Children and Technology

Happy New Year to you all!!

I hope you had a great Christmas holiday. We had a lovely time, though it did seem to be very tech laden 2 weeks despite my best efforts to get us all away from computers and gadgets.

My children are really starting to get in to technology now. My youngest son (age 6) got Minecraft for Christmas and so we spent a lot of time trying to work out what was going on!? My husband received 2 Raspberry Pis (bad present co-ordination!) – maybe these offered too much of a busman’s holiday for him because he spent the entire week hiding from the PC and doing Sudoko puzzles…

…it is possible to enjoy yourself without technology over Christmas

…it is possible to enjoy yourself over Christmas without technology.

Anyway, a post Christmas lunch discussion with the in-laws got me thinking about how I really feel about the relationship between my children and technology. So apologies that this post doesn’t directly relate to remote working but I hope some of you find it useful and/or interesting.

My children don’t have a huge amount of technical kit of their own, they share a Wii and the two girls (aged 9 and 11) have an iPod touch each. They all have access to a PC, though we monitor use. They also see laptops, iPads and Macs in action (i.e. they can have a go but don’t own them).

My two girls tend to use their iPods to play games, make movies and listen to music. It is purely a leisure tool, and while they are a lot more computer savvy than my parents they aren’t doing anything ground breaking with their kit. I’d like my children to be rounded individuals who are lucky enough to experience lots of different aspects of life. Although they aren’t very outdoorsy they are pretty in to sport (dance, swimming, tae-kwondo), reading, art, playing, and music. However technology is an important part of life these days so there is no point in running away from it. Both my husband and I work in a tech world and I’d like my children to have good technical skills – these will help them whatever career they choose.

So basically I’d like to my children to use the time they spend on technical devices in a more productive way. Time to move on from Angry birds and in to a good understanding of how technology and computer programming works.

Scratch Cat

Scratch Cat

Last year my oldest started looking at Scratch. Created by MIT it allows children (or adults) to create interactive stories, games, and animations and share them. It does this through teaching the basics of object orientated programming – so children start to learn the concepts behind software. It’s a great tool.

Over Christmas I also stumbled upon Learn an hour of code: “a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color“. Over a week in December last year they tried to encourage everyone in the US, from children to OAPs, to spend an hour coding. The site offers some amazing resources including links to a whole set of hour-long tutorials. My children loved the games on Tynker.com. There are also great tutorials available using Light-bot and API Inventor.

I thought it might be useful if I listed some of the other tools we’ve tried out recently or have on our to-do list. I’d also like to mention some great initiatives that have sprung up looking at getting children into programming and beyond.

Kids programming tools

I discovered quite a lot a few of these tools while at the Mozilla Festival last year, here’s a post I wrote about education at MozFest.

  • Scratch: As mentioned before, a great starter tool with some really good tutorials.
  • Chrunchzilla: Has tools for younger kids and teenagers, helps by offering interactive tutorials where kids and adults can play with code, experiment, build, and learn.
  • Robotmind: By programming a robot, students learn about logic, computer science and robotics.
  • Minecraft.edu: Site looking at how Minecraft can be used in schools.
  • Mozilla tools including Thimble (helps you write html), Xray Goggles (grab tool that allows you to hide elements of a web page) and Popcorn Maker (allows editing of video). Hackosaurus has lots of ideas on how to use the tools.
  • Isla: a programming language for children, by Marie Rose Cook, beginner-friendly.
  • Squeakland eToys: An educational tool for teaching children powerful ideas in compelling ways.
  • Waterbear: Based on Scratch but for a variety of different programming languages.
  • Ruby for kids: As it says – a way for kids to learn Ruby!
  • Microsoft Small basic: Some of the examples are a bit complex but there is a nice curriculum to follow if needed

From

From Chrunchzilla

I can also recommend Computer Science unplugged that has a heap of free printable activities that teach computing concepts. We had a go at the binary puzzles over the holiday.

