I see a call for the banning of mobile technology in the classroom is popping up again:

Pupils could be banned from taking mobile phones and iPads into class under a major government crackdown on disruptive behaviour at school.


More than 90 per cent of teenagers have mobile phones, but a recent study by the London School of Economics claimed schools where they were banned saw test scores rise by an average of 6 per cent. There is currently no government policy about mobile phone use in England, as schools have to set restrictions themselves.

from: Mobile phones and iPads could be banned from classrooms – Telegraph

There is no doubt that in the classroom or ones personal life , mobiles can be a distraction. But this could easily be a teaching opportunity. We are all just scraping the surface of using these wee computers. Addressing attention, the social use of mobiles and the like could be an educational experience.

I am constantly being amazed at the power in my pocket. Last week I took a walk along the Kelvin to Milngavie. As I wandered along the phone records my track, analysed my speed, distance ect. I could grab notes, and take photos of interesting things.
If I’d needed to I could have made field recordings and I could have sent all this to a variety of places online for further manipulation. I’ve got a pile of data that can be analysed and shared.

[osm_map_v3 map_center=”55.907,-4.318″ zoom=”12″ width=”100%” height=”450″ file_list=”http://johnjohnston.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/10-09-2015-kelvin-walkway.gpx”]

Compared to only a few years ago this, and many other mobile applications, feel miraculous. The featured image photo, of a hoverfly (I think), is to me wonderful. Not because it is a great picture but because I can catch this amount of detail without being a photographer with the phone from my pocket.

Even this small subset of a mobiles features should surely make it worth the effort of how to minimise any negative effects of mobiles and their notifications. It is early days to be talking about bans.

Maybe advice like #tds75 You don’t need Twitter…. or #tds74 This is why I turn off notifications from The Daily Stillness (@livedtime) might be a start.

[osm_map_v3 map_center=”56.379,-4.727″ zoom=”12″ width=”100%” height=”450″ file_list=”/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/been-oss-loch-oss.gpx” marker_name=”mic_black_camera_01.png” import=”exif_m” ]

I am testing the WP-OSM-Plugin I was hoping that the map would show the photos on markers as well as the GPX track I’ve uploaded. There is an example: EXIF-Test-page | WordPress OpenStreetMap Plugin

The shortcode I am using looks ok to me and the photos are geotagged. I added a fullsized one because the thumbnails are stripped of geo-tags. So I expected the one big photo to show up at least….

[[osm_map_v3 map_center=”56.379,-4.727″ zoom=”12″ width=”100%” height=”450″ file_list=”/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/been-oss-loch-oss.gpx” import=”exif_m” marker_name=”mic_black_camera_01.png”]]




 periscope icon

 Periscope is a new video streaming service that hooks up through your Twitter account. It seems to have stolen a march over its rival Meerkat: Periscope v. Meerkat: Our Initial Re/action | Re/code

I gave periscope a quick test yesterday afternoon. In a break in the rain I headed to The Whangie for a quick walk. When I got to the Whangie itself I had I blob of 3G on my phone so without much hope I fired up periscope.

I was quite surprised that I seemed to connect and started walking and talking. I could not really see the screen due to lack of reading glasses and s rain speckled screen but I think a few people connected.
After nearly four minutes I finished. He app seemed to be trying to upload the video? Given the poor connectivity I was not surprised that it failed. The video was saved to my camera roll though.

Later reviewing the video I see that I made the mistake of assuming periscope would do landscape videos. The video look like a misty day in minecraft, I guess quality is decided by connection?


I’ve watched a few other streams and the quality has been a lot better than mine. It is quite strange watching random streams as folk try to figure out what is going on. I did see a broadcast of a ‘sporting’ event from quite nearby as swimmers in wetsuits tackled the Maryhill canal locks.

Educationally, what is this good for? Perhaps live links beamed back into classrooms from field trips or broadcasting egg incubators out to pupils at home after school.
The app is optimised for iOS 7.1 or later and iPhone 5 and up which I guess rules out my old iPhone 4 for experimenting with.
Why use it rather than other streaming apps, ease of use first and perhaps the low bandwidth requirements.

The new iOS WordPress app editor is so much better than before. I am not sure when this happened.

It is a vast improvement on the older version that I looked at before, much simpler and a reasonable WYSIWYG experience. 

The only useful feature I can think of that is missing would be an in app image resize to upload photos quicker on poor connections. 

I posted  #glowblogs improvements: mobile a few weeks ago praising the mobile browser but this is tons nicer. 

