Friday, 14 November 2008

Sometimes simple certainly is best - Vocaroo

Twitter and Twirl are wonderful. This morning StripeySteve picked up a Twitter from Tom Barrett and I followed it up .... to discover Vacaroo. If you are a blogger or a web page writer or just someone who wants to send a voice message quickly and simple with no messing then Vocaroo could well be the Web 2.0 application for you.

Listen to my first attempt .... here

Here is what they say about themselves:

Vocaroo is a shiny new service for sending voice messages across the interwebs. It's still under development though, so problems may occur.

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Friday, 31 October 2008

K12 Online

The K12 Online Conference is now into Day 9 and there have been floods and floods of great presentations .. enough food for thought for a long time to come I feel sure.

One of the presentations that caught my eye and ear was by Wendy Drexler St. Petersburg, Florida, USA (Blog: who was talking about 'Teaching Web 2.0' .

Now it had never occurred to me that I would want to teach such a thing and I was interested in her take on it. The wiki site she has set up could prove to be really useful for those who want to get started or see the point of using powerful Web 2.0 applications in their teaching.

I was particularly interested in the SWOT analysis of the use of the applications and this aimed at a personal analysis of the opportunity costs in developing expertise in their various uses.

If nothing else (and I feel there certainly is much else) the list on the wiki of Web 2.0 apps that people have used within an educational context is worth a long, long look.

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

MFL in the Isle of Wight

25/26 October saw the third MFL Conference on the Isle of Wight hosted by Joe Dale and his very, very organised wife, Heather. Experts and those that simply wanted to know gathered to work and enjoy two days of looking at how ICT can support and enhance the teaching of MFL in all schools. The range of expertise on show was evident in the excitement as people moved from presentation to presentation but for me the essence of it all was in the asides and the help freely offered on the finer points of 'How did you do that?'

The 'Show and Tell' on Saturday evening opened up even more short, sharp ideas and personal teaching experiences and I feel that the ethos of the event was well met here.

Talking to Paul Harrington in between times got us both to thinking about names and labels and the fact that we didn't like them and that often they were a barrier to people actually doing things. So we decided that the real answer to the question 'What does it do?' or 'What do you do?' is 'Stuff' ... 'We do stuff' or 'It does stuff'. As long as you don't define stuff you are not restricted to any name or code or preconception. Stuff is what it is and it is what we do. And we do it on and with anything that seems to be appropriate at the time or is within reach (in all of the possible aspects of this)

These were the speakers (who did stuff):

Julie Adoch, HoD in MFL, Heathfield Foundation Technology College and her pupils
Sharon Balch - French teacher, Swanmore Middle School
Nathalie Bonneau, LCF (UK) Ltd
Drew Buddie - ICT coordinator, Royal Masonic School for Girls and eTwinning ambassador
Joe Dale, leader of French, Nodehill Middle School, SSAT languages lead practitioner and eTwinning ambassador
Doug Dickinson - Independent ICT consultant
Chris Fuller - Spanish teacher, Edgehill College and SSAT languages lead practitioner
Andrew Goff, ConnectED
Jenny Gowin, Heinemann
Lesley Haggar-Vaughan, Shireland CLC manager
Kathleen Holton - HoD in MFL, Argoed High School
Nick Mair - HoD in MFL, Dulwich College
Carole Nicoll – The Language Factory and winner of the CILT European Award for Languages 2003
Mark Pentleton - Director and Creator of the Radio Lingua Network and winner of the CILT European Award for Languages 2007
Jo Rhys-Jones - Primary Language Consultant for Hampshire, AST in MFL and eTwinning ambassador
Lisa Stevens - Spanish Teacher, Whitehouse Common Primary School and runner up of eTwinning award 2007,
Adam Sutcliffe - MFL teacher, The Gordon Schools and Glow Champion
John Warwick - Deputy Head, St Luke's School and eTwinning ambassador
Lesley Welsh – AST in MFL, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College and SSAT languages lead practitioner coordinator
Kathy Wicksteed - Subject Lead for languages for DCSF/ALL subject specific support for the new secondary curriculum
Steve Whittle, Sanako, Deputy Head and MFL teacher, Hayes School

Keep your eye on Joe's blog for the conference report.

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Monday, 13 October 2008

K12 Online Conference 2008

Its Pre Conference week on K12 and I find setting the scene is my good friend Stephen Heppell who is talking about, “It Simply Isn’t the 20th Century Any More Is It?: So Why Would We Teach as Though It Was?”

Stephen says of his presentation:

We are in the throes of a financial crisis unparalleled on our lifetimes, and at the same time in front running 21st century schools around the world learning is seeing a transformation that seemed unthinkable in the dark days of 20th century factory schools.

As we move to a new tomorrow built on mutuality, collegiality, communication, community and ingenuity can we learn anything from the colossally expensive financial collapse of Wall Street, the City of London and many of the world’s financial centres.

In three sections, and in a conversational, intimate style, Stephen examines the certainties that stare us in the face from past learning projects that clearly mapped a new world of 21st century learning; he reflects on the impact on technology on the world around us, including the financial world, and ponders on what this means for education, for learning, and for the necessary pace of change as we experience the death of education and the dawn of learning.

This is a presentation not to be missed by this, one of the most influential educationalists of the moment.


The K12 Conference has grown into being one of the most watched/listened to educational conferences on the planet. It is an amazing organisation which attracts the very best of speakers and thinkers to assist in plotting the pathways forward in 21C education. This is what they say for themselves:

The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is “Amplifying Possibilities”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

This is truly an event not to be missed.

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Saturday, 11 October 2008

Keeping up

I miss Ewan's blogging in the widest sense now that he has moved on to 4iP but today I read with pleasure his take on Stephen Heppell's Phone Blog post 'relative progress'.

As I ponder on my connections with people about the concepts and ideas behind 'Shift Happens' I get the sense that the moving walkway annalogy is close to the truth. It would be an intereting thing to begin to try to classify some of the views I hear using this as a guide.

As Ewan comments, Stephen certainly has the 'eye'.


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

iPod Blazer

Back from sunniest France now to catch a read of the M & S inspiration for their 'back-to-school' range a blazer with a special pocket for an iPod.

In typical form the NASUWT have come out in high dudgeon:

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates dismissed the whole idea as 'an error of judgement' and entirely unnecessary.

'Teachers are already battling against the misuse of such technology in classrooms,' she said.

'Pupils nowadays come to school equipped with mobile phones, MP3 players, and portable games consoles when teachers would like them to just bring a pen.'

The gadgets not only distract the users and those around them, but thefts and breakages put extra burdens on staff, she added.

It will be interesting to see how inspirational teachers treat this ... as a threat or an opportunity. It will also be interesting to keep an eye on M & S's bottom line to see how sales go.

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Saturday, 12 July 2008

So how might schools survive?

Yesterday Will Richardson interviewed Clay Shirky author of 'Here Comes Everybody'. You can catch the UStream of the interview here:


One of the clear questions for me that Will asks is about the geographical nature of education and how technology has changed all of that and at the same time speeded up the process. On top of this Clay talks about organising without organisation ... students taking control of their learning, maybe as a subset of institutionalised learning. He goes on to say that he feels that schools as physical environments in which students from a locality study simply has to change.

Clay spends some time on the idea that we use much of our time learning time collaborating with questions and answers in a variety of groups and yet our assessment systems are based on individual abilities in contrived situations.

Clay comments that we want children/students to be able to figure out which tools they need to use in which situation. And these tools are changing tools. Much of what we want schools to do for out children can't be measured in our current ways.

Will asks Clay if students are just simply going to move out and do their own thing and as I have often said he makes the point that it is already beginning to happen.

Clay redefines the concept of 'digital divide' - he feels that it is not about access but about the socio/political imperative to use the technology to do things which you have not done before. This is a 'peer'/home/institution view idea and not to do with what kit/band width etc that is available.

Interestingly, on the day Apple launched its 3G iphone, Clay doesn't see that the phone is an ' ideal educational tool'. I think he might be missing something here ! Will seems to see that the phone might be a really useful tool but there are problems of 'bad behaviour' with the devices. My view here is that the publicity of the bad behaviour might be the thing that fuels it.

Unfortunately, for me, when asked the question about institutional change, he 'rights off' the early years saying that education there is not likely to change ... I do hope he is wrong ! There is reinforcement here for the idea that we need a system to evaluate collaborative work because it is this that will be really important.

When asked what would happen if there was no institutional education Clay feels that groups would organise themselves to provide it. If this would be the case it would be interesting to see whether it would be on a pre-existing model or if something new would arise ... Phoenix perhaps.

I may well have given my spin to what was said in the interview so it would be better to listen and see what you think.

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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Things I ought to have said

Friends, acquaintances, colleagues and some enemies are often telling me to get real. I feel passionately that the direction of education has taken a turn for the worse and that the socio-political invective that drives what happens is not good. In fact I feel that it is inherently bad. Bad for institutions but most of all bad for a generation growing up to things that we cannot yet imagine. Their jobs for life have not yet been conceived and their patterns of life have not been identified. We perpetuate what we perpetuate, with eyes down and a belief in the present and the past. But with a look at the future through past eyes.

John Connell
in his blog today has expressed what I feel much more succinctly than I can and I yearn for the coming to pass Learning 2.0 so that we can step beyond it. Change by steady drip does not work ... we have been there and know that the 'old guard' keeps the status intact.

I do hope that this time next year we won't be revisiting this but will, in fact, have moved on.

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Wordle version of 'Harnessing Technology: Next Generation Learning 2008-14'

Brilliant idea from Ian Usher ... using Wordle as a way of 'understanding' the new Technology Strategy ... thanks Ian.

Enables you to pick out the key words ... am a bit worried about the prominence of the word 'will'.


Monday, 30 June 2008

Defining the edublogger

What is the definition of an edublogger?

An international all-day "meetup" of educational bloggers and those using collaborative technologies will take place on Saturday, June 28th, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio just before the start of NECC. All are invited--whether you yourself blog, are just an educational blog reader, or even just want to hang out with an interesting group of people. The event is free, and you can indicate that you are coming (and see who else will be there) here at the Edubloggercon wiki. This event is based on the idea of an "unconference", and is being organized by the participants in real time here on the wiki. It's maybe better referred to as a "collaborative conference." Through the generosity of ISTE, we have access all that day to rooms at the Convention Center and there will be free wi-fi: beyond that is up to you. So come and help us plan a fun and stimulating experience. It should be great!

Minds meeting minds ... it will be great to trawl the participant's' blogs for outcomes and patch those in to the editorial statement of Annika Small (ex Futurelab CE) where she asks: 'What have you changed your mind about and why?'

You can get a flavour of the event by watching the video. Ewan was there !!

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World Web 2.0 Educational Projects

Terry Freedman has collated a number of educational projects that use Web 2.0 technologies and has produced a booklet outlining these. It can be downloaded freely from here.

