Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2This game has got me really challenged at the moment. I have 6 villages and am up to level 119. At this stage it all plays out in a very complex way. I can’t easily collect resources. I can’t easily make game coins. I can’t easily do what I think I should be doing and so I do what I can. That’s a first for this game. It is hard and I am really having to think. I am using two villages to try and get experience points and resources . Without the resources you don’t have sufficient tools. The bigger game boards can deplete you of your game coins just so you can finish the board. I can’t easily collect animals so I can get the new one released. It is interesting how much the game has changed and how alert I have to be. Sometimes I just have to resign myself to losing game coins because I need to get rid of the rats or free up the board to play it to the finish. I gather the resources and within two minutes they are gone on tools so you can play another board. In the sea port village I can’t trade successfully necessarily so that is not something I can rely on to build resources. Sometimes the tools from the magic portal help and sometimes not. I have to get a lot of experience points at this stage to get the next award. That’s the thing. There are cups to collects, banners, resources to gather, buildings to build, money to make, trading to do and all the while I have to stay in control of your assets. Phew! It really makes me work on strategy. I use two water games. One in the 5th village  mainly to build resources I can sell . Sometimes I need them to unlock animals, fruit or plants. In the 6th village I have the pirate ship to contend with. My nemesis. I hate it. It forces me to play that board as a victim. I do get coins now when I defeat it but I had to focus on getting that building built so I got the coins. Meanwhile the pirate ship just blows all my game coins away until I can manoeuvre my own boat to defeat. it. I so want that cannot in the fort but have a few buildings and a stockpile of resources to gather. There are days I just ignore that board. Nothing else in the game forces me to be a victim. Everything else gives me a chance to think my way out. The pirate ship? I am on the board, I can do nothing and I just hope I can get in the right position to get rid of the ship. Meanwhile I have used up navigation and sailing moves which I could have used to get resources. It’s amazing how much this game has changed since I first started playing it. I really am at the stage where I have to think out everything and there is no simple answer. Every resolution to the challenges the game poses has to be thought out . It’s why I like the game even when I am not liking it!! I don’t want a game where I do the same thing, I repeat the same tasks , I move in the same pattern and I just am basically in a holding pattern. There is no real growth. Puzzle craft 2 grows and I am growing with it and I have to change to be able to keep playing it. As I said before, it’s a good game to develop flexible thinking and neuroplasticity.

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Keep yourself secure

computer safetyImage: thinglink

You need a plan when it comes to online security and you need to check it every so often. Checking settings on sites on a regular basis is important , especially with Facebook which can change settings and then you don’t understand why you are seeing too much information or broadcasting to everyone. Facebook settings can be in the main setting part  top right but also on each post and picture. bleeping computer has a good list of tips to run through to ensure you have a checklist you can follow to ensure you are doing as much as you can to keep yourself safe online. You will be doing most of it. There is a list of free security software on listoffreeware which you can check to see if there is anything you might want. The main thing when downloading software is to ensure you are not getting any extra software which you don’t want. Have a plan and be routine in your security checking.

How to use WhatsApp

 

WhatsApp is a hugely popular messaging app with corporate overtones which Facebook bought for 19 billion dollars in 2014.  Yes, it makes you wonder but that is how much it is worth. It is free to use and then had small in app annual fees which appear to have been cancelled for general use because that model wasn’t working. Facebook Messenger does exactly the same thing but some people are used to What’s App or they just prefer to use it. Once you have downloaded it can be allowed to look through your contacts to show you who else is on What’s App. You can look at the advantages and disadvantages on online-sciences.  You can look at an article where they discuss how and why they dropped the fees so you can contextualise that better if you are not familiar with What’s App.

Text to speech

 

There is some really bad text to speech  out there and the upshot will be that people will abandon whatever it is using  a bad voice synthesiser. You get it on news clips, how to clips, automated phone messages. It is awful. Digital voices are as unique as human voices so I am not sure why they seem to pick the most annoying and horrible ones for public consumption. There are some reasonable voices out there and they are improving all the time. Text to speech does have its uses especially in terms of accessibility , literacy and mastering a new language. The video clip gives you some ideas as to how to manage text to speech effectively and this clip on another text to speech option shows you too how effective it can be. The tip from both clips is to try the different options to get the best one for your purposes.

Video call on Facebook Messenger

messenger callsA lot of people know how to message or respond to messages on Facebook. Not everyone knows how to make a voice call or video call on Messenger. They just don’t see those two logos , or , if they see them , they don’t realise they are for voice and video calls. They are not stupid. They are unaware these logos exist top right of the screen or can’t interpret the icons. A case where captioning might help it would seem. The video explains how to do the video calls. Voice calls will happen if you tap/click on the phone icon. The use of the term chat is probably confusing some people. Those who have made phone calls would call them calls. Chat is used widely now to refer to conversing with others no matter which mode you use. Some people don’t want to use chat and think it’s not for them. If they realised it was a call they might think differently.

Technology thanks

thank youImage: haikudeck

I had some big outages away from technology earier this year because we were changing the copperwire service over to nbn. Since I have been on the nbn my phone and internet service have been uninterrupted and so I have been able to get on with my life where technology plays a significant role. I am grateful for that. There is a lot to be thankful for.

  1. I am working with a group of people who can use phones and tablets but who haven’t been able to make the best use of technology to allow their skills, talents and competencies to be shared and showcased. Since we have done that they can see the world really does value them and what they do . It has inspired and encouraged them and that is what blogging and social media can do for people. They can connect , share, get feedback and grow themselves in a really good way.
  2. I learn a lot from the internet. I can find out anything I want whenever I want. I can do online courses, belong to online groups , share my own knowledge and views online and learn from others. It is a growth mindset which gets encouraged through lifelong learning and collaboration.
  3. I have been pleased to work with various and varied organisations to help resolve online issues, app development and improvement and have valid client input which improves how we go about things online.
  4. I’d be lost without Google maps. I have used that a lot to navigate myself around a city which is in a constant state of flux because of infrastructure changes .
  5. Technology allows me to connect with anyone anywhere and to grow and develop positive relationships even if I can’t see them personally or see them very often. It safeguards those relationships so they still have a positive input into life and living.

I use technology to grow my ideas, reflect, find things out, improve my skills. It has a key growth function in my life. shawnblanc has written a post about why he thinks it’s worth being thankful to technologyGaeltek has also written a thankfulness post.  Mashable has also written a well thought out thankfulness post. Yes, we are thankful.

Tablet and phone blogging

landscape view phone

Landscape view – phone

These pictures show you what I can see of my blog on my phone. Yes, I thought the same myself. On my tablet I can see the right side bar and everything else is at the bottom of all the posts. On phones and tablets you scroll down and down to see what else is available on a blog. You might be over it by then. In terms of user experience tablet and phone blogging is less than desirable. You are being cut off from so much information and so much of  the presentation. On a laptop or desktop you get the full experience. All the information. I blogged from my phone once when I was having outage problems with my home phone and internet copper wire connection. Actually blogging is not so hard. Using the blog and trying to do things like follow or find out what else is on the blog is not easy, though.

portrait view phone

Portrait view – phone

The interface is designed to make it hard for you to know there are other things to look at on the blog. Little dot round circles and  menus which can sometimes block even more of your view really do test your patience. The scrolling down to find things can be really annoying to some people. Others would not even know you need to scroll down. If phone and tablet interfaces are being designed to encourage bloggers to leave out all the other things you can do with a blog then it is an attempt to limit access, information and experience. It is an enforced limited experience because we are trying to save system resources on tablets and phones so the actual pages load faster. We are also excluding ourselves from knowledge  in a way which hasn’t occurred until now. Can we do better? I’ll leave that one as a  developer challenge.

