02 August 2011

Organising for Software Freedom Day 2011


For Software Freedom Day this year in Auckland we are excited to have Orion Health sponsoring us again. They are providing us the use of Orion Cafe on Saturday 17 September from 10 – 4 so if you are in Auckland come along. Other cities around New Zealand are also participating in this international event. See http://softwarefreedomday.org.nz/ for details.

Software Freedom Day (SFD) is a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Software Freedom Day 2011 is officially Saturday 17th September, but in New Zealand we're spreading our celebrations over the week or so around that date. Check out the website to find out what's happening near you.

The principles behind FOSS are underpinned by the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve he software. You can read more about the four freedoms on the GNU website.

Our goal in this celebration is to educate the worldwide public about the benefits of using high quality FOSS in education, in government, at home, and in business - in short, everywhere!

21 July 2011

Moodle logoWith only a few days until Moodlemoot 2011 I thought I would write a bit about what to expect (in addition to a good time).

Guest International Keynote Speakers:
  • Martin Dougiamas - a man who needs no introduction in the Moodle community; Martin will be presenting remotely on "Where 2.0 now?"
  • Gavin Henrick of Remote-Learner in Canada and Enovation Solutions in Ireland - Gavin will be sharing his experiences with us in his keynote "Moodle from multiple perspectives"
There will be a great range of presentations throughout the conference, including technical sessions like Dan Marsden's talk on "Crot and Turnitin: plagiarism detection tools" and school sessions like "Moodle and Teaching as Inquiry" with Mark Osborne.
Perhaps the best bit on the programme - "Open Space" - time for 'user generated' discussion - it's led by you! and the conversation can go anywhere.

As usual, we will have workshops running the day before the two day conference.
  • Mobile Moodle workshop with Thom Cochrane and Vickel Narayan
  • Beginning Moodle Administration with Teresa Gibbison
  • Moodle foundation - essentials for newer users with Miriam Laidlaw
  • Using Moodle in NZ schools with Anton Coltham and Jacqui Land
The conference dinner, a not to be missed experience, will be held at "The Floating Pavilion" at the Viaduct.

If you haven't already registered this is really the last chance, so go to the online registration form here now. I look forward to seeing you there!

04 July 2011


It's time to register for Barcamp.

The fifth annual Barcamp Auckland unconference will be held on the 16th July at Botany Downs Secondary College.

What you need to know:

Define "Barcamp": Sort of like a conference, but not. AKA "unconference" because instead of having a schedule of presentations set by the organisers, at a Barcamp the attendees organise the schedule and it's generally more discussion the presentation. Basically, at a barcamp everyone should be participating in the conversation.

You can submit talk topics under the broad categories of - "HTML5", Native OS eg. iOS, Android, WP7, Mac, Windows, Design/UI, Productivity/Getting Things Done, or miscellaneous. 

The guy behind the Auckland Barcamp is Ludwig Wendzich.

Who goes? You will find developers, hackers, sys admins, makers, teachers, technologists, users, all sorts.

The awesome sponsors who make these possible: 
  • InternetNZ, platinum sponsor
  • Shift and Microsoft, gold sponsors
  • Webstock, Pixelfusion and Valentine Addis, silver sponsors
What is different about Barcamp Auckland this year?
There will be a panel discussing the future of NZ's internet (thinking NetHui anyone?) including
  • Clare Curran (Labour MP)
  • Gareth Hughes (Green MP)
  • Paul Brislen (TUANZ CEO)
  • Tim Mullins (IP Lawyer)
  • David Farrar (IT Political Commentator)
  • Vikram Kumar (InternetNZ)
  • Lance Wiggs (Moderator from InternetNZ)

30 April 2011

iMoot 2011

Nearing the end of day 1 of the iMoot 2011 and I have enjoyed watching some of the sessions from the comfort of my couch.

