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Thursday, July 26, 2007

And So It Begins - Production on OLPC

With 3 million ordered now, the production of XO laptops from One Laptop Per Child begins in Shanghai.  Although the AMD chip is the processor, with Intel onboard there are talks of a version with their chips, according to this article and also this one.  This is the real deal now, what some didn't think would happen at all.  

It bodes well for schools in the U.S.  - but will that mean a complete rethinking of our networks and applications? Or will the U.S. version not use peer network sharing and just take advantage of the screen that's visible in the daylight and other design and functionality developments.  It's a different laptop that we're all using, that's for sure, with a different O/S and approach - much more exploration and user-centered.  Change is coming.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Summer at a Laptop/Tablet School - The Busy Season!

Many people don't know that a school technology department's "busy season" starts right after graduation and goes full bore right up until fall's first class.  Summer is when laptops, tablets or desktops arrive which have to be unpacked and imaged with the latest software, drivers, print queues, antivirus, operating system updates, etc.  Computers have to be staged, installed, and tested.  Supplies have to be replenished.  Carts, laptop/tablet cases, printers, switches, and other equipment and peripherals have to be tested and sometimes replaced.  Many of the deferred projects ("let's not do that until the summer") are tackled, which often bring up their own cascading logistical problems.  Add to that a school's databases which need updating; creating and inputting the school's schedule; updating email and other systems; and it's apparent why summer is the busy season.  At The Peck School our bulleted summer list was pages long and was often added to over the summer when one seemingly-simple update caused something else to go awry.  

Curt Lienick, director of technology at the University of Chicago Lab Schools has created videos of what happens over the summer to show teachers when they return - and it's a real eye-opener to see the level of activity.  Like many tech directors, he makes it look easy, but it's good sometimes to let everyone know what it really takes for school to start up in September, technology-wise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PA Gets Their Funding!

Congratulations to Holly Jobe and everyone working so hard on Classrooms for the Future in Pennsylvania  - the full $70 million budget has been approved in Pennsylvania and now the program will receive the full funding requested.  Big important things will be happening in PA high schools when 1-to-1 is everywhere. 

(Quick aside: "1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work" was distributed to all the Classrooms for the Future leaders.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Little Announcement/Big Significance

I get a Google feed on "laptop schools" to my email every day and this article Intel relents on laptops for kids just appeared - maybe it's in other papers already but this is big news and will have really large significance.  It says that Intel is joining the OLPC board.  

Those of us waiting for the serious impact on all laptops everywhere (and schools eventually being able to afford 1-to-1 everywhere) because of One Laptop Per Child  - are going to get what we want soon.  Maybe even in 2 or 3 years.  

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lausanne keynotes Ian Jukes, Will Richardson (will at left)

Yesterday, Ian Jukes cajoled, inspired and scared us a bunch.  Gesticulating, sometimes wildly, Ian gave a presentation that sure didn't look like Powerpoint (lots of pictures, things to make us think, pithy comments, etc.)  The future is coming and it ain't stopping for the faint of heart! And, schools still look like and act like the past.  Favorite quote from Ian's presentation: "Changing the course of history is easier than changing a history course."  (full attribution to follow - soon)

The exponential growth of hardware and bandwidth along with the lowering of prices at least for hardware (Moore's law), the Internet along with InfoWhelm are what we need to fully consider, as educators.  What does this mean for the classroom - that looks the same and acts the same as it has for maybe the past 40 years or so.  Information fluency, not information literacy.

The group at our table wanted Ian to talk more about discerning information and how important our task as educators is to be sure kids don't accept everything coming at them as okay and meaningful.  (Maybe this is what he meant by information fluency.) But he made every one of us think and continue to think.

Now listening to Will Richardson and here is his Wikispaces with handouts and backups for what he's saying.  Wow - I didn't know about the Obama campaign which is allowing people to put their own blogs up - this is brilliant.

Camera phones/Treo's, etc., how something can be put up online immediate, with a photo and with words.  Music is changing, digital rights, how do we exist when it is so easy (albeit not always legal) to share.  Journalism now has comment section; newspaper readership dropping, how to change the model.  (Personal note: even content - NYT magazine with article on Williams syndrome had a link to a video of a 19-year girl with Williams.)  "Cluetrain Manifesto" recommended.  People can look at their opinions somewhere on the product or the book, etc., people can read the comments before purchasing.

Problem: as Ian said - education is not changing.  We are not responding like other structures.  Something like 65% of kids have MySpace, 75% have Facebooks.  How many educators?  Maybe 15%.  Information is going to continue to grow. There is still a digital disconnect, and when there are kids, they can't compete.  Kids have really taken off and we're not in sync, we need to move with them.  

Recommendations: creating networks for teachers and students to sustain learning.  Blogs as a starting point - blogs as a conversation - blogs as a learning environment/community.

Many teachers using these technologies to publish and not to maximize as a network.  Cluster map show where people are coming to read Will's blog.  He is humbled by this, but has learned from this.

Kids are also beginning to build networks - fan fiction (note: my daughter does this extensively on the Harry Potter site and HP is the biggest site.) The learning is available anytime, you can connect to the people.

