Engineerlingly Small

March 30, 2009

One of the nice things about my job and working on the MoLeNET programme is the fact that I can try out new pieces of equipment and wonder about their impact on our learners and learning.

I have written (and spoken) about the new breed of micro-laptops that surfaced last year starting wirth the Asus EeePC. Since then the number and type of micro-laptops have blossomed. So much so that the original 7″ Asus EeePC is now no longer available. Asus have improved upon their original concept and others have copied them. The Asus 901 for example has the same form factor as the first model, but now has a 8.9″ screen which does make a difference in how usable it is.

One micro-laptop which I did like was the HP 2133 which came with the bigger 8.9″ screen and importantly a 90% size keyboard. Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keybvoard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size. However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

One factor common to both of these was the linux operating system used instead of Windows. The Xandros on the Asus is very easy and simple to use, whilst the Suse Desktop OS used on the HP 2133 allowed more flexibiloity in installing software, not impossible on the Asus, just easier.

More recently I have been using a totallt different type of micro-laptop, the Sony VAIO P Series. In many ways this couldn’t be more different. It runs WIndows Vista. It has an 8″ (20.3cm) widescreen screen with a 1600×768 screen resolution. One aspect I do like about it is that it has a Apple’esque nearly full size keyboard which works for typiing for me. This blog entry for example was written on it.

Engineerlingly Small

As well as wireless and Bluetooth it also supports HDSPA. remove the battery insert your 3G SIM card and using a simple application, adjust the setrtings use the VAIO with a 3G connection without having to worry about plugging in a dongle or tethering to a phone as a modem.

It also looks like Sony have been listening to their customers and as well as a Memory Stick slot the VAIO also has a SD card slot. Considering how much use I now make of SD cards with cameras, mp3 recorders and sharing files, the SD card slot is very welcome.

The one thing which everyone comments on is the size and weight, it weighs very little and is only 24.5 by 12 cm.

Such a small device has to make compromises and the screen resolution and size means that some people may have difficulty with the Vista interface.

Battery life is pretty good and you can purchase an extended battery which will last twice as long. I am currently getting about 2 hours out of the standard battery.

So why wouldn’t everyone get one?

Well the price of course!

The VAIO UX1XN UMPC which came out in 2007 cost nerly £2000. The TX series of micro-laptops from Sony cost about £1400.

The P series is about £850 though you can spend more and get the model with the SSD drive. So for the price of one P series you could get three Auss EeePCs.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #019: W.. W.. W.. W.. Wikipedia

March 29, 2009

Is Wikipedia a evil place we should ignore, or a useful resource for our learners?

James, Nick and Lisa discuss the merits and challenges of using Wikipedia, and provide advice and guidance on how and when it should be used by practitioners and learners.

This is the nineteenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, W.. W.. W.. W.. Wikipedia.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: W.. W.. W.. W.. Wikipedia

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Lisa Valentine and Nick Jeans.

Shownotes


Publishing Podcasts

March 28, 2009

On Friday the 27th March I gave a couple of online presentations (conferences) for the MoLeNET programme.

So you’ve been making podcasts, how do you publish them, how do you get them out there, how do your learners subscribe to them? Covering more than just iTunes with a look at a range of technologies that allow you to distribute your podcasts.

A few of the links we talked about in the presentation.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast – this is the podcast of this blog. You can also access the iTunes Store link for the e-Learning Stuff Podcast

Juice Podcast Software is an application which just downloads podcasts, available for Windows, OS X and Linux

There are various blogging sites out there includingBlogger, WordPress.com. If you have your own server you can install the WordPress software yourself from WordPress.org

Feedburner allows you to enhance and enrich an RSS feed from say WordPress.

Switchpod is a podcast hosting service, which will automatically generate a podcast RSS feed.

New College Swindon created a podcast server using Episode and OS X Server.

QIA learning object on podcasting

Audioboo.fm/ is a new audio recording and publishing service for the iPhone.


YouTube Educational

March 27, 2009

YouTube have launched a new educational channel.

YouTube EDU is a volunteer project sparked by a group of employees who wanted to find a better way to collect and highlight all the great educational content being uploaded to YouTube by colleges and universities. We’ll feature some of these videos on the home page on Friday and elaborate further in a separate post on that day.

http://www.youtube.com/edu

And for those that block YouTube TechCrunch has an interesting article on the new service.

Techcrunch also mentions a new video site for education, Academic Earth.

When Richard Ludlow was struggling in a linear algebra class at Yale, he scoured the internet for answers and stumbled upon a full video course available online from one of MIT’s mathematics professors, Gilbert Strang. He realized that there was an opportunity to create an easily accessible online platform for academic video courses and guest lectures, much like Hulu does for television content. As he did more research, he found that academic resources were grossly underutilized, as they were scattered across different sites and offered in varying file formats, making them difficult to find and browse.

So Ludlow launched Academic Earth with the goal of building a user-friendly platform for educational video that would let anyone be able to freely access instruction from the scholars and guest lecturers at the leading academic universities.

Some nice resources for our learners.


“This is James Clay live on the internet….”

March 25, 2009

Yesterday at the JISC Conference 2009 I decided during the Web 2.0 and Legal Issues session to ask my question on the use of Qik and as I did at the MoLeNET Conference I broadcast my question live on the internet…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Qik | Live on the internet at JISC Co…“, posted with vodpod

I do think that institutions do need to be aware of the power of these technologies and ensure that they and their staff and learners have an awareness of the implications of such applications and devices.


JISC Conference Ramblings

March 24, 2009

So here I am at the JISC Conference 2009 up in Edinburgh in Scotland.

So far we’ve only had the keynotes, well two introductions and a keynote really.

Though we are not in Telford, the wifi is not perfect, and I am getting intermittent dropped connections and slow loading times, but to be honest I was expecting that.

