The future of textbooks in schools is digital.

June 2, 2011 by · 27 Comments
Filed under: Digital Era, e-learning 

One of the most frustrating elements of working in education and being a technologist is the lack of progress with digital textbooks. A whole raft of new curriculum changes have led to hundreds of new textbooks in the last few years but all of these were in paper form. What about digital resources? Publishers continue to look to traditional methods and maintain their market share by producing cd roms and inserting them in the back of textbooks to encourage future sales.

Amidst all this disappointing lack of progress we have seen the tablet segment of the devices market explode in 2011. Surely these devices present a medium which is tailor-made for the creation of digital content within education. A recent TED video showcased a new publishing platform for the ipad which I believe offers educational publishers a route to producing compelling digital resources to support learning within schools. Push, pop, press are in the process of creating a publishing platform which they plan to license and which allows quick and easy creation of compelling interactive e-books. Take a look at the video to see what they have achieved with their production of Al Gore’s Our Choice.

It will be interesting to see how the publishers respond. Any future lack of progress should surely be a sign to those of us in education that we need to start publishing our own content. After all we used to pay people a lot of money to produce websites due to the specialist skills required. Then WordPress, Joomla et al came along and showed us that maybe it wasnt so difficult to do it ourselves.

Windows 8 Preview at Computex 2011

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Windows 8 

Yesterday Microsoft gave us a first look at their latest OS, Windows 8 which is due to launch in 2012. This is a major upgrade to Microsoft Windows with Windows 8 featuring full touchscreen integration and a tile based interface for quick launching apps. The UI in particular takes its lead from Windows Phone 7 while the touchscreen features are a clear attempt to catch up with Apple’s ipad.

Check out the video below to see the Windows 8 features in the flesh.

Generation Z and the social media revolution. What are our digital natives doing online?

June 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Social Computing 

The impact of social media on the students we teach in our secondary and further education establishments is undoubtedly significant. I have spent a little time this week during the half term break thinking about and researching the online behaviours of Generation Z and the role that these digital natives are playing in shaping social media. CBS have put together a useful inforgraphic video which highlights some key trends in social media use by Generation Z and it is well worth taking a few minutes to look at it.

If you have not seen my previous entries on digital natives it may be worth having a look at ‘How do we meet a challenge like my nephew? Digital Natives coming to a school near you.

New Dell XPS 15z Ultra-thin laptop.

May 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era 

After Dell’s failed attempt to rival Apple’s Macbook Air with the Dell Adamo they are back in the Ultra-thin laptop market. Check out this teaser for the Dell XPS 15z which is due for availability in June. Looks fantastic!

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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