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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...

A Few of My Favorite Things

As I get ready to leave Scholastic, I've begun to look back at some of the things I've done, and decided KenR2 that sharing a few of my favorite things would be appropriate. While I have been on many onsite visits at conferences, my school visits have been an academic hug for a digital chalk pusher like me. Please take a look at three of my visits with some amazing administrators, staff and students. The 1st two were done with my own simple Canon and a two mics, but the 3rd I just interviewed and directed. I enjoyed all, and hope you will, too.

New Milford High School, NJ Visit with Principal Eric Shenniger, Students, and Teachers:

Carmody Hills Elementary School, Maryland visit with Principal Roletta Alfred, Students, and Teachers:

Stanwood Elementary School, Hempfield Area School District visiting Assist. Supt Barbara Marin, Students and Teachers:

Getting Smart with Tom Vander Ark: Podcast

When I called for positive education voices, Tom Vander Ark agreed to share. You'll find out about his book, TVA Getting Smart, as well as his predictions for 2014. I recommend this one as a faculty meeting, administrative council, professional development discussion starter. Listen to another voice for positive education and education technology change.

Enjoy and learn by listening to Getting Smart with Tom Vander Ark:
(Embedded player requires Flash) 

MP3 Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/753/show_2753779.mp3

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

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)

My Friend Clicker: Response Systems Teacher View

ClickerWhen talking response systems and voting/polling software for classrooms, it’s easy to lose the reason why clicker devices can be a teacher’s friend, rather than just another technology device. Look at them from a teacher’s viewpoint.

Here’s a simple fact, at the end of a marking term, teachers still need to come up with grades for each student, base on classwork and participation, homework, tests and quizzes. A substantial amount of data has to be collected and weighed to make an accurate assessment of a student’s abilities, as well as his/her weaknesses. Relying on only quizzes and tests for mid and end of term data, as well as for parent conferences makes knowing a student on paper less accurate as knowing a student in class each day. Response systems, tied into student grading software and student information systems are invaluable. They make it possible to capture classroom moments, where students really get something, and shine, as well as those things that need more work. If you’re a teacher, clickers take a snapshot of classroom assessment for each student each day. It’s what teachers have always seen, but difficult to annotate. They really make it easier to accurately score a student, and report those findings. And, response systems do what the name implies—gives you more individual student responses. Guessing at grades can’t happen.

If that’s not enough, as a teacher, you need to know if what you’re teaching isn’t sinking in before you’ve spent too much time thinking it has. No one wants to get to the end of the week, after teaching your heart out, to discover most of the class bombed the quiz or test. Teachers know the familiar lament, “I can’t understand why they did so poorly on the test. I did everything but flips to get them to know it!” Most of the time that speech is given in the faculty room, where others commiserate, because they’ve been there, too. Well, with response systems, there is no reason to get there, because immediate feedback on how your lesson is doing is a simple question and response away. If a teacher knows the direction he/she is headed, guiding students to a better path gets a lot easier. And, if you say that student hands to do the same—well, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell you.

There are plenty of reasons students like them, too. Most of those have to do with fun, as well as having confidence in answering questions in a crowd. No one gets embarrassed for not knowing, or answering differently. That increases the odds of a student taking a chance. Response Systems are certainly the best cure for student tears and red, burning ears. Tell me you’ve never been there! As one student, Margo, said to me recently, when I asked her about a Vote system she was using in class, “Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s OK, but mostly I get things right now.”

Maybe it’s time to investigate response systems to discover Your Friend Clicker.

Companies in the Response market; listed in random order (apologies if I've missed one):

iRespond

eInstruction

Dukane

Promethean

Dymo/Mimio

Qwizdom

Qomo HiteVision

Turning Technologies

SMART Technologies

Renaissance Learning

H-ITT

Poll Everywhere

i>clicker

Kick in Interactive Seat of the Pants

Is the interactive teaching goal being met? KenMic

The method and resources for students to experience brilliant, real life challenges, using the newest interactive devices needs a kick in the whiteboard backside. These discovery/experiential lessons should use interactive hardware (white board solutions and other appropriate interactive devices), assessment tools, software/Internet places, books, eReaders, and possibly 3D technologies to as closely duplicate real life discovery. At the same time, this learning should meet reading/writing and math common core standards, including the use of technology for backing up research. Is it happening?

Unfortunately, what I still see are PowerPoint/Flip Card lessons, dragging words across the screen, with an occasional video clip tossed in. Usually these things are separate and not, “blended”, pardon me for using that word. Now, I appreciate the need for stepping stones of technology for teaching with it, so I have nothing against using Flip and PowerPoint as a beginning building block, but I have everything against using it as the end all of interactive teaching—today.

When many of the best teachers, using technology, are still just masters of multimedia, rather than masters of a lesson with a full-bodied story from start to finish, a poke may be needed. Educators need to do interactive things that can and can’t be done without them—and do those teaching things easily. If you can jump through 20 tech hoops, and finally figure it out—that’s fine, but most educators need a better plan. I’m really looking at the marketplace to figure that out, along with real educators who understand that sometimes tech takes more time than it’s worth right now. To me, that stresses the importance of making the tech simple to use, but not making the lessons one dimensional in the process. Don’t get me wrong, not all lessons have to be complex, but let’s take advantage of interactivity as part of a masterful lesson.

Create lessons that are full-bodied, involving book(s)/eReaders, software especially designed for whiteboards and other interactive devices, as well as other Internet/Web 2.0 extensions, with even blog, e-mail, and social media components. Cover science and math, reading, language arts and writing, as well as individual and group activities—all in engaging, interesting and collaborative ways. Modify to suit the area, level, and student.

It is too easy, and inappropriate to rely upon interactive device companies and product managers to dictate the methods for teaching with this technology. In that way, it makes it too easy to stick with PowerPoint and Flip, with an occasional video clip. I never liked it when I was told, “Teachers won’t miss it, if they don’t know what they’re missing.” Showing them what they’re missing will take educators leading the field trip.

Don’t get me started with teachable moments for saving the day, here, either. While there are many moments in the teaching day that are magnificent surprises, enhanced with an interactive device, you can’t plan your teaching day for them to magically appear.

While this may seem a marketplace call to attention, teachers using interactive whiteboards should strive for more complete lessons, too—at least most of the time. Demanding that interactive software companies start getting serious about augmented reality and 3D resources for interactive whiteboards—that bring the experience to students in the way an actual field experience would, rather than the way the chalkboard or dry erase board did—can happen quickly.

