I have to apologize for not blogging sooner. I have just started a new career in insurance, and have been busy studying and passing tests. I love "teaching" people one-on-one rather than 20 to 1, but the regulations associated with insurance are 10 times worse than anything in teaching. More on that later.
As you probably know, this summer I debated the type of computer to get my daughter for high school. After much debate, we finally settled on an iPad and are working out the bugs associated with any new technology. So, I was intrigued when my oldest daughter got a brochure about technology at UW-Madison where she will be a freshman in a couple of days. Part of it was an FAQ with this question: "Laptop vs. Netbook vs. Desktop". Apparently, the UW doesn't think tables are worth mentioning as a "real" computing device.
What do you think? Do you know anyone who is using a table at college? How is it working for them?
Well, we did it. In case you don’t recall or didn’t know, earlier this year I took a poll on what type of computer to buy for my high school freshman. Although tablets were out voted by a 2 to 1 margin, I couldn’t find any overwhelming reason not to give one a try. Especially since my daughter really wanted one. The more a child wants something, the more likely it is to get used. So, about a month ago, we went to our local computer reseller and took a serious side-by-side look at three different tablets: A windows machine, an Android Honeycomb machine and an iPad 2. Here’s what we found. Your results may differ.
So, we went with an iPad 2. Tried to get a 16 meg machine, but they only had 32 megs in stock. We also bought a lot of accessories to go along with it: carrying case w/Bluetooth keyboard, car charger, HDMI output, and a few others.
Hopefully this blog will give periodic updates to how well (or not) my daughter is doing with her iPad. For starters, though, I would strongly recommend a full-sized keyboard. We tried out the Bluetooth one, and she thought it would be OK, but after actually using it for a few days, she wishes we could have bought the full-sized one. Just little things – like there’s only one shift key and it’s not on the side she normally uses – are enough to miss a keyboard. We will have to wait and see if the Bluetooth one is worth taking to school.
Now it’s your turn. Have you or your child gotten a new computer (tablet, netbook, laptop, or desktop) for high school? If so, share your story.
Yesterday, I received a letter from State Senator Robert Cowles with an update on the WiscNet situation. The exact quote is, "The legislature has requested an audit of this program, so the funding has been restored for the next 2 years." While that is good news for now, it sounds like a stall tactic. I can’t imagine that there aren’t “audits” already in place for WiscNet, and any information they may need is readily available. I can imagine that this will pop back into some legislation with the hopes that the general public won’t notice. Call me paranoid…
Stay tuned & stay vigilant.
With my thanks to Bill Herman, here's a good description of the Wiscnet fiasco.
"For anyone who hasn't had time to catch up yet, here are the basics:
Right now is the time to call your representatives, and urge them to remove sections 23-26 of the 'UW Budget Bill.' Please forward this to parents as well. We all share an interest in preserving the best possible technology access for our students.
The bill will be voted on in a matter of days. Politicians respond to pressure. You can find out who your legislators are and how to contact them at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx
For more information, you can read the proposal as approved by Joint Finance at http://wispolitics.com/1006/110603UW_omnibus.pdf. The relevant sections are 23-26."
You can also check out the Wiscnet home page at www.wiscnet.net and read Superintendent Tony Ever's response.
I have some questions for anyone on the JFC. If anyone can get them to answer, I'm sure we would all appreciate it.
If you are not from Wisconsin, let me know if your state has any state-wide ISP like Wiscnet. Is your state's ISP under attach? Like many other political stunts, I don't believe this is an isolated event. I believe this is another ploy by Republicans to undermine the people in the state. What do you think?
If you would like to help, send a letter to your representatives and spread the news to everyone you know.
Here is an example of a letter from Mark Scheppke, Technology Coordinator for the School District of Altoona.
"As the technology coordinator for the School District of Altoona, I want to in the strongest terms possible insist that you remove section 23:26 of the UW System Omnibus motion introduced by Sen. Harsdorf and Rep. Strachota relating to the Building Community Capacity Project, BTOP.NTIA grant.
The Federal grant is designed to help many small communities in Wisconsin get fast and inexpensive connectivity to the Internet. This may be the only way that small towns in our area such as Gilman or Colby receive these services. Big commercial players like ATT and Charter Communications do not have interest in providing small markets with high-end services. Imagine if the the phone companies in the 1920's and 1930's were not required to provide Universal Telephone Service to rural areas, most of northern and central Wisconsin would not have telephone service. What if the sitting State Legislative body back in the 1950's decided to turn down federal funding to build the Interstate highway system through the rural areas of Wisconsin? The Internet is the telephone and Interstate system of the 21st century. The Federal grants were written and awarded based on their merit. In the end taxes will be saved, dynamic and beneficial partnerships will be created and much needed services will be provided. Don't stand in the way of progress initiated by willing partners such as the Chippewa Valley Internetworking Consortium (CINC) by turning away Federal funds.
