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Accelerating Time Online

According to the polling group Harris Interactive, adult internet users are now spending an average of 13 hours online per week.

From 7 hours average use in 1999 to between 8-9 hours from 2003-2006 and 11 hours in 2007, this latest increase to 13 hours is somewhat analogous to the increase in home broadband penetration in the US. An April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home, a 15% increase from a year earlier.

The age groups that spend the most time online are those aged 30-39 (18 hours) and those aged 25-29 (17 hours) and 40-49 (17 hours).

What sort of future does this portend for your students when they’re adults? 

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For 2010: Apple iPad, 300,000 iPhone Apps & More

If you’ve been paying attention to technology rumors, an Apple tablet (i.e., “iPad”) is at the top of many people’s list for most likely rumor to become reality next year. But when I read a recently published iPad prediction along with the number “300,000″ as a baseline prediction for the number of iPhone applications by the end of 2010, I was intrigued.

Continuing my reading found me focusing on an acceleration in something called “socialityc” applications which is a new category that fuses traditional analytic business applications along with social and collaboration software and how big this category as becoming since so many of us have shifted our attention away from virtually all traditional media sources toward new and social media ones. 

The key? These predictions had come from the well respected, global technology analyst firm IDC which is the real reason I sat up and took notice.

Why should you care? You might not if you were unaffected by the recent economic downturn and your community is giving you money without a referendum. You might not care if you aren’t experiencing any disruption, new opportunities or benefits from the internet or web. But if you have an interest in what is most likely to occur with technology in 2010, read on. 

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Jolicloud: The *Perfect* Education OS?

During the next six months of your decision-making process for the 2011 academic year, I predict you’ll be hearing A LOT about Jolicloud and other netbook/tablet/device operating systems (OS) that are so simple to use that even a computer novice will take to it instantly.

Built from the ground up as a “radically new OS” based on Linux which and optimized for netbooks, Jolicloud comes pre-installed with drivers for Wifi, sound, Bluetooth, 3G networks and optimal screensize. Replete with applications that are key for the always-on and always-connected among us (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) along with backup to cloud servers and an app directory with “one click install” for any applications, this is truly a dream OS for those of us who’ve had to service, support and train users on OS’s that seemed to get in the way of the tasks these folks wanted to accomplish.

There are already groups working on K-12 education distributions (or “distros” for short) as well as ways to quickly configure stock netbooks by removing Windows or Linux that ships with them and instead replace them with Jolicloud.

Recently infused with $4.2M in a Series A round of venture capital (which is the first significant round a hot young company receives), means that many others see the possibilities. This is especially true when one notices that Jolicloud received the support of the two co-founders of the wildly successful Skype.

Below is a snippet on Jolicloud from the popular San Francisco-based internet TV show, Tekzilla, by Revision3 and it will give you a better look-see at this appealing OS for netbooks:

Shmoop: The Future of Writing Education?

Whether we like it or not, online resources that students use for their writing assignments (e.g., Wikipedia, Fact Monster, Awesome Library, The Futures Channel) certainly enable them to get quickly to an output or outcome for a class and are continuing to grow in number.

In numerous in-person and online (e.g., Classroom 2.0) conversations with teachers of courses where writing is core to their term deliverables, I’ve found that many are becoming overwhelmed with the accelerating number of online resources that students can leverage and approving or disapproving of their use of these resources is burning up more and more of their time.

Besides vetting the sites and their appropriateness for use as sources for papers, the receipt of the student writings cause teachers to invest time in policing plagiarism, ensuring source citing has actually been done and is accurate, and that their students actually enjoyed the process and learned the material.

There is a resource that has continually impressed me with their keen engagement of students as well as the way in which they deliver rich content for teachers, streamlined processes, content and policies that radically reduce those feelings of being overwhelmed with assurances student work hasn’t plagiarized, been cited accurately and that students have likely enjoyed the writing experience. That resource is Shmoop.

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How Much Data Do We Consume?

How much data and information do we in the U.S. consume? What kind of data is it? University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers asked these, and many other questions, in a just released research report (PDF) which contains stunning results.

My emphasis from their executive summary: "In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included."

That's a lot of data! What impressed me about their findings was that they took in to account multiple source inputs since, as I've found, many of these research studies focus on the new, internet-centric data consumption as though traditional forms of data delivery (the "old" above) are suddenly irrelevant.

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Acrobat in Education

As I pay attention to the strategic and tactical moves of the major players in computing -- Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, to name a few -- there is no question that the struggles to be the dominant provider in a cloud computing world is far from settled.

