Friday, 29 August 2008

Improving Reading and Retention Skills

As part of student induction it is useful to teach some basic tasks like time management, library use and getting out of bed in the morning.

Download Squad have a pointer to a rather useful application that helps improve reading and retention skills. That can only help improve results.

Speed Read : Improve Your Reading and Retention Skills - Download Squad
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Thursday, 28 August 2008

Flash Based eLearning

Adobe Flash CS3 Professional IconImage via Wikipedia
Flash is a tremendous tool but not even its best friends would describe it as user-friendly. That's a shame as some of its features are perfect for eLearning purposes.

To address this Adobe have posted some easy instructions for creating Flash based quizzes that are even SCORM compliant.

This works really well and the quizzes can be slightly more student friendly (or flashy if you'll excuse the pun) than some other tools produce.

Flash Based eLearning from Adobe
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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Mac Educational Applications Bundle

Mac OS logoImage via Wikipedia MacUpdate do a daily offer for Mac software at vastly reduced prices.

The offer today is especially good containing ten applications aimed towards education including:

  • Hookup
  • Alarm Clock Pro
  • Periscope
  • DevonAgent
  • Mellel
  • Norrkross Movie
  • Bookend
for just $49.99. I think that's about two jam jars in our money.

If enough bundles are sold MacJournal, Contactizer Pro and LightZone are added. This is a great deal that you should jump on.

Today's MacUpdate Promo, 40% off
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Monday, 25 August 2008

Now I Know What Students Use...

Caucasian, male, aging, crooked teeth, messy h...Image via Wikipedia I can't think of a good way to use this site but its "functionality" is too good not to share. Here, then, is my previous post run through the superb anti-AI of Unintelligencer:

One o' thee mos common questions asked bye students oan an graphics course is "Cans I tkaes mah bitmap photo and mayk itz an editable vector graphic?". Well, too be precise ff' question is moar yooshuallee phrased, "Ewe know em pictures ah took. Hao dae a git them phae thae mad dots n tew lines'n'that?" Apologies phoar tha poor transliteration.

Gratuishus attacks onna students asside thiz web site allows you 2 upload a bitmap and has it converted too vectors online. Gud pho de odd translation job iffn you don't have one the commericial (rede ekspensiv) techniques to hand.

All comments saying that this version is clearer should be sent to
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Bitmap -> Vector Conversion - Free and Online

Example showing effect of vector graphics vers...Image via Wikipedia
One of the most common questions asked by students on a graphics course is "Can I take my bitmap photo and make it an editable vector graphic?". Well, to be precise the question is more usually phrased, "You know them pictures ah took. How dae a get them fae they mad dots in to lines'n'that?" Apologies for the poor transliteration.

Gratuitous attacks on students aside this web site allows you to upload a bitmap and have it converted to vectors online. Good for the odd translation job if you don't have one of the commercial (read expensive) techniques to hand.

Vector Magic | Precision Bitmap to Vector Conversion Online
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Friday, 22 August 2008

Online Application Tutorials Writer word processor. OpenOffice.Image via Wikipedia
I don't think I could have written a better post describing the best application tutorial sites available.

So I won't.

WebWorkerDaily » Archive Free Tutorial Sites for Honing Your App Skills «
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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Adobe Acrobat Tools for Education

Latest PDF File IconImage via Wikipedia Adobe have released a set of resources to create electronic portfolios, digital assessments, and lesson plans with Acrobat.

It's a bit too Americanised for my taste but you might be able to use some of the techniques. Go check it yourselves.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Which Software?

Barack Obama: A mosaic of peopleImage by tsevis via Flickr
Everyone in education is currently making decisions on what software to use. Which manufacturer? What product? Which version?

It's about time we simply said no more and switched to online versions of software like Photoshop Express or Splashup. No more investment in software that will simply become outdated before it's out of the box. No more installation problems.

What could go wrong?

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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Binary in Computer Architecture

Visual explanation of a binary clock.Image via Wikipedia
The architecture course is almost universally disliked by students. This has nothing to do with reality but is instead rooted in the idea that it will be, and I quote, "pure,dead hard like".

One tool I'll be using to help explain different number systems is this binary clock application. Working in the same way as the binary watches that are widely available at Geeks'R'Us it shows the time using simulated LEDs. If nothing else it should be good for a fun five minutes in class.

Binary Clock
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Friday, 15 August 2008

Rating Rats

Rat (zodiac)Image via Wikipedia
At the SFEU conference in June the most provocative presentation by far was by Ron Dillin concerning PIs (performance Indicators) in Computing. In fact, the session was so provocative that we're having a full day (18th of September) to discuss it.

Researching the topic to get a handle on the types of presenters we would need and the discussions they would generate led me to think of the rating systems itself. Which naturally reminded me of the Rat Experiment.

If you haven't come across it before have a read - it might be germane to the problem...

The Rat Experiment : Productivity501
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Pecha Kucha

Douglas Adams in his first Monty Python appear...Image via Wikipedia
Pecha Kucha: Get to the PowerPoint in 20 Slides Then Sit the Hell Down

Like all of you I have sat through my share of interminable PowerPoint presentations wishing, in the words of the late, great Douglas Adams, that the presenter's "own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization" would leap "straight up through his neck and throttle his brain".

That has never happened.

Instead, perhaps we could make sure that presentations follow the rules of Pecha Kucha. These are:
  • You have exactly twenty slides
  • Each slide is displayed for exactly twenty seconds
  • One they're done you sit down
Be honest, wouldn't you just love presenters to have done enough ground work to follow those rules instead of rattling on about nothing, nothing, at all? I think I'll try it for my next presentation.

The revolution starts here...

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Victory for Open Source

Copyright symbolImage via Wikipedia
US Court rules in favor of "open source" copyright - Download Squad

Being a bit of an old hippy I'm keen on open source. The problem is that, in America, nothing is accepted until they've had a load of over-paid lawyers argue about it in court.

Fortunately that has now happened and open source copyright has now passed the Perry Mason test making it as legal as things get in the US.

This might smack of angels on pins but it is really important: it means that those who spend a lot of time and effort on production can expect their rights to be protected - even if the only right they want is to be recognised.
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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

OneNote for Education

Microsoft OfficeImage via Wikipedia
Microsoft Education Product Center: Microsoft Office OneNote 2007

I've never really got in to OneNote, Microsoft's free format note taking software. It looks fun but I've just not had time to really put it through its paces.

The new site from Microsoft might change that with its Teacher Toolkit containing templates and articles.

Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments. You might even convert me.
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HND Computer Games Development

Scottish Qualifications AuthorityImage via Wikipedia SQA Computing blog: HND Computer Games Development

Just back and straight in to the swing of things. Tuesday involved a trip to Edinburgh to talk about the proposed HND in Computer Games to supplement the HNC. The day went well and things look positive for the development.

I must be getting old as, instead of pushing for the latest up to date gadgetry to be involved in the new award, my input seemed focussed more on what's good for the learner and for the centres.

Bottom line I think we need to ensure that we have as much cross award compatibility as possible enabling the students to switch to another award such as Software Development or Technical Support, and to allow the centres to in-fill classes to make them viable.

We'll see what happens over the next eighteen months or so.
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