Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pay It Forward Courses on a Wiki

I was given the opportunity to present an idea to a network of Outreach workerswho are looking at blogs and various online tools in their own practices. Some excitement was generated around the idea with a name already flowering for it, "Pay It Forward Learning". The name was nominated by 2 in the group referring a movie and book of the same title. I haven't seen either of them, but will be watching the movie at least to begin with...

Following is an outline of the idea:
  1. Set up a wiki to collaboratively develop and deliver course materials on. I have set up the Pay It Forward Learning wikispace for this.
  2. Select or develop a Training Package that leads to recognition in an Australian Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
  3. Transfer the list of competencies required for recognition in that course to the wiki, from the National Training Information Service (NTIS).
  4. Design assignments for each of the competencies that require students to create learning resources for that competency. Include quality links and other student learning resources to assist that student learn that competency.
  5. Students using the Pay It Forward Learning wikispace are encouraged to keep a weblog of their efforts, uploading assignments as they complete each competency.
  6. When the student has completed all the assignments in a Training Package, they submit their weblog and assignments for Recognition of Prior Learning to any participating RTO.
  7. The RTO assesses the weblog, noting any assignments worth loading to the Pay It Forward Learning wiki.
  8. Any assignments that are used in the wiki, the student receives a discount to the fee they are required to pay to receive assessment, formal recognition, and certification.
  9. Any gaps in a student's competency, identified through assessment and testing is filled through face to face training.
  10. The student has an option to act as a mentor to the next student, and pay out part of their fees in hours.
NB. Many students in Australia will probably need to be issued with a laptop and a broadband internet connection. Internet connections at the time of writing this concept were as low as $30 per month, and a laptop complete with free and open source software could be obtained for under $500. These costs could be invested into the student with a view to reclaiming the amount through either eventual cash repayment, mentoring time, or learning resource developments.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Function over Form, Scott Sorley Get's It

Sean Fitzgerald emailed me a link to Scott Sorley's blog article "Google University" in which he adds his voice to the "its so obvious, why aren't we doing it?" question:

Millions of dollars are spent by Universities and Education Institutions to provide the basic technology platforms for education, such as email, discussion groups, content storage and resource searching. How long before they give up and just go with a free to the public system which probably provides better resources.

Scott then lists off all the free Google services currently available that arguably offer a better service then our expensive systems currently entrenched. It goes without saying that I totally take Scotts point, but I would add services outside Google for the sake of diversity and enrichment.

Scott's post perfectly encapsulates my "Everything You Need to Teach and Learn Online" series of posts, and begs the next question, "why aren't more of us asking the obvious question?"

Scott has quite a few interesting posts along this level of thinking:

Courseware - Function over Form
Commercialising Public Universities
The Future of Commercial Learning Management Systems
Are you doing too much?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

What a wiki rippa!

Here it comes... Wikiversity!

Welcome to the Wikiversity, a free, open learning environment and research community. You can find online courses about many different topics here, and create courses of your own.

Someone has proposed opening the university on a provisional basis and has volunteered to teach the first class. For information please visit the discussion page.

Wikipedia Page History Animated

Jon Udell is back on the scene reviewing a new bit of software that animates the history of a wikipedia entry.

The Blogs We Need in Australia

I met with some colleagues the other day, to debrief our efforts to date in training teachers in the use of blogs, wikis, newsreader and eGroups in education. One of the points raised was that for teachers to appreciate the benefits of blogs more, they need to be able to see sites that are really useful to them.

Blogging is a fairly recent trend in Australian education, and the early adopters here are limited by a largely North American perspective when using blogs to source information. I while back I posted a request to my local network asking everyone who had a blog to list it in the comments of the post. This was because I was beginning to notice that my news reader was being dominated with North America perspectives and desperately needed local flow.

Now that I have more examples of local Australian eduBlogs, that assists quite a bit in helping new comers relate to the experiences, views and information being captured by those local bloggers. But its not enough. I have not found many local blogs with subject focus beyond the general eLearning streams such as this blog does. While these blogs are extremely valuable for keeping current and up to date with developments in technology as it affects education, they are still too general to be of imitate use to the time starved teacher.

