55 posts categorized "Giving Information"

September 14, 2007

My Scottish Learning Festival: where, with whom, doing what?

Mcintoshs_scotlearnfest07 The Learning Festival is one of these events where you have to pick and choose carefully, leave plenty of slack and not get too stressed out if you don't see everyone or do everything you wanted to. That said, a good plan is always handy. And if you're following the Festival through Connected Live from Monday, well, we've taken all the hard work out of it - sit back and enjoy things at our pace!

I could sing the praises of a huge majority of the 160-odd seminars, spotlights or keynotes, but the Festival is different for everyone, and designed to meet the desires of every teacher you can imagine. I couldn't do it justice.

Consolarium I want to just give special mention to m'colleague Derek Robertson, who has blogged this week about the gaming in education seminars taking place throughout the two day Festival. Soon, the website of the Consolarium, the Scottish Centre for Gaming and Learning, will be going live in the ICT in Education area and these events will give an sneak into the amazing work he and colleagues have been doing this past year as part of the new technologies for learning strategy. Hopefully, we'll be at a few, cameras and blogging tools at the ready.

What else will I be enjoying in particular this year? Here's my timetable, minus the fun time that will be spent working with our Connected Live podcasters, videographers and bloggers. Feel free to leave comments on the blog or to text me on +44 (0)793 23 43 188 if you want to hook up or point out something cool. Alternatively, just get onto Twitter:

Tuesday 18th
Connected_live_crew Afternoon: Recce and behind-the-scenes filming with the crew at SECC. Visiting BBC Scotland in their new HQ and PQ (Head Quarters at Pacific Quay).

Evening: Dinner with the British Council and international guests.

Wednesday 19th
9.30-10.15: Giving my seminar: We're adopting! A social media strategy for education, SECC Forth

This is an adapted version of the talk I gave in Boston earlier this year, bringing in a bit of the questioning around how public your public body (i.e. school) can be
(Book your place | see my Boston version)

10.45-11.45: Listening to Michael Fullan's keynote: Turnaround Schools, Turnaround Systems, in the Armadillo

Inthewildspeakers 13.30-16.30: Having a free lunch (it does exist), giving a talk and lapping up Channel 4's In The Wild, at the Glasgow Science Centre. The speaking action happens from around 2.30pm.

15h00-15.40: Sending good vibes to colleague Andrew Brown as he introduces our latest service, Connected Live, in the Scottish Education Village

17.00-18.00: Listening to Stephen Heppell's keynote: Twenty-first Century Learning: New Ambition, New Pedagogy, New Buildings, New Opportunities, in the SECC Armadillo.

Teachmeet07basic 18.01: Running at the fastest speeds known to mankind over the River Clyde to make it back to the Science Centre for TeachMeet07

18.02-20.30: Lapping up the fun at TeachMeet07.

20.30: Making our way to Khublai Khan's for some crocodile fritters.

Thursday 20th
Connlive_moo 9.40-10.20: Introducing Connected Live, our latest online service, in the Scottish Education Village.

11.30-12.30: Listening to Mick Waters' keynote on Making Learning Irresistable: The Challenge in England.

14.00-14.45: Giving my talk on Why Scotland's Been Blogging For Five Million Years.

This is an adapted version from Boston for a more Scottish audience, designed to show some paths for getting more people in your organisation to embrace new technologies.

15.00-19.00: Wrapping up final coverage, making sure that the 40 full audio seminars, 60 interviews, video podcast material and remaining blog posts are published, cut or archived for use in the near future on Connected Live. You'll find me in the Festival coffee shops or, later, the bar of the Crowne Plaza ;-)

20.00: Return home to Edinburgh to see my own digital native...

September 06, 2007

Google Maps to help locate Scottish schools

Lts_google_maps Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) have started to plot where schools are using Google Maps in the national directory, like this example of Abbeyhill Primary. It should not only help visitors to the schools, but also probationers wondering where they've been sent, providing valuable official information next to the map.

So far the 'A's and 'B's are covered, with the rest of Scotland's 3000 schools to follow. I've been reassured that a smart cookie at LTS has got a source code made up which automatically converts school postcodes from the Scottish Government's central database into latitude and longitude, which can then be used to plot locations on the map. By and large, it's fairly accurate, although in some more far flung areas the school building can clearly be seen to be out by a 100m or so from the marked location. Something the guys are working on.

