Friday, October 05, 2007

Scratch - Visual Programming Environment - Australian Lesson Exchange

The Australian Lesson Exchange (ALE) is a relatively new wiki for all Australian Educators from all states and territories. Its a place to share your stuff! Fellow Aussie edubloggers may like to check it out!

Richard Wiktorowicz from Moorefield Girls High has kindly shared, via ALE, a fantastic set of activity cards in PDF that he has developed for scratch. Thanks Richard.
Scratch - Visual Programming Environment - Australian Lesson Exchange

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create
your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and
share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up)
develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects,
young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas,
while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

For those who are yet to discover the joys of scratch take a look at one of my year 5 student's movies here. Cody did the storyboard, the sprites and backgrounds himself, (as well as the scripting of course).

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Education and Copyright at Bionic Teaching

Copyright awareness is something that we as teachers must include in our classroom life. I teach a range of children from K-6 and I begin copyright instruction in kindergarten, by modeling behaviors such as "acknowledging" or "thanking" the creator of any work we make, talk about, or use.

Someone always owns the work. (Picture, poem, song, etc). The owner of the work is the one who created it. By year 6 the children are not only aware of copyright and ownership issues, but have become quite good at referencing pictures, sound clips, and text. (I insist that they do so).

Tom Woodward
at Bionic Teaching has a stylish powerpoint presentation on copyright. Check it out, it's one of the best I've come across on this vital topic. Tom keeps it positive using the traffic light analogy. Green is "you can" , orange is "caution", and red is "do not". By focusing on the green lights, like creative commons and public domain, you can be sure to avoid the scrutiny of the copyright police. The presentation is clear with ample notes, and covers images, text, sound, and video, in a very positive and simple way.

Well worth adding to your toolkit.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How can using the Internet support my Student's Learning?

Hello again. After a period of not posting so regularly, I now appear to be making up for it.

I'm currently part way through an Australian Pilot of the new Intel Teaching Essentials Online course.

Without going into too much detail, it's a course that fosters reflection on the pedagogy of using web based tools in your daily classroom life. Eg, Develop a unit of work the fosters both higher order thinking skills and 21st century skills, meets your jurisdictional syllabus outcomes, introduces practical ways of using blogs, wikis, and other online tools such as google docs, Zoho, and, all within a quality framework of formative and summative assessments. Basically its about best practice, and so far I have found it to be exemplary.

The most recent activity asked me to reflect upon:

  • How can I use the Internet to support my teaching and students’ learning?
  • How can I ensure responsible and appropriate use of the Internet?
.....a good and worthwhile activity in my opinion. The following is posted on my course blog, but I though I'd post it here and open up the discussion for my own benefit really. So please feel free to add your thoughts to mine
Use of the internet can support my students' learning by exposing them to a bigger world of ideas than would otherwise be possible. The students can view the work of their global peers, and assess themselves on the quality of their own creations.The internet has the potential to expand cultural awareness (and expose culture-centric views).

The internet supports my teaching by providing similar benefits as it does to the students. I can participate in discussion with my peers and colleagues. I can share ideas, develop strategies, and have my views challenged, modified and refined. (My view can even be ridiculed and trashed).

Responsible use of the web can be fostered in a few ways. Each of which contribute to the goal of creating safe, fun, online learning spaces. Supervision, AUP's and filtering are vital. But perhaps just as vital is an understanding or appreciation by the teacher of the dynamics and technicalities of virtual learning spaces. If the students are with a guide they can trust and enjoy the journey with, then a communication can develop that will enhance the understandings of both teacher and student. (We learn together).

How can a child discern the "bad" or "mediocre", if they have not been exposed to the "good" or "excellent"? Who will expose them to the good and excellent if their teachers cannot?

This brings me to the point of website filtering. Can we go to far? Can we filter too much? I don't know about others, but I don't want my children to grow up in a virtual clean room. Children need to understand that there are pitfalls and nasties, and need to be given strategies which will enable them to deal with these nasties. Then there is the question of exactly who does the filtering. As an extreme (perhaps) example: Do we filter to please our corporate sponsor at the expense of highlighting human rights violations. Do we filter from a certain religious world view? Big questions, no apparent easy answers.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yet another Poll

Thats right, another poll. This time from Vizu.
Hopefully blogger will work more smoothly with this one than the zoho poll, which had a strange cookie problem, anyway....give it a shot and let me know if you have any problems please.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reply from Zoho, (and steps towards resolution)

I know its not just me that has the cookie problem with ZoHo Polls. (See comments on original post). So I posted a report to ZoHo.

Here is the report:

Lots of my readers are having problems with cookies in firefox on a mac, and on windows as well, when trying to view the embedded poll.

They get a message that cookies must be enabled., even when cookies are enabled.


and here is their response:


Thanks for using Zoho Polls and thanks for raising the issue.

We tested with the firefox version for windows and firefox version for mac. But we could not reproduce the issue that you have sent. Kindly check with the cookie settings or security settings of your firefox browser and get back to us, if you reproduce this issue anymore.

Kindly visit our website and checkout the free services offered to you. Thank you,

I was not impressed, and so I've done a bit more troubleshooting. It seems that if you go to a zoho poll not hosted on blogger, you can vote without the cookie message, and then if you go to a blogger hosted poll, you get to vote ok. (The cookie was set from outside of blogger)

If however your first experience with a zoho poll is from a blogger hosted blog, then the message appears. Seems to be a blogger issue. I have tested this on different machines with different browsers and so far I am able to reproduce the effect every time.

I have sent this to Zoho support to see if they are able to investigate further.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Polls in Classroom..part 2

Well, it would appear that zoho polls is having issues with cookies on some browsers. (Mozilla and Explorer to name just 2). Then again, maybe its a blogger thing?

A lot of the free online poll creators give me rather bad code to play with , so I gave up and tried bloggers' own widget. It works for me, so how about giving it a shot. Its in the bar to the right.