Educators, leading and teaching with technology already are sharing better interactive lessons, and hate to see boards used as projections screens or room dividers, but the goal for best practice teaching use for these devices may take a swift kick.

Teaching with Tech: Josh Stumpenhorst Podcast

Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), Chicago 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher, talks classroom Superman5technology  with Ken Royal at the Royal Treatment. Listen to a fresh voice with new ideas for enhancing student learning and projects by using technology. Great teaching advice for veteran and new teachers, as well as district and school leaders.

If you would like to voice your own positive education voice, please check the directions and how  at DO SOMETHING: Positive Voices Wanted to submit your own. Join the campaign to hear fresh voices! It's easy to do.

Listen to Josh Stumpenhorst: Teaching with Technology.

Embedded Player (requires Flash):

MP3: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/674/show_2674679.mp3

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

Principal Dave Meister: Leadership Podcast

DaveMeisterListen as Principal Dave Meister (@phsprincipal), Paris High School, Paris, Illinois shares specific examples of education and technology leadership during a Ken Royal interview. Leading by example takes a bit of courage, but the rewards are exciting. This interview is part of a Positive Education Voices campaign. Educators DOING!

Here's how to voice your own: DO SOMETHING!: Positive Education Voices Wanted

Listen in your choice of media: embedded Flash player, MP3, or at iTunes:

 MP3: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/645/show_2645387.mp3

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

Card Table EdTech Advice

The other day, I tweeted that I'd rather read 3 or fewer ways to do something really well, instead of 100 ways to sort of do anything. I know, with Andy Rooney gone, that sounds like I’m in line to take his place—at least on the education tech front—wherever that is. I can hear my Andy Rooney voice now: I have 6 interactive classroom solutions lined up here. I can’t use all 6, so which 1 is best? Do you know?

Well, I’m certain it most always depends on individual needs, but because I live this stuff, I wouldn’t have a problem recommending the right ones for a specific educator, classroom, school, or district if asked.

Hey, wonder if that would work? Set up a card table at the education and technology conferences. Has to be just a little better advice than the Mystery 8 Ball’s YES, NO, MAYBE, or a psychic card reader—right?

Picture me at a table greeting admin and educators:

“What are you looking for? Oh, you’ll find that in aisle 3, but stop by booth #556, too, because you may like that as well. And, you’re going to need one to these gizmos—you’ll find in the last aisle. It’s new, but will have students hopping out of their seats.”

Sounds a bit like the Santa in the old Miracle on 34th Street sending customers to other stores for the best gift buys. 

I don’t think you’ll see me at a card table anytime soon... although you never know...

Here’s another tweet I saw, recently:

“How do you change a tech reluctant staff?” I don’t get that (Andy Rooney RIP again)! How does a staff get to be labeled tech reluctant in the 1st place? Seems to me that puzzle piece shouldn’t even be in the tech box.

Let’s add a few directions to the side of that box:

1. Know the curriculum.

2. Choose the right tech to match that curriculum.

3. Give that tech to all staff, and in all the classrooms.

4. Offer initial training.

5. Offer ongoing support.

6. Guide students to become more in charge of their own learning.

Additionally, #7 was offered by one of my favorite teachers:

7. Invite teachers to share project ideas with staff (for inspiration).

Let’s stress the importance of Educators as guides for students and colleagues—learning with or without technology.

Now, where’s that card table?

Curriculum Driving Technology

Marin Photo[1]I’ve just returned from visiting a wonderful school and district. Dr. Barbara Marin, Assistant Superintendent of the Hempfield Area School District near Pittsburgh, PA, invited me to visit classrooms, where teachers and elementary students were using technology in the right way. That correct use wasn’t an accident. At the Stanwood School, and other schools in the district, curriculum drives the technology use, and also drove its initial purchase.

Administrators and teachers at all elementary levels, including special education, as Photo[3]well as parent and student stakeholders have bought into the use of technology. One of the reasons is that everyone absolutely adores Dr. Marin, and I’m certain the feeling is reciprocated, because Marin’s eyes light up when her staff shares what they do and how their teaching has changed for the better. I also think that this district, under Marin’s leadership made technology important for everyone, in all classes, by making it a part of each classroom and not by singling out one or two educators as test pilots. There are no pockets or islands of pioneers here. Every teacher has equipment, and guess what? Each teacher is a teaching technology pioneer as well as an across-the-district team member. The curriculum is first, of course, but the use of technology is ubiquitous in Marin’s district.

Photo[2]Each classroom has four student computers for reading and math center programs, a projector, and Mimio solutions—MimioTeach, MimioVotes, and MimioView to make classrooms interactive and engaging for students. All teachers use MimioPads to direct and lead teaching in a mobile way. It is the first time I’ve seen this many teachers so positively use this much technology seamlessly with so many elementary students. There are no behavior difficulties because all students are engaged—and I don’t use that word lightly—they are involved in their learning.

The Hempfield Area School District is the poster/billboard for how technology should be done, and what teachers and students can do with it. I've visited many, but to see a complete school technology package, which began from the curriculum rather than the device side--is brilliant and refreshing. And hey, look at the products they chose for that curriculum.

It was a pleasure to visit, and it must be a pleasure to teach there. I’m hoping there’s an invitation to return, because it certainly was an academic hug for this old chalk pusher.

Photo

Google+ The Next Education Meeting Place

I’ve been trying to figure out where the next collaboration and meeting place would be for educators. Google_plusLike the Old West, I’ve been feeling a bit advertising pushed on Twitter and as for FaceBook the Yogi line about it’s too crowded—no one goes there anymore is starting to fit. For a guy who began with AOL chat in it’s earliest stages, it seems the options for actual teacher collaboration are pretty much the same—just more people doing it outside the four walls. So, I was a bit leery of Google+, even though I’d been a Google user for a very long time. I had so much else going on, so it seemed to me Google+ would be just another thing to juggle, and heck, was there anything there for me beyond sharing thoughts about music, or video, or the latest TV program?

A few days ago, a friend, Peter Vogel (see Editor's Notes) gave me a small push by way of Twitter. Peter KenR2 Pvasked, “Are you using Google+?” And I pretty much said that I was studying the idea, but didn’t think there’d be anything for me there. I pretty much asked, “Why would I want to be there?”

