Saturday, November 28, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
With Google's 7 second boot and Ubuntu's goal of a 10 second boot in its next release, it looks like speed is going to become on of Linux's hallmarks in the years to come. It may just be the tipping point for an increasingly impatient market.
More on the Chromium OS:
Friday, November 20, 2009
Enter Synote. Synote is a web-based teaching tool that allows one to record video and audio of a class, run it through voice recognition to transcribe the conversations, then make it available for others to play back. Fast forward the video and the transcript fast forwards too. And it's available for full text search too.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Uruguay has joined the small number of nations providing a laptop for every child attending state primary school.
President Tabaré Vázquez presented the final XO model laptops to pupils at a school in Montevideo on 13 October.
Over the last two years 362,000 pupils and 18,000 teachers have been involved in the scheme.
The "Plan Ceibal" (Education Connect) project has allowed many families access to the world of computers and the internet for the first time.
"The latest, and I hope last, of the betas for Mahara 1.2 has just been released. The biggest piece of news regarding this is that Mahara has full LEAP2A support - in particular, you can export your account from one Mahara, and import it again to the same or a different Mahara, and the new account will have all of the data (files, blogs, Views) that the old account had."Simple as this sounds, it's actually a huge enabler for lifelong learning through e-portfolios. Import/export of portfolios enables a youngster to begin building an e-portfolio in an Early Childhood Education centre (with a bit of help), then have that portfolio follow them through primary, intermediate, secondary, tertiary and into the workforce. This process has also been enabled by the Ministry who has had the foresight to use Mahara to power http://myportfolio.school.nz/
It also means that students can move schools and have their portfolios follow them. Above all, it means a much better way to identify new students' strengths and learning needs before they enter an new school.
And of course at the end of the process, they are well set-up to share their achievements with potential employers who will employ them and pay them megabucks.
Well done to everyone in the Mahara community. This is a huge step forward for learning.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The second conference is ULearn, also in Christchurch. I'll post the slides from that presentation soon.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Read the full article here.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
- Open Office
- Planner (Project Management)
- KSeg (Geometry sketchpad)
- Blender 3D
- Alien Arena
- Battle for Wesnoth
- Frets on Fire
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
- Jon Jermey has written a nice little introduction to Linux, aimed at Windows users, and he's made it available for download as an e-book here. It's a really good summary of what Linux is, some of the major distributions available and why one might make the switch to one of them
- Secondly, if you're not aware of it, Ubuntu Linux Live CDs are available here. A live CD lets you run an evaluation version of Linux without making changes to your existing system. These are really cool: pop in the CD, fire it up and have a play around. If you don't like it, eject the CD and it all goes away; if you do like it, double click install and it'll install a copy onto your computer. You can even keep your exisiting operating system (Windows or OSX) so you can choose between it and Linux. (If you don't know what a disk partition is, it might pay to ask someone who does to look over your shoulder while you install it, however.) I wondered why other software companies didn't offer a Live CD option, but then I realised that if MS had done this with Vista, no one would have bought it. Companies like Microsoft can't survive by offering people choice; they can only survive by compelling people to upgrade regularly. The need for cashflow determines the consumer's experience.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We've been thinking about getting iPhones for the Senior Leadership Team for a while but something kept gnawing at me: how could we as an open source school encourage the use of proprietary operating systems on smartphones? Clearly we couldn't, and we decided to put our money where our mouths were: we took possession yesterday of 5 HTC Magic phones running Google's Android OS, which is in turn based on Linux. I took it home last night and spent most of the evening playing with it and I have to say that seeing a Linux-powered phone competing function for function with an iPhone was a great feeling. (My wife has already started referring to herself as an 'Android Widow'.) Have a look at the features. It's a magic little phone.
Monday, August 24, 2009
So now our students play legal, open-source games, and we're going to celebrate the fact on 18th Sept with our very own LAN party.
Interestingly the PIRLS 2006 survey found outside of school on a normal day, 49% of teenagers play computer games for more than 1 hr/day while 66% watch television for more than 1hr/day. Clearly teenagers play games, and clearly we need to accept this fact if we're ever going to be able to harness them for learning. With more and more games and simulations being used to train doctors, pilots, engineers and planners its only a matter of time before the play a key role in education. For some of the best games I've seen in a long time, have a look at Games for Change.
For the record, we have the following games installed on all of our machines:
- Alien Arena
- Battle for Wesnoth
- Frets on Fire
I'm adding them now.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
See the full report here.