The next thing I'm hoping we can do is take the same information an create one master map, on which all Scottish schools are plotted along with the Scottish Schools Online information - the official website, but in reverse.

At the moment, if the Scottish Government receives changes of schools' details, this goes into the Government-LTS project, Scottish Schools Online, which gives LTS a fighting chance of keeping a Google Map up-to-date. Ideally we would be able to release that original KML file and let people play around with it, something I personally would love to see.

But there are some really practical and rather serious reasons why we can't, or won't, be able to do that yet, I think. The main one is to do with keep information accurate. If the KML file were downloaded, uploaded again to Google Maps and added to we would have a superb resource from the teaching profession or from students for as long as the core information was accurate. The minute that core information (that the school exists, its inspectorate reports, stats, contact details etc) changed, though, then the Googlejuice-high Google Maps of inaccurate information would come up first, above the accurate information held in LTS's site. Those generally searching for accurate information about the school are disserved. Do you see the conundrum?

When the data set changes, which it does every year as school roles change, schools open and get shut down, how can we keep everyone's maps up-to-date?

At the moment I'm not sure that the solution exists. I'm pretty sure it doesn't, but would love to be corrected. Again, going around in circles, I end up back at the solution whereby one centrally updated map, with all the core information uneditable by others and kept current by the Government, has a "Google Maps Wiki-ised" feature which allows others to chop and change information about blogs in that authority, good websites, news, feeds and so on in and around that. Until that comes, it's hard to free up that data. Any ideas?

September 05, 2007

EuroCALL Virtual Conference: Web 2.0 and language learning

Ulster EuroCALL, the European organisation which strives to explore new ways of teaching and learning language through technology, are having their annual conference in Coleraine, University of Ulster, this week.

There is a great virtual strand with conference presentations, papers, abstracts, streaming audio and aggregations of related content, bringing together world class academic research which shows the potential of the live web for language teaching and learning.

Given the recent hoopla [a.k.a. bunch of tosh] by Gary Stager, slating the "Web 2.0" crowd and the technology for their lack of academic backbone, this conference couldn't be better timed. In my role over the past year as Research Practitioner of new technologies, the material from these conferences is priceless and, along with the other 100 or so research reports I've read and summarised over the past two years (inspired by my old boss, Prof Johnstone), they form a steady base from which we can say with confidence why more teachers should engage their students with new technologies. You might also want to see Stephen Downes' point-by-point take on the academic backbone I'm talking about.

If you want to see why languages in particular benefit from Web 2.0, Live Web or, as I prefer, 'new technologies', then the Coleraine Virtual Strand is a pretty good place to start.

Tip of the hat to Graham Davies.

August 27, 2007

How to look after your first Bebo Boomer

Catriona I've been doing this Daddy job for a week now and, so far, the social work haven't removed her and she doesn't yell too much. Apparently, though, this investment can go down as well as up (and in about 13 years' time, all over the place).

The web, specifically the blogosphere, has proven more timely and in-depth than even Spock. It's almost certainly a great place to be for the increasing number of young mothers we're seeing in our schools, if only they knew how to find this stuff (cue tenuous but very real educational link).

Here are my top Bebo Boomer websites for anyone else awaiting their first babe.

Facebook_status Facebook and Twitter
In preparation for B-Day (geddit?) I asked if anyone had "some last minute advice for a first baby" on Facebook, where by-and-large only my friends and close workmates can see what I'm up to. Their advice was entertaining when we were feeling like she would never come out to join us, helpful in future years, I'm sure.

As I left hospital in the wee small hours of Monday morning I broke out the T-Mobile MDA, uploaded the pic I had snapped in my theatre scrubs and updated my status on Facebook and Twitter: "Ewan is welcoming Catriona Louise McIntosh to the world".

Waking up to Facebook the next day the 12-hour old Catriona had received nearly 100 messages from all over the world. The smurf was a veritable global citizen before she even reaches her first lunch. Importantly, by doing the same on Twitter, her dad started receiving lots of tips from more 'experienced' bloggers, and managed to let most of the folk I really care about, all that extended off- and online family, know that the day had arrived. A lot cheaper than the mobile phone.