What follows is our Twitter conversation, so if you haven’t tried Google+ you’ll see that it’s pretty easy to do. If you have a Google login, you’re all set, and if you don’t, create one. You’ll find it here: https://plus.google.com/. And if you know Google, things don’t remain constant for long, so something new from them is probably going to happen… soon. Jump in, create some education and education tech circles. Maybe it’s the next place  for us to gather and share—outside the faculty room, or passing in the hall.

KR: Peter, any problems with Google+ and why would I go there?

PV: No, no problems with G+ whatsoever. The environment is terrific. I suggest it is perfect for someone like you with lots to share.

PV: You are a blogger.  G+ is a natural fit for you. I enjoy writing, but somewhere between a tweet and full-on blogging.

PV: Grab an "instant circle" of several hundred educators and you'll find the stream is instantly alive. The threading is superb.

PV: Have you filled out profile and added a photo/avatar?

PV: Have you added that circle? Keep it as a separate circle so you can edit it later. Don't make it "general". These should all be pretty good.

KR: Actually created an Education circle after sticking everyone into a friends one. Dragged 8 there to start. Still figuring this out.

KR: Which is another way of saying that I haven't a clue yet. ;>)

PV: That's OK. Just add my circle. You should see the message from me. Then add that circle. You've already added me so you seeing my traffic.

PV: Make a posting Ken. Anything. About a camera etc. Include a link to see how G+ handles them. Make posting "public."

KR: Cool. Thanks Teach!

KR: Peter. I've posted a comment. You have at least one person in your circle I'd rather not add. What's the work around there?

PV: Right, you just drop them from the circle once you've added it and they are gone.

PV: The list is reasonably well but not perfectly vetted.

PV: Good, you've added the circle. Now for the profile statements and you are good to go.

KR: You're right, this is quite cool, and may be something for sure. Read some feeds.

Editor’s Notes:

My Google+ Mentor and Friend:

Peter Vogel, Vancouver BC, Canada

Vogel is an ICT/Physics teacher, lifelong learner, Internet/tech newspaper columnist, Network admin, PM & Premier's SciTech, CAP 2011 winner. CERN HST 2011. G+ user

Peter’s works primarily in the area of Information Technology (ICT) with a focus on classroom applications, and in physics. Following a one month stay at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider , he developed an interest in particle physics. Peter is very active on Twitter (http://twitter.com/petervogel) and maintains various web sites and other online publications. Here’s an example, check it out if you enjoy student balsa wood constructions:  http://www.balsabridge.com/

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

AppHazard: Involve Educators

Grade 5 Tech How can educators know about Apps, and determine whether they are space junk or teaching appropriate, and how will educators really influence tech people who build them, as well as companies that provide them?

When the Internet first became a possibility for educators and classrooms, I jumped in. There were very few of us at that time, which made connecting and collaborating between continents a necessity. A research and development guy at IBM taught me some HTML and how to created a Web page using notepad. I’m not sure the phone line modem was 14.4 at the time. Most of us named those initial sites after our classroom, and what we were teaching. Mine was Mr. Royal’s Science Site. It sounded good then, and the 10 or so others around the world, doing it with me, had similar titles. It worked then.

When AOL for e-mail and chat, and Netscape for WYSIWYG Website building came along things really exploded online. You didn’t have to build it all yourself, and you could find more work and lessons done by educators in at all levels and subjects and grades. Best of all, teachers shared. Things got so good that those sites that were not educationally appropriate joined the number of sites that were educationally appropriate. I remember suggesting to an editor at Well Connected Educator, which later became TechLearning, that I’d put together something call Site of the Day, which would suggest the best Websites for educators. I convinced her that it would be equivalent to sharing sites in the faculty room or in the school hallway. Anyway, Site of the Day is still at TechLearning today.

It’s not that educators couldn’t figure this all out; it’s just that it made it easier to find good sites, and the simple descriptions and how to helped them know whether it was appropriate. We are  at a similar place now with education Apps. There aren’t that many, yet, but the wave is building for a tsunami of iPad and Androids apps that will much more quickly build.

I think there are a few things that need to happen, and I’m sure you can think of more. Here’s my short list:

1. Educators, in districts, who know how to build apps, need to work with those who do not, to create real teaching applications that are appropriate. Teachers know how to teach and won’t settle for fluff that’s just pretty. Educationally sound apps is what we want.

2. Companies creating, or providing Apps, need to involve real, in-the-trenches educators in the creation, as well as in the evaluation. My fear is that the apps that make it to teachers, without the involvement of  “real” teachers will have use wandering off in ways that aren’t educationally sound.

3. Districts need to create App Committees to vet appropriate Apps—just as Websites are evaluated. Making that part of an AUP, and part of a school or district tech committees duties is completely appropriate. This is not meant to stifle teaching creatively with technology, but rather to keep an organized app education plan in tact. Mapping course goals should include the apps that are appropriate, too. There is nothing wrong with saying that to cover a particular topic, teachers should use a particular tool, and apps should be included.

4. Education magazines and journals need to help cover educationally sound apps as well.  Maybe having educators providing an App of the Day, with how to and a bit of description needs to be done. Most educators still share locally, even though so many more have international access. Education publishers with national and international clout could help by sharing more educators doing things beyond clay, glue, and glitter. Those administrators and teachers are out there it's just a matter of asking them to share.

Finally, don’t get me wrong; one thing I do know is that if all the wires were unplugged, teachers could still teach. But it’s a different time, and the tools to engage are here, and more arriving daily. Making sure those tools and lessons are educationally appropriate should be the responsibility of educators, and be directly influenced by educators. That was true when I only had a blackboard and a few pieces of chalk—then when I had a class Website—and it is true, today, with my digital tablet.

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: 

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.

Scholastic Live: iPads & Common Core

  Stage1
 Dan_Brenner Scholastic Administrator’s August Live Tech Event was an exciting and unique  Edward_Salinaevent for more than 200 education guests and marketplace experts. Speakers included Dan Brenner, Rosyln, Long Island superintendent and Ed Salina, Plainridge superintendent talking How To District iPad. To round out the event, Susan Gendron (former Maine education leader and 1:1 advocate), now coordinator for Gendron SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium discussed the NEW Common Core, and how assessments in Reading and Math would change, as well as what that would mean for administrators, educators, and professional development.

Both presentations at the Scholastic Live Tech Event placed strong emphasis on training, which makes me think that 2012 will be The Year of Professional Development. The presenters gave educators high marks for making things works, and also agreed that administrators can make things happen, because they are closer to the purse strings.

