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Shapeshifter – online animation tool November 27, 2007

Posted by davidit in Aniboom, Education, Education 2.0, ICT Integration, shapeshifter, student engagement, Web 2.0.
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I have just found this great tool called Aniboom Shapeshifter.  This is another animation tool, it is free to use (of course) and has a thriving community, a lot of whom are schools, associated with it.  It is rather like Pivot in that it has some basic shapes that you can edit and add to.  But where this application might score over Pivot is that it is online, no programmes to install and that it can go beyond the stick figure format of Pivot.  Oh and it has colour, you can group objects into one and you can organise objects onto layers.  You can check out the basic tutorial here.  I think that this application is a winner and will be trialling it in my lunchtime sessions this week to get student feedback.

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Amazing Journeys – wiki November 26, 2007

Posted by davidit in commute, timelapse, timlapse.
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I now have four submitted videos to add to my own amazing journey video.  I have therefore created a wiki on which to share them.  I am hoping that the rest of you will follow suit fairly shortly.  I know that most of you are in the midst of reports and other such end of year nasties!  In the meantime, take some time out to see the wonders that we pass as we do the daily grind to work.  You can view the complete and growing set of amazing journeys here. Feel free to send me the link to your uploaded video.  I am off down to the sounds at Christmas and will be trying very hard to get lost in the wilderness, my aim is to get up to ship cove, if the kids can stand it!  I will do the same trick again and publish that, so don’t stop once you start!

International Education Week – day 3 November 15, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education 2.0, ICT Integration, International Education Week, mission, Skrbl, Skype, thinking skills, Web 2.0.
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Well I have done my planned input for International Education Week.  Last night I did my second lesson with another class from Woodford Primary School.  And as on Monday, there were a whole load of others watching the proceedings, there were representatives from the local education authority and the head of international liaison for the Plymouth LEA.  To a man they were all impressed, even awed, by the use of technology to remotely teach students.  One even noted that:

They (the students)  seem to just accept there is someone teaching them that is half way around the world and 13 hours ahead – I find it absolutely amazing – must be my age!!

This sentiment epitomises the dichotomy at the heart of the wholesale integration of ICT into our classrooms.  The kids are ready and waiting, the adults of a certain age don’t believe it is possible.  Now look at the average age of teachers in education and you start to see the scale of the problem. 

For the record, from my point of view, the session was a dog!  Skype was playing up really badly, my call kept being dropped or if I was connected then my voice was intermittently not being transmitted or sound from the classroom was not getting back to me.  However, through all of this, the kids sailed on, they achieved more than the previous class on Monday.  The students were asking me questions, but were not quite brave enough to come up to the web cam and ask 1:1, they will though.  So, even though I knew that my virtual classroom would be clunky and it was just electronic ‘chalk and talk’ the project has proved that it can be done.  It has worked so well that Woodford want more and I will be back next Monday and Wednesday nights to continue with the module until it is completed.  Helen has just informed me that the Headteacher of her school is considering using me and this method to teach her staff how to use blogs, wikis and all manner of web 2.0 tools. Once demonstrated, people start to see the benefit, it is all good!  Timing will be an issue for me, staff meetings in the UK would mean an early start for me, but maybe sleep is over rated!  The press article as a result of Monday night’s lesson can be read here.

Another sleepless night ensued as I chewed over the technical glitches, how to resolve them?  How to improve on what we already have?  I know that my virtual classroom is built on technological sand and one of my solutions added another layer of complexity, that would work, but add another clunk to the project.  Using CamStudio you can either elect to record from the microphone or from the speakers, but not both.  What this means is that the completed video will have either me speaking and no feed back from Plymouth, or the other way around.  Not exactly elegant, but workable.  So my additional layer of clunk is to have Audacity running to record the incoming audio and have CamStudio record the outgoing audio and then when I edit the movie, I will splice the two together.  Clunky in the extreme!

So this has set me thinking and I have the kernel of an idea that needs exploring, developing and financing (probably).  However, if it does work it will offer a genuine synchronous virtual classroom to any teacher that wishes to peer tutor other colleagues or take classes like I have been doing this week.  If you are a programmer, financier, teacher and are interested in knowing more and exploring the possibilities, let me know.  Oh, by the way this service would be free in true web 2.0 style!

Musicovery November 14, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0, Uncategorized, Web 2.0.
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Thanks to Amanda for finding and posting this site:

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Woah… this is cool.

This really is a cool site.  It is a music site to suit your current musical tastes.  You can select by, era, mood, tempo and genre and then search for the music you want.  It is a tool that I can see not only as a way of carrying your favourite tracks with you where ever you are sitting.  I can also see it as a great tool for introducing different genres of music to students really easily. Compare and contrast music unpick the roots of music and so on, a real discovery, well done Amanda.

International Education Week – Day 1 November 12, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0, International Education Week, Web 2.0.
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What a wonderful and inspiring day today has been.  In the space of 15 hours I have taught in three different countries, without the use of a passport and international travel.

