Monday, December 26, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
It appears the iGeneration course utilizes the iLecture system, "an enterprise media capture, publication and management solution" within the University of Western Australia. Note that the example of the video and audio formats features the ability to have RSS syndication for podcasts.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
In hind sight, my prior educational experiences were a form of memorization of what was "taught" in lectures and in assigned readings that I would repeat back in the from of papers and tests that assessed my memorization of the material (not a whole lot of personal investment in that process, if you ask me). Based on what I've heard from fellow students over the years (Will this be on the test? How long does our paper have to be?), I don't think I am alone in believing that - for most students anyway - success in education lies in regurgitating a sufficient amount of teacher-spoon-fed information. Believe me, that formula got me through many years of school!
When I entered my first online course, I quickly realized that this formula for education was not going to work. I was going to have to expend a lot more effort "pulling" my education vs. having someone "push" it all to me. Within this process, I realized what it meant to make a personal investment in my education (more time seeking out information sources, more time spent in critical thought and evaluation, etc.). Without sounding too corny, like any investment, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Therefore, I think JT was too hard on herself in saying "maybe it's just my approaches . . ." that impact learners receptiveness to blogs and other exercises. Rather, I think what is required is a fundamental shift in how we all view education and the required personal investment (especially in online education). In the end, a blog is just a tool to enable personal investment. Making the tool available does not ensure its use. Like the ol' saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink". If we are stuck in a mindset of "tell me what I need to know", we will never see the need or value of making the personal investment in self directed educational activities, such as creating a blog. Such activities require a lot more time, critical thought and evaluation than simply memorizing what is "taught" by the teacher.
I face this "tell me what I need to know" mindset every time I tell people I am embarking on an online Masters program. Without exception, I get the "how do you attend lectures?" and "are your tests open book?" type questions. This just reinforces for me that we are all geared to the idea that education is what is pushed to us during lectures and what we are tested on in exams. In explaining how online classes work, I usually circle back to some form of discussion of the personal investment aspects of the program (the self directed assignments and projects). However, in the end, most people just leave the conversation with a very confused look and little appreciation for this "new-fangled" approach to education.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The RSS Feed for this Podcast is: http://designedtoinspire.castpost.com/feed/feed.xml
Click on the "play" button below to hear a podcast that describes this lesson. In this lesson you will:
- Learn about podcasting components
- Create your own podcast
- Explore uses of podcasting in online education
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Friday, November 18, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
LearningTimes.org - A Free, Open Professional Development Community for Education and Training Professionals
As I followed the author's links in this blog, I ended up at the author's somewhat parallel blog entitled Ponderance. Then (if all this isn't exciting enough!), I followed the path to the iGeneration blog for a course facilitated by the author this semester is Australia. The course utilized blogs and podcasts. I really enjoyed reading through the material. This should be fun (and inspiring) to follow in the future!
Monday, November 14, 2005
It would be very easy to say "no", as steps in the typical educational approach are not present (i.e. assessment and evaluation). However, in most cases, this just-in-time information from SMEs is how employees "learn" about new developments in their field and the tools used in their job. The linked article struck a chord with me as it commingles the concepts of learning and information sharing referring to it as a "new paradigm in e-learning". Is what they describe in the article really "new" and is it really "learning"? I can probably argue both sides . . .
Friday, November 11, 2005
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
Content (blogs, IM, pictures, music) and increased functionality (instant downloads, integration with other familiar applications) appear to have made a big difference from the first attempts at creating online communities. Likely the same holds true for online learning communities. The more learners feel comfortable and connected to the "community", the more they will be attracted to the online learning experience.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
- Provide free, searchable, access to MIT's course materials for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.
- Extend the reach and impact of MIT OCW and the "opencourseware" concept.
Per the mission statement:
"The vision of the MIT faculty who first developed the OCW concept at MIT was that one day, there would exist a vast network of universities around the world offering open access to high-quality educational materials in a variety of different disciplines, in a variety of different languages, creating a global Web of knowledge that will improve education around the world. So MIT is very pleased to be joined by other institutions around the globe in openly sharing educational materials as it helps us fulfill the second part of the OCW mission -- to extend the "opencourseware" concept to other leading universities. The collective body of high-quality educational materials made available by these institutions provides a remarkable free and open network of resources for educators, students, and self-learners everywhere."
Here is a list of other Opencourseware Projects.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Here are my "early works" from this summer!
