The Early Edition – iPad App of the Week

July 6, 2010

The Early Edition – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad 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 work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is The Early Edition

Finally – your own personal, daily newspaper! The Early Edition takes all of the news sources that you enjoy and presents their content in a format which is familiar, stylish and intuitive.


One of the useful things that both the iPhone and iPad allow you to do is with certain Apps, aggregate RSS feeds and bring the news right to your device. Saves you having to visit the different websites and or news services.

In this series I have mentioned NewsRack that I use as my main RSS reader, in the main as it syncs with Google Reader allowing me to read the news either on the iPad, on the iPhone or on the web, without having to re-read stories I have already read.

So why did I buy The Early Edition?

Well apart from my making my blog look nice…

Actually there is a simpler reason, The Early Edition is a really nice way to find and read news stories. The way I use it is to access sites that I browse now and again on diverse subjects.

Another way to look at this is I use NewsRack as my daily newspaper, whilst The Early Edition is my Sunday paper.

The Early Edition allows you to import RSS feeds from various sources, including if you want from Google Reader. However unlike NewsRack it doesn’t sync back to Google Reader. Another reason is that RSS readers if they have lots of feeds can be slow. Sometimes I just want the important news not the fluff!

There are quite a few RSS readers on the App store for the iPad, like Reeder and Pulse. Not sure how many RSS news readers I need, but at the moment two are sufficient for me.


“we’re were selling one every three seconds”

June 21, 2010

So Apple have sold two million iPads in less than two months!

So what I hear you cry?


For comparison purposes, it took over two years for Apple to sell its first two million iPods, while the original iPhone took on the order of four months to reach the two million milestone.

This does demonstrate the popularity of the device, though it doesn’t demonstrate the longevity.

People are certainly buying them though and if my experience is anything to go by they will use them too.

BIG QR Codes

June 11, 2010

I have been interested and using QR Codes for a while now. I mentioned them on this blog nearly three years ago.

You then take a photograph of the barcode, and with special reader software you are able to convert the barcode into information, which could be a link to a website or just plain information.

Since then I have used them myself a fair few times. I used them at ALT-C 2009 to allow people to more easily vote for my poster (didn’t win by the way).

In presentations I have used them for titles or to share my contact details (though to be honest in the main to show people the potential of them).

We are using them in the Library at our Gloucester Campus to allow learners to access more information, links and further resources.

With the advent of Augemented Reality (AR) with Apps like Layar on the iPhone and Android, I have been wondering if there is a real future for mobile phone 3D barcodes.

There seemed to be very little use of them made in the mainstream public environment. Though interestingly Mashable reports today on how the City of New York has “outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes”.

[img credits: NYC Media]

To celebrate Internet Week 2010, the City of New York outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes earlier today. It’s called “The City at Your Fingerprints” and eleven New York agencies participated in the interactive billboard initiative.

Times Square denizens could use their smartphone barcode scanning app to scan the QR codes — which were featured in an animated sequence on the Thomson Reuters building in Times Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET — and pull up information relating to specific agencies being featured.

Some mobile phones come with a reader built in, I think my Nexus One did, and the Nokia N95 certainly did. Other phones don’t and need to have an app downloaded, I use Optiscan on my iPhone for example.

So where are we with QR Codes?

The University of Bath have been doing some extensive work on using QR Codes in education and their blog is well worth a read.

They are not mainstream and I know if I show them outside the mobile learning community and geekdom that most people have no idea what they are.

Are we at a point where they will take off?

Probably not.

I am sure AR will mature more and will be more useful.

Moodle Training in Zambia

June 9, 2010

Posted by Peter Kilcoyne

ILT Director

Worcester College of Technology

Thanks again to James for asking me to post something about the work I’ve been  doing in Africa in partnership with Computer Aid.

I’ve recently returned from a weeks visit to Lusaka where I worked with staff from Universities from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia and Nigeria as well as organisations supporting the use of ICT in schools in Zambia.

The training was set up and organised by Computer Aid as part of their support to organisations to which they supply refurbished  computers that have been donated by schools, colleges, universities and businesses in the UK.

The training covered planning an organisational implementation strategy for introducing elearning and Moodle and a full train the trainers package to enable delegates to return to their own organisations and deliver Moodle training. All delegates were given zipped up Moodle training courses and a number of sample courses from different curriculum areas at Worcester College of Technology.

