Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's conference season

Must be school holidays because it's conference season. First up is the SLANZA conference in Christchurch where I'm presenting with our wonderful librarian Sharon on Koha the open source library management system.

The second conference is ULearn, also in Christchurch. I'll post the slides from that presentation soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Desktop publishing with Scribus

I'm presenting at the SLANZA conference next month on Koha the open source integrated library management system, and so I thought about ways to spread the word among delegates. 'Surely a tastefully designed flyer for the conference pack' I thought. I got in touch with the conference organisers to see if I could slip something in. (One of the problems with open source software is that often there's no one vendor who coordinates things like marketing, so proponents often become sales reps and marketers as well as advocates.) I knew Scribus was pretty good for throwing together professional-looking collateral, so I thought I'd give it a go. I'm no designer so my starting point was where I found a flyer for KDE designed by Flavio Tordini. A quick download and a few changes in Scribus and I had my flyer. If you need to do any desktop publishing (newsletters, magazines, flyers, posters etc.) have a go with Scribus: it's brilliant. The finished result, ready for conference packs:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Open source video sharing site

We care about learning so much that we canceled classes on Wednesdays. Are we crazy? Well maybe, but what if I told you that some of our best learning happens on Wednesdays? At Albany Senior High School, Wednesday is Impact Project day. Students work with a supervising teacher to take an area of passion for them and turn it into learning. It's project-based learning and the 'impact' side of it comes from the requirement that it must make an impact on the community; it must give something back. Students work on everything from forming bands and arranging gigs through to supporting and learning more about local charities. We've also had some students comlete some pretty exciting open source projects. 'Ourtube' is one of the best. The students came to me and asked what the school needed more than anything else. I said "We've got a pretty good setup already, but one thing we're missing is a really nice youtube-style platform for teacher to use to show documentaries and animations to classes." 8 Wednesdays later, the school had a web-based video sharing site offering: uploading and transcoding, tagging, subscriptions, favourites, LDAP integration, comments and messages. All open source and all free of charge. It's built on Plumi, Plone and Flowplayer. In fact, it's so good, we're considering putting it in a data centre so other schools can start to use it.Copyright issues are largely taken care of by an agreement we have with a content provider and by our screenrights licence, but as time goes on, I'd love to get access to more Creative Commons content so that licencing becomes easier.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Move over Silicon Coach; enter Longomatch

I discovered this trawling through the Linux Journal. From the site: "LongoMatch is a sports video analysis tool for coaches and sports scientists, to assist them on making games video analysis. It simplifies video analysis by providing a set of intuitive tools to tag, review and edit the most importants plays of the game. It allows to group plays by categories and adjust the lead and lag time of each play frame by frame through a timeline. It also has support for playlists, an easy way to create presentations with plays from different games and provides a video editor to render new videos with your favorite plays. Even if it is primary focused to sports, LongoMatch can be used for any task that requires tagging and reviewing segments of a video file, and can be applied to fields like cinema, medics or conferences." It's great and is only v0.14.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Moodle and Mahara integration

This is an old post, but it's the first time I've seen a screencast of this feature in action. It's SSO between Moodle and Mahara demonstrating the function of pushing an artefact from the assignment module in Moodle through to the Mahara files area. As I see it, this is fundamental to a useable LMS/e-portfolio system. Good to see it's on its way:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

ASHS in the news

We recently featured in an interesting article in the New Zealand Herald. One quote captures our philosophy more than others: "What we were wanting to do when we were putting the school together was to give the students a broad range of skills and a broad range of tools so they could deepen their understanding of what they were learning and present information in new ways."
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So what software do you use?

We have 100 student desktop computers running Ubuntu 8.10. Each machine has the following software installed:

  • Open Office
  • Freemind
  • Planner (Project Management)
  • Stellarium
  • GBrainy
  • KSeg (Geometry sketchpad)
  • Graphics:
  • Blender 3D
  • Gimp
  • Inkspace
  • Ocular
  • Scribus
Video and Audio:
  • Amarok
  • Audacity
  • Avidemux
  • Recordmydesktop
  • Kdenlive
  • Kino
  • Pitivi
  • LMMS
  • NtEd
  • QSynth
  • VLC
  • Rosegarden
  • Rhythmbox
  • Frescobaldi
  • Gambas
  • Bluefish
  • Eclipse
  • Alien Arena
  • Battle for Wesnoth
  • Flightgear
  • Frets on Fire
  • Nexuiz
  • Torcs
  • Warsow
  • Glest

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Open source digital signage

Today's the day we officially launch our digital signage system. When I say our, I mean the one given to the school by the amazing 16 year old who built it for us out of open source components. It runs on the Xibo open source digital signage system (which only requires an Apache server) and pulls in an RSS feed from our notices forum in Moodle. So if you post a notice to the intranet forum, 5 minutes later, your message is on 42" plasma screens around the school automatically. All the school had to do was buy the hardware and provide a little bit of space on our virtual server to host the system. The design for the background was done by another of our students who is on a work experience placement at a graphic designers. I tell you, these kids are so clever it's humbling.