Design tools and resources

design toolsThe internet is about design. You need to know and understand what is available to help you create a good looking, informative site or web page. You need to know what tools and resources are available to you to ensure your online presentation looks good and current. Design for Founders has a section dedicated to design tools and resources. There is some really helpful information on this site.

Puzzle Craft 2

I hate the pirate ship! When you go onto that water puzzle you have to be prepared to lose money and not necessarily achieve your aims. It means you won’t get the resources you need.

puzzle craft 2

The pirate ship pops up and makes horrible noises, moves really quickly and is hard to defeat because there is no clear way of doing that. I might work it out eventually but in the mean time I shall just hate its unpredictability, noise and negative impact on the board. It makes it unpleasant. The swamp board in the previous village is at least quiet as it sucks up my  game money and resources. I regularly lose about $2000 coins trying to get anywhere on the swamp farm board. It’s all relative , though. I now find that easier than this new pirate one I have to deal with. My reaction is to go to those boards once a day, hold my breath, know I am not going to like any of it and not even care if I do well somehow by magic. The swamp board has really made me pay attention. The swamp can operate by stealth as your eyes are distracted by wiggly animals or wolves and rats popping up.

It’s not all bad. I am actually up to Level 108 today and so it’s an indication I love this game  and have persisted with it. I reached the new village earlier in the week and that was a major achievement. I had had to really work hard on getting  the resources I needed to get there. Every time there is a new village the game undergoes a big change and I have to rethink my strategies. I am working out how to get resources to run things, how to make money, how to get runes, how to get workers, the next animals and plants and so on. There is a lot to manage and think about. It is always changing and so you have to adapt and become more flexible in your thinking.

The graphics are excellent. I love the parrots, the ships, the amazing flying golden rams and the swamp clearers which don’t actually clear swamp at all!! There is some wonderfully detailed graphic artwork in the game and sometimes I wish I could play it on my big screen so I could appreciate the detail better.

Puzzle Craft 2 is very challenging. For the most part it is good challenging and then it throws a curved ball at you like the pirate ships and forces you to deal with it…or not. I don’t like it! As far as I am concerned it wrecks that board, but then again, so would pirates. I have to determine how to proceed so I am not overwhelmed by something which is , frankly, disturbing. It’s aggressive. That’s what I don’t like about it but the game supports you and challenges you and then makes you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. The fall back position is to go off into other villages and onto other boards to get a break and so something more positive and productive.

It will take me quite some time to finish this last village by the sea. It has been a great game which diverts me but also keeps my neuroplasticity in good form.

 

Cyber war games

Cyber security is a real and growing threat to every organisation and billions of people in every corner of the world. The only way to defeat clever cyber criminals is to have clever cyber defenders.

This is the driver behind the government’s first ever cyber war games established by the Department of Human Services.”

It’s good to see our federal government in Australia is joining the for countries to use game based learning to protect government sights. September is when our are happening . The official cyber war games site expns all about it. We have also had newpaper articles covering it. The Canberra Times published an article explaining about how the games would work too.

Blogging isn’t dead

bloggingImage: 10 amazing blogs about blogging – Corey Wainwright 

 

The internet can be capricious at times and come up with rumours and thoughts which, if you do not pay attention, will lead you astray or confuse you. Half the time it’s to create a thing and then that thing is discussed , reported, highlighted, memed. It’s artificial content creation stimulation. There has been this thing about blogging being dead. There has been a belief that individual bloggers are a thing of the past. Not if you go by the WordPress reader. That alone is sufficient indication there are plenty of individual bloggers who are confident, successful and clear voices. There are a lot of new individual bloggers because a number of people are connected from home for their own purposes. There are artists, writers, musicians, tech people, UX and UI designers, game creators, cooks, chefs, foodies, fashion followers, sports people and  gadget creators and so on. Etsy has had a big impact and a number of Etsy shops have their owners on Instagram to make that personal connection with their potential clients. They often build their network on Instagram or Facebook and then their blog offers more insight into how they produce their items. It’s the personal touch.  People want to meet and know real people on the internet these days. Blogs can also provide documentation and journaling capacities so that people can trace their personal growth in an area. People want to explore their creativity and ideas more and even Instagram posts are increasingly becoming more like blog posts. It’s the social and emotional involvement which has increased and so blogging offers that way of individual processing of events , creativity and information.

That is not to say group blogs don’t exist and aren’t a vibrant part of the internet. Blogs are part of mainstream  internet content. They are no longer the blogosphere. Group blogs can operate like modern day newsletters. They can allow a group to develop an image and history and allow everyone in that group to participate even if they cannot be at every meeting or activity. They allow a group to have an online presence and image with the group members can tap into but also the wider community.

MotherJones has an interesting look at current blogging practices . Blog Tyrant looks at some of the statistics and analyses some of the trends.  Neal Samudre has an article  on Huffington Post about allowing your blog to prosper.  Blogs have changed and they always will change. These days they tend to document and share information in a way which is connected to our need for information in context.

Creative writing apps

In many ways we have increased our capacity to write creatively because we have technology and social media sites. We have opportunities to inspire and influence because we are on Facebook and Instagram and there are still those who meet the Twitter creative tweet challenge. We have blogs and websites and even though there is a big emphasis on visuals on the internet, the opportunities to write and write well are there. We can make our own books and publish them online. We can create influential and interesting email content. We need apps! Are there apps to inspire creative writing? Yes. You may have your own favourites. Yona Yurwit in the video explains what she uses on her iPhone and why. Makeuseof has some good recommendations of creative writing apps some of which are paid and some of which have a paid premium version. More and more phones are becoming less about consumption and more about productivity and creativity.

Delete Google voice searches

 

Most people are used to clearing their browser history and other text based searches. They may not have realised you also need to clear voice searches. Google uses the histories to target you with sites and ads which they think you will be interested in. it’s about trying to tailor your device use to your needs. That can be helpful. Voice data takes up a lot of room . You may also not want ti there so the video shows you how to clear it.

iOS 11 tips and tricks

iOS 11 has been beta tested since June 5th this year. Its official public release will be 19th September . Next week! I could have picked a shorter video but the one I have selected is well made and goes through everything you could possibly want to know about iOS 11. It does have a lot of features and it differs from previous iOS versions because there really is an emphasis on gesturing and features. A lot of people don’t get the best out of their devices because they are unaware of what they can actually do. Take 15 minutes to learn about iOS 11 and you’ll not only know a lot, you’ll get more out of your Apple phone and devices. There are 20 tips on techradar to help you too but the one about annoying Android friends could probably have been left out.

