Friday, June 30, 2006

EduFlickr posts... they're like buses!

A line of trolley buses
originally uploaded by The Jhop.
First I promise you that I've made the last EduFlickr post until August, then I post an overspill message. Now here is yet another EduFlickr post - mostly further examples of stuff I've already talked about or hints about topics I might deal with in August. So, "like buses", because you expect to wait two months for the next one and then three arrive at once. :-)

This post was prompted because my site statistics showed a couple of links coming in from a comment left on a post, Social Software using images in Learning and Teaching, on a blog at the University of Glamorgan. Haydn, the tutor (I assume), made a post about Flickr and one of the students (I guess) his fellow tutors {see comment. :-)} referred to my post: Free to use... with Flickr. I followed the links from Haydn's post and before I knew where I was, I had a whole pile of new links to explore and lots more to write about. Isn't the world wide web wonderful. :-)

One of the links was to Terry Freedman's blog. I knew he was doing a series on Flickr Toys (a site that I will almost certainly cover when normal service resumes in August) but I hadn't read his blog for a few days and had missed a great post on using notes in Flickr. Now I covered this in Flickr: Note this!, but Terry's example is so brilliant I wished I'd known about it when I wrote my post. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, this reminded me of exercises I used to do with my first year computing classes back in the 1980s. We had line drawings of a street scene, as well as a room inside a house, and the pupils had to mark where they thought they could see examples of microchips being used. It would be much more fun if the pupils took a picture of their own house (perhaps their bedroom?) or a street scene near the school, and then used Flickr notes to play "spot the ICT".

I already knew about Beth's Art class (see Flickr: Note this!) but I hadn't come across Teaching art history with Flickr where Bryan talks about what she is doing with Flickr. This post from Bryan also led me to Beth's blog (which includes some fantastic video podcasts). And for icing on the cake, Bryan has blogged about a bundle of other education uses of Flickr in Teaching and learning with Flickr. I especially liked aggregated images for teaching an anatomical topic. :-)

And finally... I found my way to Digital Snapshots, Flickr, and Writing by following my nose from one of the links above. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about what the writer describes as the "tech-savviness" of the students. Limited number of digital cameras - not a problem - the students brought their own. No USB Flash drive to transfer the images - not a problem - one of the students used her own to help the others. Transfer pictures to a Palm Pilot - not a problem - he used Bluetooth to transfer from the laptop. Brilliant!

What do you think. Does anyone else have examples of other people talking about or using Flickr in an educational context?

And I promise, this is my last EduFlickr post until August... probably. :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Geotagging: The overspill

Water overflowing from a fountain
All Things Ran Their Course,
originally uploaded by B Tal.
The previous post was a bit of a monster - it just ran away from me. This post originally appeared as a section at the end of the last one but I decided to cut it out and promote it to stand on its own two feet. It has a few more examples of geotagging and geography related ideas that are not all Flickr based.
  • Zooomr is a service that is similar to Flickr, but it has mapping capabilities built in. For example, look at my photograph of Ewan (same photo - different photo-sharing site!). You should see a map at the side of the picture showing where I took it. Zooomr integrates mapping (through LightMap) you can specify the location without leaving Zooomr. (It is not immediately obvious how to do this, but use the LightMap link then follow your nose.)
  • Frappr is a mapping tool that allows you to stick virtual pins in an online map and attach photographs and text as well as links to other web pages. Since you can share your maps and invite others to add their own pins, it is a way of mapping a community. For example I have created EduFlickrFrappr (I just liked the sound of the name... say it with me... EduFlickrFrappr!) so that people who are reading these posts can stick a pin in the map and add a picture of the place where they work or study. Please feel free to try this out and add a pin. Hopefully you can work out what to do on your own but ask me if you get stuck. Note: if you are under 18, you should ask an adult before signing up for Frappr. Remember that it is not a good idea to post pictures of yourself in a public area of the Internet alongside your name and a location where you can be found! It is possible to create private Frappr maps, but the EduFlickrFrappr map is public - that's why I suggest posting a picture of a building rather than of yourself. Also, it is probably a good idea to use a screen name rather than your own name.
  • Geograph is a website that is attempting to, "... collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of the UK and Eire..." Are there gaps in the map near your school? Why not set a class project to find some interesting subjects to fill those gaps?
  • Memory Maps are an idea I first saw in an image called My childhood, seen by Google Maps. I had a go myself with Ardrossan Childhood. It is a variation on linking a picture to a location but without the complication of geotagging. I think that using links to other pictures in the notes on the map image could add an interesting dimension.
  • Geocaching is not really picture related but is more like orienteering with a GPS system with a bit of a treasure hunt thrown in for good measure. However, a virtual geocaching exersize that involves taking pictures and sending them back to a blog or a photo sharing website might be fun!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Where in the world... Geotagging and Flickr

This will probably be the last post on the educational uses of Flickr, and tools like it, before the holidays. I have a few more posts up my sleeve on this topic which I hope to pick up again at the start of the new session in August.

The missing piece
The missing piece,
originally uploaded by Esther17.

As I said in my last EduFlickr post, I had intended to talk about geotagging but got sidetracked! So this is the slightly delayed geotagging post. I will spend a good bit of this post explaining what geotagging is and giving examples of its use. However, I will try to make the educational potential clear throughout.

Firstly then, what is geotagging? A tag is simply a word, or short phrase used to identify an item. Any item can be given one or more these tags and the tags then help to categorise and identify the item. This in turn allows you to search for items using these tags. For example, I found the picture of the jigsaw piece because I searched for pictures with the tag "lost", but the picture is also tagged with "blue", "texture", "random" and "missing", among others. Normally the person creating or providing the item chooses the tags.

Ewan McIntosh at JordanhillGeotagging simply involves using an agreed way of tagging items to add geographical location information. For example, if you look at this picture of Ewan taken while he was speaking to our students, you will see it has a number of tags but in particular, it has the following three:
  • geotagged
  • geo:lat=55.884582
  • geo:lon=-4.340002
The first one, geotagged, simply indicates that the item (a picture in this instance) includes tags specifying its geographical location. The next two tags, geo:lat and geo:lon, indicate the latitude and longitude of the item. In a sense, that's all there is to it. You use a standardised set of tags to identify where a picture was taken. (Wikipedia has a longer entry on GeoTagging if you need a more extended description.) So why is this useful?

Firstly it is useful because you can tap into a number of tools that make use of this standardised way of tagging photographs. For example, since we have identified where the picture was taken, we can look at that location on a map, so in the text under Ewan's picture it says:
Click here to see where this photo was taken. By courtesy of BeeLoop SL (the Mapware & Mobility Solutions Company)
When you follow the link on the word here, you are shown that location on Google Map. Are you going on a school trip, or conducting a local area study, or having a treasure hunt, or...? How useful would it be to be able to show photographs of these activities linked to a map location?

David Stow Building, Jordanhill Campus, University of Strathclyde in GlasgowWith a bit more effort, you can give even more detail. If you have Google Earth installed, you can fly to the location specified by the geotags. With the addition of a few more tags, ge:titlt, ge:head and ge:range, you can specify a direction and angle of view to give a real sense of where the photographer was standing when the picture was taken. Go to the page for the picture of Jordanhill shown here and try the fly to this location link (assuming you have Google Earth installed). Interesting - yes?

Students could use geotagging to tell a story of their life and illustrate it with pictures that are linked to important locations. Or they could survey the land use in an area and take illustrative photographs. Or they could provide a photo itinerary for a school coming on an exchange visit. Or... you get the geotagged picture? :-)

Now, I admit that all the numbers next to these tags look a bit scary. Is it reasonable to expect younger children (or even some older students) to be able to create and add tgeotags? I think the answer is, "yes", because there are a range of tools that are designed to help people find and add this geotags to images. One solution would be to use a portable Global Positioning System (GPS). Perhaps few schools currently have access to this technology, but it is being built into an increasing range of devices (including cameras and mobile phones) and is becoming more and more affordable.

However, since I do not have a GPS system, I use some free tools that are available on the Internet instead. To find a location on Google Map and jump to it from a photograph, I use Geotagr from BeeLoop. It is stunningly useful - just scroll around the map provided and zoom in until you can accurately position yourself. The tags are created for you and you can copy and paste them into Flickr. It also provides text, complete with links, for you to copy and paste into the photograph's description.

