliant religious studies teacher. Alison has a masters degree in Instructional Technology and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership. Her greatest credential for having run this camp is her innovative approach to teaching and her insatiable curiosity.

Here is the program she laid out for our "newbies"

Mercy 2.0 Boot Camp Agenda
Monday – Overview and Setting Up
  • 1:1 Teaching and Learning, National Educational Technology Standards
  • Overview of hardware, software
  • iPad basics
  • PowerSchool basics
  • Google basics – Gmail, Groups, Calendar
  • Dropbox
  • Moodle overview

Tuesday – How will I create content and materials?
  • Brief overview of Keynote, Pages, Google docs
  • CloudOn
  • ExplainEverything
  • Evernote
  • Moodle – creating assignments, assessments

Wednesday – What tools can I use with my students?
  • iAnnotate
  • Garage Band
  • iMovie
  • Photos
  • Gale Databases
  • LanSchool
My every impression was that I have some wonderful new colleagues who intend to help us stay at the leading edge of instructional technology.

photo by S. Smith

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Special Invitations

Flicker Creative Commons Photo by deeljea designs.
I've always taken a lot of pleasure from planning my courses.  Consequently, I am enjoying getting ready for my AP Government class in August.  The first home work assignment will be pretty simple.  The students will have to write me an email explaining why they took the course and what AP score is necessary to earn credit at the colleges they may be attending.

But there also is a bit of digital housekeeping.  They will be asked to accept invitations to six collaborative spaces:

* The Blogging about Vlogs Blogger site where students will post their videos on topical matters and which serve as the basis for current events discussion from all members of the class.

*A Google Doc for signing up to do a video and lead a class discussion.

*A Google Doc spreadsheet for self-grading the volts and blogs.

*A Google Doc sign up sheet for selecting one of the required documentary films to view individually.

*A Blogger site which will serve for posting the podcasts students will create in order to review their documentaries and then comment on their classmates podcasts.

*A shared Dropbox folder for submitting some assignments.

In a coming blog post, I'll share my list of documentaries and explain the podcast / review process.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our New Multimedia Lab

After considerable reflection, we have recently come to a final decision about our new multimedia lane equipment. This lab will complement the high powered P.C. lab where our fine school newspaper and yearbook is currently designed. It ins high-end Adobe software.

The new lab will host 26 Apple iMac computers. Such classes as Design Fundamentals (which all 9th graders will be taking), Graphic Design, and Broadcasting. But of course all students will have access to the lab when classes are not scheduled for its use. We are thrilled to be building a lab with the following hardware and software configuration:

1.5-inch: 2.7GHz
2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
1920 x 1080 resolution
8GB memory
1TB hard drive

Final Cut Pro X
Adobe CS6 suite
Microsoft Office Suite

We are hoping that this high powered lab will play a role in developing an even more robust multimedia curriculum in the not too distant future.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bricks and Mortar

Ironically, even though (in my opinion) my technology in the classroom experiences were the stronger area of my application to become an administrator, most of my summer work has been dominated by building needs and plans. A recent telephone conference call with fellow ADEs, Lucy Gray and Cheryl Davis provided a nice change of pace. The two of them are flying in for Mercy's staff in-service on August 23. We are developing an exciting day which will include a keynote presentation by Cheryl, workshop sections, and project creation/sharing.

More on this, soon. Back to Bricks and mortars.

In my new position, I meet lots of vendors and contractors, taking bids on everything from gym floors to electrical substations. I was thinking about this recently, contrasting it with my career in the classroom. And what I considered was this-- Those folks have accepted as necessary a digital world. Invariably they use smart phones, and of course no one mails me a quote on paper. I have seen iPads used by sound technicians, architects, electrical engineers, and furniture salespersons. They've used them to take notes, make presentations, and show me configurations and designs.

No doubt some of these folks have been compelled to adopt technology by their employers. Others see it as an obvious means to get ahead or make a sale. In either case, competition is driving technology integration.

Here is what I am driving at: Teachers are relatively quite insulated from these pressures, but I see the great majority of our staff as accepting tech integration if not for their own benefit, at least as necessary for their students as they prepare for life beyond high school.

"WhatIt Was" by permission of bill.d

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Take Out from the Opinion Drive-thru

Stanford Launches iPhone/iPad Course on iTunes

Stanford has teamed up with the social learning platform Piazza to enable students to pose questions to course instructors, other students and app developers around the world 24 hours a day. It’s a feature that on-campus Stanford students already have access to, but it’s a first for iTunesU. And it adds a whole new degree of interactivity to the iTunesU course experience.


