Wednesday, December 7, 2011

iPad Apps for Math Classes

The following web link is for a video done by a student demonstrating several iPad apps.  Since he likes math, he shows two different apps (beginning and middle of 14-min video) that look impressive.  While the video is a great example of iPads apps un general, it is particularly good for math teachers who want to see what is possible with iPad regarding math concepts, learning approaches, vocab, etc.  I will be adding new apps soon so let me know if there is a math app you guys want installed.  Of course, this is not the only time to decide…mainly wanted to share the video.  : )
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndgFiUXHSPs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

STaR Chart Time Again

A good many of our teachers have already successfully completed the STaR Chart this week.  Dr. Templeton’s goal is to have our campus at 100% by the end of the week. If you are among those who had trouble, please try the following suggestions:

1. Login at the STaR Chart site: http://starchart.epsilen.com/Login.aspx

2. Verify that you are using the correct USER NAME (some teachers have a “1” or “2” after their last name).

3. Try the password you used last year. If that doesn't work, then click the “Forgot Password” link and request it again.

Let me know if you need me to explain anything relating to the STaR Chart.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Video Projectors Tips

Below are some tips for teachers who use video projectors on a regular basis:

Tip #1:
As we experience cooler mornings, you may come in one school morning and discover that your video projector will not turn on.  A quick fix is simply unplugging the projector from the ceiling mount and plugging it back in.  This has been the case twice this week and once last week.  If you try this and your projector still will not turn on, then the lamp or projector may need replacement (which will require a help ticket).

Tip #2:
As I walk around the campus, I often see projectors on during conference hours (and sometimes after school). This is wasting lamp hours and will lead to premature lamp replacement (which cost between $250-400 depending on unit). I don’t suggest you turn the projector on and off in between short usage (this also negatively affects lamp life), but if you are not using the projector during a space of 20-plus minutes (such as your conference time), then turn it off and save lamp life and electricity.  You can always leave your computer files loaded and ready to go for next class since they will not be affected by the projector’s on and off status. Most projectors will come on within a minute so little preparation is required to be in ready mode.

Tip #3:
Vibrations from AC Units and loose ceiling mounts may affect screen alignment over time.  If you have a SMART Board, you may need to calibrate every few weeks to account for the incremental shifts due to slight vibrations over time.  If you have to calibrate every week, let me know and I will inspect mounts to make sure they are adjusted properly. 

Tip #4:
If your projector remote is missing, broken, or in need of batteries, then let me know.  I have a few extra remotes and some batteries in my office.

I hope these tips help you at some point!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to create a Help Ticket through Eduphoria

Several of you have sent me text or emails indicating that you are having trouble sending help tickets via the Kerrville ISD web site.  If you are getting a page asking for an organization number, then you have selected the wrong icon (SchoolDude is for maintenance requests only).  You need to select the icon that is called “eduphoria! SchoolObjects” to place a technology-related help ticket.  It looks like this (see below for visual example of icon):


Last year, there was associated text indicating “tech help” (or something along those lines) but with the expansion of several eduphoria applications, there is now a more general icon which will take you to the suite of apps page.  Once you click on the icon, you will need to enter your Kerrville ISD email address and password (password is usually the same but that depends on if you created a different one…not preset).  If you can’t remember password, then select the option to have it reset.

Once you see the “eduphoria myapplications” icon (see below), there will be several applications to choose from:


Select the “helpdesk” icon…


…and select the “Create a New Request” action item and then fill out the needed info.  Hopefully, the above steps will clear up the confusion.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tivy Tech Tidbits Before the 2011-12 School Year Begins

The following are a few things I wanted to share with the teachers of Tivy High::
 
1) Technology Training.  Thanks to all those who attended my session earlier this week. It really helped me to have an opportunity to share some things about lab use, mobile labs, tech policies, and future solutions. Your input and comments were valuable to me.  By next week, some step-by-step instructions for using room labs and mobile labs will be sent to you via email.
 
