Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making posters - Rasterbator & Picasa

Seaghan Moriarty demonstrated Rasterbator (careful how you say that in class) at the CESI conference a couple of years ago. It is an online application to generate posters from a photograph. Go to the website and click "Rasterbate Online" (stop sniggering). The site turns your photo into a pdf file of a series of rasterised pages you can print on a standard A4 printer. The pages form a jigsaw of your photograph that you can put together on a wall.

Another way to generate a poster is with Picasa. Picasa is a free tool from Google to manage and edit Photographs. It links with their photo album website service. There are lots of things you can do with Picasa and one I was playing with today is generating posters. The posters generated are basically enlargements of the original photograph so the quality will be higher than a rasterbated poster but will also use more ink.

The screen capture videos for this were done with the new version of quicktime that comes with Snow Leopard. Pretty easy to use.

Update - Another online poster maker suggestion from Ban Ryan -

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Catching Up

It has been a while since posting - I could use the excuse of the school holidays but of course holiday time is when I have more time not less so that won't do. When I started blogging, Patricia Donaghy recommended "little and often" but I haven't managed to follow that wise advice, perhaps it is time to give that maxim a whirl.

It was nice to get a mention on the Silicon Republic news site alongside Noel Cunningham et al

It has been a busy summer one way or another. Once the state exams were over and reports etc. were all sorted out in the school, my time was taken up getting myself organised for heading to Kenya with Camara - I have written a bit on this over on the CESI website in a DigiTeach article . I dare say I'll write about it here too over the next few months.

Looking forward to the CESI Meet later in September. It is good to see CESI giving folk a chance to meet up outside of the conference. Organisation for the conference will be kicking off soon as well and again more on that over the next few months.

The CESI mailing list is ticking along nicely with just over 390 members - should be 400 before too long. If there is wisdom in crowds then this crowd has a lot to offer those taking up the challenge of integrating ICT into education.

Despite my interest and fondness for all things Linux and Open Source I splashed out on a Macbook Pro for myself as I'm getting more interested in multimedia stuff, video editing etc. and well ..... Apple is very much the way to go for this in my experience and I'm glad to say it is a really great machine. I took a lot of video footage while in Kenya using a cheap Kodak Zi6. The quality was pretty good and it was so handy to carry around. I spent a lot of time recently playing with the footage and combining it with photographs taken by other Camara volunteers during our time in Kenya as well as some Kenyan music we got from the people we were working with over there. The workflow combination of iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes and iDVD make all of this so much easier to pull together than anything else I have played with on Linux or Windows. I found the Zi6 great and I plan on getting a Zi8 for the school when it is released in September.

That's all for now - time will tell if I go for the little and often maxim.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Playing with Virtualisation & Jing

After the ATI course last week I decided to bring one of the school Apple laptops with me to Portrush to play with. OS X is all well and good with its smooth & snazzy gui etc. but I found myself missing my Linux desktop for getting things done. Yep I could do pretty much everything through OS X but ....... well ..... I like Linux.

So time to try out virtualisation. Found a free application from Sun called Virtualbox , downloaded it and a beta ISO of the next version of Ubuntu and gave it a whirl. My verdict after playing for a couple of hours - It works really well. It should both run on Windows and run a Windows virtual machine and I'll try this out when I go home at the weekend. It has settings for running virtual machines for every version of Windows from 7, which is still in beta, back to 3.1. It does loads of other operating systems including BSD unix and Solaris. While Virtualbox runs fine on a Mac you can't create an OS X virtual machine as this is forbidden in the licence for OS X.

I wanted to show this in action and started checking out screen video capturing software. Jing seemed to work just fine so I coughed up $15 for the version that saves as a video file as well as SWF, which the free version does and am very impressed with it. There is a free one called RecordMyDesktop that runs on Linux but I couldn't find a good free one for OS X. The video below shows the Linux desktop booting up inside a window on an Apple laptop. Jing will record a voiceover as well but when I was using it for this one the fans on the laptop came on and it sounded like an airplane taking off. So I pulled the video into iMovie, deleted the audio track and did a voiceover instead with the fans turned off. An external microphone is probably the best way to go but I don't have one here with me. Then I loaded it up to Youtube and voila.

