Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Official, Mason County High School is Going 1:1 with iPads

Last week I wrote about rumors that Mason County High School students will all be getting iPads to use.  It was reported in the local newspaper that the School Board approved this plan

The total cost to the school system will be $850,000, spread over 4 years.  The iPads will be leased to the school district by Apple.  It was reported that the iPads will save the high school money over the long run due to savings in textbooks.  I'll believe that part when I see it.  However, I have no problem with the extra expenses if it promotes student learning.

In the end, this may not change very much for student learning.  Dan Meyer has looked at iBook offerings from Pearson and McGraw-Hill on his blog, and reports that there is little real change in the textbooks. 

If the teachers at Mason County can get beyond the old habits, this could be a great opportunity.

On a personal note, the students are getting iPad 2's, not iPad HD's.  I won't have to worry about iPad envy when they start showing up in my class.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Khan Academy on 60 Minutes

I was preparing to write a long post about the 60 Minutes story about Khan Academy.  However, Dan Meyer summed the whole interview up nicely.  I don't fee the need to add to what he said.  You can read his take here.

How Does Math Really Rate?

I was looking at the search terms that lead people to my blog.  The stats for today are below.  Usually the top search is for the Golden Arches and parabolas.  You can tell that it is March and everybody has basketball on the brain.  (I've picked Michigan State to win this year.  Don't tell anybody in Kentucky.)

Will Mason County Schools go 1:1 with iPads?

This Saturday, I was talking with a friend of mine who is a teacher at the local high school.  She told me that Apple had come to the high school to talk about putting an iPad in the hand of every student.  She asked my opinion, and I simply parroted Dan Meyer's view on iBooks 2 and Apple Author.  So really, the effectiveness of this initiative still depends on the ingenuity of the teachers.  If the teachers can see past the iBooks and use the iPad to its fullest, creative extent, then this can succeed.

Ideas like this have been considered by Mason County before.  Usually, a lack of money is the biggest obstacle.

It was only today that a new angle on this bit of gossip came to me.  I always have one section of college algebra students from Mason County each fall.  It's always been a struggle to keep the students engaged because they already know most of the content. (Most students have ACT scores to place them into Calculus.)

However, if I'm going to have a room full of students with iPads and are already prepared to go beyond college algebra, then this fall could be a really fun semester.  Here's hoping the money will be there.

Spring Break 2012 is Here!

The college is off for spring break this week.  I have many things to share.  Unfortunately, my wife thinks that spring break is for house cleaning, so I will share in between bathroom cleanings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Playing with Robots

One of the faculty members at MCTC roped me into helping build a robotics team in Maysville.  He was nice enough to lend me one of his VeX robot kits.  I just finished my first robot.  The intention of the kit was to build a remote controlled robot, but I decided to start with an autonomous robot. 

The problem with building an autonomous robot is that the programming requires extra cables and software, which I am missing.  The robot is supposed to detect when it has hit a wall, backup, and turn.  As you can see, it does not backup far enough to miss the obstacle.
Picture of the construction steps can be found on my Google Sites website.

Future robot events include Farm and Family Night at the college this coming Tuesday, and the Robotics Merit Badge with the Boy Scouts in April.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Course Redesign in a Meme

Two of my colleagues and I are giving at talk about our course redesign efforts at MCTC.  I'm making a meme about course redesign.  It has too much truth in it, so I won't use this exact version for the talk.
You can apply it to so many educational reforms.  Use it as you wish.