Mozilla Webmaker

Webmaker moz

Mozilla Webmaker seems to have improved a lot since I last looked. In Doug Belshaw’s Things I Learned This Week newsletter, recently, he pointed out that thimble now supported JavaScript, I went over to lok and found that the site now lists your productions:
Search – for johnjohnston. I knocked up a couple of quick JavaScript examples: 5Dogs & flipcard, the later being an old one.

OpenShift

OpenShift by Red Hat, this is pretty amazing:

OpenShift Online is Red Hat’s public cloud application development and hosting platform that automates the provisioning, management and scaling of applications so that you can focus on writing the code for your business, startup, or next big idea.

What that means is you can easily and cheaply (first 3 free), set up websites with applications. It is pretty geeky for a teacher but there are plenty of instructions, and they work.

I gave it a quick test last week and managed to get a ‘server’ up and running with etherpad is short order: Etherpad Lite. Not sure what I’ll use that for, but I can delete it and start something else if I get to the max of 3 apps.

Openshif wp map

Slightly more useful, on an email list I am on someone asked how, using iPads, could a set of pupils construct a resource with a map and pins with images, text and video. I though this could be done with
WordPress a plugin and google maps. OpenShift allowed me to test this very quickly:

  1. Set Up a new app
  2. Installed WordPress
  3. Added the MyGeoposition plugin
  4. Added some posts and used the plugin interface to add positions to these posts.
  5. Knocked up a quick google maps page to display the blogs RSS, which now had geo info.
  6. Added that to the blog

Here is the blog and the map.

OpenShift made it practical to turn a bit of simple blue-sky thinking into reality.

I am not suggesting that everyone should dive over to openshift and start playing. You need a slight friendship with the terminal, at least have heard of ssh and git (I’ve used ssh a we bit setting up the piratebox and a raspberryPi, heard of git). If you do, the possibilities for trying things out are wide open.


I want to help empower our learning community to design, hack, build, collaborate, remix, share and explore in all sorts of ways. In essence, I strive to contribute toward building a learning community that is open-source, accessible and inspired by principles of DIY. Is the iPad the best platform for cultivating such an ideal?

from: The Digital Down Low: Some critical questions about iPads and 1-1 learning

Along with some other interesting other ones questioning the idea that ipad 1-2-1 is a good idea.

I do not think that we, in the UK, are yet in a position where there is an overwhelming belief in the iPads as a good thing in the classroom.

I do think that iPads are a good tool for some aspects of collaboration, remixing, sharing and exploring. They are, in my opinion, excellent digital story telling devices.

I wonder how many school with more open devices are doing much in the way of DIY hacking and building. There is a lot of online discussion: eduHacking · linkli.st but I don’t think much penetration into mainstream has happened yet.

I do believe that we are seeing some extraordinary effects in iPad 1-2-1s. Some of this my be the novelty effect, but there seems to be something special by having ubiquitous instant on, easy to access computer power in everyones hands.

It may be that the collaborative and creative environment that 1-2-1 ipad use seems to foster will grow into a desire for the complex making that Matt Montagne wishes to foster. This may lead to interesting apps or a demand for more open devices.

An introduction to Apple’s Hypercard. Guests include Apple Fellow and Hypercard creator Bill Atkinson, Hypercard senior engineer Dan Winkler, author of “The Complete Hypercard Handbook” Danny Goodman, and Robert Stein, Publisher of Voyager Company. Demonstrations include Hypercard 1.0, Complete Car Cost Guide, Focal Point, Laserstacks, and National Galllery of Art. Originally broadcast in 1987.

HyperCard: One of my favourite things.


Technologies for Learning Workshop

Yesterday I attend the Technologies for Learning Workshop which was intended to

form part of the initial exploration work contributing to the potential development of a Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy.

The invite came out of the blue a couple of weeks ago and I was unsure what to expect. As I approached the venue Twitter let me know that I would see quite a few folk from the ScotEdublog world and when I arrived It looked like a TeachMeet crowd. The event was nicely organised by the IFF folk who started off three main segments of the day. The discussion was more wide-ranging than I expected and there was less nitty gritty about the workings and interface of glow than I expected and a good deal more looking at larger questions. Thankfully there was not the expectation that conclusions were made as I left with questions rather than answers.

