Tag Archives: review

Inauguration – Weeknote #99 – 22nd January 2021

99 Flake
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

I have been working on proposals this week, which is always a challenging activity for me, as I need to be concise and succinct, whilst my default when it comes to writing is to be extended and I make extensive use of redundant terms.

In researching some news and links for a presentation on digital poverty I discovered this blog post by Daniel Stanford from March on low bandwidth teaching, which resonated with some of my thinking.  I had the day before published a blog post on my experiences in using consumer technology for teaching and learning, which looked at low bandwidth and synchronous teaching.

In the post I reflected that the key issue is rethinking the curriculum and the pedagogy. We have designed courses for in-person face to face teaching. Most of the time this has been converted (or translated) into a remote delivery format. It has not been converted to reflect the opportunities that online pedagogy can bring to the table. Even if it has then often the mobile pedagogy isn’t even thought about. Teaching and learning remotely is one thing, online teaching and learning is another, and mobile teaching and learning is different again. The solution appears to be a combination of redesigning the curriculum, to be a combination of low bandwidth, asynchronous type activities, alongside traditional live streaming, with option to deliver content to learners to access on their devices at a time and place to suit them.

Understanding where your learners are and how they will access teaching and on what device and connection is critical when it comes to successful curriculum design.

Daniel illustrated this idea of Bandwidth versus Immediacy through the following graphic.

Wonkhe on a similar note published this article on the same kind of subject.

Asynchronous learning gives students the chance to treat modules like box sets, bingeing or skipping as they see fit. Tom Lowe wonders what this might mean for learning.

I read this by Peter Bryant, which was published last week, on the snapback. He reflects on the changes that the pandemic has brought into higher education, but wonder what would happen when we can go back to in-person face to face teaching?

Whilst all these changes were borne out of the pandemic, would I want to go back to large didactic lectures, social isolation, mass exams and tutorials driven by repetition and memorisation? Firstly, that was never the exclusive way we taught, so many colleagues were doing amazing, innovative social pedagogies before and during the pandemic. But across the sector I reckon face to face lecture/tutorial/exam was a pretty dominant pathway for learning pre-pandemic. So, what happens when we can do those things again, face to face? What happens when we don’t have to worry about Zoom bombing, invasive proctoring solutions and the impersonality of online learning? Will we learn from this mess and value the ‘human interaction’ that a two-hour lecture using PowerPoint or a three-hour handwritten exam affords us?

Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019
Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019

With new safety protocols prompting design changes, traditional office spaces may be a thing of the past and this was explored in this article in The Guardian.

The pandemic has shown us that work can go on without a workplace. If it can be done online, it can be done from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. At the same time, however, the move to remote work has revealed the value of the workplace, as many employees hanker to return to the office. In light of these two opposing trends, what might the office of the future actually look like?

Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019
Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019

I had my mid-year review this week, and as with other reviews, these weeknotes have been useful in referencing some of my work. Seemed to go okay, which is nice. We reviewed my objectives, deleted a couple and added some more.

I had to write some notes for the Data Matters Conference, these I edited and published as an article on my blog.

Wednesday saw the inauguration of a new US President and hopefully a more positive future.

Private Eye Cover

In 2018, the government launched a review of post-18 education and funding, with the aim of ensuring that post-18 education gives everyone a genuine choice between high quality technical and academic routes, that students and taxpayers are getting value for money, and that employers can access the skilled workforce they need. This week the Government published a paper, that sets out an interim conclusion of the review, which responds to some of the key recommendations of the report of the independent panel led by Dr Philip Augar.

