Archive for January, 2011

The state of the internet

31 Jan

Infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge.  These graphics are used where complex information needs to be eplained quickly and clearly*

Here is a link to a fascinating infographic full of facts and figures about the internet in 2010.  For example did you know:

- There were 21.4 million new websites published in 2010

- An estimated 89% of all emails in 2010 were spam

- That Internet Explorer now only has 47% of the market share for browsers

- That 20 million Facebook apps are installed every day

- That 2 billion videos were watched on YouTube every day

- That every minute 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube

As it stands it could be printed out to make a great poster for display in the classroom.  Alternatively you could take just a few of the facts from it and make a set of individual posters.


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Posted in Classroom displays


YouTube and ViewPure

30 Jan

If you have access to YouTube in school then it can be an invaluable source during lessons for demonstrating skills or providing further information about a particular topic.

Whilst many of the videos are excellent what has often put me of using them in the classroom is the large number of inappropriate comments left by other users.  No matter how careful you are when projecting the video clip onto your whiteboard the comments often get seen by other students before you can put the video to full screen mode.

ViewPure is a site that will help overcome such problems.  You can either paste in the YouTube url that you wish to view and view the videos without any comments, suggestions or advertisments.  If you find it to be a useful tool you can add the ViewPure button onto your bookmarks toolbar and when you see a video you want to play all you need to do is click the button whilst on the YouTube page.

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Posted in Useful websites, Video editing, Web 2.0 tools


Cut My Pic

28 Jan

Many teachers run graphics units as part of KS3 and KS4 to teach students the skills required to use different graphics applications.  However, no matter how confident my students were with using said package, whenever they wanted to resize a picture for a piece of work either they seemed to have forgotten that the application existed or they just couldn’t be bothered to use it (their words, not mine). 

I came across an excellent web tool today that I think students would ‘be bothered’ to use.  In literally a few seconds they can upload an image, resize it, change the outline and even add drop shadows.  They then save the edited image and insert it into their work – it really couldn’t be any more simple. 

Find the website here

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Posted in Graphics, Web 2.0 tools


Programming Language Posters

26 Jan

Trying to find good quality, eye-catching and educational posters to display in the classroom can often be difficult.  There are a limited number of commercial posters available for purchase, some better quality than others, but many of them are too simplistic or just don’t engage the interest of students.

If you currently teach computing at GCSE or A Level or you are thinking about offering it in the near future there are a set of 8 free programming language posters that are available for you to print off and laminate for your classroom.

The posters contain the algorithm for a game called ‘Fizz Buzz’ with the syntax on each poster being written in a different programming language.

Download the posters from here

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Posted in Classroom displays


Why should I choose ICT?

25 Jan

If you had a pound for every time you were asked this question by a student or a parent you could probably retire from teaching (now there is a thought!)  How many times have you wished that you had a set of snappy, ready made answers to such a question?

How about when you have to put together a presentation for Year 9 Options Evening or Sixth Form Open Evening?  I know I have scratched my head in the past trying to come up with a set of persuasive statements that will imbue my passion for ICT to my students.

Thanks to a collaborative effort from a number of excellent teachers using Twitter we have been able to collate their answers and put together a set of statements that should help you when next faced with the question, ‘Why should I take ICT?’

View the statements here

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Posted in Education


Our home as a multiplex cinema?

24 Jan

News came along this week that Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, are buying up Lovefilm – the most successful  popular video-through-the-post service in the UK. Lovefilm have around 1.6 million customers in Europe.


Story here and Guardian story here

The way it works is that you go to their web site and make up a list of the films you would like to see. say 30 or so. They will send you a DVD film from the list through the post and as soon as you return that one, the next one is sent.  There are various rental deals depending on how keen a movie watcher you are.

Now with Amazon on board, they hope to break into the video streaming market. There is a catch though, as Sky has contracts to not only broadcast films from the main movie studios, they also own the UK on-demand rights as well. This makes it very difficult for new entrants into the market.

The Competition Commission has now got involved with the whole video on-demand issue to see if the market needs more competition. The decision is still out.

Meanwhile in America video-on-demand is huge, growing at 31% per year.  As a taster of what kind of devices you need to take advantage of this new form of entertainment, have a look at Wired magazine’s review of HDTV media streamers now available in the States.

I think in about 5 to 10 years time, the way we all consume films and entertainment will look very different.


Future kitchen top – new HCI design

19 Jan

We have all been there – you open a fridge and there is only a packet of cheese and some eggs in there, so what can you make for dinner?

Intel have come up with a new kind of human computer interface for use in kitchens or any other flat surface. You place the items on the kitchen top and the system will work out what they are and suggest some recipes for you.

It works with three devices – a 3D digital camera, combined with a small projector and a computer. The computer will recognise more and more items as you teach it over time. The projector will display information about each item. For example you could place a banana on the top and it shows you the calories. It could then be added to that diet you are following.

At the moment the devices are fairly chunky but if it catches on, then the system could be made as slim as a mobile phone and located underneath the cupboards, for example.

An excellent example of development in HCI design to discuss in class

video below



‘Disruptive’ technologies for 2011

18 Jan

A ‘disruptive’ technology is one where it suddenly changes the way people do things. For example, for hundreds of years people used a slide rule to calculate, then seemingly overnight in the 1970′s the electronic calculator appeared. Everyone went Wow! and just threw away their old slide rules.


A whole industry had to change their ways or disappear. Same thing happened with electronic watches.

The leading technology research firm IDC are prediciting 3 disruptive technologies for 2011.

Going mainstream will be:

  • Web connected TV
  • Mobile devices
  • The ‘cloud’

Mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)

It is predicted that 2011 will be the year when there will be more mobile devices sold than PCs for connecting to the Internet.It will be the end of the PC centred computing experience.And driving this change is the rise of the ‘Apps’. For the first time there will be over a million apps out there compared to only 10′s of thousands of PC applications.

There are over 2 billion people connecting to the Internet now and more than half of them do so through mobile devices.

Web connected televisions.

It is predicted that over half of TVs over 40 inches will have a network connection. And at the other end, many companies are springing up to provide content – the programs – Google TV, Apple TV, Roku and so on.
So entertainment and leisure will shift from terrestial to internet based delivery. A whole industry will begin to change the way it does things and new companies will emerge that threaten the old status quo.

The cloud

This is where companies off-load their expensive IT infrastructure and instead choose to let a cloud company host their applications and data. Over 80% of new software will be cloud based and by 2014 over a third of all software spending will be done for delivery through the cloud.
All the major IT companies are preparing the ground – IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, VMWare, Google. Think of how this will change the IT departments in large companies – no more data centres or hundreds of IT support staff needed to look after things. So the cloud is a technology that changes the way we do things.

Disruptive technologies


Microwave racing

16 Jan

Learning about how to develop a well designed human computer interface (HCI) is important and it appears in all A level and some GCSE syllubuses.   However, students often find that the theory can at times be a little dry.

There is a short clip on YouTube that could be used to liven up the start of this topic and promote a discussion about the importance of HCI, especially in critical areas such as design of medical equipment and other key systems.

The video clip, Microwave Racing is by no means scientifically rigorous and yes you can pick many holes in the way the experiment was set up. But the key message behind it is easy for all students to grasp, i.e. that poor interface design can lead to all kinds of different problems.

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Posted in Human Computer Interface (HCI)