SETDA Stuff - Posted 01/02/05; 1:28 PM

Over the Winter Break, TCEA TECSIG list members received the following request:

We just received word from Susan Patrick and Tim Magner at the U.S. Department of Education that Secretary Paige will officially launch the National Education Technology Plan at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 7th in the Barnard Auditorium at the US Department of Education. The Department has asked SETDA to provide examples of innovative projects and programs from across the states that can be shared on the NETP Website. This is a great opportunity to highlight examples of great ed tech programs happening in your state and districts. 

I encourage every state to send in one or more examples.  The Department has provided the attached draft copy of the submission template that they are planning to use.  While the final template may still see some tweaks, we wanted to get this out to you immediately so that you could begin collecting the examples and the detailed information they are requesting and get them back to SETDA NO LATER than January 3.  Please send them to Tera Daniels at

So, some of my time has been spent putting some of these examples together. Here are a select few that were submitted in MS Word (.doc) format:

  1. Technology Assessment Literacy Institute (TALI)
  2. K-12 Handheld Assessment
  3. Technology Competency Certification Plan (TCCP) - thanks to Lacey Gosch for helping out on this one!

SUSE 9.1 Personal Works! - Posted 01/02/05; 9:34 AM

In a last ditch effort to find a compatible Linux distribution that was not Red Hat that worked with a Dell flat panel monitor--E153FP--I installed SUSE 9.1 Personal. Surprisingly, it worked. It gave me the same KDE Desktop I've come to appreciate with many popular applications. Adding software is not as obvious to me at this point--which is still irritating--since SUSE uses something called YAST to load software. I'm more familiar with the Debian "apt-get" and graphical program. YAST, apt-get, Synaptic all facilitate the software installation process and make it easier to add software packages to your Linux installation.

<>However, the SUSE installation on the desktop was easier to accomplish although the video drivers didn't work until the desktop started up in KDE (graphical user interface; see what it looks like). I then had to switch the monitor to something else; I reprobed for the monitor and it found something that worked. After enabling 3D and Virtual Monitor, it worked very well. Of course, I'm now able to download RPM (yet another way for one to add software packages to their Linux installation) files and install them easily. I did this with what has become my favorite FTP program on the Linux side, KBear and will need to do this with some of my other favorite software applications.

Some other helpful links:


Linux on Mac - Posted 01/01/05; 4:32 PM

At the risk of sounding overly technical:

Last night, I attempted to install Yellow Dog Linux on a Mac iBook. Unfortunately, the YDL did not recognize the video display. This pretty much stumped me. Recognizing the video display has been the primary problem I've encountered in installing multiple distributions of Linux. So, to get the iBook back up and going, I switched it back to UbuntuLinux and everything's working fine--except the Flash. Flash appears to work fine on PC but not Mac. I tried Mandrake and Debian on a Mac Titanium to no a matter of fact, Debian asked so many questions that I fumbled the end of the process, it appeared to be fine except that XFree did not work due to uncertain video settings on the monitor. Worse, even though DebianLinux had downloaded all the upgrades via the wireless connection, it did not remember that connection after restart. As such, I decided to just drop  Debian and go back to Ubuntu...unfortunately, Ubuntu did not work on the Powerbook because of the video drivers. With Linux on Mac, I'd hoped to get some emulation that would allow me run other emulation type was QEMU CPU Emulator.

Some other nice programs for Linux: Firebird database program and InkScape.

Notes on Linux Use & Helpful Web Sites - Posted 12/31/04; 12:59 AM

Despite my best efforts to switch entirely over to Linux, I've found the occasional need to run Windows programs...usually for compatibility with some old documents created. To accomplish this, I've had to use WINE. Particularly helpful has been Frank's Corner--Running Windows Applications and Games on Linux.  Aside from this, some other useful links:

  • Linux Command Line: This presents a quick overview of shell commands. Using this takes me back to the old DOS days. Ahh, memories!
  • MP3 to Ogg: Vorbis Ogg file format for music files apparently doesn't have the baggage that MP3 files has, supposedly is better quality. As far as I can tell, no difference in the quality. However, in the spirit of Open Source, I converted all my MP3s to OGG format and re-ripped all my CDs using the new format. This web page outlines a simple script you can use to convert a directory of MP3s to OGG. Unfortunately, after I'd done this, I found out that you lose quality. To be honest, I can't tell the difference.  You can find more on Vorbis Ogg players online. On the Windows side, I like the Quintessential Player. It encodes to OGG, MP3, rips CDs and more.
  • Dual-booting Linux: This was a fascinating article on dual-booting Linux distros on one machine.
  • Best Web VideoConferencing Solutions
Some ways to make SimplyMepis--my favorite distro of Linux so far--work better:
Follow the advice offered online at Mepis Guides and Desktop Linux article on how to make it better.

