Tuesday 9 December 2008

Vision of Education in the year 2020?

Last June we held an open day on the use of ICT in the school. This was successful in terms of what we got across if not in terms of actual numbers who visited the school. It was definitely quality over quantity.

We have been thinking about what we could do for next year. Add into that mix the desire to run an Islay TeachMeet. The TeachMeet idea was met with very loud enthusiasm when I suggested it at TeachMeet SLF08. Though I suspect that was more to do with the drink than it was an actual commitment to coming to Islay.

I have spent some personal reflection and lots of time chatting to Andy Wallis. We decided that if people were going to make the effort to come to Islay then we need to develop the TeachMeet model to something more.

We are both passionate about education. Education being delivered and accessed using the best and most appropriate tools that are available and not about the next , shiny new technology. I feel that sometimes we all get caught up in the ‘ooo look at the new toy, what can we do with it’ syndrome(I have to be particularly careful that I don’t do this.)

So the idea we had was an unconference to look at where we all like to see education going. In particular where we see it when this year intake formal education (Age 5 in Scotland) are able to choose to leave school (Age 16 in Scotland) in the year 2020.

We wanted the dialogue to be as wide spread as possible. So we have a wiki put in place. This wiki is not about the unconference. Its about education. The unconference is part of the discussion on education.

So what do you think education should look like in the year 2020? What do you see as the stepping stones to allow this vision to be realised? What do you think are the threats?

Don’t put these answers/visions/solution/arguments/proposals/anything else here. Put them onto the wiki at education2020.wikispaces.com.

Also, please talk to your colleagues, pupils, parents, cleaners,etc about this. Get their ideas. Start the conversation. Most teachers haven’t considered this

Blog/twitter about it. I want it to be a place where everyone can make a voice heard.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Higher Education




Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to host a visit to the school by Andrew McCreath. Andrew is the director of IT Services at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen.

RGU are under going a major review of provisions and services for the near future. It was suggested that he have a look at what we are doing and how that might have an influence on where Higher Education needs to look.

We had some very wide ranging and diverse chats about where education may go and technologies that can support this.

It was wonderful to talk to someone of influence in Higher Education and who is looking about at where they may go. Not looking to control and limit as seems to be the case in most IT support at the school level.

I had a fantastic time demonstrating our model of work using OneNote, Tablets, UMPC’s and Wireless Projectors

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Saturday 13 September 2008

Pro/Engineer Wildfire 4 Training

On Monday Myself and my colleague, Sandy Smith, will be starting 2 days training on PTC’s Pro/Engineer Wildfire 4 CAD Application. We will be the first school in Scotland to trained to use this.

More example images here

The training is being delivered by the wonderfully enthusiastic John Forth.

This an incredibly powerful, professional level package. Its probably used most famously on the Discovery Channel TV Programme, ‘American Chopper’. This is where custom chopper manufacturer, OCC use it to visualise the custom chopper designs and produce the working drawings.

This is being delivered in an extremely interesting way. The software is free but only if the teacher goes through the training and achieves a good level of use. The effect of this is that the use of professional level applications is supported  in school and a base of good skills is supported.

Friday 12 September 2008

Islay Jazz Festival 2008

This weekend is the Islay Jazz Festival. To get a feel watch the video below


Looking forward to a few concerts this weekend

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Sunday 31 August 2008

Using Wikispaces

Over the last couple of years I have used Wikispaces and WetPaint to help crate and develop class resources with the classes.

This year I am going to use Wikispaces to develop and display resources from my Intermediate 2 Web Design Class.


This course was developed as part of the DIVA project by the SQA from The Adobe Curriculum

I have found that this a very useful way of making this practical course more real. The only way this can happen is if people come by look and provide feedback. I will be prompting you to go and look and comment on the classes work via this blog and via twitter

Wednesday 27 August 2008

And …. I’m back………Just

Well, that was the summer. I must say that it was the worse I have ever had. And I don’t just mean the weather.

I am not going to go into details but had a helicopter ride and 3 days in a High Dependency ward and that was the first Saturday of the summer holidays!


