Saturday, January 19, 2008

Facebook woes

The social networking site Facebook has had a difficult couple of weeks in 2008. Firstly there was the fact that of course Facebook is a business and as such attracts businesses and others trying to 'make a buck' from the millions of individuals on Facebook.... some of us in the education field tend to disregard this fact, but again it is a business and is there to generate money. To be fair the originators of Facebook have never denied this fact.... it just requires more vigilance on the users of the site, particularly in the information that you put on your profile page.... remember this is viewable to some extent by any other Facebook user, and as the discussion later in this post, is very difficult to hide or delete from the site.
The second piece of news which I found disappointing was the news on Wednesday that Scrabulous, a great little application in Facebook has had to be removed, another business decision as reported on the BBC Technology News page.

Facebook has been asked to remove the Scrabulous game from its website by the makers of Scrabble.

The Facebook add-on has proved hugely popular on the social network site and regularly racks up more than 500,000 daily users.

Lawyers for toy makers Hasbro and Mattel say Scrabulous infringes their copyright on the board-based word game.
The move has sparked protests by regular fans of Scrabulous keen to keep the add-on running."

I first found my way to scrabulous when invited to play by Dean Shareski over the Christmas break, it was great fun to play a game between me here in Wales and Dean in Moose Jaw, Canada. It was great fun to play the parlour game while around 5,000 miles apart. The battle is between Hasbro and Mattel and is of course driven by money as much as rights. I tend to agree with Karl Savage who was interviewed by Radio 5 Live in the UK
"A lot of people are saying shame on Hasbro, shame on Mattel, if you wouldn't be so short-sighted about this then you have an opportunity to actually make some money from this rather than alienate your existing customers. I'd say find some common ground. Look at licensing," added Mr Savage. "Perhaps sit down together and say look, these guys have created this fantastic piece of software that lots of people use why not employ them or have a similar product on there that is licensed but use that to advertise your other products?"
Apparently again as rumours abound at a time like this, there are suggestions that the 2 companies are in talks to bring out their own Scrabulous style game..... business, money again!
The most recent Facebook related questions appeared on Friday when I was listening to the radio and heard of the problems some users have had when they wanted to remove their details from Facebook.
Again form the BBC Technology feed,

" Facebook is to be quizzed about its data protection policies by the Information Commissioner's Office.

The investigation follows a complaint by a user of the social network who was unable to fully delete their profile even after terminating their account."

"At present, Facebook users who wish to remove their profile from the site are given the opportunity to deactivate their account. But once deactivated the information, though no longer accessible, remains on Facebook's computers.This is useful if you might reactivate your account later, but not the same as full deletion."

All of these issues just reinforce in my mind the vigilance that we all need to exercise when using any of these web based applications..... I hope that those in charge don't use these issues as scaremongering to put in additional blocking of sites. Just again as with other posts of mine lately, it seems to be a bit of a theme, to use the opportunity to make a learning/teaching opportunity for online citizenship..... I hope so.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Networks enable Discussion

It was sometime yesterday while following my Twitter network ( for those who have been living under a stone for the past few months ) - (Twitter a 140 word instant messaging system that enables people to create their own personal learning group).

I was following the chat between friends in the US and Australia when I picked up on a discussion about the Future Learning in a Networked World travelling Conference ( which runs from 16th to 28th January), in particular that an online friend Kim Cofino and her colleagues at the International School Bangkok were hosting a live Ustream'ed discussion from the school this morning ( 5am UK!).
This is interesting for me, because not only have I been following Kim and her colleagues work for quite a long time, but for me now they are a highly motivated Online connected IB school.
The discussion today was largely lead around reading acquisition...
In the room at ISB were staff from ISB including foreground right Justin Medved and left Kim herself. To Justin's side is Michael Coghlan and John Eyles, to Kim's side is Webhead Vance Stevens, further down the table are staff from Bangkok.
In the discussion area were up to 20 educators again from around the globe. The discussion was very much a dialogue -
Vance talked us through his presentation