Not sure where the educational value of Virtualbox lies yet. I suppose we could run software designed for one platform on another one but not sure we have a use for that in my school. I reckon any techie students I work with will be interested in playing with it.

Something like Jing though, which runs on Windows as well, will be very useful. Rather than trying to demo everything live in class I can do the old Blue Peter trick of "Here's one I made earlier". It will also mean I can record a good demo and reuse it whenever needed or make it available to students to watch in their own time. Wink is a similar application for Windows that may be worth checking out. It can output in a variety of formats including PDF and SWF but not a video format so you can't upload to Youtube or the likes unless you convert it to a video format first.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

OS X vs Windows Vs Linux - Part 2

The current computer room in Clongowes doubles up as a study where students can work during specified study times in the evening. It caters mainly for Transition year students who have access to computers most evenings during study. Students from other year groups can get permission from whoever is supervising their study to visit the computer room for a while to perform some specific task. The old computer room was Windows only but when we moved to a bigger room I had more scope for flexability. I decided to keep a bank of Win XP machines for class as that was what the teachers were more familiar with but decided to go with a bank of Macs and some Linux machines as well. I loaded some pictures of the construction of the computer room and the finished product onto the school website.

So what next. I tried a machine on Vista last year for a few months but it didn't integrate properly with XP and ran slower on the fastest machine in the school. The same machne is now running as a Youtube clone where we can run videos on the network. It runs on Linux using PHPmotion . It also runs as a music server that students can link into using iTunes on Windows and Mac machines and Rhythmbox on Linux machines. At one time I figured XP would be the last version of Windows we would use as the future was Linux. Now I'm of the opinion variety is a good thing but we are going to have XP for quite a few years yet as we have a lot of machines that run it just fine but would crawl with Vista. Windows 7? ....... well I'll try it out but I haven't seen anything that excites me too much yet.

On the Linux front I'm planning on moving to Ubuntu 8.04 on servers and clients during the summer. By that time there will be two newer versions, 8.10 and 9.04 but 8.04 is a long term support (LTS) version which means it will get updates through to 2011.

On the Mac front the move from Tiger to Leopard was painless and I suspect the jump to Snow Leopard will be painless as well. I'll probably look at upgrading RAM to 2GB in the Apple machines.

Virtualisation? Nope not yet.

And what do we do with computers here. As with most schools Internet, email, word processing covers 90% of it and all platforms do this equally well. I find Firefox seems to run a lot of the web 2.0 stuff better than Safari and Internet Explorer and web 2.0 stuff is becoming more important all the time. For speed the thin client linux machines win as they are running directly off the server. Apple wins hands down when it comes to more creative stuff with sound and video. This has become more important to us as we now do Digital Creator with the transition year students.

On the server end we are 100% Linux which I have found to be excellent over the last five years or more that we have been using it. I have never used an Apple server other than at a training session. I liked what I saw as much of it was using stuff that was very similar to the way I do things in Linux - in fact much of the software running on the server end is the same but with some extra Apple polish on the GUI. Unless we win the lotto though I reckon we will stick with Linux. I haven't used Windows servers since Windows 2000 server. I know it has come on a lot in the last decade but I reckon Linux is more secure, more robust, less prone to viruses and more cost efficient and so I don't feel any impetus to go back to Redmond.

I'm also wondering will Google's Android carve out a niche somewhere on the network. I keep reading stories like this one that make me think it may well get a role somewhere in the next couple of years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OS X vs Windows Vs Linux - Part 1

In Trinity I got used to Unix and liked it but when I was doing the H.Dip. and had to write up some essays I was directed to the Apple Macs in the computer room under the arches up by Westland Row. The screens were small but I was blown away by the word processor. The fonts were beautiful and the print quality from the laser printer just incredible compared to what I was used to from the wide carriage dot matrix stuff in the Maths Department.

