Saturday, June 28, 2008

Global Classroom and Moodle

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't blog about two of the sessions at FOSSED 2008. That's because live blogging my own presentations felt a little odd to me.

However, if you register with Global Classroom you will be able to join the Moodle classrooms I set up for participants in my presentations. The first one is called, "Our Youngest Users" and the second one is called, "Teaching the Teachers". I probably will be revising, editing and generally tweaking these so feel free to check back periodically.

Global Classroom is a great tool for teachers who want to take online professional development and/or graduate credit classes and for teachers who want to create virtual Moodle classrooms for their real life students.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bryant Patten

Tonight's Keynote is Bryant Patten . . . .

Brian is quickly reviewing the basics of Open Source.
$ + FOSS = Leverage
Have it now! (Free S0ftware for Schools)
Never 'stuck' with it
No Piracy

Myths = too hard, free means no good, teach the industry standard, etc

Military is pushing for Open Source because enhances IT agility, industry has to compete on ideas, etc.

There is a good chance that industry standard will be redhat, fedora, ubuntu

What's holding back OS
user resistance?-not the kids
support? call centers or personal contacts

A Bit of Blue Sky

Gnu Ideas . . .

1. Scratch your Gaming Itch
move from passive consuming to active creation
dual gender enthusiasm
shallow learning curve
useful for programing, animation, gaming

2. Pride in Assessment
what if students got excited about assessment?
what if it had direct value to students?

3. Universal Themes
cooperative learning
collaborative learning

81% of Fortune 500 companies are using FOSS software.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Innovator's Dilema: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton M. Christensen
The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It by Jonathon Zittrain

FLOSS is NOT Web 2.0 and Web 2.0 is NOT FLOSS.--Who controls the data?

Hardware goes Open Source--OPLC, ASUS eee, cloudbook, etc

The world goes Open Source
Holland, South Africa, Spain, South & North Korea,
Brazil will have 53,000 labs by the end of 2009 serving 52 million students.

Hackerteen is a project designed to redirect teenagers to the good side.

K-12 Open Minds is a workshop September 25-27, 2008. Indiana is slowly moving the whole state of Indiana.

1. Creativity and Innovation
apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas
2. Communication and Collaboration
interact, collaborate, and publish
3. Develop cultural understanding and global awareness
4; Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
5. Digital Citizenship
6. Technology Operations and Concepts

FLOSS allows you to become a World Maker.

Bryant is the Executive Director of

Thanks Bryant! As always you are motivating, enthusiastic, and energetic!


Sonja Gonzalez is talking about Web 2.0 communication tools. Check out her outline.

First up is Skype. She is telling us about a colleague who was teaching a high school class on Game Programming. All the kids thought they'd be the author of the next "World of Warcraft." The teacher joined a game programmers listserv, posted a request for someone to talk to her class. A programmer agreed and talked with the kids about a game most of them knew. He explained that for that particular game there were about 150 programmers and he had done the one spot where the character icon climbed a ladder. There was a definite coolness factor and a definite reality check for the students. This was done with Skype.

I just downloaded Skype for myself. Now, I get to figure out how to use it personally and professionally. Hmmm! I could get authors, or parents, or almost anyone who could provide the class with information . . .

Time passing ~

I got wrapped up in setting up and using Skype. Now we're onto USTREAM Watch the front screen because it can be inappropriate for the classroom but once you are into your own account, you are safe. Two essential differences with USTREAM and TeacherTube/YouTube is USTREAM is designed for live streaming - your webcam and computer mic should be enough to make your movie. TeacherTube/YouTube is not live.

DimDim according to Sonja is,
  • Free
  • No download, no install
  • Need to sign up
  • Can schedule a meeting in the future or start one immediately
  • Dimdim is a free web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required for attendees
Now we are trying to set up a DimDim meeting. So far I can chat but my audio/video test failed.

But first we're going to talk about Twitter This is a quick IM answering the question of "What are you doing?" I personally enjoy Twitter.

We also talked about VoiceThread It is a way to combine images and narratives and get comments from others.

If you take a headphone with audio port (not usb), plug it into the microphone port, and talk into the left headphone. It will work as a microphone. Who knew? What a cool, cheap microphone!

Back to DimDim, we can't get the audio/video to work on Macs and no one has a PC webcam/mic.

Onto a few other tools . . .Zamzar is a free online file conversion service. Use this when someone sends you a doc that you can't open or if you need to send as a pdf.

Then there is Kerpoof an amazing TuxPaint/KidPix program. It's Fun!

Thanks Sonja for a great, interactive morning!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Today's Keynote speaker is . . .

David Trask !!!!

The text in blue is my interpretation of his talk.

