When designing for the mobile space, remember the mobile place.

There is currently a lot of effort by learning designers to cater their content for use on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Visually at least this makes a lot of sense. The screen real estate is precious, the nature of of mobile usage is focused – the user is generally focused into one screen or app, and navigation in all done by hand (or a finger really)

I have talked in the past on how our learner’s lives are full of distractions (think social media) and when designing lessons you should try and be part of that distraction, not compete with it. Methods such as a micro learning model (giving your users small, bite size lessons they can complete in a few minutes while still achieving a small goal or take away message), and taking advantage of different media types can aid in this.

As I have been traveling around to schools, offices and professional football clubs of late, it has become more apparent to me that the places this mobile learning takes place in can all quite different – and have a huge affect on the learning you want to happen.

In schools, though using mobile devices, our students are still (most of the time) in a classroom setting, sitting at desks with their teacher giving some direction and keeping students on task. In the office, we have lots of departments, working at different times and with a different focus, and the football club, well, just imagine trying to run a class after your students have just had 10 PE sessions in a row.

I’m afraid if you have read this far, I am not going to tell you the exact formula for this to work right (I’m still figuring it out) but I doubt there will be a one size fits all fix.

So far I have been experimenting with a range of different ways to use the mobile space in the varied mobile places.

With schools, I have been working with teachers and the content they create as a jumping off platform. For example, creating courses in iTunes U, presenting key content and facilitating classroom discussion, and then creating paths for students to choose to go down, on their own mobile device, and then meet back up with the rest of the class (iOS 9.3 will also include a bunch of handy tools to allow teachers to monitor and supervise this space)

In the business space, I have been focused on using the mobile platform of document creation and collaboration. Stressing that with platforms such as Google Apps, your office can be anywhere. The device you use to access it is really just a window to this online office, be it at work, home, or on the train. This has involved more training to change the mindset of how one works in an office space. Documents are no longer static but fluid, with everyone all able to work on the same digital page.

And finally, my work in sporting clubs has involved using the mobile devices as a way to engage in more active interaction. Getting players to use their phones for example to capture content and share experiences.

A lesson I designed using mobile tools, in this case, Move controllers (can you spot me in the background?):

 

As the way we learn and work continues to evolve, so will the places that this learning takes place. Keeping up with these changes is going to become even more important if we want to engage our learners, no matter where they are.

Infants and iPads: They will get square eyes (well, technically 4:3)

File_004Writing duties about our son Rafferty normally go to my wife (you should check out her writing at www.amumandotherthings.com– she uses lots of big words and has far better grammar than I) but in this case I want to talk about something I hear a lot, “You let him use your iPad? That can’t be good for him?”.

This argument comes from both the young and old alike, and you can replace iPad in that sentence with: game, iPhone, Watch, other digital thingIt seems to be the thinking that digital device = bad for development. And I have to say I disagree.

Now I am not leaving Raff by himself playing Candy Crush, but I do leave him to explore. He loves his pencil and paper and will sit happily and draw, but when in front of my iPad I can really see his gears turning.

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After a few weeks of playing with my iPad he really has figured out the basics, swipe (to see another picture of himself) press the home button to go back, hold on an image to see it move, these are all really complex learning actions going on here.

Raffy loves reading his books (turning pages, lifting flaps in pop-up books, reading letters) and he has also discovered he can do this on the iPad, and a little more.
Like all things, everything is good in moderation, and Raff too gets over the iPad and happy to go for a walk and play on the swing. But next time you feel bad for passing over your phone to your new toy (that would be said child), just think about all the learning that is taking place in those presses, swipes and taps.

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He still likes drawing the old fashioned way…

And of course a plug for my other project, www.bookaweek.com:

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https://dribbble.com/shots/2445447-Old-Laptop

Why Google giving 2GB of storage for free makes me thankful of my past, my work in the moving image, and look forward to the future.

Atari_PerspectiveSo today (or yesterday for my Australian friends) is Safer Internet Day, and so to celebrate (is it a celebratory event?) Google are giving all their users a 2GB storage top-up to their online storage.

