Archive for August, 2014

All about passwords (a bit geeky)

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Ever wanted to know how passwords work and why they are safe (and when they’re not)


How not to store passwords

Nothing to do with EdTech – Nail polish that detects date rape drugs

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

This is outside the the usual EdTech stuff I post about, but this appalling behaviour is part of the world our students have to cope with.  It’s a shame we need such products but it is fantastic that it will soon exist.

The nail polish changes colour when exposed to common ‘date rape’ drugs.  It was developed by a group of Materials Science & Engineering student at North Carolina State University.  They are forming their own company called Undercover Colours.  It’s  a ‘for profit’ company, but if you want to see this product move from a prototype to a commercial reality consider donating to their research and development fund.  A Kickstarter project is being considered.

Weekend funny – changing meanings

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Some bright spark posted this question Reddit

What is a completely rational sentence you could speak today, that if you said 20 years ago, people would think you were insane?

Here is some of what people said.

I’m not spending a $100 on a terabyte drive, that’s a ripoff.

“I can’t wait for Disney to finish making the next Avengers and Star Wars movies!”

All those people from high school you never thought you would see again? Well you still won’t talk to them but you will see pictures of their kids every day.

I uploaded all my family pics to a cloud so I won’t have to worry about data loss.

See the rest and the follow up comments here.

Even more free CC images – WW1

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

If you are looking for images from WW1 this collection from the illustrated London News is worth a look

WW1 Dardenelles

They are under a Creative Commons licence.  Here’s what that means

We are the owner or the licensee of all intellectual property rights in our site, and in the material published on it however you may use and distribute content from this site under Create Commons Licence  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) which means you are free to:

Share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

Attribution – You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

NonCommercial – You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

NoDerivatives – If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

More free open source images

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Welcome images

Wellcome Images is one of the Wellcome Library‘s major visual collections. Part of Wellcome Collection, a major new ः30 million public venue developed by the Wellcome Trust, the Library has over 750 000 books and journals, an extensive range of manuscripts, archives and films, and more than 250 000 paintings, prints and drawings.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unique collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science.

All our images are available on demand in digital form. Search online or use the expertise of our professional scientific and historical researchers.

All low res images on this site are freely available for download for personal, academic teaching or study use, under one of two Creative Commons licences. For further details please see our Terms of Use.

Hi-res historical images are also available to download from this site free of charge, for any usage, under a Creative Commons Attribution Only – CC-BY licence.

I found this via Doug Peterson’s Doug off the record blog
(I found Doug via Stephen Downes)

Moodle tip for the short sighted

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Lately, I have had a few academics complaining about missing buttons in Moodle.

If you magnify your screen using ctl + you may encounter this problem.

Many Moodle pages don’t resize.  Your buttons are still there but you have  to scroll sideways to find them.

Move toward the light – video for education tip

Friday, August 15th, 2014

I record a lot of video.  I’m not a pro.  My philosophy is quick and dirty.  I try to model something that is achievable for the average academic

I find most of the videos I record are either in badly lit lecture theatres or badly lit  offices.   Unfortunately, what appears to be reasonable lighting to our human eyes is not nessesarily reasonable for a camera (despite the various automatic settings).  A trap I continually fall into is angling the view finder to get the best view.  Don’t do this.   Align it perpendicular to your eyes.  If it looks dark,  it’s dark.

Window light – The Ink Owl

Some rights reserved.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

It’s usually not feasible to change the lighting in a lecture theater ( unless you want to lug around extra gear and stage manage the lecture), but there are a few things you can do.

  • Don’t have the screen and lecturer in the same shot.   Make a choice and prioritize one or the other.
  • If there is a good lecturer spotlight or front of room lighting, turn it on and ask the lecturer to stand under it (maybe put a bit of tape on the floor).
  • Get as close as possible.  Zoom/telephoto lowers the image quality.   If you have to,  only use the optical zoom, never the digital zoom.
  • Have an experiment with the brightness and exposure settings.  With some cameras all this does is washout the image.
  • I think the best solution is just get a good low light camera.   For our purposes most cameras are ‘much of a muchness’.  Where many of them fall down is handling low light.   You may have to pay a bit more but it’s worth it.   You need something fit for purpose.    Check out this list

    You can fix up some things ‘in post’ if you have a decent video editing application.

