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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not just a change of name

John Connell and Bob Hill have both already blogged about this, so I may not be first, but thought I'd add my tuppence worth.

John has handed over the Director’s reins of 'Glow' to Marie Dougan of Learning & Teaching Scotland. Many of you will know Maire from her sterling work in Masterclass, but now she is stepping up to lead the development work of the Scottish Schools Digital Network, 'Glow'. John himself is to take up a new role in Learning & Teaching Scotland, as 'Learning Futures Strategist', which sounds like a fabulous job.

The very best of luck to both John and Marie in their new roles.

Show me how to again...

I've blogged about Kathy Sierra before, but today she has a wonderful post about 'why marketing should make user manuals'.

This got me thinking about Glow. Now there is a big budget movie trailer (I don't know the figures, but I'm guessing it cost more than a 'me and my camcorder' production), my next thought is will the 'after sales' be as glossy?

Hopefully all of you know I have a bee in my bonnet about the quality and presentation of training materials. With Glow, I don't think I have too much to worry about. There will be Flash training simulations for how to use the different web parts of the portal. Wouldn't it be great if all companies did that? There are loads of great tutorial sites out there, but very few of them are afiliated to the product companies, and often suffer for it. For example, the brilliant site www.gotoandlearn.com has brilliant online FLV video tutorials for doing lovely things in Flash - because they are brilliant, they are popular - result - too much traffic to the site forcing the host to pull it.

Some companies do get this right - Promethean for example host fabulous online tutorials for their software. Wouldn't it be great if more folk did this?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

News Flash

Today I had an interview for Learning & Teaching Scotland. From the 1st September (date to be confirmed) I am to take up my new role as 'New Technologies for Learning Research Practitioner' working in collaboration with Argyll & Bute. This is to be an 18 month secondment.

It's a very exciting role - I will be working on the creation of a rich internet application that allows teaching staff and learners to create interactive online content, without having to learn the Flash authoring environment. As I have only just been appointed, it will take a bit of time to sink in. Once I get my head around the change, I'll post some more about it.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Finally figured out tagging!

Ok, so I admit it. Without delving into the code, I had wondered how so many people that use blogger were able to 'tag' their posts for Technorati. The lack of tagging was one of the biggest issues for me remaining/leaving blogger as my preferred blogging tool.

I've found a wee tool called Greasemonkey (which I'm sure everyone else knew about! - I'm a slow learner...) that allows you to add tags without having to hand code them.

This is just a wee test to see if it works. Fingers crossed!

Which word processor?

If you haven't read this elsewhere yet, then 'Writely' is now free for everyone. Maybe we can soon see the end of incompatible word processing applications?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Opposable thumbs

Every so often you find something that knocks your socks off. Thanks to Adam for blogging this link.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Glow again

Ok, now that I've got the change of name of my chest, I'm feeling much more positive. Have a look at the official Glow site, and there are a host of new features. In particular, the promotional video material to introduce and explain what Glow will actually be and do. When you see it presented like this, it really is very exciting. A lot of work for everyone involved at all levels, but very exciting. Well done to those involved in the video - it captures what Glow will do well.

So, as a Local Authority, do we re-brand now? We have just undertaken our Mentor selection - they will find out at the beginning of next week. I wonder what other Authorities will do?

There you glow - it's official

I'm sitting here reading the TES Scotland (as you do on a Saturday morning).

Two seemingly unlinked articles grab my attention. Having all been sworn to secrecy for so long, it turns out that the TES Scotland is the first to unveil the new name for the Scottish Schools Digital Network (SSDN) in print - from now on the SSDN will be known as 'Glow'.

Was this the publicity it deserved? The article takes up a tiny corner of page 11, whilst a worrying article on 'the dangers of MySpace' takes up half of the preceding page.

Teacher's should be wary of what they say on social networking sites. There is a lovely wee quote from Derek Allen of the company Sercurus - "My advice to teachers is be extremely careful about who you are talking to and what you are saying" - in my opinion, if teacher's don't know this fundamental rule about online safety, then I am even more troubled by this article. Our kids are flocking to use MySpace and Bebo - we should be asking why, not issuing public health warnings. We should be capitalising on the social networks created in these environments from an education perspective, instead of merely pointing out the negatives. Sure, people have to know the risks, but let's get this in persective. Interesting that there is relatively no mention of how kids are using the site - for example: do you know how fast homework tasks spread across this type of network? I long to read the TES do an article on the positive aspects of social networking?

