January 22, 2006
As the school magazine blog gets underway I have been asked what the rules are. So I’m doing a little bit of research.
The East Side High School in New York has a blogging policy, but as I read their site now on a Sunday night I notice on the home page is a nasty post with aggresive flaming and bad language from yesterday (Saturday). Obviously posts are moderated after they appear on the site and not before; and no moderator has been able to see it yet. But what will they say to a school governor who happens to discover the site tonight?
Such a scenario might push back the adoption of blogging in a school for years and this is one of the main reasons that I chose to introduce blogging into school in this walled garden kind of way.
The other issue is child protection. The East Side blog has individual photos of children showing their first names. I can see in these days of nervousness, in the UK, this might be considered too much. Supporting this view, The Downs FM, a Primary School podcast showed hand drawn caricatures of the contributing children, presumably images that they and their friends could recognise but someone outside the school could not.
The research continues
January 15, 2006
Wow when he discovered LSD he associated it with enlightenment.
MR. HOFMANN studied chemistry and took a job with the Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz Laboratories, because it had started a program to identify and synthesize the active compounds of medically important plants. He soon began work on the poisonous ergot fungus that grows in grains of rye. Midwives had used it for centuries to precipitate childbirths, but chemists had never succeeded in isolating the chemical that produced the pharmacological effect. Finally, chemists in the United States identified the active component as lysergic acid, and Mr. Hofmann began combining other molecules with the unstable chemical in search of pharmacologically useful compounds.
His work on ergot produced several important drugs, including a compound still in use to prevent hemorrhaging after childbirth. But it was the 25th compound that he synthesized, lysergic acid diethylamide, that was to have the greatest impact. When he first created it in 1938, the drug yielded no significant pharmacological results. But when his work on ergot was completed, he decided to go back to LSD-25, hoping that improved tests could detect the stimulating effect on the body’s circulatory system that he had expected from it. It was as he was synthesizing the drug on a Friday afternoon in April 1943 that he first experienced the altered state of consciousness for which it became famous. “Immediately, I recognized it as the same experience I had had as a child,” he said. “I didn’t know what caused it, but I knew that it was important.”
From NY Times
Note normally the NY Times requires a subscription, but this link works, at least today 15 Jan.
January 14, 2006
I’m up in London, just been to The BETT educational technology show. I forgot to take my iRiver to do some podcasting. Sorry, I’m not really in that mindset anymore what with the PGCE. Anyway here is a little write up:
A boardless interactive whiteboard. Project onto anything, and write or click with a special pen that sends an infrared signal back to a unit that you strap (or glue) onto your projector. The unit works out how far off centre your pen is and hey your ink appears on the wall. The cost is around £400, so its cheap but the other advantages are that its portable, you don’t need to install anything on the wall; and the image can be of any size. You can us it in a large hall on a 150 inch projection.
Compubits: ONfinity CM2
There was a flip chart ink board from 3M that could be projected for £800.
I went to see the UK Moodle guys, just to say hello. I spoke with Miles Berry who I had heard interviewed on Leon Cych’s Learn for Life. Miles has just won the Becta Primary Ed Award for 2005 for his work with Moodle. We chatted about it’s use in a Primary context and about blogging. He didn’t seem to share my concerns that the interface design was geared towards tertiary education. I should have stuck around to See Drew Buddie who is one of the pioneers of Moodle in secondary ed. (Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth). But I met the guys from my course and they dragged me away. A bit stupid really because I aslo wanted to talk with Andrew Field who seems to be the author of half the free learning resources on the web. Its just I’m just a little zonked out at the moment from lack of sleep.
I found an interesting online learning community goldstarcafe.net based in Litton, Derbyshire. Rob Hart, a director knows my friend Maeve who also lives in the village, that was a nice coincidence. The kids can log on and learn with other children. Seems like a nice idea but I haven’t test driven. There’s quite a digital cottage industry establishing itself in the Peak district now.
If you can have Moodle for free, there were plenty of companies selling VLE’s and peddling content, often content that had been created for a particular LEA, I wonder about the copyright of some of these resources.
