Sunday, 19 July 2009

Phillip and Vicky's Wedding

Where on earth do I start with a family wedding? I guess as we are in the UK the weather! Friday it poured down all day, Sunday we are almost flooded out but Saturday was glorious. How lucky is that? The bride even got a little sunburned on her shoulders whilst the photographs were being taken!

The whole family managed, by some means, to be all present at the Registry Office. The group photograph was taken as we all arrived. In front are Phillip and Vicky. Left to right behind are Clemence & Andy (Andy is Phillip’s twin brother) Helen, Neil & Jay, Carol & Harold.

The wedding service there was lovely, so much better than it was when we got married, though that was a very long time ago. It was happy, warm and friendly with the words tailored to fit their situation. It was all a bit too much for their young son Woody who pretty much refused to be photographed all day :-) He has been talking none stop of the wedding for weeks but once he set eyes on us all together he went very shy and quiet and stayed like that most of the afternoon.

From the registry office we went to where Phillip and Vicky are living and as Phillip is a gamekeeper that is on a big country estate. The official photographs were taken around the lake there, it was a very beautiful spot with waterfalls a bridge and lovely scenery providing the setting. Once all of the group photographs were taken the two families minus the bride and groom went back up to the house for lunch whilst more shots were taken of the bride and groom. Apparently as they moved around the lake for different shots a pair of swans with five cygnets followed them and will appear in some of the photographs when we get them.

A few of the informal photographs are on flickr

Once the formality of the actual wedding was over it was party time. We ate and drank very well, chatted to Vicky’s family whom we have known for a long time but do not often see, chatted to their friends and the people they work with, chatted to our own family who are rarely altogether outside Christmas day and generally just had a very good time.

Clemence never knew what she let herself in for – poor lass :-) She offered to be the driver for the brothers Rainbow that did not get married as they did not all want to be tied to coming back in the taxi with us when we were ready to leave. I will not repeat what she told me about them this morning. Suffice to say we “found” all of Andrew’s clothes folded beautifully in an unused bedroom this morning and Clem “found” Andrew wandering naked at some point after he had woken up in the car and managed to find his way into the house. She guided him to their bed and threw a cover over him before abandoning him and sleeping in a spare bed! I am so glad it was not me waking with that headache to go to work at 10.30 this morning!

… and I am still struggling to get the port stain off Andy’s brand new white, posh shirt… it could not have been a cheapy could it? Sod’s law has a lot to answer for.

A wonderful, happy day was had by all. The one slight downer on the day was the twenty people who did not risk coming either because they or their children have or are recovering from swine flu, that seemed very sad for the bride and groom who were missing a lot of their friends and the friends that missed the wedding.

Half way through the day Helen and Vicky realised that they have a sister in each other where they have both only had brothers up until now and Liz, Vicky's mum, reminded me that we are both mother-in-laws. How wicked a mother-in-law can I managed to be:-) I would rather celebrate having a new daughter-in-law :-)

Monday, 13 July 2009

A session with Wlodek Barbosa

Thursday night I attended the Osnagroup session with Wlodek Barbosa. Usually I attend these sessions which are mostly English language learning based as the recording person rather than as an interested party, though of course they are often interesting, it is just that I am not an English teacher!

This particular session was interesting because it was about teaching with games in Second Life and I am particularly interested in that. Wlodek uses a system that he calls Phonetic Augmented Virtuality Objects or PAVed Objects to make his games. I actually recognised a few of the textures and scripts that Wlodek was using - there were bits there that I developed :-) This actually encourages me to keep on trying to develop new bits and makes me also realise that textures that I upload can help others.The games are all fun, easy to play and exlain and are well used over Wlodek's 42 session course, so they have had a fair test!

It is interesting that Wlodek concentrates on phonics to develop pronunciation, it relates strongly to how some many teach reading to small children here in the UK. Foreign language learning is so closely linked to initial language learning, if only adults could learn like children :-)

I did love the finder that Wlodek demonstrated, I can't see how I could use it at the moment but it is great fun.

For a reording of the event listen here:

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Oxfordshire Harnessing Technologies Conference

What a wonderful day but sadly I did not see nearly enough! The exhibition hall was busy with lots of interesting things to see, try out and investigate. Pupils there for the Logo challenge final, a school radio station, showing off video work, showing off the Learning Platform and other pupils –sorry if I have missed your project – wandered around all of the stands playing with the ipod touch, netbooks, DSs, beebots, robots, trying to get into Second Life and wishing their lives away until they can join, and as one stand owner tweeted – “There's many kids here and they are utterly mercenary about grabbing free stuff as they can fit in their tiny fists”… that’s what kids do :-)

Preparing for the conference - mostly kids and toys :-)

On the ICT stand we had computers in Second Life showing where and how we teach our e-safety course, we had a Twitter board – first time ever – not really approved but by the same token not stopped!

There were loads of breakout sessions in three rooms upstairs at the Williams’ F1 conferencing centre at Grove but again I missed most of them hearing only the three that I was responsible for managing.

