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Johannes Ahrenfelt http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com Technology, Social Media & Education Fri, 24 Jun 2016 20:43:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Got our country back, though. http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/2016/06/got-our-country-back-though/ Fri, 24 Jun 2016 20:43:32 +0000 http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/?p=1473 My wife received this post on Facebook via a friend. The article was by a ‘Dan Thompson’. Apologies Dan, I don’t use FB and I’m not quite sure how to add you as a source, but here’s what you said:

So. To summarise:
  • The pound hits a 31 year low
  • £180bn has been wiped off the FTSE.
  • The two together mean we are no longer the world’s 5th largest economy. We just fell behind France.
  • Housebuilding firms lost 40% of their value this morning. Homes will lose £20,000 of their value by the end of the year.
  • Bank shares are down 30%. We still own chunks of them. Morgan Stanley are preparing to move 2000 jobs out of the city.
  • The cap on energy company prices has been cancelled. We import electricity through undersea cables from France and the Netherlands and gas from Norway. Prices are rising.
  • Small businesses are getting notices from overseas suppliers, cancelling quotes and putting trade on hold.
  • Posts from various friends around the UK say projects are being cancelled, and EU funding pulled.
  • Cornwall – which voted to leave – is demanding that the UK match the £60m a year the EU used to give them.
  • Standard & Poor are reviewing our country’s AAA credit rating as they think we’re going back into recession.
  • Gibraltar voted Remain. Spain wants joint control.
  • Scotland is moving towards a second referendum and independence. Northern Ireland is moving towards unification. London is talking about city state status. The United Kingdom is almost certainly breaking up.
  • Cameron has quit. He hasn’t invoked Article 50. Johnson is saying he can’t see any reason to invoke it. The other EU countries are saying we can’t delay that move.
  • The Leave campaign have backtracked on their ‘more money for the NHS’ promise and on capping immigration.
Got our country back, though.
5 Essential Apps for Online Distance Learning http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/2013/09/5-essential-apps-for-online-distance-learning/ Tue, 24 Sep 2013 17:21:31 +0000 http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/?p=1422 Distance education programs serve as affordable career stepping stones that help professionals advance to the next level. Higher education can even improve job prospects, Peter DeWitt notes in Education Week. For example, PennFoster.edu opens doors “for anyone looking to build a better future with affordable, quality, debt-free education.” Maximize an online education experience with academic mobile apps that help a student manage family life, school and work. Apps can help you stay organized with assignments and stay connected with classmates and professors.

Time Management

If poor time management interferes with your studies and prevents you from accomplishing anything, the iPhone/iPad app iStudiezPro can keep you on track. Schedule daily appointments and receive reminders directly on your device. iStudiezPro syncs across your Apple devices and integrates with iCal, the calendaring tool. As winner of the 2011 Best College Student App, iStudiezPro will turn you into a time-management pro.

Work & Life Balance

Use a time tracker like Harvest to track and manage time spent working on assignments in an effort to achieve balance between school and your personal life. Solo plans cost $12 a month and integrate across Mac and PC devices, so you can track time on your smartphone and laptop. Harvest is easy to set up and comes with a free 30-day trial. Why not test its usefulness?


Complete work on-the-go with the e-reader app GoodReader which supports PDF and TXT files. Your smartphone or tablet may already have an e-reader, but GoodReader features advanced annotating capabilities for easier reading and adequate preparation for papers and presentations. Create sticky notes and highlights. Draw and search text with this $4.99 app for iOS devices.


Group projects are part of the learning curriculum with online institutions, and a file-sharing utility like Dropbox is essential for collaborating with others. Sign up for a free Dropbox account, and then download the app to access shared files anywhere, anytime. If you need a larger account, Dropbox offers paid versions, but the free, basic version does offer enough space for you to get started.


The free inClass app offers note taking, audio and video lecture recording, file sharing, and alarms to help you ace your classes. Record distance learning video presentations, discuss group projects with the StudyRoom feature, share notes with classmates, and remind yourself of appointments as the alarm feature alerts you.

The freedom to set your own schedule is a perk for online distance learning. Freedom equally presents time management, productivity and collaboration challenges. Manage your school work, work life and personal life with a collection of productivity and educational apps that you can resort to when studying gets tough.


Top 5 Energy Saving Apps http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/2013/04/top-5-energy-saving-apps/ Thu, 25 Apr 2013 10:35:53 +0000 http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/?p=1391

If you are looking for a way to save energy, there’s an app for that! Actually there are dozens, if not hundreds, of green apps on the market that promise to help you slash your energy bill. But they are not all created equal. Check out these five top-rated apps that will help you cut back on energy consumption and save money.

