Thursday, March 31, 2011

Easy Mobile Photo Editing

I had to Tweet about Adobe showing off their Photoshop for iPad.  I am in no way a serious photoshop user, in fact I often retreat to the much friendlier Fireworks.  It has a lot less to offer than Photoshop, but for what I do, webish stuff, it does the trick.

I was trolling the Droid Marketplace a while back and came across Photoshop Express for Droid (there is also an iPhone/iPad App available, iTunes it!) and this little app is quite powerful.  It helps me when I am posting pictures that I capture with my droid and make it look like I might almost have a clue to taking a picture, which I admittedly don't, but its nice feel like I know what I am doing.

If you haven't tried it out yet, I highly recommend giving it a look, it is Free, yes Free, which any photoshop user would appreciate that price, and most everyone would approve of a quality free app.

Simple Expectations on impossible demands

One of the coolest things about being in my position.  I get to experiment with new technology before I deploy it for district use.  I love being able to install new software and check if its even worth taking to the technology committee and from there rolling out a test phase and finally full implementation.

On the opposite side of a new rollout is the crowd of resistance.  I understand that people like to feel comfortable, don't like surprises, and enjoy know the expectations.  That being said, it drives me crazy beyond belief how the crowd of resistance will on some issues fight until the bitter end.

Three years we transitioned from an Exchange Server to using Google Apps free solutions for 2 major reasons, costs and maintenance.  I stood in front of my staff of 42 and there were a handful of people who were dismayed and just didn't know how they could make the switch.  I had one who had over 13,000 saved email's and believed that everyone needed to be saved.  Now thankfully his computer was an iMac running OS 8 so there was no way(I know there is) I could upload his email to the Google Apps account.  So the compromise was that he could keep his old iMac and access it as he needed, the machine has sat motionless, turned off for the past 2 years, I approached him about removing the Mac and got chased out of the room saying he may need to check those old emails....

I guess my point is that I am not trying to be impossible, yes I know its an inconvenience when people have been doing one thing for 5 years and it is working just fine, why fix what isn't broken.

At the same time, 3 years later, I am having the same battle with Google Docs.  I am not trying to get my staff to transfer everything to Google Docs, the opposite is true, I instead want the students to use Google Docs cause it would give them the ability to have there work with them at all times there is an internet connection.  But after doing trainings with students, teachers turn around and tell them to use Office.  Why, oh why do you fight me logic.  All I want is to go to sleep knowing my students are uploading their misspelled, over-plagiarized work to the Cloud.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ok, my one simple internet rule

The internet is vast sea of knowledge and lies.  If there is one thing that I have learned from my use of the interweb over the years is that there is one simple rule to follow:

"Everything you read on the internet is true, if you don't believe everything you read."

Now I am not saying we shouldn't read, the opposite is quite true, we need to read more critically.  Anyone with a computer and by hacking their neighbors internet connection can publish a blog.  Which is scary, but I could make a blog post about how growing a mullet will make you do better in school with no more work.  Give you some fake numbers and say its the truth.

Thats the problem and the reason we need to read more critically.  A critical reader would check the proof, look for evidence to either validate or refute my claims.

Any logical person can sit back and say that makes a heck of a lot of sense, but how much are we actually fact checking.  But Andrew Wakefield and the entire Vaccinations cause Autism contingent sure didn't do any fact checking.

The New York Times and The Lancet didn't do their homework when they published and then supported the findings of the 1998 study and now a mere 13 years later and millions (I made that number up!) of unvaccinated children here the papers sit calling Andrew Wakefield the only guilty party.

Anyone who had done any construction, knows the saying "Measure twice, cut once."  When will the day come when we say, "Read Twice, Fact Check Once?"

One of the negatives and positives of being the Director of Technology (sounds much more special than Technology Coordinator) is the phone calls that I get from vendors offering their products and services.  Most of the time these products are just outside the scope of a small K-12 district.  The other day I got a phone call from a sales rep from and I immediately was ready to give the standard reply of, "send me your information and I will get back to you."  So I got the information in about 5 minutes, first part of the puzzle that made me think this may be legit.  Meaning that the sales rep actually took the time at least create the email and send it to me, normally, I would guess they have a spam list of phone numbers to call and just go down the list.

I went over to the website and I have to say I was impressed.  The website is a learning module, standards based website designed for Grades Pre-K through 6th Grade.  I went home that night and showed my 7 year old daughter, she was actively engaged for about 40 minutes and I knew I was on to something.  I came back to school the next day and made a video for my staff, in the next two my teachers were asking how they can use it more.

Needless to say, it was a nice little phone call that I received and it has worked out very well so far.  So head on over to and take a look and see if it is something that you could integrate for 21st century skills