Monday, March 24, 2008

Flickr or Photogallery (Moodle)

I just realised I forgot to post this, so in case you don't know what I mean about the Yahoo ID problem her it is
Dilemma solved and all it took was one little button - copy image URL- in Mozilla Firefox that is because you don't have the same function in Explorer. For years now I've struggled to where I should put shared pictures for my class to enable not only easy upload ability but easy access for all (parents/kids/web2 programs etc). I know the obvious place would be Flickr but given that my students are only 11 there is the Yahoo ID problem to overcome i.e you need to be over 13 to get a Yahoo ID (some over protective American internet safety rule if you ask me). Not to mention the annoying double password issue and 100 Mb upload ability. Well now I don't need to worry because since we've gone over to the bright side (Mozilla Firefox) thanks to our ASUS Eee PC's, we can use the -copy image URL-button to get the URL link from Photogallery on Moodle and paste it directly into any web2 program we like. Putting the photo's on photogallery is so much easier not just because I am familiar with it but because the login is the same as Moodle which inevitably is also the same as our Elgg site. An issue which may not be of concern to secondary schools but for the primary sector is a must. Not that I would advocate primary schools stop using web2 tools and opt for an out of the box solution without the same functionality and real world connectivity and transferability but we do need to be very careful to ensure we don't cause password anxiety.

Movie making options on the Asus Eee PC

These are the web2 and localised movie making options that I've investigated and presently selected to use on my class set of Asus Eee PC's unless the class start to bring their own mobiles to school that is.

Asus Eee PC in built web cam and microphone to record.
zamzar (web2) and winff (localised) to convert .ogg to .mpg
jumpcut (web2) and Kino (localised) video editors plus audacity (localised) to manipulate sound.

While my long term goal is just to use web based and pre installed software on the Asus our internet bandwidth is not sufficient at the moment for us to rely on web2 applications and the Eee PC does not presently come with a pre installed video editor so icon buttons have been made for the localised programs and a script is been written to install them onto the classes computers.

All programs talk nicely to each other (after a web cam update and universal firefox uploader installation) and give students uploading and embedding options in Elgg (our eportfolio/private social networking site)

Kino is a very basic video editor but will suffice short term and for some reason unknown to me the Asus won't upload any file to animoto or eyespot (even after installing the firefox universal uploader) so it's back to good old jumpcut and oh yes that Yahoo ID login problem.

Mobile phones should be made compulsory in schools

Mark, myself and (A) the technician have spent the best part of this week working out movie making and publishing options for the classes Asus EeePC"s (and I mean the best part, you know the bit between 11 and 3 when the suns shining and you really should be doing something else).
But I have to ask myself WHY? WHY? have we spent what seems like an eternity working out options to convert low quality ogg webcam images to mpg format so that they can be directly uploaded to Elgg (our private social net work) or manipulated by a video editor to produce low quality movies.
The simple answer is because we needed to be able to upload our interviews with our grandparents to Elgg, because we need to be able to manipulate sound and edit movies later in the year. And yes I know now we can all do it because we've all got web cams on our Asus's and an inbuilt microphones. But WHY? oh WHY? aren't we just using our mobiles. Mobiles that don't need a program to convert the files, mobiles that have better sound and image quality, in built editors and their own personal technician (owner) WHY? because the general consensus is mobiles should be banned in schools. Banned I ask you? The one thing that I can guarantee you, in 10 years from now will be proven to have made a significant improvement in students learning is banned. Never mind banned it's about time we started making mobile phones compulsory in Schools.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

World Maths Day

Was it just me or did anybody else have difficulties logging onto yesterday? At first I thought it was the Asus's not being able to handle the shockwave but no surely not. Then I wondered about the browser, I do remember a year or two ago firefox struggling with a few plug ins but that was a long time ago. As I roamed around the school I realised the windows and mac machines were having the same problems so I asked the ICT guys to check the internet and see if anyone was using up the bandwidth but no that wasn't the problem. So I can only conclude it was at their end and their servers couldn't cope with the load. It was a shame really because it's a great challenge to compete mathematically with others from all around the world. I had a free class subscription to mathletics last year and this was by far the best part of the site. I dare to say though that I opted not to pay the $20 fee per child to use the site this year. I think I would of happily paid $5 or maybe $10 but $500+ per year per class that's a lot of money. While mathletics had some good features like student support I couldn't help thinking the activities were just like worksheets on the computer and it wasn't long before the kids got bored. Quite frankly their are a lot more interactive virtual manipulatives out there for free. Okay so they are harder to find but who ever said life was easy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Camp Week

A whole week without computers but as I sit planning my lessons for tomorrow I can't help thinking - an opportunity missed. Why couldn't the students upload their pictures immediately, post their reflections each night, check out the weather and where they were going each day. Beats me they all had their mobiles and PSP's with them. Maybe next year but I fear we might still be waiting for those elusive data charges to come down for a year or two yet.