Thursday, December 28, 2006

** Well Done to Cefn Fforest Year 6 News Team **

We had excellent news this morning in an e-mail from Jeff Howson from Making The News ( an online news site - where kids post their own news articles including multi media pieces), in a hectic run up to Christmas some of my Year 6 news gatherers had commited themselves to entering a UK wide News Competiton ( entires had to be in before 16th December!!!).

With concerts, parties and many other distractions as we approached the end of term, our lunchtimes became highly charged with upils grabbing camcorders and still camera's, rushing off to film and then upload and edit their work within the tight lunch 'hour' ( I can safely say that through November and December I never had time to sit in our staffroom at lunchtime - so missed out on 2 months gossip)

As the deadline approached we had a perenial problem for schools operating within an intranet run by a local authority - we found it increasingly difficult and in the end impossible to upload multiple video films ( we had a problem as the articles went to a central competition space - I couldn't retrieve them for more editing ) - In the end the pupils were writing and editing video ( thank goodness we got an Apple Macbook in November otherwise our task would have been almost impossible using WinXP) saving items to flash drives and then uploading the articles from home ( this calls for quite a high commitment from the kids - but they did it.
We failed to enter all of the categories that we had planned and had some disappointed people who just failed to meet their deadline, but that's a fact of life I guess.
Following all of the hype and panic we sat back and waited - results were due to be e-mailed to us by 23rd December. School closed for us teachers on 22nd December, and I set off home with my fingers crossed for the kids....... and nothing........Christmas Day...... Boxing Day.... nothing.... I gave in and posted an article for the pupils to pick up saying "I guess that no news is bad news but keep watching....."
Today 28th December an e-mail in my in box from Jeff Howson from MTN, I must admit that I opened it slowly hardly daring to look in case it was along the lines of "sorry..... better luck next time....." But no it was notification that a story posted under the heading of Best Overseas Story has won in its category (Yippee!!! well done kids!!!).
The pupils have won and have been invited up to our big Education IT Show called BETT at Olympia in London on Wednesday 10th January where their prizes will be awarded by Warwick Davies ( Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films )

I must congratulate all of my pupils who entered stories for the competition, they overcame the odds and put together some very good work. The winning group followed up a visit we had to school by a Nigerian Diplomat and his son Kay, by arranging shooting and editing a video interview with Kay using a JVC Camcorder and our new Apple MacBook, they took the final cut away on a flash drive and got together to upload their finished article - I for one am very prod of the work they produced and the reward is much deserved for all of their efforts over the Autumn Term - ( and I for one won't mind missing the Staffroom chatter at lunchtime for a while I guess !!!) .

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I have been blog tagged!!! by Chris Harbeck a Skype friend from Canada while I was not looking - gee thanks Chris!!. I have read a few of these by others and see that I am supposed to come up with 5 things that people may not know about me from my online presence so here goes...

1. I became a grandfather for the first time this year on the 17th January when my middle daughter Emily (18) gave birth to grandaughter Abigail on 17th January

Yes she is as wicked and as wonderful as she looks, and we have just celebrated her 1st Christmas, I won't need to tell any parents out there what this was like - enough said.

2. As I scarily approach the age of 50 next year, I find myself and my family deeply involved with life in our local town of Abergavenny. I still play field hockey regularly as captain of our 2nd XI side (currently 3rd in South Wales Division 3), I combine this with being club Chairman and Youth Co-ordinator( at my age I should know better!!!). The rest of my family wife and 3 daughters are heavily involved in local Amateur Dramatics ( of the musical type).

Mrs H and Daughters Sian (20) and Laura (16)

3. I long to own an MG sportscar again, I had to give up my previous Black 1979 MGB Roadster 5 years ago when we converted my garage into a bedroom for one of the daughters!!! - and I can't wait to have another one ( sad old ***!)

4. I enjoy cooking, nothing to ambitious but I cook our evening meals most days and could be found in the kitchen amongst the sprouts, carrots, potatoes et al during Christmas morning ( who said men can't multi task).

5. I have one big regret, that I haven't travelled around the world more - I am trying to make up for this now by making links with fellow teachers around the world. It is great to get responses from fellow education professionals from around the globe - it nearly makes up for not travelling ( though at present I am very keen to try to get to New Zealand in February for the TUANZ conference - where Shery Nussbaum-Beach will be giving the keynote and my podcast chum Allanah King from Nelson will also be presenting - sadly I am only lowly Welsh primary teacher and money doesn't grow on trees!!!) I also apologise to my aunt and uncle in Australia for being the only members of the family not to have visited them yet!!!

I hope that this gives an insight into my world.
Not wishing to be 'it' I now tag Joe Dale http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/ , Allanah King http://www.moturoa.blogspot.com/ , Terry Freedman http://www.terry-freedman.org.uk/index.php , Joe Papaleo http://papajo.edublogs.org/

Sunday, December 24, 2006

** SCHOOL'S OUT**
Finally after what appeared to have been an eternity the Autumn Term ended for our pupils on Thursday ( we had a training day on Friday - so didn't finish until 3pm on the 22nd) - the upside of a late finish is that we won't be back in school until 8th January. We had some relaxation time in the final week of term and my Year 3 pupils were keen to show off their dancing and singing - I used our mini dv camcorder to record their efforts ( I challenge you to view and not to chuckle a little) and posted the video's to our Making the News page on - http://kmi4schools.e2bn.net/wales_cefnfforestprimary/index.htm it is the article entitled 'fun in Year 3'. our carol singing soloist is posted on http://cefnfforest.podomatic.com ( and I apologise for me mumbling away in the background!!!!! sorry).

I wish all readers and fellow bloggers and pocasters a very Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year - I plan to catch up with some Web 2.0 friends ( Joe Dale and David Noble ne Booruch) at the BETTT show in Olympia on Saturday 13th January ( I guess that as we hve never actually met we had better wear a red carnation in our button hole !!!! or have a secret password, joking aside, it will be good in this virtual world to actually have a face to face meeting in the 'real' world... see you guys

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Friday 8th December - photographer from the TES arrived at 9.30am, I had gathered a small group of pupils together and we were ready to Skype New Zealand. All of the technology worked and we were soon chatting, that included the photographer who joined in our 13,000 mile conversation while he snapped away. Allanah and the children were very patient as we were posed and photographed,the conversation continued, however it must have been a very strange conversation from the New Zealand end, however all went well, the Skype line held up, and we signed off when the photo-shoot ended allowing Allanah to go the bed...Well Done everyone, excellent work.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Interest in the educationl use of Skype has come to Cefn Fforest. Following a conversation with Joe Dale, and participating in a skype conference last Sunday evening, I had a follow-up conversation with Stephen Manning from the Times Educational Supplement Magazine.
Our discussion was wide ranging covering issues such as the 'open access' to Skype debate that is currently raging in the US, where some university campuses have banned or blocked the use of Skype. My view is that looking from Key Stages 1 and 2 in the UK access has to be controlled, as we are responsible for who our pupils speak/chat with.
Our use of Skype is that we have pre-arranged as much as possible when we will be available for pupils to contact us - our ultimate goal is to have pupil to pupil chat ( we have planned to do this next Wednesday evening when our school will be opened for pupils to come back into class at 8pm - 9am in New Zealand for pupils to speak to each other directly).
Another point of discussion was cost, obviously Skype computer to computer is free ( I like free), hence there isn't a budget implication to the se of Skype used in that way.
The use of Skype more widely between institutions will hopefully give a boost to childrens Speaking and Listening, in addition to the aspects of PSHE and Citizenship which come from talking to people who live in other countries, it also gives a greater opportunity for pupils to ask more pertinent questions of guests and 'visitors' to the school.

