Archive for October, 2010

It’s cool to be stupid

30 Oct

This was an observation made by artist Malcolm McLaren at a Learning Without Frontiers event about game based learning.

game based learning

How about these as well

  • David Putnam, film maker : “Young people are disengaging, we need to increase the pace of change to stay relevant and engaging”
  • Tim Rylands, educator : “Quality teachers really listen to the thoughts of their students”
  • Danah Boyds, Nintendo, social media scientist: “Technology is fundamentally rupturing many aspects of everyday life”
  • John Newbigin, consultant:”In a lot of schools, students are beginning to create their own content that is of value to other students as well, it’s exciting. Let’s spread it around”.
  • Siobhan Reddy, Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet:”A 24 hour Game jam held in New York to let students create their own games was amazing”
  • Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari: “Fourty years ago, School was a port hole to the rest of the world. School was cool. Now we need to make it cool once more, as interesting as the hours kids now spend on videos and all the other technology they use  everyday.”

The theme running through the event was that young students are now making heavy use of technology in the form of social media, gaming, communicating – so why don’t the consumer electronics and media companies become more engaged with education?
There should be active dialogue between teachers and the entertainment industry so that the student’s experience of school is as engaging as the hours they spend gaming and chatting online. Mind you trying to explain the database third normal form in an engaging way is a challenge!

See more here

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Posted in Education


How digital learning is changing America

26 Oct

America have embraced a concept of school called a ‘charter school’ or ‘schools of choice’. This is very much like the new Academies in the UK. They are publicly funded schools but are largely free of state laws and district regulations.

USA flag

Now these schools are looking to online learning in order to improve performance even further. Online learning is growing by 30% annually in the USA. There will be a move away from the traditional text book and more effort will go into personalised digital learning profiles for each student. This will be a blend of online and offline learning resources.

After all, a netbook or tablet PC is now cheaper than a set of textbooks. It is time for education both home and abroad to embrace the opportunities afforded by digital online resources and embed them in the fabric of education.

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Posted in Education, Internet


Lack of iPhone programmers

26 Oct

With the explosion of ‘apps’ for the iPhone, Cirencester College has recognised that there is a huge demand for iPhone programmers in this country.


To that end they are putting together BTEC, IT and A level modules to show students how to build apps and games.

This is an example of how education organisations need to keep a constant eye on the IT industry to ensure that young people learn the most relevant skills at the time.

Full story here

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Posted in Education, Mobile phones, New technology, Software


The PDF is dead, long live the PDF

22 Oct

I don’t know about you, but I thought the PDF file format was one of the things that made printing easier. And indeed it does. But of course, when it was a simple set of commands designed for classic postscript printers there was no way it could be used for anything else.

But Adobe, the owners of the PDF format have followed the trends and made the pdf format able to handle multimedia such as Flash and other file formats. This has the effect making the file format much more active in terms possibly affecting the way a computer runs.

This article summarises some of the issues. Don’t get paranoid though – pdf is still a wonderful way of creating printed copy.

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Posted in Social networking, Standards, Uncategorized


Google ponders on the social Internet

19 Oct

The search giant Google is recognising a new trend on the Internet, namely that people tend to ask their online friends for advice rather than look to a search engine. For the first time according to comScore, people spent more time on Facebook than on Google sites.

The problem for Google is that fundamentally what really matters to advertisers is how many people see their ads, wherever people gather, that is where the money is going to be.

Read here for the New York Times article

For example, they turn to their Facebook friends and ask questions such as ‘Can you recommend a good baby sitter” or “I fancy going to a new restaurant – any recommendations?”.

You can see how difficult this kind of question can be for a search engine because it involves a value judgement and local knowledge.

This is an interesting case study of how people change the way they use technology and suddenly the market leader has to change the way they do things – can they do that or is the culture too ingrained to be able to change? Time will tell.

So is this the new trend? Will Facebook become the new search engine for complex questions?

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Posted in Internet, Marketing, Social networking


Almost a decade of the iPod – infographic

18 Oct

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago we had never heard of the iPod and that Apple was just a computer company creating the niche Apple Mac, much loved by artists and media companies.  Now, most of us can’t imagine a life without our iPods, iPhones and iPads.   Apple’s genius, then and now, is the sheer beauty and elegance of their designs.

There is a fantastic infographic which charts the development of the iPod over the past nine years – it is well worth a look

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Posted in Infographic


Will physical and virtual life blur?

12 Oct

I was recently pondering the further blurring of the line between our life in the physical domain and our life online. Is there a distinction any more? Is an online friend whom you have never met any less valid than your best buddy?

