Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I found a new blog today ...

Well my friend Leon told me about one blog and you know what its like ... one blog led to another and I got to reading a blog by an American lady called Barbara Ganley . I have linked here to a talk she gave called 'Change and the Twenty-First Century College Teacher'. It is subtitled ' Deep Learning, Slow Blogging and the tensions of Web 2.0'

I recommend it to you.

The Flickr slide show can be found here.

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Trent University Lunchtime CPD

On May 2nd I was invited to Trent University, Nottingham to talk to a group of educators about podcasting. It was to be part of a series of session that the University has to keep people in teacher education in touch with ideas to support teaching and learning, both of their students and in education as a whole.
The university have two ways of disceminating the information in these sessions. The first is to be there and listen and take part in the debate and the second is to pick it up from the video on the web site.

For those of you with a strong stomach here is the video !

It is awful to watch your own mannerisms - I must remember NOT to clasp my hands like that.

Sorry !

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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Foundation/Infant blogging

Chris Smith of Shambles fame asks if anyone knows of any early years hands on experience in usinf Web 2.0 tools.

I provided these blog/podcasts from USA. One is told from the point of view of a duck nesting in a school playground and one an observation, over time, of some young trout growing in a classroom aquarium.Both demonstrate some interesting ideas.

Ewan points out the work being done at Hartington Infants School in East Lothian.

Has anyone got any other examples please?

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Schome Park

Peter Twining from the OU emailed:

' I thought you might be interested in the story of Schome Park (the schome community island in the Teen Grid) which is told in cartoon form here :

The schome community website ( includes a substantial amount of info about Second Life and the members of the community (which includes students from Schome Park) are very knowledgeable about it and keen to share their expertise. If you are interested in exploring the potential of Second Life with your students then do get in touch -

The schome community also has an island in the Main Grid which we would be happy for folk to use with their students (we would need to coordinate this use!) - and we are currently extending the population and activities on Schome Park (which is depicted in the cartoon) and if you are interested in exploring ways in which you and/or your students might get involved then get in touch.'

So, if you are interested in Second Life applications to education then Peter could be your man !

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Blogging in school

My daily trawl of my 'feeds' brings up a useful blog, from John at the now famed Sandaig Primary School, related to blogging in the classroom.

Well worth the read if you feel that blogging has an important place to play in an educational/school context.

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Sunday, 27 May 2007

Very Strange !!

Using Skype, I saw a friend was online so 'skyped' him with a specific question about life and times. There was no immediate reply so I went off to make some tea. About 30 minutes later I returned to my machine and saw that he had responded with a 'Yes'.

Now this is a short response by any standard so I asked 'why so cryptic?' but there was no reply.

Funny... I thought.

The next day I had a phone call from my friend who asked if I had 'skyped' him the previous evening.

The situation then got really strange. He said that he had been in a plane at the time of the message and no-one else was near his computer.

So there is a 'Skype Bot' about that can send answers all on its own ?

Have you experienced this ? 'Windows Defender' tells me that there is nothing nasty on my system.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Wi-Fi in schools - health risk question

On the early morning news today the BBC chose to highlight a report, which will be shown on Panorama tonight, about concerns over radiation levels from Wi-Fi networks in schools etc.

The question is, is this scaremongering at an institutional level?

Watch Panorama and/or read the article here ... and then make up your own mind.

There is a short video about this here.

And .... by the 5.00 PM ( the time I looked again) the Guardian Online had an article refuting the scientific methodology of the report !

Read it here

Did you watch the programme? What did you think? Was there bias in the reporting?

What about all of the flashing red lights? What message was being sent out by the questioning?

Did they interview a similar amount of people from both sides of the debate?

So what would you say to a headteacher today? ... and what answer would you give to a parent who refused to send a child to school until the Wi-FI was switched off or removed?

To read what the literature says (thanks Ewan!) here.

Becta made the following statement . Read it here.


Net censorship

Around the world States and Countries are taking a controlling hand in what people can and cannot see/find/add to/comment on on the Internet.

'The survey found evidence of filtering in the following countries:
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.'

It is worth, at this time, considering the effect such filtering could have/would have if it was extended on the developing process of e-education.

For the full report read here.

On his blog Ewan McIntosh makes a links with the 'low level' controlling that happens within educational institutions. He argues;

"I'd like to see a continued evolution of thinking regarding blocking and filtering in schools, not with safety but rather with democracy and civil liberties in mind. The safety angle is, for me, on a technocratic tactical level. Where the digital literacy programmes of an organisation are weak the amount of command and control exercised is inversely related. And you know what they say about control; it has an inverse realtionship to trust."


Sunday, 20 May 2007

Bradford ICT Road Show 21st May 2007

On 27th may I will be talking to teachers in Bradford about podcasting and how it fits into the New primary Framework for literacy. The event, at Future House, should pave the way forward for Bradford to get 'blogging'.

