Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Free and Open Source Web Conferencing is on the way

Through a comment from Anne to the Everything You Need to Teach and Learn Online post - A hosted and open source web conferencing service will be in beta September 1.

Let's hope its free, easy and web based... pleeeeze be so.

Dimdim is the Open Source web conferencing company. With Dimdim you can show Presentations, Applications and Desktops to any other person over the internet. You can chat, show your webcam and talk with others in the meeting. More..

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Using Bloglines to subscribe to podcasts and webfeeds

Webfeeds are the plumbing that makes the Internet flow in my view. Here is a brief demo of how to set up and use Bloglines to tap into that flow.


An overview of BlipTV and why it is so Web2.1

Monday, August 21, 2006

Creating an image stack with GIMP

The free and open source alternative to Photoshop is GIMP. I'm quite liking GIMP these days. Give it time, flush that Adobe hole in your pocket out of your system, and GIMP comes through with the goods. Here, I am using GIMP to create a simple image stack with layers. I use image stacks for slide show type resources.

PB Wiki

I don't use peanut butter wiki actually. I prefer wikispaces.com or a mediawiki like Wikipedia - but some people like PB


Wikipedia is the be all and end all!

Videora iPod Convertor

How to use Videora to convert videos to the MPEG4 format ready for playback online or in a portable player like the iPod Movie

http://www.videora.com/en-us/Converter/iPod/ = the download page


Odeo was a pretty cool web service where you could record audio to, and upload audio to - giving you a URL for audio blogging or podcasting. Lately though they've started adding ads in front of your audio :( if only all services could be like Blip!

Audacity and LAME

The free and open source audio recorder and editor Audacity needs a little plugin before it can export files to MP3. Its a one of thing to do - but for those not used to installing software and plugins, it can be a bit tricky.. here's how.

Joe and Leigh on Unyte

Unyte is a little plugin for Skype that enables users to look at each other's screen. Known as application sharing it is a great way to communicate online.

Making hyper links

Making a hyperlink using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor.

Using Canstudio

Camstudio is a free and open source screenrecorder for Windows. I hope they bring one out for Linux soon. This is a demo of how to set up your Camstudio to record a region of the screen and to track your mouse. This is important if you are going to compress your video - rendering a full screen recording useless.

Blip.TV rocks!!

I dunno why it has taken me so long to realise. GNUChris pointed me to it a while back, they must have added a bunch of features since - or was I just a fool rushing through and didn't see the greatness of the free online video service Blip.tv!! Check my account out. Subscribe - I'm officially a Blip man now.

  • Not only is it fast to upload!! Boy its fast!
  • But it gives you back an mov to save back down to your computer
  • It cross posts your video to your Internet Archive account!
  • It cross posts the video link to your del.icio.us account based on the tags you use for the video
  • It cross posts a frame image thumbnail across to your flickr account through your flickr account's email address!

There's more - I just couldn't wait to do the shout out for them!

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Copyright constipates

William McGeveran from the University of Minnesota, and William Fisher from Harvard University have published 4 key points about copyright that are sure to constipate an entire school population!

  1. Unclear or inadequate copyright law relating to crucial provisions such as fair use and educational use;
  2. Extensive adoption of digital rights management technology to lock up content;
  3. Practical difficulties obtaining rights to use content when licenses are necessary;
  4. Undue caution by gatekeepers such as publishers or educational administrators.

There's more if you are in need of regaining a flow: The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age

Free international mobile and landline calls with Gizmo

Quite a while ago I was trying out and comparing the Internet phone services Skype, Gtalk and Gizmo. They all have their pros and cons - so I install and run all three.

While I would still recomend running all three, Gizmo has made a pretty incredible offer that we should all try out:

If you download, install, and use GizmoProject - you will be able to make calls to another user's computer, mobile or landline for free!! I have installed it and have followed the instructions. Now I await others to do the same.

Note the fine print:
Callers are encouraged to make free PC-to-PC calls whenever possible. The All Calls Free calling plan applies when both call participants are active Gizmo Project users making a few phone calls per week with Gizmo Project. Free calls may originate from anywhere in the world, but must be to a qualifying number in one of the 60 countries for which the plan is offered. Calls must be made from the caller's contact list to either the "home phone" or "mobile phone" number the call recipient included in his or her profile, and both parties must have shared each others profiles with one another. If a call does not quality as free under the All Calls Free plan, it will be subject to our regular low calling rates. As with all of our services, the All Calls Free plan is subject to the Gizmo Project terms and conditions and end-user license agreement. More information, including the qualifying country list, may be found in the All Calls Free FAQ.

