EDTEC Thoughts for Dedicated Readers and EDTEC Enthusiasts

 

English: Costco in Moncton, New BrunswickThese past two months have been complicated with job interviews, conferences, clients, and iOS7 application development, and I missed the mark in regards to writing on a weekly basis.  In efforts to sincerely apologize, I want to give you an easy list of top ten current thoughts for the past two months this Spring of 2014.  This is for my dedicated readers of this blog and other educational technology enthusiasts.  As always this list is full of my professional observations and opinions.

1.  Windows 8.1 computers that are purchased at Costco are a great choice to recommend as they have been well-tested.  I have set up two of these computers recently for clients.  One was an HP All in One, and the other was an HP Laptop.  Clients were satisfied with price, functionality, and touch screen.

2.  Based upon years of experience, I believe that Apple Computer products in schools will run more efficiently with less need for maintenance than a PC Environment.  While I believe in great computers whether PC or MAC, I believe there will be less cost on maintenance and repair in an Apple campus, and I believe those savings will outweigh the initial startup costs of Apple products.  Students, Faculty, Parents, and Support Staff are usually happier too as they can spend more time on the creative learning and application to subject matter.

3.  I had the pleasure of testing Lenovo laptops at a recent conference, and they are well worth considering for PC users and PC organizations. Look at the Lenovo Yoga and the Lenovo Thinkpad series.  I don’t believe they are sold at Costco, but they have great deals for educators at their site.  If you have never heard of Lenovo then just remember that it is the old IBM brand.

4.  3D printing has great applications to the modern classroom for science, mathematics, architecture, and sculpting.  I would suggest that schools invest in a 3D printer and that they find ways to use it in their curriculum.

5.  Blogging is here to stay, and it is a great record for student portfolios.  They can be made private, public, or in combinations to be shared with educators, scholarship advisers, donors, admissions representatives, and select users if privacy is a concern.

6.  I hope you have heard of Google Apps for education, and I hope you have explored Outlook.com and One Drive from Microsoft.  Both of these organizations are offering a great way to create, store, access anywhere, and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  There are free versions for individuals and better free versions for educational communities.  Most people who are familiar with MS Office will be happy with One Drive.

7.  Robotics is a great program to support, teach, and advise, and students can participate in competitions with big rewards.  Get Started Today!

8.  Computer programming jobs will continue to be available in the future as hardware technologies improve and as consumers demand the ease of product usage.  Why we don’t teach more computer programming in our schools is beyond my comprehension.  The students with computer programming backgrounds will be able to develop their ideas into prototypes in the future that will bring about new business for the US and the world.

9.  I am still going to have a shameless plug for Zoombla, a math app for ages 8 and above.  It is definitely not Zombie Math, but it will definitely force students to use and practice math skills.  It also encourages face to face competition so that students are still communicating and using real time social skills in the classroom.  Zoombla – Matt Moore

10.  An entire generation uses facetime, skype, and gaming devices such as the Xbox and Wii to video conference daily, yet I still see a lot of schools not using video conferencing for educational purposes.  Teachers should reach out to real time meetings with subject matter experts, authors, universities, and or other schools in distant locations.  Why not?  Isn’t collaboration a 21st century skill?

Have a great Spring!  Perhaps I will find time to elaborate in the future.  As always I appreciate your comments, suggestions, and advice.

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Using the Internet as Your Network

Good Morning Readers!

I have discussed within the past year or so the importance of considering a change to Google Apps as a way to run your school, and while I have seen schools adopt its usages to some extent, I am not seeing the full implementation by any school yet.  I have seen schools implement the email systems with some shared documents here and there, but by and large I am not noticing policies that reflect a complete movement toward them or an entire community shift in how it communicates its information.  And whether Google Apps, Outlook.com, Dropbox, or iCloud is your preferred platform, it is vital to make a move to using the Internet as your network now.  Here is why.

Tablets are going to continue to grow as a choice in computing for many users, and tablets by design are making use of the Internet as a network already.   Server speeds, connections to servers, data storage, and your accessibility to the Internet are making it easier for experts in server administration to provide low cost services to the tablet market via the Internet.  You have heard that the desktop is dying out, and well the local network is dying out too.  As these tablets become better and faster more people will choose them for the cost, accessibility, and portability.  Yes, there will still be a need for laptops, servers, and desktops, but the average user is going to want this low cost solution of pay as you need it; and therefore, your network should service it via the Internet.  And why not do that for free?

