Ecosystems and Widgets

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

The term ecosystem is normally used in reference to biological communities. When people think about ecosystems they often visualize the different organisms and activities that coexist to maintain a balance of sustainable life.

As human beings, we model from what we know. When creating new things, humans often start with a single widget[1], and then expand until there is a system of widgets all interacting.

Thus, the cycle of widgets evolves. Some last for many years, others have a short-term existence. Popularity often determines the life span of a technology widget.

Awareness

Schools using technology have an ecosystem of widgets. Very few people in a school seem to have a complete understanding of how all these widgets come together to form the web communication and processing which is essential for the day-to-day success of school life.

Unlike the biological complexity in a square meter of a rice paddy, the edtech ecosystem is a knowable system. It is a system everyone can learn, can discuss, and can protect.

Read More at The International Educator

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My Summer with the Surface Pro 4

By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I rarely do hardware or software reviews. Patrick Cauley, here at IT Babble, is much better at those. However, I did swap my Apple Macbook Retina for a Surface Pro 4 for the summer. After the use and abuse, I can make a firm recommendation for schools thinking about buying these in bulk: Don’t Do It.

I hate saying that. I actually love/d using this machine. It is flexible, and should be the answer to many issues found in the day-to-day life of teachers and students. The model I had, had 4 GB of memory, and 128 GB solid state drive. I also had the keyboard and pen.

Daily performance was great. I had adequate battery life. The speed was good. The pen was extremely useful for me during a two week course I completed. I added a trial of Acrobat Pro, and the combo was outstanding.

I traveled alot. The Surface is so light, you don’t even realise you have it. The hybrid format is awesome from reading portrait style on the Kindle App. In hotel rooms with “smart TVs”, the surface can wirelessly project itself and stream audio. In a classroom, this feature means no wires for doing presentations. Imagine an iPad that actually does something real without 10 apps working in concert.

The Surface used the thunderbolt display, the same as Apple, so my Apple accessories worked seamlessly.

I have an iPad, and I feel the Surface has the same touch responsiveness as the iPad.

So why cannot I not recommend it? After 8 weeks of daily use, the Surface broke. The screen cracked from the inside out. The damage was very strange, and the final cause was attributed to me laying a book on the back cover of the surface. Just a normal book, not a full sized Oxford dictionary. This was a standard item anyone would have on a desk, and possibly place on top of their laptop when packing-up their bag.

The front glass and frame are fairly durable. I know, I dropped it several times. The back, however, is literally a thin [EDIT]thin flexible material shell[EDIT] with nothing to absorb shock or weight. The pressure from the book, and possibly the two items being picked-up at the same time, cracked the screen.

In a school, laptops and devices need to be able to handle the wear and tear of life for at least three years, and unfortunately, I do not think the Surface Pro 4 can make the cut.

As a personal device, I would recommend it. I am tough on equipment due to my rugged life as a commuter in Shanghai. People with a normal transportation plan, and a life void of pushing and shoving, would probably keep a Surface healthy for many years.

EDIT: I used the word “plastic”, but the material is not plastic. However, it is flexible and lacking a decent buffer between the back and the screen.

Posted in Educational Technology, Helpful Tips, Instructional Technology, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Software in a Suitcase vs The Learner Profile

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

The Problem

Curriculum in a Suitcase, this is a common term and point of discussion in international schools. For anyone not familiar with the reference, it addresses the common practice of teachers arriving at a new school and bringing with them a curriculum they are comfortable delivering.

The current practice around curriculum planning and mapping is to avoid this practice. A school should have a curriculum that students and families can depend on, regardless of the staffing.

In Educational Technology there is similar practice known as Software in a Suitcase.Using the word software is being simplistic. Software, subscriptions, services, and even computer brands and operating systems are included.When teachers move from one school to another, they often try to avoid the new school’s technology plan, and attempt to implement an ad-hoc technology plan they are familiar with.

Technology plans can be flexible, but if a school is a Windows 10 Tablet school, or if they are using PowerSchool, those core structural pieces are not flexible. In fact, they are required from the first day. Usage is not negotiable.

Read More at The International Educator

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How Dirty is Your Data?

Data-Cleaning

By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

My basic rule for data is, unless there is a life and death scenario unfolding, bad or unclean data is not going to be used. I have yet to encounter a situation where releasing data, which will eventually wreak havoc throughout the school, is an essential and lifesaving endeavor. Delaying systems access due to data issues is difficult. Even the smallest of systems have vocal advocates who will passionately state the damage being done to learning for every day a system is offline.

The best way to exist in a data-driven environment is to be prepared. Being prepared means being aware. Awareness comes from a regular, I would argue monthly, check of all core databases and having policies and procedures for correcting problems.

The real question is this: how does someone not involved in direct data management, check data? And how does someone who is an end user of data set policies to protect the data they need?

Read More…

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Problem Solving with Technology: A List of Topics and Standards

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Core Concepts and Definitions

Digital Native is a term that refers to children who have been born after the advent of the modern personal computer and affordable personal laptop. There is a belief that these children have a very high aptitude with technology. This curriculum plan completely disagrees with this belief and reaffirms that all children need a solid foundation in problem solving in, and creating with, technology. The normal life of the average Digital Native is one of a consumer and user of things others have created.

Read More @The International Educator

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A CONTINUUM OF LEARNING

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

School administrators are often faced with complex decisions about curriculum, assessment, and the oversight of both. There is a myopic condition that can occur as conversations lead people into a spiral of good intentions full of false understanding. This condition is the belief that learning is a one-to-one relationship, and that content is related to a course or single field of study. The truth is learning, real learning, is a one-to-many relationship where content can connect to an unpredictable number of areas if it is allowed to develop organically and time as a constant is removed.

Understanding One-to-Many Relationships

A one-to-many relationship is often used in database development.

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Posted in Instructional Technology, Learning 2.011, Tech Integration, TIEONLINE, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding The Cloud

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Cloud computing is one of the most difficult concepts to explain to people who spend most of their time working with children, running a school, and monitoring educational processes. Cloud computing is difficult to explain because it is imbued with industry jargon and misleading sales language, and when most people think about it, the concept is odd. After all, if cloud computing is fairly new, and the Internet is not new, then what were people doing before? How were they working? Why did anyone need, or want, to switch from one way of working to another?

Read More Here @ The International Educator.

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Are You Ready for VR in the Classroom?

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Virtual Reality (VR), has changed more in the last year than it has in the last decade. The cost of using VR, and the various solutions, are prompting many people to start piloting VR applications in the classroom. Many of these VR concepts are actually AR, or Augmented Reality, concepts.

Here are a few recent updates everyone should read regarding VR. 

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Measurement in the Change Process

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, brokering and solutions company. They did an extensive study on change management. In the study they state immediately and without hesitation, … Continue reading

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Episode 130 – Gboard

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Tim, Tony and Patrick talk about the new Gboard iOS keyboard, Chrome and virtual reality and the 20% project. Check out the show notes below.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes and Podomatic or subscribe to us with your favorite podcasting app on your phone or tablet.

Gboard
a. Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gboard-search.-gifs.-emojis/id1091700242?mt=8

Google SketchUp
a. How can you help Tim set up a class for next year that includes 3D printing?
b. Worth getting the Educators License/Pro.

Chrome wants VR Content in its browser,
a. Link: http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2016/05/chrome-browser-vr-content-90-fps/
b. Targets 90fps rendering

School lets kids spend 20% of their time on anything that want.
a. Link: http://www.techinsider.io/york-school-lets-kids-spend-20-on-anything-they-want-2016-5
b. http://www.20time.org/

You can download the MP3 file HERE!

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