Disappointed

October 30, 2007 § 2 Comments

I’ve been holding onto this thought for almost two weeks now, but I put a comment on Tim’s blog about it so I might as well just come right out and say it here, too.

I was really disappointed in David Warlick’s pre-conference keynote.

I check his site frequently, and have learned a lot from his posts, but I guess I thought his keynote looked a little too amatuerish to have come from one of the great Web 2.0 gurus.

I was so distracted by the bad editing and the rambling that I couldn’t finish watching it.

I guess everyone has their forte.  Maybe video isn’t David’s.

Just my 2¢ Worth.

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Projector replacement cycles

October 30, 2007 § Leave a comment

So, we’re running into some problems with projectors in my district.

Evidently, about 5 years ago, one of our campuses went out and bought the cheapest projectors they could find with grant money.  Now, those projectors are dying at an alarming rate and the teachers who are used to using them are getting frustrating and angry, understandably so.

The problem is, they were purchased 5 years ago, and while our district has been pretty progressive about replacing computers, I don’t think anyone ever thought about replacing projectors.

Projectors are very quickly coming into their own.  In fact, our district has a plan that every classroom will have a Smart Board and a mounted projector within 3 years, but now I’m starting to wonder if anyone has thought about a replacement cycle for projectors.

What is your district doing?  What is the plan, what is the life cycle?

Feeling better about not participating

October 29, 2007 § 2 Comments

So I’ve tackled RSS now, and have found that it’s a lot easier to check my blogs.  Of course, it doesn’t take as much time as it used to, so now I have more time to do other things, like checking out Twitter.

It seems like the “in” thing that all the cool kids are talking about, and I just don’t get it.  I signed up for an account and picked some folks to follow, but you know what?  I just don’t care.  I don’t care to find out every little thing these people are doing,  and why in the world would you want to know, unless it was your best friend or wife or someone close that you’re missing because you’re far away.

I just didn’t get it, and now, I feel better about not getting it after reading Doug’s post.  At least I’m not the only one.

To carry on with Doug’s theme of not caring about things, I stopped caring about pop music a long time ago too.  I started listening to country music when I first moved to Texas, and the modern country songs seem to have a lot of the story telling qualities that the pop songs of the past used to have.

As for podcasts, I do subscribe to a few, including the morning show from Chicago that we used to listen to when we lived there because, quite frankly, the morning drive in San Antonio is about as crappy as they get.  I also subscribe to A Prairie Home Companion podcast, which I’m happy that they’re now releasing.  I used to love listening to it with my parents when I was younger, and now I can enjoy it on my morning drive.  There are only two other podcasts that I listen to in my car – Coverville, which is, in my opinion, very entertaining because it’s music, and a lot of the times the music I grew up with, covered by other bands, which is always fun.  The last one I subscribe to is Real Time with Bill Maher because my wife doesn’t like him, so I don’t watch him when he’s on.

I’ve found some good educational podcasts, but I just don’t have as much time to listen as I do to read, so I listen to a couple of them when I get a chance, but not that often.

I guess it’s all about what you’re doing in your own practice.  I’m trying to pull teachers into web 2.0 stuff, but it’s still in it’s infancy, so doing the things which are easy to explain their educational merit is what I focus on.  I would love to podcast myself, but for the moment, the state tests don’t focus on speaking, they focus on reading an writing, and blogging lends itself to that.

Maybe some of our educational pioneers will show us the way with twitter and the like, and how they can benefit education, but until I can get more people into the present, I don’t think it’s worth my time to mess with it.  Is that a bad attitude to have?

Reflecting

October 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

It’s funny the random paths that searches will lead you down.

This evening, I indulged myself in a vanity search and found that my research from my master’s degree had been posted to an archive site, of sorts. Seeing as how it’s been about 3 years since I even looked at my research documentation, I went back and read through it all.

To be quite honest, reading it now, it looks kind of thin, but it was the hardest year of my life up to that point.

I found my research journal, which was not in blog format, even though it was 02-03. We all used blogger for a bit but a lot of us dropped it after the one class it was required for because it just seemed like another thing to keep up with. The fact that so many of us in my cadre rejected it is kind of funny now, and it caused the instructor fits. She had suggested it to us, and a bunch of people complained about how much harder it was to update than just going into dreamweaver and typing on our own journal page.

My God, we were geeks.

Now I can’t imagine not using a blogging tool. I sigh deeply every time I have to open dreamweaver now because it takes so darn long to load.

At any rate, as I was reading through my non-blog journal, I came across an entry that struck a chord with me (again – because it really struck a chord when I wrote it, too).

April 8

My frustration with the staff became apparent, I believe, which led to people requesting less help from me in the last few months. I am working very hard to restore the staff’s confidence in me as a technology expert and someone who is willing to help. I have found that having someone that is reliable, friendly, and willing to help is as important, if not more important, than having the know-how and the technology. I have not been very excited about teaching technology to adults over the past 2 months, and the teachers on my staff can see it. They want to learn, but they are afraid to ask me for help. This became very apparent to me when one of my friends on staff told me about another teacher she had been talking to. This teacher is getting ready to retire, and calls me at least 3 times a week to tell me that her printer isn’t working and that she has forgotten how to email me. She called me at home over a weekend to ask how to turn off the laptop she had borrowed because it had frozen. I wasn’t angry with her calling, but I guess I didn’t sound thrilled to hear from her either. She told my friend that I had sounded upset that she had called, and my friend said she sounded as if she might be afraid of me now. I know that she was only kidding me, in part, but it really hit home with me. I’m in a business where I have to be the cheerleader and if I want teachers to really start using the technology, I have to be there cheering them on, making them feel good about what they can do, and helping them with what they cannot do. I am making a concerted effort now to put on my ‘game face’ even if I’m not feeling up to it.

