Call in the Technician

Time Machine Screen Shot
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Last Friday night I called in the experts. Before heading off to San Francisco I bought myself a 500GB wireless Time Capsule that took 72 hours to do the back-up. Hardly lightning speed! And it only backed up once after that. Even after a two hour call to a help desk in Australia!

I relented and called in Pete the Geek whose fingers flew like a concert pianist across my keyboard and now I have a heap of back-ups at good speed and I can now print wirelessly to my printer. I now just find myself clicking on the Time Capsule just to see the magic of the interface. Awesome.I don’t even pretend to be technically minded but I do know when the task is beyond me and when I should call in technical help.

It’s a pity more primary schools don’t do the same. On my travels I see teachers trying to be all things to all people and being called on to spend hours setting up and cloning laptops, delving into the school’s server, making printers print, fixing problems. Teachers should be teachers. This technical work is sapping their energy for their day job. A technician can do those jobs in lightning speed and save a heap of time for the teacher whose passion and energy is being drained away trying to fix technical issues that they don’t have the time, expertise or resources to fix. It’s a false economy to have a teacher spending days cloning laptops instead of preparing for teaching.


I spent yesterday afternoon learning more about ClickView- the powerful video resource add-on to ‘The Loop’.

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in an afternoon session of a similar ilk but it didn’t mean much as we didn’t have access to The Loop at that stage. This time round it was powerful in lots of ways as we now have access to the power of The Loop.

ClickView gives us access to a huge library of video on demand that you can stream, use as a focus for lessons and edit & embed into your presentations for children or give to children in a Keynote or Powerpoint for viewing at home via a flashdrive.

For users of Clickview here is a pdf tutorial that is hot off the press but you can also access on line video tutorials here. Reproduced here with ClickView’s permission. I would love to show you a video from TVNZ showing children using the Loop this year but copyright forbids me to publish but holy wacamole- it came out of the cloud with lightening speed. (20,000 times faster than typical broadband for the technically specific types!!!!)

Clickview Loop TVNZ Campbell
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For the uninitiated here is an idea of what The Loop is all about…

1. By pooling resources and expertise we’re building a technical framework way beyond what an individual school can achieve or maintain. This collaboration creates economies of scale, aggregated demand and serious negotiating power which has seen the Loop secure unbelievably fast, high quality connectivity at a very reasonable, fixed cost.

2. This has been the most amazing collaboration between the whole gambit of interested parties. We have managed to get a disparate swath around the table proving that working together can be a win-win situation – a ‘virtuous’ rather than vicious cycle.

3. The development of the Loop is a perfect example of ‘new knowledge’ in action. No one person knew how to build this type of network and there were no models to follow. So, we assembled an most amazingly eclectic group of expertise who set about ‘nutting it all out’.

4. There has been much talk of community networks (MUSH’s) and, when the Minister of Economic Development launched the Digital Cities strategy, the Loop was paraded as one of the “heroes”. Today we are still the only MUSH-type network fully operational.

5. The Loop is ground-up, shaped by its users and so teacher/learning focussed. Furthermore, this local ownership has proven incredibly empowering. The Loop users are ‘prosumers’ (proactive consumers) shaping ‘their’ product.

6. Tomorrows Schools has tended to promote competition not collaboration. This project turns that on its head. We are proving that collaboration is the way forward – by sharing expertise… sharing resources…. helping each other … mitigating risk we are all enjoying the many benefits now accruing.

7. We are working with other potential loops in a loose federation (‘Superloop’) to solve national issues around how these aggregations can collaborate as a larger entity. This is laying the basis for a proposed National Education Network.

8. Looking at the big picture – the Loop is a perfect example of the guiding principles of wikinomics (openness, peering, sharing and acting globally) – using mass collaboration/peer production to achieve a successful outcome.

9. Our peers judged us to be a worthy winner of the Computerworld “Excellence in the use of ICT in Education” for 2007.

Borrowed from The Loop Portal

Collaboration Links

  • A number of schools and classes in my cluster are now blogging in earnest and getting plenty of feedback and interaction flowing from it. Now they are ready to take it to the next level and go out their and use their blogs to foster links outside their classrooms and schools.

For me that collaboration really started through Paul Harrington from Wales and I exchanging comments on each others blogs and podcasts but teachers want to know how to go about starting those links and working on some meaningful projects with other classes.

Lenva Sheering has compiled this reference to the benefits and curriculum links of using collaboration on her Auckland Home Group wiki.

