Friday, January 23, 2009

Cloud Computing in School with Google Docs.

In short, pretty well. Google Docs has gotten faster and more robust and served brilliantly for any school's word processing needs. Wherever possible that the average K-12 student could live within their browser quite happily. With Google Docs (my online suite of choice because I’ve really bought into the Google ecosystem, but Zoho provides great tools as well), presentations, spreadsheets, and documents are utterly simple to produce. Despite the changes to Google’s marketing and sales of their Apps suite, their educational version of Google Apps for your domain remains free.

Blogger (and countless other tools) make it easy to produce documents online and share them as needed; Google Docs provides great sharing and collaboration tools as well.

Googlegroups also is good because it allows collaboration between teacher and student. An editions to the work would be highlighted and any desire to return to the original version of the document can be made by the author of the text.

This proves critical when a student has to prepare or edit a document that he has but is unsure of the LAN ecology in which he is using. To assure that his documents will not be virus infested, using an online document application wherein his file is uploaded, he is able to simultaneoulsy prepare the text, email it to share/collaborate with a etacher and simultaneoulsy in real time see the comments and remarks made by his teacher on the paper. A real help for the teacher who may be mobile.

Gdocs is also a remarkable tool as it allows the teacher to create an online exam in Google forms. After creating the exam he may simply email the form to his students and who will answer and send the form back to the teacher who may maximize the results.

Google Docs, thus is one of the applications that uses cloud computing and is very advantegous to the educational sector.

One of the things im thinking of giving consideration (although majority of my students come from class CD and E families) is having an internet access point for WIFI notebooks. Some of my students, especially from the short term courses that I offer, accidentally bring in their notebooks from work. It would assist them in having online portfolios for their multimedia, visual graphics and animation classes. So what does this mean for students and teachers using cheap netbooks? It means that even for schools who turn to netbooks as an inexpensive way to get more computers into students’ hands, some dedicated facilities for more sophisticated computing are important. It also means that a bit of flash storage, whether an SD card or USB drive, could allow some multimedia files to be handled client-side or moved between dedicated PCs and the netbooks.

In the end I am hoping that I would be able to create more opportunities that would have students from class B and C families coming in and bring notebooks as one of their tools in school.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What should we do with those computers lying on our desks: a question for every School Manager on the Primary, Secondary and even on the Tertiary Leve

BusinessWeek ran a great article recently focusing on one school in San Francisco that was rethinking exactly what computers in schools meant. As the article quite aptly pointed out,
“Schools are enthusiastic about the technology’s promise, but short of the money and trained faculty to extract many of its benefits…In many schools, PCs have failed to aid students’ learning or improve test scores, or equip them with the analysis and communications skills that today’s workplace demands, according to studies. The problems include a reliance on paper lesson plans that don’t factor in technology, and inadequate teacher training and technical support.”

Most of us realize how easy it is to throw computers into a school to meet requirements of various regulatory types and call this 21st Century Learning. Actually using these effectively in the classroom is another matter entirely.

“If you’re just sprinkling the technology on top of the curriculum, it’s not as compelling,” says. Intel’s [Eileen Lento, a government and education strategist]. “Then you just have some expensive pencils.”…Other times, school boards buy computers to prove their technical savvy to politicians and parents, without thinking through how kids will actually use the machines. “

If we aren’t giving kids anything more than glorified typewriters or web skills that extend beyond Google and Wikipedia, then we certainly aren’t going to help them be competitive in a technology- and information-driven world. Rather, as is clear from the article, it’s time for some very serious thought on the part of educators as to just what purpose computers in a classroom will serve.

Ironically despite the Fact that the Philippines is a BPO (meaning Business Process Outsourcing) country, most of its Public primary and secondary schools do not use Computers for class room instruction.

Although there are only selected public (meaning state owned )primary schools that has computers for classroom instructions there must be efforts on using focused computer applications to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses in math and literacy and use the data from these applications to modify instruction. The particular applications we’ve chosen also automatically provide some differentiated instruction for students who don’t require a more serious intervention.

At the secondary level, we’re still defining curriculum around the technology. At the moment, students are becoming adept at research online and most have solid skills with productivity apps, but we still have a long ways to go genuinely integrating the tools and training teachers to build technology-driven lessons instead of merely having kids type their papers.

