Saturday, March 31, 2012

You are Prey - Educating Principals and Others about GoogleForms

Source: http://www.the-techbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Google-Privacy1.jpg



Original Blog Entry

Vicki "CoolCatTeacher" Davis recently wrote a blog post, Why Schools Shouldn't Use GoogleDocs for Anything Private, as well as responded via Facebook to this topic. I won't spend much time on the problem, except to say that you can go read her blog entry and comments.

A relevant story from my experience--I had a frantic principal call me up one day. She pointed out that she'd filled out a GoogleDoc Form online, submitting information that would be considered confidential and sensitive. She didn't know any better, and I moved immediately to notify Google and "turn in" the form's web address/URL so that action could be taken. Then, I spent some time "closing the barn door" educating her on what may be submitted online, what to watch out for from these types of forms you get via email, etc. These kinds of conversations obviously need to happen in advance. 

I've often heard we should "hold their hand" when discussing principals...that time is over. We need to hold their hand with a definite end-point in mind, with the clear understanding that you either own your learning or you are prey.

Without reservation, I wholeheartedly support the use of GoogleDocs and Forms in school settings. But let's remember FERPA, confidentiality, and to take responsibility for our own learning, as well as help others be better digital citizens.



Update (4/2/2012): Google sent me the following to share with you, asking for removal of the original item, citing confidential info.
Google is working to protect our users' privacy, especially from identity theft. It is not a violation to ask for an email address. While our protection policies occasionally classify some forms as abusing our TOS when they are not, no data is lost and through a review process we can return legitimate forms data to users who created the form. Within a domain, forms are not classified by Google at all.


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Friday, March 30, 2012

#iPad Reflection App...for Windows?


How old is the person who recorded the video above? It doesn't matter, right? Nifty!

A colleague recently told me that she was looking for the Reflection app, but for Windows...for Windows? In case you're not familiar with Reflection app for iPad, it allows you to mirror what's on your iOS device on your Mac computer. It describes itself in this way:

AirPlay mirror your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 to any Mac running OS X 10.6+, wirelessly.

But is there an equivalent solution for iOS devices and Windows computers? I'm not sure and can't try it out at the moment--I have no iPad to experiment at the moment (feel free to send me one with no strings attached)--although it certainly seems possible using  the following solution that requires "jailbreaking:"
Cydia's Veency: If you watch this video, (or this one) you'll be amazed at the possibility. It involves running Virtual Network Control (VNC) on your Windows computer and remotely controlling your iOS device. Unfortunately, it only works on jailbroken iOS devices...sigh. Detailed discussion here.
And, remember..."don't get scared" as it says in the video above.
:-)

Looking for other iPad app recommendations? Check this page. Have other devices? More app recommendations!


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MoodleRooms and BB - A Wonderful Relationship?


Having decided long ago not to invest in businesses that limit access to what you can do and nickle-and-dime you for services that you'd have if you hosted internally, I wasn't all that surprised to see Moodlerooms get bought by Blackboard. However, I was curious to see how they handled sharing the information with their customers.

After all, when something like that happens, how can you ensure that you reassure customers and communicate information in a way that ensures they'll continue to be customers, as well as your advocates for the future?

Here's how MoodleRooms and Blackboard chose to let their customers know...did they go far enough?

Click image to enlarge....

Here's the video:








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When #Leadership Fails - Up to the Challenge?

Source: http://goo.gl/Ou04j


Have you ever been around when leadership fails? The feeling can be summed up as frustration that takes the wind out of anything you're doing or planned to do. Suddenly, when leadership isn't maintaining agreements, it's like the floor has dropped out from underneath you.
The resultant frustration, confusion and disarray constitute fertile breeding grounds for the withdrawal of energies. . .Personal energies are a kind of institutional capital. Their withdrawal [leaves] schools bankrupt. In withdrawing their loyalty from [the leader], the staff lost the sense of identification with their leader, a significant component, albeit one taken for granted, of their relationships with prior [leadership]. Instead of nurturing and concerting the energies that were available throughout the [organization], [the leader's] policies undermine the cooperation of associates and constituents. 
(Source: adapted from a quote appearing in When Leadership Fails by Doris Fine)
Since I've been reading several leadership books, I thought I'd describe this scenario as one taking place in business. How hard can it be?
;-)

What process does your organization/business have in place for resolving this kind of scenario?