Wikipedia has a list of programming languages simple enough to be used by children – I haven’t tried any of these yet…

Kids programming initiatives

Here are some other code for kids initiatives (quite a few of these ideas came from a discussion that took place on the OKFN discuss list related to gender bias in technology and open data for kids):

  • Make Things Do Stuff: The Mozilla campaign and website aimed at mobilising the next generation of digital makers through kid-friendly events and actions.
  • TechEU: A site that looks at all the learn-to-code initiatives and other noteworthy computer programming education projects across Europe.
  • Code Club: A nationwide (UK) network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11 – unfortunately none near me 😦
  • Prewired: Recently launched club for kids in Edinburgh, inspired by the Young Rewired State Festival of Code.
  • Logo: Foundation to encourage children’s computer skills, US based.
  • Young Rewired State: An independent global network of kids aged 18 and under who have taught themselves to program computers, not really for beginners.
  • Jugend Hackt: Aspin-off of Young Rewired State, organized by OKF Germany – in German.
  • Hackidemia: A global network that designs workshops and kits enabling kids to use curiosity, play, and empathy to solve global challenges. It tends to be more hardware and is beginner-friendly.
  • Hive Learning Network: A New York based learning lab that engages youth around innovation, digital media and web-making – lots of projects and resources.
  • CoderDojo: The open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people. Utilises dojos as a location.
  • Dwengo: Spin-off of a student group, focuses on promoting learning (adults and children) about microcontrollers / robots.
  • Forum voor Informaticawetenschappen a platform in Flanders started by (mostly) teachers wanting to improve the level of IT-education at school – in Flemish.

So have you got any ideas you could add?

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Very Virtual: Kaltura Education Video Summit

Unfortunately I missed the Kaltura Education Video Summit virtual event a few weeks back due to other commitments, but after a friendly email inviting me in I decided to take a look at what was still available.

The home screen with embedded video and virtual hostess

The home screen with embedded video and virtual hostess

The first annual Kaltura Education Video Summit has been billed as the most comprehensive conference dedicated to online video in education, learning, and training. It looked at ways to harness video to improve teaching, learning and training and offered those attending the opportunity to network with the world’s leading education video experts, connect with peers from leading educational institutions and enterprises around the world.

Kultura teamed up with InterCall, industry leaders in virtual environments and webcasting, to provide a really innovative virtual event.

The conference is structured round the main hall (home area), which offers links to all the talks, resources and sponsors.

Virtual exhibition hall

Virtual exhibition hall

You can take a tour around or create a virtual agenda, which will help point you in the direction of interesting sessions.

Blackboards’s interactive Booth

Blackboards’s interactive Booth

This year’s summit had 3 different tracks:

  • The Future of Education
  • Video in Education
  • Enterprise Learning, Training and collaboration
Sharon Flynn, Assistant Director, CELT at NUI Galway, presenting

Sharon Flynn, Assistant Director, CELT at NUI Galway, presenting

Each offered interesting presentations on high-level areas such as open and online education, alongside practical talks on areas such as discussion in the classroom, MOOCs and use of YouTube. Some of the talks are more traditional presentations while others are panel sessions and discussions. As well as attending talks you can take a look around the virtual exhibition hall or sit and have a chat with fellow delegates in the networking lounge. You can then pop all the resources and business cards your collect in to your virtual brief case. And of course everything can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email. You can even upload your own resources and share these with delegates that you meet.

Networking Lounge

Networking Lounge

All pretty impressive stuff! Surprisingly next year’s video summit will be a physical event!

Digital Storytelling

I’m not alone in liking a good story, so the Netskills one-day workshop on Exploring digital storytelling appealed. The workshop looked at why stories are a powerful and effective way of communicating with an audience and how the digital techniques suggested can be used effectively for a wide range of purposes; learning, publicity and marketing, community engagement and more.

Wikipedia describes digital storytelling as “a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, they are usually less than 8 minutes long and can be interactive.”

So I’ll say no more about the day but will let my digital story do the talking. This is my effort from the hands-on session, it was created using WeVideo (a collaborative online video editor) and took me a couple of hours to produce all-in. It’s pretty rough round the edges and I did think of starting again and re-recording the sound, but then I decided that it was more important to show what could be achieved in a very short amount of time.

Most of the photos in the video were taken in the workshop using my phone, hence not great quality. The others are from Flickr and acknowledgements are given at the end of the footage.

