Wednesday, 3 June 2009

To bing or not to bing...

I've just tried Bing, the new search engine. Is it better than google? Well it's probably to early to tell, but I like what I see so far. When you browse through your search results, you only need to scroll down the page instead of having to click "page 2, 3..etc" each time. This is particularly convenient when you're searching for pictures and saves a lot of time. You also get a better preview of web pages before clicking on the link. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Friday, 28 March 2008


I am sitting in the lab at SIDE in Leederville learning about a new social networking site run by edna - it contains shortcuts and links to a vast range of educational resources, networks and groups. It's called and is part of the edna website. As a start go to and browse around - you don't have to sign in to search but it's a good idea to do so. More details later.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Final entry

Thank you for completing the questionnaire; twelve responses were received and you can view the detailed results here. I reiterate that I do not know who wrote what as the responses appear completely anonymously.

Apart from giving me an idea of what you thought of the project, (which items were useful and which not, etc.), they also give the project sponsor, (Australian Flexible Learning Framework) feedback that their funds were not wasted and allow us to show that learning was seen to have taken place.

Once again thank you for your participation and till the next time…


Wednesday, 7 November 2007


I added the missing question marks and full stops at the last session, and finally got around to uploading the edited video. So here it is, not perfect yet, but at least punctuationally sound: "doing the housework".

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Final f2f Learnscope

Friday saw the final session with the show & tell of videos, review and survey.

Firstly, thank you for sticking to the end and I hope you will continue with your videoing and youtubing. All contributions received can now be viewed from the Contributions page.

I will let you see the results of the survey when everyone has filled it in - there is just one more online session next Thursday and then presumably some reports for Learnscope to justify the vast amounts of money they have invested in you.

The photo shows where we had our close of project dinner with the Perth f2f team (Clare, Wendy, Annabelle, Anna, Me, Jean. Ann-Marie was sick and Sonia expecting surrogately.) Thanks for the chockies.

If you have any more contributions, please send me the addresses.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Final Week

Learnscope is creeping to its final close and apotheosis, so please have some work to show and tell on Friday. It is also hoped that you will be able to put something onto the Web.

In this session we are also going to have a review of all the points we have covered, as well as a "skill audit" / questionnaire and then I suggest we can go out and eat somewhere in a restaurant nearby (if spice allow).

At some time in the near future you may also be asked to fill in a low-impact report form from Learnscope itself to justify the vast amounts of money expended on this project.

So see you (those in the City anyway) on Friday at 1615.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

WA E-Learning Experience (1)

Gave a presentation on Picasa and Flickr at the above conference and promised the participants a spare handout. Please download it here.

Thanks to the audience for their support.

The photo shows West Coast Learnscope personalities, Louise, Me, Jackie and Harriett (cropped with picasa) at the conference.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Inactive Interactivity

At the beginning of October I attended the AMEP National Conference in Mooloolaba, Queensland, where I was to give an interactive workshop on our Learnscope project “ITube, YouTube, HeSheItTube” in particular and accessing online ESL videos in general. I had prepared a PowerPoint wondrous to behold for the 90-minute session so was fairly confident the session would go well especially as I had made sure that the technology would work by informing the organizers that I would need Elluminate and YouTube access and even telephoning the IT section in Mooloolaba to confirm there would be no hindrances to the smooth running of the session.

Wednesday: I arrived in Mooloolaba and having checked in and checked out the beach and the spa I thought I had better inspect the lab too and it was here the problems began. The lab had about twenty five computers but the IT company that had been contracted to look after the technology at the Conference told me that they had been given only twenty logins for the whole Conference which meant that only about fifteen would be available in the lab. This was not such a great obstacle as on examination, only about fifteen PCs were actually functioning and in complete possession of all their facilites (viz. mouse, screen, keyboard). Okay, then fifteen can participate and others can lurk over the shoulder. Most important of all is that they can look at the videos even if they can’t explore them themselves so just check “YouTube”: and what should come up but the message: “This site is blocked”. However, after a few calls to Brisbane to the TAFE Internet Directorate (or someone), the IT guy managed to unblock it and it was ready for the session. (Did you check to see if the videos actually worked, Philip?). Onto Elluminate and yes it opened up very nicely, so I could go to bed, calm and assured that no technogremlins would put me off my stroke in the workshop the next day.

