Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fun On Friday #133: Christmas on YouTube

A late fun on Friday comprising of three seasonally appropriate YouTube videos.

First, some Blues:

And next, something for the Prog fans:

And finally, the real meaning of Christmas... at least, the real meaning as told by puppets to a tune by Queen:

Thanks to Jane Thomson for the last video and Paul Thomson (no relation?) for the Prog video.

Right. Off to wrap more presents.

Have a great Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fun On Friday #132: Christmas QR Codes

Christmas goes QR

Thanks to a Tweet from @QR_BarCode I found my way to an article on the iMedia Connection blog: All I Want for Christmas is a QR Code. It tells the story of a family in Philadelphia's Christmas decorations, which this year include a banner with a QR Code:

Scan the code and you are taken to a Christmas video and links to Christmas music, recipes, photos...

Great stuff.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fun On Friday #131: Snowball Fight

Tis the season to be jolly. Peace and goodwill to all... And snowball fights with tanks:

Annoyingly difficult.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Fun On Friday #130: Elf Yourself

Late again I know... but here's the first Fun On Friday of Advent.

It's an old favourite - Elf Yourself is back and it's bigger and better than ever. This year, I've gone for the singing option.

If you elf yourself, share a link here so we can all enjoy.

Update: Not sure how I missed this, but thanks to Daughter Number 2, here's a link to the Elf Yourself eCard maker.

Better than Elf Yourself?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fun On Friday #129: QR Code Picture

You need a facebook account if you want to play with with today's toy.

Go to the Intel Visibly Smart facebook page and create a QR Code that links to your facebook page with a picture of your choice as the background to the QR Code:
Interesting... but probably works better with some pictures than others.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun On Friday #128: Oolite

Another link from the student who directed me to ClassDojo. (And another very late Fun on Friday.)

It also links to a previous post: Fun On Friday #97: Retro Gaming because this week's fun is provided by an open source attempt to bring an Elite style game to modern machine. It is called Oolite (for Object Oriented Elite) and looks to be pretty close to the original. Elite was an awesome game with a great mixture of arcade style shooting, tactics and trading. Frustrating and elating in more or less equal measure.

Docking was always tricky, but here's a video tutorial that may help:

I have played the new version and found docking to be just as tricky and frustrating as I remember... but I am ridiculously pleased to say, I did it on my second attempt. How many goes does it take you to get your docking skills back up to speed?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fun On Friday #127: TweetPortrait

What do you give the Twitterati who has everything this Christmas? Thanks to Computing's BackBytes and How to look like a total tweet! you need wonder no more!

As BackBytes says: "...a picture made up of all the exciting things you’ve said on Twitter printed very small, making it simultaneously very profound and entirely meaningless."

Purchase your TweetPortrait at Firebox

So who will you get one for?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun On Friday #126: Star Treking

So... I love Star Trek; especially the Original Series with Kirk and Spock. And I would say that Star Trek IV: Voyage Home is in my top ten favourite movies.

Then there's Queen - a great rock band with an outstanding front man. And Bohemian Rhapsody; probably one of the greatest singles ever released.

So, iconic TV series and an iconic song. Now wouldn't it be a great idea if we could combine the two somehow? No! Of course not! It's a car crash of an idea. And yet...

If you just heard this version, you might think it was quirky or even, in the manner of the Chinese curse, "interesting" but the video! The word "bonkers" doesn't even come close to beginning to hint at the merest smidgeon of an idea of how completely and utterly deranged this video is.

And yet I was amused. The first snigger was when the cut out mouths of the paper star sign figures started singing but by the end I was just howling with laughter.

What about you? What do you make of it?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun On Friday #125: ClassDojo

Hmm! An on screen merit/demerit chart.

An on screen chart that you can update from your desktop, from your smartphone, from a tablet device...

A behaviour tool complete with colourful, cuddly avatars.

One of the PGDE students showed me this and I'm still not sure what I make of ClassDojo. Good fun but practical, useful, effective? What do you think?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Fun On Friday #124: Crazy Paper Thing

Now I must admit, I haven't tried making this yet but really, the question is "When?" rather than "If"!

If you make it before I do, take a picture and post the link here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fun On Friday #123: Dinosaur songs

Short and sweet this week. A video that Daughter Number 1 brought to my attention:

My favourite bit is where the dinosaur is stomping on the car and it's owner at the 1:12 mark - does that make me a bad person?

A flip chart pop-up book. An interesting class project?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SLF11 - Blogging In The Primary School

Brian McLaren - Clackmannan Primary School

Why is blogging useful?

Awareness of audience - lifting their eyes beyond their own classroom. (The children especially loved seeing the dots appear on the map showing where in the world visitors were coming from.) Choice and personalisation - pupil blogs reflect their own interests. Describes a learning journey - it is not just about recording an end point.

Started with class blogs. Let's parents and others see what is happening in their children's classroom. With younger classes, they used a buddy system where older children typed up what the younger ones wanted to say. The technology use is embedded in the work of the class - the posts are about real work and not stuff invented to tick an ICT task.

Each teacher has a reflective blog where they evaluate and reflect on their own blog. They do this at least once a fortnight. Shared with SMT and a partner of their choice. Leads to a rich, regular evaluation process. Teachers are fully engaged and asked for feedback on their blog posts. As part of their reflection, teachers are linking to pupil blogs as part of the evidence.

Third use of blogs was to move away from just diary entries to pupils using blogs to reflect on their own learning. They personalise the look of their blog and include links to relevant pages for the learning they are describing. They tag their own posts and choose appropriate categories. They do not just describe what they have done but they set target posts and also evaluate their work linking to evidence and peer assessment as appropriate. As well as the posts in the main area, there are pages for each of the four capacities where they link to appropriate posts. A pupil described his blog and presented what he had done very effectively. He said it made him more organised and that it was "fun". {Assessment is fun! - DM}

A pupil asked asked how teachers knew what to teach. The teacher directed him to the Experiences and outcomes on Glow. The pupil then said to the teacher that he had been given the wrong target and that he should be at level 2. {Brilliant!} S pupils now link their personal targets themselves and link them to the My Experiences and Outcomes sections. the outcomes a general but the pupils and teachers set more specific tasks.

The blogs do not just use text. They use a variety of tools including: Voki, Glogster Edu, Anymaking, Graffitimaker, Lego Minimizer, Prezi, Zooburst and they are already looking for more!

How did they start this process?

Started with a whole staff (teachers, admin, support...), whole day training event. The SMT made a commitment to allow teachers the time to do this - time spent on planning and assessment is now allocated to the blogging activities. The school make extensive use of Glow help which they find very useful. Also make extensive use of Big Buddies - the pupils offer the support, it doesn't just come from a teacher. The depute head also makes extensive use of his Personal Learning Network through Twitter.

They now have 11 class blogs, 11 teacher evaluation blogs, approximately 200 pupil blogs, a head teacher blog, the depute's blog and Eco blog (used as part of the school's evidence to get a green flag) and an RRSA blog. They have a policy governing the safe and sensible use of blogs but this document also justifies and explains why they are using blogs and why they are valuable. They have a clear progression of tasks and skills through the school.

The blogs are about communication. About reading and commenting on other people's blogs. Reading as well as writing.

