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Project Register

17 July 2009 (Friday)

posted Jul 17, 2009, 4:30 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 17, 2009, 6:19 AM by Eddie Woo ]

The Major Project is over!!!

Good news - with 45 minutes to spare, I have completely finished my Major Project!

Suffice to say, I haven't slept much in the past few days - in fact, none at all for 36 hours (no joke). However, I have managed to get a massive amount of work done:
  • All Fuel for Project Registers questions have been completed, including the creation of my Project Register Repository.
  • All parts of Component 3B (Support Documentation) have been completed - design specs, record of the information processes, Gantt chart, case studies, and peer critique of Kevin's multimedia system.
  • I have written a register post on the Major Project viewed in terms of the structure continuum, set some time ago but which I never got around to doing.
  • I have put the finishing touches on my final release of the English portfolio.
  • I have decided against transcribing the second debate that I had recorded, due to time (and energy) constraints. A mere 4-minute MP3 file can take a surprisingly long time to transcribe accurately, as I found out while transcribing the first debate.
  • I have gone through some old project register posts to tidy things up and label some specific examples of the items specified in Component 2.
  • As of earlier today, I had finally achieved a round 30 replies to my survey. This data was collated into a spreadsheet, and used to generate several interesting graphs and statistics for the numerical component of my multimedia assignment.
  • I successfully edited the videos I had recorded of one of the groups from 10K presenting their Macbeth theatre designs. This was achieved in Windows Movie Maker - the long video clip was split up and transitions (fades, nothing too intrusive or cheesy) added between distinct parts of the presentation, as well as explanatory title slides. The pictures I had taken of the posters and drawings being presented were originally intended for uploading on the Intranet - however, as video was now an optional component already, I decided to incorporate my image data into the video product for greater relevance to the end user. In other words - through the camera it is hard to clearly see the poster/artwork the presenters are referring to, so I displayed the photograph of the appropriate drawing on the video for several seconds before the segment where it was discussed.
  • The final video, totalling 14 minutes and 9 seconds, then had to be split up into 2 parts (due to YouTube's 10-minute restriction on videos). I ultimately succeeded in uploading these to YouTube and making these available on the Intranet. However, one issue I encountered was the convoluted way YouTube treats Google Accounts. I attempted to create a new, entirely separate "apocalipticdesign" account for uploading these videos, however I also happened to have signed in to my Gmail account earlier that day - for some reason, it signed me back into this personal account while uploading the videos. Thus, both videos now appear to have been created under my personal "ninesevennine979" account. Hopefully this will not be an issue, as I have never used this account to upload or comment on YouTube videos in the past.
  • As video was only an optional component, I rated it as a lower priority than other parts of my project throughout the recent few days' work. As such, time constraints mean that I will not at this stage be able to edit and upload the rest of my collected video data by the 12pm midnight due date.
  • My multimedia system is in 2 sections of the main English site - the Debating section contains both audio and my text transcript, while the video/image (combined) and numerical data have been placed in the "Behind The Scenes" section. I have divided this into two categories - "What You Do" for student work (i.e. the videos I took), and "What You Think" for student opinions (i.e. results of my survey). This template should hopefully allow future aD team members to continue on and create more rich multimedia resources.
That's all I can think of right now that is worth mentioning.

And that is OFFICIALLY it - the major project is finally COMPLETE! =)

Component 3B - v. Constructive peer critique

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:41 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 17, 2009, 6:15 AM by Eddie Woo ]

Write a constructive critique of a peer’s multimedia system, assessing it and assigning an appropriate mark based on how competently it achieves the two stated purposes.

I am constructively critiquing Kevin Guo's multimedia system (PD/H/PE).

The multimedia system that Kevin has developed centres around various aspects of the annual Athletics carnival. I  believe that this was an excellent subject choice - the Athletics carnival is a highly important event in our school calendar, and is extremely relevant to his PD/H/PE portfolio. In addition, the Athletics carnival is really the only carnival that everyone can get involved in - not all people can swim, and not everyone is fit enough to run an entire cross country without stopping. As all the content centres around one main event, this also means that it is all located in the same place within his portfolio. Kevin has kindly placed a link on the main page to this section (denoting it "Feature page") as a means to skip the traditional hierarchical navigation.