Following the discussion Stephen seemed to think that this should be published quite quickly and has arranged for a photographer to visit our school tomorrow (Friday 8th December) to take some photographs of the pupils Skyping our teaching colleague in New Zealand... watch this space...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Skype Chat to Podcast

Following a skype chat over the weekend, Moturoa Classroom at Appleby School near Nelson New Zealand and myself near Abergavenny in South Wales had agreed a time on Monday evening (8.30 pm Wales - 9.30 am New Zealand) for a chat.
The skype discussion was part of an ongoing e-pal link that we have with the pupils from my school ( Cefn Fforest Primary) and those 13,000 miles away in New Zealand.
With the time set I sat waiting for the call and sure enough along it came and I could hear the excitement in the classroom so many miles away.
Little did I realise the 'grilling' I was in for from the pupils in the class. They each in turn introduced themselves very clearly and politely asked their important questions - the range of subjects covered was wide, but I felt honour bound to answer their questions, as they had gone to the trouble of asking them.
the half an hour chat flew by as we chatted and all to soon it was time for them to return to their school work. Allanah King their teacher had recorded our chat and has now published it on her Podomatic page so it can now be found on http://allanah.podomatic.com .
The project continues as we plan to repeat the process from our school speaking to Allanah and 'grilling' her on a variety of subjects.
We are presently trying to work out how to speak to each other in 'real' time ( the 13 hour time difference doesn't help ), my guess is that we will have to have pupils in school at around 8pm in order to catch NZ at 9am in the morning -we will see.... watch this space.

** Thanks for your interesting questions kids **

** follow up to new MacBook, I am gradually becoming more confident in its use and have now started digital video work and podcasting using it more to come...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Well, well what's this then. It looks very much as if Christmas has come a little early to this corner of Wales.

After a request to our 'Friends of the School' in early June - followed by approval - followed by the ordering process ( why does it take local authorities so long!!!).

The whole process wasn't helped by the only Apple Reseller in South Wales (AT Computers) re-locating to the Morgan's Arcade in Cardiff - and being unreachable over the telephone, causing some panic on my behalf, as I had no idea where they had gone. Panic over though as just over 3 weeks ago we re- established contact and the order was back on track.

A follow up e-mail last week and Damian the manager of the new store told me that the Macbook was on its way.

This was followed yesterday ( Friday 1st December ) by the messgae I had been waiting for - the laptop was in store and ready for collection...

The only problem I faced then was a hockey match today ( as Team Captain no way out of that ), but very thoughtfully our opposition cried off the match last night, unable to raise a side - as you can imagine I wasn't too upset ( yippeee!!!).
So up and off the 40 miles or so into Cardiff at 9pm this morning, I resisted the temptation to speed, and kept to a sensible speed.
I was in store at 9.45, introduced myself to Damian who searched around and found the box I had come for.


After all of the time waiting - eventually after returning home I set to work finding out how to operate the Mac machine.

I do have a question for experienced Mac users - I tried to import a video from a JVC DV camera with a firewire lead. I could control the camera - but could only see a blue screen - no import !!!! in suggests moving the imovie project to another file out of the home file - but HELP - Mac Novice - How do you do that ???? Any assistance would be appreciated.
I'm off to play now : )
( tee hee )

Friday, November 24, 2006

Phew!!!! it's over, what a nerve wracking day. It came time for me to make my first presentation to a room full ( 19) IT colleagues, at Ty Dysgu, Nantgarw. I had to follow some professional presenters from software companies oooooh! Then after lunch it was my turn I only hope that it came over a bit more coherently than it was going inside!!!! I think that I got over the main points of the site that I was talking about ( a very good resource for schools - and FREE!!) see yesterday's post for details. It was interesting to hear that NGfL Cymru have taken an interest in Making The News as well - more Welsh entries expected soon....
On the point of interest in web 2.0 technology, in particular podcasting and blogs - my fellow professionals confirmed my faith in them, they had heard of both podcasting and blogging and showed an interest in knowing more about * making a podcast * posting one on the internet - that was the great part of the day for me. So the chance of expanding the welsh edu-blogger wiki looks very promising. I knew that ESIS and Caerphilly would come up trumps - we can hopefully begin the revolution here.
Our only problem is going to be competing with the Kiwi rugby team at the Millennuim Stadium tomorrow afternoon !!!! We won't hold it against our friends in New Zealand though, and hope that it is a good game !!!!! Come on Wales

Thursday, November 23, 2006

On Friday 24th November ( partly due to a diary error - as I believed it was 29th November!!!) I will be speaking to ICT Co-ordinators locally at a Co-ordinators Update Day at Ty Dysgu, Nantgarw.
The subject of my 40 minute piece will be to introduce my colleagues to a Social Networking service called Making the News it is run in partnership by the Open University and the East of England Business Network (e2bn).
The aim of MTN is to allow pupils to post multimedia news items onto the net through a thoroughly moderated site.
We have been using the service (free of course as all good web 2.0 stuff) this term with a group of Year 6 pupils who have become the Cefn Fforest News Team, posting their news items every lunchtime. One of the great parts of MTN is that pupils can post their news as a 'Guest Entry' from anywhere with access to the internet ( other schools have had pupils posting from internet cafe's while on holiday). It also allows parents, governors and others to view the work that is going on within the school.
I am really looking forward to showing my colleagues the MTN site, I also plan to use the opportunity to raise the profile of web 2.0 technology in my local area.
I will no doubt blog afterwards to let you know how I get on so keep your eyes peeled for my next post.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

At last we have had our classroom blog un-blocked by our Local Authority, so a big thank you to those responsible at Caerphilly County Borough Council. Quite a coup then over the past few weeks, we have had Skype enabled in our classroom, enabling us to get into direct contact with our friends around the world, and now we are able to blog from the classroom on our learner blog. I now plan to allow all of my pupils to post on the blog over the next 2 weeks.
In another forward move I have just put in an order for an Apple Laptop, mainly for use in creative IT (podcasting using Garageband and digital video using iMovie)- perhaps this is all too much and Christmas really has come early !!!!! we will see.

