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EDLD5366 Course Reflections

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment
I can safely — and confidently — say that this was the class that I enjoyed and from which I learned the most. The readings and topics that fascinated me the most were Yearwood's Basic Design Principles (2009) and Basic Elements of Page Design (2009). The concepts of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity were all new to me in this context. Who knew that movie posters and other print materials contained so much information that are invisible to the naked eye? Posture, colors, font size and style (who knew that serif was easier to read in print?), straight lines, symmetry, placement, white spaces… taken separately, these seem mundane, but use these to analyze material and one will be surprised at how much can be revealed. After reading these, one could argue that design is not only an art, but also a science.

Another topic that sparked my interest is Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (Churches, 2007). It lays the groundwork for teaching others how to use technology in the classroom, and considering how every teacher is familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy and how much they adhere to it, buy-in is almost a given. 

This was also evident in the discussion board. It was easy to see that everybody learned a lot from these topics, and the level of engagement reflected this as well. We all learned a lot from the readings and from each other not just with the critic activity, but also in other discussions. I appreciated everybody's constructive criticisms and immediately applied it to my teaching aid.

Like most people, I have never tried, much less had to, design a personal logo and never even considered myself anywhere near what Goldsmith calls, "personally branded" (2007). Nevertheless, this concept of personal branding fascinates me and serves as a reminder that we as educators, whether we like it or not, are now living public lives and that we can take measures to manage this fact and use to our own advantage. Being an avid supporter (and endorser) of Free and Open Source Software or FOSS, I used Gimp to create and design my logo because Adobe's PhotoShop has always been inaccessible to me since I had no use for it and could not afford it anyway, even if I did. It was a humbling experience. I say that because this program is too complicated. No matter how many times I viewed tutorials, no matter how hard I tried to use effects and enhancements, my logo came out rather simplistic. In spite of this, though, creating a logo that reflected my personality and some of my core values was satisfying enough.

The animation project was another interesting project. Time consuming as it was, it was utterly rewarding seeing the end product "move" and make sounds. After conducting some research on product reviews comparing Stykz and Scratch, I first settled with the former. It was easy to use — just clicking and dragging the stick figure's joints and/or whole body, but found it too unenticing. I imagine students would agree with that sentiment. Then I tried Scratch. It was also relatively easy and it had the added benefit of being a lesson on coding using building blocks. That clinched it for me. After all was said and done, I came up with a very simple animation that consisted of a female dancing to the tune of a guitar strumming. I am actually excited to show this to my fellow teachers and with practice (and the help of the video tutorials) I think we could include animation as a teaching medium/strategy in my campus.

In terms of being laborious, the newsletter was the most intensive assignment in this course. I have worked for my school newspaper in high school, but I was neverinvolved in the layout design part. It also did not help that my word processor (OpenOffice's Writer in this case — again, being a FOSS supporter) acted like it knew what I wanted to do yet the words never came out right. Words would nbot spill over to the next page whenever I needed them to, yet they did not hesitate to spill over to the next column when I did not need them to, even when there was still a lot of white space in the previous column. I was almost ready to surrender and publish a one-column newsletter… and that happened more than I would like to admit. Luckily, after three complete overhauls and fresh starts, I was able to master the Frames and Columns features. When I saved it and opened it again later, the words were all over the pages and some were even hiding beyond the pages. Needless to say, it just meant starting over. On my fourth attempt, and before I saved and closed it for later, I hit "Export to PDF." It came out fine, but the white spaces were not acceptable by Yearwood's standards (2009), so I inserted black separators, which inadvertently made a mess of the words again. To cut the story short, I was able to come up with my newsletter after numerous attempts and with nary a tear shed nor a computer broken.

As one can tell, I was able to accomplish a lot by trial-and-error. All these tasks were new to me. On top of that, I do not really consider myself a particularly creative person. I am more of an editor-critic of other people's work. This course posed a real challenge — nay, real challenges week after week and task after task. The video tutorials helped too, but I also had to try it for myself since I am more of an auditory-visual-kinesthetic learner rather than relying on one modality. Lucky for me, this course included a lot of those resources and opportunities instead of relying solely on text or one modality.

To sum it all up, the skills and concepts I have learned in this course would definitely play a big part in my career as a Campus Technologist and as a lifelong learner. Now, more than ever, I feel more prepared to train my colleagues, I feel more confident that I can use programs that have intimidated me before, and I have gained new knowledge that have enhanced my technical know-how. 

References:

Churches, A. (2007). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/8670 

Goldsmith, M. (August 2007). Authentic personal branding. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/sep2009/ca20090929_228578.htm 

Northeast Regional Educational Laboratory. (n.d) Meeting the needs of diverse learners. Retrieved from http://www.netc.org/earlyconnections/pub/sec3.pdf

Yearwood, J. (July 2009). Basic elements of page design. Beaumont, TX: Lamar University.

Yearwood, J. (July 2009). Design principles. Beaumont, TX: Lamar University.