We need eduBlogs with focus on subjects and issues relevant to us here in Australia. For example, I think it would be of great help to the uptake of eduBlogging and its acceptance in the upper ranks of management if we had at least the following:

1. A journal on the benefits of reflective teaching practice
2. News and information relating to teacher training in each state of Australia
3. Network teaching and learning ethics, code of conduct, guidelines etc for teachers, trainers, managers and policy makers
4. News and information from the State Departments
5. Case studies of best practice in the new pedagogies being implemented
6. Syllabus content blogs for each subject taught in our State schools and colleges

This list is by no means authoritive in what we actually need. Its just my thoughts to try and get a ball rolling on the issue. From my experiences trying to encourage teachers into networked learning, we need more examples of information streams with clear and obvious benefit to the average teacher.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Broadbanding Information Part 2

Photo and text by Sidelong

I lost my job today. The main reasons stated were that my opinions expressed in this blog, in that wiki, and in day to day communications with staff, contradicted the directions of the unit I was working within. Of course these reasons alone, as I put them, would not be enough cause to fire me, so inflation of other reasons was necessary... Anyway, this is just one reason why I'm up at 2.30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep, so I might as well jot down a few ideas.

Photo by Dave Morris

A while back I posted Broadbanding Information describing an idea on how to get the information locked up in 'academic rigor' more readable and therefore accessible to a wider readership. I got a few positive responses to that initial idea, and subsequently want to suggest a way software developers could contribute.

It involves the word processing/language tools department - thesaurus and spell check to be exact. As I write this post, above the box in which I am typing are a number of formatting tools I can use. Bold, italic, colour, hyperlink... then there's the spell checker. I couldn't get by without that little god send. Without it I would have to first type this up in OpenOfficeText, spell check it, then copy it over. But Blogger has managed to offer me this powerful feature right here, saving me the hassle (even suggesting to me that I may not need a text editor installed on my computer anymore...). I want them to take it a step further. And not just Blogger either. Everyone offering a WYSIWYG editor should take this idea:

Basically, it is a spell checker split into 3 levels. Each level represents a level of English reading such as: 1 = primary, E as a second language, etc. 2 = secondary, popular terms and expressions, SMS, etc. 3 = tertiary, expert level, big words, academic. When I hit the spell check button, it would ask me what level I want to check at. If I want my writing (or just a selection within it) to be broadly readable, then I'd select 1. If I knew that my writing was specialised, and almost impossible to simplify, I'd give 1 or 2 a go, just to see, but would probably settle for 3 if they didn't work. Each level of spell check would simply have a predetermined list of words suitable to that readership level. If the words in the writing do not appear in that list, then they are simply presented as miss-spelled.

Now, that alone would be frustrating to people without the talent for writing in an accessible way. They might be so caught up in an academic level of expressing themselves that they simply cannot write it any other way. Simply presenting a big word as miss-spelt wouldn't really help. That's were the wikithesaurus part of this idea comes in to play.

Imagine if the wiktionary (the free dictionary) was broken up into these 3 broad categories. It wouldn't have to be apparent to everyday users, just some database setup perhaps. Contributors to the wiktionary could progressively develop the lists of words for the readership levels, and also link across the levels to suggest more complex or more simple words in a thesaurus type of way.

So now, when I clicked that spell checker, it would still first ask me what level I want to check at, but instead of presenting words not in that level's list as miss-spelt, it would call on wiktionay and recognise the word being used, then suggest other words more appropriate to the selected level. Not only progressive academics trying to reach their broader community would benefit, but people trying to improve their literacy as well - the school boy trying to make his essay read more 'expertly' uses the tool and gets guidance in a more useful way... or the Taiwanese kid trying to comprehend some verbose English text, runs it through the spell checker at a level 2 to get a better idea...

Photo byChung Wei

I realise this may be a big ask for our humble WYSIWYG editor. That's why I posted this idea to the OpenOffice Developer Mail List. But disappointingly I haven't had a response from anyone there yet, maybe it didn't get through. While it may be a challenge to set a WYSIWYG editor up to do this, it should be a piece of cake for a full blown desktop application. It would certainly secure OpenOffice as the better word processor that it already is.

