Friday, February 10, 2012

some possible uses of information technology on the APY Lands

I visited Peter Ruwoldt at Grant High School in Mt Gambier, during his farewell sessions at the end of the 2011 school year.

 Peter (Wara) is working as an educator at Ernabella in 2012, with the possibility of this continuing for 5 years. Peter began his teaching career at Fregon in the 1980s and is now returning to the APY Lands. Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) is a large Aboriginal local government area located in the remote north west of South Australia

Peter has a very strong background in IT technology and education and is expert in both Open Source and Windows based educational applications and is very familiar with the constructionist educational concepts promoted by Seymour Papert and Mitch Resnick. He has won various awards for his IT work, such as CEGSA (Computer Education Group of South Australia) teacher of the year.

  • Use IT to support teachers in teaching reading and writing of Pitjantjatjara. 
  • Cross age tutoring with older students being taught to teach younger students 

Peter's idea is to trial various ideas on a small scale, see how the students respond to them and take it from there.

 1) Pitjantjatjara spell checker Open Office or Libre Office Writer has an option for setting to various languages, which, in turn can activate a spell checker in that language. Peter plans to work with Pitjantjatjara language specialist, Paul Eckert, to enable this option. This requires a Pitjantjatjara word list for the spell checker (to be supplied by Paul Eckert) and some XML to integrate the word list into Open or Libre Office (to be supplied by Peter, see The Locale Generator). I mentioned to Peter that something similar had been done by Roland Gesthuizen for the Khmer language.

 2) Graphics tablets
Bamboo pen and touch CTH-661/SO-C
Needs to be large and pressure sensitive
software: Canvas Paint
Students responded enthusiastically to this opportunity during a recent visit by Peter to Ernabella

 3) One laptop per child or xo
We noticed that on the OLPC australia google map that Amata Anangu School will have full saturation of xos in 2012 (18 xos deployed June 2011; 82 xos pending deployment in 2012 – full saturation) Peter may decided to deploy xos at Ernabella.

 4) Music recording and editing using Audacity (already happening to some extent?)

 5) Scratch is an educational multimedia visual drag and drop programming language. Peter plans to make template programs using Scratch to support teachers in teaching reading and writing of Pitjantjatjara.

For example: Unmarked object on screen which when you click on it plays a sound of a Pitjantjatjara word, eg. Punu (tree). Another object on screen which contains the word spelt out, punu. The user drags the spelt out word icon onto the sound playing icon and the program generates a reward of some type. Students could then proceed to making their own sound and word objects, creating their own word – sound dictionary.

 6) Peter shared with me the excellent year 9-10 IT course, which he has developed, which is available on moodle. The course includes these sections:
  • Audio using Audacity
  • Basic photo editing using Paint.Net or GIMP
  • Diagrams and Vector graphics using Giffy
  • Mind mapping using or Mindomo
  • Making a small wiki about children's movies using wikispaces
  • Developing a Screen Recording tutorial using CamStudio or TipCam
  • Introduction to the Linux free operating system using the Ubuntu Live CD
  • Make your own online Cartoons and Animations using Captain Underpants, ToonDo, Witty Comics or Comic Creator
  • Computer Security
  • Create an online survey, implement it and graph the results on a spreadsheet
  • Use Google maps to pin point a particular area

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