While lots of reference exists online for technology tools, including those Google produces, sometimes we need ones specific for teachers. Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers (freetech4teachers.com) recognizes this and produced Google Drive and Docs for Teachers, a pdf document for you:
In case you do not follow technology (ok, so why are you here?), Oracle, the company that bought Sun Microsystems, wants Google to pay for each instance they use Java. Originally, when Android was developed (and no, Google did not invent Android, they bought it years back) they went to Sun to use Java. Now years later, Oracle owning Java now, wants to try and capitalize on the success of Android. Or more closely, Larry Ellison, CEO, wants to capitalize. Google contents they received permission from Sun at the time and Larry on trial even said he does not know if Java is free.
This case, which we expect the jury decision soon, could drastically change the landscape. If Oracle wins, they will most likely seek damages and money from Google. How much? I guess the jury or judge will decide, but it could change Android for the worse. This could then also become a precedent in other open source/freeware/shareware cases, not to the advantage of the average consumer. If Google wins, Android will continue to be the dominant mobile platform and just get stronger.
This will effect education now as well. More and more schools continue to seek out cheaper and/or more open solutions to Apple’s iOS line of devices. In my district, you all know we go for Samsung Galaxy devices. In an Oracle win, would the licensing on an Android device skyrocket and remove one of our main reasons we use Google? Would we, dare to say it, switch to Apple? The forbidden fruit in my district? Maybe…
Google continues their efforts to digitize the web. After the maps, Street View, and White House, now they take on fine art in digitizing many famous works of art. They have made a virtual tour of over 1,000 pieces from a variety of museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Van Gogh Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum among others. Great to see these works available to everyone, all the time. And the quality–you can see individual brush strokes, maybe even better than seeing in public.
What does this mean for the education world? Sharing things that you only could through books in the past can now be seen in much higher quality. Google continues to work to break down barriers that prevent many from seeing such things. While this would never replace being there in person, it definitely helps!
Interesting article reviewing the success/failure of OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte’s vision to bring technology to those who could not afford it (available here). So how do they justify calling it a failure? Test scores. Yes, I kid you not. Students using the devices showed no improvement What I found most interesting is some further data going into 1:1 initiatives in Maine and elsewhere:
Five years after Maine implemented a statewide one-laptop-per-student program, with one exception (for writing skills), no measurable improvement in test scores could be found. Evaluations of one-to-one programs in Michigan and Texas showed similarly mixed results.
Many people know my personal philosophy on these programs and projects. While I definitely applaud the OLPC project, getting technology in hands that usually would not possess it, all these 1:1 projects are just a gimmick. Do students always need a laptop in their hands? Do they really need to do math drill and kill using a laptop? Sure, they can do some higher level creative things, but will teachers be ready to do that all day long? Jury is out on that one. My vision is some tablets and laptops/Chromebooks in every class. The students use them when they need them. Imagine that–use when needed as opposed to finding uses for them. That mirrors how all use technology. Don’t start with a solution and come up with a question.
image used under Creative Commons license by flickr user jsbarrie
Yeah, things truly appear out of touch of reality with a headline like that. Unfortunately, the headline does reside in reality. It seems the comparable agency to the RIAA/MPAA for music royalties in Belgium, SABAM, decided to try and ban local libraries from enlisting volunteers to read books to kids. Yes, people reading books to kids in the libraries. Let me say that one more time–people reading books to kids in a library. I wish I could make these things up. So apparently SABAM wants to charge libraries about 250 euros a year to allow this.
This definitely scares me, but then I hope this will bring a lot of attention to Copyright. We already suffered through the whole SOPA debacle and that showed our US Congress that we will not go silently. If this type of thing would happen in the US, I think things would escalate quite quickly again. Here in Raleigh, we have a GREAT library system. My girls benefited from many, many visits to story time. It’s a rite of passage for kids. Really, they want libraries to pay for the right to allow volunteers to read? Very sad. How long then until they target school libraries and classrooms? Some of my fondest memories post classroom are of times I was invited back into classrooms to read. Dr. Seuss, The Polar Express, and so much more. So school pay to allow that right? Yeah, people, be prepared. If they can squeeze even a few dollars out, their greed knows no limit.
Image Source: used under Creative Commons license by http://photoblog.dinghome.net/2010/06/library-time/