While the discussion ranged around how children acquire reading skills in the modern world, whether technology is always the panacea, or that technology has to be part of a balanced approach to educating our pupils.
Again the discussion came up to a well known hurdle - how many teachers are actually switched on to using these new technologies ...... even such obvious ones to those 'in the loop' such as Delicious and Twitter.
I will leave you to listen to the discussion here - also if you want to see what things looked like from the other end of the conversation look out for Flickr photographs tagged flnw08 - this will grow I am sure as things progress..... thanks to all in the real and virtual room for a lively and interesting discussion .... special thanks to nzchrissy for acting as a link between real and virtual rooms :-) and of course to Kim, Justin and the staff from ISB.
It also shows The power of personal networking in the 21st Century.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Was this the 'Star of the Show' ?

The ASUS Eee PC 701 ( or the mini mac )
This cool little machine the Asus EeePC 701, it certainly made all of those who saw it sit up and take notice - my fellow IB staff and I certainly gave it a thorough check out and found it quick enough to pick up a wireless network and also it handled a web page pretty well, just cutting extreme edges.The Asus runs the Linux operating system with 4 GB solid state memory( with SD card slot for some expansion) and a good suite of pre-installed software :-
Google Docs ( allowing for online storage of text and spreadsheets)
OpenOffice Suite
Mozilla Firefox Browser
and all in a package which charges with a mobile phone style charger ( giving about 3 1/2 hour battery life), and a very small desktop footprint :

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions (W x H x D) 225x35x165mm
Weight 0.92 kg
Available colours White
It would certainly for the price from RM of £169 +VAT make a great deal of sense for classroom use and help towards One Laptop per Child.
in the UK Education sphere the Asus is being distributed by RM ... read the full report here.

** Keep your eyes open for reductions in prices as a new ASUS Eeepc is due out in June 2008**

First Impressions of BETT 2008

( Mr McIntosh the photographer caught at BETT 08)
The previous post may seem a bit odd!!! however it was a challenge laid down by that lovely Mr McIntosh at the TeachMeet that he would give 7 £1 drink vouchers to the first person to blog about what BETT would look like in 2035....... Draig Goch can never miss the challenge of something for free ( Welsh !!!!).
BETT was its usual self and I will probably post over the next few days on the 'wow' objects of 2008. But for now I want to praise the organisers for giving Prof Stephen Heppell a 'Learners of the Future' ( Stephen Heppell, Alex Savage (back to camera) and Ewan McIntosh in the background)
space in the middle of the main floor. Here among the 'SALESMEN' :-( from all of the heavyweight educational suppliers, was a haven of good practice.
There were children actually showing visitors how they used an interactive whiteboard. Prof Heppell had also arranged for a group of Advanced Skills Teachers to show how they actually approach the curriculum using new technology.... of course as we already know, ( but need to let our colleagues now!) most of these are FREE and OPEN SOURCE.
The talk that I caught with a good audience was Alex Savage from Notre Dame High School in Norfolk.Alex and his pupils have used a range of applications from wiki's to blogs and podcasts to develop the set curriculum in ways which are meaningful to pupils and again mostly not with proprietary stuff but with freely available applications ( it was quite good that Alex was talking alongside Softease and the PODIUM podcasting product ..... actually mentioning Audacity ... well done Alex).
Looking at Ewan's later question on what BETT will look like in the future, I realise that big money companies pay towards the show, but wouldn't it be better to have a slightly smaller show where pupils and teachers actually show how relevant products, not those bored staff from big providers.

