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A Challenge For You All October 24, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0.
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I never cease to be amazed by the power of our brains. I have had two ‘aha!” moments today and both of them have the potential to produce some really creative work. Last night I posted the video by Michael Wesch and this afternoon as I walked home this idea popped into my head. As I sit here now, some hours later I now realise that my subconscious was chewing over what it saw, stylistically, on that video.

As I have said before, in a previous life I used to be an advertising photographer and I get my biggest buzz out of all this ICT stuff when I can be creative and when I can encourage others to be equally visually creative with all this plastic, electronic micro circuits and expensive software. As I have also said I often walk to and from school, it is a 10km round trip. I also cycle to work, the long way and that is 13km each way. Stay with me here this will all come together in a moment. What I liked about Michael’s video, stylistically was the movement, the transition from desk to library shelf and from library shelf to card index. This mix was slushing around my brain as I walked home in the drizzle tonight admiring the varying gardens, shrubbery, horses and wildlife that I encountered on my way home. Sometimes life in a car is just too fast and too isolated. Then the idea began to form in my head. The daily grind of commuting is an international phenomenon, it transcends cultures, social strata and ethnicities. Implicit within the word ‘commute’ is an assumption that we all do it in broadly the same way. But is it not better to travel than to arrive? I walk to work the exact same way that I drive, yet I see and experience more as I walk than when I drive, obviously. What a shame.

So here is the challenge and I think that it could be expanded to students after we have ironed out a few technical challenges. I propose that we all grab a laptop and a webcam, install Timershot (Sorry have not yet tracked down the Mac/open source equivalent yet.) and set our webcams up in our cars, on the bus, on the train, in my back pack and record our commute to work, or from work, it is your choice. I suggest that we set it the web cam to record every 1 second and then submit our videos to teachertube and link them back to this post in a comment. I will then create a post or a new blog to showcase these differing ways that we commute and the landscapes that we travel through.

As I said I will either strap the web cam to my shoulder as I walk or to the handle bars of my bike. As I sit here I can think of Helen in Plymouth who takes the Torpoint ferry from Cornwall to Devon every morning to get to school. My sister takes the train from the Hutt valley into central Wellington to Athena every day. I guess I am hoping that we will create a real version of those Air New Zealand ‘amazing journeys everyday‘ adverts, without the accompanying dirge!

I hope that I have inspired some of you to record this most mundane of activities. I suspect that we all make amazing journeys every day, but are too isolated in our cars or concentrating on some aspect of our work to really notice. I think also that if we got our students to do the same exercise we would learn a lot about them too.

What do you think? Who’s in?

Photo credit: Keithlard



There Are No Shelves on the Web October 23, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0, ICT Integration, Web 2.0.
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The following video is the latest offering from Michael Wesch, creator of the machine is us/ing us. I read the post on Ewan’s blog. It is yet another interesting and challenging perspective on the web, information and our changing perception of it. It throws up many challenges for us to wrestle with and what the implications are for all of us with regard to information, who creates it, who uses it and where it is stored. The web has made us all potential experts with wikipedia the ultimate in peer review, the knowledge pyramid has flat lined. It could be argued that the web is a socialist construct of sorts. Equal access to information to all that have access!

I am posting this video because it is relevant, but seeing it to tonight was perfect timing. We had a staff meeting tonight and we were discussing the new curriculum and specifically the effective pedagogy aspect of it. We were asked to make comments on varying sections of it. One member of staff took the opportunity to take a cheap shot at e-learning and try to put it in its place. (Prince’s ‘Lets Party Like It’s 1999.” comes to mind, the comment was out of date and in 2007 wildly out of touch and irrelevant!) However it throws up the internal dichotomy within schools, external pundits are making the arguments for change, pointing out the change and possible routes ahead, key members of staff are not hearing the call or if they are, are taking cheap shots to maintain an ancient status quo. I know that they are scared, apprehensive even just hiding their heads in the sand. But it is not their lives that they are messing with.