So, yeah.  I guess I need to put on more of a ‘game face’ when I think about writing posts like this one and try to remember that not everyone is in the same place that I am with technology, and that not everyone is going to be nice about it.  But I think what I really need to remember is that the teachers I help with a smile and a good attitude will be the ones who are ambassadors for my department and who will help us spread the use of technology throughout the district.

What to use…

October 20, 2007 § 1 Comment

As I lay here in bed, waiting for my daughter to wake up from her nap, I’m playing around with two of my favorite tools on the web right now.

Pageflakes and Google Reader.

I have come a little late to the RSS game, and I guess it’s just breaking old habits.  I have all of my favorite sites bookmarked and I kind of like going to each one to see if the owner has updated their banner or if there’s new pictures, or maybe something new in the sidebar that I’d be interested in.  People take a lot of time (sometimes) designing and laying out their site, and I sort of felt like I was cheating if I just pulled the text to read somewhere else…like looking at photos of classic paintings instead of going to the museum to see them in person.

But I get it, having everything in one spot to be able to check at a glance, not having to wait for a page to load to see if there’s something new.  And yet, I still go back to the sites every now and then to see the design.

My dilemma now is which I like better.  Pageflakes is cool because you have all the sites in little windows, with at least part of the text from the RSS feed there, so you can see right away if you want to read it or not.  With Google Reader, it’s all there in your front page, too, but you have to scroll to see them all (if there’s a lot of new stuff).

The major drawback I have with Pageflakes is that when you want to read an entire article from an RSS feed, you have to click on the article to take you to the site.  If the feed is from feedburner, well, you’re SOL because that’s blocked in my district.  With Google Reader, you can click on the feed and the entire article is there (provided the publisher does full stories in their feeds).  I also like the fact that Reader tells you exactly how many unread posts you have, whereas Pageflakes just shows the latest post at the top.  If you don’t remember what you’ve read you have to go clicking away.  And sometimes, Pageflakes will get the order wrong on the posts…or maybe that’s just a messed up RSS feed I’m looking at.

For the time being, I think I’m going to keep my ed tech blogs in Reader, since ya’ll post so much every day, and my personal, guilty pleasure blogs in pageflakes.

Grass roots

October 17, 2007 § Leave a comment

This is very interesting.  Bob makes some very valid points that I think most of us who are “forward thinkers” have observed.

Frustrations with getting teachers to see the light abound.  Getting  administrators to see the light can be even more frustrating.  I just had this conversation with my boss the other day:

We were discussing blogs and wikis and whether to re-open wikispaces for students (side note: thankfully my district has a different blocking policy for students and teachers – imagine that, trusting a teacher more than a kindergarten student!) and we were discussing how to bring up this subject to the curriculum director.  I noted that none of the administrators at the top level, or even the secondary level (high school or junior high) were in our age group (mid 30’s).  They were all the older folks who didn’t grow up with this technology, who don’t embrace it at home, so how in the world can they expect to understand how it can impact students and teachers?

I propose this:  Let’s start a school.  There are enough of us out here in the Ed Tech community to start a grass roots effort and start a school where we can all be happy.  We’ll start with the administration.  Find an administrator that doesn’t care about the test scores as much as they care about inspiring kids to learn, and teaching kids using 21st century tools.  Give them a year to interview teachers, put the call out for teachers who are innovators, teachers who want to use the computers in their classrooms for more than drill and kill.  Let’s make it a brand new school, so the administrator doesn’t have to deal with teachers who don’t want to be there, who are waiting to retire and who don’t want to learn new things.  We’ll hire from a pool of teachers who want to make a change, and they’ll be allowed to count their personal learning toward their professional development hours.  We’ll have a tech department that understands what students and teachers need, and not be a bunch of blocking nazis.  Every student will have an email address and be allowed to use it to communicate with the outside world.

Now, what part of Utopia would you like to put this school in?

Add your thoughts for the perfect school in the comments…

FYI

October 10, 2007 § 1 Comment

OK, I’ll admit I’m a geek. But I’m not a socially inept geek, I’m one of the good ones, who will recognize that you are certainly smart enough to figure out how to use the mouse on your own. I won’t explain things in terms that are over your head because I hate when people do that to me. I’ll explain it in simple terms that you can understand without being condescending and treating you like you’re in kindergarten.

I’ll also gladly and politely attempt to help you with any technology problem you may have, and I’ll readily admit when I don’t know the answer, but you can be sure that I’ll probably go back to my desk and Google it, while letting you get back to work knowing that I’m going to do my best to solve your problem. Sometimes I can help, sometimes I’ll direct you to the person who can help, but I’ll always try.

Unless…

Unless you are the kind of person who is not kind and polite in return. Unless you are the kind of person who thinks that my sole job in life is to be at your beck and call. Unless you are the kind of person who will ask me to do something for you but not give me a reason why you need it done…and because you usually need it done yesterday, you’re already pissed off that someone didn’t just automatically read your mind and know that you needed it done for this piece of software that you’re using that nobody in my department knows about in the first place, so you’re short with me, and don’t say please and thank you. Unless you expect me to do your job for you, which I’m not about to do because I have a job of my own, and while my job is to help you do your job, I’m not about to do your lesson plans for you because isn’t that what you get paid to do? I get paid to help you find technology that plugs into your lessons, that can make teaching easier for you and more exciting for your students, so stop expecting me to do your job and I won’t ask you to do mine.

And yes, I am dragging my feet on your particular problem because of those very reasons.

Where Am I?

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