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This site came across my PLN on Twitter over the weekend. I forget who Tweeted the link and I apologize for not being able to give them proper recognition for the info…sorry. I think the site has many positive implications for education. In the day of shrinking budgets, who can afford to ignore free resources? The site is easy to use and you can view the ebooks on platforms other than an iPad.

I downloaded the free FireFox add-on and in minutes read a Dr. Seuss book to my daughter. It was just scanned images from the hard copy, but she enjoyed it. Imagine doing the same thing over an LCD projector onto an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? The students would go nuts, allow them to round robin read and turn the pages with the click of a mouse…even the high school students would enjoy it.

I forwarded the information to the administrators in my district, hopefully they will find the information as interesting as I did. At the minimum, I hope they look into the site, we could use any free help we can get!

Could Verizon iPhone Stem Android iOS Assault? » Phone Reviews

As Android embraces 4G, Apple lags in getting aboard the new faster network, and AT&T will be left dragging their heels towards 4G which isn’t good for the future of the iPhone. Thus eventually AT&T will lose their exclusive hold over the iPhone, it’s been on the cards for ages but just why Apple insists on keeping the iPhone tied to a single carrier in the states is somewhat confusing as in other countries the iPhone is available on most networks.

While Android continues to spread across the globe it’s fairly obvious Android will become greater due to the amount of devices carrying the platform, but there may be one little way Apple can counteract Android overtaking iOS, and that is by delivering the much sought after Verizon iPhone, which just lately has been rumoured as coming in January 2011.

The big question I face is, “Do I wait for the iPoe on Verizon, or do I run with the Droid?” I am familiar with the iPod apps which are almost identical to the iPhone. I am looking into an iPad which is the same platform and meshes nicely with my Macbook. Staying in my comfort zone would be nice, and I do use iPod Touches in my classroom, so it benefits me to stay in the Mac platform.

Jumping to and learning the new platform would probably be good for my career, but can I sync all of my hardware and share information between the machines? That will be the big research question I need to address over the next 3 months. I’m am fairly certain that I can push docs out to Google and use that as my home base, since the Droid is their machine and all my other devices can access Google.

Any input from my PLN is greatly appreciated.

The Dunwoody Crier – News: iPad for All

Using the iPad will also be cost-effective. At a price of $500, it compares favorably to a conventional portable, which can cost $2,000 or more. As more publishers put their textbooks online and teachers become more comfortable finding their own apps, the iPad will significantly reduce the need for costly textbooks.

Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia gets education. They are streamlining their technology funding away from obsolete in classroom only tools and giving their students mobile technology that they use anywhere. Take a look at the article and see what I am talking about. Their goal is to go paperless, no textbooks, differentiating learning to students needs.

Granted, the article does not say how the school is funding this initiative, but we as educators buy many things that are offered for free or we can make on our own. Maybe with spending our funds more efficiently and intelligently, more schools could do this.

Of course I am biased towards mobile technology, but why make kids learn in a fishbowl? Let them learn with the tools they are familiar AND can use outside the classroom in the real world.

Posterous: I think I got it

Last week at the KTI Summit, I was shown how to use Posterous.com to create a social media blog feed.  It is easy to use and allows you to post in multiple ways.

I think I figured out how to use the web-clipping tool to work straight from my FireFox browser.  I am still having trouble using the Posterous add on that I downloaded for the main FF toolbar.  I could not get it to load into the toolbar.

I decided on plan B.  I went to this link in Posterous, and just did a click and drag of the icon to my toolbar.  You can see the image below.

Click and drag the icon to your toolbar.

Click and drag the icon to your toolbar.

Once you place it in your toolbar, all you need to do is find something you would like to write about.  Once you find something, highlight it and click on the button in your toolbar.  The highlighted image will be clipped and imported into your Posterous blog.  You have the option of adding your own comments, which is highly recommended. See the image below to see the tab in my toolbar.

Posterous Bookmarklet in toolbar

As I mentioned in a previous post, you can set up your account to automatically push your post out to other social networking sites you have.

Setting up your account this way, with the toolbar tab, allows you post in seconds.  NICE!

