ETRU logo

EdTechRoundUp Hanging Out Again

Do you remember ETRU? It was a weekly podcast I co-hosted with Doug Belshaw and others. We *ceased trading* two years ago because the conversations had, at that point, run dry.

ETRU logo

But it’s back! Should you want to get involved in this community (on Google Plus) then please do request an invite. The conversation is all about education technology and the usual suspects participants are UK educators (teachers of all sectors and independent consultants). We have met twice so far, the output of which is stored on YouTube.

First introductory meeting (20/10/13):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekFjkCXA8s0

And yesterday (02/11/13) to discuss the transition of ICT to Computing in the UK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyoq6H0YWMk

The agenda is driven by those that attend. Anyone is welcome to contribute or just watch/listen to the conversation. Google Hangouts are limited to 15 participants, so first come is first served. For me, the reason I do this is so I know I have somewhere I can ask questions, reflect on practice, hear other peoples thoughts and learn from their experience. The people who attend are all tweeters and all lovely people. Bonza! What’s not to like?

Leap Motion in Motion in School

Following a hurried license agreement addendum with the Leap Motion team, we were able to use the Leap Motion on the school network at the school’s annual open evening last night. This created a problem because we were only able to install the software at the last minute. So, how did it go?

Leap Motion does not play well with proxy servers. This caused a problem because the software installed fine but when you wanted to play the majority of apps from their AirSpace app store, they need to be able to connect to the internet and the proxy prevents this from  happening. In the end, we were only able to get the visualisation/orientation app working and Touchless for Windows. Visitors, young and old, and pupils, were compelled to have a go at controlling the PC using their waving hands. We set up a pupil machine with a display splitter so it displayed on the projector.

If you’re planning on having a go, I recommend setting it up on an admin access machine and using a non-school internet connection. It simply doesn’t play nicely on the network – or at least, not on our network. Leap Motion is a great piece of kit. HP have even made a laptop with it built in. But, a bit like voice control as an input device, you need to take time to learn how to use it well. I cannot foresee a context in which I will *want* to use it as a means of controlling my computer. But it does provide an excellent bit of kit to stimulate debate and thought about the appropriate selection of input devices. Also, the imaging and tracking of your hands onto the screen helps demonstrate the speed at which a computer can process data. Shame we cannot put Cut The Rope through its paces…

A Nice Gesture from Leap Motion

My school is hosting it’s annual open evening on Thursday. Last week I acquired a Leap Motion gesture sensor (3D motion control micro-sensor to be exact). It’s a very cool device that follows your fingers. This allows apps to be created that respond to hand and finger gestures. Leap Motion installs Air Space on your machine from which you can install lots of apps that developers have been building for all sorts of things from the popular game Cut The Rope to controlling your OS (Mac or Win). But when I asked for the drivers to be installed at school, we hit a problem. The licensing seems a little self-contradictory in places and the upshot was we could not install it. The following text is extracted from their EULA (highlighted by us):

You must create or have a Leap Motion Account in order to use the Airspace Store. You must keep your Leap Motion Account details secure and must not share them with anyone else.

If the Application does not include a Publisher EULA that specifies Application license rights, then following payment of the applicable fees for an Application, Publisher grants you the non-exclusive right, for the period selected by you in the case of a purchase for a rental period, and in other cases for as long as Leap Motion and the Publisher have rights to provide you that Application, to download or stream, in each case, solely as expressly permitted by Leap Motion via the Airspace Store and subject to the restrictions set forth in these Terms , copies of the applicable Application to your computer, and to view, use, and display the Application on your computer or as otherwise authorized by Leap Motion for your personal, non-commercial use only.

No Public Performance. You agree not to display content contained in Applications in whole or in part as part of any public performance or display even if no fee is charged (except where such use would not constitute a copyright infringement). Use of a tool or feature provided as an authorized part of the Airspace Store is permitted, provided that as you use the tool or feature as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

Sale, Distribution or Assignment to Third Parties.You may not sell, rent, lease, redistribute, broadcast, transmit, communicate, modify, sublicense or transfer or assign your rights to Applications to any third party without authorization, including with regard to any downloads of Applications that you may obtain through the Airspace Store.

