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Passionate Communication

Ken

A friend of mine told me that what we do is make someone else’s story our own. I agree with that, in part, but that can never be the complete goal. For instance, almost anyone can learn the specifications of a product, and then regurgitate them into a post, but that’s only understandable to a very small population of readers. What’s necessary is passionate communication. By that I mean, talking to someone at the company, as high up as you can get, talking to users beyond just those given to you in a press release, and most importantly—figuring out the solution or product yourself. That last part is doing your homework. The real job is to take what you’ve learned, and make it understandable to the widest range of audience, and at the same time make it appropriate to those with higher-level understanding, too. Right, it’s a lot like teaching.

In my time covering education technology I’ve been lucky enough to work for two magazine publishers, at different publications, who really understand going to the source, being creative, passionate, and taking the reporting beyond slapping a press release on a page. With that kind of support, sharing education products through an educator’s eyes has helped me know what products can do in real classrooms. I’ve met educators using products and passionate marketplace people. I’ve walked conferences interviewing at booths, and walked in schools interviewing administrators, staff, students, and parents. In every case, I’ve never stopped at just taking the rehearsed story line, but instead I’ve tried to make the people I’ve interviewed feel comfortable enough to really tell me the story behind a product, or how a product is really being used. I have been blessed to be able to do that.

There are many stages in a career, and for me, it’s been careers, so at the end of this stage I wanted my final post at Scholastic to be a positive reminder, lesson if you will, of what is really important. Certainly, you need to convey all the features and specifications appropriate, but if you forget the passion and the education reasons for using a product or solution, you’ve bypassed the main story line, and most likely have something that is unreadable or clear to the people you really want to reach.

I know that changing education doesn’t always require technology, but technology needs to be part of the solution. We need more positive stories from real schools, dealing with real issues, in these bad times. We need to hear more than PowerPoint for interactive devices, and simple lessons for software and apps. And while I love that academies have the backing to do most anything they think, there are public school districts doing amazing things that we never hear about—in places we never hear about. If there is a call to action that I can leave with—that’s it—let’s here more from those voices—it makes common sense to do so.

While I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every minute, I can say that I’ve enjoyed passionately communicating with those who would listen and talk new ideas—and I hope to find a place to keep doing that. For now—from here—until we meet again...

Stop Teaching from the Shadows

BoardshadowTeaching in the shadows at the whiteboard is equivalent to teaching in front of a dusty chalkboard. It’s what drove the overhead projectors out of the bowling alleys and into the classrooms more than 20 years ago. If your teachers have only the interactive technology to block the board and cast a shadow on a lesson, it's time to stand back to get a better view. And if you're an administrator just looking for interactive choices, and not sure if teachers will use them, there's a few helpful thoughts here for you, too.

Getting teachers away from the from the front of the classroom, and into the mix, with students won’t quite look like individual instruction, but it will get more actors to participate on the learning stage. And that stage can be the entire classroom.

In my day, the only way to teach interactively (with tech) was by using a projector and whiteboard with a cheap, wireless mouse. If you walked around the room, but not too far, you could control the teacher-station computer with the wireless mouse, and if you had a wireless keyboard, you could let students around the room type in answers and sentences. Having said all that, I’m certain there are teachers out there still doing it, or thinking about trying it. In the old days, I did more, I actually bought a wireless keyboard and mouse for each of my staff members. Oh, I bought a lot of batteries, too! That was then and this is now...

There is no reason you should go the wireless mouse/keyboard direction today. Almost every whiteboard, document camera, response system, or projector company makes or supplies a far better tablet/slate classroom teaching/presentation device. And many interactive device companies will, or are offering software solutions that will work with iPads and other computer tablets. That software will allow teachers the same classroom instruction opportunities, and most likely more, and the options for getting teachers out of the shadows continues to expand.

If you still question whether teachers will use the equipment, maybe this answer from a recent interview will help. After observing many teachers in a school using tablet/slate/pad controllers easil, I asked, “You seem to handle teaching from anywhere in the classroom, and operating software on your whiteboard easily with that device. What would you say to teachers, who may be a bit leery of walking away from the stylus at the board?” The teacher looked at me, smiled, and said, “I pretend it’s a mouse.” Now, that was simple to understand, and it reminded me of my wireless mouse and keyboard years ago. It was easy to do, because she thought of it as familiar.

Because there's a choice when it comes to these devices, my advice is to try them out to see which is best for your needs. Choosing one that fits into your existing tech mix may be best, but testing outside possibilities is always a good call, too. You may find a gem that teachers find easier to use. Remember, this may be a purchase you'll live with for a long time. Check ease of use, set-up, battery, wireless distance and compatability, as well as support and upkeep. Unlike my cheap wireless mouse and keyboard, running these products through actual teaching lessons, before deciding, makes a lot of price/common sense.

Here are some companies (random order) that provide interactive ways (Pads, Slates, Tablets) and software to interactively launch a teacher out of the whiteboard shadows and into the classroom light with their students:

eInstruction

ELMO

Promethean

Dymo/Mimio

Qwizdom

QOMO HiteVision

SMART Technologies

Luidia

Califone

Apple (iPad)

Education Think Tank NYC

I’ve been invited to participate in an Education Think Tank in NYC sponsored by Dell on Saturday. I’ve Ttddiscovered that most educators will attend speaking and learning events on Saturdays. Dell and other companies holding events for educators need some credit. Companies are getting the idea that educators have more influence in decision-making and change than they once thought. These events, as well as online teaching communities at education and tech company sites show the necessity to strengthen teacher partnerships to help district education and technology goals. To be perfectly blunt, what teachers want for teaching students is important, and it influences products and solutions sought and possibly purchased.

One of my favorite people, Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal, is moderating the NYC event onsite, and he’s getting a bit of online correspondent help from Tom Whitby @tomwhitby, who is a positive PLN TwitterWorld education force. I jokingly say that I discovered Eric, who is the consummate education-administrator entrepreneur, and that Tom and I share the same sense of humor, and passion to share.
BTW, I followed Sheninger around one day. He's the real deal. I watched him start the day, handle a parent situation, organize a professional development workshop, talk with students (they all know him, treat him like their teacher, and enjoy interacting with his sense of humor), gave me the Royal Treament building tour, and then at the end of a long day Skype a conference. I missed a lot, because I couldn't keep up!

First of all, I’m honored to take part in the event. I don’t usually get a chance to participate, and I’m excited to get to meet people I’ve only heard about—or should I say viewed tweets from—zipping through the columns of my TweetDeck.

Beyond attending, I also want to see how the event is being done. I recently asked Eric Sheninger about a very successful streaming event he held at New Milford High School that involved administrators, teachers, students, parents, and technology. I attended that one online. I told Eric that I was not only impressed with the content, but the streaming as well. I shared that link out, after the fact, many times. I’m just intrigued by the how to of these types of events, and believe that they should be done more frequently. I’ll go further, I’d like to see these streaming events a regular occurrence in all districts. Think of the possibilities—local unconferences, show and tells, best practices, science, math and tech expos, professional development, and the list goes on.

