Friday, August 23, 2019

Proposal for an Australian Indigenous Version of Culturally Situated Design Tools

It is widely recognised that much effort and dollars have been spent on “closing the gap” between indigenous and non indigenous Australians without a great deal of success. Various proposals across the full range of educational methodologies have been proposed and implemented; from Noel Pearson’s Direct Instruction at the Instructionist end of the educational spectrum to Tyson Yunkaporta’s “8 ways” at the cultural end.

I offer the following as a positive contribution to this frustrating dialogue.

The idea is to marry indigenous culture with computer coding and other subject domains (art, maths, science etc.). This is an idea borrowed from the work of Ron Eglash and others in the USA drawing deep themes from African and Native American cultures. This approach has been called ethnocomputing or "Culturally Situated Design Tools".

The rationale includes these points:

1) Deep design themes, not trivial.
In the exemplar given below the circle, for instance, is a deep design theme found in aboriginal culture. One thing that needs to be avoided here is trivial adjustments to the curriculum such as counting boomerangs or didgeridoos in arithemetic class.

2) Emic (inside) cultural origins not etic (outside) origins
Building trust is a central issue. That requires permission, in this case, to emulate indigenous art as well as building rapport with the students. Educators are aware that building relationships is central to all good education.

In this case we employ the circle and line motif which is a feature of aboriginal art. The maths which arises from this art form is of emic origins, from inside the culture.

3) Dynamic, not static, culture
Culture is a dynamic entity, not static. For example, new media, eg. acrylic, were introduced by Geoffrey Bardon in the 1970s at Papunya. In this dynamic tradition, the computer provides another creative and flexible medium.

The fundamental goal here is to empower student’s sense of ownership over computing, maths and other subject domains through the use of a culturally enriched computer medium. The appeal is not so much to cultural pride but to the ability to explore and improvise with interesting and deep materials at the interface of culture, maths and computing, to create new hybrids in both machines and people.

An example:

Circle and line is a frequent motif of aboriginal desert art. I’ll illustrate this theme with some art works by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002).

The circles can represent a wide range of things. They could be places where ancestral beings emerged from the ground, camped, performed ceremonies or rested after they had spent their energy.

Alternatively, they might represent a particular waterhole, campsite, dance ground, sacred site or some person, object, plant or animal which is the focus of attention. Or underground honey ant chambers, as shown in this work:

Or again, they might represent connections between people, different moieties or different kin groups

The lines may be straight or meandering. They could represent the tracks taken by Dreamtime beings, or humans. Sometimes footprints are included, or the tracks of different animals, or a digging stuck thrust into the ground, or the passageways of the honey ant chambers.

THE COMPUTER MEDIUM

Computer coding is a flexible medium which enables multiple ways to represent circles.

Using Scratch or Snap! we can code the circle in various ways. The code enhances our understanding of the circle and how it can be represented in this medium. This can be done with dots or an unbroken line. To build tools that will do justice to the indigenous art work does take a lot of thought, research, collaboration and design effort. The tools also have to be usable initially by a novice to computer coding. To design all of this becomes complex, so the designer needs to be a good coder with a good understanding of the cultural form too.

I am part way through this process using Scratch and will then move on to developing a Snap! version. Here is one of the Scratch products showing some (not all) of the variable settings:

I have published my scratch project, indigenous_circles, here

Initially, the goal here is to build an application to draw circles with dots. There are many variables involved to make it satisfactory to the indigenous user: background colour; dot colour, saturation and brightness; circle radius; radius increment for next circle; dot size; dot spacing; should the dots be perfect circles or lumpy?; number of rings. The application has to be easy for a novice coder to use. And flexible enough to build a wide variety of diverse artistic products.

The computer medium is particularly well suited to craft regular or repeated or symmetrical themes. These themes are often found in aboriginal art. This forms a good starting point. Where other themes are present the images can be imported into the design. For example, go to this page and scroll down for a sheet of icons or symbols used in Papunya Central Desert art.

Probably, the most suitable program to use (following the example of Eglash) is Snap! due to it’s user friendliness (block coding) and power (ability to write custom procedures).

KNOWN PROBLEMS

For this proposal to work known problems have to be overcome and a number of other essential practicalities are required. I’ll briefly list some of the issues here:
  • permission from the minority culture
  • building a bridge, both sides need to come to the party
  • opportunity to work with that culture intensively
  • a team of people (culturally aware educators and computer coders) to pursue these ideas
  • school cultures have been slow to take up innovative computing
  • organisation of time, space and technology in a way that will work be it in a formal school or outside of school setting
OTHER THEMES

As well as indigenous art other themes which could be explored include language, kinship systems, astronomy, fire and water. Some of these themes have been presented in an integrated curriculum at Indigenous Knowledge. The approach advocated here is different with its use of computer coding to unite the different subject domains. Over time the possibilities and potential power of computer use in schools has diversified and increased.

This article only acts as an introduction into what could develop.

UPDATE (August 25th: I've created a new Scratch Studio, Indigenous Art Motifs

UPDATE (August 23rd: I found this a Scratch Studio called "Indigenous Art" by kmwilson who has been developing high quality work around these themes for a few years now.

REFERENCE:
Ron Eglash, Audrey Bennett, Casey O’Donnell, Sybillyn Jennings, Margaret Cintorino. Culturally Situated Design Tools: Ethnocomputing from Field Site to Classroom (2006)

Morphy, Howard. Aboriginal Art (1998), pp. 121-3

Snap! Build Your Own Blocks

Indigenous Knowledge (Teaching resources)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

my evolving mangle -> ethnocomputing

Harel and Papert (1) argue that some materials are better with regard to the following criteria:
  • appropriability (some things lend themselves better than others to being made one's own)
  • evocativeness (some materials are more apt than others to precipitate personal thought)
  • integration (some materials are better carriers of multiple meaning and multiple concepts)

For many years, I've been working in, struggling with, three (at least) different domains. As a first approximation let's call them social justice, learning theory and computing.

All of them evolve, both in reality and my understanding of them. In this particular iteration I'll change the names significantly to indigenous culture, powerful ideas and tangible hardware / constructionist software. This matches my present context (Alice Spring / indigenous learners) and goals (to help facilitate their learning).

