Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Teacher Free Zone

This morning at St Joseph's the children from Room 5 worked with the Room 2 children to tutor them in using 2Create a Story. It really was a teacher free zone as the children worked together to explore the features of the software & create their stories. The Room 2 kids will now go on to work independently using the laptops during their writing time. Perhaps a little teacher intervention to make sure their work is saved & as they all save to the same place not to overwrite each others work.
Diane the teachers' aide was so amazed at the engagement of the students particularly the ones she always thinks of as a 'handful'. I think apart from the fact they find the technology so engaging, these kids were really hooked in because they were the ones in the drivers seat in control of their own creativity & learning.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Digital Photography 4 Beginners

I workshopped with St Joseph's teachers after school to look at the basics of using their digital cameras.
We explored the different features and settings on their cameras and worked out how to download pictures to their laptops. We got as far as resizing images and then it was too much for one session. Time to stop & book another workshop for Part 2. To provide a reference for what they had learnt i whipped together a tutorial & notes for them to go back to. I wrote up step by step notes with screen shots but find that making a short video of the procedure is so much easier & less time consuming.
We used the Microsoft Power Toy Image Resizer

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Wine Not Network @ Eltham Primary School

Another great Wine Not Network was held at Eltham Primary School. It was great to see so many teachers from the old Bard Wired ICTPD cluster attending :-)
It was great to visit Eltham Primary School as i haven't been there all year! The school is looking fantastic with all its renovations completed.
Schools shared examples of what was happening back in their own classrooms and the topics ranged: photography, interact LMS, smarnet servers, IWB, skype, blogs and feedback from the ULearn attendees.
I discovered a number of new blogs that have popped up amongst our schools (largely due to the ULearn influence). Check them out and leave some encouraging comments:
There was some discussion that ensued after this meeting about internet safety and appropriate use with blogging in the classroom. Rather than join this discussion (again as i know it comes up every time a new school blog is born) I directed those schools to previous discussions and links.

(Paul demonstrates how he uses Interwrite software and tablet)

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

E-Learning Options

I had a busy day attending Options meetings with senior students and their families at Waitara this afternoon and then again at Opunake.
Two quite different formats. Waitara was set up like a 'trade fair' with subject areas set up around the hall for people to visit and discuss what was on offer. There was a good turn out and I had lots of interesting conversations with students and their parents who wanted to know more about elearning opportunities.
Opunake was more of a presentation from the front style with time for families to discuss further afterwards. Though you did manage to say things only once instead over and over again to different people, I think I didn't have the depth of conversation and inquiry as earlier.
I had some interesting requests for options that I had to go back and find out about: Drama, Business Studies, Computer Programming and even Religious Education.

I think we are getting to a point in the VC network that schools are beginning to look at the VLN as a supermarket of option choices. They are looking for just the right 'off the shelf' course to enrol in. In some ways it is good that there are so many choices out there (though enrolment restrictions can mean you can't always get in or have to wait to hear if you can enrol). But I also think that schools and clusters need to collaborate in more constructive ways to provide tailored learning for our students. The difficulty in this I guess is coordinating student need, teacher availability & schools resourcing to fulfill this beyond what they are already contributing.

It was good to hear directly from students about what they were interested in and helping them look for pathways to lead them there. It was a good opportunity to promote VC elearning as something quite different from what many parents & some students saw as 'Correspondence'. As a result I am looking at setting up some opportunities for students & parents to observe a VC lesson first hand by hooking into a VC lesson in progress.
(Ceri - eTeacher - Art History)

Monday, 15 October 2007

NIE Quiz Practise

St Joseph's students are practicing for the Newspapers in Education (NIE) Quiz this week. These links are made for them to sharpen up their current events knowledge & see if they have been reading the paper & watching the news on TV :-)

National News

International News



We will also be looking at and discussing cartoons and finding where in the world our headline news is coming from.

More practice quizzes can be found on the NIE site.

Say Ahhhhh! Life after Interact?

Yr 3 & 4 kids at SPS were exploring using the cameras today in preparation for their big day out at Puke Ariki tomorrow.

Jane has created a really useful resource for teachers starting out with photography in the classroom it can be downloaded through the Tai o Rupawai cluster area on Interact.

Of note for users of Interact & there are heaps of us that do (especially for the hosting of ICTPD cluster resources) is that Interact is on the way out. Not tomorrow but in the foreseeable future. I only heard about this by accident as a kind person emailed me the details. I host two sites on Interact. One is a repository of shared resources that were developed during our time as the Bard Wired cluster. The other is our TaraNet ECampus site that i was hoping that in the years to come would develop into a vibrant and busy place to support the elearning needs of our secondary school distance learning students. So now to cast an eye across the alternatives - most likely to be Moodle. Time to start playing :-)

Here is the full information for those who don't already know. Contact Glen if you have any questions.

"DearInteract User
Some months ago we informed you that the future of Interact developmentat the University of Canterbury was being reviewed. This process has taken longer than expected but we have now made some firm decisions and are in a position to communicate these to you.
Approvalwas recently given for a project to review the University's LearningManagement Systems with a view to moving to a single system by 2010. This review will consist of an evaluation of a short-list of opensource systems in comparison to Blackboard. It was decided that Interact will not be on the short-list of evaluated systems. This was not an easy decision to make as we believe that Interact is a good product that is meeting the needs of a wide range of users both within and without the University. The following reasons were the basis for this decision:
* For whatever reason the open source release of Interact has not generated a development community. There are a wide range of users of the system, but none of these are contributing development back to the project(perhaps it is because the system is so good they don't need to do any additional development!). This means that the University is 100%responsible for ongoing development, with associated costs and risks.To realistically keep pace with developments in this fast changing area would require at least 2-3 full time programmers, which means that it ceases to be a cost effective solution.

