Friday, February 25, 2011

iPads... They suck... Well, Maybe They're OK... Well; How Much For One?...

     Well, this is a video for anyone who thinks an iPad would be tough to learn how to use.  This video is of my son Cory, who's just shy of 2 years old.  He saw his Auntie Janie playing with her iPhone, and then saw his Daddy looking at pictures on his iTouch.  That was enough, he became an expert.  As a huge Toy Story fan, I had no choice to find some kind of app for him to play with.  I think he saw it twice before he decided he knew where it was and how to get at it.  This is one of the first few times he tried to find it on his own. 
     Now, backtracking a little bit, I shall give a quick blab about what I thought of the iPad. 

I didn't like it.  How's that?  Plain and simple enough?  I have a calendar that has important dates written on it.  Any assignments or information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) are stored on my laptop, desktop, and cell phone.  Most homework I do requires a word processor, so a keyboard is essential and I know how to type pretty well, so if I don't have the "bumpy" f and j keys I'll never know where my fingers are.  With my life being setup on other devices already, the iPad was nothing more that a large gaming device.

     Fast forward to my views today....

I've got a 2 year old (as of Feb 26, 2011) who can open it and find an interactive book with no troubles.  He read through (and by reads through, I  mean listens to) it and does the activities such as; colouring, singing, and games.  That's a great start!!   But, to make it even better for me, I have a 9 year old who came home from school with a load of math homework he didn't want to do (he's just learning the multiplication table now) and a test score he was not overly happy with.  2 minutes later, I had a math ninja app on the go... if he wants to kill those evil robotic animals, he has to power up with multiplication questions first!  We'll see how this goes over this coming week.

     Yes, i guess its safe to say that I'm starting to come around.  I'm starting to see the merits of having a nice device like this around the house.  It's just too bad that I won't have the opportunity to take it student teaching with me and see what kind of applications it'll have in the classroom... (insert sad, guilt the ICT prof, kinda face here).  I wouldn't mind seeing what kind of online textbooks are available for it (if anybody is aware of a good free online text book, let me know).  I may not be rushing out to the store to buy one, but it's safe to say, I'm a lot more keen on watching what the future holds for the iPad...  It would look good in my briefcase though.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Animoto Project & Praise To Dropbox

     So... here it is, my animoto video.

     This was an interesting project, and a lot of fun to use.  I really enjoyed how simplistic the animoto software was to use.  However, the true hero behind this project for me, was my friend dropbox!  As I sat in class, and all of the students were asked "did you remember to bring in the photos?"  It hit me.  I'm an idiot who didn't prepare any photos at all!  But, I somehow had enough sense to get on my cell phone, text my wife, tell her ask her to drop some photos from our home computer into dropbox, and WHAM!  My butt is saved, the assignment is completed, I look like a hero!

     For those of you who aren't familiar, I strongly urge you to check it out.  It's basically an online flash drive that you can access from any computer.  You can even share any folder of your choosing with one or more friends.  This can work out very conveniently when you have a group project to do, and google docs just ain't enough. 
     Dropbox even saved me from boredom when I was student teaching.  Was stuck at my pop's place for a month, nothing to do, no internet to access (yeah, I know... what is it?  the stone age?).  Luckily enough, the local McDonald's was a hot spot.  I got my wife to put a new movie in my folder once a week.  I probably would have gone nutz if not for that mental break.

But give it a shot... it could save your life someday too!

A Visit From George Couros

     On February 8, 2011, our class was priveleged enough to receive a visit from George Couros, a principal in Stony Plain Alberta.  He was able to take time out of his busy schedule to stop in and say hello to our classroom in Manitoba via Skype.  This method of contact with Mr. Couros was, simply put, all to appropriate.
     We were informed of how Mr. Couros likes to run his school by including large amounts of ICT.  Many of his students had access to laptops on a regular basis.  Many of his students communicated regularily on their blogs.  Social networking within his school was not looked down upon, but was rather encouraged.  We heard stories about his reaction to students getting around school safe guards, and stories about getting getting some good ICT minds to speak at his school.  There were plenty of good ideas shot around the room, such as identity days withing the school, and setting up alerts for becoming the first to hear if any new information about yourself was posted online.
     The session we had with Mr. Couros was a lot of fun, and very educational.  The only problem I had with this session was the realization at the end of it all...  that chances are I will not be teaching in a school that looks this openly on the internet and social networking.  Yes, I understand schools are moving in a positive direction to reach these levels, but most divisions I've worked with in the past are quite aways away. 
     I guess the silver lining I can take out of this is, at least there is evidence that some of our ICT goals are attainable.  Schools such as Mr. Couros' are essentially setting precedance, and making the fight for others a little easier.  When I do go out and find myself a job teaching.  If the school I'm at is not as technologically open as some examples I've seen.  I'll be keeping a close eye on schools such as Mr. Couros', and I will become a part of the fight for ICT. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Reintroduction To Facebook

     So, recently I welcomed myself back into the world of facebook.  I had an account, once upon a time, and was not overly in love with it.  I was getting bombarded with friend requests from people I barely knew, I was getting my "wall" (I didn't even know what the hell a "wall" was) absolutely filled with useless junk I didn't care about, I was getting my e-mail inbox flooded with updates, and I was gonna punch anyone I saw in person who kept inviting me to various groups or to answer a quiz about them.  To avoid this event from occurring, I simply walked away from facebook.

     My introduction back into facebook has been interesting thus far.  I see what is meant by facebook keeping everything!  I fired up my account in February of 2011, and as soon as I logged back in, it was as if I never left.  Every last post, picture and profile moment was sitting there as if I never left (my last post being some time in 2008).  Yup, facebook is just like herpes... that s**t stays with you forever.  Now I can definitely see why you've got to use extreme care and caution while using it.

     In the time since, I've had a chance to reconnect with 3 or 4 friends who I haven't talked to in a while.  Most notably a friend in Alberta and another in Korea.  As it stands yet, I'm not getting overly harassed with any games, groups, or other various invites.  I am still being cautious though.  It'll be interesting to explore the software and trying to find the various uses I can bring into my classroom.  It's only been a week and a half so far, but I'll try to keep all who follow my blog updated on my facebook adventures!!