Hi everyone! Lots of changes (GOOD changes) for me in the last few months. Won’t bore the planet, but back to topic.

Microsoft is losing.
Microsoft is losing in the education world.

Here, read for yourself:

http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=407&doc_id=526893

“Unified app store for Windows 10.”…right!  NO.

I like this:

“Since Chromebooks are specifically designed to work online with cloud storage there is no risk that students could lose their work and applications. Each student receives an unique Google account and cloud drive where all documents, preferences, and apps are installed, allowing them to work on the school provided Chrome device or any other computer, tablet or smartphone able to run Google Drive. If a Chromebook is lost or compromised it can be wiped out remotely with the “powerwash” feature.”

See….We talked about this!

Please read the article yourself, and comments!

Thanks for understanding my break!

Read this…then let’s discuss.

Okay. Digital textbooks. My favorite quotes:

“But the lost weight and a book bill that dropped from $600 to $150 were not the main reasons the all-boys Roman Catholic school north of New York City has gone all-in on the growing trend of digital textbooks.

Except for books on religion, all the texts the school uses are part of a digital bookshelf kept on an Internet cloud.

“We went to digital because it makes for better learning,” says Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac. “This is the way kids learn today. And the online content is a lot richer. You’ve got assessments, you’ve got virtual labs, you’ve got blogging.”

The emphasis on the points is mine. Except the last one. Looks like (to me) they went “all in” because mom n dad are PAYING for Junior and the SCHOOL ain’t doing well in the “assessments” category.

That is a cautionary note: Throwing digital media on a problem creates a issue AND a broken iPad.

 

More quotes:

“All the books are available to all the students, so a junior can look back at the freshman algebra book to review a concept. Students can click to find every reference to “osmosis,” say, in all the books. The school’s technology director, Patricia Murphy, says the textbooks have been updated three times this semester alone.”

Now, this may make it harder to teach, because the development of a lesson plan is based on the info in the book. So what to do? Rolling lesson plans? I have no idea.

More quotes:

“Lisa Alfasi of New Jersey-based Pearson Education Inc., publisher of the digital library, says Stepinac is the only school in the country, regardless of publisher, that arranged access to all books for all students.”

Pearson is know to be, well, less than stellar concerning publishing items (please do your own Google Search on it…you’ll find it, I’m sure.)

“At Stepinac, where tuition is $9,000 a year, the boys buy their own tablet or laptop. And the transition from paper to digital has hardly been noticeable for a student body of 700 that has grown up with Google and YouTube.”

Okay, if mommy and daddy can afford $9K, the BYOD model works. This may not be so much in some public schools. However, most colleges do this, and it works nicely. I’m slowly becoming a BYOD nerd. However, there has to be a honkingly large firewall in place to protect the others.

“Freshman Michael Bilotta says he is particularly fond of a feature that allows the digital books to read themselves out loud. “So when you’re tired, on the bus or something, you can just put earphones on and hear the lesson.””

Albeit a lazy method, they could read it and then listen. Not shabby.

You were waitng for the hurdle, weren’t you? The one that goes from “bump” to “El Capitan” in a blink…you waited…you got it!

“Going digital is not inexpensive. Stepinac had to invest $1 million in infrastructure, including increased bandwidth. The expense has been a barrier in getting most multischool public districts to make the all-digital leap.”

And given most public schools have crappy Internet Service, and most are already exceeding their finance cap (and have to put plans in place to reign in spending)..this could be the killer.Would you justify a raise in your taxes to support higher bandwidth for Junior?
(Shameless caveat: I live in NJ….if they tax us any further, I’ll have a Nexus 7 and brown rice for dinner….)

Minor last hurdle:

“It’s all great,” said junior Joseph Terrigno. “As long as the Wi-Fi doesn’t go down.”

If a school system is “sharing” a tech between schools, you could (theoretically) shut down a half a day of learning if you lose network access. Schools need to get with it and get GOOD TECHS, not SHARED TECHS. You need someone on site all day to do this. Don’t skimp, or you lose two periods.

 

Love to hear everyones’ comments!

 

I have a headache. Not a large headache, just a small one. And “today’s headache” revolves around this nugget of goodness.

http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letter-ipad-buyers-wrong-in-thinking-high-tech-yields-better/article_29324aea-37bc-11e3-bf28-0019bb2963f4.html

Read it first…I’ll wait. <tap tap tap>

Okay, where do we start this?

Apparently, this is a newspaper in Oregon. The author of the letter, a Sravya Tadepalli from Corvallis apparently, absolutely, completely misses the point.

Without any other research than THIS letter, it appears that the school board is purchasing 6,000 iPads to replace textbooks. Not a bad idea, as things go. We have learned from multiple incidents that if you give a kid tech, the natural extension of that is to HACK it. (Haven’t heard? go read! https://www.google.com/search?q=kids%20hack%20school%20ipads)

But back to the letter.

