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


video

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:
http://room1tokoschool.blogspot.com/
http://room6-sps.blogspot.com/
http://room3tokotaranaki.blogspot.com/
http://room5toko.blogspot.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tokoschool
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

Sports

Entertainment

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)