April 27, 2010

One-Computer Classroom

The 1988 article by Jim Watson entitled Database Activities in a One-Computer Classroom began...
Students who leave school with just a set of facts will be ill-prepared for a world in which they will change careers 6-10 times. Students need to know how to get the facts and how to use them well. 
Pretty much the same language used 22 years later to get educators to change the way our kids learn at school.

April 17, 2010



Trying whatever it takes today to potty-train our digital native. :-)

April 15, 2010

Using Backchannels to Enrich the Learning Experience

Magda and I are presenting at the IACON Conference on the topic of using backchannels to support learning activities in both traditional and distance learning environments. Many of our resources can be found in my Diigo bookmarks. We hope you'll join the conversation below beginning at 2:50 PM CST.

ITEC Student Technology Fair

Some amazing work was displayed at today's student technology fair hosted by the Iowa Technology Education Connection and University of Northern Iowa. Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help judge or otherwise assist today!

Check out this stop motion video created by 16-yr old Mukund Martin. It's comprised of more than 1500 images!

And this video by two Mid-Prairie Tech Club students.

Today's technology fair was one of three regional events in Iowa and showcased 31 projects created by K-12 students in Eastern Iowa. Two projects earned purple ribbons, and those students are now invited to share their work with educators and administrators from around the state at the annual ITEC Conference in October.

Ning's future questionable

Sadly, Ning just announced that they've cut over 40% of their staff and are discontinuing their free product. Existing free networks will have to start paying or migrate to another service. It's difficult to imagine migrating content from a Ning site to something else and how that could be anything other than copy and paste. However, parts of a Ning site could be ported to other services. For example, Posterous committed to developing a Ning blog importer

Related stories: 

It's unfortunate that K-12 education customers won't be able to continue using Ning for free. Educators have flocked to Ning in the past couple of years. Many teachers have built social networks to support learning activities, and for most it's a good alternative to using Facebook at school. Ning's troubles are going to impact higher education too, though not to the extent that it could derail innovative efforts in K-12 education.

Web 2.0 is a double-edged sword for schools. Educators flock to free tools for good reason ($$$), but they question how long those services will be around. To what extent should they commit their time and energies to innovative web-based services that could disappear or start charging money tomorrow? Henry Thiele argues that we should always have an exit strategy planned for the tools we use. That's easier said than done--innovation in teaching and learning typically stems from the creativity and ambition of a classroom teacher, not the strategic planning of a technology coordinator or district administrator. 

To most of us, Ning seemed well established and their support to K-12 education has been exemplary. Hopefully, even in this very challenging time for the company, they'll find a way to continue supporting schools for free. On the other hand, maybe it's time for school districts who are adopting Ning on a large scale to start supporting the company too. 

April 13, 2010

Innovations in Learning, School

Iowa Public Television recently interviewed John Carver, superintendent of Van Meter schools (one of the 15 Iowa districts with a 1:1 laptop program) and Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa Department of Education. The 16-min video is online at: http://www.iptv.org/video/detail.cfm/7427/tij_20100401_323_clip_2

Topics addressed:

New Editors, Features Announced in Google Docs

Real time collaboration, better comments, autofill and formula bar in spreadsheets, faster performance, standalone drawings. Awesome improvements announced for Google Docs!

April 3, 2010

Second Life Viewer 2 and Shared Media

Second Life just became way more useful! Viewer 2 uses WebKit, making it easy for content creators to rely on Flash and other web browser plug-ins to display dynamic and interactive content from the web in world. This is really exciting!

Imagine the possibilities for working with email, EtherPad, Google Docs, Wikis, You Tube and other typical Web 2.0 tools within the immersive environments of Second LIfe!

For more information, check out this post on the Second Life blog: Shared Media: Bringing the Web Inworld with Viewer 2

Get Viewer 2 and start exploring on your own.