Mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc) should change education. But how can we do it well?

Mobile devices have become so powerful now it is hard to believe. All of the photos and video in this post were shot on my HTC Evo phone by Sprint. Most, if not all, of the middle and upper school students I work with have phones of this caliber. As a technology director I'm often thinking about how standardized systems support ease of adoption and support in schools. At my school every teachers in the middle and upper school has the same laptop, in the lower school, the faculty have the same laptop. Each student in grades 8-12 has the same laptop in each grade. This means teachers know what students have, and the tech team can easily support them as the knowledge needed is limited by the limited models.

But, if the real issue is certain generic capabilities of the tools (photos, video, writing, audio, Internet access), perhaps standardized equipment is not necessary. I am not convinced by this, but am somewhat enchanted by it. People using their own tools in ways that they are comfortable with. Will that meet the needs of teachers trying to utilize technology for higher-order learning? I don't doubt that it could, but I struggle with how to be strategic in an institution doing it.

Are you letting people bring any device to school? Giving them access to your network? Letting teachers manage dozens of different ways of approaching lesson objectives? What are the advantages? What are the drawbacks?

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How we streamed and remote keynoted the NCAIS Innovate Conference #ncinnov8

I had to draw it up before I forgot, but here's the setup for the NCAIS Innovate conference broadcast. @alexragone was in New York City, @vvrotny was in Chicago, and I (@arvind) was live in North Carolina. We conducted a live webcast of our show 21st Century Learning by interviewing @kellyhines, @msstewart, and @plugusin. The team at #ncinnov8 was awesome, hospitable, and just plain fun. The audio/video of the broadcast is being edited and will come out as soon as we can get it out. Thanks to Kelly, Meredith and Bill for the wonderful conversation.

Lastly, but not leastly, big props to @samandjt for his and his team's incredible work getting the tech set up. We did some last-minute tweaking (read: a lot) and they handled it with grace.

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How we did the recording and live streaming of #TEDxNYED

TEDxNYED used more than $100,000 of equipment (most of which we rented for ~$9,000) to record/broadcast live in HD. We are currently editing the videos which will be placed on TEDx's YouTube channel. @mjmontagne asked me via Twitter if we would share our AV setup, so I fired up Inspiration and made a quick visual. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

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Getting Internet access for communities of color is easier said than done

The Open Internet Debate: Redlining 2.0

Racewire is one of the few places covering how net neutrality legislation affects people of color in particular. They are in support of a regulated national broadband plan that would help protect "certain" communities from being left out and/or targeted - they make a comparison to the unregulated mortgage industry which preyed on people of color. This is an important issue to keep in mind as you watch the evolving dialog around broadband laws.

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Learning About Keeping Your Child Safe Online

Today a colleague of mine and I gave a talk to middle school parents at our school on ways to teach your child about appropriate boundaries and behaviors online. We shared a number of links and I thought my readers (if there are any!) might find them useful for use in your own schools and with your own families. There are a lot, but they are great! We watched the video, "Do You Know 4.0"

The Pew Internet and American Life Project did a study called Generational differences in online activities which summarizes the different things that different age groups do online - from e-mail to social networking, and everything in between.

David Pogue has a well-written article in the New York Times titled, How Dangerous Is The Internet For Children where he breaks down the myths and truths regarding children online. In that article is a link to the PBS Frontline documentary Growing Up Online, which is well worth your time to watch. You can watch it online for free.

We discussed a New York Times article titled, Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain, which discusses how women and girls actually produce the majority of image/video driven content on the web, breaking some of the myths of boys/girls and technology.

We discussed how the biggest threat to our children is bullying and sexual harassment and looked at an article about students and parents resorting to "Facebook sabotage" and sending colleges "dirt" on prospective students.

If you and/or your daughter are using Facebook, do read the article 5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook.

We looked at a tremendous parent online safety guide created by Wes Fryer that includes resources/articles/lessons on: filtering, limits, social networking, instant messaging, parent resources and more.

From your questions

A number of you asked wonderful questions, and we told you that we'd include links to resources on regarding those questions. Here they are:

Creating family guidelines

We discussed creating guidelines for your family that are clear for your child and you. NetSmartz has a great age-based list of guidelines that you may want to consider.

Multitasking and brain development

The Dana Foundation has a good primer called Brain Development in a Hyper-Tech World which tells us that little is yet known about the effects of all the technology in our children's lives. We do know however that "multitasking," or fast attention switching makes learning much less productive than focused work. The article also discusses social development in the age of Facebook.

Questions about spelling

Research shows that text message speak does not harm spelling skills. Article from the Telegraph.

The Curriculum, Technology, and Education Reform master's program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a good summary of some of the research regarding using computers for writing, including critiques of and benefits of using spell check software.

Filtering your home computer

We don't recommend any particular brand of filters for home. That being said, many families find it helpful to block out objectionable content or block certain websites/applications at certain times. GetNetWise has a section that highlights popular filtering tools.

PC Magazine has an article on Child-Safe Browers.

Misinterpreting e-mail

50% of all e-mail is misinterpreted, even that written by the best writers. Know that when you are sending and reading e-mail, and discuss this with your children.