There is a bit of something for everyone in the conference programme this year. Today I have listened to Julian talking about his passion for Moodle, even calling it “married to Moodle”. I have heard Sue Dark talking about Totara, catering to corporate Moodle users. I have heard Tomaz talking about Mount Orange School, the demo site, which is a great way for people to try out Moodle 2 and for getting tips on course design. Miriam talked on Moodle and Second Life, and the Moodlebites talk from Stuart helping those who need to do staff development for Moodle 1.9 and newly available for Moodle 2.0 (in English and Spanish!).

If I could handle staying awake until 1.30am I would attend Shane’s talk about the history of Moodle; luckily I can replay the session at a more NZ friendly time.

Anyway, three more exciting days to go, and I think/hope I am all ready for my presentations. :-/

10 April 2011

Te Uku Wind Farm

Today we went to Te Uku wind generation site for a tour.

Te Uku is near Raglan (West coast) in the North Island of New Zealand, about thirty kilometres from Hamilton. Project Te Uku is a 64MW generation site built by Meridian Energy and WELNetworks Limited. After spending a few years in the energy industry I have quite an interest in renewable generation and in particular like wind farms, so enjoyed the chance to visit another one.

Te Uku turbineSo there are 28 Siemens 2.3MW turbines on 80 metre towers with 45 metre blades. That puts them at quite a bit bigger than the first wind farm I went to (and worked at) which was 1.65MW NEG Micon turbines on 70 metre towers with 35 metre blades. The Siemens nacelles are round, long and thin. The blades have a very unique curvature to them which I was quite interested in seeing in action after seeing them in photos.

Like many other wind generation sites this one is working farm land with both sheep and cattle grazing amongst the turbines. There are wetlands and a lot of plants were added as part of the project (something like forty thousand plants).

Te Uku was not particularly windy today which made it hard to hear the blade woosh at all even standing directly under a turbine. The blades rotate at 16rpm so they are quite a slow graceful looking turbine.

Eight of the turbines have aviation lights on top which looked like satellite dishes from a distance. The tails of the nacelles have what look like plane fins on them, a top of which sit the anemometer and wind vane.

Although Te Uku is small compared to some of the other sites I have been to, it is no mean feat to build. I think they said there were 26 km of roads built on the site over 8 months, 18m wide concrete foundations were made on site (lucky one of the farmers owns a quarry to supply the two hundred tonnes of aggregate required), and over eight hundred people worked there during the build (just over half were local I believe). So the project certainly put a bit of money into the local economy.

kitesThe bus tour was $5 per person and 100% of that was pooled together for the local schools which is a nice way for us "tourists" to say thanks to the locals for having us for the day. There was a community gala at the domain in Raglan with some impressive kites being flown. It was great to catch up with some of my previous colleagues of Meridian Energy. We had a lovely lunch in Raglan before heading home.

29 March 2011

Manaiakalani meeting

Warning: It's late, parts of this post might not make sense.

We had a great Manaiakalani meeting tonight. We did our usual update on where we are at with issues and current development objectives, but then we revisited our design principles. This was a very useful exercise as there have been changes since the design principles were written. These changes were made because of indepth honest discussions that we have had over the last six months at our meetings - rowdy, passionate discussions where lots of points of view were brought to light and thrashed about.

We had lots of guests at our meeting and we were given feedback which was very useful. Helen Barrett in particular as she gave us her feedback in terms of a change process as well as suggesting we invite teachers to come to the meeting. Also really useful feedback came from Erin Barrett who said something along the lines of: everyone in this room has got it (the process, the risks etc), we need to educate the stakeholders (connect them to what we are doing). There were others who gave feedback so it was a really rich opportunity.

I want to come back to the inviting teachers feedback. Dorothy and I spoke about this later in the evening and she reminded me that it is voluntary to attend. When she said that I saw that it is the same problem as we experience with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) community. There are lots of developers in the olpc community but not anywhere near as many teachers. No matter how much OLPC emphasise "it's an education project" not a laptop project, many people still perceive OLPC to be about laptops and perceive that you can only contribute if you know how to write code. The reality is very far from the truth. There are lots of other ways to contribute, whether that be translation, distribution, funding, education, promotion, research, the list goes on. I am not a developer and I am contributing to Manaiakalani and OLPC. In both Manaiakalani and OLPC the voices that need to be heard and need to lead the decision making are the voices of learners and teachers, and I think the role of the developers is to facilitate the changes, so technology is developed to be appropriate to the pedagogy desired.

