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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in plakboek's LiveJournal:

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    Sunday, January 16th, 2011
    11:27 pm
    Lost and Found

    What would you do if you found a canister of film in a park filled with snow? If you are Todd Bieber, then you would make a YouTube (YouTube) video in order to find the owners of that film.

    Fascinating idea.

    Lost Canister of Film Prompts YouTube Search For Its Owners



    Current Mood: chipper
    Monday, November 15th, 2010
    1:26 am
    ICT Cages for Schools

    DSC_0809.JPG
    Originally uploaded by sparr0
    I reckon we are going to see more crack appearing in school ICT infrastructures that cannot be papered over by mandating a particular OS, platform or policy. This isnt going to be easy for us IT managers as we have manged to take things this far scrabbling for funds, spilt, polish and fair measure of central control.

    Students are already leaving of us behind whilst they run smart apps and smart interfaces on their smart phones. Change is happening and it isnt going to stop because we built a faraday cage around the school, a padded playground, mandated more old hardware, or spread new layers of control to fill in the cracks. That just wastes more money and puts off the inevitable.

    After I waved goodby to my final year 12 students following their final VCE IT exam, they pointed to the study group that I recommended they set up. Ironically it was on facebook and help keep each other on task and on track using their phones. Of course I wasnt a part of this group, and probably didnt need to be (or should be). What is interesting is that it happened at school, in spite of everything we have done to disuade, ban, condemn and prevent it from happening.

    I wonder what does that say about us and what have I done to really prepare them for this parallel universe?

    Don't get me wrong ... this is not a debate about filter failure or censorship. I am just pointing out that replacing one factory model for learning with another techno-coated flavour does nothing to move schools out of the dark ages.

    It is time for us to grow up and move onto the real challenges, adapting and adopting what can give real traction to learning.
    Sunday, November 14th, 2010
    12:29 pm
    Do Schools need ICT?

    An army of old monitors awaiting their marching orders for world domination!

    Ian Yorston explains in an article why investment in ICT doesn't necessarily pay, an important article with some serious stabs at our heavy investment in expensive virtual learning environments, costly electronic whiteboards, expensive commercial software upgrades and opressive IT departments that work so hard to cripple what can really be done by the end user.

    "If you had to spend a million pounds, you'd really hope to have something to show for it. Yet most schools have spent at least that on ICT and get nothing obvious in return — aside from a few hundred PCs running Windows XP and a handful of smart gadgets." 

    2010 October - feature: do schools need ICT?
    - Annotated

    After reading this, it was interesting to consider the way forward hinted by mLearning, open source and student ownership of the hardware.

    Current Mood: artistic
    Saturday, October 30th, 2010
    9:21 pm
    Teaching science with glove puppets
    Last week I worked with my year 8 junior science class on a lesson about multicelular organisms using glove puppets. It was a lot of fun using a constructivist approach to problem solving and blended learning model. This is a very engaging way to quickly assess student understanding using some simple technology and computer skills without the need for sophisticated digital equipment. I have even used this to help explore complex topics including technology issues such as cyberbullying, privacy, programming, copyright, freedom and ethical behaviour whilst improving student literacy and social skills.

    This weekend I presented a show on K12online to share this work online. Here are some handy links:
    Saturday, October 9th, 2010
    11:35 am
    Stimulating book boxes
    Is the current funding by the Australian federal government to increase the numbers of computers in schools sustainable? At what point will it be easier for parents to just supply mTechnology and computers to their school-aged children? We can already see some leverage in this direction with generous tax concessions for parents who purchase computers and internet access for their children.

    I recall a question being asked at audience of the ACEC2010 conference this year, "how many of you have a 1:1 ratio of computers at home" .. most arms were held up. This was followed by "how many at your school?" .. practically all the arms come down.

    It seems as if we have done a better job of winning the computer access battle at home than at our schools.

    Once schools relied on class sets of text books in faculty offices. For many years this facilitated those students who had no money for a text book. Now we target funds to help these families buy books and the book boxes have nearly disappeared.

    The BER funding has been a good stimulus and wake up call. In a few years, we should move onto the next stage. It is not that schools have fallen behind, it is just that there are other things we do much better.

    My guess is that the crunch time will be 2015 when these major hardware rollouts start to crumble with age. It will then be more about proving on-ramps to the new cloud based systems than the model of the machines we use to drive upon them or the army of technicians we have trained to service these.


    Current Mood: chipper
    Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
    5:06 pm

    Roland's Scrapbook

    "Blogging in the Clouds"

    by Roland Gesthuizen on October 2010

    Learning is messy, especially when we are working online.

    It was recently mentioned on the ozteachers list that students should only use a particular blogging tool. It raises some important questions in my mind including:
    • is this a position statement, recommended policy decision or mandated instruction?
    • what is the pedagogical basis and research that underpins this?
    • is the scope limited to classrooms or can it telescope to embrace professional learning networks and microblogging?

    I use the blogging tool built inside Moodle, there is another inside Ultranet. I use it for the right pedagogical reasons, a full understanding about the issues and at times I appreciate the closed and controlled nature. It is a sandpit that will evaporate after they leave the school. By contrast, I also use classroom tools that overlap with blogging including Diigo, Wikispaces, GoogleReader and more. Even Scratch has a built in blogging tool.

    Trying to shackle our teaching by mandating a particular tool is akin to stuffing slippery eels into lunch boxes. After a while we will either give up on eating eel, make-do with cooked tuna sandwiches or just buy our lunch at the shops. It makes as much curriculum sense to blindly stuff things into the curriculum as it did to mandate the teaching of levers in week 3, to supply a universal textbook for each subject or to demand teaching with just over-head projectors.

    Using different and new blogging tools in the right ways and for the right reasons; that is hard, but it is the real world.

    There has been some talk on the lists about blogging with Sharepoint, Moodle or Edublogs. Whilst a teacher might only be concerned about tools that only work inside schools, consideration could be given to the options that retain student control and owership, long after they graduate or transfer to another school or school system.

    With all the space, control and property constraints that a secondary school network imposes on student files, it is going to be harder to justify maintaining access to this work. Cloud based education solutions such Diigo for recording bookmarks and blogging with Edublogs have built into them, a mechanism for students to take over control of the service when they leave school. They could then amend the privay settings to increase their public profile and exposure, backup any items or decide to deleting their work entirely.

    I am interested to note that Monash University have taken a similar position and allow students to keep their Monash Google Apps accounts and documents after they graduate, automatically moving them to an alumni category, thus maintaining contact with former students. This is very unlike the old email and network account I once held, that promptly and imediately evaporated the precise moment that I finished my postgraduate studies.

    With this post, I do not want to rain upon the fun that people are having with the collaboration tools they may be currently using at school Rather, it is my hope and wish that the scope, potential and life for these can span beyond the years at school.

    Yes, learning is messy. So is life.

    This is why it should be gently steered by a skilled educator with a hand on the steering wheel, an eye on the horizon and a memory for the current research findings.

    "Learning is not a product of schooling
    but the lifelong attempt to acquire it"
    - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)


    Notes:Needs these graphics to be included. Here are some links -Roland Gesthuizen
    All have creative commons licenses. We need to identify this, attribute the author etc.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/londonbrad/470160774/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/plakboek/4826777696/


    Sunday, September 5th, 2010
    12:17 pm
    Lunchbox Eels
    Learning is messy, especially when we are working online. This is why it should be gently steered by a educator with a hand on the steering wheel, an eye on the road and a memory for the current research findings.

    It was recently mentioned on the ozteachers list that students should only use a particular blogging tool. It raises some important questions including:
    • is this a position statement, recommended policy decision or mandated instruction?
    • what is the pedagogical basis and research that underpins this?
    • is the scope limited to classrooms or can it telescope to embrace professional learning networks and microblogging?

