Monday, 15 December 2008

SQA Web Site Revamp

Access All Areas album coverImage via Wikipedia
The SQA have engaged in a long overdue revamp of their web site. This includes grouping all related areas together in one page for easy access to much of the information that's available for that subject.

Let's just say it's better than it was before.

SQA - Computing, IT & Related Areas
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Open Source Image Programming

A short gif animationImage via Wikipedia
Processing is
an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for
learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool.
For anyone looking to teach programming images it looks a good bet.

Processing 1.0
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, 5 December 2008


I'll Share My World with You album coverImage via WikipediaNow, I like this.

With the press of one button I can share useful web sites straight to my blog. You unlucky readers are going to have to plough through so much more stuff from now on...


Posted using ShareThis
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Microsoft SmallBasic

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...Image by via CrunchBase
Microsoft have released a new version of basic designed for children and novices called SmallBasic. It has only fifteen keywords to learn to allow newbies to get up and running quickly. The web site says that
Small Basic is a simple and easy programming language with a friendly environment that provides a cool and fun way of learning programming. From making turtles animations to running a slide show on the desktop, Small Basic makes programming natural and effortless.
Might be a good way of introducing programming to your classes.

Featured Windows Download: Small Basic Teaches Programming Fundamentals
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Here's an Ethical Dilemma For You

World Intellectual Property Organization HQ in...Image via Wikipedia
Web Worker Daily have a great post about intellectual property (IP) rights. Specifically it gives you information on what to do if your work is stolen on-line.

I'd really like to tell you about this post as it contains great information about how to deal with this problem but, if I quote it, am I simply copying?

I'll take my chances and put it down to Fair Use.

You can read the article here:

WebWorkerDaily » Archive What To Do When Your Work is Stolen Online «
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Didn't This Used to be Investigated by the Justice Department?

20px|Windows Live Logo Windows Live OneCareImage via Wikipedia
OK Here's the scam.
  1. Invent an operating system that's full of vulnerabilities
  2. Create some software that plugs the holes (let's call it OneCare, for example)
  3. Sell it
  4. Find that no-one buys it because others sell similar software except cheaper and better
  5. Make your software free
  6. Drive all the other manufacturers out of the game
  7. Sell your software at a new, higher, price
Microsoft are at point five on the list. Six and seven are sure to follow soon.

In the meantime take advantage of their "generosity" to make your Windows machine safe to use.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft to offer free security
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Can Teaching in a Virtual Environment be Productive?

The current BBC News logoImage via Wikipedia
Teaching in virtual environments can be very productive, Bill Thompson
Can it?

BBC NEWS | Technology | Moving to the Second Classroom
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Is e-Learning a Distinct Profession?

This image ilustrates that the distance betwee...Image via Wikipedia
More and more institutions (usually at the prompting of funding councils) are demanding that courses be available on-line. Of course the distance between the aim of providing a course on-line and the final course is a long one and is not a journey that, whether from lack of interest or lack of skill, not all learning professionals can take.

Is there a place, then, for professional e-learning practitioners who exist solely in the ether?

Angela Boothroyd explores that question further here:

Studying Online: E-learning as a profession: Part 1
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, 24 November 2008

Credit Crunch Creates Courses

Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 running under Window...Image via Wikipedia
Interesting Article in Science Daily about how the complete lack of available cash could lead to a boom in e-learning.

Bottom line is that companies see savings to be made by creating a course once and rolling it out to many users rather than paying a trainer to deliver the course personally.

I agree with the sentiment; although the statement
The newest solutions make it possible to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a course for a thousand employees within two hours.
makes me cringe. There's more to learning that presenting information. And there's less to PowerPoint than presenting information.

Economic Crisis Boosts E-Learning
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, 21 November 2008

Being a Gifted Speaker Isn’t a Gift

Speak album coverImage via Wikipedia
Change This is always a good place to go for giving your brain a kick start. The various manifestos available may not always be correct (or even good), but they are always thought-provoking. This one for example by Frances Cole Jones reminds us that public speaking isn't an inate gift but something that can be worked on. As the site says:
Despite a pervasive idea that some people areborn with a 'gift' for public speaking—and that this gift is the reasonthey excel when presenting themselves—my experience has proven this isn’t so. I believe that everyone can be a great speaker, and this includes you.
See if you agree.

ChangeThis :: Being a Gifted Speaker Isn’t a Gift
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Other Video Chat Applications

Lifehacker.Image via Wikipedia
Following on from my previous post on Dimdim I found a LifeHacker post discussing the five best video chat applications.

Have a look and see if any of them fit your needs.

