Monday, November 24, 2008

Manaiakalani - It's about the 'hook'

It's been a while coming, but I have finally made some time to create a post explaining why the project I am currently facilitating is called Manaiakalani....
The name for our project has been taken from the name given to Maui's fish hook - the tool used for the biggest fishing project ever! For anyone unfamiliar with the story of Maui fishing up the North Island of New Zealand, this animation by Thomas le Bas should give you the idea
For a number of years we have been aware that
carefully chosen, cutting edge technologies can be used as a powerful hook to lure our students into engaging with the curriculum. So when we came together as a group of schools to apply for government funding from an EHSAS initiative - which aims to raise student achievement outcomes and increase engagement in literacies through eLearning integration- Maniakalani was chosen as an extremely apt name.
The concept of technologies as a hook really began to take shape in March 2006 when we were interviewed by Darren Greenwood of CIO magazine about our podcasting project, KPE, and the magazine created the graphic to the left to depict our idea. This was further developed last year during my research project titled 'The Lure of Podcasting'.
No matter where one travels in the Western world the underachieving tail of the school population using standardised testing is predominantly found in schools from low socio-economic backgrounds. And our Cluster (District) of schools involved in this project has been no exception as all our schools are Decile 1a . So the symbolism of a powerful AND effective hook was adopted for our project.
In future posts I will talk more about what the hooks are and how we are trying to identify them, but early findings seem to indicate that they are a combination of compelling technologies and the knowledge of an authentic audience. And to be effective the hook needs to be part of a carefully constructed pedagogy of improvement. More about that next post....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Further Feedjit Developments

Gotta hand it to the guys at Feedjit - their attention to detail makes their widgit a 'must have' for educators at least. Back in June I was blogging their praises as they responded to user requests and made significent improvements. But it is great to see them managing to locate Auckland, New Zealand on their map and provide a service that will be useful to people far away from the halls of blogging power. Feedjit blogs popular with Auckland readers today is a very interesting read in itself and it makes us particularly proud to see the work of our 5 year old (very cute) students is 11th in the popularity stakes today. Howzat! And I notice that the thing we requested back in June has finally happened - Auckland is recognised as a city and the whole country is no longer labelled in one conglomerate. If you run a blog with school kids I can't recommend the Feedjit widgits highly enough. Google Analytics and the like are great for in depth analysis, but the visual motivation for kids of measle maps and international flags appearing on their blogs is very powerful. Thanks Myles from TamakiToday for pointing the changes out to me today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Analysing your Audience

Analysing your Audience - no degree required!
Most people who go to the effort of developing an online public space, whether adult or child, begin to develop curiosity about whether anyone is looking at it. And if they are, then who are these people and why do they choose to view this page out of all the millions on the internet. It seems to be a pretty common experience that the first time someone mentions that they read your page or blog you experience a feeling of surprise. Did you? Why did you do that? And I think that many of us who have started up a page with a particular audience in mind have discovered that that there are a number of people outside our target audience who are also interested.
So how do you find out about your audience?
It is dead easy actually. In a previous post I wrote about Feedjit and the graphic way it alerts us to who has been on the web page - and gives us a few details along the way. But if you really want some information for free, then Google Analytics is a must have. It's one of those tools you sign up for and you get a piece of code to place on your web pages. This code sends information back to Google about about your visitors - things like where they come from, what site they were on when they came, how many times they have visited your pages, how long they spent there, what they were searching for if they came from a search engine etc.
It is not as difficult or geeky to do as you might think, and lots of tutorials are available on YouTube if you can't follow Google's own instructions!
Once it becomes active you visit your Google Analytics account and discover more data than most of us could possibly want (unless our web page is part of our business). You can export data in a variety of formats, incorporate it with Google Earth, and get reports sent to you or anyone you choose. And if you are a teacher working with students on a website or blog you have a wealth of data available for lots of statistical analysis fun.
It should come with a warning though - this analysis stuff can become addictive!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Authentic Audience

We use the term "Authentic Audience" a lot when defining what our Manaiakalani cluster is about. We talk about our students having an authetic audience for their writing and for the digital learning objects they produce from their writing. It is at the heart of our vision statements defining what we are about. One of the ways we are endeavouring to improve the literacy outcomes of our decile 1 students, many of whom are from non Engish speaking backgrounds, is to motivate them to write by helping them establish an authentic audience for their writing.
I was pondering this as I prepared one of my presentations for ULearn08 recently. As I was looking through my slides a discussion popped up on Twitter briefly about the use of this term. It is not something we 'carelessly fling around' as we describe what we are setting out to achieve with our students.

