Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tool # 4 Moving Up To The Clouds

As I recall, we tried a collaboration using Google Docs last August during staff development.  It did not go well with 4 or 5 groups participating in real time.  To me this sounds great, but the idea of real time edits by more than one person seems destined to pull the Chaos Theory lever - you might end up all cherries, but then again, might not.

My favorite was the Google Forms app.  I immediately thought of Quinton Freeman's "I need/I provide" spreadsheet for testing time.  I liked the quiz generator - I currently have seniors write potential test questions from their notes after a lecture (notes have limited use for prelims, but a list of possible test questions, that's a way to prepare). In future, I could see students taking notes, generating their own questions online, then I would cull these to produce quizzes.  I could see pointing out things they missed in the lecture (adding questions they missed), a push  for them to take better notes for the next topic.

I just had to laugh. I got into Google Apps, thinking "this is new," and got the message "Google Docs is being replaced by Google Drive."  Talk about a quick change.  Then I realized I had been there before, when I recognized the special ed documents I had received and been trained on earlier in the year!  If you don't use it, you lose it.  That raises a question - when will last year's SpEd docs be purged?

I could see producing a department equipment purchase/replacement spreadsheet by sending forms to team members with description, source, unit price, number required, etc.

It's interesting, learning to use an iPAD, I can see just how badly Google wants to compete with Apple. Somebody gonna win, somebody gonna lose.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tool # 3.4 Dropbox

My Principles of Engineering (POE) course requires students to keep detailed engineering notebooks, as well as portfolios of their work, devices built, programs written, etc.  Using our iPADs as cameras, students will take snapshots of their builds, send to my Dropbox, download to classroom computers, edit (change resolution to WAY SMALL for printing), and print photos to paste in their notebooks, bigger prints for portfolios.  Students can make short How-To videos for construction techniques, put them into a powerpoint, submit for a grade, etc.  Last year, I didn't even have a digital camera.

This year, we should make narrative videos of our two field trips, Bridges (fall), and Bluebell (spring).
I will practice doing this with my iPAD tomorrow.

Tool # 3.3 Copyright and Fair Use

Texaco had an exploration and production research lab where I worked for 20 years. Like all good labs there was a library, with three M.S. and one PhD librarians. We had a century of bound journals, and any book we might want (big oil has big bucks).  When I wanted to write a report about some region or oilfield, I would go look up the articles in an index, retrieve the bound volumes, and photocopy the 10 or 20 articles (2-30 pp. each), take them back to my office, read them, use them, write the report, and file them in case more work was required, or in case someone wanted the source material as a follow-on.  All of this was considered Fair Use by Texaco, and by all the other oil companies, too.  After all, it was Research!

In the late '80s we got taken to court over fair use, and the upshot was that our research was for our profit, not for the greater good of the masses, so it was not fair use.  The fine being $200 per page of illegal copying (it's probably more now), Texaco settled for an undisclosed sum, and we started logging all our copies - make an extra copy of the title page and post who, what, how many, etc. on the back; these were submitted to a clearing house who collected royalties from us and disbursed them to the owners, wholesale.

People, this is a very big deal.

The problem for us is that we think "it's for EDUCASHUN, PUBLIC EDUCASHUN, our kids NEEEED it.

I expect we will get in trouble first with our brethren edumacators who have become consultants and make a living off of the content they provide.  I expect big text publishers (Pearson, McGraw) will be right behind them for all of that content they provide, just as soon as our subscriptions run out.

We will need to make sure that when we clone material on 4, 8, 16 iPADs or notebooks, we have license to do so for the correct number of devices.
SBISD has a list of software that is available district-wide, building wide, etc., but be careful - my "building license" for RobotC is only good for one class of computers (20? 30?), not every computer in the building.

Tool # 3.2 Videos to use in class

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 1 of 3 (6 minutes)

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 2 of 3 (7 minutes)

MythBusters Cell Phone vs. Drunk Driving, part 3 of 3 (4 minutes)

By selecting parts of MB episodes from YouTube, you cut out all of the other segments in that episode, leaving time for student reflection.  Whole episodes on DVD take an entire class period. This particular episode goes with a Reaction Time lab where students drop, and others catch, a meter stick; knowing freefall equations, distance is converted to time, their reaction time.  Of course, this episode should be mandatory for all young drivers, but we tell them it's for the science, so it doesn't seem like preaching.

Okay, now I'll try copying embed code from  If it works, this is really worth watching -cool science, for Physics OR Earth and Space Science.

Ahhhh, nuts! It didn't work. I pasted the html code here, but when I switched to compose, it wasn't here.

Here's the link, anyway:

Tool # 3.1 Video Sources

1. YouTube, I'm familiar with. Songs got me started, but I was shown clips on Physics that I could show my class; Mythbuster episodes are great science, especially when paired with Claim/Evidence/Reasoning, but DVD whole episodes mix two or three different topics, and take a whole class period; if you can find it on YouTube, you can do just one Mythbusters topic, the right topic, in 15-20 minutes.

TeacherTube was not initially very friendly, with long load times - may take getting used to.

SchoolTube was better organized, but light on content (I'll probably stick to YouTube).

KidsTube is too junior for High School upperclassmen

Discovery Education can be hit or miss on finding the right clip, and video quality stinks - pixellated!

In my experience, streaming works just fine, except during online testing weeks, and bandwidth seems to suffer after lunch, so downloading is the way to go during those times.

There are Physics video shorts on, and there are physics-through-sports clips available on the iPAD.

There are lots of Earth and Space Science resources at (US Geol. Survey) and  See my post on fair trade to see why .gov is such a good choice.

Instructions on how to download or embed video clips are "so easy," taking only 30 or 40 (mis-)steps each. I'm guessing that will take a. handholding, and b. practice.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tool # 2

Although I found Tool # 2 interesting, philosophy-of-blogging-and-commenting-wise, I felt a little like I had been thrown into deep water and told to "swim" in terms of the actual mechanics of getting it done.
I had trouble making a successful comment. Nobody there to walk me through it once.
That makes me apprehensive about doing #s 3-11 this summer.
Many of these tools look like ones that were in use a few years ago, but they are all slightly different in style, which leads me to believe we will be steered into one product, e.g. google, in order to minimize logins, passwords, styles, etc.  And who will be the new google, three years from now? Remember Netscape?

I can't see how I will moderate my blog - approve/delete comments (maybe I'm not set up right).

I liked Justin Wheeler's blog style, and may offer him something under the table to help me with mine...

The Google Reader instructions were voluminous, but it was easy to ignore most of these and put in several blogs...we'll see how easy it is to monitor a bunch of blogs that way.

I can't imagine wanting to get emails from more than one or two blogs. I'm already getting tons of email that are not exactly spam, from another source, but only a few of these end up providing me with useful information. I can see some very full mailboxes in the future.

BLOGS I ALREADY PERUSE REGULARLY:  Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle  Dwight Silverman at the Houston Chronicle

I'm not convinced it won't be easier to look at these two blogs on the website.