    I use the blogging tool built inside Moodle, there is another inside Ultranet. I use it for the right pedagogical reasons, a full understanding about the issues and at times I appreciate the closed and controlled nature. It is a sandpit that will evaporate after they leave the school. By contrast, I also use classroom tools that overlap with blogging including Diigo, Wikispaces, GoogleReader and more. Even Scratch has a built in blogging tool.

    Trying to shackle our teaching by mandating a particular tool is akin to stuffing slippery eels into lunch boxes, after a while we will either give up on eating, put up with cooked tuna sandwiches or buy lunch at the shops. It makes as much curriculum sense as mandating the teaching of levers in week 3, a universal textbook for each subject or teaching only with over head projectors.

    Using different and new blogging tools in the right ways and for the right reasons; that is hard, but it is the real world.

    I am curious what others might think?
    Thursday, August 19th, 2010
    9:34 pm
    Show me the money
    Reading again the debate online about "rewarding good teachers"and "weeding out poor teachers". For a moment I had a scary thought. If children are the synthesis of good parenting .. perhaps academic test results are a better indicator of what parents are worth, their contribution to society and how they should be rewarded with money and tax bonuses. :-P (only kidding)

    Whilst police don't often catch criminals by walking their beat amongst the troubled youth, the research shows that this has a bigger impact on local crime compared to bundling them into pursuit cars and flying squads. Whilst many in the public still pander to the idea of "scared straight" projects to drill fear and correct behaviour into juveniles, all the meta-research trends indicate that it does more harm than good. This is not the first time that good research is repeatedly ignored: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3658560

    It is a similar story with our professsion of education. It takes a community to raise a child and a school to facilitate learning amongst students. Distilling this down into its parts misses the precious web of relationships, checks and balances that are vaporous, less tangible but very real. Whilst there is already a great body of peer-reviewed research out there that examines effective learning and great teaching strategies in considerable detail, I sometimes wonder why many refuse to read, understand or consider this body of research.

    Perhaps unlike other professions, the practice of teaching is something that many think that they can easily do but is often just built upon personal experiences and intimate memories. Consider this. Everything that takes us from there to where we are now, is what makes us an evidence based profession, not one assembled from conjecture, speculation or crude league tables.

    "Show me the money?" .. Show me first, the research!


    Current Mood: energetic
    Thursday, August 5th, 2010
    10:30 am
    Points of View
    Alan Kay is best known for his early pioneering work on object-oriented programming and windowing graphical user interface design. The OLPC computers (those little green XO1 laptops you have perhaps seen Tony Forster or myself lugging around) includes Alan Kay's Smalltalk / Squeak / eToys environment, built around Python. You can tinker with this using Sugar on a Stick.

    From my observations of his contributions to the OLPC project, Alan is always emphasizing that computing not as an end in itself, but as a vehicle for learning how to learn. The computer revolution is yet to really start happening.

    "Points of View - a tribute to Alan Kay" is a collection of previously-unpublished essays written to celebrate Alan Kay's 70th birthday. Twenty-nine luminaries from diverse disciplines contributed original material for this book.

    From the IAEP mailing list I read that supplies of the first printing of the book were depleted less than six hours after the announcement. A second book printing is available in return for a small and worthy charity donation. A copy of the entire book in PDF is available for download, for free, from the following page.

          http://vpri.org/pov

    Important stuff for ICT educators, check out the book. :-)


    Current Mood: chipper
    Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
    10:50 pm
    Black Saturday

    Rain Clouds Mar09
    Originally uploaded by plakboek
    Last year, following the heat wave that powered the bush fires in Melbourne, we installed some water tanks and waited patiently for the rains. Here is a collection of photographs of the rain clouds that gathered and our 36000L tanks. (click on the slideshow link)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/plakboek/sets/72157624577287820/

