Thursday, January 31, 2008

Such a good design

I know that there will be more that follow, that have the same features and probably better but you have to admit that the Asus Eee Pc is such a good design. It is and will always be recognised as the first sub $500 dollar PC available worldwide. A machine for the masses. The machine that made the 1:1 dream a possibility for all. Not just cheap but clever. Not just an inbuilt webcam for skype but one that acts as a camera and video recorder, igoogle, gmail, openoffice applications that open/save microsoft office documents and a form factor envied by it's over $3,000 cousins. Now that's clever. Well my class thought so today when they were given their very cute, new devices. We'd (ICT Department not really me) spent the best part of the day upgrading the wireless access point to ensure they were all connected to the internet, thinking that this would be the first thing that we would use but no! The webcam caught their attention first. Within seconds we had girls checking their hair and boys pulling faces at themselves. Seizing the moment we showed them how to save an image and within seconds they were cropping and tweaking their pictures in one of the many Paint programs available. I told you it was clever. Thanks for the help guys. I promise we'll use the internet tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All conectd

I had fun this afternoon logging on 25 computers and connecting them to the wifi (not). Well at least when the wifi drops out I'll be able to confidently help my class reconnect them. I could have let the ICT department do this but you wouldn't attempt to teach something you couldn't do yourself would you! Well at least I won't forget or will I? It always amazes me how many times you need to repeat something before it becomes a habit.

Data Plans

We've talked these past couple of weeks about the benefits of being conectd. Mobile Internet access, igoogle pages that bring you all the weather and news that you need in one place, youtube videos to your mobile, Sky mobile tv and not to forget mobile blogging. But all this isn't really practical unless you have a decent data plan. Loading up an igoogle page uses about 400kb and a 3 minute youtube clip about 2Mb. On Vodafones standard mobile prepaid plan that would cost you a whopping $4.00 and $20 respectively but with a data plan like ours $40 for 400mb that's only 4c and 20c respectively! A bit easier to stomach so before you start hammering those mobile youtube videos make sure you have a decent data plan.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mobile Media Content

Two great things have happened over the weekend:-

1) the mobile youtube site ( now has the full catalogue of videos available. Up to now you had a very limited selection. This is going to be a fantastic resource for my teaching and of course personally when you just want to watch that certain Little Britain clip again.

2) I managed to find away round getting Sky Mobile TV on my p990. It's kind of a long story, but here's the short version. I have a Vodafone branded 3G phone which is all you need according to Vodafone New Zealand advertising. Well it's not true and I have told them this and received the usual "nice, but giving excuses" email from them. Anyway the lowdown is you actually need a Vodafone Live compatible 3G Phone. So anyway I thought I would give it a try again and searched for it on the Mobile Live site. I found a link to the Sky Mobile TV E channel and realised that from the URL I could find the other channels. Bingo, I subscribed and was watching live cricket on my mobile. Go India, you just can't back the Aussies when your a Kiwi!

Anyway, this brings up, what I feel is key to the uptake of the Mobile Internet, the dreaded Data charges. Now you don't get charged for the Sky Mobile TV data (just a $2.50/week subscription), but you do for youtube. At least you get a warning before you download any videos, but believe me my data plan is going to get hammered this month.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

iGoogle Mobile

I like personalised home pages and have had one for quite a few years. I started with netvibes then transferred to igoogle (formerly when I found that you could get it on your mobile (surprise, surprise). Since then netvibes has developed a really slick mobile site and google have gone backwards. The only thing that keeps me with google is that I like google reader mobile. So I tried various hacks to try and get google reader into the netvibes mobile site without any success. The igoogle mobile site was pretty basic (unless you live in the US) so I just forgot about it and only accessed it on the PC.
That was until Google released the iphone version of igoogle (, it looked as it would do on an iphone, well at least it does if you access it with Opera mini (funny that!). At this point I need to say that I had done some work on my igoogle site already to try and make it phone friendly. Things like, having separate tabs for each area (weather, news, sport etc.) and then setting each tab to one column width (instead of the default three).
I should have been happy, but found a small and irritating bug. The standard news gadgets (thats what google calls them, such as the New Zealand Herald) worked perfectly, but when I added a news feed, such as editors picks it just wouldn't work properly. So I decided to solve the problem by creating my own gadget for the news feeds that I couldn't find one for when you searched on igoogle. It took a bit of research and a basic understanding of coding, but I created my first one last week. This has been submitted to google who have approved it and are now adding it to the repository for everybody to use and will probably be available by the end of next week. So if you want it on your igoogle page just go to add new stuff and search for editors picks. As a bonus (because it was my first gadget) google sent me a token that is redeemable at their store. Don't know what I will get, but will post photos of it here when it arrives. It's a great feeling to know that you have created something that other people can use and it will hopefully solve my igoogle mobile problem!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1 conectd 25 more to go

