Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Letting kids learn

“The longer you wait for the future, the shorter it will be” Quotations. “Loesje quotes”. Quotations Online 1 Nov. 2009. 28 Dec. 2009 <http://einstein/quotes/loesje/>

I had the opportunity to work with some students who were taking part in end of year examinations. Those who finished early (and in this case most did) were given the opportunity to do something quietly. I watched as they involved themselves in a number independent activities. I took some photos on my mobile which are here in the slideshow. I reminded me of books we used to have like 100 things to make and do. I feel that this sort of activity, scaffolded and enhanced, has the ability to increase the potential of our student’s

literacy/numeracy/operacy .

Have a look at the slideshow (just eight pictures) and I will explain what I mean.

The only instruction given was that the activity had to be silent while others were working on their exams. We have looked at and developed a framework for learning at Southwell where I teach. I highlighted the values and key competencies personal learning time similar to this might support. This is about “learning to learn” and putting the learner at the center of the learning. Accepting where our students are at and providing them with the tools for self improvement but how ….


Quality Assurance
Such a strategy as this independent learning time is now possible to develop and support through the use of ICT tools. I believe the key characteristics of this might be. This is the big disclaimer

  • Classroom Climate - Supportive classroom communities where learning modeled shared celebrated etc.
  • Reflection/expression/evidence/collaboration portals ie social networks, eportfolios (for lack of better word), gallery spaces, video repositories etc
  • Clear goal setting and articulation for learning perhaps SMART Students are asked to check off whether the goal is specific, measurable, action-oriented, reasonable and timely. This could be as simple as What is the purpose of this learning? What will represent success for me? What have I/we done so far? What do I/we plan to do next? with this information in a web environment peers and others can be used to motivate guide learners through this.
  • Formative community assessment – embedded teacher,peer and whole class feedback/feedforward
  • Time availability for learning to take place – this could be small pockets of time after say maths in an primary/elementary environment as we know that the brain need less intensive work in order for the neural pathways to become entrenched see syn-aps. It could also be represented in a more flexible programme where teachers facilitate learning with significant online support and individual access to personal learning.
  • Exemplars, evidence – Examples of tall poppies – growing poppies and aspiring poppies give students a clear direction.
  • 1 to 1 Access - to the connectivity, networks, creation tools and appropriate physical spaces and resources.

The place of personal learning can find its feet and show its evidence. I will finish with a building created in google sketch up by a year 7 students and a link to an online novel written by my son Jack (16) both examples of personal learning and endeavour.




Sunday, December 27, 2009

A simple slideshow embed

I have put a few tables with photos into my blog. I was thinking a slideshow might be better take up less space, run itself and be more attractive. I found a page you could copy the address for a Picasa slideshow into as with many things a little further investigation and I learnt how to do this directly from within Picasa YAY. Here is a video showing how easy this is to do and a sample slide show below.

Here is a sample slide show. Some of the pics have been altered to make up the banner for my blog which feature my mum Dorothy or Dot as she was known. My brothers and sister also appear in some of the pictures. Need to add a few more in memory of Mum. Mum I miss you!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Zac's Bridge thinking

Having been on a visit and taken some photos the students have a real idea about the bridges and their design features and construction.

Mobile post sent by davein2it using Utterli. reply-count Replies. mp3

Monday, November 2, 2009

Still banging on about it


My last post presented a little snippet from a Cellphone policy from Montgomery School District. Essentially it said no phone/mobile device should enter or be used here. The policy was written perhaps four years ago and could have been seen as a safe move given what the perceived possible contribution to learning compared to possible issues unacceptable use might raise. The balance is tipping at lightning speed (and forever) with devices such as the ipod touch, iphone,  android devices, netbooks etc. Their possible contribution is real contribution. Weighing out chirpi on a balance scale by Parahamsa.

I have said and have to repeat that management issues aside we are forgoing an opportunity to learn to be better; to move into a new paradigm rather than just admire it from afar as the kids get on with it. The steps we need are bolder and quicker. Schools are slowly coming round to the idea of 1to1 provision and here it is in an ipod touch for $300 New Zealand Dollars. The video below looks at the experience of a school in the U.K.

