Archive for the 'eduBuzz' Category

Hat tip to East Lothian teachers!

How does it feel to be unusual? If you’re one of the students, teachers or parents who’s been using eduBuzz this week, you might be interested to see that your activities – and your levels of media literacy – are now unusual enough to be something of a news story this week in the world of education.

The comments below are from Ewan McIntosh, a former East Lothian teacher, who contributed to edubuzz while with Learning and Teaching Scotland as future technologies adviser and now has wide, international consulting experience. (The bolding is mine.)

Congratulations, and thanks, to all involved.

In a small Local Authority in Scotland, thousands of students, parents and teachers have been getting together to learn and share their snow-day experiences on an open source blogging  platform. 25,000 visits a day1827 posts and 2477 comments were left throughout the three or four days of closed school this week on eduBuzz.org in East Lothian, Scotland.

….

the hat tip has to go to the teachers throughout East Lothian who, over the past five years, have come to believe in the benefit of sharing what goes on in their classroom day in, day out. That one principle is the hardest thing for people to ‘get’, and in East Lothian a significant and increasing numbers of teachers, the gatekeepers of a successful online learning community for schools, have certainly got it loud and clear. Nationally, there needs to be more of a campaign to help educators get to grips with the questions around sharing, issues that stretch beyond education and schools, and issues that too many have not yet understood. As well as being a tools issue, it’s a media literacy one above all.

If you’d like to read more, you’ll find Ewan’s full post here: What makes an online community explode during snow days?

More on the record-breaking week…

Over last 7 days, with no schools open, the http://www.edubuzz.org blogs have had a total of 1827 posts and 2477 comments added.

All schools closed – but their blogs are busier than ever!

This week, along with many local councils, East Lothian reluctantly took the decision to close all its schools in the face of unprecedented severe weather.

It wasn’t long, though, before staff started to use their eduBuzz school blogs to post updates for their classes. And it’s been interesting to see how that has developed over the four days the schools have now been closed.

eduBuzz.org has been going since 2005, and there are now over 1000 blog sites and over 2000 registered users. Perhaps more significantly, the use of simple web publishing has become normalised across the 40-school district, and a good staff and student skill base has been built up in almost every school. Usage has been rising steadily, and before the school closures there were about 700 posts in a typical school week, and around 1200 comments.

With schools closed, you might have expected usage to drop; but the opposite has happened. It started with small numbers of staff posting learning activities for their classes. That trickle quickly became a flood as the closures were extended, and staff realised the potential of the blogs to keep some learning going.  By midday today, a running counter of “posts in the last 24 hours” showed over 700 posts had been added since yesterday lunchtime, a record level of activity. Education managers quickly realised what was happening, and arranged for school closure updates on the East Lothian council web site to point parents and students to the school blogs for learning updates.

Visitor statistics showed they weren’t publishing into a vacuum either. Visits per day have been higher than ever, at over 25,000 visits per day. Some of these will be due to people checking for closure announcement information, especially mid afternoon in the earlier days, but the levels of activity have been high at all times.

Some other statistics from this closure period:

  • 32 staff have registered new accounts
  • 14 new blog sites have been created

It has been heartening to see the efforts being made by staff to “keep the show on the road”. Many staff  have asked for help to enable them to do things they’ve never done before, whether it’s putting up a simple post with a learning activity, or recording themselves reading stories to their class, and publishing the recording on the school site.

And some, of course, has just been good fun – such as finding out what two feet of snow look like!

Embedding WordPress across a school district: some eduBuzz.org stats

What might take-up of WordPress across a 40-school local authority look like?

Monthly Visits Dec 2009 to Oct 2010

October 2010 web server summary stats for East Lothian‘s eduBuzz.org system (visitors and page views) show that the current levels of use this year, a traditionally quieter time, are already similar to the last school year’s peak period of May/June.

Monthly Page Views Dec 2009 to Oct 2010

The pattern each year has been similar, with usage at this time of year approximately doubling by May/June.  Together with steady recent increases, this is a year-on-year growth rate of well over 100%.

The eduBuzz.org WordPress site now has 1,161 sub-sites (blogs) and 2,336 registered user accounts.

How easy is is to post to an Edubuzz blog from inside Edubuzz Google Apps?

How easy is is to post to an Edubuzz blog from inside Edubuzz Google Apps?

