Read Write Microcast #008 – Limits of Automation by Aaron DavisAaron Davis from collect.readwriterespond.com
Confident – the connecting of the dots and capitalising on different possibilities. Essential Elements of Digital Literacies In this microcast, I reflect on automating technology and wonder if there is a limit to how far we should go. Further reading: When Automation Goes Awry https://col...

The dilemma in supporting schools in using technology: Give out fish or teach to fish. Before I came back to school I was faced with this problem more than once.

What I would say now, in hindsight, is that if you make the solution yourself it adds risk. I thoroughly enjoy making simple scripts and workflows, but these are generally fragile. You might end up with more long term support than you thought, or worse raising and dashing expectations.

In my part-time life I am still supporting Glow Blogs. Quite often it would be easier to fix something in response to a request for help. More often now I try to write instructions instead. I can add these to the help and point the next problem a those.

I need to get back to microcasting. I enjoyed listen to this on my commute. The focus on one subject in the short form podcast is valuable.

My class have been writing short descriptive passages about soldiers in the WW1 trenches.

At the weekend I planned for them to record these over a background of sound effects. I had spent some time at freesound.org and downloaded 20 or so effects and sounds. I had converted these to MP3 files, to reduce file size and placed these in a folder in OneDrive which I then shared. I have also made a list of credits for the files, all are Creative Commons.

The plan was to get the class to listen to the files in OneDrive then ‘open’ the ones they wanted to use in bossjock jr. These could then be loaded into ‘carts’ alongside the voice recordings. The pupils then played the different sounds and record that for their final mix.

To make sure everything went smoothly I got the whole class to open OneDrive and make sure they were logged in. That first step worked fine. The problem was OneDrive reported that there was not an internet connection and showed no files or folders. Since the class had logged into Glow this was obviously wrong.

I ended using most of the morning interval and lunchtime trying to see where the problem was. Strangely when I opened the iOS Files app when also allows you to see OneDrive files, I started slowly seeing files on the pupils iPads. And when I switched back to OneDrive the appeared there. To give the pupils access to the shared folder I needed to send a url. This opens OneDrive, and that told me I needed to open the browser, doing this, and signing on to Glow again (in the browser this time) eventually gave pupils iPads a view of the shared folder. Unfortunately I couldn’t get these to open and then open in bossjock in a timely fashion. It just was taking too long.

Time for a rethink.

On my iPad I had earlier made the files available off line in OneDrive. This took a while. I did manage to see the files in the Files app, from there I copied the MP3 files to the Notes app. 2 notes with about 10 files each. I quickly tested sharing these notes via Airdrop, it was pretty quick.

I suspected that airdropping notes with 10 audio attachments might be a bit slow, especially without Apple Classroom. I was wrong. In the afternoon I just dropped the notes to the pupils in groups of 4 or 5 at a time and in 10 minutes had distributed 20 audio files to all of the class. From there they could listen to the files in notes and copy the ones they liked to bossjock.

The rest of the afternoon when well, the children recorded their voices and mixed in the sound effects. For a first try the results were good. Next time I think we will record the audio live over the backgrounds that would allow us to duck the effects and make sure all of the words were clear. I think once the logistics of moving audio onto the iPads was sorted it becomes an interesting and valuable lesson. Fortunately the class missed all of the boring bits and no one asked why we had opened OneDrive earlier in the day.

lessons learned (again)

  • My home WiFi is faster than school.
  • Moving files locally is quicker than the cloud.
  • We can have a lot of fun with bossjock.
  • Notes and Airdrop are marvellous.

featured image, screenshot of sending audio from Notes to bossjock jr.

Also on:

One of the activities I get my class to do is to record themselves reading for self assessment. This is not particularly exciting or complicated but I think it is worthwhile.

We use bossjock jr a free iOS recording application 1. This allows pupils to record their reading. After they are finished they can export the recording into the Notes app and add their self assessment. This can then be air dropped to me. Using Apple Classroom means that I don’t have to accept the drop, it waits for me in Classroom until I’ve time to move then to my Notes. 2

From my point of view Notes is not the greatest app for organisation, but I can move the notes to a folder at least.

The pupils can also upload their recording to their e-Portfolios on Glow Blogs.

This is slightly trickier as they need to get the files somewhere they can be uploaded through the browser. This means a 2 step process:
1. Export the files from either bossjock or notes, via the Files app to iCloud or OneDrive 3
2. Choose the recording from Files in the file upload on blogs.

The class all have managed this fine, it might take a few goes for some of them to remember they need to export. 4

I love that you can ‘share’ media straight from Notes into the Files app.

I have also tested Drag and drop from Notes to Safari and that seems to work too, it seems easiest to drop it on the Upload Button in the WordPress media library.

I’ve not tested this with the pupils yet. Next time.

  1. Bossjock jr, and its paid for big brother bossjock studio, do a lot more than simple recording. They allow you to load up carts of sounds and make a recording mixing them together.
  2. Something has stopped classroom working on our network at school at the moment, I’ll be delighted if it can be fixed, it is a game changer for distribution and collection.
  3. It looks like OneDrive is finally a full partner with the files app, we have been using iCloud, but might switch to OneDrive if it works as well.
  4. I share a screencast with them all showing the process, but any who needed a minding of what to do just asked me.

