Listened Read Write Microcast #008 – Limits of Automation by Aaron DavisAaron Davis from collect.readwriterespond.com
Confident – the connecting of the dots and capitalising on different possibilities. Essential Elements of Digital Literacies In this microcast, I reflect on automating technology and wonder if there is a limit to how far we should go. Further reading: When Automation Goes Awry https://col...

The dilemma in supporting schools in using technology: Give out fish or teach to fish. Before I came back to school I was faced with this problem more than once.

What I would say now, in hindsight, is that if you make the solution yourself it adds risk. I thoroughly enjoy making simple scripts and workflows, but these are generally fragile. You might end up with more long term support than you thought, or worse raising and dashing expectations.

In my part-time life I am still supporting Glow Blogs. Quite often it would be easier to fix something in response to a request for help. More often now I try to write instructions instead. I can add these to the help and point the next problem a those.

I need to get back to microcasting. I enjoyed listen to this on my commute. The focus on one subject in the short form podcast is valuable.

In early October my school had a visit from Google Expeditions. I’d been contacted to see if I would be interested and jumped at the chance.

Google Expeditions are a 3D VR ‘experience’ using google cardboard. I’d tried a few mobile apps using cardboard before but not in a classroom setting.

The plan was we would choose Expeditions that would fit into our learning.

On the day Kostas from Google turned up in Banton having traveled on public transport with the whole kit in a backpack. This consisted of one tablet, one router, a set of android phones with a google cardboard for each phone.

Expeditions are a set of several 3D VR ‘images’ that can be looked around. The images are broadcast from the tablet ( or a phone) to other devices on the local network. The Tablet is handled by the ‘leader’ the phones by the ‘explorers’. The leader controls which image/space the explorers see. The leader’s non-3D view includes some notes and discussion points.

table leader view

The devices need to be connected to the same network but they do not need to be online. The scenes are ‘served’ from the tablet. The tablet does need to be online at some point to download the scenes in preparation.

When in a space the explorers can look around by turning their heads or bodies. Moving forward and backwards has no effect.

The leader cannot control where the explores look in a scene but double tapping will show the explorers an arrow pointing to the object tapped (we saw that explorers would always follow these arrows).

We had chosen a couple of Expeditions that would fit with out learning, but did have the chance to explore quite a few.

in the box

The pupils were very engaged immediately, the images are surprisingly ‘hyper real’ and the experience of turning round or just moving your head was delightful.

We collated some pupil responses on the class blog: Around the World in a Cardboard Box.

I’d chosen the spaces we looked at at fairly short notice, one did not really fit with my expectations the other was linked to a topic we had not then started. So for the point of view of linking into the learning and teaching I hadn’t planed well enough. From the point of view of exploring potential new technology and giving the pupils a glimpse of the near future.

I’d also feel that the resources might be a bit more valuable after the initial excitement had died down and the pupils used the system more than once.

So how would we use this past an exciting but brief test. Although the kit is relative inexpensive a class set would still be an major resource for even a large school.

I suppose it could be a share resource for a group of schools or local authority.

I wonder too if it could be used on a smaller scale, with less devices. At the end of last month I was talking to Will Tuft on Radio #EDutalk about ‘The immersive classroom’, this involves setting up classroom experiences, for example the aftermath of a hurricane, with props and tasks. I wonder could the cardboard be part of some such class. For example a group of ‘divers’ could take it in turns to put on the googles and explore the sea.

It could also just be used by a few children as a time.

I wonder if as well as the obvious exploration angle if it would be a rich resource for writing.

All in all an interesting experience, it will be interesting to see how this type of technology develops.

At the weekend during pedagoo muckle there was a mini TeachMeet. Everyones name was in a bowel and there was a series of random 2 minute talks. I though I was prepared with this tip. In the event I was quite glad I didn’t get picked all the people who got picked had two minutes of great ideas, as opposed to a wee tip.

I did mention it to one or two folk at my conversation and it was well received so I though it would be work posting.

One of the minor hassles I’ve been having with Glow and iPads is multiple logons. Some of the MS apps seem to get themselves in a state of confusion, requiring pupils to log on frequently, and more than once. This is a particular pain if you work in Word, save to Onedrive and then upload that file through the browser. I’d like this to be a thoughtless and painless process for my class but it is not. This is compounded by the fact you need to put a glow email address into an MicroSoft iPad app, this them loads the RM Unify logon where you need to use your glow username and password. Given you can use your glow email in place of your username this make the tip even more useful.

iOS has a text replacement function. You can type a shortcut and the predictive text will offer the expansion to insert.