Flying to a location and facing in the right direction on Google Earth is slightly more complex, but an excellent tool, GETrackr, does most of the hard work for you. (See also FlickrFly for an explanation and examples.)

As well as tagging their own images, students can of course tap into a wealth of images that other people have already geotagged. For example, search for the geotagged tag, or go to one of the many Flickr geotagging groups (for example FlickrFly and GETrackr).

So, what do you think of geotagging? Does anyone have any examples of classroom uses?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Powered by performancing firefox

Flickr: Saying thank-you

thank you smile

thank you smile,
originally uploaded by dhyanji.
Anne Davis has a blog with the name Edublog Insights, but it's web address is anne.teachesme... well she has certainly been teaching me through some extraordinarily helpful comments she left here on my blog. She left some great feedback in What am I going to do now? but the one that prompted this post was her response to Free to use... with Flickr.

She started me thinking about the way I use other peoples' images. Even when the photograph has a Creative Commons licence, I realise I should still say thank-you. So from now on, starting with the image I am using in this blog post, I'm going to make sure I leave a comment to say thank-you to the people who are generous enough to share their pictures. For instance, my comment on this picture says:
Thank-you for making this picture available under a Creative Commons licence. I was looking for an image that said "thank-you" to use in a blog post and this image was just what I needed. Thank-you.
I also linked back to this post so that the photographer can see his or her work in context.

In her comment, Anne also talks about tagging photographs to make their educational possibilities clearer. I suggested a few generic possibilities, but subsequently I have decided to appropriate one to tag my posts on educational uses of Flickr. I have decided to go for and will add this to the other posts I have already made on this topic. Hopefully that will make it easier to find posts in this irregular series or to track it through an RSS feed.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

P.S. I accidentally "replaced" this post with a new one I was working on. Not sure why this happened, but hopefully this post is now back to the way it was.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Back Garden Experiment

Following on from my Serious science experiment post from a few days ago, the Muirs decided to have a go at this experiment (on a much smaller scale) for themselves.

So in honour of daughter number three's birthday, we bought the equipment, set it up in the back garden and without telling the girls what we were up to, set it off. The results were captured on video... well almost. Since daughter number two, who was doing the filming, didn't know what to expect, the top of the "experiment" was cut off. However, I think it's clear from the reactions just how successful it was.

Enjoy! :-)

Muirs Coke Experiment 1

P.S. Still playing with blogging directly with Flock. I was well impressed with the spell checker in Flock. Much smarter than the one built into Blogger... and it has a UK English dictionary. Hooray! It was almost what I needed to tip me over into being a Flockr rather than a Firefoxr. However, I discovered that the spell checker is available as an extension for Firefox and is called SpellBound. It took a bit of fiddling to get it to work with the latest version of Firefox, but it's working now.

So for the moment, I'm still using Firefox and still just playing with Flock. :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flock/Flickr - Dog/Blog

Various people (e.g. Will Richardson) were recommending a new browser called Flock, so I thought I'd give it a go. One of its selling points is the tight integration with read/write web tools such as Flickr and blogs (in my case Blogger) so I thought I'd give it a go and use it to make a post to Blogger that incorporates a couple of Flickr photos. So not really a standard post - just me playing with the technology.

Blue and Colin play with a baloon
Normally I get up about 6:00am, put the dogs out in the back garden and putter about for a while before pulling on some trousers and taking the boys for a walk.

On the morning that this photo was taken though, I let the boys out the back only to hear Colin wuffing at something. I started hissing at him to be quiet and called them both back in so that he didn't wake the neighbours.

It was only when I took them out for a walk that I discovered why he was wuffing - this helium balloon had drifted into our garden during the night and Colin was clearly not happy about this strange, bobbing creature being in his space! :-)

Blue beats the balloonThankfully Blue came to the rescue and subdued this evil, bobbing monster.

In fact, since it was close to my daughters birthday, she adopted this lost balloon and decided it was hers. However, if anyone wants to claim it back, please leave a comment listing any of the balloon's distinguishing features and details of when you last saw your balloon. It is only slightly chewed... honest!

