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e-Learning Digest No 71 - Jul 10

A monthly digest of e-Learning news

Cloud created by:

Jim Ellis
13 July 2010

UK Conferences & Workshops

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Young Students Flock to OU

A quarter of new OU students are aged 17-25, a 36% increase on last year, according to this very positive article in The Guardian.  Tuition and accommodation fees plus the shortage of campus-based university places are regarded as significant factors in this trend.

[Pete Mitton]

Donald Clark picks up on this and weighs in with some passionate support for the OU and how it operates (“the single greatest education institution in the UK” … “What’s shameful is that other universities haven’t taken the model more seriously”).  Also interesting is some of the discussion that follows Donald’s post.

[JE]

Further positive commentary from the BBC on the OU being the first to reach 20 million downloads from iTunesU – that’s 8% of the 250 million worldwide total from all educational providers.  George Siemens wonders, “Does OU see a return on its investment in creating and sharing resources via iTunes?”  Answers on a postcard…

[Pete Mitton]

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Blackboard Buys Elluminate

If you can’t sue them, buy them?  Blackboard has announced that “Elluminate, Wimba, and Blackboard will join forces to bring together the leading technology products for synchronous learning and collaboration.”  The takeover cost Blackboard $116m and the new company will be called Blackboard Collaborate.  How’s the OU roadmap looking, Niall?

[Ross MacKenzie]

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UK Public Lukewarm on e-Readers

It’s sometimes difficult to urge caution over educational technology without appearing to be a Luddite.  For that reason, I’ve been quietly questioning whether we’re all getting a bit carried away with iPhones, Kindles, iPads and other cool devices.  Yes of course we have to investigate the possibilities and how we could deliver and support them at scale – but what does the typical student on the Clapham omnibus really want?

The Bookseller recently worked with consultancy The Next Big Thing to investigate how 3,000 British book-buying consumers engage with books.  Highlights include: only 26% of respondents had ever heard of a Kindle and only 41% knew what a Sony Reader was, although 60% had heard of the iPad.  A combined 70% said they were “unlikely” (36.8%) or would “definitely not” (32.3%) buy an e-reader in the coming year.

[Giles Clark]

On a similar theme, even if students are happy to use new technologies, there is a limit to their enthusiasm.  Brian Croxall reflects on his experiences of getting students to use Web 2.0 gizmos such as Google Docs, Twitter, Wave, Wikis and Zotero: mainly positive but beware of ‘tool fatigue’.  And, as Stephen notes, “you can't just take these new technologies and cram them into an old-word course.”

[Stephen Downes]

Perhaps Kno is the answer: an e-Reader developed specifically for the HE market.  An autumn release is planned and the twin-colour-screen wi-fi device will support Flash, HTML5, PDF and ePub formats.  The promo video suggests it’s worth looking out for, although no mention yet of price or battery life.

[Campus Technology]

WorldeBookFair.com claims to hold 3.5m eBooks that can be read or downloaded.  This is free until 4 Aug and then $8.95 per year thereafter.

[Stephen Downes]

But where would any eBook be without its animated ‘page-turn’?  Standby for pistols at dawn as Microsoft claims to own the patent.

[TechCrunch]

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Tablets to Become Dominant

Forecaster, Forrester Research, is predicting that tablet sales in the US will overtake netbook sales by 2012, and desktops by 2015.  They expect 3.5m tablets to be sold this year (although I note that iPad sales have already topped 2m), growing to 20.4m in 2015.  The predicted shape of the 2015 market is: 17% netbooks, 18% desktops, 23% tablets and 42% laptops.  No mention of e-Readers, so perhaps Forrester thinks they’ll have come and gone by 2015…?

[TechCrunch]

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Jeff Bezos's mission

Much like the OU of a few years ago, Amazon is discovering it’s no longer the only game in town.  They reported profits of $299m in the last quarter but the threat from Barnes & Noble and others has seen them reduce Kindle prices from $259 to $189.  Despite this, founder Jeff Bezos remain upbeat about new markets and different devices, as this CNN/Fortune interview shows.

[Giles Clark]

Amazon is to start selling new e-books that come embedded with audio and video.   It will also shortly offer a product called Kindle Previewer for HTML 5 that will allow readers to view samples of books directly from within a Web browser.

[Giles Clark]

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Digital Objects

The latest issue of Chicago’s First Monday journal is devoted to digital objects.  This includes a paper from LSE which seeks to, “…develop a theory of digital artefacts.  The venture assumes that digital technologies of all varieties and breeds share a limited set of qualities that places them apart from other non–digital devices and systems (paper–based) for managing information.”

[Stephen Downes]

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Google Maps

Now here’s a thing.  A group of programmers have written a program that takes London Underground source data to display animated real time (more or less) Underground train positions overlaid on a Google map, and then they give the code away.  Whatever happened to capitalism?

[Jonathan Fine]

Take a Google map and let people pin their historic photos to it.  That’s where Historypin comes in.  The site is still in beta but it’s a nice idea, currently let down only by the lack of photos – but I guess that’s where we come in…

[George Siemens]

Or, if you’re more into charts than maps, Tony reports that Google has been busy with those too, with additional support for compound and embedded charts, plus an API to render TeX formulae into web images.

