Next Generation Investment

In the UK there is a new grant scheme available for low-income families with children aged 3-9, to get access to a computer and the internet to get online at home.

If you are a low income family in receipt of certain benefits you could qualify for a grant to buy a computer and/or a minimum of one years’ internet access. The programme is aimed at those that need it most and targets families that do not have access to a computer or the internet at home.

Depending on what you need, the grant allows eligible applicants to buy one of the following packages:

1. Full package (a computer, one year’s internet access, service and support)
2. A computer with service and support only
3. One year’s internet access only

I am pleased to see that parents will be allowed to purchase their own choice of pc and software, and that there is telephone support for those who are not familiar with using the internet. I think that this type of investment in children is so important, and will help to reduce inequalities in the education system and motivate children to learn.

MobilizeThis09

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Mobilize This09 being held on Friday the 30th of October, brings together those pursuing the active use of mobile technologies and associated digital literacy in their daily lives, teaching and work related duties. The event will be held at Charles Darwin University, Australia – Google map, in the ‘Mal Nairn’ Auditorium. In attendance will be invited guests, Charles Darwin University staff and students and many registered community representatives.

The focus of this years events are on the showcasing of examples of where mobile related learning concepts interface with popular learning design. There will be ample opportunity for online participants to connect with physical activities happening.

As this has both interactive and broadcast free / live to air components to the program there is expected to be a large online audience also.

Please feel free to join in uStream and tell others about the Friday 30th event.

Linux Educational Comicbooks

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Hackett and Bankwell is an educational comic/cartoon manual designed to teach readers how to get started with Linux-based operating systems. You can download copies of the ebooks here.

New users often feel overwhelmed by all of the new information they need to digest in order to confidently use Linux, and Hackett and Bankwell provides them a quicker way to get familiar with using Linux-based operating systems and master the material.

The publication is available to purchase here or you can make a donation which will help them to publish futher material, the comic is also available with Ubuntu on cd. This comic is suitable for all ages and has real educational value so by all means download the pdf and pass it on to younger readers, the illustrations are really fun.

Hackett and Bankwell can be instrumental in helping new users understand the various elements that comprise the operating system and how they work together.

The Open University?

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The UK’s Open Source Consortium has accused the Open University of breaching its founding principles.  The Open University came about in the 1960’s as a move towards making university education available to all regardless of income or gender. Given the sort of forward thinking involved it is somewhat worrying that the OU has so far failed to support free software. If anything the OU seems to favour the proprietry software provided by Microsoft.

As reported by the Inquirer, the OU’s bias lies in the student technical support services:

It advises students that if they don’t use a Windows PC they “may have problems accessing the software and data files supplied with course materials”. It has produced a 31-page guide to using Microsoft software and also provides demonstrations. It has produced upgrade advice for Microsoft’s Vista operating system and even gone as far as promoting a Microsoft discount offer to its students.

The OU does distribute copies of the Open Source Star Office to all students, but that endorsement pales in comparison to its backing of Microsoft. It has given no such advice, support or endorsement of Ubuntu, the free operating system lauded as the Open Source movement’s viable alternative to Windows.

Its worrying that a student running a pc with open source software, on a limited income would have to basically scrap their set up and buy into microsoft in order to join the OU.

Microblogging @ Jokaydia Unconference

I have to say a big thank you to Henny Zimer in Second Life aka Jeff Agamenoni. I presented a Microblogging session earlier as part of the Jokaydia Unconference. If you missed it then you missed out! Well done chaps, it was a really interesting session.

The Jokaydia Unconference has all but drawn to a close for today, with an informal get together to round off the evening, followed by tomorrows scheduled events.

Microblogging session
Microblogging session

Images cc-by-sa  ty teachandlearn

One Laptop Per Child

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Ok well perhaps that should read, half a laptop per child.  News just in from The Inquirer, the first batch of Classmate PCs has been delivered to Portuguese schools. 3000 of an approximate 500,000, due to be distributed over the next three years. Current student to PC ratios stand at about 5:1, this should be reduced to 2:1 hopefully. So they cannot boast to having one laptop per child, but its at least a vast improvement.

Delivering on a promise made just a couple of months ago, first- through fourth-graders throughout Portugal received yesterday the new lappies for next to nothing (€50) or for free in the case of low-income families.

I think that giving children the opportunity to have access to a PC from an early age is really important, they can learn through doing, and can have access to educational games, and the internet.

Cyberpsychology

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Nottingham Trent University have introduced a Cyberpsychology masters degree, the first of its kind in the UK. The course is open to postgraduates and will look at online gaming and gambling, social networking as well as online dating.

Dr Monica Whitty, who’s running the course said that:

“As well as being academically challenging, with the possibility of students going on to do a PhD, the course has been designed with the needs of industry firmly in mind.”

