Playstation 4

On February 20th, Sony announced the new Playstation 4.  The specs are much more advanced than the current Playstation 3, but nothing earth shattering.  It looks like their focus will be on some interesting social sharing features of the system.

Here is a video showing the video capabilities of the system:

This video discusses the development process and some of the social sharing aspects of the system:

I am very interested in the social sharing aspect and can't wait to see the great content that gamers share with this system.

Badges and the Help Desk Environment

One of my responsibilities as eLearning Director at Tacoma Community College is to manage our student computer lab, the Information Commons.  In this lab we have a fully staffed help desk for studnets and faculty.  I have been trying to figure out a way to showcase a help desk staff member's expertise with applications to make it easier for students and faculty to find the help they need.  We have a board in the Information Commons with everyone's picture and I thought maybe we could post little icons on the board, but realized we would soon run out of space.  Then I started to hear about an open badge project with Mozilla and became very intrigued.  I recently joined the Open Badges and Assessment group at P2PU and have been learning quite a bit about the Mozilla project.

A way I envision using this open badge system in the Information Commons is to develop assessments around competencies for the different applications/devices we support.  When one of our staff complete an assessment they are awarded a badge that can be added to an Information Commons Help Desk Staff profile page.  This profile page would make it easy for students and faculty to find someone that can help them with their particular issue.  This would help expedite the resolution of a support issue which would make the student/faculty member happy.  In addition, our support staff would have a way to document their skill level with various applications/devices which could be added to a resume or portfolio and help me determine areas of support where we need to build capacity.

A Learner's Story

Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before.  He approaches the help desk to find someone that can help him with Excel.  One of the help desk staff, Amy, follows Andy to his work station to give him a hand.  Andy explains the issue he is having and Amy realizes that this issue is outside her area of expertise with Excel.  Amy goes back to the help desk and asks her colleagues if anyone has the skill necessary to help Andy.  She finds Bob who knows how to do this and brings him over to Andy.  Bob is able to show Andy how to plot data in Excel and Andy is able to finish his project.

How Badges Can Help

With the implementation of badges in the help desk environment staff members can showcase their competencies with various applications.  This will make it much easier for end users to determine who will be their best line of support with a given issue saving valuable time.

A Learner's Story with Badges

Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before.  Andy opens up the help desk staff page on his computer in the lab to see who might be avialable to assist him with his project.  He sorts the list by Excel and further by charts/graphs.  He sees that Bob has sufficient experience and will be coming on duty in a few minutes.  He sends Bob a quick email message letting him know what computer he is on.  When Bob comes to work he checks his messages and notices a message from Andy stating he needs help with Excel and heads to the listed work station to provide support.

Miter Saw Station

I was finally able to complete my miter saw station project!  It took a lot longer than expected (mainly because I kept putting it off).  I purchased the plan a while back from PlansNOW (http://www.plansnow.com/) and customized it a bit to fit the saw.  I also picked up the Rockler (http://www.rockler.com/) aluminum T-track (double) from the Sumner Woodworker Store (http://www.sumnerwoodworkerstore.com/) instead of building it out of wood.  It was a great purchase except for the tape measure inserts.  For some reason they extruded a bulge on the bottom of the instert which makes it impossible to slide in the track with the screws, so will have to shave it down a bit.

Here are the pix:

Front View (Extended)

Front View (Collapsed)Side View (Collapsed)

SoftChalk and Moodle 2.0

When it comes to eLearning content creation I am a big SoftChalk fan.  One of the great things about this tool is it will publish SCORM compliant packages for Learning Management Systems so an instructor's activities can post to the gradebook automatically.  They have had this working for Blackboard, Angel and Moodle 1.x already.  I was pleasantly surprised today to find out that they have created integration guides for Moodle 2.0!  So if you are SoftChalk user and Moodle 2.0 user you should check these out:

http://support.softchalk.com/FileManagement/Download/5eefaab891744e8d93a431433d51ed12

In addition they have updated the SoftChalk Student Guide.  You can find that here:

http://support.softchalk.com/FileManagement/Download/f63c73ce33fb45f091657ba93a4d92b0

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory helped me "school" the younger generation this weekend. On Saturday I picked up the latest installment of the "Mortal Kombat" video game series. My stepsons and nephews were pretty excited and quite certain they were going to mop up the floor with the "old man". Little did they know that I had spent quite a bit of time in my youth playing the original game and that the latest installment of the series brought back some of the classic characters with their signature moves. I was amazed at how my hands were able to recall all of those previous hours of "practice" and allowed me to easily dispatch the younger generation. Sometimes being old isn't all that bad.