Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Xmas Ed Tech Rant from Digital Divide Blog

Bonnie Bracey of the Digital Divide Network tells Santa off in this blog posting. He apparently was a real scrooge to the ed tech world!

The Link

Some interesting excerpts from the post...

- The Congress, which has the sleigh that contains our presents seems to be missing a lot of goodies this year. We took $59M hit in new federal budget. Some of us are reeling at the loss.

- Santa, this is what we heard. The massive, $602 billion spending package--which includes funding for labor, health, and education initiatives--slashes funding for several Ed-tech related programs, including $221 million less for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) state block-grant program, the primary source of federal funding for educational technology. The measure passed in the House of Representatives one week earlier and now heads to President Bush for his signature.

One thing I am going to do is walk into a local school and ask several random teachers if they know what the following acronyms stand for...ENC, EETT, or PT3. My bet is that they won't. (I am not sure what that means...so make up your own mind on that one.) The only acronyms that matter are NCLB and AYP.

jim :-)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Educational value of toddler tech toys?

Was this investigation even necessary?

An article in the Mercury news reported that the Kaiser Family Foundation on interactive media discovered that many video games, software titles and DVDs have not been proven to increase either the IQ or cognitive abilities of kids. Really? You mean one on one parent time is better that a piece of software? Astounding.

The article

The Report

With absolutely no knowledge of developmental and evolutionary biology, or cognitive science, I could have come to this conclusion relatively quickly. (I am sure you could have also. I am not particularly intuitive.) It is really interesting how often this has to be re-discovered over the years.

I thought that the most interesting part of the article was a quote from Marsha Grimsley of the Brainy Baby Company (This not a Saturday Night Live skit...that is the actual name of a company.) She is quoted as saying, "Parents must be finding something beneficial or there wouldn't be such demand for this new category of products."

Marsha must be completely unfamiliar with the lemming-like behavior of suburban parents when it comes to the potential of their little darlings! I even purchased one of those black and white bulls eyes for my sons crib in an attempt to raise his SAT scores as an infant. I didn't seek a study that proved that it worked. All I knew is that I started seeing them on changing tables around town and felt My son was falling behind! (I also owned a pet-rock once...but I digress.) I'm sorry to say that many digital purchases for the three and under set might occur in this way. It is not necessarily a confirmation of the quality of the products.

Give the kid a few years before you digitize them. Their nervous system will thank you! :-)

Ho Ho Ho

Jim :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Podcasting in K-12 Schools...uh huh.

In an article on Ed Week 12/7/05 , it suggests that podcasting is coming to a school near you! It supports podcasts as being able to help kids improve their vocabulary, writing, editing, public speaking and presentation skills. I can see that. If a super-organized teacher is having students research and write a script, or prepare interview questions, and record them on thrir iPods I can certainly expect it to lead to high levels of motivation and improved skills. It is also cool because you can send the hyperlink of your podcast to people you care about and they can enjoy your work also. Cool. I am all about excited students engaging in constructivist style lessons who are getting into the Csikszentmihalyi "flow" of things. Really. I am.

Here are a couple of rubs. Have you ever actually tried to produce a podcast? Also, have you ever tried to upload large amounts of content to a school web site via a computer on your school network? You real teachers out there see where I'm going. 1) This is going to involve a lot more than a dedicated teacher and excited group of kids. It will require unprecedented access to the school network. (at least relative to the districts I am familiar with) 2) It is also going to require lots of time that is not typically available to egg carton scheduled schools. The past time I produced a podcast (which for those of you who continue to think I am a luddite because i like FULL and honest conversations about using technology in aschools...I actually did) it took MANY steps to produce. First you have to have something to say that matters, next you record your .WAV file onto your iTalk which is attached to your iPod, then you set your iTunes software properly (44 KHz/16 Bit) in order to appropriately download the feed to your computer, I then had to send it out to Garage Band in order to get it into an MP3 format before it could actually be used as a podcast. This was not easy and I predict it will be EONS until real teachers use this form of publishing in its current form. <>

Let me end by saying that I think podcasting is cool. I intend to get involved in it. I subscribe to several and particularly like the work of David Warlick in this area. The point of this post is (which I expected the point of the whole "edtechnot thing" to be) is that it aint' gonna be easy for a while and you need to consider the ups and downs of this ed tech. Don't let Uber-early-adopters make you feel bad on this one. When it gets easier though.....I say go for it, while keeping in mind all of the privacy issues associated with posting kids thoughts and ideas on the Web.

Jim :-)