Scenario:

"Hey, Jack," Ann began, "I just don't know what the CTO, our boss, is thinking anymore."
"What do you mean?" Jack responded, curious and intrigued by such a novel statement (NOT!). 
"You know that procedure we put in place requiring prior approval from all the technology department heads before the Marketing Department buys a new system? The whole procedure that protects everyone--not just the Tech Dept but Marketing--from spending money on half-baked system that can't integrate into our current systems?"

"Yeah," Jack replied, "we spent the whole leadership retreat on that process. What, you mean Susan isn't following it?"
"Well, here's what happened." said Ann despondently. "John in Marketing called me up all excited about this new program he wanted to buy that every one is going to use. But he can't get it approved because he has to get past this procedure. I told him I'd check into it. Well, I had the account management folks take a look, and as I suspected, there were serious problems that fell into the non-negotiables we had agreed upon at the Leadership Retreat. No automated account management! Can you imagine creating accounts for a few thousand, highly mobile, constantly changing customers BY HAND?"

"Hey," Jack smiled, "no need to yell! I can understand how you are frustrated, though."
"Not only that," Ann fired back now that her blood pressure was up, "I even checked with the vendor. There's no way they can get their system up to our standards--standards we put in place for a reason--so no use wasting our time. I took the findings to Ross, Susan's second in command, hoping he could talk sense to Susan, but the next thing, I get a phone call from John...and I find out that Susan's approved the project! Why does she keep doing this to all of us?"

"What did Ross say to this latest development, the approval?" inquired John.
"Nothing! He was flabbergasted! Get this--he didn't know Susan had approved the project, even though Ross had briefed her about it! And, when I went to try and talk to Susan, she told me to work through Ross!"

"This is the same thing that has happened before! Makes you wonder why we bother, doesn't it? Why have the procedure in place if the person who should champion it doesn't believe in it?"

Solution?
Is this a common problem in your organization? What happens when the leadership gets away with doing what they want, casting aside what you have all agreed to do and telling no one about the decision. If you worked in this type of organization, you might hear someone say, "The only reason staff are kept around is to justify the boss' salary...the more people you supervise, the more money you make!"

Ouch!

So how do you suppose we might approach this kind of issue? Obviously, running it up the chain of command doesn't work. When Ann tried to get to Susan directly, Susan used Ross as a buffer or blocker to avoid discussing the issue.

While I have a possible approach in mind, I'd love to hear what YOU would do if you were "in their shoes." 

How would you handle this kind of boss from...
  1. Ann's perspective - She's responsible for approving/disapproving new services/programs from a technology POV. Even though she has valid reasons, she's been over-ruled with no real reasons given.
  2. Ross' perspective - As Ann's supervisor, and Susan's right-hand person, he should know and be able to support what decisions Susan (CTO) makes, but he's kept in the dark about decisions until AFTER they become public.
  3. John's perspective - As Marketing Vice-President, he wants to implement a program that just doesn't have the technology horsepower to get the job done, but he's fascinated by the idea of the program. He relies on the Technology Department to tell him what will work or won't.
  4. Outside Consultant - As the outside consultant, how would you coach or get this errant CTO and frustrated team working better together?
I'll share my thoughts later after I've had time to reflect. In the meantime, please link from your blog what YOUR response would be! I am especially interested in reading what the leadership gurus who are now following me on Twitter, as well as school leaders, would do to resolve this.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#iPad Palooza

Into iPads in Schools? 