The landing page greets us with a nice picture of hurdles, and the words "Ruse Athletics" emblazoned on it. Hypertext links to different sections of the multimedia system are clearly defined on the right hand side of the page, so that there can be no confusion as to where else to go. This is certainly a very functional opening page.

The first section, "Quick information on field events", is actually quite comprehensive. Each of the field events offered at school athletics carnivals are discussed in depth, along with appropriate rules and techniques for success. The main method of conveying information is text, and in this particular case it is ideal. Relevant image data as photographs and diagrams are also included for illustrative and explanatory purposes.

The "School records" section is very thorough, covering every single age group for both boys and girls. I can see that Kevin has put in a lot of effort to create this section and enter all the numerical data accurately. These pages would be a valuable resource for young Ruse athletes looking to train up or compare their progress with the best out there, especially as Athletics Carnival programs are only available on one day of each year.

Ah, the house war cries - these are an essential part of the fighting spirit and friendly compotition between the houses. I really like how Kevin has taken the initiative of recording himself chanting these war cries - you can really hear the passion, as he cheers for a house that isn't even his own! I know that time and resources were limited during the school term, however possible improvements could include getting an actual crowd to perform their house's war cry for the microphone. Also, two of the links to the Toft war cries were broken at the time of writing, although I have informed Kevin of this and he will presumably fix them up. One other suggestion for this section is to allow the audio file to be streamed directly on the page. I originally attempted to help Kevin set this up, however it turns out the files must be in MP3 format for it to work (his are WAV), so I guess they are stuck like that for now. They are only short files anyway, so it is not too intrusive.

EDIT: ok, Kevin fixed the links while I was writing this post.

Finally, the last 4 hyperlinks lead to photo albums. One of these was entirely created by Kevin - bringing the camera, taking photos, organising them, and uploading them - while the other three link to existing pages on the Intranet that Mr. Woo had created. Nice work Kevin on taking the initiative again to take photos at zone, especially on a day when you were also competing in events.

Thus, text and hypertext are ubiquitous throughout Kevin's multimedia system. Images include photographs and explanatory diagrams, and generally are used appropriately. Audio is taken care of by the war cries, while numbers abounded in the school records section. Video, as an optional component, has not been included in this portfolio - however, this is because Kevin's filmed material was on the camera tape that went missing. I assisted Kevin in the filming of his material, a demonstration/instruction video for the "throwing" field events, and I believe that if it had not been lost, then Kevin would have been able to make a valuable resource for other school students to use. Certainly he could apply his war cry skills to a voiceover on the video!

I did notice a couple of small typos and formatting/layout inconsistencies throughout the system, however this is not really too much of an issue.

I believe that Kevin's chosen genre of event promotion has been more than adequately fulfilled by his acquisition, creation, and uploading of relevant multimedia content. He has gone to great lengths to transfer existing content onto the Intranet, and where it is not available he has taken the initiative and created his own. Great work Kevin - I would award his multimedia system an 11/12. With a few minor improvements and further "showcasing the unique strengths of a variety of media types", that could quite easily be a 12/12.

Component 3B - iv. Multimedia system case studies

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:39 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 11:19 PM by Eddie Woo ]

Research three comparable multimedia systems (e.g. websites, television broadcasts, radio programs etc. that align with the chosen genre of your multimedia system) that are professionally produced and designed, and write a case study of how each uses its particular medium effectively.

Case Study 1: NationMaster
Note: this case study aligns with the numerical component (statistics) of my multimedia mini-assignment.

NationMaster, "a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations",
combines selective elements of multimedia to effectively convey information to its intended audience. As the name and description suggest, this website allows end users to compare nations from around the globe in terms of a wide range of graphable measures. These can concern aspects such as agriculture, crime, economy, government, lifestyle, religion, and sports; with many individual sets of statistics under each category.