Other nice sites:

Open Source Content Management systems - Posted 12/30/2004; 6:28 PM

In previous articles, I've shared the benefits of free software. The free software quest eventually forces one to look directly at Linux-based systems, as well as open-source solution for use in K-12 settings. While I do not advocate a 100% switch to Linux Operating System in all situations (e.g. office staff that must access ESC0-20's PEIMS system), I do see its use in many classrooms and computer labs. I was recently asked about a particular solution--not open source although based on open source--for use in K-12 schools. Here's is my response:

About two months ago, some of us in had an eye-opening experience. As you
know, we'd been working on the Internet Drivers' Permit. Two of my team had
been looking for open source quiz solutions and evaluated quite a few of them.
Then, one day, a vendor showed us a new solution they had been working on and
wanted to sell to Districts. As my team listened to the presentation, they
became aware that it was the same solution that they had rejected earlier (free
because it is open source) because it was not developed for our specific
purposes. At that point, my team customized an alternate solution. Had we been
caught earlier in the game, the Company might have made a sale.

Open Source solutions--like the ones upon which SchoolFusion is based--are
freely available on the Internet. Some entrepreneurs are taking existing open
source solutions, repackaging them, and then selling them to school districts
and businesses (Source:
If an Instructional Technology team can put up a content management system
(, then certainly a school district can. It only requires a
carefully thought-out implementation plan and necessary resources.

Furthermore, some districts lack the level of access required to fully realize the benefit of a
content management system. Such districts would spend $50K minimum to get in the game
but then not be able to get its users to get on the system due to bandwidth,
lack of access, and adequate training.

Another point to consider--The cost of $150,000 for 2 staff members and
hardware isn't outrageous. What would be outrageous is the recurring cost of a
content management system. I do not recommend investing in content management systems at cost or any similar company. Of course, it may be easier to invest in a service than create two new staff positions and hardware.

Open Source in Schools -

Some additional open source solutions/articles to consider:
SchoolForge -
OpenAdmin -
K-12 Project -

Content Management Systems have built-in calendar, classroom web pages, gradebook pieces.
What some may be looking for is an integrated solution. A content management
system offers some of that. Some questions to ask (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Does it have a single login?
  2. How well does it connect to other online database systems the District is using?
  3. How is user management handled? Is it an automated system or a single import
    from PEIMS?
  4. How are web pages maintained over time by teachers? What happens when the
    teacher leaves or moves from one campus to another? Does the web site travel
    with them? What's the process for that?
  5. Is it a per user license? Is charge calculated by student or
  6. Would the District want to use this with Departments as well as campuses?
  7. Will the Gradebook portion meet Texas Attendance Accounting standards?
  8. Should we really spend money on this project when Content Management Systems
    are already available at no charge? The cost for this project implementation is
    in user management and training...and it is a hidden cost.
  9. Does it have an electronic bulletin board (e.g. online learning environment)
    and how easy is that to integrate into this solution?
  10. How will this interface, if at all, with a Learning Management System (LMS)
    to manage professional learning in the district?
  11. How many levels of approval are needed for calendar posting? Is that
    workflow type in environment supported?
  12. How much "customization" will be needed to make this solution work for
    the District?
  13. How is file management handled? Can an administrator restrict how much
    space a user has for putting files on the server as part of their web page?

Moving to Linux - Posted 12/27/2004; 12:00 AM

It's surprising to see this article--Linux Expands from Office into the Home--coming out at the exact same time that I took my first steps in the Linux direction. Comfortable in Windows and Mac, I felt the need to investigate Linux. What kept me from really getting into Linux earlier was just knowing how to install new software.

However, changes in the different distributions of Linux--akin to ice cream flavor of the month that you may like--has simplified the software installation process.


For example, even though I run WinXP Pro at work, I didn't feel the need to upgrade my Win XP Home edition since I partitioned the drive (much easier than it sounds, let me tell you, but just as dangerous none the less) so that I could have Windows XP Home and Linux.