Another report caught my eye, this one noting:
- More than 72 percent of those surveyed are either actively evaluating or have already decided to increase their adoption of Linux on the server in 2009, with more than 68 percent making the same claim for the desktop;
- The recession is forcing many IT buyers to re-evaluate purchasing strategies in order to save costs, with open source increasingly getting the nod. IDC found that the recession is driving even more adoption of Linux, and new Forrester data suggests that cost savings will help open source well beyond Linux."
Saturday, April 18, 2009
In a boon to Australian and New Zealand schools considering the Koha open source integrated library management system, CALYX information essentials recently demonstrated the seamless upload of bibliographic records from SCIS to Koha.
...which is preciesly what Mason has just done for us. Great minds think alike I guess. The Calyx site also has a great explanation of why Koha is such a create ILS:
Koha is a full featured integrated library system (ILS). In use worldwide in libraries of all sizes, Koha is a true enterprise-class ILS with comprehensive functionality including basic or advanced options. Koha includes modules for circulation, cataloguing, acquisitions, serials, reserves, patron management, branch relationships, and more. For a comprehensive overview of features visit the Koha feature map.
- Friendly and intuitive web-based catalogue searching
- Accessible from any web enabled computer
- Powerful self-service tools for patrons
- Circulation, borrower and fees management
- Acquisitions, cataloguing, authority control, serials
- Koha 3.0 is OAI-PMH compatible
- FRBR-style results display
- True n-tier architecture
- Granular permissions in the administration module
- Branch flexibility and control
- Easily create records from scratch or download records from free sources
- Customize record types and locations to match your needs
- Web-based search engine integrates with your existing intranet
- Can easily integrate with existing member’s database
- Manage digital objects
- Reading-level, abstracts, thumbnail cover images
- Full utilization of record metadata
- Incorporate digital resources directly into the catalog results
- Integrated federated searches for databases and other external resources
- Library standards compliance (MARC, Z39.50)
- A powerful full-featured search engine
- Scalability from a thousand to tens of millions of records
- Multiple record formats (MARC, XML, etc.)
Friday, April 17, 2009
Some of my other favourite projects are listed below:
However you look at it, these numbers are a ringing endorsement of the open source model. Individuals, groups and organisations contributing a few hours (or dollars) here and there can pull together teams that dwarf most software development companies, simply by harnessing the power of community. But the great thing is that for the end user, it's all free.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
"We wanted to offer our students a wide range of powerful tools without being crippled by excessive software licencing costs. To provide the range of software tools we wanted, we would need to pay several thousand dollars per computer, which would be on top of the purchase price of the hardware. We also value openness, transparency, and the learning community, but compelling potential collaborators to purchase software before they could work with us seemed to run contrary to our values. With proprietary software, information is locked up inside a case (or file format). Others must have the right application in order to unlock that file and decipher the information it contains. It's not open, not transparent and not egalitarian. If the information is contained in a Photoshop document, it costs the other person $1200 for the privilege of unlocking that document and to begin collaborating with me."
The full article is available online here.
My point is that any system of organising things only works if it makes sense to you. Which is where tagging comes in. Using tags is a good way of letting users bring their own method or organisation to a collection of items: they can label things with their own keywords. These keywords can be gathered together across all users and displayed in the form of a cloud.
Our library management system Koha allows patrons to add their own tags to items from either the search results or details page. It's true library 2.0 but it has the benefit of allowing patrons to use a taxonomy or a folksonomy.
So this is GIMP: great App; pity about the name:
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
But which new features deserve to see the light of day? If you swing by http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/ you can see some of these new features and even participate in their development. Community members propose new features and other community member vote them either up or down. Crowdsourcing the selection process means you tap into a committed developer community full of great ideas. And somehow I trust the community to come up with better ideas than a focus group or a group of coders sitting around a table with a kushball. Swing by the brainstorm and vote for a few ideas. You never know- they may turn up in the next release!
Our developer Mason James has just finished a prototype for a 5-star rating system for our Koha installation. At the moment it's only available on the testing site but it's looking really good. Patrons can log in, search for an item, rate it (on the search results or details page) and share those ratings with others.
I'm thinking that if we can get students to log in to rate an item, we're close to getting them to log in and write reviews, renew books, tag items etc. There's also a deeper goal here: if students see other students rating and making reading recommendations, it's the ultimate way to create a culture that promotes literacy and reading.
Edit: this feature is being contributed to Koha 3.2 along with our reading recommendation engine.