14. November 2011 · Comments Off on India bridging the digital divide · Categories: mobile technologies · Tags: ,
Random shops street in Rajasthan, India by Rachel Dale CC by sa
Random shops street in Rajasthan, India by Rachel Dale CC by sa
In a world where the gap between the haves and have nots is ever-widening, the issue of the digital divide looms large.

People who live in areas where learning resources, quality teachers and support groups are in short supply are severely at a disadvantage.

In India , where 75% of the population live on less than $2 per day, owning an iPad or even a reasonably powered Android tablet would be out of the realm of possibility.

However, a team at the Indian Institute of Technology took up a challenge from the Human Resources Ministry to develop an Internet-enabled, wireless tablet that a poor family could actually afford. And last month – it happened.

The Indian government sees being connected to the internet and having access to technology as a vital strategy in helping people overcome poverty and transform their lives.

So let’s stop having discussions around IF e-learning and tech are useful in Australia, let’s stop complaining about the cost of future-proofing our network (vs. trying to build a short term solution on old copper technology that will be obsolete again shortly) — and let’s take a page out of India’s play book and close the digital divide for our citizens by putting their needs first and getting affordable technology into the hands of more of our learners.

Read the full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-last-person.html
Dear Teachers

GWhiz Mobile Learning Assessment, Wesley Fryer, CC (by) (nc)

When you are putting together an online course, and you sayW3C accessibility guidelines are too hard to follow, what you’re really saying is it isn’t about your students, it’s about YOU. W3C accessibility guidelines are not just about making the web accessible for people with screen readers: they are also about ensuring the web will be available on as many different devices as possible: http://www.w3.org/Mobile/
  • You cannot justify using fixed width tables for layout at a time where it is becoming evident learners are more likely to be accessing the web via a device other than a desktop.
  • You cannot justify using one huge image because it looks cool on a page even though it might be impossible to see the detail in it on small devices.
  • You cannot justify using flash with no alternatives for devices that cannot render it.
When you as a tech innovator say you are after what is easiest for teachers, you are taking students out of the spotlight.
  • It’s a mindset that results in online courses that consist of PDFs and quizzes – cuz THAT is EASY for teachers.
  • It’s a mindset that results in images being pirated and used incorrectly without proper attributions or permissions.
  • It’s a mindset that results in educators publicly asking for software to rip YouTube videos and getting help from others to do so.
Being an effective e-learning designer isn’t easy. But it can be streamlined. Your first course could be one that teaches how to create interoperable, cross-platform, mobile, accessible courses that could be easily shared. Now THAT would be empowering for your colleagues AND your students.    
25. April 2011 · Comments Off on Creating ringtones for iPhone from a PC · Categories: Issues, mobile technologies, Technologies
iPhone RingtonesI have a new iPhone 4- a different OS from my previous mobile phone. I’ve loaded on new content and apps and now want some custom ringtones. Rather than purchase ringtones derived from my favourite songs, I decided to make my own. I decided I was going to share the process here on my blog in case, like me, you were an iPhone user with a PC and thus didn’t have Garage Band (which apparently does this easily for you). But then I became concerned as to whether or not creating ringtones from legally purchased music was illegal. I’m not going to sell or share the resulting ringtone. I’m using it solely for my own use.

Legal or not?

I could not find any Australian sites with information on this, so I sought out information relating to the precedent-setting Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). While being vague about it, the RIAA is quoted (according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site) as saying that burning a copy of copyrighted music “won’t usually raise concerns so long as the copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own and the copy is just for your personal use.” This would seem to suggest what I’ve done is okay. However, by grabbing just a portion of the song to use as the ring tone, I’ve made a derivative work. True, it’s a derivative work made from legally purchased music and the derivative is solely for my own use — but is it legal? According to a 2007 engadget article written by copyright attorney Nilay Patel, thanks to the RIAA seeking a decision from the copyright office, ring tones are NOT considered derivative works. Therefore, I am merely transferring legally purchased music from one device to another, which the RIAA says ‘won’t usually raise concerns’. So, taking this into consideration, I feel comfortable in sharing how to create a derivative from a legally purchased file. It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable in doing so. If you find anything that says it is illegal, please leave a comment. I’ve also read that music you purchase from the iTunes store has DRM info that prevents you from creating your own ringtones. I used the below steps with a legally purchased CD.