Pity about the cookie issue on the zoho poll. The fantastic thing about zoho is that I can save the results, and create multiple polls, tag them, search them, and post them (kind of).

Use of Polls in classroom

Hi All

Its been a while since I posted. This is just a quick one to test a feature of online polling. Have a go and let me know what you think. There is a lot of interesting pedagogical discussion around the use of polls. I'm just playing at the moment, but can see a use for them in the near future.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Personality Types and Your Classroom

Thanks to Sue T at "and another thing" (great blog Sue) for pointing me to mypersonality.
At first I was startled at the results, but after my initial surprise, I found I have had plenty to ponder. I'd never seen myself as a strategist before, but upon reflection, thats what I do all the time. I generally sit back, analyse and assess a situation, formulate a plan for action and when the time is right....act. Not everyone does that!

The site gives lots of informative quotes and support, as well as lots of links off site to personality support/information groups.

Sign up and take the tests, then post your widgets.
I can see lots of practical educational applications for this. What personalities are there in your class? How can you modify your teaching learning strategies to enable the others types to succeed? Do you plan for multiple intelligences?

I showed this site to my staff and some where keen to give it a go. Will be interesting to try and develop a group personality for our staff. Might make planning a bit easier.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Friday, August 03, 2007

Creative Commons

Whilst searching for an image I could use to illustrate a piece of work. I found this neat video produced by the folk at creative commons.

Spread the word, and support Creative Commons.

Presentation to School Leaders

Roger at LIPS has a presentation incorporating elements of the shift happens/paying attention "series" presentation.

In Rogers words:

Readers may be interested to see the way that elements of the ‘Shift Happens’ series have been incorporated into this presentation for a group of school Principals, encouraging them to take a lead modelling role in the use of ICT, based on an imperative which is growing exponentially.
Good stuff Roger. Keep it up.

Ban the Internet !

On my cycle trip home from school today I got to do some thinking on the nature of our job, and the people we sometimes work with.

Thanks to a colleague (Tim) who passed this to me.

Teachers vote to ban internet | The Register

Phillip Parkin, general secretary of the Professional Teachers Association, told the organization’s annual conference yesterday that the nation’s children were being used as “guinea pigs” in a massive Wi-Fi safety experiment.

Parkin demanded an inquiry into the technology, pointing to a range of maladies which could be down to radio waves cooking the brains of pupils and teachers alike. These include loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches.

As everyone knows, no student or teacher in the UK ever suffered from any of the above before the Labour government started spending billions of tax payer money dragging the education system out of the 1960s/1860s [delete as appropriate].

So there you have it, the UK’s education system is in a state, but all will be OK if teachers don’t have to use computers, networks, or have to deal with any kids. Alternatively, summer holidays could just be extended to 52 weeks per year.®

Such an elegant solution to teacher incompetence and apathy...blame it on the internet!

How much more Dangerously Irrelevant can this profession become?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

3 steps for 21st century learning.

I love EduBloggerWorld! If you haven't joined yet, then click the badge in my sidebar and join up. I was browsing through EBW and just stumbled upon this cool video by Jackie at Teacherhacks

Find more videos like this on EduBloggerWorld

Simple, practical and achievable. What more could one ask for? Be sure to visit her blog for support materials.

Parent2.0...Special Guest Podcast

Lucky us...

One of our very talented parents (Jenni Cargill) has allowed us to feature one of her excellent stories as a podcast on the MullumWriters blog. Go and listen if you have a few minutes.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Digital Schools Statistics

Roger Pryor at Leaders in Public Schools has a post explaining the many and varied benefits of utilizing web2.0 tools in your school. In it he links to tech learning articles on web 2.0 and professional development, which has a great list of resources to share.

Roger also links to Key technology trends , another techlearning article. Note point 4. bandwidth crisis looming. I've blogged about this before using the term exaflood.

1. Not long ago very few schools had a large number of laptop computers.

2. Ubiquitous Computing Is Growing Rapidly
3. Ubiquitous Computing Practitioners Report Substantial Academic Improvement
4. A Bandwidth Crisis Is Looming
Today the Internet bandwidth per student is 2.90 Kbps (or kilobits per second per student) according to the survey. Furthermore, schools say they will grow this to 9.57 Kbps per student by 2011—a 3.3-fold increase. But the ADS 2006 team believes that as much as 40 Kbps may be needed in five years. As the number of computers in schools increases and the ways in which students use computers change, more and more bandwidth will be needed.

It is unlikely, however, that many schools are budgeting for a 14-fold increase, although technology directors are generally aware of the challenge. The hard costs of the bandwidth required to support the growth in online learning, home connectivity, and ubiquitous computing are unknown and likely to require additional research.

5. Online Learning Is Growing
6. Professional Development Is Key
7. Low Total Cost of Ownership Is Increasingly Important
8. Some Product Categories Will Grow at a Rapid Rate (IWB's and handheld/mobile devices)

The article gives graphs and stats, well worth a read.

Briefing the Principals

I've been asked to present to a group of local small school principals regarding computers in schools and staff training.

I've put together a package that I feel provides a framework for understanding the issues surrounding "21st century skills".

To get things started I though I'd shake it up first. Four months old but good, and only 2 minutes. That ought to turn the discussion to getting these skills out to our kids.

So how do we get there?

Nets: the next generation: This is an excellent refinement of digital world skills including the important realm of citizenship skills (which is often overlooked in the discussion). Nets the next generation is presented in an easy to read, checklist style.

Leadership in an Online World: This document from the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth affairs, (MCEETYA) provides a framework which will enable leaders to plan for and support change. Australia and New Zealand are committed to this. Greg Whitby referenced a similar document in his recent post at blueyonder

School 2.0 map: get a free one here. School 2.0 is a brainstorming tool designed to help schools, districts and communities develop a common education vision for the future and to explore how that vision can be supported by technology.

This inevitably leads to the question: "This is all well and good, but how do I prepare my staff?"
That's easy... The Intel Teach program is excellent here, though some might say that excellent is understating things a bit.
"It is an exemplary professional development opportunity for educators committed to creating learner-centered, technology-enabled curriculum and instruction for the 21st century."
- ISTE* Seal of Alignment Report on
Intel® Teach Essentials Course, Version 10

Intel teach is a global program, and is being implemented in over 50 countries, but for examples of how it's working here in NSW (Australia) check out some examples of intel teach in NSW

Hopefully my presentation will encourage some schools (just one would be enough) to make a change.

So that's it. What have I left out? What do I need to leave out? As always, comments and tips are most welcome.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Podcasting session at NSWCEG

I sat in on Greg Preston's podcasting session at NSWCEG today.
Here is a roundup.

  1. Podcast research (in relation to educational outcomes and classroom learning. Not much of it around. Suffice to say that "it feels right".
  2. Examples of podcasting, from professional, commercial, to student.
  3. Quick demo of how to record, edit, save and upload. reference to numerous web based tutorials.
  4. How to use podcasts. Group projects, authentic audienc, external contacts, must be organised.
  5. Steps to success.
  • Concept (audience, delivery, funding, outline, tasks.
  • Content (subject matter, research)
  • Implementation (record, edit etc)
  • Release:
  • Evaluate: (assess against outcomes/goals, rubric)
  • Further issues. (copyright, child protection)

21st century Leadership

Had the pleasure of chatting with Dan Morris at lunch. He is a fellow Intel Senior Trainer, so we had that amongst other things in common. (Like NECC... even though I was an inworld participant.) He showed me a site that he and Gene (Bias) are using to demonstrate the concepts of 21st century learning to leaders and administrators . You might like to check it out here

I'm off to listen to Gene's keynote.

more later

Live from NSWCEG

Well I made it. I'm sitting in a presentation at the moment by Bryn Jones from Atomic Learning.

It was a seven hour drive from my place to Newcastle. All of the roads are blocked and there are police all over the streets trying to keep the crowds under control with regards to the grounding of the Pasha Bulker.

Dan Morris
gave the Keynote this morning on 21st century skills. He was fresh from NECC and spoke on problems of promoting change. Also had fun with these lettle clicker things, where he asked a question of the audience and we got to click the response. Fun yes, but interesting then to compare our reponses with other groups accross the USA.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Farewell Mr Benham

Our principal of the past ten years retires in 2 days time after 40 years of service to Public Education.
Here is a small tribute that some of the students, staff and I put together.

The show was created in PowerPoint and was embedded using zoho. With zoho it's as easy as uploading and embedding. Podcasts were recorded using audacity, and are hosted at OurMedia

Nothing quite like a retirement to bring a team together.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cool New T Shirt

When Darren Draper said that he'd left a box of t-shirts at the doorway of the main building on ISTE island, I just had to go inworld as soon as I returned from work and grab one "before someone stole the box". (Daren's words)

Whilst I was expecting to get a t-shirt, I wasn't expecting to meet such a range of friendly folk attending the NECC conference in Atlanta though. Had a wonderful time listening to conference highlights from the participants. sounds exciting, though a bit overwhelming...and there are still 2 more days to go.

I made some great new friends. I'll certainly be visiting more regularly.

I live in a relatively remote part of NSW Australia and Second Life provides me with a real, and achievable way to connect with others.

Thanks Darren.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reconstruction of Learning Experiences

As a smart, clever, literate educator reading this blog, you, like me, are actively trying to reconstruct the learning experiences of students to equip them for a digital, flat future. Why else would you read this?

I heard something this week that disturbed me, and will probably disturb you as well.

A teacher had taken some seven year old computers out of 15 months of storage ("too old for the network, need to be thrown out"...said the tech guy). So rather than throw them out, the teacher (with permission) reformatted them, installed some freeware/open source programs suited to the subject being taught, put them into a cluster in the back corner of the room and put the students to productive work.

Sure they weren't on the network, and there was no Internet. If the students wanted to save work, then it had to be to a usb flash memory drive. But they were productive! They were engaged. The students loved it, the teacher loved it, the other faculty staff found the idea so interesting that some of them took old computers out of storage and did similar things.

It lasted almost one week. Old structures and mechanisms don't take lightly to change. The machines were taken back, and were made ready to go into a lab. (Strangely they were now good enough for the task.)

So whilst some of us move forward, and engage the kids with whatever means (support, technology, funding) are at our disposal, it appears that some teachers still face a mentality that wants to put control back into the domain of the "keeper of the keys" (or the digital Taliban if you will).

It's almost as if there are forces at work to actively stop the sort of engagement that Greg Whitby (winner of the bulletin smart 100 award) talks about.

From Greg:

we're not saying every child needs only a computer to learn: come in, open up it's laptop time … They still need time with real people, to learn gross motor skills, and to use a pen and pencil, and to read, or to sit in a corner with a book or outside under a tree, and interact with teachers, as a socialising agent.

"But they need time to work in cyberspace. The traditional response has been to put technology into a computer lab, but it clearly doesn't meet their needs, because then you are deconstructing their learning experience, and it's artificial."

Greg Blogs at BlueYonder and will be speaking at the NSW Computer Education Group annual conference on July 1st and 2nd

Did You Know? 2.0

Karl Fisch (assisted by Scott Mcleod and Xplane) has posted the reworked "Did You Know" presentation at YouTube. In my opinion this is a much better version than the original.
The beautiful but unobtrusive design allows the ideas embedded in the presentation to come to a much greater prominence over the glitz and flash that most presentations have a tendency to become.
Well done to those involved in its production. It's a piece that I'll be using not just to share the idea, but as an example of effective presentation style.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A laptop for every student?

Well! There's a suggestion! Scott at Dangerously Irrelevant has costed out what percentage of the US GDP would be required to provide a laptop to every teacher and student.