When I started working in Clongowes there were 14 standalone DOS pcs, 2 with hard disks and colour monitors. One was linked to a 9-pin dot matrix. I remember loading up Windows 1.0 on one of them. I was fierce impressed byt the clock, it had hands that turned around. Yep I was easily impressed. Once Windows was up and running though you couldn't run any applications as Windows used all the RAM. A student insisted to me that this was the future ..... I was skeptical.

There followed Windows 3, 95, 98 & 98SE. By that time I was in Clongowes 10 years and had just taken over the role of ICT Coordinator in the school. I decided it was time we had a network and that Windows NT Server 4.0 was the way to go. It took me 3 days to get one computer to talk to another but before too long we had a network of two servers (Primary and Backup Domain Controllers in MS terminology) and 24 X Win 98 clients. Win 98 was too easy to mess up so we switched to NT Workstation on the clients. Another couple of years and we jumped to Windows 2000 on the clients and servers. XP on the clients came at a time when I was growing interested in Linux. At that stage I was getting concerned that we were spending a lot of money on licences for Microsoft software and we started using a fair amount of Open Source alternatives. Another couple of years and it was Linux on the servers with Linux and Windows on the clients. StarOffice and Gimp had replaced MS Office and Paint Shop Pro and I was getting confident enough with Linux to start thinking that perhaps XP would be the last version of Windows we would run on our network and that Linux everywhere might be the future albeit quite a few years off.

The computer room was Windows only on the clients as that was what teachers used with their classes. Apples decision to move to Intel chips and the development of boot camp opened up the possibility of having Apple computers in the room as we could boot it up as a Windows machine for class. I had some money left over from another project and splashed out on a Mac Mini. It took a while to get it integrated into the network so that students could log onto it in the same way as other computers and access their files on the server. I found the interface very polished and I liked the way the students embraced the differences and could make comparisons between it and the other operating systems we were using on the network. I started seeing things differently, that while my own preference was for Linux that it was in the students interest to have a variety of operating systems. In the same way that learning a number of languages improves a childs ability to learn any language, having the opportunity to play with a number of operating systems improves their understanding of all of them.

There was a time in Clongowes where we aimed to teach students how to use particular applications well with the understanding it would serve them well when they left the school. So DOS and Word Perfect were the order of the day. The thing is though the pace of change is so fast in the computer industry that it doesn't matter what applications you learn at at 2nd level there will be new versions or completely different applications in use within a few years.

Now the aim in Clongowes is that students be very comfortable with technology, confident that when they are presented with an application they have never used that they can learn it, aware that there are always several ways to get any job done and that one application isn't in itself better than another one just because it is the one they are familiar with.

Now that I have given some background to where we are at in Clongowes, tomorrow I'll have a look at where I think our school network is heading over the next few years both with open source and proprietary software.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Apple Teacher Institute - Cheltenham 2009

I was given an opportunity to attend an Apple Teacher Institute (ATI) event in Cheltenham College last week. I had never attended one before and didn't really know what I was letting myself in for but I figured Cheltenham during the Easter Holidays would be good anyway even if the ATI end of things turned out to be uninteresting.

Well I'm up in Portrush now, feet up, watching reruns of Top Gear, feeling lazy and reflecting on the time I had last week. Cheltenham College is a coeducational boarding secondary school, a truly beautiful school in the heart of Cheltenham, itself well worth a visit. However if I ever get a chance to attend an ATI event again I'd happily attend one in a borstal in the back end of nowhere, it was that good.

The people leading the course have the rather corny title "Apple Distinguished Educators" or ADE's. Whatever about the title, their talent, knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious and I expect they were even more tired than us "students" at the end of it all. I should highlight here that our own Ciaran McCormack (Fís, EuroCreator, IADT, Digital Creator, CESI) was among their number and while I didn't get a chance to attend his sessions I heard nothing but praise from those who did - except for that fire alarm at 1:30 in the morning but I'll let him tell that one.