Back to Glow though. The tiny article quotes a LTS spokesperson who said "Pupils will find Glow easy to spell and remember, while teachers will see it as a pool of resources that will help make lessons more interesting and interactive". Are we still talking about a 'pool or resources'? Teachers are going to be incredibly disappointed if this is the case. The SSDN does not offer resources per se, it offers communication and collaboration tools - if these are the resources to which the LTS spokesperson is referring, then they need to spell it out. Ask any teacher what is meant by resources, and I'm fairly sure they won't say 'tools'.

Glad to hear that Glow is also easy to spell and remember - with my limited knowledge of language, SSDN has fewer letters (owing to the 2 'S's?). Will pupils have to remember it? Why will pupils have to remember it? Will they have to type in a URL to get to it? I understand browsers in school will default to it. Local Authority websites will presumably have a link to it. Here's what you get if you look for Glow - this, or this are the most obvious ones. To top it all off, there is also an IT company Multidmedia with a product called Glow.

Don't get me wrong - I am right behind the concept of a digital network connecting all scottish schools. I can't wait to see how teachers and pupils make use of the collaborative tools, and see learning evolve in so many new ways. This really is an exciting time. It's maybe just a marketers nightmare.

Were these two TES articles related? I think so. We need to learn from the importance of social networking from the likes of MySpace - this is true collaboration and networking. Oddly, one of the things that the SSDN, sorry, Glow, should be seeking to achieve.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Flash Guitar?

A fabulous example of Flash and guitar - now, if only we were seriously teaching Flash animation to our students... what would they come up with I wonder?

If you check out the creator of this site Mika Tyyska, he has another great site for storytelling in education. Wow!

Welcome back to school!

To all those of you out there that read this from school, welcome back! I hope you had a good summer holiday, and that your batteries are well and tuly recharged for the session ahead of us.

Remember when getting ready for school meant getting a new pencil case? Well, according to this story, for some of our students, times have changed..

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wouldn't it be great if...

...my feed reader learned from my reading habits?

Let's face it: information overload is here. It's now easier than ever to subscribe to far too many sources of information and get bogged down in the process of 'sifting' to find what interests you. So, wouldn't it be great if my aggregator learned from what I clicked on? According to Alexandru, it now can. Check out myFeedz for more info. I've only had a quick look at it, but it seems like a great idea?

Monday, August 14, 2006

4 days without email

Seems as though my employer has a 'problem' with email, as I haven't been able to get access since Thursday. If anyone is trying to get hold of me, my other contact details on my homepage.

UPDATE: All is now well apparently. Half the problem with being an 'education user' is that during the school hols there are very few people to complain if the email service goes down!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It didn't take long...

From reading this, it didn't take Blackboard long to start making use of their US patent. How long do you think it'll be before there is only one horse in town?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Branching out

I have appeared as a guest a few times now on the Inside Learning podcast. After a discussion yesterday with one of the hosts, Matthew Boyle, it seems as though he and Steve are planning to expand the enterprise. Over the next few weeks, a second and third strand will be added to the site - 'Inside Learning: Psychology', and 'Inside Learning: Technology'. I've been asked to act as 'host' for the 'Inside Learning: Technology' podcast, so watch this space (and obviously the Inside Learning site!) for more news. The first episode should air around the beginning of September.

Quite a troubling thought really, as beyond being a guest, I haven't made many forrays into the world of podcasting. Apparently folk south of the border like my Scottish accent!?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Straight 1's

Can't resist mentioning this, as it is such a wonderful story. Any doubts about blogging impacting on learning and final grades? Find out more after the jump.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Flash!

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Flash - in my mind the most adaptable, innovative web design program there is. Bearing in mind we only celebrated the 15th anniversary of Tim Berners Lee's 'www' a few days ago, it makes you realise just how far we have come so quickly!

When you look at what flash can do at the moment, from simple animation to complex rich internet applications, I for one can't wait to see what happens over the next 10 years!

