Saturday, November 21, 2009

The appreciation of innovation!

Many thanks to @josepicardo for this gem about how innovators are sometimes treated
It certainly rings true from my teaching career when trying to introduce new technology!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grandma Jean's special birthday celebration

On Sunday last Grandma Jean ( Debbie's mum - on the left of the table) celebrated her special birthday at the Olive Tree Restaurant, Celtic Manor - she enjoyed a birthday lunch with her younger sister, children(2), grandchildren(3) and great grandchildren (2) plus myself and my parents ( my dad 83 on 3rd November).
Happy Birthday to a very special classy lady from us all.


Church Lane Gilwern 16.50 20th November 2009
Following the worst weather experienced by Wales and north western England leading to horrendous flooding including the sad loss of a policeman swept away when a bridge collapsed into the River Derwent it was a joy to see the blue sky above and as it went dark, the moon was just rising over the hills in the background ( apologies for the G1 shot - note to Santa a decent camera for Christmas please!).
It certainly raised the spirits at the end of a long busy week to see that the natural world is always a mix joy and disaster.

View Larger Map
I do feel extremely privileged to live in such a beautiful part of the world .... even when it is raining.
You can take a look at what has been taking up much of the past few weeks here [link]

21st century classroom presentation at Yokohama International School

Kim Cofino from ISB ( Bangkok) gave a presentation on Friday 20th November to an audience of educators at Yokohama International School.
Kim is always an enthusiastic presenter and took her audience on a journey showing ways of integrate web 2.0 technologies into their curriculum and classes using the 3 step method:
1. Design
2. Tools
3. Management
The Design element states that the use of the technology should be curriculum driven, the technology must not be the learning.
Tools of course is self explanatory however it is keeping up to date with these that is where teachers such as Kim and Jeff Utecht come into their own - every school or group of schools should have access to a good 21st Century technology practitioner who can show others how to integrate the new technologies into an authentic learning setting.
Management comes down to how teachers integrate the use of technology into the classroom, perhaps easier in a 1 to 1 school setting, but more of a challenge in others - there is also the need to show school management and curriculum planners that discrete IT time and use of computer labs for timetable sessions might not be the way to go!
Thank you Kim for a wonderful session and to Brian Lockwood for the video stream.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cucku - social backup

Cucku is a new backup program come web service that attempts to take the best parts of each form of backup. First, Cucku lets you easily backup your important files and folders to your own hard drive and to portable drives you own. Then, in a unique twist on traditional online backup services, Cucku lets you store an encrypted copy of your files on your friends' and family member's computers through the internet using Skype.

This gives you the best of both worlds - the accessibility of a backup on a local drive with the additional security of a remote backup, all the while letting you keep your data on computers of people you trust instead of a datacenter.

Chrome OS is on its way!

Google Chrome powered netbooks are around 12 months away according to the official Google Blog but they have today released the code and early design ideas allowing the open source community to begin the process of playing with Chrome OS and as in previous releases developing it for them. You can't blame Google as this not only has the effect of galvanising the community but also raising the profile amongst the general public.
After watching Google's video above I for one will find the 12 month wait for an operating system which is based on Chrome which has become my preferred browser over recent months very long indeed!..... the speed of start up will hopefully be quick as you would expect from a Linux inspired system.
Chrome OS taster:

I was sadly disappointed when visiting the tech shops in Cardiff recently and finding Windows 7 has taken over the netbook business..... it would appear that the Linux/Android revolution has been swamped for the present. The opportunity to increase the start up and speed of computing will hopefully be the big seller allied to long battery life.

..........Chrome OS soon please?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teachers use of social networking sites

Following @twowhizzy's tweet last Saturday with a link to an article from Australia regarding legislation being considered to curtail and or dissuade teachers from using social networking sites, I must admit I have been waiting the opportunity to blog post about the issue.I am sure that I am not alone when I say that teachers should not be using these sites to interact with pupils - these are social not school networking sites and for me it is a big NO to blur the two.There are many reasons why this route is unwise no matter what age of pupils we are talking about. There is the vast difficulty of breaching the pupil/teacher relationship

'More than 30 Queensland teachers have had their registration cancelled for unprofessional relationships with pupils over the past three years.

Eight cases involving inappropriate behaviour of a teacher contacting students via electronic equipment were heard by the Queensland College of Teachers' disciplinary committee last financial year. '

Hey even my own kids refused to be my 'friend' on Facebook for ages, and I can't say I blame them, it's just not cool. If we as teachers rightly want to use the advantages of web 2.0 technology with pupils then we should use tools which look similar and do the similar things but are not-Facebook or Bebo such as a protected invite only Ning or Edmodo installations or of course the trusty wiki ( wikispaces, wetpaint and many more...). So please, please do not think that those of us who propose the use of web 2.0 tools in the classroom condone this activity - I for one do not neither do many others I am sure.

Apologies for the quality of this post it is being typed on the small G1 keypad following a long 8am to 7pm day in work and I couldn't bring myself to fire up a pc or a laptop!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here comes the 'G Wave' let's surf!