We managed to get one of the Eee PC's onto the wifi today (mine of course). It was a little bit trickier than first thought due to our closed microsoft system (but the less said about that the better). In the end we ended up setting up a separate wifi point just for my room. Unfortunately it means that I won't be able to roam around the school and use other wifi points but I'm quite happy to pick up my rabbit ears and internet cable and take them to another room when we need to. I have 100% confidence in our ICT departments ability to solve this problem but it does make you realise how important it is to have an open and accepting industry wide standard wifi system for future growth and development. Whether we like it or not the flood gates have opened and the devices are going to come. Will your network cope with the tidal wave?

Friday, January 25, 2008

They've arrived

It was like Christmas again today as TB and I unwrapped my class set of Eee PC's. They look even better than I remember. We carefully removed their packaging and placed them in our little incubator to fully charge. Even the chargers look cute. Don't they? Just a little 20w mobile phone style charger each so the power usage for the full class set is only equivalent to that of three standard desk tops. Not too demanding on the existing power infrastructure and kind to the environment. What more can you ask for.

If you were me for the day

Earlier this month Cool Cat Teacher Blogger, Vicki A Davis set a request out to newbie bloggers to suggest a blog title and message they would like to post if they were fortunate enough to be her for the day. I thought this might be a bit of a chance to get a bit of promotion for our conectd blog and maybe a reader or two seen as we don't have any subscribers yet. So I suggested that Vicki did a post about 'his n her' bloggers, as a follow up to one that was doing the rounds in the blogosphere a month or so a go about female bloggers.

Of course I suggested she started with Mark and I and the conectd blog and maybe added a few more others that she knew about. I thought she could look at the rational behind why they has individuals started to blog then why they decided to blog together. I thought it would be interesting to see whether she thought the concept actually worked or whether she believed blogging to be a purely individual pursuit.

Personally my rational behind blogging is to inform others. With the impending arrival of my class set of EEe PC's I think that it is important for me to keep a weblog of their integration into my classroom programme as a reference for those that follow me. Predominately the target audience will be the teachers within my school but I believe that the blog will also have appeal to a wider audience as I don't intend to get too bogged down with the technology (i.e Linux based EEe PC system) but talk more about pedagogical issues such as web2:0, social networking and other school 2 topics.

Mark's rational is also to inform others but his angle will be looking at the mobile phone and how this can be integrated first into your personal lives then the classroom setting.

It is inevitable that both these 1:1 and mobile technologies will become main stream in the classroom within the foreseeable future so the blog also acts as a sounding board for both of us to express our opinions on these matters and to keep an eye to the future.

I hope she likes the conectd approach and can see why we think you need to be conectd both in your personal and professional lives.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eagerly Waiting (part 4)

It's been over a week now since my class set of EEe PC's arrived in Auckland and I'm still waiting for them. Apparently they are in transit having been sent from the distributors in Auckland but haven't arrived in the shop (Hamilton) yet. Oh well still another 5 days before the start of term but it is beginning to cut it a bit fine. I had anticipated this given the demand for them globally and us well just being little old New Zealand, down here on the other side of the world. Apparently according to Wikipedia they have sold 300,000 since they were launched in Taiwan on October the 16th, 2007 and hope to sell over a million this year.I am prepared to grab a few last minute photocopied worksheets if need be but I really don't want to. It would be so awesome to start the new school year with a completely different approach to my teaching not to mention the student's learning.

