Archive for the ‘mlearning’ Category

Plurk at Work

October 25, 2008


Plurking a stonemasonry training project

Plurking a stonemasonry training project

Using Plurk, I’ve met many educators who are keen to discuss education technologies- but not all of my friends work in the same industry. I recently befriended long-distance truck driver Mike Jacobson and noticed that he was posting photos to his Plurk timeline from remote locations. Mike’s photos link to Plurkpix and I decided to try this application for myself.

A sandstone sign project that my students were working on provided an excuse to share images in Plurk. With my 3SkypePhone, I accessed the Plurpix homepage, selected a photo in my phone’s memory, and uploaded it (there is a 4 MB limit to each upload, and formats are restricted to jpg, png and gif). About ten seconds later when the image was uploaded, the screen changed to a message displaying the Plurkpix URL for that photo: and offering the choice of sending the URL to either Plurk or Twitter, as well as an option to upload another image. I chose to send the URL to Plurk, starting a new discussion in my timeline.

I wished to add subsequent photos as the sandstone sign project progressed, but I couldn’t use the Plurkpix uploader to reply to the original discussion. To do this, I accessed Plurk Mobile on my phone, selected my Plurk timeline, and replied to the original update with the next image’s URL. I had to write each image URL in a list so that I could remember the order in which to post them – my mistakes are unfortunately on view for ever! 

Posting photos from the workshop floor with Plurkpix and Plurk Mobile created an image resource for me to share with educators, apprentices and employers. I’d uploaded many photos and videos to Flickr, hence to Twitter and Twiddeo, but found the long URL associated with each image not visible on my phone, and even when I did know it, found it too difficult to key into my phone. Having the ability to combine text and images with Plurk and Plurkpix turns digital stories into virtual conversations.


@#$% technology!!! #3

July 8, 2008

Gabcast! @#$% technology!!! #3


July 4, 2008


Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Gabcast moblogging – Blogging audio files from a mobile phone:
Since discovering the OdioGo text-to-speech blog application, I’d been wondering about bypassing the computer and blogging directly from a telephone.

At this week’s OzNZ Educators Flashmeeting, Joe Dale mentioned that he was using gabcast for “moblogging”– blogging from a mobile phone. To hear Joe speak, activate the meeting replay, scroll to his name on the time line, and then click on Joe’s comment at a point 1 hour 16 minutes and 19 seconds into the Flashmeeting.

Joe asked if anyone present had used gabcast. I had not heard of this application before, so decided to investigate while having a few days off.

home page

gabcast home page

My first step:
After the OzNZ Educators meeting closed, I registered a free account at . I activated the account by replying to the confirmation email sent to me.

my gabcast channel

my gabcast channel

Creating a channel:
After logging in to my gabcast account, I created a channel and assigned it a password. Because the password is required to be numeric, I used one that was easy to remember on my phone’s alpha-numeric keypad. I named the channel after a previous blog update: “@#$% (expletive deleted) technology!”

Dialling gabcast:
The phone numbers used to access the gabcast voice recorder are listed at the gabcast homepage. There are two Australian options – Sydney and Perth – I chose the Sydney number. It is listed with the Australian country prefix “61” so I ignored this and instead dialled “02 90 37 19 38”.

Recording a message:
Gabcast’s voice machine greeted me with a request for my channel number, followed by my channel password. I wasn’t ready for this, so had to redial after memorizing them. My first update is fairly vague – I was focused on using the application instead of providing quality content. In addition, I find that I’m awkward when it comes to recording my voice. I guess it will take me a while to get used to hearing my own speech re-played.

The message was updated to form “episode 1” in my new gabcast channel. Exciting stuff!

embedding gabcast episodes

embedding gabcast episodes

Embedding episodes in my blog:
I decided that gabcast could prove useful for providing mobile-phone audio-blog updates remote from computer access. The gabcast homepage advised that audio updates could indeed be posted to a blog, so I chose my WordPress blog to try it out.

I logged in to, accessed “My Dashboard” and added a “Text” widget. My gabcast channel gave me an option to “add episode to your website” which provided the embed code. I copied the gabcast code and pasted it into the WordPress widget. The first gabcast episode appeared in the widget after a few minutes.

Blogging to gabcast:
My second gabcast recording is almost as vacuous as the first; however, it soon appeared automatically as a new blog posting in WordPress – success!

Playing the audio files:
Accessing the blog with my mobile phone browser, I downloaded the audio file (in MP3 format) to my memory card and listened to it from there. This step is not necessary when using the computer and the files will play directly from the browser.

