Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Next Up for Gadgets

Technology can not rest now. People are accustomed to newer and better. A few of the upcoming gadgets seemed very likely to become popular. The Jawbone is one such gadget that could become popular. The advantages of clearer communication and the affordable price range should enable the Jawbone to be a success. The Blue Ray disc is another possible success. However, the price will need to come down, and some time will need to pass between the DVD player replacing the VHS before the public will run out and purchase a HD-DVD.

Other gadgets that may not be a hit are the availability of TiVo over the Internet and the Neorest toilet. When people are away from home, accessibility to their TiVo is normally the last thing on their mind. They are at work, school, vacation, or some type of entertainment event. Even though the self-washing wand is definitely a temptation, the $5,000 price tag will prevent the Neorest toilet from becoming a successful new gadget.

Nine Rules for Good Technology

The article was very detailed in listing the nine important rules for good technology and further explaining each of the rules even going so far as to compare with another area of our lives other than technology. For instance, rule four compared the need for technology to be standardized with the need for the automobile industry to be standardized. Also, rule nine compared the need for technology to do what the user wanted with clothing doing what the person wanted --provide warmth or physical flattery.

The article also brought out some very important needs for good technology especially a factor in the educational environment. Good technology is always available. Unfortunately, in the school system, technology is NOT always available. Teachers are required to share equipment. Because of the "sharing", technology is not always on and is not always connected. Time limitations for setup also prevent teachers from using technology more often.

The nine rules listed in the article are definitely items that a consumer should consider prior to purchasing new technology.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Teaching in the Wireless Cloud

As a returning adult student, I can't relate to the desire to chat with friends rather than listen to the professor. I am too serious about my education to risk missing part of the lesson to visit during a lecture. However, as a teacher of teenagers, I can certainly understand the maturity level and mind set of students that would rather visit than learn. The wireless cloud certainly poses a challenge for professors today.

The ability to bring your computer into a building and access the Internet without worrying about connections is great for the student. Even if the student is required by the learning institution to register their computer, time and worry saved later is worth the extra few minutes needed for registration. Often, all computers in a lab are being used, and the student is desperate for a computer. Wireless capabilities solve this problem for the student.

I also appreciate knowing that Tech possesses wireless capabilities in many of the buildings on campus.

Facial Recognition Technology

As a parent, I love the idea of facial recognition technology in schools. Even though I am not in a situation where there are custodial issues, I have friends that are in that situation. What a relief to know that facial recognition could find a child taken by the non-custodial parent when they enrolled the child in school!

If a registered sex offender was posing as a delivery person at the school, the camera would detect the face, and notify the local police. Perhaps a parent in the district is a felon or a registered sex offender; facial recognition technology could help catch the individual.

As a teenager, I remember watching the movie, "I Think My Name Is Stephen", about a young boy who was kidnapped and molested until he was 15. This man registered him in schools as his parent, and the little boy was too scared to tell anyone his real name or that the man was not really his father. If there had been facial recognition technology in the schools, perhaps the boy could have been returned to his true family sooner.

Walking Paper

The article was very confusing to me. There appeared to be connection between two people using computers, but the grammar was awful.

I completely support communication between students and teachers; however, I do believe as the teacher, we should remain positive examples in grammar usage. From the article, I could not determine if one of the participants in the conversation was a teacher.

Thank you so much for discussing this article in class. An explanation of the acronyms was a great help. Electronic communcation between teacher/librarian and student is wonderful. I do not mind at all the students writing in IM speak, but I do have a problem using it myself.

Technology Integration at the Beacon School Portal

The Beacon School Portal has many positive aspects. One positive point made in the article was that the intention was not for their students to "use" technology but for their students to be "creators" of technological innovations. The article continued to list numerous areas where the students were playing an active role in the success of the web experiment. Incorporating student involvement through the Beacon Tech Squad was one such example. Students producing their own web pages was another example of student involvement.

Also, with the government push for communication between parents and school, the article explained how the website had improved communication for the Beacon School. Parents and students were able to access homework, attendance, and announcements from home. Looking at the financial side, a large amount of money could be saved in postage, paper, and ink by posting announcements rather than mailing them to parents.

Since September 11, a national concern for crisis planning in schools has risen to the forefront. Beacon School has taken care of the problem of notifying parents by phone. Often in crisis situations, phone lines are down.

With all the positive aspects of the website experiment, one must remember that the success of the experiment at Beacon School is truly based on the support and participation of the school, students, parents, and their entire community. All planning and set up aside, if there were no participants, the website would have been a success for Beacon School.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Liquid Gold

I had no idea that cartridge ink was as expensive as the article brought out when compared to other items considered to be very expensive. As a total cost, I knew cartridge ink was an important part of my classroom budget, but I had never determined the cost per ml.

