My Reflections on The Laptop Institute

I have enjoyed my time at the conference and have learned some new things that will lead us to the future:
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  1. There is no perfect 1 : 1 program as each school has had struggles with parents, teachers and sometimes students.
  2. Focus on the Learning and Engagement and not the technology (Durham Academy Digital Learning Initiative) DADLI not DEADLI
  3. Develop a group/cohort to move it forward and support teachers how ever you can
  4. Urban School and Maine seem to have the most solid approaches with respect to how best to do it.
  5. There is no doubt we need to do a digital device.
  6. What we do now will change from what we start with so we must remain flexible
  7. The landscape for both devices and e-books is dynamic
  8. Professional Development is critical
  9. Leadership is essential as there will be folks who want to jump in, some who need convincing, and others who plan to retire or corrupt the program.

I think we need to bring more folks to this conference next year.

PS: I have used ecto for all of this posting and love it.

Electronic Books (Live Blog)

Lee Tilley, Director of Technology at Chaminade College Prep

First year was 2004.
Last year all MS curriculum is electronic – web-based and are adding Japanese this year
11 courses have e-textbooks

Chaminade Approach:

  • No Internet Only
  • Teacher Decision
  • Fully loaded on Laptop images (may have issues with publishers because they want limited access as only students who should use it, do)
  • No CDs or DVDs
  • 3 year lock in for the textbooks

Teachers like them because it adds to the resources available and provides great reinforcements to the lesson

Concerns:

  • Image gives access to all of the books
  • Why would students buy the book if it is on the image
  • Costs just as much as regular textbook
  • Different then old version
  • Interactive links will change – negotiated up dated CD
  • Books are written in Flash – restricts the use of Flash for students unless teachers add it to the list of app is listed in the application server
  • Distractions – no different then without it on a computer

Solving Concerns:

  • Limited Access via Active Directory Groups and Policies
  • Took overall cost of the book plus a handling fee and divided by 3 (#years)
  • Same as regular textbook
  • Each e-book has a web site that is updated so students can gain access to changes
  • They re-wrote several of the e-book programs to a different format instead of the native .swf native format. They reformat it as an .exe file which allows them to set policies on what opens it.
  • Notes are done in Word or PDF format
  • Parents and Students tend to like the e-books. Parents miss not having the physical textbook.
  • Because the entire book is on the image, the interactive aspects no Internet connection is need as it is accessed from their own laptop.

McDougal Littell Publishing is one vendor they have worked with for their books.

Google Project
WikiTextbooks in UK

Within 3 years Lee believes that all publishers will have e-books. Google will be sued he is relatively sure.

Lenevo Educational Model computers come with free VitalSource – all is Open Domain Books (free version). They do of course have pay versions for textbooks. Great to see them doing this but the landscape is changing rapidly. Students have to have a code entered into so he has the teachers do this aspect. Proprietary software so you are locked in to it.

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Tech Talk – How Urban School Does it! (Live Blog)

Igor Zagatsky – Systems Admin
Howard – Director of Technology
Melanie – Laptop Facilitator

They have 10 servers (all but 2 were Windows) Active Directory, Print (LPR) and File Server, FirstClass, WinSchool, Raisers Edge and FileMaker, Voicemail, Web Server; Apple Remote Desktop Task Server; Internet monitoring; Fundware (accounting) and Avaya IP Office for phone and voicemail. Teachers get their Voicemail to email so they do not need as many phones since teachers share rooms. They use Extreme IP for file server connections (50 users). Only need 50 since most files are saved on FirstClass. They have at least a 1.4 TB of storage. Each student has about 80 MB although they want to have it be around 1 GB of FirstClass storage.

Wireless 22 Proxim AP-700 APs or one for every 2 or 3 classrooms. They use MAC address authentication using a Radius server. No WPA or WEP. Unmanaged otherwise , 802.11A to G protocols, Use POE or outlets where needed,

Over build the wireless so that there is overflow of coverage in case two classrooms close to each other are using the network. Not too much trouble with interference although they have reduced signal strength if needed.

Flat network – no VLANs, 2 HP ProCurve 4000M in remote closests, HP ProCurve 5308xl (lifetime warranty) backbone, Layer 3 Switch (evidently Cisco has one as well but they do not tell you about it). DHCP, Ethernet ports are in classrooms.

Internet Access: Upgrading to 10 Mbos (fiber), increase has been dramatic with streaming audio and video, Allot Net Enforcer (traffic shaper) it allows him to set web sites getting any more then a certain amount of bandwidth, SonicWall firewall. They do block P2P.

