Finished the Portrait Unit

12/22/06

Well,

I have completed my first shot at the portrait unit. I'm sure I'll change it many more times before this class goes live.

It contains four sections:

  • Introduction
  • Resources
  • Assignment
  • Discussion Question

Digital Photography cont.

I've started on creating my digital photography (dp) course. I've spent a lot of time searching for other online dp courses. I'm going to use three main resources, two existing online courses, and one online book called Grokking the GIMP This book is completely free and you can download a copy of it and use it on your own webserver. I have put it into my course.

The two courses are:

So between the two online courses listed above I'll create my own following the unit outline from the first and adding content and resources from the second. Where I'm stuck is on how to share student work. Ideally I'd have a photoblog within the course where students would post their assignments and other students would comment on them along with instructor feedback. I was told by our CMS, eCollege, that they don't have that feature, but it will be added to the wish list.

So if I want to keep student work and comments within the course, I'm limited to the webliography, doc sharing, and the journal. While doc sharing is my first thought, the students would have to download files onto their computer to view them. While that is OK, it would be nice if they could just view them online. I think I'll use the journal to have students discuss their own work or specific questions with the instructor and the webliography to direct them to online resources.

What I'll probably end up doing is creating a flickr account for the course and have students post and comment on flickr. An added bonus may be that anyone else can look and comment, giving the students a wider audience. To me, that is both intimidating and intriguing at the same time. I"ll also have to look into the privacy issues regarding that. I'm pretty sure that I'll have to employ aliases and not use students' real names.

Another thing to figure out is grading. How to grade, use of rubrics, etc... I'm going to email both creators of the classes I listed above and ask their advice.

digital photo class for our online HS

12/18/06

I'm going to start creating a digital photography course for our HS. I'm going to borrow very heavily from Pnelson's website: http://rhs.riverdale.k12.or.us/~pnelson/gimp/ I'll make sure I add some things that are specific for our kids and landscape. I'll keep you posted on the progress I make over Christmas break. I'm working until the New Year, then I'm taking a week off. It should be nice and quiet, letting me get a lot of work done.

content filtering

12/13/06

With our new iPrism box, we are able to look at every single web page that a computer visits during a specified time range. A HS teacher asked me to look at a particular student's computer because he caught him watching videos several times today. So I started running report in the iPrism box and started going through the list of websites and low and behold, the kid was watching/listening to christian/gospel videos and music.

Suprise, surprise, that kind of stuff scoots right trough our filter rule sets, allowing the student access all day.

But it got me thinking, this kid was wasting time watching videos and streaming music...does it matter that it was christian/gospel music? I don't think so. But I know it is going to be really challenging tweaking our filter rules so those types of sites are blocked just like the youtube and yahoo video sites (and the like) are blocked. We'll see how the rest of the week goes w/ this particular student.

Proving technology profeciency for NCLB

12/6/06

The deadline for reporting on 8th grade student and teacher technology proficiency is almost here. The feds are leaving it up to the states to determine what proficiency is and how it is measured and reported. In turn, the state is leaving it up to the individual district. This is how our district is going to measure proficience; with the IC3 test. We have licenses through a company HowToMaster where we can pre-test and then put people through prescriptive training on the areas they didn't maaster in the pre-test. This is all online and pretty straight forward. The actual IC3 tests cost $20 a piece, but we will be able to use Title IID funds to pay for the test fees.

We are saying that proficiency for 8th graders as well as staff is a passing score on all three IC3 tests. I think that is a pretty high bar, but one that educators should be at given the amount of technology that is in our district right now.

Packetshaping

12/5/06

Part of my job of being the technology director for WeAVE is making sure our Internet connection out of school is funtioning properly so our students can get the functionality they require.

Working w/ Bruce Thoren of Copper Mountain Consulting, who has a contract w/ Wyo to manage the WEN, we have been able to limit all iTunes, WinMedia, Quicktime, Real, and Gnutella traffic to only 56K of our 3 Mb pipe. That is awesome. I love it!!

He installed a Packeteer Packetshaper.

The packetshaper combined with our iPrism filtering appliance is giving us much more control over what type of traffic comes into and out of our network.

I love it!!

I figured out del.icio.us----finally

11/30/06

Well, I finally figured out how powerful del.icio.us really is. I maintain a website for the grant I run: www.wrrsi.org. We used to have a whole huge section on web resources that was a static list. It took me FOREVER to create and maintain. When we had our website re-done by Entheos (whom I highly recommend) I just never got around to updating the web resource page because I knew how time consuming it would be.

Since presenting for the K12 online conference I have been trying to figure out all of these Web 2.0 tools. I had created a delicious account right after the conference and had started using it infrequently.

But today when I sat down to tackle the resource page I figured I'd give this del.icio.us thing a try. It is really great. I was able to tag about 100 website in a few hours, bundle them according to themes, then publish them to my website w/ some nifty little javascript that del.icio.us writes that I just pasted into my code.

Here is the final result: http://www.wrrsi.org/resources.htm

My next step...replace my static math/science news page with a RSS feed aggregator. I haven't even started to work on figuring that out yet.

Studios as Classrooms?

11/26/06

I was just reading this post on the blog titled, Remote Access, where the author talks about how nice it would be if we could reconfigure classrooms to look and operate more like studios.

I think we do this to some degree w/ our HS lab. We have individual workstations for students that are their own to personalize. The teachers are located around the room at their own personal workstations. Kids are free to talk with other kids, but don't shout across the room. We could do better if we had a larger space and a few large meeting tables where students and teachers could gather in small groups.

Very interesting idea...

What is worth the effort?