Each day sessions started at 8:30am and we were still going at 9pm-10pm at night followed by social activity till all hours, though I was that tired I was usually in bed by midnight. Full timetable here though we did deviate from it at times.

Basically days one and two looked at skills training and activities based on the stuff we learned. Day three moved towards a group project where we had to produce something incorporating the various things that each member of the group had learned over the previous couple of days. The sessions running up to 2-3 hours each seem long but time really flew and at the end of them you got the feeling that both the students and the teachers (ADE's) could have kept going such was the interest and enthusiasm on both sides.

Day three was almost entirely given over to the group project where we had to create a 3 minute film/animation/presentation on a topic of our choice. Again the time allowed for this seems long on paper but most of us worked right through the day, in many cases skipping the evening meal in order to get the project finished. At different times we could get called apon to help another group where we could. I got hauled into two language based projects as I could string a few words of Irish together. The ADE's were on hand to help out in any way we needed and Ciaran gave me a hand with part of my groups project. While a lot of time was spent on skills using various Apple applications the focus was entirely on how they could be used in the classroom to aid teaching and learning. One of the sessions I didn't get a chance to go to was on geotagging of photographs in iPhoto and how this can be used in Geography classes. However by joining two teachers who had decided to do a project that involved geotagging I picked up a lot from working with them. The stuff I had learned in iMovie sessions helped put the project together. At the end of day three we all gathered together to see everyone elses project and the diversity, originality and talent was striking.

For me, one of the best things about the course was that it allowed us to become students and go through the learning process, playing with the software and the ideas, working in groups, getting to know, help and work with other educators with very different backgrounds and experiences, while having a lot of fun along the way and with no real pressure about the learning outcome - no exams to pass.

My groups humble effort involved, geotagging photographs of various locations round the town of Cheltenham, editing them in iPhoto, adding them to a film in iMovie, adding music from iTunes to the film, using Google Earth to help create the opening sequence which involved recording screen activity, using screen captures to show some geotagging features in iPhoto, using a microphone to record a voiceover to run during the film/presentation and finally playing round with the timing of everything to fit it into 3 minutes and exporting it out as a video file. The end product isn't intended to be particularly educational for the viewers but was more an opportunity for the creators to have some fun with the things we had learned, to produce something that might raise a giggle among the other groups. We were all encouraged to load up our creations to Eurocreator but the end of ours probably made it perhaps, possibly, maybe a tad unsuitable so I stuck it on youtube instead.

Something I haven't talked about here is the pretty exclusively Apple nature of the event. Being someone who often promotes the use of open source in education it might seem a bit odd I would speak so glowingly of what is essentially an Apple experience but more on that tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Life in the Clouds - return of the dumb terminal?

What applications do you most on your computer - a word processor, email client, picture editing, video editing, spreadsheets, games, a web browser, a presentation package? That probably covers it for most of us. Cloud service companies like Google want to reduce all that to just one - the web browser. All the other uses listed above have web versions and if there is any application you use that doesn't currently have a web version then it is a pretty safe bet there is a developer somewhere beavering away to be the first to bring a workable online version to market.

The online versions are often slower, lack many of the features of the offline version and have the distinct disadvantage of being unavailable when you can't connect to the internet. As time goes on though it is easy to see that these issues will all go away. While our desire for better internet access outstrips what ISP's can provide, the reality is that Internet access continues to get faster, more widespread and more reliable.

So the idea of our future computing needs being met by a device that just boots to a browser window connected to the cloud seems like a viable idea. Hmm what would this mean for Apple & Microsoft I wonder? Even things like an iPod are threatened by the business models such a device could support. Why manage all those songs and videos on an iPod when you could subscribe for say €10 a month to a media library with millions of songs, recordings and videos all accessible on your always connected cloud device.