iPhone 8

The Apple Event of the iPhone 8 launch is going live on the Apple site on September 12th if you are interested.  It marks 10 years of iPhone releases and is the first event in the Steve Jobs Theatre. It is also will come with an iPhone which has changed quite a bit. The home key is gone. The gesturing is bigger and more important. Facial recognition is going to play a bigger role.  The graphics are OLED as opposed to LED. There has been a lot of anticipation about his phone because it is different. OLED means even better graphics for video. There is still no headphone socket and so bluetooth earphones/buds will be the option. It is about getting us to have good quality and top of the range phones without all the bits and pieces which hamper us. That has always motivated Apple. Bluetooth has issues as far as I am concerned. Until there  is really clear evidence that it is safe, I won’t be using it. They said the same when microwave ovens came out, time has passed and we are now more comfortable with microwave ovens. Electric Sense explains all the things related to radio and bluetooth waves quite clearly . Once we understand that, we can look at the issues and research with a better perspective. I am waiting to see what happens with the iPhone 8. Until now phones have been inclusive. I can’t always use a touch screen properly. I need physical keys. I had to use a number of phones before I could find one with a touch keyboard which I could use properly. Even so, I would be better with a psychical keyboard and they used to have phones like that. Not any more. The home key is fundamental to using the phone. If that , now, is just on the screen I can see myself having to press several times before I can action the phone. Until now those who needed that physical touch capability had it. If you change the sensitivity of the keys on the phone then all sorts of weird things happen. Haptic feedback certainly helps in my case and there is room for that to be improved. Meanwhile, the world is happy to be excited about this new iPhone release in the next couple of days. It will change things again. Znet has a good run down on what to expect.

eSmart week

eSmart schools

 

eSmart Digital Licence

 

Is your school or library in on the eSmart programme? The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation have done plenty of high calibre research and work to create the eSmart site and the concepts which surround it. Many libraries and school have signed up and talk volubly and enthusiastically about the positive impact of the eSmart concept. It revolves around us all having  a common approach, common language, common understanding about what being online offers us and what we can offer the online word. It fosters a positive , responsible pathway for everyone.

Up your image game

Peter MacKinnon shows you five ways of instantly improving the photos you take. We can all do it and he explains the rationale well. We live in a visual world. Internet delivery relies on graphic design and visual literacy as much as it relies on text. Label those images well if you are uploading them so that the spiders crawling over the net to get information will know what the image is. As I have explained before , spiders are text based so all images need to be properly named. We all have plenty of input as to how to work on our written expression. We need to match that now with input on how to improve our visual expression. In 2017 it is just as important.

WordPress rainbow bar

WordPress rainbow bar
I came on to WordPress this morning to find a rainbow bar on all of my blogs. As far as I know it is a plug in you can get for WordPress.org blogs. I am on WordPress.com. It was a nice surprise and the beauty of the internet is you can go searching and finding. Rainbows have long held a mythical and cultural significance for human beings. It didn’t tell me why I had rainbow bars on my WordPress blogs , though. So not sure if I am celebrating cultural significance, marriage equality, unicorns, science or just rainbows. The aboriginal people in Australia have the Rainbow Serpent story in their Dreaming and I am sharing this video. It has been used in classrooms to teach the value of animation, aboriginal art and story telling.

Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2I am nearly up to level 100 on this game . It is fun, challenging and really makes me think. You cannot solve things in 5 minutes and you really have to work on strategy across the 5 villages at this level. I have to get a blackberry to be able to progress to the new and last village. You cannot bash and smash your way through this game. You cannot buy your way out and you cannot take the easy road. You have to work with your brain to sort though the possibilities and work out a way of achieving what you are focused on at that point. I work all the villages at different times because some bring resources I need, some rewards, some build up the points levels and then the main village is where I am still trying to complete all the buildings to move on. That and the blackberry. It is a great game for people who like lots of challenges and who like to puzzle! The swamp is awful. No matter how much you install swamp cleaners it never improves. That icky stuff still gets you and your resources. It makes you realise you can be totally inattentive at times . While you are looking at one thing , you don’t notice the swamp is claiming another. Ditto the moles in the mine. They are horrible. My solution now , since I have more money, is just to blow them up because they can really wreck your board when you are trying to get resources in the mine. I don’t think I’ll ever collect all the moose because of the swamp, but then again, there are other things I thought I’d never do in this game and I end up thinking my way through. The game plays with you. It will reward you generously for trying your hardest and achieving something good and it will force you to reshape your approach so that you are more successful in your strategies. I love the water puzzles. At this level they bring some interesting configurations you have to manage but the opportunities are there to apply yourself. The graphics in the game are really good. Much thought has gone into the images, the characterisation and effective visual literacy. That’s the thing. You do have to pay attention. You do have to notice and you do have to read the information about the plants and animals so that you can devise ways and means of progressing. In this game research is important and you have to manipulate the data you have to get good outcomes. I am now regularly getting the  tools from the magic portal so that has been helping a lot. You have to build up those points so that you can. I have also liked seeing the videos of what other games there are on the iPad. It is one way you can get some free rewards but it is also a way of seeing how much the iPad games graphics have improved and the selections of games. This game has just got better and better the more I have played it. I have never felt like I am doing the same ol’ same ol’ and I have never felt like it is too easy or too hard. There is a good balance. There is also an opportunity to work it out for yourself. Some things in the game are just there and are not explained. It is not a nanny game. It makes you stand on your own two feet and think for yourself. Sometimes you just have to work out for yourself how to get something for get rid of something. I like that. There is no easy fix because I have a brain and I can use it. Love that approach in this game.

Google tricks

These aren’t so much Easter Eggs as improved Google functionality. Google tries very hard to bring you fun and information and to be more and more usable in a way we want a search engine to be useful and helpful. Google can get it wrong but it does listen. Google will follow up on what you are trying to do and it has always surprised me that if I keep trying with searches, how, within a short space of time , Google will change its approach and actually bring me the information I need or want. Google often relies on keywords but there are times when that fails because it is a specific use of that keyword and not the common use. Enjoy these Google tips.

Young and eSafe

Young and eSafe is a new site created by the Australian government to try and help young people with online safety issues. There is a Facebook page where they can contribute to online safety discussions and ideas:

 

“Check out our site—we’ve got a five part video series, real life stories of young people’s experiences, and expert advice from some people in the know.

Think about how the stories relate to you—be inspired to come up with your own clever solutions for the challenges you or one of your friends may come across online.

Take it to the next level—find us on Facebook and join the conversation. You can be the difference between a positive or negative online experience.”

 

The site will develop and grow as people use it and contribute. YES is the acronym being used for the site and you can find it here.  The site offers help in getting you back on your feet when you have been knocked down online and encourages young people to take responsibility for their own online safety and the safety of others.

Sitting or standing?

sitting or standing Image: The Ergonomic Times

There is sa lot of good research going on to do with whether we should be sitting or standing when we use technology for long hours and what sorts of sitting positions and chairs we should be using. The advice from The Ergonomic Times concurs with what my physio told me. Change positions every 20 minutes. My optometrist has also been very helpful in terms of advice with how to sit and view computers and tablets. I use a book seat for my iPad. It makes it more stable and it is at a better angle for viewing which saves wear and tear on my neck and eyes. Justin Young is trying to work out what the problems will be when people use gesturing control and so his time is spent researching the ergonomics of that so we have the right advice about the right set up so we don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome , excessive fatigue and have the right sorts of chairs. He makes the point that some organisations won’t be able to provide ergonomically satisfactory work stations for people. Why not? Maybe that’s a challenge we need to confront and come up with affordable options for everyone.

There is a big, long term study which has just come out of Canada which looks at the impact of everyone standing for long hours. Peter Smith led the study and it has some interesting information which we really need to pay attention to:

“Hilary Poirier, a customer service agent at WestJet in Halifax, spends most of the workday on her feet.

“We don’t really sit down very frequently at all because we’re always out on the floor,” she said. Though she said she has “the best job ever,” all the standing puts a toll on her body: feet, back, hips, legs, everything.

The results came as a surprise to her.

“For something like heart issues I wasn’t imagining that because usually you’re on your feet you’re being healthy,” she said.”