Our guest states that “Corvalis isn’t particularly resource-lacking”. Great for them…too many school districts ARE resource lacking. So, we can infer that the school is doing “okay” enough to be progressive. GREAT!

Now, our guest says “Our library has several computers available for public use, as well as iPads available for check out. If the school district is going to distribute iPads to students, the iPads should be distributed selectively to the kids who do not have computer access, not the kid who has an iPhone, iPad and two Macs.”

So, question: Who decides which kid gets what item? So SOME students get the device, and SOME don’t, if they have one in the home. What if mom or dad have ONE iPad for the house, and Junior can’t take it to school. If you are going to equip all the students, you have to equip ALL the students. That’s the concept of having all devices on the same platform, OS, etc. Obviously our writer is NOT a tech geek, and knows nothing of the pain of repairing and maintaining a mixture of devices. So we’re already “off to the races” with someone who….just…doesn’t…know.

Oh, and imagine the classroom scene when some precious snowflake goes “I got an iPad and you didn’t, nyah nyah.” Great, give these kids something ELSE to start on another kid for. Great plan!

Another quote: “The district also argues that students will be responsible with the iPads based on the reasoning that kids are responsible with textbooks and expensive calculators. However a textbook does not break when dropped on the ground.”


Now, this is partially true. Books HAVE broken on a fall. However, trying to update a printed textbook is, well, painful. Remember he World Book Encyclopedia set? And every year you got to pay for a “19XX Year Update”.
Yeah, that worked. <rolls eyes>

Our letter writer is absolutely, completely, unequivocally CORRECT on the next quote:

“The district also wants iPad technology to replace textbooks, to save resource funds. But iPads would have to be updated just as often as textbooks. And iPads aren’t simple devices; iPads contain the tantalizing fruit of … the Internet.”

Well, they don’t “contain” the Internet. They are like “digital on-ramps” and if you click the Google link above, you can see the kids do just that. The big problem is…items that use “the demon Internet” are the learning resources that you want to include anyway. Things like Khan Academy, you know, things to LEARN with. So let’s just control that level of access….and the kids will just hack into it and push the laughable controls right out of the way.

I can go as far as to say “hey, most of these textbooks are online” (full disclosure: my daughter’s school has at least two of her textbooks online….I think i saw her carry a vocab book once this year so far. ) so maybe a good solution is to use the iPad devices at school, and leave them there. You know, in a homeroom charging station or something …
(yes Virginia there IS a Santa Claus – http://www.google.com/search?q=ipad+charging+station+multiple+ipads)

So you can use the cheaper digital textbook on the iPad at school, and the online one at home. Ta-Da! Drop in a rule that says “they can’t leave the building without a signed note from the Head of Ed Tech and the Principal” and BOOM! Done!

Our dear letter writer leaves us with a nugget of happiness:

“iPads are no replacements for the teacher and textbook, and they never will be. iPads will not make the classroom “come alive.” Rather, the classroom will die while technology thrives.”

Now where do we start? Every “flipped classroom” and site has said again….and again….and again…..that technology is no replacement for quality instruction. They ARE a great investment to replace the books, but NEVER to replace the teacher. You cannot replace a quality instructor to guide, teach, and mentor. But replace $5000 in textbooks that are obsolete when printed? Uh, yeah you can.

Like any other piece of educational technology…a well trained and engaged educator with good quality tech can teach much more effectively and, god forbid, cause a student to …THINK and become more engaged because helps the student make the connection to the material.

And maybe, just maybe….we can stop teaching to the test and instead teach to the student.

Wouldn’t that be a great idea?

As for our letter writer Stravya, all I can say is that she won’t be “giving an Apple to the teacher”, and her essay gets a C-.

<pun intended>

 

“The Post-Lecture Classroom” http://feedly.com/k/14SkkDz

“Teachers Texting Students with Complete Privacy” http://feedly.com/k/1dyurpm

Tip of the old glass with a hearty EH to the tech giant Steve Dotto. If you aren’t listening to him, start today.http://dottotech.com

Or just Google Steve Dotto. Trust me, you will find him.

“Students At Lynn University Get iPad Minis Instead of Textbooks” http://feedly.com/k/16oBbgB

Okay gang! I’ll add more in a bit, but the savings of 50% or more, combined with the combination of internet plus text content is finally being shown.

Here’s the extra bit:

I’m noting a particular trend in educational computing..and it may (or may not be) the right one. It involves this:

Bring whatever device you want, because it will save us (the school) money.
Don’t ask us to be responsible for it.
We don’t have enough money to pay for “one for everyone”.
We (the educators) may OR MAY NOT have a clue what it is, but that’s okay.

