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Archived Posts from “Education”

How to start a parent-funded laptop program?



Paul Fuller was our special guest in a live Digital Chalkie webcast in this conversation around how one globally aware primary school got their one-to-one parent funded notebook program off the ground please tune-in. Paul explains about the students’ reactions, planning, financing, technical and pedagogical shifts.

Below is a podcast of Digital Chalkie webcast #6: How to start a parent funded notebook programme in a Primary School recorded on 8 p.m (WST) Thursday 13 2008:

We find out what happens if you give a kid their own device with access to the connected world? Why have Rudd/Gillard and Smith got it right with this policy of trying to get computers into the hands of students? Or do you have a different opinion?

This is a slideshow from one of the presentations Paul gave to the school community:

To get the discussion rolling before the webcast, I posted this text below to a few email lists, sourced from this website here. This piece was posted on the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website during the spring of 2003. It was an anonymous post by a student, but is VERY powerful.

Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future. I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready…?
I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you have to wait until it’s graded.
I will learn how to care for and harness technology by using it – you will read about it.
I will see science concepts in 3D – you will do the odd problems.
I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world – you will share yours with the class.
I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period.
I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied.
I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker.
I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.
I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom.
I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.
The cost of a leased laptop per year? - $250
The cost of teacher and student training? – Expensive
The cost of well educated Australian citizens and workforce? - Priceless

Here are some key points made by Paul on the programme:

- OGPS is a public primary (K-7) with only 120 students

- We are rolling out laptops for all students 4 - 7 (60 students)

- We are using the base model MacBooks with combo drives.

- Most are parent funded (combination of leasing and purchasing)

- Families in financial hardship (approx 20%) are provided with a
laptop by the school for use during school hours only. Many of these
families are already seeing the value of a take-home laptop and many
are trying to find the funds if they can.

- Parents are given the choice of purchasing outright or leasing.
Machines will be upgraded every 2 years.

- Prices include AppleCare extended warranty and insurance.

- Families who purchased outright won’t be able to claim any tax
rebate, as it starts in 2008-09. My understanding is that families who
lease will be able to claim the component of their lease costs that
fall within that financial year.

- I won’t disclose any of the pricing at this stage (commercial-in-
confidence) except to say that we were very happy with the way that
Apple supported the school.

- As always, the key to this process has been getting buy-in from
staff and parents.

- And before you say “But my school can’t afford that” …. remember
we are a dirt poor public school one suburb across from Maddington.
What we do have is an amazing school community where the staff,
parents, kids and Principal understand and support what we are trying
to do.

- Someone described us last year as a ’small community school with  a
global vision’. I like that :)

School community WiFi for Rudd’s ed revolution?



Great - we finally have computers making their way into the hands of Australian students. But what if they don’t have access to the internet that will really equip then as 21C learners when they get home? (I’ve written more about the Meraki solution on my own blog here.)

Kevin Rudd Education RevolutionIn this scenario, I have been thinking about how schools can provide equitable access to students from a wide demographic range to the internet. With Kevin Rudd’s promise that students from years 9-12 will receive a computer of their own it is important that consideration is given to how they will connect to the network that connects them to their 21C world. One powerful solution is to set-up a secure WiFi network across the geographic area that surrounds the school community. While I realise that not all kids go to school’s nearby, a large proportion still do.

Meraki school wi-fi

Let’s say a school with Rudd’s promised 100Mbps connection was to share that connection with student’s within the schools geographic radius this could be a very effective way of providing access and moderating content usage. It is one thing to provide students with these machines but unless we empower them with the ability to use them as network devices we are missing the point.

