Monday, 30 July 2007

bit of a break

It has been too busy lately to have time to write my blog, in losing my Saturday afternoons helping look after the 1st XV rugby boys and then on Sunday go mountain biking. I have enjoyed the challenge, but find the weekends go by very quickly and then don't have enough energy for the week, around Wednesday I will be tired and irritable. Only a couple more to go, however Fridays will be out as I look towards PD and a field trip. Plus a Paid Union Meeting, where is all the time going. 

Monday, 23 July 2007

Form Class

It seems that my students miss me, well the ones in my form class do?
It has been almost a week that I have not attended form class, a fact that I am not proud of. Wednesday we had a meeting during our form time on the senior curriculum guide, thursday was a meeting with the principal, friday I was at another intermediate school looking at how they use ICT to facilate learning. and today had Profesional Development down at MIT. I feel like wlaking in tomorrow and saying to them, "Well did you miss me, because thats how I feel when you are not at school for a long period of time". It should be rather good to watch there reaction.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Marc Prensky

The author of digital immigrant, digital native which I talk about earlier in my blog. This was the topics of todays Professional Reading Professional Development. We had a presentation by the principal about the slide show the marc prensky presented at the international principals conference earlier this year in Auckland. Now the reading part was reading what was on the powerpoint. The discussion grew throughout the topics on the screen. Some of it was light hearted, others were more thoughtful and though provoking.
Are we made to feel that we are out of date with the technology and not keeping up with the play.
Who used email in the last 24 hours, why, because todays digital native either IM's or TXT's, I like when he asked this question as I had just emailed a student back about the homework he submitted last night. But i was made to feel that I was out of date with todays technology. Maybe I should have been doing it through a blog or wiki. Hey, I have only just got my students creating a blog and gmail account so they can do this as part of there assessment. You cannot change the world in one day.
Also when they started talking about TXTing and using the mobile phone in class, a few topics came into my head, credit in the way of who pays for this, because tone comment I hear from the students quite regularly is that "I don't have any credit on my phone", The teachers credit being used, so I asked, "Are you looking at putting in a server for this so the txt messages can be sent and received a little cost", ok this is over the head of the principal. What about the students who do not have a cell phone, after a bit of discussion and things, I found that three of my Year 13 students don't have a cell phone, they don't need one.
Ok, interesting.
How can todays technology be used, hell I would like to see students with a email account at school, it would make dealing with somethings a little bit easier, no gmail account for one reason!
Also what about using the videos and images that students have on there cellphones, teachers are taking there cellphones out on duty and taking PXTs of disruptive behavior and students giving false names. Students don't know how to deal with it, how are teachers to cope?
How about increasing the students network storage space at school from 30Meg to at least 100 Meg, it would help with todays media and content rich environment.
That will do with todays rant and rave. Tune in tomorrow when I visit a intermediate school to see what they are doing with ICT and why are secondary schools teaching microsoft word basics.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The next thing - Students Voice continued

This is something continued from a previous post of the students voice.

The next big thing is to organize, tag, and link information to a specific location. Think of the last time you were at a national park. It’s a very good possibility that the only information you had about the park fit on a tri-fold paper that you picked up at the visitor’s station. In the information age, how is this acceptable?

Instead, imagine visiting the park where hundreds of visitors have linked information to specific locations. You have the architect of the visitor’s center who tells you the history of the building. As you move around the park you access information provided by geologists, geographers, botanists, biologists, environmental scientists, conservationists, hiking enthusiasts, bikers, etc. etc. etc. The information is useful because it’s relevant to the location. And it becomes manageable in the same way that the 10s of millions of pictures on flickr have become manageable, through tagging.

If I’m driving down a dirt road, I can access the Internet, enter in the keywords, “eat, roast beef sandwich’. The next time I pass within 5 miles of an Arby’s, my device let’s me know. Or if I have my mountain bike on the back of my car, I search for the keywords ‘mountain bike trails’. Every time I come within a few miles of a trail, my GPS device alerts me.

