The Brazil world cup will be one of the largest and connected World Cups.   So how do they connect 80,000 fans?  The BBC, Huawei and several other have been answering this question online…so how do they do it?

The BBC article sates that “Brazil last year, for one, had over 70 million 3G users – a number expected to grow to 130 million by the end of 2014.

Telecom companies came through on their pledge to have 4G cellphone signal available in all 12 cities hosting the games.  However,  only six of the 12 World Cup stadiums will offer free wi-fi so fans can connect to the Internet. Wi-fi service will not be ready in time at the stadiums in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Recife, Fortaleza, Natal and Belo Horizonte. At Curitiba and Cuiaba stadiums, the telecom industry said there was no time to set up the best possible cell signal.

Part of the reason for such an explosion of online connectivity is the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will take place from 12 June and be hosted in 12 of the country’s national stadiums.

However, providing supportive technology to connect tens of thousands of stadium-goers simultaneously is still a challenge. For example, there are pressures for Brazil to accommodate its international guests and ensure that they are able to share their World Cup experience with friends and family back home.

High-density wireless networks, which are mounted under the floor, to the sides and on the roof, are one solution to this challenge. This technology was introduced in 2012, when electronics company Huawei teamed up with Germany’s Signal Iduna Park Stadium (formerly the 2006 FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund) to provide a full range of networking products, including wireless WLAN, routers and firewalls, so that 40,000 fans could simultaneously connect to the internet.

The Signal Iduna Park was consequently one of the first sporting venues to become known as a Connected Stadium, so-called because audience spectators are encouraged to interact online, via tablet or mobile devices.

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Meet The Man Who Solved The Mysterious Cicada 3301 Puzzle

It’s the most baffling and enigmatic mystery on the Internet with promises of “epiphany” if you solve it. But just how hard is it to crack the Cicada 3301 puzzle and who’s behind it?

cicada_2743132b

Two years ago, a cryptic message started appearing on message boards across the Internet. Claiming to seek “highly intelligent individuals,” the Cicada 3301 puzzle challenged visitors to find a secret message hidden in the image that accompanied it. Just what is Cicada 3301? And what happens to those that solve the puzzle? To find out, we talked to the man who solved it.

When it showed up on January 4, 2012 the mysterious image contained a simple message in white text on a black background:

“Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in the image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few who will make it all the way through. Good luck.”

It was signed “3301.”

And so began the hunt to solve the mysterious Cicada 3301 puzzle, one that recurs each year and has left cryptoanalysts and hackers scratching their heads.

A Multifaceted Enigma

Joel Eriksson is one of the few known people to have actually solved it since the first challenge appeared online.

“I stumbled upon it on one of the image boards the first image was posted to in 2012,” says Eriksson, a 34-year-old cryptosecurity researcher and developer from Sweden. “Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until some time after it was originally posted, and thus had some catching up to do,” Eriksson says. “Initially, I just thought it would be a nice little brainteaser. I’ve always been interested in anything that can challenge me, and I never give up. In the case of Cicada, the puzzle in question turned out to be a lot more than I thought it would be when I started it.”

Tackling the puzzle would lead Eriksson to rely on a host of skills from steganography to cryptography, to an understanding of ancient Mayan numerology and a familiarity with cyberpunk speculative fiction. As he worked his way from solving one piece of the puzzle to the next, the journey would lead him to discover that the answers lay not just in the digital domain, but in the real world: From clues left on the voicemail of a Texas telephone number to flyers taped to telephone poles in 14 cities around the world. The quest would ultimately return to the deepest layers of the digital world: the dark web.

From Reddit To Texas To The Dark Web

To understand how hard Cicada is, one only needs to look at the complexity of each clue that leads to successive parts of the puzzle–all which need to be completed in order to solve the Cicada mystery.

From the first image that was posted, Eriksson used steganography software to extract a message encoded with a shift cipher, where each letter of the text actually corresponds to another letter. Once he decoded the cypher, it revealed a URL where another image of a duck was posted. Here, he used steganography tools to reveal a hidden book code of a list of two numbers separated by a colon. The book code led to a Reddit URL with Mayan numerals on the top of the page. Eriksson noticed that several posts by a user using a pseudonym seemed to consist of encoded text. This text was the “book” the book code could be used to decode. But to find the cypher he needed to find the key first, which he gleaned from translating the Mayan numerals.

