Nov 25

Australian broadbandWhen Federal Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Minister, Helen Coonan, presented the 2006 Andrew Olle Media Lecture there was no mention of the need to equip the digital natives in Australian schools with the high speed broadband facilities available to other students elesewhere in Asia and western world. This month Rupert Murdoch labelled labelled broadband services in Australia a “disgrace”. Interestingly Senator Coonan pointed out:

Digital immigrants are, on the whole, outpaced by the hoards of digital natives who do not see technology as technology but as an appendage. It’s not technology to the teens – it’s routine, it’s run-of-the-mill, it’s life.

They don’t marvel about how their mobile or their computer has made their life easier or more convenient – they can barely remember a time when these essentials did not exist.

The Pew Internet Project in the US found that the average 21 year old has, in all probability, spent 5000 hours playing video games, exchanged around 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and phone text messages, and has spent 10,000 hours on a mobile phone and 3500 hours online.

Waiting for educational content to download Australian students will be spending a lot more hours online than their American cohorts for a while yet. Apparently we are not complaining though. If you’d like to listen to the Federal Communications Minister trying to grapple with the speed at which the media landscape is changing, ABC Sydney has made this years 2006 Andrew Olle Lecture available as an mp3 here.

This is The Future

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Oct 05

New software called Levelator may solve the tricky fluctuating audio level issue many teachers with limited equipment face. It automatically adjusts the audio levels within a podcast to account for variations in level between speakers. Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler’s application window, and a few moments later you’ll find a new version which just sounds better. The application is available for Windows and OS X - it’s free (for non-commercial use). From the website:

Have you ever recorded an interview in which you and your guest ended up at different volumes? How about a panel discussion where some people were close to microphones and others were not? These are the problems the post-production engineers of Team ITC solve every day, and it used to sometimes take them hours of painstaking work with expensive and complex tools like SoundTrack Pro, Audacity, Sound Forge or Audition to solve them. Now it takes mere seconds. Seriously. The Levelator is unlike any other audio tool you’ve ever seen, heard or used. It’s magic. And it’s free.

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Sep 05

Photo Story 3

Microsoft’s free Photo Story 3 is a useful tool for teachers and students alike purely based on it’s efficient use of resources in a quick and easy (enough) manner. Photo Story 3 allows you to create slideshows using your digital photos. With a single click, you can touch-up, crop, or rotate pictures. Some special effects, soundtracks, and your own voice narration to your photo stories. Then, personalize them with titles and captions.

I read an article today on the Times Educational Supplement blog regarding and these are some of the ways they suggest Photo Story 3 can be used in an educational setting:

-present new vocabulary using individual objects or by miming actions
-to practice dialogue work such as buying different items in a shop or asking for directions
-to give a description of your daily routine or local area for example
-to design a comic strip
-to make a record of a trip
-to put together a multimedia resource for your partner school
-to design a comic strip
-to make a record of a trip
-to put together a multimedia resource for your partner school

There is a well composed online tutorial including video clips and teacher notes on how to use Photo Story 3 for Windows at this website Assignment: Photo-movie.

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Aug 06

The stars are amazingly clear up here in Paraburdoo and the Space Shuttle flight that was visible earlier last year captured the students interest in the night sky. In fact we blew our monthly download limit in two days with many classes watching Yahoo’s live broadcast from the shuttle.Stellarium Maybe this is old news to you, but I suggest anyone teaching Science add the free Stellarium to their teaching toolbelt, especially for the Earth and Beyond outcome. Being able to see a live depiction of the sky above from any geographical location certainly has a wow factor (but the pièce de résistance is the ability to turn off the atmosphere on a sunny day to see the space behind has instant education factor). Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It is quite impressive, so much so I’ve included it on our labs disk image for this year. Displayed with a projector it’s almost like having a planetarium in the classroom. The fact that it’s open source and cross-platform is just bonza. Stellarium - try it out, but if you want a bit of a preview you can check out the screenshots. Just amazing.

From the project FAQ:

Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL, which means the skies will look exactly like what you see with your eyes, binoculars, or a small telescope. Stellarium is very simple to use, which is one of its biggest advantages: it can easily be used by beginners.

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