It is having an impact. There are logistical difficulties about looking after 200 blogs but the impact and value is clear.

The depute's blog is:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TMSLF - Two Minute presentations

Carol Parish ClickView - sharing media clips. Searchable and sharable.

Doug Belshaw: Change MOOC and purpose/ed - purpos/ed debating the purpose of education. Conference coming up. MOOC - a Massive Open Online Course. In education, all to often we work in silos. With MOOC, every week a new educator talks about stuff. A Great place to go.

Mark Riches: National Music competition ( Next BRIT Thing ) - A competition for 11-19 year olds. Create music and upload. Music is voted on (by visitors to the site?) to create a shortlist. Panel of experts judge and best are invited to perform at various venues. All sorts of musicians and music industry people involved. Two hundred entries in the first 24 hours.

TMSLF11 - Cool Tools

Colin Maxwell - Seven cool tools in seven minutes (or 5 cool tools and a camel in the face)

1) Google Forms

Create quizzes, polls, questionnaires. Entries timestamped and easy to collate.

2) TimeGlider

Collaborate bon making interactive timelines. (Paid for service if you want multiple, i.e. Class accounts.

3) Adobe Photoshop Express

Great free online photography application.

4) Adobe Education Exchange

Lots of shared lesson plans. Not a lot of UK stuff yet. Resources can be rated and Haredim.

5) Screenr

A fantastic free screen recording tool. Works in the browser. Free version limited to five minutes. Pupils can use it to record what they do rather than writing an essay about it.

TMSLF11 - QR Codes

Joe says a great way to introduce QR Codes is to use the video from Common Craft.

Easy QR - create QR Codes on your phone on the fly. Or check out the QR Code bookmarklet.

How do we use in education? one way is to use the QR Treasure Hunt Generator. Qwikvotes is an easy way to generate a chart by people scanning a code. How to use Google Forms: A step by step guide - Grade QR Forms with a QR Code. Make a poster of Mobile Learning links. Make your classroom 4D - sticking QR Codes into text books and jitters. Use something like SnipURL to change where a code takes you, so one code that goes to constantly updated info.

TMSLF11 - Unplugd

Jen Deyenberg Unplugd Scotland

Talked about her experience going off into the wilderness of Canada with a group of educators, leaving their technology behind, and just talking about education. Topics were themed around "Why ______ Matters". For example, Why Joy Matters in Education.

You can see what they did at Unplugd Canada. Jen has set up Unplugd Scotland and invites us to join with other educators and talk about what matters.


Joe shows us a newspaper style syndication of your Tweets with

TMSLF - Jaye Richards-Hill - The Simplicity factor

What engages children? Jaye explains how a hammer can be used to teach anything. For example, smash a pot in Art and then be creative with the parts. Got to think creatively but children will have a laugh and will be engaged.

The low-tech hammer can lead to great things.

TMSLF11 - Jim McDougall

Jim McDougall - Comenius, Photography and CfE

This was good... But I failed to write anything while he talked.

TMSLF11 - John Johnston

John wants to hear from you on EduTalkr. Go there and read how to do it.

TMSLF11 - Charlie Love

CompEdNet - A Professional network of Computing and IT teachers.

Any teacher can sign up for it but someone will phone to check you are a "real person".

How do you encourage people to share? "Lurking is not a collegiate activity". CompEdNet tries to encourage participation by tracking activity, bring that you have shared or uploaded material. Helps people make connections: to share expertise, not just material.

System makes it easy to join groups with others who share your interest. Easy to contribute and easy to share.

TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson - An example of what good teachers do

TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson by DavidDMuir
TMSLF11 - Derek Robertson, a photo
by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Making use of Glow to build community and keep the work of Game Based Learning going. To grow the good practice that has already started. The Glow group is still there but they have now created a Glow CPD Community to access resources and expertise.

Consolarium has a cupboard full of stuff that can be loaned out. To get it, you make a bid but part of the bid to borrow the kit, you have to say what you will do with it and, crucially, what impact you hope it will have.

SLF 2011 - Enhancing Game Design With Blogs

Brian Clark - PT Computing, Portabello High School
{Live capture of session}

Brian Clark
Enhancing Game Design With Blogs
Brian was seconded to Consolarium and involved in a games project with a primary school. He found that teachers felt they lacked the confidence to meet the game design requirements 2-09a outcomes. {See the Technologies document for more detail - DM}. First thing he did was to direct them to the Consolarium area on Glow where there are a series of tutorials and videos. {Note: to see most of the Consolarium links here you need a Glow Login. - DM}

Decided that Scratch was best tool for the children in their primary school. once this was decided they started to build up the capacity in the teachers, to get them up to speed in building games.

What is the game design process?

First stage is character design. When you designing a game, the characters are important - not just the game play. Also, opportunities to extend beyond the game into literacy, creativity, model making, marketing. (Think of the spin offs from established games, for example, comics, movies, novels, ...) Truely Interdisciplinary work, for example, see for example:
"By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience.
LIT 2-26a"
(From the Literacy document.)

Model building and creating assets, see for example TCH 2-14a. Create music and audio effect his other outcomes e.g. EXA 3-17a, 2-18a.

Building the game. This hits Maths outcomes, e.g MNU 2-04a and scaling. At a fairly late stage, we start coding.

Games design therefore brings in a whole load of inter disciplinary tools. Many activities have to take place before you get to the game creation. Real games companies use blogs to communicate internally and as publicity. So, this project got the pupils to use Glow Blogs to log progress (The Room 11 Games Blog - Glow login required) and communicate between teams. (Again, inter-disciplinary, e.g. LIT 2-20a and 2-23a as well as TCH 2-08a) The children used the blogs very effectively to give and act on feedback. Children in the project school choose to write about their work and comment on other people's work. The pupils we getting about 6.5 comments per post! Very impressive level of engagement and useful feedback helped them improve their games.

SLF 2011 - Opening Keynote

The opening keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival was fully booked but I thought I'd try to get in anyway... Not only got in but got a seat near the front too. What follows is a live capture of my thoughts/reactions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell's keynote address.
Mike Russell
Getting ready for the keynote
"Today we are all learners"

He expressed the view that all of us are responsible for making our education system the best that it can be. Praised the dedication of teachers and expressed a desire to work with teachers to improve the life chances of young people. It is ambitious but achievable. Wants to listen and respond to the ideas from teachers on what can be done to improve education.

New National Qualifications.

Every teacher will be able to have their say. Information going into school, SQA meeting with head teachers, and a series of implementation events (one for every subject) will start in May.

{Curses! Moved away from the page to get a photo and lost a chunk of the text I'd typed. Commitment to post 16 is all I remember just now.}
"I am absolutely certain we are creating a better country and a better education system."


Paul Campell: McCormack Review - Paul questioned the decision not to reduce class sizes further. Said smaller class sizes allow for more creativity in teaching.

{How cool is it that the first question asked came from a fourth year BEd student? And was the only question to get a round of applause. Brilliant!}

Answer: Mr Russell claims to be an advocate of smaller class sizes but says that we cannot ignore the economic situation. He will listen to a range of opinion before making any decision.

Alec Wood: McCormack again - COSLA thinks the main function of teaching should be caring but McCormack disagreed.

Answer: Sat firmly on the fence!