Hive Five: Five Best Video Chat Applications
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

dimdim is SmartSmart

Photo of a modern videoconferencing systemImage via Wikipedia
DimDim is a free, web based video conferencing utility. As they say:
With no software to download or install, Dimdim forever democratizes webbased live meetings. In seconds - right from your browser - you easily host or attend web meetings complete with audio and video conferencing, desktop and document sharing.
With Dimdim you can host meetings for up to twenty people at no cost. With no software to install it may be easier to use in institutions with locked down desktops.

Give it a try here:

Dimdim: Free Web Meeting, Free Web Conferencing, Meetup, Open Source, Net Meeting, eLearning, web conference, Unified Collaboration, Online Meetings, Online Training, Free Screen Sharing, collaboration, live meeting

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Calendar Applications Just Don't Get Any Easier

Deadline (reality TV series)Image via Wikipedia
Busy people wouldn't be as busy if they'd just stop trying to finfdnew ways or organising themselves and just get on with their work.

With that off my chest Deadline is, without doubt, the simplest planning application ever.

Just throw a task and a time at it and it will let you know by mail, chat, inter-galactic thought transfer, etc.

Deadline: Home
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sho What Ish Soshiku?

my life on the floorImage by bierzak via Flickr
Students never want to keep a record of their due work. The complexities of a paper diary seem beyond them. They lose it in their home or, more likely, they don't fill it in in the first place.

How about a super snazzy Web 2.0 version of an assignment diary instead? Perhaps the nice interface will prompt them to actually use the thing.

Got to be worth a go.

Soshiku › The Smart Way to Keep Track of Your Schoolwork
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, 6 November 2008

PDF to Word Conversions - Online and Free

Latest PDF File IconImage via Wikipedia
PDF files are wonderful. They are a standard, feature rich, easy to use format that makes exchanging files easy. What they don't do well is exchange data.

I've lost count of the number of times I've received a PDF and wanted to grab the text and edit it. Anyone who's tried to do the same thing will testify that it can be one of the most frustrating computing problems around. I've spent inordinate amounts of time re-typing information contained in a PDF in order to be able to re-use it.

Enter, stage right, PDFundo. This web site allows you to upload a PDF and receive a Word file in return. For free. Without registration. And in real time.

What else can you possibly need to know?

Free PDF to Word Doc Converter! Just plain and simple pdf conversion software.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Did Ye Ken?

Following on from my previous post on the, classic, Shift Happens video Joe Wilson blogged about a Scottish themed version developed by various HMIe staff (and others!). Definitely worth a look.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Memory4Teachers Provide a Free USB Drive

Memory4Teachers are supplying a free USB drive to staff in schools and colleges all over the UK.

It comes complete with a set of educational resources ready to use.

Claim your drive here:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, 31 October 2008

Virtual Machines

Image representing Sun Microsystems as depicte...Image via CrunchBase
When teaching it's important to ensure that your machines are as bullet-proof as possible. The number of times I've had an operating system lesson ended early when the student has zapped their system are too numerous too count.

The obvious solution is to use a virtual machine such as VMWare, Parallels or Virtual PC. One of my favourites (and free, that may not be a coincidence) is VirtualBox.

As an Open Source product it's free to use but, with Sun as its backer, it has the clout to match up to commercial releases.

Check it out here:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Microsoft Moves into the Cloud

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30:  (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
It says a lot for the continuing battering ram that is Google that Microsoft, who based their fortune and world domination on operating systems and applications for the desktop, have announced their move into the cloud with Microsoft Azure.

With the promise of being able to write and host applications on Microsoft's servers rather than their own, Microsoft hope to take a slice of the emerging market for web based applications that include the basic Google Docs as well as more ambitious CRM and invoicing applications.

The only question is: is Microsoft too late?

This is worth keeping an eye on. With the right sort of lobbying Microsoft may be persuaded to include a set of educational tools and hosting for educators along with the promised web versions of its Office products. Here's hoping...

Computer Buyer - Advice you can Trust

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, 24 October 2008

Shift Happens

Sometimes we forget things that are extremely powerful.

The Shift Happens video has been around for a while - but it's still relevant. This version has statistics appropriate for the United Kingdom.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Open Model of Education

Ravensbourne CollegeImage by Josie Fraser via Flickr
One of the most promising approaches to increasing attainment is the open model of education. Practitioners are well aware of the requirement to make materials accessible in many more formats (Blackboard, Moodle, WebCT, SCORM) than the traditional words on paper.

This new model opens up the possibility of learning anywhere and everywhere. For example, some of my own students access on-line materials via the web browser on the phone whilst commuting to and from work. This very openness is a major factor in their enjoyment and subsequent success in the course.

How do you make your learning open?

Education Innovation: The Open Model of Education
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Adopting Web 2.0 in Organisations

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via Wikipedia
Awareness, who specialise in creating Web 2.0 communities for companies, have released a new report on trends and best practices for adopting Web 2.0.

