Some see it as trendy twaddle. Some see it as beneath them. Others think is is vapid nonsense and then there are those who have embraced gamifying the classroom. Teachers embraced books, pens and paper, film, video, internet, Microsoft Office…time to really look at how gaming principles can enhance and improve learning. They are the new learning currency. TeachThought has one of the best articles I have seen explaining some of the principles behind implementing and succeeding with a gamification approach. 6 Factors of Classroom Gamification explores some of the concepts and then practical ways of using these gaming ideas to create the impact of good learning. I have to confess I used to think computer games were silly twaddle. I didn’t think they were serious learning. You don’t want to be so open minded your brains fall out nor do you want to be so closed minded you block knowledge and learning. I have to say MyPlayCity was a site which helped get me going. I was horrified with the choices and couldn’t find anything I liked and that was just reinforcing my prejudices about games. The site worked with me and nurtured me so I could find things I liked. As it turns out I like games where you build cities, farms etc, hidden object games, puzzle and word games. I have now been playing games for a few years and have found I can be successful at it. You have to play games to understand how they are teaching you to learn very effectively. They start you off small and simply, they let you lean, they lead you by the nose, they then teach you how not to be conned, ripped off and ,basically, stupid. They encourage and reward you. You then get to the stage where you can take control of the game and play it your way. Helsinki based Supercell is the current king of mobile gaming, with its 8.5 million players a day generating at least $2.4 million just about every day. Two games – Clash of Clans and HayDay are responsible for this. The Forbes site has a good run down on the company and the article explains why the games are so successful . At the core of it is the Australian National Curriculum Personal and Social Capability and that in itself is a good reason to be looking at a gaming approach in class to help current students learn in a way which is so familiar to them. HayDay has been a really different game for me to play and I have learned a lot. I had to battle the first 14 levels so I didn’t run out of storage, get bullied into buying diamonds to bail me out or get swamped by too much to do. I am now up to level 33 and am in control of the game. I have learned the tips, tricks and intricacies. I can grow the game in my own way and it’s a game I can pick up and put down. The cognitive flow is there, the inpiration is there and the challenges are there. It is a complex game which requires thinking and flexibility. It is also a game where you get community support whether you belong to a network or not so there is a really good social aspect to the game. Games are a way of life now as were books, TV and film. We need to use them to our asvantage.
I am a big desktop user and am pretty labour intensive when it comes to desktops. My desktop never stops working and doing so it has been interesting to have a week away from it so see what it really means in my life. I have had 10 minutes in the morning and evening to do banking, emails, Facebook check and whatever else I can fit in. No cheating just the plan. Some would call it a detox but I have been using my iPad because it’s portable. What have I learnt?
1. I do not trust tablets and phones for internet banking.
2. Webmail is pretty ordinary compared with functionality of desktop email client.
3. I am a consumer on an iPad and can’t produce in a quality way on a tablet.
4. So easy just to get out a tablet and have a quick flick around things.
5. I really am connected on the Net and miss the internet connections.
6. Tablet Twitter is pretty good.
7. Tweetdeck on desktop gives you 360 degree vision and overview
8. I can still learn to code no matter what the device
9. It has been good to have a break because I now have a different picture of how technology fits into my life.
10. Desktops are juggernauts compared with tablets but I have a more diverse experience on desktop.
Creatubbles is a safe online site for students/children to share their creative and artistic skills. There is teacher support on the site too. That is all I can say. You need to take a look and see if it suits your purposes.
Google is celebrating its 17th birthday and has a lovely image of retro technology. I have a nice purple lava lamp next to my computer. My old csi monitors are in the garage waiting until I can lift them to recycle them. Why did we ever use such hefty monitors? My retro laptop comes out occasionally and I have an old word processor which prints one line at a time to thermal paper.
But what about the save icon? I have floppy disks.I know what they are. I regret not having a floppy drive any longer. 1.44MB of data was huge. How did we manage all that storage? Yet the floppy icon lives on as the save icon. How many will still know what it represents? How many will have seen a floppy disk? Isn’t it time to move on and upgrade the save icon to something more relevant?
According to Workplace-Communication.Com there are 55 types of electronic communication. How many are you familiar with? How many do you use? Which ones have students mastered? Are there any missing? What purpose does each form of communication have and what is its impact? How do you alter the impact? How do you use each of these forms of communication effectively? The site discusses a number of issues and ideas. As teachers we need to be in control of electronic communication and we need to ensure students are getting the positives out of it and that they too have mastered the various forms of electronic communication. Literacy in the 21st century is demanding . The choices are impressive and each choice creates a different impact both on the net and for the receiver. Communicating electronically is about using the best tool for the job and then experimenting to see how you can change the impact. An example? I don’t read emails with a high priority alert any sooner than any other email. I decide what is a high priority in my packed agenda not someone else because they don’t have my life and my day. We need to use alerts and notifications better in schools. The world runs on streaming information and then alerting you to events and changes. In a school context there is a need for a high priority form of communication with an appropriate icon. While we are shifting outside time frames and walls we need to develop suitable protocols through apps, LMSs and email and smartphones which ensure we get the information flowing by way of content and then highlighting events, deadlines, priorities via alerts. Then there needs to be an accepted form of electronic communication for emergencies and emergency information. Things to think about and things to master – literacy first then functionality.It’s not about being tied to work 27/7. Effectively developed and implemented electronic communication saves time and effort and is not time consuming or debilitating.
BBC 4 has some intelligent podcasts on digital learning and how it impacts classrooms and universities.The discussions and information are enlightening. There are other podcasts on the site which address other subjects which you might like to listen to.
Digital literacy isn’t new. We have had computers in schools since the 80s. We have mobile phones since the 90s. The big shift was in the 90s. It has only really been since 2009 that there has been a massive push to get technology up and running in classrooms – all classrooms. Not just a computer room for occasional use. In Australia we have made a big commitment to this and used a lot of time , energy and thinking to ensure our students are comfortable with technology and digitally literate. So what is the headline?
If you read the article it suggests technology doesn’t teach literacy – teachers do. The article did not highlight the real strength of Australian schools for which we do need recognition. It has been hard work . There have been numerous stakeholders and the level of collaboration across school communities and key technology providers and advisers has been a J learning curve and pretty impressive:
“By analysing international test results for 15-year-olds, the OECD found Australians perform significantly above the average in digital reading, and in particular, have strong web-browsing skills, are better able to plan and execute a search, evaluate the usefulness of information, and assess the credibility of sources online.”
