Thursday, November 24, 2005

Networked Learning

Almost finished an audio visual resource on networked learning.

Used Flickr to host the presentation slides, created using pictures generously licensed to creative commons. I created an audio track to go with it, using backing music generously licensed creative commons.

I'll be using this down in Tasmania when I give some sort of key note at their Learnscope Showcase conference. Am really looking forward to a trip down to Van Deimen's Land.

This presentation is licensed creative commons, I hope you'll use it.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kids and arse (RSS)

Another beaut post by Botts:

And so we see the same thing now...blogs and wikis and sms are all way too serious when used properly. So our kids find ways to subvert their use, pissing off we elders along the way, and yet only continuing a tradition that i was continuing 30 years ago.

If you are having difficulty accepting the ways your students are responding to the technologies we think will change the world, then read botts.

Friday, November 18, 2005

$100 laptops should inspire wealthy nations to address their own divides

Regarding the laptops... I'm not concerned with the developing world's use of them. I'm sure there are people over there ready to pull them apart, improve them, use them and start the ball rolling that started for us and ICTs over 15 years ago. I don't want to pretend I know what's good for them. I understand that their divides are far more than digital.

What I'm interested in is how the concept influences us here in Australia, and other wealthy countries. "Gee, if they can do it for $100, we must be able to do it for 200!!" If we in Australia can start a project for ourselves (seeing as MIT laptops will not be available to us) we might conceivably be able to distribute laptops (or something similar) to school kids here. Similar to the distribution of calculators 30 years ago.

I use the $200 figure a lot in talks. I might bring up the scandalous waste of money NSW spent on the WebServices project. 100 million for that! How many cheap laptops or portable networked devices would that have bought the teachers and students in NSW schools? Or the millions on LMS? or the millions on Microsoft Office and Windows?

I'm not saying that we should go out and buy 100's of thousands of devices in one swoop. I'm saying we should fund research and development like MIT's laptop project, and improve the conditions in our own schools. Smaller class numbers, better network connections, more teachers (that are real people), more networked devices, etc. Hopefully MITs high profile laptop project will inspire this thinking here again.

I actually don't think a kid under the age of 12 will benefit that much in having their own PC. And I don't think real advantage starts to become evident until 16 or so. But in tertiary ed it should be obvious.

But in all, I want people in education to start thinking way outside their square a lot more. I have already witnessed a head teacher suggest that their section buy and give away PDAs. They were able to justify it with savings in photocopying and bolted to the floor PCs, but the management blocked the idea. No reason as far as I know, just didn't like the words, give away and computer in the same sentence.

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I need SuprGlu to keep my head together!

There's been a bit of talk around the world about a new web based service called SuprGlu. I have to agree and reckon its pretty cool. Its very easy to set up, its free and its web based. Big tick so far.

What it does.

You set it to capture all the web feeds you like on a topic, and displays them all in a single blog! Then it generates a single web feed from that. A tricky dicky way to simplify your bloglines for a start.

What I've done.

The easiest thing for me to do was set up a SuprGlu on myself. You might think I'm ego-testical, but I do it largely to review what links, comments, pictures and stuff I have processed in the past. Reinforcing my own learning, keeping track of my head. What a weird thing to do...

I found, technorati (actually it seems technorati feeds are copyrighted, so SuprGlu doesn't use them??), furl, flickr, and many other RSS and Atom feeds on or to do with "leighblackall" and set them to feed into my suprglu page. Then I took that suprglu page's RSS feed and dropped it into my bloglines. Now I have one central feed on everything that I do and what others may say about me. So watch out. But mostly its a second chance for some of the stuff I write and link to to sink in and reflect on a bit - its a personal learning tool. Here's the feed if you want to tap into my head for a day or so:

Obviously this would be useful for any manor of subject or online discussion. I hope some day that TALO will be able to move on from being an old school eGroup, and start being more of a suprglued RSS feed... for example

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blue Mountains IT EduGaming

Edward Smith is one of those legendary students who make working for TAFE worth it! Only a few weeks ago, Michael, Colin, and I were talking about how good it would be to host a LAN party at the IT barn. In part as a marketing campaign for the college, but also to start exploring gaming in education. That conversation sprouted from the TALO swap/meet.

We're all talk! Edward was listening and within a week or two, had modified a game engine and produced a game to make quiz type route learning more fun.

