ICAS is Coming

The International Competitions and Schools Assessment 2007 is coming up. The actual tests, in math and English for grades 4 to 9 will be written in August and September 2007. The deadline for applications falls on July 27 when we are on holiday. Therefore we are promoting these competitions now. All classes will do at least one math and English practice test. Cost for the competition is Rp 90,000 per subject. Please note that this competition is open to students in grades 3 to 8 of the current school year.

 

2006 was the first year we participated in this program, and we won two silver medals; Monica (grade 4) in English and Pinia (grade 5) in mathematics. This year we’re going for gold.

Air Mata Guru

The Sunday Jakarta Post 27 May Youth Matters page featured articles by grades 7 to 9 students, detailing their thoughts on cheating on exams and related topics, in response to allegations of organized cheating on the national exams. Air Mata Guru, or Teachers’ Tears, is the name adopted by a brave group of teachers in Medan,
North Sumatra, who dared expose the situation. For their efforts, they are now being persecuted, which seems to be the common fate of whistle-blowers here. The Post editors didn’t use everything we sent them, but they did fill a whole page with our student writing. Congratulations, guys. And a special thanks to Andy Wood, for coordinating this writing project. Check it out online at
www.thejakartapost.com/features.asp 

Adventures in Podcasting in Indonesia

Podcasts are audio recordings in MP3 format that can be downloaded off the internet onto your computer, ipod or MP3 player. In a few really progressive institutions, teachers record all lectures and make them available to their students, and the general public, over the internet. This is great when it’s time to study for tests or to catch up on lectures during sick days. For a great overview of podcasts in language teaching, go to the Teacher’s Page at eslpod.com and download “The Portable Classroom; How Ipods Will change Language Teaching”.  (warning: this podcast file is 41.4 MB)

 

But, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that podcasting won’t catch on big here for some time. Just look at the file sizes and the internet infrastructure. With broadband scarce and many people still using dial-up, large files are just too difficult to download or too expensive, especially considering that much material in podcasts is also available in a blog somewhere. To read about podcats and much, much more, have a look at Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators, by Q. D’Souza at http://www.scribd.com/doc/3273/100-Web-20-Ideas-for-Educators

 

The concept of podcasting, however, has some application, at least in my school as long as the distribution isn’t by internet. Files can be placed on the school intranet and downloaded onto flash drives or MP3 players. And since most if not all students have these devices, why not put them to good use. 

 

Since they are oral, podcasts are ideal for language learning. So that’s where I started. After downloading Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) and the associated LAME MP3 Encoder (lame.sourceforge.net), fiddling with it for an hour, and buying a decent microphone (Rp 90,000), I was ready to start…..but, where? I’m not a teacher, I manage a school. Recalling our less than spectacular results in our annual spelling bee, and the calls for better preparation in the future, I decided we could put together an MP3 to help prepare our spellers for their next event. So, I googled up word lists by grade level (http://www.everydayspelling.com/spellinglist), I bought a software dictionary and installed it on my laptop. And that’s all I needed, folks, a word list, a dictionary for definitions, a recording device and the software to handle the recording.

 

Linking the LAME Encoder to Audacity to produce my first MP3 file took some time, but the next one should be easy. After proudly emailing an MP3 file to my 15 year old daughter, I received the following message “Wow, dad you’re gonna have to teach me how to do that.” It’s usually the other way round, with me asking her how to do tech stuff.

 

The groundwork is done. Now all we need are some readers to input the audio.

Welcome

WELCOME! You have reached sekolahbogorraya.edublogs.org. This is a blog, a webpage that will be updated at least weekly, where your comments can be published. The purpose of this blog is to act as another form of school-client interactive communication. While this blog is directed towards our clients, ie our parents, and our students, visitors are, of course, welcome to join us. We are currently hosted by edublugs.org, a free blog space provider specializing in, you guessed it, education.

 

Doug Stoltz

Sekolah Bogor Raya

Bogor, INDONESIA

admin@sekolahbr.or.id

sekolah_bogor_raya@hotmail.com

I Confess

I confess…I’m a junkie, an internet junkie, addicted to a constant flow of information. Information about education. I get my fix from reading newsletters like Education World’s Administrator’s Desk (www.educationworld.com), online journals, such as Electronic School (www.electronic-school.com), and from numerous blogs (presently about 25) on education, the future of education, ICT, etc. I keep track of them with RSS. Some blogs I follow are listed here. Have a look at them.

www.infinitethinking.org

www.assortedstuff.com

www.techsavvy.net

www.teach42.com

 

This week I talked to our ICT staff and a selection of tech-savvy teachers about adoption of emerging technologies at Sekolah Bogor Raya. I don’t think anyone knew what RSS was.  RSS is relatively simple syndication, which is why we call it RSS.  Actually, if you had asked me a month ago, I wouldn’t have been too sure about it, either. We also talked about school blogs, wikis and educational podcasts. (more about these in coming weeks)

 

“We want our students to learn the skills needed for the 21st century, but who’s going to get them there? Our teachers, who, like the rest of us, are products of the 20th century.” http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0906SpecialReports/S3.html

 

Coming back to blogs, if for instance you wish to follow the four blogs listed above, you have two options. You could check each website occasionally to see if something new had been posted. Or if you’re smart, you use RSS to tell you whenever a blog is updated. I’m using www.bloglines.com, a free online RSS to follow about 25 blogs. I love it. I wish I’d started years ago.

 

According to an article on the top 100 education blogs http://oedb.org/library/features/top-100-education-blogs

there are more than 5,000 educational blogs.

 

As we bring Sekolah Bogor Raya into the 21st century, it’s interesting to look at some past examples of new technologies and what was said about them at the time. This set of quotations is taken from a slideshow What If, which can be viewed at http://www.lps.k12.co.us/schools/arapahoe/fisch/fischbowlpresentations.htm

 

“Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.” (1928)

“Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.” (1950)

“We can’t let them use calculators in middle school. If we do, they’ll forget how to do long division or how to multiply three digit numbers by three digit numbers. What will they do when they don’t have access to a calculator?” (1989)

“Why would you ever want the Internet for student use? It’s just the latest fad – have them use the library.” (1995)

 

Looking back is a good prelude to looking ahead. It reminds us that todays hot new technology is at best tomorrows old, taken-for-granted technology. Looking to the future, I really like 2020 Vision, a 15 minute video of a school ICT director addressing the graduating high school class of year 2020 (kids entering kindergarten today will graduate in 2020). He reviews the changes in technology that occur during the period, with great foresight. I recommend it highly http://www.lps.k12.co.us/schools/arapahoe/fisch/fischbowlpresentations.htm

Students Only: Social Network Sites

Did you know that there were 106 million registered users of MySpace in September 2006. If MySpace were a country, it would be 11th largest in the world between Japan and
Mexico.  The average MySpace page is visited 30 times per day. This information comes from an award-winning Powerpoint presentation Shift Happens, which is highly recommended. Watch it with your parents. http://www.slideshare.net/jbrenman/shift-happens-33834/2..
 

I would like to know how many of you belong to social network sites like MySpace. Could somebody from each class starting with grade 5 please collect data on all your classmates, just the numbers please, no names, in the following format, and post it here:

Class:

Total # of Students:

Number with social network membership: