application, Computers, Google

Pacman Comes to Windsor


Or a town near your browser…

You can always count on Google for a good gag for April Fool’s Day.

Just in time for this year’s big day, swing on over to Google Maps and look for the new button in the bottom left of the screen.

If you’re located in a place with a lot of streets, you’re ready to go.

Or, move the map to somewhere where there are a lot of streets or you just might feel lucky.

Ready … Set … Go!

And you’re off!  Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate the streets and keep them clean of the ghosts!

Computers, Education, Read/Write Web, Teaching

What Connected Means To Me


Over the past little bit, I read three different blog posts about being a connected educator.  They’re all good for a thoughtful read.

The last article by Mark Barnes is definitely the bluntest of the bunch.  The common thread through the three of them though is the message that being connected is good.  I find it difficult to argue against that.  The counter argument is often that “I’ve been teaching for ## years and I’m doing fine, thank you.  I get my news from the newspaper and I know how to Google stuff.”

When it comes time for a job interview, these folks will walk in with their paper portfolio and lay out their learning experiences and accomplishments.  They’ll walk away scratching their heads when they lose the competition to someone with a digital portfolio and powerful online presence.

This past weekend, I was in two shopping malls in Windsor just looking around and my observations really were startling.  If you know Windsor, I went through the Tecumseh Mall and the Devonshire Mall.  As a people watcher, I always get a kick from walking through the food courts to see what’s popular and how many people just naturally gravitate there.  Once a place to eat, it’s now more of a place to meet.

But not necessarily with the people at your table.

Phones are constantly out and people doing whatever they might be doing.  I looked around and didn’t see a newspaper in site.  I took a peek into the local Chapters store at the lounge area there.  Again, no newspapers but lots of devices.

I would hazard a guess that most of the activity involved social media.  I was one of them for a few minutes while I had a coffee.  Even for those 10-15 minutes, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that I actually did a bit of learning with some of the content my friends were sharing.

Such is the beast of the connected educator, at whatever level you may be connected.  But it’s important to recognize that we’re not all the same.

On the drive home, I was also thinking of how learning used to be.

We had a professional learning fund and were allowed to apply once every two years to a maximum of ### dollars.  We had a professional library in my department and our school library had a section devoted to staff development.  I used to buy my own books and chose to afford one or two a year.  The board put on a PD Day once or twice a year to lay out their vision of the laid on initiatives from the Ministry of Education.  That was pretty much it.

Flip forward to today.

Connected to the right sources gives me all kinds of diverse reading in the morning with coffee in hand.   When needed at any time, I can get a learning fix by sitting down at a computer and seeing what’s going on in my network.  If I have a problem or want some input, I can toss out the query via blog post or just into the Twitter Tsunami and people far more insightful than me will have the answer.  Every now and again, I think I might have an answer for someone else and pay the network back with my thoughts.

In the manufacturing industry, they call it “Just in Time Production”.  Why not look at it as “Just in Time Learning”?  How often do you truly learn how your students learn topics in the classroom afterward the lesson.  If you get to teach the topic again next year, you’re good to go.  Provided nothing else has changed.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be proactive and get some advice or background in advance of the lesson?

Those that know me know that I’ve always felt that the group is far smarter, more nimble and richly innovative than the single person.  It’s also the premise of the traditional PD session.  Once a year, gather the right people and magic happens.   There might have been a time when that was a good plan.

In my opinion, it’s such a dated concept.

Why can’t that be at least “daily (or regularly) gather the right people and magic happens”?

Educators around the world can be so much more resourceful than a single teacher noodling out how to teach a new concept in her/his home office at night.

The premise of the traditional PD is that you need to be all-in for that day of learning.  The premise of the connected educator is that you can participate at whatever level you need or what your comfort level is.  In the past, this might be a really degrading comment when I say be selfish about your personal learning.  Being connected means never having to apologize for being selfish about your learning.  Go for it.

The reality is – I’ve never seen anyone stay very selfish for long.  Once you realize that your learning community is struggling to learn and share just as much as you are, you’ll dive in with enthusiasm.

Public Service Reminder – Today is World Backup Day.  Are you participating?

Links

OTR Links 03/31/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

application, Computers, Education, learning, Read/Write Web, Teaching

Just Drumming–At Various Levels


The drummer in my first band used cardboard boxes.  He didn’t have a great deal of money to buy the good stuff but he did have a nice set of drum sticks.  By using cardboard boxes of varying sizes, he was able to put together a nice collection of drums for various sounds.  The others of us in the band had legitimate guitars and we would practice whenever we could.  The nice thing about the boxes was that you could also work on the band’s logo with magic markers.  If you made a mistake, just get another box.

But, we were doomed for failure – what with no jobs, boxes for drums, and going to school for Grade 4 at the time – we really didn’t stand a chance.

Kids today have it so much easier.  With their devices, they don’t have to learn to drum on boxes – they could use the HTML5Drum Machine.

Fire it up and you’ll see how electronics, programming, recording, downloading, music styles all converge into one neat little tool.

drum

It was fun to mess around with and take it for a musical spin.  Plug in a good set of headphones for a better enjoyable experience.

But it gets even better.  In the category of “How did they do that?”, I decided to poke around.  I had the drum machine loaded into Firefox so I right clicked to View Page Source.  Here’s where being able to understand HTML pays off.

The code that’s behind this is actually embedded in a frameset with the real code coming from jamtom.com.

source

My next stop was to head over to that site and, indeed, there was the drum machine. Checking out the page source there gives the story behind the story.  This isn’t for your typical Grade 4 student but it’s interesting reading the code behind genius that makes for such an interesting front end.  It’s certainly far removed from editing out header tags but there’s that secondary school student that will really dig in to just how it works.  Maybe they’ll be inspired to write one of their own?

If only we’d had this technology when we were in Grade 4.  We coulda been somebody.

Links

OTR Links 03/30/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

application, Education, iPad, software, Teaching

ZooKazam


This is a “must explore” if you’re interested in animals.  But, it goes further than that.

This application is one of the most amazing applications of Artificial Intelligence on a portable device that I think I’ve seen.  Watch this review.

The application is ZooKazam and available for both Android and iOS.  I think that you know you’re in for something special just visiting their website.  By itself, it takes the concept of the web to the next level.

They call it “magical animals” and the name is so true.  You have to experience it to fully understand.  Words just don’t do justice for a good description of the experience you’re about to enjoy.  Download the app and get started just by pointing your camera at a number of the targets provided on their website.  Then, dig in and you won’t be putting it down any time soon.

Experiences can be recorded and shared.

YouTube is a terrific repository of compositions shared.  Of course, the sharing continues on Twitter.

The application is free to download and the Mammals category is free.  That’s plenty to get your virtual zoo started.

It’s not just the virtual reality, either.  You just know that there will be a hook into education.

IMG_1389

I’m posting this on the weekend so you’ll have lots of time to explore and play!

And, lest you think it’s a Macintosh thing since all the captures seem to be done on that platform, here’s my zebra.

IMG_1388

Links

OTR Links 03/29/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.