Been back at school just over a week. Its been busy getting the UMPC’s back out to the owners after a major update of software. A huge well done to Walter (ICT Technician) to get through all the UMPC’s on his own. I had planned to help him.

The really exciting day was this afternoon. I had all of our new intake to start the induction to the UMPC’s. I love they enthusiasm and desire to get their hands on the devices.

I will go through the software that was on the image another time but some really interesting plans on the horizon for this year.

Just watch this space.

New app: Photosynth


If you can’t see ‘Synth’ above then go to http://photosynth.net/

The Synth above was made on the 1st public day of Photosynth at the Pier of Port Charlotte. The village I live in at the moment.

Its an amazing way of taking loads of images and putting them together into a ‘3d’ place.

Monday 7 July 2008

OneNote and Education : New OneNote resources for teachers - Come git' em' while they're hot!

I am a huge fan of MS OneNote. So I am delighted that MS has released materials specifically aimed at Education.

OneNote and Education : New OneNote resources for teachers - Come git' em' while they're hot!

Looking forward to having a closer look over the next week. And I will give some feedback.

Also I am very excited at developing a Cross Continental collaboration project using OneNote

Friday 27 June 2008

Review of the Year 2007-08

Today is that last day of the school year. The video below is a montage of what the pupils have been doing.

They have been involved in a lot of amazing things.

I thought I should reflect on what has been a pretty amazing year all round.

Just over a year ago Islay High School hit a mile stone with the arrival of the first 100 Samsung Q1’s. life has been pretty hectic since then. Younger pupils had already been developing very good skills such as the one below and

Video: Islay House Square in Sketchup

senior pupils were taking off to have adventures in Malawi.

In school last June we were installing Panasonic wireless projectors with sound system and connection plates. Then the summer was spent doing loads of preparation.


We started to roll out the UMPC’s to the pupils. We had a few teething problems with some of the wireless coverage in some parts of the school but this was sorted. Though I know that we need to develop it further.

Also in September (Was it really that long ago) we had a camera team from the BBC come in at do a piece for the Politics Show Scotland.

I started the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) with Strathclyde University. This year was perhaps not the best year to start this but I was assured that nobody got on the first time they applied so I thought I was safe. In the opening tutorial we were told that all our time would have to be dedicated to the SQH and it was extremely demanding………… Hmmm.

I attended the Scottish Learning Festival and attended Teachmeet. Both of these were good but Teachmeet works in so many ways as an opportunity to share and learn.


I was invited to speak at the HandHeld Learning conference.

I heard so many great and inspirational speakers that I felt quite over whelmed.


While this was all developing I was working with Keith Hamon and ‘Meach the Teach’ to develop a cross Atlantic class.

This is probably the thing which I feel I couldn’t develop as fully as I would have liked and I really regret this. The reasons are many fold but we got a couple of good sessions and I know that Mr Meacham has taken it on and developed great links with the American School in Valencia. I really do wish them good luck and maybe I can try and catch up with them, as they will be so far ahead of us, some time in the not too distant future.

In late November myself and Caroline, my wife, were invited to visit the International School of Monaco. How the invite came about was because one of the teachers at the school is from Islay. In fact the schools director is also from Islay. They had heard, through their on island contacts, about what were doing and were very interested. I think the links will continue to develop.


Islay high was selected to be part of the British Councils ‘Dreams + teams’ project to link young leaders and and sport. Islay was linked with the Islands of Palau in Micronesia. Added into this will a world Challenge adventure based on Borneo. The Pupils must plan and raise the money for this part of the trip. More info appeared in January too.


We started to experience our first digital distractions. I knew this was going to happen and we had the Assertive Discipline script in place and ready to go. This has reared its head several times throughout the year but not has much as I had predicted. Though I am certain that what we ‘catch’ is only a small part of what is doing on.

An Article appeared on the FutureLab site which gave a good write up of what had been happening so far.

Andy Wallis in the English subject area encourage some senior pupils to use a blog to put up some of the work they were working on. This was to encourage interaction from the big world about their writing.

