Marble Desktop Globe

Marvell Desktop GlobeEarth Globe X which I blogged about yesterday has proved to be popular with my students today even though I am not a geography teacher. They are fascinated with the fact it is a real time satellite picture of our planet. The Marble Desktop Globe is a KDE initiative . The software download is available for all platforms. It is a 3D spinning globe which you can twist and turn to see any country on the planet. You can also search for cities. It provides a much better idea of where things are than a flat map and is a very handy, nice looking desktop tool.

Dress up Ubuntu desktop

images of ubuntu desktop Changing desktop themes in Ubuntu is not as easy as it sounds – or it is easy if you know how and finding out how is not that easy! That said, I have had some success and I am more than happy with my results and my new cruisy Ubuntu desktops. I have choices! To change the desktop you right click on it and select change desktop. Within that there are customising options for folders and colours. Trying to load a theme is hard. Liberian Geek has some instructions which I will try later, much later but they will probably work since Liberian Geek has very solid information on Ubuntu. In the meantime I’ll share another couple of sites with you so that you don’t go through the frustration of downloading themes which then won’t load into the theme manager no matter which way you try. The Ubuntu Studio theme is really cool and I customised it with a picture of my own and it is a very slick interface. If you follow the instructions on the site for the terminal codes, they work like a charm. Last night it was the first thing that worked and I could not have been happier.The WEBUPD8 site also has some very nice themes which you can install easily by following the instructions. The bisigi ones on Liberian Geek are really nice too and so I shall have to try out those instructions. Meantime I am really happy with my desktop makeovers and feel a real sense of success!

PS: Have tried the ideas from Liberian Geek and they work! Now I have some really great themes to play with. Happy lady.


picture of cybersmart quiz Cybersmart is a very comprehensive and practical site relating to cybersafety. It offers resources, training , things to think about and a way of dealing with the issue without becoming overwhelmed by it. It caters to parents, teachers and students. It offers lesson plans and quizzes so that adults are able to better guide children but children are also able to navigate the site freely and get some sensible and practical help. Sites like this should be constantly and widely publicised so the information is circulated as a matter of routine.

Get Ubuntu to recognise digital camera

picture of digital camera icon on desktop I have just been driving myself bonkers trying to get Ubuntu to recognise my Sony Cybershot camera. As it turns out, it is quite easy if you know how, so I’ll share this with you so you don’t waste time!

1. Before you attach the camera and while it is turned on, press the menu button back right of the camera.
2. At the bottom of the new information which comes up you will see Mode.
3. Press the right arrow button of the circular cursor guide. Mine has a little tulip next to it.
4. You will see Setup with an arrow pointing right.
5. Press the right arrow cursor again with the little tulip.
6.Press the down cursor on the round cursor guide until you reach the camera icon with 2 under it.
7. Press the right cursor arrow again. You will be on File number.
8. Press the down cursor arrow and scroll down to the USB connect.
9. Select PTP by pressing the right arrow cursor and the up or down cursor button.
10. Now press the round, raised button in the middle of the cursor guide and PLP will be the selection.
11. Press the menu button on right of image screen. picture of digital camera icon on desktop
12. Now connect the camera to the computer with the USB cable and your camera icon will show on the desktop.
13. Click on the icon.
14. It will offer you the chance to open FSpot. Do that and import your pictures.

Done , done and done!

TeFL Domain 3 Challenge 4

Are we sharing and reflecting? Sharing how we learn and go about something has to be adopted and developed as second nature. For some it might seem as time wasting because it’s not directly about content, but if you do it properly, the sharing and reflecting will deepen a student’s capacity to actively use and build on content. You are giving them tools to think about it and strategies for processing. Some of our courses have reflection built into them but the challenge here is to stop students making broad generalisations and trotting out platitudes. They need to be guided to think about impact, change and how their knowledge can be used and developed. Twiducate has become a regular habit for engaging students in reflection and exploration of ideas and they love it. They respond readily. Another thing I do is bring them examples of what I want them to do and get them to have a critical look at them. What do they think is good? What do they find is offputting? What annoys them? What could be improved and how? They are slow to respond because they do not like to critique work, but once they get going – and I usually use the 3 good things and 3 things which could be better – to get them going, they warm to it. We then look more closely at technique and skill and I find they are more attentive that way because they want to be good. I also find that oral presentations with a multimedia approach make students far more aware of what can be really engaging and what can really put you off. Again, afterwards, we look at some tips and tricks to make things better. They live in a visual world. It is important to show them and let them see for themselves how something can be good if uses skill and expertise. Over time they realise that slapdash isn’t a good approach. The important thing about sharing and reflecting together is that it strengthens good students and reinforces their skills and knowledge but it also offers ideas and approaches to students who struggle. Bit by bit they can pick up on ideas and strengthen themselves without being humiliated or shown up.

#Mac Zen

macbook light A very observant staff member made an astute observation the other day about our MacBooks. It is a bit frivolous, but shows how minds can be used to make positive use of any information they have. MacBooks are not just computers. They can be used to assist well being and peace of mind. When you shut the lid of the Mac and put it to sleep a little light comes on at the front. After a short time the light starts pulsing. If you breathe in sync with the light it is actually a very calming breath! The Mac is capable of helping you establish some good recuperative breathing techniques so that you do not stress out!!

Linux Wall Wart Computer

Sheeva wall wart computer Photo: That’s it! That is the tiny computer which runs on Linux and plugs into the wall. They don’t appear to be available in Australia but America has them selling for 99 dollars for the developer’s kit and 49 dollars for the wall computer. I am not going to pretend to be able to discuss this Sheeva plug adequately, but to me it is a sign of what is to come and it is exciting! They are developed by Marvell and Treehugger has a clear discussion of them. The Linux site itself has some good detail which you can follow up. To actually run it as a computer you’d need a USB vga adapter which will cost about 60 dollars and you’d need to plug in a USB hub. I know it doesn’t have as much power as a normal computer but I run Ubuntu 10.04 on an old NEC 540 Versa with only 256 Mb of RAM and it runs very efficiently. More than adequately. One of the things about the Sheeva plug is that it appeals to your imagination and so you wonder what you want to do with it. You can use it as a server, you could use it as a home security system with a web cam and you could run it as a small computer. I keep thinking there has to be a classroom use for these if they can run a whiteboard and it would be a good, viable alternative for schools which do not have a lot of money. The wall plug computers have a social justice role to play. I just love it and I want one!!

Searches with Tweet Grid

tweet grid image You do not have to have a twitter account to enjoy the benefits of Twitter searching with Tweet Grid. You can load your search tags into the search boxes and see a Twitter stream of those and Twitter at the same time if you want to. The searches can come up in different languages so it is living proof real time is multi lingual and the real world does not come with sub titles. So, if you are trying to get up to date Apple information, you can search with #mac, #imac, #ipad, #macapp, #keynote,#macbook, #apple. You can filter the language if you want to and you can decide how many grids you want to run. When you do searches like this it is a matter of sorting the goats out from the sheep and applying some filters of your own as you see what is there. Not all the information is relevant. #ipad today has people hustling for gaming colleagues. #keynote isn’t just about Apple keynote. My observation on this random search on Apple tags is the percentage of useable and helpful information could be better. Repetition of tweets is a great deterrent. Nevertheless, there are some useful links and it will only work better if people provide good content under those search tags.

TfEL Domain 3 Challenge 3

Have you noticed their effort and commitment? Challenge One is here. Challenge 2 is here. This challenge is a little bit harder than it looks. Times have changed , as have students . The internet challenges I used to get completed in a double lesson have had to extend to 2 double lessons this year. I was watching why the students were so “slow”. They weren’t being slow. They were being exceptionally thorough in their research. It was important to them they had exactly what they wanted and that they understood what they were choosing to answer the questions. They were also stopping to read information properly instead of just meeting my requirements. I praised them for that approach and gave them the extra time. I often use Twiducate to get feedback about assignments so that I can better understand how students have approached an assignment and so that I can better see what they value. It is also important to build reflection into as assignment. I have learned just recently that my year 8s are not as good at research as I had thought and so something I set them was hard but they had tried to complete it in their own way. It is important to stand back and think because students have a lot of ways of doing things these days and plenty of ways of getting on the wrong track. I am now very mindful to get them started in the right place and offer the next step.