Thursday, November 5, 2009

No Data Projector?

We regularly have groups of teacher visiting our school to look at ICT, Inquiry, etc. They often seem quite surprised that we have a data projector in every classroom. Personally I see a data projector as a standard piece of equipment in a modern classroom.

Am I living on another planet regarding this issue? How do you see it?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IWB? - Not on my patch!

A local eductech magazine had a special edition the other day focussing on "Interactive" whiteboards. On the cover was a whiteboard and on it was written: "Interesting and fun things to do with your IWB". I took one look at it and though: "Yea, that just about says it all". Fun and Interesting - but what about educational value??

Somehow IWB had developed an aura or being new, innovative, progressive and modern around them. For this reason lots of schools have jumped on the bandwagon and spent astronomical amounts of money on this technology. I want to argue that they are nothing of the sort.

Why don't I support this technology:

It reinforces the dominance of the front of the classroom: After being involved in a number of projects relating to the design of classrooms, creating a flexible space with no dedicated front, (or back, or anything for that matter) has developed as a key factor in supporting the types of learning spaces we want. For that reason our new classrooms don't even have a big fixed whiteboard anywhere. As the teaching/learning changes the classroom layout changes to support the learning. A conscious effort is being made to do away with the "front" of the class as the focus point for learning - we don't even mount out data projectors.

Support outdated pedagogies: The nature of this technology encourages "show and tell". Yes, I know kids can be manipulating it as well, but what are the other 29 kids doing at that time? The nature of this technology creates a situation where the interaction is predominantly at the front of the class and limited to a small number of people.

You teach better sitting next to a child than standing in front of them: A bit of a generalization, I know. And I also acknowledge the fact that PD can make a difference on how this is being used. The question is: In practice, how many teachers use it in the "better" ways? From what I have seen in a number of countries the answer is not many (very few actually). Researchers from Cambridge and Bristol also have serious reservations of the practical educational benefit of this technology.

Creates a greater gulf between teacher and learner: This technologies is firmly under control of the teacher. Most of the time students interact with this technology when invited by the teacher. Is this the type of teaching/learning situation we want in our classrooms?

Cost/benefit ratio: I am fully aware that there are a number of very useful and handy and educational uses for this technology. Like with all technologies, the question of how much "bang for your buck" you will get, has to be asked. From what I've seen in terms of software, we can do the vast majority of the things with KeyNote and a Bamboo pad. I also believe if you give my teachers a choice they will all rather have 5 more MacBooks in their classrooms than an IWB. (not even talking about an iPod Touch for everyone!)

I am fully aware that many people have a different opinion about the value of and IWB - for a variety of reasons. I will be keen to hear from those that have seen the added value these pieces of technology can bring to a classroom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Getting it right

Like most of us, I am working on getting things sorted for 2010. We will move from 2 to 4 Digitally Enhanced Classes next year. Currently students in the DEC's have 1 MacBook or iMac between every 2 students. We are quite convinced that the iPod Touch has place in the classroom as a device that can easily handle the smaller tasks and contribute to the increased levels of access in classrooms (all of them - DEC and non DEC). Maximizing the use of these smaller devices is something we still have lots to discover about.

The biggest issue we are struggling with is, is what ratio will work best? In a class of 32 - what ration of IMacs, MacBooks and IPod Touches? Anybody have some ideas?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The Staff and I attended ULearn09 in Christchurch last week. We decided to take all the teachers (just about everybody could go) because we have a large number of new staff members this year. Once again it was a well run conference and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it. We will get some feedback from the Staff this week and I am looking forward to that.

On the flight back I was thinking about the conference and conferences in general (while BassHunters was pumping away from my iPhone). I guess it will be fair to say that when you have attended a few conferences it becomes very difficult for people to really "WOW" you. But then I realized that my focus for conferences have changed over time. I am not looking for answers anymore, I am now looking for QUESTIONS to be answered. What is your experience?

I will post more about the conference once I have a moment.

I am on Twitter now - please see the link on the side---->

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And some more . . .

