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The Pondering Pixel

A close-up wide angled but abridged look at projectors and other classroom technology, product reviews and releases, tradeshows, debates and conspiracy theories as well as humble observations on schools and screens.

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Archives for the year 2009:
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Technology Recycling and Fundraising

The Ecophones Drive looks very promising to me. Having sold my share of chocolate and cookie dough for pennies on the dollar, this program, which is said to pay upwards of $3 for every cell phone turned in, seems like one worth investigating. Neither students nor their hapless parents have to buy or sell anything. Ecophones provides a free marketing kit to help launch the program. There are also programs for MP3 players, used printer cartridges and digital cameras.more

An Epidemic by Any other Name

I’ve been a part of the AV community for a large percentage of my professional life. I’ve been a parent for a portion of that time. My greatest pleasure in life is watching my kids learn, grow and become. Until recently I could never have imagined that these two spheres in which I operate would ever converge-but they have.more

Win $100,000 for your School

Whether your school is big or small, public or private is irrelevant in this contest. All schools in the US are eligible to be a Calling All Communities champion.more

It all Begins with a Lesson Plan

I’ve officially been dubbed the grant guru at my son’s school and it’s not because I am a seasoned grant writer, but rather because I’m a rabid somewhat web savvy mom on a mission to keep the dream alive and the school open. I’m unearthing the treasures buried in government and corporate web pages out there and since all of our readers have an interest in incorporating classroom technology to reach 21st Century Classroom aspirations, I thought I’d share the wealth when it makes sense.more

Dialogue with the Department of Education

I just saw a video of Arnie Duncan, the US Secretary of Education introducing the video contest he’s inviting young Americans (active students age 13 and up) to enter. The contest is entitled “I Am What I Learn” and it asks the question “why is education important to fulfilling your dreams?” It will be judged on creativity, the quality of content, and the ability to inspire and winners will receive $1000 each.more
Topics: Education

Teaching Students About the Evils of Plagiarism

I happened upon an article in the March 2009 edition of Educational Leadership magazine that addressed the issue of plagiarism in schools. Of course, I remember the plagiarism lecture in 6th grade as I prepared my report on Edwin Drake and the Seneca Oil Company. I recalled the way Sister Mary Amadeus, (all 5 feet of her) glowered at us from behind her specs warning us that plagiarizing was an affront to God. It was lying cheating and stealing all rolled up into one whopper of a sin that she’d be able to sniff out the minute the term paper was on her desk.more

21st Century Skills Courtesy of The Boys and Girls Club

Techlearning recently highlighted a study conducted in my home state. The University of Washington’s Center for information and Society has been looking into the work of 38 Boys and Girls Clubs across the country and how that work is contributing to the formation and growth of 21st Century skills among our youth. According the the BGCA website, their mission is to "promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence."more

Technology That Goes Bump in the Night

Okay—I am officially creeped out because there really was something that went bump in the night last week and it was I imagine a faceless being in a black cloak passing over the homes not in possession of a Kindle reader but descending on the bedrooms of their customers to delete copies of certain titles it had sold without publisher authorization. Think about it, an unseen hand removing property they had purchased simply because it could do so-remotely and without permission. And no, the fact that Amazon credited accounts is not the issue.more

Online Education at the Community College Level

I’ve been following President Barack Obama’s proposal for a multi-billion dollar investment in the nation's community colleges. What is reported as being a $12 billion effort, the aim is to help two-year institutions reach, teach and train more people for "the jobs of the future." The part that interests me the most about this proposal is that $500 million would go to online education. This is the only way to prepare Americans to compete in an economy where jobs requiring at least an AA degree are nearly double the number of those jobs that do not.more

3D in the Classroom

This 3D thing in the classroom is going to be big. It took most of my attention at Infocomm and has been the subject of some of the most fascinating discussions I have had since with numerous educators who have had questions about various projectors’ 3D capabilities. It augments my personal research on attention issues in middle school boys and my secret hope that somewhere there is a classroom technology solution that will offer some small relief to anxiety ridden parents seeking help for their academically struggling children.more

Education Armageddon?

