Tag: Open Source Schools

Things I Learned This Week – #13

Image CC BY Pink Sherbert Photography

This week I returned from the UAE only to head down to London and then immediately back up to Doncaster for the Open Source Schools Think Tank (#osschools) and TeachMeet Yorkshire & Humber 2010 (#tmyh2010), respectively. They were both great events and I was very kindly put up by Dughall McCormick (@dughall) on Friday night, allowing me to attend the TeachMeet. ๐Ÿ˜€

http://delicious.com/dajbelshaw/TILTW13
(43 bookmarks)

I’m delighted to have seen references on other blogs to this series of weekly posts and I’m glad people find them so useful!

Tech.

  • I don’t often disagree with the conclusions Lifehacker comes to, but saying that “[Google] Chrome for OS X is still much too young for full-time adoption” whereas Firefox is great is not true in my opinion. One of the reasons I switched to Chrome (whilst still in Alpha!) was not only because of its speed but because Firefox was crashing several times a day, despite reinstalling, etc.
  • Want to jazz-up the ‘new tab’ page in Google Chrome? Try Incredible Start Page:

Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

  • Using video game-style ‘experience points’ instead of grades in school? <strokes beard> Interesting…
  • Need stories for deaf students or those with partial hearing? Try Signed Stories!
  • Want a (very) simply guide to getting started with Google Apps Education Edition? Try here. And then you may want some ideas on how to use it:

Data, Design & Infographics

  • According to a 1984 paper cited by Nathan Yau at FlowingData, scatter charts are the easiest to decode in terms of representations of quantitative data. Bar charts and pie charts come next. Although probably not 3D ones produced by M$ PowerPoint… ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • It turns out, somewhat unsurprisingly, that if you’re a kid you don’t want the misfortune to have been born in Afghanistan. It kind of affects your life chances:

Misc.

Quotations

It is easier to stay out than get out. (Mark Twain)

It’s all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation. (Dr. Rob Gilbert)

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. (Henry Ford)

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down… (Arnold H. Glasow)

It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. (Charles Darwin)

How to move forward with Open Source: a teacher’s perspective

On Friday I’m in London helping facilitate a session as part of the Open Source Schools project. I was asked by Miles Berry to write a short ‘provocation paper’ which is shared below (be sure to click ‘Fullscreen’). I’d be interested in your thoughts and feedback! ๐Ÿ˜€

Open Source Schools – Open Source Software: an overview

Cooliris wall

Click here to jump straight to the presentation

I’m down at Felsted School, Essex, tomorrow at the invitation of my good friend and conspirator collaborator, Nick Dennis. The Heads of ICT departments from independent schools in the area get together every so often to share and discuss ideas. I’ve been asked to do a presentation on Open Source Software – presumably because I’m involved in the Becta-funded Open Source Schools project. ๐Ÿ™‚

Although I’ve tinkered with Prezi as a presentation tool in the past, I’ve decided I’m not a big fan as it’s a bit clunky and slow when putting your presentation together. It’s also completely ‘closed’ meaning that not only is it against the underpinning of the presentation, but other people (including me in future!) can’t re-use elements of your presentation.

A few months ago I read Alan Levine’s post Tricking out Cooliris as a presentation tool. I thought it looked cool, forgot to experiment, and then forgot about it. That is until last week when I saw that Alec Couros and Dean Shareski had used the method in their presentation entitled 2 guys. Suitably impressed, I decided to have a go. :-p

It all looked very complicated at first until I discovered that Cooliris have a program called PicLens Publisher that does all the hard work for you. All you need to do is save your presentation as a series of images, drag-and-drop the images onto PicLens Publisher and it produces the HTML page and RSS feed required.

Once that was done, all I needed to do was customize the HTML page and upload the folder via FTP to my website. Done! ๐Ÿ˜€

Update: Dai Barnes captured the audio using his Livescribe. Check it out here!

