Shifting blog from Blogger to WordPress.com

settingssaveI wanted to migrate my blogs from Blogger to WordPress so all my blogs are in one place. Since I already had 3 blogs on WordPress I thought it a good idea to shift the 2 Blogger ones over so they are all central. It just suits me  that way now. Blogger was where I started blogging and I am very grateful to that platform for giving me the confidence to grow as a blogger. The smaller blog has shifted over very easily. It took about 10 minutes and am now tidying up the presentation. The big and original blog might be a bit more complicated but I am now very confident in the process. It is actually good to see that sites can co operate so well.

To migrate a blog you log into the Blogger dashboard, select Settings, select Other and then select Backup. I backed the file up to my desktop. In WordPress you go to WP-Admin, select Tools and then select Import. Make sure you have set your new blog up first on WordPress with its template.

Free Public Domain Audio Books

sherlock holmesBooks Should Be Free has a huge selection of audio books in European and Asian languages. They are downloaded as mp3 or mp4 files so you can save them onto any device to listen to them. It’s nice to read a book but there are times where listening to a book is what you want. It means you can use them in class and play a part of the story to fill in those few spare minutes in a helpful way. Listening to books is often a way to help readers improve their reading skills as well. As these books are in the public domain then print copies will be available to download as well. Project Gutenberg would be a good place to start. One thing I’ll do with my choices is save them onto a USB and use them as an option to fill driving time along with the podcasts I regularly listen to.

Technology in the classroom – again

So what temperature is the internet today? Brrrr!! That cold, eh? The frosticles are out and have been for some time. Learning is what happens because of you. What you put into learning. The choices you make. The things you do (the choices you make). Not all learning is downloaded. Not by a long shot. Some of it is. It still then comes down to the choices you make. How you react. How you act. Whether you choose to try or just give up and just do what you have always done. What you choose , what research you do and your own learning. How well you know your materials , sites, applications and devices, curriculum expectations, learning criteria and methodologies. What else you know is added to that.

I am deeply committed to computers, tablets, social media and the internet. Smart phones not so much but Instagram is opening my vista this year. Games consoles…err, no. I love all my technology stuff. It makes me excited and come alive. I am surrounded by creative and very talented people on Instagram and it is a joy to see what they have been doing and share with them. I could have just as easily fitted into my mother’s generation because I love all of my patchwork, quilting, knitting, sewing, cooking and preserving. It comes down to the choices I make and, in truth, I have a lot of choices. I adapt very quickly to gadgets and technology and learn amazingly fast. For my age it puts me out of my time and yet, having an interest in textile crafts and cooking also puts me out of my time. I am now someone who is keeping those textile crafts and skills alive. Information technology is taking over and digital living is losing the craftmanship skills from the world. To prevent or decrease that I need to know how technology functions and what its limitations are. That way I stay in control of my life and my decisions.

Google can be so helpful in bringing up a raft of sites which will support any point of view you hold. It will reinforce opinion and stance really well. It that sense it muddies the waters so that in the end you are required to think for yourself and either keep endorsing what you believe without challenging your thoughts and behaviour or really search out what you want to know. If you follow UX (user design) principles then you will always test run your ideas with real people against reasonable benchmark criteria. Getting technology right in the classroom means you have to know your curriculum, performance standards, performance criteria, software, hardware, apps and sites. You have to spend time learning what can and cannot be done. You have to know how to improve and you have to know what to improve.

Math Open Reference looks at The Ten Fundamental Reasons for technology in education including things like weight and costs. Using technology can be very cost effective if you look at what you are using, how you are using it and whether you have planned to save printing costs and other costs like dictionaries, for example. That has to be thought through.

TeacherswithApps looks at the Top 10 Reasons Technology is Important for Education.

Assessing students performance can be done instantly with technology. It’s more than just test scores, simply understanding students grasp of the subject in real time can be done on tablets in classrooms. A classroom could be questioned with a multiple-choice problem. Students could then input their answer and the feedback score is instantly given to the student and teacher. Corrections can be made long before examinations.

You have to find the sites and apps which will do things well and very effectively. You then have to have a way of calibrating that learning in terms of global, local or national assessments/competitions. That is the best feedback for knowing whether a site or software is doing its job. You can also use apps to do your own assessment feedback where you want to assess something in particular. Learning data is provided easily and quickly through technology use. If you set students online sites to work on and just supervise that then you are not teaching. You have to work out how you intervene as a teacher as they are learning and what you can do to improve the online learning interaction.

Educational Leadership offers Five Reasons Readers Need Technology One of the criticisms you see a lot is that literacy and numeracy have fallen off since the advent of technology. As an English, Languages and to a lesser extent ESL teacher over 42 years in a classroom I have used all sorts of ways to improve language acquisition and facility. Technology has a real impact on learning vocabulary , structure and expression. You can deconstruct texts more effectively, find more and better ways of getting students to manipulate language and expression and have confidence in that. You can watch their capacity to compete nationally or internationally grow. You have to look for the right tools and you have to have a well considered plan. You have to test it all out. You have to get feedback. The points made in the Five Reasons Readers Need Technology are valid and underscore the practice of making the right choices.

THE USE AND ABUSE OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM is a post from a primary teacher and it’s from the point of view of a real teacher in a real classroom. She questions the use of drawing in a drawing app when paper would do the job. It’s about choice of medium. All artists have their preferred medium for expression. In class I have always asked students to make their own decisions about how they are going to make a picture but then to photograph it if they chose paper so we can proceed digitally. That she has shared her thoughts, ideas and experience is invaluable because it is how teachers are helping each other to grow professionally now.

Technology should give choices. We are blessed to have a lot of technology in my classroom and my favourite part of that is the choice it gives my students in both their learning style and in sharing what they have learned. When allowed to choose, some students prefer to read on iPads or computers. Others choose paper books. I think choice is important as we accommodate the variety of needs our learners have.

Even though we have been using technology in classrooms since the 70s and computers since the 80s there are still those who say it is not valid. In the real world we are surrounded by it and everything is running more and more via internet, wifi, bluetooth and Smart Socket which I blogged about yesterday is poised to be the next big thing techwise. In the meantime we have moved onto Web 3 where we are grouping ourselves specifically to crowd fund, crowd activate, crowd learn, crowd support. Technology is a real part of our lives. It is not real life. Why the confusion?

Stretch your imagination

A lot has been happening in the world of Woman Activated Networks . I continue to champion the cause of users baffled by their online experiences and applaud Facebook for its recent unerring upgrades and improvements . While I try to provide the mandatory three page response to all messages I receive , there will inevitably be some compromises at times and then those which just slip through the net. My apologies.

I received detailed instructions as to how to reprogramme my Smart Socket to reroute information from practically anywhere in the world. I don’t actually have a Smart Socket but, never mind, it is the thought that counts. I observed another example of noble thinking when I was offered hands on tuition to access a range of front end options for high end users. When it began, “Can you see the text underlined in blue? If you click on any of the text underlined in blue it will take you to a helpful website, “ my heart wilted a trifle.

One step beyond front ends are Offline Readers. The point of an offline reader is to reduce the amount of time spent connected to the Net. It accesses the services, grabs the specified data you are interested in and then you log off and you don’t really have to lift a finger. When it works an offline reader is an amazing sight to behold but they work best if you have a good understanding of the service you are accessing.

This week I am reacquainting myself with Elastic Reality, which was originally an industry standard software tool for image blending in the 90s. Now we have apps for that and Apple’s Photo Booth provides Elastic Reality without even batting an eyelid. With Elastic Reality these days we don’t ever have to think about the Render Full option. The video I have offered you is from its original concept. Now you can navigate a corridor at full pelt with no obvious escape and save the whole of civilisation from some mad cartel. In the hands of a visual arts expert Elastic Reality knows no bounds and the creative image possibilities really are infinite.

Digital colouring in books

Colouring in bookThey are everywhere. Wherever you go you see the colour art therapy books and they have gained in popularity. It is a nice thing to do. You can get digital ones now too! The Coloring Book Club is offering a free download for you to try. You fill in your email address, verify it and then you can download the pdf file. It then also offers a paid version with all the book club support and community. Your choice. I have downloaded my free one. One of the initiatives our school took was to offer colouring in for students on behaviour management. It made such a difference in my experience. It gave the student time to settle down and process what had been happening so that after a lesson they could talk comfortably about what had been a difficult situation which had culminated in their being removed from class. It meant the conversations after that were logical and rational. Colouring in is a powerful tool for self awareness and management.

