No, BYOC does not mean bring your own cocktail although there are days… <Smile> what it does mean is to bring your own computer to the classroom. Now this is not a new topic to education but today I am going to give it a slightly different spin that just might cause a few folks to think I have lost my mind. Well… That ship sailed a few years back.
So, how did I get to this thought process? It came to me from two fronts. The first was the concept of student owned computers on a campus. The second was my nephew and 20 grand in tools. We’ll start with the latter.
My nephew is an auto mechanic. Upon graduation he found a job and began a very healthy post-graduation investment in tools and tools and more tools. One afternoon while working on my truck, I asked him what he had invested in that tool chest. Twenty grand he said followed by I have about half of what I need. I then asked him what the shop where he worked supplied. He responded with Freon evacuation system, diagnostic computer, lifts etc… Basically the big items.
The other half of this thought process began when the superintendent said she wanted each school to have campus wide wireless access. Knowing the current budget in the state and the number of wireless devices, this forces the question of student owned computers. To the small group in the room, we thought… Why not? (The first group of teachers were not so agreeable but that is another post.)
Following that discussion, a group of teachers and administrators began considerations on what equipment should be in the classrooms which of course included the replacement cycle of classroom computers as well as the type of computer that were being purchased. Which of course lead to my current thoughts.
What if… schools began working in a similar fashion to other skilled industries. (Yes, I said skilled.) Districts will provide some basics to the classroom. The teacher has the option to stick with the basics or bring in their own equipment. In truth, we teachers have been doing this for years. The IT group told us we couldn’t do it with computers.
My first pass at this thought process; the district would provide the following:
A teacher work station. This would be replaced as the budget allows. However, it could be in expected to run for 5 to 8 years.
Wired and wireless network access.
Web based student information system for attendance.
Web based grade book.
Enterprise class email system. Teachers could access the system via web client or installed client.
Productivity software, for example Office for PC or Mac. (Teacher installed)
Video projector mounted in the classroom.
Interactive Whiteboard or Pen device and Document cameras are considered big ticket items in my mind and worthy of debate.
If a teacher chose to have a more up-to-date computer, they would be allowed to bring in a desktop or laptop computer. The teacher would be responsible for:
Maintaining antivirus software.
Care and maintenance for their own computer.
Appropriate licenses for all software contained on the computer.
Maintaining a computer that is free of material considered not suitable for education.
I am quite certain if this topic were discussed with the intention of implementation, the list would grow and that is okay. What the topic does… It gives those teachers with the desire and the financial means to use up-to-date technology in their classroom to help students learn without being hindered by budget and IT restraints.
Not a day goes by that I do not hear something about Open Source software. This could have something to do with the side of education I work in and/or the current state of the economy. Now, before I dive into my rant, I do want to make it clear I am not against free anything and free software falls into that category. However, with very few exceptions in my life, nothing I receive has ever been free; (one must consider cost beyond currency). On the software topic, I do have my open source favorites. Audacity, Format Factory and VLC media player are among my favorites. I am also a big fan of Moodle. Even among these four software titles, I have run into issues with the software or trying to deploy the software throughout a network. Where did I find help? Open source fanatics would say reach out to the community… Uh… Yeah… Thanks for the help community. What I discovered… I was not the first person looking for a solution to the problem. Oh and “looking” is the operative word in that sentence. Heck, I would have been willing to pay for support in these cases had there been someone to pay! (I know, I know… The software is free!)
Like many who are reading this post, I belong to several listservs. Sure, it is so old school but the technology works. For whatever reason there appears to be a feeling of animosity toward several companies. Members of the list are looking for ways to do business without using these companies. It is not that the software is bad; they feel the software is expensive. Personally, I don’t disagree that it is expensive but expensive is relative to how much money I have to spend, how badly I need a product and how innovative is the product. “Innovative” is the operate word in the sentence.
Over the years, I have seen wonderful advancements in software and most of the developers of this software have a strange desire to eat and pay their bills. In other words, they would like to get compensated for their work. This includes the companies who pay them to design, develop and improve the software. In this case improve is synonymous with innovate. Where does innovation come from? I will give you a hint… It comes from market research, focus groups and old fashion customer feedback. The problem is, gathering that type of information cost money.
