It was only a matter of time before some clever festival organiser or other decided to pay homage to that great-grandaddy of internet memes and subcultures: The Cat Video.
Dog online popularity may be on the rise, but we all know who still ranks #1 in the digital animal stakes. Our Feline Masters. So festival founder James Elphick and crew will be putting on a night to remember on 25 November at the Coronet in London, including a series of cat-themed activities such as a cat gymnasium, cat meme gallery, feline cabaret and more.
“Join us for huge party celebrating the greatest cat videos that our furry overlords have to offer,” the festival’s website states. “A massive night of bangin caterwauling mewsic, cat-ivities and fierce feline performers! Lets make hisstory!”
15% of money raised will be donated to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
As tempting as it may be, Elphick recommends you leave actual pets at home.
“As much as we would love to have cats at the event, a venue with hundreds of people, bright flashing lights, loud music and dazzling projections is the last place that our furry friends should find themselves on a Friday night,” he said.
Balancing students’ exposure to technology in the classroom with considerations for safety, equal access and appropriateness is key to successful digital boosts to learning. Another essential but often ill-considered aspect of the mix is what parents want and expect for their children and the importance of introducing new methods of teaching with their full support.
The first step is communicating clearly what digital tools can offer over traditional teaching methods, and being able to counter concerns parents may have over safety. Once parents are on board with the many benefits, suggesting how they can support their children further on this front will help your digital efforts considerably.
Digital technologies are an essential part of learning today. Students are using them to connect with each other, to learn new skills and pursue their interests further than has ever been possible. In particular, learning can increasingly happen anywhere at anytime, not just in the classroom, and students can connect with others outside their school and even country! Access to a huge range of new resources as well as experts not available locally can make learning a far freer and richer experience and literally open whole new worlds to hungry young minds.
To support the digital direction classrooms are moving in, onboard parents can offer essential encouragement and practical help in a number of ways. First, when parents buy their children smartphones or tablets, its worth checking with the school what their BYOD (bring your own device) policies are and how well new devices will fit in with exist digital infrastructure. It’s often the school’s responsibility to provide device access to students without their own. Home internet access can help with homework and self-directed learning, but some schools also offer ‘after-hours’ online access for families who don’t have internet at home.
Finally, safety is the subject many parents express deepest misgivings about, and fortunately, they can play a leading role in ensuring their children are not exposed to the worst the internet has to offer. Solid advice for parents is to be involved, find out what your child is doing online, both at school and home, and have honest discussions about digital safety. NSPCC Online Safety [https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/] is a great place to start, as they promote confident, safe and responsible use of online technologies.
Understanding parents’ hopes and doubts about digital technologies in our classrooms and syncing your own efforts and communication with those will provide the biggest boost to your digital classroom initiatives, with your students reaping all the benefits from new learning practices and possibilities.
Does the thought that your students are a leap ahead of you digitally worry you? Do the mysteries of their Snapchatting and Tweeting baffle and fill you with concern that you’re missing out on the conversation?… and also missing out on a whole new host of eLearning software to aid and enhance your teaching?
In the next 3 minutes we hope to assure you that there’s no better time to start than now. That access to teaching apps and understanding their potential can help boast your teaching, re-engage your students and save you time. Finally, its worth mentioning why digital literacy for teachers and parents is an effective contribution to keeping children safely online generally.
Training teachers to become digitally literate is something Helen Mathieson,CEO of a multi-academy trust in Wiltshire believes in strongly, insisting that all teaching professionals need to have “high-level skills in digital literacy”. “Every aspect of teaching and learning is embedded in the ability to use technology to enhance understanding and broaden horizons,” she says, adding, “Any teacher who is not digitally literate would suffer by comparison in terms of the reactions, responses and engagement of the students.”
Sadie Philips, a newly qualified Inner London school teacher suggests: “Twenty-first century literacy has evolved, with a broader range of devices such as smart phones and tablets that give way to different forms of expression and levels of interaction. A digitally literate teacher will possess a range of skills to navigate this connected world and have knowledge of the basic principles of computing devices and networks, as well as cyber security and looking after your digital footprint.”
If you have a smartphone, you already have all the hardware you’ll need to dive in with education apps for teachers and trainers. One of the major benefits of the smartphone revolution has been that all the computing power we need for 80% of our requirements is already in our pockets, which has transformed how we interact online and is transforming learning as well.