Educational uses of Instagram

ablairzis is such a natural teacher. He is relaxed, happy, confident. He is enjoying sharing what he knows with us and he is delighted when he talks about the learning breakthroughs he can witness when he uses Instagram with his students. He has them involved in learning and they are participating in their learning. The DECD Social Media guidelines for South Australia are comprehensive and well thought out. Any social media activity needs to follow local policy guidelines. It is also important to let parents know you plan to use social media and how that fits in with criteria for learning, performance management and curriculum guidelines. We also have a DECD Cybersafety policy in South Australia. If you do not identify the school and you use images of ideas and work rather than people then Instagram could be very handy in a classroom and beyond because it has images and then comments and , from my experience, seems to be a stable platform which encourages creativity and supportive groups.

So what could Instagram be used for?

WeAreTeachers has 10 surprising ways to use Instagram in class.

EmergingEDTech looks at the Picture This: 5 Ways Teachers Can Use Instagram in the Classroom

EmergingEdTech also looks at the education benefits of Instagram in Using Instagram in an Educational Context

AvatarGeneration looks at how you can benefit yourself as a teacher on Instagram and how you can include parents as part of your teaching.

Daily Genius has 10 ways to use Instagram in the classroom.

It is important to start small so it is manageable. It is important to keep people informed. It is important that students are protected online and you have thought that out. Discussing your ideas with others is valuable and worthwhile. You then can work on user experience with real students and get their feedback to improve what you are doing. One point ablairzis makes is that it is a really positive use of smartphones. As teachers we need to always be teaching responsible use and creating opportunities to use the benefits of technology.

Social Media Challenge

social media challenge The blog post on ConstantContact is scaffolding for getting yourself and/or your organisation launched comfortably into social media. You can choose your platform, there are examples of what to do and then there is a 30 day challenge. Challenges are a good way to get yourself and others going. They provide ideas, impetus, feedback and a learning curve. Some challenges really are a challenge too because you find that you are not so comfortable posting about the topic of the challenge for that day. It then means you have to think it through and work out what the issues are. You are not obliged to post online and you should not be in a situation where you are uncomfortable with it. Like anything else in life a challenge will teach you what boundaries you want in place and what you consider to be appropriate and inappropriate. All of this helps you master social media and take control of it. For an organisation it provides a layer of contact and feedback which can really help the organisation to grow as it does for any individual.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day is a public holiday and day of remembrance in Australia where we, as a nation, salute the fallen. Anzac Day now bigger than just the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand troops on Gallipoli in 1915. It’s a day where we remember all Australians who have served and fallen in war and on operational service. The song I was only 19 is one which we often hear on Anzac Day even though it was written by John Schuman for those young conscripts who went to Vietnam. It’s a powerful song and now iconic in our culture. The band Redgum was one which represented those who could easily be forgotten because they had fallen in war.

There is currently quite a push on the internet so that we remember the right people for the right reasons. Netizens are questioning why we promote and endorse stupidity so easily on the internet when there are others so much worthier. This is the message of I was only 19. It is worth noting John Schuman was a teacher in a southern suburbs school and moved from there into his musical, political and social justice career. In 2015 he wrote Every Anzac Day, a song about aboriginal soldiers who served in the Australian military. He has been teaching us well about how we can deal as a nation with the impact and implications of war for individual lives.

All about Snapchat

There is nothing which replaces user experience when it comes to social media. Then there most definitely needs to be user exploration and reconnaissance. I master one social media platform at a time and it takes a good six months to get hang of it, understand its impact and implications and now how to negotiate the social media platform safely. I start slowly and build up my skills. You cannot know a social media platform from the outside. While I am not using one I look , listen and learn. You can hear about the problems, the advantages, the way people use these platforms. You can come to an understanding of what the pitfalls are and work out how you would address them. There is no privacy online. Just pretend privacy and so it is important to know how you will deal with that and manage it. The young world is very enthusiastic about Snapchat but it is becoming internet practice to get the young to pioneer applications of this sort and gradually more age groups are represented and the platform then becomes mainstream. The young will experiment and just be wildly enthusiastic about a new platform. The developers will get a run for their money too because young people can be very good at using a system in ways you had never even considered. Snapchat is part of our visual world and is instant visual messaging which theoretically has a limited time life. Maybe for the user. Snapchat is in the moment and can allow you to connect quickly with others in a very real way to share input. The sorts of input will vary I am sure. Until I am on there I can only guess and my guess will not in any way be able to quantify the value of Snapchat. The video gives you very clear explanations as to how set Snapchat up. I then have some other sites which will inform you and me as to the perceived value of Snapchat from those who use it:

snapchatHow brands can take advantage of Snapchat

Why Snapchat is the perfect app at the perfect time

Snapchat’s Update Adds Personal Username URLs: Here’s How To Get One

70 amazing Snapchat statistics

Snapchat is well loved and well used. There are 8 billion video views daily and 9 000 snaps per second. That is pretty impressive connectivity in anyone’s book.

So how’s Instagram going?

instagramaccountAnother one of those technology experiences where I am now wondering why I did not do this earlier. Like B-Pay. The whole world was using B-Pay before I got onto it. Instagram has been going since the end of 2010 so 6 years later I am onto it! I am not an earlier adopter of all things technology. The last and only time I have blogged about Instagram I explained I had set my account to private as was recommended by friends and had 6 followers. Since then I have changed the setting to public and have 46 followers and pick up followers every day. Instagram is filling the art, design, graphics gap in my online world. The UX (user experience) accounts I follow are teaching me a lot about design and presentation of graphics. There are Russian women I engage with through textile art and craft and their skills are really impressive and again , I have learned a lot. The language barrier is overcome through image sharing. There is so much colour and creativity on Instagram and so I find it a really good place to go for 5 or 10 minutes when I need a brain boost. By then I am full of creative inspiration and my thoughts have taken off again. Instagram really does bring you back to the moment and valuing the things by which you are surrounded which are fuel for creative endeavour. I have also been pleased to note that the women of Instagram have some very effective and well thought out ways of dealing with what can be considered gross misrepresentation of women in the world of graphics. They are commenting on these images in such a way that the company using the images would have to rethink what on earth they were thinking. Oddly enough, or maybe even paradoxically, even though Instagram is image based there is more being done to set right stereo types and gender profiling on that platform than on any other. Firm but fair stuff. Instagram is also the place where people find their niche. There are car and tram enthusiasts, train lovers, coffee connoisseurs, cat adorers. If you love something and are enthusiastic about it you can share your images and then find those who are like you. I would never have thought Instagram would be so positive. For businesses and organisations you get to see inside the offices and what’s on people’s desks and the views they have. You can see a meeting in progress or how they are processing their thoughts and action plans. It is really great and always gets enthusiastic feedback. And that’s the thing. Any image will immediately get effective feedback which is short , sweet and to the point but, in my experience, never rude or impolite. Suggestions for improvement are always offered in a spirit of well thought out ideas. My first 6 months on Instagram has been a real voyage of discovery. From here on in I can capitalise on that.

Calming apps

Apps can play a genuine part in keeping people well, energised and stress free. I have noticed when I have got students to access paint apps for a particular reason there are always about two who sit mesmerised trailing their fingers over their iPad or swirling the colours. I let them do it for 5 minutes, have always been impressed with the level of creativity and then tried to engage them in what we are actually doing. Now that I have listened to the video by the UX designer who developed Pause, I can see why these students have just lost themselves in the finger movements of a paint programme. It is calming, it relaxes them and it clears their mind.  Now I think about it, they were students who seemed to be anxious. Pause is a paid app but it is an app created by a top level designer who applied his design skills and knowledge and his cultural background to create something which would help him and others. Makeuseof has 10 other apps which you can use to decompress, destress, unclutter your mind. Using technology can be intense and you need ways and means of giving yourself and your brain a break and a refresh. I go on Instagram and look at all the lovely pictures. Others play a quick game but using an app designed to relax you and help you regenerate is a good way to go. The aquarium one is a paid app too but you can get free fish apps like Pocket Pond or Pocket Aquarium . There are lots of free apps  for iOS and Android to help you clear your head and feel less intense about everything which is going on. Notice which ones make a difference for you.

