Ultra Mobile PC’s Abound

In one of my first blog posts, following the release of the MacBook Air, I lamented the fact that no company had created what I thought was an appropriate portable learning device for students.  The device I envisioned was small, cheap, portable and had the necessary tools built-in (word processing, digital imaging and video, editing, network connectivity, etc.).

Apparently I need to eat my hat, because a flood of inexpensive Ultra-Mobile PC’s have cropped up lately.  Now this could be a case of the everyone-drives-the-same-car-as-me syndrome, in which, when you get a new car you begin noticing how many of those same cars are one the road.  More than you ever noticed before.  So once I started keeping a lookout for the perfect student computer, I started noticing them.  It could be that.

But I do think there are other things at play which allowed Apple to create the MacBook Air.  One is that hardware is coming of age in this area.  Flash memory is dropping in price so it is now cost-effective to put a 20 GB solid-state drive in a laptop.  Small screens are cheap, and clearly processors are too.  I also think companies are jumping on a bit of a bandwagon.  With the OLPC rpoject getting so much press and at least one manufacturer (ASUS) having success with its own UMPC (the EEE PC), this is the market to get into right now.  Consumers, I think, are also realising that they don’t need a $2000 computer just to check their email and surf the web (sales of the Air are not stellar as far as I know).

I came across two good sites recently, one highlights the new HP ultra-portable (a bit of a high-end device) and the other covers the range of UMPC’s available.

HP launches The Linux Powered Mini Note Micro Notebook
Liliputing: A comprehensive List of Low-Cost Ultra Portables

This is a very exciting development.  I will say, I don’t think any of the big players here have made the perfect one for very young children.  I would add touch-screen, tablet-like behavior to make it truly friendly to younger children.  Some of those listed at Liliputing have tablet abilities, but I would still like to see HP, Asus or Apple try their hand at this.  Apple, interestingly, has a patent on a dual-screen laptop that might be very interesting.  Instead of a keybaord on the lower half of the laptop, it has another screen, with the ability to do all teh things the iPhone does in terms of virtual keyboard, multi-touch interface and even, potentially, more screen real-estate.  That would be cool!

As for me, I am pining after the new Asus EEE 900.

And thinking of moving my next school to linux-based portables for students.  Any thoughts?  Leave a comment.

Some Predictions

I have not posted anything in a while as I have been busy working with a group of students on an iMovie project.  Now that it is over we are looking at the end of term and some final tech projects.  One teacher has asked her students to create a memory using some kind of digital format, movie, podcast, or whatever.  Hmmm, just thinking, VoiceThread might be a good idea.

Anyway, while discussing this with students today we started a discussion of memories and keeping things to share with their children.  Someone suggested a blog would be a good memory.  I quipped that the blog server (we host the students’ blogs locally) will not be around in 20 years and they were shocked.  What did that mean?

So I had to break the news to them that the Internet is not permanent.  Indeed, I told them, the Internet will likely not exist as we know it in 20 years.  I stand by that prediction.

Even now the Net Neutrality issue threatens to change the nature of the democratic web.  If companies and countries can control access to sites and give more bandwidth or more access to certain sites and kill others if they disagree with them or if they can’t pay enough, the web as we know it will change irrevocably.

And I think, soon is my guess, that the need to upload things, to use WordPress or a hosting company, will go away.  A computer, on the network, has an IP address and a unique hardware address.  That can and will likely be accessible from the Internet or the wider network.  Why should I have to post my photos on a photo sharing site?  I have my photos in iPhoto and I can chose to share them on the network.  Anyone should be able to find me and see them.

And I will not really need my computer much anymore.  Perhaps if I am doing some work of a particularly complex nature, or that visually requires a big screen, I might need a computer, but otherwise, my iPhone is pretty good right now at most things I like to do.  I can browse the Net, send and receive messages, cal people, watch videos, etc.  Soon devices like that will also take video, allow simple editing and uploading or sharing and then, I won;t really need my computer to create content and share it.  I can type alright on the iPhone, update my blog, connect to FaceBook, etc. right now and these kind of small portable devices wil only get better and more powerful.  The Network they exist on will become more and more ubiquitous and soon I will be on-line all the time.  Connected all the time.  So then I can be sharing content and viewing content anytime anywhere.  So why would I need a hosting company?  Why would I need a computer?