2) iPad Apps.  Since iPads are still very new to most of us, expect several stages of learning and training throughout the Fall.  While we have a roll-out plan in place with a few apps already loaded on each device, a very important part of this plan involves teacher input.  If you desire to use iPads for a particular learning objective, then learning apps need to be found, requested, purchased, installed, and evaluated.  I plan to be involved in every step of the process but it will take all of us to create a solid plan that we can rely on in the future.  At the training sessions, several of you expressed interest in researching possible apps relating to your teaching area.  If you want a cool place to start, consider visiting the following web site called "iPads in the Classroom" (which includes suggestions, tips, and other sites):
 
3) P Drive Clean-Up.  Don't forget to check the "P" Drive (public use that includes staff and students) for any folders and files relating to your class.  I encourage you to move/copy any files you want to keep for future class use.  By the end of the next week all the files (currently around 1.5 TB) on the P drive will be removed permanently.  The plan is to continue using the P drive this school year but an attempt to better organize it will take place.  Basically, a new folder will be created for each teacher so that students can easily access class-related files and also add files in their class folder.  I still consider the P drive as a "standing in the gap" approach until better solutions for file sharing/project submission are implemented at our campus. Next week the entire Technology Staff will meet and I plan to discuss future use of public drives as they relate to Tivy campus needs.
 
4) Classroom-Based Website.  At the end of the technology training session, I share the opportunity for teachers to learn how to create their own classroom-based website.  I promised to share the web link of some training videos I created over the summer. So, maybe you will finish your weekly goals and will have time to start on your classroom website today! Of course, there is no hurry but I hope that your will consider developing a classroom website since it may very well help you with your student communication and collaboration goals.  Even thought my video tutorials focus on using a classroom template, their are many others to choose from if you want something different or want more than one site. For instances, coaches may want to create a site of their specialty that includes schedules, forms, reminders, and photos. I look forward to seeing how creative many of you will be once you explore all the possibilities.  I have plans to create an e-Course in Euphoria (similar to my Moodle course I created last month) but for now, visit this web link for easy access to the video portion of the training course:
 
5) Friday Tech Help.  After a very long week (full of very long days), I am following through with my scheduled plan to be off on today (Friday).  While I still have a long list of requests that will be waiting on me on Monday, I managed to get all the critical items done this week (or have temporary solutions in place for those waiting on parts or installs).  If you are still waiting on help with previously made requests, don't worry...I haven't forgot about you (hopefully).  If you need assistance on anything new, please submit a tech help ticket so we can start prioritizing for next week (look for the link called "Euphoria! School Objects on the Kerrville ISD site).  For really urgent matters, contact the Technology Center directly.
 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What emerging technology will have the greatest impact?

I was recently asked what emerging technology would have the greatest impact in education in the next year? That's a great question. For starters, I point to the 2011 Horizon Report since it provides a good list of six technologies that are getting a lot of buzz lately:

1) Electronic Books
2) Mobile Devices
3) Augmented Reality
4) Game-based Learning
5) Gesture-based Computing
6) Learning Analytics

The answer to this question is tough because of the blended nature of some of the items on the list.  For instance, the iPad has electronic books and learning games among their popular apps. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that apps exist or are currently in R &D for gesture-based computing and learning analytics. With this said, a wide-spread adoption of devices must take place for several items to a significant impact on learning; therefore, I believe that mobile devices will have the greatest impact on learning in the next year.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whew! Busy June!

I didn't know June would be so busy! It started out great with Techpalooza on June 1 and many great professional development sessions followed it for two weeks. Tivy remained a busy campus with summer school for the whole month and a few Region 20 training sessions for teachers.  All good stuff.  Looking forward to working on labs and teacher computers in July...I suspect the month will fly by like the previous one!

Friday, May 27, 2011

So, that's a school year?

Wow! A lot happens at Tivy in a school year! I am sure it is like that everywhere. Now that I have an idea of what a typical school year is like, maybe year two will be a little easier since I can plan according to the ebb and flow of school events, testing, holidays, etc. I have really enjoyed working at Tivy this past year! The staff is great! Now, our technology team is gearing up for summer projects!

