2007-12-29T13:10:36.100-07:00I did it. I bought myself a domain name and I have moved my professional website to a new location. I would like to welcome you to Shawn Wheeler’s Digital Portfolio located at www.shawnwheeler.name. This site will serve as a home base to the many projects I find myself involved as well as hosting my blog Shawn Wheeler’s Thoughts on Education & Technology which is now located at http://shawnwheeler.name/blog/.
2007-12-29T13:10:12.696-07:00I have been in the technology side of education my entire career. First in the classroom with 7th and 8th grade students and now I work with adults. During the past ten years, I have seen a number of changes, including and probably the most significant, the explosion of the internet. When I first started, fewer people had access to the internet and there were even fewer web pages. We created pages in raw code using simple text or note pad. Finding a location to host a site was even more of a mystery and finding people who knew how to run a web server was nothing short of finding a needle in a haystack. These skills soon became a job necessity.
2007-12-29T13:09:04.079-07:00On occasion, I sit down and read a real book. You know the type with pages that you can turn, hold, smell and sometimes even injure yourself. However, most of my reading comes in the form of web sites, blogs, PDF files, email etc… A few years ago I bought an iPod so I could become a podcaster. (Shhh don’t tell anyone but you don’t need the ipod. Click here to see what you really need.) Not long after that, I discovered Audible.com. Having been a longtime fan of books on tape this was a perfect fit for my new tool.
2007-11-04T12:58:38.075-07:00Web Filters getting in the way of YouTube and Google Video content.
2007-10-21T15:15:08.145-07:00I just got back from T+L 2007 and it is time to recall and document everything I saw worth remembering. This year, I lucked out because every presentation I attended was great. The one I am going to write about now was called “Personal Computing: New Solutions for the Classroom @ Web 2.0” and it was facilitated by Jim Hirsch of Plano Independent School District. Just a couple items before we start, I am going to hit the points that caught my attention. However, I highly recommend you review his slide deck and the resources he has listed on the two web sites below. The slide deck Jim used during his presentation is linked here and to the title of the presentation above.http://k-12.pisd.edu/c@es/ http://k-12.pisd.edu/open/As Jim rolled through his slide deck, he pointed out the many differences between who we were as students and the students who attend our schools. In addition, he pointed out something I had never thought about. Back in the day, our TV heroes were individuals and now, our TV heroes are teams of people who have to work together and collaborate. Jim completed the point with a slide that read:The Lesson from Version 2.0 heroes in TV and teaching?Collaboration – not just sharing – is the way in which our students expect to find in information, solve problems and create new understandingsSitting in that room, I wrote the following on my note pad. “Individual learning is transforming (or should be) to team learning”. I thought to myself, we have been talking about this for several years but we still have yet to make any major jumpContinuing through his slide deck, Jim started into Web 2.0 and he began with the video “The machine is us/ing us” by Mike Wesch and it is available on both YouTube and TeacherTube. As you watch this video for the first or fiftieth time, think about how long we have had access to this technology and how it has changed our day-to-day lives as well as what impact it has had on our classrooms.While you debate in your mind how our classrooms have changed for the positive or negative with all this digital and hyper data, consider these items Jim placed on the screen which connect our students.Social networkingGooglization of Everything“Fingertip Knowledge”Probably the most prevalent and contentious Social Networks we as teachers are aware of is Facebook and My Space. Are these sites contentious because they are evil or is it we just don’t understand them? Should we as educators learn about them or ignore them and hope they go away? What should be we be teaching out students about these social networks? While you debate that concept in your mind, click these four links to the Peoria Unified School District web site. November 1996 – November 1998 – November 2002 – Today. Did you know the Way Back Machine has 589 versions of the Peoria web site? Do you think our students would be as apt to place “VERY” personal content on the web if they knew it may never go away?Googlization? Is that even a word? Hardly a day goes by that I don’t “Google” something or someone and you may be the same way. My library had a card catalog now the world has Google!Fingertip Knowledge? I looked at my fingertips just now and asked them what they knew! While they didn’t speak to me, if they could they would have told me to Google it! We tend to remember less today because we know more. Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron but think about this point Jim made. We used to remember phone numbers. Lots of phone numbers, yet today if I want to know the number of my cell phone, I have to flip it over as the number is taped on the back. Is this really a new concept or just a new name? Thirty years ago I stood looking at a library of law books in my mother’s office. I asked her boss if he knew all the information in those books. He patted my head and said “No Shawn, I just know where to look.” The modern attorney does too, but now he/she looks them up online. Hmm Fingertip Knowl[...]
2007-10-20T23:48:18.357-07:00Have you ever heard the term KISS? Keep it simple stupid? Sure you have and that is exactly what I thought the first time I ever saw a CommonCraft video on You Tube. Tonight I watch the newest (new to me that is) video on Social Bookmarking and specifically del.icio.us. Once again, Lee did a great job explaining a concept. More importantly to me, he did it low tech. Too many time I have seen others (okay you can include me here too) get so caught up in the glitter and wow factor, they lose site of the big picture.