Also on this download page is the highly acclaimed 'Coming of Age V1' ... more than well worth a read.

This is what Terry says about the Web 2.0 Projects booklet:

The purpose of this booklet is to give you some practical ideas about the kinds of things you can do with Web 2.0 technology. Please note: this was not intended to be a compilation of projects using cutting edge applications. I simply invited teachers to share what they have been doing.
In many cases the projects were in their infancy. Also, almost all projects will need following up in some way. For example, what were the longer term benefits, or what exactly was meant by “amazing results”?
All the descriptions have been provided by the teachers themselves. I received quite a few submissions, via an online survey, but only a relative handful have been included here, for a variety of reasons:

•Some people asked for their projects not to be made public. I have respected that wish.
•Some projects were not viewable by the public. I have actually included some of these where the description was detailed enough to give the reader an idea of what was going on; otherwise, I couldn’t see the point.
•I have not used submissions where there were very few details and no website to check out.
•I have omitted repeated descriptions of similar projects, but have included the URLs referred to.

As you will see, I have arranged the projects according to the age range they address. However, I do think it may be worth your while looking through all of them. I, for example, found several ideas for podcasting in primary (elementary) schools from the projects listed in the higher age groups.
I hope you find the booklet useful, and I should be extremely grateful for any feedback you would like to give me.

Thank you.

Terry Freedman

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Friday, 6 June 2008

Bored with your search engine? Try searchcube!

Are you fed up with just searching and looking or whatever it is you do to search the web for your answers. My friend Richard Cunningham has passed to me this gem of a creative way to search ... he explains -

... example of some of the things you can do with Sandy and thought it was very interesting, showing the possibilities of what can be achieved!
Its a search engine using Google AJAX search API's that previews the return search results in a cube using flex and the 3D engine Sandy!

I have no idea what he means but then I don't know how my computer works and I only put petrol in my car. What I do know is that this looks fun so go and have a look at searchcube.

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Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Dipity is a lovely new little tool to share timelines. Well worth a look. You can view your timeline as a line, a flip book or a list ... it takes images as well as videos.

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Sunday, 25 May 2008

Onwards and upwards or just onwards ...?

Brian Smith emailed round the Naace advisory group earlier today after he had been experimenting with Twitter and had commented on all the new things he had discovered.

Looking down the email I came across the URL to a YouTube video that he posted in Feb 2008 about how culture fails to keep up with technology and how early adoption is pretty well always about replication. In terms of the video we have now, in some way, invented the 'rivets and welds' of Web 2.0 but in doing so have opened up a great number of other avenues as to what can now be done ... and this is beginning to stretch the rules that have always applied to publication.

Harry Lessig in his TED talk How creativity is being strangled by the law begins to address this issue. But it is a similar issue to the one concerning the job market for your people. In the next decade many will be doing jobs that don't exist yet ... we and they will need to adapt to the changes as they com along ... not simply try to replicate solutions as we always did.

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Thursday, 22 May 2008

Don't say I didn't tell you ... is it a book or is it a ???

Another bus has just come round the corner and it could be awesome if it arrives at the bus stop ...

It is the OLPC 2.0: A Striking eBook and a Step In the Right Direction read the blurb or be amazed and watch the video ...

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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The good, the bad and the ****

The title was just to catch attention ... I am reporting here on the excellent and the, frankly, stupid ...

The excellent first. I have been following the 'Cool Cat Blog' for some time now and am often amazed by the insightful nature of the comments there on students' work. A particular statement caught my eye today reported from the Horizon Project 2008:

"A teacher should, as Don Tapscott said, no longer be a transmitter of information, but a regulator of educational settings. Our teacher Mrs. Vicki could stand in from of the class room all day and lecture us on exactly what to do and how to do it. We would ace tests and learn a lot . . . for a while… However by next year about 65% of what we learned will be irrelevant due to technology changes and development. Instead, she gives us projects to complete that pose challenges to us that can repeat themselves. Such as giving us a project to make a video by using a program we are unfamiliar with. Though we may not ever make another video, it is inevitable that we face the challenge of having to use an unfamiliar program, ergo, we will be prepared to deal with this for the rest of our lives.

So in conclusion, the role of a teacher is now: to regulate the educational environment; to introduce students to the realm of ambiguities; and to no longer evaluate our overall knowledge, but our constructive, creative, and adaptive capabilities."

I just love the last paragraph. If this teacher has taught her students this then my optimism for the future is reset ! The idea of teachers introducing students to a realm of ambiguities is awesome and I want to hear more about it.

...... and now the frankly stupid .... and it has to STOP ...

Drew Burrett is a teacher and GLOW mentor from Argyll and Bute and his frustration boiled over:

Super School, Super Speed & Web(non)Sense

How Brilliant is Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope?

I’d love to be able to answer that question, but unfortunately my home PC is under spec’ed to do it justice - graphics card not up to the job of rendering the terabytes of images.

Nor is my school machine - lovely MacPCBookWinProXP - able to do it justice, simply because Websense will not allow it access to the internet.

I was quite excited by the announcement of the release of Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope, as I hoped it’d make for some interesting ‘find out for yourself’ collaborative Web 2.0 work for the kids as part of our up coming ‘Space’ topic.

Alas, Websense feels it is unsafe to allow such programs (and Google Earth, Stellarium etc) to be used in the education of children. This piece of software is slowly crushing my enthusiasm for incorporating ICT into my teaching.

[I had to laugh when I saw Websense’s corporate website - where they are selling themselves as ‘Integrated Security for the Web 2.0 world]

Andrew Brown made an interesting observation on his blog regarding filtering -

I wish there were some trust in the professionalism of teachers, rather than a blanket ban on everything until its proven to be’safe’. In the meantime, I’m thinking of abandoning any attempt at using ICT and going back to chalk.

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Monday, 7 April 2008

Top 100 Tools for Learning

The Centre for Learning and Perfomance Technologies has produced their Top 100 Tools for Learning Spring 2008 ...Final ranking as at 31 March 2008

The list is compiled from the contributions of 155 learning professionals (from both education and workplace learning) who shared their Top 10 Tools for Learning both for their own personal learning/ productivity and for creating learning solutions for others

And here they are ...

It is interesting that only one of the top 10 costs you real, actual money out of your bank account ... all of the ones 11 - 20 are also free !!

I found that I use 9 out of the top 10 and 7 out of the next 10 ... what about you ?


Friday, 4 April 2008

Emerging technologies for learning: volume 3 (2008)

From Becta: Emerging technologies for learning

... aims to help readers consider how emerging technologies may impact on education in the medium term. The publications are not intended to be a comprehensive review of educational technologies, but offer some highlights across the broad spectrum of developments and trends. It should open readers up to some of the possibilities that are developing and the potential for technology to transform our ways of working, learning and interacting over the next three to five years.'

Volume 3 contains some really 'up-to-the-minute' stuff so some good bedtime reading here ...

Growing up with Google - what it means to education (Diana Oblinger, EDUCAUSE)

Mobile, wireless, connected - information clouds and learning (Mark van't Hooft, Kent State University) -

Location-based and context-aware education - prospects and perils (Adam Greenfield, NYU)-

Emerging trends in serious games and virtual words (Sara de Freitas, SGI)

'If it quacks like a duck...' - developments in search technologies (Emma Tonkin, UKOLN)

Interactive displays and next generation interfaces (Michael Haller, Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences)

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Tanya Byron goes world wide

I have been watching my Google Alerts over the last week since the Byron Review surfaced and have noticed that the ripples have spread wider and wider. Blogs obviously have their uses in disseminating information quickly and easily.

Today I picked up on a comment from Canada on 'globeadmail' with the heading... A British lesson that Canadians would do well to study

It highlights a quote from the Review that people are taking to heart ... 'Kids don't need protection, we need guidance.' The Government today bring out new proposals to attempt to ban sex offenders from using social networking sites by releasing their email addresses to the sites concerned. There must be something in the data protection act that prevents email addresses from being passed around from pillar to post ! And, anyway, what is to prevent anyone from just getting another and another and another email?

The issue here is another instance of social networking and the internet and websites in general all being 'mucked' in together under a 'fear' banner.

OpenEducation .net also picked up on the Review...
... this is a site dedicated to tracking the changes occurring in education today. In an era where it is possible to photoshop images, facebook people, and access an endless stream of knowledge by googling, the Internet Age offers both great promise and enormous challenges for educators. At, readers will be exposed to both an objective and subjective look at the many issues facing the profession today.

There is obviously an urgent need to educate now in a positive way. If we wait for projects and proposals and systems to be put into place it will take too long. A common-sense approach at a localised level would make sense here. The juggernaut of institutionalisation is not the only means to create change.

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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Dial 999 someone is watching me ( on my computer)

An article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph states that Social Networking sites will have to advertise the 999 emergency services number according to new government guidelines. It is hoped that this will encourage children to call the police directly to report abuse.

I bet the police are really pleased about this ... I wonder if they were consulted?
The article also says:
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will publish the 73-page document on Friday, which also warns parents about anorexic websites which encourage teenage girls to compete to lose weight, and sites which promote self-harm and suicide.

Doesn't this make the third none/semi connected document from 'Government' sources on the subject of eSafety in a week ... no wonder parents are getting worried ... a bit of coordination would go a long way!

Watch out for Friday ...

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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Ofcom's Research into Social Networking

Tanya Byron last week Ofcom this week. Their report (in full here) today about the proliferation of social networking sites (read the BBC's interpretation here) and widespread access stresses the safety aspects over and above the positives concerning the building of wider networks and a new digital definition of 'friend'. Interestingly, the BBC report does not make any connection between what Ofcom says and what the Byron Review suggests.

So are you an alpha socialiser, an attention seeker, a follower, a fathful, a functional or a none user? You can see which social category of 'networker' you fit into here.

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Today is the last day to have your say ...

... for submissions to the DCSF consultation document 'Home Access to Technology'.

This consultation seeks views on the proposed Home Access programme that aims to ensure that every family with 5-19 year old learners in England has access to learning where and when they need it through access to ICT resources and support at home.

The executive summary is worth a read.

One of the key aims of the proposals is that:
...This will allow all learners to engage with the curriculum beyond the school day and extend their learning into areas that match their interests, abilities and aspirations. Also learners will develop the skills they will need to pursue and drive their learning and participate fully in the digital world.

The major worry comes from sustainability and support.

Becta have said:
Becta is currently undertaking its third devices mini-competition on behalf of the Access to technology at home initiative. From the information provided by LAs about their requirements and initial feedback by suppliers, particularly at BETT, Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) will feature quite strongly in the mini-competition.

To assist LAs and suppliers in this process Becta has produced a brief technical overview about the suitability of UMPCs as part of proposed solutions for Access to Technology at Home. This information is provided as a generic technical overview and is as far as is practicable independent of brand, instead focusing on key features; the benefits and the challenges that present themselves when considering large scale roll outs of such technologies.