The article also mentioned the monopoly that printer companies hold on the ink, and how Epson installed a chip to stop the printer before the ink cartridge was empty. Normally, I'm against government stepping into the corporate world to solve problems, but if the companies continue to take advantage of the consumer by overcharging for ink; perhaps their does need to be some intervention. Actually, I'm shocked that there hasn't all ready been something done.

School Technology Grows Globally

The articlebrings out that the United States, Australia, and Latvia tie in the ratio of students-to-computer. According to the article, the United States is behind with only 39% of the computers in schools possessing Internet access while Australia has 80% of their schools connected to the Internet. This comparison seemed a little off because the article stated a percentage of total computers in the United States, but a percentage of total schools in Australia. If the percentage of total schools in the United States connected to the Internet was compared to Australia, the percentages would very likely be much closer.

In the Dardanelle School District, I believe the percentage of computers connected to the Internet is much higher than 39%. All teacher computers are connected to the Internet. Both high school labs, the high school library, and both middle school labs, as well as both elementary labs are connected to the Internet. The primary lab may not be connected to the Internet, but that would be the only lab in the district not connected.

With all articles, one must read closely, in order to determine if the comparisons are truly fair. In this article, the wording certainly did not support a fair representation of the comparative data.

Additional information provided in the new tables indicated that Arkansas is one of ten states that require a technology test or technology professional development for teacher and administrator recertification. Sadly, this same table indicated that teachers in poverty stricken and minority schools were more likely to be computer "beginners". As the textbook and other articles have stated, teachers that are not computer literate are less likely to use computers in their lessons. Therefore, teacher training needs to be required in order to lower the percentage of teachers that are classified as computer beginners.

The percentage of 4th grade students using computers in math in Arkansas was also impressive. My son just completed the 4th grade, and he was fortunate to have the opportunity to use computers in a lab setting twice a week. He often spoke of the math lessons and challenging math games he played. The column that indicated only three states currently test students on technology will most likely see change in the upcoming years. As states move toward a more "test oriented" educational improvement plan, testing areas will expand and encompass the technology area as well.

I was encouraged to see that percentages were much closer between high poverty and minority schools and state averages in the areas of: students per instructional computer, students per Internet-connected computer, and percent of schools with access to the Internet. Ninety-eight percent of Arkansas schools have access to the Internet!

Despite the good percentages for Arkansas schools in most areas examined in the tables, room for improvement continues to exist. Two areas where schools could improve are availability of handheld PDA's and laptops. However, I am excited that we are doing as well as we are.

Possibilities of Digital Film

As we discussed in class, one area of school that digital film can benefit is the yearbook staff. Currently, our yearbook is not done digitally, but the sponsor is planning to change to digital soon. If the yearbook is done using digital pictures, the staff would be able to take an unlimited number of pictures without worrying about the cost of having the pictures developed. Through editing, the staff could pick the pictures to be used in the yearbook and save or delete the others.

Digital film makes field trips so much fun. The students love taking pictures and reviewing those pictures instantly. As a sponsor, I find it fun to watch the students laugh and joke about the pictures. Also, by reviewing immediately, I know if we have missed a picture that we really wanted. We can redo a picture if someone in the group blinked or turned their head. The students can take silly pictures, and we don't have to be concerned with the expense of developing those pictures. I also like being able to copy a set of pictures to a CD for any student that would like a set.

At prom this year, I took lots of pictures. The following Monday, I used the prom pictures as a slide show screen saver on my computer. The students loved being able to see everyone at prom--dancing and posing. Viewing the pictures on the computer was much more fun for them than flipping through a stack of photos and passing them around the classroom which would have been disruptive.

Personal lives are also changed by digital film. Recently, we took a day trip with our children to the Wild Wilderness Safari. Several times that day we checked to make sure we had gotten the shot we wanted--the bull with his head in the truck licking my husband's hand, the monkey taking food out of our hands, or the baby camel nursing. We also did not worry about how many pictures we were taking. We knew we could pick our favorites for their scrapbooks and save the remaining pictures.

Digital film makes taking pictures much more fun and more free. Because the expense of developing all pictures--good and bad--is no longer a factor, we are all more free to snap away and enjoy the camera!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Roaming Computation Tribes

Wow! I feel as though I just read a medical manual overflowing with terminology not recognizable by normal man except all the terminology dealt with technology. Technology is everywhere, but the article goes into great detail concerning several possible areas that technology could be used in the future. Individuals carrying hand-held computing devices would be required to share or sell the usage of such devices while they are walking closely to a company or riding a train.

