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Friday, November 30, 2007

New Wordpress blog online

The new Wordpress blog is now live. Still a bit of work to do. I need to categorise some entries. I have a few ideas to automate that. Tomorrow morning. A few little tweaks and widget additions and it should be fine.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Flickr's digital footprints used to create geospatial visualisations

Fabien Girardin illustrates how using our digital "footprints" can be used to create rich geospatial visualistaions of urban areas.

As Fabian points out "we leave behind footprints from our interaction with the urban environment and its digital infrastructures (e.g. taking and sharing digital photos, communicating through wireless networks, withdrawing money)." These footprints when combined with other data such as grafitti, stickers and the like can be utilised to develop an alternative view of urban landscapes.

In this example Fabian shares how Flickr photo tagging, descriptions and location details could be utilised to create geovisualisations.

He shares another interesting example, MIT's Wikicity project and its recent application in the city of Rome. This graphic reveals cellphone activity in Rome while Madonna was singing the song "Live To Tell".

I cannot help but think that this idea could be simplified and utilised in the Geography classroom. Data would need to be collected, aggregated and depicted in a practical manner. How to collect the data? Which data? The ideas are still formulating. Students could collaborate. I need to think more on this.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pepys' Diary ~ The World's First Blog?

The diary of Samuel Pepys provides a valuable insight into the lives of the people of London during the 1660s. Samuel Pepys is a famous 17th century diarist who lived in London, England. Phil Gyford is publishing the diary as a blog. A new entry written by Pepys will be published each day over the course of several years. As Phil Gyford explains, 1 January 1660 was published on 1 January 2003.

I have been reading the diary for about three or four years now. It reveals aspects of English life through its references to literature, music, games, fairs, food, drink, sport and individuals that lived at the time. There is an encyclopaedia and glossary with hyperlinked references. This online diary is an excellent resource for students of English social history.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LiveScribe - interactive smartpen

Bernie Dodge of Web Quest fame just twittered this. This is an interesting concept. Livescribe has developed a paper-based computing platform that merges a smartpen, paper, software applications, and development tools. According to their web site this interesting tool will be available online beginning of 2008. "It will cost less than $200-00USD". I have never paid that much for a pen. It would be terrible thing to lose it. Might be an idea to invent something to prevent one from ever losing the pen.

LiveScribe - Turn Your Paper On
There is additional dot paper that the company states will be available at prices comparable to standard paper products. I shall keep an eye on this. Is there anything similar to this already on the market?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

eLearning, eTutoring and online coaching

A number of years ago I was working with an organisation named ICUS which was based in Singapore. The company developed eLearning solutions for entities such as Nokia, Singapore Airlines, Visa and Shell. One aspect of the eLearning development was eTutoring or online coaching.

During that same period I was lecturing and tutoring part time at the National Institute of Education in Singapore as part of their eLearning Instructional Design Programme. There was a significant online component. In a subsequent post I shall share some of the observations made during that experience.

In the meantime I would like to share the urls of three web sites that deal with eTutoring methodologies that I referenced at that time. I believe that a number of the heuristics that apply to eTutoring also apply when establishing blogs, wikis and Second Life interactions with students. These three web sites deal with initiating, nurturing, maintaining and successfully concluding an online teaching and learning experience.

First of all, there is the Online Tutoring eBook established by Heriot-Watt University and The Robert Gordon University back in 2000. You may consider that dated but the advice therein in timeless and just as relevant today. It is well designed with the information neatly chunked. Case studies support the instruction.

Next there is the E-Tutoring Overview published by the Centre for Academic Practice and Educational Technology at the University of Warwick. it provides a straightforward overview of the curriculum and managements issues one should keep in mind when participating in an online teaching and learning discourse.

Richard Mobbs at the University of Leicester has also created a resource for eTutoring. The site looks at the roles, strategies and tools of eTutoring.

Each of these sites were created at a time before the coining of the term Web 2.0 however the rules of thumb and strategies set out in each can be applied just as effectively when managing a blogging project or engaging your students in a virtual field trip through Second Life. They would be particularly useful for a teacher getting to grips with an online teaching and learning environment for the first time.


Your Guide To Social E-Learning

The Australian Flexible Learning Network has created an excellent web site that provides a guide and case studies regarding the use of social networking and bookmarking technologies in teaching and learning environments.

Your Guide to Social E-Learning

The web site, Your Guide To Social E-Learning, is well designed and provides audio clips, transcripts and links to a variety of case studies where blogs, podcasting and wikis have been put to work by a varietry of educators across the country.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kevin Lim on the OLPC project

Fellow blogger and social technologist Kevin Lim has written an informative post about the Sugar OS that runs on the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project computer.

He reviews the Sugar OS and provides a few screenshots. Kevin shares a link to news about the OLPC project that includes a demo. Kevin also highlights the collaborative characteristics of the Sugar OS.

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Driving around Wollongong

Shao Ping and I went out to purchase some plants for the garden and some sugar soap to clean the walls of our home before they are painted in a week or so. Anyway, the little Casio camera mentioned in the previous post was sitting on the table and I thought that it might be an idea to record the journey from our home to the store as we drove through town. That attempt failed as I must have switched off the camera as I adjusted the two rubber bands that held the camera to the front of the passenger's sun visor.

