Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for February, 2008

Good To Great Teaching Seminar Part 1
February 28th, 2008

The last few days have been flat out. On Tuesday I ran an all day a pre-conference workshop. Tools that the participants were able to explore included WordPress [doc], Swickis [doc], bookmarks [doc], Flickr [doc] and Twitter [doc]. It was an interesting workshop and the participants seemingly had a good time.


Web 2.0 workshop participants 

On Wednesday I gave a presentation on the read~write web and current developments in the area including mashups, Yahoo Pipes and scraping of sites througgh the use of tools such as Dapper. Some of the audience members are pictured below.


The audience 

NTU has an excellent set up and my presentation was recorded by Ian and the team pictured below.

Ian, centre, and her team of helpers 

At the conclusion of the presentations myself, Tom Reeves, Sheryl Wong, Paul Gagnon and Westley Field grabbed a few quick photographs. The Good To Great Seminar has been excellent and there has been a lot of buzz and excitement. I shall be coming back up to Singapore in April to follow up on some of the workshops and presentations of this week.

Myself, Tom, Sheryl, Paul and Westley 

One evening Tom, Westley and I went out for a drink and dinner. We had a beer by Boat Quay and then I took them both for a walk down South Bridge Road to Chinatown. I grabbed a quick photograph of Westley and Tom by Speakers’ Corner. We ate at the Tai Pei Eating House and then went for a walk around Chinatown followed by a visit to the Sri Mariamman Temple. We then walked back to the hotel, past Clarke Quay, across the river and up Victoria Street.

Westley and Tom settle a point of debate. 

Last night I caught up with Siva, Airani and Anand. We had a jolly good time. I drank four or more ice-lemon teas and consumed a healthy amount of popiah and tucked into an incredibly rich fish-head curry that just about blew my head off. It certainly cleaned out the cobwebs from system. 

Anand and myself 

Aiarani, myself and Siva

Podcasting and vodcasting workshop at Hougang Primary School ~ Singapore
February 25th, 2008

This morning I awoke early, reworked a powerpoint for today’s presentation and went downstairs and grabbed a taxi to Hougang Primary School. Wai Tuck, my friend at the school had emailed some teaching programmes from the school and I generated some ideas for possible podcasting scenarios in preparation for today’s podcast workshop. I arrived at the school at 7:30AM and Wai Tuck graciously organised some breakfast for me. I had spaghetti with a spicy curry, plus some juice, fruit and coffee. Singaporean schools have excellent canteens with a large variety of freshly cooked hot food ~ Chinese, Malay, Indian and even Western food. I had a nice curry with rice, chicken and dried anchovies for lunch as well. Beautiful!

Hougang Primary School is a neighbourhood school. It is surrounded by Housing Development Board blocks and sits opposite Hougang Secondary School. It is an incredible primary school. It is four storeys high. It is colourfully decorated throughout. It is has incredible facilities and includes an agricultural plot, live animals and birds, a fernery, climbing walls and even a modern, well-equipped dental facility. The technology facilities are also incredible. The students were polite, graceful, greeted me as they passed and made one feel most welcome. That is one thing I miss a great deal when I am back in Australia. I shall post a gallery of photographs tonight if I have time.

I conducted two podcast workshops today. One was held in the morning from 9:00AM to 12:30PM for those staff that taught during the afternoon shift at the school. Then I conducted a second workshop from 1:30PM till 4:30PM for those staff that taught in the morning. Singaporean teachers do work very hard. The school day starts with assembly at 7:30AM each day and completes at 6:00PM. There were about 90 participants in all. All of the participants were attending the workshop during their free time. The teachers often conduct and supervise extra curricular activities before or after teaching time and as a result the average teacher is spending approximately ten hours each day at school.

It was quite a task today. I covered GarageBand [pdf], Audacity [pdf], Quicktime [pdf], ProfCast [pdf] and Propaganda [pdf] during the course of the three hours. During the afternoon session I added Blogger and illustrated how easy it is easy to set up a vodcast using Blogger and a simple RSS feed subscription in iTunes. The upload did not go that smoothly however I think I managed to get the point across. I have added some photographs of the participants below. Resources utilised for the podcast workshop can be found at this dedicated page.

At the end of the day I went for a tour around the school and then took a number 235 bus to Hougang MRT and caught a train to Clarke Quay MRT. I walked up Eu Tong Sen Street to the Funan Centre, banked the cheque I received for today’s workshop and walked back to the hotel. Took a break, wrote this post and now I will grab a bite to eat. I am off to Nanyang Technological University in the morning to conduct a pre-conference workshop. Topics being covered tomorrow include WordPress [pdf], Swickis [pdf], bookmarks [pdf], Flickr [pdf], Twitter [pdf] and whatever takes the participants fancy in that wild and woolly world that is the read~write web.