So I hope some language tools programmer reads this some day, and lets me know were my idea falls short.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Thoughts on Open Courseware

Photos by rightee

The problem of content
  • Costly and time consuming to produce and license
  • Difficult to keep up to date and relevant
  • The question of delivery: accessibility, usability, reusability and future proofing
  • Income, competition and the market

The problem of too much
  • The International Network, 'quality', permanence, reliability
  • The usability of finding, open search, tagging, RSS, property and rights
  • Content management systems, portals, libraries, repositories, commercial search
  • Open vs closed systems

The problem of too technical
  • Property and rights
  • Sharability and interoperability
  • Access and usability
  • Skills and knowledge
  • Change

The solution is free and open content
  • Service over product
  • Collaboration and expanded networks
  • Global engagement
  • Social responsiveness
  • Closer ties between research and teaching
  • Less cost

The problem of openness in today's organisations
  • Climate of litigation, liability and quality control
  • Intellectual property, copyright, branding and recognition
  • Privacy, secrecy and security
  • Management and direction

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Remove the Blogger Navbar

Personally, I really like the Blogger navbar that used to appear above this site, it made for some really interesting viewing. But lately, poor old blogger has been hit with a bunch of blog spam and porn, with estimates that 6 in 10 blogspot are either spam or porn.

Personally I haven't experienced anything near that bad, but the point Will Richardson makes on WebLog-Ed is not missed by me here. It is a problem if teachers that you are trying to impress with blogging happen upon a porn blog by clicking the next blog button in the nav bar. Fatal if a student does it.

So removing the nav bar is the temporary sollution to this unfortunate development for Blogger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How Will We Assess Students Blogging

Given that Blogging is not for everyone and that not all students will benefit from it, how will we recognise those students who do blog and assess what they do in their blogs, without disadvantaging those who do not? Will student blogs simply become a channel in which they hand in assigned work, or will we develop ways to recognise and "measure" learning and community development contributions through blogging, without disadvantaging those who choose not to.

I think it is important that educational 'country clubs' make blogging recognition available, but not insinuate that blogging is mandatory.

This post is an amazing example of how my newsreader has pruned my search engine. I was only just this morning asking myself this question, making a mental note to look up some discussion on it, when low-n-behold, here it is in my newsreader fed by Will Richardson's blog!

Will points to Konrad Glogowski has a post up titled "Grading Conversations"

...What this means to me is that grading blogs (especially at the elementary level) has to be a very holistic process that focuses not only on the quality of their work but also on the extent to which their work reflects the context in which they work. I think that student bloggers should be recognized for writing as part of a larger community of inquirers.

Academic Research Using Wikipedia to Reach the Masses

Steven O'grady, has blogged in perfect timing for me a post about a Medical Academic using WikiPedia to publish their information and hopefully prevent pandemics... (academics - pandemics... is there a relationship here?)

Citing the impact that Wikipedia had post-Tsunami, Dr. Lucas Gonzalez of the Canary Islands in Spain is attempting to use the publically authored and edited site to help prevent, slow and survive an outbreak. I find this fascinating not simply because it's an illustration of the growing public awareness of the power of things like Wikipedia, but because of how different a world we live in.

Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

I was finishing off listening to Steven Downes' recording of a presentation made at Mount Saint Vincent University - Blogging in Education on my way down the mountain to work this morning.

For the most part Steven's talk didn't really tell me anything I hadn't already considered or heard from him before, but it was interesting to listen to someone as advanced with concepts and ideas about blogging as Steven, have to give an introductory presentation about Blogging in education... every now and then he referred to sites or interest and readings I hadn't come across yet, and just listening to the way he presented the concepts gave me insights on how I might introduce blogging to educationalists better.

One of the papers he referred to at about the 1 hour mark was George Siemens' Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age which he stressed as being important reading. So I googled this Siemens fella and it didn't seem to come up... so I hopped onto Steven's site and google searched there, and found it that way. This tells me that perhaps this paper isn't as widely read as Steven hopes it to be.

