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Study Opportunities' Blog

Crosswords

We all know that learner activity is far more productive than their sitting watching you PowerPoint. The problem is the time and effort it takes to create meaningful and worthwhile activities. Last week we looked at Quizizz as a re-enforcement and assessment tool. Crosswords can be another fun way to re-enforce vocabulary and help your learners... learn!

Crossword Labs is a free online tool that lets you create crosswords, print them out or even complete them online. When I say free I mean really free - no irritating advertising or clutter. A simple clean interface that allows you to create, print and share crosswords that works as easy as pie.

Crossword Labs also has a huge library of crosswords made by other people (some of which can be used by other teachers in other subjects at school - think of how popular you'll be when you tell them about this free resource!).

To get a little bit of extra capability - and to support the author of this very useful tool - you can choose to pay a once-off lifetime fee of $9.95 for which you will even be able to download the answer keys for crosswords created by other people - so that you don't have to work out the answers on your own! Paid members can also choose to make their crosswords private and protect them with a password.

So how does a tool like Crossword Labs help you as a teacher?

Well, here's an idea to keep your learners busy (and learning) for a lesson or two:

  • Take a section of work that is new to the learners.
  • Provide resources (textbook section, your own notes, online resources).
  • Create a crossword on this section of work.
  • Either print out the crossword or share the online address for the crossword.
  • Let the learners complete the crossword by finding the answers they need in the resources given to them - freeing you up to walk around, watch them work, help them with concepts that they don't understand, etc.

When they have completed the crossword you can then test how much they have learnt by following it up with a Quizizz test that will help you see what work they know and what work they are struggling with!

You could even make the work count for marks.

We've taken the time to create a crossword with all the basic terms for the hardware section of Digital Technology Grade 8 Module 1.1. These terms overlap with CAT Grade 10 and IT grade 10 basic hardware concepts - so teachers of these subjects - you can also use this example for your learners as well!

NB:

If you press enter after typing a word into a line in the crossword then your answer will change from blue to either green (correct) or red (incorrect) to give you an idea of how well you are doing!

Once again, if you create some crosswords that you would like to share with other teachers and readers of this blog then please add a link in the comments. The more we share, the better everyone's life will become!

News:

Windows 7 is officially dead and off life support. Microsoft will no longer issue patches or security updates for Windows 7, so please make sure that your computers have been updated to Windows 10. Please also inform your learners and encourage them to upgrade as well - and make sure that your school's IT department has upgraded all the school computers as well.

Networking and Internet

  • My Broadband compares the cost of a 10 Mbps Uncapped ADSL connection from 2012 with the same connection on Fibre today. Prices have more than halved.

Hardware

There is hope for better batteries yet. We all know that battery technology is the big hurdle between us and better, more powerful, longer lasting mobile devices. Two new technologues show a glimmer of hope on the horizon (maybe in 5 years time):

It's good to know a little about these technologies so that you can talk about future trends where the move to mobile continues and accelerates thanks to better batteries!

Hacking and Security

Software

When talking about subscription software models you can add a new disadvantage. The software company can simply cancel your scubscription at any time for any reason - and you don't even get a refund!

In September / October 2019 Adobe cancelled all Venezuelan user's accounts for their Creative Cloud subscription products. President Trump had just signed an executive order stopping US companies from doing business in Venezuela.

Adobe gave users until the end of October to download their files but claimed that the Presidential order prevented them from giving refunds.

Internet publicity led to Adobe backtracking on the decision not to give refunds - and, by the end of October 2019, reversed its decision to cancel the accounts.

This is an example of one of the possible risks associated with a subscription software license and can serve as a good discsion topic in class.

Social Media

  • How does trolling work? It's hard to describe, explain and teach. Here's a resource that can change that. Troll Factory is a game that puts you into position as a new recruit in a trolling business. your job is to gain followers and reposts by posting on social media using your phone. Your boss sets you tasks and you choose what type of posts to make. You get rated according to how much hate and disinformation you spread. It is an excellent way to see how the whole fake news / trolling business works and, because it takes the form of a game, should help your learners learn and understand the concepts better than if you just explain them.