Next Wednesday (29th Nov) I will be going to our local IT Centre to show other IT Co-ordinators how to use the Making The News resources. I am looking forward to this, as it will be the first opportunity that I will have to gauge the understanding locally of the new social networking aspects of the web. I will certainly check how many of my colleagues have been involved in podcasting and blogging.

On the podcasting front, through a contact at Research Machines, I have been offered a try out of Softease.com's new podcasting software called Podium it is reputed to be easy for pupils to use, and is due for release at the BETT show in January 2007. I will blog here on my thoughts on Podium so watch this space Primary Teachers in the UK.

I guess that this is probably enough for a Tuesday evening .... keep on blogging.

Friday, November 17, 2006

News of some exciting new software available as free downloads ( the downloads have some limits on use ), they are very good intuative art packages the first is ArtRage2 and TuxPaint they are very much worth a look I first found them through Allanah King's work on the Moturoa Class Blog where Allanah had tried the software out, great for creative work especially Art Rage. This was followed up by Tom Barrett who describes how he introduced the software to teachers in his school in an after-school session.

Back on the subject of podcasts and in particular our link school and podcast buddies in New Zealand, it seems that we have encouraged them to vodcast ( video podcasting) about their school take a look at Appleby Airwaves latest work, very impressive guys.

I have more to report following my conversations recently with Joe Dale who if you follow his most recent blog has been at a conference and training session run by Specialist School and Academies Trust with a podcasting workshop run by Steph Hopkins an Advanced Skills teacher from Southend High School for Girls. Steph has worked to produce a toolkit for bloggers and podcasters, Steph sees her role as passing on her experiences in the use of web 2.0 technologies.

In the MFL subject area, as Joe has said what a brilliant use of web 2.0 to gain a Skype link with a school where your language of study is spoken and pupils can converse in a natural way over the Voip system. This has agreat deal of potential for development in Secondary and Primary Education.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wow - what a wonderful thing the internet is - a pretty cool place - Today in our classroom for instance -at 10am this morning 2 of my pupils were involved in a Skype conversation with Allanah King in New Zealand, the conversation was flowing well specially when it got onto one boy's pet subject of dinosaurs on which he is practically encyclopaedic !!! But that was the way it was he was talking over the internet via telephone as if he was speaking to his mum on the phone - the only difference - 13,000 miles and half a world.
This evening at about 10pm I logged onto our Podomatic account as it said we had mail, and found a podmail ( audio e-mail) from the e-pals that my pupils were sending the messages to this morning - how cool is that - pretty mind boggling actually, for an 'oldy' like me who still has to come to terms with snail mail!!!!

One thing is for certain this form of conversation using VOIP is certainly proving a boon in our e-twinning as replies are almost instant ( considering the 13 hour time difference).

'Real' school work took a bit of a back seat this evening as I had an interesting Skype chat with Joe Dale about creative IT projects in schools. He told me about the work of Richard Peace who has begun blogging on The Weather on a blog called Take The Weather with You - the blog has some excellent pod weather forecast embedded as mp3 files. Do check these out.
I tried out a new piece of software while online with Joe that is a Pretty May recorder this is a Skype ad-on which allows you to record and run an answering machine on Skype and more important in our e-twinning allows you to record Skype conversations as mp3 files, which can then be easily added to podcasts or simply run as mp3's.

I also found some welsh edu-bloggers in Newtown Powys ( at Newtown High School ) great to know that there are more of us weird blogging types out there in the wastes of Wales. Usually to be heard muttering about England and Elc's and lack of funding for projects in Wales - I got so fed up I decided to do it myself as I now have with blogs, podcasts and more recently a Welsh Edu-Blogger Wiki which I can only hope will grow to the likes of Scottish Edu-Bloggers, perhaps one day Welsh Podcasters and Bloggers will be able to meet up and chat about the things they are up to - we'll see that's a long way in the future I think .... and that all for now as Monday turns to Tuesday here and I still haven't done any work on my Planning File !!!!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Well, well, well I never thought I would say this but well done to my Local Authority - Caerphilly County Borough Council. This is because at the outset of this week and following the inspiration of K12 Online, I decided to install SKYPE on my classroom PC - the result - It failed to open or log on - very much as I thought that it would. I e-mailed our IT Helpdesk to ask them among other things, why couldn't I use Skype in my classroom ( I di have to explain what Skype was first !!!), the result of this was that one of the County IT Team visited school on Friday and following a brief discussion on the problem I left him alone to 'tinker' with the pc settings. 20 minutes later he told me that Skype had opened on the pc and that he could see my contact list.
It worked - I immediately noticed that Allanah King in New Zealand was online despite the late hour there ( it was already 11.45 am in the UK by then ) - so we Skyped her for a chat - and it worked perfectly with the obvious time lag.
by this time the class were getting excited and I asked them for any questions to ask about New Zealand or their school. Some of my brave pupils then carried out a conversation with Allanah even though she was 13,000 miles away chatting about Appleby School and the surrounding area.
I believe that we are certainly the 1st school in the authority to get online with Skype, I wouldn't like to say we were the first in Wales as I have no details on this ( there certainly can't have been many ) and there have certainly been videoconferencing contacts within Caerphilly CBC area.
But we don't mind we think Skype is cool and that our sister school in New Zealand is pretty cool too.
My cheers to Caerphilly will be 2 no the full 3 though as we still have the problem of our new class blog not being able to be accessed from within the school as it is being blocked by the word blocker !!!! we stil don't know why, so come on Caerphilly get your act together !!!

