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 2010:
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Figment.com in the 21st Century Classroom

I sat next to a teenage boy on my Seattle ferry ride yesterday who composed rap lyrics on his cell phone. Looking over his shoulder out of the corner of my eye I could almost hear the beat as I marveled at his need to create and share instantly with his friends. For the remainder of the ride he received multiple text messages from those friends--affirmations for the most part. Friends are like that.more

Free Thanksgiving Virtual Field Trip

Incongruous is the notion of witnessing The First Thanksgiving at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth MA via webcast. That is exactly what close to a million of our nation’s children (30,000 classrooms) will be doing on November 16 at 1 p.m. All I can say is—how very cool.more

Classroom Projector Donor/Recipient Connection Service

With millions of monthly site visitors coming to Projector Central to research projectors before they buy, it is logical to think many are here to upgrade from an existing projector. Creating a locator service like our Classroom Projector Donor Center was simply the right thing to do. The free service connects businesses and individuals who wish to donate their older projectors with schools in their area seeking projectors to augment their lessons.more

The Most Searched Classroom Projectors

Aside from the Feature Search utility that I discussed in my previous post, another way to identify the best classroom projectors is to see where all the buzz out there is leading those with a quest similar to yours.more

Feature Search for Classsroom Projectors

I think we at Projector Central need to learn to toot our horn a bit better. I was talking with someone who makes a living selling projection systems and was shocked to learn that he had no idea about our "Feature Search" tool. When I showed it to him, he rolled his eyes and lamented the number of weeks he’d spent working on a project comparing projectors that could have been handled with a few clicks on our site.more

They're Blaming the Technology Again

I read an article in the Tacoma News Tribune today because I was fascinated by the assertion in the headline "Test of middle-school students shows learning, iPods don't mix.”

Washington teacher Andrew Milton, a teacher in DuPont, not too far from where I live, decided he would see what happen when he added electronic distractions to an 8th grade class already wrought with distractions typical of any middle school class.more

Interactive Projectors Part Deux

I am predicting that interactive whiteboard company executives the world over are sweating profusely right about now. When you read Marc Davidson's review of the new 3M "Simply Interactive" projector module, you'll begin to understand why.more

Blended Learning Experiment in the Bronx

The Wall Street Journal today reported on some interesting experimentation in the fourth grade at PS 100 in the Bronx. For two hours of every school day, students are engaged in instruction via laptops thus creating a kind of “blended learning” that could easily transform the way children are taught in our public schools. The idea is that some of the computer programs and classroom technology allow children to learn at their own pace giving the teacher the opportunity to offer more individualized instruction to more students through the course of the day. The Department of Education is lending a lot of financial support to the implementation of such experiments across the country in its drive toward the 21st Century Classroom ideal.more

The Best Education Available

By now, everyone knows about Bill Gates’ prognostication given this past August at the Techonomy conference: "In five years the best education available to anyone will be provided via the World Wide Web." This statement caused an uproar in some circles. Even though many think it could happen sooner, I think Mr. Gates may have been inspired by the graduating class of 2010. They are the first group of individuals who, as Beloit College aptly noted “grown up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of their worldview.” The so called digital youth will rapidly move forward into positions where they can usher in the change.more

A Book Lover an Ereader Does Not Make

There was a study conducted by Harris Interactive and reported today in the School Library Journal that concluded that ereader users are more likely than non users to read more and purchase more books than those who don’t own an ereader.more

Writing Implements Come in Multiple Forms

Discussion and debate surround the Oregon Department of Education’s decision to allow “spell check” to be used by students taking the state writing exam online. Proponents claim such a move is part of the natural evolution and represents how students will write when they move on to college and the workforce. Critics see this as another example of our system of education lowering standards and caving in to technology.more

Interactive Projectors Shake up the World of Interactive Whiteboards

As much as I love the world of projection technology, I do have another life. By night that I am a rabid conspiracy theorist with an insatiable appetite for news, clues, and connecting the dots. I fought to keep my lust for intrigue at bay and to not overreact yesterday as I posted this press release from NAD—the advertising division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In it they discuss certain untrue and some only partially true advertising claims made by SMART Technologies, the makers of the SMART Board Interactive whiteboard and projector system.more

