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!!!'

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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.

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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...

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