Magnettech Highlights

Education tech today from Tampa Bay.

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    Greg Hart is the author of Magnettech Highlights. DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are my own and not necessarily those of my employer(s). See my Disclosure Policy for more info.
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From the Twittersphere – 3-16-2011

Posted by magnethart on March 17, 2011

Here are a few tweets that stood out to me this week from my PLN.  Thanks for sharing the great resources and announcements everyone.

Xtranormal starts the ball rolling towards an EDU version
posted by @TeachaKidd on  Monday, 3/14/2011 at 9:52pm

Helpful list of Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs (helps determine the level of response u r anticipating from studnts): #edu
posted by @technology_tim on Wednesday, 3/16/2011 at 12:15am

[Webinar AND Workbook] Getting the Most Out of Your Interactive Whiteboard via SimpleK12 Blogs
posted by @SimpleK12 on Wedneday, 3/16/2011 at 2:07am


Posted in Ed Tech, education, Professional Development, teachers | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tech Tools for Time Management

Posted by magnethart on November 12, 2010

235/365 Hair pulling stress

As an Instructional Technology Specialist for Young Middle Magnet School of Math, Science and Technology, I find myself pulled in many different directions with many different responsibilities.  I used to be the person with a myriad of post-it notes covering my desk full of tasks that needed to be done or notes about projects I was working on.  Over the last few years, web technology has improved drastically and along with it came some very handy tools that I find help me stay organized and keep on top of all of my projects.  I picked my top four tools (Google Calendar, Google Tasks, FirstClass Technology Conference, and Klok 2) to feature in a Prezi titled Tech Tools for Time Management.  If you have any you recommend, add them to the Google Doc linked after the Prezi.

Have some tools that you use?  Add them to the Google Doc here.

I was really hoping to embed my Prezi into my blog but WordPress does not allow the embedding of free-range Flash content.

Flash and Other Embeds

Flash and all other embeds are not allowed in posts, pages, or text widgets. For security reasons, we remove the tags needed for these to work. Your intentions may be innocent, but someone somewhere would try to damage the site, affecting all of our users.

There are several safe ways to post VideosAudio, and other items to your blog.
From the WordPress Support Blog


Posted in Classroom Technology, Ed Tech, instruction, Professional Development, technology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation in Magnet Schools

Posted by magnethart on November 9, 2010

In an interview with Dr. Tom King (@ProfTK), Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell) focused on what defines and innovative school.  The school used as an example is The Saturn School of Tommorrow, a Magnet School in existance from 1989 – 2003.  Shelly summarizes what innovation looks like in 8 points based on The Saturn School in her blog, Teacher Reboot Camp.

How did the Saturn school differ from the norm?

  • was a magnet school serving students in grades 4 – 8, many at risk, and parents could choose to send their children there instead of the local public school
  • noted for its innovative uses with technology at a time technology not as highly developed
  • visited by the current president at the time, President George Bush Sr., who spoke with the children
  • used local resources such as the public library, the science and art museums, state and local government
  • established mentorships and apprenticeships with businesses and agencies
  • had differentiated staffing: a lead teacher, associate teachers for curriculum, generalist teachers, intern teachers
  • had a longer school year, ungraded, no report cards or textbooks, instead had student portfolios
  • had a school council of staff, parents and students

                                                 From What Does the Innovative School Look Like? Interview with Dr. Tom King

After reading these eight points, I am glad to see that Magnet Schools and even the district as a whole in Hillsborough County strive to meet several of these.  Now, my question would be whether or not innovative practices from 1989 still count as innovative practices in 2010.  True, some innovations practices never change.  Innovative uses of technology will always be innovative, but are different staffing methods such as the use of resource and lead teachers still innovative?  Maybe I’m biased because I have been involved with magnet schools throughout my whole education career.  Things that I take for granted are may be seen as innovative practices by others.

Posted in education, instruction, magnet schools, teachers | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Free Edline Training for SuperUsers

Posted by magnethart on July 31, 2010

Did you know that you can get free training from EdLine on how to make the most of your school’s Edline account??  I participated in a live, online training today (ended up being just me and the trainer) and learned an amazing amount of information about what edline is capable of doing.  There are so many things that we are not using edline for such as school wide surveys, calendars for parents to see, online quizes and tests for individual classes and much more.  It looks like I’ll be developing a beginner level and adv/intermediate level training for teachers at Young on implementing edline into your classroom (beyond using it for grades).  Check out the link below for Edline’s online traing site and sign up for a training now.