There were some great tools suggested during the workshop, here are a few of my favourites:

  • iMovie – doh! Didn’t even realise I had this on my Mac!
  • Voicethread – great for creating collaborative conversations
  • Pixton – I’ve used it before but a nice comic making tool with a database of graphics
  • Comic Life – A downloadable comic maker
  • Wallwisher – An online notice board
  • Animoto – really quick videos out of still images
  • Splice – video creator for your phone
  • Blue mountains – better search engine for Flickr CC photos
  • Vimeo music store – Free sounds/music – search by genre

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012

Jane Hart, Consultant, speaker and writer at Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, has created an excellent presentation on the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 as voted for by 500+ learning professionals worldwide. The presentation is available from Slideshare and embeded below.

The tools list is perfect for online learning, collaboration and remote working, and is embedded below.

Personal/Professional use, in Education and/or in the Enterprise.

↑↓

rank

Tool

Notes

Pers

Edu Ent

=

1

Twitter Social network & micro-blogging service

βœ”

βœ”

=

2

YouTube Video-sharing site

βœ”

βœ”

=

3

Google Docs/Drive Office suite and data storage service

βœ”

βœ”

(βœ”)

↑ 11

4

Google Search Web search engine

βœ”

=

5

WordPress Blogging/website tool

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

=

6

Dropbox File synchronization

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 3

7

Skype Text and voice chat tool

βœ”

βœ”

(βœ”)

↑ 11

8

PowerPoint Presentation software

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 5

9

Facebook Social network

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 1

10

Wikipedia Collaborative encyclopaedia

βœ”

(βœ”)

↓ 3

11

Moodle Course management system

βœ”

(βœ”)

↑ 5

12

Evernote Note-taking tool

βœ”

↓ 4

13

Slideshare Slide sharing site

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 7

14

Prezi Presentation software

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 3

15

Blogger/Blogspot Blogging tool

βœ”

βœ”

=

16

Google Reader RSS aggregator

βœ”

↑ 9

17

Google+ / Hangouts Social network/video meetings

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 5

18

Diigo Social bookmarking/ annotation

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 23

19

Word Word processing software

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 11

20

Yammer Private social networking engine

(βœ”)

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 11

21

EduGlogster Interactive posters

βœ”

=

22

Edmodo Educational social learning network platform

βœ”

↓ 2

23

LinkedIn Professional network

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 9

24

Scoopit  Curation software

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 5

25

TED Talks /Ed Inspirational talks/lessons

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 8

26

Jing Screencasting tool

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 7

27

Gmail Web mail

βœ”

(βœ”)

(βœ”)

=

28

Camtasia Screencasting tool

βœ”

βœ”

=

29

Audacity Audio recorder/editing tool

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 7

30

Wikispaces Wiki hosting platform

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 6

31

Voicethread Digital storytelling platform

βœ”

↑ 27

32

Adobe Connect Web conferencing software

βœ”

↑ 10

33

Google Sites Web/wiki hosting platform

βœ”

βœ”

(βœ”)

↑ 10

34

iPad and apps Apple tablet and apps

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 10

35

Google Chrome Web browser

βœ”

NEW

36

Pinterest Virtual pinboard

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 9

37

Articulate E-learning authoring software

βœ”

βœ”

=

38

Google Maps Interactive maps

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 12

39

Animoto Video creating software

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 3

40

Tweetdeck Social media dashboard

βœ”

↑ 32

41

Hootsuite Social media dashboard

βœ”

↑ 5

42

Snagit Screen capture software

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 5

43

Adobe Captivate E-Learning authoring software

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 20

44

Livebinders Digital organizer

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 20

45

Sharepoint Collaboration platform

(βœ”)

βœ”

↑ 6

46

Mindmeister Mindmapping software

βœ”

↑ 19

47

iTunes and iTunesU Audio/video player / course distribution platform

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 24

48

Delicious Social bookmarking tool

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 20

49

Outlook Email client

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 10

50

Blackboard Collaborate (previously Elluminate) Web conferencing software

βœ”

↑ 23

51

SurveyMonkey Survey software

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

52

Google Scholar Search engine for scholarly works

βœ”

(βœ”)

BACK

53

Adobe Photoshop Image editing software

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

54

WebEx Web conferencing software

βœ”

↓ 20

55

Google Apps Branded Google apps

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 18

56

Khan Academy Video learning platform

βœ”

NEW

57

Google Translate Online language translator

βœ”

↑ 24

58

Quizlet Flashcards & study games

βœ”

↓ 3

59

Scribd Document sharing site

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 24

60

flickr Photo sharing site

βœ”

βœ”

