Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why pay for software?

Most tech savvy schools understand that they need software to fully leverage (and thus justify the expense of) classroom laptops. Beyond MS Office, there are now LOTS of free Web 2.0 tools--my favorite being blogs, Google Docs,, and wikis. But what about software that is used during instruction that has an impact on teaching, feedback, material coverage, student achievement, retention...learning? Examples include SAS Curriculum Pathways, Atomic Learning, Plato Straight Curve, ANGEL Learning LMS, Waterford Early Learning, and DyKnow Vision/Monitor. The challenge is that many educators still expect this software to be free. Sure, I like free stuff, too, but often times the "solution" of open source software presents hidden costs, limited support, and difficult integration with existing infrastructure.

My view is that using technology with learning is a not a research project. Rather, it is a production-level, high stakes business that must work with consistency and efficiency. Buying licenses for any of the above commercial software only amounts to a paltry 2-7% of the cost of the laptop. This is clearly a good deal if you look at the financial commitment of the laptop itself. Yet this potentially invaluable instructional software still competes for funding with things like webcams or backpacks. Unfortunately, many schools still choose to allocate that last $40/machine to a branded laptop backpack instead of proven instructional software, and I'm not surprised when many of these students end up having very nice laptops that they use infrequently.

So why pay for software? To ensure reliability, high utilization of laptops, and meaningful learning outcomes. Education is not an experiment. Schools that invest a bit extra in the right tools can significantly increase their chance for success with technology and learning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DyKnow and friends at NECC

A cadre of people from DyKnow will decend on San Antonio Jun 30-Jul 2 for the annual National Education Computing Conference. It is targeted at K12 tech decision makers and usually garners 12,000 people. However, I hear that attendance is down this year due to travel costs, but that just means the lucky folks who attend will get even more attention from us. :)

We are doing a couple things differently this year. We will not have a booth. Instead, we have rented out a meeting room with a partner and are bringing in several key customers to share their experiences using DyKnow software. I'm talking about everything from learning outcomes to classroom examples to network impact. I think it's always better for peers to hear from peers instead of vendor types, so I'm excited about this. You may see the schedule and sign up info here.

We will have a big presence with partner HP in their booth #8185, as well as involvement with a Tablet PC advocacy group called WIPTE. Check out this schedule for when you can use Tablet PCs in their lab and hear from other users.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DyKnow 5.1 is out!

Summer is here, and that release time! I am very excited about our 5.1 upgrade that just came out, and I just have to do some shameless self-promotion.

The biggest change users will welcome in 5.1 is a drastically simpler UI designed after the ribbon bar from Microsoft. So instead of having 50 tiny icons littered on the toolbar, now we have only the most frequently used icons, and they are bigger and contain the name of the icon. Check it out:

Usability and adoption is our biggest focus for the product right now, and focus groups have really helped us get to this most recent usability innovation.

The other major feature is Audio Recorder. It is part of DyKnow Vision. It is so easy - no extra hardware or servers needed. The DyKnow teacher essentially talks into their Tablet or laptop (or external mic) during class and at the end of class uploads the audio to server. Students then download and sychronize the single Windows Media audio file with their DyKnow notes to replay the lecture. I use this during demonstrations and playback afterwards to make sure I didn't miss any follow-ups. This feature has been especially popular so far with foreign language teachers and HiEd faculty in general.

Full details of the 5.1 release are here. We welcome your comments.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old school prof sees benefits of technology

This story from Campus Technology bucks the widely held belief that experienced teachers are against technology in the classroom. Virginia Tech professor Dr. Charles Bostian shares why in his own words.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tablet PC Conference CFP Mar 14!

The Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education (WIPTE) will start accepting propoals March 14 for its fall 2008 event. I have attended the Purdue University-hosted event the past two years, and it has been the best single event to talk about Tablet PCs with educators. WIPTE has seen attendees representing 100 institutions from 5 countries covering 15 academic disciplines. Check out this info sheet for more reasons why you should send a proposal and attend.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Meet you at FETC

The New Year is here and that means...planning for FETC, among other things. Yes, it is 20 degrees here and I will soon have to suffer through a +60 degree change in Orlando. I bet Floridians like visitors because they are always in a good mood. You might see me in the HP booth #814 or buzzing around the exhibit floor talking with customers and partners. I am excited to give some hints about our upcoming release. The 5.1 upgrade is scheduled for GA in June, so January is a good time to get some informal feedback to compare to our alpha and beta testing. Drop me a line if you want to meet up!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Being a student in the 21st century

Students are multitasking. The lecture hall is passe. The world is getting flatter. A friend passed me a profound video on this topic.