Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Motorola supports innovation in young people with grant program

Motorola and the Motorola Foundation "support the education, economic, environmental and social needs of communities around the world."

"The 2007 Innovation Generation Grants support 106 breakthrough programs that use innovative approaches to develop interest in technology-related fields while strengthening leadership and problem-solving skills. The grants target programs that encourage girls and ethnic groups currently underrepresented in technology fields."

Motorola also links recipients of the Innovation Generation Grants with each other through a new company-hosted portal site that expands and enhances the global network of advocates for education in science, technology, engineering and math.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Innovation in Education....futurelab

If you haven't discovered the futurelab website.....now is the time.

A colleague from the UK had sent me the link to futurelab last year and I have read through many of the intriguing articles and projects from this not-for-profit organization in the UK.

What does futurelab do? "Futurelab is passionate about transforming the way people learn. Tapping into the huge potential offered by digital and other technologies, they develop innovative resources and practices that support new approaches to learning for the 21st century."

The list of projects (that I encourage you to explore) futurelabs have helped come to fruition are exhaustive. One of the latest projects is MobiMission - "a location-based, social, mobile phone experience for young people aged 16-18 that enables players to engage with their environment and community in new ways."

Explore the list of resources .... some may even challenge your thinking and beliefs in the development of digital technologies and education.

If you are a teacher, instructor, professor, administrator - a member of an education community.....you need to read and explore this website with an open mind!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Open Student Television Network

OSTN (Open Student Television Network) was launched in 2005 by the CampusEAI Consortium and Internet2, a 24/7 worldwide channel exclusively devoted to student-produced programming.

"OSTN now is delivered to 41 million users at 4,500 university member campuses and 36 countries around the globe. OSTN can be viewed on televisions and personal computers."

OSTN is accessible at colleges and universities around the world through the following methods:
  • Television on Campus
  • Televisions in a Community
  • Laptop and Desktop Computers on Campus
There is a submission process....no uploads randomly like other video websites.

View information on how to become a member and get involved.....read more.
Information on the OSTN Media Festival....read more.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The future workforce may rarely be physically in a traditional office

"Telecommuting, e-commuting, e-work, telework, working at home (WAH), or working from home (WFH) is a work arrangement in which employees enjoy limited flexibility in working location and hours. In other words, the daily commute to a central place of work is replaced by telecommunication links. Many work from home, while others, occasionally also referred to as nomad workers utilize mobile telecommunications technology to work from coffee shops or myriad other locations." (Wikipedia)

Are we moving towards empty offices around the world? Will coffee shops become the new board room? Will gossip around the water cooler now happen in a virtual world instead of the lunch room?

Last year I blogged about preparing our students for working from that "third place." Students today are more comfortable working in an informal environment such as a coffee shop. My question is are we preparing students to manage time and foster engaging work relations from a third place?

Telecommuting seemed to become popular again after 9/11. I was reading an article this morning which was got me on this path called Telecommuting found to boost morale, cut stress wrote that "last year an estimated 45 million Americans telecommuted, an increase of 4 million from 2003, according to the magazine WorldatWork." The article goes on to further discuss how telecommuting can have a positive impact on ones carbon footprint.

Food for Thought.....
So where does this leave the 21st century learner? What skills will be required to successfully manage and work within a telecommute environment?

Managing and accessing data and knowledge is going to be a huge issue if telecommuting continues on this popular pathway. To be able to access your data from anywhere and be sure that this is being done securely will be very important.

Those businesses that foster telecommuting, how will the foster their working community? How will they build their corporate story when many of their employees will not be physically around to contribute?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What is 21st century literacy? Is traditional reading at risk?

I came across an article in the StarTribune.com (you may be required to register to view articles...its free) called "Reading's new chapter?" that discusses the debate over reading literacy levels of students in the USA.

NEA (National Emdowment for the Arts) has released a report called "To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence" [download pdf version] that hilights Americans are reading less and doing it with lower reading abilities.

Some of the highlights from the report:

  • Nearly half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure.
  • People ages 15 to 24 spend only seven to 10 minutes per day on voluntary reading (about 60 percent less than the average American).
  • Reading scores for 17-year-olds are down, while those for 9-year-olds are at an all-time high (ground that is lost in adolescence).
  • Even while reading, 58 percent of middle- and high-school students are watching TV, listening to music or using other media.
  • Literary readers among college graduates dropped from 82 percent in 1982 to 67 percent in 2002.
    (source: StarTribune.com)
Is the problem really about reading levels or is it the ability to change the assessment tools and standards to reflect digital literacy?