Way back when - a long time ago - when I was in Trinity College learning C++ on a DEC PDP 11 it didn't seem strange to me that I never actually saw the computer I was working on. I used a dumb terminal on the 2nd floor of the Maths building and the computer lived a floor or two above where I was working. There was no feeling that if only I could plug a keyboard and monitor directly into the computer I would get a better computing experience. I have fond memories of playing around with programming on that old Unix behemoth but it does seem strange now that I can think back fondly on that computer but that I never actually saw it.

In my school we have a number of Linux thin client computers which are I suppose the modern GUI equivalent of the old text based dumb terminal. They have no hard disk, floppy drive, cd drive etc. They have no local storage and no moving parts. We have been using the same thin clients for the last six years and the funny thing is they are faster now than when I first installed them. Why are they faster? Because they depend entirely on the server and when we bought a faster server the thin clients all got a speed boost.

Now the same kind of thing is coming to the cloud. Take a look at this one . This is the games equivalent of thin client computing. Their claim is you dont need to buy a high end computer with bags of RAM, top end graphics card, sound card etc. in order to play high end games. Instead the games run on their servers and all that is fed to your computer/device are the sights and sounds of the game. All the number crunching happens on their servers. When they upgrade their machine your device gets the benefit of the upgrade with no need for you to go out and buy the latest and greatest to enjoy the best experience.

Now in my mind if they can do it with high end games, why not do it with the whole operating system. Thin client computing in the cloud where you get a full blown operating system experience that you get with a laptop computer but where everything is happening out there somewhere. There are projects out there that aim to bring access to an operating system through a browser. Here's one for example . But why settle for an operating system in a browser when you could just do it directly to the cloud without the limitations of a browser?

I saw a story today of a university that is moving towards dismantling its computer labs as nearly all their students have their own laptops and can work wherever they have wireless access. Where there is expensive specialist software needed for a course the plan is to have a system in place where students can use the sofware remotely from their laptops. Rather than students installing the software on their laptops they will remotely access a server and run the software there. Going down this road will free up all the space their labs are taking at the moment, will save money as they won't have to buy and maintain the labs and can invest in a more reliable network infrastructure for their students to tap into from their laptops.

I wonder how long it will be till we see the same thing happening in colleges here. How long after that will we be using the same kind of setup in our schools where students will have their mobile device which taps into the cloud. If students all have their own device with internet access etc. will we get to the stage where our schools have no network infrastructure, no servers, no cables, no desktop computers - in short - no network.

A lot of my job entails managing, developing and maintaining the network in my school. I reckon I'm going to be doing the same thing for quite a few years yet but I can see a time when history books will record the odd things schools and businesses used to do where they had these network admin folk whose job it was to wander around keeping things going and the students will be puzzled by this strange practice. It will be up there with the notion of a telephone in a house with a cable coming out the back of it that you couldn't carry around with you. Cut to a classroom of the future - "Joseph, pay attention - sit up straight - now explain to the class what a 'land line' was .......... hmm .. no answer .... Mary tell Joseph, who wasn't listening, what a 'land line' was" - well of course some things never change.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Asus making Phones? - Nokia making laptops?

If ever evidence of convergence was needed it has been cropping up in interesting ways recently.

How about the news that Nokia, the biggest manufacturer of mobile pohones, are thinking of moving into the laptop market -

or the various stories about Asus, primarily a computer manufacturer, showing intentions to have a mobile phone on the market by the end of this year.

What really brought it home for me though is the news that Asus, who led the way in the netbook market, are now looking at releasing a new netbook - not running Windows or Linux but Googles mobile phone operating system, Android. A computer running on a mobile phone operating system - now that is what I call convergence.

What will be the implications for education brought about by this trend? How can we harness the power of the devices that students will be using in their every day lives? Will we continue, as happens in many if not most classrooms, to ban such devices from the classroom? Is there a danger that life at school will become increasingly separated from the real world?

