Monthly Archives: December 2009


I have been very reluctant to think too much about the world of learning / education / technology since school broke up two weeks ago. So I've actually been relishing every excuse to NOT go online and consider this blogging thing because that would mean re-engaging with this multi-tailed beast of learning in a more taxing and serious manner than I'm prepared to right this minute. That could change on a whim but I have enjoyed heading to the beach with the family (going for three days in a row tomorrow), watching a few movies at the local cinemas and overdosing on a whole season DVD of The Wire over the course of a week. We've given board games a real bash after Christmas and I've even moved up to Number Five on the blacklist on Need For Speed Most Wanted on the PS2, which is as much of a gamer I ever get to be.

The post Christmas catalogues came out and one item at Harvey Norman caught my eye - a turntable/tapedeck with USB connection for the conversion of LP records and cassettes to digital format - and so I went off to see if they had any in stock. They were all sold out before Christmas so I wondered if it was as simple as having the right cable to connect our old "boombox" to make it happen in a cheaper fashion. A quick Google turned up a surprisingly easy result that even a non-techy, non-geek could manage. I have a large collection of cassettes from my mis-spent youth that I rarely ever listen to because of the format they are tied to but as I'm entitled to make a copy of music I already own, I went down to Tandy this afternoon and bought a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm plug to see if I could get this to work. $19.95 to get a better quality insulated connection and I was back ready to experiment.


The circa 1991 JVC tape deck was connected to my MacBook Pro, Audacity opened up and a few preferences changed before getting started. I had to ensure that I selected line in, not microphone, and check that it was enabled for stereo. Put in a cassette to test the levels and I was away. Now I just want these tracks for my iTunes so a bit of tape hiss is to be heard but that could be erased with a bit of work in Audacity as well. So, now I'm listening to Matt Finish's Short Note album for the first time in many years and hope to slowly convert my cassette collection over the course of the year. Of course, I only need to convert songs that I really want as in the 80's I was in the habit of buying a cassette for only a couple of tracks. Why cassettes? Well, it was the portable format of the time and I remember many a trip over to the West Coast of South Australia scrabbling for a new tape on the long trip. I am looking forward to seeing what I've forgotten about - but being the respecter of copyright, you won't find my offerings on Limewire anytime soon.

I've found out that 3's (my mobile phone provider) coverage barely makes it beyond the northern suburbs of Adelaide so my iPhone became a glorified camera over the weekend on a family visit to my parents. We went for a stroll around to check a few Christmas light displays and I took this shot looking west towards the Flinders Ranges foothills.


I'm not trying to be a matyr here but I am pretty tired at the moment. I know that my blogging has slowed to a minimal trickle and with one school day to go, it's just the effects of a very full on year taking its toll. For the first time, I actually felt envious and resentful towards those colleagues who seemed to have the time to go home and watch mindless television shows, who can afford to leave their laptops at school and who seem to gracefully swimming while I have felt like my head is barely above water.

There have been a few things that have made 2009 a challenge and I am coming away from those experiences as a better educator and hopefully, a better person. Even after over twenty years in this job, I am still figuring out what I can hope to influence in any given student's attitude and achievement, and that external factors like family and culture can be massive thick walls against which to bang one's head.

Part of the heightened stress has been taking on Year Sevens for the first time since 2004. I had forgotten how dramatic a transition adolescence is, how powerful peer group pressure can be, how self absorbed thirteen year olds can be and how resistant to change this particular age group can be. This burden has been shared by my teaching buddies (Kim and Maria) and when we look back over the year, it is with an interesting mix of accomplishment and frustration that we view our journey. Just this final term has seen preparation for our School Open Morning blend into the time sapping report writing ritual that ebbed into preparations for the Year Seven Graduations and trying to wrap the year up in a positive way.

I've been missing a lot of stuff lately - haven't noticed the Edublogs Awards at all, still to look at any of the posts from the K12 Online Conference and still to fulfil my obligations to Christian Long's Alice Project.

So, I'm feeling pretty washed out, in need of a break, some time family time and to rediscover some personal joy in my online connections. Maybe even some time to read that book I got for my birthday back in July.

One more day.

1 Comment

Transition - 1. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

I struggled to find the right word to decribe what I'm trying to sort through in my mind at the moment. I wanted a word to describe the middle ground between say a traditional paper based, non-digital classroom and the always on, connected 1:1 environment I saw the other week in Melbourne. I first thought netherworld captured that essence initially but a quick check on the actual meaning quickly showed that word was inappropriate.  I thought digital purgatory had a nice ring to it, but using computers is not a form of atonement so I've settled for the less edgy transition.

My school and in particular, my own classroom runs a form of digital transition. I've coined this term as an inner mind response to discussions with my colleagues during and after our visit to see the 1:1 laptop program at St Albans Meadows Primary School. We share a bank of twenty laptops across four classrooms so as teachers, we have learned to be quite creative and flexible in our use of this limited resource. So, what is digital transition?

Digital transition - not a traditional place of learning but not quite the transformed connected classroom either. There are times when circumstances force the teacher and the class back into traditional mode  - when networks go down, when laptop access is scarce, when time is tight - to become a place where whole class instruction. worksheet driven activities and lock step units are then more commonplace. When the technology is available, things flow more easily and students can attend to tasks with full access to preferred tools as required.

Does anyone have a better phrase to encapsulate what I'm trying to describe here?