Sony VAIO UX1XN getting cheaper

When the Sony VAIO UX1XN was released in the UK it commanded a £2,000 price tag. This is a lot of money for a device the size of a PDA (even if it can run Windows Vista).

Last month I noticed my local Sony Centre had reduced the price to £1,600. Still expensive, but 20% off is quite a reduction. Such reductions usually imply that a new model is just around the corner.

On Amazon now you can get the UX1XN for just £1,199 which considering the features of the UX1XN (the cameras, flash hdd) makes the UX1XN seem like a reasonable proposition.

It will be interesting to see what and how Sony update this model with, with the next revision.

Sony VAIO UX1XN

Policy for filtering

I have heard that quite a few institutions are blocking or thinking of blocking mp3 files. The reasoning that “all mp3 files must be pirated songs and thus violating copyright and therefore should be blocked”.

I am assuming they also block other audio formats such as

AAC
WAV
OGG
MOV
WMA
AIFF
TTA
FLAC

In my opinion, filtering should be based on the content not the file type.

A blanket filter makes life easier for administration and creates problems for other users.

Laptops in exams?

With the A Level results last week and the GCSE results this week, it reminded me of how we use learning technologies to support and enhance teaching and learning, but when it comes to assessment, we almost always rely on pen paper and those dreaded exam conditions.

BBC news had an interesting opinion piece on whether learners should be able to bring laptops into (some) exams in order to be able to use the internet.

Open your laptops and begin…

Traditional exams also don’t allow for collaboration, working together, teamwork; all things which are essential in the workplace and for life in general.

What do you think?

Facebooking

We are in the process of looking at Facebook because our learners are wanting to use it to engage and interact with the college. It is in the main for the social and sports side of college (which is why a lot of learners come to (and stay at a college)).

Gloucestershire College Facebook Group
(note you need to be a member of facebook to access this page)

Facebook

It is in the main going to be used for marketing.

Whether we use it for teaching and learning…  well this is a different question.

There is already a college Facebook network (set up by the students)

The learners are already engaging with Facebook, we as institution need to consider how we are going to engage with both Facebook and the students who are using Facebook.

As for blocking facebook, we don’t.

We do however (for some reason) block bebo, however students (and one or two staff) are using bebo on a daily basis in college…

Interesting Facebook links

Facebook: Engage with it or leave it alone?

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally

Bluetooth helps Facebook friends

I personally think there is real potential to utilise social networking to support teaching and learning.

Our students network socially (in the offline world) already to support their learning, they meet for coffee, they create study groups, they share information and resources.

An online social network allows them to do this at a time and place to suit them, it also allows some students who would be discrimnated in a physical social network to engage.

An online social network will not replace an offline social network, it is not an “either or” situation, for me it is about supporting learners to learn.

New research report on 1:1 access to mobile learning devices

The University of Bristol is conducting research into the impact of 1:1 access to mobile learning devices at KS2 and KS4. Five schools, which are part of the Learning2Go or Hand-e-Learning projects, are being investigated.

This Development and Research project is using mixed methods to evaluate impact in terms of learners’ learning skills, attendance, behaviour and attainment. It will also review the success of the implementation and sustainability of the schools’ PDA initiatives and provide examples of emerging good pedagogic practice.

The final reports from the project will be available in Winter 2008.

The Summer 2007 Interim Report is available here.

Emerging recommendations include:

Implementation – policy

  • The initial implementation of mobile projects is logistically challenging.
  • The open negotiation of contracts of acceptable and responsible use with learners and parents can be very useful in clarifying issues and building mutual trust.
  • When learners expect devices to be used, they are more likely to bring them to school every day and keep them charged. When all pupils in a class have their devices with them, the learning benefits are optimised.
  • Teachers need to play an integral role in choosing software and content to ensure that it is relevant to learners’ needs. They are then more likely use the devices.
  • Where possible, all relevant staff – especially teaching assistants, ICT co-ordinators and teachers – should be provided with mobile devices.

Implementation – technical

  • It is beneficial to ensure reliable wireless connectivity.
  • It is useful to consider systems for dealing with breakages and temporary loss of use of devices. This may involve planning for temporary loan stock.
  • Systems for storage of and access to work need to be developed. Teachers and learners need to access digital work to provide and receive feedback.
  • Consideration can usefully be given to possible software solutions to teachers’ issues around observing process, tracking progress and formative assessment.

Professional development of teachers

  • Teachers benefit from having time to explore what the devices can do before integrating their use into planned learning.
  • Using mobile devices is likely to increase learner autonomy. Teachers need to ensure that learners are able to evaluate resources, think critically and reflect.
  • It is important to consider the ways in which mobile devices are integrated with other (ICT and traditional) tools in learning at home and at school.

Astronaut gives space lessons from shuttle

Interesting article about teaching from space.

Asked how teaching compared to being an astronaut, Mrs Morgan, 55, replied: “Astronauts and teachers actually do the same thing. We explore, we discover and we share.

“And the great thing about being a teacher is you get to do that with students, and the great thing about being an astronaut is you get to do it in space, and those are absolutely wonderful jobs.”

Space Shuttle, picture courtesy of NASA.

Source.

Bluetoothing Facebook

Interesting article from the BBC on how researchers are using Bluetooth and Facebook.

A team of UK researchers is combining the power of social network Facebook with communications tool Bluetooth to learn more about human interactions.

Bath University scientists have created a tool which can use the unique ID of Bluetooth devices, like a mobile phone, to build new friendship networks.

Users register with the Facebook tool, called Cityware, that tracks encounters in the real world via Bluetooth.

Administrate Athens Accounts, you can’t from home!

So there I was on leave, when I got a phone call from work, someone needed access to JORUM. Though they had an Athens account, they probably weren’t part of the staff group we have which allows access to JORUM (as JORUM is a staff only resource). So using my Athens Administrator account details I tried to login to Athens from home, only to find that I couldn’t because it was also restricted by IP address! So unfortunately the member of staff will have to wait till next week, because the other Athens administrator is also on leave (come on it is August, virtually no one is around).

Now I suppose if we had a VPN at work I could have logged into that and then I could have access. Or if I had my home IP address “added” to the list of safe IP addresses (I have done this before with other IP restricted resources). However at this point neither of those are possible, so the member of staff will have to wait a week!

Will Shibboleth solve these issues? Maybe, maybe not, as you still need to administrate accounts with Shibboleth.

A warning to all coffee lovers out there

Found this interesting article on the BBC News website.

Girl overdoses on espresso coffee – A teenager was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee.

It would appear that she had seven double espresso coffees and as a result had overdosed on caffeine!

A warning to all coffee lovers out there, I know that a lot of teachers and lecturers seem to thrive on coffee, or they can only survive through the average day in FE by drinking coffee.

It would seem that extra caution is needed where I work as we now have Starbucks coffee available in our college cafes and I quite like the off Starbucks espresso now and again .

Creating Accessible Presentations

TechDis have published the third of their accessibility essentials guides. This third guide can tell you all you need to know about creating accessible presentations in PowerPoint.

As multimedia presentations are increasingly favoured as a means of delivering lectures, the importance of making them accessible to all learners becomes crucial. Software such as PowerPoint can present barriers to some learners, but it can also support others, and this Guide to Creating Accessible Presentations can show you how.

It has four sections:

  • Using Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibly within Teaching and Learning
  • Implementing Inclusive Practice
  • Delivering Presentations Inclusively
  • Good Practice in Providing Alternative Outputs to Support Accessibility

The guide also looks at the importance of making PowerPoint components accessible for others to re-use.

Check out the guide.

news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…