NationMaster's home page, as shown on the right (click image to view full size), at first glance does not appear to be anything particularly special. The standard banner ads and list of links running down the sides do not do much to distinguish it from any other website out there. However, the large slogan "NationMaster: Where Stats Come Alive!" quickly draws our attention to the interesting-looking image of a pie chart. The testimonials from the NY Times and BBC World, though not immediately obvious, further serve to draw the viewer in.
The observant will also notice a randomly generated "interesting fact" has been placed up top; an example of how simple text can interest and engage a viewer.

By now the viewer's attention will have been drawn to the search box near the top of the page. A quick glance at the drop-down selection menu reveals that there is a huge selection of categories and an even larger number of statistics available; a fact that is supported by the unobtrusive box above. This subtle use of numerical data in conjunction with hypertext serves to drive home the sheer amount of data available, while linking interested viewers to more information.

Let's take a look at one example of a graph that this system cam produce. Under the Economy category, the GDP by country statistic can be presented as either a bar graph, pie chart, or map (click images to view full-size):

The first graph is a barely functional bar graph. Things get interesting with the pie chart - one can hover the mouse cursor over each sector of the pie to see what country it corresponds to; and clicking it will lead to more statistics for that country. Finally, the world map represents different values as a range of colours, and clicking on a region will "zoom-in" on that area for a closer look. These hypermedia links make the presentation truly interactive.

Thus, the creator of this website has definitely succeeded in creating an interesting and engaging multimedia presentation without even needing to use complex videos or audio. The primary mediums being used here are simple - text, numbers, and images (to display graphs) - yet the viewer is compelled and encouraged to try different statistics, to play around with the system. I certainly did.

Case Study 2: Sydney Morning Herald
Note: this case study aligns with the audio component (news coverage) of my multimedia mini-assignment.

The Sydney Morning Herald website, just like its actual newspaper counterpart, is a trusted and widely used source for news, weather, and other information relevant to people living in Sydney. This site provides breaking news, up-to-date articles, and opinions covering events both locally and internationally.

Taking just a quick glimpse at SMH's front page as shown on the right (click image to view full size), it is evident that nearly all the different types of multimedia are present. Text is the primary medium to convey information through headlines and brief descriptions, hypermedia links to further details on specific stories, numbers are present in the weather update at top-left of screen, images are used for decoration and to draw the viewer's attention to certain areas, and animation is present in the form of an advertisement (although this animation cannot be seen in the screenshot). The only thing that's really missing is audio, and with good reason - not only would it be intrusive for the end user, but it would also serve little practical purpose on a news-based website, which by its very nature is updated all the time.

Scrolling further down the page, we see that there is clearly a huge amount of content available for perusal, divided into specific sections of interest. See the below screenshots (click images to view full size):
The left-most image shows that video is in fact present right on the SMH homepage, in the form of a seamless streaming flash player that does not intrude upon the rest of the viewing experience. More numerical data can also be seen in the "Business" section, in particular the stocks and graphs for the ASX. The centre image reflects a continuation of the same general layout template further down the page, with images and text used in a similar manner. Finally, the right-most image depicts the bottom of the page - the top 5 most viewed news articles across a range of news websites are hyperlinked to for viewer's convenience. This is an example of analysis (sorting, identifying patterns and trends) of multimedia articles (by contrast, the ASX graph would be an example of multimedia as analysis) to increase the meaning and relevance of information to end users.

Clearly, the SMH website has done a good job at establishing a consistent layout and sticking to it as new stories turn up (which is almost all the time). For a regular visitor, this can be considered as a familiar and established place to check a wide variety of news stories across a broad range of categories. Viewers can even watch videos, browse photo galleries, and view other multimedia presentations seamlessly within the one webpage. However, for the unitiated the site may just seem a bit overwhelming; as if there is an explosion of information. Nevertheless, as a reasonably regular visitor I believe that SMH's website is another prime example of the effective use of multimedia on an Internet site.

Case Study 3: PowerShift
this case study aligns with the video component (subject promotion) of my multimedia mini-assignment.

PowerShift was a mass youth gathering, held recently over three days
(July 11-13) as a public demonstration in support of action against climate change. This was the website set up to help promote and spread awareness and support of the event amongst Sydney's youth. (Note: I am not including the PowerShift stickers which ended up all over our school as part of this case study!)