Sitting in my Gmail inbox today was the above invite from our friends at Google with the message:

Once you've signed in:
  • Check out the videos and example waves
  • Invite others to join you

Happy waving!
The Google Wave Team
I presume that others amongst 'The Cloud Gang' will also have received their invites. My plan is to fully test out how useful this is in our workplace where we are running meeting and collaborations in a global setting. It will also be good to see how the IM and file sharing elements of 'Wave' begin to make inroads into sites such as Twitter and Edmodo.
I am personally quite excited in seeing how this works in tandom with Google Docs and Spreadsheets, also to see if this finally gives the joined up thinking that so many of us have been calling for over the past few years. Personally I am looking forward at last to having joint discussion where you are able to look back at a discussion threads using the history to give you a run down of activity within a thread over time ( Yay!). I still have my concerns over the complexity of the environment however I believe the 'GoogleGang' will have looked particularly closely at user interface and the ease of operability - however this is what we have to fully test out in the 'real world'

If you are still in the dark about 'Wave'...... where have you been? Go get your 'board and get into the surf. As you wax up your 'board catch up with the introduction of 'Wave' at IO09 in May of this year - intro and under the hood.

As you can see in the screenshot from my wave the surf is relatively low at the moment let's churn the water up and see how 'Wave' shapes up for educators globally. I am looking also to see how the community now grows up around the new product.

On a Google related day I also have to say that my G1 received its latest 1.6 update yesterday ( unfortunately when I was in the middle of a good tweet discussion regarding teachers use of their pupils social networking space.... more on this later. The G1 update unfortunately it killed my battery and I found that at 11.30am following an overnight charge I was out! Once I had returned home from Leeds ( I was at Leeds Trinity Uni College at the time of the update...bad timing!) I got a chance to try out some of the updates - they have certainly worked on the camera which now has good auto focus and even a new range of effects ( Warhol, fisheye, polaroid, pixel, sepia print etc) The User interface on many products looks great. I presume that the new Donut upgrade for Andorid platforms such as HTC Hero also came through yesterday to coincide with this latest and possibly last G1 update ( we cannot get Donut as the processor is not up to the task....... 6 months of my £40 per month contract to go!!!!)

I beg forgiveness for this apparently entirely Google focused post, however hopefully it is no less relevant for that.

I am about to dip my toe into the surf with my 'board and very much look forward to shooting the waves with many of my contacts in work and beyond.
[cue The Beachboys]

See full size image

** Having just signed into Twitter mentioned earlier in the post I see that they are beginning the fight back with Twitter Team Lists ( see below)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sorry for // says Berners-Lee

The father of the world wide web has apologised for those pesky //'s that appear in all url's apparently according to an interview in The Times today Tim has said a light hearted sorry as they are apparently unnecessary - Oh Tim!!!

'Sir Tim ruefully explained that when he started devising the network almost 30 years ago he could not have predicted the hassle that has been caused by his small error in thinking about the way a web address is written.

“Boy, now people on the radio are calling it ‘backslash backslash’,” Sir Tim told his audience, even though he knows they are, in fact, forward slashes.'

reported on BBC Technology News 14th October 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on #HHL09

#HHL09 is the hash tag that was used last week for 'twitterers' at HandHeld Learning 2009 now that I have had some time to reflect on the conference and its standout sessions and my 'take aways' here are my thoughts.
One main thought is that HandHeld Learning was a bit of a misnomer this year as it was the uses that technology is put to that was and is more important. This is in my mind of a greater importance than the technology used. However the conference does deliver on the cutting edge technologies that can and should be used in education today, and long may it do so. Conferences like this are very useful and much more focused on educational issues than is say BETT which is really just a very big trade show with seminars tagged on. ( as an aside I believe that BETT should move to the model of ISTE's NECC conferences -where a large trade show is balanced with presentations similar in quality toHHL).
My second thought is that even though this was only my second HHL conference I noticed that the same theme - a need for a step change in education policy to affect the changes being 'showcased'. My fear would be that even with the high profile examples of excellent practice shown at HHL and with input from BECTA and others that this message is simply not yet getting through ( I refer back to my previous post on the PGCE students who were in attendance on the Monday who are even now unable to submit their assignments using basic web2.0 technologies )........will the step change ever come, this does seriously concern me.

These issues aside back to the 'standouts'and 'take aways':
Tuesday 6th morning session 'Reflections on Learning' Malcolm McLaren was excellently off beat with his take on the need for formal education ( as soon as the hopefully uncut video of this session is released I will post it). Malcolm's rather radical views were balanced by Zena Atkins and Yvonne Roberts however I still felt as if we had neen teased but without getting to the meat of the issues.
Tuesday 6th afternoon session 'Creativity and Innovation' for me Tim Rylands would have been the draw to pull me to HHL09 in his own right having with his Myst work which I found inspirational and used in my own classroom. Mr Rylands definitely lived up to the billing as a 'doer' and was for me the standout of the day if not the conference as a whole.

