Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crisp September Links on Touch Devices

Amazon Challenges iPad's Dominance
While Bezos is looking to battle Apple in the tablet market, he is also mimicking the company's focus and its founder . . .Steve Jobs.


MIT Researchers Use iPhones to Detect Cataracts
Here’s another way the iPhone is revolutionizing medicine — it’s now a cheap, portable tool for detecting cataracts, the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

HP Shutters web OS Phones and Touch Pad
Turn out the lights on webOS as HP is discontinuing all devices running its OS acquired from Palm for $1.2 billion. This includes all phones and the just released TouchPad tablet. 

Amazon Has High Hopes for Its iPad Competitor "is on the verge of introducing its own tablet, analysts predict, a souped-up color version of its Kindle e-reader that will undercut the iPad in price and aim to steal away a couple of million in unit sales by Christmas.

Ipod Touch Resources

The iPod Touch and iPad are very user friendly. However, there are still tips and tricks you can use to make better use of your mobile device.

The iPad's Cool but It's No Substitute for a Real Laptop

I've been using and loving Apple laptops as my main digital work platforms since 1996, and have been an iPad 2 owner for just going on eight weeks, but early days though it may be, I have to say the alleged iPad "magic" continues to elude me.

Analysts:  The iPod is Dying
The nail in the coffin may have been Apple’s recent decision to replace the iPod touch as its back-to-school discount workhorse with a $100 iTunes discount card.

Mac OS X surges in business, thanks to the iPad

Research shows that Apple is growing significantly in the enterprise as more companies offer it as an option to employees -- and as most employees take up the offer.


Flickr CC Photo by Mark Adsit

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eight Pillars of Innovation & Other Links

Flickr CC Photo by a11sus
The Eight Pillars of Innovation
  • Have a mission that matters
  • Think big, but start small
  • Strive for continual innovation but not instant perfection
  • Look for ideas everywhere
  • Share everything
  • Spark with imagination; fuel with data
  • Be a platform
  • Never fail to fail

In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores
Schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning. . . . .Advocates for giving schools a major technological upgrade — which include powerful educators, Silicon Valley titans and White House appointees — say digital devices let students learn at their own pace, teach skills needed in a modern economy and hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets. [They contend that] standardized tests, the most widely used measure of student performance, don’t capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop. But they also concede that for now there is no better way to gauge the educational value of expensive technology investments.

NCTE Twenty-first Century Literacies
  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Windows 8 Gets Ready for Its Big Debut

The company has also said it wants an operating system as at home on an 8-inch tablet as it is on a powerful desktop connected to large-screen monitors. . . . Microsoft’s choices here are critical as its traditional strength in desktops and laptops is coming under assault from a variety of challengers ranging from new mobile devices to Google’s ChromeOS to Apple’s resurgent Mac business. . . . Among the details Microsoft has shared are plans for much faster boot times (a perennial promise) as well as a controversial move to bring Office’s “ribbon” interface to the Windows desktop.

 Schools Can Learn What Schools Can Learn from Google, IDEO, and Pixar

A community about to build or rehab a school often creates checklists of best practices, looks for furniture that matches its mascot, and orders shiny new lockers to line its corridors. These are all fine steps, but the process of planning and designing a new school requires both looking outward (to the future, to the community, to innovative corporate powerhouses) as well as inward (to the playfulness and creativity that are at the core of learning).

Five Reasons Why YouTube Rocks the Classroom
Jon Corippo, a Google Certified Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, was among the group, and came back with ideas about what YouTube was great for.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Instructional Tech at Our School

Two nights ago, with a colleague,  I made a presentation to the parents of our ninth graders about our 1 to 1 computing program.

Once again I have found that I learn quite a bit by making a presentation on a subject.  Since our 1 to 1 computing program is six years old, we can now point to some very significant elements of technology that are now commonplace in our curriculum:

* Coursework and activities delivered online.

* Group Collaboration through shared documents and wikis.

* Multimedia presentations by students and teachers.

Without question, the one area which lags behind expectations would be ebooks.  While a couple of the courses have gone bookless altogether, our students still carry enormous book bags full of texts.  Primarily this is due to the  publishers dragging their heels. As ebooks become more commonplace we can move toward less expensive devices and enter a new phase of digital learning.

Here are some slides from my presentation:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Subway Provides a Lesson about Testing

Joshua Bell
When I was at ISTE 2011, I attended Steven Kalmon's session with the dry title of "Assessing Progress toward Digital Age Learning."   Its an important topic, actually.  As employers more greatly value skills like creativity, initiative, problem solving, and collaboration with team; how do schools' assess progress in those skill areas?