A co-worker--really a Linux nut--started me out with Fedora (a.k.a. Red Hat) Core 3 Linux; he also provided a large variety of flavors (including SUSE, Yellow Dog) to get me started. Some of these Linux distros ran on PC others on Mac. Red Hat's latest was comprehensive with great support, but I was overwhelmed with installing software. And, I wanted to play both Quicktime Movies and Windows Media but I had to go through a lot to install the MPlayer free software. Of course, as my familiarity has grown with Linux over the last few weeks, this probably would not be so difficult now as it was then. So, I began the search for the idiot-proof Linux distribution that a newbie like me could use.


After trying out Mandrake, SUSE, Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu (which really was easier than a lot of others), I finally settled on SimplyMepis. The trying out process was simply a matter of getting the CD ISOs from the web. I wasn't familiar with ISOs but essentially, it's an image/picture of a CD-ROM. You "burn" the CD then restart your computer. Whichever distribution of Linux (e.g. Mepis) takes over from that point and asks you questions on what to do. Depending on which distribution, or "distro" for short, you get, the harder the questions. Ubuntu and SimplyMepis were the easiest installations.


Mepis was incredible. Wow! It came with everything, including CD-burning software. It also had EVERYTHING pre-loaded. Best of all, SimplyMepis came on a single CD-ROM--as opposed to 3-4 CDs--known as a "live CD." If the Mepis Linux LiveCD booted up on your computer, and everything worked, then you knew you could install it on your machine with complete compatibility. I did my installations as I surfed the web. This was wonderful...everything worked from the get-go. Also, I could access any data on my Windows partition. This was important since I didn't want to have two versions of my data, one on the Linux section/partition and another on the Windows (think of this as great for accessing MP3s, other documents you only want to work with as a single version).


I've been very happy with it...of course, I can't play my favorite games, and as such, keep Windows around. If games weren't included, I'd switch to Linux completely.


Some of the programs that really shine on the Linux platform for me include the following:


1) Open Office - compatible with MS Office XP. Only minor formatting differences but I've switched to OpenOffice instead of MS Office. I can read from and write to Word, Excel files. It's not perfect, don't get me wrong, but it's darn near close. I don't use Access database since most my dbases end up on the web.


2) Scribus - Desktop Publishing software that is really nice. Lacks a wide variety of templates like MS Publisher but very nice.


3) K3b CD-Burning Software - Allows you to burn CDs, whether copies or from CD image files known as "ISOs"


4) NVU Web Page Editing and The Gimp for graphics editing. Both are awesome programs. NVU had to be installed separately. I was able to easily setup FTP server software on my computer to transfer files, etc.


5) CrossOver - Allows you to run Windows software on Linux platform (works quite well with specific software). Costs about $40. Allows you to run Macromedia Studio MX, MS Office XP, and a wide variety of other software. Graphic organizer software--Inspiration--runs great on it.


6) Transgaming allows one to run Windows games on Linux platform. They havequite an extensive list. Cost is extremely low, more of a subscription than anything else.

7) Miscellaneous Software I've found useful to have installed: a) KBear FTP Client ; b) Kaffeine Media Player


And, of course, a wide variety of other programs exist on the Linux platform. The SimplyMepis--as well as other Linux distributions--have built-in software (e.g. Synaptic) to help you find it WITHOUT having to go to a command line reminiscent of DOS. The greatest shock in terms of software is that everything on Windows that you need for work is found on Linux. It's just a matter of finding out what that is.


The strangest thing is that I have gone through withdrawal from Windows. I'm always looking for free stuff to run on Linux, it's already there in multiple varieties. It's an amazing feeling I can't explain.


For consumers--like me--to buy into Linux, full compatibility with key Windows software (like games you buy for your kids or tax software) is critical.


If you're a Mac user, then you should definitely look at I have revived an old iMac with UbuntuLinux, as well as a few older iBooks, 4-5 year old Compaq Presarios, and others. They are all quicker with Linux than the older Windows/Mac OS. They can now play MP3s or OGG music files, have up to date OpenOffice compatible with MS Office, and can run Mozilla Firefox. Not bad for old machines.


Change: Learning PHP/MySQL - Posted 09/26/2004; 7:24 AM

Resources on MySQL/PHP have been compiled into an article available below:

Facilitating Access to Campus Technology Data: Read a story of how a large school district used PHP/MySQL and Dreamweaver to build a Campus Technology Data Center.

