Category: Education (page 51 of 56)

The end of power cables?

There’s an interesting article at BBC News about the potential for power to be transmitted wirelessly using resonant frequency. This could be extraordinarily useful! But, given the recent bad press about wi-fi, how much more of a potential hornet’s-nest is this?

Pageflakes Student Edition

Pageflakes Student Edition

Thanks to Aaron Smith’s reply to a post over at the NextGen Teachers forum I’ve been made aware of a educational version of Pageflakes. As a ‘personal start page’, Pageflakes as grown from an interesting curiosity for the less digitally-literate to a powerful and flexible solution.

Default page on Pageflakes (click to enlarge)

By default, there’s a grade tracker ‘flake’ along with ones for your class schedule, a to-do list and a calendar. You can add flakes (widgets) such as blogs, message boards and emails notifications easily, along with RSS feeds and ‘Pagecasts’ (shared pages from other users). This could be a great way of putting all the information a student needs for a course in front of them as soon as they log in!

To get started, you don’t even have to login. You can play around with the different widgets available, and then if and when you sign up they remain fixed. There are various colours available to theme your page, and you can add additional pages quickly and easily.

The pages you create can be kept private or they can be shared with others (‘Pagecasting’) and made public. There’s also a ‘Reader’ available for subscribing to RSS feeds en-masse. Overall, it seems like a great way to get students interacting with others online in a non-trivial way!

(Of course, Google have their new iGoogle personalised home pages, but for once I think that theirs is an inferior offering – too focused on entertainment and with a less quality ‘feel’)

Podcast directory

If you’re looking for inspiration or just a directory of educational podcasts, you could do worse than head over to Educational podcasts for teaching and learning. It’s a UK-based site but features podcasts from around the world, with them divided into sections dependent upon age. (via

Microsoft Surface: imagine the edtech possibilities!

Microsoft Surface

Last year at the TED Talks conference, Jeff Han demonstrated a multi-touch computing interface. “Wow!” I thought – as did others such as Tom Barrett, who was invited to give his educational views on a similar product. Now, it would appear, the dream is becoming a reality. Check out Microsoft Surface.

The example given is on a tabletop, but it could work equally well as an interactive whiteboard. The multi-touch functionality and built-in wireless connectivity makes for a really, really intuitive interface. It’s better to just watch a video to see what I mean! Try these:

(image from Read/Write Web)

Google Street View

 Google Street View

I reckon the Google HQ is populated with geographers. Think about it: there’s Google Earth, Google Maps and now Google Street View. This allows users to ‘step into’ places and view them in 360-degree panoramas. Geography teachers should have a field day with this!

At present, Google Street View is only available in Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. More info and images at Google Operating System.

Zonbu: the linux-based school computer of the future?


Zonbu is an emission-free linux-based computer which looks like it could be perfect for schools. It’s local storage is a mere 4GB CompactFlash card, but it’s main storage is via Amazon S3 – meaning between 25-100GB held remotely. As schools have always-on broadband connections with increasingly large bandwidths, this is a feasible solutions for most institutions.


With a two-year service plan, the Zonbu is $99. The service plans According to the website, the Zonbu features:

  • Silent operation
  • Power consumption equivalent to around a third of a lightbulb
  • 6 USB ports
  • 512MB RAM
  • Built-in ethernet
  • 20 applications pre-installed and continually backed-up
  • Automatic upgrades to the OS, applications and drivers
  • Automatic remote backups
  • A choice of storage, between 25Gb and 100GB
  • Access to your files from anywhere (via Amazon S3)
  • Free same-day replacement Zonbu if it fails within the first 3 years
  • A recycling programme to dispose of the Zonbu at the end of its life

Specs and more pictures are available here. I’ve asked for a review unit to be sent to me – we’ll see what happens…


coRank: make your own edtech Digg clone

There have been a few attempts by the edtech community to build a Digg clone. None have been particularly successful. That’s why I’m not going to be using coRank to ‘create my own social news site’. That’s not to stop you making one, however, and then letting me know about it… 🙂

Google Calendar now mobile

Google Calendar

The Google Blog has recently announced that Google Calendar is now mobile phone-friendly. Simply visit on your mobile device and a screen similar to the one above will be presented to you.

What has this to do with educational technology? Well, as I’ve mentioned before over at, Google Calendar can be employed as a powerful and convenient lesson planning tool. However, there are times when your desktop access to the Internet is down. At my current school, that’s quite often. Being able to check your lesson plans on your mobile is perfect!

Coursework 2.0

Web 2.0

It’s coursework trips for my Year 10 GCSE History students this week. School trips have been the same for decades, but I can’t help but think there are ways in which they could be improved. Here’s three suggestions:


1. Use Twitter to stay in touch with students

The great thing about Twitter is that it has the potential to send free SMS messages to mobile phones without the sender having to know the phone number of the recipient. This isn’t the place for a step-by-step guide, but the process would go something like this:

  • Teacher signs up for Twitter account
  • Teacher goes to ‘Settings’, enters phone number and confirms via SMS.
  • Students sign up for Twitter accounts
  • Students go to teacher’s Twitter home page and add them to their network
  • Students add mobile numbers to their Twitter accounts
  • Students choose to be updated via SMS when someone in their network posts something to Twitter

This would solve the problem of quickly and easily getting messages to whole classes or groups on school trips. Of course, for one trip it might be a bit of a hassle, but think about if you had it set up to remind them about homework as well… 🙂


2. Create a wiki to record experiences

Wikis are great things to use with students anyway, given that they encourage collaboration and show that information and knowledge should be used for a specific purpose. They come into their own, however, when used for such things as recording experiences from coursework trips.

Students are likely to remember and record different things. They can add their experiences, ideas and thoughts to the wiki to share with others. Further research can be done, and knowledge specific to that trip can be created.


3. Encourage students to share photographs and geotag them

Most students nowadays are going to use the digital cameras built into their mobile phones to record things. Having a 2 megapixel camera in your phone these days is not something to brag about. My new one, for example, is 5 megapixels! These can then be sent via Bluetooth to a teacher/central repository on the bus on the way back from the trip.

Alternatively, or additionally, they could be sent directly to a service such as Flickr with pre-set tags. These could all be shared using an embedded slideshow, made possible through the use of tools such as flickrSLiDR. The really exciting thing is the automatic geotagging of photographs. My new Nokia N95, for example, has GPS built in, so can do this on-the-fly. Great stuff, and a good way to share visual resources.



MindMeister, a web-based mindmapping application, is now out of beta and looks pretty useful. The basic version is free, although you are limited to 6 mindmaps. The premium version is $4.16/month (paid yearly) and includes unlimited maps, removal of advertising, exporting to Freemind and Mindmanager file formats, along with the ability to embed mindmaps in blogs/other websites. Every new user gets one month’s free access to the premium features.

With Skype integration and a really nice, clean Web 2.0 layout, this could be a winner!