We need recognition for that but we are also aware we are at the stage now where we can enhance and improve what we are doing. Getting the juggernaut rolling was a monumental team effort and the best learning and teaching I have seen in education. I have seen a lot of rollouts in 42 years as a teacher. The technology roll out has been a demanding and appropriate learning programme for teachers because they have been challenged very thoroughly and tested really well.
For this reason I think we need to be careful about what we say about technology and literacy. Everything in books is on the net. A computer , its application and use , is far more demanding than any print based course both as a teacher and learner. The literacy demands are complex and can be met but it is not as easy as getting out a book and putting pen to paper. Computers and mobile technology offer so many different forms of communication and each has to be weighed up, quantified and analysed. Additionally, as teachers, we have been providing a significant role in language development. Technology has been critical in evening the playing field in this area. In Australia , differentiation of the curriculum really matters. Our classes comprise students from different cultures, language backgrounds and we include students like those on the autism spectrum and with special needs. We include everyone as much as we can because we have a belief that is right. We have become quite expert in creating learning environments for all sorts of students because it is about their needs.There has been a better accommodation of a broader range of students in classroom because technology has helped us create and find suitable materials. We have been working on personal learning plans and technology has facilitated that.
National and international tests are important and the results are always interesting but drawing hasty or illogical connections from results is not doing us or the testing justice.
- What was being tested when the OECD tested for literacy?
- How were these tests performed?
- Were the tests performed so students could operate from their natural strengths?
- Did they look at the composition of classes across countries?
- In Australia we are teaching students who have English as a first, second, third, fourth and even fifth language. Did we account for that in our testing?
- Were students allowed to take the test in their strongest language?
- We have a highly transient world population for all sorts of reasons. Were those factors considered?
We need to ask the questions, get the answers and look at how we can use technology to improve what needs improving. We have access to everything. How we effectively use that is what teaching is about.
Know your ideal technology lesson
Is it something you have seen on the internet? In someone else’s classroom? Read about? Just imagined all by yourself? You are creative, you can imagine. You are a teacher. What does your best technology lesson look like? Are all the students doing the same thing? Are they using paint programs? Research? Video? Are they creators or consumers? Are they blogging about it? Sharing their ideas? Initially I wanted my students to get past word documents. I wanted them to create stunning live presentations.
Think about how you can put your ideas into action. Think about the sorts of resources you need. Do you need apps? Software? What hardware do you need? What do you need to be able to do to teach what you want your students to do? See yourself being good at something so you can teach that to your students.
Do it. Just do it. Learn what you want to learn to teach what you want to teach. Ask the questions, get the help. Look up things on the web , YouTube, Twitter. There are lots of education hashtags on Twitter with great ideas.
Be kind to yourself
So your grand plan had an implementation dip? Not a problem. You are now wiser. The internet didn’t work on the day you decided to launch your great lesson? Use plan B and do your great lesson tomorrow. Students didn’t get it? Moaned a lot? Not a problem. They will learn. Keep reassuring them and yourself that this will work.
Make small steps
Always take small steps. Don’t go big when you are unsure. Learn each part of the the whole. Know your connections, your sound devices and implementation, your software. Know how to change screen sizes, how to go from one tab to the next, minimise and bring something else into play. Know how your software /app works. Have each part of your lesson set and ready to go. Practice your great lesson in small steps. Each of those steps should be able to stand alone in class so they can be mastered. Each thing you learn will be a tiny part of the whole grand plan.
See the next step
As you go along, be mindful of what you can logically see as your next step. You are a teacher and used to sequencing work and activities. Don’t get lost in the flurry and pressure of using technology. Look at what you are saying to yourself is the next step and learn that.
It’s worth watching this video so you can fully appreciate and enjoy the comments beneath the clip. This has had over 6 million views on YouTube and the real world has automatically connected with the idea in a very practical way with suggestions which bring a smile to your face. So is the future tactile? Tangible Media at MIT believes so. This clip was made 2 years ago and there are no obvious applications of it which have become apparent. That might be because it is being used in medical or space technology where you would not necessarily know whether it is being used or not. I’m curious to know where the developments are now with tactile technology.
I am starting to get he benefit of using Edmettle. It has taken a while because I could not start it at the beginning of the year with my year 9s for various reasons, not the least of which being they were very attached to Twiducate, the older version of Edmettle. This week we have gained some good value out of Edmettle. I have used it to practise little bits of French we have been working on. I have used it to get feedback about the assignments we have been doing. I have used it to endorse my students and they have used it to endorse each other. I have also used it to canvas ideas about what they would like to do for their Term 4 project so it is not just about me and what I want them to do. Their ideas were good and I have now packaged a recommendation to take back to them which they can then comment on. This is the class which refined and worked with me on creating the best group assessment protocol and rubrics ever. The advantage of a site like Edmettle is that every student has a voice. No one is left out of any discussion and everyone has a say. The heartening thing about when I asked them to endorse the 3 others in their group for the assessments we have been doing is the students were very succinct and direct about the other student’s strengths. They were also very mindful of constructive comment. All my students now are starting to get validation for their learning both from me and their peers. I could add another layer with the parents but am not sure that we are ready for that just yet. In my experience from blogging, parents are extremely helpful and positive online with learning activities and ideas. We now have what we have in class and then the students have a genuine connection with each other and an image of themselves as learners. I like what Edmettle is doing to layer the learning and my students seem to be very happy with it now. It is a really good way to promote and support personalised learning.
It is advertised as the sleep app. The rain, rain app is designed to help you drift into your dreams. We all know teachers need their sleep. It’s a great app with beautiful images and lovely rain sounds. It could be used to inspire writing – On a dark and stormy night… It could be used to create rainy ambient sounds for creative purposes. There are sounds besides rain. The app is available on all devices.