Thursday: the day of the workshop; up at the crack of dawn, quick swim in the sea and a relax in the rooftop spa before breakfast to meet the demands of the day.

T-1h and I thought I’d go and look at the Lab again just to make sure; enter and yes this day it opened, no problem; but had just better click on the video to see how it runs and…”Flash is not installed on this computer”. Now as you may not know, Flash is the little program that lets the videos play and without it there is no Youtube and no videos to see, so I, as you do when a program is missing, tried to download the Flash program. Message: ”Downloading of programs prohibited”. Once again I called in the IT guy who then had another go at ringing up the Director-General of TAFE (or someone) in Brisbane for permission to download Flash and while he was fiddling with the teacher’s computer, the participants for the "interactive" workshop started to stream in. “Only fifteen computers are working and you won’t be able to view anything anyway… . but if I can’t show YouTube vids then at least we can play with Elluminate, it was working last night." So I logged onto Elluminate while the IT guy was on the phone to the Queensland Premier (or someone) and of course Elluminate refused to make a connection. So for my interactive workshop presented through Elluminate we had thirty-five participants, standing room only at the back and crouching room on the floor (why stop them coming in when their computer doesn’t work?), no YouTube videos, no Elluminate and no Powerpoint, because the IT guy was once again attempting to get Flash working and seemed to have stripped the PC down to its component parts. The good teacher is a flexible teacher and so improvisation back to memory and board, while I gave the introduction to my session following those time-respected methodologies unchanged since Wackford Squeers. After about fifteen minutes of improvisation I felt myself flagging as I thought that the photos of the Learnscope team on the Powerpoint would be better to show than my rough sketches on the board and I asked the IT guy to give up on his phone call to the Federal Minister for Communications (or someone), re-assemble the computer and let me get on with my Powerpoint. Originally, I had intended to show the Powerpoint direct from the Net as this saves having to find the hidden IT office at the conference to get it put on a shared drive but of course when I did try to download it, I was informed that “Access was forbidden”. so it was a good job I had put it on a stick (in fact two).

The lecture (not interactive workshop), then went along quite well and satisfactorily and fortunately I had also remembered to pack a few video samples on my stick, not really expecting to have to use them but which proved invaluable when I wanted to show a few samples of the participants’ work. (However, this did not help Claire-Marie who had assiduously stayed up all Monday night finishing off her video ”Doing the housework” so I could show it at the Conference. Thanks anyway, Claire, your two minutes of fame will come.) That is to say that I was able to show some of the videos; some I had saved as mpegs but others which I was intending to load up into my Elluminate room I had converted to “mov” format. (It doesn’t really matter if you don’t understand the difference). Now MediaPlayer functioned excellently but when I double-clicked the file to open one of these movs, I got the message “MoviePlayer” unavailable” and of course no point in trying to download it (save through a phone-call to the Governor-General himself and anyway the IT guys had disappeared in frustration and despair).

Despite all of the above, I completed the ninety minute session in good time and I believe that I successfully managed to spread the word about technology in WA despite the lack of technology in QLD.

What have I learnt from this?

  • Never trust the technology, despite assurances that everything will work.
  • Always take back-ups in at least two forms; in this case I had my Powerpoint on two sticks, a CD and on the Web; I also had it as a print-out although I did not intend to distribute hand-outs. I also had some (but not all) of the group’s YouTube videos on my stick, which I had time-consumingly downloaded from the Web and converted using the file converter “Zamzar”. I should have taken more and then all in at least two formats to anticipate that one type of player was not going to work.Of course, maybe I should also have had the Powerpoint presentation on OHTs but, there didn’t seem to be an OHP in the room anyway, so it wouldn’t have helped - you have to draw a line somewhere.
  • IT help desks are notorious for their lack of celerity when it comes to fixing bugs but these IT guys at the Conference were extremely helpful and accommodating and really made an effort to get things up & running. My thanks to them.

What I don’t understand:

  • The roots of the problem lie in TAFE policies. Why do TAFEs block access to such a wide range of resources? yes, okay some of the students may download inappropriate materials and programs with possible viruses, but how can we implement and promote online learning and teaching if videos and downloads are completely unavailable? This does not seem to be the case just in Queensland alone but all over Australia.

Monday, 1 October 2007

It worked!

