Author Archives: Bryan Wires

Online Radio

I’m currently following up with a recommendation from a teacher on to use the free, open-source Airtime software and SHOUTcast to put together a school radio station.

Video from the Airtime website:

Airtime. Open software for radio stations. from Sourcefabric on Vimeo.

I haven’t gotten far into the exploration yet, but an early browse through the websites for both tools really makes the concept seem attractive.  I’m not sure that either really gives much in terms of creating content – both seem intent on managing the content you already have.

At any rate, audacity could form the backbone of the content creation, with the other tools handling the distribution of that content.

In related news, I’ve started updating my wiki page for audacity.

Look forward to future updates as I get the idea off the ground.

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Resources


Ransom Note Generator

I was looking for an easier way to simulate a news-clipping style of note for a pre-reading exercise for Hamlet today and came across the Ransom Note Generator.  It takes any line of text you give it and converts it into the style of ransom note made from magazine and newspaper clippings.  Unlike fonts that try to do the same, the generator will use different images for the same letters, should they repeat, meaning that no two letters come out looking quite the same.

The only downside to the site is that it doesn’t give an option to download the entire note, but you can take a quick screen capture or share the link to distribute your note.



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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Resources


Apple’s App makes it possible for teachers to publish their own e-texts

Apple has made a foray into the realm of e-texts, setting traditional textbook publishers squarely in their sights. In addition to including a number of advanced digital digital resources for students and educations, they have just released an ebook publishing app that will allow teachers to publish their class materials as books on ibooks.  In fact, any author can self-publish there and sell their books.

Check out this article on the subject.

There have been some criticisms already however, a key one being the proprietary nature of the app and the books it will produce.  In order to use the iBooks Author app, you:

  1. Must have an Mac (it isn’t available for any other platform)
  2. Must be willing to sign over exclusive distribution rights to the iBooks store (your book will never be available on other devices or ebook sellers).
  3. Your readers must be using an Apple device to read it (the final books will not be accessible to users on the Andriod, Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and other platforms).

It can be a high price to pay, but make it very clear that Apple is not doing all of this for free – if they can convince schools to get on board with the program and begin making their own resources using iBooks Author, then they will effectively gain a monopoly on sales of eReaders to schools – a stated agenda of many boards, including the TDSB, is to reduce dependence on physical textbooks in favour of etexts and digital readers – and gain a strangle-hold on a lucrative market.

The proprietary nature iBooks Author, and the intense restrictions, have led me to investigate other ebook creation tools.  I stumbled across a number, but am most interested in Sigil, an open source, multi-platform tool.  I’ll update you on what I discover about the program after I’ve had some time to play with it.

To see the iBooks Author app in action, check out this Gizmodo article.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Inspiration


Zombies Run – Augmented Reality Game

A game that is just about to come out in the new year combines the ideas of Gamification, as expressed by Gabe Zichermann in his TED Talk, with augmented reality.  While Zombies Run may not be a good educational tool itself, it does demonstrate tremendously well the motivation and engagement factor that game-like environments can bring.  Games are looking to become integrated with our lives in ways we never expected even just a few years ago, and there are ways to cash in on the benefits of game-like environments in education.  Games add a motivation and engagement factor that teachers dream of having in their classes, but not every concept can be taught through a game.  That’s where exploring the principles of games come in.

Zombies Run is not a video game, at least not in a traditional sense.  You aren’t on a couch, with a controller, trying to “level up” a digital character.  It uses the concepts that make games compelling to turn the user into the character – allowing the individual to level themselves up through self-improvement rather than expend that energy on an digital avatar.

Take a look at what is planned for the 2012 release of the game:

If you’re thinking, “yeah, so?  How will this help my class?”, you need to expand you vision to the bigger picture.  You may not be trying get kids to run more (though obesity statistics suggest this might not be a bad idea either), but if you consider how we could translate the successful ideas of this game into more educational contexts the potential is endless.

Consider the possibilities:

  • A grade 9 orientation app that detects where a student is in the building and helps them to locate supports and resources in the building.
  • A living museum app that teaches kids about the heritage of their community by using GPS to alert them to the history of locations in their community.
  • An eco game that encourages students to recycle by giving them points each time they use a receptacle.
  • A social media game that encourages students to help each other with homework for digital rewards.

With so many possibilities, it seems almost criminal not to explore at least a few.  Some ideas for the programming club anyone?  🙂

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Game-based Learning, Inspiration


Literacy & Your Future
(sorry the embed code isn’t working and circumventing using gigya is breaking my template, so we’re going to have to do with a dull link.)

I put together a quiz prezi on the importance of reading based on The Value of Words: Literacy and Economic Security in Canada (1998).  One of the charts is taken from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, because I couldn’t find the comparable Canadian data.

It should drive home the importance of establishing good reading habits at an early age, and hopefully encourage grade 9 and 10 students to step up their efforts to ensure good education and careers in the future.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Inspiration



My wife sent me a video yesterday of a TED Talk by Gabe Zichermann, of the Gamification Blog, talking about how educational games may be the best way to teach the stimulation-craved generation “G”.  Zichermann gets rather excited about the possibilities here and may stretch his argument a little at points, but the overall message that the “kids are alright”, and are capable of learning with the right techniques, definitely inspire.

Check out the talk, get inspired, and maybe try out an educational game in one of your classes:

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Game-based Learning, Inspiration


Selene Edu Game

I was doing some research into game-based learning and came across a NASA-sponsored project that allows students to learn about the moon through an online game called Selene.

The game can be located here:

I haven’t tried it out yet because they have a bit of a bureaucratic method of getting people online – you need to apply to be a “recruiter”, download parental permission forms, provide phone contact information, etc.  before being given an access code to use to get students online.

Part of the reason for all this is that the game is also a research project, and data will be collected from the student’s progress in the game.

Have a look at this video from NASA Education to hear a better explanation of the game than the website gives:

I aim to try it out with my class next year, but if anyone’s used it and has feedback to offer, I’m always interested.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Game-based Learning, Resources