Who’s Got Your Back?

Sunday started like any other Sunday.  I’m up and about just after 5 and grab my iPad to do some quiet reading before the rest of the family and the dog make an appearance.  My reading started differently though.  Instead of a typical high tech or educational lead story, I read “FlightAware Shows Path of Crashing Plane.”  I read that and turned on the television and, sure enough, there was live coverage of the aftermath.  The Boeing 777 is the state of the art technology and it was good to see the rescue teams immediately on the spot helping the survivors.  They certainly had their backs.

Later in the morning, it was racing at the Nurburgring with the German Grand Prix.  It’s enjoyable to watch the highest technology racing series on the planet.  It was another spectacular race with its cutting edge technologies such as Kers and DRS making for exciting racing.  There were a couple of on track incidents involving safety crews but the most exciting moments occur in the pits when a team of mechanics descend on a car and change tires literally in seconds.  Those mechanics certainly had the driver’s back.

Later in the afternoon, it was Indycar racing at Pocono Raceway.  It’s a different type of racing when compared to Formula 1.  Racing over 215 miles per hour and turning left is just an unbelievable experience.  Again, with the high tech, and the concept of Push to Pass promotes a different way to get more energy into the vehicle for a short period of time.  Again, when it comes time for service in the bigs, the mechanics are there to cover the driver’s back, delivering the best in a short period of time and they’re back racing.

Whether it’s air travel or car racing, nobody stands alone.  Without the backing and support, it just doesn’t happen.

During my reading, I also stumbled across an article by Dr. Doug Green titled “Should we get rid of technology directors?“.  It’s a post from a couple of years back that presents an interesting perspective.  Dr. Green talks about his own experience as a technology director.  I recognize that the role is interpreted and implemented differently from school to school or from district to district so it probably needs a little mental melding to fit your reality.  He concludes with the sentence “A job that has become impossible for one person can become possible once it is viewed as everyone’s job.

That really got me thinking.  We’ve all read about unfortunate choices made by educators that end up in the headlines or even in the courts.  There is so much in the world of educational technology and so much is new and changing, it does beg the question “Who’s got your back?” if we remove the technology director?

There’s no shortage of great ideas in the classroom.  Read any educational technology blog or follow the right people on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus and there’s a new technology or web resource or application appearing daily – literally.  In a modern classroom, with all its political, administrative, and student challenges, where’s the time to learn what is the best of the best, the most appropriate for a particular use, or one that’s consistent with school or district goals?

Should it not be the role of the technology director to be constantly evaluating and sharing what really works?  Should she/he not be leading the professional learning and sharing so that classrooms are adopting the best of the best?  Should the technology director not be meeting with teachers or making classroom visits to help develop a shared vision for success?  Should he/she not be available by phone or email to trouble shoot the issues that pop up?  And they will pop up.

The high technology world of airplane travel or auto racing cannot be successful without someone covering their back. To that mix, I would add the high technology classroom of today.

Never Miss a Formula 1 Race Again

Lately, there’s only been one Formula 1 race in the Eastern Time Zone.  The bulk of the races are in Europe and there is a growing number of races in Asia and then, of course, there’s Australia.

Other than viewing the programming guide, I’ll head over to the Formula 1 website and click on the “Convert To My Local Time” to get the actual starting time of the races.  Confession – I’ll add it to my electronic calendar with a heads-up warning and it works very nicely to make sure that I don’t miss a race live.  Of course, there’s replays but that’s really not the same.

Today, I ran into another wonderful time converter.  We all know (I hope) that you can use Google to convert times in different time zones for you but it’s much more fun to use something else.

If you’re one of them, check out Time Zen.

As with all time zone converters, the actual place you’re looking for may not be available so you have to be close.  In this case, Silverstone isn’t there but Northampton is.  Use the Add/Remove buttons to get the places you need!  The little slider allows you to adjust the times forward and backwards to get just what you want!

