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e-Learning Digest No 74 - Oct 10

Cloud created by:

Jim Ellis
15 October 2010

UK Conferences & Workshops  

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Wolverhampton Does CPLD

Wolverhampton has launched i-CD (intelligent career development) to provide “low-cost, flexibly-delivered, workplace-based, market-driven, fully-accredited, higher education.”  Each 5-credit unit costs £125 and lasts 10 weeks/50 hours, there are no formal entry requirements, units are roll-on/roll-off and a module of 4 units counts as 20 credits towards a degree or other award.  Students have access to a blog and PebblePad e-portfolio; groups of 15-20 students form virtual learning sets.

[Pete Mitton]

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Global Online Education

Guest article from Vivek Wadhwa (Berkeley, Duke, Harvard) on the globalisation of education.  More than 3m students travel outside their home country to study and about two thirds of these go to the US.  There are also now more than 160 ‘branch campuses’, mostly in the Middle East and Asia.

[TechCrunch]

The United Nations is to focus more strongly on higher education in developing countries, in response to increasing demands.  “Many lower income countries are now coming to grips with just how important higher education is as a motor for economic development and prosperity,” said Qian Tang, UNESCO's newly-appointed Assistant Director-General for Education.

[University World News]

The 27 Sep edition of University World News included a special report on Exporting Online Education, featuring articles on India (can online fill the shortage of physical places?), the US (the role of for-profit providers), Africa (high costs are keeping for-profit providers away), Mexico (increasing online students outside national borders) and a Q&A with Sir John Daniel (changing attitudes toward the sector and the good it can offer developing countries).

[University World News]

One serious restriction on eLearning in India is the lack of computers.  Devki Infonet aims to overcome this by moving into the franchising business, whereby communities of learners come together in one classroom, sharing one large screen.  The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India are now offering classes through Edyounet and have established 15 franchisees with an average of 20 students per centre.

[JE]

But, in a role-reversal, tutors in India are supporting UK maths students.  Brightspark provides online one-to-one tuition for students aged 7 to 16, from around £12 per hour, including unlimited online testing and access to past exam papers.

[Donald Clark]

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Online Degrees and Online Dropouts

The Times Higher believes the face of higher education will change for ever in 15 years and JISC reports that online degrees are taking off in the UK, helped by a push from government and increasing tuition (and living) costs.  Contributions in this press release include commentary from the OU’s Niall Sclater and Leicester’s Gilly Salmon.

[THE]

A new study by Kennesaw State University finds that students drop out of online classes at rates 15-20% higher than traditional ones.  Using undergraduates in a business course, professors experimented with: calling students at home; quizzing them on the syllabus; helping to steer them through the virtual classroom; encouraging them to develop personal connections with classmates; and breaking them into small groups for discussions and team projects.  Half the students got this extra attention and half didn't – and it made no difference to dropout rates. Thy repeated the experiment and got the same results.  “If someone was going to drop out of the class, they were going to drop out of the class,” says Stacy M. Campbell, assistant professor of management.

[Wired Campus]

The Gates Foundation has announced plans to spend up to $20m on the first phase of a new program aimed at harnessing technology to prepare students for college and get them to graduation.  Bill Gates suggested his foundation’s investment could swell to as much as $80m over the next four years, making it a major player in speeding up and shaping the already booming online education business.

[Wired Campus]

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How to Put Universities Out of Business

Robert Cosgrave writes on how to put universities out of business.  He looks at what they do (generate graduates), why they do it (to help employers filter potential recruits) and he then considers what would happen instead if universities didn’t exist.  It’s a bit simplistic (I always thought universities dabbled in a bit of research as well) but there is some food for thought.

[Stephen Downes]

Talking of food (I know, these links are priceless…) SHM consultant Paul Gillooly suggested at the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference that universities should be run more like supermarkets.  But David Staley, speaking at this week’s Educause conference, thinks universities should be run like Wikipedia.

