Blackboard conference – Cato or Cicero?

    I’ve been invited to give a keynote at the Blackboard user’s conference at Durham on December 14th. I accepted, which might stink of hypocrisy, given what I said in a previous post about boycotting any conference sponsored by BB. However, two things persuaded me – one was that it is the user’s conference organised by BB users in the UK, and not sponsored by BB, and the second was that I stated I wanted to talk about the patent and open source options, and the organiser was happy for me to do so. He mentioned that many of the BB users were unhappy with the patent too (which is obvious…

  • Web/Tech

    Computer Voodoo

    I got a new Toshiba laptop a couple of months ago. I suppose I should have learnt by now, but I thought maybe computer technology would be more reliable than in the days of my PhD when my PC case was never screwed down because taking it apart was such a regular occurrence. The battery packed up after a month and then last week it started freezing on start-up. When I tried it in safe mode it seemed to get stuck at mup.sys. It seems I’m not the only one with this problem. The suggested problem seems to vary from a window service pack 2 upgrade, CMOS problem, virus or…

  • 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…