The now decoded text of the anonymous Reddit user’s postings revealed two images, both of which Eriksson used steganography tools on to find hidden messages with riddles inside them. The answer to these riddles were strings of digits that was a phone number in Texas. Calling the phone number led to a voicemail that read, “Very good. You have done well. There are three prime numbers associated with the original final.jpg image. 3301 is one of them. You will have to find the other two. Multiply all three of these numbers together and add a .com to find the next step. Good luck. Goodbye.”

Looking at the metadata of the image that started it all, Eriksson thought its height and width dimensions could be the other two numbers. He did the math and landed at a URL which had another image of a cicada and a countdown that told him when to return to the site.

When the countdown was over, the cicada image was replaced with strings of digits that looked like GPS coordinates. The coordinates led to telephone poles in countries around the world, including in Spain, Russia, America, France, Japan, and Poland. Due to geographic limitations, Eriksson had to rely on other people on the Cicada 3301 trail in those parts of the world. What the locals found were physical posters with images of a cicada and a QR code.

Eriksson scanned the QR code, which lead to another two images, inside of which were more hidden text, including text from what Eriksson found was the William Gibson poem Agrippa. Noting that the text referenced prime numbers, Eriksson surmised that perhaps the book code he used on the text found on Reddit might reveal where to go next if he used it on the Gibson poem. It worked. He was directed to an address on the anonymous Tor network.

However, by the time he arrived, Cicada 3301 had put up a message stating that they were disappointed in the groups of people that had formed to share parts of the puzzles they discovered without any one member completing all the steps along the way, as Eriksson had done.

Had Eriksson seen the first image as soon as everyone else did, and having solved the Cicada 3301 puzzle on his own, he would today know what laid beyond the Tor site Cicada had set up.

“It was quite disappointing,” Eriksson says. “Especially considering that the people who registered in time were mostly ones that had not actually solved much of the puzzles themselves. People were sharing solutions and collaborating a bit too much.”

But for Eriksson the time and effort it took him to beat Cicada weren’t a total loss. He solved every step of the world’s most baffling Internet enigma in just under three weeks and in the process gleaned a lot of insight into who or what Cicada 3301 is.

Who’s Behind Cicada 3301?

Ericksson’s impression of who might be behind the puzzle changed as he went along.

“Getting a phone number to call after solving one of the pieces of the puzzle was the first hint that this might not just be the work of a random Internet troll. This was definitely an unexpected turn,” Eriksson says. “The plot thickened even more when receiving a number of GPS coordinates. I also can’t help but to notice that the locations in question–USA, Poland, France, South Korea, and Australia–are all places with some of the most talented hackers and IT security researchers in the world.”

Cicada’s identity is one of the most hotly debated topics among people who try to solve the group’s now annual puzzles. Theories range from global banks that might be trying to set up new digital currencies to political think tanks to nefarious groups of hackers with anarchy on their minds. The most popular assumption, however, is a government intelligence agency like the CIA, NSA, and MI6 that may be trying to recruit talented cryptoanalysts like Eriksson–something Eriksson doesn’t think is likely.

“It is actually quite common for intelligence agencies and similar organizations to use non-traditional forms of recruitment, but in those cases they usually announce it officially rather than hiding their identity. One such example was the GCHQ challenge “Can you crack it?” a few years ago. It required deeper technical skills than the Cicada 3301 challenge, but the scope was much smaller and it required a lot less time to solve. If intelligence agencies used something like the Cicada 3301 puzzles to find people to recruit, they would probably end up with a lot of people that are not really interested in working for an organization such as theirs.”

So if it’s not an intelligence agency, who does Eriksson believe is behind it?

“It is most likely an underground organization, not related to any government or intelligence agency,” he says. “Based on the references in their challenges–the Agrippa poem by William Gibson, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake, The Book of The Law by Aleister Crowley–and their constant references to prime numbers and the like, they are likely intellectual, anti-establishment, ideologically driven and they seem to be valuing logical/analytical thinking highly. They seem to share a lot of ideology with the cryptoanarchy movement, and old-school hackers.”

As for the complexity of the puzzles, Eriksson says that Cicada wouldn’t even need to be that large of a group. “It really only takes one dedicated person to plan it all, but if I had to guess I would say it’s probably three to five with one of them being the main driving force. They probably spend about one to two months on setting everything up before each year’s puzzle. I think it’s possible to set up similar challenges in a much shorter amount of time as well, but not with as great attention to detail as Cicada 3301.”

What’s most interesting is that, though Eriksson didn’t make it in time to be allowed through the last door, presumably a few select others did. This begs the question: Why aren’t those people talking? After all, if you’re smart enough to crack the Cicada puzzle, wouldn’t you want to brag about it and become the hero of the hacker world by revealing who’s behind it?

