Get going with your Raspberry Pi

I have taught students to use Powtoon .They loved it and made some great videos  using it so it was really good to see this Powtoon on the Raspberry Pi. It is effective at showing you what it can do and what it is capable of. Many people do use it for electronics and robotics. I might do robotics but I cannot see myself using any of the electronics stuff. I don’t need it as a media centre either but I believe people do that because they can. I have a media centre running off an older HP computer and it works really well, thank you. Last night I downloaded the phone apps to remotely control the Raspberry Pi but haven’t had a chance to try them yet. There are plenty of apps for the Pi, incidentally. I have been getting used to Debian which I now realise is KDE and a bit retro , really. I am finding things I used to do and use but I went with gnome desktops which are a bit cruisier. KDE is reminding me to think things out again and it does actually get you to understand computers and computing better. I have found the Pi is slower on loading sites like You Tube or image sites but once they are loaded there is not a problem. It’s not that slow more like when the network is congested and you watch images load bit by bit.uk keyboard Nothing else has been noticeable but it is still running a UK keyboard even though I changed it to US. Not really a problem. I am just amazed at how good a computer the Pi is and the trick, I think, is to keep it simple. There have been sites which I have found invaluable and I’ll share those with you:

A beginner’s guide to the Raspberry Pi

Geek Gurl Diaries

Ultimate Guide to Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Quick Start Manual

The official Raspberry Pi site is incredibly helpful and explains things really well. It has some excellent resources and the videos are very good at setting you straight when you want to get going with a Raspberry Pi:

raspberrypi.org raspberry pi

The Raspberry Pi 2 really is small!

raspberry pi 2The Raspberry Pi 2 is a mighty little machine. So far it can do everything and what it can’t do I have to learn so that it does  it. All part of the fun. I have used other Linux OS but not Debian which this one came prepackaged with.Raspberry Pi screen I’ve used Fedora which I could see would go well on a Raspberry Pi, Linux Mint, Mandrake and Ubuntu. I looked around online to get the right package. I have one with a WiFi stick which I haven’t tried yet and a power supply. I think the power supply is important . I am happy with what I ordered and it matches well with what I already have.Raspberry Pi 2 size There are lots of choices of packages so it means sorting through, thinking and then choosing the best one for your needs and what you already have by way of cables and hardware. I cannot believe how small it is and yet it runs like a perfectly normal computer and so silently. There is a lot of support on the net for the Raspberry Pi and tomorrow I’ll post some of the links I found invaluable. The first things I did were load Scrot and take screenshots through Terminal and then I used Terminal to download Gimp so I can edit my images properly. It’s the first computer I have built but that is stretching the meaning of the word a bit. I put all the bits together into the case and connected it to a monitor , ethernet cable, mouse, keyboard and power source. Not a bad effort!Raspberry Pi board

Coming to you from my Raspberry Pi 2

2016-02-09-075658_1776x952_scrotI cannot believe how small my Raspberry Pi 2 is and yet it is functioning as a complete computer. I have not had to compromise as yet. My big achievement was putting it together even though it is quite straight forward. Tip: Put the micro SD card in the slot UNDERNEATH the card. Nothing showed me or told me where to put it so it was a matter of looking hard!Tomorrow I’ll show you just how small it is. I have it connected to my computer monitor with an HDMI cable. It is running off an ethernet cable and I have a mouse and keyboard plugged in. When I switched on the power it just loaded a couple of screens of code and voilà. It runs Claws as an email client and I have used Claws before on Linux and like it. My gmail account thought I (someone) had logged in from Safari on a Macbook so Gmail can’t recognise a Raspberry Pi. Before I knew it I was in Terminal loading Scrot so I could take a screenshot or two. The images then go into the image viewer on the menu. I am running on Debian which is unix (apple) like. I got the Raspberry Pi as part of my two things to get better at this year – coding and making videos. There is a lot of Python on this Raspberry Pi and I can shift the Python things I have already onto here and I should be right. I am amazed how such a tiny piece of equipment can be so fully functional. All credit to the developers.

Ten resources over ten days

aitsl resourcesI signed up for the Ten resources over ten days from aitsl, our professional standards organisation. It was a sound idea on their part to get teachers off to a good start in the first two weeks of the year with some positive reminders about what our professional standards are, what we can do to enable them and what our professional organisation is prepared to do to help us and work alongside us. That is important. A professional organisation can set and monitor standards but it needs to work in conjunction with the people who are upholding those standards. The other advantages of having these ten resources popped into your email each day is you can read them when you have time and then you get an opportunity to go to the aitsl site and see what is there to help you. We are up to day five and they have certainly covered a number of really useful and practical resources which are available on their site which is now a rich source of information for creating a – dare I say it? – growth mindset for professional development and engagement. My favourite set of resources so far came on day three: Essential Guide to Professional Learning Series. I liked these resources because they keep clear what teachers and educators should have front and centre of their daily routine and M.O.

aitsl professional learningOne of the guides is The Essential Guide to Professional Learning : Leading Culture. In that guide it spells out quite clearly a paradigm which is crucial to teacher strength and well being :

What support is provided to teachers to inspire them to change and to give them feedback on their progress?

• How are teachers supported to try new initiatives in their classrooms?
• When do teachers receive feedback about their efforts to improve? Who provides the feedback?
• When do teachers work together on collaborative inquiry?
• How are teachers supported to share their expertise with others and to learn from others?
• How do leaders work to minimise the factors which distract teachers from their professional learning?
• How are teachers and leaders supported to be innovative and to try out potential new solutions to enhance student learning?

It represents a culture of collaboration, professional sharing, professional mentoring, and opportunities to discover what is available and new. The world is changing quickly. Teachers need to work together, with structure and support so they can feel comfortable and knowledgeable about new approaches, new devices, new ideas, different methodologies. Love it. Yes, let teachers try out new things but let them work together on them and work out how students will learn better from whatever it is they are thinking about doing. Peer support and peer review are part and parcel of that approach. You can still sign up for the resources. They come up on the slide show in the header at the top of the aitsl site.