    The royal commission into the death of 173 and injury of 414 people during the bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009 has just handed down its final report. To see the full impact of these fires over the past decade down here, just scroll down and look at the coloured map on this composite png image.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Saturday_bushfires

    The heat wave even gets its own Wikipedia page with the record breaking temperature numbers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_southeastern_Australia_heat_wave

    Amongst other causes, global warming is certainly a contributing factor. Today we just got our notice for preventative cool burning that will be happening around our homes in the hills. With the cool weather, full tanks and rain drizzle, green grass and weeds, it is hard to think that these hills can burn. But they can, and they do.

    I hope we can learn all the lessons that need to be learned and implement all the recommendations in the final report


    Current Mood: thoughtful
    Monday, July 26th, 2010
    4:37 pm
    Blogging in the clouds
    There has been some talk on the lists about blogging with Sharepoint, Moodle or Edublogs. Whilst a teacher might only be concerned about tools that work inside schools, consideration should be given to the options that retain student control and owership, long after they graduate and leave school.

    With all the space, control and property constraints that a secondary school network imposes on student files, it is going to be harder to justify maintaining access these files. Cloud based education solutions such Diigo for recording bookmarks and blogging with Edublogs have built into them, a mechanism for students to take over control of the service when they leave school. They could then amend the privay settings to increase their public profile and exposure, backup any items or decide to deleting their work entirely.

    I am interested to note that Monash University have taken a similar position and allow students to keep their Monash Google Apps email accounts and documents after they graduate, automatically moving them to an alumni category, thus maintaining contact with former students. This is quiet unlike the old email and network accounts I once held that promptly and imediately evaporated, the moment I finished my postgraduate studies and left.

    With this post I do not want to rain upon the fun that people are having with the cool collaboration tools they may be currently using within thier school networks. Rather it is my hope and wish that the scope and life for these tools has the potential to span beyond just a few years at school.
    "Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it" - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)


    Current Mood: happy
    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
    12:55 pm
    Planning with Celtx
    I have just been looking at an interesitng open source and cross platform package called Celtx. It seems to do everything you need to do before actually filming. Scripts, storyboards, production timelines. This could be a great tool for students learning organisational and planning skills.
    http://celtx.com

    This indi film maker gives it a very good review (compared to a commercial alternative)
    http://filmweavers.com/blog/template_permalink.asp?id=104

    From what I can see, if teachers could use this in conjunction with sticky notes, pencil and paper storyboard sheets and other real-world tools then it would be a powerful etool to help brainstorm, plan, storyboard, screenplay, schedule and document a film or multimedia production whilst learning some cool ICT and management skills along the way.

    It could be just the thing to help students organise animal handlers, wardrobe or special effects for their school production :-)


    Current Mood: chipper
    Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
    12:33 am
    Skipping stones over the web2.0 pond
    The successful businesses that friends have that seem to work well online all make a balanced and strategic use of social networking to get their message across. Rather than just relying on e-mail, they are lucky to now have so many free Web 2.0 tools to work with such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIN etc.

    Each of these tools has it's own suite of tools, networking advantages, privacy concerns and other nuances that need to be carefully navigated. This can be managed but only by careful consideration and planning.

    I cascade and quarantine my social networking a couple of different ways. For one I use LinkedIN for professional stuff (ala public CV and professional reflections), Twitter for public broadcasts (ala education shares and blog posts) and Facebook for personal stuff (ala family and friends). I mention that I cascade information as all my LinkedIN status updates are automatically forwarded onto Twitter, then all Twitter posts are also forwarded onto Facebook. This does not happen the other way around.

    Where I cast my stone into the Internet pond, I try to arrange things so that the information ripples will spread only to and where I want it to. If you do the same, keep your eyes wide open if you are going to enjoy the splash.