How to create ringtones for iPhone from a PC

  1. rip your CD
  2. download the very latest BETA version of Audacity (at this writing, 1.3.13) from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
  3. download  the ffmpeg for Audacity file from the Audacity manual wiki web site (note, full ffmpeg from ffmpeg.org did NOT work)
  4. install both Audacity and ffmpeg
  5. open Audacity, go to libraries, browse computer to where you have ffmpeg for Audacity, find the .dll file you need (described on Audacity wiki)
  6. load in your song and edit it
  7. export file as a .m4a AAC file
  8. right click and change file extension to .m4r
  9. import file into iTunes library
  10. connect iPhone, drag file to ringtones folder of iPhone
Save as M4A
10. June 2008 · Comments Off on Want a free mobi site? · Categories: mobile technologies, My personal learning journey, Web sites
Every 15 seconds another mobile account is added to the more than 3 billion existing ones according to an April 2008 press release from the GSM Association. So when I saw a web site promising me the ability to create a mobile compatible web site in minutes just after lunch today — I thought I’d check it out. I signed up for mobisitegalore.com and was really impressed by the user interface. They were a bit short on specs and measurements however — when I got to the step where I had to upload my logo, I had NO idea what size to choose and had to use a FireFox tool to get the size of their example. You can import a feed from your existing blog — so you don’t have to worry about having ANOTHER blog to update, you can feed your headlines straight into the mobile version. Other options include payment systems, a feedback/contact form that was easy as pie to implement, an HTML editor, choice of HTML, ASP or PHP pages, ability to customise templates and the ability to get free hosting and a domain name or use one of your own. I thought their free domain name a bit long — http://myname.websiteforever.mobi. At least, it is to thumb it into my phone the first time — though with my keyboard, that’s no longer a problem for me. I published it there and it worked a treat. I then published to my own server, and no go. An hour and a half of investigation later, I discovered the problem. When using their publisher, folder permissions on our Apache server were set to something different for the home page (776) than the rest of the pages (644). Re-setting this fixed the problem. Still, if I were after a quickie site for say — a conference for geeks, a learning activity for students involving the use of mobile phones or an event personal or professional – this tool would be handy and people could live with the longish address. Especially people under 35 or so. ; ) I host the site myself on kerryj.mobi — let me know what you think!
Sharing an event with people who cannot attend and making that experience as rich as possible can often involve risk. I took a few risks yesterday and ventured into uncharted waters in trying to bring the Digital Education Revolution Symposium’s Adelaide leg to a remote audience and have since slapped my forehead over things I could have done.

If you don’t have a nuts and bolts interest in this sort of thing – you may want to mosey over to my work blog to read the executive summary.

Apologies I can’t provide a direct link, I’m writing this post first and if I go back to re-edit, it will stream twice.

If you’re still reading, you want nuts and bolts. Put on your not so hard hat and dive in…

My original brief was to oversee the audio recording of the day in the main room. This would allow us to share parts of the event after the fact.

As a blogger, Twitterer and Flickr fanatic, I also thought I could add value by doing some live text and photo blogging if we could wangle an internet connection. We could and we did.

A few days before the conference, Carole McCulloch, one of my co-volunteer facilitators of the 2008 Networks Community Forum, had mentioned a new live blogging tool from a site called coveritlive.com

I checked it out, saw that news outlets (risk-averse enterprises that they are) used this tool to cover sports and political rallies, and had a play. I liked the interface and the structure of sending short bursts of consciousness (like Twitter) rather than having to construct a polished blog post in a break between sessions.

I’d also had a play with streaming video live via my mobile phone using qik.com and as a Twitter follower of people who regularly use the tool, I thought I’d throw that into the mix as well.

So – the weekend before, I researched and put together my kit. I did a “hardware hack” on a case for my Nokia N95 so that I could mount it on a tripod. I bought extenders for the Nokia so that I could use an external mic with it in the event my colleagues wanted to conduct interviews.

The night before, I gathered together the new, the practical and even some “old school” elements. I set up and tested the code for the coveritlive tool and went through the site tutorials. I cleared out all the SD Ram cards for my phone and field recorder, charged my batteries, gathered cables together and grabbed my little four-wheeled foldable grocery cart.

