• e-learning,  web 2.0

    What does HE provide exactly?

    A few people (e.g. weblogg-ed) have blogged about the following demo of Zoho Notebook (which isn’t released yet) It does look very good and one can immediately see all sorts of possibilities for it in education, with students sharing and collaborating on content. What it made me think was, as I posted a few days ago, increasingly I wonder why we bother to develop technologies in higher education. None of the stuff we develop is ever as agile, cool, usable or useful as this wealth of free commercial software out there now. Imagine you were employed to find the technology that would have the most significant impact on education in…

  • VLE

    Is which VLE even the question to ask?

    I’ve been up in Inverness as part of a panel looking at UHI’s VLE strategy for the past couple of days (I write this while delayed at Edinburgh airport – not the best place to spend your Friday night). A few things about the rather intense two day process – the first was how much it mirrored the debates we had gone through at the OU. You find yourself continually oscillating between options, which demonstrates that it is a hard decision. The second issue was the tension between what is needed or good now, and what is the better long term, strategic option. The third is the manner in which…

  • e-learning,  web 2.0

    web 2.0 workshop

    I ran a workshop for the e-learning community at the OU today. It went quite well, I had two activities, one of which got people to consider their current practice and how they might add some 2.0 to it, and another which got them to look at some web 2.0 applications and think about how they might be used in a course. Anyway, the powerpoint is on slideshare, and embedded below. If you’ve looked at any of my other web 2.0 presentations, you’ll see that it’s not dissimiliar. I used to feel bad about this, but actually each one changes slightly, so the presentation evolves over time. Having been schooled…

  • Asides,  Books

    Get beyond the title James

    Rather an off topic post, so look away now if you wish: Listening to Oliver James (a TV psychologist in the UK) promoting his new book on 5Live in the car yesterday I had one of those ‘I’m shouting at the radio’ moments. James asserted that although Dawkins’ Selfish Gene was published in 1976, it was probably not until the greedy eighties that it became popular as it was used to justify self-interest. Huh? Dawkins book is (partly) an attempt to explain how altruism occurs within the process of natural selection. Indeed in his analysis of game theory he sets out how selfish behaviour works to the detriment of society…

  • patents,  VLE

    BB patent reexamination – all good news?

    As you’ll probably have seen elsewhere, the Blackboard patent is being re-examined, the prior art raising serious concerns (never!). While this has generally met as a welcome development (it would be more worrying if it wasn’t being reexamined), a cynical part of me thinks that it may not be the victory it seems. These reexaminations can take two years, during which time the patent hangs in limbo. Perhaps this was BB’s intention all the time – it isn’t about actually getting the patent, it is a means of undermining competitors while making yourself look dominant. If you were an institution choosing a VLE now, the threat of the patent might…

  • VLE

    SOA at SUNY

    A JISC interview with Patrick Masson, (via EdTechPost) formerly of State University of New York, who implemented a service oriented architecture, based around a mixture of LAMS, uPortal, Sakai and their own tools. He is honest about some of the difficulties, but still remains convinced about the need for a SOA solution for VLEs. A few things from my perspective – firstly SUNY is a case study I use in my book, but this section would now obviously benefit from this kind of material. So once again one is faced with the time lag between writing something and it being published – the book is out in March and there…

  • Learning Design

    The dilemma at the heart of learning design

    I’ve been up in Birmingham for a couple of days at a workshop for the JISC D4L projects (I’m the director on the D4LD project). The two pedagogic planner projects generated quite a bit of interest. I know about IOE’s planner, so went to the session on Oxford’s Phoebe. This is a wiki-based resource that helps users with two main pathways in – ‘I want to do activity X’ and ‘I want to use technology Y’. This multiple perspective is essential I think in any design tool – I’d probably add in ‘I need resources on Z’. It’s a good resource, but as they recognise not something that is really…

  • VLE

    A Google Desktopesque VLE?

    Okay, this is probably so obvious that everyone has already thought of it, but bear with me – Now I’ve gone over to Google Desktop (read ‘the dark side’ for some), I thought ‘why can’t my VLE be like this?’ Ie. a light client with dynamic panels that is always running. Just for starters here are the sections I’d have: Forum postings – any postings to forums I’d subscribed to (or been subscribed to automatically given my student role). Current content – links to the content that I am supposed to be working on. Especially if that content is wrapped in RSS or something similar so it can update dynamically.…

  • Football,  VLE,  web 2.0,  Web/Tech

    The irrationality of preference

    Having posted about Google desktop and Netvibes it made me consider why Netvibes is my preferred personal portal. There are many others available and while I could come up with a justification for Netvibes over Pageflakes, say, it would all be a bit post hoc. In a recent survey on VLE use in universities the OECD pointed out that "there was little to choose between different systems. The past seven years of intensive LMS development and adoption in tertiary education have seen considerable system convergence…. Some respondents asserted that a particular system was the “only genuine” enterprise LMS, or “by far the easiest” to use, but it was difficult to…

  • portal,  web 2.0,  Web/Tech

    Google Desktop vs Netvibes

    I installed Google Desktop a few months back, but didn’t really do anything with it, mainly because I was viewing it as it is billed – a desktop search tool. Probably because I’m quite linear in the way I work (I’m male – I don’t do multi-tasking), a desktop search tool isn’t something I really need a lot. Sure I need to find online resources, but then I use normal Google, or search journal databases (if Google could sort out the federated search across multiple database problem, that would be useful). But now I have my new laptop (a Vaio – why did it take PC manufacturers so long to…

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