Tableau Software recently announced that it would begin giving away its Tableau Desktop analytics software, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. Having spent some time with the tool, I can say that this could mark a turning point in the way students think about data. My masters degree has been languishing for years. I’ve completed all of the coursework and only needed to write a thesis. I just couldn’t manage to prioritize it over writing jobs that actually paid me. And then Tableau Software reached out to me a couple weeks ago about their new initiative to help students and teachers begin using their desktop analytics product for free and, in turn, learn about big data hands on. Suddenly, I had a project I couldn’t resist. A student’s and teacher’s guide to data analytics using Tableau with public datasets……Read More
Despite the recent explosion in ed tech applications and services, adoption and use of data remains a significant challenge, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. InBloom’s new platform just may change that. As recently as a couple years ago, the biggest problem schools faced with implementing technology tools for students and teachers was the lack of research-based, pedagogically sound, applications. There was plenty of software, some of it good, not much of it great, and very little of it really cranking out usable data for teachers and other stakeholders……Read More
Sharewith911 may just be the best solution I’ve seen for improving school safety, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. And it’s incredibly simple, leveraging ubiquitous classroom and consumer technology. I took a lot of flack before the holidays when I called on schools to roll out simple, low-tech physical security measures to improve student safety in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. Although a number of readers thought I was politicizing a tech blog (I wasn’t), the article was important, in my opinion, because it addressed the idea that school safety doesn’t have to be all about ID cards or RFIDs integrated with student information systems. Instead, as with all things in education, we need to look at the most effective tools and solutions, regardless of their technical wow-factor (or lack thereof). More importantly, though, the article led the folks at Share With 911 to reach out and tell me about the new service they’re rolling out this year. Share With 911 is brilliant, both in its simplicity and its game-changing ability to empower both school staff and emergency personnel to quickly and proactively act and communicate in a variety of emergency situations……Read More
I’ll admit, I was skeptical when Livescribe asked me to review its new smartpen, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. Although I’d given high marks to their Echo smartpen in previous reviews (“Livescribe: Fixing note taking once and for all” and “Livescribe use models in special education“), that was back in 2010. Just a few months earlier, Apple had released its first-generation iPad to lots of hope for educational use cases but had hardly reached critical mass in schools. Now it’s almost 2013, tablets are everywhere, and most of us believe that a tablet or hybrid is the device of choice for most 1:1 applications. Tablets, in fact, are changing the ways in which we both consume and create content and the sophistication of apps for education is increasing at a blistering pace. So why would I possibly want a smartpen that writes on dead trees? No matter how smart the pen, that seems pretty old school, right? Not quite. There are some pretty great handwriting and notetaking apps available on both iOS and Android. Penultimate is my favorite, by far, and, along with ArtRage (both of which are iOS-only), gets more use than any other app or feature on my iPad……Read More
Michael Chasen, CEO and co-founder of Blackboard, surprised more than a few people this week by announcing his departure from the company, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. According to the Washington Post, Chasen said the decision to depart was reached amicably and that he was ready to pursue new opportunities after 15 years in a high-demand job. Will that next step be part of another start-up or another large firm? Either is an option, he said.
Chasen is only a couple years older than I am and has three kids. It’s not unreasonable that he might want to slow things down a bit, particularly after a tumultuous year of acquisitions and increasing competition in the enterprise LMS market. After the company’s purchase by Providence Equity Partners for a cool $1.6 billion and change last October, Chasen agreed to stay on as CEO for at least a year. It’s been a year and now the CEO of a mutlibillion dollar technology company (Jay Bhatt, CEO of Progress Software and formerly of Autodesk) has been tapped to fill his shoes…
It seems to me that big corporations have it all figured out: They’ve been using business intelligence and data analytics for years to drive businesses. For schools, though, BI is in its infancy, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. Last month, I attended one of Dell’s Social Think Tanks. The topic was Innovation in Education and we had a great discussion on the role of technology in improving the education in America. The Think Tank was big on issues, but turning those issues into actions is overwhelming at best, given the institutionalized challenges that face schools today. As a follow up, Dell held a Google Hangout yesterday with some of the Think Tank participants so we could begin really thinking about concrete solutions……Read More
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of talking with John Martellaro over at the Mac Observer, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. He had written an article a couple weeks ago about “The Real Reason Apple Wants a 7-inch iPad” which, in part, inspired my own post on the new Kindle Fire HD and its inability to change the game in education. My problem with tablets in education has, for the relatively short time tablets and e-readers have been floating around, always been one of ecosystem (or the lack thereof). John and I explored this and several other issues around the iPad specifically in education in the interview he published on Wednesday. By the time we were done talking, he had titled the article “The State of the iPad in Education: a Giant Mess”. Not a terribly flattering description, to be sure, but unfortunately fairly accurate. This isn’t to say that there aren’t educators and students doing awesome things with iPads……Read More
I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in Dell’s “Social Think Tank” on Innovation in Education today., says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. We’ll be spending the day talking about how tech can drive new approaches to education. I’ll be tweeting and updating this blog all day as we move the conversation forward.
Update: 11:15 am EDT – How to close the learning gap: What is the learning gap? I would argue that it’s the distance between those students who learn in spite of the system and those who are stymied by the system. Arguably, you could also call the inability of those with poor conditions outside of schools to be able to navigate the system versus those who have the outside resources to make it through…
The pundits have spoken. Amazon hit a homerun with its new Kindles. 8.9″ is just right. Performance is going to rock. Exchange support is top notch. And the pricing? It’s a game-changer, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education. I’ve already had people asking me what I think of it for education. A fast, cheap tablet with easy access to more books than students can ever read, including a growing selection of electronic textbooks seems like a no-brainer, right? I wish. Unfortunately, Amazon’s ecosystem (or lack thereof) outside the land of Amazon is going to get in the way. In fairness, Amazon is getting closer, particularly in higher ed because the 8.9″ Fire HD really is an awesome form factor to toss into a backpack or carry anywhere and Amazon has quite a large selection of college textbooks ported to the Kindle. Amazon also has a growing number of Kindle textbooks for rent and your notes are retained even after the rental period expires. Of course, if your instructor picks a textbook that Amazon doesn’t carry, most likely, you’re out of luck. There’s no Android Play Store, after all, from which to download alternative textbook apps……Read More
Why would you possibly develop your own student information system, special education management system, library information system, school financial system, or other data collection and reporting tools? Asks Christopher Dawson for ZDNet. There are so many turnkey solutions on the market, from free and open source to expensive and proprietary, it hardly seems necessary, right? A long, long time ago, I made my living programming Microsoft Access front ends for clinical trial data collection tools. Access was (and still is) quite powerful, but getting it hooked into the web, especially with built-in tools, wasn’t exactly an elegant process. I’ve built more than a few rocking Access applications through the years, but most of that went by the wayside as the world moved away from client-server applications and towards web-based LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL, PHP) solutions to data collection and reporting. So when the folks at Filemaker contacted me and suggested I check out some of the educational applications of the Filemaker ecosystem, I was a bit skeptical……Read More