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EdTech Update





The digital backpack

There is an interesting article in this month’s Threshold (Cable in the Classroom) publication called The Digital Backpack.

In an exploded view, the electronic components in a student’s backpack are shown, revealing ten separate devices. But what is cool is that not just their common uses are described, but their potential educational uses as well.

For example, for an iPod/MP3 player the author notes:

Common Use:
Dance to your favorite song anywhere

but also

Learning Use:
- Record and play back teacher instructions
- Download a foreign-language radio broadcast or NASA science lesson
- Listen while reading to improve comprehension
- Help focus in a noisy room
- Compare recordings of a musical selection
- Store portfolio

I have two reactions. First, I love the fact that my personal vision of a true e-book seems to be getting closer and closer to reality. Most of the functions are in place, just not all in a single, affordable device.

But my other reaction is more worrisome. How many districts will put policies in place immediately to ban the in-school use of so many of these devices without discussing their educational values? Will we old people in schools be viewed even more readily by students as out of touch with reality? Will we have reasonable policies in place to deal with the use of these tools?

What will we as educators focus on? The problems or the potentials of the digital backpack? Knowing the reactionary view of most educators, I’m not betting on the potentials - at least in schools without good leadership.

Your thoughts?


Librarians and shoes - a male perspective

It is with no small degree of amusement that I’ve been following the “shoes” thread on LM_Net over the past couple days. I now know more about female librarians and their attitude toward footwear than I had ever expected or wanted to.

Like most guys I know, I devote about as much time to thinking about shoes as I do to thinking about circus elephants. Not very damn much. I do appreciate two things about women and their shoes
- I DO notice the lovely effect that a pair of high heels on the bearing of a woman, especially those “come hither” shoes (which also have a far ruder nickname).
- I have a special appreciation for tall women who wear heels. It just says something about their self-confidence that I admire.

Other than that, a woman can pretty much wear galoshes and I won’t notice. You want attention? Think low-cut blouses, tight skirts and a nice smile.

Now, how about guys’ shoes? There are three main qualifications a good guy shoe must have - comfort, comfort, and comfort. Slip-ons get bonus points for ease of use and convenience in airport security lines. (Although my rapid passage through security is too often delayed by the woman just ahead of me in the thigh-high lace-up moccasins who has obviously never flown before in her entire life.) As a guy you need two pairs of work shoes. One black. One brown. Any more than that you might be considered a metrosexual and teased by real guys unmercifully.

Here’s my advice to guys (and the women who dress them): Merrells right now are the best shoes going - bar none. They even come in a leather, polished finish that is a suitable compromise to dress shoes. They are pretty inexpensive, slip on, have lots of cushion, and last forever. I’ve got one style I like so much that I have two pairs in boxes in my closet identical to the pair I now wear just in case they stop making them.
As educators, I do think we show respect to our kids by dressing as professionally as possible. During the school year, I always wear a coat and tie and keep my Merrels polished. I always wear a coat and tie when presenting, hoping to fool people into thinking I am an authority since I look like one.

I am not sure the authority ruse works. A few years back, I found myself one morning in a hotel room in Massachusetts (pre-Merrell days) staring at the two black dress shoes I’d just pulled from my bag - both of them left footers. I had no choice but to wear the tennis shoes I’d worn on the plane with my suit and tie that day. I apologized for the shoes at the beginning of talk, but received several comments from librarians on how much they liked “the look.” Go figure.

Do women really look at guys’ shoes?
Doug–I hate to disillusion you but, for women, shoes are not worn for men 98% of the time. They are worn for oneself–and other women. Other women? Women are brutal about checking out other women much more throughly than we check out guys. Yes, we notice your shoes and polish does count. And “the look” matters.

But checking out other women–there are many more criteria! And “sensible” is an OK comment to get though those sensible shoes still have to be appropriate. But “stylish” and “NICE!” rate higher scores on the rubric. Style AND comfort are the challenge for women’s shoe shopping.

I understand that there are women who can travel with only two pairs of shoes but I am not one of them. Five day trip? Five to seven pairs, day and evening wear. Luckily my feet are small and I can tuck shoes in easily. Some women pack a smal suitcasse with nothing but shoes.

For ourselves? Well, the right shoe has the same effect on most women as the right underwear. Heel height does make us walk differently, but strappy shoes are bare for a reason. Think of them as visible lingerie… worn mostly for ourselves. Merrells would be OK for work with slacks but that’s about it. I prefer slides with no backs which be removed easily while sitting. Or while going through airport security. I wore boots and jeans to travel to AASL in Indy, my first airtrip after 9/11…they were packed on the way home!

Time to soak my feet for a pedicure…

Now you know MORE about shoes and women than you probably need to know.

Think of Daniel Pink and that toilet brush. Why not choose shoes with lovely design when there are two comfortable pairs to choose from?

Comment by SaraKellyJohns — August 27, 2005 @ 8:21 am

You mean it’s not always about us guys? I’m heartbroken. Thanks for the comments. I am SO glad I’m a guy.

Comment by Administrator — August 27, 2005 @ 11:17 am

Guys wear shoes? Guys look below the knee? I agree with Sara. Recently I took control of my shoe buying. No more trying on 50 pairs while my husband watched. He ALWAYS chose the heavy German shoes that make my legs tired lifting them and left blisters by the second day. This summer I chose a frivolous pair of white sandals with a huge plastic flower on top and glittery beads. One inch heel and no back. Definitely not practical. My children thought I’d lost my mind. When I brought them home I explained that I had bought these so when I went to a Weight Watchers meeting with women, they didn’t glance and dismiss me. I even painted those toes. The shoes have been a huge hit and, yes, I have worn them to school several times. Children clap when they see these shoes. My husband asks me daily, “Did anyone comment on your shoes?” He is amazed that every day I get a complement.
Why is this relevant? When I first began storytime in the library, I discovered the little ones were always trying to take my shoes off my feet while I was reading. Being a cute little 23 year old, I had ruby red slippers, many Chinese embroidered ballet like shoes, and my favorite Kangaroo leather boots with my J ‘heart’ D down the side (for the first husband’s declaration of love on my birthday). Children love shoes. I grew up in Iowa and was always told it was unseemly to show toes in a professional position. SAS shoes were the expected. Practicality ruled. Living in the south, I have discovered that toe rings are conversation pieces and if I put a sticker on the sole of my shoe, Warren may spend the entire lesson time trying to see which sticker it is instead of poking his neighbor.
Comment by Diane Chen — September 13, 2005 @ 10:58 pm


Cell phones and the benefit of the doubt

I really dislike cell phones. They seem to have enabled a good many people a convenient way of letting other people know they will be late along with other ways of passing problems on. This is why I never give my cell phone number out - I only use the phone to harass others.

A cell phone rings during nearly every workshop or presentation I do. Despite the admonitions and the availability of phones that vibrate rather than ring, at least one person either accidentally or purposefully leaves the phone on and off it goes.

Yeah, such interruptions are annoying, but an incident a few years ago changed the way I react them. The session was rolling, the phone warbled, and an embarrassed looking lady scrambled for the device deep in her purse then quickly hurried from the room. My standard quip in such cases, which on reflection probably sounded pretty darned sarcastic, was, “Hmmm, must be a very important person.” And then went on with the talk.

After the session appeared, the lady came up and apologized. As it turns out, her husband was having serious health problems and she was scared to death it was him (or the hospital calling.) On hearing this and remembering my snide comment, I shrunk from 6’ 3” to about 2” in a heartbeat.

Since that time, I’ve decided to give people the benefit of the doubt regarding calls received in public. Doubtless there are plenty of bores out there who receive calls that no sane person would regard as important or urgent, But I guess we all gave different measures of important and urgent.

This afternoon outside Baltimore, a phone rang in the session I was going for BCPS librarians (who are about as nice, dedicated, smart and involved group as anyone hope to work – led by the very able Della Curtis.) The lady apologized, It was her son. His pet hamster had died and he needed to talk to his mom about it. In the greater scheme of things, whatever that mom said, I’m sure, were more important that I had said all day.