NEW

61

Flipboard Social magazine for iPad etc

βœ”

NEW

62

Bing Web search engine

βœ”

↓ 6

63

Ning Community platform

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 13

64

Screenr Screencasting tool

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

65

Firefox + addons Web browser

βœ”

NEW

66

Instapaper Read it later tool

βœ”

↑ 2

67

Udutu Collaborative course authoring

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

68

MovieMaker Movie authoring tool

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

69

Mindjet (prev MindManager) Mindmapping tool

βœ”

↑ 12

70

Kindle E-book reader

βœ”

↑ 29

71

OneNote Note-taking software

βœ”

↓ 18

72

Wallwisher Online noticeboard

βœ”

NEW

73

Zite Social magazine for iPad

βœ”

↓ 19

74

iPhone and apps Apple smartphone and apps

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 7

75

Poll Everywhere Live polling

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 14

76

Pocket (prev Read it Later) Read it later software

βœ”

↓ 3

77

Edublogs Educational blogging platform

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 29

78

Vimeo Video sharing site

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 40

79

Wordle Word cloud generator

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 39

80

Symbaloo (and Edu version) Visual bookmarking dashboard

βœ”

βœ”

=

81

Excel Spreadsheet software

βœ”

βœ”

βœ”

↑ 8

82

Paper.li Curation tool

βœ”

↓ 15

83

lino.it Sticky note service

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 44

84

Voki Speaking avatars

βœ”

↑ 5

85

Buddypress Social engine (WordPress plugin)

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 28

86

eFront Course/Learning Management System

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 26

87

OpenOffice Office software

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 54

88

PBWorks Wiki software

βœ”

NEW

89

Learnist Pinboard learning sites

βœ”

βœ”

NEW

90

MentorMob Create Learning Playlists

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 24

91

Mahara ePortfolio/social networking platform

βœ”

NEW

92

Doodle Event scheduling

βœ”

βœ”

BACK

93

Keynote Presentation software

βœ”

(βœ”)

↓ 6

94

Android phones and tablets Devices using Google mobile operating system

βœ”

(βœ”)

↓ 6

95

Blackboard Course management system

βœ”

BACK

96

Tumblr Micro-blogging platform

βœ”

NEW

97

Quora Q&A platform

βœ”

NEW

98

Windows Skydrive File synchronization

βœ”

NEW

99

Popplet Visual bookmarking

βœ”

βœ”

↓ 6

100

iMovie Video creation software

βœ”

βœ”

IOE12 Badge Time?

In January this year I spotted a tweet by a colleague who had decided to try out the Introduction to Openness in Education (#ioe12) MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). The course content sounded interesting and it provided me with a free and easy way to try online learning, so I decided to give it a go.

It’s taken me 6 months to write a post about every module (with a couple of observational posts thrown in):

To get the OpenEd Overview course badge I need to link to all my posts (which I’ve done) and announce my intent to have completed the badge. Which I’m doing now! I’ve also emailed David Wiley – just to be double sure!

Once I get my badge I’ll finish with a summing up post telling you about all the things I’ve learned.

Open Policy: the Opposite of Open is Broken

The opening resource for the Open Policy #ioe12 module is a video of Cable Green, Director of Global Learning; Creative Commons, giving the keynote at ALN 2011. Cable is β€œinterested in questioning current policy and seeing if we can do a little better”. Cable makes the argument that everyone in world can obtain the education they require but to do so we need to be open with our education through OER and sharing. He starts with the allegory of a β€˜learning machine’ that we could quite easily turn on but we need to break the ‘iron triangle’ of access (the assumption that quality, exclusivity, and expense necessarily go together). During the talk he name checks all of the other open areas discussed in the Introduction to Openness in Education MOOC and talks of their importance.

Cable explains that the biggest issue is that we have in the openness agenda is policy. Those that make decisions on policy do not understand the tools used (such as the Internet) and that they are only making decisions within the framework of the business models that they understand. He suggests we focus on policy because it is ‘where the money is’.

Cable believes that the publicly funded resources should be open resources and we need to move towards a public policy. He goes on to highlight areas of best practice (e.g Holland and the Wikiwijs project). He concludes that only one thing really matters – efficient use of public funds. Policy makers goal is to have the highest return on investments, Creative Common’s goal is that open policy embraced by all.

