Monday, December 31, 2007

5 Top Images from 2007

Top 5 (well almost) Images from 2007

Following Ewan McIntosh's Five favourite photo's from 2007 post,
I see that many edubloggers including AllanahK, are joining in so why not?
Here are probably my 5 favourite images from 2007, they are a mixture of the personal and professional.

1. ( even though there are 2!) just have to be pictures of two of the sweetest grandchildren in the world - Abi ( Abigail) aged 1 on 17th January 2007 - the day Jaycob Isaac was born. The top photo is my favourite one of all - not shot by yours truly as you can probably tell ( too in focus and arty!!!), but by Laura ( youngest daughter aged 17!)
The lower shot I love for the look in Abi's eyes towards her brother - they love each other dearly - honestly :-)
This holiday time we have had their and their mother's company many times and as all grandparents will testify that time is precious - even when they wake everyone up at 5am on Christmas morning!

2. Is one of the many we had of our visitor from Moturoa Class, Nelson New Zealand and their teacher - the inspirational Allanah King - Cuddly Kiwi.
CK arrived in October 2006, following our sending the geocaching bear Tiny Ted to New Zealand. These two cuddly toys were the symbols of the link between out 2 schools which grew during 2007, to the extent that Dino from Moturoa came into school to see us while in the UK on holiday and we skyped back to his classmates 12.000 miles away . CK has been much loved over his time in Wales ( presently entertaining my grandchildren before he returns home in the New Year ).

3. This year, like some of my friends who will remain nameless, to spare their blushes - I seem to have passed the milestone of managing to stay alive for 50 years!!!
I wanted a low key celebration unsure of whether I was truly cool with the idea ( I'm still not sure - but just have to live with it).
( Mrs H has this to come in August - also our 25 Wedding Anniversary).
The family did buy me a Ferrari Experience at Silverstone, which in true low key fashion I managed not to actually book until a rainy Saturday in November!!!

4. Is a shot of Joe Dale (looking at the camera) and Mark Pentleton (Radio Lingua Network) - (not looking at the camera!). Having lived life in the virtual world - some may say - get a life!!!! It was great to actually meet up with 3 online colleagues on the last weekend in August this year at the first PodcampUK - the person not in shot, possibly as he wasn't still for long enough is David Noble ( of the influential Booruch Podcast) - David decided to travel from Dalgetty Bay Scotland to Aston Birmingham and back again within the day !!!! he really must be bonkers! Podcamp was a good opportunity for us, education people to meet the commercial guys and gals of the Podcasting Community in the UK - the uncinference nature allowed Joe to do a presentation which was simultaneously video streamed and watched by some of our socio/education network in the US and New Zealand - the power of Web 2.0.

5. Is back to another personal choice - I am sometimes known, ( especially here in Abergavenny!) to bang on just a bit about hockey ( the field variety - not ice!). Abergavenny is a small town with a small club( we run 2 men sides, a ladies side and a range of junior teams), which has been running since 1897 - strangely, no, I haven't been around from the beginning, only since 1973-ish. In my time I have held most of the organisational roles - as people do in small town clubs - I am presently Chairman, 2nd XI Team Captain ( I know I'm too old and decrepit!) and Junior Lead Coach - and to cut a very long story, much shorter the photograph is of our Under 11 team of 2006-2007 who have been playing together since they were mostly 9 - they have come a very long way and in their final tournament in their age range ( now they are a young Under 13 team) they finished runners up in the South Wales Finals in Swansea in May 2007 - a very proud moment for not only me, but also their parents and the club. There I will get off my soapbox now !

I wish everyone who reads or just follows my blog a special and prosperous 2008 - and look forward to the photographs that will be posted :-)

One door closes..... and another opens!

