10 Semantic Apps to Watch

Richard McManus has posted a list of 10 Semantic Apps to Watch. They’re just about all new to me; the only one I’ve heard of is Talis; and I’m not sure even that really counts, as I merely thought of it as “something the library have”.
The “bottom up” aspects are interesting; particularly the “Annotate the Web” and “Academic”. I’m not quite sure which of the tools he mentions fit into either of those categories.
A few other apps have been mentioned in the comments – some of which I have heard of; and even, in the case of Quintura used.

Evaluating E-Learning

Graham Attwell has posted a report he wrote covering the evaluation of eLearning. It was a project that ran from 2002 – 2005. (It’s worth keeping those dates in mind when looking at the comments on
Stephen Downes’ site).
I’ve not read it totally yet, though from what I’ve seen so far, it’s probably more aimed at evaluating an eLearning course, rather than a bit of eLearning to be used to support a face to face course (e.g. the sort of software my students are designing). I’m also quite keen to see how the ideas fit into, say SecondLife, or a highly discursive type course (rather than one that has lots of Flash/ video / etc based resources).

There's No Money In The Long Tail of the Blogosphere

Alex Iskold (Readwrite web) looks at people in the “Long tail”, primarily from a financial point of view. He makes several useful points; that those that join the blogosphere (much the same as Second Life, or any real life community) often have to work much harder to gain the same respect/ money/ whatever, than those who were there at the outset.
There are some useful comments – some have commented that not everyone starts to blog purely to make money. Quite possibly it’s the minority. Others have commented that minority interests (e.g Educational Bloggers) have a much smaller community base. So though they’re still in the “long tail”, it’s not nearly such a mammoth beast.

Facebook – terms of usage.

Facebook have just altered some of their terms of use. I’m not sure what’s changed, and I’ve not read them all. I’ve just skim read the first couple of sections:

Membership in the Service is void where prohibited. This Site is intended solely for users who are thirteen (13) years of age or older, and users of the Site under 18 who are currently in high school or college. Any registration by, use of or access to the Site by anyone under 13, or by anyone who is under 18 and not in high school or college, is unauthorized, unlicensed and in violation of these Terms of Use. By using the Service or the Site, you represent and warrant that you are 13 or older and in high school or college, or else that you are 18 or older, and that you agree to and to abide by all of the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

So, what happens if, at 13 you were in school, so eligible to join, then left school at 16. Do you have to leave Facebook for two years?

I’m also wondering how forbidding people from:

  • upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available content that would constitute, encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense, violate the rights of any party, or that would otherwise create liability or violate any local, state, national or international law;

Fits with the current level of complaints about the fact that purchases on external sites can be displayed to one’s friends. Does someone have the right (or not) to keep secret things they’ve bought? Granted, it is possible to not notify friends, but it’s not particularly easy.

Online Office tools.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been experimenting with a number of online office tools. I tend to use Google Docs the most, not that I particularly think that it’s the best, more that others I know use it, and they want to share things. It’s also just introduced a search feature, which could be useful; as I’m getting an increasing number of docs in there.

This morning’s BBC Click mentioned BuzzWord – so I’ve checked that out. I like what I’ve seen so far. It’s Flash based, (others often seem to be ajax based). One initial drawback is that it’s US based, so @ and ” swap places, the £ gives a # … and so on. Other than that, it seems to be quite flexible; it’s got a good clear commenting feature – much more like Word’s than I’ve seen in other tools. It allows saving in .doc, .rtf and Word 2003 XML, though not Word 2007 specific formats, and will allow the import of files in those formats. Sharing seems to be fairly straight forward, though I’ve not yet tried it for real. The reviewer mentioned that it didn’t seem to be possible to cut and paste from other documents. It’s rather odd. This morning, I was able to cut and paste from a web page; this afternoon, it won’t let me cut and paste either from a word doc, or a web page. It’s a shame, because I think that it’s got a lot of power otherwise. However, it is still in beta, and one I think worth keeping abreast of. (And it looks cool!)

I’m quite a fan of Zoho; which I’ve found to have an impressive range of file types. (Word Processing, Spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, wiki, project planning etc. ) Some of my students have complained that it can be quite slow, though I’ve not found that when I’ve been using it.

Others I’ve played with in the past include ThinkFree, (though both this time, and the last time I have tried to use it, it’s let me login, but then gives me a permission denied error if I try to do see “My Office”) and AjaxWrite. I’ve vague memories of some others, but can’t remember what they were called. That, I suspect, indicates that they weren’t that good, or at least, they didn’t do anything that others I was playing with at the time, didn’t do.

Related, but not quite the same, I’ve recently been reminded of Scribd – as a way of sharing documents – much as slideshare does, but rather more formats and ways of viewing.

The New Web Literacy

The New Web Literacy Notes from a presentation by Dave Millard at Southampton. I was invited to this (and to the others they’ve had this term, but I teach on Wednesdays & can’t get from Portsmouth to Southampton in 5 minutes!)

He raises some useful points about using Web based tools – both the traditional monolithic VLE and the more flexible PLE. I tend, whenever I can, to favour the more flexible (after all, as a student, no-one told me that I had to keep notes in a hardback A5 notebook or whatever. I chose to keep them in the way that suited me best).  Obviously, a totally open type of PLE can lead to difficulties for some students. Not all are comfortable with all tools; not all like to use them all.

We have a VLE at Portsmouth – and part of my role as faculty eLearning co-ordinator is to get staff to use it. However, I don’t see it as a be all and end all. There are other, supporting tools available. It doesn’t mean going to Facebook – but it may well involve looking at the skills students develop through using Facebook etc. (often without realising they are IT skills), and how those skills can be used to support learning individually / as a group. It will, however, be interesting to see how tools like Newport’s Facebook application, and the one that Cambridge are developing are taken up by students. My feeling is that it won’t be a particularly large number, but it will be some, and those few may well use it enthusiastically. Thus, as long as it’s not taking too much developer time, probably worth maintaining. But not enforcing.

Something like Elgg – which I like a lot I’d see as a starting point – for many students it may well also be an end point. Others, however, will want to add to it, using a range of sites – possibly ending up with no elements of Elgg.

Usage over time of "new toys"

A very useful diagram, that I can’t actually track down the original creator of this, as Wisdump seems to have gone off line.

It demonstrates nicely some of the features that were discussed in the recent Poke 1.0 Symposium. Facebook is at the meteroic growth rise – how much is viral spread and how much the profile it has in the press, I’m not quite sure; no doubt a bit of both.

There’s also a very similar one specifically for twitter – also at the meteoric growth stage.  (“Cogdogblog” attributed the design to Kathy Sierra.)

Just one ID?

OpenID crops up quite often in the blogosphere. While I can see the point to a certain degree, there are also issues of merging upmteen accounts into one. Stephen Downes is a strong advocate, though I can see the points that Langhoff raises in the comments regarding security (particularly after the news of the loss of two crucial discs in the UK, and issues surrounding data in Facebook BBC and The Independent). Now, it seems that the idea of a Universal avatar is being worked on by IBM and Linden Labs.