Fearghal Kelly, Technologies for Learning Strategy, Andrea Reid, Trust « Interim reports and Neil Winton, #ediff « If You Don’t Like Change…, have already blogged some reflections and David Gilmour has posted photos of the whiteboards on flickr Technologies for Learning Strategy Workshop

I am certainly the wrong person to try and give an overview of the day. I usually find myself focusing on trees rather than the woods and this workshop was viewing the forrest.

Tweeting

One of the trees was related to both the workshop and the wider online community. Near the end of the day a lady, whose name I didn’t catch but was someone from the government end rather than an educator, expressed doubts to the value of twitter. During the day a lot of tweeting using the #ediff had gone on. It was suggested that this was rude, to the presenters and of little real value, due to the quality of some of the tweets. Con Morris, CPDScotsman, robustly defended twitter explaining how it saved a stream of links, pass references to other participants and allowed people to join in from a distance. There were a few folk who did join in from afar so I think Con proved his point.

I didn’t tweet much during the day, but one I was struck enough by some thing Pat Kane was talking about to fire out a tweet:

johnjohnston
john johnston

@playethic hacking&play good. Facebook&gaming less so #ediff
Fri Oct 15 11:59:03 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPad captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 14:40:29 +0100

Pat caught my attention by talking about the difference between facebook (“relentless processes of inclusion, exclusion and meritocratic struggle”) and the hacker culture (“subverting technology till it breaks, so that better tech can be built”) which he compared with the difference between gaming and playing. Quotes from Pat Kane’s CalMerc column at Thoughtland.

This caught my attention because I’d been reading Charlie Love’s post: A social network for Education?. I liked this post so much I’d read it 3 times and nearly printed it out to take to the workshop. I’ve had a long standing dislike/distrust of facebook and a preference for a loose network (delicious, flickr, blogs, RSS) and this post started me thinking that I have missed a lot of goodness that could be gathered from a social network for Education. Pat’s points were a interesting take on this.

I am not reaching any conclusion just mulling over, so was surprised by this tweet from Derek:

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

johnjohnston @playethic Please clarify what you mean by gaming not being good. In what educational context is this being framed? #ediff
Fri Oct 15 11:59:03 +0000 2010 from web captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 15:47:40 +0100

given Derek’s role as Guardian of Games Based Learning in Scotland I suppose it was easy for him to reach the conclusion that some games bashing was going on.

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

johnjohnston Yes hopefully. Disconcerting to see such tweets from this event. Clarification would be very helpfu as gbl good in Scottish ed 15 Oct

to which I replied:

johnjohnston
john johnston

@derekrobertson sorry to disconcert. Struck me as interesting pt. Game are subset of play?
Fri Oct 15 14:23:10 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPad captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:27:59 +0100

The conversation then continued through the evening:

theplayethic
pat kane

@ewanmcintosh @johnjohnston @derekrobertson Play‚?Game. Play’s more than contestation/teamwork. It’s mess, mocking, mimicry, free ideation
Fri Oct 15 20:17:56 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPhone captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:30:00 +0100

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

@theplayethic @ewanmcintosh @johnjohnston Agreed but contestation can be with oneself and not with others – a self-improvement agenda.

and again this morning:

fkelly
Fearghal Kelly

The message I took from it [not sure if intended one] was that we need to think carefully about the learning not just the game? #gbldebate
Sat Oct 16 09:47:16 +0000 2010 from web captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:35:07 +0100

And many more.

Interesting (to me) points about twitter:

  • Even experienced tweeters can misunderstand each other/
  • I probably got a better discussion than I intended by my tweet being seen a critical of games (it was not intended to be).
  • Tweets can really stimulate discussion and thought.
  • As the conversation goes on, loses tags and become more distributed it is harder to follow, I stopped getting included in replies and the gag dropped off.

At the meeting yesterday one of the ideas was to challenge all preconceptions, eg does Scotland need an intranet?, will we need classrooms and more. Having Pat Kane speak and Ewan take part provided some vital/interesting disruption. Challenging games based learning or any other type of learning went with the flow of the day. I can see how it might be if you look at it through a games visor. Pat’s idea of play gives us an ideal of learning that we will almost always fall short of.

