Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fun On Tuesday

For my Fun On Friday Advent posts, I was looking for a decent Christmas themed game but didn't manage to find one... until today.

I wish I'd found the Noddy Holder's Snowball Challenge last week. Still, better late than never?

And as if one game wasn't enough, Planet Rock offer us a chance to throw snowballs at Rick Wakeman.

Typical... you wait all season for a game and then two come along at once!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fun on Friday #53: NORAD Tracks Santa

For the last Friday in Advent, I refer you to the American military. In particular, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) who are performing a public service by tracking Santa as he travels the world delivering toys.

As well as tracking Santa, they also give an insight into what's happening in Santa's village as Christmas approaches.

As an added bonus, (I've mentioned it already this year): have a go at my Christmas Calculations page.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fun on Friday #52: Practical Christmas task

Christmas is always a bit hectic. Concerts, performances, activities, shopping, eating, carol services, ... Too busy to find the time to try this craft, which is a pity because the end result looks stunning:

How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake

If you have more time than me, I'd love to see what you produce.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Saw a great post today on the new Facebook Privacy settings policy: Facebook privacy settings: What you need to know. It makes interesting reading (and watching as there is an embedded video).

Te blog's author, Graham Cluley, gives excellent advice on the settings you should use on facebook. In fact, he gives good general advice, for example, he admits to lying about his date of birth on facebook. This is a tactic I've adopted for some time on a variety of sites that insist I give them my date of birth. Often I can see that they need to know I am over a certain age but I don't see why most of them need to know my date of birth. Surely a check box to assert that I am the appropriate age (is it fourteen for facebook?) is effectively fulfilling the same function?

I was pleased to see that I had already set my privacy settings to the levels he suggested. Also, just to reassure myself, I had a look to see what I had filled in on my profile and again was pleased to see I had omitted most of the more sensitive information anyway. Having said that, I am aware that I have been using the Internet a long time and I am sure there is information out there that I have revealed in the past that I probably wouldn't reveal now.

For a slightly different take on the same issue, can I recommend The Joy of Tech.

What do you think? Storm in a privacy teacup? Is it a case of, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mobile phones and teenagers

I saw a link to an American study on teenagers' use of phones. The headline was Teens Use Phones to Cheat which is a shame since the study seems to say a lot more than this simplistic summary would suggest. It looks like the poll is based on the responses of American teenagers but I wonder if UK teens would be any different?

A longer report on the poll is given at the Common Sense Media site. On the cheating issue, it notes that 35% of students interviewed admitted to using mobile phones to cheat and over half cheat using the Internet. I must admit that I haven't read the more extended report which the site also provides but I wonder what the statistics were for cheating pre mobile phones? Students have always tried to beat the system but has mobile phone and Internet use led to an increase in cheating?

The other aspect of the report summary that struck me comes from the Benson Strategy Group site:
"The findings also reveal a split in perception between teens and parents: Only 23% of parents whose children have cellphones think they are using them at school; 65% of students say they do."
I suspect my parents don't know the half of what I got up to at school and I'm sure that I am equally in the dark about my own children's activities at school. New technology but an old problem?

I may come back to this once I've had a look at the full report but in the meantime, what do you think?

Monday, December 07, 2009

iPhone Apps

I wrote about the potential of of the iPhone in education in The iPhone and the Scientist but at the time, I didn't have an one myself. I now have an iPhone (I tried to type that without being smug... I failed) so I thought it was time I returned to the subject of iPhone apps.

FaceGoo Lite
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
I'm not promising that all the apps I mention here will be educational but I wanted to mention a few that I have downloaded and that have, so far, stuck on my iPhone. I've only paid for one app - so much is available for free, I've not felt the need to splash the cash!

When I first got my iPhone, I asked my Twitter network, what Twitter app I should get. Various apps were suggested and I tried a few of them but the one that stuck was TweetDeck. It's TweetDeck I use on my desktop, so it seemed to make sense to use it on my iPhone too. It syncs with the desktop version, its columns work like the desktop version and works well in the limited screen real estate provided by the iPhone.

Next I asked for advice on essential apps. Mr W was one of the quickest off the mark and recommended Ragdoll Blaster (a free, Lite, version is available), Spotify (a brilliant desktop application which works as expected on the iPhone), Civilization Revolution Lite (a game I've not played but I cannot get daughter number three to stop playing!) and Ukulele (which I can't find... I always meant to ask him what he meant).

Ian was next, and he recommended seven apps but I'm ashamed to say that the only one I have tried so far is AudioBoo - but it is excellent. I've used it to post to EduTalk already and hope to use it a lot more in the near future.

A few others that I use regularly are:
  • Evernote - This looks really promising as a way of collecting a range of stuff together, save, organise, share between different machines, ... brilliant.
  • Pic2shop - Point the camera at a barcode (of say a book or a CD) and this app will identify the product and find it on the web for you. Brilliant!
  • MetrO - This is amazing. A free app with a guide to the public transport systems in over 400 cities. I used a version of this on my previous phone and it guided us safely all round Paris.
There are a few more I wanted to mention but I've run out of time just now. I'll try to do a post on photography apps soon but before going, I must mention FaceGoo Lite which is responsible for the masterpiece above. Great fun.

Finally, a site that I've found to be a great source of apps to try is Free App Alert. It does what it says on the tin and gives a new list of free apps to try every day.

Do you have any apps you want to recommend?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fun on Friday #51: It's time to put up the decorations

Time to decorate your desktop with some Christmas lights:
I'm sure I used to have a link to a completely free Windows lights application but can't find it this year... If you know where find one, let me know.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The BEds Get Animated

This is the last post, for now, on the work of the BEd Computers, Creativity and Education class. The final session was on stop-motion animation. (For the other posts, see The BEd Students Tell A Story and The BEds are back... and this time they're podcasting.)

As with many of the other sessions, we started with a brief presentation on the value of pupils creating animations and its potential educational value. There was then a quick demonstration of the animation software - we used the wonderfully simple, yet very powerful, I Can Animate. The students then formed into two groups and started work.

In the space of about 80 minutes, they had to film their animation and then import it into iMovie. In iMovie they added sound effects, music and titles. Given the time constraints they were working under, I think both groups produced fun animations that tell a story. Hopefully they will have seen that, although it is time consuming, the ICT skills required to create an animation are not hugely complex.

If you have any suggestions or examples on how animation can be used effectively, please leave a comment. I am sure the students would be glad to hear from you.