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The end of Flash

July 16th, 2015 by Cameron

Have you noticed lately that some things on the internet don’t seem to be working.  If you’re using Firefox it’s because they have given up on Flash (which is used for video and animations) and disabled all plug ins.

Flash is a useful product,  unfortunately it is also a bit like that dodgy window you can never quite lock.   If the wrong people tug on it in just the right way you are looking at loosing your laptop.

HTML5 appears to be the solution, but not everyone is on board yet.  In the mean time have a read of this article and see how to protect yourself.

A couple of remote teleprompter apps

July 15th, 2015 by Cameron

Here are 2 apps to look at, one from each church.  There are quite a few out there but these 2 appear to be better than most


Prompter for Android.

Tablets have remarkable capabilities for video production, and one of the best uses teams a tablet up with mobile apps for use as a teleprompter. Now anyone can have clean, clear dialog using professional video tools.This free app from MonacoDevDroid has mirror mode, full screen mode, and can read plain text. You can add copy on the fly, directly in the prompter or copy and paste with ease. The app runs remotely using Bluetooth and has a built-in timer so you know how long your segment runs.


Teleprompt+ 3

Teleprompt+ 3 adds rich text support for inline formatting, a quick edit mode to make last-minute changes to displayed text without leaving the current session, and a new design for a Universal app that runs on both the iPad and iPhone. Because it’s an app Teleprompt+ takes advantage of iOS to enable features like remote control for multiple devices (have a technician adjust text and speed on a master device while text is displayed on a second iPhone or iPad), Dropbox import for text, and audio and video recording through the built-in microphone and cameras.

WiDi – Wireless access to your monitor

July 13th, 2015 by Cameron

Following on from Fridays post relating to teleprompters.

If you are using Ultramon, think about getting a WiDi enabled monitor for the teleprompter, that way you won’t need to trail a cable.

I’d also look into WiDi if you are putting large screens in your training or meeting rooms.

Get a reverse image on you computer screen – Ultramon

July 10th, 2015 by Cameron


One reason would be to use a standard PC screen and standard Office software with a teleprompter.  (I find the whole business of telePrompters a bit arcane, it seems to be either, professional and massively overpriced, or cheap and cobbled together).

The other reason is to display your screen in a mirror, I can’t think of why you would want to do this but I’m sure there are some marketing and artsy types who might need it.

Anyway here is some software to do it – Ultramon.  It’s $40USD

Looking for the best time to tweet?

June 26th, 2015 by Cameron

Buffer is a platform that allows you to manage communications on multiple social media platforms, so they see a fair bit of Twitter traffic.

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement USA

They have put together a report on the most popular times to Tweet in your region.  It also looks at reTweets and favorites.

I use it with IFTTT to distribute my blog.

LastPass hacked

June 16th, 2015 by Cameron

This has always been my worry about Password management  services such as LastPass.  They are an obvious target for hackers.  I expect the sharpest and most malicious to be constantly banging on their firewalls.

Old Corbin Padlock Lock Open No Key All Brass Free Movement

Password-management service LastPass announced today that it “discovered and blocked suspicious activity” on its network on Friday. While the company says that there is no evidence that user vault data (a user’s stored passwords) was taken or that accounts were accessed, it did acknowledge that user email addresses, authentication hashes, password reminders and server per user salts were compromised.

App for free local texting – kind of a bluetooth network.

June 16th, 2015 by Cameron

Jott may be the next thing in mobile tech for school kids.  It is rapidly gaining publicity and there is a fair bit of noise about it in the tech media.

Jott, a messaging app that works without a data plan or WiFi connection, has caught on among junior high and high school students, according to co-founder Jared Allgood. He says the app more than doubled to half a million active users in March, up from 150,000 active users previous.

Jott can send messages from one device to another without any cell service as long as those texting are within close enough proximity to each other.It does this by using something called a mesh network that operates on Bluetooth low energy or using a router that can reach within 100 feet of each user. It’s the same way FireChat, a group messaging app, does this, but Jott can also message individuals within your network.

It is taking off in schools where kids have limited data plans.  In our situation where all students have wifi access on campus it might not be as applicable, but maybe it could be useful as a polling tool in lectures?  I’ll have to have a play.

Weekend Funny – 9 science-backed tricks for appearing smarter than you are

June 13th, 2015 by Cameron

You don’t have to actually be intelligent to appear intelligent.

And it’s not just wearing thick glasses, although that is on the list (Hollywood was right!).

By Jim Simonson
CC BY Some rights reserved

Here are the other tips:

  • Don’t hold a beer.
  • Walk at the same speed as everybody else.
  • Use a middle initial.
  • Write simply.
  • Use graphs.
  • Speak expressively.
  • Look people in the eye.
  • Dress smartly.

Unfortunately it wont actually help you pass exams.

Four traps that hinder student learning by Steve Mintz

June 12th, 2015 by Cameron

I like this.  It shines a spotlight on the cracks in our common, run of the mill, teaching practice.

This one you need to read.

File:Cracks in Mývatn region (2).jpg
By Chmee2 (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0]

Steven Mintz the Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning posted this on the Inside Higher Ed site.

The four traps are

  • The Lecture trap
  • the Memorization trap
  • The High Stakes Testing trap
  • The Coverage trap Read the rest of this entry »

Online student “happy sheets” not that valid – big surprise

June 11th, 2015 by Cameron


Here’s an Inside Higher Ed article on a report from the American Association of University Professors based on a survey of 9,000 professors.  It confirms what we already know about Student Evaluations (which are really student satisfaction surveys).

Research demonstrates that student evaluations can be valuable among several sources of input on faculty teaching but need to be combined with other sources including peer observations, syllabus review, portfolio analysis and teaching philosophy and reflection, among other approaches,” she said. “Single metrics of teaching have not been found to provide a complete enough picture for improvement.”

In the training industry we called them happy sheets.   We produced them for the people paying the bills, knowing that the responses didn’t really mean that much in terms of changing behaviour, which is what you are really trying to achieve.

Respondents who said their institutions had adopted online evaluations reported much lower student return rates than those who stuck with paper evaluations: 20-40 percent versus 80 percent or higher.

“With such a rate of return, all pretensions to ‘validity’ are rendered dubious,” the paper says. “Faculty report that the comments coming in are from the students on either of the extremes: those very happy with their experience and/or their grade, and those very unhappy.”

We saw the same drop in response rates when we shifted from handed out paper surveys to online surveys.   There is a clash between cost efficiencies and functional efficiencies.

In reality we need to be doing something else.  We actually want to evaluate teaching effectiveness.   And for that it’s worth looking at Bill Goffe’s contribution in the comments.

A better way to evaluate undergraduate teaching effectiveness.

“method based on the notion that the teaching methods used by an instructor are a more accurate proxy for teaching effectiveness than anything else that is practical to measure”

Teaching practice inventory

This inventory can aid instructors and departments in reflecting on their teaching. It has been tested with several hundred university instructors and courses from mathematics and four science disciplines. Most instructors complete the inventory in 10 min or less, and the results allow meaningful comparisons of the teaching used for the different courses and instructors within a department and across different departments.

You could also have a look at Bill Thalheimer’s course review template.  It’s based on Workplace training but most of it applies to (or should apply to) Higher Ed teaching practice.