Despite the actual formal rally of PowerShift having passed, the website remains active to celebrate the event and what they achieved, as can be seen to the right (click image to view full size). The main header logo remains the same as it was before the event - bright, bold, attractive, and especially appealing to young people. The remainder of the page is largely filled with articles describing the success of PowerShift. A combination of the various media types has been used to great effect on this main page. Text and hypertext are ubiquitous as always; many photographs have been used to decorate articles and draw the viewer's attention whereas logos (such as of Twitter and YouTube) are used as hypermedia to denote links leading to these external sites. Several seamless flash video players have also been embedded on the webpage, allowing videos relating to this event to be streamed from YouTube and played right on the page. Also, though it cannot be seen in the screenshot, the "features" box in the top-right of the page is continuously scrolling through a list of relevant articles and links. This is an example of animation; however it has been implemented well in order to be noticeable but not draw the viewer's entire attention away from content on the rest of the page.

Multimedia has been used to a great extent throughout the PowerShift site (click images to view full size):

The left-most image shows the "Features" articles page. A major "headline" article with picture takes priority at the top of the page, while hypertext linking to articles runs down the page. Smaller thumbnail images have been used to illustrate individual articles. The centre image shows off the very intuitive and user-friendly menu system which PowerShift have implemented into the top navigation bar of their site. Although it cannot be technically classified as multimedia (apart from perhaps clever use of hypermedia; or animation that only occurs when the mouse cursor moves over a certain part of the nevigation bar), this system assists in the usability and logical organisation of information on the website. The right-most picture shows PowerShift's "Media Room" - this displayed live "tweets" from Twitter during the event; as well as videos (such as of the "flash dance"), photos, and general news updates concerning PowerShift.

Out of the three case studies, I would have to say that PowerShift gives the most appealing first impression. And so it should - the site is specifically targeted at Australia's increasingly tech-savvy youth, notorious for their short attention span. Perhaps this is due to the large number of photos of people - many visitors will be looking to see themselves or their friends pictured at one of the events. The use of multimedia within the PowerShift website has been carefully engineered for maximum impact; ensuring that its overall message is conveyed effectively.

Component 3B - iii. Gantt chart update

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:39 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 8:04 PM by Eddie Woo ]

The original major project Gantt chart should be updated to include a projected timeline for the development of this information subsystem.

The updated Gantt chart is attached to this page; in XLS, XLSX, and PDF formats.

As with Blair's Gantt chart, I have greyed out all events and tasks prior to the Multimedia Mini-Assignment being handed out. I have left the original scheduling intact, although I have added a few notes to explain why some aspects never eventuated. During Term 2 of 2009 - we were given the multimedia assignment, then had our half-yearly exams, then I was given several hundred files to upload (for the main part of the project), then we had to prepare for our HSC IPT assessment exam, and then finally collect actual multimedia data (not to mention many assignments from other subjects). Thus, I simply did not have the time to consider any further additions to my portfolio that had been originally proposed.

Component 3B - ii. The 7 information processes

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:38 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 17, 2009, 5:01 AM by Eddie Woo ]

A record of the 7 information processes should be maintained as the multimedia system is developed, including relevant discussion of issues related to software/hardware constraints and design decisions (e.g. organising data: compression levels applied to images, audio and video data).