[University World News]

And Jay Matthews thinks the world of education could learn a salutary lesson from the impact Netflix had on Blockbuster Video’s recent demise in the US.

[Stephen Downes]

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Clark on Browne

Donald Clark (when he’s not dripping cynicism) speaks a lot of sense on adult education matters, and is often a staunch supporter of the OU.  His seven suggestions for HE funding, offered in light of the Browne report, making interesting reading.

[Donald Clark]

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Social Media

Apparently, there’s much more to social media than your teenage kids telling all their mates that they’re “really fed up”.  Charities and social-good organisations have seen tangible benefits, such as Red Cross which used text messages to raise $5 million in relief funds for Haiti.  Mashable has put together five examples of trends for social good, plus commentary on how things might go in the future.

[Tim Seal]

Sarah Kessler makes the case for (and gives examples of) social media in schools, whilst Marcia Conner discusses Face to Facebook learning and Jane offers two useful tools – Hotseat and Mixable – that can be used to integrate Facebook, Twitter and learning.

[Jane Hart]

Times Higher Education article on the use of Social media in an academic context, including contributions from Martin Weller.

[Pete Howard]

A technology and mental health poll of 2,207 undergraduates at 40 US colleges reveals that social media do not always have positive effects.  For instance, 40% say they have at least 500 friends on Facebook but hardly interact with most of them.  About 90% said they used Facebook and sent text messages to friends in the previous week and 60% said that if someone failed to respond immediately, they puzzled over why.  About a quarter said they would be relieved if they shut off their cellphones and computers, while 57 percent said a social-media blackout would make them more stressed.

[Wired Campus]

And, as part of Project Unite, the OU Business School has launched its LinkedIn Group which is open to current students, staff, alumni and prospective students wishing to connect and network with like minded people.

[Hannah Beaman]

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The Wilderness Downtown

The Wilderness Downtown seems to have caught people’s attention: enter the name of the town in which you were born and it constructs a video story using a combination of boilerplate material, plus data from Google Maps and Street View, JavaScript and HTML5 (so avoid running in IE).  Find out much more about how Ricardo Cabello developed it all on his Mr Doob blog page.

[Tony Hirst]

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Virtual Choir

Conductor Eric Whitacre has assembled, conducted and recorded a virtual choir of 185 voices from 12 countries singing his own composition, Lux Aurumque.  Engineer Scott Haines mixed a total of 243 separate audio tracks to create this high quality 6-minute piece in a great demonstration of the power and reach of the Web.

[JE]

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University iPad Programs Get Mixed Response

Several universities have recently experimented with providing free iPads to students, with mixed early results now starting to emerge.  At George Fox University, Oregon, only 10% of freshmen opted for iPads, with 90% choosing MacBooks and this has made it hard for lecturers to integrate them more fully into the curriculum; limitations on iPad multi-tasking and printing have also caused problems.  Seton Hill University has rolled out iPads plus an e-book app called Inkling which allows students to access interactive graphics and add notes as they read along; faculty members can access the students' marginalia to see whether they understand the text and they can also remotely receive and answer questions from students in real time.

[Wired Campus]

If you like everything about the iPad except touch-screen typing, try TyPad  - a $130 wrap-case with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard, good for 90hrs of typing from one charge.

[CNET]

You might like to check out the iPad competition.  This 9 minute video of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is not particularly exciting but it does provide a comprehensive run through of numerous features and apps.  Shipments are planned to start on 1 Nov and Amazon’s pre-order price is £599.  Also shown at last week’s CEATEC 2010 show was Toshiba’s new £350, 10” Android Folio 100 tablet.

[TechCrunch]

Or you could wait for the dual-14”-screen Kno, estimated to ship towards the end of 2010, priced at around $1000.  There are also now rumours of a cheaper single-screen version aimed at students.

[Ross MacKenzie]

Bargain basement?  £73 buys you this Chinese 7” touch-screen Android tablet with wifi, USB port, Chrome lite browser, G-sensor and support for Office, eBooks, audio and video.  There’s no camera, no 3G and a just 2½ hr battery life – but you can fill five Christmas stockings for less than the cost of an iPad.

