I’m just reading my way through this interesting book by Daniel T Willinham who explores how what is known about Cognitive Science coud/should impact what happens in the classroom… Some interesting ideas in here about the value of practice etc which cast some interesting light on why we do the things we do in the classroom…
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’
It is going to prove increasingly difficult for schools to manage these types of sites – I suspect the only reason they were able to tackle this one so easily is because it was all public and therefore it was all out in the open…
Taking this down however isn’t going to solve the problem that the internet allows anyone to say almost anything in an anonymous way (if they really want to!). In the end like most technological problems in schools this isn’t a technical issue but one of education. Students must be taught to understand the responsibilities that come with the freedom provided by the internet…
LittleGossip – “Facebook’s bitchy little sister”
Written by Melanie Strickland
Schools will be aware of this website – as it caused a storm last month within days of coming online. LittleGossip described itself as a ‘social networking site’ – even though networking was impossible as the posts were made anonymously. Following a flurry of complaints about cyberbullying, the site owner suspended the site on 12 November, but kept the domain name and left a worrying message stating that ‘Version 2’ of LittleGossip was on its way.
LittleGossip did come back online almost exactly a month later. The site has been labelled by various online discussion groups as “Facebook’s bitchy little sister”. Indeed, Facebook seems ‘establishment’ next to LittleGossip. So, why all the fuss and what has ISC been doing about it?
The fuss is over the pernicious user generated content. Many of the comments are crude, with a sexual slant, and people are identified by their full name and school. A typical post reads ‘X is such a sket’ (young people do have an ingenious ability to invent strange new words). Your teenage years are hard enough anyway, what with all the hormones and usual social awkwardness, but now with this site pupils can be bombarded with vicious comments at any time, and the victims have no possibility of redress because the posts are anonymous.
As of 15.30 today, the site has been taken offline. Since the 11 November when ISC became aware of the site, we have worked with the relevant agencies, including CEOP, to get the site taken down or to get the site owner to put in place proper safeguards to prevent cyberbullying. We also gave our schools some practical guidance for tackling the issues raised by the site. Schools can access this when logged into ISC Member Zone > Legal Information > Hot topics > Cyber Issues/e-Safety.
What can schools do in future? Good question. Technology is evolving far more quickly than the ability of our democratic institutions to regulate, and censorship of the internet is a highly contentious issue in itself. Schools must be prepared to respond to these sorts of sites which are likely to become more common in future. As a start, make sure your AUP and anti bullying policies are up to date, and include provisions relating to e-safety. Make sure everyone in the school is aware of those policies, and the consequences of breach.
View our press release regarding this issue here.
At my school we are currently looking at how we can transform our school library in to something more akin to a university Learning Resource Centre, and one of the things we have been thinking about is how we can expand our library provision to include ebooks and easier access to audiobooks.
We thought about purchasing a few ebook readers and pre-loading them with a collection of key texts and lending out the devices themselves, and there is no easy way to lend ebooks! But thought there must be a better system!
I noticed a growing trend with some public libraries offering ebook services, and whilst visiting my sister I discovered that Surrey library is one of the ones that now offers an ebook service (incidently if like me you don’t live in an area with a eLibrary service then you can sign up to the Surrey eLibrary service.
Surrey use a service provided by Overdrive.com, after some digging I discovered they provide a service for schools!
Overdrive’s School Download Library provides this same service as used for public libraries but for schools!
The way the service works is you pay a set amount (determined by the number of pupils – for up to 2000 pupils you pay $4K), and they provide you with a custom branded website that you can link to your current library provision.
For this $4K you get $2K to spend on building up your school’s custom eLibrary. Some books are available as ‘Always Available’ meaning that as many students as you like can take the book out at the same time, whereas others behave more like traditional books in that once someone has borrowed the book, the next person can reserve the book once it is returned.
eBooks can be read on PCs or Macs, or any compatible eBook reader (i.e. one that can ready ePub files encrypted with Adobe DRM – this includes the Sony eBook readers, but excludes devices like Amazon’s Kindle and at present the iPad).
Audiobooks are available on a wider range of platforms and can be listened to on PCs, Macs, iPods, Zunes, and Android devices.
From what I can tell (although their website isn’t very clear) you continue to pay $4K every year and can add a further $2K of books (audio or ebook) to your virtual library. The nice thing about a virtual library is that as the books take up no space you never need to throw out the old ones!
This isn’t a cheap option, as clearly you could just buy twice as many books (as half the money goes to pay for the service), but it may appeal to a different group of students who are less likely to use a traditional library. I particularly think that the audiobooks (downloaded to their personal ipods etc) may well appeal to a different group of students.
The school could also purchase 2-3 Sony eBook readers (and lend these out as well, although this might be more or less practical depending on your students… They could be used for reference within the library, if lending for home use wasn’t appropriate).
This is certainly an area that will grow in schools, as ebooks become more mainstream. Overdrive have said they are working on adding the ebook reading to their iPod/iPhone client which would certainly open it up to a wider market. I would be nice if it worked with Kindles, but you can’t have everything and Amazon have chosen to only support their own DRM.
What about your schools? Are you doing anything with eBooks or do you have plans to?
I have now updated the comment system to use the disqus system which hopefully will make it easier for me to moderate and for you to reply!!
Let me know if you have any problems!
I have been asked to spec up a ‘show classroom’ which could be used to demonstrate the potential for ICT in teaching (specifically Maths), and could also be used by external visiting groups etc.
