• e-learning

    Heisenberg, FLOSS and education transfer

    Another thing I have been pondering as a result of the Thessaloniki meeting of the FLOSScom project is the extent to which the informal learning that takes place in FLOSS communities is mutually exclusive with the demands of formal education. The assumption is that a good deal of learning takes place in FLOSS communities, and often it is the type of situated, social type learning many of us in higher education would love to develop in our practise. Let us take a small example – one of the partners talked about a course where they had exposed computer students to FLOSS projects. They talked about some of the difficulties of…

  • e-learning

    Principles of FLOSS and education transfer

    I’ve been in Thessaloniki for a couple of days, at a meeting of the FLOSScom project. The project is looking at the principles of open source communities and whether any of these can be found or transferred to education. Rudiger Glott from Merit gave a good overview of FLOSS communities, based on a survey they have conducted. The key question to me is whether some of these characteristics are fundamental to the success of FLOSS communities, or whether they are incidental. Here are some of the significant characteristics as I see them: i) The communities are constituted mainly from young men – at around 2% the proportion of women in…

  • e-learning

    Internet trends influencing education

    I’m working on a report for the broadcast strategy group currently, with a focus on how broadcast (and whatever that means now) influences pedagogy. I tried to identify a number of internet-related trends that I thought would/are having an influence on education. Note these are restricted to technology type trends, there will be other cultural issues which might have a bigger impact (e.g. top up fees, the student as customer approach). I thought I’d share them anyway: The Long Tail – the idea that the internet allows access to small numbers of users to a wide range of content, so for example Amazon’s sales are mostly from lots of small…

  • web 2.0

    Web 2.0 resources on Slideshare

    In a medium is the message sort of example –  Brian Kelly has gathered together some good web 2.0 presentations on Slideshare (Scott Wilson’s one was particularly insightful I thought). Thanks to Tony Hirst for sending me this.

  • VLE

    The university monopoly and my barcelona talk

    Rather late in the day, here is my Powerpoint file from the keynote at Barcelona. I’m putting the file up here as Slideshare struggles with the animation and some slide transitions. Incidentally the animation was created using Pivot – it took me an embarrassingly long time to create something so basic. The talk went well, afterwards Stephen Downes asked a question about what would happen if universities lost their accreditation monopoly. I suggested the analogy of newspapers (mainly because I was reading Michael Frayn’s excellent Towards the End of Morning) and I said it would make higher education a less pleasant place to work in, since the margins become so…

  • e-learning

    Bottom-up quality metrics

    I’m at the EDEN research workshop in Barcelona at the moment, where I’m giving a keynote (on VLEs you won’t be surprised to hear). In the sessions so far the issue of quality has come up a lot. Without intending to I have rather found myself cast in the role of sceptic for the formal, hierarchical models such as benchmarking and advocate for a more bottom-up web 2.0 approach. In this world quality is measured by a number of emergent metrics – for example the popularity of a resource, the number of times it is referenced or quoted, the number of times it is linked to, and for dynamic resources…

  • Books

    The tricky issue of book covers

    I have been asked by my publisher for some suggestions for images for my VLE book. I really struggle with this because a) I’m not a very visual kind of person and b) the IT/Educational Technology area doesn’t really lend itself to photographs very easily. I wrote a piece for the Times Higher once and they sent a photographer to my house to take a picture to accompany the piece. He was very disappointed when he turned up. ‘Do you have a bank of computers?’ he asked hopefully. I shook my head, indicating my sole laptop. We tried various poses – me grinning over the top of the screen, me…

  • Web/Tech

    One day matters

    I posted an entry at the HistoryMatters site today which is trying to record one normal day in history (today), by creating a mass blog. I’ve always been a fan of those books that record the minutiae of life, over one day (e.g. Nicholson Baker’s Mezzanine, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Ian McEwan’s Saturday), so I like the idea of this social history of just an ordinary day. I think my entry ended up with too many big points, and not enough of the mundane (what did I have for breakfast?* What clothes am I wearing? Who did I talk to?, What was on the radio?). It’ll be interesting to review…

  • e-learning,  Open content

    OpenLearn launch – a mild regret

    The OpenLearn project was launched internally today – the official launch is October 25th. It looks very impressive, particularly when you know the problems of taking legacy material and getting it in suitable chunks and up online. I also think they’ve done some good things with the tools in the labspace area (I like the non-client based messenger particularly – I always wanted a tool like this where I could join in an informal real-time chat around a piece of content). I was part of the team that worked on the bid last year to the Hewlett Foundation to get the project. In January I had a choice – either…

  • e-learning

    Web 2.0 presentation

    I gave a presentation with Patrick McAndrew today to IET Committee on the implications of web 2.0 for higher education. Apart from all the fun technologies, one of the key principles to me is that of openness and a letting go of control. I think the instinct of many of us in higher education is to try and control the student experience. This may come from good intentions relating to ensuring quality, promoting a caring environment, getting students to understand the key concepts and gain the key skills, etc., but I think it becomes a habit, a default action. It doesn’t sit well in a web 2.0 world and I…