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Cool Isn’t the Same as Educational
Recently I heard a discussion about
cool tools for schools [see “S’Cool
Tools,” L&L, November 2009, pages
12–15]. Someone mentioned a virtual
reality environment similar to Second
Life. His description began with, “You
can make the avatar walk up the steps
to the second floor, and you can make
the room look like your classroom.”
Another person mentioned Blabberize
and said, “You can upload a picture of
a president and have it talk about his
presidency.” Those were high school
teachers. My heart sank.
From now on, when I show someone a “cool tool,” I’m going to make
certain it matches closely to the
NETS•S and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. I want to be sure that the tool
raises the bar and is not just a temporarily fun distraction worthy only
of the attention of an elementary student. The tool must cause the student
to think. Making a president talk on
Blabberize or having an avatar walk
up a set of stairs is not an example of
the Create level in Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Ed Tech Consultant and PDE Mentor
Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, USA
Ahead of the Curve
The incredible possibilities outlined
by the authors of “The Democritiza-tion of Production” [L&L, November
2009, pages 36–37] for “personal
production” are indeed fascinating.
However, I suggest to all educators
that they need look no further than
down the hall to the technology education programs in any middle or
high school. Visit these labs and you
will likely find such systems already
integrated into the curriculum and
in daily use by students and teachers. Computer-aided design (CAD),
(CAM), and computer-aided publishing systems have long been a staple in
technology education curricula.
Our district introduced computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) lathes and
milling machines in the ’80s and more
recently have added the computer-controlled die cutters and 3D printers
the authors describe. Students from
one school can design a product and
send the file to another school, where
the product can be produced.
Technology Department Supervisor
West Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Ask for Permission
Based on one of the NETS•T standards, which state, “Advocate, model,
and teach safe, legal, and ethical use
of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright,
intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources,” I
have a concern about the tip “Turn
You Tube Videos into Teacher Tube
Videos” [L&L, December/January
2009–10, page 31]. The items posted
on You Tube are the intellectual property of the creator. I do not believe it
is ethical to “rip” the item from You-Tube and repost it on Teacher Tube. It
would be much easier to ask the creator for permission to use the video
to support teaching and learning, and
ask them to supply you with an original copy that will probably be much
better quality and will play locally on
Director of Technology
Orleans, Massachusetts, USA
Tip contributor David Ligon responds:
The referenced article presumes that teachers
have obtained the requisite approval from
the copyright owner before engaging in the
activity. My apologies for not stating that
point more clearly and focusing only on
the mechanical aspects.
Letters to Doug Johnson
With much interest, I just read your
article about Google’s latest attempt
to conquer the world—oops, sorry!
The article was about cloud computing, my bad! [See “Computing in
the Cloud,” L&L, December/January
2009–10, pages 16–20.] I use Google
Sites, Forms, and Docs and really like
their ease of use, flexibility, and price.
I believe the day is fast approaching
that schools will be sending all their
money to either Scholastic or Google.
On that day, we can sit around and
talk about the “good old days” when
we sat in class with 30–35 other students and listened to a teacher who
read from a textbook.
You’re a wonderful writer, Doug! I
really like your intellect and approach
to these issues.
Cottage Grove, Minnesota, USA
Enjoyed your recent article about
cloud computing. Currently Google
Docs is blocked for students in our
district, as filtering cannot take care of
Docs and we would be putting E-Rate
funding at risk. Not a direct quote, but
close: “Other K– 12 organizations use
Google Apps and haven’t yet got in
trouble. We can’t afford to lose funding.” I think the argument is that access to blogs come with Docs access.
Looks like Postini—and probably other third-party solutions—can provide
security and filtering. Most filtering
issues I see as supervision issues.
I see all of the pluses you do, including equity for students and families
that cannot currently afford MS Office
and other client apps.
Doug Johnson responds:
I don’t understand how GoogleApps puts
E-Rate funding at risk, as CIPA only calls
for blocking images that are “obscene, child
pornography, or harmful to minors.” Nothing about Apps is any of these things. You
can enable or disable any Apps feature to
students you choose.