Creativity in Learning with ICT


Today I visited the home of Gillingham FC to present to an audience of teachers about creative learning with ICT, and how creativity can be part of the curriculum in their schools. This was an event organised by Kent CC, with keynote speaker David Hargreaves running the main sessions. My part was a workshop/breakout group with two sessions of about 40 people in each.

I was supported by Joe Moretti, an Apple Distinguished Educator from the West Country (heck of a journey) and Lara McDonald from the Apple Education team. Joe provided a number of MacBooks for the participants to use, plus his expertise in using the software, whilst Lara supported throughout the day helping users get the most from the kit. With this kind of support the day was only ever going to be good – my thanks to both for coming such a long way each to be part of the day.
I had a whole presentation planned but quickly left it behind as the interactive session ebbed and flowed along a number of lines and a rigid presentation wasn’t going to meet their needs.

We spent a good deal of time talking about learning, creativity and opportunities, and approached ideas of how we can move beyond the state of inertia that sometimes dominates schools when they need to move forward with ICT. We looked at the Chafford Hundred system (Chafford Hundred were also presenting, oddly enough) of using small portable devices instead of using larger laptops, and spent a few moments considering the impact that a device such as the iPhone is going to have on schools… well, those that don’t automatically ban them or discount them out of hand as being a nuisance in lessons (yes, there were some people who thought those thoughts in my session today).

We also used iStopMotion to investigate the processes learners go through when presented with a new situation – how their attitude and desire to talk about their learning comes to the fore – just as it does for children. I’m not convinced this message was as strong as it could have been, but in the limited time that we had (just 1.5 hrs per session) it was enough to broach the subject, I feel.

I also demonstrated the wonderful Chromatte system from Reflecmedia – this never fails to impress! The kit allows you to have any background you want and video yourself in front of it – there are so many possibilities for education I hardly know where to start… The idea was to have the simple animations on the screen and have the teams who made them talk about the process they went through. Time was against us, and it turned into a simple demo of the equipment with a good discussion of how it could be used.

I ran Alex Blanc’s brilliant ‘SMS Stickies’ application which uses Tim Ellis’s excellent Cocoa UltraSMS software. The basic principle is that Cocoa UltraSMS links to a bluetooth enabled mobile phone and extracts the SMS content into a MySQL database (in this case on my laptop). SMS Stickies then interfaces with the database to extract the information and present it on a web page – this means the audience can SMS in a comment and have it appear on the screen as the presenter is talking, or prefix their SMS with a code so that when it appears it is coloured to match a certain criteria – which is how I used it today.

There was a heck of a lot to go through and we only really touched on many things instead of explore few in depth, but I hope it was enough to wake up some taste buds for creative approaches to learning using ICT. As ever, I am happy to follow this work up with a personal visit to a school to explore how we could continue to work together., booking a last minute hotel room

I recently went to Rome for three days and unbelievably didn’t book a hotel room until about five hours before the flight. Normally I am fairly good at sorting things like this out well in advance, but on this occasion it just wasn’t possible.

So I was recommended a visit to which turns out to be a gold mine of information (thanks Matt)! As a visitor to the site you simply put in the country and area you wish to visit – I entered ‘Trevi, Rome’ and got a long, long list of al the available rooms I could book. Narrowing all this down took a while, not because the site’s filters are no good, but because I didn’t really know where I wanted to stay or at what kind of hotel. I managed to get it to about five choices, and then went simply for location.

Not ever having stayed in Rome before I wasn’t sure what to expect from the area I had selected – it was within walking distance of the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Colosseum and many more sights, and had a metro stop very close by as well for those trips further afield.

It turned out to be a very good choice! The Hotel St, Moritz is certainly not going to win awards for splendour or sophistication, but you couldn’t want for a more friendly staff (all spoke good English) and the accommodation was perfectly good enough. The hotel itself is located on Vai Nazionale – a fairly main road in Central Rome, and to find the hotel means going through a set of solid wooden doors, ascending two flights of stairs and going through a door… all a bit different to any other hotel I have ever stayed at.

Nonetheless, despite not having a luxurious bar or dining room, this hotel was ideally located and gave us exactly what we needed – a base to explore from. On the last day in Rome we were not due to fly out until 9pm, which would normally mean checking out of the hotel and wandering around with luggage for hours on end. However, the hotel were able to look after our bags for us until we returned at about 6pm, whereupon they kindly booked us a taxi to the airport. This kind of personal service is probably available from lots of places, but it was unexpected and we were very pleased to be offered it.

So, would I use the hotel again? On balance, it was well located, had friendly staff, the rooms were clean and tidy, it was peaceful and had good service. The breakfasts were basic and there were no real facilities to mention, but yes – it is worth going back to if you want to explore Rome. If you want a luxury hotel with bars and restaurants, etc, then don’t look here – but *do* spend some time on the web site!

As a sample of what Rome contains, here is a web gallery of a few images I took whilst there. Note the weather on the first two days was really, really good – hot enough for T-shirts, certainly! In fact, I almost got sunburn whilst sitting at a cafe outside the Pantheon. Day three was a different matter, a lot wetter, but no less fun all the same!

Underground signs, Subway signs

OK – this has got to be blogged. I saw this on a recent tube journey and not for the first time wondered who agreed that it was a good sign to put up in a tube train. I mean, if you saw the stuff going on and left the train to call for help, the train would have gone by the time you got back from the phone… and who has a mobile that works in the tunnels? I mean, for goodness sake – they might as well ask you to post a letter about it for the good it would do…

tube sign So let’s say it *is* an emergency. Have you ever tried ringing 999 from the underground?

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

What a journey in to work today! Four or five inches of snow and skidding all over the road was actually quite fun – at 20mph tops! I have always enjoyed the snow fall when it happens, but I remember as a child getting tired of it pretty quickly when it started to turn to slush and then freeze into large blocks of hard ice… I hope it stays white and fluffy until it disappears 🙂

So, here is what I saw when I got to work:

Cleveratom office block in the snow
And by lunchtime the car park had begun to turn to slush with all of the traffic… and school children making snowmen (nearly every school has been closed due to the weather today):

Cleveratom car park image

Quite a sight for a warming globe 😉

Cleveratom website gets a make-over

cleveratom web site designAs a company, Cleveratom has been trading for six weeks getting to grips with small business accounting, VAT returns, business insurances and indemnities, employer’s responsibilities and lots more… in between actually managing projects with a number of clients. Today, however, we’re finally able to get some more information on to our web page. It still isn’t complete, and there are lots of sections to add on different pages, but for now it shows the main information to anyone who wishes to read it.

The web design has been done ‘in house’ by Alex Blanc using CSS templates. The front page will eventually be more dynamic as RSS feeds from various web sites (including this blog) are added to it. As you will see, the code for the page is very straight forward, it’s the CSS which does all the work.

The site is optimised for slightly larger screen sizes (1024×768) as we believe that it is time to move on from being locked to 800×600 resolutions! We ran a survey of screen resolutions on a number of different web sites of ours, and found that an increasingly small percentage of viewers are using low resolution – most are at least at 1024×768 now, and many are far higher. Google analytics is extremely useful in finding this information, as is Sitemeter, which gives a number of excellent web site tracking tools.
Head over to the Cleveratom site now and see what you think!