Tag Archive | multimedia

Holidays – Getting away (from//with) it all?



My recent trip back from London on Saturday got me thinking wistfully about Holidays (side note since buying my flat I haven’t had any time off that hasn’t been filled with DIY).

Join me as I travel back to my youth, to a time of orange squash and honey sandwiches.

Its summertime, schools out and its time for a holiday!

So in we all cram into my folks car:

  • My brother and I in the back seats,
  • Parents up  front,
  • Mum with the map,
  • Dad with a steely determination to get to the destination as quickly as possible (and screw the traffic laws)
  • Air conditioning was the realm of premium saloons like the S Class etc, so windows open and pray that we don’t get stuck in traffic!

But what entertainment to keep a six and an 8 year old quiet on the journey?

We had few options, stare out the window, read a book, be sick after reading a book or kicking the back seats.

Later on we had access to a Nintendo Gameboy and  an Atari Lynx but the battery of either wasn’t impressive (or in the case of the Lynx horrific, 8 AA batteries drained in under half an hour!!)

Compare that to today’s car journey of today:

  • Individual climate control for front and back passengers
  • In built Sat nav that detects speed cameras
  • And such entertainment (Dvd players, full blown games consoles)

But more importantly we literally have the world on a stick with wireless Internet, with 3g we can update our friends of our progress, play games and keep up to date of everything.

We progress in this swirling mass of 2.4ghz signals constantly pervading our social space, keeping us awake and aware of everything at all times.

I love technology and having the world available to me is very useful but:

If we’re constantly connected, with a permanent on-line presence can we ever say we  really got away from it all?

Is our family’s holiday on the beach lessened as people can tag our photos with their own experiences, thus rendering our holiday a collective experience rather than personal.

Of course other people have climbed that hill, swam that lake, found that cove but that experience is ours and ours alone but until it his the Internet those memories are ours and no one Elses

How much access is too much? Is there a limit to collaboration? Will there be a time when it is no longer possible to get away from it all?

I like the fact that we have the ability to switch off, but in the not too distant future I don’t think we’ll be able to escape the maelstrom that is pervasive technology and with that a small part of ourselves may be lost with it.

Perpetual motion

E-Learning for me does not just mean developing applications and websites, no it also means creating a system or dare I use that cliched word solutions to allow teachers to get more out of a session than what they put in.

Over the last year or so I together with Impact have been developing a system that will enable our catering staff to record teaching & training sessions.

First a little information, we’ve got two kitchens on site Ora & Skills; Ora is a kitchen where students cook lunch and dinner for staff and members of the public, Skills is a demonstration kitchen where students learn new techniques. Each kitchen has two PTZ (pan tilt zoom) cameras, three ip56 rated televisions, a touch panel and a control lanyard each. The system is quick to boot up, easy to log in and simple to use to ensure that there is minimum disruption to any session. Once the Chef has logged on he can use the lanyard to command the entire system from anywhere in the kitchens, without having to interact with the touch panel. As soon as the videos are recorded they are transferred to our servers and (pending approval) are viewable by all staff and students. So we’ve created a system that records chefs, this in itself is nothing new, we’ve had the ability to use video cameras in class for years; where’s the benefit to the learners and most of all the teachers?

Lets say we have 20 students in the kitchens watching the chef joint a chicken. The chef proceeds to joint the chicken, students watch and then try it themselves, prior to this system that’s where the lesson stops. What happens if a student has a question, or wants to see it again? The chef has to grab another chicken. Not so with our new system, the chef can instantly play back the recording on any number of screens around the kitchen, enabling them to both demonstrate and instruct which better serves the students needs.

More importantly, what happens if the student has a question outside of the kitchen, or outside of College hours? In combination with our VLE our students can access all the videos from home, bookmark relevant sections and review training sessions whenever or whereever they like.

So we’ve seen how it can benefit students, but how can it help teachers get more out of sessions then they put in?

Over time, Teachers can record training videos of sessions & techniques to create a bank of personalised learning resources that they can access in and out of the kitchens to enhance course content and delivery. We’ve given them the ownership over their own content, no longer do they have to search through youtube videos from tv shows for the 10 second clip required. The chefs can simply navigate to the content they themselves have created and students can see their peers using the same techniques instead of random people from the internet, students are more likely to be engaged with content if its relevant to them and teaching staff work better with students who are engaged with the content.

By creating and using these personalised resources in class, the lecturer can literally be in two places at once, as they can be onscreen demonstrating techniques whilst being able to walk round the kitchens and supervise students replication of the demonstrated technique and support/guide students where necessary instead of just being stuck at the front of the class.

With this system staff can get more in than they get out (and its a lot faster than human cloning).

An improv demonstration of the kitchen recording system