KTI 2010: Some things I learned last week, Edmodo

I presented on Edmodo last week at the KTI Summit, but that is not why I am posting this.  I worked formally and informally with many people at the summit on how to incorporate Edmodo in their classrooms.  We worked in the small group sessions, open labs, and even in the dining hall discussing uses and “how to’s.”

I will be using Edmodo as my main classroom platform this year in school.  The main page looks much like a Facebook page, which makes it easy for my students to navigate.  The mobile app for iPods looks like a Twitter feed, it is streamlined and easy to use on mobile devices.

The one plus I brought up in my presentation was the ease of setting up an account and classes.  In a matter of a couple of minutes, you can create an account and classes.  You give your students the class code and they create accounts or log in with existing ones, then they just type in the code and are in your class.  Even if you only run one discussion board a year, Edmodo is the tool to use.  You do not waste time importing students and setting everything up.

Now, back to what I learned at the Summit.  We played with the “public” tab in Edmodo, this allows for any note, file, link, etc. to be pushed out to a public URL, which can then be viewed without logging in to your classroom.  This feature gives me another tool with which to keep parents updated on class events. I can push out my class calendar and any file I feel parents need access to, while keeping other information secure from strangers; all with the click of a mouse.

Another idea we came up with was to group students into general classes, then create sub-groups by period and as needed.  This allows for discussion and interaction between students in different periods, but also gives the teacher the option to push out information to specific groups without everyone else getting it.  This functionality happens by just giving the students your classroom code so they can enroll themselves into your course, then with a couple clicks of your mouse, you can group them as you wish.

I embedded my 30box calendar, that is on the front page of my class wiki, into my Edmodo classrooms, this will allow me to update in 30boxes and show up everywhere I have it embedded.  I can also do the same with a Google calendar or any calendar that embeds in a web page.

Edmodo just enabled the use of folders on the site.  This new development will allow me to better organize all of my links and files.  Instead of having to build a master class for organizing my curriculum, I can just upload everything into folders with detailed names.  This will allow me to open and close information to students as needed, without any hassle.

Last, but surely not least, I have communicate on Twitter with one of Edmodo’s co-founders, Jeff O’Hara on numerous occasions.  He has always been helpful with advice and quick to respond to any questions I have had.  Jeff has also asked for feedback from my students and others to make Edmodo user friendly.  This rates high in my opinion and is the main reason I talk up Edmodo as often as I can.

I have used Moodle, BlackBoard, and Web CT, they work great, but for overall ease of use and free cost, Edmodo is the way to expand your classroom beyond the traditional walls and times.

KTI Summit 2010: Some things I learned last week, Posterous

I have been reflecting on my experiences last week at the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University.  I picked up many new ideas and worked on refining some strategies and tools that I already use in my classroom.  Today’s topic will be Posterous.

I have heard of Posterous before, but never really worked with it.  Posterous is a blogging/social media site that allows you to post various forms of media online and coordinate your posts with other websites you may use, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Here is the link to their FAQ page.  When I got home from the summit, I created an account and in minutes I was up and running.  The site is extremely intuitive to set up.  I created an account, linked my other accounts to Posterous, updated my profile, and found friends who are already using the site.  I have not posted yet, since I have been getting caught up on life after being away for a week at the KTI Summit.  Kristin Hokanson showed in her preso at the summit how to I am looking into the mobile app for Posterous, it may be usable on my iPod, even though it is designed for an iPhone.  The Firefox Toolbar add on is also an item I am looking forward to using in the near future.  The concept is that you can instantly grab web-based articles and information and create a post to be pushed out to other sites.  I will discuss this tool more once I use it more often.

iPods: The new OS 4.0

I recently updated my iPods operating system to the new OS 4.0 and I have only one word to say…..UGH!!!!

The premise for the software upgrade is great, you will now be able to run several apps at the same time, one in the foreground and others in background, which could not happen with the old OS.  The issue is, previously when your iPod went into rest mode the battery life was fantastic, the iPod “slept” and the battery was not affected.  Now I have to re-teach myself a entirely new method of iPod upkeep.

Previously, I could just tap the “home” button, see yellow arrow in image below, to jump out of one app then choose another I would like to use.  I did not have to formally close the application I was using.