Fun indeed! Any chance we get, we set a LAN game up and play away. We discuss at length how to improve the learning outcomes without detracting from the game fun. We have been challenged to come up with a "non violent game", and how to get others involved in the spontaneous project. Already Joe has created a cool sound track for it...

A great example of students creating their own learning content and environment I reckon. Read more about this via Michael's blog, then get to Edward's blog to download the game!

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The wall is on fire!

Photo by Meesta Chaddaboks

It's a relief to be home today. Enjoying the last frontier of Internet freedom - I never want to step into a NSW classroom again!

Yesterday I was working with a bunch of kids we call BlacktownYoof. Like me they hate school, so we hang out and take and edit digital photos and load them to Flickr.

It took me 3 weeks to get IT support to approve the installation of the basic image editor Picasa, another week for GIMP, and I'm still waiting for OpenOffice and FreeAvid. I only got Picasa and GIMP because I called the IT Boss man myself telling him to come in and teach the BlacktownYoof himself he he wouldn't let us have the software. Quick as a flash it was done, but I don't think me and IT Boss man will ever be friends...

yesterday the BlacktownYoof and I unshackled the computer room, fired up the bolted to the floor computers (2 yoof to 1 computer), excitedly punched in and got this!


I've added the url text for graphical effect. Quick as a flash the Yoof where swearing at the system (as was I) but with noone to kill standing close by we proceeded to see what else was blocked. Blogger, bloglines, myspace - Access DETnied; Ourmedia, googleVideo, googleGroups - Access DETnied. Really flamed now, the boys started experimenting. Within 20 minutes they had found a bit of a way around this wall - they used Google Translate to get some of the blocked sites through. But with no one to blame for this outrage but a red DET logo on the screen (why red?), the nearest DET thing to f**k up are the stupid computers, and the stupid chairs, and the stupid building. It was all they needed to start acting up. I couldn't blame them.

So I grabbed a couple of the boys and we went for a walk - in search of an open network. We found other people, wondering in the corridors looking for someone to kill, but we didn't find an open network. The walk calmed them a bit, and me, and we resolved to edit some pictures at least.

By the end of the day however, I witnessed several games getting downloaded and installed, and several porn sites getting through. In particular seemed to have no hassle with the wall at all.

Here I was with a bunch of KIDS agitated by this blockage and successfully downloading porn and crap anyway - the games I liked, but the porn was too much even for my sexual insensitivity...

Even with the tightest filter the world has ever seen, it took this group of 8 less than 2 hours to work it out! In fact, because of the filter, these guys were making a special effort to subvert it, devoting all their time and energy into finding all the dodgy stuff they could!

What's that tell you about control?

This net filtering is a joke. It always has been a joke, its a waste of time and money, and not helping at all. 'Protecting' kids from the big bad world is not at all what true education is about! In fact, at the end of the day the badest boy in my class felt bad for the things he'd seen this day. He had been listening to the passing remarks I mad at him as he gleefully downloaded hard core carnage. "Porn does make you blind" and "At some stage we have to draw a line for ourselves" is what I kept saying to them. In the end, this fella - of his own accord - told me he's not going to do it anymore. He'd had his day he said, he'd seen enough and now realised what he had to do for himself. He had drawn a line for himself.

When I found my way home that night, I kissed Sunshine and patted the dogs, cracked a beer (still left overs from the TALO swap/meet!) and glanced at my computer to find a more than usual volume of email. The TALO eGroup was cooking over this filter.

  • Jude wrote in to tell a similar tale to mine with her school group.
  • Tony Lorriman with his IT classes
  • Stephan and Sean's R&D work in Sydney, Stephan labeling it "TAFE bans Web 2.0"
  • Jock is preparing a letter to the Bosses
  • Maria is doing similar
I think anyone half aware of the bigger picture and who was inside a NSW classroom or admin office yesterday (and those outside looking in) were flatly outraged by this ramping up of State control. It was bad enough a few months ago, but this has got to stop! Not just stop, gotten rid of all together!

Rose suggested:
maybe they should just give everyone (including students) a cheap laptop and
just focus on providing wifi services, tech support and access to "safe'
shared folders/systems for staff for any stuff that warrants existence
behind closed virtual doors. cos it's eventually going to come to that

I suggested:
Why can't I, (a child protection cleared teacher) have a key to unlock what
is blocked so that my classes may go on uninterrupted. If I had a key, I
could help lock out sites like that somehow still manage to slip under the wall...
and Alex had a witty go at it all with Digital laxatives... mr acting deputy speaker

I hope we can kill this fascist beast once and for all, and find better ways to teach our kids (and teachers) how to draw a line for themselves. Isn't that a better form of protection?