Connectivism is exactly the learning theory I've been looking for. One like it, though not so much a theory, Planning for NeoMillenial Learning Styles by Chris Debe is an excellent and inspiring read but it is perhaps just a bit too imaginative, futuristic, and stand alone in its relationship to established learning theories to have had much of an effect on those I push to (other than the already converted). But George's straight shooting, brief, and pragmatically situated Connectivism will speak to those holding on to older learning theories such as behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. By referring to these canons of educational theory and practice, George in my view, plainly and successfully introduces connectivism theory.

Intoducing the theory, George quotes Karen Stephenson, author of What Knowledge Tears Apart, Networks Make Whole to encapsulate what he and others are describing:
Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people
George then refers to John Seley Brown, author of Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn, and his example of a classroom scenario to broaden the concept of connectivism where seniors are brought in to speak with the kids,
The children listen to these '"grandparents"” better than they do their own parents, the mentoring really helps the teachers… The small efforts of the many - the seniors -– complement the large efforts of the few -– the teachers.

The small efforts of many complement the large efforts of a few... I like that. That's what's going on around here. That's how networked learning works, that's connectivism...

I'm not steeling George's thunder by quoting part of his conclussion next, its a good read that I also recommend,
A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.
And this is how I have since seen George's paper being interpreted by other eduBloggers. Well worth a read, great for passing on to older educationalists struggling to come to terms with the social changes left to us by the Internet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More Against the LMS

Its a relief to find others in Australia having a swing at the LMS debate.

James Farmer (who I regrettably missed at BlogTalk Downunder) has had a big swing at LMS (WebCT in particular) and their recent moves to offer interoperability with some open source applications such as PHPWiki.

Those who know me would not be surprised to see me agreeing with James' view and promoting his points here.

It concerns James, as it concerns me, that the LMS clients such as Unis and Colleges might welcome the effort of their big investments to offer integration of Open Source applications into their system. James gets it when he says,

...And to me the appropriation of the tools that will help us achieve this by the WebCTs of this world through stuff like the '‘WebCT Wiki Integration Toolkit 0.1′ is bad news. It'’s the same approach that gets people to shop at K-Mart for everything even though they can get a much greater range, quality and price just down the road… and they are not doing it out of a philanthropic to help us teach and learn online better. They're doing it to lock in the $s.

Many organisations have fought a hard road to date getting their employees using an LMS, and the ground swell of free, web based, and open source applications is putting quite a bit of pressure on them I'd say. Many people are asking the long awaited question - why use an LMS at all! Having their LMS investment then offer some interoperability to these 'new' tools is no doubt a relief to them.

But they just don't/won't see that it is about far more than that...

Site Translation Tools - Are They Getting Closer?

Paul Pival, author of The Distant Librarian recently posted on the use of auto translation tools that could possibly assist when trying to reach international networks. He found the Fagan Translation Tool which offers code to add a link to your site that will take you to the Fagan Translator and theoretically translate your site. See my trial of the service in the links section of the right hand column when viewing this blog's pages.

Google has been offering such a service for quite a while now with some Asian languages in a beta stage of development. As far as I can tell though, Google doesn't yet offer any code to place a Google Translation link straight on your site - a big plus to the Fagan service.

Friday, June 10, 2005

An Academic Wiki - The Politics of Open Source Adoption

Creative Commons runs a good blog (not too much, not too little, just right), and they just posted on an impressive wiki being developed looking at the politics of open source adoption (or non adoption) in organisations around the world.

This wiki is an invitation to collaborate on a real-time history and analysis of the politics of open source software adoption. The Social Science Research Council is pleased to offer a first version of this account—POSA 1.0. For our purposes, understanding the ‘politics of adoption’ means stepping back from the task of explaining or justifying Free and/or Open Source Software (F/OSS) in order to ask how increasingly canonical explanations and justifications are mobilized in different political contexts. POSA 1.0 tries to map the different kinds of political and institutional venues in which F/OSS adoption is at stake. It tries to understand important institutional actors within those venues, and the ways in which arguments for and against F/OSS are framed and advanced. It seeks to clarify the different opportunities and constraints facing F/OSS adoption in different sectors and parts of the world. It is an inevitably partial account that--we hope--can be extended and deepened by other participants in these processes. We would like your help in preparing POSA 2.0

I hope I get a chance to contribute.

Is It A Flaw in Creative Commons?

