Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today.. a tale of technology woes...

I love technology... when it works. Technology is not always reliable... after all, it's just a bunch of ones and zeros that have been manipulated in a variety of ways by programmers so that I can create and edit movies, download and edit digital photographs, create documents, and communicate through a variety of methods (voice, email, web, chat, etc).

The past 2 days have been a bit challenging. In the midst of backing up my files to a portable hard drive early Monday morning (after working through the weekend on a variety of back to school tasks) ... the hard drive on my Powerbook stopped responding when I tried to stop the copying process since it was taking longer than I had expected. When I couldn't stop the process, I chose to "force quit" and relaunch the Finder to get out of the "copying" mode. The computer would not cooperate and I needed to leave for work, so I chose to simply "shut down" the computer.

And now, so sad to report, I have not been able to start it back up. I haven't had a great deal of time to try the various utilities (such as Disk Warrior), but preliminary measures (booting in "target" mode and Safe booting) have been fruitless. I am becoming less confident that I will actually be able to get my data back. I am pretty diligent about backing up at least monthly, and usually archive important files as I create them (to a server or some portable device), just in case of a technolgy failure, so I only stand to lose a few weeks worth of work.

We were also plagued by network glitches today. Our well-planned roll out of Tiger, and Open Directory services has taught us a thing or two. Teachers and staff are becoming restless, it's amazing how much we actually depend on this stuff.

To top it off, I created a nifty movie to present to our back to school celebration this evening, and when playing in full screen mode from iMovie, through a data projector, the soundtrack would simply not keep up with the video... what's with that!? I was presenting from a brand new MacBook with nothing else running, and having almost 30 GBs of free hard drive space. How disappointing and a tad embarassing, since I "am" the technology person.

Oh well, unless you're dead, you can recover from the worst that happens. I hope tomorrow is less problematic.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Videogrunt and Podgrunt --

From the Silicon Valley in California, comes the "grunt" series. I learned about this in the periodic "Apple news" email that I receive. These short episodes are creatively presented in plain English! Whether you are a new or seasoned user of video, this is a great series.

"Videogrunt is an innovative, free video podcast--illustrates the basics of digital video, delivered in short snippets. The informative 'grunt' clips are produced in high-definition video and then scaled down to size for viewing on the gruntmedia website, your personal computer or a video-capable iPod."

Learn something new about video by watching the first four "videogrunt" podcasts.

And, if you follow the links on this page, you will be able also subscribe to the "podgrunt" series.

What a great introductory series on the basics of video and audio to share with teachers and students!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Classroom collaboration online

Last Friday I presented a workshop for the ICE summer series on Classroom Collaboration Tools. Our focus was primarily the use of blogs and wikis, although we briefly looked at the social bookmarking and photo sharing sites (mentioned here previously).

I am particularly fond of wikis as a classroom tool. Teachers can easily create a wiki page for their classrooms and assign student (individually or in teams) to the task of being the "scribe" or notetakers for the day. The wiki environment allows teachers and other students to make corrections, or add to the work of the scribe.

Students can visit the wiki to review the class notes, or answer questions that may need to be clarified. At the end of the course, there is a day to day, or week to week record of what was covered. Wikis can be password protected, editors can elect to have changes emailed to them, and the history of changes and additions make it easy to manage.

Two online sources for creating wikis are and For the summer workshop, I created a pbwiki page at: -- when you visit the pbwiki site, you will discover that it literally takes only 10 seconds to create a wiki page! The other source I would recommend is, which allows the wiki owner to password protect the information, plus limit who can view the wiki. Check out this Georgia teacher's wikispace for ideas on how wikis can catapult your classroom into the 21st century!