Revolutionizing the Learning Experience With Electronic Interactive Education

What was required?

With an understanding of the value of Kinesthetic Learning, solutions were thought that would assist teaching methods, increase student interaction and improve outcomes across the curriculum.

The productsought needed to be environmentally friendly (ie reduce the use of photocopied materials), user friendly, comprehensive, and not require constant software upgrades.

After a thorough evaluation Di Prust selected Promethean interactive Whiteboards and the Elmo Document Camera from a Melbourne-based ICT company DatacomIT.

The Solution
Promethean Interactive Whiteboard

Promethean's Activboard + 2 is an interactive whiteboard that makes learning fun. Designed by teachers, the Activboard reflects the growing trend in visual learning; The idea that children respond to visual stimulation. After comparisons with other products on the market, Albert Park Primary School trialled the whiteboard over a period of two months and found that teachers were able to develop engaging lessons through Promethean's award winning suite of hardware and software.

The Interactive whiteboard comes with many tools that bring lessons to life. The Activboard, where all content is displayed is available in 95, 78 "and 64" sizes with an adjustable height function. Albert Park Primary School purchased 17 78 "whiteboards in total, positioned at the front and center of the classrooms. Di found students were drawn to the whiteboard and managed to focus on lessons with ease.

The battery free pen known as the Activpen, wrists like a pen but functions as a mouse. It is a supplied tool that initiates all the action; Its use also helps the development of children's handwriting and motor skills, a key factor in Albert Park Primary School's selection of the Promethean product over its competitors.

The interactive software means that teachers can create, save and share lessons. The teachers at Albert Park Primary School appear to be enjoying this aspect of the product, as Di highlights the freedom of the flipchart software: 'the flexibility in using the flipcharts makes lessons more accessible.'

The flipchart is like a blank artist's canvas, where the teacher can create a lesson plan that Picasso would be jealous of 'we are more in control of what we can actually do and are not limited by software.'

This is significant for teaching difficult concepts, as complicated lessons can be simplified and then shared among teachers, furthering the possibility of student understanding.

Di has also recognized a shift in the attitudes of her students who are showing a new enthusiasm to learn. Students at Albert Park Primary School relish in the opportunity to use the whiteboard and the tools it boasts.

With its basic suite consisting of the Activboard, the Activpen and the Activstudio lesson creation software, the Promethean interactive whiteboard creates a vibrant and energetic learning experience. Other tools are the Activote, the Activslate, the Activtablet, the Activpanel and the Activwand.

Albert Park Primary School was suitably impressed by the Whiteboard, along with DatacomIT's vast support and experience in this area.

Such an interactive and innovative product will prove its significance over and over again. It will capture and re-capture students and teachers for years to come.

The ELMO iTech Document Camera / Visual Presenter

The Elmo iTeach Document Camera has seen tremendous success in the classroom environment.

The ELMO was selected by Albert Park Primary School to display lessons on the Interactive Whiteboards. Since its implementation the ELMO has managed to project more than just an image or lesson, but a new method of understanding.

A portable alternative to an overhead projector, the ELMO acts to support lessons with its multimedia and interactive capabilities. It produces a large image that can capture moving pictures at 20 frames per second. The camera is positioned above an A3 sized capture area where you can undertake science experiments, present maps, diagrams and handwritten work to students.

'It's terrific, says Di who believes the ELMO compliments the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard,' I use it regularly. Usually I'll draw something on a sheet of paper and then use the ELMO to project it while I'm still drawing or writing on that same piece. '

Teachers can also connect the ELMO document camera to teaching tools other than interactive whiteboards, such as computers and microscopes. Its numerous interfaces (USB, XGA, Video out) and SD memory card availability, means that teachers can generate lessons for their students at home and can re-use and adapt these lessons for classes in years to come.

With the ELMO product new forms of media can be used to reach students, rather than just old videos, DVDs or CDs. Learning becomes a refreshing experience for both teacher and student.

The interactive nature of the ELMO also increases opportunity for more teacher / student interaction; Communication is becoming a two-way experience, rather than the old one-way model of information exchange from teacher to student.

