The James Webb Space Telescope

Nasa is showing off a 1:1 scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope in Austin during #SXSW – that’s the Sequel to the Hubble Telescope. I was kinda expecting it to be bigger, given that it is the bigger, better, new and improved version of the Hubble Telescope, so my first comment was “Oh! I thought it’d be bigger!” – (Words a girl should never utter, I know).
Like most other space gizmos I’ve seen, it would fit in perfectly to adorn a Gay Pride Pram, all golden-glittery with fancy golden antennas and what-not. This one also comes with it’s own trampoline underneath:
jwst infrared

The show was pretty amazing, and very cool for kids: Infrared camera-demo, lots of swag and talk to a real astronaut on video conference. Respect to NASA for spreading their knowledge freely to everyone – as they do all over the internet as well!
And we did learn a few things as well: The James Webb Space Telescope will “see” infrared, hence the gold hexagonal shield. The #JWST will not be orbiting the Earth, but follow Earth (in it’s shade) around the sun. And for comparison the size of the Hubble’s mirror is about the size of three of the hexagonal panels on the JWST.

Here is Nasa’s animation of the JWST unfolding in space:

Lots (and lots) more from Nasa on the James Webb Space Telescope.


Use me, leave me! #usemeleaveme

I came out of the Austin Conference Centre on saturday, and there was a couple of guys trying to get people to ride their bikes. As I had been missing a bike like crazy (Austin buses are not on schedule this week, and I’m a Copenhagen, so I’m a biker;)

Turned out it was The #usemeleaveme bike Rackspace brought to town. So I jumped on a brown cruiser and pedaled off to the Radisson. And when I came out after my session, it was still there, so I rode up to get a burrito at the Taco Shack – and lo and behold, no-one else figured out yet that the bike was up for grabs, so I rode it back to the ACC again.

The SXSWiness is (apart from bikes being great) that the bikes are tweeting using the hashtag #UseMeLeaveME



BETT 2013 – another day at the show…

‘t was the second day of the show, and of Technology in Higher Education – and there was lively debate in the #BETTarena

Schools and Real Computer Science (Simon Peyton Jones, Jo Twist & friends: Roger Davies, Nicki Maddams, Charlotte Avery) tackled the challenge of getting more kids interested in programming. Visual programming languages was a way in: like Kudo Letting kids make games by combining visual elements (actions, parameters etc.)
To inspire the girls – who are desperately needed in IT: Geeky Barbie travels the world (along with her boss Nicki Maddams aka @GeekyNicki and talks to inspiring women in IT (on Facebook as well) – check it out and spread it to the girls out there!
The wifi had improved – so I actually had the chance to tweet for a while (and catch up on the situation(s) at work…)

Big ideas in Education was the heading of the next BettArena session (Not sure I found the name apt, but it was entertaining)
Now I’m not British (nor living here), so I hadn’t heard of “the country’s worst head teacher” (apparently something one could have seen on tv or read about in one of those paper things called The Daily Fail.) But Vic Goddard uses his “title” to promote teaching – and his energetic sales speech for the teaching profession was only topped by his own “YouTube guest speaker” Tailor Mali’s amazing Poetry Slam answer to what Teacher’s make:

Later on Robert Mullins (Raspberry Pi) and Bill Liao (coderdojo) were talking about invigorating the computer curriculum – so it was a day with lots of debate about teaching actual coding skills and what this means for teachers.

Personally I needed to recharge – so I got off the buzzing BettShow floor and it’s crazy noise level – AND got to plug in my dying gadgets upstairs at the Higher Education track. And there was a wealth of interesting inputs to be found:
I caught half of Richard Boulderstone‘s “Cross Platform support for mobile devices – about the British Library’s adventures in the world of apps.
Richard Hall had another tale from the trenches that is technology in educational institutions: Making-the-cloud-work-for-you-institutional-risk-and-governance (on slideshare) I especially liked this slide:
Finally someone talking about ALL the categories of services we use – including the ones on the left, which institutions tend to just ignore (and for some at least) hope they’ll go away, if we ignore them?

Marieke Guy from the Digital Curation Centre talked about a problem no one adresses enough yet: Improving access to research data. Important topic both regarding the benefits and problems of opening up data, but also more practical matters of storing and sharing data. Anyone with an interest in the topic, should look her up, as well as the DDC.

Meredith Henson from Catalyst pushed open source to the masses: Open-source learning: Encouraging academics to share content (should be on slideshare?!) – as a WordPress evangelist myself, I couldn’t agree more with her – also on her warning about customizing to death until you can’t upgrade…

All sessions I never knew I really should go to – and all because I was out of power… And well because the BETT app has rather sparse info on the sessions. No description, just the title for most sessions – which doesn’t always reveal the gloriousness of the content (there #bettshow, feedback for next year!)

Before my brain melted I toured the floor again, heard a bit of a demo with @stephenheppell - pointing out the sad lack of correlation between doing good on STEM topics in PISA tests and interest in pursuing the fields. Countries doing good in PISA has little interest – and Mexico being the odd one out: They do very badly on the PISA, but would love to go into the field ;) Lots more from Stephen Heppell here.

(Next update from #Bettshow will be my photo series of fun stuff and WTF experiences (some overlapping!) from the land of gizmos, free candy and neverending leaflets)


Daphne Koller: Coursera Q&A at #BETTshow

One of the highlights of day 1 at BETT 2013 was Daphne Koller, one of the two founders of Coursera – a start-up pioneering MOOCs offering courses from some of the most prestigious universities. Her initial talk in the Bett Arena was pretty standard – not much different from her TED talk:

But the Q&A-session later at a smaller stage was interesting, after the initial recap of her talk, the floor was open for questions. Hear her answer to my question here: what’s in it for the universities?