Wendy Graham (From Australia): How do you sustain a system and support educational leaders and empowering people.

Answer: The quality of leadership is what distinguishes excellent schools. The collegiate nature of leadership is one of the strengths of Scottish education. We also need to make people keen to take on leadership roles.

Joe Boyd (Head teacher): Will there be changes to the governance of schools?

Answer: Likely to be informed by Local Authority elections

Paul McGill: How will pupils access two foreign languages in school.

Answer: It will take a number of years to achieve and they are taking advice.

Question: Cutting places in FE?

Answer: There will be enough places. There will, however, be rationalisation and there will be a push to get more for less. Will do it but it will require a creative response.

David Noble: Chartered Teacher. Will he be going into the discussion with George Street research or with McCormack?

Answer: Will take evidence from a variety of sources and have a debate.

Brian Cooklan (Head teacher): Schools have been experiencing efficiency savings and cuts for years. This has lead to a situation where there is a growing inequality between the resources available in different schools. How will this inequity be addressed? Also what about Probationers and new teachers?

Answer: We are now getting to the stage that the supply and demand of teachers are being brought into balance. As for differences between schools - he thinks it is right that we have a strong local element in the school system and would not want to move to a centralised system.

Parent: Wants reassurance about the new exam system.

Answer: He hopes there will be a proper debate and informed thinking rather than scaremongering. Revered to an article in The Scotsman where a journalists was arguing that in CfE, Scotland is doing a good thing. {This article perhaps? - DM}

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun On Friday #122: Stop Motion Squared!

If you are looking for something to do over the next couple of weekends, why not try something like this:

Hmmm... On second thoughts, it might take you more than a couple of weekends!

What I like about it is the way there is an animation within the animation - the people holding the pictures move about and the pictures they are holding are themselves like a flickbook animation. Brilliant.

And while we are on the subject of clever animation, have you seen the Ultimate Dog Tease?

It's extraordinarily well done, yes? I assume they use something like CrazyTalk but for video.

Have you come across any quirky animations? If you have, leave a comment pointing me in their direction.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun On Friday #121: Life imitating art...

I am knd of surprised that I haven't featured xkcd here before as it is one of my favourite comic strips. It has a strong tech/nerd bias but it also deals with romance, relationships and some frankly odd hobbies.

And talking of odd hobbies, what about this:

Rollercoaster chess

Brilliant idea and typical of the sideways look at the world taken by the comic.

Now, when I see a comic that I like, I might bookmark it, or send a link to friends, but the followers of xkcd went that extra mile. They brought the comic to life as can be seen on the Chesscoaster page. I especially like the picture about a third of the way down the page where are playing Jenga!

Have you ever recreated a picture or a comic? Remember to share it here if you have.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Re: PGDE Students - Thanks!

I asked for help with a PGDE lecture (see New Session, New Students... Old Question!) and got loads of great responses here on the blog, on facebook, Twitter and Google Plus! It was really helpful. This year's lecture was re-built from the ground up, and hopefully improved, as a result of the input. Thank you.

PGDE @ Jordanhill Class of 2011/12
Photo by DavidDMuir
I hope it is OK to ask for your help again. As I have done in the past, I invited the students to text or email questions and comments during the lecture. Their texts and emails are automagically posted to an blog imaginatively titled PGDE Blog. I referred to this blog a couple of times during the lecture and dealt with some of the issues raised as we went along. I have now responded to every comment online but I would value comments from the wider educational community on some of their posts.

There was the usual crop of playful messages (well, perhaps slightly more than usual) but could I ask you to look at and comment on the following:

  1. Using Phones in class.
  2. Phones in class are distracting.
  3. The Digital Divide.
  4. Using QR Codes in education.
Thanks in advance

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fun On Friday #120: Toontastic

What we did on our holidays - by Daughter Number 2. (It's a bit slow to load at first but stick with it!):

Brilliant, isn't it.?

Created in Toontastic - possibly my favourite iPad App at the moment. You move the puppets, you speak, you make a movie. Excellent! Daughter Number 2 drew her own puppets but there are loads of great pre-drawn models, with moveable limbs. (For example, see Pirates.)

When you tap the button to create a story, the App suggests you make five scenes:
  1. Setup;
  2. Conflict;
  3. Challenge;
  4. Climax;
  5. Resolution.
Some great teaching points there even before you start but all wrapped up in a bundle of the best fun ever!

Do you have any examples of classes using this app? How did you use it and what did the pupils make of it?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Session, New Students... Old Question!

I've asked variations of this question before (see ICT: Tell me everything I need to know!, What did they need to know? and Initial Teacher Education and BectaX) but with 550-ish new students starting a PGDE course next week, and with the ever changing nature of technology, it seems it's time to ask it again:
What should I do in a one hour lecture to get new student teachers excited and enthusiastic about ICT in education?
277/366: Drag and drop by DavidDMuir
277/366: Drag and drop, a photo by
DavidDMuir on Flickr.
My question is, essentially, how do I avoid this? -->

To set the context, I get one hour to talk to students about ICT in the first week of their PGDE course. This will not be the only thing they hear about ICT during the year, but it might be the first thing they hear and it will be the only time I have the opportunity to see the whole cohort at the same time. Roughly one third of them will be primary students and the rest will be secondary students covering just about every secondary school subject.

So, what do I do? What do I say? What could I get the students to do? How can I get such a large group, with different experiences, different interests and different levels of competence, interested and enthusiastic about ICT in Education?

Looking forward to seeing your suggestions.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fun On Friday #119: Webify Me

I downloaded and installed the latest version of Firefox and followed a link to their Webify Me page. It claims to let you...
See your Internet as a custom collage.
Here's a picture of my collage:

You can click on the graphic to see an interactive version that explains what all the different parts represent. To be honest, I think it's more than a little off in places. Specifically, it has me down as a "Gear Head" as represented by a car magazine! Nah! Not even close.

Have a go yourself, post a link in a comment and let me know how close you think it got to you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

facebook for data collection

Back after a long gap with a post prompted by a conversation with Daughter Number 2, who said that a friend of hers had recently set up a facebook event that wasn't an event...

The idea was that, instead of describing an event, her friend asked a question. Then, people could respond to the question by selecting one of the three attendance options available in facebook events. For example, you could make a statement, such as "School Computing helps prepare pupils for real world computing uses.", and map the responses as follows:
Attending --> Agree
Maybe --> Not sure
No --> Disagree
Obviously, you can substitute any question/statement you like and define whatever mapping for the answers suits your purpose. As long as you are content with only three responses, this looks like a quick and dirty way to collect data. Here's one I made earlier:

I thought this was interesting. It uses a technology with which students are already familiar (arguably "addicted to" in the case of my daughters) and so requires no special logins or hurdles to jump through for the participants. Also, it is easy to use existing friends and contact groups to restrict who can see and respond to your question. Finally, because you have to choose a date for the event, you automatically have a deadline by which the responses have to be made.

It is not entirely satisfactory, however, because you cannot change the response buttons, so you have to explain the mapping to potential respondents and there is no way to export the responses for further analysis. Therefore, I had a quick look to see how else it could be done and found that there is a facebook poll app that allows you to create your own response options. It draws a decent graph and can export the results to Excel. Also, if you are willing to pay, you can get other useful features.