Here are some tips to help you engage and start today, even if they are your first digital steps, these will get you going..
1. create digital spring boards and talking points out of simple-to-use tools like Powerpoint or Keynote – embedding video is always a good way to engage students as well.
2. Being conscious of your own digital footprint and leading by example, by not being scared of social media, and introducing its potential in the classroom when appropriate.
3. Follow key people on Twitter, and like their Facebook pages as well. This can include well known filmmakers, actors, and educators – each will invite you to an up to the minute discussion on your subjects!
4. Check out the teaching apps and increasingly the mVLE (mobile virtual learning environment) options [link to Teachers landing page] available for you and your students, to share and track the engagement with everything your course requires.
5. Search for online communities interested in your subject, try especially to look outside the UK, the most interesting ideas can come from all corners of the globe.
6. Start your own elearning page and use it, either on the school block or within a VLE document.
The social network phenomenon Snapchat so beloved to Millennials and younger, is taking a bold leap into face-mounted video capturing hardware, an area Google forayed into with their Glass project announced in 2012 but then canned in 2015 (but watch this space for its return!).
Not-quite-originally named ‘Spectacles’ from Snap Inc (Snapchat’s parent company) will mimic one of Glass’s functions with its unitary purpose of capturing 10 seconds of video from the wearer’s perspective (with a 115˚ lens for a more human, rather than camera-like perspective) and immediately transferring it to the App on the wearer’s smartphone and onto the Snapchat platform.
This is an interesting development because it so closely ties the hardware and software together to create a new experience and way of sharing for its users. One of Snapchat’s key features: digitally self-destructing posts, may well work in ‘Spectacles’ favour as it dampens privacy concerns which hounded and probably killed the first iteration of Glass.
‘Spectacles’ will probably offer great novelty to its users… let’s see if the £100 digital filmmaking goggles catch on and create a whole new category of face-mounted digital gems!
A great exercise for getting students to think all about time in film, how it’s compressed and manipulated with endless possibilities offered by the medium. Time lapse, jump cuts, ellipses, and even slo-mo are all examples of the possibilities film students can experiment with for this exercise that challenges every student to tell the story of their typical day.
- Show this film [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TKZRc2Cn00] as inspiration, ask your group to think about: How many different shot types and styles are used? How does the film make the best use of these types? Which are your favourite shots?
- Challenge the students to make their own version of this film, giving them 2-3 weeks to complete the exercise.
- Make a proposed freehand shotlist of the events to capture from a typical day.
- Over the course of 2-3 days, take a few minutes at a time to work through and capturing this list, paying particular attention to framing, camera stability and also economy of takes.
- Compile the shots into a 1 minute simple narrative story of the day.
Because of the films’ strict brevity, the entire group should have time to present each of their films in a group session, and discussions can be prompted about editing choices, production difficulties and narrative structure.
With Teresa May’s government making moves this week to turn back the clock on comprehensive secondary education with the return of Grammar Schools, the ensuing controversy has been revealing as to where the new government really sits on social equality. The reintroduction of a tiered system means the pressure to prove oneself aged 11, and feel the consequences for the rest of one’s life. This is in stark contrast to not only the equal education strived towards by all policies the UK has been moving towards since Grammar schools started to fall from favour 50 years ago, but also contradicts the Prime Minister’s own assurances that her government would be for ALL the British people.
If re-introducing policies that are like to do exactly the opposite of stated aims of reducing inequality in society is the PM’s way of governing for ALL the country’s people, the outcome of a minority of winners continuing to reap most of the rewards of modern society, while the rest fall further behind will be the wholly predictable outcome of this change. The question is, how effectively will a down-beaten post-Brexit progressive voice be able to muster in opposition to this elitist turning back of the clock?
Quickclass stands for the level playing field that a truly equitable education system should provide, and is striving to create learning tools that allow the brightest as well as the not so bright YET to all learn at their own pace and to a level that is ideally challenging for each individual.
The fact that we’re more closely watched, listened to, tracked, and read than we’ve ever been in history has snuck up on us and we’ve embraced it gratefully. But at what cost? The methods and purposes of data collection expand without pause, with no limit in sight. And whilst you might argue that Facebook and Google ‘pay us’ for our data with their services, behind these overtly public and bullishly data-gathering platforms is a whole army of behind the scenes data appropriation agencies – hoovering up and tying together unprecedentedly accurate profiles of everyone online.
