Thursday 8 October 2009

Design in S1

I am starting to look at Design with the S1’s.

This is always a difficult time as they are so enthusiastic to get into the workshop and ‘make stuff’. I think its vitally important that they spend time to reflect on the world around them and understand how those human made things came into being.

I have designed a couple of introductions to design that I will be reflecting on here.

This one is an exercise in not only working to a brief but also using the technology.

I have recorded a screen cast of the process they have gone through.

To see this in a lager size please have a look here S1_Keyfob

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Response for John Connell

In John Connell’s Post for a workshop at the BBC, he has asked ……..

  • How did you get into blogging?
    • I was encouraged (Bullied?) by Andrew Brown (Then the Education Support Officer for ICT in Argyll & Bute)  I was, and still am, of the opinion that blog is far too often a personal Soapbox. Saw much more educational use for Wiki’s. I set up an initial blog in June 2006 but moved to this one in the November.
  • What were (are?) the motivations?
    • Decided that I needed to record/broadcast what we were doing with our Schools of Ambition project.
  • How does your “private” blogging relate to your work?
    • Private blogging is now done exclusively via twitter. I have had the occasional personal post in the blog but generally I am reflecting on what I and the school are doing.
  • How do you achieve a balance of personal voice and authority
    • I am not sure I manage this or even if I want to. I am placing my voice and any authority I have is given from others. I think this community implied authority I consider far more real and important.
  • What can be achieved through blogging that can’t through ordinary news/reporting routes?
    • How could a tiny school 2 hours from the mainland have had voice through ‘ordinary news/reporting routes’. It didn’t. Even today we are ‘too far’ for even the educational press to realise where we are. 
  • How do you follow other blogs and other forms of “public conversation”?
    • I have 5 pages of feeds from a wide range of inputs, i.e. blogs, bbc, and technorati tag words but a load come via recommends in twitter.
  • How does your blog connect to others in a “conversation”?
    • It has been the starting point for lots of conversations. Twitter is very conversational, Blog can have some feedback. The best example was the crowd sourced input to the discussion around the Education 2020 wiki This was much more than a conversation.
  • Are there other bloggers you follow especially, others you think are exemplars of the practice?
    • Less now than did at the beginning. At first I had ‘experts’ that I looked too. Now, I find the tag feeds much more important. Though a couple of people provide regular, thought provoking inputs to my thought processes. Taking John as a given. Don Ledingham, though he has gone quite.
  • How do you feel about “lighter” practices such as Tweeting, facebook status updates etc…?
    • These are vital sparks to deeper reflects on blog posts and crowd sourced wiki actions. They are like the ‘pub chats about big topics. They get your brain going but you have to remember this is out in the public domain

    Sunday 13 September 2009

    Call for collaborators

    A couple of years ago I got a very positive feedback on an animation that the the S1’s (12 year olds) at the time had produced using Google Sketchup. On a blog post by Ewan McIntosh, I made contact with Keith Hamon.

    Keith is a wonderfully positive and enthusiastic leader. We talked via email about how we could work with some of the teachers in his part of the world. He identified Bob Meacham from the Banks Stephens Middle School in Forsyth, Georgia, USA.

    Between us we developed a wiki based around pupils sharing information about local buildings.

    The pupils would collect as much information about one local landmark and place it on the wiki for the other pupils to recreate in Sketchup. We would then have some video conferences. I even ‘taught’ the Banks Stephens class how to use Sketchup via VC.

    I think its time to revisit this project.

    I am looking for some classes/teachers from around the world who would be interested in developing a new project.

    Leave a comment or add your name too the wiki

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    Monday 31 August 2009


    In July myself and Caroline (Commonly known as C in twitter) went through to Edinburgh. One reason to the visit was to attend the LeadMeet organised by Con Morris. leadMeet is a very interesting variation on the TeachMeet scenario.

    The event was very well attended. With a good range of people who are passionate about education and professional development.

    I managed to maintain an incredible record. Attended 6, put myself forward to speak at 5 and been selected by the random selector Zero. I have spoken twice at a TeachMeet. Once was virtually from my back bedroom and once was setup in Perth because I had travelled, with Andy Wallis, so far to attend.