My school has come a long way in a short time and I am very pleased with the progress and wonder how much more we will make as we embark on our ICT PD contract in 2008? Managing the naysayers is a pain in the proverbial and at this stage the school has sectioned itself into four: Early adapters, fence sitters – watching with interest but non-committal and those on the other side of the fence, another song comes to mind “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Make of that what you will! Until my fence sitters join the early adapters, then the naysayers will still be able to hold sway at meetings such as tonight.  The fourth group is management.  This last group I see as essential to success.  The legitimacy for change has to be visibly championed from the top.  They have to walk the talk in all that they say and do and using and advocating new technological solutions is a good way of demonstrating commitment.

This video encapsulates all that is scary for those that are scared of ICT, e-learning, information management and the uncertainty principal of knowledge.  Change is the only constant on a sand dune, no point drawing a line on it! The information revolution is undermining ‘the sage on the stage’, the revolution has come and on a techno savvy level many of these teachers know less than their students and that is a dynamic that is threatening to them, not empowering.

Second Life October 15, 2007

Posted by davidit in collaborative, Education, Inquiry Model, Second Life, student engagement, thinking skills, ulearn07, Web 2.0.
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I have long been intrigued with the whole notion of online collaborative gaming and its potential for education.  Shoot ’em ups, although strategy games, are still blood baths and not really suited to pre-teen education, I can see the letters from parents now (note not e-mails, what does that say?)!  As a result, I have been intrigued but have not persued it further.  Second Life, on the other hand, I immediately saw as having huge potential in the education sector, but how?

I recently embarked on an experiment with Helen in the UK to see how we could exploit Second Life to enhance our learning partnership and to really develop a sense of community between our two schools.  I wondered if we could not work together on a collaborative construction project as devised by the students.   I envisaged many student avatars all working collaboratively to create some edifice and leaving instructions and queries for the next shift as we sailed through time zones…

Helen and I both created our Avatars, mine is a hopeless representation of me!  I tried to be honest about my appearance and my efforts ended up looking like some ring worm suffering alopaecia sufferer!  Anyway our experiences on Linden as newbies were enough to put us both off!  Helen was bored to tears with some overbearing architect with too much too say.  I guess that if you are a bore in your first life you bring that imprint with you into Second Life!   I just jumped straight in and clicked on the first ‘popular’ tag that seemed to be in the centre of Linden and promptly ended up in a strip club!  Now I could definitely not only see the letters from the parents if I let my students loose here, but my resignation letter too!  My only defence being that it would have been genuine discovery learning!

My interest in Second Life was re-kindled at the recent Ulearn07 conference, when Tony Ryan talked about not only our Second Life, but our Third and even Fourth lives.  Since then the I have seen the following:



I have come to the conclusion that there is too much here not to be used by students, but still the un-restricted access issue is one that has to be wrestled with.   Not least the fact that Second Life is filtered on School Zone and I have a sneaking suspicion that the ports that it communicates on are locked by our tech support company,  just as Joost is (an easy fix but an irritation non the less). How do we protect our students from the adult aspects of Linden?  If a 10 year old were to attempt to walk into a strip club in our First Lives, they would be prevented from doing so by the moral imperatives of the  adults in or around the establishment, not to mention the legality of the situation.  Second Life has no such moral or legal imperatives, it is the wild west and that, for many, is its appeal and I for one would not want to restrict or control that, for adults.  Second Life is a masque ball, we can be who we want to be, the assumption is that all around us are voters and tax payers, ie adult.  Our Avatars have and give no visual clues to the genuine age, gender, ethnicity and identity of those whom we meet.  That is Second Life’s appeal for adults and its Achilles heel for students to use it.  So how do we get our students into Linden without invoking the wrath of parents?