2007-10-21T15:30:08.483-07:00This top ten list came from Dave Mirra’s of Stafford County Public Schools round table discussion (with 60 people in attendance) at the 2007 T + L conference in Nashville Tennessee. I would have loved to have captured the audio as the discussion was great. In the end, most of this seems like common sense. Even if common sense isn’t that common. Whatever you call it, the list is worth reading and incorporating into your environment.Top Ten List LegendBold Italic = Dave’s list. Standard text = my commentary from notes and memory of the discussion.Why - Is it part of an overall plan or strategy? Don’t buy it just because it is cool or new!How MUCH? - What is the total cost of ownership? Hardware and software is just the tip of the cost. Consider professional development and ongoing support!Who are the cheerleaders?- Who is the primary advocate? Who is the owner?- Who will provide support? Example: Who owns the Human Resources Systems? The tongue in cheek answer is… If it is working, HR. If it is broke, IT. Just because it runs on the network doesn’t mean IT is the owner but this needs to be worked out before hand.Who is the teacher?- What is the training plan? Often professional development is the first thing to be removed from the budget. This is a mistake. More money should be spent on training than equipment and software.Plastic my boy plastics- Public Relations for the schools and community. Put on a Technology Expo for your community. Do it on a Saturday and demonstrate what technology is available and how it is being used and have students demonstrating whenever possible.Traffic light management- Simple data management for school leaders. Technology equipment needs to be refreshed (replaced based on a recycle or replacement plan). Having an easy to read database, or list will help school leaders, Governing Boards and the community understand what equipment is available, the age and when it should be replaced. Red, Green and Yellow was recommend to help make the process more visual. Field of dreams- Infrastructure considerations are vital! Before you buy and implement the technology, consider the network requirements and its ramifications on the network. Give assigned seats- Organizational structure must support the operationsI’m Sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.- Infrastructure limitation (Human and Technical) IT shops don’t like to say no but they have to be careful of overloading their resources. Can it be done with what is available or can staff in the schools be trained to help support themselves?The best statement was from a school board member sitting in the room who said we all needed to pay attention to what Dave was saying and make sure this information is made available to our communities because we can’t do it without funding and we can’t get funding without their support. I believe she hit the nail on the head!Shawn Wheeler T+L2007 Dave Mirra T + L 2007[...]
2007-09-22T13:23:52.445-07:00I really didn’t wake a dog nor am I an old dog. However, I woke up and realized I am now pushing the big 40 (I really have 13 months BUT STILL…) and a number of the people I see walking into my lab for New Employee Technology Orientation are younger than the truck I drive.Recently, I attended a committee meeting where I learned that ½ of our teaching staff had less than 5 years experience in my school district and many of these folks have less than 5 years experience period. That new knowledge caused my forehead to wrinkle while at the same time explained quite a bit.Let me give you a bit of background on the scene. Ten years ago, I sat in huge hall listening to the Superintendent tell all the staff that we were going to put a computer on EVERY TEACHERS desk in the next three years. My palms began to sweat and I thought “OH MY! How will we ever teach all these people how to use the computer?” Fortunately, I had a boss at the time whose problem it really was and I could do what I was told. Today, those types of statements are my problem to deal with and really don’t scare me. In fact, they are the types of challenges I thrive on.Over the past three years, I have seen a number of questions come to me in the form of phone calls or email and a few face-to-face asking, demanding and sometime begging for access to various web sites, software and equipment. I keep thinking to myself, don’t these people realize how good they have it and don’t they remember when we didn’t have any of this “Stuff”? Well, they don’t, because they were not here in the beginning.Back to today. While sitting in that committee meeting scribbling out the words 50% less than 5 years experience, I thought to myself, “Shawn, you became an old dog and you better learn a new trick!”What has to change?When I started teaching technology to adults I would literally hold up a mouse and explain what it was, left vs. right click and which finger to use when right clicking. I would also explain to them the CD Rom drive was not a cup holder and the proper way to insert a floppy disk. Most of my students were happy to be there and learn how to use this new tool.Today, I have students, (adults students), with multiple as well as wide spread technology skills. Many suffer from a phenomenon Linda Stone is calling “Continuous Partial Attention”. This phenomenon is common in the average classroom; it is somewhat new to those of us on the Professional Development side of the house. The question of the day or challenge is what to do? What to change and how to do this successfully? Like many questions, I don’t have an answer which is the reason for this post and the posts to come. My intention is to blog about this challenge, how my team and I work through these challenges and document what to and what not to do the next time. Who are my students? Certified Teachers and Administrators Classified Staff (All areas) Age group 19 to 65 Extremely varied computer skills which cross all job classifications, age groups and genders. Hello Houston, can you say challenge? Can you say, “Been there done that”? Looking at the above text, I can too. So what is so different this time? More on that in Part 2. TechnoratiEducation K-12 Shawn Wheeler Linda Stone K-12 Continuous Partial Attention CAP[...]