So if purchased on a non-school account this would constitute redistribution to a 3rd party

Sharing.You may not use Applications as part of any service for sharing, lending or multi-person use, or for the purpose of any other institution, except as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

This is a problem in a networked multi-user environment

We were allowed to install the drivers but not any of the apps, which makes it all a bit anticlimactic. So, with five days to go until D-Day, I assembled this text in a google doc and sent it to them on twitter as well as emailing them through their website support service. Nil response. So 24 hours later, I tweeted them again stating my deadline in the tweet. Here’s a storify of the convo if you’re interested:


The result is a simple addendum to the EULA sent as an email attachment with a request to fill in the details of my school and return for them to sign and return to us. The list of apps we are allowed to use are:

  1. Touchless for Windows
  2. Touchless for Mac
  3. Flocking
  4. Lotus
  5. Kyoto
  6. Block 54

I do not have permission to share the addendum here. To summarise, it states an agreement to use the Leap Motion device and associated software in a multi-user school environment with only the above apps. #forthewin

Many thanks to the support of @PatParslow, @DannyNic, @DigitalMaverick and @SimFin. I like to think those few retweets helped motivate the @LeapMotion support team into action at what is a very busy time in their development. And thanks, of course, to the Leap Motion team for being flexible, responsive and helping us secure legit usage at school and making such a great piece of kit! I’ll write a review of the device itself when I have had spent some more time using it.

Tom Sherrington: This is how I work

I am Tom Sherrington and this is how I work

Twitter: @headguruteacher

Current job: Head of King Edward VI Grammar School

Been a teacher since: 1987

Location:  Live in London, Work in Chelmsford

Current mobile device:  Blackberry Bold 9900

Current computer: iMac (11,3)

School-issued devices: ipad

One word that best describes how you work: Continuously

How do you manage your calendar/diary?

I use Outlook on my school pc and ipad. I love the way the ipad is always updated without any physical connection or sync operation.   I’ve stopped syncing to my Blackberry because of the wires…

How do you manage your lesson planning?

In my head: I organise resources and talk to technicians but never write down a lesson plan.  I wouldn’t suggest this is a good plan but it’s how I work.  I only teach four hours a week.

How do you manage your marking?  

In fairly large bursts after periods of extensive peer and self-marking.  I focus on set-piece assessments and tests with most other work marked in class and lots of oral feedback.  I follow my own advice as presented here: http://headguruteacher.com/2012/06/17/264/

What’s your best tip for term-time weekends?

My family and kids take over at the weekends; I’m a Dad-chauffeur a lot of the time and I watch my son play football most Saturdays.   Early Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings are good blog-release and reading periods… but you need to have some down time.

What do you do during school holidays?  

We always go abroad somewhere  or go camping.  It’s the only time I get to read properly. Sometimes we do a house swap – last year we swapped with a family in Denmark. It works really well. Exam results days define a pretty tight window. I went to China at Easter – working! But it was a great trip: I can’t complain.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I love WordPress.  So easy to use with lots of great visual features. I like Hootsuite for twitter on my computer because of all the streams. I also like the Blackberry twitter app, especially since they included ‘interactions’.   I can’t get ipad twitter apps to stop crashing!   Spotify has transformed music in our family; we rarely use itunes and never buy CDs.  We have a huge imac in the kitchen which our lives revolve around.

What offline tools can’t you live without?

I love using Garageband. Before blogging, music was my thing: https://soundcloud.com/tomoftheclouds  I tried to upgrade to Logic but it’s too complicated.

What’s your main workspace like?

At work one desk is a mess of paper but I have another big table with nothing on it for meetings.  At the end of each term I do a big desk-paper purge and throw 90% of it away.  I don’t file things except electronically..and it gets out of hand from time to time.

What do you listen to while you work?

At home I listen to my ipod and spotify.. often my own music or, more recently Foals.  At school I listen to sound of students chatting in the Outdoor Classroom outside my window.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Checking my emails continuously as they arrive on my blackberry or ipad.  I hate dealing with a backlog so I make sure I never have one.  Some see this as anti-social, obsessive, but it keeps me sane!  Like many people, I get several hundred emails a week.. I can’t manage if I don’t open them on arrival, deleting all the marketing rubbish.  I also love Shift+Command+4 for the imac screenshot function.  I use it for all my image manipulation for my blog.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