You may want to attend the iPadPalooza!
Westlake HS and TCEA are hosting their first iPadpalooza on June 19, 2012 at Westlake HS in Austin. 
It'll be a day of creativity and learning about iPad uses, apps, and more.   A call for presenters has been issued on the website athttp://www.ipadpalooza.com.  And registration is cheap, especially for TCEA members ($25 and $50 for non-members).   Meals provided!   So come down, or spread the word!  We look forward to your presentations and to seeing you there! 
If you are interested in presenting or have questions, feel free to email cfoote@eanesisd.net.   
Carolyn FooteWestlake High School LibraryEanes ISDAustinhttp://www.whslibrary.edublogs.org

Hmm...I wonder if I can tear away to attend this!?



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5 Facts About Your New #iPad 3rd Generation

Source: http://theimod.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/new-ipad-unboxed.jpg
No matter what the technology and how perfect people say it is, there are problems with it. After all, it's the nature of machines to reflect the imperfections of their makers. As I sit back and wait for my 3rd generation iPad to arrive, I'm more sensitive to the stories of imperfection about it. My reaction is a normal one--"Should I return the iPad 3 and trade it in for an iPad 2?"


The funny thing is, the more secure a company is in its product, the braver and more forthcoming it should be in fixing it. Of course, that's like expecting the CEO of a company to say, "We have some problems...and we need to fix them." It's a desirable trait, but not always perceived as necessary. It's easier to just "smooth things over," to keep silent until the issue can be resolved or until the last possible moment.

What are some of these facts that Apple maybe never publicized or hasn't been as forthcoming as we'd like as consumers? (Feel free to point out if that perspective is inaccurate!)
  1. iPad's battery gauge is inaccurately saying it's at 100% charge when another hour is needed. (Read source and this one). Furthermore, old charging cables may not do the job they did with the iPad 2 (Source). A possible solution? Get Battery Tune LT (no cost) to help gauge battery charge.
  2. iPad burns hot, as hot as 116 degrees. (Read source)
  3. Old iPad2 apps will appear pixelated on the iPad 3 because they aren't built for retinal display, and will dramatically increase in size. If they don't, non-3rd Generation iPad apps will appear pixelated. (Source: MacWorld)
  4. iPad 3 storage won't go as far as previous iPads because the retinal display optimized apps will be bigger. That means, you'll want to buy a larger size iPad 3rd generation. (Source: MacWorld)
  5. WiFi problems have been reported for the iPad 3rd generation (Source and another one)
Of course, it's probably an exaggeration to say you were never told these facts! The information has been out there for quite awhile. It would be more accurate to say, *I* didn't know about them until recently.

Would they have changed my decision to get an iPad 3rd generation? Not really. None of these are necessarily show-stoppers, or, at least, problems that will remain beyond a firmware update (except the battery burning hot, but I've had many a laptop that burned hot!).


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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Universal Power of Parents

Source: http://goo.gl/bHs47

Having attended Catholic schools from K-12 (well, that time I attended public school kindergarten and walked out because I didn't want to sit on the floor doesn't count, right?), taught in Catholic school for my first teaching job, I appreciate the power of parents to get involved. 

Both as a child and a young teacher, I remember nuns and their power. I still remember Sr. Finbarr starting the staff meeting with a prayer. Where else can you start a faculty meeting with a prayer that takes the starch out of selfish bickering? Wow, that just puts it all into context. 

In case you haven't attended Catholic school--yes, there are nuns with rulers but happily, only one in 12 years who thought to animate the stereotype, in my experience--parents provide quite a bit of the funding.

This can sometimes lead to inequities in treatment...for example, rich guy usually wins most of the arguments, gets deferential treatment, etc. I've seen it time and again. In fact, I often wonder that nuns didn't use rulers (or yardsticks) on parents more than their children! Although I have less contact with Catholic schools now that I work in public schools, I have to confess that I miss joking with those wonderful ladies that taught me fairness and to look for humor in unexpected places. Of course, it's not all sweet petals...there are thorns, too.

