Google clouds and apps and saving schools !

I am still looking into alternatives to ipads and am thinking about Google. An Ipad in Argentina costs, at the current official exchange rate, up to three times the price of its US equivalent, so other options have to be explored…

Google apps is a good place to start. I like the idea of getting away from a “system” and working towards building a school cloud and this could be a great fast route there. In addition to the apps, and not wanting to be a big advert for Google, the Google in Education site and its associated Google academy, appears to be a support and guidance network I could use.

This has lesson plans, training courses and general advice for the teacher wanting to integrate Google apps into the classroom.

In connection with this, I am trying to read as much as I can on the Google chrome book. Here is a link to a journalist, who has put this to the test:

Finally, I was looking around for 1:1 resources and came across this report on

In short, the clip talks about the revolutionary role that using laptops has made to the motivation and engagement of kids at a failing Middle school in the USA. As well as looking at the practicalities of teaching and learning using Google technology, it also raises important issues about the need for education systems to modernize, the differences in learning styles between today’s students and today’s teachers, moving the classroom in favor of the student and the 21C skill that is multitasking.


The smell of freshly baked book !

Ok, this is a bit of a quiet week. My students are working on practical projects on adobe premiere and drafting their extended essays on googledocs respectively. I have time to catch up on planning and reading for the second part of this term. I thought i was being cunning in asking for pdf versions rather than a hard copy of some of the texts i use. I was wrong. It is a nightmare trying to skim and jump about looking and finding the sections i want to refer to…made me think about books vrs kindles again and the emotional and psychological hold these bits of masticated tree have over us !

A colleague was trying to persuade me that kindles cant replace the smell or feel of books. My counter argument was for him to hold a tiny piece of book cover (gouged from his favorite book) in his hands or on a medallion around his neck whilst reading from his electronic device. This way he could still have the calming experience of caressing paper whilst also touching the digital version.

“But a kindle doesn’t smell like a book !!!” He responded.

To which we then discussed the possibility of buying a kindle with smell dispenser…. or trying to make our millions developing one…only to discover that one already exists. I’snt that always the way ?

Can you suggest any other smells…..?

Here are some other articles and blogs in relation to books, kindles and smells:

I included the clip below, not because it is about technology, but because it has the word “smell” in it.

101 uses for a “dead” tablet…or What to do when your network lets you down !

This speaks for itself really.

Can you add to this ?

Frisbee tournament.
Olympic style tablet-put, discuss-put, javelin-put.
Make a suit out of tablets.
Make a table and chairs out of tablets.
Build houses and “inhabit” them with pencil people (if you still know what a pencil is).
Take all the tablets apart and make one, huge super tablet.
Take all the tablets apart and try to put them back together again.
Take all the tablets apart, put the bits in a bag and then shake, before returning the bag to the IT dept.
Kid size checkers.
Who can build the highest tower ?
House of cards building.
Tablet dominos.
Paint them orange and put them in a bowl and pretend that you have broken into a giant’s house and found his doritos. (Can also do this with Mars bars and other sweets).
Cut eye holes out of the tablets and use them as masks.
Use whiteout to paint on a white “page” and then, when it is dry, hand write your work.
Use paper and string from the Geography dept and fashion a mobile to illustrate the water cycle, which can be then hung from the fan.
Stick the tablets together into the shape of a shark and scare k4 during swimming.
Using science equipment and a microwave, shrink several members of the class and a video camera and get them to remake Tron in full.
Prove that 10 kg of tablets will fall from a window at the same speed as 10kg of student

Literally, getting into a good book

“There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other. With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of compass, a thin red circle in the water.

The shade of red matched the cherry in the empty cocktail glass Gatsby clutched at his side. The smoke from his cigar drifted over the lifeless body of George Wilson in the pool before him. With a hawk and a spit, Gatsby threw his glass into the pool, adjusted his Ray Bans and in a single, fury filled, shake reloaded his pump action shotgun.

