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Sunday, September 14, 2014

iOS 8 - What iPads and iPhones are Compatible with iOS 8?


Apple has been talking about iOS 8 for a while, but I still get tons of questions about what devices will be able to run the newest iteration of Apple's mobile device operating system.  There have been a lot of rumors and talk about this -- but with Apple's big announcements last week that included the Apple Watch (I want one) and new iPhones -- the cat is out of the bag!  This is especially important for schools and classrooms who have invested in 1:1 iPad programs!  Get ready now!

Here is the breakdown of iOS Compatible Devices:



Click to enlarge

The compatible devices are:
iPhone 4S
iPhone 5
iPhone 5C
iPhone 5S
iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Plus
iPod Touch 5th Generation
iPad 2
iPad 3
iPad 4 (Retina)
iPad Air (Retina)
iPad Mini
iPad Mini 2 (Retina)

With the release date in looking in October, now is the time to check your device and make sure it is on the list!  Remember that just like iOS 7: Siri will only be available on the iPhone 4S and above, iPad 3 and above and iPad Minis.

So get ready to say, "Hey Siri" and iOS 8 on!


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Title II -- What it is, Why it is important and Why it is bad for the Internet and Schools


What is Title II?
Title II is legislation that would provide the FCC the ability to regulate the Internet.  The FCC is an appointed body (not elected) that exists in order to oversee and regulate all communication forms within the United States and it territories.  The FCC is funded by wholly by the fees and fines that they hand out from year-to-year.  Title II would allow this body to creates rules, regulations and limitations on how the Internet in the United States would operate.  This includes pricing, privacy, traffic, availability, research and development of new Internet-related technologies.  It essentially puts a middle-man in between you and the Internet.  It is *not* net neutrality and at its basic level, it holds the ability to limit Internet access and increase a segmented Internet.

But I thought it was about Net Neutrality?
Well, it isn't.  It is about control and financing a controlled and neutered Internet.  Title II would allow for rules and regulations to be put in place to allow or disallow specific companies and organizations any activity that the FCC deemed fit.  This means that the government would sit square in the middle of technology development, research and availability.  This would lead to a bottle-neck of regulations that prohibit the investment in further broadband expansion.  Currently the United States has a much larger deployment of fiber optic Internet service than Europe does (see here), however this is largely because of the low level of regulation.  Regulations would stifle things like Google Fiber, which is just starting to get going, and other broadband services that would serve low income and low population density areas.  The places that the big guys like Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner can't be bothered with serving.  This isn't anything like Net Neutrality in that regard... neutral means equal availability for all.

Also, Title II does not put in place any safe guards against Internet "fast lanes".  In reality, any regulatory system opens itself up to the increased opportunity for pay-for-play to happen.  This puts companies like Netflix and Comcast in the drivers seat when it comes to how bandwidth is used and divided up once they have the safeguard of a regulatory environment.  And increased regulations mean increased costs for Internet startups and developers who want to create solutions for those who can't pay to play.  Increased cost always means strangled innovation.

Shouldn't the Internet be a public utility, like electricity?
No way, no how.  Why?  Just look at how far the generation and delivery of electricity has come of the past 50 years in the United States.  It hasn't come anywhere... since electricity was regulated and became a public utility throughout the country, it is reliable and steady in most areas.  It has not, however, seen any advances or enhancements in cost, delivery or technology.  We have coal, water, nuclear and solar power generation... but the oldest is still the method that most of the country still uses.  True, nuclear has come on the scene in the past 50 years -- but has it really made a difference in how much electricity costs?  Has it moved the technology of what electricity can do for us forward?  No.  The electricity experience in the average home in the United States has not been enhanced in our generation -- and that is what creating a public Internet utility would do for the Internet.  We've seen a great deal of expansion in broadband availability in the past ten years.  We have seen in-home, in-business and in-classroom speeds jump in the past five years.  Title II would cause that to come to a screeching halt.  Regulation would put a set limit on all of that, and everyone would have the same limitation as set by the FCC... except, of course, those who could pay to have more.  Like big companies.

I've talked about several subjects and points regarding why I see Title II as a death knell for the Internet as we know it, the Internet as we hope it can be... if it has raised your eyebrows, I invite you to visit DontBreakThe.Net and read more on the subject.  This is important because it impacts schools all over the country who do not currently sit on public networks.  That includes private schools, parochial schools, independent schools, boarding schools and schools that are in low population density areas.  Perhaps even sign the petition...  besides, it has some funny cat pictures on it.. and we all like that.