Wednesday 7th morning session 'Inclusion' I sadly missed the start of Niel McLean (BECTA) and his input on home access to ICT for poorer families however I did manage to hear Helen Milner from UK Online Centres. All of the inclusion opportunities were extremely inspiring apart from an 'exclusion' moment when I realised that these wonderful schemes are only on offer in England - my task now to lobby the WAG to check on projects like this being developed for families in Wales......nothing yet? I rather think that I didn't put my corresponding questions to the right people in the Q&A session on this topic.
The 'standout' of the morning session for me was Sir Tim Brighouse whose insight into the use of technology in education was very interesting,however he has had difficulties gettingthese views adopted by government in the past.
Wednesday 7th afternoon session was towered over by the technology colossus that is Ray Kurzweil, he did not disappoint in his wide ranging look at the exponential growth of all types of technology which he percieves will go inexorably into the future and how technology will change us all.
As you can see this conference actually managed to range across a wide variety of topics each of which would have made for a good stand alone event in their own right - fortunately they can find a place here in HandHeld Learning which is very much TED for Educational Technologists ( now there's a thought Graham?).... long may it continue as a showcase for practitioners, pupils and cutting edge thinkers.
I hope to be at HHL2010?

Monday, October 05, 2009

MirandaMod Session at #hhl09

My first session at this year's Handheld Learning Conference 2009 (link) was the MirandaNet MirandaMod discussion led by Christina Preston and John Cuthell where some interesting questions were posed about the use of ubiquitous technologies in education:
  • Cant these technologies make learning for professionals, teachers and students more personal and relevant?
  • How can we reconceptualise assessment, so that it better reflects the ways in which knowledge is developed collaboratively? Or should give upon the nostrum of online learning?
  • What is the value of the learning experience balanced against the expense and the risk?
MirandaNet founded in 1992 is a free to join e-learning communityof educators offering the chance for members to contribute to the debate regarding ICT in education.

The debate was fascinating as it included a wide range of experiences from a group of new PGCE students who have just begun their education path to experienced teachers and academics from the UK and Australia. Trying to synthesize the discussion would be futile as it covered a wide range of policy issues to the use of ICT in a classroom so find and join the debate on the MindMeister mind map for this presentation.
One point that I took from the discussion is that sadly the formal teacher education system still may not be giving our new teachers the knowledge of the wider uses of ICT which can enhance education -it is a worry that these technologically switched on young people may be being untaught about the flexible uses of ICT in the classroom, which is quite ironic. Admittedly this group were media students and as such possibly more used to creative technology -it would have been interesting to hear from students in other subjects -I suspect the story may be different?
It was also good to hear Leon Cych and others suggesting that it is still not the 'tech' but the person/teacher using it that really counts...... we don't all need an IWB to deliver an interactive lesson.
It was interesting to follow this with the Learners Y Factor where the presentations were driven by pupils between 6 and 16 explaining the impact that technology has had on their learning - this showed the reason why the MirandaMod debate needs to be won and the ideas from this conference still need to break into the mainstream of education for all.

More to come from (follow the tweets twitter hashtag #hhl09) tomorrow, where the highlights for pj23harry will be:
  • Malcolm McLaren ( yes that Malcolm McLaren!)
  • Tim Rylands (The Myst man! and innovator)
  • Henry Warren (
  • Mark Hardwick (
  • Jennifer Groff ( Fullbright scholar and Futurelab)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Guest post from Educational Technology - ICT in Education

Web 2.0 Projects Book Deadline Extended
By Terry Freedman
Created on Thu, 1 Oct 2009, 15:26

open24hoursI've had a great response to my call for submissions to this ebook, which seeks to collate information about interesting projects involving the use of Web 2.0 applications in schools.

The original deadline was 30 September, but last night I received some news which has led me to extend it until the 31st October.

Diane Brooks, who writes the ICT in Education blog in New Zealand (no connection with this website) very kindly posted a message about the book on her blog. However, she informed me privately that schools in New Zealand are currently on holiday.

Also, and more importantly, many New Zealanders, including some of her colleagues and students, have family in Samoa. They will obviously have more pressing concerns than a book about Web 2.0, so it seemed only right and sensible to extend the deadline for everyone because of the troubles in Samoa, Indonesia and that general area of the world.

So what is the state of play so far? I've received over 60 new projects, and they all look really interesting. The applications used include e-portfolios, social networking, video Es and the 'usual suspects': blogs, wikis and a fresh-faced arrival, Twitter!

Many, if not most, of the ideas are as simple as they are exciting. For example (and it's hard to single out just one or two from this cornucopia), Nancy Raff says:

"We're creating a virtual ribbon of 6 pieces with a photo showing why a student loves the earth and a statement of why they love it and what they will do to protect it. Many schools have joined this project and people from 59 countries. Spans all grades."

Or take this one, from Tom Daccord:

"The "Great Debate of 2008" is a collaborative project providing 130+ students from 8 states with an opportunity to lead an exploration and discussion of issues and candidates surrounding the 2008 presidential election."