We probably have been getting the message it would be better to stand. Not so. We need options. We need to be able to sit and we need to be able to change and stand. Any place which is requiring us to only do one or the other isn’t helping our health.

FastStone Image Resizer

If you are looking for a free app which resizes and converts images as batch files then FastStone image resizer is worth a look. You can process individual images too. There are other tutorials for it on YouTube if you are looking for additional help or you want to look more into it before you decide to use it.  The specifications here on the FastStone site.

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is not just a buzz phrase. It is a mind set and way of life. Life is change and change is action. That cannot occur without neuroplasticity and critical thinking. Lifelong learning is vital for the development of communities, societies and individuals:

“Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their aspirations and contribute to their societies. “

World Education Forum 2015

Lifelong learning can occur easily these days across time and space because we have access to technology and connectivity. No one need ever be left in the dark and everyone can be learning enabled at any time of the day or night. We can learn what we want , when we want and how we want because we are connected and sharing our knowledge.

informED discusses 25 practices which foster lifelong learning:

“Lifelong learning is now recognized by educators, governing bodies, accreditation organizations, certification boards, employers, third-party payers, and the general public as one of the most important competencies a person can possess. But even if we all agree on its value, and harbor the best intentions of possessing it ourselves, it can easily escape our grasp if we approach it the wrong way.”

You have to be confident as a learner to participate in lifelong learning. You have to know that because you are not very good at something it does not mean that you cannot be good at it. Information, application and facilitation are the keys. You have to be able to identify your goals and then you have to be able to find the resources and opportunities for facilitating your capabilities. Being in a group helps you identify with others who know what you want to know or who want to know what you want to know. The group helps you to learn. It calibrates you and gives you feedback. You still have to have faith in your capacity to learn. Then there is the internet. There is so much information which people are sharing so that you can learn and develop your knowledge and skills or so that you can raise the issues and problems and work collaboratively to resolve them.

Lifelong learning is about:

1. Repackaging the skills and thinking you already have
2. Learning new skills and ways of thinking
3. Information and application
4. Questioning and reflecting
5. Celebrating the successes and good changes along the way

It’s about putting yourself out there and daring to be different with no fear of failure.

Life without the internet

If you are feeling swamped, overwhelmed and dictated to by the internet, then yes, leave it. Take a break. Get away from it . Live your life. Paul Miller gives some interesting insights because his job relies on the internet but he hasn’t really known a life without the internet and social media. The difficulty with the internet is that is has become very dictatorial and proscriptive and Paul Miller has discovered insight into that by not being tied to the internet. After my 3 lengthy outages from my internet and home phone this year I found that I did have more time, I was doing things differently and I was able to become more involved with real life. I was never bored. I have other interests and other ways of connecting with people. I was still using my phone and computer apps for things…those which were not dependent on an internet connection. It was hard to do some business activities because so many of them rely on an internet connection. I know really intelligent, vibrant, creative people who have very little to do with the internet and don’t want to participate in what they see as very low level engagement and thought. The internet is there for us to use. It is amazingly helpful and does facilitate so many ideas and collaborations which could not or would not otherwise occur. How you use it and why you use it is your decision and I think this video looks at how we can sometimes let the internet run our lives and personalities. Worth viewing and then worth doing an internet use audit.

Avoid scams

There aren’t really any helpful, comprehensive YouTube video clips on current scams or how to deal with online scams effectively. It is something we need to constantly monitor and we need sound and good information. We are online. We are targets. The world does fight back and we can manage it but we need to know how to do that effectively and what to look out for.

GMail and Yahoo mail seem to protect me the best from scams and spam and so with those email accounts it is never really a problem. A lot of scams and spam arrive by email. Some email clients block those emails really well.

Facebook is very helpful because friends share the latest scams and if you subscribe to the police feed then the police always keep you updated on the sorts of scams and spam to look out for.

On my phone I only answer numbers I know. If I am caught out by accident I end the call. Do I think I am going to miss an important call? No. Anyone who is going to call me has their number in my contacts list. If it is a new organisation or person I put their number in my list. I am quite frank about not answering calls if I don’t know the number. I have that conversation. Most organisations will have details of my email and home address and they know they have multiple ways of contacting me. My financial organisation and my isp have both been really effective at helping me avoid scams and spam by allowing and using multiple contact modes. If important things are happening then I get a direct number or contact from them as they understand my need to avoid scams and spam calls.

My phone has a virus checker which also blocks cold calls. It is not perfect and lets a few through. Phone apps need to be looked at carefully. Mine is pretty good but a couple of times it has cut off bone fide callers as well and I have had to ring back very apologetic! I don’t apologise, though, for protecting myself from this technology scam scourge and I think that’s the point. Be honest, be alert and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

The River Parish Council has a good print out to help you look at scam protection .

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has some sound help with regards to scam watching.

ASIC also gives you some good advice and a list of companies not to deal with.

Make a video with a phone

Sunny Lennarduzzi has some simple, straightforward advice and help for improving phone video quality. People are making videos for social networks, YouTube and for job and organisation purposes. So many people have good in front of camera skills these days. They are video people and are used to the medium. We need to make better use of the technology we have access to by improving our use of that technology. We need to make an effort to learn some of the tricks of the trade. Phone videos can be used to quickly explain things t people, to inform others, to create a learning environment as well as an entertainment one. With these tips you can see you do not have to go the expense of setting up a studio in order to make viable videos. You use what what we all have access to more effectively.

Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

I can certainly identify with TechGumbo. More than once I have wiped Windows off my desktop or laptop and been more than happy to install Linux. This current version of Windows 10 is very likeable , though, and has some good features. It runs very smoothly, it is less interfering and less prone to trouble. The tips TechGumbo is offering are good ones which you can use and may well need. I needed that keyboard with the emojis! How are you supposed to survive on the Net without emojis!? 😁 The comparative shopping is a good idea too and Edge is certainly a better browser than any other Windows browser because it works with people and not against them. Print to PDF is also handy to know because it saves space and produces smaller files for emailing and sharing. I use that feature a lot. I am sure you’ll find something which helps you here because they are all tips based on user experience.

nbn – one week later

Image : nbn co 

It is a week since I was connected to the nbn and this will be a boring post because I have nothing to tell you! I have been on the nbn. That is all. The connection is excellent. My Steam Castle desktop absolutely adores the nbn connection. It’s like they were made for each other. Maybe that’s the secret. Besides what I said last week on my post about how you set up the nbn connection, I think the computer is important. Devices do not seem to be a problem. My phone and iPad Air are happy on the nbn wifi. My desktop is just brilliant, though. It is smooth, it is not doing any kind of searching or chattering to bring me the internet and what I want to do. On ADSL2 there were some issues with my Udemy online video course and multi-tabbed browsing could be a pain at times. Not so on the nbn connection. Ever since it was established it has just gone consistently well. Every once in a while I get the modem page telling me I haven’t got a gateway connection when I turn the modem on. I haven’t. I have to wait until the connection is established and sometimes I am too eager. It’s not a long wait but these days 2 seconds can be too long on the Net. My netphone ,which is my cordless phone, works just like an ordinary phone. You would not know there is not the usual phone connection.

What may be relevant is my desktop does not automatically connect to blue tooth and wifi. I manually connect those if I want them . Normally I run off an Ethernet connection because it is solid and stable. I have a wifi adapter and a bluetooth dongle for if I want to use those on my desktop. My desktop has 16 gigabytes of ram and was specifically built to be graphics capable. All I know is this is a dream computer on the nbn and it was built to be like that.

