Understanding the origins of learning language. Awesome TED talk and MIT research.

March 31, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Social Computing 

How do we learn a language from birth? This is something I confess I have never thought about in depth but with a 4 month old baby it is something I will soon be actively involved in supporting. This simply awesome talk from Deb Roy is well worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time as it takes you through the work MIT have been doing to understand the development of language in children. The model then builds to show the ways in which data can be analysed to show the impact of social networks on society.

Understanding the problems with US Schools: Bill Gates says states think Big Money- little scrutiny.

March 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Educational Change 

Following on from my post yesterday which made a comparison between educational systems in the US and Finland there is a great talk from Bill Gates at TED. Although it appears a little of topic to start with as it looks at state budgets the big picture is really useful and soon the focus turns to the looming problem as an ever expanding deficit can only lead to swingeing cuts in education budgets.

Contrasting Educational Systems: comparing the US and Finland as models

March 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Educational Change 

As anybody in the US or UK will know there has been a profound amount of change in both countries educational systems in the last decade. Whilst ever increasing amounts of money have been spent both the US and UK have been sliding down the various educational league tables. Over the last week I have been looking in more depth at differing educational systems across the world and thought it would be interesting to share a few videos on this topic. The first is a short thought provoking video outlining what is considered by many to be the most successful educational system  in the world. The 2 Million Minutes video covers the principal attributes of Finland’s education system.

At the same time this week I have been watching the various clashes across the US as government spending leads to reduced budgets and personal financial challenges for teachers. One of my favourite programmes from the US is The Daily Show and one of their guests this week was Diane Ravitch who has significant experience and input into educational policy. She has recently written a number of books including ‘Left back, a century of failed school reforms’ and ‘The Death and Life of Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education’ which focus on the US educational system and her changing views on the direction of policy.

I managed to track down two video interviews with Diane on YouTube which I found really useful as a starter for an introduction to some of the percieved issues with educational reform in the US.

The second video has embed disabled so I will just provide the link to YouTube if you are interested here.

Student views of the iPad2 and tablet revolution. Do we really just need a Dell Inspirion Duo?

March 3, 2011 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Netbooks, Social Computing 

As many of you will know yesterday was the launch of the latest Apple ‘must-have’ device-  iPad2. During a lesson I was teaching a student started a conversation which surprised me a little. Seeing I had an iPhone as I checked the time one student asked if I was planning to but the iPad2. After suggesting that I would probably end up buying one as I have a technology addiction I was surprised by their response. When I asked if they would like to buy one the quickly responded that ‘The iPad is surely the most pointless device I have ever seen’.

Thinking this might be a faiRly isolated response I asked the whole class what their views were on the ipad and tablets in general. To my surprise 18 out of 21 didnt want a tablet device of any form. The main reason for rejecting the tablet revolution? 16 of the students wanted a real keyboard. I then showed them a device which is a tablet/netbook hybrid- The Dell Inspiron Duo which can be seen below.

The response when I showed this video? One student summed it up when they said, ‘The iPad is much cooler but give me the Dell any day for studying and surfing the net.’

Xmas Video Fun: A grocers guide to new technology (digital natives not included).

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era 

I spotted this video on Engadget and it is simply  priceless. A wonderfully scripted take on the use of technology terminology. Enjoy and Happy Christmas.

Dear Sony re: Qriocity streaming media failure. Please can you send me a postal order for £4.50

December 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Cloud Computing, Digital Era 

Dear Sony

I apologise for sending you a memo so close to Christmas, I am sure you are very busy. I am myself disappointed to be writing to you in my holidays when I should be having a break. However your lack of service this evening has forced me to put virtual pen to virtual paper to express my frustration. If you don’t mind indulging me for a moment I will add a little context to explain why you have angered me so much.

You see  this memo stems from the fact that I am a huge fan of streamed services and the cloud. 5 years ago I had a long discussion with my close ‘geek’ friends about the death of physical media when the emergence of Blue Ray/HD DVD was on the horizon.  I became firmly of the belief that you no longer needed to purchase physical media and could download and hopefully eventually stream all your services when broadband speeds developed. I was so convinced of this that I detached the DVD drive on my Dell Latitude 630 and left it at work to show I did not need it. Need to install a printer driver? Download it off the companies site. Want to watch a movie? Download it from iTunes.

I have been that committed to the removal of physical media that it took 9 months for me to realise that my new Dell XPS Studio arrived with a broken DVD drive. I only worked this out when someone handed me some urgent logos on a CD which I needed to get to someone and had to use the drive. Imagine my excitement therefore when I was hunting for an LCD television in early 2010 and I saw the new Sony range came with Internet TV. Having finally purchased a 32 inch mid- range device today I was excited to hook my Ethernet cable up and check out the Internet options.

Taking pride of place above Love Film was Sony’s new service Qriocity which was another key factor in choosing your product. Most importantly the emergence of HD quality streaming directly to my TV made me feel I could finally break the shackles from iTunes and select HD movies right on my TV to play instantly. Your service has a terrible name (who thought Qriocity up?) but I was not put off by this and signed up online before paring with my TV and choosing my first streamed HD service. I promptly agreed to spend £4.49 and was pleased to see your service offer a caution that it needed to check my broadband speed first having let me know that I would need at least 4.5Mb/s to use the HD element of the service. I consented to your checking in the full knowledge that I have a great broadband network at home and have over 16Mb/s. Please see the image below as confirmation.

I am pleased to say your service came back with a confirmation that I can stream HD and with a speed nearly 4 times the required I was not surprised. I confirmed my purchase and settled down to watch a breathtaking film with Mrs Herrity. From here on in it all went horribly wrong. It has taken me 20 minutes to watch 1 minute 44 seconds of heavily buffered HD content and what is clear is your service is far from as advertised. How did you manage to make such a claim and yet fall so very short of delivery. As a serious glutton for punishment I have even gone back into your service and paid for the SD version of the film just to see if it would play. Although watchable I am sad to say it does regularly buffer, despite the requirements being just 1.5Mb/s which is nearly 12 times lower than my broadband service.

It is therefore with a heavy heart that I request an immediate refund. Given it is the Christmas season and we clearly have not come as far as I had hoped I feel we should go thoroughly old school and I have decided to request the refund in the form of a Gift Postal Order. These things may be as old as the ark but one thing is for sure- they do exactly what they say they will. Please email me for postal details. More importantly, can I ask that you undertake an immediate review of your service ‘Oriocity’ as it is clearly not fit for purpose. Can I suggest as a starting point you take a look at a service called BBC iplayer which suffers no such problems.

I look forward to a prompt reply.

Your in anticipation

Mike Herrity

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