Photo by Meesta Chaddaboks

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Botts' vision - our vision also

Craig Botts just added a vision statement to his blog. A powerful addition that inspires me to do the same (perhaps a shorter one that replaces the joke of a disclaimer in my footer). Good on you Botts, it reads beaut!

I am passionate about improving the educational opportunities and outcomes for rural and remote students with an emphasis on the provision of quality, low cost, high impact, easily accessible resources.

We live in an ever expanding universe of informational opportunity and i believe that the freedom and power afforded by knowledge should not be limited to the affluent in our society, but rather should be made readily available to all who desire it. and i wish to be an outspoken, disturbing, advocate for those who are unable to speak out for themselves offering them the chance to find a voice of their own through the confidence that comes from knowledge.

As an educator i wish to continue to subvert the notion that all approved learning must take place within the walls of established institutions, with the blessing of incumbent governments, delivered by professionally trained teachers. Instead, encouraging students to explore the spaces around them, developing networks of sustainable learning environments, from any available sources. Bringing with them to the conversation that is their classroom, the collective experience and knowledge of the vast world around them, to be recognised for the wisdom they have gained on their journey.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Die LMS die! You too PLE!

Photo by Huasonic
I've been thinking about the PLE (Personalised Learning Environment) project, and Scott Wilson's recent presentation Architecture of virtual spaces and the future of VLEs

The PLE project recognises the fundamental flaws in Virtual Learning Environments or Learning Management Systems (VLE, LMS), but falls short in its vision of an alternative. At this stage in the project it is suggesting that the PLE be a desktop application for a student (sounds a bit like my old Perfect LMS idea) or a singular portal online.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll have to repeat my defining question about Internet enhanced learning, but this time in response to the PLE.

Question to the PLE: Why do we need a PLE when we already have the Internet? The Internet is my PLE, ePortfolio, VLE what ever. Thanks to blogger, bloglines, flickr, delicious, wikispaces, ourmedia, creative commons, and what ever comes next in this new Internet age, I have a strong online ID and very extensive and personalised learning environment. Actually I think the PLE idea is better envisioned by the futurist concept known as the Evolving Personalised Information Construct (EPIC). I think we already have EPIC, so why do we need the PLE?

To extend the statement: We insignificant little teachers and our out of date schools and classrooms don't need to be investing in media projects like VLEs, LMS and even PLEs. Our dam walls of knowledge have burst! and no amount of sand bagging will stop the flood that is clearly discrediting our authority over learning. Media, and with it communications, will evolve (as it certainly has in the last 50 years or more) well beyond the limitations of our classrooms, with investments and broadcast influence we can't even fathom. Why waste our precious money and time on projects that only serve to suspend our true position within that media scape. The PLE makes me think of ELGG, and it all makes me wonder why it is we educationalists still think we are even relevant anymore. The people (yes that includes us) are learning how to read and write for themselves, and in an amazing act of collective generosity, the people are teaching each other - why do they even need our classrooms... is it perhaps only credentialism that we offer? Or is it also sense of security and safety? Is it false?

Photo by Charybdis
What is it I am missing here that everyone else seems to be getting. Why do we need a PLE? Why are ePortfolios so popular? Why are LMS still not dead? Why are teachers so afraid?

Scott Wilson is more cautious than I am. His presentation attempts to bridge this gap between the supposed radical position I take and the reluctant position of institionalised edcuation. He suggests that it is fear that drives current educational decision making in regards to the Internet. He takes time to explain the division between open and closed systems, but tries to balance between the two camps. And in the end he promotes the PLE with a gentle preference for open systems.

So while I whole heartedly agree with the PLE and Scott's reasoning for rejecting the LMS/VLE, I can't say I'm with them on their alternative. In my view, the VLE, LMS and PLE are the same. A suggestion that the Internet, and informal networked learning are not enough. That people still need to come to school to learn. That people need to distinguish learning from life, that people need to download and install an application that will solve their learning needs.

