Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feb 2010 news

Technology - Out with the Old and In with the New!

Technology has changed the way we do business. It has even changed the way we organize our personal lives. We have avenues like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to stay connected to friends and families. We can go to conferences and learn new things without even having to leave our schools. That being said, trends in technology have also changed. E-mail is slowly becoming an "old" technology while texting and instant messaging are more popular. We see, as individuals and as school districts, outdated equipment being replaced with newer, faster equipment.

For the last several years, ESU 4 has offered schools the opportunity to responsibly recycle electronics. All old equipment is brought to the ESU 4 warehouse where it is stacked, wrapped, and placed on pallets. Once all the equipment is organized and stacked, it is trucked to Luminous Recycling in Denver, CO. There, it is dismantled and all recycled for re-use.

Also, for the last several years, even before I came to work at ESU 4, teachers were offered a free website through a service called Manila. Manila is a server-based web site editor. If a teacher requested an account, I activated that account, and a web-site was created for teacher use in a matter of minutes. For many years, a lot of training has been put into getting teachers to use that service. Every year, ESU 4 would pay to upgrade the license so we could have Manila available for our teachers. Unfortunately, that service will be discontinued on Oct. 1, 2010. The reasons are many, but the the primary reason is the company that sells the licenses for Manila no longer exists. So, our server is running a program that is no longer supported. Without the support of the company, we cannot continue to offer this service to our teachers. If you have a Manila site, I encourage you to be thinking of a way to move your Manila site over to another type of service. Many schools are already using site-building programs, so check with your technology coordinator to see what your school offers. Some schools are getting Google domains, where teachers can have a Google Site for free. Some schools have a district-wide site builder, like SOCS. And some schools are using servers that have web site designs built-in. If your school does not offer a service described above, we will have a solution for you. We will be providing training and ideas for moving your content from Manila to another location. Please look for that training in future newsletters.

Finally, I urge you to begin thinking about how technology can change the way you teach or help reinforce ideas learned in the classroom. I would like for you to consider, even now, changing one thing next year. Take some time the rest of this spring to think about what your curriculum would look like if you integrated technology throughout your lessons. It could be something small like using Hippocampus during the year, or something bigger, like setting up a course online using ANGEL or Moodle. Focus on changing one thing and then make that your goal. Take notes along the way. What worked? What didn't? What would I change? If you need any help with planning or implementing, please let me know. I'd enjoy having that conversation with you.