Tag Archives: K-12

Are Netbooks Ready For Primetime?

The right answer is yes, no and maybe. It all depends on your point of view.

End User: If you need a nice small travel laptop for work or learning that runs mainly web based applications, your answer might be a resounding YES! Many of the netbooks available today have plenty of ‘horse power’ to run a few key applications and perform well when running web 2.0 applications. I have been ‘road testing’ one of the Lenovo IdeaPads. I loaded it up with a few apps including open office, skype, the first class client, MSN, iTunes, Adobe Reader and Smart Ideas, a graphic organizer. Other than these apps, everything else is web based. Other than the quirkiness of the keyboard <SHIFT> key and <ENTER> layout (or my slow adaptability to a new layout) and the screen being a little small as far as real estate goes for some applications, the IdeaPad performed well and behaved in a stable manner.

Point to ponder: Would you give up your desktop or full sized laptop for a netbook?  Personally, I would not be ready to make this type of a switch at this point in time. At least for the type of work I do, there are too many times where have a full screen to facilitate multi window operation of some sort, more serious document editing or something more intensive such as audio and/or video editing. I would find the small screen and extending timeframes working with tight key arrangement on the keyboard less than idea. Perfect for travel, but I am keeping another computer or full size laptop.

Enterprise needs: I am changing hats now. Let’s look at this from the IT Management viewpoint. In the setting of our school board, interest in netbooks (or the promise of the Mac tablet) is on the rise. From a planning point of view, the price point is certainly positioned to allow you the opportunity to buy more equipment for the same level of funding. On the assumption you could match the application suite and access to the equipment to maximize the use, netbooks look pretty attractive. But, before you rush away to buy a large number of netbooks, there is another side to consider.

Many current netbooks ship with Windows XP Home with no supported upgrade or conversion path to Windows XP Pro. The XP Home version limits you to local machine and workgroup access.  Using the netbook in a network domain environment with group policies and defined security permissions is not an option. In addition, many enterprise level tools for imaging, patching, software updating and application package distribution rely on a domain based structure to properly manage the computers.  This is where I think we are stuck yet. If you can manage the netbooks, at least easily, then this is a double edged sword. The price point and web usage is there, but you are limited in maintaining and supporting the machines. You can’t say you don’t need to support the machines – just wait until you have a few messed up and now some class in not functioning properly. They staff and students will want support to fix the computers or restore them to a usable state.

Things look more promising with Windows 7 on the horizon. Then again, how many large organizations are ready to roll with a Windows 7 deployment backed up with an organization wide support model?

My View: At least at this point in time, I stand by my yes, no and maybe answer. I do believe netbooks are here to stay, and will be valuable learning tools. It is just a little to early in the game. I will be interested to see how things unfold over the next few months because I think we are close.

Related Reading:

Test Freaks:  Netbook reviews and ratings

PC World:  Road Warriors Guide to Netbooks

Sync Blog:  Should your child have a netbook?

~ Mark

iPod Resource: iLearn 2

The great thing about traveling the ‘blogosphere’ is that you are constantly learning. The learning takes many forms: new resources, new sites to bookmark and revisit, new sources of information, new people to add to your PLN or RSS feed. There is constant reinforcement of the rich content, thinking, sharing and collaboration that occurs in our online world. 

During a recent blogosphere trip, I came across references to iLearn 2, so I bookmarked it and have gone back to revisit the site a number of times. iLearn is organized like an online book which can be viewed in magazine, presentation or paper views. Contents of iLearn 2  include:

  • a 21st century learning framework
  • ideas for choosing a particular iPod model
  • mobility in learning
  • podcasts
  • slideshows
  • video
  • text files & eBooks
  • internet usage (iTouch browser)
  • a comprehensive list of applications with brief descriptions organized by subjects
  • digital storytelling
  • lab management tips 

In my view, iLearn 2 is is an excellent resource and I recommend that you take the time to have a look if you are using or planning to use iPods in your classroom. Enjoy the learning.

~ Mark

iPod Roundup 2

Earlier in the summer, I posted ‘iPod Roundup’, a collection of resources and ideas for using iPod technology in the classroom. Since then, I have run across a few more sites and blog posts related to this topic. The resources are listed below.

The Digital Backpack:  voice recorder ideas

Teacher Magazine:  Adding a ‘Touch’ of Technology

Newhartford Schools:  iPods in the Classroom

School CIO:  Getting Started with iPods in the Classroom

My earlier post:  iPod Roundup

Enjoy!

