Dec 30, 2010
As anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Twitter knows, I'm not a particular fan of Apple's iPad. I find it to be too big, too expensive, too locked down, and too beholden to the whims and restrictions (DRM, etc) of one company. They have been largely oversold, with pundits of all sorts positioning them as the holy grail of technological invention, falsely predicting that they will summarily squash less expensive, more capable rival technologies in one fell swoop. And why wouldn't they say such things? After all, tablets combined with tightly-controlled, proprietary ecosystems represent the last, best hope for the "pay-for-play" model of media and content providers who have been decimated by the liberation of information on the web. "These are awesome! You really should buy one!" is really a cover for regaining the ability to control what you see, what you do, and how you consume content and media.

Dec 11, 2010

ChromeOS: First Look

Much has been made over the last few days of the recently announced (you could say, finally announced) ChromeOS notebook from Google. While this may seem like a new release, ChromeOS has actually been in active development for quite some time under the Chromium project, That said, the recent unveiling revealed more than just software, it also revealed Google's future plans and strategy for this tiny OS. So does ChromeOS bring a new revolution to the portable computing table? And does the Google strategy make sense, either short term or long term? Let's take a look, beginning with the technology.
Nov 20, 2010
I'm a gadget guy, as anyone who follows me knows, and as a gadget guy I have naturally been keeping up with the development of the Galaxy Tab from Samsung, which finally became available for purchase last week after a long build-up. It's a gorgeous 7 inch Android-based tablet device that, in my Goldilocksian view, is not too big, not too small, but just the right size. Perhaps best of all, it runs on an open platform, requires no "mother ship" to use, is available with 3G access on a variety of carriers, and has been widely reported as the first real contender to Apple's iPad (which is certainly not my favorite product - but that's another blog post.)

When the official Engadget review of the device was posted a few days prior to the Tab's release, I was all over it. A thorough breakdown of the pros and cons, plenty of pictures and media, all-in-all an excellent piece of reporting. And in the end, as I sat there watching the video on my netbook, reality set in: I still want one, I just don't want to pay for it. And by "pay" I mean more than just in dollars (although that certainly is a big factor).
May 28, 2010

Where on Earth is SWATTEC?

We are pleased to present Where on Earth is SWATTEC? Inspired by Where is Matt (http://is.gd/ctCy5) this video presents the greatest teachers in the world and the students who's lives have been touched by the SWATTEC program. While pictures may paint words, videos inspire dreams. Enjoy!
Apr 18, 2010
I received the following email on the California Education Technology Professionals Association (CETPA) listserve the other day:
----- Message from xxx@yyyy.zzz ---------
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 08:13:49 -0700
From: Tech Coord
Subject: [edtech] Interactive Boards
To: edtech@lists.cetpa-k12.org
In case you wonder about the hype and what can be done with interactive boards, check out what this math teacher does:

http://www.urlesque.com/2010/04/06/math-teacher-pranks/?icid=main|htmlws-main

~Tech Coord
And I must confess, I lost it. My response:
Apr 13, 2010
As you may already be aware, the State of California has been holding ARRA EETT technology dollars hostage, in an attempt to take these funds and use them for other purposes in Sacramento. According to grant rules and guidelines, by accepting these funds from Washington the state agreed to disburse them in the same fashion as regular EETT Round 8 funds. However, after the entire competitive grant application process was complete and applications were submitted by hundreds of districts (at significant cost to those districts), the CA State Assembly Joint Legislative Budget Committee, led by Senator Denise Ducheny, blocked the disbursement of the funds and sought the advice of the Legislative Analyst's Office, in an effort to redirect them. The Legislative Analyst's Office 2010-11 Budget Recommendations completely ignore the federal guidelines. Districts across the state have been awaiting these funds to move forward with a number of education technology initiatives and to save jobs that will soon be lost as budgets continue to tighten.
Apr 6, 2010
As mentioned in my prior post, no netbook review would be complete without a look at what Lenovo has to offer. It took quite a while to get it, and once again my Lenovo rep urged me to look away from this line and toward the Thinkpad line (especially the X100e) due to lack of long term support. At first, I thought this was just marketing, but have come to discover from a number of districts in several states who have deployed anywhere from hundreds to thousands of older S10 models that they are finding Lenovo slow to respond to their service needs and say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get parts for them, even for units that are less than one year old. Amazingly, my Lenovo rep, who had just returned from visiting a school district with more than 1000 units deployed, shared a similar story of that district's frustration with Lenovo service. I must say, I'm a bit surprised by (and appreciative of) such honesty from a company representative (don't get much of that these days) but I'm also mystified by what appears to be a company-wide strategy to push customers to a more expensive line through disservice. I can only assume it will backfire, as it has with us.

Just the same, the hardware is certainly worthy of a look, so on with the review!
Mar 26, 2010
It's hard to believe it's only been about 4 months since I did my last netbook review - so much has changed! It seems as though every vendor has upgraded their netbooks to the Intel Atom N450/470 "Pine View" chipset and significantly redesigned their line of netbooks. We've been tracking this very carefully, as we are within weeks of purchasing several hundred units, with more than 1000 to follow by summer (assuming the state releases the federal money we've been waiting on - but that's another story).
Jan 6, 2010
As I stressed in my prior post, if we are going to build effective learning environments, the thing we need to focus on is kids - not teachers, administrators, or even parents, but kids. And one of the most important things we must consider when building such environments is motivation, or more specifically, what motivates kids to learn.

Any study in human motivation will undoubtedly lead to Maslow's "Theory of Human Motivation", which logically concludes that humans are essentially motivated by their needs. Knowing this, as well as how much the world has changed in the last decade, it might be tempting to assume that our students' needs have changed along with the world around them. But have they?