Monday, March 30, 2009

Blackboard for the iPhone

I'm not a great fan of Blackboard, but it's great to see an LMS optimized for mobile devices. We need to see more of this - anyone working on iMoodle? Blackboard Brings LMS App to iPhone : March 2009 : THE Journal
Ed tech developer Blackboard has released a new LMS tool for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. The free app, Blackboard Learn for Apple iPhone, allows users to access information in their Blackboard accounts and to receive notices through their iPhones.

The new app is Blackboard's first entry into iPhone development. It lets users receive alerts about grades, tests, and assignments and access various other kinds of information and resources, such as course materials, rosters, course maps, and other educational tools.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Outreach 2009 Presentation

Here's a presentation I gave yesterday - Friday March 27th for our college's annual Outreach event. This is an event where we bring teachers and administrators from middle and high schools in our sending districts and share with them information on how to better prepare kids for college, college-level expectations, and strategies for better engaging the student of today. My piece focused on student engagement - here it is:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Are Humanities Profs More Relaxed?

Because they lecture from nice comfy lounge chairs ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Greening of Education

Lots of news - nationwide - regarding green, renewable, and sustainable energy activities. Great to see that it's happening not only in higher ed, but also in secondary education. I think it's really important to get our kids - the next generation - focused on tis topic.

What's your school doing?

College class inspires eco-friendly construction
Kyle Abney was a first-semester graduate student in building construction at the University of Florida when a class in sustainable development changed the focus of his career.

'It completely changed my life,' Abney said. 'It opened my eyes and made me see we needed to be doing things better in the construction industry. There was a lot of waste.'

Suddenly, building in a way that conserves resources and doesn't degrade the environment made sense.

Abney went on to become the first person in the United States to get a construction degree with a concentration in 'green building,' obtaining his master's in 2001. UF was the nation's first university to offer such a degree, and Abney was its first graduate.

Last year, the 33-year-old Abney founded his own company, Abney + Abney Green Solutions, a Palm City-based consulting firm. He and his wife, Harmony, are its sole employees.

Abney works with both residential and commercial construction projects, guiding them through the nationally known Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification process or if clients prefer, the Florida Green Building Coalition's standards.

Sussex school prepares 'green' studentsNorth Jersey Local News | North New Jersey -
When the Sussex County Vocational-Technical School dropped the ''vocational'' from its name and changed it to the Sussex County Technical School in the mid-1990s, school leaders envisioned that computers were indeed here to stay.

the Sparta school is jumping on a new trend -- the growing of the green industry -- as it prepares its students for the green-collar jobs of the future.

''This is the wave of the future. It's 21st century education,'' said superintendent Mark Toback. ''We're getting ready for a workplace that doesn't exist yet.''

The new emphasis, or ''general direction,'' as Toback calls it, on the green industry includes encouraging teachers to teach about more environmental issues and alternative energy sources in their classrooms.

The school will also explore ways to reduce its own dependence on oil, and make recommendations to the county freeholders about how an investment in new technologies would help save money in the long run.

Local campuses thinking green : La Crosse Tribune
Although it’s winter, local college campuses look greener than ever.

La Crosse campuses are promoting recycling and energy conservation initiatives this year. ‘In my eyes, the best place to set an example for everyone else in the community is at a university,’ said Matt Groshek, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior and environmental sustainability director for the UW-L Student Association.

UW-L students voted last year to tag an additional $5 per semester onto tuition for a Green Fund for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects.

Chancellor Joe Gow also signed the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan committing the university to environmental issues. One point was to set up practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction and environmentally sound operations.

Wind Turbine To Power Warren School -
The Warren school district broke ground Monday on the first wind turbine to be installed at a public school in Michigan.

The 30-foot Windspire turbine will be used to help power the Macomb Mathematic Science Technology Center.

According to the district, the turbine will also offer students the chance to research wind technology and study the future of using wind power to generate electricity for residential or commercial use.

'We're going to set up a computer to monitor the wind speeds and how much power we're actually getting from it,' said senior Lizzy Buchanan. 'So hopefully we'll inspire other schools.'

The students have already built a solar water pond.

Campus turbine gives Hood River teens the (wind) power –
They are teenagers who love science, who support alternative energy, who know old ideas about natural resources have to change.

