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May 2006

WA teachers using blogs

16

May

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve visited a few schools around WA as part of an AGQTP project sponsored by AISWA and I’ve been surprised to find some teachers using blogs who have not used much ICT technology previously.

At first glance it seems like a jump in at the deep end but on reflection not so at all.

An interesting feature of web 2 applications is the cost-benefit ratio. A teacher can be trained to use a blog in an hour and get many of the benefits of having a sophisticated learning platform without the pain.

If they are new to ICT in the classroom they may have no idea how painful it has been for the last 30 years (showing age) and so think blogs are simple. (Happy to elaborate on this on request).

If you go back a long way (as I do) it is easy to assume that you need to have done all the previous bits before trying the new ones but newbies haven’t heard of Wordstar and should be grateful. They can just hop into blogs, wikis and podcasts and forget the history and the pain.

This has been a bit of a revelation for me. I was thinking that the blogs, wikis and podcasts were something to do at the end of the ICT integration journey but maybe they are the start!

Also consider Flickr for photo storage and publishing. Same concept and lots more similar web 2 apps.

Think 90:10 rule or was it 80:20?


Think Free

11

May

This week’s big news is Think Free. Office on the web. Free and very interesting. I think this is the way of the future - lots of bandwidth and web apps.

Have a look. I’ll write more later.

http://www.thinkfree.com

Bryn



a brief history of robotics, numbat style

06

May

here is a brief introduction to how we got robotics off to some sort of start over here in the west a few years ago. i wrote this for a list run by educational experience and though it may be of interest to readers

Introduction

for me (mark weber), the journey began when my daughter enrolled in primary school. I was really keen to get her into some form of komputaring and in grade 2 we started with simple email projects to places like email to antarctica.
the next step (a complete failure) was to interest primary school teachers in some sort of programing, in some mad attempt to get them interested in mathematics.

about as realistic as the dockers winning a final.

anyway, i was also teaching information systems in high school, and i met the late jim fuller at a conference. he had designed a board to plug into a printer. we could see leds turn on as the letters were set to the printer. from there, he developed some interesting exercises in teaching kids about ascii. (http://www.southwest.com.au/~jfuller/)

remember, there were the days before windows xp, and most of this stuff was done at the command line using turbo pascal and basic. and of course, we wrote it all up using wordstar.

why logo ?

we chose logo (http://www.softronix.com) because

  • old croc teachers from the seventies had some exposure during their training
  • it was free
  • it was supported
  • it looked clean and would appeal to girls

enter the peripheral

it then occured to jim, that you could pulse a signal through a cable, and connect it to a special device called a stepper motor. these motors were salvaged from old 5.25 inch disk drives. it wasn’t long before he had designed a board based on a darlington driver to drive these motors, and we were plunged into finding how to program steppers and apply them to simple projects. jim designed a puppet called woody that jiggled around.

mike leishman and jim fuller developed both pascal and vb code that would run these steppers using jim’s board.

genesis

another group connected with uwa saw these ideas and began projects of there own. a lecturer in the electronic engineering department, keith godfrey, designed a board thet ran four steppers from a printer port, and developed a much more sophisticated puppet. they even designed and produced a turtle.

these both ran on mswlogo as well as c.

rcx bricks

around this time, lego produced their rcx bricks. under the sponsorhip of educational experience, a lady named helen deacon in this state have made tremendous advances promoting legotechnics and things like the robocup and robo soccer.
paul dench started mucking around with a version of logo that progammed the brick in direct mode. so we hung a tower over a table and drove a brick around the floor, controlled from the keyboard.

conclusion

we lost two pioneers for educational computing in 2005, jim fuller and ken hopkins. the genesis group broke up, and computing generally in this state has taken a bit of a nosedive.

however, if i were predicting a direction to go to, i would look to picaxe.
in an effert to promote robotics in britain, the oil and gas industry sponsored a project that provides low cost electronics, projects and worksheets. (http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/). it is handy to introduce this with a course in qbasic (yeah, qbasic. command line users, unite !!) .
you can also look into scorpio technology (http://www.scorpiotechnology.com.au/) to find some cool devices. i used some of the ideas to produce the falcon flyer, a racer that was made from discarded cdrom drives
also, look in at http://www.numbatconspiracy.com/moodle for some more details


Sketchup now Free

02

May

Google have launched a free version of Sketchup. Together with a Warehouse to share products and the ability to add GIS co-ordinates and locate it on Google Earth.

