Steam Castle is ready for Christmas

Steam Castle

Had a lovely time decorating my computer for Christmas. It has a USB tree and lights, a little LED bling Christmas tree light which I have put in a frame, a cool glam candle holder made from perspex and glitter beads and then strings of gold beads on  top of the Steam Castle . The Christmas theme comes from themepack.me. It’s the Christmas Tree theme.

Kobo Reader on Windows 10

I have a Kobo e-reader which I like because it is small, exceptionally portable and  when you use the light for the screen it does not glare. I find that better for reading text. The dictionary function is excellent ,aKobo reader appnd, all in all , it suits me well. I had not connected it to my Steam Castle PC which has an OEM version of Windows 10 and a very nice one at that.  The e-reader started charging , updating and  was showing up on MyPC for about 10 minutes but then it vanished. No amount of turning things on and off worked. It seems to be a problem with Windows 10 having searched for that problem on Google. Except it is not. The Kobo e-reader works perfectly fine on Windows 10 . It just doesn’t show in MyPC. I downloaded the Kobo desktop app which picked up my e-reader for the amount of time it was showing on MyPC. Then I could do nothing other than browse the shop, sync the device and  look at my account.  There is , however, a Kobo universal reader app which you can download from the link on  The Digital Reader for Windows 10. I downloaded that. It comes up in the Start Menu as  Kobo eBooks so you have to be careful not to confuse it with the  Kobo desktop app which just comes up as Kobo. The app is very easy and cruisy. The interface is very clean and the menus top and bottom do everything. I could sync my e-reader, add new .pub and .pdf files, which I really wanted to do, and browse the shop. I can export files too to my desktop. It works very well and in a fuss free manner. Within 2 minutes of loading it I could navigate and use it. There is nothing mystical or troublesome about it. So, it didn’t matter that it was not showing in MyPC when I used the  free Kobo eBooks app from the Windows store.

Making an LED card

 

Paper circuits are all the go at the moment because they are fun for making light up cards. It is also a very straightforward and simple introduction to circuits and electronics. The video explains clearly the logic behind what you are doing and then you can see that it is not that hard to do. Copper tape, 3V batteries and little LED lights are not that hard to source and then making the card adds something creative and personal to the process. If you prefer written instructions you can find them here on  Hi-Low Tech .

Write a novel

Yes, write a novel. Just do it. Why not? The internet is full of great ideas, tools and information to get that novel written. I am writing this post by way of follow up to the Storyboard post. You really can do anything you want to these days. There is no way you are short of help, advice, tools, templates, tips. Everything is there to get you on the road to learning whatever you want. We live in a world where writers like Trevor Schmidt, Major Geek, is willing to just sit down for a few minutes and take the time to help you -anyone- to realise their dream and be a writer like him. You don’t have to sit and think about it . You can just start because the internet gives you so many ways of starting. That is all you have to do. Take the first step. Writerswrite has 5 top online tools to help you organise your writing. The Snowflake method is worth exploring a little more deeply because it is one of the most popular ways of getting yourself into writing these days.  It is a method which seems to be having a great deal of success. If you want some tools and templates then allindiewriters has some very good recommendations for you.

Send free e-cards

e-cardsImage: imaginaryecards

It’s that time of the year where you need choices in the e-card department. You can’t send what you sent last year and you may be stuck for other sites. Imaginaryecards.com has plenty of choices. How-to -geek has 9 other sites which it recommends for free e-cards. That is all I have to say. You need to go looking now to find the sites you like.

Write stories with Storybird

I have picked and education oriented video about Storybird because this blog has always had a strong education focus. Storybird, though, can be for anyone who wants to read or write stories and provides a lot of support to help you achieve your aim to be a writer. There are so many aspiring writers out there. So many who have an idea for a book or piece of writing. There is also room for artists on Storybird too because people want their books illustrated and don’t necessarily have the skills. It then becomes a collaborative site and a site where you can encourage yourself  and others to write if that is what you want to do. It provides incentives for you if you want to participate in that kind of approach and ,yes, there is a paid section where you can actually publish your writing and get a print or digital copy. The prices are more than reasonable. It is a site which will guide you through the process of getting your writing into reality. How many never get to that stage? Change is action. If you want to be a writer , you need to write. If you want use your imagination and write creatively then the site will probably help you. There are quite a few other YouTube videos about the site. Children have to be 13 to join but can join at a younger age with parental permission. Commonsense media has a review of the site. There is also a teacher review here. It is a platform for all readers, writers and artists, not just a site for young children.

Taming technology

Simplifying our use of technology really is a first world problem. We are spoiled for choice with technology , whether we are talking about hardware , software or services. In global terms we are not really overwhelmed by the weight of technology in our lives. Truly, others have far more demanding issues to confront on a daily basis. Nevertheless, there are people who are genuinely becoming stressed by the constant demands of technology and there are people who are being pushed to the wall by the constant requirement to be connected or to access technology. We really need to use our critical thinking skills when it comes to technology and the video sums it up as these 5 steps:

Formulate a question
Gather information
Apply information
Consider implications
Explore other points of view.

The website Inc probably sums up the increasing encroachment of technology on our time:

“After you’ve checked SMS, WhatsApp, voicemail, email, your second email account, Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages, Twitter mentions, Twitter DMs, Quora messages, snail mail, and Slack for the third time in a given day, you’ve lost the opportunity to actually, ya know, get anything done. Narrow down the number of communications media you use, and batch process the messages that arrive, to reclaim your day,” suggests VC Patrick Mathieson.

The whole post about simplifying our lives talks a lot of common sense and it will probably strike a chord with you as it did with me. The tips recommended for simplifying your life can apply just as easily to technology as life in general. You do need to set boundaries. You do need to have reasonable expectations of others. Why should they respond immediately to your SMS or email? How many sites can a person reasonably belong to and check in a working day and if they have dependant children or older parents ? How does it help to be connected? What are the things which trigger bad responses to connectivity? How many devices do you need to use and why? Can you do more on one device? Why can’t you use the device of your choice? Have you explored the apps and sites which streamline your activities? Those are some questions to start your critical thinking.

I have been using my phone more because it is always with me. I have taken the time to learn its settings and I have improved how I do things on my phone. I check emails in the morning and again in the evening. I do not connect to emails on my phone. If I don’t want to be interrupted I turn the sound off. The pressure comes from the perception that technology is harassing you. When you feel like that and that your life is not your own you need to change the balance and make incremental changes until you reach that point where the balance of power is again in your favour. You have to change the point of critical mass until is flows your way according to your wishes. Popsugar has some nice ideas for simplifying tech use . Put the critical thinking time in so it works for you. We are lucky to have all this technology but it does need to be tamed.

Geocube

Geocube runs in English, Spanish, German and Italian. It would be good to get some more languages onto it because it is an amazing tool for learning geography. It makes good use of the visual and graphics capabilities of the internet and our current hardware . It presents material like a Rubrik’s cube. There are 54 pre-prepared topics and it really is a very appealing site. You need to play with it and see what it does.

