Tag Archives: wired

To GAFE? Or not to GAFE?

GAFE:  Google Apps for Education

Many school districts are jumping onto this bandwagon.  They want to be a part of the technological evolution that is occurring across the world.  Google, as anyone who is even remotely in the know already uses, began as a search engine, but now, is SO much more!  They are Microsoft’s arch nemesis–a competition among suites.

GAFE has so many features:  classroom, sheets, slides, forms…the list goes on for a bit!  But they are also user friendly and compatible with pretty much any electronic device and other popular tools out there, such as YouTube.  And, if you already have a gmail account, you have access!

I, myself, have been a gmail account holder for over a decade, and I’ve never wanted to part.  Gmail is easy to use, never has never issues, and I’ve never been hacked.  It simply makes sense.  And with access to so many of Google’s services, the deal is sweetened up a bit more.  So when my district offered workshops on GAFE, I did not hesitate to sign up.

We spent three long days doing a lightning introduction and review of everything, and today, we are given the opportunity to take the certification exam.  If my experiences and (short) training did its part, then I will be a Google Certified Teacher by the end of today!

Honestly, in terms of tactile rewards, the certification doesn’t give much.  (You can print out the digital certificate they email you.)  But, it does allow you a lot as an educator in this tech-driven world.  As we spent our days practicing, I was brainstorming lesson ideas in my mind.  I feel energized and excited to tackle the school year ahead!

My district is lucky enough go one-to-one with Chromebooks this school year, so we are most definitely supported to infuse as much technology as possible into our lessons.  And slowly, but surely, I am feeling equipped to take on that challenge!

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Net Neutrality: A Thing of the Past?

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/11/so-the-internets-about-to-lose-its-net-neutrality/

We all enjoy (at least in this nation) freely creating and accessing information on the internet, and many of us may be taking this for granted.  But now, net neutrality is under attack.  Big wigs like Verizon and AT&T are looking into enforcing capitalistic control over the internet.  What this means is that creating online is going to be a chargeable action (money-wise).  

Huge companies like Google already pay fees for obtaining services of these large telecommunication companies, but now it may affect us all.  Keep in mind we already pay to receive internet access in term of technology, but now these telecom corporations may be charging us on various sources we access while under their services. 

Although this is not even an official change in the world of internet–it will be seen in the DC Federal Court (the second strongest court after the Supreme Court)–it does seem like it will happen either now or later.  These telecom companies tried another sneaky tactic back in 2006 when they tried passing legislation that would protect net neutrality BUT with a loophole that stated that these telecom companies can control the level of services provided.  That meant that the telecom corporations chose which companies had faster internet service.  We all know how finicky we are about the speed of a website, so the fact that they could control this basically meant they chose which websites succeeded and which ones didn’t.  Thankfully both the government and public saw right through this tricky loophole and voted it down.

But, now in 2013, we’re at these front lines once again.  What will happen to net neutrality?  Will the last free technological frontier turn into a capitalistic, controlled system?  

It seems that only time will tell.

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eBooks: The Sneaky Threat to Libraries

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/10/how-ebook-pricing-hurts-us-in-more-ways-than-you-think/

With the fast pace developments in the world of technology, everything has an electronic version to it.  And since the entrance of eBooks into the literary world, readers and literary providers have been trying to keep up.  Unfortunately, with the presence of this race to stay relevant, libraries seem to be taking the biggest hit.

The major problem and disparity is that consumers and libraries of eBooks get charged differently.  As a public individual who is simply purchasing an eBook for his/her private eReader, shopping is made easy, and cheap, a lot of times.  However, this is not the case for libraries.

I would like to quote the article to paint a true picture of the predicament libraries find themselves in when entering the world of eBooks:

“Take the example of J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous book, Cuckoo’s Calling. For the physical book, libraries would pay $14.40 from book distributor Baker & Taylor — close to the consumer price of $15.49 from Barnes & Noble and of $15.19 from Amazon. But even though the eBook will cost consumers $6.50 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, libraries would pay $78 (through library eBook distributors Overdrive and 3M) for the same thing.”

That is absolutely ridiculous!  Because libraries provide readers with FREE access, ePublishers take complete advantage of these public providers in order to hone in on the biggest profit.  And because libraries are trying to fight shut downs and losing patronage, many pay these heinous prices–simply to stay in the race.

Somehow libraries, because they make books and information possible for every individual (no matter their background), are being taken advantage of by eBook providers.  Also, what makes the situation even worse is the fact that many authors are on the same evil bandwagon.  They are against the institution of libraries–some have gone as far as calling them “fascist.”  It is mind-boggling that people still think this way in terms of the written word, and it certainly creates a huge break between the haves and the have-nots.

Additionally, you may have noticed that eBooks have restrictions in terms of access.  For example, if you buy an eBook on Amazon, you are only able to access it through a Kindle device or Kindle ‘connection’ (such as the Kindle reader app.)  If you purchase an Apple iBook, you can only view it on an Apple device–this is how eBooks are different.  It would be like saying, “You cannot read your paperback of Pride and Prejudice in that student lounge, but you can read it at the coffee shop.”  It truly doesn’t make sense in terms of streamlining access.  Why, once you buy an eBook, from any provider, can you not read it anywhere through anything?

With all of these injustices, we are left to wonder where this is all going.  Because as much as I love books, and support libraries with every fiber of my being, I understand that the world of literature is changing.  (I myself, as a school librarian, am always debating if I should buy print books or eBooks for the school’s Kindles.)  So, what will happen when printed materials are extinct and everything has turned electronic.  Will libraries continue to be financially discouraged by these ePublishers?  How will libraries rise above this and fight for their equal rights to books, in any form?

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