Still feeling insecure about ICT?

1.TeacherCast is a very good site to be familar with and to occasionally take the time to browse. It comes up with so many practical ideas not the least of which is this video about what to do with Google in your classroom. It helps you imagine other things when you watch a video like this.

2. Our government also has a useful internet site to help you get the best out of the internet at internetbasics

3. Goodwill community foundation has free tutorials, lessons and materials to help you feel really comfortable with technology in all its forms.

4.For things iPhone and iPad then visit the site ipodiphoneitunestutorials which will walk you around all the things you need to know.

5. Snapchat, anyone? Heard about it and don’t know whether it’s for you? There is a humourous but very helpful LinkedIn slide presentation by Todd Brison. If nothing else you will know what it’s about and know how to approach it.

Put the A in STEM

“You might be studying to become artists and you might think that maybe a soldier, an engineer, a doctor can do more to try and help against war and bring peace but, actually, your talents in communication are what is really, really needed”

Nobody makes the case better for the A is STEM than the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize winner , George Gittoes. He was born in Rockdale and went to Kogarah High School. He has spent his life in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique and Afghanistan so that he could use his talents as an artist and filmmaker to teach local people media and art so they could take control of the devastation they were experiencing and find a way of expressing themselves positively and productively. In Afghanistan he even achieved permission to rent one of the billboards to show his Yellow House school children’s films. His important teaching of inspiring creativity in the face of destruction is why he is such a powerful but modest human being. A world changer. Such a remarkable man.

Classcraft

Classcraft is a new generation online teaching and learning experience so that teachers and students can gamify their content and tasks. It is certainly worth a look. There is help on the Net and YouTube videos are starting to multiply as more people are using it. You can never say yes or no to online learning sites until you have had a chance to see what they do, what they represent and how they work with your students. Two things I know from experience :1. Students love trialling apps and software and giving constructive feedback. Nothing engages them more than to be product testers. I’ve used  customised feedback docs or Edmettle to gather feedback but you could use the Google education suite. 2. Students generally respond very enthusiastically to online learning sites especially if they are available across devices which Classcraft is.

Classcraft has been developed by a teacher and trialled by  teachers . There has been some considerable high level educational thinking and consultation which has gone into this. You can use the free version and then the premium content is very reasonably priced. It is a sound idea to allow teachers and students a chance to try before they buy. Even so, the free version appears to be very workable and may be all you need. I can see this suiting some teachers and some content better than others. It is really important for teachers to be able to experience and play with things like this. It would change delivery and classroom operation. It would support flipped learning and it would move us towards allowing people to teach and learn across time and space. We are getting rid of those borders and boundaries so that teaching and learning can just occur anywhere at anytime. The school based lessons are where you pull it all together and personalise it. People need to belong to and connect in the real world and take those skills and experiences and grow them online.

Some teachers would find this approach difficult at first because they are not gamers and not familiar with games. Nor should they be, necessarily. Other teachers will lock right into this and grow it in surprising ways. Everyone, though, should understand the pedagogy of gamifying a classroom because it is literally a game changer with the students now in schools. Like anything , though, there needs to be discussion and a balanced way of utilising and introducing new ideas and theories.

There is a review of Classcraft on edshelf.

Extreme Adelaide

The GoPro Hero 4 Session action camera is designed for action sports like snowboarding, water sports , scuba diving. It is totally waterproof and can be attached to cars and other moving vehicles. It is a 4cm cube and so is very portable and dinky. That’s not why I have one. The tiny size means you can put it in your pocket or put it on a lanyard. It can be carried with no fuss whatsoever. I take it out when I am walking my dog. I have had 3 dog attacks in 3 years walking my dog. One attack meant I was off work for 3 days and had no proper walking function for 8 weeks. Someone suggested I take a video of what goes on. I always have my phone but it’s a hassle trying to get that out and set the video function up. The GoPro cube has one button. Press for on and press for off. That easy. It therefore serves the purpose of being my minder. Its other purpose is because , as I said, I want to work on improving my video skills and coding this year. The GoPro doesn’t have a preview window. It is not designed to be an official video camera. It’s for action sports. That’s not me. I am finding other uses for it and it is fast becoming a best friend. You can bluetooth connect with a phone or tablet to get a preview of what you are doing but when you are actually doing it’s not particularly convenient.It is convenient to connect after filming to watch the footage. The way it works means I have to trust myself and my judgement. It is forcing me to get better at noticing what I am filming and how to hold it to get better footage. It is making me more intuitive. I then have all these little videos to sort through which give me instant feedback on what I have done so I can be better next time. I have tested it for filming myself talking at it and the result is very good and the microphones work really well. I read some reviews where they were complaining about the fish eye lens. I love it. Gives footage a surreal quality but it also takes in huge panoramic views easily. The GoPro doesn’t like to be confined. When I filmed myself my image wasn’t at all distorted in any way. This is a good learning curve for me because it is making me do something I don’t normally do: just go and film something and not worry about how it will look because it will look fine!(mostly). I have made this film on Adelaide because we are going through massive upgrades in the city and it is all coming together. It’s something I could discover and share.

Penmanship

Master penman Jake Weidmann is an amazing teacher and student. His capacity to learn and apply his knowledge becomes self-evident. He is one of twelve master penmen in the world and he is 20 years younger than the others. He gives what he is doing his heart and soul and then puts in all the hours of application to be the shining light he is. He epitomises the art of learning, the art of knowing and now the art of teaching. This video can show us how someone can be encouraged to learn and know. The bottom line is commitment.

