James

Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

How do we prepare kids for all of this?

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2007 at 10:05 pm

According to a recent report in the UK, YouTube is being accused of not enforcing its acceptable use policy with humiliating and inappropriate video content remaining accessible, including video clips that serve to bully and humiliate students and teachers. The report concludes that YouTube has joined a governmental anti-bullying task force. It is too bad that with almost every new and exciting tool that comes out, there are those who seek to use it for evil. Human nature. Even the OLPC laptops deployed in Nigeria to bring illumination and empowerment to the children there are being used by some to look at porn. Human nature. Now filters are having to be put on all of them and successive builds of the XO laptop. With all of the wonderful potential with all of these web-based tools how do we really prepare a generation of children to use them in a positive manner. How do we teach them to make right choices with so many seductive, destructive options at only a click away… and a private click at that? Internet predators aside for a moment, it is the private nature of such personal behavior that makes evil so enticing, I think, especially for those who would never engage in such types of behavior publicly. I think more discussion needs to be placed on these types of issues within the educational technology community. My fear is that a whole new generation is arising, both empowered by information and deceived by an increasing flow of destructive information. How to we tackle this?

The Cart Before the Cooperative Learning Horse?

In Change, Learning on July 30, 2007 at 1:52 am

My 8 yr. old son has his 9 yr. old cousin visiting for a few weeks. Yesterday that sat down together to play Lego StarWars on our computer. My son has enjoyed playing the game over the past year, but his interest has steadily decreased as he was not able to progress to successive levels. I think his increased frustration led to decreased motivation. Sound familiar? Does this happen in the classroom? Anyway, he and his cousin sat down to play it together – 4 hands on the keyboard, each controlling a different character. Well,… Read the rest of this entry »

The Cart Before the Cooperative Learning Horse?

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2007 at 9:52 pm

My 8 yr. old son has his 9 yr. old cousin visiting for a few weeks. Yesterday that sat down together to play Lego StarWars on our computer. My son has enjoyed playing the game over the past year, but his interest has steadily decreased as he was not able to progress to successive levels. I think his increased frustration led to decreased motivation. Sound familiar? Does this happen in the classroom? Anyway, he and his cousin sat down to play it together – 4 hands on the keyboard, each controlling a different character. Well,… Read the rest of this entry »

Uploading images and embedding video is easy

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2007 at 12:18 am

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And a video…

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/AY9qcDCFeVI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Safari 3.0 Beta

In Tech on July 27, 2007 at 8:03 pm

I just downloaded and installed the latest (next) version of Safari that is to be released with the next version of OS X. It is in beta right now, but is quite functional. It is also available for Windows systems for the first time now. There are few things about it that I really like. For example, if you use tabbed browsing, you can drag a tab out of the browser window and that page will open in a new window. Also, it has a great word search feature. When invoked (cmd+f), a small search window opens at the top of the page. When a word is searched for, the entire page is darkened, with only the searched term highlighted for the entire page. Then, you can look at each instance as it is highlighted in yellow. For me, this is a very useful feature that they built in. Also, a number of java features that used to send me scrambling to Firefox now are functional (like using the visual text editing tools here in WordPress). But, a few functions like inserting hyperlinks suddenly did not work. I have read that the purported speed increases are not quite as stellar as Apple is claiming, but it works just fine for me so far.

One thing to be aware of – when you download and install it, it installs over your current version of Safari. Not to worry, as all your bookmarks and other settings seem to remain intact.

Safari 3.0 Beta

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2007 at 4:03 pm

I just downloaded and installed the latest (next) version of Safari that is to be released with the next version of OS X. It is in beta right now, but is quite functional. It is also available for Windows systems for the first time now. There are few things about it that I really like. For example, if you use tabbed browsing, you can drag a tab out of the browser window and that page will open in a new window. Also, it has a great word search feature. When invoked (cmd+f), a small search window opens at the top of the page. When a word is searched for, the entire page is darkened, with only the searched term highlighted for the entire page. Then, you can look at each instance as it is highlighted in yellow. For me, this is a very useful feature that they built in. Also, a number of java features that used to send me scrambling to Firefox now are functional (like using the visual text editing tools here in WordPress). But, a few functions like inserting hyperlinks suddenly did not work. I have read that the purported speed increases are not quite as stellar as Apple is claiming, but it works just fine for me so far.

One thing to be aware of – when you download and install it, it installs over your current version of Safari. Not to worry, as all your bookmarks and other settings seem to remain intact.

