Matthew O'Brien

Matthew O'Brien

I work as the Head of Strategic Planning at Brisbane Boys' College, a secondary school in Australia. I enjoy technology and the way we can leverage it as educators to do things better, more efficiently and more interestingly. I have a huge interest in educational interfaces, especially the stylus/touch/tablet, and video instruction. I am also one of the weird people that really love playing with data and getting into the hands of non data lovers so they can impact student learning better. As part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program I have been really inspired to better document my thoughts, ideas and experiments!

Visit my website
View all posts


Cloudy or clear skies – education must go on

Over the last twelve months I have seen a lot of effort by technology companies and a lot of reference by educators about the move to the “cloud” and “cloud computing” being a game changer for the education space.  I totally agree.

But.

Becoming totally reliant the “cloud” is a really bad thing.  It is important that the devices, apps and software all are able to work in their own right, whether connected or not.  Technology companies and education decision makers are forgetting that education MUST go on, regardless. … Visit the author's original post

Office Lens – a scanner and image corrector for your phone

I think I may have been living under rock, but last week at the E2 conference in Seattle I saw the Office Lens app demonstrated by one of the presenters. Simply, this is an app for iOS, Windows 8, or Android phones that turns your phone into a nifty document, screen and whiteboard scanner – with the smarts to both crop the extra “rubbish” out of the background, as well as correct the image for any angle the image is taken at, producing a rectangular, cropped image ready to insert into the document of your choice.… Visit the author's original post

Storing and making sense of grades – Excel to the rescue

In this article, I want to show a few tricks to help you with the storing and calculating of marks and grades. Then, I want to show you the exciting stuff – how with a few simple processes you can visualise the marks book in a way that helps you see meaning and an individual story for each and every student.

MarkbookGuttman As I write this we are starting term 2, having just finished the intense assessment period that schools seem to go through just before the start of any “holiday”.… Visit the author's original post

Microsoft Mix – hands on

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know I am a big fan of TechSmith Camtasia, and this is my normal go to when recording video content. However, I’m in the process of writing a training course for teachers on creating video content, and wanted an easier entry point. Enter Microsoft Mix.

mixMicrosoft mix is a free add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint, which works with 0365 and 2013 versions. You just need to go to the Microsoft mix website http://mix.office.com and download it.… Visit the author's original post

OneNote templates – technological teaching timesaver tools

templatesOver the last few weeks I have had numerous conversations with teachers wanting to save time and it is one of my beliefs that technology should assist with this time saving. At the same time as I have been having these conversations, I’ve also been teaching my classes. Last week I was teaching (or revising?) with my year 9’s on good graphing technique, starting with a hand drawn graph in OneNote. I found myself using the inbuilt grid line background in OneNote, counting the individual squares to make my scale – and without my glasses on this turned out to be very painful in front of the class.… Visit the author's original post

So you want to record some audio? Two missed tips!

Yesterday I wrote about starting to record audio for educational instruction, giving my ten top tips.  If you haven’t read that, you need to read it first before reading this!  Overnight, I have realised I missed two really important tips – so you get a bonus (albeit short) blog entry today.

TwoMore

Power it up!

Audio recording can take a lot of processing – so make sure you are running on mains power if possible – this ensures that your computer has the juice it needs.… Visit the author's original post

So you want to record some audio?

A friend of mine is at the start of her journey making recordings for educational instruction, and in conversations with her I realised that when we first start, there are a lot of questions we need answered. It can be quite daunting, yet like most things, once you start you only get better and better. So here are my ten quick tips for getting started, making it easy and trying to get the best possible outcome.

1. Practice

Before you even start recording play with your equipment.… Visit the author's original post

Send to OneNote – amazing, but could be better (OneNote enhancement request)

I love the “Send to OneNote” application that sits running in the taskbar once OneNote is opened.

  1. With a simple click of the icon (or by using the Windows & N shortcut) you can
  2. Start a screen clipping to capture any part of the screen
  3. Send a printout of the entire document in the current application (only works for Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Internet Explorer) to OneNote or
  4. Open a new “Quick note” – effectively a tiny square a paper that hovers over your current workspace and gets stored in your Quick Notes folder in OneNote

SendToOneNoteCurrent

Each of these are really useful, especially when using your Tablet PC without the keyboard attached.… Visit the author's original post

Office with a Stylus: The final words (Video and Sway!)

