Weekend funny – 40 ‘Why The Hell Do You Know That’ Facts That People Probably Shouldn’t Have Shared But Did Anyway

The heading says it all. This is collection of fun facts on Bored Panda from a question someone posted on a Reddit page. A little something to brush up on before your next dinner with friends.

Here is number 9

“The distance a squirrel would need to fall in order to die is 4,800 miles. This is because squirrels cannot die from a terminal velocity fall; they would have to fall far enough to die from starvation.”

See the whole 40 here

EdTech Business – Blackboard gets bigger.

I generally don’t worry too much about business side of EdTech but I thought this was interesting. Blackboard have been a behemoth in the LMS market. According to Campus Technology

“Anthology and Blackboard have announced a merger, pairing the former’s enterprise software for enrollment management, student engagement, alumni fundraising and institutional effectiveness with the latter’s learning management software, communication tools and student success solutions.”

This is probably not a big surprise, Blackboard has been losing market share to Canvas and Moodle over the past 10 years. Providing a bundle of institutional services (perhaps under a different name) makes some sense. The lack of integrated Higher Ed systems has certainly been an annoyance of mine. For me, the worry is the new entity will be owned by private equity firms (as Blackboard is currently) which can mean minimum product/service for maximum profit. I may be on my own here, but my experience with Blackboard support services over the past few years in Australia (up to 2018) hasn’t been great. Hopefully the new structure will address this.

TikTok for older educators

TikTok for older educators

Yes, I know TiKTok has been around for a few years but it has reached a tipping point where older educators (e.g. in Higher Education) probably need to pay it some attention.

“The bite-sized video site TikTok is gaining on Google’s video juggernaut, YouTube. A new report from the BBC says that TikTok has overtaken YouTube in average watch time per user in the US and UK. While YouTube is still the bigger video site in terms of users and total video watched, the average US TikTok user watches more video than the average US YouTube viewer. “

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/09/tiktok-passes-youtube-in-the-us-for-average-watch-time/

TikTok is a place to share 15 – 60 second videos. The platform is designed to show you videos you like and fewer of those you don’t. Videos are typically highly visual (faked visual tricks, dancing, pranks, teens acting dangerously). It’s usually a bit mindless.

Is it good for teaching?

As with many new shiny things that have come before it some educators have jumped in with both feet to deliver short easily digestible tips . But, it comes with the same sort of organisational issues and liabilities as Facebook and YouTube (e.g. privacy, intellectual property rights, online bullying, student access to unfiltered content, pushing students onto a commercial third party platform etc). It also has the same issue as previous social media platforms – this is a place people go to play, not to hear from their teachers.

Most of the education examples can be easily replicated on whatever LMS /Messaging/email/storage platform your organisation uses. Organisations wanting to go down this path might be better looking at something like FlipGrid

Like all social media, how long TiKTok remains the place to be for kids is up for debate. Marketers are already diving in to make a buck. Older Influencers are also on the march which means parents are getting on board (which is the traditional death knell for kids).

A reasonable place to start is with Oprah’s guide for beginners (2019) What in the World Is TikTok? A Beginner’s Guide to the Fast-Growing Social Media App.

Make Use Of outlines the concerns in 4 Ways TikTok Is Dangerous to Personal Privacy and Security

Weekend funny – 2021 Ig Noble Awards

Weekend funny – 2021 Ig Noble Awards

It’s my favourite time of year. A time that gives all researchers hope that, just maybe, someone will fund your ill considered project.

For those new to the Ig Nobles, it’s basically a list of the most batshit crazy research done each year.

Officially “The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”

The ceremony was held on 9 September but you can watch the recording.

Here’s a little sample

Can Sex Improve Nasal Function? — An Exploration of the Link Between Sex and Nasal Function,” 

“Discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.
Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,”

“Chemically analyzing the air inside movie theaters, to test whether the odors produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and bad language in the movie the audience is watching.
Proof of Concept Study: Testing Human Volatile Organic Compounds as Tools for Age Classification of Films,” 

Have look at the full list and peruse some of the past winners.

