Archive for January, 2011

Archos 101 Review by @franze98

January 28, 2011 1 comment

Guest blogger @franze98 offers his thoughts on the Archos 101 after about 10 days of use. @franze98 is a must follow on Twitter, especially if you work in K12 information technology.

  • First thing I notice is it’s a very light weight device.
  • The kickstand is a plus for ease of use on a table or desktop.
  • Screen is sharp making viewing in different lighting easy.
  • It comes with a marketplace, but not the android marketplace.
  • Getting the android marketplace installed took some trial and error as this was my first Android device.
  • Wireless connection is fairly fast, even without a N connection to try out.
  • The battery holds up much better than a laptop, although it does take a while to charge and I’m not thrilled with the plugin design.  It sticks out a lot and doesn’t give a snap into place feel when it is pushed in.  It does have a charge light so you know it is being charged.
  • Some of the apps downloaded from the android market don’t look right because they are designed for phones.
  • Some flash based websites seem sluggish to load, although there could be reasons other than flash for this.
  • No Netflix app for android yet.
  • Surprisingly I had to download a pdf viewer to view pdf’s, something which you never have to do on a pc as they always seem to come with Adobe or another company’s product.
  • Camera is not meant to replace a real camera as quality is below average for a webcam.
  • Typing on the touch screen keyboard is fairly efficient, especially after I performed a recalibration.

At this time I’m also downloading a new firmware to see what it may do.

One of our main uses in education is for the Autoskills software suite, but its flash requirement seems to prevent it from working correctly.  Another possible use would have been Accelerated Reader, but there is no print client available thus one cannot take reading quizzes. At a price point of $294, it definitely is a nice consumer product, but I’m not sure its right for education just yet.


My Current List of Technologies to Watch

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment

There have been some technology developments that I am adding to my watch list in the next few months. Some of these technologies could potentially help with the design of next generation school infrastructures in the coming year.

Microsoft Office 365 – Microsoft is rapidly developing cloud-based solutions for the education sector and the launch of Office 365 is the counter punch to Google Apps for Education. The plan is transitioning any Live@Edu users into the new cloud platform and add Office Pro and SharePoint capabilities. There is a price caveat to watch out for, but with a 25GB skydrive and office powered applications, this is a viable solution for schools to make a transition towards.

Chrome OS – Their marketing term “Experience Waitlessness” is used to tout the web OS as having the ability of instant on web access, anytime and everywhere same experience. The CR-48 netbook has been widely reviewed and is currently slated to release in March. Here is an excellent review by Jason Bedell of the CR-48.

Splashtop OS – As schools move more into the cloud and the need for traditional Windows desktop environments are slowly decreasing, web OS  platforms are becoming a viable and cost-effective solution for schools. The “instant-on” capabilities will allow computers to access the web in seconds without having to go through the entire Windows boot-up process. The remote desktop capabilities also allows Splashtop to be used with all your mobile devices.

Motorola Xoom – 4G LTE tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb platform…enough said. Best of show CES 2011. From the first glimpses of Android 3.0, it looks like an entirely new interface.

mySpark – There are such an abundance of tablets on the market that it gives me headaches reading about all of them. And there is no doubt iPad will remain the king of tablets, but I am interested to see how this mySpark will evolve in the education tablet space. This Android-based tablet is touting the ability to integrate with Learning Management Systems along with dual cameras, browser and e-reader. Price-point and the ability to integrate with LMS will be deciding factors on this product.

Pico Projector – With a single cable connection, you can connect your iPod, iPhone and iPad to the Pico Projector. As we move towards tablets in the classroom, instant projection from your tablet device will be key to delivering instruction.

Critical, Collaborative and Creative Thinking

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Integrating 21st century skills of critical, collaborative, and creative thinking is another important component of a quality education model. While these skills should be embedded in the overall curriculum, building structured learning lab time is essential to providing learning opportunities and authentic assessments of 21st century skills. Using open source and web 2.0 technologies, students and staff can engage in 21st century learning in a regular basis. Below are some ideas I have used in the past and recommend to structure critical, collaborative, and creative thinking lessons and projects.

Critical Thinking
The focus technologies to structure critical thinking and problem solving will be the use of computer programming software. Introducing the engineering design process at an early stage will help develop the skill of critical thinking and problem solving. Students can engage in design theory, mathematics, troubleshooting, quality assurance, and the scientific method while working on computer programming software. During the learning lab time, students can be using computer programming software developed specifically for K12 environment. Programs such as Scratch, Alice, Kodu Labs, and Google Sketchup can all be used to structure critical thinking and problem solving in a 21st century scientific/math environment. Engineering Design Tools for K12

Collaborative Thinking
There are host of web 2.0 technologies available to engage students in collaborative thinking. For example, lessons can be structured where students develop presentations, canvases, documents, spreadsheets, and wikis to share, edit, and collect information. One of the free tools available today is the private communication platform called Edmodo. Edmodo can be the secure private platform for students to social network and engage in online collaborative learning. Students can share docs & presentations, start threaded discussion, embed videos, and create polls to engage in open collaborative 21st century learning. This collaborative thinking platform can focus on writing, research, and presentation skills of students.

