So long Instagram, it was fun

Yesterday I switched off another network, Instagram.

There are a few reasons for this. It was inevitable, really. So how did it get to this and why?

  • Whilst I used to love the filters, and making my relatively mundane photos look fun or interesting, I am fed up with seeing everything else through a filter.
  • The search was pretty useless; you couldn’t save a search, there were accounts or #hashtags I wanted to keep track of but not follow, etc.
  • The app would regularly hog over 1GB of storage, and on a 16GB iPhone that’s a whole heap of space I could use for something else.
  • Until this last week there was no two-factor authentication, and lots of stories of people hacked and locked out of the accounts.
  • Facebook owns it, therefore we’re all feeding into the Facebook approach to security and data access.
  • Spam. At the end I was getting 5-10 likes per photo from spam accounts selling 1000’s of likes or followers, usually using a busty woman as their avatar, and with a randomly generated username. I was also blocking 2-5 accounts per day who started following me. They were inappropriate or accounts (not people, they were mostly bots fishing – of phishing – for followers and likes) I didn’t want to be associated with.
  • I don’t ‘do’ selfies. 
  • Instagram T&Cs state it can use my photos whenever and wherever it wants.
  • Ads. Oh, the bloody ads and promoted accounts. And the fake accounts.
  • Everyone I know/knew on Instagram I am also connected with on either Twitter or Facebook, so I will probably see their (your) filtered snaps at some point.
  • The pressure to post something interesting. Regularly.

I deleted the app a week ago. Initially I missed it, really missed it, as I used to search for things of interest: motorbikes, lifestyle, research places, etc. But I can find the exact same things elsewhere, I don’t actually need Instagram for that. I can still see their Instagram photos using the web interface anyway [wink]. Examples: here and here.

I started using Instagram probably about 6 years ago (I can’t check the exact date now, the account is deceased), shortly after it launched, and used it mainly for conference and workshop activity. Over the years I do less of that now, but still took more photos of family, locations, food, etc. (like everyone else). But, and here’s the real reason, I was becoming more and more desperate to try and find something new to do or somewhere new to go just so I could check-in (I dumped FourSquare back in 2012) or tag myself there, and share a photo even I found pretty boring. My phone stored the original photo and the filtered version so, unless I deleted them off my phone in a vain attempt at recovering some lost storage, I’ve still got the photos.

It’s kind of sad really, this is all that’s left … “Sorry, this page isn’t available.” I kind of wished I had the option to ‘leave a message’ when I disabled the account, leaving one photo as some sort of tribute to the 2.5k or so photos I created in Instagram.

What do other people say about quitting Instagram? Read this and this and this and this. Most search results are of the likes of Bieber (I can’t believe I’ve just included him on my blog. I feel dirty) or Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley, but for reasons of harassment. This is another reason I am considering my online activity. I’ve not been the subject of anything like this – I’ve had a few ‘tough’ tweets from someone who didn’t agree with me, but that’s part and parcel of a generic conversation, not only online activity, so I accept that.

So, if I’ve taken this step, is any other network at risk of being culled? Well, yes, I’ve already written about my (current) mood and Twitter. I’ve also talked about deleting my Facebook account too – I deleted the app a year ago and only use a browser to access it now. I’ve not deleted FB, yet, because there are friends I keep in touch with only through FB. But let’s be honest, it’s not really keeping the friendship alive, it’s just keeping in very-lose touch, stalking them almost. I might just take the plunge, posting one last update saying

“I’m going to delete my Facebook account. if you want to stay in touch you have one week to send me a message or reply saying you want to stay in touch. We’ll exchange phone numbers, email and postal addresses, and stay in touch the nice old way. And arrange to chat and meet up more regularly too. How about it?”

Here are some articles about breaking up with Facebook: here and here

Image source: Pexels (CC0)

Creating learning content on your phone: Videos

Creating resources on my phone is not something I usually do, unless it’s a tweet, photo for Instagram, document for my book projects, or videos for family and friend events. I general consume on my phone, and I wish I created more. Which is why I was interested to get my hands on this little bit of kit once it arrived in the office. The DJI Osmo Mobile.

“Osmo Mobile turns your smartphone into a smart motion camera, making every moment you shoot look smooth, professional and ready to share. Shoot cinematic videos anytime, or use its intelligent functions to track your subject, capture stunning motion timelapses or even stream a moment live around the globe.”

The process to start using it is easy (you’ll need the DJI app – iOS and Android available) and a fully charged phone and Osmo Mobile. The instruction book is quite thin on the ground about ‘how’ to use it but the process of learning the process of creating good quality video is relatively easy. It’s not quite as easy as point-and-click, but it is fairly close. With most phones up to about 3 years old the ability to record high-definition video is standard, the only downside I’ve ever come across has been the user, the person holding the phone, the one swaying or jittering the footage. This gets rid of all that. The battery in the Osmo Mobile is good for a reported 4.5 hours and will probably outlast your phones if you do a lot of filming. As with all video apps the biggest issue and problem I faced when trying it out was lack of storage on my phone – I had to delete numerous apps to free up enough space, and even then I had to stop filming to view the footage and delete what I didn’t want to keep before I could continue.

CNET DJI Osmo Mobile

CNET DJI Osmo Mobile

Image source: CNET DJI Osmo Mobile review

Three features I love about the Osmo Mobile is the ability (not tested yet) to use the front-facing camera for selfie-style recordings (stationary or on the move) and tracking (highlight a face or object and move around it, the camera will do it’s best to focus on it and keep it in the centre of the frame). The third is the timelapse feature, the ability to create stunning (and stable) timelapse videos. Whilst these are more interesting from a personal point of view, being able to create holiday or family videos, there will no doubt be students who are clever enough to add their own take on this as part of their project files. If you’ve an example please share it with me?

What would I use this for? While the full range of features may not be applicable for creating learning resources I can easily see how it could be used by students in the kinds of videos they are being increasingly asked to they create for projects. Using the gimbal for or by staff to record guest interviews, podcasts or ‘vlogs’ could be a great use; ensuring a stable and focused film that a handheld device doesn’t usually offer (even keeping a GorillaPod handy isn’t enough when you don’t have anything the right height to fix it to) to location-based filming for case studies (office, street, warehouse, etc.). Anywhere you think you’d ever want to record something, then this can help provide stabilisation and fluidity that is often lacking from self-recorded materials.

Next would be, as I’m sure you can hear in the second video below when I’m outside, to try the RØDE VideoMic Pro. It looks like it should work, but it could prove to be difficult if it prevents the movement of the three-axis gimbal. At least DJI and RØDE look like they’re already on the case and have produced a version, it’s just not clear if it works with the OSM Mobile.

Attempt one: Internal walking

Attempt two: outside walk-and-pan

UPDATE: I took the DJI OSMO Mobile with me on a recent family outing, here’s the results. I am especially please with the phone camera itself, the clarity and colours are so rich, which only goes to highlight the movement (or lack of it) and stability the OSMO Mobile gives these home videos. My only concern, and the one downside, is the feeling of vulnerability on carrying my expensive phone like this, that the OSMO Mobile is cumbersome to carry when not being used and that it requires a bit of juggling to set up (especially if you’re out and about and don’t want to leave your phone in the cradle). Enjoy!

How has technology transformed the classroom?

Last month I was asked to provide a few lines about how I believe Apple has transformed classrooms. Unfortunately for the organisers I didn’t want to concentrate on just what one company, or even one single piece of technology., has done to ‘transform’ or enhance the classroom. I also don’t agree we should concentrate on one single entity or company as being more important than another. So I wrote a more generic piece about my experiences with changes in technology, as well as its use, who uses it, and why, in classrooms. From this they could take a few choice snippets as it suited them. Here’s what I wrote:

“Classroom learning, and for that matter learning in general, has been transfdormed by the rise of mobile computing. Smartphones and tablets have brought about the ‘always-on’ availability of anyone with the funds to buy the devices. Being connected to the Internet enables interaction and engagement with networks of learners from any locations, from coffee shops to shopping centres, to libraries and schools – it is this that has transformed the use of technology for learning.

The rise of the App Store, whilst not a ‘technology’ per se, has brought about such a change in approach and delivery of learning resources to teachers, parents, and children – at no other time have so many passionate and talented individuals been able to design and implement such a varied range of learning resources, and have the ability to reach a global audience. This is the power of the App Store (once you filter out the dross and poorly designed Apps).”

