Sugar OS - Linux for EYFS and Key Stage 1 ICT

Sugar OS and OLPC


The project that kicked off a long time back (I think 2001-2?) was heralded as a large and complex operation that would encompass many governments, organisations and operatives. Since the many newspaper, blog and newsfeed stories that have chronicled the progress of the project it seems as though the OLPC has taken a slightly different track in it’s approach and direction. This sidestep is part and parcel due to Walter Bender leading a team with the OS rather than the hardware.

Sugar, the name for the OS that OLPC uses is a flavour of the Fedora Linux family and is also available through Debian, Ubuntu and, as I’m about to chat about, the live USB version. Although, I’m cheating a little, as I’ve actually got it through VirtualBox as as a separate installer. The idea is that I would like to use it in class as a live USB for the smaller children in another computing environment that windows for various reasons that i’ll come to ina moment. The live USB version, I would assume, is very similar in use as the main with some elements missing – but for this post I’m sure this won’t matter as the crux of the issue is classroom use.

So far, this OS (the Strawberry Sugar on a stick but not on a stick!) is working very well for me. i really like the interface, the simplicity and the ready robustness of the feel I played around with it and tried to think like a 5 or 6 year old would when they are presented with something new. The whole wow factor followed by the frantic clicking and then followed by the stop and look. I did this without precautiuon and ened up opening the turtle application. Now, my students (age from 4 to 11) are pretty familiar with windows and they see a changing desktop appearance week in week out but not the operation. The circular dial would, I feel, entice them to click on the picture. I mean, after all I set up icon shortcuts for them to “click-click” on daily and this seems kid centric to me. The circle of apps surrounds them too which is what I like also. So far, so good.

We have been using the Windows version of Gcompris for a while now as it has games and quizzes that are colourful and easy to follow and differentiate for  the more computer savvy 5 year old. Also, Gcompris is open source (resticted for Windows users) but the full set up available for your school should you run EdUbuntu or similar (or if your site manager allows you to run VirtualBox) coupled with Sebran and you have quite a setup for the bebinner ICT class for children (or OAPs getting used to a computer and keyboard).

What is really good about Sugar though is the potential of the site and the community that runs it. The model of the Mozilla extensions that has made web browsing sans IE has been used here too. The Activities menu is growing all the time and there are some reasonable addons here too. As any self respecting ICT teacher will know music is a brilliant factor in the attention grabbing eyes-on-the-screen activity where and hour zips by without a word said (headphones permitting). Tamtam Jam activities provide this with an easy download.

I am sure that I will hit stumbling blocks along the way and the fact I have to try and persuade my Principal to give me money for 25 2Gb USB drives so that I can operate this for my classroom is one of them. What I would then like to do is test and post up the pitfalls and the successes – especially the neighbourhood tool and see the reaction.

Music, ICT and 30 great applications for teaching music through technology

It's been a while since the blog was updated and there's plenty of reason for this - new job, summer holiday and been home without a care in the world. A tiny break in seeking out great resources and ideas for ICT.

Over here on the this page is a brand new set of applications replacing the outdated set that was there with all the broken links etc. This is, I believe one of the best list that includes Synths, players, media apps, CD Rippers, converters and notation editors that not only give a wide and varied scope to teaching music but many of them are Linux and Windows compatible.


What Is Google Wave, Anyway? New E-Book Explains

 I know this may seem like cheating and quite possibly plagerism, but as I've dropped the original source links in here I suppose I could be O.K. Below, I saw this little article via @teachpaperless and my Google Reader feed. It outlines the new Book from Gina Trapani that was first mentioned on TWiG (leading to her embarrassment of a server out of memory crash) - the embarrassment is purely a compliment to her popularity as a leader in Tech Media.

The TWiG podcast #14 is here

I received a Wave invite and looked at it and poked around with it but to honest, until the invites I have sent, I can't see what to do with it. It's bit like Twitter in the early days - What am i doing? Well, not a lot. It wasn't until all the links and people of my ilk joined the fray and the links came abouding and the question carried higher merit. So, I am reading the book below at the moment together with this helping hand.


Published: November 2, 2009

Google Wave has generated a lot of interest in the past few months, despite most people I’ve talked to being unclear about what the service is, and how to use it. I confess that after I finally got an invitation, I was somewhat perplexed when faced with Google Wave’s minimal interface.

Tech writers Gina Trapani and Adam Pash have created an online e-book, “The Complete Guide to Google Wave,” which does an excellent job of explaining what Google Wave is and how it can be used. The book provides step-by-step instructions on how to get invited to the service, what to do when you get there, and how to make the most of it.

For those of us who are used to skimming the highlights and jumping around in technical manuals, I strongly suggest that you read the book — at least the first couple of chapters — in full. It’s not that long, and will give you a working knowledge of the service. I suspect that web workers will find Wave to be a very useful collaboration tool once we get used to using it.

The book is written in a clear, straightforward style, and is sprinkled with helpful and sometimes humorous quotes like this one from Wave user Andy Baio: “I keep pushing the New Wave button, but it never plays Depeche Mode or The Cure.”

An electronic version of the book will be offered for sale beginning in November; it’s unclear whether the online version will continue to be available once the book comes out. So if you’re interested in Google Wave, this is an excellent time to learn more about it. But you may need some patience; the book’s web site has been very slow, as I suspect it’s getting more traffic than the authors expected.

Are you using Google Wave?



For a while now we've been using Animoto and to great effect. There are a bunch of creative guys behind the site and this shows in the way that the movies (photo stories if you like) get spliced together. Essentially, they are randomised according to the music you wish to use.

At school we decided to make a club for the more creative kids in our school first. The reason we do this is to iron out the kinks first - not to make an elitest group. The great thing about making a club is that the kids that attend the club become your in-class experts and helpers when things inevitable go awry! Just make sure you select the kids in your classes ;)

How to Create a Video in Animoto?

  • Sign up for a free account
  • Choose to do a short 30-sec video or a full length video
  • Choose to upload images from your computer
  • Or pick one of the following services: Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket, etc.
  • I chose Flickr & chose a set from my Flickr account after authorizing Animoto to access Flickr
  • Then wait a few mins when Animoto gets your images and processes them
  • Once it grabs your images you can choose to keep them all or delete the ones you don’t want
  • Then choose a song from their collection or upload your own.
  • Then finalize your video with a title and description and let Animoto works it’s magic.
  • Email the video, download it or even embed in a webpage to share in with others. (like I have done top right)

If you had more than 15 images Animoto will warn you that you some images might get cut off or you can choose the full length version.

The great thing about Animoto is furthered by it's iPod app and the Education log in. The education edition allows several features of the fully fledged animoto edition - namely unlimited slide shows to be uploaded. To access the education edition you have to prove youare an educational establishment and you are who you say you are.

Lastly, Animoto gives you the option of HD. So, should you be a keen photographer and you know the images you have deserve to be in HD then there is this option. Perhaps then use them on Vimeo?



Splash Up

There I am thinking "How am I going to get a new background and theme to this 'ere site. I want a new theme and really kick this thing off by the end of the summer holidays (incidentally it means no travel plans!). So there I am thinking what mac freeware is there to use for picture editing.

I was racking my brains for an app that I could either use in VMware as a Windows app or a download either a windows or Mac app. So ancient in my thinking. Web 2.0 really has thrown a wealth of opportunity and availability fr this arena.

SplashUp is taken from the SketchUp name (I would imagine) and is marvellous. A lite weight version of where you can use layering and magic wand to edit and add elements. Brilliant! Of I go then and edit the image without having to downoad or install.