I’ve been quite interested in finding out how my iPhone could be used in teaching and learning. last week I and my class making GPS MathTracks inspired by the LearningTracks flickr group and Tom, Andrew and David‘s ideas about Art tracks and spelling with a trackstick. I also read Ollie’s post about Geography Fieldwork with the iPhone.

What I did

Yesterday I was going for a walk and tried out a few ideas with the phone. This is not of course the same as using it with a class but gave me some food for thoughts.

The first thing that I did was record the point of the walk with SnailTrail with which is is simple to collect points and mail them out of the phone. these can be put into a kml template to create a kml file that you can view in google earth or upload and show in google maps. The google map example here show that one or two points went astray. It is easy enough to review these in google earth and remove them. (edit example).

I took a series of photos with the iPhone, these were uploaded to flickr today and automatically placed on the map: Glengoyne to Earl’s Seat set on the map this is a pretty straightforward was of getting the photos onto the map. You could also use the flickr description to add text, the note facility etc as well as discuss the pictures with the comments.

Next I took the photos got the location from the Exif data in the files, I used this to create a kml file and combined that with the snail trail. I also added the time taken and an occasional title to the kml file. I am not sure of the best way of doing this, I made a wee supercard project to script most of this.

Which produces this kml file and looks like this in google maps

The project is pretty rough at the moment and I am sure there are applications out there for doing this, but I wanted to learn a little more about kml files. This sort of thing could be a way of displaying findings for a trip or outdoor activity.

I tweeted occasionally while walking, this produces a list of tweets on Twitter Search as I was using twitterific it was easy to add locations and photos to the tweets, I guess the RSS feed could be parsed to show the pictures and locations or mini maps.

I also added a few notes with YouNote, this application lets you take photos, write notes, record audio and even sketch with a finger. Which would cover most of what you would need on a field trip or excursion. Future editions will let you email notes to get them out of the phone. At the moment you can sync or backup your notes via a desktop application. This results in a zip file on your computer, inside are folders for each note containing multi-media material and xml files with descriptions this information includes geo locations. I suppose that a script could be written to combine this media and xml to create a web page/ map / kml file.

I feel younote is approaching what I would like to see in an iPhone application, if it was combined with a blogging facility or export to a webpage with media it would be ideal.

So what I would like to see would be a combination of the thinks I’ve tried that saved and exported in a usable format. I’ve looked at a few of the blogging application but not found one that does what I want yet.

What I want

My idea application would allow the recording and combining of information in many forms, text, photos and audio recording. It would automatically add location and date and time information. These could be published to a blog and geo rss feed, either on the go, or at a later time if connection to the network is poor. It would be match with a desktop publishing application, this would get the data and media from the phone and allow additions, editing and mashing up, it would output in a multitude of formats.

I’d also like some additions to the iPhone itself:

  • Copy and paste
  • A camera that can take close ups: I often take photos of flora, fauna, fungi and bones I’d like to take close ups, it might be worth testing putting a magnifying glass in front trick.
  • Video
  • Temperature recording
  • A compass on the Map application
What I’d use it for

The obvious thing is geography, but I would be more likely to use it for art and maths tracks as mentioned above. It could also be used to record any outing, not one that covers space on a map. I’d love to do a poetry or painting walk, where a class would record reactions to surroundings, typing would probably be limited to haiku(ideal for snapshot poems), but longer ones could be recorded. A class trip to the beach could spark drawing, writing and photos to produce an online gallery.

In the huge number of iPhone apps now available my ideal application may exist, if it does let me know.

sandaig home

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and may be a while before the next. This will be a even more unfocused post than usual. I part the last of activity has been down to being to busy and in some cases frustrated with technology. Network problems have slowed down some of the projects I’ve been working on in school and I’ve spend a fair bit of my NCC time fault reporting.

