Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Google Education: Too New for School?

Flickr PhotoIn spite of the fact that he seems to be under the weather, Bud has some interesting things to say about Google Education (and to a lesser extent, Discovery Educator Network).

He hit several different angles, but the one that struck me the most is as follows:
Seriously, though. There's always someone trying to make a dollar off of a teacher or a classroom. Sometimes that's an OK thing, because they've got a product that helps me do something that I want to do. Other times, that's no good, because they're poor salespeople -- they want to sell me something that I don't really need, or won't actually do something for the benefit of my students.

Flickr PhotoI've seen both situations, as I'm sure many of you have as well. The reason I stand by the DEN is not because unitedstreaming is a great service (although it is), but because they seem to be honestly interested in raising the technological savvy of teachers everywhere. I mean, hey, they've given multiple workshops on blogging and podcasting, two things you just can't do with unitedstreaming's content because of copyright restrictions.

But they still teach it.

Google Education ... well, to be honest, the only new thing I've seen so far is their newsletter, and that doesn't really excite me. Google is in a different position than the DEN is in - the DEN makes money from schools paying for unitedstreaming and Cosmeo subscriptions, and keeps ads from 3rd parties off of its sites. With few exceptions, Google charges nothing. It makes its revenue off of its Adsense program - something it has managed very well indeed.

(The ads on my own site are from Google, although they're doing much better than I am, I'm afraid. I hope to someday earn enough from those ads to renew my domain name registration just once - earning enough to pay for hosting is a pipe dream with my non-Laporte levels of traffic.)

Flickr PhotoGoogle could do a lot with the tools they have, and in fact they are providing a lot already. I've been to more than one workshop that tauted Google Earth for virtual field trips or (what was then called) Writely for anything from replacing Microsoft Office to working collaboratively with classrooms around the world. I myself have raved about SketchUp and Blogger, and I still recommend all of these services.

But still, their education site seems a little tacked on at the moment. It's as if someone in marketing said, "Hey, if we make a page that links to all the stuff Google is doing and put the word 'education' at the top of it, we'll have tons of teachers visit - which will lead to more revenue through our advertisements!"
And except for a newsletter and a workshop that most people will never be able to attend, that's all they seem to have done.

Still, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Google Education is young, and we all know Google has a history of rolling out products that will remain in public beta for incredibly long lengths of time. It's a work in progress and the criticism above was made with that fact in the back of my head.
Let's check back in a year. I'm curious to see how they turn out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 113

In honor of Halloween, Here's a not-so-serious list of the top 10 scary things in education:
Flickr PhotoTop 10 scary things about education.

10. Due to the emphasis on standardized tests, local universities will look at SAT scores more than class grades. As soon as your entire curriculum is revamped so that your students have a better chance of getting into their universities of choice, those colleges will switch back.

9. Students notice when you glance at the teacher's manual to see what the answer is.

8. Digital Rights Management will eventually be so invasive that the only way to copy handouts will be to send all papers to the nearest monastery, where monks will take breaks from copying their illuminated manuscripts to give you 30 copies of Wednesday's math homework.

Horseman7. Taking a cue from Microsoft, your school's local tech support will start referring to your computer's spyware and virus infections as "features." And really, isn't that a rather soothing shade of blue on that screen of yours?

6. Due to the leaps and bounds in technology that have been taken by the toy industry, most teachers will be replaced by the latest RoboSapien. Specialists, on the other hand, will be replaced by Tickle-Me Elmo dolls.

5. DNA tests on yesterday's mystery meat in the cafeteria came back .. inconclusive.

Cylon Pumpkin4. It wasn't the custodians that got rid of those ants in your room. A colony of large spiders moved into your desk and they had to eat something.

3. Your Technology Coordinator has taken her first day off in ten years, and the network just went down halfway through first period when you were planning to spend the whole day in the computer lab.

2. Today's students will be running tomorrow's nursing homes.

1. Just when you thought you'd downloaded all your favorite educational netcasts, you found out that one of the files is incom-

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Caught up

I've finally read all of the RSS feeds in my Bloglines account.


NOW what do I do?  ;)

MICCA Blogging Workshop

Who: Me! MICCA actually wants me to be a presenter again! (I guess I wasn't too bad the last time...)

