Nortel LearniT

Way back in October 2004, I mentioned Nortel Networks’ Kidz Online, which I thought was a great resource for youth wishing to build their IT skills. The resource is freely provided by Nortel, however, I had issues that it was tied so tightly to Microsoft Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer.

However, I’ve recently received word from Nortel that their new resource titled Nortel LearniT will be officially launched at the end of June. And it looks like the new resource will be much more sensitive to proprietary platform issues.

“To address these issues and further embed technology into teacher Professional Development and Core Curriculum subjects, Nortel LearniT was created. The new site is being designed to support multiple platforms and offer new features such as dynamic lesson plans that link state and provincial standards/expectations, dynamic linking of relevant content, as well as support for RealVideo in addition to MediaPlayer.”

Well this sounds promising, but I will have to wait to see if there is another BIGGER issue addressed. Taking a quick look at the site, the only tutorial shown thus far is … ugggh … MS Front Page. So Nortel, take note. If you want to build a resource that is truly useful for schools, think also about multi-platform CONTENT. I’d love to see some basic Linux or Open Office support from a company that has the resources to provide quality resources. The ICT world is in the midst of revolution, and the leaders of this movement are inspired by OPEN thinking rather than proprietary allegiances. In developing resources such as this, the choice can be made to either preserve the old regime, or join with those that aim to improve both the quality and access to the new ICT. Corporations that support the movement will be those in the end most valued and benefitted by education and the critical consumer.

Broadcast Machine

I’ve just noticed “Broadcast Machine” which is open-source website software that will allow individuals to easily publish video content as torrents.

For several years, I’ve been on the search for a better way of publishing student video projects without killing our server space and bandwidth. Torrent technology is very promising to alleviate bandwidth issues and provide an alternative mechanism for hosting video. Combined with a host such as OurMedia, Broadcast Machine could be promising.

From their site:
“Broadcast Machine is software for your website that can publish fullscreen video files to thousands, using torrent technology to reduce or eliminate bandwidth costs. It is free, open source, and designed for easy installation. Broadcast Machine features an intuitive interface, integrated torrent creation, and flexible channel management. It creates a browsable archive of videos on your website, but its real purpose is to be the perfect publishing tool for our video player that comes out in June. Broadcast Machine creates channels that, viewed in the player, give people a TV-like experience.”

Singapore Sponsors Inter-School Blogging Championship

It’s interesting enough to note that Singapore’s Ministry of Education is sponsoring a national, inter-school blogging championship aimed at junior school and secondary students. It’s fairly new to see a governmental education body supporting something like blogging, to this extent.

However, what I am really impressed by are the guidelines, or actually the lack thereof, set down for this contest. “No strict no-no’s” guide the students’ writing or use of the tool, and while this may appear risky, I would also label it innovative.

“We are pushing new grounds with this platform and there will be a certain amount of risk. However, we want the children to learn that there has to be a balance between self-expression and responsibility.”

Well said.

He’s Henry … Oh Henry …

So I guess I am most like “Henry the Explorer”.

I am…

When I get fed up
with my life, I run away for just a little while. You know, I do that in
life, too – whenever things get tough, I get a change of perspective.

out what Children’s Book You Are!

Well I don’t know about the running away part … but who doesn’t like a new change of perspective from time to time?

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Microsoft Asks Children to Stop “Thought Thieves”

Microsoft has recently launched a Thought Thieves competition in the UK which asks children ages 14-17 to develop a short film “about people stealing and profiting from your creation or innovation”. Hmmmm … this is interesting coming from a company who basically stole the entire GUI from Apple back in 80’s (which Apple stole from Xerox). It’s interesting how creative culture works.

I would love to see a similar competition focusing on how children could learn to use copyleft (e.g., GPL, Creative Commons license) to share, distribute and collaboratively develop their own work. To me (and certainly many others), this is the future shape of intellectual “property” … collaboratively developed, shared and networked. has recently been launched, and is based on an interesting concept that mixes the power of social networks with purchasing capital. Basically, Fundable allows groups of individuals to collectively purchase goods or services with the understanding that if not enough money is collected, all money is refunded.

Two examples that are currently active include an open source programmer who is willing to update and GPL his software for OS 10.4 if he can raise $100, and a tube amplifier maker who hopes to sell a batch of his custom product. Other examples from the site can be found here. There are several interesting ideas.

I am not sure how well this will do, as no transaction has yet been completed. However, I think it has potential.

BECTA Open Source Software in Schools Released

The recently hyped open source report from BECTA has finally been officially released (it was delayed because of the UK election). I haven’t got a chance to look at it very closely, but as I do, my comments may follow.

“This report indicates that open source software can provide a cost-effective and efficient solution in schools if effectively deployed. Becta believes that software used in schools should be of a high quality and adhere to open standards, enabling compatibility and interoperability between products.”

Well, it’s what others have been saying all along, but it’s great to see a large, government sponsored study conclude in this way. Download the report and related documentation here.