With the installation this fall of a wind turbine next to the Henderson Community Stadium, the members of the Hood River Valley High School Earth Club not only turned their beliefs into practice but also learned a valuable lesson in community involvement.
The project, part of the curriculum for the school's alternative energy resources class, inspired the club's dozen members to brainstorm ways to make Hood River's famous wind really work for the local good.

To these teens and many of their generation, understanding and promoting alternative, renewable energy is a given. They want more recycling bins on school grounds and energetically embrace other green projects. Not to mention, they know they can play a bigger role for the environment by teaching their elders.

WTOC, Savannah, Georgia, news, weather and sports | High school going green with solar panel
Jenkins High School is harnessing the power of the sun with a new solar panel. The new solar panel not only saves the school money, but gives students a learning tool.

Georgia Power executive Mike Joyner was instrumental in getting the panel ready for Jenkins.

'Green energy has become more relevant in the county and a lot in school systems are trying to save money,' he said. 'Part of what we are doing is providing solar panels in classrooms to give students hands on application, something they can learn from look at and it promotes green energy.'

Phoenix school gets green makeover
In the computer lab at William R. Sullivan Elementary School, Joy Louis reached under a bank of computers to turn on a 'smart' power strip that will shut off electricity when the desktops aren't in use.

In another classroom, Doug Northway installed fluorescent tubes designed to use up to 30 percent less energy than those he was replacing.

The roof sports new solar panels, intended to save the school thousands of dollars and reduce carbon emissions.

In the courtyard below, students used crayons and markers to create drawings with their visions of energy sustainability.

Turning Green to Gold
Suffield High School recently became the recipient of a $20,000 grant awarded by Connecticut Light & Power in its 'Live Green, Win Green' contest.

The competition, which was open to all high schools in CL&P's service area, was developed to encourage high school students to conserve energy and protect the environment.

To enter, students had to submit a two-minute video and a 1,000-word essay demonstrating their school's 'green' programs and new initiatives they would like to use the grant money for. The Earth Science Club entered the competition for Suffield High School.

'It really seemed like a good way to get all these guys to think about these issues,' said teacher and club mentor Justin Kaput.

The Future of Journalism?

Can your journalism students do all of this?

Final Front Page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Newspaper Death Watch
"‘We don’t have reporters, editors or producers—everyone will do and be everything. Everyone will write, edit, take photos and shoot video, produce multimedia and curate the home page,"

Computer Science Programs Make a Comeback in Enrollment

I'm not sure that this trend has impacted us yet. While our enrollments seem to have stabilized, I'd love to see some growth in Networking, IT, and Computer Science. I don't expect to ever get back back to the pre dot-com bust numbers, but some growth would be nice.
Computer Science Programs Make a Comeback in Enrollment -
For the first time in six years, enrollment in computer science programs in the United States increased last year, according to an annual report that tracks trends in the academic discipline.

The revival is significant, according to computer scientists and industry executives, who in the past have pointed to declining numbers of science and engineering students as a canary-in-a-coal-mine indicator warning about the nation’s weakening ability to compete in the global economy.

The number of majors and pre-majors in American computer science programs was up 6.2 percent from 2007, according to the Taulbee Survey, an annual survey conducted by the Computing Research Association following trends in student enrollment, degree production, employment and faculty salaries for computer science, computer engineering and schools of information in the United States and Canada.

State of the IT Profession 2009

Some interesting thoughts from Jason Hiner at Global Knowledge. Do you teach your students how to streamline, automate, and find new efficiencies? How about teaching them how to demonstrate or make a case for the ROI of a project? What about a focus on maintaining older equipment? Looks like these could all be valuable skills to have in the current economy.

Sanity Check: State of the IT Profession 2009
Areas of strength
  • From our 2008 salary report to our 2009 report, the average base salary for IT pros increased 10% from $73,900 to $81,600 (see full comparison below). IT remains a very well-paid profession.

  • In our 2009 report, 78% of IT workers said they were Satisfied, Very Satisfied, or Extremely Satisfied with their jobs. IT remains a rewarding career path.
  • While the number of respondents reporting raises and bonuses dropped in this year's salary report, the amounts of those raises and bonuses increased in both cases. While this is partially due to a larger number of senior IT leaders in the survey, it also goes to show that many companies are likely providing additional compensation to their top performers in order to keep happy during these trying times that often mean long hours and fewer resources.