You can play Hay Day on a PC

Hay Day It was a case of third time lucky. I tried BlueStacks which was so near but so far away. It loaded, I signed in and then it hung forever! The interface was clean and clear but it just wouldn’t let me log into the apps. Droid4x didn’t load and I think that was because Windows 10 did not like it at all. Epic fail on that one. I then had Andy to try .It loaded, signed me into the Google Play store and then thought for a bit. Emulators sometimes need time to think and make the connections with the foreign environment they are running in. I searched for and downloaded Hay Day. I then had to sit through the beginning screens of the game and wait until it loaded and I could go to the settings. I logged into my Facebook account and was already logged into Google Play. I needed this to connect to the Hay Day I had been playing on my iPad and then Google Play connection is needed to save the game. It plays perfectly on my desktop. At the end there is a screen which says nothing will be saved. Not true. Facebook login and Google Play login mean your game play is saved. I have a computer with 8GB of ram and that certainly helps with emulators. Andy has a really modern and clean interface. I look forward to checking out what else I can do with it. Right now I am thrilled to play my favourite game du jour on my desktop!

Close apps in iOS 9

Easy when you know how!

1. Double click Home button – or on an iPad you can 5 finger swipe up – to get the taskbar.

People are used to holding their finger on the icons until they wiggle and then using the little black cross top left to close the app. Not in iOS 9.

2. You will now see a series of open screenshots of apps you have been using. Slide them up with you thumb as in the video or, if you are like me and don’t have good use of your thumbs, hold your finger on the open image and slide it up.

Do video games improve your eyesight?

According to this video clip, yes. If you play first person shooters. Too bad if that clashes with your values . You are stuck with less than superior vision. According to the National Geographic site , it’s action games which improve your vision . If you read the comments under the clip I have put up, there are some interesting discussions and one person believes their vision has improved by using MineCraft. You can read the interview with Dr. Maurer who did the 2012 research quoted in the video. In the interview she said she was working on a non violent game which would achieve the same ends.I wonder if it’s out yet? My optometrist had to make me new glasses last year because my vision had improved, particularly my long distance vision. I have been playing more games which go between fixed focus and moving content. I wonder? We need more research so we understand in detail how this all works . If games can improve and/or preserve vision we need to get onto it. We exercise our bodies. We exercise our minds. Maybe we need to exercise our eyes.

GoPro Studio Software

I use the GoPro app on my Samsung phone and iPad and it works well. I thought I’d try the GoPro Studio software to edit my videos. It is free to download, doesn’t take long and does not come with any annoyingware. There are templates you can use and they give some good examples of how you can edit your videos. They are all good quality footage. I was using my Hero4 Session which I am still getting used to and thGoPro Studioought I’d put some clips together. It doesn’t take long because GoPro studio is not a complicated video editing programme. It works . It does a good job and you can convert the clips to import them into other video editing software if you want to. It is simple and effective and from that point of view would be handy if you wanted to publish a video quickly and in a fuss free way.

Look good on a webcam

Why wouldn’t I listen to Matthew Rolston? For a start he is very comfortable and quietly confident on camera and for seconds he is a famous, successful photographer and director who knows how to make people look good on camera. His suggestions are easy, practical and no nonsense. Everyone can do what he suggests and so the chances of improving your webcam image are guaranteed success. Why would you bother? Why would you not just go on camera and rattle off your instruction or content? Some might be able to this easily because they are totally comfortable on camera. The rest of us need to approach it more thoughtfully and find ways and means of feeling that we are taking the time to be considered in our approach. Teachers like to be thoughtful and they like to know they are doing it properly. It’s about role modelling and self belief. You cannot teach well if you feel you are not right, if you feel insecure or if you feel you are not presenting a rock solid image. Matthew Rolston’s sensible tips make you feel instantly better and so your on camera performance will be better. His understated presentation style inspires confidence.

Look comfortable on camera

Kevin Clay makes a lot of sense and comes up with some good rationale for just getting in there and dealing with the fact you don’t feel comfortable on camera and you can’t seem to project who you think you are. It’s practice! Stating the obvious but we don’t think about it in that way and get a surprise when we don’t look and sound the same on camera as we think we do in real life. I can go in front of any class and be a strong, powerful, engaging personality. On camera I am way too quiet. I’m dealing with my not liking my voice on camera , and Kevin Clay makes some good points about that, and now I want to work on that comfort level in front of a camera. With regard to creating videos for a flipped classroom then Kevin Clay’s final point is very pertinent and will nail it for any teacher : Have something relevant to say and be helpful. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You want to be on video to help other people so forget everything else and focus on how you are going to get that message across just like you would in class or at a conference. Now for all the practice!

Because everyone needs a good Star Wars Poster for their classroom

Star Wars Image: Eduwells

Eduwells has a number of really good posters which you can use in class. He is a multi-skilled educator who has taught in several countries and his blog provides plenty of practical information as well as ideas to consider more deeply. The poster I chose says it all . It is how you use devices and technology which makes the difference and teachers need to be teaching students how to use the best device and software for the task at hand. They also need to explore with students so that all the technology experience and knowledge of that group can be used and enhanced. I was brought up with the saying ” A poor workman blames his tools. ” It was something which all adults said and impressed upon you as a child. The Star Wars version says the same thing but has moved the concept to the next generation. We are at the stage where we need to be discerning about how we use technology and it is something which students need to learn because surface use of any device or software will not get the best out of it and just using one thing because that’s the thing you know, is a good start, but you need to grow your adaptability and flexibility with software and hardware because it is constantly changing. This is why a classroom has to be constant conversation. Each person approaches a device, app or software differently and one of the things you can do as a teacher is watch how students approach something you ask them to do. Give them choices. Watch what tools they use and how they actually go about the task. They don’t all do it the same way unless you limit them to one piece of software and one form of presentation. Encourage yourself and others to think about how you are using technology.

