Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dingo Dreaming

To source the leadership style of the wily dingo we need to first go to the dreaming ...

A lead dingo is loyal & protective of those who adopt her -- so does not always take the alpha role.
Many other things, like survival skills, can be learned from the dingo.
If you're not the lead dingo mate, you're a drongo!

Recording presentations

There seems to be a developing (or established) expectation in CSLLD that eLearning entails getting handouts and readings online, recording face to face presentations, and hosting online discussion forums. Hopefully we can move our creative imagination toward the ideas that the online learning environment is quite different to face to face, and simply replicating face to face formats into an online environment will not result in much progress toward new and effective practices.

That said, I was asked to record Glen Speering's talk about research, that he gave to the Preparation for School Leadership participants. Our wireless lapel microphone broke a few days prior, and the video cameras we have access to are either cumbersome and complex, not available when we need it, or not up to the task of recording good picture in situations of poor lighting. These all-too-familiar limitations of shared specialist equipment was a blessing in disguise for me though, as I was able to somewhat demonstrate more DIY techniques that I hope the presenters themselves will learn to do.


To produce a record of Glen's presentation, in a range of media so that people wanting access to the recordings have options according to their bandwidth and preference of use. Ie. a video file, an audio file, the presentation, a photo, and published on a popular publishing service (Youtube) and backed up on a reliable archive service (

The method:

  1. Before the day of the presentation I asked Glen to wear a shirt with a top pocket and a collar. 
  2. A moment before the presentation, I dropped my smartphone in his top pocket with the audio recorder going, and wrapped the headphones under his collar so that the microphone was close to his neck.
  3. While Glen was talking, I used my tablet to take a photo of him talking.
  4. At the end of his talk I "shared" the recording and photos to my Google Drive, using the Google Drive App.
  5. When I arrived back at the office, I asked Glen to share his slides with me on Google Docs. Unfortunately he created the slides with Microsoft Powerpoint, using presentation features that needed correction in Google Docs.
  6. After I had corrected the presentation in Google Docs, I exported each slide as an image file, creating an image stack.
  7. I imported that stack into Windows Live Movie Maker.
  8. The audio file format recorded by my phone (3GA) isn't recognised by Windows Movie Maker, so I used SuperC to change the format to WAV.
  9. After importing the WAV audio file to the video editor, I then matched each slide image to the audio by adjusting the duration of each slide.
  10. I then exported the video to Window's movie file (WMV) and uploaded it to Youtube, assiging a Creative Commons Attribution copyright license.
  11. I also then uploaded the video, the audio, the presentation and the photo file to, where they would be copied into open standard formats, and links would be available for each of the files to be downloaded from any other site. (Emma had to upload to Archive for me actually, because she is on CDU Network while I'm on NTG DET where the network settings prevent me uploading to Archive).
  12. Finally, I updated the Google Drive folder with the final copies, ready for moving into our local archive on DET shared drives and repositories.


Video on Youtube

Video, audio, presentation and image files, converted to open standard formats, on

MP3 Audio File (10 Meg)
Ogg Vorbis Audio File (4 Meg)
Windows Media Video file (43 Meg)
H264 MP4 Video File (28 Meg)
Ogg Theora video file (60 Meg)
PDF (165K)
JPEGs and Animated GIF video previews also available


It seems like a lot of work, but really, its less than if we used a professional camera and microphone. The recorder is in our pocket anyway, and the other tools are freely available to us wherever we may be, also making the method replicable. The real issue in my mind, is how to get us thinking creatively within these limitations. Low bandwidth, short attention spans when online, flexibility and re-usability, accessibility, and good practice in terms of simple replicable production, with good backup, and archival to open standard formats.

