Australia & New Zealand

The ThinkVision Pro2840M 4K display

The ThinkVision Pro2840M 4K display

It’s been a highlight of consumer electronics shows for quite a few years now, but 4K hasn’t been on most people’s agenda because of cost or the availability of content. That’s all changed this year, with a slew of new product announcements from video manufacturers: cameras, recorders and displays. So you can expect more and more 4K content to start appearing (like this year’s World Cup). When 4K displays first appeared, they were tens of thousands of dollars. They’ve steadily come down in price, with our new ThinkVision Pro2840m display priced very affordably. This new display is compatible with most current Lenovo PCs, so 4K is now something you can think about for your own desk. First of all, what is 4K? Just to get the names straight, 4K is also called UHD – ultra high definition – and 2160p. In short, 4K is a new, higher, standard resolution for video displays. It’s double the resolution of “Full HD” in both dimensions – 3840x2160 pixels, for four times the overall display resolution – 8.6 megapixels vs just over 2 megapixels. Why go 4K? Everything looks better. Apart from the higher resolution, the pixels on our new display are much smaller, so details are sharper. Digital photos look fantastic. Web apps become amazing. Games leap up to another level. Phenomenal video The newest top-end home and professional video cameras can shoot video at 4K. Apart from...

Continue reading “4K video is now within reach.”

Lenovo panel at EduTECH

Lenovo panel at EduTECH

Lenovo sponsored two panel discussions at this year's EduTECH conference to reflect on the direction of education technology in Australia. We were delighted that four of Australia's best qualified and most experienced educational technologists agreed to join our panel. They were: Travis Smith, national education specialist at Microsoft. As a former teacher, assistant principal and university lecturer in education, Travis has plenty of 'on the ground' experience of how technology is working (or not!) in all kinds of schools. Mike Reading, Australia's first Google certified teacher and Google Apps for Education certified trainer. As a working teacher who's presented professional development training for thousands of teachers, Mike also has a wealth of current real-world experience. Jim Cook, innovation lead at the University of Sydney, overseeing their design lab. Jason Jacobs, education specialist at Intel. BYOD The panel agreed that "BYOD" (bring your own device) had a range of meanings that needed to be clarified. At one extreme it can mean "bring any device that's connected and has a screen". At the other, it can mean mandating a particular device, but getting parents to pay for it. As Travis noted, the latter approach can give parents a misleading impression: "I've forked over $800-900 for a device, so my kid had better be computer-literate at the end of the term." "Many think the type of device doesn't matter....

Continue reading “The future of technology in education”

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao

With his Chinese upbringing and undergraduate study and American postgraduate experience, University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao brings a genuine international perspective to education. He's also a very entertaining speaker. He began his EduTECH keynote with a challenging statistic: 53% of recent American graduates can't get a job in their chosen field. "Giving us the the best qualified generation of bartenders ever." Yet there's a widely reported "global talent shortage". So what's going on? Zhao believes we're entering a "second machine age". In the first, steam power replaced horse power (and the horses were in no position to complain). Now machines are replacing cognitive functions. "If you can describe a job step by step, it will be replaced. We have a surplus of lawyers in the US. Search engines took over much of the work they used to do." Yet traditionally undervalued talents have become valued – "Who'd have thought Kim Kardashian had marketable skills?" The traditional education paradigm, which Zhao describes as "Funneling diverse people through standardised schooling to deliver employable skills," isn't working any more. He sees creativity as the key to future job security and believes our education model stifles creative types – "They're troublemakers." Schools and universities should focus on personalised education, enhancing people's strengths, cultivating skills that can't be replaced by...

Continue reading “Creativity = future job security”

Conrad Wolfram

Conrad Wolfram

Continuing the EduTECH theme of challenging educational conventions, Conrad Wolfram of Wolfram Research took the stage to tell us that "Maths has a major problem. It's a real-world subject solving real-world problems, but maths education is a lot of hand calculating." He sees four elements to maths: 1. Define questions 2. Translate the real world into mathematical terms 3. Compute the answers 4. Interpret the results (from maths back to the real world) We spend 80% of student time on step 3, when we should be spending 80% on the other three elements. He believes maths education should assume the use of computers to make this happen. "The important thing is to know how to set up the equation. Not how to calculate the equation. Let a computer do it!" He gave us a demonstration of the practical value of this, solving a complex cubic equation on his phone. "Something most university students couldn't do by hand." He ran through some of the capabilities of the new Wolfram language, showing it producing visual examples of calculus and thermodynamics in action – "making these subjects suitable for primary school." In response to critics who say you have to "get the basics first", he asks, "Do we need to build a car to drive it? Traditional maths teaching is mechanically focused, not problem focused. The mechanics of the moment is different from the essence of the subject." Incidentally, it was great to see Conrad was using his Lenovo...

Continue reading “Stop teaching calculating. Start teaching maths.”

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson

The star keynote speaker at EduTECH, Sir Ken Robinson, has been advocating fundamental change in our education system since his landmark report to the British government in the late 1990s. Well-known around the world, not least from his most-watched-TED-talk-of-all-time, Sir Ken got a huge reception from the capacity crowd at EduTECH. While his delivery is charming and witty, his message is very blunt: "Our current education system was designed for a completely different world from today's. The global education reform movement is catastrophically misconceived and must be opposed." He's particularly concerned with the growing emphasis on PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings and other standardised measures. "It's increasing anxiety about education and is simply grotesque." "We should think of education very differently from the way we've thought about it in the past. We should think about kids differently from the way we have in the past. And we need to think about teaching differently from the way we've thought of it in the past." And the need to think differently about them is very, very urgent." He believes we should shift the emphasis from "outputs" to culture, likening our current approach to unsustainable industrial agriculture that only considers yield,...

Continue reading ““We need a revolution in education.””