Flickr Flickr
With one aunt in Spain, the other in Kenya, one grandma in France, and various McIntoshes scattered throughout the UK, the most important thing has been photos. People want to see the weeyin as soon as possible. We want her to be 'safe' online. While posting a few photos to the general public is pretty harmful harmless, most are posted to Friends and/or Family on Flickr.com, the photo-sharing site.

I had to remember to double-check who was a friend and who was not, and do some shifting over of people who were once just random Contacts into the Friends category. Some friends had to take the jump and sign up, too, or not see anything. But by and large it's been the biggest thing for colleagues in the school to keep in touch with mum while she's been at home.

It's also nice to see the shots others grab - otherwise it looks like Catriona is from a single-parent family, with dad behind the camera all the time. Make sure you ask your relatives to tag their photos with the baby's tag: catrionamcintosh, like mum did with the one at the top of this post. It also helps if people create a wee set for the wee person.

If you're feeling altruistic you can also give some tips based on what you've learned at 2am when she's doing what babies do, all at once - a small Flickr explanation of getting your changing area prepared.

Kayleigh The Dirty Diaper Diaries
Andy Carvin's wife and daughter Kayleigh produce some fantastic video blogs to help you with those things that no-one ever tells you about. Taking a five-week baby to New Zealand I can't express how grateful we are for such wonders as Air Travel with Baby and Diaper Change In The Sky.

This isn't any old baby advice site - it's run by midwives across the UK. If you can't find the answer to your question on there then you can ask it and have it answered in double-quick time. Importantly, you have some reassurance on the quality of the advice here.

Baby_names Baby Name Wizard
We knew we were having a 'she' and that it would be called Catriona, a necessary scientific intervention if you want to order plane tickets for an unborn child. If you aren't so sure though you don't get much time to decide - 21 days after the birth of your child the police and social work department will be knocking at your door with some cuffs if you haven't managed to register the birth of your child. Baby Name Wizard is an amazing app that shows you the development of certain names over time from 1880 to the current day. No-one, apparently, is called Catriona in the USA.

Bugaboo Daytrips
We're traveling a fair bit with this one over the next few months: Auckland, Christchurch, Amsterdam, London, Paris... Although you might know these cities for your average pleasant stroll, when you're with a stroller you need to think again - cobbles, narrow pavements, steep hills, they're not fun with a pram. Bugaboo give you some 3D and 2D itineraries to keep baby, stroller and parents happy. I'll be adding my own New Zealand ones there soon.

The domain name speaks for itself - run a search for baby or vomit or whatever you're looking for and they will tell you what to clean it with.

Get that domain name
Finally, thanks to Mark P. of Coffee Break Spanish and TwitterLearn fame for grabbing CatrionaMcIntosh.com and putting up something pretty. He and his family also sent over some beautiful clothes and a toy to keep bub amused during those nappy changes.

Anything I've missed? Any top tips from other mums and dads out there? Here's my contribution, but this may be the last baby post on this blog, so take your chances now!

August 18, 2007

Freeing up educational data

Scotblogmap Stuart Meldrum had a great idea back in April. When new Scottish teachers are guaranteed a job in any one of five chosen Local Authorities you can still end up anywhere from the furthest flung island to the centre of the Capital. What was needed was a quick way to see exactly how far you could end up having to move. Cue Google Maps and some overlay magic.

Stuart's first draft covered his own five possible Authorities. It got me thinking that there must be a database of information that could be manipulated. This week I made the first moves to getting that information from the Content Management System where it lives converted into something usable (Excel), split it into nursery, primary, secondary and special school stages, to then upload it to Google Maps in these batches and pop it into colour-coded-by Authority stages. Rather than use the mass upload generator I'd hope to do this as if each Local Authority was what Google Maps would call a 'business', and therefore they could appear in different colours for ease of browsing, be turned on and off depending on where you want to search, contain video and web links to material LTS or bloggers have published about those places.

