Monday, January 30, 2006

Are Wikis Wacky?

Ok...dumb title.

This eSchool News article expresses concern about the need to have our kids up on their "information literacy" skills, particularly in light of the rise of Wikis.

For those of you who don't know, Wikis are like blogs, except that anyone can come to the site and change anything. Sound crazy? Well, it really isn't that bad, in that Wiki enthusiasts tend to them and can reverse an attack or erroneous posting in a jiffy.

The problem is when a section of an on-line encyclopedia, like the ever poprular Wikipedia, is not as readily tended to and the bad info sits on-line for a while. (read above)

What do you think?

Jim :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Computer Classes Spur Student Absenteeism...duh.

In an article that was in the Caton Rep, originally from the LA Times, by Stuart Silverstein...

See it here!

...a "spurt" of absenteeism is being blamed on the fact that some classes are now publishing audio and video content from the lecture. This is an "unintended negative circumstance" of the deployment of this new educational technology.

The funny part is that they are actually surprised by this! If a professor can be easily replaced by an iPod, they probably should be. I don't see a cry for any pedagogical changes in the college classroom that would encourage a student to be present anywhere in the article. All I see is "sour grapes". For example, one lecturer suggests that the best grades are going to the students that attend and sit up front. I'd like to see the data on that. I also don't approve of the insinuation that the kids that are not attending class are hung-over or slackers. I think that they would attend if there was a compelling reason to. They might be doing the right thing by managing their time appropriately for courses that demand it.

Stop blaming the students for not attending class because they are using a system that you are spending oodles of money to deploy.


Jim :-)

PS- Notice that this post is not a debate as to which format is better, it is simply a reaction to their disbelief that the students are not attending classes. That's fodder for a whole other post.

Friday, January 20, 2006

English IT questions

HI All,

Just in case you think that we are unique in our need to question the appropriate use of ed tech in real schools, here is a brief commentary from an English on-line newspaper.

The commentary

Is it wrong to ask questions like this about ed tech? Am I creating a hostile environment for ed tech innovators by pointing out this resource?

Lemme know.

Jim :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blogs, Free Speech, and Schools

Blogs continue to freak people out. It appears that private schools are being more aggressive about controlling blog contact from school and the use of school e-mail addresses with blogs. The inappropriate images and content that many feature are really testing the border-lines of free speech and on-line safety.

Is it really OK to allow a student to post content about their binge drinking on a blog? Is it really OK to allow a student to pose provocatively on a blog and ask for comments from the cyber-world? Am I infringing on his/her rights by even thinking about removing that content? Whaddya' think?

I already placed my nerdy hat in the ring in my earlier on post on "myspace and our kids."

Check this out---> The article

Jim :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Hi All,

This is a powerful site to spend some time on this weekend.

MLK speech page

Jim :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great food for thought

The link

If you haven't seen the Dec '05 Ed Leadership, it is focused on school technology and offer a diverse set of viewpoints on the topic.

Good stuff.

Jim :-)

NCLB and Ed Tech

Hi Again,

I probably should have been aware of this, but I wasn't. Did you know that there are likely to be NCLB testing programs for school technology? This should be a hoot!

On the edTech Insider Tom Hoffmann writes, "How would we test this stuff? You'd either end up with paper tests that are a sham, or expensive online versions. Either way, the emphasis won't fall on the complex, higher level skills we're actually interested in, but will inevitably end up being reductive and rote. You can argue that the tests will be great, but they won't be. And then we'd get a whole crop of expensive software to drill you for the new exams, probably created by the same people who are selling you the tests. "

BruceFulton (a poster on the demi-blog) reminds us that we were asleep at the wheel but telling us, "It’s too late to close that barn door, Tom, NCLB already has a technology literacy requirement (in title IId), and ED already expects that schools will be testing it at some point in the near future. 2006 had been targeted, but science testing starts this year, so perhaps it has been put off. Not surprisingly, ISTE and Microsoft announced in 2004 that they were teaming up to develop the test states will use to assess technology (see their press release at HERE, although to be honest, I haven’t heard much about it lately."

I haven't always been aligned with Tom's thinking, but on this topic he is right on the money.

I'll send an SOS to the world!

Sing along with that last line like the Police would have in the song "Message in a Bottle")

Jim :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

From Black-out Day to Impact Month

It is time for another Technology Black-out Day, but this year it has been changed to Technology Impact in Education Month.

This initiative focuses kids, and stakeholders, on the impact that ed tech is currently having on their lives. It offers interesting lesson plans on the site.

The only aspect of the initiative that concerns me is the culminating event of contacting their representatives in congress. Not that I think that this is a bad lesson in political activism, or that most kids will find fault with the way ed tech is being deployed on their schools, but it is a bit forced on the kids. Stop groaning. All I'm saying is, if some kid decides to not write to their congressnman, I hope they aren't penalized in some way.

By all means, use the resources here. Have the kids think about the implications of technology, positive and negative, on their lives. are going to dig this site about technology in the year 1900. I actually used the lessons on this site with a group of 6th graders on a day that our school lost power! (It was in my sub-plan folder.)