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The Tipping Point- Posted 04/6/2004;8:55 PM

n. In epidemiology, the concept that small changes will have little or no effect on a system until a critical mass is reached. Then a further small change "tips" the system and a large effect is observed. (WordSpy).

This is a powerful book that describes the phenomenon. Malcolm Gladwell makes three points; those points include the following:

  1. The Law of the Few
  2. The Stickiness Factor
  3. The Power of Context

I was going to analyze this book, but then realized others had done it better than I could have (or make the time for). I especially liked this summary.

To be continued...

Working with Teacher Proficiencies- Posted 03/24/2004;6:00 PM

Howdy! Had this email come in and thought I'd share the responses. I've changed some of the info to protect the innocent <smile>.

Background: We are working on Teacher Profiencies in our district and looking at ways other districts are doing this. Looking at your website and from your various trainings, we have a few questions about how you are using it.

Question #1: Are you using LoTi to assess your teacher's district
technology needs assessment?

Response: Yes, we are. A sample assessment might be this one.

Question #2: How will the release of the TEA Star Chart for teachers
effect what you are doing with your teachers? Will you do both?

Response: The STaR Chart data assesses technology but not as comprehensively as the LOTI. The LOTI addresses 3 domains, most importantly, "classroom instructional practice." The CIP domain provides important insights into what Curriculum & Instruction needs to do to help students score better on the TAKS. The Texas STaR Chart for teachers, to the best of my knowledge, is still a document that teachers complete on their own. They then use those results to build the campus profile. As you know, this does not happen.

Since the State requires the District and Campus STaR Chart, we will do the Chart AND the LOTI. In cases where the TAGLIT has been used, that data is also considered. It is important to "triangulate" the data to obtain a portrait of where we are at. Note the measuring outcomes graphic.

Question #3: After your teachers take the Texas STaR LoTi
questionnaire, what do you do with that information?

Response: We intend to develop customized trainings for campuses to move them from Level 0 or whatever to Level 4. We have aligned all our training to the LOTI and the Texas STaR Chart in the Technology Competency Certification Plan (TCCP).

The main point to consider is that we aren't "shooting in the dark;" we now have an accurate appraisal of where they are at and what needs to happen. This data that is aggregated from individual teachers. Compare this "picture" of technology implementation with what a campus "perceives" itself to be. For example, one of campus might rated itself as Developing Tech in the STaR Charts levels of progress. However, you can easily see that the predominant LOTI level is Level 0. Developing Tech, which is what the campus rated itself using the Campus STaR Chart, is actually HIGHER and gives a FALSE impression of where they really are. (refer to comparison chart between LOTI and the STaR Chart).

This tension between perception and reality is detrimental to establishing a professional development plan that addesses adult learners' needs. Using the LOTI Videos, we are able to show what REAL technology implementation looks like rather than what "we think" is taking place. You can also compare Administrators' LOTI to Teachers' LOTI to get another insight into the different perceptions.

For example, the STaR Chart usually represents what the administration sees, as opposed to what is actually occurring. It is important to reconcile these two different perceptions. Have no doubt that once principals see their "real" situation, they'll move to change it.

Question #4: Are you using that information to organize trainings for
your teachers? If so, how?

The combined portrait allows us to develop individualized plans for grade levels, content areas, and campuses. In choosing to disaggregate our LOTI data, we can run reports that give us information on specific groups of teachers. For example, we might ask these questions:

  • How are all third grade teachers across the District using technology to impact instruction?
  • What is their level of Classroom Instructional Practice (CIP)?
  • How about a particular departmental team, how do they approach technology?
  • How can we capitalize on specific staff strengths over others?

The possibilities are endless, but the most important piece here is that we can make this information available to campus leadership teams (site-based organizations). This is the key to moving the whole faculty from one level to the next.

The LOTI is also important for organizing administrator training. You can read about the LOTI Framework as used in a handheld computer tool for assessing classroom instructional practice, and the level of technology implementation in this companion article. I encouraged Dr. Chris Moersch (email: to team up with Media-X ( because I thought districts needed a tool that administrators could use when doing classroom walkthroughs. I'm excited to see the product they developed for use in Texas schools. In the companion article, you can also see screen shots (in a Powerpoint file) from the Palm handheld computer tool.

Question #5: Is there a charge for the LoTi service?