I think you'd agree that these ideas are not only simple but also scaleable in either direction. For example, the Great Debate wiki could be run with just one class, and the virtual ribbon project could be run with classes in the same school or neighbouring schools rather than across 59 countries.

That's the whole idea of this ebook: to share ideas, rather than to share 'best practice'. So if you have been running an educational project with Web 2.0 tools, no matter how humble you think it is, please share!

Just one thing, though: some of the URLs provided by people in their submissions are passworded, or are to a general website or blog rather than a specific post or area about the project concerned. In order to make the ebook as useful as possible to others, please provide a useful and pertinent URL. Ideally, if the site is passworded, perhaps you could provide a guest login. Alternatively, if that would be problematic in terms of e-safety concerns, send me a screenshot or two which will at least give people an idea of what's behind the firewall. Thanks for your co-operation in this!

The online form should take you only a few minutes to complete.

Thank you.

Terry Freedman

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stress or Cheese ?

The reason for the title is my search for an explanation to my waking this morning at 4.04 am instead of the usual 6.30a.m.!All I do know is that my head was full of work related messages that I desperately wanted to remember - I realise dear reader that this way madness lies, however, I now see the need for a hard wired memo or note device which would enable these thoughts to be captured before they evaporate. Great thinkers of the past I know would sleep with a notebook and pen beside the bed and jot down these thoughts - In my case divorce would swiftly follow ( one had best not awake Mrs H before her normal 7.30a.m. !). Hence the need for aa device that does not require to be turned on thus waking spouses?

The second thought which had lodged itself in my head was 'Twitter' related ( please don't ask why). I hate the random jumble of Twitter which can distract ones thoughts and leads to often ill thought out responses - I want a means to select a person and then to have the option of seeing a discussion thread that I can follow and respond to in a timely fashion, the only way to achieve somrthing like this is to carry on an @ conversation with 'Twitter'. I don't want an all singing app like the soon to appear 'Google Wave' but want something lighter - a Wavelet if you will, a branch or threaded app......... you see what can fill your head at 4.04 am!!!!!!!!The one saving grace is flexi time at the IB allowing us to start at 7am and leave at 3pm. I feel sure that by the time everyone else is awake my brain will be mush! Ah well mustn't grumble 6.28am time to go to work? Now what was it I was trying to remember?

Monday, September 21, 2009

CarCast on EdTech

I have been struck recently while listening to the podcasts recorded by David Noble ( ) as part of his Edonis Project ( )about the quality of ICT Professional Development. David has spoken with many of the UK's cutting edge Education IT community and as part of his sequence of questions has asked his participants about their ICT PD experiences. It is hugely revealing and I would hazard not news to report that the vast majority of interviewees report very little directed formal ICT education as part of their intial traing and/or following their qualification. I would also echo that experience as it is very similar to my own. It is telling that David has spoken to a cross section of teachers with a wide range of teaching experience, all of which paints a less than hopeful situation for formal ICT training for teachers as it does not appear at present to be keeping pace.
Many of those spoken to have actually achieved their most transformational PD through the power of new technology ( Web2.0)which has enabled these teachers to connect in informal PD networks with like minded professionals globally.
It must be time that formal ICT training makes use of the experience of these highly motivated teachers, who have a passion to improve teaching through the use of technology in innovative ways in a more formal environment.
I know that I have joined the ranks of this formal educational training, however I would say that I firmaly believe that the online professional development that we at the IB offer our teachers comes from a sound understanding of the use of new technology can be used to build professional networks of teachers who can work collaboratively on the development of subject based wikis and also use of social networking sites such as Ning(
Both of these tools were used by Julie Lindsay and Barbara Stephanics in their recent online workshop for teachers called - Web 2.0 in the IB Classroom ( ). I believe that the use of this type of workshop can work in a virally informal way within a formal setting, I look forward to seeing more innovations like this appearing in PD

Monday, August 24, 2009

Call for Moodle Developers at the IBO

The IBO is looking to expand its online professional development workshops and is now actively looking for developers experienced in the use of Moodle to work with subject matter experts to build these new offerings link or here
We look forward to getting applications for this exciting opportunity.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Save Nabaztag from extinction

I am grateful to Abigail Boak from here in Cardiff for the link to the Save Nabaztag site ( see above) it appears that the word is out and pledges coming in to save the rabbit from extinction - please don't allow this rare breed to go the way of the Dodo pledge!

Remember - A Rabbit is for life not just for Christmas - our Rabbit has a very busy social life as do many others, please do what you can to help.