1. Green Outlet

Ever wondered how much energy your appliances actually use? With Green Outlet you can select the type of appliances you have and enter how many hours a day they are used. The app will then calculate how much it costs to run each appliance, and estimate the total monthly costs on your energy bill. This information can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your energy use. Green Outlet also calculates your carbon footprint and alerts you when you have surpassed the U.S. government guidelines.

The app even links to a site that sells carbon offsets, so you can eliminate your household’s carbon footprint. An alternative to offsetting carbon emissions is to purchase renewable energy from suppliers at www.energyproviderstexas.com.


2. Kill-Ur-Watts

It’s no secret the amount of energy you use is directly tied to the amount of money you have to pay for your energy bill each month. As summer is approaching, it’s a great time to look for ways to cut down on energy consumption. Kill-Ur-Watts can help. This free app was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Apps for Energy Challenge in 2012. It can help you track your energy use, create customizable graphs, view your carbon footprint and develop strategies to reduce energy use.

3. GasBuddy

Over the past decade, fuel costs have risen dramatically, making gassing up your car expensive. Even a gasoline price that’s just a penny lower could save you a substantial amount at the pump. While the best way to cut back on your vehicle’s energy use and expense is to give up the car, for some that’s not an option. If you can’t go without your car, there’s an app to help you save on fuel costs. GasBuddy tracks the cheapest gas prices in your area to help you save money at the pump. When you find a cheap fuel price, report it to the app to earn points and help others save too. GasBuddy even offers the chance to win $250 each week!


4. GreenMeter

Finding cheaper gas is just the first part of saving money on fuel costs. In addition, you need to discover how to use your gasoline efficiently to make it last longer. In turn, fuel efficiency converts to cost savings and a lower carbon footprint. GreenMeter evaluates your driving and gives instant feedback on your efficiency. It provides information on how to reduce fuel consumption and limit your environmental impact based on the real time data collected as you drive.

5. CodeGreen Energy

If you’re on the market for a new home, apartment or office building, CodeGreen Energy might be the perfect tool to add to the search. CodeGreen Energy allows you to view the ENERGY STAR score of thousands of buildings. The energy efficiency of a building is directly tied to the amount it will cost each month in energy bills, so finding a location that’s highly efficient could result in lower bills! With this app, you can easily search and compare buildings across the United States to find the perfect place for you and your budget.


Choosing Your Students http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/2012/09/choosing-your-students/ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 14:32:35 +0000 http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/?p=1147

Each year a full-time teacher receives in the region of 250-300 students who they will deliver quality learning and teaching. As teaching professionals we don’t get to choose our students, of course not, our middle leaders and the Assistant Head in charge of time-tabling will organise what classes we teach. But, can we in fact have a say in what sort of students we eventually get to mould into independent thinkers?

I came across a brief post by Seth Godin who exclaimed that businesses and companies choose their customers:

Yes, you get to choose them, not the other way around. You choose them with your pricing, your content, your promotion, your outreach and your product line…

In many respects Seth Godin’s quote echoes many truths about education and how teachers must think carefully about what students they would like in their classrooms. If we breakdown Godin’s quote and rewrite it to fit schools it could sound something like this:

Choosing your students:

Yes, you get to choose them, not the other way around. You choose them with your lesson planning, your creative skills to engage, your offer of challenge and progress, your subject and professional expertise and your respect for them…

Let’s look at each element briefly.

1. Planning:

Purposeful planning and careful lesson design will help making students want to learn and see that skills progression matters both to life as a student but also beyond the classroom. Planning takes time, particularly if you’re recently new to teaching, but this time is worth every minute. Good planning leads to good learning but this is not to say it is easy to achieve as structuring an outstanding lesson is difficult. I have written extensively about lesson planning and design in my books and in recent posts which are also worth taking a look at: Planning GCSE with a Smile, Creativity in Teaching: start designing lessons and Educational Mashups part three: creative ideas from the ‘Industry’.

2. Creativity and Engagement

Thinking carefully about the outcome(s) of the lesson is crucial so that students learn and their skills develop. Creative and engaging lesson activities will help you and them to meet those outcomes. For example, how can you make a difficult concept easier to understand or in what ways can you help them find a topic more enjoyable? As teachers we know very well that if we plan good lessons with engaging and creative ideas students are more likely to enjoy it which means they stand a greater chance of learning and not behaving in such a way that would be detrimental to their and others’ learning. I have devoted a lot of time to developing creative and engaging lesson activities which will help you to plan effective lessons that are packed with learning, take a look at these posts: Educational Mashups Part four: creativity boosts from the wiseSimplicity at its best and Handheld Learning beyond the Classroom.

