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Author: Dan Maas Created: 11/6/2006 RssIcon
Dan Maas is the Chief Information Officer for Littleton Public Schools.
By Dan Maas on 1/25/2013

 

Obviously, we have not been blogging here as much this year.  Instead, we have shifted to a new service called Scoop.it that enables us to not only post our own blog entries but scoop lots of other interesting sources.

Visit:

http://www.scoop.it/t/lps-tech-updates

By Dan Maas on 3/26/2012
In the Febraruary/March edition of the Journal   (Technological Horizons in Education), you will find LPS prominently chronicled with our friends from California; Saugus Union School District.  The article, written by Jennifer Demski, began as a highlight of the use of Open Source Linux operating systems on netbooks.  Our friend and colleague, Jim Klein, is the Director of Technology and leads a development of Linux kernel operating systems for netbooks.  Our team interacts extensively with Jim's team and the result of this collaboration is a netbook that we acquire for under $300, that lasts for four years or more, and runs just about everything on the web you can access with a computer.  But what was most gratifying about the article was how the instruction out-shone the technology.

In both Saugus and LPS, the use of netbooks for writing has been an emphasis.  This can mislead...
By Dan Maas on 1/6/2012
LPS has "Gone Google."

When school ended on December 16th, we jumped into full swing by migrating our email, calendar and contact data from our Exchange server to Google.  The migration took 23 hours in which over 296 gigabytes of data and 4,000,000 emails, calendar appointments and contacts were safely uploaded.  We were offline for about 10 minutes while the email routing took effect across the Internet.  If you'd like see a timeline for the migration, click here.

School started this week and our staff came back to a new system for email and calendar.  We had implemented Google for our students over a year and half ago which included most teachers as well.  This laid a ground-work for an easier transition for staff as most across the district had a familiarity with the new servces before we launched.  Nonethless, the shift did cause some folks discomfort, which was to be expected.  Indeed, an entire field of research is dedicated to Cognitive Ergonomics which investigates how the brain thinks and works.  What is amazing is how perceptive the eye is and how much subliminal processing our brains do every moment.  A shift in normal, expected visual signals can be disconcerting and even alarming.  Insitinctively, we humans have spent the bulk of our existence (as a species) outside and on watch for danger.  When something looks mildly different in our environments, even if we don't pay it close attention, it can trigger a danger response.  It's basic survival.

...
By Dan Maas on 11/18/2011
It's a topic we have to continue to discuss.  It's a changing dynamic and I continue to strive to understand.  Here are some of my latest ideas:

A recent thought was about how we need to rethink preparing students for the working world.  I read a Denver Post article by Dave Maney and was intrigued by what this economist had to say about the middle class.  He asserted that our middle class has a very large number of middle managers and factory workers whose work in many respects is "middle man" labor.  The Internet has cut out the middle man and is wreaking havoc on our traditional views on the economy.  Dave suggests retraining of the middle class to be able to deal with this reality.

It made me think (and send him an email, only get invited to coffee after learning his kids attend LPS ;-) about the fundamentals we are training.  Yes, yes... I know we have new Standards, but what I'm thinking about is going deeper.  I worry that, in our time of concern, too many are looking backwards; calling this a "Sputnik moment" and resorting to the age-old effort of standardization and rigorous assessment with consequences for failure to comply...

...
By Dan Maas on 10/7/2011
 This is not the first time I have blogged or commented upon 21st Century Skills, but since it seems to still be the 21st Century and will be for some time yet, I think the conversation is still valid.  Certainly we need to stop talking about them as if they are brand new or in the future tense, but let us never cease to debate what's really important for kids to learn.

The slide show I linked here is an effort to describe what I see as an important distinction among the literacy skills of today; specifically there are skills that are timeless and there are skills that are new.  To emphasize one set without the other would be an incomplete approach.

Certainly the list of skill concepts I've placed in the red box representing timeless skills are not new.  I hope...
By Dan Maas on 10/3/2011
Today, the Digital Divide that seperates those with online computers at home and those that don't is getting smaller.  More and more opportunities exist to help needy families get online.  Here are some examples:



http://www.internetessentials.com/



http://www.centurylink.com/home/internetbasics/?rid=internetbasics

In both cases, families can apply for the lower rate.  It does require demonstrating financial need, but it's better than being faced with full price.  I also appreciate the effort to help families acquire netbooks and even basic Internet training.  And I can assure families that those netbooks offered in these ads will work quite nicely with our wifi services in LPS schools and with our Google Docs services.  Thanks to...
By Dan Maas on 9/20/2011
The mind has no timetable.  As inconvenient as it may be (like waking up at 4:00 AM with a blog post idea), our minds work at their own pace.  I'm not the first to recognize that our schooling system places timetables on learning and that human minds don't always fit into the nice little boxes that would make it so convenient.  But I am grateful for all the teachers and principals who get it; learning is the constant, not time.

Modality influences mentality.  I've been saying this for the last several days and while I keep toying with different words, I keep coming back to this statement.  The medium in which you do your work influences the way you think.  Would there be a post office if we wrote on clay tablets?  No chance.  Will there be a post office for long now that we have so many ways to share digital messages?  One wonders.  Here's a great example: students at Arapahoe High School blogged with Daniel Pink about his book "A Whole New Mind."  They skyped with him at the end of the unit.  When the class moved on to another literary work, "Little Brother," they decided to email author Corey Doctorow and asked to blog and skype with him.  They took the initiative because their mentality shifted from reading and writing about authors to reading and writing with authors.  It's not about the technology, but you just can't teach 21st Century skills without it.

...
By Dan Maas on 9/15/2011
 I used to sound like an engineer, but these days I'm more like a character from Seasame Street.  Advanced degrees aside, my language once had such a professional and impressive cache: "We need to install a new TCP/IP protocol that will allow multiple subnets and virutal LANs..."  Now I talk about Moodle, Google and Doodle.  All I need now is a catchy jingle to help you remember how they are different.  Oh well.

Yes, LPS is heavily involved in Google Apps for Education.  Not long after I began my tenure at LPS, I read about how Arizona State University was migrating all their email services to Google.  That was prettty bleeding edge stuff back then, but I was very intrigued because LPS has all the right ingredients for such a move.  We have a fiber network (thanks again to the City of Littleton's enterprise agreement with Comcast) that ties our buildings together at such remarakable speeds that computers literally cannot see a difference between a resource located at the ESC and one hosted in the same...
By Dan Maas on 9/2/2011
Just when you may have started to think that the Internet would make something like a library obsolete, the giants of the Internet (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo) have made changes that should cause every citizen to clamor for a strong library service. I am referring to a recent article in eSchool News which points out that the major search providers have implemented new filters on search results based on social media activities. Editor Dennis Pierce suggests that our online habits in social networks are being used to filter the massive amount of information we access every day. So if you happen to access liberal social networks, your search results will be from more liberal sources; if you’re a conservative, the conservative sources will gain prominence...
By Dan Maas on 6/20/2011
Noted professor and author on the use of technology in schools, Dr. Mark Warschauer and a team from the University of California at Irvine investigated the use of netbooks in Littleton Public Schools.  The final report is available HERE.

The researchers used a variety of approaches to review the impact of the Inspired Writing project including site visits, interviews, analyses of student comments and a quantitative analysis of CSAP achievement data.  The report states:

"The project investigated (1) the impact of the program on teaching and learning processes, (2) the impact of the program on learning outcomes in writing, (3) student perceptions of the laptop program, and (4) the perceived match of netbook and open source software with the needs of teachers and students and their suitability...
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