Thursday, November 24, 2005

131 Gbps

SlashDot has a pointer to an article describing a bandwidth contest. The winners, a CalTech partnership, acheived an average transfer rate of 131 Gigabits per second.
Transferring this amount of data in 24 hours, is equivalent to a transfer rate of 3.8 (DVD) movies per second, assuming an average size of 3.5 GB per movie.

3.8 movies per second!

There are still a number of technical hurdles to be overcome, including hardware and software that can take advantage of such high data speeds, before this becomes commonplace. But even if it takes ten years, and it would surprise me if it took that long, schools need to start planning now.

What happens to education when the entire class can be present without everyone being in the same room? or even in the same country? Do teachers become private contractors, competing for students from around the world, in an education open market? Do schools and libraries fade away? or do they transform themselves into information hubs?

Web 2.0 is the crack in the dam, and whether we are plugging the hole or drinking freely from the leak, the dam is about to burst.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


My original purpose for this blog was to reflect on the use of the tool in my classroom. But as I have explored and learned about the wealth of web-based resources and their potentials in the classroom, the nature of this blog has changed. The title is a small thing, but renaming this space is part of the reflection.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Collaborative word processing

Will Richardson brought my attention to a web-based resource today, He just mentions it in passing, but there is something about this WBR that simply clicks for me.

Writely is a web-based word processing application that at first blush does the basics very well. I'm typing this entry on writely and it feels like I am working in Word. Once I finish, I will try out the blog tab at the top and see how well it works.

The real power of the tool, however, comes from the ability to collaborate on writing projects in real time. I can email an invitation to collaborate to one of my co-workers. She can then follow the link to see the document I have started. If we are both working on the document at the same time, writely will update the page in what seems to be near real time so we can see each others changes as they occur!

Distance educators take note. Imagine a student in an on line course completing a rough draft of a paper, emailing the teacher for collaboration, and then working with the teacher in real time on the revision of the paper. Pair this with chat or skype and instant writing conference.

Students in different classrooms, or different countries, could work together on a project.

On an amusing note, writely's spell checker doesn't think writely is spelled correctly.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Tools Coming My Way

The administrative rep on the district tech committee has tapped me to try using a wireless, Tablet PC setup in my classroom.

I am rather excited to bring in this new, interactive tool. I have been weighing interactive white boards v. tablet pcs, and I think the tablet pc will better fit how I would use it. One of the presenters at T+L2 discussed the "event" of a student going to the interactive white board. There are days when it is hard enough to get students talking, let alone going to the board. With a tablet, I can hand the technology (either the tablet or a wireless keyboard/mouse) to students and have them doing. This implementation feels much more organic.

I have already started hitting up my colleagues for ideas, getting them excited, too. Once the equipment comes in, I plan on taking a few days to learn and experiment with it before using it with my classes. But then I want to show the other teachers how it all works and hand it off to them, giving them each a few days to use it, too.

At the December tech committee meeting, I need to present my findings, and I want to bring in ideas from as many curricular areas as possible to demonstrate the power and flexibility of interactive tools like a tablet pc. My hope is that this will spur more innovative thinking about how to integrate even more technology into our school and the curriculum as a whole.

They're Listening is an interesting, social web-based resource that tracks what users listen to on their computers, connects them to other users who like the same kinds of music, and even provides for creating personalized web-radio stations.

Part of me gets a real kick out of this. I like other-than-mainstream music, and I'm always looking for new bands. lets me see what other people who listen to what I like are listening to. Great idea. A quick peek at the site has already shown me a few new bands I need to check out. But I haven't created an account.

The idea of the site keeping an ear on my listening habits at my computer makes me uneasy. Call it Big Brother Lite, the masses slowly giving up their privacy, slowly revealing more and more of themselves online. With other web-based resources, I choose which pieces I keep public or private. From my admittedly quick look, takes it all and puts it out there for everyone to see.

Privacy aside, the homogenization of listening tastes is also bothersome. I worry about the flattening of experiences that may come from connections and recommendations based on my favorite music. Ideally, the social aspects will lead to tangental discoveries that help people stretch beyond their comfort zones, but the lure of the comfortable is strong. What is lost by not having a good DJ, either on the airwaves or streaming across the internet, mixing up the music and bringing strange new experiences to our ears.

Pulling the pieces back together

I just stumbled across SuprGlu, a web-based resource that pulls all the content a person creates into one spot. My blog, furled articles, flickr pics, and many other bits flung out onto the web come flying back, hence my SuprGlu space A Gathering of Boomerangs.

I have just scratched the surface of this site, but already the idea of a class creating content in a variety of ways and using SuprGlu to keep it all in one, easy to access space is very appealing.