Friday, May 20, 2011

2011 Kerrville ISD Summer Staff Development

 

Don’t forget to check out all the Professional Development options available in early June and early August in our district!  For your convenience, here are some web links to get you started:

2011 Summer Staff Development Catalog
(Check out the detailed listing of over 30 offerings!)
http://www.kerrvilleisd.net/files/SummerStaffCatalog2011.pdf

Ready to sign up for summer workshop sessions?
(Why wait until school is out…let your interest be known early!)
https://kerrville.schoolobjects.com/wshop/

Need help setting up your Eduphoria SchoolObjects account profile?
http://www.kerrvilleisd.net/files/WorkshopHelp.pdf

Visit the new 2011 Staff Development Wiki
(Sign up to receive timely information about sessions!)
http://kisdsummer2011.wikispaces.com/

For more information, visit our Kerrville ISD Instructional Technology Department Site:
http://www.kerrvilleisd.net/pages/Instructional_Technology

Hope you can make a few of these great professional development offerings!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is the use of mobile technology in K-12 schools a smart idea?

The question that makes up this blog entry's title (or one very similar to it) is being asked throughout the country, by educators and parents alike. The response varied more than most people realized, thus revealing a gap between those who support the idea of using mobile devices in school and those who are not as favorable towards the idea. Project Tomorrow surveyed 294,399 K-12 students, 42,267 parents, 35,525 teachers, and several thousand librarians, school and district administrators, and technology leaders in 6,541 public and private school districts.

I just read an article in eSchoolNews about the first part of the Speak Up report published by Project Tomorrow. It was also shared in a congressional briefing on April 1 called “The New 3 E’s of Education: Enabled, Engaged and Empowered – How Today’s Students are Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Learning.”

The findings of the Speak Up report is very interesting to me but not entirely surprising. It seems that parents and students different in their perceptions and opinions regarding the use of mobile technology in K-12 school when compared to school administrators and teachers. Here are some of the key findings:
  • 67 percent of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use for schoolwork if the school allowed it, and 61 percent said they liked the idea of students using mobile devices to access online textbooks.
  • 53 percent of middle and high school students reported that the inability to use cell phones, smart phones or MP3 players was the largest obstacle when using technology in school. Additionally, 71 percent of high school students and 62 percent of middle school students said that the number one way schools could make it easier to use technology would be to allow greater access to the digital content and resources that Internet firewalls and school filters blocked.
  • Parents are increasingly supportive of online textbooks. Two-thirds of parents view online textbooks as a good investment to enhance student achievement compared to 21 percent in 2008. However, E-textbooks are still a relatively novel concept in the classroom. Slightly over one-third of high school students report they are currently using an online textbook or other online curriculum as part of their regular schoolwork.
  • Nearly 30 percent of high school students have experienced some type of online learning.
The report also points to the reluctance of many teachers and administrators in allowing students to use their mobile devices on campus because of the potential abuse (even though many realize the potential use for educational purposes). While the report is good and insightful for the most part, I also find it an unfortunate teasing of data because answers depend on what lens you are looking through (meaning that perceptions and attitudes are not fully understood by the numbers alone). In fact, I can easily place myself in each role and my answers may vary as a result. I will attempt to demonstrate my point below with some risk of being misunderstood, but I will trust the reader to arrive at the finer points.

For example, as a student I want access to information and desire the option to use the available technologies whether they are provided for me or owned by me (and tend to resent what seems like outdated restrictions). As a parent, I want my teenage students to be among those who use and understand technology naturally and know how to separate work and play (and tend to resent a system that denies my kids the opportunity to act responsibly with technology at school since it is required of them at home). As an technology educator, I want our students to utilize the latest technologies so they can develop 21st Century skills, but also see the challenges of keeping them focused even in highly monitored computer labs; therefore, I am forced to admit that many of them will misuse their mobile technologies if allowed in the classroom (so, in a total cognitive dissonance, I support existing technology policies for good reasons yet struggle with the observation that we ask our students to lock their mobile technologies in their lockers, which offer untapped leaning potential, so they can walk to computer labs and use older technology, which is strapped with too many restrictions). Hmmm...

