Sunday, 31 March 2013

raspberry Pi projects

I have three groups of students working on raspberry pi projects currently, and all the projects have failed... one in one way, but they have a number of specifications that will help the projects of the future.
Minecraft - the students thought this would be teh easiest project, install mine craft and then play on it for 4 weeks... however, they have minecraft running on raspberry pi, with pi-minecraft, however it fails on a lan, slicing the map. I have tried to get the students to look at mods for it, however with limited success.
Digital Signage, we have looked at xibo, and with contacting them on facebook it is a no go at present, this would have been the easiest setup and the students would have been installing it around the school at present. However we have looked at a couple of other systems, one which worked well, however it is just a one screen solution. We need multiple screens controlled by one server. The lastest idea using concerto seems like a likely one. However the students are busy setting up the server, working on these projects for 40 minutes a day isn't long enough, considering when it took 1 hour to install and setup the LAMP.
MAME project, we are currently waiting for the controllers to arrive from china. The students are now testing a variety of games and seeing if they can get the sound working. They are working on their specifications and project documentation at present.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

I’m a horribly inefficient teacher

This blog caught my attention today

I saw it pop up in my twitter and next thing I know I am clicking on the link. This is me, although I have not been teaching 25 years, try 10, it is me, I don't do the same thing year after year, I am changing things, updating my skills, trying new ideas.

One idea is the worm. This came up in a conversation with a group of teachers while on a break during a conference. Getting students to understand databases, what would happen if students could guage there enjoyment in a lesson.

Next thing I am learn jquery mobile, how to create a sliding input bar, submitting the form to itself, updating a database, running jpgraph to create a line graph that updates over time...

Trying it out with students today and getting over 42,000 responses, yes there is a bug in it which allows students to just keep clicking. However, I am interested in what my average factor would be?
The worm, has a slider that students can use to respond about there current engagement level in the class, please note the This is for development purposes only... 

 Using JPgraph to show a minute by minute rating on students engagement levels

also need to include a date filter in it, as well as found out the the server I grabbed the ntp request from was out of time to the other server.

now I wonder what some other teacher learnt today?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Content Management Systems updated

I have been busy trying to get my content management systems unit working and I now have success, though it has involved my web hosting account, sub domains. Which is not the ideal solution as I now have issues with the theme development in silverstripe. However, I am getting the students to create a multipage website in an environment that is foreign to them. They will have to develop the work in silverstripe cms first and then use the same work in another environment, but learn how to remove sidebars.
It will be interesting to see how the students work together to solve this issue as I see that they do struggle with new environments. the learning curve around cms's is huge, with questions of access, databases, server hosting and foreign user accounts, but I hope as the weeks of work develop they will have an appreciation of what it takes to work with a variety of content management systems.

Should schools be using document management systems

As I sit here at the airport I have been thinking.

Should schools be using a document management system. If your school is like mine, all documents sit on a shared network share, here there are files of all types and descriptions. From Policy documents, to student assessment data, photos of teams away at tournaments, faculty documents, it is a mismash of data, trying to find anything is using the windows desktop search box at the top and sometimes that isn't very helpful.

I was introduced to document management systems years ago by my brother who has to manage his business one. With document review, check in and check out of documents it sounded like a pain of a job. But he was able to find documents easy.

So why are schools not using document management systems, it is easy to drag and drop a document into a network share that upload the file. However with modern browsers it is a simple a dragging a document in and providing some metadata about what the document is, why it has been created, and who it is for.

Alfesco document management is open source, this is a win, as previous systems have been costly to implement and setup, yet another reason why schools haven't been willing to set this up. shows a good workflow and the ability for multiple document types to be used, no matter what you create you can easily share it with others even if they don't have that software on their computer.

When we start talking about services under the N4L, the National Network for Learning, should we not be looking at document management. I look at this and start thinking about the sharing nature of resources that can go on. However there is another issue that relates to who owns the work that you create. The Board of Trustees do. This needs to change. Schools need to look at a creative commons policy, that the work that teachers create as part of their work, can be shared.

With the Christchurch earthquake, some schools had issues getting access to servers, files, data. Would this be a way to help disaster recovery. I know that I am now syncing with dropbox some of my files as it gives me access anytime, anywhere, something that our LMS could possibly do with private files, but I like to work within the Explorer/Finder area as it gives me a better sense of file management and information.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Brain overload

3d glasses development - get student to create 3d glasses

Creating a minecraft building as a 15th wonder

Student engagement within a classroom using jquery and mysql and a worm

jquery starter

Friday, 8 March 2013

Digital Media-Content Management Systems

I am busy working on a unit of work that gets students to look at a variety of content management systems. They have to be able to install and configure them, add content and add a variety of extra plugins. Simple as it may sound, you are not one the configuring the server to be able to do what is required.

