Friday, December 24, 2010

Fun On Friday #96: Advent Craft 4

As a boy, I remember trying to make my own snow globe. I had a nice wee jam jar and some waterproof cement type adhesive that looked a bit like snow when it dried. I stuck a Christmas decoration onto the lid with the cement and created a little Christmas scene. Then, I filled the jar with water, added some glitter, screwed on the lid, turned it upside down... and the glitter plummeted to the bottom! No gently falling snow, just, "Wham!", all at the bottom.

I was a bit miffed and decided they must use special floating glitter in snow globes.

If only the Internet had been invented when I were a lad. If it had been, I might have discovered the How to Make a Christmas Snow Globe Craft instructions which tells me a secret about how to make the glitter float.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Couple Of Festive Things

I mentioned in a comment on Fun On Friday #92: Advent Calendar that someone had posted a comment which was then deleted (not by me) that linked to Festive 24 Things. The link was deleted but I've continued to watch the site with interest. There's loads of great "things" there. Here are a couple of my favourites...

First a great video of a Flashmob in action:



And a great idea for a Christmas quiz. Here are the lyrics from one of my favoute Christmas songs as interpreted by Tagxedo:


And here's my favourite Christmas carol:


There are special Christmas no-prizes for the first people to name those tunes!

Thank you Festive 24 Things for a great set of links and ideas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas is a time for giving...

As I mentioned in the previous post, I suspect that some of you will be getting portable digital video players for Christmas - perhaps an iPod Touch, an iPad or an Android tablet of some sort. If so, come Christmas Day, you might find yourself scrabbling about trying to find some video to transfer to your new toy.

Some DVDs now come with a ready ripped version of the film that can be copied straight to your portable device (or computer) without any messing about. The first time I was aware of this was with the Wolverine DVD but I hope this is a feature that grows to be come standard. It seems to me this is a very sensible way to combat piracy - make it as easy as possible to obtain legal, reasonably priced, copies of material in a format of the users choice. Certainly, it is much a better idea than suing teenagers or adding copy protection that seriously annoys legitimate purchasers while only inconveniences pirates. And don't get me started on that stupid "You wouldn't steal a car..." sequence that I am forced to watch whenever I play one of my legally purchased DVDs!

What if you do not have any DVDs with ready ripped material? Well those nice people at Digiarty Software have come to your rescue this Christmas. They are making a copy of MacX iPod DVD Ripper available free to facebook users. Will I say that again? A free copy MacX iPod DVD Ripper. Excellent! (And note, despite the "Mac" in the name, there are versions for both Macintosh and Windows).

Just go to the Special Offer section on their facebook page, scroll down a bit (if necessary) and there they are; two download buttons for MacX iPod DVD Ripper.

Not sure how it works with the Windows version, but with the Mac download, you get an installer and a text file with a licence code. In next to no time you are up and running... and ripping. The offer is available until 10 January 2011.

And there is more. It seems there is an opportunity to get a free copy of MacX DVD Ripper Pro too. I haven't tried it yet but I'll let you know how I get on when I do.

So thank you everyone at Digiarty Software and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun On Friday #95: Advent Craft 3

I'm guessing many people will be getting an eReader device of some sort for Christmas (for example a Kindle or an iPad). As, such, you will probably wonder what on earth you are going to do with all the paperbacks that you currently have lying around once they have been replaced with the new technology.

Why not clear some space before Christmas by turning some old paperbacks into Christmas decorations? (My wife the English teacher wouldn't approve of this... so maybe you could do it with charity shop books of dubious quality. That way you are donating to charity and removing duff books from circulation at the same time. A win-win?)

The All Free Crafts site has instructions on how to turn an old paperback into a 3D Christmas tree. It looks relatively simple to do and, from the photos at least, it looks surprisingly effective. (Disclaimer: I've not tried to make one myself yet... I just like the look of it.)

The site also shows you how to make a Snowman and a Santa Claus using a similar technique but they both involve sticking on a lot more non-paperback parts. I like the simplicity of the tree version.

So what do you think? Appalling abuse of literature or something useful to do with a Jeffery Archer novel?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fun On Friday #94: Advent Craft 2

Last year I linked to Elf Yourself and the year before to Critter Carols. This year I thought I'd go for a DIY approach.

First, choose a photograph. I chose this one of my dog in the snow.

Next, go to Picnik and use it to edit your picture. (You can upload the picture from your hard disk or edit it directly from one of a number of online photo sites including Flickr and facebook.) Use the Create tab and the Holiday Fun tools to add Christmas stuff to your photo. Here is my Picniked picture of Blue: Red Nosed Reindog.

Finally, go to Blabberize and add a message to create your own animated Christmas greeting.


Not as slick and polished as Elf Yourself of Critter Carols but all your own work!

Have fun! And please share anything you create by leaving a comment on this post.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Fun On Friday #93: Advent Craft 1

I'm hoping to find four Christmas themed Fun On Friday's on the run up to Christmas. Here's the first one which I found thanks to a re-tweet from the Marvellous Mr Barrett (see @tombarrett for all sorts of interesting stuff).


Originally uploaded by Theresa Thompson
Do you want to know how to make a Rudolph out of the inside of a kitchen roll? Then look no further than How to make a paper roll Rudolph reindeer from the Guardian's site.

Easy to make and fun to do. What more can you ask for from a Christmas craft?

The article links to the Red Ted Art Blog where it looks like there are tons more simple but effective ideas.

Do you have any other Christmas crafts recommend?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Advent Calendars: Take 2

What online Advent calendars are you following? I picked three for my last Fun On Friday (see Fun On Friday #92: Advent Calendar) but chose them without having a chance to preview because it was still November.

I was initially disappointed with two of my three choices but today, it looks like they are going to be OK after all. Since I had been scunnered though, I went looking for alternatives and found two excellent examples on the BBC's website:
  1. The Doctor Who Adventure Calendar. (See what they did there?) A non-traditional format for this one; instead of opening doors, every day there is a new link added. For example, Day One was instructions on how to play a game and Day Two has wallpaper to download.
  2. Radio Four's Today Show Calendar. This is a more traditional layout. Behind every door is a sound clip from the programme. For example, Day One is Evan Davis cracking up over the MP Duck House story.
There must be other good online advent calendars out there though. What are you using?

