Friday, December 13, 2013

Acer c720P, is a touch enough to bring happiness?

My new Acer c720P Touch Screen Chromebook arrived yesterday. I thought I’d be happier with it than I am, though it’s hard to express exactly why reality didn't meet my expectations. I don’t think it’s rooted in so much in functionality of the machine, though I did have to call support immediately after logging in thinking the screen was defective but more on that later. I’m thinking my disappointment is based on the fact that the design seems old school. The dark gray square case looks like an old IBM machine I had years ago. Its not sleek and thin like my Samsung Chromebook which takes its looks from Apple’s MAC Air Pro, and we all know that Apple is all about design and how our devices make us feel.

I had been waiting for an affordable touch screen Chromebook since the Chrome Pixel came out. I decided I couldn't justify $1200 for another Chromebook just because it has a touch screen. Why I thought the touch screen would make a difference, I can’t tell you, maybe I thought it would combine the best of the computer and tablet worlds. It’s too early to tell on that score but my initial reaction is that it doesn't completely have the same functionality as my Nexus screen rotation and I’m trying to figure out what exactly the pinch open and pinch close works on. I haven’t gotten it to do anything yet but that could be just my ignorance.

Which brings me back to when I first opened and logged into my new Chromebook. The initial setup went fine, I was able to touch my way through links on the shiny new screen but as soon as I logged into my account the screen was zoomed in so far all I could see was white space at the bottom left of the Google search page with no menu or navigation anywhere on the page. After what seemed like hours, I was able to inch the screen over to get to the settings and look at the zoom and screen size settings but nothing looked abnormal. Several times I shut down and started the process all over again only to find the same results. Thinking it was a defective touch screen I went online on my Samsung Chromebook, and found the Acer support chatting with them about my problem. After troubleshooting for another hour they concluded it wasn't a hardware problem and therefore not covered under warranty. My excitement over getting a new Chromebook diminished to anger over getting a lemon. I told them I’d just send it back to Amazon. But during our conversations, I had the feeling they didn't know what they were talking about and weren't really familiar with a Chromebook. After another hour of researching and struggling to change the super zoomed in screen, I found that the Accessibility setting was enabled for the screen magnifier. I hadn't changed this setting and can only conclude that for some reason it had been enabled in the factory.

I’m now trying to get over my negative experience with my initial use of my Acer Chromebook and the fact that it looks like a boring business machine. This morning’s HangOut might be enough for me to like it, the connection and picture quality was excellent. I’m still wondering if a touch will be enough to bring happiness, or was the anticipation and excitement too much to expect that.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Embedding & Sharing a Prezi

In this week's multimedia class, we each created a Prezi presentation and embedded them into a Blog posts and shared them to our private G+ community. The following tutorial demonstrates how to embed a Prezi into a blog post and share it to a Google Plus community.

Below is my demo Prezi...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Class Collaborative Slideshow

This is a collaborative project for our CCV Multimedia Apps & Tools Fall 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Creating a Slideshow with YouTube

Our learning topic this week is Creativity and using Creativity Tools. Students will explore The Big Picture photo news journalism site and then create their own photo slideshow. I've created a video tutorial on how to create a photo slideshow using Google+Photos and YouTube Photo Slideshow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Building an Online Learning Community

We are into Week#3 of Multimedia Apps & Tools, a course I am teaching for Community College of Vermont. Like any course, the first few weeks are spent setting up systems, clarifying expectations, finding our way around and getting to know each other. As an instructor for an online course, my primary goal is to create a learning community where students aren't just working in isolation and interacting with just the material. Using Google Apps allows me to approximate a face to face classroom where real life connections and social engagement are possible in real time, as well as asynchronously. While I am tied to Moodle, the college’s LMS for our home room so to speak for grading and posting weekly lessons, we are able to leave that box by using tools like Google+ Communities and HangOuts for online sharing, collaborating and live discussions, or Blogger for reflective journaling, as well as many of the other creative & collaborative tools Google offers.  Below is a presentation I prepared which highlights using Google Apps for building an online learning community.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Final Tech Tips from Room 224

​This will be my final "Tech Tips from Room 224." I've included some links at the end of this post which I hope, if you are not using technology for teaching and learning, will at least begin to create an awareness and make you question, why you and as a district we have not shifted to a true digital learning environment. In addition, I've added some links to digital tools that I believe best support digital teaching and learning.