EdLine Training Center

Posted in Professional Development | Leave a Comment »

Technology Integration Matrix

Posted by magnethart on July 31, 2010

Students at Lee Magnet Elementary use laptops during their learning time

This is a great resource to measure how well you are integrating technology into your classroom or at your school site.  Also has supporting videos.  This was developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (sounds like a place I need to look into a little more) out of the University of South Florida.

Check out the link for more information and to view the matrix.

Technology Integration Matrix

Posted in Classroom Technology, Ed Tech, instruction, teachers, technology | Leave a Comment »

Re-blog – Yeah, You’ve Got Problems. So Solve Them

Posted by magnethart on July 31, 2010

Great post from @willrich45 on his blog webblogg-ed.

Yeah, You’ve Got Problems. So Solve Them.

Also has a great clip from Apollo 13 at the end.

I tend to run into a lot of these same comments during my trainings.  And I agree, often times they are not thrown out as a problem to solve, but as a road block to say why something can’t be done.

As I embark on a new role and focus on providing professional development at Young Middle, I’m going to keep these comments in mind.  Instead of getting to the point of saying “what about the digital divide that is present at our school?”, I’m going to say, “Okay, so now what?  What are we going to do to fix it?”

Posted in Classroom Technology, Ed Tech, Professional Development, teachers, technology | Leave a Comment »

Free Webinars from SMART Technologies

Posted by magnethart on July 31, 2010

Check out the link below for a free webinar from SMART Technologies on creating interactive content for your SMARTboard.

“This free, on-demand webinar, A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Content for the SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard, is your opportunity to learn how you can create new revenue opportunities. You’ll find out how to convert your existing print content to digital formats that work on the SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard, the most widely used interactive whiteboard i the world.”
From SMART Technologies

Watch the webinar here.

Posted in Classroom Technology, Ed Tech, Professional Development, teachers, technology, training | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hillsborough Goes Collaborative

Posted by magnethart on July 31, 2010

Hillsborough County Public Schools is getting ready to release the Collaborative Communities portion of OpenText FirstClass software used for e-mail and internal communications.  The current client version of the software allows for the creation of conferences where information can be focused and shared but a difficult platform for collaboration.  The new OpenText Social Workplace environment brings the benefits of Web 2.0 to the FirstClass environment.  Rather than go into the details myself, check out the video below for some of the great features that are included in this update.

(For some reason I’m having trouble embedding the video so click on the link below instead)

Opentext Social Work Place

I can only speculate at the direction we will head with this product.  Obviously there will be a learning curve for many teachers in the district who are not familiar with web 2.0 and social networking.  I also think there will need to be some significant discussions regarding appropriate and responsible use now that teachers will have the ability to post their own blogs on their profile page.  We are moving in the right direction. It is important now to consider what we need to focus on when providing professional development to teachers who are going to be using the new FirstClass Collaborative Communities environment.

To begin with, teachers need to understand what it means to be a Digital Citizen.  There are several resources online about digital citizenship.  A great resource for information about digital citizenship and curriculum for your schools is Common Sense Media.  I’ll be going into more about digital citizenship in later posts so stay tuned.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

HP Multiseat and Thin Client Solutions

Posted by magnethart on June 5, 2010

I was recently able to participate in a product demonstration for HP’s new Multiseat and Thin Client technology.  These two new pieces of tech offer some great options for schools wanting to establish new computer labs or refurbish an old one.  The goal of these two technologies is to provide computer environments that go above and beyond the typical desktop environment while also providing a lower cost and easier tech support (both of which I can appreciate).  HP wants to help educators move away from teacher centric learning, to more personal, student centric learning.

The multiseat system allows multiple users to work off of one central computer while sitting at their own “station”.  The station only consists of a monitor, keyboard, mouse and MS t100 Thin Client.  When I say Thin Client, I mean thing.  It resembles a KVM switch in size and shape and provides ports for PS2 mouse and keyboard, and VGA monitor.  The unit draws power from the included 15’ USB cable that plugs into the MS6000 Desktop unit.  Depending on the configuration you choose, the MS6000 may run up to 9 stations.  The MS6000 runs a new version of Windows Server 2010 specifically designed to be used for Multiseat situations.  The current internet list price for a complete setup of 9 stations (1 Master Workstation and 8 stations) runs at about $481.50/station (this is without education pricing).

