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Archived Posts from “ICTs”

picaxe 2007



labdien lurkers


anyone interested in playing picaxe perhaps over the holidays or even over a weekend early in term 4 2007, drop me a line. members of the wordstar users group will be meeting in the jim fuller room of our secret headquarters to play with these things. i do not claim to know much more than how to spell picaxe, and offer the usual vertical learning curve, familiar to those who like to tilt at windmills


Picaxelet me wax on lyrically about the old daze, when men were men and monkeys ate cheese. back then, there was a subject taught in skools called komputering, done mainly by maths and science teachers with that sort of mind. it catered mainly for boys, and in those days dealt with peeks and pokes, code and sprites. and they were 8 bit komputeras. (whaaaa … ?)

anyway, these daze, with education in such spectacular shape here in the state of excitement, we find komputering is now called ict, the maths and science guys have either moved on, died or are back teachering lower school classes. we find komputering now largely taken over by *others* who have been press ganged into the game want to make sure the kids have nice borders around their business cards. they justify this by saying they are using komputeras as tools.

back then, i once predicted email would be big. i got a couple of others right, but haven’t got the buzz in moodle i thought it deserved. still, there are a whole bunch of secret squirrels nutting away over there on edna, so we can only hope.

so now my big prediction, 2007. the next big thing for teaching komputering/engineering/electronics and stuff for boys seems to be picaxe. a programmable computer chip that can drive electronic circuits. this could be the equivalent of john aloisi’s penalty against uruguay, and provide the lost arts of komputering a new breath of life.

it is supported by british oil and gas industries, has heaps of support on the website. this is seen as important, cos industry can’t get enough technical type folk to run their enterprises. there is support in Australia with projects made available from an australian company scorpio technology

and picaxe chips available locally from altronics

i suggested this about five years ago, but unfortunately, the shed men have grabbed onto it and claimed it as their own. and there is some evidence of industry sponsorship because it is more to do with *komputering* and little to do with *information technology*. there is allegedly up to the $2 mill up for to encourage schools to adapt this.

anyway, at my school, we are looking to introduce this into an info sys programme in 2008. i might even trial it in late 2007, depending on time. picaxe seems to break into two broad areas, introduction to electronics and programming the chip via a serial cable. lurkers can program using a flow chart and directly download this canverted to assembler and run straight off the chipp.

maybe there is a place to engage *boys* into the tattered remnants of what was once mighty komputering. by using this chip in ait in a kontext, this will baffle curriculum council snoozers enough to allow us to attract kids into something useful, and seen by industry as vital. .

Picasa to Flickr



A quick tip for anyone making use of the handy tool Picasa.
Now you can download Picasa2flickr from SourceForge, and you will be allowed to (you guessed it!) upload your photos straight from picasa to flickr!

This is a very handy enhancement for busy teachers. Since picasa is so easy to use (and can do so many simple image editing things ‘on the fly’), being able to hit the button and upload to flickr is a nice enhancement!

Comic Life and Second Life



Plasq have recently announced the BETA release of a Windows port of their Comic Life software.

Plasq Test

I used a few available images from Second Life® drama classes to piece together an example of the output. I then got to thinking about all the possible uses for this software in learning environments. Combined with Second Life®, Comic Life becomes an incredibly creative tool. At the very least you could combine SL Snapshots from inworld events and use the chat logs as dialogues to create engaging documents of events - think of comic book minutes from meetings - people might actually read them!

In a school context there are many possibilities… and cross-media at that! Think of English classes that use Second Life®/Comic Life to create graphic novels; media classes with storyboards and crossovers; science to document experimental procedures and observations (with or without SL involvement); SOSE to represent historical events, to document cultural encounters, etc; what about 3D visual representations of mathematical concepts and proofs?

These are just initial thoughts - but I can see the possibilities of a really engaging set of learning activities with amazing output that is student created. The boon in this instance is that the Comic Life software is incredibly simple to use but the possibilities for creative expression of fictional and non-fictional narratives are seemingly limitless.

