Thursday, July 31, 2008

Omnisio: SuperCool Educational Tool

Google has purchased Omnisio, a site that allows you to take YouTube videos and edit the clips and create new videos to be posted on YouTube.  You can also add PowerPoint slides from services like SlideShare, etc. to the videos.  For those districts who have unblocked YouTube access this could be an awesome creative tool for teachers and students.  I like the ability to create a video lecture with only the specific clips I want and adding slides to the mix where the teacher or student can do the voice over on those slides.  You can then embed the video into a website or wiki.  Awesome! 

- TechCrunch Announcement of Google's Purchase

- Review of Omnisio from KillerStartups

- Omnisio Website

Now, I know some of you are saying.... I can't use this tool, my district blocks YouTube.  Well, Here is what I would advise... Create the video you want using Omnisio, post to YouTube and then download to your hard drive and use at school or send out as an attachment or post to another video hosting service that is not blocked by your district.  I have seen many of these services, but the one I like that allows embedding and has good picture quality is Vimeo

Below is a video from Dan Meyer, a teacher in San Lorenzo Valley, CA, which is just down the road from me.  I got connected to Dan from reading Will Richardson's blog last week and really liked the video below on classroom management and I am a HUGE fan of "The Wire."  I also want to show you the quality from the Vimeo site.

dy/av : 006 : carver's classroom management from Dan Meyer on Vimeo

Does this have the potential to change your teaching... your students learning?  I think so?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Divide: Real and Imagined

The Digital Divide has been an issue that I have personally worked hard to break down and I know that my efforts alone are not going to solve the problem, but I want to do my part to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  Yesterday, there was an article that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News where they published the statistics for Computer Use, Internet Use and Broadband access for people of different ethnic groups.  The results are some what surprising, but not completely unexpected.  

This data is promising and troubling all at the same time.  I was happy to see that Internet use among Asians and Blacks is on a par with White Americans.This means that Asians and Blacks are learning how to use the medium, even if it is only to e-mail or access social networks, and integrating it into their daily lives.  Many of these skills are transferable to other applications and technology tools and will eventually enter students academic lives.  The troubling statistic is that Latinos lag behind all other groups by 20 percentage points in Internet usage and Broadband access.  One can only hypothesize for the reasons, personally I believe that culture, language and the lack of Internet access in Central and South American countries are all contributing factors.  The article also mentioned that in households earning less than $40,000 annually the level of Computer and Internet access is less than 50%.
Programs, like Digital Bridge, at Capuchino High School and Computer Check Out at Woodside can help bring computers and Internet access to many families who currently do not have access. With more than half of all of the people on the planet owning cell phones,  those running on 3G wireless networks will help bring many more Latinos into the digital age. 
While most schools send most school-wide communication home in both English and Spanish, I also think teachers need to work with families who speak languages other than English, by using translation tools like BabelFish and Google Translate to bridge the communications gap. 

Is the "Digital Divide" real?  Yes...  Is it permanent?  No!  Will it disappear tomorrow?  No, but we can see it from here!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Better Than the $100 / EeePC/Classmate PC ?

Today, on the TechCrunch blog, the editor, Michael Arrington, based on a blog post on the Macrumors blog, proposed the creation of the device like the one above.  It would have a browser (Firefox) and Skype and a USB port.  There would be no keyboard, but there were several suggestions in the comments section, like an on screen keyboard like the iPhone, a small USB keyboard or handwriting recognition with a stylus. The unit would also have speakers and a web camera built in.   Arrington wants the retail price to be around $200 and the screen size would be approximately twice the size of the iPhone.

Something like this would be a educator's dream. You could reduce the cost of entry for all students and with the price of access to 3G networks dropping (future blog post) we could have ubuquitous for all students by 2010.  

The unit would have access to all of the things the students want and all of the things teachers want them to have access to.

What do you think?  Is it plausible?  Is it desirable? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Future Trends: How Fast Will We Get to Ubuquitous Access?

There has been quite a bit of discussion about how computing and social networks will create a completely connected world. Just in the past few days there have been more than a few things that have crossed by me that tell me that we are right around the corner from having a completely connected world and as educators, we need to be at the forefront when it comes to using the connectivity our students will have.

Here are some statistics and other items that I have seen lately that make me believe that we will have completely connected students by 2010.
  • A little more than a year ago, more than half the world had never made a phone call, now more than half the population of the world owns a cell phone.  (Quoted in Clay Shirky's interview with Will Richardson last week!)

    Because of the nature of the technology (the ease of being able to interconnect cell towers wirelessly, which decreases infrastructure costs), cell phone penetration has been able to 'leapfrog' other technologies.  In the years between 1998 and 2003 growth rate of cell phones in Africa was over 5,000% mostly because it was cheaper to install cell service than it was to install actual copper or fiber optic cable.  The growth rate of cell phones in the United States between 1995-2004 was over 300%, from 34 million to 159 subscribers.  The rates for these services have also dropped considerably from approximately .25 a minute in 1995 to .06 a minute currently. 

