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iPad first touch

Written by David on April 19th, 2010.      0 comments

Today I had my first play with an iPad.  I have been building up reservations about it in the days prior.  Comments from Fiona in the last post pointed out that the unit is a content reciever and not a content creator.  Content creation and publishing  is what we want for education.  The chatter seems to be more about what it can not do and what it is lacking, rather than what it can do. Today I tried to use tools such as http://vocaroo.com and http://fotobabble.com and the lack of an Adobe Flash facility on the iPad rendered these sites useless.  However, on the fotobabble page I was prompted to download the fotobabble app from the app store.   Online tools such as Vocaroo and Fotobabble are brilliant  for students to create and publish content quickly and would be the kind of utilities that I would want to use with a tool so mobile as the iPad.

It is the locked in nature of it that worries me, all programs to be installed on the iPad will either be created or vetted by Apple.  Today as part of the discussions about its functionality for education purposes, or lack of it, we were developing workarounds using Drop Box etc.  These solutions are clunky at best.  The iPad can not surf freely due to the Flash embargo, maybe I am missing the functionality point here and am wanting to bend the device to meet a need it was never intended to meet, but still, not supporting Flash?  I have heard that Google docs can be viewed but not edited, what is the reasoning behind this?  I had hoped that this tool would prove to be a boon for education, but in this first iteration it is too locked down, why I am not sure, other than pandering to my dark Orwellian marketing theories that I could entertain on behalf of Apple.

If the machine can enable content creation, if the installation of third party software via the Internet is enabled,  if open surfing to Flash enabled sites occurs, if it gets a camera and a USB port, the iPad still has the potential to be a real winner.  As you can see from my images it is smaller than an average NZ school exercise book and almost as thick, it is light and very intuitive to use the tools and apps we have been allowed to install were fun, but not educationally significant, early days I know.  I liked it.  I liked its feel, weight and interface.  It lacks the educational substance, and freedom that I personally desire.  But who knows by the time the 3rd black sweatered and overly orchestrated launch comes round it might be a tool that has education potential without clunky work arounds.


New term, new technology, new dawn for education?

Written by David on April 18th, 2010.      0 comments


I am working in two different schools tomorrow.  In the morning I am working with teachers on an induction programme I have developed to get new staff up to speed with the systems and technologies specific to that school.  The aim of the programme is to ensure that the individual teachers get up to speed as fast as they can, to ensure that students do not experience a time and service delivery lag as one teacher swaps out of a class and a new one walks in.

In the afternoon I start working with a new client.  We will be working on their e-learning initiatives for the rest of the year and specifically focusing on 2011.  We will be starting the ball rolling by getting the e-learning policies and proceedures in place.  Getting the foundation right is critical for e-learning success and again I have developed a range of tools to guide senior management through this process.

However, our afternoon is likely to be hugely overshadowed by the new iPad that the school has just purchased via the US.  The school and I are very keen to see how we can exploit this tool for the education market and we believe that we are the first school in NZ to implement this tool.  I have already been approached by an iPhone developer who is keen to also develop apps that can be distributed via the app store education specific software tailored for the iPad.  Tomorrow should be fun.


Interface Magazine article

Written by David on April 17th, 2010.      0 comments


The latest edition of Interface Magazine is about to hit all schools in New Zealand in time for the start of term 2.  In this edition of the magazine is my latest article written for them.  You can read it here http://www.interfacemagazine.co.nz/articles.cfm?c_id=26&id=432 The article discusses the huge potential that gaming and problem solving has in the classroom.  I have just spent a week in the South Island on the westcoast in Greymouth and Westport working with students and teaching them how to problem solve through using Gamemaker as a vehicle.  I have encouraged those students who I worked with to send me their completed work and have promised to publish their work onto the wiki that I produced for the event.  One student has already sent his work through and you can see his work and download it for your own gaming pleasure from the following wiki:  http://westcoast2010.wikispaces.com/Gamemaker Whilst you are there you might also like to look at some of the other work that I did whilst I was there.  I am currently uploading to http://blip.tv a video of one of the presentations I made and will embed this into the relevant wiki page in due course.


