Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tech trends in school

Technology changes faster than we can blink an eye. That said, these are a couple things I have been reading about or think will become trends in schools in the near future:

  • Web-based instruction – The PhD I will start in the near future is specifically about web-based instruction.  Whether it is through Youtube videos in which kids are learning how to play the guitar, Facebook groups where students are chatting about math, any of the online collaboration tools I reference in another post, or through school homework sites that are built using Nings, Moodle or any of the numerous other CMS available, online is not about to go away.  It has so many advantages.
  1. For example, school closures no longer mean the need to make up days lost, because lessons can continue on through online systems that are in place.
  2. Kids who are sick can also continue on with their studies following regular updates about class lectures and homework that is expected.
  3. Kids and adults who are in remote places have access to schooling systems they would never normally have access to.
  4. People can choose huge varieties of courses that interest them.
  5. Settings of learning are semi-traditional or purely non-traditional.
  6. Learning times are less regulated, as the web is “on” 24 hours a day.
  • Cloud Computing – First of all, what is it?  From my understanding “Cloud Computing” means that programs and areas for hosting information are no longer hosted on the local computer.  For example, Google Docs is an prime example of cloud computing because every document is created and stored online.  The advantages to this system:
  1. It means that documents are available across a variety of platforms
  2. Documents are backed up with no fear of computers breaking down and all information is lost
  3. Multiple people have access to the same document at the same time.
  4. Permissions can be set in place by the owner of the document for read-only or read-write privileges.
  5. Usually zero cost is involved, which means that money can be spent on hardware rather than software solutions.
  6. Documents can be accessed anywhere, at any time.  If you are on vacation and you remember you need to print that file out, you can just pop over to the internet cafe and you have access to it without a flash-drive or CD to carry and worry about.
  • Mobile devices in classrooms – The sentiment among principals and administration in the past has always seemed to be: NO.  There is no need for mobile devices in classrooms.  However, these days I would argue there is great need for mobile devices in classrooms.  iPads, iPhones, Tablets, Slates, and even iPods are all finding there way into the education process.  What needs to be taking place more regularly is professional development for teachers about ways that these devices can cleverly be introduced into lessons.  The idea of 1:1 is already becoming outdated, as I talk about in this article.

The schools that “get it” will be the ones that stay ahead of the tech curve. “As educators, we really need to stay on top of this stuff,” said Roland Rios, director of instructional technology at the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District in San Antonio, TX, “instead of constantly playing catch up.”

  • Technology based assessment and monitoring tools – There are systems configured to record every keystroke that is ever pressed by students and coworkers.  There are systems like Faronics Insight to monitor screens of students in classrooms or public spaces like libraries.  But this idea is to enable even better surveying for student learning.  For example, ‘clickers’ for students are taken a step further with the idea that every students has an iPhone and sends in the answer to the questions that are presented.  Results can be recorded, tabulated and graphed.  Constant student assessment is enabled using technology.  The shy, quiet kids no longer get to recess into the backs of the classes.  Everyone is invited to join in on the learning, conversations and assessment.
  • Professional Development – Because technology is growing at such an unfathomable pace, teachers and educators alike need to be on the cusp of it in order to stay abreast of what is out there.  In order to do so, constant professional development has to be taking place.
  1. This can be in the form of a traditional classroom setting, an informal setting at home where educators are staying in the loop by accessing websites, blogs and other learning arenas.
  2. It can also come as it is with teachers learning from students and also allowing students to teach other students about their learned knowledge.
  3. Parents as well need to stay in this loop and educational foundations need to realize what they are and embrace this faction of their population.

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Great Primary ICT ideas

Just sat in a little meeting about some ideas for tech in the PYP.  These were some of the things that were shared:

Managing blogs:

  • Schools need to set a minimum amount per week for teachers.  The general consensus seemed to be at least once or twice a week.  This way no one in the set was looking like an outlier (bad compared to others)
  • Consent forms for student photos are needed if they are to be used on the blog.
  • The idea of an after-school bloggers club came up.  Some teachers were pursuing this.