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Student Technology Assistants

When it comes to teaching students technology skills, each school looks at it and goes about it just a little bit differently.  Some schools have classes that address issues like keyboarding, Internet etiquette, Internet researching, word processing and spreadsheets.  Some teach those skills across the curriculum and only offer specialized courses such as photo editing or movie making.  But the only schools that specifically teach the skills needed to troubleshoot and fix computer problems seem to be VoTech type schools.  Some schools will say, "We just aren't that kind of school' or "there's just no time in the day for that".  And those are valid reasons... but there are other options!

I have worked with more than one school at implementing a student run technology support team.  The team consists completely of students with a faculty or staff advisor who can manage the students, instruct them and guide them in the proper techniques needed.  Techniques for what, you ask?  This group of students could be tasked with things as rudimentary as replacing toner in printers or as advanced as helping a teacher with an issue on their interactive white board.  And the most adventurous school has a student run help desk that actually works on computers repairing things like memory, hard drives and virus infections.  These are all ideas and programs that almost any school can implement, plus it can be an extra set of hands and eyes for your technology department!  Just imagine how great it would be to have a student help another student with an issue connecting to your WiFi?

But really, the ideas do not end there.  A student team could be tasked with assisting in creating tutorials, editing movies for the athletic department, installing updates on lab computers or mobile carts and much more.  But to do any of this you must have a few things.  First, and foremost is a faculty or staff member who is willing and able to lead the group.  Second, you need a solid base of support from the administration (and possibly the board, too).  You will certainly need a group of reliable and trustworthy students.  This is important, because the other teachers are going to have to trust them to help -- sometimes in a pinch.  Once you have these three things, you are on your way. But that's not all -- you need a plan.  Here are some bullet points for developing a plan:
  • What will the students be able to do?  You certainly do not want students working in your student information system (ever) or your development database.  It is important for you (and the students) that everyone understands the tasks that students are allowed to tackle.
  • How will students be trained to do these things?  Students may be interested but need to develop troubleshooting skills or specific computer knowledge.  Not everyone can just pull out a new toner cartridge and put a new one in.  An hour training on "Printer Maintenance" goes a long way!
  • How will you staff your student staff?  Anyone who wants to join? Or will there be a selection process?
  • How will students be assigned tasks?  Will there be a task board?  Web based help desk?
  • Will there be a student hierarchy or is everyone equal in the group?  Some students will certainly have skills that others do not.  A train each other approach doesn't hurt if you've trained a certain set of reliable students already.
  • How will the meetings run?  Will a lead student run the meetings to collaborate on issues and discuss what is happening or a particularly tough problem that they've encountered?  When I've run it as a class, we often had students do presentations on issues and how to solve them.
One of the best models for something like this is the club model.  The group meets together at specified times, but can do tasks when they are free.  Students (and teachers, administrators, parents etc) should be crystal clear that school work always comes first, but I've had clubs that have students that work on tasks during a study hall or other breaks throughout the day.  I've also run it as an honors level technology course, too.  That can work really well when students want school credit for the course.

But no matter whether you have it as an activity, group, club or class -- you need someone to lead it!  And the Faculty Advisor role is no small bag of potatoes.  With all of the above that needs to be considered -- what are the responsibilities of the adult in the group?  Here is a list of thoughts:
  • Assess the technology needs.  This sounds simple, but if you have a small tech department (or none at all) you might find that the needs are varied, all over the place and not easily defined.  If the advisor is not part of the tech staff, they should reach out to the tech staff and find out where the group could be of assistance.  If they are, then a meeting with other administrators might help hone down the idea of what the needs are that the group could address.
  • Choose, evaluate and deploy!  The selection of students is certainly key.  When first starting the group, it generally works best to be able to chose a small group of tech savvy students who are reliable, or at least can be guided.  As the program grows and gets roots, you can expand out to then take in students who are less savvy and require more training and hand-holding, but at first that might derail the program from taking off.  And you certainly don't want a student who thinks he is Jonny Lee Miller from Hackers and inadvertently wipes a teachers computer because he thought he knew how to do it, when he just could have asked for help.  So choosing and then learning the skills and strengths of the students is key!
  • Scheduling and Overseeing.  At any time you may have two students working on a laptop cart, two others updating a lab and three others handling printer maintenance.  Being able to oversee, schedule and keep things moving forward is an absolute skill that any advisor will need... oh, and the time :).
  • Promotion and Community Help!  It never hurts to get some good PR.  Plan to take the group to a senior center or church to help upgrade or clean their computers.  A student run technology table at a senior home during an afternoon is a great thing for both the students and the folks being helped!
So what kind of jobs/skills can students build?

