Ashen

April 21, 2010

Was it only a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post entitled “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten” in that I wrote about the impact of snow closures on educational institutions. I did write…

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…

Over the last week we have seen not so much closures, but certainly some disruption due to the volcanic ash from Iceland and its impact on air travel.

Hitting the UK as it did at the end of the Easter break, many learners and staff were stranded overseas with no way of getting home.

As with the snow, little mention has been made of using technology to mediate the impact of the closure of UK airspace. One exception, BBC News reports on one teacher who is using a webcam to continue teaching despite been stranded in Spain.

A teacher from Oxfordshire stranded in Spain because of air restrictions is using an internet cafe to take lessons. He is using a webcam to make sure that his business studies A-Level students do not miss out on lessons.

Interestingly in the same article…

Meanwhile, 16 teaching staff from King Alfred’s School in Wantage have been left stranded because of the ban on flights. The school said it on its website that it would face “severe staffing shortages” and would only open for certain year groups during the week.

So it would appear that not everyone is coping with the disruption.

In the comments on the recording of our debate on this issue at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference was the following comment:

Irony time: In my mailbox this morning “Technology Enhanced Learning Workshop cancelled due to speaker unable to get a flight”. Missed opportunity for some “Technology Enhanced Learning” me thinks? The Sky is broken so use Skype?

I am aware of a few people who are stranded overseas, but are in fact continuing to work using e-mail and VPN to maintain contact and communication with colleagues back home. Time zone differences are causing a few issues, and I also know that many people rather than stay and work are travelling and trying to get home.

As far as I am aware no schools or colleges have closed because of the ash, but certainly some classes have been cancelled or disrupted due to the ongoing ash cloud issue.

Learning technologists have to be careful to ensure that they don’t appear smug about the role technology can play when we have issues such as snow and ash, but we as a community need to work with colleagues to ensure that when disruption happens we don’t worry so much, we keep calm and carry on…

Picture sources here and here.

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Windows in the clouds

October 27, 2008

Windows in the clouds

Microsoft have launched a preview of their new cloud computing service, Azure.

Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers.

On demand computing means that you don’t need to download applications to your computer, you can just use them from any computer.

Some of the key features of Azure include:

  • Build, modify, and distribute applications to the Web with minimal on-premises resources.
  • Perform services (large-volume storage, batch processing, intense or large-volume computations, etc.) off premises.
  • Create, test, debug, and distribute Web services quickly and inexpensively.
  • Reduce costs of building and extending on-premises resources.

Well does this mean that now Microsoft has gone into the clouds, that cloud computing is mainstream?


CherryPal launches $249 cloudy mini PC

July 22, 2008

Is this the future of home computing?

CherryPal launches $249 cloudy mini PC

A small $249 box with access to the web (and 50GB of online storage).

The Register reports that:

Start-up CherryPal is taking pre-orders today for its partly cloudy “desktop” that mashes web-hosted computing, going green, open source, and social networking into a 10 ounce box.

The (self-titled) CherryPal systems are $249, and surprisingly won’t require a monthly subscription despite the fact that most of its storage capacity and several of its features hosted in the cloud.

CherryPals are thinned-down computers running an ultra-low power chip from Freescale. They’ve got 256MB memory and 4GB solid-state capacity.

The future of computing?

What do you think?