What is the mangle? This comes from a Ron Eglash et al article (2), which in turn comes from a 1995 book by Andrew Pickering (3). The idea is that science is neither a transparent window into truth nor a relative truth. It is somewhere in between. Culture, nature and technology combine in a never ending spiral to produce science. At every point there is resistance. Something doesn't work, tweak it to make things fit better. We tweak our cultures, we tweak our theories and we tweak our technologies to overcome the resistance.

So this is a brief overview of where I am at, how I got there and where it is heading.

Indigenous culture: Parts of indigenous culture (eg. dot paintings) can be represented with algorithms. Contemporary indigenous art is not the same as traditional art. It has evolved (4). Indigenous students are often more engaged when offered the opportunity to represent their culture using the computer (5). These themes can be deep, not dressing up the dog / trivial.

Powerful ideas: This was central to Seymour Papert's initiative (6). That maths could be restructured in both a powerful and engaging way and hence made more accessible to those who had missed out. This does require some considerable, thoughtful input from the teacher in designing a learning environment that works. Examples: Turtle Geometry as designed by Seymour and allies (7); Idit Harel's Instructional Software Design Project (8)

How has this evolved? As it turns out some of Seymour's claims, eg. transfer to other learning domains, were exaggerated.(9) Nevertheless, within more limited domains the ideas remain powerful. And in broader domains you can do a lot with a little. (10)

This requires a lot of work to sort through but I feel some authors and curriculum writers have come close. (11, 12)

Tangible hardware / constructionist software: The hardware has become smaller and more interesting (eg. the micro:bit, the Hummingbird:bit are two favourites amongst many to choose from) and spawned a new movement: The Maker Movement. The software has become more user friendly (block coding) and diverse. I think Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager are on the right track when they identify three game changers: Fabrication, Physical Computing and Coding (13)

The evolution in the hardware/software area has been phenomenal.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

I've only recently discovered "Culturally Situated Design Tools" which do offer at least in part a way to make the transition. Ron Eglash is probably the key person here. He goes back a long way and I'm a little bewildered and sad that I didn't discover him earlier. So, it fits well too with the laws of ignorance, we don't know what we don't know (but someone out there might know).

TED talk: The fractals at the heart of African Designs
Legacy items: Teaching math and computing through culture

This approach could be adapted effectively to indigenous ed here in Australia. I've recently used Turtle Art to emulate a NAIDOC poster (here) and listed the skills and dispositions required / learnt.

It needs a lot more work. But it is a very rich area where three different forces are both evolving and intersecting: indigenous culture + STEAM + computer science as a discipline. I think it's doable, each of the 3 big areas enriches and feeds off the others.

REFERENCE:

(1) Harel, I. & Papert, S. (1990) Software Design as a Learning Environment. Interactive Learning Environment, 1, 1-32
(2) Eglash et al. Culturally Situated Design Tools: Ethnocomputing from Field Site to Classroom (2006)
(3) Pickering, Andrew (1995) The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science
(4) McLean, Ian (Editor). How Aborigines invented the idea of contemporary art (2011)
(5) Indigenous icons activity
(7) Kerr, Bill. Papert's Ideas: Mainly from Mindstorms (1991)
(8) Kerr, Bill. Educational Software: Designed by Kids for Kids (1994)
(9) Tedre, Matti and Denning, Peter. The Long Quest for Computational Thinking (2016)
(10) How to evaluate construction kits: ten design principles
(11) Kafai, Yasmin and Burke, Quinn. Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming (2016)
(12) Karen Brennan, Laura Peters, and Alexa Kutler. Creative Computing Curriculum Guide (Scratch 3.0)
(13) Martinez, Sylvia and Stager, Gary. Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom (2nd Edition, 2019)

Friday, July 12, 2019

skills and dispositions utilised in simulating a NAIDOC poster using Turtle Art

After attending a NAIDOC event at Araleun Arts Centre I changed the poster I was simulating since I thought I could (eventually) transform all the features to one computer screen. I haven't achieved that yet.

In this blog I want to list the skills and dispositions which I have needed to call upon to do the simulation. This is necessary to do a mapping onto existing curriculum guidelines which in turn is necessary to "sell" the approach to schools that are meant to be guided or bound by particular curriculum guidelines.

I haven't done a rigorous mapping yet. That would require more work since the approach I am advocating here integrates indigenous culture with art with computing (Design Technology) and maths.

Here is the NAIDOC poster, Celebrating NAIDOC Week:

Here is a snapshot of where I have got up to so far with Turtle Art:

I'm not attempting to explain here step by step how I did it. This blog is a listing of the skills and dispositions I think I utilised as I made the simulation. It's only a draft. To do this properly would require a team of people with expert knowledge in those four domains: Indigenous culture, Art, Design Technology and Maths

CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE
Circles and dots are part of aboriginal art. This is fairly obvious as is my ignorance of the significance of this for the culture. Ignorance which I need to rectify.

DESIGN and ART KNOWLEDGE
Define the problem: what is my goal here? A digital simulation which employs turtle geometry
Planning a solution or multiple solutions
Breaking the pattern into a series of circles or arcs of circles
Notice the variation in dot size, shape and spacing as well as colour (now implemented)
Draw some scaffolding lines to help organise positions (centre dot, outer circle)

MATHS KNOWLEDGE OF CIRCLES
360 degrees in a circle
an arc is part of a circle
angle estimation of arcs b/w 0 and 360
Factors of 36 (18*2, 9*4, 12*3) needed for writing procedures in Turtle Art,
eg. repeat 9[fd bk stuff, then right turn 40] will do one turtle trip around the circle, since 9*40=360

OTHER MATHS
Multiplication (9 times tables, 90 times tables)
Subtraction, eg. if the start of the arc is at -20 and the end of the arc is at -190 then how many degrees is the arc? Answer 170
Division (see below)

TURTLE ART PROGRAM FEATURES
pen down for when you want to draw
pen up for when you want to reposition the turtle
sequencing, do the background before the circles
How to draw a circle with the turtle returning to the centre (iteration or repeating)
How to draw a dot and vary it’s size, colour and shade
How to make the dots slightly lumpy (requires some randomisation and a variable to store the heading)
Cartesian co-ordinates xcor, ycor
Print feature to obtain xcor, ycor and heading when required
Positioning the turtle, eg. at the next circle centre
Heading of turtle (required for initial arc positioning)
Screen size x +- 340, y +- 265
Color codes ROYGBIV 0-100
Shade codes darkest 0, lightest 100
Naming procedures, using helpful or meaningful names systematically

