Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tux is back

Tux is back after undergoing some repairs to it's feet. Tux's feet are vulnerable because of the fact that they are large and joined to the body over such a small area. The material used to make Tux (felt) does not seem to hold a stitch well either. I had tried to make repairs myself some weeks ago and discovered this :-(

My next door neighbour, Kerry, who originally made Tux for me, has used a long needle and stronger thread so that the thread goes through some of the stuffing as well now. Previously the stitching just joined the material.

They certainly seem to be attached well and you can not see the stitching - fantastic.

Huge thanks to Kerry - our class mascot is back stronger than ever. :-)

Tux really has been an asset in class with both boys and girls. Tux has provided lots of counsel to students about their approach to their work that has been received extremely well and warmly. Senior boys have described the role of Tux to their parents at parent-teacher interviews. Tux has been missed while not in class.

Welcome back Tux

Previous postings to do with Tux

Son of Citation Machine


I gave my annual demo of the program called Citation to my year 12 class today. They were suitably impressed with it as a tool for producing their bibliographies. It is installed on every computer in the school.

A couple of students had a question about whether it was free and if they could use it at home. I had to say that we paid dollars for a site license and it would be illegal for that to happen. So we did a bit of a search for an alternative.

The 'Son of Citation Machine' I think is a good alternative. It is web based, free and will easily produce a reference in the appropriate form. So a student would type the reference source into an online form and then the web site will produce that in the correct format which can be copied and pasted into a word processor

The 'Son of Citation Machine' is not quite as good as the program 'Citation' but it is very very workable and certainly well worth the money :-)

There is also an open source program called Jabref that might be worth a look.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Filezilla and PHP Designer 2006 combo

Just prior to Christmas 2005 I documented thoughts about how to set up the PHP MySQL learning environment at school.

Recently I discovered that I can set the default editor in Filezilla to PHP Designer 2006. This means that students can right click on a file hosted on the LiveLAMP server and edit it. Up it pops in PHP Designer 2006. On closing the file with PHP Designer it asks if you want to save the file. Works a treat and makes the editing and checking cycle quicker.

Students need to be told to use Filezilla to make regular copies of their work in their network home folders as the LiveLAMP work is NOT backed up

This method does not work well where the remote server is not within the LAN.

You need a plan

You need a plan video is a 1-2 minute cartoony type video that draws upon our knoweldge of what architects do to explain the function of a person who designs information systems and why they are important to a business.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Online flowcharts - Gliffy.com

Thanks to Leigh for this link. I like the fact that Gliffy made it easy to publish and then integrate with other applications like Blogger. I can see it being inegrated nicely with Moodle and so on as well. Nice for High School for sure. We have cmap on our school network but this is simple and easy for students to use at home as well.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I have been given a domain name and server space as a gift for the next five years by Tony and Sonya who own www.seol.net.au. How awesome is that?

SEOL (South East OnLine) was, to the best of my knowledge, the first rural ISP to operate in South Australia and is still going all of these years later. That's pretty awesome in the face of the monster players around today.

So I have Moodle as my front page at www.watiwara.com with an explanation of the dingo paw, domain name and motto. Joomla has also been added to the website, the use of this is experimental at this stage. I have added and modified themes to both of these with the view of making them look like they belong together - purely becuase it was a challenge. Joomla still needs some configuring and what not to make features like email work.

In time I am thinking about installing Wordpress and Gallery on the site and moving this blog to my domain (said with great pride). However, Plunkers emailed me a link to the Moodle Forum talking about modifing Drupal to use the same login credentials as Moodle(or it was modifiying Moodle to use Drupal's credentials, whatever, the end point is the same). This has some serious advantages when considering creating an eLearning environment.

Mediawiki is still my preference for a standalone wiki to use where I do not want to integrate it into a Moodle course. So maybe mediawiki is the next tool to add.

Free PHP MySQL presentation at CEGSA annual conference

I am presenting a session at the CEGSA annual conference in Adelaide in mid July.

CEGSA state conference

CEGSA = Computer in Education Group of South Australia

The sessions is called

“Free Server Side Programming learning environment”

As the SA Senior School IT curriculum is set to changes as of the start of 2007, there is an opportunity here for involving students in lots of free learning options that allow them to continue their learning unencumbered. This presentation relates to creating a learning environment involving PHP and MySQL and making use of a free LiveLAMP server


I am preparing my presentation using wikispaces

If people would like to contribute to this exercise you would be most welcome. Other experiences with how LiveLAMP has been used would be great. Reasons why a PHP MySQL learning environment are advantageous might also be an area for consideration. If there are points that I should also raise in the presentation please feel free to add them to the topics and create a page.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Computer games <> violent behaviour


Playing computer games may actually be good for children, according to a government study that found no proof that even violent games triggered aggressive behaviour.
There is a suggestion that social factors might have more to do with children displaying violence - care, love and respect by parents and teachers might be examples of these social factors along with how the society in general behaves toward each other and so models for the children.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Design process modelling

This blog provides an excellent account of the design process and I love the fact that it is a young person showing the way here. The blog contains lots of pictures and examples of how a design is developed and reviewed. I also like the idea of using a blog to document the process. Excellent modeling for our students. What a great way for a young person to develop an online presence and portfolio.