Protect Yourself Online

This is very dramatic. The graphics are superb and the messages are clear. The video is created by the Victorian Department of Justice in Australia. Our police and justice departments are not known for their over reactions. They deal with things very calmly. There is probably a reason for this to be so dramatic. They are dealing with things like this every day. It is their job. They want us to sit up and take notice. We can never let online protection and cyber – bullying fade from our thoughts and we do need to remind ourselves on a regular basis to keep the conversations going so that we look after ourselves and each other. It is awful a young girl would attempt suicide because of cyber-bullying but not tell any adults incase she lost internet access and her phone. That says it all. We need to look at good ways of looking after young people and we need to ensure they will report undesirable online activity to someone who can do something about it. Maybe losing their phone or online activity for a while would be a good way to help them re-establish their priorities and happy life. I would find it very difficult to be a parent these days but we do live in a community which picks up social wellbeing messages strongly and will share them publicly on the radio, on Facebook posts, in papers, on TV. We do get community messages out there effectively and that would help support parents. Schools play a role in this too and can be reminded to stay on message. Blocking, muting, unfriending , checking settings and changing passwords are all easy ways of keeping safe. No one is your friend if they are making you feel threatened and really unhappy. It’s all part of the personal and social capability of the Australian national curriculum. I have recently heard some good stories of how two parents dealt with their children who were online bullies and it more or less followed  restorative justice lines. That is if parents find out and if they have the tools to deal with these things. Some parents might feel ashamed and then not act. Some would not know. Protecting ourselves online needs to be a recurrent conversation. We can all play a part.

Apps for Earth

I like this a lot. It shows initiative. It’s positive, it will make a difference and it’s altruistic. What a nice change on the planet. There are apps which are donating revenue from  their specifically created in app content via purchases so that ALL the funding goes to the World Wildlife Fund.The project will coincide with Earth Day, Friday April 22. You can read all about it on TechCrunchHay Day WWF. I have done my bit on Hay Day. I bought their WWF diamonds for $7.99, got to redecorate my shop with a WWF banner and received a beautiful panda statue for free. So cute. If the things were in a shop I’d support this organisation. Hay Day is currently my favourite game. Games are ubiquitous and so this is a good , non intrusive way to allow people the opportunity to participate in supporting charity organisations and initiatives of their choice . There is no compulsion and no pushing. It’s presented as an opportunity and choice. I really like that.

Amplify Live

We have had film and television stars. The next generation of screen stars appears to be young and they are internet stars. YouTubing and Social Media celebrities are being born now and it’s a way of earning income as is working for television and film. Amplify Live is touring Australia and features some of these celebrities. There is a write up on it in the Sydney Morning Herald  newspaper site- Masters of the internet – how savvy teens rule the internet. You can see the internet celebrity industry is being built as were the TV and film industries. It is not just the domain of the young. Helen van Winkle is 87 years old and has nearly 2 million followers on Instagram. You can meet her here on YouTube. Online she is known as Baddie Winkle. Social media entrepreneurs are also making big incomes and enjoying celebrity status. People can use their skills, brains, personalities, creativity and internet connection and create a job, an income. Even pets can become big stars on the internet and generate income and sponsorship. MTV has Doug the Pug featured in its top 15 social media stars for 2015. The lists vary from site to site and probably from country to country. It would be good to get some rock solid global data. So what does that mean for education? Exactly. Did the film industry change schools? Did the television industry change schools? Did these screen industries impact on education? Yes, they did. So will the internet screen industry.

Games reflection

games reflectionThere are assessment rubrics for students making games. There is a really good assessment rubric for teachers to evaluate the learning value of educational games at gamifi-ed. What about assessment rubrics and reflection tools for when the students are using digital games? I have created 10 questions which I think should be part of a self reflection tool on using an electronic game. I have also linked it to the aitsl professional standards. You are welcome to the Games Reflection pdf so you can suit it to your own needs. We need to work on rubrics for the assessment of digital games. Getting students to reflect is a good first step because from that it will become clear what sorts of key areas need to be addressed in an assessment rubric.

The performance standards this Games Reflection addresses are:

1.1

Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

  1.2

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

 1.5

Evaluate learning and teaching programs, using student assessment data, that are differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

 2.6

Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.

 3.2

Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.

  3.3

Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.

 3.4

Select and/or create and use a range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

  3.6

Evaluate personal teaching and learning programs using evidence, including feedback from students and student assessment data, to inform planning.

 5.1

Develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student learning.

  5.4

Use student assessment data to analyse and evaluate student understanding of subject/content, identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice.

DIY Digital Pinball Machine

You know it makes sense. We are in the technology age. Pinball was huge in the industrial era and there are still people who will pay the 7 or 8 thousand dollars to have a real one. Pinball is now in the DIY technology arena and it is only a matter of time before they become mainstream again and arcade games come back into vogue. The video shows you how someone made one in New Zealand and Instructables has instructions as to how someone else made a digital pinball machine. There is even a series of videos about how to make a digital pinball machine on a Raspberry Pi. All of these will be considerably cheaper than a real pinball machine and create a genuine learning path with technology because you have to learn about game emulators as well as how to connect it all together. The advantage is you can change the game on a virtual pinball machine. You need a computer, a monitor, other bits and a case. If you go on You Tube you will find some people have made some lovely cases. Nothing will replace a real pinball machine but people like to build and create things. They like learning. This is a great project!

Australian National Curriculum Website

I have appreciated the fact ACARA has put all of its curriculum materials online and has consulted widely with stakeholders to ensure its website is functional and workable. I remember at one stage ,when it was all being developed , it was with a sense of celebration that we actually had managed to find the current version of the document we were looking for! Yes, it had been a team effort at a faculty meeting I was chairing and it was the preservice teacher who won that challenge. Since then it is has worked more effectively because a number of the curriculum areas are now settled. I really like the notion of general competencies because in a national curriculum we ought to be looking at things which are common to us all and all learning areas and developing those basic blocks of knowledge. We do want students to be literate, socialised, digitally competent, aware they live on a globally connected planet and that diversity is our strength and so forth. Having this material so easily accessible online is helping us to create common ground and because ACARA comes on Facebook and Twitter it is easy for us to engage with them and know what they are currently doing. That kind of information is important. Teachers need to know that this is real and happening or there is always the tendency to slide off into a local bubble. ACARA is encouraging us to think digitally and nationally by being present online. Sharing and consulting is setting a good example and will ensure we do have consistency across states. It isn’t that easy because it requires a different perspective and constant input. Technology allows the drip feeding to occur! It also means we can address issues more effectively. ACARA is very approachable because it is visible and not some vague organisation somewhere thousands of kilometres away. There is also an ACARA iPad app and that has been a very useful addition to the ACARA digital tools and presence.

Impossible is not a fact

impossible is not a factImage: Make a vision board

The full quote is:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

— Muhammad Ali

It would appear there are a number of things which are impossible with technology in education at the moment. Why is that? It’s impossible to get enough girls into STEM and that will ruin our future. It’s impossible to put the A into STEM because it might ruin STEM which will then ruin our future. It’s impossible to use technology in the classroom even though it’s been in classrooms since the 1980s because it will ruin our teaching and that will ruin our future because it’s impossible to teach properly with technology and we shouldn’t listen to anyone who can teach well with technology because then it will be impossible to get it right and that will ruin our future and probably impact badly on STEM. It’s impossible to teach properly because we have national testing and then we have criteria for assessments , performance standards and then all of that makes it impossible to teach properly which will mean our future will be ruined.

Michael Jordan said , Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

Maybe we need to be listening to our sports people at the moment. I have been in a classroom since 1973 as a preservice teacher and then a fully fledged teacher since 1974. This is the first time I have seen us find everything impossible as a profession. We have always had vision. We have always trail blazed and we have always taken on and embraced new ideas and , as we have worked with them,  we have criticised , complained, spoken up and out , applied ourselves and our intelligence and found the ways of getting a really good model of teaching and learning into place. Do we think we need no consistency across schools , especially now as we merge into a global community of knowledge and practice? Do we think should not have bench marking as data feedback? Should we just teach in a vacuum or should we have some commonality ? Should we identify what is good practice or leave it to serendipity? Should we just learn from ourselves or from each other? And, on top of that, should we just walk out on technology? Want to put that computer run car away and get the crank handle out?

Brett Salakas (@MRsalakas) ,who is one of the powerhouses behind #aussieED and a very committted, inspired teacher and educator of all who come into contact with him , has called for a national conversation about where we are headed in education: Being Between Paradigms Has Caused the Rise of the Edu Walking Dead!. He has declared and discussed his opinion and we need to be doing more of that. The rest of Muhammad Ali’s quote now comes into play : Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. We need to look at what is possible, what has succeeded, what we have been doing and make no attempt to denigrate, wipe out, undermine or deny what teachers have been doing all around Australia to improve learning outcomes for students.

