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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Kids don’t need to take notes in Tech class

This was a web clipping update that Jeff Utecht took “Colorado schools are beginning to write off cursive handwriting” found here at Coetail@Bkk.

I thought the clipping was interesting and also agreed.  In fact, I was just talking with another teacher about how I don’t usually allow students to hand in assignments that are hand written.  I like to read assignments that are typed “10 or 12pt Arial, Helvitica, Garamong or Times, single-spaced, narrow margins, double-sided”.¹  The reason for this is that I like the standard, easy to read font and the lest three traits are to save with paper.²

In my class I most often have students using a digital device to write notes.  More recently I have had a few ingenious [read: crafty or possibly even lazy] students who have asked if they could just take a photo of the board after I have written or typed notes, so just as this title suggests, they are no longer taking notes in my class.

Now that I allow students to be friends with me on Facebook I also often notice that notes, book clippings, photos of the board and many other things pertaining to assignments in classes are turning up as photos on walls.

It’s definitely a different world that we are living in.  I can’t even imagine if I asked my teachers back when I was in high school or elementary school if I could take a photo of the board and how they would have reacted.

As a teacher I can see the benefits of writing the notes.  Writing things down means that we are visually and physically processing all of the information.  Still, due to time constraints I will allow students to take photo notes with their gadgets … AND some actually even seem to refer back to these photos.  Cool.

When all is said and done I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water.  I counter my argument with the fact that everyone will need to pick up a pen or pencil to fill in a form or write something down the old fashioned way.  In these cases, students do need to have knowledge of how to write with their hands.

I ponder this thought about the future, but what will happen to synaptic connections in the brain and also to our hands fine motor skills due to the fact that we are using them less and less for holding a pen?  I know that the art of penmanship has gone out the window, but will there be other consequences?

I think, as with everything, there is a time and a place.  Technology is allowing new and useful ways for students to change their habits.  It is up to the educator to decide in what amounts they will teach or allow certain skills.  I look forward to seeing the next ingenious and crafty strategies my own students bring to class, as it usually brings humor to my day and also makes me think.

¹I also insist upon: Headers with ‘ClassAssignment TitleStudent’s Name‘; Footers with Page Numbers styled bold2 ‘Page 3 of 42‘; the use of Headings and Subheadings to be referenced with a Table of Contents; and a Conservative Title page with an Abstract

²Most of the time I try to have students hand things in digitally through one-note, a wiki, a Ning, or through Google Docs.

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The Royal Wedding exposed to me

I hate to admit it, but yes I am on Facebook too much and yes, I play Cityville.  I don’t know why I play such a silly game as this, but I did just find out it is the biggest game on Facebook to date.

It gets me a little giddy knowing that Cityville is going to update their game depending upon what events are coming up.  For example, when it is winter, you have snow in your city.  You even have the option to buy and build a big Christmas Tree when it is nearing the season.  At summer’s crest, the snow melts and you can buy surfboard shops.

But now, for a limited time only, you can also cash in your coins and get four items pertaining to the Royal Wedding: The British Flag, Waving Royal People, Royal Guard, and the Royal Palace Gate.  Sadly, I only have the flag and gate.

What does this lead me to talk about on a tech, design and education blog?  Beside the fact that the game is played on a computer, which is technology, it also reminds me of elementary school when many, if not most of the projects and themes revolved around events that were current.  I assume the demographic the game is appealing to is one of younger children.  However, I would presume to say they are tapping into the kids inside us who are also loving the retro-feel we are getting because we are being taken back to this theme idea.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Cityville I might not have been as excited as I was to workout and watch the live feed on my iPad via Youtube on the Royal Channel in T-minus 1hour and 30Mins.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Technology

 

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Do teachers have right to their intellectual property?

I had a discussion the other day with a teacher about the idea of a teacher’s intellectual property.  In most teacher’s contracts, in almost every school, they state that anything that is made or created by a teacher during the time of employment becomes the property of said school, school board, or business.

Atlas Rubicon is a system many schools are adopting to consolidate these properties.  It seems like a fantastic idea:  Teachers put their curriculum, lessons, notes, Powerpoints, and any other digital materials into the system for others to use.  Not only do the teachers at the school have access to the lessons of others, but other schools who have signed up through Rubicon also have access to everyone else’s property.  Über-cool!

The drawbacks, however, were also part of this discussion.  One, is the fact that schools could use this system to weed out expensive (older) teachers.  They might ask these teachers to allocate their resources onto these servers and then ‘let them go’ in the future, in order to hire younger, cheaper teachers to replace them.  How is this affecting students?  Are they getting the best education they can?

I guess my argument against that is that schools and administrators would hopefully not base their hiring and firing practices on salary amounts, but on effectiveness of teachers regardless of their age.  But sometimes there is a bottom line.  My colleague countered this mentioning that international schools most often do not hire people over 60 years of age. Yikes.

Another con to Rubicon is the fact that they are the holder of all the digital knowledge, AND they are charging education systems a fee to subscribe.  This means that they have a monopoly on the information that we, as educators, hold dear and true to ourselves.  This means Rubicon could start to charge outlandish prices for something that we need and also created.  Hmmm…What are the safeguards that Rubicon won’t be unethical in pricing?

I really like the idea of being able to tap into every other teachers ideas, but I don’t like the chance of losing my own right to this property.  It is almost as if I am being assimilated into the Borg.  At what point does something that I create become completely my own?  Teachers usually work from contract to contract.  Does that mean that nothing they make until they retire actually belongs to them?  As a teacher I need to consider my future carefully.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Education

 

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Like this

The “Like” button.