A Safe Step may be to allow these touch devices which though not a phone are all but and use our schools wireless networks for connectivity. The next generation will undoubtedly have cameras and mics making them a reasonably solid platform for learning especially once a few apps come down from the appstore. What I think we need to realise fast is that we if we converge some of the functionality we have been get elsewhere into one of these devices they are not as expensive as they first seem.

This to me is one device format that we will see in almost everyone’s future and generally it will contain a phone as well.

These devices will undoubtedly enable learning, save lives and change lives.

Are we big enough to let them change our schools?

When will we let this take place?

Here are some of the things an iPhone can do today. This is a small selection There are 100,000 apps in the store many costing $0.99 making opportunities nearly endless.

Camera image $100
Torch image $20
Notebook image $5
GPS image $200
stopwatch image $20
media player image $60
Games console image $400
Mapbook image $10
Spirit level image $20
TV image $100


Others may not agree but a mobile device that has iPhone capability is a point that will soon be achievable for more of the population than having their own pc ever was. To me the important thing is that it will be personal and so will the learning.

Mark Prensky is debating should we give a four year old an iPhone?

Some other links

Elsewhere we can find out about 5 (Free) iPhone Apps Every Parent Should Have.

Exams  phone a friend

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enough said

Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County, Md. "Possession of portable pager on public school property. In this section the following words have the meanings indicated: 'Portable pager' means any device carried, worn, or transported by an individual to receive or communicate messages. 'Public school property' means the grounds of any public school. "Except as provided ..., an individual may not possess a portable pager on public school property. This section does not apply to: handicapped students using portable pagers for medical reasons; law enforcement officers; visitors on public school property for an authorized program, meeting, or function; faculty or staff members employed by a county board; members of any volunteer fire department, ambulance company, or rescue squad, who are designated to possess a portable pager on public school property by the chief of the volunteer fire department, ambulance company, or rescue squad, and the school principal; and students whose portable pagers are contained in vehicles that are on public school property and are not found to be connected with criminal activity.

Shades of grey ??? The policy as outlined by the students ???

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Googlewave don’t believe the hype?

Google have many of us waiting to find out what wave is and what it might mean for us. Having had a bit of a read around the place and not having an invite myself I became interested. Rather than add yet another review the connections I looked at showed something new and powerful The you tube example is a realtime dialogue with translation. Below this in the iframe is Daniel Tenners take on what Google wave is and isn't for the full page is found here. Personally I think this is going to be big for collaboration and that connectivity is going to be the big delivery point for personal learning in online connected real time environment like google docs etherpad and google wave.

Ride the wave if you have trouble reading the frame below Daniels website is only a click away

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking for acceptable use with head in sand

I was at the Ulearn conference recently where several learners were talking about having a voice, being heard and saying what you think. In these times of change; debate and honesty are needed because the present reality is not the preferred future (the outcome of these debates will determine our direction into the unknown.)
In one workshop, on edupunk a discussion was raised suggesting that because of the danger of pornography and misuse students should not be allowed to have mobile devices in the learning environment. I found myself getting agitated while listening to someone outlining the issue who seemed incredibly reticent to allow mobile devices within the school system due to this risk. Mobile devices are ubiquitous and they are becoming “T H E  M A J O R  P E R S O N A L” connectivity mechanism.
There is much talk about schooling becoming irrelevant and while I think this is far from the case I would like to argue here that these risks may gain traction in an education system that doesn’t accept its role has changed and that an approach to internet safety must embrace change from within; utilising an ecological approach.

image image

image image

Engage or lose relevance

On a weekday 6 hours is the average time spent in school 18 are spent in the outside world. Sure there is the little matter of sleep and eating but the figure above speaks for itself. When we consider that access to learning technologies is probably greater outside of the school we have a curriculum of self direction. The options for good and bad, sustainable and unsustainable, moral and immoral, positive and negative, creative and consumerist are boundless outside of school. Students are learning more than ever outside of our gates. Our separation of the technological means used in the two environments is an untenable position in the long term and I propose - in the here and now. In waiting to be prepared we may lose our opportunity be part of the ecological development.

