Archive for March, 2008

I was tagged by Clif Mims via the Passion Quilt Meme. Here goes!!!


Ronan’s Invention
Young people need an opportunity to create, invent, explore, and find solutions to meaningful problems. It is the responsibility of a good teacher to set these opportunities before students and to guide them as they learn and grow. Learning is a process, and it requires a safe learning environment where children can dream big and find ways to improve the world around them.
Passion Quilt Meme Rules:
  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.
I am tagging:
Enjoy!!! 🙂

Abilene Christian University has implemented a program to provide all of their students with an iPhone.  Watch the following video to see the process in action:

This post is more local, but I know that many are looking for online graduate course delivery programs or even coursework to supplement and expand existing skills. The following three programs are regional offerings that provide excellent opportunities at great rates (My bias is with the University of Wyoming program as that is where I obtained my masters degree!).

The best part of these and any online offerings is that you can do them from a distance, at a time that is convenient for you, and your classroom is anywhere you have an internet connection. My experience was wonderful!!! Living in a rural area posed a great challenge, but via online coursework I had the opportunity to gain a quality education and had access to excellent professors and a supportive and engaging group of classmates located around the world (A perfect example of the “Flat World” we live in today).

UW New Thinking University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyoming)

University of Wyoming Master’s in Education: Instructional Technology

University of Wyoming Outreach Program Tuition and Fees

University of Wyoming Outreach Catalog Fall 2008

UNK University of Nebraska-Kearney (Kearney, Nebraska)

University of Nebraska-Kearney Master’s in Education: Instructional Technology

University of Nebraska-Kearney Tuition and Fees

University of Nebraska-Kearney Spring 2008 eCampus Courses (Fall 2008 eCampus Courses Pending)

CSC Chadron State College (Chadron, Nebraska)

Chadron State College Master’s in Education: Educational Technology

Chadron State College Tuition and Fees

Chadron State College Fall 2008 Online Courses

Vbox Read the lifehacker article “Run Windows Apps Seamlessly Inside Linux” for those who absolutely have to use some Windows only apps! 😉

Kevin Purdy states: “You love working inside your Linux desktop, but at the most inconvenient times you’ve got to reboot into Windows—whether to open a tricky Office file, try out a Windows application, or even just play a quick game. However, with some free tools and a Windows installation disk, you can have Windows apps running right on your Linux desktop and sharing the same desktop files. It’s relatively painless, it takes only a little bit longer than a Windows XP install, and it works just like virtualizing Windows on a Mac with Parallels Coherence—except it’s free. Here’s how to set up Windows inside VirtualBox, and then get Windows apps running seamlessly inside your desktop.”

Read on, follow the instructions, and you will be in business (for FREE!!!). I know, you will have to purchase a copy of Windows!

Alice Carnegie Mellon University offers a FREE programming language along with teaching tools called Alice:

“Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a teaching tool for introductory computing. It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate a more engaging, less frustrating first programming experience.”

“Alice is a teaching tool designed as a revolutionary approach to teaching and learning introductory programming concepts. The Alice team has developed instructional materials to support students and teachers in using this new approach. Resources include textbooks, lessons, sample syllabuses, test banks, and more. Other authors have generously joined our efforts, creating additional textbooks.”

Scratch There are separate programs geared toward college, high school, and middle school students and can be downloaded for your use today! Another FREE good programming opportunity for younger students can be found via MIT‘s Scratch. With these offerings combined a school district can offer programming opportunities K-12 at minimal cost!!!

Laptop I get asked from time to time what is a good laptop for under $1000. PC World has issued this article titled “The Best Laptops Under $1000.” Getting the biggest bang for your buck is important in today’s world, and these seem to be good buys. Of course there are other options, and Apple has the Macbook that starts at $1099 or $999 with the education discount.

As with any purchase do your homework and come up with what you want to accomplish with your new computer especially if you are a student or teacher. Ask yourself what programs are required, is there a specific operating system that you need to use, and what will be comparable to what you use at school.

Processor speed, hard drive size (a small drive fills up fast), and memory (I recommend at least 1 GB) are important components to consider. Laptops are generally not very expandable; so, make sure you think of any extras you may need (rewritable CD/DVD drive, ports such as USB 2.0, Firewire, a memory card reader, etc.). If you need extras, your price may exceed $1000, but you will spend more anyway once you realize you may need to add peripherals.