Services via the Internet are also growing by at an incredible rate.  If you are are a Microsoft Office enthusiast, you can get a free version of Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint via outlook.com for your school.  Google offers its own version of documents, spreadsheets, gmail, and presentations, and it is even offering a way to connect your printers to your own virtual print servers to print from any device including iPads.  So think about that for a minute, the best network administrators in the world (Google, Microsoft, and others) have created a virtual school system and server for you for free.  That sounds like a great deal for me and less headaches.

Even if you simply start your email system, you should start implementing it today.  These services will only continue to grow and to improve as the market dictates the move to tablets.  You will need to support it, and why not do that for free.  A network on the Internet can reach more people, and a safety guarantee from Google or Microsoft security experts is better than any government policy to protect our kids on the Internet.

If you have any concerns or questions about this week’s writing please submit your comments below.  I am also absolutely learning.

Third week with SMART board

As I prepare to begin my third week with my SMART board, I have learned some valuable usages.  I am finding that I can plan better for my students because I have saved exactly what I discussed in class, and I am finding that keeping a weekly board is more beneficial than starting a new board document every day.  I also am able to incorporate unique digital emphasis strategies that make longer term connections with my students.  I can also convert board work to documents and use only the vocabulary written on the board in my tests and quizzes so I can monitor better what vocabulary items the students already know and I can reinforce and provide problems that are confidence building.In keeping true to my commitment not to use traditional pens or traditional ink, I have done so, and my students and I are happy with the change.  As for constraints I only have a few technical discoveries at this point.  The first is a simple fix as I share my room with a math teacher who has different settings on his computer, I will need to reorient the software so that my computer works with the board efficiently post his usage.  I believe that SMART has a useful orientation tool that makes this easy. In addition, I have found that I sometimes find issues with Spanish accent marks when the SMART board notebook and Microsoft Word are running at the same time.  Usually if I close one then I am fine with the typing commands.  I do not like that problem as it is a part of daily usage for foreign language teachers, and I will probably send an email to request a fix of this bug to SMART and Microsoft.

Finally, I have to let everyone know that I am doing really well at my new school, and I am very happy to be here and impressed with my students.  Sometimes life has an ironic way of making everything work out.  I still work in Chatsworth, and I still have the same commute.  As for some bonuses,  I am looking out my window every day at a construction of a new campus that will continue to provide great technology usage and a newer environment that is pleasing to our parent community and student body.  And at our faculty trustee dinner of our 35th year, I learned that Chatsworth Hills Academy just earned  “Best Private School” by the Daily News Readers Choice Awards for the fourth year in a row.

This small town kid from West Virginia is doing OK.

OpenOffice.org

I was a beta tester for Microsoft Office 2007, and when the expiration date ran out, I decided to save some money and try the open source solution called OpenOffice.org. I have been pleasantly surprised with it thus far; and therefore, I am doing my part in promoting this software through this testimonial.

I have used the spreadsheet software and the word processing software, and I have found that it meets most of my needs as a teacher, web developer, and small business owner. It is not as sophisticated as Microsoft Office, but with a little computer knowledge and basic programming understanding, one can develop databases and spreadsheets. The word processing and presentational software are cake, but they also require a little thinking to develop more sophisticated documents and presentations. Finally, there are two programs, a math and a draw program, which I have not used yet.

As for compatibility, I can easily transfer files to and from OpenOffice.org and Microsoft products, and it works well with PDF files. Because I have been so impressed with this open source software running upon Windows XP, I have most recently downloaded the open source photo editing software called GIMP, and I’ll let you know more about that later.

OpenOffice.org provides the software for free, but they would like to get their users to contribute somehow to the entire project. I chose to write this testimonial to make other educators aware of how they can save money in their school districts. I have also decided to contribute my expertise with office type programs so that educators can feel free to ask me questions about how to use it. Finally, Please visit OpenOffice.org today, and try a free and wonderful tool that could save your company and/or school district a lot of money.