Wednesday, March 26, 2008

XO Users - Connect!

There is a new jabber server set up on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle), and it's working great. It is one of only FOUR in North America currently functioning.

Briefly, a jabber server is a place XO laptop users can connect to that will allow them to share anything (pretty much) on their XO laptop with anybody else connected to the same server. This includes chat, video, write, and more... incredible technology!

Here's a link to the forum discussion with the location of the server: http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=2094.new#new

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 9:43 PM   1 Comments

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I talked with my brother today

This is a break from educational technology - to personal technology. So...

I talked with my brother today. He called me, and we talked. I called him back and we talked some more.

My brother Dave lives in Connecticut, and I'm in Seattle. He's deaf/blind(legally), and I'm lucky enough to still have those senses.

Video relay systemToday we spoke on the phone - well, I was on the phone at least. Dave was watching an interpreter on a TV (up really close) who signed to him what I said. His TV is hooked up to a camera, so the interpreter can see what he is signing, and relay that back on to me. Yes, in the middle of all this technology there is a person (maybe hundreds, I don't know) who makes it meaningful for the people on either end.

Just amazing technology. Carried over the Internet. Getting him a big new TV was only part of it - he needed high speed Internet access, too.

But he needed somebody to set up the hardware and software to make the magic happen. Someday I hope to meet James, from the HKNC, in person. We've spoken, via the same video relay system before, and we've exchanged lots of email. James, if you're reading here, a big shoutout thank you!

Video relay systemSo I spoke with my brother today, but for the first time, I could not reach out and touch him. I'm ever so grateful for the people with the vision to make this happen.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:54 PM   4 Comments

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

I never would have predicted this as the school year started. But that is just how fast technology changes.

I now have four XO laptops in my third grade classroom. We also have 12 screaming multimedia machines, 2 laser printers, and 5 wireless laptops.


Playing with Mark's XO
Originally uploaded by timlauer
Guess which computers are in the highest demand? The XO laptops, of course. Slow-mo, no matter. Small screens and limited processing speed, so what? If you are a kid, these machines are irresistable. Heck , if you're a grown-up, they're pretty cool, too.

Today we turned a page and leapt into another dimension. We started a chat with somebody in east Texas - Longview, to be exact. On the Internet, via a Jabber server.

My kids were really stunned. They had been having a great time the past week chatting with each other in class. But when somebody is writing to you, realtime, from 1,000 miles away, well, it makes you put down your crayons.

Hi, from LincolnWhen the school day was over I connected with "Hans" again, via chat. I set up one more of our XO's and joined it to the chat. I got another teacher to be in charge of that one. We soon switched to "Record". Take a picture on your XO, and everybody sees it. Record a video on your XO, and everybody sees it.

Real time. All three of us contributing - at once. We took pictures, we made videos. Everything each of us captured was available to all of us - immediately. This is such amazing technology, and the potential is so exciting.

My kids will have a fun day tomorrow. That IS what it's all about.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 10:04 PM   1 Comments

Monday, March 03, 2008

Third Time's the Charm

On February 28, 2008 I presented a one hour concurrent session, Third Time's the Charm - at NCCE in Seattle, WA. Here's how it went.

The idea of the whole thing was to talk about blogging with my third graders at roomtwelve.com. This is my third year doing so, hence the real catchy title... Part of my reason for presenting was that it was a requirement (to do a regional presentation) of the grant I was awarded last April, a 2007 Qwest Foundation Learning Technology Grant

I was extremely anxious about this presentation. Besides worrying about getting nervous speaking, there was the concern of nobody showing up - or just a handful. Anyway, I went on with my prep, did a PowerPoint preso (very little text), prepared a one page handout, made it into a pdf, and put all this stuff on a wiki: roomtwelve.wikispaces.com

There were 50 to 60 people there, easily 80% teachers, and most of them elementary. It was a good audience. The tech stuff set up easily, I was able to use my own laptop, and I was off....

Third Time's the CharmSo I just talked. I had been over this enough in my mind and with notes, so it was really a breeze. Then came the risky part. I checked my email in the middle of the preso to see if my kids had sent in any blog articles to be published.

Bingo! 25 emails were there, waiting for me to approve articles to my third graders' blogs. So we went on. We went over a few of them live, looking at the emails, navigating the back end of classblogmeister, the whole works. People asked a fair number of questions along the way, which was great. I had to cut some things short. I never thought I'd run out of time.

In the hurry to wrap it up, I forgot to ask if anybody had the answer to the bird quiz. I also forgot to start my mp3 recorder - I was going to use some of it in a podcast - darn!!

Here are the bird pics I showed. ID them correctly through a comment (without clicking on them of course), and win a prize! (well not really)


hmmm? Eating in a snowstorm hmmm?

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 7:01 PM   1 Comments

Sunday, March 02, 2008

24

Twin OrcasNo, it's not the TV show. It's the number of blog articles published by my third graders in the two days I was out of the classroom. Some posts were on a topic I had assigned, some were on a topic the sub came up with, and some were whatever the kids had on their minds. Now, I had to approve them for publication while I was at home or at my conference, but still...

There they were, basically working independently - thinking, writing, blogging. They had a great sub - but she knew nothing about how they write - blog. There are another 10 or so submitted articles I need to take a closer look at, offer feedback on, etc. Amazing.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 3:47 PM   0 Comments