Country Lines Archive

Jon and I just attended a presentation by John Bradley about his team's work in recreating Indigenous song lines and stories into 3D animations, as an effort to encourage the retention, sharing and inheritance of language and culture.
Aim:To Assist Indigenous Australian communities in the animation of stories that combine their history, knowledge, poetry, songs, performance and language to provide material for Elders and younger generations to sit together and share knowledge

You can view the animations at the Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Google Knowledge Graph

Looks like yet another Google Search service:!/2012/05/introducing-knowledge-graph-things-not.html

But it's still about things (WHAT), people (WHO) or places (WHERE)  -- not a lot different to the ManagedQ service

 They need to talk to me  :-)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Putting this here as a place-holder. It seems we spend a lot of time on email to line-up a suitable time for meetings & events before locking them in to the calendar. There's lots of systems around that could help us, like Doodle. The free versions of these services come with pop-up ads while the subscription services are around $1.50 day for 20 users. Doodle integrates fully with Google & Outlook, so we could think about whether we can do something similar without the cost. But then again, it's not a big cost!

Progress on the investigation

Our investigation into how we might manage documents, workflow and communications, is making good progress. You can see an early draft of our report here:

Which way forward for document handling, workflow and communications at CSLLD?

We still need to do a better job at understanding where DET and CDU are going in this space.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Outlook & GMail

One of the tasks I've been looking into is how to use Outlook as a client for GMail. There's plenty of guidance available on the Web but, so far, there seems to be proxy/firewall settings that are thwarting the process. Next week we will try to do this by accessing a different wireless network. I will try this at home as well.

Related to this task is also the broader workflow that involves calendar syncing & the exchange of contacts between both platforms. Again, there seems to be solutions available:

If this can be achieved & then replicated for otheres without too much disruption it will provide a solid base for a migration path into the broader suite of Google Apps.

CSLLD Email and managing multiple accounts

We've taken the domain and used it to open a Google Apps Education account. People in CSLLD now have email, calendars, web based document authoring and storage (cloud computing), websites, blogs, Youtube channels, a networking platform, video conferencing, RSS Reader, and more... but some people in CSLLD already have a Google account, and so are already using a number of these services, just not under a identity.

Having to share the same platform (Google) for a work identity and a non-work identity is pretty hairy. You can use the Add Account feature that Google set up a while back, or try one of 5 Ways to Switch Between Multiple User Accounts in Firefox and Chrome. But Google services on the mobile remain a bit of a problem, in particular Google+. I guess we just have to wait and see on that front. Our gun Emma is looking for a solution.

Youtube Videos started uploading today

Hey guys, I started uploading Youtube videos today, here is the first, you can see my channel here

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Badging PD

I'm keen to take up the Mozilla Open Badging project, and use it to develop a badging system for professional learning by CSLLD staff who engage us in learning about Internet stuff. A good friend over in Vancouver has been looking into this for a number of months now, and I reckon he'd support us a bit into such a space.

Badges, I reckon most people cringe, but secretly love em. I'm hoping it could be a way for us to make the rewards for learning stuff more tangible, and a little more fun. Importantly though, badges can help us get a quick picture on what do and don't know (roughly), and in the not-too-distant future, the badges might have some international currency if Mozilla get their way...

openMatt gives a good run down... and more lately, here.

If we're going to roll out some new approaches to CSLLD activities, we're going to need to offer a range of support, from informal and impromptu, to more formal regular show, tell and show back type sessions. I wrote this PD idea activity into our interim plan:

  1. Prepare a professional development program for CSLLD staff, to establish and maintain critical digital literacies in their work, develop improved workflow management and efficiencies, and begin developing a strong professional web presence and identity for their CSLLD activities

As yet, there is not a formal professional development program for CSLLD staff to develop skills in contemporary Internet work and associated critical literacies. It is not fully known what skills CSLLD staff already have outside the standard operating environments of the two computing networks that CSLLD staff operate in. Therefore the culture of practice and the possibility for new practices is also not fully known.

Some informal work has begun with some CSLLD staff in addressing immediate needs, understanding wider capabilities, and starting to develop wider understanding of contemporary internet skills and possibilities. This early work has helped us consider this proposal for a professional development program, both to better understand the range of latent skills and awareness of CSLLD staff, and to develop the space where a more informed engagement in possible new practices can take place.

A badging system is proposed, to make the professional development more enjoyable, to offer some structure to the program, and to offer some level of immediate credibility and recognition for the work that has relevance on an international level. Badging will assist in the quick and efficient awareness of the skills that our peers hold, that may have some flow-ons to career development and motivation. The badging system will be aligned with the Mozilla Open Badges project.