Keeping up with copyright

If you’re doing any teaching online you need be aware of the copyright rules.

If you work in education in Australia the best place to go is the SmartCopying site. It’s been set up by the National Copyright Unit which provides the guidelines for Australian Schools and TAFE. It’s pretty safe to say it applies to universities too.

As a teacher you should be covered by a Statutory Education Licence which gives you a fair bit of protection and flexibility around copying images and resources and using them within your organisation. But if you’re in a Private college or RTO it would be worth checking the list on the site to see if you’re licenced.

It has a section on Creative Commons licencing which is probably the safest place to go for free images. CC is not foolproof. People can add a CC licence to images they don’t own, and there have been cases of people harvesting free CC images and selling them to commercial platforms, who have in turn sent cease and desist letters to legitimate users.

If you’re not sure about an image check it with TinEye.

If you’re commercial operator creating resources or delivering online courses then the Statutory Education Licence rules don’t apply. You need to follow the commercial guidelines – which basically means use your own images or pay for someone else’s. I see quite a few people who transition from schools to the commercial sector get tripped up by this.
For free images Creative Commons is the safest place to go, but always check the licence tags. Quite a lot are tagged “not for commercial use”.

How safe is your online teaching? Might be time to brush up on your cyber security.

With COVID we’re all now online to varying degrees. We have jumped (or been pushed) into trying new and unfamiliar things, many of which are now fairly routine parts of our lives. It’s a time when many of us feel safer and more comfortable with the technology. We’re happy clicking on whatever is put in front of us.

This time is a bonanza for people looking to make a quick dishonest buck.

Our organisations can protect us from many of the threats but there are also many ways we can let dodgy operators into our stuff. It’s probably a good time to revisit our security practices.

This article from Future Learn, Common cyber security threats and how to deal with them is a good place to start.

Warning for people with excellent battery management (Google wont let you sign in if you’re using a device with a  10 year old version of Android).

Warning for people with excellent battery management (Google wont let you sign in if you’re using a device with a 10 year old version of Android).

If you still have a device running Android 2.3.7 (the final version of Gingerbread) or older, Google won’t let you sign in to your Google account on that device starting September 27th

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/1/22605009/google-android-older-versions-2-3-7-account-sign-log-in-gmail-youtube-maps

So for those of you who have nursed your Blackberry or Galaxy 4 through the past 10 years and are users of Google docs and Drive you are going to find your device a little bit less useful. Actually the one issue you may have is the loss of Google photos and having to manually get your pics off the device.

Pearson have gone a bit “Netflix” with a subscription service

Pearson, the largest publisher of college textbooks in the US, has announced Pearson Plus, a new subscription service for digital textbooks. The Pearson Plus app, available in both mobile and desktop form, will be available on US college campuses this fall and is expected to roll out globally in the future.

There are two subscription tiers. Enrolled students can pay $9.99 per month to access one textbook at a time or $14.99 per month for access to the company’s full library (a selection of over 1,500 e-books). The app provides various other study aids as well, including flashcards, annotations, and customizable fonts.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/2/22606423/pearson-plus-college-textbook-subscription-service-app-launch

I’m not even sure if this is news as most uni bookstores have had a digital rental schemes going for a few years and the real value of this scheme doesn’t really kick in unless you have multiple lecturers using Pearson texts, but it’s probably better than killing trees for products that are commercially redundant every 2 years.

The whole digital text book thing has been a bugbear of mine for a while. I still don’t know why more Australian unis aren’t using Open Education resources. Seriously, do your student’s a favour and go to https://www.oercommons.org/ to see all the free texts and resources.

Lesson plans for teachers using Ed Tech

Lesson plans for teachers using Ed Tech

I spotted this article on Tech and Learning. It covers plans for 4 different teaching tech applications used in Primary and mid Secondary School, but if you’re teaching at any level, using any application I recommend you have a read. Just ignore the specific app related information and look at the implementation strategies. It covers things like providing pre-lesson support resources, worked problems and demonstration of learning through student creation. https://www.techlearning.com/how-to/top-edtech-lesson-plans

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