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Laptop Program Showcase a Success!

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The Laptop Program Showcase was a great success with a strong turnout of interested parents and students. Demonstrations of technology use in the curriculum were provided by many disciplines including Science, English, Media Arts, Computer Science, History, Music, and the Teaching and Learning Center. Parents and students had the opportunity to ask questions of both faculty and the IT Team. 

For more information about Catlin Gabel Upper School Laptop Program visit our Laptop Program Page.

Laptop Program Showcase and Technology Fair

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Wednesday, May 16, 5 - 7 pm

If you have questions about the 1:1 laptop program in the Upper School, please stop by the our Laptop Program Showcase and Technology Fair. Teachers from many of the disciplines will be demonstrating how they use technology to enhance their classroom learning goals. Our award winning Upper School robotics team the Flaming Chickens will be putting their robots through their paces. Information Technology Staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about selecting or ordering a laptop through the school. 

The format for the Laptop Program Showcase is open house, so please stop by the Upper School library anytime between 5 - 7 pm.

www.catlin.edu/event/upper-school/technology-fair has additional information about this event. We hope to see you there.

Crash Plan Pro Selected for Faculty/Staff Backup Solution

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Getting regular, reliable, and restorable back ups for faculty and staff has always been problematic. In the past we trained users to manually backup their important files to our servers. Although we provided training and file space, this was less than successful. Users usually had one or two good backups but they were always out-of-date when a hard drive decided to crash.

We then moved to automated backups using a script and robocopy on the Windows side and iBackup on the Mac side. While these methods have improved things significantly we still found that there were many things that could go wrong with the backup including halting on a corrupt file, not finishing or restarting after user intervention, the inability to backup Outlook/Entourage archives and to backup off campus, and difficulty mounting the server so that the backup could begin.
 
After researching several options and testing a few, we have landed on Crash Plan Proe www.crashplan.com/enterprise/ as our backup solution for faculty and staff. We tested the solution with users who had a large amount of files (50 GB), users with large Outlook/Entourage files (archives), and we had users interrupt the backup and backup from off campus. All our tests were successful and we feel confident adopting this solution beginning this summer.
 
Crash Plan Proe offers a central monitoring console for so we can see all of user’s last backup dates and when they were successful. We can also see errors if they occur and can proactively work with the user to correct the problem. If there is a loss of data, end users can restore their own backups on or off campus and be up and running without the intervention of IT.  We look forward to reduced data loss with Crash Plan Pro and to rolling out an enterprise-level product that meets the needs of our users.
 

Major Sophos Anti-Virus Update May 2012

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Sophos, the Anti-Virus software packaged installed on all desktops and laptops at Catlin Gabel will be significantly upgrading its software sometime in May. The new update will be approximately 85 MB in size and will require a reboot. Please plan on a longer download time for the update and a prompt to reboot your machine once the new software is installed. If you encounter any problems with this new upgrade, please email tech support at helpdesk@catlin.edu or stop by the IT Office in Vollum. For more information from Sophos on this update, please see www.sophos.com/support/knowledgebase/article/117226.html.

Catlin Gabel co-founds online academy

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New initiative expands student opportunity

Catlin Gabel has helped found a new nonprofit organization called the Global Online Academy (GOA), a consortium of ten leading independent day schools that will offer online high school courses beginning this fall. We are honored that our own PLACE urban studies class, taught by George Zaninovich, has been selected as one of the five inaugural courses. Lakeside School in Seattle led the effort to found the academy and will hire the director.

Students may choose to take an online class to pursue academic study in a subject that we do not offer, to study with students from other parts of the country and the world, or to experience a format of instruction that they are likely to encounter in the future.

We will explore the potential for online learning in a Catlin Gabel education, while investing modest resources and enrolling only a handful of students at first. Upper School department chairs will determine student eligibility requirements and course credit policies. We expect the academy to grow quickly, as new member schools join and more students enroll in classes.

Catlin Gabel will play a special role in the online academy by demonstrating our brand of experiential education, which we have honed over decades. “Learning through experience” may form the foundation of the best quality of online instruction.

Founding schools
Albuquerque Academy | Albuquerque, NM
Catlin Gabel School | Portland, Oregon
Cranbrook Schools | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
The Dalton School | New York, New York
Germantown Friends School | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Head-Royce School | Oakland, California
King's Academy | Madaba-Manja, Jordan
Lakeside School | Seattle, Washington
Punahou School | Honolulu, Hawaii
Sidwell Friends School | Washington, D.C.