My head! It’s very unreliable but its the only one I use. Occasionally I flag emails which is helpful.  I should say that I have an excellent PA at work… it is amazing to work with someone who can draft the letters I need to write without me having to edit them at all and someone who has control of my diary… we do it jointly.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My ipod. I’ve got a fairly old brick-style ipod but I love it! My ipad is also my diary, class register, video player, camera, note-pad and browser.  I take it everywhere.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Keeping an eye on the big picture.  I have a great team who run the school day to day; I see my job as looking ahead… but I still love to run my school’s twitter output, capturing the spirit of the school in the messages we put out.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 5.50am every day; Sunday is lie-in day.  My Blackberry is on hand from the time the alarm goes off until the time I switch-it off at night.  That’s pretty tragic but it is true.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert when I need to.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff”.  My Canadian step-dad says that all the time.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Like many people I suffer continual imposter syndrome.  I imagine the other people doing things properly when I’m making it up as I go along… but actually we probably all do that.

I would like to I’d like to see Chris Husbands, @Director_I0E,  answer these same questions.

————————

Many thanks to Tom for agreeing to post here. Other This is how I work posts are available here.

 

Drew Buddie: This is how I work

I am Drew Buddie and this is how I work

 

Twitter: @digitalmaverick

Current job: Head of (newly titled) Computing

Been a teacher since: 1987

Location: Rickmansworth, Herts

Current mobile device: iPhone 5

Current computer: I currently use a battered old Acer laptop creaking under the strain of all of the malware software that my son has inadvertently downloaded onto it in his eternal pursuit of the perfect video file conversion software. I also am starting to rely more and more on my iPad but I sometimes feel like I need a much more robust device (if some kind soul has one lying around).

School-issued devices: None – having an iPad of my own, I ‘donated’ my school-given one to a colleague so that she could participate in our staff iPad pilot scheme.

One word that best describes how you work: Flibbertigibbet

How do you manage your calendar/diary?

My daughter is in charge of that :-)

How do you manage your lesson planning?

I guess having taught my subject for over 20 years, most of my lessons are ‘in my head’.  I seldom use notes, except when I am being observed, or if I am covering a topic that is new to me.  I work paperlessly with my students, seldom if ever giving out worksheets, or printing out their completed work.  I try to prepare thoroughly for each lesson I teach by ensuring that the resources we need are available and that they work properly.  Crucially, I have a back-up plan for every occasion, in case the technology that I have to rely on does not work – so for every ICT lesson I have a non-ICT lesson up my sleeve, just in case.  I currently teach all of Years 7 -9 (that’s 4 classes in each year group) so a lesson is well-refined by the time the final group has me for a particular topic.  I always make notes on what happens in class and frequently ask  for feedback from my students about what they thought of what they did in class.  The 4 R’s (Resilience, Reciprocity, Reflection, Resourcefulness) are firmly embedded within our school curriculum and I practice what I preach by employing each of these when evaluating my own performance. I started Twitter as a reflective tool, never for a moment thinking using that indispensible tool would take me on such a life-changing personal learning journey.

How do you manage your marking?

I do it all in school, as my classes tend to be small. I use comment only marking as my assessment for learning policy.

What’s your best tip for term-time weekends?

Don’t forget your family! Also, don’t forget yourself! After I have enjoyed a relaxing weekend, if possible I allocate myself 7pm onwards on Sunday evenings to doing school-related work, the only exceptions being at pressurised times of year (such as when 120 reports have to be written).  I also use weekends to learn what I can from reading – usually by  following the links I’ve favourited  in Twitter.  I feel that ‘favouriting’ is massively undervalued by most Twitter users, and (let’s be honest) by Twitter themselves.  I have in excess of 75,000 Twitter favourites, all of which are (or were) linked to my Delicious account via Packrati.us. I allocate a 2-3 hour period during the weekend to sift through the Favourites I’ve made during the week.  I also use this process to read articles that I have saved for offline reading via Instapaper.  I live on the school premises, so it can sometimes be hard to escape from the parochial nature of our school community, hence I try to go to gigs or travel around if I can when the opportunity arises.

What do you do during school holidays?