Which app for voice recording?

bossjockAll I wanted to do was practise recording my voice so I could get over the sound of it. It’s a recommendation which is working well. I have had some good feedback from listening to my recordings and I have had a chance to normalise recording myself. I worked in a language laboratory for 10 years and ought to feel comfortable with voice recordings. I’m not. I need faces to talk to. I don’t like talking to the air or a camera lens. I was looking on my iPad for what I could use. I found Beats!HD which doesn’t appear to be available in the app store anymore. Then there was Boss jock studio which is a paid app I got as a birthday present and which I reviewed here.It is very good and makes very clear recordings. Wavepad was there because it is on all my devices. It’s a really good, straight forward free recording app which you can buy content for but it works extremely well as the free app. I also found Garage Band which came free with my iPad Air. Beats!HD doesn’t have a timer but it records easily and has the carts where you can store your recordings. Bossjock has the carts too (the little squares in the image.) That is such a good idea for a classroom and I wish all recording apps would store their files like this instead of in lists which you tap on. It means current content is there before your very eyes and easily labelled and accessible. You don’t want to be fumbling with lists with 30 students waiting for you to get going. Wave Pad gives you the chance to easily clean up and enhance your recordings with simple , easy to follow buttons. GarageBand is also easy to use once you work out how to extend the recording time. There are other apps and there may be apps you find easier to use. Sometimes it comes down to how you operate on your device. All of them made clear recordings and that is what you want: a clear, strong recording of your voice. I hope developers would consider the use of carts in the apps suitable for education, at least as a view option for teachers and students. It really is more classroom friendly.

Extend voice recording in Garage Band app

Garage Band appImage: EssentialMac-UK

I was trying out the different apps I had on my iPad to see which one would be the best for voice recordings. I got to Garage Band and then got stuck with an 8 second recording which I could not change. When you see the 8 bars you don’t automatically think of clicking on that to make other choices to extend the recording . EssentialMac-UK is a very handy site for all things Apple and the clarity of instruction is just what you need when you are stuck. They have a post on how to increase the recording time. Please note that you have to do this every time you make a recording. It would be better if you could leave it on the extended recording setting. Maybe next app update?

Just wow – Teachers’ Registration Board of SA

trbThe Teachers’ Registration Board SA has always been, well, the Teachers’ Registration Board of SA. The information has always been solid, reliable and ,er, very solid and reliable. Conservative. Corseted. Whaleboned, even. It has always been a VERY IMPORTANT organisation. Impressively VIP like Her Majesty. I have always dutifully read the missives, taken onboard the information and then forgotten about them until registration has come around. They have needed to be VERY IMPORTANT. They are our registration board. Recently I received an email from Communications, TRB with the subject heading TRB-Registration Buzz – Issue 33. TRB. TRB. Who on earth are TRB sending me an email? Registration Buzz? What’s that? Have I been asleep for 32 issues? My email blocks images to prevent my getting unsolicited nasties so I clicked on the Registration Buzz Banner alt link. I arrived on the trb Teachers’ Registration site . trb with little letters. This was a new image. I well remember the last time I went on the site and I haven’t been back since. I was trying to clarify what I needed to do for registration and where you housed that information. On the new site I can easily see the Teachers’ Portal. It is there very clearly at the top. Last time, I had hunted around the (old) site and had ended up ringing them because I just could not find what I needed. I spoke with a woman of quality politesse with an impeccable speaking voice  who guided me to the right spot so I could get the information .She explained it to me expertly . That was followed up with an email which confirmed all the information we had discussed on the phone so I had a written copy of what I needed. That is the level of quality information and support we have always had from our Teachers’ Registration Board. Now , though, they have rebranded themselves. Done what the French call a “relooking” and this nouveau look for 2016 is grand. The site is now very accessible and human. The TRB is now very accessible and human.They are abuzz and atwitter (@TRB_SA) and have engaged in social media in a very positive, energetic way. I  follow them on Facebook and Twitter and the information coming out is of its usual high quality but they have now made a real connection with us. I received another Registration Buzz Newsletter in my email this morning. I knew what it was and I read it very happily , thank you. Well done trb and wow. Just wow!

How to change your Mac icons

Students asked me before how I changed my Mac icons and I wrote this post Change your Mac icons. Students asked me again at the end of last year how I changed my Mac icons and so here is another post. The video explains it really well. You can just search for icons and download them and then use the preview pane to copy and paste the icons. Sometimes it doesn’t change. Don’t panic. If that happens on a folder it will invariably change when you reboot your Mac.I usually pick icons which support learning we are doing or a theme I am running in class. The video refers to Mavericks but changing the icons works the same way in all the previous versions of Mac OS.

Get over the sound of your voice

When we are asking teachers to make videos for a flipped classroom we are asking them to confront something which is common – the dislike of the sound of their own voice. This is sufficient to create a major block in producing these videos competently or even comfortably. Cyberspace’s answer to that is – Get over it! That simple. Just do it and get over it. You need tips and tricks, though. When you confront a roadblock to learning and productivity you need the stepping stones to get you onto solid ground. Shannon Hernandez (@ShanJHernandez) was an English teacher. He knows what it’s like in a classroom. He knows that vocal confidence is something you can work on  which is invaluable and, as an ex-teacher, he knows how to get you to move forward. His site Shannon J. Hernandez gives ideas and support for podcasts ,recordings and other things digital. He works in radio and he has worked on his voice so that it now is something which allows him to go online and help others. As I said previously, one of my aims this year is to create much better videos. That doesn’t just happen. I have to work on the things which will get me there. One of those things is my voice. I do hate the sound of my voice on video. So Shannon suggests recording yourself into your phone regularly. He suggests listening back. You create a learning feedback loop for yourself which allows you to do something practical but then notice. I should have thought of that myself. I’m a French teacher. Languages classes are always getting students to record and playback their voices. We are always working on articulation, facial expressions, voice exercises. It took Shannon to make me notice and realise I can apply that to myself. I have watched my students become confident and capable language users because we record and play back. It will apply to me, too. My firsts steps then will be:

1. Record myself on a regular basis
2. Play back and notice what I can improve
3. Speak clearly
4. Focus on the message
5. Use headphones

I can do that!

Don’t try this at home or anywhere else!

