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Archived Posts from “Open source”

School community WiFi for Rudd’s ed revolution?

12

February


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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.

Meraki

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.


picaxe 2007

12

September


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labdien lurkers

synopsis

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

picaxe

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.

http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/

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

http://www.scorpiotechnology.com.au/new.shtml

and picaxe chips available locally from altronics

http://www.altronics.com.au/

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. .


Developments in Second Life

09

January


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Kim's patch of SL

 

OK - finally have my little parcel of land upon which to develop the basics for part of the Interdisciplinary Practice unit I’m teaching at university this year and to accommodate some of my explorations for my research. You can find it over at Maceday 121,143, 152. It looks a bit like a sandbox at the moment as I experiment with some building and terraforming.

But it is a substantial 4096 sqm block in an L-shape at the bottom of a hill - the weather is a bit misty at times.

Not sure who all my neighbours are but there seems to be an amusement park developing nearby. I wanted to thank Pathfinder Linden for assisting with the allocation of the space - once I met him inworld it took only minutes to have the space set up for me.

In the hope of meeting some other Drama teachers within Second Life I have set up DEISL - Drama Educators in Second Life - a group to help bring together other like-minded teachers. I am also associated with several of the major educational groups within Second Life and hope that DEISL will become a group of pioneers in Drama Education online. Hopefully we can grow and share resources and ideas as we develop new approaches to drama online.

Also of interest to readers of Digital Chalkie might be the ongoing development of SLOODLE - a Second Life/Moodle integration.  The concept has captured the imagination of quite a few educators and web develpers and the resultant community is making rapid headway with the model.  A lot of engaging and critical discussion on their forums.  The Skype block they’ve developed would be a great addition to a standard Moodle installation to add another layer of interaction to the interface.


Stellarium - open source planetarium

06

August


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The stars are amazingly clear up here in Paraburdoo and the Space Shuttle flight that was visible earlier last year captured the students interest in the night sky. In fact we blew our monthly download limit in two days with many classes watching Yahoo’s live broadcast from the shuttle.Stellarium Maybe this is old news to you, but I suggest anyone teaching Science add the free Stellarium to their teaching toolbelt, especially for the Earth and Beyond outcome. Being able to see a live depiction of the sky above from any geographical location certainly has a wow factor (but the pièce de résistance is the ability to turn off the atmosphere on a sunny day to see the space behind has instant education factor). Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It is quite impressive, so much so I’ve included it on our labs disk image for this year. Displayed with a projector it’s almost like having a planetarium in the classroom. The fact that it’s open source and cross-platform is just bonza. Stellarium - try it out, but if you want a bit of a preview you can check out the screenshots. Just amazing.

From the project FAQ:

Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL, which means the skies will look exactly like what you see with your eyes, binoculars, or a small telescope. Stellarium is very simple to use, which is one of its biggest advantages: it can easily be used by beginners.


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Recent Comments

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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...

  • Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/polriid/digitalchalkie.com/wp-includes/post.php on line 115
  • 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...

  • Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/polriid/digitalchalkie.com/wp-includes/post.php on line 115
  • 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...

  • Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/polriid/digitalchalkie.com/wp-includes/post.php on line 115
  • 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...

  • Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/polriid/digitalchalkie.com/wp-includes/post.php on line 115
  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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!