Category Archives: Technology

bitcoin blockchain

Bitcoin and Blockchains explained

A slightly off-camber post here, but someone I trust mentioned that we ought to understand the bitcoin and blockchain development as it could be about to hit the mainstream. Here’s some explanation and videos to help.

The main point I hadn’t fully appreciated or understood is that bitcoin and the underlying blockchain is not just financial, although it is all about transactions – the transaction can be financial, but also information, knowledge, subscriptions, etc.? I think? It’s about the trust the chain has based on the underlying technology.

Bitcoin: “The system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. :4. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account.”

Blockchain: “The blockchain is seen as the main technological innovation of Bitcoin, since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network. A block is the ‘current’ part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as permanent database.”

Watch this, see if it makes sense?

YouTube: The Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology Explained

“A block chain is a transaction database shared by all nodes participating in a system based on the Bitcoin protocol. A full copy of a currency’s block chain contains every transaction ever executed in the currency. With this information, one can find out how much value belonged to each address at any point in history.”

From this video I liked the section from 5:27, where I was thinking about the disruption to learning and education, especially how this fits in to the Internet of Things:

“Internet technology is disruptive and breaks the status quo. It opens markets and breaks the position of middle men all the time. Bitcoin and crypto-currencies have caused a paradigm shift. It’s time to explore this new technology constructively and critically and openly discuss potential applications.”

Here are some more links/videos to help explain bitcoin and blockchains:

  • Blockchain for dummies: “Non technical explanation of the block chain concept underlaying the Bitcoin network. This video is meant for people who want to get a grasp of this new technology.”
  • Understand the blockchain in two minutes: “Over the past decade, an alternative digital paradigm has slowly been taking shape at the edges of the internet. This new paradigm is the blockchain. After incubating through millions of Bitcoin transactions and a host of developer projects, it is now on the tips of tongues of CEOs and CTOs, startup entrepreneurs, and even governance activists. Though these stakeholders are beginning to understand the disruptive potential of blockchain technology and are experimenting with its most promising applications, few have asked a more fundamental question: What will a world driven by blockchains look like a decade from now?”
  • Blockchain: “It’s Going to Radically Transform Our Society’s Institutions” (Don Tapscott): “Don Tapscott, a leading theorist of the digital age, explains why the blockchain technology will fundamentally transform the institutions our societies are built upon. Because the blockchain technology powers the digital currency Bitcoin, it will not only affect how business is being made, but also our legal systems. Ultimately, the effect of the blockchain technology will be much more far reaching; it will also transform governance, healthcare, education, and various other pillars of our societies.”
  • The trust machine: “The blockchain is an even more potent technology. In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement.”

What do you think? Is there merit in the simplification of the ‘chain’ and trust of the networks that a blockchain can provide?

Image source: Dimitry (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Harness the power of video and increase student engagement

Harness the power of video and increase student engagement

Earlier this year I was invited to contribute to a guide for teachers on the flipped classroom, concentrating on the inclusion, or rather availability, of video to increase student engagement (flipped classroom or not).

This is what I wrote:

“Believe it or not YouTube has only just turned 10 years old. Yes, that’s right. So much has changed in that time that it’s often easy to forget just what the rate of change has been. Video has always been something that could be used in classrooms or for teaching and learning, but it was often a bulky CRT television on a trolley, with a VHS player and a multitude of knotted cables that the teacher could never unravel to get it near the wall socket. Therefore, in my experience, my teachers often gave up and tried something else instead. Not only was the actual technology / hardware itself difficult to use, the materials we were shown would be old programmes, not always relevant or interesting, and more often than not of poor quality that only a few in the class would be able to see and hear it properly.

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Wearable technology

Wearable Technology

I’ve been meaning to write about wearable technology for a while now, but have resisted because (a) everyone and his dog has written about it, (b) I wasn’t sure on why I was feeling so negative about it, and (c) I couldn’t actually be bothered.

So, what changed? Well, it was a reply tweet I got from Jason Bradbury last week. Jason, if you’re interested, is the face of The Gadget Show here in the UK. It started when Jason shared a tweet about Apple not being able to crack the wearable market with sales of their watch down on expected volume. I replied:

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Digital Skills

Mapping Digital Skills in HE

A few weeks ago this image/infographic was doing the rounds and being tweeted in my network (thank you Catherine Cronin!) – mapping digital skills in Irish Higher Education.

Bringing together themes of ‘tools and technology, ‘create and innovate’, ‘communicate and collaborate, this is a wonderful resource that can help map and highlight how skills cross sectors and areas of knowledge and capabilities. Examples include the humble (?) VLE … crossing ‘tools and technology’, ‘teach and learn’, and ‘communicate and collaborate’.  Continue reading

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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).”

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Google search tips and tricks (infographic)

Become a Google power-user

“Search engines are the backbone of everyday Internet use, but are you aware of the hidden tips and tricks available to improve your search? Here are some pointers that’ll save you Googling ‘how to Google’.”

I’ve seen this before, a while ago, and lost it. So here it is, blogged and saved forever!  Continue reading

The internet is after your job

The internet is after your job

The internet is after your job! According to this video at any rate.

“New technology can destroy jobs. In the past, this has mainly affected unskilled jobs, but now it’s hitting the middle classes – cutting a swathe across the creative industries and ‘professions’. Within a generation we may find that there are no such things as a ‘career’ or ‘job security’. What’s driving this disruption to our working lives – and what can you do about it?”

Among other industries previously affected, including manual jobs, it is now the working class world of teachers, lawyers, and doctors that are under fire from technology-inspired application – MOOCs anyone?

The trick, which most of us already know, is to carve your own niche and stand out from the crowd. Be unique, be yourself, and stay relevant.

The internet is after your job
The internet is after your job

iPod Classic

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. Continue reading

Luddites

Luddites #altc

Here’s what I learned last week … to call someone a Luddite, in the context of someone who is reluctant to be involved or get involved in technology, is wrong.

Hang on, back up a bit. At ALTC last week Audrey Watters spent a whole hour walking us through technology in history and literature without actually talking about technology at all. From Frankenstein’s monster to Luddites I learned more then than in any single History or literature lesson at school! Yes, really.

So, what’s wrong with Luddites? Well, nothing really, but it’s how we use the term when referring to colleagues who ‘fight’ against technological change or development. Audrey set all of us straight on this – the history of Luddites, and our use of the term, is far from fear of technology or technological change.

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The Ultimate iPhone Photographer’s Lens Kit

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’.

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