SMCA IT

April 8, 2009

So Many Blogs, So Little Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Glowacz @ 3:14 PM

Blogging has become a primary form of communication for many people. Bloggers have good and bad reputations and have challenged “mainstream” media sources such as newspapers and news-focused websites.

I enjoy reading several blogs because the information is usually timely and relevant. More importantly, I don’t have to jump from website to website to get all my news, interests and personal reading done. All the blogs can be consolidated into a reader that allows me to go from post to post quickly and effeciently.

Using these tools is very easy and there are several options. The underlying tool that makes keeping up with all this information so easy is called Real Simple Syndication or RSS.

RSS has a distinctive icon that can be clicked on to add the blog or “news feed” to your chosen reader. The icon looks like this:

RSS Feed Icon

Many websites now offer this to push new information that is posted. In fact, if you look at the bottom of the page on www.smca.com you’ll notice the RSS feed icon for our news.

Google ReaderTo use these RSS feeds, you need to choose a reader. My favorite is Google Reader because I can get to it from any Internet connected computer and it keeps track of what I’ve read regardless of which computer I used. There are several others out there:

Some are Web-based, some are applications and others are add-ons to other tools such as Outlook or Firefox. Take a look at them and see which one you like best.

I encourage you to pick a news reader and start by subscribing to a few blogs or news feeds. This will get your feet wet using the reader and help you keep up with what your interested in most.

In a later post, I’ll explain how this can be used in a classroom setting. However, if anyone has suggestions on things they are already doing please add your comments. I’d love to hear about it.

April 1, 2009

Googley Advice to Students

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Glowacz @ 8:00 AM

In July of 2008, a senior VP at Google posted some advice to students about life long learning and the impact that has on your ability to get a job, namely at Google.

This is one of the best, concise explanations I’ve read about life long learning.

Traditional education is focused on routine problem-solving skills but it is increasingly more important to dive into the type of thought that requires creativity and a pinch of persistence.

Three points stick out for me:

(a) Analytical reasoning is critical to Google but it is or should be critical to any organization including education. Data provides the tool set to work with what you know, not what you think you know.

(b) Teamwork is the engine that drives most projects at Google. I can tell you from experience that Google is not the only company working that way. Thankfully, today’s students increasingly exhibit teamwork through the use of social networking tools whether teachers promote it or not. I think educators can do more to foster the idea of teamwork and utilize technology to do it. Just ask your students, they’ll have plenty of ideas.

(c) Keep challenging yourself to learn more and different topics. What you know today might be a useful skill; tomorrow it could be a feather in your hat that is nothing more than proof you knew something once. The skill doesn’t have to be academic, job specific or income producing. Sometimes picking up a new hobby is enough to challenge yourself and meet people you never would have otherwise.

Part of the reason I love my chosen profession is that technology is always changing. Be it new versions of software, networking improvements or security considerations I never find myself bored. If anything, I feel overwhelmed by what I can and want to learn next.

To quote the senior VP, Jonathan Rosenberg, “Learning, it turns out, is a lifelong major.” I couldn’t agree more.

March 30, 2009

Integrating Technology into the Family

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Glowacz @ 8:00 AM

Much is discussed about integrating technology into the curriculum. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to implement.

As educators we are partners with the parents of our students to prepare them for what is next. In my case, it is preparation for college and beyond. The reality of that statement is that technology is an important part of that preparation.

Technology integration does not have to be exclusive to the classroom. In fact, I think families who find ways to use technology to communicate are giving their children significant advantages in school and beyond. Another benefit is that parents will probably be more aware of what their children are doing with technology, especially when it comes to social networking.

So, where to begin…

My wife and I have looked at Famundo but our experimenting has been limited. My oldest child is less than 3 years old so texting “Where are you?” isn’t in our normal day yet.

21st Century Learning blog had a short post titled, “The Family that Geeks Together – Stays Together” and is another example of tech use in the family.

Teachers who integrate a little technology into their family lives could probably help themselves become more comfortable with tools that will then be less intimidating in the classroom. Not exactly a silver bullet for anything but it could be a small step in the right direction towards technology integration in the classroom.

March 26, 2009

Facebook Accounts for Teachers – Professional or Not?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Glowacz @ 9:27 PM
Facebook Screen Shot

Facebook Screen Shot

I’m pleasantly surprised that I received a comment already and more importantly a great question was posed – is it professional or unprofessional for a teacher to have a Facebook account?

Let me give you the short answer. Yes.

In my opinion, having a Facebook account is no different than having a personal web page. Having it is neither professional or unprofessional. What you do with a Facebook account can have consequences to your professional life.

Personally, I like Facebook but have not obsessed over it. I treat it like any other personal relationship I might have. If someone asks me to be friends, my first litmus test is would I go out of my way to have a drink or dinner with that person? If not, I ignore the request. Tamar Weinberg, a social media expert, wrote an etiquette article that I think should be required reading even if you don’t agree with him.

Do teachers and Facebook accounts mix? Sure. Remember this – if you wouldn’t do or say something around your peers, boss or mother then you shouldn’t say or talk about it on Facebook.

Teachers who do use Facebook can be better authorities on the subject when helping students understand the consequences of Facebook usage. Illustrate a now famous story of a bank intern getting fired or more recently a teen suing former classmates for defamation.

Facebook can be a great tool to reconnect with friends and family. It can also be public proof that you might be a goofball and can’t be trusted with serious job responsibilities.

March 23, 2009

Hello SMCA!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Glowacz @ 6:31 PM

Anyone who has taken a computer programming course probably remembers their first “Hello World!” program. This being my first blog post, I think the title says it all.

The SMCA IT blog will be a source of information on the happenings in the IT department, interesting articles or resources we come across during our research and visits to conferences and anything potentially useful or thought provoking in the area of technology.

I encourage you to post comments and provide feedback on what you read here. Your involvement could drive the content of future posts and, ideally, translate into real technology change around St. Michael’s.

Blog at WordPress.com.