COMBINING KNOWLEDGE
Division estimation to determine dot spacing in an arc

eg 1. 6 dots in an arc of 90 degrees
Angle to turn = 90/6 = 15
Procedure: repeat 6 [ forward backward stuff then right 15]

eg 2) 8 dots in an arc of 170 degrees
Angle to turn = 170/8 = 21
Procedure: repeat 8 [ forward backward stuff then right 21]

Guess and test (tweaking): estimate, try it out, modify, test again (iterate, iterate, iterate)
Recording tweaks for efficient comparison, eg. to work out x and y coordinates for circle centre
Solution evaluation eg. the dots lack variation, how can I vary them more? (now implemented, they are slightly lumpy)

DISPOSITIONS
Try / fail / try again
Persistence, Flexibility, Tolerance of error / debugging

REFERENCE:
Turtle Art program

Turtle, Art, Turtle Art by Paula Bonta, Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman (2010)

Turtle Art Software by Gary Stager
This article contains a link to Gary's Turtle Art cards which I found extremely useful.

Monday, July 08, 2019

second iteration of a NAIDOC week poster using Turtle Art

Here is the poster again, or rather part of it:


This time I want to add the pale dots in the background. But how do I do that without them intruding into the centre? It's a matter of sequence. First do the dark blue background. Then do the pale dots all over. Finally, redo a dark blue, filled circle in the centre to overlay the pale dots there.

Here's the procedure for doing the background and pale dots all over:
Dark blue color = 70
Pale dots color = 40

Screen dimension are from  -340 x to +340, from -265 y to +265. I used random to position 100 dots anywhere within those parameters.

pendown (pd) then forward 0 makes the dots

Here's the procedure for filling in the centre with dark blue again over the top of the dots there:

Put the turtle in the centre, set the color and shade, put the pen down (pd) and rotate around 360 degrees drawing the dark blue lines. The pensize was set to 6 earlier.



Here's the final effect, also showing the tops of the procedures which draw the whole thing:

first iteration of a NAIDOC week poster using Turtle Art

POSTER IMAGE
This is a first iteration. Yes, it could be improved. I'm only showing part of the poster and only attempting to make a part of it digitally using Turtle Art:

Turtle Art image:

BREAKING IT DOWN
To draw a single dot:
The turtle begins in the centre
penup
forward 100
pendown
set color 0 (0 = red)
set pensize 8 (determined by testing different numbers)
forward 0 (this is how to draw a dot)
penup
back 100 (return the turtle to the centre)

To draw a circle of dots:
repeat 360 [single dot then right 1]
But then the dots are too close together, so increase right 1 to right 2 or 4 or 9 (factors of 36)
repeat 40 [single dot right 9]
9*40 = 360 (the turtle makes one complete trip around the circle)

The next diagram just shows the code to do the background and a circle of red dots:

Next step
To draw a slightly bigger circle of orange dots
Duplicate the red circle code
Increase forward 100 to forward 110 and increase back 100 to back 110
Change set color 0 (red) to set color 10 (orange)
The next diagram shows the code for doing the orange circle:

Next: complete the cyan and blue dot circles
Duplicate the code again
Just increase the circle size and change the colours (cyan = 50, light blue = 60)
See the picture at the start

Sunday, July 07, 2019

how to evaluate construction kits: ten design principles

update (July 8): The reason this article resonates so strongly with me is that nearly everything it says also relates to how to teach a good lesson, how to design a great curriculum and how to critique wooden curriculum guidelines such as ACARA's Digital Technology.

I think teachers need a guide to evaluate the enormous array of construction kits that have come on stream: Makey Makey, Arduino, Little Bits, Ozobot, Micro:bit, Chibi Chip, Circuit Playground Express, Lilypad, Bee-Bot, Dash and Dot, Sphero, Edison, Drones – add or choose your favourite

Some Reflections on Designing Construction Kits for Kids by Mitch Resnick and Brian Silverman (2005)

This is a 2005 article. In some respects the technologies have moved on. But it remains an elegant guide as to how to both choose and use technology construction kits for learning powerful ideas. I’ve thrown a few of my thoughts into this summary.

1. Design for Designers

Some kits are too finished and polished. With the best kits, the user can design a wide variety of interesting things, it is not finished or limited to a narrow range of functions.

2. Low Floor and Wide Walls

Seymour Papert put forward the slogan “low floor, high ceiling”. The truth is that with Scratch, under the leadership of Mitch Resnick, wide walls were given preference to the high ceiling. There are some things you can’t do with Scratch, that you could do with other, earlier versions of logo. This has provoked criticism (eg. I believe from Alan Kay commenting on Mark Guzdial's blog but I can't find the link right now) as well as other designs to put the high ceiling back (eg. SNAP by Jens Monig and Brian Harvey, watch this video).

Initially, my position was that I wanted it all: the low floor, the high ceiling and the wide walls. But the truth is that Scratch has scaled dramatically (40 million projects on the Scratch website in 2018) whereas other more powerful versions of logo or etoys haven’t. There are a number of reasons for this but its relative simplicity is one of them.

Since I’m now focused on inclusion for all, STEAM for the 99%, I can appreciate more Mitch Resnick’s argument that too many high level features create hurdles that discourage many users.

3. Make powerful ideas salient – not forced
“We have found that trying to teach powerful ideas directly is not very effective. Rather, our strategy is to provide opportunities for kids to encounter and use powerful ideas as a natural part of design experiences.”
This is a huge issue which I won’t try to cover in a shortish blog post. What are powerful ideas and how are they best taught? I think the approach advocated here by Mitch and Brian is one very good way to introduce kids to powerful ideas. I also think that they do have to be taught, even though that is hard, because by their nature they are not easily learnt.

Ask me for articles about this if interested, they were previously at Learning Evolves but this shut down when wikispaces was abandoned, unfortunately.

4. Support many paths, many styles

The authors here relate a story where one group uses the full features of LEGO-logo (their style is described as “patterners” or “hards”) while another group initially doesn’t (their style is described as “dramatists” or “softs”). The patterners were more comfortable doing the coding. The authors took a hands off, non interventionist approach.
“We worried that the students would miss out on some of the powerful ideas underlying the LEGO/Logo activity. But we didn’t interfere”
The way they tell it, it has a happy ending. The dramatists do end up coding their ferris wheel. But what would the authors have done if that group had continued to avoid the coding?