We have a very simple definition and a deliberate plan of attack to help students grow one.

An authentic audience is people who choose to listen to you.
And if they pay to listen to you then I guess they are even more authentic!
By this definition most audiences for student literacy outcomes in particular at school are not authentic; they are captive audiences. The class who is forced to listen while a student reads out a story, the assembly of students who have to watch what is happening on the stage, the staff who have to listen to the principal at a staff meeting...

But when we start talking about their work published on television, an area I started working in a decade ago, or the podcasts/movies/blogs etc published on the web - then we are talking about an authentic audience. This audience has the power of the remote or the mouse to surf on the second they lose interest. They are an authentic audience. And if they linger long enough to leave some feedback or a trace of their presence then they are a powerfuly authentic audience.
Last year when I had the opportunity to research the impact of the KPE podcast on student learning the survey responses over and over referred to the significance of knowing people were choosing to listen to them as a motivator for the reading and writing they needed to do to create a podcast episode. And it should not be surprising to us in this YouTube (subtitled 'Broadcast Yourself') age that the global and unknown audience was the most important to the students in the research sample.
There is a lot teachers can do to help our students reach an authentic audience with their writing or the digital learning objects they produce. We have co-constructed a pathway over a number of years which builds a foundation for this to occur. Within the school there is the daily television show where they can begin to experience an interested audience, though that is not an authentic one by our definition. The next stage, parents and community, are more of a proud audience - but they are definitely the beginning of an authentic audience. It is when their work appears on public televsion, on iTunes and on their blogs that students really begin to experience this. People who have chosen to listen to them.
If you haven't left a message of encouragement for a kid recently, start today. There are a number of student blogs on the sidebar to the left and oodles more out there. Take up a 30 day challenge. For thirty days visit 30 different student blogs and leave them a comment. You could change their lives - or at least their attitude to literacy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Power of Collaboration

Last year the Time4 Online conference here in New Zealand explored collaborative online learning as one of the themes. I had the opportunity to contribute a workshop called "KPE - An example of collaborative online learning". One of the points I made during this was that although student collaboration plays a significant part during the KPE podcasting process, most of the collaboration occurs offline. Particularly when compared with the experiences we read about Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis' students having in their Flat Earth projects, or with the ways our students participate in the Rock Our World projects. During 2007 one of the collaborative opportunities the Pt England School podcasters had was to work with a group of students from Stanley Bay School in Devonport, Auckland. Their teacher, Stephen Grady, brought a group across to visit so they could learn from the PES students how to create a podcast and the learning experience was wonderful on both sides.
Recently the kids from Pt England have had the opportunity to pay a return visit as the kids from Stanley Bay have become New Zealand authors by publishing their own book of short stories - and KPE is about podcasting NZ authors. So I had the fun last week of taking four students to see how the other half lives - or at least goes to school- and record a podcast with them about their book.
It was quite an experience for the students from a Decile 1a school to travel across the harbour bridge to this Decile 10 school and spend the morning there. The school was a warm and inviting place and the friendliness and hospitality of the students was outstanding. They quickly made the four Pasifika visitors feel quite at home and after showing them around the school they all went out to play with the rest of the school. After morning tea, recording the podcast was easily accomplished and promises have been made to collaborate further in the future.
The discussions in the car on the way home were most interesting as the kids had all kinds of positive observations to make about their experience. With the constant and imperative focus on literacy in our school and cluster it was interesting that one of the stand-outs for them was recognizing how extremely articulate the SBS youngsters are. "Their sentences are full of big words", "They have a wide vocabulary" and "They talk like dictionaries" emerged from the discussion.
But the one that really had me chuckling (and recognising the different worlds we inhabit) was this.... "They even talk like that in the playground"
Long live collaboration!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google Font