Conventional testing does not remotely measure these things.  How could one use a multiple choice test to gauge a group experience in problem solving?  Kalmon set the table with a fascinating video recorded by The Washington Post.  The extraordinary violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell goes down into a D.C. subway, opens the case of his Stradivarius and begins to play exquisitely.  Folks simply pass him by.  Now of course some, might have no ear at all for the violin, but clearly most admittedly peg Bell as a street musician/beggar and simply can't "hear" the brilliance.  Check it out:

Here's the deal:  Policy makers, administrators, parents, and teachers who see all manner of "objective testing" -- the kind they have been socialized as being legitimate - are likely to be oblivious to the critical talents their students may be acquiring.  Of course the greater possibility is they are reluctant to change open up their ears because they do not design the kinds of activities to allow the talents to flourish.  Unless we continue to challenge them, they will keep plodding through the familiar routine that has gripped American education for eons.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hit the Links at the Drive-thru

"Custom Cuff Links"  Flickr CC Photo by mandymooo

I am Young Detroit
 "I Am Young Detroit" is not just a blog, it’s a movement that highlights Detroit’s young Doers: Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders under 40. We profile Young Detroiters who are making their mark on the City of Detroit through their accomplishments and service to the community. We also publish positive news clips from our favorite sources and brief insights into other cool things happening in Detroit. 

"Three Keys for a Successful E-Mail Portfolio Implementation" (via Tim Kamps on Twitter)
David Niguidula, author and founder of Ideas Consulting, the success of an e-portfolio initiative depends to some degree on the approach schools take to the implementation. . . . Research has shown that schools that incorporate portfolios as a teaching and learning initiative typically have more success than those that view them primarily as a technology project.

7 Platforms for Changing the Future
As with every other branch of traditional media, the Internet has pushed the publishing industry to a critical inflection point. . . . Disrupting the mainstream marketplaces for journalism, literature, and the fundamental conventions of reading and writing themselves, here are seven startups that promise to reshape the way we create and consume ideas.

PayPal Seeing $10M In Mobile Payments Per Day
Last year, mobile payments were up 300 percent from the previous year, so PayPal could exceed the growth rate from 2010.

The Visible College  (via will Richardson)
Class begins when the classroom door closes.” This image is enshrined in many practices, much popular memory, and even campus policies. But the concept may well be turned inside out in the near future as several trends coincide, altering the ways we teach and learn. That shut door is about to be wrenched open and our closed classes drawn into a global, visible college

 Using LinkedIn – to Drive Traffic, Build Community, Generate Sales and Build Influence  

Not a day goes by when we don’t see Twitter and Facebook as being talked about as essential social networks for bloggers to be investing time into – but . . . I 

[Darren Rowse]
wonder if some have forgotten about a little – LinkedIn.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Go-to Technologies as an Administrator

Wikispaces home page for Qatar Academy
Of course I am only a rookie, but In my first two months on the job, I have been leaning heavily* on the following technologies:

I've given this meeting scheduling software a real workout because I have set up several meetings which included 6-20 persons.  One can use Doodle to whip up a poll in a couple of minutes, deploy it, and then determine how many persons can attend at the offered times. And they don't have to be using any particular calendar software.  They just click through the link I send them and respond to a simple "poll".   I upgraded ($39) to the paid version without ads, but the free version is great.  I use this once or twice a week with efficient results.

iPad + Notes
Loyal Drive-thru readers may recall that I received my wife's hand-me-down iPad last spring.  I didn't begin using it as a workhorse until I became an administrator.  I take nearly all my meeting notes with it, and the "Notes" application synchs with my desktop, laptop, and iPhone, so it has become indispensable as my number of meetings has increased.

UPad +  Targus StylusiPad 
One of our vendors and I did a walk-through of our school.  We both had iPads, but he was jotting down handwritten notes continually.  When I inquired, he told me about how much he depended on the  inexpensive app, UPad, and his Targus Stylus for jotting notes.  He had tried out different solutions, and was sold on this pairing.  Based on his testimony, I purchased mine the same day and there is no looking back.  Since school started, I often walk the halls during the early morning, chatting with students and staff.  When they make requests or suggestions, I  jot them down on UPad and try to act on them before the day is through.  The advantage of course over a paper notepad is that I never lose or mislay these notes!

I love Wikispaces and keep trying to lure (and yes, drive) teachers to our staff wiki.  There we can share discussions and resources without face-to-face meetings.  This seems like a no-brainer to me. One of my big projects has been a "refresh" of the school's hallways and common areas.  Since June we have had several meetings and discussions both in person and online.  All of this has taken place at the wiki, making this one of the most transparent enterprises I have experienced on a large scale.

