• e-learning,  web 2.0

    Last.uni

    I’m a big fan of LastFM, and whenever I find some technology I like, I think ‘what would this be like in education?’. Let’s play the technology determinist game for a while, and imagine what would education (or even just a course) be like if it was built around something like Last.fm, would it be a Last.uni? Here’s how it might work. Imagine educators don’t create courses or give lectures but they create loads of resources: podcasts, articles, blog postings, animations, video clips, etc. Last.uni draws on all the databases where these resources are stored. In your Last.uni player you enter a subject you are interested in, lets say it’s…

  • e-learning,  web 2.0

    Web 2.0 course designs

    I did a presentation yesterday to a group at the OU looking at new models of course design (the feeling is that what can be termed OU Classic is not a flexible enough model to meet all of our needs). I suggested 5 models: The self-updating course – the course designer creates general activities, for example ‘Analyse three of the resources below using X’s theory…’ The resources come from RSS feeds, user tagged content, etc. So the actual resources are unknown at the time of writing, but if the feeds are reliable they will be current when the student studies. The content-lite course – content produced by the course designer…

  • Books

    Why write books?

    I reflected on being a blogger recently, and one might ask yourself, why blog? Chuck Olsen’s blogumentary gives some pretty good reasons. Having just had my second book come out, perhaps the question  now is why write a book? After all, it takes ages, it’s out of date before it’s printed, it exists largely in isolation compared with all the blogs, wikis, social software. And so on. Here are some possible reasons: i) Money – you’re joking, right? Maybe for the Dan Browns of the world, but the return on investment for most academic books operates somewhere between 1/10th and roughly equal to minimum wage. I remember doing some consultancy…

  • Books,  VLE

    My book is (finally) out

    With definitely more of a whimper than a bang, my book Virtual Learning Environments, was published by Routledge last week. I’d contacted them the week before and asked ‘when is it coming out?’ ‘Next week’ was the response. Anyway, it was good to receive the advance copies last week, although I made the mistake of reading it and immediately finding a second book of omissions, changes, changes of mind, etc lurking beneath the surface of this one. Perhaps I’ll write a post on things I should have covered in a few months time. The book is aimed at a range of users – anyone involved in e-learing basically. It will…

  • e-learning,  PLE,  VLE,  web 2.0

    Stringle implications

    The last in this trilogy of posts… Several things occurred to me when playing with Stringle yesterday. I’ll try to elucidate them here: Course design – increasingly I feel that writing course resources is a redundant activity. I think course design will move towards creating activities around as yet unknown content. For instance, we added in a feed for any content that is tagged elearning and evolution. Now it’s a reasonable bet that this will contain some decent (and not so decent material). But it helps future-proof the course. I don’t think you could quite rely on such resources but the ratio of educator derived material to external resources is…

  • PLE,  web 2.0

    Stringle 2.0

    Having shown you Stringle, I thought it’d be interesting to think what else it would need to be a usable tool. Here’s my thoughts: Tools – A good range of tools that users can select from. Tony’s working on this, so you should have a range to select from and can simply drag them into your toolset and give them a label (thus avoiding all that del.icio.us and URL stuff). Easy way of adding new tool – if you come across a tool then you want to be able to add it simply by clicking a button. If we were providing students with a university social bookmarking tool, then this…

  • PLE,  web 2.0

    Stringle – almost a web 2.0 PLE?

    Tony Hirst visited me yesterday in Cardiff and we spent the day going through his String n Glue VLE (Stringle). I’ll split up my posts on this, so in this one I’ll do a quick users guide, then I’ll look at what else it needs in another post, and finally some thoughts. Before we get stuck in I ought to just say that there is a bit of clunkiness about this, and the immediate reaction might be ‘most students are not going to do this.’ Which is true, but a lot of this clunkiness could be removed with a bit of resource and programming (e.g. creating a button that automatically…

  • Weblogs

    My own blogging milestone

    This is my 100th post, which I think means I can now officially call myself a blogger. I tried unsuccessfully to keep a blog several times before, so thought I’d reflect on why I had managed it this time. This is emphatically not a ‘guide to becoming a blogger’ since I don’t think one person can tell someone else how to do that. Just my thoughts on my experience: Firstly, I narrowed the focus. Previously I had tried to be a blogger for all people, but I found it necessary to have a specific subject area, in my case educational technology and e-learning. With this acting as a spine I…

  • Dad,  Games

    My own leisure snobbery

    Over the weekend I was forced to confront my own snobbery about what is a good use of leisure time. As I mentioned, we have a Nintendo Wii, and given the adverse weather at the weekend (overseas readers – it snowed in the UK, causing national hysteria), we stayed in quite a bit. My daughter played with the Wii for a while, and then I asked her to stop and switch to board games (which she did happily enough). It made me think about why I have a mental equation which goes something like ‘computer games = mildly bad, board games = good’. Why did I feel that the computer…

  • Learning Design,  RSS,  web 2.0

    RSS as universal acid – revisited

    I blogged before about RSS becoming the universal acid or lingua franca of web 2.0. Yahoo have just released the beta of their pipes, which is a way of remixing feeds and creating mash-ups without getting too dirty in the programming. With his talent for understatement Tim O’Reilly says it is "a milestone in the history of the internet." Tony Hirst has had a go creating a pipe for the openlearn content, and seems to like using them. I’m not quite as convinced that they are a) as easy to use as people think (what techies think is easy is not the same as the rest of us) and b)…

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