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I thought that I had better blog about today - the last day of the K12 online conference - the last official day - I am sure that the chat and discussions will continue for many weeks and months to come - The day has been taken up with hour long skype casts around the globe. I joined in at just after midnight gmt 4th November and was chatting to JeffU and his lan party members in Shanghai until about 3am!!!! ( not much sleep again). I leapt straight back in, catching Bronwen's chat this morning and joined Terry Freedman's chat at 4pm this afternoon. This evening the chat became more of a party - with a weird party atmosphere and the final hour was a bit surreal.
But it was all great fun, and a place to do some serious networking - I made many more skype contacts who I will look out for in the near future. the discussions ranged from the serious and stimulating to the downright farcical as we had some odd people who like drunks after a good night out wandered into the room to mumble and squeak before falling over and passing out!!!!
On the technical side I discovered skypecasts and how to find them following the link
https://skypecasts.skype.com/skypecasts/ongoing , also discovering the TappedIn discussion area at
http://tappedin.org/tappedin/do/RegisterAction? if you register here go into the chat area and the discussion on K12 online - if you register there you will receive an email if any of the other members posts anything about K12 and beyond. this is especially good as there is a plan to have another skypecast in a month to see how everone is getting on with aspects of K12 online - the moderators in the reception there are very helpful and will certainly sort out any problems you may have give it a go.
The people that I have been talking to today are far too many to mention- but one thing is for sure they were from all over the world - China to Australia, USA to Canada and of course the UK - it was good to chat with Terry Freedman, JeffUtech, Bronwen, Glenn, Carolyn (techno foote), Drew, Bud and Heather B - My thanks also to those such as Will Richardson et al who put the conference together - agin as Judy O'Connell says 'It's a small world after all' Thanks guys for a great day - we will meet again.

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Many apologies for the lack of blogging over the past week. It has been our half Term break this past week, hence the weird silence from Wales. Partly due to the fact that I wasn't in wales for 2 days this week I have been visiting my daughter who is in college 286 miles away in Carlisle Cumbria. So at 4pm yesterday Thursday 2nd I was stood on Hadrian's Wall, which for those who don't know was the wall which Emperor Hadrian (Roman) had built to show the edge of the Roman Empire - to the north being Savage Scots !!!! ( many apologies to Ewan, David Muir and David Noble ) It was bleak but beautiful up there as the sun went down on a crisp sunny autumn day. My journey home accompanied by my youngest daughter Laura ( 16 on Wednesday as she keeps reminding me!!!) was bleak and not very beautiful as we were delayed at Preston ( for 25 minutes)while a slightly 'worse for wear' gentleman was removed from the train - thus putting us all late for our connecting trains - we arrived back at home at 1.30 am instead of the expected 11.30 pm - journey time 6 1/2 hours ( car journey up at a steady 70!!! 5 1/2 hours ) - and they say 'let the train take the strain'.
Anyhow enough of my travel woes to business : I listened to the recording of Ewan's Fireside Chat the other evening and was very impressed and actually inted to try to join this evening's first chat of the final 24hours we'll see. Ewan's presentation I thought gave a welcome British feel to the conference as he made valid points as to why we should use web 2.0 tools in our classrooms - interesting also in his final few questions about the possible burn out of podcasters and bloggers ( wil we all continue to be as enthused as we are now when this technology becomes the norm rather than the exception - I'm certainly not sure on that one at all, I can only see at present the support of colleagues around the globe supporting us and vice versa as we push forward into the unknown.
Talking of pushing into the unknown, and the paranormal Halloween night 31st Oct was an interesting one. I avoided 'trick or treating' even though prepared with chocolate money!!! and was skyping, when I received a ping from Ewan who was at the Language Show in Olympia, at the very same moment Allanah King a podcasting buddy skyped me from her classroom in North Island New Zealand ( I could hear her pupils in the background ) trying to carry on parallel conversations is not a strong suit of mine and spelling/punctuation certainly disappear when trying to IM in a hurry - we were chatting for about 10 minutes before it got too confusing - but to be talking from wales to someone in London and a different person in New Zealand at the same time is one of the aspects of web 2.0 that really excites me a great deal - and thinking of how we can harness this for our pupils is also a taxing problem ( Allanah has had a go - by recording skype conversations and saving them to podcast).
I had a brief skype chat with David Noble ( Booruch) this morning, this time he was in class in Scotland - I gave him details of Allanah's podcast feed on Podomatic - so that he can have a look and listen to the great things happening in New Zealand. As a result this teacher certainly feels much more part of a community than I did when I began blogging a few months ago.
As Judy O'Connell would say ' It's a small world after all!!!' Which was also a great presentation , view it if you can - Wow now at 1.40 am there is only 20 minutes to the 'Fireside Chat'
Bye for now



Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The time has come to get my head out of the clouds - well the heady influence of K12 Online... back to the real world.
New projects in school this week. I finally got my act together and began to teach the basics of podcasting to a group of Year6 pupils in an after-school club. They had a quick guide in how to use Audacity to record sound, imprt music and mix audio and music tracks into a single track. To them they saw how easy it was to begin to play around with their own words and music. The pupils found it hugely rewarding and just great fun to do and by the end of their time just about everyone had produced a piece, converted it to mp3 format and saved their work to our server - a great start to our new Year 6 Podcast Radio Show.
The second piece of news from the week is that I have been asked to make a presentation to a group of fellow IT Co-ordinators on using a site called Making The News, ( run by e2bn - East of England Business Network and the Open University) at an upcoming ESIS day Conference in Treforest.
Making the News is a site which allows school pupils to become journalists - they can post news stories and are encouraged to add multimedia clips ( interviews - video film clips ) to their post. The work is then saved and sent by them. As the moderator, I have to look at their work, do any edits, and then rate it ( using a star system0 and publish it, at which time it goes live to the MTN site. I also moderate any comments that are made on their work... the site certainly gets the pupils posting - in fact at present a group of Y6 pupils ( 15 or so ) are giving up lunchtimes to post their latest news. So now it's my job to spread this enthusiasm to a wider audience here in Wales. I'll let you know how I get on.

** check out Tom Barrett's site ( on left under friends ) he has a couple of really interesting project on the go, at the moment**

We look forward to our half term break next week - not a day too soon !!!!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I have had a little time now to digest what David Warlick said the other night, and while I can see where he is coming from with his theory about 'railroad tracks' - railway lines to us, I can't fully agree with him on fundamental ' human nature' , i.e. humans need to have a path to follow. I understand that David is talking about branching out into new areas from the 'main line', and that there is a need for the main line.
If you look back historically in both the US and here in the UK, lines of communication have been essential in the setting up of 'new communities'
Here in Britain in the C19th it was our Victorian forebears who first with canals and then with rail opened up new and exciting areas of the country to the 'ordinary folk' on into the Edwardian era when the great seaside towns of the UK were opened up by rail - communities grow up along these lines of communication - and importantly then develop 'branch lines' from that point.
If you look to the 'Early Pioneers' and settlers of the western US - at first there were a few adventurers but they soon built up lines of communication, I guess culminating in the coming of the Railroad along which again new communities Towns and Cities grew.
In the new 'cyber web 2.0 age' there are the 'Early Pioneers' of which David is one, these adventurers have begun to lay down tracks along which 'The settlers' are gradually coming, slowly at first, but with increased pace. Once the settlers become comfortable with the technology ' in a community' and explore the possibilities they then begin the process of putting in the 'branch lines' - while a new group of adventurers are getting us ready for the next development - I personally can't help feeling historically that :
web1.0 was the horse and cart
web2.0 is the canal system
We still await web3.o 'The Railroad' ( Railway to us in UK)
Web4.0 Flight and beyond to space!!!!
In other words 'what goes around comes around'.
I hope that this makes some sense to you in your part of the web2.0 world - watch out for 'the train!!!'

Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

*The K12 Online Conference 2006 has finally begun ( nearly), with David Warlick's much awaited pre-conference keynote http://k12online.wm.edu/k12online2006_optz.mp4 . David had quite a task for any speaker online - to speak to an audience where he couldn't see faces or read the 'feeling of the room'. I think that he carried it off excellently, if a little self consciously at times - anyone would as you are in a public space talking into a machine, as if you are talking face to face ( I know how this feels having produced a few mobile podcasts -one while walking from my nearest village 1 mile away back home, along the road all the while talking earnestly into an mp3 player- very surreal).
David struck the right note also when talking about us all travelling along these straight lines following our designated route. Haven't human beings always actually been fascinated by deviating from the set route and striking off in different directions ( is this what actually makes us human ???)
It will be interesting to see how people obviously used to talking to a 'live' audience cope talking to a virtual one - is it really the same sort of experience, will the chatter of blogs, wiki's and podcasts equal the amount of 'face to face' networking that always goes on at conferences in all sorts of unexpected situations ( I remember still having a very heated discussion about IWB's in Primary education with a fellow teacher while in a queue for reflexology at the BETT show in 2005 ).
On a philosophical note human beings have thrived and even demand social interaction will this still exist in this virtual space - that is probably what I will be looking forward to finding out about as much as what is actually being discussed by the illustrious group of presenters that have been assembled.
At present I am reflecting on the fact that as a primary teacher in South Wales it would be unlikely that I would in the 'real world' get a chance to here a David Warlick keynote in person, that is truly amazing. I still have nagging in my head though the podcasts that David has made of live Q and A sessions at his presentations, and the fact that in those where the speaker is ahving to respond to what is being said changes the dynamic of the conversation - which you don't get in the virtual world unless you use VOIP and I quess that that would be impossible to set up on the scale of this conference.
It is with interest and curiosity then that I will follow the conference and attempt to get the 'feel' of the event through the many discussions that it will generate.

Technorati Tags:

Monday, October 16, 2006

**Request for information**
I have today had the advertising blurb for the new Promethian Activboard - the IWB which has its own built in projector bracket with a Sanyo short throw projector, the selling point for me is not only the ease of fitting (or seeming ease) and the height adjustment factor - as my IT Suite IWB has to cope with pupils from Y1 to Y6. I am very tempted to put this to my HeadTeacher as a means of renewing some of our ageing IWB's - has anyone out there seen the new ActivBoard +2 in action ? - Is it as good as it seems ? ( sorry cynical )

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hi there to all out there in the blogosphere - apologies for a lack of postings in the past week - as happens sometimes the pressure of 'the day job' takes over sometimes, and this week has been one of those weeks.
I did have a chance though to do a little 'lurking around podcasts and blogs, which we will look at in a moment.
The main news is what will be happening next week - the K12 Online Conference, follow the link to find out what will be happening http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=3

This is the main thrust of the conference : 'Announcing the first annual “K12 Online 2006″ convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme “Unleashing the Potential.” '

THE FOUR STRANDS ARE:

Week 1Strand A: A Week In The ClassroomThese presentations will focus on the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes. They will also show how teachers plan for using these tools in the delivery of their curricular objectives.

Strand B: Basic/Advanced Training (one of each per day)Basic training is “how to” information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers.
Advanced training is for teachers who have already started using Web 2.0 tools in their classes and are looking for: (a) advanced technology training (eg. how to write your own blog template or hack existing ones), (b) new tools they can make use of in their classes, (c) teaching ideas on how to mash tools together to create “something new,” (d) a pedagogical understanding of how technologies such as Weblogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking sites, RSS feeds and others can deepen learning and increase student achievement, or (e) use of assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of Read/Write Web technologies in their personal practice and with their students.

Week 2Strand A: Personal Professional Development
Tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs); how to create opportunities to bring these technologies to the larger school community; how to effectively incorporate the tools into your personal or professional practice; or how to create a supportive, reflective virtual professional community around school-based goals.

Strand B: Overcoming ObstaclesTips, ideas and resources on how to deal with issues like: lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, and other IT concerns while trying to focus on best practice in the use of Web 2.0 tools.
CONVENERS & KEYNOTESFor organization purposes, each strand is overseen by a conference convener who will assist and coordinate presenters in their strand. The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who has distinguished his/herself and is knowledgeable in the context of each topic.

The providers for the conference are the 'blogeratti' of the use of web technology in Education.

Pre-conferenceConvener: Sheryl Nussbaum-BeachKeynote: David Warlick

A Week In The ClassroomConvener: Darren KuropatwaKeynote: Bud Hunt

Basic/Advanced TrainingConvener: Sheryl Nussbaum-BeachKeynote: Alan Levine

Personal Professional DevelopmentConvener: Will RichardsonKeynote: Ewan McIntosh

Overcoming ObstaclesConvener: Wesley FryerKeynote: Anne Davis

Now to the lurking around the blogosphere - there is more great stuff coming from Tom Barrett on the use of Google Earth, check him out ( link to Tom's site on the left). I was particularly taken with his idea to carry out a Science experiment around the world sending results back to Tom's pupils in order to verify results using a greater number of experiments than a single class could carry out.
I had time to take a closer look at Allanah K's work in New Zealand, what energy she and her pupils obviously have with the podcasting, blogging and web site work. Her work certainly shows how pupils take ownership and revise their work thinking all the time of their audience.
I am looking also for an e-travel buddy partner in the next few weeks, we purchased a new Teddy in St Fagans last week ( to replace Dylan the Dragon who still hasn't returned from the USA). We will take a link from anywhere around the globe - is there anyone out there who would like to make a link ( for swapping podcasts, podmail, e-mail, or skypecasting - anything goes as they say, so get in touch.
News on Monday 16th October - one of our LSA's who is into Geocaching in a big way ahs bought us a ' travel bug' which I am keen to get it out there visiting friends across the globe - where to send it first ... I wonder ??? to you perhaps??

