Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Technology Tidbits: Couple Websites

Hope everyone has been staying safe on those slippery roads!  It has been quite an interesting few days weather-wise...nice temperatures, but the rain, and/or fog has made for some hazardous traveling conditions.  I know my kids have been dissappointed we didn't have a late start the past 2 days.

Go Elks!

Good Luck tonight to the Elks and the Lady Elks as the take on the Flandreau Indian School in Double Header BB action here in Elkton.

Schedule Notice:  Since I will be working at the "technology training" inservice here in Elkton tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 30th), I will make my weekly trip to Lake Benton on Thursday this week.

Sign Up to Follow our Twitter page!

A reminder to sign up to follow the Elkton School Twitter account:  @ElktonSchool .  I try to put announcements and updates on there every week day.  So if you are out and about and can't remember when something school related is coming up...you can use the twitter app on your mobile phone, and check the school's twitter feed.  It's pretty handy.  (I've used it this way already).

Today's Topic:  A couple of interesting Websites

From the site:  

This 21things4students (21t4s) Project was developed to equip students with 21st Century Technology Skills, for success in their education, jobs, and lifelong learning experiences.

21 Things - We selected 21 areas of Web 2.0 tools, all FREE, for your learning and exploration. Each of the areas is called a "Thing" and you can receive a special badge for each thing you complete. Some "Things" have more than one badge, and some have "Gems" for completing advanced levels.

Our Mission - is to provide a fun and project-based experience for you as you build your skills using different Web 2.0 tools available on the Internet.

Basically, this is a really, really neat site for helping kids to develop technology skills.  

From the site:

Takeaway: Wally Bahny suggests five web apps that you can use to hone your IT skills as well as make yourself smarter in other business-related areas.
While IT folks are, of course, some of the smartest people on the planet, even we need to keep our skills sharp. There may even be skills we don’t currently have that might make us more useful or perhaps advance our career. I’ve assembled five web apps (with a bonus sixth selection!) that you can use to hone your IT skills as well as make yourself smarter in other business-related areas.
Although this site is geared more toward IT people (ME), it could certainly be helpful for anyone who has their own computer (and/or wireless network at home).  Sites such as WikiHow and Mind Tools are great resources, and could help anyone with "techno troubles".
So there you go... One site for helping your students develop technology skills, and another site with resources to help you develop some technology skills.  That's what I call a "Win/Win".
Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is "Catfishing"?

So, unless you were hibernating in a cave last week, you probably heard something about the Manti Te'o story.  It seems the All American linebacker for the Fighting Irish was taken in by something called a "Catfish" scheme.

In a nutshell, Te'o's "girlfriend", who supposedly died of leukemia in September, never existed...and was actually a dude from California, who orchestrated the whole hoax.  The story was broke by the sports blog Deadspin.com, and was soon being covered by all the major media outlets.

So, what does this have to do with education?  Well, not much so much with actual education and teaching...however the environment that our students exist in, is very different than any previous generation.

We live in the age of social media.  Nearly every High School student has a social media account of some kind or another (Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, etc, etc...)  In fact, I would venture a guess that most students have MORE than 1 social media account.

So what is a "Catfish"?  According to the Urban Dictionary:  Catfish -catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Evidently, this behavior became more of a phenomenon, after a 2010 Documentary film was released. The success of the film, led to the producers being offered a television deal by MTV, which premiered this past November.

This is the reality of life that our students today are living in.  People are doing this sort of thing for "sport" or "fun".  It's not unusual behavior.

I think the important thing to do, is to make sure that children are educated in safe behavior in social media.  There are a number of good websites with articles and/or lists of ways to do this, such as this one from Common Sense Media.

Students in general, need to be aware, that people who contact them online, through the use of social media, MAY not be who they appear to be...and to not give out any personal information.

Teachers, talk to your students and make sure they know what safe online behavior is; and parents...talk to your children about their online activity.  Ask them who they are talking to...make sure that you are included in their list of "followers" or "friends" so you can see who they are communicating with publicly.  Be vigilant, and help our students/children as much as we can.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Guest Review and update

First of all, a quick review of the Nexus 7 Tablet from our own Ag. Sciences Teacher...Dan Robbins!

FYI…   gave my kids their own nexus 7, can setup other users which is nice so the wife and I steal them too and have our google accounts/apps/backgrounds all ready to go as well!

Here was a review I pretty much can agree with…

Went w/ the 32gb as thinking more media/movies get loaded on them.
Also set went to our library for the kids’ account numbers up the SD online library for ebooks and that works nicely.
Been hunting for educational apps, they are there but, really have to hunt for good stuff.

Over the Christmas/New Years Break I was able to do some updating to the student's netbooks.

A quick rundown of what was done:
1.  Installed Windows updates on all computers...this took a long time, several hours for some of the netbooks.
2.  Installed iTester on each of the netbooks.
3.  Made some tighter restrictions on the Cybersitter program.  This isn't something I really wanted to do, however, we had a handful of students (less than 10, more than 4...) install some "chat" clients on their netbooks, and so I had to tighten the restrictions on social networks and chat, and that type of thing.  So if you hear the students whining about more things being blocked, this is why.

If you find the students computers are blocked from going to a site that you need for educational purposes... I can "whitelist" any sites...although that would need for me to come to the room, and put them on each individual computer.

Which is a pain, but if we are going to have illegal chat clients installed (which leads to malware and viruses...of which we did have some)... I have to tighten the bottleneck.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Photos Needed for school website!

Ladies and Gentlemen, and readers of the Blog!

I need to update the slideshow on the school's webpage.


It would be good to have any pictures of Christmas concerts, basketball games, etc, etc...

Please submit any photos you think would be applicable to:  mark.harming@k12.sd.us

Thank you.

Creating a User Password...Netbooks

When installing the updates and itester programs on your netbooks over break, I had to "remove" the password for most users... so to "create" a user password... use the following steps.

Creating a User Password
  1.   Click on the Windows Icon on the bottom left of your screen. 
  2.  In the “Search” box type in the word “password”.
  3. Select the option “Change your Windows password”
  4. Click on the link “Create a password for your account”
  5. Type in your password, then confirm it…also you can type a hint in the password hint box.
  6. Click on Create Password Button.
  7. Go Forth and Learn!