Thanks go to our faculty and staff who are leading the way
Lark Palma, head of school: GOA director search committee
Michael Heath, Upper School head: academic policy committee
Richard Kassissieh, IT director: GOA board member and Catlin Gabel liaison to GOA
Dan Griffiths, science teacher: curriculum and accreditation committee
Jim Wysocki, math teacher: technology and professional development committee
George Zaninovich, PLACE director: instructor of an inaugural GOA course
Lauren Reggero-Toledano, Spanish teacher: attended the academy conference
Paul Andrichuk, Middle School head: attended the academy conference

The mission of the Global Online Academy is to translate into online classrooms the intellectually rigorous programs and excellent teaching that are hallmarks of its members schools to foster new and effective ways, through best practices in online education, for all student to learn; and to promote students’ global awareness and understanding
by creating truly diverse, worldwide, online schoolroom communities.

http://globalonlineacademy.org

 

 

 

Has Technology Changed How We Read?

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By Paul Andrichuk

From the Fall 2010 Caller
The scene repeats itself at coffee shops all over Portland; people staring at their computer screens as they move from site to site, document to document. It’s worse if you are a parent, watching your child avoid eye contact or other social cues as they “study, read, or research” (even as the music plays). We react as the cranky adults we swore we would never be.
 
That’s the emotional, personal reaction, but in the back of our minds we wonder if people are really reading and learning. Has Google made us stupid, as the Nicholas Carr article in the Atlantic suggested? He seems to come down on the side of believing the internet has rewired his brain, affecting his attention and ability to sustain reading:
 
“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, and begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”
 
You may be nodding to yourself in agreement, even as you curse technological breakdowns that suddenly make your life more difficult. You hate our reliance on technology and pine for the good old days without it, but it sure is great to find a restaurant when you are lost or Skype with your sister in Florida.
 
Here are my three basic thoughts regarding reading in a technological age.
 
* Books and computers are here to stay (short term), and young people will be reading from both.
 
* The brain is constantly evolving, including rewiring itself. Indeed, Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, argues that we are not born to read. The brain will continue to change in response to new symbols, the speed with which information comes at us, and the myriad forms it will take.
 
* Critical thinking skills transcend how and where reading is done.
 
The evolution of the brain
 
The brain has been changing and adapting since the invention of language. That’s reading the symbols, but more importantly it’s about how the brain connects the meaning of words to the experiences and imagination of the reader. If our brains were able to begin this evolution with the advent of written language 6,000 years ago, surely it can adapt to the speed and scope of information, especially language, available on the internet.
 
Reading begins at infancy
 
One of the best indicators of reading is how much time children spend listening to adults who read to them. The gobbledygook on the page are words, and words will make up your son’s or daughter’s universe.
 
This point has little to do with computers and reading, but it’s an important one to make for three reasons. Books are not going away. Reading is a great family activity. Students often say they have always remembered their parents reading.
 
Finally (and it is a related point), always remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher!
 
Reading means independence
 
Socrates feared that reading would make people too autonomous and, worse, would retard the brain’s capacity to infer, analyze, and think critically. He was mistaken. Images of the brain during fluent reading light up areas that indicate all of these things are happening.
 
If Socrates was incorrect about literacy, then perhaps we are mistaken in our assumptions about reading and technology. Young people understand that there are different types of reading, depending on its purpose.
 
Questions for Catlin Gabel
 
Schools like Catlin Gabel can be explicit in how they teach reading and use technology. Computers are here, they are not going away, and they are great educational tools. So what does this mean for the young people in our charge? What does it mean for parents?
 
Critical thinking makes stronger readers
 
Catlin Gabel students are critical and independent thinkers. It’s an aspect of the school culture that is celebrated, but more importantly, it allows students to be careful consumers of all information. Reading skills are guided, modeled, and practiced, regardless of whether the information is on the screen or in a first-edition novel.
 
I connect critical thinking to reading, but it’s equally important to connect critical thinking to a careful assessment of the source, especially internet sites. After all, if what you’re reading is inaccurate or false, it tends to affect the educational process.
 
The value of time and reflection
 
Getting lost in a book is a luxury, so is getting lost after you’re done with it. Just as Goodnight Moon allows you to see the connection of words to a child’s world, so does connecting ideas in a book to our notion of possibilities in the world.
 
Youth should be “multitextual”
 
Students are naturally making judgments about how to read based on the purpose of their task. A general survey of the news on the front page of the Oregonian, reading four pages of a biology text, and reading an online editorial in the New York Times require different levels of attention.
 
I’ve meandered a bit through this discussion of reading in the digital age. I was prepared to subscribe to Nicholas Carr’s viewpoint, but I simply cannot. Computers and technology are no longer luxuries but necessities, both in terms of our quality of life and our education. In addition, books and computers can coexist— and we will read from both. Those who worry that the internet may be rewiring our brains are correct, and the evolution of this vital organ continues, just as it has responded to every other substantial change in human history. What remains at the core of reading—from books and computers—is that we continue to value and teach the thinking skills beyond the symbols.
 