So, what do I make of my first experience of a Flock produced blog entry? Interesting... but not sure yet about giving up on Firefox (my current browser of choice). I'm sticking with Firefox just now for "if it ain't broke..." reasons but I'm willing to spend a bit more time with Flock to see what it has to offer. First things I noticed that might tempt me away are Flock's drag and drop editing of blog entries (although I think I'll try a similar post in Blogger's editing interface before I pass final judgement on that one) and its snippets feature (like a clipboard facility for temporary storage of text and graphics). Both of these are good. The only thing I've noticed so far that I'd miss if I switched is that the Back button on Flock doesn't seem to let you leap back a bundle of pages in a single bound the way Firefox's does.

More thought and more playing needed methinks!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

P.S. Slight hiccough when I first tried to publish because it sent it to a test blog I have in Blogger rather than this blog! If you are reading this, then I worked out what to do and was successful on my second attempt. Also, when you post, it gives you the option to add Technorati tags: hence the "testing" tag below. That gives me at least two more things to think about. Hmm!

technorati tags:

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Free to use... with Flickr

I'm not sure if this is really a part of my irregular series on educational uses of Flickr. It's certainly not the next post I intended to make but it is about Flickr and educational stuff, so I guess it must be the third in the series. :-) I was talking to some secondary school teachers yesterday about Flickr (among other things) and it was their reaction to something I said that prompted this post.

I was being enthusiastic (also known as ranting) about the educational potential of Flickr notes (see a previous post). I was demonstrating different uses of notes: teacher drawing attention to an aspect of an image; teacher giving a clickable link to further information; teacher asking a question; pupils sharing something they've noticed or learned; pupils asking questions; pupils highlighting areas of danger in a photograph; etc. I also talked about geotagging (which is what I meant to talk about next and will feature in a blog post soon) but that's not what made them sit up and take note either.

When I mentioned that all the pictures in my presentation had come from Flickr and that they were copyright free -- that's when they sat up and took notice!

originally uploaded by bhell13.
Now, before I go any further, I know that it is not accurate to say that Flickr photographs are "copyright free". However, many are made available under Creative Commons Licences and if people have not heard of Creative Commons, I find it easier to say, "copyright free" and then, once I have their attention, explain what Creative Commons actually means. :-)

I hope I didn't give the impression that all the photographs on Flickr have a Creative Commons licence (I was pushed for time) but a phenomenal number do! The Flickr Creative Commons page describes four different aspects of the licence that can be applied to Flickr photos. Perhaps the simplest is the Attribution Licence. This means the photographer will:
let others copy, distribute, display, and perform [the photographer's] copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give [the photographer] credit.
At the time of writing there are over one and a half million photos under an Attribution Licence! However, the largest number of photographs (almost 4.7 million) are available under an Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs Licence. Roughly speaking, this means you can use a photograph as long as you give the photographer credit, do not sell it or use it to make money, and do not alter it in any way.

If you go to a Flickr Creative Commons Licence page, (e.g. the Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs Licence page) you can search for photographs with that particular licence. Brilliant!
originally uploaded by 4blueeyes.
I love Flickr Creative Commons searches. When I want an image to illustrate a blog post or a presentation, it has rarely let me down. I like that you can enter fairly abstract terms and find good, concrete, visual illustrations. For example, in a previous post I wanted an image that said, "help". In the end I went for a photograph of a help key, but I was very tempted to use this image of Alec.

So, why not give Flickr Creative Commons pictures a try the next time you want an image for a worksheet, or to use as a stimulus for creative writing, or to support a discussion task, or to illustrate a point, or...? You get the picture? :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, June 16, 2006

Serious science experiment

I guess I'm a bit late in discovering this because it is all over the Internet but I only read about it yesterday and it was a featured item on the Radio 4 news this morning. I decided to Google it and see what I could find. What I found was a fantastic video!

Now remember: this is serious science performed by serious scientists!

Now... don't you wish you were a science teacher? :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What am I going to do now?

originally uploaded by Siobhan Curran.
I am speaking to four groups of ICT teachers: two from primary schools and two from secondary schools.