Video Contest with Interactive Technology Prizes

Whenever I see the word “interactive” my droopy eyelids open wide. This is likely spurred by my interest in interactive classroom projectors and how they will make interactive whiteboards superfluous in classrooms already using them and open the door of interactivity to classrooms who cannot afford the interactive whiteboards. We’ll be reviewing several interactive projectors in the weeks ahead in addition to the reviews already posted on the Dell S300wi and the Epson Brightlink.more

Pico Projectors Get a League of their Own

I’m excited to see many experts turning their attention to the needs of picture thinkers. I’ve even seen business reporters discussing education technology using terms like “visual learners” to talk about the solutions offered by the display industry. I for one have been following the evolution of pico projectors for the past two years and often grumbled when these devices were unfairly dismissed by many in my industry.more

Visual Learners Will Have Their Day

In the Tri City Herald a few days ago, there was an article about a middle school math teacher Jeremiah Robinson, in my home state of Washington, who has developed a tool for teaching math to visual learners. Having struggled with mathematical concepts himself and understanding that by the time a child reaches eighth grade they often unjustifiably label themselves as math incompetent, his simple tool speaks to many and has resulted in increased test scores among his students, and perhaps more importantly, a renewed sense of confidence in children who may have otherwise been lost.more

Because Not All Great Minds Think Alike

I have a theory about the impact that will be made made by the 3D DLP projectors provided to the Shelton School by Texas Instruments as part of a pilot program to test their effectiveness in this environment. I’m especially interested in this school because of the kindred spirit I found in teacher Lauren Sanders.

She and I spoke on show floor at InfoComm about her work at the Shelton School, her commitment to and understanding of the needs of students who learn differently, and her use of classroom technology to engage the disengaged.Specifically, we discussed her use of 3D projectors and her enthusiasm for what the future holds for students with learning differences.more

Navigating Social Media is a 21st Century Skill

Jeffery Rosen’s recent article in the New York Times provides the best evidence for my contention that navigating social media is indeed a 21st Century skill. Therefore, in addition to supplying classroom technology like projectors, 3D software, whiteboards and document cameras, a mandatory middle school course with refreshers in high school should be developed and implemented in classrooms across the country.more

Bretford Revisited

Classroom technology shoppers can win a free room of classroom technology furniture for 30 students and professionals simply by entering the “Oldest Product” video competition by Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. Bretford’s been around for decades and chances are when you were in school, you had Bretford products in your learning environment.

To participate, entrants must create and submit a video showing their oldest Bretford furniture product still in use today. I know for a fact there are plenty of 1960's Bretford AV carts laden with shared classroom projectors and document cameras rolling in the halls of schools across the country. What else is out there?more

Samsung Techwin Announces Contest Winners

Seven kids from across the country each earned $1000 for essays they wrote answering the question "Is technology a good investment for schools? Why or why not?” The papers were judged on original thinking, relevance to the real world, and writing quality.more

3D in the Classroom's Alive and Content's Afoot

3D entertainment is very cool. 3D sports, even cooler. But my exuberance for 3D projectors in the classroom knows no bounds. Beginning right around this time last year 3D exploded onto the scene and I got teary with thoughts of how it could revolutionize learning—especially for extreme visual learners in both the special education arena as well as in the mainstream whose needs and skills are often overlooked or unrecognized causing untold detriment to the student’s psyche.more

Making it Real

I read a great post by Erik Palmer in the ASCD Edge Network Community for educators with the heading "10 years in and still not with it." It was a simple post written by a teacher attending a conference and confronted with a speaker discussing 21st Century education. I chuckled at his cynicism and guessed it has been honed over a decade of attending such lectures where teachers are shown “cool new tools and barraged with lists of cool websites” but where nothing is achieved because attendees are “buried” in information.more

Value is the Word

There is no doubt about it, classroom technology shoppers look for value above all else. If this were not true, manufacturers would no longer produce SVGA projectors.more

Interactive Whiteboards Superfluous in the Classroom?

