Sunday, October 26, 2008
I used TechCrunch a web2 program that is really easy to use. You just paste in the URL of the youtube video you want to convert, press 'getvideo' then 'download link' and it downloads the file to your desktop for you. The only quirk is that you need to remember to rename the file with the .flv extension so that the media plugin in moodle can recognise the file.
Another web2 option you could use is Zamzar which supports conversion of files from links on the internet (URLs) as well as from your computer and converts them to a range of different formats for you. Zamzar sends the file to your email once it has converted it for you.
Zamzar supports the download and conversion of videos from a range of popular video sharing websites but unfortunately it doesn't download jumpcut movies. I can find a downloadable .exe option which I can put on my computer, but I'd rather not do that, as it doesn't fit with my philosophy of keeping things as simple as possible, for both me and the kids. So if anyone knows of a web2 option that I can use to download and convert jumpcut movies to .flv format, it would be greatly appreciated, if you could send me the link.
26/11/09 - Tech crunch not working - Just used this video2mp3- now just got to use audacity to merge Metallica/Crocodile Rock and Thunderstruck - ACDC - will be an interesting performing arts
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Well I think I've cracked it. Really when you think about it, it's down to the software and web browser you use. If you standardise on these, it doesn't matter what machine the students have because the teachers will be familiar with the web browser and software they are using.
With laptops the decision is an easy one, Openoffice would be the software of choice and Mozilla Firefox the browser, as these are both open source and available on all machines. No need to worry about MicrosoftOffice and Internet Explorer. Just make sure the kids have all got Openoffice and Firefox on what ever Laptop they bring to school. Oh and what a surprise, the new era of Linux mini laptops all come with these two pre-installed.
Then you can use Google Docs, Moodle (CMS), Elgg (eportfolio/social network) and a sprinkle of other web2 programs to taste.
With the phone and other portable devices Opera mini would be the browser of choice as this can be installed on most phones/portable devices.
Now that makes me feel a lot better, because I now realise that what ever machines or combination of devices our students have, we won't need to worry. By keeping it simple, stupid we'll be able to concentrate on the pedagogy not the technology.
Using web2 programs will make life easier too as we won't need to add extra software to hundreds of machines or spend extra time putting complicated images on students machines.
The new era of 1:1 is here, facilitated by web2, mobile devices and cheaper mini PC's/webtablets. All we have to do now is ensure that we have a fast internet connection and wifi set up ready to accept any device.
The 4GB, Asus Eee PC 701, Linux version with its 7 inch screen, is the cheapest on the market with a price tag of just over $400. Another $100 more will buy you the Microsoft version. For $650 you can buy the 20GB Linux version and $750 will get you a 12GB Microsoft version both with the larger 9 inch screen.
Acer have their very flash looking Aspire One, 8GB, Linux version for just under $700 and the 8GB, Windows version for around $800. Both with 9 inch screens.
The 30GB, Classmate from Dell packed with a whole range of educational features including a water-resistant keyboard, collaboration software, theft deterrent features and student PC monitoring comes in at well under $600 for the Linux, version and a bit over $600 for the Microsoft version. Both with 9 inch screens.
When it comes down to deciding which one to choose, you have to consider these four things
and 4) price
Well the Eee PC 701, seems to win it on price. The Acer, Aspire One, is beautiful with it's shiny case and high resolution screen and the Dell Classmate is jam packed full of educational features.
All in all the functionality is the same with Microsoft costing an extra $100 and the much needed larger screen size demanding a couple of hundred dollars.
As a school functionality and added features would rate well above aesthetics but we have to be especially mindful, that we're not paying for features, that we'll never use. Let's be honest how many wash cycles do you use on your washing machine.
At the end of the day if you're happy to stick with just a few wash cycles like the internet and Openoffice, then the entry level, Linux, Eee PC 701 is excellent value for money. If you need a few more wash cycles then you'll need to be looking at a Microsoft machine. If you need to do a bigger load then the 30GB Classmate with all its added features would be the one for you. A larger screen costs you more and if you want it to look pretty then you'll have to pay more for that too.
How big is your load?
H0w many wash cycles do you need?
*all prices are approximate and have been quoted with GST
no discount has been given for bulk orders
Friday, October 10, 2008
What do you think? Are all these needed or are there other things that need to be added to the list?
I've had the opportunity to play around on the Microsoft (XP) version of my Eee PC's this week. While I love my Linux machine because it's quick, simple and easy to use, I have to admit that the Microsoft version is not as bad and as slow as I thought it would be (even on this 4Gb machine) and there are some definite advantages to having a microsoft machine such as:-
You have access to the Microsoft Office software suite.
Shockwave player is available.
You can easily map and share drives off a Windows server.
You can upload files to all web2 programs.
