Monday, June 30, 2008

NECC Report #2: Day 1

I started off the day with Joyce Valenza and we visited a press suite where we learned more about PBS TeacherLine's new and upcoming professional development options and met with Discovery Education and Wilkes University to talk about their joint online master's degree in Instructional Technology.

I then worked with a group of teachers, in the hallway, on the floor, on Moodle strategies (because we were blocked out of a workshop that was full) and it was a great collaborative time.

I went to the exhibit hall to visit the vendors I wanted to catch up with, including Asus, so I could actually touch the new eeePC 901. It is sweet, out in 7 days, and all I have to decide is to get glossy black or glossy white. (The black one is cool looking!) Going back tomorrow to do the entire hall and see some new things!

I rode the bronco while I was in the hall, too.

Then I went to a Thinkfinity session with Chris Dede and Danny Edelson entitled "The Learning Multiplier: Using Multi-Device Environments to Engage Students". It dealt with innovative and practical practices for the use of smaller devices to conduct real-life data-gathering and research.

I ran into tons of people and friends, and had a good time networking, of course!

I finished up the day at a Google Apps presentation put on my Cristin Frodella and Danny Chang where they provided a very good overview of Google Apps for Education. We use it in our district, so I did not learn a bunch, but they did a very good job providing information for the audience members who were not using the suite of tools.

On to the MICCA/VSTE reception tonight and then getting ready for my talk tomorrow!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

NECC Report #1: Leadership Symposium

This session focused on both defining the meaning of various NETS*T for our table, attending four short sessions from great teachers who are conducting collaborative and global projects, coming back to discuss our "discoveries", listening to a short presentation by each of the contributing educators (so we could hear from the four we did not get to visit), and a chance to ask questions.

I chose to be in the "Communication and Collaboration" strand, and was very excited about the discussions and presentations that I was able to see! The sessions were videotaped so I assume ISTE will be sharing this online as some point.

Continuing on with the day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gettting ready for NECC in SL!

Kathy Dryburgh's new cowboy hat

I took a little trip in Second Life today to the TX PBS TeacherLine and TCEA's shared site on one of the ISTE islands. Took a bull ride and chatted with Joie Despres (SL) who was busy getting the site ready for NECC!

She handed me a notecard to share with all of you about an event they are having on their sim area tomorrow night.

"Howdy Ya'll!

On June 19 at 6PM SLT, put on your cowboy hats and boots and join PBS TeacherLine of Texas and the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA), your Texas Ambassadors, as we welcome you to NECC in San Antonio, Texas 2008!

Kathy Dryburgh bull-riding

We are going to fire up the barbecue, put on some country western for a little line dancing, and get real crazy with a bull-riding contest. Yeehah!! So, come on down!"

SLURL for the event:

I immediately went out and found a cool cowboy hat! Looking forward to the event in SL and even more to the event in San Antonio in RL!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kindle update...

The Kindle is a interesting device! Having 10 hours at a time (twice!) on the bus to and from Washington, DC, to put it through its paces, really gave me time to learn how to use it well.

The screen is easy on the eyes although I still have to remember I need an external light source to read it. The bus seat lights worked just fine as did reading it in the bright sunlight outside.

The "experimental" browser takes some getting used to, but once I started using the mobile versions of sites, like I do on my Windows Mobile phone, I could do just about anything I needed to do. I even posted to Twitter!

I listened to an audiobook for some of the time, and that worked well, too. I practice marking things up, creating clippings that could be searched later, and read some of my own content I had put on the device.

The battery life was really long, but I don't know how long, since I was busy taking care of chaperoning duties in-between! I did shut the wireless off while listening or reading, and I know that extends the battery life, too.

We have just purchased two Kindles for our high school library as a pilot, and I found out a couple of things. First, you can have up to 6 Kindles tied to one Amazon account, and, if you buy a single title, you are allowed to put it on all 6 of them.

Secondly, since any user of the Kindle can purchase a new title from the Kindle store from the Kindle itself, we did not know how we were going to control students from purchasing books on a whim. We are solving the problem by putting a gift certificate on the Amazon account with no other method of payment on the account. The teachers will spend the gift certificate funds to purchase a bunch of titles, so there will be no payment method available to purchase new titles by the users. We will just load the books up with the purchased titles.

(Update to clarify the above paragraph: As we do in the real library, suggestions for purchases submitted by students will be considered for the Kindle as they are for print titles in the library. I was not suggesting that the educators would control the content purchased for the Kindle. I was suggesting that, for a district that does not have a credit card and needs to carefully control spending due to limited resources, the gift certificate option would allow a designated amount of money to be spent on titles suggested by staff or students at the school.)

I will have the Kindle at NECC with me if anyone is interested in trying it out...just ask me when you see me!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kathy's Kindle

Well, I have had the Amazon Kindle, Amazon's new electronic ebook, for a week now and will be putting it to the test starting tomorrow on the 10-hour bus ride to Washington, DC with the 8th graders!

I cannot yet comment on the screen for reading for long periods at a time, since I have really spent the week getting to know Kindle. I read the PDF guide (on the computer although it is also on the Kindle in azw format) and tried all of the functions. I read for a bit, and it is comfortable to hold, once out of its cover, and readable outside in the son and under inside light. It took me some time to get over the fact it is not backlit like a computer or my old Rocket eBook. However, once I remembered to treat it like a "real" book, the clarity of the screen was great and the ability to change the text size was neat.

I purchased a few titles from the Amazon Kindle store (Daniel Pink, Janet Evanovich, and Ann Brashares), loaded up some e-texts from the public domain e-text sites, put some MP3's on the SD card to counteract any movie playing on the bus, and spent some time with the Internet access available on the Kindle. Buying and downloading the books could not have been easier or faster, but I was surprised when Collin's "Good to Great" was not available as an e-text to purchase.

I have decided not to take a computer with me to Washington, and have been trying out the experimental Web browser on the Kindle as an alternative. (The Kindle includes no-cost Sprint cellular EV-DO access to Amazon and the rest of the Net for every owner of one!) As one that is used to using the Web on a Windows Smartphone (Treo before and now HTC Touch), using the mobile versions of Web sites comes naturally and I think I will be able to take care of business this week using the Kindle. Time will tell...

Gotta go pack!