An absolutely riveting online course

Jim Henry lists Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching. Henry starts out with the comments that many of those teaching online would far rather not be – and often don’t feel they have the expertise to do so.
The principles listed are:

  • The online world is a medium unto itself.
  • In the online world content is a verb.
  • Technology is a vehicle, not a destination.
  • Great online courses are defined by teaching, not technology.
  • Sense of community and social presence are essential to online excellence
  • Excellence requires multiple areas of expertise.
  • A great web interface will not save a poor course; but a poor web interface will destroy a potentially great course.
  • Excellence comes from ongoing assessment and refinement.
  • Sometimes the little extras go a long way.

It’s a list that many in the eLearning world would agree with – but good to see it all in the same place… (and I can’t help thinking that WebCT etc aren’t exactly brilliant at Web interfaces…)

Via Stephen Downes: (As always, his comments re worth reading)

Video lectures from the world's top scholars

Academic Earth claims to have Video lectures from the “world’s top scholars”. While, in many ways, I agree, they’ve only (at present) got those from US universities – so have eliminated all non English speakers, as well as those English speakers from, well, anywhere that’s not the US!
The computer science strand has 13 sets that are lecture series, so could be useful.
Via: FreeTechnology4teachers.


Someone called “Debategraph” started following me on Twitter, so I thought I’d investigate a little. I’ve now found his (or her!) home page.
It’s an interesting idea – seems to be related mind maps. The default one was on Obama (with a link to the Independent – wonder if they use them quite a bit) – however, from there I was able to get (via the “Related Maps” link) to The use of Technology in Education. That seemed initially promising, though a little empty at the moment. Whether I can add to it, or whether it’s just the original author, I’m not sure; but I do like the concept.

When I registered, the site wouldn’t let me enter my blog’s home page … told me it wasn’t a valid URL. Huh?! Seems to work fine for everyone else!

Embedded from “Debategraph
(Weird: I copied the “embed” code for the Technology map, but this seems to be the “Educational Policy one” You might have to click the “Technology” link)

Off to China

I am in the process of getting ready for my trip to the China Agricultural University in Beijing, where I will be teaching some students who are on computing courses there – and hoping to come to the UK next year.

I am not quite sure what to expect!

eLearning samples.

Just a couple of sites that I’ve come across in the past couple of days. Phun is a physics engine. It has to be downloaded & installed. From what I can tell, it saves in its own format.
It seems much more powerful than the physics engine for the Tablet PC, though probably more complex to use.
From what I can tell, it’s not possible to save as anything other than the native format, so you’d have to use a video capture tool to share with people who’ve not got it.
is a very different site. To start with, it’s all on the site, there’s no downloading. It’s also designed for non-readers. As such, it’s one of the best designed sites I’ve seen, as there’s no text on there. Once you realise you have to click on things to get something to happen, well, just about every thing is clickable. I suspect some of the tasks are going to be a bit hard for the average 3 year old (e.g. some of the drag & drop), but there’s more than enough that is easily do-able. And, not having access to too many 3 year olds, they might well be better on the mouse than I am. It’s a great example of Flash!