Photo by StefZ
My thinking is that we need to build media literacy in our institutions, and not prevent it by building replicas. If it is fare to say that the open Internet has liberated information, and to a large extent knowledge, and that media is all pervasive, then we need people working within education who are media and network literate. Such people understand what is meant by liberated information and knowledge, and should be able to comprehend the new relationships between teaching and learning. I would rather see more projects invested in firstly recognising this literacy need (honestly and openly), and then addressing it out in the real world Internet, not with replicas, desktop classrooms, or virtualised portals.

Perhaps teachers are not the best people to be teaching anymore!

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Adbuster's Media Empowerment Kit

Was flicking through the Adbuster Magazine today (note that the magazine is a better read than the website dunno why) and came across their ad for the Media Empowerment Kit for teachers.

High school teachers! Inspire, inform, excite and challenge your students with this multi-media literacy kit.

is their line. The magazine does better with:

Teachers - inspire your students to break out of the media consumer trance and start creating their own meaning. The Adbusters Media Empowerment Kit is a grab bag of readings, discussion starters, activity ideas, posters, and handouts. The kit also includes a CD of music and our new Production of Meaning DVD. Designed as a flexible teachers aid that can be used in exciting ways with your current curriculum. Show your students how to jump over the great divide between passive consumpyion and the empowered production of meaning!

US$125 plus shipping.

All new teachers must have a blog - Carmel Tebbutt MP, Minister for Education and Training, New South Wales

Great news (I think), all new teachers in NSW, Australia will be required to undergo a minimum of 100 hours of professional development over 5 years, and will be required to keep an "online log" of their PD! according to New measures for quality teaching in New South Wales schools, a statement put out by Carmel Tebbutt MP, Minister for Education and Training, New South Wales

The Institute will develop a public register of approved professional development courses. All teachers will maintain an online log of their participation to track their professional learning needs and to use as evidence of their professional commitment. All registered courses will be evaluated online by teachers, which will provide valuable feedback for others. These changes will apply to approximately 10,000 new teachers over the next three years, which will grow to 75,000 teachers over the next decade or so.

Examples of the types of courses that will be registered include:

  • Managing adolescent behaviour in the classroom for better learning
  • Using information technologies in the classroom
  • Best practice in the classroom: updating your teaching skills
  • What's happening in the world of science?
  • Playing the numbers game
  • Firing up literacy in the classroom
  • Teaching Shakespeare for the 21st century
  • Improving literacy in the classroom
  • Listening to your students: how to use class discussion to promote learning

Seems the classrooms will be here to stay :( and to be honest, this "online log" could mean anything to the chain of command, and probably won't mean open networked blogs. We all must take this opportunity to praise Carmel for her visionary leadership and call for blogging and ICT training!

Now, off to find any record of that "extensive consultation process" Carmel mentioned...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

No more subjects

Wara points to an exciting read out of Singapore by Kelvin Tan and Lim Ai Ming, Cynthia Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore:

It is an accepted premise of [Problem Based Learning] PBL that problems, rather than curriculum, should drive learning. Bridges and Hallinger (1992) for example stated that PBL should be directed at knowledge that the students should acquire around problems, not disciplines.

9 pages of bliss. thanks Warra!

The digital divide sitting right next to you. Web 2.0 dreamworld & Web 0.75 realworld

Alan Levine vented some frustration (or was it just my own frustrations being read into his observation..?) about how backward our working environments are when considering the excitement over concepts like Web 2.0. Alan reckon's his own organisation is still way back in Web 0.75.

One of my peeves is the pervasive use of email as a sole communication means. What I am referring to as almost daily, there are 4 or 5 fully formatted HTML, graphic laden emails about various events and programs in our college system, and there is no corresponding related information on our colleges' web sites. That means the only content "repository" is the inbox, which has no legacy record, no memory, no search. Our lack of a coordinated event calendaring system (beyond the clunky one to use for foisting meetings on people) means the lowest common denominator, event email spamming. A successful communication strategy ought to connect web site information, email as notification (heck, do you think RSS is on any radars around here?), and yes, sometimes even print.
I think we're all right there with you Alan. I never considered myself and what we do as being on the edge, but the more I think about it, we're just bleeding all over it. I just hope the burnt out resistance that is causing the suspended animation in some of our colleagues doesn't force Web 2.0 into a bubble.

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Audio lesson from Botts on using search engines

Craig Botts from Western Australia recently uploaded a tight little 1 meg file that neatly explains the importance using a range of search engines to find information, and includes a couple of strategies on how to improve results. Craig's search engines part 1 does a good job explaining the topic for all listeners with just about any level of experience. What's more he gets it down in 1 meg or 8 minutes! Quite handy for schoolies.

