Friday, October 26, 2007

Templates for PBWiki

Developers at PBWiki have created an important new feature: Templates for your PBWiki
We’ve have created a quick and easy way for you to create your own templates. A template allows you to easily replicate wiki pages from the same design or style. They save time because each wiki editor does not have to create the document format on their own.
The Education Department at UNE has started a project to support students' understanding of lesson planning. I tried to identify ways to provide templates for various types of lesson plans (direct instruction, inquiry-based, problem-based, ...). PBWiki provides a set of tool across the bottom of each wiki page. They include a feed of Recent PBWiki Blog Posts that called the innovation to my attention. I'll test it for this application.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why all Americans need to know more about technology

In trying to identify resources for students to use for learning with technology, A Blueprint for the Future, recommended Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology, a National Academy Press book, that makes the case for everyone to enhance their understanding of technology. The NAP provides this tool to make it easy to recommend this resource to others. Clip a snippet from their page and paste it into the html for this page:

Read this free online

Note that you can read it for free online and purchase paper copies if you prefer that form.

Friday, October 5, 2007

XO Laptops for teachers, too?

David Pogue, technology reviewer for the New York Times, wrote and video-logged an engaging review of the new XO Laptop, the $200 laptop for kids primarily in developing countries. He worries that sophisticated users may disparage the device and limit its diffusion:
Clearly, the XO’s mission has sailed over these people’s heads like a 747.

The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough — some of them not available on any other laptop, for $400 or $4,000.
I've thought that I'd like to have a set to work with teachers in learning how to integrate technology into schools. I've signed up to "give one, get one". Will someone please mesh with me?

Opportunities for diversity

At this week's faculty meeting, Susan Hillman called to our attention the need for us to facilitate opportunities for our students and ourselves to explore and understand the importance of diversity in our schools and society. We discussed the challenges of learning from faculty, peers and students of other races and cultures in states like Maine, which have relatively small minority populations. For example, the education department of the University of Maine at Orono has started to place more of its student-teaching assignments in Portland where some schools are more diverse than those nearer to Orono. We discussed how the additional demand for placement sites impacts the schools trying to serve those students. Despite our good intentions, we must not overwhelm those students and the institutions that serve them.

As members of the majority culture, we must also identify and use other venues to support our learning. Distributed networks of people from many locations can provide some of those opportunities if we can find ways to develop rich experiences. The Language Exchange, a new application on Facebook, seems to provide such an opportunity to explore and assess.
Access to the links for the Language Exchange require that you establish a Facebook account. The following exerpt describing the application may convince you that is its worth exploring:
Interested in learning languages and cultures?
Join our global language exchange network!

With this application it is easy to find the right language exchange partner according to the compatibility with your personal interests and your availability.

Your language exchange partners will be managed from your profile. You will be kept updated with the good practices developed by other members of our global exchange community on how to use text, audio or video to overcome the distance.

Accumulate experience and good references and you can become an "expert", resulting in extra-benefits such as more flexibility on the language exchange (e.g. you teach and learn from different people) and even receiving proposals for professional services.
With enough members in your area, we will be able to help you organise local networks as the one in the figure.

This application started with a student society at the University of Sussex in Brighton UK where we are already hundreds of members exchanging our native languages and culture with peers locally.
Using the facebook's social network, we can create a global goodwill network where we can understand each other better!
Note too, that enterprising students are showing us the way!