Over the weekend I have been dipping into various online feeds and giving some thought to where we are going within education, e-learning and the digital environment generally. If you want to check out the posts I have been writing you can find them here:
I have also been reflecting on various sources of information coming into my twitter feed. Some thoughts started to come together about the teenagers we teach, their digital consumption and use and their social interaction. The first thing that struck me was a tweet from @ruskin147 on the use of texts by teens:
The article is here and the headline speaks for itself. Teachers of teens will know how important a part of their life texting is but a figure of 3,339 for 13-17 year olds with girls on average texting over 4,000 times is staggering. What surprises me more is the rising trend when this age group who are self confessed as living on Facebook. It appears that this move over the last 3 years has not dulled their appetite for text messaging with an 8% increase year on year.
At the same time I was struck by the video below, however contrived the setup may have been, which continues to show the importance of music within teen culture. This when combined with the growth of smart phones and the rise of apps and data usage (up from 14mb to 62mb per month amongst 13-17 year olds) shows how much of a digital society they are increasingly living in.
At the same time as all this interaction, immersion and interconnectedness one study which was highlighted in the Boston Globe shows a significant decline in empathetic skills amongst teenagers. Whilst these digital natives may be growing a vast social network and are increasingly willing to volunteer it is possible that their ability to care for others is declining. Could it be that our online worlds are leading to a decline in real and genuine relationship skills amongst our teenage generation? As an anecdote, when I first started teaching almost every teenager was on MSN messenger in the UK. I remember the first time I asked a teenager why she liked spending so much time chatting online instead of in person she said ‘it allows me to be more blunt and honest with my friends and tell them what I really feel’. I am sure this is the case for many teenagers and the preference for texting where emotion is so hard to convey over voice calls can surely only lead to less empathetic teenagers?
Earlier this weekend I spotted an RSA Animate created for a speech made by Sir Ken Robinson. The topic was changing educational paradigms and the challenge of creating a public educational system which matches the needs of our 21st Century world. They style of presentation mixed with the talk are very engaging and I found myself returning to the key themes over and over again during the last 24 hours. The video is fairly short and well worth investing the time to look at if you are interested in the challenges we face as educators.
If this has left you wanting more you can see the whole talk by Sir Ken Robinson below.
One of the websites I have recently come across is YTTMwhich stands for YouTube Time Machine. The idea was thought up early in 2010 as a way of organising video into selection by years. Having seen the site on BBC’s Click I took a look and could see the relevancy for people looking back nostalgically at past years or decades.
The interface is basic and the site is currently in Alpha so it is likely to see improvements over time. It is nice and simple to use but I was instantly frustrated by the random nature in which videos are served up. Even though 1969 only had 8 videos available I could not see what all 8 were I was just served up one at random (although there is an option for category filter). If I wanted to see another one I would then click for another random selection. I suspect this has much to do with the idea behind the site of just looking back and getting a lucky dip response rather than wanting to research a key event.
Despite this limitation in functionality I did find my self intrigued and continually clicking within years until I came across this video from 1969 called ‘The Internet in 1969′. What a great resource for a student to take a look at and see what people thought was likely to happen to technology in the near future. Turns out they were pretty close but it has taken a little longer than planned!
Delving further as an Historian I headed over to 1943 to see what sort of historical videos they had on the site from World War Two.
My overall view of the site? I think it is a lot of fun and would happily recommend people to visit it casually as a social history site which is what in essence it is. The functionality allows you to filter by categories including music, sport, movies, current events, television etc which is really useful for the purpose of social history. It is fair to say it was probably not built as a student research tool and so does not quite fit the bill but would certainly give them a good insight into some aspects of life in the 20th Century.
The ‘third way’ in creating engaging presentations? PptPlex brings canvas functionality to PowerPoint
Over the last few weeks I have been looking at a few technologies which have appeared on my radar and which I think are worth sharing with other educationalists/technologists. In case you want to track back and take a look at the previous posts they are below:
- Pogoplug for a great online storage system you can access anywhere.
- Animotofor compelling videos on the fly.
- Animotothoughts from Chris Thomson.
- Prezi for engaging presentations which show overview and depth.
- Prezi thoughts from twitter and the blog.
Today I wanted to look at a possible ‘third way’ when looking at presentation technology. Whereas Prezi is often seen as the antidote to PowerPoint this may be an issue if you have lots of great PowerPoint presentations which you want to keep using but like the functionality offered in Prezi. Well in this case perhaps pptPlex is for you.
PptPlex is another technology which has come out of Microsoft Office Labs and is an add on to PowerPoint. It gives a canvas style functionality which allows you to move around your slides in a non-linear fashion. Microsoft have produced a quick overview video which will help to get a flavour of what you can do with pptPlex.
A number of people on twitter and the blog likened the functionality you get with pptPlex to that which you can get in Prezi and there are clearly significant overlaps. I also watched a presenter use the technology at a conference recently to great effect. The advantage for him is he has a dozen or more presentations which he put on to a canvas and was able to jump around looking at different topics as and when he wanted. More interestingly when I spoke to him at the end of his session he said he thought the real benefit was he could respond to the audience and never felt he had to cover everything in the canvas.
Thinking about the classroom there is a really useful video which gives both a demonstration of how you use pptPlex and an example of a learning based application.
The last post on ‘Prezi- the end of death by PowerPoint?’ led to a good debate on twitter and the blog and I thought it would be useful to share what others had to say. I also have some examples from a few people which are worth sharing.
Nick Dennis an Assistant Headteacher @nickdennis commented
‘I agree that Prezi is not the solution but that is because the tool is not the main thing (Keynote and PowerPoint 2010 included) but the human behind it. Some of the best presentations I have seen consisted of nothing more than pictures and that was because the presenter had really thought about it..’
Also in agreement was @simfin who said
‘Rubbish in-rubbish out. and PowerPoint doesn’t kill interest, bullet points do.’
He also shared a blog post on effective presentations he has written which can be viewed here
Witty thoughts from other twitter members can in the form of @tonyparkin who said:
‘Is death by Prezi any less painful than death by PowerPoint, or merely less expensive?’
and @stevegillott who made the same observation as me in saying:
‘Prezi – the start of motion sickness due to badly designed Prezis.’
Beyond the comments a number of people shared what they felt were good examples of the capability of Prezis.
@mattmoo2 has created a presentation introducing the Internet to people:
@chrisrat has a presentation on emarketing and social networking:
As many of you will know I have never been one to be on the bleeding edge of new technology. I tend to pick up things which have been around for a year or so when they are more mainstream and this is probably the case with Prezi. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting when I saw Prezi for the first time and it certainly caught my eye. Prezi is a reaction to the dullness of presentations such as those labelled ‘death by powerpoint’. It has zoomable functionality which allows the presenter to show the big picture and also zoom into detail. A video explaining Prezi in greater detail can be viewed below.
I found this video in itself a bit dull as a form of presentation! I had a look around at examples of actual presentations using Prezi and the one below is probably a good example in showing some of the functionality that comes with the web based software.