So I have arrived in Nottingham ahead of ALT-C a huge learning technology and e-learning conference for HE and FE in the UK.
Okay so not the easiest week for FE (usually the start of term for most) but I see that there are quite a few FE delegates on the list (and I have already bumped into a few).
I am running a workshop on mobile learning which takes place at 5pm on Tuesday, this will be very hands on, so if you are at ALT and want an active session, please come along.
I am staying in student accommodation which is, well okay, well to be honest not very nice, and I am on the second floor as well, too many stairs! One advantage free internet access (which isn’t working now, but hopefully soon).
I have had a quick look round the exhibition which seems smaller than last year, but that may be because the room is larger!
Just under four years ago (November 2003) someone on the ILT Champion mailing list asked about getting a “cheap” high end digital camera for printing images at A2 size.
I posted the following reply.
To be honest in order to get anything decent to scale up to A2 then you are going to need a minimum of 3000×2000 pixels (preferably higher than that) which means a 6MP digicam which will be at a minimum £1000, probably nearer £3000 to get something decent..
There is an easier way and you will get a much better quality image as well. As the need is for marketing purposes, the instantability (sp?) of a digital camera is not needed. I would use a normal SLR film camera (£300) and when it’s developed get it scanned onto CD. My local camera shop will put a whole 35mm film onto a CD scanning in at 3000×2000 pixels for just £10.00.
You don’t even need a SLR, as even those 35mm throwaway cameras can give you a better quality image than a 6MP camera. You could do what is needed for less than £20!
You could get an even larger number of megapixels by using a dedicated flatbed scanner.
Digital cameras are great and have their place, however for your needs I think that you will be better off with a film camera and get it scanned onto cd when you have it developed.
It’s incredible how much has changed in the last four years…
I now have a 7.2MP camera, a Sony W35, which costs just over £100!
It also has a decent Carl Zeiss lense and a lithium ion battery (so a charge will last all week).
The price of digital cameras has really come down in price. Look at all these 7MP cameras available from Amazon which show how cheap they have become.
Today you need to be less concerned about mega-pixels and be more concerned about the quality of the lense, the life of the battery, how quickly the camera starts up and how quick it is to take photographs.
Of course this meant I needed both a computer and internet access.
The Nokia N73 does come with an application to upload images to Flickr, however this never worked for me, and I suspect it is because Vodafone (my phone provider) blocks access to Flickr as part of their content control!
So I was interested to see how ShoZu would work out.
Shozu is an application that works on a range of phones and allows you with just one click take an image (or a video) and upload it straight to a Web 2.0 site of your choice.
You give ShoZu your mobile phone number, they send you an SMS text message, you download and install the application on your phone.
Rather than use the phone to configure the destinations (though you can) you can configure your account via a web browser. Which is great if like me you don’t really like to input data and information via a mobile phone number pad.
Configured it all.
So in London for a meeting took a photo at Paddington station and after I had taken the photograph, up popped a dialogue asking me if I wanted to send it to Flickr, so I click okay.
The image is automatically uploaded to Flickr and then into my other online sites which Flickr feeds into such as Jaiku and the VLE.
You can also add the images to your blogs (as seen here).
According to recent figures as reported by the BBC, a million more UK homes have now gone online.
The number of UK homes with internet access has gone up by nearly a million over the last year, figures suggest.
Some 15.2m UK households – 61% of homes – now have an internet connection, compared with 54% in 2006, research from National Statistics found.
In total, 84% of web-enabled households said they had a broadband connection, up from 69% in May 2006.
61% of homes now have an internet connection and those 84% have a broadband connection.
For those learners coming from homes without internet, what can they do? Well yes it would be nice if every learner had a broadband internet connection, but it would also be nice if every learner had free transport to college, it would be nice if every learner had all the core texts they needed, it would be nice if every learner didn’t need a part-time job to support their studies, etc…
Colleges don’t provide libraries or teachers at home, so even though a learner may not have access to the internet, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use the internet and web based services (like a VLE) to support and enhance learning.
For those learners who don’t have access to broadband internet, they do have options in terms of access to the internet. Some have mobile phones or other mobiles devices which could be used. Some will be able to access free internet from their local library. Some will be able to access the internet at a relative or a friend. Virtually all will be able to access the internet at college.
It is often thought that e-learning can be used in order to “replace” teachers and save money.
This is a bit of myth for virtually all educational institutions. e-Learning can’t replace teachers, you still need someone to facilitate and support the learning experience.
But e-learning can save money, let me give you an example.
Three local institutions deliver an A Level in Zebra Studies. They each deliver to five or six students.
If all three institutions can collaborate and deliver a single course in a mixed-mode delivery to the 15-18 students, then rather than three staff been paid to deliver, each institution only needs to pay a 1/3 of a member of staff.
You use e-learning to support and enhance the delivery. You use online discussions, video conferencing, podcasts, video webcasts, etc…
The students will benefit from the larger group, more so if students withdraw, withdrawals from a small group could mean not only a group which is unviable from a cost perspective, but also from a learning pespective – it is always difficult to break into groups of three when there are only four students!
Rooming costs will also be lower.
Institutions don’t need to be just FE colleges, they can also be schools, HE institutions as well as colleges.
Only a thought.
Also where there is cross curriculum areas, ie Customer Service, Finance, Health & Safety, groups could be combined in a single college to save on costs. A single cohort of twenty students instead of two groups of ten – actually that one doesn’t even need to use e-learning, just co-ordination!
In Friday’s Guardian there were a couple of articles of interest which you may have missed, as they were tucked away in the Back to School section which came with the paper.
Of course the beauty of the internet is that even if you have handed in the paper for recycling already (or months ago if you are reading this in December) you can still access the relevant articles online through Guardian Unlimited.
Or so I thought….
The articles from the Back to School supplement are not available online!
They might be on the pay per view edition, but doesn’t look like the supplement is available as text articles.
Well one article was on social networking and the other on mobile phones, no point in really talking about them as you can’t read them!
One of the things I dislike about Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, is when people upload and post Office documents to the web and then when I come to click on it, rather than offer me the option to open or save the Office document, Internet Explorer opens the document in the browser window.
Now for viewing documents, this generally isn’t too much of an issue, however for printing, changing and saving the document, well totally different story.
It’s one of the reasons I prefer using Firefox and Mac OS X.
However if you have “accidently” configured your system to do this, it is possible to change it back.