All of the best stuff that I saw on Friday was being delivered by teachers!(no bias honest!!!)
Flashmeeting of Teachmeet08 (watch from 1hour on....)
This was exemplified by those who waited until the witching hour of 6pm for the great Teachmeet 08, (as Mr McIntosh said, the first time TeacMeet has left Scotland), it was a room full of the great and the good of the Edublogosphere and web 2.0 world in the UK..... a list would be bound to leave people out, but here goes :
Doug Belshaw ( formerly Teaching Mr Belshaw now Doug Belshaw) EdTechRoundup
Dave Stacey ( Olchfa Secondary School, Swansea)
Anthony Evans ( Skinny Boy Evans and Redbridge ICT)
Terry Freedman ( Coming of Age and ICT in Education)
Linda Hartley (Acting to Improve: Informal Learning)
Karyn Romeis (Karyn's Erratic Journey)
Lisa Steven ( Lisibo and ¡VĂ¡monos!)
Jo Rhys Jones ( Primary MFL Ning Community)
Jeff Howson ( E2BN - Flashmeeting and Making the News - IT Consultant)
Drew Buddie ( Moodle King)
John Warwick ( E2BN - Flashmeeting, Deputy Head of St Luke's School)
Lee Davis ( IBO OLPS Blog)
Joe Dale ( MFL in my Classroom)
Mr Doug Dickenson (Dougmuses)
Alex Savage ( Notre Dame High School)
Leon Cych ( Learn4Life)
Mark Pentleton ( Coffee Break Spanish et al )... on the flashmeeting catch Drew Buddie's excellent presentation ( at 3 hours 1 minute and 6 seconds)..... Monster Presentation Drew :-) .
Apologies if anyone has been missed from the list.... it had been a long day, it was a shame really that the best bit was at the end ...... a great big thank you to the wee man Mr Ewan McIntosh for getting the whole thing going ...... thanks from Mr H.... more on BETT later :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Teachmeet 2035!!!

Virtually no one in the room ...... but everyone in the virtual room ........ what will the suppliers do??? no bags..... no sweets...... no goodies!!!! Just the people who actually want to be there :-)

It will save many teachers and presenters from becoming exhausted by spending 4 days of their lives trudging around a large hall full of other exhausted people !!!!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Google Presentations are now Embeddable

Thanks to Twitterpal - Alex Couros ( courosa) for this tip off from WebWare ( Cool Web 2.0 Apps for Everyone).
"The Google Docs team, has posted on their blog about the availability of a few new features for Google Presentations to start off the new year. The most significant of the new features is the ability to embed slide shows in web pages. It's not a surprise that Google decided to go this route, given the huge success of embeddable video with YouTube and other embeddable content around the web." Harrison Hoffman

Here is the collaborative Google Presentation that was amended by a whole host of teachers last year.

To find this go to the Publish option in Google Presentations and you will now see the embedding code which can be copied across into your blog. As you can see below:

I have to agree with Harrison in his article, that to truly move the game on Google need to work on adding to Google Presentations a wider range of add ons which will give a more professional aspect to people's work - however if 12 months ago someone had said, that we would be able to save presentations on the web which could be amended/ added to by colleagues anywhere around the world, I for one would have been sceptical ..... these days we sometimes expect too much :-)

Once again thanks to Alex for the heads up on this one.... Links

Friday, January 04, 2008

Heard on the radio.......

I should be concentrating on my reading ( blogs and bloglines.....), but I just heard these and they tickled my odd sense of humour -
BBC Radio 2 - question from Mark in Carlisle :-
Why is the word abbreviation so long?
Why is there only one word for a Thesuarus ?
I know, it takes all sorts, but I was just in the right mood for it too really make me giggle !!!
It is a little like the Uxbridge English Dictionary Terms, from BBC Radio 4's - I'm Sorry I haven't a clue!
( Warning UK humour)
lavish -(def) a little like a toilet.
gravy - (def) cemetery like.
pantry - a place to hang your underwear.
ladish - a chinese vegetable.

Time now to go and lie down - I can't read now! :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Passionately Curious!

I have tried edublogs out a few times before, and have never found it as user friendly as Blogger, but with a new year and new role/responsibilities I thought that the time was right to try again - if it takes off 'Passionately Curious' ( part of an Einstein quote) may well take over from Ddraig-Goch, time and Edublogs permitting, we will see - I tried it out with the live issue of the banning or not of new tech gadgets in schools ..... let me know what you think !
"Thanks to Allanah King who has commented on Twitter before the virtual ink is dry on the post!" I still don't know how that lady manages to be the first to read and comment on blogs - I don't think she sleeps :-).

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