* As mentioned in our previous communication, the other major open sourceplayer in the New Zealand education market, Moodle, has had millions of dollars poured into its development, as well as a worldwide network of voluntary developers contributing back to the project. We don't believe it is viable to compete against that in a market as small as the New Zealand compulsory education sector.
This means that the University will only be supporting Interact for the next two years, until December 2009. We will continue to provide hosting and technical support for this period but there will only be limited development work done, mainly bug fixes, etc. During this time we will be working on migration strategies for moving our own dataout of Interact, which will hopefully provide other users with migration options also if they need them.

Interact is Open Source, so you own all of the source code as well as the data. This means that you are free to keep using Interact on your own or other hosted servers for as long as you wish, so this announcement doesn't require any immediate action on your part. We would however recommend that you review your LMS requirements some time in 2008 so you are in a position to make a decision about your future direction some time before the end of 2009.

It has been a pleasure working with you and we regret any inconveniencethat this move may cause, but given the circumstances we believeit is the best decision for all parties involved. Please feel free to email me at glen.davies@canterbury.ac.nz if you have any questionsabout the above, or wish to discuss this further."

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Networking with Delicious

Rachel did a fantastic job in introducing a group of classroom teachers to social bookmarking with Delicious. Within an hour she had everyone in the room signed up with their own class accounts, bookmarklets on their browsers and all networked together - Wahoo! Getting people started in a practical sense makes all the difference and she really sold us on the power & potential of using social bookmarking. No Digital Holidaymakers in this room.... :-)

ULearn 07 - Standing Room Only

A tight squeeze @ ULearn this morning for the opening keynote with Ewan McIntosh. You have to be careful where you lean on the wall as you could possibly be leaning on the light switches! ;-)

I liked the way Ewan talked about identity and what is public & private online. Who are we and what are we doing here???? It reminded me of Derek's discussion of Boundary Workers - yep that must be me... Someone doing lots of different things, with lots of different people - just on the boundaries of the mainstream and much of it in an online environment. Definately not a 9 to 5 workday - and often not even feeling like work at all. Must be why i love my Boundary Work so much :-)

Ewan also outlined a framework for Web 2.0 which i found quite interesting as this is where i do a lot of my work & play inside these different spaces.
He defined these spaces as:

  • Secret (IM)
  • Group (Bebo)
  • Publishing (Blogs)
  • Performing (Second Life)
  • Participation (Time4Online)
  • Watching (YouTube)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Rugby World Cup 2007

Loads of our classes are following the Rugby World Cup 2007. Some are doing it as a full topic study. Others are just checking in & following progress. All around the schools their is a brisk trade in Weetbix Players Cards ;-)

Today i had worked with Vicky & Linda @ St Joseph's and developed a basic SmartBoard file for them to use as they followed the Rugby World Cup. The cool thing is you can add to it change it as you work together with the kids (capturing is the great tool here) & then look back at the work you have done from beginning to end. You can download the SMART notebook file here. But for the rest of us who don't have the board here are the cool links that were part of this file:

iGoogle has some great tabs for the World Cup they can be found here. There are tabs that give you live feeds, an updated results tab & a place where you can cheer your team on, as well as a google maps tab. This has led me into further exploration of iGoogle as a homepage - now just need to work out how to put my own stuff there & not just all their content.

You can download the Google Earth file to view all the World Cup teams base camps, training grounds & stadiums.

And see all the latest World Cup Rugby 2007 photos from Flickr.Visit Ruggerland - you do need to log in but its an easy process to register. Lots of games, activities & teacher resources.

Or there's the official rugby cup site which for the younger ones is pretty confusing to navigate round.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Making Movies @ Pitt

Today the kids took all their pictures for their Dinosaur movie. They had previously storyboarded, with a narrated script - so they had to time their narration & work out how many pics they needed for each scene, and the set had been created with painted backdrop & foreground as well as rocks & 'trees' for scenery. They began using the webcam to take the wide angle shots of the whole set. The computer was attached to the smartboard so it could be all operated from the board without bumping the camera & we could preview our shots easily on the big screen.
They did really well to work together as a whole group for most of the day, taking turns on the camera & moving the dinosaur characters (& sometimes the scenery too ;-) without any major scraps.My last day at school here today - i was meant to fly back to NZ today but the sea was to rough to get off the island & back to Chathams for the plane so I've got a couple more days to enjoy the weekend here. I have had a fantastic time here & am really going to miss it. Awesome place, awesome people :-)

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Panoramic Pitt

The views are so awesome here, a single photo (or any photo for that matter doesn't give them justice) I have been using Panorama Composer to create these Panorama's. You can export them as either a jpeg, an exe file or a complete webpage with a choice of viewers (i used Flash). Of course using a tripod would have helped line up these pics a lot better than they are. The link below each picture goes to the webpage where you can move around the photo, zooming in or out as you go :-)

Looking across Pitt Island from one coast to the other (Rangatira Island) in the distance.
Click here for Panorama webpage

Waipaua Beach (Hakepa Maunga to the left)
Click here for Panorama webpage

Waihere Beach & Mangere Island
Click here for Panorama Webpage

Home Schooling

All the kids came up to the house for school on Tuesday. The generator was being fixed so no power, no heating & it was freezing at school.