Today marks the change in career for Ddraig Goch. (31st December is my last day working for my LEA - yup I even have my P45!!)
It was a very strange experience to be leaving a job (vocation) that one has tried your best at for 19 years...... but it definitely felt like the right time to change.
It is really only in the past 2 years that my horizons have been broadened. I well remember when I began to podcast myself, before introducing it to my pupils, that I left a comment on Ewan McIntosh's EduBlog asking whether there was anyone in my locality doing the same stuff. Ewan's reply that you will find people in many locations interested in the same ideas, started me on a journey that has not yet stopped..... yet.
Many have said that collaborations within the edublogger community have given them the best CPD ( Continuous Professional Development) they have ever had, are not wrong...... the chance to sound ideas out with colleagues on a global scale is truly liberating..... plus you get to meet ( in my case 99% virtually) such a wonderful group of teachers and administrators who are always pushing the boundaries of what the technology can achieve.
I for one certainly didn't expect to be meeting and collaborating with the edublogger community on such a scale when I started..... and I have certainly met more educators in the past 18 months than during the rest of my career.... and they are everywhere from right here in the UK to USA, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai..... the list goes on.
There have been some strange experiences such as taking part in Educational 'Speed Dating sessions with teachers in the US and New Zealand, and taking part virtually in conference presentations for friends.... indeed I was able on a few occasions to bring those same friends into my presentations for teachers here in Wales. I was asked by another friend, to be a peer assessor for her strand of the K12 Online 2007 UnConference, which was a huge honour.
All of this networking does begin to take over from the daily tasks of teaching, it is very seductive and draws you in - very like the debate over 'how hooked we are to social networking?' ( today I received requests to collaborate with people in both LinkedIn and Pownce).
When the opportunity came along to be more involved in online activities with the International Baccalaureate, it was time for me to weigh up, whether to continue with more of the same or to take that step into the unknown, and face a new challenge...... it was time for change.
I looked recently at the 'Did You Know?' series of presentations started by Karl Fisch, where he looks at the fact that our 7 and 8 year olds are being prepared for a future where the jobs they will do, haven't been invented yet..... there are educators all around the globe who have been involved in Web 2.0 projects who are also at this time considering what the future is for themselves.... changing career or just changing roles?..... many looking at jobs which probably 2 or 3 years ago didn't the end you just have to go with your gut feeling.... I think that 99% of the time your first reaction is the right one.
I fully intend to stay fully involved in the Web2.0 edublogger community, looking at new ways for integrating the tools into learning, but from a slightly different perspective, that of looking for ways to enhance the Professional Development of teachers..... yo don't get rid of this Welshman that easily.
I am also really looking forward to meeting many UK colleagues at the TeachMeet08 on Friday January 11th at the BETT Show in Olympia, London ( for those not lucky enough to be there look out for a live stream either in FlashMeeting or possibly UStream.TV .......)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I just couldn't resist this one :-)

I know, I know !!! I have posted too much already... but this I couldn't resist -Thanks to Karl Fisch and Alec Couros for this gem from YouTube via Nokia .... it just makes you think what happens if our kids come up with 'out there' ideas today... who really knows what will happen.....?? thanks guys.

How organised are you??

I must admit .... personally..... and professionally.... not very. I notoriously have at least one miscellaneous space ( often more). Doing the usual reading of blogs ( it must be that time of year!!)I came across Kathy Shield's RipplingPond blog post on David Weinberger's work Everything is Miscellaneous, it certainly struck a chord with me ( I can't think why -lol). I began only planning to catch a few minutes of the presentation.... and stayed hooked for the full 48 odd minutes... it is definitely worth watching at this time of year as one considers re-organising, do take a look I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Thanks to Kathy for finding this YouTube gem :-)

Author David Weinberger discusses his book "Everything Is Miscellaneous" as part of the Authors@Google series. David Weinberger is the co-author of the international bestseller "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and the author of "Small Pieces Loosely Joined". A fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, Weinberger writes for such publications as Wired, The New York Times, Smithsonian, and the Harvard Business Review and is a frequent commentator for NPR's All Things Considered. This event took place May 10, 2007 at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA

Friday, December 28, 2007

Google Talk v Skype v Twitter !!!