2008-11-12T22:12:44.178-07:00StarOffice 8 & Sun Weblog Publisher Way back in January, the 20 th of 2007 to be exact, I published “ The Biggest Kid in School aka Big Companies on my blog. http://shawnwheeler.blogspot.com This past May, I received an email from Danny Begonia from LPP.com asking if I would be interested in trying StarOffice 8.0 and the new Sun Weblog Publisher. After I recovered from the initial shock of learning someone actually reads my blog, I said sure. Today is Saturday, August 11, 2007. School starts Monday and I am hiding out in my air conditioned home office. A must have (air conditioning that is) when you live in Phoenix. Today is the day I test StarOffice 8.0 with the Weblog Publisher add on. Conditions: I am working on a Virtual PC running Windows XP with 350 megabytes of RAM allocated to the virtual machine. Software: Windows XP, Sun StarOffice 8.0 with the Weblog Publisher Plugin. As much as I would love to give you a full evaluation of StarOffice 8.0 today, time just doesn't permit that. Therefore, I am going to concentrate on what I was asked, evaluate blog Publishing with Sun Weblog Publisher. Starting at the beginning I installed StarOffice 8.0 from the CD supplied by Danny. Next I downloaded the Sun Weblog Publisher from my e-mail. (This too was supplied by Danny.) This is where I hit my first challenge as there was a slight difference between the supplied installation instructions and how it really works. Have no fear, I will share with you what I have learned. To install Sun Weblog Publisher for StarOffice 8.0 follow these steps: Install StarOffice Launch StarOffice Writer Click the Tools Menu Select Package Manager (Note: This deviates from the instructions.) Click the Add button. Locate and select Sun Weblog Publisher package file. Click the Open button. The package will install. Close the package manager window. Close StarOffice 8.0. Re-launch StarOffice 8.0, notice the Weblog tool bar on the screen and in the menu bar. Your are done. Almost. Before you can publish your blog post, you must setup StarOffice 8.0 with your Blog software. To do this... Click the Weblog menu and select Settings. In the Weblog Setting dialog box, click the Add... button. Choose the type of blogging software you use in the Type drop box Type your user name and password in the appropriate fields and click Ok. You will soon see your weblog(s) available to you. Click the Ok button. You are set. At this point, you are ready to create your blog post and publish. In a nutshell, all you need to do is click Send to Weblog under the Weblog menu and wait. What did I like about the Sun Weblog Publisher? It is just easy to use. I set my formatting the way I wanted in StarOffice Writer 8.0 and published. The formatting came across in the blog along with my hyperlinks. That doesn't always happen when I paste my entries in using the blogger.com interface. What didn't I like about the Sun Weblog Publisher? Really I have only two complaints about this product and the first is so minor it is not hardly worth mentioning. However, I did say I would evaluate this product. The directions for installation were not clear. They were close enough that I was successful with a bit of hunting but that could be a frustration for some. The second thing that bothered me is the fact my images didn't publish. In reality, I published this post twice. The first time to see the process so I could write about it. The second time was the finished product. What I discovered is my images, which were screen captures, didn't upload. That is some what frustrating considering the image on the Sun Web site shows a person publishing a picture to their blog. (See image below. :) ) If my opinion mattered... I would like to see this product give the option of adding Techno[...]
2007-07-27T22:34:33.691-07:00For almost two years now, I have been running a Podcast titled Adventures in Podcasting, which is about Podcasting and RSS in the Peoria School District. Like many things I become excited about, I share what I have learned with anyone who will listen. Some of those people come willingly, while others I hold by their own belt. (Just kidding, I use duct tape to hold them.)
2008-11-12T22:12:44.243-07:00It is 104 degrees, the wind is blowing at a soft 5 miles an hour from the northeast and I am sitting in the shade atop a 65 foot house boat along with the favorite beverage of Jimmy Buffet. A 12-year old young man just walked by with a digital camera in hand saying, “This should be good, my mom is going to ride the 550 Jet Ski.” The kids with us do not realize we adults were once young too. 300 yards out, “Mom” stood up and rode across the lake. Much to his surprise, he said, “She did better than I did.”You may ask yourself, why is a person sitting at Lake Powell writing a blog? Easy, I have time and I have discovered I enjoy writing. Over the next several days, I will hide out atop this boat and blog or write articles to post on my blog when I return home.As you know, I try to keep my blog focused to Education Technology and I will try to stay true to form over the next few days. However, I am reserving the right to stray a bit right now. One of the first things that struck me before we even left town was the amount of technology we needed just to take this trip and it made me wonder how we did it in the past. This post will focus on technology used on this trip and maybe at some point I will be able to pull all of this together and again focus on Education Technology.As we left town the first tool we needed to communicate was a cell phone or should I say phones. A common tool to most people today, we actually used this device to communicate the location of the five families. In years past, the only way to communicate was the use of the “wired” telephone and this only worked while you were at home. Once on the road, it was the Citizen Band (CB) radio that allowed us to communicate and those were only good for 5 miles or so. While none of these tools turned out to be perfect, it sure beat sending up smoke signals.Once on the road, I found myself making the statement I have heard from my father so many times in the past. “Don’t give me a reason to pull this car over” Ironically, each child had their own portable DVD player sitting in their lap while mom and dad drove shuffling songs on the video IPod.In years past, we would have never left home without a suitcase full of cassette tapes and recent years a notebook full of CD’s. Shh, do not tell anyone but we still have a notebook of CD’s on the boat. Some people are just not early adopters.Then there is the case of the portable DVD players. What parent in their right mind would buy DVD players for each kid. Ones who take long car rides is who!Six hours later, 15 phone calls, three movies a the trip to the infamous Mc Donald’s in Flagstaff and KFC in Page, we were just waiting for the sun to come up before we set out on our waterbound adventure.The houseboat, while 15-years old has all the modern convenience one would expect. It has a ship to shore radio, two refrigerators, a deep freeze, AM FM radio, CD player, TV with VCR and DVD player, generator, hot water, gas pump, shower, two sea going toilets and Air Conditioning. Where we are currently anchored, we even have cell service. Rugged, we are not!Even with all the comforts of home, we still found something to complain about. As we compared house boating with motor homing, we noticed that the black water holding tank didn’t have a level meter. (For those of you who do not know what “Black Water” is, I will try to describe it as gently as possible. When you wash your hands or take a shower, you produce gray water. When you do that other thing people do in a bathroom, you create black water.) Because of this inconvenience, you have a choice, use the bathroom until it is full and you find out the hard way or take it to the pump station. We chose not to wait.Now most people do not associate technology with anything other th[...]
