Friday, August 17, 2007

Google @ School

I had a great opportunity to attend the 'Google @ School' presentations yesterday at the 'Googleplex' in Mountain View, CA. (I'm pictured here with Cheryl Davis and Kathleen Ferenz, whom I presented the GoogleIT sessions this summer and will repeat them in Monterey this November!) There were presentations from many of the teams working on the 'free Google Tools' that have a variety of educational uses. The tools included, Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, YouTube (I found out that one of the YouTube project leads is a Capuchino HS grad), Talk, Calendar and Pages. The best part of the sessions were the testimonials from Northwestern and Arizona State Universities about their implementation of the Google @ School tools and the 'domain page' that allows information technology directors to customize the tools and the level of access students and teachers have to each individual tool.

There is no cost for educational institutions to implement the Google @ School tools and Google can assist you in purchasing a domain name (web site name) where your tools will be hosted for $10 a year. Personally, I piloted this system for the students in Capuchino High School's Global Communications Program to give them access to these tools 24/7/365. Capuchino's Google @ School Page

I this could be a great solution for many educational institutions because Google has assured all educational institutions of the following:
- No cost for Google Apps for Educational users.
- No maintenance for district IT departments.
- Gmail can be filtered and blocked by districts by adding their own filtering, blocking device
- No selling or providing of data to any third parties by Google for the duration of the program.
- Districts have complete control as to which tools students and teachers have access through a dashboard that allows certain functions to be 'turned off.'
- Students can access their data and documents from any Internet accessible computer.

This might not be the right fix now, but it could be something that could be beneficial for all schools. Only time will tell.

If you want to take a look or want more information about Google @ School, check it out here!

Friday, August 03, 2007

World Clock: Running Statistics at Your Fingertips

Ever wanted to visually represent to students how the worlds population is changing in real time? The world clock provided by a site called 'Poodwaddle,' allows you to embed a version of their world clock into your web page or blog. The clock uses sources like the CIA Factbook, World Health Organization and the US Census Bureau to calculate the data. They do make a disclaimer that the data is based on statistical analysis from the sources above and may not be accurate in real time, it is very interesting to see and to have students see how the population of the world is changing all the time. The buttons across the top allow you to view the statistics on an annual, month, day or current basis. The 'Now' button allows you to clear the counters and watch them rise in real time. Take a look below and see how the population of world changes before your eyes...

Poodwaddle also offers a variety of different resources that you can use on your web page or blog for free...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Educational Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

With the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year quickly approaching, (August 14 for me!) I wanted to look at why some projects succeed and others fail. This is important to those of us who are involved in Educational Technology and how the changes in information will change how teachers teach and students learn. Today, I happened across a few blog posts and a news post from from the business field that might shed some light on the future of education and how educators might deal with it.

Presently, there is a summit at Stanford University, where Start Up CEO's are meeting and discussing which growth opportunities will fuel the expansion of the Internet and technology services. Unsurprisingly, these entrepreneurs identified teens as the group driving innovation within the Technology field. KGO-TV did a short piece on the conference and an interview with the host, Tony Perkins of Always On. Watch the Video here!

There were also three blog posts today that fit the idea of teachers becoming entrepreneurs of their own teaching. The first is from Guy Kawasaki's blog, "How to Change the World" and guest blogger, Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin. His post, "On the Other Hand: The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship" listed several ideas that ring true for educators as we change the nature of how we teach. In reading this article, I could see how the motivations to join a start up tech firm (remember most lose money and die!) are very similar to becoming a teacher and how the process of building a start up and a school run parallel paths. The first item, "True believers go nuts at the slightest provocation," rings true with me, since it talks about Jerry Maguire type memos written late at night, outlining new or updated practices for the firm. Count me in, Guilty as charged!

The second blog post comes from Scott Adams', Dilbert Blog. In his "Career Advice" post, Scott makes the case that one of the best ways to get ahead is to be pretty good (top 25%) in more than one thing instead of being the best in only one thing. In education, we are often called upon to do more than what we were 'trained' to do in our student teaching programs. Working with students in extracurricular programs (coaching athletic teams, clubs, etc.) or serving in leadership roles as department chairpersons, WASC group leaders or serving on district level councils. While there are some great teachers that teach in one subject area during their entire teaching career, there are also many teachers that have had to 're-invent' themselves during their career, or had to show they could perform many different tasks to get the job initially. Being flexible and showing the ability to be good at more than one thing is definitely something that is valued in an educational environment and will become even more important in the future. I can count at least 20 different classes, roles, coaching assignments, etc. that I have performed during my tenure in the SMUHSD.

The last blog post I want to mention is David Warlick's, 2Cents Blog post titled, "History = Future?" In this post he makes the statement that classrooms are becoming places where media, technology and information come together and can create rich and deep learning environments for all students. He also states that all teachers and educational institutions will have to acknowledge three things in the next few years.
  • We are preparing children for a future we can not describe
  • We are preparing children, who as a generation, are enjoying a rich information experience outside-the-classroom.
  • We are preparing children within a new and dynamic information environment with new qualities that seem ready made for teaching and learning.
How are we, as teachers and professional educators, going to deal with these issues effectively and what role do other stakeholders (parents, community groups, business, etc.) have in the process?