Saturday, 26 January 2008

SickDog

No, not a talk to the Dog Protection League or the RSPCA but group called the Scottish Information Communication Technology Development Group - SICTDG but gets prounced as the title.

The group had been meeting at Stirling University to  look at some of the future technologies and there possible uses in education.

Andrew Brown invited me come along and tell the group about we are doing at Islay High School.

I was quite nervous about this as this group know their stuff.

Here is my presentation but Slideshare doesn't like Inking.

 

The feed back I got was extremely positive.

After this I was planning to fly back to Islay on the Friday morning but, as it was it was burns' night, it became 'the best laid plans of mice and men'. The weather was against me and I eventually got home on the evening flight but even that was an interesting flight with the plane coming in sideways and landing on one wheel. An extremely impressive bit to flying.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Blank Page and the Mystery Box

I would like to thank Keith Hamon and the feed from his class which brought my attention to the video below.

I am huge fan of TED but I seem to have missed this talk. This is great, inspiring talk from JJ Abrams. It fits wonderfully with the New Blog from some of the Pupils studying English in Islay High.

New Year, New Opportunities?

From a closed forum I contribute to, I Asked the following question.

With the start of 2008 What do you see as the important challenges/changes for the coming year?

I suppose I should answer my own question: I see (Gazing into my Crystal Ball); Changes:

- Most schools having a virtual display board; be that a Blog, a wiki, Glow, media sharing site (a safe one of course)

- E-twinning - loads more schools using the easy links made possible with ICT to communicate with other pupils else where in the country or the world using Skype, Glow (with Maratech), Flash Meeting, Yugami, or any other VC app that appears.

- Unfortunately I also see the continued, unquestioning, distribution of IWB's. I say unfortunately because I just don't get them. They are useful in some classrooms and at some ages ( Watch the video, its great. Though I should confess its from one of our feeder primary schools pre 5 units) but why is it best to follow the old models of teachers standing at the front and 'chalking and talking'?

- a few will move further down the 1-to-1 route. Primary schools using the Linux based machines like the minibook. Secondary schools developing the use of Write On technologies like UMPC's or Tablets.

Challenges:

- getting more teachers reflecting on where technologies can be a positive advantage within their teaching and not 'another thing to learn'

- making it sustainable. Realising that a lot of money could switched from the Photocopying technologies to Information Technologies.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Borneo / Palau Trip

Further to my earlier post about a proposed trip here are the official details from the teachers involved. We are also planning a blog by te pupils about this too.

In the summer of 2009, a group of Islay High pupils are aiming to be involved in a twin centre expedition which will take in the rainforest and mountains of Borneo along with a sports link up on the island of Palau, part of the Federated states of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean.

The whole trip should last four weeks with the first three taking place in Borneo and the last week in Palau.

The aim is for the group, around 20 pupils and 2 staff, to fly from Glasgow to Manila, Philippines, then onto Borneo for the three weeks before heading back to Manila and moving onto the Palau section. The Borneo trip will involve the pupils organising the whole expedition to include travel plans, route work, accommodation, food and activities. There will also be tied in some form of community project with a local school.

The Palau stage is linked to the British Youth Sports Trust’s Dreams and Teams project. This involves a partnership between Islay and Palau High schools where there is a sharing of cultures and the nature of both communities. Our pupils are hoping to organise a three day summer sports festival in Palau – taking some of our own local and national sporting sub-cultures and incorporating them with indigenous Micronesian activities to allow an unforgettable sports experience to occur for children of both countries to share in.

All of this involves a lot of pre planning and organisation – particularly financing the trip. Therefore fundraising activities will be undertaken throughout the next year and a half and all Islay pupils are encouraged to earn fifty per cent of the costs through part time jobs or project work which will keep the costs to their parents down to a minimal, if anything at all.

A lifetime opportunity for these pupils is ready to be entered.

Stephen Harrison

Depute Head Teacher

&

Kevin Park

Principal Teacher PE

Islay High School

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

[Blank Page]

I would like to introduce a new Blog from 4 Islay High School Higher English pupils working through a unit focusing on Creative Writing.

Please drop by and join in.

 

 

FutureLab Article

A big thank you to Merlin John for writing this article for FutureLab and this article for yesterday's Guardian Link Magazine.

 

Friday, 4 January 2008

» What would my ideal education ultraportable look like? | Education IT | ZDNet.com

So what would it look like?

From the article:

  • Make it bigger. Not by much, but I’d love to see a laptop in this market that is big enough to be usable by high schoolers, but small enough to be lugged around by elementary kids. Even a jump to an 8.5″ widescreen would make a big difference. This would be just enough to uncramp the keyboard a bit for larger hands, while keeping it very accessible (and personal, as Intel notes) for small children.
  • Make it thinner. It doesn’t have to be Eee thin; durability should be the primary concern. However, to maintain maximum portability with the larger footprint, especially for little kids, shaving off even a quarter inch would be signficant.
  • An 8GB solid state drive would reduce dependence on network connectivity and allow more flexibility in terms of software.
  • Make it convertible to a tablet/ebook. The ebook mode is a particularly cool feature on the XO and adding touch/stylus input would ease notetaking and reduce reliance on a tight keyboard.
  • Ensure that students can collaborate, even in the absence of a wireless access point (as with the XO’s mesh networking), but focus on 802.11a/b/g connectivity.
  • Give it a speed boost. This doesn’t need to be drastic as these aren’t meant to be speed demons. However, kids start multitasking very quickly, so even a bump in RAM could make the difference between acceptable and sluggish performance.
  • Avoid the integrated camera/webcam. Sorry, but this has the makings of a disaster. There are simply too many potential problems with kids (young and old), the Internet, and unsupervised webcams. This isn’t on the current Classmate and I hope it stays off. A webcam could easily be plugged in via the USB ports under adult supervision if needed.
  • Include handicapped accessibility software such as screen readers, screen zoom, speech to text, etc.
  • Keep the handle, but lose the flap. The current Classmate (like the XO), integrates a handle for easy carrying. It works perfectly for little folks. However, the flap that holds the laptop closed is a thick piece of vinyl that only gets in the way. I’m definitely thinking magnetic closures.
  • Offer plenty of operating systems choices: Intel is currently offering Windows, Mandriva, and Metasys and is working with Canonical to develop OS images. Adding support to roll these out as wireless thin clients and to more easily install non-certified operating systems would provide maximum flexibility to schools adopting the machines. Did someone say wireless Edubuntu?
  • Keep it cheap. $200 is a magic number. I know we’re a ways from hitting this pricepoint with the specifications above, but Moore’s Law is our friend. It’s just a matter of time.

» What would my ideal education ultraportable look like? | Education IT | ZDNet.com

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Digital Distraction

Just before the holiday's (Happy New Year!) started we had been looking at some of our little angels who were getting distracted.

Of course this has happened with Jotters (Notebooks) for years, you know those little animations in the corners but with access to UMPC's and wireless network access the opportunities are vastly increased.

We have been looking at several solutions to this. The simplest is to get the pupils close over the devices and with the wireless projectors we can move around the pupils and watch what is happening. If teachers think an individual has been distracted we can check the activities of the individuals at that time. Several have been identified and had consequences to their actions.

I knew their was security applications to check what everyone is doing but I feel this removes part of the point of personal responsibility and I don't want to be Big Brother. But........ I also have a professional responsibly to make sure that pupils are learning in my class.

So what is the solution?

I have been looking at SynchronEyes from Smart Technologies supplied in the UK by Steljes.

Does anyone have experience of using this or any other product?