Very cool. An excellent Music/CDT video for your entertainment…
Not a fanboy. Please try to keep that in the back of your mind. Yes, I’m typing this on a Mac, yes I have an iPod. BUT I have an android phone, several windows PCs and a healthy understanding of the real world. So please, don’t think this is just a fanboy rant, it’s not. What it is, is an attempt to point out that we’re at a tipping point in education technology and that the next step, probably made by Apple at their product launch in San Francisco on Wednesday, could change everything.
We’ve had the iPad since the Summer of 2010, an incredibly thin device which uses a touch screen and can fit in an A4 envelope. It can access the web, seamlessly handle your email, manage your media content and a host of other tasks through a wealth of apps. As Steve Jobs used to say it’s “insanely great”. The iPad launched an industry wide rethink of what IT is, what it’s for and who should have it. Now just about every IT manufacturer has a tablet device, there are a variety of operating systems, and app development is a major growth industry. If you still think IT is sitting behind a massive grey box and a 15 inch CRT monitor or that Microsoft Word and spreadsheets is what the IT curriculum should teach you have missed this revolution completely.
Many schools have ridden the crest of this wave and already brought tablet computers into the classroom. Schools which issue their learners with their own iPads do exist. Units are being written as we speak allowing you to use tablet computers and mobile devices in art, music and media exams. Companies are already writing apps for classroom teaching, classroom management, assessment and support. The education tablet revolution has started but it it is, at the moment, in the hands of the enthusiast.
It is widely expected that Apple will launch a smaller version of their iPad on Wednesday (I’m not an Apple pundit myself, but Engadget and Macrumors will back me up here) as well as a larger phone, refreshed iMacs and iPods. It could be quite a day. The smaller iPad is a very interesting idea as it comes hot on the heals of the Kindle Fire and a host of other Android based tablet devices. A smaller screen would bring limitations but it would also bring a cheaper price and perhaps a price so compelling that buying a class set, or indeed one for every learner is financially wise. In the UK you can get an iPad for £329 from the apple store, it’s not the latest model but it’s cheaper than a typical PC laptop. The kindle Fire is £129, just how much would a smaller iPad cost?
The Apple argument will be that the iPad is the only real tablet proposition for schools as there are apps in place, robust app quality control and apps in every subject and for every use. Guaranteed learner engagement in a sleek, brushed aluminium case. Android and the new Windows operating system (which is just around the corner) might argue with that, but the condition is clear. If Wednesday goes the way the pundits are telling us, we may well be seeing the argument crashing on our desks this week.
If you are not going in this direction, parents will want to know why.
So, yet more tech is released and more things to keep up to date with in the world of book readers. I am of course refering to the new “Amazon Kindle Fire HD” which was released yesterday and can be bought through Amazon.co.uk right now. This is great news for the UK who have not had the full range of kindle products, some of which were available in the US only. The Fire HD is set to compete with the iPad. At £159 it is considerably cheaper though and puts a huge challenge down to apple to make their next offering as compelling. We should find out at the Apple product launch event next Wednesday… Sorry I digress.
Its eReaders which are interesting me today and in the Kindle range we have a number of models to tempt you. The Kindle, Kindle touch and Kindle keyboard, as well as the Fire and Fire HD. All at very compelling prices. How long will it be before eReaders are given away free? Not long I think.
Let’s also not forget the Nook and the other eReaders out there in the marketplace, a marketplace which is becoming crowded and confused.
My experience with my Kindle keyboard this Summer was great, I read Haruki Murakami’s IQ84 books 1 and 2 quite successfully on it, and then the family got hold of it for E L James’s 50 Shades of Grey and I never saw it again. There were loads of Kindles at the side of the pool as well as good old paperbacks and copies of the Sun. So the paperback is certainly not dead.
The thing that interested me though was that I saw no one younger than 30 using a Kindle. Everyone younger than 30 was glued to their phone. They may have been reading eBooks on them (indeed the Amazon App allows you to read your books on any device, not just kindle hardware) but they were more than likely texting, gaming, facebooking or youTubing. Kindles don’t have the coolness factor required to be seen in public with.
So should we be encouraging learners to use ebooks, paperbacks, phones or iPads (or Fire HDs)? Should we be spending our school budget on a set for each class? Is the mobile phone ban still a sensible strategy on school?
The important thing is that learners read, and enjoy reading and surely anything and any technology which encourages that is a good thing. I’m very tempted by the Fire and Fire HD to replace our iPad which is off to university in a week or so (one of our children will be accompanying it) as I doubt I will see the kindle again for as long as they publish 50 shades books…
My experience of rehearsal rooms when I was young was that the equipment would be ropey, your ears bled afterwards and would ring for days, and that you shouted so much that your throat was ruined for at least a week. Oh, and there was always a disgusting old sofa in the room somewhere.
I think those days might thankfully be over. This means you can rehearse with headphones on and control the mix you get without ruining everyone else’s experience. And no shouting, talk through the microphones at all times. That way you need never take them off while you rehearse.