2007-07-04T20:49:10.629-07:00I didn’t want bring a laptop computer to the lake and I really didn’t want to try and write by hand then transcribe the chicken scratch I call writing. So how did I manage? I used the NEO by Alphasmart and I have to tell you it is one impressive little machine. This particular machine I have had for a few years but have never used it much. Mostly because I have access to power for my laptop, where ever I am. However, at Lake Powell, power was an issue but not for this little machine.I will not go into all the technical details but I will provide a link to the Alphasmart web site. With that said, the machine sports a full “normal” keyboard as well as 40 characters by 4-row LED display. The only thing it does not have is a backlight, which is okay; I shouldn’t be blogging in the dark anyway.In a day or two I will plug this machine into my computer at home, pull off this article along with the other I wrote and post them on my blog. I may even add another paragraph or two, to give you the full picture of how this machine can be used. However, at this point, I would say to anyone reading, if you think you or a student cannot write on an Alphasmart, you have not tried.At this point, I am even considering keeping it with me so I can capture thoughts in my head as they happen. With a 15-second boot time, I think it might just work.Now that I am home, I pulled the Alphasmart out of my backpack to download or transfer the two articles to my desktop computer. I turned on the Alphasmart, opened the file I wanted to transfer, plugged in the USB cable to my computer then to the Alphasmart. Next, I launched Word 2007, then pressed the Send button on the Alphasmart. As I sat back, I watched my words appear on my screen. Talk about cool!Once Word had my writing captured, it was re-read, edit and publish.As a parting comment, I have to give this little machine kudos for cool and convenient. Powered by 3 AA batteries and its quick boot time, this will become a very convenient tool for me to put my thoughts about Education Technology down on cyber paper. Now if I could come up with some thoughts.Education Technology K-12 K12 Shawn Wheeler AlphaSmart [...]
2008-11-12T22:12:44.685-07:00Every once in a while I have what I think is a great idea that doesn’t turn out to be so great. A few weeks ago, I setup a Wikispace for a professional organization to which I am a member. My thought was to create a place where members could share information concerning Education Technology as well as what they have learned at our regional conferences. Sounds like a good idea right? Right!The problem was not with the idea but with the implementation of the Wiki. You also have to realize that I am very uptight about file management. I like to have files organized by categories and/or types. Perhaps this is from too many years of building and maintaining web sites.To help set the stage, I created a Wikispace. (http://aztea.wikispaces.com) Next, I created a new page for each of the four chapters in the organization. Each chapter host a conference throughout the year so I thought a page for each conference would be a good idea. Next, I created a page for the Way Out West Conference for 2007 this included future links to pages for each conference session. (See the diagram below for the page link structure.)Click the Image to see full size.Once the basic Wikispace was created, I recruited Peggy George to help me create and link the conference session pages. As we chattered away over SKYPE, we create the 40 conference session pages. With each new page, I noticed the list of available pages to link to was growing. While these new pages are not a major issue at this time, I could see this continual growing list become a huge problem for future AzTEA conferences. Consider this, the Way Out West conference add 40 pages Wikispace and to the list. If each of the other chapters added 40 pages to the Wikispace, the list would grow to 160 items, thus making it a challenge to find the correct page to link. Adding to that challenge was the realization that 160 links would only take care of this particular year. Each year AzTEA could add an additional 160 pages to the Wikispace along with the 160 links in the list.Is there a solution? Absolutely!A better way to handle this challenge is to analyze the problem. As stated above, I have too many pages creating an issue when linking pages in the Wikispace and this problem will be exacerbated each year. However, if I were to create a new Wikispace for each years conference, the list of links would not grow out of control.Click the Image to see full size.Does this solution have a few design flaws too? YES it does. In our current AzTEA Wikispace environment, we are able to invite members to the main AzTEA Wikispace. This will allow members to participate in any page within the Wikispace. Creating a new Wikispace for each conference will require participants to be members of each Wikispace to add content. We could also not require membership to participate in the Wikispace. Some may find that to be a not to be an option. However, I am willing to give it a try. [...]
