Info Pics – great to get a message across

Over the holidays a while back I was inspired by people posting #infopics on Twitter. They’re simply images that share information – a great way to get simple messages across.

One of the most well known creators of these is @tonvincent who creates some stunning infopics. They’re well worth checking out on his site.

These are some infopics I made using a couple of apps and photos I’d taken. I started with PicsArt to create the filter and border I wanted and then added the stickers with Kiwi Camera.

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Let them loose – they’ll surprise you.

We help schools develop their STEM learning development with their students and teachers and one of my favourite activities is the ‘Artbot’ design challenge. It’s super low tech with simple circuitry and coloured felts and uses mostly vibration as a mechanism to drive the cup across paper to create some ‘art.’

artbot-operationMost of the time students will create something that resembles this image, especially if you frame this as a research exercise where they can research what an Artbot is.

But, given the time and space to ideate, design and redesign, students will often come up with stunning designs, completely out of the box. These students yesterday created a hand held rotating mechanism. Brilliant. I’d never seen that before.

See what happens when we allow them that time and freedom to imagine, to create, to explore. That’s what people were made to do. We were created to create.

Image above –

A ‘City Comparison’ App Smash

Yesterday I was working  with a class in Wanaka around the theme of ‘Thinking Global, Acting Local.’ We had a great day learning about Sphero SPRK+s, Makey Makey and Scratch and also seeing how to integrate the G Suite tools into a learning progression.

Our first activity was to ‘think global’ and explore the common features of some famous cities around the world, including their own town. We did what lots of people would call, ‘an app smash!’ This is really just combining apps together in some way. Our app smash was to integrate Google Slides with Google Maps and the Street View feature.

Here’s a link to your own copy – it’s very simple but had the students engaged for a long time – they didn’t want to finish. Just open your own copy, follow the instructions and complete the thinking section at the end.

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Hidden feature on Google Maps

Did you know you can explore other people’s 360 photos on the standard Google Maps site and apps? Last night we went for a run (in the dark… not intentionally) along the Wanaka Lake walk way and ran past this stunning set of trees. This image was taken with my iPhone 7 Plus which has brilliant low light capability for a phone camera.

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If you want to take a closer look at what the lake front is like by using the street view mode in Maps – just drag the little yellow man, in the bottom right corner, and the roads will appear blue since the Google Street Car has taken images down those streets. But what about other locations?

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Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 6.25.57 AMAfter activating the little man you will see little blue dots appear where people have uploaded their own 360 photos. I’ve found the Street View app to be the easiest way to create these. Have a go on any Google Maps location!



Innovation’s not just a buzz word

No one likes to jump on a band wagon but the funny thing about cliches is that they become what they are because there’s some truth in there. ‘Innovation’ is like that. It’s overly used because we need it. Desperately.


We need innovative teachers and schools so that we prepare students for today, let alone for tomorrow. What we did yesterday just won’t cut it anymore, for these reasons;

  • the amount of fake news that needs filtering
  • the disruption to our familiar because of technology
  • the disconnect between family and community

If we keep following the techniques and practices that have worked in the past, just because it ‘used to work’ then we’ll miss what will work for now and tomorrow. It takes bravery and it’s not about short cuts.



What makes someone ‘techy?’

I hear people described as ‘tech savy’ all the time. That might be you – the person everyone comes to to fix something, get something installed and setup or run some kind of workshop on how to use it.

Usually, the ‘tech savy’ person doesn’t have any inbuilt talent for using technology. You want to know their secret? Here it is. It’s not rocket science.

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W.I.J.L #1: Gratitude releases dopamine!

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.00.05 AMThis is a new series I’m going to try out – ‘What I’ve just learned.’ We’re always learning crazy stuff! Sometimes it’s things that;

  • change our lives
  • are just amusing
  • when shared with others make us sound super intelligent
  • are actually myths but we don’t realise
  • can help shape the way we see other things
  • change our perspective from one way of thinking to another

Here’s my first WIJL.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.05.36 AMDid you know that a sense of gratitude encourages the brain to release dopamine, that chemical of ‘feel good’ that makes us want to do something again? Something to feel grateful for – like what I did there?

Have a look at this article, and maybe look for the things in our lives that are going great!


Quick question with long lasting consequences

Everyone’s talking about personalised learning. It’s one of the real reasons I love being a digital consultant for teachers and schools: it’s the technology we have now that enables this to happen on a manageable scale. And students are the winners!

One aspect of personalised learning that I think get’s overlooked (we’re often catering for style, timing, pace, age etc) is tailoring our programmes towards passions, interests and strengths. Here’s a question…

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Did you know it’s a myth that Einstein was a failure at school? He was actually a great student, from many accounts, with obvious strengths in Mathematics and the Sciences.

At the age of 12 he was studying Calculus, which at that time wasn’t normal until students were 15. He showed obvious strengths in this area. It would seem that, in 1881, his school system was flexible enough to cater for his strengths.



iPhone Panoramas


If you’ve got an iPhone, chances are you’ve taken a panorama. I know Android phone have that feature on their cameras but in my experience, and I’ve owned both kinds of phones, nothing beats the iPhone for simplicity when it comes to camera features.

The Apple Youtube Channel now has some brilliant short videos that teach you how to get more out of the iPhone’s camera – from close up shots, to using the flash and of course, how to take great panoramas. In this clip below, the clip demonstrates how to use the pano in a vertical fashion to take images. Why didn’t I think of that!

Here are some recent panoramas from some of my trips this year. The trick is to move slow, keep the arrow on the line and hold your phone steady.


Rugby match, Rugby Park – Invercargill, 2017


San Francisco street, CA, 2017


Sphero workshop, TTP, Melbourne, 2017



Too worried to poke the bear

I came across this quote yesterday on Twitter, by @wes_kieschnick. You’d have to agree, it’s not the kind of quote I would splash on the screen of a presentation with some teachers since it’s pretty confronting.

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But it’s real, right? I saw a classroom recently that had a pile of student work sitting on the teacher’s desk. It was a pile of A4 photocopied templates where the students had ‘published’ their writing in pencil and cut out and glued a photo from the internet in the bottom corner. I write ‘published’ since you could tell that they had rubbed out their errors (that’s why it’s in pencil) to get it perfect.

dontPoke-the-bearIs that preparation for the future? Is it even the world we live in now? I’m not aware of many, outside of some classrooms, who are sharing their ideas with other on paper with pencils. There are just so many better ways out there to get a message out to people.

What kind of school are you in? How can you be a ‘bear poker?’ A change maker. I think our kids deserve it.