How much bandwidth?

March 31, 2010

In March, this blog served 23GB of video, which I think is a fair amount of video, well 66 hours to be exact!

So how does that compare with something like YouTube.

Well by my calculations YouTube delivers that quantity of video every second.

In 2006, YouTube was delivering 100 million videos a day and using about 200TB of bandwidth.

In 2010, they are now delivering 1000 million videos a day and probably using more than 2000TB of bandwidth.

2,000 TB us 2,000,000 GB and there are 86,400 seconds in a day.

My maths may be wrong though.

Next Generation Learning Awards 2010: Special Innovation Award: Gloucestershire College

March 31, 2010

Next Generation Learning Awards 2010: Special Innovation Award: Gloucestershire College

The judges praised the enthusiasm and commitment of all members of the college team, starting with the vision and commitment of the principal and senior leadership team. They found a high level of technological innovation that is in effect led by learners and their needs.

The judges also liked the way the use of technology has brought about a rapid cultural change in the willingness of tutors to share good practice and resources both internally in the college and nationally. This is done traditionally via presentations given by staff members at events and conferences, but the college has also pioneered the use of online communities and social networking sites to share good practice.

It also enjoys more formal working partnerships. For example, it is working with the Royal Forest of Dean and Stroud Colleges to implement mobile learning there, and has a successful collaborative working arrangement with local schools to deliver diplomas.

The college recognises that a strong infrastructure needs to be in place to support technological innovation.

Trained advanced practitioners are used to disseminate good practice in using ICT across the college and more widely. These practitioners are well resourced and given the right equipment to develop, for example, mobile learning and assessment. One example the judges noted was the use of specialist software to mark and annotate students’ multimedia portfolios that were then presented to external validators.

The judges felt that for the future, all-round embedding of the vision and strategy for ICT and ILT will see the college move from strength to strength in the coming year.

From Becta.

iPad Nuggets

March 30, 2010

Tony Vincent has written an excellent blog post on Apple’s forthcoming new iPad.

In anticipation of the April 3rd iPad launch in the U.S., Apple has posted Guided Tours. These videos take you through some of the features in iPad apps like Safari, Mail, iBooks, and Keynote. You’ll immediately notice that Apple is using these videos for marketing. You’ll hear phrases like: easy, magical, it doesn’t get any simpler, immersive, intimate, fun, effortless, so smart, and beautiful.

What Tony has done that is really nice is that he’s watched the tours and made some useful and interesting observations.

Show a Keynote presentation on a projector or TV using the VGA adpater (not included in the box with iPad–it costs extra). It was unclear from the video if Presenter Notes appear on iPad’s screen while the slides appear on the projector’s screen.

Read his blog post for more nuggets.

Animoto Videos – iPhone App of the Week

March 30, 2010

Animoto Videos – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will also work on the iPod touch.

This week’s App is Animoto Videos

Animoto turns the pictures on your iPhone into beautiful music videos! It takes just a few minutes to make one, and then you can share and collect them with your friends. Make as many as you like–they’re totally free.

Free App, you can create 30 second videos for free, however for longer videos you need to pay $30 a year.

Sometimes a simple app like this is a nice and easy way to demonstrate the potential of the iPhone.

Simple either use images from your iPhone or use the camera, combine with some provided music and the software (on the web) renders your images as a nice little video.

The resulting videos can make an activity more interesting or make for a nice way of showing a series of images.

However the video will only play on the iPhone, you can’t download it to your computer, what you can do is “share” the video through the Animoto website, as in this example.

A work in progress

March 30, 2010

A few years ago I made a video for managers in my college showing how the world was changing in the time it takes to travel from our campus in Gloucester to the one in Cheltenham.

I recently decided that it needed updating, as the old one was out of date and we had moved into the docks in Gloucester.

This is the video I shot and edited on iMovie.

At this point the video is just the video. What I would do next is add text over the video, this would say things like how much video is uploaded to YouTube, how many blog posts were written, how many Tweets were sent on Twitter, etc…

I think I will reshoot the video though as it was raining when I took it and I think that detracts slightly from the way that the speeded up video works.

In case you were wondering I shot the video using my iPhone using a TomTom iPhone mount on the windscreen. This was then imported into iMovie 09. I enhanced the quality of the video (turning up the brightness), cartoonified it and then made it much much faster… The last time I did this in iMovie 06 it was a bit of a pig, in 09 it was a piece of cake.

I removed the audio from my video and replaced it with some royalty free video from iMovie.

“million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”

March 29, 2010

One of my favourite quotes from Terry Pratchett is that “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”. When something awful happens, or freakish, we hear news reporters say “it was a million-to-one chance that this would happen”.

In February 2009 we had the worst snow for twenty years. Across the UK many schools, colleges and universities closed for a few days as travel made it impossible (and unsafe) for learners to get to their lessons and classes.

