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e-Learning Digest No 68 - Apr 10

A monthly digest of e-Learning news

Cloud created by:

Jim Ellis
15 April 2010

UK Conferences & Workshops  

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 JISC Conference

 This year’s JISC conference has just finished.  Find out what you missed, including Martin Bean’s opening plenary slides, in the virtual goody bag.

[JE]

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Call for Papers

A special edition of Athabasca’s IRRODL in Oct will focus on Connectivism: Design and delivery of social networked learning, edited jointly by George Siemens and Gráinne Conole.  Areas of emphasis will include emerging technologies, learning theory frameworks for digital learning, faculty development through distributed models, innovative pedagogical approaches and research on effectiveness and applicability of connectivism in various contexts.  A call for papers is open until the end of May.

[IRRODL]

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HE Funding Updates

University World News brings updates on HE funding cuts in the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia and Russia.  Interestingly, France and Taiwan currently plan no cuts, and South Korea intends to increase spending.

[University World News]

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LMS Patents

The Blackboard dispute over LMS/VLE patents may have recently reached a conclusion, but a number of LMS companies now find they are being sued by IPLearn, a group which periodically seems to file claims under the questionable Business Process Patent statue, a decade ago.  Elliott believes IPLearn may be on shaky ground.  For example, they claim invention of this from 1999: “A method and a system to teach a user a subject based on his questions.  The system allows the user to control his learning process, and helps to fill in gaps of misunderstanding in the subject.”  Gasp.  Does this mean we’ll have to pay royalties on ‘sitting with Nellie’?

[Elliott Masie]

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iPad

Parents of Year 8 pupils at Davison High School in Worthing are being asked to contribute to the costs of Apple iPads, which the school wants every Year 9 pupil to use in lessons as part of its new eLearning project, beginning in September.  In the letter, the school's deputy headteacher said: "As a technology college we believe in the power of electronic learning tools such as laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs and the difference they can make to achievement in school."

[JE]

Beginning this autumn, all new undergraduate students at Seton Hill University, Pennsylvania, will receive a 13" MacBook laptop and an iPad for classes and personal use, with the MacBook being replaced after two years.  So are these free?  Only if you ignore the $500 that’s been added to the tuition fees.

[Liz Mallet]

Memeo’s Connect Reader will allow users to download and natively view all of their Google Docs files on their iPads.  The application allows users of any Google Docs account to automatically download and store their Docs, which they can then view using the iPad’s document viewer that’s been integrated into Memeo’s app.  The viewer supports a range of popular formats, including Office, Apple’s iWork formats and docs created in Google’s online editor.

[TechCrunch]

Liza Daly reports some ‘issues’ with ePub on iPad but she concludes that “iBooks is pretty good for a first-generation ePub reader.  The biggest concern is of course that once you purchase books from iTunes, you’re locked in to only reading them in iBooks.”

[Ben Hawkridge]

International release of the iPad is being delayed until the end of May, with Apple accepting pre-orders on 10 May.  The company blamed demand for the device in the US, where 500,000 iPads were sold in the first week of its release.

[BBC]

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YouTube EDU

YouTube EDU was launched a year ago and now includes content from 300 colleges and universities (including OU View), spanning 10 countries and seven languages.  The collection has grown to 65,000 videos, including 350 full courses.  Auto-captioning allows the site to automatically translate any lectures spoken in English to other languages.  To compare with iTunes U , the Apple service has 600 university partners and “250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources”.

[TechCrunch]

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Age Profiles of Social Network Users

Pingdom has assembled some data on user age profiles for different social networking sites.  It seems that youngsters head for Bebo, whilst the silver surfers are on classmates.com, with the rest of us hovering somewhere in between.  George has rightly questioned the accuracy of some of the data and assumptions – surely the average age for Bebo can’t really be 28.4, and why isn’t the 18-24 online presence higher?

[George Siemens]

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Twitter for Learning

Having recently admitted to George Siemens that I don’t tweet (oh, the shame), I hope to find inspiration from Tony Karrer’s Twitter for Learning: 55 Great Articles

[Stephen Downes]

…and Jane’s How to Use Twitter for Social Learning.

[Jane Hart]

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that 60% of its registered accounts are from outside the US and HubSpot has analysed 9m Twitter profiles and discovered that accounts with a profile picture average about 10 times more followers than those without.

[TechCrunch]

Kathy Schrock has recently conducted a short survey on educators’ use of Twitter and discovered that 38% of respondents use it every day, mainly (87%) for professional rather than personal/family reasons.