I know what you are thinking young-people, “2GB…meh, that is nothing….” (or if you look at it this way, it is only 57 seconds of 4K recorded video)

But this is where the whole “Man I feel old…” part comes in.

I can think back to 1995, those were simpler times. Young Daniel was wide eyed (and possibly far cuter), using his awesome 486 Computer (mostly pulling it apart to see how it worked) and starting to get into digital design and animation. However those things were tough back then, no YouTube for online lessons, the internet was just starting to be a thing (we were still a while away from cat memes) and storage was expensive!.

I remember that our little 80MB (that’s MB kids, not GB) was struggling. Windows 3.11 was struggling. So I did what any forward thinking, proactive, early teen would do… nag my mum. 

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Young Daniel: “2GB free! crazy… oh and what is this cloud storage thing all about…there will be computers in clouds in 2016?”

After a month long campaign involving the aforementioned nagging, doing chores, more nagging, we purchased a shiny, new 1GB hard drive – for $500!. Yes, it was pricey, but this was 1GB people…1000MB, this thing was going to last my entire lifetime, my future grandkids will still have space for their hover-boarding pictures.

But of course that didn’t happen. Technology moved forward at a blistering pace.

I think fondly back to that 486, and how it laid the course for my future (and I owe all of this to my mum really for putting up with my nagging – Thanks Cathy).

https://dribbble.com/shots/2445447-Old-Laptop
I assume this is what I thought a ‘laptop’ computer would have looked like…

From that first machine I got a love for tinkering, pulling things apart to see how they worked (both hardware and software) and the best thing of all, learning that you could use these machines to make stuff. From MS Paint to Photoshop 3.0, I learnt it all on that machine, and the machines that would follow. I taught myself the tools that I would use in future careers, MS Paint led to my work in Graphic Design, 3D Studio 4 led me to my work making video games and then traveling the world designing toys (and of course I then took all of this experience into the classroom as a teacher)

For every new career path, I would take the skills I had learnt in the previous role and empower me to try things just out of my grasp.

It was a great time.

But I am getting off track here. What makes me so looking forward to tomorrow is that, like Google giving away 2GB of storage…2GB for free, (young Daniel would not be able to comprehend this!, but I am sure young Daniel wouldn’t be able to believe iPhones, iPads and Girls were in his future also), young people today have an almost limitless supply of freely available technology, resources and information to create, well, almost anything.

And this to me is the key, our young people have the tools, they can teach themselves the techniques…. but the ideas, the dreaming, the freedom to be creative and different, these are things we need to foster and empower in them… they can do the rest.

 

bookaweek.com.au – Another little side project of mine.

 

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So each week I have a train commute back and forth to work in the city. I have been taking that time up with a random assortment of reading, sleeping, nintendo, podcasts, etc. which have been fine, but I realised I wasn’t really producing anything of meaning with this time (dexterity in my thumbs is not a skill).

As such, I decided to set myself a new project: Bookaweek.com.au

Basically, I will be writing and illustrating one children’s book each week, to be posted on Sunday evening (just in time for Rafferty’s bedtime).

Why am I doing this? well, to get back into drawing. And our little boy Raffy loves himself a new book so this might work out cheaper.

I am also setting myself a few rules:

  • Each book needs to be written in 2 hours max (that is my daily train commute)
  • I have the rest of the week to illustrate it, but can only be done in my commute to and from work.
  • It all has to be created and collated on my iPad Pro, no external editing!*

So, I am afraid to say it has been a while since I really did some drawing so I am expecting the first few books to be, well, let’s just say I have 52 weeks to get them right.

Once I get into the swing of things I will also look at making the final books more interactive and take advantage of the interactivity of tablets. But for now, they will be simple PDFs you can read to your children right from this website, or print out and save.

*I need to justify buying it somehow…I will be using a selection of a few iPad apps depending on the book from Procreate, Keynote and Book Creator.

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So, please check it out if you have little kids, a look at this week is below:


 

Book 2 – When you grow up.