Silent Reading @ the kitchen table

Sorting dinosaurs to cast the characters in their Dinosaur Movie

Shrewsberry biscuit maths

I have been trying to set up the Polycom desktop software on a computer at school so we could join the Kids Conference this week. I had booked us in for a Dance workshop. We got as far as accessing the Virtual Learning Network bridge but found we had no sound! Aaaah - an afternoon of troubleshooting still did not fix it so try again tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Animations Fun @ Pitt

The Pitt Island kids created their first animations today. They have gone through a process of storyboarding, then created props & scenery to tell their stories. They are practicing for making their Dinosaur movies next week. Lots of fun :-)

Plantet Earth from rachelj and Vimeo.

Boom!! from rachelj and Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Classrooms' Connecting

Last week Room 5 children from St Joseph's school, Stratford had their first conversation with the Pitt Island children with Skype & the WebCam. Both classes are using SmartBoards so they got to see each other on the big screen. The quality of transmission during the skype call was good but it was a hit & miss affair to hook up as we kept getting a 'No Proxies' error. Sometimes Skype will deliver your chat messages ages after sending them & show someone as being offline even when they're not. So the key to classroom success for us is to be flexible with your timetabling, send a chat & finally when it comes through, drop everything else you're doing and dial in right away. Children at St Joseph's had prepared a presentation "Our Place" for me to bring to Pitt.

This week we skyped back from Pitt. Our kids had seen the St Joseph's presentation so had a few questions to ask. They have been working on more questions over the last couple of days and are looking forward to seeing Room 5 pop up again soon on the Skype network for another chat. Next week they will be making their "Our Place" presentation for me to take back to NZ with me & share with Room 5

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

TaraNet still Trucking On

TaraNet Principals and Lead Teachers met today and were joined by CAM VCing in from Buller High School. We had a bit of a hiccup to start with as we soon found that we were trying to run 7 sites off a 6 lane bridge. Oops sorry about that CAM & sorry too to the school i had to kick off the bridge & out of the meeting.
It was great to see all Principals & their teams at the meeting, continuing to show their support. A positive thing that these rural secondary schools, though we struggle with resourcing, are still working together to extend the opportunities for all our students through VC distance learning. It looks like the cavalry (MOE) may be rallying to support us and other elearning clusters as we grapple with issues around sustainability of our schools' cluster. Will find out more in due course.
Some of the issues are outlined in my report "Video Conferencing in Distance Learning: A New Zealand Schools' Perspective." (This is the report from my slideshow earlier in the week. Quicker to read & easier to follow, i think?)
If you are a Principal in a school which is part of a VC learning community (& there are 15 VC clusters actively running in New Zealand at the moment), and you are new to the whole idea of schools collaborating in this way, we have a number of new Principals in our cluster; then i recommend you read my report and some of the other readings linked here. One of the key success factors for cluster sustainability is leadership, shared vision and commitment from Principals.

VEN Report on ELearning Communities. Report to the MOE commissioned by the Virtual Education Network. Outlines the benefits, lists risk factors, highlights key elements of successful eLearning Communities. Raises issues of governance of the national network, need for MOE support for funding and staffing of eLearning communities.

Learning Communities Online: A support handbook for cluster schools.
Guidelines for schools developing or joining online learning communities. Provides a summary of the changing face of online learning for schools & overview of an elearning environment “The Barrel”. This is a draft document under consultation through the VLN website.

OtagoNet Leading the Way: OtagoNet Project Summary, April 2006. History of the OtagoNet eLearning cluster, outcomes for its stakeholders, funding issues.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

8 Random Facts

I've been tagged by Sheryl :-)

First, the Rules:

  • Post these rules before you give your facts
  • List 8 random facts about yourself
  • At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  • Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

8 Facts About Me:
  1. My favourite whiskey is Jamesons Irish whiskey
  2. I got kicked out of school when i was 14 (they let me back again)
  3. My first job when i left school was a rousy in a shearing gang
  4. I am a 1st generation NZer
  5. This Friday i fly out to Pitt Island for a couple of weeks
  6. My favourite flowers are daffodils because it means winter is nearly over
  7. I coach my two sons' High School A Basketball team. I also coach my daughter's basketball team
  8. My ambition is to win Lotto & make a career out of playing with all the cool tools i find on the Internet. (I have to win Lotto for that as noones going to pay me to do that!)
I tag:
Artichoke (this is the reason you are first on my list :-)
Tom (ha got you again)

Keeping the Faith

Only in a Catholic School.
Looking for divine intervention, these students thought prayer would help when their laptop went into hibernation & they didn't know if they had saved their work!

When the laptop shut itself down these two little girls looked at each other and said "We need prayer!"
They stayed on their knees until the laptop powered up & I found their work.