Birds onlineThis may seem like a pipe dream but there is precedence of a similar projects here in Australia. The Victorian Department of Education has set-up the ‘World’s largest’ Wi-Fi network with a server backbone built their own Linux kernel. With 540,000 students, 42,000 teachers, more than 200,000 computers, and 40,000 notebooks spread across the 1700 sites, DET VIC last year allocated A$6.5 million (US$4.8 million) to implement a wireless network aimed at easing connectivity. I’d be interested to find out if student access to this network extends beyond school hours or are they sending students home with what equates to notepads without a pencil to write on it. Positively, according to this article DET Victoria has experienced a minimum 20 percent saving against cabling and 50 percent due to open source software.

Wireless4AllThis idea of the school providing network access for students beyond school-hours led me in search for a solution. While the USB modems provided by mobile carriers are becoming effective tools for business they are still way to expensive for school use. However, we now have the ability to create secure easily access to WiFi networks via one node on the network by way of relaying that signal. One device and service that impressed me on this search is Meraki. This company has focused on changing the economics of access since its beginning as a MIT Ph.D. research project that provided wireless access to graduate students. One can take the tour on how Meraki works here. While many, large scale WiFi projects have been plagued by poor and unreliable coverage, Meraki seems to be different - even if it is using 801.2b/g and not the new ‘n’ standard.

Some of their city networks include the City of San Francisco and City of Prestonsburg. Meraki has over 5,000 networks today. The Victorian DET has

Meraki comes with a suite of monitoring tools such as shown in the graphic below that would be valuable for school administrators.


I like their choice of name too:

Meraki (may-rah-kee) is a Greek word that means doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing.

In some sectors the knee-jerk reaction to this suggestion will be to disregard this as a way of schools being able to exert influence in the family home. On the other hand others may thinks this is great if the students access only the content in the walled gardens that surround school content. But 21C kids need access to their own personal learning environment (PLE) which is the internet. While we teachers would have ridden miles to get to the local library. These kids will travel metres to the nearest open wireless network. We need to remember how fast the nature of access is changing and to approach the opportunities with a educative view rather than a legislative one - an organic one in fact. Real nature is not green. It is out of control. Our technological world has become so intricate and uncontrollable that it has become a nature of its own.

I could go on but this would be another post on open-source and why it is the backbone of the flat-world we now live in. So, I leave this thought process here for the moment and value some input from others to see if this is a viable possibility.

Collaborative OzProjects online 2008



Planning for 2008 already!? I’m a big fan of the social constructivist collaborative tools that EdNA promotes via their OzProjects. It is a best practice online learning environment where students can develop their understanding while collaborating with students around Australia to generate meaning around various topics. This comes via Kerrie Smith at


Are your students interested in participating in Australia wide online projects in 2008? This is part of EdNA’s OzProjects/Global Education projects strategy for 2008. They are looking for teachers interested in hosting or managing an online school projects in 2008.

Teachers could either participate in an existing project, or host a new online project. For example during February and March 2008 they plan to focus on three topics:

· Antarctica
· Sea Week (2 - 8 March)
· International Year of Sanitation 2008

If you interested in being involved, you can register your interest here.

The new OzProjects website is able to host online school projects for students based on the same model we use for our EdNA groups.

During 2008 they intend to generate/encourage online projects for International Year of Planet Earth, NAIDOC, Olympics, Paralympics, International Year of Languages, Literacy & Numeracy, and the International Year of the Potato (I kid you not).

They have some guidelines and examples for online projects on their older site here. In justifying such a project to your colleagues and to enthuse them, this list is a very good starting place.

Your project does not have to be on the topics listed but it does have to be relevant for Australian classes.

ByteMe! Digital Content Festival, Perth



ByteMe! Festival will be an inspiring event to take students along to or even to attend yourself. A few events that caught my eChalk eye were these:

  • Ghost Town is a new innovative game of urban exploration played with the help of your mobile phone, and unleashed on the streets of Perth for one week, starting December 2nd, 2007. The game uses a mashup of technology (bluetooth, SMS and VOIP) and the physical world. To play: Go to the Ghost Town booth at the Perth Town Hall between 10am and 5pm (Dec 2 to Dec 9) with a mobile phone with Bluetooth. Cost: FREE
  • BarCampNano - a mini Unconference of web 2.0. The Australian Web Industry Association will be conducting BarCampNano between 1pm-4pm on Sunday 9th of December at the Perth Town Hall.
  • Get Reel is a collection of Western Australian digital content that covers a wide spectrum - from animation to ads, from 3D fly-throughs to games development, from engineering to education, from virtual safety training to visual FX for film and television.
  • The Interface - play with PCs with WA-programmed computer games to play, free wallpapers and ringtones for your mobile phone and loads of other things to do and see in the glass foyer of the Town Hall.