This looks like a big opening for the Asus miniBook, Elonex ONE etc but what a weight of expectation will be places on LAs to administer.

The Functional Expectations of the programme are interesting:

Learning experience

Home Access users shall:

• be able to use solutions to access information on their personal learning goals and progress against them
• have access to a wide range of online learning resources
• have access to a wide range of tools that allow the creation and manipulation of multi-media texts
• be able to access multiple applications and services simultaneously
• have access to a range of collaborative tools and opportunities to share and work with others.

Users should feel ‘ownership’ of their personal educational experiences and the home access solution.

Home access should deliver benefits, especially to families and the community, beyond involvement in the formal educational experience.

Learning environment

Home Access users shall:

• have access to the online learning platform services used by the establishment(s) the learner attends
• be able to continue learning experiences begun in-school when out of school, and vice versa
• be entitled to a solution that protects the user from inappropriate contact and content and ensures data security and integrity regardless of location
• have access to solutions to recover data in event of failure or disaster and restore their ability to engage in their learning in a reasonable time frame.

Home Access users should:

• be able to experience high quality online learning experiences both in-school or college and out-of-school or college
• experience a familiar set of learning experiences over a reasonable length of time
• have a wide choice of home access solutions.

Learning support

School, college and other educational infrastructure shall be capable of supporting a variety of services to all home access users concurrently.

Educational establishments shall be supported, motivated, and measured against changing pedagogy to take advantage of home access.

Home Access users shall have access to formal user support (educational and technical) when needed and within a locally agreed time frame.

There is this bit tucked away at the bottom of the above section:
Educational establishments shall be supported, motivated, and measured against changing pedagogy to take advantage of home access. Notice the word 'measured' in there.

It is fairly obvious to me that there is going to have to be a real shake up in how children/parents/students/teachers access what they want where they want and on what their preferred tool is. Many will have mobile kit that they simply want to use to access a variety of networks. At the moment few schools encourage students to bring in their own equipment and many positively ban usage because (and I hope that this is the reason) their systems can't cope.

I sense exciting times ahead.

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Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Byron Review - everyone has their say

I am only picking up on the Internet safety issues here rather than muddy the waters with the rating for video games. There are many comments from the industry on the already well-publicised rating sysytem and whether a new one will have any more effect ...

There are so many views on Tanya Byron's Review ... You can read some of them here.

More here if you wish to get Keith Vaz's point of view.

The Times have their own viewpoint ... strange scare mongering...

An Irish point of view ... here

From the 'HandHeld' Learning Forum ... here

itsneak notes that there is a Government anomaly here

This is enough to be going on with .... What is your view?

More Google Alerts on this by the hour but none appear to be any more than just reporting that the Review has happened.

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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Web 2.0 Technologies for Learning at Key Stages 3 & 4

Yesterday I spent my time in a policy workshop at the Learning Science Research Centre of Nottingham University discussing eSafety issues as part of a project on Web 2.0 Technologies for Learning at Key Stages 3 and 4.

The workshop was called not to establish a consensus about eSafety in the use of Web 2.0 technology but was to investigate differences of opinion on the subject through a process of structured debate:

The aim of the Delphi workshop is to get behind the rhetoric and assess how the benefits of learning through Web2.0 can be achieved while protecting children from the dangers of communicating online.

The Policy Delphi method is a structured group process to survey and
collect the opinions of experts on a complex problem. Rather than
striving for an early consensus, the emphasis is on identifying
differing opinions through a process of structured debate.

What was really interesting was the shared opinion that there was a fundemental education process which needed to be developed to support the work. It was heartening to listen to colleagues treading similar pathways towards similar goals, which, though difficult, they felt were worth making the journey for.

This was the first stage of the process.It ...

...will be followed by a second round, at a later date, using the same or different experts, to rate and extend the findings, define the positions, and explore whether
or not a consensus can be reached.

More details will certainly be published about this at a later date.

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Saturday, 15 March 2008

Al Upton

I don't know if you are aware of Al Upton ... Australian educators will be !
On the blogs comes the sad and crazy news and on his miniLegends blog that:

Order for Closure
This blog has been disabled in compliance with DECS wishes (Department of Education and Children’s Services - South Australia)

It seems that this blog in particular is being investigated regarding risk and management issues. What procedures should be taken for the use/non-use of blogs to enhance student learning will be considered.

Just how this fits in with Article 13 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child:

13. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice. ... I am not sure !

Please go to the blog and read what has happened, and, if you wish, post a message of support.


It is heartening to read in the comments on the blog that the parents of the miniLegends are now voicing their support for Al.

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Friday, 14 March 2008

Schools and mobile phones

I am just reading a post on Will Richardson's blog about students in a school in midtown Manhattan and how they get round the school's ban on mobile phones:

...these kids don’t leave their cell phones at home. They are too important as a communications tool for safety’s sake and for social connections. Yet they can’t get these phones through the airport like scanners at the front of the building. So what do they do? Seems a little cottage industry as sprung up at the delis and bodegas around the school so that kids can check their phones in for the day at $3 a pop. They get a ticket, just like a coat check, on their way into school, and they pick it up on the way out.

It just makes you want to cry ... when will educational institutions get the message?Just go to the blog and read the post ... then read the comments !

This should be compulsory reading for every headteacher, member of a SMT, teacher, school governor, member of parliament, minister of education, the building schools for the future team,ICT training course providers, Becta employee, parent etc etc.

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

Second Life - John Connell

Am currently listening to John Connell lecturing in Second Life on the Cisco News 'space' talking about Learning 2.0. There are people here from UK, France, Spain, Bulgaria and Australia (and I suspect other places too).

Once I had the sound sorted (and many people sprang to help me do that) the session was superb and I will go to John's blog tomorrow to pick up more.

Here are my garbled notes:

He has just said ... 'Knowledge is learning' ??

'What we teach is rarely what is learned'

The Web is the learning platform ... this underpins the concept of 'learning 2.0'

This is the key to it ... we have to move on ... all of us have to move on ... the longer we delay the more our young people will leave the intitutional system of education behind ... adapt or !!

Web 2.0 shifts the context of education

Questions (well, sort of):

How do we establish a system to trust the knowlege?


Concept of a global classroom ... GLOW ... web-based online platform ...working jointly across the world

The assessment tail is wagging the dog and we need to change this

There is much that I have not commented upon as I was involved in participating in the discussion ...

You can access John's slides from his blog. More than worth the effort.

John has now put his summary of what he said on his blog ... here


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

If Stephen Fry says its okay , then ....

The Guardian Online on 11th February announced the RM MinBook ... hmmm ... wonder where they have been for the last three months ... I first blogger about it on 10th November 2007 (and I was late to the party). Having said that the article is right. The MiniBook ticks the right boxes and ought to make changes in teaching and learning across schools all over the world. Let's just hope that people are innovative enough to use the power that it has and not try to force 'it' into doing all of those things that they could do anyway. It is interesting to note in the article that it is Microsoft who tell us all we want a 'Windows' machine !


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

ICT Register Conference

Loughborough was the venue today at the ICT Register Conference - Making Connections

It was blasted off by a keynote sessions from Russell Prue, Award Winning ICT Evangelist, Author, Inventor & Entrepreneur and most ably followed up by Dr Baldev Singh, Imagine Education Director.

Russell's handouts can be found here.

John Sutton's presentation on podcasting can be found here.

Bits of my presentation (the videos etc) can be found here.

The Keynotes and Showcases focused on:
Creative use of new technologies and software tools
Creating new virtual and physical learning environments
National and international partnerships
Strengthening pedagogy through ICT
Web2.0 technologies

The web site for the event will soon be updated with the presentations. People attending were very open to the notion that we needed to move forward ( and quickly) to get the best from technology for the students/children in the system at this moment. Procrastination was NOT the order of the day. Inspired people ready to do inspirational things.

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Monday, 28 January 2008

The Horizon Report 2008

I have now read my way through the Horizon Report and my first take was emailed to friends over the weekend. The Exec Summary will get you going and then it would be good to check out the section on 'social operating systems' ... there are some really key phrases in there that we should use when talking about web based apps.

There is a section here about Social Graphs ( a new one on me) :Thoughts on the Social Graph (Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon, August 17, 2007.)

This article discusses the need for a social graph that exists outside of systems like Facebook, so that applications can take advantage of the fact that you already know who your contacts are.

If you have time or the will ... this should get you thinking as it dwells on the very nature of Learning Platforms and begines to ask: Is a social Network a LP??

.... and from here ... read the bit about Collaborative Virtual Learning Environments.

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The Capetown Open Education Declaration

Reading through my feeds yesterday I picked up on John Connell's post about The Capetown Open Education Declaration.

It begins:

Unlocking the promise of open educational resources
We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.

While I recognise the potential and intent of the declaration there are all sorts of questions that tumble into my mind as I read the rhetoric.

To begin with I am struggling with the definition of 'resources' and my mind flicks back to the English government's attempt to build a database to store the available resources during the 'eLC' bonanza. It was called 'Curriculum Online' and cost millions of pounds sterling but (as far as my knowledge and research tells me) did not reach the parts that it was supposed to reach in spite of considerable publicity. The Year One report in 2004 painted a sketchy picture from a sketchy survey but the conclusions were not optimistic that the money had been well spent. The final report was equally unenthusiastic about the use of the portal by 'ordinary teachers'.

With the coming of Learning Platforms and VLEs there are various groups who are valiantly trying to get content together and share it. One of the main groups to come forward in this regard is the National Digital Resource Bank ( pity it is national but it is a good start). NDRB works on the basis of a content sharing community, members can contribute in a variety of ways, the key ones being contributing content that they own and supporting the work of mapping and SCORMing harvested content.

This is what the Regional BroadBand Consortia have been trying to do with various amounts of success for some time now. It will be interesting to see how GLOW and Learning Northern Ireland deal with the matter of content and how their concept will fit with the Capetown Declaration.

But this is all about content and not resources ... or is it? As I have said I am confused by the definitions. It could easily be argued that many of the resources on Internet can be used in an educational context.

What I really want, and wanted to read, is about the making available of powerful, motivational tools to author and document the knowledge so that it becomes accessible to a wide variety of people in the widest possible way.

Looking down the list of organisation signatures leaves me with the feeling that there is one group missing ... the people who have, on the whole, got us this far, the software producers. What of them in this plan?


Saturday, 26 January 2008

MyCBBC - an institutional social network

I am just not sure whether or not to laugh, cry or just wonder! I knew it was coming but reading through links in feeds yesterday alerted me to its imminence. Both the Mail and the Telegraph (and I suspect others) give warning of its approach and also hype up the anti by asking the questions 'should your money be spent on this?'.

