Monday, August 24, 2009

Criminal Intent

It happens so frequently that it has become an expected, if not accepted, part of life. The call outs in the night for alarms going off at school. The criminals are no respector of socio-economic group either. They are as happy to knock off schools in affluent areas as they are in low decile ones. So often they perform mindless snatch and grabs over a series of nights, taking items that come in too close to the insurance excess to warrant a claim. And we all know of an unlucky teacher who has been caught out by a laptop theft with irreplaceable files on it.
From time to time you get lucky and catch one (not often enough) or get one who is REALLY thick. This post is to use more than 140 characters to let the twitter peeps know the happy outcome from the weekend burglary where we seem to have got the thick one(s).

In 2006 we were very chuffed to win a Tandberg Video Conferencing unit that was worth $10K. It has really only come into its own since we joined the NEN trial with access to KAREN and the benefits of fast broadband. But the kids have been loving it and have written up a few of their experiences on their blogs. We have also enjoyed letting other people come in to school and use it for meetings that they may not otherwise have had access to.
So we were pretty upset over the weekend to discover that the latest burg was the room where the Tandberg was set up. The door was prized open and they came in and took the Unit but we presumed they were disturbed by the alarm before they got the projector off the roof or the speakers off the wall. In going to check what had happened in the dark, the microphone (you can see on the right of the picture below) was found chucked on the ground. And the empty laptop boxes it usually sits on had been ripped open.
All who knew about it and use it at school were pretty glum and I had a little pity party on Twitter. Thanks for the support :)

Fast forward to the light of day, and there was the disgarded Tandberg. The criminals obviously had no idea of the value of the item they had snatched and had chucked it in disgust when they realised the laptop boxes were empty! And best yet, when our techie man plugged it in and turned it on it "gave a cough and fired up as good as new - actually with a slightly clearer picture!"
Not so fortunate for one of our neighbouring schools who on the same night had some teacher laptops successfully lifted - presumably by the same crew.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ECE teachers lead the way

Today I was reminded again of an old NZEI union slogan that was going around when primary teachers were trying to get pay parity with secondary teachers "Shoe size shouldn't shape salaries". I was invited to attend "Touch the Future, Teach the Future", a conference put on for early childhood educators from around the north island by their ICT facilitators working with CORE-ed. This is the 3rd time they have held their annual hui at Pt England School, and every time I have been impressed by the level of integration of eLearning being carried out with these very young children. We should be very wary of making assumptions based on shoe size about what children are capable of learning using technology tools.
The workshops being held were for using tools that many primary and intermediate teachers are still not allowing their students to access. Photography, video editing, multimedia software, Comic Life, Voice Thread etc. And these, mostly women, have 3 and 4 year olds using this technology!
For my workshop on Oral Language I tried setting up my presentation in a Google site so the attendees could access all the material I presented afterwards. I was very pleased with the changes that have recently been made in Google sites and how easy it now is to embed and hyperlink all the content I wanted to.

Derek Wenmoth and Jane Nicholls, both from the CORE-ed team, gave inspiring keynote addresses, incorporating humour and challenge.

I came away at the end of today determining again to recommend to anyone going to ICT conferences such as ULearn to make sure that at least one of the workshops they attend is from the ECE sector. We all need to keep being reminded of what the kids wearing the smallest shoes are doing in their learning - even high school teachers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More Evidence from Google Earth

Found another tool to add to our webspaces to provide evidence to the students that they DO have an audience for the work they are sharing online. I have posted about this before and a few of you have admitted that it is not just the kids who are curious about who reads their blogs! The tools we have been using so far to track our visitors have felt pretty satisfying, but this latest addition to the blog is fun.

Ok, it's on the top right of the sidebar of this blog; it's a tiny badge I have titled Google Earth traffic. Just click it and you will see why we are loving it!
You get taken to the Digital Point webpage and you see place marks on the map of where the visitors come from. Same old, same old you might be thinking.

But no; click on any one of the markers and you are given a link to view the place of origin in Google Earth. And then the fun begins. You really get to see where your visitors hang out. This is so much more fun for kids than a static map, and I bet you like it too!


Copy the code from my page and use it on your own space

Slow down the speed of Google Earth and the zoom feels even more
spectatcular Before showing it to kids, or on slow connections, have Google Earth open in the background.
The markers only last for 24 hours, so when I planned to demonstrate to a group I put out a call to friends to spare me a click to populate the map.

It almost feels a bit 'creepy-stalker', but I know that my own house does not show when I have visited - it goes to Newmarket where I presume my ISP must come from. However, it does go straight to the school for markers originating from PES, so some must be accurate.