He turned his head to the heavens and with a rasping scream howled out his trademark phrase,

“Yippee-ki-yay Wilson, nobody messes with the Gat !”

Ok, so you may have spotted where I tinkered with the ending a little, but in my head, it seems to work a little better. Of course, some of you classicists may choose to disagree, but this is perhaps a sign of my superior 21 Century reading skills and a forlorn epitaph to your slowly dying habit…

I am exaggerating a little. Well, a lot really. I have gradually become accustomed to reading with my kindle instead of with a book and, although it doesn’t feel the same, the experience is slowly losing some of its strangeness and the school library is getting fat on the books I am donating. I agree with the idea that humans want something tangible in their hands; something that doesn’t need charging cleaning, wont be useless if it falls in the bath and, through the years, develops a battered, stained and loved character and personality of its own. However, in the cold light of our brave new world, space, cost, and environment are gathering like bills at the end of the month and practical needs to “go digital” are mounting. Why then am i changing the ending of Gatsby ?

I guess in the same way that there is a difference between having technology as add-on part of teaching and integrating technology fully into teaching, reading can be seen as using technology as a platform or as an active process, with the reader fully integrating themselves into the creative process. I am a fan of the former; of reading the text using the technological platform. However, thanks to a well-informed friend, the tattooed surf genius (TSG), I have started to explore interactive novels, where you can “become” the character, make choices and affect the narrative. I have to admit that i am enjoying it, but i am not sure if I am an unwitting convert to computer gamery or if this is still “reading”…

TSG has been raving about 253 ryman-novel .com an almost cinematic bit of writing where the reader flits from passenger to passenger whilst they journey on an underground train. It is a great example of character building and looking at motivation and context. It is also a great lesson-in-waiting for a grade 9 creative writing class. I have managed to sit through meetings and entire conversations whilst wandering around the underground carriages and exploring alternative endings for the characters I have been inhabiting, but I am not sure to what extent this is “reading” or gaming with a more sophisticated context.

I think that I am still too set in being a passive reader – involved in the text, but quite happy to be pushed and pulled around by the writer. The interactive writing TSG has been pushing my way involves me being a bit more active and less omniscient….and quite frankly, it is a bit exhausting . After the interactive novels, I am finding that I need a bit of a brain rest and some reading to relax…

Here are some really interesting resources to explore with students relating to interactive novels. I have also included a couple of academic papers which look at the differences and similarities between interactive novels and computer games.

Academic papers

We need to encourage kids to put their heads in the clouds and dream

I wanted to share this. Perhaps you have already seen it or at least heard about it. Below is a link to a speech given by the Ted Talk 2013 winner Sugata Mitra, the educational researcher behind the granny cloud and the hole in the wall computer experiments.

I watched it earlier today and was hooked by a lot of the ideas and results of his various educational experiments and the idea that resonated with me the most was the notion of education as ” Not about making learning happen but about letting learning happen.”

Another interesting, 21C learning approach that he highlighted in his talk was was the notion of the Self Organised Learning Environment.A place where teachers are mediators and collaborative learning with technology abounds.

Have a look and then download the SOLE tool kit. Also have a look at the Huffington Post’s SOLE challenge and look at how your kids can attend Ted Youth 2013.

The Mad Professor recommends…

And so, it is the end of another week on the paperless journey !
The Evernote experiment worked well; i manged to convince a herd of post-lunch teenagers to collaborate in groups, simultaneously on documents on my virtual desk.
Also, a number of colleagues have talked to me about trying to work without paper this year…so i am glad that this experiment is catching some interest in my school.
On another note i am trying to work with some hip young gunslingeresses in the History dept on some Edmodo, Skype and podcast based projects….things are definitely getting interesting…

Which links into these fascinating links to new technology in teaching and learning…. Can i ask for a special budgetary request do you think ?

My mad professor friend threw these my way: Ted talks craziness

Google glasses

Mr Murdoch’s tablet is launched !