Also, make sure you look to see what software comes with the computer as that is another cost that you will incur if the computer doesn’t arrive with much. Open source software like Open Office (FREE “Office” suite), GIMP (PhotoShop-like program), and Audacity (audio editor) are FREE alternatives to common software that you may need to be productive, but you need to do your homework to find out if programs like these will meet any requirements you may have. Happy shopping!

Home Schooling The following Time article sheds light on the recent Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruling. In part, the article states:

“Parents of the approximately 200,000 home-schooled children in California are reeling from the possibility that they may have to shutter their classrooms — and go back to school themselves — if they want to continue teaching their own kids. On Feb. 28, Judge H. Walter Croskey of the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled that children ages six to 18 may be taught only by credentialed teachers in public or private schools — or at home by Mom and Dad, but only if they have a teaching degree. Citing state law that goes back to the early 1950s, Croskey declared that “California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Furthermore, the judge wrote, if instructors teach without credentials they will be subject to criminal action.”

South Pacific North Platte High School students’ hard work and practice is paying off as they perform their musical “South Pacific.” The amazing cast has been working since December to share a wonderful performance of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic. One of the great cast members is my own Hannah Hokanson!!!

The musical is directed by Leah Purdy and performances are March 7th and 8th at 7:30 p.m. and March 9th at 2:00 p.m. in the North Platte High School Performing Arts Center. Read the following newspaper article for more information: “High School prepares South Pacific

One It has been a bit but my cousin Nigel Pickard published his first novel titled One. This is not a shameless plug, and I have not been asked to publicize his book at all!

“One is the story of Sol and Kate Roberts, and their struggle to come to terms with their son’s autism. A love story, a coming-of-age novel and an exploration of the austic condition, this is a moving, thought-provoking and sometimes very funny debut novel.” I invite you to get a copy as it is excellent reading.

Click the following link to watch the inspirational “The Simple Truths of Service Movie

The New York Times:  “At Charter School, Higher Teacher Pay”

“A New York City charter school set to open in 2009 in Washington Heights will test one of the most fundamental questions in education: Whether significantly higher pay for teachers is the key to improving schools.

The school, which will run from fifth to eighth grades, is promising to pay teachers $125,000, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance. That is nearly twice as much as the average New York City public school teacher earns, roughly two and a half times the national average teacher salary and higher than the base salary of all but the most senior teachers in the most generous districts nationwide.”

Foldable Car Scientists at MIT have devised a foldable car! This Yahoo! article from Reuters states: “Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised just such a vehicle, a futuristic “City Car” that could even drive itself. Once at your destination, the vehicle’s computers would, at the press of a button, look for a parking spot behind others like itself, then fold roughly in half so you could stack it there as you would a shopping cart.”

The article goes on to say: “The vehicle hasn’t yet been built. But a miniature mock-up version has gone on display at a campus museum, and there are plans to build a full-scale model this spring. The dozen or so engineers and architects on Mitchell’s team are confident their computer-generated work is on target. They feel their golf cart-sized vehicle could provide a novel solution to the chronic traffic congestion afflicting cities across the United States, Europe and Asia — not to mention pollution and energy use, since it would run on a rechargeable battery, the researchers say. On the drawing board, their two-seater is roughly half the size of a typical compact automobile and a little smaller than the Smart car made by Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.” Amazing!!!


Posted: March 8, 2008 in Innovation, Media, Technology

HVD Disk As technology marches on the industry continues to push the limits of storage. The following articles introduce the TeraDisk a CD/DVD that can hold 1 terabytes of data and the Holographic Versatile Disc that can hold 3.9 terabytes!!! Amazing!

These pictures are very interesting.  See all at!!!


“Lava Rises From the Deep”
Photo by Landsat 7
“The Big Island of Hawaii rises 33,474 feet above the floor of the Pacific Ocean and lies over an unusually warm part of the Earth’s interior. This hot spot has produced the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian archipelago. The three most recently active volcanoes—Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Loihi—rise out of the spot. Other, less-active and dormant volcanoes in the archipelago used to lie here as well, but the natural movement of the Pacific tectonic plate has carried them away to the northwest. This unusually detailed image was taken primarily in the infrared spectrum, allowing us to see the volcanoes’ hidden underwater bases.”