Waimarino Cluster Conference


I feel a little like an international jet setter these days as I presented two workshops at a mini-conference in Tauranga hosted by the Waimarino ICT cluster. Unfortunately I missed all of Michael Pohl’s opening keynote as I struggled with the Bethlehem College protocols of not allowing non technicians to connect any devices without a technician doing it- including plugging in the data projector! I had made a wiki showing some of the ways I embed ICT into my classroom practice and was trying to add the links in tabs in Internet Explorer one by one and the their PC lab computer froze when it got to something it didn’t like. After fighting the good fight a couple of times I gave up and went back to plan A and asked for help from the technician’s to hook my Apple onto their network which he did in a few seconds. I had made a back-up plan C of a Keynote of screen grabs but that would have been a lame imitation when trying to show the interconnectivity of the web

After lunch I moved onto a second group of folks wanting to podcast with a PC. An exercise fraught with complications I hear you say but I had asked them to download Audacity and the Lame Encoder beforehand to save time. I showed the assembled group a smattering of our podcasts and then we got down to business.

Following a similar practice run session with Upper Moutere School last week I managed a work around to record a digital story using PhotoStory3 and export it as a .wmv file which I converted using www.zamzar.com to a .mov file which can be uploaded to Podomatic which makes these podcasts with graphics ready for iTunes. But these sorts of digital mazes can be a bit bedazzling for novices.

Dewey Decimal Classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The final keynote was by Neil Melhuish, our MoE e-Learning Project Director. I had not heard him speak before and found his message interesting and challenging. I asked him if I record and edit his keynote. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately the sound quality of the recording left something to be desired so I won’t post it. Note to self- don’t chaw your way through crustly chocolate bars while recording with an iPod. They are very sensitive.

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Neil spoke about the way that we record knowledge in the 21st century. The challenging thing (for me) that he talked about that I hadn’t thought of before was the culture-centricity of the way we organise knowledge through the Dewey system. I have always accepted it as being the way that it is and thought of it without challenge. Looking closer though at say the Religion 200’s category. From 200 to 288 all of the subcategories are based on Christianity. All of the rest of the world’s religions lumped together only get 11 subcategories. This is the way Encyclopedia Britannica organises information in its 39 volumes. The way we can co-create knowledge in Wikipedia means that the rest of the world gets a look in- that’s a good thing.

Neil spoke also of the advances in giving children in developing countries access to 21st century learning via the OLPC scheme. I went to order one myself a Give1-Get1 OLPC laptop last Christmas but didn’t realise that the deal finished in 2007. I really do like the idea of giving a laptop and getting a laptop. Neil had a few to pass around. So much for my geekiness- I couldn’t even get the thing open!

I had to hop it smartly to the airport after the keynote and once there had a few moments to spare so opened my laptop to see if there was any chance of open wi-fi. I knew Neil’s nearby presence because I noticed olpc-mesh in my nearby devices. Even closed the clever little things were roaming looking for laptop friends to play with as Neil checked his luggage without shutting down the laptops! LOL

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Digital Story Telling

I like to think I am getting the hang of Lead Teacher Days and this one was on Digital Story Telling at Mapua School. We started of with a few exemplars of great digital stories like this one from a Robert Lloyd- a Brit describing his kiwi adventure.

We followed that by a look at where digital story telling fits with the curriculum- we quickly gave up as it fits just everywhere. That was my point really. Digital stories are an excellent media for improving literacy across the spectrum really. We then looked at some of the tools we might use- iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, Keynote, Powerpoint, Moviemaker, Photostory3 and a number of Web2.0 tools thrown in for good measure. My favourite at the moment I would like to use with a class is Videocue.


Videocue picks up your iSite camera and with a scrolling autocue you read your script that you can change the speed of if you are a slow reader. When you are done it automatically saves a Quicktime version onto your movies. Makes a girl almost want to have a class of her own to practice with!

We then set about creating digital stories based on a couple of poems I had pre-selected. People worked in groups as would happen in a classroom and our progress was recorded on our Discover IT Tasman cluster wiki. The afternoon was spent sharing and planning for our next school tour and Eric Frangenheim‘s visit in early July.


