Friday, July 30, 2010

Episode 110 – Summer Crunch Time and 15 Minutes of Fame

It’s Friday July, 30th, 2010 and welcome to episode 110 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Summertime is rapidly coming to a close. Teachers and school support staff are beginning to think about all that needs to be finished in order to have a successful launch to a new school year.

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(7 minutes 56 seconds)

For many educators having a computer with Internet access has become the norm. I cannot imagine teaching today without the assistance of technology. There are just too many benefits for teaching and learning with technology. Our students today expect a technology-enriched learning experience as they have grown up in a world saturated with technologies.

We have become so reliant upon technology that we often take it for granted. Many do not realize all the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining a reliable and vibrant technology-enhanced environment.

It is now crunch time as we are beginning to run out of summer. Summertime is the best time for technology upgrades and updates as many faculty and staff are on vacations and staffing is at a reduced level. This is the least disruptive time of year for major upgrades and changes that need to be accomplished. There is never a time that will not be an inconvenience for someone so IT personnel do their best to schedule maintenance at the least busy times which is often at night or on weekends.

Thousands of technical support personnel are now working very hard to complete summer work that includes new computer installations, re-installations, and updates to existing computers. Tech staff are also building new and improved networking infrastructures including wireless access. In addition servers are being updated with the latest applications and patches to insure that equipment is in optimal working order. Yes indeed, there is a great deal of work that goes on over the summer time.

Here at the ITC I am faced with working on both the instructional and technical sides of things. If the technology is not in good working order faculty and students will not be able to use it for instructional purposes. We have about 160 general purpose lab computers in our college that are currently undergoing a complete makeover as we get ready for the fall semester. As of now only about 30 computers have had the necessary updates so we have a lot of work to do in the next three weeks. No matter how much you plan it seems like there is never enough time to get everything accomplished that you want.

In addition several college-level websites have been updated including the NCATE accreditation website for our fall site visit. New computers are in the process of being installed for new faculty and there have also been several office moves. ITS personnel are upgrading our email system. It has been one busy and productive summer here at the ITC.

Why do we go to so much effort? Simple, it is for our students. Our college is charged with educating the next generation of teachers and I firmly believe that we must provide a solid foundation so that students are familiar and adept with using technology in the teaching and learning process. Without a reliable technology infrastructure our students would not be able to benefit from all that is available. New technologies will come and go throughout ones teaching career and teachers should be constantly looking for new tools and methods that will make them a better teacher. The learning never ends.

In more general technology news this month Facebook hits the 500 million user mark. One-half billion people are using Facebook. Another Facebook news item this month is in regards to a security researcher that recently wrote a script that captured the public profiles of over 100 million Facebook users. Many college students use Facebook regularly and this is yet again another example of information being collected and shared in a way that a typical Facebook user might not be aware of. Links to a couple of articles related to this story are provided in the show notes.

Public data snatched from 170 million Facebook profiles

"Leaked" data of 100M Facebook users came from public info

Even though this information was collected from information made public by Facebook users I do not think the average user understands the intricacies of privacy settings. This particular example collected usernames and public profile data that could be used in the future for brute-force login attacks. Keep in mind that your account is only protected by your username and password, if your account is hacked all your information is available to the hacker(s). If you are a Facebook user be careful with your account settings and what you share with others as privacy concerns continue at Facebook. User data is being harvested and mined for information by other companies and future attempts may be made to link information about friends on Facebook.

In YouTube news, YouTube has just announced that it will be increasing the time limit of videos posted to the service from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. So now everyone has a shot at their 15 minutes of fame. A link is provided in the show notes to this announcement:

YouTube extends time limit to 15 minutes

YouTube has been working on their Content ID system and now have in place a system that can identify copyrighted material as it is posted on YouTube. With over 24 hours of video being posted to YouTube EACH MINUTE of everyday this is a huge undertaking. This Content ID system allows YouTube to take material down that violates copyright in a proactive manner. I have also provided a link in the show notes to a recent TED Talk about how YouTube thinks about copyrighted material and it is worth a watch if you are interested in intellectual property rights and how YouTube is fighting copyright violations.

Margaret Stewart: How YouTube thinks about copyright

Technology Pick of the Week
My Technology Pick of the Week this week is another YouTube related pick. Sal Kahn created the Kahn Academy that provides free instructional videos on a variety of topics on YouTube. Links to the Kahn Academy are provided in the show notes.

Khan Academy website (scroll down to see the subject categories):

Khan Academy YouTube Channel:

Sal got his start on the academy four years ago by helping his cousins with math. He uses a PC and tablet device to record screencasts that he posts to YouTube. Sal works through problems by drawing on the screen while explaining the steps involved.

Currently the Khan Academy has over 1400 YouTube videos on a variety of subjects and all are provided free of charge. If you visit the Khan Academy website be sure to scroll down the page to see the list of videos by subject area. This can be great supplemental material for students to learn more about a given subject area or to fill in knowledge gaps about a particular subject. Subjects include Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Finance, SAT and GMAT preparation and many more.

YouTube seems to really be stepping it up with improvements in supporting HD content, increasing the time limit to 15 minutes per video posted, and the support of closed captioning. As an educator I am excited by what YouTube is doing and it is great to see beneficial uses of the technology flourishing. Technology itself is neutral, I would like to see more educational uses of YouTube in the future and instill upon our students that they have the choice of what content to watch, so choose wisely. Do not fill your brain with the junk food of the Internet as there is also plenty of worthy educational material to consume. If you have not heard of the Khan Academy before be sure to check it out. I highly recommend it as it is a great example of leveraging technology to benefit learners.

That wraps it up for episode 110 of Tech Talk for Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at To leave a comment or suggestion, please send an email to or leave a comment on the Tech Talk for Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom. Keep on learning…