  • Hands-on technology break it/fix it with all types of equipment (computers, printers, monitors, projectors, cabling and more)
  • Software programming
  • Software updating and maintenance
  • Staff management
  • Inventory management
  • Customer service
  • Listening and pulling out key information
  • Researching issues
  • Leadership of peers
  • An understanding of technology standards
  • ...and more!

These are just some ideas and guidelines for implementing a program like this at your school.  It doesn't require fundraising if you have the right advisor to do some training, and it doesn't require a lot of resources to implement.  This is a win-win for any school that can put the time into it.  The students develop leadership, troubleshooting, logical thinking, practical hand-eye and useful computing skills.  The school can gain a valuable technology asset to help out in a pinch and everyone ends up just a little bit happier at the end of the day!  Personally, I've had students come from my teams to: found their own technology company, work in graphic and editing for a major television network, work in technology in the military and even one who decided to go on and teach computers himself.

And think this is just for boys?  Think again!  It is a *great* way to get girls involved in computers!



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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The College Prep PodCast - Give Away and Great Advice!


From time-to-time someone recommends something for me to check out, and I usually do.  And once in a while, it is actually pretty good.  The College Prep PodCast is one of those things that is actually pretty good!  If you are a College Counselor or a student approaching those years where it is time to start preparing for and thinking deeply about college and your future, this is something for you!

The College Prep PodCast is hosted by the dynamic team of Megan Dorsey (a college admissions consultant) and Gretchen Wegner (an academic life coach).  Together they give you the ins-and-outs of preparing for and getting into the college you most want to attend!  The PodCast is *free* but the guidance is priceless!  During the podcast, Megan and Gretchen take students and families though troublesome subjects for most folks.  They hold your hands while they explain what to do, and what not to do on subjects such as: overcoming procrastination, hiring the right tutor, how to pay for college, college admissions timeline and more!  

A really exciting thing they are doing now is hosting a fabulous giveaway.  It features over $2000 worth of items, which includes an iPad mini, Amazon gift cards, SAT Success Online Prep Program, Starbucks gift card and more.  Take a look at this link to find out more about this awesome giveaway.

Here's the bottom line:  Everyone could use some help and advice when it comes to preparing for paying for and getting into college... right?  Gretchen and Megan are your answer!  Stop by and check out their informative, helpful and free podcast at 
http://collegepreppodcast.com!  You won't be sorry!


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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Google Classroom - First Look!


I posted a BLOG at the beginning of August about Google giving us a drop date for Classroom.  I've had some time now to play with it and get a solid impression of the product... here are my thoughts!

Google's new LMS (Learning Management System) would, on the surface, look to be an entree into the market in which products like Blackboard, FinalSite and Moodle have been the traditional heavyweights.  If you think that, you'd be wrong.  It plays much more in the space of something like Haiku or Edmodo when it comes to overall functionality... but let's talk about that a little.

For those educational institutions that are using Google Apps for Education (And if you aren't, you should ask yourself WHY... and have a reason).  But, if you are, you can request to have the App added to your suite and then it's easy to hop right into Classroom just like any other Google App.


Once you are inside Google Classroom and classes have been set up, the interface should be very familiar to you.  It is a similar clean, organized look and feel to other Google Apps.  It works via a class stream of information very similar to Google+, and everything that happens within the class will show up in the stream.  When something is assigned, turned in, graded, comments added etc -- it all shows up in the stream for the teachers.  The student view is slightly different and carries a little less information in it.

You can set up your class with information about it, upload a syllabus and post announcements just like you'd expect in any kind of system that hopes to help you organize your classes.  You can grade based on just about any scale you'd like, as long as it is a whole number.  No 89.5's here.  It is easy to take an assignment and grade it, and have it show up to the student as a newly graded assignment.  However, this is largely where the grading features stop.  A number of grading features are missing out of the box including timed-release of assignments, take-home exams, online assignments and several others that you'd expect to see in a full featured LMS such as Blackboard, Moodle or FinalSite.  But... keep in mind this is just the initial release!

The current layout of the stream and how it works contains all the information a student would need, but it is very much like Twitter or Facebook... if something is a few hours old you may have to hunt for it!  FinalSite has a similar issue with their FinalSite Social plug-in.  A student gets assigned something first period, doesn't check their stream until sixth period and ends up having to scroll through assignments, returned work and sporting event updates to find it.  It is imperfect -- and I'd expect will be refined over time in all products.  One thing to note is that there is a great deal of integration between Google Classroom and Google Drive.  This is a boon for teachers who need that little bit extra to help keeping the classes they have running on Google Drive working smoothly!