  • Video and image data were collected using digital cameras:
    • Ria's - Canon IXUS 80IS
    • Mine - Canon PowerShot A470
  • Audio data was collected using Mr. Chandra Handa's Sony IC audio recorder
  • Numerical data was collected from other people; using Facebook, MSN, Google Talk, and other email/IM platforms as a communication service
  • Video data from the IXUS was organised into AVI format; at a resolution of 640 x 480 and framerate of 30fps
  • Video data from the PowerShot was organised into AVI format; at a resolution of 640 x 480 and framerate of 20fps
  • Image data from the IXUS was organised (lossy compression) into JPG format at a resolution of 3264 x 2448
  • Image data from the PowerShot was organised (lossy compression) into JPG format at a resolution of 1600 x 1200 (the image size was accidentally set to medium, as I discovered later on)
  • Audio data from the Sony recorder was organised (lossy compression) into MP3 format at a bitrate of 192kbps
  • Numerical data was organised into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
  • Once my video product had been completely edited, Windows Movie Maker organised it into a single WMV file.
  • My completely edited, final video product was uploaded (in two parts, due to the 10-minute limit on each video) to YouTube. I added a title and description to each video to more accurately describe its contents, and YouTube also automatically generated a screencap image for each video. These are forms of analysing, which serve to add meaning or purpose to data.
  • I analysed the edited audio data by applying a consistent filenaming convention. I also created a text transcript of the first debate, and have linked to this from the original audio files.
  • The results of my survey were analysed to produce several graphs and interesting statistics/trends/patterns.
  • Each audio file, when opened in Audacity, was analysed to produce a graphical representation (waveform).
  • Video and image data were firstly stored on the camera's memory card. From there:
    • Ria's - it was transferred to my USB flash drive, and then onto the hard drive of my home computer.
    • Mine - it was transferred directly onto the hard drive of my home computer.
  • Audio data was firstly stored on the recorder's internal memory, then copied to my USB flash drive and then onto the hard drive of my computer.
  • Numerical data - the survey and people's answers were stored on Facebook and various email servers; the spreadsheet into which I compiled these answers was stored on my computer's hard drive.
  • The video, image, and audio files were stored on my computer's hard drive while I edited them.
  • The completed multimedia products were stored on the Intranet via the Google Sites infrastructure.
  • The raw video files which I had collected were processed in the software Windows Movie Maker. Long video clips were edited by me - this involved dividing them up into separate sections, adding titles and transition effects (such as fades) between scenes, and also incorporating photographs I had taken (of the posters and drawings being presented) for greater relevance to users.
  • Once the video files were uploaded onto YouTube, YouTube spends some time performing its own processing before the video is made available to watch. This includes such items as converting files to a format appropriate for Internet streaming, creating high-quality and low-quality versions of the video, and generating screencaps.
  • The audio file was originally just one long recording (over 30 minutes) for the whole debate. I had to open it in Audacity to process it, by dividing it up into multiple sections (one per speaker) and editing out unnecessary noises or silences.
  • The raw results of the survey (consisting of a series of letters) were processed to find the number of people who gave a certain response to each question.
  • The completed multimedia products were uploaded to the Intranet (transmitting).
  • End users will have to download the multimedia (at least temporarily) to their computers (receiving).
  • Video and image data were displayed on the viewfinder (small screen on the back of the camera) while recording and during playback mode.
  • The video, image, and numerical data were all displayed on my computer's VDU while I was editing and manipulating them.
  • The audio data was displayed through speakers while I was playing it back and editing it.
  • End users will also experience this multimedia, displayed through their VDU and/or speakers.
    • I made the design decision to allow users to instantly stream the debating audio files from directly on the page, rather than having to download the entire MP3 file and wait for it to all load.

Component 3B - i. Design specifications

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:36 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 7:01 PM by Eddie Woo ]

Design specifications for further audio and video products that would complement the final multimedia system, and incorporate more expansive or difficult goals than are practically possible within the assigned time frame.

Audio: for my actual multimedia assignment, my audio product was to record two debates held at James Ruse. They can be viewed (and listened to) here.

Design specifications for further audio products:
  • More debating - it would be nice if some interested students (or possibly even members of the debating team) would attend future debates and make an audio recording of the speakers.
    • This was why I created the "Debating updates" page; in the hope that someone would record other debates, upload them for others to listen to, and possible create a text transcript (although this is admittedly very time-consuming).
    • Keeping this updates page alive would ultimately serve to raise awareness and interest throughout the school, and may inspire more people to try out for debating next year. It would also be an interesting way to track the progress of our debating teams (hopefully) to the state finals.
    • In the limited timeframe, I was unable to obtain any information about debating teams in years 7-8 or 11-12; these could form further audio products.
  • Interviews (shorter)
    • With teachers - mainly discussing English as a subject, what makes it enjoyable for students and teachers, why students should take more English units for HSC
    • With students from a range of grades - mainly discussing what they like about English, what they think of it as a subject, how many units they plan to / are taking for senior years and why
  • Speeches and oral presentations from in class? (admittedly some people will not find this particularly interesting)
Video: for my actual multimedia assignment, my video product was to film 10K in English presenting their theatre design concepts for Macbeth. However, as video is only optional, I may not end up uploading this onto the Intranet due to time constraints.

