Video Games and Violence…

On the Media had a great piece this week entitled, “Sex, Drugs, and Video Games” about the relationship between video games and violence. They say:

Lawrence Kutner has authored a new book suggesting violent video games do not create violent children.

As the parent of three young children and a Director of Technology at an all boys school, this story feels good. Do you know of opposing research?

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/2455932465/

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Managing Progress

 This year is a rebuilding year.  As I wrote about in my reorganization post in the summer, I have three new staff members in my department this year.  We are physically 12_11_2007 08_02 AMspread all over the school, creating divisions that can negatively effect department cohesiveness if we do not stay in frequent contact.

To work around this, we’ve been meeting bi-weekly as a whole department.   I meet daily with my Network Administration and Technical Support Specialist.  I have also scheduled bi-weekly meetings with individual department members.  I know, you’re saying, that’s a lot of meetings.  But these meetings are critical to keeping things going.  To check in and move projects forward.  To know how my staff is feeling.  As we grow more cohesive, I can see taking some time off of these meetings, but for now, they are critical. 

In the support staff meetings, we have been digging through our network settings (active directory policies, Internet settings, and router and switch configs), desktop and laptop image  creation and configuration, policies and procedures, and how to communicate with faculty and staff.  These conversations allow us to share best practices.  It allows us to know what our technical issues are and to wrestle with making decisions for next September. 

In full department meetings, we started by discussing how we are communicating internally, what we have been doing over the semester, and which tools we will be rolling out to the academic community over the next year.  We’ve used so many different technologies over the past few years, that keeping up is tough.  So we created a list of the department blog, wiki, and our web help desk.   We discussed how to use each one.  We use these tools in our day to day work with the school and the department.     

So is this and effective management technique? 

In order to evaluate them, I need to look back to the goals of my department:

  • To provide reliable and consistent access to technology for students, faculty, and staff
  • To develop technology skills in students, faculty and staff that support the curricular goals of the school

If I measure us against those goals, we are definitely more prepared to support our faculty and staff. This is a slow process because we are going through all of our configurations with a fine tooth comb, but we’re fixing support issues that have been nagging us for years and we’re looking to the future for major improvements.

On the classroom integration front, I see progress in taking our more technology savvy faculty to the next level.  We are also making progress in implementing student and faculty curriculum standards.  We are building out our Intranet where we can support WordPress MU, Gallery, Moodle, and some group Drupal sites.  We’ll be concentrating on how we use these tools in the spring.

How do you manage staff transitions?

How do you keep a dispersed department cohesive?

Collaboration Outside Your Classroom — Presentation Update

When I got to Baltimore to present at the AIMS conference, I realized that I had Internet access. I uploaded my slides to Google Presentations, did some editing and got going. Vinnie Vrotny and Patrick Higgings showed up for the presentation (huge thanks to the two of them). Alecia Berman-Dry was a wonderful host (she invited me to present at the conference and blogged about it here).

The audience did a great job keeping their attention during the last session of the day. After my presentation, we all discussed how we could bring collaborative technology to back to their schools and classrooms.

Here’s my updated Google Presentation
AIMS Slide

Also, I forgot to hand out my handouts. Here’s a link to the PDF handout.

As I tweaked the presentation on the train to Baltimore, I realized more and more that these projects are about the relationships. Lucy Gray spoke about it in our conversations, Vicki Davis discusses it when she speaks about the Flat Classroom project. It’s all about the connections we are making. And they are real, even though many are virtual.

I’m working on editing the video of the event and will post that shortly.

Comments appreciated. Thanks!

Skype: Easy Collaborations with Audio and Video Conferencing

I’m presenting at the AIMS conference on Monday, November 5th, 2007. There is no Internet access at the Baltimore Convention Center (for this conference at least) so I’m doing a traditional power point presentation. Here it is (I’m sure I’ll be updating this tonight after I tweak the whole way to Baltimore, but…):

 

 

I’ve also pulled together a number of resources in del.icio.us:

  1. Youth Voices

  2. Remote Access: Whose Tools? Theirs.

  3. Remote Access: Learning = Connecting

  4. Life ’round here wiki – Life Round Here

  5. The Global Education Collaborative

  6. The Connected Classroom » home

  7. the22initiative » home

  8. Friends and Flags Project

  9. 3Cs » CAIS-BP

  10. globalprojects2007 » home

  11. Musings – Just Learning » Let’s Go Global!

  12. » [Live Blog] – Global Collaboration Multi-faceted Refractions

  13. teachersseekingteachers » home

  14. Classroom 2.0

    Welcome to the CLASSROOM 2.0 social networking site! This network is devoted to those interested in the practical application of Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in the classroom and in their own professional development.