  • For the fifth straight year, 'improving business processes' was the number one priority of respondents in the Gartner CIO survey. IT departments are still focused on driving efficiency and productivity gains.

  • In the Gartner survey, only 21% of CIOs reported a cut in 2009 IT budgets, while 46% reported a slight increase and 23% reported no change. Over two-thirds of IT departments have the same or slightly higher funding than last year.

  • Despite the fact that many organizations are laying off workers - and IT is not immune to those job cuts - there are still lucrative IT specialties that are in strong demand this year, according to Veritude. Their 2009 survey cited Business Intelligence, Enterprise Solutions (SAP, PeopleSoft), and C Programmers (C, C++, C#) as examples of three hot IT specialties.

  • As businesses tighten their belts, they are looking to IT to streamline, automate, and find new efficiencies. In some cases, this is saving jobs in IT by helping reduce the number of needed positions in other departments.

  • In Veritude's survey, 38% of IT departments plan to decrease their staff in 2009, compared to only 4% in 2008 (see further details in the chart below).

  • In the TechRepublic salary survey, the number of respondents who reported receiving raises decreased from 80% in 2008 to 70% in 2009
    Meanwhile, the number of respondents who reported receiving a bonus decreased from 49% in 2008 to 43% in 2009.

  • In an effort to conserve costs, many companies will delay upgrade cycles and hold on to older equipment for longer than usual. This results in greater strain on IT operations to keep the equipment running and it increases the risk of unplanned downtime due to equipment failure.

  • Nearly all expensive, long-term IT projects are being put on hold. In most organizations, the only IT projects that are getting approved are the ones that show clear and immediate ROI.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Harvard College's Introduction to Computer Science I

Great example of a course put together with audio and video.
Harvard College's Computer Science 50: Introduction to Computer Science I:
Computer Science 50: Introduction to Computer Science I is a first course in computer science at Harvard College for concentrators and non-concentrators alike. More than just teach you how to program, this course teaches you how to think more methodically and how to solve problems more effectively. As such, its lessons are applicable well beyond the boundaries of computer science itself. That the course does teach you how to program, though, is perhaps its most empowering return. With this skill comes the ability to solve real-world problems in ways and at speeds beyond the abilities of most humans.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

10G Over Copper

Looks like advances in technology are going to allow 10 Gigabit per second connections over copper cabling with RJ45 connectors. Not having to rely on fiber and proprietary connectors could spur an explosion in high-speed Internet. CommsDesign - Tips and Trends: Make copper viable at 10G
Dependence on optical cabling for high data rate interconnects in data centers has been borne of existing electrical (copper) cabling's inability to provide a truly viable and interchangeable alternative.

The uptake of 10GBASE-CX4 has been low, mainly due to its cumbersome and proprietary connector sitting proud of the equipment face plate, but also a result of CX4's use of 8 pairs of twin-ax copper cable creating a cable with highly limited bend radius.

10GBASE-T, using CAT5 copper cable, employs the ubiquitous but non-modular RJ45 type connector. The connector is also mounted on the face of the equipment, requiring all cable driver and interface electronics to be placed on the line card. This inflexibility together with the high power consumption of 10GBASE-T electronics (currently 4W or more), make this option unattractive for high-density switches and routers.

Two technology trends in particular, however, are challenging the interconnect status quo and are set to make optical and electrical cabling perfectly interchangeable at data rates up to10G and beyond.

The introduction of the SFP+ pluggable module standard has opened the way to more flexible and modular interconnect options. Small and generally low in complexity, SFP+ modules are already supporting a wealth of different datacom protocols: 1, 2, 4 and 8G Fibre Channel, 100M, 1G and 10G Ethernet.

Creating versatile ports for both optical and electrical interconnects, SFP+ modules slide into the equipment chassis, locate flush with the faceplate and make for a solution that is both elegant and robust. In the optical domain in particular, SFP+ has played an important role in optimising system design. 10GBASE-SR SFP+ modules for example are ably supporting multimode fibre in fibre-to-fibre patch cords (up to a few meters) or structured cabling (up to 300m.)

While adoption of the SFP+ form factor does help reduce module cost, the cost of the high performance electrical-optical / optical-electrical conversion remains however and serves to make the optical module comparatively expensive. In addition, fibre remains relatively easy to damage (compared to copper), either at the connector or within the link.

