CAM-Trax: Please not just for Games!

I haven't had much time to blog lately, just as I am sure you are all busy (with 8 days of school left) and don't have much time for your RSS Readers either, but I just had to quickly share these thoughts with you.

Last night, I stumbled across this post from Engadget in my Google Reader about some new software called CAM-Trax being developed for Gaming. It uses a web cam to track movement of colorful objects that can be "locked in" by the software and used as a controller. The best part of this is that the objects can be anything as you will see in this video.

So here it is (Enjoy the Bestie Boys music!):

The sad part about this whole thing is that it's only being developed for gaming right now! That is all well and good for games and the gaming community, as this would be a great step for them. However, What about the rest of the computing world? To think of gaming as the only application for this is a bit narrow, wouldn't you say?

I can imagine this being used for interfacing with PCs in a variety of ways. How about for an art application? or just as an interface to your computer without having to touch anything? I could see this being used in some type of science or Physics application to track movement, speed or velocity. The possibilities are countless in my mind right now, and I would love to here what kind of use you all can think of.

My worry is that because it is being developed for gaming right now, these guys may get an offer from some gaming company to buy the technology and who knows if it will make it out for other applications.

I have signed up for the BETA and when it comes out, I will be sure to share my experience with you all.

I hope you found this post to be at least thought provoking and somewhat informative.

Lets hear your thoughts!

Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope: Free! Yes I said FREE!

Apparently.... Microsoft is giving Google a bit of a run for their money. They have recently released an outstanding program to compete with Google Sky (the outer space portion of Google Earth that not many folks use or even explore).

Much like Google Earth, Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope allows you to navigate the universe with the greatest of ease. But don't let me be the judge, try it yourself! You can download it from Micro$oft for free here! Did I just use "Micro$oft" and "FREE" in the same sentence? Yes! But I wonder how long that will last, so download it soon.

As always, I would love to hear what you think, and what your students think about it. So please, let the commenting commence.

Also, if you need any help with downloading or installing it, feel free to contact me... if you work for Beauvoir that is. It looks like we have been getting some hits on this blog from a few places in the US and Europe as well. (updated: Asia now too!) Pretty cool! Check out the ClustrMap of visitors to the blog.

I hope you found this post to be informative and thought provoking.

See you all again real soon.

Video: Learning to Change

Wow! What a great, inspiring, and thought provoking faculty meeting yesterday. Thank you all for its success. A special thanks to all of you who presented with such true passion and enthusiasm. I have already received some great feedback from some of you this morning and I look forward to hearing more about your success.

I thought a lot last night about when Paula spoke about change in the beginning of our meeting and I would like to thank you [Paula] for your vision of innovation and support as this organic process evolves. Thank you!

It made me think about a video I would like to share with all of you that I came across while reading a post on David Warlick's Blog about Change. Please watch it, think about it, and share your thoughts or comments. (Just click on the comments link at the bottom of this post. If you are viewing this in a reader, or the automated email, you will need to go to the blog to leave a comment, and watch the video for that matter.)

OK! Let's hear it! Tell us what you think!

Oh, and in case you would like to subscribe to the Beauvoir Tech Blog in your reader, the feed is:

and my shared feed is:

and last but not least, here is a link to the post on RSS which has the video we watched yesterday, just in case you want to share it or watch it again:

As always, I hope you found this post to be inspiring and thought provoking.

See you all again soon!

Online Environments and Young Children: The Importance of Teaching Responsible Use

I came across an interesting article the other day about a study done by Warren Buckleitner, Ph. D. from the Mediatech Foundation for Consumer Reports Webwatch. The study was about how young children (ages 2-8) interact with online environments. I thought the findings were interesting but what I found even more interesting, and quite disturbing, was the focus of commerce aimed at this age group. It's not really a surprise to me. I see it all of the time on TV and on the web, but it reminds me to think of how important it is to teach responsible use for a variety of reasons.

An excerpt from the executive summary reads:

"We discovered that the digital world offers a wealth of opportunity for young children to play and learn. But even in this small sample of 10 families we found–too easily, in several circumstances–repeated examples of attempts to manipulate children for the sake of commerce."

"Like taking candy from a baby" as this study is appropriately titled.

