theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘DET NSW’ tag

Chaplain’s versus Laptops

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The Digital Education Revolution is dead; its death will take place sometime in December 2011 when Kevin Rudd’s original promise is reached and all that will be left is 20 million dollars of support for infrastructure for a two year period. At the same budget reading we heard about a nation wide drive for Chaplains in schools. Where did we as educators go wrong? I have strong memories from 1985 at high school of scripture class as it was called at the time and the issues that caused for those students who did or did not attend. Why is it back and Federal supported and funded at what blatantly appears to be at the cost of future proofing the nation and my retirement?

The death of the revolution will hurt me and teachers who, like me teach Computer Science based subjects. We teach the students how to use the trucks (thanks to Steve Jobs for that gem) that drive the worlds computing. The revolution in NSW brought equity to schools and their students. In NSW the revolution saved me from having to win a fight with my English faculty over spending $20,000 on the full Adobe Creative Suite which I was never going to win. It provided my students with a computer that was not restrained by what is now a 10 year old operating system which is XP, which by the way still has a massive strangle hold on my region which I cannot explain when other regions in NSW already are running the same hardware on Windows 7 and they could take them home and continue to work and learn through complex problems. What makes it even more painful is that this years cohort where the most excited since the revolution began and realised from the start of the limitations of their new learning tool.

These fore mentioned trucks (destop PC’s) have continued funding under T4L and wont be disappearing anytime soon, the only question mark over the T4L is the extra software contracts NSW picked up as part of the revolution and what is their expiry date.

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YouTube as your schools social platform?

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My school used to develop and maintain its own website, recently the boss decided he wanted to change to the NSW DET’s hosted service. This website services service pre-populates the site with all the relevant DET policies and news as they happen to change or be modified which removes the need for the school to maintain such links and documents.

My boss’s reason for joining the DET provided service was to be able to communicate and connect with our school community better. He believes that the service will provide any easier way for the school to do this. This came about during the budget process where the bill for three terms of SMS messaging to parents came to $6,000 plus with a term to go. The SMS service is used mainly for absences and lateness to school and was demanded by our school community some years ago. Since the boss started two years ago he has also used the service to publicise events at school and the release date of the school newsletter online.

With the preview version of the site available to me I was asked to start adding content and looking at ways the school can push notifications of events at school for free via the site. Currently the website service does not have RSS which would be the easiest way to push information without the community visiting the site. Getting traffic to a school website is hard. With our previous version I used to run Google Analytics, the only times there were spikes in views was when a job at the school was available or after a video was posted.

So having added the latest newsletter and images from the last significant event at the school I went looking how to add all the video that we had. It turns out that the school has to embed video from a hosted service like YouTube or Vimeo. This surprised me, as students in the DET system are not able to view or access such web services. Having noted this I immediately asked the boss if it was okay to set up a school account on YouTube. He promptly said yes and to send him the login details having done so.

So now my school has a YouTube channel currently with one video available here http://www.youtube.com/user/StClairHighSchool

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November 6th, 2010 at 6:44 am

A Wordle for HSC Practical Marking Background

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Started preparing for the up-coming HSC Industrial Technology Multimedia Practical component. I decided to use Wordle to make a background image for the marking home page. Here is one example…

Wordle: HSC Multimedia NSW

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July 26th, 2010 at 8:27 am

Fireworks for DER NSW

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Shortly before term 1 holidays, I was asked if I could come up with a presentation concept for a conference coming later in the year. I racked my brain throughout the day, trying to workout what would be the technology basis for the presentation, I went home and still couldn’t narrow down on a concept which I thought would capture both teacher’s via the conference and then their students when the took the idea back to their school’s.

The next day back at school and it was time for one of my favourite classes, Year 12 Multimedia. During the lesson I noticed one of the less motivated students, still trying to piece together her design in PhotoShop. I went asked her, ‘what is the problem, you’ve been working on this for over 10 weeks’. Her answer was not as surprising as it may read given her interest, and class attendance during the course, ‘I am not confident in making the web site from scratch with only images and no starting code’. My short answer was for her to continue in PhotoShop with her design, so it was ready for the start of term 2.

