This week I learned to make my freakin’ mind up and stick to it, that there’s a lot to be said for not putting yourself in positions you know are going to be frustrating, and that you’re onto a losing battle when you try to reason with a 3-year old. :-p
Need some feedback from others? Apart from using BetterMe, here’s some top tips!
We all get bored sometimes, but it’s how you deal with it that matters. Here’s 6 pieces of advice (I like the advice r.e. ‘being a journalist’ – what about a social anthropologist?!)
Education & Academic
Michael Gove, the prophet of doom UK Education Secretary, has outlined how the setting up of Free Schools is going to work. If, as he reckons, it leads to parents and teachers setting up schools in the most disadvantaged areas, I’ll eat my metaphorical hat.
YouTube launched an online video editor this week. Hopefully, this will mean the demise of the awful, crash-prone, but seemingly-loved-by-teachers Windows Movie Maker:
The Angry Technician reminded me this week why, in many ways, I don’t miss being the resident techie in a school.
I don’t know if anyone else spotted it, but it’s the beginning of the end of estate agents in the UK. This week Google announced that you can now hunt for properties for sale via Google Maps. As soon as there’s an easy mechanism for getting your house on there yourself, it’s game over.
You can get a refund for iTunes store purchases. Here’s how.
This week I learned that not being contactable is actually quite nice sometimes, to always back up the contacts on my SIM card, and too much stuff to list here from ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever. 🙂
The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties—something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. We leave a movie theater vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film’s values. Yet by the following evening, our experience is well on the way to dissolution, like so much of what once impressed us: the ruins of Ephesus, the view from Mount Sinai, the feelings after finishing Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.
Need a simple, elegant to-do list? Clutterpad might help!
Education & Academic
I like the sound of Trebor Scholz. Not only has he got a sweet name (geddit?) but he rejects the ‘digital natives’ label and gets students even in large lecture classes to produce publication-quality books. Awesome.
Education is about the future. Educators aim to prepare young people for the future and to support them to fully participate in all aspects of civic, cultural, social, intellectual and economic life. It is therefore important for young people to be given opportunities to think carefully about that future and their role in it.
The Futures Thinking Teaching Pack supports teachers and learners to develop approaches to exploring the future that are not about making predictions, but about considering possible, probable and preferable futures in order to support action and decision making in the present.
The pack, which is closely linked to National Curriculum requirements, engages Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 students in grounded inquiry into current trends and possible futures. The activities in the pack encourage students to critically examine their place in the world, the structures and features that bring about the societies they live in, their own beliefs and their agency in shaping their preferable future.
Repairing the world is not about individual virtue; instead, it’s a design problem. Bacigalupi wouldn’t have to fly to the American Library Association meeting if America had decent, comprehensive high-speed rail (which is certainly not zero-net, but is less harmful than flying). People wouldn’t pour so much surplus income into goods if they could jaunt down to the Neighborhood Share Center for shareable tools or toys or camping equipment.
My wife and I finished watching the last episodes of Lost this week. We’ve been watching it most of our married life and tend to like to watch it in a concentrated period of time after obtaining the whole series (we’ve done the same with 24, Prison Break, Flash Forward, etc.) I’m delighted, therefore, to find out that there’s going to be an epilogue on a forthcoming DVD about how Hurley deals with being the ‘chosen one’ on the island! 🙂
open source blindness n. the tangerine-slice glow of summer sun through closed eyelids, which is your body’s way of telling you that the drawbridge obscuring your emotions from the world is about as effective as peekaboo.
Like the bar chart above, this is something that should probably go in the design/infographics section. Kayak have got an awesome mashup that shows you visually how much it costs to travel to various places:
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. (Martin Luther King)
You know how many committees we have at Apple? Zero. We’re organized like a startup. We’re the biggest start up on the planet. (Steve Jobs)
The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work. (Michael Jackson)
The smaller the mind the greater the conceit. (Aesop)
Your life is what your thoughts make it. (Marcus Aurelius)
I’ve learned this week that there’s a sweet spot between gut instinct and meticulous research when it comes to most things, especially gadget-buying. I’ve also learned that cous cous is a viable lunch option. :-p
Lifehacker reports that scientists have confirmed that your anxiety levels are raised when someone’s phone goes off who has the same ringtone as you. So don’t be the loser who still has the CTU ringtone from 24. Get something individual. I’ve now got the music from Super Mario when Mario got the star of invincibility. No copying! 😉
I doubt ‘data life’ in the future will actually look like this. But the concept’s cool.