    I use Adobe Premiere Elements.  Here’s my standard quick fix

  • Gamma filter (the default 7 is usually fine)
  • Sharpen filter (about 20-30).
  • A training article worth a read.

    Monday, August 11th, 2014

    Workplace training expert Will Thalmier (who knows or thing or two) has posted up a summary of a research paper which he thinks is pretty good.

    While it’s focused on training and development it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see how most of it applies our practice in HE

    Wil Thalmier

    The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice

    It includes gems such as

    “Recent reports suggest that information and demonstrations (i.e., workbooks, lectures, and videos) remain the strategies of choice in industry. And this is a problem [because] we know from the body of research that learning occurs through the practice and feedback components.” (p. 86) “It has long been recognized that traditional, stand-up lectures are an inefficient and unengaging strategy for imparting new knowledge and skills.” (p. 86)

    “When doing a training-needs analysis and designing training, it is imperative to separate information that is “need-to-know” from that which is “need-to-access.” Since learners forget easily, it’s better to use training time to teach the need-to-know information and prepare people on how to access the need-to-access information.”

    Here’s a link to the actual paper which you may or may not be able to download depending on your organisations licence with Sage Publishing.

    Weekend Funny – Teens react to the 90’s internet

    Saturday, August 9th, 2014

    Lucky they didn’t show them the 20 minute process for playing a cassette tape into your computers memory before you could play a game.

    Kids react to the 90s internet

    Tech Basics for Active, Collaborative Learning

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    We have quite a few experimental learning spaces set up around Monash.  BusEco has the Business Simulation (STAR) labs, Pharmacy have their simulation labs, there are HD video conferencing rooms,  we have the new SLATE and MicroStudio plus a number of other flexible high tech rooms dotted here and there (N206 is available to any BusEco staff).  Currently Smart Podium systems are being rolled out in our large lecture theatres and we are trialing Echo 360 Lecture Tools.

    Of course these are only useful if people use them and know how to use them.

    This recent Campus Technology article is worth a read

    Here’s a small snip

    Tech Basics for Active, Collaborative Learning

    What are the benefits of technology-rich classrooms for active and collaborative learning?

    Benefits of active-learning classrooms include:

    • Large classes feel like small classes. “You can have larger numbers of students, but it doesn’t feel like the total number is rising. A class of 80, where you have eight students at a table, doesn’t feel like a class of 80. It feels like a class of eight because you have seven other people at your table, and you’re working together on something, and you might be interacting with other groups, but it doesn’t feel that big,” said Finkelstein. “You can scale up interaction without losing that interactivity.”
    • Classes are more conducive to interaction between students and professors. “The students really like that in these classes they know their professor,” said Wolfe. “Whereas in a lecture hall, they really don’t get to know their professor, and they don’t necessarily feel comfortable just asking a candid question. But if [the professor is] standing right next to you, you’re much more encouraged to ask questions and to get the professor’s opinion of what he thinks about things, which is a much richer experience in a class.”
    • Instructors have the flexibility to quickly and easily switch between lecture and activity. “These types of spaces give you incredible flexibility in terms of the types of learning that you can do, because you can move from a 10-minute lecture into an activity and right back again without reconfiguring the room,” said Finkelstein. “You just seamlessly move from one activity to another.”
    • The classrooms support different learning styles. “If you’re really looking at universal design, in terms of a place that embodies everything about universal design, it’s really these classrooms,” said Finkelstein. “They support many different types of learning.”
    • Students are engaged in the learning process. “Students are more willing to raise their hands, to really engage in the class,” said Wolfe, adding that instructors have noted improved student attendance in these classes. “Students know they’ll be missed if they’re gone because their group will notice that they’re missing as opposed to a larger lecture class.”
    • Team-based learning better prepares students for the workplace.Noted Wasserman, “The goal of team-based learning is to have students working on problems in class where they’re taking outside information, applying it to problems, in a collaborative environment with other students, synthesizing that information and reporting back, because that’s what they’re going to be doing in the workplace.”