Doodle4Google 2010

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Has your school entered Google's "Doodle4Google" contest yet? It is an art contest wherein students from all over the United States compete to have Google use their "doodle" (as in their logo) on Google's homepage for a day. The winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his/her doodle on it. 

This year's theme is, "If I could do anything I would…"

Details below [from google.com/doodle4google]

Doodle 4 Google

If I could do anything, I would...

icon
  • …Figure out a cure for cancer
  • …Build a movie theater on the moon
  • …Be an underwater explorer

Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to work their artistic will upon our homepage logo. At Google we believe in thinking big and dreaming big, so this year we're inviting U.S. kids to exercise their creative imaginations around the theme, "If I Could Do Anything, I Would …"

We're looking forward to the kids' answers too. Gather those art supplies and some 8.5" x 11"paper and encourage your students to enrich us all with their creative visions for what they would do in the world, if they could do anything.

This year, a group of "Expert Jurors", well-known illustrators, cartoonists and animators from organizations like The Sesame Street Workshop, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, The Charles Shulz/Peanuts Museum and Pixar Animation Studios, will be helping us select the 40 finalist doodles as well as attending our awards ceremony to personally meet our winners.

Registration closes at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time (PT) on March 17, 2010, and entries are due by March 31, 2010 no later than 11:59:59 P.M. Pacific Time (PT). The winning doodle will be featured on our Google.com homepage on May 27, 2010.

Judging and Prizes

Key Dates

School Registration Deadline

March 17, 2010

Early Bird Submissions – 
Win Netbook Computers

March 10, 2010

Doodle Entry Deadline

March 31, 2010

State Finalists and Regional Winners Notified

May 17, 2010

Online Public Vote

May 17-24, 2010

Awards Ceremony and National Winners Announced

May 26, 2010

Winning Doodle on the Google Homepage

May 27, 2010

Grade Groups

The Doodle 4 Google competition is open to all U.S. residents between the ages of 5 and 18 who attend elementary and secondary schools (i.e. grades K-12). In the U.S., doodles will be judged in the following brackets:

  • Grades K – 3
  • Grades 4 – 6
  • Grades 7 – 9
  • Grades 10 – 12

All students attending homeschool are also eligible to participate.

Judging Regions

The competition will run across 10 regions:

Region 1:
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Region 2:
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Region 3:
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
Region 4:
Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
Region 5:
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Region 6:
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Region 7:
Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee
Region 8:
Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Region 9:
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Region 10:
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

Judging Process

400 State Finalists

Up to 400 doodles from across the country will be chosen by a panel of independent "Expert Jurors" and Google employees based on which doodles they feel best represent the "If I Could Do Anything, I Would…" theme. In each state, 2 doodles will be selected in each grade group, meaning that each grade group and each state will be equally represented. Entries from the District of Columbia will be judged along with entries from Maryland.

40 Regional Finalists

Our "Expert Jurors" will choose 40 top doodles as Regional Finalists. In each of the ten Regions, each grade group will have one winner. These Regional Finalists will be displayed in a gallery on the Google.com website. The U.S. public will then vote for the doodles they believe best capture the theme "If I Could Do Anything, I Would…".

4 National Finalists

An awards ceremony for the 40 Regional Finalists will be held at the Google New York office on May 26, 2010. On that day we will announce the four National Finalists chosen by the U.S. public (1 per grade group).

1 National Winner

Finally, one of the four National Finalists will be awarded "National Winner of Doodle 4 Google" and the national winner's doodle will 'go live' on the Google homepage for 24 hours.

Judging Chalkboard

Prizes

National Winner – College Scholarship

The National Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of his/her choice, a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his/her doodle on it. We'll also award the winner's school a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.

Three National Finalists – Laptop Computers

Each of the other three National Finalists will win a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010, a laptop computer, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle on it.

Smithsonian Exhibit and Trip to New York

Each of the other 40 Regional Finalists will win a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010 and a t-shirt printed with their doodles on it. All 40 Regional Finalists will also have their doodle displayed in a public exhibit at the Smithsonian's, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for 6 weeks after the announcement event.

State Finalists – Doodles Published on the Web site

Each of the other 400 State Finalists will receive a "Doodle 4 Google" official winner's certificate and will be featured on the Doodle 4 Google contest web site.

Extra Credit – Technology Booster Awards

This year, we are giving out eight (8) Technology Booster awards for schools who submit their doodles by March 10, 2010. The awards consist of 20 netbook computers for public or private schools or 2 netbook computers for homeschools who submit the maximum amount of doodles for their school by March 10, 2010 (doodles must be received by this date). 

Schools who are eligible to win this award are those who submit either six (6) doodles if they are a public or private school or two (2) doodles if they are a homeschool. These schools must also have a student selected as one of the 400 State Finalists. We will also be looking at the highest cumulative quality scores of the State Finalists doodles as part of the awards criteria. Awards will be announced on May 17, 2010 when we post the 400 State Winners.

[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.

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