Author Archives: Angelo Fernando

About Angelo Fernando

Author, business journalist, elementary school teacher, podcaster. I have been blogging since 2004, and a business and technology columnist for magazines, since 1994. Passionate about education, and media literacy.

Sri Lankan teaches GoPro to my class (Never mind the time the difference)

Nazly_profileThanks Nazly Ahmed, for taking the time to teach a 35 minute class to my 4th graders this morning. It was 8:45 am Arizona time, and 9:15 Pm in Colombo, Sri Lanka. But what’s a few time zones when it comes to learning from experts?

This technology class was a bit of a ‘planned surprise’ for them. Some have even seen a GoPro in action. I happen to have one in class, so before I introduce the hardware, I wanted to bring in a user to talk about it. There were three cameras in class – not counting the one on the PC for our Skype call. Nazly used screen-share from his end, to explain different camera perspectives. Forget drones with cameras. We watched the flight if an eagle mounted with a GoPro!

And students wanted to engage, so the class was (nicely) interrupted by many questions. One student volunteered to document the session on a regular camera. Everyone said they wanted to work with the GoPro, which will be in a forthcoming class.

Now if I could only find an eagle that’s willing to participate in an Ed-tech experiment :-) 

GoPro class


1 Comment

Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM


Tags: , , , ,

So many (scientific) ways to use a GoPro!

If you saw The Martian, you couldn’t miss the GoPro cameras strategically placed where Mark Watney (Matt Damon) hast to talk to other humans who were mostly absent.

It’s not exactly a webcam, but a powerful tool to ‘journal’ an activity a whether it is extreme sport, or something technical. I’ve started off using a GoPro in robotics, and it was quite revealing how the camera sees a manoeuvre.  I am now considering a class about the camera itself.

For this there will be two three cameras at work, in fact. The first, will be a webcam because of the expert I am going to bring in, via Skype. He will demo a GoPro and ‘teach’ us how to turn a GoPro into a scientific inquiry tool.WE will be using one in class as well.

The GoPro on Mars didn’t seem contrived – or a blatant product placement —  since some have actually been used in Space before. In real space, that is, and not on a movie set. And it has also gone to on some breathtaking missions — in a balloon, for instance.

Here’s one of my favorites. What a great way to demonstrate the surface tension of water, by making the camera a part of the experiment, while acting as a journaling device!



The GoPro is obviously switched on, and what’s really smart is how the editor of this video reverses the perspective. We finally see the scientists (the astronauts) through the scientific object (a submerged camera), and the water bubble acts as another distortion lens!

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 13, 2015 in Robotics, Social Media, STEM


Tags: , , , ,

Learning to avoid cameras – from TV reporters

I love cameras. I hate cameras. Are you like me?

I take a lot of pictures, and often avoid being in them (a photo-catcher’s prerogative!). But sometimes we can’t avoid being in them. (photo-radar, group shots…)

This week, I have to be part of a series of STEM videos that I am putting together. I was looking for ways to not be on camera 90 percent of the time. Ergo, the table-top presentation.

In the TV news business, it’s called Continuity and Cutaways.‘  A well-practiced art we are oblivious to. It works like this:

  1. Anchor introduces story, and station ‘cuts away’ to reporter.
  2. Reporter on camera takes over for a few seconds.
  3. Video cuts away to scene of story – the so-called B-roll footage. The reporters voice (arguably on ‘A-roll’) runs over the video and maintains continuity
  4. Studio cuts back to reporter, who wraps up story in a few seconds.

In total the reporter is on camera for a fraction of the time. Our brains fill in the gaps, and make us believe we were being addressed face-to-face. I hope to really shrink that fraction. Let’s see.

Note: For a good understanding of the cutaway and B-roll, read Steve Johnson’s explanation here.


Tags: , , ,

NASA ‘flowing’ water on Mars newsflash, messes the plot

I’m sure many wanna-be Martians (and there is a training program for this) are breathing a sigh of relief to know that one does not have to go the Matt Damon route to stay alive on Mars.

Today NASA announced that H2O from hydration salts means that it is flowing –as evidenced by image analysis from the Reconnaissance Orbiter. It also thickens the plot for may *young* scientists to whom we put this question: What would you take on a long trip to the Red Planet.

Mars Day is around the corner at my school. This will certainly be a topic that comes up. Maybe we ought to contact MarsOne. Bas Lansdorp, if you get a chance to see this, I’d love to chat with you about speaking to my students.


1 Comment

Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Education, STEM


Tags: , , ,

Photography (and Ed-Tech) lessons from the Blood Moon


Sometimes the cheapest camera does the trick.

This evening’s Blood Moon, and the lunar eclipse, was a spectacular show in our southern skies.

Not as stunning as these, however, but it could be a great lesson in photography, about how to frame a slow-moving event, and compensate for lighting. The camera was a Nikon Coolpix, which was less expensive than the lens of an older SLR. (It’s become my ‘better’ camera, especially on my recent trip to Sri Lanka, where I shot close-ups of rural life, and in the wilds. Easier to pack to the beach and on mountains hikes.)

Which brings me to the point about technology. How often does the technology get in the way of what you are experiencing or working on in the moment? Just as how we often get trapped in the software just to make a great presentation, a microphone or camera can become a distraction.

In Ed-Tech, which is what I teach, I like the focus to be more on the ‘Ed’ and less on the ‘Tech.’


Leave a comment

Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Ed-Tech, Education, Sri Lanka, Technology


Tags: , ,

When Distance Learning was a mule-drawn wagon!

I have always been interested in Distance Learning, but as I like to tell young people many of our modern business and education models existed before the Internet.

For instance, about 50 years before eBooks made it possible to have the library accessible from home, we had the ‘mobile’ bicycle-drawn lending library.

But this ‘school on wheels’ known as the Jesup Wagon beats that! It was developed by George Washington Carver, a former slave.

A scientist, better known for the innovation we call ‘crop rotation’ and also peanuts, he loaded a wagon with seeds in this His ‘horse-drawn classroom’ and laboratory. His students were former slaves who had become sharecroppers.

The Movable Classroom program began in 1906. The wagon cost $674.

We could all use this to get some perspective, especially when we think we need fancy technology to connect knowledge with students.


Tags: , , ,

Selfies, a gift for lazy journalism

Oh please, stop it will you! Newspapers and magazines appear to trot out the staple photograph, the selfie, whenever someone important is being covered.

It’s become old. Self promotion at its worst. Lazy photo-op at best.

What’s the real story of photographing a child running up to someone and taking a selfie? That he/she was brave enough to approach the subject with a phone? Of is it that we are so infatuated with children wielding phones, that it just looks cute – so ‘story’ ain’t important.

I’m all about taking human interest photos, but there’s more to humanizing the photo than a glob of a nose (in the photo itself) or two people staring at a piece of glass.

And it’s not just teenage territory. Grown-ups do it all the time.


It’s become a rite of passage that getting close to a pope or politician is really to grab a selfie, not to have a real conversation. And it’s getting seriously, seriously, boring to hear a story begin on TV or in print that “…It was a selfie seen around the world!” or “Today a selfie taken by (insert subject here) went viral!”

WHILE WE ARE AT IT: could we outlaw the term “went viral” once and for all, now that it’s in the same cliché bucket as “Information superhighway” and “World Wide Web”?

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Journalism, Media, Social Media


Tags: , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,710 other followers