Paul Andrichuk is the head of Catlin Gabel’s middle school.

Technology upgrades

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A lot happened during the summer

This summer IT and facilities staffers installed a completely new wireless network that provides improved speed and security. If you bring your own computer or handheld device to campus, just attach to the insecure network named “openwireless” for Internet access. We also installed new antivirus and network access systems, to keep unknown, infected, and out-of-date computers from accessing central network resources.

We provided a series of training classes for teachers and staff members, from required Windows 7 and Office 2010 trainings to elective offerings such as email strategies, Mac essentials, and social networking.

We made major upgrades to workstation software. We now run Windows 7 and MacOS 10.6 “Snow Leopard” on nearly all school computers. Windows and Mac users now use Office 2010 and Adobe Creative Suite 5 widely.

A terrific team of alumni and students helped us this summer: Kaitlyn Linehan '06, Max Baron '07, Eric Montague '08, Ryan Takahashi '09, Eli Skeggs '13, and two newcomers, Emily Eisert and Natalie Dukes.

The website offers a wealth of information and the latest school news. Did you know that the website receives 8,000 page views each day? Tabs on the right-hand side of the home page provide instant access to news headlines, calendar dates, and lunch menus. Look under Athletics for team pages, new this year. Also visit Catlin Gabel on Facebook and Twitter!

To find out more about Catlin Gabel technology, please visit the IT pages on the website or speak with one of us.

Richard Kassissieh, Daisy Steele, David Hirata, Johny Nguyen, Faith Baynes, and Mike Maynard
 

Robotics program director Dale Yocum named technology educator of the year

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Congratulations, Dale!

The TechStart Education Foundation named Dale Yocum Oregon's technology educator of the year. The award honors a teacher who is:

An effective, engaging instructor who inspires passion and commitment from her or his students while advancing their critical thinking ability, skills, and knowledge in challenging, meaningful ways.

An advocate for the study of information technology, making technology accessible to all students and building an inclusive culture.

A role model for colleagues, who is committed to ongoing personal and peer professional development and establishes, evolves and communicates best practices and pedagogy.

In addition to prestige and recognition, the award comes with a $1,000 donation to Catlin Gabel's robotics program.

Senior Yale Fan qualifies for 2010 U.S. Physics Olympics

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American Association of Physics Teachers announces the 2010 U.S. Physics Team Selection

Out of more than 3,000 students who undertook a rigorous exam process, Yale emerged as one of 20 students from across the U.S. who now make up the 2010 U.S. Physics Team.

The team training camp, which is a crash course in the first two years of university physics, is an integral part of the U.S Physics Team experience. Yale will attend the training camp for his senior project. Students at the camp have the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from some of the community’s leading physicists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to Croatia for international competition, where more than 400 student scholars from 90 nations will test their knowledge in physics, competing with the best in the world.

The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 by AAPT to promote and demonstrate academic excellence.

Read the Oregonian article from May 19.

Kevin Ellis and Yale Fan describe their award-winning projects

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Recorded at the upper school assembly of February 18, 2010.

Take Kindle for a spin

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Overnight checkout available through IT department

The Information Technology department now has an Amazon Kindle available to families for overnight checkout to evaluate whether or not they might wish to purchase one. The IT office is located in the upper level of the Vollum Humanities Building. Please email IT@catlin.edu if you wish to reserve the Kindle.

At this time, we do not anticipate formal school adoption of the Kindle or other electronic book reader, but we would like to support families that are interested in them.

Some Kindle features

The Kindle and other e-readers use a new kind of screen called "digital ink." As opposed to conventional display screens, digital ink screens do not use a backlight. The screen is easier on the eyes than a laptop screen and remains visible in bright daylight. Because the Kindle is not backlit you can't use it in the dark without an additional light source.

The Kindle does a good job increasing text size, changing screen direction, and altering the number of words displayed per line.

The Kindle can store up to 1,500 books at one time. It can display documents in the Amazon, Word document, HTML,  text, and PDF formats. It can also play MP3 and Audible files. Some file formats require conversion through Amazon's email system.

The Kindle can read the text on the screen aloud but it does so poorly and really isn't useful as a text-to-speech tool.

The Kindle includes some bookmarking and annotation features.

Note taking was difficult. It was uncomfortable to use the small keyboard to add text.

The battery lasts a long time—up to two weeks if you don't make extensive use of the wireless browsing capabilities.

