Tuesday, July 29, 2008

'Newsflash! from Sean
It looks like the dates for the 2008 UK MoodleMoot will be October 16th and 17th. We are just finalising the venue details at present, but we suggest that if you wish to attend and present, that you send in your name and an outline as soon as you can (until we can get the database for this set up, please email them to Jon Allen, Jason Cole or myself). We apologise for the delay in announcing this - the difficulty lay in finding a venue large enough for the size that the Moot has grown to, without having to charge a small fortune in registration fees.

As soon as we have more information about the venue, and details regarding registration, we will post them here.'

by Sean Keogh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Audacity and MP3 conversion on Eeepc

The final element has now been achieved, and would have been done much sooner had this 'old' dragon thought carefully about what he was doing in the Linux command line. As you can see below audacity recordings can now be converted into mp3 format.

Thanks to daria ( a french blogger-le blogue!) and his link to this simple and yet so important piece of code:

To compile put the lame file you downloaded in your user folder
Right click it and select extract all followed by ok
Go into the lame folder you just made
Click tools then open console window
Type sudo apt-get install build-essential
then type su
after you enter your password type ./configure
then type make
then type make install
That should be it Audacity should find the file automatically.

So simple but it works, and once in audacity preferences it will happily find the 'lame encoder' Now Eeepc900 is a fully functioning podcasting machine...................the podfather has to try it out......soon.

Implementing a powerful Learning Community

Dean Groom from Parramatta Marist High School in Australia makes some very salient points in his recent post on kicking off a learning community. Firstly that we have to forget the tools and the buzz words with the kids...... don't introduce blogging, just start a reflective writing project where people will feel free to write, and others will feel free to comment. I very much agree with Dean in getting away from our over use of the names of the latest whizzy tool, I believe that this puts off the less intrepid teacher who would have a go if we were less tool led (I will get down off my soapbox now!)
Secondly, Dean as many of us believe that you have to grow this collaboration it cannot be imposed in a false way, it has to be organic using the medium that your pupils find most relevant to their voice, also don't be afraid to scaffold the learning along the way, and also to use issues which arise as 'learning opportunities' not as so often happens, as a means of curtailing discussion and as a result the whole learning experience for the pupils. I found as well that if this process is given time to grow it will take firmer root in our pupils psyche and will just become the NORM and you will have a growing community whole will act as advocates for this method of learning. All of which brings me back to Dean's excellent presentation below. Thank you for sharing this piece Dean. Learn more about Dean's work on Project Based Learning (PBL) here (courtesy of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Birthday Present

Having recently returned from NECC08, I was presented with a rather nice birthday present today from the OPLS team here at the IB - a T Shirt and mouse mat with the logo above :-)
Thanks guys, I really appreciate it ;-)
I am sure that a photo of me wearing the said garment will appear here soon....... even though as you may have noticed I hate having my photo taken.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mr Freedman goes to print

Mr Terry Freedman has been very busy over the past months, working as usual with willing collaborators from around the world to produce his new publication Web 2.0 Projects which follows his 2006 project Coming of Age V1 (now available in pdf format here)
Terry would welcome our feedback on the project, so if you have any points to raise follow the links on this page to leave your thoughts. All I can say is thank you Mr Freedman for continuing to promote and encourage the use of new technologies in classrooms both here in the UK and around the world..... dear reader you re encouraged to download the publications and use them with staff in your schools........ please.

Twine (beta invite)

Twine looks like one of those killer apps even before it comes out of beta testing. The idea of being able to use Twine as a semantic web interface to grow your network and all of you related feeds automatically is surely long overdue. More of these Web 3.0 semantic applications will appear as RDF technology begins to be embedded into them, it will undoubtedly help in the growth of online communities...... excellent I am waiting for my invite to join in :-) Take a look at what Twine should be able to do here.

Further Eeepc developments

As I become more adventurous with my Linux coding I discover how capable the Asus Eeepc900 is. If you look very carefully at the screenshot above you may just notice in the top left hand corner of the screen, an old friend ....... Audacity ( my favourite podcast recording software) ** message to Joe Dale following a conversation on Sunday - Yes Audacity on the Eeepc900 **
Here is a screenshot of Audacity running on the KDE operating system on the Eeepc, recording with a headset and mic is preferable to using the built in mic (I guess you might in an emergency, however it is not very good quality!). The coding was not at all difficult after a few false starts (code I used here), I reckon 10 minutes tops to get the coding done and Audacity up and running.
All I have failed to do now is find out how to open the lame.dll file to fully enable MP3 conversion- so if anyone else out there has a fail safe way of enabling the lame.dll file I will owe them a drink!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

World of Warcraft in the classroom!!