Since I had to return my marvellous MacBook to school, I have been struggling with the problem of not being able to connect with colleagues and friends over Skype , as I have done for the past 9 months or so - I have found this hugely frustrating, I hear part of conversations through Twitter ( pj23harry).
My Dell Inspiron 1300, doesn't like Skype, and in fact I lose all internet connection with Skype running on the laptop.... Today on my trawl through my Bloglines I came across a few articles by Darren Draper on Google Talk (beta). Google's Applications have of late been coming along plugging many gaps in the online experience and Talk appears to plug another. I guess it will be a matter of time and take up as to whether Google Talk becomes a chosen means of communication in the blogosphere, but it certainly has a few plus points going for it - ( although by means of a health warning I haven't yet carried out a conversation using it - should find me though if you want to add me to your list of contacts)
Talk has :
Group Chat
You can now invite multiple people to chat with you in a group using the Google Talk Gadget. When you're chatting with a friend, just click on the "Group Chat" button to invite one or more friends to join the conversation.
Popout support and Flickr slideshows
You can now do more with the Google Talk Gadget. In addition to putting the gadget on your Google Personalized Homepage, you can now pop out the gadget into a separate, small window anytime. This way you can navigate to other websites and still keep your contact list and chats open. And just like running the gadget on your homepage, this way of using Google Talk is completely web-based, and requires no download.
Google Talk Gadget on your Blog
f you have your own webpage or blog, you can also add a button to your site so your visitors can pop out the Google Talk Gadget when they visit your page. If you want them to chat with you, just list your username next to the button and ask visitors to sign in and add you as a contact.
File Transfer
With this top requested new feature, you can send unlimited files and folders to your friends through Google Talk. There is no restriction on the file type or size and the peer-to-peer transfer is fast and reliable
If your friends aren't around to answer your call, you can leave them a voicemail message instead. Just record your voice after the "Meep" and your friends will get an email to their Talk contact address with the voicemail attached as an audio file. They can play your message when they check their email and save it for as long as they want.
There are a wide range of languages which are supported within Google Talk.
Additional goodies
You can also it appears go to private offline conversation person to person if you wish ( similar to the private chat feature in Flashmeeting. You can copy over YouTube and Picassa Albums which can be played directly in the Google Talk Widget.

I can see Google Talk giving the people at Skype some sleepless nights if this catches on, especially as Talk comes into a growing comprehensive suite of 'free' online tools and applications which Google is currently developing. I for one hope that Google Talk will be more reliable on my laptop than Skype has been ..... let battle commence :-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The debate about Learning in the 21st C by 21st C Educators

I am endebted again to Kim Cofino and her colleagues Dennis Harter, Justin Medved, Struan Robinson and Teresa Belisle from the International School in Bangkok, for their energy and enthusiasm for embracing Web 2.0 technology into the curriculum in their recent discussions on Embedding 21st Century Literacy into Curriculum Planning ( Kim is 21st Century Literacy Specialist at the International School) , and also internalising tech such as blogging for their own means of reflection ( this kind of joined up thinking using new technology tools is what, I, for one tried and failed to get embedded in my school/ local area - and may be why I ultimately sought to find people to work with who have this degree of 'vision').
To have teaching colleagues embrace not only blogging but also collaborative Google Docs as a means of not only communicating their ideas must be truly galvanising, but also allowing the wider community to make changes to the document, making it a truly 21st Century work in progress- in Struan's words
"Why do I share this thinking and this story? I come back to the opening anecdote about our visiting literacy specialist who was impressed with our intellectual thinking. It made me reflect- through our daily collaboration, I am challenged everyday. We are asking big questions and although we don’t have all the answers, we are hungry for more. 21st Century thinking… bring it on!!"