The impact of smartphones

We have been talking about it for a while now: The impact of smartphones on our society and the next generation. The rise in car accidents which could be totally avoided. The zombie walk. The mobile phone twits who bang on anywhere and everywhere and allow their phones to ring whenever they want. We have observed the impact and we have reacted but we don’t seem to have resolved much. We love a narrative. We’ll all create a story about the impact of phones and the media will push a narrative which will have a far reach. We actually need to think this out properly and for ourselves. What is the right age for a child to have a smart phone? What are the impacts of smartphones on children? Should a teacher have smartphones in class? A teacher could have 30 students, thirty phones and then 30 devices. The phones could be giving access to parents which means another layer of social management in a classroom. Not sure any other job expects anyone to manage that many devices and that level of interpersonal communication complexity. The teacher then has emails and communication coming in from other staff, administration, professional organisations and parents on their laptop. Smartphones mean we can communicate very quickly with others when we feel like it.

The professional standards by aitsl for teachers require that teachers

4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically –
Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

What about others, though, who are also responsible for young people using smartphones? It’s not the phones which are the problem . There seem to be a lot of young people who don’t have a broad range of interests and who, for all of their connectivity , are disconnected socially. The Atlantic has published an article Has the smartphone destroyed a generation? which is a very interesting look at the impact of smartphones on the current generation. Jean M. Twenge has a book coming out : iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us. . The article is based on that book and well worth the long read because it is written by someone who has been investigating this.

Dual band wifi

dual band wifiImage: Asus

So should you use 5GHz or 2.4GHz wifi and what are they? The picture from the Asus site explains it well. 2.4GHz is the old standard which is used for roller doors, phones, the  now old wifi connections and gadgets. I now have dual band with my nbn connection. I have set my iPad to 5 GHz and my phone on 2.4GHz and I’d set a laptop to whichever one depending on what I was doing…choices! My desktop has an ethernet connection but if I were to run it on wifi I’d be choosing 5GHz because this is a very graphics capable  and dedicated machine. How-to-geek explains it in detail and in a good way so that you properly understand the reason for both wifi bandwidths and why there are times you should be running on ethernet connections. Ethernet is solid, stable and will not put your computer under unnecessary strain especially if you are running video, image and fast changing content. If you are installing connections, operating systems, downloading videos and software an ethernet connection is preferable for stability and ease of data downloads and  smooth connection establishment. There is no strain on anything.

On the nbn

How nice to be on the internetImage: kqed Arts

I transitioned smoothly to the nbn yesterday even though my phone line had gone down 3 weeks before. I survived those weeks on mobile phone and connection. It may just have been they got all excited and switched the copper wire off too early. I was grateful to my isp for organising an earlier changeover date and yesterday it went well. My isp had got my modem out to me early so I could read all the information about setting it and the FTTN connection up. It was so good to get rid of all the splitters, cables and filters and just have a simple wall connection . I chose to keep my cordless phone to connect to the VOiP because it has 3 handsets. The email I received to tell me the switch had been made and I could now connect also told me it would take 3-7 days to port my home phone number. Not so. It took 12 hours. That’s service.

So what did I do to get it all going?

I read the booklet and googled pictures of how to connect the modem which I kept on my iPad. I set it all up the day before and double checked I had connected it properly.

I kept a spare phone handy in case my cordless was not going to work. I plugged the cordless into a separate wall socket and not the power board I have the computer and modem connected to. I used the phone cable supplied for the modem and a new phone cable for the cordless phone just to be sure.

Yesterday morning I switched the modem on and left it for half an hour to sort itself out. I then turned on my computer which I left on for half and hour with the modem so they could work out how they were going to talk to each other. There was plenty of activity on the ethernet line. I logged into the modem and really liked the clear interface so I could locate everything I needed. I used the set up wizard and filled in the details. I had no VOiP password at that stage. That came in an email when the number was successfully ported.

I checked the live feed of what they were doing and by sheer luck happened to see an nbn van go past my place probably to the street pillar near me. I rechecked the details on my modem and a couple were not right so I changed them. I made sure I had all the passwords and details written down on one page so I didn’t have to keep looking for things. I didn’t get connected  so I shut everything off, booted up the modem and let it settle in and then booted up the computer. Old rule – modem first, computer second.

I was on the Net! I left it on all day and there wasn’t a problem.

This morning I got the email about my phone number being registered and initially I couldn’t get the phone to work. I filled in the password again, shut everything off and booted up the modem and then the computer. Bingo. The phone works!!

Currently I am finding my computer is happy on the nbn. So are my phone and iPad. I haven’t had any problems with my devices. I think it is really important to be patient and very important to read all the instructions. Sometimes you just have to wait and try again. I think it also might be a case of how many people are trying to get a new connection going at the same time as you so I figure getting it all up and running early and just leaving it helps.

 

To nbn or not to nbn…

dial up

Image: citethisforme

I can remember that real feeling of achievement in the 90s of getting past the quirky and unforgettable ringing tones of the dial up network and actually getting online in the first try. I can remember watching paint dry too as the pages would load one line at a time or I regretted deciding to go to another site and inflicting the same slow load up process on myself. I can also remember days where it worked perfectly fine . The more people who joined the online world, the better the connections became and we reached the hay day of broadband where everything was going so well. Those who have experienced online services in that era will be disrupted and flummoxed with the process we are currently going through of rolling out the fibre connections.

In many ways we are back to the 90s. We don’t have enough people connected, we are still rolling out cables and connections and we are running mixed wires and hardware. Telecommunications people will start gathering data and start noticing what we need in real terms and make adjustments. Until now it has been a best guess I would imagine.

We need to do our homework. We need to be aware of what we need and what suits us. It is called the National Broadband Network and so it is for us to work out as a nation what best suits us and to work towards that.

Some of that is being aware of what plan you need, what access you need , what devices you have and then how you intend to use the service. Some have mobile internet access, others adsl2 and others cable. Some a mix. Some are just going on and off the internet. Some are consuming vast quantities of video and sound streaming. Others are playing about on social networks and then there are those who want to do a bit of this and a bit of that. There are then big , and important uses for medicine, industry , farming, business and so on. We are not all the same and how we use the net is not the same.

You need to look at what you have and what you do with it. How much mobile usage do you need. Do you need significant data as well as talk and text? Do you want to stream videos? Music? Are you using big databases? Are you using a smart TV?Your isp account page will have all that data for you. What do you use in a day? What do you use in a month? How much data do you need for your biggest usage in a month?

Small internet users can probably manage on a mobile plan by using their phone as a hotspot or using a mifi. I am currently running of my mobile phone hotspot. It works well. I need more data than on a mobile plan , though.

Copper wires are going to go. Landline phones are going to go. Have you got security devices for yourself and home connected to your landline? You will need to ensure those devices can move to a fibre network smoothly. Once the nbn is in your area then you have 18 months before the copper wire is disconnected.

You need to have conversations with your isp about the best plan for you. You may not want a bundle with sport and Fetch TV. You may not want movie streaming. You might want a lot of bandwidth and speed for gaming. That’s actually better on a cable network. You won’t need the highest speeds if you are not doing video and audio streaming. I don’t use the net for entertainment and so I don’t need the fastest speed on the best plan. The isps have been coming out with a better range of bundles. We all have different needs and they are starting to work out what we need because they can see our usage and they can talk to us. The feedback loop is alive and well.