Does every student need a laptop?
Would classrooms be more relevant if every student had a laptop?
Would trading in paints, brushes, glue, scissors , sporting equipment and even musical instruments, for laptops make classrooms more (or less) relevant?
At what age would a student recieve one? The requirements for year 1 are very different to year 12.
Could the money be spent more productively elsewhere? (Building maintenance, paints, brushes, transport, health, water resource management, rollout of infrastructure.)

Speaking of infrastructure...would the current infrastructure that's already in place cope with such a massive hit?

Thanks Scott. As always, you got me thinking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Netvibes trumps Pageflakes!!

In reponse to last nights post on the race to be voted the best reader/aggregator in the webware 100 awards, I learned today that netvibes beat the others in the category. Firefox won best browser, followed by Opera, then IE7, followed by netvibes (not a browser but an aggregator).

If you havent checked out netvibes, then now is probably a great time to do so. If you have ditched netvibes in preference for another reader/aggregator, then I'd love to know why. Let me know why you dont use netvibes.

(Oh and by the way...Google Reader came in at fifth place).

Monday, June 18, 2007

What's your Favourite Web App? Webware100 Awards

Tonight's the night folks! announces the winners of the top 100 webware awards.
What are the best 100 Web 2.0 sites and services?

The categories are:
Browsing, Communications , Community, Data, Entertainment , Media, Mobile, Productivity, Publishing, and Reference.

Of particular interest to me (but by no means the only interest) is the "Browsing" category. Here we have a contest between google reader, bloglines, netvibes, pageflakes and yahoo pipes. It will be interesting to see what the community chooses as their number one. I use netvibes as my homepage, have tried bloglines and google reader, (then went back to netvibes). Have not tried pageflakes though. Netvibes suits me, so why change?

As I type, the winners have not been announced, but it's only moments away. So check out the list, browse through the winners, and let me know what you (or your students) think.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Wondrous Journey Begins

There has been some great discussion amongst my colleagues over the last few days regarding moving ahead and engaging students with rich tasks, that promote higher thinking skills, in a 21st century context. Darren's video has helped immensely, (thanks Darren). The best part of the discussion has been the creation of a lesson sharing wiki.

On top of this came a presentation that was shown today to a group of ICT leaders in my state. The discussion has begun. It will be interesting to see where we can take it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quintura for Kids

Yahooligan used to be a favourite of mine, but has become a real mess lately. (Advertising, junk, too many distractions). It's even been blocked by my Education Department.

Quintura for Kids is a neat looking search engine, and it's kid friendly. Takes a bit of practice (view the demo) but I intend working with this next week with a few of my classes, so will keep you informed as to how it goes.

Unfortunately I couldnt get it to work in flock or firefox. I keep getting a "please wait" message, Internet explorer 7 was fine though. I searched for a solution to this, but found none, so maybe its just me. If you get it to work in mozilla can you let me know?

Thanks to Ben at The Tech Savvy Educator for the pointer.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Will it all come to a grinding halt?

Three things happened that grabbed my attention this week. They all had a common thread.

First: Jane Nicholls @ *** ICT U Can! posted a clip where she introduced flixn.

Great stuff (again) Jane. Lots of educational and real world application.

Second: A good friend posted me a link to Blaise Aguera demonstrating Photosynth. Amazing stuff, and well worth viewing. My friend said he can't wait until this is everyday life.

Third: I spoke with some colleagues who earlier in the week had successfully trialled an inter school video chat. One beach side school showed off their beach to another beach side school, (1200 km apart) and they both shared their beaches with a school at Broken Hill, (on the fringe of the Great Australian Outback). About 1500 km from both. Check out the map here

So what's this common thread?

Well, as I type this, there is a debate happening in Australia regarding the necessity (or not, sadly) of a roll out of greater broadband services to our nation. (It's an election year in Australia). We currently have some government members stating that there is really no great need for faster internet. This is from the country that has the dubious distinction of having our (ex) Minister for Communications, Information Technology and The Arts, being called the World's biggest Luddite , by the The Register.

Innovators are currently reaping the benefits of a relatively untrafficked network. The unfortunate thing is that as more and more people adopt the technology and put it to productive use, then the network will groan and strain and ultimately fail under the load of the extra traffic. How will your LAN cope? What about your WAN? Is it able to cope with the exaflood?

Readers of this blog are innovators and pioneers in their respective fields. The technologies we are creating, discovering and putting to productive use are mostly dependant upon fast connection speeds and high volume data throughput. As educators our goal is to promote change in thinking. As the following diagram (from Going Virtual: Technology and the Future of Academic Libraries) shows, there can be no change or move towards a 21st century paradigm unless we have a reliable technological base.

What will happen to your local networks when every family in your district/region/state starts using flixen at the same rate as email. What about flixn spam?
Will members of your family be able to simultaneously be involved in an immersive high bandwidth experience like second life? What happens to video chat between schools when every student wants to share, rather than just one teacher?

Is your network (remember, the internet is just a network of networks)going to cope or break?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Podcast is Go

Enough testing.
The first podcast on Mullum Writers is published (cast?)

Check out Zac's podcast here.

I thought that my initial post was satisfactory, but I wasnt happy with the visitor having to click a link and then have a new page open with a player, (eg firefox/flock opens a new page and you get to watch the quicktime bar as you listen.) My students and I want visitors to enjoy the artwork and read along as they listen.

When I'm not satisified, then I usually don't rest until I am, so rather than lose sleep tonight wondering how to fix it, I spent some time digging up and applying a great hack that lets you use the word press player within blogger.

Basically you'll need some webspace to store the java code and the flash script. As a blogger user I had a googlepages account. I find that googlepages is great for storing widgets, pics and stuff that I need to reference later.

Paste a script to reference your java and swf files into the head of your blogger template.

