Bright Ideas for Education - Tom March

November 2008

G'Day Faithful Friends,
This month I'd like to share a couple things: one that's useful and one to inspire.

Back in 1996, a few of us took the bait and learned a little Javascript, hearing that this was the next big thing that would make HTML pages interactive and bring the whole Web alive. As it turns out this was partly true, but it's taken over a decade and a little help from things like css (cascading style sheets) and XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Let's leave that distraction aside and focus on a funny thing about this 1996 endeavor.

As it turns out, one of the most popular pages -- of all the thousands I've posted on the Web -- is this 1996 experiment. My former life as an English teacher combined with an EdTech bent to create the ElectraGuide ThesisBuilder, a one-page interactive form that spits out a persuasive thesis statement and related outline if students can think their way through some key elements of what they want to argue.

The ThesisBuilder's popularity made me feel a little sheepish about never updating its appearance from the very rudimentary HTML you see in the image above. So it was time for a facelight and a question: Do you want more of these? I've got a few more interactive forms for writing different essays up my sleeve so email me ( with a little encouragement ;-)

Mankind is no island-
TropfestAlthough it's big news here in Australia, you may not have heard about this compelling little film. Jason van Genderen and colleagues used two mobile phones to snap pictures of over 1000 signs and a few short videos to create Mankind Is No Island – a 3 ½ minute film that recently won both the Critic's and People's prizes at Tropfest New York. Poignant imagery, a universal message and evocative original music expertly synced to the images makes for a touching and effective video. What I find equally profound is that creating this kind of personal expression is within the capability of just about every teenager and even heaps of adults. With this in mind, here are a few extra resources and a friendly challenge: Friendly Challenge:

How about we have a go ourselves and/or invite
students to create their own PhoneFilm?

When I do, I will post it to / If you do, how about sending the link and we can share what's created?

Friendly Pitch

Remember that I consult internationally with educational organizations, software companies, departments of education and even local schools. It seems like there's something for everyone! Contact me on skype at tommarch or on email at

Tom March


Please send me an email about any of the above.
It's always great to hear from you.