I haven’t really posted because there isn’t much going on. Lots of school systems are “looking” at integration of tech. Places like Fractus Learning are still promoting the idea of “flipped classrooms” which is a partial success.

The buzz on lifehacker.org is still “get the Nexus 7”..which I may..provided I can get my daughter into it. Her iPod Touch is cracked (again, dammit!) and my 2nd generation version is beginning to die. The current discussion is “up her phone to a HTC Rhyme  – Android device with Gingerbread OS….and the Nexus 7  – Android device with Jellybean OS ..OR

Just buy 2 new iPod Touch devices – 16 GB each and skip the tablet.
Our computers are beginning to mature, so maybe save the money and hit the store after the holidays for the sales.

Well, techies….since edTech is slow this week, weigh in on this. What do you, the readers, suggest?


Hi gang! Windows 8 Release trumped by Hurricane (or SuperStorm) Sandy. I have no power at home, and the University is in “stable crisis” mode. I promise to post when power is restored to the ‘Shack!

And yes, school is closed too. Again. Who knows if it will be open tomorrow…or when we will get power. We have very few downed lines, etc. AND there is a substation in our town…”hizzoner the Mayor” is workign on it.

Soon as i can!

Go back and look at my daughter-child’s blazing analysis of Windows 8 in some of my earlier posts.

Now watch THIS:

Does it look familiar? It should. A 12 year old told us all of this a few months ago.

I love the “I’m a systems administrator and we aren’t going to this soon.” bit. Priceless.

Microsoft, we love you (and, sometimes, love to hate you)..you jerked us around with Windows ME to fund the building of XP. Please don’t do that again. It’s not funny.

On the run…spreadsheet..database…spreadsheet. Just got a copy of this..will read it tonight. Suggest you do the same!

Edutopia.org is a great site. If you’re not looking at it, you should.


Back to tables and recordsets for me. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! Been late with my posts, but this one is kinda good. It’s from Alaska..which tends to be progressive on some things, and oftentimes..not.


Okay, so you read/listened. Nauseated? Happy? Confused? I don’t really care, so long as you have an emotion about it.

My favorite part:

“This is not just the way the Sitka School District is going. This is the way the state of Alaska is going. This is going to go before the legislature and the governor on how we’re going to prepare our kids with technology,” she said. “It’s not my world. I’m not comfortable with it, let alone understand a lot of it. But it is our kids world, and the way they learn. I think it’s just the way we’re going, whether we’re comfortable with it or not.”

Bold lettering – my emphasis.

Now..first, before anything..I’m a SMARTBoard guy over the Promethean ones. It’s more about control/repair and ROI. Both are good tech, I just have an individual preference. Daughter-child’s school system has both. Played with both. Troubleshoot issues on both. I think SMART has a clearer advantage. <rant over>

Back to topic: Right. And wrong. YOU may not understand the tech (mom/dad/teacher/admin) but there is no doubt the kids get it. This is going to be in their working world, most likely…and if not, probably in the home. This isn’t some kind of “2012 transhuman rush to tech”..this is what’s going on, day to day. This is reality. Our kids need to learn tech hand in hand with Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Tech should SUPPORT those endeavors, not detract or subsume them.

And yes, before you grunt about it..yes, yes, it helps with music and art and all that stuff. Here in NJ they work on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum plan. These (save math) are offshoots of the “big three” subjects and STEM is so steeped in technology usage and real-life applications that if you are challenged with a computer…you’re screwed. You kid and you are both screwed.

Adults: if you don’t get “IT”, get educated. Take a class. Talk to others. Try it out at a library. Come to someone like me and hire me to teach you!
<painful shameless plug>

Point is, you do yourself and your children a disservice in your ignorance. You need to step up or step out of the way. The computer and it’s applications has a power and a beauty, and is not without its dangers and pitfalls. The story above showed the boards were cheaper than a 1:1 laptop/student ratio. So long as the teacher TEACHES and doesn’t use the projector to show DVDs all day, the power of the small group with an engaged qualified instructor is a treasure without measure.

Final rant ‘n rave:

“I know how difficult it can be. I’m a single mother, and I work, and it can be challenging sometimes to be able to be all that you need to be for your kids,” Robinson said. “But it has to be a priority, no matter how hard it is.”