As educators, we will eventually have to deal with the mounting pressure to allow a greater use of mobile technology on our campuses. It will be another game changer for education and brings up more questions than I will care to list here. Besides, we are not ready for the mass-use of smart phones in the classroom any time soon. We will have to make changes to our policies, curriculum, learning environments, teaching styles, technology-related infrastructures, etc. Unfortunately, these are significant changes that non-educators are not completely aware of when they occasionally ask me, "What's the big deal?" or lately "If students are allowed to use their smart phones during school, wouldn't that save the district money since less computers would be required?" Real questions that deserve real answers. However, I am also confident we will eventually implement smart solutions that include emerging technologies like the recent wave of very smart phones...as soon as we figure out how to use them smartly. ; )

Friday, April 1, 2011

Does Technology Have a Place in Education?

Asking the question that is also this blog entry's title may seem like a ridiculous question in today's time.  However, it's one that has been asked since the days of Socrates.  Did you know that Socrates was somewhat suspicious of the technology of letters?  As the ancient Greeks debated the invention of the alphabet (which was widely applauded and accepted), Socrates feared too much emphasis would be placed on the "learning of letters" rather than what they represented.  Regardless of his fear, the technology of letters changed an oral culture into a scribal culture.

The question at hand surfaced again when Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1452.  This invention radically changed the world and revolutionized education.  Some influential powers of the day tried to stop it but failed.  The printing press technologies changed a scribal culture into a print culture.

Now, we in the 21st century are witnessing another change in education. We are moving from a print culture to an electronic culture.  Just as earlier technologies like the alphabet and the printing press, the electronic technologies are changing the way we come to know and interact with the world.  The way we educate is being reinvented and there is no way to stop it from happening...no matter how resistant some may be because of their own fears and educational concerns.

So, I ask, "Does Technology Have a Place in Education?"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Post Spring Break Testing Season

Before Spring Break, I spent a considerable amount of time getting our computer labs in working order by fixing computers with hard drives problems, replacing broken accessories, and updating software applications.  With as many computers we have on campus, this can be a challenge since problems can develop in any given week.  However, we manage to keep the majority going to meet our basic needs.

The Internet is also a challenge since bandwidth has become a major issue this year -- especially, as our classes integrate more technology in the classroom.  Using streaming video and emerging Web 2.0 tools is the leading cause of slowing Internet speeds.  Personally, I welcome the use if technology in the classroom but regret that we don't have the ideal infrastructure to accommodate the pace at which we gobble up the bandwidth.  While the Technology Department works on this matter, and has managed to bump up the speeds every year, I suspect this issue will not be going away any time soon.  Of course, we are not alone, other districts struggle with this as well.

Suggestion to Tivy Staff:
No one is going to say,"Don't use the Internet during testing season."  Each of us relies on email for daily communication, Skyward for gradebooks, and the Web for instructional content so access is a must.  However, being aware that bandwidth is an issue might motivate some of us to modify our Internet habits to improve it.  For instance, don't stream unnecessary media files during testing days.  Don't download huge files that can be done after school.  Consider showing a media clip to your students via the projector rather than each one watching it in the lab at the same time.  Small things like this can help prevent problems for students taking important timed tests.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Use of Gaming in Education

The use of computer-based gaming to motivate kids to learn is currently a strong focus in education circles these days (just keyword the search engines of educational journals). This is not surprising since gaming is not a new concept in education. I remember buying Reader Rabbit and Pajama Sam games for my kids ten years ago and seeing how motivated they were to play...uh, I mean "learn" because the games were done well and made learning interactive and entertaining.

Now, educators have a better selection of quality learning games and a better delivery mode with the Internet. Unlike earlier years, kids don’t have to take turns because of limited computers and limited copies of game discs (web-based gaming solved those type of problems). The trick is finding decent games that are not too "cheesy" in the kids eyes.