Ripples

In Blogging, Change on July 27, 2007 at 12:48 am

Well, as I wrote about in my first entry, I was not sure if I would prioritize my time enough to be a faithful blogger… at least a contributor. I have been a reader/lurker for a long time now. I have learned a great deal from reading other blogs, namely Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed, Ewen McIntosh’s edu.blogs, Tim Lauer’s Education/Technology, Scott Mcleod’s Dangerously Irrelevant, Steve Dembo’s teach42, just to name a few. There are so many more and as many folks have written, it is impossible to read and keep up with them all. And I like what Steve Dembo recently wrote about being more than a reader and even contributor to the blogosphere – rather an intellectual community whose joint contributions lead to action being taken and change taking place. I have had many impressions at times that the educational blogging community has simply digitized griping and complaining. Don’t get me wrong – this is not my overall impression at all. I just get annoyed when I read blogs that come across as digital teachers’ lounges. In the same way that these teachers’ complaints lead to nothing changed and improved, so do these types of blog entries lend themselves to the same type of discourse. However, here I am complaining 🙂  On that epiphany, I close this entry, ashamed of myself.

Ripples

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Well, as I wrote about in my first entry, I was not sure if I would prioritize my time enough to be a faithful blogger… at least a contributor. I have been a reader/lurker for a long time now. I have learned a great deal from reading other blogs, namely Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed, Ewen McIntosh’s edu.blogs, Tim Lauer’s Education/Technology, Scott Mcleod’s Dangerously Irrelevant, Steve Dembo’s teach42, just to name a few. There are so many more and as many folks have written, it is impossible to read and keep up with them all. And I like what Steve Dembo recently wrote about being more than a reader and even contributor to the blogosphere – rather an intellectual community whose joint contributions lead to action being taken and change taking place. I have had many impressions at times that the educational blogging community has simply digitized griping and complaining. Don’t get me wrong – this is not my overall impression at all. I just get annoyed when I read blogs that come across as digital teachers’ lounges. In the same way that these teachers’ complaints lead to nothing changed and improved, so do these types of blog entries lend themselves to the same type of discourse. However, here I am complaining 🙂  On that epiphany, I close this entry, ashamed of myself.

Enough With the Silly Pencil Argument

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2007 at 8:57 pm

pencil.jpgOkay, I understand the basic premise of the pencil argument (and here). But, come on now… this is far from an equal analogy! Here is what Doug Johnson had to say about the potential risks that pencils bring into the classroom in the February 2006 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology. It was referenced in Wesley Freyer’s latest post over on his Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog.:

1. A student might use a pencil to poke out the eye of another student.
2. A student might write a dirty word or, worse yet, a threatening note to another student, with a pencil.
3. One student might have a mechanical pencil, making those with wooden ones feel bad.
4. The pencil might get stolen.
5. Pencils break and need repairing all the time.
6. Kids who have pencils might doodle instead of working on their assignments or listening to the teacher.

Now, again, I understand the rationale behind this argument, but let’s compare:

1. Only psychopathic students would gouge out another’s eye… with anything. However, teachers have been known to be violent pencil wielders. Imagine what they could be capable of with an iPod in their hands!

2. A written insult or profanity is seen only by the one who holds the written note. We all fully understand the far-reaching implications of digital bullying!

3. One simply cannot compare pencil-envy with things of high value that create classes of students and do create envy (high-fashion clothing, shoes, and yes… electronics!)

4. In fact, pencils do get stolen all the time. I have rarely seen a student fall to pieces over it. However, if it were a $250 pencil, I could see why that could happen.

5. Pencils break. So you sharpen them again. The “repair” is done in seconds. Electronics break and are repaired with greater cost, time, and learning interruption/disruption.

6. I would much rather have a student doodle with his or her pencil than be consumed with the vast array of on-line distraction. And, most other classmates don’t usually get distracted by one student’s doodling. Not so with a laptop or other electronic device.

So, if we are to present a compelling rationale for issues surrounding freedom to learn and teaching/learning innovation, we at least need to bring valid and sound arguments to the table. To do otherwise only serves to make light of real and pressing concerns of many stakeholders. If a pencil is the equivalent of any other learning device, then I say, let’s stick with the pencils. They are cheaper, easily replaceable, quite reliable, disposable, efficient, highly portable, facilitate collaboration and sharing of information, they have excellent battery life – heck, they don’t even have lead in them anymore, making them environmentally friendly to boot!

But, if there is a significant difference here (and I would agree that there is), then we had better not be making such silly comparisons. Folks might just want to settle for the pencil, then.

Note:
Freyer’s blog post is otherwise right on the mark.

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In Uncategorized on July 25, 2007 at 8:47 pm