Should we welcome the nanocams?

I’m reading a short story by Ian Creasey called “The Edge of the Map”. In the world depicted by Creasey, automated cameras called “nanocams” take photos and newspapers (and other media, presumably) source their illustrations from the pool created by them. In other words, there is no need for specialist photographers.

This raises a number of interesting questions.

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My grim and distant techie past: the uni years, part 1

... big computers!It’s amazing how technology has changed over the years. I was thinking about this recently, in relation to my mother. She lived for 91 years, and during that time she witnessed cars becoming ubiquitous, the invention and expansion of television, the development of video and home video recording, cheap flights, fast trains… The list goes on and on.

I am not old enough to experienced quite as many dramatic changes as that, but as far as the world of education is concerned, there have been quite a few. I thought it might be interesting to try and document them from a personal point of view. Do feel free to join in by leaving a comment, or posting a response on your own blog.

Oh, and just for the record, I am not writing these “technobiographical” articles in a spirit of nostalgia. As I have said before, as far as I’m concerned, the best thing about the past is that it’s the past. The technology we have today is wonderful; who would want to return to an earlier era?

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Report from the 3D print show

Richard Smith, of Igloo in Education and Amazing ICT, recently visited the 3D Print Show in London. What did he make of it?

Hi, Richard Smith here from Igloo in Education. I am delighted to have been asked by Terry to do a guest blog post on the 3D print show that took place in London from 7-9th November.

The venue of the event, the Business Design Centre in Islington, sent out a clear message out to visitors: 3D printing should be about innovative design and the encouragement of original business ideas. Of

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Technology-inspired words are definitely buzzworthy!

Word NerdNew words are always interesting, I think, and not just the ones that have been inspired by technology. But before I say any more about that, I feel the need to get something off my chest. Don’t worry, I won’t make this a long post: the last thing I want is people tweeting me to say TL;DR (too long; didn’t read).
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Technology for an ageing population: competition

Technology UseHere is a competition which is aimed at secondary school students.  I quite like the idea of this: both the topic and the nature of what has to be submitted by entrants: a video of not more than 90 seconds answering the question:

In the future, how will technology help an ageing population?

This is an opportunity to get some really interesting discussions going. Perhaps you could get other colleagues involved, such the RE department.

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Stop Press! The machines have taken over!

the screamKevin Hodgson has written a make-believe article about technology taking over from humans. The theme is a well-known one in science fiction circles, of course, but what I especially like about Kevin’s article is that he has written in the form of a newspaper article. To do so he has used a fake headline generator, for which he provides a link in the story.
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The sound of being connected

Dial up modemWhen I first had email and an internet connection, it was made possible by using a dial-up modem. These modems were positively snail-like compared to today’s devices. For example, my first modem could transmit data over the telephone line at the blistering speed of 9 kilobytes per second (kbps).

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Old technology

It’s always fun, as well as informative, to look at photos or videos to check out the technology used, especially if the photo or video is old. In this video of Jimmy Nail’s Ain’t No Doubt, I’ve spotted several examples of “retro” technology. Perhaps you or your students can spot more? Here’s what struck me:
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Don’t blame the technology

Technology can help a good teacher do wondrous and wonderful things – but bad use of technology is worse than no use of technology, in my opinion. There is, possibly, one exception to this general rule, which I will get to in a moment. What has brought on this sudden dazzling insight (well, it isn’t really instant, and it probably isn’t dazzling, but this is my blog so I can say what I like). An anti-ICT dogma diatribe by the behaviour guru, aka Tom Bennett.
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Why technology goes wrong

Join us for the final Vital Teachshare discussion of this school year, as Tony Sheppard, aka Grumbledook, talks to us about a topic that I am sure is dear to our hearts:

Why Technology Goes Wrong. The discussion begins at 7pm UK time Tuesday 26th July, and you can access it by clicking on the link just given. Use the timezone converter to find out what time it is where you  are.

Tony is a key member of Edugeek, one of the most vibrant online forums I know of.

Please tweet about this event, using the hashtag #vitalcpd. Thanks!

See also:

The Bug Force

 

Related Articles?

Here’s a great example of the danger of using code to suggest related articles without having someone check the results. In an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph entitled “Education secretary Michael Gove admits he was beaten at school”, there is a panel headed “Related Articles”. This is what it lists:
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Who'd Have Thought It?

Interesting video that highlights just how amazing is the mobile technology we probably take for granted. OK, it's an advertisement, but I think it could make a nice starting point for a discussion with pupils.

One of the projects I used to set students when I was teaching was to envisage their library of the future. Some of the outlandish ideas they came up have since come to pass. So I wonder where youngsters think technology is going?

The Role of Technology in Campaigning

In the UK at the moment we're in the run-up to a General Election, so we're being assailed in all sorts of different ways by various political parties. Given that some syllabuses require students to design a campaign, I think it's interesting to consider the ways in which technology could be, and sometimes have been, used.

Here is my 'back-of-an-envelope' list of ideas.

  • Website, containing essential information about policies and contact details.
  • Blog, updated daily -- not necessarily about the party or the person, but about relevant issues.
  • Twitter account, so that people can follow the person's activities and thoughts. Less maintenance than a website or blog in some respects.
  • Facebook fan page.
  • YouTube video channel.
  • Flickr group of relevant or pertinent photos.
  • Daily or weekly podcast.
  • Radio channel.
  • Emailed newsletter.
  • Digital magazine (which could be part of website).

That's a tall order for a single person, but for a political party it should not be too much trouble at all. The list is based on four principles:

  • It should be easy for people to find out what they need to know about the party or Parliamentary candidate.
  • It should be easy for people to be updated frequently, by whichever means they prefer.
  • Potential supporters should be engaged, not just talked to or, even worse, talked at.
  • What probably matters is a decent marketing strategy, to catch so-called 'floating voters' -- the people who can be persuaded to vote for one party or another if the arguments and presentation are right.

So on the subject of marketing, what is it that each political party is trying to sell? When it comes down to it, probably a set of values rather than a set of policies. Therefore, rather than try to inform the floating voter of the finer points of its manifesto, perhaps each party would be better off trying to create a viral video instead, or create a geocaching-based game of some description. Or some really great t-shirt designs with matching mugs.

So this raises at least three questions:

First, a marketing/philosophical/political question I suppose, rather than a technological one: does it make sense to try to sell a political party and its policies in the same way as you might try to sell a rock band or a can of beans? Or am I being incredibly cynical and ridiculous?

Second, in terms of the technology, what have I left out?

Three, if you're one of the people teaching a syllabus which requires students to design a campaign, what sort of things have they come up with that use technology in interesting ways?

This is an expanded version of an article published today in the Computers in Classrooms newsletter.