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Sep 1

Professor Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine

Came across this series of videos featuring Professor Feynman thinking aloud. It’s like a physics jamming session!

The best BTEC Gradebook is live

The best BTEC Gradebook is live

BTEC Gradebook - Progress Monitor

I’m really pleased to announce the arrival of the best gradebook for BTEC you have ever seen!

BTEC Gradebook - Progress Monitor

Track student progress like never before with intelligent summaries of portfolio progress, insightful graphs covering all aspects of individual and group progress, real time teacher collaboration and time-saving group management tools.

Each class has its own gradebook and one management spreadsheet can…

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IT department put the boot into teacher productivity

IT department put the boot into teacher productivity

Odd decision by the IT department this year to deliberately provide staff with lower spec PCs than students.
Spec for teachers’ computers:

  • Core i5
  • 8 GB RAM

Spec for students’ computers:

  • Core i7
  • 16 GB RAM

We did a speed comparison between them when opening PowerPoint.  Whilst the i5 was still thinking about opening it, the i7 had it open already!

The decision to give lower spec PCs to staff was a…

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Interview with John Hattie

What he views as most important in education. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dmxwl

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Is online backup better than local backup? Why or why not?

Answer by Dan Wilson:

It may depend on what type of data you are backing up.  If you want to backup a full system you will probably need to spend a lot of money for enough storage space.  But for documents, photos etc you may find a good deal on cost, or even for free.

There are various online solutions available for backup (e.g. Dropbox, Box, Drive), the primary reason that I like them is that the backup is instantaneous and it is dead easy to restore your files to a new system if you have a hardware problem because the files are stored in a ready to use format.

In addition to those benefits you can also access your documents etc on multiple devices easily and even access version histories on some platforms (e.g. Box.com).

The main downside to an online backup system is likely to be security.  Personally I am happy with strong passwords and two factor verification wherever available.  On this note my favourite online storage system for sensitive data is http://Tresorit.com (if you like the sound of it here is a referral link - Get Tresorit - so we can get bonus storage!).
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Jun 9

Oh how I love Google Sheets!

I have pretty much finished building a fully functioning and incredibly informative Gradebook for BTEC Applied Science.  The level of collaboration that Sheets offer is incredible, meaning next year our grade tracking will be unparalleled.

Not only have I been able to add in standard grade setting and analysis features but I have been able to create another sheet that hooks into it which functions as a management console.  So teachers and tutors will have great features at their fingertips for grading and monitoring their students.  But also managers will have an easier job altering data for the cohort on the fly and even transferring a student’s results from one class to another.

Soon I plan to figure out how to make this accessible to students themselves so they can track their own progress more robustly too.

This was simply out of reach until I made this transition to Google Sheets.

Jun 3

Some more new iOS 8 features!

I don’t often get excited by Keynotes but yesterday was genuinely exciting. The summary of yesterday is that you iPhone and iPad become extensions of your Mac and vice versa. Yosemite and iOS 8 bring astonishing inter-device integration and it looks fantastic.

Some of iOS 8’s new features not mentioned in the Keynote (they were shown as text on the main iOS 8 slide):

1. Battery usage by app - name and shame CPU hogging apps. 

2. Travel time notifications - parity with OSX Calendar. 

3. Camera timer - just need a tripod now!

4. Tips app. 

5. In case of emergency card. 

6. Auto night mode for iBooks. 

7. Rich text editing in Notes - probably not going to convert me from Evernote, but good nonetheless!

8. Place cards in other apps - that might have been demoed with iMessages, not sure but sounds good. 

9. Separate focus and exposure in Camera - better quality photos here we come. 

10. Wi-Fi calling - this probably means the ability to make a phone call from your Mac, which was demoed. Still, an astonishing feature!!

11. Panoramic photos in iPad. 

Jun 3

WWDC 2014

iOS and OSX get awesome together. Two exciting releases but especially because they are so intuitively integrated. This is what Apple does best. Can’t wait for Continuity.

Jun 1

Facebook messaging

Facebook is about to remove messaging and force iPhone users to use a separate app with 1⭐️ reviews in the AppStore. Genius!

The point of FB messaging from my point of view is the convenience of messaging people on Facebook. But apparently you can’t even set up a chat with a FB contact in the app.

The most significant error that FB have made here is thinking that people will put up with even more precious memory being taken up by a second app. I want more to happen in fewer apps, this move is completely wrong.

I will happily text/iMessage/Whatsapp or even email people instead.

WWDC - Apple

What we NEED is Airdrop between OSX and iOS!