Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

It has been quite sometime since I posted on this blog, and for good reason. I have been busy! Over 10 years ago I started this instructional technology site to share my learning from my master’s program at the University of Wyoming and my adventures as an instructional technology director for a school district. Life has thrown a few curves into my life’s plan along the way, but I still find myself in education but at the classroom level. Last summer, I gained new employment teaching world geography at Johnson Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was able to bring my family back to my home state and to leave the Sand Hills of Nebraska behind after almost a decade living there. My new exploits have brought me from teaching 8th grade American History to 7th grade World Geography, and I have spent most of the year developing a website and learning tools that can be found at http://oxpower.org (http://geosearcher.wordpress.com). I continue to use Quia (http://quia.com) for building most of my tutorials, the old and trusty Content Generator tutorial creator software, and make most of my presentations for students via Prezi (http://prezi.com). The summer, then school year, has flown by with a major move, and getting accustomed to a new school, students, and staff, but I feel right at home in my native state. The fall allowed myself and my family to attend almost every Wyoming Cowboy home football game, and we even caught a basketball game when the Cowboys were at home for the CBI tournament that they eventually won! I recently purchased a new computer (Mac Mini), and have been transferring and setting things up to keep rolling with technology (I shall share my adventures with that soon). So, there is an update for those that care, and for those that may have thought I had fallen of the face of the earth!

Love technology…

Posted: February 25, 2015 in Technology
Tags: ,

A few years ago, while I served as an instructional technology director for a school district, I proposed the creation continuum after researching project based learning. The following link to my Prezi is an updated version of the presentation I shared on the subject…

http://prezi.com/embed/4dxykmcolwa9/

k2-_ba2833fd-2248-4cc1-a555-49e4013aea34.v3This is an update to my low end stab at furnishing my classroom with devices for student use (see other post here – Low end tech:  a solution?).

Along with several old laptops I have been utilizing some DOPO Android tablets that have served very well.  I was able to restore one device that was out of commision and that enabled me to utilize 8 of these tablets for a few months.  After a tragic drop of one of the devices a couple of weeks ago (an accident), I was back to 7 DOPO tablets.  Walmart had a good deal on these devices (upgraded versions for $39.99 each); so, I used some birthday money to order 5 more.  These devices have been stellar in meeting the needs of my students.  I have added cases for each and that has been a good investment in protecting the devices from day to day wear and tear.

I have had to adjust some of the tutorials (QUIA and ExamView activities – see weekly Agendas) that I create on a regular basis in order to bypass the lack of Flash availability on the Android devices.  The old laptops are holding up well, and Ubuntu has been a refreshing answer to the old Windows machines.  The Macs run well with OS 10.4+ and meet the needs of everything that is required for learning.  The Android devices, particularly the DOPO tablets, in addition to students being able to use their own phones and a few other devices via a BYOD network is allowing access for all students on a daily basis.

I have set up a separate Gmail account to manage the Android devices that I will begin using once the new tablets arrive this week.  I load each droid with the minimal browser and a few apps that enhance the classroom experience.  Power management is achieved via several power strips, and I am looking for an improved storage system, but we are making do with what we have.  Each of my students have a Google account via the school district that they can utilize as needed; so, my students are equipped with all the tools they need to be productive and to create on a regular basis (See our recent infographics projects).

The better solution would be if I didn’t have to pay for and support it all myself, but I have found a way for my students to be engaged, to learn, to remediate, and to be enriched on a regular basis.  If you are looking for a low cost device that is sturdy, reliable, and engaging I highly recommend DOPO tablets as a positive addition to your learning environment.

SolutionsOkay folks, here are my solutions in a very troubling situation.  I am an instructional technology specialist and current classroom teacher that unfortunately has very little access to technology.  The spring semester this year was so frustrating, I began to bring my own devices to supplement the needs of my students in accessing the bare bones tools I provide online.  My solution this fall is to continue to use personal devices, resurrect old devices, and I’m going to try some discount devices that hopefully won’t cause my own children to starve from the money I am choosing to take from my personal budget that takes care of their welfare (I know I am taking a risk that these devices die as based on past experience).

What I have been using are two old laptops (HPs) that were assigned to myself and my classroom that I have installed Ubuntu on for a more reliable operating system.  I took my old Asus netbook and installed Ubuntu on it replacing Windows XP.  I have an old HP desktop that runs Windows 7, and I have resurrected 3 iBook G3s, 1 PowerBook Titanium, and a PowerBook Lombard.  I bring 4 of my kid’s DOPO devices (I had 5 but one crashed and burned – sorry Nicholas), and I have just ordered 3 more DOPO devices for a total of $119.  I also have an old iPad and old Kindle added to the mix; plus, I do have my teacher laptop that can be utilized as needed.  With this I have amassed 15 devices that will “work” in most instances.  I fortunately do have access to a BYOD network that students can utilize with various devices and some can use their phones if they choose.

The frustrating part of all of this is that I just don’t think this is how life should be for an educator in the 21st Century; however, it is in my case, and I am doing what I can to provide devices that will allow access to tools that I know will help my students succeed.  I have applied for grants, but the tech department in my district won’t approve affordable devices:  disappointing to say the least.  I am on the lookout for old laptops that can be revived with Ubuntu or some flavor of Linux, and that search will continue as the school days pass by (160+ more school days which turns out to be only 160 hours that my students spend in class for the year – time is short!).  I am trying to make the best of a difficult situation, but I’m not sure it is the best way.  I also don’t think this solution will last much longer.  I’m looking to go elswhere to find a place that will invest in the education of my students and children, and I know now that it is definitely not here.  Chime in if you have other ideas that may help.  Happy computing!

GameSpot author Mark Walton has produced an excellent article on the CPU:  Read it here…

10-Signs-You-Are-a-Tech-Savvy-Teacher-Infographic
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