What brought on this rambling, reminiscing of Catholic school education? The idea that budget cuts are bringing our public schools more in line with private schools...not the rich, charter ones, but the poor Catholic ones. Did you know that "catholic" means "universal?" Yes, universal.  Consider this plurk:
hisheets says Must say that our PTA is the most awesome community! They continue to supplement what the district can no longer afford to do
PTA is becoming the universal "school care" of public education. Is there something wrong, or right, with that?


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Missed Opportunity for Learning Conversation


"El pez muere por la boca," a Spanish saying my Mom was fond of quoting. Ironic since I'm a blogger and writing gives one the ability to "speak truth to power" and a voice to the disempowered...keeping your mouth shut is what you should NOT do when suffering injustice.

If you've ever wondered about what speaking up can do, consider Global Voices Online, "an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world." Still, can we compare the reporting of Global Voice Online with the high school student that appears further down in this blog entry?

If there's one thing my family knows about me, it's that I abhor obscenities, foul language, and don't believe that ANY situation is enough to result in the loss of control exhibited by a curse word. Of course, as a wordsmith, I recognize that the F-word has certain value in fiction, film and elsewhere.

That said, I don't support the actions of the school district that expelled a senior high school student because he tweeted the following:
 "F*** is one of those F****** words you can F****** put anywhere in a F****** sentence and it still F****** makes sense."
Unbelievable. Expelled for tweeting this at 2:42 AM on his own computer and Twitter account. Maybe there is more to the story, but we need to ask, "Is this really what the school should be doing? Patrolling the vast ocean of tweets to find offensive ones from students?"

And, did the school even have the right to expel? Referring to my copy of The School Leader's Guide to Social Media...here's an excerpt from page 31:
There are 4 tests that courts often use to decide whether or not a school can restrict student speech. They are:
  • Tinker Test: This test generally permits schools to restrict speech that is likely to cause a "substantial disruption or material interference with school activities" or "invasion of the rights of others" (Tinker v. De Moines, 1969)
  • Fraser Test: School may also restrict speech that is "sexually explicit, indecent or lewd" and no disruption must be shown. (Bethel School District v. Fraser, 1986).
  • Morse Test: Schools can regulate speech that "can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use." (Morse v. Frederick, 2007)
  • Hazelwood Test: Schools can restrict "school sponsored" speech that is inconsistent with the school's basic educational mission, particularly if it is part of the curriculum or supervised by a faculty member (Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988).
I hadn't heard of Fraser Test. Based on the information available, it doesn't appear that the high school student causes a substantial disruption at school or serious harm, or encouraged illegal drug use. This also wasn't school sponsored speech. Am I wrong? Does the school have any legal basis for expelling the student? Didn't they just set themselves up for a lawsuit they will have to settle out of court (woohoo! college is paid for!)?


Imagine if instead of expelling the student, this had turned into a learning conversation?





Here's a presentation I gave to school staff on "managing your digital footprint."


Managing Your Digital Footprint 

 


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#Moodle Rooms Absorbed by @Blackboard


Stolen from Facebook, but not sure how to cite this.


What a stunner! Blackboard, which ranks up there with the evil empire, is swallowing two Moodle Partners.
Blackboard, the maker of learning and education software for enterprises and schools, has acquired Moodlerooms and NetSpot, two providers of open source online learning technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Both companies provide learning management hosting, support, and consulting services and products to clients using open source systems. NetSpot is also a reseller and service provider for Blackboard Collaborate. Moodlerooms primarily serves clients in North America, while NetSpot serves a client base in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. (Source: TechCrunch)
What will this mean for Moodle? Probably nothing. It may be that Blackboard is trying to cash in on Moodle and rejoin the course management system/learning management system (CMS/LMS) community. I doubt they will "embrace and extinguish" but even if they do, Moodle is a community of developers.

