Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Google Mail Transition Proposal

I worked collaboratively with our technology department to prepare this presentation and proposal for our school community. In this Slidecast recording, Steve Taffee and I gave a presentation to our school community on the proposed idea of moving from our current collaboration system, FirstClass, to Google Apps/Mail for Education as our core collaborative environment.

This slidecast is posted in the spirit of openness and sharing. It is also posted for any of our faculty and staff who were unable to attend the meeting after school today. A link to our planning site that we created for this proposed transition is included below the slidecast. Your comments and feedback are welcome.

Google Mail Transition - visit this site to view the work that we've done to this point on this proposal.

Google Transition FAQ Doc

Google Transition Planning Doc
(positives, negatives, and interesting points)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earthcast09 - Have your voice heard!

Please leave an audio comment in the Voicethread below...chance are that we'll play it during the Earthcast09 24 hour webcastathon which is taking place on Earth Day, 2009 (Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009). We'd love to have voices of all ages from all over the globe in this Voicethread.

Please spread the word!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Earthcast 2009 24 Hour Webcastathon!

Well, Earthcast/Earthbridges team member Jason Robertshaw has done it again. View the brief promo/teaser video that he created for this year's Earthcast09 24 Hour Webcastathon at the end of this post.  The Earthcast09 24 Hour Webcast will take place on Wednesday, April 22nd (we're observing the day as it moves through Greenwich, England, so it actually begins on Tuesday, April 21st at 5:00 pm here in the Bay Area). While we have many hours of the day covered, we still have several openings for participation and could really appreciate your help.  If you'd like to participate (even for just a few minutes,  drop us an email at earthbridges (at) gmail dot com or leave a comment on this blog.  We could really use some help from our friends in the Asiatic region of the globe as we have several uncovered hours from 5-9 GMT.  See the schedule as it exists so far at our plannning wiki to see what hours are still available.

Earthcast09 is essentially a 24 hour long live Internet broadcast about all things relating to the environment. Topics will include green energy, green technology, college campus sustainability efforts, an update from environmental law professor Jason Czarnezki, students from schools around the world sharing what they're doing to improve the planet, and live call-in segments where listeners share their thoughts and ideas about environmental issues. We have several hours of the day where elementary, middle, high school, and university students will be leading the conversations.

We'll be streaming this broadcast live over at Earthbridges.net for 24 hours straight, so please support our efforts by tuning in as much as possible throughout the day. And please spread the word about this project. 

Thanks again to Jason Robertshaw for this fantastic promo video!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Webcast: Moving to Google Mail/Google Apps for Education

This was a skype conference call that we streamed out to a ustream channel today on the topic of migrating to Google's enterprise mail system. We had a handful of other schools who have either made the decision or are pondering the decision to move toward Google for school/district mail hosting. We had a bumpy start early on in the conversation, but then things even out and I thought it ended up being a worthwhile experience.

As a side note, this enterprise collaboration/communication network is given out to K12 public/non-profit schools for free. More on Google Apps for Education here.

Thanks to all who contributed and participated!

Further resources and links:
Chat transcript from the ustream chat.

Resources passed along to us from our Google Apps Rep:
Top Ten Reasons to Switch to Google Apps/Mail
Who owns the data, security, and privacy issues...this document addresses these questions quite well. To quickly boil this one down, the school owns the data.
A six week migration strategy
Google Apps Education Edition FAQs
Other education organizations who are using Google Apps Education Edition

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This I Believe

I'm working with a colleague and a small team of students next Tuesday on a project very much inspired by the NPR "This I Believe" series. Tuesday is a community service day at our school and students chose this project from several different options.

The idea is for the students to articulate their own personal/philosophical beliefs in a way that ties into their beliefs about community service. Their end artifact will be some type of mixed media piece that they post at YouTube and then embed in a forum over at our moodle community for this project. Overall the group was positive on this and I think we're going to see some stellar samples.

Below is my sample and the artifact from my colleague Christy. I'm a big believer that we, as teachers, should take the risk and try these types of projects right along with the students as a way to not only model, but also as a means to develop our own skills with conveying a message via mixed media.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guest Host - Edtech Talk Brainstorm (ETBS)

Last night I twittered out a statement that I essentially have been thinking about for quite some time over the past couple of years. In my twitter post I said, "I'd like to see schools showcase wonderful learning artifacts of students in the same way that school athletic departments do." This is in no way a knock against the fine community building activities that school atheltic departments have been doing...it was more a statement of, "Why can't we showcast academics and non-athlectics like that?"