What it means
The result will be something that suits lots of different purposes and a dataset that can then be exploited in other ways. For example, at LTS we are about to make public a responsive XML database of educational bloggers in the country, one that will constantly update with the ebb and flow of writers and sharers, which could be cross-linked to the data on school establishments. The result would be similar to what Jim has started already on Google Maps but the difference being this: as bloggers change profile or school, or as schools close down, so does their place on the map, dynamically.

A couple of pains-in-the-neck: Google Maps are not, yet, shareable in real time, in the same way as Google Documents and Spreadsheets. We can share finalised datasets but not have other people working collaboratively to stitch this altogether (there's at least 96 data sets to upload to Google Maps for starters). It also means that people have to check that they have the right, most up-to-date dataset by checking a blog first, rather than just opening one master map which is kept up-to-date by the agency which can track all changes across the country, i.e. LTS. However, I shudder words like 'master' and 'centralised' and would much rather have it a collaborative wiki-ised Google Map. One day, maybe...

By releasing the data as soon as we can, at least, it means that people can start personalising their maps and creating new uses and ideas form it, more than one organisation could ever come up with.

July 26, 2007

More thoughts on using social media in business

I'm spending a day with some folk from Scottish Enterprise, Scotland's highly successful economic development agency. We're taking a look at how some of the older ideas I've been developing on social media for small, medium and large companies might work north of the Border. I'll be keen to see if we can maybe develop some new innovative ideas on making these tools work harder for Scottish enterprises.

July 11, 2007

The World To Come? I hope not

  Information Overload 
  Originally uploaded by jallen "To Be" dragonhide

I got a new Flickr contact request this evening from Bulgaria. Dimitar's profile is, I believe, intended to impress and I don't want this to come over as too much of a criticism of him, but it frightened me, and I'd love to know how he copes. The fact his blog is called The World 2 Come is really the part where I began to wonder if this really is a picture of the future or not:

Knowledge is my passion. I track 9,414 RSS feeds, 1,000 Orkut & Joga communities, 568 YouTube subscriptions, 634 MySpace groups, 5,254 del.icio.us bookmarks, 200 Facebook groups, 1,107 MyBlogLog
communities, 465 LiveJournal communities and many other sources.

My interests: digital media, internet marketing, blogging, books,
video, photography, information research, search, social software,
knowledge management tools, podcasting, real estate, property,
outsourcing, Bulgaria, Europe, IT, investments, stocks.

While I have admiration for his sticking power I do wonder how much we can really get out of technology by spending so much time in it. And keeping track of all these, with any worth at all to come out of them, requires a lot of time. I'm tracking nearly 800 blogs and around 140 Facebookers because it's a big part of my job and a great way to keep in touch with far flung friends.

But where, in his interests, are the Italian restaurants and French wine, or crime novels and walks by the river (some of my own favs)? And is tracking all this 'knowledge' actually making us any wiser? Not if we don't have downtime to consider it, synthesise and re-share.

Surely, to get the most out of social media, we have to have a bit more F2F socialising than this in our lives, too.

June 30, 2007

Hans Rosling tells the bare truth about the world today

Hans Rosling has come back to TED to offer some updated insights to the world as it stands today using his superb visualisations of United Nations data. Just one thing, make sure you watch until the end. The very end.

May 03, 2007

Where have I been? Now on MyMaps and GoogleEarth

Ewan_mymap I'm sick today.

A chest infection that, in English, makes me sound like a Glasgow hardman, 60-a-day, ready to break your neck with just a flick of my pinkie, and which, in French, makes me sound like a film star from the nouvelle vague. I'm just relieved that tomorrow's speaking engagement is only 30 minutes long and that I can then spend the rest of the day eating and drinking silently to celebrate the retirement of Professor Dick Johnstone, the man who really opened the first vital door to me having the best job I could imagine.

From my sickbed (wifi is useful for this) I've finally been getting round to having a good play with Google's MyMaps. What I hadn't realised was that it automatically creates KML files which you can then click to launch exciting overlays in GoogleEarth.

KML files, for those who don't know, are small files which create different ways to view the earth through Google Earth, the amazing application on your desktop which, for free, brings the planet alive.