Open Source Schools curriculum meeting

I spent yesterday afternoon with a like-minded group of educators who are part of the Becta-funded Open Source Schools project. We spent four hours (!) discussing the ins-and-outs of what educatorsย  want and need from us. We were joined virtually by a number of educators from the FlashMeetingย  (see replay). In the spirit of being open and sharing, here’s an overview of what was discussed! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • We’re concerned with not replicating what is already available elsewhere in the Open Source community. Our focus should, and is, on pedagogical application of Open Source Software (OSS).
  • Starting with the half-term after Easter, we shall have a ‘push’ in a given subject area. This will not be at the expense of providing resources, links and discussion for other subject areas. We have a number of historians who are part of the project (including myself), and so will be kicking things off with either History or Design and Technology, where teachers have also expressed a strong interest.
  • The idea of ‘having a competition’ was raised at various points at the meeting. Usually it was in an attempt to get students engaged. I had misgivings about this, especially after Clarence Fisher’s excellent recent post.
  • As would be expected, there was much discussion of Moodle. I’m not against it, I’m just not a huge fan. The problem is with Moodle is that there’s a fair learning curve, and it’s best deployed as a whole-school learning platform. I’m more concerned with getting teachers, students and parents using OSS they can install easily and locally. :-p
  • I floated the idea of having posters that could be downloaded from the site and printed off by educators who want to promote OSS and the Open Source Schools website. We discussed getting professional designers to come up with these, but eventually decided that user-generated ones (after exemplars) would beย  more in keeping with the community spirit.
  • I mentioned that a good way to get parents engaged might be to show ways in which they can control their children’s access to the Internet at home. We need to explore this more as existing OSS solutions we could think of are difficult to deploy on a single machine. I suggested OpenDNS, but it turns out that this is free, but not Open Source. ๐Ÿ™
  • We discussed how to get teachers started with OSS. I pointed out the fact that our unique selling point is pedagogical use of OSS, not just being a one-stop shop for everything Open Source! To this end, we’re not going to be providing step-by-step guides on how to download and install programs (unless we’re specifically asked to, of course…)
  • It was agreed that video is a powerful medium, and that 5-minute TeachersTV-style examples of OSS being used in an educational context would be useful. This could take the form of screencasts (created using Wink, for example) or videos recorded and uploaded to Archive.org. These would be created by educators on a voluntary basis (after being seeded with some examples) instead of being of broadcast-quality by film crews parachuted into schools!

If you’d like to get involved in the Open Source Schools project, please head over to the website. We’re keen for as many people to get involved as possible and it’s far from an exclusive club.

See you over there! ๐Ÿ˜€

BETT 2009, TeachMeet & and iPhone misfortunes

(photos from the TeachMeet BETT 2009 Flickr pool)

I’m on the train back from BETT 2009. I did my 5-minute slot on using Linux-powered netbooks as part of an Open Source Schools presentation this morning, the reason for my visit. In total, I only managed about 30 minutes ‘on the floor’ visiting stands. That suited me fine! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The rest of the time I spent meeting people I only knew online through Twitter, etc., new folk and those I know both online and offline. I only just got to London Olympia in time for TeachMeet due to a combination of the Piccadilly Line being useless and my losing iPhone at the BETT registration desk. Fortunately, it was handed in to the conference organizers in perfect condition! As soon as I entered the room I recognised lots of edtech people – Josรฉ Picardo, Lisa Stevens, Tom Barrett, Joe Rowing, Dai Barnes, Josie Fraser, Ollie Bray, the list went on and on…

What really pleased me more than people just coming up and introducing themselves as being the real-world version of what I only knew as online avatars, but those who came to thank me. One, Chris from gr8ict.com thanked me for a guide to ripping DVDs I produced during my teacher training in 2004/5! It’s always nice to find out that what you’veย  done has been worthwhile and made a difference. ๐Ÿ™‚

TeachMeet was even bigger and better than that at BETT last year. Hats off to the organizers (including Ian Usher and Drew Buddie) for that! There was a screen dedicated to online activity (tweets, blog posts, etc.) that contained hashtags (such as #tmbett09) relating to the TeachMeet, tracked using Monitter. Ian Usher announced at one point during proceedings that it was the fourth most popular hashtag on the whole of Twitter at that point! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m not going to go into detail about who presented on what at the TeachMeet. Suffice to say that I got a chance to plug EdTechRoundup‘s weekly FlashMeetings, Ian Stuart presented virtually from Islay on Education2020, and I discovered the following websites and resources:

  • MirandaNet’s Braided Learning E-Journal – looks like a handy professional development resource.
  • Mathtrain – an Maths website using screencasts produced using TechSmith‘s excellent Jing application.
  • NATE: making hard topics easier to teach with ICT – The National Association for the Teaching of English’s excellent microsite with great examples of using ICT to enhance learning.
  • TeachingMusic.org.uk – This is a website to connect music teachers and encourage them to use Web 2.0 applications. David Ashworth made me laugh by asking the audience to raise their hand if they were a music teacher. No-one did. He then produced the quote of BETT 2009: “See! That goes to show what I’m dealing with here. We’re not talking Lego here, we’re talking Duplo.” Classic!
  • Learning Event Generator – this is a great idea from the new tools website – gives something to do and then a way to do it (randomly). Good for ‘outside the box’ ideas!
  • Comicbrush – Ollie Bray showed the ways he’s been using this application to create cartoon-like images, somewhat similar to Comic Life for the Mac. The 3 witches scene from Macbeth in Manga and text speak? Quality!

The TeachMeet09 BETT wiki has links provided by both those who did and did not get a chance to present. The above links are only my highlights. :-p

After TeachMeet there was TeachEat at Pizza Express, where I sat, I’m a little ashamed to say, with those I already knew rather than making new acquaintances. Must. Do. Better. Still, it was a good laugh and, sitting with the Open Source Schools co-presenters allowed us to talk for the first time face-to-face what we had only discussed online up to that point.

This morning, Miles Berry, Michelle Walters, Josรฉ Picardo and I presented on the Becta-funded Open Source Schools project. As soon as the presentation – too large to upload via on-train wi-fi – is uploaded, it will appear embedded below…

I think it went well. People certainly seemed very interested and plenty came to ask lots of questions afterwards. I then stayed on for Terry Freedman and Miles Berry‘s presentation What are your students learning when you’re not looking? Miles’ literature review was excellent, and will definitely help inform my Ed.D. studies. Their presentation, they assured the audience, will appear on their respective blogs. ๐Ÿ˜€

A cursory glance around the area nearby the Club Room in which we’d been presenting with Richard Woofenden, fellow History teacher, was followed with a meeting with a couple of representatives from the BBC. They’d recorded our Open Source Schools presentation and want to work with us in developing an exciting new section of the BBC website about Open Source Schools. More details to follow in subsequent blog posts!

Straight after that I met the inimitable Drew Buddie and was shocked to see his the cracked screen on his iPhone. Somebody had accidentally stood on it when it was in his coat pocket when it was on the floor during TeachMeet. ๐Ÿ™

Finally, I remembered that my Head had asked if I could look at any new technologies that would make registration at our (proposed) new VI Form easier. I managed to (just) have time to visit Aurora, providers of a biometric facial recognition system. Although it may seem somewhat paradoxical given the amount of my life I share online, I’m very much pro-privacy, so I’m still in two minds as to whether to pass details on to my Head. We’ll see…

Overall, my experience of London was much more positive than usual – probably because I spent most of my time conversing, thinking, and linking! ๐Ÿ˜€

BETT 2009 and EdTechRoundup

TeachMeet09 @ BETTI’m off to BETT 2009 on Friday, one of the largest educational technology-related trade fairs in the world. This year I’m speaking about my use of Linux-powered netbooks as part of a Becta-funded Open Source Schools project of which I’ve been part. Last year, if you remember, I spoke with Futurelab about barriers and enablers with regard to the adoption of educational technology, and in particular Web 2.0 tools, in schools.

If you’d like to see me and others from the project in action, come to the seminar on Saturday 17 January at 10.45am in the Club Room!

I’ve been granted cover for my one ICT group on Friday afternoon, meaning I’ll be able to get from Doncaster to London in time for the TeachMeet. Last year’s was great and I not only got the chance to do a 2-minute nanopresentation about EdTechRoundup (thus officially launching it), but met lots of great people for the first time. I can remember Lisa Stevens and Jo Rhys-Jones accosting me and talking as if they’d known me for years because they read my blog! I can remember meeting Josรฉ Picardo for the first time at the ‘TeachEat’ meal at Pizza Express afterwards, and having a debate with Ian Grove-Stephensen about the future of schools. In fact, I met so many people there for the first time that I feel like I’ve known for years! ๐Ÿ˜€

This year, if I get a chance to do another nanopresentation at TeachMeet (people are randomly selected using the ‘fruit machine’ from ClassTools.net) I’m going to give an update as to how far we’ve come with EdTechRoundup and hopefully recruit even more regulars. :-p

If you’re heading to BETT 2009 on Friday or Saturday and want to say hello in person, please get in touch via Twitter (@dajbelshaw) or the contact form.

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