Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Sport through Technology

A quick search on the Internet shows that the use of game consoles in physical education classes is becoming popular in various countries. Many times it is reported that the Wii game console and others like Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move are used to bring inactive students into ‘virtual PE’. In a programme which will be held at St Ignatius boys secondary, Wii Sport will be used to introduce various sports to students. Other games may be also be used in class such as Wii Dance or Wii Fit. A Wii console is already available in each Maltese college. The following are articles showing how sports may be practiced through game consoles;

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Sony reveal next-generation PlayStation Portable

During the “PlayStation Meeting 2011″ which was held earlier today in Japan, Sony have unveiled their new, upcoming portable device (which as you can see in the photo below looks very similar to the PlayStation Portable), which will be temporarily known as NGP (Next-Generation Portable).

Next Generation Portable

Next Generation Portable

Slotted for a Christmas 2011 release, this little ‘monster’ boasts some very high-end specifications, including:

- ARM Cortex A9 4-Core CPU
- SGX543MP4+
- 5 inch 16:9 touchscreen with OLED technology
- Rear touch pad
- Rear and front cameras
- In built microphone
- Built-in 3G + WiFi + Bluetooth
- Built-in GPS
- Software will come on a special type of flash memory
- Can produce graphics which are on par with those on the PlayStation 3
- Price: Not yet available

It seems that Sony have not cut any corners for this new system, not just as regards the processor and the GPU used, but also for the fact that they are pushing social gaming through the in-built 3G and WiFi connections. The built-in GPS combined with the fact that the NGP is always online (via 3G/WiFi) should provide opportunities for interesting programs and not just entertainment applications.

On a finishing note, considering what this machine has crammed into it, one cannot expect this device to be cheap, and I would be surprised if the retail price is anywhere lower than the €500 mark. On the other hand, the new, soon to be released Nintendo 3DS costs €270 – one wonders if the ‘raw power’ and wide range of features that come with the Next Generation Portable will be enough to win Sony a substantial market share.

Robotics in the classroom

lego-nxt

Using a robot in the classroom may sound too sci-fi. The truth is that these are being increasingly found in education. In Malta, robotics has been introduced in computing where students choosing this option subject will be using this tool as an aid for their form 3 studies. NXT Mindstorms kits are already available in all government secondary schools and more will be introduced this scholastic year. In form 3, students will be working on a practical task. Students need to see that they use a number of sensors from those available. Such sensors will serve as input and output devices which will help in the completion of the selected task.

Robots allow some autonomy of action based on their programming. Studies show that students engaged with robotics develop logical and programming skills. In mathematics, such a robotics kit allows students to do this through the computer screen instead of on paper. A physical robot is found to be much more engaging as through the use of such a tangible learning tool, students are working hands-on, thus being  engaged and stimulated.

For further information about robotics and help on how this tool may be used in lessons contact me; Keith Aquilina (elearning support teacher) email: keith.a.aquilina@gov.mt or office tel: 29582144

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Social bookmarking

A social bookmarking site allows the user to store lists of Internet resources that they may find useful. This might sound similar to the Favourites/Bookmarks available through your web browser. The difference is that such lists may be available through any Internet connected PC. Also these lists may be set as accessible either to the public or to a specific group, and other people with similar interests can view the links by category, tags, or even randomly. Some allow for privacy on a per-bookmark basis.

There are a number of ways in which social bookmarking can be useful in teaching and learning. Educational usage examples include;

  • Student groups can set up a network to share resources they find over a period of working on a joint project.
  • Teachers can share their bookmarks with students
  • Individual students can share their resources with their class mates.

Two social bookmarking tools which have been gaining popularity in recent years are Diigo and Delicious.

SymbalooEDU – simplify your weblinks

Some of the obstacles that keep educators back from giving a web search task to their students may be:

Time management

Unless guided, students may find it hard to search and find links relevant to the assignment. Searching on Google gives a LOT of results but only a few may be helpful.

Whitelist

Some of the searches may result in links which are not on the Schoolnet whitelist, in which case students will get the “category: none” error, stopping them from viewing the desired website.

Internet safety

It is very important for teachers to ensure that their students are protected when using the internet, especially when a guardian is not with them while browsing at home.

SymbalooEDU is a free service which educators can use to easily create (and share) links and categories, called ‘webmix’. Once registered, a teacher creates links/categories in a number of blocks (see screenshot below).

SymbalooEDU webmix: displayed as a series of clickable blocks

SymbalooEDU webmix: displayed as a series of clickable blocks

These blocks may be direct links to other websites, or a link to a category such as a subject, for example – ‘Geography’, which would then take the user to a link with a list of relevant websites, or even, sub-categories. This will ensure that students have a number of websites available to search from so time is not lost – and this is done in a internet-safe way while ensuring that all links will work. With SymbalooEDU, educators can also share their links between them – for example subject co-coordinators can create a webmix and then make it available to subject teachers to use in their class.

Summing up, SymbalooEDU is a very valid free online tool, straightforward to use and gives immediate benefits.