Here’s what’s needed to do that: An easy and affordable way for districts to stream. Box something up that works with very little geek connections necessary, and price it for education—not for corporate. If you want someone to manage that project, call me! I’m not talking Skype or FaceTime here; I’m talking professionally streamed material, including professional development. Right now, third party, online operations do this, some with expensive software/server/hardware, but really, there’s no magic here, and it should be more widely accessible beyond corporate ventures. I’m not talking free options either. I know they are out there, but it’s not perfect enough for prime time education. So, I’m looking forward to the tech talk, but I’m also scouting out the how to for this event.

Here are a few links to give you more information on the event as well as a list of the NYC participants and their Twitter handles. There is also online participation. Join us! And yes, Dell actually has a Snow White working for their education group. I’ve met her, but didn’t sing. ;>)

Register at:

http://dellthinktank.eventbrite.com/

Streamed at:

http://www.fittotweet.com/live/dellthinktank-edu/

Eric Sheninger, @NMHS_Principal (Moderator)
Tom Whitby, @tomwhitby (Online Correspondent)
Adam Bellow, @adambellow
Dr. Brian Chinni, @drbpchinni
Erik Endreses, @erikendress
Aaron Eyler, @aaron_eyler
Renny Fong, @timeoutdad
Adam Garry, @agarry22
Michele Glaze, @PMicheleGlaze
Erica Hartman, @elh
Kathy Ishizuka, @kishizuka
Kevin Jarrett, @kjarrett
Michelle Lampinen, @MichLampinen
Susan McPherson, @susanmcp1
Lisa Nielsen, @InnovativeEdu
Mike Parent, @mikeparent
Mary Rice-Boothe, @Edu_Traveler
Ken Royal, @kenroyal
Sarah Thomas, @teach2connect
Snow White, @snowwhiteatdell

3D vs. 2D

Abbey_school_b
I've been following 3D for a long time, since Steve McQueen battling the Blob days, and before that with stereoscopic cards discovered in an attic. I still don't like 3D glasses, but love 3D tech. And I wasn't surprised with some of the findings in recent research (Read More), which shared that students who were taught with only 2D representations modeled in 2D, while students, who were taught using 3D-projected lessons modeled in 3D. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to look up at a surgeon who had modeled in 3D.

I don't know if it helps the 3D tech cause, but as a former life science teacher I'm standing up for more classroom 3D by wearing my Save Frogs, Dissect in 3D shirt. Beyond frogs, as a former LA and reading teacher, imagine learning to read in 3D. Yeah, I'm prepared to live with a big downturn in flashcard and index card sales. WE WANT MORE 3D! In social studies, new meaning would be given to Being There. And I'm not sure you could, or would want to keep kids in their seats during a 3D lesson. Just please, someone work on losing the glasses. ;>)

Enjoy this short video with kids and teachers and their wonderful accents sharing excitement over 3D as opposed to the traditional 2D learning. Hey, maybe I'm the one with the accent.

Have a 3D look and listen: 

Kensington: There's A Lock For That!

Brian Baltezore, Senior Product Manager at Kensington tells Ken Royal that there is a lock for that iPad, too. The Royal Treatment covers pioneer device lock company Kensington as it keeps up with tablets in the changing school and work environment.

Listen to the interview:

MP3 Listening: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/323/show_2323443.mp3

iTunes Listening: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

1:1 Online Instruction: Alternative Eds New Look

D EDUCATION 2020 041 The Royal Treatment talks with Gene Storz, Chief Learning Officer, about Education 2020. Hopper pic Joanne E. Hopper, Ed.D. Director of Education Services St. Clair County RESA, Marysville, MI, and Al Vigh, Frontiers Program Director for the Wyoming Public Schools will join us to share how they are using 2020 in their districts. Here's a new look to alternative education. Background: Education 2020 (e2020) is a provider of one-on-one online instruction in core and elective courses for students in grades 6-12.

Listen to the 1:1 Online Instruction discussion (embedded player requires Flash):

MP3 Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/258/show_2258907.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Jobs, Garages, & Time Travel

Jobs I don’t know about you, but nothing I ever made in a garage ever had any hopes of changing anything—ever! But ideas that Jobs and Woz tinkered with helped change our lives, our language, and most certainly our teaching and the way kids learn.

I remember scrounging ancient, manual typewriters for my first graders, well actually for parent volunteers, who listened to elaborate stories by 5-year olds, and through smiles and giggles, turned them into typed masterpieces. I remember questions about why I needed all those typewriters, and answering with—My kids have stories to tell. I still pound the keyboard like it was a manual typewriter.

One day, an administrator at a middle school, where I was teaching language arts, gathered us all into a staff room. “We have computers, and you’re all signing up to use them.” No question or answer period there. His goal was accomplished. There was a whole lot of grumping going on. I remember, like it was yesterday, talking about this to the other language arts teacher. I said something like—computers are impersonal—I’ll never like using them….

I did sign up, drag my kids in, and let them finger peck stories on small greenish black screens—then print what seemed simple passages on perforated paper. That Apple IIe lab was a thorn in my teaching side. Didn’t they know I could be so much more valuable to my students in my own classroom—well away from the hair frizzing electromagnetic fields in that computer lab?

Then, it happened—and it happened on my watch. The buzzing and whirring on a few machines stopped. A few seventh graders had that “Why me?” look. Their computers failed. I don’t care what you say, most seventh graders, like first graders, believe that teachers know stuff and can fix stuff. I think that changes at ninth grade though. ;>) Anyway, the sad eyes, raised hands, and pleads to fix, moved me to do something that change my education, private, and career life.

I unplugged one of those Apples (I knew that much), lifted the small-boxed screen off its base, and removed the top cover. I actually laughed out loud. There appeared to be almost nothing inside it. There didn’t seem too much to fix. So, I grabbed a few parts gently and gave them a wiggle, plugged everything back in, and to my surprise the static chattering start up happened. That’s when I fist-pumped tech for the first time. I actually got applause from seventh-graders, something still rare today, as the others chimed, “Fix mine!” I remember thinking these things will never last.

News spread of my new computer expertise, and my classes were forever interrupted by pleads of help from the computer lab. I kept in pretty good shape running there and back to my room. I knew absolutely nothing, other than pulling the plug, and shaking some parts, but it was more than the principal, or anyone else. I even began taking the computer home for more practice. That required about three trips to the car. I became the expert, and from that point on, the voice of technology in that building, and for that principal and beyond.

For all my initial grumping about tech, those Apples changed the way I taught, and the way my students learned—for the better. And while it sometimes took more time to plan and do it with tech, it made teaching fist-pumping exciting. It brought the world to my classes, and my classes to the world.

I've never met Steve Jobs, but I know him. There’s a guy with passion for his product. “Bring it back when you’ve made it better.” Now, that’s what needs to be said a lot more. Who will say it now? If you’ve never seen the videos of Jobs sharing GarageBand, you need to do a search for them. They are a professional development lessons from a real person, who is learning as he goes, and getting the biggest kick out of sharing. Nothing earth shaking came out of my garage, and most likely yours either, but aren’t we glad that Steve’s garage had picked up the slack—for everyone.

Bring Your Own Tech to School

Crawford_Jeffrey Mr Jeff Crawford is Manager of Networking and Security at East Grand Rapids Public Schools, MI. Listen as he discusses Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) in schools with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Hear Crawford's 1:1 philosophy, and learn how his district handles BYOT student devices, and more. The right solutions involves more than the right hardware, and your idea of 1:1 may change completely. Teachers are the key.