Adobe Educational Leadership

My life seems to be a whirl of late which could be a good thing or could be a bad thing. In case you missed it- Adobe have asked me to join Brenda Frisk and Colin Gover from Auckland to be Adobe Educational Leaders and last week I went to Sydney for a couple of days to find out more about what was involved.

Adobe Educational Leaders Sydney June 2008
I thought I had better get my thoughts about our Adobe meet-up recorded while they are still fresh-ish in my mind. We spent a good deal of time learning about the Adobe family of products. Adobe gave us the entire Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection which was pretty jolly generous if you ask me. I don’t think any one person could know everything about all of the products that are in the package but Soundbooth, Photoshop and Visual Creator are the ones that I would like to focus on. The thing that I like about Soundbooth is the graphical way you can edit annoying sounds that you can see on an audio track- great for podcasting when the bell goes in the middle of a great sound byte. The draw of learning more about Photoshop is obvious and I have a project in mind already. And Visual Communicator is a video editing software that I know that Colin uses for television editing in schools.

Another great outcome of the meet was that Wacom gave us each a Intuos3 tablet to use when we are playing and presenting. It took me a bit of brain exertion to work out that it was not just one enormous track pad and once I was over that I was surprised at how great it was in speeding up my workflow and how much easier it is to use a pen rather than a mouse to move about the screen. I have a friend who is a really good artist and can’t wait to let her play with it and see how she goes.

They also gave us some insider information about the sorts of things that Adobe does and plans for the future which are really exciting. We got to talk to some of the people like Paul Burnett who is a Worldwide Evangelist for Adobe! What a great job title! Just for fun he showed us his Adobe Air app Melissa that he made. Turn the sound down and Melissa sits on your desktop and lip-synchs with you when you talk- aren’t these people so clever. Melissa reminded me a little of Marvin but without all the tricky input code- give her a try- she’s very clever.

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The two days flew by and I was very fortunate to be able to extend my time in Sydney with a quick visit with my cousin and fly home on Sunday which was an added bonus. We only had the one day but we managed a wander round the Opera House and Botanical Gardens.

Be Funky Cartooniser

Funky Ways to Express Yourself - Befunky - Cartoonizer
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I strolled across this little beauty this afternoon- this Be Funky cartooniser makes an outline from your photo and then you colour it and add some cartoon like text- great for a bit of fun or to make an interesting avatar for a Voicethread or for those who are not allowed to put their direct images on the internet.

Here I am in Sydney by the bridge. BTW this is my first post written with the aid of my new Wacom INTUOS 3 tablet that Wacom gave me to play with while I was at the Adobe Summit. I am quickly getting the feel of it and I think it is speeding up my workflow.

Sydney Adobe Educational Leader Think Tank

I am on a Boeing something or other sitting in cattle class, flying at so many thousand feet above the earth with only Mini-Dylan to keep me company. I am off Sydney for an Adobe Asia/Pacific regional meeting. The whole invite thing only happened a dozen days ago so it was all a bit rushed and ever such a little bit stressful as the tickets arrived by email yesterday lunchtime. Fellow NZ AEL Colin Gover from Auckland isn’t joining me on this one. I shouldn’t say cattle class today as there are only about 30 people in our section of the plane built to hold heaps. If we wanted we could all stretch out and have a lying down nap which I might actually do when my laptop battery runs out.

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Knowing Mini-Dylan’s love of travelling I invited him along this time round instead of having to stow away in my handbag.

Lessons learnt already- Before you try and fill in three hours of flying by playing on your laptop make sure before you leave home that it is fully charged. I will know this one for the trip home.

It was good advice not to buy a 17 inch Mac Book Pro as light is good and my 15 inch sits nicely on the tray table in the plane.

I had a little weep as I left my homeland thinking of how Mum would have loved to know about this trip. I like to think as I write this that she is with me now but it is not the same as her being here. But then I also think that I can go and enjoy myself without looking over my shoulder and worrying about how Mum is faring on her own in New Zealand.

