Archives For Emerging Technologies

David Pogue has a video review this week of the XO laptop (a.k.a. the $100 laptop). I haven’t actually paid much attention to this project, so it was interesting to see the little laptop in action. I love the collaborative way the apps work and the transparency of the technology.

I don’t exactly know how I got on the mailing list, but I’ve been receiving the Google Earth Sightseer in my email inbox. Make sure you subscribe if you’re using Google Earth in your classroom or would like some great ideas about how to get started. The February 2007 issue alone has articles about new Google Earth search capabilities, studying human rights issues with maps, and satellite photography. Most of the articles include links to KML files that will launch in Google Earth to display the relative points of interest. The new Google Earth search is particularly interesting. From the newsletter:

Search is at the heart of everything we do here at Google. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new search innovation that’s available today in Google Earth. Now you can now search through all of the world’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files, making the millions of Google Earth KML files on the Web instantly accessible for geobrowsing and exploration.

So if your students are creating KML files, you can post them on your district Web site and they will become searchable for all the world to see. It’s another great way to share and collaborate.

I got the following tidbit in an email from ISTE today.

*Visit ISTE on MySpace*

Known to most people as the premier social networking site, MySpace is home to tens of millions of users. People of all ages use this free service to communicate with one another through pictures, videos, blogs, and discussion groups.

ISTE recently established its own MySpace presence. Check out our profile at and then stay tuned as we populate our blog (be sure to subscribe), send out useful resources through bulletins, and create groups to better serve our members. We look forward to seeing you there!

*ISTE Establishes Headquarters in Second Life*

Second Life, a multi‑user virtual environment (MUVE), is becoming a popular venue for online learning. Along with 18 other educational entities, ISTE recently built its Second Life headquarters on EduIsland, which provides a space for educators to network, collaborate, and learn about education opportunities and best practices in Second Life.

I’m not really sure what to make of this. ISTE is either really pushing the envelope here or quite out of touch with the average ISTE member…or both. I haven’t logged in to Second Life in several months, but maybe I’ll pay EduIsland a visit.

iste, myspace, secondlife

Personal Computing In the Classroom and Beyond!
Jim Hirsch, Plano, TX

Jim is talking about how to reach every student in the classroom no matter how limited the technology resources might be. He says “the future is here already, it’s just not widely distributed yet.” I think that’s a Tim O’Reilly quote if I recall correctly.

Heroes still exist for our students and affect their outlook on solving problems. What are the heroes of students today? Jim’s point is that today’s heroes are often ensemble casts. That extends to teacher heroes. Collaboration—not just sharing—is the way in which our student expect to find information, solve problem and create new understandings.

The new generation of kids thinks about “personal computing” in a very different way. Maybe cell phones will be the 1-to-1 computing device of the future? Personal computing needs to extend beyond school to the mall, coffee shop, home, etc.

How do we engage students within the classroom? Jim is going to talk about things they’ve tried in Plano.

  • Some kind of large-screen display to engage kids in large group discussions. They use TVs in elementary school, but have LCD projectors in every secondary classroom.
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse that can be passed around to enable students to contribute to an activity that’s being projected.
  • Annotation software (they use Master Pointer) to make it possible to annotate on top of anything being displayed on the screen.
  • A personalized portal for each student and staff member with links to classroom resources and other communication tools. (I think Moodle can do much of what’s shown in the portal that they’re using.)
  • Tiny mobile computing devices including the myPad from M&A Technology. Also the Nintendo DS and software in the style of Brain Age.
  • Cell phones and wireless test administration. This is pretty wild. Check out
  • The Sony mylo is a handheld wi-fi device. It supports Skype and has Opera’s web browser too.
  • Jim showed us how you can use Google Docs and Spreadsheets on the Sony PSP and other Internet-enabled devices.

What a great set of tools Jim showed. Most teachers have no idea that things even exist. Personal computing is going to be getting much more personal very soon.

ties, ties2006, classroom technology

Milt Dougherty, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

A solution only makes sense once you understand the problem.

Milt is a consultant at Milt Dougherty and Associates (and fellow ADE) who also works as a Superintendent in a small Kansas district.

The purpose of his talk is to convince us that the world has changed. That shouldn’t be too hard at a technology conference. Here’s a good example of a flattened world: the largest private employer in Afghanistan is a discount online retailer in Utah.