Our second attempt, from the store through town and back home was more successful. The cricket commentary can be heard on the car radio. Australia is playing Sri Lanka as well as some interstate matches. I cropped the ending of the video before we reached our street. I wish to maintain a little anonymity.

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Bird sounds in our neighbourhood

My little Casio digital camera has a small built in voice recorder. I used it to record the bird sounds one can hear from our back yard. One tends to take these things for granted. The birds and their calls are interesting. It changes during the course of the day. Can you recognise the bird calls?

Morning bird sounds ~ 6:16AM

Midday bird sounds ~ 12:24PM

Evening bird sounds ~ 7:09PM

I have also photographed birds in our garden. Gallery One. Gallery Two.

The little Casio camera is quite handy. I always use it in my digital photography workshops with teachers in order to demonstrate how a standard digital camera can be quite handy and powerful. It is also a fully mobile podcasting studio. In addition to taking digital photographs it records video and audio. That is all one needs when out in the field.

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One Week Job

Sean Aiken did not know what he wanted to do after he graduated. He set up this web site, One Week Job, to invite employers to give him a job for one week. Sean travels to the job, does the work, conducts research and blogs the experience with a very entertaining and insightful video. His wages are donated to charity. This is inspiring. Share it with your students. I have emailed the link to all our seniors.

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What is a LoudTwitter?

LoudTwitter is a service that allows you to automatically post your Twitter comments to your blog.

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Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab

Interesting views on Facebook strategy and the views of Gideon Yu, Facebook CFO over at the Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab blog.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Two things that annoy me about my Mac

1. About 2 in 5 attempts to burn a CD tend to fail.
2. The battery life is poor.

I am trying to burn a CD-R for a friend. I took some photographs at his daughter's wedding this afternoon. I wished to to burn three CD-Rs of the photographs. So far 1 CD has succeeded. Two have failed. I shall see if the next one fails. Why does this happen in a relatively new MacBook Pro 15" laptop?

Postscript. 3 CD-Rs succeeded. 3 CD-Rs failed. Is that a 50% success rate or a 50% failure rate? Is the glass half full or half empty? They were imation CDRs. The hardware is an ATA HL-DT-ST DVDRW GWA4080MA burner.


ExploreLearning - Interactive Math and Science Simulations.

I remember discovering this web site a number of years ago, ExploreLearning - Interactive Math and Science Simulations. I stumbled across it again today. Although I am a history teacher I have always been fascinated by astronomy, fractals, and the like. Enjoy!


How Google Works

This interactive page nicely illustrates how Google works. There are informative mouseover elements within the presentation.

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Wordpress installed on server

Last night I installed Wordpress on the server that hosts my web site. I had to initiate a SQL database and a specific mySQL user for the Wordpress app. I only had one setback. The password for the mySQL user was one character too short. The faqs and instructions provided by my host were excellent. My web site is hosted by ICDSoft. They always respond to my inquiries rapidly.

I have sought assistance to create a specific wordpress template to meet my needs. I played around with some existing templates and their php files however I find that my knowledge is not up to par. I could persist with the task however I think that will take up too much time. It is best to seek the assistance of an expert who could probably create a better template in one tenth of the time.

Once the new template is complete I will add the template as a theme and begin blogging on the new site. I will import the posts from four separate blogspot blogs.... TeachTech, Prisoner of War, Pyxellate and The Adventurers' Club. I will use pages and categories to differentiate between major themes.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shifted blog back to blogspot

Due to a ftp publishing problem with Blogger that has been occurring since early August and has recently become a more significant issue I have decided to publish my blog directly via Blogger. I will not publish via ftp from Blogger to my server. As a result my blog has a new address:


If you wish to subscribe to the blog please use this feed address


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Monday, November 5, 2007

Stephen Downes on The Personal Network Effect

Stephen Downes has written an informative post regarding the value of networks, The Personal Network Effect. He points out that the an individual's network will be of value if the information derived is maningful and is characteristic by semantic relevance.

The number of persons in an individual's network will determine the effectiveness of the network. More friends does not necessarily equate to a more effective network. As a result he feels that networking applications should be designed with these characteristics in mind, thus giving the end user more control over their network and its derived usefulness. He points to valuable articles by John Black and Etienne Wenger concerning common ground and communities of practice in his post.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Web 2.0 Links and Resources for Teachers

My Web 2.0 workshop page was becoming cluttered with links so a dedicated Web 2.0 links page was born. I have attempted to categorise the links according to the following questions:

What is Web 2.0?
Where can I find some Web 2.0 tools?
What are blogs and how do they work?
What is a wiki? How do they work?
What is podcasting? How can I use it with my students?
What will happen after Web 2.0?

I also tidied up the resources for teachers that are available for download from the Web 2.0 workshop web page.

If you have a favourite Web 2.0 link or tool that you would like to share please add a comment. It would be much appreciated.

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Wesley Fryer on implications of a flat world for schools

Wesley Fryer writes on the future directions that schools may take with this post, Implications of a flat world for schools, and lists the types of considerations that educators need to take into account when implementing change. Some of the schools in our region are making the moves with 1to 1 computing, habits of mind and some blended learning. Still a way to go.

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Name: John Larkin
Occupation: Educator
Hometown: Wollongong, NSW.
Favorite Quotes:
"To get what you want you must learn to give up wanting".
Now Reading:

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton.
The Early Asimov by Isaac Asimov.

Me on the web
John Larkin
Prisoner of War
EdTech Blogroll
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