Eriksson says there have been some leaks, with people claiming that they are or have been part of Cicada 3301–but the problem is that none of them can be confirmed. However, he doesn’t think the identity of who’s behind Cicada will ever be revealed–even by a bona fide winner.

“I don’t think that Cicada 3301 would reveal everything about themselves directly–or at all,” he says. “They would probably only reveal their purpose or their ideology, and what they expect from you as a part of the group, and then use anonymous means of communication to keep their identity hidden.”

“Regarding the desire to tell the world, I think that it depends on how you’re wired and what drives you. In my work as a security researcher for some very secretive and sensitive clients, I’m used to keeping secrets. If you are working for a cause you truly believe in, I don’t think keeping your mouth shut is that hard. The challenge for Cicada 3301 is to figure out which ones that truly believe in their cause.”

Advice For Current Cicada Hopefuls

This year’s Cicada 3301 puzzle is currently going on, having revealed its start to interested puzzle solvers with an image of a cicada that read: “Hello. Epiphany is upon you. Your pilgrimage has begun. Enlightenment awaits. Good luck. 3301.”

As no one is yet known to have solved the 2014 puzzle, the current Cicada hopefuls out there could learn a thing or two from Eriksson, who says he is not working on this year’s puzzle.

Though you don’t have to be a cryptoanalist savant, it doesn’t hurt to have years of logical and analytical training. “Logical and analytical reasoning has always come naturally for me,” Eriksson says. “I started reading when I was four years old, I started programming when I was seven. My parents knew nothing about computers, so I had to learn everything by myself.”

Eriksson says that due to his background in IT security, the cryptography and steganography related parts were actually quite easy. But when it came to the more esoteric references to poetry, literature, prime numbers, and number theory, “I believe my general interest in brain teasers and puzzles have been quite helpful,” he says. “Also, in a lot of cases, I felt that Cicada 3301 and me seem to have a very similar way of thinking. There is something much deeper going on than just the puzzles per se.”

As for his advice for this year’s a future Cicada cyber sleuths?

“Make sure that you have a good understanding of every part of the previous Cicada 3301 puzzles. If there is a subject you are not already well acquainted with, take your time to read and learn more about it. Try to solve as much as possible of the earlier puzzles by yourself rather than just reading through a write-up. For parts you do read, make sure you understand each step completely and try to think about how you would have arrived at the same conclusions by yourself.”

“Last but not least, enjoy the ride.”

 

Computing…. Resources to help

This post from Malcolm (an LG advisor like myself)  sets out some amazing points.

Consuming
Published on November 22, 2013 in Coding, Digital Literacy, Games Based Learning, ICT, Mobile Technology, Technologies, control and programming. 2 Comments
Tags: code, coding, control, program, programmable, programming, software.
Do you wonder why it’s important to help pupils learn to code?
The products of coding or computer programming are around us every day, whether we see it or not. Daily living in today’s society depends on someone somewhere having created something in which coding or programming has played a part. Many voices have spoken about how the society in which our pupils live requires more people now and in the future to be skilled in programming or coding.

There is a fear expressed that schools which ignore teaching programming or coding are setting up pupils to only be consumers rather than creators of the code-driven products of today and the future.

Many teachers of today, themselves unfamiliar with coding or programming from their own education, may be anxious that they don’t have the skills needed to teach pupils coding or programming.

So this post sets out to collate resources which will support teachers to provide age-appropriate support for their pupils in including coding or programming in the context of different curriculare areas.

Mitch Resnick, one of the main creators of the coding program called Scratch, delivered a TED Talk outlining the benefits of teaching childrens to code, so they can do more than just “read” new technologies — but also create them.

Ginni Skalski has written a blog post of an interveiw with Red Hat product manager Burr Sutter (who works to make developers more successful and productive with open source tools, technologies, and techniques) who talks about why he believes children need to know how to solve technical problems, to know how to fix the tech tools they use every day, and how he balances that with other activities in which children participate.

Watch the short video below to see a few creators of well-known online tools (from Facebook to Dropbox) explain briefly what they first did to get started in coding, and why it’s important we have more people learning to program. This is also described slightly more fully here. Also it is part of http://code.org/ The Hour of Code which links to quotes from a far wider range of well known or influential individuals on the importance of teachign coding today.