Hello, I am Anand Sharma and this section of my site is my [we]blog. I am currently 16 - a junior in High School in Southern California (Glendale/Los Angeles to be specific). I consider web design my profession and photography my hobby.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kid's Programming Language going open source?

Panoramic Photo Gallery

I can not read Japanese but I believe that this is a panoramic photo gallery of a Japanese storm water drainage system. The initial schematic provides an overview of the storm water drainage system and the user/viewer can then choose to look at a number of panoramic views within that system

For those interested in making these sorts of panoramas with kids there is a brief how to at

The initial schematic could probably be made with a vector graphics program like 'inkscape' (Free Open Source product)

This all makes for a challenging technical exercise that involves kids in creative design work at a cost of around $0.00

Friday, May 05, 2006

Read a Banned Book - Censorship

A relatively recent article dealing with censorship in the wake of the infamous cartoons. This simple sentence sums up the article.
Censorship is the act of cowards.

It focusses on printed matierial - books.
What are the implications for the internet and schools?
How do you create the balance between being legally safe and providing a quality 'open and free education'?


Unskilled and Unaware of It

Damn Interesting is a great site that seems to provide really useful explainations to a number of things. This particular article talks about the observation that incompetent people tend to overestimate their skills while highly competent people tend to underestimate them. It points to research that supports this notion along with some rationale.

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that "the trouble with
the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of
doubt." This is true whether one interprets "stupid" as foolish (short on
smarts) or as ignorant (short on information). Deliberately or otherwise, his
sentiment echoes that of Charles Darwin, who over one hundred years ago pointed
out that "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does

Given that students are a little bit like people :-) , one could draw the conclusion that students who are incompetent in relation to the learning that is happening in a class could be acting upon the idea that they are competent.

So the teacher needs to sensitively help the student to understand that this may not be so (create the incongruity). This can be an emotional time.


Hacker thinking or mindset

A story about a train repair man who fixed a problem that was costing the company he worked for lots of money. His solution involved was simple and cheap, involving a hair net as an air intake filter.

Its a story about innovation and lateral thinking. Innovation also requires people to take it up and I respect the company for writing this solution up into their maintenance documentation.

I wonder if there is a way to teach this to students? It really is a hacker approach to things.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Get Legal - Get OpenOffice.org


I wonder how many families have illegal copies of Microsoft products installed on their home computer because the kids need to do their homework and the school uses Microsoft?

Get legal. Get OpenOffice.org

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mind Matters - Attribution Training

Had a student free day today to get some training provided by

a resource and professional development program to support Australian secondary schools in promoting and protecting the social and emotional wellbeing of members of school communities.

The training was very entertaining and interesting, focussing on 'Staff Matters'.


Some of the discussion was kind of connected to the idea of Maximisers and Satisficers, although these terms were not used.


The was also some talk about how people attribute the causes of events. I felt that this was skipped over a little quickly. My feeling is that this is pretty fundamental to how we deal with things and our mental health.


A really interesting little video is at
In this case it is a helper talking to a client about her baby that cries for no apparent reason. I was very impressed by the questioning of the 'helper' to assist the woman to arrive at a solution. - jeeeeeez these people make me sick with their talent.

Attribution training.
This is another description of attributional training - it sites a couple of experiments - one about littering. "Neat oval-neat kids" The other was in the classroom - a maths experiment. One of the comments is "Now, even if this is true and the children do explain their behavior with internal attributions, will it translate into higher math scores? It is one thing to believe that you are good at something. It is another thing to be good."

The virginia council for learning disabilities posts a very easy to read statement about 'attributional training' at
Donnie may still walk in the room with an F on his test, but now his teacher can respond with: “Let’s sit down and figure out why your strategy didn’t work and what you can use next time.”

Some of these links relate to changing behaviour with the idea that you have to first acknoweldge that you have some control over what is happening by using internal attributions. The other way to look at this is that when you feel that you have some control over your life you feel happier and are less suseptable to depression.

I think that this is supported in the Mindmatters resources