Many of the thoughts that come to our minds when we think about responsible use have to do with protecting our children from online predators, or bullying, etc. Don't get me wrong, these are extremely important topics to discuss with our children and we should continue to address them. However, It might be easier for a child to identify and filter out an attempt by an online predator or bully than it would be for them to resist an enticing option or threat that their online creation (on sites like Webkins or Club Penguin) would become inaccessible unless a purchase was made. This goes beyond the realm of responsible use of technology and becomes a question of how we can help them become a better more selective consumer of media and information in general, and in all aspects of life for that matter.

Well before I get to carried away here... Let us also remember what our children can gain from their responsible online or digital experiences.

The video logs of the study can be found here, and again, the study PDF can be found here.

As always, we encourage you to comment, and we hope you found this to be informative and thought provoking.

See you next time! :)

RSS... What is it?

OK... Another "What is it?" post for those of you who are unfamiliar with RSS.

RSS is an acronym which stands for Real Simple Syndication, or as Oprah likes to say "Ready for Some Stories".

Wikipedia describes RSS as "a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts."

Basically, instead of going to all of the websites that you normally do to read new articles, news, or blog posts (like this one), you can make new ones come to you!

Check out the video that explains this a lot better than I can type it.

Now that you have seen the short video, your probably going to need an RSS Aggregator or reader if you don't already use one. I recommend Google Reader. You will need a GMail account which is free and only takes a minute to establish.

Google reader will keep track of the articles that you have read and let you know when you have new ones that you haven't read yet. You can organize them by category, "star" them to save them for later, and even share them with others as your own RSS feed. Here is my feed to my shared articles.

I warn you, it can become a bit of an addiction, so be mindful of how many subscriptions you have in your reader. Before you know it, you may feel yourself drowning in articles and posts.

I hope you found this to be informative. If you need any help with setting up your reader, please feel free to contact me.

Happy Reading! And as always, your comments are welcome here. It's nice to know what you think, or maybe you have a favorite reader or shared feed to share with us!

If you have any topics that you wish for me to post about, please submit them here.

See y'all again real soon.

WEB 2.0 ... What is it?

Well... We hear this term, WEB 2.0, used allot these days but what is it really? Is it a thing, something tangible? mmm... Not really but guess what? Your experiencing it right now.

Wikipedia's short and skinny version reads:

"It is a trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to facilitate creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users."

10 years ago, the world wide web was a static holding tank of information. The content was updated only by webmasters who controlled those sites. Today's web has evolved into something much more dynamic.

A comment from someone on YouTube in response to a video explaining Web 2.0 wrote:

"Web 2.0 is a buzzword that no one has the same definition for, even experts. It's is more of an abstract than concrete. It's about the way the web is evolving and changing toward providing more interaction with users, making users the content generators - but then, it's also about design. So web 2.0 encompasses not only the interactive content but also that sleek, minimalist shiny design you all see."

Here is a video that helped me learn more about Web 2.0. It's a bit fast, and slightly hard to follow, but it's the best one I could dig up (today).

Now imagine what the web will be like for our children and students 10 years from now. It begs questions to me like: "Are we doing everything we can to prepare our children for the web of tomorrow, or the web we know today?" and "How do we prepare our children for something that doesn't exist yet?" or "How can we teach or help create content generators?"

I don't know or have the answers for either of these questions but it does make me think of the last seven words of any dying organization: "We have always done it that way."

Just a thought! I would love to hear your comments and I hope you found this informative, and thought provoking as well.

Google Earth: A Joystick for Learning

OK.... Just a quick post about a website I learned about today from TechLearning. The folks over at Apple Learning Interchange (Yes... Apple)have a great site to show you how to integrate Google Earth (the incredible free resource) seamlessly into daily lessons.

Click the link and enjoy!

Great Stuff! I hope you find this as useful as I have.

SoftChalk Lessons are now ALIVE!

A few years back, we created an intranet (not internet) of sorts for Beauvoir and called it BVRWEB. It was supposed to be used as a place to get and share information with other teachers and or staff. There was some professional development and references for Global Studies as well as quotes of the day and standard operating procedures for Technology. Well... it never really took off, and was kind of swept under the rug.
Soooo, it is being introduced once again. This time as a portal to the Tech Blog, (hey that's this site :) HelpDesk, and best of all, (drumroll please)... all of those SoftChalk lessons that everyone has been working so hard on.
Please remember that because this is an intranet, it cannot be accessed while away from Beauvoir, (just like the helpDesk) unless you are connected through the VPN.
If you can think of any other creative ways that we may be able to use BVRWEB, please don't hesitate to send us your suggestions, and we will see what we can do to help make them happen.

