24 Learning: July 2007

24 Learning

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Interesting Experience Today

I have just realised today how much my world has changed. I was reading my bloglines feeds and there was a post from Chris about looking for a laptop cart. I remember doing similar research myself a few years ago and thought "Oh, I can help you out". Without reading the rest of the post I jumped around and found the link to the company we bought our trolley from and then tried to post it as a comment in Chris's blog. First I had to be a member and login to leave a comment. Mmmm. Then I searched for an email address on his blog. Mmmmmm! Then I gave up and went back to the blog entry (dated today) to discover he has actually already resolved the issue (obviously ages ago because he bought trolleys in Hong Kong). Why? I'm confused? If it was me I would add a couple of things to his list of lessons learned.

1. People are reading your stuff... If you have a question, blog about it. There are people all over the world willing to help.
2. Open up your comments so that people can contribute. I was willing to make a connection here but after searching for a way and not finding it easily, I gave up.

Obviously I have too much time on hands. I'll now go back to marking.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Do we place little value on software

Reading Wesley Fryers blog today and he had a posting about free software. I posted a response with some suggestions but was halted by Gary Stagers reply.

" Why is software so devalued that a growing number of people believe it should be free?

Balls and playground equipment are not free. Hardware is not free. Spelling books and standardized tests are not free.
Why not have free teachers? You could all work voluntarily.
Is the quest for free software rooted in the low self-image of educators? Why should teachers depend on charity?
It all seems sad and symptomatic of powerlessness to me."

I actually had to agree with Gary on this one. What are your thoughts on this? Are we too preoccupied with free software?

Speaking of free software this is a cool looking alternative to garageband. Not as easy to use but hey! Free.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


This is a little add on for firefox that works a bit like snapshots. I've just downloaded it and now both snapshots and Interclue are working on my page. That could get a bit nasty but it is worth having a look at. This apparently is a Christchurch company so there is nothing like supporting the home team. They aren't the only team on the block though.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sound snap

I have played in the past with garageband and superduper music looper but this is a new take that might be useful. I downloaded a few loops and created a simple tune in audacity. The next step is to try this in Acid Xpress.
Good fun. I love playing with this stuff.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Very Funny

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This presentation is inspiring. This is what I want to achieve with the kids I am working with. Dr Tim Tyson from Maybury school speaks about children making a difference. He shows a number of examples of student movies and discusses the level of motivation of the children. Well worth viewing.

This is worth sharing. I wonder if my class will get the irony? You'd hope so!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Thanks to Vicki Davis for the heads up on this cool web tool. It is a dictionary that displays associated words in a visual map.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sian's Podcast

This is my four year old. She wanted to do this. It will be interesting to see if she continues with this. I am truly just the facilitator.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I'm procrastinating here

I'm supposed to be completing an assignment but avoiding it with lots of web browsing and video watching. Here are a couple of fun things I've come across that are worth sharing. For a year or two now I have been getting a weekly science email from CSIRO

This contains all sorts of interesting stuff. This week's email has two completely unrelated items that caught my eye. The first was a fascinating article about the statistical relevance of success related to the first letter of your surname.

News: The surname study
by Richard Wiseman (touring Australia for National Science Week)

Easy as a, b, c: can your name really affect your life? As contrived - or cruel - as the names Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz might be, the happiness of the Beckham boys could be salvaged by their surname. Not, as you might think, because it's a famous name; if their father had been called David Wickham things could have been quite different.

More than 15 000 people have taken part in a unique experiment to explore whether your surname influences your life. The results yielded a fascinating insight into an up until now hidden aspect of the human psyche. I wanted to know if people who had a surname that began with a letter near the start of the alphabet were more successful in life than those with names towards the end. In short, are the Abbots and Adams of the world likely to do better than the Youngs and the Yorks?

Past research gave me good reason to think so. Last year, American economists Liran Einav and Leeat Yariv analysed the surnames of economics' academics working at US universities. They found those with initials early in the alphabet were more likely to be in the best-rated departments, achieve other measures of ‘success' or even win a Nobel Prize.

Publishing their findings in The Journal of Economic Perspectives, they argued such "alphabetical discrimination" was probably due to the convention of listing authors of academic journal papers in alphabetical order, resulting in professors with surnames towards the start of the alphabet appearing to be more prominent in their field than their alphabetically challenged peers.

I wondered whether the same effect might apply outside the world of economics. After all, whether it is on a school register, at a job interview, or in the exam hall, people with surnames towards the start of the alphabet are used to being first.

Given that we often associate the top of a list with winners and the bottom with losers, could all of these small experiences add up and make a long-term impact on someone's life?

Everyone participating in the Surname experiment was asked to indicate their sex, age, surname and rate how successful they had been in various aspects of their life, such as their health, finances, career, and "life in general". Scores in all these categories were added up to obtain an overall "measure of success".

The results revealed that readers whose surnames began with letters at the beginning of the alphabet did indeed rate themselves as significantly more successful overall than those with surnames starting with lowly, end-of-the-alphabet initials.

The surname effect was especially pronounced when it came to career, suggesting alphabetical discrimination was alive and well in the workplace. Interestingly, the effect was also more visible in men than in women. This may, of course, reflect the fact that many women change their surname when they marry. Perhaps women who are considering whether to adopt their husband's surname should take into account the alphabetical implications - or choose a real Alpha-male in the first place.
What might account for this seemingly strange effect? One pattern in the data provided an important clue.

The surname effect became more pronounced in older age groups, suggesting it was not due to childhood experiences, but rather it built up gradually during our lives. It seems that constant exposure to being at the top or bottom of the alphabet league - the A-list or the Z-list - slowly makes an impact on the way in which people see themselves.

So should these results give those whose surname initial falls towards the end of the alphabet cause for concern? Well, as a Wiseman, and therefore someone with a lifetime's experience of coming towards the bottom of alphabetical lists, I take some comfort from the fact that the effect is very small. Then again, when you look at some of the best-known people around today – Crowe, Blair, Bush, Branson - it does make me wonder.

As a Wilkinson this concerns me. :) I wonder should I start taking the register in the morning starting from the bottom of the page? Fascinating. I might get my class to explore this issue. The possibilities for statistical analysis based on children's passions is boundless. Get them to explore the surnames of All Blacks, Pop Stars, Movie Stars, Olympic Champions etc whatever they are into.

The second thing that has distracted me from my assignment (apart from blogging) is a series of high speed videos.