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, February 28, 2008

LinkBlip ur Yakkle - chat, VoIP, file and screen sharing

The following Yakkle link makes use of LinkBlip. It sends me an email when someone clicks on it. If that is a problem for you then use the full URL link at the bottom. I am thinking that LinkBlip might be a method that I could use to test the effectiveness of the communication of the resources I share with staff at my school.

Yakkle is a tool that allows you to chat, make VoIP calls, send files and receive, and has a built in screen sharing facility. Its free. I wonder how many people we can simultaneously communicate with or is it 1:1. The FAQ states that it integrates with Google Chat and Jabber. This seems to be worth a look.


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Google Apps for schools demo

A search for videos using the criteria 'google apps in schools' produced some interesting results. One was the Google@school - Google Apps Technical Q&A but the more engaging and informative for me was Chris Iremonger speaks at Google@school - Google Apps Demo

Chris Iremonger is a very skilled presenter and comes across as confidently representing Google Inc. I felt that he could be trusted. I was encouraged by the many and consistent references to the importance of open standards. It was more than clear that Google wants to make open the possibility for people to integrate their solutions with them and so open standards are central.

This particular video was posted 2 years ago and has had only 673 views. This video needs to be viewed by every education technology strategist/coordinator/CEO/? within education sectors. There are surely more than 673 of them. As we are thinking about the future and options for our schools, this would have to be one of the options we explore.

There are lots of questions and considerations for us to consider but some of the questions that could be asked include

  • Is it technically feasible to offer this to the staff and students in our schools?

  • What would the transition look like?

  • What are the pros and cons?

  • Could offering the basic apps in this way allow us to make use of lower spec machines for longer?

  • Are there security or privacy issues that need to be considered?

  • Would administering this be easier than edumail, ms office, ..........?

I appreciated the fact that the Google Apps solution provided options and choice and it was clear that the developers had a grip on the needs of educational institutions and the protection of their students.

I was hit with the notion - what if they decided that education had to pay sometime down the track? Provide the service for free for now to produce 'lockin'. Hmm. The whole time that education had made use of the free service they were also eliminating the alternatives from growing. Students should not be presented with hurdles (legal and/or financial) to continuing with their learning outside of the school and we need to approach this with vision so that we can achieve this in the short and long term. I guess that the use of open standards throughout the Google Apps means that 'lockin' is less likely to be an issue.

I like the way that collaboration is built into all aspects of the suite of Google apps. This was very evident in the video and begged the question, why would a school pay for Groove?

The video runs for about 60 minutes and at the 51 minute mark Chris talks about the upgrade process. He states that when they update software it allows the user to continue with their operations. When they log out and then log back on they then take advantage of the upgrade. Seamless, nice.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Scratch with Year 9 boys

I have a class of year 9 boys doing IT. We decided to have a play with Scratch and are well into it. I asked them to write down three words that best describes their experience with Scratch to date.

The following words were used more than once
Boring 3
Cool 4
Exciting 2
Fun 11
Good way 2
Interesting 7
Learn 3

36 of the words used were positive and 6 were negative.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

The psychology of apology

The recent sorry day has created some curiosity in me about how apology works and the psychology of apology. The video of the sorry speech can be viewed on the ABC website.

Using the simple search term 'psychology of apology' some interesting links were uncovered that are useful in fleshing this subject out. There is a brief statement titled "Group-based Guilt and Apology in Australia" in the School of Psychology ANU website.

collective or group-based guilt is a real phenomena which seems to produce real consequences. Despite the views of some prominent political leaders Australians can and do feel sorry for things for which they are not personally responsible for even though their group is. The research also shows that group-based guilt predicts support for apology. These findings is consistent with the social identity approach, an approach which has many leading exponents in the School of Psychology at ANU.
A conference promotion scheduled for Feb 2002 titled "Apologies: Mourning the Past and Ameliorating the Future" is great for the questions that are posed. For people who want to really flesh out this topic, these questions are great conversation starters. Some of these follow

  • In what ways is apology related to acknowledgement and forgiveness?
  • To what extent is apology an admission of guilt and responsibility?
  • What is the difference between apology and atonement?
  • Apology and repentance?
  • Forgiveness and redemption?
  • What roles do victims, perpetrators, and larger moral communities play in the negotiation of apology and forgiveness?
  • In what ways is apology a perpetrators act?
  • In what ways is it a victims act?
  • What psychological models help us to understand the transactions that lie at the core of apology?
  • How do apologies affect victims and perpetrators?
  • What are the psychological costs of apology?
  • What have empirical studies taught us about apology as a strategy for conflict resolution?
  • What place have religion and theology given to apology?
  • How well do recent acts of inter-group apology fit with religious understandings of restorative justice?
Pick the brain blog has two posts of interest
  • 5 Steps to an Effective Apology which is basically dealing with what makes a good apology.
  • How to Learn from Mistakes post basically states that learning involves making mistakes and sometimes those mistakes come at a cost to others. Good learners may therefore need to be good at making apologies.
If you’ve made mistakes that harm other people, it is important to offer a dignified apology. Be clear that it was an unfortunate incident that will not be repeated. A good apology can go along way to restoring trust.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Electronic forms and surveys

Collecting and analysing data is a critical step in the improvement cycle. Doing this electronically has the potential of shortening this stage so that we can more rapidly move into the action stages where the actual improvement happens.

There are a range of tools available for this including

I like the idea of Google Docs because it is free and integrated into their overall application service. Google Docs provides an online wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, and free storage. JotForm also creates forms in this way but these are not integrated integrated into other applications.

Google Docs
Using Google Docs, online survey forms can be created that allow for a variety of questions types including
  • text
  • paragraph text
  • multiple choice
  • checkboxes
  • choose from list

You will need a Google login to start creating a form but the people that you want to fill out your form or survey will not.

Once the survey is prepared you enter the recipient email addresses and wait for the results to flow back in.

The results are automatically added to a spreadsheet ready for further analysis.

Video showing how to create a survey form

Written instructions