Clearly, neither solution is as flexible as dedicated poll/questionnaire tools such as SurveyMonkey and Poll Everywhere but I think that doing everything in facebook is an interesting approach. I especially like the way you can take something created for one purpose (event management) and subvert it for an alternative use (data collection).

Have a go at my event poll and my facebook poll and then let me know what you think. Would you use either method, or is it just a daft idea?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lateral Promotion

I should probably have kept this for a fun on Friday...

Reminds me of something, but I can't think what.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fun On Friday #118: Happiness Is A Warm Electro-magnet

It's art. It's science and technology. It's happiness.

F5 2011 RE:PLAY Film Festival. Inductance from Physalia Studio on Vimeo.

I would love to know more about this project. For example, what did they put inside the plastic balls?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Work station?

To borrow an advert from Rock Radio, "If a train station is where trains stop, and a bus station is where busses stop, what happens at a work station?"

The coming session is set to be our last on the Jordanhill Campus here at Strathclyde. While I see the advantages of a single campus university and while I look forward to new facilities in the City Centre campus, I must admit to some sadness when I think of the loss of the Jordanhill campus and all the history associated with it. (My personal history as well as institutional and educational history.) That, however, is a topic for a future post. This post is about work stations - hence the introductory paragraph.

Today, I had a look at samples of the furniture proposed for the new office space. The only piece I have strong feelings about is the stool pictured here as I found it surprisingly uncomfortable. Therefore, I was going to send a, "Not really fussed", message to the people asking for opinions. But before I sent the message, I decided to clear some of my email backlog... and I'm glad I did because I read message from Terry Freedman's Computers in Classrooms newsletter - specifically the June edition.

There are a number of interesting articles in the newsletter (as always) but two in particular caught my eye and connected to what I had just been doing. The first was "Building a thinking room" in the news section. This article led to a piece of the same name in the Wall Street Journal which talked about research into the effect of things like colour, light and space on peoples' creativity and their well-being. Given that we are moving into open plan staff accommodation on the city centre campus, I was especially struck by Terry's comment which I will quote at length:
It reminds me of when I visited Pearsons publishing a year or so ago. Our guide said, “Let me show you our ideas room”. This turned out to be a plain room with white walls and white comfy furniture and, if my memory serves me well, a single painting on the wall. Very relaxing, and certainly a far cry from the sort of open plan, manically active spaces that seem to be de rigeur these days. I asked a proponent of such areas how the kids and teachers cope with the noise from other areas. He replied, “Oh, they get used to it.”

No, they don’t. And even if they do, why should they have to?

Spaces should be designed according to the purpose for which they’re intended to be used. Vast open plan areas are great when you’re running an activity that involves students working in groups and then coming together or interacting with other groups. They are hopeless for housing different classes working completely separately from each other.
Part of the rationale for moving to open plan is that it will encourage collaboration but I wonder what proportion of our time as academics is taken up with, "working completely separately from each other..." Perhaps that proportion needs to change. If I am to up my research profile, I probably need to work more with others and by myself less. Perhaps a new layout and new office space will help me do that. But I wonder if I will become more or less effective when I do have to work on my own?

The second section of Terry's newsletter that connected with what I had just done, was "Youngsters designing learning spaces" in the "Quick Looks" section. It linked to a report from RM on a competition for schools to design their ideal learning spaces. The winners and further details can be found on the RM site and a report in the TES gives a good summary. Two things struck me. The first one picks up Terry's comment above as the TES notes: "Perhaps surprisingly, controlling noise was important to many pupils, and sound-proofing the room was suggested in many cases." I suspect that it is not just about having somewhere quite to go and think (interesting that the iPod generation sees the value in this) but also about having somewhere they can make noise without disturbing others. I was also struck by the pupil's understanding (at least at some level) of the importance of colour and comfort in a learning environment.

The end result is that having read Terry's newsletter, I'm going to go back down to the room with the furniture, I'm going to look at it, I'm going to use it, I'm going to think about colour... and then, I'm going to write what will hopefully be a more considered response on what furniture and colours I'd prefer in the re-furbished accommodation on the city centre campus.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Fun On Friday #117: I Can't Think Of Any Jokes

A song that is really just an excuse to tell a whole pile of jokes:

As Blindingham (AKA Alfred Williams - the performer and, I assume composer) says, "'Never mind the quality, feel the width' was very much my guiding principle with this one." I really like this approach: collect a whole pile of jokes and then sing them. Brilliant! (It's a technique I've used myself, for example, I once wrote a sketch for Sunday School which was really just an excuse to tell a whole load of "Doctor, doctor" jokes.) I like the out-takes at the end of the video too: "Too many words and not enough notes!"

Sad nerd that I am, I had a go at transcribing the lyrics. I think I got most of it but was completely stumped by the second last joke; anyone want to offer a suggestion?

At the end of the video, Mr Williams says that he'd better stop for everyone's sake. I beg to differ. I'd have been quite happy for him to keep going, for example he could have told the one about the blunt pencil, but I suppose it would have been pointless. If you can't help with the missing lyric, perhaps you could suggest further additions to the song.

{This is a partial cross-post from Feedback, my music blog. If you are interested in downloading the track, the Feedback blog shows you where to get it!}

{P.S. Thanks to the Mitch Benn Podcast for brining this track to my attention.}

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fun On Friday #116: Street Art

I've posted about graffiti before (Fun On Friday #109: Reverse Graffiti) and about street art (sort of, with the photo in Fun on Friday #28: More Optical Illusions) but here's a link to an artist who literally puts his art on the street: Roadsworth.

plug by nomsaleena
plug, a photo by nomsaleena on Flickr.
I especially like the one of the zebra crossing that he's turned into a giant footprint and the plug hole one shown here

He is coming to Scotland and will be doing some art near Glasgow, so hopefully I'll get a chance to see his work first hand.

What do you think of Roadsworth's art?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fun On Friday #115: Stovies

Dustin Hoffman extols the virtues of stovies:

And ice cream for pudding!

SICTDG: LTS Wireless Networking Group

Live capture of discussion at SICTDG Meeting Stirling, Friday 3 June

Report of meeting where there was a divide between educationalists and those in charge of infrastructure. Educationalists were making a good case but technologists were asking things like, "Why do we need wifi?". Some people who attended we saddened by the resistance felt by educationalists. Attitude should be what do you need and how can we provide it but the feeling is that it still works at the level of what they are willing to provide and they see wifi as carrying a high risk. Corporate still do not understand the educational rational for pupil owned mobile devices connecting to educational wifi. Of course, they have to protect the network but they should also be providing a service. We need to articulate clearly therefore why education needs this. In general, we need to explain what education needs from emerging technologies.

The future will almost certainly rely on personal mobile devices, probably one per pupil. This means wifi networks will have to be robust enough to cope with thousands of devices accessing the network. Technology will be (is already) embedded in learning.

One authority described how they were approaching this problem. In a school, it was suggested, there should be a secure network for admin computers. There is then a separate network (possibly a virtual separation) where educational networking activities can take place. Problem is of course where teachers need access to both for different activities. The are other difficulties, for example, they were told that access to corporate mail has to take place on campus, i.e. home access isn't allowed. There is also a problem with some subjects that make heavy use of storage (e.g. Art, CDT etc.) but the problem is it can only be accessed in school. Therefore, looking at possibility of moving this storage out of school and onto the cloud somehow. Then there will be a group of Internet only machines. {Not sure of the rationale - is it to minimise virus problems by preventing application installation? - DM} There will be a couple more layers for wifi access - one for school owned devices and a second for teacher/pupil owned devices.