I reckon Part 2 would do well looking at tagging, and searches based on social software enabled recommendations, ala

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Students in a digital age - MCEETYA

Its a worry when the ICTs in Schools Task Force, for the Ministerial Council on Education Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) puts out a paper titled Students in a digital age: Some implications of ICTs for teaching and learning, and only makes it available in a MS word.doc format, in columns, and that doesn't show up using their own search engine!!

So to make things easier for us all, I've turned it into a PDF and uploaded a copy to ourmedia. (I'm within the progressive copyright statement on the paper too).

On what's in the paper: Unfortunately the article relies heavily on offshore (US and UK) research on Internet usage to describe the impact of ICTs here in Australia. This highlights the serious need for a quantity and variety of Australian research done on our own Internet usage. What little Australian data there was mentioned I am extremely skeptical of, such as:

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) gathered information about student use of ICT from large representative national samples of 15-year-old students using its student questionnaire in 2003 (OECD, 2004)3. From these data it was found that 93% of Australian students had a computer at home that they could use for school work, 83% had a link to the internet and 67% had educational software for the computer.
93% have a computer at home that they can use for study!! That doesn't reflect my own personal observations at all! But its a number at least. Something for number people to chew on. But the number I'd like to accept as golden is this one:

Percentage of weekly use to look up information: 74%
Percentage of weekly use with educational software: 10%

"Quick!" I hear our leaders say, "we need more educational software!"

The article goes on to very briefly mention devices other than computers, concerns of a digital divide, and a possible disconnect in ICT use between younger and older generations. Indeed it is with Prensky's work that the paper seems to rely for drawing meaning and implications out of the statistics. I think generationalism and digital game based learning, while interesting, are too simplistic to be of any real use. Perhaps the US paper Digital disconnect does a better job at describing such issues, and suggests what type of research is badly needed here in Australia.

I was sorry to see no mention of the tension between departmental ICT infrastructure and the common use of ICT in the home, namely software and security measures, or much focus of digital literacy issues ;)

Oh well, good for getting a picture of where MCEETYA's ICTs in Schools Task Force heads are at...

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Precarity is a term used to refer to either intermittent work or, more generally, a confluence of intermittent work and precarious existence. In this latter sense, precarity is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare.

As the Christmas break approahes, we part time teachers and educational contractors start to feel increasingly precarious. There will be no work right through to January, and for contractors, they'll have to chew their nails through to April/May. Precarious indeed!

The latest edition of Adbusters ran a very interesting article on precarity, describing a movement I can't wait to see be born here in Australia!

Over the past couple of years, an intriguing new movement has been emerging from the chaos of Europe's new left. Abandoned by unions and corporations, forsaken by the shrinking welfare state and increasingly vulnerable to the whims of the market, people have started to organize around the concept of precarity: the condition of living without stability or even the assurance of survival.
So readers who may be not so precarious at the moment, spare a thought for us on the fringe. Open up those Google adds will ya! And leave them open while I prepare some space for you in the Precarious Squat post oil peak.

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Testing blogger to wikispaces publishing
[[wiki:leighblackall:testing bloggerwikispaces]]

Two Minutes of Silence - Nov 11


We know warfare, tyranny, and strife. We have pitted neighbor against neighbor, tribe against tribe, nation against nation, and faith against faith. We have seen tensions rise. We have seen hatred boil over. And we have seen peace won at terrible costs.
Now we are faced with a global conflict that is so nebulous, so ill-defined and ill-conceived, that it may never end. All we are told is that there is our side, and there is the other side. That our way of life is at stake, and we must triumph at all costs. As the coffins multiply, we grieve our own losses.
But the horror of neverending war brings with it the chance for a truly global resistance.

And so we will create a new side – the side that wants to understand, the side that seeks out the root causes of our struggle, the side that will triumph over conflict itself.

We will devise a ritual to transcend the double-standard of grief, to transform their dead into our dead, and our dead into theirs. And then we will challenge those around us to do the same.
Two minutes is all that we need for this global ritual of reconciliation. On November 11th, fall silent for two minutes in honor of all innocent victims – in London, in Afghanistan, in New York, in Iraq, in Chechnya, in Madrid. Two minutes of silence, of remembrance, of reflection, to consider the choices that we have made and the path we will follow into the future.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

TALO swap meet conference on Gizmo Sunday nights at 8pm

Hi All,

Alex and I just had a successful conference session in Gizmo.
What you do is get Gizmo, and dial 1222 XXX XXXX (where X is a number we agree on)

If you already have Gizmo, try the number out. If you're the first in there, you'll get a very funny recording to listen to while you wait for the next person - loads of fun.

