TeachMeet SLF 2013

Monday 09 September 2013 at 9:19 pm

I am going, and looking forward, to TeachMeet SLF 2013

Wednesday 25th September 2013 from 5.30 - 8.00pm

Esk/Forth Room at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
Third Floor, The Optima Building, 58 Robertson Street, Glasgow, G2 8DQ

Handy if you are down (or up) in Glasgow for the Scottish Learning Festival.

I've signed up to talk about the ScotEduBlogs reboot and invite folks to listen to and get involved with EDUtalk.

e-Assessment Scotland 13

Saturday 24 August 2013 at 2:11 pm

On Friday I went to this conference in the University of Dundee. David and I were invited to broadcast and record audio from some of the speakers and others at the conference.

There was a pretty packed programme which is continuing online (I'll be trying to make the ds106 one. I only attended the keynotes as I was busy recording during other sessions. The atmosphere was great, folk from all sectors talking and sharing.

It was a great privilege to get access to the folk I talked to for Radio EDUtalk. As usual I am surprised at how generous folks are with their time and ideas. Lynn Boyle, @boyledsweetie did all the hard work of organising folk to come and talk to me. We also arranged to have a couple of people plus myself for each session, this makes, I believe, for a more interesting conversation.

I enjoyed and learned a great deal from the keynotes, although my notes are mostly single words to remind myself of questions to ask the presenters when we broadcast. I'll not blog much about these, but you can see Catherine Cronin's slide deck. She kicked off the topic of working in the open which was certainly a theme of my conversations throughout the day. Helen Keegan's keynote was mind-blowing: getting her students involved in an ARG without their knowledge.

I've now posted all the archive audio at EDUtalk with the tag easc13, if you find it half as interesting as I did you are in for a treat.

My other treat was to be able to have a great chat and dinner with David Noble, my edutalk partner and regular contributor Ian Field.

Not being in the classroom I was able to take a holiday to visit the conference. Many classroom teachers would have found it of great value too, if they could have attended. We know that many teachers are happy to give up a day holiday to attend cpd (we hare run well attended summer courses for the past 3 years), it is a pity that class committed teachers could not have a 'cpd day, get out of class free' card to be able to attend events like this. e-Assessment Scotland was a free conference and wonderfully organised.

The Headless Zone #DS106

Monday 19 August 2013 at 8:36 pm

DS106, digital storytelling 106:

is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington, but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

from: About ds106

DS106 can be difficult to understand without becoming involved. It is easy to bounce off the surface of animated gif twitter chat, but there is a lot of learning going on both on the surface and by looking s little deeper.

It is worth having a look at the syllabus.

It covers the basics of setting up an online presence and space for the storytelling you will be come involved in, a blog, twitter and flickr accounts and the like.

The course then goes through theory and practice of digital storytelling, covering design, images, video and audio. In each section of the course participants can add to the assignments as well completing them, the course is, to some extent, built by the students.

What, in my opinion, has made ds106 stand out from the crowd of bigger online courses is the atmosphere and the guidance provided by the instructors at UMW, other locations and from repeat students. The dedication of the instructors to model what they expect from students and to openly comment on the students published work is phenomenal. What is more they do this for open online students. They have also managed to install this work ethic in the participants, there is a high level of engagement between learners and some blurring of roles.

The other exciting thing about ds106 is the riffing of one participant on artefacts produced by another, participants are encouraged to share their creations with cc licences and to remix the work of others. They are also encouraged, required for students at UMW, to give the back story, working methods and ideas surrounding their assignments.

This iteration of DS106 is a we bit different, there are no instructors:

What we are going to do is to publish every Monday a suggested set of activities and creative assignments that you are free to do as you see fit or interested. These are republications of previous materials from ds106 courses taught at the University of Mary Washington since 2011, but this time around, there are no registered students, just the open folks.

from: Getting Closer to Headless #ds106 - CogDogBlog

I've deliberately used the word participants above as there is a blurring or rolls between instructors, students and open-online-participants in a normal ds106 course, this one will push that a bit.

