education, technology, and everything else

Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

Still using dial-up

Posted by Miranda on February 27, 2009

According to an article at, only 9 percent of Americans were still using dial-up in a study last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

I wonder how many of those are using dial-up because they can’t get anything else. Our ECFiber project is stalled for lack of investors. Money for rural broadband has been stripped from the stimulus package.

And it never ceases to amaze me how soon people who do have access to broadband forget what it’s like to use dial-up. Sometimes it only takes a few seconds before they are gushing about GMail (ever tried that on dial-up – excruciating) or sending you links to videos, or worse still the videos themselves….
Or, they get snippy. “Why don’t you move to someplace civilized? I was asked the other day as I was complaining. Um, excuse me?
These are probably the same kind of people who objected to rural electrification.

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enough is enough

Posted by Miranda on January 20, 2008

That’s it. I am removing CoolCatTeacher from my blogroll. I just can’t spend the time to download her blog over my dial-up connection. The new format is just way too time-consuming no matter what she has to say.

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Social networking and school

Posted by Miranda on January 17, 2008

Notice the title is social networking and school not social networking in school. I’ve been thinking about some of the reading that’s come my way about leveraging social networking for education, and while I think it could be useful what I do not think is useful is trying to leverage existing social networks for education.

What brought this bubbling to the surface this morning was a post on Will Richardson’s blog: Social Networks (No) vs. Social Tools (Yes) in Schools. The post will lead to a lot more reading for me because I was completely unaware until this morning of the debate he mentions:
“Social networking technologies will bring large [positive] changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom” and now of course I’ll have to go and read that.

But what I’m talking about is educators using existing social networks, specifically Facebook, for school related activity. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the teachers on our Internet Committee uses Facebook to communicate with the students in her art classes. While the objection I voiced was mainly around how inefficient that method was in a bandwidth context I also have another objection to it and that is that social is social and school is school. For goodness sake leave these kids a place they can call their own!

During my junior high and high school years, in Newton, Massachusetts, we had a place to hang out: the park. Down the street from my house was a small park where we would gather and hang, sometimes until late at night. I don’t remember that we actually got into anything illegal or harmful but the point is that we were completely unsupervised.

Where, in this day and age, are the places where kids can hang out and be unsupervised? Practically nowhere if you ask me.

Now I am not saying for one minute that parents should not keep some sort of eye on what their kids are doing online, I believe they should educate themselves on what their children are up to and with whom. I sure do with my kid.

But for heaven’s sake, let teachers stay out of the play space.

Pass the tin hat, please…..

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Doing for ourselves

Posted by Miranda on December 22, 2007

I’ve written about this before (Dial-up: the new Digital Divide)but am reminded again this morning by a post on our town list-serve, just how forgotten we are in this little corner of the US.
We don’t have broadband here. We can’t get it, no one will supply it, we don’t mean enough money to them.
Yes, I’m a little bitter. A lot of things, including online video, are just impossible for me to use at home. I take online courses at Marlboro College that are sometimes quite difficult. Course chats, for instance are painful in the extreme.
It sometimes gets me steamed, reading education blogs that rave about new online tools of one kind or another, how most people just assume these days that if you live in the oh-so-grand Yewnited States of America, that you have access to all these things.
Guess what? They are wrong, wrong, wrong.

But the Upper Valley, where I live, is used to being self-reliant and that extends to broadband. A new initiative, Valley Fiber organized by people in various towns in the area is brewing.
They are being assisted by the folks at ValleyNet, who used to be my ISP until they decided to concentrate on other stuff.
I’ve already signed on as being interested, and during the next week I’ll be going up and down my dirt road here asking my neighbors to sign cards expressing interest as well. The more of us that sign on, the sooner we’ll get fiber here. We have to do it for ourselves.

We thought for a while wireless might be the answer and I spent a day driving around with the head of a company from up near Burlington, looking at sites where they might put wireless antennae. But our topography is way too wrinkled for wireless to get to everyone and all the companies we talked to are small enough that progress on the wireless front is very slow. The big companies, of course, don’t give a rats ass.

And Twitter! Twit from your cell phone, oh boy! Except I would have to drive six miles until I was next to I-91 to get cell phone coverage.

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The other 90%

Posted by Miranda on May 30, 2007

I was browsing through the New York Times technology section this morning and ran across this article on Design That Solves Problems for the World’s Poor. It’s about an exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum that honors inventions that solve problems for the people that really need it. It made me wonder, why do we spend all this time on technology that does little to actually do something, we go on and on inventing things like Second Life when there are real problems that need to be solved like getting water to the house from miles away or a house that costs $100 or less.

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Restructure whut??

Posted by Miranda on March 27, 2007

David Warlick… Please, please, please, check your spelling, and not with spell-check either.
You Just Got the Nod! Restructure You School Library

Ok, I admit I’m a bit obsessed, I admit I go through my local paper with a red pencil, but jaysus man! I like your blog, I like what you have to say a lot of the time but I see more spelling errors in your blog…..

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Dial-up: The New Digital Divide

Posted by Miranda on January 25, 2007

Ok, so the embedded clip from YouTube was fine at work where I have a broadband connection. In fact, I thought it was hilarious, that’s why I posted it and if you don’t agree, well I’m sorry for you.

But here’s what happens when I view this blog at home, where I have dial-up. I click the play button in the center and the video starts downloading. Now, I don’t sit there and wait for it, I’m not that silly, I know you have to cultivate a certain “attitude of Zen” with dial-up so I leave the computer and go heat up some leftovers for supper, feed the cats, eat supper, glance through the newspaper and 40 minutes later I come back to check it out.

And it’s still downloading, there’s about a quarter of it left to go. I’m lucky, I have two phone lines so my phone hasn’t been tied up all this time.

I have had this on my mind this week anyhow because of the fact that one of the faculty sent round an e-mail to all the other faculty warning them that a day student had been unable to access her homework assignment on the school website because she had dial-up. As it happens, I think that’s a fish story on the students part because I can access the school website perfectly well. I just have to be patient. But it does bring up the fact that even if a student has a computer at home it doesn’t mean that they will be able to easily access multi-media materials.

10% of the people that access our school website do so using a dial-up connection. In Vermont and New Hampshire, many, many areas do not have the option of a broadband connection. It is just plain not available to us. Satellite you say? Maybe, maybe. I can’t afford it myself. Even if I could afford it, there’s a hill behind me. We have a satellite for television which loses its reception when the leaves come out in May, we get TV back round the end of October.

So while multimedia can be a useful tool, don’t expect all your students to be able see your video clips. And here’s another news flash for ya: they aren’t going to be listening to your podcasts, either.

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