Design specifications for further video products:
  • Interviews (longer)
    • With teachers (especially Mr. Chandra Handa) - more in-depth discussion about teacher's background, career, why they teach English, what they like about it, what advice they have for budding writers, etc.
      • Ask Mr. Chandra Handa to dance? (unlikely)
    • With students - perhaps edit together a montage of short clips (similar to Blair's Mathematics at JRAHS video), students from different grades each saying a few lines about English and why it's so great
  • Class performances (e.g. interpretations of plays)
    • Main aim - to showcase how English can be and is fun
  • Humorous videos about/promoting English
    • Would require an original script and willing actors
    • Prefect News spin-off? Parodies of a text studied in class?

Outcome H7.2 - Project Register Repository

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:35 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 7:01 PM by Eddie Woo ]

H7.2: Create your project register Repository - an index of all your project register posts.

My Project Register Repository, a comprehensive index of all my Project Register posts, has been created here. It has been subdivided into three categories (represented as three separate tables) - dated entries regarding specific progress on the main project, entries addressing the Fuel for Project Registers outcomes (such as this one), and entries for Assessment Component 3B (Support Documentation) of the Multimedia Mini-Assignment.

This Project Register Repository is my formal submission for outcome H7.2 of Fuel for Project Registers.

Outcome H7.1 - Management techniques

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:34 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 3:15 PM by Eddie Woo ]

H7.1: Explain the management techniques used during this project.

Assessment Component 1, the Project Prospectus, was instrumental to the management and planning of this entire Major Project. As the very first step to be covered in the project, the prospectus allowed us to get a clear idea and overview of what was involved with this project:
  • the project personnel (participants) - who we are working with
  • objectives and outcomes - the overall purpose of the project
  • methods and procedures - what we would be doing
  • available resources - what we could use
  • context diagram - interactions (and movement of data) between the system and its environment
  • Gantt chart - a rough timeline of what we should be doing
The Project Prospectus was an invaluable resource throughout the entire project, and is particularly useful to bring things back to what was originally planned and track progress in that manner.

Assessment Component 2, the Project Register, was another vital management technique. Looking through posts right back to the beginning allows individual aD team members to track "all actions and developments associated with the project". The Project Register never lies - every entry is timestamped, and thus is a true measure of one's progress (or lack thereof) throughout the project timeframe. Events, actions, and milestones recorded in the past act as a permanent record (more permanent than human memory, at least), and are extremely helpful in writing the support documentation (Assessment Component 3B) and these Fuel for Project Registers entries. The register can also serve as an interesting manifestation and reflection of one's personal time management skills and temperament when up against a deadline. Mr. Woo, who is responsible for supervising and guiding the entire team, has used these Project Registers to follow our individual progress during the development of our portfolios.

The Gantt chart, first created as part of the Project Prospectus and later updated during the Multimedia Mini-Assignment, was also a crucial tool for effective scheduling and time management. As a graphical representation of the time allotted to various tasks throughout the duration of the project, the Gantt chart allows its user to quickly see at a glance where they are compared to where they should be. It also allows long-term goals and objectives to be broken up into more specific and concrete tasks, each with its own planned timeframe. Ideally, the original schedule planned out in the Gantt chart should be stuck to - however, for one reason or another this doesn't always happen in real life.

Effective communication with both system participants and end users is necessary as a management technique. Obtaining feedback from those who have tested out the system during development is an important way to identify any problems and make further improvements. Independent and impartial feedback can give you an honest appraisal (constructive criticism) of what you have done so far, and may even pick up something that you missed completely. A prime example of this was the class discussion and feedback following our "elevator pitches" for the multimedia mini-assignment - someone very helpfully suggested that I do a survey for numerical data, which I had not thought of before.

Outcome H6.1 - Solution for the 2010 aD team

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:34 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 4:14 PM by Eddie Woo ]

H6.1: Based on your answer to the H4.1 question, propose a solution for the 2010 apocalipticDesign team to develop and implement next year.

The most significant development, technology-wise, that will be affecting the James Ruse school environment during the next year is the introduction of laptops. As an accelerated HSC class, the 2010 aD team will be in year 9 as of now (2009) - they are the first grade to receive the laptops from the government, so this proposal should be particularly relevant to them. Besides the laptops, I do not anticipate that there will be any events more relevant to the members of the 2010 aD team. I also believe that with the new Intranet only just recently launched and finding its way into the school community, it is a little bit too early to begin trialling the system of distributing permission notes online.

Thus, I propose that the 2010 aD team investigates, develops, and implements a solution to integrate the work done on their new laptops with the school Intranet. This could involve creating a new subdomain, possibly or (as they are year 10 in 2010). Ideally, once a solution has been identified and planned, their entire grade (equipped with laptops) should be involved in the trial.

From next year, it is expected that students will be using their laptops to some extent in almost all of their classes. As the laptops have a wireless network card, the school will be installing wireless access to the school network and Internet throughout all the classrooms in the school. This means that the laptops can access the Intranet at any time while in class.

A decision needs to be made as to whether normal work (such as classwork exercises) should be created in a Word document then uploaded to the site, or whether they can simply be created as new posts in an "Announcements" type page (just like this Project Register, or my Updates page). I propose that regular classwork should simply be created as update posts - special formatting is usually not required, and images can be easily inserted. Actual assignments and assessment tasks, on the other hand, should still be done in Microsoft Word (and maybe still printed and handed in as per usual) for presentation and marking purposes.

The layout of such a site would be vaguely similar to the Sandbox here on Woo Random Files or the current arrangement on Mr. Chandra Handa's Gifted Learning site. Each student would have their own personal page to decorate and personalise, under which all their schoolwork for different subjects would be posted. Perhaps at the end of the year students could look back at this digital record of all they have achieved and reflect on how this has helped their learning experience.

Of course, there are issues with students being able to view other student's work. However, the idea is that students should be collaborating and commenting on each other's work, not plagiarising. Students should be warned that Google Sites keeps a record of all actions.

The software included with the new laptops, including a suite of Adobe software, suggests that students will be involved in creating a variety of rich multimedia presentations. Indeed, the laptops contain an integrated webcam. Allowances on the new site must be made for the storage and sharing of such produced multimedia. One possible solution is to host the files on external sites, such as YouTube for videos and Flickr for images. However, negotiations with the DET will be required to ensure that these sites are not blocked.

Outcome H4.1 - Emerging information needs

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:33 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 2:16 PM by Eddie Woo ]

H4.1: What emerging information needs is James Ruse likely to face in the next 5, 20 and 50 years? How will the intranet meet these needs?

5 years (2014):
Within the next 5 years, the most significant change to hit the James Ruse information environment will undoubtedly be the new laptops. These computers are already being rolled out to year 9 students this year, and within the next five years it is likely that most (if not all) students in the school will have been supplied with one. The continual use of laptops in classrooms would necessitate a school-wide wireless network - it would be simply impractical for 30 students to walk into the room, take out their laptops, and plug them into the wall network socket with a cable. Hundreds of students using their laptops at the same time would place a severe strain on the already-struggling school network capabilities. Furthermore, the software included with these laptops suggests that students will be increasingly working with digital multimedia (such as images, audio, and video) which by its very nature requires more data to be transmitted and received. If these data-intense resources were to be distributed over the school Intranet, an exorbitant amount of hard disk space on the Google Sites servers would be taken up (likely accompanied by an exorbitant fee). To overcome this, students could upload their multimedia to external hosting websites (such as YouTube for videos and Flickr for images) - however, they would have to ensure that the DET has not decided to block such sites.