Sad news from Engadget that OPLY - IB online professional learning's Nabaztag rabbit may be about to become an orphan as his parent company looks to be heading for bankruptcy.
'We always knew that any company courageous enough to take a technology designed to help mega-corps monitor their inventory levels and make it mainstream would face an uphill battle, but we never envisioned Nabaztag caving entirely to the pressure. If a snippet in a recent issue of Les Echos (a French financial paper) is to be believed, the creator of the rabbit-inspired Violet RFID Mirror has filed for bankruptcy, giving any company interested in keeping the brand alive until September 4th to toss out a cash infusion. Not like we're looking at you, Mr. VC, but we're definitely hoping to not be sobbing about this in just under a month. Tick, tock.' Engadget 11/08/09
We all hope that the company can be saved before September 4th for all of the Nabaztag rabitts out there - remember - A rabbit is for life not just for Christmas!

Nabaztag rabbit -good home required

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alas poor G1 Phone.......!

I for one sincerely hope that this news today from engadget is not true!!!! ( see below) Having had my trusty G1 since the first release date back in October 2008 on an 18 month contract, I as other early adopters who believed in the Google dream and as a result turned away from the iPhone still have 9 months of our contracts to run.
Unfortunately T Mobile in the UK unlike O2 have not as yet offered us their loyal supporters a lifeline to the latest Android device as an upgrade as far as I am aware. I would be willing to stay with the slightly chunky Google phone if there is this possibility, otherwise I may well decide to follow the crowd to the promised land of Mr Jobs....... nooooo! ...... please TMobile and Google get your act together and support those of us who decided to give the iPhone a miss.

engadget 17th August 2009
Pioneering T-Mobile G1 owners have been enjoying the spoils of Android 1.5 (or Cupcake, as it's known 'round these parts) for months now, but it looks as if that very treat will be the last taste of confectionery goodness that the smartphone gets. According to Android software engineer Dave Sparks, a time is soon coming when devs "wont be able to fit the latest [Android] release on the G1's internal flash," and yet another engineer has chimed in via Twitter to say that he "can't promise" that any update after 1.5 will fit. For whatever reason, HTC gifted the G1 with an incredibly meager amount of internal flash, and considering that no Android phone will support app storage / loading from a microSD card, there's no way to free up room for Donut, Eclair or Flan.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies

Source - BBC blog makes interesting reading when looking at Gartner's 2009 report into the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies quoted below.

'In Gartner's 2009 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report, the company charts what's hot and what's not in the world of technology.

To this aim, they have looked at the maturity of 1,650 technologies and trends in 79 technology, topic and industry areas.

Technologies that are peaking during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books like those from Amazon and Sony and internet TV like Hulu.'

I must say speaking personally that looking into even a statistically robust 'crystal ball' is open to a large error margin - I for one do not see Cloud computing being at the peak of the graph with micro-blogging such as Twitter, Yammer et al as being on the downslope - however dear reader I look forward to your views on this.

'I am a PC' has a new Rival 'Going Google'

For a long while now PC and Mac users have been slugging it out as suppliers of the best OS - see below:

Now Google is going to take the fight to MS Office with its 'Going Google' campaign - look out for more ads taking the fight to Office ( yay!) as Google Apps takes on the world of PC

Thanks to via Techcrunch Europe for this snippet of news.

Warning to all Bubbleshare users!!

The warning came from Techcrunch's Michael Arrington on 13th August that Bubbleshare is now posting the message seen below that before the 15th November you should remove all of your photos from the site as it will cease to exist from that date.Personally this will affect two albums with around 30 images which I have already begun to re home on Flickr - Bubbleshare has suffered from not unfamiliar fate of being bought out by successively bigger fish, ending with Disney on April 2009, however I would agree with Techcrunch that part of the reason for this is usage, see below
I guess that this means that web 2.0 apps are being sorted increasingly now by the business ethic, hence we cannot blame the latest owners on Bubbleshare, we all have to take a portion of the burden as we moved on to other photo sharing apps and found those unique facilities of Bubbleshare were not enough to hold our attention. I suppose that there may be a hope that it may re emerge in a different form under the banner of its new owners...... however in the meantime could I urge everyone to take heed of the warning and remove your resources from

Podcast thanks

A big thank you to those who have been enjoying the recent AAODS Concert podcast at The Podfather podcast. All of those visitors have helped with podcast stats hurtling the Podfather to number 4 in the Educational Technology section of Podomatic - once again thank you.The blog and podcast have been quiet because from Wednesday 12th to Friday 14th of this week the online workshop team from the IBO have been enjoying a packed 3 day training on Moodle Course Creation ( 2 days) and Administration (1 day) at the elegant Park Plaza in the centre of Cardiff, with the excellent Ray Lawrence from How To Moodle. The training from this experienced Moodle trainer, provider and partner I must say is second to none an well worth the investment of time and funding for any organisation who may be coming to grips with the use of Moodle in their organisation.
Thank you very much to Ray and Jan from HTM, the staff at The Park Plaza ( and also staff from Ha Ha, Tiger Tiger and La Tasca for their hospitality).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

11th August 2009 Tech news

1. Techcrunch
Some random news from TechCrunch today - I have been suggesting privately for some time that Twitter ( no don't yawn I know Twitter can do that to people!!!) should have the ability to capture and display threaded conversations - I personally hate the disjointed conversations that you end up trying to keep track of ( it does keep you tweeting perhaps well beyond the time you had planned. It is good to hear that Joshua Shachter ( the creator of the well know social aggregator - Delicious) has launched a service called tiny thread and this next part is music to my ears ( and eyes for that matter)