We have no credibility as a 21st Century technological society if we keep having to charge our gadgets and if battery life is totally insufficient for the work days we have, the lives we lead and the things we need to do. A device which goes flat is completely unacceptable and destroys any cool technology image we might wish to promote. One thing which seems achievable is that schools, businesses and homes could have solar powered USB chargers at a small cost. Adam Codner from the University of Minnesota developed one as a project and has shared the information on YouTube. There are other videos which show you how to make 4 battery USB chargers for a reasonable cost and there are commercially available ones. Solar powered USB chargers for mobile devices should be everywhere so no one is left without battery life and no one is having to protect themselves from the high costs of electricity usage if everyone charges their device. There are written instructions for a small solar powered USB charger on instructables. I am not sure what happened to the paper batteries I blogged about in 2011. They would ease the costs and battery crises and be more sustainable. We have to stop this dependence on batteries so that we can freely use our devices. It is not so easy with laptops. They need more resources to charge and portable solar powered units to charge them seem to be less reliable and a bit of a problem in terms of sustainability and reliability. The comments under this article on treehugger promote some good discussion. The point that a laptop really should not be where there is no real access to power is probably valid but not helpful for those who do have to work in remote areas for a living or research. Spare batteries seem to be the best solution for now and laptop batteries are not cheap. The other solution is that in an organisation where people are laptop dependent, there should be access to electricity which is fed into the grid sustainably through wind and solar panels etc. We have to make the renewable energy solutions promote a more viable option to support our device dependence. We keep ignoring it, but it is not going to go away. They used to have cars where you had to crank up the engine to start them. That was hardly fine living , either. Eventually they gave the world starter motors and alternators.Personally, I want a want to tap my devices so they are then charged. The wand could then plug into a charging unit or be totally solar powered. Far more convenient than having my device connected to the wall or a solar unit.
Student feedback is worth its weight in gold. It can reaffirm what you were thinking and doing as a teacher, but you can gather some other ideas to set directions for the future. Students are not static. They are not the same thing from one year to the next, one generation to the next, one group to the next. They are living beings. When you get feedback you can endorse yourself but you can also keep yourself current. They will express their needs ands wants . It can be surprising. It will keep you moving. You will change naturally. I use Edmettle because it is safe and secure. I can pose questions and get feedback, practice class content a little bit, get suggestions and I can also endorse each student individually. Every student has a voice. Yesterday I was asking them about the online State competitions for languages, what they thought they had achieved well in French this term and about a little French-Japanese anime video I had shown them. A student of Chinese background said the anime was more like a Chinese anime rather than a French or Japanese one. Information for me. A new look at the world. They were proud of their achievements in the state competitions but wanted a better plan next year. They appreciated the fact we used some class time for it and thought it was important because they could see the impact LIVE on the IBW. Then they asked for reminders. So many of them asked for reminders. Can’t you remind us to do it at home? Can’t you send us an email or an alert ? Can’t you use the LMS to remind us? Can’t you send us a reminder to do it for 10 minutes NOW? Can’t the school set an event so that all languages students are online at a certain time? These are gaming students. These are students born after 2000 who have grown up with the internet, mobile technology and games. They love things with awards and points. They love challenges to “level up”, they love data and feedback and love it even more if it is LIVE. They like being on a leader board for learning. While we were busy on the state competitions I was putting little to do lists on their lesson plans on the LMS because we had to be REALLY efficient to do the state competitions and complete our work. They hauled brilliantly. We were spectacularly, impressively productive last week. So today, I did need that feedback. You cannot run classes like that all the time but you do need to understand how to get the best out of students, yourself ,systems and resources. I got a big surprise , though. My todo lists got a big thumbs up. I thought I was doing something normal. They thought I was being fantastic and that it was much more helpful than anything else. It makes sense now. They are gaming students. They want a gaming list of things to collect.They don’t want to look at the assessment plan I put up or the weekly tasks list or the assignment sheet. They want a NOW list. Things to do now, feedback now, information now, challenges now. I have to operate in real time with my levels, challenges, lists, artefacts, content. They are then asking for the system to provide reminders for asynchronous learning. What a great thought and the world needs to get onto it. Me too.
Where would we be without gamification? I have just used the STEAM acronym and tried to find three indicators of each which start with the same letter to be indicative of meeting the component in lesson planning and delivery. This is a work in progress. It is not definitive and I have shared it so that others can be encouraged to break down the components of STEAM (Science, Technology , Engineering, Arts, Maths) into an applied model which is easy for teachers to consult as they think and plan. We need something like the Bloom’s Taxonomy – a STEAM Taxonomy to pin us all down and get us thinking in a more consistent fashion. I have a mix of verbs and adjectives. I’d prefer one or the other so that is my next challenge. Just throwing it out there.
Techcrunch published an interesting and informative article about children’s online privacy this week. Please read it as it is about current research into the state of play in keeping children safe online and there are some real concerns.
Codecademy is free and for anyone who wants to learn coding. The courses are self-paced and you cannot move onto the next lesson until you have mastered the first. The content is delivered in small , manageable pieces so that you never feel swamped and each lesson has a hint section so you can master what you are doing if you get stuck. There is no assumed knowledge and the content is put onto the screen in a very clear way so that you don’t feel like you are swamped by information. At the completion of each section you are awarded a badge. There are plenty of coding choices and so it is a very good place to start to learn coding and it is a site students could easily use to build their coding knowledge without any sort of assessment pressure as such. The badges and the fact you can progress to the next lesson tell you that you are making progress so the positive feedback is built in. So far, it’s the site where I feel the most comfortable and feel like I can learn at my own pace and in my own way.
I have completed my first Udemy Course – Coding for Entrepreneurs Basic by Justin Mitchel. To get the certificate you have to listen to every single part of the course. It’s the one I decided to do to get myself back into coding, to give me a framework and to create some learning challenges for me. It has achieved all of that. Justin Mitchel explains everything, he shows you everything, he works through the glitches, he offers learning suggestions and everything is on video , thank heavens, so you can pause and absorb. I explained in my post How’s the coding going? that I had stalled with the action part of the course because I couldn’t sync the database and runserver. I then had to think. Do I give up all I have learned? Do I just abandon it and leave it behind and start something new? Do I regroup and start all over again? What do I do? I left it for a while and started working on learning Python coding so I could understand that better. I shifted all my coding stuff to my LinuxMint laptop. I could move forward. Udemy was meanwhile sending me gentle reminders I had not finished the course. Was I going to start from scratch again? What was my plan? I decided to finish the course and get the whole context in front of me and now I have done that I can move forward. Justin Mitchel goes through a lot of HTML stuff for web pages and explains it well and why you need to put it where you put it. I understand all that HTML coding far better now. He shows the FTPing and getting the site working live, and my decision is to leave that for now. I am going to go back over it on my Linux Laptop and try to resolve the database syncing and get the page running virtually. Justin Mitchell recommends some good sites to learn coding better so I need to have a look at that. I need to specifically work with the Django tutorials on their site and then, I shall be in a good frame of mind to start over and work it all through. As a student I have learned a lot and have had to use my brain to troubleshoot and work out what is a plan for me. The course is there, I can use it, I can learn from it and I can benefit from it. The best thing it has done for me is provide structure to my learning , give me insight and offer opportunities for me to construct my own learning. I can sit down and work out my personal learning plan now and go back to the course to iron out the bits which I couldn’t put into action.