The key point I want to share has been clearly summarized in the white paper,  How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning by Tom VanderArk & Carri Schneider...
"...all students must have access to educational opportunities that foster deeper learning in order to be successful in college and their careers. Creating these opportunities for every student in every classroom can be achieved by using personal digital learning tools that customize the educational experience and serve the individual needs of each student on his/her own unique learning path."
It has been my goal to help educators in making the shift from pencil and paper, 20th century teaching and learning to a 21st century digital learning environment that leverages the technology tools to engage all students in learning experiences that are relevant to today's digital world, and allow for more creative and collaborative learning. While I believe I've made some headway in achieving my goal and I see amazing examples of digital teaching and learning in our school's classrooms, the district has a long way to go. I'm inspired by the YouTube Video For Malaysia showing how the entire country of Malaysia is going Google and providing Chromebooks for all 10 million students. If a whole country believes that reforming education can be done with affordable tools like Chromebooks and Google Apps, then why aren't we at least talking about the possibilities for our small district in rural Vermont?

Why do we still struggle here at WCSU with barriers to digital learning? Why don't we have technology in the hands of all students every day where they aren't simply tools to learn but tools for learning? Why do we still struggle with the technology where some classrooms don't have adequate numbers of computers for students and those that do it takes 15 minutes for a $600-400 student netbook computer to boot up in class when a $249 Chromebook is working in 10 seconds? Why aren't we considering 1:1 initiatives like other districts and exploring how digital learning will allow us to address the Common Core State Standards?
I'm not sure if it's the right reason we should change to digital learning but despite the motivation, Common Core State Standards will drive the change necessary to make digital technology part of students everyday learning experience but to shift to deeper learning with digital technologies it will require vision, planning and understanding.

Last summer I wrote a post in this blog called "Review of Focus" which was a challenge to our district administrators to think critically about a book they were reading called "Focus" by Mike Schmoker. My writing was somewhat tongue-and-cheek by fearing they would take it personally and I'd lose my job over challenging them to have vision and think about the implications of ignoring digital learning. But little did I know then that it would be taken personally and my prediction would come true. My position has been eliminated and I'll be leaving in a few days. While some may say it was due to lack of grant funding, I know that is not the whole truth but will not disparage the administrator who did so to me and took the blog post challenge personally.

My last tip to you as educators is to accept change and prepare your students for the digital world they live in and support each other in the transition to becoming digital educators.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1st EdTech Tips from Rm 224

EdTech Tips from Room 224

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May Tech Tips from Room 224

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekly EdTech Tips from Room 224

EdTech Tips from Room 224

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WCSU Google Apps Updated Help Site

One thing that is constant in today's world is change and keeping up with technology tools for teaching and learning is a skill in itself. I have often found myself trying to maintain websites as resources for up-to-date information with all of the best tools and tips for teachers and students but I am realizing that it's not as efficient nor valuable as teaching them how to stay current and informed by developing their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN). Recently, I've been exploring the use of Google Plus for my own PLN and find it's the best networking system for connecting, collaborating and sharing ideas about education. It's less cluttered with my family and friends posts in Facebook, has more room for posting links, images, videos and writing than Twitter, and has dynamic collaborative tools like Google HangOut and Communities for working online with others. I'll be posting more information and video tutorials on using our school's Google Plus accounts as a collaborative platform for professional development and connecting with colleagues.

For now, I'm sharing our district's  WCSU Google Apps for Education resource site with links to Google's most recent tutorials and links on all of the Google Apps for education.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chrome ToolBox

I've recently been working with a few of our teachers in finding technologies that will support their student's specific learning needs within our school's Google Apps domain. We have found that many of the Chrome Extensions and Apps allow for Universal Design where all students can work and be productive in our Google Apps for Education learning environment. Some of our first choice apps are ...Read&Write for Google Docs,  SpeakIt and Split Screen In addition, mobile devices such as Nexus 7, Android phones, iPads provide additional supports for quality speech to text in Google Docs with easy built in speech control (mic) within the virtual keyboards.

Below is a resource called "Chrome Toolbox" as part of the Doctor of Professional Studies for Education Professionals at Pace University program by John Calvert and Mark Surabian.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

GoogleAppsDigitalEcosystem 2013

GoogleAppsDigitalEcosystem 2013:

A presentation I made to the Vermont Curriculum Leaders Association. I think the idea of understanding GAE as a learning system that offers opportunities for creativity and collaboration is important as we address Common Core and it's implied and embedded use of technology.