Missed Postings

Oh no! I didn't manage to stick to the intended one post a day on my blog this week, having missed Tuesday's and Wednesday's postings. I hope this isn't going to be the decline of the blog. But it did make me wonder whether one post a day is a realistic expectation. Well I was busy setting up my classroom ready for the impending arrival of my EEe PC's and I did have a lot to think about access to power, wifi/ internet connection, security and safety issues. I know I can hear what you're saying 'we're all busy - that's what happens - welcome to blogging', 'get real - you don't need to blog everyday'. But I don't want to be a defeatist just yet. I remember at the end of last term being moved by the spirit our DP when she was explaining her daily visits to the gym. You go everyday after work, I questioned. Sure do, she replied, because if I don't tell my self that by the end of the day I'll have thought of hundreds of excuses why I don't need to go. Well good on her and there you have it. 'I blog everyday'. No more excuses. I'll just have to make up for those two posts I missed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Edu Bloggers Survey 2008

I've just completed Scott Mcleods Edu Bloggers survey of 2008. I bet he didn't expect bloggers of only a couple a weeks to reply. I reckon we will be the only ones with no subscribers and no Technorati authority and rank (what ever that means). Well we all have to start somewhere. I hope we didn't skew his results too much.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mobile Blogging

There has been another question doing the rounds in the mobile blogosphere and that is what a pain mobile blogging is. Well I'm proof it isn't as most of my posts are done via my mobile. I chose blogger because it was easy to use and of course you are automatically added to the powerful and everybody's favourite search engine google, nice! Now I have to agree that it did not used to be easy to set up and there is a myth that the mobile bit is only available in the US. This is not the case and is a result of a slight overhang from when it was not owned by google. It couldn't be easier to set up. You need a google account (I would also recommend setting up gmail at the same time), then send an email to and that's it. Go to blogger type in the token sent to your email and your ready to blog. To post just send an email to, the email subject is the title of your post and the email subject is er well the subject of your post. Now your mobile blog name is a random title that blogger makes for you so if you want a meaningful one, like our conectd you might have to use a PC to find an available name and then link your mobile posts to that (I actually did this using opera mini, because well I could). Mobile blogging is great because you can do it where and when you want to. I find that by the time your PC has eventually loaded up, you have forgotten what you wanted to say. Even if you don't have a cell connection, you can save it as a draft email and send it later. If you want to be really geeky you can use opera mini and blog as if you where using a PC, but the choice is yours. Happy Mobile blogging!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Web or two?

There has been a lot of blog talk this week regarding the argument for and against having mobile friendly sites. This is a subject close to my heart as I have been using the mobile web since wap was first introduced for the mobile phone. I currently use opera mini, even though I have a full mobile browser on my phone as well. This argument has come around due to the iphone having a full browser and being sold as "having the real web" in your pocket. My personal view is that there should be only one web as technology has solved the problem for us with better browsers. The one reason why wap didn't succeed is that it didn't deliver what it promised and what people wanted. Opera mini runs on the majority of phones and displays full web pages with a zoom function (just like the iphone browser) and I don't know what I would do without it. What has this got to do with being conectd you might ask? Well simply, give people a good experience of something that they are familiar with (the web they see on their PC) and they will want to use it anywhere. There are a lot of iphone users that have actually complained about "cut down" web sites when they want the full web experience, because it was one of the reasons they bought it. Once you've had the full web, believe me cut down or mobile versions just don't seem the same again. Then again I use Google Reader Mobile on my phone as the full version just doesn't work in opera mini. So here is my recommendation, you always see websites that say this has been tested with (or is compatible) with IE6, Firefox 2.X, Safari etc, well why not add opera mini to that list. This will tell people that this site is "mobile friendly" and they haven't had to even create two websites, now that's a thought!

Social Networking

I just posted this comment and my 'For' vote to the Economists debate - Social networking technologies will bring large 'positive' change to educational practices both inside and outside the classroom -

It has to be a profound 'YES'. After adopting Elgg as our 'Private "social" School-Wide Network' a term coined above by Vicki Davis, I have been able to see the connections our Primary School pupils are able to make not only to peers within their own classroom but to peers across year groups and year levels. They are able to build communities based on their own interests and develop their own learning goals and direction using blogs, wiki's and RSS feeds. Surely this is the whole point of education to learn with and about things that interest you. To make connections with other people who are interested in the same things you are interested in. The classroom walls are coming down, no longer is the network limited to those in the same room as you. What better way to prepare our students for their lives in the Globally networked World than giving them safe experiences of using social networking within the school system.

