Monday, November 30, 2009

Kindle and Accessibility Issues

If you're going to be using the Kindle as part of your "service delivery" package and you think you may be serving clients / customers with high vision loss, well, you may be interested in a recent Education Week article.

Twitter and PowerPoint Presentations - Now this is Interactive

Timo Elliot has recently released PowerPoint Twitter tools built on SAP Business Objects that let presenters see and respond to tweets within their presentations in real-time. Now that's interactive. Some positive possibilities for presentations delivered via web conference or ways of introducing other remote presenters / parties.

Context is everything, though, in certain environments I can see this tool backfiring or causing certian editorial challenges vis-a-vis "distracting" tweets. Correcting this thanks to clarification by Timo Elliot himself,
"there's a moderation option for any off-topic (or off-color) tweets (with the help of and a designed person to monitor the feed)"
Worth a try. There are a number of PowerPoint Twitter tools to accommodate different presentation and information gathering activities, e.g. feedback, voting, etc.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

K-12 Online Learning in Canada - A Report

K-12 Online Learning in Canada, a State of the Nation report by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and a more in-depth follow-up to it's initial 2008 snapshot report.

The report examines the K-12 distance education policies and activities in each of the provinces and territories, with a focus on the legislation governing distance education in Canadian jurisdictions and the respective programmes.

Some surprising stats for Canadian teachers. While all jurisdictions have some form of K-12 distance education, two provinces make sole use of a single, province-wide K-12 distance education programme...this latter point actually surprised me, I was under the impression that no province had yet to get their act together enough to support a province-wide initiative, let alone have one sole provider.

Basically, a very detailed, policy and programme based report, teachers usually shy away from these reports but I think their useful and informative.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ThinkFree Online - yup... another online office suite

ThinkFree Online is yet another online office application suite, it's been around for a few years and is based out of South Korea (a Haansoft Corporation product). It's an impressive platform and has a wide array of features which make it attractive to enterprise models as well as educational communities.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CCPA Report on School Funding in Ontario

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has just released a report which looks at education funding in Ontario - No Time for Complacency: Education Funding Reality Check. The report provides an unkind review of the funding framework for elementary and secondary education in Ontario. The CCPA report takes a cross-jurisdictional and comparative look at education funding (Canada and the United States), providing background and data. The "stats" are what they are, numbers, and one thing we all know is that data and analysis can vary greatly between groups: plus, we do need to keep in mind that the Ministry are the only ones who have access to all the data.

The CCPA's final recommendation is somewhat disappointing:
We need an independent body responsible for accountability and oversight for public education in Ontario; a body that can speak credibly about the funding and programming that are required for student success, and which has the resources
to evaluate the effectiveness of school boards and the Government of Ontario in achieving our educational objectives.
In today's fiscally conservative political landscape, and this rings true regardless of which side of the fence you happen to land, recommending a layer of bureacracy on top of a well-established Ministry (i.e. a big Ministry) is, politically, a little "yesteryearish".

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Education and Web 2.0 White Paper

Steve Hargadon, social learning consultant and creator of Classroom 2.0, has just released a white paper - Educational Networking: The Important Role Web 2.0 Will Play in Education.

If you take the computer out of the educational process in many of today's classrooms and schools the activities and instruction wouldn’t change much, but Steve Hargadon see's Web 2.0 changing all that. His central point is that Web 2.0 will be the computer "technology" which will finally change the institution and practice of education as we know it - how we teach, how we plan and integrate curriculum, what is curriculum, process, etc.. He identifies the spreadsheet, the word processor, and email as seminal in the changing and defining how the business world now functions, and frames Web 2.0 in the same context as regards the educational process.
...The advent of the Internet, however, and in particular what we are calling “Web 2.0,” has so significantly changed our relationship to information and our own personal learning opportunities outside of formal education, that we’re beginning to see a set of software tools emerge that are profoundly altering both learning processes and outcomes. These tools allow us to see the start of a radical evolution in education that will bring such dramatic changes that we’ll soon be at a point where we won’t be able to imagine education without them.
Steve's discussion is really clear, well outlined, and takes an "umbrella" look at the layers, including professional development and participation at all levels (a pet peeve of mine I'm constantly harping on about).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Smart End of "Social" from Google and Twitter

Two announcements this week have helped push Google News and Twitter toward a smarter "social" this week.

Listiti, a web-based application, was introduced to the social media world this week and its tag line is "Google Alerts Meets Twitter Lists"....excellent. Yes, Twitter lists does help navigate the onslaught of meaningless tweets, but we still had to face the prospect of filtering through endless meanderings to find one useful tweet: and the more you follow the more of an ordeal it becomes. Listiti allows you to have keywords you specifiy, and as many as you want, search through an associated Twitter list of your choosing. Once you've set up your alert Listiti will send you email alerts (presently set at once every hour) whenever tweets match your specified query.

Google News has developed a Custom Sections Directory, which gives users the ability to create customized news sections to put on their Google News home page and / or share with other users. In other words, if you use Google News and find yourself building complex filters to simply gather articles on a particular topic, now you can just create your own section for that topic. and it's simple - add the relevant keywords, tests the results, if you're happy you can then publish it to a directory so others can benefit.

All we need is an application which would allows us to combine our news section with the Twitter list that would be an all-encompassing news goldmine during elections or other news-crazed activities or periods.

We teach media and media monitoring to our elementary students, and products like the new Google News custom sections helps bridge the students with information which may still seem a little "grown-up" to them.