Erik Johansson is incredibly talented in visual art. His videos and web page show how a real master blends real life and virtual reality. Watching his creative process you understand that nothing is too much or too difficult to achieve his artistic ends. You also realise he is prepared to put 123 layers into his Adobe Photoshop creations to achieve what he wants. The blending of real and imagined is seamless. The detail is infinitesimal and he is incredibly painstaking in the way he goes about creating his images. Technology can shift the boundaries and imagination can reach out and use its limitlessness to show itself. What can be imagined now was restricted before but that same imagination has to be very disciplined and precise in its thinking to achieve its goals with technology. Near enough is not good enough and precision is everything.
Last night I was working on an assignment for the Year 10s and worked out duplicating a page would save me a whole lot of time. It’s been a long time since I have needed to merge Word documents so I had forgotten how to do it. You cannot duplicate pages in Word like you duplicate slides in Powerpoint. Luckily , the Microsoft Support instructions work like a charm and I saved myself time and energy. It means you keep formatting, backgrounds, customisations when a cut and paste isn’t the answer. It’s as easy as creating a new page and using the insert function and object, where you insert from a doc file you have. I then just had to delete the bits I did not want.
Tux Paint is a very versatile app for creating your own images. There are computer and HD versions too. It has been designed with younger children in mind but if you want to get in touch with your inner child , or you want an easy, straight forward app to able to explore creating your own images , then Tux Paint is worth a look. Graphically it is very smooth and slick. It has a clean, well designed interface which gets you going quickly. You feel like exploring and experimenting. It doesn’t have the subtlety in brushes of other paint apps but it’s a good place to start and it produces very clear images which would show well on an IWB. The sounds which come with it make you laugh but you can turn the sound off if you don’t like it. Those who use it , love it. With the new, upsurge in colouring books for adults, Tux Paint is a good electronic version of that because it is very calming to create the images. As you can see , the free version comes with some unobtrusive advertising.
I installed the MyPaint Beta for Windows from the MyPaint site and it went smoothly. It looks clean, it functions well, the brushes installed. You have to remember to download the brushes and then install them from within the programme under the brushes tab at the top. It doesn’t look as flash as the Linux version but it has a very convenient and clear layout. Installing the Wacom tablet was not as straightforward as usual. I had to search for drivers which would work because the first file I found on the Wacom site did nothing. There is a forum where you can download the pen drivers from LucieG45’s post and that version worked for me. I then downloaded the Bamboo Dock which is a very handy utility for the Wacom tablet. Now I am all set and ready to go on Windows 10 as well.
I downloaded Fotowall from the packages manager on Linux Mint 17.2. As you can see from the video it runs on Ubuntu as well and it is a great graphics programme which automatically loads Gimp if you wish to customise selected images further. My version of Fotowall is not doing the web searches for images and I shall investigate that. It’s not a problem as such because I would probably use this for my own images. I love the feature of turning text into image and the fact you can write text on the overall image as well. It really is a great piece of software for those who like to make impressive images but have limited artistic talent. Technology is really helping lift us up visually. We need artists and graphic designers to point us in the right direction but tools like Fotowall are graphics enablers. You can use it to print posters, design desktop wallpapers, image montages. It’s quite versatile.
Now you can see what someone with some real skill and talent can do with MyPaint. It’s an open source programme available on Windows and Linux. Installing a graphics tablet on Windows is as easy as going to the site and downloading the appropriate software for the tablet. Installing my Wacom tablet on Linux proved to be a case of third time lucky. I always try to see if a device will work on an operating system first or not. Unless you have clear instructions with a device to install particular software , these days the device will often work by itself and then you can install brand specific drivers and improvements as you go along. I tried plugging in my Wacom graphics tablet on Linux 17.2 but the pen and tablet were not going to co ordinate. So I tried the wacom.py Python script I found and it came up with a couple of errors . It might work for you, though. Lastly , I found the Ubuntu Forums site where there were some very specific instructions about half way down the page under section 1. I copied and pasted each line of code into Terminal and pressed enter. What I liked about the Ubuntu Forum site was that it explained what each part of the code was doing. I really enjoyed doing that and the information provided on the site was helpful. I then shut he computer down and rebooted.
Once I got my Wacom graphics tablet the right way round I was in business. I downloaded some more brushes from the MyPaint site and now I just love MyPaint even more and feel as though I can actually grow with this paint programme. The MyPaint site has a gallery of the sorts of things people have done with it and YouTube has some tutorials for it.
Charlie Henson is like me. He doesn’t really know how to get the best out of paint apps and tools but he can see that MyPaint on Linux is in a league of its own. Like me, he found he could do things easily and could feel a sense of achievement. His video takes you on a good tour of MyPaint so that you can see what it does and find the online support easily. It is a programme which enables you to be artistic because it is intuitive. I downloaded it from the package manager on Linux Mint last night and was able to do things with it even though I was just using my mouse. I love the symmetry function.
I was amazed how much I could actually do. I have since watched people with some real skills using it. It’s a very comprehensive, but easy to use programme. I downloaded the extra data package from the package manager as well.
Today I spent time setting up my Wacom tablet on Linux so I could try that. I’ll explain what I did tomorrow. It isn’t as straight forward to set up a tablet on Linux as it is on Windows and Mac. It wasn’t that hard, though. Once I got my tablet round the right way (!) it functions really well and was very responsive. I can write almost normally on it and better than on Windows or my Mac. I could even do a little drawing. More proof that Linux Mint 17.2 is visually stunning.