With cost being an obvious advantage over current desktop prices (around $950 for comparable system), size and fewer network connections, no other feature stood out to make this a new must have lab system.  The current version does not support domain login or the ability of the teacher to see what is students or doing on each workstation, and there was some serious lag when all computers accessed youTube.  The current system also does not support the use of USB at each of the stations, only the master station.  This means no thumb drive use for students.  The goal of a computer lab for me would be one that allows students to work on sites like xtranormal or Glogster without bogging down the system. It also had issues with running graphics heavy applications like DimensionM due to only having a single graphics processor to run all stations from. Some of these issues are slated to be worked out in the next software release but I always say why buy now when you know there are features that you want but don’t have yet.  I do think this product has a great future and I can see replacing a few labs with it, it’s not there yet.

The other solution that was presented at the product demonstration is the HP ThinClient with TeachNow software.  Rather than the Multiseat system which uses the resources from one machine for all stations, the ST5742 Thin Client has its own processor and RAM, but no disk drives.  The Thin Client solution requires only one server for the lab to run while each station gets a Thin Client, monitor, keyboard and mouse.  The operating system is pushed from the server at the beginning of the session and runs from the RAM in the client.  All other hardware is virtualized and runs from the server.  Because the images are pushed to the client at the beginning of each session, this provides for a great amount of flexibility in lab use.  Each period could have a different image depending on what they class is.  I was not able to test the Thin Client setup on YouTube like the Multiseat system as we were not able to get an outside connection at the time from the demo area.  I would think that this system would perform much better however since you are not trying to pull data, graphics, and processing power all from one location through separate USB cables.  These are still not full blown PC’s however; they are powered by an Intel Atom N280 and still pull software over the network so I wouldn’t try running Adobe Premiere or AutoCAD on all machines in the lab at the same time.  Each thin client is connected through a subnet to the server which is then connected to the network.  This allows for the teacher to control everything including pushing images through the subnet without affecting the entire network.  HP Thin Client also comes with the optional TeachNow software.  TeachNow is HP’s learning management system specifically designed to work with Image Manager and Thin Clients.  I don’t see TeachNow as a necessary purchase if you are already using an LMS like Moodle or Elluminate.  The internet price point for the Thin Client is a little more than the Multiseat coming in at $556.40 per seat in a 30 station setting (30 stations plus server).  This cost does not include the switch you would net to create your subnet.

All in all, I would prefer the Thin Client setup for a new lab (although neither setup came out as a must have to me).  The Thin Client offered more flexibility in computer setup with the option of different images for different types of classes.  Both setups showed great improvements in power consumption with the Multiseat unit only using 7W and the Thin Client 17W*, much lower than a standard power unit in a desktop machine.  I’m not ready to purchase either one yet.  I’ve never been one to jump in on the first version of a new technology.  These both have plenty of room to grow and I look forward to what HP plans to do with these two new lab setups.

*Some notes and statistics for this were taken directly from the initial presentation so I don’t have links for them.

Posted in Ed Tech, education, Lab, technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tweet to Learn, Learn to tweet

Posted by magnethart on May 24, 2010

Students taking a computerized exam

A few months back, an article was posted by Edweek called “Twitter, YouTube Become Classroom Tools”.  Because of Edweeks agreement with the Associated Press, the article has since been removed.

Luckily, through a nice little Google search, I was able to find the article at out of Kentucky.  After reading the part of the article about students writing a 140 character summary of their daily lesson and then posting it on their class twitter, I decided to sit down and put some directions together so that teachers in my own district could use this idea within their own classroom.  I really like the idea of parents being able to follow what is happening in their student’s classrooms.  If they subscribed to the feed, they can get the updates instantly.

Not only is this a great way to encourage parent communication in the classroom, it is a great learning tool for students.  It requires that students reflect on the days activities.  A form of 21st century metacognition.  Metacognition helps students realize what they have learned that day and gives them a quick summary to look back at when trying to recall information later on.  It also provides the teacher with a quick snapshot of what the students got from the lesson and whether or not they are reaching the objective that was intended.

I’ve included a link to the the directions I’ve created on using Twitter in the classroom in .pdf form.  If you would like a copy to edit, please comment or contact me on twitter and I will get one to you.

Tweet To Learn

Posted in Classroom Technology, Ed Tech | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »