Monday, 31 December 2012

BBC Radio 4 Today Show - Is technology 'transforming schools'?

Today's guest editor this morning, Melinda Gates, is a passionate advocate of investment in technical innovation for school pupils, and asked the Today programme to report on how it can help in schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

The BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan Jones, examines the role of technology in enhancing the quality of teaching in schools.

"If technology is not simple and reliable we will not use it," one head teacher explained.

An academy principal explained that the use of technology starts with good teaching: "Great teachers use technology to do even greater things... they use the technology as a bridge."

and more information on the school (

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

"There has never been a better time to be a student in the UAE" Ali Al Saloom

Taken from The National News paper by Ali Al Saloom

There has never been a better time to be a student in the UAE

Now is the best time to be a student in the UAE. The country is growing and opportunities are plentiful. But with these opportunities come great expectations. The young generation represents hope to the older generation, but the elderly will also hold it responsible for the choices it makes.

If you are an Emirati, you can attend the finest post-secondary institutions in our history. Our beloved father Sheikh Zayed would have been proud, since education was one of his strongest commitments. If you are visiting us from another country, marhaba, welcome.

The UAE is one of the best places to study because, while you will experience a different culture, you will probably find many things are not that different from your homeland. Our country has expanded rapidly, and modernism has forced us to change the way we view our home.

The British philosopher Francis Bacon's statement from 1597 that "for knowledge itself is power" is today perhaps more relevant than ever.

In the past, a student would need to have a certain book physically in his hands to read or he would have to be present in an auditorium where a lecture was being given. How different it is today. Nowadays, the knowledge of the whole world is just a click away and it does not cost more than the time it takes to read the online article, to study the e-book, to watch the tutorial video or to participate in a web conference.

Learning to learn is the call of the day. Looking at economic developments over the last few years, only a complete fool would fail to see how education and technological awareness are crucial to survive. But the tricky issue is that learning is not just about the amount of information one takes in, it's about the source, reliability and significance of the input.

For instance, celebrity gossip and fashion news won't help most of us to advance in life, unless we are working in yellow journalism or the fashion business.

The UAE is making every effort to encourage the best universities from all over the world to open up campuses here and to develop its own educational institutions. And it works - one can study at the American University, the Sorbonne or the University of Wollongong without leaving the UAE.

Yes, it's the best time ever to be a student in the UAE. But don't forget, you don't study just to study - you study for life. And a degree is not meant to be framed and hung on the wall. It is there to be used.

Friday, 22 June 2012

iPad Apps for Education - Education Anywhere Any Time

Organisational Apps
Business Apps
English Apps
Maths Apps
Science Apps
MFL Apps
General Apps

Organisational Apps:Page Top Button

Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.
DROPBOX (free):
Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, your iPhone and iPad and even the Dropbox website! With the Dropbox app, you can take everything that matters to you on the go.

ARTICLES ($4.99):
Articles lets you easily read and discover Wikipedia Articles on your iPad.
Just enter a search term and let Articles find the Wikipedia entry you are looking for. Use the integrated maps feature to learn about interesting places and historic events around your current location, or anywhere else in the world. Or simply shake your device and let Articles find an entry for you.
THINGS ($19.99):
Things is a beautifully focused and amazingly intuitive task manager. Other todo applications either oversimplify or are too difficult to use. Things instead offers the perfect balance between ease of use and powerful features.
Effortlessly manage to-dos, notes, due dates, and projects. A smart today list and the scheduling feature allow you to work as effectively as possible - every day.

PDF EXPERT ($9.99):
PDF Expert lets you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes and save these changes being compatible with Preview and Adobe Acrobat. Moreover, PDF Expert is the only iPad application that can fill PDF forms!
Looking to access your Microsoft Office ® files at any time? All you need is your favorite iOS device and Documents To Go in order to be constantly connected!

Business Apps:Page Top Button

iCARD (free):
This program will help to design and print a professional business card. iCard Maker uses templates which you can prepare on your own, or you can use ready models , templates of business cards accessible in it. iCard Maker is very easy to use business cards maker software.
2SCREENS ($4.99):2Screens - Presentation Expert is a feature rich document manager and viewer, complete with integrated web browser and whiteboard. It works seamlessly with TV-out, AirPlay, cloud storage, whiteboard and far more.

CASH FLOW HD (free):
Top 1 iPad overall (US) finance app developer offers: Cash Flow HD. Track Expenses and Income by Categories, control your spending with CashFlow monthly report.
Studywiz Mobile eLocker® gives you access to your Studywiz eLocker content anytime, anywhere on your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. With Studywiz Mobile eLocker you can view your documents, images and movies directly within the app and send supported files to third party apps for viewing and editing. You can then send a new version back to your Mobile eLocker and save it back in Studywiz.

English Apps:Page Top Button

English Idioms Illustrated will be enjoyed by English students, teachers and enthusiasts alike. The origin and meaning of each idiom is masterfully illustrated by Professor Potts. Download now to see for yourself!
GRAMMAR UP ($4.99):
Grammar Up is a multiple choice quiz system for English which provides over 1800 questions across 20 grammar categories. It was designed to replicate questions with a business focus commonly found in the popular TOEIC (TM) English proficiency test.

IQuote is one of AppStores bestselling educational App for your iDevice - with over 10.000 interesting famous quotes!
The Wisdom of the Wise and the Experience of the Ages may be preserved by quotations. (Benjamin Disraeli)

Maths Apps:Page Top Button

MATH TERMS (free):
MathTerms is an illustrated glossary of mathematics terms in English and Spanish. The app includes almost 1,000 entries for middle- and high-school mathematical concepts. Millions of students have had access to this glossary, and its colorful, annotated illustrations, for over the past five years.
Elevated Math provides initial instruction or intervention on math topics that cover place value, estimation, large digit addition all the way through Algebra I (two years of math instruction!).

MATH EVOLVE ($0.99):
This revolutionary app provides a fun and engaging way to practice math facts, number sense, and mental math skills. Math Evolve is for ages 6 and up, but is challenging and fun even for adults.
Math Grap Pro for iPad is simply the best Graphing Application on the App Store. This easy to use sketching app can graph functions and numerically solve standard algebraic equation as well as differential equations.

Geometry, the study of space and spatial relationships, is an important and essential branch of the mathematics curriculum at all grade levels. The ability to apply geometric concepts is a life skill used in many occupations. The study of geometry provides the student with a vehicle for enhancing logical reasoning and deductive thinking for modeling abstract problems and for helping us expand both mentally and mathematically.

Science Apps:Page Top Button

SCIENCE360 FOR iPAD (free):
The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science360 for iPad provides easy access to engaging science and engineering images and video from around the globe and a news feed featuring breaking news from NSF-funded institutions. Content is either produced by NSF or gathered from scientists, colleges and universities, and NSF science and engineering centers.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, edited by James Trefil, Joseph F. Kett, and E. D. Hirsch, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, "Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology," "Physical Sciences and Mathematics," "Earth Sciences," "Life Sciences". Scientific terms and concepts from The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, which contains definitive and comprehensive information on all the fields of essential human knowledge from ancient to cutting-edge.

This app will help you to show conditions and treatments to patients, you can tap and drag to easily images to show periodontal disease, cracks, how to brush your teeth, numerous other conditions...
EKG TRAINER ($0.99):
EKG Trainer allows you and, optionally, a friend to learn changing EKG rhythm strips in real time. Real EKG tracings from actual patients have been used to create life-like simulations. The full 12-lead EKG is provided along with the animated rhythm strip for further study. Connect two iOS devices via Bluetooth and use one as a remote control (portrait mode) and the other as an EKG monitor simulator (landscape mode). Great for medical students, nursing students, PAs, paramedic trainees - anyone who needs practice with ACLS-type simulation.

The iReflexometer is a scientific tool used to measure people's sensorimotor alertness and abilities. The wide range of potential applications for this tool includes:

* Accurate and quantitative diagnosis of diseases that affect the nervous system
* Effective screening for intoxication
* Determination of certain people's fitness to perform their job, e.g. pilots, heavy truck drivers, etc.
* Alertness testing for military operations
The Focus Animated Quick Reference series provides an organized reference source full of information and facts that describe various diseases and disorders that affect the human body.

Instant, reliable information and images on 85+ infections and other conditions seen in childhood. This app, from the pediatricians of and the Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, gives parents the answers they need – starting with: "Is It Contagious?"
Action on Hearing Loss's Hearing Check is a quick, simple and completely confidential way to check your hearing, without the trek to the doctor's waiting room. Check your ears today!
The Hearing Check is designed to be the best method of checking for sensorineural hearing loss (due to age or noise exposure for instance) without seeing a medical professional.

'Gray's Anatomy', the renowned classic anatomical book by Henry Gray was first published in 1858 and is considered by many to be one of the most iconic and significant medical books of all time. Gray's Anatomy is now available on the iPad using the highest resolution images possible. (This version of Gray's Anatomy has been enhanced and specifically built for the iPad.)
KTYPE ($149.99):
KType is an assistive communication app for individuals who cannot verbally communicate with ease or speed. KType is built to assist users who find it difficult to control or see keyboard, mouse, or LCD.
The KType app accepts user input via the touchscreen or bluetooth keyboard, speaks in realistic male and female voices, and instantly guesses what the user is trying to type, minimizing the need to spell out each word. It can be easily configured to assist individuals with muscle spasms, motor tics, and partial paralysis, as well as those who have trouble reading, writing, and spelling.

Technology Apps:Page Top Button

PHONE DRIVE ($0.99):
Phone Drive allows you to store, view and manage files on your iPhone or iPad. You can connect to Phone Drive from any Mac or PC over the Wi-Fi network and transfer files by drag & drop files straight from the Finder or Windows Explorer.

Phone Drive features document viewer, PDF reader, music player, image viewer, voice recorder, text editor, file manager and support most of the file operations: like delete, move, copy, email, share, zip, unzip and more.
TECH TV (free):
Switch on to the latest world technology news with Tech TV, a unique video app that's updated daily with the hottest news videos, product launches, industry reports and on-location technology event coverage.

Capturing and sharing your inner most creative genius has never been easier. Introducing the first multi-device collaboration tool from Universal Mind. From iPhone to iPad with just a flick of the finger, iBrainstorm has set the bar and has redefined the very nature of collaboration.
Capture and share your sounds on-the-go with the official SoundCloud app for iPhone and iPad.
Record a voice, moment or original music in seconds and share it privately or publicly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare. Easily access, browse and listen to the sounds people share with you, wherever you are.The latest app is more social then ever, making it even easier to explore, like and comment on sounds right from your mobile. Share your sounds with the new SoundCloud iPhone and iPad app

MFL Apps:Page Top Button

Translate words and phrases between more than 50 languages using Google Translate for iOS. For most languages, you can speak your phrases and hear the corresponding translations
You are about to experience the evolution of language learning! Never before has learning to speak Japanese been so fun, fast or easy. You'll be speaking Japanese within just minutes of the very first lesson, and our interactive language experience will keep you engaged and locked in! The progress you make with "Absolute Beginner Japanese for iPad" will utterly shock and amaze your friends, family, colleagues, and teachers.

The Univision App extends the power of Univision’s unparalleled news, entertainment and sports coverage to mobile users. It brings the best Univision Spanish-language content in one place, with articles, photos and video clips of the latest immigration news, Univision talent and other Latin celebrity gossip, and the latest updates from favorite Hispanic sports including soccer, boxing and NBA. The app allows users to follow their favorite stories and get personalized and local updates - engaging them with the content that matters to them most, wherever they go.
If you are taking the TOEFL (The Test of English as a Foreign Language) examination or just interested in what it entails, this quiz app will help you. 100 TOEFL questions (and answers) are included here. The questions covers the following topics: Written Express.

General Apps:Page Top Button

The ELEMENTS ($13.99):If you think you've seen the periodic table, think again. The Elements: A Visual Exploration lets you experience the beauty and fascination of the building blocks of our universe in a way you've never seen before. And as the first really new ebook developed from the ground up for iPad, The Elements beautifully shows off the capabilities of this lovely device.
KINDLE (free):
The Kindle app is optimized for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, giving users the ability to read Kindle books, newspapers, magazines and PDFs on a beautiful, easy-to-use interface. You’ll have access to over 900,000* books in the Kindle Store. Amazon Whispersync automatically syncs your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across devices (including Kindle), so you can pick up your book where you left off on another device.

Get closer than ever before to an exquisite collection of the most valuable and highly coveted gems, gemstones, and jewels that have captivated human beings for millennia. Learn about the rocks, minerals, and organic materials that are transformed by the jeweller's art into things of great beauty.
KEYNOTE ($9.99):
Keynote is the most powerful presentation app ever designed for a mobile device. Built from the ground up for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, it makes creating a world-class presentation — complete with animated charts and transitions — as simple as touching and tapping. Highlight your data with stunning 3D bar, line, area, and pie charts, animated with new 3D chart builds such as Crane, Grow, Radial, and Rotate.

iPHOTO ($4.99):
iPhoto is a universal app that runs on iPad 2 or later and iPhone 4 or later.
With iPhoto for iOS, Apple brings Multi-Touch to photography in a breakthrough way. Browse, edit and share your photos from your iPad or iPhone like never before — all the powerful tools you need are at your fingertips. And with iCloud, you can share your experiences as stunning photo journals.
Audio Memos is a professionally made audio recorder. It has an amazingly intuitive interface, which is easy to use and full of powerful features. Use it in interviews, lectures, music session, briefings, ... and simplify your recording tasks.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

iPads and Secure Online Testing

After a week of investigation and deliberation I came to the conclusion that an app and a case was the only viable solution. Other people where coming up with some frankly odd solutions including purchasing 200 laptops that faculty could book and having them moved from room to room as needed. Changing an Independent Learning Centre that we have at the college into a testing centre and so on.  

The general problem with doing any testing on an iPad is the lock down functionality will not work with the iPad. Every app has to be approved by Apple before it’s added to the app store I've been reading up on this process and it's a very complicated problem. From what I have been reading Apple will not allow any app to disable the home button or have it interact with an app as we require.  

So this leaves a very big gap in the security. The solution I have found is to use a Kiosk App AVD Browse or something similar that locks the software side and then with a special/bespoke case you can block the home button. Something like this iPad enclosures “With the Evolve iPad case, one can decide to have access to the iPad buttons or not by simply adding the custom inserts upon assembly.” It would be a little expensive the App is 7.99 US$ then we would need to have the cases or even have them made but it is possible. There will be other ideas and developments but unless Apple change their minds about the home button a case that blocks the home button is the only solution I can see.  

The ideas that I have thought off and that are mentioned above or that other people have suggested to me are all a; unfeasible b; logistically impossible c; technically impossible d; more expensive or e; all of the reasons mentioned. So that leaves two other alternatives the first to use paper based exams or just do the tests in a none locked-down iPad.  

So what are people’s thoughts?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Blended Learning: Teaching Languages to Young Learners


I created the following sections:
For the following purposes:
-To introduce the module and welcome the students
- To announce time and place of extra activities relevant to module
Module Information
To store information such as:
Module flyer
Schedule of sessions
Assignment rubric
Learning resources
Divided into subsubsections -
A section for each session
To store materials, resources relevant to each session.
A video clip which was introduced in a session but which requires observation many times in order to do the required analysis was also stored in this area.
Module wiki
Divided into subsubsections -
One for each session I taught
4 students were chosen (by register order) at the end of each session to summarise the session collaboratively on the wiki and then to invite comment from all other students. They were given 36 hours to do this. Thereafter other students responded with their comments.
At the beginning of each session the comments were projected and used to recap the previous session and re-engage the students in the topic.
This area on the VLE was used to display answers I gave to queries on the assignment which I received by email from individual students.