3. Challenge and Progress

I once heard a student talk about their options and they were to select them depending on how ‘easy’ they were. I later taught this student and in one conversation she explained that the easy subjects had become boring and that those that made her think were more enjoyable. Even if a student asks to watch a film it is unlikely they will enjoy that as much as having to work hard at solving a problem, collaborating on a project or receiving positive feedback on a piece of writing. This is why it is important to produce activities that not only challenge them to think but also moves their thinking forward. Purposeful feedback will help here. Take a look at these posts for further ideas about challenging students and motivating them through good feedback: Shred Their Work: or Reflections on Student Motivation and Using ‘The Ten Faces of Innovation ‘ in the classroom.

4. Subject and Professional Expertise

Terry Haydn, Senior Reader at the University of East Anglia and my old mentor (well, he’s not really old just very experienced!), always said that sound subject knowledge contributes to sound lesson content and that the power of good exposition should not be forgotten. Indeed, good story telling can enliven topics and give structure and a road-map to the ‘bigger picture’ that the class to follow. I also strongly believe that a broad understanding of our profession is key to becoming an excellent teacher and that this should never end. However, I urge you to read books that may not directly link with our profession, so not books about teaching but to cross-pollinate ideas from other fields like marketing, design, music, art and business. In return for reading, listening, watching and discussing with people from other industries other than education you will be rewarded with a myriad of stimulating and creative ideas. I have written a series of posts on cross-pollination called Educational Mashups which could be used as a starting point: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 .

5. Respect

When I used to work as county Advisor I used to get the opportunity to receive training on lesson observations. One thing that always cropped up both during lesson debriefs and in whole school feedback was the relationships between students and their teachers. Those teachers that have strong relations with their classes rarely have many behavioural problems compared to those who do not. However, this type of relationship does not happen quickly and involves more than jokes and understanding students backgrounds. Strong relationships between the teacher and their class happen when there is a clear and continued dialogue as well as exchange of thoughts. This is where good feedback, Assessment for Learning, Student Voice and just plain politeness are needed in order for this dialogue and exchange to occur. This post deals with how relationships can be solidified via purposeful feedback and enhanced student involvement:  Shred Their Work: or Reflections on Student Motivation.

The correct ingredients in making the perfect class is of course variable and the list provided above is by no means exhaustive, but will hopefully give some insight into what we as teachers try to do. In this respect, perhaps Seth Godin’s advice works in education as in business – we do get a say in choosing what sort of customers/students we get to work with or teach…eventually?

Increase Social Media Engagement with QR Codes http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/2012/05/increase-social-media-engagement-with-qr-codes/ Wed, 23 May 2012 10:20:44 +0000 http://www.johannesahrenfelt.com/?p=1125 Social media has become an important presence in today’s society and it is one of the most powerful communication tools available out there. Staying connected, exchanging data, and receiving real-time information are all important aspects inof our lives.

The purpose of social media is to facilitate this constant exchange of information and to help people stay in touch with each other. Since most tech-oriented users currently own a smartphones (see these smartphone statistics) and the majority of these phones have NFC chips built-in or can access QR Code software, all that is needed for these marketing tools to really take off is a well-thought social media campaign since the necessary communication channels are already there.


The need for companies to come up with mobile-oriented campaigns couldn’t be more evident. But the good news is that QR codes and NFC tags are fairly easy to use concepts – the pedagogy behind these technologies are not difficult. However, these tools can be even more efficient when they are used in association with other social media tools. For example, using QR codes to link to popular social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, will greatly increase the appeal of any marketing campaign. Why – because QR Codes acts as a direct channel to its audience and can therefore provide targeted information. However, for a campaign to be successful, it has to bring clear value and purpose to its target audience.

The major benefits of social media are that the information provided is easy to update at any moment, and from virtually anywhere, it is a cost-effective strategy, and last but not least, it manages to attract a large number of people.


Although both QR codes and NFC have been around for quite a while, these social media tools certainly have a lot more potential left in them. With more and more people owning smartphones, the future for social media and QR Codes looks brighter than ever. Using QR codes or NFC to help people stay connected with brands is a simple way to increase your social media engagement.