Monthly Archives: November 2007

New LD generation

A new generation of LD editors are on their way. We are excited to see whether these can make the break through to the Real World. One example is Tim Sodhi’s clean drag-drop timeline editor that is based on an amalgam of the 8 Learning Events Model (8LEM) and Sue Bennets’ work at Wollongong.

Screenshot of Tim Sodhi’s LD Editor

You can see the proposed activities as nice clean icons below the timeline. Drag and drop brings these into the activity design timeline, where one can then detail them and add some related content. Simple but promissing work that will eventually export in Learning Design format.

Tools such as this are best viewed as disguising schemes of the LD specification which has proved too challenging for teachers. The biggest issues with LD, I believe, are (a) teachers can’t express what and why they are teaching one way or another, and, (b) the concept of LD has so far been promoted as a technical development, not as a teaching aid.

I always favoured the 8LEM approach as being one that is rather self-explanatory for educators and thus provides a low threshold for practitioners. It also has a learner centred view, basically asking: what do you want your students to do? I am not sure why Tim has not included the meta-learn activity, but maybe this one is more complex then the rest of them. Anyway, he foresees the current range only as indicative and envisages longer term extensibility.


Organisational contradictions

Three case studies of institutions that I know more intimately have made me aware of some interesting inconsistencies within the organisations. All the institutions are e-learning HEIs. The birdseye view shows that:

– institution 1 has a great reputation but lack the reality to match it
– institution 2 has great IT services and architecture but lacks institutional vision
– institution 3 has excellent advanced knowledge but lacks implementation

In total, where there is good there is also bad. Is this part of the digital divide? Rather it shows that in these public education institutions the left hand does not know what the right hand does. Cybernetic and communication weaknesses of HEIs leave them the last to benefit from their own knowledge base or efforts.

The Google mess

I hate artificial intelligence in software, when it works against the user! Google’s geolocation is one of the things that annoy me every day:

Over the past few years, I lived and worked in three different countries, the UK, Austria, and now the Netherlands. I signed up to various Google services, and now have to live with an utterly messy knowledge and productivity environment, where there seems to be no way out.

Before going into the details of the symptoms, I would like to state, that it is my preference to have all services in UK English, but want to use rather than for search.

What does the reality look like:

  • My iGoogle page “speaks” to me in Dutch and no matter how often I change the language preferences, it falls back to Dutch. So does the search, presumably because my IP address and operating system here at work are Dutch
  • My Gmail account is in English
  • The Google Docs interface is in German
  • Google Alerts have changed from German to Dutch, neither of which I find particularly rich in results
  • Google Calendar is either in English or in German depending on the link that I followed from the previous Google Application
  • Google Reader is in English
  • My Google Calendar has synchronisation problems as it synchronises UK time (GMT) into CET, so full day events appear as running from 23:00 to 23:00 in other apps.

The easiest way out, I think might be to delete the individual services and sign up again, but would then all of the services come in Dutch??? Help me if you can, weep with me if you can’t, and to Google: please sort out this mess!!!

Contracts and IPR

I’m currently struggling through EU legal documents to set up new Consortia for European R&D projects. It’s a painstaking task, and makes me feel somehow depressed that while doing so, I have to invent worse case scenarios to see whether the agreement would stand the challenges of a partnership.

Fortunately, things have become much easier with FP7 with the EU recommending the DESCA template, that is a model Consortium Agreement, which you can adapt and tweak. There are also some specific modules to plug in depending on the setting relevant to you.

The DESCA model also covers IPR issues, but for more depth, the IPCA agreement will help. As a general overview, I found the Summary by EURESEARCH useful.

Social network? Which social network?

Since the rise of the social networking (r)evolution on the Web I have signed up to so many social networks, I can’t even remember. Some of them I joined to try them, others I because I’ve been invited. So I can truly call myself a social human being!

That I joined a site does not, however, mean that I’m connected. Nor does it mean I have all my networks at my fingertip. While an exile in Austria, I joined StudiVZ as most of the people there were linked into this platform. When I joined orkut lately, I found mostly the Indian and Pakistani community from my hometown represented. Of course, LinkedIn and Xing, are more professionally oriented, Academici or EduSpaces more academically. In some communities, like Bebo, I have only one person I know, and some I have forgotten how to spell them…

Am I more connected? No, I feel more fragmented! For several reasons:

  • I am not a person to connect to total strangers.
  • My different profiles show a personality disorder of psychodelic proportions, cause I cannot keep my profiles in sync.
  • My own online social circles are digitally divided up between uncombinable platforms.
  • I have become an unerasable part of the collective Internet memory, but cannot find the lost traces of my own identity (or wipe the slate clean on some forgotten sites). Let’s hope it’s not going to haunt me!

A step forward may be social meta-networks such as or spock who are trying to piece together distributed social information either manually ( allows you to manage several social identities in one place) or automatically (spock spiders social sites collecting information about signed-up individuals). Looks like I will soon depend on such a service to make me whole again!

Rare experts

I remember the days when e-learning promissed remote and isolated students quality education by providing access to the world’s leading experts. The idealistic idea of easy (and free) access to expertise around the globe is still on the wishlist of many, including myself. It is one of the unfulfilled promisses of remote and distance learning.

While we do have easier access to knowledge that has been captured in one format or other (e.g. podcasts), the education system is lagging very much behind in it’s responsibility as a distributor of knowledge.