I love gadgets. I love looking at gadgets. I am always amazed at how inventive and creative people are and when it comes to a fancy phone you’ve invested in, it is always good to know you can do more and more with it. Then I saw the first gadget on this video and had kittens. Why would you put your smartphone in a drone and just let it fly up into the air anywhere? Over the ocean? In the mountains? Off a balcony? My brain had a million thoughts all at once. I could just see it. The drone malfunctions, there appears to be no remote, your fancy phone noses dives into oblivion. Do manufacturers see us coming? Is this drone safer than it appears? Even if you use it in a controllable, contained environment what if it did crash…and smash your phone screen? Is the screen protected in some way? I cannot understand why you’d put your expensive phone into a drone and just let it fly away. Recipe for disaster is it not? The other gadgets more than made up for it. Yes, it would be good to have lenses which improve close up photo quality, the 3D scanner was incredibly impressive, the air button was such a good idea and the wifi/bluetooth earbud charger case was a well thought out idea and I can see it being popular. Are those earbuds a health risk , though? You could read these forum posts and have your own thoughts. You could also read the really helpful article on Electricsense. I think we need experts to weigh in on this with us and give us some clear and definite information.

How to blend images

It’s actually quite easy to blend images together. I use ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which I got free with a digital camera. You can also use GIMP which is an open source image editor.It is something you can search for on YouTube and find your preferred photo editor. Our school laptops come with Photoshop and even though it looks hard , it really is straight forward. catsSometimes I splash a bit of extra colour into certain areas of the image with the paint bucket tool. You  pick the tool , the colour and click on an area of the image. If you don’t like what you have done, you simply use the undo button.

Old books as art

Like one of the commenters on this clip , I didn’t know whether to be disturbed or inspired by this. I was brought up with a huge respect for books and the knowledge and creativity they could bring to my life. As a mother I realised I had preached the message well when my daughter was horrified I was going to dispose of the blue Webster dictionary she had grown up with and we had always used and replace it by a brand , spanking new dictionary. The Webster now has a place of honour in her home. I do think we need to move on and I do think we need to move past paper. Some of these works of art are created from very old books which I would have thought had a cultural and archival value. Maybe not. Maybe we already have preserved other copies. If we move away from paper then we shall have all these excess books and to reinvent them into works of art which bring a clear artistic and cultural message is amazing and better than throwing them away. We do need to honour books. I was wondering what I’d do with my set of encyclopedias. Remember when we all thought someone was a genius because they had actually read the encyclopedia Britannica one volume at a time? Those people were revered. Can anyone read the whole of Google? These book artists , though, are making an interesting statement. They are not only very talented and imaginative they are making books spectacular for the visual messages they can now create. You can see more examples on the TED Ideas Gallery and decide where you stand.

ICT is priceless

Surprisingly, first world countries debate whether we should use ICT or not. Whether it would not be better to stay with books, paper and pens. We are surrounded by technology in the real world. Everything is being upgraded in terms of technology and we wonder if it is valid. Some teachers choose not to use it. If schools are not using technology they have been given then it needs to go to the SOS Children’s Communities , Kenya or India. There are hundreds of clips on YouTube showing us how ICT in places like that is giving women livable lives, saving their children and making a difference in their communities. Many of these communities revolve around a radio station. It is their technology and community hub. If people can get access to mobile technology they can then get the help they need. They can save their children, they can give birth safely, they can learn to read, write and broadcast their messages. It puts them in control of their pathways. We need ICT to educate our children appropriately for the 21st century and part of that will be fostering viable links with communities which need to deliver much needed help and education via mobile technology, satellite links, mobile connectivity. It is humbling when you watch these clips but also enlightening because it puts ICT in perspective. It’s life changing.

Clean inside your laptop

Dust and particles build up inside a laptop and may cause shutting down or overheating problems. A regular clean will help laptops and desktops for that matter. The video will show you how you can clean the vents without going inside the laptop. TechRadar gives  written instructions as to how to clean inside a laptop. Pay heed to number 1 if you are not confident. One of the best things to do , though, is stand alongside someone who knows how to clean inside a laptop and just watch them. Looking and learning is always a good first step.

  1. Don’t clean inside your laptop if you are not sure about it. Get someone who is comfortable with and used to the process.
    2. Use latex or disposable gloves.
    3. Don’t clean inside the laptop if it does not belong to you. Follow company/organisation policy on laptop maintenance.

Clean your laptop

Laptops get dirty and harbour germs and bacteria. Some people eat over them or use the camera like a mirror and put make up on. If your laptop has a case, little bits and pieces will get between the case and the laptop and the surface of the laptop will get scratches over time and the keyboard will get clogged with bits and pieces which will prevent air flow.

1. You can’t clean a laptop keyboard by turning the laptop upside down and banging it. Bad idea!
2. If your laptop is on loan from an organisation then they should have recommendations as to how to keep it clean.
3. If it is not your laptop, don’t pull it apart.
4. Unplug the laptop and turn it off before cleaning.
5. Use water or screen cleaner and use them very sparingly. Water and electricity don’t mix.
6. I’d rather use a puffer brush than canned air for environmental reasons.
7. I use a small , good quality brush rather than a pipe cleaner for cleaning nooks and crevices.
8. Laptop TLC is worth it !

WordPress Anniversary

Wordpress Anniversary It’s nice of WordPress to notice my blog anniversary even if it is automatic. I have blogged since 2003 . I started with Blogger which is now part of the Google suite. That blog is still going. I then came to WordPress because I thought it suited my needs better and celebrated my 9th anniversary on WordPress over the Christmas period. So, what are the benefits of blogging?

1. To share my ideas
2. To develop my ideas
3. To back up critical resources
4. To have a positive, substantial online image
5. To reflect upon my practice
6. To muster resources for my needs
7. To explore ways and means of doing things
8. To get peer review
9. To connect with others
10. To consolidate my knowledge

My blog backs up my classroom, my interests, my resources. If I am trying to learn something I can store helpful ideas on my blog and discuss them. If I have done something I can reflect on it and share it as an idea or way of doing things. I can keep up with current trends and I can more closely examine resources which are coming out. At the moment, visitors are mainly coming from US, India, UK, France , Spain and EU.

My top posts are currently:

Telefunken TEL7J tablet

ICT skills checklist

Padagogy – Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Make a digital advent calendar

2D images into 3D online

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 2015

I can download my stats from WordPress as a csv file so I can look at them more closely. It does pay to look at what brings people to my blog, although I confess I blog mainly for myself first and then if it is helpful to others and it if it appeals to others that is a good thing. In the end, the blog builds up an archive of who I am , what I do and what I am interested in. It also is a place where I can have things I can easily share with others if they are interested.

ICT – where now?

This video is 5 years old , has great music and sums up well where we have been and how we have striven to get technology into classrooms. We have worked hard on developing 21st century learning skills. The video also points to where we need to be looking now:

We need to recognize we can no longer simply educate students to become technology users – and consumers – without also helping them learn how to become critical thinkers about technology and the social issues surrounding its use.

Cynthia L. Selfe

It’s about finding the right tool for the job, looking at what is appropriate and not appropriate in terms of apps and software, looking for the most effective way or ways of presenting information or gathering information. Students are surrounded by technology out of school. As teachers we need to be aware of what is popular, what it means, what the social impact is and whether these tools can serve other purposes which would suit our educational needs. As the other Ms. Selfe quote says, we have to pay attention to technology. We have to be aware, share and dare to be different sometimes and allow that all to be peer reviewed. As teachers we need to take safe, well considered steps but if we discuss our ideas and think them through with others, there is no reason we should not try to make sound educational use of what is now a banquet of apps, software, tools and tricks. We are lucky we are connected teachers because we have the opportunity at any time of the day or night to get professional feedback and encouragement . We are never stopped, blocked or held up with what we need to do and we can validate our ideas as we have them no matter when.Our real and virtual connections mean we can be more adventurous and secure in our planning and ideas development.

What is creativity?

Interesting look at what constitutes creativity and it is the use of technology which allows all these thoughts and ideas to be put together in a fascinating way. Some interesting information about David Bowie too who is , has been and will continue to be a major creative influence in the world.

Hay Day

Hay DaySeriously, what were they thinking? This is a game with superb graphics and graphics capabilities. The graphic artists have real skills…and a sense of humour. This is not funny. It’s hideous. I won a floating balloon cow. It offends my aesthetic sensibilities so I put it on the farm to show you and now it is safely hidden away in storage. In this game you do not have the option of selling unwanted, tasteless items. So the cow is locked away forever. That’s a shame when it’s so good taking part in the global competitions or spinning the wheel. A cow like that mars your day. Apart from that I am going really well on this game and it never ceases to amaze me how much it can make me think. It poses some interesting dilemmas and forces me to be far more flexible in my thinking that I ever thought possible. I solved my mountain of dead trees and shrubs and realised you get rid of the dead trees and replant  them then you either don’t harvest them or you harvest bits of them and keep them alive. When possible you can harvest them fully and replace them. There is always a shortage of saws and axes and it does impinge on the game. I am now swamped by dead nectar bushes…the white daisy bushes in the picture. Some were nice for decorating but I am now using good land to house dead nectar bushes. They build up quickly so there is no real solution. They ought to last for longer or if you are running hives you need access to more axes. That simple. No, it’s not. You cannot keep hiring Tom at 15 diamonds a day to clean up. It solves the problem temporarily. You can choose not to make honey but a solution ought not be a deficit model. I extended my lobster farm and that is fun and I have my duck salon and that kept everyone amused and entranced at Christmas. It is so clever, funny and well thought out. So why the hideous balloon cow?

Versatile NoteLedge

NoteLedgeI have used the free, older version of the NoteLedge app on my iPad and there is a MacBook version as well which is pretty handy. NoteLedge is easy to use, offers some good note making options and is something which suits a classroom well. If you look at the images you can see my original handwritten ideas are much neater than the stylus writing. To be honest, I am better on a graphics tablet and with something like Tux Paint. Is it me? It is the app? I look at it this way. If I use it the developers will see how bad I am with a stylus on an iPad and make the app more responsive. It prints quite well but , you know, I am an adult, I want to use cursive. If I wanted to print , I would type. That said, you can look at the screenshots on the app site and it may just be I need to practise more. Electronic things can develop as you do and they become familar with your way of doing things as you use them. My next thought is a perennial one. Should I pursue handwriting on the iPad or just keep it to my graphics tablet? Do I pursue something which looks pretty sloppy or do I use the tool which makes me look effective? My answer is a bit of both. Keep practising but use my graphics tablet when I really need to have a credible image. I have tried different styluses and so far…no. Not that good. Last week I was able to get NoteLedge Ultimate for free on App of the Day. I really like it. My handwriting is a bit better but there is so much more with this one. It is 9.99 paid so you would really want to know that this is something you would use regularly and would be of good help. I started to work more effectively with this version because it runs really smoothly. One good thing about NoteLedge is you can export it to different file formats. The free version is very effective, though, and you can sync across devices.

If I am using something like this in class for the first time, we do the 5×20. 5 things in 20 minutes. It could be 5 things I like, 5 things about winter, 5 things I want to do, 5 things I did at the weekend. Sometimes I get the students to load their efforts onto the LMS so I can have a good look at what hey have done. Other times we just do show and tell and oral feedback. Students love using new things, they love exploring and they love reviewing. I always tell them that we won’t know if this is any good for learning or not unless they try it out and tell me what they think. I usually use Edmettle to get the feedback. Meanwhile, I shall keep practising.