Given news articles like the one below--which erroneously says Blackboard is being replaced with Moodlerooms (rather than Moodle CMS)--it's fun to see what will happen:
As the new semester rolls in, students and faculty alike are making the switch from Blackboard to Moodlerooms, a program that allows professors to put course materials and lessons online.
Moodlerooms is still a mystery to many students and teachers, who are now asking how they will make the transition.
“I want to advise students that Moodlerooms is nothing to be afraid of,” said Mary Johnson, online learning faculty coordinator and professor of computer information systems.  Johnson taught a course with Moodlerooms over the winter 2012 session.
“At the end of the course session, I did a survey and found that most students preferred Moodlerooms to Blackboard. Students see it as more user-friendly and easier to navigate.” Harmon Huynh, 22, cognitive science major, agreed. (Read source)
What do you think Blackboard's motives are for acquiring two Moodle Partners?

Update: Follow-up post here.

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Surrendering to the #iPad - Must Have Apps

In this blog entry, you'll read about my surrender to the iPad, as well as have the chance to peruse some of my "must-have" apps for the iPad.  Note: I won't be updating this page with must-have apps, so you'll want to visit or bookmark this one--"must-have" apps for the iPad.





If you haven't watched the video embedded above, you need to. It's school leadership being humorous!


I have a confession to make. Last night, I invested in an iPad (3rd generation; 64gig; WiFi...you see, I followed my own advice about storage) and Apple TV (and plan to purchase a Logitech Zagg keyboard when my budget recovers). After months of experimenting with the iPad, waiting for the 3rd gen version of the device to show up, pushing back against the wild ravings of iPad fanatics, I decided that the iPad is a "force of nature," unstoppable and transforming our society and culture.

Enthusiasm for the use of digital media in education stems from a number of very different places...It can stem from a belief that schools need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change in the modern world to remain relevant to students’ lives outside school or because digital media makes study more effective. It can reflect a desire to equip young people with the skills to participate in new media networks, or to defend themselves against pervasive and potentially harmful media messages.....
Whatever the reasons behind enthusiasm for using digital media in education, it can quickly turn to frustration at what can seem to be a distinct lack of progress in mainstream classrooms. Schools routinely block social media sites, games are derided as a waste of time, students' personal media devices are banned and they are forbidden inside school walls to make use of the networks they routinely draw on otherwise. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and lots of schools and teachers are engaged in imaginative use of digital media. (Read more of this excellent article, The Role of Tech vs The Purpose of Education)
As you know, any force that causes societal change ends up in schools. As a result, I can't just imagine using such a personal device like the iPad ONLY at work and locked down so it's impersonal...it has to be a device that you live cheek and jowl with. Perhaps, the tipping point argument was Patrick Larkin's quote, which I share in this blog post. I was also deeply moved by this video featuring Special Education students:




It's important--or maybe, it's not--to note that I still disagree with the way Apple does things, such as:
  • Proprietary, closed system
  • Difficult to load your own content onto the iPad unless you use their programs (e.g. iTunes)
  • Their poor tools for mobile device management.
Over the last few months, we've seen some progress. If you asked me now, which device is better for schools, Android or iPad, the answer is unequivocally, iPad. Do I think netbooks running linux a better investment than iPads? Yes, I still do, but the problem is, most people don't seem to want to do anything that netbooks allow you to do...iPads ease of use makes it a device that's been embraced by children, elderly alike, as well as everyone in between.
Aside: Read the series on iPads, mobile device management....
I still plan to run Linux on my desktops and laptops, but...for now, I admit that I've capitulated to the powerful forces that influence change in schools. The Apple TV also is a game-changer for sharing iPad screens with others.