The new social network site called MyCBBC will have a lower (?) age limit/range of six years. As far as my limited research goes I am led to believe that this is well catered for at the moment by Club Penguin.

So is this venture the institution of the BBC reaching out to a young audience in their space or is it an institution going out of its remit? Or... does the concept fulfill the idea of choice in all things?

From a user point of view, in the end, it won't matter. Children and their parents will have a look at both and will make up their minds what they want to do and which they want to use. I suspect it will not be an either or it will be a both and lots of others as well. Some will live on because their use will justify it, others will just drift slowly away ...a process of evolution. How many people already have 'lapsed' identities spread all over Bebo, MySpace, FaceBook etc. ? You stick with those that work for you and maybe dabble in some others. I really object to the idea that one size and site fits all ... to be honest, that is where I am currently having difiiculties with VLEs and LPs.

The BBC insists that the site is designed to encourage discussion of the Corporation’s shows and will help raise awareness among youngsters about the risks of using the Internet. ... it is being developed at a cost of £200,000 ( a mere drop in the ocean when you think of the money spent on BBC Jam) and will be available to some 1000 users from April. Is it a self fulfilled prophecy?

Let's just wait and see ...


Thursday, 24 January 2008

Economist Debate

I have been following with much interest the Economist Debate which had the proposition 'Social networking technologies will bring large ( positive) changes to education methods, in and out of the classroom'. The pro view has been strongly put by Ewan McIntosh and the con by Michael Bugeja. The debate is now over with a resounding win for Ewan's pro stance of 62% to 38%. The wonder of the debate was the number of comments and participants from all over the world expressing views that gives me much optimism for the future for our young people. What needs to happen now is the debate and discussion needs to be turned into action and the education leaders in countries around the world need to be directed to the debate and they need to listen and do.

The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things - 'Alice in Wonderland' - Lewis Carroll

Procrastination is not an option ... the longer we wait for action the more our young learners will become disenfranchised by our institutional systems and the harder it will become to support and help them in their quest for a personalised education process.


Ewan McIntosh the 'pro' speaker has added a comment to his own blog which has caused me some disquiet. I have complete belief in the proposition of the debate and recognise the strength of his argument but fall short of agreeing with him about the voting. I do actually think that in this sort of online environment that there will be a 'swing' towards a 'pro' vote for any discussion based on the forward thinkingness of any online ideas ( sorry just can't think of a better word than ideas at the moment). The people who engage in these debates and those who watch from the sidelines are, I feel, at this time, going to be those that are media/network and (obviously) online savvy. They have found their way to an online debate and are involved in it. People who perhaps would be interested in the debate but do not regularly engage in online interactions are (!!) just not represented and I have the feeling that they would be veering towards the 'con' camp.

This is no way detracts from the power and strength of the argument and the quality of the posts in discussion. Just let's not get too hooked up on the votes cast.


Frontline - Growing Up Online

Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 25 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience

This is the US version of Panorama and it is interesting to watch their take on the whole idea of 'Growing up Online'

I would be very interested get other people's views on this.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Music, me and the power of blog feeds

Trying to get my head together this morning to begin real work I am sitting here browsing my 'feeds' as you do when your brain really won't focus and you sense that the longest and darkest days of the year are past - even if it was only yesterday - forever the optimist !!

I turn my attention to Scotedublog and look for something quirky to catch my attention and gather in my brain and the name of 'Simone White' lights up my eyes. My sort of music. Obviously John Connell's as well.

In the past my feeds (and if you have read my blog for a long while you will have listened to this) have lead me to Oh Laura and more recently to Tasmin Little.

Would I have got to them without my 'feeds'?

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Monday, 21 January 2008

The Transparent Canoe

I have just had a virtual discussion with Tricia about the use of the phrase 'The technology should be transparent' and she pointed me in this direction.

The transparent canoe is a wonderful vehicle, it can't be seen yet it is a reliable form of transport.

The technology we use in our lives and in our opportunities to teach should be just like this ... available but not intrusive ... it should allow us to work/play/function efficiently.

Oh for a transparent education system!

(Thanks to Pete Yeomans for the original viewpoint)

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Saturday, 19 January 2008

FaceBook (again)

A BBC report into data protection indicates that the Information Commissioner's Office is investigating the fact that it is difficult to clear all the data from FaceBook accounts and that deactivation is just that and this does not remove the data from FaceBook's servers.

The report says: "Users who wish to completely delete their information must, according to the automated response from Facebook's Customer Service, “log in and delete all profile content". and it goes on to say : "An individual who has deactivated their account might not find themselves motivated enough to delete information that's about them maybe on their wall or other people's site."

This needs to be read with the post below about FaceBook.

Is this paranoia? Is it a 'witch hunt' against something that has gone viral and is 'anti-establishment'? The social networks we have are in infancy and what is there today will undoubtedly not be there wearing the same clothes in the future and so it is right to worry about the ownership of the data.

At a seminar session at BETT last week I asked an assembled group of BETT visitors, mainly teachers, how many of them had opened up their FaceBook page (if they had one) or created one and had shown the students how to make the page as safe as possible. Out of the 80 or so listening to me ONE person said that they had done that.We need to teach people how to be safe. We do it for Road Safety. We spend a fortune on drugs awareness. We have not yet got to grips with personal safety in social networks ... and we need to now .

I have said these things before and feel the need to say them again !

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008


An extremely interesting article in the Guardian re FaceBook which I just draw your attention to and make no comment on ... though I expect many people will !

This, I notice, was followed up by Ben Williamson on the Flux Blog (FutureLab).

Josie Frazer on her Blog 'SocialTech' puts forward an almost balanced view.

Interesting times !


Monday, 14 January 2008

Gadgets and Gizmos

I wrote last week about the idea of teaching children/students how to get the best out of their gadgets and gizmos rather than banning their use.

Trawling my feeds today to try to keep up I came across this on Danny Nicholson's 'Whiteboard Blog':

Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend on their slates which are more expensive. What will they do when their slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write!”
Teachers Conference, 1703

Students today depend upon paper too much. They don’t know how to write on slate without chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”
Principal’s Association, 1815

Students today depend too much upon ink. They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”
National Association of Teachers, 1907

Students today depend upon store-bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words of ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”
The Rural American Teacher, 1929

Students today depend upon these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib (not to mention sharpening their own quills). We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world, which is not so extravagant.”
PTA Gazette, 1941

Ball point pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American virtues of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.”
Federal Teacher, 1950

For proper attributation, these quotes are apparently from David Thornburg’s book Edutrends 2010: Restructuring, Technology and the Future of Education (1992).

Anyone want to write one for the 'gap years' and 2007 please ?

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Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Panorama - One click from danger

I missed the programme last evening but, thanks to BBCi, I am watching it now, as I type this post. I have been a bit disenfranchised of late with this flagship of the BBC since the 'WIFI' programme that caused so much fuss so I am hoping for more facts and less 'TV'.

The programme is still scaremongering and any parent watching it would be forgiven if they immediately dashed up the stairs and dragged any computers that were there from the bedrooms - but does give some really good advice, if you can see through the hype. It is quite clear that what is needed is a concerted education programme in our schools. We should just get on with some positive education, showing young people how to stay safe. We spend a fortune on road safety, drug awareness, anti-smoking, safe sex education etc. - this is the 21 Century safety campaign we need to get on with it not leave it up to peer 'hearsay'. If we do this we will be seen to be letting down our young people.

Our children are intelligent and media savvy we need to discover what they know and don't know so we can help them to get the safe best out of their social networking.

The problem is that our teachers probably are not up to speed on the technology and so there is a blanket 'WOW DANGER', we don't want to go there.

So a real education programme, quickly, for the teachers first. Young people need practical help on how to protect themselves online ... we must do it now before this hype gets in the way of all of the good that can be done.

If you missed the programme there are still five days left to download it to BBCi.

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Saturday, 5 January 2008

Emily Sanderson - a girl in 120,000

Sharing Good Practice is the printable but also online magazine of ictopus(ICT online primary user support)a support service for primary education.

This week the whole of the magazine is devoted to the celebration of how online connectivity is changing children's lives. Written by Robert Hart, Director of Research at Intuitive Media Research Services it give a research based indication of the enormous potential opened up to young people by carefully constructed, protected social networks.

An interesting statistic from the research shows how little of Emily's time is spent 'connected' at school. It also shows that she has all of the equipment necessary to connect wherever she is. ( except at school of course because children are told not to bring their 'gadgets' with them into the school environment)

My question is just how does this post fit in with the previous one ?

If you are not an ictopus member, just sign up. It is free!

Geoff Dellow in a post to the ictopus site wonders:
Is this not about an organisation that has provided the facility for children to communicate with each other but not with adults. This worries me - yes with each other but surely far more important with adults as well - or is the great monster pedphilia lurking. Surely children need contact with more adults not less. Schools are already a very artificial enviroment with few adults.


If you go to the ictopus SGP blog site you can read Robert Hart's response to Geoff.

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Thursday, 3 January 2008

How to get it so, so wrong !!

I was alerted this morning by my friend Steve Taylor to a BBC report from England's Children's Minister Kevin Brennan where he says '...electronic toys, music players and phones often appear in schools as the new term begins. Children often bring the fascinating gadgets they were bought as Christmas presents into class, but these can cause disruption and hamper learning. Teachers can and will confiscate such items if they see them being used in lessons.'

The idea that some of the powerful tools that children now have access to at home are essentially disruptive and hamper learning almost says it all. It is no wonder that our young people feel that they 'dumb down' to go to school and that many of them feel that the tools that they have at their disposal do not actually meet their needs.

As part of the report the General secretary of teaching union the NASUWT Chris Keates said: "Every year some youngsters arrive back at school with MP3 players, mobile phones and electronic games. This can be a real headache for teachers when they are trying to get everyone settled down to start learning. Teachers would be grateful if pupils just brought a pen."

So as we move further and further into a technological age one of the 'influences' on educational policy sees the major tool for learning as a pen.

The report goes on '... Some schools have a "no gadget" policy where all non-educational equipment is banned ' . So who says what and what isn't educational then ? And who defines 'gadget'?

You can read Ewan's take on the report here.

I feel so cross about the whole thing. We need a 21st Century education for our young people !!

PS ( just as an aside)
I have been alerted to the fact that the Minister for English Education who wants the gadgets kept out of English schools is in fact the MP for Cardiff ... isn't that in Wales?


A Presentation at the BETT Conference and Exhibition, January 9th by Mike Sharples continues the debate.

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

God Save The Queen

It is superb to hear/watch/read today from the BBC that the Queen has opened her own channel on YouTube. At last an institution that isn't afraid to embrace the medium.
I wonder how LAs,BroadBand Consortia and schools will deal with the fact that some fabulous historical footage will now be available to all except those in our educational institutions on account of the fact that YouTube is resolutely blocked.

