Monday, August 10, 2009

So Flash!!

I have been trialing Toufee Flash Video maker as an alternative to Adobe Flash. Basically, I can't afford the real thing so thought I'd try out the online alternatives. I have to say that Video production is way easier to understand. It's only a 14 day free trial but that's long enough to try out all the features. If video production is something you are considering at your school, I'd check it out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I've been looking at IT Hardware available in New Zealand and comparing it to what's available overseas. My curiosity was directed mostly at the difference in price. This blog aims to share my findings and provide readers to do the same. The following digital camera is a great example of the savings that can be made from sourcing products online.

Palm Video Camera and voice recorder

Palm Digital Video Camera - 2.5 Inch TFT LCD Rotating Screen

3 Products in One
Palm Sized 3.0 Mega Pixel Digital video Camera, still camera and Voice recorder.
USB connection for ease of use

How can you use this product:

* Digital video - 39 Interesting ways to use your pocket video camera in the classroom.
* Digital camera - Claymation, photostory and much more.
* Built in voice recorder - use this feature for digital story-telling, podcasting and interviewing. Combine with free programs like audacity.


This product does not support Mac OS.

Recording time for video. This camera will record up to 1hr 20 min with an external 1 GB SD Card (not included) on high resolution. Without the card you will only get about 12 -15 minutes Hi Res.

Internal: 128MB

External: SD/MMC Card (1GB Max) Dick Smith Electronics have these cards for under $20NZD.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Widget Box

Well, I haven't had much time for blogging lately but I thought I'd add this one in quickly. Widget box is a great resource for adding widgets to your blog. Here's a Math Man game I found, looks like PacMan but you have to do the math to get to the next round. This site is searchable so look for widgets that suit your needs.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What does Inquiry look like?

I've been sitting in on planning meetings with schools and in an effort to focus planning on Big Ideas, key concepts and competencies we created a document that sets out the stages of an inquiry. Obviously it will be different from school to school depending on the language you use to describe inquiry, but in practical terms it defines the teaching that generally occurs at each stage. It also states the level of teacher / student control. For example, during the focus / knowledge attack stage teaching is more traditional and teacher led.

Inquiry Planning Template Inquiry Planning Template Heath Sawyer .
The practical implementation of a 10 week inquiry unit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wikis and Websites - what's the difference?

I am asked this question quite frequently and thought I'd explain to the best of my ability from an educational perspective.

Websites sit in the web 1.0 category and are the original format that information was shared across the web. A website has a limited number of authors and were in large content based. The viewpoints of the authors were the only perspective available and besides email or submitting a form, interaction was very limited with the audience. Ownership and Audience interaction are the two key disadvantages of web 1.0.

Web 2.0 is very different in the fact that it has the ability to be highly interactive with the audience and can build communities of like-minded people. Wikis combine the features of adding 'static content' or information as well as developing collaborative content within a community. (Wikipedia is a good example of this)

The aim in education when using wikis is to build students knowledge and capability in co-constructing their learning. Because wikis are editable, students have the opportunity to use web 2.0 tools to demonstrate their learning with the input of others collectively. They become the authors and in so doing their learning becomes transparent.

I would certainly encourage teachers to use wikis to gather resources, display learning outcomes etc for student reference, but the idea is to use wikis to include scaffolding so students become more independant and then interdependant learners. This is certainly the intent of the nz curriculum vision of enabling students to be 'confident, connected 21st century learners'.

Community: If we are co-constructing learning with our students we need also to define the role of the teacher. Wikis provide us with the opportunity to involve parents, other classrooms and teachers. With effective use the input we can have on a child's learning stretches far beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. The students become teachers and the teachers become facilitators.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Back from the Learning @ School 09 Conference in Rotorua and reflecting on the highlights and points to improve on.

On day one the Keynote was Andy Hargreaves speaking on 'The fourth Way of Leadership and Change'. My mind was half on the topic at hand and half on preparing for my own workshop on collaboration. I thought it might be a good opportunity to try out a collaborative tool called Etherpad so I created a document and spread the word on twitter. If you have a look at the doc you'll see text highlighted in different colours, these colours represent the various authors involved from the conference.
The tool was fabulous and worked better than I could have hoped. I actually had to create a second document to accommodate more authors as etherpad only allows 8 participants at a time. I was a little put out but pleased that I couldn't get back into my original document because it was in full use by others. Thinking about it now, it was great having others help me in my note-taking and the collaboration was so successful. I also liked that if I missed or forgot something, someone else added it in.

So how good is it? I think etherpad did what it was setup to do and our group were able to expand on the issues and thinking being put before us. The chat feature is good for clarifying before adding content. It was note-takiing so a little hap-hazard but with a quick review of the PowerPoint provided for the keynote it all made perfect sense.

Thumbs up Etherpad ... 8 1/2 out of 10. More users would be nice, or a copy/paste overflow to a second document.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pimp my Gmail: Backup your files.

I have been using Gmail for about 3 years and have used 5% of the storage capacity of the service without deleting a single message. At the same time I have had 3 computers and needed to deal with the nightmare of file storage. This is what I use for files I want to keep safe and refer to often:

Backup to Gmail: It's a basic program that allows me to right click any file and send it to my Gmail account.

If you are a serious Gmail user then you'll be using Firefox for your browser as it has more features than IE. Regardless of this, Gmail can be a mess unless you use 'filters and labels' so you'll want to create a label for your backup files and filter those files to that label.


  1. My important files are online and secure within my account and accessible anywhere.
  2. Because my files are in Gmail they are searchable.
  3. Nifty little addons let me see the file type.
  4. Gmail keep adding storage space to my account.

There are a bunch of tools that make Gmail work for you so will elaborate on those in future posts.