Since presenting for the K12 Online Conference I have been viewing the different presentations on Web 2.0. I'm the technology director for our online high school and I'm trying to decide which of these tools would be best to try to integrate into our school. Which tool (del.icio.us, RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, wiki, etc...) will be the most effective verses the learning curve and time factor that it takes to PROPERLY implement.

I've started this blog, in part, to answer part of that question. I have also started using del.icio.us tags. These two "tools" seem to intimidate me the least.

We are having our first real professional development next week with our offsite and onsite teachers for the first time ever. There is so much to talk about and so much to do in such a short time. I'm looking at introducing the Impatica software(converts narrated PPTs into a small file that can be viewed over a slow internet connection) and perhaps podcasts. I don't think I"m comfortable enough with blogs and del.icio.us tags to throw that out to the group.

Derek's Blog--The End of Education

11/22/06

commentary from Derek on the same report I have been posting about: http://blog.core-ed.net/derek/2006/11/the_end_of_education.html

Solutions to "are they ready to work"

11/21/06

This is a quick summary of two solutions offered in an article in the newest Technology and Learning magazine I subscribe to, in regard to the report I linked to in the previous post.

  1. teach applied skills integrated with core academic subjects. (This screams "voc-ed" to me.)
  2. businesses have to partner with schools to produce students/workers with the necessary skills.
I would add a third solution of my own....schools (all schools, nation-wide) have to quit promoting college to the exclusion of work. There is a prevailing attitude that college is the only proper place for just graduated HS students. Students who don't want to go to college, have to support their family, want to work, etc... are made to feel that they are making a bad decision. When did we loose the notion that there is honor in work?

"Are they really ready to work?"

11/20/06

I read a summary of a new study called "Are They Really Ready to Work?" and I was not suprised by its findings.

I'm concerned with the high school graduate findings. It says that employers think that graduates entering the workforce need basic knowledge, (mainly comprised or reading, writing, and speaking in proper English, but also problem-solving and math) and the application of those basic skills to be good employees. It also says that most HS grads are "deficient" in these areas.

This doesn't suprise me one little bit. In the era of NCLB and testing, testing, testing; we are not giving our students the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom. We (education) only care about the test result whereas employers want workers who can apply thier knowledge to thier work. Vocational education is almost gone out of most public HSs either by direct funding cuts or by indirect testing policies.

We'll have to see if this improves in the future and it educators are willing to look at the results and do something about it.

How to improve our class.com courses

11/14/06

I have been thinking and working a lot lately with my colleagues on improving the class.com courses we buy for our online high school. We've come up with the following laundry list of things that need to be done:


  • create an audio recording of all the content, unit by unit, that students
    can listen to as a podcast and post it in the course

  • train teachers on how to create narrated powerpoints to explain difficult
    concepts to students.

    • what program should we purchase that allows those PPs to be converted
      to a smaller file size and in a variety of formats for easy downloading/streaming


  • train teachers to create screen capture demostrations for specific skills
    or tasks. I'm thinking of a teacher solving a math equation on a smartboard
    and capturing that process with audio instructions.

    • again, what program is best for creating small file sizes in a variety
      of formats



  • we need to re-write most of the exams that come with the classes. They are
    pretty bad.


So, the list I just outlined takes a tremendous amount of work. Are we going
to pay teachers extra for creating those resources, is it going to fall on the
shoulders of the tech person (me), how quickly does this need to be done, what
is top priority, and so on are just many of the questions that are running through
my mind.


We have a staff meeting tomorrow, and I'll see if I get any kind of answers
to my questions.

Free PowerPoint Template of the Day

This website has free PP templates for download. It is great for when you are so sick of what comes pre-installed with PP. There are also great tips and tricks.

A PowerPoint Blog: Textured 18: Free PowerPoint Template of the Day

Virtual High School Meanderings: Who Or What Are At-Risk Students?

11/13/06

Virtual High School Meanderings: Who Or What Are At-Risk Students?

I have been following this blog for a while and responded to MK's post on at-risk students.

The 5th Wave - Gallery

11/10/06

After a week of Internet problems, this better be the cause...

The 5th Wave - Gallery

You gotta love the Internet

11/9/06

I have been bombarded with computer problems this week.

  • bad cable to the router
  • bottleneck to the Internet by our service provider
  • screwy IE problems that don't seem to have any rhyme or reason
  • DNS errors with our email server
  • missing data off of servers
I can't tell if these problems are related or it is just a coincidence that they all happen at the same time.

Thanks god for Veteran's day tomorrow. School is closed, almost all staff will be gone and I can troubleshoot and test all of these problems without interruption.

I love working in a school!

11/7/06

I just spent all morning working on three different problems at once.

We have parent/teacher conferences tonight so I was checking out the report cards in our student data management system Web2School and found three HUGE problems. After a few phone calls and some changing of terms and other settings, all is well in the world of report cards.

I had to change the login name of one of our students, quick fix.

While on the phone w/ our network guy, we planned out how to let the business manager VPN into her work computer from her house. While in the business world, this may be pretty standard, it is not so in our little K-12 education world.

But my morning is the reason I love working for a school. There is a different kind of problem every day. You never get burnt out on one type of problem or task because there are so many.

Well, off to troubleshoot an issue with our Class.com content with a HS kid.

Maiden post from Wyo

11/6/06

Well, after recieving divine inspiration from the K12 Online Conference
this is my attempt at educational blogging. I really enjoyed conference. I was a presenter and quickly found out how little I know about Web 2.0 technologies. Just the amount of stuff I learned while creating and posting my presentation was pretty phenominal. I haven't even scratched the surface on the other presentations, but I intend to at least listen/watch them all. We'll see how many things I can implement.

I'll add to this blog as often as I remember.