You set these up in the Setting App, General-> Keyboard- Text Replacement, the phrase would be your glow email, the shortcut something memorable, not part of a real word. We used gw and initials, so mine is gwjj.

Here is a gif showing how much easier it it to log on with a shortcut.

shortcut-gwjj

As a bonus, some of the pupils in my class added other shortcuts, for example d: for define: which hlps find the meaning of words in google.

it is seldom about technology designers’ a priori plans for a technology, and more about users’ unexpected practices with it. That, to me, is the most fascinating and useful basis of research inquiry.

via Brief statement on ‘Digital Wisdom’ | Ibrars space.

I love ‘unexpected practices’ it is why we need flexible technology in Learning and Teaching.

My favourite use for word when I was teaching primary 6 was as a poor man’s vector editor, Sandaig Otters » Seeing Stars, and I’ve often been surprised by how pupils and teachers bend unsuitable software to their needs.

On Thursday I visited Cardinal Newman secondary again. Eileen Mallaghan PT computing introduced me to English teacher Patrick Mooney who is working with iMovie.

I was luckily enough to be able to visit two classes, one year one and one year two, and talk to Patrick and the pupils. Both classes were working on speech but it quickly became obvious that there was a lot more involved. The pupils task was to do a bit of research on a individual and talked about them. Patrick explained that the project had allowed pupils who had difficulty in staying focused during English lessons to become much more involved with their learning and motivated them to finish the work. In between the research and the ‘talk’ there was a pile of writing, co-operative working, ict, assessment (for learning) and the production of a movie for final assessment.

Patrick and the pupils explained the workflow. Starting with research, online and in the library the pupils gathered facts and images about an individual they were interested in. There was an impressive range of characters, Ann Frank, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, DJs, footballers and pop stars. Although the pupils worked on their research and writing individually they then worked in groups to film and record the talk and then work in iMovie to remove the video and add images to their movies. Just watching the pupils it was obvious how engaged with their work and their partners they were, eyes on screen, fingers pointing and a hum of quite conversation. When I spoke to the pupils they were all enthusiastic about working in this way and could identify many of the things that they were learning, most mentioned helping each other and being helped and the benefits of working in groups. Many appreciated the difference between talking to camera and talking to a whole class. Patrick was very clear on the improved motivation and discipline in the classes. He is cascading the practice to other classes in the department. The pupils were already talking about using iMovie for another project. At the end of one session we watch some of the finished movies, the children were all attentive and appreciative of each others movies. Apart from the ease with which the children were handling the software there was a nice atmosphere in both classes all the pupils seemed to be focused.

Patrick made the point that iMovie was perfect for this sort of work, he had used windows and moviemaker before but felt it was not as suited to the task as iMovie. Previously a pc user he is now converted to mac. The children were obviously at ease with both platforms, the classroom had a trolly of pc laptops, 4 mac minis and a few macbooks in evidence.

In the past Patrick has managed the project with one mac and was in no doubt of the practicality of the project with only one computer. It was great to see ict embedded in learning in a way that felt natural, the pupils found the ict element exciting but had been introduced to it in a way that the tech did not get in the way of the teach and I look forward to hearing more about Cardinal Newman’s use of ict in there classrooms.

These are the slides I used at TeachMeetPerth Last week. You can see the images on a flickr set. The VoiceThread above is a work in progress, I’ll probably re record the audio with a quieter computer and a script.

I first got the idea for OpensourceCPD from teachmeet at the Scottish Learning Festival in 2007. Ollie Bray is widely quoted as saying that teachMeet was his best CPD experience. This had me thinking about Teachers as providers of CPD I also talked to Con Morris of LTS’s CPD Scotland team, he mentioned that reading my blog could be a cpd opportunity for someone!

My favourite learning experiences at conferences and inset have always been the ones presented by teachers. I include in this the more informal teachmeets and the social continuation in the pub or restaurant afterwards.

