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, January 31, 2007

If we must have an exam

If we must have an exam, then this is great way to do it. The students contribute questions via a wiki. This blog post reflects on the effectiveness of the strategy and some possible opportunities for improvement

Friday, January 26, 2007

No more blocked sites - psiphon

What is psiphon?
psiphon is a censorship circumvention solution that allows users to access blocked sites in countries where the Internet is censored. psiphon turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere

Hmm, is that a way that students could access blocked sites from behind the firewalls of education facilites?
Can psiphon be blocked?
With publicly accessible circumvention systems one must assume that the censors can also discover and subsequently block access to these systems. The difference with psiphon - a personal system - is that the web address is only sent to a few, trusted, people. In that way, the censors cannot easily find and block the location of the psiphon server.
The only way for this to be blocked by school systems might be the use of white lists

Can a psiphon user be monitored by their government or Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
Yes, your government and/or ISP can always monitor which web sites you visit. When you use psiphon, your government and/or ISP can only see that you connected to another computer, not the sites you visit. psiphon makes it difficult for anyone to determine that you are using psiphon
What will be the impact of white lists on "free and open education for all'.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Create 3D character - Meez

Monday, January 22, 2007

Remember this SACSA

I love my del.icio.us and the button on my Firefox browser that reads “remember this delicious” is one of my best friends. When I find something of interest I bookmark and tag it quite easily, whether at home or school. I am also part of the wiki, sharing resources for the Senior Secondary IT curriculum here in South Australia. Many of these resources are online. I usually bookmark these resources in del.icio.us and then add them to the wiki when I remember.

What I want is a button on my chosen browser that says ‘remember this SACSA’ and when I press this button, an entry is made in a SACSA oriented site as well as my other chosen social bookmaking sites like del.icio.us. The interface should make it easy to tag resources to areas of learning, curriculum bands and essential learnings.

More on Mainframes and terminals

More to add from TerenceOnline
This adds to my previous post comparing online image editors as well as
The return to mainframes and terminals
Google releasing package for the office

Terence points to some other tools as well as the Google tools

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Online Image Editors Compared

A great review of online image editors. These are free online tools where you can upload an image and then manipulate that image in various ways. For most people, these tools offer what is needed. No need to install anything on your computer and no need to purchase a product.

For school this means that students can manipulate images at home and at school with no need to install and maintain any software except for their browser and internet connection. It really is a return to terminals and mainframes. This trend also means that we really need to do something about the internet connection bandwidth and slim quotas in schools.

With such a wide variety of tools and the number forever increasing it further reinforces the point that the key teaching needs to be around process not how to use a particular product. I would love it if all students were put into a position where they were required to use a variety of these free tools and so gained lots of experience with transferring skills from one tool to the other. It also puts them in a postion where they are able to conitnue with their learning unencombered.

Leave Photoshop right out of the scene until maybe senior secondary.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pivot Stickfigure Animator

Pivot Stickfigure Animator

Pivot makes it easy to create stick-figure animations. You can build your own stick figures and load your own backgrounds. The animations can be saved as animated gifs to be used on web pages.

It is a great little free tool that could be used to do the following at school

  • introduce students to animation
  • create little animations to explain a concept or idea
  • have fun
  • give to students (484kb file size) to take home for some creative homework exercise

Thursday, January 18, 2007

This really could be me

You are PHP.  You enjoy the World Wide Web.  You are constantly changing the way you do things, and this tends to confuse people who work with you.
Which Programming Language are You?

Thanks to Leigh Blackall for this bit of fun. Anyway, while i was there i looked around a bit further. Now I also know what OS I am

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.
Which OS are You?

I also enjoyed the Microsoft purchases evil from Satan article.

BBC report - FOSS and improving business efficiency

A BBC report from Europe indicating that Open Source Software
could offer considerable savings to organisations with little effect on their business.
The report found that in "almost all" cases long-term costs could be reduced by switching from proprietary software produced by firms such as Microsoft.
However, it warned that a move to open source could increase short term costs.

Could that be another confirmation of the fact that education systems need to be actively teaching students with this software first so that businesses are in the box seat for taking advantage of this cost saving?


    • You enter words and their definitions
    • Quizlet gives you a specialized learning mode, flashcards, randomly-generated tests, and collaboration tools for classmates to help you study those words.
    • Quizlet keeps track of the words you know and only retests you on the ones you don't.
    • You can share your word sets with classmates and get email notification when others make sets for you.
    • You can import words from a file without having to retype them into Quizlet.

This is not a good tool for higher order thinking but fantastic for ensuring that students have some foundations they need for entry into the higher order stuff.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Workrave is a program that you install on your computer/s so that it tracks your usage prompting you to take breaks with suggested activities.

I wonder if it can be used as a minor big brother tool on a school network, providing some information about user activity like, total time working, total rest time will logged in, etc

It is a free open source tool available for windows and linux.

Freedom Toaster

A Freedom Toaster is a vending machine for dispensing free open source software. Users bring along their media (CD's and DVD's), select the product that they would like and it is burnt to their media.

There are instructions for how to make the machine, install and maintain. It would be good to see one of these in our public library.

The instuctions seemed to be very good and it might be useful to hack for things like a student timetable kiosk in a school