Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Robot Voice Maker

So you have bought and Ed-e, you have programed some moves, you have downloaded them into Ed-e but it needs something else - he can walk but he can't talk.

Now you could just use your own voice but it would be much more fun if he had a robot voice. For that you are going to need a vocoder.

I've looked around and most vocoders are either hardware (analogue) or plugins for synthesisers like pro tools and the like. I finally found a stand alone vocoder - Zerius, and it's free.

Record your voice (use the basic recorder in windows accessories - save it as a mono not stereo) - thats your modulator file.
Choose a carrier - the carrier files are tones or noise, this is what effects your voice
and give the output file a name and a location - this is what gets saved.

Download your output file into Ed-e, assign a key press from the remote and now he talks with the robot voice.

You can also do your Daft Punk impression now - Harder, better, faster, stronger! (couldn't resist!)

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lower Primary Resources

It is usually hard to find good interactives for lower primary. So when I came across Toy Theatre, posted on echalk John Gowland, I had to repost it onto TIC.

It works very nicely with eBeam and has a huge range of interactive tools for demonstrating on an IWB or working one to one with a student. They cover Maths, English, Art and Music as well as some great puzzels that are simple to play yet difficult for adults.

Nice and bright and easy to navigate this is going to be one of my demonstration websites for primary school presentations.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Video Analysis Tools

BasketballImage via Wikipedia

I was looking through a PD calendar and noticed a session for Dartfish which is great software but a bit expensive for schools. so I decided to see if there was any free/open source tools around.

Video analysis tools are used to play with video to help visualise things that happen within a video recording. You can use video analysis for several learning areas. The main one is sport and PE where a teacher/coach can analyse technique, body flow and pick up issues that might be effecting performance. It can also be used to analyse game/team play.

On a more scientific level, video analysis can be used for physics experiments - particularly to track objects and measure time, distance and therefore acceleration / deceleration.

Finally video analysis is great for the arts, for both dance and drama. You could also give it to a student in visual or media arts class to see what creative uses they could find.

I came across these and I hope someone finds them useful, (MAC and PC) - more for physics and science. (Mac and PC) - both skill capture and skill Spector are free (PC only)

and if you need It - a video transcoder – for changing formats

So much to tell you!

Very busy weekend - did a public demonstration of Ed-e at Scitech on the weekend and during some down time found a whole heap of resources so it's going to be a list today. - Popular picture/storybooks read by famous actors and with excellent multimedia and subtitles - Videos for high school mathematics, liturature and writing - for those who need the visual and aural. stop motion animation the easy way. - LMS hosted for free.

Schoology - LMS hosted for free

Pixton - comic creator - online text to speech. - online games based on spelling lists

animasher - easy animation with your own media

Myths and legends - stories and online software to create your own.

Creative kids central - Classical music lessons and interactives

Have a play with this lot - see what you think.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

eBig Books

Cover of "Aesop's Fables (Oxford World's ...Cover via Amazon

I was at a school earlier this week, demonstrating eBeam and the Epson document camera. One of the teachers asked if there was a way to get big books up on screen. I showed them a free book from and they were ecstatic. So thinking that there might be more teachers who need this type of resource I had a look through my bookmarks and found a few good ones.
- This is a subscription service but they do have a wide range of well known books as it is supported by major publishers. You can get a free account but it does tend to limit you. the minimum you will pay as a teacher would be about $7 per month - which when you think about it is no that much for access to over 10 000 big books. The page turning animation is nice in it and it fills the screen. This is one of those times where it might be worth handing over some cash for access to this type of resource.

Storybird - On the other hand you have storybird, where anyone can make a digital storybook and publish it. This is a great way to get kids into real publishing where their creations go online for the world to see. There has been a lot of buzz regarding this site as it allows collaboration between students at the same time.

StoryPlace - a great resource with personalised books and audio - very interactive and great for lower level readers.

ICDL - The international Children's Digital Library has books from all over the world. The reader is not as good as the above two but makes up for it in content and the ability to get children's books in a range of languages and from different cultures. a real treasure chest of content.

Aesop's Fables - Txt based only but great for story ideas and embellishments. Not really suitable for a big book unless you make it yourself with storybird or issuu.

Children's Books on-line - JPG based old style picture books. - Ebooks can be purchased.

Unvarnished Brothers Grimm - they weren't called grim for nothing.

If you have any more please let me know! I'd like to put together a "big Book" virtual library.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not the 9 o'clock news - free news resources

We have a new piece of software at the office that has got everybody interested in their web cam again. It's called Newsmaker from Dataworks and has been included into our software catalogue.