I presented to the Scottish ICT Development Group (SICTDG- pronounced SICKDOG). They seemed to be blown away and I had lots of great feedback.


This month we are lucky enough to have a full week off. So how did myself and Andy spend it? We drove, at our own expense, to Perth to talk to other teachers about using technology in education. We attended Teachmeet North. I should point out that it was great fun and we got loads out of it.

It was also about this point that we started to experience some of our digital natives realising that school work is still school work no matter what the media used to deliver it. And they had to work for course work and exams.


As well being the ICT Coordinator I also have a classroom commitment and a dept to run. From Feb through march I was struggling to strike a balance. Add to this the failing of my first SQH assignment and the pressure was on. It really was a heads down time. I must confess when I look back now I am not sure how (if?) I survived. Some things did crash including the resubmission for the SQH.


With my head still spinning I reach the Easter Holidays.

We had a great time with a Consol Day. Had great fun and discovered that I am total crap at Guitar Hero.

At the end of the month I was invited, with one pupil, to a reception at the Scottish Parliament. It was a great experience and Aaron (the pupil) was an absolute star. He talk well and confidently to everyone he met.


I have been piloting and now running the SQA DIVA course ‘Fundamentals in Web Design’. This is a very popular and practical course. In Islay we count it as one of our Vocational Courses.

The course is design based with real world design issues. One pupil actually made it a very real design course by designing, creating and publishing a web site for the Islay Book Festival

I was also asked to speak at the prestigious Education 08 Conference in Westminster


2 thing both happened on the same day. Friday the 13th

We held an ICT Open Day to demonstrate what we have been developing over the last couple of years. I was so please that so many people traveled to Islay and they have written some wonderful things about the day. I was also disappointed that so few islanders came along. This is something I have to think about and see what I can do.

Maybe the second thing that happened that day will have an effect on turn out next time.

Islay became the LTS School of Ambition at the National Education Awards. This is a huge honour for everyone who has had anything to do with the changes that have been happening.

I haven’t done a great deal of reflection yet. I think I will take some time with that over the next few weeks.

What I do know is that we have done a lot this year and this is the start not the finish. We have the basis of something very good but now we need to embed it so that its the natural way of teaching and learning. We need to to think and reflect as a community about what works and even more importantly what doesn’t and needs changed. To quote Bill Gates on his last day “Success is a bad teacher”.

We need to remember one of our core values as a school is to have the confidence to fail. So long as we learn from that and move forward again.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

The Vital Link

Living on an Island has some wonderful advantages. Beautiful scenery, great community spirit, a lovely coastline in any direction but it has some serious issues too.

I filled put some fuel in my car this morning . At £1.42 per litre its amongst the most expensive in the UK. What's the reason for this? We have to bring it over from the mainland via the ferry.

This is a vital link for people, goods and businesses. This video report from the BBC takes a quick look at the some of the issues involved.

If you watch it you will see where I am building my house right at the end.

PS When is the BBC going to allow embedding?

Saturday 21 June 2008

Celtx Script Creator and Editor

nwinton recently passed this onto Andy Wallis of our English subject area.

I have spent way too much time getting familiar with it and think its a great open source based script editor I just wish I had looked at the Blip TV video before I did that and I would have saved so much time.

Now, is it too late to get this added to the new image for the UMPC update………….

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Sunday 15 June 2008

Islay Wins at the Scottish Education Awards

On Friday, as well as the ICT Open Day (more about that later), it was the awards ceremony for the Scottish Education Awards.

The Category we were nominated for was The LTS Ambition Award.

To quote the web site.

This award is about taking on new challenges and generating an ethos of ambition, a “can do” attitude and a buzz and excitement in the life of the school. It is about instilling self belief in young people, extending their opportunities and transforming their life chances.

If you can respond positively to one or more of the following questions, we would welcome your nomination:

  • Have young people in your school, or a school that you know, achieved a success against the odds?

  • Have you seen significant improvements in attainment, or any area of achievement, in your school or a school that you know, because young people have been motivated to achieve more than before?

