Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Manaiakalani

In an attempt to encapsulate what Manaiakalani is about I have put together this short video on animoto....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tino pai Google

Google Maori
What a great way to celebrate Maori language week in New Zealand - a Maori language version of the Google search engine.
Until now Tongan has been the only Pasifika language recognised out of the 117 options Google offers. A husband and wife team in Rotorua, Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule have been working with a team of volunteers from around the country to translate the search pages and it was launched this week. For anyone interested in following this venture there is a Google group online.
For international readers, Te Reo Maori is the language of the indigenous people (Tangata Whenua Maori) of Aotearoa New Zealand. I came across the clip below on MaoriTube and it could be a place for you to start - basic counting!
Google Maori will be a great resource for our schools, particularly I would suspect for those schools who do not have access to expertise in Te Reo Maori because of the ethnic make-up of their school community.
I will be very interested to see the creative ways educators will use this in the near future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MobileMe

Mobile technology was all around us in the USA. We really enjoyed the connectivity via our Blackberries and being able to use our address books to phone and text back to NZ without having to worry about putting in country codes etc. It makes life very easy when the technology is smart.
Mobile technology was a major focus at NECC08 with many presentations talking about the time having arrived when we will not be asking our kids to leave their phones at home but instead to bring them to school. And mobile is different from portable. Laptops are portable, but mobile devices are smaller and people have access to them 24/7. This definition is found on the Learning2Go website:

“Mobile Learning is a term used to define the type of learning that takes place when the learner has some kind of mobile handheld computer, such as a PDA, Smartphone, tablet PC, games console or other portable device and can make use of the device, it’s connectivity, tools and content to learn at a time and place of the learners choosing.”

Teachers who are still resisting the integration of ICTs in their classrooms had better brace themselves because the mobile age has arrived. For those who thought managing a few desk top computers in the classroom was a bothersome hassle, the MobileMe classroom will be from another time warp. Some interesting research is being carried out on mobiles in secondary schools this year by Toni Twiss in her eFellowship and will add a very relevant kiwi perspective for local educators.
The release of the new iPhone coincided beautifully with these discussions with it having so many of the features that facilitate this type of learning experience. Sadly we did not come home with one because we were among the many who were not able or willing to be tied into the data plans being offered by the favoured vendors. We have the technology, but are still divided over the access to it.
As you can see
in the clip below it didn't matter where we turned, mobiles were all around us; from the mounted policeman on duty in Cleveland, Ohio, to the man dressed as Santa holding a placard saying "Help Santa return to the Pole. His sleigh is broken." MobileMe is everywhere.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Closing the Gaps

Spending time in North America meeting people and staying with various family members made me very aware of some of the gaps that exist between digital life over there and New Zealand. The stand out would have to be the amazing bandwidth Americans enjoy. Not only is it faster and more accessible, but it is uncapped. When they sign up for a cheap plan they have unlimited access. Even on the other side of the world emails from Telecom were finding me to inform me that "You have used more than 80% of your monthly allowance. Your internet access will shortly be downgraded to dial-up speed." iChat video with the family back home would be out of the question for the rest of the month. At the same time I was reading a blog post by Karen Romeis and appreciated her diagrams recognising that not all of us enjoy a completely Flat Earth.
Another moment of digital envy was captured on my Flip Video (below) when travelling on Air Canada in the cheapest seats in cattle class. Power points in all seats for those of us who want to continue using our laptops as we travel. Come on Air New Zealand - we're worth it!
video
However it is not all bouquets for North American technology. It has puzzled me during several recent visits. Something is very wrong in the construction industry. Every public "bathroom" I have visited in this nation has poorly constructed panelling so that there is always a minimum of a one centimetre gap right around the doors to the cubicles. This means that every woman sitting down can be seen by the other women waiting in the "bathroom" and vice versa. It is at best disconcerting and at worst, creepy. This trip I have taken a series of photos from within and, as can be seen below, one of the photos captures a woman at a handbasin making eye contact with me from within the cubicle! I have begun to ask questions and American woman are unable to explain to me why this shoddy construction is tolerated and my inside source assures me that this is not always the case inside the mens' bathrooms. If anyone could shed light on this I would not be the only one who is most interested!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Defining Silence