    Con suggested (awhile ago now) that I record my talk………… So its Con’s fault

    More images from the event can be found here

    Sunday 30 August 2009

    A broken habit


    Its been a long time since I got out of the habit of blogging. Twitter, the micro blogging service, as dominated my online activities recently.

    Its not that things haven’t been going on. In fact its been extremely busy. I hope to do a catch up with some of the things over the next few weeks.

    This past week has been the first full week in school. (after an extra day due to water supply problems) and therefore the issue of the UMPC’s to the incoming pupils. These are UMPC’s that are new to them.

    On a Friday afternoon we are running How to session’s for all the incoming pupils. In our case that's 43.

    The First session was issuing the UMPC’s, giving out login’s, and logging on……. and of course dealing with associated problems.

    Last Friday was connecting to the internet and accessing email using Outlook 2007.

    I have been using Community Clips to record instructional video’s. Basic ‘How to’s’ for the pupils to refer back too.

    So why have I used Community Clips instead of Jing?

    The main reason was that I wanted to add the video’s directly into OneNote.

    OneNote embeds and plays WMV files directly within the application and Community Clips produces WMV files which I can edit in Movie Maker and place in the OneNote to create a NoteBook.

    Jing produces FLV (and MPEG’s if you pay the subscription and I paid the subscription 2 days before discovering Community Clips) files which are much smaller. These can be hyperlinked and will play when clicked in a notebook and they open in the devices default player. I wanted to keep everything within OneNote and keep the work flow as simple as possible.

    Sunday 7 June 2009

    The Future is Almost Here

    Maybe that’s a slight paradox, but the education2020 unconference is almost upon us. After months of discussions we are nearing the big day. Both Ian and myself have been overwhelmed by the response to the event (at least 40 people will be in attendance); we never thought it would attract so many dedicated people from around the UK and also the rest of the world – we thank you all very much for making such an effort to attend the event.

    There is now detailed information about the structure of the unconference on the wiki and it will take the shape of a Knowledge Cafe format. It is worth highlighting that there will also be a Flash Meeting running alongside the event so if you are unable to make the actual event, your input would be invaluable via this avenue.

    Pupils from the High School will be filming some of the event, mainly capturing short sound bites from those at the unconference relating to their vision of education in 2020 – so be prepared to give your response; there will be no opportunity to be a silent observer at this event!! These videos will be uploaded after the event.

    I am sure that everyone will have a great time at the unconference and that it will not only spark some creative thinking regarding what education might look like in the future, but will also be an informal event where folk will experience a taste of Islay. SlĂ inte!



    Recent sunset taken looking out from Bowmore

    Wednesday 6 May 2009

    Big Adventures Small Technologies

    Islay High School has been developing some ‘interesting’ trips. Amongst the usual and wonderful, skiing, Outward Bound, Sports, etc. trips. We have been going for bigger adventures too. This has been developed by one of our Deputy Head Teachers, Stephen Harrison.

    The first adventure (Trip is far too small a word these) was in 2003 to Costa Rica. No Blog though lots of memories for those involved.

    Though this was the start of the adventure the start of the project was 2 years before that. That is when the pupils committed to going and to raising the funds to go and commit to the training regime.

    The second adventure was in 2005 to Ecuador. They tried to Blog but hadn’t quite got the hang of it. Though the photos are wonderful.

    The third adventure was to Malawi and this time the Blogging was better but still a bit stilted due to access issues. Though the response on the BBC Island Blogging site was tremendous.

    This adventure takes a slightly different format as it is covering 2 countries, Palau and Borneo.

    An earlier Blog post gives some of the detail but loads more to come. The pupils have setup a blog and will be starting to post to it soon.

    That's the background. This is what I am looking for.

    What technologies should they be taking?

    I have spoken to one of our suppliers, Lanway, and asked about a small, robust UMPC or netbook. They are suggesting that they can borrow a solid state UMPC with built in Camera (Both Video and still) and takes a SIM card. Though I will have to check out if they can connect to the local network after reading this.