What SFP+ also does today though, is to support passive electrical interconnects, based on thin (30AWG or less) twin-ax copper cable, that are largely exempt from the problems of bend radius, and the termination and signal conversion challenges associated with optical fibre. While such passive copper cables have been shipped for sometime, their usage has been limited to lower data rates (up to 4Gbps) and at link distances that are intra-rack or between adjacent racks (a few metres).

To make SFP+ twin-ax copper interconnects function at 10G speed and over far greater distances however, industry needs to more fully embrace a second enabling technology trend:

Equalization and retiming
While twin-ax copper cable is good for data rates up to 4Gbps, at higher date rates such as 10Gbps, its frequency dependent losses actually restrict its use to less than a meter. Over longer distances significant distortion of the received signal occurs leading to high bit error rates. Note also that the loss per meter also depends on the thickness of the copper. Thinner cable incurs higher losses.

Enter equalization technology, which has the aim to simply compensate for the frequency dependent losses in order to recover an error-free data signal. It has two flavours: transmit equalization or pre-emphasis--this pre-distorts the transmit signal before it enters the cable in order to cancel out the cable losses; and receive equalization--to further compensate for cable loss.

At the same time, retiming of the signal is also paramount on both transmit and receive sides to ensure high quality equalization can be achieved. On the transmit side, retiming helps to deliver controllable and accurate pre-emphasis, while on the receive side retiming ensures the output signal of the equalizer is low in jitter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Using a Flip Video Camera in the Classroom

Here's a quick video I recorded in which I share some ideas for how to use a Flip video camera in your classroom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

US Air Traffic Flight Visualizations

This really cool!

(Via vanderwal's brain bits .)

No Power Required

This is pretty cool - an iPhone dock that uses acoustic amplification to amplify your music or podcast.

Banner Ads Don't Work

27 Huge Publishers Join To Replace The Banner
This heatmap image from a 2007 eye-tracking study is perhapst the best illustration of why publishers and advertisers hate banners:


Monday, March 09, 2009

21st Century Literacies

Interesting post by English professor Mark Bauerlein. I love blogging - as does Bauerlein, and enjoy texting, IMing, and communicating with video and all of the other 21st Century tools available to us. While I agree that we shouldn't supplant our college composition and research writing courses with these "new media" tools, I think it's important to realize that students must also become proficient in using these tools. It is going to become increasingly important for students to possess a digital media literacy unlike anything we have been required to do. Whether working as a freelance writer, an architect, or a consulting engineer, our future workforce must be digital media savvy. As an architect, imagine competing for jobs with a one-person shop that can generate blog posts, web-traffic, viral video, animation - even a social network of happy customers ready to recommend their work. What ever field our kids choose, it will no longer be just about the quality of their work, but also their digital media and social networking skills. Brainstorm: The NCTE Reports on Writing and 21st Century Literacies
The National Council of Teachers of English has a series on 21st century literacies, and this week at the CCCC in San Francisco, it will release the third paper in the series entitled ‘Writing between the Lines—and Everywhere Else.’ (Go here for the press release.) The announcement provides the rationale, noting that while students complete writing assignments for school, ‘today, as in the past, much writing also goes on outside of school, and students don’t recognize their self-directed, often online, out-of-school writing as writing that counts as much as the writing they do in school.’

Well, one might say, why in the world should they regard texting, posting, blogging, tweeting, and the rest as counting as much as class assignments? They aren’t graded, they don’t require research, they don’t observe grammar and punctuation and spelling, and they address peers, not adults. They may consider their leisure writing as significant, but in a different way, sensibly recognizing the respective circumstances of academic and leisure writing.

NCTE, however, aims to ennoble leisure writing, to set it on the same level as academic writing.
The announcement continues:

‘Today people write as never before—texting, on blogs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper. People write at home, at work, inside and out of school. To recognize and celebrate this writing, NCTE has announced its National Day on Writing.’

This agenda doesn’t make sense, at least not to me. Why devote a national organization’s energies and resources to a national day celebrating texting? A month or two ago, I’ve been told, someone broke the 30,000 textings-in-one-month barrier. Do these practices need the endorsement of professionals?

