Thursday, January 17, 2019


In December, last year at Polly Farmer we had a visit from Jono (check out his awesome site) to show us how to do Claymation. Here are some of the results. I did the nerdy maths one and the kids did the more creative ones.




Tuesday, January 08, 2019

write your own apps

I've made a few apps which run on my Android phone recently using MIT App Inventor. These include apps you can draw with (Digital Doodle), a game (Pong), a quiz (about US Presidents) and music (xylophone).
In some of these I just followed the tutorials but for a couple I extended them further. One issue here is that I feel I'm recovering some ownership of my phone over the unsolicited junk mail and messages I receive from all the vendors who are just "here to help".

The app I want to write is one which would help Arrernte native speakers correct my poor pronunciation of their language. At this point it is proving a challenge (to save and retrieve the recorded corrections) but I will get back to it. Thanks Paul, for your help.

As a computing teacher I'm very interested in understanding how app inventor can contribute to educational computing, which I argue is normally poorly done in schools. It was very encouraging to discover that the Computer Science Education Research (CSER) Group at Adelaide University highlighted App Inventor in their Year 7-8 MOOC for upskilling teachers, or anyone interested for that matter.

The apps I have made are available on google drive. I can't work out how to make that drive general public access but if you send a request I can make them available to you that way.

More to the point, I found the App Inventor tutorials and free online book, App Inventor 2: Create your own Android Apps to be extremely helpful.

update (Jan 9):Computational action!
MIT App Inventor has begun to frame its work in a theory of computational action: the idea that youth should learn about, and create with, computing in ways that provide them the opportunity to have direct impact in their lives Co and their communities. The App Inventor team is developing new features that allow students to more easily engage with authentic problems in their own lives with computational solutions. These features- maps, real-time collaboration, and support for Internet of Things applications, are powerful tools that students can bring to bear with minimal computing background in order to solve specific, local problems.

Mark A. Sherman, Mike Tissenbaum, Joshua Sheldon, Hal Abelson. (2018) Tools for Computational Action:New Features in MIT App Inventor. Tech Spotlight at Connected Learning Summit (CLS) 2018.

Gillen's Modest Record

I'm reading Gillen's Modest Record, his journal of the Spencer-Gillen anthropological expedition across Australia in 1901-02. The Editor, Philip Jones, has done a wonderful job. From Gillen's repeating of what he learnt from aboriginal people I have learnt more about their culture (very strange from our perspective) than any other source.

There's a photo on page 93 taken by Gillen of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, "snugly nestling in the valley of the Todd", where he "once ruled", from a hill. I tried to duplicate by climbing Trig Hill and my photo definitely does bear a resemblance. By the way, you can see a beautiful 360 degrees panorama of the MacDonnell ranges from Trig Hill.
Why is Trig Hill called Trig Hill? This is explained on a plaque at the top. Five years after the telegraph line was completed, the South Australian government sent a party of surveyors to central Australia. They arrived on 16th November 1877. Trig stations are points where latitude, longitude and height have been determined. They are used for making maps. Trig Hill was the first one, setup by Charles Winnecke.

I noticed another walking trail, named after Bradshaw, the telegraph station Postmaster who replaced Gillen in 1899. I did that walk earlier today, saw a couple of kangaroos and an amazing, hardy tree, and came out at the Todd River. Took another photo just to demonstrate that it is still not flowing!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

books I am reading in 2019

This includes some articles too, not just books

boyd, dana. It's Complicated (2014). Learn More. epub(scroll to bottom)
diSessa, Andrea. Computational Literacy and “The Big Picture” Concerning Computers in Mathematics Education (2018)
Jones, Philip. Gillen's Modest Record: His journal of the Spencer-Gillen anthropological expedition across Australia, 1901-02 (2017)
Kafai, Yasmin B and Burke, Quinn. Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming (2014)
Livingston, Eric. Ethnographies of Reason (2016)
Smerdon, David. Smerdon's Scandanavian (2015)
Sorva, Juha. Visual Program Simulation in Introductory Programming Education. Thesis (pdf available)
Sorva, Juha. Notional Machines and Introductory Programming Education (2013) pdf available
Wolber, David; Abelson, Hal; Spertus, Ellen & Looney, Liz App Inventor 2: Create your own Android Apps free online

2018 books
2017 books
2016 books
2015 books