Tag Archives: K12

Tips and Tricks iPad Resources

Are you looking for some tips and tricks for using your iPad?

Here are a few that I have found in the last month or so that I found to be worthwhile.

1. Free from the iBook store (via the free iBooks app), simply search for iPad

  • iPad User Guide from Apple
  • iPad Starter Guide (Macworld)
  • iPad Publishing Guide (by M. Ashley)

2. Secrets for iPad (app) – free and pay ($0.99) versions

3. iPad for Dummies (by E. Baig & B. LeVitus)

4. iPad Wikis

Enjoy the learning. Make the most of your iPad.

~ Mark

Moving the K12 privacy agenda forward

Today I attended a Privacy & Information Management session in London which was a good learning experience.

The session began with an opportunity to to view some of the 8 training videos that have been prepared for use in Ontario school Boards. The video series was designed for 3 target audiences: teachers, administrators and IT staff. Key areas of best practice addressed in the videos included:

  • physical documents
    • security
    • office practices
    • classroom practices
    • destruction
  • digital data
    • server locations
    • implications of outsourcing storage
    • laptop and USB key use
    • destruction of digital data (hardware recycling)
  • visual privacy
    • use of cell phones, smart phones, digital cameras and video recorders
    • guidelines for posting content on Board sites as well as uploading to public internet sites

Following the preview of the videos, the balance of the day provided opportunities to review strategies for implementation of Privacy and Information Management strategies and further discussion of the 3 areas identified above.  I found the discussion rich and in depth. My note taking included the following points:

  • laptop setup should include a BIOS level password, OS password and an encrypted area to store confidential data
  • recycling of hardware must include data destruction on the hard drives
  • prevent the use of peer to peer sharing tools such as Kaza and Limewire
  • enforce password format and change policies
  • key corporate level data stored locally where you can control access (information knows no boundaries)
  • store email in a centrally hosted system

Key implementation strategies should:

  • create a culture of awareness
  • update and/or write policies to reflect needs and goals
  • sustain energy and interest in this area (it is not a one time item)
  • make best practice strategies relevant to key user groups (teachers, admin, support staff etc.)
  • be shared as a team, this is not just one person’s torch to carry.

Drifting off a little as I was sitting in the sessions, my mind was flitting to other connections. After all, creating a culture of P & I Management awareness is connected to Digital Citizenship.  In some ways, there are interconnected tensions between privacy culture, digital citizenship, suitable access to K12 content for curriculum delivery (content filtering/open internet) and copyright. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is a sweet spot – establishing the required culture is the challenge. I am looking forward to my involvement on our team.

Related Reading

PIM Taskforce
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

~ Mark

Social Networks: What’s cooking?

Social media tools are having an impact in many ways in all age groups of society from pre-teens to ‘experienced’: retirees — it could be a lifelong activity, literally!   Let’s take a look at some current information.

KIDS/TEENS

In a recent surveys of teens,  38 percent of respondents ages 12 to 14 said they had an online profile of some sort. Sixty-one percent of those in the study, ages 12 (jumping in earlier than the suggested age requirement) to 17, said they use social-networking sites to send messages to friends, and 42 percent said they do so every day. Although social networking sites have a minimum age requirement of 13, there is no easy way to check or enforce this criteria. It really operates on the honour system.

In my mind, this trend raises some important questions in terms of use from the parent point of view:

  • Are these sites being used in an appropriate manner?
  • Do parents/guardians actively monitor what their children are doing?
  • How are the children learning about safe online practices?
  • Do the children know to protect their personal information?
  • Are there daily time limits placed on usage?

As a parent, what is your level of involvement? See the Social Networks and Kids: How Young is too Young?  article at  CNN.

ADULTS and the WORKPLACE

In October 2009, the USA Today reported that that 54% of companies completely block Facebook, another 35% apply some form of access limits, leaving only 11% that don’t put any limitations on Facebook use in the work force.

Dr. Brent Coker, of the Department of Management and Marketing at The University of Melbourne, reports that  “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t.”

Point for consideration: Is surfing the net really any different than daydreaming or chatting at the water cooler? Some employees may benefit from a little surf time. Not everyone has the same needs in terms of being productive – that is for sure. Hmmm, maybe this is true for students in schools too!

View the full ‘Companies Ban Social Media = Bad Idea’ article at Socialnomics.net. Additional information from the  Australian Social Media study can be found at the University of Melbourne website.

What is happening at your organization? Leave a comment or  send a tweet.

SENIORS/Retirees

Facebook statistics show an increasing number of users in the 50+ age group – boomer connecting with high school friends and keeping in touch with their children. There is a major social connection occurring with users in this age group.