More than one authority is acknowledging that realistically, they do not have the budget to provide all the required technology and that the future will therefore have to include pupil/teacher devices. This has social inclusion applications and of course security implications. Is it possible to use Glow for authentication and storage? This worries IT security people. The feeling though is that corporate IT are using security worries to prevent and stifle development rather than working with education to see how it can be made to work. Disappointment was expressed at the level of resistance and level of incomprehension as to why education want to use wifi and mobile devices in the first place.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fun On Friday #114: Animation

Now I know this is late but I couldn't have posted this on Friday because I only got the Dundee Degree Show 2011 (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design) on Saturday.

There was a lot of good stuff at the Degree Show this year and the usual collection of odd stuff but it was mostly mostly impressive. (As an example of the odd, at one point I looked out a window and saw a hole in the ground surrounded traffic cones. I wondered if it was art or just a hole in the ground. Anyone want to guess which it was?) As before though, I really liked the animation work. The animations are short and the ideas could sometimes do with a bit more work but the art and animation is of a very high standard!

There is a website which groups all the animations together, the Animation 2011 site, and you can not only watch the videos there but there are also links to the production blogs for the projects (I assume these were part of the assessment?) and often links to the students' own websites. Some of the animations are also posted on YouTube which means I can display one of them here:

Across the films there is a mixture of hand drawn and computer animation techniques but it was interesting to see the sketches and life drawings at the exhibition that showed where the work came from and how the ideas came to life.

What do you think of these films and what's your favourite animation?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fun On Friday #113: Cup Of Brown Joy

An extraordinarily late Fun On Friday again and one that's slightly self indulgent since I was originally just going to send this to Daughter Number 1. I hope, however, that this rap from Professor Elemental on the joy of tea will appeal to some of you:

If you enjoyed that, there is a Professor Elemental website where you can access more in the same vein as well as details on how to purchase polyphonic recordings of his material. Or you could head to YouTube where you'll find many more videos including Fighting Trousers, which is Professor Elemental's dis tune aimed at Chap Hop practitioner Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer.

And talking of Mr B, why not try Straight Out Of Surrey:

What do you think of steampunk rap Or chap hop? It has opened a whole new world of musical fun for me!
P.S. I should say thank you to Mitch Benn and his wonderful comedy music podcast for introducing me to Professor Elemental and to Dave Major, a chap I met at the Apple Distinguished Educators' conference for telling me about Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun On Friday #112: Rush

I'm going to see Rush in concert at the SECC tonight, so a couple of fun Rush videos seemed appropriate.

First up some unseasonal advice from Geddy:

Next, Rush meet Rock Band:

I love that I read an interview where Neil claimed that he was doing the right drum part and that it is the game that was wrong!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

ADE Sharing our passions

What are you passionate about? Let me rephrase that... What are you passionate about... in an educational context?

This was the question we were asked to respond to at the start of this afternoon's session. We were asked to write down on a slip of paper the one thing we we most passionate about. The end point we were aiming for was to form groups around things we were passionate about. I thought the way we arrived at that point was interesting:

1) Write down what you are passionate about.
2) Swap your slip of paper with someone else.
3) Get up, move around the room and when told find a partner to talk to.
4) Swap the slip with this partner and then between the two of you, assign a score to each idea. You have seven points to share between the two ideas, so as a pair, you might give one idea a six and the other a one. or if they are more similar, give a three and a four. Write the score on the back of the idea.
5) Move again, find a new partner again, swap slips again. Decide how to distribute the seven points again.
6) Do this five times, so you will have seen five different ideas and assigned five different points.
7) Add up the scores on the back and the most popular ideas will have the highest scores.
8) Take the top ideas and form groups around them.

Interesting way of forming groups... At least I thought it was interesting!

ADE Workshop

Finding out about iPad apps. These were recommended by educators in the room.

iMotionHD : Let's you create and share time-lapse movies. Great for science.

TelePrompt+ : Teleprompt utility.

Popplet (or iThoughts) : Kind of a memory map utility.

RAG : Random Activity Generaltor from John Davitt. Look for LEG online too

Museum of London Street Museum : GPS location used to deliver history info s you walk round London.

IFiles : Getting photos on and off iPhones and iPod Touches through desktops. (Alternative solution was described which involved putting stuff on a shared drive.)

Bambuser : You can stream live video onto the web.

EasyChinese : Flash card type app. Easy of use is outstanding.

Epic Citadel : Graphic adventure. Used as stimulus for other work. screenshots taken of the game and brought into Popplet. Great stimulus for writing - especially the boys. Also can use green screen to put children into the scenes.

GarageBand and Voice Memo : Record feedback to pupils and sent by email to pupils. Also links to QR Code of the recordings that are linked to particular spaces.

Photo sync : send photos wirelessly from iPhone to iPad or other iPhones.

Neu.annotate : Write on top of PDF files and then email it back And it's free!

GB Road Atlas : A big map! Also free

Proloqo2Go : Text to speech app

Audioboo : Fantasticly easy way to share audio.

Color : Like Twitter for photos

Thumb jam : easy way to produce music.

Six strings and OM Guitar ... But they have kind of been replaced by GarageBand!

Seline HD : A futuristic music interface. Select a drone and then play music on top of it. Can export music.

Percussive : Good samples of various percussion instruments.

Wella apps from the Wella website : Great for the science side of hairdressing.

Puppet pals : allows people to practice speaking for example speaking on phone or role play.

ABC Pocket Phonics and ABC Tracer : Writing apps.

ADE Challenge Based Learning

Everyone is a learner.

The importance of creativity. The tools are out there to allow people to capture stuff. Learners need a studio to work with the stuff the capture. finally they need a display space. This used to be the fridge - child brings work from home and it is stuck on the fridge with a magnet. In digital age, that display place is online - Facebook, YouTube, ... What's interesting is that these display areas are (often) social and so the creators can get feedback and suggestions from the community.

The classroom of tomorrow today: Six Design Principles

1) 21st Century Outcomes
2) Relevant and Applied Curriculum
3) Informative Assessment
4) Culture of Creativity and Innovation
5) Social and Emotional Connection
6) 24/7 Access to Learning Tools

Students dropped out of high schools were asked why they dropped out. Number one answer was not that they were bored but rather that nobody cared about them - nobody in school or at home.

Challenge Based Learning

Starts with a big idea - global in scope. Example given was Resilience. Start with an essential question, building on resilience the question was how can we better support each other? Narrowed again to produce a single, actionable challenge, e.g. help a community recover from a disaster? A set of guiding questions are then produced that guide the learning process. Then guiding activities (stuff I missed) and Implementation followed by Reflection.

{Curses - I had a lot more on this but it seems to have been swallowed and lost by the painfully slow wifi here!}

ADE Accessibility

Apple are proud of their accessibility features. In particular that the same features work across the range (e.g. The same gestures used on a trackpad work on the iPhone).