Below is an example of a recent thread to give you an idea of how this will work

2. Engadget
Sad news from Engadget that OPLY - IB online professional learning's Nabaztag rabbit may be about to become an orphan as his parent company looks to be heading for bankruptcy.
'We always knew that any company courageous enough to take a technology designed to help mega-corps monitor their inventory levels and make it mainstream would face an uphill battle, but we never envisioned Nabaztag caving entirely to the pressure. If a snippet in a recent issue of Les Echos (a French financial paper) is to be believed, the creator of the rabbit-inspired Violet RFID Mirror has filed for bankruptcy, giving any company interested in keeping the brand alive until September 4th to toss out a cash infusion. Not like we're looking at you, Mr. VC, but we're definitely hoping to not be sobbing about this in just under a month. Tick, tock.' Engadget 11/08/09
We all hope that the company can be saved before September 4th for all of the Nabaztag rabitts out there - remember - A rabbit is for life not just for Christmas!

Nabaztag rabbit -good home required

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Eclectic..... mmm ( or just the signs of a lack of focus?)

I had an hour to fill during a brisk walk today and found on the iPod a podcast of the perfect length, which happened to fill the walk with colour and humour - it was Stephen Fry's recent presentation to the iTunes festival, (27th July)where he explains in his own inimitable style his thoughts on the history and issues of copyright and file sharing in relation to music, tv and film... it is a must listen I do encourage you to give it a whirl and see what you think.
My other pick for today is yet another fab video from the staff pick section at Vimeo called 'WEEK in R.A.B. by Marko Butrakovic in which he manages in a marvellous evocation of summer to get some near 3D images see for yourself below. from Marko Butrakovic on Vimeo.

Once again apologies for the strange juxtaposition of these tech gems.

Mr Barrett on Educatioanl Multitouch Desks

The excellent Mr Tom Barrett Assitant Head of Priestic Primary, Nottingham has for some time now been involved with the Tech Enhanced Learning Team at Durham University who have been working on the educational use of multitouch computer screens. In his most recent post on 8th August Tom updates us on the progress that has been made with these devices.

The idea of a multitouch screen - or rather as Tom has found from the Durham team, the use of linked multitouch screens where pupils can share their work across screens certainly looks impressive and will certainly take computing/ICT in UK primary schools away from purely practice of keyboard skills. The chance to use this technology to push the boundaries of what is possible is certainly exciting for the techie amongst us ( count me in this group!) .... however I can see as Tom no doubt does the problems with going down the route of increasing the tech in the classroom with more and more expensive stuff. Schools in the straightened financial times we are in will find these devices increasingly difficult to budget for.
My other major worry is that of the 'interactive whiteboard experience' where many schools and local authorities in the UK adopted a policy of purchasing these in large numbers and placing them in classrooms with in the early stages little thought of how to train teachers on their effective use..... in fact in these early days I doubt if many had even thought about this issue, and just saw the shiny tech at shows like BETT and went with the hype.

In my time in the classroom I have seen them in rooms where they were unused ( and with one of the IWB's in my previous school I had to fight hard to even get into the room ( turned into a music room ) and actually turn it on, when I did after it being in place for 3 years of course it didn't work properly, or those placed in rooms which were classrooms and then had a change of use to in our case a Library, which had to be timetabled for use..... result oddly enough I believe it was only me and my class that ever turned it on in my final 2 years in the school ( I had to walk my 27 Y3's down a long school corridor past 7 classrooms to become interactive!. Where they were in classrooms many staff had not wanted them and simply used the board as they would an ordinary whiteboard, I believe that the term 'interactive' was only used in the UK where many were anything but interactive...... used for teacher instruction the 21st Century equivalent of 'chalk and talk'. I hope that much more thought will be given to how these new 'tables' will actually be used in the classroom, and to that end I look forward to the result of the research work that Tom has been asked to undertake, I also hope that this reaches the wide audience it needs to, as Tom is a much respected teacher practitioner and thinker about the use of technology in the classroom - look out for more on Tom's blog ICT in my Classroom.

I still believe in making the technology 'invisible' in everyday classroom use and believe that IWB's and the next generation will if we are not very careful put the emphasis back on the visible technology

Saturday, August 08, 2009

AAODS concert - Millennium Centre 8th August 2009

On a genuinely warm and sunny summers day a loyal band of supporters from Abergavenny took the 35 mile journey down to the copper domed Millenium Centre to listen to Abergavenny Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society's afternoon concert in the centre foyer - and were justly rewarded. The location in the foyer accounts for the less than perfect acoustic and the noises off in this recording. The recording made using my trusty iPod with its plug in mic. The concert excellently shows off the individual and combined skill of the dedicated songsmiths from AAODS as they gave snippets from past and future shows - coming soon will be Fiddler on the Roof, but we hear excerpts from My Fair Lady and most impressive of all the Juniors from the 2008 - Les Miserables which was the triumph of the season with many youngsters in their teenage years fulfilling promise shown through their formative years with the society. We were also entertained with some Abba hits from Mama Mia.