5. Make it as simple as possible – and maybe even simpler
“One reason (PROBLEM) is “creeping featurism”: advances in technology make it possible to add new features, so each new generation of products has more and more features.”
YES!! Personally, I find creeping featurism incredibly frustrating. It often gets in the way of me doing the task I want to do on the computer, not to mention cursing.


“We have found that reducing the number of features often improves the user experience. What initially seems like a constraint or limitation can, in fact, foster new forms of creativity.”
They then describe two of their designs, the first is a programmable brick with 4 motors and 6 sensors which is the size of a kid’s juice box.The second is a cricket with 2 motors and 2 sensors which is the size of a matchbox.

The simpler Cricket proved to be more popular!
“But once we had developed the scaled-down version, which we called a Cricket, people kept finding more and more creative applications for it, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) its apparent limitations. Over time, we shifted our research effort, making the Cricket the centerpiece of our new construction kits”
Once again the KISS principle wins. This echoes the point above about wide walls displacing the high ceiling.

6. Choose black boxes carefully

Black boxes are chosen to facilitate certain types of learning and to hide other types of learning. Three examples are given:
  • building robots – facilitates the learning of gearing, feedback and control (and hides the learning of how motors work)
  • turtle geometry – facilitates the learning of the geometry of polygons (and hides the learning of how forward requires trigonometry to implement)
  • colour of LEDs – make colour as simply as possible (map it to 0-100) so as to integrate it with other things such as temperature.
7. A little bit of programming goes a long way

KISS works for the 99%
“We continue to believe in the value of everyone learning to program, but we are also well aware of the difficulties of learning to program. Many beginning programmers hit a plateau, able to write simple programs, but unable to go further. We have found that it is difficult to help kids get beyond this plateau. But, over the years, we have begun to realize that being “stuck” on the plateau is not such a big problem: kids can learn a great deal, and benefit a great deal, while they are on the plateau. We have shifted our efforts, trying to leverage what kids can do well, rather than focusing on what they can’t. Kids generally have little difficulty learning to use imperative (action-oriented) commands (like forward and on), simple control structures (like repeat), basic conditionals, and simple procedural abstraction. So we have been developing programming languages and contexts that enable kids to do a lot with those basic elements….

Our new Scratch programming language has similar qualities, enabling kids to manipulate rich media (sounds, music, animations) with simple combinations of commands.”
Once again, they are explaining an important reason for the success of Scratch. If as teachers we become too anxious about forcing higher level thinking then that often backfires and turns kids off coding.

We still want to teach higher level thinking. The challenge is how to develop environments which facilitate internal development of its need, rather than external forcing.

In practice schools just put it into the curriculum (ACARA) and it becomes a sink or swim exercise.

8. Give people what they want – not what they ask for
“Rather than asking users what they want, we have found it more productive to observe users interacting with our prototypes, and try to infer what they want (and don’t want) from their actions. Often, their actions speak louder than their words. It is usually easy to see when users get frustrated, even if they don’t articulate their frustration.”
I see this as a sophisticated and enlightened form of leadership which transcends both a top down preordained blue print approach and a bottom up populist approach. The teacher / designer / leader does know more about the educational goals which are desirable to be achieved. But they do have to pay close attention to both the abilities and desires of their students and factor that into their decision making of what to do next and how to achieve those broader goals in an interesting rather than formalistic manner. This makes teaching an interactive art form.

9. Invent things that you would want to use yourself

I’ve previously called this the “eat your own dog food” approach, a slogan which developed out of the open source movement.
“We aim to build not only new technologies, but also communities of people who can help kids learn with those new technologies. And we have found that it is easiest to build those communities if everyone involved (adults as well as kids) enjoy using the technologies.”
The technologies which I am currently promoting (eg. Scratch3.0, the micro:bit, the Hummingbird:bit, Turtle Art, Makey Makey, App Inventor) are ones that I do enjoy using myself. In the past when I promoted Game Maker I did build games myself with it and used them as part of my teaching.

10. Iterate, iterate - then iterate again

Curriculum guidelines such as ACARA Design Technology put too much emphasis on getting the planning right first before making a product. As the authors argue here it is better to have an idea, build a quick and dirty prototype and then continue to iterate.
“… we put a high priority on “tinkerability” – we want to encourage kids to mess with the materials, to try out multiple alternatives, to shift directions in the middle of the process, to take things apart and create new versions. Kids learn new lessons with each iteration. ...

In developing new technologies, we have found that we never get things quite right on the first try. We are constantly critiquing, adjusting, modifying, revising. The ability to develop rapid prototypes is critically important in this process. We find that storyboards are not enough; we want functioning prototypes. Initial prototypes don’t need to work perfectly, just well enough for us (and our users) to play with, to experiment with, to talk about….

We find that our best conversations (and our best ideas) happen when we start to play with new prototypes – and observe users playing with the prototypes. Almost as soon as we start to play with (and talk about) one prototype, we start to think about building the next….

This process requires both the right tools (to support rapid development of new prototypes) and the right mindset (to be willing to throw out a prototype soon after creating it). Too often, the software-development community seems to follow a paradigm of: plan ahead, design carefully, then implement once ….

We much prefer the paradigm proposed by our colleague John Maeda: imagine, realize, critique, reflect, iterate”

Friday, July 05, 2019

would you like to see a toilet roll dance?



Making the jitterbug with the Hummingbird Bit was another fun project: challenging, quirky, achievable, with an engaging final product.

I do believe that the Hummingbird Bit creates the possibility of STEAM for the 99%

All I needed was a toilet roll, pipe cleaner, cardboard, Stanley knife and an eyelet punch. Everything else was supplied by the Hummingbird Bit Premium Kit: two position servos, 2 mono colour LEDS, one tri colour LED, one light sensor.

Instructions

One tricky bit was figuring out how the position servos were lined up and how to co-ordinate them. Since they go into opposite sides of the tube with rotors on the outside then the front position for one is at 180 degrees and the front position for the other is at 0 degrees.

This didn’t become clear to me until I wrote some code finding the initial positions with an A button press for one foot and a B button press for the other foot.
After that it wasn’t hard to get the feet moving. I used random over a range of 40 degrees to make the dance more unpredictable.

Coding the LEDs was straightforward. The tri colour LED, wrapped in a pipe cleaner, was for the antenna.