Shulman (2001) directed special attention to the need to focus the “scholarship of teaching” on new learning technologies:

Technology is the 300-pound gorilla that no one can ignore, and this new element in all of our
lives has had a healthily disruptive impact on our old habits. For example, many faculty
members are now asking serious questions about teaching and learning: How do we know these
new technologies are effective in fostering student learning? What does student learning look
like, and how do we know it when we see it? What’s the difference between the kind of learning
that occurs in traditional venues and the kind that occurs in technologically mediated settings?
Most universities have already committed significant resources to the uses of technology. And,
since technology is not something you simply plug in, such research questions spawn a much
larger set of inquiries about the curriculum, the design of instruction, and assessment, thereby
encouraging a more general spirit of inquiry about teaching and learning.

Storm Clouds on the Digital Education Horizon , Thomas C. Reeves , 2002 University of Georgia

Fourteen years later we are still having that same conversation. I think we need to notice it is 2016, we have had ICT since the 1980s and that we need to  have the national conversation Brett Salakas has suggested.

thankyou.

Almost a billion people live in extreme poverty, while six billion people don’t. We reckon the six billion of us could work together to put an end to global poverty, for good.

The future is here. thankyou. is a social enterprise established over 6 years ago by and RMIT graduate and 2014 Victorian Young Australian of the Year , Daniel Flynn, who could see there was a need to connect the real world and the business world. He used technology and social media to create momentum around thankyou. so he could realise his business/social enterprise goals. It’s an ethical business which is actually ethical and is using business practices which strongly combine social media strategies with business plans and models which in turn fund social enterprise projects. The business profits are used 100% for social justice .

“Six and a half years on, Thankyou. has raised $2.5 million for projects that have given 150,000 people access to water, another 190,000 access to hygiene and sanitation, as well as funding more than 12.1 million days worth of food aid, across 16 countries.”

Business Insider

Social media have been used to rally support, get peer review, feedback and then prove there is potential in the business idea. Then there has been all the hard work of getting products into place, a business plan, videos, media appearances. This new business model is being crowd driven. I heard about it on Instagram. You cannot help but be impressed and you cannot help but wish that this is how technology, the internet and social media will work. We all have access to devices and thankyou. is making use of the popular platforms to build a business and then use it to help solve some of the world’s problems and inequities. It started with water. I ought to be a basic human right that everyone has access to potable water. What made me happy is that Daniel Flynn used the inquiry approach to learning in order to create his business and make it real :

“What if we could turn bottled water into getting clean water, and make it convenient for people who actually need it?” Business Insider

Technology has made this business model possible so that something like this can occur in 2016. RMIT stmulated the thinking in Daniel by what they chose to put in their course. This is educating for the 21st century and Daniel Flynn is showing us what is possible when someone has access to the sorts of educational experiences he had and then the world we live in where we are all connected.

thankyou.Thankyou is a social enterprise. We believe we can end global poverty in this lifetime, together. That’s why we give 100% of the profits from our awesome products to helping people in need.
thankyou.website

ClassFlow

How much did that teacher pack into 5 minutes!? That’s how you do it with technology. What interested me is that this is being filmed at an expo. The students were all in learning mode. They were focussed, involved, calm and able to share their ideas for every bit of those 5 minutes. They were in class and not at all distracted by the expo. Sarah Hildebrand was very adept at managing her class, her content, the technology and the listeners who had chosen to view her lesson. As a good teacher she involved everyone. Loved how she sneaked in the brain based learning to power up the brains and keep the students alert and on task. At the end of 5 minutes they are changing what they are doing and their grouping. Every minute is spent on learning, sharing and being a part of growing knowledge.

ClassFlow is free and is a Promethean product. Not all schools have Promethean boards but I know the Epson boards at our school are compatible with Promethean products. Schools just can’t keep replacing hardware and ClassFlow seems to have taken that onboard. On their site you have the option of talking to them about his product which does come as a paid premium and district version as well. It is a matter of trialling it, finding out what you think, students think and everyone else thinks! Being able to use the free version means education is not determined by dollars. We are Teachers has a review of it. ESL teacher Larry Falazzo has reviewed it too. ClassFlow looks to be well worth investigating. There is a UK ClassFlow site.

There is currently no Australian site . The terms of service for us using it are here.

Hay Day

Duck Salon

Love the duck salon!

I love the duck salon. It is very amusing animation which has been well thought out and executed. The fishing area is really nice. A calm area. Initially I took a little while to learn how to fish but it’s not hard. Practice makes perfect! I like the lobster farm too because that is funny. I have to juggle everything to make sure I have enough bait and equipment to get my supplies right and then I  have to take all the timing into consideration. All that takes thinking and planning. I’d love to be able to decorate the area a bit . As it stands, I just visit. The town I have grown quite a lot and have had a chance to decorate it quite a bit. I’d love to be able to put in some fruit trees and a few plots to grow some plants just to give it a more lived in look and have a bit more flexibility with landscaping. The town is non productive . It does use a lot of resources, however. Again, it forces you to think and plan. The riverboats come and go and I fill them or not. I am over being one thing short of a full riverboat. I either fill it or I don’t. Sometimes I part fill it and then those who help me get points and I get points for what I have accomplished. Insane requests like 11 sugar or 11 cream for one container deserve the contempt they get. Were the sugar and dairy facilities able to produce those amounts comfortably , then fair enough. As it stands it would break your production more often than not and the domino effect onto other resources is something which has to be considered. A thinking game full of challenges and confrontation. In the end, it is a game. I have a lot of fun playing it and don’t go down the negative paths. That means I am finally loving the Pinto horse I had to wait so long to get. The only decent horse there! She has learnt naughty tricks from one of my other horses and occasionally walks through walls and hay bales to the outside! You can be harvesting trees and the horses will walk straight through it like magic. They are on a mission and they are fully focussed!

Google Australia Blog

Google Search for your SocksGoogle has an official Australia blog which is not without a sense of humour. On 1/4/2016 there was a post about the new bluetooth enabled technology to find lost socks. They know us well. Odd socks is surprisingly a topic of conversation more often than you would think in Australia. It can create a lot of mirth. We often want to know the trick of keeping socks paired. We regularly have odd socks days at fundraisers. Odd socks are a part of our culture. The blog offers a good deal of information about Google in Australia and some of the ideas and software Google now has to make good use of its online offerings. The blog is worth bookmarking so you keep up to date with what Google is doing here – besides having us on.

iPad handwriting recognition apps

This video looks at handwriting recognition apps for the iPad and their functionality. It also shows you how to use handwriting recognition apps if you don’t know how to use them. My question is why? Why would you want to handwrite and convert that to text? There must be people who think it’s important because there are quite a few handwriting recognition tools around. My simple way of looking at it is there is a keyboard available to me. If I want to create text I type it. If I want to handwrite I use a stylus. I am still better at handwriting on a graphics tablet than I am on an iPad. Notes Plus is a good app for handwriting and if you want the hand recognition facility then it is there. I find the stylus is important. It is important to test run different styluses so that you get the one which functions best with the handwriting tool and the one which suits your hand movements the best. Having a test run with a pool of different styluses is always a good idea. No point in buying them all…just share and see! There is an article here on Macademise which discusses other hand writing recognition apps and reasons for using them. One app will suit your handwriting better than another so it’s a good idea to test different apps too.

Graphical Input Language software system (GRAIL)

GRAIL

Curvature

Were it not for Jack Schaedler’s article Back to the Future of Handwriting Recognition I’d still be living in ignorance. For a start I was unaware it was the 50th anniversary of handwriting recognition software and then it did not ever occur to me that it is all about data points, co-ordinates and mathematics. I had never asked myself the question, “How exactly does a digital device replicate drawing and handwriting? “

This recognition scheme meets its primary objective of enabling any user to communicate naturally with a computer. A user is not distracted by any operational mechanics but, rather, may concentrate on [their] problem.”

– Gabriel Groner (1966)

Exactly. I have just used the drawing functions on a device. Yet understanding them is a wonderful insight into a practical and seemingly necessary part of our modern lives. We like to use digital devices for drawing and handwriting. Jack Schaedler does more than make a good case for it. He explains the mathematics, the processes and the logic behind how a device recognizes and creates writing. The webpage itself is a good learning tool because it enables you to interact with it , see what happens, change what you are doing and see again. It’s applied mathematics and it demonstrates very ably how valuable and important cross curriculum input, knowledge, ideas exchanging and discussion are.

Top 10s

top 10 brands

Image: Interbrand rankings

Even though I believe teaching/ education is not just vocational training and it is truly about lifting people up  and bringing  them out so they can build a successful life of their own, I have always believed it important to keep an eye on what the world looks like. These days it is about brands, companies and predictions. I am bringing you some top 10s. The picture ,left, shows you the top global brands this year. The  Interbrand web page itself shows the top 100.