Charlie Love has written on the Nesta site about why we should be finding ways to incorporate the teaching of coding into the curriculum, and highlights the links to SDcotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.
5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code is a graphical poster  created by @GrechenNoelle and @jonmattingly and presented by Kodable (a free programming tool and curriculum for the iPad) which sets out in a visually interesting way why it is important schools empower pupils to learn skills of programming.

Dr. Patricia Fioriello sets out in a blog post why we should be Teaching Kids To Code to Prepare Them For The Future. The post lists 6 reasons, and describes them, and ends by advocating including teaching perogramming in the classroom.

In a BBC Technology report “Where is the next generation of coders?” Jane Wakefield reports on the move to encourage young children to learn programming/coding. The gives the background to the need to have programming taught at an early age, and also what kinds of tools are available.

Programming Power: Does Learning to Code Empower Kids? This post by Ben Williamson looks at the idea that young people should learn to code, which has become a global educational aspiration in the last few years. And asks what kinds of questions should digital media and learning researchers ask about these developments? He suggests three approaches: first, to take a historical look at learning to code; second, to consider it in political and economic context; and third, to understand its cultural dimensions.

Why Learning to CodeMakes My Brain Hurt! This post by Mamie Rheingold explains what she believes learners learn when they are programming. 

So what tools and resources are available?
There is a host of tools available which can be used to support teaching pupils coding or programming. Some are downloadable software, some are specific to certian gaming devices or computing environments. Some work on specific mobile devices as apps. And some are online, requiring no downloads.

Chris Betcher describes and illustrates in this video a range of tools suitable for children to learn to code.

Edutopia blogpost about apps for teaching pupils coding provides a list of a few programs or apps which are aimed at use with children. Each is briefly described. 

Code.Org provides a host of resources collated around teaching coding at different stages and ages and for different purposes – but all aimed at encouraging teachers to use coding with pupils. These links include Tutorials for the Classroom: CodeHS (Online curriculum designed specifically for high school classrooms); Codecademy After School (complete online after-school activities for a coding club); Tynker (programming for primary school in a fun way); Bootstrap (high-school algebra and geometry concepts using computer programming); CS Unplugged (Fun classroom exercises to teach computer science principles, with no computers needed).  There are links to various schemes to bring enthusiasts into schools as well as platforms aimed at use with children.

Alice
Alice is a  tool to enable creating an animated story, an interactive game, or a video to share online.

Espresso Coding
Espresso Coding is a series of online coding lessons for pupils (free until October 2014). It guides pupils through the elements of learning to code and make their own apps to share with their friends and family. It includes 70+ step-by step lessons and tablet-friendly activities for pupils to create apps, full lesson plans for each activity, a website area where apps can be published and shared, an introduction to coding using elements of JavaScript, and short, helpful video guides.

Kodu
Kodu is a programming tool to create games on the PC and XBox.
Logo
Logo programming language forms the basis for a number of programmable devices, whether on-screen on robots or vehicles used in schools such as Beebot and Roamer. Click here for resources to support the use of Beebot and Roamer devices or their on-screen equivalents.

Raspberry Pi
Zondle Raspberyy Pi Programming Kit is just one of the ways in which Raspberry Pi can be used to help pupils learn programming. Raspberry Pi is a relatively inexpensive palm sized computer which can be used for programming games.

Scratch
Scratch was previously only available as a downloadable program but is now available as an online version (Scratch 2.0) – this is a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music and art – and share online.
Scratch 2.0 Starter Kit – Tools and resources collated by Randy Rodgers to help get teachers get their classes started with Scratch programming.
For those who like to have a paper handheld guide to using Scratch 2.0 (in comic-book style) then there is a book available for purchase reviewed here by Mark Frauenfelder. It’s also available for purchase in digital Kindle format.

Other Tools
Coding in the Classroom: 10 Tools Students Can Use to Design Apps and Video Games lists and describes 10 programs available for learning about programming, wther for PCs or mobile devices or other devices.

Ask A Teacher: 20 Programming Websites for K-8 – provides a list of 20 programming tools for use in schools with pupils. Includes videos, tutorials and links to resources.

Who can help?
On a Mission: How Code Academy is Helping get Programming into the Classroom.  Lee Summers describes here how Codecademy for teachers is an online educational site built specifically for teachers. It offers slides for each lesson, as well as a quiz and practice set where students can test their knowledge.  The site has been set up so that teachers can craft their own materials and then share them with the rest of the community.

To keep up with developments in such a fast-changing envronment there are a number of groups and individuals who share online via Twitter ideas and resources for supporting teachers in enocuraging pupils to learn to code. These include the following:

@CodeClub – for resources to support programming with 9-11 year-olds

@CoderScot – CoderDojo Scotland is part of a global collaboration which provides free coding clubs for young people to learn programming in a fun and sociable environment.

Games Based Learning (Further reading)

There are many links and resources that are useful case studies when it comes to Games in the classroom.  Here are some amazing ones:
Gabe Zichermann: How games make kids smarter:Check out Gabe Zichermann’s TED talk to find out how video games can actually make kids smarter and better problem solvers.
Johnny Lee demos Wii Remote hacks:Check out this video to see how you can turn a cheap Wii Remote into a sophisticated educational tool.
Professor Henry Jenkins on games-based learning at SxSWi 2009:MIT professor Henry Jenkins discusses why he thinks games are great learning tools in this video from SxSWi 2009.
Game-based Learning:This video offers an excellent introduction into the idea of game-based learning, exploring how digital games can share enriched learning experiences.
Games and Education Scholar James Paul Gee on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy:Learn about game learning from expert James Paul Gee, who explains the idea of situated and embodied learning, and how to helps students learn about problem solving.
Katie Salen on Game Design and Learning:Quest2Learn’s Katie Salen explains the philosophy of using game design for learning in the classroom in this video.
John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game:John Hunter explains how he puts all of the world’s problems on a plywood board and uses the “World Peace Game” to encourage his 4th graders to solve them all, engaging them in learning and teaching complex lessons.
Game for Good Design Camp:Gaming in education comes full circle in this video from Generation Cures Game for Good Design Camp. Students learn about science, technology, engineering, and math while they design video games that help others learn.
Immersive learning: it’s game on!:Find out how immersive gaming environments can be useful for students and educators.
Stuart Brown: Play is more than fun:Dr. Stuart Brown discusses his research on play, explaining that gaming and play are important to healthy childhood development into adulthood.
What is Game Based Learning:Check out this video to find a brief introduction to game-based learning.
Game On! How Playful Learning Works:MIT’s video explains how playful learning works in an anywhere/everywhere state of play.
Teaching with Games: GLPC Case Study: Joel:This video case study explores Joel Levin’s work as a school technology integrator, following him as he shares MinecraftEDU with second graders in New York City.
Game-Based Learning:This video explains the application of game-based learning with video presentation and resources.
Classroom Game Design: Paul Andersen at TEDxBozeman:Paul Andersen’s classroom is a video game, and you can learn how he puts video games to work in AP biology.
Video Games and the Future of Learning:Jan Plass and Bruce Horner lecture in this video, explaining the research and science behind video games and their future in education.
Game Based Learning in Special Education:Andre Chercka discusses his experience with game-based learning and how it can be applied to special education in this talk.
Steve Keil: A manifesto for play, for Bulgaria and beyond:View this talk to find out why Bulgarian Steve Keil thinks play is so important to education and society, and how we can reinvent learning to better share a sense of play.
Mission Impossible Physical Education Game:Check out this fun physical education game to see how kids can come together to think critically and work as a team.
The Gaming of Education:In this video, you’ll see how gaming can help kids learn and engage more deeply, and enjoy “The Great Brain Debate” as experts question whether gaming in education negatively contributes to digital information overload.
Brenda Brathwaite: Gaming for understanding:Game designer Brenda Brathwaite discusses how she created a game to help her daughter better understand the concept of slavery.
EdmodoCon 2011: Game Based Learning:Watch this video to see how high school teacher Hyle Daley integrates educational gaming into curriculum.
Integrating Games-based Learning: A Conversation with Tim Rylands:In this video, you’ll learn how to integrate games-based learning in your classroom.
Tim Brown: Tales of creativity and play:Designer Tim Brown explains how important play is to creative thinking, offering great ideas for bringing play into our lives and classrooms.
Teaching with Games: GLPC Case Study: Lisa:Check out this video with 4th grade teacher Lisa Parisi as she uses freely available games from BrainPOP and Manga High to challenge them in math and science content.
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world:Jane McGonigal’s talk explains how we can harness the power of gaming to solve real-world problems.
Nolan Bushnell Talks About Making Learning a Game:View this video from Atari founder Nolan Bushnell as he talks about changing the way kids learn in and out of school with gaming.
Game-based learning: what do e-learning designers need to know?:What makes educational games different? This video takes a look at what e-learning designers have to do differently when it comes to learning games.
Dawn Hallybone, Teacher, Learning Without Frontiers, London:In this video, British teacher Dawn Hallybone shares her strategies for bringing commercial video game technology to learning in order to motivate her students and improve educational outcomes.
Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!:Sir Ken Robinson shares his ideas for a radical shift in learning, bringing personalization and creativity to education, and allowing kids’ natural talents to grow.
Games and Learning in the Classroom with Teacher PrantikaDas:Follow this Microsoft Most Innovative Teachers Forum winner as she explains how she uses games to stimulate learning in her classroom.
Net Gen Ed: Game-based Learning:This video from Net Gen Ed explains the fundamentals of game-based learning and how to use games for educational purposes.
A Vision for 21st Century Learning:Check out this presentation on game based learning to better understand the ideas behind immersive learning environments.
Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning:How do you get boys interested in learning? Encourage them to play video games. Ali Carr-Chellman’s talk explains a great plan to engage boys in the classroom by bringing video games in.
Gaming in Libraries Class:See what Paul Waelchli has to say about teaching through game learning in this Gaming in Libraries course.
Ian Bogost on Serious Games:Get gaming expert Ian Bogost view on what serious games can do for education and beyond.
School Mods: Gaming the Education System:Jonathan Schneker’s talk is all about how video games can actually help us learn.
Education & business find uses for Serious Games:This piece from Euronews explains how computer games are breaking beyond entertainment and moving into the education and business world.
Game based Learning-How computer games and their design can be used in schools:Watch this video from the Festival of Education explaining why computer games are an essential part of 21st century curriculum.
James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games:Gaming expert James Paul Gee shares his insight into why video games make great learning tools.
Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain:Watch Tom Chatfield’s TED talk to find out how games engage and reward our brains to keep us going for more.
Consolarium on BBC News: Gaming in Education:Scottish educators explain how the Nintendo DS is making a difference in engagement and educational attainment for Scottish students.
Dr. Paul Howard-Jones – Neuroscience, Games & Learning:Dr. Paul Howard-Jones discusses the science of game-based learning as he explains how gaming engages the brain in education.
Welcome to the Digital Generation:This series of videos from Edutopia explains great ideas for teaching today’s digital generation.
The Money Game:In this financial education game, students learn basic money management and wealth creation principles, making personal finance education fun and easy.
Brenda Laurel:Brenda Laurel’s talk on games for girls offers interesting ideas for getting female students more engaged in game learning.
Game-Based Learning in Higher Education:Game-based learning isn’t just for kids. Watch this talk from the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching to find out why and how game-based learning can be used for higher education.
James Paul Gee on Grading with Games:Game-based learning expert James Paul Gee explains how kids can learn, and be graded, with games.
Teaching with Games: GLPC Video Case Study: Steve:Technology instructor Steve Isaacs discusses how he uses video game design and development in 7th grade curriculum, developing 21st century skills and helping to motivate students.
Douglas Thomas on Video Game Learning: Interacting with Media:Watch this video from the MacArthur Foundation to find out how video games can serve as powerful learning tools for students
This is a cross-post from content partners at onlineuniversities.com