The Youth/Teens ie our Students have A participatory culture.

This participatory culture is “a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support
for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what
is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices.A participatory culture is also
one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection
with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have
created). Forms of participatory culture include:
Affiliations — memberships, formal and informal, in online communities centered
around various forms of media, such as Friendster, Facebook, message boards,
metagaming, game clans, or MySpace).
Expressions — producing new creative forms, such as digital sampling, skinning and
modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction writing, zines, mash-ups).
Collaborative Problem-solving — working together in teams, formal and informal,
to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (such as through Wikipedia, alternative
reality gaming, spoiling).
Circulations — Shaping the flow of media (such as podcasting, blogging).”  taken from the confronting the challenges
report from the Mc Aurthur Foundation

Confronting the Challenges
of Participatory Culture:
Media Education for the
21st Century


The same report suggests the following and reading it helps me think what our preferred future might be:

“Rather than dealing with each technology in isolation, we would do better to take an ecological
, thinking about the interrelationship among all of these different communication
technologies, the cultural communities that grow up around them, and the activities they support.”

My Beliefs are that given the cultural communities that exist for young people are so connected they have the potential to bypass and ignore a formal education system.

Our steps towards a preferable future

  • Engage with students in the creation of an AUP that focuses on a vision for digital citizenry
  • Understand and explore what kids are doing in the 21st century
  • Help learners to learn from each other and from wider connections
  • Develop utility and understanding of the contribution points for connected mobile devices
  • Allow students to develop and explore suitable ethics and use
  • Provide faster cheaper safer (ie filtered but not stifled ) connectivity for mobile devices in our school
  • Learn ourselves
  • Accept new curriculum
  • Take risks (“the best way to predict the future is to make it”)

What this does not mean

This does not mean that learners can have whatever content they like on their phones etc but rather that we understand we will maximise both learning and shared values through adopting acceptable use based on

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Kids Are Doing - check 1 -

Kids are sophisticated media producers....

if we let them
if we let them share with each other
if we give them an audience

How do we lift their level even higher?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reality Check - Digital Story

We had a look at digital stories and how to make them with students at Southwell School. No matter what, it is important to hand over the learning to the students. Well ... here are some results. No success criteria in this first attempt was laid out but we talked about copyright, tone, static images etc. The students were self motivated by the chance to work in the digital environment and to apply learning to this media genre and format.

There is some strong story telling and visual language with the voice coming through in the Siberia story strongly. We would love some feedback and a quick comment would be appreciated by the students.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Google docs Ulearn

Some Ideas for Google apps integration and use of Google docs. These simple tools are so connected and so online that they are changing the way we work play and collaborate (or me any way ;—)  ).  You are able to edit and add to the slides below. There is a lot more to add to the story so please have a go and I will be able to reflect on how this can grow from a simple start. Connectivity is King, Queen, Matai and Keli’i

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's now and it's social if we let it

Missed the start of DK from mediasnackers workshop and came into with history of social interaction on the internet and then the Mobile/social learning onslaught.
Why are phones unwanted in schools? I am thinking especially camera in our school environment.
What about Kindy? See the 1 year old below

DK had an interesting digital story created by people writing on a4 and holding up their message and taking a picture
of it with the writer in the frame. .

My similar ideas for content

  • What are the issues in our school?
  • What helps you learn?
  • I learn best when
  • The book character was
  • How does bullying effect people
  • How does encouragement help you
  • Also single frame digital story telling could come from these cameras
  • sustainability messages
  • Safety messages
  • Poems
  • Emotional responses
  • Love more in comments below What do you think?

Milton Keynes youth service created the message below

This is simple but effective somehow knowing that the word was someone's makes it more powerful.

The second most popular reason youth use the web is Learning.
From the web makes me feel … This site collects and reflects on the results gathered from one ok DK's web interaction points.