This year’s Top 10 companies are:

  1. Wal-Mart Stores
  2. Hon-Hai Precision Industry
  3. G4S
  4. Volkswagen
  5. PetroChina
  6. Compass Group
  7. Agricultural Bank of China
  8. ISS A/S
  9. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  10. McDonald’s

There is an interesting article on seeklearning which looks at   the jobs which are in demand in Australia in 2015 and they are in the areas of

Lastly the NEWDAILY discusses what they think will be the jobs in demand in the next 10 years in Australia and the rationale  behind the thinking and projections :

Top tertiary qualified jobs in 2025

1. Registered nurses
2. Advertising and sales managers
3. Software and applications programmers
4. Accountants
5. CEO and Managing Directors
6. Secondary school teachers
7. Primary school teachers
8. Private tutors and teachers
9. Contract program and project administrators
10. General managers

Top vocational and trade jobs

1. Aged & Disabled Carers
2. Child Carers
3. Electricians
4. Nursing Support & Personal Care Workers
5. Construction Managers
6. Real Estate Sales Agents
7. Welfare Support Workers
8. Metal Fitters & Machinists
9. Plumbers
10. Education Aides

educate etymologyImage : Online Etymology Dictionary

 

 

To round off the list, you need to look at the jobs which we are asking of anyone who migrates to Australia. You can look at hem on the Migration Occupations In Demand List.

 

Lego Easter Eggs

I could not ask for more – Lego, Easter eggs and egg decorating. The first video shows a lego egg decorator using the Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit. It is putting robotics to a practical use for Easter. The Mindstorms kit are a sizeable financial investment so you will probably want to look, admire and move onto the second video where you can use Lego blocks to build Easter Eggs.

Project Based Learning

This video has been made by a teacher. It is good to see teachers give insight into how they manage , initiate and sustain different ways of teaching and learning. He gives a link to his website at the end of the video. Not too many teachers bang on like the teacher at the beginning of this video. Not any more. I have been in a position of privilege where I have been able to go into other teachers’ classrooms and the thing which has always amazed and impressed me is the number of different ways in which teachers interact with students. The sage on the stage noun phrase has done much to damage being there at the front of your class in a good way . It tends to hark back to  what was the chalk and talk and endless copying. That  is how I was taught. The teacher stood out the front and banged on incessantly and then we had copious notes to take , exercises to do and homework on exactly the same thing. I learned a lot. When you are not allowed to say and do then you are in your own headspace and a good teacher would get you thinking and that headspace would create all sorts of connections and ideas because there was nothing to distract you. Much of it was mind numbing, though. Different era. The student faces at the beginning of this video are classic. I have seen that. The blank almost comatose look. I have never taught for more than 10 minutes at a time and that is of value. I am a teacher. I know a lot. In 10 minutes I can clarify, intrigue, contextualise, ideate, stimulate and set the scene for learning. Most teachers do that these days. They create a rationale or narrative and create their lessons around that.

So where does the project based learning fit in? The notion of it can confuse. Is it actually doing a practical project or is it doing a research and analysis project? This article by TeachThought explains it well. Learning projects come down to challenge based, place based or activity based. You could do a challenge based project on finding out about Shakespeare and his plays. You could do a place based project by going to Stratford on Avon and finding out about where he lived and his cultural heritage. You could put on a Shakespearean play and learn about Shakespeare as an activity based project. Virtual reality will give us other options. Technology gives us yet others. It will always be about the students and the sorts of projects which help them learn best. You then have to balance that against time allocation for the subject , personal teaching load and expectations and then ease of access to resources.

The aitsl professional standards also easily enable you to take project based learning into account :

1.1 Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.
1.3 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
1.4 Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
1.5 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
1.6 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements.
2.2 Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.
2.4 Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.
2.5 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.
2.6 Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
3.1 Develop a culture of high expectations for all students by modelling and setting challenging learning goals.
3.2 Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
3.3 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
3.4 Select and/or create and use a range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

3.3 goes to the heart of project based learning but the other professional standards apply. There are others too which you would meet if you were engaging with colleagues to develop big projects or if you were involving yourself with community organisations and /or parents as part of the project based learning.

Visual résumés

graphic resume

 

Image: howdesign

I first blogged about visual résumés in 2010 with a Powerpoint example which had become very popular at the time. In six years the global interactions have become closer. People can work live and study anywhere. Video calling is mainstream and students are very used to the visual media of Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. It is really important that in a visual, connected world where your future might be anywhere on the planet that you can present yourself visually. The video gives you an idea of how that could be done. There are more conservative visual résumés on YouTube and Microsoft India has put out quite a funny one which makes a good point. Visual résumés are a very quick way of letting people know who we are , where we come from and why we are of value to them.

There are graphic design résumés too which are not only very striking, they can present information in a way which has a positive impact and can be absorbed more easily than plain text. A graphic résumé can help someone orientate themselves to you , your life and your value. You can add maps, languages, IT skills, other skills, awards , interests and experience in a more meaningful way which does justice to you and your capabilities.

Students need practice in creating visual résumés so they can play around with the ideas and approaches and then work out , by gaining thoughtful and considered feedback, how to best represent themselves to the world. One of the things they tend to do is underrate the skills they have and are not aware of how they can document those skills . Visual résumés make it possible for them to annotate their attributes on familiar ground. This Pinterest site by Elaine Edmonds has a wide variety of examples of graphic CVs to look at and to get ideas. You might also find my post Creating a digital profile helpful.

Go with a mood board

ubuntu mood boardThis  gomoodboard site is so easy and intuitive and it’s not just for designers. It brings design so easily into anyone’s life or classroom. Mood boards are not new but they are in fashion with designers because they are a really good way to demonstrate skills, effects, ideas and ,yes, mood. Gomoodboard has been created by the freelancer community Crew where you just drag and drop your images. It intuitively arranges them and then, if you don’t like the arrangement, you can customise it yourself. There are some nice templates to choose from. You can  publish the mood board so you can share it with others if you choose.  By default it is private. It is also available for the iPad/iPhone.

If you want a hands on approach and more of a maker mood board you can use the ideas on bustle.

There is a PowerPoint mood board here which a student has created to focus on green.

You can see one of the mood boards I created quickly about what I have done on my Ubuntu 14.04 laptop in the last 3 weeks.

mood boardThat is the thing. A mood board can get your ideas together quickly and effectively. I like how the text comes up as I do a mouse over the comment icon. The site itself is demonstrating sound and interesting design principles.

These mood boards have a wide application but for the classroom let me suggest 10 ideas:

1. Meet and greet in a new home group
2. Language learning – theme, specific grammar, recounting the weekend
3. Impact of learning about – WWII, lizards, solar system, mood boards, quadratic equations
4. Reaction to a novel, film, play
5. Visual poem
6. Exploring an era
7. Exploring an historical event
8. Reacting to climate change
9. Creating a strong point of view about something
10. Exploring and comparing visual styles

Twitter analytics

Twitter analyticsTwitter analytics is a helpful function which is offered on your tweets. You can check the impact of a tweet, the reach of it and you can gauge how you are going from one month to the next. You can get analytics on your whole account each month too so you can see your progress. This month I can see I have done some good work but I have to lift my tweeting game. This is where analytics are helpful. I thought I was tweeting as much as usual. When I checked against other months, well, no I am not. In fact I have tweeted quite a bit less and yet, that is not what I have been thinking. Analytics put an end to perception, guesswork and impressions. You get some clear information to work on. I knew I was getting followers but it has gone even better than I thought. The lesson for me is it is not just about what I think. Get the information, look at it and work on it.Tweet activity Analytics focus you without all the thinking and feeling. Having looked at the analytics I am not sitting here feeling bad about what is not going so well. I am thinking about how I can correct that and I have something to measure myself against next month. In that sense analytics hone your strategy skills. You can pay for sponsored tweets if you feel you want your tweet to last longer and have more impact. The life of a tweet is quite short although, this month, I have been surprised how many of my older tweets have been picked up and reacted to so quality is still important and valuable. As far as sponsored tweets are concerned then there is only so much cyber real estate. If everyone pays for sponsored tweets the same problem will occur – too many tweets and not enough air time. For me it is important to get authentic followers and  engage with them. Businesses and entrepreneurs will do it differently because they have different objectives. The analytics then will get you thinking straight so you can plan next month’s twitter activity!