I've had a huge amount of fun (my ds106 blog), learned a lot about digital stroytelling and online learning dipping in and out of ds106, if you are interested in online education, learning about digital media and openness I cannot recommend it enough.

DS106 Fall 2013 Headless starts on the 26th of August. You can find out what to do here: Coming Soon! The Headless ds106 Course

ScotEduBlogs Evolving

Saturday 17 August 2013 at 11:45 am

Summary (TL:DR)

  • ScotEduBlogs is a site with aggregates Scottish Educational Blogs. This allows one to keep up with many blogs in one place.
  • ScotEduBlogs is being redeveloped, simplified and streamlined, repositioning to be a hub of educators blogs (which reflects its original use).
  • I'd appreciate anyone interested looking at the new site, http://scotedublogs.org (temporary url) and letting me know what you think or adding your blog if appropriate.

History

Way back at the beginning of time, well about 2005, there was a first(?) flourishing of blogging in Scottish education lead by Ewan Macintosh.

This lead to a wiki being developed, scotedublogs where folk could add their blogs, organised by Local Authority.

It became popular and this lead to the need for something better than just following links, so after some discussion here Robert Jones, helped by Pete Liddle and cheered on by myself created ScotEduBlogs, a site that aggregated and disseminated blog posts from around the ScotEduBlogosphere.

The site has been very successful in pulling together about 400 blogs for the last few years.

SEB as was was first hosted by Robert and later with sponsorship from LTS and the SQA got its own server. As of 2010 the site is sponsored by the SQA.

Over the last couple of years the site has not developed much, the SQA asked for a professional stream to try and highlight the professional posts from the ones from schools, classes and pupils and we (Robert) implemented this with a pro page.

Robert and I discussed, for time to time, making changes but we never settled on a direction, and recently site did not get many of the new Scottish educator blogs added. The site has stagnated a wee bit over the last year or two, there are a couple of problems displaying content that we did not address (mostly media embeds).

Another problem was that SEB had trouble with glow blog feeds, I am not sure how that is going to work out long term as the future of glow blogs is not too clear but personally I feel it would be great if Scottish educators had a good blogging system to use for their professional development.

Development plans

Recently I had some ideas for redeveloping the site, discussing them with Robert. This lead to a bit of thinking about how much work was involved and the fact that Robert would bear the burden of the development. Given that he now has more professional and personal commitments I suggested simplifying the site and moving it to wordpress using FeedWordPress as the aggregator. Robert is happy with this.

This is going to lead to some changes, particularly in the focus of the site. The site was originally setup when there were few pupil or class blogs in Scotland, now with eportfolios there are thousands, too many to aggregate without a lot more resources than we have. The way glow blogs server their RSS was not compatible with the site. It is compatible with the new one. I am starting out with the subset of blogs already in SEB that are tagged as professional. You can see a list of Contributing blogs.

The next steps would be to add in school and class blogs. Individual pupil blogs could be added to a list, filterable if possible but not aggregated.

I've started the process at http://scotedublogs.org and would appreciate any thoughts and feedback.

Hopefully this will lead firstly to some extra professional blogs being added. You can Add Your blog now, Hopefully too it will become a more streamlined and useful, from the professional/cpd point of view, site.

The look and feel of the site is basic at the moment, again I am open to suggestions for how to take this forward.

The idea at present is to run http://scotedublogs.org in parallel with http://scotedublogs.org.uk for a month or so and if there are no problems and the new site seems useful we will switch to the new system.

Google Image Search

Saturday 27 July 2013 at 8:56 pm

I had a a couple of nice example of how well google image search can work with uploaded images and a couple of descriptive words. Here is one.

While walking today I saw clouds of butterflies, although I tried to get a good photo I failed miserably.

This was the best one:

red-argus-poor

I uploaded this to the google image search, which gave me good feedback on my photo skills:

Gresult 1

Google thinks my butterfly is a bear, dog or fish!