I’ve also been aware of the open source movement as a great deal of the software I use day to day is open source software, this blog, firefox, Vienna and many more. this got me wondering if this might be a useful model for distribution of cpd material by teachers, material that is not locked into a Local Authority, business or agency. Teachers as providers and consumers. The CPD material would be freely available and could be used by individuals or presented by a provide, the teachers supplying the material on the wiki could be providers/consultants. Of course because the material is freely available it can be supplied as CPD by anyone.

So the idea came together based on a casual reading of the Open Source Definition

  1. Free Redistribution: the software cpd materials can be freely given away or sold. (This was intended to expand sharing and use of the software on a legal basis.)
  2. Source Code: the source code must either be included or freely obtainable. (Without source code, making changes or modifications can be impossible.) this might be a little more difficult, hopefully it will not mean that folk would be put off uploading a pdf which is hard to edit, but more the spirit that material shared here is for mashing up.
  3. Derived Works: redistribution of modifications must be allowed. (To allow legal sharing and to permit new features or repairs.)

The Open Source Definition has a lot more, but you get the idea. This project will probably follow the Open Content model more closely:

Technically, it is royalty free, share alike and may or may not allow commercial redistribution. Content can be either in the public domain or under an open license like one of the Creative Commons licenses.

but at this time I thought that Open Source CPD was a snappy title

So I have started a wiki OpenSourceCPD to support this idea. I hope it is going to be connected to CPDFind in some way. At the moment the site is sitting on a temporary server and I probably will not get a lot of work done until the spring break. Several scottish educational bloggers have added Profiles and there seem to be a far bit of approval at TeachMeetPerth.

The focus to start with will be Social Media or Web 2.0 in teaching and learning.

Nothing is set in stone (it is a wiki) but I’ve begun three main sections:

  • CPD Materials A basic outline of various social media tools that can be used in teaching.
  • Cpd Opportunities CPD courses for self study or to be used as a skeleton for leading cpd.
  • Profiles A list of practitioners that could lead such cpd (this could be on a paid or free, online or face2face basis).

If this idea appeals please get in touch, if you want a password to edit the wiki leave a comment or send me a mail.
If you have some material you want hosted on the wiki but have not the time or inclination to edit it get in touch and I’ll be happy to post it for you.

So have a look at OpenSourceCPD.

Swict Tagline

I’ve been reading some of the wordpress course over at swict.com :||: the place for help when you’re Stuck With ICT. Swict is a project by Andrew Brown.

Swict Menu

If you want to get started blogging with wordpress this is a great place to start, especially if you are a busy teacher. All of the 18 lessons are available as pdf files and Adobe Captivate videos. The videos are between 40 seconds ans 3 minutes each, bite size for easy consumption!
Andrew has a great voice for listening too and the tutorials could not be clearer or easier to follow. As well as wordpress the growing collection covers Adobe Captivate 2 (Andrew eats his own dogfood), PowerPoint and Macromedia Breeze Presenter 5 Course all in the same style.

Blogged from tm

Scratchscreen

I run a couple of after school clubs at Sandaig, today was the primary 7 computer club. The number are limited to 12 so that we don’t have to worry about resources and help. I usually have a lovely time. The primary sevens are working on Scratch. After one of the children’s nice flash movies produced last session I was tempted to stick with Flash, but Scratch is getting a lot of coverage so I though I’d try it.

We started exploring the scratch files on the projects page and watching one of the Scratch Videos. The next week the children worked through the Getting Started pdf. We missed the week after as I was at the Scottish Learning Festival and this week the children started on the Scratch cards. They are beginning to get comfortable with the interface and are having a ton of fun. It is lovely watching them find things out for themselves, some quickly found the record sound facility and gales of laughter echoed round the school. Some children quickly wanted to leave the introductory cards and explore ideas for themselves. Quite often these ideas seem pretty advanced and are leading up blind avenues but usually making interesting discoveries along the way. The children worked in pairs and sometimes one group has a solution the others need. I’ve not really explored scratch at all by myself, the children know this which hopefully will give them s sense of pride. I do have enough basic programming concepts to be able to give some help.
I a not sure if the children will be able to progress to the levels of some Scratchers (see for example munkeeb’s Stuff) in the time available, but I am sure they will have fun. I wonder how they would get on if they had an hour or two a day working with this stuff for a couple of weeks, could that work with the curriculum for excellence?