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Emailed Homework

18th November 1998

19:22 25/10/98

Spent most of the day writing but I did visit a couple of sites in the evening and got an email from one of the Web Club too. Which was nice. The cyber geography site is cool. Amongst the superb and beautiful efforts to map the traffic of cyberspace the one I liked the most was the little smudged drawing from 1969 showing the first host and the first node on the Arpanet in September 1969. A touching scrawl.

10:29 26/10/98

It seems the case that the free-market can work with academia in that academia can go out into the market and use it's human resources in R&D and generally clever stuff like that. Cambridge Science park is rather based on the huge brain power attracted to Cambridge by the University. And the net itself is based on academic work, still being done as Postel, whose death has been marked in the papers, exemplified.

But when you try to draft the free market into schools and academia it seems to have much less satisfactory results like cheesy sponsered exercise books and tooth rotting drinks machines and all the rest. If they really wanted it to work then they'd do it by government dictat and we'd have computers sent round in lorries, named after cabinet ministers like the good old days of Belisha beacons and Anderson shelters. We'd put in an order for four Blair computers (good interface but some dodgy programmes) and a Prescott server that would grumble away in the background keeping the whole show on the road.

As it is it seems a thoroughly uncomfortable mix of Government exhortation and bewildering free markets we don't really have time to figure out or the resources to make a mistake with.

I'm also concerned that it doesn't really fill a need for most. In the supermarket game it's wired up or out of business but teachers still laboriously tick victorian registers with a red pen twice a day and we are just getting rid of our last black boards. We are not technologically anyhere near any sort of normal commercial life let alone any cutting edge.

It has long seemed to me that the way to get ICT to take off in schools would be to wire them up to the level of say, the average building society branch. Get all the teachers thoroughly used to 'real world' labour saving computing as regards registers and assessments and reports and all that and then give them the kit to get the kids involved.

18:16 06/11/98

So today is the big announcement of huge sums of money to get us all online. I listened to Blunkett as I drove in this morning. We are all going to get trained up and every school will get connected. There was some argument about whether it's a good idea or not but not much clue as to how it will be achieved.

Tim has a bit more idea as he has just come back from a course down at Belsted. We are apparently doing the right thing so far. We are just going to get this video conferencing computer linked up and a dial-up connection for that and then see how we go. Work our way up to an Intranet and then a router to connect the network to the thing.

Web Club is settling into a groove. It's quite popular with some unlikely enthusiasts who are getting on very well. They were going off taking digital photographs with our little olympus and then putting them into their pages. I'll ftp them tomorrow. Whether Tim can beat this with WYSIWYGS and his INSET remains to be seen! I think the bar is quite high. And it would be unfair to rely on Pete's and my HTML experience now wouldn't it. The WYSIWYG versus Notepad playoffs. Our technician has been a brick about the Web Club and has helped me a lot with the kids. I'm still waiting to visit his own web page mind you.

I'm impressed with how the kids have got the hang of html. They've done very well. It involves some high level stuff with the files and saving, relabelling etc.

I watched the BBC programme 'Web Story.Com' this week and it had Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf on it. I think there's something quite amazing and moving about what these guys have done, really visionary. Like the folks who invented the mouse and the GUI at Xerox. Being able to do a bit of html is respect for the thing going on here rather than letting a programme do it for you.

14:34 08/11/98

Whilst browsing a rather nice site called Fascinating Photos (see links page) I hit a link or two to some German homepages. Someone told me at work that all of the German netheads had gone on strike over the expense of getting online in Germany but they were all back online when I looked. And there I stumbled on Trashy Web Art which is great fun and just what this site lacks - a real sense of trash. I thus resolve to lower my graphic standards and decorate this page with a lack of taste.

Browsing this afternoon between MA writing watch the dawn come up over Anchorage on the web camera there.

22:15 11/11/98

I went in on Monday morning and thanked Scott for the email. He told me that he'd sent it from his friends business machine as he was making web pages for him and getting paid 2 for each one. How cool is that? I asked for a cut.

Today I suggested to DH that rather than make newspapers for the Y8 English that I teach that we make Intranet pages instead. She was really keen and wants me to show her how to make them herself. Which is nice.

I also got a huge wodge of material from Net Year UK. I skimmed it, realised that I didn't understand it and gave it to Tim very briskly.

21:20 17/11/98

The last couple of days have been quite interesting after a fairly quiet period of low ICT interest.

The web page is getting visits on a fairly regular basis from a variety of places. I've put on a Tripod stats checker which gives me lots of fancy information about where people are visiting my site from. Quite a lot are US Commercial. I'm not sure if that means folk are visiting me from office machines or if it's some sort fo search robot thing. It has had visits from Australia and Austria which is nice. It has also had visits from children and colleagues.

The site has sort of become a drop in centre for work colleagues and pupils - a sort of local community thing, a way of inter acting with people close to me, well 20 miles away anyway. This is surprising amongst the hype of 'in touch with the world at the touch of a mouse button'. etc.

I am considering a remodel of parts of the pages. It is developing a rather adhoc feel to it. Certainly the main index page needs a revamp and to make the different sections clearer. I rather think it is still struggling with an excessive amount of rather po-faced good design and it could all do with an outbreak of poor taste. Trashy Web Art has livened up my links page which is the bit of the site I use as my homepage and I think some of the rest of it could do with the odd wobbly gif for sillinesses sake. Not much seen on educational sites but fun nontheless. Web Club loves the marbled backgrounds.

I've been using the computer room quite a lot with the children. I do 'Web Club' on Thusday and Friday lunchtimes which is proving very popular. And I've been doing some art work in there with year 8. Everyone in year 8 has now drawn a plug in Paint which is the only functioning drawing programme we have at the moment. We are doing a Pop Art project on plugs this term which is about theme and variation. I like plugs. We've made prints, collages, we are working on soft Oldenburg type sculptures and we have done a sequence of computer images using edit, copy, paste to make little Andy Warhol repetitive pictures. They've worked very well.

Year 5 have also mastered logging on and opening programmes without pause now. In fact we are also saving work and finding it again which is very fine.

I have also been using the computers for word processing. Whole classes completely quiet and intent. Just the clacking of keys. 99% on task. Shows you what ICT can do to motivate and focus pupils.

The other evening I checked my email and had the machine chugg as a huge 2.75 meg file came down the line. I was amazed to see that it was a preview of her collaged art homework by a year 8 pupil. As this is the first of many emailed homeworks it rates as a historical document it is included below (in much reduced jpeg format).

The first emailed homework.



The emailed homework collage



"I think of it as a party held in a very large house. In one room people are drinking espresso and discussing translations of Rilke, while in another they're sucking nitrous out of a garbage bag and setting fire to a couch." -- Tom Fawcett


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