This document has been created in the Edubuzz Google Docs system, and I’m testing to see if I can publish it directly to my Edubuzz WordPress MU blog using the Google Apps “Post to blog” feature.

The screen below shows the settings used, and the confirm message.
Update:  Using the Moveable Type API worked fine, but the post title wasn’t added automatically, I added that manually.

Helping students survive recession: an enabler of school change?

What might schools do to help students find employment during a recession?

Charlie Hoehn‘s e-Book “The Recession-Proof Graduate” has been getting a lot of readers since it caught the attention of Seth Godin.

He includes this frank perspective on the value of being able to use typical productivity applications in today’s job market.

If your skill set on your resume consists of “Proficient in Microsoft Office”, then you have no marketable skills. Knowing how to create a document, format a PowerPoint, or organise a spreadsheet are not things you can brag about — those are things every employer expects, like knowing how to pronounce your own name, or remaining continent during office hours.

So, if those skills are taken for granted, what does Charlie think does matter? His examples include:

  • using Google Reader as a learning resource
  • learning to craft good blog posts
  • learning to work remotely (i.e. working virtually, without supervision)
  • learning skills that are in high demand, and slightly difficult to learn (e.g. from free web tutorials)
  • creating a blog, so that prospective employers “Have something positive to look at when they Google your name”

Schools could help with developing these skills, but we’re certainly not there yet. How do you teach a student to create their personal blog, or craft blog posts, for example, if blogs sites are banned by your school’s web filters?

Maybe, though, starting to flesh out a set of “recession survival” skills and finding ways to integrate them into learning activities through Curriculum for Excellence outcomes and experiences,  could be a worthwhile direction to take?  Who knows, the urgency of helping students get through the recession might just enable us to dismantle some of the current barriers.

“One Netbook Per Child” Project Now Started

Now that netbooks offer low cost, portable computing – and will only get better – how can schools best exploit them?

That’s the question behind a new East Lothian project starting this term.  There’s been a lot of discussion of the potential of these technologies over the last year or so and we now aim to make a start on learning about the real-world possibilities. We’re deliberately trying to push this as far as we can beyond what we already do to improve the chances of identifying new benefits – and force ourselves to learn our way past any barriers that emerge. That’s why the project willinclude, for example:

  • a focus on web-based collaborative working, using services such as Glow and edubuzz
  • issuing netbooks on a one-to-one basis to every child (92) in the Primary 5 cohort
  • giving children ownership of the devices, and allowing them to take them home
  • encouraging connection to home or other wi-fi networks, such as in libraries, where possible
  • encouraging multimedia use through provision of a few Flip video cameras in each class

We have been fortunate to have full support from our IT department for the project. The arrangement is that they will enable wireless network access for the netbooks in the school, but cannot offer software support – if any configuration problems arise, the devices will simply be restored to factory settings by the teacher.

Today Elizabeth Cowan and I met with the Primary 5 teachers at Kings Meadow Primary who will be involved to make a start on planning.  The day included an intro to Glow from Ian Hoffman of the Glow team which included useful examples of work going on elsewhere.

Blog directly from Flickr to your edubuzz blog

If you – or your school – has an account with the Flickr photo-sharing website, you might want to set it up so that you can post photos directly from Flickr to your edubuzz blog(s).

In Flickr, go to Your Account, Extending Flickr, then add the blog to Your Blogs. There’s a test, which will post a message like this to check it’s working:

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

TeachMeet08: Live Flashmeeting Link-Up with Islay

For Islayian‘s benefit, and anyone else interested, this is a section of video just to show what his link-up looked like to those of us attending TeachMeet08 at the Scottish Learning Festival 2008.

This shows the sort of thing that Glow Meet enables within schools, where, for example, a visiting speaker in one school could be live linked to other sites.

If you’re interested, the original FlashMeeting can be replayed on-line, and Nicholas Hughes, who attended via FlashMeeting, has blogged a good summary of the presentations.

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Satirists Attack “Bottomless Abyss Of Formal Schooling”

Have we reached a new milestone with traditional school practices becoming the target of satirists?

The concept of wasting a majority of daylight hours sitting still in a classroom when he could be riding his bicycle, playing in his tree fort, or lying in the grass looking at bugs—especially considering that he had already wasted two years of his life attending preschool and kindergarten—seemed impossibly unfair to Bolduc. Moreover, sources said, he had no idea how much worse the inescapable truth will turn out to be.