the text you want using the colourful Google font online. Simply go to and type in the word(s) you want to googlify, click create logo, and it is all done for you. Download and use it as you please. Thanks to Ken Shelton from the GTA for this tip.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This post should come with a warning: 100% Pure New Zealand Advert following....
For the past week or more as I worked in my office at Pt England School I have been hearing the kids down the corridors rehearsing for the big cultural event happening on Tuesday night this week. As well as performances from all the culture groups in the schools there are a couple of whole school items. One of them has been a bit tricky to learn and Max (music teacher) has put technology to work and created an 'iKaraoke' style video which Andrea (ICT teacher) plays on the television network,P.E.N.N. , everyday so the kids can sing along and practice in their classrooms. The cool thing is that you hear it up and down the corridors as everyone in their classes is singing along while it is on their TVs. So I have had 'Aotearoa - New Zealand, the place I want to be..." rattling around in my head all week - as you do- thanks to the kids from PES.

Thursday morning Russell and I took 2 plane flights and a hire car ride to travel from Auckland to Franz Josef on the West Coast of the South Island. We had been invited to speak at the annual West Coast Principals' Conference. We flew out of a sunny Auckland day into miserable cold drizzle in Christchurch then got in a tiny plane to cross to Hokitika on the west coast. The nasty weather behind us we drove further
south for 2 hours in glorious spring late afternoon sun. The scenery was amazing with sea and surf on one side and the lakes and bush scenes from Lord of the Rings on the other. Around every corner was another photo op. And that song kept on buzzing in my head - " Aotearoa - New Zealand our home, from forests to the sea...." We live in an awesome place! We eventually arrived at Franz Josef as the sun was setting on the glacier with the snow on the southern alps. We have travelled to some pretty special places around the world but this quick journey brought back those old ads that showed on TV in the 1980s - “Don’t leave home till you’ve seen the country”. So many of us don't get out and about this amazing place we live often enough.

And the conference was great too. There are a whole bunch of dedicated and talented people working in the schools on the West Coast and doing a great job. We reckon they keep a low profile because they have got something pretty special going on down there and they are happy to keep it that way! As long as they keep inviting us back each year when the whitebait are running we will be happy to keep their secret - sort of :)

PS Will post a video of the kids singing Aotearoa later in the week as it doen't appear to be online to link to...
NEW - an excerpt of the students singing Aotearoa at the end of the Pasifika - some very tired kids in this clip!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The artistry of tagging

One of the things that captured my attention at the Googleplex was the screens in the foyers of the buildings displaying search terms live as they occur around the world. I stood and watched the scrolling screens in fascination. The teacher in me was in two minds about it. On the one hand I was imagining the possibilities for creative writing as the words rolled relentlessly before me. On the other hand the same teacher instinct was apalled by how little progress we have made teaching people how to search in a way that will return the information they are seeking. Particularly using appropriate key words to refine our searches.

Back in the day when I started out teaching we conducted lessons with our students teaching them how to use keywords to search in Encyclopaedias. Very tricky sharing one set of Encyclopaedias amongst a class and trying to make the lessons meaningful without resorting to endless worksheets with pictures of volume spines and multi choice questions. Times changed in the mid 90s when we 'got the internet' and used search engines like AltaVista and my favourite, Dogpile. We had to start teaching kids how to do Boolean searches to narrow their search and get to the information they wanted quickly.

I guess what I was seeing at the Googleplex was a testimony to the failure of this approach. When Google came along with their user-friendly search engine they not only made it simple to do an advanced search (just click the Advanced Search button!) but they seem to make intuitive sense of our paltry efforts. Whether it is poor spelling and grammar or people who simply type in a question, Google seems to be able to to supply a list of intelligent results.

So where does this leave us as teachers and our quest for information literacy? Should we even be bothering to try and teach kids how to use key words any more? Well I think there is value in this and am relieved that we have the opportunity to approach this whole thing from a completely different angle.

Since RSS and tagging has become part of our online lives we have a wonderful opportunity to rethink how we use keywords. Our 21st century kids are looking for an audience whether it is YouTube, Reality TV or Bebo. It is not by coincidence that YouTube's by-line is "Broadcast Yourself", Flickr uses "Share yourself with the world", Bebo has "friends share their lives" and so it goes on.

If our kids want to be seen/heard/found then they need to be searchable. They can raise their profile if they use keywords that people are looking for in their posts and titles and as their tags. They are ripe for teaching the inverse of searching. Teach them how to be found. What an opportunity to use higher order thinking skills as Andrew Church proposes in his Bloom's Digital Taxonomy.

A quick look at Google Trends or tracking back through the Feedjit information on their own blog or those they follow will give them an idea of the kinds of words people are currently searching for. Then intentionly writing about topics that are of interest to others as well as themselves is sure to attract readers to their pages or viewers to their photos or videos. A good example of this is a 9 year old student at Pt England School who has discovered his 'voice' during the Olympics. Every day he wrote a blog post about the athletes and events and his Cluster Map shows that he attracted viewers from around the world because he was using words people were searching for in August.

And if the audience doesn't motivate them, there are a number of tools online that may do the trick and show them in a funky way how tagging works. Tag Galaxy is a great example of this. I am very interested to hear how other people are using this 'inverse' opportunity with their students to teach some basic information literacy skills.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If your house were on fire what would you grab first?

It has often amazed me how magazines and Sunday papers ask this question of celebrities. Partly because those kind of people are likely to have an entourage who would swoop in and save all for them and partly because of the answers they give. Not a passport or birth certificate or family heirloom among them. You would hope that their answers are tongue-in-cheek or an attempt to be interesting, but their responses are often bizarre. As the lady behind the counter at my local dairy told me this week when we were both looking at the latest reported doings of Brangelina on the cover of a magazine, "Rich people just don't act like normal people. It's like they are from another planet".

A quick search of online forums uncovers the kinds of answers to that question my dairy lady would relate to. 'Normal' people write that they would save things like photos, scrapbooks, a child's special toy and, increasingly, 'my laptop'.

What started me thinking about this was having the hard drive on my MacBook die a week ago. I am not going into the long story of why my recent backup is gone as well, but suffice it to say that I have to go back to May of this year to recover my work data and June of 2007 for personal data, including photos. There have been enough people telling me wisely in the last few days that Time Machine is brilliant to make me keep a sharp object handy for the next person who says it - it doesn't really help right now. I think everyone who has witnessed my misery has dashed off and ensured that they have backed up AND that the back up is stored securely.

I have had two friends who have had their laptops stolen recently. Hopefully insurance gives them a nice new shiny laptop out of it but for them there is no point looking back- in one case everything is gone, and in the other back ups will resurrect most of the data.

I have been fortunate to have my hard drive replaced very quickly under the Apple warranty and have taken the dead hard drive in to a data recovery place. The good news from them is that if I am prepared to pay a large sum they are confident that at least some of the data can be recovered. The bad news to me is that they have asked me to prioritise the order in which they search for my data. Apparently they may only get one window of time to dig around inside so they want to target the files that are most important to me first.

This data recovery option posed quite a dilemna. First is the data important enough to spend serious money on? Then if it is, personal or work related data first? And then which files? I was holding the phone racking my brains about what was most precious to me or most necessary, and I had to give the answer on the spot. What would you choose?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Is Google really responsible for our Stupidity?

"Is Google Making Us Stupid" was doing the rounds on the internet during July when it caught my eye and although I scanned the original article online I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. It wasn't until I was browsing the magazine rack at San Antonio airport waiting for my flight to Ohio that I took another look. The cover of the magazine shouted (in Google colours) at me in an American accent "Is Google Making us Stoopid?" and it took on a whole new meaning. When I had read the internet version, which Atlantic magazine's online version has spelled correctly BTW, in my Brit-derived Kiwi accent it didn't have quite the same impact as it did standing in Texas surrounded by the drawl, and emphasised by the print magazine's spelling. So I bought it to read on the plane.
The previous week I had spent a fantastic day at the Googleplex, surrounded by talented, and no doubt brainy, young people who seemed know just what they were doing and where they were taking the world, so it was difficut to conceptualise how these people could be responsible for making us 'stoopid'. In my experience we are quick to blame all manner of things for our stoopidity, with pregnancy and breastfeeding being favourites of mine. And I notice recently that some folk are quick to quip 'senior moment' anytime they are caught being stoopid - an insult to my lucid grandparents and probably yours. But I failed to make the connection with Google. What on earth have they done to us?
Fortunately the flight was long enough for me to read the magazine and no internet was available to distract me so I gave the article a thorough perusing. Apparently "the more (we) use the Web, the more (we) have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing". Are we really such shallow creatures? Or are we just increasingly busy? I know that last year when I had 12 months released from school as an eFellow to conduct a research project it took a while to really focus on some of the materials I chose for my lit review. But was that the fault of Google, the authors of the documents or just my own fault for not making a priority of reading serious non-fiction in recent years? This is beginning to resemble the food industry with fast-food chains being blamed for our weight problems and lack of fitness.
And what is wrong with being stoopid anyway? One of the wonderful things about working with young children is the way they all know they are so clever. I love seeing the kids in the 5 and 6 year old classes reach around and pat themselves on the back and say 'Clever me' when they have done something they think is good. What a shame that people or life change these kids from knowing they are clever to a time when they feel stupid and even worse have to blame someone else for it because they know they weren't stupid when they were young. I do hope it is not school that makes us stoopid!
I am sure I am not the first to answer Atlantic magazine and the author Nicholas Carr's question, "Is Google making us stoopid?" with "No stupider than we already were".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


