Monday, December 12, 2011

TIES 2011

Hanging out at the 2011 TIES conference. Record crowds again, congratulations to TIES for that! Keynote speaker, Joel Rose, from the School of One initiative in New York gave a fine presentation. He discussed the large number of teachers who feel frustrated in their work. It helped explain why many teachers have a hard time adopting new technology. If they are already frustrated, adding something new (and often without any real training) just doesn't work. Tech Coordinators and others working in school technology get frustrated too. The many hats they wear on a regular basis can be daunting. I'll talk about that at a presentation this afternoon. We'll see how that goes. I think the important thing is to remember that everyone who works in educstion is part of a team and everything we do needs to be about the kids.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Video Worth Watching

I'm back again... I was introduced to this video and the website that the presenter operates by ECMECC's technology integration specialist, Jon Larson.

Adam Bellow is a former teacher turned educational technologist from New York. This video was presented at a conference in August 2011 and is very, very thought provoking and well done. Now we just need to act on some of the things he talks about in this presentation!

If you can find 15 minutes now or later to watch it, you shouldn't be disappointed. You may not agree with everything, but at minimum, you will think! Pay particular attention to some of the things he says about professional development! Then, when you are done, share this with administrators, curriculum directors, professional development coordinators, technology staff, teachers and anyone else who might watch it.

His website is called Edutecher. Lots of good information there. He has a mobile app as well so you can load it on your iOS or Android device. While the video above is from YouTube, if that is blocked by your school, it is also available on the Edutecher website ( Enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Can we still interact with other human beings?

I've been thinking quite a lot about human interaction and its current state in this technology rich world. When I was matriculating at the University of MN doing graduate work, I studied computer-human interaction and I've spent the better part of my adult life working with people and computers (and often both at the same time).

Today, I see people (sometimes myself included) walking around with their heads down and thumbs rapidly moving across virtual keyboards on tiny computers. How we don't have more sidewalk crashes and injuries, I'll never know. We certainly know about the risks of doing this while driving. Additionally, when I am out to eat, I am amazed at how many people I see with their faces in their smartphones when they are sitting across from or with other people. Have we lost the ability to interact face-to-face with other human beings? I hope not!

Recently, an article from the Minneapolis StarTribune was brought to my attention that addresses this issue to some degree. The author, Nathan Eklund, discusses the need to close his mental tabs before he is able to fully interact with humans after a day spent assimilated into the technology that is now part of our everyday lives. A very interesting read if you have an extra three minutes or so!

If it takes that kind of effort to actually engage in a meaningful conversation with our friends or loved ones, I'm worried!

I did also find an interesting new product introduced this weekend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You remember the boom boxes of the early 80's, right? It was the way people shared music at the time. People, most often kids, actually gathered together to listen to music and share experiences (of all kinds!!) Today, the kids walk around with earbuds stuck in their ears and sometimes share a playlist without any face-to-face interaction at all. Maybe this is OK, but it just doesn't seem right to me.

Enter TDK, a company I remember for their cassette tapes. They have released a 21st century version of the boombox that allows users to plug in an mp3 player or other USB device. I'm not sure it will catch on, but I'm glad to see someone still trying to support real human interaction.