Plano ISD was featured in a recent web article about their use of Tabula Digita's DimensionM Mathematics game. Read the full story here: http://www.schoolcio.com/showarticle/36732

Many schools are finding that quality educational gaming is improving math scores and motivating students to take a stronger interest in learning. Personally, I think that learning games should be celebrated and used as a tool in the teacher's toolbox (meaning, I suggest it's but one tool – not the panacea for raising the math scores of students who simply find mathematics more difficult than other subjects). What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday's Techie Teamwork at Tivy

I only thought Monday morning was crazy when about 15% of the computers on the Tivy campus had no network access (mostly labs).  With creativity, we got through the day.  By the end of the school day, over half of the campus computer had no network access (meaning staff could not login, access Internet, Skyward, and Outlook Mail).  Yikes!

Yesterday was a long day of problems-solving.  Mario Juarez (our network admin) worked all day on related problems.  We checked switches, looked for patterns to gain insight to the problems, and by mid-day we were still scratching our heads.  By the afternoon the whole district lost email.  Channel 2 was also down.  It was a bit stressful but cool heads and a spirit of cooperation characterized the day.  Situations like this also reminds us how strongly dependent we are with our our technologies!

From a reflection standpoint, yesterday was a great example of teamwork.  Teachers and office staff who were among the half with no network access went into “Plan B” mode.  They remained patient and supportive as we worked on the problems.  Bill Orr, our tech-savvy finance guru at central, came to Tivy and spent a few hours after lunch to help us implement a temporary solution so we could get a few key office computers up and running.  By 4 PM, Nathan Green (software specialist) and Joel Adkins (Chief Technology Officer) came down to lend a hand.  By 6 PM, we had all the major problems corrected (or had work-arounds in place).  Whew!  It was a relief in the end!  But what sticks with me more than anything today is being part of a great team that is committed to excellence!

Monday, February 14, 2011

TCEA Conference Rocks!

Last week, I attended my first Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin. It was fantastic! I can't wait to go again.  Three of us from Tivy attended (myself, Matt Turner, and Jane Austin). Another dozen from Kerrville ISD went as well.  I think it was smart of Joel to ask at least two people from each campus to represent at TCEA.  The conference offers tons of classes, top-notch vendors at the exhibit hall, and great keynote speakers. I enjoyed hearing Leigh Anne Tuohy (real "Blind Side" mom) speak on Wednesday morning. The place was packed!  If you are asked to attend next year, my best advice is to say "YES!"  For more info about TCEA, click here.

BTW, I brought back about 20 lbs. of literature.  About half of it I will share with teachers and admins...so, do you have room for some more paper on your desk?  : )  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Perspectives on Printed vs. Electronic Books & Textbooks

Last week, I read an article called "Textbooks? So Last Century. Rent a Netbook Instead." that represents what many educators are facing today as they consider the media of their curriculum. For more reading, click on the following: http://chronicle.com/article/Textbooks-So-Last-Century/125884/ and below are my intial thoughts after reflecting on it.

I believe we are in a technological bubble when it comes to our methods of acquiring and managing information packaged in the form of a book. Personally, I have always been a "book worm" and have managed to acquire about 2000 books (including many college textbooks) in my personal library over the last 25-30 years. During the 90s I bought on average about 100 books each year (even more during graduate school in the early 90s). Books remained a large part of my work world in the next 15 years as I worked as an education minister, curriculum writer, and technology trends researcher and workshop presenter. In the last ten years, the number of paper books I bought decreased with each passing year (in 2010, I bought about 10 books). I believe this shift resulted from my growing Internet habits and the realization that much of the information and content that lined my book shelves could be found online. As my habit of digital bookmarking grew (and my confidence that the Internet will not "lose" my data, info, etc.), I also discontinued the almost maddening habit of creating folder after folder of clipped magazine/newspaper articles and research-related computer-generated printouts...which shamelessly became stacks around my desk (sound familiar anyone?).