Listen to Bring Your Own Tech (Embedded Player Requires Flash):

MP3 Listening: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/202/show_2202825.mp3

iTunes Listening: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Discovery Education Outreach & Techbooks

Scott_kinney3 Learn about new-age teaching, education collaboration, and Techbooks. Scott Kinney, Discovery Education's Senior VP for Global Professional Development, Policy, and Education Outreach gets The Royal Treatment. Find out about the global Discovery Education Network, and how to join.

Listen to the interview (embedded player requires Flash):

MP3 Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/191/show_2191267.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Future Shaping: Anthony Salcito MSFT

Anthony Salcito at Lenovo ThinkTank 2011 Anyone who cares about student learning in this wireless and digital age will find a kindred spirit in Anthony Salcito. He’s the Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft, and one of my favorite people in the ed tech world. When he talks, he says things that I’ve been thinking for years, only when he says them, the ideas sound better. If you’ve ever fought for student learning, or technology for kids and schools, you’d be comfortable in a conversation with Anthony. Furthermore, his Shape the Future initiative is helping to make access to technology a right and not a privilege for every student everywhere.  Please check out Anthony’s post Making Access to Technology a Reality via Shape the Future at his Education Insights blog for more.

Recently, at Lenovo’s (Intel) ThinkTank 2011 event in Washington, DC, Anthony shared that “Along with passionate heroes for classroom change, there is also a great need for scalability for successful change—and that may be the greatest obstacle for transforming education." Salcito hopes to play a role in that scalability for change, as well as in empowering the children of the world. Microsoft supports ATC21S, Assessment of Teaching for 21st-Century Skills, and Shape the Future, so there’s a pretty good team backing him, and you couldn’t have a better person leading the charge.

Over 1 Million Inhabit This Planet

Planet
Close to 5 years ago, I was invited to hear about a new online place for teachers. The place was Promethean Planet, begun by the Promethean Interactive Classroom folks as a way to help teachers use whiteboards. Right from the start, teachers and teaching resources were the prime objectives for this new planet. Today, more than a million educators have landed at their Planet as members.

I’ve long been a proponent of online teacher resources. When companies get involved with them, it can be interesting. It really is a necessity today, but Promethean thought it 5 years ago, and made an effort to keep it more educator than commercial. I think they've done a pretty good job. Many companies have followed their lead.

While there are some lesson packets for sale at the Planet, there’s plenty for free download. I like that teachers using other types of interactive products are invited to join and use whatever is there as well. It’s a place where teachers can go to easily get good teaching materials, lessons, and advice. Oh sure, you can also get more information about Promethean, and their Activ devices and assessment tools, too, if you're interested.

Here's a bit more about Promethean Planet:

Illinicloud CDW-G at ISTE: D'Orio Cloud Search

Scholastic Administrator Executive Editor Wayne D'Orio collects cloud-tech stories at ISTE. CDW-G's VP, K12 Education Bob Kirby, and Director of Sales, K12, John Pellettiere led a round table discussion of Cloud-using administrators at ISTE. IlliniCloud is one of many success stories. IlliniCloud worked with CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions, to supply affordable access to virtual servers, online storage and high-speed network connectivity across the state of Illinois - technology that, until recently, was out of reach for most K-12 schools there. Sharing data center resources and costs among schools across the state helps each school district to focus more on advancing the use of technology in the classroom for the direct benefit of students.
Watch the Interview:

Extron iPad Controller App: ISTE

There's an App for that. Extron provides an easy way to control classroom multimedia by using an iPad. The new app was given The Royal Treatment at ISTE. Looks simple to use.

Watch my Extron booth visit:

Lightspeed Technologies Classroom Audio: ISTE

Find out about REDCAT and TOPCAT in this interview with Bruce Bebb. Lightspeed Technologies can create an audio environment for enhanced classroom learning. REDCAT is right out of the box, and TOPCAT is an easy-to-install ceiling solution. At ISTE Lightspeed was given The Royal Treatment.

Watch and learn how easy it is to create the best classroom audio for instruction:

Toshiba THRiVE: ISTE

Toshiba's THRiVE gets The Royal Treatment at ISTE. Kelcey Kinjo, product manager at Toshiba, hits on some of the THRiVE's features, including a user-replaceable battery—a big education-upkeep benefit. While the new back plates make a fashion statement, this new 10-inch screen tablet from Toshiba is making some education waves for those looking for classroom-tablet alternatives.

Watch my ISTE visit with Toshiba as the new THRiVE gets The Royal Treatment:

Qualcomm's Kristin Atkins: ISTE Interview

Qualcomm's Kristin Atkins, Director of Wireless Reach, talks about tablets, wireless initiatives, and the D.C. Wireless Conference during our interview at ISTE Philadelphia.

Watch the interview:

Pushing More Through Wires: Crestron

I was invited to an early morning Crestron press conference at InFoComm. I've spent more time waiting for technology to do its thing than most, so I'm always intrigued when someone shares how it can be done better, and more efficiently. Crestron engineers have figured out how to push more signal and data down the line than ever before. Technically, it's more efficient multiplexing.  

Watch and listen to how they do it:

QOMO's QPC60 Doc Cam: InFoComm

QOMO's QPC60 Document Camera gets The Royal Treatment at InFoComm. Shannon Raupp shares functions and features.

Watch my booth interview to learn what this versatile document camera can do:

ELMO at InFoComm: TT-12 Interactivity

I gave the new ELMO TT-12 document camera The Royal Treatment at InFoComm. This doc cam (visualiser) has more positions than a yoga instructor. It doesn't need a computer, and has its own audio and recording capabilities. It also can be seamlessly connected to ELMO's slate.

Watch the video interview and demo to see if the TT-12 is the right match for your interactive classroom, school, or district:

Luidia's VP Jody Forehand: InFoComm

Jody Forehand, Luidia's VP of Product Planning, gets The Royal Treatment during an interview at InFoComm. Learn about Luidia and eBeam, as well as their interactive role in the education marketplace. With Luidia, its about doing what they do well, and having great partners, including HP, Chief, Hitachi, and Claridge for support. Forehand talks about how to outfit new and old classrooms for education interactivity. Watch the Interview:

Canon Security Cameras: InFoComm

Info10 One of my InFoComm stops was at Canon, where I checked out security cameras. I interviewed Canon's Chuck Westfall about cameras suitable for school and district use. Westfall gave me a little lesson on types of cameras and their technologies, as well as a look at three devices designed to guard and keep districts safe.


Please watch my Security Interview at Canon with Chuck Westfall:

InFoComm Tech Pick: Laser Projection

Pro and Short Throw #10CF5532
I’ve been following bulbless projector technology from the start. I was one of those instructional tech specialists who taught kids and teachers, as well as climbed ladders to change projector bulbs and filters. I also had to allocate a lot of funds for replacements. While the bulbless/filterless idea isn’t new, Family Of Products2 the LASER/LED/hybrid light source technology is new and amazing. With this technology, we’re talking about 20,000 hours of eco-friendly, or short throw projection life without mercury lamps. Casio has embraced this technology in its DLP short-throw (top image) and slim-green (bottom image) projectors.