In an attempt to encapsulate what Manaiakalani is about I have put together this short video on animoto....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tino pai Google

Google Maori
What a great way to celebrate Maori language week in New Zealand - a Maori language version of the Google search engine.
Until now Tongan has been the only Pasifika language recognised out of the 117 options Google offers. A husband and wife team in Rotorua, Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule have been working with a team of volunteers from around the country to translate the search pages and it was launched this week. For anyone interested in following this venture there is a Google group online.
For international readers, Te Reo Maori is the language of the indigenous people (Tangata Whenua Maori) of Aotearoa New Zealand. I came across the clip below on MaoriTube and it could be a place for you to start - basic counting!
Google Maori will be a great resource for our schools, particularly I would suspect for those schools who do not have access to expertise in Te Reo Maori because of the ethnic make-up of their school community.
I will be very interested to see the creative ways educators will use this in the near future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Mobile technology was all around us in the USA. We really enjoyed the connectivity via our Blackberries and being able to use our address books to phone and text back to NZ without having to worry about putting in country codes etc. It makes life very easy when the technology is smart.
Mobile technology was a major focus at NECC08 with many presentations talking about the time having arrived when we will not be asking our kids to leave their phones at home but instead to bring them to school. And mobile is different from portable. Laptops are portable, but mobile devices are smaller and people have access to them 24/7. This definition is found on the Learning2Go website:

“Mobile Learning is a term used to define the type of learning that takes place when the learner has some kind of mobile handheld computer, such as a PDA, Smartphone, tablet PC, games console or other portable device and can make use of the device, it’s connectivity, tools and content to learn at a time and place of the learners choosing.”

Teachers who are still resisting the integration of ICTs in their classrooms had better brace themselves because the mobile age has arrived. For those who thought managing a few desk top computers in the classroom was a bothersome hassle, the MobileMe classroom will be from another time warp. Some interesting research is being carried out on mobiles in secondary schools this year by Toni Twiss in her eFellowship and will add a very relevant kiwi perspective for local educators.
The release of the new iPhone coincided beautifully with these discussions with it having so many of the features that facilitate this type of learning experience. Sadly we did not come home with one because we were among the many who were not able or willing to be tied into the data plans being offered by the favoured vendors. We have the technology, but are still divided over the access to it.
As you can see
in the clip below it didn't matter where we turned, mobiles were all around us; from the mounted policeman on duty in Cleveland, Ohio, to the man dressed as Santa holding a placard saying "Help Santa return to the Pole. His sleigh is broken." MobileMe is everywhere.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Closing the Gaps

Spending time in North America meeting people and staying with various family members made me very aware of some of the gaps that exist between digital life over there and New Zealand. The stand out would have to be the amazing bandwidth Americans enjoy. Not only is it faster and more accessible, but it is uncapped. When they sign up for a cheap plan they have unlimited access. Even on the other side of the world emails from Telecom were finding me to inform me that "You have used more than 80% of your monthly allowance. Your internet access will shortly be downgraded to dial-up speed." iChat video with the family back home would be out of the question for the rest of the month. At the same time I was reading a blog post by Karen Romeis and appreciated her diagrams recognising that not all of us enjoy a completely Flat Earth.
Another moment of digital envy was captured on my Flip Video (below) when travelling on Air Canada in the cheapest seats in cattle class. Power points in all seats for those of us who want to continue using our laptops as we travel. Come on Air New Zealand - we're worth it!