The video below is from 2007 and depicts the opinions of a group of 3rd level students. I wonder are we heading towards the same kind of thing here in Ireland and will younger students at 2nd level start to experience the same kind of digital severance between school life and life outside of school. Perhaps I'm showing my age when I disapprove of students using internet chat during a lecture. Perhaps we need a level of digital severance to preserve the good things in schools.

As with most things I suppose we will need to find a balance between what can be done with mobile internet devices and what has educational value for our students. I think though simply banning such devices as a mere distraction to educational activity will not the way to go.

The amount of change over the last decade in mobile computing and mobile communication is staggering but what I am becoming more aware of is the rate at which this change is happening.

If someone had suggested to me three years ago that I would check my email more often by mobile phone than on a computer, that I would have all my calendar and contact details online rather than on my phone or computer, that my most important documents would be stored online rather than on a desktop computer, that students in my school would spend more time on the internet than watching TV, I would have simply not believed things would change that much that fast.

It leaves me wondering what ICT stuff I will be teaching in three years time and the simple answer is I just don't know. I expect that all other subject teachers in my school will be teaching pretty much the same thing they are teaching now. They may be using more/better ICT tools in their teaching but fundamentally they will do pretty much the same job in the same way. This will be considered normal as the Junior & Leaving Cert. exams won't be all that different either.

At what stage will the way we are doing things simply be the wrong way to educate 21st century learners? I wonder are we there already.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Student Management System - A Better Way?

What we have now at second level

Circa 800 schools running 800 servers. Each school does its September and October returns and sends them in to the department on thousands of discs and associated sheets of papers for processing.

If schools want to provide remote web access to teachers so they can fill in reports or to parents so they can check their child's progress then the school has to pay considerable annual fees to run add-on modules to do this. These web access modules only work properly with Internet Explorer so it is a pretty much Windows only solution.

What we could be doing

A few high spec. servers in a centrally managed location. Teachers, students, parents, admin staff, department officials etc. can log on from any computer with Internet access and get sufficient access rights to do what they need to do. Everything written to open standards so any web browser on any operating system works fine. There would be an annual running cost but it would be considerably lower than what schools are currently paying. The service would be professionally managed and therefore more reliable. Schools wouldn't have to invest time and energy keeping their own systems running. No discs back and forth to the department as they can dip in and get whatever information they need whenever they need it. Each school would still be responsible for inputting data and keeping things up to date but all the technical stuff would be handled by professionals.

The student management part of this is just the first step. Other modules could be developed/integrated to handle an LMS/VLE system. Modules to send SMS messages to parents cheaply. Timetable modules, resource booking/management modules etc. In short everything necessary to help manage and run a school.

I haven't mentioned Primary level schools here as I'm not familiar with their needs. Do Primary schools have a need for a computer based management system or do they have one already?

If such a professionally managed student management system was available tomorrow would your school be interested?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Some Post Conference & Web 2.0 - Creativity Thoughts

Relaxing up in Portrush this week following the hectic time over the last few weeks helping to get things organised for this years conference. Being involved in organising the CESI conference is a joy because of the opportunity it gives to work with a number of selfless, committed and talented educators whose backgrounds and interests are often quite different from my own but who share a basic common belief that this computers in education thing ain't going away any time soon.

My biggest regret about the conference is that I got to attend so little of it. I missed the Keynote from Laurie as I was involved in the registration desk and missed presentations because I was involved in a workshop on Google Apps for Education. Pádraig O' Dubhaigh and I along with Tom Kendall hope to do more on this soon but more on that when it happens. I got to Enda Donlons Wiiremote IWB talk and Paul Munroes talk on Video Essentials. Both were excellent and it makes me wonder what I missed from the 14 talks and 3 workshops I couldn't get to. I think next year we have to look seriously at video recording all the talks and making them available online - would you be willing to record the talks you attend? It only needs half a dozen of us to record the talks we attend to make all of them available to all of us.