You can read the published version below and on their website, along with five other perspectives from the likes of Erin Klein and Shelly Sanchez in the first part of the How has Apple transformed your classroom series of articles:

For University of Warwick Business School eLearning Consultant, David Hopkins, there’s no denying that recent technology has transformed learning, specifically with the rise of mobile computing. For Hopkins, smartphones and tablets bring about an “always-on” availability, and by developing the iPhone and iPad, Apple has contributed to this in the classroom.

Easy access to the Internet is enabling interaction and engagement such as, “networks of learners from any location, from coffee shops to shopping centers to libraries and schools,” Hopkins explains.
The rise of the App Store, he adds, has helped bring about this change in approach via the delivery of learning resources to teachers, parents, and children. “At no other time have so many passionate and talented individuals been able to design and implement such a varied range of learning resources, and have the ability to reach a global audience,” says Hopkins.

What do you think? Has Apple single-handedly transformed the learning and classroom landscape, or are they part of a more ‘organic’ movement? Is there a moment where you can see, from your own experience and perspective, a more profound shift in the use of technology in your classes?If so, what was it and when did it happen?

Image source: James Harrison (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Top 5 productivity tips for Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate is a powerful eLearning authoring tool which allows you to create several types of engaging and interactive eLearning courses. To make the most of this tool, here are the top 5 productivity tips I’ve followed over the years. Go ahead and use them if you like. 1. Take my advice — Always begin […]

The Unsung Tech Hero: iPod Classic

I’ve had (and still got, somewhere) an iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, and my iPod Classic. Why am I still favouring the unpopular Classic over the other more fashionable or stylish iPods. Easy … storage.

My music iTunes library is over 64gb, and the Classic (I have a capacity of an advertised 120gb – realistically only about 113gb) was the only decently priced option to store it all.

And Apple have killed it off. It’s probably in favour of the touchscreen rather than the out-of-date click-wheel (I still like it though), but there isn’t an alternative with the capacity for my whole library. This means I’m going to be mega annoyed when/if my Classic develops faults and I have to look a the quite frankly inferior options.

I have my Classic in the car during the week so I can listen to something I want (without the inane and annoying radio DJ dribble/banter), and it’s in the kitchen plugged in to the stereo at the weekend providing background music and a lively environment.

I have playlists for different moods, different stages of my musical journey, compilations for different tastes, etc. I still like to listen to an album in the order it was produced, I’m slowly digitising my 400+ vinyl collection so I can listen to it again (in all it’s vinyl LP crackles and scratches) and relive those awful teenage years. And my Classic makes this happen.

My Classic gets used, and get’s used a lot, and has done for over 6 years now. There’s nothing wrong with it. Do I now have to explain to my kids about the demise of vinyl LPs, cassettes, CDs, and now the MP3 player? Has it come to that? Is MP3 dead, long live the App?

A quick search shows the URL www.apple.com/uk/ipodclassic, but you won’t get the Classic, you are shown the Touch. I’ve nothing against the Touch, I still have mine at home, but it cannot hold anywhere near the 64gb of my music at once. I have an iPhone so I don’t need the apps. I know from some people the way to deal with this is to continually change what’s on it, depending on mood, etc. But I can do that quite easily on the Classic just by selecting a different playlist, artist, album, genre, etc. I also don’t want to keep connecting and reconnecting it to my old and creaky laptop.

So, is music & MP3 storage no longer important to Apple? What are you doing to hold your large (?) iTunes collections?

What Apple giveth (and get’s us hooked on), Apple taketh away (and leaves us high and dry).

Oh, one other thing – I stopped buying music from iTunes years ago. I still have a fair bit of music in Apple DRM’d format, but the vast majority of it is from my CDs or bought elsewhere online. Not only are the alternatives DMR-free, it is nearly always cheaper on Amazon or Play.

  • I see a whole raft of iPod Classics are now on eBay. I can pick up a 6th gen 160gb iPod Classic for £100 … tempting just to do it and have it in reserve for when this trusted piece of tech needs replacing.

iPod Classic

Image source: David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Book Review: “Always On”

It’s been a while since my last book review, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been keeping up to date with my reading list – if anything the list is getting longer (and the days shorter).

Brian Chen: Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us InMy latest addition to the list is from Brian Chen – “Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future – and Locked Us In“.