Then you paste a script into the post and add the url of your hosted audio file.
The result, I feel, is worth the effort. If anyone has a better solution then I'm all ears.

My next challenge is to setup a "recording studio" in the school that can be utilised during quiet moments. Quentin posted a fantastic site in response to my last post, so I'll be studying up on ways to make the 'casts more enjoyable.

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Podcast Test No 1

Inspired by Jane Nicholls, and helped by a wonderful tutorial on podcasting for beginners, I present you with my first podcast. Enjoy :-)

Click here to listen to podcast test number 1

Next task, a podcast feed, and of course, some real content.

Update: The player below works so much better than my first attempt at clicking on a link. Has anyone else done this in blogger?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Daughter2.0 (What good are libraries?)

Was reading a post today by George Siemans at elearnspace regarding the future of libraries.

....this presentation doesn't say anything new for those familiar with the changes in technology and the context of knowledge. It does, however, present those changes from the perspective of libraries. In the process it provides some interesting statistics and observations (89% of college students begin their research with a search engine vs 2% in libraries,......


Thanks George...Interesting but not surprising.

Being a rather cool and damp Sunday afternoon here, I have my 10 yr old daughter beside me, spread out on the carpet, tapping away on our our old Toshiba laptop and buying some clothes for her penguin at clubpenguin.

"Hey Daughter!" I ask. "If you needed to know something that you didn't already know, where would you go to find out?"

Without pause or hesitation she turned her head and looked at me (one hand still on the keyboard) and replied "Google! Why?"

"Oh just interested" I answer."What is the library useful for?"

"What? The club penguin library?"

"No the town library."


"What do you use the library for in club penguin? "

"Well you can read other members' writing, and you can play mancala against other players."

So through the eyes of a ten yr old Aussie girl, our town library is irrelevant, yet an online multi player library contains stories, games and fellowship.

I'd imagine that the cleverer libraries in our culture would have to look at fostering a sense of online community as an addition to their local community if they were to survive.

On a side note: I read out to my wife the figures on how only 2% of college students use libraries to begin research. She had just interrupted her guitar rendition of Cavatina in order to make us all a pot of tea. (Don't you just love cool damp Sundays?)

Her response? "Do people still use libraries?"

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blogging with 6 and 7 year olds.

Rachel Boyd has an awesome presentation at teacher tube on blogging with young children.

Well done Rachel, it's inspirational.

Preparing the natives for The Age of Innovation. (The exaflood cometh)

Perhaps its just the way with innovators. What they seem to harp on about (try to communicate) doesn't make much sense to a critical mass until a few years down the track. By then, a few leaders have adopted the ideas, and begin to market the benefits to the broader community.

This speech by Bruce Mehlman (an innovator) from 2003, is 4 years old now.

Mehlman makes three points that resonate with my current situation.

First, we must recognize that technologies only benefit society when we use them wisely. Technology can enable us to improve our lives and make the world a safer, more abundant, and more equitable place. Or it can exacerbate problems. For example, encryption technologies that protect our privacy also conceal terrorist communications. The Internet lets children in Alaska visit the Smithsonian or take virtual courses at MIT, but it also gives them access to pornography, hate speech and instructions on building a pipe bomb. Digital literacy will never substitute for good parenting and effective teaching, and any effort to define and promote digital literacy must reinforce their unique and vital roles.

Second, we must remember that digital literacy is more than having Internet access and broader than technical proficiency. It's also about learning digital rights and wrongs. Respecting intellectual property rights, practicing security as second nature, and valuing others' privacy are all going to be critical to a functionally literate information society.

Last, we need to all remember the power of Metcalf's law. This principle states that the value of a network increases exponentially as more people connect. While there is zero value having the only telephone on Earth - after all there's no one to call - going from 100 to 1000 users increases the value of the network by more than a factor of 10. As we look to apply digital technologies to the challenges of the 21st century, we must join together with leaders around the world, so the rising tide of innovation can lift all boats. We will all be better off - as businesses, as nations and as citizens of the world - when 6 billion people are online, instead of the 655 million who have logged on so far.

So from my perspective, (as a classroom teacher in a part of the world that has only recently connected to affordable IT infrastructure), the speech (though four years old) is not only relevant but actually very applicable. The people I live with and work with are only now beginning to discover the power of the read/write web, and the network itself (connectivism).

With this in mind, take a look at what Mehlman is speaking about today. The exaflood!

Is your community ready?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Podcast Research - Help Required

This request from Jane

Hi all

I am currently undertaking research looking at the question: In what ways does podcasting enhance oral literacies?I have been gathering data in my own context but I would love to hear what other teachers have found when using podcasting in their classroom programme and add voices from further a field into my final write up.

I am intersted in authenticity: * Audience * Context * Purpose * Self confidence

If you could provide an example of your students demonstrating any of these things I would love to hear about it and incorporate it into my study. Please leave me a comment on my blog including the country that you are commenting from. Please could you include this request on your blogs with a link to this post, I would love to get as much information as possible. It will be great to have a piece of research that says - This is worthwhile doing, and this is why.


*** ICT U Can!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Time4 Online

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has a fantastic keynote presentation at the Time4 Online Conference. Its well worth checking out.

Thanks Sheryl, wonderful keynote. I get the feeling though that you are speaking to the converted.

We (your fellow conference participants) can master the stuff. We can join in online.

But it's many of our colleagues I'm concerned with. The reaction to a presentation like yours (in my experience) is that it divides the audience into those that "get it" and go off and bring their students into the global discussion, and those that find it "scary", which results in a fear of the changes, often leading to a withdrawal. (Machines are unplugged, networks are dismantled, students are disengaged).

It's less scary that way, and a sense of control can be regained.

This situation is sad. It's what I find really scary.

How can this reaction be overcome? At a class/school/region/state or national level?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Children, blogging and safety.