And here’s the second most painful point:
I know it will save us money, but since we can’t afford ‘one of those things’ for every student, we have to spend MORE MONEY THAN THE DEVICE AND BOOK COMBINED to buy a textbook for every student.

Okay, this is where someone with a calculator should be saying “what the hell…..?”

When it’s cheaper to buy the device for the student, plus a digital copy of the book AND the deal is cheaper than buying the standard text and the study guide AND the teacher’s guide…then why are schools taking the MORE EXPENSIVE route while saying they don’t HAVE ENOUGH MONEY?

The second issue is that instructors (save the “flipped classroom” idea at Sophia.org (see http://www.sophia.org/what-is-the-flipped-classroom/what-is-the-flipped-classroom–3-tutorial?pathway=flipped-classroom) seem to be releasing knowledge (or even interest) of the digital world. It’s almost like that they figure “we can’t afford it, so why bother learning it?”

That answer is easy, though. Despite my belief that educators are overworked and underpaid, there is not enough time in the day for them to “fuss with the tech” when it doesn’t work. Since the tech tends to be “low bid”, and the technicians are too busy to work on every problem that comes up….the teachers and kids get junk. Literally, verbally, and figuratively.

The equipment needs to be:

  • Good quality
  • Ubiquitous
  • A definitive cost savings
  • Swappable with spares, with zero turnaround time.

The technicians and educators need to be:

  • Trained well
  • Supported by administration
  • Able to teach and support each other
  • Genuinely excited about it
  • Have the latitude to integrate it into the curriculum as needed.

These are big orders, but they ARE being done in other places. “Education foundations” and Bake Sales aren’t enough. Relying on parents to “buy” the equipment for school use “isn’t enough”.

The change can’t be “dollar driven”. It must be “child education driven”.

 

 

Hi everyone! First,the good news….Digital Education has a Facebook Presence! Just log into Facebook and search for “Digital Education”. Let me know how I can help…or if you have something to share!
For the lazy:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Digital-Education/486015628129102?ref=ts&fref=ts

Now, the pet peeve time. I keep seeing this problem over and over. This problem occurs at my daughter’s school, in different hotels, and especially where I work. There is this new “rush” to put up a flat panel on EVERYTHING and put content on it. Never mind that I observe students looking at their phones to get the same information that is being projected over their heads (that’s another issue all together)

Here’s the pet peeve:

ARRGH!

ARRGH! Just look at it!

This is the laziest, worst looking, most awful knot of wires to show that something was installed so it WORKED, but without any sense of CORRECT installation!

Look at the looped wires! The cable ties! The WORST I’ve seen in a while. Nobody will clean this, much less touch it, and it’s just a simple showing of shoddy workmanship.
Having installed these items in classrooms, I can tell you that the extra time to properly run the wiring through the chases makes a HUGE difference in keeping the equipment working properly. Not to mention that in higher education situations (as well as in business at times) when something doesn’t work, some knucklehead thinks they can”fix it” and starts pulling wires and what not. This makes it unbelievably frustrating to the techs who have to fix/repair and/or replace things. The object is to get this “out of sight” so that Captain Allthumbs doesnt yank on it.

Which could be avoided by proper installation in the first place. I wouldn’t let the room/area/device be “certified for use” until the wires and controls were all properly installed.

Sorry. Rant over. I promise that any install I do will NEVER look like this!

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Et5karsiGJ8/story01.htm

Well now. Did anyone else see this coming? I’m concerned about FERPA, but adverts are clearly an issue too. My rolling discussions with daughters’ school about a private cloud are still ongoing. What does everyone else think?

Hi everybody! Check out this blog from Education Week:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/02/top_congressional_democrat_off.html

Done reading? Good, let’s talk.

Simplest answer: Great idea, has to happen. Give us the money to do it.

Even easier: Government don’t have it. Great idea, but you do it on your own. We will give you a teeny bit.
Sad truth: If the school participates, THEY have no money, so they shoulder it onto the parent’s pocketbooks.
Sadder truth: Most of us don.t have the extra money because we took a hit in the pocketbook by increased Federal Taxes.

And it dies on the vine. And that’s sad. Anything to advance digital stuff in the classroom should (fingers crossed) be promoted. When the tech doesn’t work, it’s a stumbling block. I think our schools need to step it up a bit, and instead of buying the lowest priced tech junk, buy the right stuff. It’s simple ROI at the end, and helps the kids.

I wanted to leave anotehr link for all of you…but instead of me commenting on it, why don’t YOU comment on it and discuss!

Here ya go!http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/02/nm_schools_chief_overrules_pan.html

 

Hi everyone! Happy new year to you all! Well, It’s been a month since we bought for our home our “big” Christmas present…the ever loving Google Nexus 7!

nexus 7Yes, it looks like this!

