Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Things Teachers Should Know Before 1:1

I was on a conference call this evening with some other educators and administrators in the state of Maine. The purpose of the call was to brainstorm ideas for a video about preparing for teaching in a 1:1 computing environment. In advance of the call we were asked to generate a list of things that teachers should know before teaching in a 1:1 environment.
This is the list that I generated with some help from my Twitter friends @ernieeaster @scmorgan and @edtech4me

1. Not all teenagers are digital natives.
2. The computer itself is not going to create student engagement.
3. Teaching with technology is a heterogeneous experience.
4. It takes longer than you think to get a room full of students on the same webpage.
5. You should keep a list of students' usernames and passwords.
6. Murphy's Law is strongest the first few times you try to teach 1:1
7. Close and Focus.
8. Project design is still about the content.
9. Better to stand behind students than in front.
10. Network administrators are not always up to date on Web 2.0 from the end-user perspective. (There's a difference between hardware people and software people).

Darcy Moore
wrote a great series of posts on this topic back in May. I encourage you to read his posts on the topic as he reached out to hundreds of people to generate his lists.

Solar Eclipse Simulation in Google Earth

Next week on July 22 there will be a solar eclipse will be visible in most of eastern Asia and the pacific. Hey What's That produces a variety of visualization tools using the Google Earth platform. In advance of next week's solar eclipse, Hey What's That has created a simulation of the path of the moon in relation to the sun. You can view the simulation using the Google Earth browser plug-in. You can view the simulation from different perspectives simply by selecting a different location on the Earth's surface.

Thanks to the Google Earth Blog for the tip.

Applications for Education
This visualization is a great way to show students how the orbits of the Earth and Moon act to create this brief eclipse. You can show students how one part of the world sees the eclipse compared to the view from another part of the world.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:

Exploring Africa in Google Earth
Virtual Submarine Tours in Google Earth
Five Resources for Teaching About Earthquakes

Friend Feed in Education

Friend Feed is a microblogging platform that for some reason hasn't gained traction in the edublogging community the way that Twitter has. That's a shame because Friend Feed has some great features that make a superior communication tool compared to Twitter. I talked to a few people at NECC about the lack of Friend Feed adoption in the edublogging community. From those conversations it seems that people just aren't aware of what Friend Feed offers.

Here are some of the key features that Friend Feed offers.
1. More than 140 characters. There is a good argument for Twitter's character restriction making you choose your words carefully, but sometimes you just need more room in order to complete a conversation.
2. Commenting and "like" system. Similar to Facebook's commenting and "like" system, Friend Feed's system allows users to comment on any of your posts. This makes it much easier to hold and track a conversation. With real-time updates, whenever someone comments on any of your posts, that post rises back to the top of your stream so that you can see it without having to search for it.
3. Room/ Group creation. Friend Feed allows you to create as many rooms (also referred to as groups) as you like. The purpose of creating a room is to have a place to hold a conversation around a specific topic or event. For example I created a room for NECC 2009. I've also created a room for people to share thoughts and resources about technology in education. Rooms can be private (you control who can join, view, and comment), semi-private (only you can post new items, but anyone can comment), or public (anyone can join, view, and post). Setting up a room is very easy, just go to your homepage select "browse/ edit groups" and create your new group.
4. Embeddable widgets. Friend Feed offers a good selection of widgets that you can embed into your blog or website. You can embed your main Friend Feed stream or you can embed the stream of updates from a group. In the right hand side bar I've embedded the widget for updates from the Free Tech 4 Teachers group. If you're a Friend Feed user, you can go an comment in it right now.

Applications for Education
The option to create a private Friend Feed room could be a great way to create a back channel for your classroom or for any workshops that you may lead. You could also create a private Friend Feed room for your students to use as brainstorming area or a book discussion forum. Because Friend Feed's commenting and "liking" system is similar to Facebook's, most middle school and high school students should quickly figure out how to use it.