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I know that dot com February 24, 2009

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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iknowthat11

One of the crew of the Supertanker has just come back from a course and has been shown this fantastic website:  http://iknowthat.com There are hundreds of activities to choose from and within each activity there are leveled examples to suit most students.  I particularly like the thinking skills section with the widgets.  In these activities you have to make a marble run that ensures that the marbles hit their targets.  On each level you are given a certain number of parts to make the run and succeed, some good problem solving comes of it!

The students will love it.  I am already finding them addictive myself.  Thanks Grant for sharing.

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Learning @ Schools 09 – Unconference session February 23, 2009

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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I will be attending this year’s conference in Rotorua with 15 members of our cluster, 9 of whom will be presenting their own sessions, considering that we have only been going a year, this level of contribution back to the clusters is phenomenal.  I will not be presenting this year as I will be sherpherding and supporting 9 very anxious individuals as they make their first forays into presenting to their peers.

I will however be running an unconference session on the Friday morning.  The venue has yet to be allocated, however to make it interesting I have invited Helen from the UK to join us to add an international perspective to our discussions.  The session is intended as a sharing one, where ideas and web2.0 resources are shared with the group.  I also intend it to be a problem solving session, where attendees can also ask if there are any online tools, software, freeware etc that could be integrated into some aspect of their teaching and learning environment.

If you are in Rotorua and want to come along, please register here.  If you are not in Rotorua and you want to attend, please join the Skype discussion.  You can find me at dakinane on Skype in your request to become one of my contacts please quote this session, so that I know you are a genuine contact.  The session is timed for 90 minutes from 9:30AM NZDST Friday 27 February.  It would be great to have you join in.

See you then.

International Student Collaboration February 20, 2009

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assembly

By MELANIE VERRAN - East And Bays Courier | Friday, 20 February 2009

Following on from the success of our assembly this week we held our mufti day today to raise money for the victims of the recent bush fires in Australia.  The biggest irony of the day was reserved for the weather, it rained heavily all day!

Our endeavours last week made it onto the front page of the local paper here in Auckland.  Today was intended as a right of reply for the students at Serpell to join in with our assembly.  The staff at Serpell have been battling all week with, what seems from this distance, draconian filtration rules for access to the Internet.  It seems that these rules are non negotiable  and are centrally set. My experiences this last two weeks with the Victorian web filters have left me with the view that I am glad not to be working in Australia as an ICT specialist, as it seems that  the vast majority of the Internet tools that I consider to be crucial to integration, collaboration and relevant to student learning are barred from my colleagues over there.  Just how does Education Victoria think that its students are going to collaborate with students beyond its boundaries when Skype and Mogulus are barred?  How does it expect its teachers to be innovative, connected and collaborative with e-mail and MS office as their primary tools? How are students to research current events and scrutinise them from local, national and international perspectives when You Tube and Google Images are universally blocked?  The pen pal method of communication is passe and even if it is with e-mail, it is still a forced and distant form of communication when compared to the immediacy of video and audio.  I know that the Victorian Government does have a good video conferencing network , but as I have said before, video conferencing requires two sets of equipment and limits partnerships to those that have the expensive equipment in the first place.  With a $50 webcam today I broadcast our assembly live to our online tv station and recorded for offline viewing, however this video will not be able to be viewed by those that it was intended for, because Mogulus is blocked from Victorian Schools.

It had been our intention to set up a video call via Skype so that the students in Serpell could be seen and see us in the school hall as they shared their views. I am assured that a tech has been working on getting Skype installed and working on one machine in Serpell, he has been at it for over a week and can not get past the Victorian firewall…  Video was off today.  In the end we were sent a slideshow that the students had created, and through my Skype out account we called their land line and via our PA system we could hear each other and they talked us through their presentation and video.  The most powerful part of the whole assembly was at the end of the presentation when students from the Supertanker were questioning their peers in Australia.  With such valuable exchanges being experienced by both sets of students, it still leads me to question why the Victorian government would want to make this so difficult to achieve?  Do I want to continue to build a collaborative e-bridge between Serpell and the Supertanker?  The answer is unequivocally yes, but I am painfully aware that if it were someone else trying to bully their way around these draconian filtration decisions to get students to collaborate, they would have given up long ago and to the detriment of the students.

Our mufti day raised $1900 for the Red Cross appeal in Australia a phenomenal amount for a mufti day and especially one that has taken place so early in the term, with all the associated expenses of the start of the year and the current financial climate.

