Wednesday 24 July 2013

Small things sometimes amaze me!

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Cristiano de Jesus

Don't ask me where I found this tool but I was searching through my Diigo bookmarks the other day and stumbled upon TinyEye Labs  They describe themselves as:
The TinEye labs is our technology playground for image search and recognition. Here you will be able to experiment and play with various implementations and features of our image search technologies.
I don't know why but I was just inclined to click on the link in my bookmarks and have a play.  I am glad that I did.  It seems to be a very powerful tool.  You simply select 'search' and it allows you to search Creative Commons images on Flickr via colour.  You can search up to five colours and put percentage amounts on each colour.

I can some endless possibilities from this tool ranging from Visual Arts colour choices / proportions to even Mathematics when looking at percentages or concepts as such.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  

Why do we bother with this technology stuff?


 There is a lot of resistance to change in teaching as I am of the pesonal opinon that we are all control freaks in our own ways.  I know that I certainly am and like things to be done in certain ways.  In my previous blog post, I outlined what I have learnt throughout this term and how the journey in my 1-1 environment has been going so far.  As I am sitting here on a pupil free day, I guess the questions that many of my peers in the staff room is 'Why are we bothering with using technology in our classrooms?  Can't we achieve quality educational outcomes without the bother?  Is there any computer stuff on NAPLAN?  Why bother then?'

My journey with ICT in my class has been ongoing process that is constantly evolving and changing.  My answer to all of these questions come back to this key message: We need to educate 21st century kids using 21st century methods for the 21st century.  If we do not do this, my opinion is that we are failing to give kids the skill set that they need to function as a productive member of society now and in the future.  That certainly is a mouthful but I truly belive that this is to be the case.  Our Digial Natives deserve the best learning experiences that can be delivered and they don't know any different.

This does not mean that I think we should 'chuck away' all of the old methods.  As a 33 year old man, I was educated in an environment that was not very technology rich.  I remember the first time that I saw an old 'Overhead Projector' and my teacher pulled out an OHT and projected it up onto the big screen.  As a 7 year old, this was the most amazing thing that I had ever seen.  I remember 'ROTE' learning number facts etc and this whilst it was a boring experience, I still learnt.  But was I an active participant in my learning?  The answer to that question is 'sort of'.  I had some fantastic teachers who inspired me but I was a passive recipent of information and reliant upon the person at the front of the room providing me with the 'stuff' I needed to survive and thrive in the world that I lived in.

So why do I bother?  I bother because I feel that I have a responsibility to the students to prepare them for the world that they live in.  I feel that technology enhances the learning experiences of students and motivates them to question / reflect / investigate their environment.  The reluctant students in my class seem to engage better in their learning by using technology.  If technology wasn't integrated across all key learning areas, I am positive that they would not attempt to participate in the classroom environment at all.  I am sure that they would disengage and look for avenues to vent their frustrations.

Technology helps engage and empower all students (even the reluctant ones!) and we need to look after our 21st century learners to the best of our abilities.

Feel free to add a comment.

Writing Book Reviews For Wikipedia...

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Konrad Summers

I have a confession to make - I am a Star Trek junkie.  I love reading the books from The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager.  I am not a huge fan of the original series but don't mind the movies.  Many a year ago, my parents used to run a chicken shop called 'Chick-n-Video'.  It had a chicken shop on one side and a video shop on the other side.  We owned the chicken side of the shop but were always allowed to take whatever videos that we wanted at any time.  My brother discovered The Next Generation videos and it went from there.  We later found that they had books and I became totally obsessed with it from there.

The other night, I was reading one of my favourite Star Trek novels and was wondering where it fit in the series.  So what did I do? I pulled out my phone and web searched.  The first link that it went to was Wikipedia.  As I was reading this review, I started to think about how this knowledge came about.  Of course I know that somebody created that entry who was obviously passionate about the book.  It was basically a review of the book.  

Then suddenly a light bulb went off in my head - why couldn't my kids who always have to do literature reviews share these reviews on the greatest online community of all time: Wikipedia.  Whilst I wouldn't encourage them to create their own Wikipedia accounts, I would love to share them with the world through my personal account.  

Wow...real life space projects

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

The other day a really good link came across my Twitter stream.  I am not sure exactly who I got it from and I apolgise for that but it looked really good.  Zooniverse - Real Science Online is a collobrative and creative online space where students can be registered to create and be involved with online real life projects that help shape the world that they live in.  I am looking forward to the opportunities that this project may present to my students later on in the year.  I will keep you updated

Wednesday 29 August 2012

RSS vs Email....who wins the war?

