27 February 2007

First Blog for 2007

Yes I know its been a drought between blogs, but I have had the toughest time trying to log in and do a post.

I'm at Punmu community at the moment, and have been for the past two weeks undertaking horticulture training, which basically translates into getting the vegetable garden ready. Last year was good for the garden, as I have seen many photos of the fruit and vegetables that have been picked. The garden did have some melons that were still producing fruit. Were because the kids had jumped the fence and picked all the fruit that was still 2 weeks away from being ready. Buggers. Unfortunately this has swayed my thinking in that the melons might be given a miss this year, so as to not to tempt the kids to jump the fence and pillage the fruit before its ready. There is one barbed wire strand around the top, and we are trying to get the second and third strands up quickly as well as wrapping the barb wire around the pole that they are using to assist themselves to get over. Perhaps there is no such thing as a kid proof fence.

Despite other set backs, such as the chickens not surviving the summer due to kids from another community, things are looking good for this year.

This year, I am not on any AFLF projects. The college has decided to concentrate on three applications, all very similar, involving partnerships with Pilbara TAFE and Pilbara Iron. I'm not too happy that they have decided to go with applying for three small grants, instead of one big grant, but they have their reasons, and since I'm not involved in anyway, this does not seem to matter.

Next two weeks I will be Nullagine and Marble Bar, undertaking units from the Conservation and Land Managament Training Package with the school kids. I'm really looking forward to this as later on in the year, I'm hoping to get to spend a week with the rangers at Karijini National Park, helping out in any way we can.

16 November 2006

Reaching into the Pocket PC

The workshop that Karen, Ann and Sue done at the recent Teen Teachers Training Forum, was really well done. Not only did it present information that was relevant and informative, but did so in a way that excited and inspired all that were present. The topics that were covered included showcases of how PDA's were being used by lecturers from around the state, comparing the different types of mobile PC's that are available, as well as the future trends in this area. Unfortunately there were no handouts of the powerpoint presentation :(

I believe that all workshops from the teen teachers training forum are to be podcast on the VetInfoNet website in the near future. Check it out.

03 November 2006

Teen Teachers Training Forum

I'm off to the Teen Teachers Training Forum to be held on the 13th and 14th of November at Hyatt Regency in Perth. These are the sessions that I will be attending

Day 1 - Monday, 13 November 2006

Session 1
Workshop 4 - Digital Storytelling
Presenters: Mrs Ann Odgers

Session 2
Workshop 10 - Location! Location! Location! School or TAFE
Presenters: Mrs Karen Thomas

Session 3
Workshop 14 - Innovative solutions to VET in Schools delivery in a remote region
Presenters: Miss Richelle Russ
Day 2 - Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Session 4
Workshop 24 - The District High School Approach
Presenters: Ms Liz Burkett, Ms Tamara Feltham, Mr Peter Fitzgerald

Session 5
Workshop 27 - What is quality VET in Schools
Presenters: Mr Matthew Jones

Session 6
Workshop 31 - Reaching into the Pocket PC - Part 1
Presenters: Ms Karen Higgins, Mrs Ann Odgers, Ms Sue Waters

Session 7
Workshop 37 - All About Partnerships - Part 2
Presenters: Mrs Mairead Dempsey

It looks like it will be full on and fun. Not often do I get the chance to network often. I have been in email contact with Sue Waters, so it will be great to watch her present session 6.

Went out to Nullagine Remote Community School last week. All set to do some moblogging on the schools moblog site that I had created some 2 months ago (www.moblog.co.uk/blog/nullaginercs). The class had taken lots of photos to post up onto the blog and guess what. No photos went up. First thing I blamed was the schools (WA Education Department) firewalls or internet controls systems that they had in place. I then went to the Telecentre and tried on their system and still a no go. I was starting to pull my hair out. I then blamed it on the moblog servers being down for repairs or maintenance but other photos were going up. I then asked one of the kids to open an account because I was thinking that perhaps moblog had blocked the photo because the computer terminals were different from the one that had created the account to the one that was trying to send pics. That didn't work. I gave up in the end. When I was back home I sent a pic from my laptop and it was then that I had found the problem. In the email address, where I was suppost to be inserting a"-" character, I was inserting a"_" character. Minor detail but big enough to be causing the grief. The morale of the story is dont rely on the automatic addresss that outlook brings up, because sooner or later you will forget the minor details that make a difference when you need to write the address in manually.

Also a little bit of information on moblog site. They are having a competition called "I'll tell you a story" where you can send in pics (between 2 and 5) that make up a story. For more details and also to see what others have been posting visit http://moblog.co.uk/cblog.php?show=11212 . I would recommend it as you have nothing to lose as entry is free.

12 October 2006

FLAN 2006

FLAN 2006 has come and gone. Again Mardi and Di have done a really top notch job, to pull this together, to make it the best ever. The presentations that I went to included Skills Set, Mixed Mode Delivery, Minimum Entry Requirements, Verbal Judo, Podcasting for Beginners, and Wealth Building. After the three days, I can say that I learnt something new from every session that I went to.
Looking forward to the term break.

04 September 2006

Lighting of the torch (Blow torch)

The opening of the Newman Training Centre happened the other week with much fanfare. The training centre was previously known as the BHP Training Centre, but was given to Pilbara TAFE to manage. Fortunately the Pilbara Development Commission came to the party and chucked in almost a quarter of million dollars to upgrade the machinery and other things to bring it upto to a modern training facility. The four people pictured here include (left to right), the Chairman of the Pilbara Development Commission, Pilbara TAFE managing director, the BHPB Vice President of the Iron Ore Operations in Newman, and an apprentice currently using the facilities.