Working the coast

Written by David on April 14th, 2010.      0 comments

I have spent the last three days in Greymouth.  I had been invited down to the Westcoast by Gurden Consulting as a result of them seeing one of my presentations at Ulearn last October.  I flew into Hokitika on Sunday in what has to be the smallest commercial aircraft I have ever travelled in!  The first officer was doing everything, welcoming us on board, closing the doors etc.  It was a narrow, short, noisy turbo prop plane that did its job and flew me from Christchurch over the southern alps to the west coast.

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Once in Greymouth, via Hokitika airport I have been working every day.  I have run four student workshops on Gamemaker and have also run a single workshop on Pencil Animation.  In addition I have also given two presentations, one to the local community and business leaders of the Greymouth district and one to a cohort of local teachers.  My presentations can be seen on the wiki that  I have made for the occasion.  My exploits on the coast have also made it into the local paper the Greymouth Evening Star!

After my final presentation today, I have been driven up to Westport to repeat the program again.   I love this part of New Zealand and it was a real treat to drive up the coast as the westerly whipped up the surf on the Tasman and watch the sun go down.  I am normally driving, so this time it was a treat to look and not concentrate.  I saw plenty of Weka on the way up.  It is a magic drive.

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Tomorrow we start again.





ACEC2010 day 3

Written by David on April 11th, 2010.      0 comments

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The final day of these events is always grueling.  Usually made the more so because the final day usually follows the conference dinner the night before and ACEC2010 is no exception.  Before the final keynote presentation there was lots of auditorium chatter about the excessive exploits of the delegates at the dinner.  I did not attend this dinner so can only speculate on the excesses, but there was evidence of plenty of sore heads and a finish line mentality.

Gary Stager gave the last keynote (you can watch it here.) and said in advance that he was going to be controversial, and he was in equal measures both controversial and entertaining.  He provided no solutions but posed lots of questions.  In one particular salvo he stated that Schools in the form of organization and systems get in the way of what computers can truly do for students and as a result we celebrate the mediocre student outcomes as the work of genius.

Time and again at this conference presenters and delegates alike have all agreed that what is powerful in student use of computers is that content is king.  I am not sure that I have heard the word e-learning in any presentation.   Students need to create content and produce new material of their own and publish it.  This is such and obviously elemental statement it begs the bigger question, why are we not succeeding at this?

Chris Betcher in his presentation said that school should be like Mythbusters, what a great idea, it should, what stops us from creating these kinds of learning environments universally in our classrooms.  I know that some do, but these enlightened ones are the rare exceptions.

This has been my first ACEC conference, but it will not be my last, I thoroughly enjoyed the stimulation that the keynotes and breakouts provided.  As I have said no answers, no solutions but lots of challenging questions that I am going to convert into solutions and answers for our students in New Zealand.  Perth 2012 and the next ACEC conference can not come soon enough.  I may even throw my hat in the ring to share back to the community.


ACEC2010 day 2 update.

Written by David on April 9th, 2010.      0 comments

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My planned final session was not appropriate for me  and so I walked out and went to the plenary hall to see what was going on in there.  The presenter, who I have no idea who she was was presenting on creating collaborative learning environments for students, something that I have a lot of experience with.  It was a good presentation and at the end of it asked a question and shared information about my own ventures.  All very urn-remarkable, except that as I was leaving I bumped into Albin Wallace.  We had last met in Prague in 2008 when I presented a paper at the IFIP conference with Helen Hardie.  It was such a surprise to bump into him as he is based in London and is at ACEC2010 to present his own paper on day three.


ACEC2010 day two reflections - “Its the pedagogy, stupid!”