The title of his speech is "The Natives Are Restless"

In a normal school environment we use technology for:

email, instant messaging, web browsing, social networking, spreadsheets, writing

What do we use to do these things?

bloated "over-blinged operating systems
expensive office suies
web browsers banned by Homeland Security* (DOH is recommending that people do NOT use IE)

Taxpayer Revolt and other good reasons for saving money

Remember the customers

our customers are:

Give every student a technological edge

FOSS levels the playing field between the haves and have nots. FOSS works no matter what the socioeconomic level.

Mark Shuttleworth was referenced as a model of FOSS leveling his playing field.

The OS is irrelevant. What matters is that they can learn concepts that can be applied to any OS.

For example, we all learned to drive on different models of cars - Ford, VW, Chevy. Honda, etc. But, we can all drive cars - all different kinds. Operating Systems should be the same.

Digital Natives

Most kids have never seen a record or a typewriter. MP3's, laptops, computers, cell phones, etc are all relatively standard now.

They want freedom to choose
They move at the speed of today's world
They change willingly and often
They're more connected than we are
They're open to new ideas
They're changing "business as usual"

Adults see Microsoft and Google.

Kids see thousands of icons -

Kids are using Web 2.0 products so it doesn't matter where they are . . .they can access their work anywhere! Even Grandma's house.

How do we make the change?

Start small
avoid the trumpets
give students a "home" alternative
use it yourself
use it alongside what you have now
simply let things eventually work to where you want to go.

Don't force the issue until you are no longer buying/servicing proprietary hard and software. The next 3 months are painful as teachers struggle to adapt.

Foster the environment in your school "It's okay, you can do it, Grow UP"

How will we prepare kids for the working world?

What will those who are in K now be using for a computer when they are Freshmen in high school?

We need to teach them skills rather than applications and operating systems. Basic commands work essentially the same.

Teaching second graders that word processing programs are word processing programs with the different buttons.

Bottom line - Kids don't care what the operating system is. They develop ownership over the hsrdware and software.

Just Do It

Migrate to Web 2.o applications

It doesn't matter where you are, you can learn.

And this time its personal. . . customize, distribute, integrate, adapt, personalize, tweak

How FOSS makes a difference at budget time . . .

Keep in mind the most important thing. . .access to technology
Weigh the choices . . .teachers vs licenses
Seek the alternative...costly books vs online resources
Less horsepower = better gas mileage (budge PC's and thin-clients)
Leverage an old investment. . .turn it into a thin-client

If Kids can do it, so can Adults!

David is passionate about FOSSED and about kids and about teaching!
And he's funny, too.

Session #2 of FOSSED 2008

As always, lunch was delicious - the food at Gould Academy is simply amazing! Vegan, Vegetarian, and Omnivore's alike are fed well here.

Well, I decided to attend Moodles Beyond the Classroom presented by Maya Crosby, science teacher, and Thomas Steele-Maley, social studies teacher, from Lincoln Academy are the session leaders.

First they got us all registered at Global Classrooms. That was easy for most people. But, I have to be difficult. Since I had already registered, I couldn't follow the presenters instructions. It would have also been easier if I had remembered my password. :0! Fortunately, I had it saved on my desktop so I pulled out my laptop and logged on.

Global Classrooms Moodle is very similar to other Moodle templates that I've looked at or used. (Thanks Tim Hart!)

The question came up about registering students for courses. Sharon Betts spoke up and said that in her district, the teacher picks out the students for his/her courses from a list when they set up the course. Lincoln has their kids self-register.

Maya and Thomas showed us how Lincoln Academy is using Moodle for both student course development and for professional development. One example from a PD forum was the issue of consistently applying rules for students. One teacher was frustrated by a student's response to "Don't eat in my classroom." The discussion that ensued was detailed, expressive, and varied with many staff participants. Another example was a Moodle class that SpecEd teachers and Ed Techs used to keep track of students' completion of work. They used the wiki mode so they could easily tell each other who had accomplished what when. Very Effective Uses for Moodle.

Next Maya and Thomas let us experiment. That is REAL fun!

And talk about small world and 6 degrees of separation - Thomas told me that he had met me when I was doing a program for the Orono Public Library in Webster Park a couple of years ago - judging real and stuffed animals. He also worked briefly with my son, Carl at Orono High School, when he (Thomas) was a student teacher.

Time for the Keynote Speaker . . .

Educational FLOSS Software

Session #1 of FOSSED 2008

Robert Sargent of Waits River Valley School District, Vermont is presenting on Free "Libre" Open Source Applications for the classroom. He is talking about assessing standards acquisition by using Open Source applications.

This following text in blue will be a real time interpretation of his presentation:
Best Teaching Practices Student-centered Project-oriented Constructivist/Constructionist
Differentiated Instruction
Cooperative Group Learning

Vermont has "Information Technology Grade Expectations" . But they have not been realigned with the new NETS from ISTE.
Digital Worksheet

Use a word processor document with URL's to scaffold an Internet-based activity.