Creative Thinking
Developing and nurturing creative and innovative expression is a vital component of 21st century learning. Fortunately, the technology environment we live in today gives our students the ability to create and publish without investing heavily in expensive studios. There are many open source applications that will engage our students in multimedia editing and publishing. For example, our students can create podcasts and videos using Avidmux, and create posters using Glogster. The tools are easily accessible allowing our students a platform to engage in creative expression in its fullest potential. This creative thinking platform can focus on artistic, global, and ethical skills of students. Here is a list of open source software that can replace expensive Adobe multimedia software: K12 Technology Solutions on a Budget

All The Talk Has Me Almost Convinced…

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

With the proliferation of tweeting, blogging, and other social media, the discussions about educational technologies has me almost convinced that all the talk really exists in the mainstream education system. I always have to remind myself of the Twitter bubble I live in is not quite what we see on an everyday basis. For example, there has been so much discussion about the tablet that it has me believing that everyone is buying it for their schools. As much as I believe the tablet is the future education device for our classrooms, the technology is still evolving and still lacking some content creation and web support components for today’s mass deployment. Another major push has been the concept of an “all-in-one” student data management platform that intelligently integrates the various data systems for personalized learning. On Twitter, the term cloud computing is used on a daily basis and has become such a buzz term in educational technology circles. There has been major strides with Google Apps for Edu and Live@edu (now MSFT Office 365), but adoption is not as prevalent as one might think when on these Twitter streams. And for those who are on #edchat and #edtech streams, you can’t go a day without tweets related to the following: game-based education, augmented reality, open content, blended learning and electronic books. There is no doubt these technologies and many more will eventually be in most districts and schools in the future, however, I have to remind myself that social media might be ahead of the reality that exists in our schools today. I always point back to the concept I wrote in a previous post called Its Changing Culture, Not Technology. It is going to take time on various levels…especially those companies who are touting grandeur with their products.

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Using Google Voice as Your Teacher Phone Line

January 10, 2011 1 comment

Whether you are part of the Google Apps for Edu domain or using your own Gmail personal account, the FREE Google Voice feature is another great way to communicate with your parents and students without giving up your personal phone number. When I used to teach in the classroom, our school gave us cell phones where students and parents could call us about homework, school issues or classroom activities. It was a great way to provide access outside of the classroom and my students used it frequently. But I was not a fan of carrying two cell phones and forwarding one to the other. Having a Google Voice number will allow parents and students to contact the teacher on a local phone number while also archiving any voicemails to your Gmail account. You could leave custom voicemail messages on your Google Voice and provide important classroom messages for parents to access. On top of that you can use the texting capabilities without hitting your wallet. Once you have a Google Voice number, you can install Google voice and chat to activate the phone function in your chat window. When calling out, your Google Voice number will appear on the other person’s phone. The teacher phone line using Google Voice is a convenient and effective option for teachers, especially if you have an iPhone/Smartphone device. Get yours today!

Beef Up Your Wireless Infrastructure

January 7, 2011 3 comments

We have recently upgraded one of our campuses with XN4 wireless devices to help support the several student netbook mobile carts being used. It was important to find a wireless solution that can sustain “wire-speed” connections to a dense area of mobile users. The XN4 differs from your traditional access point because it contains 4 integrated access points with the ability to channel bond to provide up to 300Mbps bandwidth for users. The wi-fi array will load balance your 1:1 classroom intelligently amongst the 4 radios and will coordinate with other XN4 devices in the network without the need of a separate wireless access controller. The XN4 operates in a/b/g/n frequencies with a maximum bandwidth of 1.2Gbps. Xirrus offers four different models with XN16 being their flagship wi-fi array which integrates 16 access points on single device to support a maximum bandwidth of 4.8Gbps. It is important to note however, that if you use the Xirrus product, that your mobile devices support all abgn frequencies. Another recommendation if possible, is to provide a gigabit ethernet connection instead of 10/100MB to the XN4. We cannot wait to test these beefy wireless devices with students ready to pummel it with packets. Reviews will come on the second posting.

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2010 in review

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,900 times in 2010. That’s about 21 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 57 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 111 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 241kb.

The busiest day of the year was January 29th with 126 views. The most popular post that day was “Why Tweet at a conference I am attending in person?”.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,, Google Reader, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cloud computing, simple machines, technology mission statement, educational technology, and howard chan.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


“Why Tweet at a conference I am attending in person?” January 2010


K12 Technology Solutions On A Budget February 2010


Engineering Design Tools for K12 January 2010


EdIT (Education Information Technology) January 2010


About Howard Chan October 2009

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