I have been known to give the same advice with some technical problems that get thrown my way :-)

Monday, 6 August 2007

Videoconferencing in Distance Learning: A NZ Schools' Perspective

Here is my first offering from the paper i am currently studying. I wouldn't say it's my best work - though neither does it bark like a dog (a kiwism there ;-) But pressed for time with work commitments pulling me in all directions, 3 neglected children & some leave coming up at the end of the week i feel that this presentation has been a bit of a slap-up. I wanted to share it in this public forum, this was one of the motivators that have kept me slogging away this weekend, and also because it's an area that has interested me for some time & that i have been more closely involved with in the last couple of years. To be sure i've got my facts right, and for further perspectives or insights - I would love some peer review so please comment:-)
(A written rendition of this will appear during the week sometime which will take less time to take in than this presentation & be fully referenced)

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Telecom Trembling??

Create custom animated gifs at gifninja.com!
Is Telecom shaking in it's boots today to hear that 83% of schools surveyed by the NZPF are planning to look for another Internet provider in dismayed reaction to Telecom axing the Schools Connection Points scheme?
Somehow i think Telecom may just be laughing up their sleeves that they have managed to capture so many of our schools in the SchoolZone net before taking away their much needed support for ICT in schools. Is it a knee jerk reaction for Principals to say we will just go to another provider?
Think it through - it is not just a connection to the Internet that Telecom SZ provides - its a whole managed Internet package. Think about the transition you went through when you changed to SZ - a new way of doing email, learning to use the MyDesktop, uploading users (rolling over the year groups every year), checking up on user internet use, filtering & blocking sites (unfiltering & unblocking sites), many have added on MyClasses - with whole courses being uploaded & accessed through Telecom SchoolZone. The list goes on: internal proxy servers taken out to be served offsite, school websites hosted on SZ servers, personal files of 1000s of NZ students & teachers stored in SZ Personal files boxes. (Hours and hours of staff training nationally - Phew!!) So just switch providers? What A Mission! For my TaraNet schools there is no other providers - Telecom is the only provider locally we can use for Videoconferencing into the VPN. (If you think TaraNet can do this differently please let me know)
When SZ first appeared around 2002/2003 for many of our schools it was like pennies from heaven - a whole integrated, easy to use tool for managing the wild beast the internet had become in our schools (secondary schools in particular). Of course it was great to have Broadband too - SZ & broadband at that time went hand in hand. I have long been a SZ champion but in the last year have been feeling a bit unsettled about having all our eggs in the Telecom basket. Other providers have stepped up with lower prices & better speeds, SZ has had hiccups with its new filtering system & some recent issues with email.
So where to next for schools - what are the options beyond SZ? What support will be needed to change - a truckload for sure. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Blog Bling with Bruce

I spent a pleasant morning with Bruce today (here discussing Quality Learning in NZ schools from Policy to Classroom Practise & everything in between). It is always good to talk to Bruce & share his perspectives on education. Visit his blog Leading and Learning and join in the conversations there.
The main focus of today was to help Bruce revamp his blogspot with categories so that he could more easily sort & find his articles (over 550 posts now!). With not a lot of bling in his sidebar we decided to update to the new blogger template a simple way to add page elements to your blog without playing with the html in the template. I love the way the new template tidies up the archives with drop down options on the months (& years) so you don't have archives listed a mile long.
It inspired me to think about tidying up my own blogspot. I looked at it when the new template changes came in awhile ago but was worried about losing all my bling on the side. So i have played with it a bit more and found it won't be a problem in the sidebar I can reinstate all my bling easily but i'm going to lose my signature flickr pics in my header. Hmmm some techie problem solving to do here - maybe another day.
Oooops maybe not - gone & done it now - think i will keep it as it looks so much tidier!

Digital Portfolios EFellows Research

In my Digital Portfolios searching yesterday i found Kerry Hall a 2006 EFellow
Here is the focus of her research:"My research will investigate what happens when learners are given the opportunity to be creative and take ownership of their learning and assessment through the use of e-portfolios. What does their learning look like and how does the use of e-portfolios engage this particular group of learners in deeper and more meaningful ways? With the child in the middle of the heterachy (Atkin, 2004) model how do the teacher, learner and community role change? And to what extent does this paradigm shift impact on the engagement, creativity and motivation of this group of learners?"
Thanks Kerry for sharing your research with you - you can download her full research report here.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Digital Portfolios

Today i sent a message to the listserv asking about Digital Portfolios. I had a great response thanks to all those who responded in emails to me. I am investigating where NZ primary schools are at with their use of Digital Portfolios. How they are organised in their schools, what philosophies do they have surrounding their use, what are they focussing on - year level, assessment focus and what are their reflections on the benefits of Digital Portfolios. I also want to know what tools they are using to support this. The links i have been following up are posted to my Delicious http://del.icio.us/rachelj/eportfolios Some interesting ones there I like the use of Comic Life by North Loburn school. Thanks also Iain i found your Digital Portfolio cluster resources on Interact after receiving your email.

Also of interest was this response from Mark:
"As some of you may be aware there is a trial dealing with the interoperability between SMS’s (MUSAC) and OLE’s (KnowledgeNET) taking place at the moment but the other aspect of this trial is the development of e-portfolios. We carried out an unofficial trial of these 2 years ago within the KnowledgeNET environment and was extremely encouraged at the results and the many learning lessons that resulted from this. The three schools who are trialing e-portfolios officially are Red Beach Primary, Northcross Intermediate and Takapuna Grammar. They have just begun the trial process so they will not have a lot of “results” yet. I am willing to send through the chapter on e-portfolios from the upcoming book to anyone who would like a copy. The chapter is unedited so bear with any sequencing/grammar/spelling issues (US spelling has been used). The remaining 39 chapters are on their way to the editors now and the book (Whatever!: The Conceptual Age and the Evolution of School V2.0) will be available for purchase in late September and the download option in late August. You can e-mail request for the chapter to mark@work.co.nz."