Being an introvert isn’t abnormal, doesn’t mean you haven’t got social skills, and isn’t linked to depression. That’s why you need to care for your online introvert.
Seth Godin reckons there’s different voices inside your head trying to get you to do various things. Which is one way of thinking about it, I suppose, from a getting-more-stuff done point of view. I’d like to think that my ‘artist’ and ‘evangelist’ voices shout loudest, but I fear it’s often the ‘lizard’ and the ‘zombie’!
Over at alternaview they’re proposing the ’30 day challenge’ to get stuff done. Which is kind of like my ‘calling myself into the office’ idea, except it sounds better. :-p
The excellent timelines.tv site has been relaunched with some new content. If you’re a History teacher, or just interested in history, check it out!
To continue with the History theme, Historypin is an awesome augmented reality mashup of old pictures and Google Streetview. Makes me wish I was back in the classroom…
There’s now a Google Docs demo site up, which should help you influence the influencers in your school/organization! (implementing Google Apps was one of the best things I did in my previous position as Director of E-Learning)
Data, Design & Infographics
This visualization of supercomputers across the world by the BBC is worth playing with (it’s interactive on their site). Click on ‘OS’… :-p
In the UK we call them motorways, in Germany they call them autobahns, and in the USA they call them freeways. Whatever you call them, it’s annoying when the traffic on them slows down for seemingly no reason. This well-designed graphic explains how that happens:
Weather Tower is an awesome idea. The colour of the building indicates the forecast of tomorrow’s weather. Simple. Effective.
I learned so much from attending the Thinking Digital conference for 2.5 days this week that I’ll have enough for several blog posts when I eventually go through my notes! What’s below is what I learned apart from those times that I was in the magnificent Sage in Gateshead. 🙂
I learned lots and had a great time at the bMoble Conference in Bradford on Thursday. Shame I didn’t get home until 1.30am the next morning due to trains being massively delayed at every connection! My 7-minute micropresentation went down very well at the associated TeachMeet, presenting using the Lessig method. I’m going to try and sync the video stream and my slides when I get time! 😀
Futurelab is partnering with HP to launch the Catalyst Initiative. As part of this, Futurelab has been invited to facilitate the ‘Pedagogy 3.0’ consortium. They’re taking applications to be part of it. The aim is to:
explore new models of teacher preparation that will better equip teachers to facilitate powerful 21st century STEM learning experiences for students. Projects engage new teachers during their pre-service and induction years, and involve in-service master teachers, teacher education faculty, and engineering/science content experts and faculty.
Zooburst is a 3D, augmented reality storytelling tool that I think educators are going to love! Example below from Alan Levine (hint: try clicking & dragging!):
This weekend I’m in Edinburgh with my wife, Hannah, to celebrate 10 years of being together (hence this being a bit shorter than usual!) I’ve learned a lot about many things over those years – but that’s a whole other post… :-p
I learned this week that no-one reads Twitter bios. Not really, anyway. It took over 5 days for someone to notice that I’d changed mine from something useful and descriptive to ‘Middle Eastern arms dealer’. 😉
Also, people are very helpful when you say you’re affiliated with JISC. Oh, and I’ve learned how to do the Super-Hula properly on Wii Fit, you’ll be pleased to find out… 😉
I am genuinely more excited about this tablet computer than I am about the Apple iPad. Why? It’s got a Pixel Qi transreflective screen for a start…
“The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed” William Gibson is famously quoted as saying. Robert Scoble witnessed the idea first-hand this week and blogged about it in a bit of a useful link-fest.
Need to add widgets and stuff to your website and don’t know how to code? try Stiqr!
There are some short blog posts by Seth Godin you just have to quote in full. This one (Where do you find good ideas?) about inspiration is one of them:
Do you often find ideas that change everything in a windowless conference room, with bottled water on the side table and a circle of critics and skeptics wearing suits looking at you as the clock ticks down to the 60 minutes allocated for this meeting?