Brenner and Salina said making tech changes happen for the same price as without tech, especially savings in the area of textbook purchases, makes tech an easier sell to board members and the community.

While Brenner and Salina are using iPads for their students, in their respective districts, they are open to other technologies as they develop, but for now and for them, nothing touches the iPad. They do recommend a stylus for writing and a rubberized keyboard to cut down on the typing noise. BTW, the keyboard idea came from their students, who discovered that the need for keyboards was lacking in the project launch. I agree with the kids.

Gendron, who is known for her Maine 1:1 tech trail blazing prefaced her talk with a caution that keying into one device isn’t the answer, and that educators should remain open. She also stated that the new common core assessments would all require technology to help students verify and back up reading, writing and math work. We’re looking at more in-depth work in a trimmed down (for importance) curriculum, as well as everything moved down 2 to 3 grades levels, especially in math. Gendron says that it will be quite an adjustment and administrators will need to lead the charge.

A great question was asked by a school librarian, who wanted to know what part she and other librarians would play in the new common core. Gendron said that the importance of librarians and library media specialists would be even more invaluable to the new reading, research, and assessment plans.

Links to Take Away

iPad Link: http://roslynipadforum.wordpress.com/

If you’re thinking of doing an iPad project, Dan Brenner has done some of the work for you. Don’t re-invent the wheel—check his site first.

Sue Gendron shared a great Lexile Analyzer Link:Photo[5]

Lexile analyzer: lexile.com/analyzer/

Participating Sponsors for the Scholastic Live Event: 

Canon USA

DYMO/Mimio

Follett Software

Grand Canyon University

Lexia Learning

Panasonic System Networks

Teq

iThink Before You iPad

Ipad2Are iPads Really What You’re Looking For? 

I know that this may be swimming against the current, or fishing out where the fish don’t bite, but if you’re entering an iPad program because it’s trendy, you need someone to make you think before you jump. Having bought three iPads, I’m not an expert, but understand the trend, as well as the ease of use for new tech teachers and kids. And having been an instructional technology specialist, I understand the good, and conservatively can ask the right questions at the other end, too.

1. There is no doubt that the iPad is easy to use. You really only get to do one application at a time, so Transformer you get really good at whatever app you’re using. But, if you’re like me, I don’t buy the “no one multitasks” nonsense. It’s painful to close something you’re working on to open something else you need. I’m forever opening, closing, opening, and closing again. We do like seeing the kids and grandkids on FaceTime, but Skype worked just fine, too. The latter is probably more globally easy for schools, too.

Acer2. Recently, I asked an administrator if he was considering Bluetooth wireless keyboards for his iPad Program.  He said no. While I finger point at the screen and thumb type pretty well, I really need a keyboard to compose quickly and accurately for publication. Touching an iPad screen is easy, but maybe you’ll need more. And please, don’t tell me you’re buying them as digital readers!

3. This one is simple. You can’t replace the battery. Beyond easy to use, quick to boot, you need to consider how something is put together, whether the screws can be unscrewed, and if the battery can be replaced. I know the Toshiba is bragging that its THRiVE battery can be replaced, and that accessing folders can be done like on a traditional computer. You can’t do that with an iPad yet.

4. Netbooks are inexpensive, you can multitask, keyboards, batteries with long life, and cameras are Dell default, and most have touchscreens. Remember that App is short for Application, and you’ll find plenty to use simultaneously on a netbook.

5. I was using iDisk until the iCloud canceled my subscription. It was easier for transferring work files from Mac to Mac. So Cloud has been around, and plenty of storage “up there” is sold with most every device today. Visit the Microsoft site for some cloud videos to learn more. Walking through a Best Buy couldn’t hurt either.

Know that you’ve chosen the best tool for the task.

Larkin While there are many iPad projects out there getting press for all the wrong reasons, I’m very excited about a few iPad programs this year. Patrick Larkin, a brilliant, young administrator at Burlington High School in Massachusetts is leading one of them. His crew is thorough, done their homework, know what they want to do, and have picked the right tool for their tasks and for students and staff. I’d like to believe that everyone has done that work, and are as hands-on-the-project as Larkin and Burlington.

For me, tweaking a few nerves to have you step back before making the iPad jump costs nothing. Making the wrong choice for now and future needs can be expensive. Investigating alternatives makes sense.

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

Sound Classroom Audio

Sound
What's sound have to do with learning? 

I was reminded of the importance sound plays in learning this week, and of all places, at a golf driving range.  A friend, watching my inconsistent windmill hitting of golf balls hooked me up with something called Sonic Golf. You put this transmitter into the club shaft, attach a receiver to your belt, and insert ear buds—then you swing and listen. I quickly learned to specifically listen to the rhytym of my swing, the quiet associated with the transition/change in direction, and the speed. Sound feedback resulted in hitting the golf ball on the button—consistently. Learning can benefit by taking advantage of the science of listening.

What about sound within classrooms, and for teachers, kids, listening and learning?

I’ve long been a proponent of sound in the classroom. As a teacher, I toyed with all sorts of ways to hook up a microphone and simple speakers, so quiet students could be heard in a classroom. The best student presentation suffers when the audience can’t hear it, and no amount of  “speak louder” reminders will help. I also remember rigging up old record players with mics, because they had speakers—and sort of worked. Just that, was an improvement in a regular classroom. And by saying old record player, I’ve, again, dated myself.

As instructional tech specialist, I was forever looking for ways to inexpensively tie our teachers and computers into the ceiling speakers. I usually started with teachers willing to experiment, but most often with those who had students with IEPs that included sound options. It made those students, with the obvious hearing needs, more successful, and teachers discovered that the rest of the class benefited as well. At first, we used handheld microphones. Not the best for orchestrating a class, but certainly exciting for kids. Then, we graduated to a few devices that hung like necklaces, and left teaching hands free. It’s amazing how many of those devices I saw in the hallway, hanging from teachers’ necks, because they had gotten used to them, and forgotten to remove them.

I know there are scientific studies to prove all this sound theory, but the bottom line is really to learn the art of listening, you just can’t be told to do it. I will bet you that in most classrooms that are sound improved, teachers don’t have to remind students to listen, and teachers don’t have to repeat what they say—as often. It’s not only the students on IEPs who benefit; it’s the entire class, as well as the teacher. So, if you haven’t, consider making classrooms sound ready in newer buildings, and sound improved in older ones. 

Here’s a hyperlinked list of companies that do classroom audio well. Visit their sites for more.