The newest tablet story is that Microsoft is also hard at work on their version of a tablet, or tab book / booklet.

Gizmodo. com reports:

Courier is a real device, and we've heard that it's in the "late prototype" stage of development. It's not a tablet, it's a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft's brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who's spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies.

Knowing MS's track record on innovation, I'm not holding my breath. I'll wait till February to get my Apple tablet!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Computer linked to my brain?

I have seen a few video's, etc about how computer technology is being built into just about everything - fridges, watches, shoes and even clothing. While I see all of those developments as quite exciting, what I've read yesterday made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Vint Cerf is of the opinion that soon we will have computers linked to our brains through a brain implant (see below).
I'm not quite sure i'll be in front of the line for this one! What do you think?


The man regarded as one of the founding fathers of the internet is in the country - and he says the future of the web is in our bodies and in outer space.

Vint Cerf, vice-president and "chief internet evangelist" of tech giant Google, foresees the introduction of internet capability to existing neural interface technology such as cochlear implants, allowing, as an example, web radio played direct from computer to brain.

He is also involved in work to send internet infrastructure into space to create "a communications backbone between space-faring nations".

Cerf predicts the falling cost and rising sophistication of programmable devices will allow the internet to be widely embedded in inanimate objects, leading to revolutions in automated shipping and inventory control.

Some of these capabilities are already starting to be realised: Cerf's wine cellar is internet- enabled, sending him a text message when temperature and humidity levels become unfavourable.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Have a peek at this!

I found this on YouTube - bring it on!!!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Having started thinking and playing (sorry exploring) with handheld technologies re: ipod touch and how it can be used, the idea of an iTablet is obviously an very exciting one. Yes, we have all heard the rumours, but according to sources it has now gone past the rumour stage.

I guess only time will tell!

This is what others closer to Cupertino have to say:

Barron's chimes in (subscription required) with its contribution to recent Apple tablet rumors, claiming to have spoken with an unnamed "veteran analyst" who has seen firsthand a prototype of the forthcoming device. Unfortunately, the source provides little detail on the device other than to note that it will excel at displaying video content.

The machine impresses with its display of hi-def video content, says the veteran analyst, who asked not to be identified. "It's better than the average movie experience, when you hold this thing in your hands."

The source also notes that anticipation for an announcement regarding the device in the near future is so high that competing tablet manufacturers are holding off on new designs until they are able to see what Apple has to offer.

"It's close enough now to a final design that in Asia, there's no other product in the waiting room or in the bullpen," said the analyst. "There are dozens of ODMs [original device makers] making products for Lenovo and other PC makers that are all waiting to see what the Apple product is."

Barron's also cites a second source who confirms that news of the Apple tablet "is all over the supply chain in Asia."

As for details of the new device, the report seems to summarize many of the current rumors floating around, citing a possible $699-$799 price point and suggesting a September announcement and a November launch. A number of recent reports have pointed to a launch late this year, possibly as early as September
alongside enhanced iTunes album offerings, although other reports have claimed that the device will not appear until early 2010.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

ipod touch - maybe a glimpse of the future?

We hope to start using the ipod touch in our classrooms in the near future. At the moment we are exploring a few of the applications (mostly the free ones) and it looks very exciting.

You might want to ask why the ipod touch. The short answer is that the ipod touch is much much more than a "mp3 player" - it is basically a small computer. It can connect to the school's wireless network and access the web and files that way. The low cost makes this a good candidate to improve access in our classrooms.

What are the possible benefits?

  1. The "in your pocket" mobility is where our kids function, what they're accustomed to and the technology.
  2. It is very easy to use.
  3. The touchscreen/touch keyboard and their ability to take notes in much the same way they text is compelling for students.
  4. Immediate access to the internet in their pocket
  5. The "on the go" field research in various content areas including Science and even PE
  6. Apps, once synced do not need to access the net
  7. Apps provide great tools to manage themselves etc.
  8. Lots of the applications are free

I have a very good feeling about this one and will make more posts as we move down this track.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a Wii bit interesting

I am not a fan of so called "interactive" whiteboards at all, but i loved what Johnny Lee has done with the Wii.  What a great way to take a piece of technology and make it so much more.  I also like the way he put his research on video and shared it - that gave others the chance to continue development.  This is an example of the true knowledge economy.  