OfficeWithStylusTitleGraphic

When you have a Tablet PC such as the Surface Pro 3, it is really easy to get stuck using OneNote for everything. After all, the two are a perfect match. But – there are plenty of other applications out there that can very effectively leverage the stylus. In this four part series I’m going to look at Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, giving real life examples of how I have used the stylus in the software for my classes, and then a quick how to guide if you want to get out and give it a go.Visit the author's original post

Office with a Stylus: Part 4 – Outlook

When you have a Tablet PC such as the Surface Pro 3, it is really easy to get stuck using OneNote for everything. After all, the two are a perfect match. But – there are plenty of other applications out there that can very effectively leverage the stylus. In this four part series I’m going to look at Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, giving real life examples of how I have used the stylus in the software for my classes, and then a quick how to guide if you want to get out and give it a go.Visit the author's original post

Office with a Stylus: Part 3 – PowerPoint

When you have a Tablet PC such as the Surface Pro 3, it is really easy to get stuck using OneNote for everything. After all, the two are a perfect match. But – there are plenty of other applications out there that can very effectively leverage the stylus. In this four part series (yes, I’ve added another part in the planning!), I’m going to look at Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, giving real life examples of how I have used the stylus in the software for my classes, and then a quick how to guide if you want to get out and give it a go.Visit the author's original post

Office with a Stylus: Part 2 – Excel

When you have a Tablet PC such as the Surface Pro 3, it is really easy to get stuck using OneNote for everything. After all, the two are a perfect match. But – there are plenty of other applications out there that can very effectively leverage the stylus. In this three part series, I’m going to look at Word, PowerPoint and Excel, giving real life examples of how I have used the stylus in the software for my classes, and then a quick how to guide if you want to get out and give it a go.Visit the author's original post

Office with a Stylus: Part 1 – Word

When you have a Tablet PC such as the Surface Pro 3, it is really easy to stuck using OneNote for everything. After all, the two are a perfect match. But – there are plenty of other applications out there that can very effectively leverage the stylus. In this three part series, I’m going to look at Word, PowerPoint and Excel, giving real life examples of how I have used the stylus in the software for my classes, and then a quick how to guide if you want to get out and give it a go.… Visit the author's original post

Audio:Video sychronisation in Camtasia – the DIY clapper board with OneNote “add-in” in action

Yesterday I wrote about the making of my own DIY clapper board with OneNote “add-in”.  Today I want to show how it works.  There is really only one way to do this – and that’s with a video.

The neat thing with using my version of the clapper was setting it up as the plane to focus on, so even though I wasn’t in the shot, I could focus in the correct place.  It made the setup really easy for the shoot.… Visit the author's original post

DIY clapper board with OneNote “add-in”

The clapperboard is one of the icons of movie making – who hasn’t seen the stereotypical board clapped followed by the directors shout “action”?  The clapper was invented in Melbourne, Australia, by F.W. Thring, and was two sticks hinged together to make the “clap”.  Over time the design changed to incorporate firstly a chalkboard slate and more recently a digital slate.

thO9SDJ4SB

The purpose of the modern day clapper board is three fold.  Firstly, the “clap” gives a visual and audio signal so that the picture (film) and sound (audio) can be synchronised for playback. … Visit the author's original post

The organisational trinity – Outlook, OneNote and a Surface Pro 3.

There are a few of us already back at work following the Christmas/Summer break and I think most people’s first job for the new year is organising their yearly, monthly and daily calendar. Once upon a time, I had a big A4 “page to a day” diary, a couple of grid ruled “notebooks”, a teacher lesson planning diary and a wall planner. Now I only have Outlook, OneNote, and my trusty Surface Pro 3. In the tea room today, a colleague was complaining that it took so much work to turn emails into appointments in her diary and then she could never find her meeting notes anyway.… Visit the author's original post

The organisational trinity – Outlook, OneNote and a Surface Pro 3.

There are a few of us already back at work following the Christmas/Summer break and I think most people’s first job for the new year is organising their yearly, monthly and daily calendar. Once upon a time, I had a big A4 “page to a day” diary, a couple of grid ruled “notebooks”, a teacher lesson planning diary and a wall planner. Now I only have Outlook, OneNote, and my trusty Surface Pro 3. In the tea room today, a colleague was complaining that it took so much work to turn emails into appointments in her diary and then she could never find her meeting notes anyway.… Visit the author's original post

OneNote: 10 things I hate about you

There has been so much #OneNotelove in my social media feeds over the last week or so, that I thought someone had to bring some balance to the equation.  OneNote is good and all, but sometimes is just like a very needy girlfriend.  So with that in mind and inspired by the 90’s movie, I bring you a new Sway “OneNote: 10 Things I hate about you”.

https://sway.com/ZOZ2E_gVhk5zwF22

All written with my tongue firmly in my cheek!  You’ll actually, I hope, find 10 little tips, tricks and how to guides.… Visit the author's original post

OneNote: 10 things I hate about you

There has been so much #OneNotelove in my social media feeds over the last week or so, that I thought someone had to bring some balance to the equation.  OneNote is good and all, but sometimes is just like a very needy girlfriend.  So with that in mind and inspired by the 90’s movie, I bring you a new Sway “OneNote: 10 Things I hate about you”.

https://sway.com/ZOZ2E_gVhk5zwF22

All written with my tongue firmly in my cheek!  You’ll actually, I hope, find 10 little tips, tricks and how to guides.… Visit the author's original post

The making of the 12 Days of Christmas – or why OneNote is awesome for planning

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and he asked me where the idea for my 12 days of Christmas blog series came from and just how much planning went into it. After I told him, and showed him my OneNote planning page, he said that I should really share it. So here it is!

