Tag Archives: camera

Running Pilots

So are you thinking about running a pilot or a trial?

How many pilots do we need? Or is it more a question that we need to run a pilot at our institution before we think about “rolling” it out across all curriculum areas. I am also aware of successful pilots in one curriculum area which have been followed by virtually identical pilots in a second curriculum area… Why? Well the learners are different! Really! How different, they have two heads or something? That actually raises a question on any pilot, well successful pilots have resulted in a roll out across the whole institution?

We do see institutions that use tools such as Powerpoint across the institution, similarly we see some institutions have embedded the use of the VLE. However was this via projects and pilots? Or was it something different?

Do pilots actually help institutions move forward in using learning technologies or are they causing problems rather than solutions?

Do you read about pilots and projects from other organisations? Do you follow their advice when implementing new technologies or do you decide to run your own pilot? If we don’t learn from pilots that others do, is there any point in doing or talking about pilots?

I also had a recent conversation where the institution was going to do a pilot as it couldn’t afford a mainstream rollout of the technology. Now this I really didn’t understand, you already know from the research undertaken that the technology works and has a positive impact, however rather than buy enough for the institution you’re only going to buy enough to repeat the pilot already done. Why couldn’t they buy enough? Well they weren’t given the funding.

So….

Maybe the question is, why aren’t the people who are making the financial decisions reading the research and project outcomes?

Hmmm….

Personally my view is that if there is only enough money for a pilot, it’s probably not worth doing and you would be better off spending the money on reinforcing and enhancing the use of a technology you already have. However many might see that as boring.

I thought I would mention some of things I have done at my institution in relation to the introduction of new technologies and the impact they have had.

e-Books

When the JISC Collections e-Books for FE announcement was made, I immediately signed the college up. I recall talking to a colleague who said “so which group of students should we pilot this with”. I thought for a minute and wondered why we needed to do a pilot or a trial. Hadn’t JISC Collections already done that, seen the need to provide the collection and given us an opportunity. So I replied, “no we’re not going to do a pilot, we’re going to launch it for all learners and tell everyone about it, the pilot projects have already been done by JISC, e-books do work, they support, enhance and enrich learning, why on earth would we want to repeat that work, to get the same results, oh and get no funding to do it?” As a result of the mainstream launch of the e-books into the college, we now have learners and practitioners using e-books to support their learning. No need to do a pilot, we knew it worked elsewhere, so why wouldn’t it work at our college?

Video Cameras

I could go on about Flip’ping Pilots, but when an opportunity came to purchase some SD card based video cameras, rather than buy a set of 15 and see how they worked out with groups, we purchased over 300 cameras. The result was just what I expected. More practitioners creating and using video in their teaching. Learners using video for assessment and reflection. Availability of the cameras was the real issue, having lots of them meant that whenever someone wanted to use one, either they had one in their pocket or could get hold a class set really easily. Was I concerned about spending that amount of money on cameras that wouldn’t be used? Well probably slightly, however pilots and projects done elsewhere had demonstrated again and again that video had had a really positive impact on teaching and learning, so why wouldn’t it work at our college?

Clickers

I remember seeing a demonstration of Activexpression by Promethean at my college and been very impressed, the main reason I liked the system over other “clicker” systems including the Promethean Activote was that you could use the system without needing to spend ages preparing the questions in advance.

However another thing I knew, from reading about projects that had implemented clickers in other institutions was that staff didn’t use their sets of clickers very much because they weren’t sure if they would be available, but when they did use them they really thought they worked effectively. The lesson was simple, ensure you have enough clickers available. We also had a need to make assessment more engaging and “fun”, clickers or voting units seemed like an ideal solution based on the work done elsewhere. So once more when some funding was available, we purchased 1500 Activexpression handsets, nearly enough for a hundred classes! They were made available in a range of departments. The result? Well most of the sets were used and used on a regular basis to the point where they are embedded into practice. However I should say not all departments engaged with the technology and some were left in cupboards. However after a period of implementation and relection we relocated the sets not been used. The result was across many curriculum areas the clickers were been actively used to enhance and enrich learning. I had seen the results of many pilots and projects that had used clickers and voting units, so why wouldn’t it work at our college?

iPads

When the iPad first came out, I didn’t think it was going to be the radical device for me that it has eventually come to be. In the end I was really impressed with the device and how it improved my efficiency and workflows for my job. As a result I bought every member of the management team in my centre an iPad. As well as the Libraries and e-Learning, my centre includes Construction, Engineering and Schools Liaison. I certainly didn’t see this as a pilot or a project, much more about them benefiting from the lessons I had learnt. I have had quite a few people in the college come and ask me to provide them with iPads (like I have the budget for that) or have asked to “pilot” them with a group of their learners. As far as I am concerned there have been lots of iPad pilots and projects elsewhere in the world and my college doesn’t need to repeat those experiences, the lessons have been published, the problems identified and many of the issues resolved. For me the question is now, now are iPads useful or will they enhance and enrich learning, no the question for me is, will iPads solve a specific problem we have in the college, will they increase retention and achievement for a particular cohort? If I can answer those questions I can then ask the question will the cost of the iPads be outweighed by the benefit they will bring? We don’t have that many iPads at my college, those that do have them, find they are really useful and have had quite an impact on their work. Elsewhere other iPad projects have demonstrated the value they can bring to learning, so why wouldn’t it work at our college?