Jim :-)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Globalization 3.0 and ed tech

In the THE Journal, Geoffrey Fletcher, editor at large of THE Journal posed a couple of questions of the ed tech community relating to the book
The World is Flat
. Here are my thoughts on two of them.

Q1 -- How do we deal with 'Globilization 3.0'?

Globalization 3.0 is a concept that suggests that, due to the current state of fiber optic connectivity and the wide availability of powerful hardware and software tools, individuals are now able to collaborate and compete globally.

We simply have to "deal with it." It's here. We can no longer deny the fact that a huge talent pool of highly educated and sorted young people can do the back office (and also highly specialized) work of most Fortune 500 companies for pennies on the dollar. We need to focus on what we do best, which is, innovating. (We also need to insist that our legislators demand that our innovations stop being blatantly stolen by some of these same countries.)

So maybe a better question is, "How do we produce a generation of innovators?" Let's start by insisting on an exciting, rigorous, and "mile deep" science and math curricula. Let's have it be appropriately funded and let's assess it appropriately and regularly. The cool part is that we already know how to do this. No need for a presidential panel or pre-conference session. Let's just do what the NCTM and NSTA have been telling us to do. That wasn't hard, was it? (Don't get me wrong, I know that change is always violent.)

Also, if "the world is flat" we are going to have to make sure that the best and brightest in our country get special attention in order to ensure that our human resources are maximally utilized. Also, let's identify, challenge and support those students that show an unusual gift for innovation. This is what India has done by creating their brutally selective IIT academies. This isn't a "warm and fuzzy" suggestion, but it ensures that gifted students (however that is appropriately defined...hopefully not by zip code) are given a chance to reach their full potential. After all, it is the best and brightest Indian students that are taking our jobs. I wonder how an average child from India compares to an average American child? Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that?
Does anyone remember the 1989 SCANS report? It's good reading.

Q2- What role does technology play as a part of the solution?

Once you have defined a quality educational experience that creates deep and innovative thinking, simply apply technology to it. For example, if collecting, drawing meaning from data is important, use technolgies related to this topic. Data loggers, lego robotics, data bases, spreadsheets and web browsers could be suited to the task. Let's not apply them, though, unless they encourage deep thinking. Producing another generation of "Powerpointlessness" (Jamie McKenszie's term) will not help! Not every deep and thoughful science or mathematical experience may require an educational technology but there are many times when it can help to enhance the lesson by engaging and empowering the student.

Although, this wasn't asked, I think another factor that gives the 2nd and 3rd world students an advantage is their desire. They want to better their lives and they know that the key to doing it is education. They get it. This is exactly the same ethic that waves of immigrants in our own country have embodied. Consider this. When a young worker gets a job at a call center (a job that would be relatively undesireable to many top U.S. sytudents) it could result in health care benefits for their entire family! That's a life changing incentive. I look at my own son (granted, a decent student) with his PSP, iPod, and the many other adornments of an upper middle class American teen life and I wonder, "Will be able to muster the "ganas" it will take to make it in a 'Globalization 3.0' world?"

What do you think?

Splog Attacks?

Hi All,

This was a new one on me so I thought I would share it with you.

Splog Attacks

UCONN's Dr. Gil Dyrli does a great job of explainaing the issue. A blog attracts comments (well...not mine, but you get the point.) These comments can include links to products that are related to it, or not. Some fake sites are poser blogs. Which are really advertisers in blog clothing.

If this bugs you...<Fight Splog Now!

Peace out.

Jim :-)

Friday, January 06, 2006

More lap top program reactions

From eSchool News...

State laptop plan prompts mixed reaction
Some South Dakota educators say they're not interested in the governor's laptop computer proposal

The Link

It's obvious that getting lap tops into the hands of high schoolers, particularly those who would normally have access to them, is probably a good thing.

But, as usual, the devil is in the details. Some schools employees are complaining about the percentage of the costs that the district are going go to have to kick in for this program and would like the money added to the state aid formula.

There also appears to be no money set aside for training, software and maintenance??


Jim :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Myspace and our kids

Hi All,

This post is intended to be a barometer reading. Is anyone out there dealing with the use of as an issue in your school or household?

For those of you who don't know what I am talking about go here.

While my 8th grade son doesn't currently have a myspace page, most of his friends do. It's just a matter of time. I have been having an open conversation with him about how I feel about internet safety and what I consider "risky" on-line behavior. I also am letting him know that there is nothing wrong with blogging but that there are some things he needs to keep in mind. Although the look on his face says, "Whateverrr", I am sure that we understand each other on this.

This medium has great potential for good and I am sure that most kids are using it appropriately. I am just a bit concerned about how much information some of them are willing to post about themselves and their friends. I am also concerned about the images that kids are using to portray themselves on-line. It all feels a tad unsafe.

Here is a good blog on the topic. The post is part of a series on the topic.

I know...I know...I should get over it. Right? No? Let me know what you have experienced.

Jim :-)