In college, only those who are specializing in ICT are trained with computers, most other specializations end up with students using Google or wikipedia for “research”, for the lack of the term. More than ever today, instruction with the use of computers must be utilized to ensure that students problem solving skills be more enhanced in today's competitive world, and not just to use html to design and code more designs onto one's Facebook or Friendster page.

We still aren’t having students use collaboration tools or access enough primary sources online. We still don’t have enough students actually finding and communicating with human contacts who can provide them with interesting, relevant, and useful information. Our students taking Spanish aren’t talking over Skype or Gmail voice/video with kids in Spain or Mexico, or our students taking Arabic cant even communicate with somebody in the Middle East or Malaysia. You get the picture. We have many ways to go. Those who have ideas can feel free to email the author or even write articles or blogs about them.

(Blogger's note:I've read and was inspired and borrowed Chris Dawsons article with “what to do with computers in the schools” and set the scene in the Philippine setting to see the trends in ICT education in the Philippines. )

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking from the hourglass.....

missives from a midset

I was looking at all of the people rushing to get their shopping list filled up in preparation for a long break... christmas break as they would say. It was a very long year.... The school had accomplished a lot of things deemed unimaginable by ordinary standards by we made it and yet... we still missed the target we set for ourselves.

We were able to prepare new courses to be offered in school and apply them in TESDA, as well as get some (not all of our teachers accredited as Trainors/assessors in TESDA), although we had filed and applied formally for several courses in TESDA both as courses and as assessment centers for such courses, we still have to wait for formalities and ministerial processes to take place.

As a school that has tried to cater to class C,D and E families, we were quite in dire straights considering that indeed in a global recession that strongly influences an already problematic national economy... tuition fee not being payed on time also means delayed payments on our operatinal expenses.....From a managers point of view, we have to improvise and ensure that indeed we can sustain the expenses of the school through alternative means .

We had foreseen these events in advance... and we prepared a little for this. As advocates of Free and Open Source Software as well as EDTECH, we tried to find ways on how to earn while advocating.

We stumbled upon creating a computer literacy module that aimed to train seafaring cadets in Desktop applications as well as training them to become Captain's aide and on-board secretary in a shipboard environment... we called this C-Office (short for Shipboard Office Productivity Suite) which aims to equip Navigation and Engine Cadets with Conputer literacy skills as well as Office Management Skills, soft skills that is required for global seafarers. This program was made a part of the official training program of one of the premier maritine agencies, POBAR Maritime LTD, this course was the brainchild of Capt Leo Mirante, MM, the manager of this company and DR Joel S. Garcia, president of the school. Thus although initially three Shipping manning agencies took part among them POBAR and OSM, it was POBAR that eventually adopted the program as an integral part of their manpower development program. Instead of wholly teaching MS Office , Adobe Reader for PDF and Internet explorer for web browsing.... we taught them the Linux desktop system, the Open Office system and document viewer/foxit reader for document preparation and mozilla firefox for browsing, we have shown that Linux alternatives exist for usage in office productivity.

We also initiated trainings fr Blender 3d animation as a tool for 3d animation.We are also looking into creating courses for PhP MySQL for web administrators and developers as well as for Java, C++ and other FOSS programming languages.....

Although we may not yet received approval for the other courses and programs... we are hoping that the backlogs and leftover targets we have left for 2008 can be finished before the end of January 2009.

wish us luck.

An IT Program on Philippine Free TV

Looking at Convergence

Ive recently seen a very interesting program in Information technology. The name of the Show is Convergence at NET-25. I liked the format of the show. Except that it does not cover FOSS/Open Souce/LINUX material. One can view its programs every evening at 8 pm at channel 25 on your free TV but you can also watch it online at They have live video streaming.

Ive seen that indeed they cover much topics like new trends in Information Technology, they even cover topics such as WEB 2.0, social networking, Updates in software and hardware development, Gaming and electronic gadgets as well as multimedia solutions.

Convergence as a whole answers to a lot of things that normally a person needs with short a must for every person who uses information technology.

Il be watching their shows and be commenting on their content once in a while.

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