Coventry in January 2018

On Thursday I spent most of the day judging the University of Coventry Post-Graduate Researcher of the Year award. This did mean spending most of the day on Zoom. Quite exhausting, but quite a rewarding process. There were eight finalists, and each had to prepare a written statement, deliver a presentation and be interviewed. Challenging for this at the best of times, but more so with everything happening on Zoom. Hats off to Jennifer and Heather for some excellent organisation of the event, which made my contributions much easier to do.

discarded mask
Image by Roksana Helscher from Pixabay

It’s sobering to think that this week saw the highest daily death rate recorded from Covid. In the last seven days, 8565 people have died within 28 days of positive Covid test. On Wednesday we saw 1820 deaths. Putting that into perspective, that is more than 50% of the total deaths in The Troubles in Northern Ireland over thirty years! It is more deaths than the number of people who died on the Titanic in 1912. These are troubling times and it looks like it will be some time before we can think that the pandemic is over.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Nokia N810 – it’s not a phone!

A week or so back I managed to get my hands on a Nokia N810 as part of our MoLeNET project, one of many mobile devices we have got to support the project. These devices are for two main reasons, firstly from a learner support perspective, if they have them, how do they work and how does our mobile content play on them? Secondly to evaluate them from a college perspective so that if and when we get more mobile devices for our learners we can go with a device we have used, checked and know works. We can also use that information to advise and recommend devices to learners.

So what do I think of the Nokia n810?

Nokia N810 - it's not a phone!

So far I have been quite impressed with the Nokia N810, it is a neat smart device, which works as you expect it to work.

Browsing is good, as are other internet applications. It either uses wi-fi or you use a Bluetooth connection to your phone and use your phone’s 3G data connection. Thing to remember is that it is not a phone!

I found the keyboard though small, much easier and better than any mobile phone keypad for typing in text and the predictive text entry means you can go quite fast.

Haven’t yet tried video on the device as in an actual video file, tried it with an online video, BBC’s iPlayer, and the Flash video playback was very poor, jerky and unwatchable. I am guessing that is a similar reason why Apple have not implemented Flash on the iPhone and the iPod touch – though I have also heard it was more down to PDF reading and implementation!

Battery life is good and much better than a lot of UMPCs out there, so it has that going for it.

The Register has a really detailed and good review of the Nokia n810 on their website.

Nokia’s approach for the N810 is pretty simple: phone screens are too small for decent web browsing, so surely a separate portable device that has a bigger screen and Wi-Fi connectivity is needed for serious portable web access.

Their verdict?

Taken at face value, Nokia’s N810 not a bad box of tricks. For surfing the web, email and as an internet communication device it is a handy little gadget, while the operating system is easy to use, feature rich and robust. The relative abundance of software is another plus. But that lack of a SIM slot does niggle just a bit.

I believe that the Nokia n810 is a great portable internet device for learning and I really like it.

I don’t believe it is suitable as a device to give to learners, for two main reasons, number one it is expensive for what it does, two, it is too “delicate” and “stylish” and I don’t think it is robust enough to be given out to students in the way that a PSP or even an iPod touch could be given out.

“it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty”

The Guardian has reviewed the Sony VAIO UX1XN and found that though a wonderment of design, it is somewhat fiddly to use.

But delightful though this notebook is to look at and hold, it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty.

UX1XN

The review also mentions issues with the keyboard and the tablet input, which I both agree with.

… there’s the first disappointment – the keyboard. You wouldn’t want to do much more than tap out an email on it, as the size of the keys make it no good for touch-typing. Double-thumb input is feasible, but the tiny keys make it hard to be accurate.

and

The touchscreen is a nightmare. Fiddly to calibrate, it failed to retain its settings and eventually refused even to acknowledge that it was in fact a touchscreen. So I resorted to the pointing device.

I still think it is useful and not as flawed as the review makes out, and the more I use it, the more uses I find for it.

BBC Review Four Wifi Media Players

The BBC has published a review of four of the top wifi capable media players currently on the market.

The Sony PSP, the Nokia N800, the Archos 605wifi and (of course) the Apple iPod touch.

Gadget lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to portable media players, with an increasing number offering web access through wi-fi connections. We take a look at four different players – Sony’s PSP Slim, Archos 605wifi, Nokia’s N800 and the Apple iPod touch – and assess their strengths and weaknesses in different categories.

Their winner, well it’s only fair that you check out the article, but it doesn’t surprise me.