  15. Personal Learning Space

  16. Elgg Plans » home

Link: http://del.icio.us/rss/alex.ragone/global-collaboration

Lucy Gray’s Global Education Links.

I’ll be posting a video of the presentation later on this week.

This is by no means a list of resources on Global Collaboration. If you have others, please post them here!

Thanks!

Not Drupal, WordPress MU

So a few weeks ago I blogged about the Drupal installation I was going to create. I had a plan and began to implement it. I had installed Drupal in a Multi-Site configuration but as I worked on the server, I realized that it was too much. drupal-logo I needed my faculty and students to publish in a simple, quick and easy way. I could have restricted Drupal a great deal to implement this, but…

At about the same time, I saw D’Arcy Norman post a tweet about his new WordPress MU installation and how great it was to install and how easy it was to use.wordpress-mu-logo I use WordPress for this blog and have installed WPMU multiple times. I realized that what we needed was an intranet type site and that building it with WordPress MU would be much easier than Drupal. If eventually we needed the functionality of Drupal, our teachers and students would be used to a web based Content Management System and the switch would not be so difficult.

With that said, I built our new intranet in WordPress MU. I added the LDAP plug-in so faculty can authenticate off of our Active Directory. I also installed Anarchy Media Player and Farmer’s Anti-Spam Pack from the WPMUDev.org Web Site (be careful, some of those plug-ins are out of date). I installed Farmer’s Theme pack and we selected two themes for our faculty to choose from.

So we’re up and running. We have some teachers, staff and student clubs interested in and publishing.

I have a few outstanding issues to resolve:

1. How do I support the teachers who ask for a password protected site? Why? I have some concerns about copyright and student privacy. The easy way would be to install a new WPMU installation and put it behind a PAM Auth password. But I wonder if there is a way to password protect certain blogs on our WordPress MU installation. That would be ideal as I would only have to support one installation. I’ll be looking for a plug-in for this in the near future. Know any?

2. The WordPress MU LDAP plug-in allows for authentication of one tree of an LDAP directory, but I would like to add two (faculty and students). I need to check out the code to see if those variables are held in an array and if they will work with two LDAP trees. Drupal’s LDAP Integration Module is awesome in this respect. Maybe I can borrow some of its code? More tweaking needed.

3. The root site on our WPMU 1.2.5a installation is a bit buggy. Here the problem:

When I view http://url.org using Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0, it looks fine. When I look at http://url.org using Firefox, the url is forward to http://www.url.org and the style sheet does not load. I have seen some versions of Firefox load the css but not many. The css url in the page source appears correct.

To get around this, I logged into one of the sub sites and went to Site Admin -> Blogs, and clicked Edit to the right of the http://url.org site. I then added a www. to all of the urls in on that page, except for the Site URL

This works, but is quirky and I would like http://url.org to work correctly in IE and Firefox. This is one of the only situations where IE has come through for me — probably because of a non-standard implementation of dns.

4. Last, but not least, I need to do some theme hacking so we have a default theme and the default links that load in the Blogroll link all of our sub-blogs back to the mother blog.

I have to post #2 and #3 those last two issues up in the WPMU forums.

Now for the hard part, getting people to write!

Frustration with Microsoft Word

We’ve been testing out DrupalEd for a faculty collaboration and sharing of information this fall, and it’s been flexible and worked like a charm after a normal CMS learning curve. 

So our faculty are submitting their summer professional development reports through a form.  The problem is that when faculty copy and paste from Word, even using the TinyMCE copy from word and code clean up buttons, it does not work so well.  Paragraphs are lost, hard returns are added. 

Trying to change the editor/word processor that people write in is so difficult.  I’m already asking faculty to change by publishing these reports on a web site versus just e-mailing them to our Academic Dean.  I don’t feel as though I have the option of adding steps such as saving the file as a txt file first.  This is supposed to be simplifying but is making   more work than it is worth.

Personally, I’ve started doing all of my writing in Notepad++ or Windows Live Writer because it is light and I find it so much faster than the either Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Write. 

I guess I could use recommend faculty use Wordpad, but it’s still asking folks to change from the editor that they are used to using.  Change is tough enough as it is, and I’m working hard to simplify this year.  Even as I try to simplify, I feel as though I keep piling up more directions in front of our faculty who are already busy and don’t need more administrative burden. 

What do you do?  Any suggestions on how to move faculty to a web based platform without all of the code issues easily?  How do we simplify in this time of ever expanding options? 

Thanks for any input.

The Read/Write Web: RSS, Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasting

1/15/07 Update:

What are they? How can I use them in my Classroom?