I'm going to set Sunday night 8pm Sydney time, as a suggested regular TALO swapmeet on Gizmo. Dial 1222 TALOTLK (12228256855) to join in. I'll pop in at about 8pm tonight, but won't expect anyone to get this message before then.

I'll be watching MadMax1 and drinking a bottle of VB, so am not likely to want to pull myself away from it. But with my wireless home and laptop I can't see any reason why not. Hope to see you there!

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Creative Commons now in Google's Advanced Search

Google's advanced search fields now include an option to search based on usage rights. Its a little hard to find though, and you have to open advanced search fields to get it. I suggest using Creative Commons search page instead, as it not only uses Google's search engine, but Yahoo's as well.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Let's get together and talk personal networked learning

Just finished watching a recording of an online conferencing between Stephen Downes, Jay Cross and George Seimens. An interesting discussion, especially the later half hour, talking about networked learning, informal learning, organisational change, and freedom.

In the end they discussed how to move forward, how to keep growing the ideas, why they shouldn't formalise the theories and just keep it in the 'blogosphere'.

I reckon (while there is still a little oil left) we should organise a big get together! All several thousand of us! One big rave party! An open conference, inspired by critical mass and reclaim the streets, focused on this nebulous idea of personalised networked learning. I can't shake the urge to wanna just talk, free form, face to face with whomever sits with me, surrounded in the collective energies, installation art, philosophical soap boxing, audio remixing.

Up here in the Blue Mountains there is a big empty warehouse, I'll scope it out. But let's not disclose the venue/country until the last minute. We'll just arrange to all meet at some international airport, and follow our collective leadership to one location.

I intend to be putting in a big fat grant application to do this in 2006, any help, suggestions, possible sponsors are welcome. I suggest that we all do the same with our own 2 pronged applications, 1 crazy app to host the event and one just to go to the event. Make sure its flexible, just a chunk of money that will get you anywhere in the world with time for a few days.

Think about it, with oil peaked there soon won't be many more opportunities to do this. This could be our first and last opportunity to have a drink together.

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About that swinging in the branches of Knowledge

Following on from the announcement a couple of days ago, my thoughts about the online live discussion on Thursday:
Thanks Stephan for recording the Elluminate session launching the Knowledge Tree's 7th run.

on a mac! 60 inches! Personally I was a little disappointed with the session on Thursday afternoon. It was obvious that the speakers hadn't read each other's writings and so were unable to talk into each other very much at all. As a result the session didn't pull focus or settle into a 'flow' with the time that was available.

Its interesting really, a talk about barriers and issues with social software, in a setting like a journal and structured conversation. The rigid and silent process, and final communication of a journal paper seems to me to be fundamentally challenged by 'social software'. Why (as far as I know) was I the only contributor to write in a wiki? Why do the finished writings have to go out as PDFs? What's wrong with hypertext for referencing, why can't a blog be 'robust'?...

As George talked a bit about a week ago with his post on the joys of shallow thinking, he attempts to depict and somewhat justify why noone reads in depth anymore (why no one at the session had read each other's work) - and why we don't have to.

Shallow thinking, in this sense, isn'’t as negative as its connotations. Shallow thinking (perhaps I need a better phrase) involves exploring many different sources of information without focusing too heavily on one source. Aggregating at this level helps us to stay informed across broad disciplines. So much of education intends to provide "deep learning"”. Often, however, “shallow learning is desired” (i.e. we want to know of a concept, but we don'’t have time or interest to explore it deeply). All we need at this stage is simply the understanding (awareness?) that it exists. Often, learning is simply about opening a door...

I skimmed the other papers in the Tree, but to be honest - while I respect the thought and effort invested in them - at that moment, and the weeks leading up to it, they were not registering in my daily info scans (I would suggest that they would have more if they had of been progressively written publicly, in a wiki say, with a feed). Come the launch, I couldn't find the time, motivation or mental energy to really try and comprehend what was there, it was all so sudden, so many words, surpising.... a launch.