Finally, I added the light sensor to trigger the dance once the light faded. Here is the code which is triggered by placing your thumb over the light sensor:
Related: bee waggle project with the Hummingbird Bit

Afterword:
After finishing this project I left it set up and did other things. Later that day, hours later, as the light was fading I suddenly heard a noise and sensed some lights flashing. The jitterbug had begun to dance again as the light faded!

Thursday, July 04, 2019

David Smerdon

I wanted to register my support and appreciation to Australian Chess Grandmaster David Smerdon for two great articles about his visit to Kenya to research Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Actually, the second article is mainly about chess since he became caught up in the chess enthusiasm there, partly fueled by mini chess being used in the education system. The first article does outline the living conditions in Kenya in some detail.

Read David's articles here:
Kenya, Part 1
Kenya, Part 2

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

bee waggle project with the Hummingbird Bit

I conclude here that this is a better and less expensive pathway for soft technological artistry than LEGO Mindstorms



This is my first Hummingbird Bit project. It was a fun project. The Hummingbird Bit has an outstanding design.



I had to explore the input and output features of the Hummingbird Bit. The important ones for this project were the position and rotation servo outputs.



Then I had to buy the materials and build the bee. Finally, I had to code the bee to point and waggle.



I've also done an evaluation of how it maps onto the ACARA Digital Technology curriculum and how that process could be made more interesting.

BUILDING THE BEE

The lesson plan provided by BirdBrain suggests that the teacher builds a sample bee beforehand and shows it at the right strategic moment to help the students get on with it. The main challenge in the lesson in the BirdBrain design (where less help is provided) comes in the coding section.



Issues: Hummingbird projects employ craft materials and so end up more diverse and less "blocky" than your typical LEGO projects. Lets call that soft technological artistry, aka STEAM rather than STEM.

CODING THE BEE

If you look at the Attenborough video you see the bee attracts an audience, points, waggles, walks around clockwise, waggles again, then walks around anti-clockwise waggles again etc.

So, initially I opted for the rotation servo because it can move through the full 360 degrees whereas the position servo can only move through 180 degrees.

This, however, was not the best move because of some quirks in transferring code (which makes logical sense or at least I think so) into the physical world. There is a problem here I haven't solved yet but won't go into details because it would take up too much space. Is there a Help Group for such problems, I'll look later.

So, in the end I opted for the position servo despite it's limited functionality in only being able to rotate 180 degrees. The bee turns out to be a smarter coder than me!



ACARA CARDBOARD

Can't help it. From the year 7-8 Design Tech curriculum here are some of the objectives which are covered or could be covered depending partly on how this project is organised in the classroom:
  • Define and decompose real-world problems taking into account functional requirements and economic, environmental, social, technical and usability constraints (ACTDIP027)
  • Design the user experience of a digital system, generating, evaluating and communicating alternative designs (ACTDIP028)
  • Design algorithms represented diagrammatically and in English, and trace algorithms to predict output for a given input and to identify errors (ACTDIP029)
  • Implement and modify programs with user interfaces involving branching, iteration and functions in a general-purpose programming language (ACTDIP030)
  • Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031)
  • Plan and manage projects that create and communicate ideas and information collaboratively online, taking safety and social contexts into account (ACTDIP032)
I think an interesting way to manage ACARA guidelines would be through Talent Identification as outlined by Jennifer Cross in her PhD. I need to do some more work on that, too. In the process of completing this project I had to exercise
  • Improvisation skills in building the bee (the foam shapes I bought weren't all the right size so I returned to Mad Harry's to buy a pom pom for the bee's head)
  • Planning skills both with regard to buying materials and algorithmic planning for the code
  • Decomposition aka breaking the code into smaller bits, ie. doing the rotation through 180 degrees and the waggle sequence separately and then putting them back together
  • Pattern recognition, there is iteration (repeats) in the code for both the bee waggling and the bee rotating
  • Constraints with regard to choosing either the rotation or position servo and problems I had with the rotation servo
  • Persistence, in particular, in attempting to resolve problems with the rotation servo
In conclusion, I think a strong case can be argued for the Hummingbird Bit as a better pathway for soft technological artistry as well as less expensive when compared with LEGO Mindstorms.

REFERENCE

Introductory video showing the capabilities of the Hummingbird Bit

Program, Build, Teach and Resources for Hummingbird Bit and MakeCode

Bee Waggle video and link to lesson plans

in what mode does the bee code?

Bees are smart coders, developed through a painstaking evolutionary process. Bees have been around for 120 million years.

We humans study bees, can learn from them and model their behaviour. Humans (Homo sapiens) have been around for 200,000 - 300,000 years.

In this blog I'll just show the bees behaviour and my emulation of it. In the next blog I'll go into educational detail. I should acknowledge BirdBrain Technologies for their assistance.

Attenborough explains the bee's waggle dance. To watch in YouTube go here



Here's the simulation I did to partly imitate the clever bee:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

turtle art: beautiful maths

You might be interested in Turtle Art. The underlying idea is to turn maths into an art form. A turtle is programmed to move around the screen drawing lines or dots of different thickness, colour and shade. It is fairly amazing how beautiful the end products can look. I plan to use it to get kids more engaged with numbers, that numbers can be used to produce art as well as their other uses.

There is a gallery here showing what can be done:

I've been studying the code behind some of the pictures and think I now have a good understanding of how many of the effects can be achieved.

Initially, my idea was that some aboriginal art could be imitated using Turtle Art, eg. dot paintings. Possibly this could be done. But I'm thinking more now that Turtle Art is just an art form in it's own right, with its own characteristics (some things are easy to do, some things harder to do in this form). It's also possible that some or many aboriginal people may not want their art imitated in digital form. I don't really know.
Turtle Art has been developed by Brian Silverman and Artemis Papert. For more information about the sort of software that Brian Silverman has been producing go to the Playful Invention Company Project page

Reference:
Turtle, Art, Turtle Art by Paula Bonta, Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman (2010)

Turtle Art Software by Gary Stager
This article contains a link to Gary's Turtle Art cards which I found extremely useful. Thanks, Gary!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

tangram

A bit of fun with the tangram at school:

Friday, June 21, 2019

making sense of the micro:bit

For me, the immediate attraction of the micro:bit was it’s low cost combined with it’s block coding and wicked on line simulator at https://makecode.microbit.org/#editor

This has led to a personal learning curve about it’s capabilities and it’s connections.