2 x 2 Leadership Matrix

No claims to being able to explain the real mathematical import of a 2×2 matrix and its implications. There is, however,  work being done around 2×2 matrices for leadership. Even with a limited understanding of maths, the import of the 2×2 leadership matrix is worth exploring for its merit. A 2×2 matrix establishes the determinant of a matrix and is an inverted matrix which means it can reverse another function. It’s about balance and the relationships between the elements. Inverted matrixes can be used to decode or to help solve other mathematical functions. The argument for a 2×2 leadership matrix has been put forward by J.R. Bailey and it centres on the tension between good and great leadership and how that affects the power and impact of a leader . Leaders can be good or bad. They can be effective or not but to have vital, positive leadership the great leader needs to be held accountable by positive good leaders:

Great leadership is powerful, dominating, often overwhelming. It can sweep people along through sheer animation. Great leadership excites, energizes, and stimulates. It’s a rousing call, shocking complacency and inertia into action. It’s one of the most potent pulls in human history, and as such accounts for much of humanity’s progress, as well as its suffering. While it ignites collective action and stirs passion, its direction depends largely on those that wield its power. Great has no inherent moral compass, and thus its unpredictable potency can just as easily be put toward pugilistic and peaceful purposes.

Leadership is not a continuum. You can work on the skills but the outcomes are determined by the other elements of the matrix and how they operate. A very clear version of this is explained by Justin Bariso. The video about the 2×2 matrix on the Harvard Business Review site clarifies it further.

The key elements of leadership are discussed on the onlinelivingblog. The three elements which would impact positively or negatively on the inherent relationships within the 2×2 matrix would be:

1. your own motivation
2. transparency
3. responsiveness

aitsl has the downloadable leadership reflection tools so that you can work on:

locate your current leadership practice
identify strengths and areas for development
view your developmental pathway
access targeted leadership resources to assist your professional growth.

The aistl interactive leadership profiles also give you an opportunity to mix and match different aspects of leadership so that you can work to strengths and positives and notice the weaker spots you have . It looks at relational and systemic impact so that engagement with others is broadened and enhanced. That contributes to vital leadership and one that is in balance with the 2×2 matrix. The matrix gives you a way of looking at leadership. aitsl gives you the tools to do something about itso that you engage with others. Leadership is not in a vacuum nor is it on a continuum. It is in a matrix and as you work on your skills you have to be mindful that the impact of others with determine the sort of leader you are. The corollary is also true: the impact of leadership is the responsibility of others and so it is always important to develop the skills of others. It’s a  dynamic state.

2000 Twitter followers

Twitter followers

Thank you!

Icons from : nymfont

The good news is that these followers are real people with some impressive interests, involvements and skills. I enjoy engaging in the Twittersphere and Twitter has helped me a lot to develop my thoughts , ideas and to create a PLN worth its weight is gold. Many of the followers come from my blogging. I run different blogs, each with their own focus and they all pick up followers both from the blogs and  Twitter . I follow over 3000 people on Twitter and I have built my own numbers up by being there and providing content which others value. My handle @sally07 comes from  the days where we did not blog or tweet as a real person. We hid behind a pseudonym. It was part of the fun because the internet has always had a sense of the ridiculous in a good way. It used to be email addresses, then it was names on blogs and Twitter and it now has become the hashtags. Some of those hashtags become iconic and drive change. Twitter does not let you change your original name when you signed up unless you go through a big process and that would then mean losing all my followers. I run the account in my own name as I do my blogs. There was a day where I had to decide whether to stay behind a pseudonym wall or be a real person on the internet. I have found real works well for me. People need to know I am real and I exist and that has improved engagement. It’s how you get followers. Yes, you can pay for them. Yes, you can have a successful account under a fake name and then it comes down to your own values. My decision was I wanted to be able to make a real contribution as a real person. I am doing the same on Instagram. I have 163 followers now which is nothing compared with some but it’s so much better than the 6 followers I had at the beginning of the year.  If you want followers I have 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Be yourself and genuine
  2. Offer something positive
  3. Have a sense of fun

Not everything I do is funny or light hearted but you do have to lighten accounts up from time to time. I thank everyone for contributing positively to my Twitter account and to my blogs. I have had some sound help, support and encouragement. I have had some great discussions and input. The strength you can gain from social media is not to be underestimated. I’d like to think I provide some of that strength with my accounts.

Christmas recycling

This post has been very popular and the video always gets a lot of reaction when I share it. It is a great way to use up those old magazines you have around the place and the effect is really nice. You need time to make these little trees so I am giving you time now! Certainly a creative way to recycle magazines and bits and pieces of Christmas decorations. Something to keep little hands busy and something where you could make quite an impressive display if you made several of them. The video guides you all the way and so you could run it on a smartphone or tablet and pause it as you go along. This is a real  advantage of video instructions. You can stop when you need to, rewind when you need to and simply go along at your own pace. Students can get very absorbed by making things and this tree tests manual dexterity and patience but then offers the chance to be inspired with the decoration. Students will come up with very original ideas for decorating and creating their own personal trees and they can photograph and film them to make other Christmas things. Snapchat them , even, when they get home. This sort of activity is a good precursor to an oral activity or video. They enjoy making their own little characters and props from bits and pieces and then filming it or photographing it. As they are constructing they are thinking about what they will actually say and do for the task and the busy hands and working through the practicalities of designing a tree helps to direct their thinking. It is surprising how your ideas develop and you make things. It is even more surprising what will come next in terms of digital use of things which have been hand made.

The case of the Twitter edit function

twitter impressionsOh what a tangled web we have woven with social media. Instagram lets you edit as does Facebook but not Twitter. Three years ago they were supposed to be creating a limited edit function but still there isn’t one and still I can make myself look like a prize twit because I cannot correct a typo or malfunctioning link. I have to delete the tweet and put up a new one or quote the tweet. If I delete it , it means I would lose the retweets and likes I may have gathered and that can happen so quickly on some tweets. The logic is that Twitter can send out viral tweets and if it is misinformation then the best option is for the tweeter to delete that post. It has caused a lot of heartache when people or organisations have put out incorrect information. The impact can be a lifechanger  in a bad way for some. Twitter is also used by opportunistic advertisers who might use the edit function to change a good tweet which is gathering momentum into advertising for something.  Quora has some interesting responses to the twitter lack of edit position. I quote my tweet if I want to correct an error so then the original tweet and the quoted tweet are gathering impressions. quotetweetThere is a belief that any tweet has a short life span and so it’s better to delete and start again or quote the tweet so that it just goes back into the new stream of tweets. I guess Facebook and Instagram do not have the same time turnover and short life of information. I still think it should be possible to correct spelling errors or links. How hard the algorithm is for that I cannot say. I am just asking!