An absolute highlight of the meeting was having three students with us. They were invited to participate as equals to us, to raise questions and put forward ideas, but I think they were quite shy. We had some time at the end of the meeting which we used to talk with the students and we ended up talking about their career aspirations and fields of study in science. I look forward to seeing their blog posts about their experience attending "the Manaiakalani Hackers meeting".

22 March 2011

Manaiakalani and School Camp

Last Tuesday night was Manaiakalani meeting night. We meet every second Tuesday at Pt England school usually and talk about the hot topics current in the Manaiakalani project. We can be talking about the netbook hardware, software, OS, or the wifi within the participating schools and the municipal wifi, authentication, the financial status, the logistics, the provisioning, the teacher preparation and feedback, parents, security, rollout process, documentation, you name it we talk about it.

What made last Tuesday special was that it was camp week at Pt England school and we got to mingle with the students at dinner time. I asked some of the students about life with the netbooks. They told me they liked to play games, read each others blogs, do writing. They were interested in who the people were and what they did for the project.

Pt England students camp at the school (some Monday to Wednesday, some Wednesday to Friday). They enjoyed the activities they had been doing, particularly dunking (where someone throws a ball and if it hits the target someone else gets dunked). They liked to be the one who got dunked. The students sang for us, they are just great.

I was impressed with their dish washing system and asked permission to take some photos for my blog.

There was also a concert which we watched a little of after our meeting. There was some singing and dancing, as well as guitar playing. There sure is talent to be found in Pt England school.

06 March 2011

eLCC Workshop 2011

We had a three day workshop for eLearning Community Coordinators last week. It was a full on three days with a lot of us looking exhausted at the end of each day, but a really enjoyable and worthwhile event. There seemed to be something for everyone and it didn't matter if you were a technology whizz or beginner, had a thriving elearning community in your department or if it was early days, everyone was learning new things and getting reinvigorated for jumping in with both feet this year.

The programme included:
  • iPadagogy - an intro to the iPad with a three day loan of the iPad to each participant
  • Twitter for Collaboration Collating Student eportfolios via RSS
  • Communities of Practice - a year in, where are we now and what is the next phase for us in our elearning communities
  • Digital Storytelling, e-Portfolios and blogging
  • GMail - students use it, we need to now how to use it to better support them
  • The Matrix (course evaluation tool) and our Moodle Roll-Out Process - having evaluation conversations with our departments
  • Educational gaming - games you can use and how you can create your own games
  • Moodle Break-Outs (a time for asking questions and talking about best practice use of Moodle tools)
  • Using and creating EBooks (session led by an eLCC for his peers, yay!)
  • Moodle 2.0 - overview of the exciting new features and opportunity to ask questions
  • How enrolment works in our institution
  • eLCC Show and Tell
eLCC Workshop 2011
There was lots of talking with other eLCCs and sharing which was fantastic to see.

The absolute highlight for me was the eLCC show and tell time where quite a number of eLCCs took the stage and showed the peers something they are doing in the elearning space. Each eLCC really did offer something quite different too, with Chris talking about making his first movie with his phone and iMovie (thanks for the offer to help others Chris) and Ganeshan talking about how he used self directed blended learning to learn wind surfing (giving his perspective as the learner). The only disappointing thing in the whole three days for me was the invited people who did not come and show their support of eLCCs and the eLearning strategy. It was great to see Ray and Peter there and I hope to catch up with them to get their feedback.