I blogged a while back about hand writing and questioned if this skill is one that could be lost? Through my own discovery and understanding from discussions with colleagues and further research, I have come to the belief that it is a skill that is evolving and changing. Could the same then be said for reading?

Should students be forced to read books? Are books the answer for the 21st century learner or are there other types of communication that will be equally or more important for the future success of these learners? Are education systems around the world evolving fast enough and in the right direction for the needs of these learners?

As governments struggle to find the magic formula that will put their people...their country ahead in the 21st century. We can not afford to hang onto old schools of thought and we need to be prepared to change...as scary as that can be.

The 21st century learner is different than previous generations...everything around them has helped this evolution. Technology has given us instant communication, the ability to author our own media presentations and publications, and technology has given us an easy and accessible route to submit our opinions and comments...such as this blog. The 21st century learner thinks about the world very differently and has always had access to it at the touch of a keyboard.

Remember...technology and innovation gave civilization the courage to realize the world wasn't flat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Researchers develop a virtual elearning teacher that responds to learner emotions

A research team at Massey University in Auckland have created a virtual teacher called Eve that is part of a new teaching system.

The Massey scientists, led by Dr Hossein Sarrafzadeh at the Auckland-based Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences have developed the system initially for "one-to-one maths teaching with eight-year-olds."

"The animated Eve (with a human-sounding voice) can ask questions, give feedback, discuss questions and solutions and show emotion. To develop the software for this system the Massey team observed children and their interactions with teachers and captured them on thousands of images."


"From these images of facial expression, gestures and body movements they developed programs that would capture and recognise facial expression, body movement, and (via a mouse) heart rate and skin resistance."

Read press release....

School Chat....

A very interesting concept to discuss with your students....computers that can detect and react to human emotion.

This new technology could take computer/human interaction to a new level.

Will emotion now be a part of digital virtual worlds such as social network websites?

How will this "human factor" be able to help businesses build global networks?

Could this have an impact on reducing a global carbon footprint?

Where does this take the learning classroom of the future? As a life-long-learner, will we all be assigned a virtual tutor that could adapt to our career pathway and keep learning from a global knowledge gateway?

Will the virtual teacher become the news aggregate of the future?

So many questions.........

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mova Contour - Technology pushes digital actors to realism in a new film - Beowulf

Since Mickey Mouse and other animated characters appeared on the screen we have watched an amazing evolution of the animated character. A new movie just released in North American theatres this past weekend is Beowulf, an "animated film based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, was the top film at U.S. and Canadian theaters this past weekend..." (source: Bloomberg)

Steve Perlman developed a process:
fluorescent child’s make-up + 44 cameras = captures of 100 thousand reflective points on a human face. Cheaper and less time consuming this process captures a much more realistic digital clone of the human actor. The process is called Mova Contour an advanced motion capture method that "captures subtle movements of body, skin and cloth."

More Reading:

School Chat....
Think of what an experience it would be for young "future technologists" to be exposed to this process from a "road show." In other words - mobile unit with all the motion capture hardware and tools moving from secondary school to secondary school to engage students in a world they could only imagine or read about......think of the possibilities for this industry when these students get into the work force. Do I sense a challenge here for the industry :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Email is so old school.....the young embrace other forms of communication

Okay raise your hands.....how many of you are just getting the hang of email.

Too late!

Let's move on now.....


An interesting article by Digital Chosunilbo .... "New Forms of Online Communication Spell End of Email Era in Korea" writes that due to "replacement forms of communication," the era of email is coming to an end!

Korea is one of the IT power houses in the world. Two quotes from this article said it all, "
I use email when I send messages to elders" and "I use email only for receiving cellphone and credit card invoices." Spoken from two young Koreans in their early twenties.

"Internet messengers, mini-homepages (dubbed "one-man media"), and SMS" in Korea have become the communication tools of choice.

Guess what....this article was written in 2004....feeling really behind the times now?

Today...."South Korea is one of the world's most wired nations, with broadband connections in about 70% of homes. Blogging is a common form of communication." (source: globaltechforum)

One third of South Korean teenagers average 100 text messages per day.....how many of your text messages actually get spelled and sent correctly to the recipient? How many words per minute can you text without looking at the keypad?

School Chat....
So what does this mean for education institutions? Well it means if the only means for your students to communicate with "you" as teacher or with each other while at school is email.....old school.....old technology.

You know the drill, as soon as those kids leave the doors of the school they are back into their multi-sensory, multi-communicative world.

Hmmmm - kind of makes you want to be a kid again, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Font project for scientific and engineering community now released

I am sure there are many science teachers around the world jumping up and down about this project!

