Creative Learning Systems

Creative Learning Systems logo
New company, new logo

Just a quick note – Cleveratom has closed (we went into voluntary liquidation after a run of particularly bad luck, and some less than satisfactory decisions). In the mean time I have set up a new company called ‘Creative Learning Systems’. Does just what it says on the tin…

www.clsystems.co.uk

I am very sorry to lose Cleveratom – such a cool brand! I wish my former colleagues well in their new endeavours, and will look forward to carrying on doing some excellent learning based consultancy, learning space design and web application development with Matthew Eaves as a co-director.

Since we have no development team anymore, we will be looking for excellent individuals who have a lot of skills and want to work in a dynamic way. If you know of anyone, do send me their info (or send them mine!).

provisiondirect, buy video camera, camcorder purchase

Today I was caught up with the need to buy a decent camcorder and a few accessories. In the past we have used Sony HVR-Z1 cameras (the same used on the BBC Blast tour) which are well featured and durable, and produce great shots for video work. Sadly, they are now discontinued, and although there is a strong second-hand market for them, it is sometimes better to upgrade.

So up steps the Sony HVR-Z5. Almost identical, but with better optics, more considered ergonomics and additional settings in almost every feature it is a direct replacement and all of the Z1 accessories will still fit. This looked like the right piece of kit, but who to buy from? With almost every site in a google search for camcorders returning some price comparison or review site it is easy to find these things reasonably cheap (OK – 2,500 isn’t cheap, exactly). The thing is, they are mostly offered for sale with the standard one year warranty, and I had hoped for slightly more.

As usual, for all things video we call a select list of suppliers. Today we were delighted with the service from Jeremy at provisiondirect.co.uk. This company has an enviable reputation for great value and excellent product range. We have recommended them to clients looking to purchase kit, and indeed we have made one or two modest purchases there ourselves. Today was the day for buying again!

Jeremy is one of the most knowledgeable and friendly folk when it comes to pro and prosumer video gear. He is often very busy, but when you do get him, he finds the most brilliant pieces of kit for you, and tells you exactly ‘how it is’ with everything. After talking to Jeremy today I was satisfied that they still provide one of the best routes to buying kit, and the value he gives is second to none. So it was that we bought a Z5 with 2 year warranty at probably the most competitive price available. Not content with that Jeremy also added a few extras for us, which was brilliant… unexpected and not asked for. That’s the kind of person you are dealing with – full of information and very willing to help.

It is with great pleasure that I recommend to anyone looking to purchase a decent video camera, lighting, accessories, sound equipment, anything related to video, really provisiondirect.co.uk.

iPhone and Google calendars, sync Google and iPhone, Nuevasync

It is really not pleasant when you read that your iPhone will sync with Google calendars, and that iPhone software version 3.0 will allow you to have up o 25 calendars at a time, to find out that it actually doesn’t work as you think it might.

The instructions from our friends at Google are simple enough – use MS Exchange, add in your account details and you are good to go… but must first enable mobile devices in your Google dashboard (obviously this doesn’t apply to a personal Google account, only a business or academic one). In the instructions it lovingly tells you all will be well, but doesn’t mention what to do if all is decidedly unwell.

Every time I have tried to do this, I have managed to get my main default calendar only. It doesn’t matter if it is iPhone 2.0 or 3.0… still the same. And still the frustration mounts!

Having upgraded to version 3.0 today, I was fired up and ready to try a final time. Not easily put off when facing defeat, I tried for three hours, all to no avail. What a waste of time. I then read some other blogs and came across a third party service – www.nuevasync.com – and since it is free, decided to try it.

Lo and behold, after typing in the right details to Nuevasync, my iPhone shows ALL of my calendars, not just the general one. Glory be!

Now, if Nuevasync can do this, I’m pretty sure it is possible for Google to do it. I don’t see why we need a third party in the loop here, but for goodness sake, nobody let Nuevasync go out of business!

I now get to see all of my calendars in iCal on my phone, can add events and they sync to the main google calendar, add others, and have others add to my diary (yup, it’s a preference setting for work based calendars)… it ALL works as it should.

If you are as frustrated as I was, go to the Nuevasync web site, sign up for a free account and edit the settings. You’ll be running in about three minutes where before you were plodding.

Just be a little careful with your contacts and email though – if you enable these through Nuevasync, you *will* lose everything off your phone when the first sync happens. Be sure that you have got everything you need backed up, or in Google… or both!

School Design Awards

One of the nice things I am involved with is being part of the national school design awards evaluation panel. My job is to sift through the entries and comment on how well they have incorporated ICT for learning, and engaged the students as part of the stakeholder engagement process (clue here is the word ‘process’, as opposed to the word ‘event’!)

This year I can honestly say the quality of entries was exceptional. The eventual entries recommended to the final judges were each capable of winning outright. It is fortunate that we didn’t have to make that call!

The awards ceremony is to be held at the Emirates stadium in June and I am really looking forward to if! A chance to put on the black tie outfit, but also to meet the people behind the visions for each school.

The picture shows the evaluation in full swing. It was a tough day, but extremely worthwhile. I can’t say who the winners are (yet) but watch this space… Or the space on the BCSE website 🙂

Anglia Ruskin Summerschool 2009

The beginning of May has been the time when Anglia Ruskin invite prospective students in to experience university life. Each year we have worked with them to run a mini project using digital technologies, and this year was no different.

The theme was ‘broadcast journalism’ as in previous years and our role was to lead the project and work with the students to teach them some of the skills for video capture and edit, presenting, camerawork and production. We also get to define the task, too.

This year it seemed obvious to have the group make a five minute news story on the impact of swine flu. Working in small groups the students were given a variety of tasks, such as gathering vox pops, researching the facts, organising the schedule and presenting to camera.

It was a tough challenge. From no experience whatsoever we expected the young people to create a news broadcast and present it live over the Internet by 3pm on the second day.

It is therefore a real delight to say that they did. It was a close call, but they rose to the challenge and managed to produce a very credible result. Given that this was their first ever attempt, and the time constraints are huge, I think the result is yet another example of the stellar performance of young people when given the opportunity to be creative. Getting the level of challenge right is incredibly important, but giving enough space for creativity to thrive is more so…

If you want to see the result, have a look on YouTube for Anglia Ruskin Summerschool 2009. I will link to that from here as soon as I can.