Sunday, January 29, 2012

EduGAINS - Ministry Support for Ontario Teachers

On the advice of Doug Sadler, I have decided to post highlites from
ENTRY POINTS, the newsletter that supports Digital Learning in the
Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

The first of these posts is about the EduGAINS website
* Please click to access this 2-page document Enjoy




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Exciting Possibilities with E-Books

Windsor Star
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board was in the news in Saturday's Windsor Star and other local media Monday when they discussed their plans to use electronic textbooks as way to support student learning with technology.  St.Christopher Catholic Grade School was the site selected to demonstrate the new iBooks 2 app among others.  Grade 6 students were working in the school's 21st Century Learning Environment and helped demonstrate how they use iPads in there school. There are many pilot projects like this one all over the board with new ones starting all the time.

These new E-Books offer improved learning opportunities by bundling interactive components as well as text.  Students can interact with E-Books through audio, video, and physical actions such as moving the ipad in different directions or even blowing into it to make wind.  Coupled with the board's WiFi installations across the board these opportunities and projects have become a reality.




Cross Post from the SADBLOG 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Sad Truth About Your Beloved Electronic Device

Have you ever heard of Foxconn? Probably not. But, as it turns out, everyone of us probably has several devices that was manufactured at one of their three factories. These factories are less like a factory than  a city. They are that big. Said to employ well over 500,000 workers, they produce products for Apple, Dell, Toshiba etc etc. Most major brands have their products built there.

That's not the story though. Yes it's pretty amazing, logistically speaking, that all of that gets done but its the way it gets done that is the story. As seen in this Huffington Post article, the working conditions are appalling. The way the workers are treated is one of the subjects of a one man show in New York by Mike Daisey called "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs". In it he talks of how he went undercover to talk to workers at Foxconn. A special version of part of the show was created especially for NPR's This American Life. The entire one hour program can be heard below.

And although we can't be sure that it was because of Mike Daisey or this report from the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), Apple has started to look into some of the allegations.

Even The Daily Show with John Stewart has commented on it as you can see about 1:30 into this clip from Monday Jan, 16th's show (here is the clip from the US feed on Comedy Central).

I don't know what we can do about this sort of thing but I guess knowing about it is the first step.

Epilogue: as it turns out not everything that Matt Daisey said has turned out to be true. This American Life's latest episode is a retraction pertaining to recent findings about some fabrications made. Here's the transcript and below is the audio.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

iBooks 2 - The Future of Textbooks?

Announced today at New York's Guggenheim Museum, iBooks 2. According to the article seen here from CNET, this will give a "new textbook experience". Some of the interactive features included:

"text with embedded movies..."rich, engaging" layouts...portrait/landscape mode switches for more or fewer graphics....the ability to tap on words for definitions...searching for keywords throughout a text...review questions with immediate feedback...highlighting with your finger...pop-up spaces for note taking...instant study cards. "

Major publishers already have books available, however not for Canadian books yet. But if you want to try one out now, you can download "Life On Earth" for free (for a limited time)



Not to worry though, you can create your own with iBooks Author. This is a free App that lets you create your own eTextbooks from Word files, images, video and widgets. Note, however, this is a Mac only APP and you need to be running OS X 10.7 or higher to use it. But if you are adventurous, you can hack your Mac and trick it into thinking its running Lion. See the steps here. I tried it and it does work but it wasn't as easy as it indicated. Try it at your own risk.

And if that wasn't enough for you, there has also been a lot of talk on the state of the rights you give up to your created iBooks to Apple. Basically, if you want to charge any money for them, then Apple gets a 30% cut. By far the funniest response to this came from Microsoft’s lead of Corporate Communications Frank X. Shaw via Twitter as mentioned here. My favourite comment: "If you write a novel in Word, we promise not to take a 30% cut"

Happy swiping!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is this You?

I think I saw myself in both the presenter and audience (and maybe the computer tech) on this one.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Attend MIT for Free

Now that I have your attention let me say that the title is a bit of a misnomer. As it turns out MIT will be starting a new online program in 2012 called MITx. Now that in itself is nothing too exciting. Just about every university has some sort of online program. So what is special about this one. Well this is what MIT says:

  • organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.
That is all very well and good but still what's the big deal, you say? Well, it's FREE. That's right, you, your neighbour, mom, sister, pastor, mechanic and any other acquaintance you have can take an MIT online course for FREE. Have I mentioned that it's FREE?

So, what's the catch you say? Well, the catch is that you can take any course for free and take as long as you want but in the end you don't get any credentials. However, students who demonstrate mastery of any particular set of course material can receive a certificate of completion for a "modest fee".

So no good, right? Actually I think this is true open source. For someone who is highly motivated, you can get a top level education for nothing. Lets face, it. A university degree is only worth the amount of work you put into it. The paper really isn't worth much. And many more businesses are in the habit of rewarding actual ability and not paper credentials. This could be the great equalizer. Free post secondary education for everyone. Vive la revolution!.

For more info here is the MIT announcement and FAQ page as well as the NY Times article about it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Copying Content Between Prezis

Many times when you are making a prezi, you would like to combine content from different prezis. This is easily done using keyboard shortcuts, but you will have to open two different browsers to accomplish this. Step #1 - Open up the prezi that will be the combination of content from other prezis in your preferred browser (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari)
Step #2 - Open a second prezi in a different browser... yes, you may access your online account in 2 different 'places'.
Step #3 - Choose the 'stuff' you would like to copy, press ctrl+C to copy it to your clipboard.
Step #4 - Go back to the first prezi and paste it in - ctrl+V.

A few notes:
  • You may select several 'objects' at once by holing the shift key and then clicking on different items

  • The formatting of the content that is copied and pasted will be changed to the theme of whatever prezi you are working in

  • Although there is an automated SAVE feature, I suggest you SAVE after each 'paste' to assure that you are not losing anything

Visit http://www.prezi.com/ for more details