I have been asked to tell them about read/write web stuff. I've to get them interested and enthusiastic about the possibilities.

I have forty-five minutes to do it in!

Help! :-)

Where do I start? What is the one thing that I absolutely have to show or tell them about?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bebo behaves responsibly(?)

There is another great post on Bebo from Struan over at the Tree House.

Struan spotted that Bebo seems to be working with the NSPCC and Childline to promote the NSPCC's Don't hide it campaign. Instead of just saying ban it, filter it, or pretend it's not there, the NSPCC are using Bebo in a creative and imaginative way to get their message across to people using Bebo. I think it it has been a brave decision by the NSPCC to work like this and it seems to be a very effective way to communicate directly with young people.

For more details on what they are doing and how you can help, go to Struan's post.

...And if you haven't already subscribed to Struan's RSS feed - why not? Do it now, do it now!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flickr: Note this!

This is the second of what I hope will be an irregular series of posts on using photosharing websites in the classroom. (The first post was Getting to know you... with Flickr.) This time I want to focus on the notes feature provided by Flickr. Notes specify a rectangular area of a picture to which you attach some text. When the pointer is on the rectangle, you see the text. If the pointer is on the picture, but not on a note, you see where all the rectangles are. If the pointer is not on the picture, you see it without any indication of where the notes are so that you can enjoy the picture without visual interruptions.

Computer Room
Computer Room,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
This is probably better felt than telt as we say in Scotland. (Stop me and ask for a translation if you are stumped by the Scots language.) Follow the link to the picture of the Computer room and have a look at the comments under the picture, but especially take the time to look at the notes on the picture itself.

The picture of one of our computing labs. It was posted as an example of an exercise we wanted the students to try on their first school placement. We wanted them to think about the layout of the computer lab in the school and to think about alternative layouts. We wanted them to consider what was good about the organisation of the room and what could make it better? We asked each student to take a picture of a lab and post it with some comments. The other students were then asked to add further comments and questions, but in particular we asked them to leave notes on the picture itself.

The notes feature allows very specific parts of the picture to be highlighted and allows concise, but targeted, comments to be made. In the sample picture shown above, I created all the notes, but in the students' pictures they left notes on each other's photos to ask questions or make observations. I even started a spot the John Walsh book game (like spot the ball, but with the semi-ubiquitous Walsh book). The exercise seemed to work well and interesting and inciteful notes were added to the pictures posted.

Once again, it seemed wise to use a private Flickr group and strict guidelines were given about how to go about this exercise. Guidance included the instructions that there should be no pupils in the picture of the classroom and that the school should not be named or identifiable in any way. Also, they were to seek the permission of the teacher in charge of Computing, explaining what they were going to do, before taking any pictures.

I got the idea from Beth's Art class. I loved the way the students were sharing what they learned about the picture and the symbolism. {Rats! She has just uploaded a new painting and, as yet, there are no notes or comments. I guess a new class is starting soon, so hopefully notes will start to appear in the near future. Update: The new, uncommented picture is still there, but the old picture of "Central panel of the Merode Altarpiece by Campin", complete with notes and comments, is back!} There must be loads of uses for on-picture notes in the classroom. What about a student science project - take a picture of the experiment and add notes. Or take a picture of a student's craft work - other pupils can leave notes with questions about technique or their understanding of the work. Or a photo from a school trip of a public building or monument. Or a local area study. Or a picture of classroom wall display. Or... Do you get the picture? :-)

As before, I'd love to hear about ideas, or see more examples of this in action. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

P.S. Ewan has just posted a picture of some Vikings and used it in a workshop session at a Modern Language in the Primary School Conference. He used it as an example of adding notes to a picture.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Another Meetup

Ewan is organising another Meetup, but this a time with a twist. Instead of just going for a chat and a meal, like we did at the eLive Meetup (see Flickr photos), this time he wants us to do some work too!

Details are a bit sketchy, but the plans are evolving over on the ScotEduBlog wiki. Go have a look and watch for an explanation of what Ewan has planned for us. More importantly, it's a wiki, so add your own responses and help shape the event to suit your own needs and interests.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Credit where credit is due

I made a post this afternoon titled Teachers take the rap which was intended as a bit of fluff - the blogging equivalent of a one-liner. OK it was a long one-liner, but I posted it as much for my amusement as your illumination.