The eLCCs who attended seemed to get a lot of out this time together and the feedback has been positive. One of my personal aims this year is to help eLCCs build confidence and their perceptions of their capabilities and I think these three days were a good step in this direction. I am going on maternity leave in June and I am hoping the eLCCs can support each other more this year so they are stronger as a community and can improve their ability to find resolutions amongst themselves, relying less on the elearning team and eLDAs. If they can do this, they will be in a better position next year when the funded positions supporting the eLearning strategy end.

01 March 2011

Moodle 2 setup

Last night we setup Moodle and Mahara integration on tabitha.net.nz (single sign on, auto creates accounts on mahara from moodle), google docs and flickr repositories, and had a bit more of a play. We also did the update to 2.0.2 while we were in Moodle mode.

The Google docs, Picasa, Youtube and Wikimedia repositories were easy to setup, but it took a bit longer to get Flickr working (had to get the callback settings right).

To setup the Mahara integration we used instructions that we found on the Mahara wiki called Mahoodle. If you follow the instructions make sure you don't skip ahead! There were quite a lot of steps and it took a while but we got there eventually.

Playing with all of these now I am so glad we got it all setup, they are great! It is much easier to put images in if you can use the repositories. This week I am going to be showing quite a few people some of the features of Moodle 2 so this setup is "just in time".

28 February 2011

elcc workshop day 1

Today is the first day of our eLearning Community Coordinators workshop at Unitec. Our plan is for three days together. Last year we had five days together in February to kickstart our community and to start implementing our elearning strategy across the institute.
One year on, it is an opportunity to move into a new phase as a community. We have had some exposure to some elearning initiatives and have now the task of working out how to progress from here.
I hope that our next phase is on developing our sense of community and how we support each other. I would like us to work on changing our own perceptions of ourselves so we feel more confident and capable of trying new things. More on that later.
So we opened the workshop with a karakia. All our minds are still on Christchurch and the earthquake so it was important to recognise this and offer our prayers and thoughts to those impacted.
We gave everyone an ipad and spent a couple of hours trying out different applications, getting everyone trying twitter and using #elcc11 as a hashtag for this event.
After lunch we are just starting to talk about communities of practice.

20 February 2011

February Fever

Who knew that February was a month full of events.
* Kiwi Foo was in Warkworth 11-13 February (sorry to have missed that one but have heard it was the best Kiwi Foo ever)
* Webstock was in Wellington 14- 18 February
* Music in the Park (well actually that runs January to April)
* Lantern Festival in Auckland 18-20 February (which I wanted to go to and that is what prompted me to blog)

We have attended a big family reunion and there were also a lot of birthdays in the last couple of weeks, even a trip on a boat that involved swimming. There are a few February anniversaries to be observed at home as well as Valentines Day (I am not one for the flowers and chocolates delivered to the office trick, much happier with some quality time together at home).

We decided it was time to start the kitchen and laundry renovations so we have had the demolition work started and are now short two walls and two doorways, our oven is on a temporary stand above a hole in the floor, and there are piles of wood all over the deck and lawn. We have measurements under way and initial plans have been drawn so are almost ready to get our kitchen cabinets made. We have investigated the options for new appliances and I hope we can get these ordered this week. Some of our kitchen cupboards have even been emptied into boxes in preparation.
KickStart Conference Workshop
At Unitec we have had Kick Start – a two day conference for Faculty of Social and Health Science staff that went very well – and we have had our directorate strategy day (we had the opportunity to get to know better other people in our directorate, recap on last year, hear how wonderful each team has done, rate ourselves on where we are at, and in small groups create representations that show how we as a directorate contribute to Unitec – quite fun). We are ending February with an elearning community 3 day event for about fifty or sixty people, including a play with ipads as well as some workshops on topics like portfolios, Google apps and Moodle tools, but probably the most interesting bit for me is the review of what we have achieved as a community in its first year and planning the community focus for this year.

All these events in the busiest time of the year, first semester enrolment and classes starting. To be sure I filled in every spare minute I also enrolled in a course myself which has meant a few late nights writing up the learning contract and starting on an action research project plan. I have been to a one day event run by Eileen Piggot-Irvine (thanks Mark) to get some help getting started with the project and that was very helpful.

