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, February 14, 2007

User/Student control

This blog post is about user control in the sense of software programming. Read the post and where the word 'user' is used, replace it with the word 'student'. What do you think????

A good discussion about Featuritis as it is a term I had not heard of before and is used in the discussion about user control.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Implementation of FOSS across the region of Extremedura - Video

This video is very powerful. It provides an excellent statement about why we should be looking to FOSS as a key educational tool right here in South Australia. I lament the fact that the decision makers are taking as rapidly away from this to what i think is the long term detriment of our communities.

The video describes the implementation of FOSS across the region of Extremedura in Europe. The video also points to other countries and regions that are adopting a similiar path. Video length is about 8 minutes.

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A good teacher sells the learning - engagement

This link is from a blog focussing on creating passionate users of software. I subscribe to it because there is so much there that can be translated into creating passionate people about all sort of things. It, of course, relates well to the learning environment and the craft of teaching. Well this post about teachers learning from marketers to improve their craft has really pressed some buttons for me. I think the author, Kathy Sierra, has nailed some really good points. It reminds me of a conversation that I had with my then curriculum senior somewhere over 20 years ago where he was telling me that a good teacher sells the learning. He was talking about engaging students and so is Kathy.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's just like learning how to cross the road

Plakboek has alterted me to an interesting story

It seems that a female relief teacher has been convicted of 'of four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child'. There are a series of popups that she did not know how to stop and did not appear to have considered pulling the plug on the computer.

This case will be used as an arguement for rigid internet filtering in schools with out thinking about what is best for the students and our society.

I would like to use my anaology of learning to cross the road.

Roads are a very dangerous place. You can get killed crossing the road if you are not experienced at it and that is why lower primary teachers have very rigid structures when taking students out of the school. They bring along more adults, train the students to walk around holding hands and so on.

As students get older, they have more experience with using the road and so by the end of secondary school students can be trusted to negotiate roads on their own.

We need to educate about the internet in a similiar way.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Crickee and PODMO

By chance I come across Crickee the day after learning about PODMO. Crickee is a little Java program that is downloaded to your mobile phone. It provides the facility for the user to SMS but the data is transmitted and received via the Mobiles Internet data connection.

This opens the door for very very cheap SMS
  • phone to phone
  • computer to computer
  • phone to computer
  • computer to phone
PODMO already has IM but only between Mobile Phone PODMO network users.


Yesterday I attended a meeting at Uni SA, Magill Campus. Members included delegates from Open Access College, Glenunga International School, Marden Senior Secondary, Aberfoyle Pk, Grant High, DECS Learning Technologies, Uni SA and PODMO

PODMO technology is scheduled for a release date of 20/2/2007. It is a South Australian innovation and it looks very cool for education. I am disappointed that Adelaide is so far away and will mean that I can't be at the launch :-(

PODMO works with bluetooth mobile phone devices. Access to the PODMO network and content is free provided you are within a ‘blue zone’ which effectively means you are within the bluetooth communication range of a PODMO server. A very small program must be downloaded to the users phone to access the PODMO network.

Setting up a PODMO server is also virtually free. You can download the server software, and as it is written in Java, can be run on Linux, Windows or Mac. The server needs to be a bluetooth device which can be achieved with a $20 USB dongle for want of a better word. This server needs to be plugged into the internet so that it can communicate with PODMO central. One of these dongles can support seven PODMO users simultaneously within that blue zone. Want to cater for more users then plug in more dongles. A blue zone is restricted by the properties of bluetooth and can be about 100m radius depending upon environmental conditions. Yesterday I saw this working where the connection to the internet was via a 3G mobile phone instead of an ADSL connection. It was just a bit slow. I wonder if I could have a PODMO blue zone for a field trip where there is no mobile phone access – eg down on the Glenelg River somewhere or in Antarctica?

Content can be uploaded to PODMO central or to a local PODMO server. Certain content can be restricted to certain ‘blue zones’. Content can include text, images, audio and video. Downloading of this content is free – the user is not paying the Telco for the download data as it is arriving to the users phone via the bluetooth PODMO network. NO data costs. [very big smile]

There is a slight exception to this with some phones. Basically, phones that do not have JSR82 have to use the Telco network to send the request for the data which is a cost of less than a cent. The data file, which could be large and cost mega bucks via the Telco, costs nothing via the PODMO network.

So basically PODMO establishes a network within the internet with free data to users.

Other things that can be done within a ‘blue zone’ (all free) include instant messaging, fill in online forms (data acquisition tasks), access maps, RSS feeds, and soon free VOIP calls. How cool is that – free phone calls from a mobile phone.

PODMO gets its money via advertising but the advertising model is absolutely non intrusive. The user chooses to access this material via menu items.

Grant High School will be part of a trial of this technology to see what educational outcomes might be able to be achieved using it. We would be in partnership with the PODMO developers, Uni SA and DECS Learning Technologies.

Not only can this be used for the delivery of learning materials and activities, it is a way for students to develop and publish materials in a contemporary way. Just when we had the idea that www and web2.0 publishing was a contemporary way, along this comes.

Youth are using mobiles and are more likely to make use of a mobile than a notebook. So the delivery of educational materials and activities via this technology seems worth experimenting with.

We could make treasure hunt activities where answers are entered via the mobile and with that the next clue is delivered.

Remember that this is free. No mobile phone costs, no sms costs. A student potentially could do this on a prepaid plan with NO credit left (provided the phone had that JSR82 thingy).

Other possibilities that we quickly thought of might be
Roll call (down the track)
Daily notices
Student news
School magazine (OK u still have the paper for the oldies)
Careers information
Photos and video for download

There will be PODMO blue zones at the following Adelaide events
Adelaide Film Festival
Adelaide Fringe Festival
2007 World Police & Fire Games
Fringe Benefits

I can see our local tourism industry getting a great deal of benefit from this.

I would like to see the facility developed where users within a blue zone are able to take photos, video and audio with their devices and upload them to a PODMO server for sharing. In an educational setting I would like that facility to be able to be moderated.

This to me is another Google startup. It is highly innovative and IMHO has a big future. It is South Australian and fits nicely with my motto of “Free and Open Education for all”. Very nice work PODMO.