So I have been giving it some thought and this what I have come up with so far…
So the kit is as follows:
- Smartboard 690
- 2 x WXGA Projectors
- Toshiba Dynadock U
- ELMO P10S Visualiser
- TI-Nspire Navigator Wireless Graphical Calculator System
- DVI Switch
- Toshiba M750 TabletPC
Would love to know your thoughts. Have I missed something? Will it work? Any practical considerations?
There are lots of good online Word Processors out there but at the end of the day they tend to all just offer a subset of the features of a locally installed Word Processor. So imagine my surprise to find such a fully featured system independent web-based Word Processor which offered something new! (loosely web-based – it is Java based and looks like it uses Web-Start technology)…
What WriteOnline does that makes it really special is it offers graduated support for those who find writing difficult. For example it supports writers by reading-aloud individual words or sentences. It offers a clever prediction engine that attempts to predict what you are trying to type (including phonetic spelling – i.e. type in ‘fiz’ and it will offer words like ‘physical’ etc.)
In addition to this it supports multiple word-banks depending on the task at hand and writing-frames (i.e. sentence starters). One particularly clever feature was the ability to create Mind-maps and then use the completed mind-map to create a word-bank which can be used to write the essay.
All in this looks like an excellent tool to scaffold learners who find writing difficult (for whatever reason – young students, SEN, EFL etc). The tool can be accessed from any computer and also includes a version that can be installed locally (where internet connection might be an issue such as a laptop).
A nice feature is the Moodle integration which allows you to create an activity which specific wordbanks etc within moodle. Students then complete the writing in WriteOnline (which can be saved as a draft to Moodle) and then submit it for marking.
All in this definitely looks like a tool worth some consideration!
To get a better idea of what WriteOnline offers I thoroughly recommend having a look at their Video Demos
Having been a long time TabletPC user I have always been a bit sceptical about the benefits of IWBs relative to their high costs, but this last year I have had access to a SMART board in my classroom which I have found really enjoyable. I am still mostly a TabletPC user and still do most of my A-level/IB teaching sitting at my desk, however with lower school classes the IWB can be really useful – but it is still very expensive for what I use it for…
The problem with IWB boards for many schools is that most teachers use them as glorified projection screens and rarely if ever use the ‘interactive’ element making the costs unjustified! So when I saw the interactive DLP projector on the TI stand at BETT I was blown away. Rather than attempting to explain how it works I suggest you watch this:
Basically it enables you to use the ‘pen/wand’ both directly on the board or at a distance. The accuracy is pixel perfect (and there is no calibration ever!) and it works on any surface with no other hardware!?! All in these are likely to retail for around £1,000 which is MUCH less than a projector and IWB!
For those needing a mobile IWB this is the perfect solution as the projector also included DisplayLink technology (which is what I use in my Toshiba DynaDock) which means you only need to plug in a single USB cable and you get Video/Audio(via projector) and IWB elements instantly (again with no calibration!)
Also they offer a wireless connection over UWB where you plug in two USB wireless dongles and you get all of the above only wireless which would be fantastic with my tablet PC!!
This technology is likely to appear in a number of projectors from different manufacturers over the coming months but the one on display at the stand was the:
Keep an eye on this technology I think in a few years you will see this in lots of classrooms as old projectors need to be replaced (particularly in the Independent Sector where IWB are still not widespread) with the current type of IWBs being reserved for users who specifically need ‘touch’… Time for the IWB market to do some innovating!!
Strange experience this week seeing myself in the Guardian. I was asked to do a quick telephone back in November interview as part of an article about the launch of the new TI-Npsire Activities Website called NspiringLearning. Then a few weeks later they sent a photographer down who spent 20mins with one my classes taking pictures. The journalist wasn’t sure exactly when it was due to be published but thought sometime in January…
I had meant to keep my eye out for it, but the first I knew about it was when a friend emailed me in the afternoon to say he had seen my picture in the paper!?! Anyway all in it was a fun experience!
If you want to read the article you can find it below:
Professional development: how can we cope with a fast-changing ICT schoolscape?
Apparently the supplement it was published in was also handed out in all the BETT bags on Friday!?!
After a discussion on twitter this afternoon with @daibarnes and @moodlefairy abut how to best maintain enrolments in moodle – See ETRU Point 6 http://edtechroundup.wikispaces.com/07.06.09 for the original question…
Anyway this led me to thinking about the various options on how we could use groups to separate users within a single course. But as moodle currently has no option for sitewide groups (on the roadmap for 2.0) so groups must be manually created for each course which is a significant amount of work!! There are some options to create an populate a course for each class within your MIS, or hacks like the CLEO SIMS hack which enables you to use SIMS groups.
However outside of these there seemed to be no obvious solution. Then I rememebered that the bulk upload user system can be used to enrol students in groups and wondered if it could also be used to populate the grouping of students and it turns out you can!
If you create a csv file in the following format:
username, course1, group1, course2, group2, etc user1, TestCourse, GroupA, AnotherCourse, GroupB user2, TestCourse, GroupA, AnotherCourse, GroupC user3, TestCourse, GroupB, AnotherCourse, GroupA
Where user1 is the students username, TestCourse is the shortname for the course and groupA is whatever you want to call the course.
Then when you go to the bulk upload user tool, change the setting to ‘update user’ rather than ‘create new user’ and away you go!
You can use this method to either create new users and enrol, enrol users in a course and group, create a new groups and add new users, or just add already enrolled users in a pre-existing group. If a student is already in the group then it will just leave them there…
Note: This will not remove any enrolments or groups students are already in (even if they are already in a group on that course) so you may end up with students in multiple groups. As a result I would probably suggest you use this to do your initial enrolments at the start of the year, but then manually adjust during the year…
Anyone know a better way?