~ Mark

Social Networking in Education: Friend or Foe

Last night I read Joe Corbett’s post on ISTE Connects: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education? While looking for Facebook applications for education, he came across research indicating that Facebook could negatively impact studying. The general indication from the research was that Facebook is a distractor – Facebook users typically spend less time studying which in turn negatively impacts grades. Now, hold this thought!

Like Joe, this got me thinking and I decided to review some of my recent readings on the topic. The links below encompass a good selection of views on the subject.

 

Viewpoints

Social Network Access: available or blocked/content filtered
Classroom learning vs. socializing
Supported by teachers, not supported by administration
Social Networks are just tooks – can we use them in educationally effective ways?
Keep the issues separate
Social Networking is part of web 2.0 literacy and digital citizenship

 

Reference Articles/Blog Posts

Classroom 2.0: The Value of Social Networking

Sue Water’s Blog: Educational Networking and Staying Out of My Face

Cool Cat Teacher’s Blog: It Is About Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

Fran Smith, Edutopia: How to Use Social Networking Technology for Learning

Harold Rheingold: Attention Literacy

Mark Carbone: recent blog post re school content filtering and social network access

 

OK, you have been holding that thought …. I believe you will find Joe’s article interesting, and it includes a reader survey. His post and survey are at: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education by Joe Corbett, ISTE. Have you voted yet?

~ Mark

Social Networking in K-12

I was cruising through my Twitter listings last night and found a reference to a Social Networking article by Marcia Connor at THE Journal (http://www.thejournal.com). Of course, curiosity won, and I had a look at the article. The ‘snip it’ below (as received when you select email me a copy) will give you the flavour of the article.

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Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities

Much has been written recently about the impact of social networking tools in teaching and learning and how educators can build on the skills of their students in using these tools. But if educators only integrate the ability of students to connect and socialize, deeper points of learning will be missed. While good teaching and learning rests on effective relationships, in an active learning community, those relationships should evolve into actual idea exchange and knowledge construction.

Among those listed by Connor (quoting from MIT and other sources) are skills in:
• Simulation: the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes;
• Collective intelligence: the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal; and
• Negotiation: the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives and grasping and following alternative norms.
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Once at the site, I was interested in the BiWeekly Poll in the sidebar which poses the question: Does your district ban social networking sites?

The currently listed stats show:

No ban – 17%
Yes, banned district-wide for students and teachers – 69%
Yes, banned only for students – 13%
Yes, banned only for certain students – 0%

There is an interesting message in these statistics, and it has got me thinking about the discussions around this very issue we had at our Technology Steering Committee meetings this year. Certainly, there are many aspects to this discussion of access. Some of our discussions included:

– digital citizenship
– embracing it as a way of ‘doing business’
– alignment of content filtering with resource selection policies
– grade appropriate content filtering
– alignment with Acceptable Use Policies
– what needs to be changed?
– what is the process for change in this area?
– how do we achieve a significant change in our systemic approach?
– risks and challenges
– educating not only the students, but teachers, administrators and parents too

I think many of us have a clear notion of where we need to get to, but the path is not necessarily an easy one at the system level, at least in the education field. I believe this is an area the needs to be changed more aggressively and that the positive educational results are with the risks.

At the moment I am thinking big on the change front and pondering strategies.

If interested, the complete article I referenced, is available online at:
The Journal

Happy pondering!

~ Mark

Education Is The Place To Be

Working in education is a great place to be. In many respects, we have more opportunities than ever before.  Consider all that is before us: curriculum requirements, improved achievement scores, literacy, digital citizenship, the role of technology,  integration of technology, web 2.0 tools for learning, the changing role of the library, content filtering, the many forms of elearning, use of smart phones, content delivery,  social networking, equity and inclusion, funding, sustainability, infrastructure, sufficient staffing levels, user generated content, engaged learners, teacher training and best classroom practice. This is by no means a complete list, but gives a good idea of the complexity of challenges that all educational institutions are grappling with. 

One of the key points to ponder in my mind, is the notion of systemic change. Every educational organization has a complicated landscape of successes, excellence, innovation, broken fronts and perhaps some failures. How do we capture all of the right aspects of the many educational ingredients I listed above and mould them into a plan for systemic change to benefit all students? 

In my role as a K-12 CIO, I am actively engaged in analyzing and developing strategies to align our IT planning with the learning agenda in a sustainable and progressive manner that will give us the best of 21st century learning and support systemic change for improved learning. While this topic will be the main theme of my blog, I will write about educational technology in broader terms as well as other personal interests.

~ Mark