'The general feedback on the Elmo camera from teachers at Albert Park Primary School is very positive' says Di. Their observations include:

1 Increase in pupil concentration
2 Instructions quickly learned
3 Ability to absorb and retain information
4 By enlarging objects, pupil's understanding is improved and academic curiosity is noticeably increased.

Conclusion
The Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and ELMO iTech Document Camera has positioned Albert Park Primary School at the forefront of leading edge teaching techniques.

More time is spent on the learning process itself, involving Kinesthetic Learning with leading educational technologies. Students are generally more interested in the classes where the Interactive Whiteboard and Document camera are used, and get a real buzz from this real time method of teaching.

My Dog Training Squirrels!

I have a person who is masquerading as a dog at my house. His name is Tuxcitto. The reason I say this is that no normal dog can take random information and figure out the things that Tuxcitto does everyday. I have a perfect example in the following story of Tuxcitto and our resident squirrel population. You never know who's doing the dog training around our house.

Before Tuxcitto came along last fall, we had one dog named Spoofy. She's an older dog and has been with us since she was a puppy. Spoofy loves to chase squirrels. Back in her younger days she almost done one or two. But These days the squirrels have their way with her and get just close enough to tease her, and then easily run up the nearest tree.

But that was soon to change when Tuxcitto arrived. I learned in the first few weeks that Tuxcitto was an experienced escape artist. Until we came to an agreement, he would often take off and run through the vicinity heather and yon until he got thirsty, hungry, or I came and caught him. During this period he was usually bound to a long tether tied to our front tree if we were not outside with him.

Since we now agree that he will not run around the neighborhood he gets to go out with Spoofy and our two cats, Blackie and Baby with out being tethered. During the time that he was tethered, he often watched a little game play out with Spoofy and our local squirrels. He was always interested but never really participated since he knew the 30 feet of tether limited him. Or at least that's what I believe now in hindsight.

Our resident squirrels do not needlessly come by everyday. They come pretty often since they love to rob our birdfeeders and tease Spoofy. But there are plenty of dogs and birdfeeders to visit in our neighborhood so they feel obliged to give all some attention. So the first few times that Tuxcitto was free to roam there were no squirrels in the area.

Now Tuxcitto is a Border Collie who has tremendous speed and agility, since the breed is a natural at herding animals. I have seen Tuxcitto clear a 5 foot fence with room to spare. These are popular dogs for freebie competitions. So he has a lot of natural talent. But beyond that, this dog is smarter than a lot of people I know and enjoys demonstrating this on any occasion.

So one morning I go to let the dogs and cats for their midmorning break. My neighbor happened to be out working in the yard so all four animals had to trot over over to see what he was doing. I traveled and followed the crowd. As I was talking to my neighbor, the animals lost interest and wandered back into our yard.

I am so grateful that I had a witness for what followed. As my neighbor and I talked I noticed the squirrels working their way way over to my yard through the trees. As soon as they got close they started chattering at Spoofy. Spoofy's ears perked up, she jumped up and was ready for the game to begin. But little did the squirrels know that the rules were about to be drastically changed.

The squirrels talked to each other and scampered down a nearby tree. Not all the way to the ground, just to the bottom of the trunk. As they were eyeing Spoofy, and looking to another tree about 40 feet away they ignored Tuxcitto laying just to the right of Spoofy. I'm sure they never considered him a threat since he had never joined in the game before.

I think they were very confident that they could reach the next tree before that old fat Spoofy could even get within 15 feet. And that was probably true, no doubt about it since I had seen this played out many times. So the squirrels got ready to jump, and Spoofy was ready to lunge after them. And Tuxcitto was just watching as usual.

The squirrels leaped down and started to scamper across the 40 feet of grass separating the trees. Spoofy lunged after them coming up on their rear. But what caught my eye was an explosion of Tuxcitto leaping off the ground, not chasing after the squirrels as Spoofy was but going directly for the tree to cut them off.

And he got there in about 3 or 4 seconds, far ahead of the squirrels. In fact the squirrels about went into a train wreck trying to stop their forward momentum towards the tree. In about 5 seconds this had turned from familiar game to their biggest nightmare. A dog was blocking each tree and there was nowhere to go.