I started with a reference to David Cameron so, as a throw-away, I put in links to Tony Blair and Ming Campbell at the end.

When I got home tonight, I had a quick check of my blog's visitor statistics and was surprised to see who had visited:

Ming comes to visit
Can you see entry number three? (Follow the link on the picture for a bigger version if you want a closer look.) Yes, visitor number three on this list came from Ming Campbell's website. Somebody at the Lib Dems is clearly on the ball, noticed I had linked to them and came for a look. I wonder if it was the man himself? :-) Well done the Lib Dems! So far, not a sausage from New Labour or the Conservatives.

I suppose it is possible that Ming follows my blog, looking for tips on his taxation policy... However, on this occasion, he didn't stay long:

Ming doesn't stay long
(Again, follow the link on the photo for a larger, easier to read version.) Whoever it was came, spent 46 seconds looking around and then clicked my cluster map to see who else was visiting me.

So hats off to Ming Campbell's people. I've put in loads of links this time to see if I can tempt them back. Maybe next time they'll stay long enough to leave a comment. :-)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Teachers take the rap

David Cameron, currently the leader of the opposition, has been giving Rap records and Radio 1 a hard time. He says they encourage a gun and knife culture... which is clearly a bad thing!

I heard an interview on the news today however where some expert was defending Rap. He said:
Rap isn't the cause of the problems. It's just an easy target to take a swing at.
OK, I agree with that.
There are deeper, social issues that need to be tackled.
Yep, still with you.
Instead of attacking Rap, politicians should be addressing these deeper issues.
Agree 100% so far.
So they should look to the sources of the problems. Look to the police service and education.
Ah... I see! So it's the teachers fault. :-)

Ho hum!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

P.S. In the interests of political balance, I suppose I should also link to Tony Blair and Ming Campbell. :-)

P.P.S. My wife the English teacher says I may be misrepresenting the rap chap. He may have meant that education could be part of the solution rather than one of the causes. Possibly true, but it wouldn't have allowed the cheap joke in the above post. :-)

BPI and Russian MP3 sites

Darth Tater's iPod
Warning on CD Case,
originally uploaded by Slin.
I made a post, Greedy and stupid, about how I resisted the temptation to buy music from a Russian download site. Well, I heard on the radio the other night that the BPI were starting legal action against one of these Russian sites. When pressed by the interviewer, the BPI spokesperson had to admit that they wouldn't be prosecuting anyone currently downloading from the site but encouraged music lovers to use legitimate download sources instead.

The interviewer asked why people should pay more to download something when it is not strictly illegal to get it at a fraction of the cost from these Russian sites? The BPI person did her best, and talked about rewarding the music producers so that they can continue to produce music, but it is a hard sell isn't it? Even talking to student teachers about illegal downloads gets a lot of, "Yes, of course it's illegal... but..." responses along with nods and winks and the implication of, "...but everybody does it, don't they?" How will we convince the children about information ethics if the people teaching them are not convinced?

It seems to me that this is an extension of the new literacy issues that David Warlick (among others) talks about. It's about respecting information producers. It's about not exploiting others and their work. It's about using information ethically.

How do we teach this stuff though? Do we take a "Just say no!" approach that the children ignore and many of the teachers seem unconvinced by themselves? I think we need something more radical, but I'm not sure what.

I heard about a project in a primary school. Each pupil in the class had built model houses and they all combined them to make a street - a little model community. Then they added other stuff to make this model community as attractive as they could - to make it the kind of place where they'd like to live. The morning after the had finished it, they came into the class to discover that their model community had been broken and covered with paint! There were tears, there was anger, there was a great deal of upset. Who could have spoiled their model community in this way? It was in fact the teacher! The teacher was giving an object lesson about vandalism and the effect that it has on others.

To be honest, I don't think I could bring myself to cause that level of lasting psychological damage just to make a teaching point, but is some sort of object lesson about the effect of downloading necessary? If so, what?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Another student blog... sort of

When I posted my list of student blogs, there was one I missed out. I didn't omit it because I don't like the student - it's just that it isn't a blog about student things. The blog in question is The Life of Antoninus Pius and claims to be written by Antoninus Pius, that well known (deceased) Roman emperor!