Karen Mann at Web2Wanderings has a post regarding issues of internet safety when it comes to young children. (Lets say K-6)

My understanding is that blogs can be moderated if set up that way and therefore before any item is published the teacher could have the final approval. I guess I will have to follow up on this under the NSW system. If you have come across similar restrictions, please let me know.

Its a tough one Karen. I have had a students' blog blocked by my organisation.
I complained, (well actually I requested an unblock), and I got a sympathetic hearing by a well informed senior administrator, (yes...they do exist), and the blog was unblocked very shortly afterwards.

I did have to make some modifications though.
  1. Parents need to be aware of their child's participation (publication).
  2. No child is to be identified. We limit names to first names only. Though it has been suggested that we may need to consider using only initials. (Overkill, or good sense?)
  3. All comments are to be moderated.
Pretty easy to do, and very sensible when you consider the unsettling implications of some alternate scenarios.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

ClustrMaps... (be careful)

Do you archive your ClustrMap(s) monthly, yearly, or even daily?

Alot of blogs you read these days have that wonderful little map in the sidebar that provides an interesting count of the visitors to your site. Its called a ClustrMap, and it's a great way to promote interest in a site.

We use a ClustrMap at Mullumwriters. When the children are published they go home and email a link to a relative or friend somewhere in the world, and then watch the ClustrMap update a day or two later. Its fun, interactive, engaging, and might even be "educational" (But I'd never tell them that.)

There are some things you'll need to watch though. Here at 21st Century Skills, I decided to set the map to archive every month. I had hoped to gather a monthly snapshot of the map and then turn it into a gif animation (or flash, or widget of choice), and watch the map slowly turn red.

Great idea huh? Well, yes and no!

Yes the map did archive, you can see the last month in the top right of this post. What I wasn't aware of though, was that once archived, the counter resets, and your map goes back to a blank slate (so to say). Here on the right is an image of my new map after 1 night.

What a suprise! I lost my running totals. My map is back to square one. Of course, I can always click through the map and look at the archive at anytime to reassure myself that "once upon a time" people read my blog, but it's kinda nice to see the map slowly turning red.

So here is the question.

Do I keep archiving each month and generate a nice morphing animation over the next few months, or do I wait until the forced reset that ClustrMaps impose each year?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pay Attention (Directors Cut)

Daren Draper informs us that June 7 is the worldwide release date for "Pay Attention 2.0".

Thanks Daren, I for one will eagerly await the release.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quentin D'Souza at Toondoo

Congratulations Quentin!

Not only do we have proof that administrators can blog, (if one can call Quentin an administrator), but now we know they can "toon" as well.

Quentin blogs at "teaching hacks". Always a good read.

Quentin D'Souza - Featured Dooer!

ToonPress - The Blog at ToonDoo - The Cartoon Strip Creator - Create, Publish, Share, Discuss!

My Toondoo won pick of the Day!

The toondoo I created to illustrate my "Sound Familiar" post has won the editors pick award at toondoo.

Imagine my suprise when I cleared my mailbox to find this:

Hi mark!


We're happy to! inform you that your ToonDoo Ban and Block culture made quite an impression on the editors at ToonDoo. Therefore, your creative expression has found a place as Featured ToonDoo of the Day!

Toondoo is a fantastic resource. Here is the toon again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Are Schools Losing the Game... (the power play).

How is your organisation dealing with web2.0?

Thanks to Scott Mcleod's halfbaked musings at dangerously irrelevant, I discovered this post from Wesley Fryer

Schools need to respond to the technological power play

The power play is a hockey term, I'm not sure what we would call it here downunder, but here is the part that stood out to me.
Helping teachers use technology effectively in the classroom means far more than simply providing a technician who can keep computers,
printers, networks, and content filters working appropriately.
Addressing instructional technology support needs also means:
  1. Having administrators who understand the importance of studentsusing technology to not only CONSUME content, but also appropriately PRODUCE and SHARE content on the global stage of the Internet in safe and constructive ways.
  2. Having administrators who expect and require teachers to REGULARLY ENGAGE students in Internet-based collaborative projects throughout the school year, not just at the end of the year when required assessment tests have been completed.
  3. Providing CERTIFIED TEACHERS to serve as mentors, coaches, demonstration teachers, and hand-holders to other teachers less saavy and with less initiative when it comes to instructional technologies.
We need more than technicians providing technical support in our schools, we need leaders and mentors, (and the budgets to fund them). These mentors need to come on top of adequate technical support. According to Wes Fryer again
- school tech support levels are 10% of industry standards (1 onsite tech for 50-70 machines, that is considered adequate in business, where needs tend to be less complex)
Are we wasting money providing more technology to schools, without giving technical support to that same technology, along with supporting the "upskilling" of teachers?

A final point. Wes, when speaking to teachers a a recent conference states:
I heard several teachers relate stories of “technology out of control” in their schools, where part-time teacher-aides (responsible for staffing school computer labs) were unable to prevent students from accessing pornography from school computers, bringing pornography and other objectionable images from home on USB flash drives, and printing many of those images on the school printers.
Probably a common scenario in many schools accross the globe. Another blog I read, Parallel Divergence, raised this issue last October in the post The trouble with web2.

We've all heard the hype on web2, how is your organisation dealing with it?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Don't School Directors Blog? part 2

A response by the School Director (superintendent) to Kim Moritz's challenge.
Quite sensible and eloquent really.

Superintendent Rinaldi gives many reasons for not entering the blogosphere. But what of the principals that wont (refuse to) even use email?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why Don't School Directors Blog?

Here is a great story.

Kimberly Moritz challenged her superintendent to start a blog

How many of our decision makers leave it up to others to try and explain their decision? Wouldn’t it be great if they could blog it themselves. The community would have one version of a story and minimize confusion. It might even eliminate the gossip.

How many of your/our regional directors have a blog?

What about the principals out there?

Do you see a need or necessity? Is blogging still confined to the domain of innovators and early adopters? (aka classroom teachers).