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is of the mind that schools and colleges should deliver course content to students directly to their cell phones. According to an interview he gave to eCampus News, he feels since teenagers and young adults are using cell phones constantly, technology officials should find ways to send homework, video lectures, and other classroom materials via these devices so students can study wherever they are.more

P21-- Skimming the Surface

"Technology is core and essential to the strategies we are using to reform education." That was the message from both Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the United States Department of Education, and Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer in the White House as reported in The Journal. Chopra said that technology in education is less about hardware and software and more about what we teach, the methods we use,and the support and direction we give to teachers. Chopra, according to the article, is said to be completely wired in, connected to university lectures via iPod in order to exist in a constant "learning environment.”more

Tehran Twitter

I have been called “Facebook Enthusiast” as a pejorative and “Information Junkie” as a compliment. I find it confusing that the same people in my life who excoriate social media look at me with misty eyed admiration as I describe events in Iran and offer my humble analysis. The kind of information I’ve been sharing with my offline friends, relatives and colleagues these past weeks was not the result my studies of the region or any keen insight or powers of analysis. It came from my worldwide contacts in connected social networks.more

Improv on the Fly

My friend Fiona was a theater mom. A patron of high school theater, she logged hundreds of hours sewing costumes and building sets. I remember asking her recently if in the four years she was involved the crew had considered using an LCD or DLP projector to create a backdrop. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes as it was clear that no one, (including herself) had ever thought of it. This is why I'm making mention of it here.more

InfoComm Observations-Focus on Education

InfoComm 2009 Unlike the Consumer Electronics Show, where the wow factor dominates and there are new gadgets galore all tailored to the lucrative consumer market, InfoComm focuses on the technology solutions required to build audio visual and information communications systems. So the showroom floor is packed with companies offering new solutions for display and projection, lighting and staging, digital signage, collaborative conferencing and telepresence, networking, signal distribution and digital content creation. They feature products for corporations and small businesses, schools and universities, as well as the religious institution market.more

Tools of the Trade

I’ve been asking why so many were outraged by the Missouri School of Journalism listing either an iPhone or iPod Touch as a required purchase. Having spent some time in university administration in the past, my first thought was that by making the items required, the school was trying to qualify the gadgets for coverage under the Federal Student Loan Program.more

School Experiment

Like so many others, I read the New York Times story about the charter school scheduled to open in Washington Heights this coming September. It is premised on a theory that teachers—- excellent teachers, are the critical element determining success in learning rather than revolutionary classroom projectors, whiteboards, software, administrative leadership or even a low teacher-student ratio. To that end, the handpicked teachers will make a salary of $125,000 per year (two and a half times the national average) and will even be eligible for performance bonuses of up to $25,000.more

Leveraging Technologies that Mirror the Workplace

When you’re talking classroom technology in higher education these days, telepresence is an all pervasive term. Telepresence is the experience of being fully present at a live real world location remote from one's own physical location. I’m not talking about circa 1985 videoconferencing. Telepresence enables users to maintain eye contact, read body language and interact in a real-time environment--behaving and receiving stimuli as though physically at the remote site.more

No Time to Be Blase about Blogs in the Classroom

Blogs and blogging. It seems like such an obvious thing to me. But recently I read a short article in the New York Times (Education Section) about sixth grade social studies students at a Kentucky middle school corresponding via blog with a local soldier stationed in Ghazni City Afghanistan. The soldier and students communicate through his blog. Questions are asked, answers and impressions are shared. This was a big enough story to make the New York Times. I guess I was just a little too blasé in my reading of this article.more

Get a Second Life

To quell my nagging remorse about the PhD program I never finished (and swear I will one day), I often find myself perusing online degree programs of major universities. This will be the subject of other discussions because once again it places technology in education in the position of vanguard of a revolution. Today’s observation represents a flashpoint in that revolution. Bryant & Stratton College, a 150 year old institution of higher learning will bestow degrees upon its graduates where they earned them—online. But here’s the kicker: the ceremony will be a virtual one fully hosted on Second Life (which you likely know is a very popular Internet-based 3D virtual world).more

Strength in Pictures

Classroom projectors used for mathematics instruction could change the game for a lot of students. Teachers are using classroom projectors for PowerPoint presentations, Excel documents, Geometer Sketchpad, and whiteboard interactivity. The use of a document camera with a classroom projector is growing as teachers aim to display and point to pictures, diagrams and lessons in textbooks.more

Guerilla Projection

From the beginning I have been honest about my predilection for Pico projectors and my vision for them in the classroom. I will talk about Pico projectors any chance I get because I truly think they will eventually transform the way we consume media. That's why I’m giving a plug to The 2009 Digital Graffiti Festival happening next month in Florida where participants will demonstrate how design, technology and architecture can intertwine to create entirely new art forms.more

Peercasting Podcasters

A lot of the classroom technology stories that grab my attention involve middle school. A fragile time for the psyche, most of us would clearly like to permanently wipe those years from our memory. Why? It's not a good time. Nothing damages self esteem like real or perceived academic deficiencies and an acute awareness of a brutal social hierarchy all magnified by a wild ride in the fast lane of the hormonal superhighway. When limited resources require the school counselor to utter the dreaded words "peer tutor" visions of arrogant Stanford bound AP geniuses are the only things dancing in a 13 year old’s head.more