I am not arguing here for wholesale access as that will undoubtedly cause immense problems ... but it does pose a number of interesting problems for network managers and the people who make the rules about what our young learners are or are not able to access in our educational establishments.

Teachers will not forever want to spend their time extracting the videos from their primary source so what will they do? I can hear the classroom conversation now, ' There is some terrific stuff available for you on YouTube ... just go home and watch it!'

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

More on Learning Platforms and Social Networking

My colleague Tricia and I have now cracked most of the problems that we had at first associating the University's VLE, Blackboard, with FaceBook... with the help of the University's e-Learning team and the guys who developed the widget/app ... CourseFeed. Already students on the PGCE course are signing up so that they can use the VLE from within their social networking set up.

This opens up a number of interesting questions about how people see their access to the materials that they want to use. One of the current questions that I get constantly asked by teachers, SM teams, and LAs is 'Will it work within our portal/VLE/LP etc ?' And I am thinking that this is probably the right question the wrong way round. How about 'Will your VLE/portal/LP work within my social network app?' . Because I want to start from where I am and not necessarily from where the institution is. I hadn't thought too much about this until recently but the stuff I have been doing in the last few days has caused me to think a good deal about it. Is it a matter of who leads who here? or 'what leads what' ... chicken and egg syndrome come to mind !

Which brings me to my 'new definition' of interoperability ... I want to be able to choose where I start but also want to get to the same place whichever way it is. Is this a long step on, or as the FaceBook/Blackboard experience seems to suggest, something just around the corner?

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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Learning PLatform and Facebook ( continued)

I spend some of my time lecturing on the PGCE Course at Leicester University School of Education and was intrigued last week to spot this session on integration of Facebook with the University's VLE, Blackboard.

The widget that does the business (sync has to have been applied for by the University, I understand) is called 'CourseFeed' and it does just that ... allows you to see your Blackboard Course(s) from your Facebook account.

One of the neat things in there is an email alerter for changes in course content, announcements, course notes and wall posts. This is especially useful as Blackboard does not seem to have cracked the RSS idea yet.

It doesn't work too well for some of the links yet but it is a good start towards using a social network as the opener to other services.


Viral Marketing

There is nothing new about viral marketing and the concepts that underpin it are exceptionally well documented in Malcolm Gladwell's book 'The Tipping Point' but a seasonal promo that has entered my mailbox from numerous sources as various of my friends 'discovered' it comes courtesy of a company called OfficeMax.

On their homepage right down at the bottom of the 'Top Links' section is 'Elf Yourself' and this just appears to have caught on ... gone viral !

It is a simple app that allows you to create 'elves' who dance and who have the face of whoever you have photos of.

It is fun to do and just goes to show the power of the simple over the expensive.

If you are desperate to see our family version click here. Enjoy !

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Interactive Whiteboards ... Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!!

Is it true that 'ICT' and 'Interactive Whiteboard' have become synonymous? After a number of years of hype, a great deal of drilling, a lot of money for manufacturers and suppliers as well as for 'putter-uppers, a good deal of discovered asbestos, a mountain of resources and web sites and some excellent teaching (as well as some appalling stuff), we have reached the tipping point. There is no way back so what is forward?

Ewan McIntosh notes a new twist in the saga that is incredibly innovative. You just need to take a look at it. Details are on his blog and the video is here for you to enjoy and be amazed at.


Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Just clever ...

This is a really clever use of Flickr to get tagged images to spell out words... have a look how its done here. Thanks yet again to Simon Mills for this.


Sunday, 9 December 2007

Learning Platforms and Facebook

Later this week I am attending a session at the University of Leicester which is centred on informing staff and students of the development of emerging eLearning technologies in order to give an Institutional consensus on the deployment of such technologies.

My interest in the session stems from one of the presentations on offer :'Facebook and Blackboard integration '.
More details later !


Sunday, 2 December 2007

It was raining so ...

... I sat down on this Sunday morning to work my way through my neglected feeds. Scotedublog is one of my favourites as I always learn something new from it and I always have a laugh. Today was slightly different ... on the way down through the mass of fellow bloggers telling me about their life and times and courses that they had been on I came across one that was about PE and ICT ... excellent in itself but suffering, as I am at present (this is no joke I can tell you) from - so my specialists tell me - Post Viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - and having spent most of my life running up and down mountains just for pure pleasure - PE was not on my radar! BUT ... it led me to a site called 'Common Craft' ... and it is here I want to lead you. Go there and if you want a simple explanation about RSS or Wikis or Blogs or Social Bookmarking for anyone who needs to know then show them it and sit back.

If only I had enough talent or had thought about it, I would have done it.

Enjoy !!


Saturday, 10 November 2007

A quiet revolution ... but some will shout about it

Web 2.0 is coming!! Web 2.0 is coming !! ... and what will we run it on?

In his book 'The Tipping Point', Malcolm Gladwell explains quite clearly the mechanics of change that need to happen before something is adopted or goes 'viral'. I sense that there is a rise in the tide of accessible hardware and it is being pushed by a north wind. When will the surge happen? I suspect at BETT 2008 !

At the 'Handheld' Conference recently RM featured their new Asus Mini Book. Tim Pearson, RM's MD led with: My presentation was called 'Towards the perfect device' and in it I announced the introduction of our new small computer - the RM Asus miniBook. and I read today in PC Pro Magazine an upbeat review of the beast. Commercially called an 'Asus Eee PC 701', PC Pro have it down as A genuine step forward for the laptop, with unbelievable capabilities for the price, plus an ultra-low weight

It deals with the three '95s' ... 95% of the people, 95% of the things, 95% of the time!

A base selling price from RM of £169 (I am told it has been available for 10 days already)or on the open market for (currently) £180, this might find its way into many Christmas Stockings.

It certainly will set the cat amongst the pigeons as its 900MHz Intel Celeron M and 512MB DDR2Ram with 4G solid-state flash disk and integrated graphics might be more than enough for most jobs. The OS is a custom version of a Xandros version of Linux and it cleverly comes with Internet, Work, Play, Settings and Favorite tabs ... each with its own set of apps. Open Office and Firefox 2 are preinstalled.

There are more goodies in the shape of an integrated webcam, SD card reader, 802.11bg wireless.

I think it might just catch on ... or it might provoke a move by competitors to begin to deliver ubiquitous, portable machines that pull everything from the web and don't cost the earth.

I also note from Andrew Brown's blog that they will be in lots of lovely colours!!

Read Ewan's take on the whole thing.

Also listen/watch the video from John Connell's site.

A machine/child could be just around the corner.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Social Networking Conference

So I got lost in the one-way system of Tamworth and pulled into the kerb to ask the way to the Palace Venue ... 'You're there love.' was the response as the lady pointed to a low building. And so I was !

I have now stood and performed on the same stage as 'The Bay City Rollers' ... but not at the same time!

As for the Conference itself, I came away with a personal task to revisit my views on the security/e-safety agenda. For me it seemed to fill the Conference for, apart from the thirty minutes of 'lightning talks' where six of us gave a brief overview of software/products etc, the thrust of the morning was based on 'opportunities and risks' with the stress on risks and responsibilities.

Now, if the people at the Conference represent a cross section of those who need to think about these things then it is clear to me that there are things I should think about too.

But it worries me that I heard cyber-bullying over and over. I know it is important that we are all aware of what goes on and I know that I have a responsibility to educate about it, BUT I also have a responsibility to be optimistic and excited about what I (and young people) can do now that I couldn't do before.

Those who know me will be aware that in life I am a risk taker. I weigh things up and work out if the risk is worth it and will it affect others before I 'jump' ... but, the chances are, I will jump.

I want our young people to be exciting and confident risk takers and, to a great extent, I think they are. Is it us who are holding them back for our safety and security. In preparation for the Conference I spoke to some young people about what they did and what they felt and was challenged by one lad who simply said 'We're not stupid you know.' .... I wonder ... are we?

We are all aware that our youngest children now do not play out any more. They get ferried from pillar to post because of the dangers that lurk in our minds ( and, I will concede out THERE). They wear goggles to play conkers, they don't climb trees, they are 'watched' by adults everywhere they go. Our young people need adult free space in their lives so that they can lead them. We just need to get the education right.

I have posted this video before but make no excuse for posting it again. Just listen please.

But I will go back and revisit what I think.

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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

FutureLab and Maps etc

I couldn't get down to London today to the Futurelab Conference 'Why Don't You ...? Supporting innovative approaches in education but with the power of the technology (and the skill of Leon Cych) I was able to 'sit in' on a number of presentations. In fact, as I write, I am waiting for the final keynote to begin! - conference attendance with little carbon footprinting.

The session I was particularly keen to attend was the one by Andy Black from Becta:

BLOG OFF: these Web 2.0 tools will never make it into the learner experience
Much has been made of learners being so deeply embroiled in technology that they see it as commonplace, neutral and invisible. We call it ‘Web 2.0’, they use it without thinking. Teachers are failing to keep pace with awareness of this technology, never mind incorporating it into their practice. This workshop involves a rapid tour of some Web 2.0 tools that are already used by learners, and examines issues such as the barriers to teaching staff deploying these tools to support learning. The session also gives participants a chance to create artefacts.

In his presentation Andy went through many Web 2.0 tools many of which were familiar but one I was not aware of was 'Flash Earth' ( another thing missed!). This is a sort of web based version of Google Earth but you don't need anything downloaded to your machine to use it. As well as this it is possible, on the fly, to change the version of the map you are viewing from, let's say' Google Maps to Microsoft VE.

I feel sure that the whole of Andy's presentation ( and all of the others) will pop up soon on the FutureLab site.

A close look at the aerial photos on both of the later for my particular area suggests that both of these were imaged about 7 years ago whereas the aerials I am getting from Google Earth appear to be about 2 years old - so, swings and roundabouts.

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Saturday, 27 October 2007

ictopus and Web2.0

A short while ago I was in a school doing some work with a group of children and we had fun ... it came to the end of the session and I suggested that the children just added their name to their own work, or if it was in a group, all of the names. As you do, I just glanced at the finished pieces and noticed one name began without a capital letter.
'Please check that everything is okay,' I said.
I looked again ... still no capital letter.
'Is that okay?' I said.
'It's fine,' came the reply.
I gave up being 'Mr Nice Guy'.
'The capital letter to start your name?' I asked in question.
' My name doesn't begin with a capital letter,' came the quick response.
'That's right,'said the teacher,'it doesn't!I've seen the birth certificate.'

So, sorry I just can't put the capital letter even at the start of the next sentence as for me ictopus is a proper name and I have decided that the 'sentences begin with capital letters' rule does not take precedence.(I am now looking forward to people fighting me over this)

ictopus has come of age in a big way. There are now 3529 subscribers from 30 different countries... truly international and the, largely English based, editorial team is striving hard to develop the 'internationality' of the items in the news or in the resources.