    Current Mood: cheerful
    Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
    12:59 am
    Gary, Roland, Silvia and Penguin
    ACEC2010 was an national education conference held at South Wharf, Melbourne during April 2010. During the last term break, I was on the technical committee for ACEC2010. I spent much of my time during a school term break working on this project.

    A short video was shown at the closing ceremony drawing upon some video I recorded. Jess and Donna, a talented duo quickly assembled the entire photo and video montage using iMovie09 at the Apple stand in record time. You can view it here: 
         http://acec2010.info/news/acec2010-its-wrap

    You can view a slideshow of photographs with some annotated notes that I added here:
         http://www.flickr.com/photos/plakboek/tags/acec2010/show/

    The best thing for me was the opportunity to meet some fabulous people and the chance to work with a dynamic bunch of 'can do' educators.

    What a team!

    Current Mood: chipper
    Monday, June 14th, 2010
    12:00 am
    The goal of a green font
    There is an ink saving typeface or ecofont that claims to use 20% less ink than traditional fonts. If you want it too, you can get it for free at: http://www.ecofont.com

    You can view an example of this sustainable typeset at: http://www.ecofont.com/assets/docs/ecofont-document.pdf

    This led me to wonder if you could do the same with paper. Imagine punching little holes into it to save on weight, transport costs and raw material, recycling the little bits of paper.

    Whilst we could just print right up to the edge, or use my personal reading horror of smaller fonts, imagine if we over printed our words in red then blue ink. Readers can then use alternate red / blue glasses to read the different words (closing each eye in turn to read the page). This will easily double the text data on each page and has the added benefit of 3D pictures.

    I cannot wait to try this out with my next science class handout.

    Why stop at just red and blue ink? With holographic imaging we could increase further the text storage limits, students just need to hold the paper at different angles to 'read' off each page of information. Then again we could be really radical and transmit information to our students by sticking holographic microdots onto student foreheads as they walk out of the room. Keep your laser readers and RFID chips handy.

    My favourite text data compression and transfer technique uses all the muscles in my left hand to crunch the paper and those of my right arm to transfer the message to a circular storage file in my officer corner. Works a treat all the time.

    GOAL!
    Sunday, June 13th, 2010
    2:31 pm
    Desktop at the VIT mentor workshop
    This was my desktop during VIT organised workshop to prepare teacher mentors.

    I am no longer doing the mentoring for new and graduate teachers at our school but happily, most of this stuff has been recycled. I still use the free pen, used up the sticky pad, gave away the red bag and information folders, and even recycled the laptop electrons.

    Whilst I took away all the good ideas I collected from other participants on the table, only my time. the water in the glass, some skin cells and many lung-fulls of air were left behind.
    Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
    10:40 pm
    The real thing
    Increasingly, I suspect that some Gmail subscribers are very probably marking messages from mailing lists as SPAM instead of unsubscribing. I reckon that this nibbles away at their value with the heuristic SPAM filters we share with Google.

    Occasionally I take the trouble to poke around for legitimate messages amongst those in my Google Spam folder then mark these "Not SPAM". They are not all that hard to spot. I guess that the more of us that do this, the less likely that these messages are treated as SPAM. All good and for a greater collaborative cause too.

    It reminds me of a student that once figured out a snappy way to remove all the fascist red wiggle-lines that appeared under particular words in his assignments. During his creative periods of IT immersion and composition, these red flags would attract the attention of passing English teachers who would then challenge his spelling. He explained that all you had to do was right click then "Add to dictionary" then 'whamo', no more spelling mistakes and a return to the quiet of blissful isolation. He remarked that it didn't really matter, the teacher seemed to enjoy correcting the mistakes later.

    I quietly groan when I consider this ignorance and the future of his growing dictionary of misspelled words.
    Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
    10:54 pm
    What really counts
    I have another confession to make.