1.  SMART Technologies Audio Classroom Amplification System

2.  FrontRow To Go and Pro Digital

3.  Califone Infrared Classroom Audio System and Califone

4.  LightSpeed REDCAT and TOPCAT 

5.  Panasonic All-In One Portable Sound System

6.  Cetacea Sound Astronaut 

7.  TeachLogic VoiceLink Plus sound system

8.  Calypso System’s WCM-RF Classroom Voice Amplification Solution and ezRoom 

9.  Epson AP-60 Sound Enhancement System

10. Promethean ActivSound 

11. Extron VoiceLift 

12. Crestron FreeSpeech

Cameron Evan Talks Teaching Innovation

Evans Cameron Evans, Microsoft's National and Chief Technology Officer US Education, talks innovative teaching with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Learn about innovative teaching programs, what innovative teachers are doing now, including gaming, and how to get involved in your own student and teacher innovative projects.
Listen to my interview with Cameron Evans:

Embed Player (requires Flash):

MP3 Audio Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/149/show_2149307.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:

Gaggle's Andrea Keith: ISTE

I've been following Gaggle from the start, and enjoy hearing about their new and safe student resources and Internet options. It has developed into a safe and robust, one-stop for using Web 2.0 technology with kids. It offers, student e-mail, apps, safe texting, communication, teacher and student collaboration, as well as learning tools.

Watch my Gaggle Interview at ISTE to learn more:

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

Great School Fundraiser: Promethean & PTA Team

ActivBoard500 As a teacher, and then as an Instructional technology specialist, I discovered early on that parent/teacher groups offered support for ideas, as well as funding for those ideas. There were times when the district had no cash to float a great idea, but the PTA, or PTO would jump in to help. For me, and other staff, it just took writing an understandable proposal, and then presenting it to the parents' group. So, when I came across news of Promethean’s Great School Fundraiser, I immediately thought back to my own parent group support. This community effort awarded a Promethean ActivBoard System as top prize.

JimM “Today’s economic times are challenging us all to become more resourceful and this showed in the contest submissions. When it comes to supporting schools, no one does more than parents and community members. We applaud everyone who participated in our contest this year,” said Jim Marshall, President of Promethean North America.

More about Promethean’s partnership with the National PTA can be found online at www.prometheanworld.com/PTA. Learn more about the Great School Fundraiser there, the 2011 winners and their community projects, as well as how to register for the next contest.

About Promethean www.PrometheanWorld.com
Promethean products and resources can be found in classrooms around the world, and PrometheanPlanet.com, provides its almost one million members access to free teaching resources.

About National PTA  http://www.pta.org/
National PTA is devoted to the educational success of children, and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

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?

Samsung SUPERHERO: Pushing the Doc Cam Envelope

Austin_davinici
The Samsung’s Imaging Division
, which includes document cameras, regularly does these SUPERHERO video competitions, where students get to win a nice $500 cash prize, as well as a SAMCAM 860 document camera for their classroom. For the contest, students portray a historical character and are judged on presentation, performance, character and content accuracy, as well as quality.

Austin, a fifth grader from Blissfield, Michigan won the winter contest. He played the part of Leonardo da Vinci. The spring winner will be named on June 17, 2011. Entry information for these and future competitions can be found at www.samsungk-12.com.

Checking out contests and grants for classroom tech is fun, and you never know—you might win.

I like the idea of pushing the envelop with document cameras, whether it’s by teachers or students. Just using doc cams to display documents, today, is call for a faculty brainstorming session. It’s an easy to use, interactive classroom tool that deserves a place in any creative classroom.

Even the simplest document camera models, those without video options, have great still-image capabilities. For example, a simple changing of the slideshow display time to its quickest intervals, using still images in sequence, can create the appearance of animation with objects or clay. Sort of a new-age flip book.

Editor's Note:

I always recommend checking building and district rules to make sure you’re within the guidelines. Samsung’s SUPERHERO contest is safe as well as fun. Having students dress up in what amounts to a disguise should pass any AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). It’s a good idea for everyday classrooms, too. Kids love to dress up to play the part of a scientist or even a mathematician.

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

Tech-Lite Educator Apps & Tech

Pad3 Ok, I broke down and bought an iPad 2. Yeah, like I was the only one! For me, the purpose went beyond watching movies, FaceTime, eBooks, or listening to music or audible literature. My main goal was to go light, and I know that educators may want to try it, too. Here’s how the iPad 2 with a couple of Apps, can take the computer off your desk, or the laptop off your lap—in a light sort of way—that is.

What you’ll need:

1. iPad or iPad 2 for $499: The 16 MB WiFi version is pretty much what most everyone needs.

2. Pages for $9.99: My heart is that of an educator, and I understand the importance of free, as well as inexpensive, but Pages is worth the cash. For me, it allows me to write, word process, and even e-mail my work/documents. There are some fancy-prepared templates, but I use the blank page to do my work. There are other options for iWork and iDisk, and even one for sending to iTunes. I don’t really get the iTunes option. So, I’m thinking that administrators and educators who like to travel light, and pack a bit of writing power would really find using Pages with an iPad extremely productive for more than class notes, meetings, workshops, notes to parents, and lesson plans. Oh, don’t forget sharing to that great education blog you’ve started. Pages is not perfect, but I think it is the best thing out there for the purposes I’ve mentioned. You might be traveling lighter, and leaving the laptop home.

3. Penultimate for $1.99: There are a lot of note taking possibilities. I’ve discovered the only gadget Pad1 that does both notes and audio is Livescribe, but we’re talking iPads and note taking here, so Penultimate is my choice. At first writing with your finger may seem a bit like finger painting, but using the pen, eraser, and undo tools is a snap on lines, graphs, or blank note pages. Changing the pen color and sizes is easy. I like that I can reorder, organize, or delete note pages quickly. I’m old fashioned, so you’ll still see me with a small traditional paper pad, but I’m really close to ditching that, too. If only I had more hands! Wonder if there’s an Ap for that?

4. Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard for $69. This may be optional for some, but not for me. Yep, I broke down and bought a super wireless keyboard for my clunky old hands. While I’m a thumb-typing star on my Blackberry, I’m all stumbling-fingers on the iPad’s touch keyboard. Without the Bluetooth keyboard, I’d never get beyond a first line. The keyboard is really for times when I’m not on the move, so I see it as more of a desktop device. I know my limitations. While roaming, my finger pointing technique is just fine, but if I need to write something like this post, for me, that’s a job for a real keyboard.

5. Optional: Stand of some sort for about $29.99 or less.  I got one called Loop at Target by Griffin. It’s simple and heavy enough. It works on a table, or pretty much wherever you can stand it. The iPad fits in beautifully vertically or horizontally.
Pad2

New Jersey School Boards Association Learn@Lunch

Nj3 I received a wonderful invitation from NJSBA (New Jersey School Boards Association) and Erik Endress to join them for a Learn@Lunch program today. Principal Eric Sheninger hosted the event at his amazing school today. You'll see the teacher in the administrator, enough energy to power a battleship, and they're making it happen in an older building. This was one of the tightest presentations I've seen involving social media, students, parents, and teachers. Beyond the presentation, there were some serious answers to some serious questions from attendees at New Milford High School and those visiting virtually. Fortunately, it was archived using Adobe Connect and you can see it here:

http://njsba.adobeconnect.com/p13932108/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Es1 From Facebook to Bring Your Own Technology to cell phones to class projects, you'll watch and listen to some ideas that will spark and enlighten. The student sharing was brilliant. One student talks about her European visit for a humanities Holocaust project, and three others do great and useful product reviews of handhelds they use.

If you watch one presentation this year, this should be the one. Share it with your PLN, admin, and other educators.

Teq helped out with the interactive tech, which included a whiteboard.

Dell 2120 Classroom Ready & Rugged

2120 tpa
The Dell Latitude 2120 is perfectly packed for classroom adventures, and rugged enough to take even the toughest bus ride home in stride. The feel is that of a heavyweight, although the size is right for a student lap or cluttered desk. I ran the 2120 on battery for a school day and it still had plenty of power 2120 ruggeda left. The keyboard was a small adjustment for my hands, because the keys were closer together than my own machines, but that tells me it's a perfect fit for kids. I liked the two mouse buttons, with up and down scroller functions, but mostly used the touch screen.

The 10-inch Matte screen was an adjustment for me, too, I sort of like shiny, but using Office applications, and Internet searching was brilliant on the screen. The 2120 was quick and responsive, even with a few things going on at the same time. Speakers on each side of the screen were fine for music and video sound. Chances are students are going to wear headphones anyway. I didn't notice any lag with video either. I was pretty impressed with the 2120 already, but was taken over the top with the attached Webcam, which was great, and really easy to use for stills and video.

I did want to know more about the screen, why there wasn't a stylus, and how a computer could fend off germs,  so I contacted Dell with a few questions.

2120 sideWeba Here's what I asked, along with the answers:

1. Why the matte screen?

Ans: We chose the screen due to customer needs and feedback. This display is anti-glare vs a true-life display on an HD quality screen resolution which are the 2 styles of displays you see on netbooks that have an HD quality screen resolution {a majority of time being the true-life style of display}. We heard from schools that anti-glare is easier to view things on rather than the true-life display option especially under a classrooms lighting… lots of glare. So between these 2 options, we elected to go with the anti-glare version as the other one would give a challenging user experience from what we found.

2. Why isn't there a stylus?

2120 front1a Ans: These are resistive touchscreens on the Latitude 2120 so in theory anything can be used as a stylus  in the classroom. The eraser end of a pencil, a pen cap, etc. Also, feedback was that the inclusion of the stylus would increase price and schools want the netbooks to be very affordable. Feedback from schools also told us that there is a worry about loss of the stylus if they were included and/or worry about them being tethered to the netbook creating a distraction for students {especially in elementary schools where this netbook is primarily sold}.

3. Is it anti-bacterial?  2120 keyboard

Ans: It’s anti-microbial which means that germs have a hard time propagating on the KB itself. It’s the  same coating applied to most “machines” / “devices” you’d find in hospitals today.

  (Left)2120 sidea Side View with VGA, 1 USB, headphone and microphone input. (Right) Side 2120 side2a View with 2 USB. ethernet, and power adaptor input.

 

2120 tilta (Left) Front View with SD slot and bottom view showing battery, which raises the 2120 bottomb back of the 2120 to aid in keyboard positioning. (Right) 

 

 

 

 

2120 front1a

Principals Connect

In the mid 90s, Gwen Solomon began directing her Well Connected Educators online. Her idea was to get Gwen_solomon educators to write and talk about what they were doing in their districts with technology. I was one of many, who joined in to share beyond the faculty room and classroom walls. A lot of educators, who were local pioneers in teaching with technology, and wanted to share, had a chance to do it because of Gwen Solomon.

Today, there’s a group of principals and other administrators doing the same thing online. Connected Principals http://www.connectedprincipals.com/ is all about principals sharing ideas—and as you’ll read, with the Internet and social media, there are no boundaries for sharing.

Question: Why do you connect on Connected Principals?

Larkin Patrick Larkin
Principal
Burlington High School in Massachusetts

Connected Principals has become one of my most valuable resources both in the content and with my connections with the contributors. I get a daily dose of best practices in leadership from innovative Principals. In addition, the connections we have made also allow me the ability to interact with these great leaders and gather insights help me in my school improvement efforts in my own school.  I never imagined that this collaborative blog would become such a vital resource for me.  There is no other magazine, newspaper, blog, etc. that I consider more significant than this blog!

Geo George Couros
School Principal
Forest Green School and Connections for Learning
Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada

Connected Principals was created as a way of having school administrators from around the world share best practices and learn from one another.  Through this transparency of our own learning and focus on doing what is best for kids, we also wanted to show that administrators were aligned with educators working in the classroom directly with students.  Connected Principals was created to not only share learning with administrators, but with all educators.   I personally have learned that I am never limited to the ideas of a school or even division; I now have access to ideas from any part of the world.  This wealth of knowledge from so many can really help improve learning for our students.

Meister Dave Meister
Director
Illinois' first Cooperative High School

Connected Principals has allowed me to be exposed to a diverse set of views on many different issues in education. If you are a committed life-long learner, connecting with other practicing professionals is a must. I think what makes CP unique is that we choose to exchange our thoughts and ideas here because we are bound by a passion for our profession, the use of social media to connect, and the need to make education work for our local learning communities. I have not found a dynamic learning opportunity that fits my needs as well anywhere else. The ideas expressed and the ensuing dialogue that accompanies them continually challenge my mindset and make me a better educator!

Truss David Truss
Principal
Dalian Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School
Dalian, China

At first it was just to get to know some colleagues from all over the globe. My colleagues here in China have very different situations than me, and live in different cities, so I saw this as a great opportunity just to connect. Now, I find it indispensable for not just learning, but also guiding my practice. I’ve read many things here that I feel like I could have written, as it sits so well with my own philosophy and yet I’ve also read many things that I could not have written because I lack the wisdom and experience and even insight to come up with the ideas shared. I once read that technology doesn’t isolate us, it just extends our reach. My professional reach has been extended in a very powerful way with Connected Principals.

Smith Shannon Smith
Vice Principal
W. Erskine Johnston PS
Ottawa, Ontario

Connected Principals provides a forum in which we can share our ideas as we shape and refine our vision of education. The blogging community brings together a diverse collection of voices from educational leadership across the globe.  We don’t always agree on all points, but the conversation is that much richer for the diversity. There is a shared commitment to students and learning that draws us together. Reading my colleagues’ posts, I find my thinking being pushed in new directions, which gives me constant fuel for professional growth and learning. I have also appreciated the support that I have received from other CP bloggers. This support is what helps me stay focused on the big picture and how the local changes that I am working towards fit within it.  Finally, I like to be inspired, and the CP blog provides that on a regular basis. On many occasions it has provided me with reading recommendations, information on new approaches, and innovative ideas for addressing challenges at the local level.

Wejr Chris Wejr 
Principal
Kent Elementary School
Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada

Connected Principals is an opportunity to share some of the positive things that are happening at my school; too, it provides me with the opportunity to be challenged and encouraged by a larger audience of educators from around the globe. In addition, by subscribing to the feed for the blog, I gain further inspiration from passionate administrators whose ideas I borrow, adapt and modify to benefit the students of my school. The CP is more than a blog, it has been a door that has led me to enhanced relationships with a network of educational leaders whom I can turn to (through the blog, Twitter, email, Skype, Facebook, etc) for advice, encouragement, and critical reflection.  This collaborative tool is irreplaceable in my practice.

Martin Jonathan Martin
Principal

St. Gregory College Preparatory School
Tucson, AZ

I was already blogging regularly, on my own blog, but I began noticing as I became more active on Twitter that my solo blogging was a little bit lonely and a little bit sterile, lacking in exchange and discussion. On twitter I found increasingly exciting the opportunity to expand my PLN beyond its previous, far more narrow, parameters, but I wanted to do more to strengthen my new network and take the conversations deeper. Having always been a private school administrator and watching the broader, multi-national conversation about education reform, progress, and advancement happening from the sidelines, I felt the wish to raise my voice and have a forum in which I can do more to contribute to that larger conversation, and I immediately saw CP as an opportunity for that.  That is why I chose to connect in the first place, but over time I have been stunned by the extent to which my thinking and understanding of critical issues in education have grown by leaps and bounds by the posts, comments, and ongoing exchange that is happening at CP among both the writers and the readers of CP, which I believe has fast-become a very valuable hub for educators internationally who share, to some extent at least, the CP Guiding Principles.

(Editor’s Note: If you’re curious about what happened to Well Connected Educator, it morphed into something called TechLearning ;>))

Teaching Discussion and Classroom Controller: WT1

Wt1a I think that most teachers are naturals at making things work, and figuring out how to do things in less than optimum conditions, with equipment creatively modified to meet a need. Well, I think most teachers are hard-wired that way. For instance, in my school visits, I see teachers using a wireless mouse in conjunction with a wireless keyboard to make a classroom somewhat interactive.

Hooking up a wireless mouse and keyboard is simple, might require a battery or two, but for most it likely requires no help from the tech department. It’s usually easy plug and play. And it simply gives a teacher the ability to pass the mouse and keyboard to students around the classroom. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the most inexpensive ways to get a class interactive—fast.

Wt1c Now, if you’re looking for a more refined way to do it, Califone has an option called the WT1 for Wireless Tablet. I’ve just checked it out myself, and I prefer to call it a classroom controller, classroom lesson leader, or teacher discussion tool. That way you won’t confuse it with other tablets that are really computers.

The WT1 tablet comes with a stylus, which can be tucked into the device when not Wt1d in use, a USB computer connector cable for charging, an RF USB thumb-style projection/connection device, and a software disc. The entire setup from start to finish takes under 5 minutes, and can be easily done without any tech help, although Califone offers that at its site, too. The WT1 is for Window use only—at this time.

Here’s what you can do using the WT1 with its stylus:

The WT-1 is a controller that acts like a mouse, and offers, with the keys on the left desktop functionality when connected to your teacher station laptop or computer. Functions include desktop; up / down / left / right / OK arrows; mouse left / right keys; page up / down keys; alt and tab; clear / close / esc keys; and red pen / screen mode

The right side tablet choices offer software functions such as red and blue whiteboard/desktop drawing pen; multi-color pen; eraser; magnify; focus and resize the window; blank screen; hide upper and lower parts of the screen; clock/timer; record whiteboard session; snapshot of the current screen; and dialog box to adjust settings. Here's the WT1 video.

 To check the WT1 and other Califone products, check the site at http://www.califone.com/.

Wt1b

 

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.

Education Clouds Cleared: Berj Akian Interview

Berj In this episode of The Royal Treatment—Taking Learning to the Clouds—Berj Akian, Founder and CEO of ClassLink, helps define, more clearly, the meaning of Cloud Computing in education, and in today’s classrooms. Akian will also share the ClassLink solutions, including ClassLink LaunchPad.
Listen as Berj Akian clears up Cloud Computing:

MP3 Podcast Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/1/743/show_1743511.mp3

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

Embedded Player (requires Flash):

Quest for the iPad-Classroom NO Factor

Ipadb

In my quest for the iPad Classroom NO Factor, I really tried to come up with reasons for not using an iPad/iPad 2 in classrooms, but when teachers with no tech clue say, “This is the best thing ever!”, it doesn’t give me much hope for negativity. That said, here are the few things that I thought worth mentioning, and they are followed by some great Twitter responses to my “Why Not iPads?” question. At the very end, there's a great list of education apps sent to me by Instructional Technology Facilitator Leslie Noggle @ldnoggle.

Video2
1.
Not having Flash is the biggest downside. You get an error message that says something like “No luck, buddy, No Flash for You!” The other message says, “The video isn’t available” or something like that. There are a couple of third-party software/browser approaches to seeing Flash video, but they require nerdy website work-arounds, which defeats the iPad ease of use—at least in that area—for now.