While I haven't used Zoomerang surveys as often as the other resources, it has served an extremely important task.  As part of our strategic planning for technology, we surveyed the staff on current usage. Using the "Pro" account purchased by one of our departments, I drafted a survey, submitted it to review, and beta-tested it.  Recently I deployed it.  50 persons responded and I have found that the results are easy to digest and share.  If I need to create another survey, I will definitely use Zoomerang.

* I have not received any form of compensation for using or recommending any of these products.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Electives Anyone?

I posted this to our staff discussion forum a couple of months ago,  It garnered zero interest other than skepticism from the parties it would help the most  *   but it did not get any traction. . . . However I still think its a good idea, so I'll share it here:
Having a daughter attend Mercy was wonderful and eye-opening. An example of the latter
was the frustration and trouble of trying to schedule her for electives. Granted, her interests
were broad, but the range of choices was surprisingly straight-jacked by our many graduation requirements. Since then, further state requirements have made elective choices even narrower for our most curious, eager, and students.

Flickr CC photo by rrrrred
The plethora of requirements has another detrimental effect as well-- They make it harder for a tuition based school to stand out from the pack. Colleagues I have with whom I have spoken agree that Mercy could have more dynamic programs in the arts if students could simply fit the courses into their schedules. Some of our high achievers would like to take more A.P. classes. I myself would love to see us develop enriched programs in media communications and design. Standing out in any of these areas would help make Mercy a “destination point” in the same way that kids come here to swim.

However, I know better than to take on the issue requirement modification. I also accept
(though dislike) that for the foreseeable future we will remain departmentalized.
So what to do? Well, I have an idea, and invite you to hurl the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at it. Who knows, maybe it will emerge stronger and serve us as we seek to grow our curriculum without radically increasing our number of students

I suggest that we offer some of our information-based classes as summer hybrid/online courses. These courses would be developed by OUR teachers who would then “teach” them online. Students who wished to pursue special interests (graphic design , music, religion, A.P.) could enroll in these courses at specified junctures as “summer school.” They would then be free to take electives (either within the department or throughout the school)
Take a course like American Government. It is required. Much of the course experience
requires learning certain facts and entertaining points of view. All of this could be delivered
online (with or without a required text book). It could be offered as a “summer school” hybrid between the student’s 9th & 10th grades.

I would never say that simply learning information about government is the same as taking my American Government course, because my personal contribution, as well as the projects and discussions are so critical. But there is no reason that one could not offer experiences to the individual students that would go beyond merely learning the facts. It would be a MERCY course, not some go-through-the-motions summer school class or online offering. I think of how members of our English Department emphasize how important it is for students to practice and practice their writing. In a hybrid course this would be quite possible-- The students could be assigned as much reading or writing as she might otherwise get. My hybrid course summer school student could see films, do projects, write research papers in addition to doing her reading and testing.

This approach strikes me as much better than “independent study”. It would be less ad-hoc
and the teachers would be compensated for designing and teaching the courses. 

Too utopian? Well, simply consider what a difference it would mean for our students and our electives if one or two of different courses were available to go-getters every summer. 

Let me know what you think!

 * See comment below to explain correction.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interesting LINKS for Going back to School

All A-Twitter about Education

"Back to School" by Timothy Valentine

Some of the top tweeters in education.

14 Free and Simple Digital Media Tools
With so many free (or inexpensive) useful tech tools out there, editing video, audio, or photos doesn’t have to cost a fortune – or leave you with a headache. If your digital media needs are simple, your tools can be simple, too.

Apps for Poets

Poets may quickly fall in love with their iPhones and iPads through a number of fantastic apps. What kind of apps are there? Well, there are apps for reading poetry, writing poetry, jotting down snippets and ideas, recording poetry, and everything in between. The iPhone and iPad have become the solution for the modern day poet. These apps are for those that love the artistry of words.

The Visible College  (via will Richardson)

Class begins when the classroom door closes.” This image is enshrined in many practices, much popular memory, and even campus policies. But the concept may well be turned inside out in the near future as several trends coincide, altering the ways we teach and learn. That shut door is about to be wrenched open and our closed classes drawn into a global, visible college

The Case for Graphic Novels in Education
Graphic novels encompass such a wide range of themes and create such layered experiences through word and art that they actually belong in classrooms . . . . Because contemporary students have a much wider visual vocabulary than we did growing up, I contend that the format offers great opportunities to teach as well as to entertain.

10 Major Mobile Learning Trends to Watch For

While the applications of mobile learning are growing all the time, Online College has highlighted some of the major trends here, showing tge changes in how we teach, learn and interact in educational environments.

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