This task is to be ready and operational by May 2012.

Open Data
(don't forget to always check the discussion page on a wiki)
The Open Data project has begun. It is a small research project for the Institute of Metadata Management (IMM) who want us to compile a list of 10-15 open data projects that captures the breadth of work going on. Kathryn in the project lead, with Leigh, Glen and Jon doing the grunt work ;) actually, we're hoping to recruit the help of volunteers into that grunt work, and that's why we've set up on Wikibooks - as well as being true to the theme of openness of course!

We're into stage 1. Creating an draft list for feedback and comment.

What we document

I guess you've already worked out, I'm a fan of documentation. Not the dry dusty sort, but just quick notes on the progress of projects, so we and our watchmen know what we're doing and where we generally up to.

So I took on the job of tidying up the labels, so we can link our projects to the list of blog posts that carry the corresponding labels. That's when I saw that we've just about only been documenting our development of websites. This is largely because Emma is so good at documenting her work, and Jon and I are not!

We've almost completed our investigation into Windows Live, Google Apps and Ubuntu, and not a single note appears here on our website. I know that's because we're collaborating on a Google Doc, but it occurs to me now that that Google doc has a bunch of primary notes in it, especially the way Emma has approached the task, that could and probably should appear here on this site, with the time and date stamp corresponding when the notes were done. That way we can link the finished report back to the primary notes that document our efforts.

There are a couple of other projects we haven't kept tabs on. The newly established Open Data project that Jon and I are on (I'll add some notes around that Jon), the Conference Videos and the numerous hurdles we've had to over come in that (all in good time Emma), and the Online Development Plan (my bad).

Anyway, we're all still bedding in a realistic way of working here.. so, these are just some thoughts.

Research site

I was chatting with Glen this morning, who felt that people at CSLLD didn't know what it is he does. I suggested blogging his work, and he seemed pretty enthusiastic about that idea, so I set him up. If you see him around, ask him when the next update is coming.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How Mac killed my inner child

CSLLD Website

New website proposal following CSLLD style guide. Thoughts?

Cultures of Collaboration
Suzie was over today, a little concerned that people in the Centre weren't very aware of what she's been trying to do with the Cultural Action Plan, and Culture of Collaboration, and related activities. To a hammer like me, every problem is a nail, so I suggested she take up this website, and keep it updated with her stories. While it could be a great way to keep everyone informed and updated, I'm not so silly as to think it's as simple as that. Suzie needs to work out if this way of working is for her, and we need to work out if this way of working works for the Centre as a whole. But like they say, we'll never know if we never go.

So if you see Suzie around, make sure you offer her any help she needs to get used to using her new site.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Google sites, no backup?!?!?

Struggling with exporting templates on our Google Site, I stumbled across this post.
It relates to no backup option on Google sites.

Although Google said this was a top priority in 2008 it has yet to be resolved.

The only work around I can find is to copy the site, thereby giving it a new name. This is not a fix, especially as it seems I cannot export templates across different sites, even though I am the author and they are all Google sites. This has resulted in double handling.

It also poses the problem of when I want to make changes on the site, I either have to do it live or do it twice, and without a backup solution this is unacceptable.

So my question to you is, should we be using Google sites? and what, if any are our other options?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Outlines are up

We finished the plain language exercise over the course outlines. Now all the courses have an outline on their sites.

  1. Principal Orientation
  2. Cultures of Collaboration (TBA)
  3. Highly Accomplished Lead Teachers
  4. Early Career Principals
  5. School Leaders in the Making
  6. Arriving in the Territory
  7. Coaching Accreditation Practice
  8. Preparation for School Leadership
  9. Thriving in the Territory

I've just had word that some of the wording is out on these outlines, so we'll probably be redoing these pages. Also, I think we need to review the template to see if we can do better in the L2 and L4 headings.

Have a great long weekend guys.

Gadjets in the design

just been looking at some of the design options in blogger & I'm thinking that the inclusion of gadgets for our sites that deliver some dynamic feeds will be useful. eg., for the Open Data project a Twitter feed for posts that include #opendata

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A problem managing the domain

This issue was solved. Gaining access to the cPanel, and into the CName, solved everything. Jon will prepare a walk though of the process.