We ruled out using the mobile app for Glow reflecting security concerns from the technical team. I hope the mobile web follows some of the same design. 

This post is, of course, completely constructed in the mobile app.  

Blogging Au Plein Air,  after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Attribution License

Glew is becoming more interesting everyday. The MetaWeblogAPI is now working. This is a big deal. The MetaWebLogAPI is the code that allows you to post to a blog through a variety of software rather than through the web interface. I am writing this post on my iPad using the blogpress app. This will publish this post via the MetaWeblogAPI. I usually use textmate on my mac to write blog posts. It uses the MetaWeblogAPI too. 
Recently I’ve been asking primary pupils about how many of them own an iPod touch, often in the upper primary class it is the majority of the class.
Glow blogs never managed to have this feature enabled. A great pity. The potential for pupils blogging on the hoof is a great one. Imagine a school trip. The teacher has an iPhone, this is set to be a hotspot. Pupils are posting pictures and text while they are on the trip. iPod equipped pupils could be updating their eportfolios by grabbing photos of their artwork as it is produced. Glew blogs can now also be public on the Internet, so you can see my first Mobile test made with BlogPress on my iPhone and a Blogsy test made from an iPad.  – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

I’ve been aware of Radiowaves for a long time, it was one of the inspirations for Radio Sandaig and started me podcasting. I have not followed the development of the site with a great deal of attention but have been aware that it has been evolving in interesting ways. This is what they say about themselves:

Radiowaves is the social learning environment that provides social media for education. It enables schools to create and safely share videos, podcasts and blogs. With a free Radiowaves website you can easily start school blogging, join national campaigns and develop digital literacy skills.

Over 50,000 pupils use Radiowaves regularly to broadcast their school podcasts and videos to friends and family via the safe social network.

I’ve also met Mark Riches CEO at Radiowaves (and founding director of NUMU which looks interesting too) a few times over the years and he talked about RadioWaves on EDUtalk at BETT. At that point he told me that they were working on an iOS app and I asked him to let me know when it came out. On Friday he did. I am really impressed with this free app.

I’ve not really got my head round the Radiowaves site, its features and how teacher and pupils sites work together, but I love the app and though it worth posting some information about it.

You can get a free account at Radiowaves, this allows unlimited blogging for a school but you are limited to 30 minutes of audio and video. I created a free account to test this app. I didn’t read any of the help or explanations either in the app or online, just clicked around.


Makewaves 1

The app is called Makewaves (iTunes link) and is free. It runs on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. On the ipad it runs as an iphone sized app but can be used at 2x size to fill the screen.

I really like the look and feel of this application. Simple and straightforward.A lot of recent apps that I’ve downloaded seem to be simpler and cleaner looking, less 3d drop shadows and gradients, more space and less colour.

The app is split into 5 main sections accessed through the toolbar along the bottom:MakeWaves, Buzz, Post, My Stuff and Settings.

The MakeWaves screens shows three streams of posts from the site, primary, secondary and Things to Do. Clicking on thumbnails lets you access the content on the app.

The section I was really interested in was the Post one, but before I went there I need to visit the Settings and add my account details, this was straightforward although I didn’t notice the setting for default item which was story rather than blog. I am still not too sure of the difference between the two.

Makewaves 2

As soon as I saw the Post screen I liked it. 4 simple buttons at the top to upload media, Pictures from the camera roll, video, audio and the camera. The video button lets you choose from the camera roll or take a new video.

In seconds I had taken screenshot, used the Photo button to choose it, written a line of text and posted it.

I followed by testing the audio button, the app lets you record a sound and upload it, again a very straightforward process.

I then tested Video, and used an iPad and iPod Touch as well. All preformed beautifully.

Later on I used 3g to post a short audio file from outside. It worked a treat, uploading quickly.

An interesting feature of the app and radiowaves generally is the teacher approval. I was acting, I think, as both teacher and pupil so had to approve my own posts. The process is pretty simple on the radiowaves site and there is a in app purchase (£1.49) that lets you approve your pupils on the Buzz screen.

The My Stuff screen gives you a view of your stories and blogs, lets yuo know the ones that are still awaiting approval and the work of others in your station. You can also see if anyone liked your work.

The setting screen is straightforward, the place you can log in, easy too to log out and allow the same device to be used by more than one pupil.

I am extremely impressed with this app. It is the first one I have seen that allows posting of images, video and sound. (When I saw the posterous app I immediately put in a feature request for audio recording).

The application, when used on an iphone or ipod touch, is not built for long form blogging, but it is ideal for the much more interesting, in my opinion, mobile and group publishing of rich media. This is done in a way that minimises the technical barriers allowing users to concentrate on digital storytelling.