At home later that night, I was going through an external hard drive and stumbled across a folder of videos from Lynda.com [When you purchase the Adobe software, a bonus on registering your product was a months free subscription to www.lynda.com]. I saw the folder named CS4_Fireworks, and it dawned on me, ‘hey theres a video in there of exporting a web page from an image mock-up’.

I opened the folder and started filtering through the videos, soon I came across the three which were of my memories. A quick search of http://www.adobe.com/devnet/ and there was more information about using Fireworks for producing web pages.

Now I have to profess, I only use three Adobe applications regularly. They are 1. PhotoShop 2. Acrobat Pro Extended 3. Flash. I rarely use any other products from the CS suite of apps.

Soon after I was having troubles organising Blogs and Wiki’s for my other classes, at the same time there was a lot of chat on my PLN through Twitter regarding the new BlogED Blog tool. I was soon allowed to look at a live example of a BlogED. I had a quick look through the code using my browsers tools. It was a fairly simple layout, wouldn’t be to hard to reproduce in a Multimedia Stage 5 lesson.

I then thought about this a little further, and quickly came to thinking this would be an excellent idea, but instead of going the normal route of PhotoShop > Dreamweaver, use Fireworks. I got to planning a 5 week schedule and thought this would make an excellent presentation at a conference.

Then I got to thinking how would I back this up at a conference and remove the hassle that normally takes place with electronic files. Set up a Wiki.

The Wiki, fireworksfordernsw.pbworks.com was born. Over a week I made documents to back up template files I have made plus several screen casts to help new comers to Fireworks to design and publish web pages easily. Now this Wiki is not a place for me just to share templates with everyone else, it is to try and build a community around the use of Fireworks, especially on DERvices. You don’t have to sign up the Wiki is accessible to all visitors.

To my amazement Fireworks for DER NSW Wiki even shows up in Google Alerts as the image below demonstrates.

So please all join in and make this a true community!

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April 17th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

What would you want from a School web app

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Having bought an iPhone just before Christmas and learning its capabilities and down falls, I started to look into how it displayed websites such as those which I have developed, specifically the schools website. Without any iPhone specific changes they worked ok, using the phone network only, they took to much time to download. These sites are not big in size and download to the desktop extremely fast.

So what to do? First I thought lets find out how many of these devices are out there? Well finding information out about phones is difficult normally, the iPhone specifically even more so. After searching the web I found this little snippet…

The iPhone is selling well in Australia. Research firm IDC reports that the iPhone has taken 21% of the Australian smartphone market share in the past 12 months, putting Apple in 2nd place behind Nokia and just ahead of Blackberry.

I imagine having seen more and more iPhones and other smart phones in the hands of people over the holiday break there are even more out there then these figures suggest. Google has released the Nexus one Google phone. Although not available in Australia until some time later this year, this device will have more smart phones in the hands of people who are not keen on an Apple iPhone.

So back at the start of a new school year with an Apple announcement in a few days, I did a quick survey of my students. Who has an iPod Touch?, who surfs the net with it. More then half of 60 students answered yes to both and added that the local burger joint now has a free wireless service again.

A couple of days later Apple finally showed the world the new device, the iPad. The iPad takes your smart phone and makes it bigger. It has most of the functionality of a smart phone, minus the phone. Obviously we now have a world of smart portable devices, connected to the internet all the time. Which leads to my question.

“What would you like from a School based web app ?”

Web apps are not just for the Apple mobile devices, any mobile device that uses the Android (Google developed) system can access most of the same features which the Apple devices enjoy. These modern web apps all use the new HTML5 and CSS3 standards, unlike your Windows based desktop or mobile devices which are not compatible unless they are running the Google Chrome Web Browser. Web apps also are not like the applications you have to purchase from iTunes or the Google apps store, they are actual web sites/pages which you can download to your mobile device or desk top if compatible.

There is so much more technical detail I could go into, but if you have seen an iPhone or an Android phone in action with web apps like Flickr, Google etc…  you can see what the future holds for our students. The future is web apps, it may not be visible to all this year or the next, though when Windows and Internet Explorer become aware of the new HTML5/CSS3 standards it will be like a punch in the face.

So please, anything you would like to see easily available through a school based application for mobile devices, let me know in the comments. I would like to develop an initial web app which would portable throughout the NSW DET.

Note: Not just for Apple mobile device systems.

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February 20th, 2010 at 5:32 am