The storage of materials provides easy access for all involved in the module. Putting the video on the VLE space enabled students to view it as much as they needed to in order to carry out the observations that were needed for the depth of analysis required at this level.

The use of the Wiki had several aims:

1. To make explicit student’s responsibility in their learning / to give students autonomy in their learning / to evaluate how much they had understood / to evaluate my own teaching;
2. To prolong students’ engagement with the theme of the session and to encourage further thought and discussion;
3. To enable all students to participate to the discussion and debate in some way;
4. To provide an efficient way of recapping previous work at the beginning of new sessions.

The wiki was far more successful than I had anticipated. All students read and followed the discussion and most contributed. Reading their entries myself gave me a better idea of the depth of students’ understanding than I usually get from classroom sessions and this allowed me to identify things which needed to be clarified.
Setting up a site to display answers to assignment queries meant that I did not receive the same question from many students.
Yes; what I did worked. It was accessed by students and they appreciated this type of support.
I will certainly do it again. The management of the wiki needs some further thought as I am not sure the ‘collaboration’ facility was really exploited by the students (I think that they divided the task up and wrote separate sections, rather than collaborating on the text through the editing and re-editing facilities). I plan also to extend the activity from merely summarising to discussing a particular issue.

Next time I will also use the module space on the VLE to make links to journals.

And, I hope to learn about other things that i can usefully do to enhance the experience of taking my module.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Case study - Electronic plagiarism detection in the Law School

Part of my role within the School of Law is to deal with all aspects of plagiarism.  I put electronic copies of all assignments on the VLE and a Turnitin link for the students to submit their work to. All of our students are asked to submit their assignments via Turnitin otherwise they don't get back a copy of their assignments with feedback. We do this because we can't penalise them under the current practice for not using Turnitin and we don't wish to go down that route (at least, not yet). We try to explain to all the students why we are using Turnitin and we try not to scare them. We don't systematically go through each Turnitin instance looking for plagiarism; if we happen to see an assignment with a high percentage of copied material or if an academic asks me to look at a particular assignment further we will then investigate.


We really wanted to use Turnitin to provide the academics with a bit more support with regards to plagiarism. We also wanted to be more proactive with regards to eliminating plagiarism. There have been cases where Turnitin has pointed out to the academic that an assignment has been plagiarised. Academics can't be expected to know the content of every website on their topic. Using Turnitin we can also guard against students submitting assignments that were written by someone else during a previous year or prepared collaboratively. This year we've also tried to keep a closer eye on the first year assignments where Turnitin can highlight incorrect referencing as opposed to deliberate attempts to cheat. Previously, students had been asked to submit an electronic copy of their assignment as well as the paper copy and my understanding was that we were running out of storage space for all the CDs and floppy disks; so Turnitin has helped with that too.


I actually just started in the summer after the School handbooks had been produced and the procedures had been decided; but as this is the first year we have had to be flexible. The School did use Turnitin last year for Masters modules and the students had to go to the Turnitin website to submit their work. Setting up Turnitin was a lot more time consuming using the Turnitin website. Students need to be registered and the class size limit meant things could become confusing. Using Turnitin via the VLE has simplified the process and we've implemented Turnitin across all modules. We did get people from the VLE team and the Library to come and demonstrate Turnitin to the staff and have needed the support of the VLE team on a couple of occasions. It's nothing we haven't been able to sort out. As we don't hand back assignments with the feedback support staff have to check that the students have submitted their assignment, which is extra work for them. Students have emailed me with problems e.g., submitting the wrong assignment, or confusion over the preview box now showing footnotes and the word count Turnitin produces. It's not been a massive problem and this is something new for all undergraduates so next year things will be better as it's only new to the first years.


It's definitely been a valuable tool to use. Next year I want to do some student workshops on plagiarism where I'll show the students a Turnitin report. Showing them how it looks and what we do with it. We may also do an optional test submission for first years where students will be able to see the report for the assignment they submit. This will have to be looked at closely so that students don't use something they're going to submit in the future. I would certainly look at online marking (Grademark) and some of my colleagues are very keen on the idea.