Classroom Swiss Knife

Imagine an ultra-portable hand held device for the classroom that could do all of the following: take digital pictures record digital video record digital audio (for podcasting, etc.) ability to upload images and media to a variety of websites act as a media player for MP3 files and video e-mail collaboration calculator organizer/calendar type text … Continue reading Classroom Swiss Knife

The Battle of the Minis

Wednesday Ginger walked into my office with a small box with a Dell logo on it and promptly asked, “Well, what did you win this time?” I wasn’t quite sure. The box had my name on it, but I hadn’t ordered anything from Dell. It had to be a part for something, because it wasn’t big enough to hold a computer. Boy, was I wrong. The box had the new Dell Inspiron Mini inside, one of the tiniest notebook computers I’ve ever seen.

At the SC EdTech conference last week the Dell rep had mentioned these things and said I should really take a look. I’m guessing he was serious and sent me one to try out, so I decided to put it through its paces.

As mentioned, this thing is tiny. Here’s a shot of the unit sitting on top of my HP full-sized laptop, with my hand thrown in for good measure…

Dell Inspiron Mini Size Comparison

Continue reading “The Battle of the Minis”

EdTech Day 3 – Conflicting Interests

Yesterday I went to sessions on policies and procedures. Today I decided to go to sessions on classroom integration ideas for technology. The ones I had selected deal with Web 2.0 resources and open source software. It was an interesting contrast, especially comparing the competing interests of yesterday’s presenters with today’s.

I arrived at the first session a little late due to a slight delay in checking out of my hotel. Kim Collaza was schedule to do a presentation on Web 2.0 resources. However, Kim was sick, and since I was late I didn’t catch the name of the person taking her place. Most of what she was showing I knew, but I did enjoy finding out about the videos of Lee LeFever, who has created an excellent series of YouTube videos explaining Web 2.0 concepts in plain English, with some entertaining animations.

During the course of the session, the presenter discussed several ways to get around filtering systems and policies imposed by the district. It was at that point that I started to take issue with what she was saying. I understand teacher’s frustrations with seemingly arbitrary rules about Internet access. I’ve also learned that teachers don’t often see the big picture, nor understand why a district imposes certain restrictions. And, I know that districts can go overboard, blocking access to resources that they have no business blocking. Continue reading “EdTech Day 3 – Conflicting Interests”

DimDim for DumDumbs

Sometimes I don’t know what goes through the minds of these folks that name software applications. I guess short and catchy is the goal, but the name DimDim makes me think of the Easter Island head on “Night at the Museum,” with it’s line, “You, dumdumb, bring me gum-gum.” Despite the silly name, DimDim is … Continue reading DimDim for DumDumbs

Starting from “Scratch”

This is the first of two applications I’ve come across this week which I’ll be highlighting here. First is Scratch, a free downloadable programming application from MIT modeled on the old Logo programming language. Later I’ll be taking a look at DimDim, a free alternative to the popular GoToMeeting application. I first learned about Scratch … Continue reading Starting from “Scratch”

Director or Coordinator?

Yesterday the central office staff met to go over our goals for the upcoming school year. Our superintendent talked with us about our roles as directors of our various departments. The emphasis this year is on “customer service” and on how we can play a supporting role for principals and teachers – those on the … Continue reading Director or Coordinator?

Recycling and Life on the Edge

It’s just Wednesday. However, this half-week has been much more strenuous that many of my full weeks. Most of that has been due to the computer recycling company that we used to remove the old computers from our schools.

Old computers are a MAJOR problem for schools. First, computers take a lot of abuse in a school setting. You just can’t get as many years of service from a school computer as you can from one in a home setting. It’s hard to explain this to a taxpayer. For non-functioning computers there is the problem of disposal. We can’t send these to a landfill. It’s an even bigger problem if the computer is still functioning. Because of concerns with student data on hard drives, we can no longer just sell the computers.

So, last spring our school board authorized me to work with a computer recycling group that would give written assurance of drive erasure. I made the arrangements, and on Tuesday a truck showed up to pick up our nearly 700+ computers, plus some odds and ends of non-functioning equipment. The fun was just about to begin.

First, the crew arrived at our district office. From appearances, these characters were ones I’d never want to meet alone on the street. One actually came into our office with an unlit cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other. I was beginning to worry. Continue reading “Recycling and Life on the Edge”

A Cautionary Technology Tale

This is an absolutely true story which took place last Thursday, June 26. The names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent because we enjoy giving Noel Kane-Maguire grief about this. Every summer the Furman Chemistry Department hosts a corporate luncheon to show appreciation for the sponsors of their summer research program. Professor Noel … Continue reading A Cautionary Technology Tale