Calypso Systems 21st Century Classroom Grant Program

The 21st Century Classroom is clearly the term of choice for anyone remarking on classroom technology in any way shape or form. I have found it to be a predominant and highly charged catch all phrase for everything from a classroom projector and whiteboard to the tiniest webcam or microphone used in a classroom setting.more

What To Do with a Whiteboard

I know this is a common scenario: there is a new interactive whiteboard in the classroom. You’ve likely attended one or two training sessions and you seem to have the basics down. But the nagging question in your mind is how you and this seemingly magnificent piece of classroom technology will take the leap into full techno integration. As if 30 sets of eyes were not pressure enough—you have your district's financiers of the race toward the 21st Century classroom to contend with as well. What pressure I tell you.more

Stoking the Technology Fires

Have you been following the Kindle debate? Well the unveiling a couple of days ago of the Kindle DX e-book reader with a larger screen has business watchers, educators, students and textbook publishers all a buzz. So it should. The WSJ article I read reported that this coming Fall, a test group of university students at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve and other universities (including Princeton) will be given large screen Kindles with textbooks for chemistry, computer science and freshman orientation pre installed so that the university can analyze their experience as compared to those students using paper texts.more

Deliver Us From Humiliation

Elizabeth...go up to the blackboard and show us how to solve the problem...spell the word...use proper penmanship...The list was endless.My stomach still hurts when I think about it and I carried that stomach pain all the way to grad school when I had to stand up and defend my papers and died a thousand deaths every time. Nowadays kids are told to go up to the “whiteboard” but I am certain it is no less traumatic for them than it was for me.more

Technology (Like Charity) Begins at Home

When I was a highly ideological teenager bent on saving the world, my mother used to make a statement that would shut me down: “Charity begins at home.” I never understood what she was getting at until I was much older but it is clear that her message was that before I could elicit change, I'd have to live the change. I have always believed this in regard to technology and how our classrooms will truly make the jump to the 21st century ideal. Edutopia’s Jim Moulton wrote an article about this and he entitled it “Technology Integration Begins at Home.”more

Help for the Sub

Somewhere between college and grad school, I worked as a substitute teacher. The experience made a lasting impression on me as stories from those days seem to crop up in many conversations I have today. I usually have my friends in stitches as I talk about the antics of the kids in my classes. The most colorful days were those when I was assigned to sub for a teacher who left absolutely no lesson plan.more

Enhancing Education Through Technology

As we all know, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides funding for educational technology. Naturally there are a lot of classroom technology manufacturers (education projectors, whiteboards, software) out there jockeying for the front row so that school leaders spend that money on their products.more

Skype and Projector go Together

I love Skype—most everyone I know understands the place to reach me is at my computer. It’s not enough to talk—I want to see them via their webcam when we speak. If I don’t have the time, their instant messages sent via Skype tide me over and save me from the tedium of wading through my email messages and the weight of the nagging obligation to respond to the sender with an email containing depth and detail commensurate with theirs.more

21st Century Skills

I’ve been hearing the term ”21st Century Skills” being bandied about quite a bit lately. I know for a fact I heard our president using the phrase, and since then seem to run across it everywhere. The most interesting thing about the term "21st Century Skills" is the way it speaks to people in the exact voice they want to hear.more

What are the Questions Here?

Lots of rumblings about the results of the Speak Up 2008 survey conducted by Project Tomorrow—a national education nonprofit group based in Irvine, California. According to the survey, students feel that schools are desperately wanting on the technology front. There is an exponential rise this year in the number of students reporting that they complete schoolwork with the help of Web 2.0 tools.more

Cell Phones as a Teaching Tool

In my son’s middle school, a ringing cell phone in class receives swift and dramatic justice. That a 12 year old would even possess a cell phone is quietly regarded as another example of excess in a school district of privileged children. While the hippie in my heart wants to agree, the controlling mother and technology user in me keeps an open mind.more

Top of the class

If you are in the market for new projectors, you'll definitely want to keep checking back at the Education Center. Our editors have a lineup of inexpensive XGA and WXGA resolution classroom projectors in their lab for testing and review. These projectors were designed specifically for K-12 classroom use.more

I Think in Pictures

I have high hopes for pico projectors in the school environment. Many educators have used our site resources to learn about these devices. They have likely been curious about the $350 street price which would pique anyone's curiosity in any device claiming to be a projector. But there are disparaging voices dismissing the place of pico projectors in the K-12 educational setting.more