If not, then why do you keep looking for them there?
The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions, not a grinding corporate onslaught. And yet we waste billions of dollars in time looking for them where they’re not.
A practical tip: buy a big box of real wooden blocks. Write a key factor/asset/strategy on each block in big letters. Play with the blocks. Build concrete things out of non-concrete concepts. Uninvite the devil’s advocate, since the devil doesn’t need one, he’s doing fine.
On a personal note, I learned that people really don’t know that their hacked email account is repeatedly spamming others unless you tell them, that customer service is still a completely alien concept to some businesses, and that before placing it in the washing machine it’s best to check pockets of running gear for MP3 players, headphones and the like… 😮
There’s also a great interview by Chris with Thomas Hawk, a guy who wants to take one million (yes, 1,000,000) gallery-standard photographs before he dies. And he’s Creative Commons-licensing them all. Legend.
I’m always interested in the workspaces of productive and/or generally brilliant people. Ever wondered what Einstein’s desk looked like? Here’s a photo taken a few hours after his death:
Please don’t annoy Seth Godin. Do these 8 things to be more efficient/less annoying to him (and everyone else) when it comes to email.
Ning announced recently that they would no longer host social networks for free. Which was going to happen sooner or later and seemed to rock the education world a little more than it should. If you’re someone looking for an alternative, I suggest BuddyPress or Elgg (both are free and Open Source)
I include this somewhat under protest, but if you’re a teacher forced to use PowerPoint for whatever reason, and you’re being upgraded to the 2010 version, then I suppose you should probably read this.
On a personal note, I learned just how delicate the balance is that keeps our world ‘normal’ (think volcanic ash cloud) and that the gadgets which provide the most satisfaction are those where you identify a problem, research solutions, and then make your purchase. :-p
I found this presentation about perceptions of the role of technology in 2020 interesting – especially the shift over the last 10 years in attitudes to the internet ‘endangering reading’:
Stuart Ridout wrote a useful post about spotting email hoaxes this week after his mother-in-law got scammed. Even my wife had to come and ask me yesterday after a professional-looking email from HM Revenue & Customs claimed she was due a £1000 tax refund. Some might call this ’email literacy’. I wouldn’t be one of those people. I call it ‘digital common sense’. 😉
Not too sure whether to follow a given individual on Twitter? Try foller.me! (which says this about me – including the following Twitter follower map)
My colleague @andystew shared this video with me this week. Sometimes, even if you’ve planned things up to the hilt, you just have to steam on in there. LLLLLLEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYY JJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNKKKKKKKIIIIINNNNNNNNSSSSS!!!!!
Football Manager came out for the iPhone this week. And I bought it. And still remained productive. Check. Me. Out. (context: I almost failed my GCSEs, A Levels and degree because of various iterations of this game – it’s that addictive…)
Will Richardson linked this week to a Cisco-sponsored report entitled Learning from the Extremes. Much as I found We-Think by co-author Charles Leadbeater a tortuous and platitude-riddled affair, I’m looking forward to going through the report in more detail. A great point is made on p.16 about it not being education we need to reform but society:
Spreading learning is not just a question of providing more teachers and schools. A parallel process of social and cultural change is critical, so that learning is taken more seriously at home and in society. An educated society does not just have an effective school system; it has a culture that values learning.
There’s also great advice – and a quotation from Socrates – in Harold Jarche’s post ‘Shape Patterns, Not Programs’. If only the following were universally acknowledged:
Consider how one rears children. They are not little machines waiting to be directed by higher headquarters. They are people learning how to be free and responsible citizens. Their future emerges; it is not designed.
Data, Design & Infographics
The Infographics Showcase aims to collect the best infographics and data visualizations on the web, including this motion graphic on wine-making:
The following infographic shows how much artists earn for various ways of listening to their music (of course, if you buy a CD you’re paying the artist once to listen to it thousands of times; with Spotify you’re paying the artist each time you listen – via your subscription):
(click on image to see full – very tall – version)
Processing is an Open Source programming language and environment for making kick-ass visualizations. There’s a great guide to getting started with it here. I’ll be going through this over the next few days so watch this space!