Response: There is a charge for the LoTi service. The charge depends on the size of your district. A large district (50000+ students) paid for the LOTI in the about the $24,000 range. This included not only the questionnaire/survey teachers completed online, online results by campus and district, but also PDF reports for EACH campus, the District with specific recommendations, and 3 days of on-site visits by Dr. Chris Moersch.

For the record, I am not affiliated with LOTI nor do I earn commissions from referrals. I am only looking for a tool that will help districts, small or large, meet the demands of No Child Left Behind.

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Curriculum Management Systems: A dream?- Posted 03/22/2004;9:40PM

Over the last few days, several topics have been discussed in the TCEA Technology Coordinators' list (TEC-SIG). One of the topics includes Curriculum Management Systems.

Curriculum Management Systems are essentially a way of organizing those large curriculum binders that were shipped to every campus each year. I remember with some fondness cracking open a binder once or twice a year when settling an argument regarding what we were supposed to be teaching...almost the same way some folks might crack open a bible. Unfortunately, these binders didn't quite ensure the lock-step approach required. Despite research for standards movements and how they positively impact kids, teachers (me among them) haven't been entirely convinced of their efficacy.

Yet, what if the curriculum management system wasn't just an electronic version of the binders we never looked at? What if, the curriculum management systems allowed us to do much more than just see what the sacred curriculum specialists delivered to us from on high?

Each CMS vendor claims that their's is the best, but what does that CMS enable us to do? For a few unfortunate districts with CMS, it's not about empowerment but about control. Not about standards-based education, but about ensuring that "poorly" qualified teachers are kept from shutting the door and figuring things out themselves.

So, how does one go about deciding what a CMS should have or whether it is being used effectively? This is the key question. One that might be better explored in more about an article? Read draft. Posted 03/20/2004;10:40PM

At the TCEA 2004 State Conference, I had a chance to sit in a session with Dr. Chris Moersch. It was an evening session, and there were only about 15 people present. Although familiar with the LOTI, I was surprised at the approach he took with the group. He first directed us to

At that web site, we found a list of webquests. "What I'd like you to do," Chris began, "is to assess the LOTI level of each of the webquests." His next step was to bring up a spreadsheet on the screen, and ask us to come up to the teacher station to enter our scores. What was surprising was that the scores were similar. Almost everyone understood the different LOTI levels. After we graphed the LOTI levels of each of the activities, Chris asked us, "Now, what would it take to move some of these to Level 4a or 4b?"

It was in this simple way that those in the room came to understand the difference between early/developing tech levels of progress (as the STaR Chart characterizes them) and Target Tech. One of the teachers couldn't help walking up to Chris afterwards, expressing his appreciation for helping him see what technology integration was all about.

I had walked into Chris' session being very familiar with "assessing" the LOTI level of a particular activity, and was pleasantly surprised at how much mileage he got out of his activity. Another unexpected benefit was the web site Of course, it's free, easy enough to add bookmarks, but if you've worked on a Mac, then you're probably familiar with URL Manager Pro ($25) or, if on a PC, there are a million such programs. Of course, web-based bookmark managers abound.

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Don't Let a Little Controversy.... - Posted 03/20/2004;11:00AM

When reviewing funding for the $2.7 million dollar TIE grant to fund PAVE in February of 2001, I remember that the original amount requested had been almost $3 million dollars. When we received the NOGA, however, we noticed that TEA had cut the exact amount required for grant evaluation. The message was clear--evaluation wasn't important. At the time, we didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Of course, that was before NCLB and the push for scientific evaluation. Who could have known then?

Now,assessment and evaluation are required. Just take a look at the Technology Immersion Pilot. This point was driven home in the last minute scrambling on behalf of Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) Board staff to collect "scientific" data and anecdotes on how TIF impacted teaching and learning, esp. student achievement. TIF is now "dead;" apparently these efforts were for naught.

A more recent example: ETAC is working on a classroom version of the Texas STaR Chart. It is the document that is very similar to the district and campus STaR Charts. Unfortunately, the STaR Chart just doesn't go far enough. It's an agreed upon "instrument," crafted by a committee of brilliant individuals that lacks the punch required for NCLB. A Texas ESC has received funding to develop an instrument that will be mandated for Texas schools--yet lacks the scientific rigor required. TAGLIT--used for the TASA Technology Leadership Academy--also falls into this category--untested, not scientifically reliable.

Why not use the LOTI? That's the real question. If the issue is about assessment, then let's use the LOTI rather than push an ineffective document. That's the point I make in Assessing Technology Use in Schools, an article that was shared with TCEA TECSIG members.