My final kit consisted of:

  • My Nokia N95 with charger, USB cable, extra battery, 2 GB SD mini ram in, 1 GB SD mini ram and adapter to spare, outer shell with modifications for tripod mount.
  • Table top tripod with max height of 64 cm (taller than a seated adult when put on a table)
  • Video camera (sadly, a last minute addition with only 40 minutes of blank tape)
  • Still camera with 2 GB SD ram and spare batteries
  • Laptop – primed to work with mobile phone as a modem in event internet connection unavailable or went down
  • 4-plug power board in case AV staff had none to spare
  • Extra, extra long network cable
  • Edirol field recorder with cables to take feed from the sound desk
  • 6 GB worth of USB flash drives for back up

My order of importance was:

Audio. It’s what I was there for. Everything else could and might go wrong – the audio would be most helpful to people who couldn’t attend.

Live blogging. I’d try the new tool out – but if it seemed clunky and didn’t work, I’d revert to more traditional blogging.

Flickr photos. Flickr is quick and easy. Photos add another layer of richness to a live blog. Provided it didn’t distract from what I had to do, it was easy to add this into the mix.

Video streaming via qik. I had no idea how this would work. This was a bonus, not a do or die because I didn’t want to rely on something that had too many factors that were out of my control.

Traditional video. I knew Mark Pesce http://blog.futurestreetconsulting.com/ had the best position for his camera and was planning to edit his together with his slides. I wanted some from another angle to use in later mashing up.

How it all went

Live video streaming via mobile using qik.com went south early and often. A combination of elements such as the 3 connection flicking in and out and the camera going on standby mode were the initial culprits. I rebooted the phone and then it seemed to be a case of the stream being too slow to keep up — the video backed up until the phone memory couldn’t handle streaming it out. I’ve seen qik.com work with longer streams so I don’t blame the service. It could also have been a software or hardware conflict issue.

Still, we made the effort and it’s early days with this tool. It’s only going to get better. For now, it’s a nice to have and I’d use it for 3 minute live interviews, not long-form presentation streaming.

We had a lot of interest and did manage a couple of good sized chunks:

A note for other Symbian S60 phone http://www.symbian.com/phones/index.html users – I noticed that you cannot switch directly from qik.com to using the Flickr tool to upload stills. The phone needed a re-boot for the Flickr application to work.

Audio. Sounds good so far – I’ll be editing it today, adding introductions and end caps and getting it online. However, I’m now kicking myself that we didn’t think to stream it into a live conference software tool like a Live Classroom session in edna’s Sandpit Groups http://sandpit.edna.edu.au/ area or a Skype call http://skype.com

Krystal, our sound tech, recorded to DVD and to VHS tape as a back up. I also took a feed out from the board to an Edirol R-9 field recorder (now superseded with a newer model) . I had brought cables but Krystal thoughtfully set one up (we’d called in advance to arrange this).

I never got around to using the mic and connectors with my phone to capture audio or to conduct interviews – but it was nice to know I could have.

I wish I’d remembered to buy a double-ended male mini cable to feed out from the Edirol to our iRiver MP3 player/recorder. That would have allowed me to bleed off audio throughout the day and to do some down and dirty editing in the lunch break.

Live blogging. Coveritlive.com worked really well and was much more flexible than using a blog on its own. As a former journalist, I’m good at picking up concepts quickly, summarising and I have a reasonably fast typing speed (although spellos did creep in).

Therefore, I knew I didn’t have to transcribe verbatim and once I got the hang of the tool and saw the widget displayed well – I could go out and find links to the resources being mentioned in presentations and add those links into my stream.

I also got fancy and took photos with my phone, uploaded them live to Flickr, then grabbed medium sized copies and whacked them into the blog stream via the upload feature. I had some online participants commenting in the afternoon and Carole McCulloch accepted my invitation to be a panellist and also contributed. In future, I’ll ask for all the presentations before the event and have things pre-loaded as much as possible.

I loved the fact that anyone could participate — all they had to do is go to my blog (or wherever I copied and pasted the code for the widget). No log-ins required. I also like the fact it saves an archive on the blog.

A wireless connection should be built into all conference budgets – a growing number of people like the feeling of contributing via live blogging.

We didn’t have this option, but education.au’s communications officer De Bullen was savvy enough to tap some noted live bloggers and Twitterati and make connections available to them.

Video. In future I’ll make a video camera, a decent mic and a tripod part of the mix but only if

  • I can get the presentations in order to cut in the slides (talking heads are b-o-r-i-n-g)
  • Interviews at the break are a possibility
  • Activities or events where visuals are key (miming, dance routines, momentous presentations, fire baton juggling, etc) are part of the day.

I eventually want a video camera with the option to expand the memory and acknowledge that tape is now annoying and limiting. Mark Pesce is a great guy and will make his video available to us, but you can’t always rely on your tech-savvy keynote delivering the goods.