Lizbeth Goodman’s keynote is interesting and demonstrates a range of technologies being used in a vastly different areas and groups.

jisc0901

Covering more than just HE and FE, covering a lot of work being done in schools across the world.

More later….


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #018: Digital Literates

March 22, 2009

James Clay, Kev Hickey, Shri Footring and Lisa Valentine discuss Twitter, digital literacy, digital identity and other stuff too.

This is the eighteenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Digital Literates.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Digital Literates

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Kev Hickey and Shri Footring. Lisa Valentine joins us later in the conversation.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #018: Digital Literates

Shownotes

  • Digital Literacy Debate – The purpose of the debate is to try and move forward on issues surrounding Digital Literacy. The focus of the debate will be the UK education sector, but international attendees and contributors are more than welcome. Recently, Digital Literacy has gained a lot of traction within academic and educational technology discussion within the UK, and is generally thought of as A Good Thing. However, some important questions have yet to be addressed.
  • James, Shri, Kev and Lisa all use Twitter, but some of us prefer Jaiku.
  • So what is a hashtag?
  • Pat Parslow’s comment on the term digital native.
  • Marc Prensky’s new paper on digital wisdom.
  • Dave White’s blog a post about residents or visitors to the online world.
  • The e-Learning Stuff podcast on the whole digital native, immigrant, visitor, resident, naturalised debate.

Photo source.


JISC Conference 2009

March 21, 2009

On Tuesday the good and the great (and me) will be descending on Edinburgh for the JISC Conference.

JISC Conference 2009

Usually the JISC Conference is in Birmingham, this year for a change it’s North of the border.

I am flying up on Monday from Bristol, as the early flight on Tuesday is way too early for going up for one day; and there are pre-conference events on Monday too. There is a good programme and I am looking forward to it.

I am attending the session on student retention.

The need for improving retention is identified in the National Audit Office report on Student Retention (Feb 2008). The funding councils already provide additional funding to support institutions in meeting retention and widening participation targets. JISC projects have shown that technology has an important role in providing the administrative processes and support facilities that make learners feel better supported when starting a course in higher education. Several projects have demonstrated that the costs of small investments in technical infrastructure and processes can be covered by reducing student loss by just a few learners. This session will explore several examples of universities using technology to support students and, in doing so, helping to improve retention. We will hear feedback from the learners and discuss the potential of these approaches to make greater impact across the sector.

In the afternoon I am going to the Web 2.0 legal session.

Cultural perceptions about the relevance of legal issues in a Web 2.0 environment, and practical obstacles in locating authoritative resources about these issues, can present some of the biggest challenges in engagement with next generation technologies to support teaching, learning and research.

How do we encourage engagement by staff with these issues?

How can we engender a culture of mutual respect for creative works, as well as one recognising the need for pragmatism and a managed approached to risk?

Where can we go to find authoritative and appropriate resources and, once found, what tools should be used, when and how?

To address these issues the Web2Rights project, with support from JISC Legal, has taken an innovative approach by harnessing next generation technologies to develop an advisory toolkit and associated resources. Come along to find out more.

As per usual I hope to be blogging a few blog entries there, I will probably take a few photographs too, certainly will be Twittering and I may make a video or two…


Mobile users at risk of ID theft

March 20, 2009

BBC reports on a survey about the possible identity theft issues from mobile phones.

A survey of London commuters suggests that 4.2m Britons store data on their mobiles that could be used in identity theft in the event they are stolen.

Only six in 10 use a password to limit entry into the phones, according to the survey by security firm Credant.

The survey found that 99% of people use their phones for business in some way, despite 26% of them being told not to.

Of course from an educational perspective, if an institution is giving mobile devices to students, they do need to be informed about what data the students put on that device and what to do if the device is stolen?


Increase in mobile internet

March 20, 2009

The Guardian reports on the surge in mobile internet use:

Google UK today revealed that mobile internet use was surging thanks to the Apple iPhone.

The head of Google UK, Matt Brittin, said iPhone owners search online 30 times more than those who use rival smartphones.

Increase in mobile internet

With the imminent release of the Palm Pre and the Nokia N97 I think we can expect a further increase in mobile internet use.

Just under a year ago I blogged about the increase in the use of 3G because of the increase in the number of 3G dongles. More and more of these dongles were been bought and used, partly I would suspect to availability but also falling costs of 3G.

If you take that increase and combine it with the increase in mobile internet use (over 3G), add in 3G prices falling, you do wonder if the 3G network can cope with all this traffic?

Spread over a city and a town, probably will be okay, however what happens if you concentrate the use of 3G in one space (such as a college or a conference).

Well the SXSW Conference in American suffered 3G failure due to the sheer number of iPhone users at the conference. As Wired reports

AT&T’s 3G coverage map for Austin may look rock solid, but turns out there wasn’t enough connectivity goodness to sate the hordes of iPhone-wielding geeks who descended on this artsy Texas town for the South by Southwest conference this weekend. Was the Verizon and Sprint crowd, usually consigned to the kid’s table at these hip mob scenes, having the last laugh?

Attendees with their beloved iPhone 3G handsets hoping to hook up with friends, find the next party or access Twitter to announce their location are encountering dropped calls, unavailable service or molasses-slow web access from the mobile service provider.

If every student in your college is using a 3G device, an iPhone, another smartphone or a 3G dongle, will the 3G network be able to cope? If the 3G is spread across the different networks, then this may not be a problem. However what happens if all those 3G phone are provided by the college (or only one network works on the college site) suddenly you could find that the 3G network can not cope with the traffic.

We already know wifi can be problematic it’s now looking like that 3G network coverage may also be less than perfect. Something to think about when planning the use of mobile devices and mobile internet in a college or university environment.