Well that's my opinion. What's yours ? You still have chance to get in and register your vote before the debate ends on the 24th of Jan.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eagerly Waiting (part 3)

They've not arrived yet. It's a good job really because I still can't get my head around that name. The marketing literature describes the ASUS as a sub-notebook, 'Easy to learn, easy to work, easy to play' I always wondered what those three E's meant. I have heard others refer to them as UMPC's-Ultra Mobile PC's or the new jargon of the day MID-Mobile Internet Device. Not too sure about the term mobile and I'm sure Mark will agree with me given the Eee PC only has a 2hr battery life, no 3g/cell connection (as yet) and doesn't exactly fit in your pocket but that term Internet Device that's growing on me erm IDC-Internet Device Class has a nice ring to it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eagerly waiting (part 2)

They've landed. My class set of Eee PC's have just arrived, well in Auckland anyway, they just need shipping down to Hamilton for the start of the New School Year, which starts in just short of two weeks on the 29th of January. I can't wait I'm so Eeexcited.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eagerly Waiting (part 1)

While I eagerly wait the arrival if my class set of Eee Pc's I begin to wonder what the class will be called?
Laptop Class, Digi Class, Web2 Class. No, I need something more all encompassing, something all accommodating, something not determined by the technology but accepting of all devices, grounded in a strong philosophy where each tool is employed on its own merits whether it be paper and pen or computer. For that is the dream isn't it ? I need something future proofed. A name that will stand the test of time. Something that will lay strong foundations for more devices to come. Something that
reflects the vision. Any suggestions?
Please excuse typo's blogged from the mobile.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dual Blogging

Blogging can be a personal thing, but being conectd I think that it is important that you have an individual voice and also as part of believing in connectivism also connect to other people. This was a decision that we made today as we felt it important to offer a conectd view through the conectd post and also have individual views which can be seen through cravenl and markcraven posts. In a unique way I think that this is fantastic in that it's important to sometimes pool your thoughts and at the same time show that you are also an individual, which most blogs do all of the time. So I'm looking forward to the whole "feel" of our blog, which will be individual at times, but also a conectd view at other times. Read the post first before seeing whether it was a joint or individual post. Can you guess just from the style of the writing?


I wasn't too sure I agreed with Mark's statement about not being conectd via the wireless hot spot in his previous post so I thought I better start to develop my own personal voice/identity. I can see his point though and know what he means (i.e your are not really conectd unless you are mobile). Mark is the geeky one, reared on Linux and coding languages purely text based and as he likes to point out not at all visual so connectivity is very simple for him your either mobile or your not. Me on the other hand I'm a bit more bandwidth intensive I find it a bit of a challenge to stick to my Gb limits each month and have to have regular visits to school (even during the holidays) to feed my bandwidth addictions. This doesn't worry me though as the payoff for being totally conectd far out ways the extra costs / trips to school and one day ultimately bandwidth will be irrelevant and I will have a mobile that I can watch youtube on and listen to my favourite podcasts via.

The Impact of being Conectd

After just over a year of having the mobile phone and being conectd where ever I want to be (and of course there is cell connection), I thought it was time to reflect on the impact. I feel that being able to use google reader anywhere, anytime (see that as 6.30am which is when I am at my most receptive) I have seen my educational professional development really mature and now have a clear vision. Having a world of useful (and sometimes useless) information in your pocket is fantastic and surprises some of the children I teach. Especially when you show them that you can see their profiles on the social websites (such as beebo etc) right there on your phone. I will be looking at this in later posts. It also made me think are you conectd sat at a wireless hotspot with your laptop? Me I don't think so.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Off the Grid but Still Conectd (part 2)

We made the first steps towards going off the grid last year when we got rid of our land line (and therefore our broadband connection). We then purchased two top end smart phones (SE P990i) and more importantly data plans which gave us 3G connection speeds(384Kbs where available). Having no fixed line broadband at home means we use the phone as a modem and connect via the USB to our PC's. Not as slow as you would think and with a 400Mb plan each plus the ability to upgrade to 6Gb it's not too restrictive either. I wouldn't recommend this for everyone though especially if your using lots of bandwidth with video, games and music but the connectivity works great for us.

Off the Grid but Still Conectd (part 1)

We're back now. Christmas is over and we've just returned from a short camping trip on the East Coast (Napier). While camping we were far enough away from civilisation to be 'off the grid' relying on our own power and water but still near enough to get a cell connection which meant we could still access the Internet, our readings, weather reports and news. All thanks to our mobile phones.