Friday, 13 July 2007


I have spent the most of my holidays so far reading up on and playing around with blogging (and learning a bit of XHTML into the bargain. Thought I better get to grips with it as I am going to be introducing it to the NC group in the new academic year.


Some of the blogs out there are really fascinating and I have really been enjoying the education ones, although I don't always agree with what they say. I've covered everything from education to cookery (one covering both which is excellent), fishing to tv programmes, and farming to music (actually found one that had several of our past HNC Music students on it). Some are poor and boring, some are good, and some are excellent!

I created another blog (my life with the air cadets) as it gave me more scope to play around and indeed it is something which I am passionate about so there is lots to be said. I know, I can hear you saying "you're never shot of words"! One of the tips I have picked up is not to be worried about what other people think but this is an area I am struggling with.

The Air Cadet guidelines in terms of what is and what isn't acceptable are very tight and although this is a personal blog, anything I say, that falls outwith the guidelines, could be deemed as inappropriate from an officer. Basically, anything we do in our lives outwith the Air Cadets should not bring the organisation into disrepute. So no murdering, drug dealing or topless modelling then - damn! I guess this is pretty similar to the 'Code of Conduct' that we keep hearing about at the college. It is about protecting the organisation from the stupidities of individuals.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Web 2.0 - A good introduction

This is a really good intro to what Web 2.0 is all about. Pretty sure I will use this when delivering the Weblogging unit next semester.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

SQA Computing Showcase Event

Les, Carol and myself all attended the Showcase Event. It was very informative and worthwhile. It also gave us the chance to catch up with Deryk Nutley about the Microsoft Academy and the problems we have been having with Virtual PC. Hopefully his input now means that this issue will be resolved. Carol and Les are going to be working on this over the summer.

I particulary enjoyed the session with Mike Janetta about what is planned in terms of National Progression Awards, but the one that was of most interest to me was the Adobe session given by Anuja Dharkar from Adobe in the USA. Her presentation was excellent and it gave me real food for thought. I think some of the Adobe qualfications could tie in really well with the equipment we are going to receive as part of the Highland Lives project. I could see the whole, sound, animation, video as a real attraction, particularly for school kids.

Excellent day, and we got to have tapas the night before! When we left Glasgow though, the weather was terrible, I could hardly see 3 feet in front of the car for the rain. That's the west coast for you!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Summer Time!

Only 2 more days to go, and we are away for both of them! Yipee!

We've had a big clear out her in Thurso and moved desks into the bargain. Can you believe we were throwing stuff out from the early 90's - little wonder we had no space to move! I will be good to come back to a clear and tidy desk, although I guess by the time we get bag there will be plenty stacked up to great us.

Looking forward to the SQA Showcase Event, should be informative and again build up a bit of networking.

Happy holidays everyone.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

UHI Computing Subject Network Development

Well, Thursday/Friday saw Les and I attending the UHI Computing Subject Network Development days. It was very useful and things were actually achieved.

We now have a Shared Area for resources (although we in Thurso can't access it yet for some reason) and this will also be used for cross network verification purposes. I agreed to be the Unit Leader for the Software Development: Event Driven Programming unit, but that should be a relatively straightforward task as it is only Orkney and ourselves that deliver it. Carol, I think I volunteered you for something but I can't remember what is was. Ooops! I will check this out with Val and get a copy of the agreed list from her as we can't access it in the shared area yet.

Also got the opportunity to speak with some of the rest about the NC Digital Media and got a few ideas/pointers and suggestions for it. Chatted with Darryl from Moray who has come from a Software Development background and he put my mind at rest that what I am doing with the Software Development unit is valid. Hoping he might be able to provide me with some examples of 'real' documentation to use as examples in class - that would be really good.

We had a great night out at the Indian and there was lots of hilarity and fun. The bars shut awfully early in Elgin though and we were all tucked up in our beddie byes by 12.30am.

The Perth guys are going to the SQA day next week but aren't staying over - pity. Derek did however suggest that we get together for lunch. I said we were up for that of course! Nobody else appeared to be attending so looks like we will be making our own fun on Thursday night - Ikea here were come!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Treasure Hunts & Web Quests

Well today it was staff development in creating Treasure Hunts & Web Quests. Nothing technically difficult, especially for us computing bods, but good ideas and templates to help us on our way. Of course, the key thing was the time to play around with them and find new resources to use with them.

Treasure Hunts being an excellent tool to guide your students through a maze of sites, gathering information along the way. The addition of a list of resources (links to the sites used in the Treasure Hunt) making it easy to check they are all still active and valid. Could see some real uses for this, especially at NC and Non-Voc level. I also like the idea of getting the students to create these as a formative assessment method, which we could then use as a resource in future years.

Web Quests again an excellent tool to get the students working in teams and by using something like blogging or wikis, collaborating online. This one has real potential for use with project work, team work and graded units. I think this could be a really good one for ITAS 1, which would make it very innovative and fun. Again, why not get the students to create some as a means of formative assessment.

In addition we were given some pointers to other resources to use.

Favourites From Anywhere at -
Digital Photo & Media Sharing at Flickr -
Free Digital Media at MorgueFile -

Happy browsing!!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Innovative Assessment

My goodness, how time passes. I can't believe it is a month since I created this blog and made the one and only post.

I have been thinking about assessment and how to make it more enjoyable for the students. Anne suggested that it is pretty boring for the students to be continually presented with the same sort of "write a report on ..." or "answer these questions" type assessment and of course, she is absolutely correct. But how do we achieve more interesting assessments and still meet the requirements of awarding bodies?

Could we ask students to create (and deliver) a presentation about the 'fetch execute cycle' for instance? This would not only be assessing their knowledge but also developing their core skills. Why not? Do you think we could use blogs, podcasts or wikis for assessment purposes? That would certainly be different.

Les showed me a good quote yesterday which was along the lines of "tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand". He then added "could we get the students involved in how they should be assessed". An interesting thought! Would they better appreciate what it is they are trying to demonstrate if they had to think about how they could 'prove' their knowledge? I think perhaps they would!

Friday, 27 April 2007

New Blog for Computing at NHC

I attended a subject network meeting today and one of the papers was about blogs. This site is free and seems to be very easy to use. Thought we could maybe use it with our students - maybe get them to post "What I learnt today". All thoughts greatfully received.