So where does this leave open source? Sure, in some cases these programmers are filling a void in the market or they are playing with an idea in their off hours. In other cases and, the part that concerns me, is the building of a knock off version of an existing product.
Honestly, I don’t care if the knock off product exists. What concerns me is building our future or running our organizations on software that has little-to-no support or innovation.
As I close out this rant, I will attempt to spin this in one more direction. Software is not really tangible. It can be downloaded, traded, reverse engineer etc… In essence it is the intellectual property of those who developed it and you can’t really touch it. Because of this, people try to de-value it, build it cheaper or for free, basically, open source it. Sounds good right… Right… So here are a few other things I would like to see the open source community start working on. Open Source:
Food and Beverage
Cars, Trucks and Motor Cycles
Boats and Personal Water Crafts
Television and Movie Programming
Clothing and Shoes
Oh… I had to pay for this computer I am typing on so why not the full computer hardware industry too!
Yeah… I don’t think it will fly either but it is worth a shot!
Thanks for reading today. Comments are always welcome.
oh… My blog runs on open source Word Press but I have to pay for the hosting service. Hmmm
Late last year I changed jobs and I now have a unique situation where I work with and for two separate districts. It sounds like fun and it is. However, it does create a few challenges.
We all know email is a wonderful tool but managing two separate email systems with two separate calendars and contact list is a royal pain. For a few weeks I would send and appointment form one district email system to the other and vice versa but needless to say a few appointments were missed on each calendar and this created issues when trying to schedule meetings. What I really needed was an assistant to keep track of me but let’s face it, no one deserves THAT job.
Then one day I was talking to a person in the office about his Android phone and his issues with synchronizing his calendar. He told me that he was using the Google Calendar with Outlook Sync to keep the phone updated. I thought what a pain, I love my BlackBerry. Then later that night it hit me. (Actually is was 2 AM.) Could I use The Google Calendar to sync up two different Outlook (Exchange) Calendars? A few minutes on the web reading and YAHOO, the answer is yes.
Here is how I do this… You will need:
Two computers running XP or higher.
Note: Google doesn’t support 64 bit XP (at this time). To be honest I am not sure if it will work on 64 bit anything as my computers are running 32 bit Windows 7.
Office 2003 or Office 2007 (I tried Office 2010 Beta but it wouldn’t work.)
Install Google Outlook Sync on each computer
When installing the Outlook Sync set the software to two way sync.
I set my Sync time to every 15 minutes.
As long as each machine is logged in with Outlook running, my calendars are synchronized. Every 15 minutes District A computer will sync to the Google Calendar. Then District B computer will do the same.
In other words if I schedule an appointment at the Elementary District it will be transferred to the Google Calendar every 15 minutes. Then that appointment will be transferred to the High School District every 15 minutes.
It is a bit of a pain but it works much better than what I was doing.
Now if I could only get one of these companies to take care of my Task and Contacts life would be even better.
Okay way back when Office 2007 came out, they had a blog template built in. However the first time I tried to use it, I was not able to connect it to my GoDaddy hosted WordPress blog. Bummer, yeah but I moved on and went back to writing in Word then used my old trusty copy and paste commands.
The week after rebuilding my old Sony computer with the restore CD and running the 5 hours of updates I noticed to some cool new additions in the Windows Live Essentials Arena. One of them obviously is this tool! You really should check out the rest of them. http://download.live.com/
Oh one thing for those of you now running Windows 7 and were a fan of Movie Maker… It isn’t there so you will have to visit the Windows Live page to get it. But, you may not be happy as it has changed and in my opinion not for the better. However that is a rant for another time. Today I am focusing on whether or not I can type and post in this tool.
Image of Windows Live Writer…
Now to be honest, I am not planning to run through all the cool features yet… However, if this post works well, I just my find myself using it in the future. That is if I have something to write about!
Enjoy your weekend or day or…. Well you get the picture.
I have been on Twitter for a few years now. Admittedly I am not an avid Twitter user mostly because what I am eating is not that interesting. But there are times I find it fascinating to see what other folks are up to. However, from day one on Twitter, I have always been cautious of who I follow for the same reason I am cautious about who I hang out with in real life. Some folks are into things I am not into and other folks are into things that really are for private life.
