New Week, New Tools, New Lessons

Today was a pretty cool day. I got my first taste of installing an NComputing system. I put it in our elementary library to expand the number of stations available for students to use. The main computer it is running off of is a base model ($500 w/monitor) HP with 2GB RAM and XP Pro. All went pretty smoothly. We used Logictech keyboards and mice and 17″ Princeton LCD monitors for each station.  It would be nice if the directions would tell you that the serial number and product key for the NComputing software was really the one for the little station modules, but other then that things went well.

Then I got to play with another really cool tool. An iPod Touch. 32GB. WiFi. Google Maps. GMail integration. Movies. Podcasts. And more than I can list here. I truly only had a few minutes off and on during the day to mess with it, but I have to say it is one fine piece of electronics.

I figured since I was picking my son up from school today while my wife is away on a field trip with her students, this was a good chance to look cool(er) to my seven year old. I asked him if he wanted to check out the new tool. He said sure and took it from me. Since I was driving us home, I had to hope he could understand my directions since I could not physically show him. I told him where the power button was at and how to slide the Unlock switch over to get to the menu. I commenced to offering several other fine points about the new iPod. He was kind of quiet (actually, he had not said anything during my spiel). I figured the volume must have been up a little on the earbuds, so I spoke a little louder:

“You know, Son, if you want to turn the volume down just slide your finger across the bottom of the screen!”
“Thanks, Daddy. I know that.” (Me internally: What? I just figured that out!)

“Well, in case you want to move around in the video, slide your finger across the top of the screen. The timeline will show up and you can move the cursor.”
“Yes, Sir. I figured that out.” (Me internally: What? I played with that for a bit before I could do that.)

“If you get tired of the movie, you can always click the square on the bottom of the iPod to go back to the menu and then click, I mean touch, Music. Then you can scroll down to the artist or song you want.”
“Yes, Sir. I already did that, too. I’m listening to TobyMac now.” (Me internally: Hmm. New blog post?)

My son has only occasionally played with my video iPod, but the navigation is totally different. He does well on any computer we put him in front of, but the Touch is a different ballgame. Isn’t it? Maybe not for these kids.

So, in summary:
1. I figured out the NComputing system is pretty easy to install and seems to work well in our library setting.
2. The iPod Touch has some incredible features for educational use. I need to explore it more for that purpose.
3. Apple did a phenomenal job on the navigation in the Touch.
4. Never think I will be able to teach my son much about computer-based tools. I need to sign up for lessons from him, instead.

Now, where is that Blue Snowball USB mic that came in this morning. “Hey, Son. Can you show Daddy how to hook this thing up?”