The three Content Management Systems are:

I know some people are questioning some of the decisions, however, now thinking it silverstripe could make an appearance.
Update:Currently downloading

This is so the students can start working on there assessment for media this year. They have to be able to talk about various Content Management Systems, what the differences are in installing and setting up.

Each one has had it quirks  from magic_quotes_gpc to date time needed and being able to have rewrite module loaded.

Now I have to figure out what folders and the like require www-data access through chown.

I would like to see what the students come up with, however, I am still wondering what content do I get the students to develop, do I use already existing data, or get the students to create new content and issue them a challenge.

One of my biggest issues has been working through various websites to get this going, though I am understanding a bit more around the workings of ubuntu now with the apache2 and how they use the mods-available.

I need to start looking at how big the project will be and whether the server will be able to cope with the projected load. Luckily there are 12 students in the class, though which each of the three install approx 100meg of data will be copied, this is a 1.2Gig project.

Students will have samba access through there accounts to be able to copy and edit files. though I am unsure how I am going to change the permissions of the folders, this may have to be a teachable exercise in which students will need to have ssh access. Students will have phpmyadmin access to be able to develop databases, though they may need three databases to hold the data from each of the cms. I don't really want them to have it all within one database.

I am disappointed, I have had to restart my server and now lose my uptime stats.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

date in mysql

The date format in mysql is a little different,

this comic may help my students

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Form class activities

Will be trying this out on Monday with my form class

Smartphones and tablets are great for all sorts of games, and lately we've been thinking about new ways to play. Chrome Super Sync Sports is a new Chrome Experiment that uses the unique features of mobile devices to create a new gaming experience on big and small screens. In this game up to four friends can compete in running, swimming and cycling on a shared computer screen, using their smartphones or tablets as game controllers. 


To get started, you’ll need a computer and a smartphone or tablet that run a modern browser, like Chrome. on your computer, pick a game and decide if you’re playing solo or with friends. Next, visit in Chrome on your smartphone or tablet and type in the unique code shown on your computer screen. You’ve now “super sync”ed your mobile device with your computer, and you’re ready to race!

Use the arrow pad on your smartphone or tablet to select one of 50 athletes and prepare yourself for the competition. The motions you make on your mobile touchscreen will move your athlete on your computer screen. To move your athlete forward and win the race, you need to make the correct gestures as quickly as possible. The better you are, the higher your chances of making it to the global leaderboard. 

Select your athlete by using the keypad arrows on your mobile  
Race using your smartphone or tablet touchscreen
Up to four friends can play using a shared screen
Chrome Super Sync Sports is available for Chrome v15 and above, and for Android 4.0+ and iOS 4.3+ devices. It uses the latest modern web technologies, including HTML5 features such as WebSockets for real-time gaming synchronicity on desktop and mobile, and Canvas and CSS3 for rich and engaging visuals. For more detailed information on the technologies used, see the “About” page.

On your marks, get set, race for your place on the World Leaderboard!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Information to Parents from school

Every week our school send home an email to parents about there childs performance during that week. The week for us runs Thursday to Thursday. We are required to submit a rating of 1-5. On Friday through the Student Management System an average is created and emailed out.

Weekly notes has been somewhat of a tradition at our school. It is a great form of communication to parents that do not have to wait for a progress report or Parent Teacher Interviews before finding out that their child has not been preforming to their best in class.

I have seen what is sent out to parents a while ago and thought nothing of it. Now, its another story. There have been a few other schools that have picked up the weekly notes, or as they call it the Fortnightly Progress Report. It is laid up professional, has the information required on it and is received as a PDF. It has an explanation of the weekly notes, the teachers name and its purpose.

Ours has the Name, classes and code of the teacher, the average, however it has this statement at the bottom;

All marks are between 1 and 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.

Thats it!? That is all the explanation we are giving. What does a 2, 3, or 4 mean. What is poor?

In the other school this is the explanation that is with the weekly notes;

The Fortnightly Progress Grade assesses a student’s application and effort in the core subjects listed below. It may not accurately reflect their academic progress in each subject.
Year 9 & 10 students will receive a grade from 5 (excellent ) to 1 (unsatisfactory) for the current fortnight.
What we see in a student who gains a 5: Stands out in their effort and application
What we see in a student who gains a 4: Consistently applies themselves and makes a good effort
What we see in a student who gains a 3: Fulfils the basic requirements of learning and behaviour
What we see in a student who gains a 2: Reluctant to make the effort required in class
What we see in a student who gains a 1: No inclination to be involved in learning

I think that we need to look at the information and how it is being presented to parents. We are sending a .rtf document to parents everyweek that is merged from the Student Management System and emailed out. As I have been told the system that we are using was originally written for our school to do this, they were once handwritten.