BETT 2013

What to look out for:

Prof Brian Cox keynote 12:30  Feb 1st
Tim Rylands 10:30 Feb 2nd
Sugata Mitra 1230 Feb 2nd

Learning Together area with heppell.net

BETT video conferencing day 31st Jan
Www.vcfl.net. lots of cool people doing seminars from 1030 until 1430

SEN zone – I am hoping for better things this year from SEN zone.  Last year was a little disappointing. 

Technology training live has lots of training on all day 30th jan from ipads to science and maths

Learn live MS theatre
Weds to Sat.  Again lots of fun stuff from seminars on BYOD…cloud computing and all that jazz

Learn live – sponsored by NAACE
Lots of cool stuff from people such as Leon Cych, Steve Bunce Miles Berry, Penny Patterson, Eben Upton, Tony Sheppard, David Rogers,l

Learn Live SEN also looks fab on Weds 30th January

The schook leaders summit at BETT has some really interesting strategic people from DfE and inspectorates across the world.  http://www.bettshow.com/schoolleaderssummit 

Exam boards
WJEC stand f106 ..get some computer science resources

SMART technologies are on stand c240 and are showing new multitouch projector LightRaise 60wi

Learn live – Jan 30 to 31st Higher Education is quite good and has many good speakers talking about VLE, blended learning, MOOC’s, eportfolios, digital reputation (pete yeomans)

Learn Live – Learning at work 30th to 1st Feb.  BBC Academy and so on.  Good if you are CPD lead in corporate world too.