Friday, October 28, 2005
- Interact privately 1:1, in 8 way videoconference rooms, 100 party channels or with iVisit Plus up to 15 others,
- Video conference, audio call, message and collaborate across both Windows and Mac platforms,
- Share pictures, videos, music, Powerpoint® presentations or any file format during voice calls or video conferences,
- Offer affordable video conferencing to your team, business, school or community
I'll keep testing it out and keep you posted . . .
Friday, October 21, 2005
- Quick link from tool bar (same as d)
- Ability to categorize (appears easier and more robust than d)
- Ability to set up RSS to your links (better than d?)
- Ability to add list of links to web site (did try it on d?)
- Great layout (d was "clunky" to me)
- Link sharing (haven't tried d to compare)
Thursday, October 20, 2005
A student in our online Facilitation class raised an interesting case for our forum discussion, including these case facts:
"I attended a class at Brand X University, a well known online university. This particular university had most everything asynchronously (no chats, no online classroom tool, etc.) Further, they used everything via Newsgroups (so much for the lesson saying this is a lessening method!) in Microsoft Outlook Express. There were a total of five newsgroups that were employed for each class, all viewable via Microsoft Outlook Express. I eventually withdrew from the class because the navigation among all those newsgroups was personally confusing and causing me to miss assignments and other items because of the overwhelming amount of information. While there was also issues with a rather user unfriendly instructor, my main issue was this style of asynchronous class.
As the consultant brought in the revamp Brand X University, you have been asked to propose how to revamp the way classes are delivered. The only restriction is that is has to remain asynchronous. What would you change and how would you change it? Or, if you think the newsgroup is a great idea, why would you not change?"
Based on the way the case is presented, it appears two things got in the way of learning in this class: (1) the technology and (2) the instructor. I have highlighted what I see to be the key aspects of both that must be addressed in this scenario:
- Type of technology: I'll start by assuming that this online university requires all learners to have broadband internet access. This seems to be a prerequisite in most US university level programs that I have seen and opens up a vast array of options - many that are available for little (or no) money. Therefore, it is far to limiting to utilize just a Newsgroup with all of the other choices (such as blogs, wikis and forum discussions). While including too many options at once would be an equally poor choice, selecting one or two options that improve content management and navigation is appropriate for a university level class.
- Content management: Learning and content management options should allow content to be easily added, retrieved and edited with simple navigation. While there is a learning curve to most new technologies, most readily available tools allow this flexibility.
- Navigation within platform: Also, in an online course, technology should be used to enhance students ability to communicate, not hinder it due to poor navigation as seems to be a major problem in this case.
Instructor: It has become evident to me that online instruction requires skills and attributes that may not be needed (or as important) in a traditional learning environment, including:
- Belief in Online Learning: An online instructor has to buy into the concept that online education can be successfully developed and delivered. If he (she) is transitioning from a traditional environment to an online setting with no plans to amend his (her) teaching approach, it is hard to envision success. Also, if the instructor is not cognizant and empathetic to the learning curve associated with online learning, he (she) may seem unfriendly and students may not engage. This may be a key problem in this case.
- Passion for Technology: While "passion" may be a strong requirement, it likely separates the great online instructors from the so-so instructors. Also, an online instructor has to buy into the concept that online education can be successfully developed and delivered. If he (she) is transitioning from a traditional environment to an online environment with no plans to amend his (her) teaching approach, it is hard to envision success.
- Understanding of Technology: It is one thing to believe in a concept and another to capitalize on it. The only way to capitalize on the advantages of online learning is to understand the best options available. From this case, it doesn't appear those setting up the program had a good understanding about the pros and cons of the existing and available choices.
Monday, October 17, 2005
As my interest level intensified, I made attempts (usually unsuccessful attempts) to download free open source CMS programs to my own web server. Given that I am completely "self taught" (with not a very knowledgeable teacher), I did a whole lot of trial and error (lots of error). As I don't know anything about programming terminology and just a little about reading / writing html, it was quite an effort. While most of the sites offer download "help" and forums (with quite active participation), I really don't know enough to know what I don't know or how to begin asking what I needed to know (that's a mouthful).
While I was successful in installing a few applications, I found out in the discussion areas that there is this slick little utility called Fantastico (part of the cPanel) that makes installing the supported programs a snap. Unfortunately, my current host (Yahoo!) does not utilize cPanel, so I went off to find a new host that does offer it. This turned out to be a good idea anyway, because there are a lot of good hosting options out there with a ton of available space and functionality for not much money at all. It seems the going rate is about $7.95 / month for mammoth amounts of space and I was paying about $20.00 / month down from about $35.00 / month earlier in the year . . . but I digress . . .
