Campaign to Listen, Learn and Teach in the USA

 

http://igg.me/at/jnxyz/x/1866503

My request? Let me help you with phone, web or face to face tech+learning support.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love to help and regularly chat for far too long than is normal about how tech like laptops, smart phones, iPads and tablets can, in balance, help make our lives better. To help with my job security in 2014, I am now making the technology and education skills I have gathered over the last decade available for those who really need some simple, personalised assistance.

Help me fulfil a dream to listen, learn & teach in the USA this June and July.

I will achieve this if I can fund a trip to improve my own skills by attending the NMC (New Media Consortium) 2014 conference in Portland, Oregan, and/or the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in San Diego, and attend and deliver workshops in the USA while I am there.

 

What You Get:

  • Access to my unique way of explaining technology in simple but empowering ways
  • The chance to choose just the level of support you need
  • The chance to follow my journey and support me to become even better at what supporting my fellow educators and people like yourself
  • I can provide support and workshops on a range of topics, and even customise them for you immediate needs
  • My areas of expertise include: iPads, Macs, big picture planning, innovation, the SAMR model, Challenge Based Learning, Citizen Science, mobile devices, Using tablets to do ‘work’, App workflows, creating with iPads and tablets, Online learning tools and iBooks.

 

Why you can trust me to support you:

Not only am I an experienced teacher, but also an Apple Distinguished Educator who has been rated at number 1 in the world for tech knowledge (via the Quiz-Up app). My iBook about iPads and apps reached number 1 in Australia for computer-related titles, my educational YouTube videos have been viewed over 50,000 times, and I’ve been awarded by both the Department of Education in Queensland, and the UK’s Learning Without Frontiers conference as an innovative educator. You can find out more via JNXYZ.net and JNXYZtraining.net.

 

What I need:

I will be contributing my own money, time and frequent flyer points to make this trip possible, as well as volunteering to help pay for event fees. What I still need is:

  • Additional funds to cover travel and accommodation expenses
  • Opportunities to hone my craft by supporting your tech + learning needs
  • Opportunities to Listen, Learn and Teach in US locations

 

Other Ways You Can Help

Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help:

  • Ask the people in your networks to support the campaign using this link http://igg.me/at/jnxyz/x/1866503
  • Suggest other perks to me that I can add to best support you
  • Send the link for this page to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc with a personal message of support from yourself.
  • Follow @jnxyz on twitter, or ‘Like’ JNXYZ training on Facebook to help increase my ability to share online.

Two new ubiquitous technologies for Education

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Wanted to post about two new technologies I am exploring for their ubiquitous impact on technology that I wanted to share… Both are currently being deployed, but as it is very early days, especially for Education, the ultimate uses of them in a learning context are yet to be defined.

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1. Google Glass – this falls into the current trend of ‘wearable’ technology – where a supplementary device like a watch or glasses communicate with your smartphone by bluetooth. This can be used for fitness data – or in the case of Google Glass – as an ‘in your field of vision’ interface for nearly all the main apps that an Android device would run. The best overview I have found so far is this video from early explorer David Kelly of the eLearning Guild. I have several friends with a set so will continue to monitor their opinions (which are of all perspectives from loving it to hating it).

 

2. iBeacons – this is the location-aware bluetooth technology that allows information to pop up on your smart device when you enter specific physical locations. its being used in retail to send alerts about sales to shoppers in the US, but in education it sounds perfect for libraries and museums. Basically, I envision using the set that I’ve ordered from Estimote.com to allow workshop participants who enter a physical area to receive a notification which then leads them to watch a video or view information (such as task instructions) specific to where they are – all triggered purely by them being in that space. I’m sure there will be many many other educational uses for this kind of tech also -

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Check out this quick video of what’s being done by fellow ADE Paul Hamilton here in Australia.

