A Computer On Every Desk? Now What?

This is being live blogged during concurrent session one at NECC. In preparation for my 1:1 work with Salem, I decided to seek out sessions on 1:1 at NECC this year. I started upstairs in End-to-End One-to-One Computing Solutions: Engage Students and Empower Educators, but quickly realized it was a Gateway commercial (the first slide made this easy) and headed downstairs to A Computer On Every Desk? Now What?. On the way I went down the escalator with John Pederson and was very tempted to join him in Will’s session… he had a huge crowd, and like John I would’ve liked to have seen Will’s current presentation, but I opted for getting out of the echo champer after all.

So I’m here with James Gates (no relation to Bill), who opened with some humor and then his goals for the session. Among other things he has something of an open source focus. Cool. He also offered political background on Pennsylvania’s move to shared WANs and shared services, including netTrekker, Internet2, Moodle, & podcasting services. He talked also about their professional development programs, and an effort to put a laptop for each kid in all of the core classrooms. Other context included news about failures of laptops (and educational technology) in schools.

As he turned a corner in the presenation he focused on what students need to do…

The first hurdle – students become stenographers. Don’t be afraid to say, “close the lid.” Train students on how to take notes.

The second hurdle – accessing files from home. They used elocker hosted on their WAN (50 MB) and Box.net (1 GB), a free service. (This is cool – I tried it with wordpress.org, but James discussed some of the issues with it as well.)

Next he talked about using Moodle (instead of Blackboard). And, cool, the kids have blogs in Moodle, but there are no comments. (This is sad… and arguably not a blog.) He demoed the blog feature a bit. They are now experimenting with using elgg in conjunction with Moodle – for better blog features and locker space.

In addition to the Moodle submission tools, he’s using network shared folders for inboxes, outboxes, and shared folders.

Ah, he’s discussing wikis and del.icio.us. He’s very Web 2.0 savvy. He keeps talking about tags, too. He even talked about Scuttle, an open source social bookmarking tool. Schools can even instal their own instance for their students (though, I think this defeats the social bookmarking element to some degree.) Man, now he’s on aggregators, including pageflakes, which I really only started looking at during the edubloggercon. Very cool… it’s a very visual aggregator. Cool! He talked about subscribing to Moodle discussion forums. I’m stoked to hear you can do that. And now he’s at Google Docs. So much for getting out of the echo chamber. I suppose that might be something of a futile exercise here at NECC. ;)

I suppose it should be comforting that I may be right in thinking that these tools are ideally suited for 1:1 implementations. Incidentally, he is acknowledging the “issues” related to these tools, but not letting them stand in his way.

Here’s something new to me… splashcastmedia, which allows you to create web based slide shows and embed them in your own site:

SplashCast enables anyone to create streaming media ‘channels’ that combine video, music, photos, narration, text and RSS feeds. These user-generated channels can be played and easily syndicated on any web site, blog, or social network page. When channel owners modify their channel, their content is automatically updated across all the web pages ‘tuned’ to that channel.

Now he’s talking about timeline.to , which creates visual timelines from RSS feeds. Here’s a timeline for this site.

Ok… now Joomla:

Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the planet. It is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications. Joomla! is easy to install, simple to manage, and reliable.

He uses it for his school newspaper, a neat implementation

He said that in PA you can’t have public blogs in school, but “it’s a little better than pasted a word document on a wall.” This guy is great. This session is much more fun than I expected.

With ten minutes left, he’s demoing some real classes (password protected, so no link, sorry).

Hm. Then he returned to slides for his conclusion… and my own engagement went way down. I need to heed that myself.

The first question: Are you working with your staff to be sure they don’t over do it? Or to be sure that if something comes in, something goes out? (He pretty much responded yes, that’s a good point.)

It’s a big room and I can’t hear the other questions so much… and it sounds like he putting off some questions for after.

Oh! They don’t even actually have the laptops yet. Oh well, fun session anyway.

Wiki for this workshop: http://gatesnecc07.wikispaces.com/

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