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11 posts from February 12, 2012 - February 18, 2012

February 18, 2012

RIP John Marks

John Marks by Simon TownsleyTHE TELEGRAPH TOLD ME about the passing of John Marks, father of Kevin Marks. I know and respect Kevin's voice from hours on the TWIT network and I feel his loss.

From the Telegraph: RIP John Marks. Born June 18 1934, died February 18 2012. The co-author of several books and a multitude of pamphlets, Marks made it his mission to highlight inadequacies in standards of literacy and numeracy in schools. His influence continues to be felt in Ireland whenever there's discussion of league tables for schools.

John Marks was a co-author of two studies that helped to ignite a national debate about standards and the importance of accountability in state education. These were Standards in English Schools, analyses of English secondary schools’ examination results in 1981 and 1983. In 1996 he wrote a newspaper article about how he and his colleagues (Caroline Cox and Maciej Pomian-Srzednicki) had tried to conduct their 1981 “census” of the examination results of all the schools in the country: “Many schools and local education authorities refused to send the information which legally they had to publish.

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Fighting Illiteracy Starts with Teaching New Literacy Skills

Moblog 9500IRELAND'S HOPE TO CULTIVATE A Knowledge Society actually starts with ensuring teachers can play an active role in it. That's a big hurdle because it means empowering digitally literate teachers.

I would cite three sizes of screens in a working definition of digital literacy. I'd measure the ability of a teacher to interact with a digital touchpoint one foot away in their hand. If you cannot work a smartphone via a data connection, you lack digital literacy. Then I'd measure the ability of a teacher to interact with a digital screen three feet away on a laptop, desktop or tablet. If a teacher cannot effortlessly show collaborative resources used to prepare or improve classroom presentations, there's evidence of digital illiteracy at work. Finally, I'd look at ten feet away and see if a teacher knew the relationship of our digital culture to television broadcasts, streamed content and DVDs. I've been with teachers who dismissed the efficacy of hashtags on television screens. Ignoring the role of Twitter as a news source often means a total disrespect of our digital culture.

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February 17, 2012

I Listen Most Intently through Earbuds

Three Times MusicONE SIDE EFFECT of owning a Kindle is having to upgrade earbuds because the Kindle is really good at storing MP3 and buying Audible books.

I spread my audio experience across several platforms, mainly to avoid a flat battery on any one device. Although my preferred listening experience is through Pocket Casts on the iPod Touch, Zune's Music Player on my Nokia Lumia is also a brilliant option. However, the production values achieved on the Kindle through Audible.com books is superb.  So it's Pocket Casts (iOS ans Android), Zune subscriptions (Windows Phone) and Audible on Kindle. After less than a year with the Kindle, I've run out of space on the device. That's mainly because I'm carrying too many PDFs in the Kindle. I've decided to sort out that issue, keeping PDFs in Evernote on both the Lumia and the iPod Touch.

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February 16, 2012

Sony eReader for Note Taking

Sony eReaderAS A LOYAL KINDLE owner, I've discovered I want access to my notes on screen. That's something Sony's eReader does nicely so I've marked my eBay Wishlist accordingly.

The Kindle's wifi access works well where I live and work so I expect the Sony's on-board wifi to be the same. That means it will probably encounter wifi problems when trying to connect to the internet in many Irish wifi hotspots (places requiring a browser log-in) and it probably won't work well with the wifi on public transportation. But when it connect, it will give me access to more than two million titles in Sony's Reader Store.

We need more than one flavour of eReader because I think our children will see the day when they can borrow books from the local public library and that's easier done with the Sony eReader. It's also easy as a link to download Google public domain books with the Sony eReader.

I am planning to convert a lot of Mia's primary school books onto e-ink. When they go to the Sony PRS-T1, they will be in the lightest eReader on the market. The PRS-T1 weighs less than six ounces. That's lighter than a paperback. Plus its slim curved profile makes it easy to hold.

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One Step Up in Collaboration

EvernoteAFTER AN INTENSE FIVE DAYS, a time span that included a weekend, I'm parking a major collaborative document back on a shared network drive and sharing a few thoughts about the process.

In my case, big lesson learned was how trustworthy and effortless Evernote made the process for me. As I finished every major input, I copied and pasted several pages of work into a shared Evernote notebook for a subject matter expert to review off site. This subtle little process took only a few minutes--the time required to select-all, copy, click new note button, and paste. I let Evernote synch itself. Within 15 minutes, a simple text from the subject matter expert let me know everything looked good from another editor's window.

I believe in Evernote and hope that my entire office adopts a practise of keeping an active synchronised notebook on their handsets. If they do, I believe we will have reached a new level in collaboration. It helps that Evernote is free for Android, iOS, Symbian and Windows Phone. We use all of those handsets where I work.