Note: But imagine, what if all video, other than YouTube—there’s an app for that—didn't work on the thing? As a teacher, that might be a deal breaker, and actually prompted me to ask another Twitter question—below—about Discovery Education streaming for the iPad. See the response under Oh Tweet! in this post.

2. Synching to iTunes/stores may be another problem. You still have to do that in order to initially fire up the iPad 2, but there continues to be a tie in with Apps as well. Might cause Tech Directors to rethink management strategies a bit. I set up two iPad 2s and found the initial set up more difficult than the actual device use. After that, everything is cake.

3. I have to add price as another concern, but I mention that in most of my reviews, and about most tech. I just don’t like high prices for education. With the 16 GB, just WiFi version at $499, and for most, that’s all you’ll need, it might seem steep. I have to go back, though, to what I’m hearing about ease of use from the non-technical majority out there. “It’s worth the price, because I can work it!” And, truly, it’s simple enough for a kindergartener to use easily and safely. No need for multi-tasking there. And didn’t I read somewhere that multi-tasking is way over-blown anyway? Wonder how the screens hold up under clay, glue, and jelly sandwiches?

More of my iPad Research: The Quest for the iPad Classroom NO Factor

I’d already written my reasons to use an iPad 2 in the classroom post  iPad 2 Made for Teaching, so after testing the iPad 2 out myself, and discovering first hand its Flash shortcomings, I wondered what educators really thought the of the iPad 2. I began: @kenroyal: tweet a reason you wouldn't use iPad. #edchat #edtech

Oh Tweet! Not much iPad Twitter dashing there.

I followed up with this twitter tweet: “Does Discovery Education’s streaming video work on an iPad?” I know a lot of educators who use DE, and I know that in my teaching and as an instructional technology specialist, it was brilliant. So, if that didn’t work on an iPad, like so many Flash-based videos—that would be a showstopper.

Tweet Returns: (Note 140 responses combined for space.)

@CarpTracy DEN Beyond the Textbook login http://mobile.discoveryeducation.com/users/login

Most of the videos I have used are fine. Use the mobile site: Other content is being optimized. Most of our 'go to' sites are Flash-based esp for K-2. Left w/buying apps.

Looking at browsers that restrict Internet content. None really stand out and some are $$$.

@EmilyEmbury Yes, Discovery Education launched an iPad-optimized version of its platform in 2010. Here's the news release: http://ow.ly/4v9Dt

@CatinHatt Price, exclusivity of Apple, the tendency to exclude software, other shops, ebooks, etc.

@ldnoggle I see them as a great resource for small-group collab or centers even when can't afford 1:1. Yes sir DE streaming works great on iPad. So does Safari Montage. No Flash. More difficult monitor student Internet access. after playing w/ mine and looking at apps, I can't think of why I wouldn't, not for everything, but great for lots of things. Check @ldnoggle app e-mail suggestions below.

@wheninthailand Can't afford it yet :)

@activeducator Loving Android Tablet - all the millions of FLASH videos and educational apps out there all work! Loving Android Tablet - all the millions of FLASH videos and educational apps out there all work!

@tcooper185 various apps (Promethean, true Office apps, etc) not available.

@ProfTK <Only when I need a computer>

@DrTimony In class? Doesn't meet my needs. Potential distraction too novel.

@tcooper185 Honestly, no.Don't have an iPad or Mac.I want one. May just remote into a PC to get what I need. Not practical for a student though.

@indigo196 the single biggest reason is that they are less powerful, yet more expensive than a full-blown notebook or netbook. There is also the issue, which all tab devices have, of not being institutionally friendly in how they are managed. re: management -- it is difficult to use POs and the devices need to be registered to an email. The Kindle, Nook and iPad all seem to suffer. The store, and a single person's email; it’s been a rather big nightmare in our tests of the devices.

@RitaOates My issue is Flash apps. Too much lost value without it.

@billselak I am DYING to have 1-to-1 iPads in my class. I can't imagine how it would negatively impact my class, if led well.

@hammondccms Money! iPads cost too much for our district. I think we're looking at 1:1 with laptops down the road.

@bbuckner too expensive, although I would really love to have it. It’s not that I wouldn't use it. But tech is so limited @school. I think graphing calculators for the math classes should come first.  But 4 any school, how do you justify iPad expense when you still don't have a minimum classroom set of graphing Calculators per math teacher, and for students.

 @ldnoggle's e-mail, because 140 characters couldn't fit all she had to share.

 Hi!

I'm a little obsessed with the iPad right now, so I'm glad to answer this! As for doing one of the blog posts, I'd love to, but we don't have any iPads in use in our district right now. Until recently, they have not been on the "approved technology purchase" list for our schools. We do have a few iPod touches in the district, and I finally bought an iPad myself to test out (after having an iPhone since they came out). Our CTO also told us earlier this week she is ordering iPads for ITFs so we can test them in our schools. So- all that being so, I don't want to misrepresent myself as using them in the classroom right now if you need someone who is physically in classrooms using them. I just keep making plans for how we can use them when we are given the okay! Our district is going through a $4 million SMART Board initiative this year, so our main focus has been preparing and doing professional learning for that. All that being said...I'd love to do it!

These are apps I like though, and if I were back in the classroom and had iPads, I would be using most of these. With budget being what it is, it is not realistic for me to think that any of my schools will have class sets of any mobile devices anytime soon, but I can definitely see my elementary teachers using these in centers or with small groups. (Some are free and some have a small cost)

Language Arts

  • Alpha Betty's ABCs
  • Lola's Alphabet Train
  • Word Magic
  • Textropolis
  • Silly Stories
  • Dictionary.com

Math

  • Shape Builder
  • Shape-O ABC's
  • Tangram XL
  • Formulas Free
  • Fraction Factory
  • Coin Flipper
  • The Dice
  • Math Girl Number Garden
  • Slice It

Science

  • NASA
  • Star Walk
  • Cosmic

Social Studies

  • Oregon Trail

Assistive Technology

  • Tap to Talk 

Other

  • eClicker (teacher buys host...students download app)
  • Story Kit (create stories)
  • Google Everything (Apps, Translate, Earth, Maps)
  • Flexbooks (free textbooks for many subjects)
  • StoryRobe (another digital storytelling app)
  • Labelbox (This is an app that lets you put lablels on photos. I can see students or teachers taking photos on a geometry hunt, nature walk, etc... and then using this app to correctly label parts in the pic)
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Noterize
  • Crayon Physics
  • Some type of QR scanner....there are many
  • Mixeroo
  • Stop Motion

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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.