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August 2006

ECAWA SW PD Day - Finalised Details



Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in the PD Day. I asked for initial expressions of interest to be able to cater to the greatest number of participants possible, here now are the finalised details, which I hope will accomodate your attendance:

Date for PD: Saturday 2nd of September
Times : 9.30am - Morning Tea; 10.00am - Session 1; 11.00am - Session 2; 12.00pm - Session 3, 1.00pm - Finish.
Location: Bunbury SHS, Computer labs (Rooms: 27, 29 and 21)
Presenters: Lucy Mandyczewsky, Mike Leishman, Brad Hicks
Sessions Details: Each session will run for approximately 50 minutes and offer a choice of three activities.
Sample software: Please bring along a blank CD if you would like a copy of trial and open source software that is being used during sessions.
Cost of PD: $20.00 (this is a nominal charge to cover presenters’ travel expenses and morning tea only)
RSVP: Please confirm your intention to attend by Wednesday the 23rd of August (this week), please advise total numbers if more than one person attending. Please RSVP to .

Note: The PD day will go ahead based on confirmed numbers being sufficient to justify presenters travelling from Perth.

Please refer to the attached Word document for a detailed schedule of the activities being offered in each session.

If you have any further queries please contact me. A venue map will be sent out to all confirmed participants at the end of the week.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Brad Hicks

ECAWA SW PD Schedule

Curriculum Council adwords



Has anyone else noticed the Google Ads appearing on the Digital Chalkie Blog about the changes to the WACE?  Seems the Curriculum Council has the resources to fund a Google Adwords campaign!

New focus for GameMaker?



Ian Bogost over at Water Cooler Games discusses the release of a game based on the Paris riots.  He refers to an emerging genre, “documentary games” and leads us to discover a few we may not have encountered previously.

I’ve been increasingly interested in so-called documentary games (or docu-games), such as JFK Reloaded and Escape from Woomera and Waco Resurrection. In fact, Cindy Poremba and I wrote an article on documentary games that should be out in the coming months (click over to her blog for more links on the topic, to which she is devoting her Ph.D. research)

I’m really interested in the rationale and development approaches to these games - most seem to be simple single player games at this stage but I’m sure over time this will shift into multi-user environments.

I’m thinking that the use of Gamemaker could be turned to making more socially aware games - most of the discussions of Gamemaker at education conferences are about learning to make the games and the coding sequences as they relate to programming - but why not layer another level of learning upon the process?  This follows on form my recent mention of Thomas Malaby’s New Approach to Gaming and subsequent mentions over at socialstudygames.

DOPA - Deleting Online Predators Act is Dopey!



There is quite a flurry of discussion on US bloggging and eductaion sites about the passing of the DOPA.  I suspect it is a case of well-intentioned ignoramuses making policy that throws the baby out with the bath water.

We all know the benefits of engaging students through online interaction.  Look at the project being started by Drama Australia - Vineblogs (an exciting implementation of Wordpress MU) to see the potential.

However, in the great ttradition of prohibition the DOPA over steps the mark  The debaes that are emerging are multi-pronged - the common threads are gainsayers and do-gooders who seem ill-informed about the technology in question.  The do-gooders seem to be fired up by the intention of the act rather than the efficacy - the gainsayers include most of the mre lucid arguments but there are always some crackpots about.

One of the most engaging starting points I found was was Henry Jenkins - What DOPA means for Education - I love the implication (dopamines)!!  He refers to a significant thesis he was reading and how the educational impact of the research by Ravi Purushotma is likely to be overlooked because it addresses educational uses of social networking.

Henry refers to some of the more interesting discussions on the topic - where you can also see some of the more vox pop responses in the comments section - admittedly this article does cite Henry as a major critic of the DOPA.

To my mind Henry’s viewpoint holds a lot of value - especially when he comments thus:

I have made the argument that if supporters of DOPA really wanted to protect young people from online predators, they would teach social networking in the classroom, modeling safe and responsible practices, rather than lock it outside the school and thus beyond the supervision of informed librarians and caring teachers…

But Ravi’s thesis suggests something more — we are closing off powerful technologies that could be used effectively to engage young people with authentic materials and real world cultural processes. Here, social networking functions not as a media literacy skill but as a tool for engaging with traditional school subjects in a fresh new way.