However, if individuals will be willing to allow others to use their computing devices, the users must be willing to pay for such usage. Currently, the expense and lack of technical set up prevents the examples mentioned in the article from being a reality. Of course, the article does predict a change in those conditions in the next ten years.

If users were willing to pay and the technical deficiencies are corrected, anything could be possible. The article mentioned the benefits to medical research and performing jobs for companies. However, if those activities mentioned in the article are possible, most any idea an individual or company could dream of would be possible.

How to Help Someone Use a Computer

This is a wonderful article for a business teacher. I wish I would have read this article prior to my first year of teaching. Many of the suggestions listed, I now practice in my classroom. However, there are many tasks that I really have to monitor myself so that I don't do them. For instance, I have a hard time not "taking the mouse" when my students are lost. When a student gets behind, I naturally want to catch them up quickly by doing the steps they missed for them.

Students are a wonderful source for learning to do things in different ways. There are so many tasks in Word that can be accomplished using several different methods. My students love to inform me of a new method of doing the same task, and I enjoy using their new methods.

Often, students are intimidated to admit when their computer doesn't seem to be working like the ones around them. As the teacher and classroom leader, it is my responsibility to put each student at ease about requesting help when something goes wrong. Encouraging teamwork and questioning each other helps with the fear to ask because if their neighbor doesn't know what is wrong, they are no longer alone in "not knowing".

As educators, we need to be sensitive not only to our students, but also to our peers as they ask for help. Thank you very much for asking us to read this article.

Essays Graded by Computers

A few years ago, end of level business education tests switched from paper and pencil to computer. This past year was the first time my students were able to test without problems. The first couple of years were a nightmare for the students and me. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did go wrong. They were not able to log on, the test would lock up, they would complete the test and not receive their score. However, when the test worked smoothly this year, the students were able to take the test, receive their scores immediately, and review the questions they had missed.

Using computers to grade essay questions will pose problems, but after the problems are solved, the speed with which schools and students receive their scores will be wonderful. Even though the aggravation the first couple of tries may seem overwhelming for the student and the teacher, in the long run the switch will be good for all parties involved.

The students enjoyed taking the test on the computer this year. Students liked receiving their scores immediately.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

eSchools News Online

As a professional educator, I can not imagine showing a video such as the Berg beheading. As a parent, I would be furious at any teacher who put my child in a position where they had to make a choice whether or not to watch such a video.

Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to watch R rated movies without the consent of a parent. Movies are rated for violence, language, and sexual content. A video showing someone losing their head definitely falls under the extreme violent category. Children are not considered by law to be able to give a teacher permission to call their grades aloud in class; therefore, why would a teacher think the child was by law old enough to make the decision to watch a video that would be considered R rated.

We all make mistakes--personally and professionally. However, as educators we are responsible for the well being of our students--emotional and physical--during the time they are attending school. We do not have the right to make decisions that are the responsibility of the parents. Nor do we have the right to ask our students to make adult decisions that should be guided by their parents. Teachers must remember, the teacher is the adult in the classroom.

Discover and Create Your Own Field Trips

Virtual field trips would solve many of the fears and disadvantages of traditional field trips. As a teacher, I fear losing a child, or a child getting injured on a field trip. As a parent of two relatively small children, I am always concerned about adequate supervision. When children remain at school, they are somewhat protected from outside dangers (abduction, auto accident). However, a trip to Little Rock or Hot Springs to visit the zoo or a museum opens the door to dangers not typically associated with campus.

Another disadvantage to traditional field trips is the cost. As the article mentions, there are costs related to notes, permission slips, bus travel, admission, and meals. A large disadvantage for the students in our district is the time taken traveling to the destination site. Much of the day is used riding on the bus--crowded and hot.

Assuming all the disadvantages of traditional field trips, the experience and knowledge gained by the students makes the trip worthwhile. However, if virtual fields trips can give the students the experience and knowledge and eliminate the disadvantages to traditional field trips, what a wonderful improvement for our children.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Will you bring your own PC to school?

The article brings up many facts that were somewhat of a shock. The fact that 30% of Europe's workforce had no office at all was alarming. Companies are utilizing part-time employees and outsourcing jobs. The author continues to explain that IT staffs may be doomed.

The personal attachment to one's computer, whether an employee or a student, is definitely present. Students regularly compare the attributes of their computer at home with their computer at school. Currently, few of the students in the Dardanelle School district possess a laptop computer. However, in the near future, the percentage may change dramatically.