Of course, there is an educational use other than the mechanics of Formula 1 racing which is worthwhile in itself.  Suppose you’re doing a real time chat with a classroom from another time zone.  Time Zen has you covered!

That’s probably a better rationale for most people but I am watching qualifying from Silverstone as I write this!


A New Venue

Things are heating up in Singapore.  This weekend features the first ever night race on the Formula 1 calendar.  The cars will practice and race at night under heavily lighted conditions.

I’m excited to watch the qualifying and the racing.  Why under the lights?

Money drives this extremely expensive sport.

Typically, races on the other side of the globe have a far smaller television viewing audience.  After all, depending upon where you are in Europe or North America, the race could be run live at 2:00am.  Even the most die hard Formula 1 fan is challenged to watch the race live.

In the good old days, you would just tape the race and watch it on your own time.  But, those of us who really enjoy the sport also subscribe to mailing lists of our passion.  So often, we check our email only to get spoiler messages which end up ruining the moment.

For better television audiences, the Singapore race will be held at night which puts it mid-afternoon in Europe and in the traditional morning timeslot here in the Eastern Time Zone.  We get to see it live.  Thanks so much to modern technology.

From a driver’s perspective, they have to appreciate the night running.  According to reports, it was 27 degrees and very humid in Singapore.  Could you imagine the temperatures and humidity during a mid-afternoon race?

How do the drivers handle things?  After all, their bodies are on strict training regimes in this the world’s greatest auto racing series.  And, how about night vision?

They’ve got it covered.  Check otu the article dealing with Clubbing and Carrots.

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Twitter as Spoiler

I’ve been planning all weekend for the kickoff to the 2008 F1 season and the F1 race in Australia. I wasn’t planning to stay up all night and watch the race live in the wee hours. Fortunately, TSN rebroadcasts the race starting at 8:00am.

I was having trouble sleeping this morning so decided to get up and poke around the computer.

Of force of habit, I take a look at Twitbin and one of the people that I’m following is ESPN.

Guess what? “Hamilton starts F1 searching with Australian GP win.” ARgh. http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/news/story?seriesId=6&id=3296127&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

Now what do I do? Well, I’ll skim some recent twits and the Formula1blog that I’m following notes that “Hamilton wins Chaotic Australian Grand Prix”. http://www.formula1blog.com/?p=912

The only suspense, I guess, is to wait to discover what “Chaotic” means. I hope it doesn’t mean what I think it does.

Lesson learned. Time zones have less importance when you’re aggregating from all over the world. I always awaken to read what Ewan Mcintosh has posted over night. Maybe I need to follow more Twitterers from Europe so that news rolls off the bottom?

Or, maybe just not turn the computer on so early in the morning? Nah. I have a week to figure out a plan before Kuala Lumpur.

Reducing Technology

Tonight marks the start of the Formula 1 racing season. This is the world’s best racing series; largely centred in Europe but has races that move from country to country to promote it as a global sporting event.

It’s the only racing series that I follow faithfully.

From Formula 1 comes many of the innovation in car safety and driving technology. Take a look at a Formula 1 steering wheel, and you’ll see a startling resemblance to the type of steering wheel that you’ll find in the latest offerings at your dealership. Over the years, many innovations have come from Formula 1 to the family car.

Formula 1 has always been about the technology and devising newer ways to push the design in terms of performance and efficiency. This year has seen a step backwards, in my opinion. You’ll no longer find traction control on the cars; engines and gear boxes have to last longer; and so on. The reasons for these changes are attributed to trying to lower the costs of team ownership. The experts predict that the races will be more exciting because there will be a greater chance of driver error.

If I wanted to watch bumper cars or a templated environment, I could watch any of the other series. I’m not watching for the wrecks or near misses. I’m not watching to see driver versus driver head up. We have the other series like NASCAR or IROC for that. I watch Formula 1 for the technological design as manufacturer tries to out perform manufacturer.

I hope that this isn’t a trend that will continue. I really enjoy seeing Ferrari and BMW and Toyota and the rest tweaking and testing to make their car a little better with the technology.