What’s cool about this new technology is that DLP (Texas Instruments) and 3LCD—two competitive and most-used technologies in education projection—and for that matter, projectors in general—can love this LASER/LED hybrid tech, too. That said, while an extremely cool addition, the technology will be developed further, I’m sure—it can only get better. Speculation is that laser projectors could go to 30,000 hours. You don't have to an engineer to Imagine the cost savings there.

If you’re spending a lot of money on replacement bulbs—even if you’re getting two for the price of one—and having your tech crew climb ladders to frequently replace them— you might be getting nearer to just monitoring all those newly-gained hours of projection life with my InFoComm Tech Pick—Laser/LED hybrid technology.

 “While we are extremely proud of the success around our SLIM line, we knew that we could continue to build on the technology, understanding that different industries face different challenges. Our new family of projectors is built with those needs in mind and will deliver tailored solutions to increase efficiency and streamline costs,” says Frank Romeo, vice president of Casio’s Business Projector Division.

Slim and Signature #10CF54E2

Qumi: InFoComm Pick

Qumi_5
InFoComm always gives me a great selection of display, presentation, and audio equipment to consider, but for me, Vivitek's Qumi was just cool. I was in the Vivitek exhibit and commented to the media rep that I thought it was funny to be surrounded by all these bigger presentation choices and I only had eyes for the tiny Qumi.

This small LED-based projector can be hooked up to anything—laptop, iPad, iPhone, and more—with Qumi_6 thumb drive, USB, VGA, or mini SD card. Add simple-to-use functionality to that list. This is pretty much plug it in, push button, point projection.

I was Skeptical of the projection so I ask to see what it could do. The Vivitek rep turned it to the wall, and the Qumi displayed a fairly large a crisp clear image. That's when I said, "I want one."

I believe it is the first pocket projector to be 3-D ready, thanks to DLP (Texas Instruments) technology. It even has mini-HDMI connection.

The Native WXGA (1280x800) resolution, is combined with 300 lumens of brightness
The 1.6 pounds; 6.3-inch (W) x 1.2-inch (H) x 3.9-inch (D) Qumi is priced at $499 out of the blocks. It comes in black or white.

I was so taken with my InFoComm Pick, I told others at the show they needed to talke a look. I think you might like to check it out, too.  Qumi_4

iCloud, What’s In It For Education?

Cloud2
I think the best thing to come out of the Apple iCloud announcement, is that most people who had no cloud-computing idea, listen to music, and understand need to store music somewhere. Additionally, those who can click a digital camera, get the idea of seeing those pictures on all digital devices—anywhere. There’s nothing difficult about that, right? So, does this latest Apple presentation hold any good news for educators?

Well, probably not, other than another simple way to help explain what cloud can do for those who would normally have their eyes rolling during a tech talk.

There really is nothing new here. Microsoft has been talking cloud for years, and Mobile Me users have taken advantage of its capabilities. Personally, iDock has saved me a lot of storage and file sharing nightmares since the .Mac days. Furthermore, not so tech-savvy educators, who use Google online docs and services, have figured out the importance of online collaboration and sharing.

We all know that making money is the name of the game as well. Apple, Google, and others are in that race. Apple certainly is great at making money. I just hope Apple makes the iCloud education effort. Google, and many third-party companies are making the effort. For example, Google Education, with its admin and educator leadership programs has gained educator respect.

Making a cloud effort with the general education population, and not just for “specially chosen” schools makes a lot of sense. While a few do get whatever they need, regardless of cost, most educators don’t get the tools they need for all the ideas they have. Cloud environment could level the field to provide enough tools.

If sharing across devices is really part of cloud computing, then crossing over marketplace fences for the benefit of education should be possible, too. Duke it out in the consumer world, but work together in the education realm. I’m as optimistic as they come, but chances are that won’t happen—really.

The bottom lines for educators, who want to use technology with kids, is to provide an easy-to-use, inexpensive device for every student for collaboration, along with the tools needed to support robust local and global curriculum. That can't happen by charging a lot for third-party tools students can use with cloud. For educators, there’s far more to cloud education than music and pictures.

There are plenty of questions to be answered, but the one I keep coming back to is this: Will cloud ventures look beyond the money to be made out there, in order to provide education possibilities without strings?

Tracking Cloud Trekking

CdwgK12a
CDW released the results of their Cloud Computing Tracking Poll. 1,200 IT professionals were surveyed to assess current and future cloud computing use.

According to the polll, 28% of U.S. business, government, healthcare and education organizations are using cloud computing, and that 73% reported the first step was single cloud application. Furthermore, 84% of those polled confirm that they have already employed at least one cloud application. This seems to be a testing of the waters, because most have not identified themselves as “Cloud Users”.

CDW defines cloud computing as a model for enabling convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned.  

David Cottingham, senior director, managed services at CDW says,  “With thoughtful planning, organizations can realize benefits that align directly with their organizational goals: consolidated IT infrastructure, reduced IT energy and capital costs, and ‘anywhere’ access to documents and applications.”    
 
The breakdown of cloud application usage was email 50%, file storage 39%, Web and video conferencing, 36 and 32 percent, respectively, and online learning 34 percent.

When asked about the estimated potential to operate in the cloud, the IT pros reported that only 42% of their current services would fit, but planned to spend 34% of their IT budget on cloud computing by 2016. They see that as saving over 30% of their IT budget by using cloud resources and applications. And even those respondents who were non-cloud users expect to spend 28% of their budget on cloud computing in the same time period.

The bottom line was that 84%  of current cloud users reported they cut application costs by moving to the cloud, and that the average savings on applications moved to the cloud was 21%.

“The potential to cut costs while maintaining or even enhancing computing capabilities for end users presents a compelling case for investment in cloud computing,” Cottingham said.  Furthermore, “The fact that even current cloud users anticipate spending just a third of their IT budget on cloud computing within five years suggests that before wide-scale implementation, IT managers are taking a hard look at their IT governance, architecture, security and other prerequisites for cloud computing, in order to ensure that their implementations are successful.”

More about the survey:

The CDW Cloud Computing Tracking Poll includes findings specific to each of the eight industries surveyed during March 2011:  small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses, the Federal government, state and local governments, healthcare, higher education and K-12 public schools.  The survey sample includes 150 individuals from each industry who identified themselves as familiar with their organization’s use of, or plans for, cloud computing.  The margin of error for the total sample is ±2.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for each industry sample is ±8.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.  

 
Get survey copies and learn more about cloud computing:

For a copy of the complete CDW 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll, please visit http://www.cdw.com/cloudtrackingpoll. For more about CDW’s cloud computing capabilities and offerings, please visit http://www.cdw.com/cloud.

About CDW

CDW http://www.cdw.com/ is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare.

Acer Iconia Tab W500

Acer20
Acer11 I took a look at the Acer Iconia Tab W500 . Actually I took a look at the two Acer18 parts that make up this interesting tablet hybrid. There's actually a keyboard that the tablet part fits into. They really are two parts, because the keyboard and tab sections aren't designed to stay together when closed, but rather the tab sits on top of the keyboard like a cover—with the help of some magnets. A latch on the lid locks them closed.