App Challenge Sheets

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I’ve recently been inspired by the simple challenges created by Craig Badura that give app-using educators a simple but engaging task where they can learn a new app not just by reading about it but by making something. As reported by Tony Vincent at Learninginhand.com, other people have started following Craig’s lead and making their own App Challenges – including me now – see the links below to download my attempt that takes you through a ‘Book Creator’ project and a Skitch project…

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LINK: App Discoveries Book Creator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINK: App Discoveries Skitch

 

 

 

 

JNXYZ training site debuts

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Just a quick post to let readers know I have launched the beta version of a site dedicated to those who need innovative training for their staff around technology and learning. Head to JNXYZ training if I can help you in this way!

 

 

More info on my iBook about how we ‘do work’ in an post-PC, iPad world

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Hi everyone – there comes a time when every iPad using educator needs to contribute back to the communities that have fostered them. I’ve certainly had a great time doing that with Slide2learn – and for me that time has also come in the form an iBook. Its the culmination of a few years of plugging away with mobile devices and thinking that gee, not only do these look and feel different to a traditional computer, they can also do much of what a PC can, and lots more beside.

I’ve also always struggled with just how does when do ‘work’ on a smaller screen with simpler interfaces and skill requirements? The answer that many similar educators (and Kate Maccoll was the first I heard talk about) have come up with is the idea of workflows that chain a series of apps together to produce the end product.

Here’s some of what I’ve written – see if this makes sense from your experiences:

“So if the iPad is not a PC in the 1980-2010 vein, what is it? There’s a good reason why Steve Jobs chose to first demo the iPad while sitting on a lounge chair (see image at right). I myself am sitting on my couch re-watching Star Wars at 11:54pm on a device that still has 32% battery left despite being in use throughout the day by myself and my 5 year old.

This extra long battery then is one of the key factors that effect how work can be completed with an iPad, and set it apart from the need of PC’s to be tied to a more fixed location. 

Another is the simpler user interface that allows one to focus fully on each piece of work in turn. This means that instead of using a small number of powerful desktop programs that each do almost too many things as on a PC, a user employs a series of simpler apps that each do one thing well in a productive sequence. 

A third factor is the way files are managed. While a PC requires the user to firstly remember when to save files as well as where the files where stored and in what folder, iPad apps automatically save ones work within the app itself. 

Finally, the other key factor is the way touch and features like auto-sensing screen orientation create a unique experience while using the iPad (“it fits me”), something that makes it feel like the most personal of computers yet.

In listing what sets the iPad apart, I’m not suggesting that it is a replacement for all PCs, not yet. We still very much need those ‘trucks’ to deliver the computing backbone that the new era of mobile computers relies on. 

The iPad may evolve into a modular device with add-ons and docks once mobile chips catch desktop ones that can become both, but that idea also misses the point. It’s different, not wrong. And to get the most out of it when completing work, we need to ‘think different’ about how we use it.” 

Coming to grips with this is one thing – but adapting to it can be something else. That’s where the idea of workflows comes in:

Instead of thinking about doing ‘work’ as we do on a PC, lets instead take advantage of the unique characteristics of the iPad to do something different.

We’ve seen that these characteristics are the iPads long battery life, ‘fits to me’ personal nature, simpler interface, and ability to have users focus on one task at a time. When taken together, and matched with the experience of more than three years of iPad use, a new model of computing is emerging.

Across the web, and in the terminology of iPad users, this model is becoming known as ‘workflows‘ – where a chain of apps is employed to link tasks together to create the required final piece of work.”

One such example of a workflow is photography where on a PC users might use 1 or 2 programs. On an iPad one could use 5-6 apps in a seamless flow that is often faster and more powerful. So using a chain of apps like Camera – Snapseed – WowFX – Afterlight – Over – you can go from this:

to this:

Anyway, here is the official description and link – you’ll see its $1.99 – thats only really to cover the time thats gone into it - but its free if you’re ever in my corner of the world and come visit OR you can make it to Slide2learn.net 2014 in Sydney :) Hope it may prove useful.

