Ding Dong is Ning Dead?

May 4, 2010

If you’re an educator using Ning, like me, you’re probably disappointed to hear the news that Ning has decided to end its free service. I first discovered and began sharing Ning with teachers in the 08-09 school and it took some time for me to sell it.  This year many teachers have incorporated Ning in their classrooms, just in time for the free service to end.

An ominous e-mail broke the news of “new and exciting changes” coming to Ning in July. Generally it’s a bargain, $2.95 per month or $19.95 for a year, but many teachers have already expressed their concern for having to pay to use Ning. I just wish there was a way they would consider making Ning free for educators…  but wait! What’s this? There’s more.

Good News!! After exploring Ning’s site I discovered that “A major educational company has offered to sponsor Ning Mini Networks for educators globally in primary and secondary education. More details to come soon!”

Could my wish really come true?

~Rob Kovi


The state of slates in our classrooms

May 4, 2010

A new interest of mine to explore benefits of wireless slates versus interactive whiteboards in the classroom. With a bit of luck I’ve acquired three slates from different manufacturers and plan test them all in a variety of classroom settings. I will write more in later posts about the specifics of the products but for now, may the best slate win.

The three contenders are:

  • SMART Slate® – A blue tooth device that works in conjunction with the SMART Notebook®  software.
  • eInstruction INTERWRITE MOBI® – A RF device that works in conjunction with INTERWRITEWORKSPACE®  software.
  • Polyvision eno mini slate This a blue tooth device but unlike the other two devices there are no electronics in the slate.  All the electronics are in the pen. The mini slate makes use of an eno driver  RM Easiteach software.

For those new to ‘slates’, a wireless slate is a device that allows you interact with content on your computer from anywhere in the classroom.  Slates can be used in conjunction with an interactive white board or stand alone with a computer and projector. They provide all the pen tools and click features from a handheld tablet or slate. If you hover the pen it works like a mouse. If you touch the pen to the board it clicks or writes depending and depending on the tool selected a variety of other things.

The beauty of these tools is that the teacher can interact wirelessly with the content projected at the front of the classroom from any where in the room and the slate can easily be passed to students in the room so they can do the same. In addition, most slates cost about $400 and can easily be moved from room to room.

I have many things to explore but the first bit of trouble we have encountered is the small learning curve for using the slate. I seem to have picked it up quickly and after a few minutes of use had little difficulty writing neatly and drawing different shapes. Some others have taken a bit longer. They trouble is that nothing appears on the slate when you write so it takes a little practice to look at the screen and write on the board without seeing a result.

I thought students would be quick to learn by they struggled too.  With a little practice they work well and the students are eager to try the tools and overcome their difficulties.  So far everyone has been successful with a little effort.  hand-to-eye coordination. The writing does not appear on the slate, only in the projection.

Stay tuned for updates on our adventures.

~Rob Kovi


Should we be integrating technology?

May 4, 2010

I’ve recently read Chris Lehmann’s and David Warlick’s blogs about integrating technology. As a technology resource teacher, I am constantly preaching to teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. But after reading this article from TechLearning (http://www.techlearning.com/article/28304) I am beginning to change the way I think. I want to focus less on learning how to integrate technology and focus more on how technology helps us learn how to learn. Over the summer, I will be devising ways to make technology in education more, “like oxygen – ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” (Chris Lehmann, http://twitter.com/sukanti/status/10092625603)kodonnell