The presentation for the event can be found here.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Science Learning Centre - Physical Processes

Around the country there are Science Learning Centres which provide the highest quality Continuing Professional Development for everyone involved in science education, at all levels. With a network of ten Centres across the country access to innovative and inspiring courses is within easy reach of anyone.

On Friday I ran an interesting session entitles 'Using ICT to support and enhance science teaching in KS1 and KS2 - Investigating Physical Processes' for a small group of primary teachers.

It was pleassing to note that participants who had been intoroduced to '' on the previous session automatically save their 'sites' there for future reference.

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Podium Scottish Launch, Stirling, 16th May

Colleagues from many parts of Scotland assembed at the Stirling Management Centre on 16th May to listen to Ewan McIntosh expound his view on the use of Web 2.0 technologies in education. Inspiring stuff it certainly was !

Then I followed it with a demonstration of the Podium software for podcasting.

The session was well received and people went away excited to get started. I met up with one participant the day after who said that she had 'podcasted the night away' !

You can read a full report of the session on the Podium Blog.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Mr Brown's shot at numeracy !

From today's Times Online:

'Plans to give struggling children intensive one-on-one numeracy training in the hope of making British standards comparable to the best in the world will be outlined today by Gordon Brown.'

'Mr Brown will say: “I believe the time is now right fundamentally to review how we teach numeracy and to set out a plan for ensuring that every child is numerate by the time they leave primary school.”'

Read it here.

I think we now need a definition of what numerate is so that we all know what is being talked about.

I wonder where the people to implement this are coming from ?


Scratch - a free online animation and programming tool from MIT

From the BBC News today :

'A free programming tool that allows anyone to create their own animated stories, video games and interactive artworks has been developed.'

Read about it here

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Monday, 14 May 2007

Moves to mix subjects

The TES of 11th May has an interesting article on page 14 where Mike Waters, director of curriculum at QCA, says things related to the primary curriculum that look very much like those that have been said and implemented in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

I quote ' The change could involve the creation of 'umbrella' subjects, combining subjects and more flexible cross-curricular work.'

All begins to sound like the excellent Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate to me.

The real hooray bit is - 'It (the review) will consider ...whether the split between the three core subjects ... and other foundation subjects should continue.'

The wheel turns yet again!


Wednesday, 9 May 2007

The Encyclopedia of Life

A Leap for All Life: World’s Leading Scientists Announce Creation of “Encyclopedia of Life”

This could develop into being one of the foremost natural history resources of our time - Doug Dickinson May 9th 2007

Biodiversity, Science Communities Unite Behind Epic Effort To Promote Biodiversity, Document All 1.8 Million Named Species on Planet

WASHINGTON (May 9, 2007) – Many of the world’s leading scientific institutions today announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life, an unprecedented global effort to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. For the first time in the history of the planet, scientists, students, and citizens will have multi-media access to all known living species, even those that have just been discovered.

The Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, and Biodiversity Heritage Library joined together to initiate the project, bringing together species and software experts from across the world. The Missouri Botanical Garden has become a full partner, and discussions are taking place this week with leaders of the new Atlas of Living Australia. The Encyclopedia today also announced the initial membership of its Institutional Council, which spans the globe, and whose members will play key roles in realizing this immense project. An international advisory board of distinguished individuals will also help guide the Encyclopedia.

The effort is spurred by a $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and will ultimately serve as a global beacon for biodiversity and conservation.

“The Encyclopedia of Life will provide valuable biodiversity and conservation information to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said Dr. James Edwards, currently Executive Secretary of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility who today was officially named Executive Director of the Encyclopedia of Life. “Through collaboration, we all can increase our appreciation of the immense variety of life, the challenges to it, and ways to conserve biodiversity. The Encyclopedia of Life will ultimately make high-quality, well-organized information available on an unprecedented level. Even five years ago, we could not create such a resource, but advances in technology for searching, annotating, and visualizing information now permit us, indeed mandate us to build the Encyclopedia of Life.”

Over the next 10 years, the Encyclopedia of Life will create Internet pages for all 1.8 million species currently named. It will expedite the classification of the millions of species yet to be discovered and catalogued as well. The pages, housed at, will provide written information and, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information on each species. Built on the scientific integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the Encyclopedia will be a moderated wiki-style environment, freely available to all users everywhere.

“The Encyclopedia of Life will be a vital tool for scientists, researchers, and educators across the globe, providing easy access to the latest and best information on all known species,” said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “Technology is allowing science to grasp the immense complexity of life on this planet. Sharing what we know, we can protect Earth's biodiversity and better conserve our natural heritage.”