Ah well... I probably better go. You know me. Stuff to do.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun On Friday #92: Advent Calendar

Last Friday in November, so I though links to advent calendars would be appropriate.


Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Of course, the problem is, since I can't check them out before December starts, I'm going on guesswork as to which of the many online calendars available will be worth watching as Christmas approaches. So on gut instinct and little else, I'm going to recommend the following three:
  • Santa Games Calendar: It looks like there will be a game/puzzle for every day - which sounds promising.
  • Woodlands Junior Advent Calendar 2010: A school based calendar seems appropriate for an edublog and this one claims that it is an "...interactive advent calendar contains fascinating facts and information about how Christmas is celebrated in different countries around the world".
  • Liverpool Museums Online Advent Calendar: There is no information at all about this calendar on the web page but I'm guessing that an official national museum calendar is likely to be of interest to schools and educators.
Did you use an online calendar last year, or do you have any calendar you' like to recommend?

Update: Disappointing! The Santa Games is the best of the three but it's too hard! I can only spot four differences. The Woodlands calendar is refusing to believe it's December the first and the Liverpool Museum shows a nice picture... but tells you nothing about it. Have you found anything better?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fun On Friday #91: The Blues!

Sometimes, you've just got to sing the Blues.

I was in two minds about whether this should be a Fun On Friday or a post on Feedback. In the end, I decided to put it here. The Blues Maker lets you choose the Blues harp breaks and the lyrics to create a unique... well, unique-ish, Blues song to order.


Once your customised song has been "recorded", you can share your creation with the world. Here's mine.

If you have a go, let me know where I can find your song.

{Sorry Fun On Friday is late again... I fell asleep on the couch last night with the laptop on my knees!}

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Look Good Glaikit

How To Look Good Glaikit may seem an odd title for a CPD event but it looks like it's going to be an interesting couple of days. The two-day event will look at ways of creating and sustaining online learning communities in Glow.

{Live-ish blog to capture some of the things that strike me as the day progresses.}


© R. A. J. Muir 2010. Used with permission.
Chinese proverb: When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.

CPDScotsman says, "You can't lurk collegiatly". Can you force people to contribute? What about the concept of virtual learners? An interesting discussion developed initially in the room but then in the Twitter backchannel. One Tweet that caused a bit of discussion came from @ewanmcintosh:
Fact: 90% of users won't contribute anything. But without them your community dies. Taking w/out contributing is part of ecosystem
I was going to comment on this and include some of the other discussion but I think it deserves a blog post of its own. I'll try to do something on it tonight.

We had to list five things we want our online communities to achieve. My five are:
  1. Foster a sense of belonging. The online community should support social as well as educational activities.
  2. A place to learn. This should allow people to learn by watching as well as by contributing - it is possible to over-emphasize the value of contributing.
  3. Effective contributors. Different levels of participation possible but as people become more comfortable in a community, they may grow into being effective contributors. (See Salmon's Five Stage Model.)
  4. Creative users. The online community should free people to be creative, not constrain them to one way of working.
  5. Help rather than hinder. If the online tool gets in the way of learning, find a better tool! See the cartoon above - the tray is supposed to help you, not add to your burdens.
It was a think, pair share type exercise and, eventually, four of us working together came up with an agreed set of five aims. A dot voting exercise (see dotvoting.org for an online example of this type of activity) was then employed to identify the aims that got the most votes from the community. The voting will be summarised and shared later and I'll try to post the results here when they are available.

Towards the end of the day, there was a demonstration of a CPDMeet web part which was designed to make it easy to set up online events. This template included a series of buttons (Glow hotspots) in a follow up activities section. One of the buttons was, "Say thank you", which sends an email to the organiser/presenter. I like this. If you want to up participation levels and minimise lurking, make the participation bar as low as possible. In facebook terms, give users a Like button to click.

It is now the end of the day, and to be honest, I'm not sure I did what I was supposed to do (i.e. set up or improve a Glow group) but I learned a lot, participated in some cracking discussions and shared resources... and I had fun! I may get into trouble tomorrow for not doing what I was told to do today but I'll cross that online bridge when I come to it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fun On Friday #90: A Nags Arm

Short and sweet this week.

Go to the Internet Anagram Server, type a word or phrase into the find anagrams box and generate some anagrams. Now choose an anagram you like the look of, copy it and follow the Anagram Animation link at the top, right-hand side of the page. Type in the original text, paste in the anagram chosen earlier, and generate an animated anagram.



















Brilliant!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fun On Friday #89: A maze of twisty games all alike

The first computer game I ever played involved hitting a small white square from one side of the screen to another with a white rectangle. I loved it but it cost money to play and (as far as I knew) the nearest machine was at the airport - not exactly easy to get to.

I know that games nowadays are all about graphics and the current crop of of games machines have the processing power of half a dozen super computers but, for me, it has always been about the gameplay. This is why I loved the original Colossal Caves Adventure game. No graphics, typed commands, frustrating axe throwing dwarves and an extremely confusing maze of twisty little passages, all alike... but I spent hours on this game. (Hours I probably should have been spending on my numerical analysis notes!) No bells, no whistles but a game that sucked you in and kept you coming back for more.

I think my favourite bit was arriving at a room where the description took up the whole screen. There were no puzzles to solve, no treasure to find, just the following:
You are on the edge of a breath-taking view. Far below you is an active volcano, from which great gouts of molten lava come surging out, cascading back down into the depths. The glowing rock fills the farthest reaches of the cavern with a blood-red glare, giving every- thing an eerie, macabre appearance. The air is filled with flickering sparks of ash and a heavy smell of brimstone. The walls are hot to the touch, and the thundering of the volcano drowns out all other sounds. Embedded in the jagged roof far overhead are myriad twisted formations composed of pure white alabaster, which scatter the murky light into sinister apparitions upon the walls. To one side is a deep gorge, filled with a bizarre chaos of tortured rock which seems to have been crafted by the devil himself. An immense river of fire crashes out from the depths of the volcano, burns its way through the gorge, and plummets into a bottomless pit far off to your left. To the right, an immense geyser of blistering steam erupts continuously from a barren island in the center of a sulfurous lake, which bubbles ominously. The far right wall is aflame with an incandescence of its own, which lends an additional infernal splendor to the already hellish scene. A dark, foreboding passage exits to the south.
If, like me, you have fond memories of text based adventure games, or if you are just a young thing and wonder what on earth I'm talking about, the place to go is the iFiction site. Here you will find 264 classic games. And, of course, the first one you should check out is the Adventure game.