For a while it will be a problem. Until they get more fibre connections going then it will be like dial up. If you are on a fibre connection with gamers and video streamers then there will be good and bad connection times. It would affect places where people go for holidays. The locals will start having internet problems as soon as the gamers and streamers arrive on holidays to chew up all the bandwidth.

For a while , until we are connected and we are running the right hardware for what we want to do , there will be issues. We shall keep talking to each other. The data will keep coming in and our telecommunications people will work magic and we’ll be back into sound connections. Until then we have to own the problems and share information.

Look upon it as a continuous improvement learning model where we are all responsible for how quickly and efficiently we can get our high speed services up and running. Our area has had local meetings so information can be shared. That’s a good idea , especially for people with medical issues which require reliable connections. I am looking forward to being connected on Monday and learning all about it. I have sorted out my needs with my isp, I have sound equipment and I like an adventure.

Internetus interruptus

no internet

No internet for you today!

So annoying but so enlightening. There is a learning curve for me every time I have another phone and internet outage. This is the third one for this year and it’s a week tomorrow. This time I was caught by surprise as usual but did not flap! After all, I have the experience of two phone and net outages behind me and I have learned. This time I had a mobile plan which would cover the calls and some internet data so I had access to people and cyberspace.

1. Make sure you have a mobile plan which will cover an outage

2. Email your ISP support to let them know the situation

3. Trouble shoot. Most ISP sites have a to do list to check phone line fall out for ADSL2. Basically:

– unplug everything and plug it back in.

– turn everything off and on

– unplug line filters and try plugging your phone into the wall socket directly

– try a new cord on the phone to wall socket.

I did all of that and my line was totally dead. No resurrecting it. I waited a couple of days to see if there were notices of outages on my ISP and line provider sites.

With the NBN infrastructure coming into place, storms and heavy rain , it could have been anything , really. The NBN and Telstra have to work together on the lines and then third party ISPs are providing services. That is a lot of players in the field and a lot of dots to join so you have to give ISPs time to work out their problems and line of action. For me, I always think it is important to let them know by email incase there are bigger issues than just me and my phone line.

I had booked my NBN switchover for August 22nd on Monday last week. Thursday my line went down so there was always the possibility the line was shut down early because the date was further away than probably is normal. I had my reasons. I called my ISP this Monday and we have brought the NBN switchover date forward because I already had the modem and was set to go. That is occurring in a few days time. Meanwhile I am running off my mobile plan.

I have again found my ISP account site to be very helpful so I can check usage and there is also a really good iPad app which I discovered which makes life really easy with my ISP. You can even recover your forgotten password via your mobile phone. That really helped when they had set up a new email address for me for my new NBN plan . Old habits and all of that.

There is a complexity of communication with the NBN infrastructure coming into place which we haven’t had to have for quite some time. Patience and good social skills are important. You just have to work out what you really need to know and then see what is available to help you if you can access it and then call if you are clueless or need clarification. I have learned from my other outages that it’s great to be a in a call queue where they ring you back.

Meanwhile I have continued to learn about mobile technology. I value being able to use the mobile hotspot because it makes connecting to the Net so easy and I don’t need anything other than my phone and the device I want to go on which is usually my iPad or Linux laptop in an outage. I can’t do everything on a phone because I hate peering at a tiny screen and my fingers much prefer a physical keyboard because I don’t always have the peripheral sensitivity , especially on these cold days. I have been using the time to streamline my devices and tidy them up. I have also made good use of the software I have which runs offline. It is important to have things there which are not internet dependent no matter how wonderful cloud services are.

Next posts will be about the NBN switchover because there are a few things to consider.

Sustainable living – CD repurposing

I have just made one of these drop spinners from a couple of old DVDs and it works like a charm. It is a good way to recycle, reuse, repurpose and create something which is functional. I find the CD drop spinner very easy to use because I can easily get the clockwise twirl with one hand as I hold the yarn with the other. It is all good thinking. You have to trouble shoot, look for bits which will make the drop spindle and find the fibre which works the best. You can start with cotton wool balls to get started. it teaches hand eye co ordination, develops peripheral skills and then you have to develop a rhythm. The CDs can be decorated to get a nice pattern as you twirl them. The video is evidence of life long learning and a commitment to a sustainable planet. I actually used the backs of teddy plastic eyes to hold the CDs in place and then some grommets to buffer the CDs. I also used some beads to weight the bottom of the stick. It’s a great maker learning project. There are written instructions on World in a spin.

Managing your online identity

If you google Cathy Woods you will find many references to the exonerated Nevada murderess who erroneously served 35 years in gaol. Google is swamped with people with your name who lead interesting lives. You do need to know what comes up under your name if you are running online accounts. Does it worry me? No. I could probably pay to get my profile up there on Google. Do I need to? No. People can find me if they want to because I manage my online identity so that those I want to find me can. If you google sally07 then my Twitter account will come up and it’s the reason I can’t change my Twitter handle. I have the account in my name but the handle is my old one from the days where we didn’t use our real names. The world changed and I blogged about my decision to be myself online. That Twitter handle has to stay, though.  It carries with it a lot of online positives. I don’t link my Facebook account to anything. Facebook is my online home, I suppose. I check the settings regularly because Facebook makes changes and then doesn’t let you know necessarily . It also broadcasts when you are online, what comments you make, makes you available on Messenger and tells everyone what you like. Stalkers paradise right now. I have turned the sidebar off and I log out now so that I maintain my privacy and the privacy of others. I have changed settings so friends of friends cannot see things. You really need to check your settings on online sites and you really need to be aware of how this may or may not be affecting you. My online identity is not the whole of me but it is a genuine facet of me.

Danielle Di-Masi’s video is a good way to start thinking about your online identity and the UNSW article about her follows that up. Forbes also has a good article about managing your online identity and then a link to some tips for improving what you do.

Make the most of online tutorials

We live in a visual world. We have access to devices and the internet. Nobody needs to be stuck. We haven’t quite got to the stage where we are capitalising on the value of video tutorials . Some people are still text based and want text information. Most people have shifted to ingesting video information and it’s worth its weight in gold:

You can find out quickly how to do things
You can promote information to fill in learning gaps
You can highlight relevant information

Different age groups view technology differently at the moment. Older people would probably think it is not very sensible, secure or appropriate to be doing their banking with phones and tablets. It would seem too casual for them and not the way they have been brought up with the highly valued bank book, the important banking and financial meetings and the belief that financial dealings are a very serious business. Younger people would want the ease and convenience of device banking because they are time poor and have a different way of looking at it. Not everything should be done online because there is real value for all concerned to have genuine people contact with real conversations. Online videos , though, can smooth the way to getting people more comfortable with how they can do things differently. All businesses and organisations need their little video tutorials about how to make the most of their services or ideas. Video tutorials help people to know how to do things so they can participate. Trawling through FAQs can often leave people as baffled as they started unless they are well organised and presented. Even FAQs could have videos to help people navigate interfaces and thinking around content.