[Tony Hirst]

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Google Guides

Richard Byrne has published a second edition of his Google Guide for Educators - 33 pages freely available online as a Flash book and covering topics such as Google custom search, bookmarks, sites, alerts, groups and calendars.

[Stephen Downes]

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An Introduction to Social Media

If you thought Ning, Jing and Dimdim were characters from the Mikado, you really need Jane Hart’s excellent Introduction to Social Media.  It not only explains and gives examples of numerous different tools but, being social, it also allows you to record your own experiences and ideas.

[Jane Hart]

Nobody does lists of lists quite like Jeff Cobb, and that includes his recent guest post from Karen Schweitzer, 20 Social Networks for Lifelong Learners.

[JE]

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RSAnimate

RSA has come up with a compelling series of animated videos.  Take some presentations by notable thought leaders – such as Dan Pink talking about drive, motivation and reward; or Prof Philip Zimbardo on the secret powers of time – and play the audio over a time-lapsed sequence of animated text and imagery of the key points.  Very well done and quite compelling.

[Chris Hough]

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US Online Study

A recent US study found that 27% of high school students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2009, up from 14% enrolled in 2008.  Online learning also appears to run in the family: students with a parent who had taken an online course were twice as likely to take or explore taking their own virtual course. And more parents than ever – 33% – reported having enrolled in an online course for work or pleasure.

[Education Week]

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Online University Data

The Online University Data site claims: “you won’t find fluff here: just quantitative data, facts, statistics, and information you need to choose the online college that’s right for you.”  That includes 17 Eye-popping Infographics on e-Learning and Online Education, 50 Online University Professors on Twitter Worth Following and an Open courseware: stats & facts visualization.

[JE]

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What Research has to Say for Practice

This ALT wiki page contains nine guides that relate e-learning research to practice.  Some familiar names here including Allison Littlejohn (learning objects), Agnes Kukuluska-Hulme (mobile devices), Gilly Salmon (online tutoring) and the sadly missed Robin Mason (web based course design).

[Stephen Downes]

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HTML5

Interest in HTML5 is now extending well beyond the programmer community.  For those newbies amongst you, it’s not just a newer version of current HTML – it will allow multimedia and greater interactivity to be built into sites without the need for separate apps and plugins.  Here’s a simple graphical summary (including a comparison with Flash), Microsoft has some demos on their IE9 test drive site and there’s a 50 min video overview from Google’s Brad Neuberg.

[Stephen Downes]

Google also offers its HTML5ROCKS site as the starting point for those seeking HTML5 information, tutorials and support. 

[Jonathan Fine]

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Sixty Symbols

The University of Nottingham’s sixty symbols site contains ‘videos about the symbols of physics and astronomy’, including a fascinating description of how to filter out the sound of vuvuzelas from our world cup commentary.  But if you also want to know about Hanny's Voorwerp or Schrödinger's Cat, these short videos are quite compelling.

[Chris Hough]

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Office 2010

There were over 9m downloads of the MS Office 2010 beta, but the full suite is now available, comprising: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access and OneNote.  OU staff and students can buy it via the ultimate steal for £49.99.  MS is also offering some free ‘how to…’ self-paced e-learning.

[JE]

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eLearning Journals

e-Taalim is an Arabic site (in English) which aims to spread information and awareness about using ICT and Media for lifelong learning in African and Arab countries.  One useful page contains an alphabetical list of (mostly free) eLearning journals.

[Stephen Downes]

The latest issue of in education is available online and includes inputs from George Siemens (Systemic changes in higher education) and an OU-foursome (How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work).

[George Siemens]

And Open Learning celebrates its 25th birthday with a freely available issue including papers by John Richardson (disabled student course completion) and Gráinne Conole (Web 2.0 for learning and teaching).

[OU Intranet]

Finally, via Stephen, an excellent list of educational technology, learning and psychology journals from Doug Holton’s EdTechDev blog.

[Stephen Downes]

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University of California vs Nature Magazine

The University of California has called time on its subscription to Nature magazine (and 66 others from the same stable) after its publisher announced plans to raise the cost of California's license for its journals by 400 percent next year.  The university is also encouraging academics to refrain from submitting or reviewing further papers and to resign from editorial boards.

[Tim Hunt]

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Shorts…

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And Finally…

When the government recently asked for our views on which unhelpful laws should be revised or repealed, I’m sure they had laudable aims in mind.  So I imagine they weren’t expecting suggestions to repeal the laws of thermodynamics (which will “enable our society to maintain order without the current energy costs that are otherwise required”), the laws of physics (“It was much simpler when time could not be slowed down by the presence of a large mass”), the offside law (“The current law is totally unworkable and it is every football players universal god given right to be able to hang about by the goal line and wait for the ball to be punted up to him”) and, of course, Murphy’s Law (“We've had enough of the bread landing butter-side down”).

[Slashdot]

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