Second Life appears to be the biggest online community to hit the Internet in recent times. It's a 3D digital world, imagined, created, and owned by its residents, which number more than 7 million from more than 100 countries at the time of this writing. It's not a site that most K-12 educators would consider using, as Second Life requires residents in its main grid to be at least 18. A number of businesses, universities, libraries, museums, and a few educational organizations that cater to K-12 have joined Second Life, and at least one middle school, Suffern Middle School (NY). As a newbie, I wondered what the excitement is all about and decided to explore. What I found was that reading about Second Life and actually experiencing it are a world apart.
- By Patricia Deubel
Podcasts are increasingly being used in K-12 and in higher education. In part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed their nature, demonstrated their potential for learning, and pointed out that in developing podcasts, students become involved with the project method, which is a real-world experience. I also voiced my concern that many podcasts I've heard suffer from poor quality of the audio, content, and speaker presentation. Accessibility is also a major issue that is being overlooked in their development. Let's now look at what you might do to improve the quality and accessibility of your podcasts, so that all learners can benefit, including those with disabilities.
- By Patricia Deubel
As we move into what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts as an above normal Atlantic hurricane season, this month's column will focus on a little considered aspect of disaster recovery, personal business continuity. What does business continuity have to do with security? Both are based anticipating and planning for bad things. So don't be surprised when your boss wants you to be on the organization's disaster recovery team. You may be surprised at how much you can contribute.
Podcasts are becoming popular for educational purposes. Increasingly students in K-12 and in higher education are creating podcasts to demonstrate what they are learning. The technology is becoming so important that online course management systems, such as Angel Learning, are now incorporating features enabling content providers to include podcasting. However, many of those I've heard appear to be created by individuals experimenting with the technology and suffer from poor quality in the audio, content, and speaker presentation.
- By Patricia Deubel
Have you ever wondered what the "THE" in THE Journal means? Occasionally? Even fleetingly? No? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It stands for "Technological Horizons in Education." Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Hence the acronym. But that aside, what it indicates is that we take as our premise that technology is inherently beneficial to education--that it can make the lives of educators easier, that it can facilitate learning, and that it can, when approached the right way, stimulate new ideas about learning and the teaching process. (And, as a side benefit, it happens to keep all of you IT folk off the streets.)
With the move to hybrid or "blended" course delivery that is taking place in many institutions, there is a challenge for teachers to think through the pedagogical implications of both methods and develop new designs for instruction and course delivery that maximizes both environments. The goal in the design of the instruction is to make the experience as "seamless" as possible for students, providing intentionality for each environment and the technology used. This intentionality must emerge from the learning outcomes of the course, as well as the engagement of the student throughout and the effective use of technology to heighten interaction and to support the production of learning.
As part of an ongoing effort to assess the role of technology in education, the United States Department of Education (ED) has started seeking comments from those who work closely with it. Last week ED sent out a request for opinions from the public, looking to "hear your ideas on the integration of technology in education." We at THE Journal see this as a fantastic opportunity for educators and administrators to bolster federal support for ed tech and encourage all of our readers to participate.
More and more schools across the country are bringing digital media into the curriculum--from digital painting and graphic arts to digital print production to digital video editing. In particular, there seems to be a surge of activity in the digital video editing space, with schools offering courses designed as either electives to fulfill an art requirement or as prep for students looking to pursue careers in production and post-production.
Following last month's unprecedented massacre at Virginia Tech, security has, once again, temporarily moved to the top of the policy agenda in schools. As educators, parents, school staff, and concerned human beings in general, we all want to provide the absolute safest environment possible for the children in our care. Incidents of violence on college and school campuses remind us of our vulnerabilities. Couple this feeling of vulnerability with major media coverage, and we wind up with pressures both internal and external pushing administrators into immediate action.
My own quest for "The Truth about Biometric Devices in Schools" led to this three-part series on biometrics in K-12. It's a controversial topic, not just in the United States, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, which has its own concerned citizens fighting to ban fingerprinting of children in schools. My premise has been that before you decide to ban its use or buy into biometrics, you need to have an understanding of the technology itself and applications available, knowledge of key issues and concerns that have been raised, a keen eye for vendor claims, and then a sound business plan of action that leads to a security solution you really need.
- By Patricia Deubel