Junk Monkeys!

January 25, 2008

I love this Flash based interactive learning game from The British Heart Foundation. Although it’s obviously aimed at kids (there’s McFly and Sugarbabes references) it’s great fun and makes use of some innovative and creative interactions to get the message of healthy eating across. Actually, it’s not just junk food that the BHF are getting at – they are also pointing out that marketing and advertising campaigns aimed at children are equally nasty.

The site makes use of some excellent graphics and the latest trend in high-end Flash sites: 3D fly-bys. ‘Sick Rick’s’ videos are also good fun (he’s a bit scary).

There seems to have been a shift in online learning sites like this – it’s not just learning disguised in a game, it’s a complete interactive adventure where you can choose your own character and decision path.

Here’s another good example.

Sick Rick

Bob Geldof at BETT

January 25, 2008

While visiting BETT 2008 the other week – the world’s largest educational technology event –  I spotted Bob Geldof amongst the crowd. It was no suprise to see him at this kind of event – in November he was speaking at the AOC conference in Birmingham (Association of Colleges) and presented the Student of the Year award. At BETT he was lending his support to the charity Missing People who have formed a partnership with Groupcall. Groupcall is a Messenger service that ‘allows schools to simultaneously send voice or text messages to the landlines or mobile phones of parents, staff or other contacts in any language for a low monthly subscription fee.’

I found the actual BETT exhibition a bit overwhelming. There’s just so many people and so much going on that after a while your eyes hurt. It’s just one interactive whiteboard demo after another. Typically, everyone flocked to the BBC stand where I joined the tustle and found myself the owner of the hallowed free give-a-way BBC mug.

Bob Geldof at BETT

Dr Who Comic Maker

January 21, 2008

I love this fab Dr Who comic maker from the BBC. It’s a Flash based tool that allows you to create your own Dr Who comic book style story using a library of layouts, characters, backgrounds and speech bubbles; you can then upload your story to a gallery to share with other Dr Who fans. It all looks very slick and the illustration is really nice.

It reminds me of my friend Dave Waller’s Collaborative Comic Project where people create their own episode and storyline for an ongoing, online comic book adventure. I did episode 13 – check it out.


Apple and the new MacBook Air laptop

January 20, 2008

Apple unveiled its latest innovation in its computer technology the other day – the ultra-thin MacBook Air, ‘the world’s thinnest notebook’. It’s only 0.16 to 0.76 inches thick (US imperial measurements naturally) and made of ‘aloo-minum’, whatever that is.

At first I was “Yeah, big deal” – technology is naturally reducing in size all the time and what really are the benefits of shaving off millimeters from the thickness of a laptop. But after reading up on the the spec and watching the simple, no-nonsense videos on the Apple site, I realised that the improved features were not purely cosmetic. For example, there’s the crisp LED screen, the multi-touch trackpad and a system that is 100% wireless. Great stuff.

Admittedly, I am not a Mac user nor an Apple fanatic so I’m just trusting the informative info on the website. There has been some criticism though – mainly the fragile nature of the thin LED screen and lack of optical drive. Ho hum.

But what I find all a bit creepy about Apple is their ‘oh so simple’ approach in the way they promote their products. Take for example, the MacBook Air videos – there’s just the laptop and a hansome, smartly dressed, well groomed Mr Nice Guy (note wedding ring) talking softly and soothingly to us. He’d be great at bedtime stories.

But it’s all a bit too ‘perfect lifestyle’. What about showing us how the laptop performs after being lugged around in the bottom of a rucksack with a squashed banana after a sweaty 1 hour commute across London on a wet Monday morning.

MacBook Air

Nintendo Wii to train surgeons

January 18, 2008

There was an interesting news article recently about how playing on a Nintendo Wii could help improve surgeon skills. As worrying (and far-fetched) as this article may be, it is becoming increasingly known that Wii can improve and aid learning (in one way or another).

Our College recently invested in two consoles that will hopefully be used with Supported Learner students (special needs) to help with eye-hand co-ordination, team work, problem solving and achievement.

I have also heard that Wii’s can provide similar help with the elderly, particularly in keeping them fit, active and motivated.

Nintendo Wii

Yet another Facebook critic

January 14, 2008

Tom Hodgkinson must be 98 years old. His recent article critising Facebook uses the same old tired comments and complaints and even throws in some CIA/Facebook conspiracy theories for good measure.

There’s nothing wrong with Facebook or any other social networking site as long as you’re not spending hours using it during work time and uploading your bank details and home address for all and sundry to see.

He moans on about how ‘A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image.’

People have been sitting at home staring at a screen and not communicating with each other for years. It’s called Television. And at Christmas 13.9 million of us tuned in to watch the gloomiest program currently broadcasted: Eastenders (which I actually find entertaining).

At least you’re communicating using Facebook and hey, who knows, maybe you will actually meet up with that long lost friend you found using the system and go for a drink down the pub.

You know Hodgkinson has lost his way in a wired world when he concludes with, ‘Why would I want to waste my time on Facebook when I still haven’t read Keats’ Endymion? And when there are seeds to be sown in my own back yard?’.

Pompous git.