I start the summer holidays watching the spectacular coverage of the Tour de France (I bought an HD TV for this specific reason). I then go to music festivals later in the year – Green Man and End of the Road.  I have started volunteering for various organisations and I do a fair bit of that during the holidays.  This summer I am an invited speaker at the Scratch Conference in Barcelona, a city I have never visited before,  so i am really looking forward to going there. I was recently awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship with which I have been given a sizeable grant to carry out personal research around the world during this coming year – I will be doing my travel (to Estonia, Ireland, Colombia & southern USA) over the holiday periods in the coming academic year.  Although relaxing during my holidays too, if I see a course I am interested in, and can learn  from, then I sign up to attend it. Holiday periods also give me time to explore new topics that I want to embark on for the coming year eg. Open Badges, programming, our Comenius project are some topics I will be looking at this summer. I also maintain a project for our Gifted and Talented students which takes place within our VLE every summer.  The participants have anonymised accounts so that no participant knows the identity (and therefore the ages) of other participants.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Scoop.it, Bit.ly, Toondoo, Kerpoof, Bubbl.us, Tagxedo, Delicious, Storybird, Powtoon are just a few.

What offline tools can’t you live without?

The Moleskine in which I note down the pick of my Twitter ‘Favourites’ (somewhat retro and a bit bizarre I accept). Jesse Schell’s ‘Art of Game Design’ is a remarkable book which has hugely influenced changes in my recent approach to teaching and is my coffee table book of choice. I also like my 20Q quiz machine, my Powerball (which is supposed to eliminate RSI) and currently, my MakeyMakey.

What’s your main workspace like?

I have a VERY CLUTTERED (mainly due to the TEN Big Traks that I have stored therein) office which overlooks our 300 acre grounds – it is a remarkable place to have an office (especially when the apple & cherry blossom is in full bloom) and makes me count my blessings every day. I used to have a ceramic  scale model of Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University in it, but as it was 4 feet square I had to get rid of it.

What do you listen to while you work?

I recently bought a turntable, so have been rediscovering my old vinyl, as well as buying new.  My favourite music to work to at the moment is anything by The Decemberists, Calexico or Sigur Ros, and more specifically the truly beautiful ‘Mariqopa’ by Damien Jurado (I could listen to the track ‘Working Titles all day long)’,  Admiral Fallow’s ‘Boots met my face’, British Sea Power’s sublime soundtrack to ‘Man of Aran’ or Beirut’s ‘Gulag Orkestar’.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Scooping a  great weblink to Scoop.it for later reading by either myself, or my students.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t use one :-O

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My record player – a recent purchase, it helped me rediscover my vinyl collection and compelled me to start buying vinyl instead of CDs and MP3s.  It also made me decide to play much more music in my home and to buy LPs for my children for their birthdays & Christmas.  I am sad that my children will never know the feeling of being in a queue outside Woolworth’s on a rainy  Saturday morning with pocket money in hand, waiting to buy the latest single releases. Or that ecstatic feeling the first time I put on the ‘Bat out of Hell’ platter having saved for 5 weeks to buy it.  I also like my handheld stapler in the shape of a dog’s head, which I try to keep handy. My Aeropress coffee filter is the greatest culinary aid I have ever purchased – no other coffee maker comes close.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I believe I am good at bringing people together from diverse backgrounds.  I always engage with people on Twitter and follow a diverse number of people from all sorts of backgrounds based on my personal interests.  As a result I have a ‘quiver full of arrows’ to call on whenever people want someone to solve a problem, provide advice or speak at a conference. I am also good at doing a Burns Supper (from cooking, to singing and reciting ‘To a haggis’. I am also good at letting a garden get out of hand.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Erratic.  I’m a bit of a nighthawk – I have to blame satellite TVs almost constant showing of CSI episodes for that! I work best at  around 11pm to 1am.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Anyone who has seen my LOUD  shirts, or some of my TeachMeet presentations will know that I give a very good impression of being extrovert when the need arises, but I fear that this gives a false impression of who I am. I would say I am introverted in my daily life and at home, often preferring solitude to the company of others whilst I read and listen to music.  Having said that,  I am quite an energetic teacher in the classroom, and whatever else my students may derive from my lessons, they can’t fail (I hope) to at least grasp my enthusiasm for my subject. I think, being almost 20 years in the same job, I have perhaps become too comfortable with my working surroundings, which may have led to me almost blending in so much that colleagues and students can forget I am around.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My wee Gran was full of  ‘Scottish Grannie-isms’, one of my favourites being ‘Keep a £1 in each of your trouser pockets and you’ll stand between your two closest friends’.  The worst piece of pre-teaching advice I was given is undoubtedly the old ‘Don’t smile til Christmas’ mantra.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to see  Ian Stuart  (@islayian) answer these same questions.

————————

Many thanks to Drew for agreeing to post here. Other This is how I work posts are available here.