This pretty much sums up Google Classroom.  Quick, right?  I know.  It is a product still growing... it looks good and clean, but lacks a lot of features found even in Haiku.  If you are currently using something like FinalSite LMS, Moodle or even Whipple Hill you might not want to make the switch to Google Classroom.  But, for a school that is using Google Apps for Education and does not currently have a standardized LMS -- Google Classroom is something worth looking into!

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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tech History: ENIAC - The World's First SuperComputer

In this week's installment of Tech History, I am taking a page (quite literally... well... several pages) out of my upcoming computer science textbook: An Introduction to Computer Science for Everyone.  This will be on the market soon -- keep an eye out for it.  But, in the mean time -- here is a sneak peak as we discuss the relevance of ENIAC: The World's First SuperComputer!



The ENIAC story is driven by governmental need.  When World War II began, the United States was woefully underprepared for military operations.  The army needed to develop and test a large number of weapons in a short period of time.  In particular, it had to perform a number of ballistics tests to create artillery tables—in essence, a book showing how far an artillery shell would fly from a specific gun, given wind conditions, the angle of the gun barrel, and so on.
Like the mathematical tables of Babbage’s time, these artillery tables had been created by hand, but by now the army already had some devices for assisting in calculation.  Called differential analyzers, they operated on mechanical principles (much like Babbage’s machines), not on electronics.  But something better was needed, in aid of which the army hired John Mauchly and J.  Presper Eckert, computer scientists at the University of Pennsylvania.  In 1946, the machine they proposed was called ENIAC, which stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.  Like the ABC, it was truly a modern computer.
The term “modern” might seem too strong if you actually saw this machine.  Computers of that era relied on the vacuum tube, a device that resembled a lightbulb through which one electrical current can control another.  This controlling aspect was used to build logical circuits, because by itself one vacuum tube doesn’t do much.  Indeed, ENIAC required about 19,000 vacuum tubes to do its work, filled an entire room, weighed thirty tons, and drew about 200 kilowatts (that is, 200,000 watts) of power.  In comparison, a desktop computer purchased today would draw about 400 watts of power, which means ENIAC drew about 500 times more current, even though its actual ability to compute is dwarfed by the most inexpensive desktop computers of today.
What makes ENIAC so important is its reliance on electronics to solve a real-world problem.  There were as few mechanical parts as possible, although some mechanics were inevitable.  For example, ENIAC still used punch cards for input and output, and the parts that read and produced these cards were mechanical.  The vacuum tubes were built into mini-circuits that performed elementary logical functions and were built into larger circuits.  Those circuits were built into even larger circuits, a design idea that is still used today.
For decades the ENIAC was considered the first computer, but in the 1970s the judge in a patent infringement case determined that ENIAC was based on the designs of the ABC.  Other claims were also made, including those of Konrad Zuse, whose work in wartime Germany wasn’t known to the rest of the world for decades; and the Mark I, a computer developed around the same time at Harvard.  The question of what was the first modern computer may never be settled.  
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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Make Your Classroom Truly Interactive with ClassFlow

When I walk into a school and see that they have interactive whiteboards, I am always intrigued to hear how they actually use them in class.  That conversation generally begins with "Well, I don't really know how to use it..." or "I never got any training..." or "I'm sure I could be doing other things with this..", it really isn't any different at any school.  Sure, there are those who go out of their way to design neat, interactive lessons with their interactive white boards -- but they tend to be a handful at the most.  What we usually end up doing is giving them a tutorial on how to use the whiteboard, and then dive into their curriculum.  What are they teaching?  How?  And how would they like to?  And more-often-than not, we end up with a teacher who really just wants their students to be invested and involved in their learning process.  And they tend to not care if the interactive whiteboard is involved.



Enter ClassFlow.  Now, ClassFlow isn't specifically an interactive whiteboard application -- but it *is* an application that gets your students involved and interactive with the lesson in multiple ways.  You can, of course, use your interactive whiteboard with it -- no sweat there.  And -- it will juice up that lesson, too!  Do you have a Promethean ActivBoard?  If you do then you *must* see ClassFlow and ActivExpression working together - video at the bottom of this post!

Want to see ClassFlow with ActiveExpression?




ClassFlow allows you to design interactive lessons that bring your students into the lesson via an iPad iOS, Android or Windows 8 app.  The ClassFlow Student App is completely free for the students to download, and the use of the web app and tablet apps allow you to create lessons and unify your classes easily, with a few clicks.  It allows you to receive real-time student progress information through a combination of interactive and differentiated assessments.

Sound interesting?  It is!  Here's how you get started (for free by the way):



ClassFlow is a fantastic new platform that any teacher looking to create lessons that are not only interactive, but exciting and become something that students look forward to!  Below is a video that goes over some of the features of ClassFlow.  You can also click HERE to get started!



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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!