Google Translate goes offline

Thursday, 28 March, 2013

Google Translate is an excellent service and so useful for many translation tasks. It really is the closest thing to the Babel Fish that we have. As with many Google services (although alas not Reader) it is available across mobile platforms and it is really good to see this being offered as an offline service for Android 2.3 and higher. That doesn’t leave all those Gingerbread devices orphaned (and it still remains a very active platform), offering an extremely valuable service. Download!

Tablets in learning - not fit for purpose?

Wednesday, 27 March, 2013

I’m actively involved in learning technologies both as my role as a lecturer (e.g. Livesribe pen and also as a school governor. One of the things I have been involved in is trialling the use of mobile phones for delivering learning of times tables and number bonds - nothing new in using an app to learn times tables, but when you roll this out to a class of children there are a variety of key considerations. Not least usability, cost and durability of the hardware platform. So you need to take account of the physical size of the child and the equipment and how they are going to use it, as well as the need (or not) for screen real estate - ergonomics are vital as this determines the ease with which people engage, use and learn. After that look at cost and durability.

Our conclusions? Tablets are ideal for *consuming* media due to the large screen size (both 7” and 10”). They are *poor* for interaction due to their large size, something that becomes worse the smaller the child gets. So, when you want interaction? A tablet is **NOT** the form factor to use - a 4” size device (aka smartphone or iPod). These are easy to handle, cheap (e.g. at O2) and (often) durable.

So why all the hubris over tablets? Good question and something Donald Clark covers, particularly on their total unsuitability for active learning, as well as how they can actually inhibit learning. Tablets are madness for serious active and creative learners - I’ll say it again, they are for consumption not creation.

Yet again and again we see the tablet bandwagon being fuelled by nonsense such as Newscorp. What’s more worrying is when so called charities start spouting this nonsense. As one headteacher recently said to me “they are not genuinely interested in school improvement or 1-2-1 pupil learning or they would be more analytical, more diverse and more innovative.” In fact the drive for tablets in to schools seems to be driven by manufacturers hoping for a windfall in the same way the consumer market has moved, what it’s not thinking about is actually what learners *need*. The scale of cost and replacement for these devices (e.g. Newscorp) is mind-boggling, particularly with the manufacturer tie in.

Manufacturers….please please design for the needs of the market. Look at what your customers need and make the best possible product you can for that.

Teachers….don’t be taken in by the marketing spin (look at the number of defunct whiteboards!), but look at the genuine learning that takes place and credible successes where this has occurred. The image that immediately springs to mind was the BBC reporting on tablets rolled out to an entire school and showing them in a science lesson. Tablets, lab, children, teacher….and nothing else! Where was the science lesson? Was it watching it on the tablet?! This isn’t active learning. BEWARE

Round 4 - need I say more??

Tuesday, 26 March, 2013


EPoD Redux

Monday, 25 March, 2013

Just can’t get enough of a good thing!! I was trawling through some old photos and came across one of a small translational slide in Glen Ogle, Scotland. I asked Alan Dykes if he’d be willing to pen a few words which he kindly did and….

voila Glen Ogle Landslide.

New dawn for “geoservices”

Friday, 22 March, 2013

For want of a better name (new cartography, neogeography, geoservices or maybe geomatics!!), Science has a nice article on the emergent importance of geo in the global economy and the subsequent requirement for suitably qualified employees, noting a ~35% predicted growth in workers in the US by 2020. That’s pretty big! Worth also reading the linked Oxera report for Google on Geoservices.

Bright future ahead people!

LDCM First Images

Thursday, 21 March, 2013

Yes the LDCM first images are here - take a peek over at NASA

Saturn engines recovered

Thursday, 21 March, 2013

A pair of giant Saturn 5 rocket engines, used to launch the original US lunar missions from the 1960s have been recovered by a team sponsored by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. A real part of space history!

Clear explanation of changes to education in Central Bedfordshire……

Wednesday, 20 March, 2013


Did you understand that?? No, neither did I. As a follow-up to my blog on educational leadership in Central Bedfordshire, I wondered where we had got to in informing stakeholders of the (not) clear direction and structured approach to change that we have in Central Bedfordshire…. there is of course the classic flow chart which highlights the lunacy of the current situation (helpfully removed by CBC; perhaps not the best example of corporate communication).

So how does the corporate video stack up - besides the obvious lack of script and over-use of “err” and “umm” - there is virtually no content in the presentation at all, other than repeated reference to the changes in school structure that have been personally allowed by Mark Versallion.

I’m a big believer in clear communication - you have a message, make the communication simple so that it is effective and let the viewer go away knowing what that is. I’m baffled to know quite what this is aiming to achieve and my take home message is

Central Bedfordshire’s policy on education is to sit back and watch

Earth Madness Round 3

Wednesday, 20 March, 2013

This slipped under my radar, but round 3 of Earth Madness closes on Friday, so get your vote in before the deadline

Goodbye Google…….

Saturday, 16 March, 2013

Google’s announcement that they are killing off Google Reader seems to have been met with dismay, including a petition to the federal government in the US (and the ubiqutous Hitler meme below)! However a far more reflective piece was written by Ruper Goodwins at The Guardian - the “do-ers” on the internet use Reader and its a huge mistake to kill it. It was the one Google location I found myself frequenting and it integrated really well with Chrome browser and the native Android apps.

Now though it’s time to say goodbye to Google. Yup, I’ll happily use the android smartphone and tablet, when search gets tricky I’ll come back to you, but you’ve largely become superfluous to requirements, the Wal-Mart of IT that just hits the middle ground.

There are alternatives to Reader with several services (Feedly, Digg) expected to bring a reader to market by July - and its certainly useful to have the integrated Android/iOS apps, but I spend most of my time digesting RSS feeds in the browser. So…. there appear to be no RSS reader extensions for Chrome so that got me looking back at portable Firefox - and Bamboo Feed Reader. There are a few rough edges but by-and-large Im happy with it. And the rest of Firefox? I’m actually amazed at how fast the user experience is - certainly faster than Chrome.

So there we have it, no contest - Chrome is now ditched, I have a feed reader and I use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. Au revoir, it was nice whilst the party lasted - I’m happy with your morphing in to Wal-Mart, I just don’t need your one size fits all approach.