Arloesol | Innovative

[cy]Mi ddaru fi darganfod neithiwr bod ‘na meddalwedd newydd wedi cael ei ryddhau gan gwmni o Sir Fôn o’r enw ‘Dysgu Gyda Sam‘. Cyfres meddalwedd sydd wedi cael ei adeiladu i helpu plant 3-6 oed dysgu Cymraeg. Sa’ chi’n dychmygu fy mod i o blaid y syniad, ac mi ydw i. Y broblem yw’r ffordd mae’r syniad wedi ei weithredu.

Yn anffodus, nid app, neu gwefan yw ‘Dysgu Gyda Sam’, ond CD-ROM ‘aml-gyfrwng’.

Ie, CD-ROM…

Mae’r ffaith yna yn ben ei hun yn ddigon drwg, ond mae’r cwmni yn datgelu ei bod wedi derbyn arian a chefnogaeth trwy raglen ‘BauhausMenter Môn (sy’n cael ei chefnogi gan y Cynulliad), sydd yn fod i ‘Tanio Arloesedd’.

Ie, gwnâi adael i chi feddwl am hwnnw am foment bach…

O ddifri ‘rŵan… beth yfech?

Sut mae cwmni yn cael cymorth cyhoeddus (a grant o bosib) i ddatblygu cynnyrch ar CD-ROM trwy brosiect sy’n fod i helpu datblygu rhywbeth arloesol? Pwy yfech sydd dal yn coelio bod CD-ROMs yn arloesol? Mae’r cymeriad yn edrych yn dda, a dwi’n hoffi’r syniad, ond mae’r dewis i gloi’r peth mewn tri bocs CD-ROM am £35 fesul bocs yn mynd i ladd y peth a’r cymeriad. Mi o’n i yn rhan o’r genhedlaeth gyntaf i ddefnyddio CD-ROMs, ac o’n i yn meddwl bod nhw’n beth fwyaf dibwynt erioed. Tamaid bach o blastig oedd yn rhy haws i’w golli, a llawer mwy hawdd i’w dorri (ac ar y pryd yn ddrud iawn i’w ail-brynu).

Fel y mae o, fysa CD-ROM wedi bod yn arloesol 15 blynedd yn ôl, ond nawr ein bod ni yn yr oes ‘post PC’, gwe 2.0, appstoraidd ‘ma, di CD-ROMs yn dda i dawl o ddim. Beth sy’n synnu fi fwy yw, ar ôl edrych ar y specs, bod y peth yn rhedeg mwy neu lai trwy’r porwr we (mae’r gofynion yn dweud bod angen prosesydd 450mhz neu fwy – go ddifrif, gafodd hwn i’w greu yn y 90au?) ac yn angen oeliaf Safari 3.0 (o 2007) ac Internet Explorer 6.0 (o 2001) – a ddim sôn am Google Chrome.

Dwi’n meddwl nawr bod hi’n syniad da i mi ddweud bod Dysgu Sam ydi’r bobl anffodus sy’n derbyn fy sylw ar y pwnc ‘ma, a dwi’n ymddiheuro ymlaen llaw iddyn nhw os bod nhw’n teimlo fy mod i’n cyfeirio’r holl beth tuag atyn nhw. Dwi’n hollol sicr ei bod nhw’n bobl neis dros ben, ond maen nhw wedi cael ei gadael lawr. Maen nhw’n amlwg wedi mynd at Fenter Môn gyda syniad bach gwych, a doedd neb wedi gofyn iddyn nhw “fysa App ddim yn well?”. Mae Dysgu Gyda Sam wedi datgelu trwy ei thudalen Twitter i fy nghyfaill (a’n cyd-gyflwynydd ar y Haclediad) Sioned (@llef) bod nhw yn edrych mewn i greu app. Fy mhoen i yw ei bod nhw wedi methu allan ar greu rhywbeth sy’n wir arloesol trwy gloi ei hunain mewn i fformat sydd ddim hefo fawr o fywyd. Mae ‘na sibrydion trwy’r amser bod Apple ar fin cael gwared â gyriant CD o’i chyfrifiaduron, a fysa gweddill y diwydiant yn sicr i’w dilyn.

