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Web Accessibility Seminar in Anchorage November 12, 2009

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in access, classroom_tech, conference reportout, education.
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Sitting in a web accessibility seminar in Anchorage, hosted at and by UAA. We’re talking about maginification systems, pros and cons, right now. Spent some time a little earlier talking about using a screen reader like JAWS.

I got lots of cool links for places to check out software and such for computer access, but now I’m really excited – they’re talking about PDF accessibility. I really want to use PDF more, but need to know how to make them WAY more accessible. Should use this to train folks at the office, as well.

embracing tech in the classroom May 13, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in classroom_tech, education, the vision thing.
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I wonder, sometimes, why this is not the norm. Why is this even newsworthy? Because it is NOT the norm. It is not the way most teachers teach. Bravo to this teacher, but how about spreading that integration of technology into the rest of the school, the district, the state?

It’s all very well that this teacher inspires his students and engages them by using the technology they see as integral to their lives. It would be even better if the leaders of the system, the power players, saw this as well. Perhaps this guy will become a principal someday, or a superintendent, and take this way of teaching to larger and larger groups.

Maverick teacher bridges the digital divide: Education | adn.com

But he is also a maverick who believes his first job is to entertain before teach and who pushes his colleagues to embrace the culture of students — that means not just performing to keep their attention but integrating their technology into the classroom.

“Kids go home and have very, very busy lives,” he says, pointing out that they text and instant-message on their phones and computers and spend hours on their MySpace pages.

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If teachers dont tap into that dedication to technology, they arent reaching their students, he says.

Warren has taught using Global Positioning System devices. Hes helped his students write a guide to geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS, for the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau. And, next year, if all goes according to plan, his students will be reading a core curriculum book using their iPods.

He plans on giving iQuizzes.

“Theres a digital gap between adults and kids these days,” he says. “And if teachers dont stay at the front end of it, were going to lose.”

I, Cringely Knows Best April 7, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in education, the vision thing.
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I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Ozzy Knows Best | PBS

The question that has so far gone unanswered in this series, then, is how will we learn in the future?

Its easy for old farts like me to assume everybody will learn the way we did, but thats unlikely simply because the underlying assumptions are changing. When I was a kid human labor was cheap and technology was expensive. Today technology is cheap and getting cheaper, while human labor is expensive and becoming more so. Yet our model of education technology is still so defined by that remembered Apple IIe in the corner of the classroom that is it difficult for many to imagine truly pervasive educational technology.

This is in large part because there is no way that Apple IIe or any PC is going to somehow expand to replace books and teachers and classrooms. For education, the personal computer is probably a dead end. Its not that we wont continue to have and use PCs in schools, but the market and intellectual momentum clearly lie elsewhere.

So forget about personal computers: the future of education probably lies with digital games.

the changing face of I(nstructional) T March 28, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in education, the vision thing.
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I think Cringely has a ton of insight when it comes to the tech sector. Here he is weighing in on Instructional technology and the effect mass-market technologies is playing in our school system. What do you think?

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . War of the Worlds | PBS

I started writing educational software in 1978. The role of instructional technology has changed since then from a gimmick to a novelty to an effort to an essential component of any curriculum. Kids can’t go to school today without working on computers. But having said that, in the last five years more and more technical resources have been turned to how to keep technology OUT of our schools. Keeping kids from instant messaging, then text messaging or using their phones in class is a big issue as is how to minimize plagiarism from the Internet. These defensive measures are based on the idea that unbound use of these communication and information technologies is bad, that it keeps students from learning what they must, and hurts their ability to later succeed as adults.

But does it?

These are kids who have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. But far more important, there is emerging a class of students whose PARENTS have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. The Big Kahuna in educational discipline isn’t the school, it is the parent. Ward Cleaver rules. But what if Ward puts down his pipe and starts texting? Well he has.