What is YikYak?
YikYak is a geographically localised anonymous twitter-like app gaining popularity. It allows users to post, without identifying themselves, to up to 500 users in the local area. It is quite easy for offensive and abusive messages to reach users quickly. The messages can contain inflammatory or personal references which can be disruptive to a local community. This poses many potential issues for schools across the UK. Also, be aware of the Yak game. Users post messages and exchange their beloved banter of all sorts, never knowing if the message is legit or spoof, or who posted it. The appeal of YikYak is that it plays no part in your digital footprint; no care is required in what you post. The police, apparently, can identify who posted an update, should things escalate sufficiently to get them involved.
What can you do about it?
When we first applied for a geofence, via the YikYak site, it became apparent they are USA-based and the geofence service seemed to serve the other side of the Atlantic only. We heard nothing back from YikYak, but had not seen any usage in our area. Upon further investigation (using the app) in the new term, activity had began and some of it was particularly unpleasant and identifiable to our school. However, a geofence had been initiated, but it failed to cover all areas of our school. So, I have sent another request including grid references and postcodes of our most peripheral pupil occupied locations. Fingers crossed.
The geofence makes the app do this:
To do this for your school, enter the postcode for the building into Google maps, and the grid reference appears in the address bar, so you can copy and paste it. Below is an example for 10 Downing Street.
Using Google maps to locate a grid reference
GTA London October 27th & 28th 2014
I am really chuffed to become a Google Teacher Academy Mentor for GTA London (October) 2014. There is an excellent team of Mentors on board, whom I’m very much looking forward to working with over the next six months and beyond. This GTA, unlike the one I attended a few years ago, will be run by NoTosh under the direction of Ewan McIntosh, the founder of TeachMeets up in Scotland. An astute educationalist, Ewan, and his team, have redesigned the Google Teacher Academy to incorporate their extensive work in adopting design thinking into schools.
When I became a GCT, it was inspiring and exciting. I joined new communities of teachers from all over the world and learned a lot about making technology work in the classroom. After a while, I became a little jaded at my involvement with the GCT community. My school had other things to focus on and they pay my bills. Google Apps for Education, however, has remained at the forefront of my teaching toolkit. Google are good at making things work. Their core products are reliable and offer features that other web tools do not. At first approach, I was not sure whether or not to accept this invitation.
For me, there is an ethical dimension to being a cog in the wheel – however minor – of Google’s commercial drive that is changing what we understand as privacy and ultimately making a massive global corporation more… massive. So, I thought about it and landed here. Indeed, Google are a massive corporation that line already wealthy people’s pockets with more cash, but they are also slave to the marketplace. This forces them to provide excellent services that are fit for purpose. To schools, these services are free. There is a lot to consider and I am not sure whether or not the answers – the truth – will be attainable in this respect. I will investigate this further. For now, I have faith in the power of the web – you and me – to champion a cause and keep Google on the straight and narrow. Further to this, NoTosh have created Mentor roles to help graduating GCTs to make a difference in their schools by working in small teams of half-a-dozen to effect change within their primary communities. This latter point is why I am on board.
Would you like to apply? It will be fantastic! Here’s the application form. Deadline is soon: 22/09/14. What are you waiting for? If you’d like to discuss anything about it, get in touch right now.
I watched XMen Future (or whatever it’s called) in 3D last night. It’s only the second time I’ve watched a 3D movie – I don’t get out much – it was amazing. I have always pooh-poohed 3D. No more. Gone are the majority of gimmicks of things flying out the screen which tend to be annoying. However, for me, the sense of human movement on the screen was superb, sometimes even tender (Jeff at CNET disagrees with me, but what does he know?). There’s a bit where Wolverine hit someone with a frying pan that was a bit lame but mostly I was really impressed.
Anyway, that is not the point of the post. The film has a rubbish extra bit afterwards, so I watched the credits. I was struck by how many digital artists there are: dozens and then some more. So, I just looked it up on IMDB and there are more than 500 (I stopped counting when I got to 500) visual effects people credited. More than 500! Now, I am aware that visual effects and digital artists are not the same role, but still. So, if you’re faced with a student wondering what career to choose, or saying they want to create computer graphics for a living, encourage them. Every time. Tell them there is a future for them. Tell them it is in reach and worth pursuing.