The Kindle includes a web browser and wireless connectivity that uses the same 3G network used by cell phones. There is no charge for the wireless connectivity at this time. The Kindle must be registered in order to use the wireless capabilties.

Books sold by Amazon for the Kindle are sold in a proprietary format that can only be read using Amazon software. Currently, that software is available for the Kindle, Apple's iPhone, and Microsoft Windows. Amazon is working on software to read Kindle format books on Mac OSX and Blackberries.

Once you register your Kindle device with Amazon, you may purchase additional texts with one click. This could be a liability if you lend your device to someone else.

Some colleges, including Reed, have experimented with using these devices in their instructional program. We do not yet know whether these colleges are planning large-scale adoption. Read about Reed's experiment.

Other e-readers include the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Sony eReader. Reviewers suggest that they each have their pros and cons.

The Kindle may prove useful to students who seek the convenience of an e-reader or benefit from the additional features such as changing text size. These devices are an example of an emerging technology, and we will watch their capabilities as the technology matures.

 

Thinking Critically About Facebook

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Middle School Workshop

What do middle school students need to know about Facebook? On January 13, Middle School head Paul Andrichuk and information technology staff members Daisy Steele and Richard Kassissieh led an afternoon workshop with Middle Students to encourage critical thought about personal information and the corporate entities behind the popular social network site.

Click on the links in this outline to see examples shared with the students.

What is a social network?

Facebook is the leader of social network sites, but many more exist. If we broaden our view to social media sites, in fact dozens exist. Social network sites represent a significant development, because:

1. Ordinary users contribute most of the content.
2. Companies have little control over site content.
3. They appeal to people's sense of community.

Adoption is widespread. Alexa estimates that 30% of their users worldwide visit Facebook every day.

So much about social networks is new. People and organizations are less able to keep tight control over their website presence. Even giant companies are still figuring it out. Individuals have gained the possibility to use social media to gain unprecedented visibility.

How will the use of social networks change how people communicate? Facebook's CEO thinks that it is changing social norms. Many disagree. How will students use social networks for good? What will Facebook do next? What will succeed Facebook?

The goal of today's workshop is to apply our critical thinking skills to our use of social networks.

Students proceeded into three breakout groups by grade level. They then participated in three sessions led by Paul, Daisy, and Richard. Paul and two upper school students introduced sixth grade students to the process of setting up a new Facebook account. Daisy examined privacy settings with seventh and eighth graders. Richard investigated how Facebook applications access personal information. Below, please find notes from the apps workshop.
 

All About Apps (seventh and eighth grades)

A Facebook application ("app") is a piece of software that adds functionality to your Facebook page. Most are games or information-gathering devices (e.g., polls).

Most apps are built by companies other than Facebook. Installing an app shares your profile information with that other company.

To view your list of installed apps and uninstall one, go to the Applications link in the lower left-hand corner of the Facebook interface and click Edit Applications.

You may recognize status updates generated by applications from their nonstandard icons, the "via" text, and phrases like "Click here to help."

Though I am sure you are a very helpful person, clicking on that link will lead to the installation of a new app.

Note that Farmville will gain access to your profile information, photos, and friends information, at the very least. Are you okay with this?

During the workshop, students completed a role play activity to learn more about the movement of personal information between a user, Facebook, and Zynga (the maker of Farmville). Download the handout.

After the role play, the group discussed the following questions.

  • What information does Zynga now have about you and your friend?
  • Did Zynga need this information for the game to work?
  • What else might Zynga do with your personal information?
  • What would prevent Zynga from doing something unethical with your information?
  • What could Facebook do to ensure that application developers keep your information safe?

The presenter then provided the group with more information about Zynga.

Clicking Allow indicates that you agree to the Farmville Terms of Service, which would should read and understand! Just one part of the TOS is fairly illuminating.

Section 4c

You grant to Zynga the unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual fully-paid and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, resell, sublicense, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, make derivative works from, retitle, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content [emphasis added] to which you have contributed, for any purpose whatsoever, in any and all formats; on or through any and all media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter known; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote same.

Can you trust Zynga with your personal information? Founder and CEO Mark Pincus speaks in the following video about the measures he took to raise money for the company. The video sheds some light on the character of Zynga, its founder, and its reasons for existence. This may help you make an informed decisions about whether to share your personal information with this company.

Other companies have come under scrutiny for their security practices. RockYou improperly handled and inadvertently exposed 32 million usernames, passwords, and email address. Another company produced a "Secret Crush" application that didn't actually reveal a secret crush but instead installed unwanted advertising on their computer.

We encourage student to think critically about Facebook apps and understand how personal information is handled when you play one of these games.