Many years ago, I watched my father trim the hedges outside our home. Being too little to run the electric hedge trimmers, I was told to stand back out of the way until it was time to rake up the clippings. Feeling left out (I wanted to trim something too), I grabbed the hand clippers and went to work on the rose bushes. I might add they were in bloom. Within minutes, I had managed to trim the bushes into beautiful thorny stalks. As I, stood back to admire my work, I was so proud to view the symmetry and alignment these bushes now had. That is, I was proud until my father walked around the corner of the house. I quickly learned that I was not correct. He told me that rose bushes do need to be trimmed but I had done it wrong. I felt horrible and more so when my mom came out to view my handy work. To this day, I do not like to trim rose bushes.
So, what does this have to do with Education Technology? I recently had a chance to listen to a speaker discuss the uses of technology in education (I am being polite with the word discuss.) Over the course of 90 minutes I began to get that same sick feeling, I had with the rose bushes so many years before. The longer the speaker talked, the more the use of technology was criticized. To be clear, the person was not criticizing the technology per say but more the methodology of how we were using it in our classrooms.
Any good educator will reflect (self-criticize) on their classroom noting what worked well and what requires improvement. Any good educator will also seek council from colleagues, books, seminars, conferences, classes etc… with the end goal being to improve student learning.
Criticism when used in a constructive manner can be quite valuable and the constructive part of the criticism is most important. Just telling a person they are not doing something correctly doesn’t help them. Helping a person see there is a more effective way does. It takes a skilled person to tell a person they are wrong, help them improve and make them feel good about themselves while they are improving. Done incorrectly, a person will shut down, become withdrawn and refuse to try anything in the future.
While I am on this soapbox of criticism, I had better practice what I am preaching. So, here are the things I would recommend to anyone presenting information on education technology or anything else for that matter:
Information conveyed in this manner will help people understand they may need to improve (change) things they have done without making them feel like failures. In the end, it is not what you say but how you say IT.
2007-04-04T00:22:23.050-07:00I love satire and this video is pure satire. I have spent my career helping people lose their anxiety when it comes to working with a computer or computer related technology. Last week a friend of mine showed this YouTube video to me and I had to laugh as I have had this person in class. In fact, I have had this person in class today. Enjoy.
2007-03-19T19:46:34.310-07:00I started out building web pages using simple text and notepad back in the days we dreamt of doing cool things on a web page. For several years, I chased the “cool factor” looking to one up the next page with some effect that WOW my audience. (Gee, as I write this, I sound like a kid learning to use the effects and transitions in PowerPoint.
We all know a friendly or memorable URL can make or break a web site and let’s face it, there was nothing friendly about goodbaduglyoftheinternet.wikispaces.com. In fact, after I set up the site, I started looking at the URL and even called myself a few choice names
So… What should you do now?
2007-03-03T20:03:20.737-07:00Recently I was reading a few of my favorite blogs when I came across a post on the blog site John Evans (http://nlcommunities.com/communities/joevans) titled RSS Information where John spoke about the newly create Image Wall on Bloglines.com and his concern over some of the content on this site. Fortunately Bloglines.com listened to the many concerned people who use this site and created a new domain name for the image wall (http://www.bloglinesimagewall.com/). John published another post titled A Bloglines Update which got the two of use talking. Our comment went something like this:John said:Thanks Shawn for the heads up on this. I hope thisimplementation by Bloglines does what they claim it will do. I have yet to testit on our school filters. What still concerns me is the fact that while it maybe blocked by school filters, the Image Wall is still accessible fromnon-filtered computers such as their home computers. It brings to the forefrontour need to educate our students and their parents on the safe use of technologyin their daily lives.Shawn said:John, I think you hit on the most important part.Filters serve a purpose but the most important thing we can and need to doit educate our children and I am beginning to think their parents about theinternet. Sure, they know about the web but can they (students andparents) discern factual information from exercises in creative writing? I know most of us have enough items of our plates, butwhat would a community service class for parents and students on internet toolslook like. Call it “The Good the Bad and the Ugly of the internet.How to find the roses among the manure” content could include searchingstrategies and techniques, Web 2.0 tool, Social Network site etc… Random thoughts before I head off for work. ShawnJohn said:Shawn, You have the beginnings of a great idea. Wonderhow we and others could collaborate on a session such as that? Perhaps put it ona wiki or find something that someone has already done. I know Wes Fryer hasdone many workshops with this theme included in them. JohnLater that day, a new Wiki was born. I would like to invite you to view and participate in “The Good the Bad and the Ugly of the Internet” Wiki.This site is JUST coming out of the ground so we are looking for people to contribute to the space.K-12,Shawn Wheeler, John Evans, Bloglines, Students, Web 2.0, Web 2, Filtering, On-line Safety[...]