  • Most 3G networks offer Internet access with their service. 
    The newest cell phones run on 3G or 3rd Generation Wireless service, which allows the transfer not just calls, but other forms of data including broadband wireless data and multimedia Internet traffic.  3G networks are growing at a rapid rate, with 200 million subscribers in 2007, which is only 6.7% of the total number of wireless subscribers, but in countries where 3G networks were first introduced (Japan and South Korea), over 50% of the wireless subscribers are now connected to 3G networks.  Most of the 'industrialized world' will have a majority of their subscribers connected to 3G networks by 2010.

    The newest 3G iPhone has a full feature set, including Internet access by connecting to an available wi-fi hot spot or using the phone's own network from the cell phone provider. Apple is also offering a whole new set of applications to be used with the iPhone, all of which are available at the Apple Store.

    Google has been busy in the cell phone market as well.  First, offering over 10 million dollars to developers to build applications for the 'Open Handset Alliance' platform.  Google may also come out with a GPhone as well, as revealed this week.

Yesterday, the editors of the 'TechCrunch Blog' held a round table discussion yesterday in Menlo Park, CA to hypothesize the future of the mobile phone computing platform.  The discussion was streamed over UStream and once I can find it archived someplace, I will embed a copy of the discussion here.

Now, why am I writing all of this now?  Because I got slapped in the face with it last week.  During Summer School, I had a teacher bring me a confisgated cell phone and I called the student in to discuss the matter.  The student quite calmly announced he was typing his paper on his cell phone, so he could access it later from home and perform edits.  He did this instead of writing out the paper long hand and have to type it in later.

More to come soon in this rapidly changing computing landscape....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Snap the Web

A new service,, has launched today that allows you to take a snap shot of any web page, highlight it and share it with others via RSS. Below is a sample snapshot I did of the Edupunk page on Wikipedia.

The service also has a 'Digg' function, where pages that are 'snapped' more frequently are posted on the main page for others to see as they access the service.

From an educational standpoint, this type of application could be invaluable as a way to collect resources and bookmarks prior to a research paper or project. Students could paste their 'snaps' on a single page and use that as the beginnings of their bibliography. The ability to add visual content to bookmarks that are shared is a big plus and also gives students an additional frame of reference for their information.

The Tech Crunch Blog did a big write on Sazell here.

The site is in 'private beta' now, but I just typed in 'TechCrunch' as the invite code and it allowed me to create an account.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Change Agent at Work: Leadership Day

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."
-- Aristotle

How can we expect the students of the 21st Century to be information literate and become digital citizens if we do not provide the training for them to learn and model these skills in schools? This question has been posed to educators for the past decade with a variety of responses; some acknowledging the issue, some in denial that t
he issue exists and others finding a variety of reasons to keep from taking any positive action.

The new ISTE NETS*T standards for teachers was released this week at NECC in San Antonio. They reflect a change in the role of the teacher as someone who 'possesses' the knowledge that students need to learn to someone who teaches students how to interact with the media they come into contact with in an academic and ethical way.
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Over the past ten years, I have been working with teachers to integrate technology and media into their teaching repertoire. I have worked with a great number of teachers who are eager and wanting to move forward in their classrooms. For the most part, I have encountered these teachers at conferences or professional development sessions I have spoken at and found the energy and professionalism of these teachers truly remarkable. These teachers are the few, from among the many who could be doing more to bring 21st Century Skills to the students who are in our classes everyday.

When I was the Technology Coordinator of a school and a little later on of a School District, I would always be reminded by those who didn't want to join the party, "Why should I do this, I am not being evaluated on it?" My reply was always: "You do this because you are supposed to be a professional and work to improve your personal skill set and provide the best education for the students in your classroom." Well, I pushed some forward, not as many as I would have liked to, but some. Capuchino High School has the reputation and can state that they are the most technologically integrated school in the San Mateo Union High School District, but I still think Capuchino has a lot of room for growth.

I looked at the situation and realized that many of the teachers I had spoken with were right. The teachers were not being evaluated on the level of technology integration. Why? Because the administrators responsible had no idea what effective educational technology integration looked like. We haven't trained many of the adminstrators in tech integration, nor did we provide them with any models that they could use for comparison purposes. To some of the admininstrators I spoke with, posting a syllabus online and being able to create a PowerPoint would be considered high level technology integration.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi
Over the past three years, I have worked outside of my local school and district to build educational technology integration. The Google Teachers Academy, The Digital Bridge Project, and a variety of presentations (CUE / CLHS / CTAP) I have done over the past three years have been my efforts to increase the level of tech integration. I also have mentioned on this blog several times, this has been my motivation for moving into the administrative ranks.

So, I may not solve the issue all on my own, but I will definitely be part of the solution and move the agenda forward in my small way!