Using technology in the real world

Technology use in the real world is quite different from school based use. For a start, the real world uses phones and phone apps far more frequently. Phones are used for messaging reminders, information, keeping in business contact, company and govt apps, calendars, reminders, QR codes and video calling. The real world uses QR codes a lot to get information out. The real world also engages more regularly with social media. Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter are used to provide a point of contact, sometimes to create discussions and information sharing and to create real ties with people of similar interest or regional location. The real world documents their activities more with photos which are shared and ideas which are shared. You get to see work places, discussion groups, activities, ideas generation. Through social media you engage more dynamically with a business , organisation or key individual. Individuals will use their phones for information checking, sharing photos and ideas with you: show and tell. They will use their phone to put in reminders or check their calendar. They will show you how they manage their phone and the sorts of things they use it for. Some use it to make videos which they share on YouTube or Instagram. They might be tourist videos but more often than not they are instructional videos or videos of their pets. Phones can also be used to navigate exhibitions and to get local information. Phones play a significant role in documenting daily life and routines.  Laptops are used to get work done. I have seen people on the train studying power points, writing scripts for essays or tutorials, doing spreadsheets or studying notes. Laptops are noticeably the work horses of the real world. Tablets tend to be for games, videos and video calling. Some people do that on their phones but tablets by and large seem to be the device of choice for video calling especially for older people. There are fewer people who bang on on the mobile phone incessantly and loudly in public. It tends to be more discreet these days and often phones are not visible in meetings or restaurants at all. They come out when someone wants to share information or put in a diary date or check an appointment. White boards have a limited use in the real world and different from in a classroom. In classrooms their use is multipurpose, multifunction and multifaceted. In the real world they show someone else’s laptop and you go through their files as a group. From that point of view they are used collaboratively. You are all looking at something and it is being changed in real time as the discussions ensue. It’s actually a satisfying use of IWB in a meeting. In the other group I attend the IWB is used for Power Point displays, videos and group work questions. It’s good and it works but a white board can do so much more. In the real world I use my phone so much more. Everywhere I go there are things I can do with my phone either to get information or to share it.  For one of my groups I take pictures for Instagram and my blogs. They have brought me in contact with so many people in the region and local businesses. Organisations also use email a lot to get out information, enhance information, supply useful links, create discussions and offer support. That use of emails is very helpful and positive. It is quite effective for deepening discussions and the emails which come with follow up ideas and information help create a very positive atmosphere. The last thing which is all the go in the real world are very classy, cool desktops with gadgets. The minimal  design emphasis is obvious and the clean, clear layouts and arrangements are striking. Pleased to add that my retro desktop has proven to be popular!

Do something differently

Do something differently and do something different. With technology it’s a must because it changes rapidly. You can use your familiar ground to do things differently and you can challenge yourself to do something different. The future isn’t now, it’s tomorrow. You are not the future now , you are in the present but the future will be different and it will mean changing . Technology is a handy way to keep yourself open to change. Change your set up. Change how you do things. Change the order in which you do things. Use your tablet more or less. Try the phone version of something you use on a laptop. Do without your laptop for a week. Use images instead of words. Send a video instead of an email. As you train yourself to change you are investing in your self confidence and skills. You trust yourself to be able to do things differently and believe you can work things out.

1. Use different tools. You could well find something better.
2. Learn a new device or app.
3. Use chat instead of email or vice versa

People who are confident and inventive with technology have a balanced set of skills and approaches. They know how to troubleshoot and they can think of so many ways to problem solve. Experience is a great teacher. As people we always like our way of doing things and the tools and media we use. It doesn’t hurt once in a while to try and do it differently and the way someone else does it. Pay attention to what other people are using and what devices they use and when. If you think they are competent with technology then try it their way and see what you learn. As you work through a process of doing something differently then what are you learning and what are the benefits? Did your change make you feel more or less successful? Did you know how to problem solve? Did you ask for help? How quickly did you adapt to the new way of doing something and what were the benefits for you? Learning by doing is very effective. You do not tend to forget and you stimulate your brain to think differently. You also make use of different skills and don’t just have a set of unrelated thoughts in your head which may or may not come into action. Often, when you are doing something different or differently you will automatically share that experience and therefore gain valuable encouragement or feedback for improvement. It just comes naturally that you share either because you are pleased with what you have done or you are frustrated by it.

Can I put my money where my mouth is? Have I done different things or done things differently?

1.I put Hay Day on my smartphone. I am not one to play games on my phone and had the belief it’s not easy and not good for me. I thought it wouldn’t be as good on a phone. I downloaded the app, logged in, connected my current account on Hay Day via Facebook and then marvelled at how easy it was and how I could spend 10 minutes happily. I was surprised how well it works on the phone and how easily I could play. It’s how I found out about Hay Day. Someone was playing on their phone and I asked about it because I love farm games. It ended up being a really good conversation but I came home that evening and loaded it onto my iPad Air.

2. I have made myself use Instagram all year because I had joined and not really done anything or participated. Most days I am taking photos to put on my account. I have loved it because the community is very positive, creative and artistic. I have got to know some local and not so local people very easily. My photos have been successful and I can look back over the year and see how I have changed and grown and then see what I have achieved.

3.I have been involved in a lot of different social settings and events this year. I came to technology as a teacher. I have a teacher headset. It has been really interesting to see how the real world uses technology because the emphases and uses are quite different . I plan to blog about this.

Hijacking my timeline

social-media-engagement-marketingthink-com-gerrymoran-e1414508453828I wrote the post below in June this year and now again I am feeling the need to voice an opinion about how entitled others seem to feel that my timeline is theirs to hijack. Currently there is a pressure in social media to subjugate yourself to all and everything which mainstream media and others publish. The argument goes along the lines that if you do not subject yourself to their views then you are being blinkered, narrow minded, in your own thought bubble and totally unchallenged. Gerry Moran has a very good infographic for questioning engagement in social media so that you can keep your thinking straight. The crux of it to me is does the content add to a great conversation? If it doesn’t, I don’t want to see it and reserve the right to mute, block, unsubscribe from or hide posts. There is so much current content which is tripe. I’d rather have quality to challenge my thinking. Nothing wrong with being discerning.

copy-paste

Image: wikiHow- 8 ways to copy and paste

My device, my internet, my fees, my timeline. That simple. It is interesting how from time to time you get a swag of more or less demands to copy and paste information to your wall or timeline or to share something. It is not persuasion. It is usually a fairly blatantly  emotive and manipulative written piece. “I know who my friends are. I know who will paste this…blah blah.” “If you care , you will share this…blah , blah.” My device, my internet, my fees, my timeline. Full stop end of story. You have your own timeline. You have your own perspective and way of looking at the world. Share it with me but do not tell me what to do and what to think.It is the Show me don’t tell me which out to be at work.  I really hate the patronising clap trap which comes up on social network feeds every so often. The obligation to share and care and the obligation to copy and paste. One of the real strengths of social media is they are  places where you do have access to all sorts of ideas and points of view. If I want to share something I do. I am quite capable of doing that all by myself. The other week I did want to share a picture which had the You have to share sentence on it. I added a comment to say I supported what was being said but others were free to make up their own mind and use their own hearts. Cyberspace is no different from real space. People try to take over your feed and timeline when they have their own patch of cyber real estate. You also get the inbox chain letters where doom will surely enter your life if you don’t copy and paste to at least 12 people.Then there are the demands to retweet.  For some people it would make them feel like they are betraying a friend. There is emotional manipulation in all of this. One day the internet will work out that people can think for themselves. In the meantime My device, my internet, my fees, my timeline.