Wiscnet provides the majority of schools and libraries in the state great products and extraordinary service at lower cost to the taxpayers than commercial entities ever could or would. If you are for saving taxpayer money, why would even consider destroying this vital service that so many public entities rely on? Allow Wiscnet to continue to do what it does best, provide outstanding services to it's customers and save taxpayer dollars.
Remove sections of the bill that do harm to schools, libraries, cities and other public entities!"
On May 19, Amazon announced that, less than four years after their introduction, the sales of Kindle books surpassed those of hardcover and paperbacks combined. What’s even more amazing is that this does NOT count free eBooks, but DOES count printed books that are not available on the kindle. While I couldn’t find any sales statistics like that for Barnes and Noble, I think it’s safe to say they aren’t quite as good due to their physical stores. Still, it’s another nail in the coffin for printed material. How long will it be before books go the way of Beta tapes?
I’m sure you have heard about the theft of personal information from Sony. It’s not the first time personal information was hacked, nor will it be the last time. If you are concerned about keeping your private information private, I’d like to share a news story on this subject.
I remember a TV station doing a story on how easy it was to get personal information. They walked up to a person in a parking lot and asked, “Do you mind if we find out everything we can about you and report back to you in three days?” When the person said, “No”, the reporter copied down the license plate number and left.
Three days later, they showed up at the person’s house with the names, birthdates, SSN’s etc. for everyone living in the house. They also knew all the mortgage details (some that even the owner didn’t know). When asked how they got all this information, the reporter said they paid a private investigator $250.
The scary part of this story is that it was in the late 1970’s – before the Internet made getting this information easier. My guess is the only difference between then and now is that, instead of taking three days, they would be able to make the 5 o’clock deadline.
The point here is that if someone wants to get your personal information, they will. It doesn’t matter that it was Sony this time or simply stealing credit card numbers, it’s impossible to stop determined people from getting information. We need to be vigilant but not paranoid; be watchful, but not a hermit. And it really doesn’t matter if we are “online” or not. We can live in a technological world without losing everything.
For a little fun while testing your knowledge, play the Identity Theft Face Off game from Federal Trade Commission.
Do you have a technology question? Something you'd like help with, or something you'd like comments about? Go ahead and post it here. This blog will be moderated, and inappropriate material will be deleted.
This survey was sent out mostly to technologically savvy educators, and they overwhelmingly said a laptop computer was the way to go. Officially, it was 70% laptop, 30% tablet, 0% desktop. Sorry, desktop makers. :-(
Now, I challenge you to ask a bunch of 8th, 9th, or 10th graders what they want. I would not be surprised if the results were exactly flip-flopped: 70% tablet, 30% laptop. Why? There may be a lot of reasons, but the reality is – It really doesn’t matter. Our students want and will be getting tablets for graduation. The real question is – what are we going to do about it?
These really cool looking tablets don’t necessarily fit into our game plan. But not only should they fit, we will be doing a disservice to our students if we don’t make them work. We need to figure out how to make them work for us when we are geared toward a laptop world. Is this going to be a problem?
Suppose a parent comes to you with the "tablet or laptop" question. What will you tell them? If we look at all of the advantages and disadvantages of both, which one comes out on top?
Which one is easier to carry all day?
Which will last longer without needing to be recharged?
Both can type papers, do Internet research, email assignments, etc. , so which has the advantage? Certainly a keyboard is necessary for any lengthy papers, but will a virtual keyboard suffice for taking notes in school? Remember to put yourself in the shoes (or fingers) of the student here. Does the “coolness factor” or whatever other reason for getting a tablet outweigh the disadvantage of clumsy typing?
When my daughter asked about getting a tablet, I had the same initial response as most of you: A laptop would definitely be better (and cheaper). But, as I researched it more, I have come to the conclusion that a tablet might be better. The bottom line for me came down to one question: Which one will be used more? Getting a tool that a student WANTS to use versus one they HAVE to use can make a huge difference.
So, teachers be prepared. When I come to you, I am not going to be asking which one to get. I am going to be asking you how my daughter will be using her new tablet in your class. What will you say?
PS I know most tablets don’t have DVD players, some don’t do flash, and there are other reasons why laptops might be better. But, the point is tablets are here to stay in some form or another. We have to adapt to this new environment just the same as we adapted to laptops when they were the newest tech on the block.
I will be tweeting the results, so if you are interested click to follow me.
Dave's Affordable Design is in the Technology Education and Consulting business. Read more about Dave here.