The addition of a few keywords nails it:

Gresult 2

A google wrinkle worth teaching I think.

Radio EDUtalk @ eAssessment Scotland 2013

Monday 22 July 2013 at 11:05 am

Last year Radio #EDUtalk was at the eAssessment Scotland 2012.

I had a great time and we broadcast some great folk and recorded for the podcast: eAS12 | EDUtalk

This year the Programme looks really interesting.

Kenji Lamb has asked us to cover the conference again! I am really excited about going again and getting into some great conversations that will be a bit over my head.

Last year it worked, IMO, really well by having two knowledgable folk in most of the broadcasts (ie as well as me). I hope to repeat this method again.

You will be able to listen to the live stream on Friday 23 August.

We are also going to run a couple of eAssessment Scotland episodes on Radio #EDUtalk on the Wednesdays before and after the conference.

As usual I am amazed at being able to talk to interesting folk just by sharing the conversation.

Show Your Badges

Sunday 21 July 2013 at 10:29 pm

I've blogged a fair bit about badges but still am conflicted about their value in the classroom. Perhaps because I've not used them in anger. Doug Belshaw when talking at the SQA assessment event last month, lit a wee lightbulb, he said something like: Badges from you community to show others, that is it for me, it is the community that issues the badge that is important. I love my talktina badge badge as I value the community that issued it.

Anyway yesterday I had a quick play with the Displayer API · mozilla/openbadges Wiki · GitHub and came up with a wee page that produces a script that will display a public collection from your open badges Mozilla Backpack

Show My Badges

More an effort to improve my baby steps JavaScript than anything else, this might be of use until something more professional comes long. screenshot

EDUtalk: How to Listen

Sunday 14 July 2013 at 9:21 pm

Wirelesses by Elsie esq.
Attribution License

Why would you?

  • Listening to audio is more time consuming that reading. It is hard to bookmark interesting section, to scan quickly through content and to skip back and forward.
  • Alternatively audio provides extra information, the sound of voices. Audio can also be consumed while doing other things, driving, washing the dishes walking the dog etc.
  • We have had many wonderful folk send us audio and a tremendous lineup of guests on our live show. Well worth listening to.

On the site

  • Podcast and Radio EDUtalk
  • You can listen to both podcast and the internet radio stream just by using the players on the site. The audio should be played via html5 players when possible falling back to flash. You can also download the audio using the links provided.
  • Listening on the site or downloading individual audio files is fine for casual listening but there are other ways to get the content with less effort and while you are away from your computer..

By subscribing to the podcast feed

  • The podcast has an RSS Feed. This allows folk to 'subscribe' to the podcast with podcatcher software. This software will automatically check the feed and download new audio that appears on the site automatically. Most podcatcher can be configured to discard older audio files and can organise the audio in different ways.
  • List of podcatchers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • On a Computer
  • Mobile
    • Having podcasts on a mobile device is very useful. It means you can listen to podcasts as you travel. Personally I listen t opodcasts while comuting.
    • If you use iTunes you can sync your podcasts to an ipod or iphone.
    • There are also apps which will sync podcasts directly over wifi. Apple provide the podcast app for free. I use Instacast 2, version 3 is now avaliable.
    • Another popular iOS app is downcast.
    • On the android front here are some suggestions. I'd love to have some recommendations from folk I know.

Listening to the radio stream

There are many ways to listen to Edutalk, and other podcasts and Internet radio. You may find this is a great way to get information in addition to reading and watching.

Summer pt 1: Radio EDUtalk

Thursday 11 July 2013 at 6:23 pm

TL:DR Some improvements for listens to Radio EDUtalk including some scheduling. We have an very varied and rich set of content on edutalk contributed to by a wide range of folk.

Over the Summer I've got a few things I want to work on. A couple of, to me, big ones. ScotEduBlogs is one, but more of that later on. First I want make a few improvements to the Radio EDUtalk stream.

