Monday, December 31, 2007

New Software Update on Apple's iPhone

The iPhone is in the news again. Gear Live has announced an update to the iPhone firmware to version 1.1.3. Some of this upgrade seemed pretty hokey, like watching the icons vibrate when they are ready to be moved. Other parts of this are totally awesome like the addition of the Hybrid capabilities to Google Maps. It will also allow you to turn Safari bookmarks into buttons on your screen so you can immediately jump to that page on the Web. A true example of using the Web as your platform.

If you watch the video to the end, they are going to be giving away a free iPhone with the Gear Live logo emblazoned on the back of it.

Imagine if every student had an iPhone-like handheld computing device to use in the classroom. This wouldn't be considered cheating or providing unfair advantage, it would just be using the resources to enrich the learning environment to expand the experience beyond listening to a teacher lecture.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!! This promises to be a year full of surprises and exciting events.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Got My XO computer from OLPC

I GOT MY XO!!!!!

Well, actually, I got it about a week before Christmas, but with all the preparations I didn't get a chance to blog about it. Also, I showed incredible restraint by telling myself that I would not seriously play with it until I got my grades submitted. What self control!!!!

You can see that it's a little smaller than the average laptop computer. Actually it is a lot smaller than my MacBook. The XO screen (and usable space) measures 9" x 6". My MacBook is 13" x 9". That's OK. It's designed for children.
I was amazed by the sophistication of this computer.
  • It has a 7.5" screen (diagonal).
  • It sports a microphone and camera.
  • No moving parts but it has a 1 GB flash drive. (This memory can be augmented with an SD card slot in the lower right corner of the screen below the power switch - don't know the capacity.)
  • Ready with 802.11 b/g wireless.
  • Comes with 19 programs including a browser, word processor, recorder (audio, still and video), draw, musicmaker, TurtleArt (Logo), eToys (multimedia authoring tool - looks comprehensive), Pippy (programming language), calculator, news reader, and a variety of other programs that I don't understand yet. Here is a site that explains them all
  • Runs on Linux so I can download programs for free. I have already downloaded SimCity and a variety of games. Only problem is that I have problems reading some of them on the 7.5" screen.
  • When I go to the Community-mode, I can see the various wi-fi access points in my immediate area. I can't wait until I find someone else with an XO so we can peer-to-peer file share. I haven't figured out how to go peer-to-peer with my MacBook.
  • My MacBook's screen runs on 40 watts of power. The XO screen takes 2 watts.
  • IT'S AMAZING!!!!!
Problems or Things I Haven't Figured Out Yet:
  • The keyboard is too small for me to touch type. You can see this in the photo. I have to remember that this computer is designed for kids. They have smaller hands. The kids of Asian countries have MUCH smaller hands than I do.
  • Don't know how to access my flash drive when I insert it into one of the 3 USB ports. Nor do I know how to access the SD cards when I put them in the slot.
  • I still haven't figured out how to use Sugar (the Linux-based interface designed especially for kids to use on this computer.)
  • The documentation is all supposed to be online at but it isn't in-depth enough for me. You know that we Digital Immigrants (gotta love that Dave) sometimes need a little help to get over our lack of intuitive insight. =-)
I truly believe that the XO is the beginning of a new revolution in computing. It isn't that this computer is the greatest computer on the planet, but it is a fully-functional wireless multimedia laptop that has broken the $200 price barrier. Granted that this is not a machine for MMORPG online gaming. It does not sport the multimedia recording equipment needed for making YouTube videos, but it has shown that a laptop doesn't have to be a $2,000 investment.

I thank Dr. Negroponte for developing a dream and allowing us to begin on the journey to affordable, accessible computing in education so that computers aren't devices that we visit every Friday to learn about keyboarding. They can become integral learning machines that will provide the palettes and canvases needed to release creativity in children ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Dr. Z

Other XO First Impression Reviews
Kathy Schrock - XO Laptop from OLPC Arrives!
Scott McLeod - XOs for my XO

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Makes a Good PowerPoint?

I have spent years teaching students how to make good PowerPoint presentation. It seems to be working because their PPTs are getting better each year.

The interesting thing is that the most effective way to teach success with PowerPoint is not to show them examples of good ones. It is to show them how bad PowerPoints can be.

I just found a YouTube video of what appears to be a comedy routine done by Don McMillan. I don't use the word "appears" because it isn't funny. I use it because it looks and sounds like it is filmed in a comedy club. Don does a good job of showing REALLY BAD PPTs.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First OLPC computers deployed in Uruguay

It was exciting to see today that the first XO computers have been deployed at Escuela No. 24 in Villa Cardal, Uruguay. I was inspired to see Ivan Krstić's posting about his trip below the equator to deliver the first batch of the production models.

This delivery is actually an upgrade replacement for the beta units that were previously used down there. Just the beginning of the 100,000 that Uruguay has ordered. What I thought was interesting about Ivan's posting was an aside that he includes about some usage data that he got from the beta computers. Apparently, he had included some
data seems to measure usage. He found that, in 6 months, "kids created on average 1200 files or about 30-50MB on each machine, much of it writing and photographs from the built-in camera." I don't know if each computer was limited to an individual child. I would image that's the case since it is One Laptop Per Child. That's about 7 files a day. Sounds like they weren't neglected.

Of course, the next question is what kind of files were created. That is for another posting when the data is available.