Archives For June 2012

Children of today grow up surrounded by an online experience, both directly and indirectly. They use computers to do their homework, play games, communicate with friends and access the wealth of information on the web. It is prudent to say that computers give children access to many positive experiences.Nevertheless, parents must be vigilant when facing challenges in monitoring what their children see online, the people they meet, and the information they share.

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By now, most people have had a preview in some shape or form at the upcoming installment of Windows 8 which is due to be released in October this year. There are two big issues which have vexed many peoples minds; Firstly, Microsoft have decided that axing the Start Menu in favour for the ‘Metro’ tile driven menu is a good idea. This steads well with the change in Human Interface Device(HID) transitioning from traditional keyboard and mouse input to a  greater percentage of touch driven devices. Microsoft acknowledged that there was an issue in certain cases trying to accurately press on traditional icons with touch input so the Metro style interface was created. However, has this been done at the expense of a huge percentage of machines which still operate efficiently with a keyboard and mouse?

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Sidmouth College has deployed a free piece of software called Triptico, www.triptico.co.uk.

Triptico is an excellent resource for teachers to use in conjunction with their interactive whiteboards and currently contains a plethora of interactive resources  which can be easily edited and adapted.

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The Student Development Department (SDD) have recently purchased a suite of new LG Flatron NW194WA network monitors featuring desktop virtualisation. These machines are an ideal upgrade for the department as they take up a much smaller physical footprint than their traditional counterparts as well as saving energy. These machines are connected via the network to a dedicated server which gives each computer its own virtualised desktop allowing pupils to log on and access their work. These machines are powerful enough to handle the demand from students for internet browsing, word processing as well as some image manipulation. Due to their design, they have a long shelf life as the server takes the operating system and computational load.

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Room 20 has been given a complete technological overhaul with 23 new Dell Optiplex computers installed. These machines feature faster graphical and physical processing capabilities benefiting pupils and teachers alike. Much of the work carried out in room 20 involves CAD (computer aided design), CNC design, as well as large scale picture manipulation which demands higher resources. The old machines which have been removed have been upgraded and redistributed around the collage to areas where graphically intensive operations are not paramount.  There have been many positive comments and praise from pupils and staff since the machines were installed at the beginning of June. The Sidmouth College IT services commitment to the environment ensured that any hardware which was not able to be reused within the college was disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

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FreeMind

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FreeMind is a mind-mapping software which is Java based and designed to run on Windows and Apple platforms. The software is free to download from this link. This software provides a host of the features found in other packages which can be bought (such as Inspiration 8). FreeMind has been installed on all the schools computers and allows pupils to edit a hierarchical set of ideas around a central concept. The non-linear approach assists in mapping out new outlines and projects as ideas are added around the creation.

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People who subscribe to BT broadband could be losing out on their bandwidth as well as leaving themselves open to a plethora of problems! On the 4th October 2007 BT announced a collaboration with Fon, a Spanish company which deals in dual access WiFi to help create a huge WiFi network accross the country utilising BT WiFi hubs as the broadcasting unit. The idea is that if you have a Fon enabled device then you are given a unique access credential meaning that you can use any other FON hotspot in the UK free of charge.

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Sidmouth College PE department have acquired a Viewsonic ViewPad 10 for completing SIMS lesson registrations whilst out on the field. Traditionally a paper register had to be taken and then taken up to the office for processing and entered into SIMS. Now the process can be completed a great deal quicker ensuring that pupil information is up to date and any problems can be identified and actioned quickly. It also allows the PE staff to report any incidents such as pupil behavioral problems at the time of the incident so action can be taken more swiftly to remedy any problems.

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