Written by David on April 8th, 2010.      0 comments

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Time and again over the last couple of days the presenters and keynote speakers have all moved away from the shock of the new type approach, i.e. new tools, toys and tricks, the bling of ICT and peeled this away to ask us to look at empowering students and  teachers alike.  It is as though the last several years have been a process of removing the layers of an onion to get at the heart of what e-learning is.  This is an interesting point, because in recent years we have liked to precede words with i or e to give them cachet of techieness or educool.

Today has been a continual mantra of its not the tools its what you do with them.  Sylvia Martinez started the morning by challenging us with the statement that if what we are currently doing with ICT (the purchasing lots of kit model) and it is not working, then do not do more of the same.  We need to look at how we are using the ICT tools in our class and ask what is effective.  For me this was a bit of an ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ moment.  If just putting equipment in a room and concentrating on training staff how to use the equipment is not having an impact on learning, then we need to concentrate on the e-learning model.

This brings me neatly to the point where I can start to allude the much longer post I need to write.  For many teachers there is much confusion over what this e-learning thing is.  To which I am going to say from now on, drop the ‘e’ and you will have a clearer picture.  Now lets pick a tool identify its educational potential and use it well, once this has been mastered, we can add another and so the L4YER C4KE can  be made.


ACEC2010 - day one reflections

Written by David on April 8th, 2010.      0 comments

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Written offline - 7 April - Hotel has no Internet!

After a grueling day one at ACEC2010 with two keynote presentations and seven breakout sessions, a common theme has made itself abundantly clear.  The key to e-learning success is not based around increased capital outlay on the latest and greatest technology, rather successful integration should be based on a rather more mundane and fiscally more attainable target, sound pedagogy.  However, therein lies the problem.  Schools are finding it easier to purchase new technologies that promise to deliver the e-learning nirvana of integration rather than attack the pedagogical issues of delivery.  Alan November reminded us of this early in the day, saying that we need to ensure that the plan for teaching and learning that currently exists within schools is the right one, before we layer on the technologies, which can then mask the inappropriateness of the underlying pedagogy.

Whilst this message is not new to me, it has made me think all day long about the approach that I should be taking in a school as a facilitator.  I am working on a post as alluded to in a previous post based on a conversation that I had whilst flying over the Melbourne and reflects the kinds of conversations that I have regularly in schools as a facilitator.  The conversations are loosely based around the following kind of statement:  “Well we have purchased the equipment, now what? What is e-learning and how can I make it work in my class?


ACEC 2010 day 1

Written by David on April 7th, 2010.      0 comments

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The opening morning has gone well.  Alan November in person this time and not via Skype as at LATS10 expanded on some of the ideas that he shared with us earlier at Rotorua.  The basic thrust from all of the presenters is not about the technology but what you do with it.  Alan asked us to consider the content of what we are teaching and whether by simply adding technology to that equation we are creating a genuinely engaging learning environment for our students.  What we need to capture is student voice, they need to be the creators of content and we need to become the facilitators of student learning.  The three other sessions in their own way to a lesser or greater extent echoed these views.

I am currently working on my L4yer C4ke post, which will deal with some of these issues, issues that have been kicking around in the back of my head for a few months now and were kick started with a discussion that I had on the way over yesterday.  Now that we have got the tools and access to the Internet, what do we do now?

More on this and other thoughts about the ACEC2010 later.



Journey over: ACEC2010 can now begin

Written by David on April 7th, 2010.      0 comments

Written offline on 6 April. Uploaded when WiFi at conference allows. Uneventful trip via Sydney only negative point was sharing my seat volume with a guy whose shoulders spilled over three seats! Made negotiating meals a tad tricky, but as this was only on the Sydney to Melbourne leg, it was not too bad, if this had been a long haul flight I would not have been too pleased at the prospect of sharing my allocated volume of space with someone. Despite the physical detractions however I was free to think more about my ‘Augmented Reality” project and how I can adapt the already existing apps for an educational purpose. I have a clear vision of the how it would work in the classroom, I am now just joining up the dots with the various free tools that are available for this to happen and mashing them together into an easy to use end product for teachers and students alike.



David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE


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