I am feeling a little whakama as regards the Adobe get- together. We are supposed to present a 15 minute number on our favourite Adobe application. Adobe has promised me a wonderful range of software to pick from but none of it has arrived yet so it is a bit hard to pick just one- apart from Photoshop Elements that I got for my old PC that I haven’t fired up in ages. So I went to the net and am going to show the participants Buzzword, ConnectNow and Adobe Photoshop Express which are all on line tools that anyone can access. Anyone with internet access that is. I am not sure how much access we will have during the sessions so I have done a little screen grab with Keynote- not very inspiring though with me saying, “Imagine if you will the power and wonder of the these on line apps that you can’t see.” We live in hope that we will have decent access. I am sure the other people are way more knowledgeable about Adobe apps than me- I feel like a bit of a fraud.

What I hope to get out of the meeting…

Meeting up with a group of like minded types from the Asia/Pacific Region- apart from Chris Betcher I don’t recognise any of the names of other participants. Learning about the sort of products that Adobe has to offer will be magnificent.

Meeting Chris face to face will be a highlight. Chris, Chrissy Hellyer, Simon Evans and I did a hilarious get together via Skype a while back that was podcasted. We were in an irreverent mood at the time and it was lots of laughs. Chris is very skilled with Adobe applications so that will be fun.

In support of Adobe the good folks at Wacom have offered us an Intuos 3 tablet to use with the Adobe software. Getting to grips with this ‘new for me’ technology will a highlight also. Cool bananas- a new toy to keep me going until I can buy my new G3 iPhone on July 11.

I am looking forward to the whole thing. Bring it on.Sydney

E-Play with Buzzword and

Chris Betcher recently blogged about another new Adobe tool- Buzzword– an online word processor written in Flash. Very cool. The features that I particularly like are that you can upload a Word document and it looks just like it does in Word. You can create documents in Buzzword and export as a pdf or a Word document onto your desktop. Ideal for those without the $$$ to spend on Microsoft products. You can insert tables and graphics and do all the usuals that a normal person would want a desktop publisher to do.

Then you can share that document with others just as you might do in Google Docs. But here’s the really cool thing you can do as well. On the far right hand side of the screen you can see the icon- MEET. Thought I would give it a try and find out who I might meet.

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Turns out it takes you to Adobe ConnectNow- through which I can share my desktop with others. OK this looks fun but I need someone to share with. Enter Skype and Twitter. Raewyn from school was on Skype and I sent out a general Tweet asking if anyone wanted a little playtime! Colin Warren a educational tertiary level blogger from from Geelong, Australia, answered my call. Together we played and found out pretty much how to work the screen sharing application by talking about it with Skype and sharing the iSite video. The screen capture is of how it looked from my end as Colin opened up his desktop for us to look at. Through this medium we shared photos and movies directly from my desktop.

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I liked the interface and it all worked smoothly after we had played about for a bit trying to get the sound working. We nearly had to resort to using the HELP tab but resisted the temptation.

It is great to have a PLN that is so wiling to try new things and learn with each other across the globe.

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Here is how the screen looked in a screen grab from Raewyn’s computer. It shows her desktop visibe with my laptop screen viewable at the same time. It looks complicated but it really wasn’t.
I was struck by how relatively simple Adobe’s ConnectNow was and how useful it might be for teachers who are in need of a little online assistance.
By chance we were all Apple users- as it is web based I could see it as a great application to use across the platforms.

A New Zealand Font

This post is for the Kiwis and Aussies.

A couple of years ago I asked the powers that be in NZ if we could have a NZ font- you know the one we’re supposed to teach in school. They said that would be a good idea and that was the end of that. So I hit the internet and found John Greatorex in Australia who makes fonts. I emailed him and he said he would make me one if I snail mailed him with how they were supposed to look.

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About a month later he sent me the trial to test. I have used that font ever since. It is great for wall displays and making up really neat personalised writing exemplars.

A teacher asked me today where I got my font from and it prompted me to pass on this really practical find from a few years back

Click on the font graphic to see the whole set- $60 for a school site licence.

This is not an endorsement as he would probably no longer remember who I am but I thought it was worth a shout out!


New Zealand is hosting the Time4Innovation Conference. Many NZ educators are participating through viewing video and adding to the discussion boards. Last week I enjoyed hearing Janice Gulbransen talking about leadership.

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This weekend I watched to TATV – a group of Te Awamutu students shared their voice. To hear what the students have to say about how they want to be taught and what they want to be taught click on the 2008 folder and view the video “You Have a Message.” Both videos are thought provoking and worth taking a moment out of your busy day to watch.