Writer and educator Lisa Neilson, recently published an article for Techlearning, entitled "The Ten No No's of Teaching with a Projector or Interactive Whiteboard." Currently the Technology Innovation Manager for the NYC Department of Education, Ms. Neilson has seen a lot of teachers at the front of many classes all using all projectors and whiteboards. I thought she’d have an interesting take on things and I was not disappointed. The article lists nine "no no" scenarios ranging from a teacher working with her back to the class to using a classroom projector as a blackboard replacement. She gives a description of the problem, the solution to remedy it, and the advantages of applying that solution.more

A Mind that Works Like Google Images

The first time I read “Thinking in Pictures” by Dr. Temple Grandin, I realized that her experience and her campaign to share her personal story as a woman with Autism has come at a deeply critical time—when parents and educators are struggling to reach and teach the rapidly rising numbers of children diagnosed with Austim Spectrum Disorder. It was a catchphrase from her TED lecture that stopped me dead in my tracks. She said “My mind works like Google Images.”more

Life Skills: Brought to you by Facebook

I just deactivated my son’s Facebook account. I did it for a multitude of reasons not least of which is the distraction factor. It is ironic because I was actually the person who set it up for him thinking he’d be able to help himself remain a known entity among the kids with whom he’d attend high school next year after having left the school district for 8th grade. Perhaps I should have encouraged him to play soccer instead. I read somewhere that for this generation of children, to share means to exist.more

Video Gaming is not a Crime

I just had to weigh in on the controversy surrounding the Cub Scouts decision to offer a merit pin for video gaming. I chuckled out loud when I saw it was a CNN headline and even louder when I saw the responses from readers--most of which were horrified. I just noted the parallels to debates in the world of 21st Century Skills and the 21st Century classroom and the polarizing affect technology has between those for whom its use is as much a part of their existence as getting dressed in the morning, and those with much less techno savvy and far more opinions about the lost youth of the upcoming generation.more

Wan2tlk About Poetry?

I thought I’d tag this on to my last blog post about the cultural divide between so called “digital natives”(our current generation of students) and the digital immigrants (their teachers). Many educators don’t necessarily accept the idea that in the so called 21st Century Classroom where all technology, even which previously considered taboo should be should be incorporated into the curriculum.more

The Technology Cultural Divide

I’ve been looking quite a bit into the technology cultural divide after reading a short but good article in e School News. It caught my eye because it cited the cold hard truth which is that our current generation of students has been irrevocably changed by the fact that it represents the first generation to have grown up completely surrounded by computers, video games, projectors, whiteboards, iPods, cell phones and video cameras. The very way they process information is fundamentally different thanks to their use of Facebook, Skype and text messaging among other mediums.more

3D Lessons in Compassion

The Connecticut legislature is considering a bill that would allow students to opt out of dissections during biology class. It was spurred by a vegetarian animal loving student who rejected the notion on moral grounds that it was acceptable to study life systems by cutting up a dead animal. The student herself cited the cruelties of the meat industry which provides the fetal pigs for dissection from the pregnant pigs they slaughter for meat.

Thirteen states currently have policies that allow students to use alternatives to dissection. I anticipate there will be many more that follow suit because there is an increasing awareness of the moral implications of dissection and animal testing.more

Classroom Technology Yay Nay or Maybe

It is fascinating for me to watch the myriad ways teachers are incorporating various forms of technology into their daily lessons, as well as to hear the reasoning behind those who maintain a more conservative approach.more

Picos and PECS

Technology has been enhancing lives of those with developmental disabilities for years. For this reason, I’m very surprised by the fact that as far as I can tell, the use of varied technology with children on the Autistic spectrum is quite limited-especially when a great number of Autistic children possess an uncanny attraction to technology.As such, it should become a priority to introduce and develop technology to increase or improve the skills needed for their daily independent functioning. This can include helping them with expressive communication, social interaction, attention, organization among others.more