I have been using a couple of wikis with some success. On our own site I’ve been working with a class one afternoon a week on challenged based learning, the latest Instrument Challenge section of the wiki is nearly finished. This is using pmwiki. I am afraid that the method used to post images and sounds is a little too complex for a class I only see once a week. PmWiki requires the children to name the file rather than just upload it, this has lead to one or two cases of files being over written. Other files have been uploaded with out giving them extensions making them unusable. The attach, go back to page, and add image by typing. is more complex that uploading an image to a blog. My own class have been using a wikispaces wiki and one or two have started adding to their pages from home. We have had quite a few problems in school when wikispaces seems to freeze, I’ve not seen this at home but I text to use the text module rather than the wysiwyg. The freeze also might be caused by network slowdown which is also making both wikis sometime frustrating to use.
I am quite pleased with the possibilities of wikis although my heart is still with blogs. Hopefully next session I’ll have a chance to use wikis again, next time I’ll spend a bit more time getting the children familiar with the use before using then in anger.

I’ve not managed to use Exhibit, which I tested in the holidays, the network does not allow something that is going on there. I think I’ve managed to work around it with a wee kludge but it is not ideal. I do hope to let the children test it in a couple of weeks.


The last week or so I’ve been preparing for our trip to the Netherlands. I’ve set up another blog: Sandaig Netherlands 2008 and A moblog of sorts incase we cannot find a internet connection. Hopefully the children will post audio, video, photos and text to report on the trip and talk to their families. We leave on Sunday morning and return the following friday afternoon.

garden logo
I also hope that my own class, most of whom I am leaving at school will keep up some online activity. maybe update the wiki and blog, but I really want them to keep up the How does our Garden Go photo a day project. They have been doing ell so far, posting a photo of our school garden everyday for a couple of weeks. The idea is to document the changes, both seasonal and ecological and practise and think about taking photos.

There have also been new songs on the Sandaig Jukebox, another episode of Radio Sandaig and some Eco Ninjas posters added to the site in the last couple of weeks, no wonder I’ve not had time to blog.

On Thursday this week I’ll be off to Georgia for a long weekend visit.

Carol Fuller of Sammy McClure, Sr. Middle School is being honored by Woodruff Arts Center in the Woodruff Salutes Georgia Arts in Education Leaders (pdf) scheme for her work with us on the Dream Dragon where her students from Cobb High School wrote a play based on some Sandaig Poems. (among other things).

On Saturday I am going to go to the award ceremony and on the Friday and Monday I am going to visit Sammy McClure, Sr. Middle School. I am hoping to do some collaborative work between my class and the students there. I started a blog, McClure – Sandaig to support this, hopefully it will be an interesting read. We will try to post updates on the pupil activities and I hope to post during the trip so that my class can follow what I am doing. In case of connectivity problems I’ve made a sort of moblog too.

I had quite a lot of fun setting up the blog (and a related one, more of which if it works) and moblog in the early hours of Saturday. The moblog just pulls down photos from flickr, which is the easiest moblog app I’ve found. Of course flickr is blocked in school so the webpage downloads the photos to the Sandaig site if they are not there and shows them from there. I hope to adapt that idea for out forthcoming Dutch trip with primary 7 this May too.

I am also hoping to be able to update the map and use Flashmeeting to have a wee chat with my class at some point during the trip, time difference and holidays allowing. I thought briefly about using seesmic to talk to my class, but am not even sure if we can access it in school and it might open a can of worms. I think there might be a wee podcast too.

Of course this is not so much a plan as a wish list, but I’ll be trying my best to both enjoy meeting Carol for the first time, visiting a school in the USA and getting as much value for my own class as I can.

A while back we got a free LG shine from The LG Shine bloggers relations programme. This was really useful on our recent trip to the Netherlands where we posted photos regularly to the Sandaig’s Netherlands Moblog, we are also starting a wee classroom experement: Sandaig MoBlog which needs some work.