The mission of the Scientific and Technical Information Exchange (STIX) "font creation project is the preparation of a comprehensive set of fonts that serve the scientific and engineering community in the process from manuscript creation through final publication, both in electronic and print formats."

Designed to work with all web browsers, word processors, and other scholarly communications software, as well as all general purpose software - this development is a huge step in scientific, mathematical and engineering communities.
(link from: Slashdot.org)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hi Tech Funky Christmas Gift

With Christmas around the corner and being an avid watch collector myself, I had to indulge myself to include this post today. If you haven't discovered Tokyoflash Japan .....you must check it out.

If you are looking for a unique gift for the "techo" in your life or just something different....browse through the various watches that can be shipped worldwide.

Don't be setback by the prices listed as they are all in yen. Go to XE.com Currency Conversion to get an idea of what a watch might cost. For example, 14,000 yen is about 127.00 US or 123.00 CAD.

Take a look through the watch museum to see some of the conceptual and 1-of designs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Popims Animator - Free Morphing Software

Popims Animator is a free Windows application that can be quickly downloaded.

The folks at TechRepublic have given Popims Animator a review/overview.

An application that can be used to morph one image into another along, extract images from digital videos and animated gifs, export as .avi, etc...

Not as powerful as some of the commercial products.....but hey, it is free.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Product RED - Consumer choice helping fight AIDS in Africa


I remember teaching about AIDS to high school students in the 90s. It was every where in the media. Then slowly....it went away. It became a very small part in the school curriculum and only talked about in the back pages of the newspapers. AIDS has not gone away and there are still thousands of people dying from it everyday.

"(RED) was created by Bono and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of DATA to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with the world's most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT)RED branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT)RED product sold is given to The Global Fund. The money helps women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa."

Read more on how (RED) works....

There are presently 7 products available. Those companies participating are:

If you are shopping for yourself or for Christmas presents, and you might purchase a new mobile phone, iPod, watch, fragrance, cards, T-Shirt, shoes or get a credit card....think (RED) before you buy!

Other links:
Antonin Kratochvil shot photos of HIV-positive individuals in Zambia, and then returned 40 days later to photograph their miraculous return to health thanks to antiretroviral medicine (ARVs). Here are the before and after photos.



School Chat....
What can be done in schools? Start talking about it again. Developed nations can not take the NIMBY approach...."Not In My Back Yard." Challenge your students with questions....from questions and discussions comes action!

How if any technology has slowed down the spread of AIDS. Has technology made a difference in getting the message out around the world about AIDS? Does/can Technology have a conscious? What can students do to help this fight?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Will Web TV be Successful? Hard to tell with all the gatekeepers in place.

One would like to think that the web is still an open and venturesome place where knowledge and new ideas push the boundaries of what already is.

I think THE WORD that I will be referring to time and time again over the next 12 months is going to be.....transition - and possibly patience :). Technology and innovation is pushing traditional thinking into transitional phases. Some industries are moving forward while others (like education) seem to be stuck in a void at the moment...although this may be more due to "gatekeepers" and Victorian thinking more than anything else.

Web TV is an interesting evolution and one to watch over the next 12 months. Web TV is on the scope of many companies at present. Some have already entered the market while others are still product testing.

Hop over to Adobe Labs to test out the Adobe Media Player (read previous blog entry....). The reason for my query on the fate of Web TV is a beta for Hulu that I had signed up for. I had my beta password sent to me this weekend and sat down this afternoon to give it a go and view some of my favourite shows.

As I logged in and viewed the list I quickly picked out a couple that I wanted to view....click....player opens....message appears: "Unfortunately this movie is not available in your country or region. We apologize for the inconvenience." Okay, this will probably only happen for a couple of shows, I told myself.

Click, click, click, click --> no love on any of the shows.


First thought....let's email the folks at Hulu and let them know that when they are running a beta - make sure you invite those people that can actually participate :(

Second thought....how will other companies work around this? How will companies hit that global market with all of the gatekeeping that will occur? I don't want to watch reruns! Do we need to throw our LCDs out the window and yell "we aren't going to take it anymore!" (Okay, pretty hard to do with a 42inch plasma....but you get my drift). Television in the Southern Hemisphere is not the most exciting at the best of times....one can only watch so many reruns of Will and Grace.

As geographic boundaries are closed by digital bridges - new business models need to be developed.

With the advent of laptop programs for developing countries now coming to fruition. In the next 12 months there will be a connectivity greater around the world than ever before. Web TV has a huge potential for sharing of knowledge and learning......I guess that even though the web is an "open" source and new innovations and knowledge highways are being created throughout the web......the gatekeepers are still thriving!

