Archive for April, 2005

Issue Briefs: Open University

Friday, April 8th, 2005

Issue Briefs: Open University

In name they beat me to it by thirty years! In concept this seems very close to the Open University idea I wrote about… but with no specific mention of open source software as the platform… and I am curious what their funding model is. This is exciting to find though!

Ed-Tech Insider: Video games as learning tools

Friday, April 8th, 2005

Ed-Tech Insider: Video games as learning tools

Not sure how I missed this on the first, but Will at pointed me to Amy at, who had a link to this eSchool news article. :)

Google Maps… of Ed Tech and Life HQ

Friday, April 8th, 2005

I’ve been having fun with Google Maps since it came out… and the Satellite feature for, oh a week or so at best (and I’m afraid I must take the blame for shutting down work on the upcoming film Monster House when IMed a buddy on their animation team who then got the entire team taking virtual trips across the county – and across the Atlantic to Spain!) … but it took me until I saw Will at weblogg-ed post a map of his place before I thought of sharing these on this blog.

Ever wonder where my black chair, colorful bookshelves, and green walls are located?

Here is a far away shot that shows Newport Beach to the south-west, and the foothills to the north-east.

And here is a near shot of our neighborhood of Oak Creek in Irvine. The marker is way off, because for whatever reason Google Maps won’t actually let me use my address… it jumps to the corner you see. I suppose it might be a bit safer to post this marker in the middle of the road rather than my actual house though, eh?

I enjoy knowing a little something about the bloggers I read, so perhaps some of you will enjoy this as well.


Lessons Learned from a Handheld Implementation

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

Written in response to some other classmates’ funding proposal abstract…

Funding is requested to provide PDA technology to each undergraduate nursing student as a means to access current medical information instead of textbooks which are outdated as soon as they are put to press.

Phyllis and Mary Ann,

This is an exciting project!

Speaking with some experience with large scale handheld implementations, I’d like to share some of the “lessons learned” from the project I managed in the Newport-Mesa USD. Hopefully these things can help you as you begin your funding proposal; though Newport-Mesa issued handhelds to middle school students, and you are talking about adult nursing students, I believe many of the same issues will still be relevant. Here, in a nutshell, are the issues we share when we speak on this project…

Desktop Software – Most handhelds, particularly Palm OS handhelds, were designed to work for one person using one desktop computer. Hotsynching to a desktop computer is essential not only to synchronize data with the computer (and other remote sources), but also to back up the data on the handheld, which in most cases will be lost if and when the handheld runs out of power. Unfortunately, it is a significant logistical challenge to hotsynch multiple users with multiple computers, particularl under Windows and Mac OS 9, which require that the user have full administrative access to the machine. (With OS X, at least an ordinary user can use the program, and their data will be saved in their home directory.)

Existing Network Infrastructure – If you chose to synchronize users data with a network home directory or with a web server, your network backbone will be important. (And even if you chose to synch with the local machines, these machines must be in good working order, or else all of the data on the handhelds is in jeopardy.)

Technical Support – When Newport-Mesa USD started their project, they sited research which suggested that handhelds require 1/3 the tech support of a laptop. Still when they implemented 1200 handhelds (the equivalent of 400 laptops), no new technical support personnel were hired the first year! This was rectified the second year. The ideal (and rarely, if ever, met) industry standard would be 50 ordinary computers per technician… and many schools operate at something more like 400 machines per technician… in which case they should have hired at least one technician. In the end they hired two. Also, even if you are providing for technical support of the handhelds, don’t forget you also need sufficient technical support for the additional drain on the desktop machines and the network infrastructure.

Peripherals – This shocked me… but most people still want to print, even if they all have computers that can beam each other! You will want to consider what peripherals will be needed for your handhelds. Will the nursing students ever need to print? If their handhelds do not have cameras will they need a way to get pictures onto their handheld? Etc.

Logistics and Scheduling – Unless you plan on hiring a large support staff, there is no way you can roll out all of your handhelds at once. They need to be charged (and how many can you plug in at once?), loaded with whatever software the nurses need, and assigned (presumably) a profile name unique to each nurse (so that they are not assigning these on their own – making it difficult for you to know whose handheld is whose, and whose data is whose). We started with a far too aggressive roll out schedule. In the end, two of us could do about 180 or so every two days. One day was for prep, and one was for the roll out and first training.

Human Resources – You will likely need a technician (or two) to support the project, and an educational technologist, preferably with nursing knowledge (perhaps this would be one of you) to handle program development and trainings. HR departments are usually slow moving beasts, so leave plenty of time in your timeline to find and hire these people before your roll out.

School Culture – The concerns that others have brought up about resistance from some nurses cannot be exaggerated… and don’t be caught thinking only of the nursing students… what of the nursing teachers who must instruct them using the handhelds? The resistance of teachers to the N-MUSD project was the biggest surprise, and the biggest challenge.

Administrative Support – Needless to say, I hope, this is imperative to overcoming any of the issues listed above. Ideally, the administrator should use a handheld, and “get it.”

Games – It should come as no surprise that without being taught how, middle school students all learned how to get games on their handhelds. But, don’t think your nurses won’t do the same… so did our middle school teachers. Have a policy for this, but for heaven’s sake, don’t ban games. This won’t work, and you can’t police it. And, I suspect you don’t want that sort of adversarial relationship with your staff and students. Consider offering a policy of ethical discretion. Perhaps it is ok for them to play games during their break, or on the bus, even though it would wholly inappropriate to be playing a game while inspecting a patient!