Acer21 Here's the keyboard part with a centered mouse button. There's a trap door that reveals two prongs for this  keyboard-docking station part. The W500 works without the keyboard section quite nicely, but it does offer two additional USB ports and an ethernet input connection as well. Most will use the WiFi, which with Window 7 quickly locates and connects to a wireless network.

Acer8 I found the tablet section very sturdy, but a bit heavier than I thought it would be. Acer1 The specs show it at about 2.2 lbs. The bright screen is something I really like, and the Windows 7 touch features were very responsive. I thought the Acer Ring idea was a unique touch for finding and opening applications. Reminded me of opening an old safe, but turning the tumblers with touch. Check the images right and left to see what I mean. 

Acer17 I always test out the audio, and it was great—what's not to like about Dolby Acer2 Advanced Audio Virtual Surround! It was also wonderful with video, and yes, it played everything including Flash. The camera switched, with a tap, from front to back quickly and easily for both stills and video, and the images were quite good (right). The screen resolution is 1280 x 800. Again, holding the W500 for a long time convinced me that setting it in the keyboard stand would be my viewing option.Acer4

Acer15 There's HDMI, SD, Bluetooth, wide screen view, and of course easy rotaion shifting. It was quick one-button start and stop. I worked all day on a battery charge.


Web browsing in IE was fine, and touch scrolling and finger expanding for zooming was easy, too. Acer22 The onscreen keyboard hides to the left of the screen until you tap or drag it for use. I changed quickly from keyboard to writing with my fingers in Writing Pad. Acer6Windows 7 on the Acer Iconia Tab was seamless.

 Other than the Windows 7 standard applications, my review model had Skype, Nook for PC, Acer Games, and Times Reader. I was looking more at a cool gadget this time.

  Here are the two parts together, but separate them and the Tab goes mobile: Acer18

Educators Review Tech

BIT TODAY(vertical, loRes) Glad you’re here, but you need to see Best in Tech Today—make it a daily stop, and share it with your staff and fellow educators. I know that sounds like meeting relatives at the door, and telling them to go next door for dinner. It’s just that the neighbors, in this case, are serving up something unique—educators reviewing education technology and solutions.

Best in Tech Today is a place where the “go to” people in a school/district share, which makes Best in Tech Today the “go to” place for ideas that work, and ideas that can be replicated.

Gathering a group of local experts in one place leaves open the possibility for live forums and interactive discussions, too. As an educator/administrator, you need to hear from people who are actually using edtech solutions, and many times in spectacular ways.

Let’s put it this way, if you asked a student what he/she learned in class today, you wouldn’t settle for an “It was good… it was fun… it was engaging…” answer. By bookmarking http://blogs.scholastic.com/bestintechtoday/ you’ll get daily, specific how to reviews from education and education tech experts.

Eee Pad Transformers to the Rescue!

Eeepad I have a very dear friend working at Asus corporate in Taiwan. She always keeps me in the loop on what’s new at Asus, and almost always makes me smile for remembering me. Today, I received a press release on the new Eee Pad Transformer, along with a link to a very recognizable sitcom spoof, in which the Eee Pad Transformer plays a starring role. I’ve embedded it at the bottom of this post. It should make you smile, and really give you a short look at the unique Eee Pad design.

The Eee Pad seems to be more than a tablet, or a convertible notebook. You can actually detach and separate the PC keyboard side from the Tablet side quickly and easily. Together or separate, I like the creative way Asus is looking for a step up on Apple’s tablet dominance. The 16GB model is slated for under $700 (US). When you consider that the 16GB iPad is going for $499, having the Eee Pad Transformer options makes a lot of dollar sense.

The Asus Eee Pad runs Android’s 3.0 Honeycomb, and shouldn’t be confused with their e-Slate, which runs Windows. Asus’s 10.1-inch Transformer offers unlimited Web storage, either 9+ or 16-hour battery life, depending upon choice, and front and rear cameras. I like that it has Gorilla glass, as well as its 10-finger touch capabilities. Multi-tasking is a no brainer on these, but happily it is not the only iPad differentiation factor. It’s nice to begin seeing companies, like Asus, move from Apple-chasing to creatively leading the pack again.

Enjoy watching this Eee Pad sitcom spoof; spotting the guest star should be easy:

Thunderbolt: Crazy-Fast Intel I/O!

What’s an I/O, and what’s Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt Simply, an I/O means input and output. So, what’s that have to do with Thunderbolt? Well, Intel’s 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) wonder—for input and output transfer—will allow crazy-fast transfer of data. For instance, a full-length HD movie in 30 seconds. That’s 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and 12 times faster than the latest Firewire. And it’s bi-directional—input and output!—through just one port!

So, if you’re a person that transfers a lot of video, images, or audio, a device that has Thunderbolt is for you. And, most of us are in that ballpark these days—everyone is doing  a lot of video, audio, images, and media. Now, while most of us would be satisfied with a new computer without it, and probably not know the difference, having one with it, might be worth waiting for—if you can. Right now, Apple’s MacBook Pro has it. While there may not be many peripheral devices to hook up with it yet, having a computer with Thunderbolt now, will have you ready when that does happen.

Believe me, I try to avoid being geeky at The Royal Treatment, but sometimes tech information needs to skirt the geek a bit. And I wouldn’t be here now—if my going-on-six-year-old, black beauty, 13-inch MacBook hadn’t begun to show its age, by continually beach-balling applications, and just plain quiting on me. I love that machine, and, it has as many air miles on it as I do. Time and tide….

My initial thought was to put my old 13-inch out to pasture—sort of—and buy a new one just like it—white this time. I know everyone is going after those new iPad 2s, but I do a lot of video and audio these days, so an iPad 2 wouldn’t cut it, and now that I know about Thunderbolt, I’ve begun to look at MacBook Pros, for a few more bucks. While I use Window’s machines as well for what I do, Mac with Thunderbolt makes sense for me. It may not be for you, but Thunderbolt on a Window’s Product may be.

iPad 2 Made for Teaching

No one from Apple talks with me, and I hate that we jump through their hoops—for them—every six months. That said, there is good reason for educators to look at the new iPad 2 for leading and teaching a class—at any age level. I’m not going to get into any of the technical spec, but it’s sufficient to say that version 2 is a different machine. Let me specifically say, though, that I’m talking about this tool in the hands of a teacher. I know that there will be many posting on the benefits of iPads in the hands of students, and I look forward to those—as well as first hand journals and reporting, but this is more about why I’m buying one for my daughter, a 3rd grade teacher.

Mirroring Lessons

DongleMirroring isn’t new, but the iPad 2 makes it possible for a teacher to present and control a class lesson. Using a $39 dongle (connector) a teacher can mirror, or show, what he/she has on the iPad desktop, and have it appear directly on a larger display screen. (HDMI, oh my!) I know, you can do that with a netbook or laptop, but as my daughter said, “I can hold the iPad 2 in one hand and work it easily with the other hand; it will be a lot easier than juggling my laptop.” She can do computer stuff and direct her class, too.

My daughter uses a lot of photos with her students, as well as a document camera and projector to enhance instruction. With the iPad2 and dongle connection it will be easier to share those images, bring in lesson-specific and appropriate video, and Web pages, too. The iPad 2’s AV adaptor makes it a lightweight and quick classroom teaching device, but it is also the easiest to use user interface going—today. My daughter is a wonderful teacher without technology, and she isn’t a tech fanatic like her dad, so it needs to work easily, and seamlessly. If she can plug it in, works with a touch, kids get more involved in the lesson, and it improves her teaching—it makes sense.

My wife, who, and I’m not afraid of saying this aloud—because she’ll agree—which doesn’t happen often—has no tech sense, ability, or interest at all in anything tech—wants one. She just learned to text this year—thanks to my daughter. It was a miracle!

My wife claims texting is easy. She has a Windows laptop, but avoids it—for her, it’s not easy to use—she also calls it names—but I won’t go into that. Too much has to be done in order to get from point “A” to point “B”, and it’s easy to get lost in-between.

Apple sucked my wife in with an iPad commercial—afterward she said, “I can do that!” And, I have to agree—she can. I actually told her that our 2-year old grandson could use one. That gained me no points with her—but did earn me one of those familiar one-raised-eyebrow looks.

I know that others will point out more elaborate iPad 2 teaching possibilities, and that Windows slate, notebook, and netbook providers will be sharing the fact—that they can do all of this, too—but for teachers like my daughter—this looks like a best bet—for now. Oh, yeah, a side perk—I’ll get to see my grandsons—thanks to those two cameras—by using using Skype, or FaceTime on a soon-to-be-smudged 10-inch screen—although I’ll have to look over my wife’s shoulder to do it—and that will be the most difficult thing of all!

Between Tech Reporting and Reality

0 It is difficult for me, these days, to talk tech products without thinking about the scary reality of job uncertainty for teachers. Educators always take the hit—it seems—I’ve never liked it, and never will. Letting teachers go makes bean counting easy, but educationally, it will impact more than today’s financial bottom line—the debt for this will be collected in something far more valuable.

Seniority shouldn’t be the only criteria for keeping, or releasing teachers. The best educators need to stay, regardless of time on the job. Teacher evaluations and observations that are non-specific, or glowing, and not constructive, aren’t helpful. That said, the reporting on education tech and software cannot stop. Falling backwards isn’t an option. Technology spending will be closely scrutinized, and weighed against other district needs and purchases. Good tech products and content will be more in demand, especially those that make individualized learning interactive. And, pricing for those options will have to be better.

My daughter, a third grade teacher in Arizona, told me that she was either standing in line for a document camera, or keeping broken ones together with duct tape. Her husband, an assistant principal, wanted more technology—specifically the kind that gets into the hands of students. And in talking with a superintendent and consultant, I learned that purchasing school tech—even in this crazy budgetary climate—is going to happen—and that the funds would continue to be there.

EdTech Over the Pond

In this episode of The Royal Treatment—EdTech Over the Pond—Steven Anderson, District Instructional Technologist for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, USA, meets the UKs Joe Dale, an independent consultant working with CILT, Links into Languages, The British Council, The BBC, and host of the TES MFL Forum. Together they share EdTech possibilities to try, as well as Web 2.0 ideas that can be modified, or translated to work for educators and students in classrooms—whichever side of the pond you find yourself.
Listen to the Discussion:

Education UnConferences

Education UnConferences shares what an UnConference is, as well as what one can do for a district. Hear about a specific UnConference for new teachers called ntcamp. Guests are Principal Patrick Larkin, Burlington High School, Burlington, Mass, Principal Eric Sheninger, New Milford High School, NJ, and Professor Andrew Marcinek Montgomery Co. Community College Instructional Technology Specialist. Listen to the discussion:

SMART Audio Gets Heard: The Royal Treatment

SMART Audio gets The Royal Treatment. Steven Yao is interviewed by Ken Royal. Sound systems are becoming standard equipment for ALL students in classrooms. It gives all students an equal opportunity to hear everything a teacher says.
Watch the Interview:

StrataLogica: World at Teaching Fingertips-Royal Treatment

StrataLogica (Herff Jones) has a new kind of map that gets The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews Don Rescigno. Seeing and interacting with globes was so 20th Century! Here's reality at your teaching fingertips. Watch the Interview, and see the interactive geography show:

Dell Flips Its Lid! The Royal Treatment

Dell's Duo and new Latitude get The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews David Fritz, and gets the "Flip" scoop.
Watch the interview:

Samsung's "Sliding Slate" Gets Royal Treatment

Samsung's new "Slider Convertible Slate" gets The Royal Treatment.
Watch the Ken Royal interview to find out more:

ASUS Slate Gets Royal Treatment

The ASUS eSlate EP121 that comes with a Wacom digitizer pen and Bluetooth keyboard gets The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews ASUS' David Ray.
Watch the Interview:

Fujitsu Convertible Tablet Gets Royal Treatment

Fujitsu's Slate and Convertible Tablets get The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews Fujitsu's Paul Moore.
Watch the interview.


RM Slate Gets Royal Treatment

RM Education's RM Slate gets The Royal Treatment at FETC. Ken Royal talks to RM's Christy Smith.
Watch the interview:


KINEO Gets Royal Treatment

The KINEO Slate at FETC. Jeff Cameron talks to Ken Royal for The Royal Treatment. Watch the interview:

 

FETC Hits

Ken4 Here are a few more things that knocked MY socks off at FETC 2011.

eInstruction

I had to be quiet about the eInstruction Mobi View. Actually got a presentation on it from Steve Kaye, who said, “We’re going to share something with you, but you can’t say anything.” Most times sitting on something until the actual release doesn’t bother me, but this time it had me hopping. Putting a touch screen, similar to that of an iPhone into a teaching slate knocked my socks off. Geez, another one of those ideas, which is a no brainer…and why didn’t I think of it first! No complicated icons around the device to figure out just touch the screen. Anyone can teach and direct a class with it. I reviewed its Mobi predecessor, and thought that was good. eInstruction has a new hit.

SMART and FrontRow, two companies help students hear the teacher better.

I checked in on two, very different, companies—SMART and FrontRow that are doing something about audio in the classroom. Smart has a classroom audio system as well its new SMARTAir, and FrontRow Sound Systems has solutions that can be configured to fit every classroom need. I know from personal experience that those wireless necklace-like devices hooked to room speakers make a difference for hearing impaired students as well as all students. Learning is something that happens differently for all students, but how students hear their teachers is an individual thing as well. Besides benefiting student listening, these products may even help with student behavior. Hearing keeps students in the learning game and away from trouble on the sidelines.

I have a meeting with another company—Califone—at TCEA in Austin. They’ve been offering students and schools audio, and now visual products for years.

Promethean

Recently, I visited a school in Georgia using the new Promethean ActivBoard 500 series, so at the FETC launching it was pretty familiar. I asked my usual questions, but for me, I think the most wonderful thing was when the Promethean crew let a teacher, Jeremy, have his way with that new ActivBoard. The programmed part of the launched showed the traditional PowerPoint slide connections, but when Jeremy nudged his way to the board he raised the level from tech specs to how to—and “Here’s what I do with the 500”. In moments, the teacher had us buckling up our Web 2.0 seats, sharing sites that made his students excited about learning—he took us beyond PowerPoint. Now, that made me smile, and it shared the power of the board for learning—and getting kids out of their seats.