I suspect everyone in there was guilty of the same shallowness (accept for Jo Murray, who actually helped out in my wiki). But why be guilty, its not as if any of us are actually shallow thinkers!... its just that our information processing has changed, while our collective understanding is still married to more traditional forms or communication, and so the traditions are still adjusting to the swift and radical change...

So anyway, after reviewing the audio and cringing at the obvious disconnections, I picked up on a comment by Dorothy Waterhouse that sadly went by without further discussion. Dot's comment appears at time code 1:03:53 of the above mp3. She mentioned that she had been noticing a popularity amongst teachers towards 'social software' were as the system and organisation wide 'solutions' like a Learning Management System had been resisted from the start. In other words, compare the million$ and professional development hours invested in LMS etc, with hardly a cent by comparison with blogging, wikis and other more socially relevant softwares, and notice the energy, passion and drive...

Good point Dorothy. Sorry I didn't back it up on the night.

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Who's heard Michael Coglan sing?

The man can sing! I've requested an album.

Michael's blog has had some furious action of late, including moblogging. Its looking and sounding great! I still haven't worked out how to do audio blogging with my phone... blush!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Australian Institute of Sport interested in being free and open

cool seating Spent the day at the Australian Institute of Sport today, talking with Keith Lyons and Alexis Lebedew from Performance Analysis, Science, Medicine, Education and Technology. Keith and Alexis are very switched on and interested in open networked learning. Basically we three didn't stop yakking for a full day! Keith and Alexis were interested in ideas on how they can move towards open networked learning without compromising the current ICT policies and infrastructure at the Institute. We had lots of ideas really and I hope this day is the first of many to come.

While there I got to see some of the gear they have to play with at AIS, and as you'd expect there was some you-beaut stuff. Check out this 3d projector they had in the back room!

3d projectors

And how about this 60 inch monitor that Alexis is sitting with

Ignoring the tech wiz bang, I think there are a lot of similarities between the Institute and some of the tertiary colleges such as TAFE. The Institute coaches I met for example seem to have a similar outlook as TAFE teachers - pragmatic, face to face, no bull type of people. I think there could possibly be a beneficial relationship struck between the Institute's Education and Technology arm and the VET sector actually.

I wonder if Keith and Alexis were to mix with the VET innovations projects, they might see opportunities to collaborate on projects that in some way benefit their work. They might find opportunities to rationalise their more innovative work with social bottom line outcomes like sustainable community engagement etc - beyond the outcomes of "medals" and elitism. a VET partner would obviously benefit by gaining access to some of the amazing technology being used at AIS. Perhaps if this cross semination did occur, possibilities might be uncovered for broader applications and stronger value added outcomes for both sectors...

Anyway, it was a very interesting day.

driving Lake George

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

South Western Sydney Institute now Free and Open

Gave a Networked Learning workshop at Bankstown, South Western Sydney Institute today. Went quite well I thought. Spent the first 2 hours raving on about the concept, based on the Knowledge Sharing presentation, then the next 2 hours hands on with blogs, eGroups, and Bloglines newsreaders.

Some people stayed on and created OurMedia, Flickr and accounts. Darned Institute firewall prevents uploading to OurMedia though!

Something else happened at the Institute though. First of all the computers had Audacity and Open Office on them!! I requested them for the workshop, not really to show people how to use them (not enough time) but to test the Institute's IT support to see if they'd be willing to install it. They were, and did!

Not only that, there is also an open wireless network available on the campus! Not 1 but 2! I couldn't get on, but I think it has something to do with my laptop, not the network. Does anyone see how amazing this is! A TAFE NSW Institute offering an open wireless network and willing to install free and open source software! Its a great sign of change.

Am on the road to Canberra now, to give another networked learning workshop at the Australian Institute of Sport, then on to Wollongong for the same with a bunch of design/media students.

The gospel of free and open networked learning is spreading far and wide.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Digital Literacy - swinging in the branches of a Knowledge Tree

I have a critique entitled, Digital literacy: How it affects teaching practices and networked learning futures - a proposal for action research that has just been published in the 7th edition of the Knowledge Tree.

It was written in a wikispace of course, with editing credit easily found in the comments and history.

The lead article in the edition is by Ulises Mejias - A Nomad's Guide to Learning and Social Software.

There will be an online discussion at Learning Times Australia's Elluminate session Thursday this week, 4pm Sydney time. Hope to see some familiar faces there ;)

I better get off and read the other articles then!!