Posted on 13-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

qx5 digital microscpopeWe have recently bought a few of these QX5 digital blue microscope devices for use in our second level science labs.  They are microscopes that allow the magnifyed image to be displayed on a computer screen – and further projected onto a screen.  They also also allow video of the sample to be made.  They’re great. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 13-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

Mimio is due in the next few weeks to release a new version of its studio software. This is the software used by its popular interactive whiteboard devices. 

These devices are attached to the side of a conventional whiteboards and may be connected to a computer either wirelessly or via a USB cable.  Due to their size they are often called portable interactive whiteboards.  They generally cost about a third of the cost of a traditional ‘fixed’ interactive whiteboards; however with these devices it is not a case of ’you get what you pay for’.  My experience is that you get hardware that performs to comparable standard to the more expensive boards in every regard.  I have already posted previously on how good these types of devices are.

The studio software is used both to record whiteboard markers detected with the Mimio device and when a pen is used as a mouse on a projected computer screen.  I was disapproving of Mimio’s current studio software, and have been given a preview of the latest beta version of studio, due for release in July 08, and it is a significant advancement from the last release. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 11-06-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

This evaluation as undertaken as we are currently looking to increase the ICT capabilities in our school.  Presently we have one interactive whiteboard (IWB).  This Hitachi Cambridge starboard receives good use in Learning Support, but it is not available to the other teachers.  In an effort to get similar devices into mainstream classrooms, we have recently built some wiimote whiteboards following the instructions of Johhny Chung Lee.  These worked; but the resolution and reliability were not sufficient to allow us to use them widely in our classrooms.  We also found it difficult to find good software.  It did suggest to us that there must be a commercially available product that would suit our needs costing in between the 2500 euro IWB and the 40 euro wiimote solution.

 

The ebeam and Mimio interactive whiteboard systems may be suitable products.  These are different to the typical IWB consist of a detector – linked to a PC – that is stuck onto a conventional whiteboard and an electronic pen.  The pen can be used with a projected image of the computer screen as a mouse.  An electronic sleeve that can be detected may also be used with a normal whiteboard marker to locate and record writing on the whiteboard.

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Posted on 11-02-2008
Filed Under (Mobile technology, Technology) by gashed

This is a headline from todays Guardian newspaper.  The laptop they mention is the RM Mini-computer, this the Asus Eee PC we mentioned before, but sold as a educational tool.  They look at the price and reckon for the price of a IT suite, a whole year group can be given their own laptop.  I agree with Stephen Fry, this is the future of educational computing.

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Posted on 08-02-2008
Filed Under (teaching, Technology) by gashed

Damien wrote over on www.mulley.net about Mary Hanafin’s launching of a new Internet safety programme for kids, parents and teachers.  As often I find with this Minister, it is a good idea, but an isolated effort and it is unclear whether there is an overall philosophy or coherent plan behind it all.  At least this inititative seems to focused on helping teachers to help students understand their actions online and make good decisions.

I attended a NCTE Bebo bullying course last week; it was a fair introduction to those who had no experience of social networking and explained well the anatomy of a BeBo page.  But what was more interesting was the tremendous gulf between the teachers’ environments and the world the students communicate in. 

Technology training for teachers is a good idea, but unless it is part of an overall policy of closing the expanding gulf between the students world and the backward world of the school, it is doomed to failure.  I reckon anyway.

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Posted on 07-02-2008
Filed Under (Mobile technology, teaching, Technology) by gashed

I have just purchased one of these from ebay.ie . There are very cheap and handy.  They are capable of recording 30 minutes of video (1GB version) and couldn’t be easier to use.  You point and press the big red button!  Each time you stop and restart a new clip is formed.  It has a x2 digital zoom if you wish to get closer.  It is exceptionally light and about the size of a pocket camera.

prod_flip_video_lg.jpg

The best thing about this is how easy it is to download to your PC – there is a pop out USB connection that acts as a memory stick with video clips on it.  There is software bundled with it, but I’ve never used it.  The clip can be played through media player on a PC or brought into movie maker.

Very handy in the classroom for taking videos of experiments, kids presentations or for the kids to go out there and record the world.

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Posted on 04-02-2008
Filed Under (Mobile technology, teaching, Technology) by gashed

I have bought an Asus Eee PC; it’s an ultra portable laptop computer and it is mind boggingly brilliant.  The screen is only 7″ wide (a version with 10″ is to be released soon), so it is tiny.  It is robust and quiet as there are no spinning parts, it has no CD drive and a solid state hard disk memory.  They ship with Linux but you can get XP installed; both work great.  In Ireland they are available from www.expansys.ie for about 345 euro.  You can get more variety and cheaper options on www.ebay.ie

It is easy to imagine that every kid will have one of these in their bag soon.  They pop into class and crank up their ultra laptop (boots in seconds) and update their blog, work on a wiki, check their RSS feeds, open the class moodle course etc.  These laptops are perfect size and functionality to allow easy integration into the classroom and if the costs continue to fall it won’t take long.

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Posted on 04-02-2008
Filed Under (Technology) by gashed

The wiimote whiteboard is an idea from Johnny Chung Lee in Carnegie Mellon University.  He has created a number of ingenious projects using the wiimote controller from the Nintendo Wii games console, the most educationally relevant one is probably the wiimote whiteboard.

The wiimote contains an infrared camera, so can detect and recognise the position of an infrared LED in its field of view.  Johnny Lee has written software and devised a method that an infrared LED can be used as a mouse pointer.  This has the potential to turn any surface with a projected screen image into an interactive whiteboard.

This is Johnny’s orginal demonstration on Youtube.  There is now a project homepage on www.wiimoteproject.com

Some tips:  I could not get the program to work under Vista.  To work accurately the wiimote camera has to see the reflected infrared light off the surface.  For a large white board the wiimote has to be a distance back and therefore the LED should be as intense as you can find; power dissipation >100mW.  Some people have used multiple LEDs, this is probably unnessary but max out the LED as you have to make it as bright as possible.  Positioning the wiimote is interesting.  Straight in front gives greatest resolution, but it has the be further away from the board to cover it all than if it is placed to the side.  I have found that on top of the data projector is about the right distance away – it may needed to be tilted upwards.  This has the added advantage that you can power the wiimote off one of the ports on the back of the projector.  The resolution of the system is lower than that of a commerical traditional type interactive board, but wiimotes are spectacularly cheaper.  Good luck.

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