However it is not all bouquets for North American technology. It has puzzled me during several recent visits. Something is very wrong in the construction industry. Every public "bathroom" I have visited in this nation has poorly constructed panelling so that there is always a minimum of a one centimetre gap right around the doors to the cubicles. This means that every woman sitting down can be seen by the other women waiting in the "bathroom" and vice versa. It is at best disconcerting and at worst, creepy. This trip I have taken a series of photos from within and, as can be seen below, one of the photos captures a woman at a handbasin making eye contact with me from within the cubicle! I have begun to ask questions and American woman are unable to explain to me why this shoddy construction is tolerated and my inside source assures me that this is not always the case inside the mens' bathrooms. If anyone could shed light on this I would not be the only one who is most interested!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Defining Silence

I got to visit the Alamo twice while I was in San Antonio. The first time we didn't go inside as the Apple Distinguished Educators group were putting on an Improv stunt outside and we all participated in "ADEs Frozen in Texas". Video of this should be available soon.
We decided to return later in the week to spend time there and have a good look inside. The significance of this site in Texan history was pretty apparent from the sign at the door to the repeated signs inside requesting silence as this is a shrine.
We were rather surprised at how little attention was paid by the many tourists to this request and I couldn't resist pressing the record button on my camera to capture the 'silence' - which you can hear below. It reminded me of an occasion when I overheard a teacher in a library informing the class that this was to be a time of silent reading. This was followed up with the following statement, "This means that your voice shouldn't be heard more than 3 people away". What is the definition of silence in the 21st century? Has it evolved from the dictionary meaning? How many of us can operate effectively anymore in the absence of sound? Perhaps I should be conducting a poll here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What a Bag!

We arrived in the Ballroom on the second day of NECC08 ready to listen to the next Keynote and found that all the seats were occupied by extremely large carry bags. What on earth were we to do with that?
BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.
We noticed that most were left behind at the end of the session, so we weren't the only ones who weren't keen to add them to our luggage. And the keynote address was excellent!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Roger's sticky theory of learning

We have been at NECC08 for three days and have taken heaps of notes on a Google doc but haven't stopped to post any of it. However we have just been to the most fantastic session and had to write about it for all you Hyperstudio buffs out there. Thanks very much to Luke from Summerland who sent me an email with a tip-off to go to the Hyperstudio booth (the main keynote was about how we should listen to the wisdom of the crowd, but more about that later) and I am glad I followed up on it.
We rolled up at the Hyperstudio booth in the exhibit hall and bumped into Roger Wagner, Himself. Anyone who knows Hyperstudio knows Roger because his name is splashed all over it as the creator of the best piece of multimedia ever. So we grilled him about it before he even had a chance to do his presentation and he very cheerfully answered our questions and gave us a flash drive to take away with a legacy player on it. This player means that all those oldie-but- goodies Hyperstudio stacks kids have made over more than a decade can be opened and played successfully on our newest Macs.
So a few notes about the new Hyperstudio that caught my eye:
It has a shell that feels familiar with cards, buttons, links, layers, animations etc. It looks like you would pick it up like it was yesterday that you last used it. BUT it incorporates the feel we have all become used to in programmes like Keynote with inspectors and tool bars functioning in an 'iLife' kind of way.
A major is that all the drawing functions are there, but enhanced and made easier. Remember creating animations over dozens of cards and exporting them one at a time with a newcard.01 etc naming system? Now it's all done for you. Export the lot at once. A whole period of work done in a flash :)
Photos and other images drag and drop from the desktop, iPhoto, anywhere you have them saved- including straight from a web page.
It totally integrates with iTunes, iPhoto and Quicktime in the way we expect now.
The Mac's built in camera records straight in to Hyperstudio5.
Layers look so simple that I would expect junior kids could pick it fairly quickly.
And the problems with sharing the finished stacks we had in the past are over. Export as pretty much anything you like; Quicktime, iPhone, YouTube, web and even podcasts. We are going to love this.
It even appeared to import Keynote.
And the lasso - do you share memories of the lasso being tricky? It now has a tolerance slider so you can have it cling wrap to whatever degree you select.
Never heard a word about a Windows version.
This report wouldn't be complete without a couple of gems from Roger (no space to tell his stories though!). First, Roger's sticky theory of learning - or why kids should draw and not use clip art. He says you need to spend time in a subject to learn about it, and showed a volcano a kid had drawn as an example. A kid who draws the volcano is going to learn a lot more in the process than a kid who pastes some clip art. He says it is like a dog running through a field of bidibidis; he collects a lot of them in his fur as he runs through.
And at this point he asked me to stand up and tell the crowd about the Pt England culture of banning clip art and helping kids to draw right from when they first start school.
The other Roger quote I noted was about why he always has multiple ways of doing something in Hyperstudio. He says "Intuitive is whatever YOU think it should be" and hopefully we all think differently so there needs to be a variety of options.
There's lots more but the big question was shouted from the crowd, "When are we getting it in our schools!" and he refused to commit and let us down. Soon.....
BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Flip video and the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs

A quick trip to Walmart and we became the happy owners of a Flip video camera.
They have so many positive features, perhaps the best is the Flip out USB connector on the side so it doesn't need cables to download. It has a great built in microphone and records well in low light. It will not replace my Sony for television quality video though.
The first outing we took the Flip on was to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. We had another first time experience while we were there and now you can enjoy it too...

And I have just been told about another tiny camera that folk at NECC08 are using. The AIPTEK. It is slightly more expensive, but it films in HD. Worth looking out for.

Even More

Even More Google Certified Teachers!
June 25 2008 was a big day in every way. We set out from my nephew's place in Pleasanton, CA with all the early morning commuters. A train ride and 2 shuttle buses later we were at the Google campus where the Google Teacher Academy was being held.
I pretty much went around all day with my mouth open. The phrase that summed it all up for me was repeated over and over by Chris Walsh during his workshop as he showed us how to get
"Even More" out of Google.From a visitor perspective it appeared that where ever you looked there was even more. I have to start with the food because it was on everyone's lips ;) Meals available at all times of the day in the kitchens (imagine huge food courts with proper chefs where the food is free!) and micro kitchens scattered around for breaks in between. Transport appeared to be on demand from buses to bikes. For those who don't get enough exercise walking around the campus we saw employees playing volleyball and using the gyms. Attention to detail in the architecture, the furnishing - even the dinosaur skeleton out in the grounds - all seemed to be designed to contribute to the feeling of creativity and energy in the place. And the high tech toilets(sorry, bathrooms in American) deserve a paragraph of their own. Oh to be 23 again and get a job there!
In the reception areas of the buildings we went into Google searches were screened live on the walls as they were occuring around the world - filtered we were told! It was fascinating seeing the things people search AND seeing what a way we have to go in teaching people how to refine a search. One that caught my eye was a search for world cup. I tried it out myself while typing this and got 59,900,000 results. Someone might want to try that search again!
For the 50 teachers attending the GTA the rich programme of professional development was incredible. A combination of keynote speakers and quickfire workshops was interspersed with opportunities to pick each other's brains. When it was time to leave a number of people were muttering about how their brains hurt! I guess we all feel like we 'know' Google because we use it every day and it has become a verb in our everyday vocabs, but this even more experience showed how most of us are only scratching the surface.
So what? For me.... for my workplace....
Feel free to ask specific questions through the comments, but one of the big ideas I will be exploring is the use of Google tools for student ePortfolios. We have been asking a lot of questions about using solutions that are either platform specific or limited to the student's life at a particular school. Now we are able to create a lifetime ePortfolio that can belong to an individual.
On a smaller scale it will be interesting to look at using Gmaps Pedometer to map calories burned and distance covered in the course of the school day with our students. Before we start responding to government demands to add more Phys Ed to our students' day, they could work out how much exercise they are actually getting in the course of their normal day.
The day ended with us creating our own personal action plans to go back and work on. And more food.
BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Google Teacher Academy