Links
Www.besa.org uk
Www.alt.ac.uk
Www.naace.co.uk
Www.nasen.org.uk

…..and as its the new year im looking at http://www.techogym.com

#ICT500 Rethinking ICT

There are some amazing posts from many esteemed colleagues, teachers and advisors on rethinking ICT. I am assuming, as a reader, we are aware of all the reports, discussions and the plethora of groups who have staked a claim to support ICT and computing but lets cut to the chase. I know we need to speak to learners, I know we have blank canvas and I know I am doing what I always hate..solutioneering but here goes.

A balanced curriculum with entitlement for all students. The content will have a mix of flavours as does science education does with biology, chemistry and physics. We need ICT users ..but proficient users…actually expert users. We need people to make software too and get a real interest in how it works. We also need to keep students safe and make them aware of the risks as well as experience the benefits across the school and at home for learning in, and beyond, the classroom.

Do we need spreadsheets, databases..I would say yes
Do we need word processing and publishing ..of course
Do we need games development and design ..yes but I would say the the systems life cycle is applicable to this as well as app development.
Do we need a Internet use and safety? that has to be inherent for all year groups
And so on…..

What’s new then dan?……well NOTHING BUT EVERYTHING

What? I know, well what I mean is that the core we had was already there. we now have the option to really move on. Lets use open source as an example. Free to use, distribute, change, share, update and evolve. We can feel safe in the knowledge that we can use all kinds of tools to promote these skills.

A few things worry me though:

Assessment and transferring between key stage to build upon prior knowledge and skills.
Skills versus capability ..Please let’s not go back to claim or ECDL.
ICT staff training and ‘it’s easier to use this off the shelf one from Pearson etc’

Finally…..just remember what’s wrong…when Developing your curriculum think about what you really hated teaching and what kids didn’t enjoy, but down stray away from the hard stuff or the mundane.. However the process to evidence such as printscreens which STILL drive me crazy. Take OCR nationals And DiDA for example..let’s move more to the DiDA model of electronic eportfolio of work and description of the process rather than mind numbing before and after Printscreens of OCR.

anyway I have probably missed some stuff out here but tried to put a more practical angle to allow this. I hate typing on an iPad so sorry for any typos.

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BETT 2012

I have realised the BETT show makes me paranoid!  As a head of department, Assistand Head of Sixthform, Class Teacher and Advisor.  There are always  teachers and companies with amazing ideas, practice and solutions.  So thats actually good then?  Yes, so what did I see today of interest.  Here are my very brief and badly typed notes:

BETT 2012 Day 1

Ok so spent last night planning my tour of duty through the BETT show. It is the first time we did not have a stand there so was happier looking around the place and having a coffee. I had planned to see all the big guns as well as take part in a MirandaMod or two about SEN and ICT. These are my highlights to the first day.

Michael Gove opened the event and created chaos, instability by using the most attended ICT teachers event to tell them computer science is back.

In summary :

The trends this year seem to be on content and upgrades rather than any new technology or devices. there seemed to also be more international suppliers available which makes good competition and innovative practice.

Software of interest

Capita emerging app by groupcall. This allows you to access SIMS from a mobile app on iPhone, iPad or Android devices. 2000 for Site license or 200 for one plus 99 per device there after.

Most publishers such as Hodder (stand D67) have some good resources and e-textbooks to put into your VLE for all GCSE subjects. Nelson Thornes (stand H6) are pushing their Kaboodle online blended learning system for secondary schools. Pie Corbett and Johnny Ball are there on Friday, think of a number.

Loxit (G20) have a good selection of laptop and mobile tablet storage units. To complement this Parat (stand S84) have lots of new parasync devices to allow the multiple synchronisation of devices such as iPads.

Zulogic have a new version of their popular Zu3D stop frame animation software and at BETT you can buy a copy with quite a nice webcam, green screen and plasticine for £50.

Clicker 6 (crick software stand F40) is out and has some some good new functionality. If you use clicker 5 there are special upgrade prices too.

The entwining and commenius project by the British Council are free and available online. They are at the upper level in gallery 1.

MLS (micro librarian systems stand C20) have a new solution which includes the loaning of ebooks via their librarian mobile app.

Google (stand E70) have some really good seminars throughout each day such as chrome books, google docs, google tools and so on.

 

Hardware of interest

SMART new interactive projector is worth a look. They are also unveiling the Notebook 11 software soon that will be available to schools which is fully HTML 5 and web compliant. It will be a free upgrade as well so kept an eye out.