I’ll update with more from her answers soon – there was news on three lines of revenue and more…



Arriving at Bett 2013

Bett 2013 – the show is on!

Bett 2013 is off to a great start. It’s even bigger than I remember from 2010, when I was last here – and has moves to a new venue: The ExCel, which is great – they have space to breathe, food that hasn’t been packed in plastic for days, and plenty of coffee stands! Wifi still sucks big time – I only managed to get on one of the networks around 16:00 *argh*

Bett conferencesThe main event is the enormous tradeshow showing off everything you never knew you didn’t need for teaching with technology – demonstrations, show & tell, talks and in the #bettarena some very big names. Parallel to this there are the conferences: Higher Education, Learning at work, School Leaders Summit. Those were a bit hard to find – and I did get sent off to the galleries at the other side of the show, before I remembered I took a note-to-self photo in the hall coming in. That helped…

“Running your university like a business” wasn’t the fast-paced excitement I was going for, or even just un-snoozy (maybe one should have been there from the beginning?) so I went next door to the “Learning at work” conference.

Susan Greenfield: Future Learning trends for a digital age: How are people learning. She is a professor of synaptic pharmacology - and hence interested in what goes on inside our heads. Literally. When it comes to the internet, she definitely comes down on the skeptical side, if not downright negative.Her worry is, that our brains are highly adaptive, and will adapt to most any environment. So what happens to our brains, when more and more of us are living in a two-dimensional environment, and most of the time only using 2 of our senses: visual and auditive. Her answer: our brains will adapt. In stead of developing from sensitive to cognitive – we’re from now going back to senses and the underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex and hence bad impulse control of childhood, obesity, gambling, schizofrenia.
Brain on dopamineShe claims: Our minds are changing – she actually compares this to the challenge of climate change!
…a source who shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent (that is not necessecarily the source) told me later in the day, that the more internet-positive crowd refer to her as Baroness Bonkers?!
Whatever the nickname – it is always interesting to discuss what the internet is doing to our brains…

Next up was Jane Daly, Head of Learning and Development at Marks & Spencer giving some very sound advise on Learning & development plans.


Shortest line: The free coffee!

Unfortunately the “Big Data”-session with Michael Wrightson was cancelled, but that left time for a coffee – and the shop had a looong line, but the lovely ladies in green had the shortest line, for what turned out to be the free coffee – bless those sponsors!

More highlights of day 1: Daphne Koller of Coursera (twice!) and the dynamic duo of Flipped Learning Fame – but more about that in another post.

I also had time to look at a bit of the tech gizmos and general craziness at the trade show – and catching the end of Steve Wheeler (aka @timbuckteeth): Motivating and engaging students: Delivering an active and participatory student experience.

Conclusions after day 1: If you’re intersted in learning and technology – and anywhere near London: The show is on until saturday, it’s free  - and there are more goodies to come, so make it to the ExCel if you can!


The internet is rotting your brain?

Just finished Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows… The first 50 pages almost made me quit reading it. And I highly suspect he wrote them that way on purpose (in the style of Eco’s The Name Of The Rose) to underline his point about our diminished reading skills. Digressing (as the book allows itself to do as well) – Kafkas novels almost left me just as frustrated as his main characters. I’ve always found it deeply clever, but none the lees deeply annoying. This left me feeling the same!

Carr takes us through the earlier dramatic changes in technology, and hence: changes in our thinking – the clock, the map, the book. All of which changed us – but for the better. Now the internet – well that might not be for the better. Our brains have changed again, cause our brains are not like computers. They are organic, they change with what we do, and as we remember things. We’re not reading the way we used to. We’ve dropped reading at different speeds for different purposes in favor of skimming the internet. Oh yeah, and every piece of research shows that we suck at multitasking, no matter what we think.
So is doom, gloom and possibly brimstone to be expected? Well Carr actually takes position more as an observer, than an advocate. Except of course in his choice of topic, and the scientific research he’s meticulously building it all on. And just like his tour through the changes brought on by electricity in The Bigs Switch – it’s all very meticulous, and well documented by science. No matter how gloomy Carr paints our current situation, the book is both enlightening and important. Darn!

- Lucky I just read The Information Diet, which has actual practical advise for dealing with the internet and it’s flood of information.


Books to improve you digital life & work

Confession: Even after I fell in love with tech, I didn’t give up my first love: Books. So it’s always a joy that SXSW Interactive also has a great selection in their analog bookshop. Since I only had to pack the pictures, and could take them all back home. I picked up everything I thought looked interesting, and I’ve grouped them into 4 topics – on pinboards:

Book store at SXSW12

There is gold hidden right next to “Sell More Crap to Idiots 2″

Topic 1: Marketing I love selling great ideas (though I’m not into marketing, as the number of readers on this blog reveals :), but why not use the internet to market your great idea – or yourself, so you can get in a position, where more people will hear your idess?

Topic 2: Our Brains (and the Internet) - a topic that’s popular – also in this corner of the internet. What does the new input from the science du jour Neuro tell us about outselves, how to hack our own brains, or those of our readers. World domination, and perfect GTD mind like water, here we come!

Topic 3: Content and Curation are hot these days – so how do you create better content, bring it to more people or prune your content to the essentials, so your readers can find what they need. Curation is a closely connected topic; how do we value curation vs content creation, what is good curation – and what about the people, and algorithms who is curating our content for us?

Topic 4: Life & Work How do we manage all that information, how do we organize our digital lives – and find time for a life offline as well? Sort out your work life, and start to work on your life today!

I’ve read 2 so far, more about that soon, but there are plenty more good stuff to come. Like my taste in books? Well I’ll probably love yours! Find me on Goodreads!)