Many of the accessibility features are useful beyond the accessibility audience, for example the screen Zoom option is great for presentations and because it can zoom right down to pixel level, it is interesting for Computing/Art/... Voice Command is also worth playing with (we were encouraged to use the undocumented tell a joke feature!).

The Voice Over feature is something they are pleased with. A fully featured screen reader which describes everything on the screen. The speed of the voice can be increased and still it is intelligible. Useful also for some other types of learning difficulties. Braille keyboards can be hooked up (with no additional hardware or drivers needed - it is built-in to the OS and it is free). Up to 32 keyboards can be hooked to a single device so a teacher can communicate with a whole class of pupils at the same time.

Also talked about Proloquo2Go where an app replaces the need for an expensive text to speech device.

Two websites where you can get extra information and email support: special education and accessibility.


(Live capture of presentation)

European Council of International Schools

The ECIS launched an iTunesU presence on the 16th of April this year. The target audience is both learning materials for pupils and professional development material for teachers. For example, a Maths teacher has produced video/animated answers for International Baccalaureate past papers with audio explanation. As well as giving the answers, they also showed pupils how to check they had the right answer.

As a result, they have flipped the class. It used to be that the teacher would do the theory at the start of the lesson and set the pupils to practice for homework. Now the homework is to access the podcast with the theory as homework and then do the practice in class. This means the teachers spend a lot more time with working with the pupils.

Because iTunesU is self policing, people do check the content and errors are corrected. There is now a ratings and comments mechanism and people do leave comments.

Friday, May 06, 2011

ADE: Creativity And Technology

Katie and Nathan from Flitch Green

Creativity and Technology at the heart of learning. Everyone is a learner. The whole community is involved and collaboration is the key. When the pupils heard Katie and Nathan were coming to speak to the ADE Institute, they decided to create a movie to show us what learning in the school is like.

They also showed us some of the creative responses they've had to open ended homework. They also have a daily challenge time where they can choose a challenge to tackle, who they will work with, and how often they try each challenge. They don't want children to be constrained by age or anything else. An example of a whole school task was to make a film where questions about fractions are answered through the medium of dance (I think!). Example was children learning about fractions by counting the beats in their song.

ADE - 1:1 Learning with iPad

Cedar School of Excellence

Talked about the impact of every child being given an iPad. Showed the iPad band that performed at Christmas nativity. They have the potential to plug up to 50 iPads into the sound system with virtual iPad instruments.

They thought deploying the technology would be the end of the story but realised the pedagogy, technology and the curriculum all have to work together and feed off each other.

It is a small school and Fraser described how the demand for IT equipment was outstripping the supply. They initially thought they might get laptops but they had concern about battery life and charging issues. When they heard about the iPad, they realised that was the technology they wanted.

Deployment: they gave iPads to teachers in May and let them play with them until August. They were given credit to spend in the Apps Store so that the apps we chosen by the teachers not imposed by IT department.

"Use the iPad everywhere it is appropriate and nowhere it is inappropriate."

Easy mobility leads to easy collaboration. It takes away the hurdles placed in the way of accessing technology, such as going to a special room and leads to "Casual Computing".

Another great example was a piece of writing produced by a dyslexic child. It was full of spelling mistakes but was fairly solid. She recorded her self speaking it over a soundtrack and it was a very moving and powerful piece of work.

Moved onto examples of of use in art. Brushes app: Digital art gives pupils a big undo button which encourages experimentation and creates confidence. This confidence seems to transfer into traditional art mediums. The success in the digital world makes them realise they can do it and therefore try harder with traditional media.

ArtRage app: Simulates real art materials, e.g. Use tubes of paint and pallet knives or pencil work.

Type drawing: creating pictures with lines of text.

Also talked about Mashups, Flowpaper and ASketch. Described how quickly the pupils take to the apps.

Also used for drawing support, for example using the iPad as a light box to draw from (without associated printing costs). Also can trace over an image then delete the original to see the shapes. Also, Art Grid allows grids to be super imposed on an image (square grids or rectangular to supportbdistortion). Can play an animation of image as it is built up stage by stage which the teacher can then talk through the process.

Sketchbook apps - Moodboard and Moxier Collage. The teacher had to limit home much work they handed it! Teacher also used it to support field trip - she put images from an exhibition on Moodboard and challenged them to find the work and add four bits of information about the piece.

Image manipulation to generate ideas. For example take a photo of a pupils work and then render it in pastel, or reverse the colours, or do it as pop art, or... Can easily explo Issas in a very short time, for example, photograph their work and try different backgrounds.

Critical Studies, e.g. Art Authority and Art Puzzle HD. Gives access ton a huge range of images by loads of artists. They can magnify, check clarity, range, colour... They can arrange an artist's work in chronological order and see how they have developed.

ADE Inspirational Stories

Abdul Choham

The future is not what it used to be...

ESSA Academy had a very poor reputation and was on the verge of being closed down. Most of the pupils come from very poor areas - some of the most deprived areas in the country.

A new Principal was appointed and had the approach that "All will succeed". He wanted all pupils to leave with at least five good passes and that they would be prepared for the future. A number of changes we made. one was, they would move away from being a school where children are batch processed according to date of manufacture. Wanted to move from school to learner. Education is not "done to" the pupils but "done with". They wanted to move from organisation to response.

One of the first things they did was get an iPod Touch for every pupil. At first this was viewed with suspicion. People thought they were trying to bribe children into attending. One of the key things they did was engage with parents. They showed them what the devices could actually do. This had a major impact in the community.

There were things he expected and things he didn't. He was not prepared for the Creativity that the devices generated. He was thinking about the networking problems and the support infrastructure. The pupils took them and used them creatively from the off. For example Business Studies students trading on eBay and making a profit. Another boy, who couldn't speak English created flashcards on the iPod by searching Google in his native tongue for images, e.g. image for toilet, for dinner time, for pen... The pictures aloud him to communicate with the teachers and to learn the English for the pictures he found. Other children saw what he was doing and started doing the same thing with their language. The school subscribed to GCSE podcasts which were well used by students.

Staff did not all take to it so easily but are using it for admin (e.g. accessing Student Information Management systems) as well as teaching. In a sense, not doing anything they couldn't do with laptop/desktop but the ease of access, the always on nature, means that they can get straight to the required function without any fuss.

Even the ease of email means that pupils not only asked questions or raised problems but might just send a "Thank you".

They ditched their VLE and used the email, Edmodo (for bulletin boards), Dropbox to share documents and AirPlay to share video.

The costs are thought to be about 18p per day per student. Savings were made on folders, printing, paper. For example before iPod Touch - over 1,000,000 pieces of paper were printed. In the first year of iPods, this was halved. Huge increase in attainment. Now 99% got five Grades A*-C.

ADE Learning With Apple

Innovation in Education. (Live capture of address)

The learning comes first, the technology is just the tool. Students in education today must be prepared for the world stage. Not just teaching about technology but rather how technology can help us to learn.

Evolution of education. If the question can be answered by Google, perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Engagement becomes the key. As an educator, I have to become a "master learner".
"...if we teach today as we were taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." Dewey (Possibly paraphrased!)

Collaboration is a positive thing. Successful universities don't just have researchers that collaborate with two or three others in the same institution but with researchers in other institutions around the world.

