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Friday, July 28, 2006

When things leap off a page...

Just how cool an idea is this? I know Ian is talking about architecture, but imagine using this idea for any other educational issue?


One in the eye is worth two in the ear

Photo from elmbridgemuseum.org.uk

Today I was handed a fascinating book – ‘Education in Argyll 1872 – 1972’ by Donald MacKechnie, M.A. and James H. Tyre, D.A.

I love reading about how things used to be. It’s fascinating to compare it with now. On pg 115 there is a section entitled ‘AIDS’:

“The blackboard, the oldest and best teaching aid, is still in use but good teachers have always used pictures, models, charts and actual objects. In 1905 at Oban, Rector Beattie was hanging pictures of scenes from Scott’s novels. In 1895 at Cladich School, Rev. Mr Dunsford of St James’s Episcopal Church at Loch Awe, was giving a magic lantern show for pupils. In 1906 at Oban, Mr Galt, Science Master, gave a limelight show on Ice Action to the senior pupils. “One in the eye is worth two in the ear” and Dunoon had a film projector in 1937 and was using radio in 1935. Tarbert School bought a 16 m,m, sound projector in 1948 and borrowed films from the Scottish Educational Film Association (founded in 1930). About the same time, Flora Mackay, Tarbert, founded a branch of the S.E.F.A. in Mid-Argyll. In 1972 some eight schools borrow films from the S.E.F.A. After World War II, the film strip projector became a valuable aid and in 1958 a library of film strips was established at the Education Offices.
The Schools Broadcasting Council was set up in 1930 and nowadays almost every school uses its programmes. In 1958 TV was being used experimentally in Dunoon Grammar School. In 1972 TV is used in 45 schools.
There are no language laboratories in Argyll. The tape recorder in conjunction with film strips is commonly used in language teaching. Duplicators are possessed by most schools and a photocopier service is provided by the Education Offices.”
I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall at the first ‘magic lantern’ show for the pupils in 1895 – imagine the looks on their faces – I bet they thought it truly was magic!

I wonder what a book would say if written in 2072 to recount the last 200 years of education in Argyll. Let’s put this in perspective – we are only 66 years away from this. I wonder if it would still start with the same opening words? It does make me stop and wonder how the last 34 years in education since the publication of this first book have changed the way we teach. “The microcomputer was introduced to all schools in Argyll in the 1980’s”. What about in 2072 – will it say “The interactive whiteboard, the best teaching aid, is still in use…”? How would the advent of the SSDN be recorded? Will there be a day before 2072 when every student has their own portable electronic device? Interesting stuff, eh?

One thing I do hope though – I hope it would still say “…but good teachers have always used pictures, models, charts and actual objects.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dell goes chunky?

This is a subject close to my heart, as I am fascinated by the recent form factor developments. Technology in school has to be affordable, but it also has to be practical. I am convinced that we have seen the last of laptops as the 'device of choice', as the advances in smaller devices such as UMPCs and 3G phones makes me constantly ask the question of 'what exactly do I use a device for' .

I've been using a Samsung Q1 for a while now, and I must say that I think it is brilliant. The only problems seem to be the cost and the battery life.

How pleased I was to read on Miguel Guhlin blog about the development Dell etc have been involved in. He has also podcast about it, but I haven't listened yet. To find out more, click here.

Online tutorials

I seem to spend half my like online trying to find good tutorials for applications. Great to see someone finally putting web2.0 technology to good work on this front - check out http://tutorialism.com/ for more info.

What some teachers get up to in their holidays...

My good friend and colleague Ian Stuart never ceases to amaze me with his antics in education, ICT and design. At the moment, he and his wife Caroline are in Helsinki attending a design conference.

I have had many discussions with Ian about the worth or merit of blogs, and he always proclaims to have far more interest in wikis than blogs, unless blogs are for a specific purpose. So what better purpose than a trip to Helsinki? Find out what he has to say here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fed up waiting

I've treated myself to a new phone which lets you post directly to your blog - just how cool is that? Alan November could be right: perhaps I have bought my last ever laptop...?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Light reading...

Guess I've got a few things to catch up on since I've been away! And to think that's only a week and a half - I'm maybe going to have to re-think this aggregator business...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Play is temporarily suspended...

(today's image originally uploaded by PhotoBlogster)

I'm now on holiday until the 19th July, so making a blog post will be highly unlikely. Please don't kick me out of your aggregator in the meantime! - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Widening the audience, and the importance of ownership

I had lunch today with Liz Kelman, 'Librarian extraordinare' ;-) from my former school of Hermitage Academy. We had a lot to catch up on, as to my shame I haven't seen her for some time.

The biggest topic of our conversation was Information Literacy, as I know it is a subject close to her heart.

For a few months, I have been having email discussions with one of Liz's colleagues, Cheryl Wood in Rothesay Academy. Cheryl too is passionate about info lit, and has managed to convince (if that is the right word) her HT and DHT to use one of the closure days in November for the school collectively to look at information literacy. I am so pleased that they have agreed to do this. It is so important for schools to look at this as a whole, and to see how we approach the subject.

Liz painted a lovely analogy - when at college, she had the chance to study how to teach maths to primary aged pupils. So often in life, we just take things for granted, and never bother to question how we do things. To this end, they learned maths again, this time to a different base. It forced them to reconsider how they did something, or how they knew something.

I have heard too many times teachers tell pupils to "go and find information about..." without being told or taught how to find, validate and process this information. It's like asking someone to drive a car without explaining to them first how to safely move the vehicle and about the highway code.

We have started a wiki about information literacy. You can find it at infoliteracy.wikispaces.com. "Not another wiki!" I can hear people cry, but the reason for this one is all to do with ownership. I know there are plenty of sites and resources out there to help explain info lit, but I think it is important in this journey that we have a sense of ownership in what we do. This is not meant to be 'the definitive site' by any means on info lit, but it is set to define how we in Argyll & Bute can take this huge concept further and make sure that all of our staff understand the enormous importance of this skill that we largely take for granted.

I welcome any contribution to this wiki. Please feel free to comment, alter, suggest or develop it in any way that you as an educator see fit. I haven't phrased this as well as I would hope, so I'm going to come back to this at some point in the future. This is also incidentally, the first time I have blogged from Flock, so it's good to try new things?

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SEO at the click of a (firefox) button

It's not often I blog about something that I find on digg, but this one got the better of me, as it is just so brilliant! (I know I really should have 'dugg' it, but I'm only learning!)

This seems a really powerful tool - I like the idea of finding this info within my browser at the click of a button - imagine discussing what this information means with your class of kids - any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Is twice a month habit-forming?

(or should that be subtitled - 'How to hook people in with a title...')

Took part for the second time in a month on the 'Inside Learning' podcast last night. Asked Nicola in advance of the podcast if she wanted to take part, and she politely informed me that she was "on her holidays from education". You can download the podcast here or subscribe through iTunes.