Thinking differently

So with all the wonderful stuff that has been discussed at various conferences and events, I wonder how many of you are thinking about your next project, your next pilot, your next research grant bid… Do I only want to do a pilot because a) everyone else is doing a pilot and b) it means I get an exciting new gadget to play with c) I need to be seen to be doing new and innovative stuff. Pilots are fun, aren’t they?

Or are you thinking differently, thinking about why wouldn’t this work at my place? Why can’t I do a mainstream roll out of this new technology.

Are you thinking differently?

It had all gone horribly wrong…

Sometimes you make a wise decision and sometimes you make a mistake.

When I ordered my iPad back on the 10th May when it was announced that it would be delivered on the 28th May I made the decision NOT to order the iPad Camera Connection Kit. My reasoning would be (based on previous experience) was that if there were problems with the delivery of the iPad Camera Connection Kit then my iPad would be delayed and I didn’t want that to happen. I also thought I wouldn’t have a problem getting one in my local Apple Store…

So how wrong was I?

Way wrong!

Both the local Bristol stores had sold out pretty quickly, basically within a day of the release of the iPad.

The online Apple Store suddenly went to a 4-6 weeks delivery time.

It had all gone horribly wrong…

I did consider ordering one from the online store, I could wait… but they wanted to charge me £5 for delivery that I wasn’t willing to pay.

I thought, I’ll wait four weeks and get one from the Apple stores in Bristol.

I waited…

I waited…

I checked with the Apple stores a month later and still no luck and no joy.

I checked the online Store and, still 4-6 weeks delivery and still going to charge me £5.

I waited…

So in the end I thought I really do want this connection kit for ALT-C, that’s at the beginning of September and that’s just under 4-6 weeks away.

On the 20th July I placed my order for the iPad Camera Connection Kit. By my reckoning it should arrive just in time for ALT-C.

First surprise was that I wasn’t charged for delivery, free delivery for the kit. That was nice.

Then in the e-mail confirming my order it said:

We estimate your order to be shipped by 5 – 7 business days.
I thought that’s not 4-6 weeks! Quick check of the website saw the 4-6 weeks had been reduced to 2-3 weeks.

Well that’s nice.

Then on the 24th July I got an e-mail stating my order had been shipped. It arrived on the 28th July.

Of course I needed to test it, so out with the DSLR and a quick picture later I connected the camera via the USB.

It worked a treat imported the image, I could then upload it using Osfoora HD to TwitPic via Twitter.

Well pleased and impressed.

Pity it took so long!

Hipstamatic – iPhone App of the Week

Hipstamatic – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will also work on the iPod touch.

This week’s App is Hipstamatic.

Digital photography never looked so analog. The Hipstamatic brings back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras of the past! The Hipstamatic keeps the the quirks of shooting old school but gives you the ability to swap lenses, film, and flash settings all with the swipe of a finger. Characterized by vignettes, blurring, over saturation, discolored images, Hipstaprints have a casual and seemingly accidental snapshot feel. Pictures taken with the Hipstamatic have their very own look and unique character. Artistic and painted with light and quirk, Hipstamatic images are sometimes surprising and offer a delicate beauty turning any iPhone into an instant art making machine. Images can be uploaded directly to Facebook, Flickr, or emailed to your friends and family.

£1.19

This is one of the many camera or photo apps I own and is in the “fun” category. Basically it turns your iPhone into an old film camera from 1974!

Using a variety of lenses and “films” you can take some “old school” photographs.

It has a bit of a quirky interface that takes some getting use to.

I quite like the effects and can see some use for the types of images it produces.

Interesting (as is happening with many apps) you can purchase in-app upgrades.

Additional lenses, films, and flashes are bundled within the app as ‘Hipstapaks’ and start at 59p. Each Hipstapak includes multiple items.

This is a two edged sword for me, it makes the core app cheaper (or even free) however means for added functionality and features you need to pay an upgrade. Fine if you own the phone, less so if you have an institutionally owned phone and don’t have access to the iTunes account for the phone.

I like Hipstamatic but it is quirky and won’t appeal to everyone.

Black & White Camera – iPhone App of the Week

Black & White Camera – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will also work on the iPod touch.

This week’s App is Black & White Camera.

If you love black and white photography, this is the app for you! Just take a photo or pick a picture from your photo library, you will get beautiful black and white art photos.

Features:

- Create black and white photos directly using iPhone
- Create black and white photos for pictures in photo library
- Automatically create and save to file
- Processed and saved in original size
- Fast processing & saving
- Polished UI, beautiful design

The pro version “Black & White Camera Pro” comes with flash to do fine grain brightness adjustment.

Free and £0.59 for the Pro Version.

I sometimes think the best Apps for the iPhone are the simple ones, the ones that do one thing well.

Black & White Camera is one of those Apps, you take a photograph, it converts it to Black & White and saves it as a new image to your camera roll.

Nothing more and nothing less.

It’s a free app, the pro version has a “flash” but that isn’t necessary for most photographs. If you want to use photographs from your photo library (for example on an iPod touch) then you can do that too.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I do like to use black and white images to illustrate posts. This App allows me to take a picture and use it in a blog article quickly and easily. The top image was created using this App.