Until today the stream just plays random pieces of audio from the archive files we uploaded. The files sit on the internet-radio.com server.

I had just been creating 64 kbps versions of any files submitted to the podcast and uploading them. the 64kbps files are fine for voice and keep the cost down. Unfortunately this process, or the way I carried it out had stripped the tags from some of the MP3s which meant that the information displaced on the webpage was not great.

For the last couple of days I've been sorting out all of the files I've gather over the last couple of years in a haphazard fashion. For the Radio Edutalk live shows this was easy, I've exported these at 64 kbps and tagged them in a reasonable fashion, eg they are titled, in the Radio EDUtalk album etc.

Scripting

Some other files I had exported at 64kbps without tags. I had to add tags to these files, a couple of hundred. To do this I used a combination of SuperCard, applescript and a couple of shell commands, exiftool and id3tool

The same tools were used along with lame to export lots of other audioboo files and add the tags back in. The only problem is with id3tool which can only handle short ID3 version 1 tags, so some longer titles are truncated. (if you really want to see this in action check a quick video. I've deleted a chunk of this post which gave details, in the unlikely event anyone else needs to do this sort of thing, get in touch.)

This is not perfect but gives a bit more information to the viewer about what is playing on the radio.

We have space for a couple of GB of mp3 and I have more files than that. The idea is to start a rotation, where I'll swap out a subset of audio every month or so. Took overnight and a bit to get the first rotation of 370 files up.

Organising a Schedule

Having files with a better set of tags on the server has allowed me to create some playlists which will play at certain times. For example at 8pm we will have a random episode of the live show, or on alternative days at 7pm Ian Field and Leon Cych will take over for half and hour. The Eduhacking Daily is mostly some teknoteacher with some other contributions. These three folk have contributed the most to edutalk. Going through the files had an added bonus for me, I now appreciate even more the varied and rich set of content we have.

The Schedule

  • Drive Time 5pm 60 minutes a random selection of shorted episode, eg, not the Radio EDUtalk shows.
  • TeachMeet daily 6pm
  • Radio Edutalk 8pm, one random track from the live shows.
  • EduHacking Daily 9pm 30 Minutes, mostly @teknoteacher
  • Purposed Daily 10 pm 30 minutes
  • IanInShefield Mon Wed Fri 7pm 30 minutes
  • Eyebeams Tue Thu Sat 7pm 30 minutes

I'd love to get some ideas for different selection that we could schedule.

More Info

The changes also mean we can provide more information on the Radio Page, just like this:

Current track: Loading...

An invitation

An invitation to listen to edutalk audio is always open, as I am not responsible for the quality of the content I have no hesitation in saying it is great. I'll be posting more about differnet ways to listen soon.

There is also an invitation to join in and contribute to the site, in several ways:

  • Record and audioboo or ipadio and tag it edutalk.
  • Record audio anyway you like and email it to audio@edutalk.cc
  • Let us know if you are interested in joining in a live show as a guest by emailing edutalkr@hotmail.co.uk or audio@edutalk.cc
  • Let us know if you would like your own live show, we have lots of time in the week.
  • We are open to any other suggestions too.

Fargo: Markdown and HTML Test

Monday 08 July 2013 at 06:32 am

I've been using Fargo for a bit of blogging recently. This is a test of using markdown to format posts.

Fargo is a simple idea outliner, notepad, todo list, project organizer. It's an HTML 5 application, written in JavaScript, runs in any compatible browser, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft IE 10.

A h3 Markdown header

I am hoping that using Fargo to write blogs posts might improve my blog posts by helping me to think about the structure a bit more. I am impressed with how easy it is to move blocks of content around in Fargo.

A html tag H3

I am not sure about Fargo's business plan, here is what they say (html blockquote)

There is no charge to use Fargo. We don't want any limits on the growth because we think outlining is vitally important to the growth of the net as a thinking person's platform. We will eventually offer for-pay services to Fargo users.

I've put a screenshot of the editor in my dropbox to show what this looks like in Fargo.