Friday, November 09, 2007

21st Century Connections - technology solutions that will help students to learn 21st century skills.

The 21st Century Connections website explores "delivering technology solutions that will help students to learn 21st century skills."

I found a great statement in an article I was reading the other day. "The Victorian Era prepared our students for general literacy.....now we need to move the 21st Century Era into media literacy."

We need to change our thoughts on how our students learn and how we deliver this knowledge....we are no longer in the Victorian Era.

21st Century Connections "site links students, teachers and administrators to the latest resources, creative tools and educational leaders behind digital learning."

Hosted by Technology for Learning.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

VectorMagic - a free online vector conversion tool for images

A colleague of mine sent me this link the other day - thanks Robin :) A research project by James Diebel and Jacob Norda out of Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

VectorMagic is an "online auto-tracer converting bitmaps to vectors." Easy, easy....just upload the bitmap image and in a few seconds (or minutes depending on the size of the image) you are returned with a lovely converted vector.

Difference between vectors and bitmaps (aka raster images)? Bitmaps are made of of pixels, so when you try to increase the size of a bitmap it will get fuzzy and pixelated. Vectors are made up of mathematical equations (geometric shapes such as lines, circles and curves) so it resized, it looks just as clean at almost any size.

Input: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF
Output: EPS, SVG, PNG

A great little web-based tool.....give it a try.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A new ergonmic design......is it a mouse or a pen?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (what is....) is a "painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist."

Although research will state there are several causes and factors of CTS....there seems to be more CTS cases since people started having computers in their homes and offices.

CTS has caused a lot of "down time" in many offices/businesses around the world and a lot of research and product development has been done in this area over the years.

A new product that has hit the market is the WOW-Pen. A unique concept that has evolved through the research of CTS. One of the culprits of CTS is the computer mouse. A simple input device that many of us don't think twice about but is something that we "hang onto" for long periods of time throughout a day. How many people think to "fit" their mouse to their hand before they buy one? We all have different sizes and shapes of hands....why would we think that one size or type fits all?

The WOW-Pen attempts to address the CTS issue along with functionality of a new mouse. Based around the concept of a pen, the WOW-Pen is quite different than what we are used to. There are several models to choose from that include a variety of functions to suit every ones needs.

Would be interested to know if anyone has given WOW-Pen a try and what they thought of it.

I may have to throw my old scroll mouse away!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System

A report was released today (Nov 5th Northern Hemisphere Time) called "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System." It was written by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association), and Partnership for 21st Century Skills .

The report urges action in 3 areas:

1. Use technology comprehensively to develop proficiency in 21st century skills.
2. Use technology comprehensively to support innovative teaching and learning.
3. Use technology comprehensively to create robust education support systems. [ read more.... ] [ pdf version ]

This report supports the framework developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills [ pdf version ]

Are school communities ready to take the immediate action that is required to make these and other actions come to fruition? The luxury of reviews, discussions, planning committees, etc... may have come to an end.

It is time for action...what country will reach out for the golden ring first?

Monday, November 05, 2007

GoSee4Me - the dream of letting people see "anything"

GoSee4Me is a unique concept that connects photographers from around the world with an opportunity to earn some money. Using a bidding buyer/seller concept....it works like this.

Say I was developing a presentation and I needed a great photograph of a certain angle of the Eiffel Tower....only problem is....I live in New Zealand. I put my request in for this photograph on the GoSee4Me community. Any of the registered photographers that may have this photo or are in the area to take the photo, then bid online to be the chosen photographer. The bid is what it will cost you to pay the photographer for the photo. You choose which photographer you want, payment and photo transaction occurs, and everyone is happy.

Great idea to give new and budding photographers some pocket money and exposure!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Supporting education in emerging markets

Early in the week I looked at the One Laptop Per Child program which targets students off the power grid.

BBC News writes about the laptop program that Intel has backed with their new laptop called Classmate PC.

This laptop also targets students in "emerging markets" ("...those countries in transition between developing and developed status." - Wikipedia). Part of Intel's World Ahead Program, "connecting the next billion people to uncompromised technology around the world."

Programs such as Intel's World Ahead and OLPC can give a voice to children and young people that we (the rest of the developing world) have never heard from before.

What thoughts, directions and impact will these voices have?

What new visions and ideas will come out of these new voices?

I for one am excited and thrilled to see programs like these progress. Having worked with educators in Zimbabwe in 1996, I know the exhaustive commitment these teachers have to their schools and community......what an exciting time.