Given the problems that many of us have in getting education institutions to recognise the inherent worth in web 2.0 technologies and loosening up the network security polices to allow access to them, this report might help in presentations to senior management.

I've copied the announcement below:

Awareness Unveils 2008 Report on Trends and Best Practices in Adopting Web 2.0

Awareness has announced the release of the second in a series of reports on
enterprise social media, "Trends and Best Practices in Adopting Web 2.0
in 2008." To download the free report, click here.

The report indicates that community initiatives and requirements continue
to evolve, highlighted by an increased focus on the deeper and broader
integration of Web 2.0 technologies with other complementary enterprise
systems and enabling broader community participation from both internal
and external audiences.

The report details many interesting developments in the corporate adoption of social media over the last year, including:

  • Employers are starting to allow social media participation more freely in their
    organizations: The number of organizations that allow social networking for business purposes has increased dramatically to 69 percent in 2008—up from 37 percent last year;
  • Employers are finding the benefits of using social media: 63 percent are using social media to build and promote their brand, 61 percent are using it to improve communication and collaboration, and 58 percent are using it to increase consumer engagement;
  • Seventy-five percent of employees are already using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn for business purposes, up 15 percent from 2007;
  • Use of internal-facing communities is on the rise with six percent of organizations already reporting they deployed internal-facing communities, while 33 percent indicate their organization plans to implement internal-facing social media initiatives;
  • Similarly, external-facing communities are increasing: 27 percent of respondents
    said their companies were planning to deploy external-facing communities while only 13 percent indicated their organizations already have external-facing communities;
  • Online communities directed at specific interests and groups of people allow for more targeted marketing techniques and better results so for this reason 37 percent of organizations have specific areas of focus for their communities.

To learn more about the trends and best practices of social media marketing and Web 2.0 adoption, the Awareness report is available for free download here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Collaboration with Skype and Mikogo

Skype 3.6 Beta running in Windows Vista.Image via Wikipedia
I'm indebted to Andrew from the Mikogo team for letting me know that they have come up with a great tutorial for their web conferencing add-on to Skype, Mikogo.

What is Mikogo?

Developed as a free tool with the private user in mind, Mikogo provides an easy-to-use online meeting tool, equipped with valuable features to ensure the perfect desktop sharing experience. During a meeting, users are able to:

1. Share each others’ screens.
2. Switch presenter – let a meeting participant share their own screen.
3. Access remote keyboard and mouse control – the current presenter may grant control of their screen to another user at any time.
4. Transfer files – the organizer and guests can send files of up to 200MB to each other
5. Select applications - Got an open application which is not required for the meeting? Select to hide it.
6. Pause transmission – take a meeting break and suspend the transfer of screen data.

You can invite up to 10 participants to any Mikogo free online meeting under a secure connection. Mikogo employs the superior 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption, ensuring the safety of all data.

This is definitely worth checking out for an inexpensive introduction to web conferencing.

Mikogo Skype Extra
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tutorials for Programming Languages

A selection of programming language textbooks ...Image via Wikipedia
I've blogged before about StackOverflow.

For those who haven't come across it here's the site's own introduction:
Stack Overflow is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for programmers — regardless of platform or language. Jump in and share your software engineering expertise! No registration or account required.
As a part of this aim it has put together this page containing tutorials for many different programming languages. Many of them are on-line and free - perfect for education...

Language Books/Tutorials for popular languages - Stack Overflow
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, 3 October 2008

When DID the IT Staff Become Our Bosses?

Title page to Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning...Image via Wikipedia
The tales of colleges being unable to implement any good practice involving IT (as defined by, amongst others, our HMIe overlords friends) are legion. Most of it is related to the baffling willingness of educators to allow support staff to dictate how we should teach.

While I can see the reasons for blocking certain sites containing, for example, porn, and the rules for access to JANET are clear, the stories of colleges blocking perfectly usable sites are mounting and becoming more ridiculous by the day.

Why, in the name of all that's Web 2.0, does a college of my acquaintance block Google Mail? Or Google Docs come to that? Descriptors abound requiring students to access newsgroups. Only problem is many colleges block NNTP traffic. Why? Even worse why, when asked to unblock this traffic, do system administrators refuse on spurious "security" reasons? And why do we let them! The same applies to e-mail or chats.

If any administrator can come up with a sensible reason for this, and that excludes any explanation that includes the phrase "in case", then I'd love to hear it.

It's the 21st century. I spend half my time listening to tales of there not being enough IT equipment and the other half hearing that students are unable to bring their own laptops into colleges. Is there a relationship here?

The bottom line is this. Support services are there to support and if education is being compromised then we have to address this; and sooner rather than later.

Weblogg-ed » Filter Fun
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]