24 August 2006

Spy glasses: The next big thing?

What you are looking at is a pair of glasses that has a camera located in the nose bridge. The electrical cord, which looks like normal string cord, can then be plugged into the video camera which can fit into your pocket. A 2gb SD card will hold 8 hours of video recording, which is approximately the same time that the battery will last powering this device.

It has been used in Pilbara TAFE this year, by Geoff Lubich, in response to the need to undertake on the job assessments. Traditionally, to video someone in the workplace, would have required the apprentice/student undertaking the assessment task, and a workmate doing the videoing. This was not acceptable to the businesses in the Pilbara. These glasses means that the apprentice/student can do the videoing and the assessment task at the same time. The quality of the video is remarkably good, the sound recording could be better.

The side benefit of the students taking all this video footage in the workplace, is that it can be used to make learning resources for future years.

The task ahead is to come up with assessment tools that can make best use of this technology. Sounds like a learnscope project for 2007.

14 August 2006

The Caustic Tree. Looks great but can give you third degree burns, apparently.

What a big week it has been. Last week was training at Parnngurr community, where the community garden is now up and ready. Due to the extremely late start, due to a number of factors, the garden is being planted to exclusively melons and pumpkins. The school kids have planted three mango trees, two inside the school, and the third at the school principals place.

On Friday, I attend the Horticulture CAG meeting and the WA Primary Industries Training Council general meeting in Perth. Both meetings had a wealth of information on projects that I had no idea were going on, and was very useful in gaining new contacts and networking. It was very disappointing that there were so few Horticulture lecturers from the metro area. Next time I think it should be held in a regional centre.

28 July 2006

The road ahead always has obstacles and pitfalls

Its been a hectic couple of weeks since coming back from holidaying in Newman, the best place to just relax, chill out and listen to the sounds of the bush.

Spent a week in Karratha undertaking an internal auditor course with Steve Trice. Very good course and I had learnt heaps. Unfortunately I misplaced the vehicle keys last thing Friday afternoon and stayed in Karratha for the weekend. Fortunately I found the keys Monday and had a Burger for lunch. Funny that they dont taste anywhere as near as good as when you were a teenager.

Good news on the podcasting project. There is two workshops coming up this term. Tentatives dates are the 22nd August and 13/14 September. Should be good, as I am keen to get some of the audio and video up on the web as podcasts asap.

14 July 2006

Land of nectar

Spring is just around the corner, but at the moment it is pretty cold. This Grivellia flower produces such nice nectar, and looks blooming marvellous as well.

I will be travelling to Karratha next week for internal audit training. I do wonder why I put up my hands sometimes for things like this.

I guess I like getting white line fever.

The following is an extract from The Sustainable Indigenous Communities conference, held in Perth this week

Messages from the Sky: Dishing the DIRT Desert-style

Most Australians get their messages on the internet or the phone but desert Australians will soon be able to receive theirs from the sky.

Remote desert settlements are set to take advantage of a new generation of simple and effective electronic communications using ordinary household TV sets, a national conference in Perth on the sustainability of Aboriginal communities will be told today.

The Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has successfully tested an innovative, low cost way for spreading messages about important local events - from storm warnings and road closures to social and ceremonial gatherings - to communities thousands of kilometres apart.

Messages might be from service agencies, other remote settlements, or created and circulated just within one community.

With satellite technology and digital television, this information can reach communities while other TV programs are also being received.

Dr Andrew Turk and his Desert Interactive Remote Television (DIRT) project team investigate how Aboriginal people in remote settlements can translate the new possibilities of digital television into more sustainable communities.

The project, a collaboration between the Desert Knowledge CRC, Murdoch and Wollongong Universities, has been studying how television is used in Aboriginal communities in the remote east of Western Australia.

We have been looking at the ways in which people discover what's going on in the world around them, he said. Predominantly, it's by talking to one another.

Television is the most important electronic medium, but it's used in the communities in a rather different way, he said. TV sets are turned on for most of the day, and people watch a wide variety of programs.

But people are particularly likely to watch in a group, and to discuss what they are seeing. This makes television especially valuable for spreading messages about visits by medical and other services, health warnings or bush fire alerts, messages that can make the communities themselves more sustainable.

Dr Turk said that the research has been as much about recognising appropriate technology for remote communities, as seeking technological advances.

Sending messages to people on their TV sets is perhaps the most effective way of getting the message directly to those who need to know.

He said existing technology allows the use of spare bandwidth to transmit digital local messages to any television set with a dish antenna.

In fact, a message can be sent to a single television set if this is appropriate.

Where a community has a common antenna for a number of TV sets, messages can be sent to the antenna and re-transmitted, in analogue rather than digital form.

The message can take the form of a text banner across the TV, or be an audio message in the local Aboriginal language.

Messages could also be in the form of targeted advertisements, featuring local people talking about health issues, for instance.

There is a strong demand for locally produced material. People have also told us that they wanted control over how and when the messages are sent.

01 July 2006

Why I love what I do

Just spent the last two weeks at Punmu. After some very hard work in the vegie garden I decided to tag along on a bush trip with the school. I was looking for plants of horticultural potential. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The guys were very keen to show me some of their skills in hunting and they ended up with two goannas for an afternoons work. Their ability to track an animal and know how long ago the tracks were made is astonishing, as there are literally hundreds of tracks crossing all over the place.

I have recently recieved a PDA from the College (HP hx2400). For such a small device, it has loads of potential. Its different from the PMP player with each having its strengths and weaknesses. Will be interesting to see what can be done!