Students bringing their own PC could be very positive to their education. Perhaps with a PC, students who typically find it difficult to take notes with paper and pencil might find note taking easier with a computer. Many students are "hands-on", and those type students often do better in computer classes. Therefore, with their own PC, they may perform better in other classes. Also, students normally take better care of equipment that belongs to them or that they hold a direct financial interest.

With all new ideas or methods come both positive and negative aspects. A few negative aspects to students bringing their own PC would be:

1. Playing games during class rather than taking notes and paying attention
2. Networking the computers to print
3. Theft of property/security
4. Different windows versions
5. Different software

As a business teacher, if some students used WordPerfect and others used Word, a serious problem would exist. Few teachers are prepared to teach both Word Processing software packages. If all students brought their own PC to school, specific regulations would be required involving software in order for frameworks to be successfully taught.

IT positions will not be completely eliminated. Job description and requirement would change in order to accommodate each student bringing their own PC to school, but a need for technological assistance would remain.

The Future of Instructional Technology May Lie in the Children's Tribe

The article poses several issues that are inherent to educating our children. Children now in pre-school and kindergarten will be a challenge to educate during their high school careers. Their familiarity with technology and their ability to manipulate the technology will ensure the need for continued education for teachers.

Currently, our teachers are probably able to hold their own in the primary and elementary level classrooms. However, as a couple of years pass, the need for teachers to receive further education in the area of technology will become more obvious. Teachers at the middle and high school levels will require the same constant technology education.

As the article discussed, children today are familiar with cell phones (appalled that some phones have cords), TiVo, DVD and the ability to manipulate the movie, and plain old television. Children enjoy taking pictures without limitations on the quantity and sharing those pictures immediately with friends. Technology companies have, and for survival purposes, will continue to make the changes necessary in order to challenge the children and maintain their interest. The mouse is one example of product enhancement with the added buttons and wheels. Computers must remain "fun" for children with beeps and bells to keep their interest.

Just as corporations are adapting to the technological advancements of children, schools must do the same. Long term planning will need to take into consideration the portion of the school budget that will be required to maintain adequate technological equipment for the students. Teachers will need to continue their education in the technology area in order to keep up with the advancements and their students. Reality is exactly what the title of the article states, the future of the way we instruct students depends on the knowledge base of our children.

Friday, June 04, 2004

NETS

Technology is the way of the future. Our children will be required to attain computer and technology skills in order to live productive lives in their society. The technology requirements as outlined on the website for students, teachers, and administrators seems extremely comprehensive. However, our children must complete their high school career with those skills, or they will be disadvantaged in college or in a chosen career. In order for our students to attain the skills needed, the teachers and administrators must adhere to the expectations outlined.

The standards for the student are explicit. Students are expected to possess skills in basic operations and concepts, social, ethical, and human relations. Students must also be able to use technology as production, communication, and research tools. The most difficult skill a student must possess is the ability to solve problems and make decisions using technology tools.

In order for our students to complete high school with the above mentioned skills, all teachers will need to meet the expected standards and implement lesson plans that will provide the students with the opportunity to enhance their technology skills. As outlined in the standards, teachers must possess a sound understanding of technology and concepts. Lesson plans and design will need to implement a technological conducive learning environment. Curriculum and assessments will also need to be used in order to encourage student growth in the area of technology. Teachers must enhance their own productivity through practice and professional development. If teachers are expected to convey to the students the importance of the social, ethical, legal, and humanities of technology, they must understand those areas as well. Unfortunately, most teachers do not possess the technology skills outlined in the state and national standards. With the additional professional development days added by the state legislature, perhaps teachers will be given additional in-service training specifically in the area of technology.

Technology responsibility does not stop with the teacher and student in the classroom, administrators also play a very important role in our students reaching the technology standards by graduation. Administrators are the leaders in the school, and one of their expectations is to inspire vision for the comprehensive integration of technology. Ensuring the curricular design and instruction strategies of the learning environment integrate the appropriate technology is yet another important job for the school administration. Just as teachers must apply technology and practice the use of the technology so must the administrator. Administrators must also support technology of a productive system and remain current with social, ethical, and legal understanding of the use technology.

If all schools can meet the standards adopted by the state for the expectations of technology, our students will be prepared for life after high school. However, all parties must acknowledge the standards expected and possess the drive to reach those standards in order for the students to reach their full potential. Business teachers alone can not enable students to meet the expectations. Just as writing across the curriculum has been adopted by many schools, technology across the curriculum will also have to be adopted to ensure the success of our students.