Hay Day

zengardenhaydayI have had a break of  about 3 months from Hay Day. Like any game you play regularly, it was familiar ground, the game play wasn’t helping me and it was creating a negative rather than positive effect as I played . The blocks were held up game play and game development, as I saw it, and it seemed like I was repeating myself rather than actually playing. I had other things to do so I just stopped playing. The game had not met players half way by supplying enough saws and axes. Then, if you were investing in and running a number of facilities and animals,it was a constant battle to keep up with the demand especially with sugar and dairy. There seemed to be players who were there more for their own benefit and those of their friends and were constantly putting up the this is already sold sign when clearly the item was for sale when you got to their farm. When it comes to games I never allow them to enable a negative experience in my life. I could see on my Facebook feed that Hay Day was bringing in some new ideas like helpers and decided to have a look at the weekend. I have been playing every day but not as much as before. I do not want to get to the stage where I am fed up with it again. It’s a good game and the graphics are so well done. Greg can help with tree felling as you can see from my picture.. Rose and Ernest have their home up on the cliff and help with dairy and the animals. That has made such a difference. I can keep up well now with dairy and sugar and it’s funny watching them work around the farm. I have extended all I can by way of land , town and fishing areas. That was quite an achievement. Extending the tackle boxes is incredibly expensive but one extra slot can make such a difference . That was the other part of the problem. I was running out of lobster pots and those sorts of things so it was just silly. I had the diamonds so I got an extra slot and that has eased the pressure on the fishing area. This time round I am using the facilities as I need them rather than full production on all. It is working better. If I can’t fill orders then it’s bad luck but that isn’t happening much. It’s important to stop this game from making you feel like you cannot manage and cope. It’s a game. Take on the challenges but don’t push yourself to the point you don’t enjoy it. Rose and Ernest will drop extra things on their land for you to collect and that is helpful when you need saws, axes and items to expand storage. So, for me , this game has come back to being enjoyable again. It is now working positively and it’s good to see the game developers have listened to what have been genuine play issues.

Mac Apps

It’s exciting to find really good apps for your device or laptop. MacApps can be very reliable and helpful depending what you want to do with your MacBook. Beware apps which drain system resources . You can locate System Monitor in Spotlight to check which apps are heavy on system resources and would be draining your battery. Press the stop icon to stop them from running. My best cleaner for the MacBook is Onyx . It has been reliable over a number of years. The comments underneath the video mention Alfred and that is a very good app if it’s the sort of thing you want. The Mac lets you know about battery charge so I am not sure why you would want a third party one. The video lets you know about 30 good apps. You will probably know about Google Drive and Evernote but here are 28 other apps worth considering which you might not know about.

Thoughtful e-waste recycling

e-waste-furniture-3-jpg-650x0_q70_crop-smart

Art piece Rodrigo Alonso

Recycling e-waste creatively is a great idea but we need to pay attention to whether we are being thoughtful about it or not. Rodrigo Alonso has made e-waste furniture art pieces as a statement about e-waste and the fact we have so much to recycle. They are indestructable , though. They look really cool but they are literally are going to last forever because the e-waste is cast in epoxy resin. We need to find a different material which is biodegradable because these furniture pieces are seriously geeky and could be part of an e-waste management and recycling programme. It is worth reading the treehugger article on them so you understand the issues at stake. The Greenpeace site keeps you up to date on the green contributions and advancements of different electronics companies. This Pinterest board keeps you informed about creative recycling and what countries are doing to manage the e-waste problem. weburbanist has an amazing array of examples of how people have recycled e-waste in particular and other waste into lighting. From weburbanist there are links out to other eco friendly sites.

Recycling technology

 

Linux Tech Tips acknowledges the beginning of the video is a bit silly. Not as silly as actually letting your devices go to landfill so they can contaminate the soil and water in the area. This video is from Canada but it offers a sensible approach to how you recycle technology. In Australia we know about Mobile Muster for phones. You may or may not know about IKEA for recycling batteries and spent longlife globes. Batteries and ink cartridges can also be taken to Officeworks and some council offices and/or local libraries are battery drop off points. The video makes the point it is important to first gather what you no longer need and cannot be reused and purposed and then look in your local area to find how to recycle what. Yes, you have to make an effort. That’s why the video alludes to the fact that people will just put things in the bin because they can get away with it and because it is still effort on your part to recycle electronic and digital devices. I am lucky I have an e-waste recycling depot near my home now. It is also important to get to know your normal recycler because bit by bit they are coming onboard with e-waste. The e-waste recycler near me will recycle most things for free and then there are charges for things like electric sewing machines. The list is published online and is clear. The video also explains why you get these charges. Collecting and recycling e-waste is not that easy so now we need to make a big effort to try to streamline these processes. We need to make it easy for people to recycle e-waste and we need to find the ways to make it easier for the companies to process the e-waste resources which they recuperate. CRT monitors are heavy and not everyone would be able to load them in the boot of a car. Those weight issues with electronics need to be considered.

So the plan at the moment is:

Collect and separate the waste

Check online for e-waste recyclers near you

Check your local council e-waste programme

Check if your library recycles e-waste of any kind

Check if stores take back items for recycling

Check if stores are e-waste drop off points

 

Sustainable computing

We can do better. We are busy, time poor and run ragged at times but we can do better with our energy use and technology purchases. It’s thinking about it which creates the change and then mapping out a plan which will work, won’t confuse anyone and will make a difference. We can recycle a lot of technology now. E-Waste recyclers are not easy to find , though, necessarily, and are sometimes open for short amounts of time. My e-waste has now made it to organised groups of waste in my garage. I can now recycle in peace because it is all in one spot. I have just replaced one of my monitors with a new (secondhand) more energy efficient one. I had the money to do it so I looked for one at a price I could afford. We can’t just throw things out and replace them. Technology does not come cheaply but it is a case of looking around on the Net and finding the bargains and thinking about how energy efficient and recyclable the new purchase will be. Upgrading is a good option because it is cheaper than buying new and can be done in stages. You need to know someone who can upgrade or learn how to do some of the things yourself.  Yawarra has some good and workable tips as to how you can easily go about rethinking your computing so it is more sustainable. Deborah Howell the associate director of IT facilities at Cornell University has made a slideshow pdf available so that organisations can look at how Cornell goes about sustainable computing. I explained how I made my blogs carbon neutral quite a while ago.  We are doing better to create green technology so we need to keep  doing our bit to make computing and personal technology more sustainable.

Lifelong learning

Teachers do not take skills learning for granted in their students. They might, however, take them for granted in themselves. I read an article How to Transform Your Next Conference Takeaways into Real-Life Results and it made me think of myself and the teachers I had known who had been off to really thought provoking and enlightening conferences and then could not always find a way of implementing what they learned or allowing others to know what they knew. Sharing those newly learned skills. There is a way of learning new skills and applying them. In recent years I have always used social media to show and grow my ideas so that they become part of my thinking. There is the Conscious Competence Ladder by Noel Bursch which makes sense once you see it:

Unconsciously unskilled – we don’t know that we don’t have this skill, or that we need to learn it.
Consciously unskilled – we know that we don’t have this skill.
Consciously skilled– we know that we have this skill.
Unconsciously skilled – we don’t know that we have this skill (it just seems easy).

The video by Thomas Frank explains neurological developments as we learn , offers some good links and explains new skills acquisition and application well. He is also quite clear about the fact the skills and knowledge you acquire from effective teaching at school can be applied to lifelong learning.  I was laughing when he got to the bit when actually standing on the skateboard nails it! It’s true. Sometimes you have to make the obvious first step and working that out takes a bit of planning sometimes. No teacher will overlook that when they are teaching.  You have to download the app, send that email, work out your first sentence or simply turn on your laptop.

It’s important to have a plan for applying a strategy if you want to learn something or you want to teach someone else.

1. What is the first step?
2. What practice do you/they need?
3. What are the benefits, the positives, the good impacts of knowing?
4. Do you/they need to find more help on a particular thing?
5. Do you/they know what you/they don’t know?
6. What are the road blocks/potholes/implementation dips?
7. Master the first thing first.
8. Have a plan for getting to the next thing.
9. Map out your/their learning journey.
10. Reward yourself/them along the way.