By its capabilites I mean what this technology offers for educators and what it leaves out and so requires further, thoughtful expenditure.

By its connections I mean what forces are pushing and promoting the micro:bit (very relevant to its current and future success) and how does it integrate into the broader movement of what we tend to think of, either with one eyed hyped enthusiasm, “STEM conquers the world”, or ironically, “unstoppable technological progress”.

How and where does the micro:bit fit into the bewildering array of new technologies and companies ushered in by the maker movement? To list just some of the technologies: Makey Makey, Arduino, Little Bits, Ozobot, Micro:bit, Chibi Chip, Circuit Playground Express, Lilypad, Bee-Bot, Dash and Dot, Sphero, Edison, Drones – add or choose your favourite.

With such a wide choice what is needed is some meaningful evaluation. CSER Digital Technologies has made a beginning to this task, although more needs to be done.

I’ll adopt the Martinez / Stager overview that two out of three “game changers” are wrapped up in the micro:bit, namely coding and physical computing.

By physical computing I mean tangible devices which take computing beyond the confines of the screen.

With blocks, coding has become easier and accessible to the 99%. This began with Scratch and now everyone has jumped on board. Makecode has been developed by MicroSoft.

Arduino has been around for a while but a huge issue which always put me off was that it required coding in C. This presents a big barrier to inclusion for all.

Micro:bit coding with MakeCode is far simpler with blocks (and JavaScript and MicroPython are also available). The micro:bit is also a new species of microcontroller in that it has buttons, sensors and display built right into the board.

The micro:bit does require a bigger computer to code it. But once coded and untethered we step outside of the computer lab into the world of mobile and wearable computers.

By way of illustration, some of the interesting things you can do with the micro:bit include:
  • make a game of rock, paper, scissors and strap it to your wrist to play
  • use the on board accelerometer to make a simplified version of Pacman (Hero), the character moves by tilting the microbit
  • use the radio to send messages between microbits
Scratch3.0, which was released in January 2019, includes a microbit extension which enable two way interactivity between Scratch and the microbit. For examples, you can write code about whether students prefer cats and dogs by pressing the A or B button on the microbit. This can be adapted to voting on anything. Pass the laptop around the room and as the votes appear on the screen a cat or dog icon is stamped as well. This requires Scratch Link and bluetooth 4.

Initially, the microbit requires tethering through the USB cable, you write your Makecode, test it on the simulator, flash it over to the micro:bit and then untether, connect your battery and take it outside, if you want.

With the further development, however, of Microblocks, you can have live coding before the untethering. MicroBlocks runs right inside the microcontroller board so as you write your code you see the effects immediately on the microbit.

The microbit is inexpensive hardware so inevitably it does have some limitations. Since kids love sounds one important limitation is no onboard speaker. But it does have 25 edge connector pins and four ring connectors which enables speakers, motors, light and more sensors to be connected.

Of course, this leads to more expense and decisions have to be made about the best way to go. I bought both the Kitronik Inventor’s Kit and the Monk Makes Electronics Starter Kit for microbit. They were both good but I’d put in a special mention for the Monk Makes speaker.

For more ambitious projects with a STEAM philosophy (A for Art) Martinez and Stager recommend the Hummingbird Bit developed by Tom Lauwers of Birdbrain technologies. This is more expensive, especially with our current exchange rate, and I’ve yet to trial it fully but it’s looking good to me so far.

I think there has to be a pragmatic yet deep educational programme underwriting the technology. For me, this is provided by the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide developed by the Creative Computing Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

So rich has this new era become that it threatens us with metaphorical overload. The original metaphor from Seymour Papert was low floor, high ceiling (easy start, no limits). Then Mitch Resnik included wide walls (diversity in projects). Then with the remix features on the Scratch site, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke added on open windows (for collaboration). Then with the micro:bit microcontroller we can move outside the house, wear it and play.

Reference:

Creative Computing Curriculum Guide

CSER Digital Technologies Lending Library and Lesson Plans

Maloney, John. Microblocks:Live Programming For Microcontrollers

Martinez, Sylvia and Stager, Gary. Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom (2nd Edition, 2019)

Gary Stager's Cards for Scratch and the microbit

Hummingbird Bit

Kafai, Yasmin and Burke, Quinn. Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming (2016)

Kitronik Inventor's Kit for BBC micro:bit

Makecode micro:bit editor

Microbit

Microblocks

Monk Makes Electronic Starter Kit for micro:bit

Scratch3.0

Saturday, June 15, 2019

extreme weather and inconvenient truths

Inconvenient truth 1: There is no convincing evidence of a link between extreme weather and climate change.

Inconvenient truth 2: Well researched scientists (eg. Roger Pielke jnr, Judith Curry) who argue for Inconvenient truth 1 will be falsely, maliciously and relentlessly accused of being climate change deniers, in the pay of energy companies etc.

My Evidence:
Twitter thread roll out by Roger Pielke jnr
(an incredible must read!)

Ross McKitrick: This scientist proved climate change isn’t causing extreme weather — so politicians attacked

Extremes by Judith Curry

Related (in this blog):
The Climate Fix by Roger Pielke jnr

a new inconvenient truth

environmental talking points and references

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Hey Pedrea!


Best to watch on the YouTube link

When you are rich and famous don't forget your old friends ;-)

More: Cheeky comedy 'Robbie Hood' premieres Friday 5 July on SBS On Demand

Director Dylan River said:
“Robbie Hood is my gift to the youth of Alice Springs and the rest of the world. It's inspired by my own life and the first-hand experiences of my friends and family. The show is a combination of the highs and lows of our upbringing in a small desert town that we have a love hate relationship with. I am thrilled to see these stories come to life and find their home on SBS.”

Sunday, June 02, 2019

the cross

Just down the road from where I teach you can find this cross.

I never knew what it meant until I read Kieran Finnane's book Trouble: On Trial in Central Australia

I won't attempt to explain it here. It's not possible to do the issues justice in a few words.

But for anyone who wants to understand our frontier, where whites and blacks still mingle but more often than not without communicating, I'd strongly recommend this book.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

free Behrouz from Manus Prison

The MEAA (Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance) is collecting signatures from writers in support of Behrouz Boochani. Details here

See here and here for earlier blogs about his book, No Friend but the Mountains.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

I heard it on the radio ....