  • Is there a “can do” attitude in your school, or a school that you know, that encourages young people to believe in themselves and their potential?

We were all delight that the hard work that everyone has out in over the last 5 years as been recognised.

Now we need to plan the celebration with every member of our community.

PS This is the second year in a row that an Islay school has won an award. Bowmore Primary School’s Pre 5 Unit won the ICT Award last year. This quite a record.

Sunday 8 June 2008

Does ‘Less Paper’ mean Paperless?

Islay High has been mentioned twice in this weeks Times Educational Supplement Scotland (TESS).

One was Vox Pop interview with a media studies teacher in the school, Gavin Ritchie. I suspect Gav will be getting teased mercilessly in the staff room tomorrow. Not because what he is reported saying but the image they used of him is awful!

One thing thing I will be asking him is whether he used the words ‘paperfree school’. We are most definitely not paperfree. Even the Guardian Education article was called “Is the paperfree school in sight?”

In the other article ‘Bin hard copies to save money’, Islay’s savings from being “paperless” was quoted.

While I appreciate the acknowledgment of the work that everyone is doing to make our ICT project sustainable, I think that the terms used do not help.

We are striving to use less paper but at no stage have I or any of the staff (At least not without sarcasm) used the these terms. Its is very clear that we are trying to shift from paper being used most of the time to using digitised material predominately. This is nothing like being “paperfree” or “paperless”.

These are distractions to what we are trying to do. Even the use of the technology is a distraction to the fundamental changes that the technology allows. They UMPC’s are conduits to the curriculum not a replacement to the curriculum.

During the approach to the exams a lot of pupils were asking for printed notes for revision. This I can understand. Nothing like spreading the paper out around you. The solution I recommended for English was that they make up their own study notes from the electronic notes. Use it as an exercise for study in itself. These were then printed out for the individuals involved but even then they still used the UMPC’s to search notes, watch scenes, listen to plays as well as have the study notes.

So, my question for you to answer is does the media fixation on the devices or idea of paperless help or hinder?

Thursday 5 June 2008

Using Gaming technology to show Data

Creating virtual databases

Imagine being able to ‘see’ data and see what has changed.

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Monday 2 June 2008


I have been hugely impressed by Sir Ken Robinson since wondering (Full of ignorance about who he was) into his Keynote at SETT 2005.

It was inspirational and transformational. Moving me down a path of Design based teaching and work with the Lighthouse, Centre for Design and Architecture in Glasgow

Lots of us have seen his talk at TED. Thanks to John Connell's link to

Jim Henderson I have found another talk by Ken Robinson.


Friday 30 May 2008

ICT Open Day

2 Weeks today we are going to have an ICT open day.

This is being aimed at parents, and local businesses, but anyone interested in what we are doing is more than welcome.

A rough guide to the day is:

Starting at 11 am (though anyone arriving earlier simply comes to the school earlier and gets a head start) to allow people to get to Islay via various methods. (More on this later)

an Introduction

An opportunity to be shown a device being used in a class by your own pupil.

An opportunity to take part in several classes using a device.


Q&A Though I am certain that this will be happening naturally throughout the day.

Wrap up officially about 2-30.

This allows people to catch either the 3-30pm plane or ferry

For those who are who are coming to visit us from off Island I would ask that they fill in this form. This is so we know who to expect as well to pick up from Ferries or Planes at which times.

We could also arrange for some accommodation, with staff from the school. So long as the numbers don't get too big.

So, please come along and get a first hand feeling for what is happening.

Those of you who blog, could I ask you to pass this information on. Thanks.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Brain Rules - An Advert?

I picked up these resources from The Thinking Stick

I posted this slideshare very briefly the other day. I deleted it after some reflection as I thought it was too much of an Ad.

Is it an ad?

This youtube video is 50 min presentation by John Medina which convinced me that it is an ad. But I think the product is worth it.


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Windows 7 Multi-touch interface

It was announced today that the next version of Windows, being windows 7 at the moment, is to have multi touch built into it

Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7

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Tuesday 27 May 2008

Desktop Eee PC


A desktop version of the Eee PC. Even cheaper?

