Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Lift off. We have…

256px-Expedition_21_Lifts_OffAfter last week’s meander and the previous week’s frustrations I realised we were in danger of losing impetus with our transmedia project.  So I decided to produce a few generic e-safety plots (at the foot of this post). Sometimes you need to prioritise. And my priority was the realisation of a narrative through a range of media. Several of the groups who had been struggling to produce anything were given a leg up.  Those who had managed to produce a plot continued to develop their treatments.  We have been using a very simple template shared within each group so the narrative outline in one column could be spread out to allow for notes about the media treatment chosen. The point is everyone can see what they are doing, how it fits with everyone else’s work and there’s no problem adding additional notes and links as the narrative develops.
The other realisation was that the technology was getting in the way. We had been working with laptops with Internet Explorer as the only available browser. To be honest Google Apps only works really properly on Chrome – which isn’t currently available on our laptops. And, since Chrome doesn’t seem to rollout to networks we must wait for our part-time technician to install it on individual machines. So with reluctance (actually the students were delighted) we left the flexible laptop arrangement to return to the regimented rows of the ICT suite. At least the kit works properly there. In fact it produced an injection of productivity which accelerated participation for all students. Most of the whole team work was under our belts anyway.
Just two examples of flexible thinking by students will serve. 
One group needed a Facebook page. Facebook itself is filtered and, strictly speaking, the under-13s shouldn’t be using it anyway. Class Tools produce a FB facsimile maker Fakebook but students rapidly discovered they couldn’t save ( I suspect a subscription is needed).  One student asked me if I could let them have a FB screenshot which I duly produced. Quickly and efficiently he removed all my information using Paint.NET and saved the, now blank, Facebook page in the Student’s shared area as a Read-only file for others to use as a background image in a DTP package - Scribus if you’re strictly free/open source, Publisher if not.  Most DTP software will save pages as JPEG image files which can be used easily on web pages.
Two girls wanted to video capture a chatroom exchange. Knowing that MSN was unavailable they asked if I could let them use NetSupport chat – a function of our suite management software.  They had planned to use Camstudio video screen capture software,  but I encouraged them to use Screenr.   Camstudio, whilst an excellent piece of kit, produces files that need uploading to a host so that they can be embedded on a web page.  Screenr however, being online, hosts the resultant video, gives embed code, and it’s not filtered – hooray!
Exhausting but satisfying – we’re really on our way now…

3 e-safety plots
1) A meets B in chat room. After some time A agrees to meet B in local park. A's Mum decides to go shopping at the meeting time and walks through park with A.  Only person there is suspicious-looking character. A, realising it is B, goes to shops instead.  On returning home blocks and reports B.
2)  A is new to the school.  A thinks getting on well and making friends until nasty remarks made online by B.  Tells parents and identifies B.  Decides to handle it one to one and A discovers B is being bullied online at the encouragement of  influential classmate C.  Together A and B sort problem. C less influential now and B starts to repair friendships.
3) A and B are boyfriend and girlfriend. A gives B their password.   They row and split up. B pretends to be A on fb and posts unkind stuff about A's friends.  After a lot of problems A sorts them and changes fb security settings and password.