Thursday 19 June 2008

Creating Spore creatures

Well the Spore 'Creature Creator' is now available, and surprise, there is a free edition too (196Mb with only 25% of the creative possibilities), so I downloaded it and decided to give it a try.

The second nice surprise was that there was a free version for MAC too. I have to say it looks pretty good. I browsed through a few creatures and tried altering them and then decided to create my own. Once my creature was created I was able to get it to try various things, like dancing, calling to friends etc. I was also able to take a couple of pictures and create a video of it with its young!!!

Well I know it doesn't look very attractive, but it was fun and I can't wait to see what my daughter makes of this. I'm really looking forward to the release of the complete game in September 08. I'm sure this has huge educational potential. Time to start thinking about some activties for the 'Creature Creator', though I'm not sure how many educational institutions are going to be downloading 196Mb!

Anyway, if you feel like giving it a try, go along to and then click on 'get Spore' and it should take you to the page where you can download the free 'Creature Creator'.



Nik Peachey

Wednesday 18 June 2008

The StockNews Game

This is a great game for business students if the level of their English is quite good. The game works in three steps.
  • User reads a business news report on a company
  • User predicts whether the companies stock will go up or down as a result of the news
  • User wins or looses points as a result of their prediction

The reading part is timed so it'll force your students to do some skimming and scanning and make decisions based on that information. The level is quite high though, but for developing business vocab and as a spring board to some discussion this is a definite winner.

Play the stock news game - StockNewsGame - rate real financial news and learn how to beat the market

You can keep playing for as long as you like and try to win back any losses or build up your fortune. If you register, your efforts are recorded and you can try to make it onto the top scorers board.

I'm sure this is a great source of news articles for use in class too and there must be some millage in trying to understand the graphs.

I actually got quite hooked on the game for a while, until I realised I was never going to be rich!
You can play the StockNewsGame here:

Hope you enjoy it.

Nik Peachey

Sunday 15 June 2008

Would you recommend this?

I wasn't sure whether to post this or not, but it does raise some really interesting questions about a number of issues. The site that I'm referring to is Hot for Words! It is presented by Marina and this is how she describes herself;

"My name is Marina and I am a philologist (one who studies linguistics and etymology). I love to discuss the origins of words."

The interesting motto for the site is 'Intelligence is sexy'. Before you jump to too many conclusions have a look at an example episode of Marina describing the origin of the word 'nuclear'.

Marina is quite obviously using her sex appeal to attract users, but despite that she does seem to be delivering the goods and quite obviously has a huge following with more that 77 thousand subscribers to the Hot for Words YouTube Channel and more that 27 Million views of her videos. That certainly is a lot more than my own YouTube channel!!

I found it really interesting to compare Marina's efforts with those of the BBC and their British Council Innovations award winning 'The Teacher'.

Here's an episode with The Teacher introducing idioms connected with the word 'pie'. I have to say that to watch this on my MAC I had to download 44Mb of Mp4 first!
Click here if you want to do the same comparison

Well I'm not really sure which you prefer but I would be really interested to hear your comments.
  • Which would you recommend to your students????
  • Trainee teachers???
  • Will Marina and Hot for Words be winning next years Innovations award?
There's an interesting clip here telling a bit more about Marina and the origins of the show.

Love to hear what you think so please do post a comment.


Nik Peachey

Thursday 12 June 2008

Spore Creature Creator

I've just been having a look at the Creature Creator from Spore, the much anticipated game from EA. The Creature Creator should be available for download from Tuesday 17th June from the Spore site, though the game itself won't be released until September I believe.

There's a great article on Webware which describes all the amazing Web2.0 type features that gamers will have access to. These include the ability to create video and images and upload them directly to YouTube (great for machinima projects), as well as the ability to share creations for other gamers to work on and also each creature gamers create will become part of a Wikipedia style collection of information on all the Spore creatures created.

I think for educators, this must be one of the most exciting and potentially useful games ever created, as gamers will have the opportunity to design creatures from the microbial stage and nurture them and control their environment as they develop.

Anyway, I'll be queuing up next week to download (300mb) of Creature Creator and start designing my own creatures. Sadly the Creature Creator part isn't free, but at just under 5 GBP it's certainly not expensive.

Hope to be posting some of my own creations soon.


Nik Peachey

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Building in Second Life

Over the last few weeks I've been creating quite a long series of video tutorials for teachers wishing to use Second Life. These have been created on Edunation Island for the The Consultants-E and are to be used as part of one of their short courses that they run in Second Life.

I'm also in the process of adding these to my YouTube channel which you can find at:

This week I've started by adding a series of four tutorials on the basics of building and also one on setting up voice for SL. I'll be adding a few more each week.

You can see the first one on setting up voice here.

You can see the playlist of Second Life tutorials here

I've also added all of my WetPaint Wiki tutorials, so hopefully this will make them more accessible and also provide an embed code for anyone who wants to use them elsewhere.

The WetPaint wiki playlist is here.

Hope you find these useful


Nik Peachey

Friday 6 June 2008

Twitter vs Plurk

I checked out Twitter some time ago and couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. Embarrassingly, after signing up for an account people started following my Twitter even though I wasn't posting! I've also been hearing so many people raving about Twitter that I thought maybe I should give it another chance.

At the same time I've started getting interested in which on first impression I actually prefer, as It seems to have more scope for delivering rich media (embedding video etc into postings) and also because I like the visual time line aspect of the design.
Anyway, I've decided to experiment by using both for the next few weeks and see what happens.

If you'd like to sign up and join the experiment, by all means sign on using the links below.

And / Or
  • Follow me on Twitter by going to and search for Nik Peachey
  • Do something far more productive with your time!
If you do follow one or both of these I'd love your feedback here in the comments section.

Hope this doesn't turn into the most boring experiment ever.


Nik Peachey

Thursday 5 June 2008

What can you do with a $100 laptop?

Well quite a lot it seems. If you're interested in those little green and white $100 laptops that have been making the news for so long, but still haven't got your hands on one and are wondering if it's worth the while, well this is the site for you.The Sugar Labs wiki tells you all about the Sugar operating system (as used on the $100 laptop), the kinds of software that have been developed to run on it and the kinds of activities students can do on it.

There's some really nice stuff here and it does seem pretty impressive. Now if only I knew how I could actually buy one!!! Drop me a line if you know.


Nik Peachey

Wednesday 4 June 2008

Open source video animation

Big Buck Bunny, may sound like a rather dodgy name for an online video, but it is in fact the latest product from a company called The Blender foundation.

What's special about Big Buck Bunny is that it is a Pixar quality 3D animated movie made completely with free software and all the files and assets from the movie have been made under creative commons license so that others can contribute and develop more movies using those assets.

Anyway have a look at the product. This version is from Youtube, but you can access their site and download high quality and find out more about the project here.

This is a really wonderful project and a great movie. Time to start looking at how it can be used for language development.

Hope you enjoy it.


Nik Peachey

Tuesday 3 June 2008

Who needs an interactive whiteboard?

By the looks of this, the need for interactive white boards will soon be a thing of the past. You should soon be able to control your computer using a webcam, a piece of free software, and well just about anything!!

Looks pretty amazing. If it can work on these complex games, I don't see why it shouldn't work on ordinary software and a data projector. Could save on buying those expensive IWBs. I've signed up for beta testing, so I'll let you know how it goes.

The company that produces this is called CamSpace and the product itself is called CamTrax.


Nik Peachey