All in all the concert was a triumph of dedication, musicality and most of all enjoyment.

Thank you to all from an avid fan.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Brave Bloggers Beware!

The use of new web tools really comes into its own in areas of conflict, as was been seen by the Baghdad Blogger during the first gulf war and more recently protests in Nepal, China and Iran. I think that the world owes these brave individuals a debt of gratitude for their bravery in exposing human rights violations.
It is often the authorities in many of these repressive regimes who react by attempting to turn off the tap, causing mayhem ( and also showing up their reactionary pedigree). A new example is that reported today by the BBC in its Technology News.

'A blogger who was targeted in a co-ordinated attack against websites such as Facebook and Twitter has told the BBC he blames Russia for the assault.
The pro-Georgian blogger, known as Cyxymu, said he had been targeted for "telling the truth about the Russian-Georgian war" in his writings.
The attack caused a blackout of Twitter for about two hours on Thursday.'

The truth will out and new technology makes it more not less likely, it has become impossible to stop.

The tab debate

Not quite a done deal yet as you can see, and certainly nor ready to relaese to the world quite yet - tweeks and styling using the magival Drupal are still required - however at present the tabs are on ...... the left as you can see below :-)

Mobile Podcast 7th August 2009

It was such a lovely morning in Wales, and I had been spurred into an early morning breakfast blog post about the significance of today's date. This prompted me to consider the nature of 'A Blogger' it is an interesting question to ponder and certainly kept me entertained on the journey to work, I hoipe that you enjoy it, please feel free to respond.... remember comments are the life blood of a blog ( many thanks AK for being top commenter)

Perfect Day.... and a Friday!!!!

Following the previous post I couldn't resist this memory from the use of Lou Reed's Perfect Day by the BBC for a promotion!

Perfect Day

In the words of Lou Reed 'It's such a perfect day' well almost for those with a mathemattical bent. For those in the western part of the globe where it hasn't passed 1pm yet! If you have a digital time piece watch out at 12.34 and 56 seconds today - 12.34 56s 7.8.9 (09 actually but close) this worked perfectly 19 years ago in 1990, which of course will be repeated in 81 years ..... for most of us this will be a little too long to wait!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

6th August 2009

It has finally arrived - 6th August 2009, this time last year Debbie and I were in New York enjoying our 25th wedding anniversary and Deb's (special birthday). Here we are a year on..... not in New York but at home on a working day..... however we will be visiting the Boonta Too Thai Restaurant this evening with the rest of close family for a celebratory meal, for our 26th anniversary - which this year just happens to coincide with my 52nd birthday this year - this means as the mathematically inclined will see that I have been married for exactly half of my life!!! Now that is really scary.
However they say you are only as young as you feel ( or something along those lines!), how old do I feel ......... mmmmm now that would be telling?

What I would like to say is a very big thank you to Debbie for actually putting up with me for so long, while at the same time being mother to the best 3 daughters that anyone could have ( even the one who left the freezer door open last night defrosting much of the contents!!!!) .

You see there is such a thing as a real life in addition to a second life :-)

I must go now and get myself decent for our meal........ good day dear reader.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Readers observations required

My colleagues and I have been amongst other things working hard to test a new portal site for our online workshops and I would like to have my readers opinions regarding which front page layout works best. I will keep my thoughts to myself until I have had your responses.
Version 1

Version 2

It is now over to you to give me the feedback that will help us as we move towards the final version of our site which we hope to release in early September. The site incidentally is being built using Drupal, which is an excellent and very easy to use website building format to use, its other advantage is that it is very easy to quickly build complex and rich sites.

Good luck I look forward to hearing your views.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it me or can Radio 2 be really LOUD in the morning?

I followed my own thread last night and actually chose Radio 2 as my wake up channel this morning and... it worked..... almost. I woke up to the sound, turned the sound back down and spent 20 minutes thinking about getting up.... dohh!
Wednesday 29th July 2009
I attempted to get to work quickly following the awful forecast of a deluge at around 9 am this morning - I missed it it did arrive and to some extent is still with us.
I have been looking forward to today for a while now as Mrs H, myself and friends are off to The Hardwick near Abergavenny this evening for a sort of birthday/wedding anniversary meal ...Mmmmm looks good - check out the menu it looks very good!

Work tech news - there has been a thorough tidy up of our media lab today - see the obligatory video of the result ( from an iphone of course)-

I think that you would agree that the lab is looking pretty cool ( apologies for the slightly fast panning!) and talking of Cool -
Related to my blog from yesterday that little tyke Charlieissocoollike from Youtube is at Comic Con in San Diego ( lucky young pup) and in his you tube vodcast he mentions amongst other things the Tron Legacy ( you see you too can appear trendy!)