(Hint: If I were you, I'd go east first and if you are completely stumped about how to play, type help.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun On Friday #88: Inanimate Alice

Part of me is grateful to Neil Winton for directing me to to Inanimate Alice. Another part of me is very, very miffed.


The Passage of Time
Originally uploaded by ToniVC
I'm grateful because it is a fascinating , engaging, immersive, interesting and wonderful piece of work. I'm not sure that it represents "...the future of reading" but I was certainly hooked and keen to "read" on so I could find out what happened.

I'm very miffed though, because it sucked me in so effectively that the preparation for a class that I should have been doing went out the window. Oops! Time management has never been one of my strong points but when I have something as fascinating as this to distract me, there is simply no hope!

So what do you think? Evil distraction that sucks away time or interesting story told in an innovative and striking way?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twitter Tales

This week, I was exploring the use of social networking tools to stimulate or support creative writing with a class. I based one exercise on the Fortunately/Unfortunately wiki.


Twitter
Originally uploaded by respres
I started the story with this tweet: "Unfortunately, while walking to school I fell down a hole!" and the idea was that the students would take turns at continuing the story alternating between "Fortunately" and "Unfortunately". I'll give you the link to the story so far in a moment but a couple of explanations are required to help you make sense of some of the extra messages in the archive.

First, I just posted my tweet with out explanation. As a result, two people expressed concern that I had fallen down a hole! One of the messages in the archive is therefore me thanking them for their concern and explaining what I was doing. The other problem is, not all of the messages showed up in the archive. As a result, I had to re-tweet them. Unfortunately, we ended up with three "Fortunately"s in a row before I re-tweeted. Despite these teething problems, I think the story is beginning to shape up:

Hashtag archive - #BEd42010 A Fortunately, unfortunately story created by BEd students

What do you think of the story so far?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun On Friday #87: Ada Lovelace

I was speaking to some students this week about Ada Lovelace. She was stunningly smart. She described a machine that was never built; realised that it was a general purpose device (not just a number cruncher); and wrote the first computer program!

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Then I came across Ada Lovelace: The Origin! on the 2D Goggles site. Perhaps not entirely accurate but outstandingly good fun and full of real information (in spite of the nonsense).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ways To Discourage Children From Becoming Computing Scientists

I was tidying up recently (and despite all evidence to the contrary, I do tidy up... occasionally) and came across a document from the Mathematical Association titled 23 Ways To Discourage Children From Becoming Mathematicians. My copy looks like it has been photocopied too many times from what looks like a typewritten original. The author is Anita Straker (does anyone else have fond memories of Martello Towers?) and I think it was first written in 1987.

It contains such gems as:
  • Make sure you always give the children's work a mark out of 10, but never give 10/10 since the child would have no incentive to do better.
  • Make sure that children know that they should get things right first time. Never allow them to amend what they have done.
  • Never let children work together, or they will copy each other, and then you will never know who does, and who doesn't, know their 7 times table.
See what she did there?


277/366: Drag and drop
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
I thought it would be worth compiling a list of Ways To Discourage Children From Becoming Computing Scientists or How To Put Children Off ICT As A Learning Tool. Here are a few of my initial ideas:
  1. The first time you meet a new class at the beginning of the year, always cover the basics. You can never do, "This is a keyboard. This is a mouse." too often.
  2. Never believe children when they tell you how good they are using computers in fact never ask them what they can do in the first place because they will always exaggerate.
  3. In programming, always emphasise the syntax of new commands. Don't waste your time with problem solving; just get them to learn the keywords and all the variations of how they are used.
  4. Never play games on the computer. This will confuse children into thinking Computing is fun; it is important that they realise Computing is a very serious subject. (The one exception to this rule is games that involve repeatedly solving an endless supply of basic arithmetic questions.)
  5. Always make children write things out first before letting them on the computers to type it up and make it look pretty. But don't let them fiddle about too much with fonts, colours and graphics or they will waste valuable time that could be spent learning "This is a keyboard. This is a mouse."
  6. Let children use a computer only during specifically timetabled sessions. If they have a question they'd like to Google, make them wait until Friday afternoon when the whole class is in the computer lab. Children need to learn that computers are a scarce resource.
  7. The best way to introduce the FOR loop is to make the children write a program to display their name on the screen ten times. (All children have love to see their name on a computer screen.) An obvious extension exercise for children who finish early is to re-write the program to put the school's name on the screen 100 times. This will let them feel like real programmers and will show them the true power of programming.
  8. The ICT equipment in schools should be at least five years old. Modern computers are too fast and too easy to use. It is important that children struggle with technology so that they realise that Computing is a difficult subject.
  9. Never let children use their own equipment in schools. If you even see them looking at a mobile phone, send them straight to the headteacher. (If they are using a mobile phone, how will they ever learn "This is a keyboard. This is a mouse."?)
  10. Interactive Whiteboards are misnamed; the "Interactive" part of the name is redundant. Under no circumstances should a pupil be allowed to touch the whiteboard. Boards are expensive and pupils could break them or get them sticky and dirty.
I thought I'd take a leaf from Tom Barrett's book and start a Google Doc to collect more ways to discourage children from using computers. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

P.S. It is said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but in my experience, some people fail to spot sarcasm. Can I therefore make it clear that although I have posted ten ways to put children off Computing, my hope is that this list will encourage people to do the exact opposite!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun On Friday #86: Presentations

Another Friday, another YouTube video.

I was talking about presentations this week, so I went looking for Life After Death By Powerpoint. I discovered that Don McMillan has updated it, for example, he's added a section on graphs at the end:



The sad thing is, I have seen many of the things he criticises used in "real" presentations.

{Apology: Another week and another Fun on Friday with no posts in between. Too much to do, too little time. (Or rather too little organisation and self-discipline!) I will try to do better.}

Friday, October 08, 2010

Fun On Friday #85: Bloom's Taxonomy

As readers of this blog, you are clearly bright and intelligent people; people who are interested in education. As such you are probably already familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy but for those who are not in that fortunate position, here is a very helpful YouTube video which will tell you all you need to know.

