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 !!!

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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.

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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



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