Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Hockey Season closes!

Abergavenny Chronicle Thursday 20th March 2008

I must admit to a certain amount of relief that this hockey season has finished. It has been a frustrating season with me as 2nd XI captain having to cancel too many matches due to a lack of players ( thanks largely to us having to provide players for our promotion chasing 1st XI). Ultimately it left my side floundering at the bottom of our division, however our 1st's did get their promotion, so for the club I guess a good result in the end.

The report above form the Abergavenny Chronicle is a fair reflection on the match, however I am still not sure whether to take paragraph 6 as a compliment or not???

Friday, March 28, 2008

Flu! and Radio 2

There must be a law which states that when you take a few days off you fall victim to a cold ( Mrs H calls it man flu!!!) When I was teaching this didn't really matter as everyone is on vacation anyway or would be as it is the Easter Break still here..... however when I now have to take annual leave to get the days off, and have to look after the 27 1/2 of them very carefully, it is reallllly reallly annoying to spend 3 out of the 4 this week, in bed taking paracetamol and keeping up my fluids!!!
There was me thinking that I would be immune from colds now I was out of the classroom, another myth broken!
BBC Radio 2 and the Steve Wright in the Afternoon has kept me amused over the past few days in bed with nothing much else to do. Do take a listen to the podcast of their hilarious interview with Donald Sutherland from this afternoon.... however all of this is not what I wanted to post. Listening to Miles Mendoza's website of the week feature today he mentioned a new site Adobe Photoshop ExpressThis site from Adobe will allow you to upload your photos and use a full range of photoshop tools to enhance you images, you can also store up to 2GB of images on the site - looks good especially for those of us loathed to pay for Photoshop!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Questionaut from BBC Bitesize

Thanks to John Suttion at Creative ICT for this new addition to the BBC Bitesize revision material, which looks to me suspiciously like an excellent link up between the BBC and those people from Samorost!, as the BBC describe it :
"Journey through strange worlds and test your knowledge of English, Maths and Science on this magical mission to recover your friend’s hat."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tiny Ted is going to Arizona, USA

An old friend resurfaced recently( thanks to Moturoa School), Tiny Ted who began life at Cefn Fforest Primary School on a damp October back in 2006( thanks to Miss Watson - a great geocacher) and has travelled the world visiting classrooms and pupils on his way ( from New Zealand to the USA).... he now appears to be graduating and is going to Arizona State University to work with Dr Alice Christie, no doubt giving her his insights on how a geocaching toy can be used bring pupils from different continents together to discuss their lives and experiences. I know that everyone involved with Tiny Ted wishes that they could have travelled along with him...... We look forward to the continuing story of Tiny Ted's Big Adventure and will conitinue to keep you posted.

Below is the post from Moturoa :

Tiny Ted is going to Arizona, USA

We haven't heard from Tiny Ted in a while but he is now off on a new adventure to Arizona, USA He is going to have a visit with the Post Master in Trussville before beginning the journey to Dr. Alice Christie at Arizona State University. She teaches geocaching to teachers around the US and has volunteered to help Tiny Ted find a good home in Arizona.

Thank you for letting Tiny Ted visit Alabama. We will miss him greatly!

Mrs C, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Environmentally friendly learning

Learning online can save the planet? Is there any evidence to prove that in addition to being a new and interesting way to learn, that by taking part in learning online we can save energy, acording to, a directory of online learning, there is a significant saving
made by online learning.
"Their assertion is backed up by a study by the UK’s Open University Design Innovation Group (PDF) which found that distance learning courses produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions and consumed almost 90% less energy than taking a conventional campus course. The majority of the energy and carbon savings comes from the absence of output on things like travel, heating, facilities and the like for online education. Interestingly, they also found that part time campus study, as opposed to being a full time on-campus student, cut carbon emissions by nearly two thirds." Celsias February 4, 2008 · Filed under Education by Leslie Berliant

When we look at this from the perspective of training teachers in an online environment, where the teachers are based in their schools around the world ( perhaps 13 countries represented by 20 participants in on online workshop) - the economy of scale for the presenting organisation plus the global energy savings are a huge driver of this form of education in the fututre.

"Online learning, which grew by 10% in the US last year and now accounts for 3.5 million students, has also had the added benefit of bringing education opportunities to populations that ordinarily can’t afford it, financially or in terms of the time commitment."Celsias February 4, 2008 · Filed under Education by Leslie Berliant

Twitter by CommonCraft

Many thanks to Miguel Guhlin for showing the way to this latest offering from Lee LeFever and the CommonCraft gang to explain Twitter to the masses!
Check it out online or at Youtube

Bottom Up does it work ?