Book Description:

“The iPad is not a PC. As obvious as that sounds, if the only computer you’ve ever used was mainly a box on a desk, or ran a desktop operating system with a physical keyboard attached, its only natural that the ways you attempt to use a new device will be dictated by the old paradigm. Instead of just sticking with such an approach, this book looks at the different ways that the PC and iPad have been designed to work, and then detail new ways that the iPad can be used for workflows, not just work“.

Download for iPad via the iBookstore or through iTunes on the desktop HERE.

My new iBook ‘The iPad is not a PC’

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Book Description:

“The iPad is not a PC. As obvious as that sounds, if the only computer you’ve ever used was mainly a box on a desk, or ran a desktop operating system with a physical keyboard attached, its only natural that the ways you attempt to use a new device will be dictated by the old paradigm. Instead of just sticking with such an approach, this book looks at the different ways that the PC and iPad have been designed to work, and then detail new ways that the iPad can be used for workflows, not just work“.

Only $1.99 to recoup development costs – I hope its ideas for maximising users investment in iPads will make it useful for a broad range of people. Enjoy :)

Download for iPad via the iBookstore or through iTunes on the desktop HERE.

 

The XO Tablet – first impressions

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Its not often one gets to brag about owning the only gadget in a whole country – but as the XO Tablet is only available from the USA, and the Australia arm of OLPC aren’t touching it, right now this is the case. Thanks to the generosity of fellow EdTech experimenters Wayan Vota and John Hunt, my 6 year old daughter has now logged about 10 hours on this latest iteration of what a ‘green machine’ can be and I’m ready to report some first impressions.

I’ll get to her thoughts shortly – but first, given the at times highly charged nature of all-things OLPC, some context. I have written for OLPC News before, am the Dad of a child in the target audience for the XO Tablet, and am a long-time OLPC supporter (with nearly 4 years of being employed by a state education department to support XO deployments). I’m also a well-known exponent of that other transformative mobile platform, the iPad, of which I’ve owned every model and even co-founded the Slide2learn.net community to support. I’ve also owned a Nexus7 Android tablet since its launch. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t have been more excited to get an XO tablet that sits right at the convergence of all these interests.

So, first impressions: I love the green case. Its chunky and grip-able and …

- Read the whole article at OLPC News here: http://www.olpcnews.com/tablets/xo_tablet/the_xo_tablet_-_a_first_impression_in_750_words.html

 

 

 

Response to a PC-era’s review of the XO Tablet

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At OLPC News there are a few good articles overviewing the XO Tablet and what it means for learners and well as One Laptop per Child’s overall program. The most recent one gives a more negative view than some which is good for balance but seems to be coming from someone still thinking that PC and PostPC devices can’t both have a place.

Go here to read it.

(http://www.olpcnews.com/tablets/xo_tablet/the_xo_tablet_violates_fundame.html)

Here FYI was my response :)

Nice to see a balanced overview here thanks Edward. For my part tho – and I’ve worked with XOs for over three years, and tablets as well – the one thing (something Wayan alluded to in his articles) that has me interested in the XO Tablet is the bundled software – I don’t think anyone could seriously think that part time volunteer coders writing in Python for Sugar can now ever compete with the quality of apps available for Android and especially iOS – there is no comparison in capability. So whatever hardware design one prefers (and lets face it, cheap but decent bluetooth keyboards can be used with the XO tablet very easily – some even combine with a case) IF the software is lacking then you can do very little with them, or at least very little in comparison to what’s in the Play Store and App Store. Am I right? And isn’t a sugar port headed to the XO tablet anyways?

 

Smart Watches and wearable tech – the next computing frontier

Wanted to share my recent article on this topic with you all. As the miniaturisation of tech continues, there is every chance that small wearable devices like smart watches will be the next are that we as educators explore regarding how it’s mobility and ubiquitousness can enhance learning…

Read the article at Mactalk HERE.

