Reflections on Instructional Technology and Media

A Laptop for the 21st Century March 31, 2008

I finally got to see the eeePC this morning and man, is it cool!  Here are some of the features:

  • 7 inch display -small, but that is part of what I like about it
  • Linux OS – I do not have a lot of experience with this, but the desktop and navigation are incredibly user friendly
  • Comes loaded with Open Office and a link to Google Docs – ready for 21st century collaboration. No need to load lots of apps
  • Built in web-cam and speakers for online collaboration
  • Small HD – 4 GB (can get 8GB) – but not an issue if you have network storage or store all your docs online!

We are opening a new elementary school in August and this small laptop would be great for the students! And at $399 it is highly affordable. The one big complaint I see online is that some users do not like the small keyboard and display – but I am thinking this is a benefit for Elementary students!


Why I Love Technology

Tiny Baby

There is no denying that technology has become the great re-uniter of the 21st century. On a weekly basis I re-discover connections with old friends whom I have not seen in 20 years. Once I get over the fact that I am old enough to have not seen someone for 20 years, I am amazed at how connected I have become and how frequently I bump into old friends online. These are connections I would likely not have without technology. In many cases they are people I never had a telephone relationship with in high school and would certainly not strike one up now. But I am comfortable enough with the idea of being friends with them online and checking in to see what they are doing now.

What I love even more is the ability to share photos of my child and see the photos of others’ children without having to fill up their email inbox. I have become a huge fan of Photobucket, Snapfish, and Shutterfly. But most recently, I have really appreciated how hospitals are supporting families with loved ones in long term care. Last summer a friend from college had triplet boys (yikes!) born at 25 weeks. The hospital set up a blog and photo gallery for them to update daily so that loved ones could get the info on how the boys were progressing without the parents having to sit on the phone non-stop retelling the same story dozens of times a week. I am seeing this again with a friend whose son was born last month 8 weeks ahead of schedule at 1 pound, 5 ounces. He is doing great thanks to a whole other set of technology – but again I can keep up with his progress online! The picture above is of him from last week – he is wearing his father’s wedding ring as a bracelet. What a beautiful picture. I love technology.


Watching Leaders Evolve March 25, 2008

(Cross posted at LeaderTalk)

I have targeted my efforts in increasing the capacity of web 2.0 in our district towards administrators. It is my firm belief that until these tools become part of the regular work that our district undertakes on a regular basis, we will never see saturation in the classrooms. So I thought I would take some time here to highlight the ways our district has begun to infuse new technologies into the work we do.

  1. Our district web site is now syndicated with RSS
  2. The Assistant Superintendent of Support Services began the Bow Tie Blog to keep the community up to date on the construction of new facilities.
  3. All of the Board meetings are made available via podcast.
  4. One of our high school principals makes a weekly phone call to the homes of all the students. He then converts the files each week to MP3s and posts them on the school web site as a podcast so that families who missed the call on Sunday night can still access the information.

This is an exciting start towards becoming district 2.0. There is still quite a lot of work to do and some of it is in the works. Our Superintendent challenged the textbook adoption committee to look beyond the textbook for materials and to make a greater use of technology. The elementary level embraced this idea and is going textbookless next year for Social Studies and instead will be relying heavily on technology for information needs. However, our high schools are still buying a book for every student. The middle schools are, well, in the middle. They are purchasing a class set of books for each teacher and using the remaining money on technology.

I would like to see more blogging and reflective practice coming out of our Instructional Services department. I understand the time challenges, but how can we expect our teachers to use these tools with their children if we don’t model good use of the tools for them?