Apple TV Aside: You will want to read these blog entries on the subject as well:



In the meantime, I have big plans for my iPad. I'll be giving a keynote later this summer, and I hope to facilitate the entire preso from my iPad rather than my 2007 Macbook. Some of the apps I plan to purchase and/or install include the following...you might say, they are my "must-have" apps:
  1. EverNote (no cost) - This is the best app on the iPad, IMHO, with its note-taking capabilities that include still images, audio and more. I simply love this app. If I find out that upgrading will result in saving EverNote content to my iPad for offline viewing, then I will happily pay for it.
  2. Web Browsers -
    1. Puffin Free (no cost) - A browser that allows you to watch Flash video content on iPad. I use this app when accessing GoogleDocs since it works so well.
    2. iCabMobile ($1.99) - A full-featured browser for the iPad that surpasses Safari. You may want to read this review of browsers for iPad. You can also use iCabMobile to save videos onto your iPad!
  3. Dragon Dictation (no cost) - This is an app I really didn't pay attention to until I watched the video above.
  4. iLife Apps - iPhoto ($4.99), iMovie ($4.99), and Garageband ($4.99) are all tools I've used to some degree or another. I'll be embracing these as tools to create with on the iPad.
  5. iWorks Apps - Keynote ($9.99), Pages ($9.99), Numbers ($9.99). I'll probably start slow with these apps, but Keynote is at the top of my list.
  6. iTunesU - Lots of great content available for free here, as well as other stuff!
  7. GoodReader ($4.99)- Everyone brags about how great this app is for PDF manipulation, so I'm looking forward to this.
  8. Cloud Storage Solutions - You may not believe it, but I use all 3 of these:
    1. Box (no cost) - 50 gigs of free storage, 25 meg upload limit per file. Great for sharing!
    2. Dropbox (no cost) - Check out this Dropbox cheat sheet (or quick ref guide!)
    3. SugarSync (no cost) - an easy way to access videos from your iPad and not have to use iTunes to get them on the iPad!
  9. Social Media Tools (all no cost)- 
    1. Twitter
    2. Facebook
    3. Flipboard
  10. Screen Capture - Essentially, narrate/annotate tools for your iPad screen capture.
    1. ScreenChomp (no cost)
    2. Explain Everything ($2.99)
  11. Kabaam ($.99)- "Tell creative stories in a matter of minutes! Kabaam creates & publishes your own comics with just a few taps. "
  12. eBook Reading Software
    1. Nook (no cost) - Since I own a few Nook books, and the Nook reader serves as an ebook reader, this is a nice one to have.
    2. Amazon Kindle  (no cost) - I don't currently own any books on Amazon for myself, but plan to in the future.
  13. Printing from iPad Apps
    1. Print-n-Share ($8.99) - This seems like the best app solution you can get, enabling printing on Airprint and non-Airprint printers. With this app installed, you can Print to ALL printers (Not just AirPrint Printers) as well as print direct to most WiFi/Wireless printers without extra software.  The same vendor makes PrintCentral, also reputed to do the same thing.
  14. Online Video Content
    1. Netflix (no cost) - Since I'm an avid Netflix subscriber, this will come in very handy!
    2. Considering these video apps for streaming video to Apple TV, but...
  15. Onlive Desktop (free or $5 monthly fee) - Run Windows on your iPad via the cloud. Although there are reports it's illegal, I bet it will endure.
  16. Reflection - Mirror your iPad/iOS device to your computer using this app. There's a nice review shown here. Lots of possibilities for this tool!
Other apps that aren't must-have's but worth exploring:
  1. iPad as Interactive Whiteboard - While I confess I don't like the idea of IWBs, if you're already spending money on an iPad and an Apple TV, then you might as well consider one of these two apps.
    1. Doceri (no cost) - Although the app is free, you have to pay for the desktop software that installs on your computer.
    2. SplashTop ($5.49)
Of course, figure out the total cost of all the apps....$55.90. Ah, free open source, I miss you already.

One of my main complaints about the iPad was that it didn't offer support for Scratch programming from MIT...however, there are other solutions out there, such as the ones outlined in this blog entry--6 Awesome Code Editors for iPad.


Another neat challenge is how to collect data via forms. You may recall I explored various tools in this blog entry, 4 Choices for Creating and Filling Out Forms on Your iPad.

Many of the best apps in life are free...check out this list from TCEA/McAllen ISD. And, 40 best iPad apps for Young Learners.

Some resources worth spending a few hours on:



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure