• 01Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Mind Amplifying Tools, Technology Comments Off on Keeping up with technology – choice or necessity?

    20090101-postI’ve been writing this post for the last THREE DAYS. Did you know that you can’t have a blog with embedded Flash content if you’re using WordPress.com? As a matter of fact, you can’t do it with most mainstream blogging platforms. TypePad.com seems to be one of the only ones that allows it, but that’s a paid service, so it might not be for everyone. I’m partial to open source, so it wasn’t for me as long as there was an alternative.

    Anyway, it’s taken me 3 days to finish this post because I’ve been researching what blogging platform to switch to – not an easy feat since I really like the WordPress.com interface and was looking forward to making it my home. But, after reading through its support forums (here and here) I realized that many people are in the same boat as me – people who want to use technology to connect with others BEYOND text-based communication – and either end up settling for not being able to incorporate Flash into their entries, or switch. I’ve had to switch – to WordPress.org. What’s the difference? Read about it here.

    And speaking of reading, here’s that post I’ve been writing for three days!

    I’m intimately familiar with the pressures of keeping up with cutting edge applications of technology. I didn’t think that I could be more in tune with this pressure until I moved to Silicon Valley where so many of the brilliant minds that develop innovative uses of available technologies collect in the numerous office complexes just down the street, around the corner and up the road from where I live. Now, not only do I feel that I have to keep up with fellow technologists, but I also feel that when I signed my lease to move here, I inherited some obscure self-imposed duty to not just be up-to-date but to be on the raiser’s edge of innovation as it happens. (Feeling I have the duty and actually doing it are two different things 😉 )

    To be honest, I thought that living in California would seem different. I think I was expecting flying space crafts floating people to work – carbon free and totally Green space crafts of course! Instead, the roads look the same, the people still go grocery shopping and trees still grow toward the sky in this high-tech hub of Apples, and hard drives and intangible technologies that make venture capitalists millions (or break their banks – depends on the day).

    Anyway, the point of my ramblings today is that there are lots and lots of totally phenomenal programs, tools, platforms, and ready-made vehicles just waiting to be used to make our lives easier, funner and more fulfilling. All we have to do is look for them…

    but how do you search for something you don’t know about yet??

    …find them…

    but how do you know when you find an answer to a question you didn’t know you had??

    …pick the ones that best works to satisfy your needs…

    but how do you do that when you didn’t know you were missing something in the first place…and…which one do you pick if only a small percentage will survive the incubation period and make it into mainstream culture??

    …and revolutionize the way you perform your most common processes.

    But…doesn’t that sound like a lot of work??!?

    The questions in italics are still questions that I’m trying to figure out for myself. I know that they’re real, relevant questions with significant meanings. After all, the answers to them could change the way we think about technology, alter how we use it and update our expectations of it. Not only that, but they could also make the learning curve even steeper for those who are just starting to learn how to use a computer for the first time. That’s where us learning technologists come in!

    One thing I want to do with this blog is to use it to share with you when I discover cool technologies that work for me, show examples of how they work, and invite other users to share they experiences.

    SproutBuilder logoSo, that brings me to Sprout Builder. AMAZING!!! Have a look at their online demo if you haven’t heard about them yet. I’ve been using this online development tool for about a year now and it’s made my life easier and so much more colorful! From redesigning PowerPoint presentations for teachers and turning them into impressive flash presentations, to marketing materials, to online course content that makes up part of distance learning programs, I just keep finding new ways of using this tool! It’s really great because it makes content development SO easy. The interface is intuitive and there are so many things you can create with it.

    What I’ve ended up with is an ever-growing portfolio of materials that I’ve already re-used, edited and improved upon many times over the last year. The only thing that could use some improvement with the tool is the way the designer saves and stores developed content. At the moment, there’s no way of keeping a backup on your own computer – it’s all stored on the SproutBuilder servers. They say they’re working on a solution. In the meantime, I’ll continue sprouting (conservatively)!

    Here’s an example of a Sprout I created to help educators in the UK learn about the importance of copyright laws as they relate to online course development:

    Get Adobe Flash player

    I’ll publish other Sprouts in future messages for those who are interested.

    From: Virtually Scholastic

  • 10Dec
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology Comments Off on “So, what do you do?”

    10 Dec 2008

    For some reason, I always seem to have a hard time answering the question, “So, what do you do?”

    When I’m in England, I’m a Learning Technologist. When I’m in the US, I’m an Instructional Designer. When I’m in Italy, I’m an Online Tutor or – even more vaguely – an eModerator. Sometimes, when I rub someone the wrong way, I’m the ‘Technician’ (put in my place, I suppose!). At other times, I’m the Teacher, the Inspirer, the Face on the Wall that’s Being Beamed In from Across the Ocean, or the Super Fast Typer with All the Answers.

    In the end though, I’m just somebody who sees how much good technology could do/can do/will do/has done in the world of education and I want to share the wealth with others. All I want to do is create ways for learners and teachers (who are often my most important learners) to derive benefit from the great, cool, awe-inspiring, fast changing and ever challenging thing that IS technology!

    Anyway, so because I have difficulty answering the question of ‘what I do’, I sometimes wonder if it’s me who’s having an identity crisis and wasting my life away doing a job that has no name, or whether it’s that I got into a field that has yet to be defined. Going to conferences and having those fabulous impromptu chats with other ‘No Names’ (let’s call me that for the moment) is great because at least I know I’m not alone in my confusion!

    I know that there is a definition and a title for what I do out there, still floating around in space just waiting to be pulled down to Earth. Maybe it’s just a case of congregating with others like me to have a sense of community, because the very ‘remote and digital’ nature of my work definitely allows for a lot of working at home in your jammies. On the other hand, that independence and autonomy is the MOST PHENOMENAL thing about doing what I do. That, and being able to play with mind blowing applications of technology that make the way we live life, and the way we communicate with one another and the way we connect and consume and grow totally beyond the abilities we had even just a decade ago.

    Technology enables those who want to learn about it with the chance to participate on a gloriously evolving process of the discovery of our potential.

    We can do more the more we know.
    We get to know more the more we learn.
    Learning is an internal process.
    There are people who will come and go in each and every one of our lives who will be there for the purpose of assisting us in our learning, but, in the end, we have to do the work for ourselves.

    So…at this moment…if I were to answer the question “What do you do?”, I would say that I’m someone who can help you do more than you think you can…as long as you’re willing to do the work.

    From: Virtually Scholastic