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hi there bloggers - I haven't blogged since Friday largely because I have had one of those weekends you wish would never happen - scenario - daughter sets off in her car for the start of her 2nd Year ( in Carlisle - 284 miles from us in South Wales) at college. Phone rings 40 mins later - she has broken down 30 miles from home - unsure that the car would make the rest of the journey - repack student life into my car and drive the 568 mile round trip to Carlisle (only 15 mins in Carlisle then home) arrive back 8.30 pm Sunday - to be up and ready for school Monday at 7am !!!!! oh I do ache !!!!
So there you have the reason for no blogs over the weekend - back in school today I delivered to staff a follow up to a Self Evaluation that we carried out at the end of last term, along with an update of the School's ICT Policy and Schemes of Work ( still sadly QCA 2000) - don't doze off I nearly did and I was delivering it !!!!
One good thing to come out of todays meeting is that we have managed to ringfence £4,500 for ICT this year ( or is it for next 2 years !!!), unfortunately IT can eat money better than any other curriculum area. Now I have to come up with a solid plan which will enable us to secure our IT hardware for the next 3 years... so now comes the number crunching.
I will take a few days to get back to normal with checking out the latest blogging news - watch this space.

Friday, October 06, 2006

THE WORLD IS LISTENING!!

Well here we are it is Friday evening, always welcome to a teacher!!! It has been quite an interesting week, it must have been last week, that having listened to the Geek!ed podcast over recent weeks I dropped them an e-mail largely on my frustration over the lack of local knowledge on blogging and podcasting. Imagine my surprise when last night I had downloaded their latest show - Geek!ed#43 onto my mp3 player and was listening at about 10pm while making sandwiches for school ,(sad eh?) and they mentioned my e-mail which sparked a discussion as to the nature of web 2.0 in addition to my plea for local help. You could have knocked me down with a feather. ( The sandwiches were ok though!!!) http://coverpage.pcs.k12.mi.us/geeked/

It has been quite a week for my e-mails. I responded recently to a researcher at RM Computers recently, they were asking about podcasting in schools for their INFORM Magazine. I had an e-mail today asking if I would like to talk to them regarding our experiences of podcasting in school.

I have very much been enjoying following Tom Barrett's continued work with GE as he calls it, he is certainly taking the new openess of the internet under 2.0 in an interesting direction in that it gives pupils ( and Primary Pupils at that ) direct experience of the world through Google Earth.

Keep your eyes open for K-12 Online Global Conference coming up at the end of this month http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=3 look at the blog for details. it is really shaping up to be a great experience and is perhaps a glimpse of the future of conferences.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

David Warlick discovers the work of Tom Barrett from Nottinghamshire, well done Tom. David wrote a very interesting piece in his most recent blog praising the work on Google Earth and Geotagging carried out by Tom.
Pushing ahead with school projects:
I guess that it is time to brush off the cobwebs and get busy with this year's projects, if I don't get this going soon I will be snowed under with paperwork. So what projects do I plan to get going - I already have a Year 6 News Team as I have posted before, I now want to get other school groups working on creative IT. I will be starting a Year 4 Podcasting Group who will work as part of an after-school club on producing a fortnightly magazine style podcast ( if that's what they want to do - it could be a topic or subject based podcast). Another project I want to start is a Year 5 Film Making Group ( hopefully using the new Apple iMac laptop ). Our year 6 are about to start a Creative Transition project with an IT Consultant from our local education authority IT Group (ESIS), this will involve them in creating Powerpoint and Digital Video.
I think that there should be just enough hours in the day to get this work underway.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, where did that weekend go ??? I have had 2 days away from the laptop with my 'other existence'- hockey playing (field not ice !!!). A weekend where I went to support my 16yo daughter in her county trials, played sporadically for my own team on Saturday afternoon, and today took and coached our Under 11 team to a tournament. I guess that this may be a normal weekend for some people - but not for me I am exhausted, and only just managed to link up and turn on the laptop. what makes matters worse is that we are in the middle of a day with some (little) sunshine and sharp, heavy showers...
As I sit here on Sunday, early evening (6.15pm) the prospect of returning to school refreshed for tomorrow is definitely not uppermost in my brain - I need another few days to recover!!! Anyway more news on google Earth and its uses in the classroom Papajo ( Joseph) has taken the idea that I posted last time and has plans to use these with his Year 9 pupils -Result. He has also got in touch with Judy O'Connell regarding her podcast. Papajo himself has started a podcast page on Podomatic - though no podcasts yet.
On the school front, I should be presenting a draft of the school's IT to a staff meeting tomorrow: i am having a site meeting on Wednesday with our County IT staff in order to thrash out the possibility of linking our recently acquired Colour Lazer Printer to the 15 PC's found in IT Suite. I am also going to speak to them about replacing a projector in the same room - The BIG PROBLEM seems to be the lack of consitency between projectors, hence the projector which has died after 5 good years of service can't be replaced by a similar machine, and to replace it will probably necessitate the re-positioning of the ceiling mounting, in addition to the need to rewire. They would also like to discuss the possibility of getting all classroom PC's ( 20 - some old (Windows 3.1) onto the school server in order to ease my worload.
**Thanks Papajo for you e-mail**
**( Thanks to Judy for becoming a friend of 'The Podofather' **)
So even though I lack energy this evening there are plenty of others out there in the world keeping discussion forae on education. I wiil return when I'm feeling more awake and with more time, until then bye till next time...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blink and there's a new idea fighting its way into the education armoury - this week it's GoogleEarth. Tony Barrett http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/ has done a lot of work developing the use of GoogleEarth in conjunction with feeds from GPS gizmo's. Also I was linking up with Papajo (Joseph) on http://papajo.edublogs.org/ and Jeff Utecht on http://jeff.scofer.com/thinkingstick/ who have all used the program in a creative way with pupils.
These ideas sound great to me, a bit of a problem when many school PC's are win98!! as GoogleEarth will only run on XP, unless anyone knows of a way it can be done??
I have been working lately on a project to improve writing amongst Year6 (10-11 year olds) pupils using the Making The News site http://kmi4schools.e2bn.net/wales_cefnfforestprimary/index.htm run in conjunction with The Open University and the East of England Business Network (E2BN). The aim of the site is to enable pupils to write for a 'real' audience. The pupils news items/video/podcasts are moderated by the administrator (me in our case) and then sent live to the site - their work at present has an education audience of 250 per month. Having an actual audience has a beneficial effect on the childrens writing, which they modify readily and eagerly. We are now considering extending this to a group that we have in school who are underachievers in writing. I also plan to use podcasting for this group to further advance their writing (for a real audience). I will report back on progress on this work.
I am still very excited about the iMac however no letter yet, I am currently looking for the best price on an iMac 13" 2.oGB RAM, 60GB HD - anyone with ideas welcomed.
As for me, well it's just coming up to midnight on FRIDAY 29th September, and having had a relaxing whisky and part watched a 'fluffy' film on Film 4 called American Sweethearts, I guess it's time to call it a day!!! Tomorrow 16yo daughter to Risca (20miles away) by 9.00 am for Under 16 S Wales hockey practice then me to Barry for 2.30 to play hockey for my own team ( Abergavenny Hockey Club - good website !!!) and then Sunday I take our Under 11 team to a tournament in Swansea (45 miles away) for a 11.30 start - and they call it the weekend !!!!
is there time for another whisky ????

