Posted on 13-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

qx5 digital microscpopeWe have recently bought a few of these QX5 digital blue microscope devices for use in our second level science labs.  They are microscopes that allow the magnifyed image to be displayed on a computer screen – and further projected onto a screen.  They also also allow video of the sample to be made.  They’re great. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 13-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

Mimio is due in the next few weeks to release a new version of its studio software. This is the software used by its popular interactive whiteboard devices. 

These devices are attached to the side of a conventional whiteboards and may be connected to a computer either wirelessly or via a USB cable.  Due to their size they are often called portable interactive whiteboards.  They generally cost about a third of the cost of a traditional ‘fixed’ interactive whiteboards; however with these devices it is not a case of ’you get what you pay for’.  My experience is that you get hardware that performs to comparable standard to the more expensive boards in every regard.  I have already posted previously on how good these types of devices are.

The studio software is used both to record whiteboard markers detected with the Mimio device and when a pen is used as a mouse on a projected computer screen.  I was disapproving of Mimio’s current studio software, and have been given a preview of the latest beta version of studio, due for release in July 08, and it is a significant advancement from the last release. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 11-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

This evaluation as undertaken as we are currently looking to increase the ICT capabilities in our school.  Presently we have one interactive whiteboard (IWB).  This Hitachi Cambridge starboard receives good use in Learning Support, but it is not available to the other teachers.  In an effort to get similar devices into mainstream classrooms, we have recently built some wiimote whiteboards following the instructions of Johhny Chung Lee.  These worked; but the resolution and reliability were not sufficient to allow us to use them widely in our classrooms.  We also found it difficult to find good software.  It did suggest to us that there must be a commercially available product that would suit our needs costing in between the 2500 euro IWB and the 40 euro wiimote solution.

 

The ebeam and Mimio interactive whiteboard systems may be suitable products.  These are different to the typical IWB consist of a detector – linked to a PC – that is stuck onto a conventional whiteboard and an electronic pen.  The pen can be used with a projected image of the computer screen as a mouse.  An electronic sleeve that can be detected may also be used with a normal whiteboard marker to locate and record writing on the whiteboard.

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Posted on 05-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching) by gashed

The Computer Eduction Society of Ireland is a society of educational professionals looking to promote the sound practical use of ICT in the classroom.  It now has a great active mailing list that is well worth signing up to.

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Posted on 22-02-2008
Filed Under (teaching) by gashed

www.zulunotes.com is a wiki established to allow students to collaboratively establish an online resource for all leaving cert subjects. 

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Posted on 09-02-2008
Filed Under (Creativity, teaching) by gashed

Returning to the purpose of education, what does our heirarchy of subjects say about why we school in the way we do.  The compulsary subjects of maths, science and english are placed above the humanity subjects, who are in turn seen as more worthy than the arts.  Whose subjects are thought so lowly of that, even in our education system, we don’t assess them.  Their is no Junior Cert in dance and movement.

 This choice of subjects arises from the interpreted needs of the world of work.  Schooling seems to have a narrow focus on preparing students to get employed.  This extends to the students and their families pick of subjects, where choice exsists.  You could agrue that the arrangement of the control structures in schools is to replicate the world of work as well.  I always find it amazing that we can have such faith in our capacity to predict the future that we will guide our children away from areas that they enjoy, and areas where they may excel, because we know where they will get employment in a decades time.  It is ridiculous and arrogant to think that we can forecast anything about the world in 10 years time.  The only thing that we can say about the future is that the children will need to have the capacity to learn and be creative.

The heirarchy of subjects seems to arise from our traditional view of intelligence.  School sometimes seems to be a protracted process for university enterance.  We seem happy to force children along a path towards university or the virtual world of work we invisage.  We ignore the vast diversity in childrens’ intellegences, interests, skills, loves etc. and corral them along this path.  If they don’t follow they are rendered failures.  This results in a waste of human potential and, critically, a lack of diveristy.  Diversity is strength; homogeneous opinions, skills and interests are inherently weak.  Lack of diversity removes the capacity for an interaction between people from which so much creative ideas emerge.  With so many problems in the world requiring creative solutions, we seem content to ignore talents that may allow us to build a society that may solve these difficulties.   More diverse and creative people will also result in a tolerent, less dogmatic society.

Apologies for the spelling. 

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Posted on 09-02-2008
Filed Under (teaching) by gashed

TED have posted a talk by Bill Strickland entitled ‘Rebuilding America, one show at a time’.  He rejuvenated an innercity area of Pittsburgh with a high crime rate and endemic racism.  He did so by giving people a vocational high school in a wonderful building; he gave people time, hope, respect and a fountain.  Well worth listening to his story.

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Posted on 08-02-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

Damien wrote over on www.mulley.net about Mary Hanafin’s launching of a new Internet safety programme for kids, parents and teachers.  As often I find with this Minister, it is a good idea, but an isolated effort and it is unclear whether there is an overall philosophy or coherent plan behind it all.  At least this inititative seems to focused on helping teachers to help students understand their actions online and make good decisions.

I attended a NCTE Bebo bullying course last week; it was a fair introduction to those who had no experience of social networking and explained well the anatomy of a BeBo page.  But what was more interesting was the tremendous gulf between the teachers’ environments and the world the students communicate in. 

Technology training for teachers is a good idea, but unless it is part of an overall policy of closing the expanding gulf between the students world and the backward world of the school, it is doomed to failure.  I reckon anyway.

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Posted on 07-02-2008
Filed Under (Miscellaneous, teaching) by gashed

What is the purpose of education?  In Ireland, as elsewhere, often discussed is the methods or techniques of schooling, how best to engineer learning in the classroom.  Less reflected on is the function of the education system, why do we persist with compulsory schooling Ireland, to what end does it serve.  What is the philosophy that determines the subjects and cirrula that are taught.

 In 1878, W. Nielson Hancock saw a role for compulsory education in reducing the levels of crime in the country.  Nowadays I’m not sure what the philosphy of those guiding the Irish system is.  It seems that they strongly link education with economic productivity.  Often I see them viewing the primary role of education system as serving the business interests of the country.  The funding for various initiatives and subjects offered at second level seems to depend on whether they are closely aligned with the economic interests of the country.  The educational system is viewed as a vocational training ground.  Much of the credit for the recent upturn in the Irish economy has been traced back to the free second level education and travel brought in by Donough O’Malley in 1968.  The link between education and economic productivity however is weak.  Ironically though the creative, entropronarial and learning skills required by those in businesses are neglected. 

Perhaps one purpose, or a goal of education, should be to educate children to be custodians of the planet and global citizens.  We should understand that memorising a body of facts in today’s connected world is not useful.  Students should understand that our fate is closely linked to all others. In this context squabbles with neighbours or racist tendencies are self-evidently defeating.

I dunno, what is the purpose of education?

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Posted on 07-02-2008
Filed Under (Mobile technology, teaching, Technology) by gashed

I have just purchased one of these from ebay.ie . There are very cheap and handy.  They are capable of recording 30 minutes of video (1GB version) and couldn’t be easier to use.  You point and press the big red button!  Each time you stop and restart a new clip is formed.  It has a x2 digital zoom if you wish to get closer.  It is exceptionally light and about the size of a pocket camera.

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The best thing about this is how easy it is to download to your PC – there is a pop out USB connection that acts as a memory stick with video clips on it.  There is software bundled with it, but I’ve never used it.  The clip can be played through media player on a PC or brought into movie maker.

Very handy in the classroom for taking videos of experiments, kids presentations or for the kids to go out there and record the world.

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