Hidden from View: the Scope in Periscope

periscope_border-01Just as YouTube is celebrating 10 years of existence another video app, Periscope, comes along and steals the limelight. While YouTube is now firmly bedded-in as the most used video sharing platform, Periscope has the potential to offer something that YouTube doesn’t do well; live video streaming. The Periscope app, only currently available on iTunes, burst into life in March/April 2015 and despite being the new kid on the block, it is managing to be one of the most talked about apps for quite some time. Allowing users to broadcast, live, anything they wish there is now a cornucopia of live video content available. But that’s part of the problem, a quick scan of the live broadcasts reveals a rather mundane list of everyday activities: ‘walking to work’, ‘the view from my window’, ‘making an omelette’ and so on. There is still a novelty of being able to broadcast anything to anyone and broadcasts seemingly happen randomly with no way to search for relevant content. Once the dust settles I see oodles of potential for this app both in the classroom and for budding journalists everywhere.

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Socrative: To cahoot or not to Kahoot – that is the question!

Computer_ScreenI know which I prefer. In fact I’ve always been unapologetic about my preference. If I ever stumble across a colleague using what I considered the inferior resource I immediately want to shake them vigorously and ask “why are you using that!?”. However, a recent Twitter exchange, which involved the CEO of Kahoot, made me question my choice. Until that point I had always thought that one of these two frequently used online resources was just fundamentally better than the other. How did I know? Experience. Having used both resources for my lessons it was, to me, obvious that one was fun but lacking educational value. Whereas the other was more suited to classroom learning and superior at improving my students knowledge of a particular topic.Read more…

Apple Watch: a Time ‘Keeper’…?

Apple WatchIf you don’t already know, the next ‘big’ apple product is the Apple Watch. Yes, a watch. Do you remember them? They were those handy devices which attached to your wrist enabling you to check the time (it may have even beeped on the hour). They started to disappear when everyone started using smartphones like the Apple iPhone. So the company who made the world’s most recognisable smartphone, which abruptly halted the sales of watches, now want to sell a watch. This is an intriguing paradox so why has Apple shifted its focus to wearables rather than augmenting and improving, let’s say, the iPad? Do we really want to buy an expensive watch and what can it do that my old £30 watch can’t? As someone who is neither pro nor anti Apple I decided to have a look at this new direction for the company post Steve Jobs.

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Keyboard Shortcuts, Cut Short…

Keyboard ShortcutsI recently gave an assembly on the rather boring sounding title of keyboard shortcuts (please don’t leave just yet!). Little did I realise that this topic would have such a huge impact on how the students use a computer.

I had been asked to give a 10-15 minute talk, to year 7 & 8 students, on any topic of my choice. This sounded easy and it didn’t take me long before I came up with a list of some cracking and inspirational ideas, if I do say so myself. However it wasn’t until I was watching a group of students logging into some PCs that I had another topic idea. I noticed that each of them logged into the PC in the same way, a laborious way. They did not know how they could login without using the mouse to click between the username and password box. This process of grabbing the mouse, locating the on-screen cursor, clicking in the password box and then typing their password was costing them valuable time. OK, admittedly only a moment or two but I realised that for every time a student uses the mouse, when there is a keyboard alternative, they could save themselves oodles of time (and possibly reduce any RSI health issues).

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Digital Dark Age: Now or Never?

Digital Dark Age: Floppy DisksUntil recently I owned hundreds, if not thousands, of computer storage devices. Not just CD’s, hard drives and USB sticks but 3½” & 5¼” floppy disks, DAT tapes, cassette tapes and even a few ROM cartridges from a long forgotten computer console I owned in the early 1980s. A significant life event made me question whether this plastic mountain, stuck in a perpetual digital purgatory, was worth keeping. I no longer owned the appropriate devices to enable me view the contents of each storage device and it was taking up way too much space in my home. After much thought and with a sad heart I decided to dump the lot. I now regret that decision. While I’m sure my electronic files consisted of nothing more than a few poorly constructed Word documents from my university days, a handful of excel spreadsheets where the most sophisticated cells made use of bold and perhaps even a few early digital photos, I still worry that I’ve destroyed some important image, audio, text or file that I, or someone else, may one day need. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has deleted or trashed old devices for the same reasons as I and a recent interview given by the VP of Google, Vint Cerf, made me think again about the so-called Digital Dark Age.Read more…

The Paperless Educator Challenge: The end…?

PaperlessThe Paperless Educator Challenge is over! Almost…

In September 2014 I made a very simple sounding pledge: not to print or write anything on paper until December 2014. At the very start of the academic year, fresh-faced from a summer of no teaching, this seemed like a taxing challenge but one that I could, if I put my mind to it, realistically achieve. My plan was simple, during this 3-month period I was to trial ways in which I could reduce my own personal paper usage and to educate others on how to avoid wasting paper. It’s now time to reveal the experiences and results of the Paperless Educator Challenge. In this blog I’ll detail what worked, what didn’t, the reactions of my peers and offer some tips on how to help you move away from paper.

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The Journalist, the Pianist and the Clacton Cock-up

Camera & Two PhotosIt sounds like the start of a slapstick ‘whodunnit’ but the following is a true story. Not only is it all rather amusing but it’s also a useful reminder on how the internet has become a quick reference library full of (un)reliable sources. The story goes like this… My friend and colleague Robert Hunter, the pianist of this story, was accompanying a double bass player at the Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition in July 2012. As it turns out the bassist that Robert was accompanying, Matthew Paris, won first prize. Picture the excited scene: Matthew is thrilled, Robert is delighted, they both want to capture this victorious moment in a photo. Robert quickly passes his iPhone to someone who snaps a smiling image of our winning duo. This photo, in which Matthew is proudly clutching the winners cup, is the start of a chain of events which leads to much confusion nearly two years later.

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