Congratulations to Promethean for giving Jeremy the teacher-star room on the stage next to their new ActivBoard 500 multi-touch star.

Send In The Slates! FETC

There is certainly a puzzle to solve for school and district leaders—whether to jump on the iPad wagon, wait for Android’s Honeycomb and take advantage of Aps, stick with Win7 familiarity, especially if your environment is already Microsoft, or try something completely different. The few slates/tablets I did see at FETC 2011 in Orlando were pretty impressive, each offering something different, played Flash, and there were a few surprises as well. I expect to see more at TCEA 2011 in Austin.

KINEO

KINEO I think one of the show hits was the new KINEO by a company called Brainchild. It is unique in the slate and handheld space. While it has WiFi, this touchscreen for kids is administratively controlled and built for student safety. Aps, tools, and video are there, but it’s specifically only what the teacher and administrator want there. By design, it doesn’t have a camera, which may have a lot of education administrators sighing relief. KINEO is Android, but looks nothing like any of the other traditional slate platforms. I like that it has function buttons along with touch and stylus. It has a day's worth of battery life, and it is replaceable. This looks to be a sturdy, appropriately sized, safe computing device for kids. My feeling is the only problem will be keeping up with production—Brainchild should sell a lot of them.

RM Slate

RM Slate Here’s another big surprise, and really good education computing choice. I’ve been following RM Education for years. They offer a lot of education products and solutions—ones they make and others with partner help. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to see a slate at the booth. RM has something with its RM Slate. It has everything, including a brilliant touch screen with stylus, too, as well as camera. This is great; it comes with Office and RM EasiTeach. That’s amazing marketing. Because it is Win 7, the RM Slate fills the needs of districts already in a PC environment. It’s about 2lbs, so not as heavy as some of the others out there either.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu2 Fujitsu is known for sturdy computing devices, and is the grandfather of tablet and Fujitsu1 convertible devices. Their Q-Series tablet is a Win7 at about 1.5 lbs, and I was very impressed with their new 10.1 convertible tablet. Districts looking for a more conventional device, a traditional laptop keyboard, along with a slate option attached, will find the answer here.

ASUS

ASUS ASUS has their eSlate (EP121) that comes with a Wacom digitizer pen and Bluetooth keyboard. There was a lot of interest in this slate at FETC. It is sleek, powerful, with Gorilla Glass, and like most Asus products—it’s pretty, too. I always want to shake somebody at the Asus! In my opinion, they have products that are inexpensive and perfect for education, but really don’t push that point enough. I’ve been saying that for years. Look out; if Asus ever gets an education rudder, they will navigate to the head of the class—fast.

Note: Look for more on these Slates—in video—soon at Scholastic Administrator.

Microsoft’s Innovative Schools

Innovation Congratulations to the U.S. schools and districts that have been chosen by Microsoft to join their world class of innovative global education sites for 2010–2011.

The U.S. “Pathfinder” schools/districts join 80 schools in 46 countries. The program connects educators from around the world to share ideas and best practices for creating new learning models that inspire students to engage as well as direct their own learning. Here are the U. S. 2010-2011 members:

Lake Washington School District, Redmond, Wash.

Lake Washington School District is a high-achieving public school district in Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish, Washington. It is the sixth-largest district in the state of Washington, with more than 24,000 students and 50 schools. Their mission is “Every Student Future Ready”.

Jane Long Middle School, Houston, Texas

Jane Long Middle School is in partnership with Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that runs programs in Houston and Austin, Texas. The partnership lengthens each school day by three hours for all sixth graders, which addis extra academic time, support and hands-on, project-based learning, including 10-week apprenticeships with local professionals.

School of the Future, Philadelphia, Penn.

The School of the Future Integrates technology into every area of the learning at the school. The innovative work at the School of the Future encouraged Microsoft to launch its Worldwide Innovative Schools program, which helps governments and communities around the world build schools that meet the challenges of learning today.

Denver Public Schools, Denver, Colo.

The Denver Public School District’s new High Tech Early College (HTEC) is a testing ground for innovative teaching practices. The school provides opportunities to earn dual credit through concurrent enrollment and offer opportunities to stay in the program for a fifth year of high school leading to an associate of applied science, or associate of applied business degree.

Sign up for the Innovative Schools Program 2011 beginning mid February:

There are three levels of participation:

1. Worldwide Innovative Schools Global Community

2. Innovative Schools Pathfinder Program

3. Innovative Schools Mentor Schools

Any school in the world can join the Participant Program by signing up for the Partners in Learning Network at http://www.microsoft.com/education/pil/partnersInLearning.aspx.

Kineos for Kids!: First Look

Kineo with Hands

The Royal Treatment has been given the first, exclusive look at the Kineo and its specs. It might be for kids, what the iPad is for teachers. I have to admit that with a price of $299, and it’s brilliantly colored sleeves—covering its white face—with hot pink to red—is eye-catching, and attract a lot of attention from educators and students.

The Kineo is specifically designed for kids, schools, and classroom. It is an Android device that plays well with Flash—go figure! With the Kineo, there’s no marketing hype or messaging, and the sites students access need to be pre-approved by teachers or administrators.

Educators will get to touch and order Kineos, for the first time, at the upcoming FETC 2011 in Orlando, Florida, and shipments will begin in March 2011.

The Kineos parent company is Brainchild, which has been an innovative force in tech education. I’ve heard that Achiever!, Brainchild’s formative assessment system for state-specific test preparation and instruction on state standards works well with the device.

Follow the Kineo at Brainchild's site: http://www.brainchild.com/

Computer Science Cool?: Alfred Thompson MSDN

AlfredtAlfred Thompson, Academic Developer Evangelist for Microsoft gets the Royal Treatment from Scholastic Professional Media Senior Technology Editor Ken Royal. Thompson discusses why computer science is cool, technology for kids and teachers in classrooms, as well as what the future holds for education technology.
Before his career at Microsoft, Alfred was the Technology Director and a computer/technology teacher at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua NH.  He is a graduate of Taylor University in Upland IN where he got his start in computers, and received his MS in Computer Science at Rivier College in Nashua NH. I must add that his well-rounded computer science career began at Brooklyn Technical High School. Listen to the conversation:

Listen to Scholastic's On Air Royal Treatment at royaltreatment

CES: What’s New? Does it Compute?

Compute This time of year is pretty exciting for tech geeks, and as the pocket protector crowd descends on Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show, education vendors are getting ready for London’s BETT, Orlando’s FETC, and Austin’s TCEA. And I’m just trying to figure out what’s new—again.
Here are a few comments from all over the field:

Mouse Mail

While nothing is more important than a parent in monitoring appropriate kid-Internet and tech-device use, I’m all for any ideas that can help. Mouse Mail http://mousemail.com/ has feature to help parent’s stay aware of what their kids are doing on and with the devices they’re using. Monitoring features include e-mail, text messaging, games, photos, social media, and more. Take a look.

BigBlueButton

Looking for a cool way to collaborate on those new Android device or netbook, BigBlueButton http://bigbluebutton.org/ might be the open source option to try. It says it’s for higher ed, but it’s certainly perfect for middle schoolers on up. I know it works well on Android, should be cool on iPads when that Flash problem gets worked out.