Linux Mint 17.2 Rafaela is visually stunning. The iso installed with a lot of code running first which is not usual but then Rafaela was all up and running in 20 minutes. My hp box is attached to my LED TV and the image quality is superb. I have 4 GB RAM and Rafaela is running extremely smoothly with a couple of glitches which will sort themselves out in a day or so. Never takes long for Linux to be fully functioning in a high end way. I have discovered mtpaint a simple image manipulation programme because Gimp wasn’t saving jpeg files . That will no doubt change when Rafaela puts through its updates. I have installed Chrome using code from itWorld. Chrome had all my bookmarks and so I could get up and running really quickly. I shall be downloading Vivaldi as a browser because it runs really well on Linux. So, on first meeting Rafaela, I am more than happy and think my interface looks really cool and the computer is going like a dream.
How are the year 10 blogs going? Really well! They are mostly doing better on traffic than the year 11s. These students, now they understand what they are doing, have set sail in the blogosphere and know how to make themselves known , how to tag and how to do something different. They did not understand blogging so I have had to go about it differently from the way I do it with my year 11s and 12s. I have found it better to actually create the blog posts in class and then offer things for them to do at home if they want to. Those who are now comfortable can see the benefit of building their blogs and take up the options but it also allows everyone a chance to work on different aspects of blogging and that has been building the knowledge base which then expands the growth and productivity!.
What have we done specifically?
1. Made sure we have a good title for our blog post.
2. Made sure we have a visual aspect to our blog posts.
3.Used our blogs to document our learning .
4. Visited each other’s blogs
5. Learned to tag and categorise properly.
These students are in a league of their own when it comes to tagging and some have taken it to a whole new level. They make tagging original, interesting and it has a visual impact the way some of them do it. Now they feel at home on their blogs, their personalities are coming out and they are confident in how they manage their blog posts.
How did I do it?
I used term 1 to set the blogs up and work on the technical aspects of blogging.
I used term 2 to grow the blogs by working on posts in class and offering ideas for out of class.
I am using term three build up links between them and other student bloggers at school to grow the connectivity.
I am impressed with how quickly and effectively students can get new ones up and running on a blog. They have been very positive and efficient. Blogging in year 10 is different, but it is certainly well worth it.
Image Hangman – pythonforbeginners
I have been through a lot of coding changes in a week and it seems longer than that. Halfway though my Udemy course Coding for Entrepreneurs I could not get the files to sync to Django. I fixed the errors I had made and then thought about it. I had learnt a lot. I had gone a long way. At that point I could find and fix errors in code but could not resolve the problem.Should I go on anyway or change tack? I decided to change tack and go right back to basics and work on Python scripts and scripting and , in the meantime, try to take on board some more information related to the Udemy course so that I might be able to fix it. It could be a problem with different versions of software packages. It could be that I have left a step out. I have shifted all my coding files and work from my Windows computer to my Linux Mint one. It is not that you cannot code on Windows. Linux supports it better and I follow it better on Linux. I have tried different scripts out, even repaired two of them so they would work and have had a chance to just play with some python scripts. The pythonforbeginners site has been very helpful. I can execute my python scripts easily . The pythonforbeginners site also puts the code up with colours so that you can distinguish commands from other parts of the script. I feel now that I am more self sufficient and am understanding what I should and could be doing. Once I feel totally confident, I shall go back and tackle the Udemy course which has given me some real insight as to what I can achieve when I get there! The hangman script I have linked to at he top of the page could be used to teach coding in a classroom. The code is decipherable and easy to follow. It is not hard to learn and set out. The script gives you the code for one word to play hangman and then you would change that to another word. Students would be working in pairs so they could play the came together.
EdTech Mixed Plate has a number of videos on YouTube where practising teachers join together to discuss ICT in the classroom. This is what we can do now as teachers. We can join together online and discuss things which are important in a classroom and how we develop and pioneer technology input – or anything else for that matter.The videos are professional development for the teachers participating but they are also professional development for anyone watching. The episode I am using today is on Minecraft in the classroom because Minecraft is gaining traction in classroom use. EdTech Mixed Plate discusses a range of topics and it is interesting to see how the teachers have become involved in edtech and mostly the co ordinator for edtech in their school. Worth a look because I am pretty sure this is the future and now such a gift to us in terms of professional development. Technology is offering us all sorts of possibilities . We are waiting for bandwidth so we can implement these opportunities more effectively.
Windows 10 has issues. Last weekend I got the blue screen of pending catastrophic doom, my computer shut down and rebooted with Windows updates and magically I had no start menu, no notifications, no real taskbar functionality and a lot of hidden things I have been having to rediscover in other ways. Good job I know my keyboard, am happy to right click or whatever to find out. Windows key X, Windows key E and Windows key R are my new BFFs.There is nothing I have not been able to do. I am even finding things that I would not be able to know on Windows if I just had access to the start menu. Change can bring insight. Probably my fault for blogging about the putrid start menu colours and the tacky Bing news. Microsoft has spoken. Love it or do without. The dysfunctional start menu was a problem for some with Windows 8 and #Windows10Fail on Twitter will give insight into the situation now. People are rolling back or just becoming a tad unsettled. Why not? Windows 10 was so cool when it came onto our computers so it is nice and frustrating to find out it has become so lumpy so soon…at all, in fact. I have had to go into the C drive to get programmes or run them from Windows R if it can find them. Often not. It’s amazing what Windows 10 now can’t find that I can. I have to use the image preview to access my paint programme which I love and suits me. That is just plain weird.There are lots of things I like about Windows 10 and ,discovering so much because the start menu is crippled, is the up side of such a ridiculous occurrence. This afternoon my computer gave me another sudden blue screen of pending catastrophic doom and Windows put through some more updates. I thought it was bringing my start menu back. No. No, it wasn’t. So with a bit of help from the aptly named site Computer Hope I made myself a start menu toolbar which suits me very well, thank you. Now I don’t have to keep running the .exe file to get the snipping tool. Half way down the page I have linked on Computer Hope are instructions to Create a Windows Start Menu Toolbar. Worked like a charm and has lightened my load.