The monthly analysis is in….it’s awesome. Twice on Tuesdays. Even the Daughter-Child agrees. See, she’s attached to her iPod Touch (like her Dad is!) and she doesn’t have an email account (more on that later!) but I’ve noticed that when she does her homework, the tablet gets dragged out for YouTube videos for “music to study by”.

Now, Dad’s analysis!

Damn thing is QUICK! Processor is not pokey at ALL. I’ve had one “crash” in a month, and it was because I did something wrong. Asus made a solid device here, and I tip my hat!
<tangent> Staples was running an ad for the 8GB for $199, and the 16 GB for $249. They were fresh out of the 8GB, so they had to give me the 16GB for the 8 GB price. I advise getting the 16GB over the 8, so your cost may vary</tangent> <—-there’s an XML joke right there!

Anyway, the item is rugged enough to put on the floor during morning meditation, and is pretty light and portable to transition form room to room. Speakers REALLY pack a punch!

Android: Update was a snap. Ice Cream Sandwich works exactly as advertised. The interface is intuitive for changing settings….not as intuitive as the iPad/iPod..but not a brainbuster. After a time or two, you’re an “old hand” at making changes.

Camera..NIIIICE! Front-facing only..which is fine by me. I wouldn’t want to use it to take videos or pics of anything..it’s too hard to work it around those things….but for Skype or TeamViewer work…perfect. Already had a Skype call from about 27000 feet above Kansas City, MO..connection was poor but the audio/video was just fine.

Integration with Google EVERYTHING is seamless. Amazingly good. A caveat: if you don’t have a Google service set up (like Google Drive, for instance) then adding the app and accessing it is painful. Simple solution: back off and go to Chrome and log into the service that way…THEN access it through the app. You won’t have to access it through the Web again.

(do remember to activate sharing if you attach a file through Drive….thanks!)

Speaking of Apps..the Google Play store is a nice parallel to Amazon.com and iTunes. I’ve downloaded about 10 apps, all without any pain at all. You can drag the apps and group them as you need, just like an iPad/iPod. There may be some confusion between the Apps view and the widgets view..just do what works for you. you can drag just about anything around and make it your own.

Now, a silent warning….you can only log in as one person at a time, so if you’re singed in to Google World as “me”, you need to sign OUT before someone else signs IN. It’s painless, but needs you to learn a new habit.

Security: nice. Standard Android pattern lock, plus a “face identification” item with additional “blink” tech (it tells you to blink before it lets you in..previous devices biometric tech could be fooled with a picture of the user. Nice touch. I’d like to see a fingerprint reader as well (I haven’t explored Google Play for that app..I’m almost sure it’s there! However it’s a great device regardless of how you choose to manage your user accounts!

Now, off to the downsides.

In order to use the device efficiently, all users MUST have a Google account. If you don’t want to be part of Sky-Google-Net, you’re out of luck here. Kerri needs to use my account to do anything on it <tangent> She likes it, and likes the rapid response. Still working on the “touch” part of it, which takes practice for any haptic device. Otherwise, she’s able to use her webmail and Facebook account as she needs to…and feeds her Fruit Ninja addiction….and she looks cute doing it!</tangent>

Logging in and out of apps is easy. Look to the lower right hand side for a vertical stack of three blocks. Touch that, and you can log out of your app (be it Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

I’m unsure that it will be a good “work tool”, depending on whether or not your business embraces the Android device…but I can manage my calendar, email, daily surfing, RSS feed reading, and use my meditation app.

I find that YouTube Videos that are HD tend to “stick” a bit. but SD it’s very smooth.
Calendar: works fine n dandy…and I like the alerts screen in the upper left side..you drag it down like an old window curtain, and you can dismiss each one with a wipe…or hit the 3 staggered blocks icon and they all just fly away! A brilliant UI component!

Battery life: great. Use like an alarm clock, it works. Indicators, visual and audio are GREAT. Love the names of the sounds..they’re all stars or star clusters. (nice touch)

Speaking of touch, the haptic tech is a bit more crude than the iPad, but I’ve got big hands, so it’s fine for me. The temperature component of the touch is nice though (cold hands work almost as good as warm ones!)

So, end score….9.5 out of 10. It works, it works well, and it’s light enough to wander around the house. It will pass a drop test of 3 feet, and TED Talks and other audio media, great!

2nd place goes to the Samsung Galaxy Tab…nice, but a wee bit heavier and clunkier than the Nexus 7..but a solid performer all the way.

don’t listen to me, though. Go out and try them yourself. The Nexus is getting better reviews than the iPad Mini, so it might be a cost effective way to ease into the tablet market.

Next up…testing it in an educational setting/manner. Let’s see how it works for kids in schools!

Happy New Year!