Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The virtual classroom

This is a very thought provoking article from today's Dominion Post.  At the very least it tells me that teachers need to adapt to using new technologies in their own practice.  The article starts ...

'Pupils could be downloading their own teacher hologram in the classroom of the future, as technology changes how they learn.'

To read the article in full, click here.

Microsoft Office in the clouds - an option for schools?

This article was published in the New Zealand Herald this morning.  It gives a brief overview of the Office 365 cloud service, a possible option for school ICT software needs. 

In the article you will see a link to a response via a blog from Google; 365 reasons to consider Google Apps. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to come to grips with a difficult child

This article from the New Zealand Herald is a very insightful one; full of good advice about dealing with stroppy, difficult and wilful children.  It starts:

'Trying to get to grips with your stroppy child? Well, rest assured, you're not alone. The No 1 question parenting advocate Ian Grant comes across is: How do you deal with a strong-willed child'

To read the article in full, click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Using a MacBook to increase student engagement and boost college enrolments

I found this article and video on the Apple education website profiles page.  Obviously it's going to paint a positive picture of Apple computers, but the statistics on the graph below that cover the period of time in which the programme has been in place are pretty clear; the implementation of the MacBook for every child programme in Greene County Schools has led to a significant increase in academic performance and college enrolments. 

To see the video and read the article, click here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Google Docs v Apple iWork in the Cloud

Last night I watched the latest Apple Keynote, paying particular interest in the iCloud in relation to the productivity tools: Pages; Number; and Keynote.  I wanted to compare them to the Google Docs equivilents: Document; Presentation; and Spreadsheet.

There is no denying that iWork is superior to Docs in terms of the bells and whistle, the quality of what can be created from a visual perspective.  However, I was disappointed to see that the iWork cloud doesn't make your work everywhere on any device, or even any Apple device.  Accessibility is limited to the Apple devices that are owned by the creator of the documents.  Yon can leave your MacBook at home, but you do need your own iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone or MacBook with you to access work.

With Google Docs work is available on any device with an Internet connection.  Students could be working on the iMac at school, then go to the local library to work on the same document on the old library desktop PC.

Where Apple certainly has the edge is when there is no Internet access.  On an Apple device you can work offline on a document, which will then sync with the cloud when Internet access is available, updating the document on all of your own Apple devices. 

Regarding the latest Apple Keynote, overall I found it fascinating.  Lion, IOS5 and the iCloud look like awesome, game-breaking products!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brain Rule Number 2

I have just finished reading about the second of John Medina's Brain Rules.  These points, from the Brain Rules website, sum up the key points of the chapter.  Points 3 and 4 are of particular relevance to teachers and learners.  These two points are about relationships; how it is important to understand others to get the best out of them.

Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
  1. The brain is a survival organ. It is designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment and to do so in nearly constant motion (to keep you alive long enough to pass your genes on). We were not the strongest on the planet but we developed the strongest brains, the key to our survival.
  2. The strongest brains survive, not the strongest bodies. Our ability to solve problems, learn from mistakes, and create alliances with other people helps us survive. We took over the world by learning to cooperate and forming teams with our neighbors.
  3. Our ability to understand each other is our chief survival tool. Relationships helped us survive in the jungle and are critical to surviving at work and school today.
  4. If someone does not feel safe with a teacher or boss, he or she may not perform as well. If a student feels misunderstood because the teacher cannot connect with the way the student learns, the student may become isolated.
  5. There is no greater anti-brain environment than the classroom and cubicle.
John Medina highlights an example in his book in which the reaction that a flight instructor has to a mistake made by a top student has a very negative impact their relationship.  Had the instructor had a better understanding of the student, his reaction would have been a lot different.  Whilst still providing corrective feedback to the student's error, it would have been done in such a way that the student would have learned from the mistake, as opposed to taking offense from the instructors 'dressing down'.

Brain Rule 2 is about how we have survived as humans due to our ability to understand and get along with each other.  These are certainly skills that are very applicable in any relationship between teachers and students.

Click here for an overview on the survival chapter from the Brain Rules website.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cloud computing - the Google approach and the Apple approach

I am a big fan of cloud computing, and have on many occasions stated that it is the future of ICT in both schools and the wider computing world.  This morning I was sent an article (thank you Rohan) that compares the Google approach to the new apple iCloud approach.  It is definitely worth a read.  Click here to check it out

Monday, June 6, 2011

The consistency of Google Docs

Last week we had a visitor at school taking our students for a digital camera focus (pun not intended) day to introduce them to a range of photography skills.  All of the students involved had a fantastic time; those in my own class gave the day ten out of ten. 

I had the pleasure of sitting next to the photography teacher during morning tea and the conversation pretty quickly moved on to ICT, and eventually which platform was better, PC or Apple.  Our visitor had a strong preference for Apple, with one of the main reasons being that when he goes to an Apple school he knows exactly what he will be getting in terms of what the computers can and can't do; there is a real consistency.

This made me think about the benefits of using Google Docs.  No matter where you are or what platform you are using, the interface and features will be the same. 

Recently I had a Office 2010 installed on my work laptop.  Although I am sure that there are many great features to this programme, it can also be extremely frustrating.  For example, today I was trying to put an arrow on a document.  In the past this has been a very simple process, but today I simply couldn't work out how to do it.  The consistency that I would like to see between the old version of Office and the new version simply isn't always there.

The beauty of Google Docs is that there is only the one version, this being the one that is online in the cloud waiting for more people to be liberated from the constraints of Microsoft Office to sign up to.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Google Generation Classroom

At Lakeview School all of our year 5-8 students are set up with their own Google accounts.  This is our first step towards preparing for the 'Google generation'.  This article, from The Sunday Star Times, has inspired me to lead the school's ICT programme in continuing on the journey to give our students the opportunity to have access to the learning, the learning tools and environment that will prepare them as citizens for the 21st century.

The article begins ...

'In the classrooms of the future, students will use their phone as a computer and instead of raising their hand to ask a question, they'll simply send the teacher a tweet. Imogen Neale reports.
Some schools demand students leave their digital devices at home, but Albany Senior High School, north of Auckland, has taken the opposite approach, BYOD. "That means, Bring Your Own Device," explains deputy principal Mark Osborne.'

 To read the article in full, click here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Using an Ipod Touch to flip the classroom

A few weeks ago I did a post on 'flipping' the classroom. I followed this up by creating and using a blog to share upcoming content for French to flip my own classroom practice.

This You Tube post shares one teacher's experiences flipping his own classroom with the perfoect tool for it; the iPod Touch. Check it out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brain Rule Number 1

I bought the book Brain Rules today. The Amazon reviews are extremely positive and I'm looking forward to reading it.

The thing that caught my eye was the rule about exercise boosting brain power (a drum that I am often beating). This You Tube clip is a link to the book, and briefly explains the connection between exercise and increased brain power. It's a little cheesy, but still worth a look.

Click this link to visit the Brain Rules website for an overview on the exercise chapter. The points in the overview clearly highlight that we can't afford not to have our students exercising regularly as part of the classroom programme.

The importance of self-control

The findings of this article come as no surprise to me.  Here are the first couple of paragraphs:

Teaching self-control to children as young as three can set them up for healthy, wealthy and crime-free lives, researchers have found. 

Physical health, alcohol and drug addictions, personal finances and criminal offending in adulthood can be "significantly predicted" by how a child acts up to 11 years old.

For the full New Zealand Herald article, click here.