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Things are definitely looking up. I had approached our 'Friends of the School' (Parents Association) to ask if they could assist with the purchase of an Apple iMac laptop. I want to continue my creatvie IT Digital video and Podcasting in school and have struggled with my slow Dell laptop for long enough - I want to try iMovie and GarageBand. During a meeting on Wednesday evening I am told that the committee have approved my application. I am very excited and you can rest assured that as soon as I get the letter I will be straight onto the supplier to buy the Apple - I can't wait.

Another pebble that I would like to toss into the pond is - Is there a real need for Interactive Whiteboards in Primary Education, beyond the Wow factor ? We are currently looking at purchasing another 3 boards ( £6000 - incl installation) , however I am at a crossroads with IWB's I can clearly see benefits, however I am concerned that technology will move on and they may become expensive White Elephants. For me to say this is a great change in direction, for I have been the champion of the whiteboard in the school for the past 6 years or so... views would be welcomed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I must be getting a bit paranoid ( that doesn't mean they're not out to get me!!!!) but following my last blog when I mused about anyone at my local training centre ESIS reading the blog - imagine how I felt when checking my stats I found a listing from Caerphilly County Borough Council (my employers) - panic!!!! ( though I haven't said anything wrong )
It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that I had checked the blog at lunchtime today using the school internet link ( hence Caerphilly CBC ) - now I need a drink !!!!
Well it's a bit like waiting for a bus - nothing for ages then everything arrives at once - I must apologise to my local area training agency ESIS, I have been pushing to include creative IT in Primary ( I know that I lack patience sometimes ) - but I heard nothing for ages, until today in a meeting with my Headteacher yesterday one of the IT Consultants at ESIS (Graham Evans) is running a series of IT Transition(Primary-Comprehensive) units involving Creative IT in our school in 3 day- long sessions starting early next month ( initially powerpoint (a bit old-fashioned) and digital video... little does he know (unless he reads this - are you there Graham??) that I plan to sidetrack him into blogging and podcasting ( I spent over an hour today ensuring that Audacity is installed on all of my IT Suite PC's in readiness. So there you go - everything comes to he who waits (im)patiently!
I also had a qualifying comment from Terry Freedman re his comment less haste more speed, mainly regarding how we validate/gather evidence to give a benefit for the use of web 2.0 http://www.techlearning.com/blog/main/archives/2006 follow the link, it puts Terry's point very clearly and certain makes one think about why we are into this technology and how we overcome some degree of resistance with evidence, Thank You again Terry.
Is anyone else going to to Podcasting Conference at Smithfield in November??? (November 18th - price £41 including lunch) I would love to go but with travelling as well it's a bit pricey for a 'poor' teacher!!! If you went last year let me know if you found it worthwhile.

And I leave you with a final thought in relation to Web 2.0 developing over the next few years -
' let the geek inherit the Earth. '

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just a quick post this evening firstly to say thank you to Ewan for contacting me, to let me know that there is support out there in the blogosphere - even though one has to become an honourary Scot ( as a Welshman - I'm not so sure about that !!!) but I look forward to being helped by some of Ewan's blog-clan.

While searching around this evening I found 2 interesting resources : first is sir Ken Robinson's lecture to the TED conference give it a watch it is very inspirational ( about what creativity is and how we should nurture it in education
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4964296663335083307

The second is another lecture this time by Judy O'Connell from Australia she dicusses new technology and how our pupils use the technology as part of their life - they don't use the term 'digital age' it's just how they live, and stating that we in education need to pay attention to this fact - a good reasoned arguement worth listening to.
It is already 12.40am and with a full teaching day today !!! Time to call it a day.
http://heyjude.podomatic.com/?badge=1

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great news there are other UK web 2.0 educators ( sorry Americanised !!!) out there in the blogosphere. I took a walk down to the village about 1 mile away this morning and on my return I found that I ahd had an e-mail from another teacher Tom Barrett - a teacher from Nottinghamshire. He has been doing some great work with his class, and is particularly interested in the use of GPS in geo-tracking or geo-caching. He has also a Flikr site, this prompted me to upload some of our Summer 2006 onto a Flikr. A link to Tom's blog is is in my list of friends on the left. I have had time to mull over what Terry Freedman said about less haste more speed, I was listening again to Geek-ed episodes 40 and 41, and there they were saying no - we need haste, we need to assimilate the good points of the new technology as quickly as we can - and there's the dilema - haste or no haste - just frustration. I still intend to push forward with my projects through the year - it would be gret to gather a group of 'friends' us in the 'hooked on blogging and podcasting' kind in UK. We can spin ideas off each other - what do you think out there ?
I must say that my podcast of the week must be Smelly Monkeys http://smellymonkeys.blogspot.com/2006/05/smelly-monkeys-45.htmla podcast by a dad and his sons who have great fun and provide good entertainment into the bargain - check it out.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It was very reasuring to get a positive response to my question regarding spreading the word of web 2.0 from David Warlick on his site (2 cents worth). I was interested in the comments for the posting from Terry Freedman and BlakeJ and Dave himself. I take all of their comments on board - it is very frustrating being relatively early in anew field of communication and wondering how others just plain ' don't get it!'
I realise that it is going to take a great deal of stamina to continue doing the 'stuff' ( podcasts, blogs and digital video ) until everyone else is up to speed. I hope that I have the required stamina - at present this doesn't seem a problem.
The really frustrating point here is that I can clearly see what is being done in other parts of the world ( and Scotland !) and of the eductional benefit to kids. I fear that we are disadvantaging our pupils in the new technological world if we fail to keep up with what's new ( and that is bordering on neglect !!! I feel ).
So I hope that I can get some like minded people together locally to push this forward - I will certainly give it a try - while bearing Terry's advice of making haste slowly in mind ( even though this seems to fly in the face of how fast things are changing )
School will still be there on Monday and 29 students will need teaching how to write and spell ( and how to sharpen their pencils - technology uh ? )
It was good to get a positive response to my plea for help regarding spreading the word of Web 2.0 to my colleagues in school and district ( cluster group of schools). Terry Freedman made the point that being first ( or early) in a field is not always easy, and to make haste slowly - this however is very frustrating, and takes a lot of stamina ( keeping the faith while others gradually catch on ). I hope that I have got that stamina, at present I am very much enthused by what the technology can do for my kids ( in their creative writing - collaborative work ) I hope that I can sustain this amount of effort until everyone else catches on.
I did spend an hour after school with 12 colleagues extolling the virtues of using digital video in the classroom- and plan to lead another session where we will look into audio production - podcasting- using audacity and www.podomatic.com. I hope that I can murture these seedlings of hope and start to get the word out, at least in my own school. I will keep you posted.
It was good to get a positive response to my plea for help regarding spreading the word of Web 2.0 to my colleagues in school and district ( cluster group of schools). Terry Freedman made the point that being first ( or early) in a field is not always easy, and to make haste slowly - this however is very frustrating, and takes a lot of stamina ( keeping the faith while others gradually catch on ). I hope that I have got that stamina, at present I am very much enthused by what the technology can do for my kids ( in their creative writing - collaborative work ) I hope that I can sustain this amount of effort until everyone else catches on.
I did spend an hour after school with 12 colleagues extolling the virtues of using digital video in the classroom- and plan to lead another session where we will look into audio production - podcasting- using audacity and www.podomatic.com. I hope that I can murture these seedlings of hope and start to get the word out, at least in my own school. I will keep you posted.

