Remote Lessons in a Boarding School

landscape-1436398_1920Recently events have conspired to have me stuck in my flat whilst I should be teaching – never ask me about BT engineers… HULK SMASH!!!!!! I was able to manipulate it so these lessons were with my Sixth Form classes. I decided to take a leap and teach the lessons whilst at home, which, in my case, is on School grounds. Pupils could be at home or in class where my colleague would keep an eye on them. Most took the opportunity to stay at home. Continue reading “Remote Lessons in a Boarding School”

Remote Lessons in a Boarding School

Social Media and Me

I have been working with a colleague to create a social media website that aims to provide succinct advice to our pupils about the use of social networks, and what to do to get out of trouble. The site goes live in September and will form part of a wider social media campaign in boarding houses. The idea is to include the link on a series of posters Hannah created (embedded below). The aim is not to answer all the questions, but to provide accessible guidance on what to do if things go wrong, an overview of some of the main apps, and a few links to find out more. Continue reading “Social Media and Me”

Social Media and Me

New Mobile Phone – Hello Moto

Yes, bamboo...
Yes, bamboo…

Motorola Moto X – it’s made of bamboo! And some chatter about battery life at the end…

sad face

Sadly I smashed my Nexus 5 by throwing it out of my pocket onto the tarmac whilst riding my newly acquired second hand BMX (thank you Gumtree). Screen repair was possible because the device still worked, but it was getting a little slow, and so a new handset was required. I have an EE SIM only deal that includes calls, texts and 10Gb of data for £10.00 pcm with no contractual obligation. Therefore, I buy my handsets outright. In the past, I was aware of all the handsets on the market; the latest and greatest shiny!

Not now though. So, I needed to do a little research using the web and twitter and facebook to ask my friends and acquaintances what they were aware of. Suggestions of the Linux phone and iPhones came in, but the best value handset out there at the moment appeared to be the Motorola Moto X with Android. This appeals because it has the most *vanilla* android experience on the market, as well as a serious attempt to provide a top-end handset for less money, as documented here. So, I sourced the best price I could find on Amazon, but I noticed another seller was based 20 miles from where I live, so off I trundled to part with £285.00 for my new phone from HandTec.

One of my pupils is going to repair the Nexus 5 and then I’ll sell it to offset some of the cost of the new shiny.

I’m really pleased so far. All features seem good enough for me. Also, it has a couple of clever Moto tricks, for example, whenever it suspects I want to use it – pulled out of pocket, or picked up, or my hand passes over the screen – the lock screen comes on so there is no need to press the power button. Simple and efficient. It also locks quickly by itself but keeps checking to see if I am looking at the screen and remains active whilst I am.

I’m enjoying not having to be overly concerned about battery time. Isn’t it pathetic and manipulative that batteries are not replaceable in handsets? Battery life seems the most frequent complaint and, there is no doubt that battery performance deteriorates with time. Why are retailers not offering a battery swap? I presume because they are often selling new handsets and they would rather encourage you to part with more cash. A quick search shows how I could replace my own Nexus 5 battery, for less than £20.00. You can do it for iPhone 5 too with instructions on YouTube. But if you’d rather not do it yourself, you can search for a repair centre to do it for you.

New Mobile Phone – Hello Moto

YikYak GeoFence

YikYak App
YikYak App

What is YikYak?

YikYak is a geographically localised anonymous twitter-like app gaining popularity. It allows users to post, without identifying themselves, to up to 500 users in the local area. It is quite easy for offensive and abusive messages to reach users quickly. The messages can contain inflammatory or personal references which can be disruptive to a local community. This poses many potential issues for schools across the UK. Also, be aware of the Yak game. Users post messages and exchange their beloved banter of all sorts, never knowing if the message is legit or spoof, or who posted it. The appeal of YikYak is that it plays no part in your digital footprint; no care is required in what you post. The police, apparently, can identify who posted an update, should things escalate sufficiently to get them involved.

What can you do about it?