Ms. Robinson, please. Shut up. I’m a single dad, and have raised my daughter on my own since she was 4 1/2 minutes old. Yes, single parenthood is hard. Being there for her education isn’t. It’s crucial, it’s critical, and it’s frustrating. And, it’s fun and wonderful. Education begins at home (she and I agree) ..if we’re talking about knowledge, it’s always a priority. I don’t care if you fish on an ice floe for seals and whales…your education serves you better than anything else beyond, well, being a parent. It’s not a “challenge to be all that you need to be for your kids”…it’s an honor and a privilege. And it’s damn good every day!I’m honored and humbled. It makes her a great person and makes ME a better person.

<end of rant>

Okay, a good article even if a bit “fluffy”..


A few main things that make me hit my head on the table.

“When students use an iPad, they use it recreationally and socially, but teachers use iPads for their educational and professional use. We wanted both sides to use it in all worlds. Instead of teachers being afraid to ask for help, we now have students helping teachers be successful in the classroom,” he said.”

Yup. I’ve never met a teacher that said “Hey, Jimmy, I don’t know how to use my iPad, can you show me”.

Majority of educators who are “tech-dumb” just will sit it on the pile of stuff on the radiator box behind their desk and forget about it. Sad but true.

“Naturally, cost was identified as the primary limiting factor, more than learning to use the new tools or any shortcomings in the tools themselves. And not surprisingly, teachers who taught in high-income areas found the administration, board and parents more supportive of technology.”

Flat out translation: We’ll support it so long as we don’t have to pay for it. God forbid we have a “sea change” and try to partner with Apple or get a Kickstarter grant (which I’m still smarting over because they turned my idea to give kids at my daughter’s school iPads or Fire tablets and i wanted to capture metrics to prove greater retention and cost savings!)

Sorry guys, Id rather see he purchase of Kindles and electronic science books over the bullshit of buying 300 out of date texts that you pay to buy, pay to ship to you, make the parents pay when they are used, then pay to dispose of  in 7 years. Yeah, that seems like the best way to educate a kid…costs more, out of date, incorrect, penalized for frequent use. Capital!
Final point:

“Frank Noschese, a science teacher at John Jay High School in New York, described the weakness of using technology as just another way to make students memorize and regurgitate information.

“I’m not against technology in the classroom, I’m against using technology as away to dispense information to students, for them to consume it and then spit back out,” he told NBC News in an earlier interview.

“I want to see students using technology to create knowledge for themselves. It’s not technology versus not technology, it’s about content delivery via lecture versus content delivery via exploration.”

I kinda like Frank. He’s touching on what my friends at Fractus Learning, Alan November, and The Chalk Face have been saying for a while. Tech is a tool, not a replacement for a teacher. Teachers need to EDUCATE, not always FACILITATE. Use the Kindle to replace the book, good cost-effective solution to a long term problem. use the Kindle to give the kid meaningless lists to memorize and spit back for an “A”, that’s as stupid as giving them a paper list. Now true, there is an amount of “bulk knowledge” that every kid needs to learn, but it cannot be an end-point or a more “high tech” way to “teach to the test” (and please, I was a science major…let me tell you about brute memorization!)

Teachers and administrators, you’re not there to ignore or play with the cool toys, you need to use them to enhance the educational process.

In other words, i need to get on the ball and find other ways to get someone/something to get some investment in the tech in my kid’s school ASAP. It needs wireless. It needs repeaters..it needs tablets..and it needs someone who can trick out the tech to get it to run. We got great tech people there, for sure. Now we need to push the whole school system so far ahead that the other ones in the county look to our school as the “gold standard” for responsible tech use in elementary and middle education.

Rant over. I am starting to hear the bells of a new school year starting, so I always get like that.




Now back to the original article!

Look what just came through my Google Alerts!


I love this quote!

“The availability and affordability of e-books for children and young adults have increased rapidly, so teachers and students have endless options for both fiction and nonfiction texts,” she said. “E-books are generally less expensive than print copies of the same book, and they don’t wear out as quickly as a print copy. Another advantage is the instant access. Generally, an e-book can be downloaded in a matter of minutes.”

Perhaps the greatest advantage of e-books, Larson said, is the ability to differentiate the reading experience. The devices allow the reader to customize the reading experience by adjusting the font size and page layout, or through the use of tools and features like a built-in dictionary, highlighter, digital notes or text-to-speech capabilities.

“This means all students — even those who struggle or have specific learning needs — can benefit from digital reading,” Larson said. “As teachers are quickly realizing the possibilities of supporting students’ reading comprehension and motivation, this technology is definitely becoming more popular in all grade levels.”