More on OneNote

Another video on using OneNote

OneNote: the Mega-Tool for Learning


I am big fan of MS OneNote. It is the application used most in IHS. It is used to replace Notebooks (known as Jotters in Scotland). I have just come across the the MS Research Roadshow site. This is giving info on lots of things like the worldwidetelescope, and Boku. Another new release from Microsoft Research is InkSeine.

I have been playing developing my skills with InkSeine. This is a research project for tablet PC's and UMPC's.

I have found the page control to be excellent and the search integration brilliant. but I don't think this will replace OneNote, even for quick notes but I think that the next version of OneNote will have lots of these features built into it.

If you want an intro to what OneNote can do then the video below is good.

OneNote for Office 2007

Thursday 22 May 2008

Education 08

Today I am in London. I was speaking at a Seminar at the Education '08 Conference.

The theme of this conference is 'Pathways to Personalisation'.

In the seminar on using UMPC's within education I was speaking with Jo Verrier, New Line Learning and Ian Stephenson, Q-Talk.

We are each using the Samsung Q1 in very different circumstances and ways.

What this presentation is covering.


The Place and circumstances



The questions we started with.

Out Strands for changing the school.

UMPC's being used in English and in Science

What we have put in place so far

These devices are not an end in themselves. They simply allow the pupils to connect to the resources they need.

Why we choose the Samsung Q1

The next developments

The feedback we got was excellent from both the seminars.

Friday 16 May 2008

Islay Book Festival, Iain Banks and DIVA

Islay Book Festival will be running in early September. The among the Authors coming is Iain Banks.

The main reason I am blogging this though is that the site for the festival was produced by a pupil of IHS on the Fundamentals in Web Design Course. It is, in fact, his final exam piece.

This course was created using the Macromedia Adobe Course via the DIVA project.

Though it is under the banner of Computing and IT but it is a Design based course. With the pupils creating media and web sites for clients. They must interview them, produce a spec with them, give them a range of designs and then produce a final produce to that spec and to the satisfaction of the client.

I think more Design &Technology subject specialists and Art & Design subject specialists could be making much more use of this course. Another interesting characteristic of this course is that the pupils could sit the Adobe online exam and receive the SQA Qualification and the industry standard qualification at the same time.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Death of Education, Birth of Learning?

I just picked this up from the Thinking Stick. Its from the Pearson Foundation.

Worldwide Telescope

I have been playing about with the Worldwide Telescope. It having almost as much of a wow factor as Google Earth did when I first saw it.

With Interactive Guides to help you the ability to access information about what you are looking at directly on the screen I see this as being a wonderful tool for the classroom or for personal exploration.

I particularly loved the Panorama's from Mars. Such great detail.

Seeing Worldwide Telescope

Sunday 11 May 2008

PC World - Business Center: Microsoft to Limit Capabilities of Cheap Laptops

PC World - Business Center: Microsoft to Limit Capabilities of Cheap Laptops

The part which really interested me is the price point of $16 for emerging markets. Now if they would do do the same for education. Would we would be ready to roll out 1to1? Wouldn't we?

Though I am still very committed too touch screen devices for the replacement of Jotters (Notebooks) because it allows pupils to hand write. This is very much a skill and personally think is far more useful than keyboard skills.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Islay Open Day

This is just a prompt for those who thinking of attending the Islay Open Day on Friday 13th of June.

Please complete the form and see the info at the top right hand side of this page

Wednesday 30 April 2008

Tuesday 29 April 2008

"What do Teachers Really Make?"

Andy Wallis from IHS's English dept (He really needs to be more online)sent me this video.

What do you really make?

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Sunday 27 April 2008

Lower cost 3D printing

As a Design and Technology subject specialist I have been using 3D drawing packages for a number of years. I have been dreaming of purchasing a 3d Printer for the school. I have imagined a pupil designing a product from Initial ideas, developing it in a 3D environment and real models and then producing an accurate prototype.

Looks like this may be a step closer from The Desktop Factory.