Some Gaming Thoughts

A lot of games in school is used for drill & practise and there is a place for that, other uses embed gaming in a more complex learning scene (Endless Ocean using the Wii for example). Derek has provided us with lots of examples of all sorts.

The other aspect of gaming that I’ve found more interesting is game making, this might give more opportunity for Pat’s play than playing games. Derek’s consolerium team have been providing a ton of resources for this It could be seen as hacking (in Pat’s positive sense) which I find compelling. In own learning the things I’ve enjoyed most (? most productive) have been amateur attempts at hacking.

An amateur hack

While thinking about this post I realised that I wanted to quote quite a few tweets. Twitter provides a tool to do this: Blackbird Pie – Twitter Media I was under the (wrong) impression that this used iframes (I was wrong) and the live tweet and I wanted static html, so I made my own I also figured out how to make a javascript bookmarklet for the first time.

To my mind spontaneous self directed play is an ideal to keep in the back of our minds while we do a bit of drill & practice and muddle towards CfE.

Thoughts from the day

Important questions raised:

  1. Do we need an intranet/use google apps
  2. Security (a lot of the current came from LAs) can we have a sliding scale. IMO the recent additions to glow are addressing this
  3. How does Scotland organise training/CPD

Questions I though could have done with more coverage:

There was talk of the need for better broadband across Scotland, but I feel hardware is more of a problem. until recently I would have agreed with the general opinion in the room that we will end up using the pupils own devices, but I’ve recently read: Fraser Speirs – Blog – Run What Ya Brung which raises a lot of questions perhaps the most important being: It (the idea of pupils using their own devices) assumes that teachers will be aware of the differences between devices and able and willing to plan around or overcome them. . I’ve seen examples of ‘byo’ working, but wonder if it is scalable in the light of the varying skills of teachers.

There was the assumption that glow 2 would work better than glow 1, I would have liked to discuss how this would be done. not necessarily in nit picking detail (I’ve done a bit of that ) but on how the nit picking would be organised. with glow one there was no mechanism for feedback to be taken into account quickly, or for detailed beta testing. I hope glow 2 will have perpetual beta built in.

Links

I am afraid the above is a bit of a muddle that does not reflect much of Friday. I’d recommend interested folk to read:

and check the #ediff twitter search.

Update 18 Oct 2010

Talking about it isn’t good enough / But quoting from linking to it at least demonstrates / The virtue of an art that knows its mind. // Seamus Heaney : Squarings (edited for post;))

My blogging seems to have hit a all time low. I think this is mainly because I used to blog about my classroom practice (with some iPhone, web tech and the odd AppleScript thrown in). I was never one for educational theory I am afraid. I now don’t have a classroom to practise in and blog about.

My more technical posts have never been popular (judging by comments) and fall between absolute beginner and competent so don’t have that wide an audience;-)

Anyway I am going to start a wee Glow post and see what happens.

Glow 2blogpost

I’ve blogged about glow before but never had the chance to use it in the classroom. Over the last few weeks I’ve watched North Lanarkshire teachers and pupils start to use glow in practise and have been involved in helping with some of the training.

So far I’ve seen glow have a remarkable effect on some teaching and learning in the first schools to get on board. Teachers have been setting work on glow, children posting work and commenting on other pupils work, locally and further afield. Classes have joined and contributed to National groups and in one case I know off a teacher created a national group within about a week of joining glow. There seems to be a real appetite for getting children involved in all sorts of online collaborating.

One of the favourite activities seem to be the use of Marratech video conferencing through Glow Meet. This is a little ironic as North Lanarkshire has run its own Marratech server for several years. Although this has been used for many projects I think there has been a significant increase in video conferencing in the first couple of months of glow.

I am beginning to think that the most important aspect glow is the way that online collaboration and communication receive promotion and support. There is top down encouragement that is being met by great enthusiasm, almost as if folk have been waiting for the tools unaware that they were already available.

Watching folk take their first steps in glow also highlights some problems with glow and perhaps some pointers for Glow 2.

GUI

Glow Password Change

I’ve watch a fair number of people click the cancel button to start all over again by accident. There are a number of similar examples.
The editing of pages in glow is quite a laborious process compared to many web 2 applications there are many examples of slicker interfaces. Compare adding an rss feed to glow and to, say netvibes. Editing information in glow usually seems to involved lots or page reloads and then some scrolling.