Now that I work as a Campus Technology Coordinator at a high school, I recently made a decision to part with 75% of my library (which has not been easy for me since I have notes and markers in many of my books). In fact, I feel like I am betraying good friends as I boxed them up for donation or to sell...but the drumbeat of technological progress demands that I march forward to what has changed and what is continuing to change. Ten years ago, Adobe Acrobat provided a means for me to easily print to file and digitally store what use to be piles stacked next to my desk (I will confess that this didn't happen overnight). Next, I found that adding highlights, notes, and bookmarks to my PDF files were easy and quite convenient. I have to tell you...I really like the idea of trading in my paper habits for new digital habits -- less clutter, saves trees, and easier to share with others. But I do admit that I have to constantly challenge myself and my “print happy” moments during Internet research sessions.

Now, as schools begin to move in the direction of using electronic textbooks, I see both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are plain to see but some of the disadvantages may not be fully appreciated by all advocating for e-textbooks. In fact, I have had a couple conversations with teachers recently about this very topic. First, as mentioned by others, not every student has an Internet-equipped home computer or possession of an e-reader device. This only adds to the Digital Divide issue. Secondly, many schools are already struggling with bandwidth issues due to poor infrastructure, aging computers, and the sharp increase in classroom use of streaming video from the Web and the use of Web 2.0 tools. I believe adding electronic textbooks on a mass scale is somewhat premature for most schools, especially if thousands of students need to access the Web to access those textbook texts and supplemental media files that are becoming more common by educational publishers. Anyway, this is something for us to consider before committing to a textbook format that will no doubt be more digital with each passing year (a format I welcome if we are prepared for it). As a tech coordinator, I see lots of preparation in order before we can add another layer of technology in our K-12 schools.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cell Phone Technology Perceptions

I came across a cartoon last night while reading an online article that sought to capture the technology perceptions of the current top three cell phone users: Blackberry, iPhone, and Android (see below). While it doesn't represent everyone in these categories perfectly, it does represent the various attitudes of many cell phone users. It also reflects that we humans like our technology options and we certainly have preferences and expectations that affect what we choose to buy and use on a daily basis (of course, money is a big factor too).

One of the top questions I get from both staff and students as I pass them in the hallways is cell-phone related. They are curious about my thoughts and how to make something work (usually Outlook Exchange when it comes to staff). Regarding the three top cell phone users, I have boiled down what appear the main differences between the top cell phones on the market at the moment (meaning, you never know what 2012 will offer us). This is not meant to be comprehensive...just based on observations and conversations with users of each type.
  • Blackberry: tends to appeal to business-minded users; advantages are fast and reliable email accounts and great phone functions; disadvantages seem to be lack of touch screens and smaller app selection
  • iPhone: tends to appeal to media-driven users; advantages are lots of apps, especially social networking apps; disadvantages seem to be expense, doesn't support third-party apps, painfully slow and tedious emailing process and doesn't fully support Outlook Exchange, and the well-know issues with phone calling and functions
  • Android: tends to appeal to those who like iPhone but looking for another option (reasons vary but strong Google users top the list); advantages include lots of apps (especially third-party apps written by the open-source community) and phone models vary from touch screen and keyboard combos; disadvantages include slower process for emailing and doesn't fully support Outlook Exchange
Anyway, let me know if I missed a major feature or function in the above list. Don't forget to comment on the cartoon...love to hear your thoughts!  -- Eddie

Monday, January 10, 2011

Safe Password Suggestions

I have been asked several times in recent weeks about a good method for creating safe passwords. I recommend that you change your main password 2-3 times a year for security measures. I know this is a pain but it proves to be wise in the end.
Good passwords should not include your name and not easily found in the dictionary. I recommend a combination of at least six letters, characters, and numbers (having all three represented is best but at least two is fine – adding both lower and upper case letters is even better!). It’s best to make it something fairly easy to remember like: “2$00n2tell” or “4everC00l” (zeros instead of letter “o”). I like to make it easy to type as well as easy to remember. So, spend some time thinking about it…be creative..and make it something you won’t easily forget. : )

Reminder: when you change your password at the Kerrville ISD login, it automatically changes it for your KISD Outlook Mail account as well (which is quite helpful). However, other school-related passwords (i.e. Skyward, Eduphoria) will remain the same and will require a separate process for changing passwords.