Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day, all you US folk. In the spirit of thanks, giving, and the holidays, I thought I'd share this link (courtesy of chris brogan's twitterfeed) for the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program. If you can do it, please DO IT.

Have  great weekend!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

class social networks: thoughts?

Last night I made a major decision to move my discussion board for my Theater class from wikispaces to a new page I created on ning. Don't get me wrong, I think wikispaces is a truly great thing; the possibilities are limitless, but the truth is that it really doesn't serve our needs at this moment (maybe one day soon it will?). I don't currently have plans to have my students make pages on the wiki, nor do I have the time to shift my entire online presence for the class from my blogger blog (where i's been living for about four years) to the wiki site. As for the discussion board, which was the only feature I was really using: I felt that the setup was far too limiting and there weren't enough management options for me as the moderator. I had also seen it get to the point where the initial novelty had worn off, and the students were no longer as inclined to post as they had been.
So, I found that the whole concept of an online social network for the students in the class was much more appealing, and I could do a lot more with the page as well as manage the forums more effectively. The notion of being able to create a profile and add pics, music and video (like facebook) seemed to be much more appealing to students, so I thought I'd give it a go. The hardest part now, I'm sure, will be actually getting everyone to sign up...

the conference

So the story in a nutshell is, I had attended a conference (one that I had attended in the past) that was specifically for educators in the Arts. It's held on the campus of a local university and always boasts a great turnout. This year's theme had to do with Technology and the Arts, so I had been especially excited to go. I looked forward to seeing what new ideas the "experts" came up with as far as implementing technology in arts education, and even the possibility of some exposure to Web 2.0 strategies in the arts. When I looked over the choices of breakout sessions, however, I was a little disappointed; it was the same old thing as before, some workhops in Adobe software (just like last year), iMovie, and using DVD clips in your classes.
Ok, I know I have to be fair; not all teachers are ready for the 'big leap' into web 2.0, both psychologically and logistically. Maybe, for some of the old school crowd, integrating DVD segments into an arts class may indeed be a big step. I was just struck by the lack of sessions that addressed some of the real advancements in using technology in education.
Anyway, back to my experience at the conference: so I chose a somewhat interesting-sounding workshop on combining digital video and theater for the first session, which was indeed interesting in terms of the concept but lacked some of the hands-on application I had hoped for. What really struck me about this session, (which was led by a very bright, enthusiastic young arts administrator who was doing some very cool things with his students) was that when the instructor made passing reference to some of the editing tools he was using in Final Cut, some participants actually asked him if he could email instructions to them on how to use Final Cut. He paused, looked stunned for a second, swallowed and said, "uh...sure, I guess so...". Poor guy.
For the second session, I was struck by the lack of any compelling choices (the majority, it seemed, had nothing to do with technology) until I saw an offering for an acting workshop using Moscow Art Theater approach to characterization, "using technology". Suspicious, I went to the classroom a few minutes early and saw the instructor setting up, and took an opportunity to ask what kind of software we would be using to create our character. The teacher, a petite, professional looking woman with what sounded like a Russian accent, replied, chuckling: "Is no software!We use actor's imagination!" Well, thank you, but I already know how to do that. I thanked her, and headed for the parking lot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Once and for all, proof that Macs are cheaper than PCs

This simple truth is dawning: If we forget about computer-industry network effects and monopolistic business practices, if we forget Apple's various ancient missteps -- if we're going just by what's better -- the ages-old Mac-vs.-PC debate is over. Long over. Yell it from the rooftops: The Mac has won.

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