Well, it took a long time but it finally worked! Here's "doing the housework". The quality isn't great and I've forgotten a couple of question marks. Also, note how water conscious I am when doing the dishes (no water needed!). But there's no way I'm putting myself through this again, so it will have to do.
I had trouble uploading my video and checked the size, format etc. In the end, the problem was my internet connection which had dropped off . So I didn't have to use Zamzar after all. But I'll keep that in mind for next time. It might upload faster as a mpg file.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

First video

Thanks to Anna for putting up the first video

If you have any in the final stages, please let me know.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Session 8 - enhancing and effecting

Good attendance yesterday evening at the F2F session and I am glad that some of you brought your own videos and I had fortunately remembered to make that video of exercises in the park for the others to work on.

As I said before, I am due to tell the rest of the AMEP world of the wonders of online ESL video at the AMEP conference in QLD the first week of the holidays. Now, it would be extremely more worthwhile if apart from rabbiting on about what we have been doing and how we have been doing it I had some samples to show. I have your Photostories up there but I would also like some videos - it doesn't matter if they are incomplete or rough or unedited or look terrible or do not teach anything or anything like that - your names and faces will not be associated with them, so please this week, either put them up on YouTube and tell me the address OR give me a copy of them. I will be approaching you on Wed or Thurs re this. Ta.

Apart from that I forgot to tell you that you may have problesm opening your MOvieMAker project files to work on again. Sometimes, if you are on a different machine. and you open your project you get little red crosses on the boxes in the storyboard and not your images.

Now, this is because MM doesn't actually import the video clips into the program it just makes links to them and if you have changed your location it can't find them. So just tell it where they are. You can do this by shouting at the PC but this doesn't usually work. so ....

Double-click on one of the red crosses and you'll get this message:

Click "Yes" and browse through until you find your video.

Double click on it or one click and "Open" , wait and your clips should appear!

If you have any problems, please contact me on GoogleTalk (pgnichols) whenever.

Happy working.

PS Good news for the Casual Participants - I put through yur pay cliam for the term for Learnscope participation so you should have some extra do$h in your bank.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Online session 7

Well this session went pretty smoothly for me. So far, I found that having a look at the worksheet prior to the session is a big help; it allows me to get a general idea of where I'm going and work on potential problems beforehand, some of them anyway. I agree with Philip, the problem is not how to do things (we are all smart and talented!), but getting suitable ideas, especially for advanced levels, and willing participants. I'd love to record a short oral presentation as a model for students to have a look at but, not surprisingly, most people are reluctant to be filmed and posted on YouTube. I guess I'll have to do it by myself again. Love your interview example Philip. By the way, How did you do the rolling credits on your clip about image resolution? It added a very professional savoir-faire. Impressive!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The best of times, the worst of times

In this case, being Geraldton and Albany but it's the ideas in the first paragraph that I like.

Anyway, if you go back to last Saturday's entry, you will recall I had my doubts about attempting to teach MovieMaker online as the face2face session had had so many pitfalls. Thankfully (with one exception), it went much better than anticipated. I modified the worksheets to make them clearer and easier to follow and Thursday saw the 2 Cla(i)res settling down happily in their own Elluminate room conversing with and assisting each other while they went through the worksheet and even went beyond it in their video editing. Meanwhile, Anna had her private room where I was able to talk her through the trimming process.

Friday off to Albany and I think this was the most successful Elluminate session we have had. The Application Share really came into play as I was able to first demonstrate how to trim the videos and then got them to share their desktop with me so I could talk them through the process and view at the same time. Elluminate does have its good days. In fact, Albany had been one week behind due to their Lab being booked when we needed it, but now so efficient were they that we managed to do both Sessions 6 and 7 in the two hours!

The only mar on the whole thing was for Marnie in Geraldton. She is there all alone with no-one to support her and this week she got the worst of the deal. First of all her camera is an Olympus, which means that her videos were saved as movs and not recognisable by MovieMaker. Then , because she was involved with a sick friend, she had no time to convert them. So on Thursday while the others were happily progressing with their editing, we were attempting to use Zamzar to convert and of course you need an email account and it took absolutely ages so by the time it was all over, the session was all over. I congratulate Marnie on her perseverance though! I will be holding a repeat online Session 7 next Thursday 20th for her and anybody else who missed this session (Jean? Annabelle? Cathy?).

By the way, I have been playing with MovieMaker too - firstly, you may recall in the session on taking videos, I talked about different frame speeds and resolutions. You can look at the different combinations that your still camera probably produces when taking videos here and basically, if you're putting it up onto YouTube, there doesn't seem much difference.