I really liked this reflection on twitter


“Twitter not about contacting people about finding out about stuff”

DK was talking alot about the way things just are. You can use hash tags as a stream of information in twitter so why wouldn't you? it just is.
Very pragmatic I thought lets look at reality and what we can use around us. Simple tools and social networks.

As a 44 year old the infographic below made me feel so good I had won a competition that doesn't exist.
What do the baby boomers do in social media?



Link to Media Snackers is found above. DK is very open and inviting
jumps straight to honorary kiwi status in my book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

IT takes some planning

Colin Warner & Lynn Davie

Glen Waverly college, Victoria Dept Ed


Asked to consider where our schools are on this

Elements that may effect development

Vision, Professional Learning, Ownership, Res & Org, Action Plan, Review

No vision = confusion
No PL = anxiety
No ownership = gradual change
No Res and org = frustration
No Action plan = inconsistency
No Review = unknown impact

What Stephen Heppell said learners thought made them feel good about the process

making something
having an audience

I liked Colin talking about making sure teachers see a big variety of
practise examples. Also this is a nice simple view of what we need to be doing as a process.


Would have liked to have seen more student’s voice in this  workshop
and perhaps a look into the learning that was the result of the process.

Software for Learning


Fiona Grant based in School support services Auckland

Rochelle Jensen Waikato University


Rochelle described the software for learning site as  a

One stop shop for teachers looking to select software for learning.”

Hot NEWS from workshop

A new search engine is in development and usernames will be individualised and transferable so they can transfer from one school to another. CWA are to make it possible for learning management systems to authenticate so users will not have to enter passwords. This will make these alot more popular in my eyes.

My ideas from the workshop

  • Give one team member a role to locate suitable objects for a unit
  • Revisit that object as a whole class and in groups
  • Use the object for different perspectives each time
  • Introduce the estories form the wiki to your whole staff or syndicate groups
  • Well suited to social action and applying knowledge

The wikispace refers to the pedagogy behind this. This brings this closer to schools and looks ate their use in the classroom.
These stories are a good place to start for integration of learning objects into meaningful deep learning experiences.

The unit can already be started before the learning object is used. What happens when students think and apply past experiences to new situations. For example students who has looked at how dyed water is drawn into a plant. This is applied to the river context.

This can be watched at
was some great language of learning


Thoughts on what makes digital digital objects effective presented were
I’ll be back to




Thanks Rochelle and Fiona for providing examples of best practice in use of digistore.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading the right thing


This maybe what happens when people read this blog post. If not it probably because
we have chosen to or are seeking to learn about text vs visual language
through an emotional connection.
If from our perspective this is meaningful to us our brain will store it. I see visual information as more inately engaging.
Did the use of the red bold text get our attention? Is this a method of making the reading have more perceived benefit?

I plan to use visual text and prior reflection to help select what material, media, genre that students I work with will be exposed to.
Enthusiasm and engagement will need to be established before they start reading 
Even better if they are part of the selection process it may help to ensure they predict benefit.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Networking for 1 to 1


With future posts I will look at pedagogy but this post will consider networking and it’s implications. The reason being that often people don’t understand the implications of adding more devices onto their networks, where the bottlenecks are etc. I hope that this post will make some of it easier to understand and help those making decisions for 2010. Otherwise we may hear this type of talk…

“We have got a whole lot of netbooks and all of  sudden the network seems awfully slow.”
”We used to have good internet and now students are waiting a long time for simple things to happen.”

There are large implications to increasing client density on our school networks (these are not just about our internet connection but internal also). 
What do we need to understand, do to create and maintain a network suitable for 1:1 student use?

5 Big ideas

  • The Network is now the most important part of Schools learning technologies infrastructure
  • Network contains 4 main components – Internet connection – Backbone – Network Layering (segmentation) – Wireless Access
  • These components have to match with client (device) density if the users experience is to be a good/successful/meaningful one
  • Wireless access is the only suitable way to deliver ubiquitous/natural learning technologies
  • "the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system" Metcalfe's law ie the more people connected the more learning the more opportunities.

