Tag Archives: school
Back to School Apps
I recently appeared on Global Television’s morning show discussing a few back-to-school apps. You can catch the recording below.
Obviously, there are better apps than the ones I listed. But, I wanted to give viewers a good range of what kinds of tools are available.
Why Publish Student Work to the Web?
Here is yet another compelling reason why we should encourage posting student work to the Web. Enjoy this beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide from elementary students of the PS22 Chorus in New York City.
From the comments, “What does Stevie think of this?” (
although I can’t confirm validity – confirmed here).
Just got word from Stevie Nicks tour manager that she was completely blown away by the PS22 Chorus rendition of her song “Landslide!” He said she asked him to replay 2 times afterwards, crying each time she watched! Talk about humbling!! And the kicker?? She invited the PS22 Chorus to sing the song at Madison Square Garden for the upcoming June 11th Fleetwood Mac show!! Holy cow!!!
It will be interesting to see if the RIAA feels the same way.
If you want to know more about this group and their story, I’d recommend reading “Glee Club” from The Brooklyn Rail. From that story …
It’s unusual, but it works. In a school where more than three quarters of the students are eligible for free lunch, the lyrics of the song have resonance, and the performance is haunting, emotive, and delivered with far more soul than one might expect from a bunch of fifth-graders.
Catch this while it is real. Don’t wait for the movie.
Talkin’ About School & Society
My colleagues, Dr. Patrick Lewis and Dr. Marc Spooner, are initiating a series of informal discussions that will hopefully help bridge the spaces between university scholars and the general public, and hopefully result in some very important conversations with people in our community. I am excited that I have been asked to lead off the first conversation which will be themed around “The New Interactive Classroom: Education, teaching & globalization.” See the official poster below:
Come join us for snacks, drinks, and most importantly, conversation. Invite anyone who would be interested, and it doesn’t have to be people connected directly to education. We’re hoping for a great turnout!
This first event is scheduled for November 24/2008, 7-9 p.m. at the upper level of La Bodega in Regina, Saskatchewan. I hope to see you there!
10 Worst Consumer Tech Trends – Education Edition
PC World has released an instantly popular list of the “10 Worst Consumer Tech Trends“. As soon as I read the list, it was easy to see the parallels in education. Thus, here’s my educational take on the list.
10. Closed Source Technology – I’ve been an advocate of FLOSS for quite a few years now, in fact, my dissertation had much to say about the topic. While we are nowhere near a world where Linux is ubiquitous, we’ve made a lot of progress through Firefox, Open Office and newer software like Google Android for mobile devices. In my courses, I make use of our Windows and Mac machines, but introduce many open source apps on the desktop. As well, Linux Live CD’s are used often to get beyond the tyranny of the desktop.
While we have a long way to go, my best indication of how far we’ve come is that the terms “open source” and “free software” (not simply a the “free in beer” sense) have become much more common in conversations with my non-techy students and colleagues. I think there are many experiencing a mental shift, however, we need to catch up through user interface and viral marketing approaches.
9. Over-promising and under-delivering: I’m still convinced that salesmen do more educational technology planning than educational administrators. I know of institutions locked-in to student administration systems like SCT Banner for periods of more than 10 years when (I’ve been told) there are other open source solutions available. I hear nothing but complaints from institutional users of Blackboard, people who’d rather learn Moodle on their own than go with the supported, Blackboard “solution”. IBM Learning Village is a common “instructional portal” in many school districts, one that has been abandoned by many teachers in favour of flexible, free environments, services like Ning.
And while we’re talking “over-promising, under-delivering” we can go beyond the issue of proprietary software. Larger, conceptual frameworks like course/student/learning management systems or just about any monolithic learning “solution” (or learning theory for that matter) can be critiqued in a similar manner.
8. Fanboys: “The definition of fanboy (or fangirl) is an individual who harbours a fanatic devotion to something without logical reason.” While at times I might be considered an Apple fanboy, I’d argue that I’m promoting a particular concept more than an specific product. I wrote a while back re: the Apple iTouch and the potential implications for learning. And while I love my iTouch, I was more critical to the fact that I needed to Jailbreak it before it actually became a usable, personal learning device.
And in relation to this point, I’m witnessing a disturbing trend in some parts of the edublogosphere as of late. I’ve ditched several, (once) trusted blogs from my reader in the past few weeks due to their less-than-critical, over-promoting of certain Web 2.0 tools and services. Note to those (few) edubloggers: if you’re on the take, your readers deserve full disclosure.
7. Region-encoding: I couldn’t think of how this applied to education in any significant way. Any ideas?
6. Licensing fees: Put simply, I do everything I can to avoid any content or products where licensing is required. I promote freely available media through such sources as the Creative Commons and Archive.org. As well, I nurture a learning environment where learners become producers nearly as much as they are consumers. At the same time, I do recommend exemplary copyrighted works, and do understand this livelihood model. However, the bar has been raised in relation to what I will spend money on. In this abundance economy, I need a strong demonstration of “value-added” before I ever consider pulling out my credit card.
5. Format wars: I haven’t much to say on this topic other than getting into a rant on the Open Document Format, and others have said it better. Anyone?
4. Proprietary file formats: Most proprietary products produce proprietary formats out of the box. Whether it’s a .doc, AAC or even .mp3, these formats can cause a huge issue, proprietary file format lock-in.
3. Annoying web ads: I won’t get into a rant against web-advertising. I am one of those people that pays to make my learning environments ad-free. For instance, I pay about $20/month to turn the ads off in my Ning groups, and I pay a smaller fee for my Wikispaces pages. For those in K-12, it’s great that you can turn off the ads in both of these services for free.
2. High cost of wireless data plans: It’s remarkable how many of my students have mobile phones. Even when I visit K-12 classrooms, the number of cell phones is high. For now, I can only dream of the possibilities for mobile learning. Our data plans in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada are simply too expensive to do anything creative. And beyond that, we’re not even at 3G yet. Maybe someday.
1. DRM: If DRM has done anything for our education system, it’s helped to nurture authentic, problem-based learning activities in our hacking communities. DRM does not work. It will never work. The system has to change. We are now seeing the power of an emerging, decentralized era. See Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.
That’s it. Would love to hear your thoughts.