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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.

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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

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.

Ulearn 09 June 1, 2009

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I have started to submit my submissions for Ulearn 09. I have decided that this year I will try to present at more breakouts than I attend. So far I have submitted two proposals and am working on some others. I really enjoy presenting.

I wonder though how useful, long term, these show and tell sessions really are? I have found that I get positive feedback from my sessions at the end of each one that I have run. I certainly have not had someone come up to me and say that I have just wasted 90 minutes of their time! I expect the average conference attendee is too polite and the anonymous paper feedback forms do not indicate dissatisfaction. However, I never hear from my audience again, despite me encouraging them to comment on my blog or e-mail me for more assistance. Do they use my tools once back in school? Are my support materials so thorough that I have dealt with every single possible query? I doubt it. So just how useful to the ordinary punter are these sessions? Is it simply a case that even though attendees leave Ulearn enthused, the enthusiasm is dissipated by the realities and restrictions of the school environment they return to? Do the ideas illustrated at Ulearn remain just that, ideas? I doubt that, but the reality must be a hybrid of the above.

Then there is the perpetual worry about pitching the session, where should I pitch it? I fear that Ulearn breakout presenters are stuck in a perpetual model of pitching their support at entry level or first time users. If this is the case, we will be forever stuck in a model of showcasing the latest idea or tools for new users, teaching skills that could be learned from 30 minutes in Google and on You Tube. We never see practical sessions at Ulearn labelled “advanced Blender users should attend” for example, why not? We never see abstracts that say “integrating Inspiration for elite users.’ If Ulearn is the premier ICT PD conference for New Zealand teachers, then I think that we need to see this kind of differentiation. Otherwise presenters like me and the plethora of other highly skilled attendees have to resort to Google and YouTube for our PD and use the breakouts as a pulpit to reach out to the yet to be converted. A perpetual beta of PD.

Remote lessons with Dimdim and Skype March 4, 2009

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After a break of over 6 months, the tohatoha collaboration has gone live again. The break has been forced upon us because of a series of events beyond our control. Helen’s class had their summer vacation and no sooner had they come back in September, when Helen had a car crash that ensured that she was at home recuperating for the majority of term 1 in the UK, then it was our southern hemisphere summer holidays and the rest they say is history! So after a long break we are back.

Last night was the first time that Helen and I have put into action something that we have been working on for a long time. We used a free meeting service called dimdim. This little tool is fantastic, it not only enables each member of the chat to see and hear the meeting organiser, up to three other members of the meeting can also be audio contributors too. However the particular features of dimdim that I like are that a whole class of students can log in to my meeting or lesson and I can not only see who has logged on I can chat with each one of them either publically or privately via the text message options. Better yet I can also share my desktop with the entire meeting, so that I can demonstrate how to use any program that is on my computer and in this particular instance from a distance of 12 000 miles away!

Last night we used Skype as the audio and video bridge and dimdim as the “interactive whiteboard.” I ran two lessons with two different classes and the final lesson ended at 00:14 NZDST. Today I am pretty tired! In one of the lessons there were 33 individual students plus Helen all logged into the same meeting and although there was a short delay between my actions on the screen turning up on the screens in front of the students, the delay was not long enough to affect the lesson flow. At this great distance I was able to teach students how to import live data into Excel with ease. Lesson two is next Wednesday starting at 22:00 NZDST so if you wish to join the meeting/lesson and see how dimdim could work for you, let me know. You can see how the lesson looked from a UK perspective at the tohatoha blog.

Ancient Rome in 3-D, so what? November 13, 2008

Posted by davidit in Education 2.0, student engagement, Web 2.0.
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Google Earth have just launched a new layer in their Gallery, it is called ‘Ancient Rome 3-D’ and it does exactly what is says on the tin.  The Google Guys have created a complete rendtion of the famous landmarks and buildings of Ancient Rome in 3-D for us to all explore.  It is brilliant. You can read the development of the project here.

The so what of the title is… So how could we use this tool in a similar fashion to make the history of the locality that we live in come alive?  I am currently working on a project with a year 5 class where we are using Google Sketchup to create a 3-D model of our school to put into Google Earth, this is exciting enough.  However imagine re-creating a Maori pa site in 3-D that once graced the sides of many of the volcanoes in the Auckland caldera!  How much more dynamic and relevant a field trip would be if you could also envisage the current grassy hills as a vibrant communtity.  I think that there is much scope and potential to this idea.  Making history relevant and leap off of  the pages of dusty tomes is always a challenge to history teachers, however to synthesise the past with modern technology, all a the bargain basement price of $0, is surely too good an opportunity to pass up.  The next extrapolation of this would be to mash up Google Earth and Second Life to recreate events from the past in the environment that they took place…  Would this be considered a primary or secondary source if the detailing was accurate?  The potential is very exciting.

Any community, building, structure, event from the past could be treated this way, even battle fields!  History experienced in a  3-D world that can be moved through and examined from differing angles, to help decipher why certain actions were, or were not taken, what a concept, what a tool!  Any takers to help me build a pa?

See what can be done with free stuff! November 8, 2008

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Face of the new Dutch 5 Euro coin

I have just read the following article from one of my tech feeds.  This wonderful design was primarily made from Python software, one of the major engines of Blender and in addtion, The Gimp and Inkscape featured strongly as the creative tools required to produce this winning design.  This coin is now in production and you can see how the artist developed his ideas on his blog.  A win for Open Source software I would say. Total cost of investment to the artist? $0.  0 in any currency is a whole lot of nothing!  So what does this mean for education?  It means that there is a lot out there that can be used to create stunning opportunities for learning, for developing thinking skills and on a limited budget. Software that costs nothing but allows the individual to be as creative as this, has to be the way forward for schools.  So what are you waiting for? Get downloading, installing and enabling your students to be creative, problem solve, think and be engaged.  All for the princely sum of $0.

Obverse of new coin

Obverse of new coin

Scratching with New Entrants November 5, 2008

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Scratch solar system to be explored by New Entrants

Scratch solar system to be explored by New Entrants

I have been working with one of the New Entrant classes on the Supertanker all year and this term they are exploring space. I have worked with them to develop spatial language, forward, backward, turn left and turn right.   We have done practical activities in the playground where I was a robot that could only travel on the lines of a four square court painted on the ground and I could only move if they gave me the right instructions.  It forced them to have to use the right language of forward and backward, left and right in order to move and involved a lot of experimentation!  We have also used a Lego NXT robot to visit planets that they have created, the students, with my help, put in forward and turn right commands into the memory and estimated distance and turn in order that they might get the NXT to successfully land on their planets. They are now starting to understand…. kind of. This week they have been working with a grid of squares and using arrows have been plotting how many squares forward and how many squares to the left and right they need to move in order to get to planets already drawn on their grids. This is all leading up to them starting some work next week to using Scratch.

Scratch is an object oriented programming language that allows students to clip commands together like Lego bricks in order for them to control an avatar, in our case a rocket that has to blast off from the blue planet and visit the other three planets in the image that I have created for them above. I am hoping that by showing the students blocks that they can use in Scratch to  control the rocket in the picture,  they will be able to navigate their way around the planetary system I have created for them.

The Scratch programming blocks the students will be allowed to use

The Scratch programming blocks the students will be allowed to use