Muraspec (stand J2) had some amazing paint that you could use on any wall or table which then becomes a wipe off whiteboard also good for short throw projection units. Great idea, low tech and pedagogically great value for money. ZU3D (stand k11) was showcasing their stop motion software. A cost effective solution for mulit layered animation and video/sound editing.

 

Courses

OCR Nationals course (new version) will be called the Cambridge National. This has gone through QCDA. Look at their website for further details for Key Stage 4 course information.

BT (stand J6) released their new ambassadors of IT course. It is an online course for Esafety and also for online mentoring.

Achievement for All have been funded by the DfE to create an inclusive curriculum and resources to support students with SEN and beyond. They are running some small scale conferencing events about ICT and SEN every day at 12:00 and 3:30 that are free to attend at Gallery room 1.

Media Smart (stand S61) has several excellent curriculum resources for teaching advertising and the media to 6-11year olds. pedagogy

 

Digital is not always best

I saw this blog post the other day and thought how apt it was as you can relate to all types of tech. So here it is in full:

Source: http://oneslidephotography.com/photography-in-the-digital-age-and-its-inhibiting-factors/

Photography has been rapidly growing. Now, the experience of learning photography has been continually made easier by the technologies of the digital age. The dark room skill, which was once half of the photography experience, has been eliminated by the digital editing process. Now, editing can be done using various editing softwares such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. Now the problem is, with all these ease of the digital age, why do some people feel the science of photography hasn’t evolved? Or do you also feel this way? This post may provide some enlightenment of some of the reasons barricading the progress of photography in this digital age.

1. The ever-growing reliance of digital post-editing.
Digital photo editing is much easier and simpler than editing the photograph in a dark room. But now, many people are trapped in the convenience it offers. Many photographers become spoiled in that they think lightly of the production of a good on-site photograph, thinking that the ordinary can always be made extraordinary later during the post editing. This then reduces the will to be well prepared before a shoot, like preparing proper lighting, background, and model’s make up. This means these photographers will spend much more time in front of the computer editing than concentrating on being the best on shoot. True, setting a professional photo shoot can take more time and more complicate setups, but this is where the art lies. More prepared photos result in a more natural look that will not require much digital post-editing.

2. Lack of understanding of the camera used.
Digital cameras, both point-and-shoots and DSLRS, are now more easily obtained and the range in price is wider than ever. There’s now a wide variation of different features for a range of different budgets, from the very cheap to the very expensive. And in this digital era, most cameras now have the Auto mode feature, where photographers can press the trigger button, and the camera will do the rest. With the comforts this Auto Mode brings, photographers are now pampered by the simplicity and therefor lacks the understanding of the concepts of Depth of Field, ISO, or the effects of shutter speeds. Download this DSLR Photography guide to learn more about the basics of photography.

3. Good photographs are produced by expensive/advanced cameras?
Many beginner photographers think that only expensive cameras can produce good photographs. Let’s rethink this opinion. Do expensive cameras automatically find interesting objects? Do advanced cameras automatically compose photos? Do expensive cameras find the best lighting for a photograph all on its own? The answers are of course a resounding “no.” However great the camera is, there’s always someone behind it that controls its production in creating a photograph. And that person behind the camera is called a photographer. Good photographers are considered good because of their creativity, in composing objects, talent in capturing a moment, and their knack in determining the best time for shooting photographs. Cameras are mere enablers for photographers to create their works of art. A great photographer can use even the most basic point-and-shoot cameras to produce amazing photographs. Try and browse works of photography before 1990. There were plenty of photographs created by great photographers using analog cameras that didn’t have any auto mode functions. When an amateur photographer meets an advanced camera, does this guarantee an extraordinary photograph? I highly doubt it. The most important thing is the “man behind the lens.” Practice often and continue learning, even the professionals were once amateurs.

4. Influence of the online communities.
With the development of the digital era, many photography communities emerge online on the Internet. Indeed, these communities are a great way to share works of photography and share knowledge amongst photographers. The problem now is, most members of the online photography community are amateur photographers. So most comments in these sites are from fellow amateur photographers. Do not get easily satisfied when approvals are given toward your photograph in these online photography communities. High approval ratings of your photographs in these sites do not necessarily mean your photographs are ready for the professional world. If you want to go into photography professionally, don’t just showcase your work in online communities. Develop your skill by entering photography competitions, or send your works to print medias because photographs that make it into a print media usually go through an intense selection process selected by professional editors. So if your photograph is chosen to print, that means your photograph has gotten the approval of a person highly experienced in the field of photography.