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
It is inevitable that eventually a school will be able to purchase a total, mobile learning package. But today, putting a pedagogically effective mobile learning initiative into a K-12 classroom means putting pieces to a puzzle together. Based on personal experiences in mobile learning classrooms we are here to bear witness: it IS worth the struggle!
- By Cathie Norris, Elliot Soloway
Apple's new software lets anyone create digitally rich eBooks for iPads. iBooks Author experts Joe Wood and Burt Lo share why this new software is important and how to introduce it to schools right now.
- By Burt Lo, Joe Wood
In the first installment this two-part series, we looked at chat as an instructional tool in general terms. Now we take a look at some of the major concepts in using chat effectively in the process of moving the thinking process forward: building ideas, constructing media, and establishing which elements are critical to making the environment dynamic and relevant to the student.
Biometrics are among the latest implementations for school security. There are many issues to consider, which have been voiced by parents, students, and civil liberties groups. It's an international issue. Just look at LeaveThemKidsAlone.com, and you will see the extent of the uproar raised in the United Kingdom regarding fingerprinting of children in schools. For the most part, questions are the same ones being posed in our own country. Blogs are in use to discuss the issue in the United States and abroad, such as Pippa King's Biometrics in Schools.
- By Patricia Deubel
The experts tell us that a pandemic is inevitable. The only question is when it will happen. Is your organization ready? Can you keep essential IT functions running? What can you do to be prepared?
The start of any school year can be very stressful for a building- or district-level technology director. To deal with the pressure, here are a few tips to help you get through the first few weeks. Some of these suggestions are too late to implement this year; however, it’s never too early to start planning ahead for next year.
While the wider uses of technology have increased student awareness of what is possible, within teaching and learning technology use often remains quite stagnant and out of date based on notions of what good teaching looks like and how standards must drive the process rather than the process itself. This is most clearly seen in current course delivery software platforms, which remain supportive of teacher-driven instructional design and content production and delivery. But a tension now exists between the potential for individual customization that threatens the very essence of conventional wisdom in course design and delivery.
As social media becomes ubiquitous, schools and districts should shift from trying to control its use and toward teaching faculty and students how to build successful learning communities.
The issue of assigning homework is controversial in terms of its purpose, what to assign, the amount of time needed to complete it, parental involvement, its actual affect on learning and achievement, and impact on family life and other valuable activities that occur outside of school hours. I have encountered all of those controversies in my years of teaching mathematics. Math homework is usually a daily event. Unfortunately, many teachers assign most homework from problem sets following the section of the text that was addressed that day. There is little differentiation. For the most part the entire class gets the same assignment. (In fairness, teachers do take into consideration the nature of those problems, which are often grouped by difficulty, deciding which to assign based on the general ability level of students in the class: below average, average, above average, or mixed.)
- By Patricia Deubel