What: A workshop that will cover the edu-blogging basics as well as point out some good places to start and some excellent examples done by other educators.

Where: Greenbelt Elementary School, Greenbelt MD (Thanks to the accommodating staff there for hosting the event!)

When: Monday November 13th, from 5-8 PM

Why: Because not enough teachers (and administrators) have been bitten by the blogging bug.

How: MICCA put out an open call for anyone willing to run some workshops, and I jumped at the chance. They'll be handling most of the (non-education related) hassles, including promotion and refreshments.


Workshop Registration

MICCA hands-on technology training sessions are held at central locations statewide. Most of the workshops are scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please check the specific workshop for date and time.
Directions are available directly on the Workshop link. They will also be sent with registration confirmation by email. Workshops are a non-refundable $10.00 and should accompany the workshop form. All checks are made out to "MICCA". Registration will be confirmed via email or telephone. Each workshop is limited to the first twenty applicants.



MICCA Member

__ Yes __No Memberships expires: ___________



Work Phone


Workshop Title

Baffled by Blogging?

Workshop Date

Monday, November 13

Computer Experience

__ Beginner __ Intermediate __ Advanced
Mail Registration and deposit fee/ (checks made payable to MICCA) to:
c/o Michael Maszczenski
103 Little Neck Road
Stevensville MD 21666

Thank you, Mr. Richardson!

... for the best SAT question ever.

Students should know that we're still learning, and they should know how to do it so they can use the same steps.  (Or avoid them, if we're not really learning.)

Blogged with Performancing

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 Updated!

Firefox 2 has just been released, and I bit the bullet to see if it was worth it.

I have to say, it was the most painless Firefox install I ever tried. It looked at my Firefox 1.5 preferences and plug-ins and moved everything over except for one plug-in that wasn't compatible, and with one click it found an updated version of that one.

If you haven't tried Firefox, or you've been waiting for the next release, you should try it out now.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 112

Here are the instructions for how to move video from the internet, to iTunes, to your (video) iPod, to anything with RCA jacks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Am Legion

Looks like there's a whole lot of people out there who share my name.

You see, people? THIS is why I don't have AaronSmith.com as a web site.

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 111

Download .mp3

Adventures with oekaki (otherwise known as forums that let you draw things). .. I haven't had any yet, but I think I'm ready.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

This is only a test, and I'm sick.

Sorry to get your hopes up. I'm not really dead, just distracted.

New podcast on Monday.


Edit: It seems I was a little too ambiguous with this update. Sometimes when I don't post for a while I put up a "I'm not quite dead yet!" post just to let people know I haven't abandoned my site completely.  The apology was because I've had people tell me they look forward to my podcasts, and since this update gives you nothing new really I can see how it would be a bit of a letdown.

The back story is this:  After visiting Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm's Harvest Festival last weekend (an annual event I try to never miss), I came down with a cold which I apparently still have.  It's not enough to keep me home from work (I have too much of my father in me), but it is slowing me down and I need to save my sore throat for telling Kindergarten kids that oil paints aren't lipstick.

I'm hoping I'll be back to normal (or at least my usual grade of abnormal) by Monday, and if I'm not I'll still have SOME audio for you.  I might even find a guest podcaster, but we'll see.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, October 02, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 110

Download .mp3

Web based open source educational games are harder to find than I thought.

Leo, Chris. Chris, Leo.

One of my favorite podcasts it Tips From the Top Floor, which talks about digital photography, and one of my favorite podcasters is Leo Laporte.

So I was just thrilled to find out that the two of them met at the Podcast Expo.  I'd love to see an interview between the two of them with more substance, though.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Few Good Games

I want to make my art club site a little more fun, so I'm trying to find some games I can add (among other things).

My Dreamhost account gives me unlimited MySQL databases and lots of space, so games that need that are fair game.

I don't just want to put any old activities on my server, though.  This weekend I've been trying to find games that are fun, educational, open source, and KID SAFE.  I've actually found a couple of open source games written in PHP, but one of them was overly complicated and the other one was not in my opinion appropriate for students.  (Although it was still more tame than any of the GTA games, but that's besides the point.)

So I thought I'd ask you, my more-or-less loyal subscriber base.  Do you know where I might find some web-based games I could host on my server?