April 2nd, 2013
I’d be a very rich man if I had a dime for every iPad that sits unused because of poor wireless connectivity, ineffective filter management, or poor apps distribution.
Why is it that after decades of failure in education technology we are still making the same mistake of ignoring the basics while chasing the latest silver bullet?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
IT adoption/usage follows a course simliar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in that to get to the next level the foundation must be there:
- Physiological -> Network Infrastructure
- Is your network up 99.999% of the time?
- Do you have sufficient wireless coverage to support all staff and student devices?
- Do you have sufficient internal and external bandwidth to mee the needs of your users?
- Safety -> Basic Productivity Software / Basic IT Policies
- Is your student information system user friendly, functional, and reliable?
- Does your staff have access to email, a phone, and basic office suite? Are they competent in using this software?
- Do you have appropriate AUP and filtering policies that respect the needs of your students?
- Do you have sufficient help desk services to meet the needs of your users?
- Belonging -> Shared Resources / Communication
- Are your shared services reliable for staff and students?
- Does IT help give staff and students identity in the district through phone extensions and/or email addresses?
- Do staff and students have some element of ownership of the technology they use for learning?
- Are there effective tools to communicate to staff and students?
- Esteem -> Collaboration /Acknowledgement
- Do you have tools to assist in professional collaboration?
- Can staff and students access tools for self-reflection (i.e. blog, wiki, sites, etc…)?
- Are staff and students acknowledged and rewarded for using technology in effective or innovative ways?
- Do you highlight those staff and students that are exemplars of technology use?
- Self-Actualization -> Connected Educators/Administrators
- Are staff and students using technology to be part of the global conversation?
- Do non-IT staff participate in the selection and implementation of educational technology?
- Do IT staff participate in academic and learning focus discussions of educational technology?
We cannot move to the goal of connected educators if we are spending all of our time in the minutiae. As IT leaders in our districts we’ve got to guarantee the first four layers exist so that our learners can thrive.
When the trivial becomes invisible then we can realize the potential of technology in the classroom.
January 31st, 2013
I recently had the need to add median values to a number of MySQL queries and realized that median is not one of the prebuilt functions. Luckily there are a number of awesome UDFs available to add this functionality. I found UDF-Infusion to be the most comprehensive.
Unfortunately, clear NOOB directions for installing UDF to MySQL are not readily available. This how-to will work for debian.
First you need to make sure that you have all of the necessary pieces installed on your system.
- First install the necessary items on Debian
apt-get install make gawk gcc libmysqlclient-dev
- Get latest UDF zip or use git (https://github.com/infusion/udf_infusion)
- Unzip if needed and cd into udf-infusion folder
- Next you will need to edit the Makefile, replace file text with:
gcc -fPIC -O2 -pipe -shared -I /usr/include/mysql -o udf_infusion.so udf_infusion.c
mv udf_infusion.so /usr/lib/mysql/plugin
gawk -f db.awk -v drop=0 < udf_infusion.c | /usr/bin/mysql -f
gawk -f db.awk -v drop=1 < udf_infusion.c | /usr/bin/mysql -f
rm -f /usr/lib/mysql/plugin/udf_infusion.so
This text includes the debian specific paths.
- Make sure that root@loaclhost doesn’t require a password
- Run make from the udf-infusion directory
- That is it run a query using one of the awesome new functions like median
January 2nd, 2013
Basically, you’re good with anything that has the following:
- 9.5″ screen
- 1024 x 768 resolution
- a modern processor
- a modern OS (Mac, Win, Linux, Chrome)
- at least 1GB of RAM.
Notably that leaves out the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini. Seems like this could greatly impact the the technology plans of many schools districts.
I wonder where the money for all of these $300+ devices is going to come from? My district has 10,000+ students within the testing grades, anybody got an extra $3,500,000 laying around with a guarantee of 2 to 3 year refresh funds?
June 25th, 2012
So here I am in ISTE 2012.
This is quick summary of what I’ve learned:
- socialedcon – It was interesting to participate and engage with a group of passionate edublogger/tweep type folks around school reform. I really like the EDCAMP type feel and in particular liked the APP Smackdown. I think that it has potential to be a highly effective strategy for teacher PD engagement.
I could see changing the format just a bit to balance out the facilitation and provide some opportunity to learn specific skills. For the purpose of ISTE the 30,000 ft view was very appealing.
- Alan November Session
I love this guy. Nobody does a better job sharing examples of what we should all be doing with students. I really like how he used Daniel Pinks book, “Drive” to look at kids work in school. The need to have students engage in real and important work is something that cannot be said enough.
