Software

ZuiTube – Watch, Laugh, Learn, and Share

ZuiTube is a safe place for young people to search, watch, tag and share videos they like.
ZuiTube
ZuiTube is powered by YouTube and has over 60000 parent and teacher approved videos. New videos are added everyday.

Google Maps, London and Cholera in 1854

This is a great use of Google Maps and Earth to show overlays of historical maps in different places and different times. Visit London and see John Snow’s Cholera map of 1854.
Cholera London 1854
Built on the idea that every past is a place, HyperCities is a digital research and educational platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of city and global spaces. Developed though collaboration between UCLA and USC, the fundamental idea behind HyperCities is that all stories take place somewhere and sometime; they become meaningful when they interact and intersect with other stories. Using Google Maps and Google Earth, HyperCities essentially allows users to go back in time to create and explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment.

The London Underground Live

I’m enjoying a little look around the web to see what people have been up to with Google Maps. This real-time view of the London Underground rocks – and could be very useful too!?

London Underground Live

Matthew Somerville, Frances Berriman, James Aylett, and Tim Diggins have worked a bit of maths magic with the live departure data from the TfL API to give us this tool.

http://traintimes.org.uk/map/tube/

Clever use of Google Maps and Street View

This is a very cool example of how Google Maps, Street View and Directions can be combined…

Create your own TripGeo at http://www.tripgeo.org

UK Government seeks a common infrastructure built on open standards

The UK Government’s Cabinet Office has announced a strategy to deliver real financial savings and efficiency gains through the agile implementation of an ICT infrastructure that will enable the reuse and sharing of our ICT assets.

In a move that is believed to reduce the high level of risk associated with large scale ICT projects, the infrastrtucture will build upon the successes of smaller projects that have transformed services through the use of common and open standards.  By encouraging and in some cases mandating the use of open standards, joining-up all of these pockets of smaller projects to form a supportive, comfortable and long lasting king size infrastructure mattress will be simpler.

Some key points to note:

The Government will push ahead with its agenda for data centre, network, software and asset consolidation and the shift towards cloud computing.

The standardised cloud platform will also allow developers, especially SMEs, to generate innovative solutions.

A common infrastructure based on open standards will allow for greater flexibility of policies and services delivered at lower cost and within a shorter timeframe.

The use of common standards can make ICT solutions fully interoperable to allow for reuse, sharing and scalability across organisational boundaries into local delivery chains.

The adoption of compulsory open standards will help government to avoid lengthy vendor lock-in, allowing the transfer of services or suppliers without excessive transition costs, loss of data or significant functionality.

Modern, knowledge-based service delivery underpinned by effective information architecture and open standards will support government to build more transparent, trusted and efficient information exchange processes.

Read more at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/content/government-ict-strategy

SIF Association UK Video

A great video release that clearly explains what the Systems Interoperability Framework is, how it works and what benefits can be achieved.

Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech 2011 Wordled!

Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech 2011

Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech 2011

How much ICT infrastructure does a school really need to manage?

Let’s just start with servers…

A quick tally of the number and types of servers a typical secondary school might have sitting in a dedicated, no doubt air-conditioned, room resulted in this visual…

School Server Infrastructure Today

School Server Infrastructure Today

And a few of the disadvantages of this approach might be:

  • Some poor soul has to keep all of these running and somehow manage stay an up to date expert across a wide-ranging set of server services.
  • Each server is most likely running 24/7/365 at an average of around 200 watts – roughly £2.5k per annum in electricity bills alone and that’s quite a smelly carbon footprint to boot.

Provider: Scottish Power (Tariff: Premier Plus online, London)
Rate: 11.252 pence per kilowatt/hour
Rate last checked: 10th Sept 2009

And that’s without going down the whole maintenance and replacement, licensing and support costs. Nor factoring in stuff like resilience and security…

What if today looked something like this..?

School Infrastructure Today?

School Infrastructure Today?

A few of the advantages might be:

  • High availability resulting in high teacher confidence in the ‘invisible’ ICT.
  • Much lower total cost of ownership – subscription based access to services that you need and when you need them.
  • Flexible – add new and remove unwanted services with ease.
  • More space – no more dedicated server room.
  • Sweeter smelling carbon footprint.
  • Access from anywhere and at any time 🙂

Yeah right… But how do people login to the network?

They don’t. Ideally they single sign-on (online) into the services that they have privileges to access. Look at how you can link-up your accounts on many of the popular web based apps like Google, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and so on and on and on… In education terms this would most likely look like using the UK Access Management Federation and Shibboleth for single sign-on.

But the web isn’t advanced enough yet to support all of the teaching, learning and management tools, apps and services that we need!

Sure it is! Just check out my Delicious bookmarks for a sample… Also check out Johannes Ahrenfelt’s blog for even more ideas!

Okay… But how on earth do I keep all of these disparate apps updated with the relevant info about students and staff?

How do you right now? A combination of many different and often bespoke or proprietary methods methinks? The Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) is a promising option for education services. Get involved!

Yeah but what if our connection to the internet goes down?

Get some resilience. A fail-over connection maybe? Let’s face it, with all of those servers a potential weak point, the chances are that your internet connection is far more reliable than you might think!

What do you really think? Some good debate around this is very welcome 🙂

PS Would we still need a proxy server if, as is likely, most of the web traffic is encrypted across Secure Socket Layer (SSL) (port 443 / https)?

Google Apps integrated learning platform!

Well I guess that it was only a matter of time… But fresh into the Google Marketplace is Grockit…

In brief Grockit is a social platform for learning that provides students with collaborative real-time study rooms. There is content but this is aligned to US K-12 curriculum and college entrance exams.

Students with Google Apps can sign on to Grockit through their Google account to instantly join live online study groups with Grockit’s global community of students and expert instructors. Students’ Google Calendars will be synced with their Grockit study session schedule. Additionally, important documents will be automatically downloaded into their Google Docs.

There is an offer of free access until the end of 2010 but after this expect to see prices per user ramp up to a most likely unaffordable $99 per account :-S

It will be very interesting to see how this platform develops and whether or not there is an effort to get into the UK market…

Social media in schools

The following video from Teachers.TV provides a well-rounded overview of the risks and benefits of using social media within schools.

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” – Eric Schmidt