Monday, October 11, 2010

Free image enlarger resampler

Ever wanted to take a small digital image and enlarge it - you know what will happen though - it will go all pixely and look bad...

I know there are a couple of plugins for photoshop that resample and clean up the result but they are usually expensive.

I've just come across an elegant solution - SmillaEnlarger - A stand alone image enlarger that does a great job of enlarging low resolution pictures without the JPG and Pixel artifacts. It's open source so it's free to use and pass on to your students. The results are simply amazing - real CSI style "Can you enlarge and enhance that picture?" that you scoff at normally.

This kind of program is really useful for interactive whiteboards when you want to work with sub optimal pictures from a phone or cropped or from the web, as your projector will really accentuate the the "jaggy" low resolution pictures.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

ECAWA, games and explicit ICT teaching

Well it has been a busy week even though it was (and still is for another week) school holidays.

I was at the ECAWA (Educational Computing Association of Western Australia) conference this week. I've been involved with ECAWA for, on and off, over 10years now - going to conferences as either a delegate, speaker or sponsor.

The Keynote speaker was fantastic - Sasha Barab from Indianna University has taken a Position at Edith Cowan University here in Perth and was a great advocate for the use of games for eduction. Sasha was instrumental in the Quest Atlantis project where he designed numerous curricular designs to support transformational play in which players take on the role of scientists, reporters, accountants and others, who use academic content to resolve problematic fictional story lines that unfold in virtual worlds.

It reminded me of the work done in by the FAS and their immune attack game - I looked them up when I had a Chance and a they have links to some of their other games and other organisations making games for education.

He really got me thinking about game design and it's implication on my own projects.

I was also asked to run a workshop (we I offered and they accepted) - it seemed to go well with some good feedback from the participants. The conference was also a great time to network and catch up with some friends I only really converse with on echalk.

As with all of the last conferences it was a small affair and only had less than 100 delegates at the event. This is in sharp contrast to the ones in the late 90's that had over 300 delgates and big sponsors such as HP, Cisco and Citrix.

Some of us "oldies" were lamenting the fact that computing had come to this - where we have so much hardware in school but no one is really interested in it as either a subject or an enabler of good pedagogy. Some of the discussion centred around the fact that most teachers do not have a grounding in some of the most basic uses of computers and therefore do not see some of the potential to use computers across the curriculum.

While I was teaching in the UK in 2002/2003, the school I worked in made it a requirement that all teachers had to do their ICDL qualification within 2 years. They put on free classes (which I ran) and paid for their ICDL fees. The use of computers an technology by students and teachers increased markedly and the quality of assigned work noticeably improved.

I'm not sure that making every teacher do the ICDL will work, but considering there is such a small component of ICT in the teacher training courses then I think we are perpetuating the problem by not helping teachers with decent ICT competence training so they feel confident using technology in the classroom.

Well to help that along here are a couple of links to some free training resources - I can't make it compulsory for all teachers but at least I can gather some free resources.

I came across this one recently - nice neat and simple
In pictures - Simple step by step visual tutorials for MSoffice, Open Office and some web coding.

Teacher Click - Tutorials for teachers in Flash, office

Baycon Tutorials - More Office tutorials going up the fairly advanced topics.