What is Windows 11? Do I need to pay attention?

What is Windows 11? Do I need to pay attention?

Windows 11 is here. But what does that mean?
For those who want all the details ARS Technica have put together a pretty comprehensive (and long) review. If your school or Uni is planning to make the leap it’s probably worth reading about the interface and app changes

If you’re wondering about your home computer here is my TLDR version.

The Upside

  • It’s currently free
  • It looks a bit better
  • It functions a bit better
  • It’s a bit more secure

The Downside

Basically, it’s an improvement but it won’t change your life. If you get a new computer you’ll get Win 11, but otherwise I’d suggest waiting a bit to see how the roll-out goes. It looks like the free upgrade will be available for 12 months, so you’ve got until October 2022 to decide.

What if my system is not eligible?

If you have an older ineligible system, Windows 10 support continues until October 2025. If your system is running well you’re probably better off sticking with it for 4 years, rather than upgrading your hardware.
Of course a killer app might appear in the meantime that makes upgrading or purchasing a new system more attractive.

After 2025:

  • You can keep using your Win 10 computer without security upgrades (not recommended for a computer connected to the internet)
  • Consider dropping your PC off at a computer recycler
  • The tech adventurous might consider extending it’s life by installing Linux.

Online Learning Systems Approach

One of the traps when developing courses which include digital resources is the lack of a team approach. Traditionally the lecturer / teacher manages the whole process – lecture, handout, class activity. This gets a bit shaky when you start layering in elements that require more specialised skills. As the project gets bigger or if it goes online, the teacher may find themselves in the role of “content expert” with more of “their” decisions being made by learning/instructional designers, and the process managed by a project manager. In my experience, the lack of planning around team roles and responsibilities is were most projects fall over.

With that in mind, this short article from the Online Learning Consortium about the systems approach used in online Master of Engineering Technical Management at Texas A&M University is worth a read.

Making accessible education podcasts

Making accessible education podcasts

The pandemic has seen the birth of thousands of new podcasts of varying quality. As teachers, it’s tempting to join in but we need to be a bit more careful than the average punter. If you’re planning to deliver a podcast in an education setting, or your podcast is a key part of your teaching, you are bound by the Australian Disability Discrimination act. Basically you need to make your recording as clean and clear as possible, and provide a text transcript.

There are 2 main ways to do produce a transcript. First, write out a text version before the podcast, either a script or a detailed summary, or second, transcribe the podcast after. The advantage of a script or summary is it keeps your recording tight and on track, and you can always update it after if anything pops up during recording. Transcribing after can be a bit more laborious as you may need to listen and re-listen to the recording to get the key points.

Interviews are probably the biggest challenge as most of the content is unscripted. In this case it’s worth looking at an audio to text tool. There are paid and free programs plus a number of smartphone apps. None are foolproof and all the produced transcripts will need tweaking. TechRadar provide a good summary in Best speech-to-text software in 2021: Free, paid and online voice recognition apps and services.

If your recording is nice and clean that will help a lot. Have a look at Izotropes 10 Tips for a Great Sounding Podcast

Wired provides a good summary of general tips . How to Make Podcasts Better for People With Hearing Loss

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. “


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.