Listening to a presentation at TASA's Midwinter Conference by Molly Helmlinger (La Porte ISD), we can't afford to wait. We have to move NOW so as to have a positive impact on students. How long will controversy keep us as educators from changing how we do business? Let's get serious about assessing technology implementation--let's do the LOTImotion!

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When It All Began - Posted 03/19/2004

A little over 10 years ago, I began a journey that has taken me around Texas. . .but more than that, it has opened my eyes to the possibilities that technology--used appropriately--can help teachers, students, parents, and leaders realize. This web site, especially my writing, chronicles this journey. The quote that best summarizes this is Ben Franklin's If you would not be forgotten...either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.

Thank you for visiting and taking a moment to read about things that have been worth doing, and those things that are worth writing about.

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Redesigned Web Site-
Posted 03/19/2004

Changing how your web site looks isn't an easy task--not when you have hundreds of documents linked to it! I began the process about 8:00PM on a friday night and have been working for 17 hours straight, with only a few stretch breaks, breakfast, and a short nap. Still need to do a lot of work in the background, but it's just a matter of adding links to existing documents. The next step will be to purchase the "" domain name, which I haven't had a chance to do yet <sigh>.

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Tips about iPods- 03/19/2004

Having access to an iPod if you're an educator is wonderful. You can both take advantage of the tremendous space available on the iPod, as well as work with the "fun" side. Before we talk about the fun side, the iPod works well as a back up data source from work servers, computers, transfer files easily from one computer to another with tying up bandwidth. Of course, you can still setup FTP servers on your own computer, but it's easier to just drop it onto an iPod then move it over. I recently discovered a program that allows you to copy your music back from the iPod to your computer. This was handy since I recently lost everything on a Mac; it would have been tough to find all the original CD-ROMs songs were backed up from. To solve this problem, I went looking for a program that would allow me to copy songs from the iPod back to the iTunes on the Mac. This program seems to do the job. It is called iPodRip. Unfortunately, it's not free 8-< but is inexpensive at $9 per license! Of course, you can always try it out before buying.

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Tips about Apple's, Apple Scripts, and PGP Encryption- 03/18/2004

As a technology director, I seldom have time to explore web sites, actually sit and trouble-shoot issues that arise related to computers. So, it was with pleasure that I began working on really understanding the Titanium Powerbook. Before investing in Eudora or some other email program, I decided to check out Apple's

  • Apple Computer's offers a lot in terms of email. Significantly, it's ability to import email from a variety of sources (e.g. Eudora, Entourage, etc) make it very friendly. Another neat feature includes its ability to filter out junk mail. Other email programs require payment of shareware fee to accomplish this, but not Unfortunately, also has a few problems, but they can be overcome with patience and a willingness to use Applescripts. Several Applescripts--all available at are required when using the include the following: Conduit 0.5.0: Apple Mail Conduit allows you transfer email messages between the Apple and the Palm PDA. By selecting mailbox(es) within the, you can specify the Conduit's settings to Add the PDA's/Mac's messages. Supports Palm mail programs "Mail" , "Mark/Space Mail","VersaMail2.0" and "Clie Mail".
    - Mail Enhancer:
    Has the following features: a) Show activity viewer when doing a manual mail check; b) Display a status dialog after doing a manual mail check; c) Dock icon count shows all unread instead of just inbox unread; and, d)Automatically update signature to match sending address
    -MailScripts: A must-download, this provide a wealth of features to
    -MailPriorities: lacks built-in priority mail, but this script adds it in.

    and an unrelated but very useful tip for POP3 Emailers behind a district firewall. You can use Postfix on Apple's OS X Panther to set up your own SMTP server. This is the server that sends email. If blocked behind a firewall, you usually can't send mail but you can receive it. By setting up PostFix, you're able to send mail from behind the firewall! You can find the original info online at

    Of course, woudln't you know it, someone has figured out an easier way to setup PostFix. Instead, use this handy utility called Postfix Enabler.
  • A long time ago, I started using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Unfortunately, no one I knew actually used PGP. What a disappointment. Here I was set to transfer encrypted emails about education-related topics, and no one wanted to...except maybe Wesley Fryer. However, in putting Mail.App through it's paces, I thought I'd see what level of integration was available. I read the article in USA Today and found out about two possible sources for PGP:

    -PGP Corporation: Commercial Version with its freeware crippled version. Tried this but it lacked the functionality in the freeware version I needed. Essentially, be able to encrypt/decrypt email. I did like the Wipe File function, but other programs can do that. This program only lasted a few hours before I decided to move on to the more bewildering MacGPG.