With their proprietary approach to the runtime outputs from their various tools (e.g., Flash) coupled with what they're delivering to mainstream computing with PDF, for example, it's been interesting to watch the continued evolution in tools and capabilities surrounding all of these companies, but Adobe stands out in education, especially in the area of PDF and how they've extended it to the cloud.

When I first saw a technology called "Carousel" at the Federal Office Systems Expo in Washington, D.C. in the 1990's -- which later shipped as something called the Portable Document Format or "PDF" -- I was thrilled to see a cross-platform, runtime file format that would make it extremely easy to deliver a digital document to others that would retain the formatting and fidelity intended by the creator of that document.

We know the positive results of the PDF format, right? But did you know that there have been major strides in the free Adobe Reader software that is perfect for education? 

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Virtual Magazines, Newspapers, Books...

When I wrote this post about the changing nature of ebooks, most of it was startling obvious to most technology players, and yet I find that most strategists are intrigued but in the dark about what's really going on with tablet devices.

Publisher Condé Nast has been very public about their preparations for the rumored upcoming Apple Tablet with Wired magazine, but there is no question in my mind that publishers are going to be hedging their bets with Amazon's Kindle and even possible reference designs (which PC manufacturer's could deliver) like the one Microsoft showed in this concept video called "Courier".

This week has seen a flurry of activity and discussion surrounding major publishers and their magazine prototypes like the one in the video below.

Will these tablets and devices ship, enabling all of these exciting and rich publications to be created and delivered on a reader/tablet type device? I have no doubt the answer is, "yes." Will there be a model for publishers to charge for their content? Absolutely, and many of us believe it will be an online store, similar to buying applications for the iPhone or iPod Touch, both of which can now take advantage of Apple's rollout of "micropayments" for, as an example, games that are enabled for the game publisher to charge for incremental play (i.e., additional levels of the game or in-game purchases that enhance game play).

Take a peek at Time's Sports Illustrated prototype that will help you see the possibilities that 2010 will bring with an entirely new class of devices, content delivered to and through them, and what this means for everything I've been discussing on this blog as it pertains to the world our students will inherit.

Regator: Aggregating the Web's Best Blog Posts

With tens of millions of blogs written by people more highly educated and affluent than the general population, is it any wonder that so many of us have identified, and read frequently, the musings and articles by this group?

Authors, academics, scientists, doctors, teachers, and those in school administrations write and publish blogs. Some of my favorites are by librarians and museum curators who have a gift at uncovering and presenting the core or essence of a topic or theme.

Is it any wonder why I have 181 blogs subscribed to in my Google Reader? While I don’t read them all, my skimming ability allows me to quickly scroll through posts and discover top ones.

That said, with the maturation of a very interesting service, Regator, I might end up migrating away from my hand-picked blogs and instead use their curated and categorized posts from top blogs…it’s that good. 

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Technology Natives, Videogames & Learning

Gamers When I wrote the post, "Videogames and Positive Reinforcement" about videogaming and what "digital natives" demand for iterative learning today, I received several emails from people I know, and interesting conversations ensued, about which companies are delivering on the sorts of learning gaming I'd discussed. 

As a consequence, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for innovative companies delivering educational learning games that take a different approach from traditional learning games and focus on successive and iterative failures and positive reinforcement of success.

Quantum Learning Technologies is a company whose approach to educational gaming is on target and their approach is articulated in their mission statement, "To provide online educational programs that teach strategies which enable students to become better readers and critical, creative thinkers" and that their organization, "[...] meets the needs of today's learners - "Technology Natives" - through scientifically developed and proven cognitive-based learning approaches."

As I initially poked around their site, I was struck by the pedestrian nature of the layout of it and thought, "Oh...they're just another educational gaming company." But after watching several of the video tours and trying the games out for myself, I quickly saw that they offered something quite different than what's come before. 

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Chrome OS: Is This the Perfect Education Platform?

Google-ChromeOS Consider what would happen if you were to issue staff, faculty and/or students inexpensive netbooks (which cost from $200-$400) that run a self-updating, free operating system. Further, what if that tiny little netbook could boot in seven seconds and be on your wireless network in just a few seconds more and your folks would be accessing any web applications required? 

No more payments for commercial operating system updates; no anti-virus software would be necessary; and applications in the 'cloud' could be accessed immediately while the operating system would just take care of itself automagically (and for free).  

Google is delivering just such an operating system called "Chrome OS". It was announced in July to much fanfare (especially amongst those of us with propellers on our beanies), even though it was minimally one year away from becoming available. Last week's announcement that Google is open sourcing the platform -- called Chromium OS -- was the icing on the cake that has convinced much of techdom that an internet-centric computing platform is here, it will be molded and shaped by the technical ecosystem, and will be essentially free. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Accelerating Change are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.