A closer look at these

The Network is the most important part of the Schools learning infrastructure

It used to be that schools spent their money preparing servers to host mail, files and programmes. Now much of this functionality is moving to places outside the school. Schools are pooling forces to consolidate these like Nayland College who share a server with Nelson Girls. Network connectivity is the key to this. For a school to host the increasing number of devices that are being plugged in; or to enjoy wireless networking attention to this is important. In our school over 250 more devices are connected this year than last. Next Year and additional 230 are predicted. It could be  a bit like trying to fit a cities traffic down a normal road if we don’t take a few crucial steps.


The Four Main Components

As shown above High speed internet to maintain service levels if we connect more devices to our network. Jetstream is not able to put information from our schools onto the internet nearly as fast as it can bring it down so when more of us want to use web 2.0 tools we will struggle to do so.

The connections between buildings and switches (think old telephone exchanges) is our backbone. Fibre optic cables and fast switching are needed if we want to avoid bottle necks and teacher frustration.

Network Layering
When a computer or other device on a network wants to talk to another one it can happen in number of ways. In most school networks traditionally the device would ask all of the others if they were the right one ie send its message everywhere in a hit and hope type exercise. This was not such a problem when there were a small number of devices involved but now there are hundreds it can make things noisy and slow. To speed things up we can segment a network (make it layer 3) and send the traffic directly to where it needs to go. The important message here is to use layer three capable switches in our networks.

Wireless Access
The most difficult to get right but the most important in many ways because this is the where connections to the network for 1:1 devices will start. Schools need enterprise level wireless to manage 1 to 1 devices. A good system will be characterised by a central wireless management unit. What this does is ensure that access points are not competing with each other and that clients are handed on seamlessly from one to another.

The match to Client density
More devices = more bandwidth required for the same experience. Work using local software if the network can’t support multiple online users.

The value of 1:1 has come from the value of the network ie the value of connectivity.
We need to get our network environment right for the value of connectivity to show through. My next post will be a reflection on the realities of pedagogical (teacher readiness) for 1:1

For a look at the ideal world of a 1:1 implementation read this on Wesley Fryer’s Blog and then read the comments which allude to a hardware environment being funded but teacher readiness not. To get teachers ready is a more complex process than getting the students and their devices connected. In my mind we jump across and action research our way to individual teaching success. See easy isn’t it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Students View

What some students thought when asked if schools should go 1 to 1. They were also asked what they were proud of in their use of a Netbook. Interesting to me were that they all had different personal ideas on this and that their reasoning for why was based on sound ideas rather than the gadget factor.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quizlet learn it and have fun

My son Jack is studying for NCEA Spanish. Being a geek and believing that a computer and the internet will solve all ills I looked to the web for a way through. I was amazed at how empty searches were when looking resources that would really help. I was taking part in an online meeting with 0ZNZ educators and by chance one of them specialises in modern Languages He had alot of ideas about learning using technology. His name is Joe Dale and his wiki is found at Michael Fawcett a local blogger who I have alot of respect for was talking about what his daughter used as study tools and both confirmed the use of mp3s and flashcards as the major tools for exam preparation. I have started to work with these ideas and Jack has recommended I have also come across Quizlet which is an online flashcard place. Between now and the end of the year Jack will put some of the NCEA vocab into Quizlet. I have embedded a match up below see how you get on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Purchasing/maintenance Questions for 1:1 programmes

Having been through a year of 1 to 1 laptop use in our school I am preparing for a workshop at ulearn09 looking at what schools need to prepare for 1 to 1 learning. Many people will be seeing this as a simple transition to a greater density of devices on their networks. The best way for us to decide and think about this is probably to consider the implications of future events. The following are discussion starters for some important questions in this process.

  • We have got 50 devices and over half of them are having a problem with not starting up properly what should we do?

  • We can get a high power laptop for the same price as a netbook that should be better?

  • What are the hidden costs of this programme? are there any?