Old technology meets the new generation

This is funny but it is interesting in so many ways. The old gadgets are so familiar to me but so is the new way of doing things. I have mastered the old skills and the new ones. These children are looking to do that too but you can hear how in charge of the new technology they are. They seem to be modest, balanced, interested and full of good humour. These children have a good way of engaging with learning. Not just good. It’s impressive. In the typewriter scene you hear about how the  young boy creating his own story, The Lost Island. His ideas are complex and well thought out. In the mean time you watch the young girl become totally entranced with the typewriter and she is watching it all very closely. Ellen engages the children by talking to them, asking some natural questions and then using humour. We then watch a generational exchange of ideas and had the video gone on for longer some real learning and creativity would have occurred. It was connecting everyone’s knowledge and it was about collaborating. This video also demonstrates clearly that being on familiar ground makes you feel confident. The young boy exclaims how complicated an answering machine is but now he is ready to learn something new and the potential of it. Finding ways of generating curiosity and teaching content at the same time has been mastered well in this video. Everyone is learning and everyone is teaching. That’s how it works!

Teaching with technology

teachnologyThere is nothing magical about teaching with technology. ICT raises the bar in terms of classroom organisation. At any given time you can have 30 students with 60 devices because they will have their school approved device and a mobile phone. You are managing content delivery, content access, responsible use , behaviour and engagement all at once. Somewhere in there you are also meeting performance guidelines and criteria for yourself and your students.  Teaching is now complex but it is far more enjoyable and certainly more dynamic because we have technology. You haul as a team in a classroom. To be a teacher in a technology classroom you have to be supremely confident, calm, cheerful and alert. You apply yourself to learning the devices any school has offered you and you allow yourself to be open to incoming information all the time. You are a connected teacher who can make your job easier if you plan it right. You can be given instruction and training. You can access that yourself too. You can arrange your social network feeds to come up with ideas and information for you. You can go on YouTube and look up whatever it is you cannot do. You need a babbling brook of information input and you need to be in collaborative mode all the time so that any block, hiccough or implementation dip is smoothed over quickly. You need the work arounds, the feedback, the capacity to be learning 24/7. You need solid, reliable file back up. You need to be thinking in terms of sharing and improving. I have made a list of what I think makes a successful teachnologist. It doesn’t just happen. You have to think about it the same as you do when you are learning to drive a car and then being a driver. If the car is locked in the garage, you won’t be going anywhere.

Thinking Kit

Thinking KitThis  free Thinking Kit app is designed for iPads and for students to work in pairs to promote collaboration and some real thinking as they learn. It can be used solo. I have downloaded it onto my iPad and there are examples of what you can do with this app. I would imagine it would suit some subject areas better than others and some activities better than others. I was going to look at it to see if you could use it for language learning. The site for Thinking Kit provides a lot of support and what I like about his type of app is that it allows you to work your way through what it can do so that you learn as a teacher. You can try different things and see what the app can achieve. It is also a good app for getting student feedback so they are partners in learning. You can work with them to create better tasks and improved learning scenarios. You can create the activities in any browser on any device. Since this is a hands on app, I’ll let you look and explore.

Augmented reality in class

augmented reality  board gameOr classy augmented reality. The reality is a teacher conceived and created this augmented reality board game because he saw an image on the internet. We are connected. Our ideas are brewing over cyberspace. As teachers we benefit from being connected. This is the best outcome. A teacher has seen something and transformed that into an augmented reality game to be used in Phys Ed classes. Teachers need to be in control of technology in their classroom and they need to be developing digital materials which suit their needs, the needs of their students at the time and then do exactly what collinbrooksie has done – share their ideas. The PHYSEDogogy site is a good place to know if you have an interest in delivering Phys Ed curricula. There needs to be a way now of encouraging those teachers who have or could have the sorts of skills to develop workable materials for class to have time to share and develop their ideas. Mostly it is done out of class , in isolation with the encouragement of an online PLN. Maybe that’s the way it should be done so there is global input ,collaboration and broad peer review. Maybe , also , it needs to be recognized in real time and space.

Technology makes reading better

readingTeachThought always comes up with good posts and this one about technology aiding reading is really worth the read. Terry Heick has analysed and articulated the benefits of reading with technology and how it actually works. There is also a list of apps for close reading. E-readers certainly aid reading development because there is quick and easy access to an e-dictionary as you read. When you are trying to learn a language then the dictionary facility is vital to ensure you do not skip over words you don’t understand. As a teacher of French I can isolate expressions, words and really focus on language development, improvement and linguistic competence because I have a whole range of tools to break down sentence structure, paragraphing and vocabulary. I can so easily shine the light on what needs to be learned . Technology offers tools to create linguistic diversity and depth.

Getting the best out of your action camera

I like Kevin. He gets right into it and simply recommends the 10 best things to do to get better images with your action camera. He also explains why you should do that. As he is explaining there is some good footage to reinforce the points he is making. You might not want your action camera for snowboarding or other action sports. His tips cover using the camera not the activity and so the things he recommends are camera-based and not expecting you to be like him doing what he is doing. It is a genuinely helpful video. So what are his tips?

Get a selfie stick (gimble)
Back up batteries
Frame rate
Angles
External sound
Close ups
Helmet Mount
Clean lens
Framing
Be selective

I do have a selfie stick for my GoPro and it has been better for me to use it because I have a bad habit of getting my fingers in the way.If you are doing rugged sports and activities then there are really durable gimbles available. Normal ones like mine are not that expensive and since it also connects to my camera as well then it was a few dollars well spent. I also now understand better about setting a frame rate. My mission now is to look for the sorts of external recording devices I might be able to use.

100 most subscribed Australian You Tube Channels

This is interesting, to say the least. The top 100 most subscribed You Tube Channels in Australia. As a teacher you need to be aware of the media influences and influencers and what local content is having an impact globally. You need neither like nor dislike it. You can value it or not as you choose. You are a teacher: an educator and education is about enlightening experiences and authentic learning. Sometimes you have to know what is currently holding society in its thrall so you can work a pathway to learning objectives though content delivery. Sometimes you need to know what the influences are so you can balance them by creating perspective and context. You Tube is a big influencer and our students spent a lot of time on it. I wonder how much? They used to come out with how much time students spent watching television and then playing games. I haven’t seen any information about how much time students spend on which internet sites.