... that Bob Hawke died and someone thought he was great

But then I saw it on You Tube, that:
promises can disappear
just like writing in the sand
best to follow the direct link to Yothu Yindi's Treaty

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Knowledge Unlatched

Open research library
The Open Research Library (ORL) will include all Open Access scholarly book content worldwide on one platform for user-friendly discovery, offering a seamless experience navigating more than 20,000 Open Access books. This comprehensive collection of peer-reviewed Open Access books will be openly accessible for everyone. Libraries investing in the Open Research Library contribute to the development of a vital infrastructure for the global research community, while participating libraries have the opportunity to benefit from a set of exclusive services.
- About Open Research Library

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Writing through Fences

The true knowledge of Australian political realities does not lie within the phoney puppet show of the try hards Morrison and Shorten but is contained in the writings of the oppressed who from other countries attempted the journey to "free" Australia and for their troubles and suffering were then incarcerated by our government.

Behrouz dedicated his amazing book, No Friend but the Mountains to Janet Galbraith, "who is a bird". This is explained on page xvii. Behrouz sometimes uses a pen name and they discussed birds. The Pacific Heron is a bird that flies between Manus Prison and Australia.

Looking further we discover that Janet co-ordinates Writing Through Fences which supports the writing of incarcerated or previously detained refugees:
Writing Through Fences aims to create a safe place in which writers and artists can explore their ideas, creativity, experiences and identities within, before and despite immigration detention. We aim to open a place to re-member, a place to launch our work from, and to push aside walls that would attempt to contain and destroy us and our work. We believe that creation is necessary to ward off the killing effects of destruction.

Arrernte Language app

Arrernte is an indigenous language of Central Australia (Alice Springs / Mparntwe). English speakers, such as myself, find the words hard to pronounce. With this app someone learning the language can sit with a fluent speaker and if they mispronounce the words the fluent speaker can record a better version.

It comes with 50 Arrernte words already recorded and stored in the cloud DB.

It wouldn't take very much work to convert this app to any other language where new speakers find the words hard to pronounce.

Here is the direct link to the Arrernte language app. This app was written by myself with the help of my friend Paul using MIT App Inventor.

This version is an *.aia file, which is the editable source code created by App Inventor. You can load it in App Inventor and convert it to an *.apk (the executable version) there for use on your Android phone.

My apps (both *.aia and *.apk versions) are stored on Google Drive, here, if you want to check them out. Probably you will have to send me a request asking for permission to access.

More: write your own apps

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Fischer Random Chess

Very interesting that The World Fischer Random Chess Championship is now officially recognized by FIDE. My experience with this in the past was that the top players avoided it because it undermines all their standard opening preparation. Wonderful that it is now recognised as the way forward by FIDE and the world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen.

Source: Chess.com Announces FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship

It is also known as Chess960. Chess960 introduces restrictions on the randomization, "preserving the dynamic nature of the game by retaining bishops of opposite colours for each player and the right to castle for both sides".The result is 960 unique possible starting positions. Two of the possible 960 starting positions are shown below.
I don't know when, but I think we are approaching that [the end of chess] very rapidly. I think we need a change in the rules of chess. For example, I think it would be a good idea to shuffle the first row of the pieces by computer ... and this way you will get rid of all the theory. One reason that computers are strong in chess is that they have access to enormous theory [...] I think if you can turn off the computer's book, which I've done when I've played the computer, they are still rather weak, at least at the opening part of the game, so I think this would be a good improvement, and also just for humans. It is much better, I think, because chess is becoming more and more simply memorization, because the power of memorization is so tremendous in chess now. Theory is so advanced, it used to be theory to maybe 10 or 15 moves, 18 moves; now, theory is going to 30 moves, 40 moves. I think I saw one game in Informator, the Yugoslav chess publication, where they give an N [theoretical novelty] to a new move, and I recall this new move was around move 50. [...] I think it is true, we are coming to the end of the history of chess with the present rules, but I don't say we have to do away with the present rules. I mean, people can still play, but I think it's time for those who want to start playing on new rules that I think are better."
— Fischer (September 1, 1992)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Behrouz Boochani

Reading Behrouz Boochani's magnificent book, No Friend But the Mountains makes it very, very clear that the Australian Government has systematically tortured asylum seekers and refugees.

The Immigration Minister who introduced this regime was Scott Morrison (our current PM), who often refused to answer questions about the status of asylum seekers (see here for more detail)

Further reference:
Australian Government must act following damning comments by Former President of Nauru (April 18, 2019)

Nauru mental health situation equivalent to 'victims of torture', Medecins Sans Frontieres says ( 3 Dec 2018)

Australia subjected refugees to crimes against humanity, class actions allege (10 Dec 2018)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

remember space invaders?

I found this on a wall in Brown St, Alice Springs:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"justice" 1870's-1930's

The late Paddy Tucker independently stated that he believed Willoberta Jack to have been poisoned. As he explained, from the 1870's-1930's no Aboriginal or person of Aboriginal descent could expect to escape if he or she killed a white person, even though the killing might be in self defence. There were always some white people who would ensure that the Aboriginal person was killed in the name of "justice" and "keeping the niggers in line".
Footnote 5, p. 124 Man from Arltunga: Walter Smith Australian Bushman by RG Kimber
Background information: Willoberta killed Harry Henty in the late 1920s after Henty attempted to shoot Willoberta because Willoberta refused to allow Henty to rape his underage daughter. Willoberta went into hiding for years and when he emerged was found not guilty by reason of self defence. But later on a fella by the name of Jimmy Donu gave Willoberta a bag of flour in which poison was chucked in before the flour was put in.

Monday, April 15, 2019

What is AIME?

Wonderful video's here:

Welcome to AIME

Cogs

AIME website

I wrote about the book earlier

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Assange

Birgitta Jonsdottir: link
Poetician. Advisor in Digital Democracy. Public Speaker. Co-creator & former MP in #Iceland for the Pirate Party, co-editor Collateral Murder, exWikiLeaks
When I was fighting my own legal battle with the US Department of Justice in relation to my WikiLeaks work back in the day, I was advised by the Icelandic state department not to travel to America.

The reason: the US establishment does not forget nor forgive.

We are seeing exactly the same play out today. Even if one could criticise Julian Assange for constantly poking his angry host, I never thought that the Ecuadorian President would actually revoke asylum status of anyone, no matter how annoying the house guest is.