The how to create a website video by WordPress has had nearly a million views. It was well worth the making of the video and the comments attest to that. Backing up online content with video help is a good way to engage everyone as the aitsl site clearly demonstrates. Videos initiate a culture of participation and can shift thinking and practice. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all have video capability and so we can all share our thinking, ideas and knowledge in a very easy way to create those connected conversations which will move us all forward instead of dividing us. In truth, there is no generational gap. There is generational advantage which can be shared now across the internet. Every generation has its strengths and videos and images are an efficient way of making those connections.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital Eye Strain (DES) is a self inflicted condition we have brought upon ourselves because we use digital devices so frequently and our world requires that we do in order to work, play and organise our lives. Phones and tablets put out enough light to illuminate a dark room. That ought to remind us we need to take care of our eyes and we need to respond more pro actively to looking after them. It comes down to knowing what to do, taking action and reminding others to take action. Constantly staring at screens is creating problems for people so we need to be sensible and build in the health routines which will alleviate some of these problems. Vision Optique has some helpful inforgraphics to show us what some of the problems are and then some very helpful ideas to show us how to improve what we are doing so we avoid digital eyestrain. None of it is hard. Optometrytimes looks at how DES is affecting people and what can be done about it. Again there are some good visuals to help us.

How to insert a SIM card

It came to my attention last week there are people who don’t know how to insert a SIM card into a phone or feel insecure about replacing one. They don’t know where to start and they don’t know what to do and think they will break their very expensive phone. I have further noticed, now I want to do this blog post, that YouTube has mostly old videos about inserting SIM cards. The world is probably assuming that by now we know how to do this because mobile devices are no longer new technology. They have been around for a long time. I have used a video for an iPhone. There is a video for Android phones here. If you cannot insert and remove a SIM card you are not in control of your device and can’t use it independently. We all need to know something this basic and we should ensure people around us are comfortable with an essential functional behaviour with regard to mobile devices. And what does SIM stand for ? System Information Module.

Make your own cloud

wiredzero talks you through how to set up your own cloud storage on Linux but , as he says, you can set it up on any operating system. If you want something which is already done for you , then you need to be looking at CNET’s video and if you want a Raspberry Pi project then AvoidErrors has a video about setting up cloud storage using a Raspberry Pi.

Cloud storage has become a bit of a thing because we do have large amounts of data , especially in media files and we want to be able to access them when we want to. We also are getting to the point where our smartphones are becoming overloaded with data files and we need to rethink our storage. Personal or third party cloud storage is then an option provided you have internet access. Pocket drives are the option if you don’t. You cannot always connect a pocket drive to a smart phone , though. Most people would need a laptop so cloud storage is back on the menu of options.

People want to be able to use their own files and their own media in particular. We are closer to the day where we shall only have digital media files and no hard copies of anything. Creating a personal cloud still means you are using a service from somewhere . You need to understand how you can benefit from cloud services or what they offer so you can decide whether it is for you. Cloudwards gives you a detailed run down on the free services available. With the wiredzero video you are making your own virtual server to store your media so that you are in control of your media storage.

What’s DevOps?

DevOps is a new , highly paid IT job but it’s a concept we all need to understand. It’s about smoothing the path between developers and users so that the software is better suited to the environment in which it works and the  people who use it can get the best out of it for what they want to do. In an economy it’s about making yourself the one who is seen, heard and used. ACADGILD explains it really well but then pushes its company. I have used the video by Sanjeev Sharma. He explains it really well and has a lot of experience in the field. The world has changed and the world is changing. We want to use technology in a way which suits us and we want it to be able to do what we want it to be able to do. Developers can come up with ideas and projects . Some of those now are launched as test/lite projects to gain valuable feedback for further development. We do not live in a static world. We now live in a world of communication, collaboration and constant improvement which is why the concept of DevOps has to be understood. Developers can create things but they may not suit the market, the audience or the environment. They may create software which is half way decent and then we need  input to get it to be the best software for the time and place. I sometimes contact developers because I can make suggestions as to how I think something can improve in its functionality or if the software works well on one device and has limitations on another. Software development is complex. Developers work hard and long hours. I don’t expect my changes to occur and I usually only offer suggestions if I am asked. TheAstronauts blog explains why developers are not really interested in your unsolicited ideas. The explanation hits home. The feedback loop is becoming part of most organisations and businesses now and needs to be a part of everything. I have given feedback and thought, well, that’s not going to help, because the feedback form is too limited or doesn’t actually allow you to pinpoint the problems or clearly make observations. That’s when I blog or tweet if I want to. If I think something needs to be changed I put it out there into the ether. It will be picked up. It will be read. It will be considered. People can only do what they do and we have to avoid swamping them. If I have used classroom software which doesn’t quite work in that situation I haven’t hesitated to contact someone who would be able to make the changes and have a conversation. Today that is essential. It is important to be pleasant, polite, concise and prepared to wait . Offering suggestions is part of the process now. I have been stunned by how quickly some things are changed for the better. I have been pleased to see how many sites now include that feedback loop. In the end we’ll all get good at this idea of DevOps. We are no longer a world of victims when it comes to development. We are now part of a collaborative process.

Design and Agile Thinking

agile - definitionAgile is the new buzz word. Agile thinking, agile management, but it comes from the IT industry and software development. It is about including the user to ensure good outcomes with design , delivery and functionality. The  key elements are here on LeadingStrategicInitiatives. It comes back to what I have been saying: the tried and true internet way of doing things: Create content, share , gain feedback and then grow your ideas. It’s a constant improvement , growth circle. Spiral , maybe ,because you are always getting better.

Agile and Design thinking are at the heart of our Professional Teaching Standards but they haven’t been articulated in that way. They have been out since 2011 and perhaps need to be refreshed so that we can see clearly these standards are very much part of the 21st Century.

1.
Know students and how they learn
Refer to the Standard
at each career stage
2.
Know the content and how to teach it
3.
Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
4.
Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
5.
Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
6.
Engage in professional learning
7.
Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers
and the community

If you look at the video clip you can see how well our standards fit in with the elements of design and agile thinking. Knowing others and engaging with them is fundamental to design and agile thinking. Getting that feedback so you can improve delivery and experience is fundamental too.

These principles of design and agile thinking are articulated within the standards e.g.

1.3 Design and implement
teaching strategies that are
responsive to the learning
strengths and needs of
students from diverse
linguistic, cultural, religious and
socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.2 Lead initiatives that utilise
comprehensive content knowledge to
improve the selection and sequencing
of content into coherently organised
learning and teaching programs

3.2 Work with colleagues to plan, evaluate
and modify learning and teaching
programs to create productive learning
environments that engage all students

4.1 Demonstrate and lead by example
the development of productive and
inclusive learning environments
across the school by reviewing
inclusive strategies and exploring new
approaches to engage and support
all students

Design thinking is : Understand, Explore, Prototype , Evaluate

Agile Thinking is about bearing the end user in mind, making incremental improvements and gaining feedback before you move on.

These types of current and technological thinking are at the heart of our standards . We call them growth mindset and improvement model.

SlideShare revisited

SlideShareSlideShare has partnered with LinkedIn or vice versa and has a whole new look. It suits the new device environments better and has a very good visual interface. I originally used SlideShare to improve my presentation skills and then to produce content for my class room. It was also a place where I could get ready made content for my classroom. Slide presentations are perfect for flipped learning, for IWB presentations and for sharing detailed and well thought out information which uses the essential notion of progressive disclosure. I had a student who would automatically create her own slide presentations from information I was teaching and then she had a beautiful visual record of what she was learning. There is now a clipboard section which I shall have to find out about because I have only just discovered through an email that SlideShare has been resurrected. We live in a visual world. We need well thought out presentations to guide us through and an easy platform for sharing our information. The feedback I got from the SlideShare community really helped me to improve how I presented my information and the success of some of my presentations both in the classroom and on SlideShare is proof that feedback works in a powerful way.