It is clear to see all around us just what impact smartphones have had on society and, in my area of interest, learning. It has enabled truly mobile learning to take place – in the sense of mobile materials as well as mobile individuals – as well as interactions when we, the learner, wants it, not just when the course director wants it. Apple has taken something, developed it, marketed it, and let it loose on the world. You could argue about Apple and Steve Jobs’ intent and whether they knew what they had when it was first released, but it is the inclusion of the App Store and the developments the global community made that have helped steer and mould the direction the iPhone and subsequent smartphones took. 

“The iPhone unlocked a reality in which we can potentially have anything we want, anytime and anywhere. And as a result, everything has changed – from how people interact socially to how students learn in classrooms, and from how we do our jobs to how companies make products.”

With chapters like ‘Smarter or Dumber?’, ‘Disconnected’, and ‘iSpy: The End of Privacy’ this book is a comprehensive look at not only the technology but our own willingness to embrace it and include it in all aspects of our daily activities.

“There is part of our digital lives that we can’t hack around, no matter how hard we try. As always-on participants, we trust that for-profit companies will use out data responsibly and ethically, and there is close to zero regulation over what businesses are allowed to do with our personal information. What are Microsoft or Google going to do, for example, with all these photos people posted everywhere? What if your photo showed up in a series of advertisements, or what if you were caught doing something somewhat sketchy and it made its way to a blog? And who is to say that smaller, seemingly innocent private companies won’t sell our information to larger groups, such as health insurance companies or marketing organizations?”

There is something for everyone in this book, and plenty to take away when looking at education, students, learning, and the always-on mentality of how we use the devices we own. With stories and anecdotes about games being developed in bedrooms that earn the developers thousands, if not millions, of dollars, to inspiring tales of bravery or survival, the iPhone and associated apps have made the device and the always-on mentality so integral to all parts of our lives and daily routines.

“Wolley’s incident ['Dan Wolley: Buried in Haiti rubble'] highlights an incredible social implication of the iPhone and other similar smartphones: an Internet-enabled device, with access to a wealth of apps offering a multitude of utilities, can potentially transform a person into an always-connected, all-knowing being. In Wolley’s case, an iPhone app turned him into an amateur medic that helped him survive a natural disaster.”

With learning and teaching being represented throughout the book there are some simple, yet effective, examples of how the smartphone revolution is having, or should be having, an affect on classrooms and how we use them, view them, and ensure they are used as an advantage, not distraction:

“If we can access any information anytime, anywhere in the world with a smartphone, then the way we learn in a classroom is due for an upgrade. Young, bright students (and, heck, the dimwitted ones too) are fully aware that the Internet opens a portal to a live stream of information that billions of minds crowdsource.”

All in all this is good book – heavy on the concentration on the iPhone itself (but then it’s expected as the book is about the iPhone, and the author writes for Wired on Apple products and news) but there is plenty here for me about the general trend of how mobile devices is having, and has had, an impact on modern cultures.

Tips on running a Tweet-chat

Last week I was involved in the second iteration / cohort / running of the BYOD4L short course. Along with a number of colleagues we ran a series of tweet-chats each evening along the course themes – timed between 8-9pm the tweet-chats involved facilitators posing questions and ‘facilitating’ the responses and direction the chat took.

Taking is back to the beginning … what is a tweet-chat?

“A TweetChat is a virtual meeting or gathering on Twitter to discuss a common topic. The chat usually lasts one hour and will include some questions to stimulate discussion.” – BYOD4L Tweet-chat

“A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with these interests.” Social Media Examiner

I thought I’d write up my experiences of running three tweet-chats now: two for BYOD4L, and one for the Leicester Forensic Science FutureLearn MOOC. Each uses a different approach, but both very valid and engaging for the students / participants as well as the course team(s).

Generic Tips:
Irrespective of the approach you take (question or ask-an-expert, see below) there are some generic tips you should be aware of, both to help you run the tweet-chat and for the participants to understand what to expect. You should also post these somewhere for the participants to view – here are the one’s for the BYOD4L course.