Other tech news ..... I thought that this had happened ages ago - the BBC announcement of the merger - Sorry an agreement- between the successful Microsoft and the less than shiny Yahoo which will allow Yahoo's search engine to use Microsoft Bing, with both sides talking up the deal you just know that something is going on behind the scenes - having read Planet Google by Randall Stross I would always be suspicious!
It also sounds as if the long running saga between the BBC and Spinvox over the supposed use of humans in Spinvox's voicemail to text service is still rumbling on - of course it helps that the BBC has one of the most read sites in the world at its disposal to fight this story!!! - be fair BBC!

p.s. To Charlie, Any friend of Mr. S. Fry is a friend of mine :-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Note to self !

Choose a music channel for the clock radio for the 6.05 am wake up call. Radio 4 and The Today Programme does not work........the comfy RP Radiio 4 voices and their measured tones just send me back to sleep again.....apologies to Evan Davis, Ed Sturton et al but it doesn't get me jumping out of bed in the morning. Another reason for being sure of its lack of fitness for purpose........ no requests from Mrs H who rises at 7.30 to TURN IT DOWN! Once again Goodnight dear reader, sleep well whichever time zone you presently occupy.

Another day... another.... oooh a new website

Tuesday 28th July
Following the link to Courselab yesterday today we looked at LAMS International's ( Learning And Management Systems) tool for coding our online workshops in order to give them an interesting and easily navigable UI. This exercise will continue with a comparison test over the coming days... if anyone out there knows of anything else ( preferably opensource and free!) do let me know.
The rest of the day went into putting live our new look PD website, web designer Will and edtech expert James having been working on this over the past 3 months ( theming takes so long!) while I worked on finalising our online workshop calendar ( more or less ) for 2010. Here dear reader is a first look at the final product of our labour - it is built within our Moodle installation and should be fully functional including a language switch facility which should allow the linguists amongst you to have the site work in Spanish and French.

Admittedly there is an issue with the translation of the header panel within our Moodle theme .... ideas to assist with this to ......!

It felt good to finally be showing the IB world and beyond our revised site for the first time, this of course is not the end of the story.... we plan a further development which should give us quite a few additional capabilities....and the ability to act as a PD portal before the end of 2009 ( and certainly way ahead of Moodle 2.0!).
Tomorrow all of our school based coordinators will receive an email giving them page and 2010 calendar details.
We are not always working on these groundbreaking events, today for example the 80's ( yes it was 1982! for those not quite old enough there is a link here to a trailer for the 1982 original) hit ( hit perhaps too strong a word!!) film TRON and the possibility of it re emerging as TRON2 ( in 3D) The Tron Legacy in 2010 complete with Mr Jeff Bridges reprising Kevin Flynn as only he could.

Another piece of news which caught my eye this morning while enjoying my cereal prior to the 30 mile run to Cardiff Gate, was news that -
' The BBC has struck a landmark deal with four national newspaper groups to share video news on their websites for the first time.

The deal with Daily Mail & General Trust, Guardian News & Media – which publishes – Telegraph Media Group and Independent News & Media has been described as the latest step in the BBC's partnership plans, in which it will share content, expertise and technology in the name of public service.'

As reported in the guardian online today Tuesday 28th July. This could give a lifeline to those poor struggling online newspaper outlets..... or is it just the dear old Beeb considering its public service remit.... only time will tell.

As they say that ends the news.... good night

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time for a change of emphasis?

I guess that throughout the lifespan of a blog, its direction alters, at first subtly meaning that over time the end point is far away from where it began. This blog began way back in 2006 as an outlet for my thoughts, at that time as a classroom practitioner.
However over the past few months as my memory of being that, 'a classroom practitioner' using new web tools when they appeared and trying them out on my pupils has been fading fast. I now find myself in the cut and thrust of a educational business but not 'at the whiteboard face' somewhat removed, and as such I have lost the raison d'etre that I began with, and believe that it is time for a change of purpose to this blog.
That is not to say that I will not return to the classroom, as I find myself increasingly missing the collaborations that I was previously making with classes and teachers all over the world. It is a distinct possibility - all I need is to find schools or LEA's which recognise a 21st century technologist as a teaching position ( if there is anyone out there listening..... there may be a recruit waiting ), until then things go on following the new path.
'You can take the boy out of school.... but not school out of the boy!!!'

The new direction will be to make this blog much more of a daily journal of thoughts/projects and tech ideas that occur naturally throughout the day.

Monday 27th July 2009
Today was a good case in point, Monday morning following a long weekend I was in work at 7.50am and spent the morning registering teachers onto our online workshops that are coming up from August to October this year.
Mid morning myself and colleagues were looking for a few viable images for our new look online PD page which will hopefully appear here tomorrow. In the afternoon I suggested to a colleague that we investigate software that will enable us to build courses which can then be uploaded to Moodle we came up with a few - free downloadable courselab being one of these. Having downloaded the software we will have a play to see how well it might suit our needs.
More tomorrow.

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