Classrooms: ceiling mounted projectors with SMARTboards. Power in floor and along wall. Put in power where you can. They have an AV box on the wall with a 25 foot VGA cable. They hang the projectors as low as possible so they do not have to use so much keystoneing. They fight with installers due to ADA. Keep it at the level of the door. They use an Extron controller in AV box.

Laptop Prep: Unpack and barcode scan all attributes and enter into FileMaker database. Check if boots, Upgrade memory, STOP sticker and label, Software Image done by summer intern. Image using Local FW hard drives 10 at a time (~ 20 minutes), NetRestore (ASR front end by Bombich) Not bound to network, Disk Image created by NetRestore Helper, 2 images (student and teacher), Remiage all machines once a year before school starts, data transfer only for teachers, students deal with their own back up and restore, No major updates throughout the year, they turn off Automatic Update.

Software: FirstClass, iLife, Office, CS3, Inspiration, iWork, Comic Life, iFlash, iStopMotion, and a couple others I did not get

Tech support is an conference in FC, Tech Office for in person help, loaner and troubleshoot, restore software, hardware issues go to Apple, students will go home and back up if necessary. After a 3rd repair, look at lemon law.

Backup is done with FireWire and a script called Folder Synchronizer

http://blue.urbanschool.org/laptop

Howard Levin

Authentic Doing

Telling Their Stories

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Doing 1to1 Right (Live Blog)

6 Components for Success by Mike Muir from the Maine Center for Meaningful and Engaged Learning
1. Teacher Practice
2. Leadership
3. Professional Development
4. Technology Access & Support
5. Partnerships
6. Funding

It is not called a laptop program as Seymour Papert worked with Gov. Angus King worked together and wanted to focus on learning.
Maine Learns web site

Maine Learning with Laptops Studies

PDF of presentation is on Doing 1 to 1 Right.

Get the model handout called Doing 1to1 Success Model – PDF

Additional Links:
Schools We Need
1 to 1 Stories

Highlights:

Effective Leaders: Set Direction, Develop People, and Redesign the Organization
Positive Pressure and Support – Evaluate and Have High Expectations combined with High Support
Let students take them home. They worked with Time Warner and got a self-install for high-speed access at home. Computrace was used by some schools.
PD must be during the day, focus on teaching, pay attention to energy levels, respond to teachers’ needs: Just in Time, Listen to Teacher Voices, Zone of Proximal Development (Vgotsky), Meetings with and agenda based on what teachers wanted to learn, Agenda was adjusted as necessary.

Teaching Technology Quickly: Kids Teaching Kids (3 before me), Cheat Sheets

Carts do not allow for spontaneous teaching but do allow for planned teaching with technology.

If possible, allow anyone to come on the network with any hardware. Have a separate guest system so they can access the Internet.

Do not get into the platform wars as this is largely an adult issue. Discussion needs to be about Use and Support. There is now fewer differences between Macintosh and Windows then there is a between versions of Windows.

Infrastructure is mission critical. Where will you store them when not being used. Power management – one school has spare batteries in the library that they can switch out batteries.

Cases will save you money on repairs. They now use one with a sleeve for extra padding.

Jeff Mao’s Hockey Analogy: The Goalie – keep everyone safe, protect stuff, Leads Team in Goals – Visionary, Follow Me, Leads Team in Assists – Provides Support and Creates Opportunities. The most effective are the Leads Team in Assists.

Breakage has nothing to do with hardware but rather the School Culture, Function of Teacher Use, Student Engagement, Leadership, Policies and Procedures. Use for Academic Learning is the best way to limit breakage and inappropriate use.

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Constituent Buy In (Live Blog)

Karen Douse from Harpeth Hall (5-12 all girls school)
1:1 since 1999, teachers had the laptops one year in advance

5th and 6th use carts while 7th – 12th parents purchase the laptops/tablets.

It is not a Laptop Program, but an EXTENSION OF THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT!