You can get to the analytics by clicking VIEW on your tweet and then viewing the activity or type into your browser address bar :

https://analytics.twitter.com/user/sally07/   where sally07 is your username

https://analytics.twitter.com/user/sally07/tweets  if you want to look at tweet activity

 

Too much !

too much

Image : Roundabout Theatre Company

Technology needs to help us take control so we can manage the people who ring too much, text too much, tweet too much ,snapchat too much, clog the Instagram feed, status update too much. They are no different from the people who ring too much. They ring and you don’t answer. So they ring back and then they ring back and then they ring back. Your choice whether you answer your phone or not but the obsessive ringing can only be dealt with if you can turn the volume down on the phone. Not all  cordless landline  phones do that any more and not all phone bases do. Twitter is the only site I know which offers reasonable ways of dealing with excessive behaviour. If it is unwanted you can block the person. If it is just them having a moment you can mute their tweets for a while and then unmute them to see if they are over whatever it is they needed to get over. Facebook you can block individual status updates when you want to and that helps. People get in moods and people get unwell and so they use social media and technology inappropriately . What about phones , though? Someone who keeps texting you when it’s your day off? You can turn your phone off. You can ignore them but in the end it makes your phone unusable and has a negative impact on your phone use. It would be so much easier if you could mute the person who constantly messages you on your mobile on your day off. I watched this with someone today which is why this post came to mind. For me , it’s the home landline phone ringing and ringing and ringing when someone is unwell. Unplugging the landline is not an option but I have no volume control on the new phone setup. We all know people and we all have people who do not realise the impact of their behaviour sometimes. We have technology. Offer us some workable solutions like Twitter .

Codr.tv

codr.tv

Image: Codr.tv

One of the advantages of Twitter is that others can introduce themselves to you easily. @codrtv did that just the other day and I have to say I am very appreciative. This site is real coders talking about real code but they want you to love it and understand it as much as they do. It is also a very real way of using the internet to reach out to others and make themselves known.  Currently they are working on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coders and the first episode is about pairing. That has such educational relevance for both teachers and students and a paradigm I have pushed on this blog. It is important to get peer review. It is important to do and share. It is important to throw your ideas and work out there and see what others think. In the end you become far more confident, competent and able to learn more effectively because the constant feedback keeps you thinking and in improvement mode. It also increases your network and so you have more resources to sustain you. My group assessment rubrics were exactly about that. Blogging and being on Twitter is always about that. This video frequently makes the point that you can be collaborating on code and embracing peer review but here are times where you just have to shut down and go into your own space and do it your own way. That is true too. There are times for learning by yourself and times for sharing and collaborating. The video also makes the point more than once that if you work collaboratively you are going to produce something far superior and more accurate than if you just work alone. Coders are working internationally because it’s about something which is high level and you work with whom you trust, who is at your level and who can help you. Codr.tv is not just about the code. It shows how coders work, think and how they approach a highly demanding task. As such it is very valuable insight into how you manage something which is very demanding learning and high level performance: the standard internet learning loop – create content, share, get feedback and improve. By having codr.tv we are now included in the loop.

SOLO Taxonomy

The SOLO taxonomy , first described by John Biggs and Kevin Collis  in Evaluating the Quality of Learning: The SOLO Taxonomy (New York: Academic Press, 1982 )may be an older form of assessment rubric but that does not mean it is irrelevant. Some things stand the test of time. New Zealand schools seem to be using it still because it can demystify easily what is being achieved in terms of learning outcomes. Current assessment rubrics and assessment criteria can be complex and even though they can identify performance standards and achievements , they can also confuse and corrupt thinking so the assessor is no longer sure what they are talking about. I have been in that situation myself as a teacher. You look at the assessment criteria which can be long lists of long sentences and then you look at the work. You can discuss it with others and, because it is language based, it can then become a discussion on meaning , semantics and interpretation. In the end you are no further along the path to knowing how you should assess that piece of work. I have also been in the situation where assessment criteria are so vague you are not sure how to award the mmm…ok or the mmm,yes, well or the mmm, that looks pretty good to me. SOLO keeps it simple. You can use those rubrics to work out whether the understanding and ingestion of knowledge has occurred and then whether it has been moved forward by the learner. As John Biggs says on his site:

SOLO can be used not only in assessment, but in designing the curriculum in terms of the learning outcomes intended, which is helpful in implementing constructive alignment. SOLO can also explain why those who use low complexity arguments in political or marital disputes usually win – in the short term. But in politics that’s all you need.
solo taxonomy

Image:Myross bush school

Solo is how you keep the picture straight when you feel you are trying to process other ways of assessing work , learning or you are mapping out learning tasks and units and you have lost clarity. It would also be a good way to discuss assessment with parents because it is a clearer model than others . Starting with SOLO would clarify issues before you move on to more complex discussions. It  is  not just that, though. SOLO is a quick way of noticing whether someone is on the learning continuum or not. Can they use a smartphone? Do they know how to use iMovie? You can quickly work out whether you or anyone else needs help in learning.

SEO for Beginners

SEO for BeginnersI have to thank Daragh Walsh for clarifying quite a few things about search engine optimisation on websites and pages. Each of his lectures was relevant, to the point and easy to follow. By the end of each lecture I knew what the benefit of doing it was and I knew what to do to apply the knowledge to my own situation. I didn’t particularly need the lecture on search engine optimisation for business sites but I learned a lot about how Google sets this up and so how it is working or not working for me when I am looking for a local business online. Daragh actually took the time during the course of the lectures to explain how to use the comments and questions sidebar in the Udemy courses. He is the first of the four lecturers to do that even thought they all invite you to use the question section. It is a good idea to have the sidebar but it is a better idea to explain its use and maybe each of the Udemy courses needs the first lecture to be that and one which is not counted towards the course but a generic explanation so that everyone knows what to do and is consistent in their approach. It might also help to suggest ways of using it effectively. This is my fourth free course so I have one more to do. In the four courses I have had different English language accents. This is great for anyone learning English but it is also great to see that Udemy is drawing on human resources from all over the world. In terms of what Daragh said in his SEO for Beginners , it builds authority and one of the most useful pieces of information I gleaned form this course was how to check and build authority on sites/pages. My next course is going to be Web Design for Web Developers: Build Beautiful Websites! by Jonas Schmedtmann and I am looking forward to it.

Hay Day

Hay DayMy horses can walk through walls. Seriously. And hay bales, fences, olive trees, raspberry bushes and hay carts. Horses can walk through whatever they want to. I was so indignant when I first put them on the farm that they had the gall to walk, glide actually, over the unpurchased land to their new stable. What? I can’t even use that dead land for the dead nectar bushes which amass at an alarming rate and drive me crazy. There is no real solution to the dead nectar bush nemesis and the game gods need to get onto it. It holds me up and blocks me no matter how much I try and deal with it practically or creatively. The animals, though, are in their own class in the game. I finally got 4 goats because they have made an effort to improve their appearance and they no longer look so ghoulish. Whoever conceived the dogs knows them very well. They are into everything. They are very canine and they are fun. The puppies need worming, though. Poor things. The duck salon is inspired. The artists and animators on that have done a really great job. It is clever, ingenious, amusing and just so well done. The cats continue to stare disconcertingly with their stiff legged walk and the beady eyed sheep are just so cute. The cows are well, cows. Docile and friendly. Then there are the beautiful touches of the birds who visit the bird baths , bird houses and trees. They are gorgeous as are the butterflies. The turquoise frogs are hilarious and so well thought out. It’s amazing, then, that some animals are so poorly conceived. It is truly sad what they have done to the donkeys because they are lovely animals and in the game they are portrayed as goofy nitwits. Then there are the horses with their weirdo expressions and behaviour. I want a Pinto. It’s the only really decent looking  and behaving horse and it’s so hard to get because you either have to pay a stack of diamonds (cash) or wait until you need carbon dating to get the 9 gold credits along with the other credits to purchase it. Getting the other credits is easy. Getting gold ones is very ageing. I heard the horses glide over water too. They are initially very hard to keep confined if that is what you want. It’s part of the game , though. You have to move things around , watch what happens then put their stable in different places and watch what happens. They have a short range trajectory , unlike the dogs who are everywhere! I spent over a week doing this and that and now I have more or less solved my problem of escaping horses. One sneaks out when I am not looking but comes back in for hours when I whistle at the stable. So most of it is good on Hay Day and there is room for improvement. I have just spent a million and a half coins to buy a tractor with flowers around the wheels. Yes. I did that. Games can make you behave in interesting ways. I also spent 32 diamonds making a little creek. Each tiny waterhole costs an exorbitant 8 diamonds and I bought 4. The pricing on some things is a bit bizarre but that’s fodder for another post.

How many emails are in your inbox?

