Visitors to eSchool News Online are privy to a very special society. The Ed-Tech Insider at http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/index.php is an educator blog community dedicated to putting the promise of technology into practice. The site features 12 ed-tech professionals so passionate about enhancing learning through technology that they’ve agreed to share their expertise in a dialogue with eSN Online readers.

Here’s a taste of some of the best Ed-Tech Insider posts in recent weeks. All of these posts are still active, so if you want to comment on any of them, simply visit the site to do so.

From “Questions and Implications for Datacasting”
“… I’ve been doing some research and thinking about the uses of datacasting (that’s podcasting of audio or even vodcasting of video) … I firmly believe that datacasting will continue to explode in its growth and use. The issue is we (as educators) need to start thinking about these issues and creating the means and processes to answer questions (about its role in education) before others do. For instance, I often encounter a considerable amount of pushback from administrators who are resistant to allow their teachers to post content to a school site that the public can see. I’ve always found this rather shocking–that a district would trust teachers with students in a classroom, but not with the ability to publish to the web. That said, I’m quite concerned that reactionary school boards and administrators will err on the side of locking down sites long before teachers (and students!) have access to the tools necessary for this kind of content distribution. …”

From “Using Google Maps to Create a School Boundary Map”
“I have recently been playing around a bit with the Google Maps API. The API (application programming interface) allows you to include Google Maps content on your own web pages. For example, I have wanted to create a boundary map for my school. With a little bit of work, I was able to create a rough outline of our boundary and include it with the map that displays on our school web site. I found the process to be pretty straightforward. If you are comfortable playing around with HTML code, then utilizing Google Maps on your own site should not be hard to do. … For my boundary map, I had to find the latitude and longitude information for specific addresses in order to create the boundary line. The site Portlandmaps.com contained all the information I needed to find specific locations and also the latitude and longitude coordinates for those locations. The Google Maps API documentation page provides instructions for including this information to form the outline of your boundary…”

From “Tiger Server’s Built-in Blog Service”
“… The Apple Blog has a nice review of the version of the open-source Blojsom web log server integrated into Mac OS X Tiger Server. … Apple’s blog server is a good example of the differing approaches to usability taken by Apple and most open-source projects. Open-source products tend to be highly configurable, giving administrators and users lots of options. Just the fact that you have a million options often creates a usability problem, and often many of those options are just bad ideas. Apple banks on being able to make the right choices for you, to protect users from too much complexity. However, I think it is fair to say that they were too conservative in limiting the range of options open to admins in their first crack at a built-in blog server, and it is pretty likely that serious users of this … product will need to crack open the underlying Blojsom admin screens.”

From “Tablet PC Update”
“I recently had one of those days that made me yearn for the classroom again. It was the second of two Tablet PC pilot trainings for about 20 teachers, where we really started getting into the pedagogy of how we’re going to use these things in the classroom. … For me, the coolest thing was not so much being able to walk around the classroom and have everything I did on the tablet project wirelessly to the screen as I taught. No, the coolest thing was the ability to give up control of the projector to other teachers who wanted to show what they were doing … I can only imagine what it might be like to have a classroom of students with this technology, being able to seamlessly bring their work up on screen to talk us through it or annotate it. …”

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