I have been discussing this idea with Fiona and she has come up with a fantastic idea that we are going to be working through this term with my G+T students.  The students will be observers of Linden, by proxy though our Avatars.  I think that this has potential and am looking forward to it.  We will be the guides and as such can teleport our students to  resources and experiences suited to their needs.  This however will not enable the students to ‘experience’  and explore unfettered the environment of Second Life.  What is needed is an island that is the sole preserve of educators,  who  will be able to allow their students to roam freely.  Until this happens or some other solution is devised, our students will be passive observers of a world that is not meant experienced passively.  In the mean time resources such as the ‘International Spaceflight Musuem’ are too good for education not to utilise.  I will keep you posted of our progress. If you would like to be part of this experiment, let me know and I will work out a way to include your or your students.  I am planning to do this on Friday mornings at 11:00, but will keep you posted.  If you want to find me in Linden I am ‘Alban Sicling.’  If you see me in a strip club, it is not me, but my identical twin, honest…

Madasafish October 9, 2007

Posted by davidit in Madasafish.

Some of you will know that I have had an e-mail address for years based at a UK ISP called Madasafish. Some who know me feel that the person and the ISP go hand in glove. I could not possibly comment. However whilst on the phone yesterday I was doodling on my desk jotter and a rather mad looking fish emerged! I ripped it off of the jotter and took it home, chucked it on the scanner and have made this creation using Macromedia’s Freehand. At tool I love to play with, I have lots of images on the go, but as this one is less complex than the others I have completed it. Nothing to do with student attainment, dead animals, fossils or web 2.0! Makes a refreshing change!


Mosaickr October 8, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0, Web 2.0.
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I have just posted a link on my resources page to http://go2web20.net it is a fantastic source of cool new web 2.0 tools.  I have been randomly looking through the very long list of tools and found this one and knew instantly that I had to share it.  It is another Flickr tool called mosaickr.  What it does is use one of your source images and then creates a mosaic of that image using other images from Flickr!  The final result can then be printed out as a poster.  I can see all manner of spin offs for this, let me know if any of you use it.  I am going to run it by our art specialist here as I can see a lot of work to do with tones etc coming from this.  Enjoy!

Joost – Update October 7, 2007

Posted by davidit in joost.
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I have just heard from Joost that they have released Joost Beta 1.o.  They have increased the content and not only that it is open to all.  So follow the link and download the latest Joost code and start watching.

France is New Zealand’s Poland – Discuss October 7, 2007

Posted by davidit in All Blacks, France, Rugby, World Cup.

For those of you that are not sure what I am talking about, it seems to me that France, with regard to World Cup Rugby tournaments, has become a bit of a bogey team for the All Blacks, rather like Poland is for the English soccer team…  They crop up at crucial moments and ruin the party!

Ulearn07 – Auckland October 7, 2007

Posted by davidit in class blog, collaborative, Conference, Education, Education 2.0, student engagement, thinking skills, ulearn07, Web 2.0.

I have spent three days in the company of 1200 other, largely like  minded, teachers.  It was a stimulating and thought provoking event.  You can read my thoughts/reflections on my wiki.  It was great to meet some new faces and to finally meet some bloggers in person.

As broadcast on the sub-ethernet in ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’

“…the secret is to keep banging the rocks together guys!”

We will get there, and if in your moments of frustration, and you happen to have two rocks in your hand, ensure that a dinosaur’s head is in the way!  Makes a change from flogging and perhaps the message might get through a little more stridently to those currently not listening!  Not only that one of Tony Ryan’s tenets for success will have been met, self worth!

Flogging the Dinosaur October 4, 2007

Posted by davidit in ulearn07.

I issued a challenge tonight to those at my dinner table, as part of the Ulearn 07 conference, to write a post titled ‘flogging the dinosaur.’   Those of you that are avid (Yeah right!)  readers of my blog will know that thisw as my initial intended title for this blog, it is one that I still want to use as I think that it evokes all kinds of imagery!  So you have been dead for 85 million years what exactly is your take on the whole open source debate?  Or at its best, you have been irrelevant for what seems like 85 million years what do you mean the Gestetner is cutting edge?!

I raised this because I heard today the spine chillingly awful phrase ‘neo luddite.’  If we experience this kind back lash then we live with the awful potential of good vet making those ancient educational bones walk again.  Can you imagine it?  The rise of the dinosaur, I think that  I need to go and lie down!