    They will also be taking an Olympus SW790 (Thats the one that can be dropped and used in water upto 3m).

    I am a little concerned about charging. I have been looking at solar chargers. Anyone know anything?

    and lastly GPS tracking………. I am a complete novice at this and would welcome any help.

    And the last catch all What would you take?

    Looking forward to the responses.


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    Wednesday 15 April 2009

    Informal curriculum

    Over the last year we have been offering various informal courses. These courses have been things like Art and Crafts, Archaeology, film making, film appreciation, conversational Spanish, and many others. Wednesday and Friday afternoons are interesting times to visit the school. These changed several times over the year. This time has been created because of the efficiency of teaching to a particular stage rather than to an age. It also provided time when whole school events could be run without cutting into certificate classes.

    The school has been reflecting on these afternoons and considering allowing some to run for 1 afternoon a week for the full year.

    I have been thinking through a couple of things I might offer.


    A computer graphics course:

    Whole year

    Introduce basic skills in photo editing, 3D graphics/CAD, animation, and a few other things. Then set portfolio piece as an outcome

    Microsoft Digital Literacy course

    Whole year

    Introduce basic computer literacy's

    Possible MS Academy courses as extensions

    DIY Woodworking skills 

    Repeated 3 times throughout the year.

    I miss teaching practical skills

    E-Safety Course

    Repeated 3 times throughout the year

    Give CEOP training

    All of these are thoughts at the moment and I am looking feedback on what your thoughts


    Thursday 26 February 2009

    New Developments – Take One

    Recently there has been a lot of excitement at Islay High School, and an air of anticipation, regarding the acquisition of some amazing video equipment. Over the past few months we have been working hard to secure funding for a long term film project which will involve pupils, staff, and members of the local community.


    The main aim of this project is to produce mini documentaries regarding life on Islay, especially as seen through the eyes of the youth on the island, and through the medium of Gaelic. Pupils will be working on researching topics, will be involved in a lot of pre-production work, will be developing the necessary skills to use all the equipment involved (camera skills, audio, lighting, editing, sound, Celtx etc), and will be firmly working within the ideals of a Curriculum for Excellence. In the future podcasts / radio shows will also be produced, and it is envisaged that a multimedia website will be developed showcasing the work of the pupils. We are also looking into creating a permanent space to showcase the productions.

    Our first project will be concerning the future of the Gaelic language on the island. The group believes that the language needs to look forward and we are looking to breakdown certain false stereotypes regarding not only the language, but also the image of islanders that is sometimes presented to others. If you have any thoughts about the future of the language (both positive and negative), we would love to hear them!

    Updates will appear here as and when, and we will also include clips of work in progress.

    Sunday 11 January 2009

    Regrets? I have few……….

    In 2006 I missed an opportunity. Its not often I look back and ‘I wish I had done that’ but this was definitely one of them.

    I was in Glasgow to present at a Conference in Glasgow. Actually myself and Mark Adams from Microsoft were announcing our plans for ICT in Islay High School.

    Andrew Brown said I should come through to Edinburgh some people were having a get together after eLive. This is my regret. I declined.

    I decided that I should stay in my hotel room in Glasgow and stay focused.

    If I had gone I would have been present at the very first TeachMeet and quote Andrew, “About a dozen people, some of whom I had met before, but a great opportunity. I came home on the train the next day very positive and enthusiastic about the future of developing community around the country/world in using technology in education.”

    I could have gone and been prepared for the next day. Damn!

    I have attended TeachMeet SETT 07, TeachMeet SLF 07 and TeachMeet North directly. Others I have attended virtually. I have even presented virtually.

    This week see’s TeachMeet 09 BETT. and things are a little but different from the ‘dozen people’ who were at the first one.

    With so far 126 people attending, plus 34 wanting to stand up to talk and 16 people willing to organise or help.

    I shall be attending via the Flashmeeting but good luck and wishes to all who will be at the event. And if your going to BETT and not going……… well you may regret it.

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