Organisation

Groups are hierarchical and difficult to find, interesting groups may be buried inside others. The ability to search group descriptions and the tagging of groups would help this. Some sort of way of filtering and organising groups is needed.
Recently I found a group discussion in glow asking for suggestions for glow 2. I posted a couple of comments but there is very little discussion on the board, perhaps because folk cannot find it?

Data Exchange

One of the strengths of Web 2 applications is the way many of them allow syndication and distribution of data, I can have flickr update in my blog, recent posts from blogs listed in a wiki and so on. At the moment RSS in glow relies on 3rd party scripts or widgets. The is no way, as far as I know, of getting information out of glow in an automatic way. It is hard t ofollow the work of groups you are interested in and no simple ways to share what a group are doing.
Some of this is due to the overriding concern for security but glow does allow for public facing html webpages so the idea of some of glow being open to the public is not beyond the pale.

Wish List

It would be good if Glow 2 was in some way modular, allowing users and groups to add popular and useful open source components, making them private or open to the world. So a group could have a wordpress blog, a phpBB discussion forum, a choice of cms, wikis VLEs etc. etc. Adding the ability for glow to update and add modules would also make Glow a work in progress, in perpetual Beta, rather than a fixed toolset.
I don’t think this is to far fetched, at the moment glow will allow secure access to lots of external content. If this could be expand to give users a choice of the tools it could be wonderful it would help with some of my GUI and data exchange wishes too.

2 Stars & a Wish

We, in Scotland, have an amazing opportunity in Glow which could be even better.

Basic 5 Point Gold Star Beveled The vision of a national collaboration and communication space for education..

Basic 5 Point Gold Star BeveledThe promotion and support of this collaboration and communication..

BubblesWhen the dust settles we have the best tools for the job, and tools that we can swap at will as better ones come along..

I’d be interested to know what other users have on their glow 2 wishlist? Or if you know where the best place to discuss this would be?

Top image http://www.wordle.net/ with this post’s text.

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.

I just spent a few minutes at Sprout Builder which seems to be another way to build widget.

Sprouts are interactive and portable chunks of web content. Some people call them widgets, mashups or mini-sites but we just call them sprouts.

I have not really tested may of these types of service, but it only took me a couple of minutes to build a ScotEduBlogs feed widget.

It looks like you can do a lot more with sprout builder than just pull a feed. some of the examples include audio and slideshows. The sign up made me admit I was over 13 so not something for the classroom, but it might allow you to make something for you classes.

There seems to be a ton of embedding options, click on the share button to see them. You can add to facebook, myspace, iGoogle etc. or get an embed code for a post or webpage.

Feel free to embed ScotEduBlogs on your site, or better make a slicker one for the ScotEdublogs community.

Looking back on this post before I fire it off it seems even more of a mixed bag than usual. As usual fairly garbled, but the first half contains some wonderful links and the second what looks to me to be a great resource.

I spent the first part of yesterday morning (and the last hour or so this morning) following a trail that either started in a tweet from cogdog or a post recent addition to my feed reader.
Tony Hirst’s OUseful Info is a great source of ‘mostly over my head’ mashup info and other stuff, eg: We Ignore RSS at OUr Peril or « feedshow – A Feed Powered Web Page Presentation Tool

To Comrades in Non-Programistan – A Message from Feedistan included a great youtube: DataPortability and Me (Get Your Data Out!) and had me laughing. It also pointed to The Party Line of The Peoples Republic of Non-Programistan which was created (as far as I can see) to support a presentation at the Symposium on Mashups, you an watch the recording of the Welcome to the People?s Republic of Non-Programistan session which features laugh out loud fake Russian accents.

The point of the Non-Programistana is to open up mashups to non-coders, although they will allow some html. They point to Exhibit and give interesting examples: Industrial Warfare – Version 4.

This lead me to Exhibit part of MITs SIMILE Project:

SIMILE is focused on developing robust, open source tools that empower users to access, manage, visualize and reuse digital assets.

Exhibit can be used to

Create interactive data-rich web pages

and there are some great examples that can be popped from the Exhibit homepage.

