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Whats New In The Cloud? December 10, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Cloud, Cloud Computing, Data Portability, Economics, Information Technology.
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The Cloud.  That vast and curious location that seems to be good for everything.  We can store our photos, our books, our music, and our various working files there.  Beyond all of that data, we can also do real computing in the cloud.  The sort of computing that we used to accomplish on large corporate computing infrastructure or even on our own personal computers.  So why does this matter?

Well, the changes and transformation of services that are being made available to both companies and individuals are affecting the way we use our computers, our laptops, our tablets, and our smart phones.  Consider some of the changes that have already been adopted by many:

  1. Keep your music on iTunes and use iTunes match to sync all of your songs across all your devices anytime and anywhere they are connected to the Internet network.  This is the cloud jukebox that you own and it is ready to play your music anytime.
  2. Buy your books on Amazon and you have a permanent digital library that spans your iPad, your Kindle, your iPhone, your computer, and any other digital device you own.  Download any of your “books” at any time from the Cloud Library and enjoy reading it on your device.  As you switch between devices the cloud keeps your location synced so that you easily resume where you left off.
  3. Photo services like Flickr and others allow you to upload and stream your photos as needed across any of your digital viewing devices.  This is your photo album in the cloud and there are many choices for your digital photo albums.  Many seem to even use services like Facebook and Twitter as a way to store and share their photos – especially photos captured on smart phones.

With these changes having become commonplace, might we consider the digital cloud to become our infinite network disk drive and the home to our favorite applications?  Probably so.  This will have the biggest impact in how we “manage” our data.  Not that long ago we probably had our important data on a local computer that was in our office or in our home.  If we were disciplined, (and cautious), we likely made some effort to occasionally back-up or copy the important information onto another computer disk so that we could recover if our computer “had a problem.”

One of the major differences in our day-to-day relationship to our data that is cloud-based is that we are not typically going to be given simple options to “copy” and “backup” of that data to our local disk.  Some services provide this and others take it a step further by offering cloud-based backup of data.  If you are with a top-tier provider of applications, and data services (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.) your data is unlikely to disappear due to bad procedures or failed equipment.  It’s also increasingly common for new companies that offer compelling new services that sit atop the infrastructure of a company like Amazon.  So instead of reinventing all of this cloud infrastructure and operations, the new company leverages what is already a proven reliable asset.

Each of us will likely be offered new services by the top-tier cloud providers in the coming years.  These services will range from banking services and digital safety boxes to high-end applications that we generally associate with a dedicated computer.  The difference is that we will “rent” the services in much the same way that we “rent” services like phone minutes and cable TV channels.  Data portability will be one of the important characteristics that will separate the better providers from the rest.  Making sure that you can “get a full copy” of your data and move it to another cloud provider will be a key criteria for selecting a cloud provider.  As we move toward more and more cloud services, data portability should be top-of-mind for everyone.

 

 

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Tablets in the Classroom December 10, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Education, Information Technology, Learning.
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The Center for Digital Education estimated education spending on IT reached $19.7 billion in 2010-11 and it’s expected to rise again in 2011-12. Despite school budget cuts, officials are spending more money on tech than ever before. Traditional educational publishers are devoting more attention and budget to the digital world. Project Tomorrow reports that 27 percent of middle school and 35 percent of high school students use digital textbooks. On top of that, the Pearson Foundation reports that 58 percent of college students prefer a digital format for textbooks. Tablets and e-readers are the ideal windows for that content. In McAllen, Texas, public school officials have opted for iPads over desktop PCs and plan to distribute 25,000 iPads over the next few years. The total spend of $20 million in the McAllen district covers the cost of the iPads and also the Wi-Fi network and training needed to support their use. The program includes iPads for third grade and upwards and iPods for pre-kindergarten up to second grade. San Diego distributed 26,000 iPads to students this year and Chicago public schools have around 20,000 iPads. Are tablets really the answer for education? Possibly so, but the truth is that touch devices are so popular right now that they’re being touted as the answer to everything. A few years back, before tablets burst onto the scene, there was a push to equip students with netbooks, but it was met with mixed results. Having an entire school filled with tablet-equipped students has obvious benefits, but cost and device management are serious hurdles to overcome.

Digital Education Instructional Techniques December 9, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Education, Information Technology, Learning.
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  1. Recordings for “short reviews” of previous learning to rehearse and connect knowledge from previous lessons
  2. Micro-lessons that present new material in small steps and allow students to practice after each step
  3. Interactive simulations that allow active practice for all students – especially to engage visual learners
  4. Easy-to-navigate digital libraries that provide interactive models of worked out problems

The Flipped Classroom December 9, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Education, Information Technology, Learning.
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The flipped classroom has become synonymous with using videos to have students view lectures at home while in-class time is used for applied knowledge. However, educators can begin by asking how your in-class, face-to-face time is best used. For some instructors, that is pre-recording lectures and doing hands-on activities in class. For others, it is presenting information and then supplementing the more difficult aspects of the lesson with videos.

Characteristics of a Distance Education Learner December 7, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Communications, Education, Information Technology.
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The following are some common characteristics that must be considered in planning educational services to the increasingly mobile and schedule-compressed learner…

  • Distance Education students must coordinate the different areas of their lives which influence each other: families, jobs, spare time, and studies.
  • Distance Education students reasons for taking courses may be motivated by obtaining a degree to qualify for a better job, to just take courses to broaden their education without interest in completing a degree.
  • In Distance Education, the learner is usually isolated. The motivational factors arising from the contact or competition with other students is absent. The student also lacks the immediate support of a teacher who is present and able to motivate and, if necessary, give attention to actual needs and difficulties.
  • Distant Education students and their teachers can often have little in common in terms of background and day-to-day experiences and therefore, it takes longer for student-teacher rapport to develop.
  • In Distance Education settings, technology is typically the conduit through which information and communication flow. Until the teacher and students become comfortable with the technical delivery system, communication will be inhibited.