[Stephen Downes]

Twitter has also just acquired Tweetie, a popular Twitter application for the iPhone.  The application will now be called “Twitter for iPhone” and will drop from $2.99 to free.

[TechCrunch]

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Common User Interface for Mobile Devices

IBM is working with two universities to explore the creation of an open, common user interface platform for mobile devices.  The software developed by IBM, the National Institute of Design of India in Bangalore, and the University of Tokyo's RCAST, the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, will be made available as open source.

[Campus Technology]

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The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future

Pew Internet has surveyed 895 internet experts and other internet users and found that 72% agreed with the statement: “by 2020, innovative forms of online cooperation will result in significantly more efficient and responsive governments, business, non-profits, and other mainstream institutions.”  Many respondents also elaborated with written explanations that expressed significant concerns over organization’s resistance to change.  The consensus among them was that businesses will transform themselves much more quickly than public and non-profit agencies

[George Siemens]

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Links Between Internet Use and Loneliness

A longitudinal survey of 754 people showed that, as web browsing increased from 2004 to 2005, their loneliness also tended to increase.  Increased forms of web communication, instant messaging, chat rooms and news groups (but not email) also went hand in hand with increased loneliness.  Finally, more web browsing over time was linked with reduced life satisfaction, whilst more non-email web communication over time was linked with reduced life satisfaction.  However, the researchers note that increased loneliness may well encourage people to spend more time online, rather than web time causing loneliness.

[British Psychological Society]

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Transforming American Education

George describes Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology as a “somewhat random mix of concepts that have been discussed in various blogs and forums over the last decade”.  It’s certainly scarily ambitious, with comments such as ‘revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering’ and ‘we must rethink basic assumptions and redesign our education system’.  With less than 2 years of this presidential term left, I shan’t hold my breath.

[George Siemens]

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eLearning in the Voluntary Sector

Towards Maturity has released a report on eLearning in the Voluntary Sector, based on a survey of 60 member organisations of the UK Charity Learning Consortium (CLC).  They report the top four benefits of adopting learning technologies as: improving flexibility of learning; improving access to learning; cutting costs; and increasing reach.  Over 60% of respondents are looking to increase their allocation of budget for eLearning.

[JE]

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Moodle Developments

Developers have released a prototype iPhone app for Moodle and are looking for feedback.  Also worth noting in this post is the description of the five steps involved in the development of the product.

[Stephen Downes]

US Moodle partner Remote-Learner has recently launched a number of Moodle enhancements including: a Learning Intelligence Suite for course management and reporting; integration with Adobe Connect to deliver synchronous web conferencing; open source video streaming using Kaltura; and support for the Mahara e-Portfolio system.  Also, Microsoft has just released an Office add-in for Moodle.

[JE]

Doug Hersh, Dean of educational programs and technology at Santa Barbara, has persuaded his college to move away from Blackboard to Moodle, which he has used to build a Human Presence Learning Environment.  Hersh believes the human touch is vital for maintaining online retention rates and he says Moodle was and is better able to support professors delivering lessons and messages using videos recorded with a Webcam.  It also shows students who among their instructors or classmates are logged into Skype in case they want to have a live, face-to-face conversation.  Students can also post audio responses to discussion threads.

[Stephen Downes]

Northampton College has integrated WriteOnline into its Moodle VLE.  WriteOnline is an online word-processor that anyone can use – with added tools including speech feedback, a text predictor, and integrated word banks.  Because it works inside the learning platform, users can also submit work directly.

[Keren Mills]

David Jones gives the elevator pitch for a curriculum mapping project in Moodle “…based around the idea that having alignment between the outcomes, etc, and the learning activities, resources and assessments within a course […] Well designed extensions to an LMS that encourage and enable improvement of course alignment will increase the quantity and quality of usage of the institutional LMS and subsequent student outcomes.”

[Stephen Downes]

The University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) has won a tender to host a Moodle-based VLE for the University of Exeter, replacing their current WebCT system.

[ALT]

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Autodesk Offers Free Game Development Curriculum

Autodesk has introduced Vehicle for Games, a free, 16-week web-based course with hands-on training for the entire game development pipeline, from concept art to creating an engine-ready asset.  The material is designed to be used with Autodesk products, including Maya and Mudbox, for which the company is offering downloadable student trial versions.  The course includes video tutorials, models, textures, concept art, and orthographic drawings that students can follow or use as guides to create their own vehicles with their own concepts.

