27 January 2009

What is the Role of the Netbook in Education?

An article in this morning's NYT ("$200 Laptop Breaks a Business Model") got me thinking about technology and education, especially within the frame of the recession. With the economic climate as it is, school systems are going to have to get creative with technology, especially as they continue to strive to prepare learners who can engage in "multiple literacies, including digital, visual, textual, and technological, [which] have now joined information literacy as crucial skills for this century" (ALA, 2007). The netbook, a stripped-down version of the laptop utilizing solid-state hard drives, is usually equipped with Linux, a free operating system, and open-source software, such as Open Office. Some netbooks take advantage of email and online document services from the likes of Google, computing done "in the cloud." The key element here is price: you can buy a netbook for $200 and have the basic productivity software (word processor, presentation software, spreadsheets) for next to nothing. What makes this so interesting is the speed with which schools will adopt and utilize these technologies, if they will will at all. With shrinking technology budgets, will funding be allotted to existing machines or to these new, smaller versions? Who will provide training for educators to engage in these technologies and how will they be incorporated into teacher preparation programs?

Come the Snowy Weather

It's sort of snowing here in southern Indiana - sort of meaning something along the lines of it snowed last night, covering the ground in a lovely blanket of white, but the snow has since changed to a sleety substance. Regardless of the way precipitation manifests itself, it is cold, perfect weather for staying inside and knitting. Unfortunately, I'm inside but not knitting. I haven't been knitting a ton since the holiday rush, finishing those last few gifts before the big day. Too much going on, especially with the start of classes. Hopefully the insanity will die down a bit and I'll have a little more time to work with some needles and yarn soon.

I have not been totally abstinent, yarn-wise, and started on my Lizard Ridge (Ravelry link). What a delightful pattern! I wanted something quick and easy and this was definitely just the ticket. The blocks knit up quickly and I've managed to get three blocks from two balls of the same Noro Kureyon colorway. Thrifty (somewhat) and a great project for the small moments I've had to knit in the past few weeks. I'm up to seven blocks - only twenty-three to go.

The block of Noro 170, which were surprisingly different to one another. I found the key to be knit the blocks using two balls of yarn, knitting from the inside of one and the outside of another. It allowed for greater contrast, although the top block (heavy on the greens and oranges) was a fluke.

These blocks are from a ball of 185 and are my favorites thus far. I love the way the colors work together and how the blocks are similar to one another yet distinct - a much better illustration of the method behind my two-ball approach to knitting these.

The lone block made of 213. I like the watery feel of this colorway and am interested in how the other blocks will knit up. As I look at them in a pile on my desk, I'm excited to get them all finished so I can see how they fit together. Perhaps knitting time this weekend, part of which will be spent weaving in all these ends?

What's an Audit Trail?

I recently read an article by Jerry Harste and Vivan Vasquez from a 1998 issue of Language Arts entitled "The Work We Do: Journal as Audit Trail." In the article, Harste and Vasquez analyzed the hardbound notebooks Harste jotted and drew ideas into as a roadmap of his work as a researcher and teacher educator. They called this the Audit Trail, defined by Wikipedia as a "chronological sequence of audit records, each of which contains evidence directly pertaining to and resulting from the execution of a business process or system function." It's a pretty powerful idea and one I am still attempting to fully wrap my head around, accounting for the various ways our ideas are impacted by the material we read, the experiences we have, and the baggage we carry around. It makes for an interesting ledger of how ideas are added to, changed, tweaked, and a possible tool for me to more fully to understand my own thinking and how it is changing. This is my attempt at creating an audit trail, making myself accountable for my ideas.