I was amazed to hear this week someone had 45 000 emails in their inbox. Someone else had just processed over 7 000 and I had processed and deleted 2 000 from one email account I have. I have more than one. I separate my personal life, working life and online life. Even so, emails are a big job for everyone. There are the sites you subscribe to because you think it’s a great idea to get their emails. There are the efficient sites which keep letting you know what you have done, been doing or what their latest suggestions are. There are then all the other emails you receive for bills, payments,receipts, tracking, professional information, daily routine, from friends, relatives, colleagues. Facebook lets you know everything. Google is onto any new login from a new device/OS on your account. On and on it goes. You can watch them build up on your iPad or phone. You can ignore them if you have to log into an email account . By now there has to be a psychological term for fear of being submerged in emails. The inbox can become your nemesis. The video suggests a practical way of going about dealing with emails. This will work if you only have to manage one account. If you have more, then you really do have to be practical and work out a system of how to manage accounts in terms of their priority. There is a real plus side to email so we need to keep troubleshooting how to manage them because they really are becoming prolific. The more we are involved online , the more we get emails. YouTube has a number of videos to help you manage emails but it now needs to become part of our lifestyle , policy and practice. No one should be having to deal with 45 000 emails. Avoiding them means there is a problem with email as a system not the person. Most people manage most normal daily routine tasks well. They can pack their lunch, do the washing, organise their work routines and so on. Email swamping needs to be addressed and resolved.

Assembly app

Assembly app is one of the most productive and professionally presented apps I have seen.  I got information about it via @uxigers on Instagram. The great thing about it is that the free version has plenty of tools and resources to work with. You can then have the option of  purchasing in app extras to further enhance what you are doing. The video gives a good overview of the sorts of things you can do. It is focussed on design and layout so it does have the snap to grid option which you can enable as you wish. The app also comes with a sound tutorial suite so that you can learn how to use different aspects of the app and set yourself right when it comes to using the app. It makes excellent use of the attributes of tablets/smartphones and so has brought us into the 21st century in its approach and intention. The more you know the better you are with this app. It teaches you to refine and improve your skills and create something of good quality. The Assembly app site is well laid out with plenty of information to help you get started. You can download it here from iTunes. There is a review here on Stuff which looks at it and then gives you other ideas of how to use it. Assembly is intelligent design because it functions well and anyone, no matter their level in graphic design can enjoy using this app. It means you can create and customise your own pictures, you can create layouts for apps and web pages, you can just use it as a sketch pad and playground for your ideas. It really is a productive, helpful, well thought out educational app.

Transcending physicality

It takes a yogi and mystic to clarify to you that when you are connected you are actually transcending physicality. That had never occurred to me, and yet, it is true. Listening to a topic being discussed through the senses and thought of another culture brings a profound way of looking at the topic. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev really does demystify a number of things we are concerned about when he contextualises them as he explains them. We now have communication with others which we choose rather than are compelled to have. It is not really a problem if you are messaging some one in close proximity because it might mean you are being quieter in the way you are communicating. And yes, it is important to value the interactions we have with  real people in other spaces because those real life communication spaces may well disappear because of technology. His pragmatism is reassuring in lots of ways because he has thought in a calm and considered way about he implications of technology in our daily lives. How did I come about this video? By going onto YouTube and searching “growing with technology”. In my transcended physical state I have the capacity to engage with all sorts of fascinating people and ideas.

Ubuntu Tweak

Ubuntu Tweak How can you forget your own best friend? I have blogged about Ubuntu Tweak before when I was on Ubuntu 10. I installed the version for 14.04, cleaned up the Ubuntu installation and let Ubuntu Tweak preen my desktop. It’s a very handy utility with numerous options which is very reliable. I used the instructions on unixmen to install it. Ubuntu Tweaked Desktop

International Women’s Day

parity meaningIt’s International Women’s Day and it’s a call to #pledgeforparity. A parity check in computing code is an agreed way for checking if any bits of the data have been altered. It verifies whether the data has been sent correctly between computers. Eddie Woo aka @misterwootube is a successful, passionate teacher who is very good at demystifying these things and who has a commitment to creating clear communication in his classroom so that his students really understand what he is teaching. He explains parity checks well. A computer can go ‘Huh?’ like we do when we are not certain we got the right information or interpreted something correctly. If we are going to #pledgeforparity for International Women’s Day then we should be looking at women and going ‘Huh?’ when it’s not right. Parity is the official value of something . Parity is there in different contexts, but it will always mean that two things are equal. So how are we treating women? How are we creating internet images of them? How are we treating girls and women on web sites and in social media? How does the way women are portrayed on the internet compare with men? What images do women have to look at about themselves? What do men have to look at? This is an area which needs scrutiny and one we could address easily. Looking forward to the parity. I am so over going ‘Huh?’ when I go on different sites and social media venues.

Wireframing

Wireframing with Balsamiq I have just completed  Wireframing with Balsamiq on Udemy. It was a shorter course than the others I have done . Leon Barnard was clear, effective and focussed one hundred percent on the content. As someone who delivers online courses , his voice is soothing, he does not clutter the information with anything other than what he is delivering. From that point of view it was very interesting for me to do this course. Balsamiq is the industry standard and traditional software for Wireframing . It is very effective for building mock ups for applications and websites because they are a stripped down version of how the site or app will function. Its built in capacity to make changes across elements would be effective and the fact it is all in a tool or button makes the job easier. It was good he used a music site to demonstrate its effectiveness because most of us are familiar with how we set up our online music libraries and so he could connect the new knowledge to something we knew. I used to build sites with Dreamweaver and that was very good at the time. This is so much easier.

There is other Wireframing software you can use and creativeblog gives an overview of the paid and free ones. The two free ones I really like are the Firefox add-on Pencil which you can read about here on GitHub. It is very easy to install as an add-on. The other one I like is Framebox because it has a very clear interface and you can work very cleanly with it.

Mock ups are the way to go when you want to present things visually. It will give you an idea of how to set things out on your page or slide even if you don’t want to build at app or website. It centres on improving visual literacy.It will also give you an awareness of which sites and apps to use to deliver information because you will understand the notion of clarity of delivery of information. With larger presentation projects it is good to create a mock up of how you are going to organise that information on a screen. That was another thing Leon Barnard was very good at. His screen was never cluttered or confusing. You always knew what he was doing and what he wanted you to focus on.

That is my 3rd free Udemy course so now I am down to my last two. The next one I am doing is SEO on site optimisation. You can never know enough about optimising your online site. This one is by Google so it ought to be valuable.

Do you instagram?

instagram Bit of an Instagram tragic with only 6 followers but that will change. I started off really slowly on Twitter too and have never looked back. I was advised by the people I asked to set my account to private and let others ask to follow me. I have been on Instagram since the very end of last year. It happened by accident as most social media experience does with me. It is great. A few years back , before the internet , there was a big trend in frozen moments where you could buy ornaments of milk pouring, a glass of beer and so on.

Image : Fake Food Decor

milk pouring ornamentWe have always savoured the moment as a human race: watching the waves rolling into shore, seeing birds play in the trees, watching ants crawl up the pergola post. It has always amused and soothed us. Instagram is like that for me. It values the moment. It creates something special from something ordinary. It makes you appreciate the good things in your life. Like when I was sitting out the back the other day and the sun was shining and the whole image was just beautiful. I Instagrammed it. It is a good way to learn languages because no one writes a lot and so some people use it to post things to help others learn their language and bit by bit you learn. It is used for advertising and marketing but there is something more personal and artistic about it. You get to know working people more. You can see their desks, their designs, their plants and coffee, their view from the window. It would be a good way for students to document research projects and long term pieces of work. It would be a good way for teachers to document their day  or week and reflect on it. There is more of an artistic sense on Instagram and to Instagram your day or your week without the people stuff – we have laws in SA which preclude that- would make you take a positive look at any journey through time. At the moment I am posting one photo , at least , a day. Before it was 4 a week and before that I was far too random. Reading my feed on Instagram gives me positive input . Like any social media site it is important to choose the right people to follow so your feed is an inspiration.backgarden

Instagram only runs on mobile phones and tablets and they pride themselves on that. In terms of social justice, equity and accessibility I am not sure it is a good idea to be that rigid. Having said that, I find it is making make good use of my smartphone. It is a very positive and practical use of the phone. I have used Dropbox to get photos onto my iPad or Phone so I can post them from my laptop or desktop. It has also meant I have a lot of really positive images on my phone which I can share with people when I see them. That has been a bonus spin off of Instagramming.

Take up a challenge.

cleaning challengeI am always doing Twitter challenges. They were coming up on a fairly regular basis but now I go looking for them. Why?