AND THEN…look back and see how far you have come. Find a way to document the journey. Might be a diary, journal, video, images, blog but make sure the learning journey is clearly documented along the way because that is the biggest reward of all: seeing how far you have come. Reflection is how you know you know.

3D Paint

 

Windows 10 is about to go 3D with its Paint programme. The video shows the sorts of things it can do even if it is a bit sugary sweet. The website is better. 3D is where it is all headed and we shall have the tools to do it which will make us think 3D instead of 2D. We are no longer the flat planet even if all our icons and interfaces have gone that way. Bit odd really, but 2D allows for greater speed and delivery and a less cluttered interface.  I am looking forward to this update and I have a 3D monitor now so all is good.

 

Windows 10 Creators Update 

Origami Design Studio

Origami  Studio is about design prototyping, is used by Facebook and Robert Lang is known as Mr. Origami. It has been around for a while . Currently it has been upgraded and polished  so that it runs on i devices . There are tutorials which help you master the different aspects and functions of it. Robert Lang has a long history of origami interest , skills and of the mathematical foundation of this ancient art of paper folding. There is a review of Origami Studio here which explains how they benefited from Deign Studio prototyping on Facebook. There is a starter tutorial here but he sound quality isn’t the best. There is a Mac version and iPhone/iPad version. So far nothing for Android or PCs.

Ergonomics month

America is having an ergonomics month. Not a bad idea given we are all tethered to our devices and need to be mindful of how this impacts on our bodies. I got that information courtesy of The Ergonomic Times which is worth keeping up to date with. I regularly blog about ergonomics because we use different devices. They absorb us and then we may forget what that is doing to us. There is some really good and useful ergonomic quick advice on Humanscale which will help you to do an easy overview of your ergonomic approach to workspaces. There is also an interesting article about how the Aeron chair has had a 21st century makeover. We can do things better because we have technology and access to data:

Today’s designers have access to more data, newer materials, and more sophisticated manufacturing capabilities, and those all factored into the new Aeron.”

fastcodesign.com

Get ready for Hallowe’en

I’ll make this the last post in my Halloween trilogy. It’s a repost from 2013 and worth it because it has a good message. 

What I like about this clip is that it teaches whoever is watching it that you cannot believe everything on the internet! Love that thought. It also teaches the viewer not to worry about that but to just find the work around and if you are providing information for internet readers and viewers, to provide something authentic and workable. For that reason , the clip is well worthwhile watching as a reminder to provide quality internet content and to just move on if you find dud information. Not even bother about it. These little Hallowe’en glow jars are simple and easy to make and maybe someone who is good at chemistry can work out why the other ones didn’t work. Younger children would need to be supervised as they made these glow jars but they are a fun thing to do for Hallowe’en or any other festive occasion or that matter. To build on this in class or at home there are plenty of Hallowe’en resources on the Teaching Ideas site which encompass multiple teaching and learning modes.

Halloween activities

 

I saw some of the black lights in the hardware store last week and wondered why on earth you would need them. Now I know. They have used them to good Halloween effect in this video. These are all activities which children can do safely under supervision and have fun. Nice way to learn some science!

Giphy has some nice Halloween gifs to decorate digital projects.

 

Halloween Science

If you like to mark the occasion of Halloween with something a bit different, then this video shows some interesting little things to do which allow you to combine science with Halloween events. Making things glow tends to be something which attracts attention and creates curiosity.
witch icon IconArchive has a nice selection of Halloween icons to decorate your creations.

Be more creative

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is

“a Doctor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and has worked extensively as a Fortune 500 consultant in the biotechnology industry and with some of the world’s leading corporations, including Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Roche and Genentech. He has also presented at many of the world’s premier academic institutions, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, The Pasteur Institute and The Curie Institute.”

Dr. Isaiah Hankel 

He grew up in rural Idaho and was diagnosed with ADHD and has worked through the challenges of this to become who he is today. He understands what it means  to:

3.2  Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

He challenges the internal editor we all have where we are talking ourselves down, criticising ourselves, blocking ourselves. He looks at how to get past that and onto creating so we have something to show and have. He looks at how we need to let go and just do whatever we want to do without fear of criticism or failure. Just doing. He then looks at how you change and shape that into something successful by using constructive criticism, rational thought and reason to ensure you have the best you can do. Drafting is part of his process. He gets rid of the roadblocks to learning, focuses on productivity and then insists you stand back a take a long, hard look at what you have done to ensure it is your best. He achieves because he shares his ideas world wide. He uses social media to share his ideas  and to get feedback and ideas for growth but at no stage is he thinking near enough is good enough. The first part of the process where you create freely and uninterruptedly is an unfettered growth phase. The second phase uses your skills and ideas. The third phase is critical thinking and learning how to be even better than you thought you could be. Valuing improvement.

Never turn a page again

This video is only 1 minute 25 seconds and yet, by the end of it I had forgotten what it was meant to be about. Lost in learning! Lost in intrigue. Lost in the wonder of all that was occurring. It’s all physics. It’s a video which makes people want to know and find things out. On top of that, it is funny. It’s a carefully planned, well thought out , high impact lesson. It would have taken brainstorming, discussion, trial runs. There would have been a feedback loop and collaboration. It’s a video which arouses a lot of curiosity and engages the audience. A one minute video can do a lot!

One minute videos are the thing

With video , you can achieve so much in one minute whether it’s instructional or informational. Snapchat knows it. Instagram knows it. Facebook is revisiting it and YouTube and Vimeo are embracing it. One of our local councils used to have a one minute video competition for 16-25 year olds but appears to have stopped it after last year. The featured video was designed to help the aspiring video makers for that competition in 2013. Like the 140 characters of Twitter, a one minute video is a skills and competencies challenge which disciplines  thinking and approach. When you have limits like that you have to think, plan and create very carefully. It forces you to have a laser focus on optimum content delivery and visual presentation. There are plenty of sites to help and inspire you with one minute videos:

oneminutewonders

one minute videos on YouTube

one minute travel films

one minute videos on Vimeo

how to make a one minute video

Hatching chickens in glass

This Japanese school has allowed its students to really find out about life. It seems to be being done as a reality TV show where there are people looking on and commenting as though they are on a panel. It’s an interesting way of getting science into the foreground and making it central to normal daily activities. The students seem to be engrossed and excited. I can remember we grew broad beans and that was exciting! Growing your own chicken would be extraordinary in every sense of the word. I wonder what happens to the chickens next and who looks after them? This is taking ICT to a whole new level.

Messing with monitors

display settingsI bought a new , secondhand LG Cinema 3D D2542 monitor because I wanted to replace my old VGA only monitor which had served me well. I then moved the acer T230H into the second monitor position. Working on monitors is not my favourite job. The plugs and connections are down underneath at the back which is awkward to say the least. You can’t see anything easily and it’s a lot of fiddling around. I am not sure why they cannot be on the side or the back as on a TV set but there has to be a logical reason or they wouldn’t persist.

As the main monitor the acer T230H was crystal clear and very high definition. As the second monitor it is duller and this appears to be a common problem which has not been resolved. I am still working on it. There has to be a solution. With monitors there are so many things to consider.

On both the monitors I first adjusted the settings on the monitors themselves. With the LG that meant turning off all the 3D settings which were making the picture blurry. With the acer I have it set to video quality. I’d prefer a slider bar for brightness because essentially

Dual Monitorsthat is the issue.

