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EdTech Update





Your holiday reading list

Everywhere we look, we see screens. The other day I watched clips from a movie as I pumped gas into my car. The other night I saw a movie on the backseat of a plane. We will watch anywhere. Screens playing video pop up in the most unexpected places — like A.T.M. machines and supermarket checkout lines and tiny phones; some movie fans watch entire films in between calls. These ever-present screens have created an audience for very short moving pictures, as brief as three minutes, while cheap digital creation tools have empowered a new generation of filmmakers, who are rapidly filling up those screens. We are headed toward screen ubiquity. Kevin Kelly, "Becoming Screen Literate"

Like many of you, I have a four-day weekend fast approaching. After feeding the 25 hungry Johnsons and Hansons descending on the house tomorrow, I expect to have a little time to read and relax. Oh wait, my daughter's family including the grandsons are staying on for a couple days. (I am NOT complaining, mind you.)

So let me rephrase that - you may have a little time to read and relax. Here are three interesting publications that you might want to spend a few minutes with.


"Becoming Screen Literate" by Kevin Kelly appeared this week in the New York Times. As my friend John Dyer (who pointed this article out to me) suggests that Kelly's observations support my prediction of us becoming a post-literate society. My question is "What metamorphosis do libraries need to undertake when the primary means of communication, information, and culture moves from print to video? (Kim Cofino at Always Learning has some interesting comments about this article too.)


A certain familiarity with what the Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocates in terms of, uh, 21st century skills is necessary to make much sense of this, but the organization's recently released Transition Brief: Policy Recommendations on Preparing Americans for the Global Skills Race is worth a look. (Joyce Valenza has a good summary and comments on the NeverEndingSearch.) Here is the scary bit that jumped out at me:

3. The United States faces two student achievement gaps. So far, the nation is only paying attention to one of them—inadequately. For the past decade, the United States has focused nationally on closing achievement gaps between the lowest- and highest-performing students, and between the poorest and most affluent. This is a legitimate and critical objective, and one that is putting proficiency in reading, mathematics and science within reach of millions more students.

Equally important, however, is the global achievement gap between U.S. students— including our top-performing students—and their international peers in competitor nations. U.S. students fare poorly compared to their counterparts on international assessments, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). These results are economically significant. Countries that do well on PISA, which measures 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, have demonstrated higher increases in GDP growth than countries that do not, according to a series of studies by Stanford researchers.

An unintended consequence of progress in closing national achievement gaps has been a lack of attention to the global achievement gap—and to the growing competitive demand for advanced skills. Going forward, the nation must redress these circumstances by redefining rigor as mastery of both academic subjects and 21st century skills. This is not an either–or agenda.

Where is your district putting its resources? Basic skills or 21st century skills?


Did I say three recommendations? Oh, the heck with it. Go have a second piece of pumpkin pie and just one more little piece of turkey. Read something for fun - and get some cranberry sauce on the pages.

Think about how thankful we should all be for our problems and the people who create them. Without challenges, the world would be a very dull place and our brains would get no exercise.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Oh, this is how the Ovation gas pump pictured above is described on the manufacturer's website:

The Dresser Wayne Ovation2 iX fuel dispenser is an Internet-ready, WiFi-capable gas pump with a 15-inch touchscreen and speakers, which enables the transfer of media content to other WiFi-enabled devices. The demonstration at CES will feature a Microsoft Windows Automotive-enabled Alpine Electronics stereo and navigation system installed in a Lincoln Navigator. As part of the demo, audio files will be purchased and downloaded from the Dresser Wayne fuel dispenser to a compatible media device (cell phone or entertainment system) and then played through the Alpine IVA-W200 stereo system installed in the vehicle.

The Dresser Wayne fuel dispenser, Alpine Electronics stereo and navigation system, and cell phone all easily integrate via their common Microsoft Windows CE platform, .NET framework, and Bluetooth.

No mention of whether it actually dispenses gasoline.



Fair use scenario - Mr. Opus and the digital cameras

In a continuing series of scenarios that explore educational fair use issues.

Left Overshoe Elementary School is putting on the play Annie. The performance rights are for two live shows only. In the past the school has allowed parents to videotape during performances. Mr. Opus, the music director, is worried that parts of these homemade videos will wind up on YouTube or on Facebook pages. He has suggested to the principal that videotaping not be allowed. The principal sees such a ban as a public relations nightmare and decides to allow taping.

  1. What is the copyrighted material? Who owns it?
  2. Does the use of the work fall under fair use guidelines? Is the use transformational in nature? Can this be considered "educational" use?
  3. What is your level of comfort in helping create such a product? Are there any changes or limits you might like to see that would make you more comfortable with this project?

Your level of comfort with this use of copyrighted materials: High 5 4 3 2 1 Low

You comments are most welcome.

It's a hard knock life (especially for tech directors)...



Picasso generator


Bring out your inner cubist...

From Mr. Picassohead