I definitely recommend you subscribe to the CompEd listserv and keep up-to-date with whats happening in ICT in NZ Schools this is how:
Send email to nzcomped@massey.ac.nz with the following command in the body of your email message:
subscribe nzcomped
(make sure that there is nothing else in your email - signatures etc)

Lease or Purchase???

I was responding in an email to Tom & thought these notes were worth sharing on the blog. Your comments, recommendations, links?

Lease/purchase - the MOE line is usually lease & someone you should talk to is Jonathan Beveridge - exMOE but currently working for Equico. He is their educational consultant. He is really good at talking this through and can work with you (for free) to develop your long term planning for infrastructure management. Jonathan will be in Taranaki next week I encourage you to invite him to your school to critique & give advice on your ICT Management Plan - if you haven't got one - well you really need Jonathan to come to your school!!!

Having said that it also depends on your funding. Many of our schools find themselves with a sum of money to spend on IT that has come from a grant & they spend it on hardware. One of my schools bought a pod of laptops - I investigated this for them & looked @ the lease/purchase question but because they had the sum of money now & didn't know what funding they would have at the end of a lease term (usually 3 years) they decided to purchase instead.

Leasing means that you should have a steady budget for your ICT needs but it is the most sensible option to have a long term plan of hardware maintenance & upgrade.

Here's some useful info about leasing vs purchasing.

Even though Jonathan works for a leasing company you don't necessarily have to go with Equico to provide your equipment - same as if you were purchasing - investigate all the options.

Others who do lease agreements could be your local IT provider - we use Gen-I, EdTech supports the HP Desktops for schools, locally also there is AllLeasing

Monday, 30 July 2007

LMS Decisions? Wait Just Another Minute!

I have been working with one of my schools as they investigate Learning Management Systems (LMS). It's something their teachers have been asking for (Yahoo! - quick strike while the iron's hot!) but it seems these are unsettled times in the area of LMS in NZ so we should just taihoa for just a bit longer and see what develops.
One reason is the work going into developing interoperability between SMS & LMS. This is currently being trialled & the MOE will be taking Road Shows around the country to inform and advise schools on their LMS decisions. Read more about it here.
Another reason is the review around the continued support of Interact which is used to support many of our learning communities - TaraNet & BardWired are both hosted inside Interact as well as the ICTPD network. Glen has set up a site to explore LMS directions.
Add to this new LMS appearing on the scene every time you turn around - for example Scholaris supported by NewEraIT turned up for the 1st time on my radar screen today.
The MOE released guidelines earlier in the year for choosing MOLEs (managed online learning environment :-) These are helpful for looking at what questions you should ask your LMS vendor & trying to match up your schools needs to an appropriate LMS but they are not as conclusive as the SMS guidelines that provides accreditation of products against the guidelines
There are so many things to consider - for example Scholaris & Mindspring are both based on a school being an existing user of Microsoft Office Software - which might be fine right now. But what about when the Microsoft Schools Software Agreement comes up for renewal in another 3 years - (buzz is it might not be renewed) - where will that leave schools who have a LMS based on Microsoft?
So many variables, so many things to consider, so confusing - even for me & I have spent the last 4 years investigating various LMS. Its so much like dancing on the shifting carpet right now with LMS. I just hope that when schools do make their decisions that the carpet doesn't get pulled away from underneath.
The advice i am giving my school? Narrow your choices down to 3 or 4 LMS, get demo sites up & going so you can have a play, and wait for further information from the MOE roadshow before committing. After that just go hard out with your choice & have lots of support for your staff as they develop in their use of your LMS because at the end of the day it won't be the system you choose thats the most important thing but the people who are using your system.
My LMS Delicious Links.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

If I Knew Then What I Know Now....

I wouldn't have spent all day searching through the Massey Database I would have gone straight here first! It took me awhile to refine my search techniques - I had Eric open in one window, Massey Library in the other so i could go straight to the relevant journals & EndNote open to reference as I went. Choice of keywords was important too & really a guessing game to find the most relevant articles. My current research foucus is Videoconferencing (a brief history of, & contributions to distance education). It took me awhile (& a number of borderline articles accessed, downloaded & referenced) to find that the key word that hit the jackpot was teleconferencing. So whats the difference between teleconferencing & videoconferencing? Nothing from what i could work out (correct me if i'm wrong). How important it is too to find articles that are 'seminal' (for want of a better word), that are current & relevant with lots of references to follow up. Now i've spent all day finding my reading, it's going to take me awhile to get through it all. Maybe I should narrow my focus to videoconferencing in NZ ;-)

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Wine Not Network @ Toko School

Thanks to Toko School for hosting the first Wine Not Network for 2007! Teachers from Toko, Eltham & Marco Schools met to share what they were doing with ICT in their schools.
Toko teachers shared examples of the work their kids had done with lots of different things:
Use of visual images & creative writing – poetry – acrostic, cinquin, feelings poems – flickr images, photostory, photoshop – manipulating flickr images.