And Tuxcitto stand in front of them like a coiled spring waiting to see which way they were going to go. And good old Spoofy, finally seeing that there was a real opportunity here to finally catch these little devils, was running full speed towards them from the rear.

The squirrels decided that they did not want anything to do with Tuxcitto and turned to run back to the original tree. As soon as they moved Tuxcitto burst into action and actually caught up with them as they all got to the tree. Spoofy was a little late since she had to do a full stop and then turn around to head in the opposite direction.

I do not think Tuxcitto was even trying to catch the squirrels, he just wanted to beat them to the tree. I'm not sure who got there first, it was a tight finish. My neighbor turned to me and said "it's a good thing Tuxcitto was just playing or there would have been two less squirrels in the neighborhood". Both dogs sat there for a while looking up at the squirrels but lost interest in a few minutes.

The amazing thing about this little adventure was the fact that Tuxcitto had watched Spoofy and the squirrels perform this little game several times. Tuxcitto had learned from Spoofy that just chasing the squirrels was not the best strategy. Between watching Spoofy and his natural herding instincts, Tuxcitto had figured out the best way to beat those squirrels. And he knew exactly what both Spoofy and the squirrels were going to do and so when he got the opportunity, he was ready.

That's a good way to train a young dog, put them with an older dog that knows what to do and let them learn from the more experienced animal. Of course in this case Tuxcitto learned what not to do, but the same principal applies. Tuxcitto has learned a lot from watching Spoofy since he joined the family. And he also learned from the squirrels, since they repeatedly did the same thing. So dog training around this house is up for grabs.

The epilog to this story is that the squirrels never get out of the trees now. They still come over and chatter at the dogs but they know better than to try and make a break for the nearby tree on the ground. But they still have a few birdfeeders to rob so our yard still gets frequent visits.

What is SSL (the "little padlock")?

SSL ("Secured Socket Layer") is a protocol used to encrypt the communication between the user's browser and the web server. When SSL is active, a "little padlock" appears on the user's browser, usually in the status line at the bottom (at the top for Mac / Safari users.)

This assures the user that sensitive data (such as credit card numbers) can not be viewed by anyone "sniffing" the network connection (which is an increasing risk as more people use wireless networking).

Common web site owner questions about SSL:

How do I get the little padlock on my site?

To get the little padlock, your site must have an SSL Certificate from a Certificate Authority. Once an SSL Certificate has been purchased and installed, it provides three things:

  1. The ability to show a page in "Secure Mode", which encrypts the traffic between the browser and the server, as indicated by the "little padlock" on the user's browser.
  2. A guarantee by the issuing Certificate Authority that the domain name the certificate was issued for is indeed owned by the specific company or individual named in the certificate (visible if the user clicks on the little padlock).
  3. An assurance that the domain name the certificate was issued for is the domain name the user's browser is now on.

Once obtained, the certificate must be installed on the web server by your web host. Since your web host also has to generate an initial cypher key to obtain the certificate, very often they will offer to handle the process of obtaining the certificate for you.

My web host has a "shared certificate" that I can use. Should I?

It's still fairly common for small sites to use a shared certificate from the host. In this circumstance, when a page needs to be shown in secured mode, the user is actually sent to a domain owned by the web host, and then back to the originating domain afterwards.

A few years ago, when SSL Certificates were quite expensive (around $ 400 per year), this was real attractive for new sites just getting their feet wet in e-commerce. Today, with a number of perfectly functional SSL certificates available for under $ 100 (exclusive of installation, etc.), it is a lot less attractive. Since your user can look at the address line of his or her web browser and see that the site asking for the credit card number is not the site he or she thought they were on, the cost savings is probably not worth the risk of scaring off A sale.

What's the difference between the expensive SSL Certificates and the inexpensive ones?

Typically, mostly price. Some expensive certificates have specific functions, such as securing a number of different subdomains simultaneously (a "wildcard" certificate), but the effective differences between basic single site certificates are very slight, despite the wide range of prices:

The encryption mechanism used by all of them is the same, and most use the same key length (which is an indicator of the strength of the encryption) common to most browsers (128 bit).