It was on Dennis Harter's blog that I came across his post on Why they need us, in which he had used Mike Wesch's thought provoking video as a discussion point on the effectiveness of education in the classroom or lecture room of the 21st Century.

a short video summarizing some of the most important
characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Dr Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Thank you again Kim and the progressive staff at ISB for your work, which I am sure others grappling with implementing and embedding 21st Century Literacies into their Curriculum will find really useful.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tools and Applications of 2007

Reflecting on the year - just Wow!!! what a plethora of tools and applications have appeared in various guises this year - there have been Beta releases of some interesting and very useful tools for the education community this year.
But I believe that as the year end approaches we really need to critically appraise those which have merit and allow those which do not to quietly leave the stage.

For me in the classroom this year :

Voicethread - comes in at Number 1 - great interactive tool allowing almost synchronous commenting on short slide based podcasts ( Allanah K's class did an excellent Voicethread on Money, money, money which received comments from around the globe). Kids love the immediacy of Voicethread - simple, just upload your pictures and make your slidehow, then add your commentary.

Voki is an application which pupils also love as it allows simple recording along with the ability to chose an avatar to speak your words allowing the anonymity which pupils in Primary classes need.

Skype - has allowed us to chat in class to friends in Europe ( our E-Twinning Group) and across the world in New Zealand... though I must say that Skype is now being caught up by other similar applications.

We have continued to find Audacity the winner over Garageband as a podcasting recorder this year.... sorry Apple! ( Garageband is great for creating media as are the rest of the Apple Mac creative media suite) - personally I wouldn't touch anything other than iMovie for dv film making in school ( Digital Blue - poor relation).

For my personal contacts both keeping for keeping in touch with colleagues globally and CPD ( Continuous Professional Development) :

Twitter has been a revelation this year ( many thanks to Sheryl Nussbaum- Beech for introducing me to it) - just great for short notes to friends and colleagues and also a great place to tell people about what you are doing to drum up an audience.

FlashMeeting - has been excellent as a video conferencing application, I have used it for Global Educators Meetings this year - it has also been used for meetings of the UK based EdTechRoundup Group ( more of this in 2008!!!). It has also been tried out by Sharon Toner as a means of communicating to the Voices of the World Group.

Wiki's - I have used Wikispaces to create a place for students to carry out research on The Tudors - which was really useful as a webquest. there are as they say - other wiki sources out ther PB Wiki to name but one. Wiki's have also been a place for organising meetings with teachers - again through EdTechRoundup.

I have dipped my toe into the murky commercial world of Facebook - great for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues - but I like others worry about the commercial use of our data on Facebook. I have also been looking into the uses of Ustream.TV - this could revolutionise the way key notes are given at conferences - live streaming I believe will eventually become the norm.
I must also put in a word for the K12 Online Conference 2007 feeds ( both audio and video podcasts - subscribe and grab them to your iTunes) - and also my aggregators - Bloglines, Netvibes and more recently Google Reader....
Jing also for a while was a great favourite of mine allowing excellent screen capture with audio for walk throughs of programs.... as was Skitch for a while on the Mac.

Top 2 for 2007
School/Class Use - Voicethread
Teacher Use - Twitter

2008 looks like being just as exciting as many new variants of the above programs appear - with a twist - I hope to make greater use of Google - Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations in 2008 along with video streaming applications for teacher training..... so from Ddraig - Goch - I hope that you receive all you wish for on Tuesday - Happy Holiday and Best Wishes from Wales

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Into the Tardis and away..........

One of the many themes which appeared in my final weeks at CefnFforest Primary School was a distinctive Dr Who link ( it all seemed to stem from my wearing a long dark overcoat to our Christmas do...)
It began with a Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver arriving as a present and was followed by the following ( showing an excellent use of ICT skills from the contributors).Thanks to Helen Balmont for this.......

.... and Jo Watson ( far too good with a digital image!!!!) for this scary offering!

I think that you may well agree there is quite enough IT talent left at Cefn Fforest Primary School without me......

