Visitors to eSchool News Online are privy to a very special society. The Ed-Tech Insider is an educator blog community dedicated to putting the promise of technology into practice. The site features more than a dozen 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 sampling 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 “Zookoda – Blog > Subscribe > eMail”
“Hot on the heels of Feedburner’s new subscription service [comes] Zookoda (http://www.zookoda.com). I’ve just begun to start testing the features and functionality, but so far it seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of any newsletter creator and subscription management tool that grabs content from a blog or CMS [content management system] and broadcasts it out. Tools like this, especially as they get a bit easier to use, would seem to be a terrific service for administrators and educators who are already using a blogging tool to publish information. I am particularly impressed with the customization available on this tool for setting up your own subscription forms.”
—STEVE BURT–A senior content developer for Clarity Innovations Inc., Burt researches, designs, and writes educational content materials for the company.
From “The Silent Epidemic”
“Civic Enterprises and Peter D. Hart Research Associates (with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) recently released a report that all educators need to read. It’s called The Silent Epidemic (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ Education/TransformingHighSchools/RelatedInfo/SilentEpidemic.htm). Why is this survey noteworthy? Because the participants were high-school dropouts. Some of their responses aren’t that surprising. The former students do agree that they sometimes hung out with the wrong crowd and didn’t apply themselves to schoolwork. However, there are other responses that fly in the face of conventional wisdom about who drops out. For example, two-thirds of the respondents said they had GPAs of 2.0 or better when they left school. This report could make for some very interesting faculty meeting discussions …”
—SUSAN BROOKS-YOUNG–After 23 years as an elementary and middle school teacher and administrator, Brooks-Young now serves as an author and ed-tech consultant.
From “Technology and the Marsopolis Project”
“& We need to be careful about conflating ed-tech and complex, project-based learning too closely. Technological solutions are neither necessary nor sufficient to change educational practices. Sometimes a new influx of gadgets and tools act as a lever to get teachers to think differently, but that’s an ephemeral, unreliable process in my opinion. Trying to incorporate too much novel technology while you’re simultaneously complexifying your instructional practice might be a recipe for failure. Focusing on simple and low-tech, but still challenging and authentic projects may be a better starting point for changing practice.”
—TOM HOFFMAN–An educational software developer, Hoffman has worked as a teacher and technology coordinator in Providence, R.I. He manages an open-source software project called SchoolTool.
From “A New Windows Computer”
“… Apple Computer [has] released a free beta download of Boot Camp (http://www.apple.com/macosx/bootcamp). This software allows you to install Windows XP on an Intel-based Macintosh. In our district we already have two iMac computers that are set up to dual-boot into Mac OS 10.4 or Windows XP. You make the choice during startup. & The installation using Boot Camp, which was done by several members of our tech department, was very easy, and Windows XP installed faster than on any of the traditional Intel boxes we have in our district. Once booted into Windows XP, they have run flawlessly (except the built-in video camera doesn’t seem to work) and are as fast or faster than our newest Windows computers. We are already talking about purchasing Intel-based iMacs to put into all our computer labs, no matter if they are Mac or Windows labs. This will give us the flexibility to use either platform and any software in every lab, rather than having Mac labs and Windows labs across the hall from each other. The only downside is that we will have to purchase Windows XP for each computer. &”
—CRAIG NANSEN–Nansen has been the district technology coordinator for Minot, N.D., Public Schools for the past 20 years. He is responsible for more than 4,000 computers in 18 school buildings.