Anyway I’ve entered the Born to Shine Competition to try an win another phone. All we need to is to get more comments on the Born to Shine Competition – blog entry than other entries and we will be on our way to a class set of phones.

You can see the full size full size photo and if you have a minute please pop over to the entry and give us a hand.

We got back from our Netherlands 2007 trip this morning after a rather tiring drive through the night.

I think we made a pretty good fist of blogging the trip and I am beginning to think about what went right and what didn’t work so well with the way we handled the blogging, I might have better thoughts once I’ve had a good night’s sleep.

The main focus of the blog was communication with the parent and it certainly hit that nail on the head. The reaction from the parents and from the children when I read the comments on the buss proved that.

But I am starting to think of other possibilities:

The trip was not really designed for the children to do written work, our timetable is packed and I was relying on volunteers to try posts during the bus journey. This meant not every child was posting and the posts were pretty much the first thing that the bloggers thought of.

It might be possible to build in some whole group reflection time where diaries and blogs would be kept uptodate, but we would not want it to feel like school.

Maybe we could have a blog/pod team organised on a room basis and give them a wee bit of time each day (maybe they could stay up a little later then they would not miss out other things).

An internet connection in the hotel would have been good, I posted shivering in the dusk from the town square with a t-mobile pay as you go wifi one evening, a cosy cafe was better the next night and I am afraid I had to shelter in Macdonalds on a third.

The Netherlands Moblog was a good idea, but unfortunately my kludge to get it working left no facility for comments, this could be a really good tool.

I made the firsts UK post and the last one via a bluetooth mobile, this worked very well and didn’t cost too much. I posted one quick post, one small photo and about 6 words, from the Netherlands and it cost about £4! I’d like to investigate getting a dutch sim for another time.

I lost my MP3 recorder on the first day, but even then it was apparent that the children really need time to think and rehearse even informal podcasts. Again time would need to be made for this if it was to include all the children.

We had another tech disaster when a card in a camera with a load of great pictures and video got corrupt. Very disappointing.

Overall I am quite pleased with how the web 2 aspect of the trip turned out (other aspects were good too) but it is really another scratch in the surface suggesting lots of ways to do it better.

Now all I’ve got to do is read a weeks worth of email I think I’ll leave my fed reader for tomorrow.

Spent the day packing and getting ready to go. My inbox is empty, I uploaded the new episode of Radio Sandaig the Netherlands 2007 blog had a final tweaking and I worked out a fairly horrible kludge to allow the class to publish photos and maybe audio from our phone: Sandaig’s Netherlands Moblog.

Cameras, macbooks, mp3 recorders and other kit has been gathered. I just hope we can find some wifi.

Usually the blogs are posted by the children so this will be a bit different, the children will take photos, video, record some mp3s and type up some notes on the bus, but I think I’ll be the one doing the actual posting unless we can find a very convenient connection (except for the phone stuff). I’d quite like to try to record the trip on google maps but think I’ll leave such cleverness to the children when we get back.

It is a bit weird thinking I may not read a blog or email for a week, it will probably be good for me, but I am not looking forward to my inbox next weekend.

Note our LG Shine sitting on the macbook.

Our network is not really functioning in school at the moment as it is migrated from Mitel to Dell.

Despite this we managed to get some blogging done today. Using bluetooth and a mobile to connect to the internet was surprisingly easy after reading GSM Phone as Mac OS X Modem.

I am now wondering if i can get this to work on our Netherlands 2007 trip. I wonder if I could buy a dutch sim to use on the trip.

As an aside it is a pretty good job to work with folk who smile like this.


This week I have been working with our two primary seven classes in the media room. Trying as usual to do a little too much in the time, I’ve been doing a bit of basic spreadsheet work and some work on mobile phones.
The first day we talked about communications tech the children had in their homes, it was interesting to me that last years primary 6 figure of just over 60% with internet access in their homes had risen to 85% for the primary sevens (47 children). More surprising was figures of 12 out of 47 who had WII and the just released PS3 in their homes.