Use the gallery below to read this book (just tap to pause the slideshow and tap to change pages. On a phone or tablet? – Double-tap to zoom to fill the screen). My notes, and PDF (for fullscreen reading in iBooks or similar) download links are below (and a quick video of a page being made)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Notes on this book:

  1. Much shorter this time (wrote this one in one bus ride to work…more on that next)
  2. So, buses all this week due to broken trains. If I thought drawing on the train was hard…buses are worse.
  3. Liking the sketchy style.

Download this book here.

Video:

Just thought I would share this one, you can see how I keep changing my mind, even while I am drawing…

The Apple Watch Vs. The Entire Apollo Space Missions (or Moore’s Law Vs. Human Achievement)

photo_with_flagI was running with my Apple Watch the other week* and was struck with a simple thought; ‘there is probably more power in that little thing on my wrist than all the computers that put man on the moon’

So, a simple Google Search later (which ironically also uses more computing power than the Apollo missions) and I was right.

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) on board the lunar module (LM) executed instructions at a speed of about 40 KHz (or 0.00004 GHz), about 100,000 times slower than a high-end laptop today. There was also a similar real-time computer built into the Saturn V rocket. On the ground, NASA had access to some of the most powerful computers of the day: five IBM model 360/75 mainframe computers, each about 250 times faster than the AGC. They were running nearly 24/7, calculating lift-off data and orbits, monitoring biomedical data during the mission, and performing numerous other calculations.

Compared to say the Apple Watch:

Apple_S1_module-2
The S1 integrated computer.
Produced From November 13, 2014 to Present
Designed by Apple Inc.
Common manufacturer(s)
Samsung[1]
Max. CPU clock rate 520 MHz
Min. feature size 28 nm
Instruction set ARM
Microarchitecture ARMv7-A compatible
Product code APL0778
Cores 1
L1 cache 32 KB data
L2 cache 256 KB
GPU PowerVR SGX543

Now I am not saying the Apple Watch is a supercomputer (technically, compared to the stats of the Apollo Guidance Computer, an electonic toaster is faster) but it is amazing just how far we have come in computing power.

So, this led me to my second thought (two thoughts in one day!); Moore’s law (basically computing power will double every two years for the same price) has been shown to be fairly accurate up to this point. But why hasn’t human accomplishment been the same? I mean, what has some recent great accomplishments – comparable to landing on the moon – has the human race done recently? (yes, computers have gotten faster, the Internet can be handy for finding cat videos, etc) but these to me are just evolutionary changes, not revolutionary.

Some might say that having a supercomputer in your hands should make you smarter, but is it making us lazier? Why try to figure out how to fix something when you can just Google it (or buy a new, faster one) ?

Anyways, I’m not here to answer that. Google should do it for me…

*and the last time…stay tuned for our next exciting episode ‘Goodbye Apple Watch’

Google for Nonprofits…It’s like Google for Education, with less homework and more Ads (the good kind)

Google_for_Non-ProfitsAs you know, I am a big fan of Google’s suite of productivity apps. Google Docs, Drive and Co. Perfect for collaboration and creation for our students.  And as Google have a few dollars saved up, they offer this service free to schools with their Google for Education platform, something I have worked with many schools to implement.

In my new role, I have moved from the classroom to the nonprofit sector.

Collaboration and creation are still part of what I do everyday, but this can come at a cost, in terms of software and users. The more people I would like to get on board and work on these projects, the more it could end up costing me. And like schools, I will have groups of users (AFL Players, Working Groups, etc) that will come and go at different stages and may only need access to these platforms for a certain time.

This is where Google for Nonprofits has come in. Not only do they offer their Google Apps platform for free, but also offer other services only for nonprofits such as:

  • Ad Grants provides you with 10.000 USD per month in AdWords to raise awareness and target new audiences online through Google advertising.
  • YouTube for Nonprofits offers premium features for organisations to make the most of their YouTube channel.
  • Google Earth Outreach provides rich opportunities for organisations to create interactive content and visualise their impact.

So, how do you get in on this action?, first (and, well, it is in the name) you need to be a nonprofit. Got that ticked? (good on you) now you can signup here: http://www.google.com.au/nonprofits/join/.

