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.

Monday, January 09, 2012

XO-3 OLPC Tablet


News of a cheap robust tablet peaks my curiosity.  Recently I was talking to Bill Kerr which rekindled my interest in trialing the use of the OLPC in the APY Lands.

My recent observation visit to Ernabella, on the Lands, indicated that a number of families had tried computer purchases but they did not last due to the harsh conditions. This map indicates that some neighbouring settlements to Ernabella may be having a go with the OLPC.

There are a couple of things that are of special interest with this tablet.

  • Charging and power saving options
  • The literacy trials that are part of its release and the fact that MIT Media Lab (behind the development of Scratch) are part of that trial
  • The testing of ways to promote self learning and critical thinking
I think that I will settle into Ernabella at the start of the year, keep an eye out for the release of the tablets and purchase one to check out as soon as I can.

I wonder if the work I am doing with the development of a Pitjantjatjara spell check dictionary for Libre and Open Office can mesh with the tablet in some way?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Match sound with word

I've created a prototype game that can be used to reinforce the association of a sound with the appropriate written word. This is a game that could be hacked and used for the teaching of literacy in any language but my interest is for the teaching of minority languages like Pitjantjatjara.

The sounds could be someone saying the words in the list.


Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Outback Aborigines in no rush to log on


"Only about one-third of the 48 people involved in the research had been online -- despite the potential for the internet to help people live on remote traditional lands while still having access to information and services."

From 2012 I will be teaching in Ernabella and one of my roles is ICT. Seems that there might be some work to be done but first I have some questions.

  1. Are there cultural issues or other issues with older people learning from younger people?
  2. What sort of bandwidth and access is there currently in the APY Lands?
  3. How is this current capacity being utilised?
  4. What is the potential for growth (eg. dual ISP)?
  5. What are other agencies currently doing (eg TAFE)?
  6. How much and what sort of collaboration exists between DECS and TAFE?
  7. What is the driver for people accessing the internet? To what extent is curiosity the driver for indigenous people currently accessing the internet in these remote areas?
  8. Would some sort of variation of my recycle scheme work or be helpful?


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Course Design for Indigenous Students

The paper "Design for a Culturally Affirming Indigenous Computer Literacy Course" provides some good advice for the design of courses for Indigenous students.

The key points

The hidden curriculum is alive and well. Indigenous students feel it and react to the assimilationist nature of our courses, even though we do not plan it to be that way.

The use of ICT in all courses can be a great asset because it can be used to facilitate
  • greater use of visual-spatial learning assets
  • tactile
  • patient (activities can be repeated without anyone needing to feel frustrated) and with lots of positive reinforcement
  • can have lots of multimedia
  • allows teacher to become coach on the side and removes the temptation to be judgmental and so students getting more 1 on 1 attention that delivering to the group style of teaching
  • learning materials can be more easily customised to suit.
  • learning can be more easily negotiated.
  • opens the door to my project based learning
  • can be used to facilitate collaborative activities
  • facilitates lots of options for creative expression
  • feedback without shame - basically a computer delivering a quiz result is better than a teacher doing it.

Strong case for eLearning I reckon.

Monday, March 07, 2011

SA TfEL and Anangu schools

South Australian schools have recently received a lovely new glossy "South Australian Teaching for Effective Learning Framework Guide". More information about this is here

The actual framework is here.

Our glossy is 88 pages.

The first part (domain) of the framework deals with "Learning for effective teaching" and it was element 1.3 that caught my attention. Element 1.3 states "Participate in professional learning communities and networks" and of all the 6 elements in this domain I see this one as the one that facilitates the others.

I've been participating in online education communities since the early 2000's and have been teaching since the late 70's. I've had a go at establishing some niche communities over that time. What I have learned since my involvement in these online state, national and international communities make all of my professional learning prior to that look pale.

This involvement has facilitated
  • 1.1 - Understand how self and others learn
  • 1.2 - Develop deep pedagogical and content knowledge
  • 1.5 - Discuss educational purpose and policy
  • 1.6 - Design, plan and organise for learning and teaching.
Having taught in a very isolated school at the start of my teaching career (Fregon Anangu School) I wondered how this might translate for them.

When I was there we had a single radio telephone for the entire community. The school got one after a while. The mail plane flies in each Tuesday and Thursday. Alice Spings was the nearest centre and was a seven hour drive. That's it.

It was this experience that inspired the title for my blog - 'Waraku Education' which in translation means the education belonging to the tall man.

These days the communities have broadband and phones, and some even have mobile phone coverage. However, teachers in the area perform in a way that is different to the main stream and so I wondered where the opportunities to immerse themselves in professional communities might exist.

The OZTEACHERS list is where I began.

I made the following post
Can anyone point me to some functioning online ESL teacher communities please?
Within 5 days I had 7 responses. Some to the list and some private. The following is a collation of the ideas that I got.

Australian education and training professionals with an online networking and profile space...
Here is a good one
this may well be a good place to start
Here's a list of Edu-Qld emailing lists. One is simply called, 'ESL' and currently has 246 subscribers so i guess it's a fairly vibrant community.

Many of these email-communities look interesting and maybe of assistance.

They're free for everyone, anywhere and have a great professional spirit.
Links of Interest to Students & Teachers of English as a Second Language

Even in geographically isolated places, teachers need not feel professionally isolated anymore.

I wonder if an APY teacher community is worth thinking about as well?


Monday, February 28, 2011

Adding a language/locale for Pitjantjatjara Dictionary

This link itemises what I need to add a language/locale

The numeric Microsoft® locale identifier (LCID), here informally usually referred as MS-LangID, for attribution used by the core code and also needed for import and export of MS-Office document file formats.
There does not appear to be one.

The ISO 639 language code

The ISO 3166 country code

A mapping between those two.
No idea what this means

A language list box entry.
This is also Greek to me

Whether the language uses complex text layout (CTL).

Whether the language is written from right to left (RTL).

Labels: , ,

Pitjantjatjara spell checker

I've started work on making a Pitjantjatjara dictionary for LibreOffice/Open Office. On Friday I met with a linguist by the name of Paul Eckert. He has been working on a bible translation for the past 25 years and gave me a list of words that appear in that translation project. This provides an excellent starting point.

Some of the letters have an underline and so we need to use Unicode fonts that support these characters.

I have joined the languages mailing list for LibreOffice and asked for advice about what to do next.

Labels: , ,