Frame it !

marvel The site VIP TALISMAN has over 6000 really good photo effects so you can frame images and create custom albums if you wish. It’s free and runs in several languages. I alert you to the fact that the men’s photo section has some semi clad but not horrendous women and the women’s section has hundreds of  lovely floral images. If it weren’t for the stereotyping of women it would be a safe site for students to use. Adult supervision and input needed I would think. They have probably seen a lot worse on TV or elsewhere on other internet sites but that is not the point. A great site which I use to upgrade my own images but letting the team down by gender stereotyping and representation. I went to the men’s section to get this cool car.

Make a good You Tube video

With nearly 95 000 hits on this video alone and nearly 65 000 subscribers to his You Tube channel, then it is probably worth listening to what rickvanman has to say about making basic You Tube videos. My plan for 2016 is to improve my video making skills and work on my coding. Those are the next logical steps for me. Students always appreciate well made videos for learning and they value the time and skills you put into it. It also means you have a bank of resources for students who are absent for whatever reason and for students who want to fast track themselves. It is coming very much to the point where we are personalising learning. Students absorb material very quickly from moving images. The dark back drop on this one makes a point. You focus more on what is being said and it highlights there is a real person talking and sharing information with you. The tips are:

Be concise
Use good lighting
Use an external mic
Keep the music quiet so as not to distract
Avoid camera shake
Cut out the erms and ahhs
Keep it fast moving, fast paced and flowing…get on with it!

It is all practice and awareness raising. It is testing the water and building skills so you can deliver confidently.It is also questioning and assessing whether you actually want to put yourself in a video or just create content videos which are relevant.  Making a good video is something students need to learn too since theirs is very much an online sharing and collaborative world. They need to be able to have a positive, effective online image and style.

I can make videos which, from the feedback I have received, are helpful and useful to students. I want to lift myself up now and get even better at producing video content. It is the direction we are going in and no video can replace a good teacher but  videos are part and parcel of learning and teaching now because there are more and more sites which share video content. We are connected. rickvanman can teach anyone anywhere  in the world if they want to listen.

Do video games make you smarter?

Well, yes, apparently they do. The video is worth watching to see the patterns of thought about this and how research has discovered some interesting benefits of gaming. We need more research and we need more information about how gaming helps us. We need to the opposite too. We need to look at how gaming can be detrimental. We need to understand it better because games are ubiquitous. They keep people online more than anything else on the Net and they make squillions. The money making aspect of it means developers know how to keep people engaged and part with their cash! As teachers we need to intervene and look at the educational benefits, the learning outcomes and how they improve thinking. This way games and gaming will have a steadying force. My own experience is not THE experience but I certainly find games challenge me to think more flexibly, present me with problems to solve which force me to think more creatively and  push me in directions I don’t want to go and so I have to develop a strategy to counteract that .Games build self confidence and decision making competencies.  I do not want to be a victim when I play games and actively combat that as I play games. I have found using gaming principles in class for the last two years has lifted the skills and knowledge levels of my students. I  have been able to engage them easily and we have a lot of fun as we are working hard. Games involve us and the rest of the planet so much we need to get a better picture of what they can and can’t do for us.

Easy New Year greeting card

You might not want to send an electronic greeting for the New Year. You might actually want to make a greeting card. The beauty of the internet is that those with skills and ideas can share them. This is a very effective card and the video is composed so that interest and understanding are sustained. The idea of putting a paint brush in a compass is novel but as I sat and watched I was wondering if it would be that easy! Someone has a lot of skill. It is all about confidence. I guess if you couldn’t do the painted circles you could get the trusty textas out and draw around things…

Organise NYE greetings from your mobile

WhatsApp is a free cross platform messaging service without ads. It is also a site which offers some great ways of using mobile devices to connect for important occasions. Get the Happy New Year 2016 Greetings and send your friends and family their own e-greeting for the New Year. There are choices! So easy!

We have quantum computers

Quantum computers are finally on the planet so we are set poised to really take off with technology. Don’t get too excited, though, because it will take a while to perfect and improve the research and then apply it. It would also appear quantum computers won’t be  much help in our daily lives.

So, in practice, classical computers will probably be faster and more practical than quantum computers for day-to-day operations, and quantum computers will only come in useful where massive parallelism is involved. When they are let loose, though, their speed will be spectacular.

gizmag

The article does explain how the research is going and how the University of NSW has built the first blocks of a quantum computer in silicon. If you want to keep up-to-date on quantum computing developments then it is good to consult the site D:Wave which is a quantum computing company. Then you need to visit ExtremeTech to keep your feet on the floor as they always make an effort to bring sound information without the hype. This is all exciting, though. The world is about to make a quantum leap forward in technology.

Retention rates for app categories

education apps

Image: BusinessofApps

I’ll just let you bask in the glory of this. Just let it sink in and have its impact.

“Surprisingly, educational apps scored second highest across both operating systems and eCommerce ranked third.”

It’s not surprising. Inspite of occasional negative press, educators have worked hard on finding the right apps for students. Parents have worked on sorting out the good apps from the not so desirable. Teachers and parents have worked together to find and support the best apps for learning. Schools have spent hours putting in the infrastructure and expertise to get mobile and technology learning going. Teachers have spent hours working out how to use mobile apps and encourage their use  in and out of class. That education apps has come second to gaming is a glorious moment at the end of 2015. The last 3 years have been intense trying to match apps and classrooms, apps and flipped learning, apps and personalised learning. It’s not a surprise. It’s a fantastic reward for a lot of hard work on Twitter, blogs and webinars by educators and developers. It has been a global collaboration where tools and mobile learning has been shared and fostered. When I first started this blog the site analytics rated education as low and that I should consider other things to get traffic and a higher profile. I said then we needed to raise the impact of education on the internet because it should not be considered as low ranking.

It’s good we can now have data from places like Adjust via Business of Apps.Teh information on this website is really useful.  It means we can look at what we are doing as educators and get feedback. it is important we hold a firm, strong place on the internet because it is where much of our material and resources are shared. We need to know that we can hold a solid place in the world rankings of internet things. Should we aim to come first in 2016? What would we need to do to do that?