Related Reading:

Ivy Bean: Tweeting at the ripe old age of 104

Social Isolation and New Technology

SCHOOLS

Teachers and administrators are learning more about social networking tools – the good and bad. The bad is usually connected to student bullying issues. Staff at Boards of education are thoughtfully working through some of the key issues:

  • safe, ethical and responsible online activities
  • Digital Citizenship and Character Development programs
  • incorporating social media tools into curriculum delivery in meaningful ways
  • thinking about content filtering in an appropriate K-12 context

The agenda is definitely moving ahead – that is a good thing.  Teachers are developing online Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) through social media tools such as Twitter, Ning groups and blog reading/blogging. Many are really engaged in learning something new every day.  Certainly, this is an exciting time to be in education.

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. In the meantime, one can keep learning and participating! See you online 🙂

~ Mark

K12 Content Filtering: centralized or distributed?

Content filtering is always an interesting topic for discussion because it is so multifaceted. In my earlier post I listed the points below as part of the discussion arena. In my context, the framework is K-12 education.

  • filter or not?
  • if you do, how much?
  • if you do, is it done centrally or at the school level?
  • how do you align content filtering with educational resource selection processes for print, video etc.?
  • block or allow social networking?
  • keep students safe
  • sufficient band width
  • how do you define ‘educational content’ in a way that makes sense in a K-12 context?
  • should content filtering be more age or grade appropriate?

There are no easy answers. It is easy to find valid reasons to sit on either side of the fence for each point. More importantly, there is a growing need to keep learning about what is right, what is doable and keeping the agenda moving forward in an appropriate fashion for K-12 education. Further reflection on this post has two aspects of content filtering churning around in my mind.

1. Copyright: Content filtering must respect copyright and your country/jurisdictions laws and regulations. This whole aspect of internet use is blurry in the global community. At face value, what you see in your browser is relatively consistent from your vantage point on the globe. The internet seems like ‘one place’. The reality is the servers, and therefore content are in different countries. What you are able to do with content (copy, download , redistribute, use in a school classroom setting etc.) will likely vary, depending on your regulations and these need to be respected.

2. Equitable access: A couple of weeks ago, I was having a meeting with @socmediatrust (Twitter) discussing Digital Citizenship and his work at schools presenting Internet safety sessions to students and parent groups. At some point in the conversation, we landed on content filtering. As mentioned above, there are many approaches to dealing with this. The focus of our discussion was bullet #3 – centralized or distributed to the school level systems. This led to an interesting talk framed around consistency and equity of access.

Providing content filtering from a centrally run system provides equitable access to resources deemed suitable for use by all students/staff/sites within a system. To me, this makes the most sense. Deem the content that is acceptable for use in a particular system through a fair mechanism to select and align content with educational needs. Then you can work away at fine tuning needs in a strategic way.  I can see value in having a ‘sliding scale’ effect for content filtering so it is adjusted for age levels – maybe something along the lines of  tightly controlled (young students), medium access (maybe grades six to eight) and more open for high school. Validate readiness for each level with a strong Digital Citizenship program to teach ethical, responsible, safe use and digital literacies.

Now, imagine a system where access is controlled at the school level. This could potentially be a dogs breakfast so to speak. Two (or more) schools serving the same age group of students may be serving up completely different content and access to web tools. This leads me to many questions about equity of access, lack of consistent approach within a large system, lack of consistent expectations and use by staff and students and awkward to dialog with parents when the rules (access) varies from site to site. As curriculum leaders, do school administrators bring their own ‘rules of access’ with them as they move site to site over their careers?  Hmmm.

My View: It seems to me, at least at this point in my thinking, the distributed model leaves more questions than answers. I would cast my vote for a centrally run system that allows for the ‘sliding scale’ fine tuning approach that is well aligned with curriculum needs and resource selection processes.

~ Mark

K-12 Education: Content Filtering

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the first Central Ontario Computer Association (COCA) for the 2009/2010 school year. COCA provides a forum for ICT educators representing approximately 25 school boards to dialogue and collaborate face to face 5 times each school year. I always look forward to these meetings as I know the dialogue will be rich and engaging – a tribute to the forward thinking, action oriented people in these roles. Hats off to you for making a difference!

The agenda for this particular session was organized to provide an opportunity to discuss current educational issues and topics including:

  • Report: Ministry of Education licensed software for Ontario school Boards (OSAPAC committee)
  • Brainstorming: What would a Ministry of Education integrated ICT document look like?
  • Presentation: ICT Ethical Use
  • Presentation: iPods in the classroom project with a research component
  • Discussion: Twitter in the Classroom
  • Discussion: Round Table

I will be interested to follow Mike Redfern’s work on his Ethical Use of ICT project which will provide an in depth look at technology and social networking issues in the K-12 educational setting.  I will provide some information about our (WRDSB) iPod projects and research initiative in a future post.