These include:

  • Explain: make sure you explain a little about Twitter and a tweet-chat, how it works, and why you’re doing it. Not everyone will understand it they way you might.
  • Hasthag: advertise the hashtag well in advance. Remind participants they can save the hashtag after they’ve searched for it on Twitter, it’s easier to find on multiple devices when they need it. Keep the hashtag as short and as unique as you can (remember the 140 character limit!) so as to leave as much room in your own tweet and your participant tweets for the actual content.
  • Account: Consider having a course-specific account to use for posing the questions rather than your own personal one. This is good if you will have multiple facilitators engaging the participants, but is not necessary if it’s you on your own (see support below).
  • Support: If you know the engagement level will be low you can probably handle it on your own. If you think there may be more people engaging (there is not figure here but my experience is that more than 10-20 participants will make it hard to handle on your own) then get support from colleagues.
  • Participants: participants will need an account to engage and join in the tweet-chat, but not if they just want to watch the tweets. Highlight this as not everyone has, or wants, a Twitter account.
  • Time: Try and arrange for a time suitable to your audience, remembering the differences in time zones if your audience is international. You wont find a time to suit everyone but if you show willingness to take this into account when you set it up it’ll reflect well on you.

Tweet-chat

  • Reminders: Use the accounts that will be used during the tweet- chat (your own and / or the course account) to remind those watching and using the hashtag about the event, time, etc. I like to use a few tweets in the days leading up to the event, the morning before it, one hour before and the minutes leading up to it.

Tweet-chat

  • Announce: Begin the tweet-chat with a welcome message.
  • Close: Close / end your tweet-chat with a closing message, statement, or call to complete a tweet-chat survey. If you are running these regularly then remember to highlight the next one. Don’t forget to link to or tweet about the archive.

Tweet-chat

Oh, and don’t forget .. make sure every device you are intending to use has all updates applied, is fully charged (plugged in even), and that you even have a back-up to hand in case one fails! I have used a laptop, iPad, and iPhone on all the tweet-chats I’ve facilitated and at least one has caused a problem (usually laptop) which meant I’ve had to use a back-up device.

Tweet-chat

Team-led Tips (BYOD4L)
In this approach the team develops and delivers the questions on the agreed and advertised hashtag, in this case #BYODLchat.

  • Delivery: It’s up to you if you advertise the questions in advance or use the hashtag to build up the excitement. I prefer to release the questions one at a time, leaving between 10-15 minutes for answers and engagement.

Tweet-chat

  • Questions: I have found it really useful to use a Google Doc in collaboration with the people I facilitate the tweet-chat with to generate the questions. In a one hour tweet-chat consider 4 or 5 questions, leaving about 10 minutes for each. This will enable the question to filter through the Twitter timeline (not everyone’s devices updates quickly) and for participants to engage with the question, you, and each other. Agree on who will run the official account (if you use one) and who will tweet the questions first. Get this wrong and it could be very confusing for participants.

Tweet-chat

Tweet-chat

  • Answers: In your question remind participants to start their answers with A1, A2, etc. (not forgetting the hashtag). Without either of these it’ll be difficult for you or them to keep track of the conversation.

Tweet-chat

  • Conversation: If you want to continue a conversation with an individual you can continue to use the hashtag of it’s relevant to the whole cohort of participants. If it’s not then carry on, but without the hashtag.
  • Distraction: It’s probably worth making sure everything else on your device is closed down (Facebook, email, etc.) unless you need it.
  • Links: Keep a browser open with your website and / sources already loaded. During the tweet-chat you may want to put a link in to a tweet so by having it already to hand makes it easier (and quicker).
  • Noise: Don’t try and read and reply to every tweet, you wont be able to. In one hour there can be many hundred’s of of tweets and you will end up a wreck if you try and do everything. This is why you may need to engage fellow facilitators to help the session run smoothly.

Participant-led Tips (MOOC) 
This approach is the complete opposite of the above – here the participants pose the questions in an ‘ask the expert‘ type of approach, much like a Reddit ‘ask me anything’ (AMA), in this case #FLForensicsLeic.

  • Begin: Use your own Twitter account for the answers as this is an opportunity for you to show your own ‘expert’ status. It will help build your profile and network and show your experience and expertise in the area. Make sure, in the documentation introducing the tweet-chat, you mention the names and accounts that will be used, and that the Twitter profile it up to date with both professional photo and biography.