Part of the frustration that I believe has persuaded myself and others to either leave the education sphere or radically change their roles within it is linked to the nature of the bottom up/ top down issue of the use of web 2.0 technology in schools in England and Wales..... I exclude Scotland as I believe that in Scotland the movers and shakers 'get it'.
Pretty well all of the developments in using web 2.0 tools to assist in global collaborative projects have come from teachers not administrators. There has been some stirling work done by a growing group of teachers right across the country( Sharon Toner's voices of the world, Linda Hartley's Flickr Group on Classroom displays, and many school podcasts across the country) and indeed some teachers are being recognised by the developers of the applications that they have been using and asked to contribute to the knowledge base of these organisations. The spin off of this is that these teachers have shown new ways that the technology can be made relevant to the classroom, however this is still isolated teachers acting on their own initiative to develop an approach to teaching and learning.
Until we have the ear of those who shape the curriculum we are whispering in the dark( a clean version!), and even risk believing that the group who appear to be inside the goldfish bowl are representative of the majority of teachers, when we know that this is certainly not the case.
So, how do we break out of this and reach a tipping point for the use of the technology in England and Wales? An interesting question the answer to some of which we have in our own hands, leading practitioners such as Joe Dale who has developed his reputation firmly in the area of Second Language teaching, Tom Barrett in the use of web 2.0 tools in the Primary Sector and Doug Belshaw in the use of technology in the Secondary sector would be ideal as advocates of the technology to the QCA et al - but how do you achieve this without taking those teachers away from their first love, which is of course teaching children?
It is difficult, and actually what seems to be happening is that some of the early adopters of the technology in the classroom become frustrated with the painfully slow process of change and actively seek an alternative, be it becoming an independent supplier of web 2.0 solutions to schools or switching professions..... we in the rest of the UK need to adopt a system akin to the Scottish model where the use of collaborative applications is actively encouraged from above. If you want to read more about community building from top down or bottom up take a look at a recent post on the topic from Ewan McIntosh.
My firm hope is that all of the effort that has been put into projects using an array of excellent 'free' tools will some day become the norm rather than the interesting oddity that it appears to be at the moment.
I am speaking now from a position where this style of communication and use of tools is seen as vital to the development of teachers and pupils in our schools, where the international/collaborative ethic is a key component of all of the programmes, which is why I opted into this as a system which is working top down, rather than opting out of the state system!
I would like to hear if this view is only my contorted wrangling or if it is felt in similar ways in education systems in other parts of the world..... or as Terry Wogan would say....'Is it me?'

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Blogging world does care!!!

Yes it is me, after a long time offline I have suddenly realised that it is the community of fellow bloggers that I have missed over the past 2 months...... to put things into context, I have now moved into what may loosely be called a 'proper job'.
I have joined a small keen group of web 2.0 savvy colleagues in the PDRD ( Professional Development and Research Division) at the International Baccalaureate. I find myself amongst people who understand aggregators and the use of web 2.0 techniques such as blogs and podcasts.... it is like suddenly visiting a new planet where they understand the language you speak perfectly and indeed even talk back to you and ask advice. In this environment, my new role has been to develop and promote online workshops for IB teachers and this is what I have been doing - all day every day ( an interesting change from teaching where in a day I might never actually achieve what I had planned to do - now I DO!!!!).
There is another strange spin off from the change ...... weekends actually exist as do evenings when one does not have to take out huge files and fill them full of writing that no one will ever read.
Obviously there are the things that one misses such as the inspiration that pupils can be, also I am not involved in global projects with other classes which is a big miss. I do not miss the fact that as a teacher one feels pretty beleaguered on occasions, knocked as I was by changing policies and the seemingly low esteem that we were held in by some parents.......those I do not miss at all

However I am in my element all day being online viewing material that teachers are producing and getting involved in planning new online opportunities for IB teachers. However one spin off of the new job is that spending all day online means that the burning need to be online at home in the evenings has receded, over the past month I would be more likely to turn a computer off at home rather than turn it on....... my email in box actually got to 600 unread emails, which tells its own story!!!!
However as this blog title states the blog community does care, When I got home from work on Thursday evening this week our answering machine was blinking its red eye, and on pushing the play button, I heard Allanah King from New Zealand checking up on how I was!!!! I have found out since that that wasn't the first time Allanah had tried to ring me, following concern from Lisa Durff. Now for someone to ring from New Zealand on a pay call is something and has shaken me from my blogging wilderness..... I actually posted on my Skype page a question ....Can one suffer from Bloggers Block? I now believe that you can, it happens if you change your outlook and lose regularl contact with your circle of friends...... I hadn't realised how much it had happened to me!

I feel bad as I have had a hazy view on what friends have been up to such, as the ULearn conference in New Zealand and other projects...... so if you will forgive me for forgetting my friends or seeming to Ddraig Goch would like to announce that he is back, and you never know The Podfather may well be roused into podcasting again.... perhaps with more thought to production values! Or perhaps not!

Ddraig Goch Returns

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