I was having a yak to Sunshine in the car on the way to dropping her off at TAFE (WSI) this morning, and she was telling me about this 'heated discussion' she was having with one of the design teachers there. She was telling me how this teacher was really pro copyright and explaining how it all worked. Sunshine said she was getting really irritated by the guy's positivity about copyright when to her, everyone in the room had broken the law because of copyright, it was obviously geared to benefit bigger corporations, and her feeling that it was just all way too complicated for the average person to manage. The way Sunshine described what this guy was saying... well, I just wish I could have been there!

We then started talking about Creative Commons as an alternative for designers, and Sunshine pointed out a worrying flaw in the creative commons usage on the Internet. She told me how only yesterday she put in a yahoo creative commons search for "Zoo Animals" which turned out all these blogs, Flickrs, websites and moblogs with pictures taken straight off the new movie Madagascar.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that Dreamworks isn't buying into a Creative Commons license for its movie, so that means that all those well meaning bloggers out there with a generic, across-whole-site, creative commons statements are perhaps unintentionally implying that the pictures that they are linking to in their blogs, or the Flickr pictures that they taken while at the movie... are also creative commons, when they're not! Because of the way the search engine looks for creative commons content, it turns up a heap of stuff that's in fact not. If Madagascar wasn't a big movie at the moment, how would we know?

I think the search results issue and implied site wide licensing is a pretty big problem that threatens the greatness of the creative commons stamp. Either we have to encourage people to use the CC mark on each little piece of text and media, use the format selection tool more (it will need to be improved in functionality), or at the very least we ask that the CC stamp, statement and link be added to each blog post where the blogger can claim ownership or rights on all the content in that post - stop using the stamp in the site footer, as it implies CC licensing for everything that appears in the site and it is certainly corrupting the CC search results.

Waiting on a comment to a CC eGroup post I've made...

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Is That A Wiki in Your Pocket!?

Qwikly is offering the ability to run wikipedia on a portable, connected device!

Step 1

Download our ready-made mobile-sized Wikipedia, Wiktionary, or Wikiquote for Pocket PC, PALM or Windows in either English, German, French, Polish, Dutch or Esperanto. Windows users should download the Pocket PC version.

Step 2

Download and install TomeRaider 3, the world's most adept electronic reader. (What is TomeRaider 3?)

Step 3

Open the file on your handheld (or in Windows) and enjoy surfing the world's largest encyclopedia at blazing speeds.

Death to "Learning Objects"

At last, the vibration of a revolt against the concept enclosed in the term "Learning Object". I came across Executing Learning Objects, Resurrecting Sharing and Reuse by Scott Leslie via Alan Levine's blog article in which he posts some comment, support and clarification on elements of Scott's article.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Armor Geddon - Networked Learning

Armor Geddon, by Neil Prakash - A soldier in the armored corp of the US military in Iraq at the moment, makes for some interesting reading. But what's more interesting about his blog is it's role to play in the whole 'Blogging-challenges-everything' phenomenon.

MilBlogs as they have come to be called are a very interesting development for obvious reasons, but Neil takes it a step further when I he links to movies being made by other military personnel on their operations and daily life.

Now, I don't see the making movies bit as anything new really, soldiers have always been documenting their experiences with various technologies, true though the technology available these days makes these documentaries quite mind blowing for spectators. But it's the network communications supporting all this that opens up new possibilities.

Neil posted back in February about a suicide bomber attack on his company that was miss represented by the broadcast media. Aside from it being interesting to see how often the mainstream media broadcasters get it wrong according to the milblogs I read, Neils post about this attack contained a small request to his reader that blows my mind,

...The BEST part is that his jackass terrorist friend was videotaping it... If anyone can tell me where to find that video clip on the internet, a lot of us in my company are curious as to whether they taped it while hiding in a certain village.

There is something about this request that both excites and disturbs me. Neil is requesting intelligence assistance from his Inter-network to help him locate a target, to help him learn something. If it wasn't such a dramatic subject with potentially fatal consequences for some people, then it wouldn't be such a concern. The excitement is of course in the use of the Inter-network to learn.