Watch this clip and comment:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Catching the Google Wave?

I am always looking around the see what's new (yea, I can be nosy) and how these new products/application can support learning and teaching. Google is about to release what they call, Google Wave. The elements aren't new, but it seems to be a new way of using these different elements alongside each other. In a cooperative learning environment I think this can have some potential. Have a look below and post your thoughts.

Google Wave

Google is hatching a new species of email and instant messaging, but the internet search leader first wants the hybrid service to evolve even more with the help of independent computer programmers.

The free tool, called Google Wave, runs in a web browser and combines elements of email, instant messaging, wikis and photo sharing in an effort to make online communication more dynamic.

Google hopes Wave simplifies the way people collaborate on projects or exchange opinions about specific topics.

Google offered the first glimpse of its latest offering during the Mountain View, California-based company's annual conference for software developers who build programs on top of its services.

The rest of the web-surfing public won't be able to hop on Google Wave until later in the year.

By the time Wave rolls out for everyone, Google hopes independent programmers will have found new ways to use the service.

Among other things, Google is counting on outsiders to figure out how to weave Wave into the popular internet communications service Twitter, social networks like Facebook and existing web-based email services, said Lars Rasmussen, a Google engineering manager.

Rasmussen and his brother, Jens, helped build Google's online mapping service, which sprouted a variety of unforeseen uses after its 2005 debut because of the ingenuity of external programmers.

Having learned their lesson from the mapping experience, the Rasmussens wanted to give developers ample time to tinker with their newest creation before unleashing it on the rest of the world.

The Rasmussens broke away from Google's mapping service in 2006 to concentrate on building a service that would enable email and instant messaging to embrace the web's increasingly social nature. They contend email hasn't changed that much since its invention during the 1960s.

"We started out by saying to ourselves, 'What might email look like if it had been invented today?'" said Lars Rasmussen, who worked on Wave in Australia with his brother and just three other Google employees.

Wave is designed to make it easier to converse over email by providing tools to highlight particular parts of the written conversation.

In instant messages, participants can see what everyone else is writing as they type, unless they choose a privacy control. Photos and other online applications known as "widgets" also can be transplanted into the service.

The service could easily accommodate advertising like Google's five-year-old email service already does, but Lars Rasmussen said it's still too early to predict how the company might profit from Wave.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Swine Flu

Like many others, I have thought that the Swine Flu is a thing of the past. Looking at the latest reports, the opposite seems to be the truth. To date swine flu has infected more than 17,000 people and killed 115 globally.

So far in New Zealand, it has been confirmed in just 10 cases and has generally been a mild disease, but health authorities expect it will eventually infect more than half the population. Even if it's relatively mild, people will be too sick to go to work or school."

One of the first steps health authorities take to limit the spread of such a flu is to stop people from gathering. This might mean that schools and some businesses might be closed. This is quite a scary thought and something I hope we can avoid. The reality is that it might happen and we need to make sure we warn our communities and have a plan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

National Standards

A new government and "new" ideas. Yes, we have just seen the draft standards and to be honest, I think the team from the Ministry of Education has done a pretty good job. The standards are closely linked to what most of us already use and they have included material (in maths and writing) to clearly show what each Level means. A pretty good source of information for teachers.

My problem is however not with standards, it is with the collection of "data" from schools. We have come a long way in New Zealand to develop a cooperative model with schools sharing best practice and helping each other. I am pretty sure that most of my colleagues will fight back if any system is imposed that threatens that. If the government needs information to direct policy, we have the wonderful National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) that provides a quality overview of how our students are doing. There is no need for collecting data on standards.

I will stay positive (for the moment) and trust that the government will keep their word. We will not go down the track of the UK and USA on this one!

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