Friday, January 29, 2010

Fun on Friday #57: Who's in charge here?

This is great fun. If you enjoy it half as much as me, then I'll have enjoyed it twice as much as you!

Animator vs Animation

What do you think?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Programming for the rest of us

I would write about Apple's new iPad but I suspect the Internet is already bursting at the seams with iPad prattle. It appears to have been greeted with awe, derision and confusion in roughly equal measure. Whether it turns out to be an iPod style success or a Newton style best-forgotten - its launch has certainly caused a stir!

However, I was intrigued by Mark Pentleton's pre-launch speculations. I would love to see an HyperCard style development environment for any Apple product! TileStack is good (see Fun on Friday #23: A blast from the past) but is just slightly too tricky in use for the "rest of us". It's been a while since I've played with TileStack though, and I notice that you can now use it to develop iPhone apps... I think I need to go back for another play!

As I commented to Mark, I think Scratch, while looking nothing like HyperCard, is the best example of programming for the rest of us out there currently. However, what's missing is some sort of Scratch player for the iPhone/iPad. I had a bit of a poke about but couldn't find anything, oeven any indication tht they were thnking about creating one.

So, in the meantime, if want to make an app, I guess I'll have to have another look at TileStack... uness you have a better sugestion.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun on Friday #56: If an infinite number of monkeys...

A brilliantly simple idea. Adapt a camera so that it releases a raisin whenever a picture is taken. And here's the part that is true genius - give the camera to an orang-utan. Oh... and while you're at it, automatically send the photos taken to a facebook account.

I saw the report in cnet and but you can go straight to the facebook page if you prefer.

The above photo is one of my favourites but you can see all her photos on the facebook page.

Somewhat distressingly, she may be a better photographer than me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I hate marking!

While I fully understand the importance of assessment and how valuable it is in learning, simply knowing this doesn't make the process of marking any more pleasant.

Free Manure
Originally uploaded by slimmer_jimmer
Right now, I am knee deep in a pile of 3,500 word essays. Perhaps I'm getting punchy, I'm definitely getting tired, but I find myself grasping at any passing straw to make the process less painful. A recent exchange described by a History student will show you what I mean.

The student was introducing a topic on the Norman Conquests. Apparently (and I didn't know this) one of the reasons the Normans won was because they brought horses with them and therefore had a very effective cavalry. The student wanted the pupils to appreciate what a feat this was and to see just how difficult it would be to transport horses in the small ships they used at that time. The student was therefore pleased when a pupil said something like:
"The boat would be full of poo... unless they could train the horses to do it over the side!"
I was very amused by the mental picture this conjured up. I can just see the horses all lined up, with their hind quarters sticking out over the edge of the ship, while a trainer stands in front of them shouting: "Un... deux... trois... Poo!"

As I say, I have to take what small amusements I can as I continue the painful process of marking. :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun on Friday #55: Boogie Bot!

Haven't you always wanted to build a dancing robot? No? Just me then!

Well, if you have been unaware of a desire to build robots, I challenge you not to have fun with Exobotics!
I love the way he reacts to key presses. What do you think? Good fun, waste of time, or both fun and a waste of time?

Monday, January 11, 2010

ICT Lecture at Jordanhill

Today at Jordanhill,we had a couple of chaps along to talk to the Secondary students about ICT developments. First up was Ronnie Rankin talking about Glow.

Now, it has to be said that I have expressed disappointment in the past with Glow, it can be argued that the interface is more than a little clunky and that its uptake has been patchy. However, it should also be said that I am hugely impressed with the ambition of Glow: to connect every school; every teacher; every pupil - into an online community of learners. At the moment, t is perhaps more of a glimmer than a Glow but there are some very interesting glimmers.

Ronnie started with some statistics: by the end of 2008, Glow had around a million logins. By the end of 2009, they'd had over four million logins. That may be fairly small relative to the number of people who could potentially be using Glow but it represents an impressive growth in usage. Rather than just taking about the tools, Ronnie showed some good examples of use. It is good to see people showing actual, successful uses of Glow rather than just showing potential uses.

Next up, Ollie Bray got enthusiastic. {Ollie's default mode is enthusiastic - does he do downbeat?} Again, the best thing about Ollie's bit was the real world examples he showed - loads of simple tools (like Wordle and text generators, like the newspaper generator and other examples from the Generator Blog) with ideas about how they can be used. One really simple idea was to have an image up on the screen as the class comes into the room. Why have a blank screen or a boring desktop image when you can have a powerful, arresting image that will become the focus of pupil chat as they come in?

Next, Ollie went on to talk about societal changes, changes to learners and (perhaps more importantly) changes to learner expectations. For example, he pointed out that pupils will be writing about their teachers (and the student teachers) online and they will be searching for information about these teachers. Are teachers aware enough about Internet safety issues?

Also interesting was that he drew a distinction between Interest and Engagement. If children are interested in something and they have a good teacher, learning will occur. However, if they are not intrinsically interested, a good teacher will try to engage. Ollie's argument was that ICT tools are a great way to work on engagement.

Summary: Loads of good ideas. Loads of good practical ideas. Loads of good, simple, practical ides. I'm looking forward to hearing what the students made of it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Fun on Friday #54: Be funky!

BeFunky is a fantastic photo editing site that has over one hundred effects you can apply to your digital images. Here's one of the many Pop Art effects applied to a picture of Colin:

If you play with BeFunky, please share a link to your pictures here so we can all enjoy them.

{Apology: I took a bit of a longer blogging holiday than I intended. Hopefully, I'll be more into the swing of it next week.}