I got to visit the Alamo twice while I was in San Antonio. The first time we didn't go inside as the Apple Distinguished Educators group were putting on an Improv stunt outside and we all participated in "ADEs Frozen in Texas". Video of this should be available soon.
We decided to return later in the week to spend time there and have a good look inside. The significance of this site in Texan history was pretty apparent from the sign at the door to the repeated signs inside requesting silence as this is a shrine.
We were rather surprised at how little attention was paid by the many tourists to this request and I couldn't resist pressing the record button on my camera to capture the 'silence' - which you can hear below. It reminded me of an occasion when I overheard a teacher in a library informing the class that this was to be a time of silent reading. This was followed up with the following statement, "This means that your voice shouldn't be heard more than 3 people away". What is the definition of silence in the 21st century? Has it evolved from the dictionary meaning? How many of us can operate effectively anymore in the absence of sound? Perhaps I should be conducting a poll here.

video

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What a Bag!

We arrived in the Ballroom on the second day of NECC08 ready to listen to the next Keynote and found that all the seats were occupied by extremely large carry bags. What on earth were we to do with that?
BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.
We noticed that most were left behind at the end of the session, so we weren't the only ones who weren't keen to add them to our luggage. And the keynote address was excellent!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Roger's sticky theory of learning

We have been at NECC08 for three days and have taken heaps of notes on a Google doc but haven't stopped to post any of it. However we have just been to the most fantastic session and had to write about it for all you Hyperstudio buffs out there. Thanks very much to Luke from Summerland who sent me an email with a tip-off to go to the Hyperstudio booth (the main keynote was about how we should listen to the wisdom of the crowd, but more about that later) and I am glad I followed up on it.
We rolled up at the Hyperstudio booth in the exhibit hall and bumped into Roger Wagner, Himself. Anyone who knows Hyperstudio knows Roger because his name is splashed all over it as the creator of the best piece of multimedia ever. So we grilled him about it before he even had a chance to do his presentation and he very cheerfully answered our questions and gave us a flash drive to take away with a legacy player on it. This player means that all those oldie-but- goodies Hyperstudio stacks kids have made over more than a decade can be opened and played successfully on our newest Macs.
So a few notes about the new Hyperstudio that caught my eye:
It has a shell that feels familiar with cards, buttons, links, layers, animations etc. It looks like you would pick it up like it was yesterday that you last used it. BUT it incorporates the feel we have all become used to in programmes like Keynote with inspectors and tool bars functioning in an 'iLife' kind of way.
A major is that all the drawing functions are there, but enhanced and made easier. Remember creating animations over dozens of cards and exporting them one at a time with a newcard.01 etc naming system? Now it's all done for you. Export the lot at once. A whole period of work done in a flash :)
Photos and other images drag and drop from the desktop, iPhoto, anywhere you have them saved- including straight from a web page.
It totally integrates with iTunes, iPhoto and Quicktime in the way we expect now.
The Mac's built in camera records straight in to Hyperstudio5.
Layers look so simple that I would expect junior kids could pick it fairly quickly.
And the problems with sharing the finished stacks we had in the past are over. Export as pretty much anything you like; Quicktime, iPhone, YouTube, web and even podcasts. We are going to love this.
It even appeared to import Keynote.
And the lasso - do you share memories of the lasso being tricky? It now has a tolerance slider so you can have it cling wrap to whatever degree you select.
Never heard a word about a Windows version.
This report wouldn't be complete without a couple of gems from Roger (no space to tell his stories though!). First, Roger's sticky theory of learning - or why kids should draw and not use clip art. He says you need to spend time in a subject to learn about it, and showed a volcano a kid had drawn as an example. A kid who draws the volcano is going to learn a lot more in the process than a kid who pastes some clip art. He says it is like a dog running through a field of bidibidis; he collects a lot of them in his fur as he runs through.
And at this point he asked me to stand up and tell the crowd about the Pt England culture of banning clip art and helping kids to draw right from when they first start school.
The other Roger quote I noted was about why he always has multiple ways of doing something in Hyperstudio. He says "Intuitive is whatever YOU think it should be" and hopefully we all think differently so there needs to be a variety of options.
There's lots more but the big question was shouted from the crowd, "When are we getting it in our schools!" and he refused to commit and let us down. Soon.....
BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.