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ToonDooSpaces October 11, 2009

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ToonDoo have updated their services, I have just published about it over on http://dakinane.com/blog check it out.

Ulearn09 breakout 7 presentation October 10, 2009

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I have just published a new post on http://dakinane.com/blog about my breakout 7 presentation at Ulearn09.  Check it out.

Ulearn09 breakout 1 October 10, 2009

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I have just posted about my breakout 1 session over on dakinane.com/blog.  Check it out.

Lookah.tv goes live October 2, 2009

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A new post about this initiative has been posted at http://dakinane.com/blog

Copyright August 4, 2009

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I have just posted on the subject of copyright on my new blog.  Check it out http://dakinane.com/blog/2009/08/04/copyright/

New post on dakinane.com-Widgetbox August 2, 2009

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I have just published a new post on my new blog, http://www.dakinane.com/blog.  You can read the post by clicking here.

Supertanker on auto-pilot July 24, 2009

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dakinane.com/blog

Yesterday I had to tell the crew of the supertanker that their pilot was swapping ships.  I have been offered an e-learning factilitators role at Team Solutions here in Auckland and have accepted it.  I am very excited and nervous in equal measure about this move, who knows what the future will bring?  What I do know is that there are many more supertankers out there that need turning and this move gives me the opportunity to pilot many more.  In the first instance the work with Team Solutions is only until the end of the year and what lies beyond that is a mystery, but it is time to take a leap of faith!  Anyone who feels that their particular supertanker is drifting in the wrong direction and needs some additional help, you know where I am!

Having said that, I have created my own new blog at the following address and I guess that for the time being I will be running two blogs, but as I leave the supertanker then this particular blog and my loyal readers will need to migrate to the new blog.  You can check it out at the following address:  http://www.dakinane.com/blog those of you who are observant will note that address made it onto my blog roll a few months ago….

Pencil-animation software July 22, 2009

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I was asked this week to locate some software for students to use that would enable them to create animations easily.  I have been playing with Synfig for the last couple of weeks and it is more like an open source variant of Flash in its interface rather than the kind of animation tool I was really looking for.  I have been playing with it because a client has asked me to work out how to use it so that I can introduce it to their staff.  This tool, however is not appropriate for students to use, well not year 6 students anyway.

After a lengthy consultation with a teacher from the Supertanker, who had outlined what she hoped to produce with her students,  I went off to the Internet in search of something altogether more pure in an animation sense and easy to use for students.  What I have found is a cracker of an open source program called Pencil.  The beauty of this program is that it has tried very hard to be a traditional animators desk, very few tools, a colour palette and a layers area are the only distractions or complications from the main drawing area.

It took me about 5 minutes to master the basic controls of this program, something that I like in a program.  With this kind of program  it will be the users creativity that determines the success or otherwise of the outcome and not the overly complex requirements of a program that masks quality output.

What is more, this program comes into its own if you have a tablet, drawing freehand with a mouse is always tricky.  The students in question do not have access to tablets, but every class does have a Smart Board in it, enabling the students to draw very accurately with their fingers, thus producing some excellent results very quickly.  A great tool and one that I would urge you to investigate.  There are a couple of tutorials on You Tube,  I will create some too and post them, however the program is so easy to use, a tutorial is almost superfluous to requirements.

I have demonstrated this program to several teachers since and I can see that this program will quickly go viral,  so remember where you heard about it first!

Open Source Source June 27, 2009

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I have been approached by an author in the US who is writing a book on bartering, the book title is The ABCs of Barter and Trade Exchanges by Trish A. Truitt. The book is due for publication at the end of July at the earliest. They will also have a web site which is due to go live soon the link is: http://www.ABCsOfBarter.com The reason for the contact is that she wants to reference one of my tutorials on You Tube in her publication, I have of course said yes. The tutorial that she is interested in is my Open Office tutorial, which is just an introduction to the program. I figured that a tutorial was not really necessary as most users of the Internet would already be familiar with a myriad of word processing programmes. However Trish thought that the style was clear and concise enough to warrant a mention in her book.

We have been chatting for a while now and it was clear that she did not want to reference a You Tube link in her book. I suggested that I create a wiki and embed the video there. The result is that I have now created an open source wiki for all of my Open Source software tutorials. It is a repository of tutorials organised by application and will continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead. Indeed today I will be sitting down and re-creating the ‘addons’ tutorial that I have already created and will also create a series of Calc tutorials for inclusion on this specific Open Source wiki.

The address is: http://opensourcesource.wikispaces.com


Tipping Point for the Supertanker June 12, 2009

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Tipping Point

Tipping Point

Image by: Steve Wampler http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgw/

It has been a while since I have updated the Supertanker’s heading and you will see that we have made a 50 degree change since the last update.  The Supertanker has been making excellent headway in 2009  and this large jump reflects that fact and in addition reveals the  alarming fact that the heading was last updated in July 2008!  What has happened?  Has the captain been sleeping at the helm?  The answer is no, just busy!

What is clear from the actions of the crew on the Supertanker is that like all Supertankers, our change in direction is gathering tremendous momentum.  This is fantastic news,  there are some really interesting developments happening on the Supertanker.  Change is occurring as a result of a perfect storm of three initiatives all started in 2008.

The first was the Supertanker embarking on its ICT PD cluster oddessy.  We are now in our second year of the cluster, we have three facilitators of which I am one and responsible for ICT.  The pedagogical  input from our other facilitators has created a natural platform for integrating ICT into the classroom.  Now the cart and the horse are in the appropriate alignment and the crew are  starting to really experiment with the potential for ICT to be used as a tool to enhance student learning outcomes.

In 2008 we changed our tech support team. With our previous model of support we were in a regime that thwarted creativity and stifled initiative, in 2008 we threw off that cloak and embarked upon a more open and freer model.  It has taken time for the crew to recognise that fact and to spread their wings and experiment with the possibilities.  They now have the power to experiment with tools that they have discovered and wish to use, they can give things a go instantly.

The final strand of the triumvirate has been investment in infrastructure.  We have strived to create a level playing field in all classrooms in an attempt to mitigate ‘the grass is greener’ envy that we had before.  In previous years, old equipment or a range of different performing equipment between classes and even within classes has been used as an excuse not to use ICT tools or to even try.  With a level playing field, every class has a minimum of three computers and a digital camera, staff no longer feel as though they are a poor cousin and are just using the tools.  We have also streamlined our server room.  We have consolodated the core switch cabinet, pulling together all the various coms equipment that had previously been scattered all over the Supertanker.  We have also increased our storage capacity.

The nett result of these three initiatives is that the staff have the freedom to experiment, the pedagogical rationale and space to store stuff.  As a result we are going places, a sleeping giant has been woken, the Supertanker could yet well morph into lithe A class off shore racing machine!

Has this rapid change been hassle free?  Well the answer has to be no!  The new found freedoms have now presented me with a range of new issues to deal with and in conjunction with my IT support team we are constantly having to manage the new challenges posed by the momentum.  The first issue has been our data growth, this finds me in an enviable position.

Our data growth is currently 7 Gb per day!  This is fantastic news and I can not complain about it.  It is a very crude indicator that staff and students are using the stuff that we spent so much money and time putting into place.  It means that the digital cameras are being used and some!  It means that the microphones purchased the video cameras purchased are all being used, as the data growth is due to the explosion in multi-media files.  It also means that our 1 Tb drives purchased last Christmas are now looking decidedly small!

The other and potentially more difficult issue to manage is the lag between staff enthusiasm and staff savvy.  It is a quotient that I starting to call TCoF (Total Cost of Freedom).  Having been set free from the constraints of the previous support model, staff are now experimenting and innovating, which is exactly what I wanted.  There is a price to pay for this, and we have.  For the majority of this term we have been battling a trojan on our network that is replicating, it has been a bit like fighting the Hydra.  We are now in control and the Hydra has been slain.  What is clear is that as MS tightens up its notoriously sloppy code, the hackers are looking elsewhere for their attack vectors.  The recent Adobe security compromise is a good example, as is hijacked web sites.  Both of which dupe an unsuspecting user into downloading something that they are not expecting.  It is this savvyness that unleashed users now need to develop, but it can only develop through mistakes.

Therefore as the Supertanker continues to gain momentum, my issues and focus have in their turn changed.  I have moved  from having to cajole reluctant users to use the stuff to working with individuals to plan great integration strategies.  I have also to cope with the mistakes of enthusiastic innovators and manage a rapidly increasing data storage and back up headache.  I now have to balance momentum and enthusiasm with protection that is not draconian and restrictive.  I have to manage data and lots of it,  juggle resources and move stuff about in order to cope.  Hallelujah!

We are truly Turning the Supertanker!

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