As it was the worst snow for twenty years, any idea of planning to use the VLE or similar to support learning from home was thrown out of the window, as it was obvious that such bad snow probably wouldn’t happen again for another twenty years…

Of course less than twelve months later, we had even worse snow. We saw even more closures and for even longer!

What were the chances of that happening?

What are the chances of it happening again?

Probably less than a million-to-one!

Even if it doesn’t snow really badly next year, other things may happen that result in the physical closure of the educational institution. It could be floods, high winds (remember 1987), flu or similar viral infections, transport strikes, fuel crisis, anything…

So how should educational institutions be responding? How should they prepare?

Personally I think that it is not about preparation, but having the staff and learners in the right frame of mind about using online and digital tools before any such million-to-one chance happens.

We are going to discuss these issues and more on day two of the Plymouth e-Learning Conference, April 9th, between 11.15 and 12.45.

Culturally, most institutions do not incorporate online or virtual learning into everyday working cultures, at any level: management, staff or students. Those who do not routinely use digital options can’t see that closing the physical institution need not have a significant impact on the business of the institution, if that business can be carried out at home or online. The issue is not to focus upon contingency planning, but to focus on changing the way people work when there isn’t snow and changing the way people think when there is. Although this debate will centre largely upon Web 2.0 methods, it will take an outcomes-focused approach, rather than a tools focused approach, in line with William Morris’s quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. We consider what is necessary, not just in times of crisis, but in implementing everyday e- practice to meet learning and teaching needs.

With a focus upon communities rather than machines, and a recognition that no tool offers “one size fits all”, each panellist will focus upon a specific relationship, specifically ‘Institutional Representation’, ‘Collaboration’ and ‘Teaching Purposes’. What institutional cultural factors will need to be addressed? What do electronic communications approaches offer that previous methods haven’t? What drawbacks are acknowledged in the use of each with regards to the outcomes required? Which tool is most appropriate for the outcome required, and what are its pedagogical purposes?

It also links in nicely with Dave White’s keynote that happens immediately before our panel discussion.

The education sector is constantly chasing the tail of the latest technology. Innovation ‘out there’ on the web generates paranoia that we might be missing the latest opportunity and the suspicion that our students are experts in everything. We create profiles on every new platform just in case they become ‘the next big thing’, collecting solutions-looking-for- problems and losing our focus on what students and staff might actually need.

How can we change the culture of our organisations when we sometimes focus too much on the new tools that appear in our Twitter stream?

Changing the culture is going to take time, having access to the right tools can help, but attitude towards those tools is just as important. Culturally we have some way to go I think before snow or any other “disaster” only closes the physical location and doesn’t close the institution.

Is your institution prepared?

Further reading:

Digital Natives: The Great Debate

March 28, 2010

So do you consider the concept of digital natives and digital immigrants relevant to the work that you do?

The 8th and 9th April at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference there will be a (great) debate on digital natives.

This forum will explore methods for categorising learners approach to online platforms and how this can influence edtech/pedagogic strategies. It will focus on Marc Prensky’s famous ‘Digital Native & Digital Immigrants’ trope and the more recent ‘Visitors & Residents’ idea proposed by David White.

Questions the forum will consider:

  • Which of these systems is a more effective guide when attempting to provide appropriate technologies in configurations which encourage participation?
  • Is it possible to see ‘generational’ or age based trends in approaches to the web or is this an over simplification?
  • Does categorising learners along these lines act as a useful guide for edtechs/learning techs or are they just conceptual toys?

The two systems will be promoted by members of the panel after which the discussion will be opened to the audience.

The forum panel will be Tara Alexander (Lecturer, Health and Social Work, University of Plymouth), David White (Manager/Researcher, University of Oxford) and Steve Wheeler (Senior Lecturer in Education and Information Technology, University of Plymouth).

I have the task of chairing this session. There are some great speakers and the topic is controversial, people have many varied views on it. Should be both fun and stimulating.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #040: The VLE Lives

March 28, 2010

It’s alive… the VLE it’s alive… Thoughts, ideas and comments from James Clay on why and how practitioners should be using the VLE to enhance and enrich the learners’ experience.

With James Clay.

This is the fortieth  e-Learning Stuff Podcast, The VLE Lives

Download the podcast in mp3 format: The VLE Lives

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Picture source.

Sensors turn skin into gadget control pad

March 28, 2010

BBC News reports on how in the future you could control devices by touching your skin.

Tapping your forearm or hand with a finger could soon be the way you interact with gadgets.

US researchers have found a way to work out where the tap touches and use that to control phones and music players.

Coupled with a tiny projector the system can use the skin as a surface on which to display menu choices, a number pad or a screen.

Augmented Reality Explained by Common Craft

March 27, 2010

Common Craft have released another of their excellent videos, this one on Augmented Reality.

This video is an introduction to augmented reality – a new and growing way to use smartphones to learn about the world around you. This video introduces the technology and covers the basic applications. It includes:

  • A high level introduction to the big idea
  • Using it to find a restaurant
  • Using it to compare products, be entertained
  • A look at future possibilities of augmented reality