Design and Agile Thinking

agile - definitionAgile is the new buzz word. Agile thinking, agile management, but it comes from the IT industry and software development. It is about including the user to ensure good outcomes with design , delivery and functionality. The 10 key elements are here on AllAboutAgile. It comes back to what I have been saying: the tried and true internet way of doing things: Create content, share , gain feedback and then grow your ideas. It’s a constant improvement , growth circle. Spiral , maybe ,because you are always getting better.

Agile and Design thinking are at the heart of our Professional Teaching Standards but they haven’t been articulated in that way. They have been out since 2011 and perhaps need to be refreshed so that we can see clearly these standards are very much part of the 21st Century.

1.
Know students and how they learn
Refer to the Standard
at each career stage
2.
Know the content and how to teach it
3.
Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
4.
Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
5.
Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
6.
Engage in professional learning
7.
Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers
and the community

If you look at the video clip you can see how well our standards fit in with the elements of design and agile thinking. Knowing others and engaging with them is fundamental to design and agile thinking. Getting that feedback so you can improve delivery and experience is fundamental too.

These principles of design and agile thinking are articulated within the standards e.g.

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.

2.2 Lead initiatives that utilise
comprehensive content knowledge to
improve the selection and sequencing
of content into coherently organised
learning and teaching programs

3.2 Work with colleagues to plan, evaluate
and modify learning and teaching
programs to create productive learning
environments that engage all students

4.1 Demonstrate and lead by example
the development of productive and
inclusive learning environments
across the school by reviewing
inclusive strategies and exploring new
approaches to engage and support
all students

Design thinking is : Understand, Explore, Prototype , Evaluate

Agile Thinking is about bearing the end user in mind, making incremental improvements and gaining feedback before you move on.

These types of current and technological thinking are at the heart of our standards . We call them growth mindset and improvement model.

Personal Maps

Personal MapAs a teacher , you will be more than familiar with Mind Maps. They have been used in classrooms for quite some time and have been a great way to generate ideas, get students focussed, planning and ideas generation. I have used them a lot in languages to build vocabulary and expression and to deconstruct texts.  We are in the web 3.0 arena now where anyone can connect with others elsewhere with a specific task/project in mind. This video by Jurgen Appelo explains very clearly how you can use personal maps to break down barriers and create connections really quickly when you want unfamiliar groups of people to work together. I have also made a mental note to look up what software he is using to make that video because in terms of flexible learning it is very effective. The technique of the video presentation keeps the background uncluttered, it keeps the speaker in control and central and it allows the speaker to deliver a clean, clear message. In terms of UX (user experience) it means the viewer is always on task and always focussed. I have been using Freeplane, an open source mind mapping application. It’s colourful, useful and easy to use. It works on any platform but needs java installed. It creates very clear, uncluttered mind maps. I have done my own personal map which I am sharing with you.

In ear translators

The technology world never gives up dreaming.  Electronic translators are getting better but to learn a language means you are learning the culture and the psychology of the people. and electronic translators really do have their limitations Every time you learn a language you discover another part of yourself and a different way of expressing yourself. The in ear translators are a major breakthrough for voice synthesisers and translators. You know electronic translators have their faults but in many situations an in ear translator would be better than nothing. Running them though could be a problem in terms on connections and battery life. Extreme Tech has a good look at them. In the meantime developers will keep pioneering. BoredPanda looks at the practicalities of an in ear translator if you are interested. They will be available later this year.

iCloud eBook library

“Our mission is to serve and aid the public, students, and educators, by providing the world’s most complete collection of electronic books, documents, and articles online, as well as offer a variety of ebooksservices and resources that support and strengthen the instructional programs of education, elementary through post-baccalaureate studies.”

The World Public Library Association is the biggest eBook aggregation online and you can join for US 8.95 a year. You do not have to join. You can still listen to the audio books. The payment is for downloading pdf versions some of which might be free elsewhere. The advantage with this site is they have so much in one spot. The collections they have are impressive because they have a commitment to online literacy and social justice. There are mp3 audio books and pdf versions of print books. You need to browse the site for yourself since it is so huge. There are books available in different languages. It means you can read or listen to a book on any device. 21st century at last. To register, go here.

Reviving your languages skills

 

Reviving language skillsMany people are like me and have latent language skills in other languages. They are languages they used to speak, were their mother tongue which they have since let go, are languages they have learned at school or maybe while they were studying, working or holidaying in another country. We are in a good time for reviving those skills and it has benefits because you increase your communication base in a global village and connected world and you then increase your knowledge. I have been motivated to revive my Spanish skills because of Instagram. A number of people who follow me or whom I follow are Spanish speaking and it’s nice to see what they are doing and saying and I want to be able to say things to them. Languages really build connections. Like the Glaswegian in the video I learned Spanish in a 12 week course at university. We had two hours of grammar and vocabulary, two hours in the language laboratory and then one hour of an oral practice tutorial. In the second part of the course we were ready to read our first novel and then a play. In the third part we looked at Spanish speaking newspapers and Spanish speaking culture in Spanish. It was intense, demanding and highly effective language instruction. Now we have the internet. We have web 3.0. I don’t need to go back to the beginning. I need to wake up my latent knowledge so it has been an interesting experience trying to work out a course of action which is right for me. So what have I done?