 

 

The iPad mini review for Educators

“It seems to me that in the last 2 1/2 years, Apple have pretty much already done the work needed to explain to most people what the iPad is. And now, there’s a mini version – it really is that simple. Yes you might want to know its not just mini, it’s super thin and only slightly heavier than most phones. This in itself makes it an important entrant in the tablet world where half the point is portability. You might also want to know that it’s a solid slice of aluminum and beautifully constructed.

Beyond this, I’d probably also point out that Apple has done well in their goal of continuing to try and make the hardware disappear until all that you notice is the screen and the portals that apps open up for you. The keyboard (one which I’ve typed this whole article) is a little awkward in portrait, but I fixed that using iOS’s split keyboard option (the first time I’ve found a use for it). I would just also mention that the stereo speakers are great – quite loud and unlike no speakers in any iPad before. For me, the fact that there is space enough to include them in the mini makes it clear why Apple has moved to a smaller dock connector.

WHAT ABOUT EDUCATION?
Apple CEO Tim Cook reported during the iPad mini launch that 2500 US classrooms are now using iPads. He also stated earlier this year that in the preceding quarter Apple had sold 1 million iPads just to schools. In Australia the Sydney Morning Herald (1.7.12) has reported that 60% of Catholic Schools in the Sydney area have deployed them, with large official trials having been run by almost every state Education Department as well. If the figures I see in my day job and Slide2learn.net roles are anything to go by, there could be more than 70,000 iPads in schools across the country. So, yes, iPad is big in education. But what then does the mini’s smaller size and screen mean for learning?

So far since Friday I’ve personally seen the mini in the hands of just one kid, my own 5 year old. She is very taken by it, and I must say that seeing her with it vs the larger iPad 1 she normally gets to use, I feel happier as a parent that its lighter and more ergonomic for her to hold. She hasn’t had any troubles with the smaller iPhone-sized touch points that the smaller screen has (and neither have I).

There is actually a group of young students in New Zealand…”

Read the full review at: Mactalk.com.au

 

 

The touchscreen XO – a (p)review & update on OLPC Australia

Preview: XO-4 Duo hybrid laptop/tablet from OLPC Australia

  • Based on use of an early XO with touchscreen prototype

 

Announced just recently but under development for sometime is the next hardware iteration of the ‘its an education program not a laptop program’ XO. Once hyped as the ‘$100 laptop’ at at time when such machines cost many hundreds more, the final manufacturing price of the XO-1 was closer to $200 plus – but even so the impact of the XO’s development was enough to shock traditional computer companies such as Intel and Microsoft into helping birth the netbook and focusing on emerging markers with new energy.

Since this time, well over 2 million XOs have been deployed worldwide, some successfully into sustainable programs that are still on going, and some not so successfully (the difference has often been the quality of teacher training and the level of partnership with education providers). An upgraded XO-1.5 with a faster processor and improved trackpad was released in late 2010, but since the original model with its unique Yves Behar child-friendly design debuted back in 2008, the world of computing has dramatically changed. No longer are cheap netbooks the frontier of computing. Instead, it is even lighter and longer-battery life tablets and smartphones with touch screens and accelerometers that fill Christmas stockings. So how is the XO design evolving to stay relevant in such a ‘PostPC’ era? And can OLPC continue to partner with existing education systems so that this new design can get into students hands?

Externally the design of the XO is staying unchanged. Like a classic car (or even Apple’s product designs that often don’t change much for years) the basic rugged green XO exterior that screams ‘made for kids not adults’ remains. I can personally attest to the ruggedness of the design, having seen it thrown across classrooms and known it to have been immersed in water with no negative effects. So its a good thing to know that this tried and tested design will be continued for the XO1.75 and XO4 Duo.

One thing that is being changed in the next versions however is the keyboard. While the rubberised keypad of the original certainly helped it maintain its water resistant reputation, typing anything more than a few words quickly becomes a pain – perhaps not for the littlest kids who haven’t known anything else, but from about year 3 many schools know that students can become as likely to pick the rubber apart as to enjoy a lot of typing. Partly because of this, and also because its responding to teacher request for the keys to feature upper and lower case letters, the keyboard has been redesigned. New XOs will feature a keyboard much closer to the standard plastic ‘chiclet’ keys of other laptops – still with a rubber membrane underneath I believe. Wether it can stop the keys being damaged is yet unknown, but typing I can confirm is improved by many magnitudes.

