Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mobile Applications from Google

Sorry if you get tired of me ranting and raving about Google's applications. As I had previously thought, Google entrance into the mobile market is happening before our eyes. And the answer is "yes," I have been drinking the Google Kool-aid.

Thus far, I have used Gmail, Picasa and and Google-411 "on the go."
For schools and nonprofits, they should seriously consider ditching Microsoft and using these, in my opinion, great products. Did I mention, Google's products are free (unless you upgrade storage space). Remember how Google makes their money, off of advertising. The fact that you will be viewing advertising should be weighed when making the decision. Another plus, the programs update automatically, since they are web based. At this point, if I had to pick between getting a really nice laptop or a mobile phone, get the phone. It is about time America goes mobile, since we are far behind Asia and Europe (that I know of).

This is of particular interest because people will be able to organize everything web based on the go (Google's Mobile Blog). No more hauling your laptop everywhere. If you want to see what Google programs are already mobile,
click here.

As a side note, notice that the mobile version of these web based programs has a different web address. This is because a phone and a computer access different networks. Although many new phones come with
Wi-fi capability, when you are on the go, you rely on the speed of your cellular carrier. All of these options can get confusing, but here is a quick video about how your phone connects (it is outlines a new product: My Location)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazon Kindle

Instead of my commentary, you can just watch the video. I gotta admit, a mobile reader is pretty cool!

While this currently costs $400, it is sure to get cheaper in the near future. This product truly makes me feel like I am living in the age of the Jetsons.

To be fair, check out this review by Media 3.0:

Looks like you might want to wait until the 2nd generation readers hit the market. ;)


Monday, November 19, 2007

Brain Honey: Collaborative Learning Hive

I have been watching this site grow: Brain Honey's home.

The following lesson is entitled: "Visions of the Future of Education". You can embed their lessons like this one:

Seems to be a great fit for Project Based Learning, being that teachers and students can view and even contribute content with Brain Honey's tools.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Embedding Your Google Calendar

Another Google epiphany this morning. I am have been playing with embedding calendars into web pages and blogs using simple html code provided by Google. When a user is viewing their calendar, they can go to "settings" to see the code needed for embedding. Additionally, users can create separate calendars from their personal calendar and choose to make them public or private (by invite only).

For instance, you can check out my son's Hockey Team Blog, where I put their schedule in Google Calendar for all to see. While this is an experiment, I thought it would save time and convenience to have all the information in one place, rather than sending out piece meal emails. I can see this feature as a major tool for schools. The calendar automatically updates on the blog or site if updated or changed by the account user.

This ability allows left brained people like myself to stay organized. With Google's eventual mobile phone applications, all you will need is a cell phone to stay uber organized. Users can also choose to have event reminders sent to their email or mobile phone.

The follow video is a bit blury, but the audio is informative. If you want to check out more info, you can do a search for "google calendar" or check out the Google Calendar Home. If cost and convenience are two priorities, check it out.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Politically Correct Testing Rant

Ahhh.... testing. As a school, we spent at least two weeks trying to get all our students to take the NWEA tests. Additionally, I spent the last two weeks helping an elementary school get their NWEA test completed. Our school is rapidly approaching the leftover BST's and current MCA's. I am going to be politically correct in saying that their is a massive amount of time getting these test set up, proctored, making sure all students take the tests and finally, test analysis (which there seems to be the least time for).

I came to some personal realizations, thus opinions, the last two weeks about testing.
  1. Tests truly are written for white, middle class students (the monoculture phenomenon)
  2. It doesn't seem possible that the test scores of ESL students can be valid
  3. Snapshot (versus longitudinal) testing is simply a waste of time
  4. More and more teachers must feel the need to teach to the test
  5. If the time spent administering all the tests was put into another initiative, like peer mentoring for instance, it may be a better use of time by all
  6. Testing may or may not correlate with the student's potential
I have more opinions, that of which shouldn't be posted for all to see. Sometimes I wonder who comes up with these ideas? Who comes up with these testing policies, the lobbyists for the testing companies? Can our own politicians pass all of these tests?

A bit synical, I know, but I had to get that off my chest. :) Now, do the best you can.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students

Monday I attended a conference held at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul focused around bringing Academia and research to the table with policy makers. For the factual data reported by the organization that sponsored this event, Growth and Justice, click here.

Additionally, scholars Dr. Arthor Rolnick, Dr. Arthur Reynolds, Dr. Henry M. Levin, Dr. Megan Beckett and Dr. Laura Perna offered brief description of their papers found here.

There were many Minnesota House and Senate members in attendance. Most notably, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, Senate Minority Leader David Senjem and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. The Education Commissioner Alice Seagren also gave parting comments at the end of the day.

Many media outlets were there, which you can surely search the web for different resources (like a blogs, for instance). An article by the Star Tribune's James Walsh can be found by clicking here. Twin Cities Public Television was on hand to tape the entire days festivities, which I will keep you posted on. I have been checking TPT's website, but have been unable to fine the video as of today.

Overall, my suspicions seem to be confirmed. Education is important. The current traditional model costs a lot of money. There may be better ways to do things. The problem is as much financial as is it political. We need to start investing in our children's future. Change isn't easy for anyone, but far too many students are dropping out of school, yet we still are investing massive amount of public dollars. While I am a big proponent of school choice, we need to tread carefully.

The nugget that I came away with is that as a state and nation, we need to start putting much more money into early childhood for all families. The rate of return on this investment has the potential to money later in life. The "birth to 5" initiative is one that I am fully on board with. Birth to age three seems to be the most pivotal years in a human being;s development, yet we don't invest anything when compared to what we spend on K-12 and Post Secondary Education.

Just a few thoughts... Read for yourself and hit me back for debate. If you have other good resources about educational programs that work, you can send me a comment below this posting.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Looking at Some of Google's Plans

Check out this $199 computer, sold at Wal Mart :( that uses Google Applications on a Linux operating system. You can check out the New York Times article that cynically pokes fun of the "Microsoft Tax."

Additionally, you can check out some more of what Google is up to with its upcoming Gphone. The buzz seems to be at a frantic pace as of late. You can read more about the Gphone at Last 100 Blog. Wikipedia is already buzzing with an explanation of this phone. That's right, Google Calender, Docs, Maps, along with Google's other web based services (nickname GoOffice) will be available on your phone. Rumor has it that it may even be free, with users viewing advertisements as a trade off to paid cellular service. With all of Google's services, there isn't much a person will need a laptop or desktop for. Count me in.

Google is making a big push in many facets of the technology world. Many are scared that they will turn into the next Microsoft. While I am skeptical of large corporations, Google has a different business model (Wikipedia link). It is hard to argue with Google's price to consumers, which is free for many of their products, since they generate revenue from advertising.