Digital Students Humble Teacher

Mobile phones – in learning environments

It’s been a while since I posted anything here and for that I’m sorry.

I do have a ‘looking back on 2013’ post drafted ready for posting, but haven’t felt able to send it up, given that it had been hard to get the year into any sort of real perspective. Hey ho …

My life has changed greatly over the last six months or so. Partly due to circumstances and partly due to a resolution to make every day count. Besides being a City and Guilds marker, I am now employed two days a week (15 hours) by the local college to assess second year, level two, Hospitality and Catering apprentices. I’m also employed to deliver Technical Certificate training to year one apprentices – two hours a week on a Tuesday.

It’s the second group that take me right back to my teaching roots. What a wonderful group they are.

I took over the teaching of this group in January; they had had someone else teach them during their first term and that teacher had done a wonderful job of helping them understand the basics of catering theory. With no scheme in place and about one more year left for them to complete underpinning knowledge tests and technical certificate tests I decided to start with commodity theory.

This involves me delivering subjects such as ‘Vegetables’, ‘Meat’, ‘Poultry’ and ‘Fish’ – the classification, preparation, storage, cooking, menu usage, health issues etc. for each commodity up until Easter and then the more in depth issues behind work in the hospitality trades. Week four, this week, saw me delivering the first of their lessons on meat. Trying to practice what I’ve preached for all these years, I’ve tried to involve the group in ‘how’ they learn and we have settled into a relaxed Delivery+Q&A, followed by formative testing, followed by re-cap, followed by Delivery+Q&A and so on mode. They seem responsive to this method and given that we have no access to PCs, other modes are limited.

We actually use the IWB installed in the room. I’m a ‘Smart Board’ man, but the one installed here is ‘Promethean’ – so although I can prepare and use Active Studio – it isn’t as off-the-cuff as it would be with Smart Notepad. However – when I wanted to use it ad hoc last week (to record some student thoughts) but couldn’t immediately remember how to open the notebook facility, the students came up and showed me. There was no problem, no embarrassment, two of them just came up to the board (and the machine), switched Active Studio on, then went back and sat down. I laughed out loud – shows what I know!

Which brings me to this week.

The formative test I’d given them (after a 20 minute introduction to meat PPT, with lots of back and forth chat) asked them (at one point) to name a boned and rolled meat dish. Some of the answers were good, some slightly off kilter and one I had a good snort at! A boned and rolled ox-tail. Really?

Again, I laughed out loud and asked if they had ever seen an ox-tail that hadn’t been cut into chunks? There were some uncertain yes’s and some emphatic no’s – and I had to suggest that ‘boning’ and ‘rolling’ such a joint would be nigh on impossible.

But Dave – we’ve seen Michel Roux Jnr do it on T.V.” 

Again, I said that it was very unlikely and at that point it was like the Gunfight at the Okay Corral – out came about a dozen iPhones and assorted Samsungs and off they went to find the clip on You Tube.

I was humbled. And wrong.

And both feelings were turned to my advantage as teaching points, as the subject matter fitted in well with the lesson, and I was able to point out that when we accept that we are wrong it allows us to learn – no matter what age or position in life we are at.

This wasn’t the first time they had used their phones to add substance to our lessons, individuals frequently trawl the ‘net via their mobile, to find the answers to questions I’ve asked. It’s always a boon when two differing responses are found – allowing me to explore and expand their evaluative skills.

I will now add the Michel Roux clip to my resource bank and offer thanks to the group for opening my eyes. Once again.

People are rude!

This comment was posted on one of my YouTube videos today “*talk a little slower plz*………..lol .[see http://grab.by/4sgc]

I did laugh out loud (lol – lol) and then thought – why? It’s not just that this person is being rude – it’s more that he/she has taken the trouble to go out of his/her way to be rude?  YouTube seems to attract rude people. He/she is not the only rude person I’ve encountered on YouTube.

First of all, let me state that I too can be rude, mainly through ignorance on my part and if I ever find out my rudeness has offended someone I am mortified. I do try not to be rude and to be courteous at all times. I can often be sarcastic, but usually as a reaction to something and I never use sarcasm as a preemptive strike.

That said, my voice and pronunciation seems to have caused some people to shake their fists at the screen and to write rude comments on my posts – usually they are American and usually their rudeness has illustrated the poor job we did with educating and elucidating our colonial cousins (not a preemptive strike – read on). The following video has had over 58,000 hits.