I have been talking to some Glasgow colleagues about filling the 5-14 database gap that has appeared when we got upgraded to windows xp. I had suggested a few online examples that children could use for querying databases and Zoho Create for creating databases. While the querying examples went down well, Zoho seemed too imageless for catching primary children’s imagination. It also look a little like a spreadsheet for some teachers. likewise lazybase.

Exhibit looked like it might fill this gap, so I’ve spent the rest of yesterday morning playing with it. The Getting Started tutorial is very straightforward and will allow you to work through an example on your own desktop. I started with an idea from our own curriculum, information about the EU. The idea is that the children could research basic facts about the EU and add them to a google spreadsheet. With the number of countries in the EU a fair sized class could get one country each.
Exhibit allows you to build a simple html page which will read the spreadsheet webpage and create an interactive database. Amazingly it allows multiple views including a nice timeline and table views. One of the Exhibit examples incorporated famfamfam.com flag icons, interestingly these are name with ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes, I could add a column to the spread sheet and include these, it was the easy to show the flag on the records:

I have been playing with Google chart maps, which use the same iso code so it was simple enough to add these.
Anyway in a couple of hours i was able to put together a google spreadsheet and a Exhibit Test. The latter will need more work, but you can get the idea. I think this will work in class and hope to try it out next term. I need to know a bit more about logging on multiple uses with the same ip address to a spreadsheet, but I hope to quiz Tom Barrett about that. I also need to find out a bit more about creating forms for google speadsheets.

The workflow would go like this:

  1. I’d start a spreadsheet with the correct column headers
  2. Put together a webpage to pull the data via exhibit.
  3. The children would research the required info (wikipedia)
  4. the children would add the info to the spreadsheet, directly or via a form
  5. The children would query the webpage to compare EU countries.

At the moment this would only work as a one off, a webpage would have to be created for each time the lesson was carried out for a class. A quick look at the Google Spreadsheets Data API would suggest you could create a spreadsheet automatically, by uploading a blank this could then be loaded by a hph version of the Exhibit Test page which would dynamically load different spreadsheets (with the same headers). Unfortunately this would violate the Party Line of The Peoples Republic of Non-Programistan, and more realistically be beyond my limited skills.

As I just wrote at the start of this post, it is a bit of a rag bag, but it tells the tale of my Sunday morning’s fun, following a web of links and playing with a great tool. In the afternoon I went for a walk

EdTechRoundup is a new podcast from an open group of UK educators which I have become involved in.

EdTechRoundup is a place where a group of UK-based educators come together for discussion and collaboration around the use of technology in education. We believe in pedagogically-sound uses of educational technology, but don?t believe in ramming Web 2.0 (or anything else for that matter) down people?s throats?

The first podcast is out. This one sees David Noble and Sinclair Mackenzie at the controls with input from Joe Dale.

They discuss tools for the classroom including ClassTools.net: Flash Templates for Educators and the problems of online content being blocked in schools. Joe Dale provides his top 5 reasons to use blogs in class or school.

The dual presenter with input from a guest is going to be the pattern for the show with a different set of presenters taking over for each show. A fair number of UK educators are involved (see the edtechroundup » Contact Details page) and the podcast is open to anyone to join in. In good social media fashion the podcast has been organised on a wiki and a series of FlashMeetings. The Meetings are announced on the wiki so it is easy to join in.

Apart for planning the podcast the meetings have been good fun and a lot of interesting areas of tech and social media discussed. If the first show and these discussions are anything to go by EdTechRoundup should be a good feed to add to iTunes or other podcatcher.

Tom Barrett and myself will be hosting the next podcast which should be out in a couple of weeks.

Blogged from tm


ImageWell
Originally uploaded by troutcolor

I just noticed and downloaded a mnew version of ImageWell which looks like giving Skitch a run for its money.
ImageWell is free with paid extras, I’ve only tried the free version, you could use it for quick editing and upload of photos (dotmac, flickr, webdav, ftp, sftp ImageShack and smugmug supported) but it is the annotation tools that look really good to me.
Text, bubbles and shapes can all be added and all support colour and drop shadows. skitch has drop shadow text but ImageWell can drop shadows on the bubbles and lines, Skitch’s arrows look good but Imagewell’s are bezier curves.
I could also paste another image onto the first one (the imagewell image on my imagewell pic).
The ImageWell Xtras cost $14.95 and adds batch processing and upload and a pile of extra shapes.