Saturday, June 27, 2009

Preliminary EduBloggerCon Reflections

We're more than halfway through EduBloggerCon. I took a walk during lunch to gather my thoughts, reflect, and plan this blog post. These are my preliminary thoughts about EduBloggerCon.

I should have changed my Twitter profile picture or posted a picture of myself on this blog. I've had a few people come up to me and say "where's the hat?" or "you don't look like your Twitter picture."

As with most conferences a huge source of value is connecting with other educators and developing ideas from those conversations. For the most part in today's sessions I've just laid back and gleaned ideas from the conversations. The first session that I joined was hosted by Liz B. Davis. The session was a discussion about professional development structure and a sharing of ideas for improving professional development. Two the ideas shared in that session that I really liked came from Jeff Utecht. Jeff shared the idea of "speed pd" which takes the concept of speed dating and applies it to professional development. The other idea that I enjoyed was the concept of developing an Individual Technology Education Plan for teachers. Using the ITEP concept, the technology integrator, with the teacher, develops a list of goals for learning about technologies for the classroom.

The second session I attended was a discussion about the role of social networking in education. Two thoughts from that session that I enjoyed were raised by people whose names I forgot to ask for. The first thought, which I'm paraphrasing, was if the response by schools to social networking is to ban it, what happens if you ignore it? The second thought which is one that I can see myself using in future was the idea that social networking profile pages can be used to build an archive of student work and or student progress.

Now, I'm off to a session about Edublogging's future.

Sugar on a Stick - Run Linux from USB

I resisted the temptation to title this post "Sugar on a Stick is Sweet" because that title might not have been descriptive enough. Sugar on Stick is a new release from Sugar Labs that will allow you to download to a USB drive and run from it the Sugar Linux environment. The Sugar Linux environment is best known for its use on the OLPC XO laptop. Although I haven't tried Linux on a Stick yet, (Iplan to as soon as I get another USB drive), but I have used and have had students use an OLPC XO with the Sugar Linux environment. My students who tried it found it easy to use and particuraly liked the user interface. To see screenshots and read more about Sugar on a Stick, check out the Ars Technica review.

Applications for Education
Sugar on a Stick could be a good, fairly easy way to bring the Linux environment to your school's computers. If you're in a school that is not ready to take the full plunge into Linux, you could use Sugar on a Stick to have students and faculty try it out.

Hurricane Season - Hurricane Tracking in GE

It's officially Hurricane Season again in the United States. Just as they did last year, Google LatLong has announced the creation of a hurricane layer for Google Earth. You can access the layer under "weather" in Google Earth. As a part of that announcement from Google was a link to NOAA's National Hurricane Center. On the National Hurricane Center website you can find information about currently developing storms as well as archived records of past storms.

Applications for Education
Using Google Earth to look at the path of hurricanes and other storms is one way to bring current news into the science classroom. The start of school coincides with hurricane season which presents teachers with a great opportunity to introduce students to the workings of Google Earth while teaching lessons about hurricanes and tropical storms.

Here are a couple of related resources that may be of interest to you:
Stop Disasters - Disaster Simulation Game
Hurricane Tracking Resources
Two Ways to Watch National Geographic Online