With the acer monitor I adjusted the size of the text and apps in the display setting on Windows 10  under the settings icon in the start menu and that is such a convenient utility for the second monitor. For both the monitors I went into control panel appearance and then advanced settings and then the monitor tab to ensure they were both running at 60 Hz. The LG had set itself to 23Hz for some reason. I also adjusted the LG in the Radeon widget . I then downloaded drivers for the LG and rebooted. It was picture perfect now as a 2D monitor.

The acer is running on a DVI connection and the LG is running on HDMI. The last thing I can think of doing is swapping cables and also trying a VGA cable to the acer. It is a bit annoying I can only get it this far so I am hoping to find the solution. As it stands, though, I love my new, cool set up.

Grow social media

Growing social media sites isn’t really hard. You don’t have to be a business or an entrepreneur to build your online social media image.  There is a knack to it , though. It is important to be yourself, or at least, a genuine part of yourself. You are projecting an image so it’s a case of deciding which part of you you wish to project. There are also images which always work. Yes, the adorable kittens and puppies, but also images and videos which strike a chord in humanity or which make people see things quite differently. When you are on social media sites then the social is important. It is also important to connect your social media sites to a blog /blogs/ Facebook page. A lot of people now have a public Facebook page which is not their original /personal Facebook page. That seems to be working well. When you make a blogpost you can advertise it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat/Pinterest. Some people also email content too. Social media and blogging can be part of creating a very solid online presence and image. I don’t connect my own Facebook page to anything else and am currently thinking about whether to make a public Facebook page. So what are my tips?

  1. Be friendly
  2. Make positive and genuine comments
  3. Follow a variety of people
  4. Make sure your images are clear (400 x 400    pixels approx)
  5. Work methodically on the image you want to project
  6. Get the right hashtags and notice what is current popular hashtag format
  7. Post regularly
  8. Link your sites to a blog
  9. Look carefully at what you like and you react to and use those ideas
  10. Be helpful

Helene inbetween has some detailed and very helpful ideas for building social media sites.

iOS 10.0.02

Normally, I do not update anything until the updates have been around for a while and they have fixed the issues. I decided to live dangerously  recently and update my iPad Air to 10.0.01 .  Using the home button to bring up the passcode screen was a bit of a surprise. Ooh, wow, back to clicking!  So over gestures because you can unintentionally gesture and create unsolicited random happenings which is not very slick. Then again, the gestures can achieve some things quickly and cleverly. The only problem I had with 10.0.01 was sound issues on some videos especially if they were on Facebook. Since technology has been buggy now for a while, no matter what you use, I wasn’t particularly bothered. My life will not collapse because I can’t hear a video. Other than that I thought 10 was really smooth and looked good. I felt like it was an upgrade. 10.0.02 came hot on the heals of 10.0.01 because some people had had some issues with it. It had interfered with  phone  functionality in particular. On my iPad Air  with 10.0.02 nothing much has changed other than now Flipboard won’t slide properly onto the next screen when I am reading an article. It also takes longer to load the magazines. It will get fixed eventually and all will be well. I have different devices and so if one isn’t working I use another. The real problem occurs when the device is critical to your way of life or work and it is not functioning. I always have a spare phone or computer  but if I had a device which was specifically set up for my life or work then I would find the bugginess of everything more than frustrating. MacWorld UK has a good review of iOS 10.

iPal

iPal takes robots to a whole new level and into a new arena. It is designed to be a baby sitter and is called a social robot. Wires and plastic are neither social nor sociable. The premise is people already use iPads and iPhones to babysit children and so this robot is better because it is more interactive. People have used televisions to babysit children. I remember an article about junior primary teachers attaching microphones to themselves because the children would only respond to a voice which sounded electronic. I also taught a boy once whose accent and cadence were very distinct but I couldn’t place where it came from . One night I could hear the television in the background and there was the voice and the accent. It was a cartoon character. Julie Carrie Wong discusses this robot in a well composed article in The Guardian:

‘This is awful’: robot can keep children occupied for hours without supervision

It is also discussed on quartz

These sorts of technological developments are going to happen. It is important we discuss them and understand their advantages and disadvantages. A robot cannot replace a person in terms of care but there may well be some really good uses for this robot.

The future of education

The future of education is in the hands of teachers like John Spencer:

My goal is simple.
I want to make something every day.

In the past it’s meant student-led documentaries, murals, and coding projects. It’s meant building a blogging platform or writing a children’s book. And as a dad, it’s meant making pillow forts.

Some days I make things.
Other days I make a difference.
But on my best days, I get to do both.

I have a crazy idea that all people are creative and that schools should be a bastion of creativity and wonder and so here’s where I experiment and make things and share my ideas on life, learning, and the creative journey.”

John Spencer YouTube Channel

By having personal goals which develop his own education, by sharing those goals and ideas and gathering feedback he has become a dynamic force as a teacher and educator. He has developed a lot of his ideas through blogging but has since branched out into his YouTube channel . You can read the interview with him about Inside Education Blogging on TeachHub.

His video makes the point in his video that the future of education is in your classroom and that you have everything you need right there. Couldn’t agree with him more. The classroom partnerships in education and learning/teaching are what drive unpacking potential, innovation and creativity. An enthusiastic teacher sows seeds and develops curiosity. All of that needs to be based on something, though, and curriculum needs to be well thought out and considered. The cry from many teachers is that they want time to explore the ideas and innovations coming out in class. There would be others who would not want to be with thirty students, thirty devices and no clear plan. All of this needs to be discussed. These days if students do not see the value in learning they just avoid it and pay the price down the track. Others bypass it and use the online materials and avenues to develop their ideas and learning. John Spencer knows a lot about technology and he knows a lot because he has made a commitment to making things and making a difference. That kind of make up in a personality will engage others because they can. They are not short of hooks , ideas and knowledge.

Google searches

Google brains

Image: Is Google rewiring our brains? 

There is certainly evidence to suggest that using Google will in fact use more of your brain and encourage more thinking than just reading print. The more you become comfortable in searches the more you interact and stimulate more areas of your brain. Dr. Moody is clear to point out that we shouldn’t assume it is just Google because she wants to research more about this:

“Now there are two different schools of thought on this. One is that when you first learn a task, you require greater activity and more attention, and that one could expect higher levels of activity if you were new at something. People with expertise can actually show decreases in their functional MRI pattern of activity. But what it seems here is that while engaging in internet searching, you are still very actively engaging these decision-making areas and it might be that the naive people are overwhelmed by the situation and are just treating it like a book – you’re still not trying to integrate the information, they’re reading it as though they were reading a book.

There’s one other interpretation as well, and that is that internet-naive people just have a different pattern of wiring in their brains from those who are internet-savvy – people who prefer using the internet and enjoy that mode of reading are wired differently from the internet-naive people. And we can’t distinguish that in this study, but that is also a possibility.”

Is Google rewiring our Brains? 

There is also research going to to discover exactly what is happening with children and young adults who are always doing searches, playing games and living in a digital, interactive world. As Dr. Moody points out, rewiring the brain can sound alarming but it is, in fact how we learn.

