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Archive for January, 2010

[From Mashable] “Apple iPad: A Comprehensive Guide”

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Color me disappointed. It was actually the first time I got excited for an Apple product, considering Michael Arrington quoted (2nd- or 3rd-hand?) Steve Jobs as saying something like, “This is the most important thing I’ve ever done.” Well, I believe he’d say something like that. He’s quite known for taking full credit for somebody else’s/a whole company’s/division’s work….

Presentation: Oppe STaR Chart Analysis

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Presentation:Oppe STaR Chart Analysis
According to the StaR Chart, our campus’ greatest strength is in the Key Area of Infrastructure for Technology, where we are classified as Advanced Tech in 2006-07 and 2008-09. Additionally, we have achieved Target Tech classification level in Internet Access Connectivity and Speed. I agree with this assessment with just one reservation: that it is unclear whether we really have, “Teacher cadres (who) have been established to create and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture, and support faculty in using technology to maximize teaching and learning.”

On the other hand, the StaR Chart shows that our campus’ greatest weakness is in the Key Area of Educator Preparation and Development, especially in the focus areas of Access to Professional Development (classified as Early Tech in 2007-08) and Professional Development for Online Learning (classified as Developing Tech for all three years.) I agree with this as this is the chief complaint in three campuses that I have worked in (in the same district), as well as among my colleagues in other schools and school districts. In the two campuses that I serve, it is quite apparent that teachers do not have a full grasp of how to integrate technology into their daily lessons, or even to gather sources for teaching and lesson planning. We discuss a few online resources and computer programs that teachers and students can use to supplement regular instruction, but full professional development sessions for such resources have been sparse. I humbly submit that his would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development, as well as Instructional Support, another area of need for these campuses.

This issue is highly critical as we cannot expect teachers to fully implement the Technology Applications TEKS, not to mention attain the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, if they do not become technology proficient themselves and receive the requisite professional development. Again, this would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development as well as instructional support. Interestingly, this position was eliminated two years ago, and we now only receive infrequent inservice (brief at that) from one specialist for all elementary schools in my district. My campus and the district as a whole may have adequate (and improving) physical infrastructure, but the human infrastructure still has a lot of room to grow.

The Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006-2020 and Educator Preparation and Development

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment
One of the Key Areas of the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006-2020 is Educator Preparation and Development. This key area addresses the professional development needs of teachers and all members of the education community. It is further broken down into the following Focus Areas: Professional Development Experiences, Models of Professional Development, Capabilities of Educators, Access to Professional Development, Levels of Understanding and Patterns of Use, and Professional Development for Online Learning. 

To achieve the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, continuous professional development for educators in using and integrating technology in teaching and learning must be top priority. Statewide progress in this endeavor has been slow, and gains have been modest. Based on the Campus Statewide Summary by Key Area in Academic Year 2006-2007, 0.7% or 55 of 7752 campuses were classified Target Tech, 17% (1321) Advanced, 74% (5739) Developing, and 8.2% (637) Early Tech. The following year (AY 2007-2008), 0.6% or 44 of 7641 campuses were classified Target Tech, 19.9% (1520) Advanced, 74.2% (5668) Developing, and 5.4% (409) Early Tech. In the most recent summary from last year (AY 2008-2009),  0.6% or 48 of 7848 campuses were classified Target Tech, 23.8% (1864) Advanced, 71.1% (5580) Developing, and 4.5% (356) Early Tech. Noticeable trends include: the number of campuses achieving Advanced Tech classification have increased steadily, while those classified Target Tech have fluctuated, and those classified Early Tech dwindled.

My campus (Oppe Elementary School) reflects this plodding and fluctuating progress in this Key Area. In 2006-2007, we scored a total of 13 and classified as Developing Tech. The following year, our scored dropped to 11 when our Access to Professional Development was rated 1 or Early Tech. Last year though, we moved up to 14, scoring 3 or Advanced Tech in the focus areas of Models of Professional Development and Levels of Understanding and Patterns of Use. Additionally, we have yet to achieve a rating of 4 or Target Tech classification on any individual focus area of Educator Preparation and Development, while the only 4 we attained was in the key area of Infrastructure for Technology, focus area Internet Access Connectivity and Speed.

Needless to say, this dismal progress leaves much to be desired. This issue is critical as we cannot expect teachers to fully implement the Technology Applications TEKS, not to mention attain the goals of the Texas Long-Range Plan, if they do not become technology proficient themselves and receive the requisite professional development. Again, this would easily be addressed if each campus has a designated person for technology professional development as well as instructional support. Interestingly, this position was eliminated two years ago, and we now only receive infrequent inservice (brief at that) from one specialist for all elementary schools in my district. My campus and the district as a whole may have adequate (and improving) physical infrastructure, but the human infrastructure still has a lot of room to grow. 

Microsoft Releases Visual Language Programming Tool for Kids, Kodu

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment
Microsoft Releases Visual Language Programming Tool for Kids, Kodu

Microsoft researcher Matt MacLaurin came up for the idea for Kodu in his kitchen in the fall of 2006, noticing the way his three-year-old daughter watched her mom browse away on Facebook. MacLaurin saw how different computing is now than when he was a kid. While his Commodore Pet was like a lump of clay that he could mold by writing software in Basic, his daughter's generation is using computers whose functions are already set in stone.

So he set about creating a new developer language that would appeal to the current generation of kids. He settled on one that would work with just a game controller, using basic rules to do things like move an apple across the screen.

A few months later, the idea was working code. MacLaurin had created Boku, an all new programming language that could be run on an Xbox using only the console's controller to craft basic logic. MacLaurin showed it at the 2007 TechFest internal science fair and later that year at an emerging technology conference.

"That's just in our DNA," MacLaurin said. "We don't really trust something until it is on our screen."

Kodu, the final name for Boku, got its big-time debut in 2009, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed the program, as part of his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Now, Microsoft is bringing Kodu to the PC.

MacLaurin said the company had to do a fair amount of work to make Kodu work with a mouse as opposed to the controller. Most of that work is done, he said, but the company is releasing the PC version of Kodu as a technology preview to get more feedback before declaring the release final.

Already in its current form, Kodu has found its way into 200 schools and there have been more than 200,000 downloads of the free software. MacLaurin said moving the tool to the PC and mouse will allow schools to use it without needing any special hardware.

The software has also become popular in his own home, where he and his daughter work on Kodu tasks together.

"We use it together," he said, noting that at 5, his daughter is still younger than the 9-year-old age at which kids really start gravitating to Kodu. What he likes, though, is the logic skills it teaches her and the kinds of questions it creates in her mind. "It's an opportunity to have conversations you don't really have in other settings," MacLaurin said.

MacLaurin, who worked at Apple for five years, left after working on the Newton to form his own company and joined Microsoft in 2003. After spending most of his tenure in Microsoft's research labs, he recently moved to become part of Lili Cheng's Fuse Labs project.

LINKS:

KODU Game Lab (MICROSOFT): 

DOWNLOAD KODU FOR TECHNICAL PREVIEW HERE: http://large.cdn.glg.com/fuse/bits/KoduSetup-General-1.0.21.0.msi