Mobile Learning. "Children can be searched for knives, drugs and mobile phones!" Governments are keen on saving cost and they think eBooks is a way to do this. Typically though, where the eBook is just a PDF of a paper book, all that happens is that the cost of printing is shifted to the end user!

Mobile solutions has an impact not just on the IT budget but can save money elsewhere and can have a positive effect on the learning environment in ways that are not obvious. For example, by reducing the weight of children's backpacks!

Content is key. See for example iTunesU, Khan Academy, apps, ... Talked about the interactive Narnia book as being an example of a Bronze Age app but points to the possibility of a Golden age to come.

Transforming classrooms. Industrial age classrooms were education for the masses. Being transformed to personalised learning and from isolated to connected.

ADE Institute: Opening Sessions


The ADE Institute is an opportunity to meet people from eight different countries who are motivated, excited and knowledgeable. We are encouraged to share our projects and look for opportunities to work with others.

There will be opportunities to hear success stories and to work with others.

What is an ADE? They are advisors, authors, ambassadors and advocates.

Trusted Advisors: often in an institution, you are the person people come to for hop and advice.
Authentic Authors: creating and sharing materials. sharing not just with the ADE community but with the world through blogs, the web, iTunesU, whatever...
Global Ambassadors:
Passionate Advocates: know thhe power of the technology and we should nurture creativity.

We will be working in groups and producing things during the institute but we will continue to maintain contact and take the programme home with us.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fun On Friday #111: Viral Videos

Last week, the Times published an article that it billed as "The 40 Best Viral Videos". Number 1 was David after dentist which has been seen umpteen million times but didn't do it for me. Next was Battle At Kruger which was a sort of amateur Wildlife On One style video of a square go between a herd of buffalos and a pride of lions which is more interesting in a car crash kind of a way.

Number three though was Human Tetris - now that's more like it:

Brilliant, and if you want to see more of the same, head over to Game Over. Stop motion animation on steroids!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fun On Friday #110: Easter

For many people, Easter means chocolate... So for them, here's a recipe for Creme Egg pancakes!

If you want to go beyond chocolate and bunnies, you could always try these four Easter related animations:

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STEC: Professor Graham Donaldson - Teaching Scotland's Future

Keynote address – Professor Graham Donaldson, Leader of the Review of Teacher Education: “Teaching Scotland's Future”
(Abstract available here)

The title of Donaldson's keynote and the Review, look forward. it is not a consideration of how to fix a broken system but rather looking forward how we can prepare teachers entering the profession this year who are likely still to be teaching in 2060. We don't know what schools and education will look like then but we can be sure there will be change.

Was the sixties a "Golden Age" for teaching. Donaldson thinks not. He remembers it as a time, certainly in secondary, where the curriculum was defined and dictated by the examination board and educational publishers. What has changed is that education is now one of the major policy areas of interest to government. It is not going to happen (at least not in the near future) that government will step back and leave the profession to get on with it themselves. And note, this is not just a policy of interest in this country but it is internationally important (see for example the impact of PISA.

Curriculum for Excellence is the policy response to the issues raised above (and others). It sets out a broad, 21st century education, it aims to promote deep learning and high standards and it seeks to address underachievement particularly in basic skills. Donaldson said Curriculum for Excellence is "a new paradigm of governance and change".

We should not be afraid of complexity and Donaldson thinks that "by and large" the teaching profession is up for this. Teaching should be recognised as complex and challenging. This highlights that at the heart of the process, there should be a recognition of career-long teacher education; not to see initial teacher education as separate from other aspects of teacher education. The Donaldson review recognises teachers as expert practitioners who take responsibility for their own development.

Intended results of the review: reinvigoration of professionalism; rigorous selection of students applying to enter teacher education; concurrent undergraduate degrees that are both vocationally and academically challenging; and is aligned to the assessment of students' progress (example was given that students still see the tutor visit as the all that matters). Donaldson has just argued that part of the reason colleges of education were brought into the university system was to create a wider context to expose students and staff to more than a narrow preparation for teaching.

Donaldson says, "we are not making optimum use of ICT for professional learning." He talked about the "Dead time wasted by tutors googling up and down the country visiting schools" which could be redeemed by smart use of technology. {I think that was the implication but I remain unconvinced! - DDM.}

Teacher educators should be directly engaged with practice - theory/research/practice are not separate. There should be a culture where Masters-level study is the norm. "A lot of what we do in CPD is not challenging" that it is in some cases "insulting". The test of the success of CPD should be the impact on learning. {As an aside, should this be the test for educational research at university level? What impact has it or will it have on learning? - DDM} Theory matters but it is integral not complimentary to practice.

Professional standards are about coherence, challenge and growth. Donaldson is "suspicious of good practice." He is more interested in "good problems" what conditions led the practitioner to develop that 'good' practice? We need exciting and excited teachers.

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator" - Francis Bacon

Technology and Change

Seminar - Technology and Change: Conceptualising The Struggles Of 'New Professionals'
Dr Alison Hudson, University of Dundee

Talking about research on the impact on "new" technology on policy, practice and professionalism. Technological innovation is not new and it does have an impact on policy and practice. Dr Hudson is particularly interested in professional autobiography as a method for researching development. Among other things the session will consider characteristics that govern our work as educators.

Lengthy consideration of what is meant by "profession" and "professionalism". Bourdieu talks about the contribution of the individual to the field of education, their own disposition (habitus) and capital (what we do, what we know and how it is valued).

We were asked to consider why we chose to become educators. What we our motivations? Inspired by own experiences? Desired to share experience/knowledge?

It was suggested that initially, technology was used by enthusiasts but that there was a shift and technology was used to control, for example using bit to measure and record performance (e.g. How many people are using the VLE). See the book: "Technology And Change".

STEC Annual Conference: Teaching As A Moral Practice

Just arrived at the Stirling Management Centre for a day conference. It is the annual Scottish Teacher Education Committee conference and the Title of the conference is Towards A New Professionalism.

The keynote is from Professor Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling
“Teaching as Moral Practice: Towards Bold, Rude and Risky Professionalism”. Abstract available here.

Bold: The courage to do what's right
Rude: To interrupt and challenge
Risky: To take chances, to allow improvement

The question is not how to train the individual professional, it is how to create a system that is supports the profession to be bold, rude and risky. Loads of challenges. For example blurring of boundaries - who is responsible for educating our children? Inequality - the gaps are widening. Migration - people are much more mobile.

In Scotland, in 2009-10 only 16.1% (not sure about the figure after the point) but where do the rest go? Many are still working in education but not in schools.

What knowledge is important? What are the top ten hits on Google? What are the top ten hits for teacher education?

Where is education in all this complexity and world change? Very Knowledge is contained in textbooks and can be weighed and measured. "The maps they gave us are outdated by years" {from a poem but didn't catch the poet and may have misquoted}.

What images do our bright young teachers have as their role.

Teacher as:
Hero rescuer
Healing nurturer

The problem is the views are static and restricted. We should not ask how we define and constrain professionalism but how professionalism is being used. We have seen a move from definitions of knowledge generated in then profession to standards imposed and audited by external bodies. A move from trust to distrust. Are teachers in a state of learned helplessness.

Should we instead see teachers in a web of collective solidarity. Do we really want to see teacher education as a way to recreate what we have already decided is a professional teacher?