YAY! I’ve been pushing this at my daughter’s school. I even tried to get a Kickstarter grant for it (they turned it down, grumble.) The idea was to show that e-readers may assist in retention and lower the total cost per student because a digital download of an e-book (with N number of licenses) would be significantly cheaper than 300 printed copies. And….can be updated yearly at a vastly lower cost.

I think the biggest challenge now is the “start up cost”. The money to buy the N number of readers may not be there. The books, well, that has to be there…books get replaced on rotation. It may also not be a great idea to lay the burden of the e-reader cost on the parent (although a $100 Kindle may or may not break us…but for those who are challenged, we could have the education foundation start a small “kitty” to help our students in need)

But before I go on, read the article. Interesting stuff to consider, given how many books a single e-reader can hold.

It might even lighter their backpacks!

<now to get the homework digitally sent back to the teacher…the other half of the “go green” initiative!>

Hi gang! Just read this very nice blog from Shaun Johnson. I’ll wait while you read it!


Got it? Good.

He’s wrong.

Let’s start with this quote:

“It seems that certain proponents of #edtech are pushing technology in order to completely “teacher-proof” the classroom. That is, altogether remove teacher judgment and autonomy from the equation. Let us not pretend that this is something new; we’ve seen this before with “programmed instruction.” Sure, the technologies are more sophisticated, but the intentions are similar.”

Totally wrong. The intention I am seeing is that the #edtech people are trying to incorporate the technology to reach a wider number of students through their own teaching styles. This is a pushback from “teaching to the middle”, and an obvious (and better way, I think) to reach a greater number of students to teach them..while the teachers do with less time, resources, and sadly, sometimes support from parents..and yet trying to keep the students educated and the test scores high..or else THEY get the blame..even though all parties failed the student, not just the teacher.

Next swing at bat:

“Take “flipping” the classroom, for example. There is no substantial body of evidence indicating that this concept is remotely effective. Yet, the priests of #edtech see this as the perfect solution: eliminate the need for educators to possess sophisticated content knowledge and disallow them any control over how it is presented. Deliver content through a virtual warehouse of videos, easily produced, and cheaply disseminated. The professional educator then assumes the role of “facilitator.” Take content or curriculum developer and pedagogue out of their skillset.”

Okay, I agree. There is no quantifiable or longitudinal study to prove a flipped classroom works. All the reports are case-based. Now here’s where I disagree: Using technology doesn’t eliminate the need for the teacher to have high content knowledge. IT ENHANCES IT AND MAKES IT CRITICAL! NOW we have the student taking more data in per class session and (I hope) that they will ask more questions and seek more information. Who better to guide them? The teacher. A teacher can only be a “facilitator” when the students are working together in a group.

Now I will say that a teacher who uses videos or tech in lieu of teaching isn’t a teacher; they are a projectionist at the theater. To me, the question isn’t whether they use the technology..it’s whether they use it appropriately. A steady diet of anything will make you sick. The wisdom of knowing when to assign a Khan Academy video or to use the websites that come with the textbooks today is a valuable skill. Curriculum Design is a scaffold (oh boy, here he goes)…or more like Lego blocks. You need THE RIGHT ones to build the cool stuff. Taking that out of the teacher’s hands is drastically unwise. Just like students have a learning style but have to stay within some guidelines, the teacher’s curriculum does too.

Now, having said that:

“The #edtech component makes this all cheap and efficient: everyone takes the assessments on a computer and the precious is collected, evaluated, and analyzed from a distance. Take assessment expertise and evaluation out of the teacher skillset.”

Okay, he’s right on this one. When we take assessment out of the teachers hands and lock it down to bits and bytes, it makes it less human. And we ARE teaching people here, regardless of their age. We do need the data, true. And we need the teacher’s assessment too. When the data and the teacher’s opinion clash, then we know we have an issue to address. Teaching is a very “human” skill. Leaving total evaluation to a machine and a scorecard shows we miss something (CAT tests in the ’70’s ring a bell, kiddies?)

Here is where else he’s right:

“What’s left? Not a whole lot. If we continue eliminating the carefully crafted skills that make education and teaching complicated professions, putting certain skills into the electronic hands of computers and software, then all classroom teachers simply become interchangeable parts in the educational process. The training and expertise required of educators becomes less sophisticated, cheaper, and faster. The benefits of a well-trained and adequately compensated workforce withers away in favor of underpaid, but ultimately cheaper, placeholders whose youthful energies can be exploited for a year or two before a fresh crop arrives on scene. Rinse and repeat.”