So, long story short, I found a new host (BlueHost.com) that supports Fantastico as part of cPanel and I spent the better part of the weekend trying out all sorts of blogs, wikis, discussion boards, and CMS platforms. After all that testing, I think I found one with a great mix of options, functionality, ease of use, ability for plugins, etc. called Drupal. I have found other review sites that rave about it, too. I have no experience with commercial CMS platforms, but here are some of my observations about Drupal as compared with the other free open source options:
- Functionality: A ton. I don't even know where to begin . . . I guess the most interesting aspects are the administration options, blogs for each registered user to your site, discussion forums, wiki like "books", RSS aggregator, RSS feed of your site and the list goes on . . .
- Ease of Use: While there is a learning curve with every new piece of technology, this one is VERY intuitive. They didn't come up with their own language for things, but named the modules what a "normal" person (non developer) would. So far, I have been able to figure out about 95% of what I tried to do - not bad at all!
- Aesthetics: This is where I was really sold. It is very simple with lots of white space and no annoying logo of the developer. In fact, I chose a template that doesn't have any reference to Drupal. Also, you can organize and move the content around in blocks as you desire.
While I am mainly just playing with the application at this point, I could see many uses in a business or educational setting. As I keep playing with it, I'll keep this blog up to date with my observations and thoughts for this tool in an educational setting.
p.s. This turned out to be a WAY longer narrative than I expected. Thanks to anyone who hung on to the end!
Sunday, October 16, 2005
- Run Time: 3 minutes is average segment time as it appears to be the max attention span of internet viewers - any less and you can't get your point across.
- Content: Stories came from sources around the internet - suggestions from viewers, his blog, searches, etc.
- Taping: The taping of the show appeared to be the LEAST involved part. Equipment was relatively inexpensive to buy and his "set" was a large map as a backdrop and a desk.
- "Reporters" and "Anchor": The news reporting was limited to a small group and read each day by the same anchor - not him, but a not-so-bad looking blonde (Amanda Congdon) - I guess in vlogging, looks count more than in traditional blogging : )
- Editing and Posting: The editing and posting appeared to be the MOST involved part (posting due to the need to save it under multiple file formats - video is not nearly as standardized as written word, pictures or music).
While I found Rocketboom to be a fun novelty of the internet (and quite well done), I really haven't kept up as a viewer nor have I tried vlogging on my own site. Even the creator was stumped when asked how it could be made into a commercial endeavor or how long he thought people would stay interested in his site.
I think vlogging will become just another feature to traditional blogs (pictures, music and now video) as more and more cell phones are sold with video capture capabilities and the advent of the new iPod with video playback capability. As more people have access to the capture and play technology, the more they will want to "do" something with it. Vlogs just may be the answer.
. . . and last, but not least . . . from an educational perspective, the video will enhance the value of all types of time shifted content. It is often more engaging to see moving content than to read it. However, quality production and editing is important in vlogging as we are all used to pretty slick video on TV. It would be hard to engage a learner with video that looks "homemade".
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
As discussed in Session 2 Content, web links are a valuable source of supplemental materials for online learning. As a student in an online course, I find the web links to be a highlight of the online learning experience. The following lists a few of the pros and cons of utilizing a web link as supplemental material:
- Adds Context: The web provides an opportunity to give the subject matter additional context.
- "Infinite" information source: Links thread learners to places well beyond the original link.
- Learning Community: An amazing aspect of the internet is that nearly all topics are explored and discussed by someone / somewhere. It is almost always possible to find and join and "community" that is interested in the same topic.
- Varied perspectives: The web provides a multitude of perspectives beyond the interpretation provided by the facilitator.
- Dead links: An obvious problem that can occur as hosted web pages are moved, deleted or amended can cause frustration and lack of confidence in the facilitator's credibility.
- Information Overload: The vast amount of information on the internet can be overwhelming to someone just learning about a topic. This makes it necessary for the "suggested" list of links to be well edited.
- Lose track of intended learning material: One thing leads to another and before long you aren't reading a topic that has anything to do with the original link.
- Questionable quality of content: There is no guarantee of content accuracy or quality on most web sites or blogs. This puts additional burden on the facilitator to chose the most "credible" sites.