Back in the day (around the 1980′s) I was exploring this thing called the Internet with a Hayes smartmodem running at 300 baud. At the time there was CompuServe providing a walled garden online experience and in the wilds you could visit text based bulletin boards. I could even indulge in a bit of text based MUDs for entertainment and some creative of ASCII art to fulfil the artist in me.

So at that time there was a clear on-line / off line life. Then two decades or so later there was ‘cyber’ this and ‘e-’ that cropping up in the media, which is now starting to sound quaint, like your old uncle calling the DAB radio in the kitchen a ‘wireless’.

Wind forward to today and it is a completely different ball game. Milllions are happily playing on-line, perhaps connected to a World of Warcraft server and a real-time audio server such as Ventrillo so a group of you can chat away for a bit of escapism and goblin bashing.

Even politicians are recognising that the internet is becoming as vital as water as a basic resource. And they have a point. I was recently unable to go online at home due to a wonky telephone connection and it was not a pleasant experience. No banking, no gaming, no social networking, no blogging, no research. I even had to dig out my old CDs from the attic as the music service streaming into my living room no longer worked.

Hollywood are also recognising the concept with its recent Bruce Willis film Surrogates where they reverse the concept of avatar and physical presence.

Let’s move on a few years when I think the lines will blur even more. Consider augmented reality. Devices will be available that overlay on-line data with what you see.

In a recent BBC interview with the SF author William Gibson opined that our grandchildren will see no distinction between on-line and off-line. He has a point.


Will E-books become the norm?

10 Oct

We at Teach-ICT are inveterate gadget geeks – if there is a gadget out there, then eventually we will convince ourselves that we need it.

Take e-books. It started out with getting the Kindle app for the iPad. After playing around with it for a few weeks and downloading some of the free content it seemed to be an ‘ok’ application. For example, after an hour or so, the glare from the back-lit iPad became a strain on the eyes, just like trying to read from a regular screen. The weight of holding up the iPad also becomes tiresome after a while unless you scrunch up your legs to try and support it.

Next we booked a Kindle device from the Amazon store although it was on back-order due to the demand. But eventually it arrived. What a difference, the reflective e-ink technology means no more eye strain as there is only ambient light to illuminate the high contrast screen. It’s dead light so no problem there. It did feel a bit fragile though, so we bought a nice leather wallet to hold it in. Now it feels like a slim leather bound book.

A visit to the copyright-free book section to see what classics could be downloaded revealed old favourites such as Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland (just watched the DVD) and The adventures of Sherlock Holmes (just watched the Robert Downey Jr / Jude Law movie).  Now this is interesting. Having watched the movies, there was an urge to read the books once more – is this a trend? Will reading increase now that there is an almost instant link between watching a film adaption and downloading the book? We think so.

After the freebie search, we did buy half a dozen or more books, and this too is interesting. You can create up to a five-member group / family. So if one member purchases a book then the others can download it as well. Again, this does encourage you to read as it has already been paid for. Another advantage is being able to read your books whilst out and about or on holiday, no more expensive luggage excess.

DRM and proprietary company lock-in may be an issue, but we definitely think that e-books are here to stay.

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Posted in Entertainment


A Fair(y) Use Tale – otherwise known as copyright.

09 Oct

All students need to learn about what copyright is, why it is important and how they should abide by the legislation. 

This can be a pretty dry subject to try to teach in the classroom so this fantastic film on YouTube could be used to help introduce the subject in a way that will engage most students – especially the younger ones.  It takes many individual clips from Disney films and pieces them together to explain the subject of copyright. 

You will need access to YouTube in the classroom or a method of showing the film offline.

If I am being very purist then I suppose I should ask the question about why a film all about copyright makes use of so many copyrighted Disney clips in order to tell the story.

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Posted in Copyright


Control a real 4×4 over the internet

08 Oct

This is quite a gimmick – Mitsubushi are rigging up an Outlander Sport with remote control kit then letting people loose on it over the Internet.

So from October 15th you will be able to log in to their microsite and take part in the first remote control 4×4 experience.

This shows the lengths companies are now willing to go to attract the Internet generation and also just how advanced our communication technologies have become.

Book soon though as this is no doubt going to be fairly short campaign.

This story is an excellent example of how companies make use of simulations.  Students could consider the benefits and disadvantages of getting people to ‘test drive’ using this method.  It would also fit in well with discussions about marketing and how companies are increasingly trying to use innovative technology to hook us into buying their products.

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Posted in Marketing, Models & simulations