Personally I can live without points 1-4 above. I can use OpenOfffice and or web2 programs instead of Microsoft Office. I haven't come across anymore web2 programs which require the Shockwave player as most are Shockwave Flash based which is available on the Linux machine. I don't want to be able to synchronise my files with my 'h' drive and have to wait 5 minutes before I can use the machine. I don't want to be able to use software that is on a mapped drive, that can only be accessed from our server while at school. I don't want to spend ages putting extra software on my machine or 25 student machines to come to that. In fact I don't want to spend years upgrading and installing extra software full stop and I definitely don't want to be relying on technician support.
All I want to have is a machine that is simple to use, one that connects easily and quickly to the internet, accessing software and information from the web (in the cloud). The Linux machine is specifically designed to do this, with its large pre-installed buttons, that link you directly to the cloud (Firefox, igoogle, skype. and much more). The Linux machine is configured as a web tablet where as the Microsoft version is just a mini Windows machine.
However point 5 above does concern me - not being able to upload to some web2 programs (i.e. dipity, animoto, eyespot) which restricts my use of web2 program. Yes I can use other programs (jumpcut, voice thread, glogster etc) but my question is as more web2 programs are developed will there be more programs I can't use? This I'm not sure?
Mark seems to think that the reason why I cant upload files to some web2 programs is because the web sites have been designed using Microsoft software instead of an opensource alternative and the programs can't find a 'c 'drive which is a Windows standard (seems a reasonable explanation to me). Does that mean then that you can't use them on an Apple machine?
Surely all programs that are designed for the web should be of an open standard, designed for all machines (PC's, phones. PSP's) and all browsers (Firefox, Explorer, Opera mini). So maybe if they aren't I shouldn't be worried about not been able to use them! Oh it seems like I can live with that too.
In fact for $400 I can live without all of that. I like the simplicity and speed of the Linux Eee PC with its internet ready design and its easy to restore to factory settings button
What features do you need?
Which one will you be able to live with ?
Microsoft or Linux?
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Both PW and ourselves have just been selected as finalists in the Interface Magazine 2008 Awards. PW has been selected in the 'Best Use of ICT in Teaching' category with his use of Elgg for his learning goals and our blog is in the ' Best Teacher Blog' category.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
If you don't know what an Unconference is, it's just an informal gathering, where people can show case their ICT initiatives/ideas. We had six tables/stations set up for the one hour staff meeting, on the last week of term 3. Everybody just moved around from table to table with their laptops, gathering ideas and discussing issues. I thought the Unconference was a great idea and a good success. I would definitely recommend it to any school who haven't tried it yet and hope we get to do another one next term so that more people can showcase their initiatives.
Table 1-TBa showed us dipity a web2 program for generating timelines. A great little program which links to googlemaps and gives you a flip book view too. Unfortunately this is another web2 program I've found which doesn't allow me to upload pictures from my linux EeePC so I won't be able to use it with my class but I recommend you give it a go with your class as it has lots of potential and is very easy to use.
Table 2-TBu showed us his class page on Moodle. TBu has worked hard on this to produce such a great design and you can too. Find instructions on how to do 'all things moodle' in the documentation section at moodle.org. You lucky Southwell people can also check out the moodle courses we did a couple of years ago under 'All about Moodle' in 'Teacherspace'
Table 3-GV showed you his excellent Year 8 Science exam he'd produced on Moodle. Well done Guy for daring to do this. GV won't mind me saying this but it was no mean feat. It took a lot of planning, preparation and trialing. The idea is that you design each question first (question type, image and audio) then work on putting the quiz together. 'Think big, start small and plan for early success'. moodle.org also has a good documentation section on setting up your own quizzes. You'll need to register first but it's worth the effort as this site is packed full of moodle know how.
Table 4-KW showed us Glogster - a site used to apparently 'poster yourself' it mixes graphics, video, music and text into slick glogs- A pretty flash program definitely worth a play with if you haven't done so already. It works on my Asus Eee PC's too so I can use it with my class.
Like all good web2 programs glogster provides you with the URL and the embedded code to add your finished glog into your favourite website/social network. Glogs can be easily linked to moodle and embedded into the blog and text widget on Elgg (our school's private social network) but you have to remember to go to the settings (top right of the screen) and switch off the visual editor (bottom of screen) before you can embed it into the mypages-eportfolio section in Elgg- a point worth noting when you are adding other web2 stuff like voicethread and animoto.
Table 5-PW let us have a look at his netvibes page. A startup page for your PC which lets you aggregate all your news and blog feeds into one area. I have a netvibes page but prefer to use use igoogle (just a personal thing). Startup pages are quite handy so if you don't have a netvibes or igoogle startup page I highly recommend you check out these two over the holidays and work out which one you prefer.
Table 6- And finally I discussed Elgg (0ur schools private social network) a bit like bebo and facebook but with a lot more learning potential (blogs, wiki, eportfolio, etc ). Even if you don't think you are ready to use these with your class yet, just be aware that the kids are using them. You might just want to join one or check out the activity in Elgg and see what they are up to, it might just inspire you. Here is a Pdf of a few other areas in Elgg you could check out too.
Happy holidays and see you next term.