Traffic light system:

  • This is a neat and simple idea for students to self assess along with teachers:
  • Red – Student cannot do it
  • Yellow – Student can do with help
  • Green – Student can do this by them self

Using PowerPoint in new ways

  • Students take screen-shots using a program to show progress and incorporate it into the slide-show
  • Students add arrows and text to explain what they have done
  • Students use the PowerPoint presentation to explain what has been done to others

A resources that was mentioned to stay away from was:

  • epals – it was mentioned to be rubbish – not updated and not accessible

Good resources were:


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What’s at Techex 2011

Intended for the average teacher, rather than just the nerds (like me).  Ian Jukes will be the key-note speaker talking about learning as a digital native at TechEx, an exciting conference that I will unhappily not be able to attend.  Ideas for the conference are listed below:

  • The Facebook debate will be a drama contesting and supporting the notions behind this social network
  • 21st Century Learning ideas – 2 minute ideas about lots and lots of different things – with free prizes from sponsors
  • Big building with neat TedTalk – and discussions
  • Flip Thinking- Let’s rethink the idea of homework – Are kids doing the hard stuff at home and the easy stuff in school?
  • iPads and Slates – Sharing of ideas about them – Should 1:1s be switching to these?
  • Hy Tek Software – for use with physical activities
  • Blogs – Student blogs and links to the outside world – How are schools using these properly?
  • One-Note – A Fantastic collaborative tool to be discussed
  • The Perfect School and how it should look
  • 3D World
  • Moodle
  • Intelligently Searching the Search Engines – Searching Twitter, Subscription Databases

John Tratner asked groups at the ISTEC meeting to ask for some of the things that we would like to see.  We came up with these ideas:

  • Inspirational Moodle stuff – courses or styles of courses (innovative ways to use it)
  • Ways that Classroom teachers are using tech beyond the tech teacher
  • How Chrome OS fits into education
  • Google apps and Google Docs – How are they using it
  • Bookmark synching methods
  • Giver (for sharing files) – Linux-based
  • Introducing Lino-It
  • Online Storage – DropBox – Boxnet
  • Using Freecorder – For downloading video, sound from computer and converting files

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Virtual Learning Environment: Frog

The presentation today at the ISTEC meeting was about FROG Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).  Andrew Duckworth, from Regents International School in Bangkok mentioned that in comparison to StudyWiz it seemed to be a better environment, due to it being more open-sourced, allowing of more plug-ins.

What is Frog?

  • An application development platform, with a learning platform built into it – (Scripting functionality)
  • Customized for each school
  • No programming involved.  All GUI
  • Primary and Secondary versions
  • Delivered on a server within the school – helps with performance
  • Accessible from home
  • Social networking modules are incorporated into the interface – Feeds
  • Uses SIMS
  • Allows SCORM content
  • Allows for differentiating using groups
  • Froglite – runs in the background monitors and manages documents used through Frog
  • Unpacks Zip files
  • Allows for permissions
  • Has an e-portfolio
  • Resources can be turned into widgets – like Netvibes, iGoogle
  • Markbook
  • Email System
  • Planner
  • Works with pre-existing CMS (Course Management System)
  • Allows access to proprietary programs through secure gateway (for example, students can use Adobe, Microsoft, Sims, etc. from home)
  • Computer control within system – switch internet on and off – no screen monitoring though
  • Staff notice system – implemented along with champions
  • Live, online collaborative documents – form, page-building, diary systems
  • Online detention system
  • Work-spaces (Groups) are available to be created and managed – allowing groups to collaborate
  • Skins (personalized) are available for users
  • Mac-style (personal) dashboard
  • Integration with Google Apps (Free for Education)
  • Parent portal – graphing tools, attendance, behavior, assessment
  • Language Character Sets available for database – front end support only in English
  • Apps work well in Firefox and are being developed for iPhones and iPads
  • Implementation take about 12-18 months
  1. 21,000-27,000 pounds initial cost (Servers included – Dell – 2 Terabyte/Mirrored Drive with backups)
  2. 5000-7000 recurring prices
  3. Financing available
  4. 700 student limit

Pretty cool all around.  However, it is expensive for some schools.

The old adage, “You get what you pay for” seems to ring true with this system!


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