Monthly Archives: August 2006

E-Learning Readiness


It is sometimes really surprising how old the “new” media are. e-Learning in the broadest sense has been around a good 20 years, network technology in learning and teaching nearly as long. This makes it nearly as old as the OHP! Still, even to this day, it has not fully penetrated higher education of the 21st century.

Kids do it, grannies do it, but it amazes me again and again, how people deeply involved in higher education, innovative research, and the knowledge economy have still not bought into this. It leaves me selling e-learning from scratch all over again instead of planning progress and students harvesting the benefits – feels like selling floppy disks to digital natives.

Does this sound frustrated to you – or, even worse, familiar?

Is Learning Design E-Learning?


The concept of learning design is difficult to grasp it seems. Most lecturers from non-educational subject areas are thinking content. Design just happens. A dear friend of mine saw this as evidence that academics are an unskilled workforce when it comes to teaching and learning. I would call it self-trained rather than unskilled.

Planning a lesson and orchestrating learning is an alien thought for some of them. It should not be! Neither do I see it as an “e-learning” issue. Is it not an equally valid requirement for classroom teaching?

Of course, the reality of the student experience would indicate: a lecturer walks into the hall and (a) recites what they have delivered to many a generation of students, or (b) do what they have never done before. In both cases the design is random, in the first instance it may be based on previous experiences.

So why bother with LD or ld? And why bother in e-learning rather than in general education? Perhaps e-learning opens the gap between good teaching and poor delivery just wide enough to expose the weaknesses more than otherwise.

Google API


I am fascinated by all these websites springing up which use the Google maps service and produce mashups and neighborhood info, e.g. Seattle busmonster which shows you the busroutes and busstops on the map, later to be extended with arrival times of busses at a certain stop… So, I decided to have a go at it myself.

Not being a programmer had put me off for some time, as I thought APIs are too technical. Well not in this case, as Google have very good intro documentation with code snippets one can use and analyse even when – like myself – they don’t speak PHP or Javascript. Little tweaks here and there, and you’re ready to roll. Look at the result on this page, where I’ve added markers for some friends of mine.

For most teachers of course this will be too hard core. However, it may stimulate their thinking of putting useful dynamic resources together and put them on a map for learning. Only a little technical support is needed.

ELGG workshop


Organised a workshop on ELGG social learning landscape for 24 August. Not only did it turn out an attractive event for various Austrian education providers and universities, there was substantial interest from abroad too. This indicates that ELGG has massive potential for use as an e-portfolio and social networking platform.

Workshop audienceGraham Attwell, after continuous trips to Austria almost a local, opened the workshop with an introduction to social software for learning. His plea that learners are no longer merely consumers but “have stories to tell” was a simple and clear message.

Hands-on experienceThis was followed by a hands-on experience led by the two developers Dave Tosh and Ben Werdmuller. It gave participants a glimpse of what ELGG can be used for. Thanks to Rene Samselnig, our own programmer, it was also possible – for the first time ever according to the developers – to demonstrate successfully the integration module with Moodle. This allows students to upload marked assignments to their ELGG space, where they can persist even after the course has finished.

Social networking with beer!Personally, I am very happy to have met Dave and Ben at the occasion, who were not only visionaries in their online Web 2.0 platform, but equally turned out to be good in real-life socialising and networking… We will certainly stay in touch and seek collaboration with them.

Feedback after the session was that participants wanted to keep the community alive that had been created on the day. There is definitely potential for future collaboration and developments and new exciting ideas.

RollYO


This new search service rollyo.com is fab. It allows to create your own search domain. Instead of generic searches a la Google you can specify sites that you want to search. This may prove mighty useful when a lecturer wants to give students specific trusted sites to search on discipline specific information.

The beauty is that you can add the code to your website, e.g. a VLE. Since it is all Web 2.0 you can share your search rolls with others.

Getting into Web 2.0


Finally, I have made the mental leap of going Web 2.0, i.e. sharing my “browser-most” secrets with the world. I say mental leap, because it is not the technology that I am suspicious of. It is uploading my data (bookmarks, photos, etc.) to remote Web spaces and share them with others. The main challenge is trust!

  • Do I trust my bookmarks will be safe?
  • Do I trust that when registering I won’t be spammed?
  • Do I trust I am in control of the data and the sharing?
  • Will the site be there tomorrow?

As a start, I have uploaded all my bookmarks into del.icio.us and calendar into Google calendar. I have registered with flickr and other social sites to upload and share files. I have begun to give up ownership…