That could become my new favourite phrase, as I seem to be thinking that about lots of things at the moment.
I was thinking about the second project in a bit more detail last night, before I talk to the web designer at trAce who has set some time aside to build the project.
After my experiments with using variables, strings and arrays in Flash (see the experimental page in my web area) I thought "Can it be Flashed?".
This morning I have sat down and tried to be as logical as possible (that in itself is a major task for me!!) and work out what variables might have to go where, and how they would be used, and where the would be stored and.............
well the outcome is two sheets of planning on A4, 5 sketches of what the main pages might look like, and a feeling that it will work in Flash. As long as I can find a way to make Flash load in data from an external database.
Who would have thought that before I started that Flash course, I would be talking about actionscript, scenes, variables and arrays. It's all happened rather quickly really.
What have I let myself in for?
Read the post "Its up to them" from earlier this month, about letting the pilot schools vote for the next chapter of the story.
It was a good idea, and it has been well received. In fact so well received that I have got hundreds and hundreds of votes to collate.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting such a response.
I'm glad though, as it means that the pilot schools are really using the site.
Well, better start to count them up them. Now, let me find that abacus.
1, 2, 3, 4..........................
Yesterday I was asked by the school of education at Nottingham Trent University if I would like to talk to some of their 3rd year students about using online writing in schools, with a focus on the types of activities I initiated while at my school, as well as how Kids on the Net and the Teachers Portal resources could be used within the classroom.
I've never had to speak in front of students before and so there is a slight worry, along with anticipation.
On top of that, the phone rang this morning and it was a local education authority (LEA) asking me about talking at one of their ICT network meetings. This time to other teachers, but once again about Kids on the Net and the Teachers Portal.
This will hopefully be just the beginnning, and soon the Teachers Portal and Kids on the Net, along with the work of the trAce online writing centre, will be known throughout the educational world in the UK.
Isn't email wonderful. Take the following example as a reason for loving it:
I am sat in an office in Nottingham. Schools all around the UK and the world can reach me quickly with a question they need answering. If I have the answer handy I can mail back straight away. It's almost like me being in the room with them and talking to them 'real time'. Brilliant!
Now, here is another example:
I am sat in an office in Nottingham asking schools all around the UK and the world questions that I need an answer to quickly. So I wait, and I wait, and I wait..............
You see, its not the technology that makes it wonderful and so quick, it's the user of course. If one person doesn't read and reply to their messages on a regular basis, then it slows the whole process of communication down. Shame, as it could otherwise be so useful.
Flash is sooooo cool.
I went home last night and spent a little time on the flashkit website (great site - full of tutorials).
I was looking through the action scripting tutorials and saw one for a simple old fashioned peg game.
Well that was it today; I had to open flash, print out the tutorial and give it go. And in less than an hour I'd done it ! I'd made a game. AND IT WORKS !!!
You can try it out here if you'd like to - see if you can get the winning message (I haven't yet !)
Well, we might only be working with the pilot schools on the first project, Dragonsville, but already I am thinking ahead to the second of my projects.
I'm unable to give you any details yet, aside from saying that it's got a nautical theme, and also that it will be a project that results in participating schools producing their own webpages through a very straight forward and easy to use interface.
You will just have to wait and read more news later this year...
I got to go away for two days this week, and ended up on the sparse moorlands in Yorkshire.
Highlights of the trip:
- A fantastic guest house.
- Excellent company.
- No satellite TV to just sit and stare at it in the evening.
- Lots of paths to go walking along.
- Nice pubs with excellent food and drink.
- Friendly people who said goodbye when you left a pub / shop.
- Clear, unpolluted air.
Downsides of the trip:
- A car that would not start when it was time to return.
- A motorway journey from hell with a vehicle fire and then an upturned vehicle.
I took a sony digital camera along to get some photos.
When I got back, I took the memory card to a certain well known chemist and used a self serve machine to get instant prints.
Looking at the photos, you cannot tell that they are digital images at all.
As I have mentioned before, I took a short course on the basics of Flash before Christmas. I enjoyed the course and liked Flash, although I didn't really understand the 'actionsript' programming language side of it.
Well today I was given a book to read that explains actionscript in a very straightforward way (just the sort of thing I need!), and I really liked one of the paragraphs within it;
...You don't have to be clever to program, you just have to be able to think at the right level. The problem is that this level is so low down and basic that most of us have to force ourselves to think that simplistically! It comes with practice and has nothing to do with math or long sums...
There is hope for me yet if I only need to think at a really simple level. :-)
More comments on this I has get to grips with actionscripting within Flash.
The project is going well.
In one area of Dragonsville there is a story, well the first chapter of a story, written for us by an author. We have asked the pilot schools to have a go at producing the next chapter.
We already have three versions that have arrived from the UK schools, and we are waiting for the international schools to submit theirs as well.
Next week we will allow the pilot groups to show real power and vote for the chapter they like the most.
I had to think about this over the weekend because I had a concern that each school would only vote for their chapter, not the one they thought carried the story along the best.
I think I have the solution though. I wondered about taking an extract from each chapter (about a paragraph) and displaying that without the name of the school. Now obviously the pupils might get their copy and look through to see where the extract has come from, but it should mean that all the extracts are read before the voting takes place. I guess we will find out next week how well this idea works.
There are lots of new ideas that I have never tried before that are bringing interactivity to this project. I am really curious as to how both the children and their teachers respond to them all.
oh and talking about interactivity, I added a new experiment in my playroom. I used a tutorial on the excellent flashkit website to make a scrollable, zoomable map that is being used in the project. I really do like Flash - seems that anything I can think of is possible to do using Flash. Who knows what else I will dream up to include.