It’s now almost four years since I posted this video. At the time, there were no other fish filleting videos avaialble that a) explained clearly what was going on and b) was relevant to students in the UK. Others were just flashy ‘see how quick I can fillet a fish’ affairs. Things have changed now and there are some superb ‘fish’ videos out there. Nevertheless – the comment stream below my video (on YouTube – click the clip above to view) is largely complimentary but there have been some idiotic and rude exchanges too. They are worth a read if only to assess the banality of some people (and my sad, retaliatory, sardonic replies)

However, some comments can also be creative and although the one below takes the rip – it is creatively done and I really did lol. I later met the author and congratulated him. Very funny.


Historically, I spoke slowly because I was a) explaining something to someone – 16 year old students maybe? and b) I was unused to taking ‘to myself’ in the way that modern media now allows (and expects?). Geographically, I speak slowly because of my Yorkshire accent – too fast and you won’t understand a word 🙂 Actually – I don’t give a damn – but there’s no need to be rude.

iPhone 3GS Accessibility

iPhones have a unique screen reading capability.

This can be very useful for those who are blind or visually impaired. I was very impressed when I first saw this demonstrated at the Apple offices in London. As soon as I’d got my own iPhone to play with – I checked it out. Apparently, all of this works with the latest version of  the iTouch too (but not the 8gig version)

Basically there is a VoiceOver function and a Zoom function.

These can be accessed by clicking on Settings >> General >> (scroll down now) >> Accessibility.  See the image flow below to check your progress.

Screen shots of setting up accessibility functions on iPhoneThe VoiceOver and Zoom functions cannot be used at the same time.

Things to remember when using VoiceOver:

  • To navigate the phone whilst VoiceOver is active, you have to change the way you ‘touch’ the screen. To activate an App or an instruction, you have to first of all tap the required function and then double-tap to open or activate it.
  • To scroll up and down or to flick right or left you have to use three fingers on the screen.
  • When the phone has closed down (i.e. there is no active screen) it is reactivated by touching the home button. The VoiceOver function defaults to read out the time (always present on the opening screen), so you know immediately where you are. One tap at the bottom of the screen tells you what to do next – double-tap to unlock – and the phone opens at whatever screen you were last on and tells you which that was.

Try going to Safari and opening a web page (try a BBC news page). As you tap through the news reports the voice over function will read back the text.

The Rotor

By rotating two fingers (your finger and thumb) on the screen as if you were turning an actual dial, you can change the way VoiceOver navigates the text.

“For example, a flick up or down might move through text word by word. But when you choose the “character” setting, each time you flick up or down VoiceOver will move through the text character by character — perfect when you’re proofreading or editing text.”
From http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html downloaded 04/01/10

and

Entering text

Writing text can be a real trial. You have to ‘tap’ each letter to select it and then ‘double-tap’ to use it. This can be hard work with the small on-screen keyboard for sighted users, so it could be very difficult for those without sight. As a sighted user, I got into it fairly quickly but it’s a very slow process and quite frustrating. It would be interesting to hear what others think?

Zoom

Although most pages can have their size increased by using Apple’s unique ‘pinch and spread’ function – not all respond to this. The Zoom function is therefore quite useful for some sight impaired users as it works on all screens.

Once the function is turned on, you just double-tap with three fingers to activate the toggle. Drag three fingers around the screen to move the magnified image. It is suggested that another double-tap will allow the user to increase or decrease the size of magnification – but I’ve been unable to do that (doh). (Added later — To increase and decrease the level of magnification, you must do a three-finger double tap, keeping your fingers on the screen after the second tap. While keeping your three fingers on the screen, move up to increase magnification and move down to decrease magnification. Lift your fingers off the screen when the desired magnification level is reached. From http://www.nillabyte.com/blog.php?b=2 – below)

See also:
http://www.nillabyte.com/blog.php?b=280
(Report on iPhone Accessibility function use)

http://maccessibility.net/iphone/apps/
A list of Apps that work with VoiceOver

For much more help – visit: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html

Zoom

Although most pages can have their size increased by using Apple’s unique ‘pinch and spread’ function – not all respond to this. The Zoom function is therefore quite useful for some sight impaired users as it works on all screens.

Once the function is turned on, you just double-tap with three fingers to activate the toggle. Drag three fingers around the screen to move the magnified image. It is suggested that another double-tap will allow the user to increase or decrease the size of magnification – but I’ve been unable to do that (doh).