Monday, 28 September 2009

Personal Learning Networks

Recently attended the first Scottish e-assessment conference up in Dundee. The conference itself was quite progressive, usually these conferences are full of old fashioned test theory etc. While there is nothing wrong with this, I prefer seeing how new technology enhances the learning experience.

I found John Connors talk on Convivial Learning in a Tangled World very thought provoking. He talked about how connectivism is changing our fundamental psychology ('If all team think the same then the team isnt thinking')and about new century unlearning skills. This is very interesting as the amount off crap we intake via the internet , useless information takes up space.

One of the most important points I took away from his talk was that the empahise that at the moment in the transition stage to personal learning networks a lot of onus is put onto the student to create their own learning network.

Survival of the fittest rule number 1

Friday, 28 August 2009


Well after numerous times to get interested in twitter, I finally came trumps. Twitterfall is a superb online application developed to classify and segregate the information that you require based on keywords. Students or lecturers could use this to find the most up to date information on whatever subject they wish.

For example I have listed Modern Warfare 2 as my keyword and it shows up any tweet that mentions it. This has helped to view sneak peec videos etc.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Liasing with students

This is more of a question of sort, I was wondering how many people liase with their students union, especially with regards to rolling out large central student software.I think this is something that we could do a bit better to gather a better feel of what the students are missing or want.  Or should this communication always come from the lecturer and if is the communication getting through?

For example, do you put forward your proposals to the students union and gather their feedback or do you rollout large services from the top down?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Who are we to play god?

With the advent of social networking sites, peers were able to link up relationships with others.  There was no heirarchy with regards to the relationships unless you count the people who collected others to look popular.  Now that is all and well, but what happens when a University or Company introduces these capabilities.  The lecturer if in the group now becomes the lead figure and this create heirarchy and accountability.

That gives a lot of power to the University, we now not only control and administrate the students education system, but we are now trying to control and administrate their personal information.  We can see who is more popular, who is the alpha's. Would that slip into the way academics perceive students, will the lecturer use that to their advantage?  Others might feel left out of a group if they start Uni and see that there are already groups being formed.  It is an interesting topic, and one that should be experimented with first to ensure that these details do not come to pass.

Will the uptake be as well without a heiracrhy or with?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

University e-Learning Scale

Recently a colleague attended another University to have a look at what their e-learning set-up was.  It was interesting to hear what other Universities are doing.  I thought I would spend a few minutes visualising what I think the different stages are of a Universities e-learning structure.

Have a look at it and feedback any comments changes or where you think services should be placed.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Video help for applications

We seem to be getting a lot of requests into the department for screen videos showcasing features and intrsuctional videos on how to help guide users.  I know many people use these videos for their products, and it is something worth integrating into a product development.  I just thought I would highlight this topic as we have had about three request in this week.

We personally use captivate for this as it is very user friendly and can easily add comments etc
Also the motion capture part allows for easy recording of second life.  The only downside to these things is when you are entering text on the screen as it takes ages.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Next generation web---Illuminati?

Step back in time and the world generally learnt english to communicate with each other.... well has certainly thought outside the box. Everyone thought web 3.0 would be semantic or mobile.  Babel have thrown in to the mix the ability to communicate with people in their own language.

This cool website which is in alpha, would if integrated into the web properly allow for some really powerful chat applications, for example second life and allow people to speak comfortably with each other.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Virtual Research Environments (myExperiment)

We have VLE, CMS and VRE'S.

VRE'S is a answer to a question posed by researchers... How can we collaborate more on a project between ourselves and externals. myExperiment is a joint project by the University of Southampton and the University of Manchester. I can see this being useful, sort of a ning/facebook for researchers.

They also provide a free open source version which you can install at your location institutaion and is developed on ROR.

JISC has recently provided some funding for these types of projects, so it is something to look forward to.

Though the question is do we need a seperate VRE when you could possibly convert part of an already existing Social Network to this purpose....Answers on a postcard.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Social Networking Games

Competition can be healthy....especially with regards to education.

While looking at supporting Social Networking capabilities and other programs within Institutions I wonder how much is geared towards the student. We seem to be heading to a very business like venture, forgetting that students are generally in their teens. As with health and safety spoiling alot of fun we could be to blame for that as well.

My point is that when implementing something like a social network for the classes/modules students we should bear in mind that fun also comes into play. For example if you dont know someone on your course and you give them a game of poker its one way to strike up a comradship and banter between the students.

So when your thinking of employing a social networking facility, why not drop in a few games there as well.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Using Second life to replicate real life enivronments

The Institute of Quarrying in conjunction with the University of Derby has been working on a project called the Virtual Quarry. This project has been designed to showcase the capabilities of using a virtual environment to simulate real world scenarios and without doubt the project has shown what is possible.

With the help of SME's and second life developers we were able to sit down and work out different hazards which could come into play in a real life quarry, this ranged from fawlty traffic lights, to full on torrential rain and also included things like unsafe roads and blast sites. In reality in my own opinion I did not see the second life having chance of being able to complete this as I saw Second Life as a play area for novelty, but I must admit my eyes were opened.

From what I gather what you can do in second life mainly depends on the quality of SL developers at your disposal and your own imagination.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A step back to go forward?

Its been a long time since I have posted to a blog, mainly due to circumstances cloading my judgement and thoughts.

I thought I would kick it back of with a thought on some end user tools we are piloting. The first one I will talk about is XERTE (

Now academics currently use a system called Wimba Create to create webpages etc and we are looking at other supportive tools to help with the process.


Now xerte is something familiar to myself having worked with Authorware for years I have heard of the main developer of Xerte. It to me seems to have taken some ideas from authorware and transferred them to flash. What is bothering me is that we seem to be taking a big step back in time to enclosed learning objects. This does not take into account the functionaility and flexibility of the web (hyperlinking etc). I myself find it difficult to navigate a Xerte project and find the menu structure unworkable sometimes. I dont disagree it is a useful tool to create enclosed learning objects, I am questioning though whether taking that step back in time is worthwhile for the student. Especially losing functionaility like tag clouds etc regarding importance and a whole lot of other web related features.

The problem we had with Wimba Create was the opposite of Xerte and that is that it is very difficult for academics to create quizes/flash interactions. So personally I think neither is the solution and we will have to wait for an ideal system.

So the question is do we take that step back in time to go forward.