[Campus Technology]

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Google Public Data Explorer

Google’s public data explorer is based on the 2009 OECD fact book, presented in a visual, dynamic and very user-friendly manner.  For example, try the animated scatter plot of hours worked versus life expectancy, or the bar chart of GDP per capita.

[Chris Hough]

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Free eBooks

More than 65,000 19th-century works of fiction from the British Library – including works by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy – are to be made available for free downloads by the public from this spring, as part of a project funded by Microsoft.

[Stephen Downes]

Terry Freedman has released a free ebook on Web 2.0 projects, comprising a compilation of Web 2.0 educational activities and technologies, their benefits, issues and solutions.  There are over 100 example projects, applications and resources from around 90 different contributors, but using a templated approach to aid consistency.

[Stephen Downes]

Others you might find useful (mostly from previous eLC digests) include…

And, from the US eLearning Guild: In Search of Learning Agility, plus a number of other e-learning ‘tips’ books, mainly containing member-generated advice and examples.

[JE]

The Project Gutenberg website provides access to 30,000 free ebooks in the ePub format and so viewable on the PC, iPad and other portable devices.

[Stephen Downes]

…and Librivox provides free public domain audio books, usually in mp3 or ogg format.

[Jane Hart]

I hereby define metastuff as ‘stuff about stuff’ and that neatly describes this rather niche contribution from Chris – a listing of over 310 English-language articles and other works relating to the evolution of Google Books and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it.

[Chris Pegler]

Finally, the British Library has added a further one million pages to its 19th Century Newspapers project, taking the total to over three million.  The project is freely accessible to UK colleges and universities through their own gateways.

[JISC]

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Scrolling and Attention

Research during the early days of the web showed that many users didn’t use vertical scroll bars and so page size and content placement were critical.  Users are now more savvy about looking for scroll bars and using them, but recent eye-tracking research from Jakob Nielsen shows that they still spend 80% of their time on a web page viewing ‘above the fold’.  He also found they spend twice as much time looking at the left hand side of a page than the right.

[Jakob Nielsen]

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Eduventures

As is the way in the wonderful world of hyperlinks, I discovered the Eduventures site via George Siemens and Tony Bates.  The Boston-based company offers “research and consulting for higher education” but appears to offer a range of useful free resources, including whitepapers and videos on learning and technology matters.

[JE]

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Free Fonts

If the various Windows fonts don’t quite cover all the bases for you, help is at hand via the (mostly) free fonts from Abstract Fonts, Better fonts, Fawnt, FFonts, FontGenie (for iPhone), myFontbook, MyFonts and Typekit.  Or you could create your own using Fontstruct or YourFonts.

[TechCrunch]

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Shorts

  • Palm is up for sale, having failed to keep pace with mobile device rivals such as Apple and BlackBerry.  [BBC]
  • Microsoft is offering a freely-downloadable 186-page book on features and enhancements in Office 2010.  [Stephen Downes]
  • The IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library offers nearly 60,000 free public-domain sheet-music downloads from 3,000 composers.  [JE]
  • The ALT open access repository contains around 400 papers relating to e-learning.  [ALT]
  • IBM filed the most US patents (3148) in 2007 and makes over $1bn annually through technology licensing.  [George Siemens]
  • Google has added a drawing tool to Google Docs, allowing users to quickly create flowcharts and diagrams.  [TechCrunch]
  • pptPlex from Microsoft Office Labs makes extra effects and features available for PowerPoint 2007 (Prezi, anyone…?)  [Stephen Downes]
  • Outcomes of recent consultation on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) have been announced.  [HEFCE]
  • Plans for a 50p/month super-fast broadband tax were scrapped in the pre-election scramble.  [BBC]
  • Issue 6 of Futurelab’s inspired magazine features a wide range of innovative assistive educational technologies.  [Keren Mills]
  • Dutch magazine SURF is available online in English, with a lead story about open educational resources in HE.  [ALT]
  • O2 has topped a poll of UK broadband providers, with AOL in last place.  [The Register]
  • Clark Aldrich believes simulations, distance learning, and social networking will enable the $1,000 MBA.  [Stephen Downes]
  • The University of Texas is closing its 12-year-old TeleCampus.  Over 16,000 students were recruited in 2008/9.  [Tony Bates]
  • Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll have just published Learning in 3D.  [Elliott Masie]
  • Saffron Interactive has made making its eLearning quiz tool freely available.  [JE]

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And Finally…

Still not sure about the potential of the iPad?  Take a look at this 45 sec video of the interactive Alice in Wonderland eBook.  Yes, it’s gimmicky, but so was colour television.

[Andrew Hedges]

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