I have looked at things on the net and assessed my skills. I can read well for understanding, I can write with a lot of looking up and checking, my grammar is very rusty, I recognise vocabulary but I am not recalling it that well, I can’t talk it very well at all and I can listen to simpler things and understand them easily. I now know my learning gaps.

So how am I going to address them in the internet age?

  • I am using Twitter and Instagram because I can read things in Spanish which are not very long and I can easily work out what they mean. I am tweeting one Spanish tweet a day. It’s not a big, demanding task. I can do this. It brings back my knowledge of vocab and expression.
  • I am watching You Tube clips like the one on this post. Having subtitles is good. Having a pdf of the oral text is good.
  • I am using an authentic Spanish podcast. There are a number of people now who do authentic language podcasts. They are very effective at using the language in such a way that you understand it. They speak more slowly. They explain aspects of language but also just talk to you about things and so you are reinforcing your understanding of a language in a very natural way.
  • I am looking at videos of grammar points as I feel like it.
  • I am about to look to see if there are apps at my level. I know there are plenty of beginner apps. I shall see if there are ones for intermediate learners.
  • There are Spanish intermediate YouTube clips where someone explains in Spanish different things like the family, a holiday and it is all supported with visuals and so you learn effectively and naturally.

For me it comes down to listening a lot, reading and then doing my own practice in my own way. It is all coming back to me now! It was interesting that the Glaswegian had a similar story to mine. maybe it is a Scottish thing. He actually was more motivated to learn and improve his German because he had family in Germany he wanted to speak to. I had a German aunt and then a German cousin who married into the family. I spent a lot of time with my aunt and we just spoke German. I wanted to learn German to speak to my cousin because I really liked her. Like Xander Lusk I then just started learning Spanish because I could and the literature was very moving and meaningful. It is only now that I am finding a communication need for my Spanish.

Web Design for Web Developers Course

Web Design for Web Developers When I first started the Web Design for Web Developers Course with Jonas Stedtmann on Udemy I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good or not. It starts off slowly and so I was wondering. By the end of the course I was really pleased and had learned a lot. This is the first Udemy course I have done which offers back up by way of downloads. I was able to download a free e-book by Jonas Stedtmann and then the slide presentation so Jonas is the only tutor so far who has given me things which I can use as resources after the course and to have my own copy of the slides is valuable because I can go back and check what he was saying about different aspects of the course content. For an online course that is helpful. The other courses I can log in and go back through the lessons while I am online. This is a beginners’ course but what you learn is really important to being able to produce better visual content online and , in a classroom, on an electronic board. I learnt about colour psychology, white spaces , font sizes, text presentation and image selection. Teachers are using technology and it is important to have some basic understanding of how you present electronic material or how you select good websites or how you can create effective digital presentations. There are basic skills you can learn which enhance and optimise digital presentations and for effective teaching and learning it is probably wise to learn them. I really enjoyed this course in the end because it was all useful and all usable. It opens your eyes and then Jonas very gently allows you to learn what you need to know.

Blue Tooth Adapter Windows 10

blutooth adapterGetting the Targus USB Ultra-Mini Bluetooth 2.00 Adapter to be fully functional on Windows 10 was not as straightforward as on Linux. The adapter had come with a mini CD with the drivers. My desktop has a vertical CD drive and my laptop sucks the CD into a black hole . I needed a tray CD player to use that and get the driver. For Linux loading the driver had not mattered.  The USB adapter was picked up straight away by Windows 10 as a bluetooth device and it was showing in Device Manager and the system tray. It was not able to send files to my phone and my phone was not able to send files to it even though they had paired. I then got the dreaded Code 43 error and uninstalled it and reinstalled it to no avail. I tried loading Targus drivers from the Net. Epic fail on that one but as Windows was trying to find my phone the computer did actually send files to it. Not the other way around, though. So I tweeted my problem. I always do when I am stuck. It makes me feel better and it is amazing how suddenly you get a breakthrough in problem solving. I went to the Targus Australia site, to support and downloaded a driver from there. Still nothing so I tweeted again tagging Samsung, Targus and Windows 10. Finally!! The phone magically put up the screen where I have to allow the device to be discovered which I had not had to do in Linux. The system tray icon had everything I needed on the menu and I was in business. I could send files back and forth both ways and it was really effective. I think I needed to have Australian drivers and Windows 10 is naturally very prudent and careful. It is very security conscious. Now my adapter works on my laptop and my desktop and as I said in the last post, it is about options. Always remember to reboot Windows when you load a driver. It  likes that.

