Monthly Archives: April 2008

Inexpensive Interactive Whiteboards are Coming

For our graduate school coursework, Rebecca and I gave a short presentation on how the Nintendo Wii will change the future of education. Currently, school systems across the nation are paying thousands and thousands of dollars for very expensive interactive whiteboards. A quick look at the Tags used with this post will give you the names for some of the more common varieties.

What follows is the outline used in the presentation.

The Nintendo Wii and the Future of Education An Exploration of New Technologies to catalyze School Reform

  • Introduction
    • The Nintendo Wii home gaming console
    • Statistics from showing market penetration
    • Demonstration with Volunteers
  • Educational Uses Now
    • Physical Education
    • YMCA
  • HOPSports – The future of kid’s fitness?
  • Wii Remote Projects with Johnny Chung Lee
    • Web Site:
    • “Tracking Your Fingers with the Wiimote” Video (4:08)
    • “Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote” Video (4:46)
    • “Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote” Video (4:04)
  • Conclusion

It’s only a matter of time before someone takes advantage of Johnny Chung Lee’s software to produce a very inexpensive interactive whiteboard. In fact, you can do this yourself if you are so technically inclined. The Wiimote costs around $40 US, the pen is cheap too, and the software is freely available. Compare that cost to the thousands of dollars companies are currently charging for these displays and you can quickly see why they are marketing their products so heavily. They know that the technology is changing and they have a limited amount of time to turn a profit.

So, what is my advice for a company, organization, or school system interested in purchasing this technology? Wait. If you must have this functionality now in order to stay competitive then don’t invest your money in the expensive wall displays. The smaller hand-held pads and tablets give arguably similar experiences at a fraction of the cost. My own school system uses InterWrite Pads extensively with a few Smartboards here and there.


“Celtx is the world’s first fully integrated software for Pre-Production and collaboration of film, theatre, radio and AV. It has all the tools media creators need to bring their stories to life – combining intelligent writing and planning tools, storyboarding, and scheduling with internet-friendly technologies. Open source and free to download, Celtx is the most complete media pre-production software program.” –

Celtx is available under a free license and useful for authoring:

  • Screenplays
  • AV scripts, including Documentaries, Advertisements and Music Videos
  • Audio Plays, including Radio Plays and Podcasts
  • Theatre Plays (International and US standard)
  • Plain Text
  • Storyboards

Google Trends

Google has so many neat little tools available. A colleague showed me this one last night. You can use Google Trends to compare search keywords on up to 5 topics over a period of time. Google Trends graphs it for you automatically.

Separate your search terms with commas. So, a search for “clinton, obama, mccain, huckabee, romney” would result in and in typical Google fashion the graph is mapped to articles – generally at peaks. It’s a VERY good tool to research current events as students can research the reasons for spikes in the searches. For example, why does a search on “Bush” spike in the latter part of 2004? Try searching for “violence, grand theft auto”. The resulting graph is actually highly INVERSE proportional. Who knew?

Narrative on Teacher Leadership

Narrative on Teacher Leadership

The leader that has been in my mind lately is George Washington Carver. His most distinguishing trait was that he lived beyond his circumstances. As an African-American in a time in our nation’s history when that didn’t mean much, he was an artist, botanist, and ultimately a brilliant chemist. He was very kind to those around him, thoughtful in his work, devoted to his adopted school where he practiced and taught early chemistry, and lived an honorable life.

Yes, I do consider myself a leader and specifically a teacher leader. I am a leader by leading my peers in our Computer Applications I curriculum, being a member of our MTAC committee, and voicing my opinions on important matters. I try to always backup my opinions with reasoning though.

I am very fortunate to have two excellent supporters of teachers directly over me. Both the CTE Director and the school Principal both support teachers. They used to be teachers and still remember the trials of the daily grind. Our CTE Director even has his office at my school and not at the county office.

Increasingly, I am getting less and less support from other faculty and staff. I think this is partly because of the work climate at my school and of course the workload. I can’t speak for other teacher leaders as they may be getting more support, but in general the morale is low and that tends to make people quiet on voicing their support.

Teaching really chose me. My father was a teacher and my first job out of college was teaching. I didn’t go to college to teach, but I find that it is very palatable to me. So much of my life was spent learning and enjoying the process that I am naturally at home in a school environment.

Not to be too pessimistic, but there are few jobs in my county for anyone with an advanced degree and I didn’t want to move elsewhere. I also hate change. I realize that some change is good, but I also recognize that not all change is for the better. So, once I got into teaching I was satisfied and didn’t really feel driven to seek other employment.

I am very proud to say that I have been invited to present at the North Carolina CTE Summer Conference now for three years running. I present on advanced Web Page topics suitable for teachers of the e-Commerce classes.

I don’t know where I want to be in five years. I’m torn between my love for my current school and my frustration with the climate in my county. It is becoming increasingly intolerable, many good teachers are leaving, morale is low, the current sophomore and junior classes have been more than difficult to teach, and nobody seems to be listening to or trying to fix any of the problems that are so evident at my level. So, I don’t know where I want to be. Actually, I do enjoy teaching my programming classes and I think I would make a good Technology Director, but I don’t want to have to travel too far to my job site. Right now, I am only 10 minutes away. I also don’t want to be stuck doing what I’m doing for another 20 years. I also want the opportunity for advancement and there isn’t any here. Again, I’m very torn.

I would hope that they would remember me as a teacher that truly cared for them. I also want to be remembered as someone who knew his craft well, loved it, and shared that love. I want my students to be exposed to things that are bigger than they are so that they will realize their potential. I love coaxing out that sparkle in a student’s eye when they understand something for the first time. I want to be remembered for helping them discover a love for something in their life – a passion that they never lose.

Disabling SanDisk’s Annoying U2 System Tray

Want to make your SanDisk U2 flash drive work like every other kind of flash drive? It’s actually pretty simple. A SanDisk flash drive connects to your computer as two separate drives. By denying the system drive access to your computer, the other drive where your data is stored can connect normally. Bingo! No more annoying U2 system tray.

I welcome comments on the following instructions. In particular, I would like to know if they work on Windows Vista and on legacy U2 flash drives. If anything is unclear, let me know.

Note: You will have to perform these steps on each computer that you use your flash drive with.

On Windows XP:

  1. Insert your SanDisk U2 flash drive and wait for it to attach to the system and wait for the U2 System Tray to load.
  2. Open My Computer and open the new Removable Disk drive. Delete the LaunchU2 file. Close My Computer.
  3. Now, right-Click on My Computer and choose Manage. This opens the Computer Management window.
  4. Choose Disk Management under Storage.
  5. In the pane to the right, you should see a list of connected disk drives. In this list, you should find two new drives for your SanDisk – one will say U2 System and the other will be your flash drive proper.
  6. Right-Click on the U2 System drive and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths…
  7. Click Remove and Yes when you are asked if you are sure.
  8. Now, exit the U2 System and eject your flash drive. When you reinsert it you should be U2 free.