And THIS has been happening before we got computers! We all know of the teacher who busts their ass for two years, getting high praise from students and parents. The same person who “volunteers” for after school club stuff for the kids, dance chaperones, directs the plays, etc. ad nauseam. And for their efforts….End of year 3, bye bye.

Why? Because if we give you the job, you’ll cost us too much. So they take the teacher and move them along to the detriment of the students and school, and “rinse and repeat”.

Disgusting and pathetic. Just as bad to leave a lazy or poor teacher in their seat because “they have been here for ten years”. Sorry. You bring your A game every day, every class, every year. Teachers are like a lot of other professions where they can’t “pay their dues”. Every year, it starts over with a new crop of kidlets.

It is sad to see an economic driver that hurts people. So what’s the response? More videos, more ANYTHING to push the “test scores” up to show that this teacher is valuable. So instead of teaching kids, you are trying to beat the teacher next to you. That’s sad, and kind of stupid.

Tools and toys and techniques are supposed to enhance the learning process and teaching process, not replace it. Anyone who thinks tech can replace teaching by driving up scores hasn’t seen a kid rip apart an XBOX because it got the red ring of death. If the tech don’t work (or the teacher doesn’t understand it, the kids will ignore you. Completely.

Miyamoto Mushashi was the greatest swordsman in all of Japan. I say “look him up” if you aren’t familiar. He had a nice quote and wrote a killer book on strategy and tactics called The Book of Five Rings.  There is much talk about Japanese brush art in the book. They talk about the “pen and sword in accord.

“The Japanese Shodo (brush art) exemplifies the Japanese concept of “Bun Bu Ichi” or the Pen and Sword in Accord,  which means that one must balance both physical training with scholarly pursuits to be well refined.”

With due respect Shaun, I’d like to offer a “tech school Ichi” or “tech and teacher in accord”. Like anything else great, it is the balance of the Educator and the iPad that will make our kids smarter. Total teaching without tech is as damaging as too much tech.

The whole, hire, work and let them go approach needs to go out the door as well. We cannot cultivate a great crop of educators by putting them on a revolving door. #edtech should be a tool to help the teacher, not replace their judgement.

I hope Shaun agrees.

(BTW, Shaun can be followed at www.twitter.com/thechalkface)

Took a week off…..we went school clothes shopping already…..let’s not discuss!

Back to topic: Education and digital education! This time, you’re the student!

Here’s something from howtogeek.com on how to get free resources, certificates, etc. Learn more stuff, get credits and certs for your learning!  http://people.uis.edu/rschr1/et/?p=4816
I’m also a fan of w3schools.com. and the wonderful codeacademy.com but as I wander through SQL land, I need the book.

Summertime is a great time to learn some new skills. Doesn’t matter whether it’s how to slide like a pro over a Crestron or AMX unit or doing SQL joins! It’s a challenge to stay ahead of our students, technically. They are spending time on YouTube….you need to spend time and get cracking on Google Drive and Google Apps, Dropbox, iCloud and other storage/use medium.

One teacher told me (under penalty of death if I tell anyone else) that they do the majority of their documentum that isn’t student identified via Google Docs and Google Drive. Why? “We only have Office XP. My home computer uses Office 2010. Otherwise, it’s just faster to use..Our computers are SOOOO slow!”

Further discussions about a terminal idea with my daughter child continue. I’m crawling around an idea concerning each grade level getting a MyBook Live Duo (check it! http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=620) and putting access controls on the drive. Now it’s compatible with Dropbox, and can be accessed via mobile. That way, you get external storage AND some security. It frees up the shared drives for the administration and the educator can move things from the WD drive and back to the server. Now, the hard part…..getting the kids to somehow be able to UPLOAD to the drive. Now THAT would be the “cool n groovy”. Teacher could put links to Khan Academy and the textbook in the “digital shared space” and make it “read only”. A refreshing solution to the absolute HORROR of the websites/CMS that I see the schools doing.

I would be willing FOR FREE to redesign my daughter’s school site. OMG, It would be CSS heaven and a color coded, minimalistic approach, setting the tone for “we are serious about education”, because they are..

<you caught me monologing, didn’t you….I always do that!>

Get cracking and learn something..even if how to clean out the filters in the projector and check the focus and keystoning!

Sorry guys and gals! Been a bit busy this week or two, trying to get State Reports out on time (paper paper paper!) …but my Google Alerts keep coming (awesome service..see Google.com/alerts

So, before I dive back into the red tape sea, here’s two links I culled out as “gotta read!”




Take a look and let me know what you think!