Hampshire ICT Conference 2015

Last week I made my first visit to the Hampshire ICT Conference, a regional event for education staff who are delivering the computing curriculum in the primary sector.

As usual, I am somewhat out of my comfort zone at this sort of event – whilst I have a good understanding of what happens in the classroom, I am not a teacher. I support the staff who deliver all subjects, including ICT. It’s my job to ensure that they are able to deliver the curriculum through a ‘path of least resistance’. By this, I mean that the infrastructure, tools and support for their planning and delivery should be aiding their progress and not hindering it. My interest in a conference of this sort is therefore perhaps slightly different from those in a teaching role.

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I want my Xibo slide timings for RSS to be perfect!

Xibo is a great open source digital signage system – getting your slide timings perfect makes a huge improvement to the impact of your messages.

The Xibo content editor allows you to specify content timings for each content area segment. In the context of RSS, your might want to pay careful attention to the values you enter and the resulting experience for the audience.

Xibo RSS Ticker Essentials

Lets just review the relevant variables available in the RSS ticker:

Scroll Speed

The scroll speed only affects a moving ticker – how fast the messages will move in a given direction (left, right, up or down). It doesn’t affect a single display. Single display works best in my opinion where content will be shown in a large content area.


Each region (areas of the layout) can contain multiple content timeline segments that will display sequentially one after the other. The duration is length of time a timeline segment will be displayed in the region.

Number of Items

The number of items is the total number of content items drawn from the RSS feed you have specified, usually from the start of the feed – i.e. the most recent items.

Update Interval

The update interval is the frequency (in minutes) with which the Xibo client will check for new RSS feed content.

Getting your Xibo slide timing right

By carefully calculating your timings, you can ensure that content is displayed for an equal period without any single RSS item being cut short by a transition, either to the start of the feed, or another timeline segment. To do this, edit your RSS Ticker timeline segment and make sure your timeline segment duration is an exact multiple of Number of Items.

Here’s an example. I would like to display each RSS item for 20 seconds before transitioning to the next. I have limited my RSS Ticker to display only the most recent 6 items. In order for my 6 items to be shown for 20 seconds each, I should multiply the desired item duration by the number of items. In this case, 6 multiplied by 20 results in 120. By entering a Duration of 120 seconds, my six RSS items will each display for 20 seconds, and at the end of the timeline segment, neatly transition to the start of the feed, or to the next timeline segment without cutting short any story.

What Education Technology Can Learn From Pixar’s Toy Story

This post is an excerpt from an article by William Jenkins (@tech_stories), fuelled by conversation we shared during a brief meeting last year, and subsequent shared interest and discussion about the place of technology in education:

In the early days of computer animation, some in the industry were focused more on exploring the art of what the technology was capable of than on the art of story telling.

When John Lasseter premiered The Brave Little Toaster at the 1987 International Animation Celebration, the audience was blown away as they had never seen anything like it before. This was because the film blended the very latest in computer animation technology with a great story, one which was full of character and captured the audience’s imagination.

In an interview, Lasseter highlighted that all good movies need to have a couple of key attributes; “You have to tell a compelling story that keeps people on the edge of their seat… [and to do that] you populate that story with really memorable and appealing characters.”.

There may be some lessons that we can learn from John Lasseter’s advice, and the experiences of the early computer animators, when looking at technology in education today.

Just like computer animation, education has changed a great deal over the years, it was not so long ago that technology was relatively uncommon in a lot of college departments but today every department relies on technological innovations to some extent.

Twenty-five years ago any talk of mobile access to library services involved a van driving round the area once a week. Today information is mobile in a different way as the entire contents of that old library van can now fit into your pocket.

The pace and extent of change can perhaps be best demonstrated by events like the BETT exhibition which, like Pixar, was in its infancy 25 years ago and has steadily grown each year. Today there are hundreds of technology companies exhibiting at the event. Some of these exhibitors might suggest that they can save the user a little time or solve a minor annoyance, others may be promising to be the next big thing in teaching and learning.

Whatever the claims the various suppliers make, there is certainly no shortage of technology companies queuing up to tell colleges how & why theirs is the latest “must have” tech toy.

In the full article, William takes an entertaining look at some of the personalities of the Toy Story characters, how they interact with the current toys in the playroom, and their very different reactions to the arrival of a new toy.

Want to read more? Go read the full article! Follow William on Twitter for more insightful content like this, and be sure to check out his recent report on Twitter use in FE.