Benefits of gaming

Let’s get this clear. It is not all gaming and it is not binge gaming. There has to be discernment and balance with gaming as there ought to be with other things in life. One of the unexpected benefits of gaming I have discovered in my research into gaming is that they are actually helpful to people undergoing treatments for cancer and for pain management therapy. Cancer treatment of America looks at the benefits of gaming for cancer patients. It has been particularly good for children because it reduces the amount of pain killers they have to be on. NCBI has published research on the use of video games for pain management. Psychology Today looks at the cognitive benefits of game playing which is what has mostly been picked up in the media. Dr. Mark Griffiths who is a professor at the Nottingham Trent University in the UK looks at the educational benefits of video games in his research. C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz have a very thorough look at the impact of gaming and which games are helpful and how they are helpful neurologically . It also makes clear that games have to be tailored to the individual in order for them to be having a positive impact on cognition, attention and neurological development:

“The effect of a game depends on how it is interacted
with—A key difference from the action of a drug is that the
impact of a video game depends on how that individual interacts
with the game, with individual differences in motivation,
personality, and nascent cognitive abilities leading to
completely different game experiences. At the extreme, it is
obvious that having a child with ADHD press random buttons
on the game controller will provide an ineffective learning
experience. Thus, the results of a given video game
intervention can vary widely across individuals. While we
have discussed data from many demographic groups (from
children to seniors; from those with mental health impairments
to athletes and surgeons), showing that video games
can positively influence many demographics, there are
numerous reasons why a game that helps one individual may
or may not have the same effects on another.”

Impact of gaming

Daphne Bavelier is a professor at the University of Geneva in the area of cognitive neuroscience. Her research is identifying the impact of gaming on brain plasticity and brain function in people who are gamers. She is looking at the effects gaming has on brain function and that is important. There also needs to be research by gamers who understand gaming from the inside to know what gaming is doing to cognitive abilities and function. Gaming will improve your vision, your capacity to think fast, your capacity to absorb fine detail. Anyone who games at the high end is processing text, audio, visuals and decision making at lightning speed. The comments under the video add another layer of understanding because they are largely comments by gamers. Her comment of gaming 15 hours a week is too conservative. People can play games for 10 to 15 hours a day. We need to understand all of these things. We need to see how the patterns are formed and how the thinking is developed and what exactly is happening when people game.

test goldfish to climb a tree Gamers are in their 30s. Children grow up in homes with parents who are gamers now. It is a part of our society. Daphne Bavelier observes that the  benefits of gaming can be used in all sorts of ways to improve cognitive and visual function in non gaming people and there is information  to follow up on.  Gaming is such a big part of life now there will be a problem with students who are tested using only static text based tests. This is not how many of them operate or process screen information. It’s the testing the goldfish to climb a tree meme so we need to be looking at better ways of finding out how people are learning through games and what exactly they are learning. Professor Bavelier’s work is throwing light onto that.

Visual planning

Habitica

Image: Habitica

There are so many visual planning apps and so much software these days for individual and collaborative use. Trello is one of the reliable, well known ones which also comes as an app from the Microsoft store for Windows 10. Techworld has a list of recommendations for worthwhile project planning tools to consider. It is  worth reading the comments too as they give other ideas about good visual planning tools people are using.
RealTimeBoard has a suite of tools for different purposes in terms of visual planning and they all have a free version as well as premium versions. My own favourite is MeisterTask which is good in that it breaks down the tasks for you so that you focus on the individual components and then there is room for collaboration if desired. Habitica adds a questing and gaming layer to increase motivation and achievement if that is what you like. All these planning tools allow you to see what you are doing and what you are achieving. You get sound visual feedback on progress and success so you don’t overlook the fact you have been working hard towards goals. You can see what has been done and what needs to be done very easily. That keeps you positive and motivated.

Make a vision board

Vision boards are actually about accountability and responsibility. When you create a vision board you are taking responsibility for who you are and what you represent and then you make yourself accountable for that because you are getting visual feedback about yourself and your ideas. Vision boards are a good way to look at your visual image and that is important in the digital world. You have to come to some kind of understanding of how you are representing yourself online and what that might mean and the impact that might have. Vision boards allow you to take control of visual imagery and , in particular, images which represent you . To do a now and future self is not such a bad idea. You can look at how you want to project yourself, how you want to be, what you want to be important. We relate very quickly to images and so do others. A vision board can sum us up in one view. That might be important in the digital world. How do I want others to view me? Why? Brand is built on images and action. You have to know what that entails and how to do it. I had a home group where we all made vision boards at the beginning of the year. We pinned them at the back of the class so we saw them every morning when we came in. The vision boards never failed to make an impact or a statement. Other students who came into the class room could see the ideas and inspiration. It had a positive snowball effect every day. The students who made them had a strong sense of self that year and were motivated to achieve what was there on the wall or to be clear why they didn’t want that in their life and thinking any more. The vision boards brought about a clarity of vision and inspiration and then a framework which acted as a personal guide and ideas generator for others. For me as a teacher it meant I became aware of things about my students I wouldn’t have known just by having home group. I could see their art skills, their ideas, their dreams and the fun . The choices you make to create a vision board is part of the cognitive process and along the way you learn a lot about technology if you do a digital one. It’s your vision board, you want it to be right.

Best Smart Phone apps 2017

Because we all need new smart phone apps! We do. Developers are highly productive and becoming more creative and so it pays to check from time to time to see if there are apps which will improve and enhance your life and productivity. Phones are becoming more the must have device because they can now control and manage so much as well as serve their function as a communications device. Both android and iPhone are offering some really good new apps this year. PCMag has 100 new apps for android phones you can have a look through . popularmechanics has 23 iPhone apps for your consideration and then the video offers some more. Have fun!

Virtual schools

There has been some talk about increasing online options for students. It needs to stay like that until clear and successful models have been established for online learning. There are then the issues around online learning in virtual schools like isolation, social engineering, social justice, care giving, duty of care, cyber and real life safety. It is going to come and it is going to happen but we are the ones who need to drive this because we want technology to work for us not for us to be entrapped and enslaved to technology. Of course it’s cheaper to run online schools. It saves about half the costs. That would make it an attractive option for some but we need to think about the other costs. It would suit some students well, you just know it. It would suit some teachers better. There is no longer a one size fits all so there is no reason to ignore the benefits of webinars, online conferencing and communication tools which we now have. It needs to be thoroughly thought out and planned and then carefully trialled.

Good online tools for learning provide quality content, report on progress, create local and global activities, allow work to be customised and set and then report on participation. They allow student and staff input , participation and feed back. They have a proven track record. Students can ignore all of that, though, and so someone needs to be monitoring participation and progress. SBS looked at Aurora Online school and its progress earlier this year. That is a school which runs synchronous online lessons. Victoria is running online schools in languages with some success. The Victorian virtual schools network is also running other online subjects via video conferencing tools. This keeps the people aspect of learning going. Babble has a parent point of view on virtual schools which is worth the read. Geoff Masters has written an excellent piece about the challenges for Australian schools and that looks at flexible learning arrangements. There has also been some useful research into the differences between online and traditional learning  by Joseph Cavanaugh and Stephen J Jacquemin. Kevin Gumienny  has looked  at what you really need to run successful online courses and has isolated the issues well. Not that you could ever quantify or objectify the lifelong impact of a teacher who has written on your life.

Online learning has to be targeted, effective and able to achieve its goal. It has to involve the learner and for that to happen it has to meet the needs of the learner . Participation both cerebrally and emotionally is important. A learner needs to have input and help. Online learning tools need to consult the learner about how to progress and improve the delivery. That two way conversation again – create content, share, gain feedback, improve.

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