The latest edition of 'Sharing Good Practice' has a useful down-to-earth article about blogs and wikis in the classroom.Well worth a read.

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Sunday, 21 October 2007


I have just discovered ToonDoo by taking part in the K12online Conference and listening to Wendy Wolfe from Saint Paul, MN, USA
“If All My Classes Did This”

Click on the 'GO' button to see what my day was like ...

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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Presentation tools

At the Naace All Members Conference (AMAC) recently I used a blog as my presentation tool, working back chronologically through my posts in the way that a flip chart would be used on an interactive whiteboard or the way slides could be used on PowerPoint. I use blogs for this purpose because I find it easy to embed videos and links into the posts and I can pass the information to people simply by giving them the URL which they can access anywhere they find a decent connection.

I felt that one of the advantages of using the blog was that people who wished to could post comments quickly and easily and this could be incorporated into the presentation. It hasn't proved to be as successful as I had wished in this regard at the moment. The ethos of 'commenting' or 'continuing discussion' or 'offering more/further ideas' does not yet seem to be part of our conference culture and so the presentation ends with ... well, the presentation. This is a pity as presentations at such conferences ought to be challenging enough to provoke further insights.

As a progression from this I have been excited by the way presenters at the K12Online Conference have used wikis as their preferred tool. A good example of this is found in Anne Davis's presentation “Learn to Blog: Blog to Learn”

I haven't tried this yet but certainly will, though I am, as yet, unsure how this will further my aim of gleaning comments and questions. Simply editing the wiki surely is not the answer and Anne's engaging presentation appears to use the wiki as a carrier of links to other wiki pages or even blogs ( WebQuest being one of these). Perhaps I am missing something really obvious here. Or does it matter at all ? The main thing is -does the compilation (is it a 'mash up') carry the message ? ... and for me it certainly does.

This takes me on to an interesting article that will fire off another set of ideas as we move into Web 2.1 and beyond. Dr Jason Ohler from Alaska has an interesting take on this (Naace Sharing Success).

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Wednesday, 17 October 2007

On-Line Conferences

I am becoming a fan of on-line conferences ... firstly they don't demand that I travel long distances putting my carbon footprint all over our unique planet; secondly they don't cost me travel time (although travel time is often thinking time so there is a trade off to be had there) nor do they cost me real money; thirdly I can decide the time to listen and follow up that suits my learning patterns ( and those who know me will know how bizarre they are) and lastly (for now) I can be International ... my learning is not tethered because of geography.

There is, of course, so I am told a downside to all of this. No F2F networking, no bar until the early hours, no making new 'real' rather than virtual acquaintances but, as I said, it is growing on me.

All this is leading towards the fact that I spent time early this morning ( I really am a very early in the morning person!) following the K12 Online Conference 2007 subtitled 'Playing with Boundaries'.

The Conference schedule is awesome with many top thinkers in the field of education and the potential of ICT tools to support and enhance it. Better still it is not a conference where I will get all of the superb input in one day so that my mind goes numb and I can't cope with the innovation of it all ... the conference goes on daily until Friday 26th October.

I won't attempt to 'Readers Digest' the presentations ... they stand on their own feet and, anyway, the summaries are there ... on the site.

David Wallick's 'Inventing New Boundaries' ... 'The borders have gone ... they have been made transparent' sets a pattern of thought that challenges and inspires.

One of the main things that impresses me is that the technology is in place to secure interest in the conference in a variety of ways ... you can Twitter, go to the wiki, listen to the presentations in many ways and/or watch the videos. Everything is there to take account of taste and time.

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Monday, 8 October 2007

Teacher TV ... Mobile Phones - Mobile Minds

Technology has a way of nudging forward whether you want it to or not. Teachers TV (thanks for the link Tricia) takes 'a look at the world of young people with mobile phones, and the impact on schools and education.Owning a mobile is becoming an indispensable element of young people's lives, for both teenagers and increasingly primary age children, all around the world. Are mobile phones a force for good, or an example of technology gone awry? Is it sensible to ban their use in schools or should this device be given a place in lessons and learning?'
Watch the video here.

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Friday, 5 October 2007

Just what can you uncover in one week?

Just one week ago today I was at the Naace All Members' Autumn Conference and there, in discussion with colleagues, picked up on the vast amount of things that people are consumed with.

This week my inbox has been dominated ... and I do mean dominated ... by the inappropriate use of an email forum by a group of urgent people discussing the nature of e-portfolios. I do wish that they had got themselves sorted out early enough to talk in a private forum about the topic or at least managed to digest it. As a subscriber to two of the groups I kept getting a double dose of the information ... interesting though it was I do feel that they could have carried on privately. But ... if they had done this would I have missed out on some important details ? A real cleft stick !

I spent two days this week in Cornwall working with some delightful young people podcasting using the Podium Software in French and Spanish. The software proved no barrier to these intelligent youngsters but the impressive thing was the way that the various groups cooperated together and produced the podcasts without 'batting any eyelids'. The school, Helston Community College should be heartily proud of their young people. Their podcast can be found by pasting
into your favourite listening tool. This was a first shot for these teenagers and the software wasn't the barrier ... in fact there were no barriers ... they now need to repeat and progress.

Arriving home and checking my feeds I discovered , yet again, that Ewan and Kent were ahead of me.

The Kent ClusterBlog is always a source of new and exciting information and this time has come up with a very interesting web 2.0 app called Jing Project well worth having a look at for image capture and computer screen capture.

I have not had chance to try another suggestion found there but feel that Poly might well excite some mathematicians.

I did notice that my globe trotting friend Ewan was on the other side of the world enjoying himself in New Zealand at the ULearn07 Conference
where I feel sure, judging by his blog, he opened eyes and ears and had his opened too. I noticed that he chose to highlight the excellent work done by Stephen Heppell in terms of emphasising the correlation between creativity and ingenuity. On the 'Be Very Afraid' blog there is reference to a superb piece of 'creative ingenuity' that far outstrips anything a closed school curriculum could possibly imagine. Just watch the Ravensbourne College initiative... and this is now two years old ... where will the thinking be at this end of 2007? It is well worth listening and looking at this year's ideas.

After Shanghai, New Zealand was certainly a place to be!

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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Podium Podcasting in Derby

What a superb morning! A group of Y3 children from a primary school in Derby attended a podcasting session at the local ICT Training Centre. And they were up for it !

ICT techniques to the fore ... they knew what it was about so they podcasted in FRENCH.

Scripting, recording, editing, importing MP3s, publishing and carefully listening to each other all seemed were taken in great leaps rather than strides.

You can hear their podcast by pasting this link into your favourite aggregator...

You can read more about the session on the Podium Blog

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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Naace All Members' Autumn Conference

In the exceptional surroundings of the Cisco Centre near the River Thames at Runnymeade 50 odd (!) delegates came to discover if they were Web 2.0 or not. The discussion was enthusiastic and the texted questions and comment provided a link from the presentation to what people were actually thinking.

There was much interest in the use of a blog as a presentation tool and also with the way videos, slide shows and snapshot pop ups were enabled to enhance the presentation . Real modelling of the Web 2 model.

You can get to the blog I used for the presentation from here .

Much interest was expressed in the educational concepts and the operation underpinning Honeycomb and people were excited about the prospect of getting their hands on this powerful, educationally focused ICT tool.

While I was doing my presentation James Watson recorded the session in a Podium podcast. To listen to a completely unedited version of the podcast about ruweb2? copy the hyperlink below and paste it into your favourite podcast player (e.g. iTunes).

You can read James Watson's take on the event on the Softease Blog.

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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Learn 2.0 unconference Shanghai 2.45 AM

An interesting night. Unable to go to Shanghai I delivered my presentation, with the help of Eugenie Morley and Danielle Markland , to an audience at the Conference from my office at 2.45 AM this morning ( 9.45 Shanghai time!)

We used a normal Skype web cam video link which connected to Danielle's laptop and her web cam. This projected onto the Conference screen with my image on one side, the blog I was working from next to it and Skype Chat open for comments and links. People in the audience were on their laptops using the blog and links to explore while I was talking and Eugenie was taking in and responding to comments on her own Skype Chat. Participants were also Twittering about the session. I was actually chatting on Skype at the time with a guy in Chicargo who was following the Conference on Twitter and was hoping for a SkypeCast so he could join in ... perhaps next time.

As I was talking to people I recorded the session in a Podium podcast. To listen to a completely unedited version of the podcast about RUWEB 2.0. copy the hyperlink below and paste it into your favourite podcast player (e.g. iTunes).

So really low tech as far as video conferencing was concerned but certainly fit for purpose.

My thanks to Danielle and Eugenie for handling the setting up in Shanghai and thanks to the Confernece organisers for publicising the event and sorting space in their crowded programme.

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Saturday, 15 September 2007

Shanghai - ruweb2 ?

Innovative Technology for Teaching and Learning
Social networking - the primary classroom and beyond

This post is set for those people who are at the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai where I was due to give a presentation this weekend. Unable to travel I put much material into a blog at and for some reason this is now not accessible from China.

In view of this I have copied the bulk of the materials here ... enjoy !

I will also be doing a virtual 'unconference' session at 9.45 AM Shanghai time on Sunday 16th September ... perhaps you can make it ?

So ... RUWEB2 ? or more importantly ... 'are your children/students?'

'The future is already here - its just not evenly distributed'
William Gibson

We have seen it coming, we have used many elements of it and we all call it different things. Is it ‘social software’? Is it Web2.0? Is it ‘New Generation’? The title matters not, but the operation is the difference between ‘push’ and ‘pull’.

In our own social and professional lives as mainly digital immigrants (see the work of Marc Prensky) we have begun to embrace a new form of ‘living’. We have returned to older ways of finding out; we ask to know. But our asking is wider and involves interaction and debate. We have begun to embrace the technology to help us with this but its exponential change leaves us gasping at what we can now do and who we can talk to and, best of all, what we can say.
There is real power here for our own professional development that we have only just begun to tap into. We need to make a personal move from ‘immigrant’ to ‘native’.

The latest generation of social software is evolving. That is part of its power and its excitement.

In our schools we are dealing with digital natives. This is their world and they have never known one that is different. If we do not make use of the power of their native technology in our work with them as educators then there is a high chance that they will want to bypass our system. The very essence of schooling as we know it is at stake here.

Up until now the questions and the answers have been applied to older students working in our secondary schools but now the message is coming down the age range. Older brother and sisters have younger brothers and sisters who want to know. They watch their older siblings deal with ‘MySpace’, ‘Facebook’ and ‘Bebo’; they use ‘Flickr’, ‘del.ic.ious’ and ‘Diigo’; the write on ‘Zoho’; they communicate on ‘Skype’ and ‘MSN’; and they ‘Google’ everything from calculations to maps and beyond.

They already know how to do it and they bring their skills and knowledge with them to the school education party.