It’s strange, but the leveling agenda plus the odd framing of writing continues elsewhere in the series. The previous paper is entitled ‘Writing in the 21st Century,’ by Kathleen Blake Yancey, NCTE past president. (To access the pdf, go to the press release linked to above and click on the second bullet point.)

Here is the second paragraph of the report:

‘Historically, we humans have experienced an impulse to write; we have found the materials to write; we have endured the labor of composition; we have understood that writing offers new possiblity and a unique agenda. Historically, we composers pursued this impulse to write in spite of—in spite of cultures that devalued writing; in spite of prohibitions against it when we were female or a person of color; in spite of the fact that we—if we were 6 or 7 or 8 or even 9—were told we should read but that we weren’t ready to compose. In spite of.’

What to say about this odd opening? The first sentence is a notch above the freshman’s opening ‘Since the beginning of time . . .’ The next sentences cast writing in heated terms of struggle and liberation (‘impulse,’ ‘labor,’ ‘possibility,’ ‘unique agenda’). And then we have anti-writing cultures, racist and sexist prohibitions, and age tyranny. Cap it off with that inane melodramatic phrase ‘In spite of’ (italicized in the original).

Keep in mind that this report proposes a recommendation that teachers bring 21st century writing habits (texting etc.) into the classroom. That is a complex and far-reaching revision, and it merits a steady and scientific approach to, among other things, social and technological trends, the relation of classrooms to society, and the intellectual value of those new literacy habits.

But when a report starts out by overloading the central concept with political overtones and identitarian dramaturgy, one wonders about the agenda. Why has NCTE come down so strongly and so enthusiastically on the side of 21st-century literacies?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

PPT: Be Persuasive with Your Words

I've been promoting this idea for a couple years now. The point I always make is that YOU are the presentation - not the slides.
BetterPresenting: Can you tell your story with no text at all?
The other day I was working with a client on a presentation that had to be less than 10 minutes, and he was frustrated with the challenge of creating slide content for a talk so brief.

I said one thing to him that became a bit of a sea change.

‘Why don’t you forget entirely about slides with text on them?’


‘I’ll bet you could be just as persuasive with your words, and your slides could be even more impactful.’

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Geek + Orchestra = Geekestra


An interesting idea, but would you ever admit to being a member? At least this other "iPhone band" has some attractive women in it;)

Wired Campus: A Concert Where the Cellphones Are On
Ge Wang, an assistant professor of music who previously founded a laptop orchestra at the center, has now organized a Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO) that takes advantage of the iPhone’s multiple built-in technologies to create a powerful performance device.

Duke University on iPhone

Stanford was among the first schools to create iPhone apps. It's surprising that Duke would join the fray - they were among the school experimenting with giving students iPods and iPhones. MIT has optimized their website for mobile devices and according to this story University of Cincinnati and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore also have iPhone apps. An interesting twist to the story is that the company hired to developed the Duke iPhone app (iDuke) is run by Stanford students - very enterprising! Does your school have an iPhone app? What are you waiting for? Wired Campus: Duke U. Unveils Application Suite for iPhone
Duke University has become the latest institution to join the mobile-application arms race, announcing today the release of ‘DukeMobile,’ a suite of programs for students who use the iPhone and iPod Touch. The applications weren’t actually designed by Duke students, though—they were developed by a company run by students at Stanford University.

Among other functions, the software allows users to watch Duke content on YouTube and iTunes, look through the university’s course catalog, and pinpoint the location of campus events on a searchable map. By March 30, those using Blackberrys with multi-touch capabilities will also be able to use the software.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Kindle Arrives on the iPhone

-- Posted from my iPhone

Time to Get the Band Back Together?

Very cool demo using iPhone/Ipod Touch apps.IPhone Apps: London's The Mentalists Cover MGMT on iPhones
We've never heard of the Mentalists (because we're old), but this four-woman London band just covered MGMT's Kids using just iPhones.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I Guess We Need to Stay Offline ...

to Stay out of trouble. online reputation google | Jim's Marketing Blog
Only last week, a web designer told me he had lost a highly profitable piece of work, after his prospective client checked him out online.  He hadn’t written anything offensive and there were no negative comments anywhere about either him or his services.  The client withdrew the project, simply because they were uncomfortable hiring someone who was regularly posting to Twitter after midnight!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...