Monday, June 29, 2009

Stealing ideas

Mark Leggett just text the link to this image. What a beauty!

Do not worry about people stealing an idea. If it is original you'll have to ram it down their throats. Howard Aiken 1900-1975

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Students using wikis to collaborate

A colleague recently asked me for links to projects where students are using wikis to collaborate. Here's a few in the order in which they inspire me personally.

  1. Murder, Madness and Mayhem - Brian Lamb points to Jon Beasley-Murray asks his students to edit Wikipedia articles and attempt to get them to feature article status.
  2. Wikipedia's list of school and university projects - I think getting students to work out on the Wikimedia Foundation projects like Wikipedia is brave, productive, truly collaborative in an Internet sense, and wide in learning scope.
  3. A Portal to Media Literacy - Links to a video lecture by Michael Wesch talking about collaborative learning in his 1st year anthropology class
  4. Wikis in University Teaching and Learning - Video lecture by Richard Backland who uses wikis to teach at UNSW's Computer Science and Engineering

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Stencilling at Mullumbimby High School

I was doing a teacher prac back in 2002 (or was it 2001? - I can't remember), and the art department there took a risk and let me run a class on stencil graffiti. The kids were great, producing some interesting work, and later that year I heard there might have even developed a stenciling street art culture around Mullum township and Byron Bay. Last time I visited (2008) I saw no evidence of this still existing though :( Anyway, here's a video I made of the day back then.

MacArthur foundation: The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Mike Caulfield emailed last week to point out the MacArthur Foundation report. No disrespect to Mike (he's a good bloke) but I had never heard of the MacArthur Foundation and its reports before, I supposed its a big deal publication in the States?

And then George Siemens mentions the report too, this time to highlight the inadequate literature review. I loath reading PDFs that are so obviously written and formatted for print first and foremost, so it was a real struggle to find the motivation...

20 or more pages into it and I'm not familiar with anything or anyone mentioned in it, which makes me feel a little uneasy.. the general direction it suggests as the future is something I keep a watch on, it is the domain I exist in and am helping to make happen, or so I like to think anyway. Why is this report so foreign in origins?

So I was curious to see the sorts of things that informed it. I skipped ahead in search of links or references.. nothing!; notes: an interesting array of mostly journal articles; and then the clincher - collaborators: Almost entirely academics based in US universities! Not a single blogger, networked intellectual, or practitioner outside the US.

Aint that classic - what an echo chamber academia is - especially US academia. I would be more forgiving if the report was titled The Future of Learning in North American Institutions, but its written for a "global audience" with "global authority" but with VERY narrow perspective. I'd sooner accept the future of learning institutions written by the incredibly insightful Binyavanga Wainaina!

Now, to my respected networked colleagues who happen to be Americans, this is not a slight at you or your national identity, its more to point out an extremely irritating thing about American academia generally, it needs to use its resource reach back into the long tail A LOT more!

The contributors to this report are entirely people from within the (US) 'institutions' making very predictable predictions. (I thought we were agreeing that the future of institutions will come NOT from within the institutions anyway?)... Ironically, almost all the visioning this report makes about the future comes not from primary sources from throughout the 'network' they celebrate, but from their own secondary and tertiary sources of peer reviewed, print published papers. This report is proof in itself that the future they predict is in fact a future far far away from them. As George points out, they still don't know about Google search!

The American centricity it is a bit of an issue actually, especially for us here in Australia and New Zealand. Because of the over whelming outputs from the US, it is very difficult to find work that has parallels with the Australian or New Zealand experience. What is the future of networked learning in a country with more than 2/3rds of the population not connected to the Internet? I reckon America must be similar, but perhaps her institutions deal more with wealthy classes than in Australia and New Zealand...

Once again, please read Illich for a better future.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Format your video

This is the next installment for a running column in Interface magazine. Greg has me writing about video, and so far I've done an article Introducing online video as it is today and explaining what Vlogging is, and What formats to use.

How to get your video from a master format AVI, into an MP4, WMV and Ogg Theora.

