To Bebo or not to Bebo?

Over the last few days I have been doing a little research on how familiar the kids here are with some of the web2.0 sites including bebo. (Felt a little like playing with Pandora’s box!) Hardly any of our kids had come across bebo, none flickr, no one could tell me what a wiki was (although some wondered if it was related to hickies). I did find this encouraging in some measure. Today I took the brave step of showing the kids bebo, and using the site as an aide to discus online safety (S4 5 and 6 pupils). I think the message got there for most. I took one individual from the bebo home page, and using only directory enquiries and was able to tell the kids her parents name, what they did for a living, her home phone number, and a map of her house. She also very kindly included a picture of herself to complete the package. You could see the shock on their faces. I just hope that the message sinks in, and that when they do (as they will) start to explore web 2.0 they do so forewarned about the risks of including too much personal info. The young lady on bebo – all she gave was her surname and her town.  That was all it took.


Today is the first day of PICTAL 2006.  Aberdeen Universities Online Learning & Tutoring Conference.  

When I first signed up I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but am delighted to see that web2.0 is going to make at least one appearance. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme from the Institute of Educational Technology (The Open University) will be delivering a keynote on Blending Online and Mobile Learning.  It looks like she will deal with issues relating to the hardware, but also some of the web2.0 issues we have been looking at on the master class course.  

It is also interesting to see that Aberdeen university are hosting the conference using moodle!  

Can I cope with all this inspiration? 

Alan November and Stephen Heppel

There guys are two people who have inspired me a great deal over the last few years.  It therefore seemed the sensibel thing to do to subscribe to both their blogs when I set up an account with blogline.  I was surprised to see just how differently each was using their blogs.  Stephen was using it in perhaps the mode I was expecting.  Using the blog as a means of sharing his ideas.  This was the very reason that I subcribed to it.  Alan on the otherhand, apears to be using it to post one line questions, almost as a way of getting the feel for what was happening in the classroom.  This was an approach that I wasnt expecting, but can see the merit of such a use.  It has caused me to reflect on how I too could use a blog where the primary post is a question rather than a reflection (I guess this works well for someone as well knows as Alan November, but what about me… does anyone actualy bother to read my stuff?  Would the small group of people who perhaps do read it provide a wide enough cross section to allow me to see all sides of an argument… does it matter?)


Perhaps I too should pose a question then, and see what happens.


“To block bibo in schools or not block bibo?  That is the Question”

Flogging the Tinkey Winkeys

Not wanting my wife to be left out of all the excitement down here in Stirling, I sent her the links to my Blog, and my Wiki.  After hearing about the Scottish executive arranging to have Clackmanan being towed on mass down to Udingston for a jolly as part of  SSDN (apparently funded by the sale of CDI servers on eBay) I went to my room and gave her a ring on the phone.  When she started talking about flogging my Tinkey Winkeys I began wondering if I had unwittingly broken my life long abstinence from alcohol.  Had it been more than just talk about cheeky vimto? I should have at least been impressed that she had taken the time to look at my efforts from the holiday camp that the rest of the school think I am on.  It brought home the reality of the magnitude of the challenge in communicating this stuff to our colleagues back in the real world of endless “please takes”, sphincter like web security blocking anything remotely innovative, and the pressure of this time of the year.
The Scottish Hierarchy of Internet Technologies for Education
The SSDN is a bit like a dodgy curry the morning after.  You know its coming, but you are not quite sure what to expect.  You hope it is going to be cathartic, but recognise that in the short term it might hurt a little.  IT doesn’t help when it is pointed out that the codename for SSDN is “Scoosh”.  Apparently it was going to be that or “yo-yo”, which would have been great except for the inevitable jokes about it being up one minute and down the next. (It was worded slightly differently last night)
“It was contact lenses that Killed by first Marriage”
I was glad to find a masterclass soul-mate tonight.   Being surrounded by so many people who have gained the professional recognition of being seconded was a humbling experience.  If may even have become too much for me if it wasn’t for my masterclass soul-mate being on hand to reassure me that there were small groups of people still out there, struggling against the odds with the Bolshevik Youth of 21st Century Scotland.  I also never realised just how much I was missing by having perfect eye sight.  My wife informs me that it is impossible for me to experience one of the great joys in life – Childbirth.  After tonight, I will be making a visit to optical express (or Costco), buying a pair of contact lenses, and seeking to get one stuck (Where and how, I am not quite sure, but apparently it is as painful as childbirth). Given that coloured contacts are becoming more popular, I thought I could also get a pair of big yellow cats eye contact lenses.  I think that these would have a valuable place in class room management for those occasions when you just want the kids do something… and be very, very afraid of what might happen if they don’t.

Vlodcasting for Beginners
There really is so much potential for all this web 2.0 stuff.  I have been checking out as much as I can in every spare moment, and the latest area has been “RSS feed readers”.  I set up bloglines, and found this obscure police news feed about cases that were never solved.  I suppose the equivalent of The US Cold Case files.  My eye was caught by one case from 1997 where the main evidence had been a set of smoking shoes left high on a window ledge.  Modern techniques now meant that it was possible to extract DNA from the shoes.  What’s more, the DNA found had been traced to a small pocket of inbreeding in the south east Glasgow area.  Some reports had even suggested that it had been narrowed down to an area within Clarkston.  Coincidentally, Government agents researching the effects of hot vimto and tobacco on locals youths are reported to have gone missing in the same part of Clarkston.  The only other evidence relating to the shoes was a small fire which was believed to have been caused by mechanical shoe shine device.  A search was conducted during the night, but the only suspects failed to report at the fire assembly point, and were assumed to have fled the scene.  Forensic investigators also found traces of red toe-nail polish on the shoe shine brushes, suggesting that one of the suspects may have been leading a double life.  I sizeable reward has been offered by someone who wished only to be identified as “George”.  Anyone with information should contact their local police station, or LTScotland.
Bicycle polo and very small packages
I have to confess that I hadn’t realised the comment was in relation to Sky subscriptions.  I had somehow missed a few connections, and still thought we were talking about Alans bicycle polo injuries.  I am a little suspicious however to hear of a LTS related trip to New Orleans in the recent past.  While randomly searching the web, I discovered a strong underground unicycle polo club operating in New Orleans.  As a keen unicyclist, I am all too familiar with the injuries associated with unicycles, and when combined with those associated with polo, some of the symptoms displayed by Alan can only be put down to his real passion – hidden for so long.  All those times he said he was watching East Enders! 
Anyway.  Enough is enough.  Its time to go and dream of Delia Smith, grilled Halloumi cheese, and sweet chilli sauce… before a night mare about adopting an Inuit child, and a premature retirement. (Must go and add “North” to my blockbuster wishlist)

Order from the Chaos

It has been an awesome few days, but my head is minced!  I need to take some time, and try and bring a little order to the web2.0 chaos that is swirling between my ears!  I would welcome your thoughts on this… if you can help me find order please do, either here or on the wiki I have set up firstly as a record of my own thoughts on this whole area, but hopefully also be of use when I get back to my school and region in helping share the awesome potential of all this stuff!

PowerPointless or PowerFull

I once heard it said that powerpoint had become powerpointless in many classrooms.  I have to confess that I too was getting a bit bored of it all, and was thinking surely it can do more for me in the class.  Then I discovered custom animation and VBA for powerpoint!  It has opened a whole new world of possibilities.


Imagine powerpoint reading to a student with learning challenges, the text on a powerpoint slide.  Imagine powerpoint asking the student their name?  Imagine powerpoint writing a file on your computer keeping a record of what kids have snwered in a powerpoint quiz!  All is possible!