2007-02-18T10:44:43.720-07:00One of the cool things about my job beyond the teaching aspect is problem solving. Now, I am not an engineer or a mathematician. No, I started out to be a shop teacher, woods to be exact. But the times changed and I found myself teaching computers. Back to my point; I often have opportunity to look at new or in this case updated technologies to evaluate their relevance in education.This past October, I was fortunate enough to speak at the T + L show in Dallas. Once my speaking duties were complete, (See "Say it again… Improving Student Learning through Podcasting"), I was able to enjoy the show and see what I could see. As my boss Larry and I perused the floor we came across a tiny booth with 4 monitors, keyboard, mice and one PC. Each of the three monitors, keyboards and mince were attached to a small black box roughly the size of my wallet. We began reading the single page brochure sitting on the table as the one and only representative walked up to the booth to tell us about his product.Introducing (On this blog anyway.) the X300 PCI XTenda multibox. This slick little device basically turns a single PC into four workstations through the use of the software and a PCI card. (Click this link to see the topology) To be honest, I thought this device was cool and had potential at home, but I was skeptical about it at a school. That is until I had a chance to see it in action.When I returned home, I began the process of getting a demo unit. nComputing was good enough to provide me with the X300. I installed the X300 card in a Dell Optiplex GX240 with 1 gig of RAM then connected three keyboards, monitors and mice to XTenda multibox. Next my staff and I began to test this device. (Remember there are now 4 people working from one PC.) We opened MS Word, Outlook, etc… After about 15 minutes of various activities and applications, we decided to really abuse this device. The four of us opened MS PhotoStory, created and rendered 4 videos. As expected this test put the Optiplex on its proverbial knees. However, we did have four videos rendered in less than ten minutes. This little box has potential.Test with students… Next I took the Optiplex with X300 over to one of our schools (Temporality replacing four 6-year old Dell GX110’s.) to test with 7th and 8th grade students. By the end of the next day, the teacher sent an email stating the students request that I leave the X300 with the XTenda boxes and replace the rest of the lab with the same setup. The students did experience one problem with our Punch Pro software as it requires access to the CD Rom. The CD Rom does work on any station trying to access it. However, only one person can access the drive at a time. Basically, the first person to click on the CD wins.My opinion… Do I think this device is the Holy Grail for Educational computing? No, it does have a few limitations so we will still have a need to purchase full systems in some situations. Nevertheless, at $200.00 the X300 and the XTenda multibox can make one PC do the work of four. In situations where the computer will be performing basic tasks, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email and searching the web, this device deserves consideration.Links to look at…nComputingThe Next Cheap ThingnComputing Demo VideoTechnoratiEducation, K-12, Shawn Wheeler, nComputing, Thin Client[...]
2007-02-10T23:37:17.896-07:00One hot August afternoon last year I was catching up on some of my blog reading when I came across a post from David Warlick “What is RSS?” where he gave his 2-Cents on explaining RSS to people who are still trying to understand it. Of course I chimed in with my comments as did several others. In fact, I chimed in with a post of my own on this blog, [see In response to David Warlick’s post (What is RSS cont.) ]
If you would like to download a copy this video is available in both:
2007-01-27T09:59:24.905-07:00I stand 6 foot 1 inch weighing in at a very portly 250 lbs. While my weight has snuck up on me over the years, I have always been tall. Growing up one of the biggest kids in the grade level had a number of disadvantages. The worst of, (in my day anyway), which is every new boy that entered the school had to prove himself. What better way to prove himself by taking a shot or two at the biggest kid in the school. Sometimes these were verbal but more often than not, it was a smack across the jaw. (Ouch) This caused me to grow up with an interesting perspective on the world.I have looked at a number of productivity software, (word processors, spreadsheet and presentation), applications over the years. With each new version, they get more powerful. In recent years, there has been an influx of open source and web based productivity applications. Star Office was one of the first I looked at and I thought Microsoft should pay attention. Last summer I looked at Writely, (Now renamed Google Docs.), and my jaw dropped onto my keyboard. This product looked and felt like MS Word and even saved as a .doc file type. As an educator, I thought this is great for all the students who do not have a copy of Word at home. Oh and it was web based. Two weeks ago, I loaded Open Office to see what it looked like. While I haven’t given this product a thorough test, it has familiar look and feel. Again, I thought Microsoft should pay attention.This week I walked through the office and noticed one of the IT supervisors was installing Solaris on a machine. Being a Microsoft shop, I had to stop in and tease him. I said, “What is the world coming to? You are installing Solaris and I bought a Macintosh server.” We chuckled as we began talking about some of the open source tools now available. He said with all the great “Free” software out there, no one would ever need to buy Office. That statement again, made me think of being the “Big Kid” having shots taken at me.I remember when computers were not interoperable between platforms. I remember when my word processor wouldn’t open the document you sent me because the two applications were not compatible. For the past several years, we have enjoyed interoperable computing and Microsoft has enjoyed an enormous market share. This is the time when some people start taking shots at the “Big Kid”. Words like monopolist, giant, big bad begin to appear in the same sentence with the “Big Kids” name. Is this good or bad? That is for you to decide.This time also provides a catalyst to some very talented programmers who begin to develop their own version of software. Some of them work alone while other works together as a worldwide community. This is collaboration at its best and these individuals should be applauded for their efforts.We also need to stay focused on the companies, large and small, that shape the world. These companies were built on the minds of brilliant individuals with the spirit and determination to make a difference. Not very different from the open source world, noting these companies intend to turn a profit.Please don’t mistake this entry as I am against open source or business. I love the open source software I use each week. I love the computer and the software I am currently using. I love fact that my job pays my bills and affords me the opportunity to sit at McDonald's and write this article so I can freely share my opinions with you. I am merely a much older big kid with a different perspective.Oh, on a final note, I did have a[...]
2007-01-15T09:03:19.053-07:00Recently I attended a meeting with a group of tech trainers, coordinators, IT bosses and such. The topic of staff development came up and some of the methods we were using and/or looking at in our respective districts. Most of the time these conversations are interesting and I can usually find some new ideas to improve training in my district. However, the conversation on this day was directed more toward how we are going to shift duties around so we can do more with less as budget cuts loom over all our heads.From here there were two prevailing thoughts. Cut spending so one person will now do the work or two or three people.Cut programs which top level administration feels can be removed.Neither of these two thoughts are fun to deal with, furthermore; it sends a frightening message to three groups of people.The people doing the job tend to feel there work is not appreciated or even noticed.The teachers in the classroom who rely on these experts to help them improve learning opportunities for their students. The community may question why these jobs were added in the first place and certainly will question why they are being brought back when the budget crisis is over. While administrators work through the process balancing the budgets, those who work in one of the jobs on the preverbal chopping block vie for position. Worse human nature can kick in and finger pointing of which program is more important becomes not only counter productive. It becomes a cancer on the organization driving moral down.I will not toss stones at my colleagues in the professional development world but being a tech geek myself I of course will always state that professional development is necessary. However, let’s keep content areas out of the discussion. In fact, let’s take the conversation away from education for a moment and consider a few thoughts:You require a medical procedure to be performed. The new procedure dramatically increases your chances of survival. Do you want your doctor to be properly trained?Tax time is around the corner. Do you want your tax accountant to be up-to-date with the current tax codes? Last year you paid $38,000 for a new vehicle which has a specialized transmission. Today the car is shifting funny and requires repair. Do you expect your mechanic to know how to work on your vehicle?The answer to all of these questions is yes. We expect professionals to be knowledgeable in their field and we expect them to be current with best practices and techniques.Shifting back to education, parents and community members have the same expectations of our teachers. What is not often realized is vast number of changes and requirements placed upon our teachers. The burden of keeping track of these changes and providing in-services to our teachers along with best practices for implementation falls to the teachers who work in these professional development assignments. Once these professional are removed from their position or find themselves doing two or three jobs, the burden will fall back to the classroom teachers. Time spent preparing engaging and rigorous lessons may fall prey to budget cuts.While there is no simple solution to this problem, the teacher in me feels that educating our parents and community about the implications of loosing these jobs is the first step. Maybe we should call it Parent & Community Development.EducationK-12Professional DevelopmentShawn Wheeler[...]
2007-01-13T00:47:12.063-07:00This entry was written for the second edition of Coming of Age: Anintroduction to the NEW worldwide web.Download your copy of version one here.Over the past ten years there have been a number of “new” technologies to hit the market that caused me to become extremely excited. I am sure it is no shock to read that one of my first passions with the computer was the ability to edit video. In fact, I was so enamored with this technology I gladly gave Apple Computers 3000 of my hard earned dollars for a Macintosh Performa 6400 with an Avid Video card. After making only a few videos, I began to lose interest.Was the technology bad? Of course not, in fact it was outstanding. However, I discovered that it required a substantial amount of effort to produce a product and it really didn’t fit into my curriculum. Let’s face it, edited or not, Christmas morning videos are still not exciting.Several years later, Movie Maker 2 from Microsoft emerged on the market. I was back into video editing like never before. However, I still had my same reservations with video. My colleagues in the district were clamoring for this technology and I wanted to help develop an army of Spielbergs and Coppolas. For several years, we facilitated workshops teaching teachers how to create movies using Movie Maker in their classroom. To be honest, a number of wonderful projects were created. Unfortunately, the process is time consuming and video production began to slow.A year later, Microsoft gave us Producer which marries PowerPoint with video and/or audio. I thought we had the next killer application for educational technology. This product should have taken off. Maybe we as technology educators just failed to embrace it. However, one very interesting item came to our attention as we facilitated workshops on Producer. The participants wouldn’t get in front of the camera for their project. Oddly enough, when we told them they could instead use the microphone on the computer and record audio only, the excitement for the product grew.With all this background it still took the creation of the RSS enclosure tag for the “light bulb” to click on. What is so special about the RSS enclosure tag? It was the birth of Podcasting.In my mind, we have discovered the Holy Grail of Education Technology. It has taken millions of dollars in equipment, software and infrastructure for us to come full circle back to one of the first forms of mass communication… Radio! However, in our, “I want it when I want it, not when you want to allow me to have it”, world, this generation may become known as the Tivo generation, radio just doesn’t cut it. We want our content when and where we want it. The mode of radio that fits this model is Podcasting.This publication is loaded with several great explanations of Podcasting, for this reason I will not go into the technical specifics of Podcasting. I will share some of the ways teachers in my district are using Podcasting, as well as some of the processes involved in building excitement for the concept.How is Podcasting being used?When I first became excited about Podcasting, (October 2005), I am ashamed to say that I had a horrible case of tunnel vision. In fact, I only saw two major uses for the technology; the first being the obvious, remediation, the second communication with the community or staff by the school administrator.This past June, I was able to facilitate two Podcasting classes for 28 teachers in the Peoria Distric[...]
