Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

To all my favorite students, staff, faculty, have a wonderful Christmas day with Family and Friends!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

live@edu Test Environment!

I've just created a live@edu test environment.  We're going to pilot a test at Animo ODLH sometime this Spring, but I'd like you to check out the features of the product. While you won't have admin access, you can access the environment as a student. What I can tell you that it offers the same bulk-uploading features to add users as in Google Docs. But take that a step further in that it provides integration with our own network infrastructure, providing a SINGLE SIGN ON (SSO) for students. Students log into the animo domain with their own username and password from any computer on the network, which automatically connects them into the live@edu cloud and brings up their own customized desktop. They will also be connected to the live@edu cloud have access to their 25GB of skydrive, along with access online to the Office 2010 Web Apps (Outlook , Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and One Note) from any computer connected to the internet (even off of our network). These apps are already compatible with the Office software installed district-wide.

To log on:
First, email me: and request a logon.

Third: Provide the credentials:
temporary password: greendot2000

Fourth: Play!

All options are currently enabled. You can chat with anyone online at the moment through the contacts menu in outlook. In addition, the website allows for social media connectors and functions similarly to a social networking website (complete with status updates, friends, profile, etc.). Fill it out for fun! :)

So, please try it out, create docs, share docs, upload docs, update profile, chat, etc....give me feedback, ask me questions, etc. etc. and I will attempt to find an answer for you!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rest in Peace, Daddy.

Three years ago today my life unravelled and changed forever.

At 6:38pm on December 2, 2007, my dad lost his 3-month battle with Leukemia. I remember it like it was yesterday. I recall the smells, the tubes, the machines, the EKG, and the sound in the room when his heart stopped and the heart monitor read "ASYSTOLE."

My dad was my hero. Ever since he decided to fork over nearly $4000 in 1989 for an old Packard Bell 386 SX (Specs included a whopping 25MHz Processor, 256 KB of RAM, 20 MB Hard Drive, and a VGA Monitor), I've been into computers.

He taught me how to play with Basic Programing (GW-Basic from Microsoft) to create my own programs to how to make spreadsheets in LOTUS 1-2-3 that could magically calculate thousands of numbers all at the pressing of the enter key (Yeah, no mouse for my computer...yet) much to the chagrin of my Math teacher at the time.

I quickly surpassed my dad in computer knowledge (as most kids do these days) and I remember the day I installed a game-card into one of the available ISA SLOTS. Man, was my dad furious that I had opened up the chasis to a very expensive piece of equipment and installed a piece of hardware. But, could you blame a kid? I really wanted to play Wolfenstein 3D and I was really getting tired of using the cursor keys to navigate through the awesome 8-bit graphic "3D" mazes. This was and is the only first person shooter game I ever was really into.

My dad's last job was Finance Director for the City of Delano and hence a master at Excel Spreadsheets. He knew Pivot Tables and VLookups before Pivot Tables had it's own ICON on the Excel Toolbar. With the Click of a button, he started Macros that magically checked and referenced hundreds of other spreadsheet files and cells. His city financial reports were awarded for their awesomeness.

Yet, he never attended an award ceremony in his honor. My dad was the most humble, selfless person I've ever known, growing up in a large family and raising his brothers and sisters.  He even put most of them through college.

He was an amazing man and an amazing dad. He loved his life, his wife, his family.  I really miss him.

Take a moment today to remember and honor a family member (alive or passed) who has influenced your life because you never know how different your life may become...

Jay R Aguda

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prezi, the UnPowerPointy, Presentation tool

I blogged briefly about this in passing a month or so ago, but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

It's slide #6. I need to go back to slide #2 before the bell rings to show the "big picture" again. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Ugh. This is much easier if I just exit the presentation (Esc) and view the 2nd slide again. Ok. We're back on slide #2. But the characters on slide #2 are way too small...back to slide #6.

Yes, if you're like me you metacognitively have conversations with yourself about your delivery and the quality of your presentation right in the midst of your presentation.

Enter Prezi. Prezi is a new presentation tool that veers away from the SLIDE paradigm that we are all so used to in presentations. PowerPoint linearity is what we're used to creating, but we're all realizing (the way we jump back and forth to different slides) that our brains (and our students' brains) don't deal with new and nebulous content in a linear fashion. (If it were that easy.) Learning involves bringing clumps of ideas into long term storage throughout multiple locations in our cerebral cortex. But these ideas only have meanings when the learners are in an environment where they can interconnect these ideas. Hence, we ask children to brainstorm using graphic organizers, bubbles, venn diagrams, etc. etc to help them solidify and make connections with what they have just learned.

Prezi has the ability to turn a didactic presentation into this kind of environment. Prezi uses Adobe Flash technology to present ideas in a playful way, zooming and rotating about text and images as if all these ideas where thrown on a giant white board. This would have been the perfect answer to my dilemma above, if I needed to get back to the "big picture" I would just zoom out.

With Prezi, you can program it fly about on a pre-defined path, or zoom and click onto content at the user's discretion. It's pretty amazing. And the best part, it's free for educators.

So, Go! Make some prezis and post links to them here. Embed them if you like :)

I'm still on the fence about Prezi replacing PowerPoints exclusively. There are many things that a Prezi cannot do (You can't print prezis, add photo rich detail) however for "big idea" lectures or introducing particular topics, Prezi is the way to go.

"But," to quote Lavar Burton from Reading Rainbow, "you don't have to take my word for it."

Watch it in full-screen for the full-effect :)