Perhaps this is too serious a topic for a Fun on a Friday but I hope you find it useful.



{I feel a series coming on... what movies teach us about educational theory!}

Thursday, October 07, 2010

TeachMeet@SLF2010: Reflection

It's now two weeks since TeachMeet@SLF 2010 but I wanted to do a quick post with a few thoughts and observations.

It was a slightly different experience for me this year since I was (at least nominally) in charge of the Flashmeeting. Can I start therefore by apologising for not being very good at my job. For a start, we were a bit late in starting the feed from the meeting, so people were hanging about a long time before we got up and running. Then, during the presentations, I kept forgetting to point the camera at the screen. Finally, rather than look after the Flashmeeting during the roundtable discussions, I abandoned the laptop at one table and went to a different one myself. Sorry folks.

In my defence, I abandoned the Flashmeeting during the roundtable because I was feeling a bit isolated; sitting at the table all on my ownsome instead of sitting at a table chatting with friends old and new. At least Ian noticed my predicament:

And to be fair, all though I was left all alone, Ian did bring me a drink!

Loads of interesting ideas (as usual) and some new innovations (largely thanks to David Noble I think). I liked the roundtable sessions and the World Cafe discussions as they both gave opportunities for interaction. I think it was good too that the number of presentations were limited so that everyone who signed up to do a presentation got the opportunity to do so. I remember how frustrated I was last year that my name wasn't picked and I didn't get a chance to do my bit. Names were still picked at random but just to decide the order of the presenters. (I was beginning to suspect conspiracy when we were reaching end of the evening and my name still hadn't come up; I was the second last speaker!)

All the people presenting were very good and it seems insidious to mention only one or two... but I'm going to do it anyway! I really enjoyed Jen Deyenberg's presentation on GPS and Geocaching. She delivered her spot at about 90mph and packed a ridiculous amount in to her seven minutes. Excellent stuff. She has posted something on her own blog about her talk and John has posted the audio too. The other presentation I thought was interesting was a two minute one from Sean Farrell talking about how to make Glow login easier for younger pupils. He has a screenshot of a proof-of-concept of how it might work. It reminded me a bit of the visual password system used by Vidoop (now owned by Confidant Technologies - not clear if it will remain free). I wonder how the Glow people or Local Authorities would react to using an OpenID system to login to Glow?

The World Cafe event I sat in on was on the future of TeachMeet... but I think I need another post to do justice to my thoughts about that topic!

Just a brief review here, but other people have already written about TeachMeet, for example, I like John Johnston's post and John has also been doing a fantastic job of posting audio from the event on the TMSLF2010 Posterous site.

P.S. Thanks to all involved in the organisation of this event - especially David Noble who took on the lion's share of the organisation.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Fun On Friday #84: Sand Dance

I was listening to a play on the radio which played a snatch of music that reminded me of something... I couldn't place it at first but suddenly it came to me: Egyptian Ballet by Alexandre Luigini. This in turn led me to look for a video clip for today's Fun On Friday.

The name of the music may not be familiar to you but I suspect you would recognise the tune and, if you are a certain age, you will almost certainly recognise the names Wilson, Keppel and Betty. Here they are, at the peak of their powers performing their Sand Dance to the tune Egyptian Ballet. (The sand dance starts around the 20 second mark):



The ease and style with which they perform is a testament to the constant repetition and polishing they did over many years of performing. Making something look that effortless is extraordinarily hard work! If you need proof of this, look at some of the videos of really poor attempts to copy the routine that are also posted on YouTube!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scottish Learning Festival 2010

A week has gone by since the close of the Scottish Learning Festival, so I thought it was well past time time to jot down a few thoughts and impressions.


Meeting Moby
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
As always, one of the best things about the Festival is the number of people you meet. I found it difficult to get around the exhibition area because it seemed that every couple of stands, I'd bump into someone else I knew and would stand and chat with them instead of looking at the exhibitors. I met colleagues old and new; former students and current students; friends and acquaintances. I met some virtual friends (from Twitter among other places) in the "real" world for the first time. I even met a virtual person in the shape of BrainPop's Moby - officially now my favourite big orange robot.

Some people I didn't meet but meant to include Mark Pentleton (I saw him briefly at TeachMeet but wanted to go to his stand in the exhibition area) and Alan Yeoman from 2Simple (I've always liked the 2Simple stuff and I'm really impressed with the way they have put so much of it on the web and provided a pile of resources to boot on the Purple Mash site).

I was glad I met Jenny. Despite meeting her last year, I had almost walked past without recognising her; thankfully she said hello to me. Her round table session at TeachMeet was outstandingly good! (John Johnson was impressed too.)

I was also glad to chat to Jamie on the XMA stand. In particular I was really impressed with the new iPod Nano I saw there. I was surprised by how much I wanted one when I saw it as I hadn't been overly impressed with the Nano when just reading about it. It clips onto clothing/ties/lapels/whatever like the shuffle and while playing music it displays the album art. I heard someone say it was like people wearing badges to show what groups they like, except with the Nano, you have a badge that changes with every new track you are listening to.

Apart from the Nano, there wasn't much new that caught my eye in the exhibition. I was vaguely impressed by an LCD Interactive screen that was being touted as an alternative to Interactive Whiteboards. The brightness and colour were hugely impressive as was the viewing angle, but it was a bit too expensive and perhaps a bit too small. However, give it a couple of years...

I've already blogged about the sessions I attended but I want to highlight two in particular:
  1. Sugata Mitra's Keynote. I had heard about Sugata Mitra's Hole In The Wall project but this was the first time I'd heard anything on his ideas of self-organised learning. I tried to capture what he was saying live: The Hole In The Wall: Self Organising Systems in Education.

  2. Stephen Heppell. As always, hugely quotable. (My favourite this year was his complaint about "Dick Turpin Teaching" where teachers "Stand and deliver!"). See my attempt to keep up with him in Why our Young Embrace Technology to Engage in Learning. I love the way Stephen Heppell presents. He doesn't use a linear Powerpoint style but draws on a collection of icons on his desktop that he pulls up when necessary to illustrate what he is talking about. Brilliant.
So another year, another useful Learning festival... and I've still to do a reflective blog on TeachMeet. Hopefully next week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fun on Friday #83: Dance off

A report, or rather a video, from the Scottish Learning Festival seems appropriate.



