Saturday 22 November 2008

Open now for free software

I've just updated the Open Education Disc in the More section of Webtools. There is a brand new selection of free, open source applications covering a whole host of things. This may have been designed with students in mind but I have to say that tutors, their families, hey, everyone will find something useful here!

There is a way to download the whole shooting match onto a DVD but you probably won't want all the stuff. I have already used a couple of the goodies there in the last week as a matter of necessity in a tight situation. HTT Copier copies web sites and a client needed a copy before an advisor with whom he was dispute removed it. It has more normal uses though - if you are teaching somewhere without an internet connection but want to use a web site then use HTT to save it onto a USB drive or your computer. Works a treat.

The other application that came in useful was VLC - a media player that seems to be able to cope with anything. There I was with a laptop and a Narnia DVD, announcing to a group suspicious of anything techy, how simple playing a DVD was on a laptop and, er, the DVD player didn't like the regional code for the DVD!! Ooops. But I switched to VLC and away we went, trouble free.

Lots more there. The best is not actually a teaching tool but you just have to get the screensavers. So much cooler than the standard Windows fare and no adverts, really professional graphics. Beautiful.

At last . . . [2]

Google have made some improvements to the look and feel of their brilliant GMail. It has worked wonderfully but looked awful. Now it can look a bit better with the addition of a Themes option under Settings. Still a long way to go before my daughter will tear herself away from the smooth looking and very well-designed MSN but a move in the right direction.

At last . . . [1]

Those of us who have been teaching in FE for a while but really don't want to go back to school and learn all the theory about someone's pyramid of a long-winded way of explaining how some people are brighter than others and so need some challenges in class (and others who arrive looking like death warmed up may need some extra attention or breakfast and probably both) have been thrown a life-line.

I was greatly relieved to discover that we could still register with IfL but now there is something called Professional Recognition which looks as though it could be a route to getting some sort of approved status through a portfolio route with various references, statements and confirmation of existing skills and previous good work in the field.

This is great news - on the surface, at least, as I have yet to discover more. I shall be attending an ACER guidance session in Cambridgeshire soon and will report back on the SVUK scheme (yes, another quango, quasi quango or whatever but in this world of regulation and paperwork I guess that's necessary if the Powers That Be are going to accept it).

Watch, as they say, this space.