It can be hard reading or writing up here sometimes as the view out of my window is 160 degrees of sea. That picture up there shows about 1/3 of the view - off to the right lies the Giants Causeway and on a clear day I can see Scotland. I can spend an hour sitting here and find I have read half a page.

But it's night time now and I have been reading and wandering round the web for much of the day.
  • I listened to the latest Teachnet podcast on Web 2.0 applications with Cliff Brown, Simon Lewis & Joe Molloy as guests and Mick Hallissey in the Chair - . I heard about the podcast through Twitter - I'm not much of a Twitterer but find it interesting and joined up following John Heffernans performance on the Friday Night CESI-Meet, a very enjoyable evening pioneered by Mags and her team.
  • Read through Noel Cunninghams blog at and ordered the latest Ken Robinson book he recommended. Agreed with his views on the value of CESI but then I find I usually agree with pretty much all of what Noel has to say.
  • Played with mind maps using the online mind map application at as demonstrated by Enda Donlon at the Friday night CESI-Meet.
  • Headed off to Classroom 2.0 of which I, and over 18,500 others are members. I intend to join in their meeting tomorrow evening, 5pm our time I think, discussing VoiceThread - details here
  • Somwhere along the line I ended up on Slidshare and listened to Steve Hargadons hour long talk entitled Web 2.0 is the Future of Education - the Slideshare site itself is worth checking out

The thought that kept coming back to me throughout the day was how Web 2.0 facilitates creativity and the collaborative creation of content.

This year in my school we decided to get involved in a course called Digital Creator - more details here . Ciaran McCormack, who presented at the conference on EuroCreator, put me on to this at the tail end of the last academic year and we got a few teachers trained up and rolled the course out to our TY students this year. It is run under the auspices of IADT and like ECDL the course is split up into modules and students can get a certificate on completing sufficient modules. However the similarity to ECDL pretty much ends there. The various modules deal with the creation of digital content (image, audio, video) and the sharing of the content created by a variety of means (web, DVD, CD, mobile device etc.). The course is run through a Moodle and all the course materials and resources are available there. Students save their work and receive feedback/assessment through the Moodle site. There are many things I like about Digital Creator but the fact that the Art, English and Music teachers are now teaching computers in the school along me is pretty near the top. But of course they are not teaching computers they are teaching digital imagery/photography, digital audio/music, media studies/language of film and the creation of multimedia presentations. I know of no other certified course available to 2nd level schools that integrates the use ICT into courses already on the curriculum so completely. With the courses on offer for the Junior and Leaving Certs. teachers will often make use of ICT but high levels of integration of ICT in teaching and learning are very difficult and therefore very rare.

So a long and wandering blog entry reflecting a relaxing day wandering the net but it is becoming more and more clear to me how important Web 2.0 and digital creativity is in my life and in the lives of my students and how disconnected that is from the Junior & Leaving Cert. education experience on offer in our education system at 2nd level. I hope to write in a more focused way on some of these themes in future blog entries.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Sign Of Things To Come

A sign of things to come…..

A wide selection of books & magazines scanned and available to read on googles site. In some cases you only see extracts, in others it will show the complete book or magazine.

Rather than giving you a web version of the content they give you a high resolution image of each page as it appeared in the original book or magazine. Not as pleasant to read as having the book or magazine in hand but cheap and convenient if you are looking for information or just want to browse around.

You can search within the book for particular words and phrases which may be useful for those doing research.

Where they don’t have the book you are looking for they will give you information about the book, where you can buy it online and information to make it easier to search for it in a Library.

They have recently added a version suitable for use on mobile devices like the iphone at - no magazines and a smaller selection of books.

It Starts Here

Inspired by some interesting blogs I have seen and decided to go it a go here. It has been said that everyone has a book in them. It has also been said that that is where it should stay. The same may be true of blogging in that while everyone can do it perhaps it would be better for all if everyone didn’t do it. Which category I fall into…….. time will tell……….