Today I opened up my email to see an alert message from Twitter telling me DelmaSoto448 is now following me. Now I don’t know Demo so I thought I have better check her out before I agree to follow her back. The image you see below is the edited version of here profile picture and to be honest, I was hesitant to post this version.
The point we need to take away from this post is simple. Choose your social networks friends as you would your in person friends. Find out a little about that person first; Google or Bing them, read some of their post on Twitter before you follow them. Your online reputation is as important as your in person reputation. And once it is on the web, it is there forever!
No, really, I was in Purgatory, Colorado, in a lovely 1 bedroom condominium which I thought would be far better than the Holiday Inn and it was less money. Plus, Expedia said this place had free WIFI. Life is good for this Road Warrior who chooses hotels based on free WIFI, a coffee maker and a tiny refrigerator in the room. But this particular trip I had the family with me so the extra room was a must.
Regardless of the fact, I was really in Purgatory, Colorado; I was also in internet hell. To be honest, I am sitting in hell at this moment typing this post. However, I will need to wait until I get home to post it. Why you ask? Because I am in Purgatory.
Okay, so the point I am really working toward is cloud computing. I live in Phoenix and internet connectivity even on my Verizon Wireless card for my laptop works well. However, here in Purgatory, my speed is awful! Normally my web based mail that loads in under 10 seconds is taking 3 minutes to load. Replying to email, another 3 and… well you get the picture. This is bad.
So getting back to my long time concern with cloud computing. These web based applications work very well if you live in a major metropolitan area. For that matter, they may work well down the road in Durango. But up here on the mountain, I am all but out of luck. And what about the other folks that live in the area? What about the folks who live up the road in Silverton?
Now I do realize there will be a few (thousand) cloud computing fans that I will completely alienate with this post but I feel cloud computing is not ready for prime time. I would also add to the argument that now I work on the road and spend 5 to 10 hours a week in an airplane, cloud computing doesn’t work even when you are soaring through the clouds. J
Okay, so that is my quick vent on the internet in Purgatory. For those who love cloud computing, bring on the arguments.
I sat down at my computer this past week and attempted to load Moodle on my hosted web site. Luckily, for me, the process is quite simple. Click the link that reads, “Install”. The short of the long story here is I was successful in installing Moodle but that is not the real reason for this post. The real reason for the post is the reason for installing Moodle in the first place. I have created two classes and placed them on my Moodle Server for all to enjoy.
The first class is titled Exploring Web 2.0 and when I started to write this class, my intention was to make the course available to the world once it had been vetted. Well, I have run this class twice with a few teachers in PUSD and outside of being told, it was very rigorous, the course is now ready. To be clear, I am not going to provide feedback if you choose to work through this course however, if you are interested in Web 2.0 and you are willing to do some work on your own, this is a great opportunity. It is also important to realize this is course is not a definitive course on Web 2.0. The course was completed in late 2008 so there is an outstanding chance there are new Web 2.0 tool available that are not in the class. Welcome to Web 2.0, new tools are created daily!
The second class is titled Multimedia and Moodle and it is really not a class but more of a framework of a topics I taught in a live class. Students who participated in the course had an opportunity to learn how to create audio and video to embed into their own Moodle courses. It is notable that the students who participated in this course were using Windows based computers. I do realize there are different methods when using a Macintosh however those are not included in this course. In time, I hope to add to this course thus making it truly on-line.
Finally, I have made these two courses available for you to use on your Moodle LMS if you so choose and they are licensed under Creative Commons.
Are you ready to check out these two courses? Click this link. At the login screen, choose Guest.
One of my favorite things to teach people is what they can do with a product they own that they didn’t know about! Think about it, do you ever read the instruction manual? Of course you don’t. That is why it is so much fun to see a person’s face light up when they learn something and that is what I hope to do now.
The video link below is the long version of a demo I have done during live workshops called “Boring to Bitchen in 60 Seconds”. Because of the screen recording slowed me down a bit, the video is 3 minutes but it is well worth your time.