If you can achieve and publish all of these 3 formats then you are a mighty fine video blogger. You will be providing your viewers with maximum access and reuse options - such as the kids at Warrington Primary who only use free software. If you don't go these extra few yards, well.. not everyone will notice (least of all the schools that only teach kids how to expensive commercial software) and you will be selling yourself short, setting a poor production standard, rendering yourself an average, careless video blogger without true regard for your viewers and remixers.. you're not that sort of person are you :)

So, are you ready set the standard!? Here is how you get your video into all 3 formats, and make them available online:
  1. Upload to
That's it! That's all you have to do. will take your video and turn it into Mp4, Ogg Theora, and even a Flash Video (FLV) and animated Gif preview just for good measure! They'll keep it there for eva, serving it day after day, year after year. Darn they're good! has been accepting anyone's media and making it available online for free since 1996. Its amazing what they have there now! (NZ Archives take notice - you too could be this great some day).

Ok, so if anyone's been paying attention you will have noticed this is not quite as I said it should be. Where's that pesky WMV? didn't create that for us did they? No they didn't. They know WMV is not a very useful format, so you'll have to create it yourself to keep your Windows people happy.

So.. if you're using Window's Movie Maker then creating a WMV is easy for you. Simply select the option for exporting WMV and upload it to and sit back and wait, you'll soon have your WMV, with an MP4 and an Ogg Theora sitting right there next to it. (Keep your AVI master to yourself for backup - it would take far too long to upload anyway).

But if you're not using Window's Movie Maker and you don't have video editing software with a WMV export option (such as iMovie or a Linux based editor like Kino) then you're in trouble. You might not be able to easily create a WMV. No matter I suppose, Windows can play the MP4 version, and for this reason you'll soon come to see that WMV is not a very useful format anyway. So just upload what you have to and be happy with the MP4, Ogg, and FLV.

There are ways to make WMV from Mac and Linux.. but that would be going beyond my word count (and know how). My main purpose today was to show you the wonderful, and to mention that if you have a account, you can upload to Blip and have Blip send a copy through to for you automatically. Its a nice little backup feature.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Bitter sweet recognition

After more than 15 years of vibrant production and wide appreciation outside the 'established' culture, its a bitter sweet kind of legitimisation to see Banksy exhibiting to the brow. Whether this flows on to become a legitimisation of street art generally - specifically stenciling, culture jamming, bugger up and empty shows remains to be seen. Perhaps it will help delay the grey paint strokes that are wiping out good quality Dunedin street art all too regularly. Highly unlikely I guess.. so we rely on the galleries protect and elevate it. Galleries exist (in part) to protect artistic expressions from the less open minded. Its just been a shame that the galleries themselves have struggled for so long to open their minds!

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Required to resubmit Ako Aoteoroa Regional Hub grant

Wow, its turning into a chunk of work to try and get this 10 grand, beginning to wonder if I should pull back. The panel that reviewed the original proposal came back with the following comments and questions - asking for a resubmit. Thankfully they have scheduled another meeting Tuesday next week to consider the resubmit. So I have a few days to try and get it right, and still time to meet the deadlines if they approve it.

The Panel's comments and questions as follows:
  • Good that it builds on previous work [with Ako - the new practices video]
  • Good for taking on board feedback and aiming to do something for the sector
  • Main concern is the need to be clear about the balance of benefits to Otago Polytechnic and the wider sector. The question here is what is the relevance of this case study to the rest of the community? Who else might be in a position to offer this model?
  • What is the motivating factor for Otago Polytechnic to do this work?
  • Costs are unclear. What for example will be the project manager role? Are the external external people being paid as analyser and writer respectively? Neither of these two people are known to anyone on the panel. It was therefore not possible to determine their ability to meet project requirements. Please provide mini CVs. What will the printing and copying costs be?
  • The focus of the user guide is not clear.
  • There appears to be a mismatch between the short time frame and the project expectations. How realistic is this?
  • The detailed methodology section indicates a whole range of data to be collected and a target audience of at least 6? [??] Is it realistic to do data collection, analysis and reporting of all these areas within the time and budget proposed?

I only wish I could be present at the meeting, and respond in person rather than attempting to write this idea (that is evidently very new to the Panel) into a template set by Ako.

I agree, time is running very short, considering I hope to present this project's findings at the Open Education conference in Vancouver. At the same time I'm aiming to submit this as a paper to IRRODL. I need to decide whether to spend more time resubmitting, or to proceed with the project without the money and forgo the hiring of research and analysis expertise.