The talk was inspiring, but Cable’s concerns that the open community still has a long way to go ring true.

Only last week the Daily Mail published an article entitled ‘Open access’ move puts thousands of UK jobs at risk. I probably don’t need to explain the detail here as the title gives it away but the Daily Mail is arguing that by providing much of Britain’s academic output online for nothing the Β£1billion publishing industry that employs 10,000 people here and in its overseas operations could go under. Not only that but researchers in China and elsewhere in the Far East will have access to our research. [In his talk Cable actually states that we need to move away from β€œnot invented here” to β€œproudly borrowed from there”].The article lacks any exploration of possible business models (discussed in the open business module or by various journals and academics around the Web) or understanding that a mixed model is the one most likely to happen. There is a response from SPARC that makes effort to correct the inaccuracies. SPARC Europe is an alliance of European academic and research libraries, national libraries, library organisations and research institutions. It does feel like we are banging our head against a brick wall a little…

OK, so back to open policy. Most of the other resources are actual open access policies such as National Institute of Health (NIH) Access Policy and the Federal Research Public Access Act and records of country and policy support of open educational resources (OER).

I think it is worth mentioning here current open data policy – in the US the data.gov and in the UK open.gov.uk.

So to end with some words from Cable Green: “The opposite of open is not closed, the opposite of open is broken.

So that’s it!! I’ve finished the Introduction to Openness MOOC! It’s taken me 6 months and a big pocket of determination. My next post using the ioe12 tag will be a sum up of what I’ve learned (about openness in education and about taking a MOOC). Time for a celebratory coffee! πŸ˜‰

Open Business Models

At first sight the penultimate Introduction to Openness in Education #ioe12 module on Open Business Models looks like one of the drearier ones, no videos to kick off with and just a long list of papers written by John Wiley and friends.

Business isn’t really my thing but I am generally interested in ‘how stuff gets paid for’, from the Internet and public services, to shops and music festivals. If ‘how it gets paid for’ make sense then it is more likely that it is sustainable and will be around for a while. I’ve tried to stop myself betting on ‘how long it will last??’ every time a new shop opens up in town – recession bingo? Anyway I’m sure that one of the first questions asked whenever the β€˜open’ word is used is “so if it’s ‘free’ who pays for it?”.

The answer is naturally very complex but some key points are worth noting:

Firstly, there are many business reasons for making products (e.g. resources, courses, books, software etc.) open and freely available.

Giving away ebooks gives me artistic, moral and commercial satisfaction” Cory Doctorow

  • Making courses available online can increase the number of students registering at an institution.
  • OpenCourseWare programmes can be conducted in a financially self-sustaining manner.
  • Authors can find that book sales increase when books are available as free downloads.
  • Free access can have a positive effect on a nation’s economy through scientific progress.
  • Online texts are often have reduced overheads.

However for all these points one could also add “but it is not always the case”.

One not so positive example given is that of Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert cartoon strip. Adams, wrote of his disappointment with readers after he released one of his older books for free online:

My hope was that the people who liked the free e-book would buy the sequel [which was newly available in hard copy]. According to my fan mail, people loved the free book. I know they loved it because they e-mailed to ask when the sequel would also be available for free. For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops.” Rich, M. (2010, Jan. 22). With Kindle, the Best Sellers Donβ€˜t Need to Sell. The New York Times.

The key seems to be both audience and timing of release.

Secondly, licences have a key role to play in ensuring that the ‘right people’ have free access to resources. For example we are a lot happier about students having free access to e-books than we are about companies taking free e-books and publishing them for commercial profit. Licences help with mixed market approaches in which companies publish free e–textbooks or resources and supporting then with commercial initiatives. Also many companies are utilising the “fermium” pricing strategy in which some goods are given away for free, while premium services are available for a price.

So these points are interesting but don’t necessarily explain the business model for β€˜open’. It seems to me that many companies take the loss leader or freemium approach and hope that money can be made elsewhere. Some use advertising to support products while public sector institutions receive public funding which allows them to share resources. However as Anderson, 2008 puts it in the Wired article Free! Why $0.00 is the future of business although ‘free’ is an alluring adjective, it is not always a good business model“. There are many risks involved and those after sustainable models need to continue to think in an innovative way about approaches. Whatever the situation it is clear that the Internet has allowed people to be more open about business models and create ‘open business models’.