In Australia when you go though this process (which is pretty easy, just a few check boxes and paperwork) you will also get access to Connecting Up.org, a organisation that provides nonprofits with free and discounted software from a range of providers such as Microsoft and Adobe (which can save you even more dollars and help out other members of your organisation)

So far this has worked out great for us. I wouldn’t say without it I would have changed my plans, but more in knowing that I can work on new programs, big or small, without the constraints of thinking about optional upfront costs. For example, where in the past we may have limited our interaction with a subgroup to just using their personal email for communication, I can now set up my users as officially with a Google account in our domain, offer them all the security and safety that that brings and expose them to new tools and ways of working.

If you are a nonprofit, get on it, you have nothing to loose.

Year 9 History Teacher?…relax, your planning for next year is done

Kinda’ an excuse to post something (which with my current project has been hard to do), and kinda’ trying to spread the word to History, and all, teachers out there, but as the school year comes to a close teachers are gearing into planning for next year mode.

One resource that is gaining a lot great Australian based resources everyday, and often overlooked by teachers, is iTunes U. There is now a huge wealth of content on there by local teachers just like you. Personally, I think this content is far more genuine, engaging and current than anything you would pay for, so why not take advantage of it.

Right now you can check out the Apple curated, Australian Curriculum page (insert small plug here for my Year 9 World War 1 content…) with complete units and lessons for a range of classes. While you’re there, explore more. The great thing about iTunes U is all content is part of the Creative Commons license.

Want to pick and choose? Well, setup your own iTunes Course, pick and choose from a wealth of content from iTunes U and start adding in your own….baby steps hey.

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RESOURCES: HTAV – Australian Curriculum World War 1 Course iBook Author Working Files (and more)

pictureFor those of you that attended my workshop yesterday, I promised a lovely little gift. All the working files from two of my popular History courses. My Year 9 Australian Curriculum course for World War 1 (currently highlighted in the iTunes Store’s Australian Curriculum section) and also my Japanese Art History Project (currently highlighted in the DEECD channel)

All these books show slightly different use-cases for iBooks Author and Multi-Touch books (The World War 1 course has a collection of books for different topics, all with different purposes, the Japanese Art History books is a very detailed and visual example)

As I said in my talk, I think the best way to learn something new is to pull apart something old that works (which is why I was always getting in trouble for working our old 486 Computer when I was 13…sorry mum) so feel free to pull my work apart.

To access the resources click here*

*The page is password protected, so for those interested please just send me an email at danielmgarcia@live.com or tweet me at @dgarciatweets

A 5000 word essay coming up? – Don’t expect your students to have computers at home…

mac_1As a wise man said, the times, they are a changin’, or really when you think of it, just repeating.

When I was going to school, the chances of students having access to a real computer at home was pretty rare (I didn’t even have a Nintendo!…)* then as time went on, and prices went down, it was quite common, in fact it probably did a 180, students not having access to a computer at home was pretty rare.

But now in the days of mobile computing (think iPhone, iPad and the like), the amazing power these things have, their price, and rapid availability, things are starting to change again.

“and more suited to sitting back on the couch”

I would think the reason that there would have been a dedicated computer at home back in the day (think a traditional desktop or laptop) would be mostly a decision of the parents and their needs. This is where things are changing, the parents may be sitting in front a computer all day for work, when they come hope they may just want to browse YouTube, check in on their social media, check some email, do some eBaying, all these things mobile technologies do much easer (and more suited to sitting back on the couch). And now with iPad programs so prevalent in schools, parents must be asking themselves “well didn’t I just pay for a computer for you?” – and the answer is yes, you did.

“An iPad for example is such a powerful creation tool, if you design your lessons to its strengths”

So our schools and teachers today need to understand this and cater their resources to suit the tools at their students disposal. This is in no way ‘dumbing down‘ or limiting what you are asking your students can do, in fact it is the complete opposite. An iPad for example, is such a powerful creation tool, if you design your lessons to its strengths.

So maybe next time instead of asking your students to write a 1000 word document on Weather, get them to create a video, do a real-life weather report, collaborate, share and create, and then share this online for others… I am sure they will thank you for it (and learn quite a lot more)

*Yes, this is probably the tenth time I have bought up my like of Nintendo childhood. I did get a SEGA eventually…thanks mum.