When I first discovered his blog, the part that caught my eye was its description:
The philosophical ramblings of a long-deceased Roman emperor.
I thought it was going to be written in the persona of Antonius Pius and thought that sounded brilliant! However, it turns out that it is a place where the student considers all things ancient... especially all things ancient and Roman. Despite my limited (i.e. non-existent) knowledge of this subject, I find it an interesting read.

However, what if there was a blog written by a historical character? For example, wouldn't it be interesting to read a blog by Mary Queen of Scots - especially if you could read one for the corresponding time-period written by Queen Elizabeth?

David Muir
originally uploaded by toru.k.
Of course, it doesn't have to be a historical character. It would be just as interesting to read a blog written by Atticus Finch while reading through To Kill a Mocking Bird with a class. Or what about a blog by Lennie from Of Mice and Men? ...OK, that one might not be such a good idea as it would be full of rabbits (well, mostly rabbits), but you get the idea... The teacher could write the blog or, depending on the age and stage of the class, it may be possible for the learners to create the blog themselves.

There must be examples of this sort of thing out there already. I know that what I should do is fire up Technorati or use the Google Blog Search tool and go look for examples but I've decided to take the easy way out put the whole Connectivity thing to the test {Thinks: that sounds more educationally justifiable} and just ask if anybody knows of some good examples.

So, does anybody know what I'm talking about? Have you seen examples of blogs like this? Better still, have any of you been involved in the creation of blogs like this? I'd love to know how well it works in practice.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Getting to know you... with Flickr

Last year I was visiting a student and the conversation went something like this (names have been changed to protect the guilty):

Me: Peter did something like that, you should ask him for his worksheet.
Student: Who?
Me: Peter... you know, one of the twins.
Student: Twins? Are there twins in the class?
Me: Yes! They are identical. How could you not have noticed?
Student: Identical twins? Are you sure?

...And so it went on. I couldn't believe she hadn't noticed there were identical twins in the class. Not only did she not know - when she asked her friends, they hadn't noticed either. There were about thirty-six students in the class and they only came together in that particular grouping for about sixteen weeks out of a thirty-six week course. They didn't know each other! I had made the effort to get to know all of them, but forgot to give them the time and opportunity to get to know each other. Silly me! I had the same problem with a Personal and Social Education class the first time I taught one back when I was a real teacher but I clearly didn't learn the lesson.

David Muir
David Muir,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Therefore, this year I thought we should make a deliberate effort to help the students get to know each other. One of the ideas we used was to set up a private Flickr group, post everyone's photos to it and invite the students to add their comments. To start the ball rolling, I posted and answered four questions on my own photo. The questions were:
  1. The last film I watched in the cinema;
  2. The last CD/piece of music I bought;
  3. Favourite TV programme;
  4. Favourite website.
I finished by saying, "Analysis of my warped personality based on this revealing list is awaited with anticipation." I also asked them to answer the same four questions on their own photos This seemed to work fairly well. Follow the link on the photo to see what I said and how the students responded. (The rest of the class photos are still in a private group.)

I like the way Flickr allows you to set up private groups. I created the group and then invited the students to join. Only the people I invited to the group can see the photos and make/read comments. I thought that it was important that this type of exercise takes place in private- just the class group. (Which is why I made my picture public only after getting the permission of the people who had left comments.)

As I said, this seemed to work well. Could this work with classes in schools? (Assuming of course that the photo sharing sites are not blocked in the school by your Authority!) Could you adapt it for getting to know other people? For example, at the start of a joint project with pupils from another school? Or children involved in an exchange visit? Or a "People that help us" project (lollipop person, classroom assistant, librarian, ...)? Do you get the picture? :-) Please leave a comment with other ideas, or describe your own getting to know you ideas if you've done this kind of thing already.