Other gabcast features:
Gabcast can be used to embed a voice greeting in a website, as well as using it for conference recording. I think that I’ll just stick with voice moblogging for now.

Of course, mobile blogging is not entirely disconnected from the computer. The account requires setting up and maintaining online, likewise, blog posts need to be configured after updating. However, gabcast provides a handy way to reach an audience from out in the field.

@#$% technology!!! #2

July 4, 2008

Gabcast! @#$% technology!!! #2

txt2spch podcasting

May 22, 2008

txt2spch podcasting

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Txt-2-speech podcasting:
When I learned about OdioGo text-to-speech podcasting from Lyn Marentette’s Classroom 2.0 update, I decided to apply it to my own blog. Visiting the OdioGo homepage, I pasted my blog’s URL and email address into the spaces provided.

It took me about fifteen minutes to carry out the instructions delivered in a verification email from OdioGo. An OdioGo subscription button soon appeared in my blog widget pane.

Podcast subscription:
This step was easier than any other subscription service I’d tried. I just clicked “Click here to subscribe to this feed with iTunes” and my iTunes podcast list was automatically updated. I copied these files to my mobile phone to listen to on my way to work.

MP3 downloads:
Other options are to listen to the files directly from the computer, or singly download separate files for selective listening.

The reader’s voice:
OdioGo presents the reader as “near-human.” It’s very good, I’ll admit – much better than listening to my own voice, something I’ll never become used to. Hearing my text read out in a soft American accent was a pleasant surprise! I’ll need to adapt my writing style to suit a different phrasing, and I’ll also experiment with the word “stone masonry” so that it sounds less like “stunner messenry.”

Learning Table in the classroom

April 28, 2008

Learning Table in the classroom

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

I had earlier blogged about RFID Learning Table, a software application developed by Daniel Dacey’s New England Computer Solutions. It was installed on the stonemasonry section’s classroom computer. This computer had always been used to operate SignLab VinylPro stencil cutting equipment, and was recently connected to the Internet.

Classroom Internet access
Having a computer in the classroom allowed us to access many useful sites such as Google Earth, Ning, YouTube, Flickr and lots more sharing sites. It was also useful for presenting Powerpoint presentations and instructional videos using the RFID Learning Table to access them. However, the computer and its network connection were eventually brought into line with the rest of the institute, and these privileges were stopped.

ACER Travelmate 6410
After several months of waiting, I took charge of an institute laptop on March 13th this year. Several weeks later I managed to get the RFID Learning Table installed after the network managers agreed to package the application to suit their requirements. It was not an easy decision for them to make as the institute is in the process of ‘rolling out’ ResourceBank and my.TAFE. The RFID Learning Table effectively duplicates these applications, however as they are not yet developed, I will continue to develop resources. Learning objects produced for RFID Learning Table are easily transferable to ResourceBank, and are then able to be managed with my.TAFE.

Self directed learning
Students choose lesson topics from a range displayed in a small book of cards. Each card has the learning topic written on the front, and an RFID tag stuck on the back. The lesson is accessed by placing the tag on the top of the reader. Lessons are accompanied by assessment sheets, and a teacher provides extra assistance.

Further development of RFID tags for learning
Currently, the RFID Learning Table application is most useful in the classroom, as it is designed to be read with either a desktop or a laptop computer. I plan to one day expand its range to the workshop using hand-held computers. Sue Waters has published excellent resources about this topic at her wiki. A tag beside each piece of workshop equipment will access learning topics in the hand-held device, describing its safe and effective use. This system would also be useful for safety inductions, applicable to any workplace, as well as marketing the institute’s operations at public events.

L-o-o-o-ng photos

April 12, 2008

splitting stone

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

I’ve just learned that the Flickr photo sharing site is accepting videos up to ninety seconds long. I plan to use this feature extensively, encouraging my students to do the same so that we can build a public resource of stonemasonry activities. This is useful for people who may be considering a career in building and construction industry, and who wish to know what a stonemason does.

Photos and video clips uploaded to the stonemasonry online social network also provide useful evidence of competency when they are accompanied by descriptive text and supervisor verification.

I encourage my students to present their e-portfolios online as potential providers of stonemasonry trade skills to both local and global audiences.


I had previously written about using sharing stonemasonry video clips online using Twiddeo. Twiddeo is useful because of its feed straight into my (brownsd) Twitter timeline. However, recently I had difficulty logging in to Twiddeo, so I was looking for another application with which to share video clips.


The stonemasonry online social network used by my TAFE students features a Twitter feed, so that the latest entries in my ‘brownsd’ timeline are displayed on the main page.