    -MacGPG. This really seemed the way to go but the way the information is organized on the web site was confusing. I went through the process and spent 10 extra minutes before I realized the utilities--download all of them--had actually done the job for me. Of course, I already had existing keys and didn't have to go through the generation process. Now that I have it setup--about 30 minutes in setup--I've decided that this is the tool to use for Apple's

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Weblog entries below were completed for a class I took in 2001.
New entries were added in 2003.

Wednesday, January 9, 2003

Understanding by Design Notes

Monday, December 3, 2001

Model web page... and final paper for 5303

Sunday, November 25, 2001

I found the latest article I reviewed on Knowledge Management for Educational Information Systems particularly interesting. This is exactly what I've been working on for an article in my TechEdge column. As such, it provides a nice framework..or big canvas to work from. Here are some of the resources I currently have for Curriculum Management Systems: a) attributes; b) cost; c) cms coordinator

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Planning a community of learners isn't easy. Fostering dialogue among folks that is online is tough. It's important to bring people together to discuss face to face the key issues, then use the online forum to provide ongoing support. Having worked with various bulletin board type technologies--from YahooGroups, Blackboard, WebCT--I'm convinced that the best technology is the listserv. It delivers email directly to your inbox, and as such, is impossible to ignore.

This has made YahooGroups, formerly Egroups, a powerfully liberating technology for educators around the world. The electronic groups serve as an easy way for people to create, manage and employ email in ways that would be impossible and/or extremely difficult without the egroup. This was true in my doctoral group, as well as now.

So, it seems that any educational endeavour that wants to create a virtual community of learners must combine technologies such as egroups as well as face to face interactions.

Monday, October 29, 2001

I was surprised at the beginning of the semester when I saw Jonnassen's book was our text, but pleasantly so. I had read the MindTools book--own a copy actually--and when I first read it in early 2001, the concepts provided the impetus the Writing Technology into the Curriculum work I'd done--simple workshops to introduce teachers to how to use technology in their classrooms in ways that matched the TEKS.

When I first began the WTIC effort, I was stumped for a way to begin...however, I soon developed a model based on what I'd read and learned. This model, the Technology into the Curriculum as it came to be called, has served me well. It is a significant extension of the CUT Model I developed while at ESC-20. Revising it extensively was my goal for a few months in early 2001. Now, almost a year later, I am proud of it as a model that can be used by teachers to integrate technology. It's not completely original since it relies so much on the work of's more of a metaanalysis of work that teachers can use.

From this model, however, teachers should be able to progress through a lesson planning & development cycle that will yield multiple technology-infushed activities.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

In reviewing an Education Week magazine, I ran across the assertion that lower income students report playing games instead of using computers for research and completing projects. While this may not seem problematic, it's a concern since it continues to foster the idea that at-risk, economically disadvantaged students use technology for drill-n-practice (edutainment) rather than anything else.

This has profound implications for our future, as evidenced by the article in Community College Week on October 15th.

Miami-Dade's Padron said that as Hispanics continue to comprise greater portions of the workforce, their inability to compete technologically will affect America's ability to compete economically.
(Lane, Kristina. Community College Week, Oct 15, 2001 v14 i5 p6)

Why is this true? If our fastest growing workforce is Hispanic, and Hispanic students are using technology for games at home and drill-n-practice at school, and they are judged to be inadequate to the challenge of technology...not to mention too poor to enjoy the fast Internet connections that others enjoy. For example, in this article that the father of a 9-year old White boy has...

three computers [networked] together with a digital subscriber line (DSL) to the Internet that zips online at a sizzling 635 kilobits per second, some 11 times faster than most dial-up modems...Nine-year-old Taurean downloads a feature-length film of the Japanese action cartoon Dragon Ball Z in less than an hour--something that would have taken all afternoon with a dial-up modem.
(Business Week, Oct 8, 2001 i3752 p86

It's not surprising that these differences exist; the question is, as Hispanic workers outnumber White workers, will our economy falter for lack of skilled "laborers?"