This could be an amazing tool for trip blogging. It should even be possible to have, say, several ipod touch out on a trip using one iphone’s tethering to allow mobile blogging by a group.

Finally having struggled and mostly failed to find a simple mobile blogging method for glow blogs it would be great to have a similar app in he new glow.


There are a horde of time lapse apps on the Apple iOS app store now. A while back I tested iMotion – Stop motion animation for iPhone and I’ve downloaded a few more.

Yesterday I noticed iTimeLapse had an update, listed in the fixes was – General crashy-ness fixed which sounded good and I decided to give it another try.

I set up my phone on the windowsill pointing at the trees and sky across the road. There is a choice of resolutions I choose 1280×960. I set the app to take a picture every 30 seconds and set it going. It seemed to be taking picture faster than that so I stopped, reset and started a few times (I even forced quit the app). Eventually I just let it do its own thing. After an hour or so it had taken 1333 images (Which the app tells me takes up 1339 mb on my phone) so I do not think that the Snap Interval is accurate/working! However the resulting video worked out fine.

On stopping the app you then have to render the video, my first attempt at one of the higher resolution settings failed, producing a block video, I tried again at a more sensible 640x 480 and this worked. The video was then watchable on my iPhone.

There are several export options, I tried the Vimeo option, which took a while but worked well and the Local WiFi Sharing.

I am a fan of a few other apps which have Local WiFi Sharing. Most apps that do this have a screen which shows an address to be typed into a browser, usually an IP address, although some support using bonjour in Safari. iTimeLapse does something different it show a link to TapShare.org with a 3 figure number. You visit TapShare on your desktop, type in the 3 figure number and that opens the local iP. TapShare is a service which offers this small utility to generate a 24 hour shortcode which can redirect to your local IP via an API which iOS developers can use. Being nosy I checked Safari and bonjour works too:

Leading to a webpage to download video:

iTimeLapse Safari

This video was 46MB in size and didn’t make it through my mail system to posterous, a quick export fromQuicktime, iphone setting, shrunk it to 9MB which upload fairly quickly: Evening Sky

Here is the Vimeo version:

I am sure this could be a useful app to use in the classroom for easily generating time lapse movies & animations.

I’ve illustrated this post with some screenshots, glued together in an animated gif, to save some screen space, please let me know if you think it is useful or annoying.


Sharing Curriculum Change through the EDUtalk Project

A bit of a mouthful, but this is the title of our Scottish Learning Festival Seminar.

David Noble and myself will be running a seminar: Sharing Curriculum Change through the EDUtalk Project to talk about Edutalk on Wednesday 22 September at 12:30

We will be explaining how the EduTalk project kicked off at the Scottish Learning festival last year with SLFtalk which recorded the voices of educators attending the Scottish Learning Festival 2009. and grew from there.

We will hopefully give practical demonstrations of how the technology works and explain the thinking behind it. It should be fun.

SLFtalk 2010

As part of EDUtalk we hope that folk will be creating short reports and thoughts about SLF on EDUtalk, in the same way as last year but using the tag edutalk on audioboo and iPadio. Participants can also email audio to post@EDUtalk.posterous.com or phone Gabcast (033 0808 0214 channel 30938 and # password 1234 and # when asked
record your audio and press # when finished)

Full details of how to send audio to EduTalk are on the How to EDUtalk page. Further help from twitter: @johnjohnston or @parslad


I’ve just organised (in a loose sense) an iPod touch pilot at Glencairn Primary School. At the North Lanarkshire ICT & Technical Services Centre we have an an ICT Box Scheme – Hi-Tech Kit on Short Term Loan and had originally got 22 iPod touches as part of the scheme. Although schools regularly borrow the other kit on the page no one had asked for the touches, so we decide to do a slightly more formal pilot and asked for classes to volunteer. We wanted a primary class with ? 20 pupils so that the children could feel some sort of ownership for the devices. We had a few volunteers and drew Glencairn out of the hat. The pilot will run from now until Summer.