We see it very often in the TALO egroup. Members have often posted to the eGroup requesting links, names, comments, and resources. I assume they are asking the group because they can't find it themselves, but perhaps its more productive to just ask the network then the Google machine. I mean, if I asked Google, I'd spin out in all sorts of directions, discovering stuff just as useful and/or interesting, but not what I was looking for. With such experiences with search engines, it would possible be more productive (in terms of the objective) and less time consuming for me to simply flick an email to the eGroup or some other network and see what comes back.

Wireless Hotspots Should Be Free!

Since going wireless broadband at home my world view has changed.

Sunshine and I pulled into a MacD's on the way home the other night.. no that's not the world view change I'm talking about.. and while woofing down the chips I happened to notice a cardboard add poking up in front of me on the table. I don't normally notice adds in such places - the monotone surroundings kinda numbs my observational techniques, but this one was saying something to me.

On closer inspection I say what it was that was attracting me to it - its was the wireless hotspot being mentioned.

I had heard of this from a student of mine, and since getting broadband wireless at home, I must admit I have dreamed of such a day coming, but I had no idea it was already just around the corner, already here in fact!

So far, Telstra Wireless Hotspots appear to be offered in loads of places but there's a catch... you have to login and pay for it :(
I always thought the best things in life were free!

Even when the rationalist appeared on my shoulder and tried to explain to me why I would have to pay for such a thing, it didn't make sense!

Here I am, sitting in MacaD's, woofing down my chips. I see the wireless being offered and am ready to run to the car and fetch the laptop and start checking email, upload a few files to my server etc. "Gee! I might have to buy myself a coffee, and maybe some more chips" I think to myself, but then Sunshine points out the small print and the whole idea leaves me and we go home to do it.

Why would they charge for something people have at home anyway? And at $5 per 15 minutes at that! Can't they see that a free service will attract people (never everybody) to their bizness, and therefore generate sales on the products and services they offer? Heck! it will even generate loyal customers for a while!!? Even if a single MacaD's restaurant just bought a $50 a month account and sat a wireless modem on their bench, theoretically they could offer connectivity to the 1 in 10 customers that would appreciate it at very little cost to them at all!

Anyway, its still exciting that wireless everywhere is coming. I just hope more of our libraries, schools, TAFE's and universities jump on it soon... less the crappy bizness idea.

Free access for all! Not just the rich!...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a pretty incredible resource for free and open content. Here I use the Archive to search for content for "Nursing" and it turned up some pretty interesting results.
Internet Archive - screencast PDF - 1meg

Internet Archive - A PDF and MP3 all zipped up ZIP - 1.5meg

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Searching The Creative Commons

I needed to demonstrate the search function of the Creative Commons website to show that its more than just a license generator. I'm currently working with staff from the Early Chilhood Faculty, so 2 birds with one stone here goes:

Get the MP3 and PDF all zipped up in a ZIP - 1.9meg

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Introduction To The Creative Commons

Jon Udell inspires me. His screencasts on so many things are not only very insightful, but have offered me numerous shortcuts to understanding various things to do with the screen world I live in.

I bring to screencasts an alternative method
. The combination of MP3 and PDF. I love the flexibility of both these formats, and bringing them together offers screencasting he same level of flexibility. Uses can now download a screencast a fraction of the size of a video screencast, they can listen to the MP3 on their players away from the computer, and similarly view the PDF on screen or in print while they travel on the bus.

I have attempted to create these screencasts so that they can be used independently of each other, so the MP3 describes the screen and the PDF has a transcript. Sure it takes a fraction longer, but the tools used to create this alternative are common and freely available, while the screencapturing tools used to create video screencasts are not, though as Jon Udell points out, specialist software is becoming less of an issue.

Anyway, give this screencast on using the creative commons.org site a whirl. Let me know what you think. But keep in mind, or feel free to add to my objectives:
  1. To come up with a very easy way to create screencasts
  2. using the barest minimal resources
  3. outputting to common formats
  4. resulting file must be small (preferably under 2 meg) and so portable on storage disks, email, and repositories with file size restrictions.
  5. resource must be flexible in use, on screen, in print, on portable media players.
  6. Each file must stand alone and not necessarily require the other for successful use.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Statistics for "What's In It For Me" People Considering Open Courseware

As usual, a humorous articled with depth to it from Ming the Mechanic.
Ming reviews an article from the New York Times about an experiment with monkeys to see how an economy of giving weighs up in exchange rates.