We’re beginning to see the first threads of this next big idea. Pictures and Wikipedia articles are now linked to Google Earth. You can access information about a location, but it’s still at your desk. The real revolution will come when this information can be accessed completely and easily from a mobile device, while you’re at that location.

Today we have access to an unfathomable amount of information. Web 2.0 has helped us begin to organize and make sense of that information. Tying information to a location is the next step and will literally open up a whole new world.

Here’s hoping the next iPhone has a built-in GPS.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Game Development

This has been included in my blog for a particular reason, I want to include it, to be able to show my students that the language that they use in their games must not be offensive. Yes, there are the top 10 offensive words that shouldn't be used, but what others could be taken into the same context.

Some things to watch out for if you are looking at developing in other markets

Another day, another Nintendo recall
You may remember the DS game that was recalled a few weeks back because of an 'offensive' name that it tagged players who got a score of 0, well it seems that Nintendo really like the word 'spastic' and have included it in the not-so-good Wii game, Mario Party 8. As such, the game has also been recalled.

This is getting a tad out of hand, recalling games because of one word. But that's censorship for you.

Press Release:

The above game was launched in the UK today. Unfortunately we have discovered that a small number of games contain the wrong version of the disk due to an assembly error. We have therefore decided to recall all copies of the game from UK retailers so that this mistake can be corrected.

We will re-launch Mario Party 8 in the UK as soon as possible and will announce a new launch date shortly. We very much regret any inconvenience caused.


DS Mind game pulled
Ubisoft's Brain Training clone, Mind Quiz, has been pulled from the shelves of stores nationwide, as it contains a naughty word that may offend some people. Yes lets see if you notice the word in the image below.


Saturday, 14 July 2007

G3 - Day Two

Been a busy day today with a 8:45 start at the media design school in Auckland. This was an opportunity to see students in action on a game that they developed at the end of there 32 week course in the undergraduate course in game development. Think radioactive penguins that are anti social, and the only way to kill them is with ice, and they can kill you. Also looked at development of a fps with the unreal engine, set in a 1960's diner, the detail that goes into those things is amazing. One of the end products that we looked at was a game called Goliath, this won awards from the International Gaming Association. I will be adding this to my course once I figure out how to bypass some of the schools security features, damn windows firewall.

I keep getting asked at the event if I am a graduate student or someone who is looking at getting into the gaming industry. You should see there faces when I tell them that I am secondary school teacher who is currently teaching his students game development using gamemaker. They want to know more, and I want to know more from them, what skill sets do the students need. Most people talk about needed Maths and Physics, this is going to become a shock to those students who don't like maths and drop it. They don't see the current Computer Programming courses in schools as worthwhile. This needs to be looked at, what are teachers teaching in school, what are there aims with the courses.

Back at the event at the town hall we were shown the Microsoft xbox 360 game lost odyssey again, wish I had pulled out my camera for this a little sooner, it had a great graphic of IT graduates and the lack of them being produced now. But it did give the change to take a few shows of the XNA slides, which will be posted here later. Once I open my pc, as the safari interface for blogspot is crap!

A few more presentations took place looking at Sidhe Interactive, a game development company based in wellington, founded in 1997, 70 person studio, and is one of the top 4 independent studios in Australasia.
One of the latest games that the company has developed is gripshift, developed for the PlayStation portable, now being ported to the PlayStation 3.

Collaborative Digital Projects, looking at the use of bluetooth technologies to help with there business in the nightclub industry in Auckland, people being able to use there mobile phones to interact with the music and experience, publish there own photos to the VJ screen and interact with the artists.

Social game groups, a Auckland based volunteer group to help people develop and produce games, most work is done in a collaborative environment and they meet once a week for face to face meetings, just to help with the enthusiasm for the project,

International Collaborations
Looking at how game development takes place when all of your team are around the world and in different time zones.

Second Life demonstration, this turned out to be a talk about how second life originated and the development of second life and how objects are created and distributed. No Internet connection was available for the presenter to show us. Only had trailers to show us.