Video: 3D Printing

Thursday 24 April 2008

Open Day

If you are planning to come to Islay for the Open Day on Friday the 13thJune please complete this form at Google Docs.

Parliamentary Reception

On Wednesday 23rd Islay High was asked to man a 'pod' at a reception at the Scottish Parliament. The reception was organised by the Microsoft and the SQA to show examples of the range of things that are happening with ICT across Scotland and have been supported by Microsoft.

A Pod, it turns out, is a table with a display board in the main reception area of the Parliament

Examples from Dundee primary schools (whose very young pupils stole the evening) of introductory technologies, through to University of the West of Scotland and their IT Academy. As well as Stirling Uni's link with Falkirk FC to encourage educational access.

The pupil I had with me had me at the event, Aaron, was a star. Talking to one and all. From the MSP's, Cabinet Minister's, fellow pupils, company representatives. He took them all in his stride. Here he is chatting away with Jom Mather, MSP for Argyll & Bute and Cabinet Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism.

The feedback we got was very positive. With several people being absolutely stunned.  Especially those from higher education and industry.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

John Connell » Blog Archive » Teaching at a Crossroads


John Connell » Blog Archive » Teaching at a Crossroads

Please go and read.

It is a wonderfully intelligent critique of where education is at the moment.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Design Education - Define Design

A little while ago, ok, 18 months ago. I setup a wiki called Design-Ed.

This was inspired when I did some work in the summer of 2006. I was invited by The Lighthouse, Glasgow, to attend a seminar on design education in Jyväskulä, Finland.

The Design Seminar was organised by the Alvaa Aalto Foundation. It brought together a group 12 of people from all over the world spent a week talking, studying design education. We then produced a concept for travelling education exhibition to get young people to explore Architecture with all their senses.

We decided to try and keep working together using a smartgroup and when smartgroup died I setup a Wikispace but it soon dropped out of use.

I want to try again. Hopefully with more participants.

I would like to ask you, "What is your definition of Design?". I am looking for a short 'back of a T-Shirt' one.

You can leave your definition here in the comments or place it directly onto the wikispace here.

Lots of posts this week. Can you tell I am on holiday and avoiding writing an essay?

Monday 14 April 2008

A Curriculum for Excellence Draft Technologies

Today the draft technologies Documents were published. http://www.curriculumforexcellencescotland.gov.uk/outcomes/technologies/index.asp

I would particularly interested in the views of anyone outside Scotland on these.

Sunday 13 April 2008

Melrose 125, Veteran 10's

Cryptic title I know but this is a non school, non technology post.

The Melose 7's is the oldest Rugby 7's competition in the world. In fact this was the 125th Melrose 7's.

As part of the 125th celebration the Melrose club decided to expand the events. With a Youth Seven's and a Ladies Seven's. Islay Rugby Club were extremely honoured to be invited to send a team to the Veterans competition. Veterans are defined as over 35. Fortunately there was no upper age so we could get a team together.

The games were being played over 2 days, Thursday and Friday. I think this was to allow recovery times between the 20 min games but actually it meant a lot of partying  and socialising serious talk about rugby.

We were travelling in the knowledge that we were in the same group as Melrose and Roma of Italy. Both teams had former international players. Melrose had Doddie Weir, Craig Chalmers and Greame Shiel in the team playing in Islay's opening game.

Islay competed well but finished the game behind by 51 points.

The next game was against the Italian team, Roma. The Italian's were a big fast team but the game was played in a great spirit. The only problem was me getting hit in a great tackle by Stephano. This tackle stretched my Cruciate Ligament and I ended up being stretchered off.

Fortunately I was taken great care of by a knee surgeon who was watching the game. It was the end of my competition. But the upside was that I had to sit still and everyone brought me what I wanted.

We had a great night in the Melrose club house. Spending time with the other teams from Kansas City, Caymen Islands, Ayr, Ulster, Palmer (US), Edinburgh, Ledbury, and many others.

The Friday we were drawn against Ayr and Ledbury. Both Teams played the game in great spirit. Islay managed a great win against Ledbury.

