Monday, December 31, 2007

Name Your Top 10

Which tools for learning are at the top of your must-have list? The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies is asking educators to help answer that question again in 2008. The first international poll led to the widely popular Top 100 Tools for Learning, which shows Firefox,, and Skype in the top three spots for 2007. The survey also captures user comments about the tools. Will be interesting to see which Web 2.0 tools rise and fall as educators embrace or reject them for classroom use.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The XO is here!

It's amazing the excitement this little computer inspires! Many XO recipients tell personal stories of its highly-anticipated arrival and the fun that ensues... For just a few reactions, visit the Eugene, Oregon and Classroom 2.0 XO user groups.
My story? I got home from Mexico on the 20th to find the computer had arrived. I was impressed with the packaging-- no bubble wrap or foam peanuts, just a little bit of recyclable cardboard and two sheets of paper. I plugged in the XO and got familiar with the Sugar GUI using the trackpad (nice) and tiny keyboard (oy). First application I looked at was the measuring tape, whereby two XO computers spanning a space can calculate the distance between them using the thin mesh network capability. Now I just need to find another XO in my "neighborhood" to really appreciate the interactive nature of this computer. I couldn't get on the Web right away because the GUI doesn't support WPA (yet). My husband found the shell script and configured the wireless and now I'm up! (This sounds easy but the script was a little broken (since fixed) and the XO wouldn't recognize the USB thumb drive so we installed using an SD memory card instead.)
For another user's experience (more technically smart than I, and boy he's having fun) check out Wesley Fryer's podcast interview with Colin Davitt. Also, this OLPC Wiki page about the XO software is really helpful.
Still playing, and more later, but what are you learning? What do your kids think?

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Here!

Our book Reinventing Project-Based Learning is finally here! We hope you'll give it a look
(and consider purchasing a copy for yourself or a teacher in your life).
Details are at the right of this post.
Here's wishing you the best during this wonderful holiday season.
-Jane and Suzie

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Foggy Ideas

Most of us know about disruptive technologies—those innovations like cell phones and MP3 players that upset the old way of doing things. Disruptive technologies often start in one domain and then jump to another as creative users put them to new purposes. Inevitably, these technologies make their way to the classroom where educators can either embrace them as learning tools or spend time trying to outlaw or confiscate them.

But what if we turned the tables and went looking for disruptive ideas to shake up learning environments? Here’s a wild idea that seems ripe for borrowing—at least metaphorically.

In the desert highlands of Chile, villagers use a device that looks like a giant volleyball net to harvest clean water from the cloud cover that hangs over the region. Fogcatchers use polypropylene mesh to capture this precious resource, one drop at a time. Water droplets eventually fill community reservoirs, supplying this once-parched region with a clean, sustainable source of water for drinking and farming.

What does this have to do with education? Imagine being able to somehow “harvest” those learning opportunities that seem just out of reach. A fogcatcher for the classroom—can’t you almost see it? Don’t you want one?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Get Inspired

Ever need some inspiration to start designing a new project? Browsing or critiquing existing project plans is one way to jump-start your own planning process. Project Exchange is an online library and workspace from Envision Schools, a group of charter schools in the California Bay Area. Envision Schools make the project approach central to the curriculum. Projects are academically rigorous and typically developed by teacher teams. They integrate both arts and technology. On the Project Exhange site, you'll find not only detailed plans but also teacher reflections and samples from student exhibitions. (You don't have to be part of the Envsion system to use these resources.) Find anything here that you might want to adapt to meet your own instructional goals?