The arrest of Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK is not only deeply disturbing, but will set a very dangerous example and erode further the rights of political asylum seekers.

There is a clear vendetta going on, as seen in the treatment of the other person mentioned in the US indictment against Assange: Chelsea Manning. She has now been in prison for 35 days because she refused to engage in a federal grand jury. They kept her in solitary confinement for 28 days.

The only motivation is cruelty and vendetta. Her treatment before the trial was considered to amount to torture by the UN and Amnesty International.

Requests have been made for Assange not be extradited if he faces a threat to his life, via a variety of execution methods available in the land of the “free”. Hence this ridiculous hacking indictment.

It’s arguably innocent looking – just some hacking stuff – stating that Assange would get five years maximum in prison. By presenting the indictment in this way, those who promised to protect him will keep face and it will make it easier to extradite him without everyone getting motivated to fight it.

After all the defiant and often reckless manoeuvres by Assange towards US authorities, it’s obvious that he will be treated harshly and he will never get a fair and open trial. There is already speculation that the current indictment is just a pretext to get him flown over and then be indicted with various other charges of a more serious nature.

One could argue that this is a pretty good hack by US authorities. Without a doubt, the UK authorities will be happy to get rid of Assange, especially with the country currently paralysed by Brexit.

Anyone who has followed WikiLeaks for as long as I have knows that, if there ever was a time to fight for Assange, it is now.

I made a promise not only to myself but to him as well a long time ago that, if this day ever came, that I would fight against any attempts to bring him to America.

I really hope that everyone, despite what they think of him as a person, can look beyond the personality and understand what is at stake here for the future of journalism, the right to know about wrongdoing of powerful entities, such as humans, or their husks of an authority.

Everyone who cares about what WikiLeaks stood for back in the day – freedom of information, expression and the protection of whistleblowers – have to do everything in their power to stop him being extradited to the US.

Press freedom is under serious attack all over the world. The court case against Assange’s extradition will be one of the world’s most important tests if justice is to prevail for those freedoms and those who are willing to risk everything to shine a light in the dark corners of corruption, power and greed.

Birgitta Jonsdottir collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2009/2010 on various projects such as IMMI and the co-production of Collateral Murder.

my educational computing CV update

In the past couple of years I have renewed my computer ed development, building on a strong commitment earlier in my career.

2019
I’m teaching Year 7 computing at __________. I wrote a course based on the ACARA Digital Technologies criteria but can only deliver it in part due to the limited lesson allocation (one term per class, 2 lessons a week).

For these lesson I’ve focused on computer coding using Scratch 3 and the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide (Scratch 3.0) developed by The Creative Computing Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

I’m continuing to explore new ways of making computer coding accessible to students who previously have been disenfranchised, such as the indigenous and girls, as follows:
  • developed a set of indigenous icons suitable for use in Scratch and have used these successfully in class. On my list of things to do is to develop on screen indigenous art using Turtle Art / Turtle Blocks (Brian Silverman version; Walter Bender version)
  • purchased a Lilypad Arduino Sew Electric Kit which brings together craft, electronic and programming, producing wearable products.
  • purchased a Chibitronics Love to Code kit which uses electronic circuits on paper in a storybook format.
  • continuing my research by reading online PhD theses by Tom Lauwers, Debra Bernstein and Jennifer Cross available through Bird Brain Technologies Research page
  • I've just ordered a Hummingbird bit which from my research is the best robot building tool around at this point
2018
I completed two courses run by the Computer Science Education Research Group at The School of Computer Science, The University of Adelaide (CSER MOOCs). These were:
  • CSER F-6 Digital Technologies: Foundations course
  • Years 7 and 8 Digital Technologies: Next Steps Making Apps course
The latter course utilised MIT App Inventor and using this program I’ve written several apps for my Android phone

I have published one of my apps online (“Arrernte Language”) which improves the learning of an indigenous language (Arrernte) and could be easily modified for any other language. For me, this was a challenging app to build, my friend Paul helped a lot in a collaborative effort.

Following these courses I read more widely and wrote and published “The teaching of coding” (2,100 words) which outlines a creative and productive way to teach coding.

The latest theory and practice advocates active collaboration between students in the learning of programming. This is built into the online Scratch site (especially with the Remix feature). With this in mind I have also explored the Collabrify suite developed by Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris.

I’ve purchased a Tello drone and explored its functions

I read “Internet on the Outstation” by Ellie Rennie and co about the still unsolved problems of providing Internet to very remote locations in Australia

I explored the possibility of using RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) to solve the problem of poor Internet access to very remote Australians. It's a portable plug-and-play server which stores educational websites and makes that content available over any local (offline) wireless connection

TANGIBLES and the BBC micro:bit
An important recent development in digital education has been low cost tangible devices with microcontrollers which have a beyond the screen input output functionality. I’ve spent a lot of time with the BBC micro:bit, learning MakeCode and MicroPython and have:
  • written a preliminary course outline
  • run micro:bit workshops for IndigiMOB in three Alice Springs town camps and at the Polly Farmer after school program at Centralian Middle School
  • explored micro:bit extensions into electronics with the Kitronik and Monk Makes kits.

EARLIER YEARS

I have:
  • been recognised as a CEGSA (Computing Education Group of South Australia) Leading Light (acknowledging contributions to ICT in Education) in both 2006 and 2007
  • designed courses at Year 11 level which integrate Scratch (Logo) into an ideas-design-evaluate-develop framework
  • run in service sessions in Scratch software for Woodville High School (South Australia) staff and at CEGSA conferences
  • written papers and presented talks at conferences about Logo philosophy and related issues: game making, Seymour Papert's constructionism and Alan Kay's educational philosophy
  • initiated blogs and wikis that evaluated the software on the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which included Scratch and Etoys, another visual drag and drop programming language
  • developed expertise with SNAP, a more high powered reimplementation of Scratch, for upper secondary and University level Computer Science.
  • experience in teaching text based programming languages, in particular, Python

I am an advocate and active user of Open Source software since it is free and often very good. I note the potential of indigenous language dictionaries being incorporated into Libre Office.

I have a long term ongoing interest in the issue of affordable / cheap, reliable computing hardware. I was an active participant in the OLPC (one laptop per child) project and pursue an interest in Raspberry Pi and tablets.