Here’s the outline of my NYSAIS Professional Development Seminar for Tuesday. Any comments would be appreciated. Bring Blue SnowBall, Get Richardson: Blogs, Wikis and Podcasting. Review last blogging outline:

Goal of Day: Exposure to RSS, Blogs, Poscasting, Social Bookmarking and
Wikis. The ability for participants to take one of these and start using it in classes in the near future.

Quotes:

  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
  • The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler, futurist

9:30 – 10:00: Framing the day

Yarn exercise: How you link together in the real world

10:00 – 10:45: RSS: Reading 21st Century Style

Get a Bloglines Account. Search, Subscribe, Comment.

Other rss feed aggregators: NetVibes and Pageflakes

More about RSS:

10:45 – 11:00: Break

11:00 – 12:00: Blogging

Blogging Definition: Will Richardson and Others (see Examples below)

Why Blog? What is the difference between 21st Century Learning and 20th Century Learning? Dr. Lawrence Lessig’s “Read/Write Society” presentation at Wizards of OS4

Get an EduBlogs Account — What will you blog about? Linking. Categories. Trackback. Tabbed Browsing and Social Bookmarking.

Blogging Platforms:

Examples…

Educator Social Blogging

Blogging Resources:

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch

1:00 – 1:15: Globalism…

1:15 – 1:45: Podcasting

1:45 – 2:30 – Wikis

Review: Creating a Wiki and Wiki While You Work (Basic): Mark Wagner

Examples:

Possibly: 2:30 – 2:45: Bringing it all Together

Epic 2014

We need to model and teach using information in deep ways!

Quotes:

  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
  • The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler, futurist

Contact info.

Further Self Guided Learning:

Google Earth Meme…. started by Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray has started a Google Map Meme.

She asked us to answer the two questions below in a Google Earth Placemarker and then send her the file — she’s going to compile them into one big map…

1) What has been your most memorable learning experience?
2) Who is the teacher that has influenced you the most? and why?

Her instructions are here.

Lucy, Here’s My file!

Now for the folks I’m going to tag… Here we go:

Arvind Grover
Fred Bartels
Bill Knauer
Jim Heynderickx
Richard Kassissieh

The wonder of the blogosphere….

Back to Blogging…

It’s been a while. I’ve been reading, and writing, and listening, but not here. I’ve been watching the EducationBridges.net Elgg, working on a web site for a friend’s charter school, and Arvind and I have begun webcasting again at EdTechTalk.com.

But what I’ve been working hardest on is the day job. Rolling out 18 new SmartBoard rooms, 30 Tablet PCs, and a new community portal web site. We’ve really pushed the professional development model for faculty, and those Tablet PC ‘Fellows’ are really changing their teaching to create more interesting and effective classrooms. Today I met with two of our Tablet PC fellows, and in both conversations, the fellows were reflecting on their learning, and thus reflecting on the learning of their students. The conversations are so exciting. One fellow said, “I’m really excited to use the Tablet in a way that will speak to some of the students that I don’t teach to during class discussions.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s really not about the technology, but using a tool to enhancing the learning that happens in the classroom. That type of comment is what makes the past four weeks of intense work pay off. I went home with a good feeling today!

Two more things… Tomorrow at 1:00 pm EST, Arvind and I are interviewing Fred Bartels , a most inspirational educator and the creator of the School Computing Wiki. Please join us at http://www.edtechtalk.com/chat.

Lastly, tomorrow afternoon I begin working with our Math Department on Lesson Study. I am very honored and excited to be part of this group of faculty who will be observing a faculty member teach the same lesson multiple times and then work on making it better through conversation. Now that’s collaboration.

Until Next time…

A Teacher Collaborative Community…

A few weeks ago, on the ISED-L Listserv, someone asked for a site that was a MySpace for teachers. I had been discussing Elgg with Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow for a while, now. Arvind and I talked about online communities for educational technologists in our 21st Century Learning #7.

So the time has come. Last week, I emailed a proposal to Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow at World Bridges and they gave us http://elgg.educationbridges.net . I set up an elgg installation and we’ve got 19 users right now.

What’s the point of this community? Here’s my purpose statement:

The purpose of this site is to create an environment for educators to collaborate about teaching and learning in the 21st Century. We at Education Bridges believe that to make the world a better place, educators need to share their best practices/lessons learned that are research as well as experience based practices.

So go to http://elgg.educationbridges.net — sign up, fill in your profile, and check out the View All Posts link under Your Blog to see what people are saying. Also, follow some of dave cormier’s beginner elgg suggestions — make a community (or two!). Start socializing. Start learning. I look forward to seeing what happens.