Henry laments the impact of the DOPA and I think we need to pay some heed here in Australia is we are to avoid the same nett outcome of internet hysteria.  Internet predatrion can only occur with an ill-informed or ignorant user base - the DOPA ensures that students will remain exactly in that demographic…

This artcile also points to some interesting uses of Web 2.0 - unfortunately the Digital Chalkie slipped by his notice!  But here are some links to projects…

 Ravi has done more research than anyone I know about into how teachers are using this technology now and what purposes it might serve in the future. He has prepared his thesis as a multimedia web document that mixes sound, video, and text in ways that really puts his ideas into practice.

…a recent blog post, more and more teachers are discovering the value of getting kids to learn through remixing elements of their culture….

Here, for example, is a middle school Literature teacher who has students prepare profile pages for the characters in Shakespeare’s Richard III. This exercise offers students a rich opportunity to dig deeper into fictional characters and understand what makes them tick.

Or here’s the testimonial of a writing instructor who incorporated blogging into his 8th grade class and saw immediate shifts in the ways that children thought about their assignments…

We learned about this teacher’s project through Weblogg-ed which provides an important community resource for educators deploying these kinds of technologies in their classes.

Let’s hope that Australian authorities have a little more insight before they start wading in and destroying amazing educational possibilities.

web 2.0 technologies



labdien lurkers

ever wondered why afl coach kevin sheedy has a 3 on his shirt ? seems stupid. the essendon football club is proudly brought to you by the number 3. however, it is not so much the name of a phone company dreamed up by clever marketing people so much as the third generation of online technologies that are tied up in the so called 3 phones.

the first being static web pages interpreted by a browser on your machine and the second, being the point of this posting, being the set of technologies like php and python that operate scripts on a server before sending the return back to you.

most typically, they operate databases. and there is a whole mob, called the open source community that supply it all for free.

now, the first php script was written by rasmus lehrdorf and it simply kept track of who visited his web site. the next thing he did was write a guestbook, so folks could leave him messages. this was an enormous advsance ‘cos it made the website *interactive*.

the word quickly spread around the open source community, and people started to make logs online of what they were thinking and doing; web log became blog. being pesky little nerds, there was an explosion of interactive web pages, all working off php and its clones and you can check ‘em out at

these technologies were termed the web 2.0 technologies and provided a vehicle for online communities to share and collaborate. names like joomla, elgg and lately druple come to mind. these are based on the one trick ponies like forums, wikis and bloggers. of course, being open source, folks can incorporate these into their projects. a sort of black hole emerges, incorporating all of these into one mega app.

enter moodle.

moodle is just fantastic. termed in the top ten best educational innovations on the planet. anytime you have six stubbies and a couple of hours i will tell you about moodle.

now, back on earth, i have been mucking around with these web 2.0 apps for a while. feel free to mosey on over to my joomla based content management system at to see what i have been doing.

specifically, lob into my wiki to see how i have been attempting to write a textbook on liquids in two double periods. see, by getting forty kids to each write a paragraph or two, i can quickly generate text to read. by making them do a draft first, i can pay attention to plaigarism etc etc etc.

i can discuss how my project like the fabulous falcon flyer went on my  forum.

or, i can try to teach kids in broome how to program in logo using my moodle site (thhp://

computer studies => languages = intro to logo

if a teacher wants to knock himself out writing course material all power to him, but it sort of is his. it occurs to me that purveyors of fine trade agreements have tied things up so tight, that reading from a longmans book out loud probably breaches some sort of copyright involving broadcasting. let alone recording it to download to a kid’s phone so he can use the mp3 player to read to him as he checks out the text. oops a web 3.0 technology

they said i was mad building a castle in this swamp, but like i suggested in 1995 that email and web pages might have a future, i just wonder where this current rash of technologies will go. computers have only been in schools thirty years, so we can’t rush into these things.

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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!
  • 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
  • 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!