As Christmas 2016 fast approaches and the winter nights draw closer I cannot help reflect on the two big political events which have dominated the news this year; Brexit and the USA Presidential election win for Donald Trump. In 2017 there will be more elections taking place within the EU and the rise of populist and right wing political figures may have a big impact on these results.
The first big shock was the referendum result on the 23rd June for the United Kingdom voting to leave the EU. As a British expat living in Finland since 2011 I have benefited much from the free movement and visa free work entitlements, so I am left very bemused why the UK voted to leave. I travelled to the UK before the referendum and ended up in many heated debates with my friends and family about the negative and positive aspects of EU membership. In my travels around the UK I lost count of the campaign posters hanging on house windows with “Vote Leave” slogans on, compared the very few “Vote Remain” slogans. Before returning back to Finland a few days before the referendum I recall feeling very disillusioned by the anti-EU feelings of many of my UK countrymen and returned to Finland feeling anxious. On the morning of the referendum result I recall feeling angry and extremely disappointed and spent the rest on my summer break trying to make sense of the result. Five months later I have managed to accept the result outcome and come to the conclusion that many people in the UK voted to leave the EU as a protest vote against the conservative government austerity policies, but for me the damage has been done as it looks certain that the UK will start the leaving process in early 2017.
Just when I had thought that I had managed to move on from the Brexit result, the next big shock comes with the win of Donald Trump in the USA Presidential election. In some ways the shock Brexit result prepared me well to absorb the negative feelings, compared to many others around me who didn’t seem to be able understand how something like this could happen. Although the USA election result didn’t surprise me, I am now left feeling very uncertain how 2017 will develop in the political world. One thing for sure is that the EU will face a number of very important elections with two taking place in December 2016 with Austria and Italy’s Presidential elections. These will be followed by an election in Holland in March of 2017, France’s Presidential election in April/May and then Germany’s local elections in September. These elections in Europe are just the main ones as there are also elections taking place in smaller countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary. Worryingly the rise of populist and right wing political figures in Europe are certain to make an impact on many of these election results.
In the wise words from the Greek classical philosopher Plato "democracies produce citizens of unruly passion and pervasive ignorance, manipulated by greedy elites and mendacious politicians. The result is tyranny — the rule of a strong man driven by appetites, corruption, and secrecy.” For me Plato sums up the current world of politics very nicely as we are living very crazy times right now!
Since the Apple special event on the 9th March I have been contemplating whether to purchase the Apple Smartwatch. I decided to watch the Apple streaming event live on my Apple TV to see what all the fuss was about. After listening to the event for around 10 minutes I began to feel tempted the new device might be a new gadget to buy for myself in late April.
The tools on the watch are all features which many tech forums had already predicted, but the look and feel are what impressed me the most. I also liked the customizable watch face feature too-especially the 3D looking Mickey Mouse clock face example shown by Tim Cook-which also managed to get my kids’ attention!
After a few weeks I am still very tempted to buy the watch, but the excitement in me has calmed considerably. The reason for this new thinking is because after a few weeks to reflect, there are really no major new features (compared to the iPhone or most other Smartphones) that the watch offers. The price is also not cheap and the sport aluminum options starts at $349 and stainless steel Watch collection starts at $549-I will not even mention the prices of the gold watch editions!
However, the big fan base of Apple fans who are likely to queue and buy the watches on the 24th April release date will likely mean many Apple stores running out of stock quickly. If the watch can continue to sell in high numbers after this initial release date, the entire concept of wearable smart watches may actually begin to evolve even further, and this is what gets me excited. I like the idea concept behind the watch and being able to have instant access to many smartphone features available on my wrist, but I think I will likely try to hold on just that little longer and see how things develop before I take my cash out and buy one.
Any education institution in this modern day and age needs to ensure they provide their students with modern 21st century learning systems, to help support learning and accessibility for their online resource materials. Although this is a common expectation for education establishments, the reality is that many do not provide adequate online systems to facilitate and support student learning.
The Unius Learning Management System is a cost effective solution for medium sized education institutions, providing the latest learning tools for staff and students. The Unius platform brings a number of advanced interactive features such as grading analytics, reporting, communication, online resource features, video streaming links and cloud storage.
For education establishments who already provide an LMS for their staff and students, evidence indicates many users do not feel inclined to use the in-built communication tools, so end up using their private and social networks to communicate with peers. The Unius LMS platform has taken this important factor into account consideration and has been developed with user-friendly communication features, similar to the layouts on popular social networks. External email and cloud storage networks can also be synchronized with Unius, so external email accounts can be securely accessed via one central platform.
Educational organizations that choose to use the Unius LMS can quickly incorporate the latest tools and offer these to their students and educators, for enhancing the learning experience. The days of employing large expensive technology teams to maintain online learning systems is over, as the Unius platform can be personalized and setup in a short space of time and supported 24 hours a day by Unius support staff, both onsite and remotely.
Bring Your Own Device versus 1:1
Over the last few years I have overseen many different laptop programs in schools, but it is the BYOD (bring your own device) that I think offers the best choice for most schools.
Incorporating a 1:1 program in a school can be extremely challenging, especially for students that have already purchased their own device before roll out of the program. These days I really believe it just isn't about one device, but more about how different technologies can be incorporated into the classroom. I also believe that teachers shouldn't be throwing all their eggs into one basket by planning lessons that can only be accessed on one platform.
1:1 programs tend o force everyone in using one platform which is very dangerous in such a fast moving technology world. Technology network staff will also tend to feel more comfortable with one platform as the maintenance and implementation is less of a headache for them.
In my experience teachers can feel very nervous about technologies as they are usually very weary about using the little time they have to invest in learning how to use new technologies. The sooner teachers realize that they should learn all three platforms (iOS, Android & Windows) the easier it will be for everyone to spend less energy worrying about the device and focus more on the actual learning!
If you are interested in BYOD there is a great article on the edutopia.org site:
TrofTech now have a confirmed stand at the Bett show in London next January. For further info visit the official Bett Show website:
Since starting my career as a technology teacher I have always found the Bett show in London a very useful event to attend and get the chance to discuss and see new ideas for teaching technology in the class. Next year things will be different-TrofTech will be exhibiting!! More news to follow about this at a later dat, but for now check out why it is good to exhibit at the Bett show on the YouTube clip below:
Who doesn't use Twitter these days? Cybary Man has a great list of hashtags that are used by educators-check them out:
Ping Fu's thoughts about how 3D printing could be the next big revolution in technology are extremely interesting. Watch this interview from Hardtalk below.
After reading this article on the BBC news website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21654308) I am reminded about the importance of back-up systems. Technology is an amazing tool for humans to help them with complex processes for running everyday systems, but when things stop working the negativity towards technology can soon become apparent.
Back-up systems are crucial, so I am glad to hear that the engineers at NASA had this scenario worked out by activating their B-side computer.
Another back-up system that is a must is storage and the increase of using cloud technologies is a quick way simple way to do this.