Singapore ~ Sunday 24th February 2008
February 25th, 2008

After settling in at the hotel I walked over to Victoria Street, past the National Heritage Board building pictured below and caught a number 2 bus down to Eu Tong Sen Street, alighted in Chinatown, and went for a walk to my favourite eating haunt. I used the integrated electronic ticketing system that one can use with the trains and buses here in Singapore. If only they could get it to work in Sydney.

Shao Ping and I used often ate at the Tai Pei Eating House in Trengannu Street. My meal was predictable. The staff know what I will order. I always have the hot plate beef with ginger and some vegetables plus a little chilli sauce. And steamed rice. And a glass of beer. I followed that with home-made ice lemon tea.

Singapore is constantly changing. I would not be surprised if Singapore forms part of the definition for change in the Oxford dictionary. As I walked through Chinatown I noticed that the Housing Development Board flats were being upgraded. Lift wells that serviced every floor were being retrofitted to the structure. Prior to that the elevators stopped at every sixth floor. A resident that lived on the 8th floor, for example, would alight at the 6th floor and climb the stairwell to the 8th floor. Compare the photograph of the block below with this one taken in 2003 and this earlier view from 2000.

I went for a walk around Chinatown after dinner. I noticed that the Hong Lim Housing Development Board flats had also been given a fresh coat of paint. That is the third upgrade I had witnessed for these flats during the last three years. Some of earlier photographs of the same area taken in 2000 can be seen here.

I kept walking and taking more photographs as I had done in 2000. The old building on the corner of Ann Siang Road and Club Street has been renovated. It had been in a sad state back in 2000.

During my stay in Singapore I had taken many photographs around the Chinatown area documenting the change, the people and the events. These photographs area available in these galleries: Chinatown Scenes 2003Chinese New Year 2003Singapore Visit April 17th 2005 and the View from Chinatown 2000.

Hitched a ride to Singapore on the A380 Airbus
February 24th, 2008

Today I had the very good fortune to fly from Sydney to Singapore aboard one of Singapore Airline’s new Airbus A380 jets. As I waited in the departure lounge I managed to capture a couple of photographs as it landed. I used digital zoom so the images are not that clear.

After that I took some photographs of the A380 as it was divested of its pasengers and cargo. the sun was streaming in from behind the subject. The glass was double layered. I was intrigued by the shape of the wings and the profile of the fuselage.

The inflight entertainment system was excellent. There were hundreds of movies and television shows on demand. Countless music tracks. You could even create your own playlist. In addition to that there were news-feeds from AAP, language lessons, business lessons and a built in OS that allowed you to create a word processing document, spreadsheets and the like.




The controller sat in a recess beneath the extra large video screen. It was not located in the arm rest. The controller also acted as the keyboard and mouse. On top of all this you could save your work to your thumb drive courtesy of the USB port. There was also a video jack and a network port that was probably Ethernet.



Podcasting workshop at Hougang Primary School
February 21st, 2008

This Monday I have the good fortune to be conducting a podcasting workshop for staff at Hougang Primary School in Singapore. Thirty staff will be attending a morning session and fifty staff in the afternoon. It will be quite a day.

The teachers will be working with MacBooks and as a result I shall be sharing GarageBand (guide), ProfCast (guide) and Audacity (guide) with the teachers in addition to a variety of strategies and tactics. I will share some Windows based solutions (guide) as well.

Podcasting is an interesting beast. Students at our school have created podcasts, the first back in 2005. Where are they now? On a server, a back-up somewhere. This is often the way with projects, technology and otherwise.

Podcasting. Needs focus. Collaboration. Longevity. Podcasts can become lost, buried, discarded. Focus and direction can give podcasts life.

Years ago I had the chance to observe and work with a group of Year 6  students on a web publishing project. It was Woodlands Primary School. About 1999. Small groups within created a site dedicated to one aspect of a course that was to be examined at the end of the year. During the following year the next cohort further developed the web sites and added audio and visual components. The site evolved and was developed by successive students. It evolved a life of its own.

This is the type of approach I like to see with podcasting projects. Longevity. Students can be rostered to create a podcast on a specific topic scheduled for publication at a particular time of year that relates to the course structure.

I shall write more on this topic during the coming days. Resources for the podcasting workshop can be downloaded from this page.