It seems that so many of our communication channels are still firmly pre web, (what's web2.0?). How is that to change?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Teaching in Todays Classroom

Greg Whitby will be presenting at the New South Wales Computer Education Group (NSWCEG) at Newcastle on Monday 2nd of July.

In this video he talks about "today's school" rather than the 21st century school. The primary aim of todays school is to aid learning outcomes.
This happens through a process or concept of learning anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
This can only occur when staff are liberated from current working conditions. Conditions which Greg says "enslave" and "de-skill" teachers.

Would be interesting to hear a Teacher's Federation response to this.

Learning outcomes versus working conditions for teachers. Makes for a lively discussion.
Greg has an excellent presentation here. Its a pdf file in the form of some slides.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Does Technology make a good teacher?

I've been thinking about Scott Mcleods question, (previous post) and have discussed this with some colleagues.

Warren has been supporting educators in their use and implementation of ICT for more years than I can remember. His site WAZMAC is well worth checking out.

Let me quote Warren.

I have always found it effective to consider the "adopt and adapt" approach to professional learning. I find that when we are able to *adopt* technology for our personal needs, we very quickly *adapt* the technology for use in other areas of our life - eg the classroom.

The key here I believe, is personal needs. When we find some personal value in the technology we begin to capitalize on that value by implementing it in new ways. Sometimes this is seen as innovation. If one is working in a stale 20th century environment, anything "new" may be seen as innovation. Yet that same innovation may be seen as old hat at another school.

Digital cameras are probably the most common example, but more recently blogs etc are coming into the mainstream "adopt and adapt" realm.

Add to this list the use of mobile(cell)phones in the classroom, along with Interactive WhiteBoards. IWB's (See Here for a discussion on pro's and cons of IWB's)

We just need to make sure that our school systems can adequately support and encourage teachers who have adopted new technologies at home and are ready to adapt them for use at school.

Too often I hear administrators criticising teachers for not embracing change, when it is more often the administrators who are not creating a climate that encourages the desired changes. Or more often apply limits to teachers' creativity in how they interpret "change".

Innovation is often stifled so that administrative boxes can be ticked.

Change is very much a two-way street. And there are always risks.

Do we need more risk takers in our education departments? Risk taking is fine when it all works out, but failure is par for the course. How many times can one fail before it adversely effects the students? Do we hold the line and let others innovate first? Who wants to go first? At what cost?

Warren goes on to say:

Give people the tools and let them explore, learn, and adapt them in new and innovative ways.

All very good. A sensible idea, and no doubt one that works, generally. However, in a later discussion Warren outlines exceptions. There are always exceptions aren't there?
"A close friend is a teacher, and also runs a small hobby business over the internet, outside of school."

"He has adopted the technology at home, but doesn't necessarily "use technology" widely in his classroom (this is partly due to the allocation of equipment at the school). His classroom, is what I would consider to be a more "traditional" classroom."

My youngest daughter, who is pretty technology-savvy, was in Fred's class in Year 6 (3 years ago). Barely touched a computer all year - but had one of her most enjoyable and productive years at the school. Did everything the "old way" - spelling drills, mentals, etc, etc. She especially learned to enjoy reading books. And the whole class came to enjoy Fred's wicked sense of humour.

The focus in Fred's class was *learning*. And my daughter enjoyed learning.

Kinda defeats the "must have technology" argument though! But worth considering if we step back from the trees to get a clear view of the forest.

The bottom line is that a good teacher will create a wonderful learning environment regardless of the tools that they have. I guess we just assume that the technology thing make the tools better. But it may not be so. Maybe even the opposite in the hands of a reluctant practitioner.

Great ideas Warren. A great teacher teaches, no matter what the tools at his/her disposal. Is the money that is currently being spent on technology in schools being wasted if teachers are not teaching? IWB's in every room?

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Key Question

Rather provocative Scott.

Dangerously Irrelevant: Another key question

If individuals at home can see the transformative effects of digital technologies, and corporations can see the transformative effects of digital technologies, why can’t schools? Are they just incompetent, dunder-headed organizations compared to other institutions or is something else going on? In other words, why WOULDN’T schools see the same transformative effects of technology that we’re seeing in most other sectors of society?

Friday, May 11, 2007

For and against IWB's

Sure to be a passionate discussion starter:
From Tony Richards

Learning - Thinking - Playing

All this has got me thinking. I am going to start a little ongoing post of the "for" arguments and the "against" arguments, in line with this I am going to also list alternatives as many schools do not give any thought to the possible alternatives.

I welcome any comments - suggestions - arguments and ideas:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

A remarkable concept! More here
I found it on George Siemans' blog, but references are popping up everywhere.

Many of you may have to watch this from outside of your corporate network because its hosted on youtube.

As an aside, I saved a neat video from youtube the other day and went to upload it to teacher tube, but then read the terms and conditions of teachertube. No advertising. A shame really (though understandable) because a lot of really creative and pertinent work is in the form of corporate advertising.

Has anyone found a workaround?

What makes administrators effective technology leaders?

Interesting post and discussion starter on dangerously irrelevant.

Can a techie be an educator? Can an educator be a techie? Some interesting points made on Georges blog. My opinion is that the rare beast (geek/network guy/educator) is indeed doing the rounds, (look at the edubloggers) but is generally a rare and endangered species.

The best outcomes that I've seen occuring in schools come from a genuine collaboration between educators and tech support. Genuine collaboration arises when both parties see the others point of view and are able to work towards a common aim.

So what are the aims of schooling?

The network guy will tell you that a school's aim is to provide reliable IT infrastructure. The educator will tell you that its' aim is to create self realizing adults able to make valued contributions to the global community. The administrator will feel that a dynamic and responsive structure will serve the staff and school community best. (My ideas, you could add many more).

It's only when the educator can see the network guy's point of view (and vice versa) that things can (and do) move ahead.

The alternative is the "digital taliban" scenario I outlined in a previous post.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Toys before Tools.