Prensky and Digital Colonisers



Sitting here at the Duxton in Perth while Marc Prensky engages us with his ideas on the “New Paradigm”. Predicated on the notion that the majority of approaches to current education are not created with the modern learner in mind, these assumptions and assertions filter through:

  • Digital Natives - grew up in the digital world - without a guidebook and without guidance.
  • They have developed an ‘e-life’
  • Current students challenge traditional tools of education - but embrace the critical and social constructivist pedagogical assumptions.
  • Young people create as much as they consume (Q: degree and complexity is questionable)
  • “Growing up in the light” - metaphor.
  • “You have to slow down when talking with teachers” - a student quote.
  • The well known native/immigrant discussion.
  • To engage we must enagage WITH students - we must be part of the journey.

So far the description of the “New Paradigm” seems to be an iteration of Dewey and others who recognised that learning is done by learners. And that learners can include “teacher” - social constructivism and critical pedagogy… modes of input are interactive - output becomes multi-modal.

  • Evaluate quality - an essential part of the work done by teachers and students in learning - especially in a digital context.
  • About allowing learners to “DO” - set them loose on a task… where only the goal is defined.

Student panel revealed interesting (if not unfamiliar) attitudes.

I take on board some of the criticisms I heard uttered at the event today - that the oversimplification of the material is potentially harmful. It assumes a rich understanding of pedagogy and and a willingness to make a significant cultural shift that is probably not evident - the biggest risk is that studnets will be set loose without guidance.

That said, a lot of the material that Prensky offers is a digitally contextualised restatement of older studnet-centred, social constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. From my point of view it was quite refreshing to hear that the way I endeavour to teach in schools is being touted as valuable. Shifting quite comfortably to the meddler in the middle, I enjoy the processes that offer me a chance to be engage and extend my own understandings and knwledge along with the students.

One of the concerning factors, and I did pipe up quite loudly and unceremoniuously to challenge one teacher who seemed to be seeking a co-option of all of children’s play as some extension of formal learning. While Marc was talking about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, we saw the emergence of the Digital Coloniser

And I got to thinking about this notion of digital colonisation - a well established tradition of those with willingness to believe in their own power wanting to gain dominion over the new place they have occupied. We saw it with the great colonial nations of the past and I suggest we are beginning to see it now. While Marc was talking about becoming a learner alongside students I felt I was witnessing a very different mindset developing from some on the floor. We all know that many teachers are very conservative, often never having taken a risk… what I experienced today was someone desperately trying to maintain some sort of imagined power base. It showed a lack of respect and regard for the culture of young people, and no understanding of the iomportance of play in child development - it was rather an exercise in trying to co-opt the digital culture of young people to the existing paradigm of the teacher concerned. 

Like the colonialism of our history there is a risk that the teacher’s and education system’s control of resources for digital learning will foster a relationship of subjugation - that the lack of regard for the emergent cultures of our young people will see them pushed further and further from engaged critical pedagogies and self-direction. What is the point of giving lip service to all this technology engagement if our attitudes as tecahers remain constant. Who is willing to embrace the adage:

“Take your ideological hammer and smash your cherished values and at their foundation you will find nothing”?

Or the (allegedly) Hebrew proverb

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born to a different time”

The task undertaken with a student and 4 university academics to plan a mechanism for learning that did not allow for lecturing was engaging - our young helper was interested in a Drama approach and by unpacking a seemingly simply task to create an original performance we discovered enormous potentail to engage with virtually every learning area. I’ll unpack the program more fully elsewhere.

Internet based file conversion apps



A bit of discussion has been going on around the traps about Internet based file conversion apps. Zamzar-LogoZamzar and Media Convert allow you to convert files up to 100mb and 150mb respectively. To convert files one simply uploads a file from their hard drive or from a URL. There seems to be more of these tools coming online all the time. My concern is, if teachers are going to use them in the classroom where are these files being stored before and after conversion? With Terms of Service on the Media Convert site that contain grammatical flaws such as……

Lezard “Your are the only responsible for the data which it sends to Media-Convert servers. One is reminded that the illicit exchanges of recordings and protected works as well as the hacking harm artistic creation………Media-Convert is a free service, which does not offer any guarantee of any kind as for its use. You can use Media-Convert for any activity, personal or profesionnal. “

…. one doesn’t gain confidence in the service providers. So for me the jury is out on whether the usefulness of these tools is for you or for the convertor.

Has anyone used them with success?

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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!