I wouldn’t even have considered trying the computational thinking approach to my Year 10 topic of Talking about Sport unless I was fairly certain it would succeed or , at least, sustain a level of competence in myself and my class which was credible. These are Year 10s going into Year 11. Calculated risk and intelligent trials are worth the effort and will improve performance and outcomes. Flying blind with no sight of the ground is not an option. As you can see from the last post I restructured the topic to ensure it met with the computational thinking elements. I am refreshing my own coding skills so I was more than acutely aware that every tiny bit matters and that it is not a sin to be working in the dark. I was also aware that when you take yourself up to higher level learning you have to copy. You have to look to who can do it and learn from them by leaning on them and their knowledge. Soon, your brain patterns the information and you can start doing things for yourself. The end part of my Sport topic was an assessment of a dialogue where one student was wildly enthusiastic about sport and the other one was very reluctant and negative. We built it up from vocabulary, to expressions, to specific sentence patterns for positives and negatives. We reinforced it all with online training. We listened to French people talking about sport and listened for what we could recognise. We did small exercises to practice one thing and put them on our blogs. We did tiny orals to get used to saying things. They then had to emulate a dialogue we could hear and see online. They changed it a bit and we listened to the original dialogue and then they had to do their version and record it. We then came to their having to do an authentic dialogue of their own. I had marked a dialogue of theirs at the beginning of term. They weren’t bad but they were a bit awkward and I could hear the students were not comfortable at this level of French even though they could understand it. I am now really glad I decided to go about the Talking about Sport dialogue in a computational thinking way. It has made a considerable difference. I was marking the sport dialogues yesterday. They had all handed them in. They sounded confident and competent. They sounded like they were relaxed and having fun. The dialogues were far more natural and their pronunciation was so much better. Working though a topic or lesson from a small thing to a bigger thing is not foreign to me because I have been using gaming principles for a couple of years now. The computational thinking approach has refined that further and is a logical next step to that methodology.
I have completed the Computational Thinking Course for Educators which was run by Google. I have done it over several weeks but it could have been completed quickly. I looked at all the different things to do with coding and applications, I have participated in the online comments and feedback and now I have finished the projects. None of this was arduous but what it did was made me think about things differently, shed some new light as to how I could approach teaching and students. My project was to use computational thinking to teach a topic of French. I have just done that and it has worked well. . You can have a copy of it to look at if you like:Year 10 French, so that you can see how I have set a topic up in terms of computational thinking. It was an interesting project.Now that I have done that I have decided it’s a good way to allow teachers to develop in terms of performance standards – give them a tertiary challenge!
Windows snipping tool is located in the start menu on Windows under accessories. It comes up with a small box where you select new. It whites out the screen and you can drag the mouse to make an image of whatever you want on the desktop. You can then save it to the desktop and manage it in a paint program according to your needs. So easy.
Any serious coder will laugh but that’s okay. They would also realise it has taken me plenty of effort and dedication to get to this first useful step in coding. I have been sitting here absorbing all my coding lessons and finally the cogs are starting to work, the penny has dropped and I can actually see my way clear to doing some things by myself without just copying or following instructions. That, though, is a basic lesson in coding. Don’t hurry. Don’t try to skip over things, lean heavily on those who know, do as you are told and follow instructions! Don’t expect to know what you are doing until the light comes on.Then…you get to the moment where you can do something by yourself. Something practical and useful. You can actually transfer knowledge and apply it. I have understood 95% of what I have been learning. I have had to go back over things and I have had to come back to very disciplined thinking. Now, apart from doing the things I copy, I can now think for myself and apply some knowledge. We really need to look at computer literacy in a hard headed way to sort out what it means to be computer literate, especially if we plan to teach coding. So, I can now quickly make myself a desktop text file with text in it.
How did I do this?
1. Press Windows x
2. Select Command Prompt from the menu which pops up.
3.Mine comes up with C:\Users\CathyW>…yours will come up with your user name
4. At the > type cd Desktop and press enter
5. It will now say C:\Users \CathyW\Desktop>
6. At the > type echo Whatever you want to write as text here >reminder.txt and press enter
7. You can call it happy.txt, cathy.txt…whatever you want.
You will now have a file on your desktop with what you wrote. For me it is a reminder.txt and could have been any other type of text file like a doc. It means I can write myself a quick note, get some ideas down quickly, create a file to work on later. I don’t have to wait for software or sites to load. Easy!
There is so much magic with technology . We have to keep the conversations going. We have to keep sharing. We are connected. Gradually , we are working out positive behaviours and practices around the internet, mobile technology and device use. We are now working out the social side of it so our practices do not impinge on others and infringe upon their space and sensibilities. It is becoming obvious now who the team player are NOT. The little video looks at some of the things we have come to agree upon but might want to discuss. There is always a personal preference allowed in our thinking because it no longer has to be one size fits all and it no longer has to be we are all doing this now , in this way, with this. The conversations have to continue so we arrive at consensus and a happy way of finding the magical things in technology use. It is easy for me to say , “Put your phone away , please” because we teach responsible use. The Year 9s were starting to champ at the bit because they know they will have laptops next year and they want them now. To help combat this frustration I have lifted my game with the iPads and my laptop use so we are using great sites, great images, great tools. I walked into class with the Discover Quebec app for them to download. They loved it. It’s an intelligent app which had 3D renditions, videos, maps, images, interviews. A whole information rich and visually impressive app which treats users intelligently and runs in French and English. I pulled out my really nice presentation on adjectives and one of the students remarked about how nicely the colours all went together and how the the whole board was filled with a balance of colour. They loved the red Ferrari on my wishlist in French. So then one of the students, as she prepared her presentation, was using an app to make a background for the slides with different coloured fingerprints.Her own fingerprints and her own choice of colours. Custom made backgrounds for learning their French. We have set up a mega online vocab challenge for next week of one boy against the other 3 best students one at a time. Everyone warmed to that kind of risk taking. In the next class I had my spreadsheet out which automatically calculates the percentages for the students. I remarked how daft Excel was for calculating at the bottom of the percentages 576% or something equally nonsensical. It should have something which stops it from doing ridiculous things. One student felt my frustration and offered to change it to an average for me because by now they know how number challeged I am . My percentages spreadsheet is orginally thanks to my brother in law but by now I can actually do the function stuff myself. So the student was trying to do the average and it all hashtagged and went stupid. A couple of students offered suggestions and I showed him how to format cells. We were doing this in French. It was not prescribed “content”, the exams and assessments will never show we were doing this. The bell went and we decided to finish it off on Monday. That was all learning based on sharing but we would not have been learning had we stuck to the plan, the device, the ascribed roles of teacher and student. We were having fun because we can and we were working out the boundaries with social niceties and consideration.