All in all, a busy month. It would have been nice to have had a day off for Waitangi Day to give a bit of a break. Though this year it looks like we don’t get many holidays actually as Easter and Anzac day have been combined.

01 February 2011


Today marks the first day of febfast - a month alcohol free for many people around New Zealand and a fundraiser for programmes that support young people with drug and alcohol problems.

With their line "a pause for the better" febfast ask you to imagine the difference 28 days alcohol free will make on your waistline, wallet and liver.

Consider signing up today by going to their website http://febfast.org.nz/

Even if you choose to not sign up you can still make a donation on their site.

24 January 2011

Second Life and SLoodle

I saw this post and thought I would share it for those interested:

Second Life and SLoodle (Moodle+Second Life) - AUCKLAND: "by MoodleBites Admin.

We are in the final stages of finalising a course for Second Life and SLoodle (which is the integration of Second Life and Moodle).

This will be in Auckland from Monday 28th February to Friday 4th March.

The course outline is attached.

Course fees will be $250 per day, or a discount of 20% for the five days.

The first two days are introduction and fundamentals of Second Life (perfect for new users).

The final two days are all about integrating Second Life and Moodle (through SLoodle) - this is for participants who are familiar with Second Life (or attend the first 3 days), and also familiar with the basics of Moodle.

Participants can attend a part of this course if required.

Please contact our helpdesk if you would like to reserve a place - helpdesk[AT]hrdnz.com


iMoot call for presentations

iMootiMoot is an online international conference (run on Perth time) organised by Pukunui (a Moodle Partner in Australia with a Kiwi name) with three streams (how to's, academic papers, and case studies).

Registration is AUD50 early bird. The call for presentations has been made so start thinking about what you might be interested in presenting on.

Announcing iMoot 30 April to 3 May - http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=166133&parent=728350

Call for presentations - http://2011.imoot.org/mod/data/view.php?id=10

07 January 2011

New Years Resolutions

I was just reading a friends 2011 resolutions and it got me thinking about what I want to achieve this year. I have done the work objectives bit, but what about at home and the rest of my interests.
2011 is going to be quite a different year for us, with a whole lot of priority changes. I have to cut back on work and get more rest. The garden although doing very well has to look after itself more (or I have to ask for more help, which I have been doing, big thanks to our gardener). We are replacing the benchtops in our kitchen but I think we are leaving off most of the other renovations until later. There is still lots to be organised before June when the world changes.
I have retrieved the cross stitch from the bottom drawer and resumed working on the Beatrix Potter blanket I started ten years ago when my sister was pregnant, and I have also bought some wool to knit a blanket, so my craft expertise will hopefully increase this year.
With regards to olpc, I have asked on the olpc-nz mailing list what others would like to achieve this year. Personally, I would like to find a way to support the Oceania deployments better. I think we would see a dramatic improvement in the schools with the laptops if we could get them some more support; something like - on laptop arrival, three months after deployment, six months after deployment, one year after deployment and two years after deployment. I would like the support to be an experienced teacher travelling to the school with an experienced technical person. On each visit you spend the first day assessing what they have achieved so far and where to from there, then build on what they know. Each visit you take more resources for their school server (or give them USBs if they don't have a school server and if you can't install one). Each visit you get the kids to give you stories and samples of things they have made so you build a portfolio that shows the progress of that deployment, maybe put it all on a website for them to have fans follow their progress. You ask the kids to talk about what they like, what they are learning, and what they aspire to learn. Take lots of photos. That would be awesome. The problem is funding those trips.
I still want to keep olpc testing running every Saturday and hope that we can get more engagement with the development community.
There is Moodlemoot NZ 2011 in July to be organised and Software Freedom Day in September, both events I can stay in Auckland for so quite happy with that.
This year I don't plan on traveling until November when I hope to go to Australia for a long anticipated wedding (or maybe two weddings, busy family).
Well, that is about all I can think of right now... sounds like a busy year already anyway!