Google searchI have certainly been developing my Google brains since the advent of the Adelaide storms last week and the electricity pylon collapses. Someone credible said we had pylon collapses in the 70s or early 80s. I cannot seem to find a reference. Google is set up to cover current and topical information first so with this search I had to put -Westgate because there are bridge pylons too. I had to put -Adelaide and -storms because we have had so much news and social media coverage from the storms and then I have had -Bougainville because there is so much to do with powers pylons there. I have found no reference to collapsed pylons before in Adelaide. It means I am using the wrong words. I put power pylons in inverted commas so that those words would be together. I can try electricity pylons in inverted commas. I have said before on this blog that one of the things I do is try and break Google. It’s just a game to see if I can baffle Google. The research about the pylons , though, is serious. I actually want to know the answer. It would have been on our news in the late 70s or early 80s so there has to be a reference? I have tried twisted pylons, collapsed pylons, damaged pylons. Nothing. What has been happening as I do it, though, is I am finding out about other things and how to improve my searches. It has been a real thinking exercise.

Because we all need clipart

Technology

Image: Clipart Kid

We all need clipart from time to time. When I find a good site I put it on my blog . Clipart Kid has a lot of free, useful clipart. It clearly marks any clipart which is not for free use which is helpful. Sites need to be very clear what is free and what isn’t. The site also has some watermarked clipart which may or may not interest you. I like the approach where the boundaries are clear.

Picture Graphs

Young children are often taught data collection and data interpretation by using picture graphs. It gets across some basic ideas and concepts about data visually. Rebecca Peacock’s video is also teaching literacy because The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a well known children’s story. Her video is well suited to a flipped classroom approach. There is also a maker approach to education these days too where students are encouraged to make things and use technology to further their ideas and understanding. The making aspect of learning is to engage the brain through hands on involvement in a process .

Use Crayons To Share Data Between Digital Computer And Human Mind is a well thought out tutorial on instructables.com and is well worth the read. The reason for the tutorial is to cover what the author sees as a sizeable gap in allowing humans to understand data collection and the meaning of data:

A missing element here is a type of data that a human can physically create using only their mind and body and basic art tools, can also read using the same, and that a computer can both read using *very* simple code and write using simple hardware, such as a set of markers on springs with coils and magnets to drive them, which could easily be made from trash and found items.

The tutorial is very much designed along an appreciative inquiry model and has a lot to recommend it in terms of developing cognitive ability and a real understanding of data collection and code. It is from someone who did a computer science course and didn’t get it. I did a database course and didn’t get it but got distinctions in all the other related courses and so I wasn’t failed. The tutor could see I could understand a lot to do with computers, just not what I was being asked to do with databases. I was not allowed to show her that I had constructed databases of my own. I was expected to do the exercises we were given in order to get a pass in databases. I suspect the same with the person who has created this instructable about using crayons and code. It is important to use a variety of methods to help people understand data collection and how it works. That is critical: teaching students according to their needs. It is something we need to play around with more and find out more and better ways of teaching things related to data. For some reason I can create my own databases but I can’t created them from data I am given. It drives me crazy and I get it wrong. I don’t actually care how many brown shoes were ordered. Other people will have different saturation points in learning. Maybe crayons are the answer.

Create understanding

information-vs-understanding

Image : The Rapid e-learning blog

The performance based e-learning approach is how you create understanding and a way forward. Not just for students but for yourself as a teacher as well. I have written regularly about creating the create content – share – get feedback – grow content approach which is the tried and true method of the internet.  Personalised learning is possible with technology and so everyone can be included in the learning loop and the content exploration loop. Students can explore their learning and knowledge in different ways and so , as long as the feedback loop is there, teachers can see more easily whether students are progressing in their skills and knowledge. Students can give feedback too which will enable teachers to deliver content in a more accessible way.  The Rapid e-learning blog explains performance based learning clearly and gives some good tips. it is important that students can see evidence of their learning. it is important that they can put those new skills to the test. Christopher Pappas has also written a very good post on the elearning Industry site:

The Ultimate Performance-Based eLearning Guide For Instructional Designers

Again it is a very clear explanation of how to go about using technology and teaching guidelines in order to achieve  sound performance which can be further enhanced and encouraged.

Google Translate for Teachers

Lex Prin is very popular on YouTube and he only put this clip up on 23/9 and he is already getting to his 50,000 views. Living proof you can teach, learn , share and connect from anywhere , even your car. We have mobile devices and connectivity. The thought , though, you could use your mobile phone to rewrite and filter your thoughts into something which is more socially acceptable is a great one. One we all wish for. Teachers are not  the only people employed in a position where they have to sometimes rephrase what they are thinking to couch it in a more dulcet way. Why can’t our phones do this for us? Why isn’t there an app for that? We have all sorts of apps for productivity, time management, learning, skills development. We now need apps for personal and social capability! I thank the Teachers Registration Board of South Australia for sharing this video on my Facebook feed this morning.

History apps

Titanic There are some really good histoy apps around for iOS. Some of them may well have Android versions if you check. HistoryApps has a number of freed educational history apps which seem to be for younger children or those young at heart. TechRadar recommends apps for an older age group but most of them seem to be paid apps. There are two free ones , though, which are well endorsed: National Geographic’s Titanic and Streetmuseum’s Londinium. Timeline Eons is another really good free app for history. eLearningIndustry has free apps for teaching American history.

Pixntell

Pixntell has been around for a while but apps like this one probably need to come back into fashion again. The world has moved from an event driven approach to a narrative constructed one. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and then gadgets like action cameras are all about recording your own narrative. The belief is that everyone has a story to tell and so short videos are now the thing. Pixntell is a free app which easily converts images into a quick video which you can share. It was designed as an educational app but we really have moved on to anywhere anytime learning and so it’s an app for anyone. There is a small fee in terms of an in app purchase to remove the watermark.

iPad magician

The world has moved on. Magicians have always been there and held everyone in their thrall. They have always been dramatic and had some interesting props. The next generation of magicians can just sit there and talk with an iPad. They are not only a productivity tool anymore. They can create illusions and we now have people who understand them so well they can manipulate them in magical ways. Wouldn’t that be a fun way to teach in class?! You can find Simon Pierro on his iOS Magic channel on You Tube.

Are YouTubers the next gen teachers?

Les tutos de Huito came up as part of a  discussion on the French news programme TFI which comes up on my Facebook feed whether YouTubers were the nextgen Teachers.  They had a variety of popular instructional clips and Huito was one of the featured YouTubers. The students interviewed loved his clips and found them very helpful and they are. They would be great as part of a flipped classroom approach or even to use a clip in class and develop it further. These sorts of clips encourage independent learning and that is what you are always trying to aim for – lifelong learning techniques. Personalised learning. Is it a good methodology to teach languages? The students spoke for themselves. Yes. I taught languages for 42 years and this is one of the most successful ways of getting students to participate in learning languages. You  have to run the lesson bilingually and as a natural conversation. Why? So many students feel embarrassed/bad/anxious/inadequate when they are learning a language. The trick is to mix their own language in with the new one and increasingly leave the first language out of it but to pop it back in as you are talking to facilitate conversation. Running the two has the advantage of supporting bilingual brain development. You then celebrate that you spoke for 5, 10, 20 mins in the target language. A whole lesson. You can set the goal, okay, I am going to speak in French for 5 minutes and you will do your best to understand what I am saying and you will tell me after what you understood. With technology it is so easy – you can draw on the IWB (however badly), you can show pictures or put up words or sentences. This all comes down to planning. Huito has thought out what he is presenting. He has his explanations in French to allay learner fears and he focuses on small amounts of English which he repeats to ensure there is a linguistic ease and facility for the learner. Bit by bit the learner will get English and then eventually will move on to immersion language videos. Most need this bilingual conversational step . It works. The more ways students have of learning then the better it will be. Clips like this are part of a learning and teaching toolkit.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry

 

Whether you want to be doing and Inquiry or an Enquiry is up to you. I tend to think Inquiry is a formal research based investigation. The two spellings tend to be interchangeable these days. Most teachers would know about inquiry based learning and a lot of businesses and organisations would know about appreciative inquiry. Home schooling has favoured appreciative inquiry. The model is not just about effecting change in an organisation. It’s about creating a positive model to grow learning and knowledge and that in itself probably will stimulate change because you are working collaboratively to find solutions to problems and to build knowledge. Toby Elwin explains the principles really well in his blog post. Appreciative Inquiry  really isn’t just about changing organisations , though. It’s about changing knowledge and knowing. Where it reads corporate you could read your name, your family’s name, your class’s name:

AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul– and visions of valued and possible futures.