A big mark of privilege is that social and economic networks tend to facilitate goals, rather than block them. This makes it easier to ignore the social and economic networks around us; and it makes it easier for the privileged to imagine their accomplishments are the result of their own pure merit. Imagine two roads: one smooth, well-paved, well-maintained, the other lumpy and full of cracks and pits. Most people will drive over the smooth road without even noticing it – but that doesn’t mean that the smooth road hasn’t facilitated their driving. Nor does it mean that the person driving on the smooth road has more merit, as a driver, than someone stuck on pothole avenue.
Full disclosure: after mentioning Learning Score in a previous post (and raving about its potential) I was kindly given a free copy of the latest version, courtesy of John Davitt and Tribal. This was done on a no-strings-attached basis and does not influence the positive or negative points I make below.
Lesson planning is a difficult thing to learn to do well; it’s even more difficult to teach others to do effectively. The idea of coming up with learning objectives and success criteria before dealing with specific activities is a difficult one to get used to. And then there’s all of the other things to get right:
The list goes on…
So that’s why I was overjoyed (yes, overjoyed) when I saw Learning Score. It’s described as a multi-media lesson planning and delivery tool and I believe it to be invaluable for:
Planning your own lessons
Sharing your lessons (and associated resources) with others
Modelling good practice
As you can see from the video at the top of this post, it’s extraordinarily intuitive and easy-to-use. The metaphor used is a musical score, a perfectly befitting one as a well-planned and executed lesson is like beautiful music played by a symphony. 🙂
In an improvement from the previous version, you can add up to 6 tracks, meaning that you can rectify the strange situation where ‘props’ are available to be added at the bottom of the screen but, by default, there’s nowhere to put them!
You create your lesson in ‘Edit’ mode and then, when ready for delivery (and after saving, of course) you click ‘Play’ to enter delivery mode. This has a timer function to keep you on track, but to be honest I find that learning goes off at so many tangents sometimes that the lesson plan is merely a statement of intent. The timer’s not that useful to me, but may be to trainee teachers for reassurance.
Double-clicking on the resources in ‘Play’ mode allows you to view/listen/access them within Learning Score. For obvious reasons, the filetypes available are limited. With videos, for example, only SWF and FLV files can be used. If you’re fond of using downloaded YouTube clips, this presents no problem at all. If you’ve got a bank of high-quality MP4 files, on the other hand, you’re going to either have to get transcoding or play them outside of Learning Score.
I love the whole concept of Learning Score: the way that it liberates you from having to use just text, which often can constrain ideas – and therefore creativity. I really like the way that, if you choose, you can package up all of your resources inside Learning Score, ready for delivery. And then, again if you choose, export them, share them with colleagues, or add via SCORM-compliance to your schools’ Learning Platform.
I admire the powerful simplicity of Learning Score, the way in which you can very quickly build up a lesson by focusing on learning rather than just keeping students busy. I find the interface intuitive, fairly lightweight and flexible. I like the ability to add annotations. In short, if a site is created to be able to share the resulting .lsz files (I’ve been told it’s in the works) then I can see Learning Score taking off. Big style. 😀
Areas for development
But Learning Score isn’t perfect. There are still some things I’d like to see improve. For example, although I can customise activities and props after dragging them onto the score, I haven’t figured out a way of adding to them so that they appear by default. And having only 30 characters for the main learning objective is nowhere near enough!
My second problem is the proprietary nature of the file format it produces. To a great extent this is the nature of the beast: it’s a new, fairly revolutionary tool. But the ability to read and write the file formats using (potentially) other applications would be a boon. It would reassure me as an educator that I’ll always be able to access my own lesson planning in future.
And finally, although the whole point of Learning Score is lesson planning and delivery in a very visual and multimedia kind of way, sometimes it’s necessary to print things out. Unfortunately this is what a wonderfully-crafted and visual Learning Score looks like when exported to text format ready for printing. Not pretty.
I highly recommend Learning Score. It’s an application that, had I not very kindly been given a free copy, would definitely have purchased for myself. It not only serves as an awesome way to plan your own lessons (and meetings, projects…) but to demonstrate in a very hands-on, visual way how colleagues and trainee teachers can do likewise!