We have continued to use Flickr throughout the year and, if you are interested, I could make some more posts on classroom/educational uses of photo sharing websites. Do you want to see more?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


I only recently noticed that there is an option in Flickr to display your most popular photographs according to how interesting Flickr thinks they are. Apparently my most interesting photograph is the one of Darth Tater. Second is a picture of a classroom (for reasons that are not entirely clear). However, the third most interesting picture in my collection is a photo of one of the students. I asked his permission to show you the screenshot here because the line underneath the photo's name amused me.

Nobody counts Colin McAlpine as a favoriteIt says, "Nobody counts Colin McAlpine as a favorite". Harsh but fair? You be the judge. :-)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Headteacher confiscates home computers

Now this is interesting... A BBC News story with the title Head teacher takes home computers caught my eye. On the back of some of Ewan's recent posts from on restricting Internet access in schools, I thought this was going to be a story about schools going even further to restrict pupil access. Thankfully it wasn't, but the story it tells is even more interesting.

The headteacher is concerned about the children in his primary school who have access to TV, computers, Playstations, etc. in their bedrooms. The BBC report doesn't go into great depth, but an article in the Telegraph fills in a bit more background. It seems that at least part of the problem in his school comes from children who are too tired from staying up half the night in their bedrooms playing games and watching TV - so he takes the stuff out their bedrooms! Interesting, yes?

I especially liked this quote:
"It also improved the 'self-esteem' of parents who felt they lacked the authority to do this themselves to their children."
What!? Parents give their children TVs and computers to use unsupervised in their bedrooms and then don't feel they can do anything about the negative effect this has on the children's behaviour and attainment! (*Rant mode off*)

The main reason I wanted to blog about this however, was because of the headlines that drew my attention in the first place. A casual glance suggests that, once again, computers are causing trouble and have to be controlled - thus confirming prejudices. A closer reading suggests a much more complex problem. What do you think?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, June 02, 2006

Coming to you live...

I thoroughly enjoyed the eLive conference - I hope you got a flavour of this from my posts. :-)

One stunningly useful aspect of the conference was the free wi-fi Internet access. It made a huge difference. For example, I don't know how many times I've written a web address down on a bit of paper only to find that I couldn't make head nor tail of it when I tried to go to the site at a later date. "Is that a wibble dot com or a wobble dot com I've written down?" At this conference, I could go directly to the website and bookmark it, or blog about it. Great! Also, being able to blog the conference as it happened was good. I think it kept me sharp, kept me focused.

There were a number of active bloggers at the event so that you could get a variety of interpretations of the same session or find out about one you missed. ...And wasn't it interesting that one keynote speaker created a blog post about the other keynote? The explosion of posts seemed to catch peoples attention. For example David Warlick picked up on it with a post on Hitch Hiking and Learning. As he says:
"I'’ve breathed in the exhaust of the eLIVE event, and I've learned."
I'm not sure about the "exhaust" bit, but I think I know what he means. :-)

originally uploaded by Edublogger.
However, the very best bit of the conference was getting to meet and talk to a whole bunch of fantastic people. For example, I got to talk to Will Richardson - in fact he came with us on the Scotedublog Meetup which was brilliant. I've included a photo here that Ewan took of Will saying good stuff and me trying to keep up! I am sorry though that I didn't get a chance to talk to Alan November. Ewan said that he had read my post of his keynote and that I should have said hello, but he'd gone back to the States before I had a chance... maybe another time.

16  DB ScotsEduBlog
16 DB ScotsEduBlog,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
It was also good to spend time with Ewan and John. Back at SETT last year, as far as we knew, we were the only Scottish edubloggers there (although I'm sure there were others). It will be interesting to see how many there are by this year's SETT. :-) ...At least 118 more if Andrew has his way! I took my laptop to SETT last year, but didn't see anybody else using one (other than presenters showing their presentations!). I suspect things might be different this year... and I hope that they have free wi-fi access to make it easy for people to share what they're learning.

And aprt from everything else, John told me what changed him from being suspicious of technology in the classroom to the uber-geek he is today! No offence intended John. :-)

This has been a bit of a self-indulgent ramble, so I'll try to redeem myself with a couple of questions here at the end. :-)
  • How useful did people find the posts from the conference?
  • Did anyone else feel, as David Warlick did, that they learned from all the different people making posts?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,