Y ffordd orau i wneud y peth yma fysa i lansio app ar gyfer iOS/Android, gyda gwefan HTML5. Mae’r cymeriad newydd yn un da, a fysa plant wrth ei bod yn syth. Mae natur dyfais gyda sgrin ail-gyffwrdd yn meddwl bysa plant wedi gallu dechrau chwarae yn syth, yn hytrach na disgwyl i Fam neu Dad rhoi’r peth yn y cyfrifiadur, disgwyl iddo lwytho a gwylio nhw tra bod nhw’n eistedd o flaen y cyfrifiadur gyda’r llygoden (dwi’n wastad yn clywed storiâu gan rieni am sut mae ei phlant 3 oed yn gallu gweithio ei iPhones a iPads yn well na nhw).

Mae Menter Môn wir angen ail-ystyried beth maen nhw’n meddwl gyda ‘arloesol’. Tydi CD-ROMs heb fod yn arloesol ers dros 15 blynedd nawr, ac mae’r person ddaru un ai cynnig bod Dysgu Sam yn datblygu CD-ROM, neu ddim yn cwestiynu ei dewis nhw o’r fath technoleg angen ateb cwestiynau pwysig dros ben. Mae hwn unwaith eto yn cysylltu lan gyda’n hoff bwnc llosg am sut bod y Llywodraeth a sefydliadau yng Nghymru ddim yn deall technoleg, ac yn cael ei thywys o gwmpas gan rhyw foi mewn siwt grand. Storiâu fel sut oedd y Cynulliad dal yn defnyddio NT 4 am flynyddoedd (oherwydd cytundebau), methiant llwyr S4C i gadw lan gyda darlledu ar y we a’r we gymdeithasol, a thrafferthion y Lolfa i gael e-llyfrau Cymraeg ar y Kindle.

Mae Cymru mewn peryg o ddisgyn yn ôl ar y fath datblygiadau, ac yn disgyn yn bellach yn ôl ar ddatblygiadau yn y Gymraeg. Yn fy meddwl i, mae bodolaeth ac iechyd yr iaith yn dibynnu ar ein gallu ni i greu cynnwys newydd mewn ffordd sy’n gweithio gyda’r dechnoleg dda ni’n defnyddio nawr. Y gwir yw, os bod pobl yn parhau i ddatblygu technoleg ar blatfform hen fel CD-ROMs, mae angen iddynt roi terfyn arno nawr. Mae Google, Apple a chewri’r byd Technoleg yn mynd a ni lawr y llwybr tuag at y Cwmwl. Os bod rhaglenni fel Menter Môn ddim yn helpu gyda’r newid ‘na, maen nhw’n gwneud cam ar y bobl maen nhw’n ceisio cynorthwyo, ac yn fwy difrifol, yn gwneud cam ar ddyfodol Cymru.

Dwi’n mynd i orwedd lawr nawr.

B

Hefyd – os bod Dysgu Sam neu Fenter Môn eisiau ymateb i beth dwi di ddweud, dwi’n hapus i ddiweddaru’r erthygl (gwnâi ddangos unrhyw ymateb ar y gwefan ‘ma, ac os dwi’n anghywir, gwnâi cyfaddef ac ymddiheuro yn gyhoeddus). Y rheswm dwi mor flin am y peth yw fy mod i’n cymryd technoleg o ddifrif, a dwi’n teimlo’n sâl yn gweld syniadau da del Dysgu Sam yn cael ei gadael lawr gyda dewisiadau technoleg sâl. Os bod chi eisiau siarad gyda fi, dwi ar gael trwy’r ffurflen sylwadau, trwy e-bost neu trwy twitter (@bryns).[/cy]

[en]So, I found out last night about the launch of a new educational product by an Anglesey based company called ‘Dysgu Gyda Sam‘ (Learning with Sam). This is a series of educational programs devised to help 3-6 years old learn Welsh (before we go on, let’s just set aside whether or not you think teaching Welsh to kids is a good idea – I happen to think it is). So, you might think I’d like this idea, and in principle I do. The problem has to do with the implementation.

