Universities across the UK thought they had everything sorted. In March, near the end of the second semester, they had rushed to deliver online teaching, as the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut their doors to maintain the safety of staff and students. With the spread of the virus easing over the summer, institutions began planning for the safe arrival of students in September. Stop-gap measures hurriedly introduced in March had become permanent by August; policies and guidance on social distancing, sanitising, and digital teaching alongside limited face-to-face tuition on campus had been drawn up having in mind the capped numbers of students universities then expected to receive.
Then came the A-level results.
It was one of many articles and blog posts on the fall out from the u-turn on the A Level results and the resulting impact on admissions and places.
I thought the honesty of Sheffield Hallams’ Vice Chancellor blog post was a breath of fresh air amongst all this.
I spent the weekend at a family wedding down in Sussex and I got my first taste of campanology, when I was asked to ring the bell in the church at the end of the wedding service, why I was asked I have no idea, but my family now have an amusing video of me being pulled up and down by the bell rope! The wedding was lovely and we had a great time.
Nine years ago on the 19th October 2010 I took this photograph of one of the offices in the college I was working in.
We had been having a lot of discussions about desks and offices. One particular group of staff were adamant they needed their own desks to work on and that they didn’t want their space changed.
What you should notice from the photograph above was that though everyone had their own desk, what they were actually using them was for, was storage. No one was really using their desks for working at. The result was a room which was not conducive to working, so no one worked in there. No one could find anything… well some could.
I remember having discussions about replacing the space with fewer desks, more storage and some nicer seating and comfortable areas. The reaction was (as expected) no, I need my own desk.
The staff in this office spent the majority of their working week teaching in classrooms, when they were not teaching, they wanted space to mark and prepare, research as well as somewhere to relax, drink coffee and discuss stuff with colleagues. They also needed space to store materials and resources, as well as student work. Their needs were being overshadowed by the need for their own space, a space they could call their own.
Documents To Go Premium – Office Suite – iPad App of the Week
This is a regular feature of the blog looking at various 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.
Download, view, edit & sync supported files from Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, iDisk & SugarSync directly in DocsToGo
Though I am a great fan of Pages and Keynote on the iPad, there is one app that I went out and bought in addition to them, and that was Documents To Go.
It is an app for viewing, creating and editing word processing document, spreadsheets and presentations. The focus is on working with Microsoft Office files.
Now there are two versions of Documents To Go, the standard version and the premium version. The standard version is £6.99, whilst the premium version is £11.99.
The standard Documents To Go app lets you:
View, edit & create Word files
View, edit & create Excel files
View PowerPoint, iWork, PDF and other files
Synchronize files with an included desktop application.
So if your workflow is focused on Word and Excel and you are happy with moving files either by your e-mail or using iTunes, then get the standard app.
You can either get the files from your e-mail, through iTunes or use the free desktop app to sync your files (through wifi) between the iPad and your computer.
Documents To Go Premium has the same functionality as “Documents To Go” but also lets you:
Edit & create PowerPoint files
View, edit & sync files stored in Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk & SugarSync
It’s nice to be able to edit PowerPoint files from the iPad and save them in the native PPT format. If you have to share and collaborate on presentations then importing them into Keynote and exporting them out again isn’t really an option. Documents To Go at least for most presentations works much better.
It was the final feature that was the dealbreaker for me, I do use Google Docs a lot and at the time I bought this App this was the only way to importantly read and edit Google Docs from the iPad.
You can now of course edit Google Docs from the browser (for free) but it isn’t an entirely user friendly experience and I still use Documents To Go for editing and creating Google Docs on the iPad.
However I do use Dropbox a lot and this functionality means I can easily view and edit files from my Dropbox.
You can upgrade the standard version with an in-app purchase but this will cost you an extra fifty pence!
The app is an universal app and therefore also works on the iPhone or the iPod touch. Due to the screensize I find this less satisfactory for creating and editing, but for viewing it is very useful.
If you, and I suspect, most people reading this do, need to deal with Office documents on a daily basis and you want to do this on your iPad then Documents To Go is the ideal application for this. I have not been disappointed with the app and it makes it much easier to deal with all those documents I seem to get in my e-mail.
I have to admit I am not sure if this is a logical next step or a backward one….
The following link was tweeted on Twitter about an Office Add-in for Moodle.
Uploading files to Moodle has never been easier. The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows teachers to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, teachers who use Office and Moodle have to switch back and forth between their web browser and Office applications. With the OAM, teachers can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications. You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.
So what do you need in order to start using the add-in? OAM does not require anything to be installed on the Moodle server (but note we only tested against Moodle versions 1.X-1.X). Anyone who is the teacher or owner of a Moodle course can install the add-in and access their documents. Once installed, the add-in adds two menu items to your File menu (Office 2003) or the Office Button menu: Open from Moodle and Save to Moodle. In order to browse course files on your Moodle you will need to first tell the add-in the address of your Moodle and the credentials you use to log in. Once added you can view the list of courses you are enrolled in. Naturally, students and others can access the content directly from Moodle as they normally would.
This makes it very simple for practitioners to add content to a Moodle course using tools they are familar with. They can use Office in the usual way, open files…
…and then save those files direct to Moodle.
Now this is great for those staff who upload Office documents to their Moodle courses, now they don’t even need to use a Web Browser…
However I do wonder if this is a forward step in making it easier to use VLE or a backward step with a focus on content and Office documents rather than open standards and engaging content.
Apple announced iPhone 3G yesterday in a keynote by Steve Jobs at the WWDC in San Francisco. It will be available in the UK on the 11th July.
New features include:
3G-capable. 2.8 times faster than EDGE.
Better battery life – 300 hours of standby, 2G talk-time 10 hours (as opposed to 5), 5 hours of 3G talk-time (competition is 3 hour 3G talk time), 5 to 6 hours of high-speed browsing, 7 hours of video, 24 hours of audio.
Flush headphone jack
Other new features are:
complete iWork document support
complete Office document support (now includes PowerPoint)
bulk delete and move for Mail
save images you receive
scientific calculator in landscape mode
I wonder if the Keynote (iWork) and PowerPoint support also allows you to show the presentation via an AV cable in the same way you can do at the moment with video and images.
It will be interesting to see also if iWork (or even Office) support includes editing and creating support, or is it just going to be reading, I suspect the latter.
Of course there are also all the features announced when the iPhone SDK was released earlier this year which include:
Exchange and ActivSync support
I do like the fact that an educational institution can put apps on the iPhone (or the iPod touch) without needing to go through the Apple checking process and the iTunes App store.
Downside is that you now need to activate the phone in store, so now unlocking just became a lot more expensive as you will have to buy into a phone plan as well as the phone.
Though you can create PDF files on a Mac, it is not always possible on a PC unless you have dedicated software. This is where online PDF creator sites can be very useful.
They are also useful if you for example have been sent or downloaded a Microsoft Publisher file and you have a Mac, or you don’t have Publisher on your Windows PC. They can take the Publisher .pub file and print it as a PDF.
One such site is PDF Online, which can convert a range of file formats (including Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Office) into a PDF which is then e-mailed to you.
I would suggest that if you do use such a service that you use a disposable e-mail address, or one that can be deleted later.
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.