From left to right we have Ollie Bray, a small child, Moby from Brain Pop and Derek Robertson (who once again demonstrates how he has the best job in the world!).

I believe Ollie cam last and that the small child beat Moby. However, I suspect that Derek's competitive spirit means that he will have given no quarter to the child; who looks to be a tenth of his age and his height. Can anyone confirm that Derek was willing to destroy all who stood in his way regardless of their age?

Friday, September 24, 2010

TeachMeet@SLF2010: QR Codes in Education

Here is my Prezi from TeachMeet@SLF 2010 on QR Codes in Education:

Update: John Johnston has posted the audio of my presentation.

If you want to find out more, various people recommended QR Codes at Bath and related pages as a good source of ideas (I certainly found them useful) and I would add Mr Robbo's QR Code posts which have loads of practical ideas and examples.

If you want to find a QR Reader and have a go yourself, Mobile Barcodes lists some of the available applications. (I used i-nigma during the demo but I'm intrigued by Stickybits which @relativism introduced me to). Pick a reader and try it out. I used the Kaywa QR Code Generator to create the codes but there are many other free online tools and applications available.

If you want to contact me for more details, everything you need to know is in this QR Code :-)

QR Code with my contact details

Hope you find this useful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Hole In The Wall: Self Organising Systems in Education

{Live capture of keynote from Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology, Newcastle University}

What do we have to do to fulfil the four capacities and how do we measure if we are successful?

A fairly small proportion of the world's children have access to "adequate resources" to support learning. In UK there are problems with aspiration. ("Why should I be a professor like you when I can earn as much driving a bus?") In some areas of the world there are problems with access.

"When I need to know something, I can find out in 5 minutes" - Young child in the UK.

"We can't use the Internet because the school didn't pay for it." - Young child in India.

Professor Mitra found that performance in schools dropped off as the schools got further away from Delhi. Part of the problem was that teachers further from Dehli wanted to move and good teachers were able to move to "better areas". He found similar problems in UK - not geographically remote but high council house areas performed more poorly than schools in areas with higher proportion of private housing.

Showed videos of children exploring, browsing and using software on computers placed in remote areas. Software was in English and children had no prior experience of computers and yet they learned and reached a very high level of competence within a few months.

Arthur C Clark - "Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer should be!" "If children are interested, they will learn."

Another experiment was to put speech to text software in a school for poor children. The software could not understand their English, so they were told they had to learn how to make the software work. They invented their own pedagogy - they downloaded the Oxford speaking dictionary and taught themselves by copying its accent.

"If there is stuff on Google, why do we need to stuff it into our heads?"

Designed an experiment to see if children can teach themselves anything (Kalkuppam Experiment - BJET). A poor, Tamil speaking, tsunami hit village school were given material on DNA replication (in English) and left them to explore and discover what they could. They thought they had not understood anything but had actually discovered an incredible amount - the bar we set as teachers are often much lower than the bar they set themselves. With the help of a friendly mediator using the "Granny Technique" who stood behind them and admired what they were doing! They got their test scores up to the same level as children in better equipped schools with biology teachers.

Self-organised learning environments. Children can go very far but a friendly mediator ("the granny cloud") can help. Children not only learn, but retain and improve on scores because they have worked out how to do it themselves.

How far can we go? "The ten year old doesn't stop; we stop them!" Do age and stage impositions limit children?

Two skills at the heart of this:
  1. Information search and analysis
  2. Reading comprehension
Theses are the most essential skills for primary education today.

What is happening? It is a self-organising system - the system structure appears without external input. Self organising systems are emergent phenomenon - they surprise us.

Speculation: Education is a self organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon.

See his wikispace for more information.

SLF: Games - Creation Not Consumption

{Captured live...}

Charlie says, "On your next CPD day - play games!"

Games Design Initiative. Not just for Computing Departments - it is truly inter-disciplinary. Games design is clearly in the Technologies outcomes but there are outcomes throughout the outcomes across learning. Apart from these obvious links, the game context can be linked to many different curricular areas.


Literacy and Game Design

Story telling has structures that can be linked to game design, for example key narrative points. Also, most games come with additional material give the back story for the characters and to set the scene.


Development Environments

2DIY from 2Simple is a great environment for supporting creativity. A simple drag and drop sorting exercise game created with 2DIY was demonstrated. A tool that makes it easy for even very young children to create games. (Various examples are shared on Glow.)

Scratch: Probably the most popular development environment in use in schools. Example was shown of a game where the sprites were created in plasticine and brought in via a photograph. A robot was a cardboard model that was also photographed and brought in. Other ways the learning was extended was the backstory and narrative in the game, the music, the background images... Real inter-disciplinary work for teams of children to collaborate on and draw on different skills.

Kodu: Free PC Software that works with an XBox controller to create XBox games. Charlie did a live demo and created a game world in the environment to show how easy it is to use. Good that the environment can be used in a straightforward manner to create simple games but can be extended to use complex and sophisticated programming projects. Can get started with some pre-written examples but very soon children begin to explore and discover what can be done. Example from Girvan Primary school of Primary 7 children acting as mentors and training up Primary 4 children. The Primary 4 game creation grew out of literacy (story telling ) work.

Sploder


Games Design Competition

The finalists from this year's competition were shown. Great Scratch game from P5 was shown - developers enjoyed so much they kept working through the summer. Immersive 3D, first person game produced by a 15 year old. Secondary winner came from a large team of pupils who all developed different aspects. The game development was not led by a computing teacher but an English teacher who was interested in the literacy skills.


3D Environment tools

Unreal engine made use of Google SketchUp created 3D models. (Both free tools.)


Glow resources

Loads of good resources in the Consolarium Glow group. Games design is one of the few genuinely inter-disciplinary activities available to schools and one that motivates and interest most children.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TeachMeet@SLF 2010

TeachMeet@SLF 2010 is about to begin. I'll try to capture it live but I'm not promising...

Why our Young Embrace Technology to Engage in Learning

{Blogged live... Quotes may in fact be paraphrased!}

Stephen Heppell: Just bought an new boat. It is 100 years old. "Technology that takes 100 years to refine is pretty good!"

