December 2016
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Educational Podcasting Research

I received an email directly to the website ‘catch all’ account on October 7th last. It purported to be  from a teacher in southern Italy who was researching “podcasting in education” and she was particularly interested in the eTwinning project entitled “Once Upon A Blog” which ran 10 years ago. The project involved the teachers and pupils of two schools, one in Dublin and the other in Malta. The participants exchanged myths and legends through a blog site hosted on this website. The content included podcasts, videos, artwork, drawings and competitions. It was a very rewarding experience and both schools benefitted from the collaboration.

Yesterday I received almost the same email again together with a questionnaire but this time around it was through a reputable EU funded organisation’s email service.

One question I was asked was why I didn’t use the TwinSpace on the eTwinning Portal.

The main reason was it was initially unreliable. It suffered regular Cold Fusion errors and threw up pages of code which locked us out of your account. In fact I even had trouble applying for the Quality Label and it had to put through by the staff in Léargas at the time. These bugs or system failures impacted on our ability to keep a diary on the TwinSpace as it often took too long to refresh the edited content and the link would timeout. Of course, it may have been the fact that both schools were island nations and the connectivity may have been at fault. Be that as it may, the facilities offered by the TwinSpace on the eTwinning Portal did not meet our online needs – we were ahead of our time. Both teachers required realtime communications, considerable storage space and flexible editing of content. Unfortunately, despite eTwinning’s best efforts we decided to go with WordPress as I had been using for various projects since its inception.

I will set up a page about “Once Upon A Blog” in the next few weeks and tell the entire story. I might even have contributions from the 2006/7 participants.

Check out my interview conducted by Joe Dale back in 2008 on his blog Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom.

Happy 10th Anniversary to all the teachers and students involved in the project.

Phoenix Park Train Tunnel reopens today

Contrary to media reports this morning, the tunnel under the Phoenix Park was used by passengers prior to today’s launch of the new scheduled service .

The Irish Times online edition mentioned a hiatus of 100 years, others implied it was never used for passengers except by VIPs on their recent trip prior to the tunnel’s official opening this morning. I was under the impression that along with its use by freight trains the tunnel was also utilised to reposition passenger rolling stock between Heuston and Connolly stations. Special Services were run through it on All Ireland days back in the 1990s. The difference today is the establishing of a scheduled service as opposed to an occasional chartered special service.

Surprise! Myself and my brother along with hundreds more travelled through the tunnel on our way to and from Belfast on a chartered CIE train in 1964.

It was the occasion of the Saint James’ CBS primary school annual educational trip. Our classes were marched two abreast from the school in Basin Lane to Kingbridge (Heuston) Station where we boarded the train. The train left the station and turned right and slowly entered the tunnel. The carriage lights did not turn on until we were well into the tunnel so everyone held onto their sweets. It was a “modern” radio train and some carriages had tables fitted. One of the Christian Brothers informed us over the speakers that we were passing beside Croke Park on our way into Amien Street (Connolly) Station. The train stopped out from the actual station and the engine decoupled and proceeded on a parallel track to the opposite end of the train and brought us all to Belfast and back.

Check your records again Iarnród Éireann. The boys from Jamebo did it just over 50 years ago!


Science Hack Day Dublin


Science Hack Day Dublin
is a 36 hour hardware and software hackathon.
It has taken place every year since 2012.
A social event with creativity and love of science at its heart.
Each year we bring together, designers, coders, scientists, engineers and makers.
Simply to make interesting things.
For adventure, for playfulness, for science!

Returning November 19th & 20th 2016
TOG Dublin Hackerspace, Dublin D08 P3K4

Raspberry Pi microSD Woes

I received a comment from Gerry Conway on the previous post relating to his dead Raspberry Pi Model B+. I presumed  in my reply that he had removed it from the case for inspection. If that is not so and it is still encased the power light may be illuminated inside but out of sight. If that is the situation it could be the microSD card that is at fault and not the surface mounted fuse.


SanDisk microSD card with SD adapter

Everything the user saves or downloads goes onto the microSD card therefore it’s remaining capacity may have been too small for the latest update and failed to boot after an incomplete download.

Finally, he made the same mistake I made a year ago and purchased extra capacity 64GB SDXC cards for a media server or weather station project. Unfortunately, the Raspberry Pi , including the latest offering, the Model 3 B+,  is limited to reading up to 32GB cards only. However, the SD Association have produced a formatter just for the job. The SD Card Formatter is available for free download.  The SD Association created this formatter specifically for memory cards using the SD, SDHC and SDXC standards and is available for several platforms.


SDFormatter v4.0 screen

 It is important to click on the Options button and turn ON the Format Size Adjustment to enable the Raspberry Pi to access the extended capacity.

Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi Zero with camera port – not $5

I was disappointed to learn that Radionics Ireland do not stock the Raspberry Pi Zero.

CS First Code Week Dec 5-9

Gumball’s Coding Adventure is the perfect computer science introduction for your students.

For even more learning opportunities, start a CS First club, and select Gumball’s Coding Adventure theme.

If you plan to run CS First clubs in Spring 2017, this is the way to start!

Teacher Sneak Preview: Create an Hour of Code Club for CSEdWeek, Dec. 5-9!