Here are some links that they may like to use to do just that…

  • Teachers Connecting– A teacher will register and complete a profile of their class level, interests and level of teacher technical skill. Others who are keen also to collaborate can see what projects are on the go that might suit them.
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  • Of course, most obviously, there is Twitter but it make take a while to build up a network of co-collaborators. On a side note it was great fun on Saturday night to gather a group of us via Twitter all watching and tweeting on the Kiwi triumphs at the Olympic rowing events.
  • Kim Cofino, in Bangkok, also has a project site that offers links to collaborative projects organised by grade level.
  • Then there’s always our own English On Line Book Backchat where classes get together and discuss books- again arranged by class level. This site hosted my very first on line discussion and the results still show up deep in a Google search!
  • The Flat Stanley project is an oldie but a goodie. The idea is that you send off a ‘Flat Stanley’ around the world and follow his trail- sort of geocaching for little kids.
  • E-Pals is a long running site linking classes of similar ages and interests to get together and form bonds.
    • Voices of the World is a Ning where people who join have a community where they can post media, audio, blog, links and the like. You have to join the Ning first then look for what is current with the project. It is based in America so the school terms are different to ours but it is nice to concentrate on hearing the student voices speaking with different accents and languages.
    • Lastly is another Ning organised by Jen Wagner. This Ning even has a group of Kiwi educators. We are starting to use it to talk about ULearn08. Again you need to join first- this Ning has many groups where educators from around the globe can form areas of common interest to link their classes.

    On Voicethread and Blogging

    I am heading off to Blenheim on Friday for a workshop on Voicethread. They want a paper handout to go with it so I made one and updated the Bling4yrblog Voicethread post while I was on a roll.

    If you would like a copy of the paper handout pdf click here. These sorts of things are good for me because I delve more deeply into these Web2.0 tools and this time uploaded a video to the Voicethread and did a spot of doodling which I hadn’t done before. You may like to look at the full page version by clicking here.

    Thanks to all the good folks who commented so quickly on this new play Voicethread. It will definitely show people how useful they can be for fostering global links. You rock.

    If you are a loss of what to do between 4-5pm this Wednesday 13 August you may like to join us in a conversation about blogging arranged by Angela Page of Centre4 fame. To participate ring the audio bridge at 0800 693363 PIN 1506#

    Angela posted these ‘Rules of Engagement’.

    • Please dial in between 3.50 – 3.55pm (and no later) as this interrupts the flow of conversation after 4pm
    • You may record your name after the tone and then hold to join the conference
    • Log off after 5pm please, and not before, as this interrupts the flow of conversation
    • To mute, press *6
    • To come off mute, press #6
    • You are most welcome to bring your questions, ideas, experiences
    • To speak, state your name and then ask your question or respond to a discussion point
    • You may experience some over-talking, but please be patient and continue when there is a pause in conversationEnjoy!

    Virtual Highway

    Virtual Highway
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    Paul Wilkinson just posted this rather excellent find- Virtual Highway– which is a wonderful Google mash-up of a Google map of New Zealand and video of what the drive actually looks like. As the video plays a little car moves along the highway keeping in synch with the video. Here is a screen grab of part of my commute. Way cool.

    Riminiscences of David Kinane‘s Amazing Journey.

    Thanks Paul- hours of fun here!

    On Line Sexual Predators- Myth and Fact

    I came across this link in my blogroll that I thought might be worth sharing with parents who are concerned about the consequences of their children using the internet. Art Wolinsky, the Educational Director of Wired Safety presents via a web survey the facts and myths behind on line sexual predators. To view the presentation click on the graphic to be taken to the website.

    Online Sexual Predators - Myth and Fact
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    I was interested also in the method of presentation- using Adobe Presenter. I haven’t got that piece of software. I will have to get the free trial.

    Timez Attack- a new way to learn your tables

    Multiplication Tables - Flash Player Installation
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    Here is another great find that came to me from my Twitter network- Timez Attack via Barbara Read, @Barbs1.

    It is a downloadable game for PC or Mac. I downloaded the free base version. The full version has the same basic facts learning but without the extra levels of complexity. This maths game would really appeal to my gaming Year 4/5 boys. It is really built like the old game Wolfenstein 3D game without the killing. Every now and again you come across an ogre that you neutralise by knowing your tables. I was very impressed with the graphics and the attempts to build number knowledge as well as straight recall. Give it a go. I am sure you will be hooked. I would like to hear what the paid for version ($40US for home use) is like if you decide to buy it. Something for my next year’s class maybe.