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Responses to Don Tapscott’s Keynote April 16, 2008

Posted by Steve in : hz08, Sample , comments closed

dimdim April 13, 2008

Posted by Steve in : Elearning, Stimulation, Web2.0 , 5 comments

dimdimlog0.pngDimdim is web collaboration software that is free and is open source. It has become available to everyone in the middle of April 2008. I believe it has been in a lengthy testing period where participants volunteered to try out the software and provide feedback. Seemingly it was developed under a reasonably controlled environment as compared to allowing all comers to test the software. The sheer volume would have brought it unstuck.

dimparticipants1.png The layout of the screen seems like most other web collaboration software. It has a list of participants and the icons next to each participant indicates the privileges they have eg. the ability to use audio or chat privately with a participant.

Dimdim has the ability to share a whiteboard, to share a presentation by uploading a PDF or a PowerPoint file and to share one’s Desktop. All seemed to work well in my testing.

dimchat.png The chat feature for back channel communications seem to be easy to use and emoticons can be incorporated. An improvement of the chat feature would be the ability for a participant to choose a font colour. Having stated that, the system assigned two different colours to the broadcaster and to the participant.

The whiteboard seems to come with the usual tools for collaborating. Some of the tools include: text entry box, a rubber stamp capable of producing many geometrical designs, a pencil for the likes of cursive writing, straight line tool, rectangle, circular and triangular frame tools that have several options. There is a clear button to erase all the objects on the whiteboard.

dimsteve2.png The whiteboard is missing a pointer tool to point out specific items when giving a presentation on the whiteboard. I really missed the pointer tool and it needs to be added in a future version in my opinion. I also like a highlighter when using a whiteboard but it does not seem to be available in dimdim.

Dimdim makes use of Adobe Flash Player 9 which uses video and audio like that found in other Adobe products. The broadcasting video is reasonably sharp but the quality is certainly lost in transmission to the participants most probably since it is enlarged a bit. I was unable to test for the use of video with other participants. It will be interesting to see what that looks like on the screen or even if it can cope.

The limit of participants seems to be twenty. More than one participant’s microphone can be allowed to operate at one time.

I was not able to test the audio / video with several participants. It will be fascinating to see how it copes with the volume.

This is a product worth considering since it makes use of a whiteboard or one can give a presentation. It is free and open source. It certainly has potential and I would think commercial web collaboration entities will be looking over their shoulders. It is a product worth observing as it matures.

Horizon 2008 Project Keynote Presentation April 12, 2008

Posted by Steve in : hz08 , 1 comment so far

wikinomics1.jpgDon Tapscott’s keynote presentation to the Horizon2008 Project will be well received by the participants of the project. A focus of his presentation was that Education is in need of a major change for 21st Century students. I cannot imagine any progressive student nor teacher not agreeing with that statement and giving it full endorsement.

He stated among other things, that today’s generation were not passive and not content to watch television 24 hours a day as are the ‘Baby Boomer’s’ (yee-gads, that’s me a baby boomer). Today’s generation are active producers of material in today’s digital age. This has rippling effects in schools, in that students do not wish to be passive students in a teacher centred classroom but want to be active students in a student centred classroom that has structure. The current educational model is not appropriate for this era that deals with knowledge.

Many of the concepts dealt within his book, Wikinomics, can be related to things that are happening within the Horizon 2008 Project. Some of the concepts include:

It is a pleasure to note that Don Tapscott accepted the invitation to be the keynote speaker for the Horizon 2008 Project because so much of what is in ‘Wikinomics’ is being implemented within the Horizon 2008 Project. It is ‘spine tingling’ when one observes ‘theory’ being put into practice.

‘Wikinomics’ compliments very much the concepts introduced in the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Freidman.

Of course, much kudos goes to Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis for bringing all of this together. Words fail me when trying to describe the brilliance of the Horizon 2008 Project.

Horizon2008 Project: itsie witzie contributions April 12, 2008

Posted by Steve in : hz08, Musing , 1 comment so far

horizonproj08_1.pngThe Horizion 2008 Project is gaining momentum and observing the activities is fascinating and highly motivating.

I’ve focused on the team that is dealing with Collective Intelligence. The first few entries from students that did not involve social introductions focused on the meaning of the group topic.

I found as a teacher I could not help myself. I felt compelled to add an entry that attempted to give some added material but did not give the game away, so to speak.

I followed the group discussion for awhile and I was fearful that the group was still not getting it. Again I tried to contribute something that would not interfere with the duties of the project leader. I created a short audio recording based on a section from “Wikinomics” since I knew the author was going to be the keynote speaker for 2008. I used Audacity to blend in some background music that was copyright free off of the Internet.

I have also been adding potential bookmarks to Diigo that may assist the Collective Intelligence group in their research or at least ideas for a multimedia artifact. At first I was only contributing bookmarks to the Collective Intelligence group but slowly realised I could contribute bookmarks to the other groups as well.

It is safe to say, that as a teacher, I am also growing not to mention those students involved in the project.

Elluminate and New South Wales (Oz State) April 12, 2008

Posted by Steve in : CSTA, Elearning, Web2.0 , add a comment

elluminate.jpgThe Computing Studies Teachers Association (CSTA) is preparing to run their Inservice on May 19th. The inservice consists of several workshops that run concurrently and participants choose which workshop they will attend. One of the workshops will be on Elluminate, web collaboration software.

The inservice will be held at Riverside Girls High School, Sydney, and it is an Education Department school. This in turn means that filtering and security is tight, often too tight for progressive teachers. Because of this security, I initiated a series of steps to test out various things to make sure we indeed can run a successful Elluminate session at Riverside Girls High School.

Courtesy of coolcatteacher, I became aware that Elluminate was offering a free 12 month subscription for their lite version. Consequently, I subscribed on behalf of my school.

I created a virtual room and asked a couple of computing teachers to attempt to login and if successful we would interact about VET IT. One of the teachers was from rural New South Wales and was not able to login from her department school. The other teacher was able to login from an internet hotspot at one of the cafes near a meeting he was attending. The unsuccessful login was a learning objective in its own right.

My next step was to create a virtual room on April 8th that was open for 24 hours, advertise it on csteachers (the csta’s electronic forum), and monitor the successful logins or lack thereof. It was very interesting. Most teachers could not log in from their schools. Messages flew back and forth on csteachers that tried to resolve the settings that were needed. A very few number of department schools succeeded. Most teachers that tried from home outside of school hours were successful. (Phew!)

Prior to the April 8th experiment, Elluminate was little known. However, after the experiment, most computing teachers at least know the title of the software.

We did discover that Riverside Girls High School can indeed access an Elluminate room through the department infrastructure. We are not sure why other department schools are unable to gain access. This in turn means that we have a high percentage chance of success to run an Elluminate session at our May 19th meeting.

Failing that, the presenter will have his own laptop with mobile broadband capability to access the Elluminate virtual room and present in a physical classroom and in a virtual room for the teachers in rural New South Wales.

Here’s to a successful Elluminate session!

The end goal is to be able to offer some CSTA workshops through web collaboration software so that teachers in rural NSW will not be so professionally isolated.

Diigo and Ripples March 30, 2008

Posted by Steve in : Elearning, hz08, Musing, Web2.0 , 4 comments

It has been some week in the annals of information technologies and those considered to be a Web2.0 entity.

I was able to get quite a discussion going in my Year 9 Information Software and Technology class. A question came up that was something like, “Why should it be a big thing that we download music and the such for free?” The resulting discussion was very impressive and we went quite in depth. One of the better questions was, “Why is it that so many law abiding, ordinary citizens have used software to download so many television shows from Europe and North America?” I’ll let your imagination run with that one.

valuesexchange2.gifThose students that have been involved in the Values Exchange program were pleased that they were able to add their comments and were somewhat surprised that topics from another subject area may be relevant to other subject areas. Ah, they are beginning to see outside their eye blinkers.

horizonproj08_1.pngI was able to contribute a wee little bit to the Horizon Project 2008. There was a request from the Horizon organisers for a teacher to facilitate a wiki page where the focus was on safe use of the nings and wikis that were being used for the project. I volunteered to carry out the request. On the wiki page I even created an animated gif which I had to learn how to do in Photoshop CS3. The teachers seemed to be impressed with the tone of the page. Strangely, no student as actually contributed to the wiki page indicating specifically what should be written or not in regards to safe use of a ning or wiki eg. user first name with surname initial only NOT first name and surname fully. Having said that, I noticed the students had amended many of their entries.

I was unable to participate in the Horizon Project 2008 weekly Elluminate meeting but I did watch the recording which was very informative. There was a request to proofread their initial 5 templates that will eventually expand to 65. I did find a couple of “typo” errors. It was easier to fix the same type three times as compared to 65 times! Again, I was able to contribute just a little bit.

I noticed that the Judges link became active and I have been the first to jump in and list my name as a Judge for the Collective Intelligence section. I chose that because it was one of the two case studies that I submitted to the Values Exchange pilot program. I next book marked a few web pages that may have a bearing on collective intelligence which in turn will be listed through a RSS feed on the Horizion Project 2008 wiki pages.

Standardised tagging strategies are being used in the Horizon Project. If one enters: http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+collectiveintelligence, a listing of book marks world wide which have been tagged with hzo8 and collectiveintelligence are listed. This is a very powerful mechanism.

During the course of events with the Horizon Project 2008, it was announced that the keynote speaker would be Dan Tapscott, author of Wikinomics. So off to Sydney I went on Saturday to purchase the text and I also ordered via Amazon, “Look Both Ways, Help Protect Your Family on the Internet” by Linda Criddle. This was a result of the safety issues raised and the text was mentioned by Vickie Davis.

diigo1.pngOver the weekend, I investigated Diigo. It was taking the world by storm in terms of acceptance and people joining it. Seemingly, I was one of the first to gain membership. The site seems to streamline and bring a lot of activities that are carried out by other applications to just one place. I like that! While I am a convert to it and will abandon Delicious, I would not necessarily make use of it in the classroom because Diigo is a social networking entity and that is very sensitive to many parents. Some of things it does includes:

These are a few of its abilities and my sub-conscious will be processing all the experimentation that I have carried.

Phew, what a week!

Ramblings March 22, 2008

Posted by Steve in : Musing , add a comment

blogsteve1.jpgI had promised myself that I would be more regular with blog entries but it has not taken place. Once I swung back into the full classroom teacher mode, time became in short supply. Who says time is not linear? I have not even downloaded sessions from EdTech Talk to listen on my iPod.

I had committed myself to the Horizon Project 2008 but concluded I was unable to meet with a group of students for an hour a week outside the normal timetable. I had to withdraw and that irked me to no end. I will need to run with a collaboration project with a class in the future.

My Year 9 IST class has been enrolled in Course Compass. It is like Moodle but based on Blackboard. The real time communication modules had promise but more often than not, falls over and is not effective. Sending emails to the class in one hit is efficient. It turns out, the animations on Course Compass are far too few. I guess I am not structured enough to run with Course Compass. I know where I want to be at the end of a week but interruptions causes me to adjust to a lesson by lesson basis, especially if a number of students are missing.

I have spent many hours preparing and dealing with Computing Studies Teacher’s Association administration. Many hours went into preparation for the 2008 Annual General Meeting. Overall, the sessions went off well and the actual Annual General Meeting went off without a hitch. Thankfully, I prepared an itemised agenda to go through. I almost forgot to do it. The committee members were terrific in carrying out their specific tasks be it purchasing supplies for the weekend and filling in various gaps. Unfortunately, the parking at the venue was too expensive and we won’t be returning there in 2009. The evaluations gave the venue the thumbs down. Due to circumstances, the Secretary ended up doing the job of three people since two were not available due to family circumstances. He deserves a commendation medal.

The new CSTA committee has met for the first time and the character of the committee will change. The committee is now up to 20 from 15 which is a vast improvement. Again, I have spent many hours preparing the Inservice forms for the May meeting as well as communing with the 10 presenters. I place documents on Google Docs for collaboration and to allow those committee members interested to see where things are headed.

It appears I will need to spend quite a bit of time reviewing, learning new programming languages. It looks like I have to move away from VB 6 and move onto VB 2008 Express, RealBasic and Scratch.

Horizon Project 2008 Lesser Role February 17, 2008

Posted by Steve in : hz08 , add a comment

horizonproj08_1.pngIt is with regret that I make this entry. It appears that I will not be able to meet with a mixed group of students once or twice a week outside the normal timetable due to the number of extra co-curricular activities that already take place. It is week 3 of the school year, and students are involved in the school’s major drama production; we have a group of music students going over to China to participate in a music festival; we have the Honours Program, a new online project entitled “Values Exchange” and the rest of the students are involved in some sort of sporting activity. I never did get all the interested students at one meeting.