Spreadsheets for mathematical investigations & charting.
Logo for programming mathematical concepts - for the Methanex Maths Spectacular.
Using Interact & SmartNet for notices, shared calendars, shared links & posting topic & class work resources.
Use of Inspiration to prepare for writing experiences – get ideas out in Inspiration and converting to Word to finish the writing and editing process.
Great use of the simple programme Paint – detailed drawings instead of clipart.
Using mp3 players to support the reading programme – eg recording reading activity (a play), listening on the listening post, discussing quality of reading (expression, style, delivery etc), re-recording.

Thanks Rich, Charlaine, Kelly & Scott for all the great ideas. Looking forward to our next Wine Not Network @ Eltham later in the term :-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

RSS for Professional Learning

TaraNet Lead teachers are meeting today (VC) to have a general catchup of whats happening with ICT & learning in our schools.

At each of our meetings i plan to include a PD focus - today we are going to look at RSS for Professional Learning.
RSS, to me, was the key that really unlocked Web 2.0 and was the glue that allowed me to connect to other edubloggers both through the setting up of a feed on my own site using feedburner and through subscribing to other sites on bloglines. Another useful tool as recommended by Graham was co-comment that allows me to follow conversations where i have left comments. So often in the past i had left comments & then missed the rest of the conversation because i didn't go back there...

Here are the notes for our workshop session today.

Promoting VC @ S.H.S.

Last night I presented a short promo session at Stratford High School for the Year 8 evening - where prospective new students and their families come and learn more about what our school has to offer.
The school's new 'slogan' couldn't suit VC learning any better:
"Staying Local - Going Far"
In a nutshell this sums up how VC can really benefit our students. A world of opportunities can be opened up to them without having to leave town.
My talk focussed on how VC learning was a collaborative initiative with other schools & learning institutions regionally & nationally and that our children now had a wealth of choices available to them through the Virtual Learning Network. I also talked about the the opportunities our students have to talk to experts and other interesting people through Digital Conversations and through Telecom VC promotional events.
It was very timely that Telecom had contacted us that day to let us know we had been included in the upcoming All Blacks VCs. We will be making a big event with this - moving the VC gear out into a classroom and having our Primary School children participate alongside the older students. The last time we had a big event like this was when Telecom hosted the NZ Idol Ben Lummis VC 3 years ago - we had children ranging from Y3 to Y13 joining in together and when the parents heard that Doug Howlett was also part of the VC we couldn't get them out of the room either! Although it was unashamed Telecom self promotion (Helen Clark & Theresa Gattung also made appearances) it was a great event for the children to be involved in.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

IWB @ Pitt

Pitt Island school installed their Smart Board yesterday and the kids have had lots of fun exploring the cool things they can do with it. We ran a test skype today to see how a skype call would go projected on the IWB. The picture on the big screen was fine but sound at our end was a problem with the children so far away from the camera and the laptop - perhaps bring the laptop closer and attach a better microphone. Some adjustments to be made. Pitt children can expect some skype calls from Taranaki soon as two of our schools are getting webcams to use with their IWBs and will be looking for someone to test them out on too. If your class has a webcam & would like to talk to our Taranaki or Pitt Island children let me know & we will set something up.

First Weeks @ SPS

Today I worked with a small team of Y5 & 6 students as they took photos of New Entrants at Stratford Primary School to create Digital Stories of their first weeks at school. It was quite a logistical exercise with 14 new children starting at school this term! The older kids were great at organising the younger ones, getting them to pose for 'natural shots', lining them up for group photos & keeping them amused as they waited their turn. By the end of the day the Y5 & 6 students were exhausted :-) The photos will be compiled in Movie Maker with captions & background music, burnt to CD & presented to the New Entrant children at assembly.
On the more technical side of things the CDs are burnt with an Autorun programme, so they start automatically on a start page that explains what the CD is all about, links to the First Weeks @ SPS movie file and links also to a range of software on the CD - just in case they don't have the right software on their home computers to view the movie. Previous experience of sending students digital work home has shown that not all families have the right software to view the work. This initiative has been running since the end of last year and there has been no feedback from families to say they can't view the movie.
I know if i was a parent i would love to have a lasting memory such as this.

Monday, 23 July 2007


Over the holidays Stratford Primary School had Interactive Whiteboards installed in all the senior classrooms, as well as making 8 tablets available for use across the school.
It was very exciting to come to school last week and see into all the classrooms, students interacting with Maths Learning Objects. This is early days yet as teachers and students together explore the possibilities for this technology in their classrooms.
Today i began to load some Interwrite Software on my computer so i could have a play and develop some resources. I also visited the Sitech E-Learning Zone (a moodle site) to check out the resources, links & PD material there. Stratford Primary along with many other schools have joined the Sitech Champion Schools - a collection of schools who in partnership with Sitech have the following Vision:
"To bring together technological and pedagogical expertise to explore the impact on teaching and learning of digitally enhanced classrooms and to offer effective strategies for their future use"

and Goals:

"To work with teacher-researchers to obtain a picture of present teaching practice in digitally enhanced classrooms
To build on observational work to develop, trial and evaluate theoretically-grounded teaching strategies for the digitally enhanced classroom"

I look forward to following their progress & joining them on their learning journey :-)

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Blogging Mojo

Thanks to my nzedublogger colleagues for helping me find my blogging mojo. How can i have gone 6 weeks without a single post??!