(Save them as html so that with a web interface they can be posted to the web)

NVUE is an Open Source html editor. It is no longer being supported but, Komposer and FunnyMonkey are.

Designing a task for someone else to do. This is a metacognitive activity for kids. By 6th grade they should be able to create WebQuests.

WebQuest Gurus

Bernie Dodge

WebQuest 101

A WebQuest About WebQuests

Projects with Bit-Mapped Graphics (GIMP)

Bob's Art Teacher took portrait photos of each child. The photos were put into GIMP, and the kids posterized (reduce number of colors), put into grayscale, used a grid to transfer to paper, then the kids mixed a single color to paint their portrait in monochromatic.

An alternative to GIMP is KolourPaint. This has a bit simpler interface.

XnView is a free software package to view and convert graphic files. (You can resize photos individually or in a batch. This is good for student projects.)

OpenOffice comes with a Database. One project is to use a database to collate survey results. There is no charting in the database but there is in Calc (Spreadsheet). So just copy your database into Calc or spreadsheet.


This is an Open Source desktop publishing system. When you have a finished project, you can save it as pdf. But remember to save your original in case you need to go back and edit. This is a good product to use if a teacher is taking student work to create a finished product. Scribus is also helpful for creating brochures and fliers.


Audacity is a FOSS for a recording and editing sounds software. It can be used for podcasting, assessing speech, reading, vocal pitch, etc.


This is a suite of activities best suited for the Pre-K-3 gang. It's fun for the rest of us, too. :)


This is a model planetarium or star map that allows the user to enter in specific latitude/longitude information and the program shows a map of what can be seen from that spot on earth without a telescope.


This is a 3-D space simulator so students can travel in space and see the stars and planets from different perspectives.

FMS Logo

This version of Logo is aimed specifically at elementary schools. It is based on Seymour Papert's Logo. Kturtle is another Logo-based programming language designed for elementary school students.

Why Use Open Source?

4 kinds of Software Freedom-
The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1).
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

Access to the source code is a precondition for freedoms 1-3

Why use it?

It's free.
Everyone can have it.
Open source means you are free to change the code.
Open source uses a different model for support.
Students can participate in an open source project.

Open Source Victoria
is a catalog of FOSS that is specifically helpful for teachers and students.

It makes sense to integrate the classroom with Open Source Software.

Thanks Bob, for an informative morning!

Now, it's time for lunch and decision making. Will I go to the Scratch presentation this pm or to using Moodle for Professional Development? Darn it! FOSSED is an abundance of riches.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Back!

It's hard to believe it's been almost exactly a year since I've written about my personal adventure with Linux. But, since the last entry was done at FOSSED 2007 and this is the eve of FOSSED 2008 perhaps it is appropriate.

The main reason for the long hiatus has been discouragement, frustration, and plain old stubbornness. I was stubborn about not writing because I didn't want to write anything negative about Free and Open Source Software and Linux. I was discouraged and frustrated because my school did decide to go with either Edubuntu or K12LTSP and thin clients. They invested in very cool, sleek monitors, keyboards, and microprocessors. However the school tech person did not want to have anything to do with it. And what should have been an exciting and empowering time for technology became a major challenge - personally and professionally.

The short version is that with lots of parent volunteers as well as Open Source Community volunteers we got 18 classrooms with 5 student machines and 1 teacher machine set up along with a complete lab, and machines for art, music, Title I, etc.

Thanks to a parent, Josh Peterson, we got Edubuntu up and running. The version wasn't stable enough and required more tech support than Josh could give us so we went back to what we used in the pilot program - K12LTSP. It was more stable and was familiar to the grade 1-3 students and the K-2 teachers.

We were able to also access another volunteer (and hopefully soon to be official support (read:paid*) ) from Jeff Wheeler of Hermon. Jeff is a kind, quiet man who did amazing things for us and our Open Source system and asked only for a good cup of coffee in return. *Our school system is negotiating a service contract for IT/IS services from the Hermon school district.

So, now I'm back at Gould Academy in Bethel. I have to admit I had second thoughts about attending (and presenting) this year. Did I really want to spend 3 days translating geekish into metaphors that I could grasp? Did I really have something valuable to tell these ubergeeks? (And I truly am in awe of the sheer brilliance that geeks of all sorts have and I have the utmost respect for those that fall into the category of geek.) Tonight I sat around a table in a local pub, listening, conversing, and listening some more. Yes, there were conversations that swirled around me that just didn't completely connect for me - "BASH-script" "Lock down the database" "Go in the back door through Port 445 and the SSH doesn't recognize it" "We'll put it up on the FTP server, it has a web interface." But underneath the unfamiliar language was a passion for helping kids and teachers be the very best using the tools of today to create the ideas for the future. And that passion is what draws me, a mere classroom teacher, to this conference.