Y’see, they’ve not launched an app, or a website… they’ve done it on CD-ROM.

Yeah, you heard me… a CD-ROM.

This in itself is bad enough, but the company proudly states on their website that they got help and support by the Welsh Assembly Government backed ‘Menter Môn’ (an Anglesey Business Development Quango) to make this. What’s more, the support came as a result of Menter’s ”Bauhaus Project” (which aims to foster innovation and new products from companies on the Island).

I’ll also pause so you can enjoy that little irony.

Seriously… what the hell? (I did have something stronger there, but it wouldn’t translate well)

How does a company get publicly funded help (and possibly grants) develop a CD-ROM product under a project aimed to foster innovation? Who the hell still considers CD-ROMs to be innovative? The character they’ve developed seems to be quite good, but their decision to lock all this up in a 3 part series of CD-ROMs (with the associated books) for £35 each will (in my view) kill the product and the character. I was part of the first generation to be exposed to ‘educational’ CD-ROMs, and I can tell you that they were utterly useless. They were shiny bits of plastic that were all too easy to lose or damage (and at that point quite expensive to replace).

In its current incarnation, the product would have been innovative 10 or 15 years ago, but in this grand and shiny post-PC, web 2.0, Appstore future we now live in, CD-ROMs just simply don’t cut it. What’s even more startling to me is that the whole system (based on what I can deduce from the tech specs on the site) works through the browser (the minimum system specs calls for a 450mhz processor as a minimum – seriously, was this developed in the 90s?), and requires Safari 3.0 (released in 2007) or Internet Explorer 6 (released in 2001) as a minimum – with no mention of Google Chrome.

I should probably add at this point that Dysgu Sam are the unfortunate victims of my simmering rage at this issue, and I appologise to them in advance if they feel that this is a direct attack against them. I’m sure they’re really lovely people, but they’ve been seriously let down. They’ve clearly gone to Menter Môn with a sound concept, but have been let down by people at multiple stages who should have asked “is a CD-ROM really the best way to go?”. To their credit, Dysgu Gyda Sam did respond via their Twitter page (@dysgusam) to one of my Haclediad co-presents Sioned (@llef) that developing a mobile app is one of the ideas they’re investigating. I fear though that they’ve missed out on an opportunity to develop something truly innovative by locking themselves into a format that has no future. Rumours continue to abound that Apple plans to drop optical drives from their range, which the rest of the industry is sure to follow if it turns out to be true.

The ideal way to launch this kind of a product would have been as an iOS/Android app, with a tie-in website. The character they’ve created would have been instantly engaging, and the kinaesthetic nature of touch-screen devices would have meant that kids would be able to interact with it all by themselves, rather than having parents supervise a 3yo trying to use a mouse (I’ve spoken to many tech-savvy parents who are still amazed by how easily their very young children are able to pick up and use touch-based devices unaided).

Menter Môn needs to seriously re-consider their definition of the term ‘innovative’. CD-ROMs have not been an innovative technology for well over 15 years now, and the person who either guided Dygsu Gyda Sam down the CD-ROM avenue, or didn’t question their use of an outmoded technology has serious questions to answer. To my mind is further evidence for my pet rant on how Governments and Institutions in Wales haven’t a clue when it comes to technology, and seemingly get led down the garden path by sharp suited sales guys. We’ve seen that WAG was using Windows NT for years (as a result it seems of a support contract stipulation), S4C’s complete inability to get going on streaming/web based TV and social media (something they’re only just starting to rectify), and Y Lolfa’s troubles in getting Amazon to release their books on the Kindle store.