Some Pictures from the Training Session

Most of the delegates were new to using a VLE and there was a great deal of excitement about the potential that Moodle would have to enhance learning in their institutions and for providing new learning opportunities for students across their countries through online earning.

I hope this enthusiasm is reflected in these two short videos of Precious from the University of Zimbabwe and Fatoye from the National Teachers Institute in Nigeria

I’d also like to share a clip from the end of the training where Gladys the Kenyan representative from Computer Aid led a traditional African thank you.

e-learning has huge potential benefits in Africa where access to University is much more limited than in the UK. However  institutions wishing to implement it have serious barriers to overcome. These include compared with the UK lower levels of staff and students ICT skills and confidence, less access to PCs and slower connectivity.

I’d like to finish this posting by asking readers to look at what happens to your organisations ICT equipment when it’s no longer needed and to consider donating it to Computer Aid.

If you have any questions about this post please contact me at

NewsRack – iPhone App of the Week

June 1, 2010

NewsRack – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. With the release of the iPad in the UK, this series will also now cover Apps for the iPad. 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 work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is NewsRack

NewsRack is a full-featured RSS reader for iPhone and iPad with a unique interface. Skim over the latest headlines on a beautiful rack of newspapers or use the powerful classic interface to read and organize feeds.


There is lots of stuff out there on the web, lots of news, blogs and other stuff. Stuff that I may find useful and stuff that I may want to pass onto others. I often get asked how I know about stuff, well I read a lot of stuff is basically the answer.

A key information skill is the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff in the sheer amount of information which is thrown at you on a daily basis. I often see my role within the use of ILT as a gatekeeper to ensure that important and relevant stuff gets to key people in the college without overloading them with either lots of stuff or what can happen loads of irrelevant and unuseful stuff.

Now I only have limited time, so I need to use tools to allow me to quickly and effortlessly sift through the information, picking out the gems and useful bits. I need to store some for later, others I will post out straight away.

A key way in which I do this is through the use of RSS feeds from the various blogs and news sites. These automatically update throughout the day so that I don’t need to go back to sites and check if there is anything new, the use of RSS feeds allows the news and articles to be pushed to me.

Even though I use RSS I don’t read everything, I just don’t have the time… when I do find a spare minute I will flick through the feeds to see what is interesting and new. I star things I think may be useful, interesting or to blog about later. I also will post URLs to Twitter or the VLE.

On the desktop I use Google Reader, but it’s also nice to be able to view the feeds on a mobile device. In the main as I am more likely to have time with my iPhone to read feeds than with the desktop. I have used a few apps in the past and some of these have relied on services that have come and gone. I use to use NewsGator and NetNewsWire

My current setup consists on Google Reader on the desktop and I now use NewsRack on the iPhone which was recommended to me by someone.

There is also an iPad version available too.

Now NewsRack is not a free App and there are ways of reading RSS feeds for free on the iPhone (through Safari bookmarks for example). What I like about NewsRack is that it syncs with Google Reader, so that any items I have read on the iPhone will be marked as read on the desktop and likewise articles I have starred on my iPhone will be available for reading again, linking, blogging, etc…

As a result of using a service like NewsRack I can quickly browse news and blog feeds and am able to pick out the relevant and useful news and articles I need to enhance and improve the way in which I work.

Yes the newspaper thing is a bit of a gimmick, but that wasn’t the reason I purchased the App. I like how it works and I like how it improves the way I work.

ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2010

May 18, 2010

Last year I was honoured to win the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2009.

James Clay from Gloucestershire College was ALT Learning Technologist of the Year 2009 for his contribution to changing the College, which has become a leader and an exemplar in its use of learning technologies.

James Clay of Gloucestershire College commented, “I am honoured and privileged to win the Learning Technologist of the Year award from ALT. This award not only recognises the work I have undertaken at Gloucestershire College in enabling, embedding and promoting the use of learning technologies; it is also an award for all the staff and management at the college who use learning technologies effectively to enhance and enrich the learning experience.”

The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2010 is now open for entries with two streams. has links to the rubric and entry form for the 2010 ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award, which is now open for entries.

The 2010 award will be run in two distinct streams:

  • Stream One is open to all ordinary and certified members of ALT, and to individuals and teams based in ALT member organisations anywhere;
  • Stream Two is open to individuals and teams employed in Department for Education funded learning providers in England.

The closing date for entries is 10 June 2010.

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.