My plan for now is to proceed with the project now, with the hope that this will give me ideas on how to more clearly articulate the proposal for Ako before Tuesday. It seems to me that Ako need a solid project plan more than a proposal (if there is a difference) so proceeding with planning will be potentially treating 2 birds with one stone.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Final Application to Ako Aoteoroa Regional Hub for analysing our open ed work

A couple of weeks ago I submitted an application to Ako Aoteoroa's Regional Hub for a small sum of money to analyses the true costs, savings and gains of our open education developments.

Here's the application as it went to them.

I realised I forgot to post an update to my initial post about the application, so here it is.

Hopefully this one will be approved, and I can get to work looking carefully through our work. I'd like to recruit expert education researchers and accountants for this - which is where teh money comes in. But its a tight deadline if I am to prepare something of worth for IRRODL by the end of July, a presentation to the OER conference by mid August, and a user guide for Ako Aoteoroa.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Redeveloping wikiversity course: Composing Educational Resouces

I've been meaning to reuse Teemu Leinonen and co's course on Wikiversity, Composing Free and Open Online Educational Resources, and rejig it for a rerun. Finally I have been able to get to that item on the to-do list.

At first I was considering editing the original course slightly - but not deviating much from the original content. I left a message on the course's discussion page, indicating my intensions.. it didn't appear as though anyone had any objections. On consideration though, I realised that I want to change the content quite a bit.

I want to move the focus away from open educational resources, and onto educational resources generally. The open access and reuse will still be a major component, in fact you could call it a given, weaving its way throughout everything.. open ed resources, is there any other way? in other words, but I also want to focus attention on the skill of searching for reusable content, managing 'libraries' of what you find, and finally how to create - or compose your own educational resources, without getting too bogged down on the intricacies of open ed.

I also want to move it more in the direction of off-line and analogue media as well, to address Internet access issues, which many people mistake as being 'developing nation' needs only.. NZ and Australia therefore are clearly developing nations then. I have some ideas on how online educational resources can be complimentary to things like community radio and news paper - including the communicative aspects of Web2.. ie talk back radio working together with podcasting..

So, I'm chipping away at this new version over on Wikieducator. Composing Educational Resources. I'm hoping to be able to offer it as an open course starting late next month... high hopes really

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Social media in business and marketing

You know, I've been wondering if my services wouldn't be appreciated more in the business sector? I think some permanence has been achieved at Otago Polytechnic in the appreciation and use of social media for education.. but now I reckon Otago businesses need a little leg up on the opportunities.

I'd be careful not to hype up the "markets are conversations" angle, because with more than 2/3rds of NZ still not connected to that conversation (probably a lot worse in Otago), that one isn't going to fly. But there is a significant opportunity for businesses involved in tourism, services, and international trade I reckon, as well as boutiques. Through using social media they would not only save on website creation and maintenance, but they'll improve the look and functionality, strengthen their online presence and findability, increase their market reach, and potentially improve their customer relations..

As far as I can tell by a Google search for "Otago social media marketing", it is me and a business called Usable who are in the position. Interesting to note that it is North American based services sitting above us, one of which is probably because I commented on a Slideshare - bringing to it the linkages to Otago. Goes to show how thin the coverage is here...

That Slideshare is a pretty good introductory reader on using social media to develop markets and business btw.. I've embedded it below. What I'm wondering is if I can develop a course or service for local Otago businesses along this vein? Is there, or will there be a demand for such knowledge and skills? Check out the 5th paragraph in the introduction where he describes the gains he made in his boutique tourism business:

  • Slashed my marketing budget by over 80%
  • Fired my publicist and her expensive monthly retainer
  • Increased subscriptions to my monthly news letter by 50%
  • Almost tripled my revenues
  • Increased my profits by 500%

Surely those claims would catch the attention of local Otago tourism businesses? But how might I go about getting their attention and selling my services to them I wonder? Especially when social media is not a big deal in the local scene... I'm angling to a local market, so I might have to employ local means to start off...

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Facilitating Online Communities course starts 27 July

Just a quick note to say that the Facilitating Online Communities course lives! It will run again starting 27 July 2009 and is once again freely open access. If you would like to participate in this course, visit the course wiki, subscribe to the course blog, and join the email forum (set to announcement only for the time being).. then get ready for a mighty learning experience.

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