I guess that is the end..... just take the name off the door send the kids home with their Christmas cards and ...............................ah yes ............................into the ( no what's this a Police Box well you just have to don't you, for old times sake ??
It's into the Tardis for me.........................................bye.................................................

'Ones Tube' by Royal Appointment

The world's most media savvy octogenarian has done it again as HM Queen has opened a YouTube Channel found here. This comes along with other news that HMQ also has (and uses) her own personal e-mail, and uses a mobile phone.
Some may say that many of these things are put in place cynically by 'The Palace' for publicity purposes, to get a message out bypassing the traditional media routes.... if this is true - it works, and certainly shows the way for younger generations on how to harness the power of the Read Write web put out a personal point of view to the world - very like geriatric1927 was doing this time last year with his personal reflections.

Well Done Your Maj - Silver Surfers Rule :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

End of Term approaches !!!

For the past 19 years the end of term at Cefn Fforest Primary School has been the usual round of Christmas Performances, Parties and Christmas Craft activities.... usually just about leaving the classroom in a decent state for the return in January. Not so this year, yes the Christmas rush is the same, but of course.................. I will not be returning to the school in January, as I will be embarking on a new career and new challenges with the International Baccalureate.
Something that I hadn't expected happened on Monday evening when I was duped into attending a 'Staff Meeting' which was actually a surprise party in our Infant Hall..... gullible .... moi! (yup)
It was absolutely fabulous not only to see current colleagues but also a host of previous colleagues .... to say shocked and stunned would definitely be an overstatement. In my usual naive way I was hoping to make a quiet exit ( I am good at those!). Ha!!! not so lucky. I did my usual getting emotional bit, it really makes one appreciate the friendship that builds up with colleagues over the years.... and yes it is always the cue for the 'stories' to start, and we are no exception - there are events that have become fokelore in and around Cefn Fforest over the years.
Friday afternoon approaches when I will close my classroom door for the final time at CFP, I am not sure how that will feel yet.........

I am very much looking forward to the challenges which lie ahead with the International Baccalaureate, if it comes close to the feeling I had at interview it is going to be an excellent experience. I am looking forward to meeting up with my online buddies at Ewan McIntosh's TeachMeet 08 at BETT on Friday 11th January........ more reflections to come when Friday is over.

This blog will obviously evolve in 2008, however I will still be looking for inspirational products which can enhance teacher's own learning and for tools which can be used within classrooms..... so for now Many Thanks for following the ramblings of the Old Welsh Dragon, I hope still to be of service into 2008 and beyond to the wider edu-blogging community :-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Veodia - Live Video Streaming

The Live TV Studio In Your Browser™

"Veodia offers the first TV-Quality live broadcasting and publishing Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

Using MPEG-4 / h.264 technology, Veodia's video broadcasting service makes it easy and inexpensive for businesses, universities, religious institutions, and even professional bloggers to broadcast high-quality live video and digitally archive content for on-demand viewing or podcasting. "
I came across Veodia via a circuitous route, by looking at David Noble's (Booruch Podcast) Links and finding my way the the Thunder Blog..... and a post there for Veodia. Having dabbled in Ustream.TV ( and taking part in a live link up with **Brian Crosby in Reno last week), I am currently interested in the use of live streamed video for teacher Professional Development - particularly looking into it as a delivery method for the follow-up to online training, or even as the medium for the online training.( if you take a look on Ustream.TV, Wes Fryer, Miguel Guhlin, David Jakes and Will Richardson to name drop a few people have all tried live streaming from conferences recently).
I had an immediate response to my joining as one of the Veodia people contacted me with a view to discussing how Veodia could be used in my area of interest. Hopefully with a skype contact there is going to be an interesting conversation to come here..... I'll keep you posted, but do take a look for yourselves..... more interesting educational uses for technology.