OneNotePlan

I like my gadgets, especially if I can use them for education, and I like to think that I’m good at narrowing down the options to the one or two that could be useful.… Visit the author's original post

The making of the 12 Days of Christmas – or why OneNote is awesome for planning

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and he asked me where the idea for my 12 days of Christmas blog series came from and just how much planning went into it. After I told him, and showed him my OneNote planning page, he said that I should really share it. So here it is!

OneNotePlan

I like my gadgets, especially if I can use them for education, and I like to think that I’m good at narrowing down the options to the one or two that could be useful.… Visit the author's original post

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Sway to make a summary

Sway is a brand new cloud based software from Microsoft.  In simple terms, its creates a single webpage utilising content from almost any online source – either your own cloud storage such as OneDrive, or using creative common content from Bing. It is designed as a presentation tool – think PowerPoint crossed with Presi.

sway2

The really interesting bit is how easy it is to compile and then reshape (in sway speak, remix) the content into a range of different and interesting looks, feels or navigation styles.… Visit the author's original post

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Sway to make a summary

Sway is a brand new cloud based software from Microsoft.  In simple terms, its creates a single webpage utilising content from almost any online source – either your own cloud storage such as OneDrive, or using creative common content from Bing. It is designed as a presentation tool – think PowerPoint crossed with Presi.

sway2

The really interesting bit is how easy it is to compile and then reshape (in sway speak, remix) the content into a range of different and interesting looks, feels or navigation styles.… Visit the author's original post

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a GoPro to film class widely.

I really believe in learning observations – both formal and informal; self-observation and peer-observation; in person and video. I think that all of these are important. But today I am going to focus on video observations of learning. I’m not going to cover coaching, mentoring, observation protocols, trust, feedback or conversations – and these are all a really important part of the process of learning observations and can’t be ignored, but in the interests of brevity I just won’t cover them in this article – I’ll save that for another article down the track.… Visit the author's original post

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a GoPro to film class widely.

I really believe in learning observations – both formal and informal; self-observation and peer-observation; in person and video. I think that all of these are important. But today I am going to focus on video observations of learning. I’m not going to cover coaching, mentoring, observation protocols, trust, feedback or conversations – and these are all a really important part of the process of learning observations and can’t be ignored, but in the interests of brevity I just won’t cover them in this article – I’ll save that for another article down the track.… Visit the author's original post

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me software to animate easily

A number of years ago, I started using a product called Sam animation, which was free software for educators for creating stop motion animation and time lapse video. The product has since changed its name to Hue Animation Studio, and costs a modest $20. I bought the new software today. And love it!

It is exciting because of how easy it is to use – my four year old helped take the photos (and built and directed the Claymation monster!) in the last scene of the video.… Visit the author's original post

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me software to animate easily

A number of years ago, I started using a product called Sam animation, which was free software for educators for creating stop motion animation and time lapse video. The product has since changed its name to Hue Animation Studio, and costs a modest $20. I bought the new software today. And love it!

It is exciting because of how easy it is to use – my four year old helped take the photos (and built and directed the Claymation monster!) in the last scene of the video.… Visit the author's original post

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Swivl robot that follows me.

A couple of years ago I had the marvellous opportunity to go to the ISTE conference in San Diego. I learned so much on the trip, and during one of the walks through the conference trade hall, came across Vladimir Tetelbaum demonstrating his robotic cameraman, the Swivl. The Swivl comprises a base to which you connect your IOS device or camera using an adapter, and a tracker that you wear around your neck or clip to your clothes. The base then rotates (or swivl’s!) to follow you wherever you go, with the audio from the mic on the tracker also being streamed back to the base (see note at the end of the article).… Visit the author's original post

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Screen Beam to project wirelessly.

Happy New Year!

Of the technological devices that I got in 2014, the two that changed my day to day classroom practice most were the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and the Actiontec Screen Beam. I’ve already spoken at length about the SP3, as it is the keystone to everything I do, so today is all about the Screen Beam.

ScreenBeam

The Actiontec Screen Beam is a wireless receiver (using both the Miracast and WiDi protocols) that connects to any HDMI video input (including sound!), or any display port or VGA with an appropriate adapter.… Visit the author's original post