Saturday, November 28, 2009

If It Isn't Broken....

If you haven't yet read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, MD, it is well worth the hour or so it will take. Change is inevitable and healthy. However, when you have something that works, why change it?

Perhaps one of the most eye opening experiences for me in my new role as K-12 Technology Integrator, is the dedication teachers have to certain applications. As a third grade teacher I could not wait to try something new, which is probably why the Technology Director asked me to test out Palm Pilots with my students. Having said that, with the ever increasing demands of standardized tests, new reading programs, additional benchmark testing, etc... sometimes teachers simply do not have time to check out newer applications.

Many of our teachers have loved the legacy application, ClarisWorks for Kids. When this school year ends, the program will be pulled from our images, along with its older sibling, Appleworks. Teachers have argued that there just aren't replacements that do what these programs do. I beg to differ. It might take a little time, but with the Web 2.0 world at our fingertips, and a Technology Integrator ready to assist, replacements can certainly be found.

I held off on publishing this post, and have made many edits before publishing because my intent is not to upset people, but to educate them. I finally decided to post when the Technology Director was going through some old software licensing documents and uncovered a letter dated 2002, stating that ClarisWorks for Kids had been abandoned by Apple three years earlier. It "might" work on OS9, although that was not the original intent. We are in the year 2009, running OS X and beyond. It is time to seek alternatives and move forward.

Oh, if you haven't seen Kidspiration.... it is worth a close look.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ENO Pointers

Our district recently purchased several ENO interactive boards, these boards are everything the teacher could possibly want.... durable, wireless, and magnetic! The computer connects via bluetooth to the stylus. The board itself is so durable that it can withstand dry erase and even permanent marker. Sounds great, right! Well, after installing 6 boards, we were having issues with everything just freezing up on us.

After getting in touch with Polyvision, I was given a number of troubleshooting steps to try, including changing batteries on the pen, trying a new driver, using the Polyvision bluetooth dongle instead of relying on the computer's build in bluetooth... PC, Mac, it did not matter. Problems persisted.

Polyvision sent a technician to assist us in our troubleshooting efforts. We discovered some minor tips that make a tremendous difference in the functionality of the boards. My only wish if that these tips were posted in BOLD on the ENO website. Our problems could really have been handled over the phone.

In an attempt to assist our teachers, I posted the tips here, on my wiki. I am pleased to report that we are up and running nicely! We run Smartboards, Promethean boards, and Polyvision Walk and Talks in addition to the ENO. It is crucial that boards "just work." Teachers do not have time to troubleshoot beyond the basics. For the sake of our teachers and students, I am hopeful that these basic steps have eliminated our problems.