Archive for April, 2009

Video Comparison: €3000 IWB v €50 IWB

I stumbled across this handy, home-made video comparison of the €3000+ Smart Interactive White Board and the €50 or so Wiimote Whiteboard the other day. As it’s done from the perspective of teachers I think it’s findings, both positive and negative, about the Wiimote board are really interesting.



€50 Interactive White Board – Back In Action?

Last summer I wrote a post about a n IWB that costs just €50 that the technology guru / geek Johnny Lee had invented using an infra-red pen and a Wii remote. I was really excited about it thinking that maybe this could help many more schools get IWB technology into the class.

I made myself the €50 IWB, I tried it out a few times last summer and I must admit the results were not all that encouraging. I didn’t think much more of it until recently when I “met” a guy called Chris Hill (thanks to my friend Enza via Twitter). Chris is a big evangelist of the Wii remote IWB. This started getting me interested again in the project. I’ve been looking again at my Wii console think “Should I drag you back to the classroom? The answer now, I think is, yes, I will.

My desire to try out the Wiimote IWB again is because Chris has written a handy and comprehensive FAQ on the Wii IWB drawing on his experiences and sharing solutions to the niggly little problems teachers might find when trying to set up their own Wii IWB. Here’s a quick snippet of his post:

How much does it cost? / Is it really only $50?
The controller for the Nintendo Wii is for sale throughout the United States for $40. [It costs about €50 in Europe – Seth] You can build an infrared pen for $5-6.  The software is free to download.  The cost of the computer, projector, and Bluetooth adapter (if your computer does not have built-in Bluetooth) are not included in the $50.

I can’t make my own infrared pen.  Can I buy one?
Absolutely.  Do a Google search and you will find several options starting as low as $6.

Do I have to modify the Wiimote? / Can I still use it with my Wii?
No / Yes.  The Wiimote connects to the computer via Bluetooth, the same way it connects to the Wii.  You don’t have to open the Wiimote, break it, or reprogram it.  So, if you (or your kids) have a Wii, you can use the equipment you already have for both purposes.

How do I get started?
Download the free software (Mac version or PC version), build an infrared pen (see my demo) or buy one online, connect to the Wiimote via Bluetooth (open your Bluetooth devices, push the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wiimote, add the device) , run the software, calibrate it (push the “calibrate button,” click on the targets), and you are done.

And Chris has loads of other great advice in his post as well as elsewhere in his blog. Definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in trying out the Wiimote white board!

All the best,


Wiimote Image:

Improve your PowerPoints in 45 minutes

I saw a fantastic video by Alvin Trusty recently where he talks about how to create high-quality PowerPoint presentations. There are many great ideas in his video, among the ones that I really liked were the use of Flickr Creative Commons photos, the excellent Flickr photo search tool Compfight (which also finds creative Commons photos for you) and Alvin’s move and grow Powerpoint animation (watch the video to find out how this works!) I used the advice in this video to write the Philosophically Speaking PowerPoint lesson I recently posted here. It’s good advice!

Although this video is 45 minutes long, I think you’ll agree that it’s 45 minutes that are VERY well spent! Enjoy!

How to Create a Great PowerPoint – Take 2.0 from Alvin Trusty on Vimeo.

WARNING! This video will seriously damage your contentedness with previous PowerPoints you’ve made! I am now re-doing several of my favourite PowerPoint lessons!



Speaking Philosophically – CLIL Lesson

students-at-work2This year I’m working as a CLIL/ICT teacher at Martino Martini, a high school in Mezzolombardo, Italy. It’s a really interesting project where I co-teach different subjects together with the “regular” class teacher. The difference with this CLIL project is however that I don’t just help teach the subject in English, but I have to use technology to teach the subject too.  This means that so far this year I have taught subjects as diverse as History, Biology  and Social Sciences using all sorts of different Web 2.0 technology such as wikis, web-based video, online surveys and so on. I tell you what, it’s been great fun! Take a look at our wiki if you’d like to see some of my students’ great work.

For one of my philosophy classes recently I decided to do a speaking activity based on one of the arguments from the BBC World Philosophy Day article from last year. As philosophy is often taught as a fairly dry subject here in Italy, I decided to “spruce it up a bit” by using some of the great creative commons photographs from Flickr to illustrate the arguments. I put them together as a Powerpoint presentation and I hope you’ll agree that the results are pretty good!

Although the PowerPoint presentation deals with philosophical ideas that Kant had, I’m sure that many speaking classes would really enjoy the subject. The references to Kant are infact only in the last slide. I used this lesson with a class of 17-18 yr olds. It does deal with some pretty “full on” issues, so have a good look through the slides before taking it into your class.


Click on the image to download the PowerPoint file. It’s 14 MB so it might take a minute or two!

Talking Philosophy PowerPoint


Thanks to some great ideas from The Webheads, I’m now also going to do this lesson as a VoiceThread. So, if you (or more likely your English class) fancy joining in the debate, click on the comments button in this VoiceThread version below:


April 1st? But you’re no fool!

Okay, okay, I know this has nothing whatsoever to do with education, but I just had to share this amazing video, especially seeing as it’s April Fool’s day and I doubt anyone will believe it’s real. I’m almost sure it is though.

If I were to tell you it’s filmed in Wales, it’s quite possibly one of the maddest things I’ve seen done with sheep and you’ll wonder how on earth they managed to do it.. well.. I’m sure you’ll never guess what they’ve done in this film. It’s quite incredible!

All the very best,

Seth 🙂

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