That's all for this week. Happy teaching!

Comments

Gif Attack!

Deadly pictures. Farmers becoming hackers. SSDs that can double as RAM. Lasers protecting Salmon. A physical key for safety in the digital world.... This week's news is a mixed batch - most of which sounds and feels a little incredible and sci-fi. Enough credible news outlets have reported on the topics to be reasonably sure that none of it is 'fake news' ;-) [and now I have just used an emoji in a blog post, something I never thought I'd ever do!]. Anyhow, there's a lot in this post that will make you shake your head in disbelief and which you can use to amaze and astound your learners.

Gif Attack.

Gif. The image format that allows for animated images to be shared on the web and through social media. The image format that has been intentionally used to physically attack a human being. You see, people who suffer from Epilepsy can have a seizure triggered by flashing lights (that's why there are epilepsy warnings for some video games, movies,etc.). So a Trump supporter (who else would be that dumb and malicious) designed a Gif that would trigger a seizure and then sent it to a reporter that they felt was criticising the president too much. He also made his intentions clear by putting “You deserve a seizure for your post” below the image. A Texas jury has just ruled that a Gif image can be considered a deadly weapon. Read the fascinating story at here and here Digital Trends. The person responsible tried to hide his tracks by creating and using a fake twitter account but has been traced and identified.

American farmers pwn their farming equipment.

No, pwn (pronounced 'pone') is not a typo. Well, it actually was originally one when some unknown hacker typed 'pwn' instead of 'own' when describing taking over someone's computer. This 'leetspeak' (language used by the 'elite', the hacking community) term is what American farmers are having to do to their Tractors, Combine Harvesters, and other computerised farming equipment, especially those made by John Deere. A fascinating article on Motherboard describes why and how they are doing this.

"What you've got is technicians running around here with cracked Ukrainian John Deere software that they bought off the black market"

Save the Salmon - with lasers

Sea Lice. Parasites that flourish in the nutrient rich environment of a densely packed fish farm. A real problem for fish farmers. Enter.... an underwater drone armed with lasers that shoots to kill! Check out the article on Digital Trends. Or just watch the video below.


Storage or Memory? Both!

The line between storage and memory is being blurred by a new Intel product - the Octane SSD. Ars Technica has a technical but interesting article that is worth a read, more for you to be informed so that you can say to your learners that maybe in the future Ram and Storage will be the same thing. Basically a normal SSD is 10 000 times slower to respond to a read or write request than RAM is. The new Octane SSD is only 10 times slower than RAM! This means that you can choose to use it either as RAM or storage, depending on the needs of the moment. NB: A very exciting and interesting technology that could have a huge impact on hardware of the future! Of course, like most new technology, it is insanely expensive now - expect to pay around R20 000 for less as 375 Gb unit.

The poisoned wine problem

Brian Brushwood presents this video (from his 'Scam School' Youtube Channel) which you can use to have some fun with your learners when doing binary numbers.


A battery that powers chips whilst cooling them

This is a loooooong way off, but holds some very exciting potential. I'm not going to repeat the article so just head over to Engadget and read it there.

Fido. The physical key to your digital security.

This one is also a long way off, but is a potential solution to the 'hackers keep stealing usernames and passwords' problem. Read it at My Broadband. In the meanwhile make sure your learners understand the need for (and use) two factor authentication on any of the sites and services they use that offer it.

Which is the Safest browser?

Google's Chrome remains uncracked at 2017 hacking contest.

PC Building Simulator Game

Your learners might have fun with this. And they can learn something without destroying expensive hardware. Download the software (still in beta) here and check out the video below.


Fake news corner:

  • Social media wrongly identifies the London attacker
  • The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) - the organisation that ranks countries student in academic ability (if you see headlines telling you that, for example, 'Singapore students best at math in the world' then the research and testing has been done by PISA) - currently tests and ranks students in maths, science and language. They are planning to add a test for students ability to identify fake news. Read about it from the BBC.

Other News for the week

That's it for this week. Hope you find it all as amazing, astonishing and interesting as I do. Happy teaching.

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