[JE]

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Effective Assessment in a Digital Age

JISC’s new guide Effective Assessment in a Digital Age demonstrates how technology can significantly improve the experience of assessment and feedback.  “Why do we still insist that students, who mostly use technologies such as laptops and mobile phones when researching their assignments, sit down with pen and paper and write long essays when they are assessed?” asks Ros Smith, the author of the guide.

[Stephen Downes]

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eBooks

Barnes & Noble has released some intriguing facts and figures showing that they currently offer over 1m eBook titles and have 20% of the US trade eBook market.  The company plans to increase this to 25% ($1bn revenue) by 2013.

[TechCrunch]

The US Shuttleworth Foundation has launched Yoza, the new space for short, free, interactive cellphone stories also known as m-novels.  User can read them, leave comments on the chapters and enter the writing competitions to win airtime.  Each main story is a series, with new chapters published daily.

[eLearning Guild]

This free PDF from Elliott contains 40 topical perspectives on learning from organisations such as Intel, Google, Oracle and Lockheed Martin.  The book is a taster for his Learning 2010 conference later this month.

[Elliott Masie]

The £99 500EB from Elonex is an eReader with a 5” (non-touch) colour screen, support for MP3, video and HTML, 2GB memory and free access to 1m+ titles via Elonex’s new Freebook service.  I also stumbled across this link on the Elonex site to a 21Mb zip file containing 100 full books in HTML and TXT format ranging from Alice’s Adventures through to War and Peace.

[JE]

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Jane Austen Manuscripts

A team from Oxford and Kings College has put together an online collection of Jane Austen Manuscripts.  The aim was to “to create a digital resource reuniting all the known holograph surviving manuscripts of Austen's fiction in an unprecedented virtual collection [and] to provide for the first time full descriptions of, transcriptions of, analysis of, and commentary on the manuscripts in the archive, including details of erasures, handwriting, paper quality, watermarks, ink, binding structures, and any ancillary materials held with the holographs as aspects of their physical integrity or provenance.”

[Stephen Downes]

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Open Education

Stian Håklev has posted his MA thesis on open educational resources in China, taking not just a pedagogic perspective but also considering cultural differences between China, Europe and N America.  And De Montfort’s Richard Hall has written a paper with Lincoln University’s Joss Winn on The relationships between technology and open education in the development of a resilient higher education.

[Stephen Downes]

In two posts on the OpenCourseware Consortium site, NIXTY’s Glen Moriarty considers what options are available for credit and certification with OERs and Jan Philipp Schmidt asks, Can the open web provide the future of assessment?  And US government policy adviser Hal Plotkin has just released Free to Learn: An Open Educational Resources Policy Development Guidebook as a creative commons download.

[Stephen Downes]

The foundation behind Sakai and Learning Environment has announced that it intends to pursue a merger with another open-software group active in higher education, the Jasig organization.

[Wired Campus]

Peoples’ University uses OERs and volunteer tutors to provide low-cost online learning, mainly in public health.  So far they've run three programmes with about 100 students each time.  Each module costs £30, but the site accepts donations which allows it to enrol some students at no charge.

[Stephen Downes]

JISC is trying to encourage the sector to share more and has run a competition via the JORUM repository.  Winning resources included material on photosynthesis, dementia and creativity.

[JE]

…but is MIT having second thoughts and about to move its open content behind a pay wall?

[Giles Clark]

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The Bookless Library

The University of Texas, San Antonio's Applied Engineering and Technology Library has gone soft – its on-site book collection is now only available electronically.  Students who stretch out in the library's ample study spaces and log on to its resource network will be able to access 425,000 e-books and 18,000 electronic journal articles.  Librarians are available for consultations.

[JE]

Meanwhile, the US may be moving one step closer to creating a national digital library.