What, if anything at all, are schools doing about making the best, most efficient use of this power to enhance teaching and learning? What are the strengths that we can latch on to and work with? Where are the weaknesses and the problems? Where will we find best practice?

Have a quick glimpse into the future before you start ... we all could do with 2020 vision. Written in 2003 in the time of 'Web 1.0' does excite or ...?

The age group is falling and falling for the use of social software and we must all be aware and beware of that. It is our job to educate and support our young people in the educational and social use of the tools that they have available ... the distinction between the two aspects is, after all, ours not theirs.

Below is something to watch and listen to so that the focus shifts ... what we want to do here is to move with our young people ... to change practice where appropriate, both theirs and ours.

There is a tremendous debate about this and I expect that a large part of the audience at the Conference will have their own views and their own personal definitions.

So what is the Web 2.0 thing and how will it affect teaching and learning particularly for our younger children?

A sensible, starter version of the variety of basic applications can be found on the Softease site.

But if this is you ... have you tried your ideas on teachers who are not as knowledgeable as you? How can they see through their own practice that there is power to be had and why are they so frightened?

You might like to read here:

There is some terrific work going on in Primary Schools around the world ... Some schools have easily taken on board the excitement and the potential that Web 2.0 offers:

Newbridge Primary School offer a 'mash up' site that gives a flavour of what can be done.

Some of the things that Miles Berry says are very apt as far as primary education is concerned. You decide.

If you don't know it a really good read is the collaborative book edited by Terry Freedman entitled Web 2.0, Coming of Age:An introduction to the NEW worldwide web ... this link from Chris Smith's Shambles site.

Here Brian Kelly reports on Andy Powell's use of Facebook in the Primary School. Another example of a 'mash up'.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand at Stratford Primary School they explored the goodd, the bad and the ....

So listen to Paul Harrington from Cefn Fforest Primary school in Wales and his view on Web 2.0 in the primary classroom.

You could go here and see the links that East Carmuirs Primary School in Falkirk have saved on or even read their blog.

In New South Wales, in Australia is widely used.

Teachers TV has run on blogging ... well worth a watch and a listen.

And so on and on and on ...

Are you there yet ?

Worries about the Web 2.0 ideas and how they will affect teachers are rife ...

Whenever I talk to teachers or advisors about using Web 2.0 applications in curriculum contexts they invariably come up with worries about security. In a growingly litiginous society this is understandable but the worries should not provide barriers.

There are ways forward and I note that my good friend Peter Woodhead from Hong Kong ( who is there with you all in Shanghai) offered a look at how they are making steps or even leaps forward ... 'To see how we are using Web 2.0 on our learning platform - which gives all students a safe place to create their digital identities - go to the ESF home page and sign in with the guest account details as given on the page explore the web 2.0 folder for goodies - nothing new but it's what we like doing and also see how I have used a freebie java script editor to embed an RSS feed from my Furl site onto the home page - something your kids could probably do easily' ...

From parents to Local Authorities the constant worry about using web 2.0 applications is one of security and who will have access to what. In this litiginous society everyone wants to be safe and secure. A quick type into Google shows numerous conferences and articles seeking to clear or even muddy the water.

The State of the Net Conference has some interesting bits on 'child safety on the net'

Nancy Willard has a good grasp of things to think about.

In the UK the agency Becta has the responsibility to lead.

In the UK the Government announce a new review about e-Safety:

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said:

“Children and young people have faster, easier and more immediate access to online information than ever before. More and more children and young people have mobile phones and play video games in their spare time.

“These technologies bring our children new, fantastic opportunities and lots of fun but we need to balance this with the risks and worries that parents have of their children accessing inappropriate content.

“This Review is not about stopping children having fun or preventing them from taking full advantage of the educational, social and entertainment benefits that the internet and video games technologies offer. But it is about making sure they can do so safely, as far as possible, without being exposed to harmful or inappropriate material.”

Let us just take a look at blogging as a Web 2.0 example ...

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.

If you have not kept up with the Marin Country Day School's Trout Blog then you have missed an unfolding treat of really powerful education.
The story told in blog, video, poetry and song is a testament to the work of a dedicated teacher and a group of children who excitedly 'wanted to know'. An example of good practice education at its very best.

Subscribe to the podcast here and listen, watch and be enchanted... or simply go the blog ... enjoy !!

... and so to Podcasting ...and we will stick with 'educational' podcasting ( though it is a good bet that most podcasts will be educational in one way or another!)

Your views are urgently sought .... please !

How's this for a start:

Why Educational Podcasting?

  • Provides another way of sharing and transmitting audio for teaching and learning in schools and at home
  • Children and young people are able to record, produce and publish on the Internet podcasts of their very own
  • Tailored to any curriculum area
  • Can provide bespoke materials to support any learning situation
  • Provides instructional content to reinforce learning
  • Excellent for homework
  • Potential to support or extend the work of any pupil with special needs
  • Great community/school link potential
  • Useful for children who miss sessions/ illness etc
  • Useful for those with a reading difficulty or for English as a second or third language
  • Promotes a concept of ownership of materials
  • Promotes sustained effort in publishing for specific audiences
  • An easy vehicle for personalised learning.

Some Contexts

School weekly magazine

Reports of school visits on line

Development of collections of poetry

Collaborative work with other schools

Audio jargon busters

Information for parents

Information for new pupils

Historical interviews

Regular school sports reports

Summary …Podcasting has the potential to offer the following for personalised learning in schools:

  • creating audio material for learning "on demand", at anytime and anywhere
  • using differential materials that can be matched to the abilities, needs and motivation of identified children and young people
  • engaging in curriculum activities grounded in an emerging technology and integral to the world-wide communication revolution
  • providing curriculum-related teaching and learning in a wide range of contexts and in different locations both within and away from school
  • As with all technologies, podcasting has the potential for releasing the imagination of children, young people, their teachers and parents/carers.

Trawling through my various feeds I came across this interesting guide to podcasting from the world of education outside schooling but often referring to schools. More food for though. The podcast on the 'kineo' site by Donald Clark of Ufi is well worth the effort.

I like the idea that podcasts are pure content which help rather than distract

The University of Leicester in the UK is doing some interesting work in a study called IMPALA that takes podcasting into the realms of HE.

The thing about podcasting is that for it to work in a classroom context the technical issues have to be none existent and the software that is used has to be transparent, simple, quick and straightforward. So the question here is 'Is your podcasting software fit for purpose?' bearing in mind its use may well be about creating autonomous experiences for children. Anthony Evans, primary ICT consultant in Redbridge says: “if an application is going to take a long time to work out, or if the interface looks unfamiliar [teachers] will leave it to the tech teachers to do.” He continues, “teachers need something easy, something they can switch on and work out quickly”.

In my opinion such a piece of software is Podium from Softease. You can read more of Anthony's views on the Podium blog.


For a while now we have been thinking about how we can move people forward so that they will take advantage of the enormous potential that Web 2.0 apps offer and how we can make them safe and secure for users in educational contexts but also take into account the power that comes with publication and peer review etc.

Moving people forward is like herding cats ... not for the faint hearted but gives immense satisfaction. As the man says 'I wouldn't do nothing else.' (thanks to Tricia for this)

(The video just seemed appropriate ... we have no connection with EDS)

And we have made a start ... it is called 'Honeycomb'

What is it ?

• It is an online tool … delivered online, used online and accessible from anywhere at any time and is always 'up-to-date'. No CDs to load, no updates to install. Every time you log on you are working on the latest version.
• It is a safe tool as it exists in a secure environment for which access is customisable at a personal variety of levels
• It is a collaborative tool designed for users to work alongside each other on documents and ideas from wherever they are
• It is an engaging tool as it fits the current idiom of customisation and personalisation. It is ‘your’ tool… a users tool !
• It is a creativity tool in the hands of creative people who will think in spaces and communicate appropriately
• It is a community tool because ideas created in it are designed to be shared
• It is an easy tool to publish ideas with as access can be granted to anyone anywhere
• It is a tool designed for education to move forward from the one person - one recording system idea into a multi-collaborative, cooperative environment
• It is an easy to use intuitive tool where items are placed, moved, changed and adapted to suit the developing ideas
• It is personal to each and every students
• It is a tool that can and will be integrated into every aspect of educational life

It is a honeycomb ... each bit tessellating with each other bits, separate but totally integrated. It is not a 'mash up', a collection of apps in a carrier bag. It is an entity and works as such.

So to find out what the bees do go to Softease and discover ...

At the Conference seek out Eugenie Morley or Danielle Markland and whisper the code word 'Honeycomb' and find out more.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Web 2.0 comes to Scotland at TeachMeet07 with more than a vengeance to allow teachers to meet and talk ... this alongside the Scottish Learning Festival. This is a superb example of the blended nature of the whole idea where people are meeting F2F, blogging, adding to the wiki and entering Flash Meetings as they see fit.On his blog Ewan McIntosh explains the ideas behind an 'Unconference'


Friday, 7 September 2007

Pay Attention !

I am newly reminded of an interesting post that occured on Teacher Tube some time ago. It is important so I have repeated it again here. It first appeared on You Tube and then on Teacher tube... it should change practice !!

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WebSlides by Diigo

The idea of providing groups, whether teachers on courses, children in school so that they can easily continue working at home, or just interest groups with a selected list of web sites has been used extensively in a variety of ways I feel sure.

My methodology is to build a very simple blog and just list the sites in it. This has some advantages over using such sites as del.ic.ious for sharing as users don't need to be members, don't need to log on and those that are unsure don't need to do the password 'thing'. All they need is the url of the blog and they have access to chosen sites. Agreed that they can't actually add sites in unless you give them the rights to do so but the blog can be made reasonably secure by setting it so that comments are moderated and 'bots' eliminated.Some blog providers are better than others for educational purposes.

This blog set up for some PGCE students at Leicester University is an example of the sort of thing I mean.

Although Blogger is very easy to set up and use it has the disadvatage that there is a 'next blog' button on the top line which is fraught with opportunities (if you see what I mean).WordPress does not have such a function.

Today, however, I have discovered that Diigo have a really appealing new application for sharing web links with groups. It is called slides and is certainly worth a consideration in these heady Web 2.0 days.


Friday, 31 August 2007


Picked up from Joe Dale's blog this FREE event for podcasters this coming weekend in Birmingham ... looks as if it could open up some good ideas.

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Thursday, 30 August 2007

Learning 2.0 Conference Shanghai

The Learning 2.0 Conference in Shaghai is rapidly approaching!

Date: September 14-15-16, 2007
Location: Concordia International School
Doing “school” is changing more rapidly all the time. Technology is certainly one factor in these changes in education, the workplace, and life in general. As a result of innovations that we have all observed, students are more visually orientated and are considered digital natives to a growing degree. Educators see the implications of this and a need to re-define good teaching in response to this more dynamic environment. All agree that we must all expand our teaching/coaching/collaboration skills. Come join the search as we together build the future of schools.