It will be exciting to look at the types of opportunities that will be available to our students in VBL. I think that it will be easier than ever to engage students in this type of dutiful work.
I’ve seen it before, but I love the idea of students helping teacher with technology. The idea of a student run “Genius” bar is amazing!
It is good to remind ourselves of the work that students can do and allow them to participate in the school.
So that wraps it up for now. Two more days to go.
January 20th, 2012
The future of education and the world is openness, collaboration, and sharing. None of these are present in the iPad/iBook solution.
It is closed proprietary system with limitations that are meant to drive hardware sales and move the publishing industry into a rental model that insures that even in the worst budgetary times (such as the funding cliff we educators are still facing) districts will have to spend money.
How is it cheaper for anybody?
The average textbook is used for 3-5 years. So lets use 3 years (since that is about how long an iPad will be useful).
Textbook $100 x 4 Textbooks a year x 3 years = $1200 for 1st year but can be used for 2 additional years.
(iPad $500 + (eTextbook $15 x 4 per year x 3 years) = $680 but since each year an iPad and eTextbooks will need to be purchased $680 x 3 = $2040
$2040 – $1200 = $840 more for iPad and eTextbooks over 3 years.
An even more fair and accurate accounting for costs:
With a difference of $660 over 3 years.
Just doesn’t add up…
December 7th, 2011
So many folks have asked me about this when they have been trying to setup a WordPress Network with an OS X server.
On 10.6.x you do the following:
- Setup your base level domain in Server Admin (usually www)
- Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal
- Type – cd /var/named/zones
- This get you to the folder with DNS configuration files
- Type – ls -al
- Find the db file that is similar to your domain (i.e. db.my.website.zone.apple)
- Open the file in a text editor by typing – nano db.my.website.zone.apple (use your file name)
- Ctrl-V (or scroll) to the bottom of the document
- Add wildcard entry by typing – * IN CNAME website.com.
- Close the document with Ctrl-x and then type – y to save.
- Go back to Server Admin and restart the DNS service.
- * should now appear.
November 30th, 2011
If you’re a mac user it takes three things:
- Wireless USB Microphone – (I like the xTag, $189)
- Decent Desktop Speaker System – (Nice Speakers, $50)
- Mic Audio Pass-Thru – (LineIn, Free)
Put it together and you’ll have 75w of audio enhancement goodness. I found it was even better when using an old 360w THX certified gaming sound system I had, but that would be a bit expensive.
xTag also works awesome for Skype, Podcasting, and audio recognition.
October 17th, 2011
So running a WordPress install for K-12 you’ll often get asked to add new MIME types. There used to be some great plugins, but I haven’t seen any that are compatible with latest version of WP.
If you are running a network it is easy enough to force a function across the site by dropping a script in the mu-plugins folder.
Basically, I grabbed the code from http://netweblogic.com/other/adding-removing-allowed-filetypes-wordpress-media-library/ . I added all of the default MIME types and then added the additional ones I needed at the bottom (Notebook by Smart).
Drop the file in the mu-plugins folder, add the MIME types to your whitelist in the Network>Settings, and test with an upload of the appropriate file type.
The nice thing is that you can add new MIME types with out hacking core or limiting it to an individual blog template.
Here is the file that I used in my install.
August 22nd, 2011
So as I was reading about more iPad deployments today, I realized that what really bugs me about the iPad is it is a consumer device. Not an enterprise device or an educational device, but a method by which to consume information and applications. I thought wow, I just coined a new phrase. Alas, Google tells me that not only did I not coin a phrase but it is in the title of a fascinating article in ERIC titled, “Educational Consumerism: Etiology and Antidotes.” by Roy Schwartzman.
Schwartzman goes on to point out that thinking of a student as a customer drives us towards certain notions about learning and knowledge (some of the parts that I thoughts most interesting):
- Students, as consumers, will often pick a curriculum based upon what is easiest not what is most rigorous and challenging
- When we portray knowledge as a commodity, then we imply that it should be as easy as buying something to learn
- The burden of creating value for education is entirely on the vendor (i.e. teacher)
- The burden of improving the product(i.e. education/learning) is solely the responsibility of the vendor (i.e. teacher)
The list actually goes on but I think you should read it yourself.
When you take what he says about educational consumerism and think about how you are using an iPad is he right? If you take what he says and apply it to many of the various tech tools folks go gaga over, are we really doing what we need to do as educators or just perpetuating a myth that quality education is like a great wardrobe and can just be bought?