MySpace - who is teaching it?  One teacher raised her hand.  How to leverage the space.  Meg Cabot who wrote "Princess Diaries" has a great MySpace and it connects her to the people who love her book.  Why should Will's daughter memorize the capitals of the U.S. - where in the curriculum is it taught to get on her cellphone and find out information - what happens when content shifts.  (Note: this is our discussion at our table last night - picking out what information is most relevant and important and how to find the important information - yes!) 

MITOPENCOUSEWARE - wow, what is available here, for free, as podcasts, as video, etc.  You don't get the credit but you don't get the bill either.

Wikipedia - we need to teach it.  Will told about a kid who didn't want to do a project so just posted a sparse page on it on Wikipedia and then just waited for everyone to correct. Corrected so quickly.  In last minute 500 changes to Wikipedia.

IM, collaboration, on the fly.  We need to teach this.

Plagiarism is getting blurry, we need to talk about it.  Biggest problem - being editors in this environment, being skeptical consumers of information.  

How many people teaching kids to read and write in hypertext environments.  Yet this is how they will be working in the future.  There is a literacy here.  If links connecting people are not part of what they are doing, they are not learning what they need to know.  

If we have an Internet connection, we are no longer the smartest person on the room.  Our job becomes to connect us to the smartest people in the world.

The shift - the conversation - reaching others to engage in the conversation - finding the strong and the weak ties and how we can expand our knowledge and our conversations - flat classroom project.

Friday folder from classes - things sign - what is the engagement in this paper - yet we can have do meaningful projects in real worlds.  Example,  Radio WillowWeb - 1st graders, regular podcasts, thousands of listeners.  Marco Torres and a video done by his kids - (note: I have yet to see Marco but have heard amazing things about him and his work.)  

Will says every day he is learning something new, the networks of learners are what is important, making everyone information literate is vital, kids will be at risk from information if they are not discerning, we need to be different teachers in this environment, we must connect.

Here are my questions: what happens when people go back to their schools with these new ideas and the "zero sum game" becomes operational - can we have "and" and not just "either" and "or" - not traditional learning or 21st century learning.  How to bridge the gap.  We must, obviously, we must.  

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Conferences - Professional Development - Even When You Can't Attend

There are so many excellent summer educational technology and 1-to-1 conferences around the U.S.  Attending sessions enables teachers to get the pulse on what's happening, to network, to learn some new techniques and tools, and to take a long reflective pause because the rush of September.  

But what if there is no budget or time to attend?  Because of the Internet, teachers can go online and read about sessions, download handouts and presentations, view videos and podcasts and get a feel for what's happening.  Here's a few great conferences with links to materials:

Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation held summits on 1-to-1 for leaders in March and May this year, very well received by attendees.

edACCESS draws 50 or 60 tech directors from small schools and universities and never fails to impress attendees with its scope and vision.

Lausanne Collegiates's Laptop Institute is incredibly well done and valuable - it's happening this coming week but check back after July 18 for session handouts.

One of the largest, and best, over 18,000 attending this year is NECC (National Educational Computer Conference).

South Dakota's Laptop Institute started this year in June and brought together several hundred educators for sessions all on 1-to-1.

Next blog will be during the Lausanne Laptop Institute.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Kids and Computers - What are we afraid of?

At NECC last month, while I was at a booth, my teenage daughter who attended with me wandered nearby.  A teenager with a rock n roll t-shirt and a laptop in a case slung over her shoulder, she stood near a computer at a booth.  Suddenly an adult ran over to the computer and hurriedly shut it down.  She hadn't touched it - but somehow the "threat" existed for that adult - teen hacker!  How often are our policies guided by such fears?  Hopefully not too often, and hopefully we are working to engage and challenge students with computers and not to only police their activities, but maybe we need to examine our approaches. (Note I posted this story as a comment on Mike Muir's excellent blog as well.)

We used the idea of L.A.R.K. at The Peck School where I worked for the past 5 years - which is also described in my book - we worked to ensure that all use of computers was L - Legal, A - Appropriate, R - Responsible and K - Kind.  Having this acronym as a shortcut yardstick for technology helped keep everyone on track.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

1-to-1 and girls

Here's a thoughtful article from edWEEK written by Dr. Kitty Boitnott describing how she'd just defended her dissertation three days before the NY Times article describing how laptops programs had been dropped.  Dr. Boitnott's dissertation was on how laptops can level the playing field between boys and girls when it comes to technology, providing a high tech career path to girls.  It's interesting to note that at The Peck School where I worked for the past five years we'd seen a leveling as well around gender - while initially (we're talking 1998) boys were more comfortable with using laptops, now there seems to be no discernible difference.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

1-to-1 and Authentic Learning

I'm doing some writing on authentic learning for a client and it would seem that 1-to-1 is ideal for all the underlying goals of authentic learning.  This article succinctly describes authentic learning and its student-centered goals for exploration, inquiry, authentic tasks, scaffolding, discourse, and creation of a product to be shared with a larger audience.  1-to-1 can make this happen because the resources for inquiry, exploration, and presentation are available at the fingertips of every student.