This event was held on June 25 at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California- and I was fortunate enough to attend! So before I post about what we did there and the things I saw and learned, a little background...
I first saw the event mentioned on Twitter and thought little more about it until I realised that on that date I would already be in San Francisco on my way to NECC08 and started looking into whether it was
possible to apply. The online details looked like it was worth having a go, so I spent an afternoon putting together my 60 second application and posted it to YouTube along with all the others.
This is what I made (with quite a bit of help from my friends as you can see) and I have also uploaded it to Flickr so that I can share a higher quality version here than we get from YouTube.
The theme was "Motivation and Learning"
It was an exciting moment to get the email back from the Google team to say that the application was successful and I would be able to join the group of Google Certified Teachers. Even better was an email from Jan in New Zealand with a reward for the 3 students who helped me out with it. You can see them in the photo holding their bears in Google T-Shirts.
I have linked to Flickr and podcast posts these guys have made. Jordan, Jama'l from Room 17 and Leoden from Room 15 at Pt England School.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Feedjit Developments

Thanks to those guys at Feedjit who have released a Watch in Real Time link on their popular Feedjit Live Traffic Widgit. It not only tells us where the traffic to our site is coming from but gives us information about the referring site and the browser being used. And for those who regret only having the 10 most recent traffic displayed in the list, there appears to now be a more extensive list archived.
To me the best part about this release was the small print inviting us to email them with our feedback. I don't need to be asked twice so fired off an email asking for two things; the date and time to be added and for New Zealand visitors to have their city/town displayed as happens with other countries.

Within an hour a reply had come from Mark that others have been asking for date/time and it could be
happening in the next few days. And they were unaware that New Zealand didn't get information broken down into city/town so they were happy to look into that too. It appeared they were also unaware how much pleasure our students get from the Feedjit widget on their blogs and webpages. The kids who have cottoned on look first thing in the morning to see who from the Northern Hemisphere has been looking at their work while we have all been sleeping and get a real buzz from seeing international visitors. So well done Feedjit team and lesson reinforced- in this Web 2 age people are usually really friendly and willing to share their knowledge and adapt their products to suit consumers needs. It's always worth asking!
Half a day later I returned to complete this post and noticed that the Feedjit team have already actioned the Date and Time feature . How is that for customer service!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's a 21st Century Dog's Life

My learning is coming from everywhere on this trip. Before I started writing this post I had to stop and think about privacy issues relating to animals. What is the netiquette regarding information given you about a beloved dog? Not sure yet, so for now I will not be linking you to this dog's webpage.
Had a fun evening catching up with friends and meeting new people. Then the conversation turned to the Big Day tomorrow. One of the group's dog is going for DNA testing tomorrow. Koncerned Kiwis made sympathetic murmers thinking something dreadful is going on, but misread the situation. It's a Happy Day - they are going to find out the ancestry of their bitser dog
for a mere $175. We asked a few questions and discovered that it is hard to fill out your dog's profile on if you have to make it up. At this point I was not sure if they were having fun pulling the kiwis' legs or what, but when they got out a laptop and we went online to look at the dog's webpage I realise that I have a long way to go before I am up with the play on social networking. This dog has an extensive online profile; photos, friends, star sign, hobbies - it's all there really. You can click on the gift icon and ship it a real present or you can send it virtual bones each day.
I am beginning to feel a twinge of guilt over the online anonymity our blue heeler, Scrappy, endures - especially the lack of virtual friends and a PLN. So I've decided to post his picture in the hopes that if he googles his name at least one item will register. It will require a bit more discussion with the family before he gets his own page on dogster though. Imagine the conversations to come; 'Who's fed the dog? Who's taken the dog for a walk? Who's updated his page?...." Hmmm, not sure we are ready for this yet.

iPod Vending Machine

I had intended my very first post on this blog to be a report on some important learning from this visit to the USA. Like any self-respecting kid in a mall I have been distracted by a vending machine. Our first visit to shops since landing 24 hours ago was to a mall in Pleasanton, California and outside Macy's we ran into this. It completely captured us and a few photos later you are looking at it on blogger. Barbs1 has already asked on twitter if I bought something! Well the temptation was huge I will admit - to put some money in the slot and see an iPod drop out the bottom. But we resisted, pacing ourselves for the iPhone release on July 11th.
We are wondering if this is a new approach to healthy eating though. Is this the answer to the healthy tuckshop debate going on in NZ schools at the moment? Replace Coke machines and pies with iPod vending machines. Now that would raise a bit of pocket money for the PTA!