Another key issue is that by this time, the first students (i.e. most likely 1 or 2 years from now) to use the Intranet to upload their work and assignments will have graduated and left James Ruse. What do we do with the data they have left behind - delete it forever, let everyone else access it, or just take a copy and archive it? If this problem persists and the school chooses to archive the data of successive years, clearly the store of accumulated data will be massive and require a huge amount of storage space. Permission would have to be obtained from each and every student in question before action can be taken.

By 2014, it is likely that the majority of permission notes will have been moved online, to a new dedicated section of the Intranet. Students will still probably have to print out notes and get their parents to sign as per usual - though perhaps by this time, we may be trialling online methods of payment (such as through BPay and online banking). Some serious difficulties will be faced in merging together two completely different systems - the confidential school database containing records of who needs to pay for what, and the basic content management system provided by Google Sites. Google Sites itself will probably have undergone several changes by this time, but none which severely impact upon the functioning of the Intranet.

20 years (2029):
By the time 2029 rolls around, it is likely that just about all computer-related tasks will be done in the "cloud" (i.e. over the Internet), ranging from school to work to play. 20 years is a long time in technology terms, and we can expect to see great increases in processing power and hard disk storage space.

As part of the cloud, the intranet will form a crucial part of school life at James Ruse in 20 years. By this time all work will be stored and worked on through the Intranet - the cloud's widespread use in global society will mean nothing more than a web browser is needed to create documents with rich formatting. There will be no excuses for handing in work late - all students will be expected to have their completed assignments in the cloud by the due date.

Ubiquitous Internet access will allow updates and announcements to be pushed in real time to the portable computers (maybe laptops, maybe something even smaller) of those students whom it is relevant to. For example, the daysheet would be sent out to every student each day and automatically appear on their screen and the newsletter would be pushed out weekly; while an individual student who needs to see the office would receive a specific notification. It is also likely that a seamless system for parents to digitally "sign" their children's permission notes and pay for activities will have been trialled and put into widespread use throughout the school. Webcams and videoconferencing will allow students to communicate with each other at any time; thus they can collaborate on group projects from the comfort of their own homes.

The sheer amount of new content being introduced to the Intranet by this time will most likely lead to it requiring several major overhauls and redesigns, at least once every 5 years. The current navigation and layout envisioned by the 2009 aD team, while more than sufficient for the near future, will be simply unable to cope with the massive quantities of data to be generated in future. This will be up to the apocalipticDESIGN team for that year to solve.

50 years (2059):
It is likely that residents of the year 2059 will look back on 2009 and wonder how we ever managed to live like that, with such "primitive" technology - that's certainly what we think of life back in 1959! By this time, life will have changed completely. Internet access will be ubiquitous and computing will be truly mobile, with incredibly powerful processing devices in the palm of our hand. Perhaps by this time we will begin to see the development of electronic implants integrated into the human body?

The realm of education will undoubtedly have been revolutionised by the advent of new technologies. The old traditions of copying down notes into an exercise book will seem archaic - in 50 years time, the digital revolution will have completely replaced any previous paper-based methodologies. Alternate means of inputting data (other than the standard keyboard and mouse) into a computer will likely be under development and experimental use, such as voice or even thought control.

Of course, the school Intranet will have to have changed dramatically to keep pace with all these advances in technology. The size and scope of its educational content will have far outgrown the original Google Sites framework upon which it was built. By this time, the NSW Board of Studies will have realised that the number 1 school in the state has been shooting even further ahead of the competition with the use of their new Intranet - in this situation, it is probable that the government would begin implementing a similar intranet system in other schools across the state. Such a system would be custom-built for schools as an overall management tool, with separate permission levels for students (to do their work) and staff (to plan assessment tasks and the like), and advanced security (possibly incorporating biometrics to identify individuals) to protect privacy and confidential data. If the government fails to do such a thing, I would imagine that by this time Mr. Woo would have coded a complete, James Ruse-specific content management system for use by the school. It would no longer be a mere Intranet - this would be an integrated and sophisticated information system, a "super network", encompassing the information needs of the entire James Ruse community in 2059.

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