Bye Bye Blogspot

By Matt Cronin
I'm shaking the dust of this crummy site off my feet, pulling up stakes, and moving to Not that I don't like blogspot; it's pretty good. But its time to move on a get a little more creative.

Stupid Little Laptop

Category: , , By Matt Cronin
So the Asus EeePC plays nice with the wireless access points at school. While that may not sound impressive, getting wireless to work on Linux can be about as fun as smashing your thumb with a hammer. Now for the frustrating part, it won't mount any of the network share points. We have afp, nfs, and windows sharing protocols. I can get these share points to mount on Macs, Windows, and Ubuntu Linux, but so far, no joy on the Asus variant of Xandros. I thought about installing Ubuntu on the laptop, but then I'll probably run into wireless headaches and issues with the OS writing to a solid-state hard drive. Who said tech wasn't fun.

eeePC is Here

By Matt Cronin
I finally got the Asus EeePC and for a $350 laptop (without webcam) I'm pretty impressed. The keyboard is SMALL. I don't think students will be writing term papers on it, but it certainly functional even with my clumsy digits. The screen size is tight (7 inches), but it works with most websites. Sometimes 3 column websites get a little smushed. I would like to get a bunch of these for our students, but I gotta see if they place nice with our network at school.

Asus EEE, MacBook, OLPC, Oh My

Category: , , , By Matt Cronin
Parents at school raised about $13,000 for technology this year during our annual auction. I spent last year upgrading the network, and I would love getting more laptops in the classroom this year. I'm wondering if the new Asus eee would fit our needs as a cheap web browser / document editor. Although it sounds like OpenOffice is a little too much for little lappy. I'm also debating if the OLPC might work too (My first instinct is that it is too underpowered). Our students are used to the Mac platform and all the tools (GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie, etc) that come along with it. I was planning on getting MacBooks, before the Asus eee came along. Maybe its time, for a two tier structure:
  • Linux / Ubuntu / Asus eee: For everyday web browsing and basic document creation
  • Macs: For more advanced media creation...
Maybe its time to order a Asus eee and find out.

Starting a New School Year

By Matt Cronin
It's October already. The first month was a blur. Managing the technology along with teaching 7th grade Language Arts and Global Studies is challenging. There is always something that needs to be done. I feel like I'm playing a Whack-A-Mole game where I smash one problem only to have another raise its head. I love how the latest release of Mac OS X broke our Netboot software update. Now I'm trying to get all the student accounts activated for the year. Oh well, at least it makes things interesting.

Having dual roles gives me a privileged position to integrate technology into the classroom. I started to use the wiki to aggregate the information we develop in class. The kids see me entering information into the wiki, but aren't quite sure what to make of it. I'm not sure of the next step either. Maybe use it for an integrated writing project or the Life 'Round Here project.

I'm also integrating Google Earth into our civilization project. I'm hoping Google Earth will be the perfect platform for the students to present their projects. It might also give me a chance to present some basic html coding.

Now if Apple would just fix Netboot, my life would be perfect.

Back to the Classroom?

By Matt Cronin
Its been a while since my last post. I have a year under my belt as tech coordinator at MCCPS. The learning curve has been steep, but it given me a chance to learn so many things I wouldn't have had a chance otherwise:
  • Coding HTML and CSS
  • Messing around with webservers
  • Playing with Drupal and Moodle
  • Weeding through network infrastructure
  • All sorts of cool new software like Google Earth, SketchUp, GarageBand etc.
I don't think I could possibly rehash this past year in one post. But now an opportunity presents itself for me to return to the classroom full time. I must admit that the idea intrigues me. Already the ideas for a networked, paperless, connected classroom are speeding around my brain. Give me a Moodle and a wiki and I can take my classroom beyond the walls of the school. Give me an LCD projector and some laptops and we can document and display our learning for ourselves and for the world. I hope to use this blog in the coming months to record this process. It is kind of strange to have this burst of energy at the end of the school year, when I should be exhausted. I kinda like it.

Sci-Fi and Role of Tech

Category: , , By Matt Cronin
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

As I abhor watching parades in general, I switched my TV this morning to the 1966 movie adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. A pretty good movie in its own right, although the special effects definitely date the movie. The movie got me thinking about the science fiction genre in general. The characteristic I really love about science fiction is not all the high tech gadgetry (which is odd because I tend to be gadget obessed). I love how authors use the lens of the future to put our humanity on display. Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, all use the genre to display the best and worse of human nature. This struck a chord in my mind connected to a presentation David Warlick gave at MassCUE conference. David stated that education isn't about the technology, but information and communication. The book people in Fahrenheit 451 understand that information and the ability to communicate / understand it is at the core of our humanity. We need to be able to see and understand the experiences of other people.

Some worry about technology beating down our humanity. With millions of people with iPods plugged into their skulls, it may appear that that future is well on its way. While on the white (now black, red, green, and blue) face the iPods may look all alike, beneath the plastic and metal is content that is unique as its owner. This gives me hope.