Keys to success: They were successful with some areas and did not do others as well

  • Preparation in advance. Attend AALF Summit and other conferences, Make sure your network is ready as they lived through many things not working and infections of the network and laptops. Have the infrastructure ready before!!
  • Change is not easy so work on getting as many people on board in advance
  • Administration is key because without it, there is no way it will be successful
  • Board of Trust: Work with the Board if possible so they can assist in answering the Why
  • Faculty – they did not ask them but did it and in hindsight it was not as successful because they said they were open to feedback, but it felt to the teachers like it was a done deal and has taken longer to bring all on board. They now take teachers to conferences and bring in many experts to their school. (Alan November, David Warlick, Ian Jukes). Let the teachers hear from other schools and take them to these schools. Set up electronic mentors. Include reluctant teachers as they can ask probing questions unless they are bringing the process down.
  • Professional Development is best done in small groups. Do not teach software, but rather teach how to use new technology in their curriculum. Atomic Learning plays a role for many schools as well. Teachers have a one-hour training session when they get their laptops. Nothing is mandatory at their school.
  • Parents – Make sure to give information on goals of program, what will happen and will not happen, how teachers will be prepared, FAQs, have an influential parent on the committee, have a variety of print, meetings, and other online materials. Only bring in the group of parents who will be purchasing the laptops.
  • Students – Involve students in the process since they can be ambassadors and can help with admissions, parents and teachers. In addition students can manage the help center.
  • Community – write press releases and involve alumni.
  • Prospective parents – work with admissions to develop a brochure on the program
  • Ongoing – Technology must work, cheerful customer service, treat their issues seriously without attitude, minimal stress (baby steps) keep them happy with giving them a mouse and flash drive, listen to them, and honor teachers who innovate.
  • Keep PR going by highlighting glimpses into classrooms.

While following these ideas will not make everything go smoothly, it will help. I wonder how we can start a program without someone in charge of it.

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Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation (Live Blog)

Karen Ward and Bill Hamilton from Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation is speaking this morning about how to not only have a laptop program but to connect learning to the digital equipment. I joined DA in the AALF as an institution (free).

On their site, they have a response to the New York Times Article on why some schools are dropping their school’s laptop program. In a nutshell it was a lack of leadership and political battles not learning. A lack of leadership will adversely affect any program in education or industry.

3 things needed in a leader:
1. A person with a vision
2. A person with the courage
3. A person with the commitment to stay there for the long haul

Ask ourselves how we hope to see the laptops used. Will it just be for note taking efficiency or do we hope to have deeper use? Ask students like we have what they would like to see done with laptops or technology. I think the results from our survey show they have strong opinions.

It is not about technology, but about learning. I have never attended a conference on pencils, white boards, paper or other teaching device. This is a paraphrase on what Seymour Papert was quoted as saying.

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Podcast, Vodcast, and Screencast Nation (Live Blog)

Will Richardson is now offering his take on the new multimedia creation on the Web. He says it has increased 3200% in the last year. I know that we have added to this growth with the many podcasts we produced.

Poducateme is an awesome site with tutorials and ideas on how to podcast.

Teachertube is a good site for educational movies.

Marco Torres iCan digital storytelling contest.

YouTuberemixer – mix video, photos, and audio.

Creative Commons Music

ccMixter

Jamendo

Screencasting

A powerful way to record what is on your screen.

Windows Media Encoder

SMART recorder

Democracy Player – download videos to watch on your computer.

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Multimedia in Language Classrooms (Live Blog)

Lori Lori H├ębert teaches at Urban School in SF. Chinese, Spanish and French. Her new web site is at GoLingual
Evolving Tools:
Online Textbooks with Resources such as audio and video. Most students leave their textbooks at school.
Interactive Whiteboards

She teaches with a lot of Flash with her SMARTBoard. She sets up galleries of images, audio, video or flash so she can pull her lessons together easily.

Pubstv.com

Check out her other links

She puts her SMART Notebooks into the conference in FirstClass that all students and teachers can access. Students in the past have taken these and created review documents.

Projects the students now do are totally different. They used to do posters, songs, home movies. While they still do this, they now also do Dynamic multimedia shows, music videos, documentaries, and others that continue to come from her students. The use of the SMARTboard allows for interaction that engages the students while also allowing the students to internalize and connect to the concepts.

For recording they use Audio Recorder, (free) Sound Studio ($79.95) and QuickTime Pro ($29.95).

Because the students are creating so many examples of digital work, they are creating Progressive Portfolios. They use FirstClass to store their files over the course of the 4 years.

iFLash ($14.95) allows you to make flash cards with images and audio. Two sided and can be created by students or teachers. Can be put on their iPods. This will be something very useful for the Foreign Language classes when we do laptops.

Skype and xLingo (Language Exchange Network) offer much promise.

Digital Stream is a conference that really jump started her use of the technology.

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