Sunday, November 30, 2008

Edubuntu and thin client computing

The link below goes to a project I had to do as part of my work towards a technology specialist certification through National Louis University.

The project lays out setting up a thin client computer lab using Edubuntu. I am excited about the possibilities of this: it is cost-efficient, it saves on labor time; it extends the life of otherwise obsolete desktop computers; and it taps into the growing open source movement and the great software coming out of that world.

Of geeky techno interest might be the last appendix, where I describe creating a mini-thin client set up on my Macintosh laptop (Macbook), using VMWare Fusion to create a virtual environment inside which I installed Edubuntu, and then used the Ethernet adapter and the Airport adapter as my two network interfaces. The wired connection went to a switch into which I plugged an aging Dell laptop which served as my thin client. And it worked! Maybe the technical details will be useful to somebody out there.

Here is a link to the document: Thin Client Computer Lab Project

It is a PDF, and on the fat side -- almost 1mb -- pictures!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here's my part to promote the 2008 "Give One Get One" (aka G1G1) program (aka G1G1 2008) of the One Laptop per Child (aka OLPC) project.

The program begins 11/17/2008; orders are being handled through

The following is lifted from the OLPC wiki:

Join our community mailing list,, to discuss how to get the word out about the new campaign.

Blog it, add a comment about it to every article about OLPC and the XO.

* Social site updates -- Facebook, Twitter[1], MySpace : there are OLPC accounts on many of these sites which need maintenance and regular updating. For instance some 2007-era badges and promotions need to be updated to link to the Amazon site.

* Viral marketing. Put in your e-mail signature. Mention G1G1 in blog posts. Comment on misinformed or incomplete articles online, and include the link and the date, Nov. 17.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Use of audience response system in 7th grade class

Our use of technology at Dvorak is moving along much faster than this blog would suggest. I will try to update the blog more often!

Below is some text that accompanies a three minute rough video that I put on our website ( about the use of the Turning Technologies TurningPoint audience response system that we are using in some of our classes.

Link to audience response system video

This clip shows the use of the TurningPoint audience response system in Ms. Minter's 7th grade class. I think this clip is interesting for a couple reasons.

First, although the PowerPoint slides are pretty basic, they indicate the best practices of a master teacher: Ms. Minter took the initiative to see how the "clickers" (which is how the response system has come to be known) would work in her class. The slides only had A, B, C and D on them, but this worked because the students were given a text to refer to (last year's benchmark assessment test booklet). The students were given the question number; answering the question involved some reading and referring to the test text. It was exciting to see a teacher take up the new technology and play around with it to see how it would work in practice. Ms. Minter came up with a simple, workable -- and successful -- way of putting brand new technology to use.

Second, Ms. Minter and I were surprised to see how engaged students were with the clickers. This is evident in the clip when they start doing the New Year's Eve countdown, and their response when the correct answer is shown. I'm not sure why the clickers are so popular -- perhaps it is a combination of the instant feedback and recognizing oneself as being part of a group.

The entire clip is about 3-1/2 minutes long, and shows one complete question sequence. Ms. Minter set the timer at three minutes, which in practice turned out to be a bit long. But that's all part of good teaching practice -- design, try, reflect, revise, try again, and so on. The camera work is a bit shaky -- I didn't have a tripod at the time. And I haven't mastered editing with iMovie, so the ending is a bit messy; on the other hand maybe it adds to the authentic feel...