This thought comes from a great post at

Kids exchanging videos are the proverbial tip of the ice berg. As longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer pointed out more than fifty years ago – when he was mulling over the fact that the wheel was a toy before it was a tool – serious work has its origins in play. And almost alone in the animal kingdom, humans retain the capacity for play well into adulthood.
The concept that Serious work has its origins in play, is new to me, and is one that I'd like to explore further.

The youth today using (playing) with myspace, runescape, second life and clubpenguin are forging new ways of seeing, thinking, doing, solving, relating and creating.

In the words of Flintoff, rip mix burn has become grip fix turn!
From What is teacher 2.0 again
What is true of Web 2.0 will be true of Teacher 2.0 – dynamic, outward facing, community building, radically democratic, initiatory, active and interventionist; how the Web is changing is how teaching will change.

How does your classroom measure up today? Is it outward facing, community building, initiatory etc? What can a classroom teacher do today to ensure that it becomes so?
Heres a toon that sums it up.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sound Familiar?

I do understand the arguments for child safety, duty of care, and such, but when schools/teachers are having success with an innovative program, and the child safety issues are covered as much as possible, then why continue with the ban and block culture?

I am pleased to say that in NSW schools, projects are considered on their merits, and are unblocked,trialled and monitored. This is a good start. Conditions apply, but those conditions are usually insignificant when compared with the alternative...the loss of the project completely.

How does your school deal with the issue of blocking harmful sites?

Here is a take on the situation from Dangerously Irrelevant.
Dangerously Irrelevant: Principal blogging not allowed

This tale’s been told before. Technology coordinators who are more concerned with disabling than enabling. Technology personnel that we would hope would be progressive, forward thinkers regarding digital technologies but instead are regressive gatekeepers. Teachers and administrators that try to move into the 21st century but run into the brick wall of supervisors or support personnel. Superintendents that allow such situations to occur rather than insisting that their district figure out how to make it work (like other districts have). Educators that fail to understand that the world around them has changed and that their relevance to that world is diminishing daily.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Many Eyes

Below is a tag cloud of the recent speech Australia Rising, by Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The cloud was created by a neat little program called "many eyes" which is a data manipulation/representation program. Well worth checking it. What a great way to compare the main ideas of 2 separate pieces of writing. It's searchable as well.

I discovered this wonderful tool on George Siemens' Connectivism blog

Grunt Cognition

"Functional visualizations are more than innovative statistical analyses and computational algorithms. They must make sense to the user and require a visual language system that uses colour, shape, line, hierarchy and composition to communicate clearly and appropriately, much like the alphabetic and character-based languages used worldwide between humans." Matt Woolman

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comment on Australia Rising

As an educator I am somewhat shocked by Mr Howard's speech.

Its hard for many to see past the party political rhetoric of an election year campaign speech. However Mr Howard's speech struck a chord with me. Perhaps that ought to be "discord".

You see, out of all the 21st century skills, flat world, what if, shake it up, type presentations that I have been referring to in my previous posts, (presentations which in my opinion inspire and motivate many educators), it took Mr Howard to link 2020 to the ongoing global war on terror. (In my mind at least).

Mr Howard's choice of words is very telling. When describing australia in 2020 he uses, Struggle, terrorism, fight, war, enemy, battle, defence force, combat, heavy burden.

Have the educators got it wrong? Or is it the politicians that refuse to shift from 20th century "world is round" thinking? What kind of world are we creating? Do we tell the class of 2020 (todays kindergarten), that our leaders are planning to continue the war? That the world they graduate into will be a burden and a struggle, or ought we be trying to inspire them with some other, more hopeful vision?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Howard outlines vision for 2020

Howard outlines vision for 2020

Full text here

I want to begin by sketching the sort of world Australians are likely to be living in a decade from now; for argument’s sake let’s say by 2020, when most of today’s children will be young adults.

Liberal democracies will flourish, yet their purpose, patience and resolve will continue to be tested. For a country like Australia, there’ll be no holiday from history or from the long struggle against terrorism.

This fight is a different type of war against a different type of enemy. Our interests and ideals demand we stay engaged in the world and in the global battle of ideas.

Australia’s defence forces must be combat ready and well-resourced and our alliances close and strong in 2020.

We will continue to carry a heavy burden for order and stability in this part of the world. One of the most far-reaching national security decisions this Government has taken was to end a posture of benign neglect in the Pacific. There will be no going back from that commitment.

In 2020, policy makers will still be grappling with the great disjunction of our age – between a globalised economic order and a fragmented political one. Australia has a profound interest in a stable, cooperative and market-oriented global system underpinned by stable, cooperative and market-oriented nation states.

No-one should pretend the nation state is going anywhere. People will continue to express their demands for security, economic wellbeing and identity primarily through national politics. And the duty of political leaders will still be protecting and advancing the national interest.

It will be a world where economic and geopolitical power is more evenly distributed; more so perhaps than any time since America’s rise in the late 19th Century.

The human face of globalisation in 2020 will be increasingly Asian and middle class – as our region becomes the epicentre of history’s first truly global middle class.

It will be a world of intense competition for markets and for global talent. Australia must work hard to earn our place in a fiercely competitive global economy. We must ensure Australia retains and attracts our share of the best and brightest – the researchers, scientists, innovators and risk takers who’ll generate the ideas for a rising Australia.

Australia’s workforce will continue to face challenges from demographic change, from technological change and from globalisation. The Treasurer’s Intergenerational Report earlier this month showed that we have made progress in meeting the challenge of an ageing society.

Many families are confronting these pressures directly with the rise, for example, of the so-called sandwich generation. More and more baby boomer women in particular carry heavy responsibilities around caring for ageing parents and for children still at home, while also holding down a job in the paid workforce.

All this points to the need for governments to become even more nimble and responsive to individual needs in the next decade. The old rigid welfare state models have become increasingly obsolete.