Some of them ("chained root" certificates) are slightly more of a pain for your web host to install than others ("single root" certificates), but this is pretty much invisible to the site owner.

The amount of actual checking on the ownership of the domain varies wildly among sellers, with some (usually the more expensive) wanting significant documentation (like a D & B number), and others handling it with an automated phone call ("press # 123 if you 'Ve just ordered a certificate ").

Some of them offer massive monetary guarantees as to their security (we'll pay you oodles of dollars if someone cracks this code), but since it's all the same encryption mechanism, if someone comes up with a crack, all e-commerce sites will Be scrambling, and the odds of that vendor actually having enough cash to pay all of its customers their oodel is probably slim.

The fact is that you are buying the certificate to insure the safety of the user's data, and to make the user confident that his or her data is secure. For the vast majority of users, simply having the little padlock show up is all they are looking for. There are exceptions (I have a client in the bank software business, and they feel that their customers (bank officers) are looking for a specific premier name on the SSL certificate, so are happy to continue using the expensive one), but most e -commerce customers do not pick their sellers based on who issued their SSL Certificates.

My advice is to buy the cheaper one.

I have an SSL certificate – why should not I serve all my pages in "Secured" mode?

Because SSL has an overhead – more data is sent with a page that is encrypted than a page that is not. This translates to your site appearing to run slower, particularly for users who are on dial-up or other slow connections. Since this also increases the total amount of data transferred by your site, if your web host charges by transfer volume (or has an overage fee, as most do), this can increase the size of your monthly hosting bill.

The server should go into secure mode when asking a user for financial or other sensitive data (which may well be "name, address and phone number", with today's risk of identity theft), and operate in normal mode otherwise.

Safety Tips on Doing an Oil Change

Probably one of the first safety tips to share when you're going to do an oil change on your car engine is to be ready for the oil spills, the grease, and the dirt. If you're a squeaky clean kind of person, then maybe you would rather bring your car to an auto repair shop and let them do that for you. But of course, changing the oil yourself is more practical and you get to save more money every year as change the oil periodically.

Now before starting out on the task of changing the oil in your engine, prepare the tools you need first. A preparation of all the things you need will make the job easier and with no hassle. You will especially need lots of old newspapers or cardsboards to cover the floor and protect it from spills. Oil filters, wrench set, an oil container, a funnel, and new oil are a given in this task, of course. Do not forget to wear gloves, too. Some people change the oil with bare hands but there is always the option of wearing gloves for extra protection.

Make sure that the spot where you're going to do the oil change has a level, flat, and solid ground. Drive around your neighborhood first to heat the oil and make it thin and easy to drain from the engine. Once your engine is warm enough, you can then park your car on the spot for the task at hand.

You can wait a while to cool the engine a bit. Thin oil that is easily drained is good but we would not want to burn our hands now, do we? Make sure you've placed your car in gear and the parking brake is set firmly. You can block the tires with a rock or brick for extra measure. You then jack your car up, but do not settle only for that. Use jackstands to keep the car aloft to help keep it firmly there. Do not get under the car unless you are very sure that the car is stable being held up.

Now with the car settled, the ground covered with newspapers or cardsboards, the tools prepared, and you protected with gloves and work clothes, you're ready for the task of changing the oil. Just remember to be careful when draining the oil since it may still be hot. Also make sure your face is out of the way when draining it.

When you're done with changing the oil and screwing the engine close, start looking for leaks. Start the engine and run it for five minutes or so while checking if there are leaks or not. Afterwards you can clean up. Throw the newspapers and oil containers away. Place the used oil and container in a sealed bag and take it to the gas station or oil recycling center.

Another important reminder is to remember that oil disposal should be done correctly. Improper oil disposal has been a hot issue, and is considered illegal and damaging to the environment. It is recommended that you drop your old and used oil at gas stations that will accept them, at no charge. There are regulations for proper oil disposal and people doing an oil change on their engines should be well aware of it.