Tweet-chat

  • Questions: The questions will come from the participants, so there is nothing here to prepare. But you do need to be prepared for anything, from any direction. You can easily manage this by ignoring tweets that are not related to the topic you’ve advertised.

Tweet-chat

  • Resources: Be ready with resources (or have someone else on hand to deal with this for you). In the case of the tweet above (ref. Jeremy Bamber) a link to background details or information will help everyone else using the tweet-chat.

Tweet-chat

  • Conversation: Considering the number of individual questions coming at you in this style approach of tweet-chat it may be worth advertising before the event that continuing discussion will only happen after the timed event has closed. This will free you up to concentrate on the event and questions, and remove any bad feeling a participant may have that you didn’t reply immediately.
  • Hashtag: The hashtag is all the more important on this approach as activity can be very difficult to follow – the more participants asking questions, the harder it will be to follow changes.
  • Team: You will definitely need a team to help you here. The more people you have asking the questions, the more cluttered the hashtag will become and the more difficult it will be to identify a conversation or continuation of a tweet. If you think you will have a lot of questions then it may be worth considering alternative technologies (e.g. Google Hangout) and not a tweet-chat.
  • Archive: Using one of the archive tools (e.g. FLForensicsLeic Storify) you can arrange the tweets in collected form, therefore question and responses (and extended conversations if appropriate) collated.

Other formats
It is possible to run other formats for your tweet-chat (open, free-for-all, etc.) but I have not run any of these. I have, however, been involved in a generic free-for-all when the community directed the questions to each other and answered them. Needless to say it was bedlam – difficult to see the questions, difficult to work out responses or answers, nye on impossible to follow a topic or conversation.

If you’ve experience in any of these please share it below, positive or negative.

Image source: mkhmarketing (CC BY 2.0)

Review: iPhone Photography Kit

I like the ever-present ability of using my phone to take photos when I’m out and about, whether it’s for family and friends, to post to Instagram, or to capture opportunities at a conference or event I’m at. I wish, however, I had more options when it came to taking different photo styles and/or zooms. This is why I looked around at the different kits available for my iPhone, and decided to make use of the offer from the Cult Of Mac website for the ‘Ultimate iPhone Photography Lens Kit’.

The option of ‘quickly’ clipping on a lens for better zoom, or a wider viewing angle appealed to me – as well as the reduced price of $69 (down from $199)!

This package arms you with six different lenses so you can take virtually any kind of photo in any imaginable situation – from microscopic organisms to full-blown landscapes. Bundle Includes: 8x telephoto and 60x microscope lens with special case, the fisheye, macro/wide angle, and 2x telephoto lenses, a tripod, and a lens wallet to keep it all together.

I’ve had a short time to play with the kit, so what have I achieved and what do I think?

  • The case is useful but not good enough to hold all the lenses without some falling out. You’ll need to get yourself a bag or something else to hold them in if you take them all with you.
  • Don’t look for the instructions, there aren’t any. There is a small sheet of paper a with faded list of what the package contains, and the lenses that need the sticky/magnetic ring to connect has a short guide on what you need to do, but you really need to figure it out on your own.
  • The tripod is average. I ditched this and used my GorillaPod instead – it is more sturdy and more useful when out and about in different situations.
  • The magnetic ring that needs to be applied to your phone (you stick the ring to the phone and the lens uses the magnet to attach) is not the strongest of adhesive – I found the ring becoming unstuck depending on how I tried to remove the lens. In one instance the lens also fell off.

Examples of the lenses – I’ve used an app called Layout to put the original and lens-edited photos together, so you can compare the results, including the vignettes:

8x Telephoto

This lens is huge and requires the clip-on case to be used and the lens screwed in to it. As you can see from the unedited image there is something wrong with the placement or lens, of which there is nothing I can do about it.

iPhone Photography - x8 Telephoto

Microscope

iPhone Photography - Microscope

Fisheye

iPhone Photography - Fish Eye Lens

Wide-turn Macro

iPhone Photography - Wide-turn Macro

x2 Telephoto

iPhone Photography - x2 Telephoto

If you opt for this kit, or others like it, taker special note of anything like this you see – “You can get a bit of vignetting when using the lenses since you are stretching the focal length of your fixed phone lens. Note that the vignetting can be cropped out in any photo-editing app.” I found I needed to edit every photo to remove the worst of the vignette and make the photos more useable or worth sharing with either family members or online.

Ultimately it’s a lot of fun, but for me it’s barely worth the $69 / £43. If I’m out and about on my own, and have a bag or large pocket for the lenses then it could have been fun and interesting to see what kind of photos I can get, but the time needed to get the case clipped on, tripod set up or lens centred on the camera to reduce the vignette around the photos edge, and editing to remove the unwanted edge effects means it’s not practical enough to use on the spur of the moment photo opportunities. The colour also seems to have leached out somewhat too.

I have been reading the iPhone photography / iPhoneography ebook by Misho Baranovic. It has proved useful in basic techniques in framing the shot and some help with post-editing software, but the version I have is based on iPhone 4 and apps that are now 1 or 2 years old. There are other books like this which are possibly more up to date but this is a good one to start with.

Photowall from Chromecast App

Photowall from ChromecastPhotowall for Chromecast (iPhone/iPad): I recently wrote about the Chromecast I bought and have been trying out. This App, Photowall, is probably the best app currently available for schools and classroom activities.

Photowall enables students in (and outside) the classroom to ‘send’ images to the TV screen.

“Photowall for Chromecast is a new Chrome Experiment that lets people collaborate with images on the TV – using phones or tablets. Anyone can take a picture and send it to a Photowall to instantly see it on the big screen.” 

Photowall from Chromecast (free):
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photowall-for-chromecast/id814088518

All you need, from what I can see and have tested, is one device that can connect and ‘open’ the Photowall through the Chromecast. Once the Photowall has been created anyone can connect to the website on g.co/photowall, enter the passcode for that particular ‘wall, and send images to the screen.

  • Select images, doodle/draw on them, add a caption, and/or send to the ‘wall.
  • Send the code you’re provided when you create your Photowall to others you want to participate and they can send their own photos to the ‘wall – use the g.co/photowall link.
  • Save your ‘wall in a YouTube video for posterity.

You don’t have any input into the layout, length, music track, etc/ used to create the YouTube video, it’s all done behind the scenes. Here’s an example created from my first Photowall experiment:

YouTube: David’s Photowall

Here’s some images of Photowall: setting it up, using it, etc.

Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast

#BYOD4L Day 5: Creating and engaging

The final day for the short BYOD4L framework is here – creating! With the guidance and preparation of the below, we knew we were in for an interesting time:

“We want to encourage you to explore learning through ‘making’ – meaning how you can use smart devices and applications to develop original and meaningful outputs as an individual or within groups. An opportunity to find ways to express yourself creatively and develop personal learning activities that are relevant and meaningful to your needs.”

The first thing I saw on the final day of BYLD4L was Chrissi Nerantzi saying we needed to check we could tweet pictures. So I did. 8:31 this picture was tweeted as I waited for my day to start (a rare peaceful moment before the students arrived and made some noise): 

BYOD4L - CreatingIt seemed the Twitter chat was going to be a case of sharing both thoughts and locations … how mobile are we when we engage in it?

When asked during the chat (the Storify archive is here) what I was going to take away from the learning experience I was admittedly in the middle of getting children ready for bed, so my immediate thoughts included the difficulty of allocating enough time to really do the course and my involvement justice. I was amazed at the dedication and creativity of participants (and slightly in awe of them too) and enjoyed just reading the tweets for a while, not wanting to spoil the flow.

But, thinking creatively about BYOD4L I thought I’d represent my experience as an ‘avatar, something  could share and that others could enjoy too. After sitting looking at a blank screen for an age, trying to think how I’d do this, I turned to my Apps and decided on Foldify, where you can use the templates to draw, colour, and personalise a character or shape.

So, here’s my contribution – download the printable PDF (BYOD4L – Foldify Character / @hopkinsdavid), print it, cut it out, then stick together to make a little #BYOD4L character!

BYOD4L Avatar / @hopkinsdavid

Updated: here he is, in all his glory (my printer needs some new ink, so he’s a little pale):

BYOD4L - Foldify Character / @hopkinsdavid

If you have the Foldify App you can search ‘BYOD4L’ and find the avatar and download / modify your own! If you do please upload your own example back to Foldify, make sure it’s searchable with the BYOD4L name/tag, and leave a comment / image / link below to share it.