Friday, September 22, 2006

We have begun podcasting - at present only with my Year 3 class. We are at present in the process of deciding what type of podcast we would like to make - at present it looks as if it is going to be a radio programme format with sections taken by groups of pupils. We dipped our toes in the water with a few discussions - readings and joke sessions - to be found at http://cefnfforest.podomatic.com I can't sing the praises of podomatic too highly at present the site seems well run and moderated with a group of very nice people podcasting on the site, who are very supportive of each other. The people who run and look after the site seem very responsive to us pod-folk as well so if you can hear me Podomatic - thank you.
I have started another group of Year 6 pupils working in lunchtimes being NewsHounds - they are writing articles with photo's and posting the to another great site - Making The News - which is run by E2BN ( East of England Business Network) in association with the Open University. I will try to put in the link we are in the region Wales and at present are the only welsh school using the site.... http://kmi4schools.e2bn.net/uk_mtn/
It is beginning to dawn on me why the day is never long enough and I never seem to be able to sit down for lunch !!!!!!
THE WEEKEND ARRIVES
It hasn't taken very long back in school to make the weekends ( and Friday afternoons when the w/e is in view) hallowed ground. When on school break you forget the amount of energy that you need throughout the teaching day. We have arrived it is Friday evening and the short weekend is laid out before us... time to take a deep breath and relax.

School itself has begun with a bang and as a Primary School ICT Co-ordinator occasionally the bangs are literal... We had a case in point this time last year. We were in the process of going through the Basic Skills application process A colleague and I had spent 3 months gathering all of the information for the visit of the accessor who was due in early October. One of the issues we wanted to work on was giving pupils who needed additional Maths support access to a computer running a Maths Learning Program on a regular basis. We found a great room, being used as a Reading Support Room and set about equipping it with a PC. Problem - no free PC's in school- solution, our Infant School Cook was getting rid of a PC ( win95) and wanted it to go to a good home. Great, all we had to do was wipe all of the program data off the hard drive and load our Maths Program, and timetable the room. All worked well for about a week, and then the day before the accessor was due in, my room which is opposite said Reading Support Room begins to fill with an acrid smoke !!! I rush out of the room and notice a pall of smoke in the corridor coming from the R.S. Room. Once inside I realise that the monitor is in meltdown - quickly turning off the power at a main point we disconnect the machine and allow it to cool down - PC is toast and is disposed of ( environmentally). However the strong electrical smell persist for weeks - Basic Skills accessor sees the funny side of what could have been a very dnagerous/disasterous situation - moral schools should not accept other peoples hand-me downs...
This year has not quite lived up or down to this, however we have had the usual early demise of a few old (win95) PC's and a few elderly printers who have lost their heads and are 'not worth saving'. Hence my Headteacher is steering a wide berth as I am about to land our budget with the inevitable costs of such mortality ( at present a £3,000 suggested replacement cost - much to offset by leasing ). I feel uneasy when other Departmental Heads are told that money will be tight this financial year - but it is ever so.
One situation which I am really fed up with is the problem of replacing fixed digital projectors when they also reach the end of their life expectancy. We have had such an experience as a projector which was bought for ourshinyy new IT Suite in 2000 has also died ( the suite isn't soshinyy either anymore- but has coped well over the years, and has become my second home). Unfortunately when replacing you find out that there is not a standard focal length or prefered height for projectors and so to replace a £600 projector we will have to move and adjust the mounting bracket and support and re- direct all of the trunking for same ( cost - an additional £500), so £1100 to replace a projector ( and I thought prices were falling !!!!)
So far as you can see just a few weeks into a new school year and I am already heading towards a spend of £4,000 out of an already described 'tight budget'.
I asked a colleague the other day if I were the Geography co-ordinator would people coming knocking on my door if a textbook was ripped or a compass was faulty - I think not - however an IT co-ordinator seems to have a constant stream of visits and requests to load or repair or just plain help others with their computer woes - I think that it is time to end rant and have some peaceful weekend time - lean back and relax - ( oh dear apparently our home computer isn't printing properly and someone wants me to have a look !!!!! Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This blog will be the musings of a welsh Primary School teacher who should probably get out more !!!
There are some interesting things happening in the world of Web 2.0 at present with the upcoming K12 online conference http://www.k12onlineconference.org/ which look as if it is going to be an interesting step in global communication using the web. The site is still looking for us out there to give them suggestions for the conference content - another step forward. I know that David Noble at Booruch http://booruch.libsyn.com/ is into skypecasting in addition to running an excellent blog and podcast. I guess the leading light in all Web 2.0 stuff is David Warlick http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/ he who must be the blog/pod guru. You see I told you that I should get out more !!!!
An issue that I would like some feedback on is, how in the rest of the UK ( excluding Wales) laptops for pupils run by e-Learning Foundation works out. Their development Director Ray Moore wrote an article in last week's TES (15th September) headlined Home Sweet Laptop where he was showing how the digital divide is growing between England and Wales in as much as in UK as a whole 58% of homes have a PC and 49% have internet connection, while in Wales the same figures are 51% and 41% apparently lowest in UK apart from Northern Ireland and getting wider( straw pole in my Year 3 class - 15 out of 29 with no PC access at home ). In Wales we do not have the laptop for pupils due to the policy of our Assembly to use their funds in other directions ( that's another story).
The aim is that parents agree to pay £3 per week in order to give their child access to a laptop for use in school and at home ( they have a tie up with AOL for free internet access) - while even £3 is a small amount of money, there will still be parents who will not see the worth of computer access even at that price while others will find even that amount quite high on a regular basis. I would like to know if this disadvantages these pupils even more than when there is no scheme at all - this is a problem that my headteacher wanted clarification on also.

Blog Archive