When we first applied for a geofence, via the YikYak site, it became apparent they are USA-based and the geofence service seemed to serve the other side of the Atlantic only. We heard nothing back from YikYak, but had not seen any usage in our area. Upon further investigation (using the app) in the new term, activity had began and some of it was particularly unpleasant and identifiable to our school. However, a geofence had been initiated, but it failed to cover all areas of our school. So, I have sent another request including grid references and postcodes of our most peripheral pupil occupied locations. Fingers crossed.

The geofence makes the app do this:

YikYak GeoFence
YikYak GeoFence

To do this for your school, enter the postcode for the building into Google maps, and the grid reference appears in the address bar, so you can copy and paste it. Below is an example for 10 Downing Street.

Using Google maps to locate a grid reference
Using Google maps to locate a grid reference
YikYak GeoFence

A Nice Gesture from Leap Motion

My school is hosting it’s annual open evening on Thursday. Last week I acquired a Leap Motion gesture sensor (3D motion control micro-sensor to be exact). It’s a very cool device that follows your fingers. This allows apps to be created that respond to hand and finger gestures. Leap Motion installs Air Space on your machine from which you can install lots of apps that developers have been building for all sorts of things from the popular game Cut The Rope to controlling your OS (Mac or Win). But when I asked for the drivers to be installed at school, we hit a problem. The licensing seems a little self-contradictory in places and the upshot was we could not install it. The following text is extracted from their EULA (highlighted by us):

You must create or have a Leap Motion Account in order to use the Airspace Store. You must keep your Leap Motion Account details secure and must not share them with anyone else.

If the Application does not include a Publisher EULA that specifies Application license rights, then following payment of the applicable fees for an Application, Publisher grants you the non-exclusive right, for the period selected by you in the case of a purchase for a rental period, and in other cases for as long as Leap Motion and the Publisher have rights to provide you that Application, to download or stream, in each case, solely as expressly permitted by Leap Motion via the Airspace Store and subject to the restrictions set forth in these Terms , copies of the applicable Application to your computer, and to view, use, and display the Application on your computer or as otherwise authorized by Leap Motion for your personal, non-commercial use only.

No Public Performance. You agree not to display content contained in Applications in whole or in part as part of any public performance or display even if no fee is charged (except where such use would not constitute a copyright infringement). Use of a tool or feature provided as an authorized part of the Airspace Store is permitted, provided that as you use the tool or feature as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

Sale, Distribution or Assignment to Third Parties.You may not sell, rent, lease, redistribute, broadcast, transmit, communicate, modify, sublicense or transfer or assign your rights to Applications to any third party without authorization, including with regard to any downloads of Applications that you may obtain through the Airspace Store.

So if purchased on a non-school account this would constitute redistribution to a 3rd party

Sharing.You may not use Applications as part of any service for sharing, lending or multi-person use, or for the purpose of any other institution, except as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

This is a problem in a networked multi-user environment

We were allowed to install the drivers but not any of the apps, which makes it all a bit anticlimactic. So, with five days to go until D-Day, I assembled this text in a google doc and sent it to them on twitter as well as emailing them through their website support service. Nil response. So 24 hours later, I tweeted them again stating my deadline in the tweet. Here’s a storify of the convo if you’re interested:

The result is a simple addendum to the EULA sent as an email attachment with a request to fill in the details of my school and return for them to sign and return to us. The list of apps we are allowed to use are:

  1. Touchless for Windows
  2. Touchless for Mac
  3. Flocking
  4. Lotus
  5. Kyoto
  6. Block 54

I do not have permission to share the addendum here. To summarise, it states an agreement to use the Leap Motion device and associated software in a multi-user school environment with only the above apps. #forthewin

Many thanks to the support of @PatParslow, @DannyNic, @DigitalMaverick and @SimFin. I like to think those few retweets helped motivate the @LeapMotion support team into action at what is a very busy time in their development. And thanks, of course, to the Leap Motion team for being flexible, responsive and helping us secure legit usage at school and making such a great piece of kit! I’ll write a review of the device itself when I have had spent some more time using it.

A Nice Gesture from Leap Motion