He points to the static nature of our school curriculum. In 1892 a group called the Committee of 10 at Harvard saw the need to establish a uniform curriculum in order to ensure that future Harvard students would be well prepared. We’ve still working with the same basic curriculum today.

In 1950, 80% of workers were classified as unskilled. In 2000, 85% of workers were classified as skilled. Is the grocery store checker who’s teaching customers to use the self-checkout aisle working herself out a job? Milt says that you can’t just take that checkout clerk and have him or her begin designing and building automatic checkout machines. Different jobs require different preparation.

What skills are required to work effectively in the 21st century? Thornburg says technological fluency, verbal proficiency, collaboration, solve complex problems, creativity, analytical and thinking skills, and gumption.

The curriculum of the past is an information curriculum. The curriculum of the future is a personal development curriculum. Leadership is the key ingredient to successful use of technology in school (Milt is referring to some research from CoSN).

ties, ties2006

Parakey, the Web OS

5 Nov 2006

Blake Ross is something of a wunderkind. He starting working for Netscape at age 15 and cofounded the Firefox project soon after. Not content to stop there, an article in IEEE Spectrum describes Ross’s latest project called Parakey. Parakey is an attempt to obviate the need for separate desktop and online applications. For example, I use iPhoto to manage and edit photos on my Mac and Flickr to share some of those photos with the world. According to the article:

Parakey is intended to be a platform for tools that can manipulate just about anything on your hard drive—e-mail, photos, videos, recipes, calendars. In fact, it looks like a fairly ordinary Web site, which you can edit. You can go online, click through your files and view the contents, even tweak them. You can also check off the stuff you want the rest of the world to be able to see.

Ross is the prototypical digital native. He says, “We all know ­people…who have all this content that they are not publishing stored on their computers. We’re trying to persuade them to live their lives online.” If this is how young people think, is it any wonder that their digital immigrant teachers don’t understand them?

blake ross, parakey

I’ve got a Second Life character, and even though I rarely visit my fascination with the growth of this virtual world is only increasing. Reuters UK has an amazing story about the Second Life economy that points to further blurring of the line between what we normally consider the real and virtual worlds. (In a semi-related story, Reuters has announced that they’re opening a news bureau in Second Life.)

We’ve all got a lot of work to do if we are going to understand this new culture and figure out how to educate the kids that are raised in it.

second life

Last weekend’s On the Media on NPR had an interesting feature on Second Life, the online virtual world that is all the rage these days. The largest portion of the piece was devoted to describing how former Virginia governor and likely presidential candidate Mark Warner held a news conference in Second Life recently. Just when you thought you were safe from candidate blogs…

The Second Life phenomenon is really fascinating. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but I think it’s crucial for teachers to understand the gaming world as much as possible. The point from the report that hit home most with me was from one of the guests who suggested that elements of our “first lives” (the real world) will need to become more game-like as more people become comfortable with artificial worlds. In other words, we begin to relate to real-world situations through the lens of video games and virtual worlds.

I guess I’ll reserve judgement for now on whether or not that would be a good thing. I do know that we should be using games and game-like simulations more effectively for teaching and learning. My recent experience as a student in the ITIL class is a perfect example. We sat for over two days paging through PowerPoint slides trying to absorb material. It would have been so much more interesting to learn the ITIL processes in a simulated environment where the “player” has to manage an IT department and his or her success depends on the extent to which the ITIL processes are implemented correctly. Will we ever get to the point that using immersive simulations is the norm?

I can think of a million other examples of learning through games and simulations. (And I’m sure many of these have been done.) Some examples: learn about the election process by managing a candidate’s campaign or being a candidate in a virtual world yourself; learn ecology by managing a virtual national park and ensuring that animal and plant populations remain viable; learn French by teleporting to a French-speaking world (need better speech recognition for this one); lean about viruses by becoming one and figuring out how to defeat a body’s immune system. Here’s something you can take to the bank: tomorrow’s technology will be cheaper and faster than today’s. Within ten years we will have cheap virtual reality technology that will allow students to enter these simulations in ways that we can barely imagine now.

Are teachers ready for this change? Can you imagine the professional development challenges that await us?

second life, otm, on the media, mark warner, gaming, npr, simulations