USB Bluetooth adapter

Blueman It is the teenniest thing. I just happened to find this bluetooth adapter in its package when I was op shopping. Never overlook a bargain. It means I have options. I connected my Targus USB Ultra-Mini Bluetooth 2.00 Adapter with EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) to my Ubuntu laptop and we were in business…sort of. It connected , lit up and I could send files from the laptop to my Samsung S5 phone . Sending files to the laptop from the phone was not working and no matter what I did ….nothing. That was the main reason I wanted the bluetooth connection. Yes, I can connect the wire to my phone and transfer things that way. Yes, I can use Dropbox which is very efficient when I have access to wifi. Bluetooth bluetooth adaptorgives me a wireless option when I don’t want to use wires and I don’t have wifi access. It also means I can use it on my desktop computer. I googled to get help, as you do. I found this help on a Linux Mint tutorial and found by loading the Blueman programme from the Ubuntu Software Centre I could have full functionality with phone and laptop. The devices connected quickly and the files transferred easily both ways. I did not need to install the obext ftp.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5I always run behind with my mobile phone. I let everything sort itself out and then move slowly to another model, in my own time, when I feel like it. I have upgraded my Samsung Galaxy Express ,which I came to really appreciate, to a Samsung Galaxy S5. The Express was getting too slow and clunky for what I wanted to do. Having moved on, it’s nice being upgraded. However, there is no offline FM radio for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and that comes as a disappointment to me because I could use one now. I have a little one I can use independently but it would be good to have one I could use on the phone or which runs from the earplugs as they used to. I do not always have a wifi connection and I am not using mobile data to stream radio. Bit of FM flexibility would not go astray because we are supposed to be living in a personalised world. An offline FM tuner capability would be good for rural areas which don’t always have access to reliable wifi or mobile signal. They say offline FM tuners have been abandoned because no one used them. I use them and lots of people on the internet seem to want to use them because they are googling what I am googling. Please let us have the option. Other than that I find the S5 to be very reliable, smooth and helpful as a phone. It was chewing through the battery as it downloaded and updated apps and my phone but it set it up really well so all my apps were there from the play store and it only took about 10 minutes to be up and running. Now it has set itself up , the battery usage is good. The camera is superior to the Express and that is a feature I really want. It runs very quickly and smoothly on the Net and that is another feature I want. It’s tactile sounding keyboard is good for me because I have trouble with touch keyboards. This one is pretty good as touch keyboards go. I really like it and have adapted to it quickly because it is efficient and effective. I did embarrass myself when I rang someone accidentally instead of texting them because of how things are set out and I don’t find there is a good contrast onscreen between the orange and green colours they have used. I then couldn’t find out how to stop the call because it was different from the Express. The fun of learning a new phone. The power saving options are good, the information I am provided with is good and I really like the active apps deck you can bring up that I have shown in the picture. As you can see, I was trying everything to get offline FM Radio. Not to be. Now I know why the young man on the train had his phone AND a little MP3 player. Makes you look very retro.  Next week I shall be doing the same . Wake up Samsung! At least provide us with the option of a headset/earplugs with FM tuner. AndroidPit has a list of Android phones which do have an offline FM Tuner.

Job skills 2016

I was fortunate enough to work in a school today as a mock job interviewer. It was an interesting experience to see how senior students prepared themselves and managed a job interview. They were all pretty good on the presentation of themselves and social skills. They were all nice talk to. That is important I think. People don’t forget you if they like you and you probably need to make a genuine relationship with the interviewer. All the students could do that. What they could not do so well was notice the skills they actually had and talk to those. This is the value of practice and simulation. Some did not realise that because of the skills they had then technology would actual help promote them because they could photograph or video their activities and themselves doing the sorts of things they were talking about. You Tube has plenty of videos about how to present for job interviews and the best things people can say or do. One of the recommendations in the video I have selected is that you are passionate. There were two today who were passionate about what they were talking about. It showed. It made them the best. Because they were passionate they naturally understood collaboration with others but could not articulate collaboration as a skill. It was clear they knew how to apply their knowledge in a growth way if they worked for you. They could respond to questions about different people and scenarios and so had an understanding of how you involve others and how you make them want to grow and learn.