Indie Game development, this was an interesting presentation, a sole game creator and the products that he creates and sells online, I didn't realize that they have there own community and followers. Seriously interesting, Have to look at incorporating pixel art into my courses. It is so cool what you can do.

I have been thinking about one of the other conferences that I went to a number of years ago. There was a presenter that was developing learning games based on the quake 3 engine. I am wondering where he has gone and what he completed as part of his research. Navcon 2004 I think was the conference in Christchurch.

Friday, 13 July 2007

G3 - Keynote

This will have more detail in it later,

however, I will put a note here for now

XDA Xbox Developer, if you have a xbox 360 you can get access to this.

xbox dse homepage of xna Connecting to Your Xbox 360 Console with XNA Game Studio Express
Possible course check back regularly

Wonder if I could get an xbox 360 for my classroom, or should I get a wii, maybe I will have to add a vote?

G3 - More

Metia Interactive
From Graphics to game design

This company was created in 2003
Developing original IP
First Idea, The Guardian, a female maori as the main character, solving and completing various tasks in a game play.
First published idea "The Cube"

The Guardian, action adventure game
-lot of character building
-technical, creating, moving, game engine.
-story line
-game engine, too big for the company.

Developed a simpler game, "The Cube"

This originally started off as a idea

Developed the concept

From here, they developed the concept, developed a trailer (mockup), no prototype.

Targeted the PSP, as it had only just came out on the market.
Puzzle Game
Feedback that was given by the testers was implemented.

They had a 10 month time line from the development of the trailer, through to it being published. It took 12 months to get it out.
Cube released 30th April 2007 on the American market, yet to be released on the European and japanese market.
They have had to change the game and name of the game depending on the country it is to be released in.

More to be put in

Games, Girls and Graphics - the event

G3 Games, Girls and Graphics
Opening of the event: Mayor Dick Hubbard
Talked about Auckland city wants to encourage the creative industry and is working to upgrade broadband in the central city. Showed background information on what the want to achieve with the auckland strategy that has just been approved. As a city we want to support, support the needs, requirements of the creative industry. At the moment there is only 2-4% of Girls in the IT industry, want to see this grow. To be able to understand and foster the relationships of different digital industries. Auckland is a lifestyle city. If auckland wants to attract top creative industry they have to promote themselves as a creative city. Auckland city wants to put emphasis on event promotion and have the top events. Auckland city, creative and innovative beat.

Fresh Kiwi thinking
Overview of the New Zealand Game Industry
Mario, President of the NZGDA

There are a number of companies in New Zealand who are in Game Design, and game development, all types of game development is being created, from console, handhelds and computer games. This is a very diverse area.

There is industry support in New Zealand.
NZGDA - New Zealand Game Developers Association
Multiple Game Development Courses, Massey, and Otago, Media design school in auckland.
Multiple Academics Undertaking Research, games and usability, game development.
Government Support, Auckland City Council in funding this event, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
Media, Amateur, Grass Roots, Interest, this is a new art form that we need to push forward to the world.

We have had early success in the game industry, We are developing new and innovative Intellectual Property (IP)
Some have been
PS3 Gripshift which received 2 IGN Honors
PSP Cube
PC Chocolate Castle, Darwin the Monkey, The Kitchen
Largest ever NZ Game deal signed, however the release date is yet to be confirmed.
The third year of graduates coming out of the media design school.
G3 Event, without a number of people this event would never have taken place.
There is more success to come, more games in all consoles and devices are being developed and will continue to be developed.

Strong creative and innovation is happening in all areas
Collaborative potential within the industry and with film/tv/music
Digital Distribution, being able to distribute through the internet without having to find publishers, games go to the market, easier, faster than ever before.
Rapidly expanding Asian markets
Increased interest form investors, they did not understand the business model before, now investment capital is happening.
Links to research capability, universities, individual, they are able to get to the heart of gaming, what it is about, usability...