That’s you and me, and the details that we don’t know are known about us are mind boggling. This exploding realm of data gathering and analysis is so far most interested in helping companies market to us with uncanny accuracy. If you ever think ‘what a coincidence that this news site is marketing shoes to me after I ordered a pair online last week… ‘ That is NO co-incidence. Behind the scenes, Mountains of YOUR data are being analysed by algorithms as never before, and conclusions are being drawn about YOU, increasingly in ways that we are less and less able to understand, let alone control.
The trouble with all this data sharing is: the degree of privacy each of us now forfeits every time we take our phones out of our pockets is generally underestimated and misunderstood. All this free stuff and information is great until that day when we find we can’t get a mortgage for no apparent reason, that a prospective employer mentions an embarrassing holiday photo from 10 years ago, or you’re held in airport security for an interview because of a funny comment you made on a blog post last week.
Its up to each of us to become aware of and take back control of our personal data, or suffer the perils of every moment of our imperfect lives potentially coming back to haunt us. The best methods for minimising our digital footprints are: use private browsing mode in your browser of choice, use data-tunnelling VPN software when using public Wifi networks, and consider the benefits of sometimes paying for a product, because when you’re not paying, your data and you ARE the product.
Nearing ubiquity, smartphone adoption is rapidly reaching saturation in many countries as the allure of these supercomputers in our pockets grows too strong for even the most determined Luddite to resist. The world finds itself with over 2 billion smartphone users this year.
At the same time, even mighty Apple’s rate of innovation seems to slow as successive generations of smartphones grow unimaginably powerful but with fewer and fewer genuinely ‘new’ features each year. (in fact they’re now taking features away!)
What smartphones actually mean is mobile internet use, which has rocketed in line with handset numbers. Following in the wake of this technical revolution has been a explosion of new possibilities of what we can access, manage and learn from our pockets. This last activity in particular is an area where educators are waking up and pressing ahead with adopting tools and changes to work practises which is transforming learning.
With 67% of organisations now offering mobile learning in some form, and 37% providing touch screen devices of some sort for learning and development, the rate of adoption and therefore transformation of how, where and when learning happens is lightning paced. Educators in businesses and schools are realising the digital wonders in students pockets are perfect accompaniments and enablers to: flipped classrooms, learning on the go, individualised courses and learning rates, and microlearning. Cloud-based teacher-created content now has the perfect conduit to be published through – with ALL the other knowledge needed for courses.
mLearning encapsulates all the best signs and chances that learning will evolve to become more flexible and tailored than is currently imaginable. As a result, we will ALL benefit as we grow collectively smarter.
With the new academic year starting in schools, and all the excitement and anticipation that brings, its a great moment to plan creatively how to hit the ground running with your students.
One great exercise that is sure to break the ice, get your classes back into the swing of just being there again, and also capitalise on the excitement that they’re coming in fresh from holidays is the Summer Summary. Assign each student the task of creating a 60-second film which best captures what their summer was like. They can use films they shot on their smartphones, photos of where they went and even their ‘song of the summer’. Upload all the resulting films to a platform the whole class can celebrate and share with family and friends.
Returning to school will be far less dramatic if it can become an immediate celebration of time off, while also getting students back into the mindset of learning by doing in groups in class again!
The press frenzy surrounding this year’s flagship update of the most valuable product range from the world’s most valuable company marks another milestone in putting to rest an outdated technology.
Namely, headphone cables.
The beloved 3.5mm jack has powered the headphones of our pocket music devices since Sony launched the Walkman in 1979. Countless trillions of hours of music and talk have pumped through these little jacks into humanity’s collective listening capacity, ever since.
In shutting this headphone socket, in making it instead another 3.5mm of smooth aluminium, the design gurus from Apple are marking the close of another era… and like the 8-Track, VHS, and floppy disk before it, the headphone jack is something we’ll smile at when we find a tangled old pair of earbuds in a box in a decade… “My ears used to be WIRED, imagine!”
For film students on the other hand, the disappearance of another cable to get tangled in on set? There’ll be no nostalgia there….