Sunday, October 7, 2001

Missed chat tonight, however, just thought I'd comment on readings for this week. On rereading this chapter, I found myself thinking back to my days as a 6th grade teacher working with my bilingual students. We were working together to create a "stack" of cards using HyperStudio. Back then, Hyperstudio was something new that few had tried in the district. I'd managed to snag a copy from the district technology director--he had a few extras in his closet but hadn't released them yet to the public. Using HyperStudio, my students created electronic books with whales and dolphins on them that made sounds and more.

Although we didn't have the benefit of the Internet then, we were still able to get graphics and sounds from a variety of places, including sound collections, graphic CDs, electronic encyclopedias. That early work was set up as a way to share information. Over time, multimedia in the form of simulations showed up

Sunday, September 30, 2001

During chat tonight, I ran across an interesting web site on something called Tetrads. The site also discussed the duality of interesting concept in light of the chapter in Jonnassen's book (Chapter 3) on video. The duality of video, the authors write, allows us to experience two places at once. However, this duality separates into linear thought represented by the alphabet and relationships and patterns represented by video.

Acoustic space--a natural environment that surrounds us and is not linear, more dominant in preliterature society because of oral traditions--focuses on the intangible. This reminds me of telematic cultures that David Thornburg discusses and says we've moved to now. Do a search on telematic, and you'll turn up some interesting stuff, such as the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Had to miss class tonight due to baby-sitting scheduling--I scheduled and the babysitter didn't. I had the opportunity to read a bit about thin clients.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Tonight, I had the chance to copresent with Elizabeth Langer regarding Dr. Chris Dede's work. I couldn't help but laugh at how far we've come in just a few short years, remembering where I was in educational technology back in 1995. Yet, the work of people like Dr. Judi Harris, Dr. Bernie Dodge, Tom March, Mike Eisenberg & Bob Berkowitz has really had an impact.

I've come along a little later, had a chance to chat with each of the folks above--which is amazing to me that *I* would get a chance to talk to bigwigs--and what's amazing is the common elements between Dr. Harris' activity structures, Bernie's and Tom's activity formats, and the Big6. All are geared towards solving real life problems, modeling a process to students so that they can solve it.

On reviewing the readings for class tonight--and the matrix we had to develop--what hits me over the head again and again is the use of technology to develop problem-solving scenarios or solve them. Both are active, not passive, activities that students are expected to engage in.
posted by Miguel Guhlin 9/17/2001

Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001

My class mates and I had an interesting chat that lasted 40 minutes before we all grew tired of arguing, not that that was the was more the typing long responses. The jerky rhythm of the conversation knocked messed us up. Simply put, though, constructivism and technology are too much trouble for teachers. I don't believe this because I've done these kinds of things. But, the perception is reality here for these two teachers--a math and history/Lang.Arts--and it seems like too much work.

It's not that they are lazy educators, rather that the value of technology is as an add-on rather than intrinsic, integral to the method of instructional delivery. But the method of delivery is so much more than drill-n-practice used by Integrated Learning Systems.
posted by Miguel Guhlin 9/16/2001

Monday, Sept. 10, 2001

Always wanted to try keeping a weblog, something easy to maintain that wouldn't take too long to keep up. Apparently, it's a new fad sweeping the Internet and I think the format will work just fine for the work I have to do in my C&I 5303 class at UTSA.

To be honest, Chapter 1 of the Learning with Technology book was old stuff for me. While I can't say I learned anything new in this section of the book, what I did find enjoyable was Bromley's work. The concept of technological determinism isn't new...the idea that technology is THE catalyst for changes across time in human society is a bit much, even though Daniel Chandler may not agree. He writes:

Technological determinists interpret technology in general and communications technologies in particular as the basis of society in the past, present and even the future.

I'll need to reflect on what determinists are saying. I find that I've often said that business demands better, more techno-skilled workers. Yet, this can be a dehumanizing experience for people, something I've also felt. Teachers are right in rejecting technology, but their rejection has to be more than just one because TIME and LOGISTICS are too difficult.
posted by Miguel Guhlin 9/10/2001

Article Reviews are in Acrobat Reader Portable Document Format (PDF)

  1. Findings from the Teaching, Learning, and Computing Survey: Is Larry Cuban right?
    Read Article or Review

  2. Bridging the gap between technology and testing in schools.
    Read Article or Review

  3. Challenges to Distance Education
    Read Article or Review

  4. Technology & School Reform
    Read Article or Review

  5. Knowledge Management for Educational Information Systems
    Read Article or Review

The Bridge Builder

by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide .

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near ,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide--
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."


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