Plan B was to just involve my Year 9 Information and Software Technology class. Unfortunately, a significant number are committed to the “Values Exchange” online project that is described in a previous post. That teacher is having the same difficulty: trying to nominate a time where all students can meet. Since we were committed to the Values Exchange project first, I thought it only fair that it be given priority.

We had hoped that the students involved in the “Values Exchange” program would complete that and rotate to the Horizon Project which would be also counted toward fulfilling requirements to achieve the school’s Scholarship Medallion. Perhaps we can do this with the next Flatclassroom Project if it continues.

There is a possibility that a smaller and younger group of students consisting mostly of Year Eights may still want to go through the motions of participating.

I have contacted the organisers and explained my situation. I have volunteered to take on whatever other duties that may be required for the Horizon Project 2008 to succeed.


Values Exchange February 17, 2008

Posted by Steve in : Elearning, Web2.0 , add a comment

valuesexchange2.gifAnother teacher and I became involved in a Values Exchange pilot program late in 2007. The other teacher is not too confident with the technology side of things and requested that I attend the introductory session where she could focus on the conceptual ideas that were offered and not be distracted by the online technology that was involved. As it turned out this was a very good idea because the software is quite complex.

There are a few schools involved in Australia and New Zealand in the pilot program. If successful and funding found, the progam can be scaled up to bigger and better things.

Teachers are required to submit a proposal that can be discussed / debated online. Students are required to research the proposal and go through a series of online screens that forces the students to articulate clearly about their stance on a proposal. The software breaks all proposals into social areas such as the Law, a group of people, human rights, dignity ect. The students rank each area by using interactive graphics. Most screens require an opinion by the student of no more than 150 words.

When the student completes the entire process, the software translates the responses into numerical data in various ways. The software also displays emperical data after a group of students have responded to the proposal.

The learning by students in this pilot program is two fold: one for experiencing the interface of the online software and two: improving their ability to persuade and / or analyse a scenario.

The teacher cannot just ‘whip’ up a proposal within 30 minutes. The teacher actually has to provide some thoughtful notes on the proposal and give details as to where further information can be found.

The author of the software, David Seedhouse, is more than willing to give assistance to teachers when polishing their proposal.

I created a proposal and with David’s assistance it evolved to:

It is proposed that social operating systems should be completely transparent and have no privacy restrictions.

The concept comes from the Horizon Report 2008. I choose one their concepts on social operating systems, identified a specific concept that may prevent social operating systems from evolving and created the proposal (again, with David’s assistance). My first proposal attempt was mediocre at best.

The language found in the Horizon Report 2008 is too complex for students in Years Eight or Nine. I did considerable re-phrasing in the hope that the students will be able to understand the concept.

To the best of my knowledge, anyone can go to the Values Exchange site and register to participate in some of the experimental proposals.

The Values Exchange Pilot Program can be found at:


Remote Control Garage Doors February 17, 2008

Posted by Steve in : Technotrivia , comments closed

garageremote2.jpgWe moved premises a few weeks ago. Moving into a new place always provides opportunities for problem solving and identifying idiosyncracies of different things. After moving in, we could not oven to turn on. The oven had all the instructions for various white goods in the kitchen inside it. Not a good idea if someone could easily turn on the oven without checking. I check the fuse box and it seemed operational. After a few hours, my wife discovered a on/off switch that actually turned on the oven. Never in our lives had we seen such a setup. It must be a safety feature for young people?

The new place has a couple of remote operating garage doors. Naturally, my remote control pad lost its settings and I had little or no Internet access for the first 10 days of the move. Eventually I located an Internet terminal. I did a quick search for the manufacturer of the Australian door, found a FAQ section which gave instructions on re-coding the keypad. When I took the cover off the remote controller on the door, I was surprised at how complex the circuit board appeared. It definitely has the ability to do a lot more than previous generations of remote controlled doors in Australia.

Pressed the Door Code continuously, and at the same time pressed the transmitter button on the remote pad twice. Tested the remote out and everything was operational!