Coming Soon To A Surface Near YOU!

OK , so I have been following the progress of this project for over a year now, and it seems like it's finally turning into a reality. Not exactly how I would have hoped, but for now, it's a start.

Later this month, 12 AT&T Wireless stores in 4 US cities will be the starting point for a new computing platform called Surface Computing, developed by Microsoft.
If you are unfamiliar with it, take a few minutes to watch this video. You might be amazed. :) (please ignore the wierd "mushroom music" in the beginning and end of the video. It is about 5 min long in total but worth it!)

After watching the video, you can see that the possibilities of this platform are endless. I am sad to see it make it's debut as a marketing tool however, I can only assume that it will begin to surface (pun intended) in homes and schools in the near future.

Can you imagine having a few friends over the house and sharing photos from your recent trip to [insert your favorite vacation spot here], literally on the coffee table? All of you sifting through and manipulating the media simultaneously, without a mouse or keyboard or stylus for that matter.

Even better, imagine this in a classroom... of any kind. I could not even speculate what the imagination of a child, native born in the age of technology, could do with this.
So... I will let you speculate, go to The Beauvoir Tech Blog and leave a comment to this post, how you think this could be used in a classroom. C'mon and get those creative juices flowing, I wanna hear some off the wall ideas! please don't reply to the email that this post automatically generates. Visit the Blog and Comment... Please.

Are you looking for Technology Professional Development? Look no further!

Do you know the way to San Jose... um... I mean... San Antonio?

I just wanted to take a minute to share this opportunity with those of you who are seeking Technology Professional Development for this summer. The 29th annual National Educational Computing Conference put on by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is the largest "EdTech" conference in the USA. It is attended by over 18,000 educators from all over the US and some international visitors too.

Last year, the conference was held in Atlanta. Roya, Andrea, Atanas, and I all attended, and it was amazing. They have some of the best Keynote speakers and the best sessions and workshops of any conferences that I have been to. You may just run into some folks like Alan November, or Daniel Pink, or Kathy Schrock, or David Warlick, or David Thornburg, or my favorite Mitch Resnick just to name a few.

I hope that some of you can have a chance to attend this conference, It is as much fun as it is inspiring! You can click on the logo above to find out more information.

Thanks, and keep those comments coming!

11 Year Old Student in Charge of IT at Arkansas School

You have got to love a story like this!

The Victory Baptist School in Sherwood, Arkansas has made 11 year old Jon Penn, the Network Administrator of the schools 60 computer network. Jon has been at it for nearly a year, since the previous IT person just up and quit one day, leaving the network and all of it's hardware a complete mess for someone else to clean up.

Not only has this kid stepped up to the challenge and cleaned up their network and it's hardware but he has also implemented a firewall for security and SPAM and Virus protection. This may just be the geek in me talking but this kid ROCKS, however, does make me feel slightly insecure :) Move over Billy G... Jon Penn is moving on up!

I would definitely love to hear your comments about this, so remember... Visit and click on the comments at the end of the post!

I hope you enjoyed this little post :)
You can click on his picture to get to the original post from Engadget.

Call for Volunteers!

Calling all volunteers.... Calling all volunteers....

Spring break will soon be here, and dare I say that it will be over sooner than we think. (hopefully it won't seem to go by too quickly)

When we all return in April, the Tech Team is looking for some volunteers to test 3 new experimental Tablet PCs with their class. Ideally we would like for each grade level to have a turn in 1 or 2 different classes for a week or two. Being that we have 10 weeks left after spring break, It should be just enough time to make the rounds.

What we would like to know is just how usable these tablets are with the kids. How well they adjust to the size, basic use, portability, and anything else regarding how they differ from the laptops we use now.
This coming week, we will be making a "checklist" of sorts with some specific things that we hope to find out about these tablets. We are hoping that we can all ignore how "cute" they are or how small they may be for us to use on a daily basis for work functions, but rather see how well the kids take to them.
Please remember that if you comment anonymously on the Blog ( to volunteer, please leave at least your first name. I know that sounds weird... but, If you just want to comment anonymously without volunteering, it could be kept anonymous, however, if you are volunteering it would be helpful to know who you are. :) You could also just email a member of the Tech Team to volunteer as well.
Thanks and we hope to hear from many of you.
And...... Let the volunteering BEGIN!