It’s turning up everywhere.  What did we do without it?  It was first introduced through Facebook to replace the “Share” and “Become a Fan” button on February 9, 2009¹.  As the designer of my Ning, I had Ning.com announce to me that it would be implemented throughout the site.  As the writer of this blog, which I transferred from another hosting site, having the “Like” feature was one of the first concerns I had about plug-in availability.  I wanted it.  I needed it.  I knew I could create my own “Like” button code here.  All good, but what if someone doesn’t like the “Like”?

One day in the future, will there be empirical evidence that shows us that people through their pictures, posts, blogs, sites and everything else which weren’t “Like”d enough are demonstrating lower self-esteem, lessened abilities, and have considerably diminished capacities in life?  Will there be comparisons of those who are liked and those who are not?

Juxtaposed to these thoughts, will people and entities with hundreds of thousands of trillions of likes get swelled heads or encounter other issues that are yet unknown to us?  We know that online popularity can turn you into a celebrity and possibly even a very rich person, but what are the consequences?  Will they be the same as people who become famous in real life?  Is that possible anymore?  Also, if they are “Like”d hundreds of thousands of trillions of times, can they put this on their resume?  Maybe they don’t need to.

Another thought that comes to my mind is, how many “Like”s can counters have?  The web continues to grow.  Eventually will it become too saturated?  Along those lines, what is going to happen with domain names and emails of the future?  For example, will generations from now become those of 100 character email addresses.  People who want Brad123@email.com will have to become Brad1234567891011121314151617181920@email.com.  I am talking 100s if not 1000s of years from now.  The best ones will be taken. How will the internet as we know it develop into something that we don’t?

For now though, choose to “Like” this article if you like.

¹“What’s the history of the Awesome Button (Eventually that became the Like button on Facebook)”

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Technology

 

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Are you mobile?

When we ask this question the first thing that pops to my mind is: “Do I have a mobile device, like a cell phone, PDA, tablet or computer with wifi?”

This article is not about that.

This article is asking, “What would happen if all or any of those devices broke down on you?”  A better question to ask would be:

Is your content mobile?

If your gadgets broke down right now, how much of the information would you consider irretrievable?  How much of that information do you really need?  I bet that some of you would say, “A Lot, if not most of it.”  Starting right now, if you haven’t done so already, get yourself some online storage:

  • Box.net (5 Gigs of Free Storage – 25megs per file – Mobile Access)
  • Dropbox (2 Gigs of Free Storage – with a referral program up to 8 Gigs for Free – Mobile Access)

Next you need to think about your bookmarks.  There are two ways about it:

  1. Store them to access them online – Delicious
  2. Sync them with every computer web-browser – XMarks

Certain documents can be saved, stored and shared online,.  A great website for this:

  • Scribd (Upload Docs and even sell them to others – great for eBooks)

To create and save Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawings and Forms:

All of these online areas, plus a whole lot more I didn’t mention, are called the “Cloud”, or “Cloud Computing”.  It means that you have access with the idea that it is somewhere up in the sky.  Ideally, we shouldn’t need to worry about it because it is being backed up all the time, plus we usually have access to revisions of the same document through these methods.  Now, if you hear the question, “Are you mobile?” I hope you think of it through a new perspective.  Not only that, I hope also you are making it so that your content actually is.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Technology

 

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Adding a poll to your blog

WordPress.com has a Poll creator.  I would not say that it is very intuitive considering it is built into the interface.  The downside is that the poll itself is not embedded in WordPress, nor are the results.  If I figure out a way to do that I will be updating this post to show you.

To create your poll that will jump you to another website, In the edit pane,

  1. Select Polls – Add New
  2. Create the Question for you Poll
  3. Create the possible Answers
  4. Create a Post
  5. Open your Poll
  6. Insert your poll (Like the one Below) using the Share/Embed button
  7. Copy and Paste the Javascript
  8. Publish

How did you find the site?

(polls)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Technology

 

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Cheap ways to master the universe

These are some ways that I am planning to master the universe.  You can steal, borrow, appropriate and copy any that you see fit.  A couple things seem to be in my future:

  • a book – most probably an ebook – coming soon – gonna read more about some ideas for marketing it here from Seth Godin’s “Ideavirus” (a free book that you can buy – I might try this myself – you should too)
  • a domain name – toying with a “.me” as the suffix and have a pretty good idea what it will be called.  I will get it from godaddy.com as they seem to have worked well in the past for domain name forwarding.¹
  • logging, creating, showcasing more of my artistry – I am good.  I have good ideas.  I actually was allowed into OCAD for 5 years because they thought so too.  I will probably do that starting right here on the site with some of the logos and designs I have made with hopefully a lot more to come
  • working through education towards working anywhere, any time, and most probably about any thing – I don’t want to be limited by any of the aforementioned factors: place, time, confines of job description, so I am plotting ways to do this – one way is hopefully through developing online resources
  • (slick) business cards – gotta have em – plus you can feel cool giving them out – ooh, and designing them.

¹ Since writing this post I have created this blog through WordPress.com.  It allows you to buy and link a domain name really easily to your site.  The drawbacks are that you do not have complete control over the look and addition of plug-ins or widgets.  The advantages are that you will probably get higher hits to your blog sooner, it is all-in-one, which means it is easier, and you have support from WordPress.com.  This is something I did not find with Orgfree.com.  Too bad.

 

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