Teaching as engaging with difference, inventing with new registers of practice (teaching as a means of uncovering what is there rather than simply covering the syllabus). Teaching is acting in spaces of undecidability - juggling multiplicity. Important not just to have teachers that are bold, rude and risky but a profession that is bold, rude and risky!

Move from a system that moves from telling teachers what to do and what to be but instead move to creating teachers that are willing and able to take a leap into the unknown.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fun On Friday #109: Reverse Graffiti

Not so much a Fun on Friday, more a Weekend Wonder?

People complain that graffiti is ugly and destructive. This is different. Here is an artist that took something ugly and created beauty:

And what a sad ending!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Fun On Friday #108: Classical Nerd

On holiday, out of routine, late as usual.

This looks (and sounds) genuine and really appeals to my inner nerd:

Hopefully, normal EdCompBlog service will be resumed soon.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Fun On Friday #107: I'm A Star

Just over a year ago, I featured an advertising video which incorporated a user uploaded photograph (see Fun on Friday #62: Swedish Advert). Unfortunately, the video no longer works but the same people have produced a new tool that creates a video with sound and moving images recorded through your webcam.

The verbal instructions are in Swedish (I assume) but the lyrics are in English, so it is fairly obvious what you have to do to produce something like this:

As far as I can see, there's no way to embed the video but you should be able to see it by clicking on the graphic. I am impressed by the technology behind this although it is slightly embarrassing to have to sing "I'm a star" best in the world etc. What do you think?

Oh... and you can create your own version, and if you do, share the link here!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fun On Friday #106: Wedding Video

I know this feature is called "Fun On Friday" but it can't always be frenetic and crazy. Sometimes you have to be able to sit in a deck chair and look at the scenery:

I've featured a lip dub video in Fun On Friday before (Fun on Friday #58: Lip Dub) but I think this wedding one is special. Other lip dubs feature students who have the time and the deranged inclination to do this kind of thing (e.g. LIPDUB - I Gotta Feeling) or one or two people who can practice in the comfort of their own bedrooms. But for this wedding video, the organisers somehow convinced the entire wedding party to join in. Everyone - including the embarrassing uncle, the batty aunt, the cute nephews, and even granny! (I especially like the "Faster than the speed of light..." chap's performance. I'm guessing he's an uncle.)

Do you know of any other examples of lip dub that have come from a surprising source?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fun On Friday #105: You Don't Bring Me Flowers

I was in two minds about this video. I thought it probably should feature in my music blog but it is so enjoyable, I thought it was perfect for a Fun On Friday too. In the end, Fun On Friday won!

Thanks to QI Elves for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More about the SCILT event

First an apology - I didn't do a Fun On Friday last week. Sorry! No excuse other than tiredness and stupidity.

This is a follow up post to Listen, Speak, Read, Write, Web! On Saturday morning, I took part in a flurry of Twitter messages about this SCILT event. As a result, I received the following from John Johnston:

I have mentioned EDUtalk before. It is a stunningly brilliant idea and so easy to use but I seem to forget to record audio on a regular basis or I record audio but don't get around to posting it. On Saturday, however, I managed to do both and posted the recording to EDUtalk.

And just because I can, I'll cross-post it here too. It's about time I got back to podcasting!

Would you like to hear more podcasts? If so, what sort of things would you like to hear?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SCILT Event - Listen, Speak, Read, Write, Web!

Joe Dale talking to Primary and Secondary teachers about enhancing creativity and raising standards using ICT. Some great ideas using free software and free web services (such as Voki).

Some simple, but very powerful, ideas. If the pupils in the participants' schools get half as engaged and excited by the activities as the teachers at this course, there will be a load of excited and engaged pupils in Modern Language classes over the next few weeks!

For example, one of the simple ideas involved using Audacity (other audio editors are available!) to record pupils speaking in the target language. Joe showed how the teacher could model a short phrase and get the pupil to repeat it, then the teacher says the next phrase and that is repeated and so on until the whole message is recorded. The neat trick is that only the pupil's voice is recorded, so when it is played back they just hear themselves saying the whole passage. Brilliant!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Talks For Computing Teachers - Mobile Software Engineering

Professor Rod Murray-Smith Speaking at the first Glasgow University Talks For Computing Teachers

Not just mobile phones but can include arrange of devices including technology such as RFID. The Glasgow research group and course looks at aspects such as ubiquitous computing and mobile HCI.

Mobile Internet becoming increasingly important, for example in 2008, mobile broadband overtook fixed broadband connections. in the developing world, the difference is even more pronounced. It is a rapidly moving area which makes it difficult to keep up with the pace of change. For example, Android OS for phones came from 0% to 25% Market share in a ridiculously short time.

What makes developing for mobile technology different? One key aspect is context. Mobile technology tends to be used in areas where there a many distractions (e.g. noise) and where you cannot give it your full attention. Battery life is also a problem. You may be able to develop a stunningly useful application but if it hammers battery life it is likely to be rejected. (Battery life seems to be the weak link. Processing power and memory are growing but nobody sees a huge leap in battery technology in the near future.) Data charges can also be problematic and mobile applications should aim to be parsimonious in relation to downloading data.

Important not just to try and replicate desktop application. Mobile applications need to be simpler and more focused on the key information. (Compare for example a standard web page with a mobile web page.) Other constraints on programming for the mobile environment are limited memory and large fingers controlling small screens. Current generation of programmers have learned to program in an environment that effectively has infinite resources. It can be a good discipline therefore to learn to program in the restricted environment of mobiles.

Impact on human life. Worth reading Natural Born Cyborgs by Clark. See also Microsoft advert - Really?

Mobile technology is increasingly using sensor based interactions using accelerometers, GPS, cameras, proximity, etc. For example, Shoogle, developed at Glasgow to provide a way of interacting with email.

Talked about Anglepose, a method of calculating angle and orientation of the finger used to control a touchscreen. Shows how you can create "virtual sensors" which opens up new possibilities in how we interact with devices, e.g. your finger could be used like a joystick.

Augmented reality - building a digital overlay on the physical world. Example was given of the difference between vehicle navigation (where audio directions are highly desirable) and pedestrian navigation (where audio directions are generally unwelcome), so other methods of giving directional information is necessary.

Large number of videos from Glasgow University that shows what their students are doing with mobile technology. A useful resource for schools to show pupils what Computing Science is like. The jobs Market for mobile developers is booming. Tools are available, such as Flowella that allows pupils to crate interactive prototypes without having to code the mobile device.

Mobile browsers are now based on WebKit. This allows you to develop rich mobile web applications which give cross platform development possibilities.

Interesting possibilities exist in the area of mobile devices interacting with other devices in the environment. Cheap devices, such as the Kinect, also open up interesting possibilities. Augmented reality applications, such as BuildAR make it easy to develop virtual reality applications. App Inventor from Google is also a tool to support mobile application development.

{Comments: Really interesting night. The talk filled in detail on, and gave examples of, current and future developments. Also some great ideas for classroom work, e.g. BuildAR and App Inventor. Really interesting to hear the contrast with the car industry where it can take seven years for ideas to find their way into cars. In contrast, mobile phone developers are building the future and can see their ideas in action within months. - DDM}