Last week I spent a couple of days trying to choose some apps, and ended up with 50 odd and a pile of podcasts. Here are the apps: 3D Brain, Angle, Art Envi, Basic Math, Brain Toot Lite, Brain Tuner, Brain Tutor, Bump, CM_, ColorTalk Free,Comic Touch Lite, CountriesLE, Dictionary, Documents, EU, EuropeanCapitals, EuroTalk, FlagsWorld, Flickr, FlingFree, FlipBook Lite, Fliq Notes, French LITE, Google Earth, HistoryMaps, Hubble, iBearFlagsEU, Icon Memos, iSpy, iTalk Lite, iThesaurus, Kaloki Free, Martian, MATHO, Maths, miTables Lite, Muscle Head and Neck, NASA, Newbie Lt, Pix Remix Lt, PopMath Lite, Quick Graph, SculptMaster D FREE, SimpleDraw, Skeleton Head and Neck, Sketch Pad, Sketchmania, Slideshow, Stars, TCT Lite, TimesTables Free, touchPhysics Lite, UpThere, Whiteboard & Wikipanion. I just copied the file names from the finder and remove the file extension and version numbers so the names may not be exactly the same as the app names.

The podcasts:

The ipods all sync onto one mac and the idea is that we will not add any more apps and the children will not be able to update the ipods, they will be able to transfer images to classroom computers. I was surprised that this allows you to buy apps and add them to all of the ipods.

On Friday I visited the school and handed over the touches to the pupils. I was surprised at how many of them had touches at home, over half a dozen out of 19. We went through some stuff to introduce the children to the the basics. I used a document camera to project one touch to the class smartboard and that seemed to work fine. After we let the pupils explore the ipods and play with a couple of games we introduced some apps. We typed a sentence into the notes app and figured out how to copy and paste. Next we checked out the Calculator and Dictionaries. Then we created Martians with the Make a Martian app and use Bump to share them between phones.

The classroom has an airport base station (one of the older grey ones) and I was please at how quickly the children could exchange images using bump over wifi. I hope this can become the basis for some collaborative work, groups collecting images or screenshots annotating them with Comic Touch Lite and bumping them. eventually they may be able to use some sort of slideshow app to put the images together.

The possibilities for using the touches seem endless and we explained to the children that they were more likely to see how to use the touches to help their learning as we were.

The hour and a bit I had in the class went by far to quickly and i feel a wee bit of jealousy for Ms Moonie.

We have started a blog Glencairn iPod for the class to report their adventures and assess the devices and I’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks to explain how that will work (that is my excuse anyway).

Slftalk Screen

I’ve had a bit of time to think about David Noble and my experiment at the Scottish Learning festival. I blogged about the preparation and have been thinking about the actual event for a while.

SLFtalk was an experiment for using posterous to aggregate short audio reports from mobile devices at the Scottish Learning festival.

Over the 2 days of the festival and with a couple of late entries we had 29 posts to SLFtalk from a dozen people. There was a wide range of type of poster and content. We had fairly recently qualified classroom teachers and HMI. The content went from recording of segments of seminars through interviews to reflection. Many of the posts have had more than 400 views. Most of the hits came from the time of the festival and just after.

We had offered several routes into audio publishing and most were used:

  • 15 boos tagged slftalk using audioboo by 5 people
  • 12 files posted directly to posterous by 6 people
  • 2 recordings made on the gabcast.com channel by 2 folk

Obviously all of the the audioboos were made using an iPhone, the posts to posterous were made with several different devices; iphones, a HTC Touch Diamond and desktops.

For myself I intended to use the iPhome Voice Memos app, and just email it in. But I ran over the 2 minutes limit for mailing memos so ended up transferring the audio to my macbook, converting to mp3 (cutting down file size) and posting via email. I think I was the only person using a computer rather than a phone.

No one took us up on the offer to borrow mp4 recorders, Joe Dale did use his iRiver to chat to me at the end of the 2 days and later sent me the file to post to the site.

I think it was well worth offering multiple ways of posting, although audioboo was the most popular, if we had just used that several contributors could not join in.

Technically everything seem to work out fine, the main thing I would change is the way the gabcasts and audioboos were posted to the site. basically I just used the posterous API to send the url of the audio to posterous. This meant that the recording were not enclosed in the RSS feed. I have made a few tests and worked out a workaround, if an actual html link in sent to posterous, eg <a href="path_to_audio_file">Listen</a> and we use feedburner to provide the RSS, feedburner will produce an rss feed with all of the enclosures. The file would also play on an iphone.

From a organisational and technical point of view I really enjoyed working with David on this wee project, but the thing I enjoyed most was listening to the audio, given the background noise and less than ideal recording conditions I was surprised at how engaging they were, there is something special about listening to the human voice with all the extra information the signal carries over reading a text.

I think we may have discovered an interesting an powerful addition to our community communication toolkit and hope this concept can be taken forward and more widely used. I would be interested in hearing more from others who used or listen to the podcasts and getting ideas of how to improve the system.

Posted via email from John’s posterous