Wales is falling badly behind on this type of innovation, and falling further behind on such innovations in Welsh. To my mind, the future health and the existence of the language depends on our ability to produce modern and relevant content in a way that fits with new consumption models. Anyone still developing CD-ROMs or such anachronistic media should pack it in. Google, Apple and the tech giants are leading us merrily towards the cloud, and if innovation programs like the Menter Môn’s Bauhaus project isn’t fostering *that* kind of development, then it’s failing the people of they’re trying to help, and more importantly, the future of Wales.

I’m going to lie down in a dark room now.

B

P.S.
In the event that Dysgu Sam or Menter Môn want to come back to me with a response, I’d be happy to update this article (I’ll give your responses a full airing, even if I’m completely wrong and have to retract the article — infact, I sincerely hope I’m wrong). The reason for my ire is simply that I take technology seriously, and I’m deeply frustrated when I see nice ideas like Dysgu Sam’s being let down by poor technology choices. You can reach me in the comments field, by email (see the ‘About’ page, or through my twitter page @bryns)[/en]

About bryns

Gîc Cymraeg Defnyddiwr Mac Podledwr a ffotograffydd Welsh geek, Mac user, Podcaster and Photographer
This entry was posted in comment, haciaith, observations, rant, tech, Twitter, web and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Arloesol | Innovative

  1. Aled Wyn says:

    I must agree with you all the way here Bryn. However this does not surprise me. As a person who worked in the area of local language promotion for a while, I am sad to say that i am not surprised! Language planners (on the whole) are not techies.

    I remember presenting my thoughts to the Chief Executive of the Welsh Language Board on how technology must play a part in language promotion among young people just before i left there. I often wonder how much was taken on board (they do have a twitter account by now).

    Although the Welsh Language Board do lead in many areas of language planning, questions should be asked why money was granted to Menter Môn when plans for this project were presented?

    Menter Môn will have to evaluate such a thing, and I hope that similar views which are raised on this blog reach the final report/assessment of the project.

  2. Nic says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said. One of the advantages of websites/apps is being able to publish updates. I hope it all works out. It does sound like a good product🙂

  3. Scatman Dan says:

    You can reach me in the comments field, by email (see the ‘About’ page, or through my twitter page @bryns)

    I’m not sure that the mid-90s brains that came up with this project would cope with the concept of Twitter.

  4. Bryn_S says:

    Diolch Aled! I hope if people keep making noise about it, someone will start paying attention.

    Nic – yeah, it looks really quite cool, such a shame.

    Dan – Haha. Yes, good point🙂

  5. Rheinallt says:

    I agree with what you’re saying here, however one of the challenges facing educational resource development in Wales (& probably the rest of the UK as well) is that many ‘cloud’ resources are not accessible via school IT systems i.e You Tube and social networking sites are ‘blocked’.

    As far as touch based devices and other ‘new’ technologies are concerned, I’m sure educators would welcome the opportunity to utilise these in classrooms and learning environments – unfortunately many of our schools have outdated systems and a severe lack of funds to invest in ‘newer’ systems.

    I was at a meeting recently with colleagues from the RoI, Scotland, England and NI where we were discussing a collaborative project to develop short, easily produced and affordable video resources for schools. The challenge? Finding a hosting solution that was generally accessible to schools.

    The availability of fast, reliable broadband connections across Wales is yet another issue.

  6. David says:

    Does gen i dim problem hefo Flash, ond mae’r rhan fwyaf o Flash ar y wefan hon yn hollol di-angen (e.e. fel y baner ar y dudalen ‘Cynnyrch’). Mae’n edrych fel mae nhw wedi defnyddio meddalwedd WYSIWYG rhad i creu’r wefan ‘ma, ond does dim esgus am bethau fel y bloc ‘Ar gyfer rhieni’ ar y dudalen flaen, ble does digon o le ar gyfer y destun (yn Gymraeg neu Saesneg).