The basic premise is for students to setup their own Vodcasts. The software handles real time effects, as well as a basic autocue. It is fairly simple to use and is good fun, but can do some fairly decent effects like inset video and subtitles in real time. I can see a whole range of uses from doing a basic show and tell show, to a fully fledged news production show. The software is quite reasonably priced but you could do this with other free software - just not as integrated.

So that's all good, but how to localise it so that kids go from the known (what they see on TV) to the unknown - producing a TV news segment? I found this site while helping my girlfriend prepare for her class assembly. As you may know I'm based in Perth so this was perfect - watelevision .
It has news on what is happening as far as TV media goes in our state as well as a nice page of resources including theme music, logos and fonts for all the channel's news shows! Bonus! Just what you need to mock up a television news segment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cruising through SourceForge

Sometimes I just like to cruise through SourceForge for to see what is new and whether any programs have floated to the top of the pile. Here are two that I think are worth having for high school. And because they are Open Source they are free.

SweetHome3D is a 3D home decoration program that takes you from plan to rendered 3D environments. You could use it in maths classes to model rooms, layouts and organise space. It will even do outdoor environments. A easy way to start to learn how use CAD programs without all the extra bits.

If you are still using office 2003 (WA DET schools I'm looking at you) then this tool bar might be useful to you if you are in the maths dept. It allows you to render mathematical equations directly into word. Mathematics Toolbar, Drawing Toolbar and Math Database

If you have Word 2007 there is no need for this tool as it is built in to the newer version of office.

Lastly Wikipedia have just released their own reader - Wikireader at $99 US. You can update it for free yourself. It seems like a good idea - I'd like to have a look at one just to try it out but my budget is a bit lean at the moment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why use Keepads?

This was on Derek Bruff''s blog the other day, and it got me thinking about why we use ARS/Clickers/Keepads/SRS/CRS.

I have been going back over my old educational psychology books to see if there was some research from the past that validates the use of ARS now. Obviously Derek has written the book on CRS in use now, but I'm talking about some of the past research on questioning.

My ed psych book from university was the Imaginatively titled "Educational Psychology" by Maltby, Gage and Berliner. I was able to glean a few key points that relate to the use of ARS now.

Why use an ARS in your teaching mix?
  • Improves “wait time” I and II (Rowe 1974) - pre set counters give the right amount of time for students to formulate an answer- showing responses on screen and talking about them give time to reflect.
  • Reduces unintentional Bias (Rowe 1974) - Everyone has the same amount of time to answer.
  • Gives “Question Notice” to all students (Brophy and Evertson 1994) - everyone is attentive to the question because everyone has to answer it.
  • Allows question probing through the branching - The presentation can branch to probing questions to get more detailed responses.
  • Encourages “Intelligent Guesses” (Cole & Chan 1994) - It reduces loss of face due to a wrong answer - great for students to want try out an answer without embarrassment.
  • Can provide academic feedback without identification (Good & Brophy)(Cole and Chan1994) - immediate feedback is important - but it doesn't identify the person with the wrong answer in front of peers.
  • Increases perceived preparation and structure but allows flexibility. Reduces digression but provides opportunities for branching and customisation.

Using an SRS/ARS/CPS is not a toy, but a way of truly changing the way we look at questioning our students about the stuff they know and don't know to help them gain deeper understanding of what we are teaching.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Audience Response Systems V's Twitter

There has been a lot of talk (twitter) about the value of twitter in conferences - particularly during presentations. In one case disparaging remarks about the speaker were shown on screen while he was speaking. This was also a hot topic on echalk over the last couple of weeks. I Sent the list the following to mull over.

I have seen twitter used well in conferences and very badly in a few others. The trouble is that although very powerful it's very unidirectional in it's scope (both where and what you broadcast), as well as very individual. It's like giving all the loudmouths in the room a bullhorn, and the result is that the majority of people just shut up (don't Tweet).

We need to make it more fun and try an change the behaviour of the crowd so that they want participate.

What is sometimes needed is a more directed and focused system that aggregates responses so that it is useful to both the presenter and the audience.

Another possibility is an Audience Response System from Keepad. Going from an individualised "keepad" (multiple choice) to an "App"(Responseware) on an iphone or laptop (text & multiple choice). It allows your keynote/presenter/workshop facilitator to direct questions or solicit feedback, but aggregate the responses instantly to get a more "majority view". This can help focus the audience on the issues or content rather than presentation style.