[Wired Campus]

And JISC has released for comment a draft paper on e-Journal Archiving Policy and Strategy for UK HE libraries.

[Stephen Downes]

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Mobile Learning

Google Labs have released a beta version of a new Mobile Learning Creation tool called Breadcrumb which allows users “to create a variety of mobile learning applications and allows you to make your application work with only three additions to plain text. Infinitely scalable, easy to create, and readable on Internet-enabled smart-phones or computers, Breadcrumb gives you maximum output for the development time.”

[Elliott Masie]

You may also be interested in a special issue of Open Learning, focussing on Mobile learning: using portable technologies to create new learning, with a guest editorial by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme.

[Keren Mills]

PC World has compared six Android browsers, finding version 2.2 of the stock browser pretty fast, but Skyfire 2.0 is even better.

[Engadget]

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e-Learning Debate

Epic hosted their annual e-learning debate at the Oxford Union on the motion, “this house believes that technology-based informal learning is more style than substance.”  Speaking for the motion were Allison Rossett, Nancy Lewis and Mark Doughty, those against were William Dutton, Jay Cross and David Wilson.  The motion was defeated by a convincing 259 votes to 54 on the day, but the discussion and voting continues online.

[JE]

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Virtual Worlds

IBM has launched CityOne – a “smarter planet” business simulation which gives participants the opportunity to tackle crisis scenarios by exploring 100 real-world scenarios to transform cities through technologies that reduce traffic congestion, save water, streamline supply chains, and tap alternative energy sources.

[Campus Technology]

Ener Hax posts on her experiences of running OpenSim from a USB stick, thanks to some useful video tutorials from Roger Stack.

[Stephen Downes]

And SecondLife is dropping its educational discount from the end of this year. 

[Wired Campus]

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Tag Clouds

You may already have used Wordle to create tag clouds, but now you can also generate tag pictures using Tagxedo.

[Stephen Downes]

Or if you fancy a rotating 3D Flash tag sphere for WordPress, try WP-Cumulus.  A live example can be found on David Warlick’s blog page and, while you’re there, you might want to check out his new book, a Gardener’s Approach to Learning.

[Tim Seal]

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Shorts

  • Turnitin has release Ver 2 of its anti-plagiarism software with improved features and usability.  [Campus Technology]
  • The efronters blog page contains a useful list of around 30 free books on various eLearning topics
  • …the Curriki blog lists 20 free educational video sites
  • …and T3 offer a selection of their best free iPad apps, or iPhone, or Android apps.  [JE]
  • Microsoft’s Learning Content Development System is a free tool for creating SCORM e-learning content.  [Stephen Downes]
  • Google Apps is now in use with 30 million employees worldwide.  [TechCrunch]
  • Microsoft has improved functionality in its Office Web Apps and widened native language support.  [Campus Technology]
  • Babbel has improved its language tuition iPhone apps, now with speech recognition for 7 languages.  [Babbel]
  • The Manchester City iPhone app contains 50 tips, skills and drills, plus videos of coaching and demos.  [T3]
  • Just as some of us are getting used to Office Communicator, along comes MS Lync.  [eLearning Guild]
  • Blackboard is about to offer its first set of online courses, aimed at remedial training in US community colleges.  [Wired Campus]
  • A move from BIOS to UEFI should mean PCs bought from 2011 onwards could start up in just seconds.  [BBC]
  • How to cite an eBook … just in case you ever wondered.  [Andrew Hedges]
  • OpenOffice has split from Oracle and formed a new structure called The Document Foundation.  [Campus Technology]

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And Finally…

My “this country’s going raving mad” award of the month goes to pet microchip company Anibase.  Dave Moorehouse had his Jack Russell terrier microchipped before it was stolen, but Anibase is forbidden by the Data Protection Act from divulging the dog’s new location and keeper.

Never mind.  Cheer yourself up with a shiny new iPad Etch-a-Sketch case, or just while away a few aimless minutes with the rather compelling Incredibox.

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