Showing posts from 2013

Does anyone know the answer?

When teaching it is always good practice to check if your students have understood what you've taught them, but doing this isn't always easy. You've got the generic "do you all understand?" which is typically replied to with a less than reassuring moan. You've go the "Who can tell me what x=?" which is usually replied to by the same one or two people who always answer your quest but doesn't tell you if the whole class has understood or not. The other option typically employed is the "Hands up if you think x=1, x=2 etc.?" replied to by some of the class not not usually all and you typically find that the behave like sheep following the masses.

Over the last few weeks I've been trying out a few newer methods of getting instant feedback from students.  These are:

TurningPoint Voting handsetsGoogle FormsSocrative TurningPoint These kits have been in use at Keele for a while and mostly work very well.  They work with software which you c…

How to protect your data when destroying paper based copies

Recently I have been sorting out my files and getting rid of financial statements older than 3 years.  This has resulted in a lot of paper needing to be disposed of in a safe manner.Usually I would shred the paper, but as my shredder broke a few years ago when I was carrying out a similar exercise, I had to come up with another way of securely destroying my documents.
Rapid Exothermic Oxidation (REO) This is my novel method which is very simple and cheap to do.  It allows you to handle large amounts of paper quickly and can guarantee 100% destruction of your personal data.  Not only can it be used for paper based media but also for optical based media too.
All you need to use this method is a heat proof container (a metal dustbin or BBQ will do) and a heat source.  Place your data into the container and apply the heat source. Stand well back as the oxidation occurs.
Here you can see the chemical reaction in progress. Once complete you will be left with the following which, once cool, can s…

Something's missing in Google Apps

Google have updated their appearance recently to make things more streamlined.  As with most things google they seem to have done this without warning -  well none I saw and I'm always looking.

So what has changed? Do you remember that black bar at the top of each page in google?
Well it's gone!
Google have replaced it with the squares button on the right of the window:
You can select this button to show you all of the apps available to you plus MarketPlace apps too.  It works in exactly the same way as your black bar but doesn't take up those precious few pixel at the top of every screen.

R.I.P. black bar.

Creating a Calendar Icon

"What a great idea, use a date / calendar icon for our events on the website so as to make the date stand out."
What seemed like a great idea at the time has turned out to be a big learning curve and a lesson I thought was worth sharing.

So firstly what is it I was trying to create?  Well here is day 1:
Simple right?  Wrong!  Once this one was created I had then to create 365 other images (yes 366 in total - leap years!) and do this one by one.  I would also have to repeat as we wanted three different colours - that's a total 1098 images.
At this realisation I almost gave up, but thankfully I remembered something about running scripts in Adobe Photoshop.

After a lot of digging around I found a life saving guide from Alan Gilbertson that guided me through the process of using a data set a variables to output the 366 images I needed and then I just changed the colour and repeated.

This guide is available at:

With this you can s…

"I don't know how to use this techie stuff"

This phrase is thrown at me on a daily basis, but since finding this notice I can remind people that the hight of technology once was turning on a light with a switch, and they can do that.

YouTube videos and Blackboard

I thought I would start out with a video I quickly recorded the other day for helping staff embed videos from YouTube in Blackboard. But I seem to have gone into more depth.

Background I use YouTube to host all of my videos and Blackboard to deliver teaching and teaching resources to students.  I also place videos on web pages for collated support for larger groups of people.   The reason I use YouTube is two fold. Firstly it's free. We have access to Google apps for education and after registering a UK mobile number (to prove you're not a robot I guess) you can upload longer videos (last time I looked it was a 24hour or 24Gb limit). Secondly it is accessible from most devices and it encodes to multiple formats allowing poor connections to still access the videos.
If you were to look at my YouTube channel you would see I only have a few videos. This is because most of what I film / produce / host for others is of either a sensitive nature or shows skills techniques that we woul…

In the beginning...

First I should say that I am making no promise to regularly post. I hope to use this blog as a record of ideas and projects I'm working on. There may be a lot of information on software and applications like PebblePad, Blackboard, Adobe Products, Microsoft Office, Mac OS & iOS, and all things Google.
I'm an e-Learning Fellow at Keele University in the UK. I will try to make my post real net to a wider audience but sometime bespoke solutions must be used.
I welcome all comments and feedback both positive and the other type.
So here goes....
Me filming equipment for a narrated presentation. (Great use of an equipment trolly as a boom operator ;-))