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!

Teaching and Learning With Twitter

Jennifer has made some very valid points following the TLt Summit 2008

In particular:

  • It is time to toss out the “blog, wiki, podcast” mantra. This is bigger than tools isolated for singular purpose. If we keep pushing the tools into categories, new users will continue to only use the tools for those purposes. We should be twisting, stretching and breaking these tools, not neatly packaging content with them.
  • and

  • A wiki is no place to start an intentional, sustainable community. I’ve always said this to my internal customers, but it has been based on my use of them. I’ve now heard many many people describe how the wiki did not work for creating a sustainable network. Let’s let it go, move on and get more creative with our wiki use.

I’d definitely agree with the point about wikis, that they aren’t that useful for community building; but that’s not to say they’re not useful. While I agree to a point about the “blogs/wikis/podcasts” point she makes, I do think that they do offer some form of structure to help people get going; yes, we can be creative with them, but some (?many) people need some ideas to help them get going. What’s probably useful is the range of ideas that can be shown to work with a particular tool (just as today most Powerpoint trainers encourage their users not to use bullet points & noisy text effects; but to look at all the other ways it can be used).

Jennifer also made a point about Twitter being in heavy use. I’ve decided to revitalise my account (can’t promise that I’ll use it for anything other than reading other people’s things mind), but I guess I ought to try to get into it. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never really taken to text messaging in a big way, that it doesn’t feel really “me” – nor do I use the status updates on Facebook. One of the reasons I don’t like Twitter is the fact I can’t subdivide contacts into smaller groups to send targetted messages, however, this blog doesn’t let me do that – and with RSS feeds people are getting the information whether they like it or not. It’s not as if the only way folks can read this is to come here.

I recently read a paper about people who read, rather than keep blogs. Wonder if anyone’s done any research into people who have a twitter a/c to follow others, rather than to be followed themselves. Is this stalking?

Via: Stephen Downes


Had you asked me about half an hour ago what a “Pubcast” was, I’d have thought it was a blurry YouTube video recorded down at the Dog & Duck.
However, I’ve just found SciVee, which Stephen Downes and Jane Hart describe as a useful resource for Scientists. It is, but what I think is more useful is the way that they’ve combined a video, publication, references, comments, tags etc., into the “Pubcast”.
I’ve been watching Multipolar Representation of Protein Structure (not sure that I really understand it), which includes links to the references where possible, figures from the paper, and even the ability to add notes.
Videos that aren’t related to a particular publication are listed as “videos”.
As with so many sites, it’s also possible to join communities, though like many other sites, most of the communities that I browsed, while some had associated pubcasts/ videos, didn’t seem to have anything in their discussion boards.

Horizon Report – 2008

The annual Horizon Report (pdf) has been published. They’ve produced a rather nice “Megatrends” diagram – looking at the main predictions from all the earlier reports (2004 – 2008).ng
I’ve skim read the current report – I think that the idea of “Social Operating Systems” will be worth watching; it seems to me to be a logical extension of where we currently are with things like Facebook; but data will be portable between systems, rather than tied to a system. They suggest that more professional information will come in, though I’d like to think that it will be possible to separate the two! I’d not really like it all tied together. I wonder how Sugar will tie into this…

Jude O’Connell has a link to a rather neat depiction of the technologies involved (and some of the people) created by Information Architects of Japan.

MIT Press Journals on Digital Media and Learning

MIT Press Journals – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. I’ve just found these, thanks to a link from Mark Oelhert’s blog. This particular section is the John & Catherine MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. I’m not sure if they have other sections that are also fully available online, however, for what I’m interested in, the books in the current list look well worth having a look at.
The only drawback that I can see is that you seem to have to download them a section at a time. (I’m also can’t see any difference between “.pdf” and “.pdf plus”).
The foundation website has more information about the foundation.

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).

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.