Twitter Homework

I am wondering how many teachers around the world are preparing to write a post on the value of Twitter in the classroom. No doubt, the debate rages on, and will for years to come. For me and a small percentage of my students, it is no longer an issue. We have answered that question for ourselves and have embarked on journey together to integrate Twitter with our curriculum while trying to embrace a more “out of the classroom/school day” learning mindset.


GPS Endangers Paper Maps

Transportation departments around the country are in the middle of reprioritizing their spending amid times of falling revenue, and paper maps could be on the chopping block.


Are Open Educational Resources the Key to Global Economic Growth?

OERs are learning materials that can be accessed, used, and transformed by anyone, anywhere. Though the concept is simple, the economic potential is tremendous.


The 25 Best School Websites

Here are the criteria we kept in mind for these sites:


Ease of use



Use of technology




Google’s Spring Cleaning

Technology creates tremendous opportunities to improve people’s lives. But to make the most of them, we need to focus—or we end up doing too much and not having the impact we strive for. So last fall we started a spring clean and since then we’ve closed or combined more than 30 products.



Creative Commons Photo courtesy of mag3737

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Truly Mixed Tech Environment

My friend and colleague, Tom James (Mercy's Director of IT), shared some interesting numbers with me, a couple of days ago. At most recent count, our students have ordered 274 iPads. Of course our incoming ninth graders are mandated to purchase the Apple product. However, one third of the purchases have come from our returning students.

Thus, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Those schools which are adopting the iPad find that the price point allows them to put classroom sets of devices in their students' hands for the first time. Our circumstances of transitioning from a Windows laptop to and iOS tablet brings some special advantages and challenges. An obvious advantage is our seven years of experience in 1:1 computing. Most of our staff and students flourish in a digital learning environment and come to the iPad with immediate ideas of how to leverage it.

Still, our teachers will have a special challenge. Unless they have an all-ninth grade class, they will be in a mixed environment. In other words they will have both HP laptops and iPads in the same classroom. (And such will be the case for three years). Fortunately we are not buying our training for this "off the rack". We are have developed a unique professional development scheme for our coming circumstances, and our tech department of Tom and Gary Bank (Network Administrator) help us quickly surmount challenges as they arise

Personally, I think a mixed environment is fantastic as this replicates the real world where there exists no Microsoft, Apple, or Google monopoly on the types of computing folks use for work and pleasure. In fact we have decided to embrace the mixture by providing our student with both Mac and P.C. multimedia labs. As our Principal frequently remarks, we are not an "Apple", "HP", or "Google" school.

I find the prospect of this unique challenge daunting, but exciting. I believe we will all rise to the occasion and make something very special happen.
Creative Commons photo by markchadwickart

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Six Short & Sweet Quotes

Larry Page (Flickr CC photo by niallkennedy

You can't change what you don't notice and not noticing won't make it go away. Each of us has an infinite capacity for self-deception. To avoid pain, we rationalize, minimize, deny, and go numb. The antidote is the willingness to look at yourself with unsparing honesty, and to hold yourself accountable to the person you want to be." -- Tony Schwartz

"Research and; Development are closely tied to risk-taking. As an educator, I am constantly challenging my students to push themselves in the 21st Century Skill of risk-taking, a key force behind invention, innovation and, I believe, general success in 2011 and beyond. -- "Noah Geisel

'What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon it destroys our democracy." - - John Dewey

"We can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture." -- Virginia Heffernan

“Computing is moving onto mobile . Even if I have a computer next to me, I’ll still be on my mobile device.” -- Larry Page

"I think to prepare you children for the society they will be living in, learning Ruby on Rails, PhotoShop or FinalCut with a private tutor are going to be the new violin lessons." -- Kristen Winkler

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Eight Quotes about Learning

”if you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” —Adolf Berle

“Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” —Noam Chomsky

"Assessment should be a continuous feedback loop, one that is integrated into the learning process, and where the feedback improves the competency of the learner. Assessments should be used as opportunities to develop competencies and the related sense of achievement." -- Jackie Gerstein, EdD

"Learning is the creation and removal of connections between the entities, or the adjustment of the strengths of those connections." -- Stephen Downes

"A sense that e-mail and texting are “poor writing” is analogous, then, to one that the Rolling Stones produce “bad music” because they don’t use violas. Note that one cannot speak capital letters or punctuation. If we accept e-mail and texting as a new way of talking, then their casualness with matters of case and commas is not only expected but unexceptionable." -- John McWhorter

You hav 2 disrupt something to move forward. eg Youtube disrupted MTV. 1:1 disrupting teacher as knowledge controller -- Dorothy Burt

"The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn." - Cicero”

Creativ Commons Photo of Cicero bust by art moose

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