“For more than 250 years, scientists have catalogued life, and our traditional catalogues have become unwieldy,” said Ralph E. Gomory, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “The Encyclopedia of Life will provide the citizens of the world a ‘macroscope’ of almost unimaginable power to find and create understanding of biodiversity across the globe. It will enable us to map and discover things so numerous or vast they overwhelm our normal vision.”

Scientists began creating individual web pages for species in the 1990s. However, Internet technology needed to mature to allow fast and efficient creation of a comprehensive Encyclopedia. While specific Encyclopedia of Life efforts, including the scanning of key research publications and data, have been underway since January 2006, work has accelerated due to the support provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the recent discussion of the Encyclopedia of Life by renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson at the March 2007 Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference.

One of the world’s foremost scientists and environmentalists, Wilson, professor emeritus at Harvard University, “wished” for the establishment of the Encyclopedia of Life during his TED Conference address. Noting that “our knowledge of biodiversity is so incomplete that we are at risk of losing a great deal of it before it is ever discovered,” Wilson called for a contemporary, dynamic portrait of the living Earth.

“I wish that we will work together to help create the key tool that we need to inspire preservation of Earth’s biodiversity: the Encyclopedia of Life,” Wilson said at TED. “What excites me is that since I first put forward this idea, science has advanced, technology has moved forward. Today, the practicalities of making this encyclopedia real are within reach as never before.”

Ultimately, the Encyclopedia of Life will provide users the opportunity to personalize the learning experience through its “my eol” feature. The site can be made available in all major languages and will connect scientific communities concerned with ants to apples to zebras. As part of its work, the Encyclopedia of Life will collaborate and partner with a wide range of organizations, individuals, and experts to help strengthen the Encyclopedia and its impact on communities throughout the world.

“The solidarity of the U.S. and global communities for the Encyclopedia of Life is tremendously exciting and lifts my confidence that this vast, romantic global effort will succeed,” Edwards said. “We are also encouraged by the declaration in March 2007 by the environment ministers of the G8 nations to foster a global species information system.”

While initial work will emphasize species of animals, plants, and fungi, the design can be extended to encompass microbial life.

To provide depth behind the portal page for each species, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a consortium that holds most of the relevant scientific literature, will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages of the scientific literature that will offer open access to detailed knowledge. In fact, the BHL now has scanning centers operating in London, Boston, and Washington DC, and has scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the Encyclopedia.

“I dream that in a few years wherever a reference to a species occurs on the Internet, there will be a hyperlink to its page in the Encyclopedia of Life,” concluded Edwards.


Monday, 7 May 2007

Dumfries and Galloway visit 14th & 17th May 2007

Wow !! Fame at last ...

Doug Dickinson Roadshows
May 2007
Softease Studio CT Launch News

ICTSU are pleased to confirm that Doug Dickinson, leading educational ICT consultant, will once again come to the region to speak to primary school staff.

Doug’s roadshows have proved hugely successful and popular in D&G over the past two years, with over 200 staff attending. Teachers and classroom assistants have found his practical sessions filled with real classroom ideas to be positively inspiring.

Doug has agreed to run two roadshows to facilitate staff attendance.

These new roadshows will be coupled with the early intimation of the launch of Softease CT, the latest upgrade to our core primary school software. Staff will be able to view some of the new features available.


MONDAY MAY 14th 4.30 – 6.00pm


THURSDAY MAY 17th 4.30 – 6.00pm

Each day catering arrangements will be in place from 4.00pm onwards and so it would be useful to know an approximate number of attendees at each roadshow. Could each school please email Will Clark with an approximate number, and which roadshow will be attended.
Replies please by Wednesday, 9th May.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our roadshows.

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Friday, 4 May 2007

'Shambles' Newsletter

My RSS tells me that the 15th termly "Shambles" Newsletter from The
Education Project Asia is now available online it is designed for International School Communities across S.E.Asia. (but now with a worldwide readership)

If you don't already subscribe then you are really missing something !


Podium launch event, May 16th 2007, Stirling

James Watson of Softease reports:

'Well, it has now been just over two months since Podium’s release. During that time we have seen a huge amount of interest in understanding more about the educational benefits of podcasting.

The majority of teachers and advsors I speak to have heard of the word ‘podcast’ (well, it was word of the year way back even in 2005), but most are still uncertain when asked for a precise definition, how to create or listen to podcasts, or even why podcasting and other social software is so important in aiding children’s learning today.

To help raise further awareness of these issues, therefore, we are delighted to announce our official Podium podcasting launch event for Scottish Council Education Advisors at the Stirling Management Centre on May 16th 2007. We’re delighted to have Ewan McIntosh as a guest speaker to talk about podcasting and the broader themes of ‘Communication and Creativity in the Classroom’.'

Details here

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Thursday, 3 May 2007

Becta Spring 2007 ICT Update

If you want the digest and haven't noticed it elsewhere ... it is here!