Samsung's Building a New Galaxy

Someone check Samsung http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab for steroids! They are certainly starring at CES with their Android Galaxy Tab and new Galaxy Player options. Their Galaxy Phones have sold way over 3-million in the US. I believe Apple sold about that many within about 3 months.

Toshiba 3D Display without glasses

 Toshiba http://us.toshiba.com/tv/3d has a TV they claim to be 3D, and those funny glasses aren’t required. While it doesn’t require glasses, it does still require you to sit in specific locations for best viewing. Most of us would really like 3D to be perfected, and Toshiba seems to be close, but right now waiting seems to be the name of the game.

The prices on 3D devices have come down, but the restrictions for viewing just don’t make it right on larger displays—yet. I still think the breakthrough will happen first on smaller devices, like phones, where glassesless and in-front-of-your-face viewing can happen better.

Lenovo Laptops, Netbooks, and Tablets

Lenovo http://lenovo.com/us/en/#ss has their new Y-Series IdeaPads at CES. A year ago, I covered the U-Series. But marketing for that was delayed. I’m thinking the Y-Series, generation 2 and might make it. They are a combination tablet and notebook, but most are waiting for Lenovo’s tablet release—to battle competitors Apple and Samsung.

Asus

Asus http://usa.asus.com/index.aspx is a prolific tech company. They’re releasing a few tablet/slates at CES. The Eee Pad Slider is pretty intriguing. Again, it’s on the Android 3.0 OS, has about 6-hour battery life, front and rear cameras, and a slide out keyboard—reminds me of a big cell phone. That’s not bad. Not sure of the pricing, but Asus usually has great prices on good quality tech. Wish this crew would get more involved in education.

Notes:

I really think that we’re in a waiting period when it comes to tablets and slates, and the competition remains Apple’s iPad http://www.apple.com/. Pricing is a key factor, and most don’t mind paying for good options that work, rather than paying less for something that may not be quite right for the task. I hear so much about the iPad being perfect for education, and while that’s true, the pricing has to drop for it to be perfect for the education budget.

Android is a great option, and it’s wonderful to see companies jumping in to take advantage of it. And with names like Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb what's not to like.

I may be wrong, but I’m still waiting to hear something from Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/. Time to do for education, what they've done for gaming. Just seems to me that with all their resources, there has to be more they can do. I remember hearing about a crazy table being developed by MSFT, 5 years before it was unveiled—so maybe Microsoft is way ahead—and Bill and Steve haven’t called me yet.

Google Chrome Netbooks: Education Test!

Google-chrome-netbook The Google Chrome OS (Operating System) has been available for testing for about a year. It is Linux-based, so developers have had a chance to play around with it. On December 7tth Google held a news and media gathering to launch its Google Chrome netbooks, along with some cloud computing ideas from Citrix. Other partners include Acer, Samsung, Intel, and other corporations for beta testing. Google’s Sundar Pachai (VP Product Management) and Eric Schmidt (Chairman/CEO) were on stage, while I wasn’t there in person, I did attend online. It seems they’ve aimed at the business market for these, but I just couldn’t understand missing the education value. Maybe Google has that in the pipeline somewhere, and we’ll hear about it whenever the netbooks have a solid release date. But, something needs to be said—just in case.

I was also in a chat room during the Google Chrome netbook announcement. Most everyone had a problem with offering this light machine on the consumer side. The complaint was that it just went to the Internet—and cloud environment—and that most consumers wanted a more robust machine. All the gamers in the chat agreed. For me, what would make the Google Chrome netbook unattractive to consumers, makes it perfect for schools. Heck, a netbook with Internet access with cloud environment/Google Docs is a no brainer to most educators. Sadly, there was not one mention about education use in that breaking news presentation. In my opinion, Eric Schmidt history lesson, while a nice tech story, needed a mention of education in it. What a great close that would have been.

The topper for me came with the beta testers and free netbooks. The entire audience was going to get a Chrome Google netbook, quite a few corporate partners, and anyone who applied online would get one as well. While the audience ahhhed and oooohed like an Oprah show, there was nothing about—we’re going to send some to needy schools. To me, that was an opportunity missed to make a larger splash. If the price of these is that tiny, and giving them away is great publicity, get them into some schools, too. Besides being learning valuable—imagine the excitement in having teachers and kids test something like this. It would be appreciated by little hands far more, too.

Features and Netbook Pilot

Because Chrome OS can sync, Google can store info, bookmarks, and extensions in a cloud environment—available anywhere. If you’d like to test the Cr-48 (name for now) netbook go here: http://www.google.com/chromeos/pilot-program.html, and using Chrome.

The 3.8 lb prototype for testing has a 12.1-inch screen, a full-sized keyboard, and no disc drive. Google says that Acer and Samsung will launch Chrome OS netbooks and notebooks in mid-2011, but a definite date has not been set.

Ed Tech News: Nov. 8, 2010

Education Technology News for November 8, 2010. Features TenMarks, ViewSonic, 3M, Discovery Education, and Casio.

Wireless Education Conference D.C.

Wireless1 The direction of cell phones as devices for more than calling, texting, and gaming, was very evident at the Wireless Education Conference 2010 in Washington, D.C. Qualcomm and it’s partners AT&T, Blackboard, Lenovo, and Verizon presented expert panel discussions, how to presentations and idea starters, as well as interviews with leaders in the wireless movement.

I was very impressed with the BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology options presented by CTIO Bailey Mitchell of Forsyth County Schools, Georgia. That, as part of a blended approach to increasing the amount of technology in schools, really puts supporting the infrastructure in the driver’s seat, and the CTO’s role changes from “Dr. No” to Can Do. This is certainly a philosophy to be replicated. Students can work in their system with whatever device they bring in—iPads, iTouches, whatever—doesn’t matter. As Mitchell says so wonderfully, “Our user base tolerates no downtime.”

Two important factors are Forsyth’s open access configuration is simple, with no intrusion or virus considerations, and their hardware purchasing is for only those students who don’t have, and can’t afford computing devices.

An important consideration has to be that the Internet in education is like an opera singer—it needs great pipes. And when you don’t have to worry so much about getting the hardware for all, more emphasis can be placed on the broadband—those pipes. When that happens, the cloud becomes a reasonable option, and a lot of budgetary expenditures can be freed up.

Dr. Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm puts it well, “Processing power in your pocket is growing. Mobile devices and cloud are moving forward.”

I’d like to see more work being done vision-based AR, augmented reality. It seems to me the smaller screens would play well with 3D applications—without the hassle of glasses or distortion found in larger screens. Right now, the simulation activities kids use in classes are more checks, plusses, and circles. It’s pretty primitive, and not too far removed from that original coordinate, move the turtle, applications in the 70s.

Most of the applications for mobile devices shared at the conference were STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering , and Math based, but the language arts and reading application for these small computers will open a lot of teaching possibilities—from flashcards to polling on the fly (Poll Everywhere)—we are at the education wireless edge and ready to jump off flying.

Note: My interview with Kristin Atkins, Director of Wireless Outreach, Qualcomm, will be posted soon at Scholastic Administrator's Online Video Page.

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