Sunday, March 29, 2009

Learn it, don't laminate it!

So how green are our schools? Are we thinking green at all?

We should make it a rule to ask "Is this green?" Take laminating. What is it we are laminating? Does it need to be covered in plastic so that it lasts forever? I suggest not.

The other trouble with laminating kids work is that it is about "product" rather than "process". While an artefact may be evidence of learning, it is not the learning. Instead of preserving the evidence in plastic it might be better to focus our attention on the learning itself.

Throwaway pens? White board markers? Plastic book covers? Photocopy-able worksheets? Is the learning worth the rubbish?

And what about those fundraising Easter eggs? What are we teaching kids when we ask them to sell this stuff? Not only are they junk food, they also come packaged in more rubbish.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

creativity rocks

From the link on WIRED. Real colour radio? Take a look at the other Kutiman Thru-You clips.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More thoughts on interactive whiteboards

"Interactive whiteboard" is an oxymoron, a bit like "colour radio". There is very little that is interactive about one, all you can really do is sit there and watch while someone (the teacher, the teacher's pet) fiddles with stuff on it, or writes on it, or shows you something. What else does it do? I'd suggest that they are really passive whiteboards rather than interactive. At least with colour radio you have to use your imagination.
(See why interactive whiteboards suck.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

every class should have one (or more)

This is a list of 25 tools every class should have instead of an interactive whiteboard. Think of the learning that might happen with this equipment (and all the fun everyone might have). And it would cost less than an interactive whiteboard (a real one, not a wii remote one.

Class technology list:
several hammers (and nails of all sizes)
an electric screwdriver/drill (with heaps of bits and screws
a jigsaw (plus wood and particle-board off-cuts)
a tenon saw and mitre box
a square
a vice
a plane
a soldering iron
spanner set
class set of craft knives
set of pliers
spirit level
tape measures
sewing machine
pinking shears
oven, microwave
clothes iron
screen printing equipment
tin snips
a potters wheel (and access to an electric kiln)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top ten technologies ever

Some explanation first: technology is any tool that we use to achieve anything. It doesn't need to be a thing, it can be an idea or a concept. It might also be a collection of different tools or a new use for an old tool. If humans do it and other animals don't, then it is probably a technology.

So my top ten are:
fire (includes the fireplace, oven, kiln, furnace)
the wheel (includes all transportation - boats, trains, roads, planes)
the written word (includes the printing press)
agriculture (includes domestication of animals, fishing)
sanitation (includes running water)
the house (shelter)
the village (includes the town, the city)
Notice how the most powerful ones are the most pervasive - and we just take them for granted.

Another ten:
trade (includes money)
the nail (also the screw)
the electric plug
the clock (measuring time)
the compass
the transistor
the telegraph (includes the telephone)
radio (the use of radio waves)

So what have I missed?

Third-world kids don't need laptops, just make sure they have access to the technologies above first.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

more fun with OE-Cake

You can import pictures into OE-Cake and select different attributes for whatever you import. I have erased the background of this photo (found on the Internet) and made it transparent. The file has been saved in a format that supports transparency (.png). All you need to do now is drag the picture into the frame and experiment with different attributes.

I've found that if you want to save the OE-Cake file for later use you need to save it in the same place as the picture file was dragged from (otherwise you lose resolution).

Experimenting with Sumo Man on YouTube.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The trouble with coloured pencils

You might think that coloured pencils would enhance the 35 cent laptop but you'd be wrong. Colour subverts the task. Instead of thinking about content, by using colour we start thinking about design, and only a very limited aspect of design.

Just as beginning writers overestimate the readers desire for "language" when their readers really want information and detail, beginning computer users think that their audience wants design when they really want content. Content has always been king. It is not about the font, the colour, or the layout, it's about the information, the meaning. The message.

So don't give the kids the coloured pencils, get them to focus on the ideas, the content.