What is Appreciative Inquiry Commons

The image on this post comes from sidewaysthought and Chad Renando has a more personal look at the value  of appreciative inquiry :

I know which path I would take if I had to choose between two states of being: focusing on solving problems or reflecting on what is positive, aspiring towards a positive future, and identifying the most effective path to get there.

It’s about changing your frame of reference to a more positive approach. Looking at what is there and you already know. Finding out what you can from other sources. Working with others to look at the possibilities. Working out what is feasible and viable and then delivering on that.

From an education point of view Professor Louis Stoll published a detailed paper recently entitled Enhancing teaching and learning through enquiry-based collaborative R&D . It is available through your library or if you search Google you will find the link to the downloadable pdf file.  She discusses Inquiry from the point of view of leadership and pedagogy and in the end there are four areas of impact but you need to read the whole paper:

Appreciative Inquiry

Stoll, Louise & Centre for Strategic Education (Vic.) (issuing body.) 2015, Enhancing teaching and learning through enquiry-based collaborative R&D, East Melbourne, Victoria Centre for Strategic Education

 

The video explains it more from a business model perspective. Appreciative Inquiry is everywhere . It is how we need to be thinking about any approach to change, whether it’s organisational change, personal change or a change in knowledge brought about by learning. The Lutheran Education System has a lutheran-education-queensland-inquiry-based-learning broadsheet which gives an excellent overview of the inquiry based model and its links to the National Research Council and the Australian National Curriculum. If you make it an appreciative inquiry then the research is there to prove just what a powerful teaching and learning tool that is.

Technology in perspective

Technology has no claim to superiority by divine right. Rhod Gilbert is a well known Welsh comedian who has played in the Comedy Roadshow and the Edinburgh Comedy Festival . His way of looking at electronic toothbrushes is probably how we should all be questioning technology and gadgets. If they are not value added in an educational sense then we need to question their value in our life. Is technology improving what we do? Is it taking what we do to a higher level? Is it challenging us to improve our thinking? Our skills? Our knowledge? E-ticketing has been a great addition to the world because it streamlines everything and makes it so easy. Video learning has been a great addition to personalised learning because with a one minute video you can learn something quickly. With a five minute video you can master a technique or concept. With a video course you can know so much more than you did before you started it. That is if they are well thought out and well constructed. It took me 5 minutes online last night to help someone out who couldn’t think their way through something. Not because they were stupid but because they were anxious. It was just chance I was online at the same time and our paths crossed.That, though, is one of the gifts of current technology.  In 2016 technology can bridge so many gaps if it’s done right. It can lift people up. That’s education. It’s deliberate and well thought out.

In defence of libraries

Noarlunga Library It’s the Noarlunga Library’s fault I haven’t been to a library in 20 years! I used to be at the library every week and it was a great place for my daughter . They played their part in ensuring she loved books and reading. She even went back as a volunteer when she was older. It was a great library then with all the foreign language books, the wealth of health books,computing texts, the craft and art books and the massive choice of fiction. They installed computers and allowed us access to this new Internet thing. I booked the two of us in for an hour at a time and we were lost in Netscape and just loved it, so much so I bought my IBM 486 computer and suddenly we could find everything online and were spending lot of time online .The library became superfluous to requirements. Last Wednesday was foul weather in Adelaide and I had the urge to go back to the library to see what had happened to it. It is an airy, well thought out space now. There are not so many books but there are more electronic media, magazines and computers. They even had some retro computers in their own special spot which were fully utilised as flat screens sat idle and unpopular. That was really interesting. There were more magazines and they were really well organised and covered a wide variety of interests. The staff set me up well and quickly and I was borrowing in no time. I also had an update and explanation of how it all works online now. Libraries are linked and so you can book resources you search and they will come to your nearest library. You can read books online or download them to a compatible reader. What interested me as I wandered was there was a map of the proposed changes to the Port Noarlunga foreshore to include and upgraded walking trail. It was clearly explained, there were photographs and it was information worth seeing. There was a lot of art work featured too. It wasn’t overly busy, probably because of the weather. Everyone there was engrossed in what they were doing. I came out with a number of books and some magazines which have already gone to work really hard in my life with the ideas they have brought me. A book or magazine brings specific content which is curated in a careful way. It is focused learning and focused presentation of material. Books have things which are not necessarily on the internet. It’s another way to see the ideas and creativity of others. The library is now going to be a regular part of my life because it is a learning space which allows you to explore in your own way.It is truly about personalised learning. I am still discovering the online part of it but I can see that will help broaden and deepen my searches and access to information. On a computer you are available to others. In a library you are available to yourself and that thought struck me clearly. Libraries are there for you and your own self development and that has been lost in the passion for technology . Originally, computing was just for me on my IBM 486 but now it has become a place where I am expected to be there. I am used to it and do well with technology but it was lovely to just have me time in the library where my learning needs are met uninterrupted and without any expectations other than my own . That is a library’s biggest asset in 2016.

Prisma app

 

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Original iPad Air picture

I have just downloaded the free Prisma app onto my iPad and I love it already. The effects are classier than other photo apps I have seen and so they suit design purposes . You would be able to create a better thematic or atmospheric approach with your images and, as a result , Prisma would be indispensable for projects and presentations. You can take your ordinary photos and instantly give them aesthetic appeal. There are people who can use Adobe Photoshop and similar and turn out the most amazingly artistic  images. I’m not one of them . I am always on the look out for things which will lift my artistic input and enable me to create things which have a sense of style. The effects are varied and interesting and so it’s an app which can go to work in different settings and arenas. The Prisma site is where you can download both the Android and iOS versions. It took a little while to settle in on the iPad. I downloaded it and then it took a couple of minutes to organise itself.

 

 

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Effect 2 Love this!

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Effect 1

Offtime app

The Offtime app might be worth exploring if you are trying to find the elusive work-life balance and find your phone distracts you. It is free but there are in app purchases which you might want to explore before you download the app. Basically, you can turn your phone off for a certain amount of time but can allow certain people to contact you in that time. It’s an app from Germany  and has been around for about 3 years now. Tech Crunch has a comprehensive review of it here. You can download it here. It has had sound reviews across the net and is probably worth at least considering . The official Offtime site explains it all very clearly. The iPhone version appears to be paid and not as versatile as the Android version.

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