The first was Dawn Hallybone from Redbridge talking about game based learning with lots of ideas how to use games to improve children’s writing, maths, geography and far, far more by using games.
This was an inspiring talk, I wish every teacher in the county could have heard it! See Dawn’s slides on Slideshare:

Next came Shirish Patel from the E learning Foundation talking about the Becta’s Home Access Initiative. The trial in Oldham and Suffolk is coming to an end and anyone who wants to be a part of the process needs to start asking their parents and investigating what their schools wants it to do for them, now! A timely presentation!

There seem to be three ways in which a school could help their community, simply by making the information about the grant known, they could maybe facilitate the claiming of the grant and buying of the equipment, at best they could aggregate the home access initiative, getting contributions from parents who do not have access to the funding, buying the computers on masse so that all pupils have one - some schools have done it for all in this manner.

See the Becta page for loads of information

The last presentation that I was responsible for managing was one about Espresso. Tom from Deddington School and Chris from Espresso demonstrated what it can offer, the range of resources available etc. For more information contact Espreso directly or the county team.

The whole day seemed to be a very positive experience, teachers who I talked to and the tweets said that people enjoyed it and learned lots from it, several teachers meantioned brain overload - so hopefully after a day or two to think about it they will have rationalised all they they saw and heard :-) A good day!

A Visit to the Art Box

Tuesday evening saw the last e-safety session of this course and as usual we went visiting places in Second Life. In fact we did not visit places, we got stuck on the first place and look loads of photographs! The Art Box is a lovely new build by Frankie Rockett and a friend whose name I could nto find on the build - sorry! It is lots of fun. It is based on a holodeck and famous paintings. One chooses a picture and the holodeck builds the scene for the picture but allows visitors to replace the people in the real picture. There are pose balls placed so that people pose as they did in the real image and props to help set the scene. For the whole set of pictures take there see the flickr set –

To visit The Art Box you need to be a member of Second Life and follow this Slurl:

I just wish this could be available for pupils in school, just imagine the discussion about the artist, artist’s life, what the picture means, represents, how it is constructed etc! I am continually amazed at what Second Life could offer to the education of the young and they are not allowed in, it is so sad!

Revisiting Mont St Michel

This build is being developed all of the time and a new sim has recently being added which is in the process of being developed as the causeway. (Ah – I have just read that it is a mega prim not a whole sim – makes sense!) The shops are now all full and open selling slightly different resources that one may usually find in a shopping area in Second Life.

There are already blogs discussing the build such as the one at

and the slide show at .

I visited again last night with SL Graham Mills and found a place to take silly pictures :-) It is great fun and very interesting!

Friday, 3 July 2009

The Naace VW Seminar

3D Virtual Worlds: from inset to classroom, a learning environment for all.

On June 30th in London Naace held a virtual worlds seminar. Gareth presented the day and speakers were ShamblesGuru, Eyebeams and Carolrb, all users of Second Life and /or other virtual worlds. It was a very enjoyable day.
Shamble's first presentation was showing opportunities within Second Life, he presented a video and talked over it before logging in and taking us to the International Schools Island showing the Towers and explaining that he is trying to make them the “Google” of education in Second Life.
Shambles did a second presentation with three people from the Teen Grid being interviewed. Graham Stanley, Peggy Sheehy and Marianne Malmstrom all talked about teaching in the Teen Grid which most of us in Second Life, even educators, will never visit. It is very locked down and a special CRB check has to be carried out on the teachers who enter, the normal UK one apparently is not enough, and one has to be attached to a project to get in even then. So if I managed to get in I could not travel around the Teen Grid islands to see what others are up to, they would be closed to me.
One example of student projects given was a role-playing activity set on Ellis Island in the mid-20th century. Some of the students played immigrants coming to America, some played the immigration officials, it sounded quite thought provoking, quite disturbing and something very interesting to have been involved in.
My session followed after lunch – a big section of it should have been presented in-world but we were dogged by sound problems so it was not as successful as I hoped but the audience still got a fairly clear picture of how teaching in-world is possible. Unlike both Shamblesguru and Eyebeams who spoke later, I rent space in Second Life rather than owning an island. It was probably good for the audience to see how it is possible to work with just a very small plot of land. Half way through the session the conference centre techie person came to change the sound system – but we had already abandoned Second Life so did not go back :-). After the session several people asked about renting educational land in Second Life, here are a few rental places: International Schools Islands contact Shamblesguru Vroom aka Chris SmithLearn4Life contact Eyebeams Electricteeth aka Leon Cych, , Education UK contact Dickie Mint in world, and the place where I rent EduNation contact Dudeney Ge aka Gavin Dudeney
Leon’s session focussed on other virtual worlds available through a browser called the Hippo viewer, download from and start browsing, resources belonging to oneself can be transported from virtual world to virtual world through the Meerkat viewer, download from
Leon took us on a tour of educational builds outside Second Life, these are mostly underdeveloped at the moment, it is very early days. People who create educational environments here have to build everything from scratch, there is nothing there to start with – this is the biggest difference between them and Second Life at the moment. In Second Life there are resources, many free, land can be rented cheaply but to do a big build and buy land is fairly expensive to start off. However the open grids can be made completely private so schools could develop them for educational purposes.
The videos etc from the day are to be found at