http://www.sketchup.com/

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Recent Comments
  • Melanie: Thank you Kim! I will definitely check out this link and see the developments for higher education on the SLED.
  • Kim Flintoff: We have been using Second Life in a range of situations. Built a Wound Care Clinic with Curtin University for training nurses about wound care and the relationship between hand-washing and infection in a...
  • Melanie: Hello Paul, I am wondering, have continued to utilize SecondLife? Do you find that it has better user-friendly features? Do you find that your courses are easier to teach in this format? Is the VLC classroom a...
  • Melanie: We may agree to disagree on the instant gratification society term, however when you look at new social network devices that are connected to mobile devices – there is an urgency that is attached to those...
  • Kim Flintoff: "instant gratification society" - I'm not sure I'm part of that society. Educational institutions do not make decisions - people do. Which people in educational institutions will cling dearly to email? Email...
  • Melanie: I agree that email is outdated in most settings. However, many educational institutions will cling dearly to email due to the aspect of "waiting before sending." Email is still a resource and an appropriate tool...
  • Maryjane: This is incredible and we need to spread it to school districts. It was posted two years ago and I've not seen new policies or classroom innovations happen since then. People are afraid of what the kids might do....
  • Suzanne: I cannot help but think that this trend, while reflecting archetypal youth rejection of all things "adult," is also related to the digital immigrant/digital native thing. The young are very flexible, very willing...
  • Maryjane: This made me laugh outloud. School districts are still discussing whether they'll give access to students for email; do all their business by email instead of walking next door and talking to someone; and wonder...
  • Nick Smith: This video was exactly what I needed/wanted to hear. As a student working towards being a teacher, I find it great to not only revolutionize teaching, but to re-invent it all together. One woman mentioned...
  • Scott Merrick: Hey there, feel free to unpublish this comment--it's more or less for your own info: This is to let you know that Digital Chalkie has been nominated for Blog-o-the-Month at the Blogger's Hut on Second Life...
  • Laura Seabrook: I have one other question, which I can't find answer to on the Murku wiki (no doubt the answer is right there and I keep missing it) - where/how does one get it?
  • Laura Seabrook: Murku looks really interesting (and I shall definitely try it), though the examples could do with some improvement, as per my comments above. Positioning can be important - see the Blambot article at...
  • Kim Flintoff: Murku is designed to facilitate the construction of comics based on content in a Second Life TM, ie SL, environment. Murku will be of interest to those who have always dreamt of creating their own comics but...
  • Laura Seabrook: Actually there was a typo in my previous comment. I meant to write wouldn't be, not would as far as being the first to do an SL comic. I discovered Plywood shortly after starting my own, which can be found...
  • Kim Flintoff: Hi Laura, The example in the article wasn't intended to be a highly refined product - it literally took me 60 seconds to create with some random images grabbed from my hard drive. The points you make about...
  • Laura Seabrook: I started doing Second Life comics late in 2007 ( though I didn't use Comic Life - rather I drew bits, used screenshots and put it together using PaintShopPro and Fireworks (for speech balloons etc). I knew...
  • michael chalk: Great stuff Paul .. lots of good points here. You are right about the ABC - they're really leading the charge into the new era of digital participation aren't they! My favourite thing they do is the way they...
  • Ken Allan: Kia ora Kim! I don't think it is anything to do with HOW we communicate. It is more to do with how kids see email. It is simply to do with the age-old feature of youngsters avoiding ANYTHING that is associated...
  • Aaron Fisher: This is very cool! It is amazing how those principles from long ago are relevant today, just in different forms. Students do learn better by doing, no matter the subject. We teachers need to do a better job...
  • Julie Carney: Thanks for this post, and for posters like Paul who have linked and commented on resources for educators to use. As is the case with most things, it seems the right combination of educator/program/developer...
  • Debbie: I, too am upset that this website has been taken off-line. My special education students loved it, and I knew I could always find an activity geared their levels and abilities. I hope that it will soon be running...
  • Andrew Westerman: Each LO costs $20 000. So, if 20 students use that learning object for 0.1 of an hour (6 minutes), that's 2 student / hours @ $10 000 per hour. If 2000 students use that LO for 0.2 of an hour (12...
  • Cathy Nash: Learning Objects are one of the tools in a good teacher's toolbox. It is simplistic to lay them aside as past it. A poor teacher can make a pencil look dull and a great teacher may just achieve great things...
  • Suzanne: I am so upset that this site has been removed, however I fully understand why. My Year One children and my pre-primary children loved using the site and it catered for all ability levels in my class. i do hope...
  • Julie: I am sorry that Rainbow Maths has been forced off the web. My daughter loved it so it is missed. Any idea when Jenny may put it back on the web with added security measures to prevent it being copied etc?
  • Jen Zupp: I totally agree with Jenny's reason to take it off. I have spent thousands of hours keeping my website up which is pretty much a directory of quality websites I find online. If I had created a masterpiece like...
  • Kristy Dickson: I agree with Paul, $20 000, $80 000, or whatever they cost, kids are losing interest. I think they have their place for a bit of drill and practice occasionally, but I wouldn't pay for them. Motivation and...
  • Ingrid: I'm distraught that rain forest maths is not available. My 3/4 kids loved it. My kids loved it and it is so easy to cater for their abilities with the different levels. Anyone know if there's a chance it will be up...
  • Azam Ali: my kids love this site, they come on rainforest to learn. Anyone trying to stop kids education is playing with our future. Shame on people who are greedy for money and dont care for the future.
  • Bryn Jones: Channel 4 in the UK has £50million to develop new media content. Ewan McIntosh has some role in it as Digital Commissioner for Scotland. Jobs open now! http://www.4ip.org.uk/
  • Thomas Goodwin: Paul Reid has pointed educators in the right direction (create and collaborate) however he started from an incorrect premise; The Learning Federation's Digital Resources are completely different from the...
  • Patricia Corby: Phew, what a terrific wealth of useful info here! Thanks Paul. In reference to this comment "They need to move from static to dynamic in form" as an overall comment it is relevant but being fair some are...
  • Paul Reid: If everyone's Math is correct the Teaching & Learning Federation pays $20k for jpeg pictures Learning Objects! eg these ones shown here http://www.thelearningfederati on.edu.au/for_teachers/what...
  • Janice Millard: its not fair that my class can't go on rain forest maths because of other people copying we were going to do a test on it but it was closed down my class was very upset not very happy!