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February 15, 2012

Avoiding Tethering Surprises with OTA Wifi

My Mobile WifiAFTER 17 MONTHS of using my Huawei 585 on two continents, I can wholeheartedly endorse the use of portable wifi service.

Using a device like the Huawei 585 (at left) or the O2 Hotshot eliminates the need to tether from your mobile phone and that means you won't face any sort of bill shock after tethering for 10 minutes. I bought the little black Hauwei 585 from eBay for EUR 60 but if I'd renewed my data contract with O2 I could have received it for free. 

I can feed my over the air data habit with a Pay As You Go SIM for less than 20 EUR a month. That's the price point of the contract I'd have to maintain with O2-Ireland for the same peace of mind. Both the PAYG and the standard contract for O2 data worked elegantly in Ireland, England and the States for me. I've powered creative multimedia classrooms with this Hauwei hotspot, lit up entire carriages on Irish Rail with it and its the high speed connection for the iPad while we're underway in Ireland.

If you haven't worked out a plan to tether before you need to tether, you might be in for a surprise about the cost of running your phone in tethering mode.

Some of Bernie Goldbach's curated mobile links:

John Rutledge -- Lessons from a Road Warrior: How I fell off a horse, earned 15 million air miles, got sand in my shoes and learned how to invest. Get it on Kindle.

Speeding Along with O2-Ireland's Dongle (insideview.ie)

Should you tether your tablet to your phone, or just get a 3G tablet? (liliputing.com)

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Apps Work Smoother for Creatives

Schoolworks MoblogI'm a big proponent of the mobile web but based on cross-talk on Google Plus, I've discovered I use native apps a lot more than I admit. That's largely because I prefer to app my way into content creation.

Try creating an Audioboo on the mobile website of Audioboo.fm and you know what I mean.

It's a lot less tedious saving an image to Flickr from the Flickr app (although sending by email works fine for me a lot of the time).

I use my Lumia and my iPod Touch to do more in less time than ever possible on my laptop. I reckon I'll be able to extend the laptop's useful life for an extra year because I don't carry it as much.

However, a lot of websites won't discard their ad-encrusted wrappers to to work smoothly on a smartphone or tablet. Like @jezlyn says, "If there are mobile websites that worked similarly to their corresponding mobile apps, I wouldn't mind using web apps more." (Cheryl was the inspiration for this post.)

Developers! Have a look at GetGlue and start revising your work.


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LIT Creative Multimedia

Creative Multimedia at LIT.ieALONG WITH THREE OTHER multimedia lecturers, I spent most of Valentine's Day, including the dinner hour, revising Ireland's longest-running third level Bachelor of Science creative multimedia degree programme.

We are preparing to slot our programme into the curriculum offerings promoted and leveraged by the Limerick Institute of Technology. Along the way, we're well aware of the importance of the programme we have tweaked since late 2002. Our working notes show an evolution of techniques, procedures and style since the days when the programme emerged from a BSc in Software Development. We do creative multimedia in LIT-Clonmel as a BSc (Honours degree) because our core cadre has been working in the space since 1996 when we taught at Arthouse, Ireland's Multimedia Centre for the Arts. Today's programme builds upon a strong pedigree.

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February 14, 2012

The Future is Open Irish Education

Big Martin and Little Jen

IRELAND'S HIGHER EDUCATION PLAYERS have started a cautious dance where the game involves hanging new names over familiar doors. But without making fundamental changes inside the doors.

That's not to say that the current wave of consolidations isn't without merit. I think Ireland can benefit by squeezing out some duplication from the ranks of third level education and maybe that's all the system can do. However, I think the Irish taxpayer deserves more of a fundamental change in the way higher education is offered to citizens.

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February 13, 2012

Earnestly Reading

Thanksgiving ReadingWHILE LIVING IN GERMANY, I used to read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the language of my forebears and it was comforting.

While living in Kilkenny, I often found German emanating from the local paper in pieces written by Josephine Gräfin Plettenberg. Today, I return to Goethe, in words written inside the cover of my 2012 Moleskine.

Then indecision brings its own delays, and days are lost lamenting over lost days.

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute.

What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Thanks to my endearing relationship with my Kindle, I've rekindled my love for voracious reading and without asking Pinterest about books. I want to have the mental discipline to think about advice sitting inside the memory of my Kindle when I get wound up by little things at work. That mental discipline extends from reading earnestly, not reading only professional tomes.  So I'm back with my long read. I dive into biographies. I've discovered free adventure titles in e-book form. I've started to enjoy an intensive journey into myself, following characters on electronic pages I can keep tucked away on my Kindle.

Life is good.

My photo of books on my shelf and a candy bar from home. The Google query "Are you in earnest" returns 82.5m results, 90 from my personal network and one in my Evernote stash.


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