Today I have taught, as usual in New Zealand, but this afternoon I tutored a teacher in the use of Audacity.  I showed her how to download, install Audacity, record and export an audio file.  I then showed her how to  send that file via Skype to anyone that she chose to send it to; naturally she sent her first recording, via Skype, to me.  Nothing odd about that, except that she is in upper New York State!  She left that session buzzing as did I.   Sandi is a specialist music teacher and has now seen the potential of this program to be used as an assessment tool to gather evidence on the musical ablitities and progress of her students.  A free program that she did not know about has now provided the initial impetus for her to further explore the limitless possibilities of ICT and to integrate ICT into her daily lessons and crucially, completely without pain!  The possibilites for peer tutoring like this are limitless, forget dial a pizza, dial a peer!

It is now 11:16 pm and for the last hour I have been teaching graphics to a class of Year 4 students in Plymouth in the UK.  You can see the resource that I used in conjunction with a video Skype call at my skrbl pad I also recorded my end of the session using CamStudio and will post the finished video to You Tube later.   The students loved it.  The session had quite an entourage, the Principal of the school and several members of the Board of Governors were there as were the local press.

The most bizarre aspect of the whole event was having my picture taken via Skype by the lcoal press photographer!  Very odd indeed, but very global and proving that we can move beyond the boundaries of our four walls in class. With a little planning and effort we can access peer support and expert advice from all over the planet.  Our students deserve this and we should, as Captain Picard says. “Make it so.”

International Education Week November 11, 2007

Posted by davidit in collaborative, Education, Education 2.0, ICT Integration, International Education Week, Web 2.0.
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The coming week 12 November – 16 November is International Education Week.  I will be taking part in this week, although I suspect not in the way that the organisers wanted! I will not  be reading what Condie has to say, no surprises there to those that know me. I will be involved in two projects and indirectly with a third. 

Fostering links with other schools in different parts of the same city, country or even time zones requires dedication.  The idea of it is great and one that I am sure most of us would like to be part of, but it takes two to tango!  I have worked hard in the past to foster links with schools in different countries, but after the initial burst of enthusiasm, the links have often fizzled away.  Often, the only link with the partner school was the school name or city name being the same.  Generating a purpose for communicating and collaborating can often seem forced and without purpose or ownership, the thing it self seems pointless and worthless.  Now where have I heard that sentiment before..? 

As I said earlier it takes two to tango with these kind of relationships.  In the past I have got the distinct feeling that my enthusiasm for twinning or linking was being tolerated by the poor sap at the other end who unwittingly said yes, and in fact my enthusiasm for the project ended meaning more meant work for them.  For these links to work, what happens at either end has to be part of what each individual is doing in their class anyway. 

In the past e-mails were the easiest way for classes to communicate, but with the plethora of web 2.0 tools at our disposal communicating is much easier and therefore it is easier to find common ground now and to sustain relationships with other teachers and their classes.  And so armed with a bevvy of web 2.0 tools I shall be taking the plunge over the coming week and will get down and dirty in International Education Week.

My schedule for the week includes taking two graphics lessons with Year 4 Students in the UK on Monday and Wednesday.  I will be Skyping into their ICT lab and using Skrbl to demonstrate what tools they will need to be using, what the individual steps they need to take to ensure that they can complete the task set.  Ideally I would like to have a remote session on their network so that they can see the program being operated.  However with Skype giving images and sound and the two way nature of Skrbl I should be able to run through the basics of the program with them.  In addition to this I will be using CamStudio to record my end of the lesson, where I will also be using Inkscape locally on my machine.  The final result will be a video that I can post to the tohatoha blog so that the students can refer back to my instructions at a later date.  This is a clunky way of doing things and over time I am sure that I will find better ways of teaching remotely, but this week will prove that the concept of ‘dial an expert’ can work and once demonstrated will only get better.  After Wednesday’s lesson, I will post the link of the skrbl pad that I used to instruct the students.  I know that they are looking forward to this lesson.

The reason that this lesson can come about is because at either end of this partnership is a teacher who is passionate about integrating ICT, in its many guises, to facilitate learning for students.  International Education Week should be used for that purpose, connecting passionate like minded teachers from other parts of the world, overcoming the tyranny of distance and time to create invigorating and challenging learning  opportunities for their students.

Have fun if you are taking part, I know that I will!

Amazing Journeys November 4, 2007

Posted by davidit in Amazing Journeys, commute, timelapse.
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Well I have done it, I have recorded my cycle to work.  I used a Manfrotto clamp and the head from one of my tripods to mount my video camera onto the handlebars of my bike.  All was good until the last fast freewheel down Waiatarua Road to school.  It is such a poorly maintained and bumpy road that my camera jumped out of its housing and for a few seconds you see the road!  I have left all that confusion in.  I have to say that the additional weight of the camera, the clamp and the tripod head combined to impair my usual performance, you can see several cyclists racing past me!  Still it is an amazing journey even with the additional weight.

 How are yours all coming along?  Don’t forget to post your links to your videos here and I will create a wiki specifically for all of our creations.  Anyone welcome to contribute.