The secret is “headphone busses”, normal mixing desks will provide you with one, maybe two or three headphone outs, which have their own controllable mixing sections. This device designs that feature up front. Each headphone out, has it’s own mini-mixer section allowing individuals to set exactly what they want to hear. without changing anyone else’s mix. These individual busses, yes, that is the word, give the JamHub its USP. Each feature is colour coded as well, meaning that if you are plugged into green, your sound will be on green right the way through the unit. Once you see the colour coding, it speaks for itself, not that the manual isn’t pretty good as well.
I’m guessing that cheaper versions will crop up soon, but I would council against trying to save money on these devices and urge you to teach how to use them safely and carefully before you let anyone rip them to shreds. They are solidly built, but tape two of them together any you’ve got a frisbee. As I’ve said elsewhere before, run a little course that trains people how to use them and rewards the right to have access to the equipment in lessons, breaks and lunchtimes. Having clued up and trained learners in the classroom will repay itself in no time.
Have a look at the JamHub website here for ideas on how they can be used in the classroom and experiment yourself. I much preferred using the JamHub to my Behringer mixer for practicing and I would be very interested to hear how you do use these in the classroom.
No money has changed hands and no promises made to JamHub or its distributors, but I would like to thank Steve, Andrew and Tony for the loan of the equipment.
It is a hard time to keep positive. You can easily get the feeling that no one likes the direction education is going in this country, no one thinks teaching is the profession it once was, no one thinks free schools are the future. But the holidays are here, the British Summer is just around the corner and the Jubilympics is just about to kick off. Yay!
I’ve spoken many times about how IT needs to revitalise the curriculum and the teachers themselves, and I thought I would share this link with you to let you see just what can happen when innovation and creativity are allowed to get on with it. I know it’s for a major US IT company who are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you focus on the potential for learning it has lots of interesting stuff. I love the Greene County video (bottom left), congratulations to them for getting their progression turned around, and for the way they pronounce “niche”.
So in this country we are banning phones, locking down computers, slashing budgets, getting in a pickle about what “rigour” actually is and demotivating an entire workforce. Don’t let them get away with it.
Here’s a cute little animation that goes a long way in explaining the Higgs Boson and the excitement out of CERN yesterday. Suitable I think for Secondary in general but just because I love this animation style of explaining things…
I went to a presentation evening at a secondary school last night and watched a senior teacher make what I consider to be a basic presentation blunder which should be a sackable offence. The stage was set with a projector centre font, showing the school logo and flooding the stage with light. As the platform party walked on, huge shadows were cast behind, large lumbering silhouettes of strangely shaped monsters and aliens, like that scene in ‘Close Encounters’.
The projector was used to show a slide show of the learners from the academic year which was put together quite well. After which the stage was cleared and the projector moved for the procession of learners to make their way to the stage to receive their awards. The projector and laptop were on a trolly which was simply wheeled out of the way… while the desktop was still projected, causing the video to blind the stage party and whoosh across the set like some doped out projection from a 1969 Pink Floyd gig. I should know, I was there. The trolly had to move about 10 metres and with each change of direction the image swooped and swirled across the stage. It looked highly amateur.
This is easily avoided. There is a button, probably on the remote control but also on the top of the projector called “A/V mute”. This temporarily silences any audio and turns the screen to black until you ‘un-mute’ with the same button. It’s a key tool during presentations, when you want the class to listen to you rather than to stare blankly at the screen, use this button. It’s a life saver. If there is no button, it might happen anyway, when you close the lens cover.
A further rule for giving presentations, please, the audience should never, ever, see your desktop…
…and don’t even get me started on the difference between “want” and “need”. The conversations recently have been “do I really need a laptop, should I get an iPad instead?” and I think I would walk away from that one too. iPads are just amazing things in the classroom, great to teach with, super practical, very slick and helpful. Perhaps the desktop machine is truly dead and the sensible choice is for a laptop and an iPad and we can re-claim the computer table. Perhaps we can chuck the computer desk out of the living room at last and use the space for a new radiogram.
The Windows version of the iPad looks good as well, have a search for “Windows Surface” and see what you can find.
That’s enough technology for a while…. honest.
Oh, and by the way, always make a back-up. Before you pass anything onto learners back up the disk to your laptop and keep it safe just in case something unfortunate happens… need I say more…
Another thing to consider is the syntax you might use when naming files. For example you might have the name of the learners but also a code which points to the class, task or project. One thing you don’t need in the title of course is the date, amazing how many times you see that. File names can be quite long if you want, usually up to 255 characters so enough for several names but consider initials or short names just to keep titles to 1 line on the desktop.
How long do you keep them? 1 term, a year? Do you burn them off onto a CD or DVD? Do the school have a policy on it? Photos are the property of the school so should be covered by procedures and processes somewhere.
O’Reilly are great supporters of the maker movement in the US and the UK as well and I’m sure they will be at the Derby Mini Maker Faire on Sunday 3rd of June. I can also highly recommend the Radar section of their website which is a great source of discussion and debate on publishing and the business side of O’Reilly publishing. I think there is lots there to occupy the mind for the future of text books, open source publishing, digital rights management and the like.
Another book I can strongly recommend from O’Reilly is The Best of Instructables Volume I which was a book almost exclusively written with me in mind!
Will we see you at Maker Faire Derby? Do let us know and share your pics on line in the comments section below or over at YouTube and don’t forget to subscribe.