As I anticipated, I found the round table discussion particularly interesting. Many points were raised, but the one that really stuck with me was content filtering. Content filtering is always an interesting topic for discussion because it is so multifaceted.

  • filter or not?
  • if you do, how much?
  • if you do, is it done centrally or at the school level?
  • how do you align content filtering with educational resource selection processes for print, video etc.?
  • block or allow social networking?
  • keep students safe
  • sufficient band width
  • how do you define ‘educational content’ in a way that makes sense in a K-12 context?
  • should content filtering be more age or grade appropriate?

There are no easy answers. It is easy to find valid reasons to sit on either side of the fence for each point. Oh yes, how do you apply content filtering to keep everyone (students, teachers, school administrators, technicians, parents, school board officials) happy?  That is a $64000 question!

Now, throw another huge component into the discussion: copyright, digital rights, document ownership. Yikes. A few people commented that their Board had recently opened up YouTube as part of the progressive move toward more openness in the content filtering in an effort to teach online safety and digital citizenship.

BUT – What about the YouTube end user Terms of Use policy? Section 5 (see below), in the terms of use policy contains some very specific language. I have emphasized some of the areas that I feel need careful consideration from school Boards when making a determination to allow or deny access to this site.

5. Your Use of Content on the Site

In addition to the general restrictions above, the following restrictions and conditions apply specifically to your use of content on the YouTube Website.

A. The content on the YouTube Website, except all User Submissions (as defined below), including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like (“Content”) and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein (“Marks”), are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law. Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the Website and the Content.

B. You may access User Submissions solely:

  • for your information and personal use;
  • as intended through the normal functionality of the YouTube Service; and
  • for Streaming.

“Streaming” means a contemporaneous digital transmission of an audiovisual work via the Internet from the YouTube Service to a user’s device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be copied, stored, permanently downloaded, or redistributed by the user. Accessing User Videos for any purpose or in any manner other than Streaming is expressly prohibited. User Videos are made available “as is.”

C. User Comments are made available to you for your information and personal use solely as intended through the normal functionality of the YouTube Service. User Comments are made available “as is”, and may not be used, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, downloaded, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited in any manner not intended by the normal functionality of the YouTube Service or otherwise as prohibited under this Agreement.

D. You may access YouTube Content, User Submissions and other content only as permitted under this Agreement. YouTube reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the YouTube Content and the YouTube Service.

E. You agree to not engage in the use, copying, or distribution of any of the Content other than expressly permitted herein, including any use, copying, or distribution of User Submissions of third parties obtained through the Website for any commercial purposes.

F. You agree not to circumvent, disable or otherwise interfere with security-related features of the YouTube Website or features that prevent or restrict use or copying of any Content or enforce limitations on use of the YouTube Website or the Content therein.

G. You understand that when using the YouTube Website, you will be exposed to User Submissions from a variety of sources, and that YouTube is not responsible for the accuracy, usefulness, safety, or intellectual property rights of or relating to such User Submissions. You further understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Submissions that are inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree to waive, and hereby do waive, any legal or equitable rights or remedies you have or may have against YouTube with respect thereto, and agree to indemnify and hold YouTube, its Owners/Operators, affiliates, and/or licensors, harmless to the fullest extent allowed by law regarding all matters related to your use of the site.

Independent of the nature of the content posted on YouTube, and whether or not there is a clean adherence to copyright and digital rights management, the terms of use document specifies that the site is for personal use. In Canada, classrooms are defined as public, not private.  As I understand this, personal use sites such as YouTube, do not have a legal place in Canadian classrooms much in the same way there are restrictions on the use of music and video. There is definitely more studying and thinking ahead in the complex arena. For now, I think we are positioned well with our current approach.

Related Reading

View the full YouTube end user Terms of Use

~ Mark

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

Social Media Map

As educators we are always on the look out for a new and clean way to explain concepts to other people. I came across this diagram a little while ago and thought it was an interesting way to explain the relationships of Social Media Tools.

The diagram, as you can see from the thumbnail thumbnail below, is laid out somewhat like a railway track system with colour coding used to represent categories of social media tools by function.

SocialMediaMap

The key in the lower left explains the function categories as:

  • syndication
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • interaction

Each function area shows a number of application types, which correspond to entries on the map. The original map, by Jay Ball,  is posted in an online slide show.  Click here to view the original B2B Social Media Map. I thought this was a fresh approach to explaining social media and the relationships between some of the applications. This is well worth a look in my view – another teaching trick in the back pocket.

~ Mark