Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tools: Docupen RC800

Things found in reading journals and magazines: The September 2006 volume of T.H.E. Journal ( highlighted a pen-sized scanner from Planon. It's about 9 inches long , weighs two ounces and is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. It does not need to be plugged into a computer to function, and can save hundreds of pages on its 8 MB flash drive. You use a USB cable to transfer data to a PC or Mac. Cost is about $299.00.
Where was this when I was in college and copying endless pages to use for annotation while creating research papers?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Sites to Explore: Blogs and Wikis and Podcasts, Oh My! Interesting commentaries on education and second language writing (Blog) ESL Writing and Technology Blog Edblogger Praxis. A compendium of Educational Blogs and Podcasts. The Thinking Stick. Thoughts on teaching using technology. The Living Classroom: Teaching English in an Mobile and Networked World. A continuing online symposium started 9/24/06

Monday, September 25, 2006

Podcast Activities for ESL

Often our ESL students want to listen to the pronunciation of irregular verbs. Go to the website: Interesting Things for ESL students: and click on the grey colored tab on the left under Podcasts/Songs/Jokes. The second section called Listen and Repeat Podcast houses those irregular verbs. Click there and you will get up to 4 sections of Commonly-Used Irregular Verbs. The speaker reads these verbs in rapid succession followed by students repeating them. In addition, other podcast activities include Adjectives for People, the Alphabet, and English Useful Expressions and more links to other ESL/EFL Podcasts. Check it out!
Robin B.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Educational Podcast Usage

Podcast uses...from the Apple Education Site

University of Michigan: Students at the university’s Dental School are taking advantage of their free time to review lectures and lessons.
Stanford University: Two iTunes U portals keep the Stanford community, as well as alumni and the public, connected to what’s going on at Stanford.
University Wisconsin-Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison on iTunes U was prompted by the instructors — they overwhelmingly identified podcasting as their top technological priority.
Kansas State University Launches World's Largest Course Podcasting
Kansas State University announced recently its use of Tegrity Campus to convert an unprecedented 6,000 recorded classes to enhanced podcasts. K-State plans to have all 6,000 class podcasts available to its students this year, making it by far the education realm's largest podcasting implementation worldwide. (From Tablet PC Education blog)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Commentary: Sotir: Philly's School of the Future

Source: TechLEARNING News link (9/12/06) to an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer:,

Here's an interesting concept...a school of the future. Actual future thinking educators and businesses (the school was built under the guidance of Microsoft Corp.), creating a first-of-its-kind model for technologically advanced schools. What a concept. The school, built at a cost of $63 million, claims to be as paperless as possible. Students each get a lap-top (soon to be upgraded to tablets). No textbooks are used as nearly all learning materials will be accessed by computer. (Are you listening, Texas?). General amenities include interactive white boards, plasma boards, ceiling projectors, smart cards that track student movement throughout the school, virtual teaching assistants and software that allows parents to track students' progress from home. Even the sports teams will use electronic-play diagrams. Of course, it's totally wireless.

While Microsoft assisted with the design, they did not donate money, equipment or software, other than $100,000 to name an area of the building. Kudos to Microsoft for giving the school what it really needed, which is a vault of experience, from personnel time, to best practices and access to its network of "international thought leaders". I am excited to see that there was a real working relationship with the business, rather than simply a monetary (and transitory) donation.

Futurism in schools is not merely the presence of technology, but rather a thoughtful approach to using technology effectively. Even non-technology equipment was considered by putting classroom furniture on wheels to allow for group work in varying configurations. Conservation was also addressed. Photovoltaic panels in the windows and the roof will covert sunlight into electricity. The building will also catch rainwater and convert it to non-potable uses, such as toilet and boiler water.

Two local universities, University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have established partnerships with the school. University professors will teach courses in areas such as robotics and urban design, and provide staff and student resources. Honor students from Villanova University will serve as online tutors.

Yes, a futuristic school needs more than the newest technology. It needs people from both inside and outside of education who are thinking in the framework necessary to achieve real student success in the impending society where they will exist, not the world that existed 50 or even 25 years ago. Students will be required to apply to at least one college to graduate, and also to demonstrate 11 "adult competencies". Proficiency on standard reading and math tests is also considered a graduation requirement. Even the start time has been thought through, starting at 9:15 based on research that says teens function better a little later in the day. Thank you, Microsoft, and thank you Philadelphia. I hope to see more effective collaborations in the future, and more movement towards re-designing education, rather than just designing buildings. It's about time.