Continuing in the Sheffield vein, South Yorkshire eLeaning programme were there peddling their wares because they have spent the millions of pounds of European funding and now have to try and make money. Only thing is that they couldn’t clearly tell me what they were selling they were selling nor who too. They were just left one worried tax payer.
January 11, 2006
One of the worst things I find about this course is that lonely feeling that you get late at night when you are preparing lessons and you have no one to help. Your coursemates are busy on their own plans, they might give you a pointer or 2 but even if they have taught the subject, their help is limited.
At our school there are some PGCE subjects that take student teachers in pairs. I think that could be a really good way of doing things. You get more feedback, you’ve got someone to talk things through with. Like, “do you think that they will manage this worksheet?”
Of course if you end up hating each other it could be a bind, but that goes for the student-mentor realationship too.
January 8, 2006
The video professor
I just want to echo a recurring theme of John Udell’s: that the value of quality knowlegde that we the world already have stored in video format is imense. It just needs to be accessible.
Here are some of the best teachers from the best University in the world introducing the concept of “Computer Science” and placing it in it’s wider context of the history of human thought. Fantastic for anyone who thinks deeply about how the world works.
The video is 20 years old. In these days of a proliferation of digital video recorders and mp3 recorders, recording and publishing news as it happens, it’s easy to forget about the treasures from the past:
Abelson and Sussman’s MIT course, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
January 8, 2006
I was too lazy to actually write anything when I was in Dubai. I was just enjoying the warmth and spending time with Faye and her family. We visited the Dubai Creek the old quarter and went to the beach, didn’t want to do much else, but I would have liked to have gone ski-ing on snow in the refrigerated ski-slope in the Mall of the Emirates.
For anyone who’s interested, its very temperate at this time of year – like an English summer but warmer at night. Its not particularly cheap, especially when you want to go out to drink. Being an Islamic country, bars and restaurants serving alchohol are concentrated around large hotels – there seems to be plenty of them though. Everything seemed upmarket.
There’s lots of building and shopping malls. The city is booming. It reminded me of Miami, where people come from more troubled countries to save, invest and spend their money. The photo is from the top of one of the Towers in the Marina which is owned by the company that Faye’s Dad works for. (Me, Faye, Hannah & Scott the morning after the night before). See some more photos on flickr
January 8, 2006
‘Tis dark and gloomy in this northern land. It was a real wrench to get me back into school. Still it’s been reassuring to talk to my fellow PCGEers non of them (without exception) are up for it either. The idealism of September seems far away its back to the everyday struggle to keep the boys from fighting and the girls from doing handstands whilst ploughing through hour long lessons of curriculm..
I never like January here. I can hack the cold but its the lack of light that kills me.
January 1, 2006
When I first started work we were in the last days of DOS, the tools we used to produce reports drastically improved every year. In Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Graphics production. We got exited by each development that enabled us to be more productive. I remember painfully learning Lotus 123 (version 3) this was pre WYSIWIG. Printing was an art. All but the most basic Graphs needed a separate application Harvard Graphics. The Next version had separate style files that ammended the .123 file. Then I got my hands on Excel and it blew the rest out of the water – but it wouldn’t run on the old networked machines.
So when I study the curriculum for Years 7, 8, and 9, it’s all very familiar. In fact in all secondary school years, pupils spend the majority of their time learning office/ productivity software. Fantastic for me – I know this stuff, but for children the context is completely different. We were paid to produce reports and more importantly were intellectually movitvated to do so. What is the relavance to a 12 year old?
Of course the more intellectual children grasp the problem and it’s great to see their faces when they discover the power that Excel gives them. But for the rest of them its like pushing water uphill.
Even if I were to agree that we should be teaching children solely what they need to be usefully employed (which I definately don’t). When these children hit the workplace most will be writing straight onto web-based applications and the young ICT talented recruits will be producing film and multimedia to put over their points of view.
Much better to find what the kids want to do with ICT then try to tap into that energy and extend it, nurturing them along the way, helping them to push through their boundries. For most of them except the computer science geeks, that means multimedia: Video, photos, sound and animation. This is actually tough for me, because I have to learn something new, but much more exiting.
[This post was from December but didn't get put up because of the hosting problem]