A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘Innovation’ tag

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by themolisticview

November 6th, 2010 at 6:44 am

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.

Written by themolisticview

February 20th, 2010 at 5:32 am

So this cloud computing thing……

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You may be asking why is this guy going on so about cloud computing.

To start how many times has this happened in your class,

  • I can’t open my USB Sir/Miss.
  • I thought I saved it!
  • My directory ifs full.
  • The computer say’s I’m not connected to the network!

More times than anybody likes to admit right.

Admittedly with students from Year 9 this year and on for at least three years (the federal money runs out), will not have these excuses because their netbook has 100GB of disk space and goes where ever they take it.

But what happens when the netbook die’s for what ever reason and their work is lost forever? It can not be retrieved, it has vanished like the money on wall street over the past 18 months. As everyone who owns a computer knows, you can not back up your files enough. Be it locally, on a variety of external devices and now on a variety of file sharing sites (the cloud).

Don’t get me wrong what the department has done and is doing is great, the new MyLocker (see my previous post), will be a great benefit for those who have small files. But what about the students like the ones I teach. I teach industrial technology multimedia and many of my students also study visual arts subjects which also require large files. The smarter ones will save their Photoshop, Flash, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, video files and more right through until they have finished year 12 because they know they may need them for HSC. Then they also need to save similar files of similar size for their visual arts subjects as well. If they can not afford the external hardware, where are they to back up their work for future use?

May be one file sharing service is not the answer, as Darcy Moore alluded to  in his post on Google docs (see Darcy’s post here). The only problem is that Google docs is only currently available for staff. Wouldn’t this be a great asset for teachers and students to share without the bounds of the portal? YouTube was recently made available though again only for staff. If you want for your students to interact with a particular video you have found, they have to wait till they get home and use the family computer (YouTube will be blocked on the netbooks). Of course the department says you can add your screen casts to ITunes. But I am not a fan of reinventing the wheel if it is easily available else where without breaking copyright laws through illegal downloads and re-distribution.

Another opportunity which is not cloud related is that of blog’s, for teacher, students and parents. Currently teachers have access to edublog’s and WordPress as do years 11 -12.  But what about the students who will benefit from blog’s and there own PLN’s in this years netbook roll out and the  year 8 cohort near Christmas. Personally I am looking into including WordPressMu as part of my schools website so teachers and students can interact with each other’s blog’s while at school (portal issue’s again), and they can share with their parents later. Darcy Moore had an interesting discussion on the purpose of school web site last week (see Darcy’s post here).

Well thats what I think. What about you guy’s?

Written by theMolisticView

August 8th, 2009 at 9:35 am

Sir Ken Robinson

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Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker on education, creativity and innovation, who has advised various governments and major global corporations says that most education systems around the world including Australia’s, are still modelled on the needs of the industrial age, were already narrow and are getting narrower.

‘The 7.30 Report Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 16/06/2009 Reporter: Kerry O’Brien’

On The 7.30 Report website [linked above] there are full interview transcripts and video of the interview by Kerry O’Brien for download.

Below is a TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson which outlines a case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Written by theMolisticView

July 5th, 2009 at 4:55 am

Our challenge

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A recent video by Greg Whitby, who shares his ideas on challenging norms within education and the need for schools to be places of innovation, diversity and creativity.

What are your thoughts??

Written by theMolisticView

July 3rd, 2009 at 1:34 pm