I am following through on my Coding for Entrepreneurs Udemy Course. It’s an opportunity to try out online learning and a chance to get myself back to coding. Python is what I chose and this course has been teaching me how to set up a virtual test environment and create a Django project page. I have no idea what this will do other than get me somewhere I have never been. I have learnt again that to code you have to be totally exact and very precise. I have learnt that this type of online learning is demanding but ultimately very satisfying. I could follow and do most of it but I have gone slowly and taken my time. I had a couple of stumbling blocks and that is coding. If things do not appear to go according to plan you have to use your brain and thought processes to logically work out the solution.Throwing your hands up in the air and having a meltdown just does not cut it with coding. It forces you to think all the time in a very all-consuming way. Some of it will become habit again but then there will always be the times where my brain is up again the computer trying to figure out solutions. It is constant problem solving. I am more than happy with all the Command Line stuff I have been doing and it is exciting to see it all take shape. I am looking forward to seeing what I can now do with Django. I still have quite a bit of this course to go so it will absorb me for a while. At the moment I am very much a supported learner . It will be interesting to discover at which point I can become independent.
Image: Windows Seven Forums.
I think I have fixed the black sections problem on my screenshots. I may be in Windows 10 but the above Windows 7 site has helped to solve two problems for me. If I use Shift PrtScr I get an image of both my monitors which is sometimes handy but usually I just want one screen. Now I know I can use Alt PrtScr and just get the active desktop I am using. I didn’t know that. The forum site gives some good information about screenshots. I usually save mine straight to the desktop because it is easy to find them there.Taking one screen at a time means I am not getting the black sections on each of the screens in the screen shot, so now I have narrowed that down to being a dual screen issue with Windows 10. Festina lente.
It is all going well. The system boots quickly and it shuts down quickly. This version of Windows appears to be operating more smoothly than other versions and I really like it. My latest trick is Windows key then x because bottom left it brings up a menu with things like System, Command Prompt, Control Panel and Networking Centre. Makes it easy to access those critical areas of a computer. I found my pictures which I had not filed into folders. They are in the Public Pictures so you can go to the C drive\Users\Public and you will find the public folders there or you can go to the web and Windows search, type in Public Pictures , then click on My Stuff (seriously!) and it will come up in the search. Windows 10 has been very easy to adapt to.
All good , really. I have had to reload nothing which was not the case with Windows 8. Windows 10 is smooth and has a good interface. I can use the panoramic themes across my two monitors and that is just lovely. The screenshot is putting black sections onto my image which do not exist in real life. On each screen the taskbar is at the bottom and the picture fills the screen. You use the SPAN option in the setting to get the picture to go across both screens. The start menu is good. Hate the colours and wish Windows would use something less putrid. I love having my app tiles back with the different images and it is there my missing photos are to be found. I still have not found them on the actual computer but they are being displayed as Photos from a Collection in one of the tiles. The start menu has also brought MineCraft and my favourite Flipboard app. I had to sign in with my Microsoft account to download the app. It is good to see it there. The start menu has also been suggesting things in a gentle way and offering some good options. Bottom left on the taskbar is the search web and Windows box which is the same as Apple Spotlight but brings Bing news when you click on it. I do not want random, tasteless images and tacky news. If that is to be compulsory it needs to be more sedate and mindful this is my life, my home and my headspace. If I want random lowbrow news I’ll go and find it. Actually, I won’t. The search works well though and I can find everything I need on my computer and the web options are there if I need them. if you want to change the default browser then use the Windows image bottom left, click on the settings to the left towards the bottom of the start menu when it is open and type default in the search box. Then select default app settings. Click on change default by app, go up to the web browser option and then click on that to change it. I have changed mine to Chrome because I am set up there. Microsoft Edge , though , is nothing like Explorer and quite nice to use which I could never say about Explorer. The Edge handles well and does not slow everything down and then mess it all up before you actually get it going. It just goes and is very efficient. Windows 10 is nice. It is clearly an upgrade and it is making my computing life better so far. Early days, but it is nowhere near as clunky as Windows 8. It is smooth and easy.
I got sick of the screen which kept telling me that Windows 10 was working on it. Until today I was too busy to do anything other than try to get the upgrade going. It doesn’t seem to be installing consistently onto computers. Daughter got the notice like I did to upgrade, clicked on it and had it installed in no time. 3 days later and I was still watching the white dots go round. So, I thought about it. I went to the Windows Updates area after I’d watched the white dots of death for 20 minutes. My upgrade was sitting there waiting for me to click on the install. If your installation isn’t automatic I can now suggest you go to the Windows Update on your computer. Just type Windows Update in the run menu (Win R on Windows 8). An hour later and I am now happily on Windows 10 and have a chance to explore it. I like the interface and the fact it acknowledges dual monitors. All I have noticed so far is that it has lost all my loose photos which I hadn’t filed into my folders in my photos library. No real problem. I have back ups. I have the message already I had better be very tidy minded on Windows 10. Currently it wants Edge to be the default browser and I use Chrome. There was no obvious way to change that but I’ll find it as I shall probably find the photos I had not filed. The taskbar on the auxiliary monitor has settled down at the bottom of the screen now as it should and it’s really handy to have the taskbar on both screens. The picture shows a black section on the bottom of the left screen, that has all been sorted. There is no black at the top of the main monitor either. All good, so I’ll get back to work!
We need to take action. It’s important we pool our planetary thinking to come up with a solution for inattentional blindness aka digital deadwalking. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons made this video to try to do something. It is not going to work unless we all pay attention and use all the thinking we have at our disposal to stop people walking around , with phones and iPods plugged into their ears , from being killed. The number of pedestrian plugged in , distracted people being killed is increasing world wide. This is not very clever of us. We have some cool gadgets but they should not be putting our lives at risk. We do not seem to go through the obvious risk assessment teaching and learning that we probably would do with industrial machinery. Technology is being accepted as safe and yet , clearly, it is not so there has to be education around that for safety and well being as there is for using industrial machines. As simple as the water and electricity don’t mix idea. Plugged in pedestrians and traffic don’t mix.
“While the research is in its infancy, Queensland University of Technology’s Amy Williamson said 30 per cent of those polled so far admitted to having a near-miss with a vehicle and 15 per cent blamed their phone distraction.” abc.net.au
My own concern is that perhaps this behaviour is turning into a learned habit, even without the device. This year at school I have had a number of Year 8s just walk straight into me or nearly miss my face when they open a door. They do not realise I am there. There is nothing intentional about their behaviour . They are usually embarrassed about what they did and are polite and apologetic , so it tends to suggest they are doing what is natural to them and not taking in the people and things around them. It may have nothing to do with being habitually plugged in but I am wondering if that is causing this behaviour? In class they are happy, engaged, alert people so they are all then cued into competent, productive behaviour.