Losing currency value advantage, kiwi dollar used to be 45c, now we are looking at 80c there is starting to be some difficulty with certain markets
Lack of depth to business development experience, the industry in New Zealand is really only 10 years old.
Foreign relationships expensive to build.
Difficult scaling, more jobs than people. In the 1990’s there were 3-4 companies, in 2007 there are hundreds of companies.
The skills sets are the same for a number of industries, film, visual effects, the pool is drying up. Companies competing for the good quality graduates.
Content is key.
Technology is not an issue. Using other peoples engines(middleware) means that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Games, Girls and Graphics

The New Zealand Game Developers Association is running a free two day event in Auckland from Friday 13-Saturday 14th July to help inform and encourage young women about careers in interactive media in a non threatening environment.

The last event run a couple of years ago was very successful, drawing in 150 attendees. This year there is a great speaker lineup which includes a number of strong male and female role models. Although the event is skewed slightly towards females, it is completely open for males and all age groups to attend (the last event had a 50/50 mix).

The event is free of charge and registration is essential. To view the programme and register your interest see the online registration and programme.

With New Zealand's youth rapidly increasing their digital awareness, and girls showing they aren't afraid to have a go, the games and graphics industry is thriving.

Join New Zealand's Game Development Community as they converge on Auckland's Town Hall to celebrate our most digitally advanced creative industry. With two jam-packed days of National and International speakers, G3 will be both interactive and spectacularly informative.

The event is free of charge and registration is essential. To view the programme and register your interest, please follow this link

Note: This is something I saw during my travel through other peoples blogs dealing with education. I am just working out how to get into the event on Friday and Saturday. I have registered

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


Schools require some form of communication to be able to do there daily work. However when you have a contractor working outside the school gates you can almost set your watch on when things will start to go downhill. In todays case the contractor putting in a new storm-water pipe for a subdivision of a property just up the road was the cause. They had telecom come out and do there survey, well all the purple marks were up and down the street. However, one dig with the bucket revealed the telecom cable 100mm below the footpath, and they managed to give it a bit of tug. First thing to go was the two adsl lines, just as we were trying to get the external mail working in the school after 3 days of not working due to changing ISP from wired country(wireless) to xtra(wired, adsl) and with e-mail backing up and errors being sent back to the senders. Plus the caretaker who doesn’t want to go and get the mail, snail mail that is delivered to a PO Box, that he has the key for down at the post shop, he didn’t believe that he himself hadn’t gotten the mail since last Thursday.
After ringing telecom and getting put through to school/business adsl support and wondering of it was our end or there end, all the other phones systems were working in the school, they did make a mention of noise on the line, however we put that down to we were calling from the server room, they were checking the line and couldn’t detect any faults. When we went outside we could see the problem, and woe and behold, all the rest of the lines in the school are down as well, the cable sitting there cut into two.
Is this the IT technicians job or the IT managers job to ring broadband support and find out what the problem is or report the problem as the case may be? Because we have no IT Mangers at school at the moment, they are away on holiday.
It is now 4:45 and the telecom guys has been working for the past half hour on the job, why might you be wondering how I know this, because I am the only on still at school. I cannot find the property manager and get him to sort it out, instead the contractors saw me and told me that it was my problem. Hmmm. not very nice contractors. But it has allowed me to sit here and blog away while the wind and rain come down very hard outside.
One thing I learnt from this is... make your car visible on the security camera so they know how long you waited, and if your mobile has two bars left on it, charge it up! You never know when it could be needed. Also one of the things I am grateful for is that the students are on holiday and that this has happened in the holidays. We had the phone systems go down last year, same type of situation, 3 days it took them to get it going. We at least had wired country internet services
One of the funniest things is that we are moving away from the wireless internet connections to adsl, really only because of the speed issue. We could have still had email and internet access. Something to thing about?
So the work on the year 13 programming I was going to do today, never happened!

Update to the email problem
It seems with changing to xtra as our broadband provider for out students server, which doubles as the staff email server, that xtra block port 25 This has been our major problems, neither watchdog or our IT support company figured this out. So once port 25 was opened by xtra and we reset our router, email started flooding in.

Blogging by widget

This is a test post to see how blogging by the mac os widget looks and goes, at least with this you can bold and Italics,  how do you put an image in? 

Monday, 9 July 2007

two seperate paths

I have been thinking about my year 13 programming course and the fact that it was open entry. I have been doing visual c# with them for the past term and around 7 of the 23 or so students can actually get something working. This is a kinda to do list for me over the next couple of days
1. Print of the students attainment for last year,
2. compare results, did they take the course last year
3. credits, have they got level 2, will they get level 3 this year

Talk to the HOD and make the course work for me, these students need level 2/3 credits. Quick run through 2780/2781 and they will get 12 credits, then get them into level 3 credits, research into contemporary IT systems currently in use in New Zealand. with what they have been doing so far in the course this might work, they research, and create a presentation, 18746? 3 credits, presentation 3 credits and the robots 5 credits and then finish the year with a task???? they will have there 14 level 3 credits. Presentation could be in a website? heaven forbid as a guide for students in the following year. 5 credits, 16 credits, I got this idea from a teacher I went to a workshop to in wellington, and how he had programming kids and other students.

18746 Demonstrate knowledge of contemporary information technologies 3 credits

5940 Presentation 3 credits

18737 Create a website for organistation use. 5 credits

This means they will have to work, or I look at other standards to do with skills in publisher/word/excel

I still have to work out something for my web design students. Credits and the like. mind you they are doing two years of level 3 credits in the subject. Why would they complain. because 12 credits is nothing, mind you they are achievement standard credits, I could look at them doing a comparison of technologies.

why does blogspot not have the formatting tools available when using safari on the mac?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Holidays, Weather and the school ball

There doesn't seem to be much going on at the moment, most people are on holiday, well those that are teachers are. I have been busy today trying to get some gear ready for the school ball tonight. My favourite was the same day dry cleaner, who couldn't do it on the same day. I am now waiting on the rain to subside and get ready. As I do this I am now using a real computer, a apple macbook. I have finally got myself one and I love it. Just working out how to get various applications installed and running on it has been great. So far skype and Microsoft MSN have been installed and managed to firewire down the school Matariki celebration to make a DVD for the Maori department, just working out how to sort out the region issue at the moment, damn thing is set to a Region 1 DVD, not Region 4.

Always a good idea to check the spelling of the dvd you are burning before making 10 copies...

Tuesday, 3 July 2007


Can’t sleep at the moment and I think I have a cold coming on, also I can’t stop thinking how a course could be put together for a year 13 computer science programme. If this was to go ahead, what would be involved in setting it up. What knowledge would I need to be able to teach my students for the external?
Looking at what we put together with 2783 and 18743? It looks to be a good piece of work, could I look at integrating those units into my course for next year and would the students cope, it is a rather large task. 2783 looks at the contemporary computer components while 18743 looks at the technologies that is used in today’s business. Should I look at tech 2.6, does it still exist for students to contrast and compare technologies that are used today, cellphone, cdma, gsm, blackberry?
It has been five years since I looked at some of this stuff and it is starting to hurt. This is one of the thing that I am looking at, I have been a IM teacher and have lost a lot of knowledge that I will need to rethink and look back on. Would a stage one university course help COMP101? I started to think about the packet headers for tcp/ip today and hoe they work with the internet as well as the Class A, Class B, and class C addresses, I can remember two of them 10.x.x.x and 192.168.x.x, what was the other one?

If I was to enrol in a uni paper, which one and where, do I look at staying in the city over the holidays and doing summer school  or is it something I can do at night? When does summer school start? How would it affect the rest of my classes. I don’t feel I could do it extramural, as I had a bad experience with that when finishing off my bachelors project. But a good experience when I helped a mate out with his e-learning paper. Maybe because it wasn’t “my” work?

Or would I be bored with it due to I have done it before in my polytechnic papers, man that was 6-9 pm at night with HF101 and SF101 and the basic programming papers I carried out, and to this day I still don’t know how I passed HF101, I can’t even remember writing the stuff I did in class down. I have it on paper, but hey.

What would look at the stuff that I need to teach, with multimedia, would it be an exam based theory or a practical project? You need a way to assess the material taught in class, would it be a combination of both.

Moving on, year 12 programming end of year assessment, Using the Technology Achievement Standards to address a client’s need, creating a database to hold an orienteering events three day competition, Relationships on the three days linking back to the competitor, the different age groups, clubs? I know I did something similar at school in sixth form computing, but that would meet the requirements of the brief and the unit standard. Getting the students to compete around a course at school would be an idea for a double period, Set up two courses with plastic plates that spell a word when complete. I have a digital map of the school, it would just involve marking out the buildings and tress and any man made features on the site. OCAD. I have been meaning to do this for years but haven’t had the time, could I give it to a student to do? To work out? A year 13 programming student maybe?

Monday, 2 July 2007

ICT Achievement Standards

Should there be specific achievement standards for ICT in the NCEA qualifications, yes.

The current Unit Standards are more focussed towards the skills of using an application, whether it be word processing, spreadsheet, presentation or desktop publishing. Where are the computer science ones?
There are 2780, 2781, basic computer fundamentals. 18740 is a basic level 2 programming one that gets you to design the most basic of basic programs, you don't even have to use a recognized programming language. you could use gamemaker with its GUI interface.

There is no ITO (Industry Training Organization) in charge of Computing in schools, there is no real organizations looking after computing unit standards, there is the NACAQ, which looks at the tertiary side of things. It needs someone else to come along and get the government to recognize that the Technology Achievement Standards just don't cut the mustard when it comes to computer science.

You can get the Technology Achievement Standards by planning and putting on a cultural performance, or putting on a play. We need specific ones to look at programming, computer ethics, computer fundamentals.

If we want more IT graduates in New Zealand then we have to start really looking at what is happening within secondary schools. Can everyone use a word processor? But can everyone describe why when importing another text document in that all these hieroglyphics come up instead of what should be coming up?

Technology Achievement Standards have a defined technology process you have to go through, where ICT programming has a clearly defined SDC (System Development Cycle). These two conflict with each other.

Looking at the this, the following list came out of the meeting
Rationale for Achievement Standards in ICT (Computer Science)
  1. If Technology Achievement standards are used in other areas of content, we don't have enough Achievement Standards available for students to complete a wholly Achievement Standard assessed course.
  2. There are specific knowledge, skills and processes that are not covered by the current Technology Achievement Standards as they differ in their assessed processes.
  3. The unit standards do not cater for meritorious or excellence approaches to the assessments and as a rider to this will not encourage provide scholarship or Scholarship respectively.
  4. Student motivation is limited by Unit Standards as they do not encourage students to push for "greater heights."
  5. There are problems with the allocation of credits if the Technology Acheivement Standards are used elsewhere (no double dipping)
  6. We would like standards that are better suited to pathways in ICT that leads to I.T. graduates and other more academic post secondary learning. These standards are less industry orientated and more computer science based.
  7. To provide Achievement Standards that could complement the proposed ICT Curriculum Framework.
  8. ICT is not treated as a tool for the purposes of assessments with these Achievement Standards, but as an area of discipline in its own right. (The tools are created by those working in the computer science line to contrast this with the users of ICT)
  9. There are concepts, processes and practices in Computing that have existed for many years and will continue to do so. These concepts, processes and practices lend themselves to assessment with these proposed Computer Science Achievement Standards.
  10. As there is no ITO in the ICT area, the Unit Standards are not being developed to cater for the type of learning that encourages higher thinking structures. the style of unit standards is also an obstacle in this regard.
  11. The Technology Process in the Achievement Standards does not really cover the needs of the Systems Development Process which is more commonly recognized in IT education and industry.
Looking at this and what has been developed, I think I would have the change the title of the course that I run at school, away from the programming and more look at Computer Science, i can just see the leaders of learning face when I say that I want to change the name, "Oh, not again"

12CSI <- I like this, I can't use 12SCI that relates to Science.
12 Computer Science :)