There are some amazing speakers attending ( Alan November, Chris Smith, Will Richardson, Wes Fryer ...) and I feel that it will be a totally inspirational event ... unfortunately I will not be there. Invited to speak but now am advised that 'travel will not be in your best interests at this time.' However, I am going to 'do' my sessions by blog and live Skypecast for those who are interested in what I have to say ... I feel that this is entirely in kepping with the 'Web 2.0' ethos of a Conference that describes itself as 'Communication, Collaboration, Connection'

I have opened a blog to get things started.

As preliminary reading the article by Wes Fryer sets an interesting scene.


Thursday, 16 August 2007

Map of Future Forces Affecting Education

I am again indepted to Ewan McIntosh for this cartography from KnowledgeWorks ( don't know where he finds these nuggets from or how he has the time ?)
It would be interesting to translate it from the 'americanisms' to a the various UK education set ups and see how it supports ( or not) the economic developments in such projects as 'GLOW' or 'BSF'.

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Saturday, 4 August 2007


Terminology always interests me and so I am currently investigating the confusion of terms and the concepts behind 'mashups' and what they might mean to me and my use of social networking software (most of which I think are mashups). I come to think of mashups as a sort of the remote electronic version of a Swiss Army Knife.

So ... you take a couple of applications you want to combine and mash-them-up together. Ideas such as YouTube and Google Maps work together really well and allow you to patch videos on to a map showing origin or association ... Google Maps is good at mashups! Wikipedia has a good article on it pointing out some of the 'useful' ideas and my mind is working on getting to grips with the potential.

It seems to me that the idea here is to 'adopt, adapt and then innovate' or 'mix, match and mutate' might explain it better.


Are you green, white or black or a combination of these?

Have you discovered '' yet?

This is a black version of Google and claims to use less power because, it seems, black screens use 59 watts and nearly all white screens like the usual google one use 74 watts. So black is green and white isn't, if you see what I mean.

So if you have a yearning to save the planet ....

While we are on this subject did you know that it is more environmentatlly friendly to drive your car to the shops than it is to walk. It appears that, as food production is now so energy intensive, more carbon is emitted to provide the energy needed to produce the food that you eat to provide the calories for the walk than would be emitted from the car making the journey ! Have a read of Chris Goodall's book ' How to live a low carbon life'.


Thursday, 2 August 2007

Just you back it up now !!!

A brilliant one from Chris Smith of Shambles.

Just watch:

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Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Children's Fight Club - Panorama

Last evening's Panorama report on Children's Fight Club will have filled most people with horror and the gut reaction will be 'block, remove, stop, prosecute etc'. My view is that will be like Mickey in the Walt Disney version of the 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' chopping the broom in half. For each one blocked or stopped by 'authority' two more will spring up in its place.

I felt that part of the real answer came from the Rachel Whetstone of Google:
'it is up to the community who use the site to decide when something isinappropriate.'

This is realistic and about education ... but will it work ... it obviously didn't work in the cases the BBC chose to report. I can't help feeling that Panorama sometimes loses its perspective and chooses to make a stance rather than leaving us to make up our own minds about an issue. I haven't got over its presentation of WIFI yet with its accompanying throbbing red lights!


Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Second Life

I am alerted by my friend and colleague Dave to an article in Wired Magazine about Second Life.

I think that the article misses the point ... it tries to see it as a way for them to make money in a similar way to First Life ... they are trying to replicate what they know instead of innovate ... it is easily arguable that SL is, or could be, rather like the great Internet bubble that burst ... but the ones who were there first have already made their money and gone .... think My Space .V. Face book ... the 'players' such as the large commercials just don't get it .... it won't be about SL in the end it will be something else but SL will have spawned it .... so think 'Teflon and the space shuttle'.

The software for SL is changing almost daily ( probably bits are just falling off) that it is bound to evolve soon ... it is a developing experiment and there will be leaders and followers, winners and losers and who is to say that 'progress' always involves going forward.

The poet Ruth Padel says ' There is always a path not taken' ...... listen to the whispers

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Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Sometimes something comes along ...

Will Richardson has been blogging since July 2002 ... five years ago ... he saw the potential, saw the power and has kept on using it to motivate, inform and excite.

Currently he is at Alan November's summer extravaganza in Boston where, I feel sure, he will inspire another audience.

Read here and contribute.

... and then watch 'change the world with these technologies' and be prepared to be overwhelmed.

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Thursday, 12 July 2007

Firefox 3

A really interesting development in the Firefox range suggests that a collaboration between Mozilla and Google could make web applications work offline in the new Firefox 3 browser.

Google are already there with Google Gears, currently in Beta.

Eyes down for this way forward !


Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Wi-Fi ... no official worries

Following up on the Panorama programme about Wi-Fi and radiation worries I note that tucked away on page 7 of the 'Primary Teachers' magazine (that well known organ of the Dfcsf)there is a quote Wi-Fi: "No known risk"

You might like to read what the Health Protection Agency says about it ... just for the record.

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Thursday, 5 July 2007

Second Life

I had a very salutary experience last evening working with a group of people in 'Second Life'. The majority of the people there had experience of the way it all works and I thought that I had grasped some of the fundamentals but there came a point when I could not get a very simple idea. The chat moved on and the answers to my questions were coming up about three or four layers late and I got very frustrated.

I now know, from first hand, again, what it feels like to be in a mixed ability setting and be the one who can't. The frustration was enormous.

The very great thing about the session was that the supportiveness of the group saved the evening for me .... everyone helped out and there were wild (virtual) cheers when I at last got this very simple idea. I can only thank the group for their politeness and their patience in waiting for me to catch up.

But certainly food for thought in terms of preferred learning styles!

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Monday, 2 July 2007

Ewan McIntosh visits Ashbourne

A brilliant morning with Ewan talking about the world and everything ... new insights and new ideas as well as confirmation of views about access to real tools and creativity leading the way. Inspiring it was ... some of the ideas here:

How long until the skill set of users matches the power of the tools?
Listen to the whispers ... they are important!
Are you allowed to fail?
What would a podcast catcher look like?

... and then some links ...

Partners in Excellence

Check out Emily Fox ... and ... if you don't know why this is so superb think of the amount of time, energy, patience, dedication etc that goes into these activities and then wonder if we could harness just a bit of it !!

... and a whole lot more ...

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Saturday, 30 June 2007

Web 2.0 goes 'Periodic'

I am alerted by Chris Smith to an excellent poster that really made me smile and then think.

Have a look at the poster at the bottom right of the page or go here
to see the real thing.

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Saturday, 16 June 2007

Worries about Web 2.0 security

Whenever I talk to teachers or advisors about using Web 2.0 applications in curriculum contexts they invariably come up with worries about security. In a growingly litiginous society this is understandable but the worries should not provide barriers.

There are ways forward and I note that my good friend Peter Woodhead from Hong Kong offered a look at how they are making steps or even leaps forward ... 'To see how we are using Web 2.0 on our learning platform - which gives all students a safe place to create their digital identities - goto the ESF home page and sign in with the guest account details as given on the page explore the web 2.0 folder for goodies - nothing new but it's what we like doing and also see how I have used a freebie java script editor to embed an RSS feed from my Furl site onto the home page - something your kids could probably do easily' ...


'Any other name would be half as sweet'

Software guru Mike Matson (feel sure he would not mind me calling him that) and I are currently having a little professional spat at the use of the term 'Web 2.0' to describe what is happening at the moment in the escalating proliferation of tools to do things that you had never even thought of doing before you could ... if you get what I mean. He argues, and I actually think he is right that it is silly to give the idea whaich is just ' a bit more sophisticated than what we had before ' a numerical tag ... and I add ' especially as we didn't have 'Web 1.0' (did we?) and are we going to wait for 'Web 2.1' or even 'Web 3' ... still it does make you think what other might feel about this.

Discussing this with my friend Tricia has led to this 'informative' blog ... 'The Britannica Blog - where ideas matter' and an article ( in a blog - this is irony I think ) called 'Web 2.0: the Sleep of Reason'. The blog itself is worth a read but the comments are the best bits!

And when you have read Part 1 you can always read the sequel ... Part 2

This blog also directs me ( and so does Tricia) to the blog of Clay Shirky and that of Andrew Keen.


Sunday, 10 June 2007

Web 2.0 from Hong Kong

My good friend Peter Woodhead from Hong Kong sent me this link to where he stores the new things he finds out about Web 2.0 .... it is getting difficult to keep up !!


Farewell, Fish Friends

If you have not kept up with the Marin Country Day School's Trout Blog then you have missed an unfolding treat of really powerful education. I have only just remembered it and having checked out my feeds discover that the 'troutlings' were released into the lake on April 16th !!

The story told in blog, video, poetry and song is a testament to the work of a dedicated teacher and a group of children who excitedly 'wanted to know'. An example of good practice education at its very best.

Subscribe to the podcast here and listen, watch and be enchanted... or simply go the blog ... enjoy !!

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Friday, 8 June 2007

Radio 2 goes Web 2.0 !

My thanks to Samantha for alerting me to the fact that Chris Evans in his 'Drive Time' programme on Tuesday 5th June ran a two hour 'Lets get to grips with Web 2.0' all the way through his show.

You can listen to it here if you are quick or you could subscribe to the summary podcast!
Not for the early adopters but just shows that the word on social software is really out and about ( if you think Radio 2 is out and about ).


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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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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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

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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Friday, 13 April 2007

Teacher Tube

A relatively new site that has educational video content that is 'secure' in that users are urged to keep it 'clean' and report quickly anything inappropriate.
A really good start would be for you to watch and listen to 'Have you been paying attention?'

The message from the producer is: ' Since most of today's students can appropriately be labeled as "Digital Learners", why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?This presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching.'
There is a superb bit towards the end exemplifying the use of podcasting as an essential educational tool !

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Monday, 2 April 2007

Emerging Technologies for Learning

This new publication from Becta is good reading for those wanting to get to grips with the implications of social software in an educational context. You can even have your say or review the say of others.

As a sample ... this from 'Emerging trends in social softwaref or education' by Lee Bryant, Headshift

'IT functions in schools, just as in small businesses,
must focus on providing underpinning services and
infrastructure rather than seeking to control how people
use them. This means more diversity of software
and hardware rather than top-down standardisation
decisions that lock users into tools that are out-dated
by the time they are implemented. Interoperability
does not require central control, as the proliferation
of RSS and microformats have proved. Maintaining a
sensible degree of external security is fine, as long as
this does not stop people from doing the basics, such
as consuming web services or linking with the outside
world. But inside the network, experimentation and
innovation should be encouraged. Anything less runs
the risk of turning educational IT into an irrelevant
backwater that is far below the expectations of young
people that they simply do their learning elsewhere.'

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