Focusing on the younger generation today. Children are starting to use their own kit in school as schools realise "A turned off device is a turned off child." We are galloping along and educational structures are struggling to keep up. "We need to stop talking about preparing for 21st Century education - we're a tenth of the way through it!"

Talking about very large classes. It works but only if teachers act as a team. One teacher leads, one manages differentiation and one intervenes for "repair" work. Children are self managing and self and peer learning.

"Dick Turpin teaching: Stand and deliver." - This is bad! Rule of three:
  1. Never more than three walls
  2. Never fewer than three points of focus
  3. Space for at least three teachers and three classes.
Post-Google generation - email is what your dad does. When you give children space, trust, technology,... they always astonish you. YouTube is their principle search engine. "Technology will infest them. Like head-lice; but smarter." In times gone past, educators have tried to appropriate the technology - standardise and control. Technology in school will be personal and rightly so - the learners will bring the technology and schools will just have some "spare plimsoles" in the cupboard for the ones that have forgotten their kit.

There is a mismatch between educational outcomes (success in external exams) and what society and business want and need.

Twentieth century delivery - scarcity (lawyers). Millennium - Scale and domination (geeks). Membership and trust (learning professionals).

John Holt (1968) The Underachieving School.

Education used to de-populate rural areas but technology means that work can be done online and could therefore help re-generate rural areas. The high streets in towns/cities are collapsing. Do we just let the cities die? In Alaska, they have re-purposed shopping malls into schools elementary to post compulsory in the one space... and a food hall on the top level too!

Stage not age. What are the sensible upper and lower limits? When should children do workplaced learning? When should they learn about parenting? Give children the right tools and opportunities and they can surprise. Examples given were of very young babies swimming or balance bikes that allow two year olds to learn to ride a bike very easily. How will people play with data? See Mapumental for one example. Chat area in facebook already does real time translation. Translation tools allow easy translation of websites.

Facebook in school leave your teacher's common sense turned on. Common sense must be turned on at all times. E.g. Green schools were built with things like small windows and low ceilings but this sort of thing creates poor learning environments. Problem is "We have a meter that says we are wasting energy but there isn't a meter that says we are wasting learning."

"The world is a broken place; but we can mend it with learning." Good learning doesn't have to be expensive. We have to believe that learning can empower people.

SLF 2010: Computer Games

{Live blog...}

Why games development in schools?

First, games a everywhere: desktop, mobile, consoles. Also, in the current economic downturn, the gaming industry is one if the few areas of growth, e.g. out grossing film. Games are clearly embedded in Curriculum for Excellence but there was a gap after S2, with no obvious games qualification available.

So, Computer Games Design awards were developed. Each level has the same three module areas.

Design: Gaming technologies - looking at hardware, control devices and storage etc. Also running through is a study of the gaming industry.
Design: Design Elements - including iciness, graphics, narrative etc.
Design: Plan and build a game.

Media Assets: Assets in existing games - Identifying and analysing.
Media Assets: Plan media assets - Capture, select and produce assists.
Media Assets: Produce media assets - can produce themselves or as part of a team, commission someone else to produce them.

Development: Create a working game: Programming couldn't be the core of all the units. Also, wanted the modules to be flexible enough to allow a variety of development tools to be used. For example Planet Kodu on the XBox or Little Big Planet (?) on the playstation. Also, complexity of games developed will be influenced by tools available and the descriptors a broad enough to allow for this.
Development: Evaluate a computer game.
Development: Promote a game. Packaging and promotion. Again, this can be completed in groups, multiple-level groups possibly.


Development Environments

  • Unreal Development Kit - freely available professional development environment.
  • Quake 3 Development environment.
  • Planet Kodu
  • Scratch - Well suited to creating games.
  • Gamemaker
  • Microsoft XNA

Assessment

Ongoing portfolio of work created, paper or electronic, which must be maintained and developed over the period of each unit.

Students can progress to the NC in Digital Media Computing or NC in Digital Games Development.

Questions (From audience)

Is it expensive? Development environments and software a free. To play the games, they can be played on PC or Mac. Also, experience of developers is that children bringing their own game consoles!

How do parents view it? Generally very positive because their children are very positive. Also, it is made clear that it is not about playing games all day.

Does it take pupils away from Higher? Does not seem to as it is a different market. Attracts children who would otherwise have been lost to Computing departments.

Will slides be made available? Will probably put on Slideshare and will post via SQA blog.

Katie will be talking in discussion area about Digital Media Computing tomorrow.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun on Friday #82: Time for a commercial break

I usually try to avoid advertising on this blog... but these amused me and I couldn't resist sharing.

First up an old one that my daughters couldn't believe I'd only just discovered the Old Spice advert:



Then this advert from a well known fizzy drinks company:



Which adverts amuse you?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What did they need to know?

I asked for some help about what to include in an hours introduction to ICT for student teachers and got loads of good suggestions (see ICT: Tell me everything I need to know!).


macbook
Originally uploaded by Swansea Photographer
I tried to squeeze too much in and perhaps didn't structure it as well as I might have as a result I didn't have time to cover a couple of areas I wanted to talk about. It was videoed but I'm not sure if it is viewable off campus without logging in. Let me know if you can see it: PGDE2010/11 Intro Lecture.

I started by talking about the Standards For Initial Teacher Education and highlighting the references to ICT in that document. Learning about ICT and discovering how to use ICT effectively in learning and teaching is something that every teacher is expected to do - regardless of stage or subject. I went on at some length about this, in retrospect, probably too long. (It was a bit abstract and would probably have come out more effectively as I demonstrated some specific uses later on.) The key message I hoped to communicate was that they might be confident about their personal ICT skills but that they need to start thinking about their teaching skills. Can they use ICT effectively to support learning and teaching? To that end I quoted one of the people that had responded to my earlier post:
"The most important thing that could have been said to me at the beginning of my teacher training is that ICT is far more than you realise. You may think that you are confident in the field or you may believe that you are a complete novice, either way you have a lot to learn. " - @relativism
To emphasise this, since almost all of them said they had a facebook account, I referred them to the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct, specifically the bit that says:
"As a teacher you must... avoid circumstances which are, or could be, perceived to be of an inappropriate nature. This is also the case in connection with social networking websites, outwith the school/college setting..."
However, I did point out the the GTCS were not suggesting they didn't use social networks at all but rather that they had to start thinking and behaving like teachers. In fact I pointed out that the GTCS make good use of social networking tools and gave the specific example of GTC hosted probationer blogs such as They Don't Use Chalk Any More.