Secondly, I feel that one of the main problems you have is not how to do the videoing, but what to video. I hoped I gave you some ideas with the CSWE assessments but it still takes time and inspiration. Clare is making a pronunciation video, I know, and Anna is negotiating with Claremont council to waive the $1 000 000 indemnity insurance she requires to film within the library (she shouldn't have asked). In the meantime, here is an idea how you can do an interview with just one person.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Olympus and Panasonic users


Your camera films videos in an Apple format (*.mov), which means that the program we are going to use, Microsoft Windows MovieMaker 2, refuses to recognize it. We therefore have to convert it to a format that it can recognize.

The easiest way I have found to do this is to use a free online converter known as “zamzar”.

Please download the worksheet here and try to convert your video before the online session on Thursday

Monday, 10 September 2007

better late than never

Sorry this took so long. I couldn’t upload my clip last session because the camera’s batteries were flat (yes, I do keep spares, but my beloved had a cleaning frenzy and threw them out by mistake...). When I was able to do it, I realised the film was completely out of focus and therefore useless. My family members run away when they see me with the camera, but I found another victim, sorry, willing subject. Unfortunately, that time the film was overexposed. I had a couple more tries before I realised that for some reason, my camera does not cope well with outside light for films (something to do with the settings I presume). I must say the thought of giving up did cross my mind at this point, but I soldiered on... So, finally, here it is: Introducing oneself!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Belated Photo story on YouTube

Hi all. Due to technical difficulties as alluded to by Philip, I have finally uploaded my photo story called ASwissChristmas.
I hope you can view it. I know its a bit rough.
good luck with the videos.

Warning! Online session may be a disaster.

What a frustrating session we had on Friday; I only hope that something was learnt.

Issue 1 (I note that we don’t have problems, difficulties or setbacks any more, just issues).
I decided to go into Lab 1 on Friday as it is roomier, less scruffy and the computers are newer. Although according to Microsoft MovieMaker2 is standard with XP SP2, for some reason it was not installed on the Lab 1 computers and downloading seemed only to be able to happen through Windows Update, which would be time-consuming. Fortunately, Scott, the Data Manager cum IT trouble-shooter, had not gone home and was able to put a copy on the shared drive, which everyone could download. Why hadn’t I checked, you may well ask. Well, MM2 was installed on the “Teacher’s” computer so I assumed it was on the others as well. (It was typical of him that the way he chose to give instructions to us in the Lab when he was upstairs in his room, was to take control of the Teacher’s PC and use the HALish “Text to Speech” function so we could hear and follow what we had to do to install the program).

Issue 2
As we all know MM2 is part of Bill Gates’ MS empire and they don’t really like anything faintly redolent of apples. To our great annoyance therefore, although some of the class were okay, those who had invested in Olympus cameras were most disappointed as MM2 would not recognize their videos as they were in .mov format. We were reduced to editing a Transperth .wmv video which happened to be on the shared drive.

What I have learnt (although this should have been basic):

  • Check all machines to confirm software is there.
  • Have a fallback editable video available.

What others who will be coming to the online sessions on Thursday need to know:

  • Make sure that MovieMaker2 is on your computer.
  • If you are using an Olympus (and possible other brands but not Canon), please check your manual to see what format video it produces. I will check the brands you have told me you have and will let those who sent it to me know.


    Canon Ixus 55 - no prob


    Kodak C530 - Okay I think


    Sony DSC P43 Okay I think


    Olympus Stylus 410 - yikes! conversion necessary


    SONY "Cyber-shot" Okay I think


    G G-Shot DV1110 dunno


    Ricoh Caplio R2 Okay I think


    yikes! conversion necessary


    Olympus camedia model no C- yikes! conversion necessary

I have been searching for a free user-friendly intuitive video converter, but at present haven’t located one, so If you have an Olympus, then please send me a copy of the video so I can convert it to a MS-friendly format for you.

This in effect is rather disappointing and I'll try to find an alternative. If anybody has any suggestions, please advise.

Saturday, 8 September 2007


Loved your video of Adriaan's antics, Sonia - he does a great jig!

I wonder if our friends will start avoiding us when we have a camera in our hands - "Philip's the only one who'll see it!" - famous last words!

It's so good of our friends to be our trusting subjects!