Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Rough Cuts Ltd - end of aerial services.

Before the end of this year Rough Cuts Ltd, permission for commercial drone operation from the CAA will expire. In 2020 we do not intend to renew this license for a number of reasons.

It has been a genuine pleasure to serve some of the regions finest estate agents and we have been passionate about creating the best quality videos for the lowest costs, we've seen some truly stunning properties. But the annual cost of insurance, the time required to maintain and operate the drone, the constantly changing parameters for (and cost of) licence renewal and lack of recurring business in this field simply mean it's no longer sensible for us to continue.

Moving forward we will look to maintain our relationship with existing partners to provide event photography and video services, as expected, but we will also focus much more on educational and social projects. Sharing the Knowledge we have of technology with pupils and people across Flintshire.
We will still be a part of the Do-Well band, supporting projects such as the 2025 movement with event photography and Public Narrative video capture.

Although we have been teaching primary school children technology for 3 years now and have a wealth of polished courses to offer, we feel it is necessary to be recognised as experts and will undertake Google for Education certified training, which we hope to complete before the end of 2019 or early into 2020.

This will enable us to design new lesson plans and to support classrooms better. To advise schools on the best ways of working and to maximise the impact of technology in the classroom. We've already started the certification process and it's impossible not to be inspired by some of the examples set by other teachers from around the world.

From this unique position we can help up-skill teachers, devote time teachers don't have, to learning new ways of working. We can become the masters of technology and bring those exciting new skills into classrooms at a pace that suits the schools, the teachers, the parents and most importantly the pupils.

We will also continue with our technical support and management of school devices and peripherals.

In the long term we foresee learning projects happening outside of schools. For people that might be suffering with poor mental health or social isolation, for the pupils and perhaps too, for the parents. We hope that in the foreseeable future every pupil in Flintshire, by the end of year six, will have the Digital Skills required to tackle high school in the most engaging way, having the knowledge and skills they need to Do-Well in twenty-first-century workplaces

We thank our aerial customers from the past 3 years and hope you will understand our reasons for this decision.

Monday, 23 September 2019

How to enable 'night mode' on your Smartphone Camera.

So the iPhone night mode is really pretty cool, yes? For all those times you need to take a photo in near dark conditions. Having this feature could prove useful. But the chances are, if your phone has a manual mode, or 'Pro' mode, you can probably do something pretty much as good.

Let me tell you how in a few simple steps.

1. Start your camera app
2. Open the settings and look for Manual or Pro mode and select it.
3. Look for ISO and put it as high as you possibly can. I have the Samsung S7 Edge and 800 is the limit.
4. Look for the shutter speed and set it to 1/20
5. Hold your camera very still and take a photo.

If you kept the phone still enough, you should find that, in very low light, you get a well exposed image. If it's over exposed, you have more light than you need and you can set the shutter speed higher, try 1/40 or 1/60.
If you have very steady hands, you may find you're able to drop the shutter as low as 1/5 of a second and still get a clear brighter image.

The two photos below show you what I was able to capture in low light. The first image is to illustrate how dark it was, and the contrast in brightness from the photo. The second is the actual photo from the Samsung.

iPhone night mode challenge
This is how dark the room was - photo captured on iPad on auto setting.
iphone night mode vs s7 edge pro mode
Image taken on S7 edge on Pro mode ISO800, Shutter speed 1/20

Friday, 13 September 2019

Computer knowledge and inequality in Primary School.

There are several rudimentary tech skills that every year 7 pupil should start High School with.
By this age, it would be beneficial if a pupil knew how to complete their school work with a minimum of anxiety. In my experience, we currently do not have parity or equality when it comes to children transitioning into high school. Knowledge levels will be varied depending on the school that the pupil came from and the structure that the school has in place. Some children will complete their first assignments with minimum effort, focusing on the topic, instead of the technical problems, and others may become overwhelmed and anxious, which would lead to a loss of confidence and worry.

What skills do I mean? I'm talking about advanced skills that reduce anxiety and pressure when the expectation is put on a child to complete a specific piece of work. Just using presentations and an example, (feel free to use as a checklist) in order of complexity;

  • Adding slides
  • Adding text boxes
  • Adding images to a document
  • Using 'undo' instinctively
  • Rotating an image
  • Adding a border to an image or text box
  • Changing the line spacing
  • Fine adjusting the transparency of a text box
  • Adding a shape image mask
  • Adjusting the order of objects 
  • Fine control moving of objects
  • Animating a presentation or adding transitions
  • Editing a master slide 
  • Grouping objects together
  • Exporting as a different file type
This is not an exhaustive list, but my guess is, most pupils can do the first three, whereas, knowledge of the others, would make them expert and more able. Similar lists can be made for word processing, publishing, spreadsheets, digital art, and block coding. 

Having two children one in Year 11 and the other in Sixth form, I know that they have required skills across a variety of different programs, starting with Google Docs they've mostly transitioned into MS Office online, or the more affluent have retail versions of Office. Usually, the cheaper Student Edition or copies given to them by their Teacher.

There's also the question of increased workload. The jump from infrequent homework assignments to regular, time consuming and in-depth means time management becomes more important, so it would make a lot of sense to introduce the children to online calendar apps and ensure they're making time for self-care.

The skills required for using spreadsheets, presentations, publishing, and word processing, are however mostly the same. So regardless of whether a school uses MS Office, HWB or G-Suite, the opportunity to up-skill pupils to the same level does exist, the question is, how do we tackle it and how do we know when we've got it right.

From a younger and younger age, pupils are starting to use these programs. But as parity is absent in pupil knowledge, the same is true of KS1 and KS2 teachers. We have some caring, amazing and genuinely inspiring teachers who are let down by the huge and swift advances in technology and the lack of training and development. From my 4 years volunteering and teaching, I know that the skills pupils require are alien to a significant proportion of great teachers.

However, the knowledge with teachers is hugely varied and as learning styles are different, this makes group training often frustrating. One on one training with a checklist and as long as it takes is the most effective method, but this would mean an army of trainers, working full time.

And it isn't going to get any easier. As technology refuses to slow down (who'd have thought children would be making movies in Key Stage 2 20 years ago?) the need for a more focussed approach to the problem is required. I am certain in the not too distant future, tomorrow's children will be using simple 3D modeling software and 3D printers. The accessibility is already there; Windows 10 comes with Paint 3D and the printers are sub £200.

So the challenges are clear.
We need to support our teachers better and enable them to share their knowledge.
We need to focus our efforts on ticking the boxes and ensuring all children have their knowledge pots filled with tech basics.

 The question is, where and when are we going to start, and what specifically are we going to do to achieve it?

Google Drive for Desktop.