We're having issues managing our domain.

The cPanel that our host set up for us, can't be accessed from behind a proxy Internet connection, such as CDU or DET computers. So we'll need to use our private 3G or home internet when mapping the domain and sub domains. But that may not be the end of the issue, because we had someone at our host try to help us set up mapping to a subdomain and we can't seem to work it out!

It should be very straight forward, so hopefully when we get time to access the cPanel ourselves, we'll nut this out.

Drupal or Google Sites

At the moment, we're testing out Google Sites for creating and maintaining the CSLLD website, and we'll compare that experience with the Drupal site that we currently use for the site.


Drupal on Samsung

Drupal site
We like the Drupal site, and the support we get from the host is pretty good, but there are a few issues.

  1. Firstly, the WYSIWIG editor in Drupal is pretty limited. More often than we'd like, we have to revert back to the HTML editor and hand code the page! Not a pleasant experience, especially when it doesn't maintain line breaks and spaces that help us know where in the page we need to edit. 
  2. On more than a few occasions, we have lost large amounts of work when accidently clicking outside the edit box, which closes it, and all work is lost. 
  3. The template used to present the Drupal site has been custom built by Captovate, to a brief given them for another purpose - a site that presents well on iPad. Originally the brief was to create an iPad app, but Captovate quite rightly advised to simply create a Pad ready site. Unfortunately Pad ready is all, smart phones not. Adjusting the template so the site presents well on phones, pads, and larger screens, will cost, because we don't have the know how to do it internally.


It seems that the Google Site solves most of these issues.

  1. Editing the site is easy, because Google Sites is VERY simple (which could be a limiting factor).
  2. It auto saves.
  3. It has ready made Mobile templates.

We haven't really hit any significant limitations in simplicity of the Google Site's functionality as yet, but we're still testing. So far, so good.

An issue to be mindful of is lock in.. so far, we're not sure that we can export the site for backup or migration. Google's other service, Blogger, does give XML export, and it does work into Wordpress as a possible platform to migrate to if necessary.


Program site on Blogger
Blogger on Samsung
On the side, we've been trying out Blogger to create websites for each of the courses and programs. It is working out quite well. We have full access to the HTML and CSS, and can back the site up to an XML file for migration out to other blog based platforms such as Wordpress. We can customise the template easily, as well as the mobile version. And it comes with a number of valuable features that aid our communication channelling out - such as subscribe by email or RSS, including RSS on each category. We've been having fun creating banner images too.

We could use Blogger as the home site for CSLLD.. but only if Drupal and Sites can't satisfy what we need.

Moodle on its way

I just put in a request for Moodle courses to be set up for 12 CSLLD 'courses', including one for us here at Online Learning.

The process is easy, but not instant.

There is an online form that sends a request to DET's administrator for Moodle, here:

That form asks the administrator to set up a 'sandpit' course, that is hidden from the DET course directories and what not. When the sandpits are set up, we go ahead and develop them up, and when ready, request that they be moved into the main DET course directory.

I phoned up the admin (Liliana at ICT4Learning) to see if I needed to fill out the form for each of the 12 course sandpits I wanted. She advised to just list them in the description box, and she'll set them up from there. She also advised that it may take a day or two for her to get to the request.

So, where to from here?

Blogger sites

The idea is that the course websites that we're setting up on Blogger, become the public facing, and most used aspect of the courses. It is where news and announcements get posted, as well as the calendar for the course, the course overview, and current progress notes. Also included (where appropriate) are links to things like an open access email list for the course, and extra resources such as a youtube channel, a list of key Wikipedia pages, as well as Wikibooks and Wikiversity resources.

Moodle sites

The Moodle sites link back from the course websites. They are very light weight spaces that provide a synopsis to the course, a link to the course website, private discussion forums, restricted access resources when necessary, and a private assignment submission space.

As soon as the courses come online, I'll go into each of the Blogger sites and link them up.

Domain and sub domains

We need to resolve the domain and sub domain mapping very soon.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Just playing with GIF's, see if they work on blogger, they don't work as the banner :(