** Brian Twittered today about some sad news for him, his classroom was broken into the other night - sounds like some determined criminals as they battered their way in through a protected window - I hope that not too much of the tech stuff that his students has been affected by this disruption - I hope that all is well Brian.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

iPM and the Planet-Scicast

I was rushing home and changing for our staff night out on Saturday afternoon ( the event doubling as my Leaving Party - held by the way at the BBC Restoration Show 2004 runner-up Newbridge Memo)
While in the usual panic searching for socks!!! I was trying to listen to BBC's iPM programme which was covering the Planet Scicast, a site where great video of Science Experiments have been posted
" Eddie Mair spoke to Professor Michael Reiss about Planet Sci-Cast's efforts to popularise science on the internet."
Professor Reiss (Director of Education at the Royal Society and Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education), in the interview came back to the fact that pupils move from the UK Primary (Elementary) sector to the Secondary (High School) sector being extremely switched on to Science, and that it appears that the teaching of Science at the higher level turns these kids off in their droves - leading to a drop in those taking Science at GCSE, AS and A level in the UK. Professor Reiss believes very much that it is the teaching style adopted in many UK schools which is putting kids off Science, and Planet-Scicast is an attempt to promote and bring back the experimentation into Science. I allows schools, pupils and teachers to submit films of Science in Action which others can then access and use ( a kind of ScienceTube I guess!)... take a look and see what you think!
In another interesting development Chris Vallence told iPM about Arden - a virtual world of William Shakespeare's Richard III.

The Race to the End of Term

I am trying to pack as much new tech stuff as I can into my last few weeks in school. The run up to Christmas is always hectic as we have embarked on, not only our Christmas production (plus rehearsals), fortunately fairly low key this year.... a brief Nativity. We are also hard at work on our Design Technology Project - 'Making Money Containers' QCA Speak - purses and wallets to those who speak plain English. This plus many other of the usual last minute things to do ( ooh must remember our Christmas Cards as well !!!).
I am determined to build in New Technology into some of our curriculum projects also, to this end I began 3 weeks ago with my class of Year 4 pupils ( aged 8-9 ) on the adventure game MYST III - ExileWe are using it as both as a way of exploring an alien environment - making class decisions about our next move. Also we are attempting to describe feelings and our emotions as we explore - the landscape is excellent for descriptive writing ( the sound and graphics - allowing full 360 degree rendering is fabulous - and one of the class bought a copy from E-Bay for £3.95 - seen in shops for £5 - a snip at that price).
Here is a taster video from the Myst people.

I teach our other Year4 class IT on a Thursday afternoon, last week we were unable to get in to use our IT Suite- so spent the session exploring the worlds of Samorost I and Samorost II - it was great fun describing the planets and the main character's space ship ( which looks suspiciously like an old tin can )We had great fun coming up with a name for the little character - we called him Ooze and his dog Oozy, it was an enjoyable session - indeed the time seemed to go so quickly as we were immersed in a strange alien landscape.
** Update - I have just been visiting Dan Plane's Blog and found a glimpse into the future of gaming and simulating worlds which is absolutely mind blowing, and, as Dan says far and away beyond what the UK QCA authorities could ever have had in mind. From the developers of Little Big Planet.....

We have been podcasting quite a bit lately and it was a really positive point for the class to see that we we were at the top of the PodOmatic K12 Education podcasts for a few weeks with the most views ( about 1000 per week) and downloads ( around 70-80 per week) - this is really cool for a school in such an out of the way place as ours in the Welsh Valleys - a big thank you to anyone who downloaded our podcasts. We are also planning to take part in the Voices of the World - December Task ( Sharon Toner's OneVoice Ning project) so ..... a quiet lead in to Christmas - ha, life is never that simple in Primary Education!
As a p.s. - our visiting Kiwi (Cuddly Kiwi) will be climbing into an envelope for his return to Moturoa Class in Nelson, New Zealand very shortly, having had a fabulous 13 months in Wales - he has been very much loved ( and probably needs the rest in the envelope to be truthful!).

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