(aside, I had one of my p6s post to his weblog from a psp last week)

46 out of 47 children had mobile phones of their own and we had some good discussion of the various ways phones could be used. The children were pretty knowledgeable (knew more than me) about various mobile technologies, but I managed to impress them by posting a couple of quick photos to the web site. Quick fingered kids did the text input.

We finished off today by posting a mind map about mobiles to the blog along with an audio file recorded on my mobile and bluetoothed to my mac to be converted to an mp3 (this had to be usb sticked to a networked machine to get onto the network). Done in the last 10 minutes of a lesson in a fairly off the cuff way, I think this has possibilities.

A couple of snags had to be worked around, converting to mp3 from the recorded amr file with iTunes was at the wrong sample rate for playing in flash so we needed to use audacity to get it right (the file played fine as a straightforward link, but mp3s need to be at sample rate multiple of 11,025Hz (e.g: 11KHz, 22KHz, 44KHz).

A couple of points of interest, I needed to get the LAME Audio Encoder 3.97 for intel macs from Thalictrum – Products before I could get Audacity to export mp3s from our new macbook. I’ve now downloaded the Universal Binary Installer for the Lame lib from Lame – KJams Wiki this allows export from quicktime.

For my own satisfaction at lunchtime I repeated the blog post from the macbook using the mobile as a bluetooth modem. So the workflow could be:

  • Record on mobile, bluetooth to mac
  • Convert with quicktime to mp3
  • Upload from macbook to blog using mobile as a modem.

Toys for the boys perhaps, but also a good place to get the children discussing the positive use of mobiles in education and a way to get some immediate blogging done from bus trip dead-time.

Blogged from tm

A while ago I mentioned that I had received a LG Shine phone from the LG Shine blogger relations programme. I’ve started to investigate/play around to see if it can be of use in my teaching.

As someone who doesn’t usually use a mobile phone much I am not in a position to review the phone and compare it to others. I can say it seems pretty straightforward to use for a newbie.

The camera seems to work well except for the lag between clicking the shutter and taking a picture. The picture quality looks ok to me too, here is a random picture of my desk using the macro facility and the unusual flash (the mirror just lights up). I’ve had a few children take photos and they had no problem.

I’ve only tried the video camera briefly and have no complaints. I’ve also used the voice recorder the quality does not sound as good as my iRiver and i guess it would be best for one voice rather than a conversation. The file format is amr, I guess that would be best converted befor sending it to the web.

I listened to the latest Booruch podcast on the way home from work today and it sounded good. Flicking through audio, image and other files is quite easy with the scroll wheel.

It was straightforward to set up bluetooth with a macbook and dell latitude transferring file is simple via this or USB.

Email was again was easy to set up sending and receiving is pretty simple. It is also easy to send an image file via email.

What I am really interested in is using the phone to send stuff to the website/ blogs. I’ve tried a few approaches:

Pivot has a moblog functionality, which I managed to get working last November, but I have completely failed to do so this time arround.

As a workaround it is easy to post photos to Flickr, but that is of limited use as we cannot use flickr in school. I have been experimenting with pulling the images from flickr to the sandaig site: Sandaig MoBlog. One of my class posted a photo easily, you can tell which one is hers because it has got a long description, my texting is not up to it yet. I am not sure if this is a great idea in the long term.

The other thing I’ve been testing (see the last few posts) is BlogMailr a service that provides an email to blog solution. So far I’ve not managed to get this working, the html is a bit mangled. I am not sure why, but I had the same problem posting to wordpress so I don’t think it is a pivot metaWebLog problem.

So as soon as I can I am going to try and let the class loose with the phone, both as a tool to play with and as a way to start discussing the use of mobile phones. I’ve started collecting some links tagged with “mobile” on del.icio.us, if you know of any others let me know (tag them for:troutcolor if you have a moment).

I’d also like to know of any other free mobile to blog solutions out there.