It's not like i have nothing to say my life is full of lots of goings on - so well, maybe its been too full! Thanks guys for your prompt & positive comments, they really motivate me - Artie you always write something that gives me a chuckle :-)

This semester i will be studying again & though i have said never again.... one more paper & i will graduate with a Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Technologies (Massey). This last (hehe last) paper is focussed around distance learning: "Policy, practice & trends in Distance and Online Education" Hmmm title sounds pretty dry & boring but this paper will be really relevant to my work with the TaraNet elearning cluster and in practice its not boring at all. Online learning is one of my passions - without it i wouldn't be where i am today.
One of the things i will be looking at will be the history & contributions of Video Conferencing in online education. I know the KAWM network was one of the earliest to use video conferencing for online learning in NZ - have you heard of others who went before? What has been happening internationally with VC & distance learning? If you are into online learning expect me to pick your brains :-)

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

VC Extending the Possibilities

Today i visited Coastal Taranaki Area School to catch up on the ICT & learning happenings out there and to promote TaraNet & the uptake of VC distance learning for their students. Coastal Taranaki School has seen huge changes in the last couple of years with the closing of local schools and the amalgamation into the one area school. Physical changes to the school campus are now complete and the school is looking great. School staffing has settled down a lot, though as yet complete, from the early upheavals and things seem to be ticking along ok now.
I managed to catch up with Erin, one of our 'model' VC students, as she was finishing her weekly video conference. Erin is an enthusiastic proponent of VC distance learning. Here is some of what she has to say about the difference VC learning has made for her:

"I am in year 13 at coastal Taranaki School and I study Equine via video conferencing. I have been interested in horses since a young age, started riding when I was 8 years old and brought my first pony at 13.
Our school does not have an equine programme; however Video conferencing has opened up a whole new door for me. I began the course last year, studying through both WINTEC in Hamilton and Telford Rural Polytechnic in Balclutha, which is near Dunedin......

I have continued this year to do the second year equine course with Telford......
Video Conferencing is such a valuable resource for our school; it has helped me combine my passion for horses with practical learning which will help me towards my dream of working with horses. It has also taught me good time management skills as I have to make sure I keep up with my work and send assignments away on time. My tutor is always available to answer questions and give advice on all things to do with horses, we keep in contact via email and I never feel as though I have nobody to help me.
Some people may compare VC with correspondence work but having done both myself I say Video Conferencing is a lot better. I have a tutor who I can speak to face to face on the VC televisions once a week and is always available to help me, it allows the tutor to show diagrams, pictures and graphs etc and explain them, rather than with correspondence where they send you the information and you have to try and understand it by yourself.

It is great for our school to be able to offer not only equine but almost any subject not available here via VC where professional and experienced tutors are able to teach Coastal Taranaki students to the same level in which you can learn in the classroom. I would highly recommend Video Conferencing to anyone who wishes to take a course not offered at the school, its’ a great chance to learn new things, meet new people with similar interests to you and gain credits for NCEA and even University Entrance."
It was great to have this sort of positive feedback from Erin - knowing that what we do in supporting access to distance learning is really making a difference to the learning & career opportunities of our students.

Erin's horse Shaman

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Time 4 Online Conference

Time 4 Online Conference kicks off tomorrow & I encourage you all to get along & involve yourself in someway over the next couple of weeks. My presentation is finally completed as usual done at the 11th hour :-)

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Flickifying Art History @ Waitara

I spent some time with Ceri our VC Art History teacher at Waitara High School today. I had a mission before i went that i just had to hook her into using Flickr with her eLearning class. Mission accomplished i think - will have to go back in a couple of weeks and see how they are going. Ceri was very enthusiastic about how she could use this - the ability to collect favourites, annote areas of images, describe & discuss them with her students. A virtual tour through Italy possibly as i showed her how to geotag photos with the Arena Chapel in Padua - she's going away now to find out the address so she can pin it down to the exact street location :-) Though Ceri would not have done this on her own as the flickr sign up process via Yahoo ID was a mission in itself for your average teacher. So my being there really got her through the hard part - the rest will be fun :-)

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

IWB - Decisions Decisions

It seems now it's not a case of should we get an IWB, but which sort of IWB (Interwrite, SmartBoard, Promeathean). Do you go the whole hog and get a board or start with a tablet or both? Where should we put them in the school? Lighthouse teachers throughout the school or a syndicate (faculty) focus?
I was impressed at this Demo (Sitech Interwrite) at SPS today. Mainly because teachers were tuned into it - its was great to see them with their tongues hanging out rather than with their eyes glazing over and rolling back in their heads :-) So what better place to start - teachers with a positive mindset - you won't get anywhere without that, whatever technology you put in their classrooms.
Another great thing about this Demo was the whole pedagogical approach - every opportunity was used to involve teachers in real learning examples across the curricula & at various year levels. Sitech offer free on going PD support after the installation of their IWBs with a focus on learning & teaching not just technical. Tools & features are very similar to any other IWB though i was impressed also with what i thought was a superior capability of converting anyones chicken scrawl writing to text. It will be interesting to follow the progress of our teachers with IWB & see if they can really make a difference or will this be another expensive weapon in a 'chalk & talk' arsenal.

