Sometimes it does go wrong…

July 1, 2010

Today I delivered the keynote at the JISC RSC Eastern eFair at Hertford Regional College.

Though the presentation went down well, lots of positive feedback I did have a few technical hitches. Now I made the most of them and used it as an opportunity to talk about the issues of practitioners lacking confidence in the technology and not wanting to use it in case it went wrong. The point I made was that tradition, technologies sometimes fail us, but as professionals we compensate and change what we were going to do. For example if your marker pen runs out of ink on a traditional whiteboard, doesn’t usually stop someone from ever using one again. Likewise if someone has used a permanent marker on the whiteboard, does this stop you ever using one, because the one day you come across a whiteboard where this has happened will ruin your lesson. Practitioners sometimes decide they won’t use the VLE as sometimes it doesn’t work! Would they say the same about a physical learning environment ie a classroom? Sometimes they don’t work, like when it snows for example. So yes sometimes it does go wrong and as a professional you need to either fix it, or get someone else to fix it, or change quickly what you were going to do.

So what went wrong?

Firstly, though I was assured that once I had logged into the wireless network that it wouldn’t time out. It did. Took a minute or so before I could start.

The other issues was about two thirds of the way through the presentation Keynote on my Mac froze! I couldn’t move to the next slide. Without checking fully I think what happened was one of two things. Either the script auto-posting to Twitter was not working properly. Or Powerpoint which was also running on my Mac decided to “hog” all the resources and stop Keynote from working properly. Whatever it was it did mean that I couldn’t move my slide forward for a few minutes.

In the end the pause worked fine as we could discuss technical problems and also showed that tech problems happen to all of us.

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Sony eBook Reader software for the Mac

August 27, 2009

Only yesterday I mentioned that Sony were releasing new eBook Readers, today another piece of news from Sony.

I do have the older PRS-505 model and though I have two hundred odd (old) books on there (which came with the device) I haven’t really made best use of the Reader, partly as the software was Windows only and I generally on a day to day basis use a Mac.

So I was pleased to hear today that Sony have released eBook Reader software for the Mac. It was relatively easy to download, install and use.

Might start using the Reader more now…

Download the software from Sony.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #010: Let’s take a note

December 7, 2008

So what is it about Google Docs and Evernote and other online office type applications? Why are they useful for learning? What can we use them for.

This is the tenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Let’s take a note.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Let’s take a note

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

In this show, James is joined by Dave Foord and Nick Jeans.

Shownotes

Let's take a note


Making screencasts on your Mac

June 25, 2008

I have been looking at screencasting software for the Mac.

Screencasting is a way of capturing what you do on the screen as a video file. The more advanced applications allow you to record an audio track on top, whilst others also allow you to annotate and add text to your screencast.

They are a very useful way of explaining how an application works, how a website works, how to do something or explaining a process in an application.

They can also be used with presentation software, such as PowerPoint or Keynote, to create videos of your presentations which can then be converted into video files. These video files can then be converted by learners (or practitioners) into formats which work on mobile devices, or home DVD players, etc…

One of the original applications for this kind of activity is Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro X.

Snapz Pro X allows you to effortlessly record anything on your screen, saving it as a QuickTime movie or screenshot that can be emailed, put up on the web, or passed around however you want.

Snapz Pro X works for me and I do use it quite a bit.

Snapz Pro X

ScreenFlow is pretty good too, but Leopard only.

Making screencasts on your Mac

It looks fantastic and unlike Snapz Pro X the resulting capture can be edited, annotated much more easily.

ScreenFlow is a complete workflow for creating screencasts: powerful enough to capture your desktop, video camera, microphone & computer audio at the same time.

Screenflow

IShowU is suppose to be very good. I did give it a go and seemed pretty easy to use.

Need to show something to someone? iShowU is your answer! iShowU is designed to record anything on your screen, instantly — both audio, and video!

I wasn’t too impressed with the results of capturing video, ScreenFlow and Snapz Pro X seeme better at that. However IShowU does have a range of capture option choices depending on what you want to show the video on.

IShowU

CamTwist can be used too, though the focus here is on web based video chat type video, so not something for high quality video or presentations. However for the web (ie via something like Ustream) it is ideal.

CamTwist is a software package that lets you add special effects to your video chats. It’s also possible to stream your desktop and still images.

CamTwist

One final option is to use screenshots (images) and iMovie. Capture a series of screenshots and then insert into iMovie and edit accordingly – though from experience this takes a lot longer than the above applications.

iMovie

Overall there are many choices in screencasting on the Mac and of course with Parallels you can also now screencast Windows using the same software.

This is how I did the following screencast of Photostory.

Personally I like Snapz Pro X, but I think I might have a good look at ScreenFlow.


University students using Macs more

October 6, 2007

It would appear that the market share of Apple Macs amongst University students is on the rise (well in the US anyway).

According to Macrumors, 40% of Princeton’s students and staff are using Macs compared to 10% just four years ago.

The Princeton University newspaper reports that Princeton’s Mac marketshare has been rising dramatically, with 40 percent of students and faculty currently using a Mac as their personal computer. This number is up from only 10% of Mac users on campus only 4 years ago. And this number could still be growing. This year, the University’s Student Computer Initiative reportedly sold more Macs than PC’s, with 60 percent of students choosing a Mac, up from 45 percent just last year. Students were offered a choice of Dell, IBM and Apple computers.

To be honest this doesn’t surprise me, when you consider that the new Intel Macs can now all run Windows (either through Parallels or Boot Camp for example) then you can get a Mac and still use Windows when you need to.

I do wonder though if this growth is reflected over here in the UK.

In the UK I have noticed at e-learning events with a predominantly HE prescence, I have seen many more Macs then I use to, I can recall when I was the only person with a Mac.

At FE dominated events, there are fewer (if any) Macs about.

So are you using a Mac?


Apple Back to School Promo

September 12, 2007

Apple have launched their “Back to School” promotion in the UK.

University just isn’t the same without a Mac and an iPod. They make the tough stuff like reports, presentations and research a little easier. And the fun stuff like music, photography and movies a lot more fun. So whether you’re a new or returning student, a lecturer or a member of staff, you can kick off the school year in style. Buy a qualifying Mac before October 30th, 2007, and get an iPod nano via mail-in rebate.

This is the new fat nano which can play video.

Find out more.