    As a child, I became so frustrated when trying to memorise the times tables, I would try slapping my head with an open hand to force the memory cells to work harder.  Well intentioned maths teachers would struggle to explain using coloured wooden blocks whilst I looked on, sucking the red dye out of the longest ones. All through primary school I managed to struggle along by singing aloud different counting sequences to memorising the song in my short-term memory then promptly writing them down (as I would quickly forget) or relying on brute force calculations by counting.

    At secondary school, I could readily deconstruct the sine rule, scribble up a crude Schrodinger wave equation or fill in a periodic table. It was those blasted times tables that haunted me. I have since realized that I am not alone and share this malady with Dr Karl who also like me, also has a problem matching names to even familiar faces. I blame this growing up on a dairy farm as I have no problem telling cows or roos apart.

    Then I learned some finger counting and multiplication strategies such as Chisanbop. These suited me well through my senior years as I could undertake these basic calculations "under the desk" without anybody knowing.

    http://homepage.mac.com/pamsoroosh/iblog/math/C1498644337/E1527377677/index.html
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/10/no_abacus_handy_use_your_hands.php

    Having a calculator at uni was a blessing that propelled me forward. Now when I am teaching  maths, I can quietly do these finger calculations whilst facing the white board or even behind my back.

    I share this with students that struggle with their times tables, but only when they can snatch a pebble from my open hand.
    Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
    11:42 pm
    Drupal for Schools
    Randy Olwyn wrote an interesting page about Drupal, the software are are using on our school website. I met Randy when he spoke at the QLD QSITE 2009 conference in Brisbane, earlier at NECC 2008 and again at ACEC 2010 with some splendid remote sessions.

    http://k12opensourcehelp.com/blogs/randy-orwin/organizing-your-website-content-drupal-views

    He is writing here about his experience with Drupal when he was asked to help with his school district website. It is a good illustration why this was a good software to select from when we were looking about for a content management system to use for our school website.

    If you do go down this path, drop me a line if you are looking for somebody to build the server or even to do some of the tweaking to build a style that suits your school as I might be able to help.
    Thursday, April 1st, 2010
    12:39 pm
    A good deal about netbooks
    The ISTE journal "Learning & Leading" current issue Vol 37.1 has a good article about netbooks on page 14. You can download and read the free online PDF version from this link. http://tr.im/wjuI It is a 4 page summary of the different options spanning thick, ultra-portable and thin computers and gives good mention to the OLPC XO-1 netbook.

    Recently this gained some heavy traction and attention as OLPC Australia deployed units to members of the Yirrkala Community Education Centre on the northeast tip of Arnhem Land, Australia
    As a member of ISTE, I will declare an interest and if you scroll down http://tr.im/wjuW .. (blush) a profile about me with a photograph taken standing on "The Dish" radio telescope with blue hard hat and the hand puppets I use to teach with :-)

    A really rough and sobering analysis of the Apollo missions estimates a 10% failure rate and a 1% failure rate for the space shuttle. They are hoping to do even better for the next craft. The safety imperative that they are working to resolve is to separate human passengers from the instrument / satellite cargo with two launches. The former is packed full of nice human safety stuff such as life support that can launch and return to earth, quite independent from the cargo and the huge fuel reserve that is needed to launch the cargo into orbit.

    This is akin to selling the school truck and replacing it with a minibus and huge trailer (and a huge remote controlled trailer at that) .. or separating passengers from their luggage in an aircraft. Though we might grumble when our baggage sometimes is separated from our bodies with various airport handling errors, we would all agree that our safe journey and return should be the main priority.

    I like to think of the XO-1 as great thinking capsules where users and groups can structure, build and adapt their learning spaces. I rather like the point made at the end of the ISTE review that a cheap solution is not desirable if it is created through draconian measures to limit access to technology resources and services.

    This is not about crumbly hardware bloated with features or fighting to lock students down then out.

    It is about robust solutions and open places to learn.


    Current Mood: cheerful
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