Something worth remembering about Gizmo is that it also offers free conference calling and audio recording, as well as a fun intergration with Google Maps.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

testing flickrshow

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Konrad goes back to progressive discourse

Its always nice to read Konrad's reflections on blogging in his classrooms. This time he has 3 tips for teachers trying to create a learning community, the first being:

Teacher as Learner

Learning to transform my classroom practice was very difficult and I certainly don’t want to sound like someone who believes he has mastered this difficult new role of a teacher in a networked environment. I think I did well but I still have a lot to learn about what it means to be “dethroned” by a community of bloggers. It was a very difficult process and had a profound impact on my understanding of professional development. I had to learn how to learn with my students, how to become a learner and, yes, how to stop teaching. When I say stop teaching, I, of course, refer to the transmission mode of teaching. I was still teaching as a learner/participant but it was very different.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Criteria for assessing learning resources

Recently I was asked to provide criteria for assessing learning resources on offer from another organisation. In my time I have come across many such things for assessing other people's learning resources - always very complicated and hard to understand and impliment.

Below are 3 general criteria I use. They are a condensation of criteria I have worked under in past projects. Those who know will probably see that behind them are some quite complicated processes - but to start with I think this simplification is enough. It should help people come to terms with what they are looking for, without losing sight of why they are looking for it.

1. Accessibility and usability - Can these resources be easily used?
Have the resources undergone testing with students and facilitators, including those with a range of abilities, and those with a range of computer and connection settings? Are there clear and concise supporting documents such as study plans, facilitation guides, assessment guides?

2. Reusability - how customisable are the information resources?
Is the file structure simple to comprehend? Do the individual resources copy easily, including into other formats? If they are complex and interrelated resources, can they move as a whole into new systems? What are the copyright restrictions, if any?
3. Communications - What communications and feedback methods are possible? Are the inbuilt communication options (if any) accessible and usable? Is it easy to communicate into the information resources, eg. can specific points be hyperlinked to, or otherwise identified in communications? Is there, or can there be a range of communication options used to support the information?

Please, if you think I have missed something in this initial 3 step - add it as a comment below and help me improve it. Any references to similar attempts to simplify learning resource assessment criteria would be much appreciated.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Keeping kids online safe

Seb Chan points to a nice and easy 10 principles for the digital family by Liz Losh.

My fav:

10) Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

No matter how you became a parent, you chose to have children because you love them. Older teens may be embarrassed by such signs of affection, but showing your kids that you love them benefits them for a lifetime. Digital media allow for opportunities to remind your kids that you think about them every day. The occasional e-mail with a funny link or Photoshopped image, goopy instant message, out-of-the-blue care package from an online vendor, or custom designed t-shirt can create moments of celebration to supplement more traditional expressions of interest like hugs and chats with the denizens of the backseat. It shouldn't take the place of kicking around the soccer ball or making homemade chocolate chip cookies, but contemporary life can create certain kinds of distance that technology can bridge.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Living up to their name

Blackboard is certainly living up to their new nick name of the Blackweb.

Harold Jarche says it for me:
The Blackboard patent may become a defining moment for learning technologies. LetÂ’s use this as an opportunity to cast off the classroom and course metaphors..
It hurts though that no one wants to refer to my long (perhaps) broken record of saying the same thing. So if this patent awarded to Blackboard is the last straw, perhaps you'd like to look elsewhere for everything you need to teach and learn online.

Stephen gives us a round up.

I heard it first from Darcy through his Gnomes comic.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I hate PodOmatic

Sorry to everyone in my inbox who just received an email announcing a new podOmatic podcast site called leighblackall. I was setting up an account so I could access and listen to a recording that a colleague had sent me. I was annoyed that I had to set up an account just to listen to the recording and wasn't concentrating. One of the final screens had everyone in my inbox loaded below the visible screen area ready to send email to when I finished the account set up!! I realised this halfway through the next page loading and clicked stop. I doubled back and had a look at that page with emails listed and saw WAY down the bottom a button called "deselect all emails". Jeez, what a annoying thing that is, what a sneaky 2 bit service PodOmatic is for having this as a default. Now I'm dealing with hundreds, and I mean hundreds of bounced emails and people asking what's it all about.