Via Kat Black, Director of the ByteMe! Festival:

Digital content isn’t an Industry, it’s part of almost EVERY industry now. Animation, visualisation, games development, virtual safety-training - you can see it all at BM!F.

Byte Me

Byte Me! is a Digital Content Festival in Perth, featuring a program of screenings, Show ‘n Tells by Industry speakers from around the world, live audiovisual performances and innovative cross-media events. Some events would be great for school groups - such as the Get Reel screenings of WA digital content, and some would be more appropriate for professional development for teachers, in particular ICT, programming and Media teachers, or even Arts Teachers with an interest in digital media.

The Byte Me! Festival will be at the Perth Town Hall, Western Australia 2-9 December 2007, with some events at various venues in the days leading up to then. Sorry for the very late notice, but this is an you might be interested in, from 2-9 December at the Perth Town Hall.

It’s called the Byte Me! Festival and it includes screenings, digital-careers showbags, international and local guest speakers and an interactive mini-expo where you can talk to people about the type of jobs available in the digital content field, play some locally-developed games or try your hand at VJing.

Some of the events are free, and some are ticketed. Thanks to our generous sponsors though, ticket prices are low - from $5-$19 per event. Concession price is available to ALL people in the Education sector, whether you come with a school group, or just attend in your own time.

They have international speakers from Dreamworks (Shrek), EA Games (MySims), Weta (King Kong and Lord of the Rings) and more. Check out the full Program for more information:

There is a handy Google calendar for event subscription on the website. Hope to see you there!

John Nash and Game Theory



labdien lurkers

i have been intrigued for a while by the movie about a man named john nash. you may remember it is “a beautiful mind” and starring our own russel crowe. it seems this john nash as well as being schizophrenic,was a pretty smart mathematically. a flawed genius something like perth’s own david helfgott, made famous in another oscar winning performance in “shine” by that old pirate, geoffery rush. (russel, of course, was robbed).

nash was interested in a branch of mathematics called game theory. down under, our own abc has a presenter, robin williams, who often mentions john nash and his contribution to game theory and how it applies to science, especially biological science.

around about the time of world war 2, john von neuman, nobel laureate etc and oskar morgenstern came up with game theory, based on two players. typified by the famous prisoners dilemma.’s_dilemma

now what nash did was expand it to show how to predict the best outcome when more than two players were involved.

nash’s did his ph d thesis on this and it was allegedly only sixteen pages long ! that was enough to get him a phd and a nobel prize later.

game theory has many applications. in the movie thirteen days, president kennedy is shown dealing with kruschev using a “new language”. nash and the boys were in the back room seeing if game theory really worked. if they had been wrong, the us would have been toast. that glowed in the dark.

darwin’s natural selection can be explained in terms of game theory, richard dawkin’s book “the selfish gene”, world trade, strategy in war, seems like almost anything. the fact nash was schizophrenic for me was just a minor distraction as to what he actually did. a point, i believe, made at the end of the movie.

now, as the vocabulary of game theory, words like “the bottom line” and “zero sum game” have even crept into out current prime minster’s patter and game theory concepts are often presented on the tv show “num3ers”. i wonder why it is i have never heard of this in schools. if we can teach genetics using the same sorts of punnet squares as see in the prisoners dilemma problem, and it is so important, how come it doesn’t appear somewhere in our curriculum ?

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  • 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!