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.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ubuntu test

Last night I downloaded the latest version (6.06) of Ubuntu and Xubuntu Linux (we already had Kubuntu). I made a few copies.

I plugged a notebook into the internet and installed Ubuntu and, while there, a few more games, educational packages and office tools. It was genuinely a piece of cake to do. The ease impressed me.

I took the notebook and a few of the Ubuntu and Kubuntu CD's into a couple of classes and invited some students to have a go. They found the games quickly and really enjoyed them. I was inviting another student to have a go on the laptop and the student next to him said "Go on, have a go, they're cool games"

Ubuntu is a free alternative to Windows.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Education oriented social bookmarking

I wonder what would happen if a social bookmarking site was established specifically for the education sector? What if every browser in schools had an 'add to ed.uca.tion' button? What if teachers could also have that button at home where they probably do most of their research and planning?

Teachers will tag things differently to other people because they are thinking about its application to education and they know the wank words that might be relevant.

It is useful for teachers to be using social bookmarking systems outside of the education sector as well. I would like that button to be versatile so that when I added a bookmark to ed.uca.tion that it also added it to my other social bookmarking sites.

I wonder where I would find a button maker?

This could be a useful facility for the Stephen Downes DLORN (Distributed Learning Object Repository Network) database. Objects would also be tagged. The usefulness of a particular object to one person will be different to another and this would be reflected in the tags that they used.

Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator

Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator
Why is it that the wank words seem to gather around things? And its not just in the education sector after all.

Reminds me of meeting bingo. Each player has a card with a number wank words on it. You get to cross out one of your wank words when it is uttered in the meeting. The first player to be able to cross out all of their wank words at a meeting jumps up and yells out bingo.

I must try using the search words wank word bingo in a search engine.

Colour schemes for web sites

The use of colour article is very easy to read. Very suitable for year 11 or 12 students learning about web site design. While the article does not mention CRAP design principles specifically it talks about some of them using words like

Contrast - "using very saturated colours all the time is not always good, by using shades you can make certain things stand out more or less than others"

It talks about the web safe colours, how they came about and the limitations of them.

This site referred me to an online tool that would be useful for creating a colour scheme. It is easy to use, free and useful.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Joomla extensions

There are heaps of Joomla extensions. Of particular interest are the following extensions:
  • integration of mediawiki
  • integration of gallery2
  • integration of Google Calendar
  • use of CAPTCHA

This could all work nicely for teachers in a particular subject wanting to work together on the development of resources for their subject. There is the public and private content possibilities. There are solid collaboration areas along with some coordination tools. Add a sprinkle of bot bashing.

There are also extensions relating to podcasting, forums, development and use of forms, and tools like Blogg-X to assist with updating content.

This is small bits loosely joined.

I would like to see a way to integrate the user database with Moodle and/or visa versa.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Forecasting productivity growth 2004-2024

Education is central to these predicted opportunities.

Government sectors need to invest in open source solutions. The cost is being invested in Australian people

This report was apparantly let loose on the Autralian public on March 22, 2006 at 2:27 a.m.
It was produced by the "Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts". I'm so pleased that the Arts were involved - the fact that the report said quite a bit about ICT having a significant influence over productivity in the future can be balanced by the notion that of the broader nature of the portfolio. ie. they can't be biased can they?

The report suggests that the main sources of productivity growth will be capital deepening (that is, more capital per worker) combined with technological progress in ICT and to a lesser extent biotechnology and nanotechnology.

How about the following quote - what a surprise - there is a skills deficit. I would also like to see our citizens take some responsibility for their development. No meantion of that. Let's face it - they skills themselves so that they are more competitive and productive. The writing has been on the wall for the last 30 years.

While policy issues are outside the scope of this report, it should be noted that in order to realise the predicted productivity benefits it will be necessary to support an appropriate level of investment in skill formation and in ICT related R&D.

A news item released by the ACS Foundation (Australian Computer Society) relating to this report did not make mention of the skills issue at all - I think they missed the essence with their news. The fact is that education is very central to these predicted opportunities. I think that the report failed in stating where these 'skills' need to be formed. The implication in the report is that these skills need to be in ICT. Yes this is true but the ICT skills required in the future are unknown. How will people interact with these machines? It is the higher order thinking skills, strong collaboration skills and the skills involved in learning new skills that are really important here.

It is not how to use Microsoft this and that or Adobe this and that. eg. If you are teaching Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop you are missing the point.

Also look at section 5.2 - "Possible improvements in education"

As with any autodidactic approach, computers are not suitable for the
socialisation of students. Yet, developing the social skills of children through interactions with peers and teachers is often a more important objective of education than the provision of general knowledge and skills.

So true, so true BUT often used by the ludite as their excuse for resisting the onslaught of the digital 'something'. Still, the teachers have a secure future.

This skills development point has another interesting aspect. I noted in a previous post in October of 2005

massive IT balance of trade deficit" - Does our educational use of propriety
products help or hinder?

This post was made in response to an article in The Age "Scruffy geeks on the outer"

I think that our government bodies must promote the open source stuff. Government bodies are settling for prepackaged, expensive solutions where the money is pouring out of the country. The skill set for implementing these solutions is relatively low. If they choose an Open Source solution they need advanced skills to adapt it and to make it work. These skills are not in abundance and cost. At least the cost is being invested in Australian people in this Open Source option. These much needed skills (as the report indicates) will continue to be in shortage while government bodies continue to make such short sighted decisions. They must invest in skills development and providing the place for these skills to be used. We need government to take some leadership here and now and look a bit further a head.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

SACE for the Gamer

What does playing World of Warcraft have to do with getting the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)?

Students can get points toward their SACE through Community Learning. There seem to be two categories for this Community Learning.
  1. Community Developed Programs
  2. Personal Learning Programs
The Personal Learning Programs are of particular interest.

This type of community learning is gained through experiences or a personal learning program that does not follow a formal, accredited curriculum.
The example list does not include gaming BUT if I re-read my posting You Play World of Warcraft? You're Hired! and refer to the article I think we have a good match.

the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes. Guilds routinely splinter over petty squabbles and other basic failures of management; the master must resolve them without losing valuable members, who can easily quit and join a rival guild.
Never mind the virtual surroundings; these conditions provide real-world training a manager can apply directly in the workplace.

The challenge will be to educate the accrediting authorities who will have heard about these sorts of games but probably have never played them and have little concept as to what's involved. They are likely to be trapped by the thinking that games are bad.