To take part in an online survey to find the most influential site of Flash's 10 year history, click here.

To see how Flash has developed over 10 years, click here.

Your very own desktop, anywhere

A while ago, David Lines posted about trying to replace all of his current computer applications with free online services. Today I stumbled across 'Desktoptwo' that provides access to your very own Flash based desktop from any networked browser. It has 1GB of free storage, runs IM, email, blog, web site editing and open office applications. Aside from being a very, very cool example of the potential of Flash, this really is a great usable online application.

Defining Moment in history?

Have Apple finally managed it? Judging from this post after the news of yesterday's WWDC unveiling of the Mac Pro as the long awaited replacement of the G5 tower, the gap between the price and functionality of a Mac desktop and PC desktop has finally flipped on it's head (or possibly narrowed, depending upon your product configuration!)

In my mind, this does raise some very interesting points:

  • Leopard (OS X 10.5) will be released before Windows Vista
  • Apple machines can run 'Boot Camp' allowing you to boot up in Mac OS, Windows or Linux
  • Apple certainly design more visually pleasing 'objects' (although to be fair there is very little difference visually between the Mac Pro silver tower and a silver Dell tower - they are both after all big silver boxes?)
  • Fewer viruses are being written for Apple
  • An Apple machine only has one mouse button though, but you can of course use the 'mighty mouse' that has 2?
  • An Apple machine comes automatically with the iLife suite, which does pretty much all you'd be looking for (except Media Centre?) in a home PC?
  • Macintosh gamma is a truer reflection of colour than that automatically represented on a PC

Interesting times... maybe Apple's 2-3% of the world market share could increase significantly...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Change of direction...

For those of you that don't read Alan November's blog, (which you really should!) he has recently changed the way he uses it.

Previously, Alan posed questions on his blog, inviting answers from readers in the form of comments, or posed questions as a source of professional reflection.

Today I notice that Alan has started to provide some reading lists and instructions - instructions for Skype, Del.icio.us and Bloglines and a reading list for leaders looking to become 'change agents' in their schools.

Most interesting to me however was the list of questions any leader should be asking as they walk around and survey their school.

Interesting way to use a blog?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Time to change browser...

This is strictly one for the techies out there...

It turns out IE7 is to be deployed by automatic updates - bearing in mind how well it works at the moment, if you haven't changed browser already, now is certainly the time to do so...

For those of you responsible for machines in your establishments, IE7 looks quite different to IE6, so get a look at it now. It will be downloaded automatically at the beginning of quarter 4 in 2006, so get ready.

Now, how many sets of support notes have I made that have IE6 screenshots?...

The land of the free?

You've got to hand it to America. I subscribe to a number of blogs from across the pond, and read with interest developments in education in America. Of late, two issues have caught my attention:

1. DOPA - in the US Senate they have been debating an act to 'Delete online predators' - the basic result being that any social networking site in which users have a personal profile will be deemed illegal.
2. Blackboards Patent - recently, the US Patent office granted a patent to Blackboard giving them the 'right' to patent the LMS (Learning Management System).

Both of these really have quite huge ramifications. On the one hand, you have forward thinking social sites that will be off limits to those in the USA, and on the other hand you have any LMS that isn't 'Blackboard' potentially being sued for breach of patent.

Fortunately in the UK or patent laws don't operate in the same way, and neither do our elected representatives. But it does make you stop and wonder - we follow America in so many ways (dont get me started on this one), so what will this eventually mean for us in the UK? The biggest benefit of using technology is the breaking down of international barriers, so both of these issues I find deeply worrying. What is the logical conclusion to this? - the rest of the world moves on whilst the USA sits out? Other countries follow the USA's lead and adopt similar strategies?

Will Richardson posted that he is convinced that we in education need to speak outside of our comfort zone, and need to start using methods of communciation that we may have given up on. For what it's worth, I think he is right. There is no point in preaching about web-literacy online, when those that need to get your message aren't reading it. What we really need is those at the highest level of decision making understanding why we should not simply 'ban' something, but rather start educating how to use things safely.

So much has been written about DOPA, I'll not bother linking here (except this one, just because it's funny).

If you want to find out more about Blackboard's patent, from the horses mouth:


Or to read some discussion on this topic: