Monday, December 18, 2006

Time to update your subscription to this feed

Sorry about this, but I'm moving off Blogger and onto Wordpress. New location is and the feed URL is

Hope you'll stay with me :)

Freedom and Flexibility with Web2 data

a look at how to pull a heap of data out of a Blogger blog and into a wordpress blog. Same concept applied to pulling from the Bloglines reader and into the Google reader

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Second Life is starting to grab me

I've kinda sat on the fence with Second Life. But really, there's no arguement about it. SL is an intensly engaging and inspiring space to be working in. Ever since the Future of Learning in a Networked World and talking more with Jo Kay and Sean FitzGerald I can see it more clearly.

With surprisingly little effort, IT here opened the communication port to allow access into SecondLife. Gotta hand it to the IT crew here at Otago Poly, for all my moaning about the profession generally (mostly legacy attitude from a gestapo like IT department in NSW DET), they have mostly been very responsive in taking off filters, allowing me to install software and try out things like Second Life.

Anyway, today I pulled a group of Occupational Therapy lecturers and others, to meet and watch as I met Jo in Second Life. In an intense hour of moving around, riding a balloon, visiting Harvard Law's SL school, and a Medical Library, not to mention bringing up a heap of Youtube videos, related websites, wikis and blogs, I think the group began to see how all this stuff can tie in together. (Links follow)

But, the usual overwhelmed feeling still pervades - that I fear will paralise anyone from moving into trialing out new practices with this teachnology. I'm ready, give me a project, I'd like to get iinto this I think...

Great links:
Jo Kay's BlogHud - where she is intergrating Blogging in with SecondLife
Jo Kay's Flickr photos - a bunch of screengrabs from Jo's SL experiences
SAE in Second Life - an excellent wiki page by Sean and Jo to support their presentations about edu use of SL
NMC Campus: Seriously Engaging - Youtube vid
Second Life Medical Library - an amazing range of information in a virtual library!
A Masters in Digital Media course blog - that also has a campus in Second Life
Cyber One - Harvard Law course that has a blog, wiki and Second Life campus

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

Moment of truth - when the free stuff lets you down

As many no doubt already know, Blogger is upgrading (catching up) with better web2 like features. But somewhere along the way they have stuffed up. I have just now tried to help 2 lecturers get started with blogging - now I'm certain that they will never blog again!

The problem is that we can't successfully get Blogger to hold a new username. We go in, we set up, we create new posts, all is looking good - so we sign out and then can't get in again. Google is in there claiming ownership over the username and asking us to sign in there instead - which just confuses the hell out of those poor newbies. BTW, I'm also experiencing trouble with Bloglines too - just to rub salt into the wound. Bloglines isn't adding new feeds to new accounts :( I suspect it is the computers here... but I can still get in to my old accounts, but not the new accounts! Blogger's help is no help, and they certainly aren't being up front about it in their blog either... could it be something in the way we are set up here?... either way, blogger beta is not rolling out smoothly, reminds me of a recent Blackboard upgrade just 10 yards from my key board a couple of months ago... So the moment of truth has arrived. After 2 years of using bloglines and blogger without a single issue - here it is.

About now is when all the IT people jump in and say, "see! I told you so! Its better to have control" and about now I would be closer than any other time to say, "yep! I agree with you Roger!" But no! the moment of truth is here, and it is now that I must drop back to first gear and employ that network flexibility I've been talking about.

To my mind, the free, web based and externally maintained services like blogger and bloglines are still better than what might cost you between US$200 and US$35 000 per year if you start including part of the salary you pay someone to maintain your internal servers. So if I had something up my sleeve when the issues with Blogger become so noticable - we could have jumped out of Blogger and Bloglines all together and used one of the many other free blogging and feed reading services available. I could start using my to blog with, or my Flickr, or Multiply...

But that doesn't solve the problem of total newbies trying to get started. In the past, Blogger and Bloglines offered a reliable and easy service. Now that ivory tower has come crashing down and we are back to where we began. Either Blogger will regain some composure in about 10 hours, or I'm outa there and onto a whole other platform. In the meantime, IT can have their 12 - 24 months response time and try and get an internal blogging system up at no charge.

What a shame though. Right there was the making of two fantastic educational bloggers. Now, I'm sure they'll never blog again. I couldn't fix it in the time we had! They gave up trying after about 1 hour - or when I could say that I was at a loss :(

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cormac Lawler - Wikiversity

I had a very interesting phone conversation with Cormac Lawler today. Cormac is an experienced user, researcher and collaborative coordinator of wikiversity. In it we talked about the history of wikiversity, the possible structure and uses for it, some issues and considerations, and future developments.

Audio is in ogg, goes for 1hour and is 7.9megs.
VLC media player plays ogg files.
Conversation was had and recorded using Gizmo Project.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Students struggle with information literacy

EdNA's Recent Items RSS pointed to an article in eSchool News that references a interesting results from a study of high school and college student's information literacy. Unfortunately I couldn't get a link to the actual published results as eSchool News wanted me to register before reading the rest of the article.. no wonder bloggers kick linkless journalists. I did manage to grab this though:

The report comes from an evaluation of the responses of 6,300 students from 63 institutions around the country to ETS's new ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Literacy Assessment. Students were given scenario-based items that were presented to them in 75-minute test environments. These information literacy tests included extracting information from a database, developing a spreadsheet, or composing eMail summaries of research findings.

The tests are meant to measure students' abilities to overcome three challenges they typically have:

"The ability to identify trustworthy and useful information;

"The ability to manage overabundant information; and

"The ability to communicate information effectively

The study found that 52 percent of those tested could correctly judge the objectivity of a web site, and 65 percent could correctly judge that web site's authoritativeness. But only 40 percent of students entered multiple search terms when researching a topic, and only 44 percent properly identified a statement that captured the demands of the assignment.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wikiversity - Creating a course page

Creating a course page in wikiversity

1. Starting with your preferred basis for learning outcomes - such as National Learning Outcomes and Units of Competency - I like to use these standards as a starting point for creatinga Wikiversity page. I am starting with Peter Shanks progam which draws data from the Australian National Training Information Service, data out of their PDFs and RTF documents and representing it in more useful HTML and even

2. After locating the Unit Standard description, or the learning outcomes... I now go to Wikiversity to copy them across.

3. I did a search for the topic in Wikiversity and no entry close enough turned up. So I click the link asking if I would like to create this page.

4. Pasting what I have copied, one title at a time. Being sure to place single equals around main titles (=main title=) and double equals around subtitles (==subtitle==) and so on.

5. This has created now a contents table that links to the titles and subtitles in the page. Once the structure is in place - based on the Unit standard or agreed learning outcomes, its now a matter of entering content - which could be done with students during study times, or before the class or course starts.

Wikiversity - creating an account and profile

Creating a Wikiversity account and editing your profile

Text and image version for print below:

1. Go to and click your prefered language. In this example we use English.

2. In the top right of the site you will see a link to login or create and account. Click that link

4. If you have already created an account you can login here. If not then click the "create an account" link just about the login fields.

5. When creating a new account, be sure to answer the math problem as this helps Wikiversity determin that you are not a program designed to automatically create accounts for advertising purposes etc. Then proceed through the next fields for user name and password. Email is optional.

6. Depending on your browser, you will be asked if you would like to have your password remembered. It is generally best practice to say no to this question as there are programs designed to retrieve saved passwords from other peoples computers. This is especially the case for Internet Explorer uses.

7. Now that you are logged in, the top right of the site has links to your account settings. Click the link that is your user name.

9. This is where you add your details to create a profile for yourself. Click edit to add details.

10. Type in your details. Add single equal signs either side of words you want for main headings (=heading=) , double equal signs either side of words that you want to be sub headings (==subheading==). Single square bracketts make hyper links with the link first, then a space, then the words you wish to hypertext [ hypertext]. When finsihed, click save below the edit box

11. Note that the saved version now has your headings and subheading listed in a content box. Those content items go to anchored headings throughout the rest of the page.

In the next screencast I will show how to add an image to wikiversity pages.