Flickr photos are also featured in a similar feed, that us, any photo tagged with ‘stonemasonry’ in Flickr is displayed in a widget on the main page. Now that Flickr is featuring video clips, and each clip is treated just the same as a photo, recent photos or video clips tagged ‘stonemasonry’ are automatically featured in the widget.


Recording short video clips with my mobile phone allows me to instantly upload the clip to Flickr. I always record using the ‘MMS’ (Mobile Messaging Service) option so that the clip length is limited to 15 or so seconds. I try to keep camera movement to a minimum, and lighting to a maximum. Sometimes I will ask an apprentice to record me while I demonstrate an activity.


Emailing attachments from my 3SkypePhone candy bar is not an option, so I access Flickr mobile and use its uploading option. This takes a minute or so. When the file has been uploaded, I can then add a title and description.


I have to access Flickr using a computer to add other details such as tags, location etc. At the moment, my stonemasonry videos are added to their own Flickr set. Currently, the set features four videos recorded during the previous (stage 3) five week block-release training session. I will upload Long Photos of the next class (stage 2) starting on Monday 14th April.

Sharing electronic drawings in Flickr and Slideshare.

March 24, 2008

Mobile drawings
Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Many years ago, old friend William Whitmee gave me his book “The Elements of Geometrical Drawing” (Henry J. Spooner, 1914). On pages 167-169, Spooner describes Problem 194: To construct the Spiral called the Ionic Volute, the circumscribing Parallelogram having sides 3 1/2″ and 3″

This construction method is useful for students who are required to draw architectural elements and moulding designs (BCF3069a and BCF3035a). The Ionic volute is just one type of architectural decoration.

I had previously experienced difficulty getting students to draw this diagram. Having just presented the lesson recently (with the same confusion) I decided to redraw my directions in the simplest way possible.

My students provided useful feedback during class time, and I realised that the problem I was having was that I always try to explain “why” that is, the philosophy of proportion in Ionic Order and Classical Style buildings. BORING! They just wanted to get in and do it!

Consequently, I photographed the processes on the whiteboard and blackboard that the students understood best. Then I prepared 24 progressive drawings stepping through the process.

As explained in a previous post, the drawing were prepared using CorelDraw11, exported as JPEGs and uploaded to Flickr. Flickr images are downloadable to basic mobile phones like mine, with the added advantage of having a URL so they can be embedded in a blog and further explained.

It really was difficult for me to skip the explanation and jump straight into drawing, but the students told me that they wanted to draw the three rectangles first, then follow with the quadrants. I still felt that they needed the explanation, so added it as the first few slides.

After the PowerPoint presentation was uploaded to my Slideshare site, I Twittered the link with a request for comment. answered within an hour (Peter, you’re an early riser!)

Peter commented “iconic ionic! would have put the pics first and wordy dot point staff last – now off to carve myself a temple…”

I altered the PowerPoint accordingly, but have left the original slideshow in place.

I shared the altered presentation in my SkillsTech Australia Teaching and Learning Network (TLN) for other construction trades skills teachers to use.

Now the presentation is ready to show to the class after the Easter break, prior to exams which include having to draw an Ionic volute from memory, using different dimensions. I hope they like the new format.

Twiddeo in Vocational Education and Training

February 21, 2008

Twiddeo = Twitter + Video conversations
Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Twiddeo jumped out at me as a useful application.

I’m encouraging stonemasonry apprentices to provide me with video examples of their work for assessment and guidance. Twiddeo is very easy to use, especially if you have video/Internet phones as do most of my students.

Earlier this month, I uploaded several 15sec (of fame) videos of apprentice stonemasons in the Eagle Farm training workshop. I posted them to Twiddeo from my phone during the training session and the students were able to view them immediately via Twitter RSS feed at their stonemasonry Ning

I use this Twitter username with my students.

Vidoes posted to Twiddeo are downloadable, and are then viewable on a mobile phone.

This one shows a quick view of Joel learning how to use the stone lathe.

And this one shows him finishing his piece the next day.

Yes, they are low resolution and therefore poor quality imaging, but I think the immediacy and accessibility make up for this.

I found that it is important to hold the camera steady during recording, avoiding excessive panning. Close-ups are important as are middle distance establishing shots.

I’m hoping that this communication tool will catch on in the stone industry, establishing a resource bank of tips and tricks.

Mobile photos

February 21, 2008

Mobile photos
Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Nearly all of my stonemasonry apprentice students have a video/Internet phone, so I wanted to make some learning resources available to them on their screens.

I’m using CorelDraw 11 to create short drawing lessons, saving each page as a JPEG file to my computer. The files are then uploaded to Flickr as well as inserted into a PowerPoint presentation and uploaded to Slideshare