Yello arrow points at home button.

Yellow arrow points to home button.

The new software allows for apps to continue which means, even in “sleep” mode the iPods runs, thus draining the batteries.  At the KTI Summit last week, I discussed the issue with Dianne Krause, another iPod/iPhone guru and she assured me that others are having the same issue.  It was nice to know that it was not something stupid I was doing or that my iPod suddenly was having critical issues that were going to shorten its effective life span.

My short term fix to address this issue is to completely shut down the iPod when I am not using it, instead of letting it go to “sleep.”  I used this strategy for the last week or so and it works. The power button is on the image below, a pink arrow is pointing to it.

The pink arrow is pointing to the power button.

The pink arrow is pointing to the power button.

You may say, “So, what’s the big deal Einstein?”  Well, the big deal is, I have to manage iPods on a classroom scale, a cart of 25 which may be used 6 periods a day this upcoming year.  I need to find a stable process to keep the iPods charged and usable for every period.  I proved last year that once you ingrain a technology into your classroom culture, everyone becomes extremely dependent on it.

The long term fix is going to teach my students and myself to formally close out of each app after we are done using it.  After almost a year and a half of use, it will take some time to adjust.  I am hoping that by combining the two fixes I will have a system in place to keep the iPods consistently functioning and reliable for the upcoming school year.

Minor changes like this keeps my understanding of the need to constantly adapt clear.  It also lets me understand why others in education may be weary or leery of making the leap into technology with their students.  Change can be nerve-wracking, I am adapting well with technology, just please don’t ask me to change my pizza toppings.

KTI Summit 2010 part 1

This year was the second year I was able to participate in the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University;  the first as a member of the Summit staff.  My goal after last year’s Summit as an attendee was to become a member of the staff…I achieved that goal.  I watched the long hours and extensive effort last year’s staff put in to make the event a success and wanted to contribute back into the system.  So as soon as last year’s summit was over I began prepping to make the staff.

I presented at various conferences about tools and methods I used in my classes and listened to the feedback, good, bad, indifferent, and ugly about how the presentations went, or were perceived to have gone by the attendees.  I refined and adapted materials accordingly, and kept up to date on the ever changing tools my students and I work with.  Sometimes my students learned of the changes first, and our roles of learner and mentor were reversed.  That’s is fine by me…in today’s world the roles need to be flexible.  I learned that from my PLN, which continues to grow.

As a member of Summit staff, we had many virtual planning sessions, formal via Elluminate, informal via Skype and e-mail.  The staff finally met face to face as an entire group the day before the summit.  There was buzz in the air as we greeted each other and started the on-site preparations.  I was expecting a long, exhausting week, that would grind me down, yet re-energize me from being surrounded with almost 100 innovators in education.  My expectations were correct.  Attendees and staff members alike pushed themselves over 12 hours a day in sessions, both formal and informal sharing ideas and building networks of support.

On top of all of this, my daughter needed medical attention back home.  She was fine in the end, but not being there for her added tons of stress and anxiety to my life.  I would like to thank the staff and attendees who helped support me through those two days.  My friends all jumped in to help me get through it, like I knew they would.  I also had many people who I hardly knew, or had not yet met come up to me and offer support.  I can honestly say, I was not too surprised by this, because of the nature of people who attend the summit, they are there because they care and support others.  Their efforts made a rough situation manageable and was I able to finish my work on staff.

We finished up the summit yesterday, Friday July 30,2010, and most if not all the people I talked with had mixed feelings.  It was great to be going back home to our families, but leaving such a dynamic event, tiring as it could be, and all of the people involved was a bit of a downer.

I hope I was able to contribute helpful information and methods of teaching and learning through my presentations.  I know I learned many new techniques to use in my classroom, even with tools I currently use.  I also strengthened my PLN and made many new friends, whom I am sure I will keep connected too, even if only virtually.  I am hoping to continue attending the KTI Summit in the future, and urge new and past KTI’s to continue their participation in the network.  With so many voices in the conversation, there is no obstacle we can’t overcome to successfully transform education to meet the needs of our current students and those who we will have in the future.