2007-01-16T09:09:11.843-07:00This entry was written for the second edition of Coming of Age: An introduction to the NEW worldwide web. Download your copy of version one here.RSS and Podcast ToolsA desire to share our knowledge with others is a guiding force that draws people to education. Web 2.0 is allowing us to remove the constraints of the classroom and share our knowledge with the world. Sharing that knowledge is the essence of this chapter.For the past nine months I have hosted a podcast which archives the events of teaching and sharing information about RSS and Podcasting within my district. Over the next few pages, I will share with your some of the “Cool” tools I have stumbled on during this adventure. Where I have personal knowledge of the tool, I will add my comments. In addition, I need to apologize to the Macintosh users as many, (not all), of the tools I share in this chapter are aimed at the PC. Finally I would like to note this is not a definitive list and I do not own stock in any of the products.RSS ToolsArguably one of the most important facets of Web 2.0 would be the RSS or XML feed which syndicates information throughout the world. While it is possible to create a RSS feed using a text editor, it is also time consuming, a commodity that most educators don’t have any to spare. For this reason an RSS editor is highly recommended. Let’s take a look at a few.Feededit an RSS 2.0 Syndicated feed editor by Steve BanhanI actually have extensive experience with this software as it is my Feed editor of choice for my podcast. (Visit Adventures in Podcasting.) Originally, I chose this software when I was learning about RSS because it was free. I continue to use it today because it is a stable piece of software and it works very well.Web site - http://www.banham.cc/feededit/feededit.htmFeedForAll – RSS software for the PC & MacFeedForAll is very nice software with a clean user interface. I did download and test the demo version of this software and if you are looking for a solid RSS editor with features beyond the basics give FeedForAll at try. At $39.95 U.S, it is worth the money.Web site - http://www.feedforall.com Podcast RSS Buddy – RSS software for the PC & MacIf you are looking for a RSS editor with support for iTunes tags, make sure you look at Podcast RSS Buddy. I have also installed and tested this application. It too works very well. However, don’t take my word for it; visit the web site to view the online video tutorial. If you like what you see, download the demo version. For $19.00 U.S., this software can be yours.Web site - http://www.christolley.com RSS ReadersWhether you are creating your own RSS feed or just keeping up with your favorite web log, an RSS reader is a must have tool. What does an RSS reader do? Great question… In short, the reader has two main functions. The reader will visit every RSS feed you subscribe to on a regular basis (Usually every hour). During the visit, the reader will look for any new content published on the RSS feed. If the reader finds new content, it will notify you with a sound and/or an alert window on the screen. If you miss the alert notification, the new items will be displayed in your reader with the font style set to Bold. (Similar to email.) The reader will convert the RSS feed into a format that the average person can read. RSS feeds are a XML files with a format similar to the code behind a web page. Just as a web browser, (Internet Explorer, Safar[...]
2007-01-20T07:08:14.310-07:00My friend Terry Freedman from across the pond recently tagged my blog. Thank you Terry and I loved reading about you. I would have never guessed your hair was that long. Just so you know, here are the rules for being blog-tagged:1. You have to say 5 things about yourself that may not be apparent from your blog.2. You have to tag 5 other people.Now for five things you don’t know about me and wouldn’t know from reading my blog. I am married and have two daughters. To keep peace in the house, I will only show a picture of the girls. Meet Victoria and Fredreka.When I began college I wanted to teach woodshop. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I started too late. Due to the timing I transfered into Technology Education which in those days looked much different. I still like to build things and every once in a while I have the time and the money to do so. My last project was a playhouse for the girls. You can see all the images here.In my younger and much skinnier days I was a technical rock climber. If you are not familiar with technical climbing it is the type that requires rope, protection and a desire to have fun. I still have the desire to climb, just not the desire to loose all the weight I have gained the past 15 years. When time permits I like to hunt and fish. If you are not pro hunting, have no fear.First off I am very bad at finding animals and when I do find them, I am such a terrible shot they have nothing to fear. However, I am a very talented (Sarcasm) fisherman. Just look at the lunker I pulled in on my last trip to the lake (Yes that fish hit my lure). I do enjoy being out in the sticks away from the “Wired” world. However, I do get the shakes if I don’t touch a keyboard after a few days. For my 21st birthday I bought this truck. Seventeen years later, it is still running and I am still driving it. Victoria (pictured here) told me she wanted it once. Who knows, maybe I will buy a new one by the time she is old enough to drive.Last but not least… John Evans, Mechelle De Craene, Julie Lindsay, Ewan McIntosh and Amy Chayefsky you have been Blog-tagged! Technorati Tagsblog-tagged[...]