Doug Symington, the regular host of the standing Thursday night Edtechtalk.com show titled, "Edtech Talk Brainstorm," sent me a message asking if I'd like to guest host the Brainstorm and discuss that point a little further. I sent Doug a message saying I'd be happy to fill in. So I did. And the recording of this 60 minutes+ ETBS is posted below. We meandered quite a bit as often happens on the brainstorm and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Doug for joining remotely via cell phone to help get things started and thanks to Peggy George for joining me during the last half of the show. In the webcast we talked Gator Radio, the Kindle, student posting of learning artifacts, all things twitter, cheap time shifting technologies in schools, etc. Thanks to everyone who listened live...I will try to strip out a pure mp3 and get that posted over at the ETBS page at Edtechtalk.com soon.

Click here to listen to the audio in a ustream flash player. Again, I'll strip out the mp3 audio and repost when I get some time.

365/70 HP 2140 Netbook?

365/70 HP 2140 Netbook?
Originally uploaded by mjmonty
This is the HP 2140 10" Netbook that I've been demoing for the past 5 days or so. The students gave me this idea to dock it with an old display and that's what I did.

There is not a whole lot I don't like about this computer. It has a big hard disk (160 gig), is quite fast and responsive and of course it is highly mobile.  I really like how it docks with the laptop in the closed position.

I've presented with it to both students and adults over the past week and it has worked fine for that.

And now that I can dock it with this old 24" display, I'm liking it even more for office desk work. 

Monday, March 09, 2009

are we ready? Castilleja Mini-Conference Keynote Panel Podcast Recording

We Are Ready!

This is a podcast recording of our opening keynote panel that kicked off today's "are we ready?" mini-conference day from my school here in Palo Alto, CA. The panel features Denise Pope, Ericka Fur, and Rick Reis who are all from Stanford. I thought the panelists did a wonderful job of helping us frame the day's activities by asking some compelling questions of our community.

This recording is about 40 minutes in length.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Help Needed!

So I'll be moderating the opening keynote panel for a wonderful professional development day that we have planned at my school this coming Monday, March 9th. We have an excellent group of panelists from Stanford who have a great deal of experience in the area of interdisciplinary learning, differentiated instruction, assessment, and global education.

I'm fairly nervous about moderating this panel and could really use some help in developing some questions that we'll use to guide the keynote panel discussion. If you have any suggestions, I certainly would appreciate you jotting them down in the form of a comment here at this post.

By the way, we will ustream broadcast the keynote and a few other sessions. The link to the ustream channel that we'll use to broadcast the keynote is here...we'll also post the links to the ustream channels over at the mini-conference website. The broadcast of the keynote will begin at 8:30 am pacific (click here to convert to the time in your region of the globe).

Thank you for your help.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

365/60 FOSS Disc

365/60 FOSS Disc
Originally uploaded by mjmonty
This was my 365 photo of the day from yesterday and I decided to re-blog it over here...

FOSS CD (actually it is a DVD)-FOSS is an acronym for "Free and Open Source Software." I created this disc to have something to give out to community members when they stop by the office asking about what software they should buy for their computers. Often times I find that they aren't opposed to the notion of open source, but instead they just aren't even aware that it exists. More on the FOSS disc over at: castillejatech.wikispaces.com/Casti+FOSS+Disc

Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas for titles on this disc in the form of comments on my blog post about this idea from early January: middleschoolblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/free-and-open-sourc...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Math is not the most important subject!"

I agree with Ken Robinson's quote in in the title of this post. I agree that we've all been given the message that there is a clear hierarchy in schools with the math and sciences being at the top, the arts at the bottom, and everything else in the middle. We're also all quite familiar with the disconnected nature of schools where information is packaged into neat little bundles called subjects that are taught at different grade levels. The real world doesn't know "subjects." And we certainly don't know a world where we work with everyone in teams where all members are of the same age (wow, that would be really weird). Everything is inter-related and connected. Perhaps this model worked in a 20th century world where information was scarce and came at a premium, but I'm not so certain it will continue to work going forward. So what are we going to do??

I'm wondering if schools, with their industrial age model of departments, grade levels, bell schedules and gate keepers of knowledge will ever be able to make the systemic transition to a place where students are doing real work. Perhaps this is where Christensen's theory of "Disruptive Innovation" will come into play.

In this video you'll see wonderful examples of some schools that pioneering a model where members of the learning community are doing real work.

Be sure to watch this 8 minute video in its entirety. It is an excellent overview on project based learning and interdisciplinary learning. A special shout out goes to Mrs. Durff for sharing this on her blog.