Media Team Prepares 4 the Jubilee

Media Team

Today we got the whole Media Team together to prepare for SPS Jubilee coming up on Queen's Birthday weekend. It was great to have kids working together tuakana/teina - we should make more opportunities to do this in our schools. They have begun preparing Decade presentations using our flickr photos. Though i can't work out why for some photos we can't download our own pictures & just end up with an empty image - spaceball.gif - this is really annoying. We have all the photos on our own server but its easier to find them from flickr. They also learnt how to optimise their images, upload them to flickr and to make a blog entry too. Over Jubilee Weekend we plan to be uploading pics, audio & short video clips as we go so those who can't be with us can be part of the celebrations - it would be great to get some comments from ex-pupils on the Jubilee Blogspot.

Thursday, 17 May 2007


I've been waiting for this one & finally MIT has opened it up to the rest of us :-) Cool!

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.

I wish I had my own class to play with this. Find out more about Scratch here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

When Web 1.0 Meets Web 2.0

Another thing thats been taking a huugggeeee amount of my time is the redevelopment of our website. It is still a traditional Web 1.0 site in it's purpose, design, structure & hosting but throughout the site elements of Web 2.0 have been utilized. These definitely make it more dynamic & I think interesting. It also opens up the potential for greater interaction with the school community and beyond through these cool little tools - depending on how they are managed by the school... Examples are the photogallery (a flickr site), www.librarything.com integrated into our Information Centre page, and the Sitemeter, Geovisitor & Measle Maps you can see on our front page. I won't make any links here to those things - please go and visit our site and explore them for yourself :-) Another cool thing coming up on the site will be the links into the classroom sites made on protopage. I was totally blown away when i checked back into Room 1's site - a great benchmark for our other classrooms - check it out.
These are just a few tools that we can use to Connect, Communicate, Create & Collaborate through our school website. If you want to read more about Web 2.0 Harnessing the Potential for schools please read my article (any feedback welcome :-)

Monday, 14 May 2007

Jubilee Junkie

Every spare minute of my time (and lots of minutes that aren't spare) have been spent in preparing for our school jubilee. It's been really interesting to be given lots of old school photos from people in our community, scanning them & loading them to our Jubilee flickr site. Memories have been shared on our Jubilee blogspot. All of these will become our "Digital Time Capsule" (Thanks Kelvin :-) - the 21st Century version of burying old newspapers to be dug up 50 years later. Our Time Capsule will be easily accessible for anyone with an internet connection for a long time to come. I have begun to pull together a Jubilee Media team of students from Stratford Primary School & Stratford High School to document the events of Jubilee weekend, taking lots of pictures, short video & audio to be shared in our Time Capsule. This team will also prepare the multimedia presentations that will be on display, along with presentations from SPS classes, throughout the Jubilee. Presentations no longer need to be PowerPoints. With Flash Slideshow Maker you can easily put together presentations and display as a flash movie. Here's an example. Another tool i found was Flash Flipping Book which i used to display a very old handwritten book which really needed to be displayed in it's original book format. (Not sure if this one runs all the way through properly as it is hosted on the School Zone network & it wouldn't upload some supporting files)

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Playing with Meez

We've had lots of fun over the weekend making Meez avatars. Here is one i created of my daughter begging for a new cellphone.
And here is the one she made of me:

Blog This!

Friday, 11 May 2007

Pitt Protopage

The kids at Pitt Island School have been playing with Protopage to make their own webpages today. By the time i had made this little movie tutorial they had worked out how to use it - Easy Peasy. They are just starting out but check into their website to see what they are up to :-)

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Cybersafe Kids

A popular visitor in Room 5 today at St Joseph's - the next in a generation of kids born in the 21st Century. These 21st C. kids have already been coming to school for the last two years and what are we doing to meet their needs for now & in the future?

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for she was born in a different time”

One thing we can do, and should continually return to, at home and at school, is keeping our kids safe in the online world which is more and more a part of their daily lives. They need to be socially responsible citizens of the virtual worlds they inhabit and what better place to practice than in the safe environment of school. I have been working with students and teachers at St Joseph's in discussing the issues around Cybersafety. There are some great resources for teachers, families & kids online. Here is the Cybersafety links I gathered & published on the St Joseph's School website.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

TaraNet Teachers

We had our first Virtual Campus staff meeting for 2007 today. Online teachers & school VC coordinators met to chew the fat on how our distance learning VC classes are going. Everyone present was very positive that students were making progress in their classes and that although there are unique challenges in teaching a class, that is based in sometimes several locations, that with a positive attitude (including a sense of humour), lots of patience and flexibility and good communication between the schools, learning online can be successful. Discussion focussed around some of the occasional but annoying technical difficulties & the support we had available to deal with it. Little tricks to encourage students to participate more fully in online discussion (& its not just shyness but time lag on the VC that makes the 'flow' of an lesson difficult). There are lots of Minties in the post to Forest View students in Chris's class for their increased participation in VC sessions :-) More PD is available to our online teachers in using their online site to support their classes - teachers just need to call me & fix a time.

While we were having our VC Inglewood took the opportunity to have a photo opportunity during a 'real VC'. Here i am pretending to teach a class with a couple of Inglewood students - the photos were taken at their end for their school prospectus. Good to see VC learning being promoted in our schools.