The course has been designed to be academically challenging but also attuned to the needs of the industry. As a result the academic team have incorporated a work-based module in the curriculum.

This module will allow students to experience an intensive period of work over a three week period. The work will be within industry (e.g., online dating and online gaming companies) and will:

  • enable students to display a comprehensive understanding of key theoretical, philosophical, and methodological issues, debates and initiatives that lie at the forefront of research in cyberpsychology
  • develop students’ understanding and skills in a range of research methods and techniques applicable to advanced scholarship in cyberpsychology
  • enable students to conduct ethically sensitive research in the area of cyberpsychology
  • enable students to apply theory and research in the field of cyberpsychology to practical contexts.

This sounds like a really interesting course.

Yo Frankie! the Open Game

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You may remember project Orange’s open movie “Elephants Dream” and project Peach’s open movie “Big Buck Bunny“, they’ve continued with a new open project Apricot. This time it isn’t a movie but a 3D game! These are all projects by the Blender Foundation and the Institute for Open 3D Projects called the Blender Institute.

Elephants Dream:

Elephants Dream is the world’s first open movie, made entirely with open source graphics software such as Blender, and with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license.

Big Buck Bunny:

As a follow-up to the successful project Orange’s “Elephants Dream”, the Blender Foundation initiated another open movie project. Again a small team (7) of the best 3D artists and developers in the Blender community have been invited to come together to work in Amsterdam from October 2007 until April 2008 on completing a short 3D animation movie. The team members will get a great studio facility and housing in Amsterdam, all travel costs reimbursed, and a fee sufficient to cover all expenses during the period.

The creative concept of “Peach” was completely different as for “Orange”. This time it is “funny and furry”!

Yo Frankie:

After Orange and Peach, Blender Institute continues with a new open project: Apricot. This time it isn’t a movie but a 3D game! Starting february 1st 2008, a small team of again the best 3D artist and developers will develop a game jointly with the on-line community. The main characters in the game are based on the short 3D animation open movie Peach

At the end of July 2008 the production ends and August is used for DVD and documentation making. Releasing the game at end of August.


Apricot Blender Game Engine Work in Progress 28/July from Campbell Barton on Vimeo.

Grab the OGG Theora file (46mb)

Wow how awesome does that look. Recently I’ve been using Blender for doing my video sequencing. Basically putting a collection of video clips in order to some syncronised audio. I wasn’t aware it was so easy to do this with Blender 😀

I’m going to buy the Essential Blender book.

Open source scripts in Second Life

I have found a couple of scripts which may be useful to educators and builders in Second Life.

The Linked Prim Animator Lite (LPAL) is a set of open source scripts which enable you to animate linked objects and attachments . LPAL is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation.

Open Babel Fish is an open source babbler, the scripts run on Google Translate and a php script that must be placed on your own web host.

Both scripts can be purchased free from SL exchange. Its really awesome to see such useful tools being released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, so that we can freely modify them to suit our needs and in doing so contribute to the project.

Informal and Lifelong Learning

In recent years, there has been a growing surge of appreciation which supports the notion that learning in non-formal and informal settings is seen as crucial for the realisation of lifelong learning.

Informal learning generally results from daily activities related to work, family life or leisure. It is not structured and usually does not lead to certification and in most cases it is unintentional on the part of the learner.

Take a look at schome.ac.uk for a good overview.

Lifelong Learning has been called a variety of names including liberal education, adult education, and continuing education and continuing professional development. It can be interpreted ideologically in different ways. On one hand lie the central tenets of personal development, inclusion, equality of opportunity in society. Seen this way informal and lifelong learning may be personally rewarding for the participants but have no direct economic benefit to wider society. Alternatively there is a more instrumental and internationalist approach that seeks to make explicit the links between learning and the economic health of the nation by focusing on outcomes such as employability and productivity and efficiency.

In the UK we have a few developing strategies and initiatives designed to encourage lifelong learning, one of which is Sure Start it is aimed at early years development.

Whilst on the subject of learning and education, a quick mention about MobilizeThis 2008 it is a yearly held, free event.

MobilizeThis 2008 provides a snapshot of a cross-sectorial range of contributions to discussion involving the practical and constructive use of ICT’s in the education and related industries.

This is a free event with limited spaces for participants no matter where you are located.

MobilizeThis 2008 is about getting connected, exploring and resolving challenges facing organisations as they seek practical means to realising social dividends with clients, creatively engaging in real learning experiences that embrace the horizons and enable others to access what we would otherwise take for granted.

I am pleased to announce that I willbe presenting at this years event, his subject matter being – User Freedom and Autonomy As They Relate To Network Communication Technologies In Education. Alex Hayes will also be presenting. The event will be held on the 22nd – 24th October 2008, check out the webpage for further details.

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