Featured image: a screenshot of the DarkSiteFinder.com map.

I’ve been testing the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress a little. I just sent the url to this short video in the feedback form.

I am finding using the editor a little tricky on iOS. It is a lot better in portrait mode. I can see that many folk will like Gutenberg and it has some interesting features.

I really hope that the experience on iOS can get better before we get this in Glow Blogs. Just from a selfish point of view, my class use iPads to post to their e-portfolios. Having said that I alway get them to write in the Notes app first. Pasting multi-lne text in to Gutenberg seems to be handled nicely, the double/treble returns my pupil like to type gets stripped out sensibly.

Unlike Safari’s ITP, however, Chrome’s adblocker has been created in partnership with the ad industry. The feature only blocks what the company calls “intrusive ads”, such as autoplaying video and audio, popovers which block content, or interstitial ads that take up the entire screen.

No tracking, no revenue: Apple’s privacy feature costs ad companies millions

The whole article is interesting. Especially the anger from the ad companies about Apple blocking tracking.

I’ve stuck with Safari as my main browser over the years. First because it was quick, then AppleScript. I got used to the developer tools, as a non-dev they seem the simplest. Next the integration with mobile Safari. Now it looks like there is another reason.

And if I do want to use a different browser I can open pages from Safari in another browser from the develop menu.

Just over a year ago I read about the micro.blog kickstarter project, it seemed a no brainer to back. I got in early at number 51.

Since the launch (25-April-17) I’ve been using micro.blog I’ve made over 300 posts categorised as micro. It has made me think quite a bit about blogging and social media. It is certainly one of the bigger steps of this blog’s history 1.

I am beginning to feel real affection for the software/service that micro.blog is developing into. Here, in no particular order, are some reasons why:

  • The apps, for mac and iOS are so simple elegant and clean. Both are in very early version, but they are the fairly stripped down type of software I find enjoyable to use.
  • I don’t need to use the app, I can post content in all sorts of ways 2
  • The discourse on micro.blog is at a different pace than twitter, mostly more thoughtful, certainly less hypeful. I am reading things that are sometimes marginal to my interests and enjoying them.
  • The folk on micro.blog who produce the discourse.
  • If micro.blog suddenly goes away my content and conversations will not. I’ll lose the continuing discourse & software but I can go on posting my short form posts to my own blog. The posts I made and any conversation around them is still here.
  • Manton, I started listing to his timetable microcast when I signed up for the kickstarter. The pace micro.blog is developing is on one hand reasonably quickly but on the other hand it is incredibly thoughtful. He really does seem to care about principals as opposed to grabbing huge user numbers. On one podcast he describes working on the export that would allow hosted micro.blog users to leave the service. This as an early feature!
  • You can use the service for free. I pay for cross posting of my rss feed to twitter. That is $2 a month, the service is very neat, the tweets are sensible reflections of the post, but I also want to pay something to keep the service going.
  • For a variety of reasons I’ve not fully grasped I feel like I am becoming a little more thoughtful posting than I was on twitter. I’ve not stopped using twitter, but some short posts feel as if I should own them on my own blog. Not necessarily anything deep or important but owning some of these feels better.
  • Micro.blog photo blogging is weaning me away from instagram, I get a lot less engagement but I like it. I still like Instagram, but I’ve not posted in December yet, I have visited and like a pile of pictures. I wish Instagram would: 1. let me post here and then push out to Instagram, 2. see my friends posts without out algorithmic help.
  • I am learning a bit more about the indieweb and the workings of WordPress.
  • Learning and thinking about blogging, social media, both from the growing micro.blog community and by thinking my way through how I want my blog to work.

That final point is not finished by a long way. I still am puzzled about how webmentions and other indieweb technology I am using works in practise. I’ve not finalised how I want to present the different kinds of post here on the blog.

Some other posts about microbloggin

  1. These would would include: starting my own blog as part of my school’s site, joining twitter, moving to my own domain, changing from Pivotx to WordPress and micro.blog. Every part of the blog has changed except for the text of the posts, but I think of it as the same blog.
  2. I post, in no particular order, in WordPress, from TextMate, any text in any app on my mac via appleScript, from Drafts via Workflow on iOS and with the micro.blog applications.

Happy Scribe @_getscribe

We provide you with an user friendly interface to transcribe your interviews from speech to text. Proudly made in Ireland by two students.

The prices are very reasonable, £0.09 per minute. 50p minimum charge. So I though it was worth a punt, I uploaded my most recent microcast:

And in a couple of minutes I got this back:

transcript after the jump

But there is something about an informal collection of independent blogs by people with a shared passion that makes for a much better micro-community experience than social networks or other online group platforms. I’ve experienced this first-hand with a couple of blogging communities I’ve participated in: an informal network of blogs by adoptive parents and the pen and paper enthusiast blog community.

Micro.blog and Micro-Communities

I’ve had a huge amount of learning and pleasure out of both tightly bound and loose knit online communities. Doug’s post shows how of a network of Blogs owned by individuals can be better than a silo and points out the need for hashtags or other connective tissue.

Micro blogs with webmentions one part of improving the online conversation. A method or methods for discovery and group participation would be another.

I can’t recommend micro.blog enough. It has really helped me think about my online activity in many new ways. You can get involved for free and lose nothing by joining and playing.