From Melrose 08

This only left the Friday night which was the Post Vets celebration and pre seven's warm up. Again another great atmosphere.

A huge thank you to Dougie of The Melrose Club. He was our link man and went above and beyond his duty. It'll be great to see him over again for the Beach Rugby.

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Wednesday 9 April 2008

Islay Open Day 2

Further to my earlier post about the possibility of an Open Day for Islay High.

We now have a date for this. It is Friday the 13th of June. I hope that it will  be lucky for all of us.

As I said in the previous post this is aimed at the the local community (mainly the Parents and Businesses) but this does not mean its exclusively for them and I would encourage as many 'mainlanders' to make the journey to come and see what we are doing.

For those who maybe interested Islay Rugby Club will be holding the annual beach rugby competition  on Saturday the 14th. Official Website for the Beach rugby is at http://islaybeachrugby.com/

Friday 4 April 2008

Consol Championship

Its the last day before the Easter holiday's.

We have had an inter house competitions.

We have had volleyball and consol games.

Some people have been very into the games but particularly Mr Wallis of our English Dept.

What has been interesting is that we got most, 3/4's, of the participants in the consol championship have been girls.

Another huge mention for Russell (A pupils with severe Autism) who got the highest score in the Wii Bowling at 195.



Tuesday 4 March 2008

Islay Open Day?

We have been thinking about having an open day to show what we are doing here in Islay High School. mainly for the ICT but also for the Vocational Courses and our subject/timetable changes.

Locally we have a bit of interest but what I need to know is a the numbers who would be interested in coming from the mainland in Mid June.

The sort of thing we are thinking about is:

Off islanders arrive either by Ferry (See Travel Details Below) or by Plane.

Several demonstrations/workshops on what is being done within the school.

Bowmore Distillery (About 200m from the school) would let us use the visitors suite for refreshments and maybe a teachmeet?

People can leave in the evening or stay overnight for a quiet time bird watching {cough}


Ferry by Calmac

2hrs 15mins

Kennacraig is just over 2hrs drive from Glasgow

First Ferry is at 7am then the next is at 9-45am

Costs: approx £15 per person £80 for a car. Though we would pick people up.

Map image

Flights by BA

From Glasgow 8-30am

35 mins (Depends on wind direction, I have been on a flight of 15 mins)

For those who may want to stay and enjoy the social aspect we have a range of accomodation. From mats in the gym to some very nice hotels.

So how many would be interested in principal?

Friday 29 February 2008

Worldwide Telescope

I have just watched this video on the wonderful TED


Its for the worldwide telescope project looks like a really interesting way for presenting the Universe to pupils.


Has anyone come across Truetube?

According to the background info its for young adults

From its background info:

Truetube provides a safe, pre-moderated platform for 12-25 year olds to use the internet and advances in streaming video technology, to encourage them to think, discuss and engage with moral and ethical issues that matter for this generation, inspiring them to become involved in changing the world that we all inhabit for the better

What do you think?

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Interesting perspective..........

Should we even bother asking teachers? by ZDNet's Christopher Dawson -- I posted the first part of my evaluation of an Apple MacBook for an educational deployment Wednesday morning (MacBooks - to deploy or not to deploy, part 1). While of course sparking the usual Mac vs. PC talk, one reader made an interesting point: Are teachers asked what they think of their desk? The kids’ [...]

Its an interesting point of view.

What do you think?

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Tuesday 19 February 2008

TeachMeet North

I am sitting at TeachMeet North in Perth's Dewers Ice Rink.

About 30 people have turned up to share and listen to each other. with another load

Neil, very kindly, got me to present first.

My talk was about what we are doing at Islay.... surprise, surprise.... in particular the use UMPC's and OneNote.

It was a bit of a gabble but what is to be expected if you only have 7 mins

Saturday 26 January 2008


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

Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008 : eLearning Technology

Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008 : eLearning Technology

This links in with the New Year, New Oppertunities Post I made.
Do you agree?
I will hold my opinion for the moment and return to this later

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.


- 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