The other external item also being updated (for the XO4 Duo) is the screen. A Neonode touchscreen is being added in a move that allows the XO design to properly embrace the tablet mode it has always had (the ‘Duo’ branding to be used in Australia has been chosen to reflect this fact). Where the current model limits tablet-mode use to a few activities where the side controller buttons have been programmed to provide some control (Camera, Maze), the XO4 activities will all be controllable via touch, something which many schools who have deployed iPads have discovered is something students find inherently intuitive.

As far as responsiveness goes, I have found the early prototype I’m previewing to be good. A full analysis will have to wait for a production model probably when the software hopefully will have been updated and optimised (at the moment the prototype just enables touch but with the old, mouse and trackpad orientated interface). One other thing to note is that at least in the one I’m using, this change to a touchscreen has also dramatically improved the clarity of the screen. After the rubber keyboard, my biggest personal criticism of the XO has been that even though its screen has always been quite hi-res (1200×900 at 7.5 inches at a time when standard laptops had this resolution on 12inch or larger panels), something about the design of the new one (reportedly almost of ‘retina’ class at 300dpi) has removed the slight blurriness of the old one that meant for me at least that any prolonged use tended to involve eye strain.

Internally, the changes are much greater due to the change of the whole processor architecture to being ARM-based – the same kinds of chips that smartphones and tablets use. These chips use much less power but provide faster processing than the equivalent laptop or PC chips of larger devices. This means that even on this early prototype, the machine is noticeably faster at nearly all tasks, bringing it in line with the current laptops and smart devices. Bootup time in my testing is almost doubled, and opening and closing activities, which even on the XO 1.5 left students sitting idle for several crucial seconds, is also much better.

Apart from this, I can’t comment too much on the non-touch optimised software, however activities like Paint already work well. It will be very interesting to see how others get updated (and what a potential touch-friendly version of Gnome looks like) in the leadup to the XO4 Duo’s anticipated release date around April 2013.

 

Despite all these technological improvements, I want to highlight another development that I consider to be even more important – that being the partnering and training focus that OLPC Australia has developed to support its XO deployments, particularly the upcoming ‘One Education’ expansion that could see 50,000 XOs in student hands here by end of 2014. Where once OLPC has had a reputation for going-it-alone and seeing established Education systems as being part of the problem, the Australian arm has been able to change from also having this stance to partner and work with schools and education providers. In this way, its mandating of pre-deployment teacher training, its having schools contribute some of the support funds, and also its offering of post-deployment training and extension modules like XO Champions and XO Mechanics has been adopted and even advocated for by the state schools sector in a way that is already strengthening the sustainability of the program across the country. The challenge will be for OLPC to maintain this sense of partnership so that that their program can reach the current 50,000, and future 300,000 goals it has set.

In 2007 as a young mobile learning blogger who had been writing about digital voice recorders, Palm and Windows Mobile PDAs and dumbphones (although we thought at the time they were smart) I wrote about how the XO was the first major computing product that had been designed for children first, rather than just being corporate hardware requiring teachers to translate into schools. At the time I never dreamed I’d get the chance in 2009 to trial them at my own primary school, or help manage the deployment of thousands of them across Australia. With a continued focus on partnering, the training that comes with the One Education program, the classic tried and tested design, and soon the upgraded hardware, I, and many other teachers and students across Australia are gaining access to the potential of connected learning.

We (as in the education department I work for) don’t see the XO as being the entire solution itself however. Indeed some of our XO classrooms are also using iPads and other devices in tandem with their green machines. Committed teachers and schools are making the difference – but it is an advantage to have a ‘personal learning device’ built for education first.

[PS. As usual, opinions expressed are mine and not necessarily those of my employer]