Job skillsThe Bloomberg Job Skills Report has our current 4 most needed job skills as:

Creative problem solving
Leadership
Strategic Thinking
Communication skills

All the students could communicate pleasantly and effectively.You had a sense that they ere nice people. The two who stood out could demonstrate their understanding of the other three skills. They knew it was important to have a growth mindset, to network and create good experiences for others. They could see how you could develop a business and so would be great on a team because they had vision and it was surprising how well they understood strategic thinking for a company . They were also very inventive in how they dealt with scenarios. It’s important ,then, that we offer them videos in what the skills actually are and what they look like. You have to be very competent to coach ice hockey. What skills does that break down into? That is why I chose the video I did. It goes some way to explain what the skills are and mean, where the ideas are sourced and which ones are easy to demonstrate and show.

International Children’s Digital Library

The ICDL is mustering many of the well loved children’s stories of yesteryear and quality children’s literature in many languages. It is becoming an archive and irreplaceable resource for language development and culture. The books are available as e-books and can be read on the site by turning the pages. The driving force behind the site is tolerance and respect for cultures. Award winning books are also featured and some very valuable links out to sites which promote reading and writing for students.

Interactive mirrors

Interactive mirrors are starting to get lift off and one of their most important uses would be in the medical arena. People are still playing with ideas, patents and the technology behind interactive mirrors but they will happen. Some of them function like a smart board, some are using two ways mirrors and some are using smoke and mirrors to create the effect. The motivation and research are there to develop them into functional and fun items. Just a matter of time. The one featured in the video has a patent pending but it was developed in 2008 so maybe it does have a patent by now. There are instructions here to develop a magic mirror with the Raspberry Pi and Mad Science has instructions for making a magic mirror using your smartphone.

Equity for those who wear glasses

One of the problems for those who wear glasses when they watch 3D movies is either they have to wear the 3D glasses and not their prescription ones or they have to wear two pairs of glasses: the prescription pair and the 3D pair. There is no equity for spectacle wearers in the 3D cinema world. Some would be able to afford the $20 dollars upwards for a pair of 3D glasses which clip onto their prescription glasses. I am wondering if any proper research has been done on this problem. It is a problem. Some feel stupid for having to wear two pairs fo glasses. Some cannot wear the two pairs and no matter which one they opt for they are going to get blur. It depends on the vision problems and, of course, there is no way the real world can manage everyone’s eyesight problems at the cinema. Classic case of where you need to look at user experience and user research and then make a plan! Maybe clip on ones need to be as easily and readily available in the same way and at the same price as the regular 3D glasses. Maybe there is an easy way to customise prescription glasses and some people would be able to do that to a spare pair of glasses. The world needs to get onto it. Quora looks at how people manage this. It would appear they can either manage it or not and the 2 pairs of glasses at once is an issue. Eyecarefun has some suggestions , one of which is just to watch the regular version of the movie. So many people wear glasses. Why can’t they just watch 3D like anyone else? The world needs to get onto it.

Shifting my blog from Blogger to WordPress.com

up an atomI blogged the other day about how I had moved my smaller blog from Blogger to WordPress.com. I have since moved the really big blog and was expecting to have to troubleshoot, but no, Blogger and WordPress work very effectively together. I have had to play around with templates for the newly moved blogs to get the ones which suit them. That has been fun more than anything. I have had to install my Twitter feeds through the widgets and have generally had nothing more than cosmetic stuff to do. The labels on Blogger came over as categories which is a bit awkward because there are so many of them. I am sorting them very slowly and have thought that well, I shall just have to live with that for now and make it a work in progress. It’s not such a bad thing. The worst thing for me is the new templates do not have a widget for the meta data which my other 3 blogs on WordPress do have. It means I cannot log in from the front page of the blogs like I do on my other blogs. I either log in from another blog or straight from the WordPress site. It is not the worst thing in the world but it is annoying. I’d like to think the new templates could offer the meta data widget like my other blogs. There does not appear to be an easy fix for this so I am looking upon it as a challenge. The whole process has been pretty easy and very smooth and I really do appreciate that Blogger and WordPress can co operate so well. I have deleted the smaller one of my Blogger blogs but even with that there is an option to undelete. This is a cyberworld which is supporting me and working with me. The big blog is remaining for a while with a redirect link until the traffic shifts over to the new site.

Stats for Nerds

stats for nerdsIf you pause a YouTube video and right click on it you get a pop up menu. On that menu it has an option Stats for Nerds. Love it! If you want to know what they mean I have explained them. Things like dimension you will know so I haven’t explained them all.

statsResolution @25 – @ 25 frames per second
Stream host – server which is running video
CPN- Probably Id for European Canon Professional Network
Mime Type – how the internet identifies the type of file. vp9 is  an open and royalty free coding format for videos
DASH 244/251 relates to audio. Format 251 Is Opus.
Dropped frame rate: Will affect smooth running and synching of audio and video. Can be caused by drivers, slow computers, internet access…

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. In 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 .