1. They challenge me!
2. They make me achieve
3. They make me rethink
4. They are fun
5. They make me grow

happy teacher

Image : Presto Plans Blog

Currently , I have moved away from the education challenges and am doing Buzzfeed’s Spring Cleaning Challenge. In Adelaide it has to be the Autumn Cleaning Challenge and not a bad time to do it. You get one room a day. It takes 10 days and you are given instructions and tips. It is quick. It makes a difference and I loved dusting with socks on my hands for today’s challenge.

The education ones I have done have made me really think about what I am doing. They have kept me very focussed but the biggest impact they have had on me is to remind me that I am the one who can make a difference. I can do things which change my day, others , what I am doing. I have done the #30goals (@30GoalsEDU) #gratitudechallenge and most recently the #pcps_teach challenge about the impact of Twitter on me professionally. There are all sorts of challenges you can find on the internet or Twitter – fitness challenges, health challenges, photo challenges, February challenges. Each day you have something to do. The longest are a month. My cleaning one is for 10 days. In 10 days I shall have changed myself and my home. That’s why I like challenges. They make a difference.

Live TV on Ubuntu 14.04

kaffeine1Setting up Live TV on Ubuntu 14.04 didn’t quite go according to plan nor did it go easily. Now I have set it up, though , I can use MeTV or Kaffeine. I am using Kaffeine because it is currently getting  more channels and is more reliable. MeTV is stuck on Channel 9 and that is it. I cannot change the channel at this point in time. I can’t scan either. So Kaffeine it is and it is a very easy to get along with programme. On Linux Mint and Ubuntu 10 I have only ever plugged in my stick and typed

sudo apt-get install libusb-dev

into Terminal and the TV stick has worked.

metvWith Ubuntu 14.04 installed on my Dell Studio 1558 it hasn’t been so straightforward. I started searching the Net. Firstly, I followed the instructions here by wolfmann and installed Kaffeine and MeTV via Terminal. He gives very clear instructions as to how Kaffeine works. For me Autoscan did not work. In the end I had to set it to au-Adelaide which is on the same dropdown menu. Both MeTV and Kaffeine worked for about a minute and that was it. MeTV had a Read Timeout. Kaffeine was telling me it could not find my device when clearly it was there.

I then followed the code here on the Ubuntu Wiki site. I was building a media library and I could see the stuff for my TV stick running through Terminal so I was hopeful. This was a really interesting experience and I watched the whole lot – to check what was happening and to work out what the code was doing. Fascinating. It does take a while to build the library so I played on my iPad!

I rebooted. Still nothing. My TV stick came with a little USB extension cable and I have always used that. Not now. I worked out I need to plug the DVB-T stick directly into the USB port. Since then I can can access Kaffeine and MeTV and I just need to work through the issues. I am sticking with Kaffeine. It is set up well, easy to operate and comes with some useful features. It is a multimedia programme so you can play other media as well. It’s odd that MeTV is picking up Channel 9 but Kaffeine isn’t. I am doing the usual of just playing TV on my laptop to help the system sort itself out. Some of this may well be hardware issues. I have had more that sufficient support which I could follow from the Ubuntu community.

BCS User Experience Certificate

UX Certificate I have just completed my second Udemy course. I chose the Introduction to the BCS Foundation Certificate. .BCS is the British Chartered Institute for IT because the course not only explains what is in the certificate testing with BCS, it also explains clearly some of the basic ideas behind approaching User Experience. I found the course enjoyable and to reframe my knowledge through an UX lens was both helpful and interesting. In an ICT world then it really ought to be basic knowledge for teachers and anyone who is going to deliver content via technology. I had plenty of ideas as I was doing the course. I found I could manage it, understand it and feel as though I was benefiting from it. David Travis has a very calm, even tempered approach to delivering information and so you always feel like you are in control of the content. By the end of the course I now have plenty of solid things to follow up on and find out about so it’s a course which has inspired more learning.The other Udemy course I did was Coding for Entrepreneurs Basic with Justin Mitchell. He explained everything well but it was a dense , labour intensive course where I learned so much. I would not have called it basic! By comparison the BCS course was like swimming in calm waters. My plan is to do 5 free Udemy courses. By that time I’ll be familiar with the delivery styles, the way the courses are set up, the sorts of instructors they endorse and how content is delivered online. I really like how I can stop and start according to my mood or time availability. I can learn online for 5 minutes or 30. I choose. I like that. My next course is on wireframing which is how you do mock ups for interfaces. I am looking forward to it.

Hay Day

Hay Day Town So who was the bright spark who suggested wheating as a wonderful way to make money, collect tools and get the advantage in Hay Day? I have been on Hay Day for around 6 months and this week I’ll be on level 60. I have never used wheating as a ploy because a) it doesn’t help b) it is boring c) it doesn’t help other players d) it is not a superior strategy and I could go on and on. So over the wheaters. The brochure is full of wheat. The farm shops sell wheat and more wheat. You also get the egg farmers, the lavender (indigo) farmers and the corn farmers. You need so many other things to meet truck and riverboat orders. Variety! Then there is the one egg for sale , you click and it’s one tomato. Or the gold nuggets – Sorry, someone has already bought this. Clearly not . There was not a SOLD sign on them. What is that all about? Or the things which are already sold when the brochure has just published. Time lapse? Atomic clock issues? All part and parcel of a game which holds you on a leash. It’s their time and their decisions. You shall have gold nuggets when we permit you to. Not a lot of free thinking goes on this game but a lot of complex thinking does. You always have to be thinking about how you will manage resources, lack of resources, strategy and a positive path forward. You get no rewards for throwing your hands up in the air and having a hissy fit. You do learn the lesson that diamonds can get you anywhere. They are anyone’s best friend in this game. Diamonds will break through any barrier. You can earn quite a few but mostly you have to buy them. I focus on challenges with diamond rewards and then the game comes good sometimes and gives you diamonds in the red chests. I save them to hire Tom mainly. He really helps out and smooths things over but you have to have Tom working for you on a day where you can access his help every 2 hours. It works and is cheaper than spending diamonds on the offers of saws , axes and whatever. I never have enough axes. Saws and axes come in waves but if you are making honey you cannot keep up with the dreaded nectar bush expiration. You clog whole tracts of workable land with dead nectar bushes and come to hate the sight of them. Recently I have been extending the town and am well pleased with my beach cafe and the other decorating I have done. There is plenty to do in this game and a lot of variety. It still amazes me how international it is and how we can connect without needing to use language. It truly is a global village and quite an achievement in that respect.

Flip book revival

I have always had a soft spot for flip books. I had them as a child and  teenager and we used to sit and make them . They were always special. The revival is embracing and using  technology now. People are using the scroll function and Instagram, they are using digital image apps and photography and they are using printers. Now the revival is underway people will start finding other ways of adapting technology to the fun and exacting work of flip book making. The Flip Book Machine is an example of how involved people are becoming and how their artistic ideas are becoming more refined and complex.

Mobile phone detox

Samsung Galaxy ExpressLife offered me the opportunity of a mobile phone detox . I grabbed it with both hands. Why wouldn’t you if you were stupid enough to leave your phone at someone’s place.? Yes, I could have jumped back in the car and done a two hour round trip again. I didn’t.  Dare I go without my phone for a week? I took life’s challenge. As it turned out , it was no big deal to be in a mobile phone free zone for a week but when I got my phone back today I confess I was really pleased to see it. Took me until yesterday to work out I had my phone contacts backed up on my computer. Not having my mobile phone put holes in my thinking! When I left it behind I contacted people who were likely to use my mobile number by sending and email and letting them know. The rest of the week I used email or Facebook to keep in touch. I have a landline. I made calls that way. When I was out I couldn’t contact anyone and it also meant if I had a flat tyre or breakdown I’d be back to the olden days looking for a landline to make a call. We don’t have phone boxes anymore. On the train to town I couldn’t use my memo app, my calendar , my games or texting. I used a pen and paper to try and create my mock up for my blog post. The train was rocking and sliding. The couple across the way from me were laughing with me at the impossibility of writing or drawing on our nice new Adelaide trains. I could have taken my small tablet but it would have defeated the purpose of seeing what it was like without a phone for a week. I managed well without a phone but a mobile phone does make things easier and it does keep you safe. When I put it on today and connected to wifi it went mad updating apps and sending me all the message and notification updates. For 20 minutes it was crazy. Now all is silent. I especially like taking photos with it. I missed checking the weather. I missed making notes and I missed the Samsung notification whistle. Staying up to date is effortless that way. For me it is a handy device but I have to say after a week without one I could adjust easily to not having one. For me its prime functions are keeping me safe and to take photos. What would happen in your life if you didn’t have a phone for a week?