  • Should the parents/students be able to bring any laptop of their choice?

  • The device choice is not too important most devices today are of a good quality let’s just get on with it?

  • A parent is able to secure a good deal on a netbook for us should we take it?
  • And the answers are…
    Well ok No answers but there is no doubt these are important questions. We have had to increase our network support in-house to accommodate this. We purchased a very robust looking computer the classmatepc. We have 130 of these being used by year 7 students who take them home and we have had dealt with one issue that effected over 50% of these. So the two Big Answers To Purchasing and maintenance…


    • a warranty for three years
    • proven track recording the student space
    • nothing that can be pulled off
    • has protective bag
    • no point of stress eg tablet with only one central hinge
    • battery guides so pins cant get bent
    • a sturdy mechanism for where the power cable from adapter will go



    • understand the supply chain
    • ask for an open book submission which shows cost from manufacturer
    • look at what added value they can provide
    • will they attend information evenings
    • how will they prepare the units for you
    • manufacturer has an online knowledge base with forums, usergroups etc

    Possible scenarios that might make sense

    If you do not have on site tech support provide a service where the device can be dropped off at the schools reception desk and picked up by supplier from there.

    If you need tech support to be managed by parents the information evenings and

    Here is an example of an RFP (request for proposals) that may help you if you want to use one.

    Rfp Netbook Template

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Reality Check 4

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Reality Check 3

    Working with Year Eight students on Digital storytelling aspects the following is the sketch of what and how we will work.

    Most important part I think In the Session

    1. work out what we know
    2. have clear learning intentions
    3. interact with each other
    4. try to allow cognitive rehearsal for thinking
    5. create new personal knowledge


    From an earlier collaboration with another teacher

    the following are the learning intentions


    What is a digital story ? Look at three of these on these sites.



    Give 1 get 1. Move around the room give someone an idea about

    What a digital story is ? and

    • Story like
    • Emotional
    • One person speaking
    • Transition of pictures
    • Similar to a movie
    • Pictures of what it is about
    • About a personal view of someone
    • Past tense
    • Music or Song
    • Pictures are still
    • Pictures and voice describing

    What it Isn’t

    • A movie
    • Made up
    • Moving pictures
    • Voices out of pictures
    • Just all facts


    Look at a factual survival story



    Fact to fake narration

    The students came up with these ideas

    • Good hook
    • Tense : generally Past/flashback. Present .Future
    • 1st person 3 rd Person
    • Ending in a question (keep people wondering)
    • Balancing fact and experience/emotions
    • Diary form
    • Suspense
    • Point of view

    Read the article highlight important facts perhaps collect facts as a group. the article is too big and needs to be reduced if one session is used for whole activity.

    Write this as a narration

    Reflect at end what was good learning what wasn’t any comment you would like to make.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Googledocs a quick learn

    We are starting to use google docs for our students

    Why for those who are not sure?

    Once we get over the wow look at this, look at that; we need to focus on how to improve learning.

    Nick Rate has a good idea for writing the pic below links to his full post with examples.


    Colours could also be used to identify (multiple concurrent authors is powerful learning just ask Vygotsky)

    • ownership
    • parts of speech
    • editing process
    • thought process
    • de bonos thinking hats
    • perspectives
    • main ideas
    • disagreement
    • discussion points

    This Google presentation has some other good ideas


    I am working with some teachers on this tomorrow and it needs to be about teaching and learning

    the good thing with google docs is I know it can be just that.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    Easi-speak Guide

    imageThere are some good introductions to the USB easi-speak microphone on

    Lorraine’s and Dorothy’s blogs.

    The following was recorded easy on the easi-speak

    I think these are going to do great things for literacy where teachers cotton on to it


    I have just copied some pics from the manual which is stored as a pdf on the

    microphone itself. most of it is self evident but I have highlighted the bits I wasn’t sure of.





    See you later I’m off to record some stuff add ideas for the mic’s use in comments if you like. Those of you at Southwell can borrow them from the ICT hub and I am happy to come and help out if you are interested.