I don’t know if something like the iPhone will be able to do all the things I do with a computer, but my prediction is that we will change what we want to do with the computer based on the devices we have and the services and software that wil be created to harness their abilities and size.

So, no Internet (as we know it) in 20 years (likely sooner) and no bulky computers (for personal use).  Mark my words, becasue this blog won’t be here in 20 years to come back and check.

EARCOS 2008: Jeff Utecht Students as Creators

techlearning.com/blog

Today’s web is a social medium.

Teacher’s are no longer the gate-keepers of information.

Youtube in the classroom:

  • videos available on virtually every topic
  • teachertube.com
  • copyright? creative commons license
  • students already using youtube, give them something to do while they are there
  • if you can’t find it on YouTube, create it

Web 3.0:

  • semantic web

Web 4.0

  • web OS

Club Penguin, Second Life virtual worlds

Alumni sites should be set on FaceBook, instead of independently.

EARCOS 2008: Session 5 Dennis Harter 21st Century Skills

I.T Curriculum 2.0

Technology offers new opportunities in education

What do we do about it?  How can we change schools when schools are very good at not changing?

What do students need to  do or to be able to do to be successful?

  • communicate
  • learn independently
  • create
  • understand information
  • values?
  • speak another language
  • collaborate

What are the obstacles to a successful embedded IT curriculum?

  • teachers resistance to change
  • teachers too busy to plan
  • teachers have a full plate
  • tech changes too fast
  • tech is not reliable or dependable
  • it is overwhelming to try to do it all
  • putting stuff out there on the web (wiki and blogs) is dangerous in terms of inappropriate content and spamming

Firstly, we must accept that the way IT integration is done right now is not working.  Having an IT curriculum is not working.  IT and student skills are advancing faster than we can write a skills-based curriculum.

Why can’t they learn IT the way they live IT?

You learn IT when you need it.

Students, digital natives, know how to entertain themselves, but they are not good educating themselves online.

What are the enduring understandings?  They are not PowerPoint or Word.  So what are the essential questions for 21st century literacy?

New Literacy Wikispace

Rubrics for evaluating these enduring understandings are included on the wiki.

Do teachers have the skillset to teach the enduring understandings?

Co-teaching helps embed the IT into the classroom.

IT needs to be infused into school and not just done once in grade 3 and checked off as complete.

The big challenge is to help teachers build rich units and lessons that embed technology naturally and relevantly.

Making it happen:

    1. development of framework and essential questions
    2. curriculum office involvement and refinement
    3. leadership team buy-in
    4. teacher buy-in and PD

    Layers:

    1. ISB has created a vision of what 21st century learner looks like.
    2. Enduring understandings
    3. Essential questions

    Much of this has been the focus of library curriculum for the past decade.  But why has it not made it into the classroom?  Librarians have not had the mandate to collaborate and co-teach to the same degree as IT integration specialists.

    Assessment?

    if IT is truly embedded then good rubrics and content area assessments will take care of it.

    My thoughts: if IT is truly embedded in the curriculum, then students can not graduate without IT skills?  Teachers can not teach, they can not successfully deliver their curriculum without the technology.  IT must be built into the curriculum.

      EARCOS 2008: Session 3 Kim Cofino Developing the Global Student

      I tried using Twitter this morning to take notes in a conference session.  Did not really like it as a note-taking tool.  Now will try this.

      Session 3: Kim Cofino: Developing the Global Student

      • How are students today different?
      • What are 21st century skills?
      • Effective learners
      • effective collaborators
      • effective creators
      • its just good teaching
      • can good teaching be truly effective without technology tools?