    I mi, mae’n siomedig, oherwydd mae ganddyn nhw syniad da, ond mae rhaid sylweddoli mae’u gwefan yn rhan pwysig o’u cynnyrch, ac ar y foment mae’n edrych braidd yn amhroffesiynol.

  7. insideWG says:

    Surely the idea should be to develop content with a bit of platform neutral thinking , so that it can go onto websites, in apps, be printed out if needs be, made available in cloud services, and the like .. and even put onto a cd-rom if somebody actually requires it?

    And yes, it would be nice if the people handing out funding actually had some knowledge, too often they are generalist civil servants, and their bosses have even less specialist knowledge. From my limited knowledge parts of the BETS department do have good folks though.

  8. Bryn_S says:

    Rheinallt – Thanks for your comments. I think your point on accessing services is further evidence to my argument. Schools and Governments haven’t taken the time to properly understand the technology, and rather than putting in ‘reasonable’ safeguards, they’ve taken a blanked ‘argh! let’s ban it’ approach. To your latter point about school funding, I got into technology because at the time I had access to freshly updated hardware and a dedicated IT teacher. How are we to create a new generation of IT proficient people if we’re teaching them on resources from the late 90s? The Governments in London and Cardiff love to talk about future technologies, but their warm words don’t seem to be converting into action.

    David – Ydi, mae’r gwefan yn edrych braidd fel un WYSIWYG, ond mae ‘ny yn cael ni oddi ar y pwynt sylfaenol. (Yes, the website looks a bit WYSIWYG, but we’re diverging from the point of the piece in that case.)

    insideWG – I agree with you, the ideal is a platform agnostic solution that’ll work just as well on an android smartphone as it does on a HP Touchpad. In terms of having people evaluate such projects, why not crowd-source views on such things? put together a panel of people who actually understand the technology and can give honest and constructive feedback?

  9. Carl Morris says:

    Mae unrhyw dechnoleg sydd ar gael yn dechnoleg gyfoes gan gynnwys ffôn symudol, darllenydd e-lyfrau, tabledi, DVD, CD-ROM, papur, Xbox, cof bach USB, neu’r we – neu unrhyw beth sydd yn bodoli yn 2011.

    Does dim ots pa mor ‘newydd’ neu ‘hen’ ydy’r dechnoleg.

    Beth sy’n bwysig ydy amcanion y prosiect ac argaeledd y platfform. Dw i ddim wedi ymchwilio perchnogaeth o ddyfeisiau yn Ynys Môn, yn ysgolion/cartrefi/llyfrgelloedd. Er enghraifft beth fydd pwynt app ar iPad os mae 1% o bobol yn berchen ar y ddyfais?

    Fel mae’n digwydd dw i’n cytuno yn yr enghraifft yma, doedd CD-ROM ddim yn dewis da. Hefyd dylen nhw wedi ystyried manteision y platfformau newydd sydd ar gael. Ond yn gyffredinol mae unrhyw dechnoleg yn ddilys.

    • Bryn_S says:

      Diolch Carl, pwynt fi yw bod Menter Môn wedi cychwyn rhaglen i helpu ac ariannu prosiectau arloesol. Does dim ffordd i gyfiawnhau dweud bod CD-ROMs bellach yn arloesol. Yn fy ‘marn i, os bod y Cynulliad wir eisiau creu dyfodol digidol Cymraeg, bydd rhaid iddyn nhw fuddsoddi arian mewn technoleg, a dechrau dysgu plant fwy am dechnoleg, yn hytrach na dysgu sut mae defnyddio Word, Excel ac Access.

  10. Carl Morris says:

    CD-ROM yw cyfrwng yn unig. Fydd problem os maen nhw yn rhyddhau meddalwedd ar gof bach USB tro nesaf? Neu lawrlwythiad ar y we?

    Beth yw dy broblem, y cyfrwng (CD-ROM) neu’r platfform (Windows neu rhywbeth)?

    Gyda llaw y Llywodraeth ydy’r prif darged yma, nid y Cynulliad.🙂

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