Results = Monkeys on average are willing to give away 50% of the time
A monkey that gives away lots, gets back 30% of what they give
A monkey that gives away nothing, gets ignored, and insulted.

I reckon they're pretty good stats to use next time I promote open courseware in a university... ;)

More on Beauty and Charm in eLearning Resources

My trusty links sending friend Adam Bramwell has sent another doozy of a Flash movie that I think is quite relevant to the ongoing posts I'm making here about beauty and charm in the design of our eLearning resources.

Coleman tents has put out this movie which is of course just a 30 second commercial produced for viral Internet marketing. But where it is relevant to us here in TALO is in its approach to the presentation of information.

As with the other posts on the subject of beauty and charm in eLearning, I'm not saying that we have to go so far as develop finished products such as these (even though a movie such as Colemans is not all that difficult for an average Flash designer with a bit of imagination), but I am saying that we need to take note of the ideas and methods that the more adventurous artists, advertisers, and designers are using. We educationalists should stay actively engaged with the cutting edge of communications design, and use the ideas and inspiration we gain from such an engagement in our own resource development work.

In this day and age, motivation to learn is a difficult thing to maintain in ourselves let alone our students. The payoffs and benefits of getting an education are less obvious then they were, education today is expensive, time consuming and down right boring, with no guarantee of a good job at the end of it either! Faced with these sever demotivating forces, we need to the will, opportunities and flexibility to try out the ideas and methods of those communications artists, advertisers and designers we are inspired by.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

In the Kitchen Talking to Blogger

Get this!! I'm currently in the kitchen typing this entry on Sunshine's little Macintosh laptop, connected through a wireless ADSL modem/router (pictured)... The lamb roast is in the oven and I'm just about to peel the potatoes. I'm so stoked about the wireless that I thought I'd post to the blog just to prove it to myself.

AAPT finally made the connection, and it wasn't all smooth sailing to get it going either. Bear in mind that I run a Linux desktop, a windows laptop, and a Mac power book. I think my initial trouble was caused by trying to set up the modem from the Linux desktop. Nothing wrong with the Linux, but the modems are generally ready to work with windows, and Mac before Linux, so lucky I had a windows machine on hand.

For those of us who know nothing or little about these things, it turns out that ADSL modems (or DSL for short) have software inside them. You need to set the connection settings, such as your service username and password, inside the modem before it can connect (unlike dial up modems where you set up on your computer's network settings). The difficult thing can be getting into the ADSL modem to set the connection settings...

The modem that AAPT sent me was pretty easy, once I realised that it would be easier using the windows machine. I called AAPT and waited on the phone for about an hour, yes that's right - an hour (more on that later), before a lady talked me through a few things. I had to unplug the phone so that the modem had sole connection. That got the modem happy, once it was happy, it then let me into it to set the password. Once the password was set in it I was right to go. It worked now on the windows, Mac and Linux machine. And what a difference broadband is! So, the key thing to remember is that ADSL modems have settings inside them that need configuring. You access the modem through the browser.

Now, once my free DLink modem was happy, and I was experiencing broadband, I wanted more. Wireless! So I went out to the local guy and bought myself a NetGear wireless, fire walled 4 point router/modem. Which basically means a modem that can plug in 4 computers with cable, and offer wireless connection for any in the vicinity (picture me in the kitchen using the wireless, and Sunshine on the Linux desktop plugged in with Ethernet cable). Oh, and I guess firewall means some sort of extra security - and I haven't noticed any connectivity problems caused by the firewall either... yet to try out chat programs or file sharing...

About the 1-hour wait for AAPT. Apparently they have been swamped with enquiries to broadband. The teleservice operators explain to me that AAPT are trying to train up more teleservice operators but can't meet the demand. Friends tell me that they are experiencing the same with other service providers, which tells me that Australia may be going through a very rapid network upgrade. This may be something worth noting for us in education...

Anyway, I better peel those potatoes and chop some wood. It’s getting cold up here.