That was a significant chunk time... and I hadn't really started picking up what people had suggested I should have been telling the students about!

However, before I got onto my Personal Learning Network's suggestions, I wanted to say a bit about Glow, so I explained how they would get access and did a quick demo, highlighting in particular GlowMeet (and surprise, surprise, I showed them the Doctor Who Meet page) and the external resources that can be accessed through Glow (specifically the 2Simple stuff).

Finally, I got onto some of the things I wanted to talk about based on the suggestions of others. In particular, a couple of people had suggested I should use examples where ICT allowed things to happen that would be difficult or impossible without ICT. I intended to come back to this in a number of different ways but started by offering a feedback channel for the students by putting a phone number on the screen and inviting the students to send a text. Any text they sent would be automatically displayed on a blog where I will respond to the comments and encourage the students to continue their interactions. I also gave an email address and encouraged students to send a photo to a Posterous blog.

Next up was Twitter. I encouraged them to sign up for Twitter and promised I'd give them more information later about how to get the most out of Twitter. I did make the point of showing them some of the Tweets that had come in from educators while I had been talking to them as a practical demonstration of how Twitter can be used to gather real time information and advice from a Personal Learning Network. (I archived the responses with TwapperKeeper.)

I was rapidly running out of time and I tried to squeeze in some of the suggestions from others but there was loads I missed out. Since this is already a reasonably long post, I think I'll stop here and pick up on what I did (and didn't) do next in a future post.

Let me know what you think of what I've described so far. Is there anything you'd like to add, disagree with or expand upon that will help the students?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fun on Friday #81: What time is it?

Depending on your age, in response to the question in the title, you may have answered either "Hammer Time!" or "Chico Time!" but if you want a more sensible answer, the place to go is HELVETICTOC.
Surprisingly simple and ridiculously amusing!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Fun on Friday #80: The Confuzzle

By turning a shape through 180°, it gets bigger. Impossible I hear you say. The camera never lies. Not impossible, just confuzzling.



If you want, to try it for yourself, there's a set of instructions on how to make your own confuzzle on the Instructables site.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fun on Friday #79: EepyBird Car

World energy crisis? EepyBird come to the rescue with a Coke and Mentos powered car:



Perhaps not as much fun as some of their previous escapades (see for example Fun on Friday #6: Post-its) but something that could lead to classroom experiments... or at least playground experiments? What about building a Mentos powered skateboard? Or looking at other sources of energy, like water powered rockets, soda straw rockets, or balloon powered cars?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Retired Colleagues

Large changes have taken place at Jordanhill, with new courses being launched, and many long serving members of staff leaving/left.


David Stow 2
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
So many people left that the normal retirement conventions broke down. For example, at a departmental meeting held just before the summer break, a speech was made by an ex-head of department which gave a general thanks to five people who were retiring but no collection was taken to buy them a gift and no opportunity was given for them to say anything in reply. Which is a bit of a shame I think. With so many leaving, I can understand it is difficult to do things the way they were done in the past... but it doesn't feel right. The large number retiring may make it feel commonplace but to each individual, it is surely still important.

I'd like therefore to mention two people in particular, David Hart and Jack Winch, who have recently retired. I'd like to talk about them for at least two reasons: one is selfish as I'd like to record my panic at the fact that their retirement leaves me as the sole Computing specialist at Jordanhill; the second though is more important because I believe the huge contribution they have both made to computer education in Scotland and beyond should be noted. I was taught by them back in the mid-eighties as part of my preparation to become a Computing teacher and I suspect that between them they have had a bigger impact on the development of schools Computing than any government initiative or curriculum document.

David retired earlier than Jack and had the benefit of a "proper" retirement event. I don't think anyone who was there will ever forget David's story about his demonstration of how to evacuate a chipmunk. (Don't ask!) However, what I remember most about David is his enthusiasm and the quantity (and quality) of resources that he produced. As a student teacher I found his copious notes on BBC BASIC (printed on a dot-matrix printer if I remember correctly) extraordinarily valuable. Also, I am not a well-organised person, and so I greatly appreciated his quiet and effective administration of the courses he was involved with. I don't know how many times last year we arrived at a point in the course and discovered that we'd forgotten to do something that in the past David had just got on with and organised behind the scenes. (For example, we only realised at the first meeting after Christmas that none of us had produced an attendance sheet for the new term. We'd always just had a list when we needed it because David produced it for us.)

Jack retired just before the summer break and I think what I'll remember most about him is his sartorial elegance. His three-piece suits are legendary. (Although standards began to slip latterly when he appeared with the ten bob suit from Matalan!). I also remember as a student, coming out of a tutorial to find Jack sitting playing a grand piano that for some reason was in a hallway of the David Stow building. (I can't remember if he was singing too. I must have expunged that memory from my brain!) Perhaps more importantly though, I remember his patience and his skill at questioning. He had the ability to ask the right questions and prompt you to reflect on your own performance so that you would realise yourself where things hadn't gone as well as they might. And perhaps more importantly, he could lead you to see how things could be improved without brow-beating you or resorting to the "I telt ye, I telt ye!" method that I find it all to easy to slip into!

I am sure there are readers of this blog who remember David and Jack. Please leave your own comments and memories about them here. I'll be happy to pass your messages on.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fun on Friday #78: Creative Destruction

After a reasonably good return from holiday with a post that generated lots of useful comments (ICT: Tell me everything I need to know!), I've failed to keep the momentum going and so I'm posting a Fun on Saturday this week... However, it's an interesting one that I hope you'll like as much as I do.

I posted a YouTube video on my music site (Rock and Roll!) which involved a 3D projection onto a castle. I thought it was brilliant. Once you start looking for them, there are a fair few examples of the same technique. I think this one raises the bar significantly:



I like the music on the Iron Man example better, and the crowd in this one seems strangely unimpressed, but the visual effects are stunning.

Do you know of any other good examples of this kind of thing?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ICT: Tell me everything I need to know!