Well, there are many more lessons we learned from this project, but these are the ones I share most often . I hope I have articulated them in an effective way here, and of course, I hope they help. ;)


Videoconferencing in Education

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

In response some classmates’ funding proposal abstract…

The primary objective of this project is to unite students and faculty from 2 US high schools from each coast via real-time live discussions on social, political, environmental and global issues that impact our world.

Mia and Militza,

I’m not sure if this is what you are talking about, but the first thing that came to mind when I read this portion of your abstract was video-conferencing, or video chat (via IM). I’m not sure if this is what you are talking about, but these can be powerful learning technologies. In my first few months at the Orange County Department of Education, I have been able to see both in action.

You can check out the Video Conferencing program in the OCDE Ed Tech department for some examples of how this technology is being used. The most exciting program might be the ACME Animation program which uses video-conferencing to connect high school students to professional animators.

The video conference equipment has also been used to enhance existing projects, such as one teacher’s parent child book club, which connected families using a blog, and then connected them to the author using not only the blog, but also using video conferencing.

Though the equipment used for these projects may be prohibitively expensive for most schools, video chat equipment for various instant message (IM) protocols are becoming more powerful, and more affordable. An iSight for iChat on Mac OS X delivers full motion video and sound over the internet for only $129. Right now this allows 2 way video chatting, but in the coming revision of the OS, iChat AV will allow a four way chat. is a rich resource for educators who have iSights in the classroom (or for those interested in how iSights might be used in the classroom).

I hope this might be helpful as you develop your funding proposal.. and that it might prove interesting for others as well.


PS – Here is an additional resource, a recent article on videoconferncing in Education at

Howard-Kennedy, J. (2005). Videoconferencing in Education. Educator’s Outlook. Available online at

Wired News: Second Life Teaches Life Lessons

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

Wired News: Second Life Teaches Life Lessons

This is what I’m talking about! Second Life (an MMO) as a learning space!

U2 // Vertigo // 2005 // Front row inside the elipse!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

An “and life” entry for you…

Ryan Chan and I went to the U2 show in LA last night. We had GA Floor tickets… and were randomly selected to be admitted into the “bomb shelter” inside the eliptical stage. Yes, we were this close to the Edge. (The photo was taken with Ryan’s phone!)

Life is good.


Small High School Funding Proposal Abstract (For Class)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Here is an abstract for a funding proposal I am preparing for a class project…

Need Statement
I think I expressed the need for this project well in an entry I made on my old blog in December. “Why redesign the traditional high school?”

Funding Source
I chose the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Small Schools Grants used in the Chicago Public School system as a model. The following are excerpts from the web page linked above.

Grant funding from the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative provides up to $100,000 per small school for planning over one year, $500,000 per small school for implementation over three years, and $100,000 per whole school to facilitate the conversion process over two years.

The schools must be:

  • college prep in nature , non-selective enrollment
  • no more than 400-500 students (100-125 per grade)
  • open the first year with 9th grade only
  • Description of Project

    This proposal will focus on a one year implementation of the small school grant. As a model of the physical plant, faculty, and staff, I will use Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, Ca, with which I have many years of experience as a teacher and tech coordinator. The physical plant, built in 1965, is architecturally ideal for such an implementation. The entire school (of 1200 students) is housed in a single building composed of eight “courts”, each of which currently houses an academic department. Each court is made up of eight classrooms and a large office facing a central “court” area. These rooms have large half-wall sized openings instead of doors, so there is a true feeling of community within the court, even as class is in session. For the purposes of this proposal, the current English Court will be re-imagined as home to a single college preparatory (and non-selective) school of approximately 100-125 ninth graders, to be opened in September 2005. (This would grow over three following years to a school of four courts and 400-500 students).

    Curriculum – This proposal will focus on the creation of a context-rich, inquiry-driven, socially negotiated learning environment, in which a teacher representing each curricular area will serve as coach and facilitator for students as they engage in various cross curricular standards-aligned projects.

    Professional Development – A significant portion of the proposal will focus on the professional development needed in order to support teachers in their efforts to provide such an environment for students, and in order for them to use the equipment detailed below to its fullest potential in this environment. At least 25% of the budget will be spent on professional development.

    Infrastructure, Hardware, Software, and Tech Support – In order to facilitate the curriculum goals expressed above, the proposed small school will offer students a 1 to 1 computing environment. Cutting edge but low cost 12″ iBooks running Mac OS X v 10.4 Tiger, iLife ’05, and a host of open source software suites, such as Open Office and GIMP, along with a smaller number of shared peripherals such as audio and video recording devices, will provide all students with the tools they need for cross-curricular and multimedia project based learning. Money will be allocated to pay staffing costs for the projected technical support costs. Approximately 65% of the budget will be spent on infrastructure, hardware, software, and technical support; approximately half of this will be technical support.

    Funding and Budget – All costs associated with the first year implementation of the proposed small school (above and beyond normal operating costs for this number of students) will be covered by the $100,000 grant. Approximately 10% of the budget will be reserved for administrative overhead of the proposed implementation.

    Monitoring and Evaluation – A systematic and ongoing monitoring and evaluation process will be established at the outset of the proposed implementation. Approximately 10% of the budget will be reserved for this process, and for expenditures that periodic re-evaluation reveals is necessary.

    And yes, with some creative financing, I think I can do all this with $100,000. :)


    PS – You may have noted this, but I am basing the structure of my proposal on the California Technology Planning Guide.

    High School Renaissance

    Monday, April 4th, 2005

    High School Renaissance

    I whole heartedly agree with Michael Keany’s proposed change in terminology.

    Learning Lounges

    Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

    Learning Lounges

    This is worth a bit more than 2 cents. :)