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by gdesigneralex

Ok…I must admit that I am a bit old school.  Before I discovered the wonderful world called Twitter and developed my own personal learning network (PLN) I used to do a lot of trolling for good blog posts.  I had my favourites bookmarked at the top of my internet browser and would regularly check in with them and read what interesting things they had to say.  Bloggers such as Shane Roberts, Chris Betcher, Rod Lucier and Jarrod Robinson were amongst my early favourites.  These guys were doing some pioneering work and remember reading blog posts that they would create and just being in awe of what they did in their classrooms. 

I was finding it really hard to stay on top of content that my favourite bloggers were creating and one day I discovered the wonderful world of Rich Site Summary or what is commonly known as RSS.  RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed",[3] or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.  Here is a video explaining the basic concepts of RSS.

I was excited.  As my bloggers were pushing stuff out, I was visiting my RSS feed and seeing the content that they were creating.  It was a beautiful time and I was adding more and more subscriptions to my RSS reader.  Then I hit a wall: I had subscribed to too much content and I was drowning in information.  I felt as though I was missing out on important stuff and not keeping up with the work that my favourite bloggers were doing in their everyday lives.  I was finding it hard to find the time each day to check my RSS feed and every day the pool of information was getting deeper and deeper. 

I then had a thought – I interact with my email on a regular basis (eg more than once a day) and could subscribe to these blogs via email.  One of my favourite blogs that I subscribe to is Free Technology For Teachers by Richard Bryne.  Everyday an email of blog posts comes into the folder that I have created for his blog and I check it at my leisure.  The email posts a quick summary at the top of the page about the blog posts and I quickly scan them and see if they have any relevance to me.  If they spark my interest, I simply ‘click on the link’ and read the post.  If it is something that I know that I could possibly use in the future, I bookmark it to my Diigo account with the appropriate tag (watch out for more blog posts featuring content from my Diigo account) and now that content is safe and secure for ever!

So in summary, RSS was a massive failure for me.  I was drowning and getting stressed.  Content delivered to me in the ‘old school’ manner work much better and I can get a handle on it easier.  I would love to know about your favourite bloggers, simply for selfish reasons so that I can learn from them.

Thursday 26 July 2012

If I ask nicely enough.....

Prezi is one of my favourite tools that I have used when I am presenting information. I think that this video sums up my thoughts on the whole notion of Death by PowerPoint.

A tool that I have used with a lot of success in the past for my own presentations is Prezi. For those who don’t know, Prezi is a cloud based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery.
Before this tool was blocked by my employee for students, I used to use it in class in a number of different ways. Here is a Prezi that one of my students created. Please note: I realise that there are spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes. I wanted to share an authentic example with you.

The possibilities for the use of Prezi by our students are almost endless. Kids really enjoy creating and engaging with Prezi. I realise that I am barking up the wrong tree here, but I would love it if somebody in a position of power could somehow help us educators on the ground get the tools that we need to help our students engage in the learning process. I realise that this is policy but I would love it if every time I discover a new tool, I don’t have to check if the students can if the students can access it and that it gets through our systems filters. I am all for safety and keeping my kids out of the way of harm but a bit of common sense must be bought into our lives and that of the students under our direction.

Monday 23 July 2012

eLearning for the sake of eLearning

It has been a very long time between posts. I was reflecting the other day about a statement that I make to my kids all the time. The statement is “It is not about the bling bling but it is about the learning sting” My kids do some amazing things and I am constantly in awe of what they do. At the start of their journeys with me, they get caught up in things looking pretty and nice. After a while, a lighbulb flicks and they realise that it is about the best tool for the job. My learners are constantly empowered to use eLearning to enhance their lives for the better, not just because it is ‘fancy and pretty.’ They also know that if they come to me and say “Can we do a PowerPoint presentation?” that they will feel my wrath and I will get annoyed.

But my concern is this – if teachers are just ‘digitising stuff’ to meet curriculum requirements, why are they bothering. If they are not changing their pedagogy and embracing the place of eLearning and just ‘doing computer stuff because’ why do they bother? If they go to the ‘computer lab’ because ‘every other class does’ why do they bother? If they find every excuse to not use eLearning and it is ‘to hard’ because ‘I don’t know how to do this and don’t want to know’ why do they bother.

eLearning is not easy. It is messy and sometimes can fall on its face. Students are empowered when teachers use eLearning along their journey and it puts the student at the centre of the learning journey. I have a concern that teachers are just doing eLearning tasks to meet curriculum requirements and do not ‘truly believe’ we are going to never get anywhere.

Kind of a pointless post but I felt I just need to ramble a bit.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Interesting Weekly Things That I Have Seen This Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Interesting Weekly Things That I Have Seen This Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.