      In our previous session we talked about technology plans and getting buy-in from teachers.  It needs to be a parallel conversation of series of conversations about technology integration, good teaching and the technology tools needed to support learning.  Asking teachers what they need does not necessarily guide a tech plan as teachers do not necessarily know what they do not know; they rely on the tech staff to guide them and tell them what is out there right now and what would be a good use of technology.  Asking tech staff what teachers should be doing and using also does not guide a tech plan either as techies know the technology and maybe even the pedagogical uses, but they do not really know the curriculum.  It needs to be an ongoing conversation.

      Embedded technology not “integrated”

      [slideshare id=161540&doc=developing-the-global-student-v2-1194743695449510-4&w=425]

      Slideshow: Kim Cofino, ISB Bangkok

      Three Reasons I am Sticking with Firefox over Safari 3.1

      I love my Mac.  I really do.  I loved my MacBook and now I love my Macbook Pro.  I prefer OSX to XP or the various Linux flavours I have tried and I like the iLife suite.  I kept my blog using iWeb for awhile and most of the feedback I got when I switched to WordPress was that folks liked the iWeb one better in terms of looks.  So I guess I am a fanboy.  So, when Safari 3.1 came out and people said it was fast, I downloaded it right away and moved all my bookmarks over from Firefox 3.  Safari would be the perfect browser.  Sleek, clean, fast, with all the features I could need.

      After only a few days I returned to Firefox. Here’s why:

      1. Multi-tabbed Home:

      In Firefox I have my three favorite starting places set as my Home pages.  Call me greedy, but I open these three sites every time I get on the web, so I might as well have my browser open them right away, no?  Safari wouldn’t let me.  At least I couldn’t figure out how.

      2. RSS subscription handling:

      When I find a new site I want to subscribe to, I want to add it to my iGoogle page.  It’s my main home page and I like to see all my RSS feeds on that page.  A great new feature of Safari 3.1 is the way it handles RSS feeds right in Safari, but I want to have a choice as to where I read my feeds.  Safari doesn’t ask me.  This reminds me of why I switched from using iWeb to WordPress.  Control.  Steve Jobs makes things nice and easy for folks, but he is a bit of a control freak.  This is not news to anyone I am sure, but I do get frustrated when I grow beyond the nice and easy ilife stuff and go looking for where I can save my iWeb as HTML and its just not there.  Or when I want to set Safari to let me add my RSS subscriptions to my iGoogle page and it just does what it wants.  Firefox asks me nicely if I want to add a new feed to iGoogle or Google Reader.  Thanks Firefox.

      thanks firefox

      3. Downloads Button:

      Finally, (and this is a little thing but I use it a lot) there’s the “Downloads” button on my Firefox toolbar.

      downloads button

      I like this button. I missed it in Safari.  I download things a lot.  Maybe I am funny that way.  But I like to check on their progress and I like having this little button right up there where I can get to it without having to go to the Window menu and choose Downloads.  Too many clicks, that.  So I tried adding a button like that to my Safari toolbar.  No can do.

        I have not mentioned plug-ins (Firefox has them and Safari doesn’t) or GreaseMonkey scripts (ditto) because I don’t use them.  But It is nice to know that I can, if I want, seek out a new feature and install it in Firefox.

        For me, these things, while not terribly important, are enough to make me use Firefox 3 over Safari 3.1.  They are small things, but they are important to me.  If anyone can tell me in the comments how to set Safari to open several tabs when it launches or add a new tolbar button for the Downloads window I guess I might give Safari another try.  Otherwise, I might as well use the one that does what I want. Right?  Sorry Steve.

        Twitter expands the walls

        David Parry, academicdave on twitter, writes about using Twitter in his classroom.  The most interesting bit is how he found it expanded the walls of the classroom.  Students, having a shared classroom experience and context, twittered while away from class about things that reminded them of classroom topics and events and tied their outside experiences together with each other and with the class.  He also promises a future post on the nuts and bolts of using twitter in the classroom.