Thursday, April 16, 2009

Web 2.0 in the Classroom

Do you allow Facebook or blogging in the classroom or not. I've been tossing this idea around for a while now. I think there are some very good reasons to and some hesitant reasons not to. Some good things would include freeing up time at the end of class when you usually ask those review or discussion questions. If you posted them in a blog, on a wiki, or in a facebook group where you, the teacher, were the moderator and approved comments before they were posted, you could have the discussions on one of these boards. Or better yet, if your school had a private blogging site where this would be allowed. Think about the discussion you could have, and the kids could be required to post a response as well as reply to a classmate or two.

This type of activity would also prepare them a little bit for any online classes they will take either in high school or in college where they might not get the assistance they need. It will aslo allow for kids who are interested in this area to use their skills to help others who don't know exactly how to post. They could also help the teacher in getting it all set up. The teacher learns, the students have more interaction and learning, and students who might not otherwise, are stepping in to help. Plus you free up classroom time for more instruction.

Monday, March 23, 2009

To filter or not to filter

My thoughts have been traveling lately to the issue of filtering in our schools. Before I go any further, let me say that I believe that filtering is a good thing. But how much is the question. I believe that all pornography sites should be filtered across all schools and would actually like to see the government step in and make them have a completely different top domains. So they could have a different set of last letters after the (.) instead of the common .com, .org, or .net.

Other than that, I am beginning to question what else needs to be. Some parts of me say that online shopping needs to be blocked. While I agree, there are some applicable classroom uses for this type of category to be left open. Such as a life skills class to "shop" for different items to see their cost. Others still say games should be blocked. But more and more games are being put up that are educational, and I believe that trend will continue. Plus what do kids do when they have nothing else to do at school? We are making them board by blocking everything. So they in turn try and find loopholes in our network. And some of them are very successful at it. Once one finds a way, the word spreads like wildfire and then the tech department finally gets wind of it. They get that hole filled and guess what, the kids find another one.

Instead of blocking, blocking, blocking, we need to be teaching these kids how to use things correctly and show them trust. Once they break that trust give them the appropriate punishment and move on. Don't punish the whole bushel because of one bad apple.

Anyway, there is plenty of debate on this issue and I will never disagree with a technology coordinator on what to block because that is up the individual district, I would like to see some more open policies and how they are getting along.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Which whiteboard to choose? There are so many different brands of whiteboards out there. And it seems that these are gaining all kinds of steam around here. Plus there sounds like there could be more money flowing into our schools through the Microsoft settlement and the stimulus package that could increase the demand for this technology.

I remember about 7 years ago when several schools (including Lenox where I was the tech coordinator) got one of these boards. We put it into the ICN classroom and taught one teacher how to use it. There it stayed for a couple years. Then we remodeled and it went into a closet. Last year a teacher tried using it, didn't end up doing too much with it and now this year it has kind of taken off again.

A lot of schools in my area have been purchasing one of two brands. Either Promethean or Smartboards. I have a question to pose: Which is better and why? I like both for varying reasons, and tend to find myself favoring one one day and then the other the next. Right now I am putting Smart ahead. We recently installed one in our office and the more I "play" with it, the more I like it better. But Promethean also has a very nice board and software interface as well. Unfortunately I'm not having much luck connecting my laptop to the Promethean board right at the moment. I downloaded the newest driver a couple weeks ago thinking that would help. And it did for that day. Now I can't get the board to interact with my laptop the right way.

Of all the other brands out there, does anyone have one they like better than these two, why? I have found that the two mentioned are the top two selling boards in our area and across the nation as a whole. These are the two boards we are supporting. But not sure if there is a better one yet to come. This technology is something I've been excited about for years, but now am really excited. I've gotten my wife to use it in her classroom and she absolutely loves it. And she is not a technology person at all...Very easy to use and very easy to build current lessons into. Which makes it all the more useful and purposeful for our very busy teachers.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I am reviewing a few of the new Netbooks that are floating around out there. Trying to see the real value in them. They are definitely cheaper for schools that are primarily Macs, but how much cheaper are they than your cheapest laptop...Not much. But these are the new wave that has hit the market. I question Apple for not jumping in and creating one of their own, but I guess they have their iPods and are going to stick with them. I think if I had to choose at this point, I would rather have an iTouch than a netbook. I do see the value of the netbook because it is a cheaper model of laptop, so you can get more of them into the kids' hands, but for a person who doesn't like working on windows machines, it would seem to be a headache to implement them in a Mac environment. Kids will make the switch no problem, but you have teachers that are going to have to teach with them, and they aren't so adaptive.

When I first got one of these to review, I thought they were the coolest thing and let my mind wonder to how they could be used. But then reality set in, and I'm not so sure now. Sure they are cool, and it would be neat to have one, but a lot of our teachers still use cd games, and with no cd drive, that throws that option out the window. And for my home use that would probably be a good thing to have also. Not that there aren't plenty of games for them to play online.

The ones that I am looking at are the Asus, HP, and M & A Technology ones. Each has its pros but right now I really like how the Asus stacks up. I have also been hearing and reading very good things about this particular brand. This is something I would like to see in action within a school district before I actually sign off on the idea.

Monday, February 23, 2009


So, I'm sitting in my office today, trying to come up with some items to start blogging about. I want to find a way to use this so it can benefit teachers and technology coordinators in Area 14. Not sure how to exactly work it, but I have a couple ideas to start with. After this post, I would like to get some customization done to my site. Looks kind of plain now, and I have an appointment in 2 hours so that should give me some time to get things spiffed up. Then hopefully I'll get some time later to get back on here and get some of my ideas up and running.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Leslie Fisher Web 2.0

Today I'm sitting in Leslie Fisher's Web 2.0 conference all day. Learning about what all is out there for Web 2.0 sites and sharing opportunities. I'm going to take what I learn today and be able to apply it to the classrooms in AEA 14.