I wrote a post some time ago asking how teacher education could prepare teachers for the 21st Century (see Initial Teacher Education and BectaX). I got some very helpful and interesting responses. This time though I want to ask a more focused question in the hope of getting equally useful suggestions:

What should I do in a one hour lecture to get new teaching students excited and enthusiastic about ICT in education?


A full lecture hall!
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Some context to this question may help shape your responses. For the last few years I have had four lectures, each two hours long, where I could talk to the whole cohort of secondary student teachers. I don't think I was always successful in getting the students excited and enthusiastic but I tried to cover a range of topics, including: digital animation, interactive whiteboards, creative computing, ICT literacy, online safety, social networking, game based learning and Glow. I tried to be interactive, I built in discussion time, I used interactive voting systems, I did practical demonstrations and brought in guest speakers (such as Ewan McIntosh, Derek Robertson and Ollie Bray). It wasn't perfect and I changed what I did every year but there was space to explore and experiment.

This year though, the whole course has changed. The primary and secondary courses have come together into a single Professional Graduate Diploma course. As a result, there is a brand new structure and the number of ICT lectures have been cut to... one! A single lecture of one hour. To be fair, this is not the only ICT input the students will get during the one year course as obviously, they will look at and use ICT in smaller groups with a range of other subject specialist as well as on teaching placements. However, this is the only time they will be all together in the one place at the same time to hear about ICT. Also, it is timetabled for the first week of the course, so there is a real opportunity as I will be addressing hundreds of primary and secondary students and could help them to become excited and enthusiastic about the potential for ICT in education right at the start of the course.

So what do I do? What do I demonstrate? What key aspects should I focus on?

There are some things that are already fixed, for example, I will have to talk about the course virtual learning environment. So lets say I have forty minutes for other stuff. Now that I've given the context, I'll ask the question again:

What should I do in a one hour lecture to get new teaching students excited and enthusiastic about ICT in education?

I look forward to your replies.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The only universal constant is change!

Back from holiday, back from an internet free break, back after a long break from blogging...

With all the changes going on in education, there should be loads to write about. To name a few things, Curriculum for Excellence, new national government, new National qualifications, Glow, iPad, and staffing cuts. All this and more will hopefully feature in future posts.

Just now though... I'm still in holiday mode.

P.S. I first hear the phrase used as the title of this post when it was uttered by Howard The Duck. Just thought you'd like to know.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fun on Friday #77: Fun With Music

The Tone Matrix web site says it is a: "Simple sinewave synthesizer triggered by an ordinary 16step sequencer. Each triggered step causes a force on the underlaying wave-map..." Sounds exciting? ...No, it doesn't attract me either. But go to the site, turn up the volume, click some squares and now tell me you are not having fun!

Screenshot of ToneMatrix

And while we are on musical fun... have you ever been Rickrolled? Have you been Rickrolled in type? No? Well have a look at Dancing Typography!

[Note: Since this is the last school day before the holidays in Scotland, this will be the last (official) Fun On Friday for a while.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPad in Education

I had a reasonably extended play with the iPad and I am very impressed. I think it has real potential as an educational tool.


Originally uploaded by JaredEarle
It's worth getting a few of my niggles out of the way first before writing about my generally positive reaction to it:
  • A few of the issues I have relate to the way the iPad has to be tied to an iTunes account. I am not sure how this will work with school machines. It is possible to create an iTunes account without a credit card which may make parents/schools feel happier but I think a more comprehensive solution is required. For example, is it possible to set-up and sync a class set of iPads with a standard build of apps and data?
  • Another niggle that may be connected with Apple's insistence that pretty much everything has to go through iTunes is the way they cripple Bluetooth! I have a Bluetooth enabled printer and had hoped I'd be able to print to it directly from the iPad but apparently I can't! It seems daft to make iWorks available on the iPad but not allow printing so hopefully that will be addressed soon.
  • The decision not to include the clock and calculator applications seems odd. The stopwatch and timer functions in particular would be extremely useful in the classroom.
  • There is apparently no way to get the video signal out of the iPad in any generally useful form. (See Fraser Speirs' excellent video for an exploration of the limitations.)
  • Finally, I have a couple of difficulties with navigation in Safari. First, is it possible to choose to open a link in a new window? Secondly, can you drag and drop items in a Safari window? I worked out that you can scroll through a list in a page by using two fingers to drag the list but can't see how to drag items on a page (e.g. Photos in Flickr's organiser view).
Reading the above over, it seems to be a very long list of niggles but I don't want that to distract from my overall perception - that this is a stunningly useful bit of kit and that it has huge potential in an educational context. Some of my positive observations are:
  • The battery life is outstanding - easily lasting a whole day of fairly heavy use without needing a top up charge.
  • It is relatively light (lighter than a laptop and lighter than many textbooks that students are currently carrying around) and so easy to carry all day.
  • It is great for taking notes. There is no tactile feedback on the keyboard, so I don't think I'd like to write a dissertation on it but I took it to a couple of meetings and I was able to record extensive notes without problem. I also created a couple of blog posts without difficulty.
  • Despite my niggles over navigation in Safari, it is a fantastic device for web surfing. The screen is the right size: readable without having to enlarge and scroll, however, the smart double tap to zoom in on a section works really well if you need it. Also, there is something that feels right about pressing a link with your finger to follow a link. This is a device that can genuinely give ubiquitous access to the Internet... assuming school policies can cope with always on, unrestricted access! (And if they can't, I suspect students will just use the 3G version to bypass the school system anyway!)
  • It is a stunningly good device for reading eBooks. The screen is big enough and clear enough that I can read it without my specs! Having the dictionary available at all times so that you can check the definition of any word is brilliant! And the availability of a range of classic, out of copyright texts for free is great. Add to that the ease with which pupils/teachers can create and distribute their own eBooks and you have a stunningly useful resource. I suspect to see a cottage industry of education/revision books spring up and look forward to some innovative creations (e.g. including pictures, links, audio and video in eBooks).
  • And then there's all those Apps...
Have you tried them in a class yet? What do you think? If you haven't tried them, do you have any concerns about their use?

My first impressions are very good. My problem now is how am I going to get someone to fund me to buy a set of iPads so I can try them with a group of students?