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Am I Doing this Right? Part 1

One of the most common questions that I’ve gotten from instructors about instructional technology (Canvas LMS, lecture capture, office suites) is whether or not they are using it to its full potential. My usual reply is, “so you’re using it?” This reply has a lot behind it. For one, I ask that out of respect of all that the institution has to offer, and to get an idea of how the client is using the application. I also want to affirm the individual’s capability in their mind; “use” can mean many things.

For instance: the acronym LMS stands for “Learning Management System” and lots of law professors like for it to stand for Learner Management System; they want to manage and regulate their learners.

Many professors of law enjoy the theory of informatics and how it can assist them in developing an idea of how their students are comprehending the material. They also want to see how students engage the material, and how often they engage the material.

Less common with those in higher education is how to help students articulate the material in ether a summative or formative assessment. The LMS has many benefits, some being the ability to gather student understanding before a major assessment; this is to the benefit of the teacher and students.

 

 

 

 

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Why I have a Taylor Swift Poster in my Office

Upon getting my new office I decided to decorate. As a self-declared computer nerd I have issues decorating, and I usually pull things off the shelves of IKEA and place them in alternating corners of my apartment, not unlike a mechanic using the “star pattern” to bolt a tire back on. What usually ensues is people coming over and saying, “oh that’s nice.” Not the “oh that’s nice!” with the audible exclamation point, but the one that involves them stumbling over the last word in that phrase. I decided to try a different approach to my office, and put some things on the wall that really mattered to me. One of those things happened to be a poster of Taylor Swift from her “Red” tour.

So what does Taylor Swift have to do with Information Technology? Well, everything apparently.

She does have her own jet.

The Twitter account @Swiftonsecurity made me realize that anyone could be an expert in Information Technology, even Taylor Swift.

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As you can see she covers a lot of tech arenas, from the conundrum of the fragmented Linux OS, to system administration and system integrity.

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She also seems to delve into details regarding user security in relation to hardware recommendations. Is this really Taylor Swift running this parody account? Maybe.

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What have I taken away from this Twitter account that sufficient knowledge regarding technology is achievable for everyone. You don’t have to be an information security professional to keep your stuff secure. You don’t have to be a hardware designer to pick out a good laptop for you kid, and yes computer geeks are usually approachable and even friendly. They may even have a hit song or two.

New Blog Title!

When I originally had the idea for this weblog, I was hoping to “get my name out there” to prospective employers. Unintentionally, I started a place to test resources and beta test future projects. This has led me to significant professional growth, as well as my passion to meet the needs of teacher and other professionals. As a technology professional, it is imperative to me that I have sufficient skill to put something together.

Since getting my first job at IU I’ve done a host of new things. Most of the new things that I’ve been doing I’ve done using basic computer skills, and pedagogical knowledge. I do consider myself a “power user,” but at the same time I try to think I’m in a K12 setting still with limited resources.

I’ve opted to name this blog the “Firewire Blog.” I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s deprecated products, and their advanced capability….even after almost 10 years my MacBook is going strong. I’ve had 15 year old Apple routers still able to put out great signal through walls. The Apple FireWire connection was a great technology, that was left behind in favor of the flexibility of the USB port. Today, I still prefer FireWire due to it’s slightly faster speeds, and its ability to capture HD video with Adobe products.

Hardware Part 2 (Continued)

So last week I discussed how hardware gets slower with time, and how operating systems get larger over time. What my point was in all of that discussion is the value in smaller-scale computing.

What do I mean about smaller scale? Does anyone remember the netbook revolution? 

No? Exactly.

Netbooks failed miserably, and rightfully so. They were low-cost, low-power, and low processing power. In 2010, Apple delivered the iPad, it was fast, nimble, and could harness the power of an ARM processor. ARM processors are low-power processors (the “brain” of a computer) that use advanced instruction sets to do more on a smaller scale. With the iPad, users found they could do more with less; for instance they could browse the Internet sans laptop. They could use Facebook and Instagram with the power of a specifically-written application, instead of a web browser like Safari.

Low-power computing means a lot for education. By abandoning traditional COWS (laptops on carts models) teachers could utilize this power to keep more organized classrooms, easy maintenance, and more educated teachers. Teachers don’t want to maintain the technology, and they are in dire need of a set it and forget it model of instructional technology.

Why do you think learning management systems are so popular? Teachers don’t maintain them. Administrators don’t maintain them. Developers maintain them.

IT staff don’t maintain those carts full of laptops. The poor souls that boot them up at the start of class restart them for updates and repair their broken keys and such.

Tablets and other low cost/power options such as iPad minis and Chromebooks can serve a tremendous role in classroom. This is due to their power and cost-effective use. They do most things in the background, update automatically, and boot up quickly. Teachers and students alike can appreciate this. Also, if things happen (such as drops or spills) risks are minimal. Cloud storage (iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive) usually back up user files. Costs of devices are usually in the $200-$300 dollar range, which means after they pay for themselves the can be broken and it’s not a tremendous amount of harm.

Hardware and Education, a Guide (a Very Loose Guide) Part 2-EOL for K-12 PCs

This is part two of my guide on hardware and education. This series is made to educate a novice on the basics of computer hardware and how it applies to education. I’m actually sure the audience for this post isn’t actually novices…let’s face it…you’re probably a power user-you’re reading my blog.

So what I was addressing earlier was what major components are in a computer (smartphone, tablet, laptop), and how they play a part in education. I’ve worked in many schools where the laptops were just really slow, and that was due to the fact that the hardware was just incredibly old. 2010 was one of those years.

In 2010 laptops came standard with about 4 gigabytes of RAM (random-access memory). The operating system and many programs that system administrators install on school laptops slow them down. For instance, many schools have tight security protocols, which require a couple of antivirus programs and data “sniffers.”

These programs, along with office and graphic design applications can really suck the life out of a laptop.

Fast forward to 2014, and those once-fancy laptops that were slow to begin with now take five minutes to boot up. They have now reached “end of life.” That means that from an average user standpoint…they’re practically unusable.

This is attributed to the former blog post, which described how the CPU, GPU, RAM, and other hardware components are simply overwhelmed by the sheer size of what’s going on inside it.