With this in mind, my first effort seems a little tame: a world map of where I've been recently and where I'll be heading later this year. If I start putting in some photos and videos from past dates this could be quite entertaining, for me at least.

At the beginning of the week, when I was showing some of our East Lothian teachers the power of just searching in Google with the additional word "kml" and/or "kmz", they were amazed at what they could find:

I just didn't realise at the time how easy it would be for them to create their own overlays of local geography, stories, travel reports from kids' holidays etc... all in wondrous Google Earth 3D, just by plotting images, text or whatever on MyMaps first!

How can this be useful?
This could be used for creating tours that match a project the students are doing, to show your worldwide visits or country research. It could map out every Scottish school (something that's on the list for someone to do if someone out there doesn't do it first ;-)). If you're an organisation with links or clients all over the place you could help them see your global reach that much clearer and in a more realistic way by using video and images from their locations to bring Google Earth alive with your organisation's activities.

In the meantime, welcome to my current world through the goggles of my Speaking MyMap and the accompanying mcintosh_on_social_media.kml if you have GoogleEarth installed.

April 26, 2007

Seven ways to avoid pain while you train - Paul Clothier

Paul Clothier is a training guru from England via the States and is presenting just before me at the Irish Computer Society's 10th Annual Conference. He's providing seven things that trainers need to bear in mind to "train without pain". I've been up since 5am and blogging will keep me from glazing over - he's also got some great repartie, so here goes...

  1. Know your stuff
    "If you don't know your stuff then you can't teach". It's an obvious point in the traditional trainer mentality, but proves problematic in a technology world when you don't know what's going to be coming around the corner. We've never known, but now the gaps between innovations are lasting days, not years. It seems obvious, but maybe there's a halfway house between this statement and the ability not to be afraid of not knowing. Being the trainer in an ICT class is not all about imparting knowledge. His next point begins to address this...
  2. Teach less
    Paul suggests being 'a guide on the side' instead of the "sage of the stage" (don't spend to much time in front of the class because the class will start to think you're a pain in the... ;-). Make them teach what they find out, facilitate and coach, find out what they want to learn, interact more, ask questions all the time (although ask the right ones and persevere when the learner doesn't want to think)... This last point is something that trainers feel more than others since "that's what we pay them to do - tell me how, don't ask me how"). No-one's suggested empowering learners with their own, longer term projects containing many aims instead of working on exercises from one unit test to another. I'm happy about that - it's what I'm talking about to some degree.
  3. Be Flexible
    When things don't go right you need to be more flexible to be able to move on. For classroom teachers this is a given. For trainers with an app to teach it might actually be more tricky to do this. Makes me think of teaching blogs and RSS with string when you have no computers (was that Darren or Miguel?).
  4. Be yourself
    Don't know the answer when it comes to technology? Say so. Get it on the feedback form so that you have a reminder to look it up.
  5. Own the room
    He's saying that the trainer needs to be assertive (making the students turn off their phones? - maybe a mislaid example, IMO). But his essence is that with adult trainers there can be situations where the learners want to lead the pace and direction. Is that wrong? He's making the comparison between an airline pilot (who wouldn't ask the cabin where he was to fly) with a trainer. But I think the trainer might well ask where the lesson should be going next, where they've been and how long it might take them to get there.
  6. Focus
    This is a bit of rant against mobile phones again, against multitasking. What of Prensky's research summary showing that kids' brains are actually evolving to be able to multitask better than their ancestors. What will our learners of the future (and our trainers of the future) make of concentrating on one thing at a time?
  7. Don't take it personally
    Evaluations at the end of courses, if they've not gone very well, can be uncomfortable. "Difficult learners" can leave you feeling down-trodden and not wanting to teach them any more. Again, if you've taught in a High School this is a skill you learn fast just to survive. Good, all the same, to be reminded of it.
    IMO, it's great when participants are given the chance to comment on the trainer, separately from the course, so that they themselves can make the distinction between the nature of the course (learning to set up a blog is pretty dull) and the trainer (who can be brill and make a dull thing less boring).
    There's also the experience I had this last weekend - the student who looks miserable for two hours and then tells you it's the best course they've ever been on. Eh? Frustrating but true.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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