It is time to stop thinking about it because we have been noticing pedestrian , plugged in deaths around traffic and transport since 2009. We really need to face this head on and find some solutions. Giving them their own lane to walk in is not changing the behaviour into something safer.
So ,this is the 2015 Spring Summer Collection for Issey Miyake’s European shows. It demonstrates how the technologically conceived 3D material is used to create clothing and shows to full effect the difference between flat earth clothing and technology inspired 21st century clothing. It actually explores the space between the body and item of clothing. Conceptually it is different and presents a new perspective on what clothes can mean. As the show unfolds it becomes less the artistic expression of this 3D material and more a functional use for the clothing but with nothing lost in form and style. As the show progresses the clothes soften and have more movement. I can sit at home and be dazzled by a Paris collection but I am just as much dazzled by the technological thought which has gone behind creating this fashion show. Art, music, science, language, design, technology, maths, culture…it embodies all our thought disciplines.
You have to be able to think in a technological way to create a 3D fabric and then understand how that will then translate into haute couture clothing. The fashion designer, Issey Miyake, shows in the video the thought process and then the functional requirements of creating such a material. All the while the images focus on form and movement. They also portray very clearly how technology aids graphic design in a fundamental way to take it to a higher level. The marriage of technology and graphic design is extraordinary and you can literally see how different this 3D material is from normal material. This material was created for his summer collection this year and tomorrow we’ll see just how much technology can inspire and take us to a whole new level of creativity and imagination.
Issey Miyake studied graphic design but he has since gone on to be one of the world’s top fashion designers whose collections are shown and viewed in so many prestigious events. This animation by Euphrates shows what happens when you put design, art and technology together and that is something Issey Mikaye does exquisitely. More to come! Total genius on creating a brand!
Do you know why we need teachers on the internet? They take nothing for granted in learning. If you are trying to update a device you need to know about the settings.
Image: Internet Safety Project.
People get devices and enjoy using them and then it all falls apart when they have to update or when they realise they could be doing other things with the device – like downloading apps. It’s not intuitive. It’s learned behaviour which you can either work out yourself or you can’t. Assuming people know how to connect their device to a computer and use iTunes as an alternative can be a big ask. Do they know where to put the cable? Do they know how to download iTunes? The video I have chosen to show how to update an iOS is of value since it does show some of the problems you might encounter. You do need to be connected to wifi. You to know what to do when the screen comes up with “Hello” when you had an iPad that was working fine until then. Settings, though , is critical. Everyone needs to know how to find and navigate the settings. You have to tap Settings then General , then Software Update to get started. The man who did the video about the app store might have thought he was funny writing on screen you need a finger/stylus , iPad and wifi to get started. It is that basic when someone doesn’t know what they are doing and is on totally unfamiliar ground. They need to be moved through a process one tiny step at a time with nothing taken for granted. No one should feel a failure because they cannot navigate a device. No one was made to feel a failure because they could not operate a TV or fridge. We need to make it that easy for everyone.
I had a phone call today from a senior friend who didn’t know about having an Apple ID so you could use the app store. I am posting this so if you, too, know people who don’t know how to get themselves started on their iPad or their iPhone you can quickly get them the information. Here is the link to the Apple ID site where you create the ID. The video is short, sweet and to the point. There are longer videos on YouTube about the app store, but most people just want to get going.
It’s taken a while to get my Year 9s up and running with Edmettle this year. They were attached to Twiducate which was also created by Brian Aspinall. Twiducate is the old version. Edmettle is designed to fit in with the values of the Canadian curriculum, but as it happens, it fits in nicely with ours too. With Edmettle you also have an opportunity to involve parents. I am not up to that yet because it has taken me half a year to get the students to accept Edmettle and just use it as we did Twiducate. It’s not annoying. It is a sign they really value the place where they give me online feedback and practise their French sometimes. They, are right to approach a new site with caution and prudence. I respect their judgement in that. Yesterday , though , we got back to Edmettle and they were all happy with it and typed away as they normally do, so today I can move that forward. As a teacher I value it because I can ask them questions about the work we have done, I can ask them for input for something I am trying to decide, we can discuss ideas and trouble shoot and we can practice our French when we want to . I also have the opportunity with Edmettle, as do the students, of endorsing values like initiative, grit, organisation etc. As a teacher I have found that to be a nice thing. With a site like Edmettle each student has a voice. Each student is heard and each student can be noticed. I have a direct line of contact with all the students in my class. It is safe, it stands alone and it really makes them think of how they will say something because there is a character limit. Same for me. It trains you up for social media and it forces you to be discerning as you write. I knew they had adopted the site yesterday when more of them had put up an avatar. I can go back to this today and work on their bios and how we shall assess the next task. These students love group assessments. I created a rubric which , twice now, they have fine tuned and discussed so that we now have the perfect group assessment sheet for iPads. They own their group assessment now because they were part of developing it and their ideas were all helpful and valid. When you have access to everyone’s ideas, you have access to a broad range of ideas. Guarantees you can achieve well and Edmettle is a great tool for faciliting collaboration. I , too, needed time to get away from Twiducate because it had been so useful for creating a feedback loop for input as as well as practice for me. Time to move on!
1. Command A to select all the photos
2. Option then Spacebar to get the images to show in full screen and to control them.
OSXDaily gives you all the tricks for the full screen slide show.
I have just been playing with Trello. For me, I have decided it’s a good place to organise my information as I learn Python coding. It’s a bit like Storify and Pinterest rolled into one. You can create different boards and add to them. You can label them, prioritise them in different ways and even collaborate with others on boards if they belong to Trello. You invite them. My Trello is set to Private but there are other options and you choose whether to share or not. It keeps a running list of what you have done which would be helpful if you are busy and trying to keep track of what you are doing. You can archive sections of boards and decide later if you want to delete them. If you check the settings and sidebar you can see there are so many handy options for collaboration and working on aggregating materials and resources. I could be writing my own comments as well.It’s free to join and use but there is a paid business version if you wish to pursue it. You can also run it in different languages.