You can see the assembly from our perspective by visiting the Supertankers own TV station (http://mogulus.com/mpstv) and clicking on the “On Demand'” button at the bottom of the viewer and you will be able to select the Assembly video.

You can also see the interviews conducted by the Serpell students here.

Vocaroo – Voice recorder February 17, 2009

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Vocaroo user interface

Vocaroo user interface

I found this little utility called Vocaroo the other day and while it is not Voicethread, what I love about it is its simplicity.  It is such a simple interface that even the youngest student can be freed from the tyranny of typing and is able to share their thoughts simply and quickly.  The screen dump above is what you see as soon as you enter the site.  There are no complicated log ons, just click to record.  Once recording has been done, you can then either listen or re-record, these options are really large button icons, so no hunting for options.  Once you are happy with your recording there are then two options.  One option is to insert hyperlink so that it can be sent in an e-mail or the other option is an embedable widget that can be inserted into a blog or wiki etc.

I used this tool with a class of year four students yesterday.  They had never seen it before, but with its simple interface I taught four students how to use it, record their own voice and then embed the code onto their wiki page.  I then got these four experts to then tutor individual students how to do the task I had just shown them.  The end result is that within 45 minutes 90% of the class had recored and embedded their poems, thanks to the ease of use of Vocaroo.  I also now have four experts who can teach how to use this tool.

Vocaroo enables students to share their thoughts, pose questions, give considered responses really quickly.  I think that this tool can enable the momentum of ideas of the moment. Vocaroo is  a really good tool that has been well thought out, without pretensions of being anything else.  “It does what it says on the tin.”

Integrated Connections February 13, 2009

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The Supertanker has endeavoured to be partnered with several schools over the last few years.  We have connections with schools in Singapore, with Woodford Junior Schools in Plymouth, with Sandi in New York and with Serpell School in Victoria.  Our connecton with Serpell has been the longest established and the least technologically advanced, it seems that the nearer we are the less likely we are to resort to web 2.0  technology to communicate.  In Serpell’s case this is probably more due to the draconian filtration policies of the Victorian government. Simply put it the Victorian policy is one of impediment and not one of enabling,  I could go on about that, but will refrain.

Serpell school is not where it says it is on Google Maps, check out my post related to my November visit to Serpell.  Serpell School is however on the eastern fringes of Melbourne, nearly where Google Maps says that it is.  As we settled back into our new year we have been re-establishing our links with individual staff members at Serpell and starting to plan our collaborations for this year.  Then the fires started.  Several members of staff at Serpell have had a close shave with the fires, but thankfully none have suffered any kind of loss.  However in the wider staff and student population  there are many who know of others who have not fared so well…

In the spirit of partnership and collaboration we on the Supertanker have decided run a mufti day next Friday to raise money for the disaster appeal and send it directly to our friends and colleagues at Serpell.  To kick start this initiative, we ran an interactive assembly today that really put the events in Victoria on a personal scale for the students on the Supertanker and gave focus and relevance to what they will be doing during next week and beyond the mufti day.

The following was played at our assembly:

Our assembly had many elements, we had Google Earth running on the big screen to put our location in relation to Melbourne into perspective.  We then changed the scale and using this Google Map we zoomed in and identified some of the fires in relation to Serpell School.  After this we then showed the aboves videos from YouTube to give a visual impact to the whole proceedings and culminated in a Skype call to the Principal of Serpell school.  This call was played via our PA system so that all could hear.  Several students took part in the conversation and Tom’s question “What can we do to help?’ literally took the wind out of the sails of the Principal at Serpell. Pulling all this information together into one session illustrated to many of the crew of the Supertanker the power of the Internet to pull information together in such a way to make distant events relevant.

Next week we will have yet another interactive assembly and this time the students from Serpell will be sharing their experiences of recent events with us.  All of this will be recored, re-mixed and re-published on a blog or wiki that we will be creating with the staff and students of Serpell school.

First Google Earth and now Google Oceans February 3, 2009

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Google have just announced the latest upgrade to their Google Earth program.  Now it is possible explore under the oceans and visit ship wrecks, volcanoes etc.  Check out the following links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7865519.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7865407.stm

I expect that it will be possible to visit the Titanic and other such documented wrecks in a 3-D environment.  The mid-Atlantic trench and undersea vents would be good places to explore plate tectonics.

They have also improved the 3D quality of their Google Mars data and in addition  have added some other really cool utilities to the existing land data for Google Earth, including timelapse images to see change over time for certain areas of the planet.

Apart from global domination, what is next on the horizon for Google?  I know what I am off to do, upgrade my copy of Google Earth…