This can all be integrated into a PowerPoint/Keynote/PDF/OO/Prezi in both PC and Mac platforms.

By the way, I hope you like the new green theme - It's spring here so I thought it was appropriate.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and TAFE WA

Dr KarlImage via Wikipedia

Now there is a combination you wouldn't expect.

Dr Karl was the MC at the recent Central TAFE forum/PD day. Keepad sponsored the event in kind with keepads for the e-Quiz. The result was that I got to meet and work with the man I have listened to on Triple J for over ten years.

It was one of those surreal geek moments being up on stage in front of about 400 people sharing banter with Australia's polymath.

Yes he is as interesting in real life as he is on radio and TV, and very easy to talk to.

Even more surreal was that two people on the panel who were on stage with us were friends of mine. David Appleby who works at WestOne, and Dr Jenny Lane from ECU answered some curly questions from Dr Karl about an organisation they didn't belong to.

One of the reasons I love my job.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Keepad Website

Locator map for AustraliaImage via Wikipedia

Every now and then I need to do my job on this Blog. Sure I point you to links and cool stuff online and free programs you can use with your IWB. But I also work for a great company who encourages me to share all this with you. So a bit of payment is due.

Keepad Interactive have just released their new website. On it you will find our latest software for both TurningPoint Audience response systems but also eBeam Interact and Capture software.

A training page with tutorial videos for eBeam will make getting to grips with it a lot easier for some.

It also showcases all our products that have recently been added to the stable. This includes Ed-E from RM and the projectors and document cameras from Epson.

The Site is and although missing the au is still based in Australia.

Go have a look and if you like it or hate it please contact us and let us know.

I can't sign off though without something to use for free. Copyright Friendly is a place to pick up copyright friendly images and sounds from a central place. With lots of links to big directories it';s a great resource for both you and your students.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FREE Content is King!!!

Two posts in one day... it must be school holidays.

I've been organising my bookmarks recently (shock! horror!) and figured out that I have a lot of stuff sitting there that really need to be talked about.

In WA the Education Department is setting up a Online Teaching and Learning Network - which is great but is costing a fortune, and will be closed to anyone who works outside the Department of Education. So any teacher in the independent or Catholic system plus anyone who has skills to produce open content are effectively locked out.

These are 7 Content clearinghouses to find stuff to teach with that are open and encourage participation and in some cases contribution. This group is leaning to high school to University level but OER and Curriki have a lot of k-7 resources.

Intute a UK based service. Intute is a free online service that helps you to find the best web resources for your studies and research.Intute is created by a consortium of seven universities, working together with a whole host of partners.

is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.

Connexions is: a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:
* authors create and collaborate
* instructors rapidly build and share custom collections
* learners find and explore content

I first heard about Connexions on

Open Educational Resources
: born from the creative commons movement. OER content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both teachers and learners can share what they know.

Merlot: MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed and selected higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT's vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy.

MIT Open Courseware: MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.

Curriki : Curriki is an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them.

The Royal Show and Coin Machines

Arcade Coin Pusher, detailImage via Wikipedia

I went to the Perth Royal Show last night. For those of you who are not from Australia, it's like a State fair in the US where farmers come to town to show off their produce and animals, there is also a side show and exhibitions.

One of popular machines in side show alley is the coin pushers - you know the one where you drop in a coin and it pushes them all together and if you are lucky some will go over the edge.

As a kid I never really noticed the mechanics - just the possibilities of a huge windfall right in front of me. This time I had a look at the machines themselves - as the coins get closer to the edge, the machine has a "gutters" on each side (usually covered) that coins fall into - you won't hear them go through as the have dampened the sound as they fall into the machine safe box. There is also the lip on the edge of the cliff that puts a little more resistance on the coins about to go over forcing more coins into the gutter. The overall effect is a machine that looks like it will give out change but is actually maintaining the status quo collecting a lot more money than you think.

Coincidentally (no linguistic pun intended) I came across this piece today by Kevin Honeycutt - Who likens the machine to schools. I agree with the analogy, you seem to put a lot of time and money in but you get very little reward, even though you can see it right in from of your eyes. I would include the gutters as places where change gets lost due the construction of the school and it's policies. It is always an "out" for teachers who are being pushed to change but find it easier to do nothing and blame it on the system. It's also why kids sometimes want to tip the machine over (TILT! TILT! TILT!) due to the sheer frustration of not getting anything out of it.