Deskbot

 

Back in the 90s desktop toys and avatars were all the go on Windows computers. I had a man climbing a ladder and a little mouse who used to play the violin and eat scones. They were toys. Brain breaks. We used to have Clippy too and other animated avatars to help us with spreadsheets. They went out of vogue but you can install Deskbot and it runs on Microsoft Agent as did the desktop toys and avatars. Deskbot will read text to you. On the one I have downloaded I can only get American English, it sounds a bit robotic but is nevertheless a very helpful genie which is the only avatar/personal/bot currently available to me. I got it to read a whole blog post to me. Great asset for if you want to hear something rather than read it. Great asset if you are learning to read or learning to read in another language. Great asset if you need someone to read to you because you cannot see the text very easily. So Genie has those uses and would have plenty more. He is about saving time, energy, accessibility, literacy. Pretty handy little deskbot. You can read a detailed review here on makeuseof. You can download the deskbot here  free from Bellcraft. There is no malware which comes with it or extra programs you might not want. it takes a few seconds to download, a few more seconds to install and a couple of minutes to go through the options of the setup. I look forward to exploring this more.

4MAT learning

4MAT learning was developed by Bernice McCarthy in the 1980s and has never really gone away. There is an interesting  paper by Sandra Craven which she submitted in using class 4MAT research as a part of her Masters of Education degree. She concludes:

“Student communication and presentation skills using the 4MAT System showed marked improvement in that student application of the system included audience participation, involvement, and engagement. Furthermore, improved organizational and research skills produced presentations that not only entertained but informed. Although students did become aware of learning styles, to say that they understood their learning style, or were capable of truly honouring their own after only one experience, would be untrue. Only through repeated exposure brought about by the teacher during lessons will students reach this goal. The collaborative learning experience was much more successful than this educator anticipated. This was evidenced not only by student actions during the project, but carry over has been noted in the classroom generally. Furthermore, because of the intensity of the project, students appear to have bonded and are now treating each other with greater respect.”

Teachers have always striven since then to teach students according to their needs and develop materials which will connect with different sorts of learners. Differentiation became the key word and has stayed. Teachers are more than aware their classes are made up of so many sorts of people with different learning needs. When they then have to address curriculum requirements, standards, professional standards, deadlines, national testing and then the documentation around that and put that all into a digital context it is not surprising it becomes overwhelming at times. Teachers put the content value in but the picture can sometimes become muddied with the content  value out because of the complexity of classrooms these days. It doesn’t matter who is teaching what and at what level, 4MAT is a useful way to address content delivery to maximise the outcomes for learners no matter where they are and what they are using in terms of resources. We are all now engaged in lifelong learning. When you have no idea what you know, what you are supposed to know, what you are doing and what you are supposed to be doing then you need tools to clarify the picture so that you can make it realistic and know what is possible at the time.

The content model and the strategies you employ to deliver content which will make the path clear for learners. You have to develop a way of connecting with  learners at each point of the learning pathway. AbbyEagle explains  well how to use 4MAT learning :

“The ‘why’ learner needs to know why they need to learn the material.

The ‘what’ person wants lots of information and is looking for facts.

The ‘how’ person wants to know how things work?

The ‘what if’ person learns through a process of self discovery.”

Read more: http://www.abbyeagle.com/nlp-coaching-resources/4mat-system.php#ixzz4Zq1qNo7J

By focussing on those four areas and gathering your resources and delivery around them you have a better chance of being less lost in the array of demands from varying sectors of education. The sector requirements can be fitted in on the basis of clarifying what needs to be done, what needs to be developed and the value it will then provide and the learning goals being set.

Is Twitter safe?

TwitterI blogged earlier about checking Facebook settings and my instinct was right. Since the compulsory live feed about who is liking what and who is commenting on what, the likes and comments have dropped off significantly and it’s interesting what people have since decided to comment on and react to. A reminder to check bottom right on the cog and you can turn off the right sidebar as I have. You still get birthday notifications! Twitter is a different kettle of fish entirely and it is harder to manage as such for you keep a stable, balanced feed. Every so often there is a spawning of grossness and undesirable which puts good people off and makes it hard then to enjoy the benefits of Twitter. Again, as social media users , we perhaps need to make some requests of the social media companies because we are contributing to their success and the research that goes on around them. Twitter is by far the most efficient means of communicating and getting out information in an emergency. Our farmers use it to get stock and feed to each other during bushfires and floods and to organise the help they need to save their farms. It has been a huge bonus in those times that Twitter is there, the hashtag can be created and people can get the help and/or reassurance they need in times of trouble. Companies can engage with customers in a real way and I won’t forget the day I solved my problem on Twitter while I was waiting on the phone to be put through to resolve a phone company issue. I hadn’t planned it that way. I just was trying to fill in the wait time. I have also used Twitter to help others who are stuck or want immediate help with something. Twitter can be great and providing you follow the hashtags you want it is more than a helpful venue. There are some interesting statistics on brandwatch:

Twitter user statistics

There are 310M monthly active users

A total of 1.3 billion accounts have been created

Of those, 44% made an account and left before ever sending a Tweet

Only 550 million people have ever sent a Tweet

500 million people visit the site each month without logging in

29.2% of US social media users are Twitter users

80% of active users access the site via mobile

208 is the average number of followers

391 million accounts have no followers at all

Katy Perry has the most followers, with over 87m

Journalists make up 24.6% of verified accounts

83% of the world’s leaders are on Twitter

79% of accounts are held outside of the U.S.

Twitter estimates 23m of its active users are actually bots

 

It’s the bots and fake accounts which tend to create the problems. A bot can spam Twitter feeds with anything. Fake accounts can spread whatever they like and are not held accountable. Real people are surprisingly good at finding out who owns these fake accounts. From that point of view Twitter becomes self regulating but there are times when you know that things just should not be there. We have laws and they don’t seem to be able to be applied or they are being ignored. I would think most users do not want to be in a swamp or cesspool and that intermittent aspect of Twitter is doing it harm. The fakeness aspect has to go. There is no kudos in having 40, 000 fake followers and building your name on fake just doesn’t work.

Theoretically children younger than 13 should not be on Twitter without parental consent. Given the nature of some of the material at times then 13 is still too young according to our laws and media ratings. Social media ratings matter and Huffington Post explains why. Trying to pin down the age restrictions is hard and it is explained here in the post and comments on Lisa Nielsan’s blog. Age screening is explained on the Twitter support site. There are other Twitter-like sites which might be more suitable for children. Learning how to use social media effectively is a desirable part of current educational needs in the digital age. education.com has some solid advice about children and Twitter.

Assembly app

Techgen has created a pretty good review of the Assembly app and the video goes through the key points of using it. I have been using it on my iPad and haven’t, as yet, encountered the problems he had on his phone. I can manage the shape choices across the bottom bar of my iPad Air quite well . What I can’t do is find out how to put in my own backgrounds as he did . There doesn’t seem to be an option for that. Maybe it comes with the subscription to Assembly Pro.

assembly app

Yesterday’s image

I am running the free version and have plenty to be working with and the shape packages are now all free. You can easily download them as you want them. I run it with the snap to grid functionality because it creates very precise placement and image manipulation. It is easy to change the colours and add text and to bring pictures forward or put hem to the back. It is an app which fits in well with the ACARA Digital Technologies curriculum requirements because students can learn how to manipulate objects, how to apply graphic design ideas , how to collaborate and how digital systems work to create meaning. It’s a great app for creating logos, simple designs and not so simple designs when you get good at it. There are tutorials on You Tube and the Assembly app site itself points you in the right direction. Currently it’s an iOS app. There is a review of it on stuff.tv . It saves the created images  in HD and the size is about 4000 pixels square , so a good size for manipulating further and reducing them will not disturb image integrity.

Benefits of coding

That cartoon came up on my Facebook again this morning, endorsed by a teacher. We live in the digital age and we can be victims of it and put ourselves in the position of being constantly rescued or told, or we can take control of it and have some input, some capacity to see what is happening and have sufficient knowledge to be able to manage what happens with devices and computers. I am not a big coder but I know enough to know when to alert sites, to know how to discuss technical problems and to negotiate improvements. I know when to be concerned or not when something goes wrong and I know how to customise some things when I want to and it’s possible. Knowing code puts you in the driver’s seat. You make better choices. Coding is cardio for you brain and The Smart Girl Workout explains it well. The article on the Benefits of Coding explains why it is good for anyone to learn how to code and then provides a number of links to support the arguments. It covers a number of different benefits including sustainablity. Douglas Rushkoff, in the video, has looked at our digital world from all angles and has widely shared his ideas. He analyses and questions our digital world  in a comprehensive way. Rex Salisbury looks at the benefits of immersive learning at coding bootcamps where you are in an intensive learning situation and come out of it with a strong sense of achievement and knowledge. For some that would be a better way of going about it rather than being drip fed. Immersive learning cannot be sustained because it’s exhausting and demanding but it’s a great way to get a head start into the ongoing brain cardio work of coding.

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