As part of my researches into the use of gaming in the classroom, I found myself in a large darkened room at NECC being taken into the wonderful World of Warcraft by Leslie Fisher. Some may know of my own ventures into the use of the Myst game in the Primary classroom, so it is a field which is of interest to me, as I guess it is for others.

Once you enter the World you create your avatar and what type of character you are with your characteristics ( mostly though not exclusively violent!).
Once settled in you can choose to accept a 'Quest' - questing gives them experience. In the World it takes you an enormous amount of time to reach the higher levels ( now 80 levels in all, and growing all of the time!) however you do have to break the questing down into small steps.

You need to go to the getting started guide you need to research the game this is a higher level skill that pupils have to achieve, so the higher level kids will soak up this like a sponge. The game will also improve pupils spelling skills and has an etiquette all of it's own, strangely not tolerating poor behaviour or bad spelling, while accepting random violence!.

There are many online sites around the world helping newbies to come to grips with their 'new world' although you will have to use your critical skills to source the best information. There are forum groups eg thottbot.com for information forums on questing and all things 'Warcraft'.
Social interaction- it doesn't matter who the individuals online as none knows who you are - very like 2life. Also there is complete equality online disability does not exist in an online environment
Bad language and being impolite are not tolerated nor is poor spelling.

You can buy or sell to people along the way thus earning money. You get rewarded for progressing in the game. You can also make things as you go along.
This game is totally immersive and will allow kids to develop their spatial awareness skills.
there are professions for characters from level1 it takes 15,000hours to reach level 70. Once you purchase the game you have to pay a regular monthly fee *see below from Wikepedia

Suggested Retail Price Monthly Fee Paid Character Transfer Fee Charactername Change Fee
Europe €14.99[60] €11-€13[60] €20[61] €8
United Kingdom £9.99[60] £7.70-£9[60] £15[61] £6
North America
US$20[62] $13-$15[63] $25[64] $10
AU$29.95[65] US$14.99[65] US$25[65] US$10[65]

* These rather garbled notes were taken during Lesley's presentation, in the darkened room, my feelings on the WoW, it's a great looking environment and gives great feedback to the player/players who are online........ its use in an educational setting is less clear cut - we heard tales of youngsters globally who are playing the game (at home) I am not sure that school authorities would see past the violent reputation of these games, it does have some educational value however it is unlikely that you will see it in a classroom near you anytime soon!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Conference or Unconference?

Apparently the queue for the main exhibit hall resembled the opening of the January Sales on Oxford Street, I can't comment as not only wasn't I there, but I wouldn't have wanted to be either!
The stroll along the Riverwalk to the Convention Centre was as relaxing as usual, in the pleasant summer heat. I guess that San Antonio differs greatly from other American cities, in that above ground is an American city, which seems a little quiet compared to others, while below and flowing under those city streets The Riverwalk is where the city comes alive - all of the bird song that you here is down there, while the bustling arteries that are the Riverwalk are rich in the sights, smells and sounds of this city so close to Mexico.
Contrast this to the vast air conditioned Convention Centre, large, impersonal and COLD! I was in discussion this afternoon with a group of teachers who were a mix of newbies like me and some 'old hands' about the ethics behind the conference, what is the target audience for these 'Mega' conferences? The conclusion was......... not us. But and it is an important but, to pull in a wide range of national and international visitors an event like this has to have a critical scale and reputation.
( For me San Antonio City = Conference Centre, The Riverwalk = Unconference! It is difficult to be objective though from inside the tank!)(cc image from Hapal )
It is really difficult, as the edublogger community's main focus is to bring in others, to show them what is possible if they are willing to take a risk. All of the members of the community have by the very nature of their belonging, taken risk as far as trying to show their pupils a new, exciting and more relevant method of learning. Risk taking is not in the nature of the teaching community as a whole, so how to encourage them to give it a go?
ISTE to be fair do their best to recognise the educational benefits of risk taking and has scheduled presentations and panel discussions linked to using new technologies in new and creative ways.
The Blogger's Cafe is also a recognition of the worth of the community, for me though here is the dilemma, how it is solved I would be interested to discuss. How do you create an area where meaningful discussions and collaboration between teachers can take place, while at the same time not hiding this place from those who may be curious and would be likely to 'stop by' to see what is going on. The positioning/design of the space is not quite there in my opinion. It has been placed on a main walkway for those going to presentations which is great, it means that it is not hidden away as a place where only those 'inside the fish tank' will go, however the space lacks the intimacy and feel of a space where people can find a quiet corner to have a chat or ask that question that has been bugging them about how to move forward with their ideas.
From this newbies point of view ISTE positioning is good, organisation/design of the space could do better. I must add though the positioning of power sockets enabling great power hook-up is a definite plus.
Perhaps today I might just dip my toe into the 'Great Hall of Commercialism' we'll see....... I might just take the easy way out and seek the company of those with whom I have more affinity!

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